Obama's Afghan War: kill Pashtuns, destroy their villages, leave

Afghan child wounded by U.S. airstrike on Zerkoaf, Afghanistan.

Barack Obama has always been a business as usual, don't rock the boat kind of politician, and it's gotten him very far very fast. But who will feel the bruntiest brunt of Obama's business as usual politics? I nominate the Pashtun people of Afghanistan and Pakistan (there was heavy overseas competition for the nomination, but 'average Americans' (despite Obama's doomed to fail 'flood the financial sector with money and everything will be fine' economic policy) bring up the rear, just behind dope-smoking hippies (except for Obama, Phelps, Clinton, and Bush)).

So, hey, let's get to know a little bit about our latest victims. (Some of the following is courtesy of Wikipedia and the rest is from memory and other places). 13 million Pashtuns live in Afghanistan, and they are its largest ethnic group (42% of the population); they also have been Afghanistan's dominant ethnic group, basically until the U.S. showed up in 2002. They have been the main supporters of the Taliban, who came to power in Afghanistan after the U.S. used it to help oust the Soviets from the country and then forgot about Afghanistan, leaving it to warlords so evil they made the Taliban look like sweethearts. The U.S.'s President of Kabul, Hamid Karzai, is Pashtun, but most of Afghanistan (not under Taliban control) is left to the brutal, chaotic mess of warlords that the Taliban ousted a decade and a half ago. Here's a map of the regional distribution of the Pashtun ethnic group:


There are also 28 million Pashtuns in Pakistan. Most live in the northwest provinces near the Afghanistan border; they constitute Pakistan's second largest ethnic group and make up about a quarter of its military.

Ultimately, we ain't gonna to defeat the Pashtun. What we are doing, and what we will continue to do under Obama and as long as conventional wisdom holds out, is kill a lot of them, kill a lot of their children, destroy a lot of their villages, and make them even poorer and their lives even more chaotic and desperate than they already are. Yup. That's why we fight. American commanders and soldiers can smell what the deal is, the Pashtun know it's just a matter of time and dead Americans, so they kill some of us and patiently wait. Three or thirty more years, whatever it takes.

Shendand, Afghanistan, August 2008: woman mourns after U.S. airstrike.

Dave Lindorff describes Obama's shift of imperial focus to Afghanistan as "moving from the absurd to the ludicrous." Afghanistan after all, he writes, is a nation with no air force and barely an army. He continues:

Most of its people are illiterate and live in rural areas. Its people are extremely poor--among the poorest in the world. . . .

Do we really believe that this desperately poor and war-torn nation poses an existential threat--or any threat at all--to the US?

Shendand, Afghanistan, August 2008: man walking among rubble caused by U.S.

Well, the conventional wisdom is, yes we do. Yup. And so, what is President Obama doing about that?Well, the January civilian-killing in Afghanistan numbers are out:

Simple arithmetic reveals that the eleven days [of January] under the Obama clock were 18-50% more deadly for Afghan civilians than the twenty days under the Bush regime. -- Marc Herold

Or read Courage to Resist:

Despite the recent inauguration of an "anti-war" president, the Army is currently undertaking the largest IRR [Individual Ready Reserve] recall since 2004. [IRR, sometimes called the Inactive Ready Reserve, is composed of former military who have returned to civilian status but have 'inactive' time left on their enlistment agreements; they are still eligible to be called up in "states of emergency"] . . .

The current emergency that allows the Army and Marines to recall IRR members is the open-ended "Global War on Terror" that includes the occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan. . . .

Or watch this:

Afghan civilians have rallied against America amid reports that civilians were killed in a US air raid over the weekend. The US military says 15 fighters were killed in Laghman province, but the provincial governor says at least 10 civilians were among the dead. -- Al Jazeera

There's a reason things are going badly for the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. That reason is simple: the U.S. will lose to the Pashtun, which is increasingly identical to a mutating 'Taliban'. Does Obama realize this? I don't know, and I'm not sure it matters. Like most of our political elite, he got to where he is by toeing the line and going along with whatever the most powerful constituencies in Washington (or Chicago, or Springfield) want. Right now in Washington that's the military-industrial complex.

January 23, 2009. Obama's first victims: surgery conducted on Pakistani victim of U.S. drone airstrike. The airstrike killed 15, including at least 7 civilians.

Lindorff adds:

Let's get it straight. No Afghan has ever, to my knowledge, harmed the United States. . . .

