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Afghanistan War Weekly: December 27, 2010


The Obama/Petraeus “December Report” and the winding down of 2010 produced many retrospectives on the war this week. Pessimism reigns, as illustrated in the articles/essays linked below.

Last week’s “leak” that the US military/political leaders are preparing for more/many cross-border Special Forces operations into Pakistan has stirred things up. The US denies that such a “decision” has been made. Some Pakistan leaders say that cross-border operations would mean “the end of the alliance.” NB Gareth Porter’s “featured essay” and several more good links on this in the Pakistan section.

The WikiLeaks story broadened its focus this week to include the conditions under which Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, is being held in prison. Many links below, NB especially the article by David House, a friend who visits Manning. There are also links to many good essays about the significance of the WikiLeaks events.

In addition to the “Featured Essays,” please also check out esp. the several good articles on the state of the ground war; Susan Sach’s excellent overview of the failure of training programs for Afghanistan soldiers and police; the announcement that the US Army will send 25,000 troops to Afghanistan next year; and the UN’s report on civilian casualties up 20 percent.

Once again, if you find this newsletter useful, I would appreciate your help in expanding circulation. I would also appreciate suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is fbrodhead@aol.com. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the websites of United for Peace and Justice (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=4111) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).

----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)

FEATURED ESSAYS
US Plan for High-Risk Raids into Pakistan Is More Than Psywar

By Gareth Porter, Antiwar.com [December 23, 2010]

---- This week’s leak to the New York Times of a proposal for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) raids against Afghan insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan may be intended to put more pressure on the Pakistani military to take action against those sanctuaries. But the proposal for such cross-border raids also reflects a real demand from the U.S.-NATO command in Afghanistan to target insurgent leaders inside Pakistan if the Pakistani military does not respond to the threat, according to a U.S. source familiar with discussions at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul. And the position of the Barack Obama administration on the necessity of attacking insurgent safe havens in Pakistan appears to be in line with the proposal for cross-border raids. Carrying out such raids would probably provoke a new level of anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan, with dangerous political consequences in that country. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2010/12/22/us-plan-for-high-risk-raid...

'Dear Afghanistan': A New Year's Call for Peace

By Afghan Youth Voices of Peace, CommonDreams [December 26, 2010]

---- While the US may be the world’s single super power in military terms, it faces another super power: the voices of war-weary millions who detest violence and killing. In Afghanistan, in the United States, and among the populations of countries whose governments have joined the NATO coalition, millions of people are calling for an end to war in Afghanistan. On New Year’s Day, 01/01/11, people around the world are invited to raise their voices, through Facebook, Twitter, Free Conference calls, Skype, and blogs at several websites in a massive refusal to accept this war any longer. Let your New Year’s resolution be to stand for the people and end wars by sending a digital or spoken peacemaking message to people in Afghanistan. By amassing millions of messages calling for peace, we can create yet another indication that ordinary people within and beyond Afghanistan have had enough of war.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/12/26

Beyond WikiLeaks: The Privatization of War

By Jose L. Gomez del Prado, UN Working Group on Mercenariest [December 26, 2010]

---- Private military and security companies are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the 19th and 20th centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization period, operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations, a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additionally, Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary. These non-state entities of the 21st century operate in extremely blurred situations, where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations, recruiting former military as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security. http://www.truth-out.org/beyond-wikileaks-files-the-privatization-war662...

AFGHANISTAN WAR: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Obama’s Afghanistan Review: A Whitewash of a Disastrous Occupation

By Phyllis Bennis and Kevin Martin, AlterNet [December 24, 2010]

---- Apparently nothing can happen in the U.S. war in Afghanistan that doesn’t mean good news. If violence rises, it’s because “we’re taking the fight to the enemy.” The Pentagon must be taking a lot of fighting to whoever they’re calling the enemy – this year alone the war has killed over 2500 Afghan civilians, and almost 500 U.S. troops and more than 200 other NATO forces have died too. Of course in those isolated areas where violence may have dropped, it’s because “our strategy is winning.” http://www.alternet.org/story/149321/

Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [December 27, 2010]

[FB – Starting with #10, the myths include: “There has been significant progress in tamping down the insurgency in Afghanistan”; “Afghans want the US and NATO troops to stay in their country because they feel protected by them”; “The “surge” and precision air strikes are forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table”; “The US presence in Afghanistan is justified by the September 11 attacks”; “Afghans still want US troops in their country, despite their discontents”; and so on; very useful, w/many annotations and links]

http://www.juancole.com/2010/12/top-ten-myths-about-afghanistan-2010.html

Death of the Afghan surge

By James Denselow, The Guardian [UK][December 16, 2010]

---- A flurry of reports indicate how the US has neither the time nor the ability to defeat the Taliban or build an Afghan state that can deliver real justice to the country. The failures of General Stanley McChrystal, who resigned in June, and Richard Holbrooke, who died suddenly this week, are symbolic of the crumbling of the twin pillars, both military and civilian, of Barack Obama's counterinsurgency strategy (Coin). … In this one instance we don't need WikiLeaks to tell us that there is no US government consensus about the state of play in Afghanistan. In short, the reason why the US has been in Afghanistan for so long is not because it wants to be there but because it has no idea how to leave. As long as injustice and illegitimacy remain, there will be potent rallying calls for violent attacks against the institutions of government. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/16/afghanistan-surge-ob...

U.N. Maps Out Afghan Security

By Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal [December 26, 2010]

---- Internal United Nations maps show a marked deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan during this year's fighting season, countering the Obama administration's optimistic assessments of military progress since the surge of additional American forces began a year ago. The Wall Street Journal was able to view two confidential "residual risk accessibility" maps, one compiled by the U.N. at the annual fighting season's start in March 2010 and another at its tail end in October. In the October map, just as in March's, virtually all of southern Afghanistan—the focus of the coalition's military offensives—remained painted the red of "very high risk," with no noted security improvements. At the same time, the green belt of "low risk" districts in northern, central and western Afghanistan shriveled considerably. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020356800457604384292234752...

THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
25,000 soldiers headed to Afghanistan in 2011

By Michael Hoffman, Army Times [December 22, 2010]

---- Nearly 25,000 troops will board planes for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan starting soon after New Year's, the Defense Department has announced. About 18,000 soldiers in five infantry brigade combat teams as well as two combat aviation brigades and a headquarters element will deploy to Afghanistan as part of the regular troop rotations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed the deployment orders a day after President Obama said he will start bringing troops home from Afghanistan in July. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/12/army-afghanistan-deployments-in-20...

Airmen to train Afghans at least through 2016

By Scott Fontaine, Air Force Times [December 25, 2010[

---- Airmen will remain in Afghanistan to train that country’s nascent air force at least through 2016, two years after most troops will leave, the general leading the effort said. Afghanistan’s air force has 4,043 airmen and 56 aircraft, a combination of mostly Russian-built fixed-wing and rotary airframes. The plan is to almost triple the number of aircraft, including adding 20 light aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and 16 fixed-wing close-air support aircraft, over the next six years. http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2010/12/air-force-to-train-afghans-thr...

Afghan War Just a Slice of U.S. Coverage

By Brian Stelter, New York Times [December 19, 2010]

---- As the Obama administration conducted an Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review this month, the news media did too, and the coverage came peppered with question marks. The grueling war there, where a day rarely goes by without an allied casualty, is like a faint heartbeat, accounting for just 4 percent of the nation’s news coverage in major outlets through early December, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an arm of the Pew Research Center. That is down slightly from last year, when the war accounted for 5 percent. About a quarter of Americans follow news about Afghanistan closely. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/business/media/20coverage.html

Military Spending

Pentagon's Christmas Present: Largest Military Budget Since World War II
By Rick Rozoff, Op Ed News [December 25, 2010]

---- On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year's Defense Department budget. The proposed figure for the Pentagon's 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war. Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year's dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War. With recent U.S. census figures at 308 million, next year the Pentagon will spend $2,354 for every citizen of the country at the $725 billion price tag alone. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Pentagon-s-Christmas-Prese-by-Rick-Rozo...

