By Arthur Piccolo
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 9, 2012: No matter how quickly President Obama “says” he is going to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, it does nothing to legitimize HIS favorite war.
The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan began under George Bush to dire consequences. And Obama, once he became President, proclaimed that Afghanistan was the “war” he supported and wanted to vigorously wage, not the one in Iraq – the “bad” war for him.
The CORRECTION that must be made again and again is that these are invasions and occupations. Calling them “wars” only and very knowingly mislabels them as military actions America had no choice but to take because America was threatened, which of course according to the U.S. Constitution requires a “declaration of war.” This never happens in these types of pre-planned, very optional conflicts.
For Obama, during his campaign to declare his opposition to Iraq, supported Afghanistan because of blatant politics. By criticizing Iraq, he picked up support of the many critics of that invasion and occupation.
Then by supporting “war” in Afghanistan, he proved that he was no fuzzy liberal and that he would be strong militarily as President – allowing him to undermine claims he would not be a strong President and appeasing the Right Wing.
It may have contributed to his election but it also trapped him into that position and made him open to manipulation especially by the U.S. military brass, who said that he needed a SURGE in Afghanistan and that would win this “war” and make Obama a wartime hero. Obama took the bait – what else would he do? What brings up Afghanistan yet again today while all the talk has been about Iran, Iran, Iran.
Two front page articles in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times today helped as I sit down to write my weekly Commentary.
The front page article in The Wall Street Journal is titled “Afghan Air Force in Drug Probe.” The NY Times front page article is titled “ Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy.”
The two articles may have just as well been combined. They both once again identify what has already been done so many times before and what Obama knew all along – that Afghanistan is mired in corruption and tribalism that no amount of American soldiers nor hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars all told a Trillion is going to solve. In fact, what all this U.S. money is doing more so than anything else in Afghan history is FEEDING the corruption to a point of absolute gluttony.
Never have so many corrupt Afghans become so rich and never has corruption been as widespread as once the Americans arrived and more than ever when Obama decided to greatly escalate our involvement once he became President.
So that more Americans have needlessly died in Afghanistan; hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars have been wasted and fed Afghan corruption and if anything made it harder to end because Barack Obama became President of the United States.
That is not the image of Obama his supporters want. Or any of us should want. But that is what we got.
All of it proves once again the “hopelessness” of the U.S. political system for real change. The majority of voters are left to choose the less objectionable alternative not a candidate who will bring REAL change to The White House. Obama proved the master of selling us “change” and then not delivering it. Afghanistan is the same old story of American imperialism and colonialism that is sucking life from America, raising cynicism and undermining our image worldwide. So much for change we can believe in!
Sure you can make a convincing argument most of us would be worse off had Republican and unabashed military lover John McCain been elected President. But that is the point. We vote against the worst candidate and fortify ourselves by believing the lies of the one we support. Americans would rather not believe we are voting for more of the same because we want to believe in change that never comes from one Presidential election to the next.
It is going to be the same this time. It now looks like the majority will WASTE their vote on Barack Obama because the alternative is so much worse. Rather than as I have proposed this situation is “perfect” for Democrats to nominate someone else who might be a real change master and not reward Obama for being a master of the Status Quo. I may also be a lone voice in this Wilderness.
As for those two articles in this Thursday’s Journal and Times they are still worth quoting from to remind you how insane Obama’s war really is …
From the NY Times: “Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy” (as if there is any true strategy involved) … the article begins by telling how the Afghan who stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. bankrolled Kabul Bank is not in jail but rather plays high stakes poker with his cronies each night many of his poker buddies members of President Karzai’s inner circle.
Now to quote the article …“Thousands of dollars a night in a country where most families live off a few hundred dollars a year would seem like a bad play for Sherkhan Farnood, the founder and former chairman of Kabul Bank, the country’s biggest. His assets are supposed to be frozen, and he is still facing the threat of prosecution over a scandal that could end up costing the Afghan government — and, by extension, the Western countries that pay most of its expenses — almost $900 million, a sum that nearly equals the government’s total annual revenues.”
But far worse is the story of General Ahmad Zia Yaftali, until recently the Afghan Army’s former surgeon general who was discovered stealing tens of millions of dollars worth of drugs from the military’s main military hospital. Of course those were millions of dollars of drugs supplied by the U.S. taxpayers us.
