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Michael Prysner

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

January 18th, 2011 6:08 PM

U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is failing

Before wrapping up the deadliest year of the entire war, with 499 U.S. fatalities, Pres. Obama visited Afghanistan in early December and spoke to a room filled with members of the 101st Airborne Division, to tell them about the “progress” they were making in the war.

“Progress” for the Obama administration probably did not translate into “progress” for the soldiers in the 101st Airborne. They have taken the heaviest casualties of any unit since arriving in Afghanistan. Prior to Obama’s visit, they had just endured a grueling month of combat; of the 53 U.S. soldiers and Marines killed throughout Afghanistan in November, a stunning 25 came from that one unit. The photo-op for the president was a tragic irony for the soldiers he addressed.

He told them, and the whole world watching, “Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under Taliban control.” With the nine-year quagmire growing more unpopular by the day, and a December CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey showing that 63 percent of people in the United States oppose the war, he had to make it seem as if there were some purpose for the increased bloodshed.

The problem with his speech in Afghanistan, and his claim that the vast troop escalation has led to “fewer areas under Taliban control,” is that he was lying.

Confidential U.N. security maps, revealed at the end of December, completely contradict Obama’s claim of gains made against the Taliban and the Afghan resistance. In fact, they display quite the opposite.

Resistance gains ground in the north and the east, the south still firmly anti-occupation

According to the maps, resistance forces are launching attacks in areas where they have never been active before, controlling new territory. In southern Afghanistan, the security situation remains unchanged—“very high risk”—despite brass claims of “reversing the momentum” of the resistance. Attacks on U.S. forces is a constant, daily occurance.

While the U.S./NATO force has focused on laying waste to southern Afghanistan, resistance forces have been able to operate in new areas in the rest of the country. The U.N. security maps also show that in the north and the east, resistance forces have made clear gains in 16 districts.

In eastern Afghanistan, the people overwhelmingly reject the puppet Afghan government and support attacks on foreign troops. Capt. Robert Kellum, currently serving in the region, told the New York Times: “There’s definitely a fight here. It’s a definite safe haven for the Taliban.” (Dec. 26, 2010)

In northern Afghanistan, although the number of U.S. and German troops has more than doubled, the resistance forces have greatly expanded their reach. An anonymous Western diplomat told the New York Times, “The situation in the north has become much more difficult, a much stronger insurgency than we had before.” (Dec. 15, 2010)

Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital and the hub of the U.S./NATO command and the puppet Afghan government, is supposed to be the one place in the entire country where the U.S. can boast of calm and stability. The Afghan government even ordered barricades and blast-protection walls to be torn down to show how safe the city is.

Yet in December, resistance forces launched a wave of sophisticated and devastating attacks on Afghan government forces in the capital. A Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, indicated that this was the beginning of a new focus on the supposed safe haven of U.S. forces and comprador Afghan politicians: “We are paying more attention to Kabul … [it] is most important for us as it’s the heart of the government and foreign troops.” He also described their ability to operate there: “We can easily hit our targets in Kabul.” (Wall Street Journal Dec. 21, 2010)

‘Here we lose men every day’

For U.S. troops in Afghanistan, there is nothing but constant, heavy combat, with no end in sight. At the heart of the fighting in Helmand province, where the Obama administration would like to claim “progress,” a U.S. military commander anonymously revealed the reality of combat there: “A ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon which never ends.”

“The only difference,” he said, “is the cartoon does not claim lives, but here we lose men every day.” (, Jan 3)

The war in Afghanistan cannot be won, and the generals and politicians know it. But they refuse to leave, because the region is far too valuable strategically for U.S. imperialism, because there is far too much profit to made in the region, and because the U.S. Empire cannot let the world know that it can be defeated at the hands of the second poorest population on the planet.

Thus they are doing the only thing they know how to do—throw more and more bodies into the bloody debacle, mercilessly obliterate thousands of homes and escalate the killing to new heights. This is the same strategy the U.S. government employed when they knew the Vietnam War could not be won: An additional 30,000 U.S. troops and millions of Vietnamese died after the U.S. knew that a withdrawal was inevitable.

In a move of desperation, the Obama administration just ordered an additional 1,400 Marines to immediately deploy to the bloodiest region in Afghanistan, with signs that 3,000 troops could be added. (, Jan. 6)

With the war growing more unpopular by the day, to placate public opinion, the Obama administration initially promised that the U.S. withdrawal would begin in July 2011. That date was quickly abandoned and pushed back to 2014. Vice Pres. Joseph Biden just stated on the administration’s most recent trip to Afghanistan that if “the Afghan people want it, we won't leave in 2014,” indicating that the U.S. plans to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. (Washington Post, Jan. 14)

By “Afghan people,” Biden means the corrupt Afghan puppet government that only exists because it is propped up by, and follows the dictates of, Washington. The vast majority of Afghans have shown that not only do they want the U.S./NATO forces out of Afghanistan, but they will fight endlessly to drive them out.

The Afghan people have shown that they will not allow U.S. capital to conquer their country. The people of the United States have turned against the war. U.S. troops and Afghan civilians continue to die, and every day brings more layoffs, budget cuts, foreclosures and tuition hikes here at home. It is up to working people in the U.S. to fight to force this multi-trillion-dollar atrocity to end.


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