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Afghanistan Alert: Robert Greenwald Witnesses Security in Kabul
Posted by robertgreenwald on March 25th, 2009

Rethink Afghanistan Director Robert Greenwald is currently in Kabul.  Here is his account of the intense security:

It’s hard to put into words many things about Kabul, where I’ve been interviewing members of the Afghan parliament, women’s advocacy groups, and former Taliban members who want to negotiate peace.

One of the most sobering things I’ve seen is how security takes over your daily life, and this footage of the front of the hotel tells it all. Guards with machine guns patrol everywhere–the face of a conflict brought home.

Keep spreading the word about our petition for congressional oversight hearings that nearly 40,000 people have signed, since these hearings will inform the public and rein in this war. And continue to follow my video blog updates and Twitter feed throughout my journey, as I bring you more experiences from Afghanistan.

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  1. egilpatr says:

    In The World 10, Winter: Afghanistan and New York, is my latest “In The World” anti-war painting. This contrasts a portrait of an Afghani woman in the snow and Afghani hills, with a winter view on my 17th floor, New York City terrace in the snow. The caption that accompanied the photo of the woman was “Heavy snow began falling after the [2009] new year; 1300 Afghans are estimated to have died from cold this winter.” The artist had permission to use the photo as a basis for the painting from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). http://www.gilpatrickart.com/gallery2_people/pe...

  2. egilpatr says:

    In The World 10, Winter: Afghanistan and New York, is my latest anti-war painting. This contrasts a portrait of an Afghani woman in the snow and Afghani hills, with a winter view on my 17th floor, New York City terrace in the snow. The caption that accompanied the photo of the woman was “Heavy snow began falling after the [2009] new year; 1300 Afghans are estimated to have died from cold this winter.” The artist had permission to use the photo as a basis for the painting from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). http://www.gilpatrickart.com/gallery2_people/pe...

  3. Nydia Leaf says:

    Robert,
    Besides thanking you for your continued work and contributions to peace, justice and truth, I want to suggest you contact Ann Wright, the Colonel and Diplomat who resigned from her post in March 2003 as the Iraq war was being launched. Her book DISSENT: Voices of Conscience will inspire you even more. She reopened the US Embassy in Kabul in late 2001 and is a brilliant and superb speaker whose views today you may wish to include in your film.
    MANY THANKS!

  4. Mona Seredin says:

    Mr Greenwald, you are doing a great job exposing what it happening. The Afghani people are just like any other people who want to live in peace where truth and justice prevail. While there is no military solution for the problems we have in Afghanistan, if we can help the population there by building schools, hospitals and means to produce food and jobs, it will be just what they need for the development of their countries. We will benefit too since it will improve our image in the world and get us out from the vicious circle of wars, revenge, and devastation.

  5. Maureen O'Connell says:

    The A4T (Afghans For Tomorrow) Guesthouse in which I stayed in September 2006 was guarded, as was the house near the end of the block. Between and around these fortified and gated enclaves stood buildings completely gutted by the war that raged among the warlords for the power in Kabul, after the Taliban were scattered. Who knows what conditions prevailed behind many gates, as there was no way to see into most homes, they were so fortified and walled. Security entering and leaving was not quite as military-seeming as at your hotel, but I know the feeling of anxiety when exiting to get in the van. Within a week, it passed. So, I assume, have Afghans adjusted to this life of vigilance and caution. Why do we remain pugnaciously rampant and military in a country where our (and that of our corporate mercenaries, like Blackwater) presence adds so much provocation to violence, tension and fear? I don't understand what we have against the Afghan people, that we would add to their misery this way. Why aren't we aiding them, in whatever form they wish their form of government and religious observance to take, rather than trying to impose our will and might upon them?

  6. Kim OConnor says:

    I am the current Vice President of Afghans4Tomorrow. The guesthouse Maureen mentioned below is in west Kabul, Demazang. This area was totally destroyed during the civil war, after the Soviets left and prior to the Taliban taking control of Kabul. We have moved our guesthouse, in part due to security. Since 2006 when Maureen visited the security in Kabul has gotten much worse. But the walled homes is not due to this current situation, but a normal way to build homes in this region.

