THE London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), is the world’s leading think tank for military affairs. It represents the top echelon of defence experts, retired officers and senior military men, spanning the globe from the United States and Britain to China, Russia and India.Howie P.S.: Eric S. Margolis is a contributing editor to the Toronto Sun chain of newspapers, writing mainly about the Middle East and South Asia.
I’ve been an IISS member for over 20 years. IISS’s reports are always authoritative but usually cautious and diplomatic, sometimes dull. However, two weeks ago the IISS issued an explosive report on Afghanistan that is shaking Washington and its Nato allies.
The report, presided over by the former deputy director of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI-6, says the threat from al-Qaeda and Taliban has been "exaggerated" by the western powers. The US-led mission in Afghanistan has "ballooned" out of all proportion from its original aim of disrupting and defeating al-Qaeda. The US-led war in Afghanistan, says IISS, using uncharacteristically blunt language, is "a long-drawn-out disaster".
Just recently, CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 50 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yet US President Barack Obama has tripled the number of US soldiers there to 120,000 to fight Al Qaeda.
The IISS report goes on to acknowledge the presence of western troops in Afghanistan is actually fuelling national resistance. I saw the same phenomena during the 1980’s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the portion of the report overseen by the former MI-6 Secret Intelligence Service deputy chief, Nigel Inskster, finds little Al Qaeda threat elsewhere, notably in Somalia and Yemen. Yet Washington is beefing up its attacks on both turbulent nations.
Abandoning its usual discretion, IISS said it was issuing these warnings because the deepening war in Afghanistan was threatening the west’s security interests by distracting its leaders from the world financial crisis and Iran, and burning through scarce funds needed elsewhere.
The IISS’s findings are a direct challenge to Obama, Britain’s new prime minister, David Cameron, and other US allies with troops in Afghanistan. This report undermines their rational used to sustain the increasingly unpopular conflict. It will certainly convince sceptics that the real reason for occupation of Afghanistan has to do with oil, excluding China from the region, and keeping watch on nuclear-armed Pakistan. MORE...
Friday, September 17, 2010
Afghanistan: "Bombshell from London"
Eric S. Margolis: