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Karzai meets Chinese FM in Kabul

BRICS Post | February 23, 2014

Kabul’s China-policy will not alter, irrespective of the political situation, said Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday.

Karzai was hosting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Wang said he made the visit in the crucial year of Afghanistan’s transition to underscore the importance of bilateral ties.

“We hope to see a broad-based and inclusive political reconciliation in Afghanistan as soon as possible, and China will play a constructive role to facilitate that,” he said.

“China firmly supports Afghanistan to realize a smooth transition and hopes Afghanistan’s general election will go ahead smoothly as scheduled. China is willing to keep close communication with Afghanistan and work hard to facilitate Afghanistan’s political reconciliation,” he added.

The Afghan government is trying to reassure foreign investors its economy will not sink following the NATO withdrawal. In their meeting on the sidelines of the Sochi opening in Russia earlier this year, Karzai asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to aid the restructuring of the war-torn nation.

During his visit Wang announced China will increase aid to help infrastructure projects, including the construction of school buildings in Kabul University, offering farm machinery and training classes to Afghan technicians.

“The Chinese government encourages and supports capable Chinese enterprises to invest in Afghanistan to strengthen cooperation with the Afghanistan side in trade, energy and other fields,” said Wang.

In 2007, Chinese mining companies announced the single biggest foreign investment in Afghanistan, a whopping $4 billion into developing a copper mine.

Mineral reserves in the country, including copper, gold, iron ore and rare earths, are estimated to be worth $1 trillion.

In a separate meeting with Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Karzai’s national security advisor, Wang stressed on security cooperation even as the Chinese government battles insurgency in the restive region of Xinjiang.

China lauded Afghanistan’s efforts to crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and other terrorist forces.

“China hopes both sides would continue strengthening such cooperation,” said Wang.

Spanta said as a good neighbor of China, Afghanistan will keep its policy to cooperate with China to fight the “three evil forces, ” including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s war on terror.

February 23, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Karzai sees ‘no good’ with US presence in Afghanistan

Press TV – February 3, 2014

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he has seen “no good” with the presence of American forces in his country, prompting further speculations of a breakdown of trust between Kabul and Washington.

“This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people,” Karzai said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Karzai also said that he has not spoken to US President Barack Obama since June last year, which may show the increasing gulf between Afghanistan and the US.

“We met in South Africa but didn’t speak. Letters have been exchanged,” he said, referring to the funeral ceremony for South African anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

The differences between the two sides have grown increasingly since Karzai refused to sign a security pact with Washington that would allow thousands of foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014.

“The money they should have paid to the police they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery,” Karzai said.

The Afghan president also went on to say that the US-led forces “then began systematically waging psychological warfare on our people, encouraging our money to go out of our country.”

“What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger,” he said.

“In general, the US-led NATO mission in terms of bringing security has not been successful, particularly in Helmand,” Karzai said.

He also dismissed concerns about the cutting of Western financial aid to Afghanistan over his refusal to sign the security deal.

“Money is not everything,” he said, adding, “If you ask me as an individual, I would rather live in poverty than uncertainty.”

On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed deep frustration with Karzai over the prolongation of the review process for the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US.

The Pentagon chief, however, stated that Karzai is the elected president of a sovereign country, and Washington’s ability to influence his decisions is limited.

Karzai says he will not sign the BSA until certain conditions are met, including a guarantee from Washington that there will be no more raids on Afghan houses. He says the demands come from the country’s highest decision-making body, the Loya Jirga.

In his speech at the Loya Jirga on November 24, 2013, Karzai said, “If US military forces conduct military operations on Afghan homes even one more time, then there will be no BSA and we won’t sign it.”

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 12 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Excited About Another Decade in Afghanistan?

By David Swanson | FDL | December 12, 2013

With 196 nations in the world and U.S. troops already in at least 177 of them, there aren’t all that many available to make war against. Yet it looks like both Syria and Iran will be spared any major Western assault for the moment. Could this become a trend? Is peace on the horizon? Are celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s nonviolence sincere?

The glitch in this optimistic little photo-shopped storyline starts with an A and rhymes with Shmafghanistan.

The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible” for years now. We’re spending $10 million per hour, and $81 billion in the new annual budget, on an operation that many top officials and experts have said generates hostility toward our country. The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this operation is suicide.

