Tuesday, January 31, 2012

As Afghanistan Soldiers Rebel U.S.-led 'Coalition' Shows Cracks

As Afghan soldiers rebel U.S.-led ‘coalition’ shows cracks

By Deirdre Griswold
Published Jan 29, 2012 6:28 PM

It was more than 10 years ago — Oct. 7, 2001, to be precise — that the Bush administration first sent troops to Afghanistan, in what it called Operation Enduring Freedom. The name was cooked up by whoever in the Pentagon comes up with such euphemisms. The only thing that has endured is war, brutal and destructive.

In fact, by June 2010 the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan had become the longest war in U.S. history.

And unless the Obama administration abandons the ambitions of the U.S. ruling class to subdue the Afghan people and turn their country into a strategic stepping stone to exploit Central and Southwest Asia, the war will go on indefinitely.

But perhaps not with what the U.S. government calls its “coalition partners” — other imperialist countries in NATO that agreed to send forces to bolster the U.S. troops there.

Every war waged by imperialist “allies” involves secret promises to share the spoils of war once they have won. But when victory is called into question, these alliances become shaky.

Right now, it is France that may be contemplating leaving the “coalition” and withdrawing its troops. There is an immediate reason: the killing of four French soldiers and the wounding of 15 others on Jan. 20 by just one soldier of the Afghan armed forces, supposed allies of the imperialists.

Just weeks earlier, two members of the French Foreign Legion had been killed, also by an Afghan soldier.

After the latest attack, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France was suspending its military mission in Afghanistan, which has been training Afghan soldiers. France has almost 4,000 troops there; they were due to stay until the end of 2013. The vast majority of the people in France oppose their country’s role in the war, according to polls, and want the troops brought home now. The economic crisis in Europe undoubtedly has made the people even more war-weary.

Some 90,000 of the 130,000 foreign troops now stationed in Afghanistan come from the United States. Nearly 10,000 come from Britain, which first attempted to shoot its way into Afghanistan in the middle of the 19th century, but finally gave up after fierce resistance by the Afghan people.

The original reason given by Washington for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was the presumed role of Al-Qaida in the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon. Last May, U.S. Special Forces killed the leader of Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, as U.S. military and political leaders watched on satellite television. Bin Laden was living in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, when he was killed.

So what’s the excuse now for the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan?

Afghan soldiers take aim at ‘allies’

A report based on a secret military study conducted by the “coalition” admitted there was enormous hostility in the Afghan army to the occupying troops. “Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),” notes the report. (New York Times, Jan. 20)

The study found that between May 2007 and May 2011, at least 58 Western troops were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and police. Most of the attacks had occurred after October 2009. By the end of 2011, the number was even higher.

It’s bound to increase as reports grow of U.S. soldiers desecrating the bodies of Afghans they have killed, while insulting their religion and culture.

This “coalition” report is critical of the Pentagon’s public relations department, which has tried to belittle the problem. But the report evades the real cause of the Afghan people’s animosity toward the West — putting it down to “cultural incompatibility.”

This attitude toward Afghanistan perpetuates the insults added to the injuries done to this country by Western imperialism. Afghanistan, a land at the heart of the historic Silk Road linking the Middle East and Europe to China, was from its earliest days a place where many cultures came into constant contact. “It was not only in terms of trade, money and luxury goods that the Silk Road had an overwhelming effect. It was also vitally important in the transport of ideas,” writes Bijan Omrani on the website of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The people of Afghanistan are no less tolerant than any others toward outside cultures. What they cannot and will not accept, however, are the atrocities and vicious indignities that are inevitable when outside powers attempt to impose their will through military might.

The virtual rebellion by members of the Afghan army and police against the occupying forces merely reflects the intense hatred for these oppressors by the Afghan people as a whole.

According to costofwar.com, the war in Afghanistan has cost the U.S. almost $500 billion. The destruction done to Afghanistan and its people is incalculable. But it will take a very big struggle by the anti-war movement in the U.S. to force the capitalist government to admit its defeat and get out.
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