Feeding the Enemy

Jeremy Scahill of The Nation just returned from an unembedded trip to Afghanistan and here was part of his prepared testimony before Congress:

Despite the perception that we know what is happening in Afghanistan, what is rarely discussed in any depth in Congress or the media is the vast number of innocent Afghan civilians that are being killed on a regular basis in US night raids and the heavy bombing that has been reinstated by General David Petraeus. I saw the impact of these civilian deaths first-hand and I can say that in some cases our own actions are helping to increase the strength and expand the size of the Taliban and the broader insurgency in Afghanistan.

There’s no question that our overall military strategy (along with our counter-narcotics strategy) is leading to a larger and stronger Taliban. One can simply look at the trend of coalition military casualties in the graph below:

Scahill also goes on to point out that despite what many expected of Obama, his Administration hasn’t just expanded the war in Afghanistan, but has also overseen an increase in the number of countries where American military assets operate – often secretly.

This trend towards American imperialism, militarism, and secrecy was what initially inspired me to begin blogging way back in 2004. The parallels between the war on drugs and the war on terror have long been obvious to anyone who could approach the subject with a willingness to look past longstanding taboos. And the current war on Wikileaks demonstrates the same dynamic. As Scahill implores Congress to provide oversight over a military-industrial complex run amok, Congress remains far more concerned with those who aim to reveal the truth about what that apparatus is doing.

UPDATE: For some great commentary on this subject, listen to Glenn Greenwald’s interview with Nir Rosen, whose new book covers this topic to much acclaim.

UPDATE 2: Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, passed away today. Holbrooke was someone who seemed to understand the situation in Afghanistan at a level that others within our government could not. His final words were “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

Comments

  1. 1

    rhp6033 spews:

    I doubt that few people will recall this, but a few months before 9/11 the Taliban decided that it violated Islamic law to cultivate the poppy for heroin use, even if most of the users were non-Islamic. So they vowed to free Afganistan of opium poppies, and started their own jihad against those that grew it. Soon even the rural, non-westernized Afgans became agitated against the Talibans, as it deprived them of what was virtually their only cash crop.

    So when U.S. special forces arrived in October 2001, the Northern Alliance found that beating the Taliban was much easier than ever before. Sure, they had U.S. air strikes which took out Taliban tanks and artillary. But more importantly, the tribal leaders throughout Afganistan were willing to switch allegiences to the Northern Alliance, once it was demonstrated that they actually had a chance of defeating the Taliban. Those in westernized cities hoped for a return of some freedoms to which they were accostomed, but those in rural areas hoped that they could resume the cultivation of opium poppies, and earn a decent living.

    Of course, the official U.S. policy is to finance the elimination of opium poppy cultivation in Afganistan. Now the Taliban tolerates Opium and protects it’s farmers against enforcement, for a price.

    Which leads us to the ironic nature of U.S. policy in Afganistan. We tolerate opium harvests in Taliban-controlled areas, because we don’t have the ability to enforce our anti-opium policies there. We also tolerate opium harvets in areas controlled by non-Taliban warlords, who support the Karzi regime and pay it bribes (because that’s the way it’s done there). What we don’t tolerate is opium harvests in areas within the reach of the U.S. forces and the Karzi government who don’t pay bribes to the Karzi government.

    In other words, we reward our enemies, and those who follow us only for price, and punish those who would follow us based on ideology or loyalty by taking away their means to make a living.

  2. 3

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    So Lee, are you whining about your messiah ImamObaMao??
    Sheesh, you got him in, a supermajority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate and what happened? You loved this guy 2 years ago.
    You jammed him in the face of Conservatives and bragged about what he was going to do to us.

    Do you feel like a USEFUL IDIOT Lee?
    I’m just askin’

  3. 4

    spews:

    @3
    No, I don’t. I voted for the best candidate available and hoped that he’d do what was needed. I don’t regret my vote, I regret that Obama didn’t step up to the plate with the requisite amount of courage to get things done.

    As I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I don’t doubt that a McCain administration would have been worse.

    The reality is that we’re getting to a point where America’s political system is too broken to fix this problem right now. What I’d love to see is a genuine third-party challenge in 2012 that unites libertarian folks on both the left and right. Opposition to endless war would be a centerpiece of that platform. I’d love to see something like a Russ Feingold/Gary Johnson ticket. But I worry that the economic disagreements inherent in that pairing would make it difficult to generate enough popular support.

  4. 5

    Rujax! Reminding MISTER Cynical-ASS-Klown that the jesus threw pricks like him out of the Temple. spews:

    3. Mr. Cynical spews:

    So Lee, are you whining about your messiah ImamObaMao??
    Sheesh, you got him in, a supermajority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate and what happened? You loved this guy 2 years ago.
    You jammed him in the face of Conservatives and bragged about what he was going to do to us.

    Do you feel like a USEFUL IDIOT Lee?
    I’m just askin’

    12/13/2010 at 4:23 pm

    Nice way to ignore the gist of Lee’s spot-on post.

    But we expect that from MISTER Cynical-ASS-Klown, the second-stupidest motherfucker on the planet.

  5. 6

    Steve spews:

    The KLOWN must still be infatuated with the moose murderer. Or maybe he still pines for the idiot who let Osama get away because he wanted to work out his daddy issues by invading Iraq.

    @6 I thought he was #1. Who’s the dumbest?

