Sunday, November 23, 2014

Emperor: We Are Determined To Go To Our Grave In #Afghanistan

Bagram airfield, Parwan.  Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Of course President Barack Obama is not really an emperor. He is celebrity spokesman for an empire of oligarchs that spans the globe, makes all its big decisions in secret, and uses nation-states and their heads as puppets to effect control of the movement of people, resources and information.

But since he's the lame duck head of the empire, it's his lack of clothes I'll focus on today. The war in Afghanistan is over! Except, long live the 13+ year war in Afghanistan!
Post-Afghan presidential elections, Ambassador Cunningham and the new Afghan national security adviser, Hanif Atmar, congratulate each other after signing the Status of Forces Agreement that Hamid Karzai would not.
(Photo: Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
It's been way too long since I blogged about Afghanistan. It has been too dispiriting how the citizens of the empire have accepted bland announcements of the faux closure of that particular battlefield in the endless war on terror. Discouraging how they ignored the continued operation of Bagram Air Base and its state of the art torture prison. Demoralizing how they spouted the propaganda line about NATO upholding the rights of women and girls -- while security deteriorated with each passing day, and even Kabul became unsafe for an uncovered woman to walk out from home. Depressing how the standard of living and life expectancy and infant mortality rates continued to shame us, the imperial occupiers. Dubious how my fellow citizens continued to pretend to believe that "we" had brought "democracy" to a country that ought to be grateful. Grateful for a bumper opium crop!

Just this week I heard a 25 year old veteran bragging about how he never went outside the wire during his entire tour of duty in Afghanistan. But he was chock full of information about that country and its culture that he couldn't wait to share with teenagers. Imperial hubris in the flesh, with tormented eyes that made it difficult to meet his gaze.

I nearly blogged about the outcome of the recent presidential elections in Afghanistan, tragic as they were. Outgoing President Hamid Karzai was a man hard to admire, but damn if he didn't hold out until the bitter end in his refusal to sign the Status of Forces Agreement that the U.S. was trying to ram down his throat. Ok, maybe he did so out of fear of assassination rather than any kind of principled stand. But still, wasn't the refusal to submit to the SOFA one of the small victories in the Iraq debacle, a war that has been prematurely declared over several times, too? Because the SOFA we bully our subject nations into signing guarantees immunity from prosecution for military personnel and contractors: their impunity yet another stain on the USA's soul.

The election was long and drawn out, plagued by violence, racked by accusations of fraud. The future of SOFA was never really in doubt, because both candidates had already promised to do what the empire required. Here, in the empty words of the White House press office, is the visible part of the agreement:
Statement by the President on the Signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement in Afghanistan 
Today we mark an historic day in the U.S.-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan. After nearly two years of hard work by negotiating teams on both sides, earlier today in Kabul the United States and the new Afghan Government of National Unity signed a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). This agreement represents an invitation from the Afghan Government to strengthen the relationship we have built over the past 13 years and provides our military service members the necessary legal framework to carry out two critical missions after 2014: targeting the remnants of Al Qaeda and training, advising, and assisting Afghan National Security Forces. The signing of the BSA also reflects the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement our two governments signed in May 2012. 
Today, Afghan and NATO officials also signed the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, giving forces from Allied and partner countries the legal protections necessary to carry out the NATO Resolute Support mission when ISAF comes to an end later this year.
So, how surprised are we by news that Obama has secretly agreed to send more troops back into Afghanistan? Not that surprised, at all.
Obama paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan last May, receiving adulation from the military personnel stationed there.
Lest we become too discouraged to even contemplate the next decade(s) of war on the people of Afghanistan, here's tireless peaceworker Kathy Kelly on the view from Kabul:
I wish that NATO’s commander could have joined Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) Afghanistan as they visited an extraordinarily sustainable project, called “Emergency.” This Italy—based network of hospitals and clinics has been particularly remarkable for effectively saving and improving the lives of many Afghan people, over the past 13 years, while at the same time rejecting any form of war or use of weapons within its facilities.
Read the rest of her fine piece "Uncomplicated, in Afghanistan" to find more news about people making love, not war in Afghanistan. Then, you can donate to the Afghan Peace Volunteers' Duvet Project to provide warmth and employment to people who will try and survive yet another winter of war.
Seamstresses deliver finished duvets for distribution to those in need. Photo source: Voices for Creative Nonviolence website
As the emperor congratulates himself on wading ever deeper into the graveyard of empires.

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