Let’s Rethink Military Escalation in Afghanistan Before It’s Too Late

Why is our government sending an additional 30,000 US soldiers to Afghanistan? So far, not even members of the Obama administration seem able to answer this question. Last week, The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss had a chance to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen why they’re pushing to double our troop presence in Afghanistan. Both Gates and Mullen said that while they’re thinking about the war in Afghanistan in terms of a 3-5 year time frame, their immediate goals are unclear. What’s more, a final decision has not been made yet to commit those additional brigades.

Like Dreyfuss says, the fact that a final decision hasn’t been made is key, because it opens the door slightly for a much-needed public debate about what 30,000 more soldiers can possibly achieve. Some of the big questions that must be addressed include whether those extra troops alone will be able to secure a lasting peace for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States? That seems highly unlikely, considering each military operation targeting insurgents–like the one yesterday that killed 15 militants and 16 innocent civilians (including two women and three children)–only fans the flame of Afghan fury toward the United States.

Just as important, we must ask how are we planning to pay for this escalation, considering our economic crisis at home and the fact that so much of this war has been paid with borrowed money. And is committing tens of thousands more troops really the best way to help a war-torn nation with 40 percent unemployment and some 5 million people living below the poverty line? Proponents of escalation like Karin von Hippel, an Afghanistan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggest that 30,000 more troops will make a psychological impact. But wouldn’t a more profound psychological impact come from to sending humanitarian aid, creating jobs, and getting Afghanistan away from what Secretary of State Clinton recently called a “narco state?”

Perhaps Andrew Bacevich, an international relations professor at Boston University, and author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, put it best in yesterday’s NY Times when he said,

“There’s clearly a consensus that things are heading in the wrong direction. What’s not clear to me is why sending 30,000 more troops is the essential step to changing that. My understanding of the larger objective of the allied enterprise in Afghanistan is to bring into existence something that looks like a modern cohesive Afghan state. Well, it could be that that’s an unrealistic objective. It could be that sending 30,000 more troops is throwing money and lives down a rat hole.”

Throwing money and lives down a rat hole is exactly what Derrick Crowe found on Daily Kos recently, when he did the math to figure out how many troops might actually be called for in Afghanistan. Crowe points out that by the military’s own standards, a successful counterinsurgency could require 655,000 troops throughout Afghanistan, or, if the military simply wants to go after surge proponents like the 14 million Pashtuns, we’re still talking 230,000 troops.

If that’s the case, then why send 30,000 soldiers at all? Is it to get us used to the idea that this is just the beginning of a long, drawn out, unwinnable quagmire of Vietnam proportions? Vice President Biden has grimly assessed there will be “an uptick” in casualties from the initial military escalation in Afghanistan. Already we have lost over 600 US soldiers–155 of which died in 2008 alone–to say nothing of the thousands of Afghan civilian casualties. Imagine how many more will die in this “uptick.” Imagine what escalation will cost on every level, and then let the debate begin to rethink a solution.

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The incredible story of Youssef Nada

Under the cover of the ” war against terror “, the United States and the European Union have granted unlimited powers to secret services and police. Emergency measures which were introduced on a provisional basis in 2001, outside any judiciary control, have become permanent. Since September 2001, at least 80,000 people, mainly Muslim, would have been kidnapped, kept in secret prisons, and tortured by CIA and FBI agents. Hundreds of others have been put on the UN « black list ». That’s what happened to the businessman Youssef Nada, 77 years old, an Italian citizen of Egyptian origin, accused by U.S. President, G.W Bush of financing Al-Qaeda. Two judiciary investigations resulted in a non-suit, but Mr. Nada didn’t get his name deleted from the UN « black list » (*). His assets remain frozen; he is barred from travelling to or transiting in any country. He can’t go outside the tiny enclave of Campione – an Italian enclave inside Swiss territory – where Silvia Cattori went to meet him.

Silvia Cattori : Once he knew, in detail, your incredible story, Mr. Dick Marty denounced the injustice which is inflicted on you. He reported on your case, 19th March 2007 to the Council of Europe. Despite his report, you remain on the « black list » of people suspected of assisting terrorism, deprived of freedom because my country continues to uphold the UN sanctions against you. You are living in Italy, yet being kept as hostage by Switzerland?! I want to tell you that many of us are outraged by the martyrdom that Switzerland continues to inflict on you.

Youssef Nada : You can’t say that it is “the country, Switzerland”. The citizens are one thing, and politics is another. It is true that, in Switzerland, the people here are tolerant and peaceful, and neutral. Not only is the Government neutral, but the people themselves are neutral. But Mr. Dick Marty proved that he is one of the best Swiss citizens. Really, you feel when you read and hear what he says, that he is a humanitarian. The risk he took when he followed the “Extraordinary Renditions” case, nobody took before him. All the politicians know what is going on, but no one has the courage to speak. He was the only one who had the courage. Although I respect all the Swiss people, I respect Mr. Marty more, and not only because of the attitude he had towards me. His courage when he talks about people who are helpless in front of the biggest power is unique.

Silvia Cattori : Mr. Marty’s behaviour was exemplary; but unfortunately not the behaviour of the media. You implicate them on your personal website [3]. Does that mean that the journalists are apologists in support of this war?

Youssef Nada : Some journalists do have a special agenda, which they just mix up. They take part from me, part from their preconceived ideas, and make their own story. However, most journalists and media are honest. You can’t generalise. There are a lot of honest people within the media, doing their job and looking for the facts and for the interest of the public. Every month, I speak to about 15 to 20 journalists. TV journalists came: two from France, two from England, one from Austria, two from Germany, two from Italy, one from Spain, others from the Middle East and from the Far East. Some of these journalists are very honest. In fact, some of them, even without seeing me, defended my case in a correct way.

Silvia Cattori : It must have been a terrible hardship for you. Every day, you were confronted by new accusations, all more unlikely and overwhelming than the last, without being able to answer them!

Full article: www.insight-info.com