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Afghanistan War Weekly: December 27, 2010
The Obama/Petraeus “December Report” and the winding down of 2010 produced many retrospectives on the war this week. Pessimism reigns, as illustrated in the articles/essays linked below.
Last week’s “leak” that the US military/political leaders are preparing for more/many cross-border Special Forces operations into Pakistan has stirred things up. The US denies that such a “decision” has been made. Some Pakistan leaders say that cross-border operations would mean “the end of the alliance.” NB Gareth Porter’s “featured essay” and several more good links on this in the Pakistan section.
The WikiLeaks story broadened its focus this week to include the conditions under which Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, is being held in prison. Many links below, NB especially the article by David House, a friend who visits Manning. There are also links to many good essays about the significance of the WikiLeaks events.
In addition to the “Featured Essays,” please also check out esp. the several good articles on the state of the ground war; Susan Sach’s excellent overview of the failure of training programs for Afghanistan soldiers and police; the announcement that the US Army will send 25,000 troops to Afghanistan next year; and the UN’s report on civilian casualties up 20 percent.
Once again, if you find this newsletter useful, I would appreciate your help in expanding circulation. I would also appreciate suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the websites of United for Peace and Justice (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=4111) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).
----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
US Plan for High-Risk Raids into Pakistan Is More Than Psywar
By Gareth Porter, Antiwar.com [December 23, 2010]
---- This week’s leak to the New York Times of a proposal for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) raids against Afghan insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan may be intended to put more pressure on the Pakistani military to take action against those sanctuaries. But the proposal for such cross-border raids also reflects a real demand from the U.S.-NATO command in Afghanistan to target insurgent leaders inside Pakistan if the Pakistani military does not respond to the threat, according to a U.S. source familiar with discussions at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul. And the position of the Barack Obama administration on the necessity of attacking insurgent safe havens in Pakistan appears to be in line with the proposal for cross-border raids. Carrying out such raids would probably provoke a new level of anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan, with dangerous political consequences in that country. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2010/12/22/us-plan-for-high-risk-raid...
'Dear Afghanistan': A New Year's Call for Peace
By Afghan Youth Voices of Peace, CommonDreams [December 26, 2010]
---- While the US may be the world’s single super power in military terms, it faces another super power: the voices of war-weary millions who detest violence and killing. In Afghanistan, in the United States, and among the populations of countries whose governments have joined the NATO coalition, millions of people are calling for an end to war in Afghanistan. On New Year’s Day, 01/01/11, people around the world are invited to raise their voices, through Facebook, Twitter, Free Conference calls, Skype, and blogs at several websites in a massive refusal to accept this war any longer. Let your New Year’s resolution be to stand for the people and end wars by sending a digital or spoken peacemaking message to people in Afghanistan. By amassing millions of messages calling for peace, we can create yet another indication that ordinary people within and beyond Afghanistan have had enough of war.
Beyond WikiLeaks: The Privatization of War
By Jose L. Gomez del Prado, UN Working Group on Mercenariest [December 26, 2010]
---- Private military and security companies are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the 19th and 20th centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization period, operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations, a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additionally, Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary. These non-state entities of the 21st century operate in extremely blurred situations, where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations, recruiting former military as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security. http://www.truth-out.org/beyond-wikileaks-files-the-privatization-war662...
AFGHANISTAN WAR: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Obama’s Afghanistan Review: A Whitewash of a Disastrous Occupation
By Phyllis Bennis and Kevin Martin, AlterNet [December 24, 2010]
---- Apparently nothing can happen in the U.S. war in Afghanistan that doesn’t mean good news. If violence rises, it’s because “we’re taking the fight to the enemy.” The Pentagon must be taking a lot of fighting to whoever they’re calling the enemy – this year alone the war has killed over 2500 Afghan civilians, and almost 500 U.S. troops and more than 200 other NATO forces have died too. Of course in those isolated areas where violence may have dropped, it’s because “our strategy is winning.” http://www.alternet.org/story/149321/
Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [December 27, 2010]
[FB – Starting with #10, the myths include: “There has been significant progress in tamping down the insurgency in Afghanistan”; “Afghans want the US and NATO troops to stay in their country because they feel protected by them”; “The “surge” and precision air strikes are forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table”; “The US presence in Afghanistan is justified by the September 11 attacks”; “Afghans still want US troops in their country, despite their discontents”; and so on; very useful, w/many annotations and links]
Death of the Afghan surge
By James Denselow, The Guardian [UK][December 16, 2010]
---- A flurry of reports indicate how the US has neither the time nor the ability to defeat the Taliban or build an Afghan state that can deliver real justice to the country. The failures of General Stanley McChrystal, who resigned in June, and Richard Holbrooke, who died suddenly this week, are symbolic of the crumbling of the twin pillars, both military and civilian, of Barack Obama's counterinsurgency strategy (Coin). … In this one instance we don't need WikiLeaks to tell us that there is no US government consensus about the state of play in Afghanistan. In short, the reason why the US has been in Afghanistan for so long is not because it wants to be there but because it has no idea how to leave. As long as injustice and illegitimacy remain, there will be potent rallying calls for violent attacks against the institutions of government. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/16/afghanistan-surge-ob...
U.N. Maps Out Afghan Security
By Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal [December 26, 2010]
---- Internal United Nations maps show a marked deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan during this year's fighting season, countering the Obama administration's optimistic assessments of military progress since the surge of additional American forces began a year ago. The Wall Street Journal was able to view two confidential "residual risk accessibility" maps, one compiled by the U.N. at the annual fighting season's start in March 2010 and another at its tail end in October. In the October map, just as in March's, virtually all of southern Afghanistan—the focus of the coalition's military offensives—remained painted the red of "very high risk," with no noted security improvements. At the same time, the green belt of "low risk" districts in northern, central and western Afghanistan shriveled considerably. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020356800457604384292234752...
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
25,000 soldiers headed to Afghanistan in 2011
By Michael Hoffman, Army Times [December 22, 2010]
---- Nearly 25,000 troops will board planes for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan starting soon after New Year's, the Defense Department has announced. About 18,000 soldiers in five infantry brigade combat teams as well as two combat aviation brigades and a headquarters element will deploy to Afghanistan as part of the regular troop rotations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed the deployment orders a day after President Obama said he will start bringing troops home from Afghanistan in July. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/12/army-afghanistan-deployments-in-20...
Airmen to train Afghans at least through 2016
By Scott Fontaine, Air Force Times [December 25, 2010[
---- Airmen will remain in Afghanistan to train that country’s nascent air force at least through 2016, two years after most troops will leave, the general leading the effort said. Afghanistan’s air force has 4,043 airmen and 56 aircraft, a combination of mostly Russian-built fixed-wing and rotary airframes. The plan is to almost triple the number of aircraft, including adding 20 light aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and 16 fixed-wing close-air support aircraft, over the next six years. http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2010/12/air-force-to-train-afghans-thr...
Afghan War Just a Slice of U.S. Coverage
By Brian Stelter, New York Times [December 19, 2010]
---- As the Obama administration conducted an Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review this month, the news media did too, and the coverage came peppered with question marks. The grueling war there, where a day rarely goes by without an allied casualty, is like a faint heartbeat, accounting for just 4 percent of the nation’s news coverage in major outlets through early December, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an arm of the Pew Research Center. That is down slightly from last year, when the war accounted for 5 percent. About a quarter of Americans follow news about Afghanistan closely. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/business/media/20coverage.html
Pentagon's Christmas Present: Largest Military Budget Since World War II
By Rick Rozoff, Op Ed News [December 25, 2010]
---- On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year's Defense Department budget. The proposed figure for the Pentagon's 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war. Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year's dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War. With recent U.S. census figures at 308 million, next year the Pentagon will spend $2,354 for every citizen of the country at the $725 billion price tag alone. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Pentagon-s-Christmas-Prese-by-Rick-Rozo...
See also: Spencer Ackerman, “Shadow Wars Get Big Bucks in Last-Minute Defense Bill,” Wired [December 22, 2010] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/12/shadow-wars-get-big-bucks-in-las...