See also: Spencer Ackerman, “Shadow Wars Get Big Bucks in Last-Minute Defense Bill,” Wired [December 22, 2010] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/12/shadow-wars-get-big-bucks-in-las...

USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
US Casualties

---- 707 US and other Coalition soldiers have been killed in 2010. 53 US soldiers were killed in November, and 30 have been killed so far in December. This brings the number of US soldiers killed in 2010 to 496. Additionally, 5 soldiers from other Coalition countries were killed in November, and 7 have been killed so far in December. This brings the total number of US deaths in Afghanistan to 1,443, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,277. The number of US soldiers wounded in November 2010 was 501; 143 have been wounded through December 13. This brings the total US wounded during 2010 to 4.996, and the number wounded since the war began to 9,771. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org and to http://tomhayden.com/downloads/Wounded.pdf

Afghanistan Casualties

---- See the article/summary of the recent quarterly report from the UN, below. See also Susan G. Chesser, “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” Congressional Research Service [August 11, 2010] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41084.pdf.

Pakistan Casualties

---- According to an on-going study by the New America Foundation, the United States has launched 113 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan this year, compared to 53 during all of 2009. This brings the total number of such strikes since 2004 to 209 [both are last week’s numbers.] [FB – I don’t think the NAF drone casualty count is reliable in its estimation of the number of civilian casualties, so I’m not listing it anymore.] The study can be read at http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones. For a different view on the extent of civilian casualties by drone attacks, see Daniel L. Byman, “Do Targeted Killings Work?” Foreign Policy [July 4, 2009] http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0714_targeted_killings_byman.aspx.... See also the website for CIVIC: The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict: www.civicworldwide.org/ for a recent report on Pakistan.

The Cost of the War

---- According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $379 billion and the total for both wars is $1.127 trillion. For a useful resource on the costs of war, go to “Bring Our War $$ Home” at www.bringourwardollarshome.org/index.html

Public opinion about the war in Afghanistan
---- “ABC News/Washington Post Poll: Record Six in 10 Say it's 'Not Worth Fighting' “ - A record 60 percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a grim assessment -- and a politically hazardous one -- in advance of the Obama administration's one-year review of its revised strategy. Public dissatisfaction with the war, now the nation's longest, has spiked by 7 points just since July. Given its costs vs. its benefits, only 34 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll [December 16, 2010] say the war's been worth fighting, down by 9 points to a new low, by a sizable margin. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/abc-news-washington-post-poll-exclusive-a...

---- Americans continue to be divided over the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, with 45% supporting and 45% opposing it. The plurality 49% of Americans say the U.S. government has been providing them too little information about the war in Afghanistan, and more than half, 54%, say they do not know what their country's war in Afghanistan is all about. The plurality 38% of Americans expect the war to eventually come to a negotiated settlement that gives the Taliban a role in the Afghan government, while only 16% still expect a clear military victory by the U.S.-led foreign military forces. The Angus Reid poll was conducted December 3-5, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...

THE WIKILEAKS LEAK – WEEK FOUR
Sources for Cables and Media Coverage

---- WikiLeaks has a new home at www.wikileaks.ch, courtesy of the Swiss Pirate Party. As of today, the number of cables released is 1,953. They can be searched (e.g., for “Afghanistan” or “corruption”) at http://cablesearch.org/. Another useful site is WikiLeaks Central: “An unofficial WikiLeaks information resource”: http://wlcentral.org// The Wikipedia entry on WikiLeaks is comprehensive and up-to-date: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_diplomatic_cables_leak

Several media outlets have archives devoted to WikiLeaks. The best ones are at The Guardian [UK] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-us-embassy-cables and Aljazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/spotlight/usembassyfiles/. The New York Times’ site is at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/statessecrets.html?hp. At the daily publication www.antiwar.com, Jason Ditz provides short commentaries on many of the documents as they become available. Of the several blogs about the cables and the controversy surrounding them, the best one imo is by Greg Mitchell at The Nation - http://www.thenation.com/authors/greg-mitchell.

Some Comments and Analysis
Glenn Greenwald, “What WikiLeaks revealed to the world in 2010,”Salon.com [December 24, 2010]

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/24/wikileaks/i...

Ralph Nader, “Wikimania and the First Amendment,” CommonDreams [December 20, 2010]

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/12/20-7

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, “Iran, WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers,” Asia Times [December 21, 2010]
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LL21Ak02.html

Kevin Zeese, “Deceit and Truth Are Feeding Resistance to US Militarism,”

Antiwar.com [December 19, 2010] http://original.antiwar.com/kevin-zeese/2010/12/19/deceit-and-truth-are-...

Jason Ditz, “WikiLeaks Poised for Major Israel Document Dump,” Antiwar.com [December 24, 2010]

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/24/wikileaks-poised-for-major-israel-doc...

Mark Prendergast, “Now comes don't read, don't tell,” Stars and Stripes, [December 17, 2010]

http://www.stripes.com/blogs/ombudsman/ombudsman-1.8931/now-comes-don-t-...

Nancy A. Youssef, “Army opens probe of its role in WikiLeaks security breach,” McClatchy Newspapers [December 24, 2010] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/12/23/v-print/105763/army-wikileaks-prob...

Re: Alleged Leaker Bradley Manning

To support Bradley Manning — and contribute to his legal fund —go to the website of the Bradley Manning Support Network www.bradleymanning.org. Firedoglake has a petition at http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/bradleymanning?source=web&subsource...

David House, “Bradley Manning Speaks About His Conditions,” Firedoglake [December 23, 2010]

http://my.firedoglake.com/blog/2010/12/23/bradley-manning-speaks-about-h...

Andy Worthington, “Is Bradley Manning Being Held as Some Sort of ‘Enemy Combatant’?” CommonDreams [December 20, 2010]http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/12/20-2

Dahr Jamail, “Bradley Manning and GI Resistance to US War Crimes,” Angola 3 News [December 23, 2010] http://original.antiwar.com/jamail/2010/12/23/bradley-manning-and-gi-res...

Aaron Glantz, “Jailed Soldier Has Support of Resisters,” New York Times [December 26, 2010]

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/us/26bcmanning.html?src=twrhp&pagewant...

DAMAGED SOLDIERS, BROKEN ARMY
Pentagon Health Plan Won’t Cover Brain-Damage Therapy for Troops

By T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR [December 20, 2010]

---- During the past few decades, scientists have become increasingly persuaded that people who suffer brain injuries benefit from what is called cognitive rehabilitation therapy -- a lengthy, painstaking process in which patients relearn basic life tasks such as counting, cooking or remembering directions to get home. Many neurologists, several major insurance companies and even some medical facilities run by the Pentagon agree that the therapy can help people whose functioning has been diminished by blows to the head. But despite pressure from Congress and the recommendations of military and civilian experts, the Pentagon's health plan for troops and many veterans refuses to cover the treatment.

Deadly Afghan year takes toll on 101st Airborne

By Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press [December 26, 2010]

---- The 101st Airborne Division, a force in America's major conflicts since World War II, is seeing its worst casualties in a decade. The Army division has lost 104 men this year - or about 1 in 5 American deaths in Afghanistan. That is close to a toll of 105 divisional deaths in Iraq during a 2005-2006 deployment that was its deadliest year in combat since Vietnam. The 20,000-strong division from Fort Campbell has been fighting in two of Afghanistan's most violent regions, the south and the east. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/12/26/2542599/deadly-afghan-year-takes-to...

