- The Proxy War?
By Andrew J. Bacevich
October 12, 2009 "Boston
Globe" -- No
serious person thinks that Afghanistan - remote,
impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state -
seriously matters to the United States. Yet with the war
in its ninth year, the passions raised by the debate over
how to proceed there are serious indeed. Afghanistan
elicits such passions because people understand that in
rendering his decision on Afghanistan, President Obama
will declare himself on several much larger issues. In
this sense, Afghanistan is a classic proxy war, with the
main protagonists here in the United States.
The question of the moment, framed by the pro-war camp,
goes like this: Will the president approve the
Afghanistan strategy proposed by his handpicked commander
General Stanley McChrystal? Or will he reject that plan
and accept defeat, thereby inviting the recurrence of 9/11
on an even larger scale? Yet within this camp the appeal
of the McChrystal plan lies less in its intrinsic merits,
which are exceedingly dubious, than in its implications.
If the president approves the McChrystal plan he will
¦ Anoint counter-insurgency - protracted campaigns of
armed nation-building - as the new American way of war.
¦ Embrace George W. Bush's concept of open-ended war as
the essential response to violent jihadism (even if the
Obama White House has jettisoned the label "global
war on terror'').
¦ Affirm that military might will remain the principal
instrument for exercising American global leadership, as
has been the case for decades.
Implementing the McChrystal plan will perpetuate the
longstanding fundamentals of US national security policy:
maintaining a global military presence, configuring US
forces for global power projection, and employing those
forces to intervene on a global basis. Its purpose -
despite 9/11 and despite the failures of Iraq - is to
preserve the status quo.
Hawks understand this. That's why they are intent on
framing the debate so narrowly - it's either give
McChrystal what he wants or accept abject defeat. It's
also why they insist that Obama needs to decide
Yet people in the anti-war camp also understand the
stakes. Obama ran for the presidency promising change.
The doves sense correctly that Obama's decision on
Afghanistan may well determine how much - if any -
substantive change is in the offing.
If the president assents to McChrystal's request, he will
void his promise of change at least so far as national
security policy is concerned. As the fighting drags on
from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in
armed nation-building projects in distant lands will
become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come
to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young
Americans already do. That "keeping Americans safe''
obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit
unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly
If the Afghan war then becomes the consuming issue of
Obama's presidency - as Iraq became for his predecessor,
as Vietnam did for Lyndon Johnson, and as Korea did for
Harry Truman - the inevitable effect will be to
compromise the prospects of reform more broadly. At home
and abroad, the president who advertised himself as an
agent of change will instead have inadvertently erected
barriers to change. As for the American people, they will
be left to foot the bill.
This is a pivotal moment in US history. Americans owe it
to themselves to be clear about what is at issue. That
issue relates only tangentially to Al Qaeda, the Taliban,
or the well-being of the Afghan people. The real question
is whether "change'' remains possible.
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and
international relations at Boston University. His new
book "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent
War'' is forthcoming.
© Copyright 2009 GlobeNewspaper Company
president: Unknown helicopters transfer rebels to
Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Afghanistan President Hamid
Karzai has said that gunmen had been airdropped
by unknown helicopters to the relatively peaceful
northern provinces, a local newspaper reported
Karzai alleged Sunday that some unidentified
helicopters dropped armed men in northern Baghlan,
Kunduz, and Samangan provinces at night since the
past five months," local daily Outlook said.
president said "even today we received
reports that the furtive process is still ongoing."
to the newspaper, Karzai did not share the
evidence with journalists but said, "A
compressive investigation was underway to
determine which country the helicopters belonged
to; why armed men were being infiltrated into the
region; and whether increasing insecurity in the
north was linked to it."
governor of northern Balkh province said that
certain circles had been distributing weapons to
irresponsible men in the northern region to
Editor: Xiong Tongwww.chinaview.cn2009-10-12
AFP, February 21, 2008 WHAT is itALL ABOUT?
Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine
The USGS estimates there are about 700
billion cubic metres of gas and 300 million tonnes of oil
across several northern provinces.
is sitting on a wealth of mineral reserves -- perhaps the
richest in the region -- that offer hope for a country
mired in poverty after decades of war, the mining
Significant deposits of
copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal -- as well as
precious gems such as emeralds and rubies -- are largely
untapped and still being mapped, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel
And they promise
prosperity for one of the world's poorest countries, the
minister said, dismissing concerns that a Taliban-led
insurgency may thwart efforts to unearth this treasure.
Already in the pipeline is
the exploitation of a massive copper deposit -- one of
the biggest in the world -- about 30 kilometres (20 miles)
east of Kabul.
"There has not been
such a big project in the history of Afghanistan,"
Afghanistan is ranked as one of the
world's most corrupt countries by Transparency
International, a Berlin-based monitoring agency.
VOA, Feb.20, 2008
A 30-year lease for the
Aynak copper mine was in November offered to the China
Metallurgical Group Corporation and the contract is being
"It is estimated that
the Aynak deposit has more than 11 million tonnes (of
copper)," he said, citing 1960s surveys by the
Soviet Union and a new study by the United States
Geological Survey (USGS).
"With today's prices,
it contains an 88-billion-dollar deposit," he said.
The mine is expected to
bring the government 400 million dollars annually in fees
and taxes, Adel said.
That is on top of an 800-million-dollar
downpayment from the developer who has also committed to
build a railway line, a power plant and a village for
workers, complete with schools, clinics and roads.
About 5,000 jobs will be
created and mining is expected to start in five years.
"Up to 40 percent of the income will pour into our
pockets," Adel said.
The colossal Aynak project
represents, however, only a fraction of Afghanistan's
unexploited resources, he said. The scale of the deposits
is still being charted.
The USGS is carrying out a
nationwide survey of mineral wealth and oil and gas
deposits that is expected to be completed in a year, Adel
Studies of only 10 percent
of the country have discovered abundant deposits of
copper, iron, zinc, lead, gold, silver, gems, salt,
marble and coal, the ministry says.
The USGS estimates there
are about 700 billion cubic metres of gas and 300 million
tonnes of oil across several northern provinces.
A Soviet survey estimated
there are more than two billion tonnes of iron reserves,
the ministry says.
One of the best known iron
deposits is at Haji Gak, 90 kilometres west of Kabul.
"If everything goes
as we desire, Haji Gak requires two to three billion
dollars' investment," said the minister.
"Another 100 million
to 1.5 billion dollars is needed to explore the gas and
The government plans to
offer more projects for private sector tender next year,
There is already some
mining underway such as ad hoc emerald extraction in the
Panjshir valley region northeast of Kabul, where dynamite
is used to blow gems out of the ground.
And the ministry has
handed two coal mines to private Afghan companies,
although they lack standard equipment.
The site for the mine at Aynak, 60 km
southeast of Kabul contains the world's second-biggest
unexploited copper deposit with the potential to generate
revenue of $1.4 billion a year. Of greatest danger is the
threat of toxic waste which has led to environmental
damage around copper mines in several countries.
Reuters, Dec.12, 2007
The Aynak contract will be
a model for others, with developers expected to put in
basic infrastructure as Afghanistan's power grid is weak
and its transport network limited.
There is also the
challenge of the insurgency, which overshadows
development and has made many areas off-limits to foreign
Writer and analyst Waheed
Mujda warned there could be no mining in Taliban-held
areas, which are mostly in the south, without the
permission of the Islamic extremists.
"Any kind of
agreement with Taliban will have to involve money and
that money obviously would finance the insurgency in part,"
Mujda told AFP.
But Adel is not concerned.
"We can provide security for mining sites simply by
hiring a private security company," he said.
Most of the deposits
that have been discovered are in the relatively stable
north. There are, however, uranium reserves in the
southern province of Helmand, one of the worst for
Taliban attacks, the minister said.
The minister's sights are
firmly set on mining bringing his impoverished country a
"In five years' time
Afghanistan will not need the world's aid money," he
said. "In 10 years Afghanistan will be the richest
country in the region."
Was Ordered to Cover Up President Karzai Election Fraud,
Sacked UN Envoy Says
By Tom Coghlan
October 05, 2009 "The Times"
--- The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan has
been accused by his former deputy of ordering a
systematic cover-up to conceal the extent of electoral
fraud by President Karzai.
In an attack on the role of the UN in the elections on
August 20, Peter Galbraith, who was sacked as Deputy
Special Representative to the UN mission in Kabul last
week, says that Kai Eide ordered him not to reveal
evidence of fraud or to pass it to the authorities.As a
result, he said, the elections had handed the Taleban
its greatest strategic victory in eight years of
fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.
He says that the UN collected evidence that a third of Mr
Karzais votes were fraudulent. If the claim was
found to be true it would push Mr Karzai below the 54 per
cent that the preliminary election results give him,
necessitating a second round of voting.
The attack by Mr Galbraith seems timed to counter
indications that the US Government and international
community have accepted the official verdict of the
Afghan authorities and, with it, a Karzai Administration.
Mr Galbraith said that Mr Eide ordered him not to pursue
concerns that he expressed before the elections that the
Afghan President would use polling stations in unstable
areas to conduct fraud.
At other critical stages in the election process,
he wrote in The Washington Post, I was similarly
ordered not to pursue the issue of fraud.My staff
collected evidence on hundreds of cases of fraud around
the country and, more important, gathered information on
turnout in key southern provinces where few voters showed
up but large numbers of votes were being reported. Eide
ordered us not to share this data with anyone, including
the Electoral Complaints Commission, a UN-backed Afghan
institution legally mandated to investigate fraud.Since
Mr Galbraith was dismissed at least five of his
colleagues at the UN Afghan mission have resigned.
Mr Galbraith challenged claims made by Mr Eide that the
UN was not mandated to interfere in the Afghan electoral
process.He wrote: The UN Security Council directed
the UN mission to support Afghanistans electoral
institutions in holding a free, fair and
transparent vote, not a fraudulent one.
And with so much at stake and with more than
100,000 US and coalition troops deployed in the country
the international community had an obvious
interest in ensuring that Afghanistans election did
not make the situation worse.He also warned of
renewed inter-ethnic division because of anger over the
failure to deal with the alleged fraud.
A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
(UNAMA) denied the claims. Dan McNorton said: UNAMA
has not, does not and will not turn a blind eye to fraud.
Throughout this election the UN has insisted on a
rigorous adherence to the election processes. Our
neutrality will be paramount at all stages.
UN: 1,500 Afghan civilians dead in 8 months:
The UN said in a new report that NATO air
strikes were to blame for about a quarter of civilian
deaths across the war-ravaged country over the past
[Printer Friendly Version]
KABUL Afghanistan has reported outbreaks of
potentially lethal cholera in 10 provinces across the
impoverished country, the health ministry said on Sunday.
The ministry "has so far recorded 673 cases
countrywide" of the highly contagious disease in
almost a third of the country's 34 provinces, including
in the capital Kabul. No deaths have been reported.
"All outbreaks are under control and no active one
is reported as of today, September 13," a ministry
It said staff had been deployed to outbreak areas and
medication was being provided to try to prevent the
spread of the disease, which thrives where sanitation is
poor and can spread rapidly.
Afghanistan's health system has been battered by decades
of civil war, and facilities remain poor across the fifth
poorest country in the world.
UK defends bloody
rescue of reporter in Afghanistan, Well they would wouldn't
Fri, 11 Sep 2009
|Miliband had reportedly taken
the final decision to approve the use of force to
free the British journalist .
