Saturday, 10 September 2011


On 7 October 2001, just about a month after the horrific 9/11 tragedy, the US invaded Afghanistan in order to pursue 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorists at their home base and eliminate the threat. "Operation Enduring Freedom" was backed by NATO allies. During the war, the country has lapsed into lawlessness, a sharp rise in opium/heroin trade, endemic corruption on the part of the Hamid Karzai government that invariably involves companies that the US contracts to do everything from water delivery to security, and a rise in rural support for the various rebel warlords and Taliban, perhaps out of sheer necessity to survive on the part of the villagers. What has not been achieved is the end of al-Qaeda and Taliban, and the restoration of a stable regime that can permit the US and NATO to exit and save their dignity in a war that NATO lost long ago.

Where are we today, on this anniversary of /9/11? One day after the US admitted that a BBC reporter was killed by US troops in Afghanistan, the US announced that there was an unconfirmed but credible terrorist threat that could take place in some major city like New York or Washington. These developments on the anniversary of 9/11, an event that evokes strong emotions on the part of the American people and an event that politicians can use to identify themselves as super-patriots.

The US has confirmed 1744 dead in war and 'related' operations, which makes more than 7,000 coalition troop casualties in the Iraq-Afghan operations. Some would argue that the soldiers gave their lives for their countries, others would argue that lives lost are not justified by the results of these wars or the broader and chronic 'war on terror'.

The US does not offer figures of casualties - combatants and civilians for the occupied countries, nor does it offer figures for injured, refugees, or relocated persons. The total cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is estimated at $1.3 trillion, of which about $450 billion is for Afghanistan. What is the result of the armed conflict and what will be the legacy of the US in Afghanistan once it leaves in a few years and hardline Muslim rule returns? Have the victims of 9/11 and the nation been best served by this war that has been universalized to appeal to the common person's fears? In reality, the US never had a chance in Afghanistan, so the question now is how did it manage the war and its costs?

The US economy has been struggling to emerge from recession, but one would never know it judging by the manner that the Pentagon has been wasting funds, especially in Afghanistan, a war that the US never had a chance of winning.An estimated $360 million is missing, gone to criminal types some with Taliban ties, and that is just what the Pentagon will admit to without wanting to embarrass itself or the companies with which it does business. War profiteering and corruption is to be expected and history shows that from the Civil War to the present, there are war profiteers waiting to make money at the expense of taxpayers.

Afghan companies and their vast network of subcontractors had with insurgents and criminals — groups military officials call "malign actors." How could the US-backed Hamid Karzai regime have so many corrupt officials and the US not be aware of it for the past ten years? How could the US permit corruption to waste hundreds of millions by the Pentagon's admission, in reality billions of dollars, without any accountability?
A senior U.S. military official in Kabul and the Brussels-based International Crisis Group agree that most of the money goes to profiteers, criminals and power brokers linked to the regime and to warlords and insurgents, all who help maintain chaos in the country and have a stake in a NATO presence.

The question is: what is the government doing about war profiteering and corruption, about the thriving opium trade, about the warlords, and about fostering security and stability in Afghanistan? We now know that the US subcontracted Afghan companies with criminal and Taliban connections, thus defeating the very purpose for which the US and NATO are conducting the war; by the way, why is the war still taking place, if it is not to get Bin Laden? If al-Qaeda is a decentralized group of people operating in various places around the world, can it be argued that the only way to defeat them is to invade every country where they operate, just as was the case with Afghanistan? How else can the US make sure that it can win the endless unwinnable war on terror?

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