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Archive for March, 2012

Posted by The Agonist on March 22nd, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

I mean, come on…it’s right in the policy manual!

Marine Sergeant Gary Stein is facing dismissal after starting the Facebook page called “Armed Forces Tea Party” in violation of Pentagon policy barring troops from political activities.
The Marine Corps released a statement saying that “Stein’s commanding officer ordered a preliminary inquiry on March 8 after receiving allegations that Stein posted the political statements violating the Pentagon’s directives.”

“After reviewing the findings of the preliminary inquiry, the commander decided to address the allegations through administrative action,” the Corps said.

“I’m completely shocked that this is happening,” Stein fumed. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve only stated what our oath states that I will defend the constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that’s a crime, what is America coming to?”

Really? The orders of your Commander In Chief are illegal? Well, I know I can’t wait to hear this asshat out

He said he determined he was not in violation and relaunched the page. Last week, he said his superiors told him he could not use social media sites on government computers after he posted the message stating he would not follow unlawful orders of the president.

Stein said his statement was part of an online debate about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be tried for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan.

In that context, he said, he was stating that he would not follow orders from the president if those orders included detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or doing anything else that he believes would violate their constitutional rights.

In. That. Context? You mean you’re like the cop who, say, won’t arrest a vigilante who murdered an innocent American, because it might, like, hurt his fee-fees?

A CRIME WAS COMMITTED, YOU IDIOT! A war crime, and if there’s a first principle for ANY soldier, it’s to prevent war crimes from occuring and if they’ve already occured, to correct the problem as best as that soldier can.

Including narcing on his buddies. Sheesh!

Indeed, to follow up on your statement,”Sergeant,” there’s a long established legal principle that says if you aid and abet in the commission of a crime after the fact, you are deemed an accessory to that crime and subject to criminal prosecution. In other words, America is coming to a criminal state because of goose-stepping morons like you who can’t stand the fact that Obama is President.

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Posted by The Agonist on March 21st, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Qais Azimy and Mujib Mashal | Kabul | Mar 21

IPS/Al Jazeera – The increasing influence of a conservative circle within President Hamid Karzai’s palace has impeded progress in signing a crucial strategic agreement with the U.S. to chart the relationship beyond 2014, officials and analysts have said.

Their outspoken anti-U.S. views have frustrated Karzai’s diplomats negotiating with U.S. officials, often resulting in messy clashes.

On Mar. 8, a day before Afghanistan and the United States signed an agreement to gradually transfer control of prisons to the Afghan government, Jawid Ludin, the deputy foreign minister, and Karim Khurram, Karzai’s chief of staff, were summoned to brief Karzai ahead of a video conference with U.S. President Barack Obama. Also in the room were General John Allen, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul.

Just minutes before the call between the two leaders, Karzai left the room for a break, according to three separate sources inside the palace. In the following few minutes, in a confrontation that reportedly verged on physical violence, Khurram and Ludin accused each other of spying – one for Pakistan, the other for the United States. They were split up by the NATO commander and the U.S. ambassador. much more

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Posted by The Agonist on March 20th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Brian M Downing | Mar 19 | Asia Times

Higher aims of the US’s counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan – such as rebuilding and governance – were undermined by condescending US institutions while simpler goals such as winning heart and minds were damaged by swaggering, contemptuous troops. Factors closer to home also hurt the doctrine’s chances of success.

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Posted by The Agonist on March 16th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Updated below the fold

Obviously, this is directly contradictory to the Pentagon’s version of events (hat tip – b)- and includes a very direct threat:

A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday’s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province.

…[Chairman of the Parliamentary National Security and Internal Affairs Commission Hamidzai Lali] told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings.

…“The villages are one and a half kilometre from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups.”

Lali asked the Afghan government, the United Nations and the international community to ensure the perpetrators were punished in Afghanistan.

…The lawmaker said the Wolesi Jirga would not sit silent until the killers were prosecuted in Afghanistan. “If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians,” Lali warned.

How to square the circle? Here’s some pure speculation. I think its possible there’s a mix-up on dates when the suspect’s lawyer says a friend had his leg blown off the day before the massacre. I think perhaps it was 3 days before – conforming to one early report soldiers had put village kids against a wall and threatened revenge after an IED. I think it’s possible there was a decision made somehow (drawing lots?) that one guy would take the fall for his buddies, knowing otherwise they’d all be in it up to their necks. Its a gut feeling, no real evidence, but something here stinks and, frankly, I think Afghans have been in general far more reliable about their accounts of civilian killings than the Pentagon has.

Update Karzai has noted what he says was a lack of co-operation from the US military in the probe and also questioned the official US line.

“On the question of the account of the one person, supposedly, who has done this, the story of the village elders [in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province] and the affected people is entirely different. They believe it is not possible for one person to do that,” Karzai told journalists after the meeting.

…Karzai said his investigators did not find the US surveillance video they were shown convincing. The army chief of staff reported to the meeting that a key US commander had not returned his calls while he was investigating the attack.

“The Afghan investigation team did not receive the co-operation that they expected from the United States, therefore these are all questions that [we] will be raising, and raising very loudly and raising very clearly,” Karzai said, referring to whether the killer acted alone.

Afghans were weary of killings by foreign troops after “hundreds” of civilian casualty incidents, he told the meeting, a point he underlined when he told US President Barack Obama in a morning phone call that his call for foreign forces to leave Afghan villages was serious.

And if Obama and the Pentagon refuse to heed Karzai’s call to withdraw to ISAF’s main bases I assume the threat to have the Jirga name ISAF an occupier like the Russians would then come into effect.

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Posted by The Agonist on March 15th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

The London Summit on Afghanistan in 2010 set NATO’s exit strategy from Afghanistan, later confirmed in Lisbon. There would be a drawdown of NATO troops and a build up of Afghan security forces until, in 2014, there would be a transition to Afghan ownership of their own security – supported, of course, by 20,000 US “advisors” on 5 massive bases and a boatload of US dollars every year. Alongside that “they will stand up so we can stand down” effort, there would be a concerted attempt to negotiate some kind of post-war understanding between the various Afghan factions – especially involving the taliban – so that civil war wouldn’t smash the country so quickly that Western leaders would take the blame. It was always an Iraq-inspired “paper over the cracks and run” strategy, but it was the best bet NATO leaders had. Yesterday President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron re-asserted that strategy ahead of the coming Chicago summit, despite a spate of high-profile disasters from burnt Qurans via Afghan soldiers turning their guns on their advisors, culminating in the weekend’s massacre of villagers by a US soldier.

Today both Karzai and the Taliban announced they would not be going along with the plan.

The Afghan president called today for NATO-led forces to move out of Afghan villages and remote areas back to their main bases and said that Afghan forces were ready to take over their country’s security needs this year – an assessment anyone who has been following the abortive NATO attempt to build those forces should find laughable. No NATO troops out in the countryside means no security for reconstruction teams and NGOs, which will largely halt work. It means the ANA and Afghan police, notoriously inefficient and corrupt, will be the only security Afghans have unless they turn to the taliban to provide it – and they will. If Karzai sticks to his statement – and this time he just might – it means that COIN as a strategy in Afghanistan is a very definitely a dead parrot.

That was already becoming plain to even a disinterested observer. Trust between Afghans and Americans is at its lowest ebb ever. The inhabitants of one village where the weekend killing spree occurred are making their distrust very plain.

For Haji Khan Akha, a tribal elder here, the shooting was the last straw. He said the time is now up for the United States.

“Were there more soldiers involved or not? I don’t care,” he said in an interview.

Akha, together with other representatives of Zangiabad, delivered a letter to the investigation team on Tuesday that demanded the US leave. If not, the villagers would, the letter said.

“There is no future for the US and us any more,” he said.

Haji Mehboob, an elderly resident who found three of his family members wounded after the shooting spree, signed the letter as well. He said that an apology from the United States is not enough anymore.

Mehboob said that six years ago a US bombing that killed several Taliban members also killed at least 50 civilians. “They guaranteed no civilians would be killed again, but we don’t believe them any more,” he said.

Akha said there was no fixing this.

“They can invest $1 million in our area, but for who? We will be gone if they will stay. Is it worth the money to build a school for nobody?” he asked. “What can make me believe the US now has the best intentions after all that has happened?”

