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Afghanistan


The Sky as it Falls

By Kathy Kelly

Kabul--For the Afghan Peace Volunteers, living in a working class area of Kabul’s “Karte Seh” district, daily problem-solving requires a triage process.

Last week, upon arrival, I looked at the sagging ceilings over the kitchen, living room and entryway and felt certain that shifting to new living quarters should be the top priority. The following evening, tremors caused by a small local earthquake sent me running out of the house to interrupt a game of volleyball all the others were playing, but cooler heads prevailed and the game continued – what else was there to do? I stayed outside to watch. Later, we talked about the inevitable need to make a move away from our dangerous dwelling and do it soon, so now the daily schedule includes scouring the neighborhood for a new home with comparable space and rent.

Peace needs a chance

72% of Americans and 25% of Congress Members Say: Get Out of Afghanistan!

 

CNN/ORC Poll. March 24-25, 2012. N=1,014 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.

             

"Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?"

 
    Favor Oppose Unsure    
    % % %    
 

3/24-25/12

25 72 3

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 485
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)


      H R 5856      RECORDED VOTE      18-Jul-2012      10:25 PM
      AUTHOR(S):  Second Lee of California Amendment
      QUESTION:  On Agreeing to the Amendment
 


  Ayes Noes PRES NV
Republican 8 230   2
Democratic 99 82   10
Independent        
TOTALS 107 312   12


Are Drones Moral Killing Machines? NY Times National Security Journalist Says Yes

 

By Dave Lindorff


Are weaponized drone aircraft more moral than the more traditional killing machines used in warfare? In an opinion published in Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s national security reporter, Scott Shane, argues that they are.


Countering the U.S./NATO Narrative About "Protecting" Afghan Women

Just as I was writing this post came word that a regional head of women's affairs in Afghanistan had been assassinated.

Tokyo Conference Fails, Ensures Civil War in Afghanistan

Karzai promises to fight corruption, but what about NATO?

'Bye-bye, Miss American Pie' – then US helicopter appears to fire on Afghans

 

Video released on internet appears to show US helicopter crew singing before blasting Afghans with a missile

Link to this video

A video has surfaced online that appears to show a US helicopter crew singing "Bye-bye Miss American Pie" before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile.

The footage comes in the wake of a string of damaging videos and pictures showing US forces in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of dead insurgents, and posing with the remains of suicide bombers and civilians killed for sport by a group of rogue soldiers.

If it is proved to be authentic, it could further undermine the image of foreign forces in a country where there is already deep resentment owing to civilian deaths and a perception among many Afghans that US troops lack respect for Afghan culture and people.

The posting says the video was recorded in Wardak province, which lies south-west of the capital, Kabul, in September 2009. The caption refers sarcastically to a group of "innocent farmers planting poppy seeds in the middle of the road".

Men spotted digging in Afghan roads by the US or other foreign forces are likely to fall under suspicion that they are insurgents burying home-made bombs, one of the Taliban's main weapons.

If the US military is confident it has identified them as insurgents, bombs are sometimes used to kill them, although Afghan officials have accused troops in the past of killing farmers and people working on irrigation ditches when they thought they were targeting people laying bombs.

In the video, after the bomb appears to hit the group, survivors scatter, and the helicopter aims machine gun fire at them.

"We're aware of the video that was posted that appears to be a recording of an Isaf aircraft engagement in Wardak," said Martin Crighton, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan.

"Unfortunately the video does not appear to have a date stamp on it to allow us to put it in an immediate context. However any impression of impropriety on the video is not representative of the professional service members who make up the Isaf coalition."

In April, the Los Angeles Times published pictures that appeared to show American soldiers posing with the bodies of dead Afghans in the south of the country, and the US president, Barack Obama, called for an investigation.

That came after several damaging months for the US military in Afghanistan that heavily undermined trust in their conduct and motives.

In March a US soldier killed 16 civilians on a solo night-time shooting rampage. Deadly violence erupted in February over the burning of copies of the Qur'an by US troops. In January a video surfaced of marines apparently urinating on Taliban corpses, and last year a group were tried for murdering three Afghan civilians for sport.

Pakistan reopens NATO supply routes to Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani leaders on Tuesday ended a seven-month blockade on Afghanistan-bound NATO supply routes through their country, a long-awaited move that hinged on Washington's acquiescence to Islamabad's demand for an apology for the deaths of two dozen Pakistani soldiers killed by errant U.S. airstrikes last fall.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she had called her Pakistani counterpart, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on Tuesday and issued an apology for the soldiers' deaths: "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again."

READ THE REST AT L.A. TIMES.

Assange in Trouble, Drones in Afghanistan, and Obama's Past Ties to the CIA

The Anti-Empire Report

Julian Assange

I'm sure most Americans are mighty proud of the fact that Julian Assange is so frightened of falling into the custody of the United States that he had to seek sanctuary in the embassy of Ecuador, a tiny and poor Third World country, without any way of knowing how it would turn out. He might be forced to be there for years. "That'll teach him to mess with the most powerful country in the world! All you other terrorists and anti-Americans out there — Take Note! When you fuck around with God's country you pay a price!"

How true. You do pay a price. Ask the people of Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, etc., etc., etc. And ask the people of Guantánamo, Diego Garcia, Bagram, and a dozen other torture centers to which God's country offers free transportation.

You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to torture Assange if they got hold of him? Ask Bradley Manning. At a bare minimum, prolonged solitary confinement is torture. Before too long the world may ban it. Not that that would keep God's country and other police states from using it.

You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to target Assange with a drone? They've done it with American citizens. Assange is a mere Aussie.

And Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, will pay a price. You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not intervene in Ecuador? In Latin America, it comes very naturally for Washington. During the Cold War it was said that the United States could cause the downfall of a government south of the border ... with a frown. The dissolution of the Soviet Union didn't bring any change in that because it was never the Soviet Union per se that the United States was fighting. It was the threat of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model.

U.S. building Afghanistan a huge $92 million military headquarters, because food, water, sanitation just not very important

KABUL -- The United States is spending $92 million to build Afghanistan a new "Pentagon," a massive five-story military headquarters with domed roofs and a high-tech basement command center that will link Afghan generals with their troops fighting the Taliban nationwide. ...

...

Rising amid Kabul's dusty streets, the 516,000-square-foot building, still cloaked in scaffolds and cranes, dwarfs other buildings in town.

"Once it's finished, it will be a permanent and a very significant illustration of the U.S. support for Afghanistan," Wardak said in an interview.

Even with American troops beginning their withdrawal, the U.S. government is still working its way through a $10 billion menu of construction projects.

Of the 1,150 buildings planned, more than 600 have been completed, with a total value of $4 billion.

Tab for alternate Afghan supply route hits $2.1 billion

Source.

Pakistan's refusal to let NATO access its ports and roads into Afghanistan has cost the Pentagon more than $2.1 billion in extra transportation costs to move supplies and equipment in and out of the country

Seeking a Visa for Dr. Wee Teck Young

 

by Kathy Kelly

June 30, 2012

“We love you!” 

“Stay Out!”  

Yesterday, Americans sent two very important and very different communications to our friend Dr. Wee Teck Young, a Singaporean physician and activist who lives and works in Kabul, Afghanistan.  The “We love you!” was a press release announcing that the
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) had awarded him their “International Pfeffer Peace Prize” in recognition of his contributions to peace working with dedicated young Afghans in Kabul. The “Stay out!” was from the American government, refusing him a visa to enter the United States with these young people, in the furtherance of this work.  It seems all too likely that the actions and choices which have earned him his well-deserved award are the same factors that persuaded U.S. consular officials to deny him entry to the United States.  The question is whether we can be a voice to affirm that his work, and the work of the young Afghans working with him, has value in the United States, where awareness of the costs of war, and of the lives of ordinary Afghans, is desperately needed. 

One Nobel Laureate Blasts Another -- And They’re Both Americans

 

By Dave Lindorff


There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.


Drones of Love

 

By Gary Lindorff

 

Let us bomb your neighborhood,

Let us target your neighbor

Out of our love and concern –

 

Not you, not your children.

Drones of love!

 

Won’t you love us

After the dust settles?

After the evil has been exploded?

After the crater in the market-place

Has been filled in and paved

We will explode our way into your hearts!

 

We might miss our intended target;

The Vietnam War and the Struggle For Truth

 

By John Grant


Vietnam, a story of virtually unmitigated disasters that we have inflicted on ourselves and even more on others.

           -Bernard Brodie, 1973
 

In 10 years security conditions have worsened for Afghan women

Tree nursery worker, Surkhrud --  Source: AfghanistanSamsortya.o

by Dr. Mariam Raqib 

Amnesty's Shilling for US-NATO Wars

By Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley

The new Executive Director of Amnesty International USA – Suzanne Nossel – is a recent U.S. government insider. So it’s a safe bet that AI’s decision to seize upon a topic that dovetailed with American foreign policy interests, “women’s rights in Afghanistan,” at the NATO Conference last month in Chicago came directly from her.

Nossel was hired by AI in January 2012. In her early career, Nossel worked for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke under the Clinton Administration at the United Nations. Most recently, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for multilateral human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, public diplomacy, press and congressional relations.

TOP UK AWARD GOES TO JOURNALIST WHO EXPOSED SECRETS OF AFGHANISTAN WAR

Gareth Porter, the Washington-based journalist, has won the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism for 2012 for his investigation of US ‘killing strategy’ in Afghanistan, including the targeting of people through their mobile phones.

The judges said: ‘In a series of extraordinary articles, Gareth Porter has torn away the facades of the Obama administration and disclosed a military strategy that amounts to a war against civilians.’

The Martha Gellhorn Prize is given in honour of one of the 20th century’s greatest reporters and is awarded to a journalist ‘whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or “official drivel”, as Martha Gellhorn called it’.

Previous winners include Robert Fisk of the Independent, Nick Davies of the Guardian, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and the late Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times (special award).

“Buddy, Please Put Your Hood.”

By Buddy Bell

Once I did put it on, Omar motioned for me to push back some loose strands of hair still visible outside my hooded sweatshirt. Long-haired men, though a typical sight in some regions of Afghanistan, are apparently not very common in Kabul. Covered up to his satisfaction, I followed close behind as we made our second attempt to enter the university through a second gate. We slipped handily past the guardpost, and made our way into the men’s dormitory.

Omar had been visiting the community house of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, where I was a guest and partner organizer through my role as co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. In an effort to improve human conditions in Afghanistan, he is starting to build bridges between the APVs and his university classmates. It was his fifth visit to the house when he met me and offered to bring me to meet some of them.

I agreed to go with him, partly because it is a place where not many foreigners are able to go, but also because I understood he was taking some personal risks by making this invitation. In some cases in the past, congregating with foreigners on campus has been grounds for questioning by agents of the National Directorate of Security. In a country where university students expect to face a real unemployment rate between 50 and 70 percent, it shouldn’t be surprising that Afghanistan’s unpopular government would want to keep a tight lid on this potential hotbed of dissent.

As I stepped into a dorm room that in the U.S. would house 2 students, I encountered 6 bunks jammed in along 2 walls, two bureau closets and a window ledge, where a propane burner was heating water for tea. Upon learning I was a visitor from the United States, several of the students did not hesitate to practice their English and to ask me about life in the United States, what do I think about Afghanistan, and why did I come.

I told them I wanted to hear their opinions about U.S. policy in Afghanistan, in order that the U.S. public might learn what is important to Afghans. Partly as a joke, I asked if they expected the U.S. to honor its own Enduring Strategic Protection Agreement, which in article IV calls on all nations to “refrain from interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and democratic processes.”

They told me that the president, Hamid Karzai, is widely believed to remain in office only because U.S. money and manipulation fixed it that way. “The politicians take the money from the United States, and they put it right here,” said a student who gestured to his front shirt pocket. “A lot of things are improving with U.S. money, but it is not what is possible.”

“Almost all the parliamentarians, they were warlords before,” said another student. “Isn’t Karzai a former warlord, too?” I asked. “Yes, he was part of the Taliban.” I learned that the governors of each of Afghanistan’s provinces are all appointees selected by Karzai. One student suggested that instituting “federalism” would allow each province to hold their own elections and manage some of their own affairs, raising the level of democracy on the local level.

As the night went on, I visited room after room, putting my hood on each time I walked through the hallways, at one point taking a shortcut through a kitchen to avoid passing the guardpost in front. Before the night was over I might have had 10 cups of tea and 2 dinners, served on a mat on the floor of the cramped dorm room with everyone sitting around it.

Many of the students expressed their fear that a U.S. withdrawal would result in the Taliban coming back into Kabul, but they were also cognizant that the U.S. presence itself and the barbarity of many of the U.S. soldiers has been causing the resurgence of the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami. Some of the students also brought up the fact that a U.S. presence depends on supplies coming through Pakistan, which depends on the U.S. paying off their old ISI friends, who then funnel that money back to warlords of the Haqqani network.

Later, I asked one student that if he believes U.S. troops must remain in Afghanistan as a deterrent to the Taliban, does that mean he believes the U.S. must carry out offensive maneuvers such as bombing from the air. “Of course not,” he said. “No one accepts that.” “This is the problem. They have to stop thinking ten hundred Afghan people’s lives equal one American person’s life. If they cannot guarantee the life of the Afghan people, they have no right to do the bombings or the night operations.”

The electricity went out every few hours; we continued the conversation by flashlight until it came back on. At around 2am, I was provided a space to sleep on the floor. In the morning there was another communal meal with the dorm mates before Omar and a few of his friends took me for a short walk through campus, out the main gate and back home. A goodbye from one of them still echoes in my head: “I want that you write all the truth you have seen in Afghanistan.”

The names of all people included in this article have been changed or omitted in concern for their safety.

Buddy Bell (buddy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence  www.vcnv.org

U.S. Soldier Abandoned Afghanistan War Effort, Ashamed of Lies and of Even Being American

"The future is too good to waste on lies," Bowe wrote. "And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be american. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting."

From:

America's Last Prisoner of War

Three years ago, a 23-year-old soldier walked off his base in Afghanistan and into the hands of the Taliban. Now he’s a crucial pawn in negotiations to end the war. Will the Pentagon leave a man behind?

 

Afghan Children Dead After US Air Assault: Report

NATO says only two light injuries to civilians during operation in Logar province, but local official reports at least 17 killed

- Common Dreams staff

17 civilians have been killed in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, according to a local official in Logar province.

Out to the Wall

By Kathy Kelly

“On the last day of summer, ten hours before fall …

… my grandfather took me out to the wall.”

Kabul--When we arrived at the museum, two legless men wheeled themselves past us, traveling in wooden carts operated by a hand held steering device.  Inside Kabul’s OMAR museum, which houses ordnance and land mines used in Afghanistan over four decades of warfare, there were many more pictures of  legless, armless and eyeless survivors of  land mine explosions lining the walls.  The  OMAR organization  bravely collects and defuses abandoned mines and cluster bomblets before they can produce more casualties such as these (and casualties that are far, far worse) among men, women, and children in Afghanistan.

Have Afghan women made "progress" under NATO?

Amnesty International ran ads and sent a letter signed by Madeline Albright supporting the absurd claim signed by the heads of state at the NATO summit in Chicago: “In the ten years of our partnership the lives of Afghan men, women and children, have improved significantly in terms of security, education, health care, economic opportunity and the assurance of rights and freedoms. There is more to be done, but we are resolved to work together to preserve the substantial progress we have made during the past decade.”

Recent facts to the contrary include:

A Killer In the White House

 

By John Grant


“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now. I sentence you to death.”
The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step.
“How c-could you?” she gasped.
“It was easy.”
- Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury


Why does Congress refuse to even ask the right questions about Afghanistan?

By Nieman Watchdog

No congressional committee appears the least bit interested in what he has to say, but Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis --who earlier this year decided to blow the whistle on the false and intentionally misleading happy-talk the American public is hearing from the top brass about Afghanistan -- had a chance to speak his mind at a press conference on Thursday, May 31, hosted by bipartisan anti-war Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and others.

Following is the slightly edited prepared text of his remarks:

Operation Enduring Freedom: a civilian’s view

By Ian Pounds

Obama’s Empire

One thing true we can say about war is that truth is its greatest casualty.

I am a volunteer teacher. Four years ago I responded to a call from then candidate Barak Obama for a new kind of soldier to wage peace, one without a uniform, without a gun. On the three-year anniversary of my moving in with the orphans here in Afghanistan, I listened to gun battle and explosions in my Kabul neighborhood for ten hours through the night and into the morning. While CNN reported the insurgency event had ended I shook my head. “Nope,” I muttered to myself, listening to stray bullets fly over my room.

Army Whistleblower to Provide Analysis of America’s War in Afghanistan at Capitol Hill Press Conference

Members of Congress to Receive Testimony from Army Whistleblower, Experts at Panel Discussion

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), and other Members of the House will hold a press conference in support of expedited withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 2 p.m. EST. The press conference will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, who will provide an analysis of the situation in Afghanistan that is vastly different than the one received by Congress from the Obama Administration. Lt. Col. Davis will also speak at the press conference.

One week after the NATO announcement on Afghanistan, the American people are still waiting for Congress to catch up and bring about an end to war in Afghanistan. Members of the House directed a request to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that Lt. Col. Danny be invited to testify in a relevant hearing. Since no invitation has been forthcoming, the Members will be receiving the testimony of Lt. Col. Danny Davis at a panel discussion.

WHO: Danny Davis, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Ria Dellewar, Director, Afghanistan Study Group

Malou Innocent, Foreign Policy Analyst, Cato Institute

MEMBERS: U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)

U.S. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL)

U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)

U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

WHAT: Press Conference and Panel Discussion

WHEN: Thursday, May 31, 2012

TIME: Press conference begins at 2 p.m. EST

Panel Discussion held from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EST

WHERE: B-318 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C.

MEDIA: Please RSVP to Kristal DeKleer (202) 225-1882 or kristal.dekleer at mail.house.gov

###

This Memorial Day Let’s Start Caring for Our Nation’s Veterans: No More Ducking the Real Cost of US Wars!

 

By Dave Lindorff


Whether he ever said it or not, I’m going to borrow from a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and alter it a bit to say: “American politicians must love war veterans -- they keep making so many more of them.”


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