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Sunday, 28 December 2008

Funding, Arming, and Training Iraqis and Afghans to Fight Their Fellow Countrymen

A strategy which had the U.S. military effectively arming all sides of the civil violence in Iraq is emerging as the strategy of choice in Afghanistan for the military leadership Barack Obama has chosen to carry-over from the Bush administration.

The proxy war that the military wants Afghans and Iraqis to fight for them is a reflection of their utter failure to produce any of the political reconciliation and progress they promised would occur behind the escalation of force they prosecuted in Iraq and the escalation they're planning for the cities surrounding their nation-building prize in Kabul.

Faced with the reality of a resurgent 'enemy' in Afghanistan, the military is abandoning the Iraqi communities they occupied in increased numbers as part of the 'surge' of force; not out of any success in reconciling the opposition with the protected regime as they promised in their justifications, but in a cynical pretense of success as they return control to the Iraqis over the neighborhoods the U.S. had opportunistically seized and occupied.

It's clear that average Iraqis don't have the same stake in the continuing presence of American troops that the U.S.-protected Iraqi regime takes advantage of. For Iraqis, there isn't any clear defense of their lives and livelihoods like the protection the government enjoys inside the gates of the U.S. military 'Green Zone.'

from UPI:

-- U.S. troops must remain in Iraq until Iraqi forces are fully capable to replace foreign forces, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi said Wednesday.

Hashimi, speaking with reporters before meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, said the recently signed security agreement outlining terms of U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq counters an anticipated security void if U.S. troops had ended their mission soon, the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

Iraq didn't have a choice but to accept the agreement, Hashimi said, adding that government officials hoped Iraqi forces would step up their capabilities before the U.S. pullout in three years.

What the Iraqi Vice-President is seeking is a force which would protect them in their assumed power and authority against whatever element of the Iraqi population chose to oppose their propped-up rule. Coupled with Iraqis actively being arrested and indefinitely detained without trial or charges by their occupiers, the arbitrary exercise of force by the U.S. military against the Iraqi population makes their presence more of a threat to average Iraqis than the protection the military pretends.

Despite that, the military is convinced that their ability to bribe, cow, and intimidate Iraqis represents progress that could be replicated in Afghanistan as they seek to protect their increasingly beleaguered autocrat in Kabul they helped install behind the sacrifices of our nation's defenders. Afghan militias - mainly comprised of hungry, desperate young men - are to be funded and, presumably, armed against their fellow Afghans to help the U.S.-dominated NATO forces preserve their nation-building gains.

from USNews:

The new program in Afghanistan, tentatively dubbed the Afghanistan Social Outreach Program, has a number of backers. Two weeks ago, it was approved by President Karzai, with the endorsement of the ministers of interior and defense. "There is common agreement among the Afghan leadership, people, and international forces that there needs to be a bottom-up approach to security and progress in this country, as well as a top-down central government approach," says Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

As in Iraq, the Afghan forces would be on the U.S. payroll, which officials hope will also entice some former insurgents to work with NATO forces. "We bring money so we can hire young men to be the first line of defense" in small towns throughout Afghanistan, says a senior U.S. military official in Kabul. "We wouldn't be surprised if some of them used to be insurgents. We figure this is a way to crack the nut."

The 'nut' that the U.S. is working to crack used to center on directly and forcibly pursuing the original 9-11 suspects who are far from Kabul and nowhere near the communities that the military is set to occupy and hold with the assistance of their 'social' militias. In fact, the nut of the entire 7-year episode of terror and retaliation centers on the very presence and operation of the U.S. military in these Middle East nations.

It's a mistake, however, for the U.S. to assume that funding, training, and arming elements of the occupied populations against each other is a satisfactory alternative to the imposition of our forces on their soil. It doesn't take a history scholar to trace the practice and result of arming insurgents against their countrymen and women and expecting a peaceful or democratic outcome. Look to result of the Kennedy administration's initial deployment of 'advisers' to Vietnam. Look to the result of the funding of Afghan insurgents against the Soviets when bin-Laden himself was a uniformed proxy for U.S. military meddling there.

More importantly, consider that the new president has forsworn against the Iraq-type militarism that his future military leadership is on the verge of duplicating in Afghanistan. Is funding and encouraging these young men to take up arms against their fellow citizens on behalf of U.S. interests really the best course out of these destructive, cynical occupations?

An affirmative answer to that question from the new administration will presage a wider 'war' on those who would violently resist U.S. expansionism and imperialism within their sovereign borders. Indeed, the defense chief Mr. Obama has chosen to resolve these occupations he's inherited is actively promoting that continuing (training, defending) role for hundreds of thousands of our military forces, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Warning of a "long fight" in Afghanistan, Gates announced his intention to escalate the U.S. military commitment there, saying in early December, “I do believe there will be a requirement for a sustained commitment here for a protracted period of time. How many years that is, and how many troops that is, nobody knows at this point.”

Certainly he's correct, in that 'nobody knows' what the effect and result will be, but, I'll wager history can make a pretty good guess.

Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price