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August 5th
11:29 AM
Via
humanrightswatch:

The War in Afghanistan is Escalating, Not Ending

Many people are breathing a sigh of relief to see international combat troops leaving Afghanistan. All foreign combat forces are slated to withdraw by the end-2014 deadline, and many have already gone. Deaths among foreign troops have fallen reassuringly.
For Afghans, however, the war goes on. Many civilians are being injured and killed. More than 400 Afghan soldiers and police are dying each month. People are fleeing their homes – almost 60,000 of them in the first six months of 2013 – and many are trying desperately to get their families to safety outside the country. For them, there is no end in sight.
And in many respects, the war is escalating. A United Nations report released today shows a 23 percent increase in civilian casualties so far this year compared with the same period in 2012. Among the civilians hardest hit? Women and children. Civilian casualties of women caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are up by a mind-boggling 138 percent over 2012, and overall civilian casualties of women are up by 61 percent, while injuries and deaths of children are up by 30 percent over 2012.
Read more.
Photo: An Afghan boy cries during a funeral of members of his family in Logar province, Afghanistan on March 27, 2013. © Reuters

humanrightswatch:

The War in Afghanistan is Escalating, Not Ending

Many people are breathing a sigh of relief to see international combat troops leaving Afghanistan. All foreign combat forces are slated to withdraw by the end-2014 deadline, and many have already gone. Deaths among foreign troops have fallen reassuringly.

For Afghans, however, the war goes on. Many civilians are being injured and killed. More than 400 Afghan soldiers and police are dying each month. People are fleeing their homes – almost 60,000 of them in the first six months of 2013 – and many are trying desperately to get their families to safety outside the country. For them, there is no end in sight.

And in many respects, the war is escalating. A United Nations report released today shows a 23 percent increase in civilian casualties so far this year compared with the same period in 2012. Among the civilians hardest hit? Women and children. Civilian casualties of women caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are up by a mind-boggling 138 percent over 2012, and overall civilian casualties of women are up by 61 percent, while injuries and deaths of children are up by 30 percent over 2012.

Read more.

Photo: An Afghan boy cries during a funeral of members of his family in Logar province, Afghanistan on March 27, 2013. © Reuters

April 30th
7:02 PM
Via

divedi:

Bagram airfield crash 29 apr 2013

May 20th
12:23 PM

Charting Obama's Journey to a Shift on Afghanistan

"rude discoveries" »

Mr. Obama began to question why Americans were dying to prop up a leader, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who was volatile, unreliable and willing to manipulate the ballot box. Faced with an economic crisis at home and a fiscal crisis that Mr. Obama knew would eventually require deep limits on Pentagon spending, he was also shocked, they said, by what the war’s cost would be if the generals’ counterinsurgency plan were left on autopilot — $1 trillion over 10 years. And the more he delved into what it would take to truly change Afghan society, the more he concluded that the task was so overwhelming that it would make little difference whether a large American and NATO force remained for 2 more years, 5 more years or 10 more years.

The remaking of American strategy in Afghanistan began, though no one knew it at the time, in a cramped conference room in Mr. Obama’s transition headquarters in late 2008. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, who had spent the last two years of the Bush administration trying to manage the many trade-offs necessary as the Iraq war consumed troop and intelligence resources needed in Afghanistan, arrived with a PowerPoint presentation.

The first slide that General Lute threw onto the screen caught the eye of Thomas E. Donilon, later President Obama’s national security adviser. “It said we do not have a strategy in Afghanistan that you can articulate or achieve,” Mr. Donilon recalled three years later. “We had been at war for eight years, and no one could explain the strategy.” >continue<

The piece goes on to factor the realization that Pakistan’s emergence as the bigger part of the problem renders the larger scene untenable, a bewildering dimension which threatens to complicate today’s NATO summit.

April 19th
8:21 AM
Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace
Embedded Insight from Neil Shea for American Scholar &#187;

Spend time around soldiers and you realize a lot of this is part of the game, part of being a young man in war. Still, I sensed more anger and hatred than I had encountered before. Givens spun at its center like a black hole. He was in his mid-20s, charismatic and quick, a combat veteran. He threw down declarations like a hip-hop star—respect yourself and no one else; fuck bitches, get money—and the younger infantrymen revered him. Even officers appeared to defer to his humor, efficiency, and rage.Platoons are often structured like high school cliques, and Givens stood at the apex of his, setting the tone and example. A list of characteristics scrolled through my mind as I listened to the men, traits I probably learned from episodes of Law &amp; Order, or Lord of the Flies. Pop-culture sociopathy. Sexualized aggression. The displays of wolves.“This is where I come to do fucked-up things,” Givens said. “So I don’t do them at home.” 
&#8230; In speech we give ideas life. I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes, if, in fact, they had not already committed them elsewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq. Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small, unchallenged wrongs. Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time. &gt;continue&lt;

h/t thepoliticalnotebookimage: based on U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers

Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace

Embedded Insight from Neil Shea for American Scholar »

Spend time around soldiers and you realize a lot of this is part of the game, part of being a young man in war. Still, I sensed more anger and hatred than I had encountered before. Givens spun at its center like a black hole. He was in his mid-20s, charismatic and quick, a combat veteran. He threw down declarations like a hip-hop star—respect yourself and no one else; fuck bitches, get money—and the younger infantrymen revered him. Even officers appeared to defer to his humor, efficiency, and rage.

Platoons are often structured like high school cliques, and Givens stood at the apex of his, setting the tone and example. A list of characteristics scrolled through my mind as I listened to the men, traits I probably learned from episodes of Law & Order, or Lord of the Flies. Pop-culture sociopathy. Sexualized aggression. The displays of wolves.

“This is where I come to do fucked-up things,” Givens said. “So I don’t do them at home.” 

… In speech we give ideas life. I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes, if, in fact, they had not already committed them elsewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq. Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small, unchallenged wrongs. Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time. >continue<

h/t thepoliticalnotebook
image: based on U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers

April 15th
11:08 AM
Afghan whistleblower reports military has &#8216;so distorted the truth … the truth has become unrecognisable&#8217;

"I am – how do you say it? – persona non grata," said Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davis, as he sat sipping a coffee and eating a chocolate sundae in a shopping mall, just a subway stop from the Pentagon.
The career soldier is now a black sheep at the giant defence department building where he still works. The reason was his extraordinarily brave decision to accuse America&#8217;s military top brass of lying about the war in Afghanistan&#8230;.
Davis, 48, drew up two reports containing research and observations garnered from his last tour. He was not short of material. As part of his job he had criss-crossed the country, travelling 9,000 miles and talking to more than 250 people. He had built up a picture of a hopeless cause; a country where Afghan soldiers were incapable of holding on to American gains. US soldiers would fight and die for territory and then see Afghan troops let it fall to the Taliban. Often the Afghans actively worked with the Taliban or simply refused to fight. One Afghan police officer laughed in Davis&#8217;s face when asked if he ever tried to fight the enemy. &#8220;That would be dangerous!&#8221; the man said.  &gt;continue&lt;

Report: Dereliction of Duty II (pdf)  |  Truth Lies and Afghanistan
Fervent Conviction  |  Coordinated Attacks in Kabul

Afghan whistleblower reports military has ‘so distorted the truth … the truth has become unrecognisable’

"I am – how do you say it? – persona non grata," said Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davis, as he sat sipping a coffee and eating a chocolate sundae in a shopping mall, just a subway stop from the Pentagon.

The career soldier is now a black sheep at the giant defence department building where he still works. The reason was his extraordinarily brave decision to accuse America’s military top brass of lying about the war in Afghanistan….

Davis, 48, drew up two reports containing research and observations garnered from his last tour. He was not short of material. As part of his job he had criss-crossed the country, travelling 9,000 miles and talking to more than 250 people. He had built up a picture of a hopeless cause; a country where Afghan soldiers were incapable of holding on to American gains. US soldiers would fight and die for territory and then see Afghan troops let it fall to the Taliban. Often the Afghans actively worked with the Taliban or simply refused to fight. One Afghan police officer laughed in Davis’s face when asked if he ever tried to fight the enemy. “That would be dangerous!” the man said.  >continue<

Report: Dereliction of Duty II (pdf)  |  Truth Lies and Afghanistan

Fervent Conviction  |  Coordinated Attacks in Kabul

March 26th
9:49 AM
Via
crisisgroup:

The West wants to pull out of Afghanistan “with or without a settlement” and attempts to negotiate with the Taliban are unlikely to lead to lasting peace, a report by a respected think-tank said Monday.
In a hard-hitting document the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) condemned “desperate and dangerous moves” by Hamid Karzai’s government to bring Taliban, the allied Haqqani Network and other insurgents to the negotiating table.
If a deal appeared to give the Taliban preferential treatment it was “likely to spark a significant backlash from the Northern Alliance, Hezb-i Islami and other major factions”, it said.
Without a sustainable settlement, after international forces pull out “all indicators point to a fragile political order that could rapidly disintegrate into a more virulent civil war”, it said.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
Photo: Karzai and Gates, Cherie Cullen, DoD/WikimediaCommons

crisisgroup:

The West wants to pull out of Afghanistan “with or without a settlement” and attempts to negotiate with the Taliban are unlikely to lead to lasting peace, a report by a respected think-tank said Monday.

In a hard-hitting document the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) condemned “desperate and dangerous moves” by Hamid Karzai’s government to bring Taliban, the allied Haqqani Network and other insurgents to the negotiating table.

If a deal appeared to give the Taliban preferential treatment it was “likely to spark a significant backlash from the Northern Alliance, Hezb-i Islami and other major factions”, it said.

Without a sustainable settlement, after international forces pull out “all indicators point to a fragile political order that could rapidly disintegrate into a more virulent civil war”, it said.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP)

Photo: Karzai and Gates, Cherie Cullen, DoD/WikimediaCommons

March 25th
12:04 PM
Via
thepoliticalnotebook:

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
News this morning: Asma Al-Assad will be hit with EU sanctioning.
The female members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council say they are being sidelined.
A two-part assessment of the past few months of the Afghan transitional process from the Afghan Analysts Network. (1, 2)
There were two notable longreads pieces this week on Afghanistan, the massacre and the future of US involvement. One, by Neil Shea in The American Scholar, examines how his experiences on embed with US soldiers give insight into how the massacre happened. The other, by Matt Gallagher in the Boston Review, focuses on soldiers looking to the post-massacre political and military future.
Here are the names of the sixteen victims of the massacre.
I made a vision board for the Afghan war on Pinterest.
Ahmed Rashid was interviewed about crisis and politics in Pakistan for NPR Fresh Air.
An article on the powerful part women have played in the Libyan revolution in the Smithsonian.
Brookings’ Saban Center has released a report that estimates the various costs of a Syrian intervention in order to be “executed properly.”
This week marked the nine-year anniversary since the US dropped bombs over Baghdad during the now-infamous shock and awe. CNAS fellow Dr. Colin Kahl testified this week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. 
The Khawajas, a prominent revolutionary family, are under siege by the government of Bahrain.
Some really cool crisis-mapping work: mapping the mainstream media coverage of election violence in Kenya in comparison with citizen journalist coverage.
The International Crisis Group has warned that militarized post-war policies in Sri Lanka could re-ignite violence.
Soldiers overthrew President Touré in a successful military coup in the West African country of Mali, previously considered a quality example of African democratic leadership.
A really fabulous look at some climate security policy dilemmas over at Duck of Minerva.
NPR’s Morning Edition looks at cybersecurity legislation.
The US is boosting its cyberweapons and cyberdefense research: $500m has gone to DARPA over the past 5 years for this purpose.
A nuclear security summit is set to start in Seoul on Monday.
Sebastian Junger has begun an organizaton called Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues that provides freelance journalists with three-day training sessions in emergency medical skills. 
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has updated its information on international arms transfers. Here’s a fact sheet assessing the trends and data from the 2007-11 period.
Four female veterans are running for Congress this year! 
According to the GAO, the Army has serious problems with its payroll system that are causing serious delays in paychecks and could prevent the Army from being audit-ready.
Katy Perry pretended to be a Marine in her latest music video and I don’t so much know how I feel about this. Come to your own conclusions.
Photo: A Black Hawk takes off after unloading a team of Pathfinders and an Afghan patrol in Kandahar. US Army Flickr Stream.

thepoliticalnotebook:

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: A Black Hawk takes off after unloading a team of Pathfinders and an Afghan patrol in Kandahar. US Army Flickr Stream.

March 15th
9:22 AM
"The Pentagon’s key lesson from Vietnam was how to seal off the horror, how to put it in boxes, and how to, voluptuously, embrace it"
February 1st
4:01 PM

"The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad."

Guardian - Julian Borger »
Leaked U.S. Report

…According to published excerpts, the report finds that “Taliban commanders, along with rank and file members, increasingly believe their control of Afghanistan is inevitable. Though the Taliban suffered severely in 2011, its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact.”

The authors, American researchers attached to special forces, conclude that the weakness and venality of the government in Kabul is an increasing source of strength for the insurgents. “In the last year, there has been unprecedented interest, even from [Afghan government] members, in joining the insurgent cause. Afghan civilians frequently prefer Taliban governance over [the Afghan government], usually as a result of government corruption, ethnic bias and lack of connection with local religious and tribal leaders.

The BBC quotes the report as saying: “Reflections from detainees indicate that Pakistan’s manipulation of Taliban senior leadership continues unabated. The Taliban themselves do not trust Pakistan, yet there is a widespread acceptance of the status quo in lieu of realistic alternatives.”

The report also quotes a senior al-Qaida detainee as saying: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”  >continue<

January 14th
5:26 PM
"Then as now, brown bodies are the raw material through and upon which US soldiers realize their darkest fantasies and their deepest secrets. The pornography that popularized the “golden shower” and the Islamophobia that fuels the War on Terror inspire these scenes. In them, US soldiers feminize Muslim men and demonstrate their power over them. US soldiers can and will sodomize, piss on, and otherwise sexually humiliate Muslim and/or Arab men. And the world will witness this confident hierarchy of masculinity through the dissemination of the torturer’s documentation."
—  Sherene Seikaly and Maya Mikdashi, Have a Nice Day, Buddy
December 26th
10:26 AM
Via
"Democracy in both America and Britain is coming under scrutiny these days. Quite apart from the antics of MPs and congressmen, it is said to be sliding towards oligarchy, with increasing overtones of autocracy. Money and its power over technology are making elections unfair. The military-industrial complex is as powerful as ever, having adopted “the menace of global terrorism” as its casus belli. Lobbying and corruption are polluting the government process. In a nutshell, democracy is not in good shape.How strange to choose this moment to export it, least of all to countries that have never experienced it in their history. The West not only exports the stuff, it does so with massive, thuggish violence, the antithesis of how self-government should mature in any polity. The tortured justification in Iraq and Afghanistan is that elections will somehow sanctify a “war against terrorism” waged on someone else’s soil. The resulting death and destruction have been appalling. Never can an end, however noble, have so failed to justify the means of achieving it. (via toobaa)"
—  Simon Jenkins, former editor of The Times, writing in The Guardian newspaper, 8 April 2010  … with a prescience for things occupy.
November 28th
2:37 PM
Protesters burn a US flag during a protest in Multan on November 27, 2011 — Photo by AFP
Pakistanis demand end to US alliance

Members of civil society, lawyers, traders and students organised the  rallies, still relatively small, in major cities of the country of 167  million people, where opposition to the US alliance is rampant.
“The government should cut Nato supplies permanently, take back military  bases from the US and plead that this cases violates the borders in the  UN Security Council”  &gt;continue&lt;

Another Hot Flash  |  China backs Pakistan
AFPAK Disarray  |  Coping with a Failing Pakistan
ZeitVox Pakistan curation

Protesters burn a US flag during a protest in Multan on November 27, 2011 — Photo by AFP

Pakistanis demand end to US alliance

Members of civil society, lawyers, traders and students organised the rallies, still relatively small, in major cities of the country of 167 million people, where opposition to the US alliance is rampant.

“The government should cut Nato supplies permanently, take back military bases from the US and plead that this cases violates the borders in the UN Security Council”  >continue<

Another Hot Flash  |  China backs Pakistan

AFPAK Disarray  |  Coping with a Failing Pakistan

ZeitVox Pakistan curation

October 11th
8:07 AM

U.N. Finds ‘Systematic’ Torture in Afghanistan

Detainees are hung by their hands and beaten with cables, and in some cases their genitals are twisted until the prisoners lose consciousness at sites run by the Afghan intelligence service and the Afghan National Police, according to a United Nations report released here on Monday.

… It paints a devastating picture of abuse, citing evidence of “systematic torture” during interrogations by Afghan intelligence and police officials even as American and other Western backers provide training and pay for nearly the entire budget of the Afghan ministries running the detention centers.

The report does not assess whether American officials knew of the abuses. But such widespread use of torture in a detention system supported by American mentors and money raises serious questions about potential complicity…  >continue<