Saturday, June 13, 2009

Obama’s Afghan War The New Metric of Civilian Casualties

by Prof Marc W. Herold ... Conclusion Having inherited a war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration nonetheless had choices. Some for instance like Gilles Dorronsoro argued that the very presence of foreign forces was inflaming the conflict and that what was called-for was a scaling-down of military action, focusing and exiting.[xxx] Instead, the Obama team which includes many members of the former Bush regime, decided to fight the "good war" in Afghanistan. During the past five months, the conflict has further escalated and promises to do more of the same. By the announced metric of protecting Afghan civilians, the Obama team has failed miserably even more so than its predecessor. What is different is the public relations which began with in the words of Michael Stewart "Operation Redefinition." One can redefine as much as one wants, the reality for Afghans pursuing their daily lives has deteriorated as documented herein. Since taking office and assuming the position of Commander-in-Chief, Obama and his NATO allies have killed at the very least some 338-419 Afghan civilians (compared to 278-343 under the Bush clock during the first six months of 2008). In addition, deadly CIA drone attacks within Pakistan have continued since Obama took command. Of the sixty cross-border U.S drone attacks upon Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, Only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.[xxxi] Simple arithmetic shows that in some eighty days in office, Obama has managed to raise the monthly average kill rate in drone attacks achieved by Bush from 32 during 2008 to 45 per month (for February-March 2009). The Obama team might well head the words of the Pakistani intelligence agent, ‘Colonel Iman,’ who after training at Fort Bragg’s Special Forces base, oversaw the training camps for jihadis (including Mullah Omar) during the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Iman told Christina Lamb (another fine independent British journalist), that he left Afghanistan in late 2001 and claims he has not returned, but "I can go any time on my old routes, even the Americans cannot stop me, but there is no need," he said. "I have friends roaming all over there. At times they give me a call, they like to hear my voice. I’m quite happy with the current situation because the Americans are trapped there. The Taliban will not win but in the end the enemy will tire, like the Russians."[xxxii] The ex-CIA station chief in Kabul, Graham Fuller is emphatic that Obama’s policies are aggravating the situation in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), Only the withdrawal of American and NATO boots on the ground will begin to allow the process of near-frantic emotions to subside within Pakistan, and for the region to start to cool down. Pakistan is experienced in governance and is well able to deal with its own Islamists and tribalists under normal circumstances; until recently, Pakistani Islamists had one of the lowest rates of electoral success in the Muslim world. But U.S. policies have now driven local nationalism, xenophobia and Islamism to combined fever pitch. As Washington demands that Pakistan redeem failed American policies in Afghanistan, Islamabad can no longer manage its domestic crisis.[xxxiii]

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