For antiwar groups, the President’s address to the nation was somewhat welcome news; the ever-increasing unpopularity of the war opened the door to common sense. On the other hand, critics called Obama’s speech a road map for insurgents to plan their takeover of the Afghan government.
The dilemma for commanders on the ground centers on the classification of the 10-year war. A mission change is in the works and military leaders will now shift the counterinsurgency strategy to a more stealthy counter-terrorism position.
Afghanistan’s corrupt government, lack of infrastructure and tribal tendencies have met a predictable ending- a U.S. troop departure, a small victory toppling the Taliban and killing Osama bin Laden.
General David Petraeus outlined the requirements for a successful counterinsurgency strategy in a 2006 military handbook. “As the counterinsurgent gains success, offensive and defensive operations become more in balance and eventually diminish in importance compared to stability operations.”
It has been five years since Petraeus wrote the Manual on Counterinsurgency and Afghanistan remains in the hands of corrupt leaders who provide economic and security failures for its people. Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to swindle the American people by requesting billions of dollars for nation building; however, there has been little progress with building infrastructure in the past 10 years.
According to the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan, the foreign aid dispensed to Afghanistan amounted to $320 million each month and the monthly military tab is approximately $10 billion. Other money earmarked for the corrupt Karzai government is a $19 billion slush fund that is included in the U.S. aid package, most of it coming under the Obama Administration for its counterinsurgency approach.
America’s love affair with exporting democracy has sent the nation into an economic abyss. In the case of Afghanistan, a 2003/04, a plan hatched by Army Lt. COL Anthony Shaffer could have saved taxpayers billions of dollars. His book entitled “Operation Dark Heart,” reported that Pakistan officials were meddling in the Afghan War and were not friends of the U.S. “They were playing both sides of the war efforts,” COL Shaffer said. Had COL Shaffer’s intelligence of the Afghan War effort been heeded by military leaders at the top, U.S. troops could have shifted their tactics and avoided a troop surge.
Evidence that the Department of Defense did not want COL Shaffer’s 2003/04 plan to find its way into civilian ranks came in the form of the heavily-redacted book “Operation Dark Heart.” The tell-all book chronicled gritty details regarding Pakistan’s and U.S. complicity with insurgents.
Many lawmakers as well as, Johnny Come Lately politicians, are arguing that the Afghan War’s focus should be on Pakistan’s unsavory alliance with the Taliban and al Qaeda. By focusing on terrorist organizations, the U.S. can unleash special op teams, and reduce the number of boots on the ground.
“There cannot be a gradual drawdown of troops without a change in mission objectives,” said Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA), a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Successfully implementing a counterinsurgency strategy is near impossible without enough Marines and soldiers to see it through. On the other hand, counterterrorism operations linked to a more simplified set of objectives is sustainable with a significantly smaller force size.”
Hunter continues to explain that a drawdown is on the horizon, and the military must narrow its objectives in Afghanistan. “These objectives should consist of making sure the enemy cannot get back on its feet, strengthening the Afghan military and stabilizing Pakistan. We can do all of this with a much smaller footprint, utilizing special operations forces, intelligence gathering capability and air assets.”
Hunter contends the situation on the ground has changed and, “what might have seemed like a good strategy years or even months ago is not showing the level of success that justifies continuing the mission with such a large troop presence. The time has come for a change in strategy that begins with a departure from nation-building and counterinsurgency operations – the centerpiece of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan since Mr. Obama took office.”
Corruption fuels instability
Afghanistan’s corruption is legendary. The war-torn tribal nation provides fertile fields for training terrorists and growing poppies, is home to al Qaeda, and is where the 9/11 plotters hatched their terrorist attack on America. But sadly, in the worst kept secret in Central Asia, the U.S. condones and encourages the growing of poppies (the base ingredient for heroin and cocaine) paying billions to Taliban insurgents and warlords for convoy protection. We do so, not to keep the poor farmers happy, but to line the pockets of the Taliban, warlords, and the Karzai government. In other words, Americans are fighting and dying protecting the poppy fields.
“More declared cash flies out of Kabul each year than the Afghan government collects in tax and customs revenue nationwide. It’s not like they grow money on trees here,” said one U.S. official investigating the corruption and Taliban. “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen. And opium (poppies), of course.”
President Hamid Karzai sees the money changing hands differently. “Making money is fine and taking money out of the country is fine. The relatives of government officials can do this, starting with my brothers. But there’s a possibility of corruption.”
If this is true why does America/NATO continue to send billions of dollars to such a corrupt country? This scenario implies the American government chose its political elites poorly and the continuation of business as usual will only leave disenfranchised Afghan civilians inflamed at the U.S.
According to separate Congressional and Senate reports, the American government pays more than $2 billion for Host Nation Trucking (HNT) or in layman’s terms, private security firms that protect U.S. military convoys and materials in dangerous tribal areas.
A report titled “Warlord, Inc., Extortion and Corruption along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan” was published by Congressman John Tierney (D-MA) in June of last year. The report detailed the billions of dollars spent to protect U.S. military supply convoys in Afghanistan- the majority of the money is paid by the DOD through defense contractors and finds its way into the hands of Taliban leaders and warlords.
