Gareth Porter writes:
For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a “city of 80,000 people” as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marjah was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centers in Helmand.
It turns out, however, that the picture of Marjah presented by military officials and obediently reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as a historic turning point in the conflict.
Marjah is not a city or even a real town, but either a few clusters of farmers’ homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmand River Valley.
“It’s not urban at all,” an official of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), who asked not to be identified, admitted to IPS Sunday. He called Marjah a “rural community.”
Not surprisingly, it’s hard to find photographs of Marjah’s “city center”. Even so, it’s reasonable to infer that the flag-raising ceremony that took place on February 25 when the Afghan central government reclaimed control of Marjah would have taken place at some sort of center, near some sort of prominent civic building.
This is the occasion:
Two days earlier, while US Marines were conducting counterinsurgency operations “through a residential area of the city” one soldier found time to pet goats:
Just as I suspected. Marja was nothing more than planned propaganda propagated to convince the American people that we are winning Over There when no such thing is happening. Besides there’s that bundle of bucks that Petraeus/McChrystal are looking for from you and me to keep on ‘just for a little while longer’.
pretty nitpicking — is the difference between urban and rural the only grounds for the accusation of propaganda? I mean this is one of the least urbanized countries in the world. Instead of preemptively trashing it, how about we adopt a ‘lets see if this works out’ attitude for once?
I’m with Jason, I’ve had 4 nephews serve a total of 7 tours total between Iraq and Afghanistan, I in particular had never supported the Iraq invasion, and rightly or wrongly felt we again dropped the ball in Afghanistan (as we did with the with drawl /retreat of the USSR) to pursue the Bush vendetta in Iraq, that being said, I believe we have to wait and give this Obama Alternative a chance to play through,. Most readers of the MSM don’t know the difference between Kabul and Karachi, so whether or not Marjah is a rural agricultural area or an Urban area matters not, only that we and the combined forces are attempting to regin control of the countryside. You have to start somewhere. I have little honest hope of real success in Afghanistan as defined by a Victory of some sort. I do hold out hope that in the time alloted that an Afghani gov’t of some sort of creditability can be composed to lead it’s people out of the desperation of the horrendously preceding quarter century plus. It’s not the time to pull the plug on our involvement
During Vietnam Porter and I debated from opposite sides but pictires like that gentle reach by Marine Cpl. Michael Murray, make my throat tighten wondering what he’s thinking. Do we not owe it to him to bring him home rather than risk his life so oil corporations can lay pipeline safely accross Afghnaistan from oil&gas rich “stans” above it to Pakistani warm-water ports to the South? How much are our patriotic mom&dad soldiers supposed to pay in blood and broken dreams so that Americans can fill-er-up cheap their SUVs? Former DNI McConnell declare access to hydrocrabons national security issue #1. Have we so degenerated that we trade blood for oil to enrich oil companies rather than invest in development oif our own resources? Give-em Hell Gareth!!!
I think that the “Oil” Webb is anybodies guess, not so much rooted in fact or reality. This little run-up, appears more likely to be a practice with the integrated forces for the objective coming up, that being Kandahar, in typical fashion. Mass troops, surrounding the area, much like when Alexander fought the Persians. At this point in time, the “Opium” being produced and exported to Russia & the Western Countries, continues unabated. That has been going on ever since shortly after 9/11. Considering the huge profits involved, one would have to be like the proverbial “3 Monkeys” or on another Planet, perhaps Mars. It shouldn’t take a kettle of Salamanders to figure out who’s running the show. A look back to the 70’s Golden Triangle, the greening of Colombia, the Crack connection, the Chrystal Meths, now the back to the Opium. But wait, isn’t there a vast corrupt Government in Afghanistan? Isn’t there also one in Iraq? The U.S.A. taxpayer footing all those Trillions down the Rat Hole, apologies to the Rat, with no end in sight. The Octopus has grown too big, its appetite insatiable, doesn’t bode well for the future. When all else fails, go Nuclear, as looks to be the case. Of course, perhaps when the Hadron goes full power, probably next year, the fear some have that it will create a “Black Hole” and proceed to gobble up the Earth, might be the solution.
The importance of Central Asian oil, Mr. Morley, requires looking back to before Bush– Bill Clinton’s dealings with Taliban. If Afghanistan is seen as more peripheral, rather than the center, and the Shanghai Accord’s activities in the other “stans” is looked at, the “oil&gas” look much more real. Here’s just two good books:
“THE GREAT GAME” is a lot greater than alQaeda and Taliban. Our soldiers have become a gas&oil expeditionary army that seems to lose out to China. The facts are out there we just have to take time and find them. A lot of ugliness goes on in our name under all those corporate logos and our volunteer mom&dad soldiers are paying with their lives so we can fill-er-up our gas-guzzling SUVs.