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Levin continues to believe the US is making progress in Afghanistan

August 31, 2011

Last week, Michigan Senator Carl Levin returned from a 3-day trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with fellow Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Jeff Merkle.

The three Senators released a brief statement on what they learned in that brief trip to those two countries. The statement begins with a comment about the “professionalism of our troops and at the high morale they maintain.” This comment seems a bit strange considering that August of 2011 has seen more US troops killed in Afghanistan that in any other month over the last 10 years.

Levin’s statement goes on to say, “There has been militarily significant progress in Afghanistan since our last visits.” What the Senators mean by progress is their claim that some Taliban areas are now under US control and that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have increased in size and capability. Levin made the same claim of progress in Afghanistan when speaking in Grand Rapids last February, but a report released by the Afghaistan NGO Safety Office said: “Foreign military assertions that security in Afghanistan is improving are intended to sway Western public opinion ahead of a troop withdrawal and do not reflect the reality on the ground.”

The ANSF is what Levin has been holding up as the golden egg in Afghan and his main justification for continued support for the US occupation in Afghanistan since the US military escalation was announced by the Obama administration in December 2009. However, there have been independent reports that challenge the viability of the ANSF and demonstrate that they are also responsible for human rights violations.

The statement is short on what they observed in Pakistan and emphasizes the efforts to go after “terrorists groups” and their “safe havens.” Levin also makes the claim that attacks against these groups have taken Pakistani lives, but the Michigan Senator fails to mention that US Drone strikes have also killed many Pakistani civilians. According to the group Voices for Creative Non-Violence, an estimate 740 Pakistani civilians have been killed by US Drone strikes. However, Levin is likely to dismiss these deaths as nothing more than mistakes, which was what he said to the Council on Foreign Relations last October.

This was not information that Senator Levin was likely to hear since he met exclusively with US military officials, US diplomats, Afghan military leaders and Pakistani diplomats. Indeed, it seems that Levin and his fellow Senators are using these brief trips to Afghanistan to justify the ongoing US occupation of Afghanistan and the militarization of the region.

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