Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘afghanistan’

US military deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000

Posted by Admin on October 1, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/us-military-deaths-afghanistan-hit-2-000-063934010.html

By PATRICK QUINN | Associated Press – 3 hrs ago

FILE- In this file photograph made on July 29, 2010, upon landing after a helicopter rescue mission, Tech. Sgt. Jeff Hedglin, right, an Air Force Pararescueman, or PJ, drapes an American flag over the remains of the first of two U.S. soldiers killed minutes earlier in an IED attack, assisted by fellow PJs, Senior Airman Robert Dieguez, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Carlisle, in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have surpassed 2,000, a grim reminder that a war which began nearly 11 years ago shows no signs of slowing down despite an American decision to begin the withdrawal of most of its combat forces. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The killing of an American serviceman in an exchange of fire with allied Afghan soldiers pushed U.S. military deaths in the war to 2,000, a cold reminder of the perils that remain after an 11-year conflict that now garners little public interest at home.

The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies — against American and NATO troops. That has raised troubling questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years.

“The tally is modest by the standards of war historically, but every fatality is a tragedy and 11 years is too long,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “All that is internalized, however, in an American public that has been watching this campaign for a long time. More newsworthy right now are the insider attacks and the sense of hopelessness they convey to many. “

Attacks by Afghan soldiers or police — or insurgents disguised in their uniforms — have killed 52 American and other NATO troops so far this year.

“We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign,” the U.S. military’s top officer, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said about the insider threat.

The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, was blunter.

“I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” Allen told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday. “It reverberates everywhere across the United States. You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”

The insider attacks are considered one of the most serious threats to the U.S. exit strategy from the country. In its latest incarnation, that strategy has focused on training Afghan forces to take over security nationwide — allowing most foreign troops to go home by the end of 2014.

As part of that drawdown, the first 33,000 U.S. troops withdrew by the end of September, leaving 68,000 still in Afghanistan. A decision on how many U.S. troops will remain next year will be taken after the American presidential elections. NATO currently has 108,000 troops in Afghanistan — including U.S. forces — down from nearly 150,000 at its peak last year.

The program to train and equip 350,000 Afghan policemen and soldiers has cost the American taxpayer more than $22 billion in the past three years.

The most recent attack came just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said most U.S. and coalition combat units in Afghanistan returned to their practice of partnering with Afghan forces, nearly two weeks after the top U.S. commander put restrictions on such cooperation.

Like so many other deaths in Afghanistan, the latest were shrouded in confusion and conflicting accounts.

On Sunday, U.S. officials confirmed the deaths of two Americans, a service member and a civilian contractor killed late Saturday.

The fighting started when insurgents attacked a checkpoint set up by U.S. forces in eastern Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman. He said the insurgents apparently used mortars in the attack. The Americans thought they were under attack from their allies at a nearby Afghan army checkpoint and fired on it. The Afghan soldiers returned fire, Shahid said.

The Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said the shooting broke out as a result of a “misunderstanding” while ISAF forces were on patrol near an Afghan army checkpoint.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, commonly referred to as ISAF, gave a different account of the fighting in Sayd Abad district.

“After a short conversation took place between (Afghan army) and ISAF personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague,” the coalition said in a statement. It said the three Afghan soldiers died “in an ensuing exchange of fire.”

NATO did not say whether it considered this an “insider” attack on foreign forces by Afghan allies.

In Washington, Pentagon press secretary George Little said 2,000 deaths is one of the “arbitrary milestones defined by others ” that the U.S. administration does not mark.

“We honor all courageous Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan to make the American people more secure,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that America is safer because of all of those who have served in this war, including our fallen heroes.”

In addition to the 2,000 Americans killed since the Afghan war began on Oct. 7, 2001, at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization that tracks the deaths.

According to the Afghanistan index kept by Brookings, about 40 percent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity. The surge brought the total number of American troops to 101,000, the peak for the entire war.

According to Brookings, hostile fire was the second most common cause of death, accounting for nearly 31 percent of Americans killed.

Tracking deaths of Afghan civilians is much more difficult. According to the U.N., 13,431 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began keeping statistics, and the end of August. Going back to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, most estimates put the number of Afghan civilian deaths in the war at more than 20,000.

In recent years, some of those casualties have generated a great deal of criticism from President Hamid Karzai and changed the way NATO forces carry out airstrikes. The overwhelming majority of civilian casualties are caused by insurgents — with the United Nations blaming them for more than 80 percent of the deaths and NATO putting that figure at more than 90 percent.

The number of American dead reflects an Associated Press count of those members of the armed services killed inside Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion began. Some other news organizations use a count that also includes those killed outside Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the global anti-terror campaign led by then-President George W. Bush.

The 2001 invasion targeted al-Qaida and its Taliban allies shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

Victory in Afghanistan seemed to come quickly. Kabul fell within weeks, and the hardline Taliban regime was toppled with few U.S. casualties.

But the Bush administration’s shift toward war with Iraq left the Western powers without enough resources on the ground, so by 2006 the Taliban had regrouped into a serious military threat.

Obama deployed more troops to Afghanistan, and casualties increased sharply in the last several years. But the American public grew weary of having its military in a perpetual state of conflict, especially after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq at the end of last year. That war, which began with a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, cost the lives of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops, more than twice as many as have died in Afghanistan so far.

Although Obama has pledged that most U.S. combat troops will leave by the end of 2014, American, NATO and allied troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a rate of one a day.

Even with 33,000 American troops back home, the U.S.-led coalition will still have 108,000 troops — including 68,000 from the U.S. — fighting in Afghanistan at the end of this year. Many of those will be training the Afghan National Security Forces that are to replace them.

“There is a challenge for the administration,” O’Hanlon said, “to remind people in the face of such bad news why this campaign requires more perseverance.”

___

Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez in Kabul and researcher Monika Mathour in Washington contributed to this report.

About these ads

Posted in War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

How Have We Become the United States of Fear?

Posted by Admin on December 20, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/how-have-we-become-united-states-fear/1323880893

Thursday 15 December 2011
by: Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview

(Image: Haymarket Books)

Tom Engelhardt‘s “The United Sates of Fear” is yours with a minimum one-time donation of $25, or a monthly commitment of $10 or more to Truthout. If you’re a fan of TomDispatch, this book weaves together Engelhardt’s trenchant and incisive thoughts about America’s declining empire – and how it impacts all aspects of our society.

Mark Karlin: Your last chapter in so many ways embodies what you have covered in TomDispatch, and what is at the core of our crisis of democracy today: imperial decline. When did our American empire begin to implode?

Tom Engelhardt: Well, I have no doubt that, economically speaking, we’ve been losing traction for quite a while on that downhill slope, but a crucial “moment” was certainly Washington’s decision to follow what I call “the Soviet path.” After all, in those last years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the far weaker of the two superpowers, threw money into its military while its deficits rose and its infrastructure crumbled – and of course it got mired in a terrible war, a “bleeding wound,” in Afghanistan. It all sounds eerily familiar, no? Washington’s decision, in its moment of Cold War triumph, to follow essentially the same path and the Bush administration’s wild belief that it could drive U.S. military power unilaterally into the heart of the Greater Middle East and establish a Pax Americana there (the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were only supposed to be the beginning of the process) had a similar effect. Now, of course, we have soaring deficits, rotting infrastructure and unending war in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). It could give you the chills.

