Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald is a producer, director, political activist, and Brave New Films founder and president.

February 28th, 2012 2:22 PM

Sorry's Not Good Enough in Afghanistan. Here's Why.

This article was co-authored by Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

As violence continues following the burning of Korans by ISAF in Afghanistan, insiders in Washington, D.C. and in the media are wasting quite a bit of breath asking the rhetorical question, "Why aren't the apologies working?" Military commanders in Afghanistan apologized profusely, President Obama exposed himself to the demagoguery of Republican primary opponents with his own apology. Why does the violence continue?

For the professionally clueless (and by this I mean the people in the insider press and the consensus peddlers in D.C.), let's make this simple:

1. The specific offense is a deeply serious affront to highly conservative Afghan sensibilities. Can you imagine what would happen at Pastor John Hagee's church the day after an Islamic military force stationed in San Antonio set a stack of Christian Bibles on fire?

2. More importantly, the Koran burnings ignited a highly volatile mix of hostility created over years of constant offenses inherent in a long-term occupation and the specifics of U.S. military policies in Afghanistan. As anyone who's ever been in any kind of relationship will tell you, saying sorry when you do wrong is necessary, but when your partner knows the bad behaviors will continue, sorry doesn't cut it.

The military forces in Afghanistan is well aware of the factors generating such intense anti-American hostility. Here's an excerpt from a declassified U.S. Army report from 2011 (.pdf) focusing just on the anti-Americanism rampant in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) we're paying to train:

ANSF members identified numerous social, cultural and operational grievances they have with US. Soldiers. Factors that created animosity were reviewed through a content analysis that measured frequency and intensity of the perceived grievances. Factors that fueled the most animosity included US. convoys not allowing traffic to pass, reportedly indiscriminant [sic] return U.S. fire that causes civilian casualties, naively using flawed intelligence sources, US. Forces conducting night raids/home searches, violating female privacy during searches, US. road blocks, publicly searching/disarming ANSF members as an SOP when they enter bases, and past massacres of civilians by U.S. Forces (i.e., the Wedding Party Massacre, the Shinwar Massacre, etc.). Other issues that led to altercations or near~altercations (including many self-reported near¬ fratricide incidents) included urinating in public, their cursing at, insulting and being rude and vulgar to ANSF members, and unnecessarily shooting animals. They found many U.S. Soldiers to be extremely arrogant, bullying, unwilling to listen to their advice, and were often seen as lacking concern for civilian and ANSF safety during combat. CAT 1 interpreters' (n=30)views were similar to the ANSF's.

For the record, the feeling is mutual:

U.S. Soldiers' (n=215) views of ANSF, particularly of the ANA, were also collected; they were extremely negative. They reported pervasive illicit drug use, massive thievery, personal instability, dishonesty, no integrity, incompetence, unsafe weapons handling, corrupt officers, no real NCO corps, covert alliances/informal treaties with insurgents, high AWOL rates, bad morale, laziness, repulsive hygiene and the torture of dogs. Perceptions of civilians were also negative stemming from their insurgent sympathies and cruelty towards women and children.

So here we have a war that's lasted longer than a decade, peddled to the public and the politicians as primarily a war for "hearts and minds" in which our "local partners" would be built up and handed a country as we declare victory. Only, it turns out that after all this time, all these lives, and all this money, not only have we not won over the Afghan street, we've not even won over the hearts and minds of the people we're giving guns and paychecks. Sorry--"not won over" is an amazing understatement. Not only have we not won over the ANSF, but a great many of them are killing U.S. military officers. In many cases, they're killing the officers training them. The Army's report goes on to disclose, emphasis ours:

Of note, during the last six month period (November, 2010 through April, 2011) Westerners stationed within Afghanistan's N2KL region (Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar and Laghman provinces) who regularly interact and/or train with ANSFs have been over 150 times more likely to be murdered by an ANSF member than a U.S. police officer is to be murdered in the line of duty by all perpetrators (see Appendix B, pg. 59 for calculation); this excludes the additional risks associated with regular combat for these coalition personnel. Further, such ANSF fratricide-murders represent 30% of all U.S. field grade officer hostile deaths in Afghanistan (7 of 23), 25% of all hostile U.S. female military deaths (4 of 16) and over 50% of all hostile U.S.A.F. officer deaths (7 of 13).

...However, the common refrain from many ISAF political and military officials has been that such murder incidents between ANSF and ISAF are ''isolated'' and "extremely rare." Such proclamations seem disingenuous, if not profoundly intellectually dishonest.

As we at Brave New Foundation have been saying for years through our Rethink Afghanistan project, the Afghanistan War isn't making us safer and it's not worth the cost. In fact, the military-first policy in Afghanistan is so extraordinarily broken that it leads to U.S. military officers sitting in the middle of heavily guarded Afghan ministries being killed execution style before their killers apparently just walk out the door unmolested by their colleagues working in largely U.S.-funded government jobs.

Any politician standing in the way of a highly accelerated withdrawal--the blindingly obvious right move--deserves a taxpayer funded paycheck about as much as Hamid Karzai or a security guard at the Afghan interior ministry. For God's sake, get out and bring our troops, our money and our attention home.

Join Brave New Foundation's War Costs campaign to help get our troops and our dollars home.

Follow Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe on Twitter.

Creative Commons License This content is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles