Get Rethink Afghanistan Updates
Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter Get E-Mail Updates
Join Us on Facebook

Archive for April, 2011

Posted by The Agonist on April 30th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist


(Flicker/Derrick Crowe& Afgnso)

Turning in Circles in Afghanistan
Robert Greenwald & Derrick Crowe/Newshoggers

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters late last week that he thinks we may turn the corner at the end of this year in Afghanistan. Again. Turning the corner, or the tide, or the momentum, or what have you, has become a semi-annual ritual in the failing U.S. war in Afghanistan. While all these turned corners make for great soundbites, the reality is that we’re just turning in circles in Afghanistan.(more with links)

Related articles:
** Taliban to launch offensive against U.S. forces Sunday
** Taliban desperate, NATO claims
** Taliban warns Afghan civilians to stay clear of planned targets
** Regional Powers Gear Up For Afghan Intrigue — Even As West Looks Away
** No Taliban link shown in Kabul shooting yet: NATO ~ hmm
** Patrick Cockburn: The double threat that hangs over the poor of Kabul
** icasualties.org
** Rethink Afghanistan

and Iraq has been won!

(please check comments for more articles)

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Peace Action West on April 28th, 2011

From our partners at Peace Action West

The Obama administration is in the midst of deciding how many troops with leave Afghanistan starting in July. President Obama has reiterated his pledge to begin withdrawal in July, and recently assured the public that it will not be a “token gesture.”

The Pentagon seems to have a different idea. The Washington Post reported that the military leadership is preparing options that range from a withdrawal of almost no troops to a maximum of 5,000, far below the 30,000 the president added when he made the withdrawal pledge in 2009. One official told the reporter, “Our hope is that we’ll be able to get away with no combat troops getting pulled out this summer.”

That’s why this is a critical time for members of Congress to step up and push the administration for a significant withdrawal in July that sets us on a path toward ending this near ten-year-old war. In the Senate, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced a bill that puts the Senate on the record supporting the July withdrawal and requires the president to develop an exit strategy with a clear end date. Eighteen senators voted last year for a similar amendment offered by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and we need to get that total up this time around. That’s why 26 organizations sent a letter to Senate staffers this week urging them to cosponsor the bill. You can read the letter below, and click here to send an email to your senators urging them to cosponsor.

On behalf of our supporters, we are writing to urge you to cosponsor S. 186, the Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011.

As the administration and military leadership debate the extent of the July troop drawdown, this is a critical time for senators to weigh in. S. 186 puts the Senate on the record supporting the beginning of troop withdrawal in July and exerts oversight by requiring a clear end date for the nearly ten-year-old war.

You can view the text of the legislation below.

We strongly encourage you to cosponsor S. 186. To cosponsor, please contact Sen. Boxer’s office.

Matthew P. Hoh
Director
Afghanistan Study Group

Robert Greenwald
Director
Brave New Foundation/Rethink Afghanistan

William C. Goodfellow
Executive Director
Center for International Policy

Jodie Evans
Co-Founder
CODEPINK

Michael Kieschnick
Chief Executive Officer
CREDO

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Fellowship of Reconciliation

Jonathan W. Evans
Legislative Representative for Foreign Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Carleen Pickard
Associate Director
Global Exchange

Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy

Marie Dennis
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

David Robinson
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Paul Kawika Martin
Policy & Political Director
Peace Action

Rebecca Griffin
Political Director
Peace Action West

Tom Hayden
Peace and Justice Resource Center

Peter Wilk, M.D.
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Tim Carpenter
Director
Progressive Democrats of America

Andrea LeBlanc
Board Member
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Jean Stokan
Director
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team

Lisa Schirch
Director
3D Security Initiative

James E. Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church

Rusti Eisenberg & Gael Murphy
Co-Conveners Legislative Working Group
United for Peace and Justice

Cassandra McKee
Program Director
USAction

Michael Eisenscher
National Coordinator
US Labor Against the War

Hon. Thomas Andrews
National Director
Win Without War

Susan Shaer
Executive Director
Women’s Action for New Directions

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Newshoggers.com on April 28th, 2011

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

I'm intruiged by yesterday's report by Matthew Rosenberg that:

Pakistan is lobbying Afghanistan's president against building a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., urging him instead to look to Pakistan—and its Chinese ally—for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy, Afghan officials say.

The pitch was made at an April 16 meeting in Kabul by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who bluntly told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the Americans had failed them both, according to Afghans familiar with the meeting. Mr. Karzai should forget about allowing a long-term U.S. military presence in his country, Mr. Gilani said, according to the Afghans.

The post-summit statement by Pakistani PM Gilani yesterday certainly seems to confirm that theme, albeit in diplospeak ( bold emphasis is mine):

President Karzai and I agreed that there is no military solution to the problem.

The drone attacks are counter-productive. Loss of precious human lives cannot be just dismissed as “collateral damage”. Similarly, suicide attacks, resulting in loss of innocent lives as well as attacks on places of worship, are not only inhuman and barbaric but are evidently designed to denigrate Islam and to sow discord among Muslims, communities and societies. One wrong cannot be rectified by another wrong.

The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have introspected deeply and can discern friends from foes. President Karzai and I have agreed that we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that our respective national interests and the collective interests of our two great Nations are fully safeguarded.

Hmmm…

That China has been Pakistan's "all-weather" ally, in contrast to the U.S., is something the other rising regional power, India has understood for some time and fuels tensions in the wider region as well as the Great Game being played in Afghanistan. Karzai may, however, be in the cleft stick of being either propped up by America forever while Pakistan tries to undermine him or of throwing in his lot with his neighbour and their nascent-superpower sponsor.

Update: Full Rosenberg piece here for those stopped by the WSJ paywall.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Newshoggers.com on April 27th, 2011

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

Some serious and worrying news. There's been yet another incident of an Afghan in uniform firing at his supposed Western allies, this time killing nine.

The Afghan officer, who was a veteran military pilot, fired on the Americans after an argument, the Afghan Defense Ministry said.

All nine killed were American, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been made public.

The shooting occurred in an operations room of the Afghan Air Corps at Kabul airport.

"Suddenly, in the middle of the meeting, shooting started," said Afghan Air Corps spokesman Col. Bahader

That's bad enough. Nine lives wiped out by someone they likely thought was a friend and ally. But what's got me really worried is this:

It was the seventh time so far this year that members of the Afghan security forces, or insurgents impersonating them, have killed coalition soldiers or members of the Afghan security forces.

…Before the airport shooting, the coalition had recorded 20 incidents since March 2009 where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them attacked coalition forces, killing a total of 36. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in these type of incidents.

According to information compiled by NATO, half of the 20 incidents involved the impersonation of an Afghan policeman or soldier. The cause of the other 10 incidents were attributed to combat stress or unknown reasons. NATO said that so far, there is no solid evidence — despite Taliban assertions — that any insurgent has joined the Afghan security forces for the sole purpose of conducting attacks on coalition or Afghan forces.

Last June, I asked when do isolated "rogues" become a pattern? I noted that that there had been similiar incidents which caused the deaths of two US soldiers in October 2009, twice in 2008 and another in 2007. There have been at least eight such incidents in Afghanistan in the three years preceeding 2010 and the pace of these killings by "rogues" is obviously accelerating.

By contrast, in the entire history of the occupation of Iraq to date there have been only five reported cases of Iraqi security forces attacking their coalition mentors ever - the most recent in January of this year – and all of those were in Mosul, which is still causing trouble as the last bastion of Al Qaeda and the indigenous Sunni insurgency there. Finnish journalist Jari Lindholm describes Mosul as "a miserable COIN failure no one ever cared to properly analyse." He writes:

The lesson? There are simply too many actors involved in the multilayered conflict in Mosul for classic COIN to work. First of all, the fault lines are not sectarian but ethnic. You can’t protect the population by walling off neighbourhoods, because you wouldn’t know whom to wall in and whom to keep out. Second, you can’t cut off terrorist infiltration because you don’t have enough troops, and a single dirt berm doesn’t do it. Third, you can’t pay off the hardcore militants, because they don’t want your money; and you can’t pay off the gangsters because they don’t need your money. And fourth, you can’t stop the IEDs, because there’s always a jobless IDP willing to dump a pressure plate on a road for ten bucks.

A porous international border, lucrative smuggling routes, a restless refugee population, transnational jihadis mingling with local nationalists, and an explosive ethnic mix — if this rings a bell, it’s because the war in Mosul has more in common with the morass we face in Afghanistan than it has with Baghdad.

Joshua Foust writes that we and our Afghan "allies" have no idea exactly who is in the Afghan security forces because the Ministry of the Interior can't do basic administration – or I suspect refuses to, so that officials can skim money for paying non-existant people. As Derrick Crowe pointed out just yesterday, insurgent attacks are at an all-time high in Afghanistan. March 2011 saw 68 percent more insurgent-initiated attacks than March 2010. And we seem to have a pattern of ill-will to the point of fatal violence even among those Afghans who are meant to be the West's allies and upon whom we are spending literally tens of billions of dollars America can ill afford. Lindholm looks to be correct.

So why are we continuing to double-down on this occupation, when even our erstwhile allies prefer they were allied with China?

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by The Agonist on April 27th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Kabul | April 27

LA Times – Eight U.S. troops and an American contractor were killed early Wednesday when a veteran Afghan military pilot opened fire on trainers during a meeting in a military compound near Kabul International Airport.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility in what it said was the latest attack by an insurgent infiltrator.

The pilot began shooting during a meeting in the operations room of the Afghan National Army Air Corps building about 10 a.m. after having an argument with a foreign colleague, targeting foreign instructors and advisors, according to statements released by NATO and Afghan officials.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Newshoggers.com on April 27th, 2011

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters late last week that he thinks we may turn the corner at the end of this year in Afghanistan. Again. Turning the corner, or the tide, or the momentum, or what have you, has become a semi-annual ritual in the failing U.S. war in Afghanistan. While all these turned corners make for great soundbites, the reality is that we’re just turning in circles in Afghanistan.

Here’s what Gates said:

“We have driven the Taliban out of areas they have controlled for years, including their heartland. They clearly intend to try and take that back. If we can prevent them this year from retaking the areas that we have taken away from them and we can continue to expand the security bubble, I think it’s possible that by the end of this year we will have turned a corner, just because of the Taliban being driven out and, more importantly, kept out.”

First of all, let’s not fail to notice that this is the latest a continual string of promises about “turning a corner.” Joshua Foust and Win Without War over the past months have compiled fairly extensive lists of the embarrassment of “turned corners” claimed by U.S. officials. Here’s Foust’s list, just to give you an idea:

  • February 20, 2010: “Western officials believe that a turning point has been reached in the war against the Taliban, with a series of breakthroughs suggesting that the insurgents are on the back foot for the first time since their resurgence four years ago.”
  • August 31, 2009: “Monday marks the end of August, a month with both good and bad news out of Afghanistan — and the approach of a key turning point.”
  • February 6, 2008: “But the ties that bind NATO are fraying badly – and publicly – over just how much each member state wants to commit to turning Afghanistan around. ‘It’s starting to get to a turning point about what is this alliance about,’ says Michael Williams, director of the transatlan- tic program at the Royal United Services Institute in London.”
  • July 23, 2007: “Taken together these may reflect a turning point in how the war in Afghanistan is to be waged.”
  • September 12, 2006: “The Afghan front is at a critical turning point that imperils many of the hard-fought successes of the early phase of the conflict and the prospects for snaring bin Laden.”
  • September 22, 2005: “Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s foreign minister, called the recent parliamentary elections ‘a major turning point’ on his country’s path to democracy.”
  • January 27, 2004: “A statement from U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the enactment of the constitution a ‘turning point for the Afghan nation.’”
  • February 26, 2003: “The growing aggressiveness by guerrillas is a relief for US forces, who greet the possibility of a real engagement with the Taliban as a possible turning point in the war. ‘We want them to attack us, so we can engage them and destroy them,’ says one Special Forces soldier from the US firebase at Spin Boldak, who took part in the initial firefight that led to Operation Mongoose.
  • December 2, 2002: “But in ‘Bush at War’ there’s a glaring omission. Woodward misses the turning point in the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda forces. It’s as though the most important scene had been left out of a movie, say, where Clark Kent turns into Superman.”

