President Barack Obama landed in Afghanistan … on an unannounced visit to meet with Afghan government officials and get a briefing from U.S. military leaders on progress in the eight-year-old war. "I'm encouraged by the progress that's been made" in Afghanistan, Obama said after meeting with President Hamid Karzai (pictured together left) in Kabul. He called for more work by Afghanistan's leaders to root out corruption and improve governance. Obama's in the country as the U.S. role there is growing with an escalation of forces that he ordered and allied troops are engaged in an offense against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Landing at Bagram airfield under the cover of darkness, Obama travelled the 50 miles to Kabul by helicopter to meet with Karzai at the presidential palace. Obama also is holding a separate session with Karzai's cabinet. Obama's visit, his first to Afghanistan since becoming president, is intended to emphasize U.S. calls for the Afghan government to crack down on corruption, fight drug trafficking that helps fund the insurgency and institute merit-based systems for government appointments, according to James Jones, Obama's national security adviser. "We plan to engage President Karzai as we're going to make him understand that in this second term that there are going to be certain things he has to do as the president of his country that have not been paid attention to almost since day one," Jones told reporters aboard Air Force One. Jones downplayed suggestions of tension between Obama and Karzai, saying, "I don't think there's any daylight between the two." – Bloomberg
Dominant Social Theme: Rallying the troops?
Free-Market Analysis: This story is actually related to the other one in the Bell today (Obama Sets Sights on Merging Mexico and US?). It involves what is obviously a vast ambition by the Anglo-American powers-that-be to continually reshape the world. That's the only conclusion we can actually come up with. Do you have a different idea, dear reader? Let's examine the various rationales together. In fact the reasons given for the invasions and subsequent occupations have changed over time.
In the case of Iraq, the reasons offered for the invasion were putatively false. Saddam Hussein was supposedly harboring a massive amount of nuclear and chemical weapons – known to the mainstream media as "WMDs or weapons of mass destruction." (Are there any other kinds?) But he wasn't. And the opposition pretty much faded away after a stiff battle or two. The vaunted Iraq army was not as formidable as feared. The upshot was that America (with some "allied" help) soon controlled the country. Unfortunately, short-term control is not an indicator of long-term pacification. It could be said that many in Iraq are biding their time, waiting for America to leave the region before making potentially destabilizing moves. Iraq may yet have another act to go.
As far as Afghanistan goes, the invasion was launched to roust the Taliban as a result of 9/11. The Taliban condemned the 9/11 attacks, however, and Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden denied emphatically that he was culprit. Additionally, the vast caves that Bin Laden supposedly operated out of were never found and the rag-tag Al Qaeda army he had supposedly assembled never turned up either.
But grant that Bin Laden launched passenger planes as weapons from an as of yet undiscovered bunker, what reason is there to be in Afghanistan 10 years later? Now the mission has shifted from routing Al Qaeda to rousting out the Taliban and making sure they will never again aspire to be the sole dominant force in Afghanistan. Whether this can be accomplished is questionable. The Taliban are actually the fighting wedge of a tribal entity known as the Pashtun, some 40 million strong. The Pashtuns have lived in Afghanistan for thousands of years and are notorious for out-waiting their various invaders. Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires for a reason.
Nonetheless, the US and its NATO allies are optimistic about their strategy as they renew the war (and their interest) in Afghanistan. They are going to attempt to put maximum military pressure on the Taliban while building up the essentials of a regulatory democracy around Afghanistan's current government led by Hamid Karzai. In this way, they hope to build a modern state in Afghanistan, or at least put in place the rudiments of one. Here's some more from the article:
President Barack Obama's trip was at least twofold then. First, he was to deliver a message to Karzai that the Afghan government needed to do a better job in order to gain the legitimacy it needed to rule. Second, Obama was there to rally the troops and to lift morale by re-emphasizing the importance of the conflict and their role in it. Here's some more from the article:
The U.S. is leading a drive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. A 30-day offensive by 15,000 Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops, including U.S. Marines and British forces culminated earlier this month with allies taking control of the town of Marjah.
It was the biggest operation against the Taliban since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks by al-Qaeda. Officials have said they are making plans for an even bigger assault on the Taliban heartland city of Kandahar. As part of the Obama administration's strategy, the U.S. also has strengthened its relationship with the government of neighboring Pakistan as well as with the Afghans.
The US intention is very obviously one of reconstruction of a country at this point – and nothing less. The entire infrastructure is to be reshaped around Karzai's government and will include a national police force, a fully equipped, national army and other the other accoutrements of a regulatory democracy. President Obama's trip is both a reflection and an affirmation of this exercise in nation building.
Such ambitions do not usually end well, though perhaps Afghanistan will prove the exception. By taming Afghanistan, the US obtains significant additional leverage over both India and Pakistan, two countries with nuclear armaments that have proven troublesome to the West in the recent past.
We've analyzed today's stories from a power-elite point of view, trying to figure out the real strategies behind the news being purveyed in the United States and throughout the West. The dominant social themes of the power elite as it regards Afghanistan is that America is protecting itself against extremist terrorism – via nation building. The reality is that there are significant questions about the involvement of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban in 9/11 and that, in any case, Al Qaeda does not seem to be in Afghanistan anymore (whatever it is) and the Taliban are actually Pashtuns who have lived in Afghanistan for thousands of years.
The power elite has set itself some formidable tasks in the 21st century. The problem is that unlike the 20th century, the Internet has made many of the tactics of the elite abundantly clear. The basic method of operation of the elite is to create fear-based memes that drive people to surrender wealth and gravitate toward authoritarian solutions created by the same powers-that-be. In the 21st century these memes are increasingly obvious. The laboriously erected curtain behind which the power elite operates is tattered and torn. It remains to be seen whether the hundreds of millions and even billions of the world's population will continue to be willingly manipulated as the methodologies become increasingly obvious. The ramifications for people's wealth, freedom and the futures of their families are tremendous.