Stories from major newspapers this week have examined this moment of crisis for American foreign policy in the Middle East. Afghanistan is expected to receive more American troops, while a run-off is being held due to election fraud. The President’s brother works for the CIA, Al Qaida is attacking civilians in Pakistan and the 2010 military budget provides for more classified programs than nearly ever before.
The American press has widely blamed the election fraud that occurred during Hamid Karzai’s reelection as President of Afghanistan on Karzai himself. Karzai, during a live video interview with Diane Sawyer, claims the Afghan election commission is unduly influenced by foreign governments (the US and Pakistan).
The New York Times recently uncovered that Karzai’s brother is a CIA operative who recruits and trains an Afghan militia operating mostly in Kandahar. This discovery is but the latest chapter of the CIA’s involvement in Afghanistan, where during the Cold War it quietly routed arms through Pakistan on their way to Afghan anti-communist fighters with an agenda of their own.
How tragic then that as Secretary Clinton arrives in Pakistan, Al Qaida is assumed responsible for killing over 90 civilians in Peshawar, a city near the Afghan border where violent fundamentalists are suspected to traffic soldiers and arms.
In Washington today, Obama signed the 2010 military budget providing the Department of Defense, headed by the former CIA Chief Robert Gates, with $680 billion (the same amount as the economic stimulus package). The bill is a $162 billion dollar increase from last year’s military budget; classified programs have reached their second highest funding level ever.
In proof that the military-industrial complex is still chugging along, Gates wants to reduce contractors to 26% of paid Pentagon staff; currently contractors represent 34% of the Pentagon’s salaried employees. Financial news organizations like Market Watch have followed the stock prices of US weapons developers since the budget’s signing.