American Marines secured this desolate village in southern Afghanistan nearly two months ago, and last week they were fortifying bases, on duty at checkpoints and patrolling in full body armor in 120-degree heat. Despite those efforts, only a few hundred Afghans were persuaded to come out here and vote for president on Thursday.
It all raises serious questions about what the American mission is in southern Afghanistan — to secure the area, or to administer it — and about how long Afghans will tolerate foreign troops if they do not begin to see real benefits from their own government soon. American commanders say there is a narrow window to win over local people from the guerrillas.
We are an army of occupation in Afghanistan, which has just reinstalled a puppet government in the country, with many candidates who might truly represent the Afghan people, banished from even appearing on the ballots.
We are in Afghanistan for two reasons; the first, in which we are failing spectacularly, is the installation of pipelines to control Eurasian oil.
The second, at which the US government seems to be succeeding brilliantly, is protecting the Afghan drug trade, from which so many profit so well.
About to have a cerebro-vascular accident at that last statement, and find yourself clutching your head, and screaming, "how can this be? This cannot, cannot be what we have been paying (and will continue to pay) in blood and money to accomplish in Afghanistan!"
Think again, carefully.
As reported by Thomas Schweich in the New York Times, 27 July, 2008, "Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?"
"The plan was simple. The Afghan Poppy Eradication Force would go to Helmand Province with two battalions of the national army and eradicate the fields of the wealthier farmers — including fields owned by local officials. Protecting the eradication force would also enable the arrest of key traffickers. The U.S. military, which trained the Afghan army, would assist in moving the soldiers there and provide outer-perimeter security. The U.S. military would not participate directly in eradication or arrest operations; it would only enable them."
"But once again, Karzai and his Pentagon friends thwarted the plan. First, Anthony Harriman was replaced at the National Security Council by a colonel who held the old-school Pentagon view that “we don’t do the drug thing.” He would not let me see General Lute or Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, when the force-protection plans failed to materialize. We asked numerous Pentagon officials to lobby the defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, for immediate force protection, but they did little."
Schweich was certainly in a position to know; he was the former State Department Counter Narcotics officer in Afghanistan.
Also, as reported in Al Jazeera.net, 28 July 2008:
"Drug production has skyrocketed since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban."
In 2007, nearly 200,000 hectares of land in Afghanistan was used to cultivate poppy - more than double the area in 2003 – and the country produced 93 per cent of the world's supply of opium, the raw material of heroin."
Chew on that for a while.