It was really disheartening watching the Republican presidential wannabes debating in Florida last Monday (1-23-12). Three of the four blithely told the American people that there was, with respect to the war in Afghanistan, no substitute for victory and they would not pull out until our ally, the Afghan army, was ready to take on the Taliban and protect the country on its own. Their implication was that Obama would pull out early because he is not up to the task of seeing U.S. through to victory. 

It has well been said that truth is the first casualty of war. The American people have been consistently misled about the war in Afghanistan-just as they have been about Iraq (we left behind a “democracy”), Vietnam, and every other war we have waged since the end of World War 2 (not excluding the Cold War). 

Let’s look at what is going on now in Afghanistan according to recent headlines in the New York Times (1-20-120). This front page headline should tell U.S. what is really going on vis-à-vis building up our “ally” the Afghan army: it reads, “Afghan Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces.” In fact so many U.S./NATO troops are being killed by our Afghan allies that NATO, after declaring this was a small insignificant problem, announced that it would no longer issue the statistics regarding the number of allied troops killed by Afghan soldiers! 

Let’s take a closer look at this story. The NYT got hold of a classified report by the U.S. side (“the coalition”-i.e., 80,000 U.S. troops and a smattering of others from NATO to create an international flavor) and, in a Wiki Leaks moment, decided to reveal its contents. It says the Afghan forces being trained by the U.S. side are killing more and more of the very coalition troops that are supposed to be training them as our allies. This is a symptom of the “contempt” with which the Americans and Afghans hold each other-“never mind the Taliban.” 

The increased violence against the U.S. forces by its own puppet army brings into doubt any future role the U.S. may have in the country and any hopes it may have of leaving behind a puppet army that will look out for its interests and be able to stop the Taliban. What is more, “the failure by coalition commanders to address” the violence and the deteriorating situation can only exasperate the problem. The U.S. does not want this to be a problem so it pretends that it is not. How can this work? 

The contempt that American troops have towards the Afghan people was demonstrated by the recent videos of U.S. troops urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban soldiers. While this was condemned by U.S. officials, the NYT reports that Facebook and chatrooms maintained by U.S. troops were “full of praise for the desecration”. This indicates that whatever the U.S. says officially, the actual environment in which our troops are operating is permeated with racism and even hatred for Afghans-the racism that permeates American society can’t be left behind when we go overseas. 

With respect to the increase in the killing of U.S. troops and their allies by members of the Afghan army, the Times reports that U.S. and NATO officials publicly downplay its significance by issuing press statements that the killings are “isolated incidents” or done by “disturbed individuals” or “Taliban infiltrators.” Not to worry! 

However, the secret report made by and for the coalition forces indicates that what our officials tell the press, for domestic consumption, is the opposite of the truth. The NYT quotes the report as follows: “Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history”). And the official statements “seem disingenuous, if not profoundly intellectually dishonest.” 

Did the secret report teach out military spokespeople anything? Well here is what Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings, U.S. spokesperson, had to say for public consumption, “incidents in the recent past where Afghan soldiers have wounded or killed I.S.A.F. [the American led International Security Assistance Force] members are isolated cases and are not occurring on a routine basis. We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships.” Then why order a report and then keep it secret? Personally, I don’t believe much from the Pentagon anyway; most everything they and NATO say is just lies to befool the American people-and they are very successful at least with Republican presidential candidates. 

What type of “Afghan personnel” do we get to join our puppet army in the first place? This is how an Afghan commander (an Afghan Army Colonel) describes his own troops, according to the NYT, they are “thieves, liars and drug addicts.” Not the best raw material to build an army to defend the “democratic gains” of the Afghan people with. These troops also don’t like our troops. The colonel added, “The sense of hatred is growing rapidly” because the Americans are “rude, arrogant bullies who use foul language.” 

The sooner we leave Afghanistan the better. How can we possibly think we can create a strong Afghan force when we don’t respect them and they don’t respect us? It is just another imperialist dream that ignores the world as it really is and operates on the assumption that the world you want to be in is the real world. It would be a great disaster for the American people, the Afghans, and everyone else for that matter for a Republican to take over the presidency this year and try and pursue the war in Afghanistan to “ultimate victory.”



Thomas Riggins
Thomas Riggins

Thomas Riggins has a background in philisophy, anthropology and archeology. He writes from New York, NY. Riggins was associate editor of Political Affairs magazine.