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 July, 2010

Posted by The Agonist on July 25th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Readers of Tina’s Dual Fronts coverage and aggregation of all things Afghan (and Iraqi) won’t be surprised by Wikileaks latest: Warlogs. It’s a bit similar to what the Washington Post did with the national security state last week. Not much in it is technically new. However, it is aggregated for all to see in plain language how far the reality has been obfuscated by the spin.

The New York Times covers it here.

Der Spiegel here.

And The Guardian is here.

Please add more links and stories in the comments.

Newshoggers on the largest Pentagon leak, ever.

ISI and Pakistan Army Kill Americans

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Josh Mull on July 25th, 2010

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Watch Part 2 of Rethink Afghanistan – Pakistan, “The Most Dangerous Country”

If you need further evidence of why our war in Afghanistan is so de-stabilizing for Pakistan, or how Pakistan’s “Strategic Depth” is a threat to the United States, or, of course, why General Kayani’s “silent coup” in Pakistan means we need to accelerate our withdrawal, then look no further than this New York Times article [emphasis mine]:

The documents, to be made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.[...]

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult. [...]

The man the United States has depended on for cooperation in fighting the militants and who holds most power in Pakistan, the head of the army, Gen. Parvez Ashfaq Kayani, ran the ISI from 2004 to 2007, a period from which many of the reports are drawn. American officials have frequently praised General Kayani for what they say are his efforts to purge the military of officers with ties to militants.

Get it? Not only are we fighting a civil war in Afghanistan, which has nothing to do with Al-Qa’eda, but we are also fighting a proxy war against Pakistan. They don’t care about our US interests, they care about their own country’s interests, and it is in their interest to kill Americans in Afghanistan, as well as aiding Al-Qa’eda. All so that Pakistan can control Afghanistan and battle against India.

The US must stop escalating in Pakistan and end the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s future government is already taking shape, and Pakistan has enough of a powerful progressive movement that they can stabilize their country, and bring their government into line, provided that we end our war in both countries. Our troops should not be dying for General Kayani’s proxy war with India and they should not be dying in a civil war on behalf of President Karzai.

David Swanson writes:

On the House calendar for this week is a vote on a $33 billion supplemental bill to escalate the war in Afghanistan.  The Senate did not accept the House version (passed without a vote on July 1st).  The House will likely now vote on the Senate version or something close to it.  This will likely mean something quite unusual: a straightforward vote in which yes means yes more war, and no means no.[...]

Our message is simple:

Vote no on funding this escalation of war, regardless of whether it’s a procedural vote, and regardless of any good measures attached to it.


FCNL has a toll-free number to call your representative: 1-888-493-5443, or use the standard number (202) 224-3121.

Remember, if you’re trying to get things done in Washington, pressure works. Call Congress, tell them that it’s time to block the war. No more civil wars, no more proxy wars, it’s time for our troops to come home.

Join us on Rethink Afghanistan’s Facebook page, and be sure to check out the Meetups in your area.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Just Foreign Policy on July 25th, 2010

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

The war supplemental for Afghanistan is expected to come back from the Senate to the House next week – without any kind of timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and without money to save teachers’ jobs attached.

AP reports:

 

In a take-it-or-leave-it gesture, the Senate voted Thursday night to reject more than $20 billion in domestic spending the House had tacked on to its $60 billion bill to fund President Barack Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan.

[...]

The moves repel a long-shot bid by House Democrats earlier this month to resurrect their faltering jobs agenda with $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs, $5 billion for Pell Grants to low-income college students, $1 billion for a summer jobs program and $700 million to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Labor unions had strongly backed the House Democratic effort to attach money to the supplemental to boost employment and avoid teacher layoffs. Will these unions now urge House Democrats to vote no on any jobless war supplemental?

Few expect that the House, in a freestanding vote next week, would reject the $33 billion request for the Afghanistan war, since until now there has been a solid block of more than 90% of House Republicans committed to voting yes on what they would consider a "relatively clean" war supplemental.

read more

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Newshoggers.com on July 24th, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani army, has been retained in that position for the next three years when he was supposed to retire later this year. The official narrative is that he has reluctantly agreed to continue serving although he had not sought to do so – and that this is an internal decision which the U.S. had no part in. If you believe either of those I've a bridge to sell you.

