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Archive for March, 2010

Posted by The Agonist on March 9th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Mar 8

Fiction of Marja as City Was U.S. Information War

For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a “city of 80,000 people” as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marja was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centres in Helmand.

It turns out, however, that the picture of Marja presented by military officials and obediently reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as a historic turning point in the conflict. ~ Gareth Porter

See Marjah ~ Google Earth/Maplandia

US keeps secret anti-Taliban militia on a bright leash

They are a secret tribal militia, the controversial creation of US commanders in Afghanistan eager to buttress local opposition to the Taliban. So clandestine are the units formed to protect villages in a critical valley in southern Afghanistan that US officials and special forces commanders in Kabul refuse to discuss them.

But the Guardian has learned that in one important regard, the Local Defence Initiative forces are not so secretive after all. As they patrol villages close to the key southern city of Kandahar, the fighters are being forced to wear bright yellow reflector belts so that their special forces mentors do not mistake them for Taliban.


** Iraq election turnout 62%, officials say
** Years before US can judge Iraq success: Odierno
** Britain won respect in Middle East over Iraq: Miliband
** Rethink Afghanistan

please check comments for updates and related articles

In Baghdad, mortar rounds mark Iraq election day

Dozens of mortar rounds thudded across Baghdad on Sunday morning and at least 12 people were killed as Iraqis went to the polls in an election testing the stability of the country’s still-fragile democracy.

Insurgents had vowed to disrupt the elections — which they see as validating the Shiite-led government and the U.S. presence — with violence in order to increase uncertainty over a looming U.S. troop drawdown and widen still jagged sectarian divisions.

As the polls opened at 7 a.m., bombs began exploding and mortar rounds landing across the city.

** Live-Blogging the Iraqi Elections
** U.S. adopts hands-off approach to Iraqi vote
** Iraq parliamentary election hit by insurgent attacks(pic-BBC)
** A look at the major coalitions in Iraq’s election
** Sadr urges Iraqis to vote to help end U.S. “occupation”
** Sunday Iraq vote culminates seven years of sacrifice
** Could US troops remain in Iraq?

Iran’s Ahmadinejad to visit Afghanistan on Monday

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travels to neighboring Afghanistan on Monday for talks with his counterpart Hamid Karzai, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said the one-day trip to Kabul would be Ahmadinejad’s first visit to Afghanistan since both he and Karzai were re-elected last year.

Karzai had invited Ahmadinejad and the visit was aimed at expanding bilateral ties, Mehr added. They would also discuss “solutions for settling the problems” in Afghanistan.

** Female Marines set to win over rural women’s hearts, minds in Afghanistan
** Rethink Afghanistan
** US military deaths in Afghan region at 930

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Posted by Just Foreign Policy on March 8th, 2010

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

Thank you for calling your Representative urging them to support the Kucinich resolution for a withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan, H. Con Res. 248.

Let us know how your call went by submitting a comment below. Sharing your Representative’s name, whether you were successful in reaching their office, and any feedback you received from staffers would be especially helpful.

Thanks!

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Posted by The Agonist on March 7th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

In Baghdad, mortar rounds mark Iraq election day

Dozens of mortar rounds thudded across Baghdad on Sunday morning and at least 12 people were killed as Iraqis went to the polls in an election testing the stability of the country’s still-fragile democracy.

Insurgents had vowed to disrupt the elections — which they see as validating the Shiite-led government and the U.S. presence — with violence in order to increase uncertainty over a looming U.S. troop drawdown and widen still jagged sectarian divisions.

As the polls opened at 7 a.m., bombs began exploding and mortar rounds landing across the city.

** Live-Blogging the Iraqi Elections
** U.S. adopts hands-off approach to Iraqi vote
** Iraq parliamentary election hit by insurgent attacks(pic-BBC)
** A look at the major coalitions in Iraq’s election
** Sadr urges Iraqis to vote to help end U.S. “occupation”
** Sunday Iraq vote culminates seven years of sacrifice
** Could US troops remain in Iraq?

Iran’s Ahmadinejad to visit Afghanistan on Monday

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travels to neighboring Afghanistan on Monday for talks with his counterpart Hamid Karzai, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said the one-day trip to Kabul would be Ahmadinejad’s first visit to Afghanistan since both he and Karzai were re-elected last year.

Karzai had invited Ahmadinejad and the visit was aimed at expanding bilateral ties, Mehr added. They would also discuss “solutions for settling the problems” in Afghanistan.

