Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Afghanistan

The name alone sounds exotic, mysterious and vaguely sinister. Afghanistan is a country that has been difficult in many ways for many empires.

The name means “Land of the Afghans.”  “Istan” means “land of.” Afghans is the Persian name for Pushtuns, a dominate tribe in Afghanistan for centuries. Persians, of course, are now know as Iranians. The name dates from well before 1333, the first recorded use of the name, Afghans.

The Afghans have been frequently conquered by many an empires and subsequently have won their freedom from same. Most recently, they freed themselves from a ten year rule by the Soviets, only to be controlled by the Taliban.

Now, the Afghans are our problem.

It almost goes without saying that “winning” in Afghanistan is impossible. The Soviets killed a million Afghans and yet were chased out of the country by the Mujahideen. The US backed the Mujahideen, but failed to support them after the failure of the Soviets.

Now, the Afghans are our problem.

Our failure to support the Mujahideen led to the reemergence of tribal warlords in Afghanistan. Basically, Afghans swear allegiance to their tribal leaders and not to a centralized government.

Now, the United States is attempting to establish a centralized government without alienating the tribal communities.

The United States “War on Afghanistan” has been a disaster from virtually the beginning. The Taliban was routed within a few weeks, then we took our eye off the target and focused on Iraq.

The people of Afghanistan are used to this pattern – they are patient and resilient. It is a foregone conclusion that they will ultimately reclaim their lands from all foreign invaders.

Now, the Afghans are our problem.

War is different now. We are not trying to defeat an enemy as we did during World War II. We are attempting to control an ideology that is 1,400 years old. There will be no drive into Berlin or subjugation of Tokyo. There is no 38th parallel.

President Obama has made the right decision to begin withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan in mid-2011. We cannot, nor can anyone, win in that country.

The decision is simple – knock out those that sheltered al Qaeda and get out.

Thoughts?


William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under Afghanistan

Female Marines

Forty female Marines have arrived in Afghanistan with a mission impossible for their male counterparts: connecting with the war-torn country’s women. In groups of twos and threes, they’ve been sent throughout the country, into homes, where over cups of tea they dispense medical help and encourage women to become involved with Afghan society. “We know we can make a difference,” Capt. Emily Naslund told The New York Times. The female marines are not just running into the country’s cultural barriers but also those of the military as male commanders prove reluctant to send the women on some dangerous patrols. However, the men know the impact having women soldiers in their midst can have on the Afghan population. Without them, one said, “It’s just a bunch of guys with rockets and machine guns trying to hand out a bear to a kid, and he starts to cry.”

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Filed under Afghanistan, Woman Power

Bin Laden in Our Sights, But We Failed to Nab Him?

Do you suppose it is really true that if the first pictured Mullah had been on his toes, the second one might not have escaped from Afghanistan in 2001?  And further, Senator Levin contends, we might not now be fighting the war in Afghanistan if bin Laden had been captured in 2001.

Predicting the future is always a risky business, but will the number of books on the failed presidency of POTUS #43 be more than fifty by the year 2012?  Seems possible to me…  What do your divining rods say out there in the internets (you know, those bunch of tubes)?

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Filed under Afghanistan, George W. Bush

Jon Krakauer’s Latest: Men, Testosterone, Machismo and Tragedy

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I have to be in a certain mood to want to read a Jon Krakauer book.  Usually, that mood is not a good one.  I greatly admire his work which include:  Into the Wild9780385522267[1]; Into Thin Air; and Under the Banner of Heaven.  Krakauer’s latest:  Where Men Win Glory:  The Odyssey of Pat Tillman was definitely worthy of this author’s attention and talents.  As I see it, the beat that Krakauer works is the intersection of Men, machismo, and testosterone and the likely result  of the collision of these  forces is – Tragedy.  There could be no better places to mine these ores than in the NFL and the disaster currently called Afghanistan.

In his own machismo struggle, Krakauer took the photo that graces the cover of this latest.

The story follows the divergent timelines of unrelated events.  For examples:  1) when Tillman was in highschool, Ramzi Yousef was doing this; 2) when Tillman was in college, Osama bin Laden was doing this. 

The forces eventually meet.  And predictably not to a good end.

