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Afghanistan: U.S. expands war

Published Apr 4, 2009 9:10 AM

In his March 27 policy statement expanding the U.S. military role in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would send 4,000 U.S. “trainers” in addition to 17,000 combat troops. According to the president, the U.S. goal would be “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Afghan Qasim Akhgar, who teaches law at Kabul University and has a reputation as a defender of civil rights and freedom of the press, quickly condemned the U.S. escalation: “Fighting terrorism is just an excuse to justify U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.” (Xinhua, March 28)

Akhgar continued: “The driving force for toppling Taliban regime and deploying troops in Afghanistan is to safeguard the interests of U.S. and its western allies in the war-torn Asian state. The strategically important location of Afghanistan that links south Asia to central Asia has prompted Washington and its allies to snatch a foothold in this part of the world.”

Those planning demonstrations April 3-5 in Strasbourg, France, to counter the 60th anniversary celebrations of NATO, also oppose the use of NATO troops in Afghanistan and the U.S. attempt to expand the war. They point out in their call, “Proponents and opponents of NATO both view the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to which the U.S. is committing significantly more troops, as a key test” for allowing NATO to intervene worldwide.

All serious anti-imperialist organizations oppose the U.S. expansion of the war in that region and consider any explanation that this is “fighting terrorism” to be a pretext.

The Taliban, who are the main group within the Afghan resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan, had already decided on their response. According to the March 27 New York Times the Taliban resolved differences between the Pakistani-based and Afghan-based sections of their movement. “Several Taliban fighters based in the border region said preparations for the anticipated influx of American troops were already being made. A number of new, younger commanders have been preparing to step up a campaign of roadside bombings and suicide attacks to greet the Americans, the fighters said.”

On the other hand, both President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan—a complete U.S. puppet—and U.S. client President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan rushed to praise the new U.S. policy.

Karzai is often called the mayor of Kabul because the capital is the only area of Afghanistan his government securely controls. Karzai said he liked Obama’s proposal to try to split off the more moderate elements of the Taliban, something Karzai has been urging for a while.

Zardari, who is facing growing popular resistance to his government and his attempts to stifle the opposition, still praised Obama’s initiative as “a positive change.” Zardari challenged Obama’s statement that the Pentagon could take unilateral action with drone attacks within Pakistan. These attacks are deeply unpopular because they kill many civilians and are seen as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

A few days later, Obama reversed his statement, saying on CBS’s Face the Nation, “If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we’re going after them.”

A Google search for casualties in Afghanistan turns up small but significant numbers, both among Afghan soldiers and cops as well as U.S. and NATO troops in the fourth week of March. For example, an Afghan soldier shot three U.S. soldiers, killing two.

Taliban casualties were also listed, but often the NATO and Afghan puppet forces list any civilians killed as Taliban.