“I think we are on track!” in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cheerily told reporters on Sept. 21. But the very same article opines: “But after a week in which most joint operations between coalition and Afghan troops were suspended, U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is anything but ‘on track.’ In fact, it may be more imperiled than at any other time in Mr. Obama’s presidency.” (Washington Post, Sept. 22).
John Gresham of the pro-militarist Defense Media Network reported in mid-September about the extent of the damage inflicted upon U.S. aircraft at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan, when 15 resistance fighters wearing U.S. military uniforms carried out a three-hour battle on Sept. 14:
“Eight irreplaceable aircraft (the AV-8B has been out of production since 1999) have been destroyed or put out of action — approximately 7 percent of the total flying USMC Harrier fleet,” and these planes were specially equipped and effective. “A Harrier squadron commander is dead, along with another Marine. Another nine personnel have been wounded, and the nearby Marines at Camp Freedom are now without effective fixed-wing air support.”
U.S./NATO kills civilians, suspends joint actions
Two days later, on Sept. 16, NATO jets “mistakenly” killed eight women and children gathering firewood, as well as wounding seven more. That and the revelation of the anti-Islam video have caused mass demonstrations in Afghanistan.
That same day, four U.S. troops were killed by Afghan police in another so-called “green on blue” attack, where Afghan soldiers and police have killed some 51 NATO troops, most of them U.S. soldiers.
And because the Camp Bastion fighters were wearing U.S. uniforms, because they knew just how to penetrate base security, because they brought the weapons necessary to inflict maximum damage and because they obviously knew the location of their targets, it seems apparent that they had received assistance from within the Afghan military.
On Sept. 18, NATO command announced that it was suspending all joint operations with the Afghan military and police. This was a dramatic shift in strategy. Up to 80 percent of combat operations in recent months were joint operations between Western and Afghan forces (Washington Post, Sept. 22).
This took the junior partners of the NATO occupation by surprise: “The decision, which was announced in Washington, took the UK government by surprise, coming just a day after the defense secretary, Philip Hammond, spoke in defense of NATO’s continued work with Afghan troops in parliament. Whitehall sources said British commanders were unaware the announcement was going to be made.” (The Guardian, Sept. 18).
Clearly the resistance to the 11-year occupation by the Afghan people has grown so much both in strength and organization that Washington’s efforts to destroy it and leave behind a “friendly ally” is coming apart at the seams. But the price in money and blood to carry on this increasingly hopeless task is not being paid by the billionaires or their politician hacks, the only ones who benefit from this war against a poor country. Instead, it is one more burden that the workers here bear as long as this occupation is allowed to continue.