Hiding in plain sight behind the crazed presidential election and the extreme weather experienced by most US peoples the last couple of weeks, the killing fields of Afghanistan are still being plowed.
Six US troops were killed yesterday in a single IED blast in eastern Afghanistan, where fighting has started to increase in recent weeks — one other NATO GI died in the incident, but his nationally was not announced — and in separate incidents nationwide five Afghan policemen and at least 18 civilians died in bomb explosions and attacks.
One of the more violent weekends in the 11-year-old war that appears to not only be going nowhere, but is getting much-more on edge as NATO readies to withdraw in 2014 — and in horrible war irony, fatal IED incidents are down 10 to 12 percent over the same comparable period last year.
The Afghan future looks bleak: “I am very pessimistic,” said Moeed Yusuf of the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. “Whatever peace you come up with, I believe it is not sustainable, and I believe we are probably going to see a repeat of the 1990s, where you go for a few years and then it all starts to fall apart.”
(Illustration found here).
And just for an appearance of lop-sided bullshit, the US has quickly turned Afghanistan into a way-good friend.
Afghanistan was granted major non-NATO ally status, a designation that allows for expedited loans and exports, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today in Kabul.
The designation, which goes into effect immediately, is the first such classification the Obama administration has made.
Other countries accorded MNNA status by the U.S. include Israel, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Clinton, speaking in the gardens of the presidential palace, emphasized the U.S. commitment to Afghanistanâ€™s future and stability.
â€œWeâ€™re not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan,â€ she said.
Yeah, right — Hillary should imagine now what Pakistan thinks — more drone strikes Friday killing an unusually high number of people (17 to 24) in the aftermath of the US ‘reluctant apology-of-sorts‘ for the attack late last year on a Pakistani army post, allowing the Pakistani government to save face and open the supply lines through its country.
Despite all that, tensions still abound.
An indication, though, Pakistan is still in the doghouse and sliding toward shitsville: The major non-Nato ally designation to Afghanistan, announced during a surprise visit to Kabul by secretary of state Hillary Clinton, was an even sharper diplomatic rebuke, since it placed the two antagonistic countries on equal footing, and further moved away from Pakistan’s long sought parity with India, now a fading idea across the world. The designation facilitates closer defence cooperation between the US and its allies, and in this case it signals that Washington will continue to be deeply engaged in Afghanistan long after a majority of its troops are withdrawn, even as Pakistan is falling off the US radar as an ally and is widely seen as moving from a “frenemy” to an outright adversary.
Yeah, imagine that.
In a big Afghan pow-wow this weekend in Tokyo, Japan, a whole shitload of warmongers promised aid to the war-whored country in attempts to stop the inevitableÂ — in the UK’s Guardian on Sunday a look at the big gathering and the nonsense behind it.
Donors from about 70 countries and organizations pledged $16 billion through 2014.
Those donors, however, want to keep an eye on all that money due to the overwhelming fact of corrupted life in Afghanistan, therefore, stressed the aid would be closely monitored to assure it was not squandered through corruption or mismanagement.
Afghanistan’s clown of a president president, Hamid Karzai, gave his most-solemn word his government will toe the line: “We will fight corruption with strong resolve wherever it occurs, and ask the same of our international partners,” Karzai told the donors.
He added a bit of poetic drama: â€œTwo hands must clap, one hand will not do it,â€ he said.
Cute, Hamid, real cute.
Meanwhile, also in the Guardian yesterday, was a look at the reality behind all the glaze and glory bubbling over in Tokyo:
But Kabul has long grown used to hearing strongly worded western warnings that it must crack down on rampant corruption, and appears to suffer few consequences from ignoring them.
Up to $1bn of the $8bn donated to Afghanistan over the past eight years has been lost to corruption, according to Huguette Labelle, head of the anti-fraud group Transparency International.
And although there have been a string of graft cases in recent years, including a $900m banking scandal at a lender connected with the brothers of both President Hamid Karzai and his vice-president, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, there have been no high-profile convictions.
Anja de Beer, an adviser at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development writing for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, warned: “Chances are that the sweeping statements promising continuous support and billions of aid again only confirm the suspicion that this is just another talk show.”
Talk while dying continues.
Realism with this war comes from â€˜Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistanâ€™ by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
A review of the book via the Washington Post:
Americans are a history-less people.
We are constantly being told by wishfully thinking leaders that history does not apply to us, that we are its â€œexception.â€
Unfortunately, we are not, which is why it bears repeating that what the Obama administration is attempting to do in Afghanistan bears a striking resemblance to what the United States attempted in Vietnam.
Nguyen Van Thieu, our man in Saigon, headed a coterie of fellow generals, politicians and their greedy wives who excelled at thievery and bequeathed us one of the fundamental lessons of the Vietnam War, that one cannot build upon the quicksand of corruption a sound government and army that will stand up to its opponent.
When the moment of truth came in 1975, after the United States had pulled out its combat forces and the North Vietnamese army launched another offensive, the Saigon regime simply collapsed, its well-equipped troops abandoning their weapons and fleeing so fast that the opposition had difficulty catching up to them.
Now it is the turn of our man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai.
To keep him there 2,020 Americans and more than 1,000 British and NATO service members have died, and the cost of the war has exceeded $450 billion.
Chandrasekaran, who is a senior correspondent and associate editor at The Washington Post, draws vivid sketches of how Karzai and his family and their allies operate as a gang of looters, frustrating every attempt to create an honest government that could confront their Taliban enemy.
So familiar, huh?
And support for the war has tanked among Americans: â€œI think we should speed up when weâ€™re bringing our troops home,â€ said Melisa Clemmons, 52, a Republican and a coordinator for a wireless carrier system from Summerville, S.C. â€œIf weâ€™ve been there as many years as weâ€™ve been there, whatâ€™s another two years going to get us?â€ she asked, adding, â€œThese Afghanistan people are turning around and shooting our people. Why is it taking this long for the Afghan troops to be policing themselves?â€
If GOPers are turning, then this debacle/quagmire needs to be over already.