(Video) Coming Home Homeless: The New Homeless Among Veterans

By Bob Woodruff and Ian Cameron, ABC News [December 26, 2010]

---- Servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan that the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates have been homeless. Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, calls that a conservative estimate. http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/coming-home-homeless-homeless-veterans/st...

THE WAR IN KABUL
Afghan parliament to convene Jan. 20

By Patrick Quinn, Associated Press [December 20, 2010]

---- Afghanistan's parliament will convene on Jan. 20, more than four months after the fraud-tainted elections, the president's spokesman said Monday. Waheed Omar said the 249-seat parliament will be inaugurated after the winter break. The elections were held on Sept. 18 and the results ratified by the Independent Election Commission on Nov. 24. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101220/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

US medicines for Afghan soldiers disappear

By Heidi Vogt, Associated Press [December 22, 2010]

---- U.S.-donated medicines and pharmaceutical supplies meant to keep the new Afghan army and police healthy have been disappearing before reaching Afghan military hospitals and clinics, and the government said it is removing the army's top medical officer from his post as part of an investigation into alleged corruption. It's unclear just how much has gone missing of the $42 million worth of medical goods the U.S. has donated this year, and whether any Afghan soldiers have died as a result. U.S. officials say they do not account for the supplies after delivering them to the Afghans. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/12/22/us-medicines-for-afghan-soldiers-disa...

Contractors behaving badly mean headaches for US

By Richard Lardner, Associated Press [December 19, 2010]

http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/12/19/contractors-behaving-badly-mean-heada... and [part 2]

http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/12/19/more-examples-of-contractor-headaches...

NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Karzai warms to idea of talking to Taliban in Turkey

By Simon Cameron-Moore, Yahoo News, [December 24, 2010]

---- President Hamid Karzai said on Friday the Afghan government would welcome any offer by Turkey to facilitate talks with the Taliban that could help bring an end to the conflict in his homeland. Speaking in Istanbul at the end of a trilateral summit between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Karzai said "dignitaries" close to the Taliban had suggested Turkey could become a venue for talks if the Taliban were allowed to establish some kind of representation there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101224/wl_nm/us_turkey_afghanistan

TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMY AND POLICE
NATO fails to deliver half of trainers promised for Afghanistan

By Susan Sachs, Globe and Mail [Canada] [December 21, 2010]

[FB - This is an extensive, imo very useful report on the yearlong failure of NATO to provide trainers.]

---- NATO is not meeting its target for assembling specialized trainers to build up Afghanistan’s army and police forces, the key that would open the way to a withdrawal of coalition troops beginning next year.

An internal progress report from the training mission headquarters here warned that it “does not have the required number of trainers, which threatens our ability to sustain momentum through the summer of 2011 to develop and professionalize the Afghan national security force.” The Dec. 12 report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, said NATO member countries have so far pledged to fill just half of the 819 “critical” trainer slots that need to be filled if Afghanistan is to begin to assume responsibility next year for its own security. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/nato-fails-to-del...

THE WAR ON THE GROUND
Another Record: Over 800 Afghan Troops Killed in 2010

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 22, 2010]

---- Afghanistan’s civilian death toll is a record in 2010. The NATO death toll in Afghanistan has been a record for months already. Now, completing the grim picture of the Afghan War the Obama Administration insists is going so swimmingly, the Afghan military’s numbers are in, and are another record toll. According to the Afghan Defense Ministry some 806 Afghan National Army soldiers have been killed so far this year, by far the highest number since the 2001 US-led occupation began. It is a 25 percent increase over the 2009 toll, which saw 632 Afghan soldiers slain. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/22/another-record-over-800-afghan-troops...

U.S. troops battle to hand off a valley resistant to Afghan governance

By Greg Jaffe, Washington Post [December 27, 2010]

---- Later that evening Petrosky huddled under a blanket with Pfc. Dustin Riedemann, who had stuffed gauze into Warriner's wound. Riedemann kept talking about the look in Warriner's eyes after he was shot. All Petrosky could think about was getting back to his outpost and his bunk, which he had decorated with pictures of his girlfriend and the Dallas Stars hockey team. He was angry at the Afghan soldiers who had left most of the fighting on the mountain to the Americans, and he was furious at his commanders. No matter how many Taliban his platoon killed, it wasn't worth the life of any more of his friends. "Why are we still here?" he recalled saying. "We should have been off this mountain two days ago." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/26/AR201012...

Taliban Challenge U.S. in Eastern Afghanistan

By Ray Rivera, New York Times [December 25, 2010]

---- While American-led NATO forces have claimed gains in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, this strategically vital part of Afghanistan’s east, at the crossroads of Highway 1 from Kabul to Kandahar and along roads out to the provinces of Paktia and Paktika, has proved stubborn. Despite beefed-up coalition patrols in recent months, the insurgents are still sheltering in this remote wheat-farming area. Though NATO officials dispute the notion, local residents say the coalition forces lost momentum here two years ago when the Americans quit patrolling and turned the region over to the Polish military, which the Afghans say sharply curtailed patrols. Without question, security has eroded. Insurgent attacks in Andar have surged 113 percent since 2008, and in neighboring Deh Yak 106 percent, according to military figures. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/world/asia/26ghazni.html?hp

US Allies Turned Foes, Haqqani Network Spreading in Afghanistan

NATO Claims of 'Short-Term' Gains Appear Difficult to Justify

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 26, 2010]

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/26/us-allies-turned-foes-haqqani-network...

Ditz is replying to an excessively optimistic report in the New York Times, “Taliban Fighters Appear Quieted in Afghanistan,” by Eric Schmitt [December 26, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/world/asia/27policy.html?_r=1&ref=worl...

Petraeus promises villagers U.S. will rebuild what it has knocked down

By Megan McCloskey, Stars and Stripes [December 21, 2010]

---- When the top commander in Afghanistan visited this small village in western Arghandab on Monday, there was nothing more to see than an empty field. Tarok Kalacheh currently exists in name only. All its 33 buildings are gone, leveled by the U.S. military in October. The destruction of the village was necessary to clear the Taliban from this lush farmland, which insurgents had rigged top to bottom with explosives, the military says. And now its reconstruction — and that of three others like it in the area — is just as necessary to keep the Taliban from coming back. The military is in a perception game, racing the clock to win over villagers before the spring. http://www.stripes.com/news/petraeus-promises-villagers-u-s-will-rebuild...

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
Afghan civilian toll up 20 percent-U.N. report

By Jonathon Burch, Reuters [December 21, 2010

---- Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 20 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with 2009, the United Nations said, with more than three-quarters killed or wounded as a result of insurgent attacks. In a quarterly report on Afghanistan this month, the United Nations said there were 6,215 civilian casualties from conflict-related incidents, including 2,412 deaths and 3,803 injuries, between January and the end of October this year. … A report last month by around 30 aid groups said while civilian casualties caused by foreign and Afghan forces had decreased over the past two years -- mainly due to a fall in air strikes -- an increase in the use of air power in recent months risked reversing those gains. U.S. forces had dropped 2,100 bombs or missiles from June through September, almost 50 percent more than the same period last year, that report said. The U.N. report also said there had been a 66 percent increase in the number of security incidents since its last report on Sept. 14, compared to the same period for 2009. Suicide attacks, averaged three a week during the period, it said. http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-53709120101221?rpc=401&feedType=...