And now, at long last, we have an important (and usually quite corrupt) politician on our side, responding to public pressure and ready — after 12 years — to shut down Operation Enduring … and Enduring and Enduring.

Oddly, this politician’s name is not President Barack Obama. When Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later. Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s. Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”

Sadly, the politician who has taken our side is not in Washington at all. There are a few Congress Members asking for a vote, but most of their colleagues are silent. When Congress faced the question of missiles into Syria, and the question was front-and-center on our televisions, the public spoke clearly. Members of both parties, in both houses of Congress, said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before.

But on the question of another decade “and beyond” in Afghanistan, the question has not been presented to Congress or the public, and we haven’t yet found the strength to raise it ourselves. Yet someone has managed to place himself on our side, namely Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Like the Iraqi government before him, Karzai is refusing to agree to an ongoing occupation with U.S. forces immune from prosecution under Afghan laws. Before signing off on an ongoing military presence, Karzai says he would like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people’s doors at night. He’d like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations. He’d like Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo. (Of the 17 still there, 4 have long since been cleared for release but not released; none has been convicted of any crime.) And he’d like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections.

Whatever we think of Karzai’s legacy — my own appraisal is unprintable — these are remarkably reasonable demands. And at least as far as U.S. public opinion goes, here at long last is a post-invasion ruler actually engaged in spreading democracy.

What about the Afghans? Should we “abandon” them? We told pollsters we wanted to send aid to Syria, not missiles. Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan — or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country — would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations (51.4% of the new federal budget), and could quite easily make us the most beloved nation on earth. I bet we’d favor that course of action if we were asked — or if we manage to both raise the question and answer it.

December 14, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

10 More Years in Afghanistan

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | November 25, 2013

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later.  Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s.  Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign the deal. Here is his list of concerns. He’d like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people’s doors at night.  He’d like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations.  He’d like innocent Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo.  And he’d like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections.  Whatever we think of Karzai’s legacy — my own appraisal is unprintable — these are perfectly reasonable demands.

Iran and Pakistan oppose keeping nine major U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, some of them on the borders of their nations, until the end of time.  U.S. officials threaten war on Iran with great regularity, the new agreement notwithstanding.  U.S. missiles already  hit Pakistan in a steady stream.  These two nations’ concerns seem as reasonable as Karzai’s.

The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible” for years and years.  We’re spending $10 million per hour making ourselves less safe and more hated.  The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this mad operation is suicide.

When the U.S. troops left Iraq, it remained a living hell, as Libya is now too.  But the disaster that Iraq is does not approach what it was during the occupation.  Much less has Iraq grown dramatically worse post-occupation, as we were warned for years by those advocating continued warfare.

Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan — or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country — would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations, and would make us the most beloved nation on earth.  I bet we’d favor that course if asked.  We were asked on Syria, and we told pollsters we favored aid, not missiles.

We stopped the missiles.  Congress members in both houses and parties said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before.  But we didn’t stop the guns that we opposed even more than the missiles in polls.  The CIA shipped the guns to the fighters without asking us or the Congress.  And Syrians didn’t get the aid that we favored.

We aren’t asked about the drone strikes.  We aren’t asked about most military operations.  And we aren’t being asked about Afghanistan.  Nor is Congress asserting its power to decide.  This state of affairs suggests that we haven’t learned our lesson from the Syrian Missile Crisis.  Fewer than one percent of us flooded Congress and the media with our voices, and we had a tremendous impact.  The lesson we should learn is that we can do that again and again with each new war proposal.

What if two percent of us called, emailed, visited, protested, rallied, spoke-out, educated, and non-violently resisted 10 more years in Afghanistan?  We’d have invented a new disease.  They’d replace the Vietnam Syndrome with the Afghanistan Syndrome.  Politicians would conclude that the U.S. public was just not going to stand for any more wars.  Only reluctantly would they try to sneak the next one past us.

Or we could sit back and keep quiet while a Nobel Peace Prize winner drags a war he’s “ending” out for another decade, establishing that there’s very little in the way of warmaking outrages that we won’t allow them to roll right over us.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Karzai: Security deal with US should be signed after Afghan presidential poll

RT | November 21, 2013

The Afghan President says he will not sign a crucial security pact with the US till after presidential elections next year. Hamid Karzai backs the deal, but does not trust the US.

“The agreement should be signed when the election is conducted, properly and with dignity,” Karzai told the Loya Jirga grand assembly that began on Thursday.

The unexpected statement comes just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said the two sides had finalized the wording of the agreement.

Karzai said that his deferment would show America’s assurance “that we are moving on the path to security and they are accompanying us on this path.”

A spokesman for the United States Embassy in Kabul declined to comment on Karzai’s plan as it was an on-going diplomatic discussion.

President Karzai told the gathering in Kabul that President Barack Obama had sent a letter assuring him that a security pact between the two states was in Afghanistan’s best interest.

The five-day long 2,500-member national consultative council is set to debate the draft and decide whether US troops will be permitted to stay in the country post-2014.

The deal indicates that up to 15,000 US troops could remain in the country until 2024. But both sides still want final details to be clarified.

One of the main stumbling blocks in reaching the bilateral security agreement was the legal status of American troops on the ground.

On Wednesday the Afghan foreign ministry released a draft security deal, which said that US forces remaining in Afghanistan after 2014 will be under the jurisdiction of the US and not be subject to Afghan courts.

The Loya Jirga’s decision on the 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is expected by Sunday.

The council can revise or reject any part of the draft agreement. After Loya Jirga amendments, the Afghan parliament is set to review the agreement and also make more changes before it is approved.

Despite his statement, Afghanistan’s President said he backs a security deal with the US, but at the same time he acknowledged there was little trust between the two sides.

“My trust with America is not good. I don’t trust them and they don’t trust me,” Karzai said. “During the past 10 years I have fought with them and they have made propaganda against me.”

Karzai’s decision, which came as a surprise even for the closest of the President’s aides, means that the long-debated deal will not be signed before April 5, the day when the presidential election is scheduled.

“This may be misconstrued as if the president wants someone specific [to win] in the elections,” Hedayat Amin Arsala, Karzai’s former vice president, said according to The Wall Street Journal. “I hope that is not the case.”

The US had wanted the agreement signed by the end of October 2013 as it would give military planners time to prepare to keep troops in the country after the scheduled 2014 withdrawal.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan party slams US permanent military base plan

Press TV – June 27, 2013

The Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Party has strongly condemned the United States for planning to set up permanent military bases in the war-ravaged country beyond 2014.

Mohammad Mukhtar Mufleh, the party’s leader, released a statement on Thursday warning that things will get worse should the US sets up its bases in Afghanistan,

He also heaped scorn on the US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since invading the country in 2001.

Thousands of Afghan civilians, including a large number women and children, have been killed during night raids by foreign forces and CIA-run assassination drone strikes.

The increasing number of casualties in Afghanistan has caused widespread anger against the US and other NATO member states, undermining public support for the Afghan war.

Civilian casualties have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and US-led foreign forces, and have dramatically increased anti-US sentiments in Afghanistan.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 11 years, insecurity remains across the country.

In May, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his government was ready to let the US set up nine bases across Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

However, the Afghan government recently sought explanation from Washington about the ongoing US-led controversial peace talks with the Taliban militants in Qatar,

The Kabul government has also suspended strategic talks with Washington to discuss the nature of US presence after beyond 2014.

President Karzai has announced that his government will not join any US negotiations with the Taliban unless the talks are led by the Afghans.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

US officials arrive in Qatar for peace talks with Taliban

Press TV – June 22, 2013

The US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan has arrived in Qatari capital city of Doha to hold controversial peace talks with the Taliban militants.

James Dobbins, the US envoy in charge of nascent dialogue with the group, arrived in Doha on Saturday after the militants opened an office in the Persian Gulf Arab monarchy.

The US officials said Dobbins will also take part in meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari leaders scheduled for later Saturday. The discussions will lay the ground for a full-scale dialogue with the militant group.

President Barack Obama’s administration has supported peace talks with the Taliban after the US-led forces lost ground against the militants in recent months across Afghanistan.

Senior Pakistani officials have welcomed the dialogue between Taliban and the United States in Doha, but the Afghan government has expressed serious concerns about the ongoing US-led peace process with Taliban militants in Qatar.

On Thursday, Afghan Foreign Ministry released a statement expressing Kabul’s anger and frustration at the opening of Taliban office in Qatar.

“The manner in which the office was established was in clear breach of the principles and terms of references agreed with us by the US government,” the statement read.

Senior officials in Kabul say the move contradicts the US security guarantees, noting that the Taliban militants will be able to use the office to raise funds for their campaign in Afghanistan.

The Kabul government has suspended strategic talks with Washington to discuss the nature of US presence after foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

President Hamid Karzai has also announced that his government will not join any US negotiations with the Taliban unless the talks are led by the Afghans.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council stated that none of its members will travel to Qatar to sit at talks with the Taliban.

The council has been making efforts to initiate dialogue with discontented Afghans and militants who have engaged in warfare with the US-led forces and Kabul’s Western-backed government.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 11 years, insecurity remains across the country.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Body of tortured Afghan unearthed near former US Special Forces base – report

RT | May 22, 2013

Afghan officials have reportedly found the footless body of a local man who went missing a half-year ago. The corpse was unearthed near the former A-Team US Special Forces base – where detainees were tortured and killed, locals claim.

Authorities alleged that the grisly discovery is directly connected to Zakaria Kandahari, a notorious wartime collaborator who Afghan officials believe has US citizenship.

Kandahari reportedly led a death squad that terrorized locals in Wardak Province, using the A-Team base in Nerkh District, a one-hour drive from Kabul, as a permanent residence.

The mutilated body was discovered by ditch diggers about 200 yards from the perimeter of Nerkh base in Wardak Province, the New York Times reported. The base was previously occupied by the A-Team US Special Forces unit, which withdrew in March. Rhe Nerkh base compound is currently occupied by Afghan Special Forces.

According to district governor Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, the corpse was found packed in a military-style black body bag. The victim was identified as Sayid Mohammad, a local resident who was allegedly seen being taken to an US base in November 2012.

This is not the first time that the partial remains and clothing of a missing person have been found near Nerkh base, Afghan officials said. A dismembered body was previously found in a garbage container just outside the US base.

An anonymous Afghan investigator for the Defense Ministry told the NYT that he has a list of names of 17 people who went missing in Nerkh District in Wardak Province between November and December 2012, when Kandahari’s squad conducted operations such as detaining suspects and bringing them to the US Special Forces base.

The seized persons were reportedly never seen alive again. Nine of their bodies, including that of Sayid Mohammad, were found; the other eight remain missing.

The torture squad

The recently unearthed victim was the same man previously seen in a classified video recording made last year. US officials familiar with the matter said it depicts Mohammad being repeatedly kicked by the chief interpreter at the Nerkh base – Kandahari.

Kandahari is on Afghanistan’s most-wanted list for prisoner abuse, torture and murder. Kabul claimed the US sheltered Kandahari; the US Army has denied the accusations.

The US Army has not denied that Kandahari was previously on their payroll, but maintains that the torture video was made after he parted with the A-Team to operate a rogue Afghan unit, and that he is not a US citizen. The US Military described Kandahari as a “freelance interpreter” who joined the American Special Forces voluntarily and lived at their base out of gratitude.

Over the past year, Kandahari and his henchmen have been seen throughout Wardak Province wearing NATO uniforms while riding on quad bikes in search of alleged insurgents.

Precious hangman

Last March, hundreds of Afghans – watched by a considerable number of armed riot police – marched to parliament in Kabul, demanding the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Wardak Province. The demonstrators were infuriated by reports of civilians being tortured and killed; Kandahari’s name first went public amid these demonstrations.

APTN video still

APTN video still

Following the protests, Afghan authorities demanded the US deliver the alleged criminal to Kabul. The US refused to turn over Kandahari to Afghan authorities.

US Military authorities claimed that Kandahari had escaped, and that they knew nothing about his whereabouts. In response, an infuriated President Hamid Karzai demanded that the US Special Operations forces leave Wardak. A compromise was later reached, and only the infamous A-Team base was removed.

An unidentified Afghan investigator told the New York Times that “there is no question” that Kandahari was directly involved in torture and murder, but asks, “Who recruited him, gave him his salary, his weapons? Who kept him under their protection?”

