The WikiLeaks Documentary: Our thanks to War in Context for sending this out via email. View their site here.
Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category
Julian Assange interviewed by David Frost; 131 Vets Arrested: Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War; Ellsberg on WikiLeaksDecember 21, 2010
Julian Assange interviewed by David Frost, a David Paradine Production for Al Jazeera
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Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War. 131 Veterans arrested in front of the White House Dec. 16, 2010 Join them, Click Here…
Hear Daniel Ellsberg’s analysis of WikiLeaks information, and his statement on the Obama Administration’s tranparency.
Part Two: Ellsberg on WikiLeaks
Ron Paul is Correct. Julian Assange writes “Don’t shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths”December 7, 2010
Don’t shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths Julian Assange From: The Australian December 08, 2010 12:00AM
WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.
IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.
These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.
WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?
Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.
People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.
If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.
WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.
And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.
Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.
We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.
Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.
Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?
It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.
But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:
► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.
► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.
► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.
► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
(Updated) Wikileaks new release of 400,000 documents: Many facts show coverup of war statistics and much more, a must readOctober 23, 2010
UPDATE: The day after Wikileaks document release, founder Julian Assange fears great retaliation from the U.S. agencies. Read it here in the New York Times.
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The following was taken from Wikileaks.org website. Please go there and view the documents. The United States is a Rogue Nation.
At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs’), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.
The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians'; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.
We, at Out of Central Asia Now, have been bringing you opinions from writers from throughout the world. All of the stories were used by us to show we Must End These Wars Now. Today, we bring you from CNN, the following story in full. It is time for our White Ribbons with black letters to be worn on our clothes to show that we want the war(s) over NOW. Read on please.
Withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan By Amitai Etzioni, Special to CNN October 12, 2010 10:11 a.m. EDT
Editor’s note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including “Security First” and “New Common Ground.” He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.
(CNN) — Before I explain why I believe the time has come to start a stop-the-war movement, I should say that I am not one of those intellectuals who has never worried about the fate of their loved ones or gotten his own boots dirty.
My son completed a five-year stint in the U.S. 1st Armored Division. As an Israeli commando, I saw a lot of fighting during Israel’s war for independence. My unit started fighting with 1,100 members; when the fighting stopped, 700 were dead and buried or wounded. And we killed all too many on the other side.
I abhor war and believe we should fight only when there is a clear and present danger, when all other means for resolving a conflict have been truly exhausted and to protect the innocent. Those are the three criteria of a just war. The war in Afghanistan used to meet these criteria. It no longer does.
We invaded Afghanistan to stop it from serving as a base for terrorists of the kind who attacked us on 9/11. This goal has been accomplished.
Fewer than 100 members of al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. There are many more in Yemen and Somalia, which we are not planning to invade.
Video: Karzai: Relations with Obama good
Video: Karzai: Osama bin Laden not here
Video: Failed rescue attempt probe The Taliban has no designs on us, beyond making us leave. After that, the people of Afghanistan can duke it out over which kind of regime they want. If the majority of the Afghan people don’t want the Taliban to rule, they should fight for their rights, as they have shown they can when they defeated the Taliban in 2002 with limited help from us.
Some claim that we must keep fighting to secure human rights, especially women’s rights, and a democratic regime in Afghanistan. However, nothing indicates that we can accomplish in this godforsaken 12th-century country what we did in Germany and Japan after World War II.
The metrics that the U.S. Army keeps inventing to show progress are pitiful. Having committed 100,000 troops and a similar number of “private” contractors against rag-tag, poorly equipped, illiterate locals, we captured a few scores of square miles, opened a few markets and a local government or two. But large and growing areas of Afghanistan are under Taliban control. We should neither die nor kill for an illusion.
Sometimes, a minor news item highlights a much greater issue.
A recent report from an embedded reporter for GlobalPost shows a 19-year-old American soldier getting shot in the head — his helmet saved him from death — as his unit traveled through Kunar Province in late August. They were surveying polling sites for the upcoming elections. Also, a homemade bomb, called an IED, damaged and set afire the lead vehicle of this small convoy and severely wounded its driver.
It seemed absurd to risk lives of Americans, our allies or Afghans to support faux elections.
In many parts of the country, ballot stations could not be opened. In others, massive fraud took place. Adding insult to injury, we congratulated the Afghan government on holding “successful” elections. That way, we did not have to admit to the world and each other that whatever the Karzai government is — one of the most corrupt governments in the world, a foundation of a new narcostate — democracy it ain’t, by a long shot.
How much our entanglement in Afghanistan is turning into a sad farce became all too clear when President Obama flew to Kabul to tell Karzai that he ought to stop corruption.
When, in response, Karzai started negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban, the White House rolled out the red carpet for Karzai and announced that from now on, the U.S. will focus on low-level corruption. Moreover, it turns out that major sources of corruption are our corporations and the CIA.
It’s time to bring our troops home.
To encourage our president and Congress to withdraw the troops, let’s fasten to our lapels white ribbons (for peace) with black letters (mourning those who died) that read “Bring them home.” The time has come to organize teach-ins and antiwar groups. Instead of another march on Washington, let there be rallies across America. Bring the troops home.
The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Amitai Etzioni.
LeT as dangerous as Taliban, al-Qaida: US; U.S. struggles to counter Taliban propaganda; US drone strikes kill 15 in North Waziristan; Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedmann’s Year of the Drone Interactive Map, must seeOctober 3, 2010
On March 27, we predicted that since the U.S. CIA director said that there were “…less than 100 al-Qaida in Afghanistan..”, that the LeT would be the new “terrorist targets”, click here to see that Post. The following story comes from The Times of India, click here for the full story. This is another reason to never stop military action in Central Asia. Where to next?
NEW DELHI: The US on Thursday said Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit was as dangerous as Taliban and al-Qaida with which it was working in close coordination and that Pakistan has been asked to deny it a foothold in that country.
U.S. struggles to counter Taliban propaganda, from the New York Times, read the whole story, click here. Ed. Note: The Pentagon has spent over $500 Million on “Public Relations” to show the “good results of the military efforts” and the Taliban are winning this PR war also? What gives? Get out now…
KABUL – The Taliban in recent months has developed increasingly sophisticated and nimble propaganda tactics that have alarmed U.S. officials struggling to curb the militant group’s growing influence across Afghanistan.
US drone strikes kill 15 in North Waziristan, from Dawn.com, click here for full story.
MIRANSHAH: Two US drone strikes killed 15 militants Saturday in a lawless tribal belt in Pakistan, where a land route for Nato supplies was blocked for a third consecutive day, officials said.
Officials in Washington say its drone strikes in the region have killed several high-value targets, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, and help protect troops in Afghanistan from attacks plotted across the border.
…However, drone attacks are a sensitive issue in Pakistan as the attacks also fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.
…Pakistani officials have reported that at least 21 US drone strikes in September have killed around 120 people, the highest monthly toll for the attacks.
Our study shows that the 172 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 76 in 2010, from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 1,153 and 1,772 individuals, of whom around 842 to 1,238 were described as militants in reliable press accounts. Thus, the true non-militant fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 30 percent
(UPDATE, WASH POST REPORTS) Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim WorldSeptember 17, 2010
UPDATE: U.S. covert paramilitary presence in Afghanistan much larger than thought Written by By Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller,Washington Post Staff Writers,Wednesday, September 22, 2010. Our story below outlines the further extent of the use of paramilitary forces to assassinate “terrorists, insurgents, and others that are against U.S. policies”. This is not new news, but it is new to our Media. Where’s the reporting? It’s time to stop printing government press releases and begin “reporting” again. Read on:
The following interview of Ex-CIA Operative, Duane Clarridge “Defends the Empire”, Oct. 16, 2008. If it is in our National Security Interest, we can eliminate the threat anytime we wish, do you belive that? This video was taken from the article below the video. View this:
Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World
By Fred Branfman, AlterNet
Posted on August 24, 2010, Printed on September 15, 2010
Read the full story here, click this link.
“[General McChrystal says that] for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” — “The Runaway General,” Rolling Stone, 6/22/10
The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America’s military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more “enemies,” as Gen. McChrystal suggests — posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military’s policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.
The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing — though directed and financed by the C.I.A. — has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now has changed dramatically.
What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims — through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.
Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale “mechanized assassination.” As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: “For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war.”
This combination of human and technological murder amounts to a worldwide “Assassination Inc.” that is unique in human affairs.
The increasing shift to direct U.S. assassination began on Petraeus’s watch in Iraq,where targeted assassination was considered by many within the military to be more important than the “surge.” The killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered a major triumph that significantly reduced the level of violence. As Bob Woodward reported in The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008:
“Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of top secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups. A number of authoritative sources say these covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) responsible for hunting al Qaeda in Iraq, (conducted) lightning-quick and sometimes concurrent operations When I later asked the president (Bush) about this, he offered a simple answer: ‘JSOC is awesome.'” [Emphasis added.]
Woodward’s finding that many “authoritative sources” believed assassination more important than the surge is buttressed by Petraeus’ appointment of McChrystal to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s major qualification for the post was clearly his perceived expertise in assassination while heading JSOC from 2003-’08 (where he also conducted extensive torture at “Camp Nama” at Baghdad International Airport, successfully excluding even the Red Cross).
Another key reason for the increased reliance on assassination is that Petraeus’ announced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan obviously cannot work. It is absurd to believe that the corrupt warlords and cronies who make up the “Afghan government” can be transformed into the viable entity upon which his strategy publicly claims to depend — particularly within the next year which President Obama has set as a deadline before beginning to withdraw U.S. troops. Petraeus is instead largely relying on mass assassination to try and eliminate the Taliban, both within Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The centrality of assassination to U.S. war plans is revealed by the fact that it was at the heart of the Obama review of Afghan policy last fall. The dovish Biden position called for relying primarily on assassination, while the hawkish McChrystal stance embraced both assassination and more troops. No other options were seriously considered.
A third factor behind the shift to mass assassination is that Petraeus and the U.S. military are also determined to attack jihadi forces in nations where the U.S. is not at war, and which are not prepared to openly invite in U.S. forces. As the N.Y. Times reported on May 24, “General Petraeus (has argued) that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant groups.”
The most significant aspect of this new and expanded assassination policy is President Obama’s authorizing clandestine U.S. military personnel to conduct it. The N.Y. Times has also reported:
In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists (Military) Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies.
Fred Branfman, the editor of “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), exposed the U.S. secret air war while living in Laos from 1967 to 1971.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147944/
A special Thank You to Rethinkafghanistan for their review of Giles Dorronsoro’s reporting for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, read their review here. Please support RethinkAfghanistan, visit their site here.
The latest report from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Giles Dorronsoro has a stark warning for the U.S.: the counterinsurgency strategy has already failed. The Taliban, he says, are solidifying a shadow state across Afghanistan, and the longer the U.S. waits to begin negotiations in earnest, the less likely the Taliban will be to make concessions. His report confirms what we’ve said for months: the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan isn’t working, and it’s not worth the costs.
The full Question and Answer session with Mr. Dorronsoro is presented below for your review. But first, watch Rethinkafghaistan video entitled “General Petraeus’ “Progress” Spin on Afghanistan: We’ve Heard It Before”:
Worsening Outlook in Afghanistan
Q&A, September 9, 2010
Even with the surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the coalition’s position continues to erode as the Taliban gain strength. Ahead of the July 2011 date to start pulling troops out of Afghanistan, the Obama administration approaches a strategic review of the war in December and will have to decide whether to maintain course or change direction. Meanwhile, American public support for the war is waning.
Just back from another trip to Afghanistan, Gilles Dorronsoro details in a Q&A the deteriorating security situation on the ground in Afghanistan, analyzes U.S. strategy, and makes the case for negotiations with the insurgency. Dorronsoro argues that Washington’s approach is failing and talking with the Taliban—through the Pakistani military establishment—is the least-bad option available. The best hope for exiting the war is to Afghanize the conflict and establish a coalition government that includes Taliban leaders.
■How is the situation changing on the ground?
■How strong are the Taliban?
■How important are the parliamentary elections in September?
■Is the current U.S. strategy on course? Did the influx of U.S. troops change the war?
■Has the arrival of General Petraeus altered the U.S. war strategy? Will the policies be rethought this year?
■How should the United States shift its current policy?
■What role is Pakistan playing in the war in Afghanistan? Can the United States trust the Pakistani government and military?
How is the situation changing on the ground?
Security in Afghanistan is clearly deteriorating. When I arrived in Afghanistan this summer, I didn’t anticipate a major change in the safety conditions since my last trip in April. Even with the surge of U.S. troops, I expected things to have stayed mainly the same within the short window of time between trips. I was wrong. There was a palpable regression.
The conditions have only gotten worse since the new U.S. counterinsurgency strategy was rolled out. While the coalition is talking about progress in a few districts, the general picture is quite different.
In Helmand, where the coalition has used its best troops, progress will take at least five years to materialize, according to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, James T. Conway. With an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign in Marja, coalition troops have been working to suppress the local insurgency. But months after the offensive started, Marja remains unstable and insecure. The lack of progress in Helmand delayed plans to move onto Kandahar, the second largest city in Afghanistan, and forced the United States to rethink its ambitious agenda.
Operations in Kandahar will be even more difficult because the insurgents enjoy strong popular support west of the city and this is where the most severe fights will take place in the next few months. The fighting is currently strongest in a small district north of Kandahar city where there are a series of military bases. While this is a strategically important location for controlling the city, U.S. forces have been unable to extend control beyond their bases—it takes hours to go just hundreds of meters outside on patrol. And they have failed to build a local militia or strong ties with influential people. The Taliban are too powerful in the south to defeat.
Things are also going badly in the north. The Taliban are in charge in many places and, even where they are not, the Afghan government has no real support. Of course it’s not a situation where areas wholly support the government or the Taliban, it’s more complicated than that as there are locations with local commanders who are not dependent on Kabul.
In the east, the United States is trying to implement a political strategy, but these efforts are unlikely to change the course of the entire struggle. Special forces have been able to build a tribal shura, or leadership council, in the Chamkani district in the east and according to early indications this has been received positively. While it’s too early to tell how these efforts will progress, minor progress in the east won’t have any concrete impact on the overall direction of the war itself.
How strong are the Taliban?
The Taliban are trying to take the fight to every part of Afghanistan and are successfully gaining control as the group becomes more of a national movement. The strategy is working as the conflict spreads across the country. Without many more troops than would ever be feasible for the United States or NATO to supply, the coalition will be unable to face all the threats at once, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain a tactical success in a single location that could have wider tangible implications for the war. The progress of the insurgency is now irreversible as the Afghan government is too weak to roll back the insurgents.
The presence of the Taliban can even be felt in Kabul. They are progressively surrounding the capital and tightening their control in adjacent areas. With the center of the city remaining safe, even to foreigners, there are fewer and fewer places outside the city that are reachable by car. The Taliban have placed checkpoints on the roads out of Kabul in the north and south. It’s dangerous to drive as government employees risk being killed and foreigners are in danger of being captured. The isolation of Kabul is putting further strain on the government and coalition as they cannot easily travel outside the capital.
In the south, the Taliban are successfully holding their ground with low levels of casualties in Kandahar and Helmand, despite concerted American campaigns. And the Taliban have successfully discouraged local partners from working with the coalition.
In essence, the Taliban are building a shadow state. Right now, the Taliban are the only effective force in many areas. The services provided are limited, but efficient. A clear indication is that international nongovernmental organizations are beginning to deal directly with the Taliban as they need their support to operate effectively. The process has become so formalized, for example, that international groups can now expect to receive a paper that is stamped and sealed by the Taliban to work in some Taliban-controlled areas.
How important are the parliamentary elections in September?
The parliamentary elections scheduled for September will in many ways be a rerun of last year’s presidential campaign. The political process will be extremely corrupt and the international community won’t be able to monitor the election on the ground. President Karzai will marginalize progressives and use the elections for his own political gain.
Still, the elections will not be a major development in determining Afghanistan’s fate. Karzai is increasingly going around parliament and through a jirga—a tribal gathering of leaders—to establish new policies. If Karzai wants to do something, he simply marginalizes the parliament.
Is the current U.S. strategy on course? Did the influx of U.S. troops change the war?
The United States has a failing strategy in Afghanistan. Since last year there has not been one serious element of progress and the situation will not improve without a strategic recalculation.
Washington wants to weaken the Taliban by beefing up the counterinsurgency campaign to the point where the Taliban will be forced to ask for amnesty and join the government. But the Taliban are growing stronger and there are no indications that U.S. efforts can defeat the insurgents.