MK: How is the instigation of a state of national fear tied into the effort to maintain empire?

TE: I think that the real thing it’s tied into is an effort over this last decade to turn what I call the “national security complex” into America’s growth industry. Fear – of terrorism and nothing else – has been the “drug” that has powered the national security state to heights and a size it never reached when it had a genuine superpower enemy with a nuclear arsenal. Today, the intelligence bureaucracy dwarfs what existed in the Cold War era; the Pentagon budget is so much larger and so on. Give credit where it’s due: it’s been quite a feat based on remarkably little when you think about it.

Truthout doesn’t take corporate funding – this lets us do the brave reporting and analysis that makes us unique. Please support this work by making a tax-deductible donation today – click here to donate.

MK: If 9/11 hadn’t been carried out by al-Qaeda, would it had to have been invented to justify the measures that have been carried out to attempt to maintain America’s military footprint around the world, at such great expense to our society?

TE: It’s a good question that is, of course, impossible to answer. What-if history is fascinating, but always remains what-if. It’s easy to forget, for instance, that in the period before 9/11 the Bush administration had essentially rejected Clinton administration and other warnings about terror and al-Qaeda because they considered China the future enemy to grow the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state upon. Without 9/11, many things might have been different. For one thing, to offer an example, on September 10, 2001 the Bush administration polling was lousy. It was already a remarkably unpopular administration in the political doldrums. Had it wanted to do something like set up a Department of Homeland Security, it probably would have gotten all snarled up in Congress and not succeeded. The Patriot Act, never. Etc. etc….

MK: Isn’t the concept of an ongoing “terrorist threat” fulfilling the need of an ongoing enemy that we lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union?

TE: Yes, it’s played that role. Or put another way, at most a few thousand scattered terrorists and a couple of ragtag minority insurgencies (in Afghanistan and Iraq) with poor arms and limited funds have, miraculously enough, fulfilled the role of an actual superpower! That speaks to the deceptive power of the 9/11 attacks which managed to look apocalyptic – hence the nuclear term “Ground Zero” that was almost immediately applied to the spot in New York City where the towers came down – without being so. Americans dealt with the 9/11 moment as if a major power had hit us with a nuclear weapon and so declared “war” on what? Those who wanted to deal with the event, which was terrible but not exactly civilization-threatening, as a criminal act were laughed out of the room and all the rest followed.

MK: Clearly, you believe that President Obama has not only failed to restore many of our civil liberties taken away under the Bush/Cheney administration, but, in fact, has gone further than the neocons? What happened to his constitutional scholar principles?

TE: Increasingly, I don’t speculate much on the motives of the players in our national drama, in part because I think we humans are all like the unreliable narrators of modern fiction, not to be trusted when we claim to know why we do things. We’re mysteries – perhaps to ourselves above all. It is clear, however, that the Obama administration, like those before it, hasn’t exactly been eager to give up the prerogatives of an imperial presidency, much expanded under the Bush administration and in some cases has been at work expanding them further. This has been the direction the presidency has taken in our lifetime – ever expanding power – whatever the constitutional bona fides of the occupants of the Oval Office.

MK: Obama promised government transparency during his 2008 campaign, but you would argue the maintenance of a shadow government that operates in secrecy is necessary to operate the military-industrial complex. Why is this so and why is Obama going along with it?

TE: I would argue that our ever expanding national security state has, like a mother ship leaving Earth, simply lifted itself out of our world and, surrounded in secrecy (which helps the process along), has entered a space above us all where its denizens need be accountable for nothing and, unlike the rest of us, are assured of never being subjected to the legal system for whatever acts they take – with a single exception: whistleblowing. If you or I break into a house and commit acts of violence, we’ll undoubtedly be arrested and brought before a court of law. But if the national security state breaks into another country and does the same, if it kidnaps, tortures, assassinates, those who do it will not be prosecuted. It’s essentially a guaranteed. Obama’s “sunshine” policies were simply swallowed whole and disappeared almost without a trace into the new national security state.

MK: All of the rollbacks of our constitutional rights taken by the executive branch and government and Congress are being done in the name of fighting terrorism. How serious a threat is terrorism and what are the alternatives for dealing with it?

TE: Since 9/11, even if you include the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the guy who ran his plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, terrorism has ranked above shark attacks but below just about anything else that has the ability to harm Americans here in the US. As a comparison, my crude calculations show maybe 25 domestic terror victims, including in the incidents above, whereas some 30-odd thousand Americans a year die on our roads in traffic accidents. Yet terror is the only thing where the government promises us something close to 100% safety. Generally, terror attacks can be tragic, but they are relatively minor dangers for Americans, even if they have been used to engorge our national-security-homeland-security state.

MK: Getting back to the issue of America and empire. Isn’t it ironic that the US was founded as a nation in a war against the reigning empire of its time: British military rule that spanned the world?

TE: I don’t know how strange it is. Militant republics seem quite capable of becoming empires from Rome to France, no? It is true, however, that the anti-imperial tradition that began with the American revolution here has historically acted as at least some kind of brake on imperial thinking, however modestly. Americans at least didn’t like to think of themselves as imperial. It was part of the national self-image – until, at least, the George W. Bush years and when such thinking took hold among right-wing pundits, it was – or should have been – a sign that something was coming unglued.

MK: You discuss drones and advanced military technology in your book and TomDispatch. No technology is exclusive for long. Isn’t the American reliance on current superior technological warfare bound to boomerang against us in the end?

TE: “Perfect weapons,” the atomic bomb included, never fulfill the promises made for them, but by the time that’s obvious, they’ve embedded themselves in our world. Something in the range of 40-50 nations now either have drones, are at work designing them, or are planning to buy them. The (un)friendly skies are going to be filled with them and when the first Iranian or Russian or Chinese drones start to take out their version of bad guys, we’re not going to be so happy. When the first “suicide drones” hit we’re going to be even less happy. What we’ve done in these years is to create a rationale for overriding national sovereignty and assassinating whomever we care to wherever we care to. Think of it as the globalization of death and, in the end, it will indeed by an ugly precedent for the planet.

MK: Although we are currently in a state of perpetual war, most Americans don’t think of us being at war. Why is this so and compare it to the national consciousness of World War II, for example, when everyone was suffused with contributing to the war effort?

TE: After the U.S. Army nearly collapsed in Vietnam – a draft or citizens army, that is – the high command and other interested parties in essence said “never again.” They created the All-Volunteer Army in part to detach the military (and so the wars it fought) from and insulate it from, our society, from citizen pressure. In that they succeeded. Americans, as I (and others) at TomDispatch have regularly pointed out, are now remarkably detached and insulated from the wars fought in our name and, increasingly, even those wars are fought with an eerie detachment, at least the drone part of them. In essence 1% of Americans who run things send 1% of Americans (those in the armed services) out to fight their wars and the other 98% are left out of things. It’s not exactly the definition of a democratic republic, is it?