Afghan Government Slams NATO’s Killing of Security Guards

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 26, 2010]

---- The Afghan government publicly condemned NATO today relating to the Friday killings of two private security contractors during a Kabul raid. Interior Minister Zemari Bashary insisted that the raid violated long-standing agreements between NATO and the Afghan government. Bashary insisted the deal requires that all NATO raids inside Kabul be cleared with the government in advance. Though NATO brought some Afghan police along, they did not clear the move with the national government, claiming a “credible threat” existed. A police general involved was not only sacked over the raid, but has been detained by Afghan officials. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/26/afghan-govt-slams-natos-killing-of-se...

See also: Michael Kamber and Sharif Ullah Sahak, “NATO Night Raid in Kabul Leaves Afghan Guards Dead,” New York Times [December 24, 2010]

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/world/asia/25afghan.html?_r=1&ref=worl...

Afghanistan: NATO Operation Leaves 2 Civilians Dead

From The Associated Press [December 23, 2010]

---- A NATO helicopter opened fire on a convoy of cars heading to an event hosted by the head of a local council in Faryab Province on Thursday, killing a police officer and the brother of a lawmaker, provincial officials said. NATO said it was investigating “the inadvertent death of two individuals and the wounding of two others” in an operation intended to intercept insurgents. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/world/asia/24briefs-Afghanistan.html?r...

PAKISTAN AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Petraeus Hints at More Cross-Border Raids Into Pakistan

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 26, 2010]

---- US commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus is the latest to offer a hint that the administration is about to begin launching cross border raids into Pakistan, calling for attacks on both sides of the porous border.http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/26/petraeus-hints-at-more-cross-border-raids-into-pakistan/

Pakistan: Alliance Over if US Troops Expand War Across Border

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 21, 2010]

---- Pakistani military leaders are warning the United States to keep their troops on the Afghan side of the border, with officials cautioning that the long-standing anti-terror alliance between the two countries would be ended formally if the United States invades. US military officials are said to be pushing not only for permission to launch raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas, but are hoping to increase the rate so much as to make such raids a “routine” part of the Afghan War. NATO, for its part, is denying that it has any plans to approve the attacks, but the Times of London reported that US officials believe they are very close to getting the go ahead for the raid. The US has launched a handful of cross-border raids over the past several years, most recently in September when they killed 60 “suspects” just across the border. That raid led Pakistan to close the border to NATO supplies and sparked a major rift in relations. One can only imagine how much damage would be done if such raids become as common as drone strikes. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/21/pakistan-alliance-over-if-us-troops-e...

Operation in NWA to be costly for politicians

By Mazhar Tufail, The News [Pakistan] [December 25, 2010]

---- Amid conflicting media reports, particularly those appearing in the US media, about launch of military operation in North Waziristan, the residents of the tribal district are extremely angered and perturbed, this correspondent noted when he traveled this week from Islamabad to NWA via Kurram Agency and Razmak to gather firsthand information about the situation prevailing in the area. One thing which became crystal clear during this visit was that it does not matter to the residents of the tribal areas whether there is a democratic rule or a dictatorial regime. It was noted that the top priority of the tribesmen is to strengthen the tribal system and to stick to the local customs and traditions. http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=22151&Cat=2

DRONES

As drone strikes have increased, so have assassinations, Pakistanis say

By Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan, Washington Post [December 24, 2010]
---- As drone-fired missiles drop with furious frequency in the tribal area of North Waziristan, so do the bodies. As often as seven times a week, tribesmen there say, corpses appear in fields and on roadsides with dark warnings pinned to their tunics: All American spies will meet the same fate. Espionage has long been viewed as an egregious offense in the lawless borderland, but residents say the current pace of assassinations is unprecedented. The escalation parallels a massive surge in CIA drone attacks on North Waziristan, home to a nest of insurgents that includes al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, an Afghan militia considered the most lethal foe of U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan. CIA drones have fired 112 missiles on Pakistan's tribal areas this year, 88 percent of which hit North Waziristan, in a campaign whose effectiveness is hotly debated. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/23/AR201012...

Collateral Damage in Pakistan

By Brian Cloughley, Informed Comment [December 27, 2010]

---- It is difficult to conduct investigations into drone killings in Pakistan’s isolated valleys, but a Washington-based organisation, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, managed to probe some of the strikes and determined there had been “30 civilian deaths in just nine cases that we investigated – all since 2009 – including 14 women and children.” But there is not only butchery in the drone campaign ; there is colossal damage being done to Pakistan, with massive propaganda advantage to insurrectionists, extremists, thugs and anarchists of all descriptions. The country is in ferment and on the edge of social disaster. There could hardly be a worse time for the US, in concert with an unpopular, corruption-struck and feeble government, to carry on blitzing. The US has achieved control and lost credibility. But the government of Pakistan has lost both. That’s collateral damage, too. http://www.juancole.com/2010/12/collateral-damage-in-pakistan-cloughley....

Pakistani drone victim seeks to put US on trial

By Chris Brummitt, Associated Press [December 23, 2010]

---- Sadaullah Wazir says he was relaxing in his front yard when the missile struck, hurling him against the wall and mangling his legs so badly that they had to be amputated. Three of his relatives died. Now the 17-year-old and his family want justice from America, which they say was behind the attack.

Detailed accounts by casualties such as Wazir rarely make it outside the tribal regions. He and other tribesmen recently traveled to Islamabad, the capital, to meet with lawyers who are planning to sue the CIA for damages, possibly adding a new layer of scrutiny to the agency's covert war inside Pakistan. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/12/23/pakistani-drone-victim-seeks-to-put-u...

NATO AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
The Natural Gas Pipeline: Canada’s ‘enduring’ Afghan role

John Foster, The Star [Canada] [December 23, 2010]

---- On Dec. 11, President Hamid Karzai signed formal agreements for a natural gas pipeline to be built through Afghanistan. Leaders of Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India signed, too. Three weeks earlier, at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Afghanistan became an “enduring partner” of NATO. Neither event captured much attention here, yet both have consequences for Canada’s role in Afghanistan. With the route passing through areas of ongoing insurgency, who will provide security? In the past, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and NATO officials have said they would consider a request to protect pipelines, if asked. As an “enduring partner” of NATO, Afghanistan could request assistance for decades. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/911283--canada-s...

The French State Prepares for Class War

By Larry Portis, Counterpunch [December 21, 2010]

[FB – Though not directly linked to Afghanistan, this article presents imo an excellent illustration of the drift toward a more repressive state/fascism in Europe, escalated now by class conflicts over “who should pay for the financial crisis?”]

---- The French state is now perfecting its police power in dealing with “civil disturbances” by militarizing population control. There are two models for this effort. The first is the USA PATRIOT ACT that centralized “intelligence” agencies under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security and erased the distinction between international intervention and domestic policing. The second is the organization of the national security forces in Israel, where the operative principle is the occupation of hostile territory. http://counterpunch.org/portis12212010.html

CENTRAL ASIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Pentagon, State Dept. criticized over Kyrgyz jet fuel deals

By Andrew Higgins and Walter Pincus, Washington Post [December 20, 2010[

---- To keep U.S. warplanes flying over Afghanistan, the Pentagon allowed a "secrecy obsessed" business group to supply jet fuel to a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan, turning a blind eye to an elaborate fraud involving fuel deliveries from Russia, according to congressional investigators. In a report due to be released Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hammers the Pentagon and also State Department diplomats for ignoring red flags raised by jet fuel contracts worth nearly $2 billion for the Manas Transit Center, a U.S. base used for in-flight refueling over Afghanistan. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/20/AR201012...

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Re. Af-Pak:

"2011: U.S. And NATO To Extend And Expand Afghan War"
by Rick Rozoff, Stop Nato, Dec. 24, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m73241

(snip)

As of December 23, American and NATO military fatalities for this year are at 705, almost a third of the total 2,275 killed since the war was launched on October 7, 2001.

The Afghan National Army created from scratch by the Pentagon and NATO acknowledged this month that it has lost 806 soldiers so far this year, an increase of 25 percent over 2009.

Earlier this month a report by the United Nations General Assembly documented that Afghan civilian casualties had risen by 20 percent in the first ten months of this year over all of last to a total of 5,480 killed and wounded.

(snip)

In the past year there have been at least 115 U.S. drone attacks in the tribal areas, more than double the amount in 2009, which itself represented a dramatic increase over previous years. In 2009 and 2010 there have been approximately 170 missile strikes in North and South Waziristan, a 300 percent increase over the last four years of the George W. Bush administration. The cumulative death toll is in the neighborhood of 2,000, with close to half of those deaths occurring this year.

(snip)

Nothing daunted, the special assistant to the commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations stated that the current demand for more drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) is "insatiable."

"It’s like crack, and everyone wants more," Brigadier General Kevin Mangum recently announced. [4]

The U.S. is pressuring the Pakistani government to launch a military operation in North Waziristan in tandem with the marked escalation of drone attacks there, something paralleling the Pakistani army offensive in the Swat Valley in May of last year that led to the displacement of three million civilians.

In addition, the Pentagon has recently announced that U.S. and NATO forces will be stationed at a military base in the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province. [5]

Washington is now pushing to expand special forces operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas, supplementing CIA drone strikes and NATO helicopter attacks in the region.

(snip)

However, civilian deaths on both sides of the Khyber Pass and the destabilization of nuclear Pakistan are matters of small importance to American and NATO geostrategists, who nurture grand designs for Central and South Asia.

(snip)

Indian analyst and former diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar stated in a recent article entitled "NATO weaves South Asian web" that after its summit in Lisbon, Portugal last month NATO "is well on the way to transforming into a global political-military role" and "is by far today the most powerful military and political alliance in the world."

Speaking about long-term U.S. and NATO strategy in Asia, he added:

"It is within the realm of possibility that NATO would at a future date deploy components of the US missile defense system in Afghanistan. Ostensibly directed against nearby 'rogue states’, the missile defense system will challenge the Chinese strategic capability." [8]

Regarding the long-planned agreement on constructing a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline concluded earlier this month [9], the author said:

"TAPI is the finished product of the US invasion of Afghanistan. It consolidates NATO’s political and military presence in the strategic high plateau that overlooks Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan and China. TAPI provides a perfect setting for the alliance’s future projection of military power for 'crisis management’ in Central Asia."

"The pipeline signifies a breakthrough in the longstanding Western efforts to access the fabulous mineral wealth of the Caspian and Central Asian region. Washington has been the patron saint of the TAPI concept since the early 1990s when the Taliban was conceived as its Afghan charioteer. The concept became moribund when the Taliban regime was driven out of power from Kabul."

"Now the wheel has come full circle with the project’s incremental resuscitation since 2005, running parallel with the Taliban’s fantastic return to the Afghan chessboard. TAPI’s proposed commissioning coincides with the 2014 timeline for ending the NATO 'combat mission’ in Afghanistan. The US 'surge’ is concentrating on Helmand and Kandahar provinces through which the TAPI pipeline will eventually run. What an amazing string of coincidences!" [10]

Last week NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen affirmed that "as the long-term partnership that President Karzai and I signed at Lisbon demonstrates, our commitment to Afghanistan will continue well beyond 2014." [11]

On December 22 U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry confirmed that the Pentagon "will retain a 'sizable mission’ in Afghanistan beyond 2014″ and that a troop withdrawal, if it ever occurs, would be "conditions-based; not calendar-based." American troops "could also stay on to carry out counter-terrorism operations," added the retired general and former deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee. [12]

(snip)

As Bhadrakumar has pointed out, far more is at stake: The military encirclement of Russia, China and Iran and control of Eurasia’s strategic energy resources.

(snip)

Ref. note 9 is for the following article.

"NATO Trains Afghan Army To Guard Asian Pipeline"
by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, Dec. 19, 2010

https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/nato-trains-afghan-army-to-g...

On December 11 the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan and the energy minister of India met in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat to bring to fruition fifteen years of planning by interests in the United States to bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea to the energy-needy nations of South and East Asia.

Presidents Hamid Karzai, Asif Ali Zardari and Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov along with Indian Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora signed agreements – an Inter-Government Agreement and the Gas Pipeline Transmission Agreement – to construct a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. The initials of the first three countries involved lend themselves to the project’s acronym: TAP, now known as TAPI.

The Inter-Government Agreement “enjoins the four governments to provide all support including security for the pipeline.” [1]

The next day, Wahidullah Shahrani, Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines and Industries, confirmed that “Afghanistan will deploy about 7,000 troops to secure a major transnational gas pipeline slated to run through some of the most dangerous parts of the war-torn country.” [2]

Speaking at a press conference in the Afghan capital, Shahrani added: “This huge project is very important for Afghanistan. Five thousand to seven thousand security forces will be deployed to safeguard the pipeline route….We will also keep an eye on the security situation….If more troops are needed, we will take action.” [3]

Four days later U.S. Army Colonel John Ferrari, Deputy Commander of Programs for the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, was quoted on the U.S. Defense Department’s website stating:

“Our mission is to help the government of Afghanistan generate and sustain the Afghan army and police, all the way from the ministerial systems – essentially, their version of the Pentagon – through their operational commands, down to the individual units.” [4]

Colonel Ferrari disclosed at the same time that in the next few days the U.S. Army “will finally award a much-delayed $1.6 billion contract for a private security firm to supplement [the] NATO training command’s efforts to professionalize Afghan cops.” The lucrative bid, according to an American news source, “touched off a bureaucratic tempest between Blackwater/Xe Services and DynCorp, which held an old contract for the same job….” [5]

On the same day North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen endorsed the U.S.’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review released on December 15 and stated:

“We will continue to train Afghan forces so they can provide security for the Afghan people."

Bullshit! Security for the Afghan people is important, but it's not what the hellbent West is going to bring for them.

“[A]s the long-term partnership that President Karzai and I signed at Lisbon demonstrates, our commitment to Afghanistan will continue well beyond 2014. NATO will also remain engaged with Pakistan…."

“I welcome the release today of the United States’ annual review on Afghanistan and Pakistan. It builds on the decisions on Afghanistan that NATO Allies and Partners took at our summit in Lisbon.” [6]

What the Pentagon and NATO are training Afghan troops for is in part to ensure that the 1,700-kilometer (1,050-mile) TAPI pipeline running from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan to India – with transshipment to nations like Japan, South Korea and China in the offing – will function unimpeded.

The pipeline is to be started in 2012, completed two years later and provide 33 billion cubic meters (over one trillion cubic feet) of Turkmen gas to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. According to the recently signed agreement, India and Pakistan will each receive 14 billion and Afghanistan 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year.

Are ordinary Afghans supposed to benefit from this future natural gas, that is, those whose homes haven't been bulldozed or blown up by the US and NATO? Surely the puppet regime in Kabul and foreign forces, including the contractors, will be the ones mostly using this natural gas; I imagine.

The undertaking is being financed by the Asian Development Bank in which the U.S. and Japan each hold 552,210 shares, the largest proportion of shares among its 67 members at 12.756 percent apiece.

The pipeline will run from Turkmenistan’s Dovletabat (also Dovletabad and Dauletabad) field along the 350-mile Herat-Kandahar Highway in Afghanistan to the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, Quetta, to the Fazlaka region on the Indian-Pakistani border.

Five years ago the Asian Development Bank estimated gross natural gas reserves at Dovletabat to be 49.5 trillion cubic feet (1.4 trillion cubic meters). Turkmenistan also intends to include the new Southern Yoloten-Osman field, where government geologists estimate there are over 21 trillion cubic meters of gas, to fill the TAPI pipeline.

The inauguration of TAPI is the realization of plans going back to four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 1995, the year before the Taliban consolidated control of Afghanistan. One of its prime movers was the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal), which merged with and became a subsidiary of Chevron in the same year.

Former Secretary of State and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Alexander Haig visited Turkmenistan in 1992, immediately after it became an independent state for the first time, after which he became “an unofficial adviser and confident” to President Saparmurat Niyazov, “screening foreign companies and helping arrange a Niyazov visit to Washington in 1993.” [7]

Haig’s dealings, which would later be augmented by the likes of Henry Kissinger and Zalmay Khalilzad, were part of U.S. strategy in the Caspian Sea region, which was to:

“Tap the Caspian mother lodes while giving as little leverage as possible to Russia in the north and Iran in the south."

(snip)

A previous article in this series detailed that the overall strategy is “not limited to efforts to muscle into nations and regions rich in oil and natural gas (and uranium), nor to employing fair means or foul, peaceful or otherwise, to seize the commanding heights of the international energy market."

“The overarching objective is to control the ownership, transport and consumption of energy worldwide. To determine who receives oil and natural gas, through which routes and at which prices. And to dictate what the political and military quid pro quo will be for being invited to join a U.S.-dominated international energy transportation and accessibility network."

(snip)

The expanding American and NATO role in Central and South Asia – in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – is inextricably connected with NATO nations’ Eurasian energy strategies.

(snip)

The U.S. and NATO have expanded the Afghan war into Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and increasingly into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It has also launched attacks inside Balochistan and has pressured the Pakistani government to permit them to conduct full-scale military operations in the province.

(snip)

A U.S. military buildup in Balochistan presents a direct threat to Iran, whose province of Sistan and Baluchistan borders the Pakistani province, the largest provinces in the respective nations. The U.S. is accused of supporting separatist elements in the Iranian territory and could exploit Baloch agents on the Pakistani side of the border in an attempt to destabilize Iran.

Three years ago China completed a port in Gwadar on Balochistan’s Arabian Sea coastline, which is to be expanded into a deep-sea port and naval base with Chinese technical and financial assistance.

China also intends to turn the port into an energy transit center for oil and natural gas originating from Iran and other parts of the Middle East as well as Africa and plans to construct an oil pipeline from Gwadar to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The TAPI and related pipeline projects will not only adversely affect Iran and Russia.

Turkmen gas that had formerly flowed through Russia and Iran will now be diverted via the TAPI and Nabucco pipelines – as many as 73 billion cubic meters – strengthening the West’s influence in the region in a number of spheres, including in regards to energy, transport, financial and economic, political and military matters.

….

The NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A) was launched at the military bloc’s sixtieth anniversary summit in Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany last year, and after this year’s summit in Portugal thousands of new trainers have been pledged by NATO member states.

(snip)

The NATO Training Mission – Iraq is the model for building from the top down the armed forces of a conquered and subjugated nation by the Western alliance, including training military and security forces to guard the country’s energy infrastructure.

In Iraq and now even more so in Afghanistan, NATO is assisting the U.S. in achieving vital geopolitical objectives in strategically vital parts of the world.

(snip - sources)

"Afghanistan: "Open for Business""
by Michael Skinner, SocialistProject.ca, Dec. 26, 2010

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22510

Author bio.: "Michael Skinner is studying international relations at York University and is a long-time activist with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees".

The link for the original copy of the article is provided and the original title is, "Bottom of the 4th Inning of the Great Game: Afghanistan is Now Open for Business". I highlight it here because the historical reference to "the Great Game" dates back to 19th century British imperialism, and Zbigniew Brzezinski's book, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It's Geostrategic Imperatives", is about the US playing this "Great Game", which is what the war on Afghanistan, now Af-Pak, is about.

Americans who don't know about the "Great Game" might well be confused about what the purpose of this war on Afghanistan is or has become, because it's known that the Taliban didn't have anything to do with 9/11 and the US and NATO haven't been warring against Osama bin Laden and Al Qa'ida. Washington claims to be warring to stop OBL and AQ, but how many AQ members has Washington said to have captured and/or killed, so far? FEW, very, very few. Meanwhile, the US and NATO have killed thousands of Afghan civilians, millions of Iraqis, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11, Pakistanis didn't have anything to do with 9/11, so this damn war clearly is not a war against OBL and Al Qa'ida. Even an idiot can figure this little out.

Anyway, the article provides the appropriate or needed resource links.

Bottom of the 4th Inning of the Great Game:

Many of the Canadian military, police, and civilian personnel who risk their lives in Afghanistan truly believe they are fighting a just war of good against evil. But America's and Britain's claims that the unsanctioned unilateral invasion of Afghanistan, which began the Global War on Terror, was justified by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 are as credible as claims the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian terrorist justified Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia to begin WWI.

It is time to look beyond faith in baseless beliefs to investigate facts. What interests are at stake in Afghanistan?

When I visited Afghanistan in 2007, (linked) many Afghans told me they distrust our motivations for invading and occupying their land. Many initially held some hope for positive change, but they had good reasons to be wary of Western interests. There is even more evidence today to back their fears.

Afghans know why invaders throughout history sought control of Afghan real estate. Not only does Afghanistan contain some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, but it also sits astride the shortest trade routes between China and Europe as well as between Russia and India. In this age of globalizing free trade and an accelerating scramble for natural resources, Afghanistan sits at the epicentre of Eurasia.

And as Zbigniew Brzezinski noted in 1997 (linked): “What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and historical legacy.”

Regional Ambitions

American military and economic strategists recognize Afghanistan is a necessary bridgehead to engage America's competitors China, Russia, and India on their home field as well as to contain and pacify potential spoilers to the expansion of free trade in Iran, Pakistan, and the volatile Central Asian states. Plans to develop Afghanistan's abundant natural resources and reopen the ancient Silk Road as a modern transportation, communications, and energy transmission network are well underway.

The first two industrial-scale development projects have proceeded beyond planning to implementation. In 2008, the Afghan government sold the concession to mine Aynak, one of the largest copper deposits in the world. On 11 December 2010, the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India signed a deal to proceed with the 1,700 kilometre TAPI pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to energy-hungry India. Many more mega-projects currently in the planning stages will soon be implemented.

The Great Game: Liberating Afghans or liberating capital?

The industrial-scale developments now underway and other planned mega-projects hold the promise of liberating Afghans from their miserable poverty. However, Afghans recognize the Western intervention that began, in the 17th century, with the British East India Company's relentless push into Asia was primarily about liberating capital to return profits for investors. There is no evidence anything is different today.

Liberating Afghans, even if it is a genuine concern of many people in the West, is secondary to corporate profit seeking and the geopolitical interests of powerful states.

In the early 19th century, Arthur Conolly, an officer of the East India Company, called the geopolitical competition for state-backed corporate control of Eurasia the Great Game. Today, we are at the bottom of the fourth inning of this centuries-long Great Game, with no end in sight. The current score: Afghanistan has been forcibly pried open for business. What might happen in the next inning is anyone's guess, but some powerful investors are betting they will profit.

(snip)

The bottom-line is human development projects are not where either private investors or states are investing their resources. ...

... The Red Cross observes that current conditions are the worst in 30 years.

But it is equally clear that the liberation of capital is successfully proceeding. Resource and infrastructure development projects on multi-billion dollar scales are rapidly proceeding. It is evident that states and investors are beginning to invest heavily in large-scale industrial development. Whether these investments will return profits for investors is yet unsure.

It is more uncertain whether these investments will have any positive effect for most Afghans. ...

But it is equally clear that the liberation of capital is successfully proceeding. Resource and infrastructure development projects on multi-billion dollar scales are rapidly proceeding. It is evident that states and investors are beginning to invest heavily in large-scale industrial development. Whether these investments will return profits for investors is yet unsure.

(snip)

If nothing else, the Global War on Terror
Opened Afghanistan for Business

Developing the Aynak copper deposit – one of the largest in the world – is the first mega-project to begin in Afghanistan, since the 1970s. ...

(snip)

The recent announcement that the long-anticipated TAPI gas pipeline will proceed indicates not the end game sought by American strategists, but the beginning of a long-term strategic process to construct a contemporary equivalent of the ancient Silk Road to reconnect the disparate regions of Eurasia.

Why would the U.S., the UK, and Canada sacrifice lives and resources to protect foreign investors in Afghanistan?

(snip)

The Canadian, American, and British mining corporations that bid on Aynak can rely on state-financed insurance schemes to insure their foreign investments, but not to insure anywhere near the capital needed for this risky project. The Chinese state-enterprise, on the other hand, could rely both on the deep reserves of the Chinese state and China's need to satisfy its own insatiable demand for copper. While it might seem ludicrous that the U.S./NATO forces are protecting a Chinese investment, it makes strategic sense for a state – the United States – whose primary explicit interest is globalizing free trade.

China is financing all the risk in the Aynak project. However, private investors from any state will potentially share the benefits of the Chinese financed transportation, communications, and energy infrastructure when developing future projects. ...

In the case of the TAPI gas pipeline, the U.S. supported this project to forestall a competing Iranian plan to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan through Iran. Both the Aynak mine and the TAPI gas pipeline are consistent with America's explicitly stated strategy of engaging China in the globalizing system of liberalization, while containing Iran in an attempt to modify its behaviour.

America’s Globalizing Liberalization Strategy

The American strategy is explicitly (although not necessarily clearly) stated in two Bush era documents – the U.S. National Security Strategy 2002/2006 (aka The Bush doctrine) and the U.S. National Defense Strategy 2008 – both of which continue to guide the Obama administration and the foreign policies of America's closest allies including Canada.

In a chapter titled, “Ignite a New Era of Global Economic Growth through Free Markets and Free Trade,” the Bush Doctrine explains that “real freedom” is free trade. Globalizing this so-called “real freedom” whether through diplomacy, economic coercion, or warfare is the explicit strategy of the USA.

America's strategy to globally liberate capital investors is not new, nor is the more publicized feature of the Bush Doctrine – pre-emptive military action. The U.S. was globalizing free trade and regularly using pre-emptive military force as a tactic to implement its strategy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. What is new in the Bush Doctrine is that this strategy is explicitly stated.

U.S.-led military operations are currently – in the best-case scenario – establishing a bridgehead in Central Asia to further engage China, Russia, India, and Pakistan in the globalization of free trade, while containing Iran until it might modify its behaviour. In a worst-case scenario, U.S. forces will contain any state, including China, which might deviate from globalizing free trade. American strategists outline this two-track engagement-containment policy in the 2008 U.S. National Defense Strategy.

(snip)

The American-led Global Protection Racket

(snip)

The challenge for the U.S., as Zbigniew Brzezinski has argued since the 1990s, is that whoever controls Central Asia including Afghanistan will control Eurasia and consequently the world. The problem for the U.S. is that, other than its military power, it has no comparative advantage economically, politically, or socially over other powerful states in the competition for influence in Central Asia. A constant state of insecurity in the region is, thus, to America's advantage.

Liberalization, whether in economic, political, or social terms, is in a state of disrepute globally. Liberalization has lost its attraction. Seemingly, the only viable alternative to globalizing liberalization is coercion – force the foreigners to liberalize. However, this tactic is not working in Afghanistan.

Roots of Afghan Resistance – Four Innings of the Great Game

(snip)

Afghans of all Afghanistan's multicultural nations, even those who Westerners might judge as illiterate, have rich traditions of oral history through which they learn their own histories. Considering Afghan history, it should not be surprising, as Afghans constantly reminded me during my visit, that they are sceptical of promises they will be liberated as a result of Western intervention.

The 1st Inning – 19th Century to WWI

Throughout the 19th century the leaders of the British, Russian, and Persian (Iranian) empires redrew the borders of Afghanistan, so this fledgling multi-cultural nation-state would serve as a buffer zone between their empires. This purpose for Afghanistan as a buffer state, which was thrust upon it by competing empires would prevail throughout the first three innings of the Great Game until the collapse of the USSR left the U.S. as the sole superpower.

After losing three wars in Afghanistan, the British finally withdrew from Afghanistan after WWI to end the first inning of the Great Game. The Russian Tsar facing a popular revolution had his own domestic problems to deal with, so Russians briefly lost interest in Afghanistan as well.

(snip)

The 4th Inning – New World Order, American Primacy & the Empire of Capital

With the collapse of the Soviet empire, the need to use Afghanistan as a buffer state ceased, but its geopolitical and economic importance on the Eurasian supercontinent remains. Unlike the three previous innings of the Great Game during which Afghanistan was used to contain competitors, Afghanistan is now a bridgehead to engage America's competitors China, Russia, and India. Nonetheless, it is still used to contain and pacify potential spoilers to the expansion of free trade in Iran, Pakistan, and the volatile Central Asian states. In a worst-case scenario, if the current environment deteriorated, U.S./NATO forces based in Afghanistan could be used to contain China, Russia, or India.

George Bush Sr. re-proclaimed Woodrow Wilson's dream of a New World Order as the Soviet empire collapsed. However, rather than a multilateral world order of united nations, this is a hierarchical world order in which the U.S. declares its exceptional right to unilaterally invade any state that threatens American primacy. It is a liberal world order ruled by an American-led although not exclusively American Empire of Capital engaging in pre-emptive war as a tactic to further globalize economic liberalization.

The Aynak mine and the TAPI gas pipeline, along with dozens of other mega-projects for trade, resource extraction, and commercial infrastructure development, were envisaged decades ago. ...

(snip)

From 1996 to 2001, the U.S. tacitly recognized the de facto governments of both Islamic Republics, and frequently played one against the other in negotiations to among other things, proceed with the original TAPI gas pipeline proposal.

In the end, the significant difference between the two opposing regimes was not that the Taliban was a regressive and brutal regime and the UIF were benevolent. ... The significant difference was that the Taliban were less willing to bend to American demands; whereas, the UIF leaders were prepared to profit from a closer relationship with the U.S. and its closest allies.

The events of 9/11 provided the pretext to eliminate the Taliban along with al-Qaeda to begin a Global War on Terror with overt and covert military operations in every region of the world from the Philippines to Africa and Latin America.

The Next Inning of the Great Game – Corporate Expansion and Social Repression?

The first Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with Canadian help has been re-instituted as the Karzai led third Islamic Republic. Like its predecessors, it began collapsing at its inception. For almost ten years Canadians fought to protect it. ...

(snip)

With Afghanistan opening for business there are promises Afghans will reap the rewards. However, if the history of development of other states “blessed” with natural resources in the past few centuries holds true, Afghans are most likely to suffer the negative political, social, and environmental effects of the so-called “resource curse.”

Any profits that might be directed toward Afghans will likely be needed to pay Western military and security equipment suppliers who are equipping the hundreds of thousands of national security forces and rebuilding an Afghan air force that is likely to cost many hundreds of billions of dollars.

What Are We Training Afghans For?

Are we training Afghan soldiers and police only to kill terrorists, or are we training them to also suppress any Afghan activists who might resist their loss of freedom or destruction of their environment during the inevitably conflictual process of economic liberalization and industrial development?

