‘Rescue the Revolution’

Notes from Cairo

By Michael C. Hudson

For those of us that thought the Egyptian revolution had run out of steam, the experience of last Friday’s marathon “happening” in Tahrir Square was firm evidence that any death knell remains premature. Equal parts political rally, religious celebration, Woodstock (Egyptian style), carnival, and family outing, this was Egyptian society–suddenly free–and exuberantly expressing itself. I watched toddlers happily having their cheeks painted the colors of the Egyptian flag, a group of veiled women camped out under a bush taking refuge from the hot sun, a teenager beating a drum while held up by his buddies, an old man with his granddaughter on his shoulders proudly displaying a handmade poster proclaiming “rescue the revolution,” a couple of guys sitting and chatting with a poster reading “Facebook… Reload” propped up beside them, and the eminently entrepreneurial souvenir sellers. The enthusiasm and optimism evoked the spirit of an American political rally — with the buttons and banners showcasing the “January 25 Revolution” to boot.

On the whole, this was a youngish crowd of middle class Egyptians — almost everyone was plugging at mobile phones and cameras — alongside laborers and others. I saw a few bearded men but not many: the two main Islamist tendencies, the Muslim Brothers and the much more radical salaffiyin, were not discernibly present. More significantly and conspicuously absent were the military and the security forces. Hard as I looked I could not find any uniformed men or tanks. In fact, even the armored personnel carriers lined up in front of the old Nile Hilton just the day before were nowhere to be seen. I heard that this demonstration would be bigger than any other since Mubarak’s downfall, and it was. At any one point there must have been tens of thousands in the square.

The collective expression of Egyptianness — “raise your head, you are Egyptian” was the slogan of the day — was unforgettable. But the other remarkable thing about it was its length. People just couldn’t get enough. I got to Tahrir around noon while a large crowd was observing Friday prayers led by an imam delivering a sermon that fused religion and protest. I mingled for a couple of hours and then decided that was about it. But when I came back three hours later the crowds were even larger, and they remained there well after dark. By that point there were a half dozen grouplets of demonstrators eddying here and there through the square: a handful of teenage girls led by a fiery young woman in full niqab; a very elderly Coptic priest assisted by young followers; young men on a makeshift stage, replete with powerful loudspeakers, exhorting the crowd to “rescue the revolution.”

And the revolution does need rescuing.

Despite the carnival-esque atmosphere, these people were in Tahrir on serious business: they sense that their revolution is in danger, and they are right. The Higher Military Council who sent Mubarak packing to a comfortable retirement in Sharm al-Shaykh has so far been opaque in its decision-making, and answers to nobody.

The military, led by Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, rushed through a package of constitutional amendments with minimal consultation but via referendum, which set a speedy timetable for elections next September. (The rapid pace certainly favors the best-organized political tendencies, the Muslim Brothers and the apparatchiks of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which have been playing at Egyptian politics for decades — longer than most of the revolutionaries have been alive.) They proposed rules that would severely discourage strikes or demonstrations that might adversely affect the economy. Further, the Council has been suspiciously slow in bringing to trial Mubarak’s closest cronies–men like Safwat Sharif and Fathi Suroor–on corruption charges (not to mention the President himself). The protesters, students, think tank experts, and professors I spoke with fear that Egypt may be trading in one dictator only to have him replaced with another form of authoritarian rule. Will the old structure minus its longtime boss actually recreate itself?  Some think it hasn’t disappeared at all. One newspaper commentary was headlined “Egypt is still Mubarakstan.”

Granted, the Egyptians have achieved something unprecedented in the modern Arab world: the ousting of a dictator through popular will. But it remains unnervingly uncertain whether genuine civilian government will emerge to complete the revolution. It’s difficult to avoid observing that the revolution has to come to terms with some enduring political realities.  One is the army. The other is the Islamists.

