A Decade of America Ravaging Afghanistan
by Stephen Lendman
US imperial wars treat civilians like combatants. To facilitate killing, soldiers are taught to dehumanize enemies, especially darker-skinned ones and Muslims.
Training involves instilling Groupthink hate. Individuality and free thought are erased. Recruits are intimidated to go along. When America goes to war, scoundrel journalism hardens support.
So do politicians, academics, religious and other leaders. They euphemize killing to justify lawlessness. At issue is conditioning public opinion to accept imperial policy like military trainers brainwash young recruits.
Massacring 16 Afghans, including nine children, reflects state-sponsored murder.
On March 11, eleven family members were shot at home. Their bodies were then set ablaze. Away at the time, only the father and one child survived. Multiple gunmen continued rampaging.
They killed another five civilians and wounded unknown numbers of others. Media scoundrels won’t say. Neither will Pentagon commanders and political Washington.
Enraged over 10 + years of war, occupation, death squad and drone killings, appalling depravation levels, and repeated Koran desecration incidents, Afghans want those responsible punished.
On March 14, thousands rallied in Jalalabad. Displaying banners denouncing imperial occupation, they chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Obama.”
Afghan senators walked out of session in protest. They began chanting anti-American slogans. Senate speaker Fazel Hadi Moslemyar said:
“We do not need foreign forces in Afghanistan. All the problems which we are facing are created by them. If they leave, the neighboring countries will leave us alone, and we can settle our country’s problems on our own.”
They also demanded soldiers responsible for the latest massacre be prosecuted locally. Names of those responsible are suppressed. A BBC report mentioned an unnamed Special Forces staff sergeant.
Others with him comprised one of many US death squads deployed to kill ruthlessly. Few incidents are headlined. This one circulated widely.
Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Special Mission Units (SMUs) perform counterinsurgency death squad duties.
Special Forces include Army Delta Force, Navy Seals, and Air Force 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Training produces cutthroat assassins.
No crime’s too great to commit. They specialize in war crime atrocities against anyone while they sleep. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women aren’t spared. Collateral victims are murdered like targeted ones.
Siasat Daily, a popular Indian newspaper, headlined, “20 US soldiers involved in Kandahar killings,” saying:
An Afghanistan fact-finding committee said up to 20 US soldiers were involved. The incident occurred in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district.
According to Seyed Ishaq Gilani head of mission, “after probing the circumstances and speaking to witnesses and locals, it was concluded that the crime could not have been committed by a single soldier.”
Gilani also said local religious and tribal leaders confirmed more than one. Pentagon officials claim otherwise. They blamed a lone sergeant. Throughout US wars, they whitewash repeated war crimes. So-called investigations absolve guilty parties. Occasionally, low-level troops are held culpable so responsible higher-ups get off scot-free. It’s standard US policy.
Relatives of dead villagers, other Afghans, and parliamentary members want responsible soldiers tried locally under Afghan law and punished. So far, the Pentagon only named a sole violator. Whisked out of the country to Kuwait, he’s now in detention awaiting disposition of his case.
According to Lt. General Curtis Scaparrotti, (Commander, International Security Assistance Force – ISAF – Joint Command and Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan):
“This is really about being able to ensure that we can execute this investigation and the judicial proceedings fairly and properly.”
America’s vocabulary excludes these ideals at home or abroad. Real ones reflect imperial dominance, favoritism shown Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites, as well as suppressing vital truths so people don’t know.
Visiting Kabul at the time, Defense Secretary Panetta told reporters that “(W)e we are proceeding with a full investigation here and that we will bring the individual involved to justice.”
Obama duplicitously said the incident “does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”
If America cared about Afghans, it wouldn’t have bombed, invaded, occupied their country, remained for over a decade, and continued daily combat, death squad, and drone killings.
Afghans responded to the Kandahar massacre by targeting Panetta during his visit. According to Press TV and other reports, a man drove a bomb-laden vehicle onto the runway where his plane landed.
An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) statement confirmed the incident. Panetta’s spokesman George Little said he crashed into a ditch before emerging from the vehicle “ablaze.” He later died. One ISAF service member was injured.
Downplaying the incident, Panetta said he had “absolutely no reason to believe that this was directed at me….This is a war,” he added, “and we are going to get these kinds of incidents.”
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby claimed no explosives were found in the vehicle. Panetta’s visit went on as planned. Afghans want no part of him and US forces he represents.
Partners in Crime Plan Their Next One
On March 14, two unindicted war criminals met in Washington. Obama and Britain’s David Cameron pledged unity on Afghan policy. In a Rose Garden news conference, Obama said “I don’t anticipate at this stage that we’re going to be making any sudden additional changes to the plan we currently have.”
In other words, status quo occupation and tactics continue. They include daily death squad and drone killings.
Unstated was that permanent US occupation’s planned like in Iraq. Troop drawdowns conceal repositioning them and Washington’s intent to stay. They’ll remain on small town-sized super-bases built for permanency. Leaving’s not an option, though Afghans and Iraqis may have final say.
Obama and Cameron also concurred on Syria and Iran. They’re committed for regime change by any means, including war. It defines the “special relationship” based on ravaging the world one country at a time or in multiples. No policy change is planned.
Asked about progress in Afghanistan, Obama duplicitously told reporters:
“If you compare where we are today with where we’ve been two, three years ago, the situation is considerably improved.”
An Honest Afghanistan Assessment
In fact, the situation’s much worse, according to army Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis after returning from his second Afghan tour. Assessing the war in an 84-page unclassified report, as well as another classified one, he described conditions as disastrous. Pentagon commanders suppress how bad. “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding,” he asked?
His report’s damning opening lines said:
“Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.”
His classified report is more explicit. “If the public had access to these classified reports they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes. It would be illegal for me to discuss, use, or cite classified material in an open venue, and thus I will not do so.”
Last month, Davis headlined an Armed Forces Journal article, “Truth, lies and Afghanistan,” saying:
For months, he traveled over 9,000 miles, spoke with US forces in numerous areas from low-ranking ones to commanders and staff members at every echelon. He also talked at length with Afghan security officials, civilians and village elders.
What he saw “bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.” He heard accounts “of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.”
“I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government. From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.”
He hoped to find positive trends. “Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.”
One senior enlisted leader told him soldiers hope only to get out alive in one piece or at worst losing one limb. It’s that bad.
“In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.”
“As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.”
In February 2011, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) assessed Afghan failure across the board, saying:
“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead.”
“They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”
When waging war, changing strategy, or “clos(ing) off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose.”
“That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.”
A Final Comment
Davis didn’t explain that lies define all wars. They reflect duplicity, dishonesty, and suppressing truths. If people knew why Washington wages them, they’d demand ending them or vote out of office politicians who refuse.
They’re not about good vs. evil, security, liberation, democracy, or self-defense. They’re for dominance, colonization, exploitation, resource control, and other imperial motives important to conceal because few people would accept them.
Whoever first said it, the first casualty of war is truth, and then some as John Pilger observed saying: “Journalism is the first casualty.” It’s also “a weapon of war, a virulent censorship….by omission,” denying the public the right to know.
Vital issues aren’t explained properly. It’s hard imagining one more important than war. Men and women fight for lies. Davis saw appalling Afghan horrors. He revealed what he could and condemned top officials for suppressing vital truths Americans deserve to know.
They won’t as long as political hawks and Pentagon planners look for new targets to strike. America’s permanent war policy demands them.
It’s one of many vital issues to change. It starts with full disclosure on them all. It’s everyone’s right to know and high they demand it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.