Afghanistan Conflict

Afghanistan Conflict:  Article by Norm Gottlieb

SeniorsCAN call upon President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,  National Security Advisor Susan Rice and all Congresspersons to stop ratification of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan which will commit American forces to staying in that country beyond the current 2014 deadline.

The US should declare an end to our intrusion in Afghanistan by December 31, 2014.

The stated reason for the US staying beyond 2014 for another 10 years is a ‘commitment’ to Afghanistan’s security.  Afghan forces have improved, and another year of training and support by our military should be sufficient for Afghans to provide their own security.

The people of Afghanistan have their tribal rivalries but have managed to coexist for a thousand years without foreign interference.  In the long run, neither the US nor NATO can impose its will upon that country.

We could be an honest broker to a negotiated peace between Afghanistan (its president and the Loya Jirga) and the Taliban after 2014 if we cease our physical presence in that country.

What this proposed agreement will do is foster more resentment to our invasion of that country and to our foreign presence.  It will permit us to maintain 9 bases, which, among other things, will allow the CIA or US Air Force to use the bases to launch drones secretly targeting suspected terrorists or insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  It will commit about 10,000 troops to provide training and ‘logistic’ support; all of the troops will be in harm’s way with surely more death and injuries in future years.   In addition to the troops, there are numerous US contractors working there who are ‘nationals’ we are committed to defend militarily.  The proposed agreement will provide immunity for US troops from prosecution in Afghan courts.  It will commit the US to continue its massive military aid and financial support for another 10 years!

One of the provisions of the pact permits US ground troops to continue entering Afghan homes in the conduct of ‘night raids’ but only ‘under extraordinary circumstances’.  But there are no limitations on the use of unmanned aircraft  On November 28 a US drone killed a 2-year-old Afghan.. The US apologized to the government for the mistake.  But where is the concern for Afghan lives?  And where is the accountability and justice?  Was this ‘war time collateral damage’ really executed as the result of a strke threatening our national security?

But the big question is:  What is our mission?  We are not going to kill all Al-queda and their affiliates by counterinsurgency actions.  We cannot stop the Taliban from trying to return to power in Afghanistan.  We are not going to stop the opium trade or corruption in that country.  We are not going to further democracy by military action.  The only apparent purpose of the proposed agreement is to enhance our military-industrial complex.

When you find yourself in a hole the first thing to do is stop digging.  Over the past 12 years we have already lost too many lives and expended too much precious capital.  The wise and prudent action now is to bring all of our troops home as soon as possible, close all of our bases in Afghanistan, and stop the flow of military and financial aid after 2014.  Furthermore, because all actions by the ‘coalition’ are perceived to be those of the United States, NATO’s International Security Force should also leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Norm Gottlieb

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