Get Rethink Afghanistan Updates
Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter Get E-Mail Updates
You can help

Archive for March, 2009

Posted by Ralph Lopez on March 31st, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

As Afghanistan experts in NGOs which actually work among the people frantically try to tell Obama that he is making a big, big, mistake, the arrival of the first of 17,000 more American troops has already borne fruit. It has managed to unite different factions of Taliban under the banner of Mullah Omar, who a month ago was wondering how to stay alive day-to-day against Predator strikes on one hand and radical young Taliban commanders who would like to take his place on the other. Obama single-handedly solved many of his problems. The UK Guardian:

three rival Pakistani Taliban groups have agreed to fight together against international troops in Afghanistan. The pact occurred after Mullah Omar, the cleric who leads the Afghan Taliban, called for all militants fighting in Pakistan to stop and come to Afghanistan to “liberate Afghanistan from the occupation forces.” The united group is calling itself Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen, or Council of United Holy Warriors.

Most of the “Taliban” rank-and-file in Afghanistan currently consists of 19-year-old kids who stash their weapons under rocks until some Americans come around, which gives them the chance to fight and make a few bucks.

The Obama plan is missing the forest for the trees, as do almost all present discussions of the insurgency. The West cannot understand that you cannot have 50% of children stunted through malnutrition, a 40% unemployment rate, no alternative to growing poppies as a means to feed your family, and foreign troops on the ground as a nice big red flag and not have an insurgency.

(more…)

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by ZP Heller on March 31st, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

The same neocons who orchestrated the war in Iraq and undermined US efforts in Afghanistan the first time around are at it again, determined to sink us deeper into the costly Afghan quagmire. They have resurfaced in the form of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a Washington think tank headed by Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor. As Sam Stein reported last week on The Huffington Post, the FPI will hold a summit today titled “Afghanistan: Planning for Success.” And slated to attend the event are powerful Republicans and Democrats like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. John M. McHugh (R-NY), and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). What’s particularly troubling about McCain and a think tank like the FPI is that they are trying to manipulate President Obama’s plans for military escalation into a massive, limitless war of Iraq proportions.

We already know where McCain stands on Afghanistan. He and fellow warmonger Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war by urging the Obama administration to support an all-out military commitment in Afghanistan, regardless of cost. McCain clearly shares the FPI’s warped notion of “success” in Afghanistan, which he has discussed everywhere from the Op-Ed pages of the Washington Post to his recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute. He envisions a Utopian outcome to this war, one in which our military engages in a broad-based, long-term counterinsurgency to create “a stable, secure, self-governing Afghanistan that is not a terrorist sanctuary.” Compounding that highly improbable scenario is the fact that McCain and the FPI are getting away with defining “success” in Afghanistan because not enough mainstream journalists or members of Congress are contesting their views.

(more…)

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Tom Engelhardt on March 30th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

(Cross-posted from TomDispatch.com)

Let’s start by stopping.

It’s time, as a start, to stop calling our expanding war in Central and South Asia “the Afghan War” or “the Afghanistan War.” If Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke doesn’t want to, why should we? Recently, in a BBC interview, he insisted that “the ‘number one problem’ in stabilizing Afghanistan was Taliban sanctuaries in western Pakistan, including tribal areas along the Afghan border and cities like Quetta” in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

And isn’t he right? After all, the U.S. seems to be in the process of trading in a limited war in a mountainous, poverty-stricken country of 27 million people for one in an advanced nation of 167 million, with a crumbling economy, rising extremism, advancing corruption, and a large military armed with nuclear weapons. Worse yet, the war in Pakistan seems to be expanding inexorably (and in tandem with American war planning) from the tribal borderlands ever closer to the heart of the country.

These days, Washington has even come up with a neologism for the change: “Af-Pak,” as in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations. So, in the name of realism and accuracy, shouldn’t we retire “the Afghan War” and begin talking about the far more disturbing “Af-Pak War”?

(more…)

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by robertgreenwald on March 28th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

One day back from my trip to Afghanistan, and I first want to thank so many of you who sent wonderful messages, encouragement, and suggestions. Being in a dark room in Kabul while being able to post on Facebook and Twitter truly speaks to the connected universe.

