NYT La-La Land on Afghanistan

August 1, 2013   ·   0 Comments

Source: NYTX

Above: U.S. soldiers stuck in sand in Southern Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. military)

By Michael M’Gehee:

In Matthew Rosenberg’s recent article “Despite Gains, Leader of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Says Troops Must Stay” (July 29, 2013) he offers New York Times readers this lead paragraph:

Afghan forces are now leading the fight here. They managed an air assault last week, for example, and they may be winning the respect of the Afghan people. But the bottom line for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is simple: Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come.

Of course, the phrase “Afghan forces” is Washington-speak for the Northern Alliance, which is a motley group of tribal leaders, and terrorists in their own right.

But the Northern Alliance “may be winning the respect of the Afghan people”?

After nearly twelve years of war and occupation the very people the Northern Alliance claim to be liberating and representing have not given them popular support.

On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks the Washington Post reported that the Taliban “controls more than 90 percent of the country.”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Before its ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001, the Taliban controlled some 90 percent of Afghanistan’s territory.”

After twelve years of war and occupation the Taliban are just as strong as they were from the outset, if not stronger.

Perhaps that is why Rosenberg tells us what “the bottom line” for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is: “Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come.”

Not all in the media believe this.

Last month the BBC said “it has become increasingly clear to Nato that it cannot win militarily against the insurgents.”

When the U.S., who has an extreme advantage over the Taliban militarily, can make no major advancements in twelve years and the  government still does not have “the respect of the Afghan people” it is hard to believe that “the problem” is that “most Americans no longer seem to believe that the United States needs the war in Afghanistan.”

Of course it does not help that from the beginning the Afghan people have opposed the war.

In October 2001, just as millions of Afghans were braving American bombardment, a thousand tribal leaders trekked to Peshawar, Pakistan where they meet to discuss their future. Peshawar was a popular place for the Mujahadeen to meet, and so the timing and place of this meeting proved to be historically significant.

USA Today covered the meeting in an article which said, “Some came over the mountains from Afghanistan on donkeys, some by sport-utility vehicle from plush villas in Pakistan. Some hobbled in, having lost a leg during two decades of unending war.” Hope for “a post-Taliban government” was running high, though it was stressed that, “Getting Afghanistan’s fractious groups to form a broad-based, post-Taliban government won’t be easy.” The only forces who did not show up were those that were aligning with the U.S.: the Northern Alliance and Zahir Shah, the exiled king. Yet:

Speakers at the conference sounded nearly identical themes. All opposed the US bombing campaign against Afghanistan, saying it was doing more to hurt ordinary Afghans than to unseat the Taliban leadership or to damage bin Laden’s al-Qa’eda terrorist network. Nearly all said they want to see a broad-based government replace the Taliban. A few said there is a place for moderate members of the Taliban in a new regime.

Ignoring the conference, the U.S. carried out a massive bombing campaign, right at the beginning of winter (which put millions of Afghans in critical danger). At the time it was reported that, “International aid organization officials say, however, that around 5 million Afghans are in danger of starvation because the nation’s borders are sealed and food supplies are diminishing by the day — meaning that only a tiny percentage of the hungry are receiving the U.S. food.”

In fact, even months after the war and the Taliban was toppled, U.S. authorities were admitting they did not know who was behind the terror attacks that was argued to be the legal and moral basis for the war and occupation of Afghanistan. FBI Director Robert Mueller told the press in June 2002 that, “I think we’re confident that [bin Laden] was one of the key figures,” and that, “We think the masterminds of it were in Afghanistan.” U.S. authorities only “think” they know who was involved or behind the attacks eight months after they began bombing the country and subjecting an already impoverished people to more hardships.

Naturally, all of this is ignored by Rosenberg. But to make matters worse, we read that for General Dunford, Al Qaeda is “the reason the United States came to Afghanistan .”

Here Rosenberg fails to mention how the Taliban made numerous offers to the U.S. to turnover bin Laden. While some requests asked for proof of his involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks—a reasonable thing to ask for in all extradition requests—some offered to turn him over to a third party if the U.S. would stop the bombing. The Bush administration rejected the offers (see here and here).

Then there is the fact that the U.S. is responsible for sending bin Laden, and thus Al Qaeda, to Afghanistan. Former CIA agent, Milt Bearden wrote in the New York Times back in August of 1999 that, “Washington should open a serious dialogue with the Taliban, who are as eager to rid themselves of their bin Laden problem as we are to bring him to justice,” and that:

After all, Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan because we insisted that the Sudanese expel him from the Horn of Africa in 1996. Had he stayed in the Sudan, it can be argued that he, like the terrorist Carlos the Jackal, would by now have been quietly spirited away and be sitting in jail.

And here is another bombshell that the New York Times has yet to cover: according to The Christian Science Monitor, “The US military has been ignoring warnings that its spending in Afghanistan is funding Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

What are NYT readers to make of a situation in which no gains have been made in twelve years of war, in which the Afghan people don’t “respect” us or our allies, where even the BBC says it is hopeless, and where our own spending is going to the very groups we claim to be fighting? That’s right: they cannot make anything of the situation because apparently that is not “all the news fit to print.”


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