Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Imperial Obsession and the War on Terror - By Clyde Ward

That after 16 years of counterinsurgency, we resorted to deploying the largest conventional bomb in our inventory to kill only 36 militants begs a question. How much more of Afghanistan might we have to flatten to defeat an adversary that doesn’t even have an air force? It’s an ominous question. It has come up before.
Mohammed Najibulah holds a certain world record, launching 1,700 to 2,000 SCUD missiles between 1988 and 1992, following the withdrawal of Soviet 40th Army from Afghanistan. When the Soviets began extracting their army from the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) in 1986, they transferred power to Najibulah’s National Reconciliation government. Afghanistan would become an “Islamic state” rather than Marxist. Regardless, it was the Soviet Army that still held everything together. As the Soviets left, counterinsurgency degenerated into civil war. To everyone’s’ surprise, the Afghan National Defense Force (army) actually could fight rather well once the Mujahedeen became less accommodating to defectors. More important, however, were continued Soviet air assistance and three SCUD missile batteries. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 prevented resupply. The DRA fell shortly after. The CIA warned that the new government would be worse than Najibulah’s.
America facilitated all this by providing the Mujahedeen with Stinger Missiles. The Soviets had actually begun to win in 1984, shifting to innovative small-unit tactics, air assault, and strategic bombing. But it was still a bankrupt war, the projected cost exceeding anything Afghanistan had to offer. And then, there would be the mess left behind. At the time, the USSR bordered on Afghanistan. In the end, the end of the USSR was the end of the DRA and the war in Afghanistan was the end of the USSR.
General Boris Gromov marched the Soviet 40th out of Afghanistan in 1989. He left prophetic messages to the West and NATO. “In fact, we [the Soviet Union] were the first to defend Western civilization against the attacks of Muslim fanatics. No one thanked us.’   
It was a victory for us, to be sure. The Soviets were our enemy. We paid them back for Vietnam. The Cold War and the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction finally came to an end. But the Mujahedeen never were the “freedom fighters” as so often portrayed in American propaganda. Some of them became the Taliban who perpetrated 9/11. Victory has unintended consequences.
Today, the Islamic State and its brothers in arms such as Ahrar ash-Sham and an-Nusra, started as proxy fighters for foreign powers, mostly America and Turkey, fighting Bassar Assad. Hizb’allah and Hamas are on the other side.
Proxy wars gone sour has become a new theme in the 21st Century.
Between the Red Lines of Obama and Trump lies an investigation of the alleged Syrian sarin attack at Gouhta in 2013. Chemical analysis of samples taken on site didn’t match Syrian army stockpiles. MB-14 rocket fragments recovered from the site didn’t match Syrian Army inventory or even standard issue. Some fragments appeared to have been moved after detonation. It began to appear that the Russians were right. The rebels had staged a false flag, on the eve of peace talks, probably to bolster their bargaining position.
Evidence of a supply system feeding al Qaeda labs in Syria through Turkey for the purpose of false flags also emerged.
Obama backed away from his red line. He’d shot his mouth off too soon. Putin offered him a way out before he did something really stupid and the compliant media spun it all as a triumph of statesmanship. The Russians would supervise Assad’s chemical disarmament. They probably did. The last thing either wanted would be another close call.
Naturally, Turkey’s President Erdogan is very pleased with Trump’s attack onShayrat airfield. It’s exactly what Erdogen wanted Obama to do, but paralysis by analysis stole the show. As it turns out, our establishment interventionist intelligence agencies were frustrated by Obama’s dithering. That they’re suddenly ecstatic about Trump, a man they once considered a menace to democracy, says a lot. But perhaps this is not good.
Then, there is the hysterical Jingoist media. The “new sheriff in town”: testimonials by authentic Syrian refugees! Americans -- win our war in Syria so we can go home! There’s something wrong with that. Few rebellions have ever succeeded without foreign assistance. Both sides seek allies in war. Ideology will become expendable in pursuit of victory.
Look at video footage, purported to be on the site of the latest Khan Sheikoun attack. They present anomalies similar to the Ghouta attack in 2013. Here, a doctor treats a sarin victim without protective gear.  A helper kisses the contaminated baby. There is more if one looks with a cynical eye. All the “conclusive proof” propagated by the media is really circumstantial. It doesn’t really tell us much of anything that we didn’t already know. There has been yet no formal investigation -- presuming, of course, such an investigation wouldn’t be biased to begin with. The problem here is that our intelligence people seem to feel entitled to make policy rather than just support it. Classified information is a cagey way to do it.
Did Trump make a big mistake? No, not really. He exposed Susan Rice as coarchitect of the failed Assad chemical disarmament. He discredited the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory regarding the election. This is a big win against the enemy within, who would like nothing better than to relive those halcyon days of their Vietnam protests.
Make no mistake. Whatever we do in the Middle East, the Council for American Islamic Relations, the Muslim Brotherhood, current Bill Ayers affiliates, and other Democrat allies will make it all go sour. It’ll end another in Iraq War blame game. We cannot fight the Jihad without first defeating Democrats as well as RINOs like Lindsay Graham and John McCain as well as all the foreign lobbying groups which have an agenda of their own.  
U.S. policy toward Russia actually remains ambivalent. The Russians play brinkmanship, policy stated in action. So does Trump. Here, we can only hope that if America’s war on terror escalated into war with Russia, the one that we avoided during the Cold War, a war from which Al Qaeda could emerge the winner in a devastated Western world.
There is, of course, a certain amount of speculation here. But even if it’s wrong in some places, all the powers are still in the same boat of frustration sailing into global chaos of their own making. In the new century, proxy wars are no longer an option. Proxy fighters have become much more sophisticated. They’ve established themselves as polities that can not only resist conventional armies but can manipulate them and even bring down the very governments that sponsor them. The great powers need to settle their disputes between themselves rather than by reducing entire subcontinents to no man’s land. They need to destroy the menace that they created before it destroys them. Resorting to things like SCUDs, MOAB or sarin -- presuming Assad did use it at Kahn Sheikuon -- indicates that we are running out of time. We are in a phase of imperial overkill, a last gamble of violence against a situation that had gotten out of control. This global chaos is the fault of neocon interventions and Obama appeasement. Whether Trump can pull order out of disorder remains to be seen. He’s on the right path with China concerning North Korea. Iran is the rogue nuclear aspirant in the Middle East. Nuclear weapons are the game changers.
This may be giving credit for more scheming than any of these characters are actually capable of, the stuff of conspiracy theory. However, there is a test for this one. Reports of collateral damage and casualties will follow the MOAB bombing and use of similar weapons. There will be more false flag attacks and some may even use poison gas again. Our enemies will play our sentimentality, which they regard as simply a weakness. Jihadis don’t mind dying for their cause.
Ultimately, and unfortunately, conspiracy theory is the way for the voters to run our republic when so much of the required information is classified. This is inevitable in protracted wars.
We can only hope that Dr. Sebastian Gorka is correct, that the new Trump policy is neither neocon interventionist nor Obama appeasement. Insisting upon an “evil” in the world is not reassuring, however. This is the stuff of intervention and empire. But, it may also be a just a ploy to unite the less informed masses to a new policy. We have seated a new player in the White House, but the game remains the same as it’s always been.