Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

The New York Times

Published: May 1, 2012

Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than seven thousand miles from home, but for over a decade it has been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.

Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries – a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.

Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

And so, ten years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe-havens in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set – to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild – is within reach.

Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

First, we have begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

Second, we are training Afghan Security Forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force.

Third, we are building an enduring partnership. The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: as you stand up, you will not stand alone. It establishes the basis of our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions. It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people. And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans – men and women, boys and girls.

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

Respect candidate takes seat from Labour with 10,140 majority, claiming ‘the most sensational victory in British political history’

Patrick Wintour, political editor | The Guardian | Friday 30 March 2012

 

George Galloway, right, is greeted by a supporter as he arrives to hear the results of the Bradford West byelection. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

George Galloway, the leading figure in Respect, has grabbed a remarkable victory in the Bradford West byelection, claiming that “By the grace of God, we have won the most sensational victory in British political history”.

It appeared that the seat’s Muslim community had decamped from Labour en masse to Galloway’s call for an immediate British troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and a fightback against the job crisis.

On a turnout of 50.78%, Labour’s shellshocked candidate Imran Hussein was crushed by a 36.59% swing from Labour to Respect that saw Galloway take the seat with a majority of 10,140.

More…

Read Full Post »

Cost of war in Afghanistan will be major factor in troop-reduction talks

The Washington Post via: Huff Post

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Published: May 30

Of all the statistics that President Obama’s national security team will consider when it debates the size of forthcoming troop reductions in Afghanistan, the most influential number probably will not be how many insurgents have been killed or the amount of territory wrested from the Taliban, according to aides to those who will participate.

It will be the cost of the war.

The U.S. military is on track to spend $113 billion on its operations in Afghanistan this fiscal year, and it is seeking $107 billion for the next. To many of the president’s civilian advisers, that price is too high, given a wide federal budget gap that will require further cuts to domestic programs and increased deficit spending. Growing doubts about the need for such a broad nation-building mission there in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death have only sharpened that view.

“Where we’re at right now is simply not sustainable,” said one senior administration official, who, like several others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations.

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

Pakistan-US Feud Boils Over CIA Drone Strikes

Saturday 23 April 2011
Via: Truthout –  by: Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

Washington – Even as it publicly demands an end to U.S. drone attacks on militants in its tribal area, Pakistan is allowing the CIA to launch the missile-firing robot aircraft from an airbase in its province of Baluchistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

Up to 25 people reportedly died Friday in the latest drone strike, which took place in North Waziristan, a remote tribal agency from which extremists launch cross-border attacks on U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s contradictory positions on the strikes illustrate how the Pakistani army is trying to use public outrage in Pakistan over what are denounced as violations of national sovereignty to squeeze the U.S. into giving it a greater say in the selection of targets.

The Obama administration, however, is insisting that the Pakistani military accede to a longstanding U.S. demand to move against militant groups that control North Waziristan, which is Osama bin Laden’s suspected refuge, and that they use as a base for attacking Afghanistan.

That message was reiterated by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in talks he held with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani army, in Islamabad on Thursday, said a knowledgeable person who asked not to be further identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Mullen told Kayani that there would be no let-up in drone operations until there are “decisive, verifiable Pak military operations against Haqqani and related groups responsible for actions leading to the deaths of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan,” the knowledgeable person said.

The North Waziristan-based Haqqani network is regarded as the most deadly and capable of the insurgent groups fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

Militarized Conservatism and End(s) of Higher Education

Tuesday 5 April 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

The Pathologies of War

There can be little doubt that America has become a permanent warfare state.(1) Not only is it waging a war in three countries, but its investment in military power is nearly as much as all of the military budgets of every other country in the world combined. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states, “The USA’s military spending accounted for 43 per cent of the world total in 2009, followed by China with 6.6 per cent; France with 4.3 per cent and the UK with 3.8 per cent.”(2) The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans a staggering $1 trillion to date, second only in inflation-adjusted dollars to the $4 trillion price tag for World War II.”(3) Pentagon spending for 2011 will be more than $700 billion. To make matters worse, as Tom Englehardt points out, “We dominate the global arms trade, monopolizing almost 70% of the arms business in 2008, with Italy coming in a vanishingly distant second. We put more money into the funding of war, our armed forces and the weaponry of war than the next 25 countries combined (and that’s without even including Iraq and Afghan war costs).”(4) Moreover, the United States maintains a massive ring of military bases and global presence around the world, occupying “over 560 bases and other sites abroad”(5) and deploying over 300,000 troops abroad, “even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services.”(6) In spite of how much military expenditures drain much-needed funds from social programs, the military budget is rarely debated in Congress or a serious object of discussion among the public. Rather than avoid squandering resources and human lives on foreign wars, we avoid “the realities and costs of war.”(7)

War is now normalized even as the United States becomes more militarized, moving closer to a national security state at home and an imperial/policing power abroad. Military historian Andrew Bacevich is right in arguing, “The misleadingly named Department of Defense serves in fact as a Ministry of Global Policing.”(8) War has become central to American character, but what is often unacknowledged is that its perpetual wars abroad are increasingly matched by a number of wars being waged on the domestic front. Such a disconnect becomes clear in the refusal of politicians, anti-public intellectuals and the general public to acknowledge how the federal deficit has been run up by our military adventures. As Frank Rich argues, “The cultural synergy between the heedless irresponsibility we practiced in Iraq and our economic collapse at home could not be more naked. The housing bubble, inflated by no-money-down mortgage holders on Main Street and high-risk gamblers on Wall Street, was fueled by the same greedy disregard for the laws of fiscal gravity that governed the fight-now-play later war[s]” in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently in Libya.(9) Similarly, as the spirit of a hyper-militarized America bleeds into everyday life, politics increasingly becomes an extension of war, and right-wing, liberal and conservative politicians eagerly embrace a militaristic approach to policy and the need to cleanse the social order of any institution, mode of dissent, social group and public sphere willing to question its state of permanent war and its militarized and unchecked embrace of economic Darwinism. These foreign and domestic wars are not unrelated, given that they are waged in the interests of right-wing militarists, neoconservatives, liberals and corporate moguls – all of whom have a political and economic stake in such military incursions abroad and wars at home. Wars make the economic elite even richer just as they undermine civil liberties, public services and public dissent. A hyper-militarized America has not only fueled violations of executive power, it has also promoted armed conflicts that are directly related to an economic crisis that has produced a wave of political extremism in the United States, while furthering the rise of a punishing state that places the burdens of the current economic crisis on the backs of the poor. We seem to have no trouble in spending money for the production of organized violence designed to kill people, but we have little money to spend on education, health care, or other serious social problems facing the United States. As one educational journal pointed out:

This juxtaposition of robust war spending and inadequate support for education highlights the moral bankruptcy of political and economic leaders who seem to find endless piles of money to kill people abroad but not much to educate them at home. And, of course, the relationship is plain: The more dollars spent on war, the fewer available for human needs – whether alternative energy, food stamps, in-home elder care, public libraries or keeping teachers in their classrooms.(10)

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

Deadly protests flare up in Kandahar after Koran burning

The Globe and Mail- Susan Sachs

Kabul— Globe and Mail Update
Published Saturday, Apr. 02, 2011 8:31AM EDT
Last updated Saturday, Apr. 02, 2011 10:52AM EDT

New and deadly protests over the burning of a Koran flared up on Saturday in the city of Kandahar, a day after riots in northern Afghanistan left seven United Nations employees and four Afghans dead.

Nine people were killed and at least 90 injured in Kandahar as mobs roamed the city smashing shop windows, burning cars and vandalizing a girls’ high school, according to local officials.

The protests were fuelled by anger that an obscure Florida pastor made a show of destroying a Koran last month. But their violence in Kandahar and, a day earlier, in the normally peaceful city of Mazar-i-Sharif demonstrated how quickly any large gathering in Afghanistan can bring anti-Western sentiment boiling to the surface.

A spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor blamed Taliban insurgents and sympathizers for infiltrating the protest, which began with a march of about 100 stick-wielding men and boys and ballooned to a mob of several thousand over the course of the morning.

Afghan police and American soldiers fought back a crowd that tried to storm a complex of government buildings in Kandahar, a stronghold of the insurgency that has seen a string of assassinations of local officials and suicide bombings in the past two months.

Many of the people injured were beaten and stoned by the protesters when they refused to join in the rampage, according to witnesses and hospital officials.

MORE HERE

Read Full Post »

Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock and Army Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes

Paper Publishes Photos Of U.S. Soldiers Posing With Dead Afghan Civilian

TPMuckraker

Eric Lach | March 21, 2011, 11:46AM

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published two photographs of U.S. Army soldiers posing with the corpse of an Afghan civilian, The Washington Post reports. The photographs are included in the print issue of Der Spiegel being distributed today, but advance copies of the images were sent to subscribers in an email over the weekend.

The Washington Post reports that the photographs depict a moment shortly after the civilian was killed in an incident the Army has classified as a murder.

The photos are among several hundred the Army has sought to keep under wraps as it prosecutes five members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, for the alleged murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians last year. The photographs published by Der Spiegel were among those covered by a judicial protective order issued by a military judge, prohibiting their public release.

The Post, which reviewed the photographs, says one depicts Spec. Jeremy N. Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, smiling and crouching next to the corpse of Gul Mudin, who was killed Jan. 15, 2010. The other photograph shows Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho next to Mudin’s body. Morlock and Holmes have both been charged with murder in Mudin’s case, and Morlock, who has pleaded guilty to a total of three charges of murder, is scheduled to be sentenced at a court-martial on Wednesday.

One of Morlock’s attorneys said the photographs do not have a time or date stamp, and called the setting and identity of the corpse “mere speculation.” But one of Holmes’ attorneys confirmed the authenticity of the photo showing his client, while adding that Holmes had been ordered to be in the picture by his superiors.

A third photograph published by Der Spiegel today allegedly depicts two dead, handcuffed Afghan civilians.

In response to the release of the photographs, the U.S. Army issued a statement, calling the photographs “repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.”

“We apologize for the distress these photos cause,” the Army statement said, according to the Post. “The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings, in which the accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

The UK paper The Guardian reports that military commanders in Afghanistan “are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered” by the release of the photographs. On Sunday night, The Guardian says, organizations employing foreign staff in Afghanistan, including the U.N., ordered their staff into “lockdown.”

The U.S. Army did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Late Update: Gawker has published copies of the photographs obtained by Der Spiegel here.

SOURCE

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: