Afghanistan

If Top General Gets His Way, America’s “Longest War” Will Become Even Longer

January 4, 2016

If the highest ranking U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan gets his way, America’s longest official war could become even more protracted. Army General John Campbell said in a USA Today article published on Tuesday that he wants to keep the 9,800 American troops currently in Afghanistan there for as long as possible—and is considering asking for even more boots on the ground. “My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could,” Campbell told the paper from Kabul. “Every time I’ve gone to the president and said, ‘I need X,’ I’ve been very, very fortunate that he’s provided that.” Read

Mairead Maguire – Syria ­- A Light to the World

January 4, 2016

BELFAST, Dec 31 2015 (IPS) – In November 2015 I visited Syria together with an International Peace delegation. This was my third visit to Syria in the last three years. As on previous occasions I was moved by the spirit of resilience and courage of the people of Syria. In spite of the fact that for the last five years their country has been plunged into war by outside forces the vast majority of the Syrian people continue to go about their daily lives and many have dedicated themselves to working for peace and reconciliation and the unity of their beloved Syria. They struggle to overcome their fear, that Syria will be driven by outside interference and destructive forces within, to suffer the same terrible fate of Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Yemen, and so many other countries. Many Syrians are traumatized and in shock and ask ‘how did this happen to our country’? Proxy wars are something they thought only happened in other countries, but now Syria too has been turned into a war-ground in the geo-political landscape controlled by the western global elite and their allies in the Middle East. Read

MEL GURTOV – US Imperial War Presidency?

December 29, 2015

The death of six US soldiers in Afghanistan on December 21 at the hands of a Taliban suicide bomber brings to 21 the number of US combat deaths there in 2015. Once again we must confront the question of national purpose in waging war without debate or declaration. Like all other battlefield deaths in the Middle East, the Obama administration rationalizes these latest as being part of “training, advising, and assisting,” not combat. But those are merely code words for direct interventions that Congress has not authorized since 2002, in clear violation of restrictions the War Powers Resolution of 1973 places on presidential power. There will be plenty more casualties in the Middle East for years to come, and not just because of the seemingly permanent US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consider two recent news items. According to a plan not yet formally approved, the Pentagon wants to create a worldwide string of “hubs” as staging areas for Special Operations forces to strike quickly against terrorists. Second, most members of Congress are unwilling to introduce and debate a bill authorizing the Obama administration’s use of force in the Middle East and beyond. Thus, there is no end in sight

ROBERT FISK – Sitrep Afghanistan: Bad, Getting Worse

December 29, 2015

The news from Afghanistan is very bad. No one says that, of course. President Ghani has a “national unity government” that “supports a strong partnership with the United States”, according to Barack Obama two months ago. Sure, Kunduz was captured by the Taliban – but then the Afghans got it back (though minus one American-bombed hospital, along with most of its patients and doctors). Sure, Sangin was captured by the Taliban – but now the Afghan army is fighting to get it back. But didn’t more than a hundred British soldiers die to hold Sangin? Sure, but American troops in Iraq died to hold and keep Mosul – and Mosul is now the home of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And US troops in Iraq died to capture Fallujah, then lost it, and died all over again to recapture it – and Fallujah is now in the hands of Isis. Read

Andrew Cockburn – A Special Relationship

December 23, 2015

One morning early in 1988, Ed McWilliams, a foreign-service officer posted to the American Embassy in Kabul, heard the thump of a massive explosion from somewhere on the other side of the city. It was more than eight years after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and the embassy was a tiny enclave with only a handful of diplomats. McWilliams, a former Army intelligence operative, had made it his business to venture as much as possible into the Soviet-occupied capital. Now he set out to see what had happened. It was obviously something big: although the explosion had taken place on the other side of Sher Darwaza, a mountain in the center of Kabul, McWilliams had heard it clearly. After negotiating a maze of narrow streets on the south side of the city, he found the site. A massive car bomb, designed to kill as many civilians as possible, had been detonated in a neighborhood full of Hazaras, a much-persecuted minority. Read