This book troubled me almost as much as the Under the Banner of Heaven did. The intentional deceit perpetrated by our government about Tillman’s death in its unique way made the tragedy worse than in the earlier book. 

And… the criminals in this latest book have not been held accountable.

iggydonnelly

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Filed under Afghanistan, Book Reviews

Going Out on a Limb Here: It is Past Time to Get Out of Afghanistan

afghanistan_rel_2003[1]While President Obama claimed that “Afghanistan is no Viet Nam”, I personally believe the similarities and the attendent boondoggles are close enough to make any differences moot.  I have borrowed the ideas for this thread from Hightower’s Hightower Lowdown, Vol. 11, No. 10, Oct. 2009.

First off, should our country be  going about our possible escalation of forces based on the judgement of a few generals?  Our president recently claimed that the mission in Afghanistan is “to disrupt, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies.”  Hightower asks “what this mean? Is this what America should be doing?  Is it worth doing?” – All are questions that should be publicly debated.

Secondly, we’re in Afghanistan to whip Al Qaeda!  Uh… Mr. President, U.S. Defense Dept.,  Al Qaeda left Afghanistan a long time ago.  Al Qaeda’s main base is in Pakison.  Does fighting the war in the wrong country remind anyone else of a former president?

Reason number three: We’ll save the people from the Taliban.  The Taliban is not monlithic unified group.  They include illiterate farmers, former anti-Soviet warriors, roving bandits, opportunistic drug trraffickers.  They are a nasty outfit when it comes to their treatment of girls and women.  The Taliban, however, is not a surrogate for Al Qaeda.

Reason four: We must support the Afghan President.  President Karzai’s influence stops at the city limits of the capital city, Kabul.  Afghanistan, politically and structurally, is a tribal area where different smaller tribal leaders are the sole government that has any real meaning to the citizens.  There is no national government to protect.  Also, Karzai’s blatant corruption and electoral fraud, doesn’t speak well to the locals about U.S. support.

Reason 5: We’re Training the Afghan Army.  Given the sorry shape of the national military force, it could take up untold years and treasure to bring the Army up to minimally effective readiness.  There is an absolute derth of reliable military commanders for the Afghan Army and resolving this problem will take years.

Is it time to reconsider the Afghan mission?  Alternate opinions appreciated.

iggydonnelly

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Smaller “more pure” Republican Party

The economy, Afghanistan, the charges of radical leftist/communist/Marxist/Maoist agenda, all the controversy around reforming health care and the inexplicable opposition to anything Obama should indicate success for Republicans in the 2010 mid term elections.  All those factors should also point toward this president likely being a one-term president.  If you listen to the people who seem to be Republican spokespersons, that’s what they will tell you will happen.  But if you study the numbers, that’s not what’s going on.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story that contends Tea Party activists are energizing the Republican Party, but all that enthusiasm comes with a price: They may be scaring away the moderates that would help the GOP retake the House in 2010.  With closed primaries, the smaller “more pure” Republican party will nominate only the most far right-wing movement conservatives they can find, further alienating moderates.

Yes, the loudest of the Republicans are predicting a big comeback and just may be the reason the party stays out of power until they get their heads on straight.

fnord

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Filed under Elections, hate groups, Obama, Political Reform, Radical Rightwing groups, Republicans

Mohammed Jawad: A Huge Injustice

Mohamed Jawad

Mohammed Jawad was taken into U.S. custody during our war in Afghanistan. He confessed to throwing a hand grenade that injured U.S. soldiers. It was later revealed that this confession was obtained with torture. He is from a poor Afghan family where exact dates of birth are not known. It is probable that he was born in 1991 based upon his mother’s recollection of significant events – this in turn means that in 2003 when Jawad was captured that he was 12 years old. The official U.S. documents contend that he was age 18 when he was transferred to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay – this is unlikely.

The U.S. Army officer assigned to conduct Jawad’s military tribunal removed himself from the case due to his inability to “in good conscience” complete this assignment.

Read the accounts here and here of this shameful case. It is way past time to free Jawad.

The photo above was taken three months before Jawad was captured.

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Filed under Crimes, Enhanced Interrogations, History, Republicans, torture, WAR, World Politics