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Afghan war takes a hit

Glasnost sweeps Britain as questions mount over the purpose of the mission
Toronto Sun
1st February 2009
Eric Margolis
Britain's security minister, Lord West, just dropped a bombshell by declaring his nation's military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan had fuelled global radicalism against Britain and the U.S.
West described as "bollocks" former PM Tony Blair's claims the so-called "war on terror" had nothing to do with growing Islamic radicalism. This comes soon after Britain's foreign secretary, David Miliband, called the term "war on terror," deceptive and damaging.
In an extraordinary move, cabinet minutes of Tony Blair's decision to invade Iraq may be made public shortly, raising the possibility of serious criminal charges -- even war crimes -- against senior British officials
While glasnost sweeps London, in Washington, it's deja vu. President Barack Obama vows to plunge the U.S. ever deeper into the eight-year-old Afghan conflict begun by former president George W. Bush by doubling the number of U.S. troops and aircraft there.
Obama's unfortunate move demonstrates political inexperience. A change of administration in Washington, and departure of the reviled Bush, offered an ideal opportunity for Washington to declare a pause in the Afghan war and reassess its policies. It also offered an ideal chance to offer negotiations to the Taliban and its growing number of supporters.
The Afghan war will have to be ended by a political settlement that includes the Taliban-led nationalist alliance that represents over half of Afghanistan's population. There simply is no military solution to this grinding conflict -- as even the secretary general of NATO admits.
Hornet's nest
But instead of diplomacy, the new administration has elected to stick its head ever deeper into the Afghan hornet's nest. The 20,000-30,000 more U.S. troops slated to go to Afghanistan will be standing on a smoking volcano: Pakistan.
The Afghan war is relentlessly seeping into Pakistan, enflaming its people against the NATO powers and, as Lord West rightly says, generating new jihadist forces.
Why are Obama and his advisers committed to expanding a war where there are no vital U.S. interests? Oil is certainly one reason. The proposed route for pipelines taking oil and gas from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea coast run right through Taliban-Pashtun territory.
But there is another important reason. Washington arm-twisted the reluctant NATO alliance -- Canada included -- into sending troops to Afghanistan.
The war is now going very badly for the U.S.-led forces as their vulnerable supply lines come increasingly under Taliban attack.
Here in Europe, the majority of public opinion opposes the Afghanistan war as a brazen colonial adventure for oil.
The U.S. could survive a defeat in Afghanistan, as it did in Vietnam. But the NATO alliance might not.
The end of the cold war and collapse of the U.S.S.R. removed the raison d'etre of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was created to resist Soviet invasion of Western Europe.
NATO'S purpose
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, America's smartest strategist, NATO serves as a "stepping stone" for America's domination of Europe.
Japan fulfils the same role for the U.S. in Asia. The Soviet Union similarly used the defunct Warsaw Pact to dominate Eastern Europe.
The U.S. also uses NATO to help deter the creation of a truly united -- and rival -- Europe with its own unified armed forces.
NATO's defeat in Afghanistan would raise questions over the alliance's continuing purpose and obedience to U.S. strategic demands -- Afghanistan being a prime example. Calls inevitably will come for empowerment of the European Defence Union, an independent European armed force that answers to the EU Brussels, not to Washington.
This, I believe, is one of the primary reasons why vested interests in Washington have prevailed on the young, inexperienced president to expand the war in Afghanistan. America's influence in Europe depends on victory in Afghanistan.
The U.S. and its western auxiliaries cannot be seen to be defeated by a bunch of lightly-armed Afghan tribesmen.
The last empire that affronted them, the mighty Soviet Union, lost and quickly fell apart.
Its imperial rival, the United States, clearly took this dire lesson to heart.
Copyright 2009 Toronto Sun
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