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U.S. Escalates War in Afghanistan

Obama orders 17,000 Troops to Afghanistan
by Kosta Harlan |
February 28, 2009
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President Obama ordered 17,000 troops to deploy to Afghanistan on Feb. 17, marking a significant escalation of the war. “This reinforcement will contribute to the security of the Afghan people and to stability in Afghanistan,” said President Obama in his remarks to the press.

The facts, however, contradict this optimistic assessment. A survey released by the United Nations on Feb. 16 shows a 40% rise in civilian casualties in 2008, compared to 2007. A minimum of 2118 civilian deaths were recorded by the United Nations in 2008. Of these, 828 deaths are directly attributed to U.S. and NATO occupation forces. The remaining deaths are blamed on the insurgency. Many commentators miss the basic point that there would be no more fighting, and no civilian casualties, if the occupiers simply left Afghanistan to the Afghan people.

Even the commanding general of the occupation forces in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, recognizes that more troops will lead to increased violence against civilians. “When we do put additional security forces, I would expect to see a temporary time where the level of violence might go up,” General McKiernan stated earlier this week. McKiernan further warned that an additional 10,000 troops were needed beyond what President Obama authorized.

Praising the increase of U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan, General McKiernan said, “The vast majority of the people that live in Afghanistan reject the Taliban or other militant insurgent groups…the insurgency will not win in Afghanistan.” General McKiernan's statement is at odds with the facts of the situation. A BBC News poll from February 2009 shows that only 11% of Afghans view the Taliban as a problem - hardly a majority, as General McKiernan would have us believe. The U.S. occupation and exploitation of Afghanistan's resources is the biggest problem facing the Afghan people, not the insurgency that works to liberate the country from foreign domination.

The increase in troops reflects a desperate bid by the occupation forces to defeat the growing insurgency, which controls 72% of the country and carries out attacks against the occupiers in 93% of Afghanistan's territory. Like other attempts at a military solution to a political conflict, it is destined to failure. The only realistic solution is for U.S. and NATO troops to leave Afghanistan and recognize the Afghan people's right to self-determination.