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File:US Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom.jpg

Foreign troops forcibly breaking into an Afghan home to conduct a house search, with a woman and child in the background.

Opposition to the nine-year Afghanistan war stems from numerous factors - these include the view that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was illegal under international law and constituted an unjustified aggression, the view that the continued military presence constitutes a foreign military occupation, the view that the war does little to prevent terrorism but increases its likelihood, and views on the involvement of geo-political and corporate interests. Also giving rise to oppposition to the war are the high level of civilian casualties, the cost to taxpayers, the decades of war inflicted on Afghans, the length of the war to date, and the estimates by many that it could last for many more decades.

Disputed legality of the U.S. invasion

Opponents of the war have long claimed that the attack on Afghanistan was illegal under international law, constituted unjustified aggression and would lead to the deaths of many civilians through the bombing campaign and by preventing humanitarian aid workers from bringing food into the country. By one estimate, around 5,000 Afghan civilians had been killed within just the first three months of the U.S. invasion.[1][2]

More broadly, the invasion of Afghanistan appeared to opponents to be a stepping stone to the 2003 Iraq War, increasing the geo-political reach of the United States.

Involvement in an Afghan civil war

Opposition also stems from the view that the U.S.-led military forces are taking sides in an ongoing civil war in Afghanistan between its ethnic groups, backing minority Tajiks and Uzbeks against the Pashtun majority of Afghanistan.[3][4][5]

Several weeks into a massive U.S.-led military offensive against the Taliban in four southern Afghan provinces in 2006, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke against the killing of so many Afghan citizens:[6]

According to journalist Ahmed Rashid, the noted author of several books on Afghanistan, the Taliban are in the fabric of that country, and defeating the Taliban would involve killing "large numbers of Pashtuns," an ethnic group with a long history in southeastern Afghanistan.[7]

Afghan civilian opposition to the invasion

One of the best-known women's organization in Afghanistan, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), condemned the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, stating that "America ... has launched a vast aggression on our country".

They accused the U.S. and its allies of "paying the least attention to the fate of democracy in Afghanistan" by first having supported for years a "Jehadis-fostering, Osama-fostering and Taliban-fostering" policy before the 2001 U.S. invasion, only to now be "sharpening the dagger of the Northern Alliance" warlords and drug lords that were key allies of the U.S. in its invasion.'[8][9]

Afghan opposition leader Abdul Haq also opposed U.S. military action in his country. In a November 2, 2001 article "US Bombs Are Boosting the Taliban" published just days before he was killed, he argued that any military action against the Taliban should be carried out by Afghans, not Americans.[5][10]

Afghan civilian casualties

A very large factor in opposition to the war in Afghanistan are the deaths of innocent Afghan civilians, with thousands currently being killed each year as a result of the war.[11]

The nine-year-long war in Afghanistan has caused the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians directly from insurgent and foreign military action, as well as the deaths of possibly tens of thousands of Afghan civilians indirectly as a consequence of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, crime and lawlessness resulting from the war.

Coalition military casualties

The continued and mounting death tolls of foreign military forces in the nine-year war are another factor involved in the opposition to the war in Afghanistan, with hundreds currently dying per year. By late 2010, well over 2,000 foreign soldiers had been killed in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.[12][13]

File:Coalition military casualties in afghanistan by month.svg

Coalition fatalities per month since the war began in October 2001 as U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom".[14]

International public opinion

International public opinion is largely opposed to the war in Afghanistan. Polls around the world - including a 47-nation global survey in 2007, a 24-nation survey in 2008, both a 25-nation survey and a 13-nation survey in 2009, and a 22-nation survey in 2010 - have repeatedly shown considerable opposition to the presence of U.S. and NATO military troops in Afghanistan.[15][16][17][18][19]

While support for the war in Afghanistan has been strongest in the United States and Israel,[20][21] recent polls have shown growing American opposition to the U.S. war, including majority opposition:

  • September 2009 - United States: Growing American opposition to the war in Afghanistan reached an all-time high, while support for the U.S. war fell to an all-time low in September. A record majority 58% of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan, while only 39% support the U.S. war. The CNN - Opinion Research poll was conducted September 11–13, 2009.[22]
  • September 2009 - United States: "Americans are broadly skeptical of President Obama's contention that the war in Afghanistan is necessary for the war against terrorism to be a success, and few see an increase in troops as the right thing to do." The plurality 42% of Americans want a reduction of the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Only 26% of Americans think more troops should be sent to Afghanistan. 51% of Americans think the war is not worth fighting, while 46% think it is. Fewer than half of Americans think winning the war in Afghanistan is necessary to win the "war on terrorism", with about as many saying it is not. The Washington Post - ABC News poll was conducted September 10–12, 2009.[23][24]

International protests against the war

The ongoing nine-year war in Afghanistan has repeatedly been the subject of large protests around the world, with the first large-scale demonstrations beginning in the days leading up to the war's official launch on October 7, 2001 as U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom".

Foreign military occupation

In January 2009, an independent analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. found that "the majority of Afghans are now deeply opposed to the foreign troops on their soil" and that the presence of a foreign occupier in Afghanistan is the single most important factor behind the Afghan insurgency.[4][25][26][27] The Taliban and the many other insurgent groups in Afghanistan also perceive the nine-year foreign military presence as an occupation. Taliban spokesman Yousef Ahmadi told journalist Anand Gopal, "We are fighting to free our country from foreign domination." He added, "Even the Americans once waged an insurgency to free their country."[28][29] On October 8, 2009, in a New York Times interview initiated by the White House, a senior White House official described the Afghan Taliban as an indigenous Afghan group that want to win back territory within their own country. The comment came a day after the Taliban reasserted that their aim is "the obtainment of independence".[30]

Foreign military raids of Afghan homes

A key and long-standing point of opposition to the war in Afghanistan has been the constant raids of Afghan homes by foreign military forces that have persisted despite long-repeated pleas and protests by the Afghan government.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37]

In a visit to Washington in May 2005, Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked U.S. President George W. Bush to let the Afghan government have authority over house search operations regularly conducted by the U.S.-led foreign military forces in his country. Bush rejected the Afghan president's request.[33]

In September 2005, Karzai again tried asking the U.S.-led military forces for changes, saying: "Going into the Afghan homes - searching Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan government - is something that should stop now. No coalition forces should go into Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan government."[33]

By the spring of 2006, mounting anger over the foreign military raids of Afghan homes, and accusations of foreign troops molesting women during the forced searches, helped prompt Afghan religious leaders to begin calling for armed resistance.[34]

Rejection of the terrorism argument

A Washington Post - ABC News poll in September 2009 reported that "Americans are broadly skeptical of President Obama's contention that the war in Afghanistan is necessary for the war against terrorism to be a success." Fewer than half of Americans think winning the war in Afghanistan is necessary to win the "war on terrorism", with about as many saying that it is not.[23]

A poll at the end of August 2009 found that three-quarters of Britons do not think fighting in Afghanistan makes British people, or British streets, any safer from terrorism, as Gordon Brown and senior ministers repeatedly told them to justify the war.[38]

About a week and a half later, British member of parliament Eric Joyce, a former army major, resigned as aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, saying "I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets."

