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Ralph Lopez's blog
As soldier after soldier steps forward to reclaim his humanity in the midst of the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, we are getting a peek at the brutalization process which the Army employs to divorce young men from their natural resistance to doing the kinds of things required to maintain a brutal occupation. In Winter Soldier Jon Michael Turner gave a deeply personal account of his time in Iraq, admitting he had his first kill in April 2006:
"This man was innocent. I don't know his name... He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and father."
From OpEdNews.com, Ross Sherwood adds further details to the story of a battalion commander in Iraq who ordered his soldiers to engage in "360 degree rotational fire" upon being hit by an IED, and to shoot "every motherf*cker on the street," including women and children. Roy Corcoles recounts the training which reinforced the reaction to obey the order. You were asked, if you saw an attacker with many civilians close by and it was certain some would be killed or hurt, would you fire your weapon? The correct answer was "yes." But if you did not answer yes fast enough, you were beaten.
The soldier in a now-famous Wikileaks video who found a rocket launcher at the scene of a controversial 2007 Apache helicopter attack, in Baghdad, said in a radio interview this week that he did not believe an ambush was imminent. The video shows 12 men, including two Reuters newsmen, standing on a street corner before being fired upon with the Apache’s 30mm cannon, resulting in what appears to be an unprovoked massacre. The video caused an international outcry after it was leaked to the media by the government watchdog Wikileaks. The presence of the rocket launcher was seized upon by defenders of the attack as proof that the attack was justified, and that this was evidence of an impending ambush.
In the ongoing disconnect between what the Pentagon reports and what actually is happening in Afghanistan, last week NATO strenuously denied reports that 52 civilians had been killed five miles away from a fight with insurgents, as Afghan President Karzai had alleged. ABC:
NATO forces have rejected Afghan president Hamid Karzai's claim that 52 people were killed in a NATO rocket attack last week. NATO says there is no evidence of civilian casualties at the site of the alleged incident in the Sangin district of Helmand province last Friday.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) has called for the death penalty for Pfc. Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, but himself last week voted for funds which a congressional report shows end up funding weapons and explosives used by the Taliban for attacks on American troops. The amount of U.S. funds going to the Taliban in "protection payments" for truck convoys is estimated between $100 million to $400 million per year. For comparison, the amount the Taliban takes in from opium profits is about $300 million per year.
Not only is your tax money funding the Taliban to an extent which is perhaps even greater than the opium trade; not only is the Pakistani military helping Afghan insurgents attack American troops (again most likely with part of that $1 billion a year we give them); not only is the $50 billion Congress just borrowed to keep the war going making us even poorer; the kicker is it could all be done and won for a teeny tiny fraction of the cost. In a remarkably subversive piece of journalism for the NYT, Nicholas Kristof lets the cat out of the bag: this military spending is all one big, huge waste. We could be borrowing that money from China for other things. Today he writes:
This week the White House condemned the posting of politically embarrassing classified documents which could come to be known as the Afghan Pentagon Papers on the Internet, saying this "could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," on the same day that Congress approved the administration's requests for further war funding, significant amounts of which, it is now known, will wind up directly in the hands of Taliban insurgents. Seven months ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in testimony before Congress:
It is abundantly clear that congressmen who vote for more war funding this week, after the issuance of the Tierney report, will be voting to fund the Taliban in no insubstantial amount. It is estimated that the business previously thought to be the Taliban's biggest source of support, the opium business, brings in around $300 million. Now the Tierney report from Congress's own Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Warlord, Inc., reveals that the Taliban's take from the U.S. Department of Defense, every penny of it U.S. taxpayer dollars, could be as high as $400 million and certainly no less than $100 million.
The Pentagon outdoing the opium business at supporting the Taliban? Shocking, but true.
LIVESTREAM LINK HERE:
National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now! taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Albany, NY.
The conference will bring together antiwar and social justice activists from across the country to consider what can be done to end the U.S. wars, occupations, bombing attacks, threats and interventions that are taking place in the Middle East and beyond. See for yourself where the antiwar movement is today and where it is headed.
Friday night, July 23 7:00 — 10 PM
Strategies and Tactics in the Struggle to End the Empire's Wars and Occupations
Medea Benjamin, CODE PINK
Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report
Chris Gauvreau, Administrative Body, National Assembly to End U.S. Wars and Occupations
Teresa Gutierrez, International Action Center
Kathy Kelly, Creative Voices for Nonviolence
In the wake of the report from a congressional subcommittee which confirms that massive amounts of Pentagon money (perhaps equaling or exceeding the Taliban's opium profits) finance the Taliban insurgency through a "protection racket" for truck convoys, media reports have been careful to hedge descriptions of the funding as "unintentional." This CBS news report mirrors the AP write-up, which states:
On June 9, 2010 American citizen Fahad Hashmi was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a U.S. court for "material assistance" to Al Qaeda, allegedly helping to pass a pair of waterproof socks and some ponchos, through an intermediary, to an operative in Pakistan. The intermediary was a "friend of a friend" who stayed for two weeks in Fahad's London flat while Fahad was a graduate student. Fahad didn't know the man, who brought two suitcases which remained unopened in a corner for his whole stay. Fahad says he didn't know what the suitcases contained, never mind what it was for, and certainly not that they contained "material assistance." The government's charges did not allege anything else had been passed, no weapons, no cash. Just socks and ponchos.
From our good friends at Democrats.com
Tomorrow (Thursday) is the vote on the war funding supplemental for Afghanistan. Save yourself about $35 billion tonight. In 2009, House Progressives had two chances to use the "power of the purse" to end the wars by opposing the $97 Billion War Supplemental. On May 14, 51 Progressives voted against war funds. But on June 16, when 32 true Progressives voted No (1) and we needed just 7 more Progressives to end the wars, 21 sorely disappointed us.
They were: Yvette Clarke, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Jerry Costello, Barney Frank, Luis Gutierrez, Jay Inslee, Steve Kagen, John Lewis, Edward Markey, Doris Matsui, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Grace Napolitano, Richard Neal, James Oberstar, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Edolphus Towns, Nydia Velázquez, and Anthony Weiner...
Women wore miniskirts in Kabul under the short-lived Marxist government in the 70s
Afghans are some of the most bombed-out, shot-up, messed-with people in the world. It started when Zbigniew Brzezinski decided to give the Soviets "their own Vietnam." The Afghans were in the midst of growing pains into a modern, moderate Islam, nominally socialist society, when Brzezinski heard the word "SOCIALIST?!"
With her denial of President Obama's budget request for $4.4 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan, citing corruption, Rep. Nita Lowey has opened an opportunity to examine the principle forms of assistance to the country, what works and what doesn't. The fact is that all Afghan development programs are not alike. Lowey would do well to redirect the funds which were destined for USAID, which would be most of the funds in question, to Afghanistan's widely-hailed National Solidarity Program (NSP), which thus far has managed to elude Karzai government rapaciousness, and begun to lift this population 40% of which is malnourished into their own economic destiny.
NOTE: IT'S THE REST OF IT THAT IS WASTE. We can either spend another quarter-trillion to a trillion over the next few years for this phony, economics-driven insurgency, or we can do what works and get out now. The little girl starving in the video below is in Kandahar in 2007, five years after we arrived. It is still happening.
In an unprecedented move which directly challenges a president's war strategy, Rep. Nita Lowey has axed Obama's request for $4.4 billion for programs which would result in greater jobs and development for Afghans, citing concerns over corruption. By doing so Lowey has challenged President Obama's analysis that Taliban is a mix of "hardcore ideologues and kids who sign up because it's the best job they can get."
Now that the McChrstal Affair looks more like a combination of theater and high-command hari-kari in which McChrystal has removed himself from the role of General William Westmoreland in the history books, it would be a shame to lose what else McChrystal's team was telling us in all drunken frankness. Evidence is building that McChrystal knew perfectly well what was going to go into the Rolling Stone article. Editor Eric Bates said on Morning Joe on June 22 that "everything" had been run by McChrystal and his aides during the week-long fact-checking process, and McChrystal did "absolutely not" push back or voice any objection. Hastings told CNN:
"I had a tape recorder and notepad out the entire time, so it was all very clear that it was on the record."
As we hear more of the breathless fallout over the McChrystal interview and his staff's foot-in-mouth, you might want to keep in mind the following fact: McChrystal was given the chance to voice objections to the controversial parts of the Rolling Stone article in which drunken aides were quoted, but he signed off anyway.
If even a small fraction of what former Bravo Company 2-16 soldier Ethan McCord is saying is true, that orders were given at a battalion level in Iraq for "360 rotational fire" against civilians in order to "kill every motherf**ker in the street," upon being hit by an IED, then it is incumbent upon Congress to investigate a possible war crime which far surpasses errant bombs or overzealous individual soldiers in the heat of battle. This is the mass execution of civilians. Further funding for the wars, presently being courageously stalled in the House Appropriations Committee by Chairman David Obey for other reasons, should be withheld until a full report, including subpoenaed witnesses, has been made to full House and Senate. Halted funds should not include civilian assistance.
Still breaking as there is no MSM reportage so far. Please Facebook/crosspost
The shock waves are still filtering down, a "bagger" winning in Kaintuck and beating the GOP's establishment candidate of choice, but the reality is far more subtle and complex.
Those who wish to understand the Tea Party movement should understand that there are really two of them: the Sarah Palin, pro-war, pro-torture Neocon wing and the Ron Paul-based Libertarians, who both employ the same small gubmint rhetoric while arriving at it from vastly different perspectives.
"Waking from a dream as she slept comfortably in a remote Kurdish village in Northeastern Iran, Karla Hansen stared wide-eyed at the ceiling. Across the border in Afghanistan, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), controlled by American pilots sitting in front of video screens inside the U.S. were dropping bombs on the poorest of Afghanistan’s poor. Hundreds of children, beautiful children, like those who welcomed her every day during her visit to Iran, had already perished. On that night, Hansen made a promise to herself. She would make a film to document the effects of the drones through the eyes of innocent children and families with no place left to run." -- From the website of the new documentary "Silent Screams"
On the eve of President Karzai's visit there is a debate taking place over whether the Obama administration should support talks with Taliban leaders or wait until military action further "weakens" the Taliban. The problem is, if anything, military action tends to strengthen the Taliban, as it places US forces in the position of the foreign invader which must be driven out, and draws recruits. Overstaying our welcome has resulted in reawakened feelings of national pride among young men who have seen no economic good come out of the American presence. So you work with whoever is around and whoever pays a wage in the invader-driving-out business. It should also be remembered that the word "Taliban" is a very broad term which includes gangs of hungry men who put on the black turban and haul out the old AK just for an excuse to go around robbing people.