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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Why doesn't Obama consider Diplomacy in Afghanistan?

This Tuesday Obama is supposed to announce his decision on troops and Afghanistan (the last guess I heard was 30,000 as opposed to the 40,000 the General asked for) and we will once again see our middle-east  battle commitment increase.

But is there a reason why the President didn’t turn the problem over to the State Department for a negotiated solution? Sherwood Ross in OpEdNews writes an extended article on why diplomacy wasn’t even considered. here’s a clip:

Afghanistan is valued today for the oil and gas pipelines the U.S. wants built there, no matter what other reasons Obama gives.

“In the late 1990s,” writes Washington reporter Bill Blum in his “Anti-Empire Report,” “the American oil company, Unocal, met with Taliban officials in Texas to discuss the pipelines” Unocal’s talks with the Taliban, conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration”continued as late as 2000 or 2001.” Adds Paul Craig Roberts writing in the December Rock Creek Free Press of Washington, D.C., the U.S./U.K. military aggression in Afghanistan “had to do with the natural gas deposits in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.” Roberts explains:

“The Americans wanted a pipeline that bypassed Russia and Iran and went through Afghanistan. To insure this, an invasion was necessary. The idiot American public could be told that the invasion was necessary because of 9/11 and to save them from ‘terrorism,’ and the utter fools would believe the lie.” The war, Roberts continued, is to guard the pipeline route. “It’s about money, it’s about energy, it’s not about democracy.”

So, if this is indeed  WHY we are there, how long can it last?

In January, a Defense Department report stated “building a fully competent and independent Afghan government will be a lengthy process that will last, at a minimum, decades,” The Nation magazine’s Jonathan Schell reports (Nov. 30). So far from defeating the Taliban are Allied forces that US military contractors “are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes,” Aram Roston writes in the same issue. “It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting.” In fact, an American executive there told Roston, “The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.”

It is Corporate concern which controls the decision making here…and, of course, we travel farther into deficit spending by pouring money into Afghanistan (and Iraq, which we are NOT remotely out of, yet.)

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has stated that it costs about a million dollars per year for each deployed US soldier, beyond the expense of training and maintaining a security force.  You can do the math: there are 180,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq right now…  add another 30,000 and we are spending $210,000,000,000.00 per year (that’s just on those troops active in the mid-east… we are also paying for the pentagon, all our worldwide bases, all the equipment we use worldwide, health recovery by the veteran’s Administration for soldiers who come back wounded… not to mention the costs for those who come back dead.) The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost 768.8 billion dollars so far and by the end of this fiscal year, the price tag will approach one trillion dollars.

It’s not even a number that most people can even conceive of!

Ross goes on to say that…

“…in all the recent debate in Washington, who has heard a word of concern for the impact of escalation on the suffering civilian populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan?

” ‘Our military demands ever more troops,’ Veterans Speaker Alliance’s founder Paul Cox said at an Oakland, Calif., rally, last week with Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the initial Afghan aggression. ‘Meanwhile, our economy is in the toilet, health care costs are out of control, and we can’t afford to educate our children. But somehow, there’s always money for war.’ Rep. Lee called for putting ‘this stage of American history-a stage characterized by open-ended war-to a close.’ “

Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and a few others represent a very tiny segment of The Congress, both Representatives and Senators,  who would push to get us out of the middle east as warriors.

Unless America rises up to support such a massive withdrawal, this will never even be a remote possibility. Ongoing warfare is our Heritage and our Curse.

Under The LobsterScope


  1. There is the rub.

    Who are we to negotiate with?

    The situation in Afghanistan is fluid, and disparate. There is NO central group to negotiate with. There are tribes who in unrest with one another. With the government. With the US. Within their own villages even.

    To be quite honest, while Mr. Ross may see Afghanistan as an exercise in Imperialism, I fear that he underestimates the situation in Afghanistan, and greatly.

    Our extended apathy in helping the Afghanis secure a real and strong central government after the fall of the Taliban allowed a tumult of varied interests who have been on a roiling simmer for a good many years to boil over in an attempt to consolidate their own interests. And that is part of the problem. Too many interests, and not enough central government that is in even the remotest sense able to quell those varied interests from going at one another.

    The Taliban, for all its faults, had some measure of control, and even then, in the hills, it was mere rumor of government. In many ways, you could call it analogous to the remotest of the Appalachias’ communities at the turn of the last century. Places where no real government had been able to reach, or had interest in even going. The remoteness and ruggedness of the terrain, and the fiercely independent streak and insular nature of these tribes has resisted any sort of central authority since long before even the Soviet occupation.

    Like this conflict or no, we dismantled the government the Afghanis assembled after we abandoned them and the Mujahideen. And if you break a country, the modern wisdom is that you help them patch it back together–that, or you watch it patch itself back together again, and often in ways that are less than optimal, especially given the preponderance of warlords and bandits and local strongmen.

    We do need to approach the situation in Afghanistan in a variety of ways, and our diplomatic corps is working with more than just a military solution–with economic incentives, with technology and agricultural assistance to help Afghanis wean themselves off the poppy trade that has been many’s best source of income–and I strongly disagree with Mr. Ross in his analysis.  

  2. When Ross starts with phrases like:

    the initial Afghan aggression.

    it brings to mind other phrases like “the Zionist occupation”, and we know how well those sorts of conversations go.  Throw in “The idiot American public” line and all I can say is that Ross can start convincing me of his logic by getting down on his knees and kissing my ass.

    We had a discussion here just yesterday about the impact of the Unical pipeline on the decision making on Afghanistan, and I don’t think anyone is or was arguing that this explains our involvement in the country.  It isn’t in my opinion any more likely than the theory that the US government is in cahoots with the Mafia and unleashed “aggression” against Afghanistan simply to increase global heroin supply.

  3. creamer

    you start sounding like some conspiracy author trying to sell books. Foreign policy based on national energy or raw material needs might be part of the mix, but the cost of this war makes that improbable.

    The anti war left seems to have forgotten how much emphasis Obama put on this region in his campaign, either they were not listening or they thought they could change his mind. Through theese deliberations you might conclude that he considered drawing down imediately and rejected that option.

    Just because you post to the Huffington Post or put your name on it doesn’t make you a foreign policy expert. This is truly not the time for the left to stage a revolt and try to force our Presidents hand.

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