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Archive for July, 2009

Posted by Juan Cole on July 27th, 2009

The following is a re-post from

Despite being among the poorest people in the world, the inhabitants of the craggy northwest of what is now Pakistan have managed to throw a series of frights into distant Western capitals for more than a century. That’s certainly one for the record books.

And it hasn’t ended yet. Not by a long shot. Not with the headlines in the U.S. papers about the depredations of the Pakistani Taliban, not with the CIA’s drone aircraft striking gatherings in Waziristan and elsewhere near the Afghan border. This spring, for instance, one counter-terrorism analyst stridently (and wholly implausibly) warned that “in one to six months” we could “see the collapse of the Pakistani state,” at the hands of the bloodthirsty Taliban, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the situation in Pakistan a “mortal danger” to global security.

What most observers don’t realize is that the doomsday rhetoric about this region at the top of the world is hardly new. It’s at least 100 years old. During their campaigns in the northwest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, British officers, journalists and editorialists sounded much like American strategists, analysts, and pundits of the present moment. They construed the Pashtun tribesmen who inhabited Waziristan as the new Normans, a dire menace to London that threatened to overturn the British Empire.


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Posted by Brave New Foundation on July 17th, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Location: Encino Community Center
4935 Balboa Blvd
Encino, CA 91316
(1/2 block North of Ventura Blvd.)

Time:  7 pm

This event is sponsored by Valley Democrats United with co-host San Fernando Valley Young Democrats.

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald will screen parts of Rethink Afghanistan and discuss his recent trip to Kabul.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Location: Westchester Christian Church
8740 La Tijera Blvd.
Westchester, CA 90045

Time: 2 pm

RSVP to Sheila at (310) 494-0477 or

This is event is co-sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War, West Progressives, Culver City Democratic Club, and LAX Area Democratic Club.

A Brave New Foundation staff member along with Afghanistan veterans will be present to screen parts of Rethink Afghanistan and discuss experiences around the campaign and the making of the film.

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Posted by robertgreenwald on July 16th, 2009

When I directed Iraq for Sale, it became appallingly evident that private contractors like CACI and Titan played a critical role in the torture and abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. Much like Blackwater, KBR, and others, these war profiteers were never held accountable for their unconscionable crimes. Instead, they were rewarded with hundreds of millions in new contracts. The Obama administration has already taken some laudable steps to prevent another Abu Ghraib: ordering the CIA to end enhanced interrogation techniques and follow a more lawful code of conduct; and ordering the Justice Department to investigate the use of torture. However, the President’s recent objection to a provision in the 2010 defense funding bill that would make interrogation an “inherently governmental function” is a huge step backwards.

This provision, backed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), states “the interrogation of enemy prisoners of war, civilian internees, retained persons, other detainees, terrorists, and criminals when captured, transferred, confined, or detained during or in the aftermath of hostilities is an inherently governmental function and cannot be transferred to contractor personnel.” In other words, our government would no longer be able to hand off interrogation duties (and the lavish contracts that come with them) to mercenary firms out to profit from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s more, if interrogators are caught violating the law and abusing detainees, our government would have the power to hold those interrogators accountable.

According to The Washington Post, both the White House and the Pentagon have a litany of excuses for opposing this provision. They don’t want US forces to be “limited” in conducting lawful interrogations, but the whole point of the provision is to set limitations and create transparency for interrogation practices. And either the US military should be training new interrogators themselves, as a senior Senate aide has suggested, or, lacking enough soldiers to accomplish this goal, perhaps our government should seek diplomatic alternatives to military escalation in Afghanistan.

Last month, Jeremy Scahill reported that the use of “private security contractors” has shot up 23 percent in Iraq and 29 percent in Afghanistan during the second quarter of 2009. Scahill estimated that there are over 242,000 contractors working on these two wars, and that contractors comprise a whopping 50 percent of our total forces in the region.