The Senate Armed Services Committee also sent staffers to investigate the “convoy protection” issue. Their report titled, “Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan” concluded the U.S. pays trucking contractors billions of dollars a year, much of it ends up in the hands of local warlords.
Two U.S. administrations have now promised a “hearts and minds” and “nation building” campaigns and to date both have subverted the ability to impose a military solution. This role is fraught with disappointments since it implies that the U.S. and allied forces will provide the Afghan people with an effective government, root out corruption, create a westernized Afghan military, value women’s rights and ensure fair elections.
It has been 10 years since America waded into the Middle East Wars, and the ability to achieve victory continues to be nothing more than a pipe dream.
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Obama begins to wind-down the costly war in Afghanistan (Final in a series) – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/obama-begins-to-wind-down-the-costly-war-afghanistan-final-a-series#ixzz1Q9m8JYNF
Afghanistan’s corruption is legendary (see Part 3 in this series). The war-torn tribal nation provides fertile fields for training terrorists and growing poppies, is home to al Qaeda, and is where the 9/11 plotters hatched their terrorist attack on America. But sadly, in the worst kept secret in Central Asia, the U.S. condones and encourages the growing of poppies, the base ingredient for heroin and cocaine. We do so, not to keep the poor farmers happy, but to line the pockets of the Taliban, warlords, and the Karzai government. In other words Americans are fighting and dying protecting the poppy fields.
According to Colonel (ret) Eugene Khrushchev (son of the former Soviet Premier) writing for the Salem-News.com, “What Secretary of State (Hilary Clinton) called the ‘best decision in the face of an array of less-than-perfect options’ has set in motion the worse-case nightmare scenario- a boon for the drug lords, a bane for the drug busters.” Colonel Khrushchev contends that America’s drug eradication policy is nothing more than a ruse. Instead it supplies criminal elements with the means to destabilize the Afghan government while destroying the tribal population to ensure terrorists sympathy in the region forever.
The incentive for narcotic trafficking is the $2.7 billion in annual sales, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). And in Afghanistan, the drug trade accounts for more than half the country’s entire GDP.
Making matters worse is Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government’s involvement. Afghan Parliament member, Amanullah Paiman has studied the illicit drug-trade and claims the government runs approximately 70 percent of the narco-fields. “The chain of narco dollars goes from the districts to the highest levels of government.”
Perhaps the most well-known trafficker is President Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. A Newsweek article described it this way; “He (the president’s brother) is the unofficial regional governor of southern Afghanistan and leads the whole trafficking structure,” said a senior Interior Ministry official. However, Ahmed Karzai flatly denies any involvement in the drug trade.
One US argument for letting the farmers grow their lucrative poppy crops rings hollow. Skeptics point out that those farmers could turn to insurgents to earn a living without the poppies. The second focuses economic hardship farmers would suffer if they were forced to grow another crop. Both arguments are false.
The New York Times reported in July of 2008 that Afghanistan was already a narco-state. “Karzai had long opposed aerial eradication. Why? More than 95 percent of the residents of the poppy growing provinces of Helmand and Kandahar- voted for Karzai.”
“Poppy cultivation was becoming limited to the south, more associated with the insurgency and disassociated from poverty…UNODC convincingly demonstrated that poor farmers were abandoning the crop and that poppy growth was confined to the wealthiest parts … ‘poverty doesn’t appear to have been the main driving factor in the expansion of opium poppy’,” according to the NYT.
“UNODC shattered the myth that poppies are grown by destitute farmers…Eighty percent of the land under poppy cultivation in the south had been planted with it only in the last two years …these farmers didn’t need an alternative livelihood. They had abandoned their previous livelihoods…to take advantage of the security vacuum [which coincides with the UK military presence] to grow a more profitable crop: opium…Yet Afghan officials continued to say that poppy cultivation was the only choice for its poor farmers,” the UNODC states. The truth is the insurgents pay the poppy farmers an advance in pay to plant poppies, according to the latest 2011 report.
“The ‘starving farmer’ was a convenient myth. [NATO] …wanted to avoid any uptick in violence from [counternarcotics] strategy; even if the strategy would result in long-term success…the Taliban loved it because their propaganda campaign consisted of trotting out farmers whose fields had been eradicated and having them say that they were going to starve.”
The question of what to do with the poppy fields has plagued every commander in the now 10-year-war. A Newsweek article describes the fear of Afghan officials who fear, “We are losing the fight against drug traffickers. If we don’t crack down on these guys soon, it won’t be long until they’re in control of everything.”
The question remains will the program that started under the Bush Administration and continues with the Obama Administration be the albatross that sinks the war effort? Or does President Obama realize his mistakes and correct them before the American people cry foul?
Part five; Afghanistan- the counterinsurgency- will it work?
Part three; Billion-dollar corruption within the U.S. picked Afghan regime
Part two; U.S. payments to Taliban & Afghan warlords threaten American/NATO troops
Part one; U.S. troops fight and die to preserve Sharaih Law in Afghanistan
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: Terrorism’s down-payment in the form drugs and U.S. aid money (part 4) – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/terrorism-s-down-payment-the-form-drugs-and-u-s-aid-money-part-4#ixzz1K6S2Zm9J