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1,400 more U.S. marines headed into Afghan war
Workers’ pensions on the chopping block
Most in U.S. now lack retirement fund
Food price jumps protested in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco
Fighters value the ‘Militant’ for reporting union struggles
‘Post-recession’ joblessness longest, deepest since WWII
Washington intends to be ‘intrusive’ in Pakistan
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 75/No. 3      January 24, 2011


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(lead article)
1,400 more U.S. marines
headed into Afghan war
Gunnery Sgt. William Price
U.S. Marines patrol in Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, December 30.

Washington is sending 1,400 to 3,000 more marines to Afghanistan in an effort to preempt an expected offensive by Taliban forces in early spring, as the Barack Obama administration further distances itself from the goal of withdrawing troops beginning in 2011.

In an editorial welcoming the decision, the Wall Street Journal noted wryly that the administration’s annual review of the war said its “strategy in Afghanistan is setting the conditions to begin the responsible reduction of U.S. forces in 2011.” Adding another 1,400 troops now is an “interesting” definition of “reduction,” the Journal commented.

U.S. vice president Joseph Biden visited Afghanistan January 10-11. “We’ve largely arrested the Taliban momentum here in some very important areas,” he told a press conference in Kabul, speaking alongside Afghan president Hamid Karzai. “But these gains—as you pointed out to me, Mr. President—we know are fragile and reversible.”

Biden went on to say that the U.S. government would keep its troops in Afghanistan past 2014 “if the Afghan people want it.”

Most of the new levy of marines are headed for Sangin, Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold. The British government withdrew its troops from that area last September after 100 of them were killed over four years. U.S. troops replaced them.

The Afghan government confirmed January 3 that one of the main tribes in Sangin, the Alikozai, agreed to a cease-fire. It will affect about 30 villages in exchange for foreign aid money. One of the tribal leaders who concluded the pact was subsequently attacked by Taliban forces and is in critical condition.

There are about 97,000 U.S. troops and 45,000 from other countries fighting in Afghanistan. More than 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed in 2010, up 20 percent from 2009. More than 700 foreign soldiers died, far more than the previous year’s total of 521.

British Maj. Gen. Phillip Jones reported that one year since Karzai launched a project to grant amnesty to Taliban fighters who agree to stop fighting, only 800 have come forward out of an estimated 30,000. “Most aren’t hard core Taliban,” said Jones, but “low-level community defense forces.” They are not from the parts of the country where the military conflict is most intense but from areas that are relatively peaceful.

Just 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have set up reintegration committees. In the province of Baghlan 12 amnestied fighters were assassinated by the Taliban three weeks into their demobilization.
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