In 2004, Jack Cloonan, a 25-year veteran of the FBI who served between 1996 and 2002 on the joint CIA–FBI task force that tracked bin Laden, said the number of people in Al Qaeda was "miniscule". A membership list found near Kabul in 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and obtained by the task force, showed there had been a grand total of 198 members in the organization.[39]

With the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, al Qaeda elements moved to Pakistan and other countries.[39][40][41]

On October 8, 2009, in a New York Times interview initiated by the White House, a senior White House official acknowledged that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaida fighters left in Afghanistan and that the Afghan Taliban, an indigenous Afghan group seeking to win back territory within their own country, do not themselves pose a direct security threat to the United States. He said: "When the two are aligned, it's mainly on the tactical front."[30]

The comments were made a day after the Taliban asserted that it did not pose a direct threat to the United States. The Taliban stated that their aim was "obtainment of independence and establishment of an Islamic system" in their country, and not to attack the West. "We did not have any agenda to harm other countries, including Europe, nor do we have such agenda today."[30]

On June 27, 2010, CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed that there were possibly fewer than 50 members of Al Qaeda, and at most 100, in Afghanistan.[41]

In January 2009, an independent analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. dismissed the argument that a withdrawal of the foreign military presence would allow al-Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan, pointing out that, first, the U.S.-led military forces do not control the periphery of the Afghan territory anyway, and, second, that targeted operations with the agreement of the Kabul government could be used instead.[26]

Others have also made the point that al-Qaeda operates in many other countries and simply does not need Afghanistan. The New York Times reported in November 2008 that a 2004 classified order identified at least 15 to 20 other countries outside of Afghanistan and Iraq where al-Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sanctuary. The countries listed in the secret order signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with the approval of U.S. President George W. Bush included Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states. Since 2004, the United States has repeatedly used the broad, secret authority granted by that order to conduct targeted operations against al-Qaeda and other militants in many countries outside of Afghanistan, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya, the Philippines, and elsewhere.[42][43][44][45][46]

In an influential September 2009 article entitled "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan", conservative commentator George Will similarly argued that "forces should be substantially reduced," and "America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units" in targeted operations.[47]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and a number of other senior administration officials also favor moving toward a more scaled-back strategy that focuses on targeted, surgical operations against senior insurgent figures using drones and small special operations teams.[48][49][50][51]

Others have further made the point that al-Qaeda does not need a safe haven at all, and that terrorists can and have learned their craft in a Hamburg apartment, a home in Colorado, a flight school in Florida, or myriad other places around the world.[4][52][53]

As noted military historian Gwynne Dyer pointed out, "The 9/11 attacks were not planned in Afghanistan. They were planned by al Qaeda operatives in Germany and Florida, and it is very unlikely that the Taleban government of Afghanistan had advance warning of them."[53]

In his September 10, 2009 letter of resignation as the State Department's Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, in protest against the American war in Afghanistan, Matthew Hoh, a former U.S. Marine captain, stated:

In a September 16, 2009 Washington Post article, Paul R. Pillar, deputy chief of the counterterrorist center at the CIA from 1997 to 1999 and director of graduate studies at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program, questioned the assumption that al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups need a haven at all, pointing out that "terrorists' organizations have become more network-like, not beholden to any one headquarters."[4][54]

In a September 30, 2009 open letter to President Obama, foreign policy veteran William R. Polk stated: "Since terrorist attacks can be mounted from many places, the only effective long-term defense against them is to deal with their causes."[55]

When asked by Bob Woodward why al-Qaeda, which is comparatively safe in its current sanctuaries in Pakistan, would even want to return to Afghanistan, the National Security Adviser of the United States, General James L. Jones, replied, "That's a good question. . . . This is certainly one of the questions that we will be discussing. This is one of the questions, for example, that one could come back at with General McChrystal."[56]

Creating and training insurgents

The January 2009 analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. found that "the majority of Afghans are now deeply opposed to the foreign troops on their soil," and concluded that the presence of foreign military forces in Afghanistan is the single most important factor in mobilizing support and increasing recruiting for the Taliban.[25][26]

According to the Carnegie report, the insurgency against the foreign military forces would abate with the removal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, and "the momentum of the Taliban would slow or stop altogether, because without a foreign occupier the Jihadist and nationalist feelings of the population would be much more difficult to mobilize."[26]

The Pew Research Center reported in February 2009: "As has been the case since 2006, more Americans believe decreasing -- rather than increasing -- the U.S. military presence abroad is the more effective way to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on the United States. Half of Americans (50%) now believe that decreasing the U.S. military presence overseas would be the more effective policy, while just 31% say an increased presence would be more effective."[57]

In his September 10, 2009 letter resigning over the American war in Afghanistan, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency, Matthew Hoh, the State Department's Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province, wrote: "The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified."[58][58][59][60]

As with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he advised that the U.S. reduce its combat forces in Afghanistan, if not remove them entirely.[60][61]

In a statement made to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a group of former intelligence officials and other experts decided to go public with their concerns and warned:[62]

The group included Howard Hart, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan who helped organize the anti-Soviet insurgency in the 1980s; David Miller, a former ambassador and National Security Council official; William J. Olson, a counterinsurgency scholar at the National Defense University; and another CIA veteran who spent 12 years in the region, was station chief in Kabul at the time the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and later headed the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.[62]

In the 2009 documentary "Rethink Afghanistan", several other former U.S. intelligence officials and experts on Afghanistan also contend that the war in Afghanistan does nothing to protect the safety of American people, but, on the contrary, only threatens the safety and security of Americans, both in the U.S. and abroad:[63]

In his September 30, 2009 open letter to President Obama, foreign policy veteran William R. Polk argued that trying to defeat the Taliban militarily is not in America's interest, saying: "The harder we try, the more likely terrorism will be to increase and spread."[55]

According to the August 2010 report by the Afghanistan Study Group: "The current U.S. military effort is helping fuel the very insurgency we are attempting to defeat."[64]

Insurgent detention and recruitment facilities

In September 2009, a four-page supplement by U.S. General Stanley McChrystal to his 66-page report conceded that because of a shortage of interrogation personnel at U.S. military's Bagram Theater Internment Facility, hundreds of Afghans were being held in detention for long periods without charge, resulting in the Afghan prison system having become a "sanctuary and base" for militants, providing them fertile ground to radicalize and recruit new insurgents.[65]

According to a series of New York Times reports in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. Bagram detention facility, "a crude place where most prisoners are fenced into large metal pens," was packed with about 630 prisoners, with the rising numbers of detainees "driven primarily by the deepening war in Afghanistan". The articles reported that Bagram prisoners, held under harsh conditions described as worse than at Guantanamo, had no access to lawyers, and that some detainees had been held there without charge for more than five years. Harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were widely used, and the Red Cross reported cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Two Afghan detainees died there in December 2002 after being beaten by American soldiers and hung by their arms from the ceiling of isolation cells.[66][67][68]

In 2007, the U.S. military began transferring many detainees from the U.S. Bagram Theater detention camp and from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camp to the Afghan-run Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside Kabul. By May 2008, American officials conceded that the Afghan prison could not absorb all the Afghans being detained by the United States military. According to Human Rights First, the United States had transferred 250 former Guantánamo detainees into the Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside Kabul since 2007, often to the shock of their waiting families. By July 2009, with Pul-e-Charkhi prison holding some 360 prisoners transferred into the Afghan prison system from the U.S. detention facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo, American officials were expressing fears that the Afghan prison system would be overwhelmed by waves of new detainees captured in the American-led military offensives being conducted by thousands of Marines in southern Afghanistan.[66][67][68][69][70]

According to McChrystal's supplementary report:[65]

  • More than 2,500 out of 14,500 prisoners in Afghanistan's prison system were linked to militant groups.
  • "There are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan."
  • "Hardened, committed Islamists are indiscriminately mixed with petty criminals and sex offenders, and they are using the opportunity to radicalise and indoctrinate them."
  • A shortage of interrogation personnel at the U.S. Bagram detention facility results in indefinite detentions.
  • "As a result, hundreds are held without charge or without a defined way ahead. This allows the enemy to radicalise them far beyond their pre-capture orientation."

Even with the transfer of many Bagram detainees into the Afghan prison system since 2007, the New York Times reported in January 2010 that more than 700 people detained by the American military continued to be imprisoned indefinitely and without legal recourse at the notorious prison at U.S. Bagram Air Base.[71]

Incubating and disseminating bomb-making expertise

Suicide bomb attacks were virtually unheard of in Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion in 2001, and both the use of suicide attacks and the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) as roadside bombs were relatively uncommon in Afghanistan until mid-2005.[72][73][74][75]

According to a UN report on suicide attacks in Afghanistan: "During the ravages of the Soviet occupation, the warlords' struggle for domination, and even during the Taliban period, Afghans never undertook such operations." Despite thirty years of warfare, suicide attacks were not carried out by any Afghans until after mid-2003, and only came into prominence in mid-2005 when they began to escalate drastically.[75]

File:Afghanistan suicide bomb attacks incl non-detonated 2002-2008 UNAMA red.png

Number of suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan 2002-2008.
(Source: UNAMA. Figures include 17 in 2006, 68 in 2007, and 93 in 2008 that were not detonated.)[75][76] [77]

The tactic is seen to have been imported from the U.S. occupation of Iraq following the American invasion in March of 2003. According to experts, Afghan militants saw how successful it was and began copying it, and there has also been evidence that foreign jihadis brought the tactics they learned in that war with them to Afghanistan. Former CIA officer Art Keller stated in 2007: "People are going there to learn the tactics, and then come back."[78][79][80]

According to CNN's Peter Bergen:[79]

"The Bush administration hoped that Iraq would draw terrorists to one place, making them easier to kill, the so-called flypaper theory. But the opposite happened. Iraq has strengthened al Qaeda. It's now a training ground for terrorists from around the world."

