Saturday, March 13, 2010

Marjah: The Non-Existent City the Military Said We Conquered in Afghanistan

What's this? The government is lying and exposing us to propaganda?!

*stands back in amazement*

No way.

    Alternet -

    Marjah isn't even a town, but rather one of the clearest and most dramatic examples of a war of perception as outlined in the US's counter-insurgency doctrine.

    For weeks, the United States public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan war against what it was told was a "city of 80,000 people" as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marjah was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centers in Helmand.

    It turns out, however, that the picture of Marjah presented by military officials and reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as an historic turning point in the conflict.

    Marjah is not a city or even a real town, but a few clusters of farmers' homes amid a large agricultural area that covers much of the southern Helmand River Valley.

    "It's not urban at all," an official of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), who asked not to be identified, admitted to Inter Press Service (IPS) on Sunday. He called Marjah a "rural community".

    "It's a collection of village farms, with typical family compounds," said the official, adding that the homes were reasonably prosperous by Afghan standards.

Read it all.