On the same day it runs an editorial saying anything less than full-scale occupation of Afghanistan “looks like a loser”, The Washington Post (WaPo) runs an article of sob-stories from still-occupied Iraq describing how Iraqis want the U.S. occupation to remain there.
The Obama Administration ordered U.S. troops out of Iraqi urban areas in June besides of those to train local forces. Eduardo Londorio wrote in today’s WaPo of local Iraqi politicians fearing U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Mr. Londorio reports “they are feeling powerless and abandoned” because the “looming demise of the local councils—at least as the Americans established them—… will no longer have grass-roots representation and that power will become far more centralized in the hands of a few”. Omar Rahman Rahmani, who was “tapped for a position on the district’s council” said the central government “seemed uninterested in working with the local councils”.
Sounds as American as apple pie.
“I never expected we’d come to this point,” said Hassan Shama, the head of the Sadr City District Council. “The U.S. Army and the U.S. Embassy have abandoned us. After six years of very hard work, we’re worthless. [People] call us agents, spies for the Americans.”
Forget that Mr. Shama has been a U.S. collaborator of the Iraq occupation or he wouldn’t have had his post. Mr. Londorio writes that U.S. commanders “served as advocates and intermediaries” for the local councils. “They used to come to our meetings, and they had all the power in their hands,” Mr. Rahmani said.
Nadam Naim, another member of the Sadr City council—who Mr. Londorio describes as a “petite woman” that “never leaves home without a handgun given to her by the previous U.S. brigade commander responsible for Sadr City”—said “in a whispered interview” that she will ask for refugee status “if the Americans leave” because working with them has made her “many enemies”.
Nowhere in this propaganda piece of anecdotes is the fact that 124,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, that the Obama Administration plans to leave 30,000 to 50,000 after combat missions are due to end 31 August 2010, or that the Pentagon reported to Congress that “more than 80 percent of Iraqis surveyed in April said they had confidence Iraq’s army and police could protect them, compared with just 27 percent for American forces”.
Propaganda piece to sell what?
Coincidentally, the WaPo editorial today backs the full-scale counterinsurgency occupation of Afghanistan pushed by the U.S. top commander, General Stanley McChrystal, over the occupation-relatively-lite strategy pushed by some in the White House—most notably, Vice President Joe Biden.
The so-called “Biden Option” would still leave 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan leading the 100,000+ International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition with NATO, but would refuse Gen. McChrystal’s call for a troop surge of reportedly up to an additional 40,000 troops.
The WaPo makes its case using the Iraq Surge as its rationale. “[T]he fresh Iraqi forces could not carry the fight on their own; as the insurgency grew stronger, sectarian conflict erupted in Baghdad and other areas,” writes the WaPo editors. “Only by launching the surge in 2007, which partnered American and Iraqi units in pacifying population centers, was Mr. Bush able to reverse the downward spiral. U.S. commanders absorbed the lesson: That is why Gen. McChrystal and nearly every other present or former U.S. commander in the region favor adapting the surge model to Afghanistan.”
The WaPo asserts that the “Biden Option” is a similar “the alternative to Gen. McChrystal’s plan” to the and “would essentially perpetuate that losing effort”. We agree that “the alternative” option pushed by Mr. Biden repeats “Mr. Bush’s error” in Afghanistan which “is a proven loser”.
What’s clever is the crafting of the totality of today’s paper by the WaPo editors. It really is an artform.
But, nowhere in the WaPo editorial is that COIN in Iraq was heavily based on bribing dissident factions with established hierarchies along with backing an elected leader where these dissidents could be used to manufacture consent among the people.
Nowhere in the WaPo editorial is the fact that there are no Sons of Afghanistan. A mission to “win the hearts and minds” of the people with ISAF troops overtly propping up a government that likely stole the August election is either self-defeating; or purposefully manufactures the self-fulfilling prophesy of a long-term occupation virtually enslaving the Afghans and their government to U.S. interests.
Despite the efforts of the WaPo to manufacture consent for what seems like an inevitable long-term full-scale occupation of Afghanistan, our stance is unwavering: Get out of Afghanistan. In an act of cowardice, Mr. Obama has taken this option off the table.
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