Replicating post-WW II
occupations is planned. Sixty-seven years after war's end, US troops
still occupy Germany, Japan and Korea. They're part of America's growing
empire of bases.
Status of forces (SOFA) agreements establish the framework under which
US forces operate abroad.
The Department of Defense Technical Information Center calls them agreements
"that defines the legal position of a 'visiting' military force deployed
in the territory of a friendly state."
They delineate "the status of visiting military forces (and) may be
bilateral or multilateral. Provisions pertaining to the status of visiting
forces may be set forth in a separate agreement, or they may form a
part of a more comprehensive agreement."
"These provisions describe how the authorities of a visiting force may
control members of that force and the amenability of the force or its
member to the local law or to the authority of local officials."
"To the extent that agreements delineate matters affecting the relations
between a military force and civilian authorities and population, they
may be considered as civil affairs agreements."
Occupied countries get little choice. Pentagon officials draft provisions.
They're largely one way.
In his book, "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End
of the Republic," Chalmers Johnson explained SOFAs as follows:
"America's foreign military enclaves, though structurally, legally,
and conceptually different from colonies, are themselves something like
microcolonies in that they are completely beyond the jurisdiction of
the occupied nation."
"The US virtually always negotiates a 'status of forces agreement' (SOFA)
with the ostensibly independent 'host' nation."
They're a modern day version of 19th century China's "extraterritoriality"
agreements. They granted foreigners charged with crimes the "right"
to be tried by his (or her) own government under his (or her) own national
Most SOFAs prevent local courts from exercising legal jurisdiction over
American personnel. Even those committing murder and rape are exempt
unless US officials yield to local authorities. Usually, offenders are
whisked out of countries before they ask.
America's total number of SOFAs is unknown. Most are secret. Some are
too embarrassing to reveal. America has hundreds of known, shared, and
secret bases in over 150 countries.
Johnson said they "usurp, distort, or subvert whatever institutions
of democratic (or other form of) government may exist with the host
Their presence assures trouble. It includes murder, rape, theft, drunken
driving, and other crimes. Locals also face unacceptable noise, pollution,
environmental destruction, appropriated public land, and US personnel
mindless of local laws, customs, and rights of ordinary people.
Locals lose control of their lives. They have no say. They have virtually
no chance for redress. They're most harmed when occupations are permanent.
Besides elsewhere, America came to Iraq and Afghanistan to stay. Permanency
is planned on city-sized super bases. They're not build to be abandoned.
They have extensive infrastructure, command and control centers, accommodations
for families in combat-free areas, hospitals, schools, recreational
facilities, and virtually everything found back home.
In early 2011, Afghan puppet leader Karzai confirmed Washington's plan
to stay, despite agreeing on a "transition strategy" to transfer control
to Afghan forces by 2014.
US troop withdrawals are planned. Iraq numbers were reduced. Thousands
will remain in both countries. Locals have no sovereignty. America stays
in control. Drone and ground force killing will continue.
Tens of thousands of private military contractors supplement military
forces. Their skills range from technical to hired guns like Blackwater
(now called Academi) and DynCorp.
Last year, Obama said US troop drawdowns will exit thousands. Afghan
forces will replace them. America's mission will shift from "combat
to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete...."
False! US permanency is planned. November elections drive Obama's duplicity
to say one thing and plan another. During an unannounced Kabul visit,
he addressed a US television audience from Bagram Air Base.
He did what he does best. He lied, saying he came to Kabul to herald
a new era in US/Afghanistan relations. He called it "future in which
war ends, and a new chapter begins."
Unless America's occupation ends, war will continue for years. Election
year politics explains his claim about US forces out by 2014. He lied
"My fellow Americans, we've traveled through more than a decade under
the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan,
we can see the light of new day on the horizon."
"One year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched
the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal I set — to defeat
Al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach."
The alleged bin Laden killing was theater, not real. In December 2001,
he died naturally. His death was reported at the time. Even US media
Explosions rocked Kabul shortly after Obama's brief visit. Taliban forces
claimed responsibility. Reports said at least seven died. Others were
injured. Resistance fighters showed disdain for Obama's "enduring partnership."
He came at night. He and Karzai met after midnight. A signing ceremony
followed. It excluded "a new chapter" marked by "mutual respect."
US media media ignored what foreign ones reported. Among others, London's
Telegraph headlined "US troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024,"
Obama's strategic pact provides for US trainers, "special forces and
air power to remain." Handing over control to Afghan ones conceals permanent
Karzai's top security advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, said America's
long-term presence is needed. "In the Afghan proposal, we are talking
about 10 years from 2014, but this is under discussion."