The official also expressed doubts that Kandahari could have left the base on his own, since “He was such a criminal that he could not stay one hour outside the base by himself.”

US Military officials reported that they conducted thorough investigations into the disappearances and murders “of at least 15 people” in Wardak Province, none of which revealed evidence that American soldiers were involved in such crimes. However, the results of these investigations have not been made public.

The treatment of Afghans by US troops and their collaborators has been a perpetual stumbling block for US-Afghan relations; the ‘steal and kill’ case of Kandahari could well be the final straw in the 11-plus years of the Afghan War.

‘Afghan govt can’t be trusted, pursuing own interest in any situation’

The governments in both Washington and Kabul should be answerable to the Afghan people over the alleged torture, believes Daoud Sultanzoy, political analyst and former Afghan MP. He described the incident involving the mutilated body of a man as “gruesome.”

However, “the history behind this that goes as far as back to 2002 or even late 2001,” he told RT. At that time, the “then Interior Minister of the Afghan interim government was keeping a private prison run by a former special forces guy, working as a freelancer for the minister.”

There is more than one side to all these stories and they have to be investigated,” believes Sultanzoy.

Human rights organizations are staying pretty quiet on all this, which is “very suspicious.”

The Afghan government though is taking advantage of the situation, pursuing their own interests, the analyst stated. Therefore, their position on the issue “cannot be trusted,” he believes.

We have to rely on independent sources. The Afghan justice system has to be so reliable that they can do an investigation independent from any political influence and the influence of the military as well,” Sultanzoy pointed out.

The US military has to show it is transparent at least in cases of human rights abuses,” the expert added. They will eventually have to act and provide answers to questions regarding the allegations of torture, he concluded.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

CIA: An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | May 20, 2013

There’s a contradiction built into every campaign promise about transparent government beyond the failure to keep the promises.  Our government is, in significant portion, made up of secret operations, operations that include war-making, kidnapping, torture, assassination, and infiltrating and overthrowing governments.  A growing movement is ready to see that end.

The Central Intelligence Agency is central to our foreign policy, but there is nothing intelligent about it, and there is no good news to be found regarding it.  Its drone wars are humanitarian and strategic disasters.  The piles of cash it keeps delivering to Hamid Karzai fuel corruption, not democracy.  Whose idea was it that secret piles of cash could create democracy? (Nobody’s, of course, democracy being the furthest thing from U.S. goals.)  Lavishing money on potential Russian spies and getting caught helps no one, and not getting caught would have helped no one.  Even scandals that avoid mentioning the CIA, like Benghazigate, are CIA blowback and worse than we’re being told.

We’ve moved from the war on Iraq, about which the CIA lied, and its accompanying atrocities serving as the primary recruiting tool for anti-U.S. terrorists, to the drone wars filling that role.  We’ve moved from kidnapping and torture to kidnapping and torture under a president who, we like to fantasize, doesn’t really mean it.  But the slave-owners who founded this country knew very well what virtually anyone would do if you gave them power, and framed the Constitution so as not to give presidents powers like these.

There are shelves full in your local bookstore of books pointing out the CIA’s outrageous incompetence.  The brilliant idea to give Iran plans for a nuclear bomb in order to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear bomb is one of my favorites.

But books that examine the illegality, immorality, and anti-democratic nature of even what the CIA so ham-handedly intends to do are rarer.  A new book called Dirty Wars, also coming out as a film in June, does a superb job.  I wrote a review a while back.  Another book, decades old now, might be re-titled “Dirty Wars The Prequel.”  I’m thinking of Douglas Valentine’s The Phoenix Program.

It you read The Phoenix Program about our (the CIA’s and “special” forces’) secret crimes in Eastern Asia and Dirty Wars about our secret crimes in Western Asia, and remember that similar efforts were focused on making life hell for millions of people in Latin America in between these twin catastrophes, and that some of those running Phoenix were brought away from similar sadistic pursuits in the Philippines, it becomes hard to play along with the continual pretense that each uncovered outrage is an aberration, that the ongoing focus of our government’s foreign policy “isn’t who we are.”

Targeted murders with knives in Vietnam were justified with the same rhetoric that now justifies drone murders.  The similarities include the failure of primary goals, the counterproductive blowback results, the breeding of corruption abroad and at home, the moral and political degradation, the erosion of democratic ways of thinking, and — of course — the racist arrogance and cultural ignorance that shape the programs and blind their participants to what they are engaged in.  The primary difference between Phoenix and drone kills is that the drones don’t suffer PTSD.  The same, however, cannot be said for the drone pilots.

“The problem,” wrote Valentine, “was one of using means which were antithetical to the desired end, of denying due process in order to create a democracy, of using terror and repression to foster freedom.  When put into practice by soldiers taught to think in conventional military and moral terms, Contre Coup engendered transgressions on a massive scale.  However, for those pressing the attack on VCI, the bloodbath was constructive, for indiscriminate air raids and artillery barrages obscured the shadow war being fought in urban back alleys and anonymous rural hamlets.  The military shield allowed a CIA officer to sit behind a steel door in a room in the U.S. Embassy, insulated from human concern, skimming the Phoenix blacklist, selecting targets for assassination, distilling power from tragedy.”

At some point, enough of us will recognize that government conducted behind a steel door can lead only to ever greater tragedy.

In an email that Valentine wrote for RootsAction.org on Monday, he wrote: “Through its bottomless black bag of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA spreads corruption around the world.  This corruption undermines our own government and public officials.  And the drone killings of innocent men, women, and children generate fierce resentment.. . .Tell your representative and senators right now that the CIA is the antithesis of democracy and needs to be abolished.

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US military plans to keep 8,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014

Press TV – February 12, 2013

The US Defense Department is pushing for a compromise plan to maintain nearly 8,000 American troops in Afghanistan after the scheduled 2014 drawdown of US-led forces in the war-torn nation.

The plan further intends to significantly reduce American troop presence in Afghanistan over the following two years after the “phased” drawdown scheme, calling for slashing the number of troops in the country to between 3,500 and 6,000 by 2016, The Washington Post reports, citing senior US government and military authorities.

The plan, according to the report, represents a bid to “strike a compromise” between senior Pentagon commanders, who called for 10,000 US soldiers to remain in the country after 2014, and several top civilian advisers to President Barack Obama, who have advocated a much smaller long-term troop presence.

Another option under serious consideration called for even greater reduction of US troops in the country to below 1,000 by early 2017, “with most of the personnel operating from the giant US Embassy in Kabul.”

Under the option, according to senior military authorities cited in the report, elite Special Operations commandos would not be based in Afghanistan after 2016. Instead, they would be flown into the country from US warships in the area or bases in nearby countries “to conduct counterterrorism missions.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, has expressed his support for a continued US military presence in his country although the decision “and the provision of immunity to American forces” may require the approval of the nation’s legislators.

Nearly 66,000 US soldiers are currently deployed in Afghanistan, but the Obama administration is expected to announce soon the number of troops that will be brought back this year as part of its phased drawdown approach.

February 12, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan: U.S. out, China surges in

By Barry Lando | September 27, 2012

There’s got to be some symbolism—if not irony–in the fact that just as the last of the 33,000 troops surged by Obama two years ago supposedly to pacify Afghanistan pulled out, the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Afghanistan in almost half a century pulled in—arriving in Kabul for a secret round of meetings with top Afghan officials.

Question: How will China deal with the country that proved such an expensive and bloody disaster for both the U.S., its NATO allies–and the U.S.S.R before them?

In a brief visit, unreported until he had left Kabul,  Zhou Younkang, China’s chief of domestic security, met with Afghani leaders, including President Hamid Karzai. They talked about drugs, international crime, terrorism, and developing Afghanistan’s huge natural resources—just as visiting Americans have done for years.

The result, a cluster of agreements, among them an announcement that 300 Afghan police officers will be sent to China for training over the next four years.

Which is another irony of sorts—coming at the same time as news that the U.S. and its allies have been obliged to scale back joint operations with the Afghan military and police, because they can no longer trust the men they’ve trained. American troops in the field with their Afghan allies now keep weapons ready and wear body armor even when they’re eating goat meat and yoghurt.

So far this year 51 American and NATO troops have been gunned down by Afghan military or police:  a startling 20% of all NATO casualties this year.

The off-the-wall video from California ridiculing the prophet Mohammed has only further fueled anti-American hatred.

As the New York Times quoted one 20 year old Afghan soldier, NATO casualties could even be higher.

