Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gen. Petraeus Spins the Afghan War Mess

Barbara Koeppel,, Sept 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, Gen. David Petraeus pulled off a flawless remake of Gen. William Westmoreland’s 1967 performance in which the Vietnam War commander detected “light at the end of the tunnel” – just months before the Viet Cong launched its Tet offensive, proving the resistance was very much alive and well. This time, the geography is Afghanistan. But Gen. Petraeus’s upbeat claims on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and elsewhere — that U.S. and NATO troops have ousted some Taliban from conflicted areas, helped reform the corrupt Afghan government, and trained Afghan security forces to fight on their own — are equally phony, according to a former senior U.S. government official.

In an interview, Matthew Hoh, an ex-Marine commander in Iraq who took a high-ranking State Department job in Afghanistan before resigning a year ago because he “couldn’t stand the BS of it anymore,” disputed each Petraeus claim.

First, rather than the U.S. having ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan’s south and east, quite the opposite is true, Hoh said.

“Villagers still turn to their Afghan brothers to rid their towns of carpetbaggers,” Hoh said. “These include not only U.S. or NATO forces, but also the Afghan government that … is staggeringly corrupt and its troops are mainly from different ethnic groups or regions.”

These areas of Afghanistan are so anti-outsider that U.S. congressional and other delegations can’t venture there.

According to Hoh, nothing has improved, even though “the number of NATO troops soared from under 30,000 in 2005 to the current 150,000, and we’ve spent about $350 billion for the military and $50 billion for reconstruction programs, which include training and equipping Afghan forces.”

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