Then there’s the Taliban, who today announced that they were suspending negotiations with the U.S. because the American “alternating and ever changing position”. More to point, they said that those negotiations were never peace talks anyway, directly contradicting officially unofficial leaks in the West:

In this connection, the political envoys of the Islamic Emirate agreed upon the inauguration of a diplomatic office, the arrangement about which was already made with the government of Qatar and started holding preliminary talks with the occupying enemy over the exchange of prisoners. The Americans initially agreed upon taking practical steps regarding the exchange of prisoners and to not oppose our political office but with the passage of time, they turned their backs on their promises and started initiating baseless propaganda portraying the envoys of the Islamic Emirate as having commenced multilateral negotiations for solving the Afghan dilemma.

At the same time Hamid Karzai, who can not even make a single political decision without the prior consent of the Americans, falsely proclaimed that the Kabul administration and the Americans have jointly started peace talks with Taliban; whereas the Islamic Emirate has not discussed any other issue apart from the two aforementioned (i.e. the induction of an office and the exchange of prisoners) and neither have we accepted any other condition with any other side nor have we conducted any talks with Karzai administration.

Accordingly, the Taliban statement says, “[We] will not pardon you until the withdrawal of your last soldier and until you let the Afghans establish an Islamic government for themselves.”

The London/Lisbon withdrawal plan was always intended as primarily a career-saver for Western military and political leaders. COIN was going to give them a chance to deny abject defeat in the longest war in American history. The chance of that happening now is precisely nil. “This is a dead parrot.”

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Posted by The Agonist on March 14th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Commerce: Brzezinski wrote, “the most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.” (The Grand Chessboard)

The Soviet Union collapse in 1991 created several new nations around the Caspian Sea. Major US oil companies, including Exxon, Mobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell and Enron, invested billions in these Central Asian nations, bribing heads of state to secure equity rights in the huge oil reserves. US companies owned approximately 75% of the rights. However, Russia owned the pipelines and could control the quantity and price of transporting the oil. (New Yorker 7/9/01, Asia Times 1/26/02)

The natural route for pipelines would be across Iran but the US had a muddled history with Iran. In 1946, the Soviet presence in Iran convinced Truman that the Soviets planned to use Iran for expansion and asked the UN to intervene. “Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language another war is in the making,” Truman wrote. March 1947, Truman stated to Congress, “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” The policy came to be known as the Truman Doctrine. (PBS The American Experience; www.trumanlibrary.org/teacher/doctrine.htm

Eisenhower gave Iran its first nuclear materials and encouraged Iran to develop nuclear energy as part of his “Atoms for Peace” project. Eisenhower also undermined Iran’s democratically elected president and installed the Shah on the throne. It was that last act that was remembered by the rebels who overthrew the tyrannical Shah and took those in the US Embassy hostage. Carter attempted to negotiate the release of the hostages but refused to sell Iran weapons because it was illegal; Iran had been declared a state sponsor of terror. Reagan agreed to the arms sale through Israel but also supplied Iraq, that had attacked Iran, with weapons including agents necessary for making Weapons of Mass Destruction. Iraq used WMD created from agents supplied by the US to kill Iranian soldiers and Iraqi Kurds. (New York Times, 8/18/02; 1994 Report by the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; General Accounting Office, 2/7/94; Washington Post 12/30/02; National Security Archive, 2003).

Many of the arms to Iran went to Hezbollah that subsequently blew up the US Embassy in Beirut and a former hotel housing Marines killing more than 240 of them, the highest one day death toll of Marines since Iwo Jima. Hezbollah was also linked to kidnappings, the bombing of the Embassy annex, and hijacking of a TWA airliner in Beirut. Those acts and Hezbollah attacks on Israel exacerbated relations between the US and Iran. Iran’s grievance, beyond the overthrow of its government, was Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorism inside Iran.Some of those terrorists had been recruited, trained and equipped by Reagan.

The story of two US corporations, Enron and Unocal. both with offices in Texas, will illustrate the difficulty of dealing with the Taliban.

The Indian government approved construction of Enron’s Dabhol liquified natural gas power plant, near Mumbai on the coast of India. Enron’s $3 billion was the largest single foreign investment in India’s history and bought 65% of the world’s largest power plant, intended to provide one-fifth of India’s energy needs by 1997. (India Express 2/27/00; Asia Times 1/18/00) The World Bank believed the plant was “not economically viable” and refused to invest in it. (New York Times 3/20/01)

1996, Uzbekistan signed a deal with Enron “that could lead to joint development of the Central Asian nation’s potentially rich natural gas fields.” (Houston Chronicle, 6/25/96) The $1.3 billion venture teamed Enron and the state companies of Russia and Uzbekistan. (Houston Chronicle, 6/30/96) The US government gave $400 million to help Enron develop the natural gas fields. (Oil & Gas Journal, 7/8/96)

In 1995 the Indian government temporarily cancelled the Dahbol agreement. Kenneth Lay and US Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown went to India backed with lobbying by other US officials. Summer 2001, the National Security Council formed a “Dabhol Working Group” with officials from various cabinet agencies to get the plant completed and functioning. US pressure on India intensified until shortly before Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001. US officials claimed their lobbying supported the $640 million the US government had already invested in the project. Critics claimed that the plant received unusually strong support from both Clinton and Bush. (New York Daily News, 1/18/02); Washington Post (1/19/02)

1998, Enron’s agreement to develop natural gas with Uzbekistan was not renewed. Enron closed its office there. The reason for the “failure of Enron’s flagship project” was an inability to get the natural gas out of the region. “Uzbekistan is extremely concerned at the growing strength of the Taliban and its potential impact on stability in Uzbekistan, making any future cooperation on a pipeline project which benefits the Taliban unlikely.” (Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections 10/12/98)

12/2/01 Enron filed for bankruptcy—the biggest bankruptcy in history at that time, (BBC 1/10/02) and in 2002 reorganized as a pipeline company that would continue work on its controversial Dabhol power plant. (Houston Business Journal, 3/15/02) Associated Press reported that Enron bribed Taliban officials for a pipeline deal in Afghanistan.” Atul Davda, a senior director in Enron’s International Division stated, “Enron had intimate contact with Taliban officials.” In 1997, Enron executives met with Taliban officials in Texas. They were “given the red-carpet treatment and promised a fortune if the deal (went) through.” According to a CIA source, “Enron proposed to pay the Taliban large sums of money in a ‘tax’ on every cubic foot of gas and oil shipped through a pipeline they planned to build.” This source claimed Enron paid more than $400 million for a feasibility study on the pipeline and “a large portion of that cost was pay-offs to the Taliban.” Enron continued to court the Taliban even after Unocal officially gave up on the pipeline in the wake of the African embassy bombings. An investigation after Enron’s collapse in 2001 determined that some of this pay-off money ended up funding al-Qaeda. (AP, 3/7/02)

Unocal:
In 1996, Unocal was given permission by Taliban for the pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Other interested companies were Amoco, BP, Chevron, Exxon and Mobile. (Frankfurter Rundschau 10/96)Unocal was hopeful that the Taliban would stabilize Afghanistan and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. According to some reports, “preliminary agreement (on the pipeline) was reached between the (Taliban and Unocal) long before the fall of Kabul .… Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America’s, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan.” (Daily Telegraph UK,10/11/96)

The Wall Street Journal reported (5/23/97), “Like them or not the Taliban are the players most capable of achieving peace in Afghanistan.” The New York Times reported (5/26/97), “The Clinton Administration has taken the view that a Taliban victory…would offer the possibility of new trade routes that could weaken Russian and Iranian influence in the region.”

Halliburton, a company headed by future Vice President Dick Cheney, announced a new agreement to provide technical services and drilling for Turkmenistan. The press release stated, “Halliburton has been providing a variety of services in Turkmenistan for the past five years.” On the same day, a consortium to build a pipeline through Afghanistan was formed. Called CentGas, the two main partners were Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia. (Halliburton, 10/27/97; Centgas, 10/17/97)

December 1997, representatives of the Taliban came to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. The Taliban seemed to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but only if the US officially recognized the Taliban regime. According to the Daily Telegraph UK(12/2/01) “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban’s policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” A BBC reporter said that “the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.” (BBC,12/4/97) The 9/11 Commission concluded that some State Department diplomats were willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might bring stability to Afghanistan and allow the pipeline to be built.