For eight years, America has been attacking and destroying a country that is about as dangerous a threat to America as is Mali, or Haiti, or the Comoros Islands.  If Obama follows through and doubles the number of troops fighting over there, it will just make this whole policy twice as stupid.

Eight years "attacking and destroying a country." And wait, there's more. Even less effort to compensate for the attacking and destroying, and more attacking and destroying in Pakistan:

A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.

Not pretty. And what are we doing about this, American couch potatoes?

Nothing. Continuing to believe in the Obama public relations phenomenon. Throwing up our hands, giving up. The big 'anti-war' groups, as usual, still make their main priority helping the Democratic Party gain and hold onto power. Even the UN's Ban Ki-moon seems to be complicit. . . . Okay, as expected. Well, at least little Kyrgyzstan is saying 'screw you' to the Afghanistan/Pakistan death machine.


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Tags: Afghanistan, obama, Pashtun (all tags)




I have read and respected some of your other diaries, but this one is over the top.  More damagingly, it includes a very selective reading of history.

First, the Pashtuns (and the Pakistanis) own a big chunk of the guilt for the plight they now find themselves in.  It is not always the fault of the ugly yankees that leaves them in the lurch after helping them evict the Russians.

Second, while I disagree with Pres. Obama's strategy (because I do not think it will work), it is outrageous to ascribe the motives that you just did.  "Kill, destroy and leave" implies a certain evil personality out to destroy an innocent civilization..

If you truly believed that your country and your president was like that, then your moral obligation would be to go fight on the side of the Pashtuns.  

Instead, you are wasting your time moralizing on this website.

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-04 11:53AM | 0 recs
Kill, destroy and leave is what we will do

Just as it is what we will do to Iraq, and it is what we did to Serbia, Somalia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua and countless other examples. This is the way it goes: kill, destroy, leave, forget. That's what happened after we and the Taliban and other mujahideen ousted the Soviets.

I don't know what Obama feels and neither do you, and I think his or your hurt feelings are a relatively small concern here.

by fairleft 2009-02-04 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Kill, destroy and leave is what we will do


I do not know when the US was ever in Serbia.  I suppose you are referring to the bombing campaign that stopped the massacre of ethnic Albanians.  I do not know of any sane person who will suggest that it was a bad thing.  And, as far as I know, we have not "left" the region.

WRT to Iraq...are you not aware of the current elections ?  Who do you think made it all possible ?  I just hired an ex-marine who spent 4 years in Iraq.  He definitely did not "kill-destroy-and leave"

It is true that I don't know what Pres. Obama feels.  But I do know what he does NOT feel... I know that he does NOT feel like killing, destroying and leaving.

I don't have any hurt feelings.  My feelings don't get hurt when I hear the rantings of a lunatic.. and I am afraid that is how you will end up, unless you reexamine yourself

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-04 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Kill, destroy and leave is what we will do

Kosovo was part of Serbia before NATO came to the aid of the separatists.

You may be able to claim that ethnic Albanians weren't treated well by the Serb authorities, but it was part of Serbia and US and NATO troops went in and ultimately helped it break away.

by Carl Nyberg 2009-02-04 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Kill, destroy and leave is what we will do

I'm describing the objective reality of what the U.S. did, for example, to Serbia. It rained massive destruction on the civilian infrastructure explicitly in order to force Serbia to give up Kosovo. That massive destruction of civilian infrastructure was a war crime. There were pictures of the destruction for a few days, maybe you remember. In any case the U.S. 'left' and forgot, and has never paid Serbia a dime for the destruction we wrought on that country.

By the way, if the U.S. wanted to 'liberate' Kosovo from Serbia without having to half-destroy Serbia, we could've sent ground troops into Kosovo. But, like many rulers before and after him, Clinton decided what's a massive war crime against civilians compared to risking the lives of American soldiers paid to risk their lives.

by fairleft 2009-02-04 06:03PM | 0 recs
Is fighting here for withdrawal from Pashtun

lands anti-patriotic? Because that is what this diary is trying to fight for. First I obviously need to wake some people up to what the U.S. is actually, objectively doing in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

by fairleft 2009-02-04 12:30PM | 0 recs
And oh..

I wasn't questioning your patriotism... I was questioning your sanity !!

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-04 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: And oh..

What DSM-IV ailment have you identified?

Questioning the sanity of another member of the community is one of those extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.

by Carl Nyberg 2009-02-04 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Afghan War:

Nobody is looking to defeat the Pashtuns. Its the folks that have chosen to live among them of whom many are not Pakistani, Afgans or Pashtun. They are players from other nations.

by jsfox 2009-02-04 12:00PM | 0 recs
Objectively, the war is to defeat the Pashtun,

an impossible task. If Obama manages to change that, to somehow split the 'good (Pashtun) Taliban' away from the 'bad (Pashtun) Taliban', then it willl not be a war to defeat the Pashtun. Right now the Pashtun are 'Taliban.'

by fairleft 2009-02-04 12:27PM | 0 recs
Damn it!

If al Qaeda and its Taliban enablers would just agree to a fair fight somewhere in Nebraska...

...or was 9/11 our just desserts.

Oh wait, my head is clogged with propaganda spouting red herrings.  Sorry.

by Strummerson 2009-02-04 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Damn it!

BTW, thank you for that educational reference to the 1929 incident.  I read up on that... I was completely unaware of that episode.

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-04 02:13PM | 0 recs
The Pashtun want the U.S. out of their country

That's what this war is all about. 'Taliban' and 'al Queda' are the red herrings.

by fairleft 2009-02-04 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Pashtun want the U.S. out of their country

sure, sure.

by Strummerson 2009-02-04 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The Pashtun want the U.S. out of their country

Now you are troll rating those of us who simply voice resistance to swallowing your propaganda whole cloth?

Thanks for proving my point.  I'll bear it with pride.

by Strummerson 2009-02-05 06:39AM | 0 recs
You don't argue or debate

Just ad hominen attacks. That's trollish.

Non-trollishness involves taking a position and providing evidence for it, or attacking my evidence and providing evidence that supports your attack.

by fairleft 2009-02-05 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: You don't argue or debate

I have not attacked you personally in any of these cases.

by Strummerson 2009-02-05 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Pashtun want the U.S. out of their country

This TR is just abiding by the house rules you've set here, i.e. disagreement = trolling.  See my comment below.

by Strummerson 2009-02-05 06:51AM | 0 recs
'ad hominen' defined

(Hint: not employing such arguments avoids trollishness)

The phrase now chiefly describes an argument based on the failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case: Ad hominem attacks on one's opponent are a tried-and-true strategy for people who have a case that is weak. Ninety percent of the Panel finds this sentence acceptable. The expression now also has a looser use in referring to any personal attack, whether or not it is part of an argument, as in It isn't in the best interests of the nation for the press to attack him in this personal, ad hominem way. This use is acceptable to 65 percent of the Panel.

http://www.bartleby.com/61/71/A0087100.h tml

by fairleft 2009-02-05 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: 'ad hominen' defined

Where did I attack you personally?  I simply do not find your reading of this situation credible.

by Strummerson 2009-02-05 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: 'ad hominen' defined

In fact, your unfounded accusation that I attacked you constitutes an ad hominem attack, as it implies I am unethical.  Therefore, if ad hominem attacks are worthy of TRs, by your own criteria you merit one on this comment.

by Strummerson 2009-02-05 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: 'ad hominen' defined

Personal attacks include ascribing opinions to others that they have not stated or implied. For example:

Damn it!

If al Qaeda and its Taliban enablers would just agree to a fair fight somewhere in Nebraska...

...or was 9/11 our just desserts.

Oh wait, my head is clogged with propaganda spouting red herrings.  Sorry.

by Strummerson on Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 06:45:45 PM CDT

by fairleft 2009-02-06 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: 'ad hominen' defined

Actually, you have consistently used the term "red herring" in our interchanges, which in and of itself can be considered an ad hominem attack.

Settle down now.  

by Strummerson 2009-02-06 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: 'ad hominen' defined

No I haven't.

by fairleft 2009-02-06 10:18AM | 0 recs
kill Pashtuns, destroy villages, leave

As much as I loathe civilian deaths as much as anyone... and I do mean loathe... I have to point out how patently absurd it is to dismiss Afghanistan as "no more dangerous than Haiti or Mali..." and to do so in such a flippant, this-is-so-obvious-why-haven't-you-falle n-over-it manner.

As a government (at least, what there is of one), Afghanistan poses no threat. But it was and has been, and likely continues to be, a haven for the network of radicals who killed 3100 Americans really not all that long ago (remember?). It is absurd to equate the threat eminating from Afghanistan to the run up to the Iraq war, because...

(a) Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorists who attached us, while Afghanistan was giving them (or at least allowing them) safe haven.

(b) The Iraqi threat was overblown by selective intelligence and exaggerations, while the threat from some in Afghanistan has ALREADY BEEN DEMONSTRATED in that THEY ALREADY ATTACKED US.