“We would have killed many of them already,” he said, “but our commanders are cowards and don’t let us.”

There are still some 68,000 American troops based in Afghanistan, but the plans are for them all to be out by the end of 2014. Which means that China will be confronting serious security problems of its own in Afghanistan. They already have direct investments of more than $200 million in copper mining and oil exploration, and have promised to build a major railroad east to Pakistan or north to Turkestan.

But they could pour in billions more if Afghanistan were a secure, well-ordered country, free from the Taliban, free from kleptocratic war lords and venal government bureaucrats, patrolled by well-trained Afghan soldiers and police:  in other words, exactly the kind of country the U.S. would like to have left behind—and didn’t.

Instead, of course, despite America’s huge sacrifice in men and treasure –more than half a trillion dollars since 2001–things haven’t worked out that way.  [For a dramatic, running count of the enormous hemorrhage that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still represent to the U.S. economy check out costofwar.com.]

Meanwhile, corruption is rampant, and it’s by no means certain that Afghanistan has—or ever will have–a national army and police force worthy of the name.

The U.S. Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, peered into the Pentagon’ s 1.1 billion dollars fuel program to supply the Afghan Army, and concluded that there was no way to be ascertain how much if any of that fuel is really being used by Afghan security forces for their missions. There was also no way to know how much was stolen, lost or diverted to the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Almost half a billion dollars worth of receipts detailing with fuel payments over the past four years have been shredded.

With the Americans heading for the exits, the challenge facing the Chinese—and anyone else, like India–interested in investing in the country–is how to navigate this imbroglio.

Indeed, the Chinese have apparently already run into problems in Afghanistan. Work at the Mes Aynak copper mine in Logar Province is already behind schedule, and no work has begun on the promised Chinese-built railroad yet. Various impediments have turned up, like recalcitrant bureaucrats, tensions provoked by the need to displace local populations, the discovery of Buddhist ruins, as well as ramshackle Soviet-era mines that first had to be cleared.

And then there’s the rival, rapacious warlords, who see the country’s resources as a way of fueling their own ambitions—like General Abdul Rashid Dotsum, who the government has accused of attempting to extort illegal payoffs from the Chinese oil company.

However, in their dealings throughout the developing world, from despots to democracies, the Chinese have shown themselves adept at navigating such quagmires. There’s no talk from Beijing of Chinese “exceptionalism”. They’ve been taking on the world as it is—not as someone in a Chinese think tank would want to remake it.

They’ve generally turned a blind eye to considerations of human rights, opted to pay off or work with the powers that be, and used offers of huge new infrastructure projects as bait, steadily increasing their share of the globe’s resources.

Many potential investors still shy away from Afghanistan. They have no idea what lies on the other side of the political abyss after 2014 when the U.S. completes its withdrawal.

China is also wary, but they’re also seriously planning their Afghan strategy for the post-American future.

As Wang Lian, a professor with the School of International Studies at the Paking University in Beijing, put it,  ”Almost every great power in history, when they were rising, was deeply involved in Afghanistan, and China will not be an exception.”

Unmentioned, of course, was what an unmitigated disaster that involvement turned out to be for the USSR, the US–and Afghanistan.

We’ll see how China fares.

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Iran: Afghan pact with US will only increase violence

Al Akhbar | May 6, 2012

Iran’s foreign ministry on Sunday denounced a new strategic pact signed between Afghanistan and the United States, saying it would give rise to instability in the neighboring country.

“Iran is concerned about the strategic pact signed between Afghanistan and the US,” ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

“Not only will the strategic pact not resolve Afghanistan’s security problems, but it will intensify insecurity and instability in Afghanistan,” he said.

His remarks came after US President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a deal with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, guaranteeing that occupying US forces will remain in the country after the majority withdraw in 2014.

However the deal, reached after months of painstaking negotiations, states that the US does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan as it has in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.

Mehmanparast said on Sunday the solution to establishing security in Afghanistan was for foreign forces to leave.

He also said the pact was a source of “concern” for Iran as “the status of US military bases in Afghanistan is unclear and the security duties of US forces lack transparency.”

Iran regularly criticizes the presence of Western forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the Arab Gulf countries, calling for their immediate departure.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 1 Comment