    My wish for the US involvement in Afghanistan is to help with funding to rebuild, not blow up. I am concerned that the Obama administration is focusing on al Qaeda, when it seems everyone knows that they are more in Pakistan than Afghanistan.

    We armed the nation in the 80's then left. We owe this nation some help now. I volunteer with Afghans4Tomorrow to help educate the Afghans, provide basic medical care and vocational training, and other projects the Afghans themselves ask for.

    The US should be helping build roads, provide power and clean water AND train their military and police (and justice system that is severely lacking there!). That will stem the growth of the Taliban. The notion that we can blow them up is illogical and counter productive.

  7. dotymed says:

    If we are to show the world that America has changed, then it is imperative to not proceed with this “war.” Also, besides the human tragedy, it is not economically viable. Every nation in history, that has attempted to invade and occupy Afghanistan, has been economically destroyed by their attempt. President Obama; there are other ways to change this country without further sacrificing our once proud stature. Further, I know that if you are using 9-11 as an excuse, then you should (and must) have a real examination and public investigation, not a political one, into what really transpired to let 9-11 happen. No one believes in that many consequences happening on the same day with 9-11 as the reult. We do not live in Disneyland.

  8. dotymed says:

    I believe that Americans would overwhelmingly agree that prosecuting the Bush administration is a much higher prioirty than wasting billions more, killing and displacing innocent people. Haven't the war profiteers been given enough blood money? People before profits! Out dated thinking is what has brought our country to its knees. Peace and knowledge are the only salvation left to us.

  9. John Bottorff says:

    Please keep doing this important and critical work. We are lucky to have you bringing this information back the the American public.

    Thank you so much!!
    John Bottorff

  10. Michael Knapp says:

    I am disappointed that the only footage that you have is within the limited confines of a parking garage? I would have thought that you could have at least fimed the entry to Kabal and/or the trip from the airport to the secure location that you are now in. This is not very effective or dramatic footage. This could have been filmed in Iraq or even Los Angeles. What is the purpose of this snippet of meaningless film?

  11. Virginia says:

    The video reminds me of a night I spent in a hotel in Belfast in 1986. the same walls, barbwire, security checks. Thanks goodness that is over!

  12. Judith Gibson says:

    Violence begats violence. We must find a non-military solution.

  13. Patricia Hopkins says:

    We have all been waiting for a Witness like you, know that we are all with you in Spirit, that we value your sacrafice and your unfailing determination to Speak ~with~ the People; and not ~at~ them.

    Our Hearts are with you, may each day bring the Circle together again, together we can do this great thing.

    With Hope and Prayers
    Tricia

  14. Gloria says:

    So, are we to wait until they implode and their people are subjected to the kind of brutal barbarism of places like Ruwanda? Do we wait til it spills over to other countries and erupts into a tsunami engulfing other countries in the region and making it a tinder box? I don't like to impose ourselves anywhere unless it saves lives and us from worse fate later. Please reply.

  15. Judy Bellin says:

    Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. Our little peace group of about 30 seniors is using your videos in our discussions and to spread the reality of the war in Afghanistan in a way that was unachievable previously.

  16. Linda says:

    I just finished reading “Three Cups of Tea” which deals with bringing education to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The boarder areas are so poor that the people have no options other than those offered by the extremists. We need to take a different approach to make a lasting peace and to create educational and economic opportunities for the people in those areas.

    See https://www.ikat.org/ for more information

    Be safe Robert. We're all watching and learning along with you.

    Peace.
    Linda

  17. I am totally against this military build up and more war in this poor place. I am so sad for these people for what they have had to endure at the hands of so many. May we find the way to Peace on Earth. Thanks, robert, for your wonderful efforts and for never stopping your great work. Jane in Seattle

  18. ralphlopez says:

    Robert, Thank you for your work. I am the founder of Jobs for Afghans and I agree with Kim O'Connor of Afghans4Tomorrow that The US should be helping build roads, provide power and clean water AND train their military and police. My org's program stresses cash-for-day-labor jobs, in large numbers, immediately. There is plenty to do like canal and irrigation ditch-clearing, and basic improvement of secondary dirt roads, which would require only hand tools and minimal technology expertise. A base wage of $10 per day would compete with the Taliban's pay of $8 per day (yes the Taliban pays!) I agree with the idea of congressional oversight but I am concerned it becomes another grandstand platform for politicians with no specific agenda ever adopted. 500,000 new day labor jobs would put a real dent in the insurgency and allow Afghans to warm and feed their families. Any chance of adopting a few specific planks for what we would like oversight hearings to accomplish?

    http://jobsforafghans.org

  19. The Truth says:

    It's really important to communicate the entire truth.

    Since 2001 more than $15 billion of aid have been pumped into Afghanistan since U.S. and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban.By far the biggest donor, the United States approved a further $6.4 billion in Afghan aid this year. Much of this aid goes towards infrastructure, agriculture and schools; America is not the villain here.

    This is what happens to a country where religious fanatics like the Taliban are allowed to create a state. Unfortunately, it happens to be a failed state, and one where 9-11 and numerous other terrorist attacks that have killed thousands was planned by Al Qaeda. That is why there is this level of violence and security. That is the genesis of it.

    When you are the world's preeminent superpower you have a responsibility to the civilized world to not allow terrorists to kill innocent people. Especially, when you had thousands of innocent civilians in your own country murdered by terrorists that operate here. Leaving Al Qaeda to function freely is not an option.

  20. Bob Hayes says:

    I wish you the best. My budget is uncertain but I will try and send something soon.
    I am retired and work in a voluntary program of one of the historic peace churches.
    I will also pray for your effort that it touch hearts and minds of those in nation
    and those in high places of authority.

  21. Caroline Good says:

    Mr. Greenwald, please take good care, stay safe and come back, we need you. You are one of our heros. Thank you so much for what you are doing and have already done.

    It seems to me from some of the comments above that people are really confused between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. From what I understand we should have no quarrels with the Taliban, Bin Laden is Al Qaeda and for the most part they've not gotten along. Of course our involvement in that part of the world has united some of the more radical Taliban with Al Qaeda.

    I think President Obama can take some peaceful measures without threat of military violence. Those poor people there must be so sick and tired of all the bloodshed and loosing their loved one.

  22. consareliars says:

    Robert, before Brzeziński and Kissinger decided to import, organize and arm religious fanatics and turn Afghanistan into a Killing field, it was a reasonably safe place for foreigners to visit. Alien, yes, like stepping into another dimension, and I suppose those who traveled through it during that time were seen as equally strange and unfamiliar by the people there. But we were treated with the respect most civilized places treat guests, and we never felt hostility.

    You might want to take a look at the photography of Luke Powell, who traveled to many areas in visits from 1973 to 2003, and see if they might help you better tell the whole story. http://www.lukepowell.com/

  23. The Truth says:

    Caroline, surely you jest? No quarrels with the Taliban? Really? You mean aside from the fact that they gave safe harbor and support to Al Qaeda and rejoiced when 3,000 of our fellow American citizens died on 9-1? Do you realize how justifiably angry statements like yours make reasonable people?

  24. Maureen, these are excellent questions that we intend to focus on. Thanks!

  25. Kim, would you be interested in discussing your work with Afghans4Tomorrow?

  26. Michael, Robert has been filming and conducting lots of interviews for the Rethink Afghanistan documentary. This first video update was just to underscore the incredible amount of security that is everywhere in Kabul, and the rawness of it alone seems pretty dramatic.

  27. Thanks Judy, what group are you working with?

  28. Ralph, thanks for the wonderful work you're doing too. Would you be interested in discussing your group some more, or blogging about it?

  29. Thanks Bob! We certainly can appreciate how difficult it can be to contribute in this economy. But there are great ways to get involved that don't cost money. If you haven't done so already, sign the petition for congressional oversight hearings that can educate people about this war: http://rethinkafghanistan.com/

    And send the petition and our videos to your friends, family, and colleagues at your peace church.

  30. Absolutely, Caroline! There are major differences between Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and there are also major differences within parts of the Taliban. There are certainly some moderate elements of the Taliban with whom we should be negotiating because they want peace . And many of the Al Qaeda members we initially went after in Afghanistan are now in Pakistan.

    Read “Talking with the Taliban” by The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss for more info: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/dreyfuss/415576/...

  31. The Truth says:

    How interesting that after posting a reasoned, thoughtful post here that didn't happen to agree with the “framing” here – the site took it down. Censorship rears it's ugly head.

  32. The Truth says:

    It's shame you censor people who have differing perspectives than you do. Three times now you have deleted posts of mine. I guess preaching to the choir is all you are interested in.

  33. The Truth says:

    Until this site deletes this, freedom loving “progressives that they are”. . . . There are millions of progressive, liberal Democrats like me that have a differing perspective on Afghanistan. You might say we believe what Barack Obama believes. That Afghanistan is a lawless country where the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 thrive because of the safe harbor and support they are provided by their ideological brethren the Taliban. You know those guys don't you? the ones that shoot people in the head in soccer stadiums and behead women for going to school. We must never leave Afghanistan in the control of the despots; all they will do if allowed to prosper freely, is continue to train and plot attacks against the West.

  34. The Truth says:

    This site just deleted this post for the 4th time. Keep it up, I am preparing a nice comprehensive outline for media outlets how BNF censors opposing points-of-view. Here is is again.

    Until this site deletes this, freedom loving “progressives that they are”. . . . There are millions of progressive, liberal Democrats like me that have a differing perspective on Afghanistan. You might say we believe what Barack Obama believes. That Afghanistan is a lawless country where the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 thrive because of the safe harbor and support they are provided by their ideological brethren the Taliban. You know those guys don't you? the ones that shoot people in the head in soccer stadiums and behead women for going to school. We must never leave Afghanistan in the control of the despots; all they will do if allowed to prosper freely, is continue to train and plot attacks against the West.

  35. The Truth says:

    Until this site deletes this, freedom loving “progressives that they are”. . . . There are millions of progressive, liberal Democrats like me that have a differing perspective on Afghanistan. You might say we believe what Barack Obama believes. That Afghanistan is a lawless country where the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 thrive because of the safe harbor and support they are provided by their ideological brethren the Taliban. You know those guys don't you? the ones that shoot people in the head in soccer stadiums and behead women for going to school. We must never leave Afghanistan in the control of the despots; all they will do if allowed to prosper freely, is continue to train and plot attacks against the West.

  36. The Truth says:

    Four times this site has deleted the post blow. I am preparing an outline for a media outlet to show how this site censors those that don't share their political perspectives. Censorship, imagine.

  37. The Truth says:

    Four times this site has deleted the post blow. I am preparing an outline for a media outlet to show how this site censors those that don't share their political perspectives. Censorship, imagine

    Until this site deletes this, freedom loving “progressives that they are”. . . . There are millions of progressive, liberal Democrats like me that have a differing perspective on Afghanistan. You might say we believe what Barack Obama believes. That Afghanistan is a lawless country where the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 thrive because of the safe harbor and support they are provided by their ideological brethren the Taliban. You know those guys don't you? the ones that shoot people in the head in soccer stadiums and behead women for going to school. We must never leave Afghanistan in the control of the despots; all they will do if allowed to prosper freely, is continue to train and plot attacks against the West.

  38. TheTruth says:

    Four times this site has deleted the post blow. I am preparing an outline for a media outlet to show how this site censors those that don't share their political perspectives. Censorship, imagine

    Until this site deletes this, freedom loving “progressives that they are”. . . . There are millions of progressive, liberal Democrats like me that have a differing perspective on Afghanistan. You might say we believe what Barack Obama believes. That Afghanistan is a lawless country where the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 thrive because of the safe harbor and support they are provided by their ideological brethren the Taliban. You know those guys don't you? the ones that shoot people in the head in soccer stadiums and behead women for going to school. We must never leave Afghanistan in the control of the despots; all they will do if allowed to prosper freely, is continue to train and plot attacks against the West.