Our morals mean nothing if we do not act on them. Our tax dollars are funding this abuse and we must not be complacent. Call your senators today 202-224-3121 and tell them contractors have no place in interrogations, and you expect them to support Senator Levin’s government-only interrogation provision. Once you have done that, call the White House 202-456-1414 and leave a message for President Obama, urging him to stand with you to end prisoner abuse.

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Posted by Brave New Foundation on July 15th, 2009

El periodista y anfitrión del programa de Telemundo “El Contexto” Ruben Luengas habló sinceramente con Robert Greenwald, productor de Brave New Foundation, en los asuntos mayores frente a la guerra en Afganistán. Mientras la mayoría de norteamericanos forma sus opiniones en Afganistán leyendo las noticias, nadie sabe la realidad que se encuntra en el país. Sin embargo, cinematográfico documental Robert Greenwald ha estado manteniendo un ojo cercano en Afganistán habiendo visitado recientemente Kabul y trabajando actualmente en su último proyecto Repensar Afganistán.

En su reportaje, “Infierno en Afganistán,” Ruben Luengas afirma que cuando utilizamos el poder militar para resolver lo que es en esencia un problema político y económico, el resultado es la muerte y accidentes civiles en gran parte debido a política exterior de EEUU. Por ejemplo, en el documental se destaca una anciana con cinco nietos que han perdido a sus padres debido a la guerra. Ella, un anciano con una pierna amputada, se confronta con la responsabilidad de cuidar por sus nietos sin poder trabajar. En el documental ella prefiere morirse antes que vivir la manera en que ella y sus nietos viven actualmente. Otro ejemplo destaca a un padre que pone a su joven hija arriba en venta para ganar dinero para alimentar a otros miembros de la familia.


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Posted by Steve Hynd on July 15th, 2009

The Guardian’s foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont, has seen his share of conflicts in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, including Iraq. Today, he writes of his misgivings about the counter-insurgency “clear, hold and build” plan which everyone from Petraeus and McChrystal on down are pinning their Afghan hopes on.


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Posted by Siun on July 13th, 2009

The quagmire of Afghanistan becomes clearer each day as reports filter out that the grand surge in Helmand is stymied and Afghan townspeople are not so pleased with their “liberation.”

Yet, while an uproar in the UK over their casualties this week – 15 dead in 10 days – grows, (see “renowned British military historian Correlli Barnett … in the pages of the very conservative Daily Mail” (h/t Steve Hynd of Newshoggers)) Gen McChrystal continues to up the expectation that he will be asking for more US troops and more billions when he completes his strategic review:

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Sunday that when he gives his assessment to the Obama administration next month of what is needed to defeat the Taliban , he won’t be deterred by administration statements that he cannot have more U.S. troops.

One of the central talking points justifying our ongoing war has always been talk about protecting or saving the women of Afghanistan. Both the right and the left have used this argument as a rationale for continuing – yet few ever listen to the wishes of actual Aghan women.


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Posted by Tom Engelhardt on July 11th, 2009

Cross-posted on Tom

It was a blast. I’m talking about my daughter’s wedding. You don’t often see a child of yours quite that happy. I’m no party animal, but I danced my 64-year-old legs off. And I can’t claim that, as I walked my daughter to the ceremony, or ate, or talked with friends, or simply sat back and watched the young and energetic enjoy themselves, I thought about those Afghan wedding celebrations where the “blast” isn’t metaphorical, where the bride, the groom, the partygoers in the midst of revelry die.

In the two weeks since, however, that’s been on my mind — or rather the lack of interest our world shows in dead civilians from a distant imperial war — and all because of a passage I stumbled upon in a striking article by journalist Anand Gopal. In “Uprooting an Afghan Village” in the June issue of the Progressive magazine, he writes about Garloch, an Afghan village he visited in the eastern province of Laghman. After destructive American raids, Gopal tells us, many of its desperate inhabitants simply packed up and left for exile in Afghan or Pakistani refugee camps.