Henry Kissinger, a Unocal consultant, called the agreement “a triumph of hope over experience.” (Washington Post, 10/5/98) Taliban hired Leili Helms, niece of Richard Helms former director of the CIA, as their PR representative in Washington. (Inter Press Service 11/16/ 01) Another Unocal adviser, Zalmay Khalilzad, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post supporting the Taliban regime. “It is time for the United States to reengage.…The Taliban does not practice the anti-US style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran-it is closer to the Saudi model.” The US should help the Taliban “put Afghanistan on a path toward peace.” Violence “has been a source of regional instability and an obstacle to building pipelines to bring Central Asian oil and gas to Pakistan and the world markets.” (Washington Post, 10/7/96) Khalilzad was an official in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, worked under Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and was a member of the Project for the New American Century. Other members were Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

The Asia Times noted (12/25/03), “It was Khalilzad-when he was a huge Taliban fan-who conducted the risk analysis for Unocal” regarding the pipeline. Khalilzad later turned against the Taliban and after 9/11 was appointed as special envoy to Afghanistan, and US ambassador to Afghanistan. A London Times article (10/5/04) was titled: “US Envoy Accused of Being the Power Pulling Karzai’s Strings.” BBC reported (4/6/05) that Khalilzad was accused of “frequently overshadowing President Karzai… No major decisions by the Afghan government (are) made without his involvement.”

Unocal Vice President of International Relations John J. Maresca (later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan) testified before the House of Representatives that Unocal’s pipeline would extend across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean and suggested that with the pipeline the Caspian basin could produce 20 percent of all the non-OPEC oil in the world by 2010. However, he warned, “It’s not going to be built until there is a single Afghanistan Government.” (US Congress, 2/12/98)

August 1998, The Northern Alliance capital was captured by the Taliban with the support of Pakistan’s ISI. An intercepted message of an ISI officer stated, “My boys and I are riding into Mazar-i-Sharif.” (New York Times/12/8/01) Taliban controlled 90% of Afghanistan, including the proposed pipeline route. However, the pipeline could not be financed unless the Taliban government was officially recognized. “Diplomatic sources said the Taliban’s offensive was well prepared and deliberately scheduled two months ahead of the next UN meeting” where members were to decide whether the Taliban should be recognized. (Daily Telegraph UK, 8/13/98.) Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia recognized the regime. Clinton refused diplomatic recognition to the Taliban, making business there legally problematic. (New York Times, 12/5/98)

Major sources for this report are: Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Yale University Press, 2000, by Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Daily Telegraph UK, and The War on Freedom, Tree of Life Publication, 2002, by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development UK.

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Posted by The Agonist on March 14th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Veteran reporter Anand Gopal points to this passage in the New Yorker’s “Close Read” on the weekend’s murder of Afghan civilians:

“I told my son not to speak because the Americans are here,” an Afghan woman told the BBC. “They went next door and the first thing they did was shoot the dog. And then there was a muffled bang inside the room—but who could go and see?”

A mother using the word “Americans” to scare her child into silence is alone cause for reflection.

And Joshua Foust explains why this incident isn’t causing near as much blowback as burning Qurans:

The burning of the Qurans — which the US claims was accidental — was a fresh outrage to many Afghans.

While the Taliban often claims the US disrespects Islam and wants to destroy it, few Afghans had any real reason to believe that in their daily lives. The Quran burning shocked the Afghan public enough for some political opportunists to whip up protests in response.

In contrast, Sunday’s mass murder is not a new outrage for Afghanistan. While the deliberate killing of civilians is (thankfully) rare, many Afghans do not distinguish between accidental and deliberate civilian death.

…Sunday’s mass murder, in other words, is not a game-changing event. The game has already changed, and many Afghans are not surprised when the US kills a bunch of civilians.

Al-jazeera interviewed some of the survivors and uncovered a darker angle as well: one reason the victims did not resist is that they were used to the so-called “night raids” — nighttime special operations raids on housing compounds. They were so used to Americans kicking in the doors to their homes and even shooting their guns that at first the rampage didn’t seem strange.

So much for McChrystal’s 2009 statement that “The Afghan people are at the centre of our mission. In reality, they are the mission.” We’ve gone beyond being Hummvees in a china shop and become the boogeyman, used to frighten children. What a terrible legacy for so much wasted in blood and treasure. The only thing remaining which could make some small sense and honor out of the whole debacle is to learn, very definitely, not to do it again. Ever.

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Posted by Just Foreign Policy on March 14th, 2012

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

This week, peace groups around the country are calling Congress with the message: end the Afghanistan war now! Call your Representative at 877-429-0678 and tell him or her to support and co-sponsor H. 780, which would limit funding for the war to funds that are necessary for a safe and orderly withdrawal. Check the link to see whether your Rep is already a co-sponsor–if so, thank him or her for their support, and tell them to everything in their power to promote the bill and its mission.

