Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Michael Prysner

Michael Prysner is a veteran of the war in Iraq and an anti-war activist

October 8th, 2012 12:40 AM

Afghanistan: Life and limb for a slow-motion retreat

Politicians, generals sacrifice lives of soldiers and Afghans to save face

Michael Prysner is one of several veterans with the Our Lives Our Rights campaign deploying to Fort Lewis to organize soldiers against their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

“We will train the Afghan forces. And then, our troops will come home.”

This was the fundamental assertion of President Obama’s major Afghanistan speech in December 2009 at West Point. I remember watching the address with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and with military family members who had sons and daughters overseas facing deployment or battling the effects of war.

The president had a hard sell. It was nearly a decade into an unpopular war—with no clearly defined purpose, atrocities against civilians and popular resistance growing among the Afghan people. Budget cuts from the banks’ crisis were making war funds ever more unavailable to people’s needs. The reactions in that room when President Obama told those families their loved ones would go to Afghanistan for at least the next two years showed how deeply the desire for the war to end is felt—the choking back of tears; mothers burying their faces; families clinging together as if to brace themselves against a tidal wave.

But some clung to a little piece of hope; two years was a long time—but the end was in sight. Service members and their families were given the assurance that if they just pushed through a couple more years, the past decade of constant deployments would be over and their lives could be normal.

A lost war, a pointless mission

The war against the Afghan people—who never had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks—should never have started to begin with. Like in Iraq, the politicians saw Afghanistan as a new base of geostrategic and economic interests. But their arrogant expectation that the region could be easily dominated turned out to be a fantasy.

Recent developments have exposed the pillars of the U.S. strategy for “victory” in Afghanistan to be complete failures.

Total withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan was never really on the table. This lie was exposed when President Obama confused many of the military families who accepted his 2014 withdrawal date by introducing and signing an agreement that secured U.S. troops on the ground until 2024.

But the strategy of the Obama administration was, as they said, to vastly reduce the number of U.S. troops in the country (to stay in fortified U.S. bases while Afghan counterparts took over security in villages and the countryside.) This would be done, as President Obama outlined in his December 2009 speech, by tripling the size of the U.S. occupation to decisively beat back the resistance movement and lure them the Taliban into a peace deal, while simultaneously training Afghan army and police forces to take the place of U.S. troops on the front lines.

Today, that strategy has completely gone up in smoke.

Not only have the U.S./NATO occupation forces failed to adequately train Afghan forces to replace them—those Afghan forces are now the number one killer of U.S./NATO soldiers. Even the highest-ranking generals in the most fortified bunkers in the most secure bases must always wear armor and keep a loaded weapon—not exactly the kind of “strategic partnership” the generals had in mind.

The “insider killings” expose the hopelessness of convincing the Afghan population to pledge allegiance to the invader. And the generals have no idea what to do about it. So what they do, as Lt. Col. Daniel Davis exposed in his official assessment of the war, is simply lie about the progress and ability of the Afghan forces.  The Afghan people, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.

Obama’s “troop surge,” which began in 2009, was supposed to be “the beginning of the end” of the war. By the end of the offensive, the resistance forces were expected to be battered and weary, and eager to accept a peace agreement with the U.S./NATO occupation. This past September, that offensive ended.

The result of the troop surge is encompassed in the Sept. 14 attack on Camp Bastion, one of Afghanistan’s biggest and most fortified bases, home to Britain's Prince Harry himself. Resistance fighters launched an offensive that breached the walls of the base—the complexity of which cannot be overstated. Fighters ran around freely inside the base for over four and a half hours, killing Marines and destroying multimillion-dollar Harrier jets, refueling stations and more. Spectacular attacks like this are carried out with relative ease by resistance forces anywhere in the country they choose. Resistance forces control most of the country. The momentum of the armed insurgency only picked up steam through the surge, and is far stronger today than ever before.

And now, as The New York Times reported on Oct. 2, U.S. officials have abandoned all hope of a peace agreement with the Taliban—their only chance at a “victory.”

Paving the retreat with bodies and limbs

The politicians and generals now know (and admit behind closed doors) that the war is a lost cause, with no hope of achieving their military objectives. If a military retreat is inevitable, why are they not doing it now? Why are soldiers and Marines still being sent to lose legs on patrols in mine-infested fields that have no strategic importance?

 Instead of withdrawing immediately, which the vast majority of people in the United States and Afghanistan favor, the political and military establishment prefer a slow, dragged-out withdrawal—a “slow-motion retreat” —just to hide the reality that they have lost the war. None of them want to deal with the embarrassment.

By their calculations, they can manage this level of U.S. and civilian casualties. By their logic, a monthly toll of 40 or 50 dead U.S. troops and a couple of scandals over “collateral damage” can continue without much domestic backlash. So they sit back, assure the media that all is well, and continue sending wave after wave of young service members on pointless, bloody missions while their careers are protected.

In this multi-year “withdrawal,” countless more U.S. soldiers and innocent Afghans will die or suffer life-changing wounds for nothing.

The patrols through Afghanistan’s farmland, countryside and villages—taking lives and limbs every day—have no purpose other than to cover up the defeat the U.S. military has been dealt so privileged politicians can save face. 

Fighting back from within the war machine

This strategy of paving the deliberately slow U.S. exit with the blood of U.S. troops and Afghans is only being maintained because it is deemed manageable on the domestic front.

While the Pentagon’s failure is exposed, a movement that fights against the war has the potential to turn the tide.

The U.S. war machine’s defeat in Afghanistan can be one that ends with a years-long trail of bodies, or it can be the crisis that is seized upon by the people that forces the war to end immediately.

That’s why I, along with other veterans of the so-called “War on Terror”, am deploying to Fort Lewis to talk to soldiers scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan about their right to resist. Service members, organizing together against the callous orders of the generals and politicians, can end the war themselves. Click here to learn more about this bold action.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? Ray McGovern Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles