Part 2 of Wars sending U.S. into ruin

We can literally half our current Defense Budget and we’d still spend more than the rest of the World combined…! So pardon me if this recent rhetoric from SecDef Gates Criticizes Bloated Military Bureaucracy falls on deaf ears here, and, in the halls of congress…! It would be lovely if we saw front page headlines such as this…

US Cannot Afford Another Afghanistan or Iraq: Gates

Sadly tho, that’s a Kabul newspaper headline…!

Meanwhile, as the Fawning Corporate Media has been busy chasing the shiny, Shahzad bauble, very little attention is being given to the real stories happening in Afghanistan now…

For instance… Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi headed a Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan, the Taliban vow new Afghan offensive with Karzai in US, and, the announcement that Afghanistan to hold Peace Assembly on May 29…!

Interestingly, that grand ‘Jirga’, has already been rescheduled twice, and, is timed to happen shortly after Hamid Karzai’s visit with Obama…!

At which point, Afghanistan’s Karzai to ask Obama for billions more to fight Taliban…! Errm… Excuse me…? Apparently, the additional $33 Billion for the Surge’s 30,000 more troops is insufficient…!

Isn’t it ironic that Hamid seems to be greasing the skids for his DC visit’s plea for more cash with an Op-Ed in today’s WaPoo… Entitled: "Afghanistan appreciates its partnership with the U.S." Fancy that…!

But, I digress…!

In digging amongst the weeds, I found a few more truffles…

From the front page of today’s Kabul based Outlook…

Obama Tells Aides Not to Be Distracted on Afghanistan

…US President Barack Obama has told key members of his administration not to be "distracted" by public spats with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but to focus on shared common goals. A US official signaled on the eve of Karzai’s arrival in Washington for a four-day visit, that the United States wanted to overcome the "ups and downs" of its relationship with Karzai and refocus on the fight against the Taliban. The talks are seen by both sides as a chance to put damaging public rows between Washington and Kabul to rest, though Washington is also expected to privately press Karzai to do more to crack down on corruption. Obama will offer Karzai all the trappings of a head of state, including Oval Office talks, a joint press conference and a White House luncheon on Wednesday.

Corruption…? You want to crack down on the corruption…? WTF is this then…

NATO Gambles on Collaboration with Wali Karzai

… Nato has taken one of the biggest gambles of its mission in Afghanistan by reluctantly deciding to collaborate with Ahmad Wali Karzai, the notorious power-broker of Kandahar — despite allegations that the half-brother of the President is involved in the drugs trade. The decision comes as Nato planners continue preparations for their next big push against the Taleban in Kandahar and as the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, prepares to depart for Washington, where he is expected to meet President Obama next week. Senior coalition officers would prefer to see the back of Wali Karzai but they have come to the conclusion that their only option is to work with him. They are trying, in the words of one officer, to ‘remodel’ a man accused of running a private fiefdom in the south. On Saturday Wali Karzai held a meeting with the US Central Command commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus; the latest in a series of contacts designed to rehabilitate and influence the activities of the chairman of Kandahar’s provincial council.

Ahmed Wali Karzai…? The King Of Kandahar…?

I presume this is the carrot Hamid will offer Obama…

Taliban leaders may be offered exile overseas in third countries as part of a draft peace proposal by the Afghan government in an effort to persuade insurgents to end a nine-year-old U.S.-led war. The draft, distributed to some diplomats and seen by Reuters, also envisages the Taliban cutting ties with al Qaeda and joining the political mainstream as part of any peace accord. The draft plan comes weeks before a grand council of Afghans, known as a "Jirga", that will meet in Kabul from May 29 to discuss how to make peace with the insurgents. Peace talks with the insurgents will be a key issue that President Hamid Karzai will discuss with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington next week. "We are weary of war and division, and we have shed too many tears. Out of division let us build unity. Let us reintegrate and reconcile to achieve the stability and prosperity that have eluded us for too long," stated a copy obtained by Reuters. "The package for these levels may include: addressing the problem of sanctuaries, measures for outreach and removal from the UN sanction list, ensuring severance of links with Al-Qaeda, security political accommodation and potential exile to a third country," the draft added. The plan did not give more details.

Isn’t it sad that our ‘success’ in Marja …or not…

Swift and bloody: the Taliban’s revenge

…Rebels have returned to terrorise a former stronghold (Marja) with shootings and beatings, raising doubts about America’s ability to secure Kandahar…

Forced Nato/ISAF to ‘rebrand’ the Kandahar mission…

Afghans wary as NATO rebrands Kandahar "process"

…"We don’t know if this operation brings any advantages, but something we know for sure is innocent people will be killed, harmed and displaced," said Kaka Shirin, a Kandahar shopkeeper.

Commanders are playing down the possibility of heavy fighting in the city, stressing the political aims of extending the reach of the Afghan state into an area of growing Taliban influence.

Even the language adopted by military officials has changed, with words like "operation" or "offensive" no longer used.

"PROCESS," NOT OFFENSIVE

"We would like to call it a process that is encompassing military and non-military instruments," Brigadier General Josef Blotz, the spokesman for NATO forces, told reporters this week.

Funny thing tho, as Juan Cole points out…

… There were 400 attacks in the past week in Afghanistan, 60 percent of them by roadside bomb There were over 1,000 roadside bomb attacks in April 2010, twice as many as in April 2009.

This number of attacks per day, some 57, about 34 of them roadside bombs, is breathtaking. That level of violence is what characterized Iraq in March, 2005, before the Sunni-Shiite civil war. The year 2005 was a bloody year in Iraq, and nobody but then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld doubted we were mired in a vicious guerrilla war.

Among the other signs of increasing violence : The attack on Wednesday by suicide bombers on provincial government buildings and offices in Naranj, the capital of Nimroz Province in the southwest of the country. Among those they targeted for killing was female provincial council member and poet Gul Makai Wakili, a women’s rights activist in Naranj. Two policemen and one other were killed before government forces could cut down the 6 attackers.

We’re clearly losing the war for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Afghans at every juncture…

Shootings of Afghans on Rise at Checkpoints

…Shootings of Afghan civilians by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints have spiked sharply this year, becoming the leading cause of combined civilian deaths and injuries at the hands of Western forces, American officials say.

The steep rise in these convoy and checkpoint attacks — which the military calls “escalation of force incidents” — has prompted military commanders to issue new troop guidelines in recent weeks that include soliciting local Afghan village and tribal elders and other leaders for help preventing convoy and checkpoint shootings.

These shootings are a major reason civilian casualties in Afghanistan are soaring after a much-publicized period of decline.

Such episodes “have taken the lead” in civilian casualties caused by Western forces, said Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the day-to-day operational commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. “We’ve really got to figure out how to solve that problem, and it’s really a challenge to the leadership. It’s a challenge to discipline.”

What exactly are we doing in Afghanistan again…?