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President Obama’s Flawed Premises in Afghanistan

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President Obama made a surprise visit to Bagram, Afghanistan, on March 29, 2010, where he met with President Karzai and spoke to American and international personnel. As this new video shows, a number of the President’s assumptions and premises about the Afghanistan war are false, especially the idea that the Afghanistan war makes Americans safer. Our current Afghanistan policy increases the risk of suicide terrorism, has failed to produce a competent, licit security force in that country, and exacerbates the budget crisis undermining our public structures in the United States.

U.S. troop deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations in the Middle East lead to more, not fewer, suicide bombings. As Robert Pape demonstrated in his recent talk at New America Foundation, suicide bombings are like the “lung cancer” of terrorism–they are the most lethal forms of attacks. Al Qaeda would not have been able to kill more than 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, without attackers willing to commit suicide attacks, for example. According to Pape’s research with the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, between 2004 – 2009 (June), over 98 percent of suicide attacks were directly related to foreign occupation, and more than 90 percent of suicide attacks around the world are anti-American-inspired.

The president also praised the Afghan National Security Forces. Not one week prior, Newsweek reported that even after $6 billion-worth of U.S. and allied “training,” the Afghan National Police were a corrupt, incompetent joke, toxic to the local population:

“We are still at zero,” says Captain Moqim, 35, an eight-year veteran of the force. “They don’t listen, are undisciplined, and will never be real policemen.”

Poor marksmanship is the least of it. Worse, crooked Afghan cops supply much of the ammunition used by the Taliban…

America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits—but the program has been a disaster. More than $322 million worth of invoices for police training were approved even though the funds were poorly accounted for, according to a government audit, and fewer than 12 percent of the country’s police units are capable of operating on their own. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the State Department’s top representative in the region, has publicly called the Afghan police “an inadequate organization, riddled with corruption.”

The public’s distrust of the cops is palpable in the former insurgent stronghold of Marja. Village elders welcomed the U.S. Marines who recently drove out the Taliban, but told the Americans flatly they don’t want the ANP to return.

The Afghan National Army, on the other hand, are absolutely consumed with drug addition.

U.S. State Department officials cited in the report said 12 to 41 percent of police recruits in regional training centers tested positive for illicit drugs and that the percentage likely was higher as opiates leave the system quickly.”

During this economic crisis, when Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state budgets are facing multi-billion-dollar shortfalls, the U.S. government continues to charge taxpayers $200,000 per minute for the Afghanistan war. For our money, we’re getting troops dying at twice the rate compared to this time last year; broken, corrupt and incompetent Afghan National Security Forces; and increased risk of suicide terrorism.

In these tough times, we can’t afford to spend billions on a war in Afghanistan that’s not making us safer.

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