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Archive for December, 2009

Posted by Emily Taylor on December 29th, 2009

I wanted to share some really insightful feedback from a BNF supporter in Stockholm.  Enjoy!

Hi Emily,

The papers reported that only 17 percent of the Swedes agree with giving Obama the Nobel peace prize after announcing escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Only the people of Saudi Arabia and some Muslim countries  are more distrustful to this years Nobel price. (It should not be pronounced – or perceived – as “noble”. It is No-bell… and it was founded on profits from dynamite and oil wars).

Sweden is a neutral and nonaligned country much due to historic reasons. Our nation was almost annihilated by war and plague in the 18th century. We had our wars, but unfortunately there are always shortsighted people who want to revive the bad traditions.

Swedes present government has acted as a  US agent in the EU, encouraging sending more troops, for which it yesterday was thanked by the US Ambassador to Stockholm in Swedes public service radio.

This from all points of view is morally wrong. The Swedish people has great difficulties to accept that Sweden should participate with 500 soldiers in a US/NATO war (39 percent against, 37 for). So we are in not position and have no right to persuade others in that direction.

I read that the honourable Mr. Tom Hayden, who visited Sweden in October to coordinate actions against the war with our former minister of defense Thage G Peterson and Swedish former ambassador to UN Anders Ferm, took off the Obama sticker from his car.

I understand him and it is tragic. So much hope going down the gutter.

The US is spending four times Afghanistan’s GDP every year on waging war in Afghanistan. That is lunacy (the distance to the moon reached a minimum as Mr. Obama came on stage in West Point).

As we did during the Vietnam war, we should join hands across the Atlantic and across the Pacific to stop this war.

I have personally traveled by foot in Afghanistan three times during the war against the Soviets. I laid my life in the hands of the same “crazy”, “fanatic”, “fundamentalist” bearded and absolutely impoverished Afghans that the US are bombing daily now. To me, it was an experience of time traveling, back to biblical times.

Anybody coming without weapons and with a friendly face  to Afghanistan can count on any door to open for her or him. For one night or for a lifetime.

Yours sincerely,

Stefan L., Stockholm

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Posted by Derrick Crowe on December 26th, 2009

Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. The views expressed are his own. Sign our CREDO petition to reject escalation in Afghanistan & join Brave New Foundation’s #NoWar candlelight vigil on Facebook and Twitter.

In a midterm election, you live or die by your base. The party that motivates its base to donate, volunteer and vote more effectively than the other will pick up seats in Congress. Unfortunately for Democratic incumbents, their base opposes the president’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan and wants troops brought home faster than planned. Democratic candidates for the House and Senate, then, must fight the president’s escalation if they want to mitigate their losses in 2010. If they don’t, the Democratic base should (and likely will) sit this one out.

Democrats emphatically oppose the war in Afghanistan and the president’s latest escalation. Prior to the president’s announcement at West Point, 61 percent of Democrats opposed sending more troops to Afghanistan versus 27 who supported an escalation [FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Nov. 17-18, 2009]. A USA TODAY/Gallup poll on November 20-22 found that 57 percent of Democrats wanted to start bringing troops home.

Ferreting out the implications of the post-escalation-announcement polling is slightly more complex, but shows a consistent picture of Democratic opposition to escalation in Afghanistan. When asked about the president’s stated policy combining another escalation with a drawdown beginning in 2011, 58 percent of Democrats expressed their support. However, when the same poll bifurcated the two components of the policy, it became clear that Democrats supported the drawdown date, not the troop increase:

  • A plurality of Democrats (43 percent) believed President Obama was sending “too many” troops.
  • 62 percent of Democrats either agreed with the timetable or wanted the troops to begin coming home sooner.

Gallup concluded:

It may be that while Democrats disagree with the specifics of the timetable as announced, they approve of the idea of having any timetable included. And it may be that while Republicans strongly disagree with the having any timetable included, they approve of the general idea of an increase of troop levels.

Democratic support for the total policy should be heavily weighted, then, toward the drawdown aspect of the plan and not the troop increase. That’s a severe problem for overly optimistic congressional Democrats who want to believe that the president’s speech made political room for them to support escalation. When November 2010 arrives, the only components of the president’s policy in evidence will be escalation and its costs, which the Democratic base loathe. Think about what that will mean if Democrats remain far more concerned with the costs of the Afghanistan policy than with the risk of terrorism (79 percent to 46 percent, respectively).