The military has been the backbone of republican Egypt since the Free Officers’ coup of 1952 that brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power. The three men who have ruled Egypt since then, Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak, were all military officers. Over the years the armed forces have garnered popular respect, especially for the October 1973 War in which Egypt, partnered with Syria, scored a moral victory against Israel. Thanks further to generous American aid contracted into the peace treaty with Israel, they have become a substantial and wealthy institution, carving out for themselves something of a parallel economy and holding major shares in Egypt’s biggest companies. It is hard to imagine a civilian president stripping them of their perks.  And let us not forget that the military enjoys intimate contact with and support from the Pentagon.

The Muslim Brotherhood, long suppressed, outlawed, and feared, now present themselves as moderates along the lines of Turkey’s democratically elected Justice and Development (AK) Party. Neither Egypt’s old opposition parties like the Wafd and the Tagammu nor, so far, the youthful protesters in Tahrir have the organizational capabilities of the Brothers. Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, an eminent Egyptian political scientist estimated that the Muslim Brothers might get 30 percent of the vote in a free election but that its actual influence in the People’s Assembly would be even better due to its discipline, while the other 70 percent would be distributed among small fractionated groupings. Yet if we have learned anything from this new generation of Egyptians, it is that their collective will cannot be underestimated; one of Egypt’s tycoons, Naguib Sawiris, put his name and fortune behind the creation of a new liberal Free Egyptians Party earlier this week and is fast gaining support.

There is still another grouping whose influence cannot be so easily estimated. The Islamists of the Salafi movement are the new boys on the block — or Square, as it were — and are far more radical than the Brothers. As apparent ideological successors to the al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, mercilessly repressed by Mubarak in the 1990s, the extent to which their radical Islamist orientation will find an echo remains to be seen.

Maybe the most realistic outcome the protesters of Tahrir can hope for would resemble the Turkish model of the post-Ataturk period in which the military allowed long stretches of significant party politics and competition. Unlike Turkey today, in those years there was no doubt as to who was in charge when push came to shove: every decade or so the Turkish army would push aside the civilian politicians and reset the system to their liking. One veteran insider told me that the Egyptian officers are quite uncomfortable being in the spotlight at this moment of transition; they much prefer the shadows. Whether down the road Egypt might continue to emulate Turkey, where the military no longer plays that decisive role, and moves toward a genuinely civilian political system is certainly a possibility. In any event, the Egyptians of Tahrir, heady with freedom and empowerment, and mobilized as never before by the new satellite and social media, are not going to let their revolution, incomplete as it may now be, slip away.

Michael C. Hudson is Director of the Middle East Insitute at the National University of Singapore. The views expressed herein are his own.

This piece first appeared on Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel and can be downloaded here: Insight 20 Hudson.

Rethinking Objectives in Afghanistan

The United States invaded Afghanistan to defeat al Qaeda. It should stay that way.

BY PHILIP MUDD

The sense of unknown was pervasive during the CIA’s nightly al Qaeda threat briefings in the first years after 9/11. Was a second catastrophe in progress? Were its perpetrators deployed? Might they use chemical, biological, or nuclear material? Our knowledge of al Qaeda grew quickly in 2002 and afterward, but we knew that our window into the group was nowhere near good enough to assure policymakers, legislators, and the American people that we in the agency, where I served from as deputy director of the Counterterrorist Center from 2003 to 2005, could prevent another strike. The United States entered Afghanistan to resolve this threat, to hunt those who had orchestrated the 9/11 murders, and to disrupt, then dismantle, the network that would organize future plots. The Bonn diplomatic process that resulted in the creation of Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul supported this goal of uprooting and eviscerating al Qaeda. We would help Afghanistan choose legitimate, competent leaders who would not allow terrorist safe havens on Afghan soil. But there was not going to be any nation-building effort, and certainly not on the scale of the Marshall Plan in postwar Europe. U.S. troops weren’t fighting in the hills of Tora Bora as a result of civil unrest and Taliban atrocities: After all, we chose not to intervene in Afghanistan before the attacks, despite rampant human rights abuses and seemingly interminable chaos. We simply wanted to stop attacks at home. Now, nine years later, the link between terrorism and the war is obscure. Americans now wonder why their sons are still fighting and dying for the Karzai government, with its periodic criticism of coalition operations and reputation for corruption, including during elections this year. Yet we are still there, perhaps because we have incurred such a cost by intervening in Afghanistan that we cannot bear to consider disinvesting. Perhaps because our national reputation is at stake: Cut out now and we will be perceived as shortsighted (remember the Somalia and Lebanon withdrawals during the 1990s), not a characteristic of great powers. This is not to say we should be cautious about setting withdrawal timetables; instead, our question might be how we maintain a counterterrorism capability rather than whether we have the capability to oversee a return to some sort of Afghan normalcy. We shouldn’t delink these problems, though, for brutal but inescapable national security reasons: If our initial intervention stemmed from the attacks, should not follow-on decisions, such as whether to speak to the Taliban about reconciliation, relate directly to the al Qaeda fight? If we want to destroy al Qaeda, does our current strategy of isolating the Taliban — which has a far greater penetration of Afghan society and provincial life that we or the Kabul government ever will — make sense? It does if we want to build a civil society; it doesn’t if we want local Taliban leaders to limit an al Qaeda presence because it might interfere with their goal of creating an Afghan emirate. Over the long term, the Taliban, a Pashtun movement with limited aims, will not threaten U.S. national security interests; al Qaeda, if it resuscitates, just might. More pointedly, a deal with Taliban elements might help us pursue al Qaeda and limit our investment in Afghanistan, but it will result in human rights abuses and, possibly, a new civil war. We might remember that these problems, however disturbing from a Western perspective, were not sufficient cause for us to intervene in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks. We went in for national security interests, not to extend good governance. If we believe that we now owe more to the country, after nine years of intervention, we should be clear about the implications: We won’t be able to create a civil society; this expanded goal is not a part of a counterterrorism strategy; and our investment in blood and money will have to be far greater than it is today. We underinvested nine years ago; we are paying the price now. If we return to linking these two issues — al Qaeda and our intervention in Afghanistan — we would have to accept a painful reality that no force presence is likely to change. No power, from the British to the Russians to any Afghan government, has exercised control over the country’s ethnically diverse provinces. Coalition power has proved equally limited: When insurgents, in this case the Taliban, benefit from local support, even the most heavily armed and technologically adept foreign forces in history — U.S. soldiers and Marines — face an uphill battle in uprooting them. Assuming both sides are willing to cut a deal instead, there remains, then, the question of whether the Taliban would have the capability to police the country — and whether Taliban leaders, themselves Islamist ideologues, would acquiesce to the presence of foreign fighters who intend to attack the United States. Taliban leaders obviously harbored Osama bin Laden and friends in the past, but it’s not clear how deep their commitment was — they are local tribal leaders, after all, not global jihadists. To prevent an al Qaeda resurgence, the conversation, long term, might center on how we maintain an intelligence-collection capability to detect terrorist training and how we strike quickly when we find any information suggesting that training is taking place. The fight against al Qaeda is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Without foreign occupiers for al Qaeda and its allies to fight in Afghanistan, our job in Pakistan might become narrower, and more achievable. It is a safe bet that Pakistani authorities do not much care whether tribes along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan cross into Afghanistan to fight against coalition forces that are viewed negatively throughout Pakistan. But if we eliminate the cause for cross-border activity by bringing in Taliban elements, U.S.-Pakistan tensions will diminish — we won’t need help policing resupply routes through hostile tribal areas, for example, and we won’t need to run cross-border military operations. Conversely, Pakistan might have more motivation to help when it sees a government in Kabul that allows the Pakistani Army to believe that its long-term goal of strategic depth — a comfortable flank in Afghanistan that helps keep the focus on India — isn’t being undermined. Far from believing that we are an ally in this campaign, Pakistan now sees us as an unreliable, sometimes duplicitous, partner. Our support for an Indian seat on the U.N. Security Council is a good strategic move, but in the short term it will help cement Pakistanis’ view that we will abandon them eventually in favor of a far more attractive strategic partnership with their rival in New Delhi. It’s an equally safe bet that Pakistani officials, including in the security apparatus, are deeply concerned about the Pakistani Taliban and its allies as they attack Pakistani civilians outside the tribal areas and threaten to expand the extremist presence into cities such as Peshawar and Karachi. If we can eliminate the allure of cross-border operations for jihadists in Pakistan’s tribal belt, we might be able to more effectively accomplish what the British — and the Pakistanis — have done in the past: pit one Pakistani tribe against another, with a focus on isolating those that harbor al Qaeda elements. Rough politics, maybe. But we’re not going to eliminate al Qaeda by Hellfire missile alone, and the Pakistani security forces have spent nine years showing us they’re not going to do it either, especially not for us. The only remaining lever is those who own the territory — the tribes — and they don’t operate by our rules. We should go into any of these policy evolutions with our eyes wide open. A return of the Taliban in Kabul might well result in a renewed civil war as the Northern Alliance that joined us to oust the Taliban grows nervous that we will allow the return of their enemy, and rearms. Let’s not sidestep the potential human rights implications either: Abuses will escalate, sharply. But we fought the Taliban because they harbored terrorists, not because they failed to provide a healthy civil society. For the future, nation-building will remain a mirage in Afghanistan, with nine years of futility as proof. But destroying al Qaeda is a reachable goal, and a far more salient one for the United States. We’ve now turned these priorities around. Philip Mudd is a senior global advisor at Oxford Analytica. He served as deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center from 2002 to 2005 and then the first-ever deputy director of the FBI’s National Security Branch. Mudd resigned from government service in early 2010 from his position as the bureau’s senior intelligence advisor.

