FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Engelhardt writes: "Americans, according to the latest polls, are turning against the conflict in ever greater numbers, yet it's remarkable how little they know about what's actually going on there in their name."

Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. (photo: Reuters)
Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. (photo: Reuters)



Resupplying an Endless War

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

20 April 12

 

halk it up to the genuine strangeness of our second Afghan War.  Americans, according to the latest polls, are turning against the conflict in ever greater numbers, yet it's remarkable how little - beyond a few obvious, sensational events - they know about what's actually going on there in their name.A supply route map of the Afghan War from 2008.

Take as an example the cost of the war and a startling development of the last four-plus months that has driven it significantly higher.  Keep in mind that the Afghan War is being fought by a fuel-guzzling U.S. military in a landlocked, impoverished South Asian country with almost no resources of any sort.  Just about everything it needs or wants - from fuel, ammunition, and weaponry to hamburgers and pizzas - has to be shipped in by tortuous routes over thousands of exceedingly expensive miles.

Up until last November, more than 30% of the basic supplies for the war came by ship to the Pakistani port of Karachi and were offloaded onto trucks to begin the long journey to and across the Pakistani border into Afghanistan.  Late last November, however, angry Pakistani officials slammed that country's border crossings shut on American and NATO war supplies.  Those crossings have yet to reopen and whether they will any time soon, despite optimistic U.S. press reports, remains to be seen.

The result has undoubtedly been a resupply disaster for the American military, but you would never know it from the startling lack of coverage in the mainstream media here.  All supplies now have to be flown in at staggering cost or shipped, also at great expense, via the Northern Distribution Network from the Baltic or the Caspian seas through some portion of the old Soviet Union.

In an America where financing is increasingly unavailable to fire departments, police departments, schools, and the like, is it really of no significance what money we pour into our wars?  Is no one curious about what the Pakistani decision has meant to the American taxpayer?

Soon after this happened, there were brief reports indicating that the costs of shipping some items had gone up by a factor of six, depending on the route chosen.  Back in 2009, it was estimated that a gallon of fuel cost $400 or more by the time it reached the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and that was by the cheaper Pakistani route.  How much is it now?  $600, $800, $2,400?

We don't know, largely because coverage of the Afghan war has been so patchy and evidently no reporter bothered to check for months.  Only in the last week have we gotten a Pentagon estimate: a rise in shipping costs of about 2½ times the Pakistani price.  (And even such estimates are buried in wire service stories on other topics.)  In other words, for months no reporter considered the border-closing story important enough to make it a feature piece or to follow it seriously.

In an America where financing is increasingly unavailable to fire departments, police departments, schools, and the like, is it really of no significance what money we pour into our wars?  Is no one curious about what the Pakistani decision has meant to the American taxpayer?

Think about that as you read "Taking Uncle Sam for a Ride," the latest piece by South Asia expert Dilip Hiro, the author of the just-published book Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia.  Is it really in this country's interest to get held up by our "friends" repeatedly to continue to fight a disastrous war in a country in which we're now negotiating to keep military trainers, special operations forces, and possibly others a decade beyond 2014 (another subject barely covered by our media)?  Do you really want to be going through a version of this with Pakistan 10 years from now?  Is your greatest desire to be supplying American military personnel with gas and hamburgers at earth-shaking prices in the second decade of a no-longer-new century?

 

Comments   

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We'll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn't work we'll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

 
+3 # panhead49 2012-04-21 07:23
Nice article but not really new 'news' to those of us with skin in the game. Years ago I would have been stunned by the lack of comments, now it is just SSDD.

The draft is still on the books - start using it NOW and we won't be in Flustercluckist an until 2014. OBL dead - mission accomplished. Can I have my kids back now? I'll pay the freight on them, even at 2.5 times the rate.
 
 
+4 # Glen 2012-04-21 08:44
No, panhead, no draft. How many would then be maimed or dead before citizens are roused enough to protest. I continue to maintain that if the draft is brought back it will never be rescinded.
 
