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Commentary Last Updated: Jun 4th, 2008 - 01:16:33

Afghanistan: Propping up an already failed state
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 4, 2008, 00:20

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Europeans live in a fantasy world if they think that this fall's election in the US will change anything with respect to America�s military demands on NATO.

Joseph Lieberman, the pro-war US senator, and chief advocate in Congress for Israel�s hawkish government, said as much a couple of months ago as he stressed the cross-party American position on Afghanistan. Europe, said the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, can be assured that either of the two Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, have the same exact policy on Afghanistan. Of course, there is nothing we need to say about Bush-Twin and presumptive Republican presidential candidate -- short on brains and long on warmongering -- John McCain.

American and NATO troops trying to keep Karzai�s regime alive in Afghanistan probably number four or five times the number of fighting Taliban, although foreign fighters from Chechnya, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and several other Arab-Muslim countries, add to the professional insurgency. And pro-Taliban part-timers, outraged by the helter-skelter attitude on Afghan lives by foreigners -- such as the Shinwar Massacre committed by Americans in the Nangrahar province -- are starting to make a measurable difference in the overall effectiveness of the insurgency.

Three weeks ago, Mingo, my European journalist friend, who had returned to Afghan lands in March after an absence of over two years, gave me a debriefing on how things measure up after this period. �Ben,� he said, �America�s puppet, Karzai, continues to be for all practical purposes the mayor of Kabul, and not the president of Afghanistan, exercising influence on his countrymen solely on the distribution of foreign aid to the provinces. The perception by Afghans, whether they live in Herat, Kabul or Kandahar, is that all these billions in purported aid have not improved their lives a bit, and most of them -- other than those benefiting from the poppy trade -- have a clear and nostalgic view of the Taliban regime.�

Mingo was in Kabul last month, and happened to be an eyewitness to the attempt on Karzai�s life. His local host made what appeared to be a prophetic statement: Afghans will likely be celebrating within four or five years, perhaps sooner, the liberation of the country from the US and its misnamed �coalition.� The celebration will replace, according to his host, the current April 27 military parade, where the attempt on Karzai�s life occurred; now the most important national holiday, it commemorates the nation�s liberation from Soviet occupation.

Last February, during the 44th Munich Security Conference, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, America�s mild-mannered, but just as hawkish as his predecessor Pentagon warlords, gave to the NATO members, in spades, the unmasked and bitter-tasting truth, demanding a �fair distribution of the burden� when it came to the propping up of military defenses in Afghanistan, referring to the resistance by some NATO members, Germany for one, to bear a proportionate share of the fighting and dying. America (or rather its ruling elite) just won�t tolerate a �two-tiered alliance.� Poor Jung, Germany�s Gates� counterpart; he quickly learned that it was of little value that Germany had warned the US six years before of military adventurism. Yep, we all remember how the �criminal wit� of then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was utilized to denigrate �old Europe.�

Since surrendering to American demands is not such a popular thing in Germany, but since such surrendering is a must, confidential discussions and negotiations must be done sub Rosa . . . and according to Der Spiegel Germany has agreed to increase its troop presence from 3,500 to 4,500. Not that it will make a scintilla of difference according to Mingo; nor will the additional British help.

A junior British officer summed up to my friend the ideological consensus of the NATO troops serving in Afghanistan: �The Yanks indiscriminately start all these wars, and then the bloody bastards expect us to help, always calling on that card without expiration that calls for a pay-back on the help they offered in WW�s I and II. One would think that that kind of rationalization would be stale by now. As it is the idiocy spouted by Washington that the American �war against terror� is helping to keep Europe safe, as evidenced by the 2004 and 2005 bombings of Madrid and London . . . in both cases retribution for US war policies in Afghanistan and Iraq.�

And here we were on Memorial Day with the biggest Hun of them all, George W. Bush, telling the country that �America�s freedoms come at great cost.� But propping up Afghanistan, or Iraq, has nothing to do with our freedoms . . . or with theirs.

� 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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