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Decades More War In Afghanistan? Billions More Stolen From U.S. Taxpayers?

Posted by DownWithTyranny on November 25th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Apparently, President Obama didn’t really mean “complete,” at least not in the sense anyone ever uses that word, when he said the transition out of Afghanistan would be complete by the end of 2014. As Maddow reported– in the video below– the plan is to have “an enduring presence in Afghanistan even after the war is technically over.” And that means U.S. troops, not to mention billions of taxpayer dollars sinking into that blackbox hellhole. With the help of Richard Engel, Maddow started getting the word out that there are plans to formalize an agreement to prolong some sort of U.S. occupation for years and years and years into the future. Engel: “What is clear when you see a draft of this document is that U.S. officials and Afghan officials, behind closed doors, have been very hard at work hammering out a detailed agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay here– that in fact would require an enduring U.S. presence for decades– or at least a decade or more.”

Can can watch Engel discussing his scoop with Maddow below or read about it here. One takeaway is that “Afghan negotiators want a long-term U.S. presence, with U.S. forces and contractors providing intelligence, training and funding, but also to keep American forces as confined as possible. It shows Afghans want to keep their U.S. partners, but on their terms. It also suggests the United States is not confident that without a long-term commitment, the Afghan government can bring stability or effectively fight terrorism.”

The 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is a sweeping document, vague in places, highly specific in others, defining everything from the types of future missions U.S. troops would be allowed to conduct in Afghanistan, to the use of radios and the taxation of American soldiers and contractors.

The bilateral security agreement will be debated this week in Kabul by around 2,500 village elders, academics and officials in a traditional Loya Jirga. While the Loya Jirga is strictly consultative, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he won’t sign it without the Jirga’s approval.

…Taken as a whole, the document describes a basic U.S.-Afghan exchange. Afghanistan would allow Washington to operate military bases to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda after the current mission ends in 2014. For that foothold in this volatile mountain region wedged between Pakistan and Iran, the United States would agree to sustain and equip Afghanistan’s large security force, which the government in Kabul currently cannot afford. The deal, according to the text, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015 and “shall remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond.” It could be terminated by either Washington or Kabul with two years advance written notice.

There is however what U.S. officials believe is a contradiction in the July draft, which would effectively ask American troops to provide training and confront al-Qaeda from the confines of bases. While it says operations against al-Qaeda may be necessary, it also says US troops will not be allowed to make arrests or enter Afghan homes.

“No detention or arrest shall be carried out by the United States forces. The United States forces shall not search any homes or other real estate properties,” it says.

“[The contradiction] was a matter of serious consternation at the highest levels” of the Obama administration over the weekend, according to one senior defense official. “It is the one remaining issue that could ultimately kill the deal.” However, US officials believe that in a more recent draft, which was circulated among key Pentagon officials and US lawmakers on Monday, the US has won its position on this point.

Yesterday, The Economist says the deal in harder than it should be because of haggling, apparently unaware that haggling, even more than fighting, is the Afghan national pass-time. The Afs want to extract as much money as they can from the U.S. taxpayer– as does the American Military-Industrial Complex.

Some in Congress aren’t just sitting around scratching their asses. On the Senate side, “a bipartisan group of senators– led by Jeff Merkley of Oregon– is trying to pump the brakes. They have a simple principle: before President Obama agrees to another decade of war, he should consult Congress and the American people.” Fighting alongside Merkely on this: Rand Paul, Joe Manchin, Mike Lee and Ron Wyden and the 5 of them have co-sponsored an amendment to the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act that expresses a sense of the Senate that Obama should seek congressional approval no later than June 1, 2014, for any extended presence in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and CPC Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) released the following statement in response to Engel’s revelations:

“The possibility of a military presence into 2024 is unacceptable. There is no military solution in Afghanistan. After 13 years and more than $778 billion invested in an unstable country and the corrupt Karzai government, it’s time to bring our troops and tax dollars home. The American people have had enough of the endless, open-ended war. It is time to focus on bringing our brave men and women in uniform home and transition to full Afghan control,” said Congresswoman Lee.

“Many of us, myself included, applauded President Obama for making the right decision to bring our troops home from Iraq after a very expensive decade of war,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Our troops have been in Afghanistan even longer, and the right decision there is even clearer. We can’t keep spending money and risking American lives into the indefinite future, especially not with such a clear need to invest here at home. History will not look kindly on us if we choose to keep funding a war without end through a major domestic economic crisis. We should bring everyone home and start the rebuilding process here in the United States,” said Congressman Grijalva.

“Congress should decide any future role for the United States in Afghanistan,” Rep. Ellison said. “The American people expect U.S. forces to be out of the country by the end of 2014 because that’s been our policy. We should not participate in a costly war in Afghanistan indefinitely, especially when budget cuts are kicking kids out of Head Start and slashing food assistance for working families and veterans. The House has already passed an amendment requiring Congressional approval for a policy change on Afghanistan and I urge the Senate to pass a similar amendment introduced by Senator Merkley.”

The CPC has long opposed unlimited involvement in Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform deserve to come home, and the Afghan people deserve a new approach to our relationship that emphasizes humanitarian aid and capacity-building rather than focusing, as we have done in the past, almost exclusively on military objectives.

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