Some, like Shuja Nawaz, think this will allow Kayani to "continue the transformation of the Pakistan into army into a professional body ready to fight insurgencies and conventional enemies equally well" and will be a stabilizing move. Others, like Josh Mull, see the extension of Kayani's term as "bad news for us, due to his cozy relationship with militants and terrorist organizations, as well as his undermining of the democratically elected civilian government" and "could be considered another in Pakistan’s long history of military coups, albeit a completely silent one."

My own view, as anyone who has followed my posts about the increasingly Emperor Palpatine lookalike General, is far closer to Josh's. The Guardian's Saeed Shah puts the underlying dynamic succinctly:

The sudden move underscores the army's strength over the democratically elected government of President Asif Ali Zardari, which has been racked by political turmoil. Kayani will now outlast the prime minister and the president and is likely to oversee the next general election.

Just as importantly, Kayani's hand-picked man for running Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency, General Pasha, has already been given his own extension.

 Guess who really runs Pakistan?

The US government loves Kayani – he's the kind of strongman Clinton, Holbrooke, Mullen and Petraeus are comfortable with while being sufficiently "behind the curtain" as to not raise too much talk of supporting dictators as was the case with Musharraf. The Western media, following their military sources as ever, love to trot out cliches about him while reporting on how important he is to US plans in the region. It's almost impossible to read a piece about Kayani in the mainstream which doesn't use at least two of "shadowy", "soft-spoken" and "chain-smoker". Some have gone as far as noting that he's respected because he's so machievellian, describing him as a "master manipulator" and quoting CIA sources as saying “We admire those traits”.

However, what you'll rarely find in Western coverage is that Kayani was ISI head during the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2006 and Pasha was ISI head during the Mumbai massacre of 2008 – planning for both of which led back to Pakistan's intelligence agency.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by The Agonist on July 24th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Schiotz said Saturday the court ruled Ms. Åsne Seierstad had used inaccurate information in her accounts of Rais and didn’t act in good faith.

So, she wrote best selling bullshit on an Afghan family. Now the other members of the Afghan family can sue her too.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Just Foreign Policy on July 23rd, 2010

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

The war supplemental for Afghanistan is expected to come back from the Senate to the House next week – without any kind of timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and without money to save teachers’ jobs attached.

AP reports:

 

In a take-it-or-leave-it gesture, the Senate voted Thursday night to reject more than $20 billion in domestic spending the House had tacked on to its $60 billion bill to fund President Barack Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan.

[...]

The moves repel a long-shot bid by House Democrats earlier this month to resurrect their faltering jobs agenda with $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs, $5 billion for Pell Grants to low-income college students, $1 billion for a summer jobs program and $700 million to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Labor unions had strongly backed the House Democratic effort to attach money to the supplemental to boost employment and avoid teacher layoffs. Will these unions now urge House Democrats to vote no on any jobless war supplemental?

Few expect that the House, in a freestanding vote next week, would reject the $33 billion request for the Afghanistan war, since until now there has been a solid block of more than 90% of House Republicans committed to voting yes on what they would consider a "relatively clean" war supplemental.

read more

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Josh Mull on July 23rd, 2010

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Pakistan’s General Kayani, the man our leaders in Washington fawn over and who sits atop the intensely destabilizing “Strategic Depth” networks in Afghanistan, has just been handed a three year extension of his term as Chief of Army Staff by Prime Minister Gilani:

The Pakistani government on Thursday gave the country’s top military official, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, another three years in his post, a move that analysts said would bolster Pakistan’s anti-terrorism fight and cement its role in neighboring Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the extension in a late-night televised address to the nation. “To ensure the success of these [counter-terrorism] operations, it is the need of the hour that the continuity of military leadership should be maintained,” he said.

The impact on our war in Afghanistan is obvious, as both McClatchy and I included it in the lede; Call it “strategic depth” or “cementing its role,” it all adds up to influence on Afghan President Karzai’s government, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qa’eda, and the future of all of these players in Afghanistan.

The short of it is that Kayani’s extension is bad news for us, due to his cozy relationship with militants and terrorist organizations, as well as his undermining of the democratically elected civilian government. But the details are important, especially as they could mean the difference between uncontrolled escalation and our planned military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

For the complete picture, we’ll take a look at what a few experts (read: bloggers) are saying to determine the good, the bad, and the ugly ramifications Kayani’s extension has on the US war in Afghanistan. (more…)

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Newshoggers.com on July 23rd, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

Michael Cohen is right that the overall direction of the debate about the West's best strategy in Afghanistan now leans heavily "toward de-escalation, not escalation". The obvious reality on the ground has meant that the anti-war movement and "COINtras" have won that argument because escalation proponents themselves admit there's no prospect for it's success in any timeframe or budget that makes sense. But I'd caution my friends who have argued long and hard for escalation to beware of Beltway "very serious persons" bearing gifts as they climb aboard the de-escalation bandwagon.

A case in point is Bush-era deputy NSA Robert Blackwill's notion of a de facto partition of Afghanistan into a Taliban-controlled Pashtun South and a Kabul-controlled everywhere else. It's an argument Blackwill is pushing hard, from it's original appearance in a Politico op-ed to his piece in the UK's Financial Times today, and at first glance a beguiling one.

In spite of the commitments made at Tuesday’s conference on the future of Afghanistan in Kabul, the current US counter-insurgency strategy (Coin) is likely to fail. The Taliban cannot be sufficiently weakened in Pashtun Afghanistan to coerce it to the negotiating table. America cannot win over sufficient numbers of the Afghan Pashtun on whom Coin depends. President Hamid Karzai’s deeply corrupt government shows no signs of improvement. The Afghanistan army cannot stand up to the Taliban for many years, if ever. Pakistan’s military continues to support its Afghan Taliban proxies. And the long-term Coin strategy and the far shorter US political timeline are incompatible.

President Barack Obama has promised to review the administration’s Afghanistan policy in December. After this review the US should stop talking about exit strategies, and accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south. Instead Washington should move to ensure that north and west Afghanistan do not fall too, using for many years to come US air power and special forces – some 40,000-50,000 troops – along with the Afghan army and the help of like-minded nations. Such a de facto partition would be a profoundly disappointing outcome to America’s 10 years in Afghanistan. But, regrettably, it is now the best that can realistically and responsibly be achieved.

One can see why this approach would be popular among FT readers. British leaders are fed up with Afghanistan, are only still there because of the nation's need to cozy up to the U.S., and the old solution of setting up colonial divisions to ensure the wogs keep busy fighting each other must seem tempting. But do we need to be so obvious about it?

In any case, Birdwell's not telling us the whole story. While, as my friend Joshua Foust puts it, "if I had to choose between leaving people with the corrupt Karzai government or the Taliban I'd pick corrupt Karzai", that's likely to be a false binary since Karzai's entire plan is for the West to leave the Afghan people with some form of Karzai/Taliban/Everybody Else coalition. The result is more likely to be decentralization – a "patchwork quilt" as the CFR's Richard Haass terms it. 

However Haass' call for the US and it's allies to deliberately set up such a patchwork quilt suffers from the same basic flaw Blackwill's idea does. Both rely on the false "Pottery Barn Rule" that we can justify forcing the shopkeepers to run their store in a particular way just because we broke it, that invasion is just cause for further intervention and denial of local self-determination. Just because decentralization seems the most likely outcome gives us no mandate to dictate that outcome to Afghans. They surely have the right to decide how to best run their own store, or not run it as the case may be.

Finally, neither Blackwill nor Haass' grand ideas for further Western meddling actually end the occupation, ever. Both see a residual Western troop presence in perpetuity, and more meddling. For that reason, I'd urge my friends in the anti-war movement to reject both as shabby, attempted co-option of that movement by the Beltway Boys who got us into this mess in the first place.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Josh Mull on July 22nd, 2010

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

In our latest video from Rethink Afghanistan, we hear a tale of the deadly consequences of war directly from those most affected by it, the Afghans themselves. Zaitullah Ghiasi Wardak describes a special forces night raid which resulted in the death of his 92 year-old father, allegedly shot 25 times as he lay in his bed. It’s a disturbing and gripping story that exposes what Nick Turse calls “real war.”

Few Americans born after the Civil War know much about war. Real war. War that seeks you out. War that arrives on your doorstep—not once in a blue moon, but once a month or a week or a day. The ever-present fear that just when you’re at the furthest point in your fields, just when you’re most exposed, most alone, most vulnerable, it will come roaring into your world.

Here was a man who had lived 92 years, surviving kings and communists and criminal despots just to eke out a small living for his family in eastern Afghanistan, and we ended it at all with one botched night raid, one piece of bad intelligence, one misstep in our “population-centric” counterinsurgency campaign and targeted counter-terrorism operations.

