Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A deadly advertisement for more war:
The Marjah offensive is about marketing


Cenk Uygur lays out the real objectives of the current "surge" campaign in Afghanistan. [5:56] Is his account believable? I fear so. What he says fits with everything I read about that unfortunate country. Marketing by pseudo-"victory" might be acceptable if the price weren't death and destruction, for "our" forces and the Afghans. But it is.
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A former NPR reporter, Sarah Chayes quit that job in 2002 to work on local development projects in Kandahar, the center of Taliban country. For the last year, she has been an adviser to U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, he of the current "surge" strategy. She reports

...the Afghan people have "crystallized their frustration" on the issue of civilian casualties.

"It's crystallized a disappointment with the international intervention that's been growing since about 2003," said Sarah Chayes...

"I actually think the issue is broader," she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "And so the impact on the Marjah (offensive) is really going to depend on what else happens in that operation." ...

"I remember early cases of civilian casualties where I was actually surprised at the level of tolerance for it on the part of the people I was living amongst," she said.

"But it was because they felt that the international intervention was really doing something for them ... or they still held out the hope that it would."

She said the view of Afghan people on civilian casualties depends on issues such as whether they believe they are being governed by a responsive and respectful institution and whether they are seeing any prospects for economic improvement. "You need to protect the population and earn the population's trust," she said.

Chayes strongly criticized Afghan President Hamid Karzai's approach to tackling corruption in government, saying his administration is operating like a "criminal syndicate."

CNN

Doesn't sound like this is all going very well. Juan Cole reported today that Afghan Senators are calling for the execution of foreign troops that keep making "mistakes" such as the one on Tuesday that killed 21 civilians. General McChrystal has apologized.

Are the people of this country ready to buy into the notion that Marjah is a great victory and therefore we should keep pacifying Afghans as long as it takes? Actually, after a decade of lies, I doubt it.

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