Saturday, October 8, 2011


Muted commemorations this weekend as the United-States marks the 10th anniversary of the start of hostilities in Afghanistan; a conflict which has cost thousands of lives and more than a trillion dollars. Sadly there is a growing list of experts who fear the country could be sliding back towards the kind of civil war which led to the radical Islamic regime of the Taliban after the Russian pull-out of a similar misadventure signalled the ultimate demise of the Soviet Union two decades ago.
It was all so predictable: In "The Daily Telegraph" of London this weekend Britain's former ambassador to Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, says it's a fantasy to think the war in Afghanistan is being won. He writes that military operations will not cure the underlying disease which has hobbled the region. It's pretty well clear that no one, least of all our American allies, have expectations of remaining for another decade, though that may be the stark reality they face. The 'Telegraph' quotes former United-States Commander in Afghanistan, Retired General Stanley McChrystal, who says that America and its allies are a "little better than" halfway towards their goals in the war. Even the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose despicably corrupt regime has been propped-up for years by the United-States and the NATO allies (including Canada), says the mission has done..."terribly badly in providing security to the Afghan people and this is the greatest shortcoming of our government and of our international partners." No wonder that in Afghanistan this weekend the morbid anniversary is passing without commemoration by neither the government nor NATO and saddest of all, nor by the 140,000 foreign ground troops who are still stationed on the front lines. In a published report, "Jane's" the internationally respected defence publisher notes clearly that the future of Afghanistan will still "hang in the balance" after the planned departure of allied combat forces by the end of 2014. That's in sharp contrast to President Obama who yesterday told a gathering at the Whitehouse that the United-States is "responsibly ending today's wars from a position of strength." He made the remarks while honouring the military who've made the ultimate sacrifice since President George W. Bush launched the war against the Taliban regime after the Al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001.

In Providence, Rhode-Island meantime, researchers at Brown University say at least 33,877 people - foreign and Afghan troops, civilians, insurgents and others have died as a result of the conflict. The American Pentagon puts the cost of its own operations at $323.2 billion exclusive of costs borne by its NATO partners including Canada. Our Department of National Defence claims the cost so far has been $11.3 billion. Others have claimed that it's (in fact) closer to $22 billion. Canada engaged in the Afghan conflict in February 2002. It took on battle operations in August of 2003 with Operation Athena. History will show that it was a simplistic effort by the Liberal Government of Jean Chretien to abate American anger at our decision to stay out of President Bush's "coalition of the willing" in Iraq.

Buoyed by the initial success of the American military in routing the Taliban extremists from government in Afghanistan, the Bush Administration lost interest and quickly changed its focus to Iraq; leaving the hapless NATO allies (including Canada) to "clean-up" the Taliban's mess in Afghanistan. The problem is (and it continues to be): That while America's virtual carpet bombing of Kabul, Kandahar and other strategic targets in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks crumbled the Taliban regime - It scattered its supporters and fighters into the hills bordering Pakistan where in the decade since they've transformed from a rag-tag group of guerrilla fighters into a well disciplined and very patient militia. The irony is: That the United-States surreptitiously financed the Taliban insurgency against the Soviets two decades ago, and it continues to support (to the tune of billions of dollars each year) the Pakistani overlords who now protect them.

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