America’s Deplorable Afghanistan Legacy
by Stephen Lendman
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg absurdly calls Afghanistan an Alliance success story.
As ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) “completes” its “mission at the end of this year.”
“This unprecedented international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children,” Stoltenberg claims. “And it has enhanced global security.”
Disaster more accurately describes things. Conditions are horrific. Perhaps worse than ever. A testimony to US-led NATO high crimes against peace.
Afghanistan’s new puppet government agreed to let around 10,000 US troops remain indefinitely.
Immune from Afghan laws. Free to rampage with impunity. On the pretext of serving in an advisory capacity.
Afghanistan today reflects “the grand illusion of the American cause.” What CIA officials called Vietnam decades earlier.
After over 13 years of neo-colonial war, Washington won’t cut its losses and leave. For good reason.
Afghanistan is strategically important. A geopolitical prize. Straddling the Middle East, South and Central Asia. In Eurasia’s heartland.
Permanent occupation is planned. War won’t end. At issue is exploiting Eurasia’s vast oil, gas and other resources.
Significant Afghan resources rarely discussed.
Controlling the world’s largest opium supply. Flooding world markets with heroin.
Providing enormous profits for Wall Street. Giving CIA crime bosses access to billions of dollars in ilicit drug money.
Giving America a strategically located land-based aircraft carrier. Part of its plan to encircle Russia and China with military bases.
Both nations represent the only challengers to US global dominance. Imperial supremacy depends on neutralizing their alliance.
Sabotaging their governments. Replacing them with pro-Western stooge ones.
China is the world’s largest economy. Based on purchasing power parity (PPP). What a representative basket of goods in one country costs v. another.
By 2019, IMF economists expect it to be 20% larger than America. Based on PPP. It’s perhaps the greatest economic success story in modern times.
Thirty-five years ongoing. The best America achieved was around 25 years in colonial times.
Russia is a formidable military power. The only nation able to challenge America’s military might.
With enormous oil and gas resources. Both nations benefit strategically by allying.
Doing so weakens America longterm. The new great game pits Washington against Sino/Russian unity.
In the long run, hegemons fail. America is no different from earlier ones.
Afghanistan is its longest war in history. Its most fruitless. One of its most brutal. Most expensive. More on this below.
A previous article discussed US Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis. He assessed conditions accurately. His unclassified report called them disastrous.
“How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding,” he asked? His report’s opening comments said:
“Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US 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 was more explicit, saying:
“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.”
Davis traveled thousands of miles throughout the country. He spoke to US commanders, subordinates, and low-ranking soldiers.
He talked at length with Afghan security officials, civilians and village elders. What he learned bore no resemblance to rosy scenario official accounts.
Insurgent forces control “virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a US or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base,” he said
Everywhere he visited, “the tactical situation was bad to abysmal.”
Afghanistan’s government can’t “provide for the basic needs of the people.” At times, local security forces collude with insurgents.
Davis hoped to learn something positive. He “witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.”
One senior enlisted leader spoke for others. He hoped to get out alive in one piece.
War without end continues. No end in sight looms. Afghanistan’s so-called government controls little more than Kabul.
Other than ISAF bases and pockets Taliban fighters haven’t yet taken over. Don’t expect Obama to explain. Or Pentagon commanders.
It’s hard imagining a more long-suffering people. Humanitarian aid enough to matter is sorely lacking. Millions of Afghans are on their own.
US imperial victims. Suffering horrifically. Only 6% have reliable electricity sources. Only 30% have semi-safe potable water. Nearly 80% of Afghan children lack access.
Only 6% of them are registered at birth. Most are nonpersons. With no legal identity. Vulnerable. Unprotected. Defenseless.
Washington doesn’t give a damn about them. Whether they live or die, lack basic services, suffer, or experience horrific indignities.
Few Afghans have telephones. They’re mostly in Kabul. Millions of internally and externally displaced refugees are largely on their own.
According to to the World Food Program (WFP), life expectancy is 44.5 years for men. It’s 44 for women. Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates.
Many thousands of women die annually. From no access to obstetrical and other health services.
Infant mortality is high. Around 165 deaths per thousand births occur before age one. Over 20% of children perish before age five.
No one’s sure from day to day who’ll live or die. US drone attacks kill mostly noncombatants. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Millions are vulnerable to preventable diseases. Epidemic levels of malnutrition persist.
Vital infrastructure is lacking. Severe poverty is overwhelming. So is environmental contamination.
Mass unemployment goes unnoticed. Healthcare, housing, education, proper sanitation and other vital needs are sorely lacking.
Human misery is a growth industry. So is hunger. Thousands starve to death for lack of food.
Millions suffer chronic malnutrition. Tens of thousands of children have protruding bones.
Like famine victims. With distended stomachs. Begging in streets for whatever help they can get.
Chronic malnutrition and overall depravation deprive them of anything approaching normality.
Iron deficiency alone disrupts brain development. Around 75% of Afghan children are affected.
Iodine deficiency is the world’s leading cause of mental impairment. Insufficient vitamin A harms immune system functioning.
Micronutrients deprivation causes enormous harm. Millions of Afghans can’t afford minimally healthy diets.
In some provinces, only one in five have anything close to what’s needed. Conditions were woefully inadequate before America’s war. They’re far worse now.
Afghanistan’s troubled history goes back centuries. Its people endured what few can imagine.
In the 1980s, America’s involvement began. US recruited mujahideen fighters battled Soviet occupiers.
In 1989 they left. A ravaged country remained. Civil war followed. Then 9/11. US-led naked aggression.
Invasion. Occupation. Millions of deaths. Mass destruction, and horrific human suffering to this day.
Washington doesn’t give a damn about ordinary Afghans. Whether they live or die. Starve or succumb to violence or preventable diseases.
Imperial priorities matter most. Long-suffering Afghans remain on their own out of luck.
Perhaps millions more will perish before conflict ends. Who knows when or how.
A Final Comment
Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz wrote earlier on the true cost of the Iraq war. She believes Washington’s Iraq and Afghan wars alone will cost up to $6 trillion.
Including longterm medical care and disability compensation for vets and families.
Over 2.5 million men and women served in both wars. Over 1.5 million left active duty by September 2012.
Over half of them get government medical care. Another 50% applied for permanent disability benefits.
Costs are staggering. Increasing exponentially. Eventually they’ll approach $1 trillion. Over 600,000 service members were seriously harmed.
Over 250,00 suffered traumatic brain injury. According to Bilmes:
“Research from previous wars has shown that these veterans are at a higher risk for lifelong medical problems, such as seizures, decline in neurocognitive functioning, dementia, and chronic diseases.”
Medical and personnel costs skyrocketed. In future years they’ll be much greater than now.
Over $2 trillion was borrowed to finance the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said Bilmes. Debt service is huge. Even at low interest rates.
The human and financial cost of US wars is staggering. Trillions of dollars down a black hole to make America safe for war profiteers.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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