Afghanistan: Heading Into Disaster 63


I seem unable to switch on a news channel nowadays without seeing a caption announcing the death of another poor young British soldier in Afghanistan. NATO has in June so far lost and average of precisely 3 soldiers killed every day, with a multiple of that injured.

Two events yesterday highlighted the deterioration in the NATO position. A Blackhawk helicopter was taken down, indicating that the Afghan resistance have regained access to effective missiles, while a 50 truck supply convoy was attacked and destroyed in Pakistan – not in Waziristan, but just outside Islamabad. That is perhaps the most significant news of all.

Afghans themselves are of course suffering much more than NATO,

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/10/afghanistan-kandahar-wedding-party-explosion

All of this to maintain in power the fraudster Karzai and the gang of heroin warlords who make up his government, and promote the “Northern Alliance” tribes who comprise the laughably named “Afghan National Army” against the Pashtuns.

By my calculation, this month Afghanistan overtakes Vietnam as the United States’ longest running war. I haven’t seen that referenced anywhere, so grateful for views on that. The international consequences of this war are still more disastrous, while there is no reason to believe it will be militarily more succesful. The attempt to impose by brute military force an alien ideology on the Afghan people, is doomed to failure.


63 thoughts on “Afghanistan: Heading Into Disaster

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  • nobody

    It’s doomed to failure you say? Of course. The people in charge of this bunfight know that perfectly well. Afghanistan can’t be won and everyone knows it. It didn’t stop them though did it?

    Given that Bin Laden was a CIA agent all along; given that he died in November 2001; given the absurdity of a story about a bunch of fundamentalists in Afghanistan breaching the uber-defended headquarters of the greatest military force the world has ever seen; given that this current war against Muslims has helped Muslims not a whit, but rather funded and empowered the very people they attacked; given all of that, the only question that remains is why was Afghanistan invaded?

    Oil, you say? Hmm… well these things are measureable. In the last ten years, which has made more money – oil or smack? Not forgetting precedent – the British army invaded China specifically so that David Sassoon could flood China with opium. They were called the Opium Wars I seem to recall.

    Okay so why not call these the Heroin Wars? Not forgetting that Afghanistan isn’t actually the target. It’s merely the means. My best guess is that the target is Russia. And maybe China again?

    Anyway if smack is the objective, I imagine the people who organised this caper would laugh at you for declaring it a disaster. It’s no such thing.

  • nobody

    Sorry, I forgot to insert the word ‘allegedly’. The above sentence should read “funded and empowered the very people they allegedly attacked”.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Given that Bin Laden was a CIA agent all along …”

    So many years later – to believe this on the basis of absolutely zero evidence is just silly. It’s bizarre wishful thinking.

  • AlexNo

    I had the impression the Blackhawk was hit by a lucky shot from an RPG, while it was (foolishly) hovering stationary. That’s what the Taliban said, anyway. It is not evidence of new missiles.

    That said, Obama’s surge has evidently come to a complete halt. The first round was a failure. The second round seems to being delayed all the time. I wonder why.

  • Iain Orr

    Craig – first congratulations on your early start to the day. Does Cameron – son not PM – help that discipline? I can’t help directly with the comparative longevity of war in Afghanistan and Vietnam, but recall that there was much media comment when the war in Iraq had lasted longer than WWII.

    However, the latter comparison is a reminder that the chronology of each war usually differs for each participant (China had a longer WWII than the UK, USSR or USA). In any case, there is a conceptual gulf between wars between fully-functioning states (mostly the pattern for WWI and WWII) and wars that mainly take place in the territory of one state. It is often divided, with the effectiveness/ legitimacy of its government disputed on practical/ ideological grounds.

    There’s the added problem that military activity in Afghanistan is often explained as part of the global battlefield of the “War on Terror”.

    So, why compare the longevity of radically different types of military/ resistance/ terrorist actions, often taking place in towns and cities rather on the windy plains of Troy? (However, mechanical drones add a non-human technological component surely alter the concept of “brave American troops in battle”.)

    Such comparisons do, however, highlight the inadequacies or ambiguities of the language used to debate the issues. It’s a mad (or sane) world my masters when a former editor of the Times can argue in The Guardian (Comment is Free website 8 June) that the best way to deal with our fiscal deficit would be to reduce the Defence budget to zero.

    Such Swiftian polemics should at least suggest we question national and multilateral strategies that treat “our brave soldiers” – and even braver Afghan civilians with no protective clothing – as Saturnine fodder for wars with undefined boundaries and objectives.

    But your website is not the place for this debate. It needs to engage UK politicians, military leaders and the public. Can I suggest that you use your skills as a diplomat and journalist to persuade an authoritative part of the media to sponsor a serious debate on the UK’s role in Afghanistan (and as an ally of the USA) with rules of engagement [ringside judges to say whether blows were cleanly struck?] that force participants to make explicit their own assumptions and special interests, such as political advantage within their own party? Some serious devil’s advocacy (thank you, BBC Radio 4) is also called for.

  • Gill

    The only mention of Vietnam I saw was on Michael Moore’s twitter stream:

    Congrats to U.S. War in Afghanistan, which beat out Vietnam today, 6/7/10, to become America’s longest war ever! http://mmflint.me/d6QWz7

    @MMFLINT 7th June 17.43

  • Bert

    Craig,

    Note also the nefarious business of private security companies operating in Afghanistan. See the NYT article here:

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/35jrx77

    A book I’d recommend is ‘Invisible History:Afghanistan’s Untold Story’ by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould. (See here:

    http://www.invisiblehistory.com/ )

    Plenty of ‘evidence’ is in the book, by this dedicated husband & wife research team who know Afghanistan more than most…

  • Iain Orr

    Craig – a postscript to my earlier blog. I should have added a reference to the forthcomoing Strategic Defence Review, which must take policy on Afghanistan apart and then put it together again. Maybe this is the moment for Afghan bloggers of the world to unite – see the Afghan section of Brian Barder’s Open Letter Part 2 to Harriet Harman. (Diane Abbot should be able to make David Miliband defend his vapid “Next Labour” bid with enough cliches to make sure that the country is at least not saddled with him as Leader of the Opposition.)

  • Arsalan

    Maybe ‘Nobody’ is right and all this has more to do with Smack than oil?

    Considering the invasion took place soon after the Taliban stopped opium production in all lands they controlled cutting it by 95%. And soon after the invasion Opium production was at higher rates than it had ever been.

    The CIA has always obtained massive funding from drugs and used them for ever purpose.

    Knowing that the opium wars happened when China had massive exports to the west and imported nothing at all causing economic crises in America and Europe.

    Give that china again exports a lot and imports little.

    Is all this about exporting smack to china?

  • Ishmael

    The attack on the convoy was sophisticated, and shows a level of sophistication the Taliban should not possess. I suspect an other nation training them in effective tactics. One article (BBC) even suggested the attack was nothing as it was mainly food, and the guns go in by air. Yeah, they can eat the guns so no need to worry. Attacking the supply lines is effective. The Russians did it by stretching and attacking it during WW2.

  • ingo

    Slighly far fetched Arsalan, although factions in the CIA and US forces in general have always dabbled in drug smuggling when it suited to boost their secret operation funds and they did start in Helmand the main opium producing area.

    Apparently black ops are on the up under hard pressed Obummer and all this frustration and inability to shut oilwells have to be let out somewhwere.

    This wedding party ‘bombing’ needs a closer look.

    The bomb? exploded in a place were people of that village gathered and which was part of that village and its defense scheme, promoted by the US in the past.

    But now the given policy has changed again and they want to ‘clean kandahar’ from the Taliban, but how do you explain this to the locals and make it crystal clear that the taliban is a local problem and a risk to all?

    This village was self protected and to smuggle in an IED, dig it in and wait somehwere until the proceeding started to blow them all up sounds far fetched.

    What sound more likely is that a predator drone hit this place, or a laser guided device of sorts, upping the anti in Kandahar.

    This will show the locals how much to fear the Taliban and how much they need the yanks to sort it out.

    An option that should not be excluded.

  • Redders

    Perhaps along with the seemingly unstoppable tide of drugs from Mexico into the US it’s time legalisation was considered as a means of drug control. If nothing else, street crime is likely to plummet and tax revenues can be generated from sales. We simply can’t seem to get control of this problem by constantly battling it so why not try something different. And yes, I have two children I wouldn’t want anywhere near the damn stuff but if they are persuaded to start using it by the wrong people then they are probably f**ked anyway, running the additional risk of HIV, Hepatitis, cutting agents like cement dust used and the use of it to encourage prostitution, another thing we ought to start legalising so we can control it.

    I’m talking as if I like control, I don’t but drugs are a real threat to society and no matter how much we burn or confiscate the price continues to drop as demand increases. A sure sign we are losing the battle.

  • Paul Johnston

    Re: Indigo

    One report is that it was a suicide bomb so there is no need to sneak the bomb in and dig it in, more walk in and light blue touch paper. If you can get one into a meeting of CIA operatives I would have thought a wedding would be a lot easier!

    Also as to needing (I assume you mean Iran) outside training, tactics evolve and the whole point of this post is to show how long they have had to learn.

  • ingo

    Redders, well said. Unless we decriminalise, set out a regime on how to franchise, educate and regulate durgs and then legalise it, we will only see ever wider use of drugs.

    The statistsics for the worst two drugs are horrific, but they are accepted by the general publicas normal, they are legal, but cost us billions each year.

