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Afghanistan War Weekly: August 22, 2010
As a US military victory is not possible in Afghanistan, will/can the United States ever leave? Could the US withdraw its troops from Afghanistan before the 2012 presidential election without fatally damaging the Democrats? Would/will the Democrats risk the consequences of withdrawal without victory? The current US pseudo-exit from Iraq might suggest a possible scenario. Yet the differences between today’s Iraq and tomorrow’s Afghanistan are very large. Unlike conditions in Iraq, it is unimaginable that the US-supported Karzai government will control most of the country’s territory, establish a more-or-less “legitimate” government, or have institutions such as an army, police force, and civilian bureaucracy that can actually run the country. A “conditions-based” exit strategy means that we will be in Afghanistan forever. Increasing public awareness that “the war is lost” may be our most practical antiwar strategy. Comments?
Conditions in Pakistan are almost unimaginable. Beyond the immense human suffering (now with 20 million affected), there is a growing literature analyzing the possibilities for Pakistan’s social breakdown, increased military control, and/or the disruption of Pakistan’s many roles (US ally, Taliban supporter, broker of negotiations, etc.) in the war in Afghanistan. I’ve pasted in a sampling of this literature below. NB especially the striking essay about the diversion of floodwaters away from an airfield used by the United States, thus inundating thousands of homes in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s poorest province.
Among the essays/stories pasted in below, I especially recommend John Pilger’s essay on WikiLeaks; the short film that “visualizes” WikiLeaks’ “incidents” at the rate of 10 days per second since 2004; and articles about President Karzai’s order disbanding private security guards in 2011, preparations for “fixing” the September parliamentary elections, Taliban attacks against “soft” targets essential to the Occupation, such as Afghan police and private security guards, and the interesting essay from the province of Heart on the “re-defection” who were disappointed by unkept promises that originally induced them to rally to the government. Finally, an article from Voices for Creative Nonviolence gives us a round up of civilian casualty atrocities in recent months.
I would appreciate receiving suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is email@example.com. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the websites of United for Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).
----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
The US Has Lost in Afghanistan -- We Have to Come to Grips with What That Means
By Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus [August 21, 2010]
---- Wars are rarely lost in a single encounter; Defeat is almost always more complex than that. The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have lost the war in Afghanistan, but not just because they failed in the battle for Marjah or decided that discretion was the better part of valor in Kandahar. They lost the war because they should never have invaded in the first place; because they never had a goal that was achievable; because their blood and capital are finite. The face of that defeat was everywhere this past month. But “defeat” does not mean the war is over. Indeed, the moment when it becomes obvious that victory is no longer an option can be the most dangerous time in a conflict’s history. http://www.alternet.org/story/147860/
Disaster Strikes the Indus River Valley
From the Editors, Middle East Research [August 17, 2010]
---- The flooding of most of the Indus River valley in Pakistan has the makings of a history-altering catastrophe. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 20 million Pakistanis are in dire need, many of them homeless or displaced, others cut off from help by fallen bridges and submerged highways, untold numbers lacking supplies of food and potable water. In the August heat, waterborne disease is a mortal peril, especially to children, 3.5 million of whom are said to be vulnerable. … The official death toll stands at 1,600, and will surely rise, as the crises of housing, sickness, hunger and thirst begin to take insidious root. Much of the internal refugee flight is double displacement, as two of the regions worst affected, the Northwest Frontier Province and Balochistan, are beset with chronic warfare between local guerrillas and the government that has emptied whole villages. Every single bridge in the mountainous Swat district, site of several army offensives against the Pakistan Taliban, has been swept away. http://www.merip.org/mero/mero081710.html
(Video) Malalai & Matthis - 6 minutes
From AWG member Elsa Rassbach, Germany
---- Dear AWG Friends, Here's a little film I've made from material shot with Malalai Joya and Matthis Chiroux at the NATO demonstration in Strasbourg last year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEcWCFhw3H0
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
National Security Moderates Propose Two-Year Afghan Withdrawal
DateFrom TomHayden.com [August 18, 2010]
---- A group of moderate national security professionals is proposing a two-year phased withdrawal from Afghanistan. The phase-out would reduce US troops from 100,000 to 68,000 by October 2011, and by another 30,000 in July 2012. The phase-out proposal, made by an expert panel of the New America Foundation, puts pressure on the Obama administration to keep its pledge to begin withdrawals in July of next year. The military, led by Gen. David Petraeus, is waging a public relations campaign to delay the pledged withdrawals. http://tomhayden.com/the-peace-exchange/2010/8/18/national-security-mode...
Blackwater Reaches Deal on U.S. Export Violations
By James Risen, New York Times [August 21, 2010]
---- The private security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide, long plagued by accusations of impropriety, has reached an agreement with the State Department for the company to pay $42 million in fines for hundreds of violations of United States export control regulations… By paying fines rather than facing criminal charges on the export violations, Blackwater will be able to continue to obtain government contracts. While the company lost its largest federal contract last year to provide diplomatic security for United States Embassy personnel in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government was incensed by killings of Iraqis in one highly publicized case, it still has contracts to provide security for the State Department and the C.I.A. in Afghanistan. In June, the State Department awarded Blackwater a $120 million contract to provide security at its regional offices in Afghanistan, while the C.I.A. renewed the firm’s $100 million security contract for its station in Kabul. At the time, the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, defended the decision, saying that the company had offered the lowest bid and had “cleaned up its act.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/21/world/21blackwater.html?ref=world
Tom Tomorrow | This Modern World
Political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow on "Taking Afghanistan Seriously." Read the Comic
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- Sixty-six US soldiers were killed in July, the highest monthly total since the war began. 27 US soldiers and 14 soldiers from other Coalition countries have been killed so far in August. This brings the total US deaths in Afghanistan to 1,241, and the total Coalition deaths to 2,019. The number of US soldiers wounded in June 2010 (the last month for which complete information is available) was 517, bringing the total since the war began to 4,742. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org.
The Cost of the War
According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $326 billion, and the total for both wars is $1.069 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
Linked below are several recent polls about US public opinion. A useful website that lists and links major public opinion polls about the war is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...
---- According to a new poll from Angus Reid, 47 percent of Americans support the mission in Afghanistan, down from 54 percent in February of this year. More than half (52 percent) of respondents said they had no "clear idea" what the war was about and 65 percent are not confident that President Obama will "finish the job." [http://bit.ly/9DDAsq] In response to this question, “Overall, do you support or oppose the military operation involving American soldiers in Afghanistan?” the results are:
[FB – Looking at the detailed numbers, while the shift in opinion has been toward opposition and away from supporting the war, the shift is very small over the past 12 months. Interesting to me: there is little difference in regional attitudes toward the war. That is, the “South” is not more pro-war than other sections of the country.]
---- An NBC/Wall Street Journal Survey shows a public growing increasingly pessimistic about the Obama Administration’s handling of a number of issues, including a major rise in opposition to the Afghan War. Confidence is now plummeting, with 68% saying they feel “less confidence” about whether the war will reach a successful conclusion. Perhaps even more importantly, for the first time yet, the poll shows, the American public generally disapproves of the president’s handling of the Afghan War. The 44%-45% opposition was a stark drop in popularity of the war from five months ago, when they generally approved 53%-35%. The poll further showed an extremely pessimistic attitude on Afghanistan, with only 10% of Americans having a positive attitude compared to 58% having a negative attitude. Only Pakistan fared worse in the poll, with a 4%-61% result. Jason Ditz, “Poll Shows Rising Public Opposition to Afghan War, Antiwar.com [August 12, 2010] http://news.antiwar.com/2010/08/12/poll-shows-rising-public-opposition-t...
---- According to survey released on 16th July by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) think-tank, 68 percent of Afghans say NATO forces do not protect them, as 75 percent believe foreigners disrespect their religion and traditions. http://zakiraah.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/afghans-dont-want-foreign-troop...
Opposition to Afghanistan conflict not just a liberal issue anymore
By Sean J. Miller, The Hill [August 20, 2010]
---- Opposition to the war in Afghanistan, once a mainstay of liberals, is no longer a partisan campaign issue. A majority of voters want the conflict to end quickly – no matter their party affiliation, according to recent polls. And Senate candidates on both sides of the aisle say they support that goal. A record number of respondents in the latest CNN poll, 62 percent, said they opposed the war there. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/115111-opposition-to-afghan-conflict-no...
See also: “Poll: Opposition to Iraq, Afghanistan wars reach all time high” [August 17th, 2010] http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/17/poll-opposition-to-iraq-... and Glen Johnson, “Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose war in Afghanistan,” Associated Press [August 17, 2010].