In writing about suicide attacks in the war in Afghanistan, security analyst Anthony Cordesman noted that in 2008: "Their lethality and skill increased and so did estimates of the number of suicide bombers in training."[81]

File:Afghanistan IED roadside bombs 2002-2008 CSIS USA Today red.png

Number of IED and roadside bombs in Afghanistan 2002-2008.
(Sources: 2002-2007 CSIS, 2008 USA Today. Including bombs discovered before detonation.)[81][82]

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan also began to drastically increase in 2005. Military and defense analyst John Pike noted, "The insurgency in Afghanistan has been very carefully studying the lessons learned by the insurgents in Iraq."[83]

A July 2009 New York Times article entitled "Afghan Insurgents Expand Their Use of Increasingly Sophisticated Homemade Bombs" reported that according to American military officers, IED's in Afghanistan were becoming more common and more sophisticated with each week.[84]

In September 2009, the Washington Times reported that the Taliban had learned to build simpler, cheaper, deadlier anti-personnel IED bombs made of hard-to-detect non-metal components, such as carbon harvested from everyday batteries and plastic, according to a confidential U.S. military report. The Pentagon report, which spoke of a Taliban IED research-and-development program, described the latest IEDs to appear in the Afghan war as "less costly", "smaller, lighter, more quickly constructed", "small and easily transported and emplaced", "easily camouflaged", "extremely difficult to detect", "lethal".[85]

In January 2010, The Independent reported military experts saying that insurgents in Afghanistan had developed a new generation of deadly 'undetectable' bombs made out of wood, with no metal or electronic parts. Chris Hunter, a former bomb disposal expert, described them as "mass produced" and "being wheeled out on an industrial level. You see them everywhere." According to one US group, the number of IEDs used in Afghanistan had surged by 400% since 2007, matched by a 400% increase in the number of troops killed by them, and an even higher 700% increase in the number that have been wounded by them.[86]

In February 2009, news magazine The Week wrote:

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Geo-political and corporate interests

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Opposition to the war in Afghanistan often has at its core the view that the U.S. invasion, nine-year occupation, and military build-up in Afghanistan are being conducted for geo-political purposes and U.S. corporate energy interests.[3][87][88][89][90]

U.S. energy interests

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In an article entitled "America's Pipe Dream" published October 23, 2001, British investigative journalist George Monbiot outlined the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan as primarily being a bid to control oil and gas resources and distribution in central Asia.[87]

In 1995, U.S. energy giant Unocal, partnered with Saudi oil company, Delta Oil Co. Ltd, started negotiating to build pipelines through Afghanistan to transport oil and gas from Turkmenistan to ports in Pakistan on the Arabian Sea, a multi-billion dollar scheme that would require a stable regime in Afghanistan to guarantee safe passage of the energy commodities. The U.S.-Saudi-led consortium, called CentGas, also included firms from Pakistan, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Korea.[87][91][92]

Shortly after the Taliban gained control of Kabul in September 1996, The Telegraph reported:

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According to former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency military analyst Julie Sirrs who went to Afghanistan in October 1998 and met with Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance: "Massoud told me he had proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul" in September 1996.[92]

In the years that followed, Unocal frequently wooed Taliban leaders, hosting them as VIP guests at its headquarters in Houston, Texas, and in meetings with U.S. government officials in Washington, D.C. According to a December 10, 2001 article in the Boston Herald: "Before the pipeline deal could go through, Unocal needed the U.S. to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan. To that end, company representatives arranged high-level meetings between the Taliban and State Department officials in Washington, D.C." On at least one occasion, in December 1997, Unocal oil executives and representatives, including Zalmay M. Khalilzad, a former assistant undersecretary of defense under Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in the first Bush administration, wined and dined the Taliban and took them on a shopping spree.[87][89][91][93][94][95]

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On November 28, 1997, Unocal's vice-president of international relations, John J. Maresca, made a presentation at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly seminar in Instanbul. In previous roles, Maresca had been U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, chief of staff to two NATO Secretaries General, State Department officer in charge of NATO political affairs, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Special Envoy to open US relations with the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. In a session named "The Caucasus Region: competing stakes, conflicts and co-operation", Maresca spoke of the U.S. State Department's assessment of Caspian oil reserves, underlined the importance of ensuring transport of those reserves to market, identified important markets, gave the participants information on existing and planned pipelines, and discussed various pipeline routes.[96][97][98][99]

Two months later, in February 1998, Maresca also addressed U.S. Congress representatives in a Hearing on U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics, congratulating them for "focusing on Central Asia oil and gas reserves and the role they play in shaping U.S. policy" and telling them that growing demand for energy in Asia coupled with U.S. sanctions against Iran made Afghanistan "the only other possible route" available to them for Caspian oil. Maresca again made clear the Unocal pipeline project's need for a "recognized government" that would have "the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company". According to author-journalist Richard W. Behan in an article entitled "The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War", Unocal's vice-president had essentially asked politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable government inserted.[87][89][100]

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In the summer of 2001, the United States Geological Survey (USGS)'s annual assessment of Afghanistan reported that, in addition to its considerable mineral resources, "Afghanistan has additional economic potential because of its strategic geographical position as a transit route for Cental Asian hydrocarbons to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes proposed multibillion dollar oil and gas export pipelines through the country."[101]

In July 2001, with Cheney back in the Whitehouse as Vice-President and Khalilzad appointed to President Bush's National Security Council, three American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officials to inform them of planned U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan in October.[89][102]

In August 2001, U.S. State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban, at their last pipeline negotiation just five weeks before 9/11, "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."[89][103][104]

On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan officially began with a bombing campaign that Noam Chomsky of MIT described as "weeks of carpet bombing and resort to virtually every available device short of nuclear weapons ("daisy cutters," cluster bombs. etc.)"

On October 10, 2001, though the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan had barely begun, an article in the English-language Pakistani Frontier Post reported that U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain had already informed the Pakistani Oil Minister that, "in view of recent geopolitical developments", the negotiations for a pipeline through Afghanistan would be revived.[105]

On December 5, 2001, just 8 weeks into the U.S. invasion, Hamid Karzai was named Chairman of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, Karzai had played a "role funneling covert American aid" to mujahedeen insurgents in Afghanistan in the eighties, beginning a long relationship with U.S. policy makers in Washington.[106][107]

A top contact for the CIA in the eighties, Karzai had also later testified before Congress, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, periodically met former CIA officer, Senate aide, and future State Department official Christina Rocca, and addressed a RAND seminar on Afghanistan in 2000 at Khalilzad's invitation. A U.S. State Department official referred to Karzai's close ties with the U.S.: "To us, he is still Hamid, a man we've dealt with for some time."[103][106][107]

In addition to these ties, Karzai was reported to have also been an adviser to Unocal.[103][105][107][108][109][110][111][112][113][114]

On January 1, 2002, nine days after Hamid Karzai was sworn into office, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, who had been a key Unocal consultant on the pipeline project and special liaison between Unocal and the Taliban government in the pipeline negotiations, was named as U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan by U.S. President George W. Bush, while continuing his role in Bush's National Security Council.[103][115]

On February 8, 2002, just 6 weeks after being sworn into office as Chairman of the Interim Administration, Karzai announced that he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had discussed the proposed Central Asian gas pipeline project and agreed to work on its development.[116]

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On May 30, 2002, just four months later, Hamid Karzai, still as chairman of Afghanistan's interim administration, signed a deal with the presidents of Pakistan and Turkmenistan to construct a multi-billion dollar 1,500-km Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline from Turkmenistan's Dauletabad gas fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar.[117]

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Pipeline path 'clearing and holding' forces

In a June 2008 article in the Toronto Sun entitled "These wars are about oil, not democracy", defence analyst and journalist Eric Margolis remarked on the U.S. military bases just happening to be adjacent to the planned pipeline route, and wrote: "Work will begin on the TAPI once Taliban forces are cleared from the pipeline route by U.S., Canadian and NATO forces. As American analyst Kevin Phillips writes, the U.S. military and its allies have become an "energy protection force.""[118]

In a September 2009 article, author-journalist Richard W. Behan wrote: "Superimposing the base-locations over maps of the pipelines, the Bush Administration’s design is unmistakable. U.S. bases in Afghanistan proper — there are now 15 altogether — precisely straddle the prospective pipeline routes."