(Foreign Policy, 17 November 2010)

________________________________________

The MEI does not necessarily endorse contents, or policies of the internet resources it extracts.

Timetable Abandoned: U.S. And NATO To Wage Endless War In Afghanistan

 

 

15 Nov 10

 

By Rick Rozoff

The mainstream news media and alternative sources alike have seized on a recent revelation – though it is hardly such – published by McClatchy Newspapers that “The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to remove emphasis from Barack Obama’s pledge that he would begin withdrawing US forces in July 2011.” [1]

An article in this series of over a month earlier, U.S. And NATO To Wage War 15-Year War In Afghanistan And Pakistan [2], documented that much and more, and any attentive reader of news on the Internet during the preceding weeks would not have been surprised by the McClatchy feature.

On October 25 Edmund Whiteside, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council Secretary, spoke at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and according to the local press said, “Expect the war in Afghanistan — the longest military engagement in both Canadian and American history — to continue for a ‘very long’ time.” In his exact words, “Afghanistan will be a very long military venture.”

His position will be confirmed at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal next week, as will a major commitment demanded by the U.S.-dominated military bloc’s new Strategic Concept to be adopted at the meeting: The retention of nuclear arms in NATO’s arsenal and the continued stationing of American nuclear bombs in Europe. Whiteside also argued: “Canada says that it doesn’t need ballistic missiles. But Canada is part of a nuclear policy alliance. There’s no getting around that….” [3]

On November 8, the day before the McClatchy article appeared, the spokesman for the 152,000-troop, 50-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, German Brigadier-General Josef Blotz, stated that “no timetable has been set for withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan.”

Blotz confirmed that “There has been no timetable yet.” In regard to transferring security control to Afghan forces, he said, “We will not [proceed] according to a fixed timetable, it will be carried out based on conditions to be achieved over the next couple of years.” [4]

On November 11, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada spoke on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea and said that “he’s decided…to keep troops in Afghanistan in a noncombat training role after Canada’s combat mission ends in 2011.”

Associated Press cited a senior Canadian government official verifying that his nation “will keep 750 military trainers and 250 support staff in Afghanistan until 2014….” [5]  A similarly bleak perspective on any withdrawal – or beginning of one – next year was offered on the preceding day by the commander of British forces in southern Afghanistan, Major General Nick Carter, who “gave a devastating assessment of the war effort in Afghanistan.”