    We should just get the hell out of Afghanistan. If not, then let’s just spend the KLOWN’s money to fight that damned useless war. When the KLOWN’s broke, we leave.

  6. 7

    spews:

    @5
    The way I like to explain Cynical (and most other wingnuts who get their political viewpoints from talk radio stupidity) is with an analogy to children’s shoes they sold a long time ago that had the words “left” and “right” written on them. He (and Puddybud) as well, can only think of politics as being a binary thing. They’re not intelligent enough to comprehend the large array of different political viewpoints, so they boil them down to two. And of course, this oversimplification of our politics is manipulated by the wealthy to serve a greater purpose – to demonize those who want a more fair and equitable society.

    Cynical is the useful idiot, but he’s not smart enough to ever figure that out.

  7. 8

    Rujax! Reminding MISTER Cynical-ASS-Klown that the jesus threw pricks like him out of the Temple. spews:

    @6…

    Well…I like to call him the big p’dumbski…

    …just one man’s opinion

  8. 9

    Steve spews:

    @7 I express it as buying into the left-right paradigm, which is such obvious bullshit. But it works for the simple-minded types like the KLOWN. It especially works for those who would divide this nation and weaken it, all while controlling the citizenry.

  9. 10

    Steve spews:

    @8 Both are dumber than a stump. I’d put the KLOWN at the top with Puddy coming in a distant second. It’s the KLOWN’s complete lack of wit that wins it for him handily.

  10. 11

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    Well, just so long as we can all agree that when it comes to finding a way to shrinking the deficit the two things we’ll refuse to reasonably consider is getting the F**K OUT of Afghanistan and Iraq as fast as our little feet will carry us.

    Cuz if we did…. something bad would happen…. cuz it isn’t happening anyway.

    Now, let’s put our Ostrich heads back in the sand.

  11. 13

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    SIDs Syndrome = Standard Issue Democrats

    The gave us Humphrey in ’68. Shit on us in ’72. Gave us Carter after Nixon. Triangulated with Clinton, and are now reaching across the aisle with Obama. Some of them still worship that imperial warmonger Scoopy Jackson.

    Meanwhile they look the other way as unions are crushed, we expand our imperial mission abroad, and our nation’s wealth is transferred to those who already have it.

    There’s gotta’ be a better way.

  12. 14

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

    Just watched the documentary called “Restrepo.” It is about Sebastian Junger embedded with some troops stationed in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan. Totally pointless war.

    Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, all bloody pointless wars. Any war in which you are not fighting and taking land, is a pointless war. Just like Vietnam, the US military is purposely setting up US troops to be targets to lure the enemy into action. What the f@$K is going on here!! They are purposely putting targets on our troops backs. And now they are bombing the shit out of the country, killing thousands of innocent civilians. The United States is the biggest terrorist nation in the world right now, at least if you go by amount of innocent people being killed.

    We are not fighting these wars for the good of humanity. We are fighting these wars so the military industrial complex can make a shit load of money.

    Biggest mistake of Obama’s tenure was escalating the war in Afghanistan. He made the classic mistake of listening to his Generals, who just like Patton, love war.

  13. 15

    spews:

    Mr. Cynical spews: So Lee, are you whining about your messiah ImamObaMao?

    @3 that obamao thing got old a long time ago. the new joke is obama=bush.

    Lee spews: And of course, this oversimplification of our politics is manipulated by the wealthy to serve a greater purpose – to demonize those who want a more fair and equitable society.

    @7 you hit the nail on the head. everybody hates a libertarian.

    @5 Rujax! Reminding MISTER Cynical-ASS-Klown that the jesus threw pricks like him out of the Temple

    your brains taste like foie gras. delicious!

  14. 16

    Brain Damage spews:

    But the problem is the far lunatic right, and half of the left LOVES American imperialism. We WANT American to run the world. We want America to decide all conflicts, decide resources, and be the police of the world. We don’t want CHINA to decide policy and power even in THEIR neighborhood, we want to control how things work there. We’re not content to just defend our actual boarders. No one can ‘take’ our nation, just hurt us with random bombings/attacks, but not invade and takeover. Iowa is in NO risk of actually being overrun by China, Japan, Norway, or Saudi Arabia. Our Army can protect Iowa. No, most Americans SUPPORT us trying to be the sole super power of the world. It will bankrupt us and ruin our nation ultimately, not only the direct cost, but it means we’re by definition “involved” in every conflict that happens anywhere. Why the fuck did we care about Kuwait? Tiny strip of nothing sand? Oh, we wanted to control what happened to the oil there. Fuck Tibet, don’t care if China invades that…no oil or anything else we want there. Being the world’s police will destroy us ultimately.

  15. 17

    headless lucy spews:

    re 3: Why don’t you cry about like YOUR Messiah, Blubberin’ John?

    The man is clearly psychologically impaired.

  16. 18

    headless lucy spews:

    re 7: I’d agree with you about Cynical being a ‘useful idiot’ were it not for the word useful.

  17. 19

    headless lucy spews:

    The real point of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is to be able to destroy Iran and Pakistans nuclear capability at a moments notice.

    Hence, the seemingly stupid activities of the Generals who employ tactics that prolong rather than shorten the war.

  18. 20

    headless lucy spews:

    In a war where the enemy blends in with the populace, the utility of putting your men out in the middle of nowhere is that the Taliban will separate themselves from the citizenry to attack the soldiers — and the soldiers can kill them.