Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Say No 2 War (from the Iraq era, but it’s good now and always)

30 Aug



A Phony Hero for a Phony War – NYTimes.com

16 Nov

The genius of General Petraeus was to recognize early on that the war he had been sent to fight in Iraq wasn’t a real war at all. This is what the public and the news media — lamenting the fall of the brilliant hero undone by a tawdry affair — have failed to see. He wasn’t the military magician portrayed in the press; he was a self-constructed hologram, emitting an aura of preening heroism for the ever eager cameras.

I spent part of the fall of 2003 with General Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division in and around Mosul, Iraq. One of the first questions I asked him was what his orders had been. Was he ordered to “take Mosul,” I asked. No answer. How about “Find Mosul and report back”? No answer. Finally I asked him if his orders were something along the lines of “Go to Mosul!” He gave me an almost imperceptible nod. It must have been the first time an American combat infantry division had been ordered into battle so casually.

via A Phony Hero for a Phony War – NYTimes.com.

War in Afghanistan Claims 2,000th American Life – NYTimes.com

22 Aug

2000 UNNECESSARY deaths.

Nearly nine years passed before American forces reached their first 1,000 dead in the war. The second 1,000 came just 27 months later, a testament to the intensity of fighting prompted by President Obama’s decision to send 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2010, a policy known as the surge.

via War in Afghanistan Claims 2,000th American Life – NYTimes.com.

For Lawyer in Afghan Killings, the Latest in a Series of Challenging Defenses – NYTimes.com

25 Mar

Legendary defense attorney, John Henry Browne, agrees to defend Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, charged with 17 counts of murder in Afghanistan.

“People understand that we have created these soldiers,” Mr. Browne said in an interview. “Your tax dollars, my tax dollars are funding this. We all have responsibility there. That’s why the government wants to paint him as a rogue soldier, because the government doesn’t want to take responsibility. I’m not sure if this is a good metaphor, but in the Frankenstein movies, Frankenstein was not the monster. The monster was Dr. Frankenstein, who created Frankenstein.”

“We’re putting these young men and women in impossible situations,” he continued. “I think the general public knows that, and I think this has brought to the public attention a dialogue about the war that the government would rather not have.”

via For Lawyer in Afghan Killings, the Latest in a Series of Challenging Defenses – NYTimes.com.

Obama’s Afghanistan Disaster – James Kitfield – International – The Atlantic

23 Mar

“War is hell” is no mere clilche.

The U.S. military’s inadvertent burning of Korans in Afghanistan triggered a backlash that left almost 40 dead, including six American service members, culminating in this week’s horrific killing of 16 Afghan civilians–allegedly by a U.S. soldier. These events may or may not represent a milestone in the Afghan war. Having stared into the abyss of the recent riots over the Koran burnings, both governments have stepped back and attempted to calm matters. What already seems clear, however, is that real life is defying the Obama administration’s determined portrayal of a war that is winding down toward a negotiated settlement and a relatively smooth transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2013.

via Obama’s Afghanistan Disaster – James Kitfield – International – The Atlantic.

Meanwhile, suicides are on the rise in the US military:

From 1977 to 2003, suicide rates in the Army closely matched the rates of suicide in the civilian population, and were even on a downward trend. But after 2004, the rates began to climb fast, outpacing the rates in civilians by 2008.

In 2007 and 2008 alone, 255 active duty soldiers committed suicide. The vast majority of the suicides since 2004 were by men; and 69 percent had seen active combat duty. Nearly half were between ages 18 and 24. And 54 percent of those who committed suicide were from among the lower ranks of enlisted personnel.

The modern war canon – The Browser – Salon.com

13 Mar

After the  war in Vietnam we said, never again. Now we’re in Afghanistan, making the same fundamental mistake.

One of the reasons I have chosen Halberstam is because I think it applies today to what the Western powers are trying to do in Afghanistan. There are so many parallel structures – the massive application of firepower and not much understanding of the people. To the Afghans, we tend to be just another foreign invader, however well-intentioned. Which is why, like Vietnam, I think it’s an unwinnable war.

We need to get out of Afghanistan, now, and STOP trying to remake the world by war, one or two nations at a time.

via The modern war canon – The Browser – Salon.com.

Truth, lies and Afghanistan – February 2012 – Armed Forces Journal – Military Strategy, Global Defense Strategy

9 Feb

A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that public statements made by U.S. and ISAF leaders at the end of 2010 were “sharply divergent from IMF, [international military forces, NGO-speak for ISAF] ‘strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”

The following month, Anthony Cordesman, on behalf of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that ISAF and the U.S. leadership failed to report accurately on the reality of the situation in Afghanistan.

“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote. “They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”

via Truth, lies and Afghanistan – February 2012 – Armed Forces Journal – Military Strategy, Global Defense Strategy.

Army Colonel Challenges Pentagon’s Afghanistan Reports – NYTimes.com

6 Feb

If the official reaction to Colonel Davis’s campaign has been subdued, it may be partly because he has recruited a few supporters among the war skeptics on Capitol Hill.

“For Colonel Davis to go out on a limb and help us to understand what’s happening on the ground, I have the greatest admiration for him,” said Representative Walter B. Jones, Republican of North Carolina, who has met with Colonel Davis twice and read his reports.

Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, one of four senators who met with Colonel Davis despite what he called “a lot of resistance from the Pentagon,” said the colonel was a valuable witness because his extensive travels and midlevel rank gave him access to a wide range of soldiers.

Moreover, Colonel Davis’s doubts about reports of progress in the war are widely shared, if not usually voiced in public by officers on duty.

via Army Colonel Challenges Pentagon’s Afghanistan Reports – NYTimes.com.