Yaftali then used the drugs to force wounded and injured Afghani soldiers and their families to pay bribes in return for drugs if they wanted to be treated for their wounds or illness. Or to quote NY Times directly from the article: “Afghan soldiers regularly died from simple infections because they could not afford to bribe nurses or doctors to treat them.” Again this is Obama’s “war.”
Have no doubt Obama is outraged to read of such abuses. But what does he do about it? Once again, so called Afghani President Karzai is protecting his buddy Ahmad Zia Yaftali and what happened when the U.S. was about to issue nothing more than a statement criticizing Karzai buddy Yaftali.
To quote The Times article again, “The statement was never released. According to two NATO officials, the commander of coalition forces, Gen. John R. Allen, decided there was little to gain in picking a fight with Mr. Karzai over the matter.”
That’s right! The U.S. decided there was too little to gain by publicly complaining that an Afghan general and Karzi crony who stole tens of millions of dollars of U.S. supplied drugs and allowed Afghani soldiers to die if they would not pay bribes to get the drugs they needed dying even from even simple infections. Obama’s war!
Enough of that. Let’s turn to The Wall Street Journal and its front page article today Thursday, March 8, 2012, titled “ Afghan Air Force Probed in Drug Running.” Again U.S. funds put to “good” (sic) use.
The article opens: “The U.S. is investigating allegations that some officials in the Afghan Air Force, which was established largely with American funds, have been using aircraft to ferry narcotics and illegal weapons around the country, American officials told The Wall Street Journal.”
Or how about this … “As part of the inquiry, the military also is looking into whether the alleged transporting of illegal drugs and weapons was linked to an April incident in which an AAF colonel gunned down eight U.S. Air Force officers at Kabul Airport. In a 436-page report released by the U.S. Air Force in January about the killings, several American officials are quoted as mentioning that the shooter, Col. Ahmed Gul, was likely involved in the transportation of illicit cargo and wanted to shut down a probe into it.”
The article goes on and on with details concerning the Afghan Air Force’s involvement in drugs and illegal weapon trafficking. Afghanistan accounts for 90% of illegal opium production and now the U.S. is supplying the Afghan Air Force with planes and helicopters and in effect paying with more U.S. funds and equipment for their Air Force personnel to ferry the drugs more efficiently than they ever were before. So this is Barack Obama’s war we should believe in.
Once again there is a “probe” being conducted just as there was mentioned in the NY Times article about the Afghan surgeon general stealing tens of millions of dollars in U.S. supplied drugs then bribing soldiers if they wanted to get any of them.
That probe was squashed because it would embarrass President Hamid Karzai as will this probe be. The U.S. is propping up Karzai again and again and again – who to remind you the U.S. in effect installed as President of Afghanistan some years ago – Karzai who is at the pinnacle of the corruption that is at the very heart of every part of Afghani society. Karzai who stole the last election with American support.
Obama’s war and all the Americans killed there and the trillion U.S. dollars being spent there are making the corruption far worse than it has ever been by throwing so much more money into that corrupt pot and using U.S. soldiers to protect this corruption racket and hundreds dying in the process. So why are we there??
There is no good reason we are in Afghanistan. There is such a large insurgency there because most Afghanis are victims of this corrupt regime. The fact that the insurgents are in no way the kind of revolutionaries Americans should ever like does not justify our being there militarily and only making things worse. In effect, feeding the insurgencies support by supporting one of the most corrupt regimes on Earth.
But Obama gets away with it by putting a “noble” label on it and needless to say lie that he is protecting Americans from “terrorists” who don’t exist in any significant number there and have shown no ability to attack the U.S. If there are a few terrorists there we should be targeting them not the Afghan people by propping up one of the most corrupt regimes on Earth supplying it American troops and unlimited funding.
Then again who does Obama have to worry about? Only the Republicans who dream of even more U.S. military forces and funds spread everywhere. That any President who does not prove he is strong on military force is a traitor to America.
In this environment of manipulated fear and loathing all Obama has to do is prove to the majority of Americans who are not extreme right wing Republicans that he is not and the far “better” alternative to the crazies taking over.
So this game goes on and on. And nothing changes.
About The Writer: Arthur Piccolo is a professional writer and commentator and often writes about Latin America for New Americas.