Despite much talk about winding it down or even ending the “mission” there 13 years later, the pointless and brutal war in Afghanistan is far from over and it’s official.
Admittedly, NATO Commander General Philip Breedlove says the public should expect more US military casualties in Afghanistan. In his words: All of us as commanders have reminded our senior leadership the war in Afghanistan has not ended, [just] the combat mission for NATO.
This while Afghan society continues to pay a steep price for America’s longest war in history. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reports that 2014 was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the international body began making such reports in 2009. Civilian casualties were up 19 percent from 2013, rising to 33 percent among children. These numbers do not include the impact of social upheaval, mass displacement, poverty, and starvation.
This isn’t surprising though, given the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan, which extends the destructive presence of the US at least for another decade, and the passage of an order authorizing a more aggressive military mission throughout this year and beyond. What’s more, Washington still considers Afghanistan an area of active hostilities and that means more fighting with non-state actors such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Worse yet, contrary to hopes of Afghan people for a speedier pullout, close to 10,000 US-NATO troops will stay behind “for support and counterterrorism duties.” The problem with this plan is that it never considers a complete withdrawal: Pulling out all US-paid mercenaries and contractors; closing all US military bases; and ending all US efforts to control the resource-rich nation. That’s not on Washington’s agenda, as far as Breedlove’s new statement is concerned.
It would mean a retreat to the lies and deception that characterized this illegal war right from the outset in 2001. Another problem is that the US plans to control the skies over the Southeast Asian country for decades to come. It would also mean even more “accidental” civilian deaths in drone strikes and targeted killings.
Certainly, it seems a real long shot to imagine that the bullyboy members of the US administration would ever agree to abide by international law, let alone by the popular will of the Afghan people, to pull out their troops any time soon. According to a Pentagon report, there are 865 US military bases in the world, and this notoriously omits all bases in Iraq (over 100) and Afghanistan (80 and counting), among many other well-known and secretive base sites.
There can be no question that all these notorious base sites were erected supposedly “for training and support” but have only helped to spread the cancer of terror and violence across the globe. It’s an exercise in futility and a bitter fact that the people of Afghanistan know it just too well.
With that grim uncertainty increasingly possible, the people of Afghanistan face an existential dilemma, as there is no good outcome here. They should refuse to be hostages and force an end to this nasty business – if they don’t want to see such a pointless and brutal war to be the story of their lives for the rest of the twenty-first century.