Creative Commons License
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Posted in Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

America’s Endless Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27291

by Jack A. Smith

Global Research, October 25, 2011

The 10th anniversary of Washington’s invasion, occupation and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan was observed Oct. 7, but despite President Barack Obama’s pledge to terminate the U.S. “combat mission” by the end of 2014, American military involvement will continue many years longer.

The Afghan war is expanding even further, not only with increasing drone attacks in neighboring Pakistani territory but because of U.S. threats to take far greater unilateral military action within Pakistan unless the Islamabad government roots out “extremists” and cracks down harder on cross-border fighters.

Washington’s tone was so threatening that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to assure the Pakistani press Oct. 21 that the U.S. did not plan a ground offensive against Pakistan. The next day, Afghan President Hamid Karzai shocked Washington by declaring “God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan…. If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”

At the same time, Washington has just suffered a spectacular setback in Iraq, where the Obama Administration has been applying extraordinary pressure on the Baghdad government for over a year to permit many thousands of U.S. troops to remain indefinitely after all American forces are supposed to withdraw at the end of this year.

President Obama received the Iraqi government’s rejection from Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki Oct. 21, and promptly issued a public statement intended to completely conceal the fact that a long-sought U.S. goal has just been obliterated, causing considerable disruption to U.S. plans. Obama made a virtue of necessity by stressing that “Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.”

This article will first discuss the situation in Afghanistan after 10 years, then take up the Iraq question and what the U.S. may do to compensate for a humiliating and disruptive rebuff.

The United States is well aware it will never win a decisive victory in Afghanistan. At this point, the Obama Administration is anxious to convert the military stalemate into a form of permanent truce, if only the Taliban were willing to accept what amounts to a power sharing deal that would allow Washington to claim the semblance of success after a decade of war.

In addition President Obama seeks to retain a large post-”withdrawal” military presence throughout the country mainly for these reasons:

• To protect its client regime in Kabul led by Karzai, as well as Washington’s other political an commercial interests in the country, and to maintain a menacing military presence on Iran’s eastern border, especially if U.S. troops cannot now remain in Iraq.

• To retain territory in Central Asia for U.S. and NATO military forces positioned close to what Washington perceives to be its two main (though never publicly identified) enemies — China and Russia — at a time when the American government is increasing its political pressure on both countries. Obama is intent upon transforming NATO from a regional into a global adjunct to Washington’s quest for retaining and extending world hegemony. NATO’s recent victory in Libya is a big advance for U.S. ambitions in Africa, even if the bulk of commercial spoils go to France and England. A permanent NATO presence in Central Asia is a logical next step. In essence, Washington’s geopolitical focus is expanding from the Middle East to Central Asia and Africa in the quest for resources, military expansion and unassailable hegemony, especially from the political and economic challenge of rising nations of the global south, led China.

There has been an element of public deception about withdrawing U.S. “combat troops” from Iraq and Afghanistan dating from the first Obama election campaign in 2007-8. Combat troops belong to combat brigades. In a variant of bait-and-switch trickery, the White House reported that all combat brigades departed Iraq in August 2010. Technically this is true, because those that did not depart were simply renamed “advise and assist brigades.” According to a 2009 Army field manual such brigades are entirely capable, “if necessary,” of shifting from “security force assistance” back to combat duties.

In Afghanistan, after the theoretical pullout date, it is probable that many “advise and assist brigades” will remain along with a large complement of elite Joint Special Operations Forces strike teams (SEALs, Green Berets, etc.) and other officially “non-combat” units — from the CIA, drone operators, fighter pilots, government security employees plus “contractor security” personnel, including mercenaries. Thousands of other “non-combat” American soldiers will remain to train the Afghan army.

According to an Oct. 8 Associated Press dispatch, “Senior U.S. officials have spoken of keeping a mix of 10,000 such [special operations-type] forces in Afghanistan, and drawing down to between 20,000 and 30,000 conventional forces to provide logistics and support. But at this point, the figures are as fuzzy as the future strategy.” Estimates of how long the Pentagon will remain in Afghanistan range from 2017 to 2024 to “indefinitely.”

Obama marked the 10th anniversary with a public statement alleging that “Thanks to the extraordinary service of these [military] Americans, our citizens are safer and our nation is more secure”— the most recent of the continuous praise of war-fighters and the conduct of these wars of choice from the White House since the 2001 bombing, invasion and occupation.

Just two days earlier a surprising Pew Social Trend poll of post-9/11 veterans was made public casting doubt about such a characterization. Half the vets said the Afghanistan war wasn’t worth fighting in terms of benefits and costs to the U.S. Only 44% thought the Iraq war was worth fighting. One-third opined that both wars were not worth waging. Opposition to the wars has been higher among the U.S. civilian population. But it’s unusual in a non-conscript army for its veterans to emerge with such views about the wars they volunteered to fight.

The U.S. and its NATO allies issued an unusually optimistic assessment of the Afghan war on Oct. 15, but it immediately drew widespread skepticism. According to the New York Times the next day, “Despite a sharp increase in assassinations and a continuing flood of civilian casualties, NATO officials said that they had reversed the momentum of the Taliban insurgency as enemy attacks were falling for the first time in years…. [This verdict] runs counter to dimmer appraisals from some Afghan officials and other international agencies, including the United Nations. With the United States preparing to withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of this year and 23,000 more by next October, it raises questions about whether NATO’s claims of success can be sustained.”

Less than two weeks earlier German Gen. Harald Kujat, who planned his country’s military support mission in Afghanistan, declared that “the mission fulfilled the political aim of showing solidarity with the United States. But if you measure progress against the goal of stabilizing a country and a region, then the mission has failed.”

According to Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is a critically important “long term commitment” and “we’re going to be there longer than 2014.” He made the disclosure to the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 22, a week before he retired. In a statement Oct. 3, the Pentagon’s new NATO commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, declared: “The plan is to win. The plan is to be successful. And so, while some folks might hear that we’re departing in 2014… we’re actually going to be here for a long time.”

Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, departing head of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, told the AP Oct. 8: “We’re moving toward an increased special operations role…,whether it’s counterterrorism-centric, or counterterrorism blended with counterinsurgency.” White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said in mid-September that by 2014 “the U.S. remaining force will be basically an enduring presence force focused on counterterrorism.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta strongly supports President Obama’s call for an “enduring presence” in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Former U.S. Afghan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was fired last year for his unflattering remarks about Obama Administration officials, said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations Oct. 6 that after a decade of fighting in Afghanistan the U.S. was only “50% of the way” toward attaining its goals. “We didn’t know enough and we still don’t know enough,” he said. “Most of us — me included — had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years.”

Washington evidently had no idea that one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world — a society of 30 million people where the literacy rate is 28% and life expectancy is just 44 years — would fiercely fight to retain national sovereignty. The Bush Administration, which launched the Afghan war a few weeks after 9/11, evidently ignored the fact that the people of Afghanistan ousted every occupying army from that of Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn to the British Empire and the USSR.

