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The surge

I talk about “the surge” because this is something new. This was President Obama’s policy to differentiate himself from the Bush/Cheney Administration. The Iraq war was bad and we were going to pull out. That’s what we were told. But the pullout is not going to happen, in my opinion. They are going to be in Iraq now in these huge crusader-style fortresses for eternity, as they promise us, unless the Iraqis drive us out. The British did it in the forties and fifties and were finally driven out. So whether that happens, we’ll see. But that’s another story. There’s been no withdrawal from Iraq either, except a withdrawal from these towns to these big bases. But that was what was promised—withdrawal from Iraq but escalation in Afghanistan and religious language was used, citing the Cold War rhetoric of Reinhold Niebuhr, of fighting evil, “good versus evil,” that’s how it started. That’s what we are in Afghanistan for, to “fight evil” and of course we can’t leave. That is why we have to send more troops, to stabilize the situation so we can leave. If you want a particularly contorted defense of this position written, I hate to say this, but really written for idiots who know nothing about Afghanistan, I would recommend the article of the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in the New York Review of Books. It is truly appalling, without understanding what’s going on in the country, bland, one cliché dripping onto the pages after another, but at least saying one thing which is of interest: that we can’t stay there.

The U.S. Marines went back in and with knives took the bullets out of everyone there, especially the women and children, so no one would know American bullets had been used to kill them.

Even General Eikenberry has said we can’t stay here forever because the big difference between the situation now and when the U.S. landed is that the occupation itself has made the country angry. You read between the lines or in the lines even, of what the people who go to Afghanistan from the United States say, intelligence, non-intelligence, intelligent journalists, unintelligent journalists, they all come back with one story that no one challenges: the bulk of the people don’t want us there; we have antagonized them. And that is why Eikenberry opposed the surge, because he said if you send in more troops, you kill more civilians, and if you kill more civilians, you antagonize whole new swathes of Pashtuns who join the insurgents and the resistance. It is A, B, C. It has happened in every resistance since time immemorial. And that is what has been happening.

You see, since the surge began, the big publicity machines going into operation—another victory, yes, we’ve captured this, we are now going to attack Kandahar… In fact, disaster stories. Total and complete disaster stories. And you read side-by-side with these big propaganda stories smaller, quite shocking stories, of which many more happen, if you read the vernacular press in Pakistan (because that reports them). But occasionally they find a way into the mainstream press in the United States and Britain and other parts of Europe.

Let’s just see one story. The U.S. Special Black Ops Squad targets a house because they think insurgents are in the house. They don’t explain why they think that, but they say they’re pretty sure. They attack the house and kill everyone in it. In that house is a family, a large joined family. Everyone is killed. Women, children, a pregnant woman—this happened in February—are killed. Realizing what they’ve done… but the story is already going out: “We had a targeted attack on an insurgent house and it was successful.” Then, a London Times journalist who’s there, embedded with the troops, finds out what really happens. That it was a completely innocent family that was killed, that they went back in, the marines on these special operations, and with knives took the bullets out of everyone there, especially the women and children, so that no one would know American bullets had been used to kill them and to cover up the whole story. Now this is a tiny cover up. But there have been big cover ups since.

A week after this event happened, a passenger bus on its way to Kandahar was bombed and hit by helicopter gunships. Why? Because the troops on the ground had said that the bus was traveling in a funny way, and may have insurgents in it. So they fired at the bus and killed a few dozen people, wounded several dozen others, and even Karzai once again had to say, “This is atrocious, how the hell can we do anything if this is going on?” This is the concrete result of the surge, essentially. And Petraeus who ordered it and convinced Obama to go ahead with it against the advice of Eikenberry and others within the U.S. Army, must be made accountable. I mean, he should be summoned by a Senate Foreign Relations Committee and questioned. You know, “we’ve had the surge now. This is what you guys are doing. How is this going to help anyone? The Afghans who you claim you go in to help or even the United States, whatever their point of view, how is this sort of behavior going to help anyone?”

So the situation now in my opinion is totally out of control and they know it. Which is why Karzai talks of joining the Taliban. Which is why the official line of the West as you can read even in the mealy-mouthed article produced by the British Secretary in the New York Review of Books, and the statements of Biden and others, is that they’ve now discovered that there’s a good Taliban and a bad Taliban. Like there was a good war (Afghanistan) and a bad war (Iraq), now there’s a good Taliban and a bad Taliban. Who are the good Taliban? The good Taliban are essentially those people directly controlled by Pakistani military intelligence, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an old, old veteran guerrilla jihadi who fought with the United States and Pakistan against the Russians in the ’80s. But this guy has been on the Pakistani military intelligence’s payroll for a long, long time. He claims to have in Afghanistan a group of people who are prepared to collaborate and join Karzai’s government, provided that the United States behaves themselves, stops killing civilians, even they say that!

The bad Taliban are the ones who say, we are prepared to be part of a national government—not that we don’t want to take power ourselves—we are happy to be part of a national government, but once all foreign troops have gone. And that is the view which more and more Afghans are now putting forward. And the people the United States could depend on, the Northern Alliance people in the north, basically take their orders from Moscow. I mean, let’s be totally blunt about it. So a lot will depend on what the Russians tell them. And at the moment if you read the Russian press, there are of course many veterans of the Russian war in Afghanistan who are feeling a sense of Schadenfreude. They’re saying, “Well it happened to us, now it’s happening to you, you have to get out.” That is what the Russian press is reporting. The latest upheaval in Kyrgyzstan—the first statement of the new president, Rosa (named, by the way, after Rosa Luxemburg in the old days) actually said, “One of the first things we’re going to do is to ask the Americans to close down the base.” After a conversation with Putin, she said, “Well, we will negotiate the American presence.” But clearly there’s pressure building up.

In other words, if the draft constitution had gone through, women in Afghanistan would have had the right to vote before they did in the United States and Britain and most parts of the West.

The other ally which gave the U.S. the green light to occupy both Iraq and Afghanistan are the Iranian clerics. I mean, it’s no secret now. It’s come out, close advisers to President Bush who were in the White House negotiating with the Iranians and actually negotiated this tricky business of getting the Iranians to agree to a U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan—they have come out publicly and said that the Iranian decision not to oppose us was crucial. They said it on the Charlie Rose show not so long ago, I think two or three weeks ago, and they’re absolutely right. Because without that Iranian backing it would have been very difficult for the U.S. to pull off Iraq and Afghanistan. But they are now in the business of antagonizing the Iranians saying, “We’re going to impose sanctions,” and this is all largely under Israeli pressure. So the U.S. finds itself more isolated today in Afghanistan than it was in 2001, when virtually the whole world supported it.

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