Monday, June 23, 2014

The War on Terror and Crimes in Afghanistan

The War on Terror and Crimes in Afghanistan
P. Schultz
June 23, 2014

            I am currently reading an interesting book entitled No Good Men Among the Living, by Anand Gopal, which is about Afghanistan and especially about how the war on terror was conducted there after 9/11 by the United States. It makes for some interesting reading.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the American failure in Afghanistan was due to the invasion of Iraq and the lack of attention and military commitment in Afghanistan, Gopal argues that that failure was due to the fact that the Americans did not understand Afghani society, including the Taliban. For example, after the Americans arrived they helped turn Kandahar Airfield, KAF, in a center for Amerian operatons in southern Afghanistan. And as they did this, they turned to an Afghani, Gul Agha Sherzai, an anti-Taliban warlord, for help. As Gopal puts it:

“With Sherzai’s services, the cracked and cratered airstrip blossomed into a massive, sprawling military base, home to one of the world’s busiest airports. KAF would grow into a key hub in Washington’s global war on terror, housing top secret black-ops command rooms and large wire-mesh cages for terror suspects en route to the American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” [p. 108]

            One result of this growth was that Sherzai became a wealthy man and became “one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan.” And he began “providing the Americans with hired guns” who like the contract soldiers who worked directly for the Americans lived beyond the reach of any law. In return for his access to American dollars, Sherzai provided “intelligence,” that is, alleged intelligence about the Taliban and al-Qaeda. There was only, one small problem: By April 2002, al-Qaeda had fled the country and the Taliban no longer existed.

            But this did not stop Sherzai from providing “enemies” for the Americans to kill or capture. “His personal feuds were repackaged as ‘counterterrorism.’” And Sherzai homed in on one place in particular, the desert district of Maiwand and one of its leading personages, Hajji Burget Khan, in particular. Khan and others were identified as Taliban by Sherzai and taken to KAF where they were deposited in metal cages and made to stand naked in front of American soldiers for “inspection.” They had their beards shorn off and some had their eyebrows removed as well. Despite the fact that he had been a tribal leader and war hero [against the Soviets], Khan was never to be seen alive again, even though Khan had embraced the new American order. When this became evident, some of those arrested with Khan were released and the beginnings of anti-Americanism were evident. But American officials declared that this mission was a success!

            And we wonder why they “hate” us? Really? And this isn’t even the worst of it.

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