Brave New Films & Al Jazeera & The New York Times – 2010-12-15 23:59:34
The War in Afghanistan Is a Failure
Derrick Crowe, Robert Greenwald / Brave New Films
The Obama Administration is about to publish its December review of the Afghanistan War. According to news reports, it’s going to cite “progress,” but the facts on the ground tell a different story. As our new video shows, the Afghanistan War makes us less safe and isn’t worth the cost.
The facts are clear:
â€¢ 2010 is already the deadliest year of the war for US troops, with at least 472 killed this year alone.
â€¢ 2010 is the deadliest year so far for civilians living in the war zone, with more than 2,400 killed this year alone.
â€¢ We’re spending $2 billion / week on the war while Americans are out of work here at home.
Yet, the president and his advisors seem dead-set on damaging their credibility by claiming “progress” in Afghanistan in the face of these easily available facts. As our new video shows, this isnâ€™t progress. Itâ€™s failure.
Help us get the truth out about the Afghanistan War. Watch our new video and share it with your family and friends. We canâ€™t let the administration get away with spinning this disaster of war as a success story. If you haven’t done so already, please join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for all that you do.
Grim Reports Ahead of Afghan Review
Intelligence assessments pessimistic of chances of military success as White House prepares review of conflict.
16 Dec 2010) — As Barack Obama, the US president, prepares to release a review of military strategy in Afghanistan, two classified US intelligence reports on the region have offered a pessimistic view of the chances of success.
The intelligence assessments, the New York Times newspaper reported on Wednesday [see below], would seem at odds with claims from the defense department and White officials that US and NATO troops are making progress against the Taliban.
The National Intelligence Estimates (NIE), represent the consensus view of 16 domestic intelligence agencies without military input and are intended for congressional committees.
The two separate documents, one dealing with Afghanistan and the other with neighboring Pakistan, detail concerns that the US-led fight against the Taliban could fail unless Islamabad takes a much more active role along its border with Afghanistan.
The reports suggest that recent military progress is undermined by a weak and corrupt Afghan government and Pakistan’s reluctance to crackdown on rebels hiding on its side of the border.
Obama was keen to talk up progress on the eve of the release of the strategy review, which is expected to cement a timetable for gradual withdrawal and the handover of security to Afghan forces in 2014.
In a letter to congressional leaders summarizing US military operations overseas, he said US and NATO forces were “gradually pushing insurgents to the edges of secured population areas in a number of important regions, largely resulting from the increase in US forces over the past year.”
“US and ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] forces will continue to execute the strategy of clear-shape-hold-build, and transition, until conditions on the ground allow for the full transition of the lead in operations to the Afghan National Security Forces.”
Obama has sent an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan over the last year, boosting the number of foreign troops to about 150,000, in an attempt to turn the tide in the battle with the Taliban. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) gave a grim assessment of conditions in the country on Wednesday. The ICRC said growing civilian casualties, internal displacement and poor medical care have created a dire humanitarian situation and are likely to persist into next year.
The group said many areas of Afghanistan, particularly in the north, were now inaccessible not only for the ICRC but for the hundreds of other aid groups.
“The proliferation of armed groups threatens the ability of humanitarian organizations to access those in need,” Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan, said. “Access for the ICRC has over the last 30 years never been as poor. The sheer fact the ICRC has organized a press conference … is an expression of us being extremely concerned of yet another year of fighting with dramatic consequences for an ever-growing number of people in by now almost the entire country.”
The ICRC said it expected fighting to increase in the coming year just as it had in 2010, the deadliest year of the war since the Taliban were ousted in late 2001.
On Wednesday, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said its aircraft had accidentally killed an Afghan civilian and wounded two children after a patrol came under attack in southern Helmand province on Tuesday.
Civilian casualties caused by foreign forces have long caused friction between Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and his international allies, although the numbers caused by ISAF troops have fallen since the rules for using air strikes were tightened. Separately, ISAF said a homemade bomb — the most deadly weapon used by rebels — killed three Afghan children and wounded nine people on Wednesday in neighboring Kandahar.
â€¢ Reports reveal Afghan war details
â€¢ Losing the east in Afghanistan
â€¢ Leaked Afghan war files condemned
â€¢ Afghan forces’ flaws exposed
Intelligence Reports Offer Dim View of Afghan War
Elizabeth Bumiller / The New York Times
WASHINGTON (December 14, 2010) — As President Obama prepares to release a review of American strategy in Afghanistan that will claim progress in the nine-year-old war there, two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border.
The reports, one on Afghanistan and one on Pakistan, say that although there have been gains for the United States and NATO in the war, the unwillingness of Pakistan to shut down militant sanctuaries in its lawless tribal region remains a serious obstacle. American military commanders say insurgents freely cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan to plant bombs and fight American troops and then return to Pakistan for rest and resupply.