The U.S. spends on average in excess of $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, not to mention the combined spending of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, but the critical needs of the Afghan people in terms of health, education, welfare and social services after a full decade of military involvement by the world’s richest countries remain essentially untended.

For example, 220,000 Afghan children under five — one in five — die every year due to pneumonia, poor nutrition, diarrhea and other preventable diseases, according to the State of the World’s Children report released by the UN Children’s Fund. UNICEF also reports the maternal mortality rate with about 1,600 deaths per every 100,000 live births. Save the Children says this amounts to over 18,000 women a year. It is also reported by the UN that 70% of school-age girls do not attend school for various reasons — conservative parents, lack of security, or fear for their lives. All told, about 92% of the Afghan population does not have access to proper sanitation.

Even after a decade of U.S. combat, the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people still have no clear idea why Washington launched the war. According to the UK’s Daily Mail Sept. 9, a new survey by the International Council on Security and Development showed that 92% of 1,000 Afghan men polled had never even heard of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — the U.S. pretext for the invasion — and did not know why foreign troops were in the country. (Only men were queried in the poll because many more of them are literate, 43.1% compared to 12.6% of women.)

In another survey, conducted by Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation and released Oct. 18, 56% of Afghans view U.S./NATO troops as an occupying force, not allies as Washington prefers. The survey results show that “there appears to be an increasing amount of anxiety and fear rather than hope.”

Perhaps the most positive news about Afghanistan — and it is a thunderously mixed “blessing” — is that the agricultural economy boomed last year. But, reports the Oct. 11 Business Insider, it’s because “rising opium prices have upped the ante in Afghanistan, and farmers have responded by posting a 61% increase in opium production.” Afghani farmers produce 90% of the world’s opium, the main ingredient in heroin. Half-hearted U.S.-NATO eradication efforts failed because insufficient attention was devoted to providing economic and agricultural substitutes for the cultivation of opium.

Another outcome of foreign intervention and U.S. training is the boundless brutality and corruption of the Afghan police toward civilians and especially Taliban “suspects.” Writing in Antiwar.com John Glaser reported:

“Detainees in Afghan prisons are hung from the ceilings by their wrists, severely beaten with cables and wooden sticks, have their toenails torn off, are treated with electric shock, and even have their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness, according to a study released Oct. 10 by the United Nations. The study, which covered 47 facilities sites in 22 provinces, found ‘a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment’ during interrogation by U.S.-supported Afghan authorities. Both U.S. and NATO military trainers and counterparts have been working closely with these authorities, consistently supervising the detention facilities and funding their operations.”

In mid-September Human Rights Watch documented that U.S.-supported anti-Taliban militias are responsible for many human rights abuses that are overlooked by their American overseers. At around the same time the American Open Society Foundations revealed that the Obama Administration has tripled the number of nighttime military raids on civilian homes, which terrorize many families. The report noted that “An estimated 12 to 20 raids now occur per night, resulting in thousands of detentions per year, many of whom are non-combatants.” The U.S. military admits that half the arrests are “mistakes.”

Meanwhile, it was reported in October that in the first nine months this year U.S.-NATO drones conducted nearly 23,000 surveillance missions in the Afghanistan sky. With nearly 85 flights a day, the Obama Administration has almost doubled the daily amount in the last two years. Hundreds of civilians, including nearly 170 children, have been killed in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas from drone attacks. Miniature killer/surveillance drones — small enough to be carried in backpacks— are soon expected to be distributed to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

So far the Afghanistan war has taken the lives of some 1,730 American troops and about a thousand from NATO. There are no reliable figures on the number Afghan civilians killed since the beginning of the war. The UN’s Assistance Mission to Afghanistan did not start to count such casualties until 2007. According to the Voice of America Oct. 7, “Each year, the civilian death toll has risen, from more than 1,500 dead in 2007 to more than 2,700 in 2010. And in the first half of this year, the UN office reported there were 2,400 civilians killed in war-related incidents.”

At minimum the war has cost American taxpayers about a half-trillion dollars since 2001. The U.S. will continue to spend billions in the country for many years to come and the final cost — including interest on war debts that will be carried for scores more years — will mount to multi-trillions that future generations will have to pay. At present there are 94,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan plus about 37,000 NATO troops. Another 45,000 well paid “contractors” perform military duties, and many are outright mercenaries.

Washington is presently organizing, arming, training and financing hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops and police forces, and is expected to continue paying some $5 billion a year for this purpose at least until 2025.

The U.S. government has articulated various different objectives for its engagement in Afghanistan over the years. Crushing al-Qaeda and defeating the Taliban have been most often mentioned, but as an Oct. 7 article from the Council on Foreign Relations points out: “The main U.S. goals in Afghanistan remain uncertain. They have meandered from marginalizing the Taliban to state-building, to counterinsurgency, to counterterrorism, to — most recently — reconciliation and negotiation with the Taliban. But the peace talks remain nascent and riddled with setbacks. Karzai suspended the talks after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the government’s chief negotiator, which the Afghan officials blamed on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network. The group denies it.”

There is another incentive for the U.S. to continue fighting in Afghanistan — to eventually convey the impression of victory, an absolute domestic political necessity.

The most compelling reason for the Afghan war is geopolitical, as noted above — finally obtaining a secure military foothold for the U.S. and its NATO accessory in the Central Asian backyards of China and Russia . In addition, a presence in Afghanistan places the U.S. in close military proximity to two volatile nuclear powers backed by the U.S. but not completely under its control by any means (Pakistan, India). Also, this fortuitous geography is flanking the extraordinary oil and natural gas wealth of the Caspian Basin and energy-endowed former Soviet Muslim republics such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

In Iraq, the Obama Administration’s justification for retaining troops after the end of this year was ostensibly to train the Iraqi military and police forces, but there were other reasons:

• Washington seeks to remain in Iraq to keep an eye on Baghdad because it fears a mutually beneficial alliance may develop between Iraq and neighboring Iran, two Shi’ite societies in an occasionally hostile Sunni Muslim world, weakening American hegemony in the strategically important oil-rich Persian Gulf region and ultimately throughout the Middle East/North Africa.

• The U.S. also seeks to safeguard lucrative economic investments in Iraq, and the huge future profits expected by American corporations, especially in the denationalized petroleum sector. Further, Pentagon and CIA forces were stationed — until now, it seems — in close proximity to Iran’s western border, a strategic position to invade or bring about regime change.

Under other conditions, the U.S. may simply have insisted on retaining its troops regardless of Iraqi misgivings, but the Status of Forces compact governing this matter can only be changed legally by mutual agreement between Washington and Baghdad. The concord was arranged in December 2008 between Prime Minister Maliki and President George W. Bush — not Obama, who now takes credit for ending the Iraq war despite attempting to extend the mission of a large number of U.S. troops.

At first Washington wanted to retain more than 30,000 troops plus a huge diplomatic and contractor presence in Iraq after “complete” withdrawal. Maliki — pushed by many of the country’s political factions, including some influenced by Iran’s opposition to long-term U.S. occupation — held out for a much smaller number.

