Obama plans to send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan

Obama plans to send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan

President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he’s called “a war of necessity” in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told McClatchy.

Obama is expected to announce his long-awaited decision on Dec. 1, followed by meetings on Capitol Hill aimed at winning congressional support amid opposition by some Democrats who are worried about the strain on the U.S. Treasury and whether Afghanistan has become a quagmire, the officials said.

The U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and because, one official said, the White House is incensed by leaks on its Afghanistan policy that didn’t originate in the White House. [continued…]

We can’t buy peace in Afghanistan

So now we know the secret weapon of the the new western plan to pacify Afghanistan: cash. As President Obama prepares to announce the expected dispatch of tens of thousands more troops to America’s eight-year-old war and occupation, US and British commanders on the ground have already begun to fund and equip Afghan militias to help fight the Taliban.

The idea behind the homely sounding Community Defence Initiative is to buy off disaffected fighters and create loyal tribal auxiliaries to support Nato occupation forces and the Afghan government. It’s the other leg of US General McChrystal’s plan for a military surge to turn round the deepening crisis of the Afghan war – and is directly modelled on the US surge of 2007 in Iraq.

That combined a large increase in US troop numbers with the creation of American-funded “awakening councils” out of parts of Iraq’s Sunni-based resistance who had come into conflict with al-Qaida. It led to an initial increase in violence and American deaths, followed by a sharp decrease in both thereafter. [continued…]

Why they hate us (I): on military occupation

One of the many barriers to developing a saner U.S. foreign policy is our collective failure to appreciate why military occupations generate so much hatred, resentment, and resistance, and why we should therefore go to enormous lengths to avoid getting mired in them. Costly occupations are an activity you hope your adversaries undertake, especially in areas of little intrinsic strategic value. We blundered into Somalia in the early 1990s without realizing that we weren’t welcome; we invaded Iraq thinking we would be greeted as liberators, and we still don’t fully understand why many Afghans resent our presence and why some are driven to take up arms against us.

The American experience is hardly unique: Britain’s occupation of Iraq after World War I triggered fierce opposition, and British forces in Mandate Palestine eventually faced armed resistance from both Arab and Zionist groups. French rule in Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, and Indochina spawned several violent resistance movements, and Russia has fought Chechen insurgents in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The Shiite population of southern Lebanon initially welcomed Israel’s invasion in 1982, but the IDF behaved badly and stayed too long, which led directly to the formation of Hezbollah. Israelis were also surprised by the first intifida in 1987, having mistakenly assumed that their occupation of the West Bank was benevolent and that the Palestinians there would be content to be governed by the IDF forever. [continued…]

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