The findings in the reports, called National Intelligence Estimates, represent the consensus view of the United States’ 16 intelligence agencies, as opposed to the military, and were provided last week to some members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. The findings were described by a number of American officials who read the reports’ executive summaries.
American military commanders and senior Pentagon officials have already criticized the reports as out of date and say that the cut-off date for the Afghanistan report, Oct. 1, does not allow it to take into account what the military cites as tactical gains in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces in the south in the six weeks since. Pentagon and military officials also say the reports were written by desk-bound Washington analysts who have spent limited time, if any, in Afghanistan and have no feel for the war.
“They are not on the ground living it day in and day out like our forces are, so they don’t have the proximity and perspective,” said a senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be identified while criticizing the intelligence agencies.
The official said that the 30,000 additional troops that Mr. Obama ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 did not all arrive until September, meaning that the intelligence agencies had little time to judge the effects of the escalation. There are now about 100,000 American forces in Afghanistan.
The dispute between the military and intelligence agencies reflects how much the debate in Washington over the war is now centered on whether the United States can succeed in Afghanistan without the cooperation of Pakistan, which despite years of American pressure has resisted routing militants on its border.
The dispute also reflects the longstanding cultural differences between intelligence analysts, whose job is to warn of potential bad news, and military commanders, who are trained to promote “can do” optimism.
But in Afghanistan, the intelligence agencies play a strong role, with the largest Central Intelligence Agency station since the Vietnam War located in Kabul. CIA operatives also command an Afghan paramilitary force in the thousands. In Pakistan, the CIA is running a covert war using drone aircraft.
Both sides have found some areas of agreement in the period leading up to Mr. Obama’s review, which will be made public on Thursday. The intelligence reports, which rely heavily on assessments from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, conclude that CIA drone strikes on leaders of Al Qaeda in the tribal regions of Pakistan have had an impact and that security has improved in the parts of Helmand and Kandahar Provinces in southern Afghanistan where the United States has built up its troop presence.
For their part, American commanders and Pentagon officials say they do not yet know if the war can be won without more cooperation from Pakistan. But after years and billions spent trying to win the support of the Pakistanis, they are now proceeding on the assumption that there will be limited help from them. The American commanders and officials readily describe the havens for insurgents in Pakistan as a major impediment to military operations.
“I’m not going to make any bones about it, theyâ€™ve got sanctuaries and they go back and forth across the border,” Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan, told reporters last week in the remote Kunar Province of Afghanistan. “They’re financed better, they’re better trained, they’re the ones who bring in the higher-end IED’s.” General Campbell was referring to improvised explosive devices, the militaryâ€™s name for the insurgent-made bombs, the leading cause of American military deaths in Afghanistan.
American commanders say their plan in the next few years is to kill large numbers of insurgents in the border region — the military refers to it as “degrading the Taliban” — and at the same time build up the Afghan National Army to the point that the Afghans can at least contain an insurgency still supported by Pakistan. (American officials say Pakistan supports the insurgents as a proxy force in Afghanistan, preparing for the day the Americans leave.)
“That is not the optimal solution, obviously,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former CIA official and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who led a White House review of Afghan strategy last year that resulted in Mr. Obama sending the additional forces. “But we have to deal with the world we have, not the world weâ€™d like. We can’t make Pakistan stop being naughty.”
Publicly, American officials and military commanders continue to praise Pakistan and its military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, if only for acknowledging the problem.
“General Kayani and others have been clear in recognizing that they need to do more for their security and indeed to carry out operations against those who threaten other countries’ security,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said last week.
But many Afghan officials say that the United States, which sends Pakistan about $2 billion in military and civilian aid each year, is coddling Pakistan for no end. “They are capitalizing on your immediate security needs, and they are stuck in this thinking that bad behavior brings cash,” said Amrullah Saleh, the former Afghan intelligence chief, in an interview on Tuesday.
The Pakistan intelligence report also reaffirms past American concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile, particularly the risk that enriched uranium or plutonium could be smuggled out of a laboratory or storage site.
The White House review comes as some members of Mr. Obama’s party are losing patience with the war. “You’re not going to get to the point where the Taliban are gone and the border is perfectly controlled,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr. Smith said there would be increasing pressure from the political left on Mr. Obama to end the war, and he predicted that Democrats in Congress would resist continuing to spend $100 billion annually on Afghanistan.
“We’re not going to be hanging out over there fighting these guys like we’re fighting them now for 20 years,” Mr. Smith said.
Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger contributed reporting.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.