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Monday, February 6, 2012

Is the SOA Coming to Afghanistan?

I read the description in yesterday's New York Times of how the U.S. is planning to escalate withdrawal of regular combat troops from Afghanistan, and rely on Special Forces (Green Berets) to guide the work of local troops and police.

I don't know how this strikes other people, but it seems to me like the School of the Americas (SOA) model transferred to Afghanistan. The SOA model is to use U.S. money and ideas to enable power holders in another country to persecute and kill ideological enemies, while denying that the U.S. is engaging in violence in that country, much less exposing U.S. combat troops to violence in that country, and making every effort to disavow the consequences of U.S. guidance of the violence (and crimes) being carried out in that country.

As the New York Times explains, "Created by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, the Green Berets have as one of their core missions what is called 'foreign internal defense' — using combat, mentoring, language and cross-cultural skills to train local forces in rugged environments, as they are today in missions conducted quietly in dozens of nations around the world."

In other words, "It's just 'training'!"

I've written elsewhere about how the use of unmanned drones is part of a morally dangerous trend toward making war injury-free for Americans while making it more deadly than ever for people everywhere else. The type of "outsourcing" of fighting -- of the type long carried out through the SOA and now being talked about for Afghanistan, under the guise of "foreign internal defense" -- is also wrong and must be stopped.

When NATO meets in Chicago in May, a major issue on the table will be involvement in Afghanistan. It seems to me that now is our moment to say that taking the SOA model to Afghanistan is unacceptable.

I'd like to hear what other people have to say about this.

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The Afghan SOA is just a part of the larger problem: the urgent need to DEMILITARIZE Afghanistan!

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Photo Credit: COIN Central Website ("U.S. Green Berets training Pakistani Frontier corpsmen")