Now we could waste our time endlessly debating the finer points of COIN doctrine, the motivations of the special forces, whether it was deliberate or accidental, a war crime or a tragic error, but that doesn’t really get us anywhere. The sundry fallacies of COIN have already been thoroughly exposed, here and elsewhere, and the really pressing questions about this specific event in Wardak province can only be answered with a thorough investigation of government and military officials.

Instead we should see this as an example of what those who oppose the war are talking about when they say it isn’t making us any safer. Both presidents Bush and Obama framed the war in terms of national security, keeping America safe, and so it only follows that as the facts of our occupation come to light, we reach the conclusion that the war isn’t making us safer. In fact, it is making us less safe.

But what exactly does that mean, to be less safe? This video is the perfect answer. (more…)

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Newshoggers.com on July 22nd, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

Michael Cohen is right that the overall direction of the debate about the West's best strategy in Afghanistan now leans heavily "toward de-escalation, not escalation". The obvious reality on the ground has meant that the anti-war movement and "COINtras" have won that argument because escalation proponents themselves admit there's no prospect for it's success in any timeframe or budget that makes sense. But I'd caution my friends who have argued long and hard for escalation to beware of Beltway "very serious persons" bearing gifts as they climb aboard the de-escalation bandwagon.

A case in point is Bush-era deputy NSA Robert Blackwill's notion of a de facto partition of Afghanistan into a Taliban-controlled Pashtun South and a Kabul-controlled everywhere else. It's an argument Blackwill is pushing hard, from it's original appearance in a Politico op-ed to his piece in the UK's Financial Times today, and at first glance a beguiling one.

In spite of the commitments made at Tuesday’s conference on the future of Afghanistan in Kabul, the current US counter-insurgency strategy (Coin) is likely to fail. The Taliban cannot be sufficiently weakened in Pashtun Afghanistan to coerce it to the negotiating table. America cannot win over sufficient numbers of the Afghan Pashtun on whom Coin depends. President Hamid Karzai’s deeply corrupt government shows no signs of improvement. The Afghanistan army cannot stand up to the Taliban for many years, if ever. Pakistan’s military continues to support its Afghan Taliban proxies. And the long-term Coin strategy and the far shorter US political timeline are incompatible.

President Barack Obama has promised to review the administration’s Afghanistan policy in December. After this review the US should stop talking about exit strategies, and accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south. Instead Washington should move to ensure that north and west Afghanistan do not fall too, using for many years to come US air power and special forces – some 40,000-50,000 troops – along with the Afghan army and the help of like-minded nations. Such a de facto partition would be a profoundly disappointing outcome to America’s 10 years in Afghanistan. But, regrettably, it is now the best that can realistically and responsibly be achieved.

One can see why this approach would be popular among FT readers. British leaders are fed up with Afghanistan, are only still there because of the nation's need to cozy up to the U.S., and the old solution of setting up colonial divisions to ensure the wogs keep busy fighting each other must seem tempting. But do we need to be so obvious about it?

In any case, Birdwell's not telling us the whole story. While, as my friend Joshua Foust puts it, "if I had to choose between leaving people with the corrupt Karzai government or the Taliban I'd pick corrupt Karzai", that's likely to be a false binary since Karzai's entire plan is for the West to leave the Afghan people with some form of Karzai/Taliban/Everybody Else coalition. The result is more likely to be decentralization – a "patchwork quilt" as the CFR's Richard Haass terms it. 

However Haass' call for the US and it's allies to deliberately set up such a patchwork quilt suffers from the same basic flaw Blackwill's idea does. Both rely on the false "Pottery Barn Rule" that we can justify forcing the shopkeepers to run their store in a particular way just because we broke it, that invasion is just cause for further intervention and denial of local self-determination. Just because decentralization seems the most likely outcome gives us no mandate to dictate that outcome to Afghans. They surely have the right to decide how to best run their own store, or not run it as the case may be.

Finally, neither Blackwill nor Haass' grand ideas for further Western meddling actually end the occupation, ever. Both see a residual Western troop presence in perpetuity, and more meddling. For that reason, I'd urge my friends in the anti-war movement to reject both as shabby, attempted co-option of that movement by the Beltway Boys who got us into this mess in the first place.

Share this:
Comments Off
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