By Barry Grey
5 February 2009
President Barack Obama is set to formally authorize the dispatch of 10,000 to 12,000 additional US combat troops to Afghanistan, the beginning stage of a military “surge” that will likely add 30,000 more soldiers and Marines over the next 12 to 18 months, doubling the US occupation force to 60,000. Obama’s announcement of the initial compliment of three combat brigades, to begin deploying in April, could come this week.
The first stage of the escalation is bound up with a strategic overhaul of US policy in the region that will initiate a vast expansion of military violence and increase the focus on exterminating the popular resistance to the neocolonial occupation of Afghanistan, both in Afghanistan and the neighboring regions of Pakistan.
Some sense of what is to come can be seen in the proposal made last month by NATO’s senior military commander, Gen. John Craddock of the United States, that NATO troops shoot alleged drug traffickers without waiting for proof of any involvement with the Taliban or other insurgent forces. In a country whose main crop is opium, upon which large sections of the impoverished population depend for survival, this would amount to a license to kill Afghan civilians at will. The proposal was made in a confidential letter to Gen. Egon Ramms, a German officer who heads the NATO command center responsible for Afghanistan, and came under heavy criticism from German political circles. It was eventually scuttled by McKiernan and others, according to an exposé published last month by the online edition of Der Spiegel magazine.