Monday, October 06, 2008

Afghanistan War

It's not a small thing that the US continues to make air strikes on civilian targets inside Pakistan. Late last week, another 16 were killed in such a strike. (16 Tote bei US-Angriff Frankruter Rundschau 04.10.2008)

Even if such strikes are killing actual "terrorists", they are highly problematic in terms of winning support or neutrality among local populations for the guerrillas. If the US government wants headlines about dead foreigners in military srikes on enemy territory, these strikes accomplish the purpose. In reality, what we are seeing in practice is the foolishness and irresponsibility of relying on air power to fight a counterinsurgency war.

European troops are still actively participating in the Afghanistan War, primarily for diplomatic reasons not directly connected to fighting transnational terrorism. They see that war as currently the main thing holding NATO together, which they want to do, if only to be able to exercise some restraint of American rogue-superpower policies.

Though France's conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy has expressed continuing support for the NATO intervention and sent additional troops, the war is highly unpopular. The German Budestag votes this week on whether to continue their participation there, which they will likely approve. But the political handwriting is on the wall.

Peter Ramsauer, chairman of the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) group in the Bundestag, which is part of Angela Merkel's Grand Coalition government, is calling for an exit strategy for German trops out of Afghanistan is "a foreseeable time". (CSU für neue Afghanistan-Strategie Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung 04.10.2008) He points to recent German military missions in Lebanon, Bosnia and the Congo as examples of the practicality of designing meaningful exit strategies.

Ramsauer urges Chancellor Merkel to push the US to rethink its strategy in Pakistan, as well. He believes the US has relied far too heavily on military aid, and that meaningful development aid in Pakistan is necessary to reduce the appeal of the Taliban in the border areas to Afghanistan. He also criticizes the German government's plans to undertake military operations against opium farmers in Afghanistan. „Das lässt sich nicht hinausbomben aus den afghanischen Provinzen".(That can't be bombed out of the Afghan provinces.)

José Ignacio Torreblanca points out in Perder la guerra buena 06.10.2008 that, based on the declared policies, either a McCain or Obama administration will press European nations including Spain to escalate their troop commitments in Afghanistan. He writes:

La guerra de Afganistán dura ya más que la Segunda Guerra Mundial y las perspectivas son cada vez más sombrías: el previsible incremento de las operaciones militares multiplicará incidentes como el de Azizabad, donde los bombardeos estadounidenses provocaron la masacre de casi cien civiles, lo que debilitará aún más la legitimidad de las fuerzas de Estados Unidos y de la OTAN ante los afganos.

[The Afghanistan War has already lasted longer than the Second World War and the perspectives are getting darker all the time: the provisional incremental increase in military operations will multiply incidents like that in Azizabad, where American bombing provoked the massacre of almost 100 civilians, which will debilitate even more the legtimacye of the forces of the United States and NATO to the Afghanis. (my emphasis)]

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