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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Remember Us?

While we've been concentrating on the braintrust's flypaper theory in play in Iraq, we get blindsided by that other country we've had troops bogged down in.

The remains of 16 American troops have been recovered in eastern Afghanistan, where a military helicopter crashed after coming under hostile fire this week, the Pentagon said today.

The military originally said 17 service members were onboard the American Chinook helicopter. But Lt. Gen. James Conway, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a Washington press conference that the death toll had been revised down, saying no other troops were lost "that we're aware of."

....

In the latest case, the helicopter crashed in the mountains near Asadabad and slipped into a deep ravine after it was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades as it approached a landing area, the military said. A second U.S. aircraft flying near the helicopter reported the hostile fire.

Conway described the rocket-propelled grenade hit as a "pretty lucky shot" against a moving helicopter. He said he has seen no other signs of attackers using more sophisticated weapons.



I suppose that last part might seem slightly reassuring (presuming it wasn't your son on that Chinook), were it not for the growing frequency of reports of a growing Taliban resurgency. Note that well, because the idea was that the fabled Northern Alliance warlords we left the country to were supposed to squash the remaining Taliban cockroaches for us.

But there's that old saying, probably circulated by Kipling or some such, that you can't buy an Afghan, you can only rent him for a while.


Violence has increased sharply in recent months. A resurgent Taliban movement is mounting daily attacks in southern Afghanistan, gangs are kidnapping foreigners here in the capital, and radical Islamists are orchestrating violent demonstrations against the government and foreign- financed organizations.

....

The steady stream of violence has dealt a new blow to this still traumatized nation of 25 million. In dozens of interviews conducted in recent weeks around the country, Afghans voiced concern that the situation is not improving and that the Taliban and other dangerous elements are gaining strength.

They also expressed increased dissatisfaction with their own government and the way the U.S. military is conducting its operations, and they said they are suspicious of the Americans' long-term intentions.

"Three years on, the people are still hoping that things are going to work out, but they have become suspicious about why the Americans came and why the Americans are treating the local people badly," said Jandad Spinghar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Nangarhar province in the east, just across the Khyber Pass from Pakistan.

Poverty, joblessness, frustrated expectations and the culture of 25 years of war make for a volatile mix in which U.S. military raids, shootings and detention of Afghans can inflame public opinion, many people said.

....

The Taliban's spring offensive has jolted both the U.S. military and the Karzai government, which had been saying that the Taliban were largely defeated and that Afghanistan was consolidating behind its first elected national leader.

"We were wrong," a senior Afghan government official acknowledged, saying of the Taliban, "It seems they were spending the time preparing."

....

While the government blames the Taliban -- and its Pakistani and al Qaeda backers -- for the violence, ordinary Afghans blame the American military for drawing militant Islamic fighters to the country and then failing to control them.



You know, maybe -- it's a crazy thought, I know, but hear me out -- maybe if we had truly finished the job in Afghanistan before diverting money to get ready for the so-called low-hanging fruit, the proverbial easy money, we might be getting somewhere.

Instead, we're stuck in two countries dealing with two different culture clashes, two different insurgencies, two different ways of being stuck -- and both were preventable! That's what's so galling; it didn't have to happen this way. A patient hand would have spent that money on Afghan self-defense and infrastructure, rather than getting a forward-deployment base ready in Qatar. A supposed MBA like Bush should have known that roads mean trade, and trade means self-sufficiency and pulling oneself up from the ravages of war.

We had a real opportunity to help the Afghan people, to build a true shining example for the rest of Islam to observe and evaluate on their own terms, to see that we're the good guys. And we pissed it away on the neocon folly.

If you performed like this at your job, you'd be fuckin' fired. What the hell does it take to get rid of all these incompetent disassemblers on our payroll?

112 comments:

vonKreedon said...

Indeed the heedless rush to war was such a FUBARed waste of opportunity as to make me weep. If we had taken the time and effort we could have been in a position to implement an effective economic reconstruction program in Iraq that would have short circuited the insurgency. We could have taken the country and put the Iraqis to work rebuilding their country, instead we seemed more intent on hiring US companies and US citizens than we were in actually rebuilding Iraq. Desperately unemployed people make a great recruiting population for insurgents. I am less sanguine about the potential for stabilizing Afghanistan no matter what we had done, though we certainly could have kept our focus on utterly destroying the Taliban/al Qaeda in Afghanistan before we moved on to more tangental targets. And we certainly could have done more to assist the Afghani central government than we have if not for our distraction in Iraq.

Craig Heath said...

Well, targeting only Al Qaeda (the real culprits), helping Afghanis rid themselves of the Taliban (a key difference, I think,) and even rebuilding the country into something they would consider good (another key difference, I think) would not have put billions into the pockets of American corporations, nor would it have provided the US military with the forward presence it wants, nor would it place a strategic cordon around the region for upcoming power politics.

That's what they wanted, that's what they're getting, and it has nothing to do with fighting terrorism or getting revenge on bin Laden or anything else that has been said.

The world is a game or Stratego to these people. The game pieces bleed and die in this version, but what's that compared to global hegemony for those who lust for power and more multi-million dollar bonuses for those who lust for money?

Peace don't turn a buck. War is a racket. Only foot soldiers fight for principle.

I'll go lie down now.

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Peace don't turn a buck. War is a racket. Only foot soldiers fight for principle.

That is an excellent piece of writing. If I were into tag lines I'd be very tempted to kip it.

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The herbs, Thyme and Rosemary can be grown in pots and used when needed. To create essential oils from herbs, stew some large amounts in pure water, collect the steam and cool it. The oil will rise to the top of the drained water and can be collected with an eyedropper. Alternatively, a "flower still" can be purchased to make the job easier. Thyme and Rosemary are both antiseptics and can be used in skin care preparations. They are also delicious when used in cooking.

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