  39. TheTruth says:

    March 27th – Five times now this site has deleted the post blow. I am preparing an outline for a media outlet to show how this site censors those that don't share their political perspectives. Censorship, imagine,

    Until this site deletes this, freedom loving “progressives that they are”. . . . There are millions of progressive, liberal Democrats like me that have a differing perspective on Afghanistan. You might say we believe what Barack Obama believes. That Afghanistan is a lawless country where the terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 thrive because of the safe harbor and support they are provided by their ideological brethren the Taliban. You know those guys don't you? the ones that shoot people in the head in soccer stadiums and behead women for going to school. We must never leave Afghanistan in the control of the despots; all they will do if allowed to prosper freely, is continue to train and plot attacks against the West.

  40. Kim OConnor says:

    I would be thrilled to do so. I assume you can see my email even though it is not displayed?

  41. The Truth says:

    On behalf of millions of progressive liberal Democrats, I thank you President Obama for developing an outstanding Afghanistan policy. The American people are behind you 100%.

    WASHINGTON — Widening war in “the most dangerous place in the world,” President Barack Obama launched a fresh effort Friday to defeat al-Qaida terrorists in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Stirring echoes of Sept. 11 and making the war his own, Obama warned that al-Qaida is actively planning attacks on the United States from secret havens in Pakistan. He said he was setting new benchmarks and sending in 4,000 more troops, hundreds of civilians and increased aid for a six-year war that has seemed to be easing in Iraq but still has no end in sight.

    “I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future,” Obama said. “That's the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just.”

    The president, who declared last weekend an “exit strategy” was needed for Afghanistan, never used those words in announcing his plans on Friday. His strategy is built on an ambitious goal of boosting the Afghan army from 80,000 to 134,000 troops by 2011 _ and greatly increasing training by U.S. troops accompanying them _ so the Afghan military can defeat Taliban insurgents and take control of the war.

    That, he said, is “how we will ultimately be able to bring our troops home.”
    reply edit record video comment reblog flag

  42. mike rubbo says:

    Luke, what wonderful pictures. Everyone who is interested in Afghanistan should see them. Mike rubbo

  43. consareliars says:

    To be clear, I am not Luke, but I agree his photos, and the brief comments he adds to many of them, should be viewed by anyone with an interest in understanding that reality.

    At my request Mr. Powell sent me a scan of a 1977 Ariana Airlines calendar with the title: “Afghanistan – Haven of Peace and Tranquility.” You an see the image at: http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo235/ConsAr...

    You can also see a photo of Luke Powell surrounded protectively by the top guys in one village he visited at http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo235/ConsAr...

  44. [...] a point of comparison to Brooks’s limited revelations, let’s look at Director Robert Greenwald’s recent account of what’s going on in Afghanistan. Greenwald, who was in Kabul last week, said that while [...]

  45. sharif says:

    if the usa wants to makhe afghanistan stabilize. they should be honest wilth themself thats mean the real enemy in afghansiatan is the isi of pakistan and the intelegent services of mi5. these two big conser would not allouwd the word and the usa particularly to make from afghanistan a country with peace and prosperity.
    i we want to breng peace the us militairy forces should to strike the al-qaide in pakistan without of any permission of pakistani administration because this admininstration is a part of the big probleem. why usa can't see that?

  46. sharif says:

    if the usa wants to makhe afghanistan stabilize. they should be honest wilth themself thats mean the real enemy in afghansiatan is the isi of pakistan and the intelegent services of mi5. these two big conser would not allouwd the word and the usa particularly to make from afghanistan a country with peace and prosperity.
    i we want to breng peace the us militairy forces should to strike the al-qaide in pakistan without of any permission of pakistani administration because this admininstration is a part of the big probleem. why usa can't see that?

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