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Hungry for Some Truth on the Afghanistan War

Posted by Derrick Crowe on November 29th, 2010

When will the Obama administration stop damaging its credibility by denying the failure of the Afghanistan War? It seems every day we get another report showing that the Taliban’s momentum continues despite President Obama’s massive troop increase. But, somehow, the administration’s talking points seem to stay the same.

Some of us are hungry for some truth on the Afghanistan War. And, thanks to how much money we’re wasting on this war, millions of us are just hungry.

Let’s satisfy that hunger for truth first. The latest report from the International Crisis Group (ICG) says:

“While success is being measured in numbers of insurgents killed or captured, there is little proof that the operations have disrupted the insurgency’s momentum or increased stability. The [official] storyline does not match facts on the ground.

“…As violence has increased, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have proven a poor match for the Taliban. Casualties among Afghan and ISAF forces have spiked, as have civilian casualties. Afghanistan still lacks a cohesive national security strategy and the Afghan military and police remain dangerously fragmented and highly politicised. On the other side, despite heavy losses in the field, insurgent groups are finding new recruits in Pakistan’s borderlands, stretching from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to Balochistan, and using the region to regroup, reorganise and rearm, with the support and active involvement of al-Qaeda, Pakistani jihadi groups and the Pakistan military. This strategic advantage has allowed the insurgency to proliferate in nearly every corner of the country. Contrary to U.S. rhetoric of the momentum shifting, dozens of districts are now firmly under Taliban control.

None of this, of course, affected the Obama administration’s willingness to blow smoke in our faces about “progress” and “momentum.” Here’s Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton on November 23, 2010:

“Broadly, I’d say in Afghanistan, we have been able to make a lot of security progress. We’ve broken the momentum of the Taliban…”

A few days prior to that, President Obama said essentially the same thing:

“With the additional resources that we’ve put in place we’re now achieving our objective of breaking the Taliban’s momentum…”

These assessments are laughable, and they’re contradicted even by the Pentagon’s own reporting to Congress delivered within the last week:

“…Organizationally, the insurgency’s capabilities and operational reach have been qualitatively and geographically expanding, as evidenced by a greater frequency and wider dispersion of insurgent-initiated attacks; however, that spread is being increasingly challenged by the ISAF surge forces conducting operations. Despite the increase in ANSF and ISAF capabilities to counter insurgent attacks, the insurgents’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) continue to evolve in sophistication.”

Yet, even after this report, and in the face of the International Crisis Group’s report, the administration continues the dishonest happy talk. Since that’s the case, why should we believe the administration when they tell us the results of their strategy review in December?

For whatever reason, the administration is not telling the truth about the Afghanistan War. They are either ignorant, deceived, or deceiving on this point. Take your pick.

Meanwhile, the president is putting taxpayers on the hook for another half-trillion dollars that will be wasted on extending the Afghanistan War all the way to 2014, rather than on getting us back on our feet at home.

That brings us back to the folks that are hungry.

In 1952, President Eisenhower said:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children….This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross.”

Last year, 50.2 million people in the U.S. didn’t know where their next meal would come from, with a very disproportionately high percentage of them being Black or Hispanic. Those numbers are rising. If we ended the war today, we’d save enough money to roughly double the amount of money we spend on helping hungry Americans eat each year (.pdf). Eisenhower was right–war is stealing the food right out of our mouths.

Just something to think about the next time the administration lies to you about the money-sucking disaster in Afghanistan.

If you’re fed up with wasting hundreds of billions on a war that’s not making us safer, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter.

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