War in Afghanistan as a demonstration of U.S. military power

In a November 2, 2001 article entitled "US Bombs Are Boosting the Taliban", anti-Taliban Afghan leader Abdul Haq again presented the case he had repeatedly been making against U.S. military action in his country, but seemed resigned that the U.S. was not going to listen:[5][10]

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Thriving opium production since the invasion

File:Afghanistan opium poppy cultivation 1994-2007b.PNG

Thriving opium poppy cultivation since the U.S. invasion in October 2001 (in hectares).

Opium production in Afghanistan has thrived since the U.S. invasion and overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) data, there was more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past five growing seasons (2004–2008), than in any one year during the Taliban five-year rule (1996–2001).[119][120]

UNODC reported in its November 2008 report that the majority 58% of opium poppy-growing farmers in Afghanistan began to cultivate opium after the 2001 U.S. invasion.[120]

In July 2000, the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, argued that opium was against Islam and banned its cultivation. The Taliban edict resulted in a drastic 90% reduction in opium cultivation between 2000 and 2001.[119]

Even compared to 2000 - the year before the Taliban opium ban of 2000-2001 saw effect - the overall opium-related income in the Afghan economy had risen nearly fourfold by 2008, reflecting higher export volumes as well as higher prices.[120]

Financial cost of the war to taxpayers and Western economies

By 2008, the U.S. military was spending nearly $100 million a day in Afghanistan.[121][122]

By one estimate in September 2009, the United States, which has approximately two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, had already spent some $250 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.[123]

By October or November 2009, estimates by the Congressional Research Service placed the cost that could be accounted for at $300 billion spent or committed.[124]

In September 2009, the Christian Science Monitor reported that in the upcoming budget year, the U.S. war in Afghanistan would, for the first time, cost American taxpayers more than the U.S. war in Iraq. By the end of September 2010, the total military budget costs for both wars will have exceeded $1 trillion.[125]

By October 2009, news reports indicated U.S. costs of fighting the war in Afghanistan at $165 million every 24 hours.[126]

Officially, the United States' military costs for the war in Afghanistan were budgeted at $65 billion for fiscal 2010, a figure amounting to $178 million a day.[125]

However the true cost will probably be closer to $85 billion, or more, according to Gordon Adams, a defense expert at American University’s School of International Service in Washington. That figure would amount to about $233 million a day.

Factoring in veteran health and other benefits, replenishment of military hardware, a higher price for oil, and the interest on debt incurred by the wars, Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University economist, and Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University Nobel Prize economist, estimated a "moderate-realistic" bill for the two wars of $5 trillion to U.S. taxpayers.[125]

In September 2009, foreign policy veteran William R. Polk suggested that the real cost of the war in Afghanistan to the U.S. economy would end up being over $3 trillion.[55]

In September 2009, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimated that a speedier withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, with a sharp reduction in troops over three years, could save taxpayers $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next decade.[127]

In December 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a surge of yet another thirty thousand U.S. troops into Afghanistan, increasing the buildup of the U.S. military in Afghanistan by another 40-45% and adding further red ink to the United States' $1.4 trillion deficit spending and national debt of over $12 trillion. The administration estimated the cost for this surge at $30 billion (presumably for an initial 18 month period). However, the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Pentagon's budget, U.S. Congress Rep. John Murtha, estimated that the surge would cost at least $40 billion - $10 billion more than the administration's estimate. The congressman also called for a surtax to finance the war, saying the U.S. risks the sort of inflation seen in the Vietnam War era.[128][129]

By February 2010, with thousands more U.S. troops still to arrive, the monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan to U.S. taxpayers had exceeded that of the U.S. war in Iraq - consuming $6.7 billion per month, compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq, and amounting to about $223 million per day.[27][130]

By May 2010, the estimate for fiscal year 2010 that was being reported had risen to $105 billion, amounting to $288 million per day. Meanwhile, the cost of the war to U.S. taxpayers in fiscal year 2011 was being projected at $117 billion, a figure amounting to around $320 million per day. Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments stated: "The cost just cascades. That's always been an issue in Afghanistan."[130]

In the United Kingdom, a comprehensive analysis by The Independent in July 2009, revealed that the cost of the war to British taxpayers had already exceeded £12 billion ($US 20 billion) - enough to pay for "23 new hospitals, 60,000 new teachers or 77,000 new nurses". A Ministry of Defence source indicated that the department feared the Afghan campaign was adding at least £250 million a year ($US 405 million) to their spending on veteran welfare services. In addition to these military costs, British taxpayer money is also being spent on Afghanistan by the Department of International Development (DfID), which will have spent close to £1 billion ($US 1.6 billion) between 2001 and 2012, and the Foreign Office (FCO) that had already spent £230 million ($US 375 million) since 2006 alone.[131]

The overall cost of the war, combined for the over-40 nations that have at various points contributed to the nine-year American-led war, and in additional spending by the UN, International Red Cross, and numerous other government-funded NGOs, since the 2001 U.S. invasion is not known.

Length of the war

The war in Afghanistan, launched October 7, 2001 as U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom", has now stretched over 9 years and entered into a tenth year on October 7, 2010 - greater than the time the United States was involved in World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined.[132]

In the spring of 2010, the war in Afghanistan also surpassed the length of official U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, 8 years and 5 months, to become the longest-running U.S. war ever.[133][134][135][136][137][138]

According to a study by the RAND Corporation, an American think tank working for the U.S. military, counter-insurgency campaigns won by governments have averaged 14 years.[139]

In a July 2009 interview, when asked when German troops would withdraw from Afghanistan, former German Defence Minister Peter Struck replied: "I'm afraid it could take another 10 years."[140]

In December 2009, a week after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a surge of another thirty thousand U.S. military troops into Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, stated that the Afghan government being supported would not be able to secure the country on its own "for another 15 to 20 years", suggesting a U.S.-led military presence until at least 2024, if not 2030.[141][142][143][144]

At the end of December 2009, following a visit to Afghanistan as part of an eight-member congressional delegation, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins warned that U.S. military assessments describe a "generational commitment" requiring at least two decades and that might not work, and he stated that President Obama needed to be more forthright with the American people about the length of time involved and the prospects.[145]

A January 2009 U.S. Defense Department report assessing progress in Afghanistan concluded that building a fully competent and independent Afghan government would be a lengthy process that would last, "at a minimum, decades."[146]

The head of the British Army and former ISAF commander, General Sir David Richards, stated on August 8, 2009 that he believed Britain could still be militarily involved in Afghanistan in "30 to 40 years" time, raising the possibility of a military presence in Afghanistan until the year 2050.[147]

Asked how long U.S. combat forces would be needed in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates replied it was "unpredictable" and "perhaps a few years". However, over the longer term, Gates said that even if security were achieved, progress in building Afghanistan's economy and government institutions would remain "a decades-long enterprise", and that the United States was "committed to that side of the equation for an indefinite period of time."[148]

American defense analyst John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org envisions a near-endless scenario in Afghanistan: "It's not going to end. And it may get worse before it gets better ... it's going to last for decades."[149]

Comparison to the length of the Soviet war in Afghanistan

After 7 years and 7 months of war in Afghanistan, Mikhail Gorbachev announced on July 20, 1987 the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, saying that the Soviet Union wanted to henceforth see an independent, sovereign Afghanistan with a non-aligned government. The complete withdrawal of Soviet troops took place over roughly one year and a half, ending on February 15, 1989, with the Soviet war in Afghanistan having lasted approximately 9 years and 2 months in its entirety.[150][151]