As British government comes under fire
over bloody raid to free a foreign journalist in
Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary David Miliband has
defended the mission. Miliband said the raid was the only
way to rescue New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell who
was abducted by the Taliban linked militants last week.
British-led commandos swooped on an insurgents' hideout
in northern Kunduz province before dawn on Wednesday and
managed to free Farrell.
Farrell, who holds dual British and Irish citizenships,
did not suffer any injures during the operation and was
successfully freed. However, his Afghan interpreter,
Sultan Munadi, was killed during the raid along with an
Afghan woman and child, as well as a British soldier.
British officials say it was Miliband and the UK Defense
Secretary, Bob Ainsworth who took the final decision to
approve the use of force to free Farrell. The London
government has been criticized at home and abroad for
launching a military operation without exhausting other
The Media Club of Afghanistan has blamed foreign troops
for the death of a colleague during the rescue operation.
The journalists group has also criticised NATO commandos
for leaving Sultan Munadi's body behind while they
rescued Farrell. (and the body of the British Soldier.JB)
Afghanistan media and journalists have expressed anger
over the incident, saying that they launch these
operations only to release their own people. Insurgency
has reached at its record level high across Afghanistan
since the US-led forces invaded the country eight years
SWEDISH HOSPITAL RAIDED BY USA TROOPS
A Swedish aid agency has accused American troops of
storming through one of its hospitals in Afghanistan,
breaking down doors and tying up staff, searching for
wounded 'Taliban fighters.'
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said Monday that
soldiers from the US Army's 10th Mountain Division
entered a hospital last week without permission in Wardak
province, southwest of Kabul.
"Upon entering the hospital they tied up four
employees and two family members of patients at the
hospital. SCA staffs as well as patients, even those in
beds, were forced out of rooms (and) wards throughout the
search," the SCA said in a statement on its website,
quoting country director Anders Fange.
The Swedish charity said the troops' actions were a
violation of the sanctity of medical facilities in combat
zones, the New York Times reported.
The SCA -- which helps the Afghans with education, health
and disability issues -- has been operational in
Afghanistan since the 1980s, working in 16 provinces
mostly in the east.
The US military said it was investigating the case.
The Big Lie of
the 954 deaths in police custody since 1990 have all
proved fruitless and then this historic case comes
By Malalai Joya
July 26, 2009
"The Guardian" -- July 25,
2009 -- In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to
the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for
office, were held up as an example of how the war in
Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a
facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.
On behalf of the
long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt
condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved
ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of
the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the
fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like
the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims
of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have
pursued under the leadership of the US government.
years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for
a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been
betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists
and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only
American strategic interests in the region.
understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is
full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed
of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible
crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.
my views I have been expelled from my seat in parliament,
and I have survived numerous assassination attempts. The
fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal
warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution for their
crimes should tell you all you need to know about the
"democracy" backed by Nato troops.
constitution it forbids those guilty of war crimes from
running for high office. Yet Karzai has named two
notorious warlords, Fahim and Khalili, as his running
mates for the upcoming presidential election. Under the shadow of
warlordism, corruption and occupation, this vote will
have no legitimacy, and once again it seems the real
choice will be made behind closed doors in the White
House. As we say in Afghanistan, "the same donkey
with a new saddle".
So far, Obama
has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan.
Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan
will only add fuel to the fire. Like many other Afghans,
I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to
teach at underground schools for girls. Today the
situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse
and rape find no justice because the judiciary is
dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women,
seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have
taken to suicide by self-immolation.
This week, US
vice-president Joe Biden asserted that "more loss of life [is] inevitable" in Afghanistan,
and that the ongoing occupation is in the "national
interests" of both the US and the UK.
I have a
different message to the people of Britain. I don't
believe it is in your interests to see more young people
sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers'
money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of
corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.
What's more, I
don't believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed
continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave
Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about
the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this
occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.
people want peace, and history teaches that we always
reject occupation and foreign domination. We want a
helping hand through international solidarity, but we
know that values like human rights must be fought for and
won by Afghans themselves.
I know there are
millions of British people who want to see an end to this
conflict as soon as possible. Together we can raise our
voice for peace and justice
Mullah Baradar: In His
NEWSWEEK Published Jul 25, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Aug 3, 2009
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been in
day-to-day command of the Afghan insurgency ever since
the Taliban's founder and leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar,
disappeared from view roughly three years ago. NEWSWEEK
hand-delivered a list of questions for Baradar to a
senior Taliban source. Within days, the Taliban's chief
spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, telephoned NEWSWEEK asking
for an e-mail copy of the questions. A few weeks later
Mujahid e-mailed to NEWSWEEK what he said were Baradar's
answers in Pashto. Excerpts:
How would you describe the
Taliban's current position on the ground in Afghanistan?
Our losses are very few. It has become
transparent to all Afghans that foreigners have come to
our country as invaders and not for the welfare of
Afghans. In every nook and corner of the country, a
spirit for jihad is raging.
What is your reaction to the
large increase in U.S. forces this year?
Statements about the increase in troops do not
affect the mujahedin at all. In fact, Americans are
demoralized in Afghanistan, and they don't know what to
do. [The Taliban] want to inflict maximum losses on the
Americans, which is possible only when the Americans are
present here in large numbers and come out of their
How long are you prepared to
The history of Afghanistan shows that Afghans
never get tired of struggling until they have freed their
country. We shall continue our jihad till the expulsion
of our enemy from our land.
Who is leading the Taliban
Respected Amir-ul-Momineen [leader of
the faithful] Mullah Mohammed Omar. We are acting on his
Are you in direct contact with
Continuous contacts are not risk-free because of
the situation. [But we] get his advice on important
What about his health?
He is hale and healthy and is not only taking
part in, but currently leading, the jihad.
The United States and Afghan
president Hamid Karzai say you and your commanders are
largely operating from Quetta in Pakistan. Is that true?
This is baseless propaganda. The Shura's area of
operations is inside Afghanistan.
Are some Taliban involved in
secret talks with the Karzai government?
Not a single member of the Taliban is involved
Would you support talks at some
What would be the topic of the talks and what
would be the result? Our basic problem with the Americans
is that they have attacked our country. They are offering
talks, hoping that the mujahedin surrender before them.
We see no benefit for the country and Islam in such kind
What would be your conditions
for talks if they were to take place?
The basic condition is the withdrawal of foreign
forces from Afghanistan.
If breaking ties with Al Qaeda
were a condition of a peace accord, would you do that?
Our decisions are made on the basis of our
Is Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence agency giving you support or advice?
This is venomous propaganda that has no facts
What about reports that
Pakistani intelligence is advising you not to enter into
peace talks at this time?
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is
independent and sovereign in its decisions and agreements.
It is not taking any dictation from any group or
Do you fear that Pakistan would
stop you from using its soil?
They have not given us permission to use their
land even now.
of the Afghan War? US-NATO Target Russia, China
by Rick Rozoff
September 10, 2009
The United States and the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization are expanding their nearly
eight-year war in Afghanistan both in scope, with
deadly drone missile attacks inside Pakistan, and
in intensity, with daily reports of more NATO
states troops slated for deployment and
calls for as many as 45,000 American troops in
addition to the 68,000 already in the nation and
scheduled to be there shortly.
The NATO bombing in Kunduz province on September
4 may well prove to be the worst atrocity yet
perpetrated by Western forces against Afghan
civilians and close to 20 U.S and NATO troops
have been killed so far this month, with over 300
dead this year compared to 294 for all of 2008.
The scale and gravity of the conflict can no
longer be denied even by Western media and
government officials and the war in South Asia
occupies the center stage of world attention for
the first time in almost eight years.
The various rationales used by Washington and
Brussels to launch, to continue and to escalate
the war short-lived and successive,
forgotten and reinvented, transparently insincere
and frequently mutually exclusive have
been exposed as fraudulent and none of the
identified objectives have been achieved or are
likely ever to be so. Osama bin Laden and Omar
Mullah have not been captured or killed. Taliban
is stronger than at any time since their
overthrow eight years ago last month, even
though the name Taliban seems to mean fairly much
whatever the West intends it to at any given
moment gaining hitherto unimagined control
over the countrys northern provinces.
Opium cultivation and exports, virtually non-existent
at the time of the 2001 invasion, are now at
record levels, with Afghanistan the worlds
largest narcotics producer and exporter.
The Afghan-Pakistani border has not been secured
and NATO supply convoys are regularly seized and
set on fire on the Pakistani side. Pakistani
military offensives have killed hundreds if not
thousands on the other side of the border and
have displaced over two million civilians in the
Swat District and adjoining areas of the North-West
Yet far from acknowledging that the war,
Americas longest since the debacle in
Vietnam and NATOs first ground war and
first conflict in Asia, has been a signal failure,
U.S. and NATO leaders are clamoring for more
troops in addition to the 100,000 already on the
ground in Afghanistan and are preparing the
public in the fifty nations contributing to that
number for a war that will last decades. And
still without the guarantee of a successful
But the Wests South Asian war is a fiasco
only if judged by what Washington and Brussels
have claimed their objectives were and are.
Viewed from a broader geopolitical and strategic
military perspective matters may be otherwise.
On September 7 a Russian analyst, Sergey Mikheev,
was quoted as saying that the major purpose of
the Pentagon moving into Afghanistan and of NATO
waging its first war outside of Europe was to
exert influence on and domination over a vast
region of South and Central Asia that has brought
Western military forces troops, warplanes,
surveillance capabilities to the borders
of China, Iran and Russia.
Mikheev claims that Afghanistan is a stage
in the division of the world after the bipolar
system failed and the U.S. and NATO
wanted to consolidate their grip on
and deployed a lot of troops there,
adding that as a pretext for doing so The
Taliban card was played, although nobody had been
interested in the Taliban before. 
A compatriot of the writer, Andrei Konurov,
earlier this month agreed with the contention
that Taliban was and remains more excuse for than
cause of the United States and its NATO allies
deploying troops and taking over air and other
bases in Afghanistan and the Central Asian
nations of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
In the case of Kyrgyzstan alone, there were
estimates at the beginning of this year that as
many as 200,000 U.S. and NATO troops have
transited through the Manas air base en route to
Konurov argued that With Washingtons
non-intervention if not downright encouragement,
the Talibs are destabilizing Central Asia and the
Uyghur regions of China as well as seeking
inroads into Iran. This is the explanation behind
the recent upheaval of Uyghur separatism and to
an extent behind the activity of the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan. 
It must be kept in mind, however, that for the
West the term of opprobrium Talib is elastic and
can at will be applied to any ethnic Pushtun
opponent of Western military occupation and, as
was demonstrated with the NATO air strike
massacre last Friday, after the fact to anyone
killed by Western forces as in multi-ethnic
The last-cited author also stated, again contrary
to received opinion in the West, that the
best option for the US is Afghanistan having no
serious central authority whatsoever and a
government in Kabul totally dependent on
Washington. The inability of such a government to
control most of Afghanistans territory
would not be regarded as a major problem by the
US as in fact Washington would in certain ways be
able to additionally take advantage of the
An Afghanistan that was at peace and stabilized
would then be a decided disadvantage for plans to
maintain and widen Western military positioning
at the crossroads where Russian, Chinese, Iranian,
Pakistani and Indian interests meet.
The Russian writer mentions that Washington and
its NATO allies have employed the putative
campaign against al-Qaeda and now Taliban
as well as the drug trade to secure, seize
and upgrade 19 military bases in Afghanistan and
Central Asia, including what can become strategic
air bases like former Soviet ones in Bagram,
Shindand, Herat, Farah, Kandahar and Jalalabad in
Afghanistan. The analyst pointed out that
The system of bases makes it possible for
the US to exert military pressure on Russia,
China, and Iran.