Carter admitted that “In my tour I lost 302 soldiers. Most of them American. The cost in blood and treasure has been enormous.” He added that NATO wouldn’t know if it was winning – whatever that word signifies in a war already in its tenth year and escalating to new heights by the day – until June of 2011, “when the fighting season begins again” and the Atlantic Alliance and the Pentagon can “compare Taliban attacks with this year.” [6]

The U.S. and NATO – the distinction is merely formal as recent estimates are that 140,000 of the 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan now serve under NATO command – have lost 633 troops in the war as of November 11. That compares to 521 for all of last year and 295 in 2008. 1,184 of the total 2,203 Western military deaths in the country have occurred in the past 22 months.

Citing U.S. Air Force statistics, an ABC News report of November 10, “Number of Afghan Air Strikes Highest Ever,” disclosed that the amount of air strikes conducted in Afghanistan in October – approximately 1,000 – was the highest monthly total in the war that began in 2001, up from 700 the previous month, which itself marked a 172 per cent increase over September of 2009.

The article also detailed that the amount of American and NATO combat sorties so far this year, 26,948, exceeds the previous high of 26,474 from last year. [7]  Across the border in Pakistan, the U.S. has launched at least 20 drone missile attacks that have killed 130 or more people since the beginning of last month.

 

A violation of Pakistani airspace by a NATO helicopter gunship in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas occurred on November 2 for at least the fifth time since September, with one killing three Pakistani soldiers on the last day of the latter month. Earlier this month opposition parliamentarians in Pakistan “expressed serious concern over the violation of Pakistani airspace by North Atlantic Territory Organisation (NATO) forces” and “staged a walkout from [a] Senate session in protest and strongly condemned the airspace violations by NATO forces.” [8]

According to a feature in India’s Frontline magazine, “President Obama has substantially increased defence spending and has expanded the war in Afghanistan,” and “the Obama administration has wholeheartedly endorsed the Bush administration’s policy of eliminating terror suspects using pilotless high-tech drone aircraft. Instead of using the laborious technique of capturing alleged terrorists from their hideouts in crowded cities and remote villages, the drones just bomb the house or village where the suspects are holed up. In the process, there has been huge collateral damage. Innocent civilians killed far outnumber those killed in the fight against the occupation.

“Ever since he took office two years ago, Obama has made the deadly drones a key instrument in his fight against the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drones are also being used liberally to target militants in Yemen and Somalia.” [9]

The Afghan war in its tenth year has expanded into a far broader conflict, one which grows in both scope and lethality with each passing week and will escalate yet further before it begins to wind down, if it ever does. President Obama’s pledge last year to “draw down” U.S. and NATO combat forces from South and Central Asia – they are also stationed in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – next year is now revealed to be the transparent political manipulation it was from the start.

A piece by Stephen M. Walt was published on the website of National Public Radio on November 11, entitled “Foreign Policy: Bait And Switch In Afghanistan.” Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, serves on the editorial boards of Foreign Policy, Security Studies, International Relations, and the Journal of Cold War Studies, and is the co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with John Mearsheimer.

He wondered at the chorus of surprise, genuine or feigned, that has greeted the McClatchy article, stating:

“I don’t know anyone who thought the U.S. could turn things around in 18 months, and that particular deadline was little more than a piece of political sleight-of-hand designed to make escalation look like a temporary step. Reasonable people can disagree about whether Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan was the right one (I think it wasn’t), but Obama’s straddle on this issue is one reason why some of his most enthusiastic supporters have become disenchanted.”