Early in October Baghdad decided that 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops in a training-only capacity was the most that could be accommodated. In addition, the Iraqis in effect declared a degree of independence from Washington by insisting that remaining American soldiers must be kept on military bases and not be granted legal immunity when in the larger society. Washington, which has troops stationed in countries throughout the world, routinely insists upon legal exemption for its foreign legions as a matter of imperial hubris, and would not compromise.

The White House has indicated that an arrangement may yet be worked out to permit some American trainers and experts to remain, perhaps as civilians or contractors. Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a staunch opponent of the U.S. occupation, has suggested Iraq should employ trainers for its armed forces from other countries, but this is impractical for a country using American arms and planes.

Regardless, the White House is increasing the number of State Department employees in Iraq from 8,000 to an almost unbelievable 16,000, mostly stationed at the elephantine new embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone quasi-military enclave, in new American consulates in other cities, and in top “advisory” positions in many of the of the regime’s ministries, particularly the oil ministry. Half the State Department personnel, 8,000 people, will handle “security” duties, joined by some 5,000 new private “security contractors.”

Thus, at minimum the U.S. will possess 13,000 of its own armed “security” forces, and there’s still a possibility Baghdad and Washington will work out an arrangement for adding a limited number of “non-combat” military trainers, openly or by other means.

In his Oct. 21 remarks, Obama sought to transform the total withdrawal he sought to avoid into a simulacrum of triumph for the troops and himself: “The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops…. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

Heads held high, proud of success — for an unjust, illegal war based on lies that is said to have cost over a million Iraqi lives and created four million refugees! It has been estimated that the final U.S.. costs of the Iraq war will be over $5 trillion when the debt and interest are finally paid off decades from now.

If President Obama is reelected— even should the Iraq war actually end — he will be coordinating U.S. involvement in wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now Uganda (where American 100 combat troops have just been inserted). Add to this various expanding drone campaigns, and such adventures as Washington’s support for Israel against the Palestinians and for the Egyptian military regime against popular aspirations for full democracy, followed by the backing of dictatorial regimes in a half-dozen countries, and continual threats against Iran.

Washington’s $1.4 trillion annual military and national security expenditures are a major factor behind America’s monumental national debt and the cutbacks in social services for the people, but aside from White House rhetoric about reducing redundant Pentagon expenditures, overall war/security budgets are expected to increase over the next several years.

The Bush and Obama Administrations have manipulated realty to convince American public opinion that the Iraq and Afghan wars are ending in U.S. successes. Washington fears the resurrection of the “Vietnam Syndrome” that resulted after the April 1975 U.S. defeat in Indochina. The “syndrome” led to a 15-year disinclination by the American people to support aggressive, large-scale U.S. wars against small, poor countries in the developing third world until the January 1991 Gulf War, part one of the two-part Iraq war that continued in March 2003.

According to an article in the Oct. 9 New York Times titled “The Other War Haunting Obama,” author, journalist and Harvard emeritus professor Marvin Kalb wrote: ” Ten years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, an odd specter haunts the Obama White House — the specter of Vietnam, a war lost decades before. Like Banquo’s ghost, it hovers over the White House still, an unwelcome memory of where America went wrong, a warning of what may yet go wrong.”

This fear of losing another war to a much smaller adversary — and perhaps suffering the one-term fate of President Lyndon Johnson who presided over the Vietnam debacle — evidently was a factor behind President Obama’s decision to vastly expand the size of the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan and why the White House is now planning a long-term troop presence beyond the original pullout date.

Today’s combat directly touches the lives of only a small minority Americans — militarily members and families — and much of the majority remains uninformed or misinformed about many of the causes and effects of the Iraq/Afghan adventures. Obama may thus eventually be able to convey the illusion of military success, which will help pave the way for future imperial violence unless the people of the United States wise up and act en masse to prevent future aggressive wars.

Jack A. Smith is the Editor of the Activist Newsletter

Jack A. Smith is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Jack A. Smith

Posted in Global Research, War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

ISI may act if Afghanistan gets too close to India: Musharraf

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/isi-may-act-afghanistan-gets-too-close-india-035842060.html

By Arun Kumar | IANS – 13 hours ago

Washington, Oct 27 (IANS) Accusing India of trying to create anti-Pakistan Afghanistan, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has warned that Islamabad’s spy agency will need to take ‘counter-measures’ if Afghanistan becomes too close to India.

‘Since our independence, Afghanistan always has been anti-Pakistan because the Soviet Union and India have very good relations in Afghanistan,’ he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank Wednesday.

Accusing India of working to turn Afghanistan against Pakistan, he said: ‘We must not allow this to continue.’

‘We must not begrudge if Pakistan orders ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to take counter-measures to protect its own interests,’ said Musharraf defending the Pakistani spy agency that US officials have accused of supporting extremists.

‘Now, India is trying to create anti-Pakistan Afghanistan. This is most unfortunate, and I am not saying this because I have some (Indo-centric) – and I’m anti-India. I know this through intelligence; I know this to be a fact,’ he said.

‘Today – and just to give you one proof: Today, in Afghanistan, Afghanistan diplomats, the intelligence people, the security people, the army men all go to India for training,’ Misharraf said.

‘Now they go there, they come back, they get indoctrinated against Pakistan and, may I say, over the years since our independence, Afghanistan always has been anti-Pakistan because Soviet Union and India have very close relation in Afghanistan.’

‘And the intelligence agency, KGB, RAW and KHAD of Afghanistan have always been in cooperation and talking since 1950s,’ Musharraff said.

‘So I think this needs a rapprochement certainly between India and Pakistan and rapprochement also between the two intelligence organizations: the RAW of India and the ISI of Pakistan,’ he said.

Describing current relations between the United States and Pakistan as ‘terrible,’ Musharraf said Afghanistan could plunge into conflict along ethnic lines after 2014, when the United States plans to withdraw its combat troops from Afghanistan.

‘Are you leaving a stable Afghanistan or an unstable Afghanistan? Because based on that, I in Pakistan will have to take my own counter-measures,’ Musharraf said.

The ‘adverse impact will be on Pakistan, so any leader in Pakistan must think of securing Pakistan’s interests,’ he added.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Risk-Free And Above The Law: U.S. Globalizes Drone Warfare

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25536

Global Research, July 7, 2011

Last week the Washington Post, the New York Times and other major American newspapers reported that the U.S. launched its first unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) missile attack inside Somalia.

The strike was the first acknowledged Pentagon military attack inside the Horn of Africa nation since a helicopter raid staged by commandos in 2009 and the first use of an American drone to conduct a missile strike there. Drones had earlier been used in the country in their original capacity, for surveillance, including identifying targets for bomb and missile attacks, one being shot down in October of 2009. But as Britain’s The Guardian reported on July 30, the strike in Somalia marked “the expansion of the pilotless war campaign to a sixth country,” as the remote-controlled aircraft have already been employed to deadly effect in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and most recently Libya.

