In the neurotic groundswell last week of the absorption of gay people and the bullies that define the genre, the wars overseas have lost a lot of its news flavor with American audiences, despite the fact young GIs are still killing and dying over there — now they’re being made dead by their Afghan comrade-at-arms.
On Friday, an Afghan solider shot and killed a US soldier and wounded two others, which brought the number to 20 NATO troops killed so far this year (35 for all of 2011) in most-friendly fire circumstances — the so-called “green-on-blue” shootings, which shockingly account for 14 percent of all troop deaths.
The situation has gotten so far out of hand, desperate measures have been taken.
From USAToday in March:
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned “guardian angels” — troops that watch over their comrades even as they sleep — and have ordered a series of other increased security measures to protect troops against possible attacks by rogue Afghans.
In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons.
And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal directive.
Leaving Afghanistan will be in a real-nasty whimper — the US has lost 1,968 troops since this nonsense started in 2001, more than 1,300 of those in the last three years alone.
Meanwhile this morning, in another screw loose, Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official who reconciled with the government and was a top member of the Afghan peace council, was assassinated at a Kabul street light.
From Mohammad Zahir, head of the city police’s criminal investigation division: “Only one shot was fired,” Zahir said. “Our initial reports are that it was a pistol with a silencer. Rahmani died on the way to the hospital.”
And oddly enough, the Taliban denied responsibility for the killing.
Odd also is the professionalism of the hit — silencer on a weapon in a land where IED’s kill in a loud, bang all day long and explosive-laden vests are the tactical style of choice?
If the military can’t do Afghanistan. politics sure won’t accomplish the mission.
Despite Dianne Feinstein’s attempt at US bravado on Fox News this morning: “Militarily, I think the Taliban are not going to beat us,” said Ms. Feinstein, a Democrat from California. But the Taliban “have a safe harbor in Pakistan, and the Pakistanis are doing nothing to abate that safe haven.”
And Pakistan is the asshole card in all this shit.
Right now, Pakistan still has the main supply routes into Afghanistan sealed because of the major f*uck-up last November when a US airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at an outpost at the boundary of the two countries.
Pakistan turned the matter over to its parliament, which wants an unconditional apology from the US for the Mohmand attack and ending drone attacks.
No apology has come the US and the drones strikes continue — supposedly nine suspected militants were killed by drone nine days ago along the northern Pakistani border.
And right now today, U.S. General John Allen, the current head of the whole shebang in Afghanistan, is meeting with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts in Islamabad to see if they can’t iron out the difficulties to end this terrible war.
These guys are the Afghanistan-Pakistan-ISAF Tripartite Commission, this the first meeting of the bunch in more than a year, and comes on the near-eve of Pakistan itself holding parliamentary talks Tuesday on ending the supply-route blockade.
A good overview of the reality of Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war can be found in an interview with investigative reporter Gareth Porter at Press TV — the people of Pakistan pretty-much hates the US because of the drone strikes.
Porter concludes: This is a fundamental disconnect between the interests of these two countries and I think it is now basically too late for the United States to put pressure effectively on Pakistan to get them to change their policy.
All this as NATO will hold a big summit in Chicago the end of this month and just Pakistan maybe won’t be invited, but will be coming anyway.
Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: “But as you also know, our transit routes through Pakistan are currently blocked. So we have to continue our dialogue with Pakistan, with a view to finding a solution to that because that’s really a matter of concern,” he added, without clearly mentioning if Pakistan had been invited to the summit or not.
And so it goes.
Beyond the horror of the bloodletting, economics booms in the face of failure.
From ABC News:
The war in Afghanistan has cost the United States $443 billion from 2001 through 2011, according to the Congressional Research Office.
According to a Pew Trusts report, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed more to growth in U.S. debt than any other policy since 2001 except the Bush tax cuts and in the increased interest from legislative changes.
That’s one for Mitt Romney to stutter about, but President Obama hasn’t done anything to compensate for it.
The Afghan predicament is one of failure — according to an AP-GfK poll in late April, 66 percent of US respondents opposed the war, with 40 percent saying they were “strongly” opposed: Among those opposed to the war, 49 percent say U.S. troops are hurting more than helping.
Journalist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues Phyllis Bennis in a commentary from the Institute for Policy Studies writes that despite the absolute-only real Afghan solution is for the US to get-out-now — like yesterday — the war will instead continue on down memory lane.
The sticking point in an election year:
For President Obama, the challenge may be even greater.
This is his war now, it has been since January 20, 2009.
But support for the war in his party (a slightly embarrassingly low 30 percent last year) has dropped to a humiliating 19 percent today.
Does he really think he can re-energize his base with the claim that “I’m ending the war” when the reality of his plan is so well known?
His plan for two more years of full-scale war in Afghanistan, followed by at least ten years of continued occupation by thousands (16,000? 20,000?) of special forces and “training” troops?
Too many people know that’s the reality of the agreement Obama signed with the U.S.-backed Afghan President Karzai last week.
It’s not an end to the war, it’s simply changing the size and nature of the occupation.
And horrible irony is not lost on anybody.
Reality on the ground is way actual than bullshit words.
The subject matter of a NY Times At War blog post last week, of all things, was Afghan postcards, which featured five examples, including the one shown at left (image which can be found here) and each with a little descriptive note:
Postcard No. 3: This one is also from the German military store at Kandahar.
Hard to say if it is meant to be funny.
I sure hope it is.
Otherwise, the play off “Apocalypse Now” cuts a bit too close to the bone, no?
Maybe, twitch-funny like the smell of napalm in the morning, yes?