Sunday, September 10, 2017

Getting It Wrong In Afghanistan: Bagram Air Base And Prison Complex

After 16 years of bloody occupation, the kleptocracy is poised to make even more money in Afghanistan. The demagogue with bad hair is listening to an inner circle that includes Erik Prince of the notorious Blackwater mercenary firm that helped occupy Iraq. Privatize even more of the war, they whisper. Endless war means endless profits!

The fact that Afghanistan's sovereignty is vigorously defended by freedom fighters posing as religious fanatics is super convenient.

During the Soviet occupation a fierce young man in Kabul told me, "As long as there is one Afghan left alive, the Soviets will never rule our country!" 

Fast forward to 2017.

Bagram Air Base and Prison Complex, constructed on the ruins of a Soviet base, is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. A suicide bomber inside the gates killed numerous troops gathered to observe Veterans Day there (formerly Armistice Day) last November. It was again targeted this month by a motorcyle-riding suicide bomber who detonated at a security gate. In June, eight Afghan guards headed for the night shift at Bagram were killed when their car was attacked in a driveby shooting.

Back in 2002, prisoners were tortured and beaten to death in the "detention" facility there; a few soldiers were court martialed for their role in the abuse. In 2010 the Pentagon released the names of 645 souls being held prisoner at Bagram. For seven years the detainees included Pakistani neuroscientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and her three children.

Building big, expensive compounds where military personnel can enjoy air conditioning, fast food burgers and wifi is what the U.S. is good at. Winning hearts and minds, not so much.

The latest suicide bombing was said to be connected with a public relations faux pas on the part of the occupation. As reported by the Associated Press:
Earlier Wednesday, a U.S. commander had apologized for dropping leaflets in Afghanistan that were deemed offensive to Islam. 
The leaflets dropped Monday night, which encouraged Afghans to cooperate with security forces, included an image of a dog carrying the Taliban flag, said Shah Wali Shahid, the deputy governor of Parwan province, north of Kabul. The flag has Islamic verses inscribed on it, and dogs are seen as unclean in much of the Muslim world.
There have even been allegations that dogs were used to rape prisoners held at Bagram.

An Afghan interpreter interviewed by Emran Feroz for Alternet stated: "Guantanamo is a paradise if you compare it with Bagram."

How much has it cost U.S. taxpayers to create and maintain the cruelest military installation on Earth?

By Staff Sgt. Craig Seals -
Due to the lack of accountability in Pentagon budgets and contracting practices, the price tag is impossible to determine with any certainty. Chronicles of waste and corruption abound, but accurately quantifying this mammoth corporate welfare scheme will probably not be possible.

Of the 800+ military bases that U.S. taxpayers support abroad, Bagram is at the top of my list to just close already. The U.S. and or NATO will never "win" the war in Afghanistan. Bagram has been called a "factory for terrorism" and even without the torture its mere presence is enough to help Taleban recruiters find the next generation of suicide bombers. 

Just bring the homesick troops back already, and close the base. Erik Prince is already rich enough.

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