So far, additional troops have not translated into a tactical victory. Despite arguments to the contrary, the higher levels of casualties in the coalition do not equal progress on the ground. The coalition has not been successful in Marjah and is fighting without clear political objectives in Kandahar because it’s not able to reform the local administration. The idea that the coalition can win the hearts and minds of the people is too optimistic without concrete results. And even if the situations in Kandahar and Marjah improve—two big ifs—the Taliban will remain a strong movement across Afghanistan, while the United States would have to use a large portion of its forces just to hold them.
Complementing the additional forces was a civilian surge. The idea behind providing more money for development was that it would improve the lives of the local population and marginalize the Taliban. The concept, however, is not proven as there is no empirical data to support the theory.
It’s quite the opposite in fact. When billions of dollars are dumped into the local economy, it destabilizes the population and society. The provincial reconstruction team poured $80-90 million into Kunar province in east Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009, but the local economy wasn’t able to absorb the cash. It fed corruption and reinforced a war economy where beneficiaries are interested in perpetuating a low level of conflict.
In a year, the Taliban will not disappear as a political force or even be weakened militarily—the longer it takes for negotiations to begin, the harder it will be for the coalition to carry out the best possible exit strategy. Negotiations are the least bad option.
Has the arrival of General Petraeus altered the U.S. war strategy? Will the policies be rethought this year?
General Petraeus has not yet fundamentally changed U.S. strategy, but he wants to change the rules of engagement slightly so U.S. forces will be less restricted and more able to respond to the Taliban attacks.
Petraeus wants time to implement the counterinsurgency tactics and win the war. Debate over the future of the war will liven in the run-up to the December review by the Obama administration. The evaluation of U.S. strategy, however, will be about politics, not about the situation on the ground. All sides will try to manipulate public opinion. At the end of the day, President Obama will essentially have two possibilities—he can either maintain the current course or begin negotiating with the insurgents.
Advocates of a continued push will argue that only now are the resources in place for the counterinsurgency strategy to be effectively carried out and more time is needed to assess results. But this line of reasoning ignores reality that the strategy has already failed on the ground and there is no evidence that the situation can be reversed in strategically decisive ways. This is dangerous because the Taliban are less likely to talk in a year.
Moreover, the growing strength of the insurgency, combined with the withdrawal of Canadian and Dutch forces, means that reinforcements will be needed in the next few years. Not only will the United States not be able to begin a withdrawal next summer, but more troops will be needed just to slow the Taliban’s forward momentum.
Instead, the White House can take the situation into its own hands and admit that the American-led coalition is not going to win the war. Recognizing the deteriorating conditions, the United States can lead the effort to negotiate with the Taliban through the Pakistani military.
How should the United States shift its current policy?
While the interest in a calm, secure, and stable Afghanistan is widespread, the longer the United States waits to begin negotiations the smaller chance they will have to succeed. The United States needs to Afghanize the war. Instead of a global war pitting the United States against jihadis, the future needs to be in the hands of Afghans and only then will they find local solutions to the war.
The way forward is apparent. In the coming months, the American-led coalition needs to declare a ceasefire and begin talking to the Taliban. While negotiations could be an extremely long and fraught process, the sooner they begin the more likely they are to achieve results.
Negotiations must include the United States, Taliban, Pakistani military, and members of the Afghan government and Northern Alliance. It needs to be relatively small at first as bringing in too many regional powers would only complicate negotiations.
The idea of negotiating only through President Karzai is not a good idea. He is both too weak and surrounded by influential advisers who oppose the United States. He is no longer a partner of Washington and it would be irresponsible to leave the talks in his hands. Plus, neither the Taliban nor Pakistan wants to negotiate with Karzai because he can’t deliver results. The United States must play a leading role as it would be dangerous not to.
The talks will need to establish a coalition government in Kabul—that includes Taliban leaders—and security guarantees for the Western alliance that al-Qaeda will not return and use Afghanistan as a base to mount terrorist attacks abroad. As negotiations proceed, there will need to be a political agreement detailing the withdrawal of coalition forces. Ideally, 10,000-20,000 troops will stay in the country to defend against external threats, but this would depend on how the talks are going.