In the end, I too have misgivings about how we're proceeding in Afghanistan. I too dislike any civilian deaths. And I too feel that Obama needs to chart a different course... but you don't seem to offer any alternatives, so maybe there are no good alternatives, and we're stuck with the status quo for now (which sucks) BUT under the leadership of a President who, unlike former President Stick-to-Your-Guns-At-All-Cost-Even-If-Y ou're-Obviously-Wrong, seems actually willing to look at and evaluate situations, learn from mistakes, and try a different course. Good God, he's been in office 16 days. It's a little early to expect him to have evaluated the situation from all sides and to have formulated and implemented a foolproof plan for moving forward w.r.t. the complex situation in Afghanistan. Plus, he's had a few other things on his plate (like an economic collapse).

This might be a legitimate criticism in a year, but I don't see how it is appropriate now.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-02-04 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: kill Pashtuns, destroy villages, leave

Afghanistan, like much of the developing world, does not have and did not have a central government capable of asserting control over its territory.

Punishing people in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the sins of their warlords seems immoral. And it doesn't work.

by Carl Nyberg 2009-02-04 05:04PM | 0 recs
Most 9/11 terrorists were residents of Germany

or the U.S. Lax law enforcement and intelligence in Germany and the U.S. was a much greater threat to the U.S. than the Taliban. In 2002 the Taliban were willing to arrest and give up al Queda leaders to an international Islamic court of some sort. Wouldn't that have been great!? But the U.S. rejected that deal and demanded al Queda be given up to a 'Western' international court. Facts, damned facts!!

by fairleft 2009-02-04 06:13PM | 0 recs
Do you know what it means to

rally around our flag, and OUR PRESIDENT Barack Obama? He is merely fighting the terrorists where they are, as opposed to fighting them here. This doesn't mean I support Iraq, as there weren't terrorists there, but the Taliban was a government which openly harbored murderous terrorists who would do away with our way of life, and the State of Israel. Obama is not Bush. He is flexible. He admits when he makes mistakes, such as Daschle. You seem to forget Bush left these wars for Obama. Why don't you lay the blame where it belongs. Bush let us be attacked on 9/11, which is why this all has happened.

by Lakrosse 2009-02-04 03:02PM | 0 recs
Sorry, I don't speak neocon

Obama is fighting an insurgency of Afghans against the U.S. occupation of their country.

by fairleft 2009-02-04 06:14PM | 0 recs
That only works if you completely ignore

Pretty much all history of this conflict.

Or did we just up and invade the place for the fuck of it?

by Reaper0Bot0 2009-02-04 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: That only works if you completely ignore

Your understanding only works if you don't look at the map and completely ignore all the regional history. Look where the conflict is, refer to the map.

Catch you later; this issue is not going away, because the Pashtun are not going to be defeated.

by fairleft 2009-02-05 06:03AM | 0 recs
Barack Obama is OUR PRESIDENT

and the leader of our great Party and country. He is taking the fight where it is, instead of bringing it to us. There is nothing wrong with that, as the Taliban openly harboured American hating terrorists. I'm no neocon, only a proud American. I am sad that civilians unfortunately pay the price for Islamic extremists. Obama is not tryiing to hurt the Pashtun.

by Lakrosse 2009-02-05 08:09AM | 0 recs
Lyndon Johnson was OUR PRESIDENT

Dick Nixon was OUR PRESIDENT

(What do the capital letters imply?)

And they were taking the fight to where the Commies were, Vietnam, then Cambodia and Laos. I'm sad that 3 million Indochinese 'unfortunately paid the price for' Communist extremists. Johnson and Nixon were not trying to hurt the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.

I'm not proud of that, or this current bloody effort to occupy another country or countries and install a government and political system that we think best. You are.

by fairleft 2009-02-05 10:54AM | 0 recs
One point you are completely ignoring

More troops on the ground will result in fewer Afghan deaths, not more. Commanders who do not have enough ground troops tend to rely on air power, which is messy, inaccurate, and the overwhelming cause of unintended civlian deaths. Putting more boots on the ground will allow commanders to send troops in to investigate, rather than just blowing stuff up.

by pneuma 2009-02-05 06:03AM | 0 recs
It has no relevance to the air war, which

is waged largely in areas distant from Kabul that the 60K or 90K won't be accessing. The additional 30,000 troops will apparently be dispersed in the areas immediately adjacent to Kabul, and perhaps to a few other 'big' cities. To keep them from falling.

by fairleft 2009-02-05 10:49AM | 0 recs
by QTG 2009-02-05 07:03AM | 0 recs


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