Get the foreigners out

In the worldview of a journalist from the Murdoch press in Australia – more than happy to visit the Middle East and blindly publish propaganda from the US military – the world should send more troops to Afghanistan:

NATO’S new top commander in Afghanistan says the international coalition is “struggling to win” a strategic victory against the Taliban and he wants a significant increase in troop numbers, including more Australians, to ensure success.

General David McKiernan has asked Washington to boost US troop numbers with the addition of an extra brigade-size combat force, beyond an already flagged 10,000 increase in the US military presence, The Australian reports.

He also wants a commensurate commitment from America’s NATO allies and coalition partners, including Australia.

If the reporter had actually spent time away from the US military, he would have found a very different story, as the Associated Press reports:

The bearded, turbaned men gather beneath a large, leafy tree in rural eastern Nangarhar province. When Malik Mohammed speaks on their behalf, his voice is soft but his words are harsh. Mohammed makes it clear that the tribal chiefs have lost all faith in both their own government and the foreign soldiers in their country.

Such disillusionment is widespread in Afghanistan, feeding an insurgency that has killed 195 foreign soldiers so far this year, 105 of them Americans.

“This is our land. We are afraid to send our sons out the door for fear the American troops will pick them up,” says Mohammed, who was chosen by the others to represent them. “Daily we have headaches from the troops. We are fed up. Our government is weak and corrupt and the American soldiers have learned nothing.”

A strong sense of frustration echoed through dozens of interviews by The Associated Press with Afghan villagers, police, government officials, tribal elders and Taliban who left and rejoined the religious movement. The interviews ranged from the capital, Kabul, to the rural regions near the border with Pakistan.

The overwhelming result: Ordinary Afghans are deeply bitter about American and NATO forces because of errant bombs, heavy-handed searches and seizures and a sense that the foreigners do not understand their culture. They are equally fed up with what they see as seven years of corruption and incompetence in a U.S.-backed government that has largely failed to deliver on development.

Even with more foreign troops, Afghanistan is now less secure.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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