Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010
10. "There has been significant progress in tamping down the insurgency in Afghanistan."
- Fact: A recent National Intelligence Estimate by 16 intelligence agencies found no progress.
It warned that large swathes of the country were at risk of falling to
the Taliban and that they still had safe havens in Pakistan, with the
Pakistani government complicit. The UN says there were over 6000 civilian casualties of war in Afghanistan in the first 10 months of 2010, a 20% increase over the same period in 2009. Also, 701 US and NATO troops have been killed this year, compared to 521 last year, a 25% increase. There were typically over 1000 insurgent attacks per month in Afghanistan this year, often twice as many per month as in 2009, recalling the guerrilla war in Iraq in 2005.
9. Afghans want the US and NATO troops to stay in their country because they feel protected by them.
- Fact: In a recent [pdf] poll, only 36% of Afghans
said they were confident that US troops could provide security. Only
32% of Afghans now have a favorable view of the United States over-all.
8. The "surge" and precision air strikes are forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
- Fact: The only truly high-ranking Taliban leader thought to have engaged in parleys with the US, Mulla Omar's number 2, turns out to have been a fraud and a con man.
7. The US presence in Afghanistan is justified by the September 11 attacks.
- Fact: In Helmand and Qandahar Provinces, a poll found that 92% of male residents had never heard of 9/11.
6. Afghans still want US troops in their country, despite their discontents.
- Fact: one poll found that 55% of Afghans want the US out of their country. And, the percentage of Afghans who support Taliban attacks on NATO has grown from 9% in 2009 to 27% this year!
5. The presidential elections of 2009 and the recent parliamentary elections were credible and added to the legitimacy of Afghanistan's government.
- Fact: Karzai stole his presidential election and the parliamentary elections were riddled with fraud. One fourth of the votes for parliament this fall had to be thrown out because of suspected ballot fraud, and 10 percent of victors were unseated for serious irregularities.
4. President Hamid Karzai is "a key ally" of the United States.
- Fact: Karzai has repeatedly threatened to join the Taliban. He has also admitted to being on a $2 million a year retainer from Iran. All he has to do is cozy up to North Korea for a trifecta!
3. Shiite Iran is arming the hyper-Sunni, Shiite-hating Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Fact: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates told
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini last February "that
intelligence indicated there was little lethal material crossing the
Afghanistan-Iran border." This according to a wikileaks cable.
2. Foreigners are responsible for much of Afghanistan's fabled corruption.
- The trail of big corruption usually leads back to people around President Karzai. Karzai insiders bankrupted a major Kabul bank with their shenanigans, forcing the government to bail it out. A significant portion of the $42 million in medicine given by the US for Afghan soldiers this year has disappeared and the Karzai-appointed official concerned has just been fired. US officials have alleged that Karzai's brother in Qandahar has run interference for illegal businesses and the drug trade.
1. The US is in Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda.
- Fact: CIA director Leon Panetta admitted
that there are only 50-100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan! The US
is mainly fighting two former allies among the Mujahidin whom Ronald
Reagan dubbed "freedom fighters" and the "equivalent of America's
founding fathers:" Gulbaddin Hikmatyar and his Hizb-i Islami, and
Jalaluddin Haqqani and his Haqqani Network. These two organizations,
which received billions from the US congress to fight the Soviets in the
1980s, are more deadly and important now than the ‘Old Taliban' of
Mulla Omar. The point is that they are just manifestations of Pashtun
Muslim nationalism, and not eternal enemies of the United States (being
former allies and clients and all). Hikmatyar has roundly denounced