Tom Cruise has dismissed claims that he said being an actor is as hard as being a soldier in Afghanistan. Cruise is currently in the middle of a lawsuit accusing Life and Style and In Touch magazines for claiming that he abandoned his daughter Suri. The New York Daily News reports that the actor was […] Read more
Tag Archive for Afghanistan
Two British soldiers have been investigated by the Ministry of Defence after a photograph emerged of them performing a Nazi salute in front of the Union Flag. Read more
Barack Obama has insisted in a message to US politicians that any military action against Syria will not involve any boots on the ground.
The first steps towards a negotiated peace settlement between Afghanistan and the Taliban have been taken – but success could be several years away. Read more
A soldier was left scratching his head after he returned home from a nine-month tour of Afghanistan to find his beloved pet dog was missing and had possibly been sold on Craigslist. Read more
This is the heart-warming moment a US soldier, who had been serving in Afghanistan for six months, returned home to surprise his wife and children during a day out at the beach.
This is the heart-stopping moment a brave Afghanistan soldier risks his life to defuse an alleged terrorist attacker’s suicide vest. Read more
David Cameron has visited British troops in Afghanistan in an unannounced trip to coincide with Armed Forces Day. Read more
Taliban militants have launched an assault on Afghanistan’s presidential palace after infiltrating one of the most secure areas of the capital Kabul.
We think small when it comes to women. Micro, to be exact.
When I first started reporting on women entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict zones in 2005, nearly everyone, from IMF officials in their offices to development workers in the field, told me the only women I would find would be “selling cheese by the side of the road.” Women, I was told again and again, did not own the kind of growing businesses that created jobs and economic growth. This, it seemed, was strictly the purview of men. One customs official even joked that they were not sure why I had taken a week-long trip to Afghanistan to interview businesswomen when surely my interviews would all fit into the space of a single afternoon.
What I found when I began reporting, however, was that even in the poorest and most traditional countries, women owned businesses that went well beyond the micro Read more
For centuries the inner-cohesion and tribal balance of the Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s ethnic majority, has been maintained by an ancient tribal code of honor called Pashtunwali, or “way of the Pashtuns”. This value system has been decimated after three decades of war, corruption, dislocation and religious fundamentalism — the offspring of incessant foreign meddling, both direct and via proxy.
Today, the Afghan government and the Taliban have made a conscious effort to devitalize Pashtunwali in their respective quests to control the population. Although it’s been dramatically weakened over the years, the tribal code still represents the prevailing norms that regulate Pashtun behavior, at both the individual and societal levels, and is still the tribe’s “center of gravity”.
The core tenets of Pashtunwali are based on self-respect, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, tolerance, loyalty, equality and independence Read more
As United States involvement in Libya continues, I find myself at odds with some on the left opposed to the United Nation’s intervention to prevent the slaughter of civilians.
As I wrote on my blog over the weekend, like many, I’m wary of U.S. military intervention in other nations. I opposed the war in Afghanistan early because, along with the church I served at the time, I felt that U.S. intervention there would be harmful to the civilian population and that the United States would leave Afghanistan in a position similar to that of the Soviet withdrawal, weakened and humbled, without achieving our legitimate goal of defeating the terrorists who attacked the U.S Read more
After a 2010 Congressional election completely absent foreign policy debates, the irony is lost on no one that events around the world now completely dominate recent headlines. At first glance, it would be easy to see the Republican Party as divided from within as it tries to figure out how America should engage the world. On the one hand, the Tea Party is looking to slash America’s foreign policy budget down to the bone. One the other hand, we have Republican presidential hopefuls calling on the U.S Read more
A new report put out today by The Century Foundation urges the start of serious peace talks among the parties to the Afghanistan War. The report warns that even with the massive influx of U.S. troops over the past year, the war has settled into a stalemate in which neither side has a credible potential to eliminate the other on the battlefield. As such, the only credible path to an end to the Afghanistan conflict is through serious negotiations, which must begin now.
The Century Foundation’s call for serious negotiations to end the war reinforces the message pushed by the Rethink Afghanistan campaign for months, specifically that the only feasible way to end the war is through a political settlement, and the longer we wait, the less acceptable the settlement is likely to be Read more
As the bombing of Libya escalates, those who supported the attacks might want to ask themselves the following questions: What is next?
The death toll will mount and so will the structural damage to the country. Regardless of the hatred for Gaddafi, there will be inevitable resentment from Libyans upset at seeing the invaders of Iraq and Afghanistan target another Arab country. If the bombing does not work and Gaddafi continues to wage war against the rest of his country, will our intervention have helped or made the already bad situation worse? Do we then ‘stay the course’ to ensure freedom for the Libyan people?
These are questions that have yet to be answered by the authors of this new war, echoing the moral certainty of Bush and Blair and the disregard for public opposition.
Obama’s decision to involve the U.S. smacks of a cynical attempt to boost his popularity at home by appearing tough — an age-old trick used when the economy is in the doldrums and nothing appears to be working politically Read more
An InDepth Interview With Christopher Preble Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute
Recently, I conducted an in-depth interview with Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, on his assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy, the implications of the WikiLeaks revelations, U.S. leadership in the age of globalization, excess defense spending and international development, the future of U.S. diplomatic engagement, and much more.
A 2000-word excerpt is below, while the full 4300-word transcript can be found at World Affairs Commentary.
Rahim Kanani: As you observe U.S. foreign policy in the context of the recent and continued uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, how would you assess the Obama Administration’s current posture towards the crises?
Christopher Preble: I think that the Obama administration inherited a difficult situation, and has handled it reasonably well, all other factors being considered Read more
The first time I taught a one-hour class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a 20-year-old student made it very clear that while he might be studying ethics, law and morality in school, it was practicalities that really concerned him.