** Female Marines set to win over rural women’s hearts, minds in Afghanistan
** Rethink Afghanistan
** US military deaths in Afghan region at 930


please check comments for updates and related articles

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on March 6th, 2010

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

We’ve been having a tough time finding even very progressive candidates willing to think for themselves on Afghanistan and not just go along with Obama and the Pentagon. Bill Hedrick, as you can see from the above video, is not one of those. Maybe it’s because so many of his children are or have been serving in the military overseas, but Bill has a very clear vision of America’s role in Afghanistan– and it sure isn’t as an occupier or as a nation-builder. We’ll talk with Bill about that at Crooks and Liars today at 11am (PT) when Blue America formally endorses him in his race for the congressional seat currently held by one of the most corrupt men– according to, of all sources, Fox News– in the U.S. Congress, Ken Calvert.

Bill Hedrick has been a public school teacher in Riverside County, California for 35 years. And his wife is a public school teacher too. Bill is also serving his 5th term as president of the Corona-Norco School Board, one of the biggest in the state, responsible for over 50,000 children. In 2008 he stepped up and ran against Calvert. But a school teacher running against an entrenched favorite of Wall Street? The DCCC had no interest in helping– and they didn’t. Outspent 5-1, Bill ran an effective grassroots campaign and came closer to dislodging a Republican incumbent than any other Democrat in the country who didn’t actually do it. Bill spent $191,461 and Calvert spent $1,150,432. Bill received 123,890 votes and Calvert edged him with 129,937.

This year is different… kind of. Sensing a winner, the DCCC has given Bill their blessing– but not much else– any certainly no money. So for Bill it’s all about volunteers and grassroots tactics again. But that makes sense for someone with deep roots in the community anyway. He told me that the big issue in CA-44, a Republican-leaning district that Obama won in 2008, is jobs and that almost all the other issues flow from that overarching one. Sometime he seems frustrated that the Democratic Party, Inc in Washington isn’t getting it when it comes to the pain real people are feeling in the heartland.

The national Democratic Party needs to focus more on stimulus that supports small business recovery and job creation. In a region like this small businesses are the economic engines of recovery and job growth. The big banks aren’t lending. I think the president is moving in the right direction but what we need is an infusion of money for community banks with an obligation that they will make loans to small, local businesses. Calvert voted for Bush’s massive Wall Street bailout twice, a bailout with no accountability. I opposed that last time and, believe it or not, found some commonality– on that– with the Ron Paul folks who were also opposed.

Calvert has also been a big supporter of so-called “free trade,” which is not how I see the economic future of this country and is exceedingly unpopular in this district. We’ve been hemorrhaging jobs. This district used to be a manufacturing area– steel, light industry… but no more. NAFTA and policies like that sent the jobs overseas and those jobs never came back. Many in the Tea Party movement out here have stopped talking about all that anti-immigrant stuff and started focusing on the real problem: the old fashioned extreme greed that maximizes profits no matter what the cost to everyone else. People are starting to wake up to the fact that companies that became successful in America and because of America have been off-shoring jobs and have no loyalty to our country, our workers or our interests.

Calvert always claims to be an “independent voice for Riverside County;” it’s baloney. He never differs from his party. I will do what’s best for my constituents even if it’s at odds with party policy. We need an emphasis on community banks, not Wall Street. We need job creation here and we seem to be stuck in policies that create jobs in China. We need policies that encourage manufacturing in the United States.

That’s why Blue America is so enthusiastic about Bill’s campaign. No one has to twist his arm to do the right thing. He decided to get into national politics because he sees the need to do the right thing. He’s like the polar opposite of a Blue Dog. He has every intention of joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus and when he talks about being at odds with his party, it isn’t because their policies aren’t conservative and special interest-oriented enough; it’s because they’re too conservative and too oriented towards special interests. Bill has been and continues to be a man who analyzes the problems this country is facing through the eyes of everyday American working families, not through the eyes of the political and business elites that run both parties in DC. We need more Democrats like Bill Hedrick. Please consider contributing to his campaign, volunteering here and getting the real story on Ken Calvert (and by all means examine the official police report on his arrest for lewd conduct with a prostitute in a public park). In fact, if you have some time, here’s the Fox News special on corruption in Congress, well worth watching beginning to end. Calvert’s astounding section begins at around 25 minutes in.

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Posted by Newshoggers.com on March 6th, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Derrick Crowe

A new report from the New America Foundation states that one of every three people killed in the U.S.'s not-so-secret drone war in Pakistan is a civilian. The report also discloses that none of the strikes in 2009 targeted Bin Laden, and that they have had little impact on the Taliban's ability to plan operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To the contrary, the drone strikes serve as a powerful recruiting tool for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

According to New America Foundation's Peter Bergen and Kathren Tiedemann (emphasis mine):

Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to the present have killed between 830 and 1,210 individuals, of whom around 550 to 850 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent.

The authors note that the rapidly escalating use of drones by the Obama Administration far exceeds the rate of use by the Bush Administration, with 2009's 51 strikes exceeding the total number of strikes under the entire Bush Administration.

The report is worth excerpting at length regarding the effect of drone strikes on al Qaeda and the Taliban. In short, they're not working:

None of the reported strikes has appeared to target America’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

…[T]he U.S. drone strikes don’t seem to have had any great effect on the Taliban’s ability to mount operations in Pakistan or Afghanistan or to deter potential Western recruits, and they no longer have the element of surprise.

…After around 18 months of sustained drone strikes, many of Pakistan’s militants have likely moved out of their once safe haven in the FATA and into less dangerous parts of the country, potentially further destabilizing the already rickety state.

…[A]lthough the drone strikes have disrupted militant operations, their unpopularity with the Pakistani public and their value as a recruiting tool for extremist groups may have ultimately increased the appeal of the Taliban and al Qaeda, undermining the Pakistani state. This is more disturbing than almost anything that could happen in Afghanistan, given that Pakistan has dozens of nuclear weapons and about six times the population.

Incredibly, after this litany of negatives, the report's authors conclude that drone strikes are "a critical tool." Their conclusion doesn't seem to follow from their premises. What they seem to mean instead is that "we're all out of other ideas."

Had enough? Become a fan of the Rethink Afghanistan campaign on Facebook and join our fight to bring the Afghanistan war, and the drone strikes, to an end.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on March 6th, 2010

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!


I’ve been astounded at the number of otherwise thoroughly progressive Democratic candidates who seem to be telling me something to the effect of “well, I do want peace and Bush and Cheney were assholes and Iraq was terrible but let’s leave it to Obama to figure out how to get us out of Afghanistan.” Fortunately, not all Democrats running for Congress have that mentality. It’s refreshing to hear House candidates Marcy Winograd (D-CA), Regina Thomas (D-FL) and Bill Hedrick (D-CA) and Senate contenders Jennifer Brunner (D-OH) and Elaine Marshall (D-NC) as eager to hold Obama’s feet to the fire as they would be Bush’s and Cheney’s; maybe not as eager but definitely as willing.

And as I’ve mentioned many times before, there were 32 courageous Democrats who voted against Obama’s shameful supplemental war appropriations bill last June. Yesterday one of those courageous Democrats, Cleveland’s Dennis Kucinich, introduced H.Con.Res. 248, a privileged resolution that will require the House of Representatives to debate whether to continue the war in Afghanistan. Next Wednesday, March 11th will probably be the day this is debated. So far there are 16 co-sponsores: John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI); Ron Paul (R-TX); José Serrano (D-NY); Bob Filner (D-CA); Lynn Woolsey (D-CA); Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC); Danny Davis (D-IL); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Michael Capuano (D-MA); Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Timothy Johnson (R-IL); Yvette Clarke (D-NY); Eric Massa (D-NY); Alan Grayson (D-FL); and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

This is what Dennis said yesterday on the House floor when he introduced the resolution:

“There is a new way to fight war in Afghanistan. U.S. Commanders are publicly telling the Taliban when we are coming and where we are going to wage war. This while Karzai tries to cut a deal with the Taliban!
 
“Meanwhile a large offensive is being mounted– an assault on Kandahar.  The U.S. is going to have 100,000 troops ready for a big battle by autumn and logistical problems abound.  Here is a quote from the February 20th National Journal, “So, despite the immense effort to push out supplies, the front-line fighters sometimes don’t even have the minimum they need. ‘We had guys out there at outposts in my area of operations starving because we couldn’t get resupply in to them,’” said one Major. 
 
“What is this all about? To strengthen corrupt central government officials building villas in Dubai? I am introducing a privileged resolution to get us out of Afghanistan and I urge your support,” Kucinich added.

