- Ahead of his address to the nation on December 1, The
New York Times broke the news in an Eric Schmitt article titled, "Obama
Issues Order for More Troops in Afghanistan," saying:
- During a late November 29 Oval Office meeting with top
Pentagon brass, "Obama issued orders to send about 30,000 additional
American troops to Afghanistan (over the next six months in) what may be
one of the most defining decisions of his presidency." Compounding
months of public betrayal, it's perhaps another outrage that will make
him a one-term president, the way Vietnam ended Lyndon Johnson's hope for
a second term.
- An additional 30,000+ will raise US forces to about 100,000
plus whatever additional numbers NATO countries provide that at best will
be small and come grudgingly for a war no one believes can be won, and
some feel never should have been waged.
- To these numbers, add a shadow footprint consisting of
tens of thousands of private contractors - 73,968 according to a September
21, 2009 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report as of June 2009. Included
are familiar names like Kellogg, Brown and Root, Fluor Corp, Lockheed Martin
and hired guns like DynCorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater USA) costing tens
of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan for lack of oversight so
scandalous that rampant waste, fraud, and abuse go unmonitored and will
worsen with more troops.
- In addition, CRS reports that supporting each soldier
costs $1 million a year, partly because private contractors replaced US
troops at a far higher expense plus no oversight giving them license to
steal for over eight years and do it as well in Iraq. Yet policy going
forward will worsen things and greatly increase costs, already over-stretched
by America's largest ever military budget at a time the country has no
- Worse still, besides earlier in the year reinforcements,
more buildup "represents a high-stakes gamble by a new commander in
chief that he can turn....an eight-year old" quagmire into victory,
a possibility many in the Pentagon think unlikely to impossible and other
- According to Schmitt, Obama will test "his ability
to rally an American public that according to polls has grown sour on the
war, as well as (vice president Joe Biden and) his fellow Democracts in
Congress" - like Senator Carl Levin, Armed Services Committee chairman,
as well as Colin Powell, and his Afghan ambassador, Karl Eikenberry.
- On condition of anonymity, a senior Defense Department
official told The Times that "the first additional troops would be
thousands of Marines sent to opium-rich Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold
in the south....(They'll begin arriving) in January (to be) followed by
a steady flow of tens of thousands."
- A November 25 Washington Post Scott Wilson article titled,
"War speech to outline escalation and exit" strategies will "outline
plans for ending it. (He'll) outline a modest endgame (to) allow US forces
to leave and set a general time frame" in 2011, according to some,
and after what's announced, beginning in July 2011, over a decade after
American forces arrived.
- Timelines are always flexible, and Obama hedged by saying
withdrawal depends on "conditions on the ground," with further
interventions likely because "The struggle against violent extremism
will not be finished quickly. (It) extends well beyond Afghanistan and
Pakistan," meaning Iran, Somalia, and perhaps Venezuela, Bolivia,
Ecuador and/or Cuba, given the Pentagon's growing presence in Colombia
as a regional garrison for waging hemispheric conflicts.
- Yet he said America can't afford and shouldn't shoulder
an open-ended commitment - which, among others, begs these questions:
- -- besides the situation in Iraq, why are we in Afghanistan
at all; and
- -- why for an unwinnable, illegal war over-stretching
the federal budget toward bankruptcy while ignoring vital homeland needs.
- Also, opposition is increasing, including among congressional
Democrats. The situation is unstable and much depends on uncontrollable
factors and a growing conviction that after eight years, the war is lost
and withdrawal, not escalation is advised.
- Others fear imperial madness, perpetual wars, the illusion
of Pax Americana, and the nation transitioning toward tyranny, already
entrenched with a strong foothold, but who'll tell the public when the
media won't, and everyone knows politicians lie, especially the president
and others with power.
- Nonetheless, Obama told West Point cadets he'll "bring
this war to a successful conclusion," and added:
- "America, we are passing through a time of great
trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be
clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering....If I did not think
that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people
were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of
our troops home tomorrow" - while telling foreign allies: "This
is not just America's war."
- Fact Check
- Planned a year or more in advance, America willfully,
maliciously, illegally, and preemptively attacked a non-belligerent nation
(four weeks after 9/11 on October 7) in violation of international and
US laws. Those responsible are war criminals. Those continuing it, including
congressional members funding it, are as well. Those claiming America's
security was threatened lied. It wasn't then. It's not now, and international
and US laws are clear.
- The UN Charter's Article 51 allows the "right of
individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against
a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international
peace and security."
- In other words, justifiable self-defense is permissible.
In addition, Charter Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit any
unilateral threat or use of force not specifically allowed under Article
51 or authorized by the Security Council.
- Three General Assembly resolutions concur, absolutely
prohibiting "non-consensual military intervention:"
- -- the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention
in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence
- -- the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International
Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance
with the Charter of the United Nations; and
- -- the 1974 Definition of Aggression, drawing largely
on the UN Charter's Article II, paragraph 4 stating:
- "All members shall refrain in their international
relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity
or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent
with the Purposes of the United Nations."
- Aggression was defined:
- -- a "crime against peace;"
- -- the "Invasion of a State by the armed forces
of another State, with or without occupation of the territory; (and)
- -- attacks on marine fleets."
- The UN Charter's Article 39 provides for the Security
Council to determine the existence of any act of aggression and "shall
make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance
with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and
- The Rome Statute of the International Court of Justice
calls the crime of aggression one of the "most serious crimes of concern
to the international community," and provides for it to fall under
the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after state
parties agree on a definition and define the conditions under which guilty
parties may be prosecuted.
- The Nuremberg Tribunal said:
- "To initiate a war of aggression....is not only
an international crime; it is the supreme international crime (against
peace) differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within
itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
- Under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause (Article VI,
paragraph 20), the Constitution, federal statutes, and US treaties are
"the supreme law of the land," including international laws (like
Geneva) to which America is a signatory. The paragraph reads:
- "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States
which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which
shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby,
any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding."
- US law is also clear and unequivocal. Under the Constitution's
Article I, Section 8, only Congress may:
- -- "....provide for the common defense and general
welfare of the United States....
- -- ....declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal,
and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
- -- "....provide and maintain a navy;
- -- ....make rules for the government and regulation of
the land and naval forces;
- -- ....provide for calling forth the militia to execute
the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; (and)
- --....provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining,
the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in
the service of the United States...."
- Nowhere does it authorize a preemptive, imperial, aggressive
attack on a non-belligerent nation.
- The Founders considered declaring and waging wars so
important that no single person, including the president, should decide
- Congress last obeyed the law on December 8, 1941, the
day after Pearl Harbor. Thereafter, every US war was illegal, according
to the Constitution of the United States. By continuing such wars, President
Obama stands guilty of war crimes and is fully accountable under US and
- Further, under Article I, Section 7, only Congress may
fund wars as:
- "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in
the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with
amendments as on other Bills."
- Either body may originate appropriation bills, although
the House claims sole responsibility for it. Either one may amend bills,
including revenue and appropriation measures. Congress may resist defunding,
but it's empowered to withhold future amounts without which wars and occupations
aren't possible so the current ones would end.
- Congressional appropriation power is key under Article
I, Section 9, Clause 7 saying:
- "No money shall be drawn from the treasury; and
a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public
money shall be published from time to time."
- It means Congress alone has constitutional power over
the federal budget, including the funding of wars. Cut it off and wars
and occupations end, with or without presidential concurrence.
- After years of congressional inaction, the 1972 Church-Clifford
amendment, attached to foreign aid legislation, tried to end Southeast
Asian war funding, but it was defeated in the House. However, the June
1973 Church-Case amendment succeeded after earlier attempts failed, and
ended America's involvement in Vietnam. In the same year, over Richard
Nixon's veto, Congress passed the War Powers Act (still the law) requiring
the president to consult with Congress before authorizing troop deployments
for extended periods.
- Without congressional collusion, wars can't be fought
or continued. The 111th Congress and most previous ones have been complicit
in America's aggressive wars and share equal guilt with the president and
top Pentagon brass. Ending wars politically are daunting, but doing so
financially is as simple as cutting off funding.
- Afghanistan's Tragic History: Ravaged by Wars Without
- For centuries, Afghanistan has been war-torn and ravaged
by invaders, yet endured by repeatedly repelling them - more recently against
Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the Soviets in the 1980s.
Today imperial America risks the same fate after eight failed years, yet
those in power won't act because of Afghanistan's strategic importance
and fear of strong repercussions from an opposition looking for reasons
- As a result, Afghans keep suffering the way John Pilger
poignantly described under conditions there in his 2006 book, "Freedom
Next Time, saying:"
- "Throughout all the humanitarian crises in living
memory, no country has been abused and suffered more, and none helped less
than Afghanistan." He described Kabul like many parts of the country
today, plagued by "contours of rubble rather than streets, where people
live in collapsed buildings, like earthquake victims waiting for rescue
(with) no light....heat," or relief from perpetual wars and human
misery, the result of imperial invasions and internal conflicts.
- Over time, the toll has been horrific:
- -- unemployment is around 50%;
- -- impoverishment is among the highest in the world affecting
nearly two-thirds of the country;
- -- in October 2008, spokesman for the UN mission in Kabul,
Adrian Edwards, told the BBC that:
- "The human conditions in Afghanistan are very serious.
Continuous insecurity, drought and booming food prices on the world level
are the main cause for the emergence of this situation but the condition
in the future months is not tangible. There is no doubt that people are
in dire need of food."
- -- conditions today are no better and perhaps worse;
- -- those with jobs don't earn enough to meet minimal
- -- life expectancy at 44 years is one of the lowest in
- -- the infant mortality rate is the world's highest with
20% of children dying before age five;
- -- an Afghan woman dies in childbirth every 30 minutes;
- -- 75% of the population has no access to safe drinking
- -- homelessness is epidemic forcing many to live under
- -- only one doctor is available per 6,000 people and
one nurse per 2,500 people;
- -- unexploded ordnance kills or wounds hundreds each
month, a situation worsening as conflict persists;
- -- children are kidnapped and sold into slavery or murdered
for their organs;
- -- less than 6% of Afghans have access to electricity,
available only sporadically;
- -- women's literacy is about 19%, and many have to beg
on streets or turn to prostitution to survive.
- In addition, no part of the country is safe. Internal
conflict rages. Life for most Afghans is intolerable, and accounting for
around 60% of its economy, Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer.
- On September 2, 2009, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime
reported that opium cultivation dropped to 123,000 hectares, down from
the 2007 193,000 hectare peak. However, production fell only 10% to 6,900
tons from 2008 because farmers get more yield per bulb. At the same time,
world demand is stable at around 5,000 tons, much less than Afghanistan
supplies. In contrast, prior to America's invasion, the Taliban eradicated
94% of opium production, reducing it to 185 tons according to UN figures.
- Under eight years of occupation, it again flourishes,
mostly benefitting organized crime, the CIA, and powerful Western business
and financial interests, in America most of all.
- Also, in its latest 2009 report, Transparency International
ranks Afghanistan the world's second most corrupt country after Somalia
under its US-backed Transitional Federal Government and African Union paramilitary
peacekeepers. Occupied Iraq ranks fifth, further testimony to imperialism's
exploitive failure and its harm to targeted countries.
- Meanwhile, since Afghan commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal,
took charge of US and NATO forces last June, he's favored more troops for
a wider war he can't win using similar tactics he was infamous for as head
of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) - established
in 1980 and comprised of the Army's Delta Force and Navy seals, de facto
death squads writer Seymour Hersh once described as an "executive
assassination wing" operating out of Dick Cheney's office.
- While escalating the Afghan war, he's also destabilizing
Pakistan to balkanize both countries, weakening them by design to control
the Caspian Sea's oil and gas riches and their energy routes to secured
ports for export. The strategy includes encircling Russia, China, and Iran,
obstructing their solidarity and cohesion, toppling the Iranian government,
perhaps attacking its nuclear sites, eliminating Israel's main regional
rival, defusing a feared geopolitical alliance, and securing the ultimate
goal of unchallenged Eurasian dominance in a part of the world rich in
oil, gas and other vital minerals.
- It's a huge task for any commander, let alone a man James
Petras calls a "notorious psychopath" who's perhaps the right
man to pin failure on if things go sour or if popular discontent reaches
critical mass, forcing withdrawal like from Vietnam. Blame it on the general,
not the commander-in-chief who appointed him who may not get off easily,
nor should he given an ill-chosen strategy cooler heads want to avoid,
but not vocal hawks who demand he press on no matter the long odds or overstretched
the budget, threatening bankruptcy because of its unaffordability combined
with bailing out Wall Street and other obligations.
- The die is cast. Escalation is now fact by a man promising
change, delivering betrayal, and seeing his approval rating fall from a
68% late January high to 47% according to the December 1 Rasmussen Report,
a number steadily falling because growing numbers of supporters are losing
faith. Heading into 2010, the combination of economic hardship, eroding
civil liberties, and wasted billions on futile wars promises to raise public
discontent and disapproval of a president and Congress they no longer trust.
What's disturbing is why they did in the first place.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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