Historical Deceptions: War in Afghanistan

From the 20 March 2004 World Affairs Brief:



There is never going to be a clean solution to the problems in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has few natural resources and has for centuries been a cross border no-mans land of smugglers, dope peddlers and tradesmen. The US has no business trying to remake this country after the Western image of a manipulated democracy. Afghanistans people, with their multiple dialects and multiple ethnic allegiances, have little potential to become unified. Because of all the disparate groups and tribal warfare, its nearly impossible to identify friend from foe. To make matters worse, Afghan males have learned to play multiple roles, shifting their allegiance according to whoever is winning. According to Rear Admiral John Dickson Stufflebeem, the US Navy Deputy Director for Operations, It's a shadow war. These are shadowy people who don't want to be found....They've got multiple identity cards. They've got multiple passports. They've got multiple names and certainly multiple stories.

It is little wonder that the US has bombed both friendly and enemy groups throughout the war, and civilians as well. Simply put, this is not a war that lends itself to fighting from the safety of the air alone. Rather than take the time to establish reliable and long-term sources on the ground (which the US could have started doing long ago, seeing as they have been planning this invasion with the Russians since the year 2000), US military officials continue to direct long distance attacks from the safety of their arm chairs in Washington. Even more dangerous is the fact that the CIA operates completely independently of the US Army. The area commander Gen. Tommy Franks reportedly has no authority to veto the CIA's military operations, although he is consulted as a courtesy.

Nothing is more symbolic of this technological arrogance that the latest incident of the CIA using a remote controlled Predator Aircraft to launch a hellfire missile at a lonely APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) traveling along a mountain highway, heaped with men dressed in various native outfits. How could the CIA possibly tell from their video monitors in Washington whether these people were friendly or enemy fighters or even some of the thousands of Afghans who have taken to the scavenging for military gear to sell on the black market? All of the various tribal units on both sides of the conflict use the same kind of Russian equipment. The Washington Post quoted residents of the area saying that three innocent civilians had been killed in the missile strike. In a separate incident, there are charges being investigated of a US helicopter gunship machine gunning men women and children fleeing a house under attack. There are many more horror stories, but it takes time for the word to leak past the suppression of US censorship and denials.

Finally, one of the biggest anomalies of the entire war on terrorism in Afghanistan is the utter lack of any significant numbers of Arab detainees by the Americans. There were numerous reports by the US government, prior to the invasion, that Osama bin Laden had employed and was in the process of training thousands of Arab mercenaries and terrorists in the camps, and that the country was being controlled by these henchmen of bin Laden. Either this was mere propaganda or these Arabs have all been allowed to escape--for only a handful have been rounded up. I suspect they were allowed to escape, along with bin Laden. Nothing would take the air out of this phony war faster than bin Ladens capture or death.