Saturday, January 01, 2011

Everything Old Is New Again

Happy Fucking New Year!

Traditionally, New Year's Day is a time of looking forward, a time when we can start fresh. That, of course, is actually unrealistic because the past continues to inform the present and almost inevitably shapes it.

Here's a good example of what I mean: Afghanistan

U.S. and NATO officials have sought to put a positive face on the last 12 months of fighting here, citing significant military gains in the Taliban's southern heartland, a concerted campaign of strikes targeting the insurgents' midlevel field command and the growth of the NATO force to levels at last deemed adequate for the task at hand.

The war in Afghanistan, which should never have been started, is now nearly nine years old. For many of those years, the US pretty much ignored the war because of the war in Iraq, which really should never have been started. Our neglect helped prolong things. As a candidate, Barack Obama made it clear from the get-go that the war in Afghanistan would get placed back on the front burner, and that was one promise he kept.

And the result? Well, the article looks back over the past year and what it finds is really disheartening:

The Taliban made deep inroads in swaths of the country previously regarded as relatively safe — the north, northwest and center — eroding confidence in the West's ability to protect the Afghan populace and hampering aid and reconstruction efforts. Parliamentary elections in September intended as a democratic showpiece devolved into fraud and chaos. Corruption tightened its grip on the government of President Hamid Karzai.

By midsummer, combat casualties among U.S. troops and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force as a whole had already reached their highest annual levels of the war. On Friday, the American military toll stood just short of a grim milestone: 498 deaths, according to the independent website, more than in the previous two years put together.

Altogether, Western troops suffered more than 700 fatalities in 2010, heightening unease on the part of European governments keenly aware of the war's unpopularity at home. While the NATO allies presented a united front at a conference in November, the Americans — whose troops make up two-thirds of the 150,000-member Western force — privately fretted about the likelihood of the United States shouldering an even larger share of the military burden in coming years.

As violence burgeoned, civilian casualties did too, jumping by 20% in the first 10 months of 2010 compared with the same period in the previous year, according to the United Nations. Most of the 2,412 noncombatant deaths in that period were attributed to the Taliban. But many Afghans, to the frustration of Western military officials, tend to place the overall blame on Western forces, seeing their presence as a magnet for insurgent attacks that kill and injure civilians.


We'll be drawing down some troops this year, just like we promised. The surge worked just as well as it did in Iraq (where we still have troops who are still getting maimed and killed, just as Iraqi are still getting maimed and killed).


By 2014, the Afghan security forces will be able to take over and finish the job. We're paying off the war lords to make certain that happens.

Like I said: Happy Fucking New Year

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Blogger PurpleGirl said...

Corruption tightened its grip on the government of President Hamid Karzai.

This makes corruption sound like some external force that works upon government officials rather than it being human behavior that is the result of a human decision. We can't do anything about it because it happens (on it own)...

6:55 AM  

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