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Old 10-07-2011, 02:13 PM
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Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

Today will mark a decade since the US launched its first salvos in the 'War on Terror' by bombing Taliban positions in Afghanistan.
Photo: PETTY OFFICE SEAN CLEE
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:46AM BST 07/10/2011
The United States and its allies are “little better than” halfway towards their goals in the war in Afghanistan, which they began with a “frighteningly simplistic” view of the country, according to the former US commander Stanley McChrystal.

The retired general said that even after ten years there was a shortage of the sort of knowledge that could help bring the conflict to a successful conclusion.

His remarks came as a damning report was released by Jane’s which said the future of Afghanistan would still “hang in the balance” after the planned departure of allied combat forces by the end of 2014.

Gen McChrystal, who commanded coalition forces in 2009-10 but was forced to resign in a flap over a magazine article, said the US entered Afghanistan in October 2001 with weak knowledge of Afghan culture.

"We didn't know enough and we still don't know enough," he said. "Most of us - me included - had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years."

US forces did not know the country's languages and did not make "an effective effort" to learn them, he said.

Gen McChrystal also said that the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq less than two years after entering Afghanistan made the Afghan effort more difficult.

"I think they were made more difficult, clearly," he said, because the Iraq invasion "changed the Muslim world's view of America's effort”.

“When we went after the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, there was a certain understanding that we had the ability and the right to defend ourselves and the fact that al-Qaeda had been harboured by the Taliban was legitimate. I think when we made the decision to go into Iraq that was less legitimate,” he said.

Iraq also diverted some military resources that could have been put to good use in Afghanistan, he said.

The Country Brief report by Jane's, the defence publishers, said that despite ten years of investment, in lives and money, the future of Afghanistan was deeply uncertain. "Ten years on, the stability of the region remains fragile and the suppression of terrorism has been limited," it said.

With Nato's withdrawal three years away it questions whether the Afghan security forces and government will be strong enough to resist a resurgent Taliban.

December 16, 2001: Anti-Taliban Afghan fighters watch several explosions from US bombings in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan [Photo: Reuters/Erik de Castro]

Today will mark a decade since the US launched its first salvos in the "War on Terror" by bombing Taliban positions in Afghanistan. The assault, launched three weeks after the September 11 attacks, overthrew the Taliban and ejected their al-Qaeda allies within weeks.

At the time, President George W Bush told Americans: "In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths."

But the swift victory has been followed by a decade of war that has claimed the lives of 2,700 Nato troops including 382 Britons. Tens of thousands of Afghans have also died.

The war has cost America more than $400 billion (£254 billion) and Britain £14 billion. While Nato's military gains seem to have finally taken hold, the country is arguably more politically unstable now than it has been at any time since the offensive began, with the Haqqani network seeking to undermine the government with a series of high profile assassinations.

Only this week Afghan intelligence officials said that they had broken up a suicide plot to kill President Hamid Karzai.

"Time is running out to leave Afghanistan in an acceptable shape that would justify the time, money, and lives spent in expanding the mission from counter-terrorism to state building," said Terry Pattar, a Jane's terrorism specialist.

The Jane's analysis suggests that there were "major doubts" over the ability of the Afghan government to maintain stability after Western countries pull out. America now had to "choose if they are going to back Karzai or find an alternative".

"Either way, there will have to be some form of rapprochement with elements of the Taliban if Afghanistan is not going to descend back into civil war." Jane's experts say that despite a Taliban promise that it would not harbour terror groups if it came back into power "a myriad of foreign jihadist groups" would be likely to relocate in Afghanistan after 2015.

"It remains far from clear whether the Taliban is capable of breaking all ties with its foreign allies and preventing them from using Afghanistan as a base for activities that threaten foreign states," said Jeremy Binnie, Jane's senior terrorism analyst.

However, future peace talks with the Taliban look uncertain after last month's assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, President Karzai's peace envoy.

The Jane's analysis is backed up by the American Council on Foreign Relations. "We've done very well on the military side in the last couple years," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow. "We have not [done] nearly so well on the political side. And we're running out of time."

Today marks a decade since the US launched its first salvos in the 'War on Terror' by bombing Taliban positions in Afghanistan [Photo: Petty Office Sean Clee]

Michael Semple, former deputy European Union envoy to Afghanistan, said he feared political chaos and continuing violence could lead to a new civil war after Nato forces pull out.

"They hoped they could stabilise Afghanistan by using military force to degrade the Taliban, while building up the capacity of the Afghan government and its armed forces.

"The idea was that Nato could then pull out leaving a weakened insurgency and a strengthened Afghan government capable of maintaining stability. But fewer and fewer Afghans seem convinced.