The lethal Somali mission was reportedly carried out by the U.S. Special Operations Command, in charge of executing special forces operations of the respective units of the four main branches of the American military: The Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy. On July 4 the U.S. armed forces publication Stars and Stripes reported that there are currently 7,000 American special forces in Afghanistan and another 3,000 in Iraq, with the bulk of the latter to be transferred to the first country in what was described as a “mini-surge” of special operations troops to compensate for the withdrawal of 10,000 other troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Last week BBC News reported on the proposed transfer of drone aircraft by the U.S. to its military client states Uganda and Burundi for the war in Somalia. Citing American defense officials, BBC disclosed that four drones will be supplied to the two nations who have 9,000 troops engaged in combat operations against anti-government insurgents in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

According to a New York Times feature of July 1: “[T]he United States has largely been relying on proxy forces in Somalia, including African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi, to support Somalia’s fragile government. The Pentagon is sending nearly $45 million in military supplies, including night-vision equipment and four small unarmed drones, to Uganda and Burundi to help combat the rising terror threat in Somalia. During the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2007, clandestine operatives from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command initiated missions into Somalia from an airstrip in Ethiopia.”

On June 15 a major newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, The National, reported on the escalation of deadly U.S. drone attacks in Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It cited an official with the Yemeni Ministry of Defense claiming that the U.S. had launched over 15 drone strikes in the country in the first two weeks of June. The newspaper also quoted the deputy governor of Abyan province, Abdullah Luqman, decrying the attacks and stating: “These are the lives of innocent people being killed. At least 130 people have been killed in the last two weeks by US drones.”

The leader of an observation committee created to evacuate local residents added that “more than 40,000 people have left Abyan province because they feared drone strikes.”

The same defense official mentioned above warned that the “United States is turning Yemen into another Pakistan.” [1]

Recent reports in the American press reveal that the Pentagon will establish a new air base in the Persian Gulf from which to intensify drone strikes in Yemen. According to a Russian source, “The location is kept secret but some say this might be Bahrain as it already has a US base [the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet] and provides the safest route to Yemen for US drones through American ally Saudi Arabia.” [2]

The drone missile assaults in Pakistan, which caused a record number of deaths – over 1,000 – last year, are carried out by the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose last director is the new secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, a transfer that presages a yet greater intensification of the deadly attacks inside the South Asian nation.

On June 5 the 40th drone strike of the year killed at least six people in South Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, bringing the death toll this year to at least 350.

Late last month the Pakistani government ordered the U.S. to vacate the Shamsi Air Base in the province of Balochistan which had been used for drone strikes inside the nation. Washington has in the interim shifted those operations to upgraded air bases in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that only 3 percent of Pakistanis support the drone attacks in the country’s tribal belt.

At the end of June, 28 people were reported killed by drone strikes in the South Waziristan Agency, with a local resident quoted by Pajhwok Afghan News as stating “that 20 civilians were killed and several others injured in the second attack.” [3]

Some 2,100 of the 2,500 people killed in the strikes since they began in 2004 have lost their lives since 2009, when Barack Obama became the president of the U.S. and Leon Panetta director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

On July 5 a British Reaper drone killed at least four Afghan civilians and wounded two more in a missile attack in Helmand province. The use of the Reaper, rightly referred to as the world’s deadliest drone, marks the crossing of an ominous threshold. It is the first of what is described as a hunter-killer – long-endurance, high-altitude – remote-piloted aircraft that can be equipped with fifteen times the amount of weaponry and fly at three times the speed of the Predator used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. (The U.S. has used Reapers in Iraq since 2008 and in Afghanistan starting the following year. Toward the end of 2009 the Pentagon deployed Reapers to the East African island nation of Seychelles along with over 100 military personnel.)

On June 28 the U.S. lost the third of three drones in Afghanistan in as many days.

A recent Refugees International report stated that over 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their towns and villages during the last two years, over 91,000 so far this year: “Not only have NATO-led troops and Afghan forces failed to protect Afghans, but international airstrikes and night raids by U.S. Special Forces were destroying homes, crops and infrastructure, traumatising civilians and displacing tens of thousands of people.” [4]

Last month an RT feature suitably titled “US expands drone war, extremists expect new recruits” stated:

“The US has stepped up its drone attacks against militants in the Middle East, but the growing number of civilian deaths in the strikes has sparked public anger, with concern the action is driving up the number of extremist recruits.

“In Pakistan, CIA drone strikes aim at terrorists but end up killing mostly civilians. Public outrage is growing. Hatred and anger foster more terror.

“Washington now sees Yemen as the most dangerous Al-Qaeda outpost, and is planning to step up drone attacks on the country, establishing a base in the Persian Gulf specifically for that purpose.”

The source added:

“Americans are likely to have a freer hand going it alone, with the CIA to take a central role.

“As the agency is not subject to the accountability the US military is legally under, one can expect more bombs to fall on Yemen.

“There is fury in Yemen over the killing of scores of civilians by the drone strikes. In one attack there, the American military presumably aiming at an Al-Qaeda training camp ended up killing dozens of women and children. In another strike a year ago, a drone mistakenly killed a deputy governor in Yemen, his family and aides.

“With the expansion of the drone war it seems the US is seeking only a missile solution to fighting Al-Qaeda. Analysts say that some of the main features of this global chase are not having to take into account the voice of the nation that they are bombing and the lack of accountability when it comes to civilian deaths. These features add more paradox to the US strategy, with many asking whether America is fighting and fostering terror at the same time.” [5]

Analyst Denis Fedutinov told Voice of Russia last month:

“The US used drones already in the Balkans campaign, then in Iraq and Afghanistan and now in Libya. The US and Israel are the world drone leaders. Now America has several thousand drones of different classes.” [6]

In fact, last year U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Glenn Walters told an Institute for Defense and Government Advancement conference that ten years ago America had 200 drones in its arsenal, but by 2010 that number had risen to 6,000 and that by next year it would be 8,000. A fortyfold increase.

And in May of 2010 “NATO representatives from around the world” visited the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in the state of Indiana to observe drone flight tests.

By transferring control of the 110-day war against Libya from U.S. Africa Command to NATO on March 31 the Obama administration intended to, among other purposes, evade accountability to Congress (and federal law) under provisions of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The resolution mandates that Congress must authorize military actions initiated by the president within 60 days of their commencement or grant him a 30-day extension. The 60-day limit was reached on May 20.

The White House responded to Congressional opposition to prolonging military action in Libya by releasing a 38-page report that claimed “US military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the resolution’s 60-day termination provision.”

It also maintained that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”

Which is to say, as long as American military personnel are not in harm’s way it is not a war. Legal Adviser of the State Department Harold Koh stated: “We are acting lawfully…We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

General Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, last month “said a Republican-sponsored bill that would block American Predator drone strikes in Libya would hurt the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance,” and “predicted that NATO would be unable to replace certain key U.S. missions, including the drone strikes and attacks to neutralize Libyan air defenses that threaten allied planes, if proposed funding cuts are made.” [7]

The launching of over 200 cruise missiles into Libya in the opening days of the war and the fact that, as the New York Times reported on June 21, “American warplanes have struck at Libyan air defenses about 60 times, and remotely operated drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times” since command of the war was transferred from U.S. Africa Command to NATO – after which NATO has conducted over 14,000 air missions, more than 5,000 termed strike sorties – do not constitute armed hostilities in the mind of Mr. Koh, who stated last year that “U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.” According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top legal adviser, deadly drone attacks are “consistent with its [the U.S.'s] inherent right to self-defense.” [8] Koh cagily refers to murdering people on a grand scale by remote activation as targeted killing rather than targeted assassination, as the second is expressly prohibited under international law.

