Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The three fallacies that have driven the war in Afghanistan

The case for escalating the war is based on premises that turn to dust on inspection

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"Is Barack Obama about to drive his Presidency into a bloody ditch strewn with corpses? The President is expected any day now to announce his decision about the future of the war in Afghanistan. He knows US and British troops have now been stationed in the hell-mouth of Helmand longer than the First and Second World Wars combined – yet the mutterings from the marble halls of Washington DC suggest he may order a troop escalation.

Obama has to decide now whether to side with the American people and the Afghan people calling for a rapid reduction in US force, or with a small military clique demanding a ramping-up of the conflict........

Argument One: We need to deprive al-Qa'ida of military bases in Afghanistan, or they will use them to plot attacks against us, and we will face 9/11 redux. In fact, virtually all the jihadi attacks against Western countries have been planned in those Western countries themselves, and required extremely limited technological capabilities or training. The 9/11 atrocities were planned in Hamburg and Florida by 19 Saudis.......In reality, there are almost no al-Qa'ida fighters in Afghanistan. That's not my view: it's that of General Jim Jones, the US National Security Advisor.....

Argument Two: By staying, we are significantly improving Afghan human rights, especially for women....The Taliban are indeed one of the vilest forces in the world, imprisoning women in their homes and torturing them for the "crimes" of showing their faces, expressing their sexuality, or being raped. They keep trying to murder my friend Malalai Joya for the "crime" of being elected to parliament on a platform of treating women like human beings not cattle.

But as she told me last month: "Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords." Outside Kabul, vicious Taliban who enforce sharia law have merely been replaced by vicious warlords who enforce sharia law. "The situation now is as catastrophic as it was under the Taliban for women," she said.........."

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