Friday, September 19, 2008

Both US Capitalist Parties Support Escalating the War Against Afghanistan

Both capitalist parties support escalation

Bush shifts troops to Afghanistan from Iraq

By Deirdre Griswold
Published Sep 18, 2008 9:53 PM

A major escalation of the brutal U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan is now underway.

The high-tech, seemingly random bombing of Afghan villages has increased, along with the number of invading foreign soldiers killed. By the beginning of September, more U.S. and British troops had been killed in Afghanistan in 2008 than in all of last year.

The Pentagon continues to say that its bombs killed “only” five civilians on Aug. 21 in the village of Nawabad. But the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says it found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men.

This was confirmed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is not only an ally of Washington but owes his office to the U.S. invasion. Karzai said in the aftermath of the attack that he wanted to renegotiate the agreement regulating the status of U.S. forces in the country. His statement is a clear sign that popular outrage among the Afghan people over U.S. atrocities has reached the boiling point.

A revealing note: The bombing occurred after U.S. Special Forces attacked Nawabad from the ground and then called in air strikes. Accompanying them was former Lt. Col. Oliver North, notorious for his role in the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan administration. North now works for Fox News and is a darling of the ultraright. (Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 29)

So what is the reaction in Washington to the growing anger over the U.S. role in Afghanistan?

President George W. Bush announced on Sept. 9, in a speech to the National Defense University, that he was sending at least 5,000 more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan. The only criticism from the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket is that even more troops should be sent.

According to a Sept. 15 Pentagon announcement, a Marine air-ground task force, including the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, will go to Afghanistan in November to replace the two Marine units there now. In addition, the Army’s 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division—based at Fort Drum, N.Y., and numbering up to 3,700 soldiers—will head to Afghanistan in January, rather than to Iraq as initially planned. (Washington Post, Sept. 16)

Bush’s announcement of the escalation came as the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, was testifying before a House committee that the Pentagon was overhauling its strategy in the area to cover both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan; I am convinced we can,” he said, trying to get even more money from Congress for the war.

Mullen’s testimony confirmed what press reports had been saying: that Bush in July gave the Pentagon the go-ahead to carry the war into Pakistan—without even notifying the new government there. Mass demonstrations in Pakistan swept out the military ruler long favored by the U.S., Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Next came news from Pakistan that U.S. helicopters had invaded on Sept. 15 and been repulsed.

A Pakistani official said that “American troops had tried to land in South Waziristan at a town called Angoor Adda, in a mountainous region with thick forest on the border with Afghanistan.

“‘Two Chinooks tried to land last night between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m.,’ the official said. They were fired upon by Pakistani troops, forcing the helicopters to return to the Afghan side of the border.

“The official said that locals, incensed at American incursions, also fired on the helicopters. ‘Our forces fired at them and seeing this, the local people also came out and started shooting,’ the official said.” (New York Times, Sept. 16)

The Pentagon, of course, denied it had violated Pakistan’s sovereign territory.

According to Bush himself, in his Sept. 9 speech, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has increased “from less than 21,000 two years ago to nearly 31,000 today. The number of coalition troops—including NATO troops—increased from about 20,000 to about 31,000.” They are there, he says, “to protect the innocent. Regrettably, there will be times when our pursuit of the enemy will result in accidental civilian deaths.” It wasn’t much of an apology and didn’t satisfy anyone.

Bush also talked about all the great things the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan helping communities “fight corruption” and aiding development in “areas like health and infrastructure.”

Given the toxic track record of the Bush administration on corruption, lack of health care and a crumbling infrastructure in the U.S. itself, can anyone really believe that Washington has sent troops all the way to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes?

The U.S. government is, however, putting up money to cultivate and protect a small elite in Afghanistan who will supposedly be loyal to their even richer imperialist masters. A luxury gated community is being built in Kandahar, near a large NATO air base, with the help of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency.

While even dwellers in the Afghan capital of Kabul have no electricity, paved roads or clean water most of the time, residents of the “upmarket residential community” of Aino Mina in Kandahar can get “an eight-bedroom villa with a pool, wraparound deck and balcony supported by doric columns.” Also within the community’s gates are “two private schools, football fields, playgrounds and private armed guards on duty 24 hours a day. A hospital, supermarket, pizza parlor and golf course are also planned.” (British Guardian, Sept. 12)

Mahmoud Karzai, brother of the president, is “the driving force behind the project,” says the Guardian. Karzai explains the war as “a clash between people who want a better life and those fighting any attempt at progress” and says Aino Mina represents “modernization.”

However, some of these wealthy Afghans are leaving, out of fear of the Taliban.

A Taliban representative “said his group opposed development because Karzai and the other investors were using government influence to enrich themselves.

“‘This is the land of the people,’ Qari Yousef Ahmadi said in a telephone interview. ‘The brother of Karzai is using it to serve his own interests and the interests of his friends.’”

The article doesn’t say what a home in this luxury development costs. The average yearly income of an Afghan family is between $300 and $400. The average salary for a U.S. civilian contractor working there is $148,000. (

Some 100 Afghans have returned home this year after being released from the U.S. base at Guantánamo, where they were tortured. One of them, Mohammed Umr, says: “No one here likes the Americans. In the provinces there are civilians being killed for nothing. There is chaos, violence, tyranny. This is enough to make even an ordinary person furious. Imagine how someone who has suffered for years in prison feels.” (The Observer, Sept. 14)
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