By Debra Sweet
If you can find news of the largest U.S./NATO offensive of the past 8 years in Afghanistan last week, it’s likely to be profiles of the soldiers and Marines who are up against tough odds, but "sure to prevail."
Those odds described by the US command, and repeated endlessly on FOX News, are that the "Taliban uses civilians as cover" and that the Afghan military and police really aren’t ready to "step up" and run their own country.
This offensive on Marjah in southern Afghanistan is led by General Stanley McChrystal, the counter insurgency expert brought into Afghanistan by Obama last year to reverse the U.S. military debacle there, and who led widespread secret operations, reported by Esquire last year to include torture, under General Petreaus in Iraq.
"We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in, "says McChrystal, now worried about avoiding civilian casualties. As I wrote last week, in Why the U.S. is (and should be) Losing in Afghanistan. “How is the occupation going? Reminders: Obama kept Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has promoted the expansion into Afghanistan. He’s expanded Bush’s quiet drone war, and is now has two unmanned drone programs (run by the military and the CIA), making far more attacks than Bush ever did. The administration endorsed the "election" of Hamid Karzai over widespread, incontrovertible evidence of massive fraud in it.”
The operation in Marja has killed up to 20 civilians, even though many thousands fled the area. The airstrike which killed 12 civilians is now claimed as not a mistake. NATO Commanders on Afghan Civilian Deaths: Rockets "Hit Their Intended Target."
David Lindorff writes in Counterpunch on The Battle for Marja: Why the U.S. Has Already Lost: “In the war in Iraq, and in Afghanistan until recently at least, the American war-fighting style has been for troops to go into an area, seeking to draw enemy fire, and then to call in long-range artillery or air support, and simply blow up the area with heavy explosives, devastating anti-personnel bombs that shower an area in flesh-shredding flechettes, burning white phosphorus projectiles, and a brutal rain of machine-gun fire from fixed-wing and helicopter gunships.”
Inevitably with such tactics, countless innocent men, women and children get killed and maimed. Iraq, where US troops have just now dipped under 100,000 strong and are not leaving. President Obama promised during the campaign that they would leave in 2010, then 2011. But a base force of 50,000 at least, will stay indefinitely, fitting into the plan of permanent U.S. occupation. They are still killing civilians, as Jason Ditz reports on antiwar.com.
JOIN World Can’t Wait in Washington March 19/20 with Peace of the Action and the ANSWER Coalition. Friday March 19 is a day of action & outreach. Saturday is a mass march on the White House. World Can’t Wait is also supporting the marches in Los Angeles and San Francisco on March 20. More here.
The Obama administration may have changed the term to "overseas contingency operation" but the "war on terror" is still underway. As other observers pointed out, Dick Cheney jumped back into the torture promotion business on Sunday when he appeared on ABC News "This Week."
See David Swanon in Cheney’s Crimes and Confessions and Robert Parry on Consortium News in Cheney Exposes Torture Conspiracy.
Jason Leopold writes in Dick (War Criminal) Cheney: "I Was a Big Fan of Waterboarding" "I was a big supporter of waterboarding," Cheney told Karl, as if he were issuing a challenge to officials in the current administration, including President Barack Obama, who said flatly last year that waterboarding is torture, to take action against him. "I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques…"
Those statements, both on Sunday and in his December 2008 interview with Karl, destroy a key line in the Bush administration’s defense against war crimes charges. For years, Cheney and other Bush administration officials pinned their defense on the fact that they had received legal advice from Justice Department lawyers that the brutal interrogations of "war on terror" detainees did not constitute torture or violate other laws of war.
War crimes need their promoters. They also need to be opposed! See warcriminalswatch.org for frequent protests of the war criminals.
Anyone wavering on closing Guantanamo, see Scott Horton’s article in Harpers, just arriving on the newstands, which should have caused a national uproar when it was leaked a month ago.