Russia's Kabul ambassador, Andrey Avetisyan, said:
"Afghanistan needs many other things apart from the permanent presence
of some countries. It needs economic help and it needs peace. Military
bases are not a tool for peace."
"I don’t understand why such bases are needed. If the job is done, if
terrorism is defeated and peace and stability are brought back, then
why would you need bases?"
"If the job is not done, then several thousand troops, even special
forces, will not be able to do the job that 150,000 troops couldn’t
do. It is not possible."
America came to stay. Afghans want them out. A recipe for protracted
conflict persists. Another decade of war may follow. In 2001, who thought
one was possible. It's America's longest war.
An unnamed European diplomat said:
"Never in history has any superpower spent so much money, sent so many
troops to a country, and had so little influence over what its president
says and does."
Pakistan has reason to be concerned. It was dragged into a war it didn't
want. It's own territory is violated. US drones fly regular kill missions.
Public anger grows.
On April 12, its parliament unanimously approved conditions for future
US/Pakistan relations. They include ending drone attacks and apologizing
for killing 24 Pakistan troops last November. Washington offers neither.
Stalemate and tense relations remain.
America's war shows no signs of ending. All it achieved is more war.
Conflict won't end until America's gone. Washington won't leave. Karzai
serves dutifully as puppet leader. Afghans hate him. Ethnic leaders
and Taliban fighters want him ousted. He wouldn't 10 minutes if unprotected.
On April 4, former Reagan Assistant Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb's
Politico article headlined "Time to let Hamid Karzai kick us out of
US leaders are "much better at starting wars than ending them satisfactorily....No
matter how long we stay, we cannot control the future of Afghanistan."
Soviet Russia learned the hard way. So did other occupiers. For centuries,
Afghanistan's been their graveyard. Washington ignores reality. Declining
public support doesn't matter. Unless Congress ends funding, expect
protracted war to continue.
A Final Comment
A May 1 The New York Times editorial headlined "Missed Chance," saying:
Obama's Afghanistan speech "squandered the chance to fully explain his
exit strategy from a war Americans are desperate to see brought to an
Hyperbole substituted for truth and full disclosure. Obama didn't disclose
an end game because he has none. America came to stay. Foreign media
report what The Times ignored.
Most Americans want war in Afghanistan ended. Complacency and indifference
describe them, not desperation.
"Obama repeated his commitment that American combat troops would be
withdrawn by the end of 2014 and that Afghan troops would be ready"
well in advance to replace them.
As London's Telegraph and other foreign media reported, America came
to stay. Plans are being finalized to leave US combat forces in place
"We have long supported the war in Afghanistan as a painful but necessary
fight to ensure that Al Qaeda does not again have a major launching
pad for attacking the United States."
Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11. It never threatened America
and wouldn't now if US occupation ended. America's war is lawless. Neither
the Security Council or Congress authorized it.
International law is clear. No nation may attack another except in self-defense.
America hasn't fought a legal war since WW II. It hasn't either won
one since then.
Al Qaeda is a US creation. Forces were recruited to fight Soviet troops
in Afghanistan. Thereafter, it's served strategically as enemy and ally.
Hillary Clinton acknowledged their elements supporting Washington's
The longer fighting continues in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other US war
theaters, the stronger its ranks grow. Washington likely prefers it.
It needs enemies to wage wars. Peace, calm and stability prevent them.
America needs "some presence....to keep pummeling Al Qaeda and the Taliban
on either side of the Pakistan-Afghan border. That longer-term commitment
also sends an important message to Afghans that Washington" won't cut
Afghans despise Washington. They want occupation forces out. Pakistan's
also fed up for good reason. Ties to America and protracted war produced
destabilization, pain, and no gain.
Obama "made far more progress" than Bush. “His strongest argument for
staying in Afghanistan for another two years is that it is the main
base for continuing that fight and that, by 2014, the United States
will be able to withdraw without seeing it turn once again into a haven
for Al Qaeda. He didn't make the case Tuesday night."
Resolving Afghanistan's conflict is no closer today than years earlier.
Some observers believe conditions now are worse than ever. Obama inherited
a quagmire and worsened it.
The longer Afghan fighting continues, the stronger Al Qaeda gets. Obama
claiming US forces "devastated" its leadership is duplicitous political
posturing. He didn't make the case Tuesday night because he has none.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News
Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time
and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy