Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Afghanistan - Ten Years Of Solid Gold Bullshit

So, Wikileaks dumps a load of documents revealing what we all knew - that we're losing an unwinnable war, using extremely unsavoury and hyperviolent methods in the process. We learn that we little understand the enemy and can, without too much effort, surmise that we have no clear plan for victory.

Further, we get final confirmation that we're rubbing out hundreds of civilians per year, possibly thousands - our governments can't guess how many men, women and children our armed forces are killing and frankly, they show little sign of caring. When questioned, their stock response is that our deranged enemies kill far more than we do. This none-too-sly evasion is generally received as if it were a fair point, rather than a travesty.

Civilian casualties are regretted, but expected. The President of the United States' plan, endorsed by our own government, is to continue doing exactly what we've been doing and to keep our fingers crossed for a favourable outcome.

Let me put that in plain English: we acknowledge that it is impossible to fight this war in Afghanistan without killing large numbers of civilians, but we do not intend to stop fighting and withdraw. Mass casualties are an inseparable and accepted outcome of UK/US military strategy, and we intend to follow that strategy for the forseeable future.

The next time a predator drone strike rubs out a houseful of women and children, we might call it upsetting or unfortunate, but we can't credibly claim that it was unexpected.

And yet, knowing all the above as well as I do... Having the attention spans of pot-smoking fruit flies and possessing a crocodilian talent for keeping their eyes on the prey, various pundits now inform us - apparently in all seriousness - that we should be outraged that this leak may jeopardise civilian lives.

Let's put this bluntly, shall we?

Afghan civilian deaths caused by the ongoing war: 10,000? 15,000? We don't know, we don't care to count and we don't intend to stop any time soon.

Afghan civilian deaths caused by Wikileaks: 0.

Let's recall why NATO forces are in Afghanistan in the first place. In October 2001, following the worst, mass casualty terrorist attacks ever broadcast live on television, the United States declared that it would invade Afghanistan, drive out the dominant militia and capture the 9/11 attackers' leaders.

Half-achieving that goal with relative ease by bribing, arming and providing air support to local warlords and drug barons, an international coalition then plopped thousands of heavily armed soldiers into Kabul and announced that... they would be staying indefinitely!

Ostensibly, this was to facilitate the painting of some schools, the education of some little girls and the transformation of a fractious, narcotics-riddled, tribal war zone into a modern liberal democratic state, amongst other simple, straightforward and laudible goals. And so, the Afghans settled down to the long project of creating the world's most corrupt political and economic system under the watchful gaze of it's most awesome military.

In the interim, ourselves and the Americans saw fit to launch a disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq for reasons that made no sense whatsoever, and then presided impotently over its meltdown into a horrific sectarian civil war.

When some measure of order was finally and bloodily restored, as death squads attached to our allies threatened to entirely exterminate the rebellious population among their countrymen, allowing us to bribe our former enemies to our side, the United States declared this method Good and vowed to export it to Afghanistan, where...

...Almost a decade later, our once-defeated foes were miraculously back and ten times as ferocious as ever, spitting bullets and chopping heads. For our part, we have intentionally and massively expanded the country's war into the territory of its nuclear armed neighbour.

Somehow, this reformed "Taliban" are able to resupply themselves with men and materiel in some of the most rugged terrain on Earth, a region in which a donkey can't fart without being monitored by billions of dollars worth of spy satellites and drones.

They're able to move freely within a population that reputedly hates and fears them and are now stalemating a superpower and its allies in a country that has already defeated and contributed to the downfall of the world's only other superpower within living memory.

I look at this sorry mess and I try to draw some kind of lesson, be it military, moral or political, but find myself constantly returning to the same question...

What the fuck are we doing in Afghanistan?

Whatever, you guys. One thing we all know for sure is that those Wikileaks guys, well Jesus, they sure are irresponsible.

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