It has now been over a year since the US ground invasion of what was at the time being touted as the “major city” of Marjah. At the time officials were touting it as the biggest offensive yet in the war and a test for a new “clear and hold” strategy.
The number of troops was so overwhelming that NATO was keen to predict a rout, and troops were supposed to be replaced by Karzai-appointed rulers within a matter of days. Even though it turned out Marjah wasn’t even a real city, the offensive was still presumed to be a short one.
Yet here we are, some 370 days into a US Marines occupation, officials are trying to spin the replacement of some of the poppy crops with wheat and cotton crops as “big gains,” and lauding a “huge injection of aid.”
But the real story is, of course, that some 2,000 Marines are still occupying this tiny farming village and that there is absolutely no end in sight. Clear and hold has failed, and the continued possession of a village of a few hundred people is dependent on thousands of heavily armed occupation forces.
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