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Money can’t buy friends

Pentagon grip weakens in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Published Oct 15, 2010 10:20 PM

There is much to be learned from the indisputable fact that the U.S. military, despite all its high-tech weaponry and the billions of dollars at its disposal, has lost control of the situation in Afghanistan and has forced even the corrupt Pakistani government to denounce Pentagon attacks as “intolerable” and close parts of its border with Afghanistan.

The Pentagon had argued that a “surge” of tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan would turn the war around and win over the population. Clearly, the opposite has happened.

The more the U.S. kills and destroys Afghans, their homes, their livestock and their crops, the more the people hate the invaders. The only “social base” the occupation forces can count on are those they pay for their loyalty — and now it seems that even some of them are secretly for the resistance and may be on the U.S. payroll for tactical reasons.

It turns out that many of the people who work for the U.S.-NATO occupation forces, guarding their military bases, are adherents of the resistance — usually identified in the Western media as “the Taliban,” although other political groupings are also actively opposing the U.S. occupation and war.

The Senate Armed Services Committee just released a report on an investigation it conducted into the security of U.S. bases in Afghanistan. It seems that the Pentagon contracts out the job of security to private U.S. companies, which then pocket a healthy profit as they subcontract the work to local Afghans.

The Senate committee found that the Pentagon allows “local security deals among American military commanders, Western contracting companies and Afghan warlords who are closely connected to the violent insurgency.” (New York Times, Oct. 7)

The Times article adds: “The latest disclosures follow a series of reports, including articles in The New York Times and testimony before a House committee, describing bribes paid by contractors to the Taliban and other warlords to make sure supply convoys for the American military were provided safe passage.”

The U.S. government has nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan right now. At Washington’s prodding, 20,000 additional soldiers have been sent there by other countries.

The top political leadership in Afghanistan was imposed by the United States. It was U.S. agents who found Hamid Karzai — when he was pulling down a fat salary with Unocal, a U.S. energy corporation — and groomed him to “lead the nation” after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001. After cooked elections, Karzai became president of Afghanistan and continues to retain that title, although he is cynically referred to by many Afghans and foreigners as the “mayor of Kabul,” since his authority doesn’t extend far beyond the capital.

Karzai’s government consists of hirelings paid largely with U.S. funds and narco-dollars. His “re-election” was so crooked it was challenged even by Western observers.

No amount of dollars and firepower can win over people’s “hearts and minds.” Only justice can do that, and there is no justice at all in imperialist conquest. It is motivated by the crassest hunger for superprofits. In the case of strategically located Afghanistan, the goal is control over Southwest Asia, the world’s richest region in oil and gas. The billions of dollars the U.S. government spends securing these profits benefits only the super-rich owners of the energy corporations, not the workers in the U.S., Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Convoys stuck in Pakistan

Pakistan, Afghanistan’s neighbor to the southeast, has also become embroiled in this war. The Pentagon uses it as a resupply route for the great quantities of ammunition and provisions its troops need to keep the war going. Large convoys of trucks move cargo offloaded at Pakistani ports north to the border and then through the Khyber Pass to U.S.-NATO bases in Afghanistan.

These convoys were sitting ducks in the first week of October. The Pakistani government closed several border crossings into Afghanistan and the trucks were lined up for miles. They were attacked by insurgents and by bandits. Fuel trucks blew up in spectacular explosions as their drivers scattered for cover.

Why did the Pakistani government defy the U.S. by closing the border? It has gone along with most of the Pentagon’s demands. Pilotless U.S. drones have sent missiles crashing into Pakistani villages where the Pentagon suspected there was sympathy for Islamic resistance groups. This has been going on for a long time.

But the last straw came when U.S.-NATO helicopters actually attacked two Pakistani border posts, killing several border guards. Pakistan said the attacks were “intolerable” and retaliated on Sept. 30, closing the border crossing points.

Longest war in U.S. history

When the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan in 2001, it said it was going after a relatively small insurgent group led by Osama bin Laden, which it claimed was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The people of the United States were assured that this was going to be a surgical operation and would soon be over.

After eight years of Bush, the electorate voted for Barack Obama in 2008, believing that the new Democratic administration would quickly start the process of withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, there has been a “surge” in troops sent to Afghanistan.

The Afghan conflict is now the longest war the U.S. has fought in its entire history. Government and military officials say that any drawdown of troop strength will depend on “security conditions” in the different areas of Afghanistan.

This is a prescription for endless war, as the grip of both the Karzai regime and the invasion forces continues to weaken and the popularity of the resistance gains.

The only thing that can break this deadlock and bring the troops home is when the people in the U.S., who are suffering from a severe economic crisis and have shown in many polls that they are against these costly wars, take their demands to the streets instead of relying on the ballot box to bring peace.