America's Longest War

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The US's longest war is set for yet another escalation with the deployment of more forces to Afghanistan. Trump's war strategy has been described as a big win for the military industrial complex.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: There seems to be no quick end in sight to America’s longest war ever. The Afghanistan war, which began in 2001, has seen several U-S administrations come and go. None had a clear exit strategy. And that trend apparently continues under U-S President Donald Trump. The Afghan conflict began as part of former U-S president George W Bush’s so called war on terror following the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to eliminate militancy. But U-S military experts are still looking for a way to prevent the Taliban from taking over the whole country.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump portrayed himself as a candidate independent from the establishment. He claimed repeatedly that no lobby group was able to buy him because he was a successful billionaire. Trump had vocally riled against America’s militarism, and supported withdrawing all American forces from Afghanistan.

SOUNDBITE [English] Donald Trump, US President: “Money should be spent in our country, we should rebuild our country, and we should also by the way reduce our sixteen trillion dollars in debt. Let’s get with it. Get out of Afghanistan. We have wasted billions and billions of dollars. And more importantly, thousands and thousands of lives”

Narration: After a long delay since his inauguration, Trump finally detailed his vision for Afghanistan. Trump abandoned deadlines for troop withdrawal and instead gave the green light to deploying more forces to Afghanistan.

Trump’s new strategy has been described by anti-war activists and moderate voices as a clear victory for the military-industrial complex. The term refers to the massive weapons-manufacturing industry and its powerful lobbyists whose survival depends on starting new U.S. wars or prolonging the ones that are raging on. For the military-industrial complex peace means stagnant market and war equals booming business. The multi-billion dollar industry has its roots deep inside American politics and is believed to hugely manipulate U.S foreign policy. U-S war mongering policies around the world mean deaths and destruction in target nations but at the same time lucrative business for those affiliated with the arms industry. Some observers even believe that the script of Trump’s speech could have been written by the generals themselves. Ron Paul, veteran politician and U-S foreign policy critic says Trump’s U-Turn shows the deep state and military lobbyists in the United States have once again beaten more moderate voices.

SOUNDBITE [English] Ron Paul, U.S. Senator: “My first reaction to the political ramifications of this is deep state won. And that they are very very powerful to be able to do this. Because Trump, at the beginning of his speech says you know this is what I believe in and you know this is what I had hoped for. But I had to change my mind when reality set in. The reality might be and you might comment on it. The reality is that I can’t be president very ling. These people are tough. And you got to know how to make a deal.”

Narration: During his keynote speech on the war in Afghanistan, Trump had tough words for neighboring Pakistan. The U-S president blamed part of the violence and militancy on Pakistani leaders. He accused Islamabad of harboring militants in border areas. The remarks triggered reactions from Pakistani leaders and plunged ties between Washington and Islamabad into chaos. The government in Islamabad believes the White House is scapegoating Pakistan to cover the consequences of its disastrous policies in the region.

Almost sixteen years after the United States invaded Afghanistan and toppled the rule of the Taliban, the militant group remains resilient. It has not been defeated and now seems more undefeatable than ever. The militant group has in recent months made major gains and now controls or contests large parts of the country. To make things even worse, the insecurity has given rise to other extremist groups like Daesh which are trying to gain a foothold.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_09:22

Narration: The Afghan government remains deeply dependent on foreign forces to fend off further militant advances. Afghan government figures indicate the Taliban contest or control 35 percent of all Afghanistan. Even this is an alarming increase compared with last year. But some military sources put the figure at sixty percent. The militants are making a rapid comeback. They are building on anti-American sentiments nationwide to recruit and expand. Such sentiments are boiling among Afghans due to the heavy civilian casualties of the war. And now Trump’s decision to deploy thousands of more forces into Afghanistan and his go ahead to more airstrikes will probably make things worse.

SOUNDBITE [English] Ron Paul, U.S. Senator: “But what they don’t understand is when they use our military and our effort to try to force them to live a certain way, that breeds terrorists and that’s where the problem comes from. So if you have these problem and you send in more troops, you perpetuate it, you are more likely to have terrorists.”

Narration: Meanwhile, the Taliban have reacted defiantly to news of Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy. The group said in a statement that “If America doesn't withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century,".

Official figures show the United States has spent more than seven hundred billion dollars on its military campaign in Afghanistan. That’s nearly four billion a month. Most U-S wars in history were partly motivated by economic interests. But what about impoverished Afghanistan? What has it got? Afghanistan is rich in minerals including copper, gold and uranium. It’s minerals are estimated at three trillion dollars and that could be much tempting for business minded Trump. Furthermore, the United States sees itself in constant rivalry with Afghanistan’s neighbor China which has a leading role in exploring and developing Afghan natural resources. Such rivalry could somehow explain why the United States is perhaps not willing to leave the Afghan soil.

Opium cultivation and production in Afghanistan is a multibillion dollar operation. The production has surged drastically over the past decade. The United Nations warns that opium production in Afghanistan has jumped 25 times since the U-S-led invasion, reaching 48-hundred tons in 2016. Some 90 percent of all the heroin in the world comes from Afghan opium. There have been allegations that America’s Central Intelligence Agency is running a global network of drug trafficking out of Afghanistan.

The United States has intensified its use of air raids against militant targets in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says it’s the most effective way to go after militants. But civilians have on numerous occasions fallen victim to such airstrikes. Just recently over two dozen civilians lost their lives in two separate airstrikes near Herat, and in Logar, east of the capital, Kabul. A large number of civilians are also killed in Taliban bombings and gun attacks every year. 2017 could become the deadliest year on record for civilians since the US-led invasion of 2001.

The war has meanwhile wreaked havoc on Afghanistan’s infrastructure and turned it into a failed state that can’t run its own affairs without foreign aid. The coming months are crucial for those monitoring the course of America’s longest war. It’s widely believed that the military surge ordered by U-S President Donald Trump will cause a severe backlash. And Afghan civilians can do nothing but hope that the war will one day come to an end and allow the people to start rebuilding their country. 

   

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