BINOY KAMPMARK – The Permanent War State

December 22, 2015

“The funding to continue the war against ISIL is an authorization of force against ISIL, albeit a quiet one, designed not to attract public attention.” Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare, Dec 17, 2015 Money is raining down on the US military complex in the $1.15 trillionspending bill that was unveiled on Wednesday by various leaders of Congress. Of that portion, a good $572.7 billion is set aside for Pentagon expenditure. (These figures tend to be deceptive in themselves, given the notoriously unreliable accuracy of defence accounting.) The portions, roughly broken down, come to $58.6 billion for so-called Global War on Terror/Overseas Contingency Operations (GWOT/OCO) funds, $111 billion for procurement, which comes to $17 billion more than actual expenditures for the 2015 fiscal year, and $49.8 billion for R&D – $13.7 billion more than 2015 (Defense News, Dec 16). Read

Backing MSF, Human Rights Watch Says US Must Consent to War Crimes Probe

December 22, 2015

There is “strong” evidence that the U.S. military attack on a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan two months ago constituted a criminal act, and should be investigated as such, Human Rights Watch said Monday in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter(pdf). “The attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz involved possible war crimes,” said the advocacy group’s Washington director Sarah Margon. “The ongoing U.S. inquiry will not be credible unless it considers criminal liability and is protected from improper command influence.” Read

NORMAN POLLACK – Structural Repression: America’s “Soft”-Fascism

December 22, 2015

Collective absorption into a rotting system may appear volitional, therefore consensus, but in fact represents structural fascism, an historically evolving societal formation and framework of power in which all reference to peace, justice, economic and cultural democratization has been weakened if not eliminated from consciousness through a pounding, reinforced assertion and affirmation of CAPITALISM. Structural because seemingly self-evident and painless, while in reality the process of what amounts to ideological acculturation takes on a universal suffocative effect through every available means of manipulation/compulsion, from a patriotism generated by and associated with war to everyday symbols of national pride drumming home the theme of exceptionalism. Read

Michael Brenner – Obama’s America: Id, Ego and Super-Ego

December 21, 2015

Barack Obama’s conduct as President baffles us – just as his personality eludes us. Design and purpose seem to be equally lacking even as the man exudes a strong sense of elitist superiority and his words convey high-minded aspirations. The puzzle lends itself more to psychological analysis than to political analysis. Here is one formulation that may shed light on his behavior in office. Obama sees three points of reference in the collective American public personality. The Tea Party types are the ID. They represent primal energy, drive and inspiration. Then there is the EGO represented by the Establishment in all its forms. They are the very core of our national personality and the main pillar of our public life. At no time is their basic credibility and centrality to be questioned (and thereby weakening its structural integrity). Protecting the Establishment is his overriding responsibility as President – as he did during the financial crisis by comforting the Wall Street robber barons, and as he did in rushing to reassure the CIA that they were respected and appreciated during his first week in office. Finally, the SUPER-EGO is represented by “enlightened” liberals (and Lincolnesque Republicans of rectitude, now extinct) who

Martin Berger – ISIL Death Squads Dispatched to Afghanistan. Who is Behind Them?

December 17, 2015

The increase in the level of terrorist activities of ISIL in Afghanistan has recently been the topic of various reports being published in the international media. Along with the massacre of the local population which seems to be a trademark of this Islamist group it has recently entered in a direct confrontation with the Taliban. It’s now safe to assume that there’s well over two thousand ISIL militants operating in Afghanistan. A significant number of reports suggests that ISIL militants that infiltrated Afghanistan are engaged in recruiting locals, spreading radical propaganda, and establishing training camps. Additionally, some articles suggest that former members of the Taliban are pledging their allegiance to ISIL in the southern provinces of the country. Thus, The Independent quotes the statement of the Afghan army General Qadam Shah Shahima that said that ISIL managed to overshadow ISIL in the Afghan province of Helmand. Read
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