The final day in Kabul: We were on our way to the peace and reconciliation committee when our “fixer” (that is the official name of the person who translates and helps arrange interviews, accommodations, and security) let me know that there would be 20 or so members of the Taliban turning in their weapons that day! I almost jumped out of my seat, which is relatively simple because virtually none of the roads are paved and so the bumps are big and continuous.

When we arrived, sitting in the courtyard were 20 or more men, their weapons lined up against the wall. I conducted an abbreviated interview with the head of the committee, then raced with cameramen to begin talking and interviewing the Taliban. Within a few minutes I was engaged in interviewing, talking, and asking the various Taliban how long they had been fighting (from 2-30 years), why they fought, what they wanted to say to the United States, and what they wanted in general (jobs and to take care of their families).

As we raced to the airport after the interviews, I emailed our Producer Jason Zaro to find a translator who could work this weekend so we could get the interviews translated and begin editing Monday.

At the airport in Kabul I met Nazir, who had found me through Facebook/Twitter. He had film of the refugee camps that he wanted me to have. Sitting in the general waiting area, surrounded by many Afghans waiting for flights, Nazir popped a DVD of his footage into my computer, and proceeded to show me deeply dramatic faces of “collateral damage”: children, tents, hunger, deprivation.

With both the video of the Taliban interviews and the DVD of the refugee camp, I boarded my plane back to the States. I will be posting clips as we edit and get them translated in the coming days. You will be able to see them on Facebook, Brave New Films, the Rethink Afghanistan website.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Gareth Porter on March 28th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

WASHINGTON, Mar 28 (IPS) – The argument for deeper U.S. military commitment to the Afghan War invoked by President Barack Obama in his first major policy statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan Friday – that al Qaeda must be denied a safe haven in Afghanistan – has not been subjected to public debate in Washington.

A few influential strategists here have been arguing, however, that this official rationale misstates the al Qaeda problem and ignores the serious risk that an escalating U.S. war poses to Pakistan.

Those strategists doubt that al Qaeda would seek to move into Afghanistan as long as they are ensconced in Pakistan and argue that escalating U.S. drone airstrikes or Special Operations raids on Taliban targets in Pakistan will actually strengthen radical jihadi groups in the country and weaken the Pakistani government’s ability to resist them.

(more…)

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by robert dreyfuss on March 28th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

It could have been worse. But there’s a lot of bad news.

I listened to President Obama’s speech, and I spent the morning over at the White House listening to officials there talk about where the Afghan plan is going. Here are some initial thoughts.

President Obama’s new strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan war isn’t Quaker-inspired, but it’s not neocon-inspired, either. It has a lot of moving parts, but if you’re looking for hopeful signs, or for a light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps the most important aspect of the plan revealed today is that it’s a work in progress. It sets nothing in stone — meaning that President Obama can adjust the plan — escalate or de-escalate — in the months ahead. What he does will depend on what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it will depend on what happens in the United States, too, in Congress, the media, and public opinion.

(more…)

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Meteor Blades on March 28th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

After 60 days of comprehensive reviews and leaks about differences over those reviews within the administration, no surprises have emerged in the new strategy for the “good war” in Afghanistan that President Obama announced today. Not even the slightest hint about when the U.S. troop commitment might end. And not a word about the 550 or more prisoners in the infamous Bagram prison, many of them previously tortured and still held without recourse to legal or humanitarian intervention.

Thousands of additional troops and hundreds of civilians with expertise in agriculture and civil projects will be deployed with a major focus on counterterrorism. The objective will be to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda,” the President said in a speech which reminded the world of the loss of nearly 3000 on September 11, 2001, and thousands killed – many of them Muslims – by al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere since then.

Tactics will apparently come from General David Petraeus’s field manual on counterinsurgency. That is, hunt down Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, protect the Afghan population, and heighten reconstruction efforts. Or better said, construction, since Afghanistan is no Iraq. It has neither a modern infrastructure throughout most of the country, where the population is 75% rural, nor accountable civil institutions at the national, provincial or local levels. Illiteracy and semi-literacy predominates.

(more…)

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by tomhayden on March 27th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

17,000 or 21,000 more US troops will not protect Americans against Al Qaeda attacks.

The Obama plan instead will accelerate any plans Al Qaeda commanders have for attacking targets in the United States or Europe. The alternative for Al Qaeda is to risk complete destruction, an American objective that has not been achieved for eight years. A terrorist attack need not be planned or set in motion from a cave in Waziristan. The cadre could already be underground in Washington or London. The real alternative for President Obama should be to maintain a deterrent posture while immediately accelerating diplomacy to meet legitimate Muslim goals, from a Palestinian state to genuine progress on Kashmir.

President Obama is right, at least politically, to take very seriously the threat of another 9/11 from any source. Besides the suffering inflicted, it would derail his agenda and perhaps his presidency. This is all the more reason he must understand that by repeatedly threatening to “kill Al Qaeda” he is provoking a hornets’ nest without protection against a devastating sting.

(more…)

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by dcrowe on March 27th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

(Cross-posted at Return Good from Evil.)

In my previous post in this series, I explained that the basic assumption of counterinsurgency is that combat troops can live with a local population, protect them, and obtain a measure of communal respect such that the population will form relationships with our troops versus our opponents. To do this, the doctrine requires that our troops accept high, short-term tactical risk in exchange for long-term strategic gain. COIN requires troops accept much higher risk to themselves and their comrades and to exercise a very high level of restraint when responding to violence. The doctrine takes people trained to be the most lethal fighting force on the planet, men and women intentionally fashioned into a brotherhood/sisterhood of warriors who “leave no one behind,” and puts them in a very, very high stress environment and expects them to watch their comrades be injured and then *not* call down the thunder.

That….sounds like a really bad idea.

(more…)

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by tomhayden on March 26th, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

The Center for American Progress has positioned itself as a “progressive” Washington think tank, especially suited to channel new thinking and expertise into the Obama administration. It therefore is deeply disappointing that CAP has issued a call for a ten-year war in Afghanistan, including an immediate military escalation, just as President Obama prepares to unveil his Afghanistan/Pakistan policies to the American public and NATO this week.

It is likely that Obama will follow most of CAP’s strategic advice, assuming the think tank to be the progressive wing of what’s possible within the Beltway.

That means a long counter-insurgency war ahead, with everything from massive incarcerations and detention to Predator strikes that amass increasing civilian casualties. CAP begins by calling on the president to meet the request of his commander in Afghanistan for another 15,000 troops in addition to the 17,000 Obama already has committed, which would bring the near-term US total to 70,000. To pay for these additional troops, CAP proposes redirecting $25 billion annually from combat in Iraq to Afghanistan. In addition, CAP favors up to $5 billion annually for diplomatic and economic assistance, also from a redirection of Iraq spending.

(more…)

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Peacemakers take action to lead the charge to end the war. Join forces with the over 100,000 people who make a difference.
FACT SHEETS

BLOG POSTS FROM DERRICK CROWE
BLOG POSTS FROM ROBERT GREENWALD
RECENT POSTS

SEARCH THE BLOG
Subscribe via RSS
Become a Peacemaker



Bronze Telly Award
QUESTIONS
For general questions, email us here.
For technical issues regarding this site, contact us here.

PRESS

For Press inquiries, please contact Kim at: bravenewfoundation.press@gmail.com



CREDITS
Director: Robert Greenwald - Executive Director: Jim Miller - Producer: Jason Zaro - Associate Producer: Dallas Dunn, Jonathan Kim, and Kim Huynh - Researcher: Greg Wishnev - Editor: Phillip Cruess - Political Director: Leighton Woodhouse - VP Marketing & Distribution: Laura Beatty - Production Assistant: Monique Hairston

LEGAL
Anyone is allowed to post content on this site, but Brave New Foundation 501(c)(3) is not responsible for that content. We will, however, remove anything unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, racist, or that contains other material that would violate the law. By posting you agree to this.





Brave New Foundation | 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232