Here are some unsettling figures for the public to contemplate, that part of it at least that is not yet brain-dead:
For the mathematically impaired, here is a helpful personalization of the foregoing facts:
“According to Brown University’s Cost of War project analysis, authored by Neta Crawford, the total estimated cost of U.S. wars between 2001 and 2018 amounts to about $23,386 per individual American taxpayer, which is more than three times the amount ($7,740) calculated by the Pentagon.” [Source: breitbart.com, 8 Nov 14, 2017]
This is, of course, just the play money, economic cost of it all and it does not even pretend to reflect the human dimension of the destruction wantonly wrought. For those who care, here is a bit of that too:
“Besides the trillions of dollars spent on the post-9/11 conflicts, the wars have imposed a profound human cost on Americans: nearly 7,000 U.S. military fatalities and more than 52,500 injuries, according to Breitbart News’s analysis of casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria since 2001.”
“The total estimated cost of U.S. wars between 2001 and 2018 amounts to about $23,386 per individual American taxpayer, which is more than three times the amount ($7,740) calculated by the Pentagon.”
A bit, because that is not even remotely the entire story in that department. The millions of native victims of these atrocious wars of choice are not part of that picture. Reasonably reliable statistics of their human casualties do not exist because they were not deemed worthy of tabulation. “You know we don’t do body counts,” was the cavalier response of the then (2001-2003) Afghan Coalition Force commander, Gen Tommy Franks, who was just faithfully echoing the identical view of his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [Source: https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/we-dont-do-body-counts]
But make no mistake, while of course counting the corpses they leave in their wake is of little concern to them, they do avidly calculate the amount of plunder that might be in store. Speaking of Afghanistan, we thus learn that the discovery of an estimated $1 trillion in mineral deposits (forget democracy and women’s rights) has been the major motive for the recent reintroduction of US forces, after 16 years of futile war and occupation. The booty has in fact caught the eye of the “large military contracting firm, DynCorp International, which could play a role in guarding mines — a major concern, given that some of Afghanistan’s richest deposits are in areas controlled by the Taliban.”
The New York Times (July 25, 2017) then helpfully goes on to clarify the situation:
“In 2010, American officials estimated that Afghanistan had untapped mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion, an estimate that was widely disputed at the time and has certainly fallen since, given the eroding price of commodities. But the $1 trillion figure is circulating again inside the White House, according to officials, who said it had caught the attention of Mr. Trump.”
Unlike piles of brown-skinned (or even white-skinned, for that matter) corpses, a one trillion treasure trove is a sure attention getter. So, against a background of deteriorating ground conditions, and tossing aside solemn campaign promises, the decision was taken to increase military presence in Afghanistan. An additional 3,500 troops are being dispatched to bolster about 10,000 soldiers already stranded and under virtual siege there, in the proverbial imperial graveyard.
Except that this time the demented vultures have come up with a seemingly more creative plan, not entirely original of course since greed has impaired their power of imagination, but certainly a “copy-paste” plan of sorts, modelled after the British formula for ruling India in the 18th and 19th centuries. The centrepiece of this plan is the utilization of the services of the gang of brutal mercenaries currently designating themselves as “Academi,” under the command of their born-again generalissimo Erik Prince, the same outfit which in their previous incarnation, as “Blackwater,” committed countless atrocities against civilians in Iraq. As things stand currently, the hare-brained scheme is being designed in the following way.
Under Prince’s proposal, during a two-year trial period about 5,500 of his mercenaries and 90 warplanes would be deployed in Afghanistan. The adventure’s estimated cost to US taxpayers is projected at about $10 billion, a seeming trifle compared to the total treasure sunk into the Afghan pit over the last 16 years. But of course, the prospect of one trillion in profits makes it – to paraphrase a memorable locution made famous by Madeleine Albright in a technically different but nevertheless related context – “worth it.” In this particular case, with all that mineral wealth waiting to be extracted and enjoyed, it is not even a “difficult choice,” as Albright pretended, with feigned empathy, that in her view the slaughter of half a million Iraqi children might have been.