In a rare instance of dissenting from White House war policy, last month the New York Times published the following:

“Jack L. Goldsmith, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, said the Obama theory would set a precedent expanding future presidents’ unauthorized war-making powers, especially given the rise of remote-controlled combat technology.”

It further quoted Goldsmith directly:

“The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits.”

Neither cruise missiles nor Hellfire missile-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles have pilots on board, so the lives of U.S. service members are safe as Pakistanis, Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis and Somalis are torn to shreds by U.S. strikes.

Wars of aggression are now both safe and “legal.”

Notes
 

1) The National, June 15, 2011

http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/us-makes-a-drone-attack-a-day-in-yemen

2) Voice of Russia, June 16, 2011
3) Pajhwok Afghan News, June 28, 2011
4) NATO airstrikes, night raids blamed for Afghan IDP crisis – report
AlertNet, June 29, 2011
5) RT, June 22, 2011 http://rt.com/news/us-drone-war-al-qaeda

6) Voice of Russia, June 16, 2011
7) Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
8) Inside Justice, March 26, 2011 
http://insidejustice.com/law/index.php/intl/2010/03/26/asil_koh_drone_war_law

Rick Rozoff is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Rick Rozoff

Posted in Global Research, War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

US bombs erase Afghan village from map

Posted by Admin on January 25, 2011

Gen. McChrystal disembarks a Black Hawk with D...

How to level an entire city and destroy a nation.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/us-bombs-erase-afghan-village-map-20110121-211000-122.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – Sat, Jan 22 10:40 AM IST

 

London, Jan 22 (IANS) A village in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province has been completely wiped out of the map after an offensive by the US Army to get rid of the Taliban militants in the area, a media report said here.

Tarok Kolache, a small settlement in Kandahar near the Arghandad River Valley, has been completely erased from the map, according to the Daily Mail.

Taliban militants had taken control of the village and battered the coalition task force with home-made bombs and improvised explosive devices. After two attempts at clearing the village led to casualties on both sides, Lieutenant Colonel David Flynn, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 1-320th gave the order to pulverise the village.

His men were ‘terrified to go back into the pomegranate orchards to continue clearing (the area); it seemed like certain death’, Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate, writes on the Foreign Policy blog.

Instead of continuing to clear the tiny village, the commander approved a mine-clearing line charge, which hammered a route into the centre of Tarok Kolache using rocket-propelled explosives.

The results of the offensive were adjudged to have left ‘NO CIVCAS’ – no civilians killed, the daily said. But with Tarok Kolache bombarded with close to 25 tonnes of explosives, assuming some collateral damage does not seem unjustified.

Analysts have not been able to assess the impact of the bombing on civilians due to security concerns. However, it has been agreed that ‘extreme’ operations such as the destruction of an entire village are likely to have a negative impact on attempts to improve coalition-Afghan relations.

The erasure of Tarok Kolache was exactly the type of behaviour that would deal a body blow to Afghan acceptance of the presence of the International Security Assistance Force, Erica Gaston, an Open Society Institute researcher based in Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.

‘But for this, I think (NATO) would have started to get some credit for improved conduct,’ Gaston wrote in an email.

‘Some Kandahar elders (and I stress ‘some’, not ‘all’ or even ‘most’) who had initially opposed the Kandahar operations were in the last few months expressing more appreciation for ISAF conduct during these operations, saying they had driven out the Taliban and shown restraint in not harming civilians.

‘I think this property destruction has likely reset the clock on any nascent positive impressions.’

According to Broadwell’s post on Foreign Policy, US military commander Gen. Petraeus has approved $1 million worth of reconstruction projects but also told his commanders in the south of Afghanistan to ‘take a similar approach to what 1-320th was doing on a grander scale as it applies to the districts north of Arghandab’.

Posted in War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

US drone attacks are no laughing matter, Mr Obama

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

drone

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc537c4f0415b3bbdf7218ade83cf2648c.html

The president’s backing of indiscriminate slaughter in Pakistan can only encourage new�waves of militancy

Speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in May, Barack Obama spotted teen pop band the Jonas Brothers in the audience. “Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but, boys, don’t get any ideas,” deadpanned the president, referring to his daughters. “Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.” The crowd laughed, Obama smiled, the dinner continued. Few questioned the wisdom of making such a tasteless joke; of the US commander-in-chief showing such casual disregard for the countless lives lost abroad through US drone attacks.

From the moment he stepped foot inside the White House, Obama set about expanding and escalating a covert CIA programme of “targeted killings” inside Pakistan, using Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles (who comes up with these names?) that had been started by the Bush administration in 2004. On 23 January 2009, just three days after being sworn in, Obama ordered his first set of air strikes inside Pakistan; one is said to have killed four Arab fighters linked to al-Qaida but the other hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child. Obama’s own daughter, Sasha, was seven at the time.

But America’s Nobel-peace-prize-winning president did not look back. During his first nine months in office he authorised as many aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W Bush did in his final three years in the job. And this year has seen an unprecedented number of air strikes. Forget Mark Zuckerberg or the iPhone 4 – 2010 was the year of the drone. According to the New America Foundation thinktank in Washington DC, the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan more than doubled in 2010, to 115. That is an astonishing rate of around one bombing every three days inside a country with which the US is not at war.

And the carnage continues. On Monday, CIA drones fired six missiles at two vehicles in a “Taliban stronghold” in north Waziristan, on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, killing 18 “militants” . Or so said “Pakistani intelligence officials”, speaking under condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. Today another round of drone strikes is thought to have killed at least 15 “militants” in the same area.

These attacks by unmanned aircraft may have succeeded in eliminating hundreds of dangerous militants, but the truth is that they also kill innocent civilians indiscriminately and in large numbers. According to the New America Foundation, one in four of those killed by drones since 2004 has been an innocent. The Brookings Institute, however, has calculated a much higher civilian-to-militant ratio of 10:1. Meanwhile, figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities suggest US strikes killed 701 people between January 2006 and April 2009, of which 14 were al-Qaida militants and 687 were civilians. That produces a hit rate of just 2% – or 50 civilians dead for every militant killed.

The majority of Pakistanis are against the use of drones in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. Their own government, however, despite public opposition to the bombings, has in private expressed support for America’s drones. “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is quoted as saying, in a 2008 cable released by WikiLeaks. ” We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it .”

This is not a left/right issue; criticisms of the drone strikes have come from figures as diverse as Sir Brian Burridge, the UK’s former air chief marshal in Iraq, who has described the aerial slaughter inflicted from afar by unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft as a “virtueless war”; and Andrew Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert and former adviser to General David Petraeus, who says that each innocent victim of a drone strike “represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased”.