Afghanistan Index: Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan
Ian S. Livingston, Heather L. Messera, and Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings [July 31, 2010]
---- The index is based primarily on U.S. government, Afghan government and NATO data. http://www.brookings.edu/foreign-policy/afghanistan-index.aspx
MORE ON WIKILEAKS
Why WikiLeaks Must Be Protected
By John Pilger, t r u t h o u t [August 20, 2010]
----The WikiLeaks revelations shame the dominant section of journalism devoted merely to taking down what cynical and malign power tells it. This is state stenography, not journalism. Look on the WikiLeaks site and read a Ministry of Defense document that describes the "threat" of real journalism. And so it should be a threat. Having published skillfully the WikiLeaks expose of a fraudulent war, The Guardian should now give its most powerful and unreserved editorial support to the protection of Assange and his colleagues, whose truth telling is as important as any in my lifetime. I like Assange's dust-dry wit. When I asked him if it was more difficult to publish secret information in Britain, he replied, "When we look at Official Secrets Act labelled documents we see that they state it is offence to retain the information and an offence to destroy the information. So the only possible outcome we have is to publish the information." http://www.truth-out.org/why-wikileaks-must-be-protected62462
(Video) Visualizing the Wikileaks War Logs
By Nick Bilton, New York Times [August 18, 2010]
---- The programmers describe the map as follows: The intensity of the heat map represents the number of events logged. The color range is from 0 to 60+ events over a one-month window. We cap the color range at 60 events so that low intensity activity involving just a handful of events can be seen — in lots of cases there are many more than 60 events in one particular region. The heat map is constructed for every day in the period from 2004-2009, and the movie runs at 10 days per second. The orange lines represent the major roads in Afghanistan, and the black outlines are the individual administrative regions. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/visualizing-the-wikileaks-war-l...
THE WAR IN KABUL
Kabul defiant on private security firms despite fears
From Agence France Press [August 19, 2010]
---- The Afghan government is standing firm on its plan to disband all private security firms despite widespread concerns that the four-month deadline is too tight and could ultimately be self-defeating. President Hamid Karzai’s decree, issued on Tuesday, ordered the 52 private security contractors operating in the country, both Afghan and international, to cease operations by January 1, 2011. Around 26,000 registered armed personnel are employed across Afghanistan by the firms, roughly half of which are Afghan, authorities say, though a former deputy interior minister said there could be as many as 50,000. General Abdul Hadi Khaled said the Afghan police force would not be ready to take on the security firms’ responsibilities for two or three years. http://www.khaleejtimes.ae/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/international...
Karzai aide part of wider investigation, Afghan officials say
By Joshua Partlow and David Nakamura, Washington Post [August 19, 2010]
---- A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai, arrested last month on charges of soliciting a bribe, was also under investigation for allegedly providing luxury vehicles and cash to presidential allies and over telephone contacts with Taliban insurgents, according to Afghan officials familiar with the case. The Afghan officials also said that it had been Karzai himself who intervened to win the quick release of the aide, Mohammad Zia Salehi, even after the arrest had been personally approved by the country's attorney general. The new account suggests that the corruption case against Salehi was wider than previously known and that Karzai acted directly to secure his aide's release. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/19/AR201008...
(Video) Riz Khan - Women's rights in Afghanistan
From AlJazeeraEnglish [August 19, 2010] – 23 minutes
---- Has the plight of Afghan women improved and what will happen when the US leaves? http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/31/0eVYdF9o6ak
See also: Andrew E. Kramer, “Russia Pushes to Increase Afghanistan Business Ties, New York Times [August 19, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/world/europe/19russia.html?ref=world; Alex Morales and Francesca Angelini, “Afghanistan's Food Supply Is Least Secure in 163-Nation Ranking” Bloomberg News [August 19, 2010] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-18/afghanistan-s-food-supply-is-th... and Carlotta Gall, “New Afghan Intelligence Chief Aims to Build Trust,” New York Times [August 20, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/world/asia/20intel.html?pagewanted=1&r...
Elections for Parliament, September 18th
Afghanistan election fraud fears force 900 polling stations to stay shut
By Jon Boone, The Guardian [UK] [August 17, 2010]
---- Electoral officials in Afghanistan have decided not to open nearly 900 polling stations in the most violent areas of the country for next month's parliamentary election, in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the massive fraud that wrecked last year's presidential contest. Despite worries about disenfranchising large numbers of voters, the country's independent election commission is expected to announce tomorrow that it has been forced to abandon initial plans to open 6,835 polling centres, after Afghan security chiefs and Nato commanders decreed that parts of the country are too dangerous for voting to take place. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/17/afghanistan-election-polling...
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Sen. Kerry: 'Very active' efforts under way to reach settlement with Taliban
By Jordan Fabian, The Hill [August 20, 2010]
---- Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Friday that there is a "very active" effort under way to reach a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Kerry (D-Mass.) acknowledged that "efforts" have begun after visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan this week, meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials. … The beginning of settlement negotiations represents a significant development in terms of Western involvement there. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/115239-kerry-very-activ...
Taliban call for joint inquiry into civilian Afghan deaths considered
By Jon Boone, The Guardian [UK] [August 16, 2010]
---- Nato and the United Nations are cautiously considering a Taliban proposal to set up a joint commission to investigate allegations of civilians being killed and wounded in the conflict in Afghanistan, diplomats in Kabul have told the Guardian. The Taliban overture, which came in a statement posted on its website, will revive a divisive debate about whether to conduct any formal talks with insurgents who are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and whose assassination campaign now kills one person a day on average. The Taliban statement called for the establishment of a body including members from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, UN human rights investigators, Nato and the Taliban. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/16/taliban-afghan-civilian-deat...
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMED FORCES
Taliban Intensify Attacks Against Afghan Police
By Rod Nordland, New York Times [August 22, 2010]
---- A Taliban campaign focusing on the Afghan police appears to have intensified in recent days, with five attacks reported Saturday in which at least 15 policemen were killed throughout the country. Three of the policemen died in a NATO airstrike. The latest casualties were in addition to a Taliban massacre of private security guards in Helmand Province on Friday morning, in which the death toll has now risen to 25; the poisonings of six policemen in Kandahar Province on Monday, reportedly by a cook who defected to the Taliban; and the suicide bombing deaths of four policemen, including a district commander, in Kandahar Province on Wednesday. Afghanistan’s police officers have long had the largest share of casualties on the government side of the conflict, with 646 policemen killed in 2009, compared with 412 foreign coalition troops and 282 Afghan National Army soldiers, according to figures compiled by Brookings Afghanistan Index. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/world/asia/22afghan.html?_r=1
Afghanistan recruits Iraq-style militia force
By Sardar Ahmad, Agence France Press [August 18, 2010]
---- President Hamid Karzai last month approved the establishment of what his administration calls a "Local Police Force," recruited from Afghan villagers in a bid to guard against Taliban attacks in their communities. …Once fully in theatre, the force would number about 10,000 men who would undergo three weeks of training in their villages by Afghan trainers, he said. US media have reported that Petraeus had been pushing for the establishment of Iraq-style tribal militias to fight Taliban-linked militants in remote Afghan villages. The militias were mooted as long ago as late 2008…. Karzai at that time was opposed to the "community guards," as they were called, telling one US newspaper that they would contribute to "ruining this country further". http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iX-bBXX7I26UK8sxNxvr6...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
The Secret Killers: Assassination in Afghanistan and Task Force 373
By Pratap Chatterjee, TomDispatch [August 19, 2010]
---- The details of dozens of their specific operations -- and how they regularly went badly wrong -- have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret U.S. military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest. Representing a form of U.S. covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by U.S. reconstruction projects. The Wikileaks data suggests that as many as 2,058 people on a secret hit list called the "Joint Prioritized Effects List" (JPEL) were considered "capture/kill" targets in Afghanistan. A total of 757 prisoners -- most likely from this list -- were being held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (BTIF), a U.S.-run prison on Bagram Air Base as of the end of December 2009. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/19-8
July airstrike total is 2nd highest of year
By Bruce Rolfsen, Air Force Times [Aug 19, 2010]
---- Fewer air strikes flew over Afghanistan in July than in June, but the monthly total is still the second highest of the year, according to new data from Air Forces Central Command. Air Force, Navy and other coalition warplanes had 400 weapon releases in July. That’s down from 500 in June, the highest so far in 2010. Those releases include bomb drops, strafing runs and missile strikes. The numbers don’t include attacks flown by helicopters, special operations gunships and many Marine Corps fighters. Among the factors leading to fewer air attacks are restrictions on ground troops and aircrews requiring confirmed identification of enemy fighters and avoiding civilian deaths. http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2010/08/airforce-july-airstrikes-in-af...
In Afghanistan, bomb attacks hit high in July
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today [August 19, 2010]
---- Makeshift-bomb attacks in July wounded a record number of U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, and experts say even more would have died without widespread use of armored vehicles. More than 1,300 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were detonated or defused in July — a new record, said the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). That's a 42% increase over July 2009. In July 2010, IEDs wounded 399 service members — a 68% increase — and killed 53. More troops are surviving blasts in part because of the substantial increase in the number of armored trucks designed to help troops survive bomb blasts, said John Pike, a military analyst at Globalsecurity.org. "We continue to create a target-rich environment for the enemy," Pike said. "We're having more IED casualties because we have more troops in harm's way. And the Taliban are not growing any weaker." http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-08-19-ied19_ST_N.htm
Drones Surge, Special Ops Strike in Petraeus Campaign Plan
By Spencer Ackerman, Wired [August 18, 2010]
---- Ever since the Afghanistan war became a counterinsurgency fight, critics have charged that commanders’ cautions about using force only inhibit the fight against the Taliban. But in the shadows, NATO Special Operations Forces are engaged in an intensely lethal war of their own. According to information provided to Danger Room by Gen. David Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, in just the past 90 days these elite units have captured or killed 365 militant leaders, detained 1,335 insurgent foot soldiers and killed another 1,031 insurgents on top of that. Yes, some units once engaged in armed coercion have de-emphasized taking direct action against insurgent bombers. But the rough stuff against the networks that create improvised explosive devices has been part of the special forces’ hot summer. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/petraeus-campaign-plan/#ixzz0xLD...
General David Petraeus: The Danger Room Interview
By Spencer Ackerman, Wired [August 18, 2010]
IS “PACIFICATION” WORKING?
Afghan Former Militants Rejoin Insurgency
By Zia Ahmadi, Afghanistan Recovery Report #368 [August 8, 2010]
---- Taleban in Herat: Many of those who've laid down their weapons are now back in insurgent ranks because they say the government has renaged on aid pledges. Militants in Herat province of Afghanistan who laid down their weapons in response to government offers of aid and amnesty are rejoining the insurgency after officials failed to deliver on their promises. A senior security official told IWPR that about half the 1,000 militants who had surrendered in the last year were now back fighting against the government. …In a telephone interview with IWPR, Nur Gul, a Taleban commander who surrendered with his 20 armed men last October, said none of the promises he received beforehand had been translated into action. http://iwpr.net/report-news/afghan-former-militants-rejoin-insurgency
Taliban Attack Afghan Guards in Deadly Raid
By Alissa J. Rubin and Sharifullah Sahak, New York Times [August 20, 2010]
---- Taliban fighters in a rural area near the Helmand River staged an audacious nighttime raid early Thursday, swooping down on several hundred sleeping Afghan private security guards who were securing a road construction project, and killing at least 2. Interviews with security guards who survived the attack, as well as with police officers and village elders, suggested a confluence of factors was to blame: local frustration with the government, a subcontractor who had not hired local villagers for the road project and a vigorous Taliban that has not yet been weakened by Western troops. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/21/world/asia/21afghan.html?ref=world
Atrocities in Afghanistan: A Troubling Timetable *Updated*
From Voices for Creative Nonviolence
---- We should try to imagine the sorrow and horror afflicting each individual whose tragic story is told in the “timetable” of atrocities committed against innocent people. The list below describes, in part, the suffering and agony that people in Afghanistan have endured since April 2009. http://vcnv.org/atrocities-in-afghanistan-a-troubling-timetable-0
Family, U.S. offer differing versions of deadly Afghan raid
Dion Nissenbaum and Hashim Shukoor, McClatchy Newspapers [August 20, 2010]
---- When Ismail Aman set out from Kabul last week to join his family in nearby Wardak province for the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, friends said, his biggest fear was running into Taliban forces who might question his allegiances. Before sunrise the next day, Aman lay bleeding in his family guest room, alongside two of his brothers, all shot dead by U.S. special forces who were on the hunt for a Taliban leader. Their deaths sparked a vitriolic anti-American protest and generated a backlash against the dramatic spike in Special Forces raids, which have become a crucial element of President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan. The number of secretive raids that target anti-Western insurgents has skyrocketed. NATO officials said this week that Special Forces are taking part in 1,000 operations in Afghanistan each month, a threefold increase over last year. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/08/20/99452/family-us-offer-differing-ve...
See also: Alissa J. Rubin, “In Afghanistan, More Attacks on Officials and a Protest Over a Deadly NATO Raid,” New York Times [August 18, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/world/asia/19afghan.html?ref=world
The problem of "population protection"
By Erica Gaston, Foreign Policy [August 11, 2011]
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
U.S. Strategy in Pakistan Is Upended by Floods
By Mark Landler, New York Times [August 18m 2010]
---- The floods in Pakistan have upended the Obama administration’s carefully honed strategy there, confronting the United States with a vast humanitarian crisis and militant groups determined to exploit the misery, in a country that was already one of its thorniest problems. While the administration has kept its public emphasis on the relief effort, senior officials are busy assessing the longer-term strategic impact. One official said the disaster would affect virtually every aspect of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and could have ripple effects on the war in Afghanistan and the broader American battle against Al Qaeda. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/world/asia/19diplo.html?hp
Pakistan: Minister tasked with saving US airbase at the cost of the displacement of thousands
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission [August 20, 2010]
---- The diversion of the floodwaters is blamed for inundating hundreds of houses and the displacement of 800,000 people. According to the media reports, the Federal Minister of Sports along with soldiers from the army and a contingent of officials from the Sindh provincial government breached the Jamali Bypass in Jafferabad district of Balochistan province during the night between August 13 and 14 to divert the water entering the airbase which has remained in US Air Force hands since the war on terror started in 2001. http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2010statements/2755/
(Video) UN’s John Holmes: The Magnitude of the Pakistan Floods Is Unprecedented
From Democracy Now [August 17, 2010]
---- The United Nations is warning millions of Pakistanis are at risk of deadly waterborne diseases more than two weeks since Pakistan’s worst-ever flooding began. The World Health Organization says around six million people—over half of them children—face the threat of cholera and dysentery, as well as typhoid and hepatitis. The flooding has killed over 1,600 people and displaced 20 million—nearly 12 percent of Pakistan’s population. We speak to UN Humanitarian Chief John Holmes and Pakistani analyst Mosharraf Zaidi. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/17/un_humanitarian_chief_john_holmes_the
See also: Alex Rodriguez, “Pakistan says militants exploiting flood chaos,” Los Angeles Times [August 20, 2010] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-taliban-201... Nahal Toosi, “Floods expose civilian-military divide in Pakistan,”
Associated Press [August 20, 2010] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100820/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_floods; Chris Brummitt, “Pakistan floods leave ally reeling,” Associated Press [August 21, 2010] http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/08/21/pakistan-floods-leave-ally-reeling/; Brian M. Downing, “How the Pakistan Floods Could Change the War in Afghanistan,” Asia Times [August 21, 2010] http://www.alternet.org/story/147909/; and Aamir Latif, “Security Concerns as Pakistan Floods Persist,” Global Post [August 19, 2010] http://www.truth-out.org/security-concerns-pakistan-floods-persist62483
NATO COUNTRIES AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
British Support for Afghan War Falls
By Greg Scoblete at 6:39 AM
---- According to Angus Reid only 33 percent of UK citizens support the war in Afghanistan while 57 percent oppose it. Support for the mission has fallen since June, when 38 percent of British respondents said they supported the effort. Among the other findings: A majority of Britons (54 percent) believe the country made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan. Less than half of respondents (46 percent) claim to have a clear idea of what the war in Afghanistan is about. http://www.realclearworld.com/blog/2010/08/british_support_for_afghan_wa...
Germany Drops Charges into Kunduz Massacre
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [August 19, 2010]
---- Germany’s Defense Ministry today announced that it is dropping all charges against Col. Georg Klein for ordering the September 4, 2009 air strike in Kunduz which killed over 100 civilians, ruling that the killings were not a crime because they happened during a war. The attack saw the German colonel order US warplanes to destroy a pair of stolen fuel tankers in a riverbed. He assured the US that they had confirmed there were no civilians in the area, but the fireball killed a large number of civilians who were siphoning fuel off of the tankers. A number of top German governmental ministers and army officials were ousted over attempts to lie to the German public about the nature of the Kunduz air strikes, which woke the nation up to the reality their troops were actually fighting a war in Afghanistan. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/08/19/germany-drops-charges-into-kunduz-mas...