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How pathetic a scene was this: The president of the United States, commander-in-chief of the mightiest war machine the world has ever known, sneaking into one of the poorest countries in the world and meeting with the corrupt leader of that country, where he has committed 100,000 troops to battle, to beg with that corrupt leader to clean up his corrupt and profoundly inept government.
Already, a thousand American soldiers as well as many civilian aid workers, not to mention tens of thousands of innocent Afghans, have died in an eight-year war that the US launched in 2001, originally with the intent solely of ousting the existing Taliban government and destroying the bases of mostly Arab fighters who had been assisting the Taliban in their fight against Russian-allied warlords.
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Over the years, with the Al Qaeda fighters destroyed or pushed out of Afghanistan, the war has grown and morphed into a grinding and so far losing battle against indigenous Taliban fighters and Afghan nationalists and tribalists who are trying trying to drive out the US. But after eight years of fighting, the goal of the war, on the American side, has only become less and less clear.
That goal now appears to be: crushing the Taliban and creating a modern, functioning nation state with a government that at least has the grudging respect of the populace.
But none of that is really likely to happen.
The US military recently staged a fake, movie-set battle in a rural area of southeastern Afghanistan, claiming it was assaulting a large town of 80,000, allegedly infested with Taliban fighters an alleged center of the insurgency. With the support of an either duped or incredibly corrupt US press corps, the military went into the area, which was actually a group of scattered farming villages with a central market, claiming it would operate under new rules of engagement designed to protect civilians, and then, after clearing out the Taliban, set up a model government administration.
Things went badly from the start, when the Marines fired a rocket salvo into a home and killed 12 innocent civilians, including children. In the end some 30 civilians were killed, very few actual Taliban fighters were killed or captured, as they fled the scene in the weeks leading up to the highly advertised offensive, and to cap it off, the Afghan soldiers who hung behind as the Marines went into the area, when they did finally enter the battle zone themselves, proceeded to strip the market area, stealing anything of value.
March 30, 2010