Archive for category Taliban
NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel has obtained a leaked draft of the “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” This agreement, as yet unsigned, provides for an endless war despite President Obama’s repeated assurances that U.S. forces are leaving Afghanistan next year.
Afghan officials tell NBC NEWS the agreement is critical to Afghanistan’s future stability. Without ongoing military assistance, training and funding, those officials say the government could collapse and Afghanistan would enter a civil war. If the agreement passes, the draft says Washington would commit to a long -term, indefinite military involvement in this land-locked Asian nation.
This morning on MSNBC, Chuck Todd asked Richard Engel (who is still in Kabul) if the Afghan officials he has spoken to have any idea how unpopular the Afghanistan War is in America. Engel responded that they do not. Probably they are talking to the wrong Americans. More than two-thirds of us say this war was not not worth fighting.
The average annual cost to keep one American soldier deployed in Afghanistan is now $2.1 million. Total cost to taxpayers for our country’s longest war in history is estimated at $1.6 trillion (not counting interest). The human toll (including US soldiers and contractors, allied soldiers, and Afghan security forces, insurgents and militants, and civilians) is estimated to be at least 145,000 deaths by direct war violence since 2001 in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
From Roots Action:
President Obama told CNN this week that he can kill Americans or non-Americans, the difference being that with Americans their killing amounts to their Constitutionally guaranteed due process.
CNN asked Obama how he chooses names for his kill list, but he declined to say. Obama claimed that there are checks on his power, pointing only to checks by his own subordinates, not by courts, not by Congress, and not by the public — which he reassures with vague statements that amount to “trust me.”
Obama claimed that his preference is to capture people rather than to kill them. This does not fit with cases like that of Tariq Khan, a 16-year-old killed by drone strike following his participation in a conference at which he could have easily been captured. It does not fit with the lack of criminal charges against virtually any of the people killed.
Obama claimed that he avoids killing civilians, yet careful research has documented large numbers of civilians killed, including this week in Yemen.
President Obama claims to have the power to kill anyone anywhere in the world, including Americans, based on a secret memo written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the Department of Justice. This is the same process used by the Bush administration to claim that torture was all of a sudden legal. Unlike the Bush torture memos, Obama’s “kill list” memo remains classified.
Some drone war terms that have become public.
“Personality strike” – An attack aimed at named, so-called “high-value terrorists” (and their families).
“Signature strike” – An attack that targets allegedly suspicious compounds in areas controlled by “militants.”
“Double tap” – Following a drone strike with a second attack on first responders and rescuers, or later on the funeral for victims of the original attack.
“Combatant” – The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant unless proven otherwise.
Michael V. Hayden, former head of the CIA (referring to the Bush administration’s program of torture):
“I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret O.L.C. memos, and it ain’t a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. safe.”
Dennis Blair, the former Director of National Intelligence, explains the attraction of waging war by drone:
“It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” he said. “It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”
On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it might be a good time to debate the tactics and strategy of drone warfare. Unfortunately, both major political parties seem to be in agreement, so there is no debate.
UPDATE: Yemen Claims Death Of Al-Qaeda Regional Head (possibly a drone attack, though not reported as such).
I think this appalling video reflects just how ugly organized religion can get. We’ve seen it throughout history. No Judeo-Christian religion is immune.
That it is happening now in THIS country is very much motivated and inspired by the the GOP/Bush/Rove decade of an unrepentant appeal of God, Guns and Gays.
At this point, I see little difference between American Evangelism and Muslim extremism. Christians persecute gays in America still today, as they do in Muslim countries…and obedient crowds cheer.
If you have been paying any attention to the news at all today, you have likely already seen the video of American Marines urinating on corpses in Afghanistan. The number of levels on which this is disturbing is legion. I am mostly working out my thoughts on this as I write, so I may be unorganized at best, but feel this should be addressed.
First of all there is the most superficial reaction. These men are desecrating bodies. They are soiling once living beings in a way that causes a “yuck” factor. As a philosopher I am not particularly worried about this “yuck” factor, but I am also well aware of its existance and the reaction many have is a red flag that makes me want to look into the reaction. Perhaps at another time.
More info: Rethink Afghanistan
Via Raw Story…
From the latest (Dec. 17-19) national CNN/Opinion Research poll (PDF):
Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?
No opinion 2%
In general, how would you say things are going for the U.S. in Afghanistan – very well, moderately well, moderately badly, or very badly?
Very well 2%
Moderately well 42%
Moderately badly 35%
Very badly 21%
No opinion 1%
Only 35 percent now favor the continued occupation of Afghanistan. That’s down from December 2008, when 52 percent were in favor.
The survey showed a clear partisan divide. A majority of Republicans supported the war. In comparison, more than six in ten independents and 74 percent of Democrats were in opposition.
Almost six in ten Republicans thought the war was going well, while most Democrats and independents said things were going badly.
We are wasting a lot of money in Afghanistan on an unwinnable occupation. The official budget figure is $119 billion for FY2011 (PDF). Each soldier deployed halfway around the world costs $1 million a year, not including salary, training, and equipment.
From a recent letter to President Obama from Rep. John Conyers and 30 other members of Congress:
“In my view, the numbers simply don’t add up. Fighting in Afghanistan this year has resulted in more troop deaths, more civilian deaths, and an ever-expanding $2 billion a week financial commitment to a country that has an annual gross domestic product of $27 billion. It is difficult to argue that this constitutes progress.”
A recent report by the International Council on Security and Development found that 92 percent of Afghans in Helmand and Kandahar provinces were completely unaware of the 9/11 attacks, much less their role in launching the American invasion into their country. They are simply fighting American and NATO forces the way they traditionally fight any foreign army. This war has very little to do with our own national security.
Support our troops. Bring them home NOW!
[NOTE: This is my last One Utah post for the foreseeable future. I need all my time to finish my master’s thesis in Geography and then I will be starting a new job. I’m sure the blogosphere will do fine without me].
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was Minister of Civil Aviation and Transportation for the Taliban regime. He is now a senior member of the Taliban’s ruling council in the Pakistani city of Quetta. That council, or shura, is run by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Interpol has no picture of Mansour on the Web.
Yesterday, the New York Times revealed that Mansour was the key figure in secret negotiations between the Karzai government and the Taliban– until they realized the guy they were meeting with wasn’t really Mansour.
“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”
American officials confirmed Monday that they had given up hope that the Afghan was Mr. Mansour, or even a member of the Taliban leadership.
NATO and Afghan officials said they held three meetings with the man, who traveled from in Pakistan, where Taliban leaders have taken refuge.
The fake Taliban leader even met with President Hamid Karzai, having been flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace, officials said.
According to the Washington Post, the Mansour impostor “was a lowly shopkeeper” from Quetta.
“One would suspect that in our multibillion-dollar intel community there would be the means to differentiate between an authentic Quetta Shura emissary and a shopkeeper,” said a U.S. official in Kabul who did not know about the particulars of the Mullah Mansour case. “On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. It may have been Mullah Omar posing as a shopkeeper; I’m sure that our intel whizzes wouldn’t have known.”
OK, so we’re in Year 10 of Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, and this happens?
As I mentioned almost a year ago, in the last decade the U.S has been directly involved in military attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen (including two full-scale invasions and occupations). Our closest ally Israel has attacked Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, plus Turkish civilian vessels on international waters.
What national security consequences can we expect from these attacks on Muslim countries? Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who pled guilty to an attempt to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square, tells us:
“Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow.”
The very idea that we’re going to spend an entire decade dropping a constant stream of bombs and other munitions on and in multiple Muslim countries and otherwise interfere in their governments — and then expect that nobody will try to attack us back — evinces such a child-like sense of imperial entitlement that it’s hard to put into words. And yet this is exactly the mindset that pervades our discussions of Terrorism: why would anyone possibly want to do something as heinous and senseless as placing a bomb in the United States? I just don’t understand it. What kind of an irrational fanatic and monster would even think of something like that? Of course, the people who say such things rarely apply the same language to our own political leaders…
Our foreign and national security policy is irrational. We are provoking a threat that the Pentagon cannot defend us against, even with a budget that exceeds military spending in all other countries put together.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald: They hate us for our occupations
Related One Utah post:
Why Do ‘They’ Hate Us? (October 20, 2009)