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Posted by ZP Heller on July 9th, 2009

Thousands of Iranian protesters marched toward Tehran University today, both to commemorate the 1999 student uprising and to continue their opposition toward the recently stolen presidential election. Once again, the Iranian regime has responded with violence, as Basij militia members dispersed demonstrators with live fire, tear gas, and other brutal measures. It’s clear though that Iran’s reform movement is still alive and strong, despite the regime’s best efforts to thwart protesters and the fact that the US media have largely buried this story beneath coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.

Though instantaneous social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter helped spark and coordinate last month’s protests, we simply can’t expect Iran’s reform movement to succeed as quickly. Any success will be slow going, a point Juan Cole emphasized when he discussed the chaos in Iran with The Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney yesterday at Brave New Studios. Cole, the author of Engaging the Muslim World, told Pitney that while the Obama administration definitely can’t intervene to the point that they enable a reformist victory, they must continue engaging Iranian hardliners if the current regime remains in power.

Respectful, diplomatic engagement, Cole argued, is key to resolving the Iranian nuclear threat, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the continued US/NATO military presence in Afghanistan, and Iran’s relationship with both Hamas and the Hezbollah. Cole, who also believes Iran’s election was stolen, sees all of these issues as being intertwined, and he’s absolutely right.

It’s well worth watching Cole and Pitney (who’s been doing a terrific job in his own right covering the Iranian election) discuss the future of the reform movement, the possibility of an emerging power sharing situation within the Iranian government, and how we can keep supporting reformists still voicing their dissent.

(Help spread awareness about the reform movement in Iran by posting this video on Facebook and Twitter: “What’s next for the reform movement in the wake of the violent #iranelection?  @jricole explains:“)

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Posted by robertgreenwald on July 8th, 2009

Self immolation is a method of suicide by lighting oneself on fire. According to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, self immolation has never been such an epidemic in Afghanistan as it is today. This is one fact that leads people to the sobering reality that our efforts in Afghanistan have done nothing for the vast majority of women there.

Despite this, politicians, military leaders, and sadly even some misguided American feminist groups continue to use the plight of women in Afghanistan to justify more spending, more troops and more war. People who care for the people of Afghanistan have got to see this for what it is. Women never benefit from bombs and bullets.

When the U.S and its allies chose to put the Karzai regime in place, they conveniently overlooked the fact that it is overrun with the same patriarchal attitudes toward women as the Taliban. During my recent trip to Afghanistan, I saw the crushing poverty that Afghans must endure. A few brave women from RAWA and the Afghan Women’s Mission pointed out in a recent article that the military establishment claims that it must win the military victory first and then the U.S. will take care of humanitarian needs. But they have it backward. Improve living conditions and security will improve. Focus on security at the expense of humanitarian goals, and coalition forces will accomplish neither. The first step toward improving people’s lives is a negotiated settlement to end the war.

Share this video and help your friends and family to see what is really happening to women in Afghanistan. Refuse to accept the line that we must stay in Afghanistan to protect the women of Afghanistan. Help us get people to Rethink Afghanistan.


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Posted by Nick Holt on July 7th, 2009

A few weeks ago, we launched Rethink Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties with an action step to donate to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) for their work in the refugee camps and slums. Supporters generously responded with $6,000 in donations.

However, the truth is that RAWA can’t even think about delivering these supplies to the 1,000 family refugee camp in Kabul unless they’re sure there’s enough food and blankets for everyone.

We need $9,000 more (that’s just $15 per family) to care for ALL of these people before we can deliver the flour, rice, ghee, blankets, and tent carpets to the refugee camp.

Tomorrow, we’re launching Women in Afghanistan, the fifth segment of Rethink Afghanistan. Watch a sneak preview of the segment above, and know that when tomorrow’s Peacemaker email comes, your clicks, Diggs, tweets, and Facebook shares are desperately needed to share this important video campaign.

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