US soldiers giving weapons training to Afghan police recruits. More and more of them are taking these weapons with them when they defect to the Taliban.
The Independent UK, November 20, 2010
Be Under No Illusion, NATO is in No Shape to Make Progress in this Graveyard of Empires
by Patrick Cockburn
If Iraq was bad, Afghanistan is going to be worse. Nothing said or done at the Lisbon conference, which is largely an exercise in self-deception, is going to make this better and it may well make it worse. It is not just that the war is going badly, but that NATO’s need to show progress has produced a number of counter-productive quick fixes likely to deepen the violence. These dangerous initiatives include setting up local militias to fight the Taliban where government forces are weak. These are often guns-for-hire provided by local warlords who prey on ordinary Afghans.
The US military has been making much of its strategy of assassinating mid-level Taliban commanders, but one study on the ground showed that many of these are men highly regarded in their communities. It concluded that killing them infuriated local people and led to many of them being recruited by the Taliban.
The US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, will tell NATO leaders today of his plan to start handing over responsibility for security in some areas to the Afghan government in 2011. This sounds like wishful thinking on the part of General Petraeus and his selection of target dates is primarily to avoid accusations that NATO has no idea when or how it will get out.
The Taliban currently controls or has influence in half of Afghanistan. While US reinforcements have been pouring into Helmand and Kandahar provinces, the Taliban have been expanding their enclaves in the north. Continue reading →
Obama trying to raise the fighting spirit of the over 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan
The Telegraph, UK
By Tariq Ali, October 30, 2010
How Obama surrendered at home and waged war abroad As the midterms loom, the President is facing annihilation at the ballot box. Tariq Ali examines how the promise of Obama’s election campaign has been so dramatically lost
As the midterms rapidly approach, the beleaguered US President’s ratings are in steep decline, putting him on the defensive with little to offer his supporters except fine words. Those supporters have been voicing their discontent on the television networks but, much more seriously, are likely to punish Obama by staying at home and ignoring the ballot box on Tuesday.
Indeed, this has been a humiliating time for the once seemingly messianic President. This week’s decision for Obama to appear on the US satirical current affairs TV programme The Daily Show — which is largely watched by liberal voters — was a disaster. The audience openly laughed at him; the presenter, Jon Stewart, gave Obama the honour of being the first President to be called “Dude” to his face on national television; and, worst of all, Obama was forced to recant on the most effective marketing slogan of his generation. “Yes we can,” Obama admitted, had become “Yes we can, but…” Not exactly a rallying cry. Continue reading →
The Obama administration says it is backing a strategy of “reconciliation with the Taliban”. But just back from Afghanistan, unembedded investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley say night raids by U.S. Special Operations forces are alienating many Afghanis, strengthening the insurgency, and undermining US attempts to win “hearts and minds” in the war. Video from interview on Democracy Now in New York City.
THE US has been spending up to $6.7 billion a month for its war in Afghanistan, much more than that the $5.5 billion monthly cost of its war in Iraq.
The Pentagon said that the increase in war expenditures is due to the huge size of the military contingents and the big volume of logistics being sent to Afghanistan. Up to 102,000 troops have been sent to the Afghanistan as against the 43,000 operating in Iraq. An estimated $105 billion has been expended this year by the Obama regime, an amount which is expected to soar to around $117 billion by 2011. The US has already spent up to $1 trillion for its wars of aggression in these two countries.
This year, the US Deparment of Defense has asked for $549 billion in basic military expenditures. This is aside from the $159 billion it has requested for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Part of this fund will go to thousands of private contractors involved in such wars of aggression. Up to 1.2 million contractors have been hired by US. A big chunk of the fund will also go to companies manufacturing expensive weapons such as drones which are now being used by the US in almost all of its operations. Continue reading →
A six-year archive of classified military documents made public on Sunday offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal.
The secret documents, released on the Internet by an organization called WikiLeaks, are a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year.
The New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel were given access to the voluminous records several weeks ago on the condition that they not report on the material before Sunday. Continue reading →
For eight and a half years, the US prison at Bagram airbase [in Afghanistan] has been the site of a disturbing number of experiments in detention and interrogation, where murders have taken place, the Geneva Conventions have been shredded and the encroachment of the US courts — unlike at Guantánamo — has been thoroughly resisted.
In the last few months, there have been a few improvements — hearings, releases, even the promise of imminent trials — but behind this veneer of respectability, the US government’s unilateral reworking of the Geneva Conventions continues unabated, and evidence has recently surfaced of a secret prison within Bagram, where a torture program that could have been lifted straight from the Bush administration’s rule book is still underway.
From December 2001 to November 2003, the US prison at Bagram airbase was used by the US military to process prisoners for Guantánamo, and in those early days it played host to a murderous regime that, in the last half of 2002, led to the deaths of at least two — and possibly as many as five — prisoners. Throughout this period, and after the transfer of regular prisoners to Guantánamo came to an end, Bagram — or, in some cases, a facility within Bagram — was where prisoners regarded as more significant than the general population, who had mostly passed through a number of other secret prisons run by the CIA, were also held, and for the last six and a half years Bagram has, in addition, been the US military’s frontline prison in the Afghan war zone. Continue reading →