U.S. soldiers board a U.S. military aircraft in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP/Musadeq Sadeq)
WASHINGTON — Despite campaign promises to bring an end to U.S. wars in the Middle East, there’s still no end in sight to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as Barack Obama enters the final days of his presidency.
As one Army unit rotates out of Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon is sending 300 Marines to replace them.
“The Marine Corps will send a new task force of military advisers to southern Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province this spring, returning to a region where tens of thousands of Marines fought during the Obama administration and hundreds were killed,” the Post’s Dan Lamothe reported on Friday.
The unit will join 8,400 U.S. troops already stationed in Afghanistan. Despite being classified as an advisory mission, military officials admit that the Marines could be involved in combat.
“We’re viewing this as a high-risk mission that really requires training that is going to ensure that our Marines are capable of countering a full-spectrum threat,” mission leader Brig. Gen. Roger B. Turner Jr. told Lamothe.
Despite the ongoing U.S. war on the Taliban which began shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the insurgent group remains powerful in Afghanistan.
“Helmand is the main source of poppies for Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade, which is worth an estimated $4 billion a year, much of which funds the insurgency,” The Associated Press reported on Sunday.
While the United States has spent over $7.6 billion to eradicate opium poppies in Afghanistan, production actually surged after the start of the U.S.-led war. Rumors persist that the CIA is involved in smuggling the narcotic drug, which is the main ingredient in heroin, into the West. Numerous photos released by the U.S. military depict forces openly patrolling poppy fields, leading journalists like Abby Martin to question U.S. motives in the region.
Watch “How Opium Greed Is Keeping US Troops in Afghanistan”:
“This is the first time in three years that the US military has been sent into that conflict zone, and it represents a final failure of Obama’s Afghanistan policy,” Dr. Ron Paul noted in a column published by the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity on Sunday.
The former congressman, three-time presidential candidate, and long-time opponent of foreign wars and U.S. empire-building, continued:
“The outgoing president promised that by the end of his second term, the US military would only be present in small numbers and only on embassy duty. … The interventionists in Washington continue to run our foreign policy regardless of who is elected. They push for wars, they push for regime change, then they push for billions to reconstruct the bombed-out countries.”
Daniel DePetris, a fellow at Defense Priorities and a Middle East and foreign policy analyst at Wikistrat, Inc., agreed with Dr. Paul’s assessment of the president’s legacy in the Middle East.
“On the Obama administration’s watch, the war on terrorism has expanded to new frontiers and new countries, with very little evidence that those campaigns will enhance American security or end anytime soon,” DePetris wrote in an op-ed published on Monday by Townhall.
Under Obama, the United States has dropped bombs in seven countries, and U.S. troops can be found in virtually every corner of the globe.
Watch “Mnar Muhawesh: US War In Afghanistan Is Fueling Global Heroin Epidemic & Enabling Drug Trade” from MintPress News’ “Behind the Headline”:
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