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Brian Cloughley

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Always Planning Never Winning: While US Wins Some Battles, Insurgents Win the Wars

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General John F Campbell, commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan 2014-2016, said in a speech in Kabul on December 28, 2014 that "The insurgents are losing, they’re desperate." But they weren’t and they aren’t.

On August 21 President Trump outlined his plan for continuation of the 16-year US-NATO war in Afghanistan, in which there is supposedly a new strategy. Strangely, his speech included the announcement that "Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win," which tends to beg the question — don’t armies always fight to win? If not, we might wonder what all the US-NATO-"Coalition" soldiers died for, over these blood-soaked years in which United States taxpayers have had to pay over a trillion dollars for the cost of fighting an unwinnable war.

The other foreign countries involved in the war have not had to pay anything like that amount. The cost to Britain, for example, before it reduced its forces to a small training team in 2015, was 27 billion pounds — 35 billion dollars. And only 453 soldiers killed. Peanuts, so far as the politicians are concerned. And there are very few people in the UK who know or care about Britain’s disastrous Fourth Afghan War.
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Get Out of Afghanistan and Go Home

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In Afghanistan on 24 July, a Taliban suicide bomber killed forty people in the centre of Kabul, just four days after a US airstrike killed 16 Afghan policemen in Helmand Province. Both incidents of slaughter were terrible and highlighted the US State Department official warning that “Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to the ongoing risk of kidnapping, hostage taking, military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, militant attacks, direct and indirect fire, suicide bombings, and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices. Attacks may also target official Afghan and US government convoys and compounds, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, non-governmental organization offices, restaurants, hotels, airports, and educational centres.” Is there anything left that isn’t under threat of destruction?

This is official recognition by Washington that Afghanistan is a catastrophe. It could not be made plainer that the place is a hellhole of unlimited shattering violence. It is also terminally corrupt, and if the grief-stricken families of the dead policemen ever receive the compensation or pension due to them it will be a miracle. Out of 176 countries, Transparency International places it at 169 in its corruption index.

Two days after the US-NATO slaughter of Afghan policemen it was announced that Médecins sans Frontières, or Doctors without Borders — known as MSF — had “reopened a small medical clinic in the Afghan city of Kunduz — its first facility there since US air strikes destroyed a hospital it ran in 2015.”

MSF is a saintly organisation whose doctors, nurses and support staff “provide assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict.” They do so “irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions," but on 22 October 2015 the MSF hospital in Kunduz was destroyed by a series of US airstrikes.
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NATO is Building Up for War

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The German city of Frankfurt is continental Europe’s largest financial center and host to the country’s Stock Exchange, countless other financial institutions, and the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) which is responsible for administering the monetary policy of the 18-nation Eurozone. The place is awash with money, as demonstrated by the plush new ECB office building which is costing a fortune.

The original price of the bank’s enormous palace was supposed to be 500 million euros, about 550 million dollars, but the bill has now been admitted as €1.3 billion (£930 m; $1.4 bn). This absurdly over-expensive fiasco was directed by the people who are supposed to steer the financial courses of 18 nations and their half billion unfortunate citizens. If the ECB displays similar skill sets in looking after Europe’s money as it has in controlling the cost of constructing its huge twin-tower headquarters, then Europe is in for a rocky time.

Intriguingly, the Bank isn’t alone in contributing to Europe’s bureaucratic building boom. There is another Europe-based organization of equal ambition, pomposity and incompetence which is building a majestically expensive and luxurious headquarters with a mammoth cost overrun about which it is keeping very quiet indeed.
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