"If it does not work, the risk is probably not that of regime collapse but of a nasty persistent civil war after the Nato draw down in 2014," he said. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Sir William Patey, Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, said corruption was the biggest threat to a "viable" Afghan state.

"It has only been in the last two or three years that we seriously got down to building up the Afghan national security forces …We are halfway through a six-year project of delivering Afghan security forces that are really capable of replacing our combat troops who will all have gone by 2015," he said.

Conservative MP Adam Holloway, a former Grenadier Guards officer, warned against pinning all hopes on an unpopular central government.

"The current strategy, it's not just that it won't work," he said. "It can't work. We have to allow the Afghans to come up with their own local political fixes and not impose a central government."

Negotiating a peace settlement with the Taliban was also unlikely to produce results, he cautioned. "We have this idea that we can make a deal with the Taliban," he said. "But I wouldn't have thought there's any danger of the Taliban wanting to make a deal."

The conflict has left hundreds of British families mourning the deaths of loved ones. Christine Bonner, lost her son, Cpl Darren "Daz" Bonner, in 2007 when an explosion hit a convoy in Helmand.

She said: "If it can be handed over to the Afghan people and be as it should be, then I can hold my head up and say 'Darren, I lost him and it changed our lives forever, but at least someone else has gained from it'."

Gen Sir David Richards, the head of the Armed Forces, last night said that Nato was not trying to "create a Switzerland" in Afghanistan.



"We're talking about a country that can look after itself. The reason it's important to us is because a stable Afghanistan is vital to our own long-term security."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

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Old 10-07-2011, 04:58 PM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

Learn their language?

I wouldn't care for it as I am there to kill Talebanis!

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Old 10-07-2011, 10:25 PM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

Its pretty hard to win a war when nobody can even define what winning it means, or will look like.

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Old 10-08-2011, 12:55 AM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

we should just get out. it doesn't seem winnable.

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Old 10-08-2011, 12:12 PM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

It needs to wrap up pretty quick......we are running out of money to fund damn near everything

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Old 10-08-2011, 04:47 PM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

It's all just a twisted confused mess to me, I don't truly get it anymore

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Old 10-09-2011, 02:50 AM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdjackass318 View Post
we should just get out. it doesn't seem winnable.
I agree. We need to get the fuck out of there.

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Old 10-09-2011, 08:45 AM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

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A report issued in June 2005 by the non-profit organization Action Aid reveals that much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations.

“Phantom aid” that never shows up in the recipient country is a scam in which paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent, American “experts” under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Additionally, 70 percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully “tied” to the donor nation, requiring that the recipient use the donated money to buy products and services from the donor country, often at drastically inflated prices.

The US far outstrips other nations in these schemes, as Action Aid calculates that 86 cents of every dollar of American aid is phantom.

Authors Ann Jones and Fariba Nawa suggest that in order to understand the failure and fraud in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, it is important to look at the peculiar system of American aid for international development.

International and national agencies—including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and USAID, that traditionally distribute aid money to developing countries—have designed a system that is efficient in funneling money back to the wealthy donor countries, while undermining sustainable development in poor states.

A former head of USAID cited foreign aid as “a key foreign policy instrument” designed to help countries “become better markets for US exports.

” To guarantee that mission, the State Department recently took over the aid agency. USAID and the Army Corps of Engineers now cut in US business and government interests from the start, making sure that money is allocated according to US economic, political, strategic, and military priorities, rather than according to what the recipient nation might consider important.

Though Afghans have petitioned to allocate aid money as they find appropriate, donor countries object, claiming that the Afghan government is too corrupt to be trusted. Increasingly frustrated and angry Afghan communities meanwhile claim that the no-bid, open-ended contracts being awarded to contractors such as Kellogg, Brown, and Root/Halliburton, DynCorp, Blackwater, and the Louis Berger Group are equivalent to licensed bribery, corruption, theft, and money laundering.

The Karzai government, confined to a self-serving American agenda, has delivered little to the average Afghan, most of whom still live in abject poverty.

Western notions of progress evident in US-contracted hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls full of new electronic gadgets and appliances are beyond the imaginations or practicalities of 3.5 million war torn Afghan citizens who are without food, shelter, sewage systems, clean water or electricity.

Infrastructure hastily built with shoddy materials and no knowledge or respect for geologic or climatic conditions is culminating in one expensive failure after another.

USAID’s website, for example, boasts of its only infrastructure accomplishment in Afghanistan—the Kabul-Kandahar Highway—a narrow and already crumbling highway costing Afghanis $1 million a mile.

The highway was featured in the Kabul Weekly newspaper in March 2005 under the headline, “Millions Wasted on Second-Rate Roads.

” The article notes that while other bids from more competent construction firms came in at one-third the cost, the contract went to the Louis Berger Group, a firm with tight connections to the Bush administration—as well as a notorious track record of other failed and abandoned construction projects in Afghanistan.

Former Minister of Planning, Ramazan Bashardost, complained that when it came to building roads, the Taliban had done a better job.

“And,” he also asked, “Where did the money go?” Now, in a move certain to lower President Karzai’s approval ratings and further diminish US popularity in the area, the Bush administration has pressured Karzai to turn this “gift from the people of the United States” into a toll road, charging each driver $20 for a road-use permit valid for one month.

In this way, according to American “experts” providing highly paid technical assistance, Afghanistan can collect $30 million annually from its impoverished citizens and thereby decrease the foreign aid “burden” on the United States.

Jones asks, “Is it any wonder that foreign aid seems to ordinary Afghans to be something only foreigners enjoy?”

Afghanistan, Inc. is a thirty-page report that digs deep into the corruption involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The report focuses on US government-funded companies contracted to rebuild Afghanistan.

The importance of this report is that it’s the first serious look at corruption of aid money spending from a grassroots level. It includes an emphasis on various projects in villages and the cities and it covers all sides of the issue. It shows how big money is spent on bad work.

The report was first published in English through CorpWatch, a watchdog of corporations, on May 2, 2006. It was translated into the Persian languages of Dari and Pashto in September 2006.

The companies investigated in the report continue to receive millions of dollars in contracts from the US government despite their incompetence and wasteful spending. Louis Berger, Bearing Point, Chemonics, and DynCorp are still taking American taxpayers’ money and showing minimum results in Afghanistan.

Some of the mainstream press gave the report coverage, including NPR’s Morning Edition, KRON Channel 4 news in San Francisco when it was first published, and later on, BBC radio and many other European outlets continue to call and ask the author about the report.

However, that’s a limited response to the fact that this was a groundbreaking report with important information for policy change.

The report has been a source for many others researching the subject. If you’d like more information on corruption on reconstruction in Afghanistan, please refer to CorpWatch’s website http://www.corpwatch.org. Integrity Watch Afghanistan is another organization that monitors corruption in the country and produces various reports.

Nine months later the conundrum I described—no peace, no security, no development—still pertains, and Afghan hopes sour.
The US still looks for a military solution.

In the first five months of 2007, seventy-five coalition troops were killed (compared to fifty-three in the same period last year), including thirty-eight Americans. Civilian casualties were variously reported—some sources said “almost 1,800”—including 135 killed by US or NATO forces.

The US position on military “progress” against the Taliban, expressed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on June 4, 2007, as he prepared to visit Afghanistan, remained “guarded optimism.”

Gates told reporters a goal of his trip was to insure close coordination of combat operations and development and reconstruction efforts.

That’s a switch, suggesting some clue that reconstruction may be a better way to “kill” the Taliban, but leaving unanswered the question of how to coordinate war and peaceful activity.

The real importance of “Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan” lies behind the front page military coverage—in what it reveals of the systemic scams and should-be scandals of American aid.

The story makes news now and then when billions “disappear” from reconstruction projects in Iraq, but to my knowledge it has yet to be investigated by media or congress.

What’s discussed is the occasional budgetary black hole that suggests some random malfeasance, in much the same way that torture at Abu Ghraib was discussed as the work of a few “bad apples.”

Maybe reporters don’t want to take up the story because it’s complicated. It’s about numbers. Like Enron.

Dreary, ho-hum, life-shattering stuff. I don’t know. But one curious thing: when my book Kabul in Winter appeared in 2006, a very long section on this topic was the one part no reviewer touched.

Now bigger voices than mine speak out. Abdullah Abdullah, the distinguished former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, recently complained that of every $100,000 promised to Afghan development, less than a third reaches the country.

Matt Waldman, head of Afghanistan policy for Oxfam, one of the most respected humanitarian NGOs in the world, wrote in The Guardian (May 26, 2007) that “America is bankrolling Afghanistan” but “as in Iraq, a vast proportion of aid is wasted.”

And more to the point, “Close to half of US development assistance goes to the five biggest US contractors in the country.”

Waldman argues that too much aid money is lost to high salaries and living costs of international experts, purchase of non-Afghan resources, and corporate profits.

He figures the cost of the average expat (read “American”) expert at half a million dollars a year.

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Old 10-09-2011, 08:50 AM
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I wish I could double thank that Kellyhound, extremely interesting read

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Old 10-09-2011, 10:21 PM
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Re: Afghan War "Only Halfway Through"

Sad but true, that shithole of a country is no better off now than before we invaded.

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