To round off Prince’s copy-paste solution, he has apparently persuaded the wise men at the top to resuscitate in Afghanistan an analogue to the British East India Company, through which the Crown once colonized and controlled India. And to make it work this time around, Prince has urged that a special post be created for that specific purpose and that the official filling it, in addition to being invested with broad authority to govern Afghanistan, would answer directly to the President of the United States. No more of that “Coalition of the Willing” nonsense when there is so much mineral digging that needs to be done, nor should we forget, either, the vast off-the-books heroin-producing poppy fields business, which must not be left unattended, while the unimpeded flow of the vast income it generates must be ensured.
Just to reiterate the basic facts, the “Coalition” (which is in fact its dominant member) has been warring in Afghanistan since 2001, or for the last 16 years, which – assuming a minimum of competence on its part – should have been sufficient to gain the upper hand and get the job done. By 2011 just the US military contingent alone numbered about 100,000 men, with the mission notoriously unaccomplished. Currently there are said to be about 8,500 US personnel mainly tasked with training Afghan government forces.
And what have they got to show for it? Over a decade and a half later, the radicals at all times continue to control about half of Afghan territory rather completely, and certainly most of the remainder by night. This year, one of the most hideous terrorist acts in the history of Afghanistan occurred in Kabul, killing about 100 and wounding close to 500. At the beginning of August because of a terrorist attack on NATO forces two US military personnel were killed.
All that rather persuasively suggests the conclusion that bombs and political intrigues are unlikely to achieve an internal political settlement, assuming that is even a goal of DynCorp International and the sundry vultures getting ready to pounce on Afghanistan in full force again.
In mid-September, coinciding with the public announcement in Washington of the new Afghan strategy, rumours went flying in Kabul of new plans to reform yet again the non-performing Afghan army.
The plan calls for creating a parallel militia patterned after the British Indian Territorial Army, with provision for the hiring of contract personnel, mainly from the ranks of experienced former soldiers. This force would ultimately be under the command of the designated “Afghan Viceroy” who, for all we know, might turn out to be the ubiquitous and persistent Erik Price himself.
In the words of German journalist Günter Knabe, who specializes in Afghan affairs, the militia concept is so preposterous that it has got be an American idea. What passes for the current Afghan Army was being armed, trained, and broken into its assigned military duties by NATO mentors for years. If after all that effort someone has now come up with the bright idea of setting up some sort of parallel army, that can be no less than a plain admission of the utter failure of all military solutions tried until now.
According to Trump’s strategy, continues Knabe, “the militia is supposed to demonstrate far greater effectiveness in the war against the extremists. But that is naïve. Why should a twenty thousand-man militia prove more effective than an army in which so much has been invested and which is equipped with such respectable military hardware? And who will select, train, and control the militia? How long will that process take? I see no realistic prospects there,” Knabe concludes.
As it turns out, tribal militias are a traditional feature of the Afghan landscape, especially among the majority Pashtuns. They were around in the time of King Zahir Shah and later under his successor, President Daud. If as planned up to 60,000 regular army personnel receive the pink slip, where will they go, what will they do? There is no economy in Afghanistan to speak of, capable of absorbing them. These ex-soldiers will find themselves in a vacuum and hardly able to make ends meet and support their families on their meagre pensions.
It is safe to assume that in such a reshuffle the principal losers would be elements deemed not particularly loyal to the current President Ashraf Ghani, i.e. soldiers from the ranks of the Northern Alliance: Tajiks, Uzbeks, and most certainly the Shiite Hazaras.
All non-Muslims having been driven out by the Taliban when they ruled the country, the only sizeable religious minority in Afghanistan left to persecute are the Shiite Hazaras. They may not have made it onto Washington’s ethnic map, but they are about five-million strong and not just there but, most inconveniently for Afghanistan’s Western overlords, they are situated along the border with Iran, whence they are subject to intense Persian cultural and other influences.
And if this ethno-religious cocktail were not intoxicating enough, one should by no means forget the other significant Shiite community, the Dari-speaking (Persian dialect) Farsiwans, concentrated in the strategic provinces of Herat, Farah, and Nimroz. To make things even more confusing for Afghanistan’s culturally-impaired foreign overlords (and potentially lethally confusing should tens of thousands of dismissed “regular army” soldiers start joining their respective ethnic militias, instead of generalissimo Prince’s), the Farsiwans are closely related to the Tajiks. The crucial difference is that the Tajic population of Northern Afghanistan is Sunni, while their Farsiwan cousins in the West Afghan provinces are Shiite.