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- 707 US and other Coalition soldiers have been killed in 2010. 53 US soldiers were killed in November, and 30 have been killed so far in December. This brings the number of US soldiers killed in 2010 to 496. Additionally, 5 soldiers from other Coalition countries were killed in November, and 7 have been killed so far in December. This brings the total number of US deaths in Afghanistan to 1,443, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,277. The number of US soldiers wounded in November 2010 was 501; 143 have been wounded through December 13. This brings the total US wounded during 2010 to 4.996, and the number wounded since the war began to 9,771. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org and to http://tomhayden.com/downloads/Wounded.pdf
---- See the article/summary of the recent quarterly report from the UN, below. See also Susan G. Chesser, “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” Congressional Research Service [August 11, 2010] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41084.pdf.
---- According to an on-going study by the New America Foundation, the United States has launched 113 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan this year, compared to 53 during all of 2009. This brings the total number of such strikes since 2004 to 209 [both are last week’s numbers.] [FB – I don’t think the NAF drone casualty count is reliable in its estimation of the number of civilian casualties, so I’m not listing it anymore.] The study can be read at http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones. For a different view on the extent of civilian casualties by drone attacks, see Daniel L. Byman, “Do Targeted Killings Work?” Foreign Policy [July 4, 2009] http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0714_targeted_killings_byman.aspx.... See also the website for CIVIC: The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict: www.civicworldwide.org/ for a recent report on Pakistan.
The Cost of the War
---- According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $379 billion and the total for both wars is $1.127 trillion. For a useful resource on the costs of war, go to “Bring Our War $$ Home” at www.bringourwardollarshome.org/index.html
Public opinion about the war in Afghanistan
---- “ABC News/Washington Post Poll: Record Six in 10 Say it's 'Not Worth Fighting' “ - A record 60 percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a grim assessment -- and a politically hazardous one -- in advance of the Obama administration's one-year review of its revised strategy. Public dissatisfaction with the war, now the nation's longest, has spiked by 7 points just since July. Given its costs vs. its benefits, only 34 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll [December 16, 2010] say the war's been worth fighting, down by 9 points to a new low, by a sizable margin. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/abc-news-washington-post-poll-exclusive-a...
---- Americans continue to be divided over the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, with 45% supporting and 45% opposing it. The plurality 49% of Americans say the U.S. government has been providing them too little information about the war in Afghanistan, and more than half, 54%, say they do not know what their country's war in Afghanistan is all about. The plurality 38% of Americans expect the war to eventually come to a negotiated settlement that gives the Taliban a role in the Afghan government, while only 16% still expect a clear military victory by the U.S.-led foreign military forces. The Angus Reid poll was conducted December 3-5, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...
THE WIKILEAKS LEAK – WEEK FOUR
Sources for Cables and Media Coverage
---- WikiLeaks has a new home at www.wikileaks.ch, courtesy of the Swiss Pirate Party. As of today, the number of cables released is 1,953. They can be searched (e.g., for “Afghanistan” or “corruption”) at http://cablesearch.org/. Another useful site is WikiLeaks Central: “An unofficial WikiLeaks information resource”: http://wlcentral.org// The Wikipedia entry on WikiLeaks is comprehensive and up-to-date: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_diplomatic_cables_leak
Several media outlets have archives devoted to WikiLeaks. The best ones are at The Guardian [UK] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-us-embassy-cables and Aljazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/spotlight/usembassyfiles/. The New York Times’ site is at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/statessecrets.html?hp. At the daily publication www.antiwar.com, Jason Ditz provides short commentaries on many of the documents as they become available. Of the several blogs about the cables and the controversy surrounding them, the best one imo is by Greg Mitchell at The Nation - http://www.thenation.com/authors/greg-mitchell.
Some Comments and Analysis
Glenn Greenwald, “What WikiLeaks revealed to the world in 2010,”Salon.com [December 24, 2010]
Ralph Nader, “Wikimania and the First Amendment,” CommonDreams [December 20, 2010]
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, “Iran, WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers,” Asia Times [December 21, 2010]
Kevin Zeese, “Deceit and Truth Are Feeding Resistance to US Militarism,”
Antiwar.com [December 19, 2010] http://original.antiwar.com/kevin-zeese/2010/12/19/deceit-and-truth-are-...
Jason Ditz, “WikiLeaks Poised for Major Israel Document Dump,” Antiwar.com [December 24, 2010]
Mark Prendergast, “Now comes don't read, don't tell,” Stars and Stripes, [December 17, 2010]
Nancy A. Youssef, “Army opens probe of its role in WikiLeaks security breach,” McClatchy Newspapers [December 24, 2010] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/12/23/v-print/105763/army-wikileaks-prob...