And, as I said, not all Democratic candidates for Congress have been snowed by Obama and the Pentagon. President Obama needs to start thinking about what he’s going to do when this sort of thing starts happening– as it inevitably will– here in the U.S. Marcy Winograd is running against one of the worst of the corporate war-mongers, Jane Harman. Marcy has never wavered, regardless of which party controlled the White House:

I support Congressman Kucinich’s resolution to force debate on the war and carnage in Afghanistan. Why are we still there? To prop up a permanent war economy here? Now is the time to transition to a new Green economy, to forsake weapons manufacturing for infrastructure repair in America. In order to realign our priorities, to make security at home a top concern, we need our congress to lead the way out of Afghanistan. When elected, I am prepared to do that.

As Robert Naiman wrote yesterday at Just Foreign Policy, “The Pentagon doesn’t want Congress to debate Afghanistan. The Pentagon wants Congress to fork over $33 billion more to pay for the current military escalation, no questions asked, no restrictions imposed for a withdrawal timetable or an exit strategy.”

Ideally, from the point of view of the Pentagon, Congress would fork over that money right away, before the coming Kandahar offensive that the $33 billion is supposed to pay for, because you can expect a lot of bad news out of Afghanistan in the form of deaths of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians once the Kandahar offensive starts, and it would sure be awkward if all that bad news reached Washington while the $33 billion was hanging fire.

So it’s a great thing that Rep. Kucinich and his 16 allies are forcing Congress to debate the issue, and it would be even better if more Members of Congress would be urged by their constituents to support Kucinich’s resolution. That would be a signal to the House leadership that continuation of the open-ended war and occupation is controversial in the House, and the House leadership should not try to ram through $33 billion more for the war on a fast-track without ample opportunity for debate and amendment.

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Posted by Derrick Crowe on March 5th, 2010

A new report from the New America Foundation states that one of every three people killed in the U.S.’s not-so-secret drone war in Pakistan is a civilian. The report also discloses that none of the strikes in 2009 targeted Bin Laden, and that they have had little impact on the Taliban’s ability to plan operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To the contrary, the drone strikes serve as a powerful recruiting tool for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

According to New America Foundation’s Peter Bergen and Kathren Tiedemann (emphasis mine):

Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to the present have killed between 830 and 1,210 individuals, of whom around 550 to 850 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent.

The authors note that the rapidly escalating use of drones by the Obama Administration far exceeds the rate of use by the Bush Administration, with 2009’s 51 strikes exceeding the total number of strikes under the entire Bush Administration.

The report is worth excerpting at length regarding the effect of drone strikes on al Qaeda and the Taliban. In short, they’re not working:

None of the reported strikes has appeared to target America’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

…[T]he U.S. drone strikes don’t seem to have had any great effect on the Taliban’s ability to mount operations in Pakistan or Afghanistan or to deter potential Western recruits, and they no longer have the element of surprise.

…After around 18 months of sustained drone strikes, many of Pakistan’s militants have likely moved out of their once safe haven in the FATA and into less dangerous parts of the country, potentially further destabilizing the already rickety state.

…[A]lthough the drone strikes have disrupted militant operations, their unpopularity with the Pakistani public and their value as a recruiting tool for extremist groups may have ultimately increased the appeal of the Taliban and al Qaeda, undermining the Pakistani state. This is more disturbing than almost anything that could happen in Afghanistan, given that Pakistan has dozens of nuclear weapons and about six times the population.

Incredibly, after this litany of negatives, the report’s authors conclude that drone strikes are “a critical tool.” Their conclusion doesn’t seem to follow from their premises. What they seem to mean instead is that “we’re all out of other ideas.”

Had enough? Become a fan of the Rethink Afghanistan campaign on Facebook and join our fight to bring the Afghanistan war, and the drone strikes, to an end.

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Posted by Newshoggers.com on March 4th, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Dave Anderson:

I'm coming late to this party, but I want to highlight a couple of things.

First, from Yorkshire Ranter from last week:

Well, this is unusual; Londonstani confirms that the Pakistanis just arrested 50% of the Taliban high command, in so far as such a thing matters. Not only that, they're willing to extradite one of them to Afghanistan. First of all, Pakistan and Afghanistan even talking is rare. Secondly, extradite? What is this, Germany? Don't they know they're meant to administer a medically unnecessary enema and ship the guy to the Kerguelens or somewhere where they can lock him in a dungeon for the next ten years…

Next Laura Rosen from about two weeks ago notes that Iran captured the head of Jundallah:

Iran says its security forces have captured the leader of the Baluch Sunni ethnic minority group Jundullah, which Iran has claimed is being supported by the U.S. and other western security services to destabilize the country, the Los Angeles Times reports:

Iran's security forces said they captured the head of an ethnic militant group they have fought for years Tuesday morning and claimed he was at an American base in Afghanistan a day before he was caught….