These are some of the nuances and details that even foreign scholars have difficulty fully comprehending. What is left, then, for a bloke with some military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan but whose brilliant anti-insurgency formula is summed up in his famous aphorism that “It is fun to kill people,” but who now sits in the highest echelons of government, tasked among other things with fixing the mess he foolishly helped create and left behind? Yes, you guessed it, Mad Dog is his real name, James Mattis is just his moniker.
Throughout Afghanistan poppy is cultivated and harvested in copious quantities. Heroin, which is made from it, brings enormous profits to the coffers of the foreign masters. Yet, for the average Afghan life is getting harder. The economy is collapsing, corruption and nepotism are rampant. The foreign occupiers have yet to build a single school or hospital. Water is becoming scarce for the population and, as a recent news report intimated, “a U.S. and Afghan Geological Survey of Kabul Basin’s water resources found that about half of the shallow groundwater supply could become dry by 2050 due to declining recharge and stream-flows under projected climate change. But, the U.S./NATO/Afghanistan coalition and mainstream media have been so occupied with the business of a failed ‘war on terror’ that basic human development and needs are glossed over or ignored.” [Source: http://www.truth-news.com/2017/11/14/an-escalating-afghan-crisis-of-profit-over-life/ ] Opposition to “Western occupation,” as the presence of foreign armies is affectionately referred to, is gaining momentum. It is becoming clear that so long as, driven by avarice and with utter disregard for the native population and its traditions, foreigners remain in Afghanistan there will be no end to war and misery.
Under the weight of the ruthless occupation, traditional Afghan society is extremely stressed and coming apart at the seams. Ethnic relations are under severe strain, the delicate balance worked out over the centuries is unravelling steadily. The announced cutbacks in the Afghan Army, to be compensated by a profit-driven half-baked scheme conceived by foreign corporate robber barons and their self-interested condottieri are disastrously premature and dangerously destabilizing. Possible scenarios are many. One is that the Shiite Hazaras may once again be subjected to persecution generating not just serious regional resistance but also the further disintegration of the ethnic patchwork Army whose deputy Chief of Staff, General Murad Ali Murad, happens to be a Hazara. Murad, admired by many, oversees anti-Taliban operations in the provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Helmand, among others.
Equally upsetting to fragile stability would be the likely marginalization of the Northern Alliance, composed of the forces of the Tajik General Masud, Uzbek leader Rashid Dostum, and ethnic Hazara representatives, which Iran managed to stich together in 1992. Their forces have been integrated into to National Army, such as it is. Any sizeable reduction of its personnel for the private profit and dubious glory of generalissimo Erik Prince and his corporate cohorts may, once again, have an adverse effect on fragile intercommunal relations of a sort that the intellect of General Mad Dog would probably find it extremely difficult to grasp. The excluded communities are unlikely to accept calmly their disempowerment. In sum, because of the implementation of ill-conceived “reforms” the ranks of government opponents will find a new pool of potential recruits and war without end or quarter will gain new momentum.
Because of all the “fixes” imposed by the greedy but otherwise utterly clueless occupiers, war is now raging at different levels of intensity in thirty-one of thirty-four Afghan provinces. That is a battlefield without front lines where Taliban, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State all compete for power and territory, alongside detachments of roaming marauders and other criminal gangs.
The occupiers have managed to install a comprador elite which does not serve the interests of Afghanistan but those of its foreign masters. Over the years, since the 2001 invasion, the violent approach to suppressing the insurgency has demonstrably failed and cannot be reinvigorated. That is why the Americans now have no choice but to conduct secret negotiations with their Taliban opponents, while the Afghan national government they sponsor is busy bribing the leadership of the more radical Taliban factions, hoping they could be enticed to join peace negotiations. [Source: Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2017]
Agenda-driven foreign interference has gravely undermined Afghan culture and society and painfully wounded the people of that land who never applied to be “liberated,” while many of its women, for all we know (because no one ever bothered to ask them), may even have been content wearing their burqas. It is now time to let that admirably resilient but unjustly suffering people retake its destiny into its own hands.
STEFAN KARGANOVIC—Besides the incalculable cost in suffering, especially for the victims of US aggression, the total estimated cost of U.S. wars between 2001 and 2018 amounts to about $23,386 per individual American taxpayer, which is more than three times the amount ($7,740) calculated by the Pentagon.