Re: Alleged Leaker Bradley Manning
To support Bradley Manning — and contribute to his legal fund —go to the website of the Bradley Manning Support Network www.bradleymanning.org. Firedoglake has a petition at http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/bradleymanning?source=web&subsource...
David House, “Bradley Manning Speaks About His Conditions,” Firedoglake [December 23, 2010]
Andy Worthington, “Is Bradley Manning Being Held as Some Sort of ‘Enemy Combatant’?” CommonDreams [December 20, 2010]http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/12/20-2
Dahr Jamail, “Bradley Manning and GI Resistance to US War Crimes,” Angola 3 News [December 23, 2010] http://original.antiwar.com/jamail/2010/12/23/bradley-manning-and-gi-res...
Aaron Glantz, “Jailed Soldier Has Support of Resisters,” New York Times [December 26, 2010]
DAMAGED SOLDIERS, BROKEN ARMY
Pentagon Health Plan Won’t Cover Brain-Damage Therapy for Troops
By T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR [December 20, 2010]
---- During the past few decades, scientists have become increasingly persuaded that people who suffer brain injuries benefit from what is called cognitive rehabilitation therapy -- a lengthy, painstaking process in which patients relearn basic life tasks such as counting, cooking or remembering directions to get home. Many neurologists, several major insurance companies and even some medical facilities run by the Pentagon agree that the therapy can help people whose functioning has been diminished by blows to the head. But despite pressure from Congress and the recommendations of military and civilian experts, the Pentagon's health plan for troops and many veterans refuses to cover the treatment.
Deadly Afghan year takes toll on 101st Airborne
By Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press [December 26, 2010]
---- The 101st Airborne Division, a force in America's major conflicts since World War II, is seeing its worst casualties in a decade. The Army division has lost 104 men this year - or about 1 in 5 American deaths in Afghanistan. That is close to a toll of 105 divisional deaths in Iraq during a 2005-2006 deployment that was its deadliest year in combat since Vietnam. The 20,000-strong division from Fort Campbell has been fighting in two of Afghanistan's most violent regions, the south and the east. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/12/26/2542599/deadly-afghan-year-takes-to...
(Video) Coming Home Homeless: The New Homeless Among Veterans
By Bob Woodruff and Ian Cameron, ABC News [December 26, 2010]
---- Servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan that the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates have been homeless. Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, calls that a conservative estimate. http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/coming-home-homeless-homeless-veterans/st...
THE WAR IN KABUL
Afghan parliament to convene Jan. 20
By Patrick Quinn, Associated Press [December 20, 2010]
---- Afghanistan's parliament will convene on Jan. 20, more than four months after the fraud-tainted elections, the president's spokesman said Monday. Waheed Omar said the 249-seat parliament will be inaugurated after the winter break. The elections were held on Sept. 18 and the results ratified by the Independent Election Commission on Nov. 24. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101220/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan
US medicines for Afghan soldiers disappear
By Heidi Vogt, Associated Press [December 22, 2010]
---- U.S.-donated medicines and pharmaceutical supplies meant to keep the new Afghan army and police healthy have been disappearing before reaching Afghan military hospitals and clinics, and the government said it is removing the army's top medical officer from his post as part of an investigation into alleged corruption. It's unclear just how much has gone missing of the $42 million worth of medical goods the U.S. has donated this year, and whether any Afghan soldiers have died as a result. U.S. officials say they do not account for the supplies after delivering them to the Afghans. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/12/22/us-medicines-for-afghan-soldiers-disa...
Contractors behaving badly mean headaches for US
By Richard Lardner, Associated Press [December 19, 2010]
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Karzai warms to idea of talking to Taliban in Turkey
By Simon Cameron-Moore, Yahoo News, [December 24, 2010]
---- President Hamid Karzai said on Friday the Afghan government would welcome any offer by Turkey to facilitate talks with the Taliban that could help bring an end to the conflict in his homeland. Speaking in Istanbul at the end of a trilateral summit between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Karzai said "dignitaries" close to the Taliban had suggested Turkey could become a venue for talks if the Taliban were allowed to establish some kind of representation there.
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMY AND POLICE
NATO fails to deliver half of trainers promised for Afghanistan
By Susan Sachs, Globe and Mail [Canada] [December 21, 2010]
[FB - This is an extensive, imo very useful report on the yearlong failure of NATO to provide trainers.]
---- NATO is not meeting its target for assembling specialized trainers to build up Afghanistan’s army and police forces, the key that would open the way to a withdrawal of coalition troops beginning next year.
An internal progress report from the training mission headquarters here warned that it “does not have the required number of trainers, which threatens our ability to sustain momentum through the summer of 2011 to develop and professionalize the Afghan national security force.” The Dec. 12 report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, said NATO member countries have so far pledged to fill just half of the 819 “critical” trainer slots that need to be filled if Afghanistan is to begin to assume responsibility next year for its own security. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/nato-fails-to-del...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
Another Record: Over 800 Afghan Troops Killed in 2010
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 22, 2010]
---- Afghanistan’s civilian death toll is a record in 2010. The NATO death toll in Afghanistan has been a record for months already. Now, completing the grim picture of the Afghan War the Obama Administration insists is going so swimmingly, the Afghan military’s numbers are in, and are another record toll. According to the Afghan Defense Ministry some 806 Afghan National Army soldiers have been killed so far this year, by far the highest number since the 2001 US-led occupation began. It is a 25 percent increase over the 2009 toll, which saw 632 Afghan soldiers slain. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/22/another-record-over-800-afghan-troops...
U.S. troops battle to hand off a valley resistant to Afghan governance
By Greg Jaffe, Washington Post [December 27, 2010]
---- Later that evening Petrosky huddled under a blanket with Pfc. Dustin Riedemann, who had stuffed gauze into Warriner's wound. Riedemann kept talking about the look in Warriner's eyes after he was shot. All Petrosky could think about was getting back to his outpost and his bunk, which he had decorated with pictures of his girlfriend and the Dallas Stars hockey team. He was angry at the Afghan soldiers who had left most of the fighting on the mountain to the Americans, and he was furious at his commanders. No matter how many Taliban his platoon killed, it wasn't worth the life of any more of his friends. "Why are we still here?" he recalled saying. "We should have been off this mountain two days ago." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/26/AR201012...
Taliban Challenge U.S. in Eastern Afghanistan
By Ray Rivera, New York Times [December 25, 2010]
---- While American-led NATO forces have claimed gains in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, this strategically vital part of Afghanistan’s east, at the crossroads of Highway 1 from Kabul to Kandahar and along roads out to the provinces of Paktia and Paktika, has proved stubborn. Despite beefed-up coalition patrols in recent months, the insurgents are still sheltering in this remote wheat-farming area. Though NATO officials dispute the notion, local residents say the coalition forces lost momentum here two years ago when the Americans quit patrolling and turned the region over to the Polish military, which the Afghans say sharply curtailed patrols. Without question, security has eroded. Insurgent attacks in Andar have surged 113 percent since 2008, and in neighboring Deh Yak 106 percent, according to military figures. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/world/asia/26ghazni.html?hp
US Allies Turned Foes, Haqqani Network Spreading in Afghanistan
NATO Claims of 'Short-Term' Gains Appear Difficult to Justify
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 26, 2010]
Ditz is replying to an excessively optimistic report in the New York Times, “Taliban Fighters Appear Quieted in Afghanistan,” by Eric Schmitt [December 26, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/world/asia/27policy.html?_r=1&ref=worl...
Petraeus promises villagers U.S. will rebuild what it has knocked down
By Megan McCloskey, Stars and Stripes [December 21, 2010]
---- When the top commander in Afghanistan visited this small village in western Arghandab on Monday, there was nothing more to see than an empty field. Tarok Kalacheh currently exists in name only. All its 33 buildings are gone, leveled by the U.S. military in October. The destruction of the village was necessary to clear the Taliban from this lush farmland, which insurgents had rigged top to bottom with explosives, the military says. And now its reconstruction — and that of three others like it in the area — is just as necessary to keep the Taliban from coming back. The military is in a perception game, racing the clock to win over villagers before the spring. http://www.stripes.com/news/petraeus-promises-villagers-u-s-will-rebuild...
Afghan civilian toll up 20 percent-U.N. report
By Jonathon Burch, Reuters [December 21, 2010
---- Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 20 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with 2009, the United Nations said, with more than three-quarters killed or wounded as a result of insurgent attacks. In a quarterly report on Afghanistan this month, the United Nations said there were 6,215 civilian casualties from conflict-related incidents, including 2,412 deaths and 3,803 injuries, between January and the end of October this year. … A report last month by around 30 aid groups said while civilian casualties caused by foreign and Afghan forces had decreased over the past two years -- mainly due to a fall in air strikes -- an increase in the use of air power in recent months risked reversing those gains. U.S. forces had dropped 2,100 bombs or missiles from June through September, almost 50 percent more than the same period last year, that report said. The U.N. report also said there had been a 66 percent increase in the number of security incidents since its last report on Sept. 14, compared to the same period for 2009. Suicide attacks, averaged three a week during the period, it said. http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-53709120101221?rpc=401&feedType=...
Afghan Government Slams NATO’s Killing of Security Guards
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 26, 2010]
---- The Afghan government publicly condemned NATO today relating to the Friday killings of two private security contractors during a Kabul raid. Interior Minister Zemari Bashary insisted that the raid violated long-standing agreements between NATO and the Afghan government. Bashary insisted the deal requires that all NATO raids inside Kabul be cleared with the government in advance. Though NATO brought some Afghan police along, they did not clear the move with the national government, claiming a “credible threat” existed. A police general involved was not only sacked over the raid, but has been detained by Afghan officials. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/26/afghan-govt-slams-natos-killing-of-se...
See also: Michael Kamber and Sharif Ullah Sahak, “NATO Night Raid in Kabul Leaves Afghan Guards Dead,” New York Times [December 24, 2010]
Afghanistan: NATO Operation Leaves 2 Civilians Dead
From The Associated Press [December 23, 2010]
---- A NATO helicopter opened fire on a convoy of cars heading to an event hosted by the head of a local council in Faryab Province on Thursday, killing a police officer and the brother of a lawmaker, provincial officials said. NATO said it was investigating “the inadvertent death of two individuals and the wounding of two others” in an operation intended to intercept insurgents. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/world/asia/24briefs-Afghanistan.html?r...
PAKISTAN AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Petraeus Hints at More Cross-Border Raids Into Pakistan
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 26, 2010]
---- US commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus is the latest to offer a hint that the administration is about to begin launching cross border raids into Pakistan, calling for attacks on both sides of the porous border.http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/26/petraeus-hints-at-more-cross-border-raids-into-pakistan/
Pakistan: Alliance Over if US Troops Expand War Across Border
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 21, 2010]
---- Pakistani military leaders are warning the United States to keep their troops on the Afghan side of the border, with officials cautioning that the long-standing anti-terror alliance between the two countries would be ended formally if the United States invades. US military officials are said to be pushing not only for permission to launch raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas, but are hoping to increase the rate so much as to make such raids a “routine” part of the Afghan War. NATO, for its part, is denying that it has any plans to approve the attacks, but the Times of London reported that US officials believe they are very close to getting the go ahead for the raid. The US has launched a handful of cross-border raids over the past several years, most recently in September when they killed 60 “suspects” just across the border. That raid led Pakistan to close the border to NATO supplies and sparked a major rift in relations. One can only imagine how much damage would be done if such raids become as common as drone strikes. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/21/pakistan-alliance-over-if-us-troops-e...
Operation in NWA to be costly for politicians
By Mazhar Tufail, The News [Pakistan] [December 25, 2010]
---- Amid conflicting media reports, particularly those appearing in the US media, about launch of military operation in North Waziristan, the residents of the tribal district are extremely angered and perturbed, this correspondent noted when he traveled this week from Islamabad to NWA via Kurram Agency and Razmak to gather firsthand information about the situation prevailing in the area. One thing which became crystal clear during this visit was that it does not matter to the residents of the tribal areas whether there is a democratic rule or a dictatorial regime. It was noted that the top priority of the tribesmen is to strengthen the tribal system and to stick to the local customs and traditions. http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=22151&Cat=2
As drone strikes have increased, so have assassinations, Pakistanis say
By Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan, Washington Post [December 24, 2010]
---- As drone-fired missiles drop with furious frequency in the tribal area of North Waziristan, so do the bodies. As often as seven times a week, tribesmen there say, corpses appear in fields and on roadsides with dark warnings pinned to their tunics: All American spies will meet the same fate. Espionage has long been viewed as an egregious offense in the lawless borderland, but residents say the current pace of assassinations is unprecedented. The escalation parallels a massive surge in CIA drone attacks on North Waziristan, home to a nest of insurgents that includes al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, an Afghan militia considered the most lethal foe of U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan. CIA drones have fired 112 missiles on Pakistan's tribal areas this year, 88 percent of which hit North Waziristan, in a campaign whose effectiveness is hotly debated. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/23/AR201012...
