Gates Promises Escalation,“Protracted Fight” in Afghanistan


By Kenneth J. Theisen
December 11, 2008 the secretary of war Robert Gates stated that he hopes to send more than 10,000 US combat troops to Afghanistan by the middle of 2009. This would bring U.S. troop levels to more than 50,000. Currently there are an additional 35,000 international troops in the country, mostly from NATO countries.
Gates is one of the Bush regime’s top henchmen in the so-called war of terror and Obama has announced that he will keep him on as his war chief. Gates made his announcement while he was visiting a NATO base outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. 

During his visit, Gates said the US viewed the country as "a protracted fight" and said the U.S. would remain in the country until successful. In what is bad news for the people of Afghanistan, Gates announced that the U.S. mission will expand significantly, and that more resources and troops would be coming from the international community.



He also announced plans to increase the size of Afghanistan’s army of puppet troops. The present army has about 80,000 personnel. The Afghan National Police force has about 82,000 officers. The army is expected to grow to 134,000 over the next four years, while the police force has nearly reached its intended cap. But Gates advocated lifting the internationally mandated cap and expanding the police force even more.
In January a U.S. combat brigade is scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan. Gates stated that President-elect Barack Obama has said he wants more troops and resources sent to Afghanistan and Gates stated that he hopes to send two more brigades to Afghanistan by late spring. Appearing with Gates at the NATO base was US Army General David McKiernan, commander of NATO forces and most US troops in Afghanistan. McKiernan has asked for three additional combat brigades, in addition to the one slated to deploy in January. He also stated he needs the troops “sooner than later.”
In his visit Gates criticized the United Nations and the European Union for not doing more in Afghanistan. He said, "I think it's a real concern that the United States is having to bear a disproportionate part of the burden."
Both during his campaign and since his election Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged to make Afghanistan one of his top priorities in his new administration. He has pledged to deploy additional combat troops and military resources to that nation. The U.S. invaded and occupied Afghanistan in late 2001. Since then thousands of civilians have become “collateral damage” in the U.S. war of aggression. The country has been ravaged and the main export of the country has been opium.
During his visit Gates made an ominous statement. In perhaps a foreshadowing of an even greater escalation and devastation he said, "The Soviets couldn't win in Afghanistan with 120,000 troops and they clearly didn't care about civilian casualties, so I think we have to think about the longer term in this." Is the future Obama administration contemplating sending even more troops than have been previously discussed?
One thing that Obama has emphasized in the past is for the U.S. to better use the resources of its allies. Even under Bush, the U.S. has been pushing NATO and other allies to increase the number of troops and resources they send to Afghanistan. It is expected that Obama will continue and even step up pressure on U.S. allies to deploy more forces to Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton, as Obama’s Secretary of State, will undoubtedly be asking U.S. allies to make greater efforts to assist the U.S. in the war.
We can also expect an increase in propaganda from the Obama administration telling the American people that the fight in Afghanistan is the “good war” in the “war on terrorism.” The Bush regime used the excuse of the 9/11 attacks to justify its 2001 invasion. It claimed it was attacking the bases of al Qaeda, the alleged perpetrators of the attacks and their backers, the Taliban. But the real U.S. intention was to control a strategic country in its attempt to achieve hegemony in the world. Just like the WMDs were used as an excuse to invade Iraq, the elimination of terrorists was used as the excuse to invade and occupy Afghanistan. But despite the fact that the U.S. has occupied Afghanistan for more than seven years it has been unsuccessful in asserting control over the entire country. 
The people of Afghanistan, particularly women, were promised “peace and prosperity” by the U.S. But instead they have seen death and destruction. Women in the country are no better off than they were under the reactionary Taliban rule. Eighty-seven percent of women are illiterate; 70 percent of girls do not attend school; one-third of Afghan women experience physical, sexual and psychological violence; average life expectancy for women is 44 years; and 70-80 percent of women faced forced marriage. Even wedding parties have been the scenes of mass casualties as U.S. forces have attacked mass gatherings. 
Many peasants are forced to cultivate opium poppies in order to survive. And as bad as Taliban rule was, many Afghans have turned to them for protection from the rampant violence in the country. Many parts of the country are dominated by drug and warlords. Millions are still refugees. And the war still ravages in the country seven years after the U.S. invasion.

We can not let the leaders of this country, whether they are in the Bush regime, or in the new Obama administration, deceive us into accepting the war in Afghanistan. It was illegitimate when the U.S. invaded in 2001 and continues to be so in 2008. It will not become legitimate on January 20, 2009 just because Obama takes office. It is an imperialist war, not a “good war” and we have to oppose it and demand its end and oppose any attempts at escalation. The people of Afghanistan are dying and will die in increasing numbers unless we stop the war. Anything less than an end to the war is not acceptable.


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