Sunday, January 13, 2013

Xenophon's March

After 9/11 then-President GW Bush's security advisers targeted Afghanistan for revenge. The Northern Alliance was armed by CIA secret shipments to fight the Taliban and B-52s pounded al-Qaaspringda bases through the war-torn nation. NATO troops backed the new government with the USA providing the majority of combatants. An easy victory was never in the cards. Eleven years of drone strikes, night raids, IEDs, torture prisons, friendly fire casualties, massacres, beheadings, outrages against women and children the American public has come to the conclusion that the Afghan war is unwinnable. This week President Barack Obama with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at his side announced at the White House that US troops will be out of the land-locked country by the end of 2014 and that the US will hand over control of villages and the large detention center at Bagram to the Afghanis. In other words two more years. Our present troop strength is 66,000 soldiers and airmen serving as support for the Afghani army bereft of artillery and airplanes. NATO has another 33,000 on the ground. The president also said that combat operations for our military will cease in the Spring, then added in contrast to the steady diet of 'light at the end of the tunnel' comments from the Pentagon. "Did we achieve our central goal, and have we been able to shape a strong relationship with a responsible Afghan government that is willing to cooperate with us to make sure that it is not a launching pad for future attacks against the United States? We have achieved that goal. We are in the process of achieving that goal." Eleven years in process constitute a failure in my eyes, but 2014 will not end our presence in Afghanistan according to the Pentagon, which wants to maintain at least 10,000 troops as rapid-response and training units depending on whether US soldiers are granted immunity for their actions. Denial of this demand led to the complete withdrawal from Iraq. We can only be so lucky in Afghanistan or else the 10,000 troops left behind might find themselves in the same situation as Xenophon's 10,000 Greek mercenaries stranded in Persia in 401BC by the defeat and death of their employer, Cyrus the Younger. Cut off from supplies and access to the sea the Ten Thousand under Xenophon fought through the their enemies as a democratic army, the Persians and Medes to the Black Sea, where the surviving 6000 soldiers were met by a Greek fleet for transport back to this native land as recorded by Xenophon in his history ANABASIS. The British Army's Retreat from Kabul in 1842 ended with worse results. Only one soldier out of 15000 reached the relief column. Russia luckily extracted its army from the 'Bear Trap' in February 1989 by bribing Afghan rebels to not combat the withdrawal. And now the Pentagon wants to leave 10,000 troops in the middle of nowhere. Fucking brilliant. In as one. Out as one. Now. Not 2014.

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