When you’re done with your call, report it below.

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Posted by The Agonist on March 13th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

President Obama wants to disengage from the disastrous war on Afghanistan the way he withdrew from the disastrous war on Iraq. Leaving Afghanistan is likely to be as difficult, dangerous and messy as leaving Iraq has been. And it will require accommodating the Taliban in Afghanistan’s future, including Afghanistan’s notoriously corrupt government, because the Taliban are largely from the Pashtun tribe that comprises half of the population.

Can Taliban become a trusted member of a representative government in Afghanistan? That is a very complicated question historically, politically and economically.

First the history: “Turkistan, Afghanistan,Transcaspia (states east of the Caspian Sea), Persia (Iran)…are the pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the dominance of the world.” Lord George Curzon. British Foreign Secretary, 1889)

During the Cold War Afghanistan remained independent, accepting aid and arms from both the US and the Soviets. In 1978 a Communist party, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), took over the government and aligned Afghanistan with the Soviets. Religious and tribal leaders led revolts and Carter launched a covert operation to assist them in destabilizing the PDPA (Agence France-Presse 12/12/00). December 1978 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan to prop up the PDPA. Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski declared the Soviets had fallen into a trap. (The Grand Chessboard, Basic Books, 1997)

Reagan recruited Islamic extremists, trained them in the US, equipped them with Stinger missiles and other weapons, and sent them to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet army. He freed the CIA from the requirement to report known and suspected drug smuggling by insurgents in Central America and Afghanistan. The militants financed their insurgencies by smuggling drugs. Later, the UN and the DEA would name the Taliban as one of the two largest producers of opium in the world, (CIA: The World Factbook) supplying 75% of the world’s heroin (Guardian UK 2/21/02)

“Though Reagan called the rebels ‘freedom fighters,’ few within the government had any illusions about the forces the United States was backing. The mujahidin fighters espoused a radical brand of Islam…and committed horrific human rights violations in their war against the Red Army.” (Salon 9/22/01) Some fighters were further radicalized by religious schools or madrasas in Pakistan. In an interview with BBC (10/4/96), Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto stated that the madrasas had been set up by Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan during the jihad against Soviet occupation. The US and it’s allies “encouraged the growth of Islamic fundamentalism to frighten Moscow and of drugs to get Soviet soldiers hooked.” (Evening Standard UK 2/20/01)

After the Soviets withdrew, Feb. 1989, Afghanistan fell into anarchy. Some of the fighters became terrorists in Kashmir, others in Iran. The Soviet-installed government collapsed in 1992. The US and Russia agreed that neither would supply aid to any faction in Afghanistan. Although the US committed to support the UN peace efforts in Afghanistan, Congress refused to allocate funds for UN dues or the US share of the peacekeeping expenses. (Foreign Policy in Focus, 12/25/96) The factions supported by the US battled for supremacy. The Northern Alliance, a confederacy of “warlords, patriots, rapists and torturers” became the dominant power. From 1992 to 1996, The Northern Alliance was “a symbol of massacre, systemic rape and pillage.” The Northern Alliance abandoned Kabul leaving 50,000 dead. (The Independent UK 11/14/01)

Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 with support from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). “Pakistan’s support for Taliban was backed by the Saudis, the CIA and American oil company Unocal.” (online Resource on Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, 10/21/01) The Taliban’s success was because of military assistance from Pakistan’s ISI. (New York Times, 12/8/01) “Oil industry insiders state that securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan has been supportive of the Taliban, and why the US has permitted its conquest of Afghanistan.” (Daily Telegraph UK 10/11/96) The 9/11 Commission concluded that some diplomats were willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country.

Amnesty International (AI) reported Taliban “targeting minorities such as Tajik and Hazaras (AI news release 5/27/99). CNN (8/15/99) reported Taliban “burning homes, villages and crops to prevent residents from returning.” The Afghans became the largest refugee group in the world. (AP 12/27/98, AI report 11/99, UN 6/9/00) Taliban’s repression of women was denounced by Muslim magazine Crescent International, “the phrase ‘Islamic justice’ is used as a synonym for tyranny;” Physicians for Human Rights, “deliberately…depriving half the population under its control of jobs, schooling, mobility, and health care;” Pakistani newspaper the Daily Star, “Islamic scholars in neighboring Pakistan say the Taliban’s laws reflect tribal traditions more than Islamic tenents;” The Muslim Women’s League, “The Talibans’s insistence on secluding women from public life is a political maneuver disguised as ‘Islamic law;’” the UN, “The Special Rapporteur (of the UN) was informed by scholars that it was a religious obligation in Islam to acquire education and that deprivation of education constituted a disobedience of Islamic principles.” However, the repression of women in Afghanistan had existed before the Taliban.

