US lies, half truths and failures in Afghanistan

Chris Gelken

As the situation in war-torn Afghanistan deteriorates, the great cover up story of the day was Condoleezza Rice's attempt to disguise the failure of NATO to subdue the Taliban and al-Qaeda in that country.

Speaking in London where she tried to encourage NATO allies to throw more young soldiers into the Afghan meat mangler, Rice confidently said progress was being made in Afghanistan.

Since this progress isn't apparent to most of us, the question was put to Jeff Steinberg, Senior Editor of Executive Intelligence Review in New York, what progress is she talking about?

"Condoleezza Rice has no idea what she is talking about," came the quick reply, "the on the ground assessments from American and European military personnel is that the situation is out of control and there is no prospect of deploying a sufficient military force into there to deal with the problem."

Steinberg said about a third of the country is now in the hands of the Taliban, the border areas with Pakistan are control centres for both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, "And my best estimate is that a billion dollars a year is generated in Afghanistan from the sale of the largest opium crop that has ever been produced there, and that about 100 million dollars of that regularly goes to the Taliban. So they've got their own source of funding to keep their operations going."

According to sources, the war in Afghanistan is presenting problems the allies didn't foresee - a bit like former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "unknowns that we don't know about." Are these unknowns suddenly making themselves apparent, or was it just a badly conceived campaign from the very start?

"Well it was a badly conceived campaign," Steinberg agreed, "but it was made far far worse by the fact that the Bush administration was committed early on to redirecting forces to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

Essentially, it would appear that Bush made the classic mistake of trying to fight a war on two fronts.

The two war fronts, two wars that have gone on for far longer than ever estimated, has depleted and exhausted the U.S. military, and that of its closest ally, Britain. But despite this, there are still calls for more troops, more sacrifice on the alter of Bush's arrogance and stupidity.

"The American Enterprise Institute, the high palace of neo-conservatism in Washington, has just come out with a proposal for 12,000 more American troops to be sent into Southern Afghanistan to wage a counter insurgency war and possibly invade Pakistan," said Steinberg, "Its all madness, its all failed, and the best thing I have to say is that I very much agree with British Politician George Galloway when he said 'Pull the troops out and let the Afghanis sort it out themselves.'"

Things are obviously going so well, at least according to Rice, that she is calling for more troops to fight the Taliban. So why is it that some NATO countries are reluctant to commit troops, especially to areas where they are likely to get shot at?

"Most governments in Europe are fragile coalitions, and they are hypersensitive to things like losses of life of troops in peacekeeping missions. The Europeans are reticent to do the kind of heavy combat that the US forces have been engaged in for the last five years in Iraq. They don't want any part of that," Steinberg said.

So that would leave it to the United States to finish what they started, right?

"The US flat out does not have the troops, and even if they did exist in sufficient numbers, I don't think that thi is any way to win that situation."

Steinberg painted a pretty grim picture of the current state of affairs, one that is sharply at odds with the smiling optimism of the Bush administration.

But then, if Iraq is going as well as General David Petraeus claims it is, then maybe if the worst comes to the worst in Afghanistan Bush could always send in Blackwater and their friends to finish the job.

* Above article is based on television interviews conducted by author and first broadcast on PressTV on Thursday, February 7, 2008