Wednesday, March 25, 2009
* Image Source/ caption*
1. Nato to attack Afghan opium labs
10 October 2008 17:04 UK
2. Afghanistan, March 2002 - Afghan girls sing at a celebration of International Women's Day, March 8. The ceremony took place at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, which USAID helped rehabilitate.
3.The historic blue mosque in Mazar-e Sharif Afghanistan(photo by Steve Evans)
March 24, 2009
Afghanistan: US, NATO Wage World's Largest, Longest War
The US-NATO war in Afghanistan is the largest and longest war in the world.
On October 7 it will enter its ninth calendar year and with the projected
deployment of at least 30,000 more American and thousands of more fellow NATO
nations' troops this year it promises to go on indefinitely.
It is the second longest war, both on the air and ground fronts, in the United States' history, with only its protracted involvement in Indochina so far exceeding it in length.
The Afghan war is also the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's first armed
conflict outside of Europe and its first ground war in the sixty years of its
existence. It has been waged with the participation of armed units from all 26
NATO member states and twelve other European and Caucasus nations linked to NATO
through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Partnership for Peace and the
Adriatic Charter with the first-ever invocation of the Alliance's Article 5
mutual military assistance provision.
The twelve European NATO partners who have sent troops in varying numbers to
assist Washington and the Alliance include the continent's five former neutral
nations: Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The European NATO and partnership deployments count among their number troops
from six former Soviet Republics - with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine tapped
for recent reinforcements and the three Baltic states represented
disproportionately to their populations - although Western officials and media
refrain from using words like invasion, empire and occupation that were tossed
around so profligately in the 1980s.
The conflict marks the first time since the Vietnam War that US, Australian, New
Zealand and South Korean troops have fought in the same campaign in the same
theater. (Although all four also had troops in Iraq after March of 2003, only
American forces were engaged in combat. In Afghanistan, however, over 1,000
Australian troops, including special forces, participate in counterinsurgency
operations and ten of their soldiers have been killed.)
In all, 42 nations have military contingents ranging from a handful to thousands
of troops serving under NATO in a war nearly as far removed from the North
Atlantic as could have been imagined and embroiled in an endless engagement
because of a 1949 commitment by the major Western powers to render each other
military aid in the event of a conflict in Western Europe or North America.
Over a thousand US, NATO and NATO partner nations' soldiers have been killed in
the war, including servicemen from all three Baltic States, Australia and South
From the beginning of the invasion of and war in Afghanistan in early October of
2001 under the aegis of so-called Operation Enduring Freedom, which commenced
with US and British air and missile attacks, the model used seventeen months
later in Iraq, the conflict has not been limited to Afghanistan itself but
rather has exploited the nation's alleged and highly tenuous connections to the
September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New
York City and the Pentagon in Washington to situate US and other NATO military
forces in several neighboring and nearby nations, including airbases and troop
and naval deployments in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and the
Indian Ocean (where the Japanese navy has been assisting Operation Enduring
The Russian press wire agency Itar-Tass reported last December that 120,000 US
and NATO soldiers passed through the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan in 2008.
2009 has brought the Pentagon and NATO the bad news that the government of
Kyrgyzstan may close the base to warplanes used for the war in Afghanistan, a
base that since 2001 has hosted military personnel from the United States,
Australia, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy,
Spain, France and South Korea.
The Pentagon officially defines Operation Enduring Freedom's area of
responsibility as encompassing fifteen nations: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cuba
(Guantanamo Bay Naval Base), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya,
Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, the Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey,
Uzbekistan and Yemen.
After the invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001, the US and its NATO allies
obtained from the United Nations of ever-obliging Secretary-General Kofi Annan
(who in 1995 held the posts of Special Representative of the Secretary General
of the United Nations to the former Yugoslavia and special envoy to NATO and was
installed as Secretary-General after the US deposed his predecessor Boutros
Boutros-Ghali and browbeat the other 14 Security Council members in 1997 to
accept him) a resolution authorizing the establishment of an International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF), initially to oversee Afghanistan's occupation,
but later to wage a full-blown counterinsurgency campaign inside the country and
across the border into Pakistan.
There was and is nothing international about ISAF. It is a NATO operation
From December of 2001 until August of 2003 command of ISAF was held in six month
rotations by major NATO nations. At the end of that period it passed to NATO
collectively. Initially its mission was limited to the capital of Kabul, but by
2003 its mandate was extended beyond the capital and by 2006 to all of
To deploy combat forces to a nation that was bombed and invaded and to conduct
aerial and ground assaults throughout its territory is as good a working
definition of the words war and occupation as could be devised.
Afghanistan has become a permanent training ground and firing range for
providing the US and its NATO allies and candidate members opportunities to test out new weapons systems, wage 21st Century counterinsurgency operations and integrate so-called niche deployment military units from over 42 nations to
achieve weapons and warfighting interoperability.
Polish military officials among others have openly stated that in Afghanistan
NATO has provided them with the conditions to modernize their armed forces,
which had not been employed in war zone and combat operations since the
beginning of World War II. Coupled with recent statements by Polish and Baltic
officials that NATO should renew its focus on "defending" Europe, the Greater
Afghan war theater is a laboratory for preparing Eastern European and South
Caucasus nations for actions on Russia's eastern and southern borders.
Last month the US signed an agreement with Poland to train their special forces
(comparable to what the Pentagon has already done with Georgia), citing
Afghanistan as the immediate locale for its joint implementation.
The comparative size of each NATO nation's contribution is less important than
the fact that several tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of NATO troops have
been rotated through Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan over the
past seven and a half years and in the process gained experience in serving
under the command of major NATO powers.
Earlier this year the US's Central Command chief David Petraeus began focusing
on the Caucasus nations of Georgia and Azerbaijan as military transit routes for
the expanding war in Afghanistan and visited the former Soviet Central Asian
republics of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to also incorporate them into the
ever-widening South Asian war vortex.
Late last year General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of Russia's
Armed Forces, warned that "American military bases are dotted throughout the
world. The U.S. has opened bases in Romania and Bulgaria, and according to our
information plans to establish them in Kazakhstan
Much is made in Western official circles and in the obedient media about the
pretexts under which the US and NATO attacked and invaded Afghanistan, took over
all its strategic Soviet era airbases (as was done most recently with the
Shindand airbase in 2005 in Herat Province, near the Iranian border) and
installed a compliant puppet government to rule over the nation and its people.
At first as the memory of the attacks of September 11, 2001 were still freshly
burned into America's and the world's imaginations, the rationale for Operation
Enduring Freedom was to hunt down and "bring to justice" - or kill - Osama bin
Laden, Mullah Omar and several of their top associates in a lex talionis
punishment for the deadly attacks on New York's financial center and the
headquarters of the US Defense Department.
As the years proceeded and not only weren't bin Laden and Mullah Omar
apprehended but their whereabouts couldn't even be determined, emphasis was
shifted to the fight against Taliban for having hosted the above two.
That fallback position was belied by the fact that Washington in the person of
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld right after 9/11 asserted that as many as
sixty nations, almost a third of the world's, were harboring terrorists and as
such were fair game for missile and other attacks, but conspicuously left off
the hit list the only three nations that had recognized, funded and no doubt
armed the Taliban: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Nor was the Taliban argument helped by US-installed President Hamid Karzai being
quoted regularly on the US's Voice of Afghanistan (an offshoot of Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty) applauding "our Taliban" who "fought shoulder-to-shoulder
with us in the jihad against the Soviets."
The US and NATO tact was then to adopt an ex post facto humanitarian guise to
justify their fanning out into Afghanistan's provinces in 2003 (in addition to
the original in Kabul, NATO launched North, South, East and West commands):
Establishing so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Invading armies with their bombers, cruise missiles, 15,000 pound Daisy Cutter
bombs and long-range artillery are designed to destroy and not construct
buildings and the PRTs would be better termed provincial pacification teams,
with the model being the Strategic Hamlet Program in South Vietnam in the early
More reasons would be devised to explain the West's continuing and growing
presence and intensifying military operations in Afghanistan and its environs.
Four years of Taliban power had at least accomplished one objective; it had
curbed opium cultivation.
However, after a few years of NATO occupation Afghanistan became the world's
largest producer and exporter of opium and so last autumn the Alliance announced
that it was planning to conduct armed raids against opium and "drug
traffickers," however the West decided to define the second.
The ongoing and endless war in Afghanistan - and now Pakistan - has
metamorphosed from a hunt for bin Laden, to a fight against Taliban to a drug
war modeled after the US's murderous Plan Colombia initiated in 1999. There are
reports that 300 Colombian troops are slated for deployment to Afghanistan to
replicate that model.
Notwithstanding recent talk by US President Barrack Obama about an Afghan exit
strategy, it's not apparent that Washington and its allies ever intend to leave
the country and the broader South-Asia/Central Asia/Caspian Sea Basin/South
Caucasus circumference whose center Afghanistan is.
Two weeks ago the Russia Novosti website featured this observation: "Central
Asian states think the U.S. started the Afghan war to change the regional
regimes into local analogues of Georgia's Saakashvili and Ukraine's Yushchenko,
and that it began with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Iran, China and Russia
think the war could be Washington's attempt to reduce their influence in Central
Asia to zero."
Less than four months before the invasion of Afghanistan China, Russia and four
of the five former Soviet Central Asia republics - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a mutual security grouping that would later include India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers.
It's purpose is to provide regional security and to address the issues of
trans-border crime, including narcotics smuggling, armed extremism and
Since its inception it has also increasingly focused on joint development
projects in the spheres of energy, transportation, trade and infrastructure.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, Central Asia was seen by the SCO's
founding members and since by its observers as a mechanism for fostering
mutually beneficial relations among the nations of Central Asia and Russia,
China, Iran, India and even Turkey eventually.
Afghanistan has been hurled into interminable turmoil, with hundreds of
thousands of its citizens displaced; almost daily bombing runs, drone missile
attacks, middle-of-the-night commando raids, indiscriminate shooting of
civilians at checkpoints; mass-scale drought and famine; an explosion of opium
cultivation and trafficking; expansion of that destabilization by setting
Pakistan aflame with the potential for its fragmentation and dismemberment and
heightened tensions with its - fellow nuclear - neighbor India.
This is the current, grave situation seven and a half years after the invasion
With the deployment of another 30,000 US troops and thousands more from NATO's
ranks (recently Italy, Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other nations have
announced increases) Western troop strength will soon approach 100,000.
This is pouring fuel on fire. Taliban has become as amorphous a term as al-Qaeda
has been; anyone in Afghanistan, even in the non-Pushtun North and West of the
nation, who takes issue with Western warplanes and combat troops dealing out
death and destruction in their nation and their villages is now a Talib. An
The more US and NATO troops that arrive in Afghanistan, the more resentment,
resistance and violence will ensue. Inevitably.
The US and NATO have arrogantly spurned offers by the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization and the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization to
assist in bringing a regional - and non-military - resolution of the myriad
crises afflicting Afghanistan, its long-suffering people and the region.
NATO is not a nation-building, peacekeeping or humanitarian outfit - it is an
aggressive military bloc. When it and its individual member states' military
forces leave South and Central Asia then healing, reconstruction and lasting
peace can begin.