Pushing policies opposed by your base in a midterm election year is another way of asking to get wrapped in a burlap sack and hit with sticks. James Morone, writing about the health reform fight, explains [h/t Ezra Klein]:

Many Democrats are moving to whittle back health reform in order to win over moderate, fence-sitting, frightened independents.

Big mistake.

Go back and look at the midterm tsunami that swept the Democrats out of office the last time. The turnout for that wave was just 36 percent. Moderate, fence sitting independents don’t vote in midterm elections with a 36 percent turn out.

What really happened back in 1994? The Republican base — jubilant, mobilized and angry — turned out. The Democratic base — dispirited, disenchanted and demobilized — stayed home. As Democrats ponder which way to go in this latest round, they ought to read the political lessons more carefully: Short-term electoral success rests with the base, the people who got excited about “change we can believe in.” Long-term electoral success rests in designing and pushing through a program that then grows very popular.

Klein describes what happens when you jab your thumb in the eye of your base to try to scoop up independents and the spare opposition voter in a midterm cycle:

Dispirited Democrats will stay home. Energized Republicans will press their advantage. Add in that the wave of young voters who were energized by Obama’s campaign probably aren’t going to turn out for the midterm election anyway, and you’re looking at a pretty unfriendly landscape.

Congressional Democrats should already see the warning signs of an ugly election cycle in the voter-intensity tea leaves:

Among Republican respondents, 81 percent said they were definitely or probably going to vote, versus only 14 percent who were definitely or not likely to do so…Among Democrats? A woeful 56-40: Two out of every five Democrats are currently unlikely to vote.

Describing the danger of dampening Democratic turnout by pushing an Afghanistan escalation, MoveOn’s Nita Chaudhary said:

“There is no doubt Washington has to worry about how the base is reacting and feeling…It’s incredibly important heading into next year, because the base knocks on doors, makes phone calls and gives money.”

Bottom line: Congressional Democrats and their kindred spirits beyond Washington, D.C. must get over their reluctance to buck President Obama on Afghanistan if they want to get out of this election cycle with their skin on. Midterm elections are base-centered elections. Winning base-centered elections requires actions that energize the base. If the Democrats in Congress want to stanch the bleeding on this part of the electoral contest, they have to run against the president’s escalation in Afghanistan and fight it every step of the way. And if “our” representatives in Congress won’t fight the Afghanistan escalation, we have to be willing to walk away from them. Cenk Uygur:

If that scares you and you start to worry about damaging a Democratic president, you’re never going to win at this game. You’re never going to get the policies you want. They don’t listen to reason, they listen to power…If you don’t have the stomach for being this tough on Obama and the Democrats, well then you don’t have the stomach for politics. And you will permanently be the Republican’s bitches.

Pushing an Afghanistan policy opposed by the base, supported by the opposition and that will send American boys and girls home in body bags is political malpractice, especially going into an election where more than 80 percent of your opponent’s base is ready to charge into the voting booth. Issues exist in this election cycle other than Afghanistan, and reasons to oppose escalation in Afghanistan exist other than the purely political, but if Democrats won’t even act against escalation to save their own skins, they’ll deserve every bit of the political pain they’ll feel in November.

In 2010, I will not donate, block-walk, or phone bank for any incumbent who fails to take forceful action to stop this escalation and bring our troops home. Fair warning, Democrats: I’m not alone.

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Posted by robertgreenwald on December 23rd, 2009

Below is a message from Congressman Eric Massa, a strong ally on ending the war in Afghanistan:

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, an occasion to gather with friends and family to celebrate the good things in life. This year however, Christmas Eve is a day of great irony and conflict as our nation prepares to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

This year, Christmas Eve falls on the 3,000th day that U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of the very same nation.

As a retired military officer as well as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I know that we cannot turn a blind eye to the lessons of the past. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a disaster and they proved that you cannot win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people through troop surges, and continued occupation. It is critical to note that while we do not view this as an occupation of Afghanistan, it is clear that the people of Afghanistan view our presence as just that.

If you have a few moments, I ask you to watch this extraordinary video, and then read my blog post on Huffington Post and DailyKos.com. In these blog posts, I explain further how you can help pressure Congress to end this war of occupation.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year – and please keep our service members and their families in your thoughts, and prayers now and always.

-Congressman Eric Massa

P.S. If you agree that we should be taking measures to add real security for our country and our allies, please forward this email to your friends and family.

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Posted by Tom Engelhardt on December 22nd, 2009

This dispatch originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

In Nightmares Begin Responsibilities

Why War Will Take No Holiday in 2010

By Tom Engelhardt

Excuse the gloom in the holiday season, but I feel like we’re all locked inside a malign version of the movie Groundhog Day. You remember, the one in which the characters are forced to relive the same 24 hours endlessly.  Put more personally, TomDispatch started in November 2001 as an email to friends in response to the first moments of our latest Afghan War.  More than eight years later… well, you know the story.

Worse yet, the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that a startling 58% of Americans, otherwise in a mighty gloomy mood, support the president’s latest “surge” in Afghanistan which will extend that war into the dismal future.  And worse than that, in Afghanistan as in Iraq, from the point of view of official Washington, next year won’t really count for much.  The crucial decisions on both wars will evidently leapfrog 2010.  So, on that score, we might as well just mark the year off on our calendars now.

(more…)

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Posted by Derrick Crowe on December 18th, 2009

AFP reports that a NATO airstrike from a helicopter gunship killed three civilian men and wounded a woman in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) press release claims the helicopter crew fired at men placing IEDs next to the road and afterwards “discovered civilians in a car adjacent to the IED site.”

On Thursday, a “roadside mine” killed another seven civilians in Kandahar province.

Expect more civilian casualties as President Obama’s latest escalation sends more troops into Kandahar. Most civilians killed by insurgents die from IEDs and suicide attacks, while airstrikes in support of troops in combat account for most civilians killed by NATO and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. When this summer’s Operation Khanjar pushed into Helmand province, anti-Kabul-government forces responded by laying more IEDs, which led to a severe spike in civilian deaths.

Based on the Helmand experience, we know sending more troops into insurgent-controlled areas will mean IED attacks. We know new IED attacks will mean many more civilian deaths, not to mention the number of civilians that will be directly killed by U.S. forces. We’re doing it anyway. The people who will be killed have a right to life that exists independently of our goals in the region. We’re essentially making a decision for them that it’s better for them to be dead than under the thumb of the Taliban. If they want to make that decision, fine, let them. But that’s not our decision.

End the war in Afghanistan. Bring the troops home.

Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. The views expressed are his own. Sign our CREDO petition to reject escalation in Afghanistan & join Brave New Foundation’s #NoWar candlelight vigil on Facebook and Twitter. But make these your first steps as an activist to end this war, not your last.

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Posted by robertgreenwald on December 17th, 2009

On Tuesday morning, your voice was heard in the United States House of Representatives.

Over 100,000 people signed the petition from Brave New Foundation, Credo Mobile and True Majority calling on Congress to vote against any bill to fund troop escalation in Afghanistan. Yesterday, Congressman Alan Grayson read the petition aloud from the House floor, asking his colleagues to vote NO.

Rep. Grayson’s action was a step forward in demonstrating to Congress our opposition to the war. But we’re far from achieving the groundswell we need to bring the war to an end. Let’s keep the momentum going.

The first step to ending the war is explaining to our friends and family why we need to bring the troops home now. We’ve created a new tool to allow you to send a video to your friends that matches to a specific concern about the war. Send a video to five of your friends today.

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Posted by Tom Engelhardt on December 17th, 2009

This post was originally published at TomDispatch.com.

Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, put the matter this way recently: “[N]ext to Antarctica, Afghanistan is probably the most incommodious place, from a logistics point of view, to be trying to fight a war… It’s landlocked and rugged, and the road network is much, much thinner than in Iraq. Fewer airports, different geography.”  In other words, we might as well be fighting on the moon.  In translation, this means at least one thing: don’t believe any of the figures coming out of the White House or the Pentagon about what this war is going to cost.

As Jo Comerford, executive director of the National Priorities Project points out below, the president’s $30 billion figure for getting those 30,000-plus new surge troops into Afghanistan is going to prove a “through-the-basement estimate.”  As for the dates for getting them in and beginning to get them out?  Well, it’s grain-of-salt time there, too.  According to Steven Mufson and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, some of the fuel storage facilities being built to support the surge troops won’t even be completed by the time the first of them are scheduled to leave the country, 18 months from now.

And keep in mind the endless, and endlessly vulnerable, supply lines on which so much of that fuel — and almost everything else the U.S. military has to have to survive — travels.  Along those mountainous roads, trucks are “lost,” or Taliban-commandeered, or bribes are paid for passage, or some are simply destroyed in what can only be thought of as an underreported supply-line war.  All of this adds immeasurably to the staggering expense of the project.  According to August Cole of the Wall Street Journal, in fuel terms alone, to support a single soldier in Afghanistan costs between $200,000 and $350,000 a year.

And while we’re at it: don’t expect all those surging troops to make it into Afghanistan any time soon.  In the heroic tales of presidential surge deliberations (based on copious White House leaks) that appeared soon after the president’s West Point speech, much was made of how Obama himself had insisted on speeding up the plan to get the extra troops in place.  All would arrive, the White House said, within six months.  That was quickly changed to approximately eight months.  Now, Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, deputy commander of American and NATO forces there, has just announced that it will take nine to eleven months (or maybe even “up to a year”), and that’s if none of the factors that could go wrong do — something not worth putting your money on when it comes to the Afghan War.

If all this leaves you with lingering worries about the success of both the surge and the war, you can put them to rest, however.  NBC’s Richard Engel found a “military schematic,” a single chart from the office of the Joint Chiefs, that offers a visual representation of the military’s full surge/counterinsurgency strategy.  It has to be seen to be believed.  (Just click here.)  It lays out as a flow chart (or perhaps overflow chart would be the more accurate description) just how our war will achieve success.  What could possibly go wrong with such a plan?  It’s hard to imagine.  In the meantime, let Comerford give you a little lesson in the economics of the Afghan War, and what we could have done with that low-ball figure of $30 billion, had we chosen not to fight a war on the moon.  Tom

$57,077.60

Surging by the Minute

By Jo Comerford

$57,077.60. That’s what we’re paying per minute. Keep that in mind — just for a minute or so.

After all, the surge is already on. By the end of December, the first 1,500 U.S. troops will have landed in Afghanistan, a nation roughly the size of Texas, ranked by the United Nations as second worst in the world in terms of human development.

Women and men from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be among the first to head out. It takes an estimated $1 million to send each of them surging into Afghanistan for one year. So a 30,000-person surge will be at least $30 billion, which brings us to that $57,077.60.  That’s how much it will cost you, the taxpayer, for one minute of that surge.

By the way, add up the yearly salary of a Marine from Camp Lejeune with four years of service, throw in his or her housing allowance, additional pay for dependents, and bonus pay for hazardous duty, imminent danger, and family separation, and you’ll still be many thousands of dollars short of that single minute’s sum.

But perhaps this isn’t a time to quibble. After all, a job is a job, especially in the United States, which has lost seven million jobs since December 2007, while reporting record-high numbers of people seeking assistance to feed themselves and/or their families. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 36 million Americans, including one out of every four children, are currently on food stamps.

On the other hand, given the woeful inadequacy of that “safety net,” we might have chosen to direct the $30 billion in surge expenditures toward raising the average individual monthly Food Stamp allotment by $70 for the next year; that’s roughly an additional trip to the grocery store, every month, for 36 million people. Alternatively, we could have dedicated that $30 billion to job creation. According to a recent report issued by the Political Economy Research Institute, that sum could generate a whopping 537,810 construction jobs, 541,080 positions in healthcare, fund 742,740 teachers or employ 831,390 mass transit workers.

For purposes of comparison, $30 billion — remember, just the Pentagon-estimated cost of a 30,000-person troop surge — is equal to 80% of the total U.S. 2010 budget for international affairs, which includes monies for development and humanitarian assistance. On the domestic front, $30 billion could double the funding (at 2010 levels) for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Or think of the surge this way: if the United States decided to send just 29,900 extra soldiers to Afghanistan, 100 short of the present official total, it could double the amount of money — $100 million — it has allocated to assist refugees and returnees from Afghanistan through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Leaving aside the fact that the United States already accounts for 45% of total global military spending, the $30 billion surge cost alone would place us in the top-ten for global military spending, sandwiched between Italy and Saudi Arabia. Spent instead on “soft security” measures within Afghanistan, $30 billion could easily build, furnish and equip enough schools for the entire nation.

Continuing this nod to the absurd for just one more moment, if you received a silver dollar every second, it would take you 960 years to haul in that $30 billion. Not that anyone could hold so much money. Together, the coins would weigh nearly 120 tons, or more than the poundage of 21,000 Asian elephants, an aircraft carrier, or the Washington Monument. Converted to dollar bills and laid end-to-end, $30 billion would reach 2.9 million miles or 120 times around the Earth.

One more thing, that $30 billion isn’t even the real cost of Obama’s surge. It’s just a minimum, through-the-basement estimate. If you were to throw in all the bases being built, private contractors hired, extra civilians sent in, and the staggering costs of training a larger Afghan army and police force (a key goal of the surge), the figure would surely be startlingly higher. In fact, total Afghanistan War spending for 2010 is now expected to exceed $102.9 billion, doubling last year’s Afghan spending. Thought of another way, it breaks down to $12 million per hour in taxpayer dollars for one year. That’s equal to total annual U.S. spending on all veteran’s benefits, from hospital stays to education.

In Afghan terms, our upcoming single year of war costs represents nearly five times that country’s gross domestic product or $3,623.70 for every Afghan woman, man, and child. Given that the average annual salary for an Afghan soldier is $2,880 and many Afghans seek employment in the military purely out of economic desperation, this might be a wise investment — especially since the Taliban is able to pay considerably more for its new recruits. In fact, recent increases in much-needed Afghan recruits appear to correlate with the promise of a pay raise.

All of this is, of course, so much fantasy, since we know just where that $30-plus billion will be going.  In 2010, total Afghanistan War spending since November 2001 will exceed $325 billion, which equals the combined annual military spending of Great Britain, China, France, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.  If we had never launched an invasion of Afghanistan or stayed on fighting all these years, those war costs, evenly distributed in this country, would have meant a $2,298.80 dividend per U.S. taxpayer.

Even as we calculate the annual cost of war, the tens of thousands of Asian elephants in the room are all pointing to $1 trillion in total war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan.  The current escalation in Afghanistan coincides with that rapidly-approaching milestone. In fact, thanks to Peter Baker’s recent New York Times report on the presidential deliberations that led to the surge announcement, we know that the trillion-dollar number for both wars may be a gross underestimate. The Office of Management and Budget sent President Obama a memo, Baker tells us, suggesting that adding General McChrystal’s surge to ongoing war costs, over the next 10 years, could mean — forget Iraq — a trillion dollar Afghan War.

At just under one-third of the 2010 U.S. federal budget, $1 trillion essentially defies per-hour-per-soldier calculations. It dwarfs all other nations’ military spending, let alone their spending on war. It makes a mockery of food stamps and schools. To make sense of this cost, we need to leave civilian life behind entirely and turn to another war. We have to reach back to the Vietnam War, which in today’s dollars cost $709.9 billion — or $300 billion less than the total cost of the two wars we’re still fighting, with no end in sight, or even $300 billion less than the long war we may yet fight in Afghanistan.

Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project. Previously, she served as director of programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and directed the American Friends Service Committee’s justice and peace-related community organizing efforts in western Massachusetts.

[Note: Jo would like to acknowledge the analysis and numbers crunching of Chris Hellman and Mary Orisich, members of the National Priorities Project's research team, without whom this piece would not have been possible.]

Copyright 2009 Jo Comerford

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Posted by Derrick Crowe on December 14th, 2009

Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. The views expressed are his own. Sign our CREDO petition to reject escalation in Afghanistan & join Brave New Foundation’s #NoWar candlelight vigil on Facebook and Twitter. But make these your first steps as an activist to end this war, not your last.

