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The Obama Afghan Speech: still committed to an imperial war

June 23, 2011

Last night US President Barack Obama addressed the nation on the matter of US involvement in Afghanistan. While the President said there would be some US troop removal he also arrogantly defending the US occupation of Afghanistan and gave no indication that the US has any plans to leave that country for years to come.

First, the timetable for US troop withdrawal Obama presented is misleading. Some defenders of the administration will no doubt argue that the President is keeping his word from his December 2009 speech where he announced that the US would begin withdrawing troops by July of 2011.

According to the online source Think Progress, “the United States would still have far more troops in Afghanistan than it did when Obama came into office and more than at any point during former president George W. Bush’s administration:

This means that the troop reduction would not put us much closer to actually ending the war by the end of 2012. Rather this would simply scale back the second surge of 30,000 troops that President Obama announced in December 2009. It would also maintain the first surge of 17,000 troops Obama ordered upon entering office. This comes at a time when a record number of Americans want to end the war in Afghanistan and the costs of which are putting the United States deeper into debt.”

US Foreign Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis also points out in an article that the number of US troops that the Obama administration plans to withdraw also doesn’t take into account the 50,000 NATO troops still present and the 100,000 Pentagon paid contractors.

Bennis went on to say that this limited troop reduction is not a real strategy since it does not address any long-term policy issues. There was no mention of the US military base construction, which is another indication the US has no long-term plans of leaving Afghanistan. Historian Gareth Porter who was interviewed on Democracy Now this morning echoed this notion that the US has no intention of leaving Afghanistan. Porter stated:

I think the second storyline is equally important, and that is that Obama likened the—what he called the “responsible” withdrawal from Afghanistan to what has been done in Iraq. And of course, that reminds us that what the President did in Iraq was to promise to withdraw combat troops, combat brigades, while in fact leaving them there well beyond the date that they were supposed to be withdrawn. So, I think we can look forward to, you know, beyond 2012, having combat troops continue to carry out the war, while the President is talking about withdrawing them. I think we’re in for a repeat of the Iraq experience there.

Another point about Obama’s speech is that he left out not only what the Afghani people think, he left out the fact that civilian casualties have been on the rise in Afghanistan with the so-called surge and that as we mentioned last week Afghanistan has become an extremely dangerous place for women.

In addition, much of the commercial news media coverage so far has accepted the claim from the Obama administration that the surge has worked. According to a report from the Afghanistan Analysis Network the Taliban have actually gained ground in several parts of the country, even in non-Pasthun areas, a reality that contradicts the claims of the White House.

This lack of questioning by the US media is reflected in the way they have framed the issue since the President’s speech last night. For example, the story this morning on MLive tries to present multiple views on the Obama’s announcement about troop withdrawal. However, the article does not question the claims of the administration by the way they have framed the story and they present no perspectives that challenge to overall policy of the past 10 years.

The Grand Rapids Press reporter has some pro-war and anti-war voices, but their comments are purely limited to the issues of US troop numbers in Afghanistan. The Press also spoke with political science professors from Calvin College and GVSU, but both of these “experts” fundamentally accept the US government’s rationale for being in Afghanistan in the first place. This type of reporting not only is misleading, it contributes to a general lack of understanding for the American public who have been forced to pay roughly half a trillion dollars to fund the nearly 10-year US occupation of Afghanistan.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 24, 2011 6:24 am

    Important graph that nobody gets to see that watches the corporate news.

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