The Fog Of War
Back in December Vice President Mike Pence went to Afghanistan and announced "real progress" is being made. A few months earlier Trump told everyone "great progress is being made.”
Standing next to Trump was Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani praised U.S. efforts and said there has been “an immense change on the ground.”
“Victory — political and military-wise — is within our sight,” Ghani said.
“It's a difference of day and night,” he added. “The cloud of uncertainty has been lifted."
Right. About that fog of uncertainty...
In February the Department of Defense Inspector General released a report saying that “no significant progress” had been made in 2017.
However, it was hard to verify because the Department of Defense ordered the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) not to publish certain data. A few days ago they reversed that decision.
The basic thrust of the new data is that Afghan government control of the country is at its lowest reported level since December 2015, while insurgency control is at its highest.
So progress was indeed made. For the Taleban.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a very good question for the Pentagon yesterday that a lot of other people would appreciate hearing the answer.
“You have set up 20 bases in northern Syria? What are you there for? You are bringing in 5,000 truckloads of weapons, 2,000 cargo planes full of arms? Against whom?” Erdogan said of the US support for Kurds fighting the Islamic State (IS)—and now bracing a Turkish army attack—in Syria.
“Now that you have cleared [IS], why are those weapons still there? Are you bringing them [to be used against] us?”
I'd like to know the answers as well. Damascus has made it clear where they stand on the issue.
It's tricky because Turkey has been killing Syrian government troops and our Kurdish allies.
So who do we intend to fight in Syria?
If you listen to the news media, we are hardly in Syria at all.
In the Guardian (2/10/18), Simon Tisdall described the US and its Western partners as “hovering passively on the sidelines in Syria,” and “restricting themselves to counterterrorism operations and vain calls for peace.” ABC’s Conor Finnegan (2/26/18) expressed concern that “the US will remain on the sidelines” in the country.
However, America currently controls 28 percent of Syria (Foreign Policy, 1/25/18), precisely the opposite of being “on the sidelines,” and has recently declared its intent to continue occupying the country indefinitely (New York Times, 2/22/18). As Joshua Landis (Syria Comment, 1/15/18), director of the Center for Middle East Studies, notes, the US controls “half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates dam at Tabqa, as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land.”
Our news media leaves us with the impression that we are doing some sort of humanitarian mission in Syria, like a Pentagon version of the Peace Corps.
You would never know that we are both occupying, and laying waste to Syria.
More than seven times as many civilians have been killed by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria than official numbers suggest, according to recent data from a leading monitor.
From the start of the intervention in August 2014 until mid-February this year, the coalition has killed between at least 6,137 and 9,444 civilians, according to Airwars, a UK-based monitoring group of experienced investigative journalists and researchers.
Hundreds of those were children, its figures show.
The numbers are in stark contrast to Operation Inherent Resolve’s own data, with its latest report, released on Friday, confirming at least 841 “unintentional” civilian deaths over the course of the campaign.