It suffices to recall that during the 1980s
current U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was
the CIA official in charge of the agencys
largest-ever covert campaign, Operation Cyclone,
to arm and train Afghan extremists in military
camps in Pakistan for attacks inside Afghanistan.
A porous border was not his concern
at the time.
Konurov ended his article with an admonition:
There is permanent consensus in the ranks
of the US establishment that the US presence in
Afghanistan must continue.
Russia should not and evidently will not
watch idly the developments at the southern
periphery of post-Soviet space. 
Irans top military commander, Yahya Rahim-Safavi,
was quoted in his nations media on
September 7 offering a comparable analysis and
issuing a similar warning. Saying that The
recent security pact between US and NATO and
Afghanistan showed the United States has no plan
to leave the region, he observed that
Russia worries about the US presence in
Central Asia and China has concerns about US
interference in its two main Muslim provinces
bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
To indicate that the range of the Western
military threat extended beyond Central Asia and
its borders with Russia and China, he also said
the presence of more than 200,000 foreign
forces in the region particularly in South-West
Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Middle East, the
expansion of their bases, the sale of billions of
dollars of military equipments to Iraq, the
United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and
looting their oil resources are the root cause of
insecurity in South-West Asia, the Persian Gulf
region and Iran, and noted that US
and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq,
the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf had been a
cause for concern for Russia, China and Iran.
The Iranian concern is hardly unwarranted. The
August 31 edition of the Jerusalem Post revealed
that NATOs interest in Iran has
dramatically increased in recent months and
In December 2006, Israeli Military
Intelligence hosted the first of its kind
international conference on global terrorism and
intelligence, after which Israel and NATO
established an intelligence-sharing mechanism.
The same article quoted an unnamed senior Israeli
official as adding, NATO talks about Iran
and the way it affects force structure and
Six days earlier an American news agency released
a report titled Middle East arms buys top $100
billion which said Middle Eastern
countries are expected to spend more than $100
billion over the next five years the result
of unprecedented packages
President George W. Bush in January 2008 to
The major recipients of American arms will be
three nations in the Persian Gulf Saudi
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq
as well as Israel.
Other Gulf states are among those to participate
in this unparalleled arms buildup in Irans
neighborhood. The core of this arms-buying
spree will undoubtedly be the $20 billion U.S.
package of weapons systems over 10 years for the
six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council
Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. [United Arab Emirates],
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. 
A week ago Nicola de Santis, NATOs head of
the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul
Cooperation Initiative Countries Section in the
NATO Public Diplomacy Division, visited the
United Arab Emirates and met with the
nations foreign minister, Anwar Mohammed
Prospects of UAE-NATO cooperation and
NATOs Istanbul Cooperation
Initiative were the main topics of
The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was formed at
the NATO summit in Turkey in 2004 to upgrade the
status of the Mediterranean Dialogue the
Alliances military partnerships with Egypt,
Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania and
Algeria to that of the Partnership for
Peace. The latter was used to prepare twelve
nations for full NATO accession over the last ten
The second component of the Istanbul Cooperation
Initiative concerns formal and ongoing NATO
military ties with the six members of the Gulf
Cooperation Council: The United Arab Emirates,
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain (where the U.S. Navys
5th Fleet is headquartered), Kuwait, Oman and
In May of this year France opened its first
foreign military base in half a century in the
United Arab Emirates.
In addition to U.S. and NATO military forces and
bases in nations bordering Iran Iraq,
Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan and increasingly
Azerbaijan the Persian Gulf is now
becoming a Pentagon and NATO lake.
China is also being encroached upon from several
After the visit of the Pentagons Central
Command chief General David Petraeus to the
region in late August, Kyrgyzstan, which borders
China, relented and agreed to the resumption of U.S.
military transit for the Afghan war.
Tajikistan, which also abuts China, hosts French
warplanes which are to be redeployed to
Afghanistan this month.
Mongolia, resting between China and Russia, hosts
regular Khaan Quest military exercises with the U.S.
and has now pledged troops for NATOs Afghan
Kazakhstan, with Russia to its north and China to
its southeast, has offered the U.S. and NATO
increased transit and other assistance for the
Afghan war, with rumors of troop commitments also
in the air, and is currently hosting NATOs
20-nation Zhetysu 2009 exercise.
Late last month China appealed to Washington to
halt military surveillance operations in its
coastal waters, with its Defense Ministry saying
The constant US air and sea surveillance
and survey operations in Chinas exclusive
economic zone is the root cause of problems
between the navies and air forces of China and
the US. 
A spokeswoman for the American embassy in Beijing
responded by saying, The United States
exercises its freedom of navigation of the seas
under international law
.This policy has not
The war in Afghanistan was launched four months
after Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan formed the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional
security and economic alliance with a military
component. Now the Pentagon and NATO have bases
in the last three nations and military
cooperation agreements with Kazakhstan.
In 2005 India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan joined
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as observer
states. Now all but Iran are being pulled into
the U.S.-NATO orbit. No small part of the
Wests plans in South and Central Asia is to
neutralize and destroy the SCO as well as the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),
founded in 2002 by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Armenia and Belarus.
Uzbekistan joined in 2006 but after General
Petraeuss visit to the country last month
it appears ready to leave the organization.
Belarus, Russias only buffer along its
entire Western border, may not be far behind.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991
the U.S. and NATO immediately moved on Central
Asia, and the war in Afghanistan has provided
them with the opportunity to gain domination over
all of South as well as Central Asia and to
undermine and threaten the existence of the only
regional security bodies the SCO and CSTO
which could counteract the Wests
drive for control of Eurasia.
1) Russia Today, September 7, 2009
2) Strategic Culture Foundation, September 3,
5) Press TV, September 7, 2009
7) Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2009
8) United Press International, August 25, 2009
10) Emirates News Agency, September 1, 2009
11) Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2009
Rick Rozoff is a frequent contributor
to Global Research. Global
Research Articles by Rick Rozoff
Tomgram: Ann Jones, Us or Them
In Washington, calls are
increasing, especially among anxious Democrats, for the president to commit to
training ever more Afghan troops and police
rather than sending in more American troops. Huge numbers for imagined future
Afghan army and police forces are now bandied
about in Congress and the media -- though no one
stops to wonder what Afghanistan, the fourth poorest
country on the planet, might actually be like
with a combined security force of 400,000. Not a
"democracy," you can put your top
dollar on that. And with a gross national product
of only $23 billion (a
striking percentage of which comes from the drug
trade) and an annual government budget of only
about $600 million,
it's not one that could faintly maintain such a
force either. Put bluntly, if U.S. officials were
capable of building such a force, a version of
Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule for Iraq would kick in and we,
the American taxpayers, would own it for all
On the other hand, not to worry.
As Ann Jones makes clear in her revelatory piece
below, the odds on such an Afghan force ever
being built must be passingly close to nil. Such
a program is no more likely
to be successful than the massively expensive
Afghan aid and reconstruction program has been.
In fact, for all the talk about the subject here,
it's remarkable how little we actually know about
the staggering expensive American and NATO effort
to train the Afghan army and police. Stop and
think for a moment. When was the last time you
read in any U.S. paper a striking account, or any
account for that matter, in which a reporter
actually bothered to observe the training process
in action? Think how useful that might have been
for the present debate in Washington.
Fortunately, TomDispatch is
ready to remedy this. Site regular Jones, who
first went to Afghanistan in 2002 and, in an
elegant memoir, Kabul in Winter,
has vividly described her years working with
Afghan women, spent time this July visiting U.S.
training programs for both the Afghan army and
police. She offers an eye-opening, on-the-spot
look at certain realities which turn the "debate"
in Washington inside out and upside down. Tom
Meet the Afghan Army
Is It a Figment of
By Ann Jones
The big Afghanistan debate
in Washington is not over whether more troops
are needed, but just who they should be:
Americans or Afghans -- Us or Them. Having
just spent time in Afghanistan seeing how
things stand, I wouldn't bet on Them.
Frankly, I wouldn't bet on
Us either. In eight years, American troops
have worn out their welcome. Their very
presence now incites opposition, but that's
another story. It's Them -- the Afghans -- I
want to talk about.
Afghans are Afghans. They
have their own history, their own culture,
their own habitual ways of thinking and
behaving, all complicated by a modern
experience of decades of war, displacement,
abject poverty, and incessant meddling by
foreign governments near and far -- of which
the United States has been the most powerful
and persistent. Afghans do not think or act
like Americans. Yet Americans in power refuse
to grasp that inconvenient point.
In the heat of this summer,
I went out to the training fields near Kabul
where Afghan army recruits are put through
their paces, and it was quickly evident just
what's getting lost in translation. Our
trainers, soldiers from the Illinois National
Guard, were masterful. Professional and
highly skilled, they were dedicated to
carrying out their mission -- and doing the
job well. They were also big, strong,
camouflaged, combat-booted, supersized
American men, their bodies swollen by flak
jackets and lashed with knives, handguns, and
god only knows what else. Any American could
be proud of their commitment to tough duty.
The Afghans were puny by
comparison: Hundreds of little Davids to the
overstuffed American Goliaths training them.
Keep in mind: Afghan recruits come from a
world of desperate poverty. They are almost
uniformly malnourished and underweight. Many
are no bigger than I am (5'4" and thin)
-- and some probably not much stronger. Like
me, many sag under the weight of a standard-issue
Their American trainers
spoke of "upper body strength deficiency"
and prescribed pushups because their trainees
buckle under the backpacks filled with 50
pounds of equipment and ammo they are
expected to carry. All this material must
seem absurd to men whose fathers and brothers,
wearing only the old cotton shirts and baggy
pants of everyday life and carrying battered
Russian Kalashnikov rifles, defeated the Red
Army two decades ago. American trainers
marvel that, freed from heavy equipment and
uniforms, Afghan soldiers can run through the
mountains all day -- as the Taliban
guerrillas in fact do with great effect --
but the U.S. military is determined to train
them for another style of war.
Still, the new recruits
turn out for training in the blistering heat
in this stony desert landscape wearing,
beneath their heavy uniforms, the smart red,
green, and black warm-up outfits intended to
encourage them to engage in off-duty exercise.
American trainers recognize that recruits
regularly wear all their gear at once
for fear somebody will steal anything left
behind in the barracks, but they take this
overdressing as a sign of how much Afghans
love the military. My own reading, based on
my observations of Afghan life during the
years I've spent in that country, is this: It's
a sign of how little they trust one another,
or the Americans who gave them the snazzy
suits. I think it also indicates the obvious:
that these impoverished men in a country
without work have joined the Afghan National
Army for what they can get out of it (and
keep or sell) -- and that doesn't include
democracy or glory.
In the current policy
debate about the Afghan War in Washington,
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl
Levin wants the Afghans to defend their
country. Senator John McCain, the top
Republican on the committee, agrees but says
they need even more help from even more
Americans. The common ground -- the sacred
territory President Obama gropes for -- is
that, whatever else happens, the U.S. must
speed up the training of "the Afghan
American military planners
and policymakers already proceed as if, with
sufficient training, Afghans can be
transformed into scale-model, wind-up
American Marines. That is not going to happen.
Not now. Not ever. No matter how many of our
leaders concur that it must happen --
and ever faster.
So who are these security
forces? They include the Afghan National Army
(ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP).
International forces and private contractors
have been training Afghan recruits for both
of them since 2001. In fact, the
determination of Western military planners to
create a national army and police force has
been so great that some seem to have
suppressed for years the reports of Canadian
soldiers who witnessed
members of the Afghan security forces
engaging in a fairly common pastime,
sodomizing young boys.
Current training and
mentoring is provided by the U.S., Great
Britain, France, Canada, Romania, Poland,
Mongolia, New Zealand, and Australia, as well
as by the private for-profit contractors MPRI, KBR (formerly
a division of Halliburton), Pulau, Paravant, and RONCO.
Almost eight years and
counting since the "mentoring"
process began, officers at the Kabul Military Training Center
report that the
army now numbers between 88,000 and 92,000
soldiers, depending on who you talk to; and
the basic training course financed and led by
Americans, called "Basic Warrior
Training," is turning out 28,800 new
soldiers every year, according to a Kabul
Military Training Center "fact sheet."
The current projected "end strength"
for the ANA, to be reached in December 2011,
is 134,000 men; but Afghan officers told me
they're planning for a force of 200,000,
while the Western press often cites 240,000 as the final
The number 400,000 is
often mentioned as the supposed end-strength
quota for the combined security forces -- an army of 240,000 soldiers and a police force with 160,000 men.
Yet Afghan National Police officials also
speak of a far more inflated figure, 250,000,
and they claim that 149,000 men
have already been trained. Police training
has always proven problematic, however, in
part because, from the start, the European
allies fundamentally disagreed with the Bush
administration about what the role of the
Afghan police should be. Germany initiated
the training of what it saw as an unarmed
force that would direct traffic, deter crime,
and keep civic order for the benefit of the
civilian population. The U.S. took over in
2003, handed the task off to a private for-profit
military contractor, DynCorp,
and proceeded to produce a heavily armed,
undisciplined, and thoroughly venal
paramilitary force despised by Kabulis and
feared by Afghan civilians in the countryside.
widespread public view, an Afghan commanding
officer of the ANP assured me that today the
police are trained as police, not as a
paramilitary auxiliary of the ANA. "But
policing is different in Afghanistan,"
he said, because the police operate in active
sends mixed messages on this subject. It
farms out responsibility for the ANP to a
private contractor that hires as mentors
retired American law enforcement officers --
a Kentucky state trooper, a Texas county
lawman, a North Carolina cop, and so on. Yet
Washington policymakers continue to couple
the police with the army as "the Afghan
security forces" -- the most basic
police rank is "soldier" -- in a
merger that must influence what DynCorp puts
in its training syllabus. At the Afghan
National Police training camp outside Kabul,
I watched a squad of trainees learn (reluctantly)
how to respond to a full-scale ambush. Though
they were armed only with red rubber
Kalashnikovs, the exercise looked to me much
like the military maneuvers I'd witnessed at
the army training camp.
Like army training, police
training, too, was accelerated months ago to
insure "security" during the run-up
to the presidential election. With that goal
in mind, DynCorp mentors shrunk the basic
police training course from eight weeks to
three, after which the police were dispatched
to villages all across the country, including
areas controlled by the Taliban. After the
election, the surviving short-course police
"soldiers" were to be brought back
to Kabul for the rest of the basic training
program. There's no word yet on how many
You have to wonder about
the wisdom of rushing out this half-baked
product. How would you feel if the police in
your community were turned loose, heavily
armed, after three weeks of training? And how
would you feel if you were given a three-week
training course with a rubber gun and then
dispatched, with a real one, to defend your
Training security forces is
not cheap. So far, the estimated cost of
training and mentoring the police since 2001
is at least $10 billion. Any reliable figure on the cost of
training and mentoring the Afghan army since
2001 is as invisible as the army itself. But
the U.S. currently spends
some $4 billion a month on military
operations in Afghanistan.
The Invisible Men
What is there to show for
all this remarkably expensive training?
Although in Washington they may talk about the 90,000 soldiers in the Afghan National Army, no one
has reported actually seeing such an army
anywhere in Afghanistan. When 4,000 U.S.
Marines were sent into Helmand Province in
July to take on the Taliban in what is
considered one of its strongholds,
accompanying them were only about 600 Afghan
security forces, some of whom were police.
Why, you might ask, didn't the ANA, 90,000
strong after eight years of training and
mentoring, handle Helmand on its own? No
explanation has been offered. American and
NATO officers often complain that Afghan army
units are simply not ready to "operate
independently," but no one ever speaks
to the simple question: Where are they?
My educated guess is that
such an army simply does not exist. It may
well be true that Afghan men have gone
through some version of "Basic Warrior
Training" 90,000 times or more. When I
was teaching in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006,
I knew men who repeatedly went through ANA
training to get the promised Kalashnikov and
the pay. Then they went home for a while and
often returned some weeks later to enlist
again under a different name.
In a country where 40% of
men are unemployed, joining the ANA for 10
weeks is the best game in town. It relieves
the poverty of many families every time the
man of the family goes back to basic training,
but it's a needlessly complicated way to
unintentionally deliver such minimal
humanitarian aid. Some of these circulating
soldiers are aging former mujahidin --
the Islamist fundamentalists the U.S. once
paid to fight the Soviets -- and many are
American trainers have
taken careful note of the fact that, when ANA
soldiers were given leave after basic
training to return home with their pay, they
generally didn't come back. To foil paycheck
scams and decrease soaring rates of desertion,
they recently devised a money-transfer system
that allows the soldiers to send pay home
without ever leaving their base. That sounds
like a good idea, but like many expensive
American solutions to Afghan problems, it
misses the point. It's not just the money the
soldier wants to transfer home, it's himself
Earlier this year, the U.S.
training program became slightly more
compelling with the introduction of a U.S.-made
weapon, the M-16 rifle, which was phased in
over four months as a replacement for the
venerable Kalashnikov. Even U.S. trainers
admit that, in Afghanistan, the Kalashnikov
is actually the superior weapon. Light and
accurate, it requires no cleaning even in the
dust of the high desert, and every man and
boy already knows it well. The strange and
sensitive M-16, on the other hand, may be
more accurate at slightly greater distances,
but only if a soldier can keep it clean,
while managing to adjust and readjust its
notoriously sensitive sights. The struggling
soldiers of the ANA may not ace that test,
but now that the U.S. military has generously
passed on its old M-16s to Afghans, it can
buy new ones at taxpayer expense, a prospect
certain to gladden the heart of any arms
manufacturer. (Incidentally, thanks must go
to the Illinois National Guard for risking
their lives to make possible such handsome
As for the police, U.S.-funded
training offers a similar revolving door. In
Afghanistan, however, it is far more
dangerous to be a policeman than a soldier.