US political and commercial interests required a stable government in Afghanistan. Because Taliban controlled most of the country, most US aid to Afghanistan went through the Taliban. The last payment, July, 2001, brought the total for the year to $124 million. (Pakistan Observer 10/20/01)The US viewed the Taliban as “anti-Iranian, anti-Shia and pro-western.” US support was also prompted because of the Unocal pipeline project. Many US diplomats “saw (the Taliban) as messianic do-gooders—like born-again Christians from the American Bible Belt.” (Interview with Ahmed Rashid, Azadi Aghan Radio 4/15/00) Senator Hank Brown (R, CO), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East and South East, said that “The good part of what has happened is that one of the factions at last seems capable of developing a new government in Afghanistan.” In 1997, a US diplomat said “The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis. There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.” (Taliban by Amad Rashid)

French intelligence analysts, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, in their book Bin Laden, The Forbidden Truth, reported that as late as August 2001, the US hoped that the Taliban would be a source of stability in Central Asia and would enable construction of the oil pipeline.

Major sources for this report are: Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Yale University Press, 2000, by Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Daily Telegraph UK, and The War on Freedom, Tree of Life Publication, 2002, by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development UK.

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Posted by Peace Action West on March 13th, 2012

From our partners at Peace Action West

Last week, two dozen senators led by Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Max Baucus (D-MT) sent a letter to President Obama urging a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is the strongest showing in the Senate so far for pushing the president to go beyond the goal of ending combat operations in mid-2013. After the tragic shooting of 16 civilians in Afghanistan last weekend, the calls to end our disastrous military presence are only going to get louder.

Many thanks to all of you who contacted your senators urging them to sign the letter. You can read the letter and see the list of signers below.

March 7, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write to express our support of a transition of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from a combat role to a training, advising and assistance role next year, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated was his intention on February 1st, 2012. Although we would prefer a more rapid reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the statement made by the Secretary is a positive step towards ending the decade long war.

It is time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. The United States intervened in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda’s safe haven, remove the Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursue those who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States. Thanks to the exceptional service and sacrifice made by the American Armed Forces and our allies, those objectives have largely been met. We should continue to confront America’s enemies wherever they are through targeted counterterrorism operations and end the large scale counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.

We simply cannot afford more years of elevated troop levels in Afghanistan. We are spending roughly $10 billion in Afghanistan each month at a time when we’re making tough sacrifices at home. Your recent budget calls for $88 billion more for the war in Afghanistan in 2013. If this money is appropriated, we will have spent a total of $650 billion in Afghanistan. A majority of Americans worry that the costs of the war in Afghanistan will make it more difficult for the government to address the problems facing the United States at home. They’re right.

Our troops and their families have made unimaginable sacrifices during the past ten years of war in Afghanistan. Over 1,900 American troops have been killed and over 14,300 have been wounded. Thousands more return home with invisible wounds that will make it difficult to ever again enjoy life the way they did before the war.

There is strong bipartisan support in Congress to change course in Afghanistan. The majority of Americans want a safe and orderly drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives nearly passed an amendment to the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act requiring a plan to accelerate the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan. A similar amendment introduced by Senators Merkley, Lee, T. Udall, and Paul was passed by the U. S. Senate on November 30th.

We look forward to reviewing the report required by Section 1221 of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which will set benchmarks to evaluate progress toward the assumption by the Afghan government of lead responsibility for security in all areas of Afghanistan. In light of the comments made by Secretary Panetta on February 1st, we would also be interested in learning more about how quickly U.S. troops will be coming home, the number and purpose of troops that might remain in Afghanistan and for how long a period, and the costs and savings of accelerating the completion of combat operations. Nonetheless, we welcome his announcement and encourage you to take every possible step to end the large scale combat operations in Afghanistan and transition our effort to a targeted counterterrorism strategy.

Sincerely,

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

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