When Barack Obama was running for president he was presented as the anti-war candidate. But in its first days in office, the new administration announced its intention to vastly expand the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Already, brigades that were scheduled for Iraq are being redeployed to Afghanistan. In recent months the United States has also carried out 30 bombing attacks inside of Pakistan, leading to a surge of resentment and anger from the people.
More foreign troops and more air attacks are not exactly going to win the hearts and minds of the people in either country.
While touring Europe this past summer, Obama called for committing an additional two or three combat brigades to the occupation of Afghanistan to supplement the 34,000 already stationed there. But the Afghani resistance has widened and General David McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General David Petraeus, commander of the regional Central Command, which includes forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, have called for doubling the current troop level. Some soldiers may be redeployed from Iraq, and tours are already being extended for many already stationed in Afghanistan.
Obama has pledged to keep nearly 140,000 U.S. troops, and continue to employ more than 200,000 contractors (mercenaries) in Iraq through all of this year and most of 2010. The drawdown of U.S. personnel will leave at least 50,000 troops in Iraq until at least 2012 and perhaps beyond. In order to keep such a large force in Iraq and double the U.S. forces in Afghanistan the new administration is planning to add 100,000 more troops to the overall military force. This is something both McCain and Obama advocated during the presidential election campaign.
Obama has clearly stated that he views Afghanistan as the correct battlefield in Washington’s “war on terror.” This shift in military priorities will mean an increase in both Afghani and U.S. casualties. In recent months, the number of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan has been greater than in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Afghani people live in grinding poverty that keeps over 75 percent of the population surviving on less than $2 a day. The lack of roads in Afghanistan, as well as pressures to minimize U.S. casualties, has led the occupation to expand its reliance on airstrikes. These airstrikes killed 900 civilians in 2008, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
The war and occupation of Afghanistan is part of the U.S. strategy for domination of Central Asia and the Middle East. The anti-war movement here at home has to oppose this occupation with the same determination that it has applied to ending the war in Iraq.