Via PBS Frontline's Tehran Bureau, the Iran-based "Iranian Diplomacy" research center reports that Rigi was arrested with the help of the Pakistani intelligence agency and possibly even the United States. The motive for the alleged foreign help not immediately clear to the analyst.

Jundallah has long been rumored to be a neo-con favored proxy for the United States. Ken Anderson noted that instability in Balochistan blocked several natural gas export routes that would lie outside of the US geo-political orbit in 2008, and Jundallah had claimed responsibility for several fairly effective terrorist bombings against Iranian security forces in Southeastern Iran. 

This is odd at first glance if the Jundallah leader was at a US compound and then was burned in either an Iranian-Pakistani cooperative arrangement or a menage a trois of nation-state interests coinciding.  The simplest explanation is the Iranian allegation is either out-right not true but intended for domestic consumption or it is technically, sort-of kind-of true but is still intended for domestic consumption.  A more complex explanation is the Obama Administration's policy of engagement with Iran means the value of Jundallah has gone down dramatically in the US's eyes, and the cost of burning a no-longer useful proxy is low if the outcome is a regional dentente. 

The Yorkshire Ranter has a few more interesting points about the seeming crack-down on troublesome insurgent groups in South Asia:

It certainly looks like some kind of sudden outbreak of regional cooperation, in a sort of tacit agreement to jointly attack each others' rebels. Someone smarter than me would probably point out that this is natural – it's the difference between being a state and not being a state….

The first talks between India and Pakistan at foreign minister level for a while. It seems to have gone reasonably well; in the light of the Kayani doctrine speech, in which the General said that Pakistan would be satisfied if Afghanistan wasn't explicitly aligned with India, as opposed to being run by the Taliban as satraps for Pakistan, you might wonder if there's a bigger deal afoot.

If India agrees not to claim a sphere of influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan might be willing to lock up the Quetta shura as a sign of good faith, and then…perhaps they might get a payoff in concessions on Kashmir, and/or trade with India and with the wider world. How that interlocks with the Iranians is not quite clear, but it would fit with the Pakistanis getting sufficient assurances from the other regional powers for them to crank down the degree to which their various half-rebels, half-proxies cause trouble.

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Posted by DownWithTyranny on March 3rd, 2010

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!


Maine was first… again. As Bruce Gagnon wrote at AfterDowningStreet, the annual town hall meeting at beautiful Deer Isle, Maine voted to end the war in Afghanistan– by a 2-1 margin. I wish yesterday was as smooth for me on the war front. Instead I spent the day arguing with progressive Democratic candidates about Afghanistan. They all want to support Obama. They all believe that because he’s not Bush, Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, is the right war. I shouldn’t say, “all.” We have some amazing leaders stepping up and talking out loud and clear against the occupation, like Marcy Winograd, Regina Thomas, Doug Tudor and Bill Hedrick, our next Blue America endorsee.

A few nights ago I spent some time with a true-blue Democratic nominee in a solidly blue district, She’s going to be a congresswoman next January. And she’s going to vote to keep funding the war. Today I spoke to another woman, another sterling progressive, but one in a solidly Republican district. I doubt she’s going to be a congresswoman in January but if she were to win she would also vote to keep funding the war. On everything else, both of these women are outstanding. But neither is ready to “give up” on Afghanistan. One actually told me we have to keep fighting so we can prevent the Afghanis from killing each other. I guess if we keep killing them, they’re not killing each other!

One of the Democratic candidates I spoke with sincerely informed me that if we left Afghanistan all our allies who trusted us there would be killed. I felt I had time-traveled back to my college years and was listening to someone talking about why we couldn’t leave Vietnam. So sad!

Blue America has a page, No Means No, dedicated to the 32 courageous Democrats who stood up to Obama last June when he put forward a supplemental war funding budget. 32 Democrats. That’s it. Not one more. Now Obama is getting ready, probably in April, to shove through another 33 billion dollar supplemental– a disgrace. I wonder how much that 32 will grown. Enough the stop the madness? Today one of those 32, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, prepared to introduce a Privileged Resolution to end the war in Afghanistan (on March 24). The resolution requires that the House debate the continuing war in Afghanistan, now the second longest war in American history. Here’s what he had to say about it:

Washington has a lot of money. It has trillions for war, but no money for housing. Money for war, but no money for health care. Money for war, but no money for education. Money for war– no money to rebuild our cities. No money to create jobs, but money for war.