The American record, in recent decades, of training military and police who then become war criminals and human rights abusers is horrific. (my emphasis) ...

Do we think sustaining the Global War on Terror whether by direct combat, or by providing training and arms supplies, will transform the people Michael Ignatieff dismissively refers to as “barbarians” in his book Empire Lite?

(snip)

This is the legacy of several centuries of economic liberalization and warfare in Afghanistan. As chaotic as it is, it presents a better environment for returning large profits on capital investment than one in which social movements, environmental movements, and labour unions might freely form to resist and mitigate if not eliminate the prime interest of corporate profit seeking.

Re. the expansion of "free trade" in Iran, Iran being one of the countries the western capitalists target, think of this when considering the "Green Movement" in Iran. It was not backed by the US and Washington did not have the NED involved with this political movement out of good will, respect for human rights, et cetera. Many members of the movement might not realize it, but the NED is regularly involved in "color revolutions" and it's always for western capitalists.

Below are a couple of additional articles providing analyses on the energy resources and pipelines. The piece by Pepe Escobar begins with an intro. by Tom Engelhardt.

"China’s Pipelineistan “War”
Anteing Up, Betting, and Bluffing in the New Great Game
"

by Pepe Escobar, Oct. 12, 2010

www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175306/tomgram%3A_pepe_escobar,_pipelineistan's_new_silk_road__

"Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network
The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda, Part II
"

by Andrew Gavin Marshall, Sept. 8, 2010

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20944

And the following is an article I just came across in doing a Web search for the complete title of Zbigniew Brzezinski's book.

"A War In The Planning for Four Years - How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

Zbigniew Brzezinski and the CFR Put War Plans In a 1997 Book -
It Is "A Blueprint for World Dictatorship," Says a Former German Defense and NATO Official Who Warned of Global Domination in 1984, in an Exclusive Interview With FTW"

by Michael C. Ruppert, undated

www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/zbig.html

There's a copyright for the article and it says that posting at a .com Web site requires permission from him, so I won't excerpt or quote any of the body of the text; will only provide the complete title and link.

It's very probable that a former military and NATO official was able to foresee the movement of the West for global domination in 1984. Anyone who knew enough about the Cold War and what this represented, which didn't require expert knowledge, could have had the same foresight. It's essentially what the Cold War was about; global dominance for the US. And that will always have its economic basis, rather than being only about political power. Dominating energy resource markets worldwide is, therefore, strategically necessary; if the US is to gain global dominance with its strategically necessary partner, NATO.

Americans who still don't know what the war on Afghanistan, or now Af-Pak war, is about just need to read.

Glenn Greenwald about Bradley Manning, and corrupt Wired.com?:

I got the link from a copy of the piece at Uruknet yesterday, and based on the brief excerpt in the main page at Uruknet, this seems to be an important article.

"The worsening journalistic disgrace at Wired"
by Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 27, 2010

www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/27/wired

(updated below)

For more than six months, Wired's Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed -- but refuses to publish -- the key evidence in one of the year's most significant political stories: the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks' source. In late May, Adrian Lamo -- at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning -- gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen (linked) and Lamo (linked) confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs: Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.

Despite that, on June 10, Wired published what it said was only "about 25 percent" of those logs, (linked) excerpts that it hand-picked. For the last six months, Poulsen has not only steadfastly refused to release any further excerpts, but worse, has refused to answer questions about what those logs do and do not contain. This is easily one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year: it is just inconceivable that someone who claims to be a "journalist" -- or who wants to be regarded as one -- would actively conceal from the public, for months on end, the key evidence in a political story that has generated headlines around the world. (linked)

In June, I examined the long, strange and multi-layered relationship between Poulsen and Lamo, (linked) and in that piece raised the issue of Wired's severe journalistic malfeasance in withholding these chat logs. But this matter needs to be revisited now for three reasons:

(1) For the last six months, Adrian Lamo has been allowed to run around making increasingly sensationalistic claims about what Manning told him; journalists then prominently print Lamo's assertions, but Poulsen's refusal to release the logs or even verify Lamo's statements prevents anyone from knowing whether Lamo's claims about what Manning said are actually true.

(2) There are new, previously undisclosed facts about the long relationship between Wired/Poulsen and a key figure in Manning's arrest -- facts that Poulsen inexcusably concealed.

(3) Subsequent events gut Poulsen's rationale for concealing the logs and, in some cases, prove that his claims are false.

Much of the new evidence cited here has been found and compiled by Firedoglake in three valuable indices: the key WikiLeaks-Manning articles, a timeline of the key events and the various excerpts of the Manning/Lamo chat logs published by different parties. (all linked)

* * * * *

Poulsen's concealment of the chat logs is actively blinding journalists and others who have been attempting to learn what Manning did and did not do. By allowing the world to see only the fraction of the Manning-Lamo chats that he chose to release, Poulsen has created a situation in which his long-time "source," Adrian Lamo, is the only source of information for what Manning supposedly said beyond those published exceprts. Journalists thus routinely print Lamo's assertions about Manning's statements even though -- as a result of Poulsen's concealment -- they are unable to verify whether Lamo is telling the truth. Due to Poulsen, Lamo is now the one driving many of the media stories about Manning and WikiLeaks even though Lamo (a) is a convicted felon, (linked) (b) was (as Poulsen strangely reported at the time) involuntarily hospitalized (linked) for severe psychiatric distress a mere three weeks before his chats with Manning, and (c) cannot keep his story straight about anything from one minute to the next.

To see how odious Poulsen's concealment of this evidence is, consider this December 15 New York Times article by Charlie Savage, (linked) which reports that the DOJ is trying to prosecute WikiLeaks based on the theory that Julian Assange "encouraged or even helped" Manning extract the classified information. Savage extensively quotes Lamo claiming that Manning told him all sorts of things about WikiLeaks and Assange that are not found in the portions of the chat logs published by Wired:

(snip)

There's plenty more to the article. The above is not even half of the full piece, which is clearly important. It should definitely be widely read.

Ralph Nader's excellent defense of Wikileaks:

I'll excerpt a little from the article linked in the article of this page.

"Wikimania and the First Amendment"
by Ralph Nader, Dec. 20, 2010

www.commondreams.org/view/2010/12/20-7

(snip)

Consider what Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel in George W. Bush's Justice Department just wrote:

"In Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing towards Wikileaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information."

(snip)

Wasn't it Jefferson who said that "information is the currency of democracy" and that, given a choice between government and a free press, he'll take the latter? ...

(snip)

As Cong. Ron Paul said on the House floor, why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government's failure to protect classified information? He asked his colleagues which events caused more deaths, "Lying us into war, or the release of the Wikileaks papers?"

(snip)

That's only excerpting some of the defense of Wikileaks stated in the article. It's short and also has some worrisome content about the potential for what the government is doing against Wikileaks and Julian Assange could lead to serious Internet restrictions that would diminish Internet freedom and First Amendment (FA) rights. That's a concern some other people have also written about, but it's one that seems to be generally unmentioned by writers defending what Wikileaks has been doing. WL needs to perform its releases of the leaks WL received and will receive in the future, but the population needs to also be prepared to battle for Internet freedom and FA rights. So it's relevant for these writers to remind readers about this concern that might become a full-blown issue or fight.

In that regard, I'll excerpt the last two paragraphs of the article.

Professor and ex-Bushite Jack Goldsmith summed up his thoughts this way: "The best thing to do....would be to ignore Assange and fix the secrecy system so this does not happen again."

That presumably is some of what Peter Zatko and his crew are now trying to do at the Pentagon's famed DARPA unit. That secret initiative may ironically undermine the First Amendment should they succeed too much in hamstringing the Internet earlier advanced by that same Pentagon unit.

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