It’s almost a yearly tradition for some ebullient U.S. official to come to some microphone and claim we’re ready to hang a left or a right onto the road to glorious victory. It’s silly, and it insults our intelligence.

Gates’ comments imply a growing level of security in Afghanistan. That is a patent falsehood.

  • Insurgent attacks are at an all-time high in Afghanistan. March 2011 saw 68 percent more insurgent-initiated attacks than March 2010.
  • In fact, every March since at least 2006 has been more violent than the last. The same is true for every February, and it looks like attacks are on track to make that true for every April as well, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office’s (ANSO) figures.
  • Looking at the entire first quarter of the year, insurgent attacks have skyrocketed by a horrendous 51 percent compared to the prior year. ANSO reports that in the first quarter of this year, insurgent attacks averaged “35 per day, surpassing even the August 2009 summer peak during Presidenial elections.”
  • The number of insurgent-initiated attacks in the first quarter of 2011 was more than twice the level of insurgent-initiated attacks in the first quarter of 2009, when President Obama took office and started launching his repeated escalations of the military campaign. That strategy has obviously failed.

Insurgent-Initiated Attacks in Afghanistan through Q1 2011

Rolling into places like Marjah with lots of troops and TV cameras hasn’t done a thing to increase security nation-wide for Afghans or blunt the growth in insurgent-initiated attacks. We’re not “turning a corner.” We’re turning in circles. It’s time to make a U-turn and get those troops home.

If you’re fed up with a war that’s making us less safe and that’s not worth the cost, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter, and share our latest video with your friends.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by The Agonist on April 27th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Brian M Downing | Apr 26 | Asia Times

The United States is seeking a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. It hopes to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and bring them to the bargaining table through a counter-insurgency program, diplomacy with indigenous tribes and foreign powers, and the attrition of Taliban forces. This, the US expects, will give it an important if not central role in a settlement.

But regional powers – primarily Pakistan and China, with the support of Iran and Turkey – see the lone superpower as overextended, weary, and nearing a fiscal crisis – a situation they seek to turn to their advantage. These four regional powers are in a good position to play crucial roles in a settlement and in an
excellent position to benefit from one.

First, the regional powers, especially Pakistan, will use their influence with the Taliban to convince them to limit their ambitions to the south and east and accept a settlement with President Hamid Karzai at the helm in Kabul.

Second, the regional powers, especially Iran and Turkey, will press reluctant Afghan peoples to accept the settlement.

Third, the regional powers will help to form a rentier state to govern the country. Karzai will receive substantial revenue from foreign powers then allocate it to keep various peoples of the country in a loose but viable political framework.

Fourth, the regional powers will cooperate in the development of Afghanistan’s resources – largely to the exclusion of other powers – and accrue substantial geopolitical goals as well.

This holds the promise of peace, stability and prosperity, but nothing is without pitfalls in this part of the world.

more at link

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Derrick Crowe on April 26th, 2011

By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters late last week that he thinks we may turn the corner at the end of this year in Afghanistan. Again. Turning the corner, or the tide, or the momentum, or what have you, has become a semi-annual ritual in the failing U.S. war in Afghanistan. While all these turned corners make for great soundbites, the reality is that we’re just turning in circles in Afghanistan.

Here’s what Gates said:

“We have driven the Taliban out of areas they have controlled for years, including their heartland. They clearly intend to try and take that back. If we can prevent them this year from retaking the areas that we have taken away from them and we can continue to expand the security bubble, I think it’s possible that by the end of this year we will have turned a corner, just because of the Taliban being driven out and, more importantly, kept out.”

First of all, let’s not fail to notice that this is the latest a continual string of promises about “turning a corner.” Joshua Foust and Win Without War over the past months have compiled fairly extensive lists of the embarrassment of “turned corners” claimed by U.S. officials. Here’s Foust’s list, just to give you an idea:

  • February 20, 2010: “Western officials believe that a turning point has been reached in the war against the Taliban, with a series of breakthroughs suggesting that the insurgents are on the back foot for the first time since their resurgence four years ago.”
  • August 31, 2009: “Monday marks the end of August, a month with both good and bad news out of Afghanistan — and the approach of a key turning point.”
  • February 6, 2008: “But the ties that bind NATO are fraying badly – and publicly – over just how much each member state wants to commit to turning Afghanistan around. ‘It’s starting to get to a turning point about what is this alliance about,’ says Michael Williams, director of the transatlan- tic program at the Royal United Services Institute in London.”
  • July 23, 2007: “Taken together these may reflect a turning point in how the war in Afghanistan is to be waged.”
  • September 12, 2006: “The Afghan front is at a critical turning point that imperils many of the hard-fought successes of the early phase of the conflict and the prospects for snaring bin Laden.”
  • September 22, 2005: “Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s foreign minister, called the recent parliamentary elections ‘a major turning point’ on his country’s path to democracy.”
  • January 27, 2004: “A statement from U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the enactment of the constitution a ‘turning point for the Afghan nation.’”
  • February 26, 2003: “The growing aggressiveness by guerrillas is a relief for US forces, who greet the possibility of a real engagement with the Taliban as a possible turning point in the war. ‘We want them to attack us, so we can engage them and destroy them,’ says one Special Forces soldier from the US firebase at Spin Boldak, who took part in the initial firefight that led to Operation Mongoose.
  • December 2, 2002: “But in ‘Bush at War’ there’s a glaring omission. Woodward misses the turning point in the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda forces. It’s as though the most important scene had been left out of a movie, say, where Clark Kent turns into Superman.”

It’s almost a yearly tradition for some ebullient U.S. official to come to some microphone and claim we’re ready to hang a left or a right onto the road to glorious victory. It’s silly, and it insults our intelligence.

Gates’ comments imply a growing level of security in Afghanistan. That is a patent falsehood.

  • Insurgent attacks are at an all-time high in Afghanistan. March 2011 saw 68 percent more insurgent-initiated attacks than March 2010.
  • In fact, every March since at least 2006 has been more violent than the last. The same is true for every February, and it looks like attacks are on track to make that true for every April as well, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office’s (ANSO) figures.
  • Looking at the entire first quarter of the year, insurgent attacks have skyrocketed by a horrendous 51 percent compared to the prior year. ANSO reports that in the first quarter of this year, insurgent attacks averaged “35 per day, surpassing even the August 2009 summer peak during Presidenial elections.”
  • The number of insurgent-initiated attacks in the first quarter of 2011 was more than twice the level of insurgent-initiated attacks in the first quarter of 2009, when President Obama took office and started launching his repeated escalations of the military campaign. That strategy has obviously failed.

Insurgent-Initiated Attacks in Afghanistan through Q1 2011

Rolling into places like Marjah with lots of troops and TV cameras hasn’t done a thing to increase security nation-wide for Afghans or blunt the growth in insurgent-initiated attacks. We’re not “turning a corner.” We’re turning in circles. It’s time to make a U-turn and get those troops home.

If you’re fed up with a war that’s making us less safe and that’s not worth the cost, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter, and share our latest video with your friends.

Share this:
Comments Off
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Just Foreign Policy on April 26th, 2011

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

If your Senator has not co-sponsored S. 186, The “Safe & Responsible Redeployment of U.S. Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011”, make sure you do so here. But don’t stop there–you can take the next step by writing a letter to the editor in your local newspaper or by visiting your Senator’s in-State office with the Talking Points posted below, which you can download here as a PDF.

For more background, check out JFP Policy Director Bob Naiman’s piece on “Barbara Boxer: Champion in the Senate Against the Afghanistan War”.

**********
Support S. 186, for a Timetable for the Redeployment of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan, Including an End Date for Near Decade-Long War

Senator Boxer’s bill S. 186 would require President Obama to submit a plan to Congress for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a date for the completion of that redeployment. As the White House prepares its decision on the extent of the July troop drawdown and works to conclude a security agreement with the Afghan government, it is a crucial time for Senators to weigh in.

S. 186, “Safe & Responsible Redeployment of U.S. Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011” would:

  • Put the Senate on the Record in Support of Obama’s Plan for a Significant Drawdown

    read more

    Share this:
    Comments Off
    Bookmark and Share
Posted by The Agonist on April 25th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

. . . the Taliban pulled off a massive prison break. Seems like an excellent time to say something about Lindsay Lohan’s new legal problems, but sarcasm app is busted today.

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