Kilcullen is spot on. The cold-blooded killing of Pakistani civilians in a push-button, PlayStation-style drone war is not just immoral and perhaps illegal, it is futile and self-defeating from a security point of view. Take Faisal Shahzad , the so-called Times Square bomber. One of the first things the Pakistani-born US citizen said upon his arrest was: “How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.” Asked by the judge at his trial as to how he could justify planting a bomb near innocent women and children, Shahzad responded by saying that US drone strikes “don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody.”

But the innocent victims of America’s secret drone war have become “unpeople”, in the words of the historian Mark Curtis – those whose lives are seen as expendable in the pursuit of the west’s foreign policy goals. Killed via remote control, they remain unseen and unremembered. Forgive me, Mr President, for not seeing the funny side.

Pakistan Barack Obama al-Qaida Global terrorism United States US foreign policy Mehdi Hasan

 

Posted in War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

57 journalists killed in 2010

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc20112409e961f9c5e061f7af70da84e2.html

57 journalists killed in 2010

• Reporters being targeted by criminal gangs, study shows • Pakistan has been the deadliest country for journalists this year

Fifty-seven journalists worldwide have been killed this year, according to the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, adding that fewer reporters were being killed in war zones and more were being targeted by criminals or traffickers.

The death toll was down 25% from 2009, when 76 journalists were killed. Last year’s record number of deaths was so high because of a massacre in the Philippines in which more than two dozen journalists and their staff were gunned down.

In its annual report, the Paris-based group said organised criminal gangs and militias posed the biggest threat to journalists. “If governments do not make every effort to punish the murderers of journalists, they become their accomplices,” Jean-François Julliard, the Reporters Without Borders secretary general, said.

Pakistan has been the deadliest country for reporters this year, with 11 killed. Seven journalists were killed in Mexico, seven in Iraq and four in the Philippines.

This month the Committee to Protect Journalists said 42 media workers have been killed worldwide in 2010.

The two groups have different criteria on what kind of reporters they include in their list and whether some reporters were targeted because of their profession, Julliard said.

Reporters Without Borders said this year has also seen a surge in abductions. Fifty-one reporters have been kidnapped in 2010, up from 33 in 2009, Reporters Without Borders said.

French TV journalists Herv� Ghesquière and St�phane Taponier and their three Afghan assistants have been held hostage in Afghanistan for more than a year.

“Journalists are seen less and less as outside observers,” Julliard said. “Their neutrality and the nature of their work are no longer respected.”

Journalist safety

 

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Another US missile strike kills 3 in Pakistan

Posted by Admin on November 26, 2010

MQ-1L Predator UAV armed with AGM-114 Hellfire...

Remote Controlled Drone Plane

By RASOOL DAWAR, Associated Press Rasool Dawar, Associated Press 56 mins ago

MIR ALI, Pakistan – Suspected U.S. missiles hit a vehicle carrying three alleged militants in Pakistan’s northwest on Friday, the latest in a barrage of strikes by unmanned planes on the Taliban stronghold, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The officials say a pair of missiles hit a moving vehicle in Pir Kali village in North Waziristan. The area is home to a mix of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters who target American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters and local tribesmen fired at three more drones still hovering after the attack, but their assault rifles could not hit the aircraft. The two Pakistani officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media on the record.

The U.S. has ramped up its officially unacknowledged drone attacks in Pakistan‘s lawless border region, launching more than 100 missile strikes this year in an attempt to kill key Taliban and al-Qaida figures.

Most of the attacks have been in North Waziristan, where Islamist militants run terrorist training camps and plot attacks in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has pressured Pakistan to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan to bring the border region under control. But the army has said its forces are stretched thin fighting the Taliban in other areas and dealing with the aftermath of the country’s worst floods, which have driven about 7 million people from their homes.

 

Posted in War Quotient | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

New Obama security adviser clashed with military

Posted by Admin on October 8, 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama named close aide Tom Donilon as his top security adviser on Friday, elevating a skeptic of the U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan to coordinate a major review of the war.

Donilon, 55, was among Obama’s advisers reported to have counseled the president last year to resist Pentagon requests for a larger troop increase to combat Taliban militants. Obama eventually agreed to send an extra 30,000 soldiers.

“Those of us who support the war effort maybe should be a wee bit concerned,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the BrookingsInstitution.

The president told congressional leaders in a letter this week he had no plans for any major changes in his Afghanistan war strategy, at least for now. A comprehensive review of that strategy is set for December.

Obama ordered the extra 30,000 troops to Afghanistan last December but also announced they would start coming home in July 2011. His plan calls for stepped-up training of Afghan forces to take over increasing responsibility from foreign troops in the war that began in late 2001.

At a White House ceremony, Obama praised outgoing national security adviser Jim Jones, a former Marine general, calling him a dedicated public servant who had held one of the most difficult jobs in the administration.

Naming Donilon as his replacement, Obama said: “We have some huge challenges ahead. We remain a country at war.”

At a Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to play down suggestions of tensions with Donilon, after he was quoted as saying in a new book that Donilon would be a “disaster” as national security adviser.

“I have and have had a very productive and very good working relationship with Tom Donilon, contrary to what you may have read, and I look forward to continue working with him,” Gates said.

The resignation of Jones had been expected as part of a mid-term reshuffle at the White House, although he was thought to be going after the November 2 congressional election.

Gates has signaled his intention to resign sometime in 2011. Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, is also expected to retire.

The series of departures will give Obama an opportunity to reshape his national security team as the United States tries to find an exit strategy from the unpopular war in Afghanistan, to wind down the war in Iraq and to pursue a multi-pronged strategy to end nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan and David Alexander; Editing by John O’Callaghan)

 

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

US relationship with Pak ‘complicated’: Holbrooke

Posted by Admin on October 3, 2010

Sat, Oct 2 12:25 PM
Amidst reports of strains in US-Pakistan ties in view of incidents like NATO air strikes in areas bordering Afghanistan, American special envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke, has acknowledged that the overall relationship between the two countries is complicated.

“The overall relationship with Pakistan is complicated, more complicated than any strategic relationship I have ever been involved in. But at the end of the day, success in Afghanistan, however you define success, is not achievable unless Pakistan is part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he told ABC News.

“… we’re going to work with the Pakistanis, at least as long I’m involved in this because I believe it’s the right policy and I know that the administration does, too. That doesn’t mean we’re not without frustrations….” Holbrooke said when asked about a report in ‘The Washington Post’ which

said there is strain in relationship between the two countries.

On the current border situation, he said he does not believe that it is going to change the fundamental relationship between the two countries.

“There were apparently some events that crossed the border in an area which … is complicated and very rough terrain,” Holbrooke said.

“It was very unfortunate. And an investigation is going on in that by NATO as it should and the secretary-general of NATO has expressed his regret about it and I would echo that. But I do not think it will change the fundamentals of the relationship,” he said.

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,641 other followers