Afghanistan: some claims more reality-based than others

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Earlier this month, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made some remarks to the effect that a reduction in US forces in Afghanistan is planned to proceed as scheduled.  There are caveats, of course:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday warned allies against “ill-timed, precipitous or uncoordinated” drawdowns of their troops from Afghanistan that could harm gains made against Taliban militants…

Gates did not say how large the first U.S. troop withdrawals will be this year, but he implied, as he has before, that the reductions would be small.

“We will not sacrifice the significant gains made to date, or the lives lost, for a political gesture,” he said. “In return, we expect the same from you,” he told the other ministers.

This diary is not intended as a rant.  Any drawdown at all, in line with the timetable that was promised, is welcome news.  I, for one, would like to see a lot more.  But I acknowledge that it’s an extremely difficult situation. 

(I did a diary about Afghanistan, months ago, full of info on where to go for data on troop levels, casualties, and so forth.)

There are two primary perspectives here.  One, the “official” line, is that coalition forces are making encouraging progress.  The other is that they’re not;  if anything, they’re just making things worse.  In the context of this post, the only “good,” to use that word very loosely, that could result from this dichotomy is that both lines of thought can be used to justify the withdrawal of foreign forces from that country, beginning soon.

I tend to the view that foreign troops shouldn’t be there, except to provide protection for humanitarian aid projects, and train Afghan forces, if they can get a legitimate political power structure for them to work for.  But I acknowledge that in a mess like that, that’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds.  Because the current regime certainly isn’t worth risking so much as a stubbed toe for.

The Karzai government is corrupt and rotten to the core. Not a single US soldier should die to prop it up. The lie that we are fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan needs to be exposed. The US and NATO are fighting four or five groups of Pashtun insurgents, some of them until fairly recently US allies. The goal of the fighting is to keep the Karzai government from falling to the guerrillas and to train up an army and police force that could go on defending Kabul. The Afghanistan National Army from all accounts has poor morale. No wonder. What Afghan soldier or policeman would die for a ponzi scheme?

NATO should not have allowed Karzai to steal the presidential election. (At least now we have more of an idea how the theft was accomplished). It should not have allowed him to block corruption investigations.

You have to wonder if the Afghanistan parliament is up to impeaching Karzai. One thing is certain. He is part of the problem, not the solution, and as long as he is at the helm, the situation is highly unlikely to get better.

Here’s a follow-up, from the same blogger.

There is absolutely no shortage of compelling material out there, to the effect that the aforementioned “official line” on this issue, ain’t real accurate.  This is representative.  So is this.

And as for U.S. public opinion, let’s just note that the warmongering neo-cowards, including their representatives in the administration, are on the wrong side of it.