Collateral Damage in Pakistan
By Brian Cloughley, Informed Comment [December 27, 2010]
---- It is difficult to conduct investigations into drone killings in Pakistan’s isolated valleys, but a Washington-based organisation, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, managed to probe some of the strikes and determined there had been “30 civilian deaths in just nine cases that we investigated – all since 2009 – including 14 women and children.” But there is not only butchery in the drone campaign ; there is colossal damage being done to Pakistan, with massive propaganda advantage to insurrectionists, extremists, thugs and anarchists of all descriptions. The country is in ferment and on the edge of social disaster. There could hardly be a worse time for the US, in concert with an unpopular, corruption-struck and feeble government, to carry on blitzing. The US has achieved control and lost credibility. But the government of Pakistan has lost both. That’s collateral damage, too. http://www.juancole.com/2010/12/collateral-damage-in-pakistan-cloughley....
Pakistani drone victim seeks to put US on trial
By Chris Brummitt, Associated Press [December 23, 2010]
---- Sadaullah Wazir says he was relaxing in his front yard when the missile struck, hurling him against the wall and mangling his legs so badly that they had to be amputated. Three of his relatives died. Now the 17-year-old and his family want justice from America, which they say was behind the attack.
Detailed accounts by casualties such as Wazir rarely make it outside the tribal regions. He and other tribesmen recently traveled to Islamabad, the capital, to meet with lawyers who are planning to sue the CIA for damages, possibly adding a new layer of scrutiny to the agency's covert war inside Pakistan. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/12/23/pakistani-drone-victim-seeks-to-put-u...
NATO AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
The Natural Gas Pipeline: Canada’s ‘enduring’ Afghan role
John Foster, The Star [Canada] [December 23, 2010]
---- On Dec. 11, President Hamid Karzai signed formal agreements for a natural gas pipeline to be built through Afghanistan. Leaders of Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India signed, too. Three weeks earlier, at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Afghanistan became an “enduring partner” of NATO. Neither event captured much attention here, yet both have consequences for Canada’s role in Afghanistan. With the route passing through areas of ongoing insurgency, who will provide security? In the past, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and NATO officials have said they would consider a request to protect pipelines, if asked. As an “enduring partner” of NATO, Afghanistan could request assistance for decades. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/911283--canada-s...
The French State Prepares for Class War
By Larry Portis, Counterpunch [December 21, 2010]
[FB – Though not directly linked to Afghanistan, this article presents imo an excellent illustration of the drift toward a more repressive state/fascism in Europe, escalated now by class conflicts over “who should pay for the financial crisis?”]
---- The French state is now perfecting its police power in dealing with “civil disturbances” by militarizing population control. There are two models for this effort. The first is the USA PATRIOT ACT that centralized “intelligence” agencies under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security and erased the distinction between international intervention and domestic policing. The second is the organization of the national security forces in Israel, where the operative principle is the occupation of hostile territory. http://counterpunch.org/portis12212010.html
CENTRAL ASIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Pentagon, State Dept. criticized over Kyrgyz jet fuel deals
By Andrew Higgins and Walter Pincus, Washington Post [December 20, 2010[
---- To keep U.S. warplanes flying over Afghanistan, the Pentagon allowed a "secrecy obsessed" business group to supply jet fuel to a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan, turning a blind eye to an elaborate fraud involving fuel deliveries from Russia, according to congressional investigators. In a report due to be released Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hammers the Pentagon and also State Department diplomats for ignoring red flags raised by jet fuel contracts worth nearly $2 billion for the Manas Transit Center, a U.S. base used for in-flight refueling over Afghanistan. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/20/AR201012...