Long War Lost — Collateral Damage Without Reason

October 13, 2010

In a conflict that’s moving quickly from mismanaged to just plain foolish, Afghanistan is seeing a spike in civilian deaths, especially in the southern part of the country where US and NATO troops are attempting, once again, to drive out the Taliban.
The International Red Cross, despite reporting the number of bystander injuries are “hitting record highs,” the number of causalities found at local hospitals are just the “tip of the iceberg.”

(Illustration found here).

While the ICRC report detailed the rise in civilian causalities, NATO issued its own document stating the exact opposite — The number of civilians killed or injured by coalition airstrikes has dropped dramatically over the past several years, despite an increase in fighting in Afghanistan.
NATO says only 88 Afghan civilians have been killed so far this year.

And to that claim is an one word answer — bullshit.
An UN report says there’s been a 31 percent increase in civilians being killed — total number of civilian casualties in the first six months of this year is 3,268 – including 1,271 deaths and 1,997 injuries.
Due to the nature of the violence — IEDs, drone rockets, helicopter strikes — the Red Cross also reported a “drastic increase” in the number of amputations from war injuries, and as the war continues to bog down via quagmire style, collateral damage will only get worse.
Just to add a spice of dumb-shit and to counter the slaughter, King David Petraeus has ordered a drastic increase in the number of air strikes being launched across the nation.
Blasting the Afghan ground from above increased 172 percent in September — 700 sorties as compared to just 257 during the same time in 2009.

And to make this little story so asshole-like and sad — the Afghan war is a conflict in futility.
History writer John Prados via HuffPost:

The difficulties of war — any war — in Afghanistan are immutable and rooted in physical reality.
These problems dogged Soviet armies in the 20th Century and British ones in the 19th.
They are more deeply embedded in the fabric of the situation than the headaches of Afghan politics, the divergent goals of the Karzai government, rampant corruption, military ineffectiveness, Taliban determination, or the features of a harsh land.

In 2009, according to Pentagon estimates, allied forces were consuming over half a million gallons of gasoline per day, a figure that nearly doubled before the new “surge” troops began reaching the country.
During the Vietnam war the Pentagon calculated that every soldier in-country represented $7,000 in the war budget.
For Afghanistan that figure is $1,000,000.

In the American military, the saw is that captains and majors study tactics, colonels do strategy, and generals plan logistics.
But in Afghanistan, American generals have created a logistics nightmare incapable of solution, and then compounded the dilemma by demanding a surge that pushes the deployed force to the very edge of the abyss.

This conflict has reached the point where the failure modes are many and obvious, and the path to success obscure, under conditions where Americans are at risk.
The handwriting is on the wall.
To proceed further under these circumstances is to march into folly.

Stop the killing — bring US GIs home.

(h/t to Jason Ditz at antiwar.com)

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