by Stephen Lendman
Replicating post-WW II occupations is planned. Sixty-seven years after war’s end, US troops still occupy Germany, Japan and Korea. They’re part of America’s growing empire of bases. Status of forces (SOFA) agreements establish the framework under which US forces operate abroad.
The Department of Defense Technical Information Center calls them agreements “that defines the legal position of a ‘visiting’ military force deployed in the territory of a friendly state.”
They delineate “the status of visiting military forces (and) may be bilateral or multilateral. Provisions pertaining to the status of visiting forces may be set forth in a separate agreement, or they may form a part of a more comprehensive agreement.”
“These provisions describe how the authorities of a visiting force may control members of that force and the amenability of the force or its member to the local law or to the authority of local officials.”
“To the extent that agreements delineate matters affecting the relations between a military force and civilian authorities and population, they may be considered as civil affairs agreements.”
Occupied countries get little choice. Pentagon officials draft provisions. They’re largely one way.
In his book, “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic,” Chalmers Johnson explained SOFAs as follows:
“America’s foreign military enclaves, though structurally, legally, and conceptually different from colonies, are themselves something like microcolonies in that they are completely beyond the jurisdiction of the occupied nation.”
“The US virtually always negotiates a ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) with the ostensibly independent ‘host’ nation.”
They’re a modern day version of 19th century China’s “extraterritoriality” agreements. They granted foreigners charged with crimes the “right” to be tried by his (or her) own government under his (or her) own national law.
Most SOFAs prevent local courts from exercising legal jurisdiction over American personnel. Even those committing murder and rape are exempt unless US officials yield to local authorities. Usually, offenders are whisked out of countries before they ask.
America’s total number of SOFAs is unknown. Most are secret. Some are too embarrassing to reveal. America has hundreds of known, shared, and secret bases in over 150 countries.
Johnson said they “usurp, distort, or subvert whatever institutions of democratic (or other form of) government may exist with the host society.”
Their presence assures trouble. It includes murder, rape, theft, drunken driving, and other crimes. Locals also face unacceptable noise, pollution, environmental destruction, appropriated public land, and US personnel mindless of local laws, customs, and rights of ordinary people.
Locals lose control of their lives. They have no say. They have virtually no chance for redress. They’re most harmed when occupations are permanent.
Besides elsewhere, America came to Iraq and Afghanistan to stay. Permanency is planned on city-sized super bases. They’re not build to be abandoned.
They have extensive infrastructure, command and control centers, accommodations for families in combat-free areas, hospitals, schools, recreational facilities, and virtually everything found back home.
In early 2011, Afghan puppet leader Karzai confirmed Washington’s plan to stay, despite agreeing on a “transition strategy” to transfer control to Afghan forces by 2014.
US troop withdrawals are planned. Iraq numbers were reduced. Thousands will remain in both countries. Locals have no sovereignty. America stays in control. Drone and ground force killing will continue.
Tens of thousands of private military contractors supplement military forces. Their skills range from technical to hired guns like Blackwater (now called Academi) and DynCorp.
Last year, Obama said US troop drawdowns will exit thousands. Afghan forces will replace them. America’s mission will shift from “combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete….”
False! US permanency is planned. November elections drive Obama’s duplicity to say one thing and plan another. During an unannounced Kabul visit, he addressed a US television audience from Bagram Air Base.
He did what he does best. He lied, saying he came to Kabul to herald a new era in US/Afghanistan relations. He called it “future in which war ends, and a new chapter begins.”
Unless America’s occupation ends, war will continue for years. Election year politics explains his claim about US forces out by 2014. He lied saying:
“My fellow Americans, we’ve traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of new day on the horizon.”
“One year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal I set — to defeat Al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach.”
The alleged bin Laden killing was theater, not real. In December 2001, he died naturally. His death was reported at the time. Even US media covered it.
Explosions rocked Kabul shortly after Obama’s brief visit. Taliban forces claimed responsibility. Reports said at least seven died. Others were injured. Resistance fighters showed disdain for Obama’s “enduring partnership.”
He came at night. He and Karzai met after midnight. A signing ceremony followed. It excluded “a new chapter” marked by “mutual respect.”
US media media ignored what foreign ones reported. Among others, London’s Telegraph headlined “US troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024,” saying:
Obama’s strategic pact provides for US trainers, “special forces and air power to remain.” Handing over control to Afghan ones conceals permanent occupation plans.
Karzai’s top security advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, said America’s long-term presence is needed. “In the Afghan proposal, we are talking about 10 years from 2014, but this is under discussion.”
Russia’s Kabul ambassador, Andrey Avetisyan, said:
“Afghanistan needs many other things apart from the permanent presence of some countries. It needs economic help and it needs peace. Military bases are not a tool for peace.”
“I don’t understand why such bases are needed. If the job is done, if terrorism is defeated and peace and stability are brought back, then why would you need bases?”
“If the job is not done, then several thousand troops, even special forces, will not be able to do the job that 150,000 troops couldn’t do. It is not possible.”
America came to stay. Afghans want them out. A recipe for protracted conflict persists. Another decade of war may follow. In 2001, who thought one was possible. It’s America’s longest war.
An unnamed European diplomat said:
“Never in history has any superpower spent so much money, sent so many troops to a country, and had so little influence over what its president says and does.”
Pakistan has reason to be concerned. It was dragged into a war it didn’t want. It’s own territory is violated. US drones fly regular kill missions. Public anger grows.
On April 12, its parliament unanimously approved conditions for future US/Pakistan relations. They include ending drone attacks and apologizing for killing 24 Pakistan troops last November. Washington offers neither. Stalemate and tense relations remain.
America’s war shows no signs of ending. All it achieved is more war. Conflict won’t end until America’s gone. Washington won’t leave. Karzai serves dutifully as puppet leader. Afghans hate him. Ethnic leaders and Taliban fighters want him ousted. He wouldn’t 10 minutes if unprotected.
On April 4, former Reagan Assistant Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb’s Politico article headlined “Time to let Hamid Karzai kick us out of Afghanistan,” saying:
US leaders are “much better at starting wars than ending them satisfactorily….No matter how long we stay, we cannot control the future of Afghanistan.”
Soviet Russia learned the hard way. So did other occupiers. For centuries, Afghanistan’s been their graveyard. Washington ignores reality. Declining public support doesn’t matter. Unless Congress ends funding, expect protracted war to continue.
A Final Comment
A May 1 The New York Times editorial headlined “Missed Chance,” saying:
Obama’s Afghanistan speech “squandered the chance to fully explain his exit strategy from a war Americans are desperate to see brought to an end.”
Hyperbole substituted for truth and full disclosure. Obama didn’t disclose an end game because he has none. America came to stay. Foreign media report what The Times ignored.
Most Americans want war in Afghanistan ended. Complacency and indifference describe them, not desperation.
“Obama repeated his commitment that American combat troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2014 and that Afghan troops would be ready” well in advance to replace them.
As London’s Telegraph and other foreign media reported, America came to stay. Plans are being finalized to leave US combat forces in place until 2024.
“We have long supported the war in Afghanistan as a painful but necessary fight to ensure that Al Qaeda does not again have a major launching pad for attacking the United States.”
Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11. It never threatened America and wouldn’t now if US occupation ended. America’s war is lawless. Neither the Security Council or Congress authorized it.
International law is clear. No nation may attack another except in self-defense. America hasn’t fought a legal war since WW II. It hasn’t either won one since then.
Al Qaeda is a US creation. Forces were recruited to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Thereafter, it’s served strategically as enemy and ally. Hillary Clinton acknowledged their elements supporting Washington’s anti-Assad insurgency.
The longer fighting continues in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other US war theaters, the stronger its ranks grow. Washington likely prefers it. It needs enemies to wage wars. Peace, calm and stability prevent them.
America needs “some presence….to keep pummeling Al Qaeda and the Taliban on either side of the Pakistan-Afghan border. That longer-term commitment also sends an important message to Afghans that Washington ”won’t cut and run.”
Afghans despise Washington. They want occupation forces out. Pakistan’s also fed up for good reason. Ties to America and protracted war produced destabilization, pain, and no gain.
Obama “made far more progress” than Bush. “His strongest argument for staying in Afghanistan for another two years is that it is the main base for continuing that fight and that, by 2014, the United States will be able to withdraw without seeing it turn once again into a haven for Al Qaeda. He didn’t make the case Tuesday night.”
Resolving Afghanistan’s conflict is no closer today than years earlier. Some observers believe conditions now are worse than ever. Obama inherited a quagmire and worsened it.
The longer Afghan fighting continues, the stronger Al Qaeda gets. Obama claiming US forces “devastated” its leadership is duplicitous political posturing. He didn’t make the case Tuesday night because he has none.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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