Listing historical precedents, and at least hinting at the public’s inveterate gullibility, Walt added, “there’s a long tradition of presidents telling the American people that some new military mission won’t take long and won’t cost that much. Nixon told us he has a ‘secret plan’ to end the Vietnam War (he didn’t) and Bill Clinton said U.S. troops would only be in Bosnia for 12 months (it was more like nine years). President George W. Bush and his advisors said that the occupation of Iraq would be brief and pay for itself yet we are still there today. And now Obama has done essentially same thing: selling an increase committed by suggesting that it is only temporary, and then backing away from his own self-imposed deadline.” [10]

Further vows to deescalate the conflict, not only the longest war in American history as was noted above but also in Afghanistan’s, will predictably follow the U.S. political cycle, especially the 2012 presidential election and Obama’s presumed reelection bid, but will prove as false as last year’s.

The Pentagon and what on November 19 and 20 will be officially unveiled as global NATO have reaped substantial benefits from the war in Afghanistan that both are reluctant to relinquish. They have insinuated their militaries into the center of Eurasia for the long haul. And they have built an international network of installations and military partnerships to service the war, from the world’s first multinational strategic airlift operation in Hungary to a transit base in Kyrgyzstan through which at least 50,000 troops pass each month in and out of Afghanistan and the subordination of the armed forces of scores of nations in Europe and Asia.

In recent days, for example, the Afghan war has provided the U.S. and NATO with unprecedented opportunities to expand their worldwide military reach:

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, which has the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the Caspian Sea Basin and borders Russia and China, visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels to meet with Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Rasmussen “thanked President Nazarbayev for his country’s support for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan,” [11] and Nazarbayev announced that “Several Kazakhstani troops will serve at the headquarters of the international coalition in Afghanistan.” [12]

Admiral Giampaolo di Paola, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, visited Georgia to meet with the country’s defense and foreign ministers and the chief of the Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces and to inspect the NATO-supported Krtsanisi National Training Center, the newly established NATO Liaison Office in the nation’s capital, and the “33rd Battalion of the III Infantry Brigade going to replace [the] contingent of the 32nd Battalion currently deployed in Afghanistan.” [13] Georgia fought a five-day war with Russia in August of 2008 and NATO is training its armed forces for more than just the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. Special Operations Command recently concluded training exercises for troops from the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Poland in Germany. The Pentagon described their purpose as follows:

“Coordination and synchronization between conventional and special operations forces (SOF) is crucial on the modern battlefield since both share integral roles within an area of responsibility – whether it involves intelligence gathering or conducting combat operations….[T]he training event was part of an annual brigade-level mission rehearsal exercise…to prepare conventional force units assigned to the U.S. European Command area of operations for deployment to Afghanistan.” [14]

Lithuania and Poland have borders with Russia and both host NATO forces, at an air base in the first and a training center in the second nation. Earlier this month the Czech parliament approved the deployment of additional troops, including special forces, to Afghanistan next year, raising the nation’s NATO contingent to 720 soldiers.

Also this month, Polish troops trained at an Illinois Army National Guard base an hour’s drive from Chicago, and a Polish officer involved in the training stated: “We train together because we fight together. If we train together we fight and work better in Afghanistan. It is good idea to train together before we deploy. We are good soldiers and our brigade was deployed in Iraq two times and in Afghanistan so we work at a high level. We are ready.” [15]

The connection between nations supplying troops for the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. committing to intervene on their behalf in conflicts with neighboring states was recently affirmed by Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. At a strategy meeting in Poland late last month he said: “I think there is broad support among allies for the balance between NATO’s traditional missions of Article 5, which is collective defence, and also the need for the Alliance to deal with new security challenges around the world, and we are very comfortable with that balance.” [16]

The Swedish parliament has extended the deployment of troops to Afghanistan, where Sweden is engaged in combat operations and has lost troops for the first time in two centuries, months after the government abolished the last vestige of conscription to meet NATO “professionalization” demands and announced a mandatory foreign deployment obligation for all troops.