Once again, the United States is rattling a saber about killing people in Quetta, despite all the inevitable civilian death and mass outrage. Such a move would show the shallowness of the “just war” talk in President Obama’s disgraceful Nobel paean to Mars. Quetta is a city of 850,000 people, which is somewhere between the size of Detroit, Michigan and San Francisco, California. Imagine targeting a person or group with a drone-borne, 500-lbs., roughly 125,600-square-foot-effective-kill-area [pi x (effective kill radius of 200 ft., squared)] bomb in San Francisco’s Union Square, and you get some idea of the civilian death and injury we’re talking about. (Actually, this kill area is larger than Union Square…)

And if you think that the U.S. would never use a drone to drop that kind of weapon on a mass of noncombatants that might also contain Taliban heavies, you’d be wrong.

According to Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, between 35-40 percent of those killed by drone strikes are civilians, and that’s a middle-of-the-road estimate. David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum estimated that as many as 50 civilians die for every two militants. The drones have been used in such an indiscriminate way that British legal expert Lord Bingham, a senior law lord, said:

the aircraft could follow other weapons considered “so cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance” in being consigned to the history books. He likened drones, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza, to cluster bombs and landmines.

Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter expresses a similar sentiment in his recent Truthdig column:

Rather than furthering the U.S. cause in the “war on terror,” the [remotely piloted vehicle] RPV program, which President Obama seeks to expand in the Af-Pak theater, in reality represents a force-enhancement tool for the Taliban. Its indiscriminate application of death and destruction serves as a recruitment vehicle, with scores of new jihadists rising up to replace each individual who might have been killed by a missile attack. Like the surge that it is designed to complement, the expanded RPV program plays into the hands of those whom America is ostensibly targeting. While the U.S. military, aided by a fawning press, may seek to disguise the reality of the RPV program through catchy slogans such as “warheads through foreheads,” in reality it is murder by another name.

If the U.S. pushes ahead with the idea of targeting suspected militants in Quetta, we can put this idea of “just war” to bed. Or, in any of the inevitable civilian graves.

Cross-posted from Return Good for Evil.

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Posted by Tom Engelhardt on December 10th, 2009

In his Afghan “surge” speech at West Point last week, President Obama offered Americans some specifics to back up his new “way forward in Afghanistan.”  He spoke of the “additional 30,000 U.S. troops” he was sending into that country over the next six months.  He brought up the “roughly $30 billion” it would cost us to get them there and support them for a year.  And finally, he spoke of beginning to bring them home by July 2011.  Those were striking enough numbers, even if larger and, in terms of time, longer than many in the Democratic Party would have cared for.  Nonetheless, they don’t faintly cover just how fully the president has committed us to an expanding war and just how wide it is likely to become.

Despite the seeming specificity of the speech, it gave little sense of just how big and how expensive this surge will be.  In fact, what is being portrayed in the media as the surge of November 2009 is but a modest part of an ongoing expansion of the U.S. war effort in many areas.  Looked at another way, the media’s focus on the president’s speech as the crucial moment of decision, and on those 30,000 new troops as the crucial piece of information, has distorted what’s actually underway.

In reality, the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration.  Unfortunately, while information on this is available, and often well reported, it’s scattered in innumerable news stories on specific aspects of the war.  You have to be a media jockey to catch it all, no less put it together.

What follows, then, is my own attempt to make sense of the nine fronts on which the U.S. has been surging, and continues to do so, as 2009 ends.  Think of this as an effort to widen our view of Obama’s widening war.

Obama’s Nine Surges

1.  The Troop Surge: Let’s start with those “30,000” new troops the president announced.  First of all, they represent Obama’s surge, phase 2.  As the president pointed out in his speech, there were “just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan” when he took office in January 2009.  In March, Obama announced that he was ordering in 21,000 additional troops.  Last week, when he spoke, there were already approximately 68,000 to 70,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  If you add the 32,000 already there in January and the 21,700 actually dispatched after the March announcement, however, you only get 53,700, leaving another 15,000 or so to be accounted for.  According to Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, 11,000 of those were “authorized in the waning days of the Bush administration and deployed this year,” bringing the figure to between 64,000 and 65,000.  In other words, the earliest stage of the present Afghan “surge” was already underway when Obama arrived.

(more…)

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Posted by robertgreenwald on December 9th, 2009

Four Afghanistan veterans speak out on how Obama’s plan to send more troops is a step in the wrong direction. Sign the petition telling Congress to vote NO on any bill funding a troop surge.

Sign the petition now.

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