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Cost of war in Afghanistan will be major factor in troop-reduction talks

The Washington Post via: Huff Post

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Published: May 30

Of all the statistics that President Obama’s national security team will consider when it debates the size of forthcoming troop reductions in Afghanistan, the most influential number probably will not be how many insurgents have been killed or the amount of territory wrested from the Taliban, according to aides to those who will participate.

It will be the cost of the war.

The U.S. military is on track to spend $113 billion on its operations in Afghanistan this fiscal year, and it is seeking $107 billion for the next. To many of the president’s civilian advisers, that price is too high, given a wide federal budget gap that will require further cuts to domestic programs and increased deficit spending. Growing doubts about the need for such a broad nation-building mission there in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death have only sharpened that view.

“Where we’re at right now is simply not sustainable,” said one senior administration official, who, like several others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations.

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By Barry Grey, wsws.org, June 14, 2010

In the midst of one of the bloodiest weeks for US and NATO forces in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the overall commander, announced Thursday that major military operations around Kandahar would be delayed until September.

The offensive had been slated to begin this month, but, as McChrystal admitted, the US has been unable to win the support either of tribal leaders and power brokers or of the populace in and around Afghanistan’s second largest city. The town of 450,000 in the heart of the Pashtun-dominated south is the birthplace of the Taliban and remains a key stronghold of the anti-occupation insurgency.

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By Malalai Joya, CommonDreams.org, Nov 12, 2009

As an Afghan woman who was elected to Parliament, I am in the United States to ask President Barack Obama to immediately end the occupation of my country.

Eight years ago, women’s rights were used as one of the excuses to start this war. But today, Afghanistan is still facing a women’s rights catastrophe. Life for most Afghan women resembles a type of hell that is never reflected in the Western mainstream media.

In 2001, the U.S. helped return to power the worst misogynist criminals, such as the Northern Alliance warlords and druglords. These men ought to be considered a photocopy of the Taliban. The only difference is that the Northern Alliance warlords wear suits and ties and cover their faces with the mask of democracy while they occupy government positions. But they are responsible for much of the disaster today in Afghanistan, thanks to the U.S. support they enjoy.

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Afghanistan: Heads You Lose, Tails You Lose

Immanuel Wallerstein, Agence Global, November 1, 2009

The war in Afghanistan is a war in which whatever the United States does now, or that President Obama does now, both the United States and Obama will lose. The country and its president are in a situation of perfect lockjaw.

Consider the basic situation. The Afghan government in Kabul has no legitimacy with the majority of the Afghan people. It also has no army worthy of the name. It also has no financial base. There is almost no military or personal security anywhere. It is faced with a guerilla opposition, the Taliban, who control half the country and who have grown steadily stronger since the Taliban government was overthrown by a foreign (largely United States) invasion in 2002. The New York Times reports that the Taliban “are running a sophisticated financial network to pay for their insurgent operations,” which American officials are struggling, unsuccessfully, to cut off.

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by Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, Oct 11, 2009

Truth is war’s first casualty. The Afghan war’s biggest untruth is, “we’ve got to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them at home.”Many North Americans still buy this lie because they believe the 9/11 attacks came directly from the Afghanistan-based al-Qaida and Taliban movements.False. The 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany and Spain, and conducted mainly by U.S.-based Saudis to punish America for supporting Israel.

Taliban, a militant religious, anti-Communist movement of Pashtun tribesmen, was totally surprised by 9/11. Taliban received U.S. aid until May, 2001. The CIA was planning to use Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida to stir up Muslim Uighurs against Chinese rule, and Taliban against Russia’s Central Asian allies.

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By Eric Margolis, The Toronto Sun, Sep 20, 2009

“We should hang a huge neon sign over Afghanistan: “CAUTION: DEJA VU.”

Afghanistan’s much ballyhooed recent election staged by its foreign occupiers turned out to be a fraud wrapped up in a farce — as this column predicted a month ago. It was as phony and meaningless as U.S.-run elections in Vietnam in the 1970s.

Canada played a shameful role in facilitating this obviously rigged vote.

Meanwhile, American and NATO generals running the Afghan war amazingly warn they risk being beaten by Taliban tribesmen in spite of their 107,000 soldiers, B-1 heavy bombers, F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, Apache and AC-130 gunships, heavy artillery, tanks, radars, killer drones, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, rockets, and space surveillance.

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by Eric Margolis | The Toronto Sun, Aug 23, 2009

An election held under the guns of a foreign occupation army cannot be called legitimate or democratic.This week’s stage-managed vote in Afghanistan for candidates chosen by western powers is unlikely to bring either peace or tranquility to this wretched nation that has suffered 30 years of war.The Taliban and its nationalist allies rejected the vote as a fraud designed to validate continued foreign occupation and open the way for western oil and gas pipelines.

The Taliban, which speaks for many of Afghanistan’s majority Pashtun, said it would only join a national election when U.S. and NATO troops withdraw.

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Ian Sinclair | Morning Star Online/UK, Aug 18, 2009

On May 4 the US bombed the village of Granai in Farah province, Afghanistan, killing 140 civilians according to the Afghanistan government, including approximately 90 children.

It was the single largest loss of life caused by US/NATO forces since the 2001 invasion.

President Hamid Karzai denounced the air strikes as “unjustifiable and unacceptable,” hundreds of people demonstrated in Kabul and in Farah city there was a riot outside the governor’s office and traders closed their shops in protest.

The US military initially claimed the civilians had been killed by grenades hurled by Taliban fighters. These assertions were shown to be false by eyewitness accounts and were quickly withdrawn.

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By Eric Margolis | Information Clearing House, Aug 18, 2009

This week’s presidential election in Afghanistan will be an elaborate piece of political theater designed to show increasingly uneasy Western voters that progress is being made in the war-torn nation after seven years of US-led occupation.

Most Afghans already believe they know who will win the vote: the candidate chosen by the United States and its NATO allies.

Voting will mostly be held in urban areas, under the guns of US and NATO troops. The countryside, ruled by Taliban, who are often local farmers moonlighting as fighters, is too dangerous for this electoral charade. Over half of Afghanistan is under Taliban influence by day, 75% at night.

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By William Pfaff | william.pfaff.com, Aug 18, 2009

It would be a great service to the American nation if Barack Obama would tell us what he himself thinks the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are about. To capture Osama bin Laden? There have been eight years in which to capture bin Laden and it’s not been done yet, and there seems no reason to think that anything important would change if the thousands of Marines now scheduled for Afghanistan did capture him. What did it change to capture and execute Saddam Hussein in Iraq?

General Stanley McChyrstal says the Taliban are winning (he subsequently denied this). Does the president think he can have a military solution — or a political solution? The latter is not impossible.

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