Last week German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg visited Mongolia, which also borders China and Russia, and met “with soldiers of the first Mongolian mission contingent, which had been deployed to the German defense area in Afghanistan.” [17]

Against the backdrop of President Obama’s visit to Mumbai and New Delhi, reports have surfaced that India could be enlisted to provide troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Indian defense analyst Bharat Singh recently asserted that “The almost 9,000 Indian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions could easily be re-deployed in Afghanistan.” [18]

In Bulgaria, where the Pentagon has acquired four new military bases – including two air bases – since 2006, Defense Minister Anyu Angelov recently stated that 7 percent of his nation’s defense – if it can be called that – budget is allotted for the war in Afghanistan, where troop strength will rise from 536 to over 600. He also said that Bulgaria “will be setting no deadline for withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.” [19]

Nevertheless, James Warlick, U.S. ambassador to the country, spoke at a conference entitled Europe for Afghanistan: from Understanding to Support held at the Military Club in the Bulgarian capital, saying “Bulgaria could up its efforts in Afghanistan and do more.” [20]

The consolidation of a far-reaching military nexus for and dependent on the Afghan war is not limited to Europe’s east. Last month “A small corner of Cornwall [became] Afghanistan.” At the Royal Air Force St Mawgan facility 1,000 troops from NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) participated in “a major NATO training exercise, the first of its kind in the UK” [21] in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan in January.

“The ARRC servicemen were in the county preparing for their final training before being deployed for operational service in Afghanistan next year.

“Exercise ARRCade Spear II aims to offer recruits training ahead of their work as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.” [22]

Shortly afterward, “328 soldiers, including 45 teams from the full-time British Army, UK Territorial Army teams and entrants from foreign armies” took part in Exercise Cambrian Patrol in Wales, “as one of the most prestigious patrolling tests within NATO.” [23]

From Cornwall to Mongolia, Kazakhstan to Illinois, Sweden to Wales, Poland to Georgia, Lithuania to India and beyond, NATO and the Pentagon are strengthening military partnerships and networks around the Afghan war. Neither Washington nor Brussels is in a hurry to abandon a conflict that has allowed both to globalize their military roles.   

Notes

1) Nancy A. Youssef, Obama officials moving away from 2011 Afghan
   date
   McClatchy Newspapers, November 6, 2010
   http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/11/09/103468/obama-administration-moving-away.html#ixzz150vQO3tq
2) U.S. And NATO To Wage War 15-Year War In Afghanistan And Pakistan
   Stop NATO, October 6, 2010
   http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/afghanistan-and-pakistan-u-s-and-nato-to-wage-war-15-year-war
3) The Link, November 2, 2010
   http://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/598
4) Xinhua News Agency, November 8, 2010
5) Associated Press, November 11, 2010
6) Daily Mirror, November 11, 2010
7) Luis Martinez, Number of Afghan Air Strikes Highest Ever
   ABC News, November 10, 2010
   http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/11/number-of-afghan-air-strikes-highest-ever.html
8) Daily Times, November 4, 2010
9) John Cherian, Hellfire from the sky
   Frontline, November 6-19, 2010
   http://www.frontline.in/stories/20101119272305500.htm
10) Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy: Bait And Switch In Afghanistan
   National Public Radio, November 11, 2010
   http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131241642
11) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, October 26, 2010
    ….
    Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
    Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/kazakhstan-u-s-nato-seek-military-outpost-between-russia-and-china
12) Central Asia Online, October 27, 2010
13) Ministry of Defence of Georgia, October 29, 2010
14) U.S. European Command, October 26, 2010
15) Belleville News Democrat, November 1, 2010
16) Polish Radio, October 29, 2010
17) Ulaanbaatar Post, November 5, 2010
    ….
    Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
    Stop NATO, March 31, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/mongolia-pentagon-trojan-horse-wedged-between-china-and-russia
18) Daily Times, November 7, 2010
19) Sofia News Agency, October 26, 2010
20) Sofia News Agency, October 26, 2010
21) Pirate FM, October 14, 2010
22) This Is Cornwall, October 14, 2010
23) The Star, November 1, 2010

 

 

 

Global Research, Canada   –   November 12, 2010
 

URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21883

 

The MEI does not necessarily endorse contents, or policies of the internet resources it extracts.