“If we are kicking in doors in Iraq,” the third year student — known in West Point parlance as a “Cow” — said, “and I find a guy who has a load of materials that could be used to build an IED in his home and explosive residue on his hands, I don’t have time to do a by-the-book interview do I? I mean, lives are at stake and we will have minutes, not hours or days, to get the info we need.”
The cadet’s question touched off a debate that easily lasted through the hour, with students arguing that Abu Ghraib and other forms of torture should always be off limits because they are illegal and they have harmed the United States’ larger strategic efforts, and others arguing that a soldier sometimes had to do “whatever it takes” to protect other soldiers from harm.
One argument that the class did not spend much time considering was the idea that legal, humane, interrogation techniques may, in fact, yield more accurate information faster.
A new book, Kill or Capture: How a Special Operations Task Force Took Down a Notorious Al Qaeda Terrorist by Matthew Alexander — an Air Force intelligence officer — is a first person account of the successes (and failures) of one 2-man interrogation team that is called on to repeatedly interrogate Iraqis in their homes, and make intelligence assessments in 10 minutes or less.
The book is a case study in what can be accomplished by interrogators who rely on their brains, rather than their fists, to gather information quickly.
Alexander and his partner abhor the use of abuse to make detainees talk. At one point, for example, in the kitchen of an insurgent, he struggles to pry the fingers of an angry Special Forces captain off the throat of a suspect.
Eventually Alexander prevails. But he observes, “If Walid had any thoughts of cooperating, they just evaporated Read more
This week’s headlines were rightly dominated by news from Japan, Libya, and Bahrain. But developments on another international story — Afghanistan — also deserve our attention. Joining a growing list of Republican leaders, Haley Barbour took his first steps toward a possible 2012 run by sharply questioning our continuing presence in the country. This came on the heels of Mike Huckabee also distancing himself from the war Read more
By Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis
March 19 marks the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a nation that had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the 9/11 attacks. It was sold to the American public as a war to defend our nation and free the Iraqi people. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said our soldiers would be greeted as liberators and that Iraqi oil money would pay for the reconstruction Read more
General David Petraeus is in Washington, D.C., this week and, as expected, we are hearing claims of success and progress. No matter that we’ve heard these assertions and predictions before or that our elected representatives, charged on our behalf with oversight, are failing to ask such basic and elementary questions as:
Over the last couple of years, hasn’t anybody in the Pentagon or administration asked the hard questions of what would happen if we add 50,000 troops and tens of billions of dollars to a 30-year-old war in Afghanistan and it doesn’t turn out as we hoped? What do we do then?
Where is al Qaeda?
For those charged with oversight there is always a fine line between deference and respect. However, many members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, motivated by a lack of political and intellectual courage, have clearly chosen to abdicate their oversight responsibility and to elevate our general officers to a near clerical or infallible status and simply defer.
On Tuesday, the same day General Petraeus testified in front of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, I, along with Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings and Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, participated in a panel entitled “Afghanistan: A Countdown to July Redeployment” at the US House of Representatives:
During our panel, Michael Hastings offered a quip comparing the public relations efforts of General Petraeus to Charlie Sheen. At first consideration, it is just a wisecrack, but as Will Keola Thomas, an Afghanistan Study Group Fellow, explains quite well, it should be taken quite seriously:
Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings on the parallels between the PR campaign of a self-destructive major drug-consuming Hollywood star and General Petraeus’ publicity tour for a self-destructive policy in major drug-producing Afghanistan:
“This is the Charlie Sheen counterinsurgency strategy Read more
Today, we will spend roughly $325 million fighting in Afghanistan. Twenty million dollars was spent just during Gen. David Petraeus’s testimony to Congress this morning.
This month, we are on track to spend more than $10 billion in Afghanistan. This year, we expect to spend $120 billion fighting the war there.
And for what?
In the last year, we had the highest number of U.S Read more
I recently had the opportunity to see an early version of Heather Courtney’s new documentary, Where Soldiers Come From, a deeply emotional film following a group of young men from the Upper Peninsula (UP) who enlist in the Michigan National Guard following high school, and find themselves in the midst of the war in Afghanistan. The film itself is moving and well-made, contrasting the lives of working class rural young Americans, many of whom have few options in their communities, with the stark reality of war.
In full disclosure, Heather is a close family friend. In all honesty, that has nothing to do with the power of this film Read more
General David Petraeus is set to testify before Congress today, and he’s expected to again try to put a positive spin on a war effort that’s utterly failing to meet the goals set by its backers. While intelligence assessments show that tactical moves on the ground in Afghanistan have failed to fundamentally weaken the growing insurgency, Petraeus expected to offer “a mostly upbeat assessment today of military progress.” Petraeus’s Potemkin village tours of Afghanistan for visiting dignitaries may have “impressed” people like John McCain, but Defense Intelligence Agency head General Ronald Burgess rains all over the progress talk with the sobering news that the casualties inflicted on the Taliban have caused “no apparent degradation in their capacity to fight.”
As if to underline Burgess’ point, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a recruiting station for the Afghan Army, killing at least 35 people in northern Afghanistan on Monday.
Despite the assurances from the administration, the military and their think-tank allies, the massive troop escalations of 2009 and 2010 have failed to reverse the momentum of the insurgency or protect the Afghan population from insurgent intimidation and violence. From today’s L.A. Times:
While the Taliban maintained momentum in 2010 and early 2011, the escalation strategy backed by Petraeus failed to protect Afghans from violence as promised, with 2010 being the deadliest year of the war so far for civilians.
One of the most hawkish of the Petraeus backers in the Senate, Senator McCain, is working hard to set the bounds for acceptable debate in Congress, but he, like the counterinsurgency campaign, is failing:
McCain only sees what he wants to see, apparently Read more