    Alcohol and nicotine show how hypocritic we have become. We do not want to see the effects every weekend in A&E’s, we do not recognise the 30.000+ death due to alcohol and similar for nicotine, the lifelong needs for some to attend the NHS for related illnesses.

    The exchequer could add 14 billion to its coffers and have a better control and clue about drugs. Thing is,

    what are the tabloids going to write about in future when the loose their best beating boy?

    legalising is the harder decision to make, prohibition is a cop out, wiping it off the table, that is soo stupid as it perpetuates the myth about drugs.

    We all take drugs every day, unless nobody isdrinking tea and coffee, but the hypocrisy has created its own dynamic and problems.

    The UN has recognised it last year and said that the prohibition and its measures are cuaisng more harm to people than the drugs themselves, that should give you a hint as to what is going on.

  • JimmyGiro

    It makes me wonder that Obambi’s latest anti-British bluster over the BP spillage, is a thinly cloaked warning to the new British government: to not get complacent, or feel safe enough to go your own way; daddy still has the big stick for naughty boys and girls.

    If Britain pulls out of Afganistan, Obambi kills a kitten.

    _____________________

    “The attempt to impose by brute military force an alien ideology on the Afghan people, is doomed to failure.”

    Indeed, they should use a state sponsored propaganda machine, like the BBC; they should indoctrinate the children by removing them from mummy and daddy, like our social services do; and they should instigate laws forbidding self defence, whilst arming the state police to the gills, and encouraging secret denouncement of imaginary crimes against women and children.

    It works for me… almost.

    :))

  • ingo

    I have heard the report of a suicide bomb as well and have not discounted it.

    The Taliban also has a good motive to show it can hit everyone, even those who are allowed to protect themselves under a US scheme.

    Wedding parties are always large affairs were people from outside the family clans come into villages, the easiest legitamite way of getting into compounds, people who are mediating for weddings, who arrange for cakes and services and music are enbracing each other, are not frisked and seen as pseudo family, a win win situation for the Taliban.

  • technicolour

    Ingo: who are the ‘Taliban’? And who were the people who killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, with the same tactic?

    Otherwise, CIA involvement in opium; yes.

  • BP

    You people can moan all you like but national interests must come first. Here in Scotland for example, heroin has never been so cheap!

  • angrysoba

    “By my calculation, this month Afghanistan overtakes Vietnam as the United States’ longest running war. I haven’t seen that referenced anywhere, so grateful for views on that.”

    Well, I vote for the Korean War as the US’ longest running one. Granted it was a “UN Police Action” but the majority of the UN’s force was the US military and while there has been an armistice, to paraphrase Gerry Addams it hasn’t gone away y’know.

  • Arsalan

    technicolour

    There really is no “the Taliban”.

    It isn’t a single organisation with a single leader and command structure as it is make themselves out to be and their enemies make them out to be.

    Now the term is used to refer to the Afghan resistance. Anyone who fights the occupiers and their puppets.

    Most of what they call taliban consists of loosely connected militias. And the bulk consists of people who have nothing to do with any group or organisation, simple farmers, who take pope shoots or plant IEDs in the way of foreign soldiers whenever they get the opportunity.

    So the are undefetable, because there is no one to defeat. There is no standing army, to exterminate. Just peasants who pick up guns whenever they feel like it, and return to farming when they don’t.

    Even the people who have joined the so called Afghan Army or Afghan police force, have a tendency, “become Taliaban” and shoot the foreign invaders. They join the puppet army for food, not beliefs, so once their hunger gets quenched they turn taliban again, and may rejoin the puppet army when hunger demands it.

    The foreign occupiers know this, that is way the Puppet Hamid Karzia is guarded by American soldiers instead of Afghans. There isn’t a single afghan, including Hamid Karzia immediate family who wouldn’t kill him if given half the chance.

  • DougtheDug

    I think there was a strategy at the beginning of the war. Afghanistan is situated in a very important place bordering Iran to the west, Pakistan and China to the East and the Central Asian states to the North and just south of Russia. It has strategic importance to the US.

    There is a huge amount of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea basin to the north and west in the Central Asian states and in Iran and the US hates Iran, distrusts China and wants influence in Central Asia with its oil reserves.

    However the whole thing’s gone to rats for the US as the resurgent Taliban continue to fight and to destablise the US ally of Pakistan in the east.

    I’m more inclined to the cock-up theory. The US went in to gain a strategic foothold in Central Asia but now they can’t subdue the country and they can’t get out because they’re locked into their, “War on Terror”, rhetoric and because it still has strategic importance to them. The only point to note about “failure” is that the US is not losing a huge number of troops and it militarily controls Afghanistan in its strategic Central Asian location.

    What the UK’s doing there apart from as a US lapdog is anyone’s guess.

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