The Democrats took control of the Congress in 2006 with a promise to end the War in Iraq and it’s not enough for this Administration to slow-walk the end of the war, which could continue for years to come. And it’s not enough for a Democratic Administration to escalate a war in Afghanistan at a time when there’s no clear objective and no end in sight of the contribution of blood and treasure, to a region which has never been conquered by any foreign country.

It’s time that we take a stand as citizens. And it’s also time to force Congress to take it’s Constitutional responsibility seriously. Article 1, Section 8 requires that Congress has the war-making power. It is absolutely imperative that Congress be required to assert it’s responsibility on behalf of the American people. Congress is directly elected by the people. And Congress has to respond and step up to it’s responsibility to decide if we’re going to stay at war in Afghanistan. And so, soon, I will bring to the Floor of the House a Privileged Resolution which will force a vote as to whether or not we stay in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan is hopeless and unwinnable and endless: “This year will be the third in a row that tens of thousands of new United States troops have arrived in Afghanistan with plans to ‘clear, hold and build’ areas controlled by the Taliban. Those previous surges have achieved little success at holding or building, as the international coalition and Afghan government have inevitably failed to come up with realistic plans for what happens after the fighting is done. Is the campaign in Marja destined for the same fate?” It never worked in Vietnam and it certainly isn’t going to work in Afghanistan. The whole idea of building “an enduring, stable, secure, prosperous and democratic state” is so far from any kind of objective reality that anyone who believes it should be committed to an insane asylum other than Congress. Even Petreaus, speaking yesterday in Nashville, admitted the war isn’t close to being over. All the Democrats who say they’re supporting it claim Obama will end it in June. Something is seriously wrong. Maybe Afghanistan banning live coverage of attacks will make the problems go away… or at least make the death throes of the Afghan puppet regime and Obama’s clueless approach less embarrassing for everyone concerned.

Good luck fighting these assholes (and for what reason again?):

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Posted by The Agonist on March 3rd, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Mar 3

In Afghanistan, U.S. is fighting tribal insurgency, not jihad

Finally, after eight years, the U.S. military in Afghanistan is acknowledging the fact that the war there is more against a Pashtun tribal insurgency than against an offshoot of al-Qaeda. In support of this belated realization, there is now evidence of military funding for several research projects aimed at understanding the culture of the Pashtun tribes and what is needed to win them over.

The success, however, of this changed perception will rest on the Obama administration’s flexibility to accept the historical reality that the concept of jihad among Pashtuns, which is fueling this insurgency, is closely tied to external interventions. The U.S. intervention after Sept. 11 is the casus belli for the Pashtun uprising, not a global jihad agaisnt the West.

After centuries of invasions by nomadic Central Asian tribes and the armies of Persian kings and Alexander the Great, rival Pashtun tribes united around the tenets of the Pashtunwali code that governed their independence, and later by the concept of jihad in Islamic times. The Pashtun tribes only converted to Islam in the 10th century, more than 300 years after Islam was founded in Arabia, and they have traditionally followed a nonorthodox Sufi version of the religion.

** Gen. Petraeus tells Charlotte crowd to expect ‘hard year’ in Afghanistan
** Rethink Afghanistan
** Mowing the grass’ in Afghanistan
** NATO unity threatened by defense budget and equipment shortfalls
** Pakistan finds secret al-Qaeda and Taliban underground cave complex

Iraq’s Top Cleric Refuses to Influence Elections

No one man in Iraq has more power to change the outcome of the country’s elections on Sunday than a frail cleric who lives in an ascetic house in this holy city. And yet he has refused to wield it, shaping the relationship between Islam and the state at a crucial juncture in Iraq’s history.

The cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s senior Shiite spiritual leader, has repeatedly refused to endorse any of the electoral coalitions fighting for votes among the country’s Shiite majority. He did so most recently three days ago.

**Iraqi elections have high stakes, but low bar
** Iraqi forces seize 10 caches of weapons, explosives likely meant for attacks on election day
** US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,380
** Are Kurds’ Days of Kingmaking Over?

please check comments for updates and related articles

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