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WHERE'S THE “CHANGE”...
Operation Uptick: Obama Launches Afghan Surge
America wouldn't wage a longer avoidable war in order to “stimulate” the Defense Industry, would it?
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Most of the new troops are apparently going to be sent on a fool's errand to eradicate the only means of support of poor Afghans: the opium crop.And so it begins: the great Obama "surge" in Afghanistan. Before withdrawing a single soldier from Iraq, Barack Obama is throwing 17,500 more troops into the boiling Afghan cauldron. The deployment is the first installment of what Obama aides affirm could be much larger escalation down the road: as soon as the vaunted "strategic review" of Afghan policy – led by hawks like Joe Biden, Richard Holbrook and General David "Pre-President" Petraeus – is completed.
Most of the new troops are apparently going to be sent on a fool's errand to eradicate the only means of support of poor Afghans: the opium crop. Previous such efforts by American forces and their allies have produced nothing but more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency. And whatever the mission, increased troop levels and military action have led invariably to steep rises in civilian casualties – which, in turn, produce more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency.
In fact, on the very day that Obama was announcing his own personal Terror War surge, the UN released a report that confirmed the already obvious fact that the American-led occupiers of Afghanistan have been lying about the number of civilians they have been killing. The UN report documents the killing of 2,118 Afghan civilians in 2008 – 828 of them killed by the American-led forces. As Jason Ditz notes at Antiwar.com:
The NATO number is absurd indeed, especially when one recalls that some 90 civilians, including at least 75 women and children, were killed in a single attack by an American gunship in the village of Azizabad last summer. [For more, see Atrocity in Azizabad: More Child Sacrifices on the Terror War Altar.]
There will of course be much more of this as the troop levels rise, especially more "close air support" for the increased number of ground forces undertaking more and more attacks. Even the witless, plagarizing, credit-card bagman that Obama put one heartbeat away from the presidency, Joe Biden, admits there will be what he calls – in the hideous argot of our bipartisan Beltway bloodletters – an "uptick" in the number of deaths. Naturally, he was referring only to an increase in American casualties; the Afghans who will also die in increasing numbers in the surge don't count, and aren't counted: 97, 150, 300, 828 – who gives a damn?
But while there is an understandable focus on the deployment and operations of regular U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the activities of America's secret armies working in the killing fields there remain virtually unnoticed. One of the few recent mentions is a curious interlude in the New York Times story about the UN report. Buried in the middle of the story is a report of a shocking war crime carried out by what the Times blithely calls U.S. "military units operating outside the normal chain of command." These irregular units, which include the Special Forces, are singled out as key killers of civilians in the UN report, which notes that they "frequently could not be held accountable for their actions."
Rogue forces operating outside any established chain of command, killing civilians and bowing to no outside authority: these are what the U.S. government would ordinarily define as "terrorists." Unless of course, these rogue forces are working for the United States government, either directly or indirectly: a common practice of American foreign policy for many decades.
In Afghanistan, these "Good War" rogues of Uncle Sam are apparently murdering infants, as the NYT somewhat shyly reports. Six paragraphs into the story, with no previous mention in the lede, no buildup, we are suddenly given this harrowing tale:
The fault of the babies, Mr. Mohammed, was to be born to people who do not matter, who do not count, who are just so much roadkill beneath the wheels of the great Terror War engine, as it grinds through one country after another: mindless, heedless, omnivorous. The machine has a new driver now, but it is still headed in the same direction.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on February 18, 2009.