And so it begins: the great Obama "surge" in Afghanistan. Before withdrawing a single soldier from Iraq, Barack Obama is throwing 17,500 more troops into the boiling Afghan cauldron. The deployment is the first installment of what Obama aides affirm could be a much larger escalation down the road: as soon as the vaunted "strategic review" of Afghan policy – led by hawks like Joe Biden, Richard Holbrook and General David "Pre-President" Petraeus – is completed.
Most of the new troops are apparently going to be sent on a fool's errand to eradicate the only means of support of poor Afghans: the opium crop. Previous such efforts by American forces and their allies have produced nothing but more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency. And whatever the mission, increased troop levels and military action have led invariably to steep rises in civilian casualties – which, in turn, produce more poverty, anger, extremism and support for the insurgency.
In fact, on the very day that Obama was announcing his own personal Terror War surge, the UN released a report that confirmed the already obvious fact that the American-led occupiers of Afghanistan have been lying about the number of civilians they have been killing. The UN report documents the killing of 2,118 Afghan civilians in 2008 – 828 of them killed by the American-led forces. As Jason Ditz notes at Antiwar.com:
While getting exact numbers of deaths in Afghanistan is virtually impossible given the chaotic situation on the ground, particularly in the restive south, the report once again points to the absurdity of last month’s NATO report, which claimed only 973 civilians overall killed and only 97 by international forces.
The NATO number is absurd indeed, especially when one recalls that some 90 civilians, including at least 75 women and children, were killed in a single attack by an American gunship in the village of Azizabad last summer. [For more, see Atrocity in Azizabad: More Child Sacrifices on the Terror War Altar.]
There will of course be much more of this as the troop levels rise, especially more "close air support" for the increased number of ground forces undertaking more and more attacks. Even the witless, plagarizing, credit-card bagman that Obama put one heartbeat away from the presidency, Joe Biden, admits there will be what he calls – in the hideous argot of our bipartisan Beltway bloodletters – an "uptick" in the number of deaths. Naturally, he was referring only to an increase in American casualties; the Afghans who will also die in increasing numbers in the surge don't count, and aren't counted: 97, 150, 300, 828 – who gives a damn?
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