While soldiers on patrol can slip away,
policemen stuck at their posts are killed
almost every day. Assigned in small numbers
to staff small-town police stations or
highway checkpoints, they are sitting ducks
for Taliban fighters. As representatives of
the now thoroughly discredited government of
President Hamid Karzai, the hapless police
make handy symbolic targets. British
commanders in Helmand province estimated
that 60% of Afghan police are on drugs -- and
little wonder why.
In the Pashtun provinces of
southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban is
strong, recruiting men for the Afghan
National Police is a "problem," as
an ANP commander told me. Consequently, non-Pashtun
police trainees of Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, or
other ethnic backgrounds are dispatched to
maintain order in Pashtun territory. They
might as well paint targets on their
foreheads. The police who accompanied the U.S.
Marines into Helmand Province reportedly
refused to leave their heavily armed mentors
to take up suicidal posts in provincial
villages. Some police and army soldiers, when
asked by reporters, claimed to be "visiting"
Helmand province only for "vacation."
In many districts, the
police recently supplemented their low pay
and demonstrated allegiance to local warlords
by stuffing ballot boxes for President Karzai
in the presidential election. Consider that
but one more indication -- like the defection
of those great Islamist fundamentalist mujahidin
allies the U.S. sponsored in the anti-Soviet jihad
of the 1980s who are now fighting with the
Taliban -- that no amount of American
training, mentoring, or cash will determine
who or what Afghans will fight for, if indeed
they fight at all.
Afghans are world famous
fighters, in part because they have a knack
for gravitating to the winning side, and they're
ready to change sides with alacrity until
they get it right. Recognizing that Afghans
back a winner, U.S. military strategists are
now banking on a counterinsurgency strategy
that seeks to "clear, hold, and build"
-- that is, to stick around long enough to
win the Afghans over. But it's way too late
for that to work. These days, U.S. troops
sticking around look ever more like a foreign
occupying army and, to the Taliban, like
Recently Karen DeYoung noted in
the Washington Post that the Taliban
now regularly use very sophisticated military
techniques -- "as if the insurgents had
attended something akin to the U.S. Army's
Ranger school, which teaches soldiers how to
fight in small groups in austere environments."
Of course, some of them have attended
training sessions which teach them to fight
in "austere environments," probably
time and time again. If you were a Talib,
wouldn't you scout the training being offered
to Afghans on the other side? And wouldn't
you do it more than once if you could get
well paid every time?
Such training is bound to
come in handy -- as it may have for the Talib
policeman who, just last week, bumped off
eight other comrades at his police post in
Kunduz Province in northern Afghanistan and
turned it over to the Taliban. On the other
hand, such training can be deadly to American
trainers. Take the case of the American
trainer who was shot and wounded that same week by one of his
trainees. Reportedly, a dispute arose because
the trainer was drinking water "in front
of locals," while the trainees were
fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.
There is, by the way,
plenty of evidence that Taliban fighters get
along just fine, fighting fiercely and well
without the training lavished on the ANA and
the ANP. Why is it that Afghan Taliban
fighters seem so bold and effective, while
the Afghan National Police are so dismally
corrupt and the Afghan National Army a
When I visited bases and
training grounds in July, I heard some
American trainers describe their Afghan
trainees in the same racist terms once
applied to African slaves in the U.S.: lazy,
irresponsible, stupid, childish, and so on.
That's how Afghan resistance, avoidance, and
sabotage look to American eyes. The Taliban
fight for something they believe -- that
their country should be freed from foreign
occupation. "Our" Afghans try to
Yet one amazing thing
happens to ANA trainees who stick it out for
the whole 10 weeks of basic training. Their
slight bodies begin to fill out a little.
They gain more energy and better spirits --
all because for the first time in their lives
they have enough nutritious food to eat.
notwithstanding -- Senator Levin, Senator
McCain -- "our" Afghans are never
going to fight for an American cause, with or
without American troops, the way we imagine
they should. They're never going to fight
with the energy of the Taliban for a national
government that we installed against Afghan
wishes, then more recently set up to steal
another election, and now seem about to
ratify in office, despite incontrovertible evidence of flagrant fraud. Why should they?
Even if the U.S. could win their minds, their
hearts are not in it.
One small warning: Don't
take the insecurity of the Afghan security
forces as an argument for sending yet more
American troops to Afghanistan. Aggressive
Americans (now numbering 68,000) are likely
to be even less successful than reluctant
Afghan forces. Afghans want peace, but the kharaji
(foreign) troops (100,000, if you include U.S.
allies in NATO) bring death and destruction
wherever they go. Think instead about what
you might have won -- and could still win --
had you spent all those military billions on
food. Or maybe agriculture. Or health care.
Or a civilian job corps. Is it too late for
Ann Jones is the author
of Kabul in Winter (Metropolitan, 2006) and writes
often about Afghanistan for TomDispatch and
the Nation. War Is Not Over When It's
Over, her new book about the impact of war
on women, will be published next year.
Copyright 2009 Ann Jones v