Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Insatiable

American Thirst for Blood

By Dr Muzaffar Iqbal

July 18, 2009 --- The Anti-War Movement in America, Canada, and Britain has virtually become a non-entity. This was not unpredictable because the diverse groups which make up the so-called Anti-War Movement have neither the resources, nor the leadership, nor any solid ideological foundation beyond the apparent loathing for war. The invasion of Afghanistan by the United States took place at a time of high fever (September 11, 2001 attacks) and no one thought much of the long-term agenda of Americans at the time of Afghan invasion. Hence, Afghanistan never gained the kind of front end importance which Iraq immediately achieved with the Anti-War Movement. But now the Anti-War Movement is in total disarray over the continuous occupation of Afghanistan and the expanding military operations.

This has given a free hand to the three main governments which lead Afghan operations to do whatever they wish to do in Afghanistan without any fear of homegrown opposition. Thus President Obama had no one to oppose him when he decided to send more troops into Afghanistan. He did this to make his first term as “successful” as that of his predecessors, assuming that the time-tested American definition of success still holds good: America must be engaged in a war to be successful.

The insatiable American thirst for blood is now in full bloom in this killing season as its drones continue to take the lives of men, women, and children in various parts of Pakistani FATA and its soldiers continue to dig deeper and deeper into Afghanistan. Although it is moving its soldiers out Iraqi towns, it is simply redeploying them. This continuous lust for blood is something that now defines America. Its war machine has become so blood thirsty that there is no end in sight of American occupation of Afghanistan, even though there is absolutely no moral or legal justification for its continuous operations in that war-ravaged land.

Yet neither the increased troops, nor the huge monetary resources being pumped into Afghan war indicate anything but failure. Just two weeks into July, 46 foreign troops have already been killed, making July 2009 a record month. But for the NATO spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith, these deaths were “something we did anticipate occurring as we extend our influence in the south.” He also touted the “pretty intensive set of objectives being met in terms of routing the insurgents.” Blood and death is simply what is expected, there is absolutely no shame, no regret, no qualms about loss of human lives; it is all expected and that, somehow justifies it!

On July 10, 2009, the death of eight British soldiers in one 24 hour period set a record: British military’s death toll in Afghanistan (184) now surpasses the number of its soldiers killed in Iraq (179). Yet, speaking at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended the Afghan mission: “Our resolution to complete the work we have started is undiminished,” he said. “It is in tribute to the members of our forces who have given their lives that we should succeed in the efforts we have begun… it has been a very hard summer, and it is not over.”

It is this circular rhetoric of the American, Canadian, and British politicians that has become the bedrock of their raison d’etre to be in Afghanistan: we need to complete the mission we started. But if one asks them: what mission? what exactly is the reason for your presence in Afghanistan, they have no answer except vague plenitudes: defending the hard-won progress, eliminating terrorism, defending our ideals, safeguarding our nation.

The same rhetoric is regurgitated by the Canadian politicians whenever a Canadian soldier is killed, the most recent being the 124th solider, Cpl. Nick Bulger, killed on July 3, 2009 in Kandahar province. (The explosion was a near miss for Canadian Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, whose vehicle passed the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) just metres ahead Bulger's vehicle.) Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed regrets and condolences to the Bulger family, saying: “Hard-won progress is being made in Afghanistan." Adding; "Remarkable Canadians like Corporal Bulger will be remembered for their dedication and ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom."

Whose freedom, what peace? One may ask. These men and women are being sacrificed simply in pursuit of a phantom enemy in a far away land. No Canadian in his or her right mind believes that Taliban in Afghanistan are going to attack their country. There is simply no reason for Canadian soldiers to be in Afghanistan but this most simple, most apparent fact does not enter the calculations of Canadian politicians because they immediately start to think of the economic consequences of pulling out of Afghanistan: what would happen to the trade with the big trade partner to the south if we pulled out. How many jobs will be lost and what would be the consequence of these job losses in the next elections. Such is the “logic”, if one can call it logic.

If history can be any guide, one can say with certainty that sooner or later the foreign troops will have to leave Afghanistan and they will leave behind nothing but broken families, severed bodies, scared children, and a trail of corruption and destruction at a level and scale never witnessed in Afghan history. Yet, this will not happen until the Americans find another place to send their soldiers so that their insatiable thirst for blood has new killing fields.

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