By December 2010, the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which officially began October 7, 2001, will have lasted longer than the entire Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.[59][151]

Decades of war imposed on Afghans

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former CIA director, stated in his 1996 memoirs "From the Shadows" that American intelligence services began to covertly aid opposing Islamic militant factions in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was the U.S. National Security Adviser in 1979, likewise stated:[152]

The deliberate covert U.S. intervention to destabilize Afghanistan and use Islamic militants, extremists, and the people of Afghanistan as tools in a proxy war for U.S. geo-political purposes resulted in three decades of nearly continuous war and armed conflict in Afghanistan. Brzezinski continued:[152]

According to journalist Ahmed Rashid, between 1980 and 1992 the U.S. funnelled "four to five billion dollars" to fund Islamic militants in Afghanistan, mostly in the form of "lethal modern weaponry". In an August 10, 2000 interview, he stated: "The U.S. was the main provider of arms to the mujahideen in the 1980s ... The whole issue of terrorism and the presence of foreign mercenaries in Afghanistan is a result of American and Pakistani encouragement of radical Muslims in the 1980s to come to Afghanistan from all over the world and fight a jihad."[153]

In the decades of brutal war and conflict that followed, by 2000:

  • Afghanistan lost a third of its population.[154]
  • Some 1.5 million Afghans were killed as a direct result of the conflict.[154]
  • 5 million Afghans fled as refugees to Iran and Pakistan, and others became exiles elsewhere.[154]
  • A large part of the Afghan population was internally displaced.[154]
  • An estimated 50% of Afghan villages were destroyed.[155]
  • The country was contaminated with as many as 10 million land mines and countless unexploded ordnance (shells, rockets, bombs, bullets).[156][157]

In June 2009, in his Cairo speech addressing the Muslim world entitled "A New Beginning", U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged "a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations."[158]

July 2009 marked three decades since the signing of the U.S. presidential directive that National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski had fully expected would "induce a Soviet military intervention." In August 2009, the head of the British Army and former ISAF commander, General Sir David Richards, stated that he believed Britain could still be militarily involved in Afghanistan for another 3 or 4 decades.[147]

Comparisons to the Soviet war in Afghanistan

In November 1986, with 109,000 troops in Afghanistan and the war soon heading into an 8th year, the military counter-insurgency was not working. Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, commander of Soviet armed forces, was summoned to report on the situation to the USSR’s politburo in the Kremlin. His strong assessment was that the army needed more resources, and he warned that without more men and equipment "this war will continue for a very long time". By the peak of the Soviet deployment in 1987, Moscow had 140,000 troops in Afghanistan.[151][159]

In September 2009, with 108,000 to 110,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan under U.S. command and the war soon heading into a 9th year, the military counter-insurgency was not working. A 66-page report by U.S. general Stanley McChrystal to the White House administration on the situation in Afghanistan, leaked in advance of an anticipated troop request, gave his strong assessment that more troops and resources were needed. McChrystal warned: "Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it. Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure." After officially receiving McChrystal's request for more troops, U.S. president Barack Obama would announce that some 30,000 more U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan over the course of the following year.[47][160][161][162][163][164][165][166][167][168][169]

McChrystal, the U.S. general, at the same time called for a new strategy of pulling troops from sparsely populated rural areas to concentrate on defending higher population urban areas.[170][171] Tom Coghlan of The Times observed: "Students of Afghan history may note that this strategic conclusion was one previously reached by the Soviets, who also switched to a strategy of ceding remote areas and only defending population centres and the country's main arteries in 1986."[172]

On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan was announced, and within a little over a year and a half the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was completed.[159]

Comparisons to the Vietnam War

The war in Afghanistan, now entering into a tenth year, has also been increasingly compared to the Vietnam War, and increasingly characterized as a quagmire.[173][174][175][176][46]

In the spring of 2010, the war in Afghanistan surpassed the length of official U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, 8 years and 5 months, as the longest-running U.S. war ever.[133][134][135][136]

According to retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, a Vietnam veteran who became chief of staff to Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, the parallels between the two conflicts are strong, especially in terms of corrupt governments in Saigon then and Kabul now: "I see the same thing developing in Kabul. I see a corrupt leader. I see a leader who has as a vice president one of the most corrupt men, Fahim, in Afghanistan, probably."

In September 2009, an article by the New York Time's Frank Rich noted a new aspect in the strong parallels between the wars, the eerie similarity between the political maneuvers in 2009 and a half-century before, when John F. Kennedy was weighing whether to send combat troops to Vietnam. "Military leaders lobbied for their new mission by planting leaks in the press." The Secretaries of Defense (Robert McNamara) and State, as well as the Joint Chief of Staff and the president's special military adviser all supported sending combat troops, while Kennedy himself had reservations.[175][177]

Dr. Jeffrey Record of the U.S. Air War College noted that Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, much like Barack Obama in 2009, also faced a pivotal decision on whether to commit more troops to the war in Vietnam or find a way to ramp it down. Johnson, concerned with having to use up political capital defending a de-escalation, made the fateful decision to escalate - the choice would come back to haunt him badly.[175]

Growing U.S. opposition to the war in Afghanistan

In March 2009, a bipartisan group of 14 members of the United States House of Representatives - Walter Jones, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Neil Abercrombie, Roscoe Bartlett, Steve Kagen, Ed Whitfield, Lynn Woolsey, Bob Filner, Jim McGovern, Howard Coble, John Conyers, Marcy Kaptur, John Duncan, and Michael Michaud - signed a letter to President Obama urging him to reconsider his decision to send 17,000 more U.S. troops, and to "resist pressure to escalate further".[178][179][180]

Their letter to Obama argued that the military escalation could be counterproductive to creating stability in Afghanistan and could harm U.S. security, noting that a recent Carnegie Endowment study had concluded that "The only meaningful way to halt the insurgency's momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban."[178]

In September and October 2009, with U.S. military leaders requesting yet more troops - and polls showing the majority of American people opposed to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and to sending any more troops, more members of the United States House of Representatives and other leaders began to speak for and manifest their constituents' opposition.[22][23][51][181]

On September 10, 2009, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi stated: ""I don't think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in the Congress.".[182]

Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated: "There's a significant number of people in the country, and I don't know the exact percentages, that have questions about deepening our military involvement in Afghanistan."'[182]

Senator Russell D. Feingold, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged discussion of a timeline for ending American involvement in Afghanistan.[182]

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated: "I do not believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity," adding that she wanted the U.S. military mission to "be time-limited".[183]

Senator Richard Durbin, assistant majority leader in the Senate, said: "Sending additional troops would not be the right thing to do."[183]

In September 2009, Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a veteran and protestor of the Vietnam War, warned of repeating the mistakes of Vietnam and said that the United States needed to have an exit strategy.[184][185][186][187]

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star Army general, expressed skepticism that more troops would guarantee success.[184]

On October 4, 2009, Representative Barbara Lee with 21 other members of the United States House of Representatives introduced a bill, H.R. 3699, to prohibit any funding to increase the U.S. military buildup in Afghanistan beyond its current level.[188]

On October 8, 2009, key Democrats on Capitol Hill warned that a decision by President Obama to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan could trigger a revolt within his own party, possibly including an attempt to cut off funds for the controversial military buildup.[181]

Representative David R. Obey, chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee stated: "I believe we need to more narrowly focus our efforts and have a much more achievable and targeted policy in that region. Otherwise we run the risk of repeating the mistakes we made in Vietnam and the Russians made in Afghanistan."[181]

Representative John P. Murtha, also on the House Appropriations Committee and an influential voice on military affairs, stated: "The public is worn out by war. The troops, no matter what the military says, are exhausted."[181]

Senator Russell D. Feingold, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that if Obama decides to send more troops, the House of Representatives should contest it.

Senator Feingold, who favors a timetable for withdrawal and opposes McChrystal's troop surge, said in an interview that his constituents were weary of war and were in "almost unanimous agreement" that "we've stayed there a long time and we need to figure out appropriately what we can accomplish."[181]

On October 15, 2009, Senator Robert Byrd, in an emotional speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, suggested that the eight-year old U.S. war in Afghanistan had become lost in some broader scheme of nation-building. Referring to "mission creep" in Afghanistan, he said:[189]

On October 27, 2009, the Washington Post reported that a U.S. official in Afghanistan had resigned in protest over the U.S. war, in a move that sent ripples all the way to the White House. Matthew Hoh, a State Department Foreign Service officer serving as the Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province submitted his resignation on September 10, with a letter outlining the reasons for which he felt he had to resign over the war, writing, "I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures or resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war."[58][60]

On November 4, 2009, U.S. Congress Rep. Eric Massa spoke before the U.S. House of Congress to say enough is enough in Afghanistan. He stated: "Today is the 2,950th day of this war. It has cost us $300 billion, $3,947 per American family. Enough is enough. It is time to bring our troops home. ... the deployment of additional troops in Afghanistan and the continuation of this conflict is both not in the interest of our Nation, and, in fact, is on par with a potential error the size of our initial invasion in Iraq."[190]

In November 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt.-Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the retired army general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2005-2007, warned President Obama against committing tens of thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan. His dramatic intervention into the debate on a troop surge reportedly infruriated U.S. General McChrystal, the commander of all foreign military forces in Afghanistan who had been requesting another 40,000 troops.[191]

In April 2010, Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern, Republican Congressman Walter Jones, and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation demanding an exit strategy and a timetable for withdrawal of the American military forces and military contractors in Afghanistan. While noting Obama's promise to begin bringing some troops back in July 2010, Rep. McGovern said: "It's not only important to know when the first soldier is to be redeployed or brought home, it's important to know when the last soldier is as well."[27][192]

On July 1, 2010, the majority 60% of Democrat representatives in the House voted in favor of the legislation to require a timetable and plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. In all, 153 Democrats and 9 Republicans voted for the amendment. 93 Democrats and 7 Republicans also voted for an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee that would have required the war funds to be spent only on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Nearly all Republicans opposed the amendments however, and neither passed.[193][194]

Concerns that the war could derail Obama's presidency

Many that have hopes in President Obama's presidency but oppose the war in Afghanistan are concerned that the war could derail plans for his presidency the way the Vietnam War ruined the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.[55][175][195][196][197][198][199][200][201][202]

Troop reductions and removals

  • On November 5, 2007, South Korea's Defense Ministry announced that its 210-troop military deployment would be recalled despite the fact that Washington had asked Seoul to extend their deployment, which was scheduled to expire at the end of the year. South Korea's 150 military engineers and 60 military medics were to leave Afghanistan on December 14, 2007. The recall followed South Korea's promise to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2007 to secure the August 2007 release of 23 South Korean missionaries that had been kidnapped because of their country's involvement in the U.S.-led military efforts. The South Korean military deployment had been in Afghanistan approximately 5 years and 9 months starting in February 2002.[203][204]
  • In November 2007, Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid announced the planned withdrawal of the last of its military deployment to Afghanistan that had started in 2003.[205]
  • On December 19, 2007, the Netherlands announced that it would begin to remove Dutch troops from Afghanistan in 2010, with Dutch troops leaving Afghanistan from July 2010. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen stated, "I am certain that Dutch troops will leave in 2010." He also made clear, "I indicated that in writing ... to the NATO secretary general, who has confirmed it."[206]
  • In February 2008, Switzerland's last soldiers still in Afghanistan had returned home and its military deployment to Afghanistan since 2003 was officially concluded. The Swiss military contingent had been in Afghanistan approximately 4 years and 8 months starting in June 2003.[205]
  • On September 10, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged that Canada will withdraw the bulk of its military forces in Afghanistan in 2011, saying that a decade of war is enough and, "You have to put an end date on these things." He acknowledged that neither the Canadian public nor the troops themselves had any appetite to stay longer in the war and said that only a small group of advisers might remain.[207]
  • On September 6, 2009, The Independent reported that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had put the United States on notice that he planned to cut the number of British troops in Afghanistan by at least half within "three to five years, maximum". The partial troop withdrawal would bring British troop numbers in Afghanistan from over 9,000 to fewer than 5,000. On September 4, 2009, Brown had confirmed in a keynote speech that he was considering a short-term increase in British troops in Afghanistan as a prelude to a British exit.[208]
  • On September 14, 2009, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reaffirmed that Canada would withdraw its troops in 2011 even if President Barack Obama asked him for an extension. A spokesperson for Harper said "Canada's position is clear - The military component of the mission ends in 2011." Harper had first announced Canada's troop removal in 2008, stating that Canada had done its part after being in Afghanistan since after the 2001 U.S. invasion, and in Kandahar, one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces, since 2006.[209]
  • On September 16, 2009, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama signalled through key cabinet choices that he would keep his election pledge to withdraw Japan's military support from the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Hatoyama appointed as his Defence Minister 71-year old Toshimi Kitazawa, a strong opponent of the country’s military support for the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and included in his cabinet Mizuho Fukushima, leader of his coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is committed to upholding Japan’s "peace" constitution and its explicit ban on the use of force in resolving international disputes. The appointments suggest that Japanese military ships providing fuel and water to U.S. and British naval vessels in the Indian Ocean will be called home when the current term of their deployment expires in February.[210]
  • On September 17, 2009, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said it would be best for foreign troops to leave Afghanistan soon. He also announced that he planned to bring home at least 500 of Italy's 2,800 troops deployed in Afghanistan "in the next few weeks". Italy had increased its troop level by 500 before Afghanistan's August 20 national election. A key coalition partner in Berlusconi's government, Reforms Minister Umberto Bossi said he hoped Italy's 2,800 troops could leave Afghanistan within 3 months by Christmas. Berlusconi's announcement followed the deaths of six Italian soldiers in a suicide bombing in Kabul the day before, which had brought to 20 the number of Italian troops that have been killed since Italy's troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2004.[211][212]
  • On September 22, 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted he was focused on cutting back on the number of British troops in Afghanistan as soon as Afghan security forces were able to carry out their own security duties. The Times had reported that Britain was considering deploying a further 1,000 troops to its contingent of 9,000 troops in Afghanistan in response to the report from the American commander of all foreign military forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal. Brown had previously stated in a keynote speech that he was considering a short-term increase in British troops in Afghanistan as a prelude to a British exit. The British toll since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 stood at 217 deaths.[208][213]
  • On October 6, 2009, the Dutch parliament voted by a large majority to pull Dutch troops out of Afghanistan in August 2010 as scheduled and bring them home. The motion to respect the scheduled withdrawal date was drawn up by two of the three parties in the coalition government, and was voted for by a large majority of Dutch MPs, despite pressure by the United States again for a second extension of the Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan.[214][215]
  • On October 14, 2009, Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said that Japan will end its Indian Ocean naval refuelling mission that supports the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan. Kitazawa said: "We will calmly withdraw (our ships) when the law expires next January". While in opposition, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's party argued that Japan, officially pacifist since World War II, should not abet "American wars".[216][217]
  • On January 6, 2010, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made clear that virtually all Canadian soldiers will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011, stating: "We will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy." He emphasized again, "The bottom line is that the military mission will end in 2011."[218][219]
  • In February 2010, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Wouter Bos, promised to bring Dutch troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year, as scheduled. The Dutch public, as well as the Dutch Parliament, favor the withdrawal of their military from Afghanistan. The Netherlands is also facing a forecasted 2010 budget deficit of 6.1% of GDP.[220] Bos reiterated to Dutch voters the pledge he had already made to them in 2007, saying at a party meeting:
  • On February 21, 2010, the Dutch coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende collapsed when Balkenende, under entreaties from the United States, tried to extend the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan yet again, despite the government having previously promised Dutch voters that troops would be brought home in August 2010. As in many parts of Europe, the war in Afghanistan has been increasingly unpopular with voters in the Netherlands. The fall of the Balkenende government over the issue made it all but guaranteed that Dutch troops will be gone from Afghanistan by the end of the year. A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Defense stated: "The military mission will stop the 1st of August. They have time until the end of the year to pick up their gear and their stuff and bring it back to the Netherlands."[214][215][221]
  • On June 21, 2010, Poland's acting president and speaker of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, stated: "2011 should be the year for winding down Poland's engagement and 2012 should be the year we pull out." The front-runner in Poland's presidential race, he stated: "If I win these elections, I wish to start curbing our engagement and then to pull out (the troops) during my presidency." Grzegorz Napieralski, the third-place candidate being courted by both leading candidates in the tight race, reiterated his party's demand for an Afghan pullout "as soon as possible." Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose ruling party is backing Komorowski's presidential bid, had also said in June that Poland would press the U.S. and NATO coalition to draw up plans to end the mission as soon as possible.[222]
  • On June 24, 2010, Poland urged its NATO allies to draft plans to leave Afghanistan and announced that Polish troops would be brought home by 2012 regardless of what other countries decided. Following a National Security Countil meeting devoted to Afghanistan, Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski told a news conference that he had asked the government to work out a national strategy for pulling out of the war, with 2012 as the absolute deadline. A senior Polish security official said that NATO was heading towards a "strategic catastrophe" in Afghanistan. Stanislaw Koziej, head of Poland's National Security Bureau stated: "NATO is strategically exhausted by Afghanistan ... We must seek a way out of this situation."[223]
  • On August 1, 2010, the Netherlands officially ended its military involvement of 1,950 troops in Afghanistan. The withdrawal came with the collapse of the Dutch government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende earlier in the year when Balkenende, under entreaties from the United States, tried to extend the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan yet again despite opposition from the public. During the Netherland's four-year involvement in the war, 24 Dutch troops were killed and 140 were wounded. The Dutch pullout is being followed by other withdrawals of foreign military forces from Afghanistan. Canada is withdrawing its entire military force of 2,800 troops next year in 2011, Poland in 2012, and the United Kingdom in 2014 or 2015.[214][215][224][225]
  • On November 20, 2010, NATO members signed a deal to begin reducing troops in Afghanistan in 2011 and hand over security control to Afghan forces by 2014, if conditions were favourable. However, American officials described the date as "an aspirational timeline" and NATO officials said "This isn't a calendar-based process." The United Kingdom, however, made clear to its NATO allies that after 2014 they would not be involved in combat operations:[226][227]
  • On November 20, 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to withdraw all British combat troops from Afghanistan after the end of 2014, saying "This is a firm deadline which we will meet." Defence Secretary Liam Fox also underlined the Prime Minister's commitment that Britain's combat role in Afghanistan would be over by 2015.[227][228]

See also

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References

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  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 A flawed strategy and a failed war in Afghanistan
  28. Conn Halliman. "4 Deadly Delusions About Afghanistan Held by Obama's Top Advisors". Alternet. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.alternet.org%2Fworld%2F142596%2F4_deadly_delusions_about_afghanistan_held_by_obama%5C%27s_top_advisors%2F%3Fpage%3Dentire+&date=2010-02-17.
  29. Anand Gopal (2008-12-08). "Who Are the Taliban? The Afghan War Deciphered". Alternet. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.alternet.org%2Fworld%2F110447%3Fpage%3Dentire&date=2010-02-17.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 US may shift Afghan war tactics: report
  31. Many in Afghanistan oppose Obama's troop buildup plans
  32. Rethinking the Afghanistan Mission
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Karzai Asks U.S.-Led Coalition To Change Strategy Against Terrorism
  34. 34.0 34.1 Afghanistan: Chaos Central
  35. Afghan leader sends demands to U.S. on troop conduct
  36. Karzai wants U.S. to reduce military operations in Afghanistan
  37. Afghans Want a Deal on Foreign Troops
  38. Poll shows most Britons oppose war in Afghanistan
  39. 39.0 39.1 The Al Qaeda Clubhouse: Members lacking
  40. Al Qaeda and Affiliates - Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy (Congressional Research Service, February 5, 2010)
  41. 41.0 41.1 CIA: At most, 50-100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan
  42. Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda
  43. U.S. kicks hornet's nest in Yemen
  44. Old threat rings true today
  45. Only pressure to withdraw can stop this blood price
  46. 46.0 46.1 The Afghan War Moves South
  47. 47.0 47.1 Time to Get Out of Afghanistan
  48. U.S., Allies Vow Support for Karzai
  49. Gates Doubts U.S.'s Afghan Strategy
  50. Obama in New Round of Meetings on Afghanistan
  51. 51.0 51.1 Advisers split complicates Obama's Afghan decision
  52. Will Obama abandon Afghanistan?
  53. 53.0 53.1 West should vote with its feet
  54. Afghanistan: Why Obama is rethinking 'war of necessity'
  55. 55.0 55.1 55.2 55.3 An Open Letter to President Obama
  56. Obama to Reassess Afghanistan War
  57. Obama Faces Familiar Divisions Over Anti-Terror Policies
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 A letter from Afghanistan that every American must read
  59. 59.0 59.1 Matthew Hoh September 10, 2009 letter of resignation
  60. 60.0 60.1 60.2 U.S. official resigns over Afghan war
  61. Matthew Hoh: new poster boy for critics of Afghanistan war
  62. 62.0 62.1 The Afghanistan Abyss
  63. Former CIA Operatives Agree: American Occupation of Afghanistan Threatens US Security
  64. The Afghanistan Study Group Challenges U.S. Strategy, with Flawed but Useful Report
  65. 65.0 65.1 Afghan jails are base for al-Qaida and Taliban, says US commander
  66. 66.0 66.1 Foiling U.S. Plan, Prison Expands in Afghanistan
  67. 67.0 67.1 U.S. Planning Big New Prison in Afghanistan
  68. 68.0 68.1 Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
  69. No Place Like Home
  70. Pul-e-Charkhi Jail inmates face awful life
  71. New Afghan Cabinet Picks Still Generate Resistance
  72. Hamid Karzai: President of Afghanistan By Philip Wolny, p.82
  73. Into the valley of death: UK troops head into Afghan war zone
  74. Special report: Afghanistan - The dead zone
  75. 75.0 75.1 75.2 UNAMA - Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan (2001-2007)
  76. The Afghan-Pakistan War: The Rising Intensity of Conflict: 2001-2007
  77. UNAMA - Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2008
  78. Afghanistan’s New Security Threat
  79. 79.0 79.1 Al Qaeda Regaining Former Strength?
  80. Upsurge in Afghan suicide attacks
  81. 81.0 81.1 The Afghan-Pakistan War: The Rising Intensity of Conflict: 2007-2008
  82. Afghan roadside bombs hit record in 2008
  83. Improvised explosive devices: A growing menace in Afghanistan
  84. Afghan Insurgents Expand Their Use of Increasingly Sophisticated Homemade Bombs
  85. Taliban makes IEDs deadlier
  86. Taliban make 'undetectable' bombs out of wood
  87. 87.0 87.1 87.2 87.3 87.4 America's Pipe Dream
  88. Leaflets Falling in Afghanistan Hide the Facts
  89. 89.0 89.1 89.2 89.3 89.4 The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War
  90. What good friends left behind
  91. 91.0 91.1 U.S. Ties to Saudi Elite May Be Hurting War on Terrorism
  92. 92.0 92.1 Ex-Spook Sirrs: Early Osama Call Got Her Ejected
  93. Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline
  94. Afghan Pipeline Deal Close
  95. U.S. Department of State biography for Zalmay M. Khalilzad
  96. NATO Parliamentary Assembly - Mediterranean Dialogue Seminar, Istanbul 27-28 November, 1997
  97. Business and Security: Public–Private Sector Relationships in a New Security Environment
  98. Nomination of John J. Maresca To Be Special Cyprus Coordinator
  99. Nomination of John J. Maresca for the Rank of Ambassador
  100. February 12, 1998 Hearing on U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics
  101. United States Geological Survey (USGS) - The Mineral Industries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2000
  102. US 'planned attack on Taleban'
  103. 103.0 103.1 103.2 103.3 Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team
  104. Al-Qaida monitored U.S. negotiations with Taliban over oil pipeline
  105. 105.0 105.1 Professor says America seeks Afghanistan Oil Deal
  106. 106.0 106.1 For Afghan Clan, a Full Circle Back to Power
  107. 107.0 107.1 107.2 Mr. Karzai goes to Washington
  108. Le Monde, December 5, 2001, Portrait Pachtoune, le nouveau président afghan est un proche des Américains.
  109. Le Monde, December 6, 2001, Hamid Karzaï, une large connaissance du monde occidental
  110. Le nouvel homme fort de l'Afghanistan connaît bien le monde occidental
  111. El Mundo, February 18, 2002, A U.S. oil company behind the appointments of Karzai and Khalilzad
  112. BBC Mundo, December 27, 2002, Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline
  113. These wars are about oil, not democracy
  114. Chicago Tribune - Pipeline Politics Taint US War
  115. Bush appoints Afghan envoy
  116. Musharraf, Karzai Agree To Consider Gas Pipeline
  117. Afghan pipeline given go-ahead
  118. These wars are about oil, not democracy
  119. 119.0 119.1 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (PDF). Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007. http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/AFG07_ExSum_web.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
  120. 120.0 120.1 120.2 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (PDF). Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008. http://unama.unmissions.org/LinkClick.aspx?link=UN+4+U%2FAfghanistan_Opium_Survey_2008.pdf&tabid=1788&mid=2055. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
  121. Men With Guns, in Kabul and Washington
  122. Caught in a swirl of deceit
  123. America has been here before
  124. Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 163 (Wednesday, November 4, 2009)
  125. 125.0 125.1 125.2 Economic scene: Afghanistan will cost US more than Iraq
  126. Barack Obama ready to pay Afghan fighters to ditch the Taliban
  127. Faster troop withdrawal may save $1 trillion
  128. Afghanistan Surge to Cost $40 Billion, Democrat Says
  129. Cost of Afghan War Explodes With New Strategy
  130. 130.0 130.1 Afghan war costs now outpace Iraq's
  131. Revealed: £12bn hidden costs of Afghan war
  132. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Let Us Not Become the Evil We Deplore
  133. 133.0 133.1 U.S. involved in Iraq war longer than it was in World War II (Associated Press tally of lengths of U.S. participation in major wars)
  134. 134.0 134.1 US "Surge" in Afghanistan in Disarray
  135. 135.0 135.1 From critic of one ‘shameful’ war to booster of another
  136. 136.0 136.1 The news is bad
  137. The Afghan mission: McChrystal axed
  138. Quagmire? Nine years on, Americans grow weary of war in Afghanistan
  139. Obama’s Afghan war - a race against time
  140. Two Views on Afghanistan Mission - 'The War Is a Breeding Program for Terrorists'
  141. What If The People Of Afghanistan Could Choose?
  142. A Game That’s Not So Great
  143. Afghanistan pro-con: It will become a quagmire
  144. Afghan Says Army Will Need Help Until 2024
  145. 20-year commitment needed in Afghanistan, Higgins says
  146. Civilian Goals Largely Unmet in Afghanistan
  147. 147.0 147.1 Army Chief: We'll be in Afghanistan until 2050
  148. Gates: No Troop Request In Afghanistan Review
  149. Risk of death soars for Canada's troops
  150. Official chronology of the withdrawal from Afghanistan
  151. 151.0 151.1 151.2 West ignores lessons of Soviet humiliation in Afghanistan
  152. 152.0 152.1 The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan
  153. Ahmed Rashid interview August 10, 2000
  154. 154.0 154.1 154.2 154.3 Fueling Afghanistan's War
  155. UN About Afghanistan
  156. Afghanistan Landmine Update News
  157. Afghanistan: Landmine Fact Sheet
  158. Remarks by the President on A New Beginning at Cairo University, Egypt
  159. 159.0 159.1 Pressure grows in Afghanistan for Hamid Karzai to strike a deal
  160. Top US general calls for new strategy in Afghanistan
  161. Afghan mission risks 'failure' without more troops, says US general
  162. A D.C. whodunit: Who leaked and why?
  163. Sources: McChrystal Wants Up to 40,000 More Troops in Afghanistan
  164. Commander to send troop request for Afghanistan
  165. Joint Chiefs Chairman Receives Afghanistan Troop Request, Aides Say
  166. Troop request on table as Obama weighs Afghan mission >
  167. Analysis: Obama Borrows Soviet's Afghan Endgame>
  168. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named The Runaway General
  169. U.S. puppet cuts his strings
  170. Afghanistan Troop Request to Offer Options for Obama
  171. Attacks on Remote Posts Highlight Afghan Risks
  172. American strategy of winning trust of Afghan people is high risk
  173. Afghan War Draws Comparisons to Vietnam
  174. Will Afghanistan Be Worse Than Vietnam? 7 Tough Questions to Ask Obama Before He Sinks Us Into a New Quagmire
  175. 175.0 175.1 175.2 175.3 Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam?
  176. Can America win in Afghanistan?
  177. Obama at the Precipice
  178. 178.0 178.1 Can Congress Save Obama from Afghan Quagmire?
  179. March 16, 2009 letter to President Barack Obama
  180. 14 representatives urge President Obama to reconsider troop escalation in Afghanistan
  181. 181.0 181.1 181.2 181.3 181.4 Obama could face party revolt on Afghanistan
  182. 182.0 182.1 182.2 Democrats in Congress Wary of Afghanistan Escalation
  183. 183.0 183.1 Obama struggles to gather support for Afghan surge
  184. 184.0 184.1 Plan to Boost Afghan Forces Splits Obama Advisers
  185. Top US senator pleads for patience on Afghanistan
  186. Kerry points to Vietnam lessons on Afghanistan
  187. Testing Afghanistan Assumptions
  188. Congresswoman Lee Introduces Legislation Prohibiting Funding for Military Escalation in Afghanistan
  189. US Lawmakers Question Afghanistan Strategy
  190. Enough is Enough in Afghanistan
  191. US ambassador warns against Afghanistan troop surge
  192. Demand an Afghanistan Exit Strategy
  193. On Afghanistan, Michael Steele Speaks for Me
  194. In war-funding vote, Democrats cast doubts on Obama's Afghan policy
  195. A Voice Worth Heeding on Afghanistan
  196. Afghanistan - the proxy war
  197. Afghanistan war threatens to make us ‘the evil we deplore’
  198. Reassessing Obama's 'war of necessity'
  199. Afghanistan: NATO's Graveyard? Is the Transatlantic Alliance Doomed?
  200. Obama at the Precipice: Tough Guys Don't Need to Dance in Afghanistan
  201. What are US Goals in Afghanistan?
  202. Eighth year of Afghan War should be the last
  203. South Korean troops leaving Afghanistan
  204. Washington asks Seoul for money for Afghanistan
  205. 205.0 205.1 Switzerland ends military mission in Afghanistan
  206. Netherlands confirms 2010 Afghanistan pullout
  207. Harper says 2011 'end date' for Afghanistan mission
  208. 208.0 208.1 British troop numbers to be cut in Afghanistan
  209. Canadian PM says he won't extend Afghan mission
  210. Japan ready to withdraw support for Afghanistan war
  211. Berlusconi: Best to exit Afghanistan soon
  212. Berlusconi Says Italy to Withdraw 500 Afghanistan Troops Soon
  213. UK's Brown seeks fewer UK troops in Afghanistan
  214. 214.0 214.1 214.2 Parliament votes against new Afghan mission
  215. 215.0 215.1 215.2 Dutch Government Falls Over Stance on Troops
  216. Japan to end Afghan refuelling mission
  217. Japan to end Afghan refuelling mission in January
  218. Afghanistan will be 'strictly civilian mission' after 2011, PM says
  219. Afghan Pullout Final: PM
  220. Dutch Parliament Debates Afghanistan
  221. Dutch political crisis over war
  222. Afghan war moves centre-stage in Polish election
  223. Poland sets 2012 Afghanistan pull-out deadline
  224. Dutch troops end Afghanistan deployment
  225. Dutch troops leave Afghanistan
  226. Leading article: Our Afghan exit is now overdue
  227. 227.0 227.1 Nato Leaders Sign Deal On Afghan Security
  228. Cameron pledges to pull our troops out of Afghanistan by 2015

External links

  • Rethink Afghanistan, a ground-breaking documentary focusing on key issues surrounding the war, available for free online.
Part 1: Troops  · Part 2: Pakistan  · Part 3: Cost of the War  · Part 4: Civilian Casualties  · Part 5: Women  · Part 6: Security

Template:Afghanistan War

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