 
+3 # panhead49 2012-04-21 12:24
Quoting Glen:
No, panhead, no draft. How many would then be maimed or dead before citizens are roused enough to protest. I continue to maintain that if the draft is brought back it will never be rescinded.


Glen darlin' - you just made my point even better than I could. I doubt ANYONE would be maimed or dead - the minute the notices got sent out (or we did the birthdate hat draw again) phones would be ringing off the wall in the 202 area code. And just where would we be bringing the draft back from? It's still on the books! If you are an 18 year old male you still have to register. Especially if you want any student loans. Failure to register is basis to deny said loan. Mighty fine set up our overlords came up with, yes?
 
 
+2 # AshamedAmerican 2012-04-21 20:34
Yes, it is a mighty fine set up for our overlords. But enslaving citizens to kill and oppress for the benefit of our rulers would not be an improvement. True, phones would be ringing off the wall eventually. But there is no reason to believe that decision-makers in DC care what is best for The People or what they want. They do pretty much whatever they wish. They'd be more likely to perpetrate another 9/11 and create a new fictional reason and public support to be there than bring the troops home anyway. And now they can legally disappear anyone making too much noise. We shouldn't be there at all. It will continue to be wrong and to be a "flustercluck" as long as we have troops there- "volunteer" or otherwise.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2012-04-22 05:11
Panhead, Ashamed answered nicely. You take for granted that there would be immediate responses to the draft. (bringing it back only means using it, little fuzzbucket) We cannot give the government any more power to conduct their attacks on more and more countries. Power, especially over citizens. There are thousands of mercenaries at their service and more and more drones. Supporting the draft would set in cement the militaristic policies in place now.
 
 
+4 # hutlee 2012-04-21 08:48
We claim to be a peace loving nation, nothing could be further from the truth. A people whose whole history has been one of violence and bloodshed can not claim to love peace. We want what we want, when we want it, and we will do whatever it takes to achieve those ends.

That is not what a peace loving people do to prove their sincerity. These drones are just another example of the lie that we perpetuate to the world and to ourselves. We are now positioned like a man riding a tiger - afraid to stay on and afraid to get off.

The Bible plainly states that, "He who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword". And, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sowth, that shall he reap".
 
 
+5 # Archie1954 2012-04-21 08:57
This article's words show what is existentially wrong with America and Americans. "Are turning against the war" says it all. My point is that no one should have been for the war when Bush started it. If he had felt that the people were against it he never would have ventured into the quagmire to begin with. Americans are much too ready, willing and able to start wars on the flimsiest of pretexts (Iraq) and Afghjanistan is one that never should have started. The Taliban, obnoxious as they were did not represent an enemy to America. To say that they harboured Osama bin Laden is foolish in the extreme. After 10 years of war, the US finally found him so why would it ever expect the de facto government of a small part of Afghanistan to be able to 10 years ago? Now of course the US has made the Taliban an enemy to be reckoned with. As long as the American people think making war is a legitimate foreign policy objective, they will continue to suffer the consequences as they are today.
 
 
0 # Glen 2012-04-22 05:16
Archie, thousands of people were against the U.S. attacking Afghanistan, and hundreds of thousands of folks protested the U.S. attacking Iraq - that was world-wide, but George W. and his people totally ignored that, right along with American media. The government simply does not care what U.S. citizens think, much less any folks overseas. Unless, of course, those citizens support their policies.
 
 
+3 # mainescorpio 2012-04-21 11:31
1% of us (the military) are fighting for 99% of us. We have grown impervious to wars because we don't see the effects of it. Budget battles at home are addressed through cut backs in Food Stamps while military budgets grow. Our priorities have become incorporated into the MIC and we are too dumb to know it.
 
 
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-04-22 16:09
I agree to a point, but they aren't really fighting for us. Sorry, but it's true. They want to be fighting for us, be the only people benefiting from these wars for colonial profit are the 1% who started them.
 
 
+1 # jwb110 2012-04-21 14:20
Strangling the Middle East and South Asian countries economically is the only sure win. The US has been trying to buy loyalty from those countries, just like the British before them, for too long.
Bring the boys home and bring the money home.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN