Wednesday 22 July 2009

The futile and costly Afghan war

Local commentator Werner Schmidlin is enraged about the Afgan situation and the escalating crisis that Australia has put itself in the thick of. His anger follows the death of Private Benjamin Ranaudo, a 22 year old Townsville soldier on Saturday.

78-year-old Schmidlin has seen the effects of war, having left his native Germany in 1954.

Another young Australian soldier lost his life in the futile war in Afghanistan. How long will we keep sacrificing Australian lives and spend money we have to borrow on a pointless war?

We have now been in this war for eight years with thousands of well equipped troops from several nations and the most modern weaponry, what has been achieved? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The irony is, we are giving sanctuary to boatloads of young Afghan men and we send our young men there to fight and die – something is not adding up here.

It took the Soviet Union ten years to realise the folly of their war in Afghanistan, how long will it take us to realize that this is a war that cannot be won?

We are morally no different from the psychopaths within the Taliban, who Afghans remember the USA empowered, funded and armed during the 10-year war with the Soviet Union. Washington sowed, unwittingly, the seeds of destruction in Afghanistan. It trained, armed and empowered the militants who now kill them. Death delivered from the air or fields of shiny cluster bombs? This is the language of war. It is what we speak. It is what those we fight speak

It is impossible to change the inherent culture of an Islamic nation like Afghanistan with superior military power where the people are dirt poor; uneducated, living in feudal enclaves and governed by war lords, where cocaine is King, women are considered the lowest ranking humans in this world and the Afghan government is a toothless tiger and subservient to the USA.

Death delivered from the air or fields of shiny cluster bombs? This is the language of war. It is what we speak. It is what those we fight speak.

As an avid follower and observer of world affairs and world politics I have read many Stories about Afghanistan and what Dr. Juliette Fournot said clearly confirms my point that this war is futile, costly and not winnable.

And here is some of what Dr. Juliette Fournot has to say, who lived with her parents in Afghanistan as a teenager, speaks Dari and led teams of French doctors and nurses from Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, into Afghanistan during the war with the Soviets.

Dr. Fournot fears that years of war have shattered the concept of nationhood. “There is so much personal and mental destruction,” she said. “Over 70 percent of the population has never known anything else but war. Kids do not go to school. War is normality. It gives that adrenaline rush that provides a momentary sense of high, and that is what they live on. And how can you build a nation on that?”

The Pashtuns, she noted, have built an alliance with the Taliban to restore Pashtun power that was lost in the 2001 invasion. The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is, to the Pashtuns, a meaningless demarcation that was drawn by imperial powers through the middle of their tribal lands. There are 13 million Pashtuns in Afghanistan and another 28 million in Pakistan. The Pashtuns are fighting forces in Islamabad and Kabul they see as seeking to wrest from them their honour and autonomy. They see little difference between the Pakistani military, American troops and the Afghan army.

Islamabad, while it may battle Taliban forces in Swat or the provinces, does not regard the Taliban as a mortal enemy. The enemy is and has always been India. The balance of power with India requires the Pakistani authorities to ensure that any Afghan government is allied with it. This means it cannot push the Pashtuns in the Northwest Frontier Province or in Afghanistan too far. It must keep its channels open. The cat-and-mouse game between the Pakistani authorities and the Pashtuns, which drives Washington to fury, will never end. Islamabad needs the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan more than the Pashtuns need them.

The U.S. fuels the bonfires of war. The more troops we send to Afghanistan, the more drones we send on bombing runs over Pakistan, the more air strikes we carry out, the worse the unravelling will become. We have killed twice as many civilians as the Taliban this year and that number is sure to rise in the coming months.

“I find this term ‘collateral damage‘ dehumanizing,” Dr. Fournot said, “as if it is a necessity. People are sacrificed on the altar of an idea. Air power is blind. I know this from having been caught in numerous bombings.”

Dr. Fournot sees the American project in Afghanistan as mirroring that of the doomed Soviet occupation that began in December 1979. A beleaguered Afghan population, brutalized by chaos and violence, desperately hoped for stability and peace. The Soviets, like the Americans, spoke of equality, economic prosperity, development, education, women’s rights and political freedom. But within two years, the ugly face of Soviet domination had unmasked the flowery rhetoric. The Afghans launched their insurgency to drive the Soviets out of the country.

We are faced with two stark choices. We can withdraw and open negotiations with the Taliban or continue to expand the war until we are driven out. The corrupt and unpopular regimes of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari are impotent allies. The longer they remain tethered to the United States, the weaker they become. And the weaker they become, the louder become the calls for intervention in Pakistan. During the war in Vietnam, we invaded Cambodia to bring stability to the region and cut off rebel sanctuaries and supply routes. This tactic only empowered the Khmer Rouge. We seem poised, in much the same way, to do the same for radical Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“If the Americans step up the war in Afghanistan, they will be sucked into Pakistan,” Dr. Fournot warned. “Pakistan is a time bomb waiting to explode. You have a huge population, 170 million people. There is nuclear power. Pakistan is much more dangerous than Afghanistan. War always has its own logic. Once you set foot in war, you do not control it. It sucks you in.” Unquote.

This should give everybody a clear idea what we are in for in Afghanistan.


Alison Alloway said...

Oh well said. Yes, the Pashtuns are the key and Pakistan needs them. It needs pointing out that Pashtuns are represented within the ranks of the Pakistani military. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that pressure exerted on this politically volatile group, could see a wildcat coup, a nuclear weapon stolen and fired off somewhere. I would recommend people read Pervez Mushararraf's autobiography, "In the Line of Fire."

Syd Walker said...

Excellent to see the anti-war position articulated here Walter. Well done.

Yesterday morning I was listening to ABC radio. ANU 'political scientist' Professor John Warhurst came on with his weekly half hour slot.

I was so incensed by the combination of softball questions from presenter Fiona Sewell and regurgitated, conformist war-mongering spin from Warhurst that I rang the station to complain.

I asked for:

(1) More balance in the 'experts' they select to discuss such issue - and in particular more adequate representation for the 50%+ of Australians who, according to successive recent opinion polls, oppose Australian troops being in Afghanistan (in spite of incessant war-promoting hype from the Australian mass media)

(2) More opportunity for feedback, comment and criticism from the community. If Warhurst is to foist his views on FNQ for half an hour per week, why can't we the public at least engage in dialogue with him about his views, which currently go unchallenged in Fiona's sycophantic, crooning interviews?

My complaint got a fair hearing from the Station Manager. It remains to be seen if anything will change. Perhaps if more people call along similar lines it might?

The most outrageous Afghanistan-related lie - perpetrated by the western mass media including 'Your' ABC - is the lie that there was any need or rational basis for launching the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Only people in a deliberate state of denial still believe that. Nanothermitic high explosives were not implanted in three NYC skyscrapers by 'Islamic fundamentalists' based in Afghanistan. This is cutting edge high technology. Likewise, the cover-up of such a massive crime was clearly not orchestrated from the Hindu Kush.

The entire 'War on Terror' is a bogus sham. It was intended from the outset, by the Ziocons who plotted it, to suck the western world into endless conflict with the Islamic world.

Global prospects for peace and prosperity are being sacrificed for a shitty little Apartheid State (the perpetual war State of Israel). The Military Industrial Complex does well out of the racket too. For the rest of us, it's a disaster...

That message, needless to say, is vigorously excluded from the mainstream media. If regular Aussies ever figured out what 9-11 was really about, 50&+ opposition to the war would rise to 95%+ - leaving only a rump of hard-core Zionists and their many stooges in the media and Parliament to defend the indefensible.

Many may disagree with the views I express above - but even if you do, don't you think it would be better if they were tested openly in public debate - so the strengths and weaknesses of such a view can be properly explored?

The ABC does not exist to manage its listerners opinions. It should adequately reflect the diversity of views in the Australian community and provide opportunities for debate between opposing views.

As I said to the Station Manager, I've gone from a strong supporter of the ABC 10 years ago to someone who would prefer the organization be abolished if't is to continue to promote pro-war propaganda and brush aside legitimate concerns and dissenting opinions about crucially important issues

Why should taxpayers pay for a sophisticated exercise in war-promoting mass deception?

Unknown said...


I agree that we should not be in Afghanistan. I also agree that there was no excuse for the initial attack on Afghanistan (or Iraq for that matter). If the hijackers were Saudis,as claimed, then maybe the USA should have attacked Saudi Arabia.

I also think that there will always be foreign intervention in Afghanistan unless the various tribes and warlords learn to live together in peace and rule their own country.

As for the rest of your (conspiracy) theories..I have checked out your blog a few times and some of the stuff on there posted by yourself and your faithful followers is so "out there' that I find it hard to take you serious any more.

Thaddeus said...

Wonder if Werner has joined Bryan's group in Hervey Bay?? For a while there I was thinking young Mike might have gotten himself arrested along with Bryan and the others.....

Syd Walker said...

You are absolutely right Nick.

Of course, it's rather hard to make a similar claim against Dr Neils Harrit and I notice you very prudently don't try.

But as you correctly observe, I go whether others simply dare not.

Today I took the audacious step of outing Mark Regev as an deep-cover Australian Agent.

Unknown said...

Nothing to do with being prudent, Syd. I have never even heard about Neils Harrit and I just do not have the time or resources (that you obviously have) to delve into all this stuff to the extend that you do.

What worries me is some of the hateful comments of the followers on your blog. While you obviously have researched the stuff you believe to be the truth, many others will blindly follow whoever tells them what they want to hear... that's always a scary proposition..

Syd Walker said...

No need to go to Hervey Bay Thaddeus.

We need a protest outside the Cairns Post and the ABC Far North building unless and until they stop pimping for war.

Tom said...

Syd's on the money when he identifies Israel as the problem. It seems the leaders of this war-mongering expansionist little state learnt much from the Nazis. However, in 2009 terms; Jewish means Aryan and Palestinian means Jew. The Gaza Strip has become their own Warsaw ghetto where they torment and kill a civilian population at will. The high moral ground claimed by Israel as an alleged victim of a united Arab enemy has been squandered by a bunch of expansionist Zionists thugs.

Unknown said...

I don't think anybody likes what Israel is doing in Gaza and what the Palestinians are doing to the Israelis and each other.The words "little state' keep re-appearing in this debate . Would it be ok if israel was a "big state", like China (think Tibet and Urumqi) or Russia ( think Chechnia) And what exactly is the connection between Israel and Afghanistan ?

Margaret Pestorius said...

Its Shoalwater Bay! And I also welcome Werner's analysis and opinion. It is widespread. We found that some reservists inside the exercises had similar opinions. [Of course with 24000 troops - you'd find a variety of positions]

Now we need to think about how people can move from opinion to action. Our 'democratic representatives' don't care about opinions. Everyone can have one. Its embodied action that counts. For a start embodied action like those we have taken in Shoalwater, help us 'shed cloaks of fear' as Dan Berrigan said. Our MP's and their spokes people depend on us keeping these cloaks on, weighing us down with heat and sweat, so that we stay at home watching TV and adding to the layers of opinion...... I encourge you to Rise Up.
Thanks Werner.

CairnsBlog said...

Syd, thanks for your cross-posting and further info on your Blog
Fighting the war on war.