After a broad-based government is set up, a larger international conference will be needed to garner global support for the new body. This certainly must include India, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. It could perhaps be under the auspice of the UN, which might provide some of the important outside powers more incentive to cooperate than if the United States were driving it alone.
If the United States starts now, it can work. If the international community waits too long, the Taliban will be too strong and will be unwilling to make concessions.
What role is Pakistan playing in the war in Afghanistan? Can the United States trust the Pakistani government and military?
It’s clear that the Pakistanis are still supporting the Taliban. This was known well before WikiLeaks disclosed secret documents detailing supposed links between the Pakistani military and Taliban.
In February, the Taliban’s operational commander, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested in Karachi. As the second-ranking Taliban official after Mullah Muhammad Omar, the arrest was heralded as Islamabad’s new devotion to eradicating the Taliban and fighting terrorism. But the arrest was not a change in strategy, it was designed to cut off secret peace talks between Kabul and Baradar that left out Pakistan. The Taliban’s connections with the Pakistani military persist.
U.S. policy on Pakistan, however, is disconnected from reality. Washington continues to funnel money to the Pakistani government to move against the Afghan Taliban—but this is yesterday’s policy. It’s far too late for the Pakistani army to reverse course. And even if Washington got what it wanted and high-level Taliban leaders were arrested, it would not kill the insurgency. The Taliban are too strong and the remaining players in Afghanistan will refuse to negotiate.
In fact, if Islamabad loses influence over the Afghan Taliban, it will be a loss for Washington. Instead of trying to disconnect the Pakistani government from the Taliban, the United States should use the links to start talking. The United States must start using the situation to its own advantage.
Ed. Note: It is time to stop war funding. Give the same amount of funds for the next two years to a Muslim Based Charity to do the reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Pakistan). End the bloodshed, it is only making more “terrorists/insurgents/patriots”, whichever definition of those fighting against us may be.
Dear Readers: We’re off on Vacation, returning in early September. Is there a war or wars going on? Do you feel it in any way? Besides the job losses and the state budgets all underwater?
In the meantime, the People of Pakistan have been hit with the worse flooding ever. Can you imagine what it is like to have whole villages washed away, all livestock gone, all crops gone? Many will die due to the lack of food and drinking water. And from diseases carried by the contaminated flood waters. Send a few bucks to the Red Cross or Red Crescent if you can.
And the United States still uses Assassination Drones to hit targets in Pakistan. Today. Read it here.
We’re off to visit relatives and relax. We wish the People of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (Somalia, Yemen, and many other places) could go on a vacation and not have war around them. It is time to End the Wars. We are accomplishing nothing except making more “terrorists”.
What are we fighting for? What are we using our treasure and our young soldiers for? How many are suffering because we are present in Central Asia? From our friends at “Voters for Peace”, here’s two good articles from them today. read it in full, click here.
Substitute “Afghanistan” for Viet Nam, and substitute “Commies” for “Taliban”, and if we had a DRAFT, this war would be over. Country Joe and the Fish at Woodstock says it all:
Opposition to Afghanistan conflict not just a liberal issue anymore
North Carolina Senate candidate Elaine Marshall (D) opposed the surge of troops to Afghanistan and wants American forces to withdraw from the country in an orderly fashion.
“We’re spending billions to train a corrupt police force there, and here at home we’re laying off policemen and firefighters,” she said in a statement. “We’re hiring teachers over there, and here we’re sending teachers to the unemployment lines. If there’s a country we need to rebuild, it’s America.”
Liberal Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who faces a tough reelection fight, has been outspoken about a timetable for Afghanistan. He reiterated that stance Thursday.
“Rather than send more troops to Afghanistan, where there is no military solution, the president should lay out a timetable for ending our military involvement there so we are better able to combat al Qaeda’s global network without needlessly risking American lives and spending dollars we don’t have,” he said in a statement.
Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose war in Afghanistan
by GLEN JOHNSON
Associated Press Read the full story, click here.
LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
With just over 10 weeks before nationwide elections that could define the remainder of Obama’s first term, only 38 percent say they support his expanded war effort in Afghanistan – a drop from 46 percent in March. Just 19 percent expect the situation to improve during the next year, while 29 percent think it will get worse. Some 49 percent think it will remain the same.