UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 22, 2009

SIX WAYS WE'RE EXPANDING THE AF-PAK WAR

Tom Engelhardt, Anti-War - The early moves of the Obama administration, when combined with the momentum of the situation it inherited, have resulted in the expansion of the Af-Pak War in at least six areas, which only presage further expansion in the months to come:

1. Expanding Troop Commitment: In February, President Obama ordered a "surge" of 17,000 extra troops into Afghanistan, increasing U.S. forces there by 50 percent. (Then-commander McKiernan had called for 30,000 new troops.) In March, another 4,000 American military advisers and trainers were promised. . .

2. Expanding CIA Drone War: The CIA is running an escalating secret drone war in the skies over the Pakistani borderlands with Afghanistan, a "targeted" assassination program of the sort that McChrystal specialized in while in Iraq. Since last September, more than three dozen drone attacks -the Los Angeles Times put the number at 55 - have been launched, as opposed to 10 in 2006-2007. . .

3. Expanding Air Force Drone War: The U.S. Air Force now seems to be getting into the act as well. There are conflicting reports about just what it is trying to do, but it has evidently brought its own set of Predator and Reaper drones into play in Pakistani skies, in conjunction, it seems, with a somewhat reluctant Pakistani military. Though the outlines of this program are foggy at best, this nonetheless represents an expansion of the war.

4. Expanding Political Interference: Quite a different kind of escalation is also underway. Washington is evidently attempting to insert yet another figure from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era into the Afghan mix. Not so long ago, Zalmay Khalilzad, the neocon former American viceroy in Kabul and then Baghdad, was considering making a run for the Afghan presidency against Hamid Karzai, the leader the Obama administration is desperate to ditch. In March, reports - hotly denied by Holbrooke and others - broke in the British press of a U.S./British plan to "undermine President Karzai of Afghanistan by forcing him to install a powerful chief of staff to run the government." Karzai, so the rumors went, would be reduced to "figurehead" status, while a "chief executive with prime ministerial-style powers" not provided for in the Afghan constitution would essentially take over the running of the weak and corrupt government.

This week, Helene Cooper reported on the front page of the New York Times that Khalilzad would be that man. He "could assume a powerful, unelected position inside the Afghan government under a plan he is discussing with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, according to senior American and Afghan officials." He would then be "the chief executive officer of Afghanistan.". . .

5. Expanding War in Pakistan: Meanwhile, in Pakistan itself, mayhem has ensued, again in significant part thanks to Washington, whose disastrous Afghan war and escalating drone attacks have helped to destabilize the Pashtun regions of the country. Now, the Pakistani military pushed and threatened by Washington (with the loss of military aid, among other things) - has smashed full force into the districts of Buner and Swat, which had, in recent months, been largely taken over by the Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas we call “the Pakistani Taliban.”. . .

With nearly 1.5 million Pakistanis turned into refugees just since the latest offensive began, UN officials are suggesting that this could be the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Talk about the destabilization of a country. . .

6. Expanding Civilian Death Toll and Blowback: As Taliban attacks in Afghanistan rise and that loose guerrilla force (more like a coalition of various Islamist, tribal, warlord, and criminal groups) spreads into new areas, the American air war in Afghanistan continues to take a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, while manufacturing ever more enemies as well as deep resentment and protest in that country. . .

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if Karzai is widely derided as the "Mayor of Kabul," would that make Khalilzad the City Manager?

May 22, 2009 2:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home