Thursday 21st of October 2021

exit strategy...

obama war cabinet


U.S. President Barack Obama has held another high-level strategy session on Afghanistan, as he reviews the U.S. approach to the war there and considers whether to send more troops.

President Obama met Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House. One day earlier -- on the eighth anniversary of the war, the president met with his senior military and political advisers for a review that focused on Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, a key component of Mr. Obama's strategy.

U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have risen sharply in recent months amid more aggressive operations against the Taliban and other militant groups. Opinion polls show the war is steadily losing support among the American public.


Hello,? Dubya?...

The call wouldn't be for strategic advice — Obama has kept much of the Bush military team in place, and he can hear from them directly. But there's only one other person on the planet who has an understanding of what Obama is going through—the conflicting military advice, the squabbling advisers, the condolence letters to the families. Obama's liberal allies are still cataloging Bush's strategic failures including the neglect in Afghanistan that has made the situation so bad there. They'd cringe at the idea of the president's choice of counsel. But Obama is smart enough to know that you can learn from the mistakes of your predecessors. (That's why he talks to the Clintons about health care reform.)

It was during the inauguration that Obama told Bush that he hoped he'd be able to call on him from time to time.


Obama to Consult Magic 8 Ball for Afghanistan Strategy
WASHINGTON- Amidst growing pressure to declare a comprehensive plan for the war in Afghanistan, President Obama has made an unexpected decision: using a childhood toy to decide what to do with major policies.

The toy, a Magic 8 ball given to him when he was nine, is still usable, the President said in a press conference on Sunday night. "You see," President Obama explained, "you ask the ball a question and shake it like so." The President then shook the ball he had at his podium.

"Uh oh, it says ask again later," the President concluded.

In a press release, the White House detailed how the toy would be used, and how exactly the President came to his decision to use it.


We, cartoonists, have no heart... and we make fun out of the good work the good people try to do in the most difficult situation... But so be it...

So far things are going south...

extra troops...

On the war's front lines
Why Obama needs to send more troops to Afghanistan

By David Ignatius
Friday, October 30, 2009


KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN Here's what you would see if you traveled this week to Kandahar and Helmand provinces, the two big battlegrounds of the Afghanistan war: a conflict that is balanced tenuously between success and failure. The United States has deployed enough troops to disrupt the Taliban insurgency and draw increasing fire, but not enough to secure the major population centers. That's not a viable position.

I visited four U.S. bases in the two provinces this week, traveling with the military. I was able to hear from local commanders and talk with a few Afghans. I'll describe what I learned, positive and negative, so readers can weigh this evidence from the field. Then I'll explain why my conclusion is that President Obama should add some troops.

We began in Kandahar city, at the headquarters of what's known as Regional Command South, which oversees the battle in the two provinces. It's a city on the edge of the desert, surrounded by jagged, slate-gray mountains. Just over the border to the east are the Taliban's supply lines in Pakistan.

America's NATO allies have been running the war in Kandahar province, but they have been badly outgunned. So several months ago, the United States sent an Army brigade of about 4,000 troops with Stryker armored vehicles. That disrupted the Taliban insurgents, but they have responded with more roadside bombs along Highway 1, the main route that connects Kandahar to Afghanistan's other major cities.


If this was the only province where there was problems, one could say: alea jacta est... But the recent attack of UN staff in Kabul is changing the focus... Rarely a day goes by in Kabul without an explosion of sort designed to kill. US troops have lost more than 50 troops this month — including serious accidental deaths — and the allies "control" about 30 per cent of Afghanistan — mostly the cities... The Afghani people are good people. But they are divided as to what to do next.

The brother of the president is on the CIA payroll, and the elections were a sham of cheating. Corruption is often second nature. Rebuilding is so slow it could be going backwards... The many poor and the helpless are not helped. Survival is dire — if one lives past 44 in Afghanistan, one has overtaken life's expectancy there...

Something important needs to be done... Extra troops may not be the solution.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai's election by default Monday confirms at least a week earlier than expected that the Obama administration will continue for the foreseeable future to have the same mercurial partner in Afghanistan.

Karzai was expected to win the Nov. 7 runoff election easily and continue in the role he has held for nearly eight years, just as President Obama enters the final stage of deciding whether to escalate U.S. involvement in the war.

But the departure of Karzai's chief rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, deprives him of a genuine win at the polls and potentially undermines the Obama administration's goal of building a legitimate government in Kabul.

Obama, congressional leaders and the U.S. commander on the ground, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, have made clear that the success of any strategy the White House eventually settles on will depend on the Afghan government's ability to improve its credibility among the people.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama planned to telephone Karzai shortly since the runoff election was called off.

Senior administration officials were encouraged last month when Karzai accepted a second round of voting following the deeply flawed August election. He won that vote with more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, but a U.N.-backed review later determined that nearly a third of his votes were fraudulent.


see toon at top...

fakin' it .....

NATO's operation in Afghanistan has descended into farce.

Gordon Brown & Barack Obama have both congratulated Hamid Karzai - the former Unicol oil man who bushit installed as Afghanistan's ruler in the first place - for winning an election that they themselves have condemned as corrupt.

Neither of these intellectual giants has tried to explain how anyone can 'win' a race in which there is only one competitor.

Talk about 'democracy on the nose' ... what a joke.

digging-in strategy

US President Barack Obama has met his national security team to discuss strategy in Afghanistan as speculation mounts over a decision on troop levels.

White House officials said Mr Obama discussed timeframes for four options presented at the meeting but took no decisions on them.

The president said the US commitment should not be open-ended and governance there must improve, they added.

UK PM Gordon Brown told parliament he expected a decision soon.

"I have spoken to President Obama and I expect him to announce in a few days what his numbers for Afghanistan will be," Mr Brown told British MPs on Wednesday.

Arlington ceremony

Wednesday's closed-door meeting is the eighth in a series aimed at refocusing Afghan policy.

Before heading into the meeting, Gen Petraeus told CNN a decision would be made soon on troop levels.


see toon at top

hell is paved with good intentions...

November 25, 2009
Obama Says He Intends to ‘Finish the Job’ in Afghanistan


WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Tuesday that he will announce his decision on how many more troops to send to Afghanistan next week, and that it is his intention to “finish the job” that began with the overthrow of the Taliban government in the fall of 2001.

Mr. Obama, offering a tantalizing preview of what looms as one of the momentous decisions of his presidency, said he would tell the American people about “a comprehensive strategy” embracing civilian and diplomatic efforts as well as the continuing military campaign.

While he avoided any hints of the new troop levels he foresees in Afghanistan, the president signaled that he will not be talking about a short-term commitment but rather an effort muscular enough to “dismantle and degrade” the enemy and ensure that “Al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate” in the region.

A round of White House meetings on Afghanistan, which concluded on Monday night, included discussions about sending about 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, administration officials said. There are about 68,000 United States troops there now.

The president commented during an appearance at mid-day Tuesday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India after what Mr. Obama called a “detailed discussion” of regional issues with the Indian leader, including Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama said there had been “some progress” in efforts by the Pakistan military to root out extremists. Al Qaeda members are widely believed to travel freely between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


Good luck to him and see toon at top...

the money or the pox...

From the independent

Britain and the US are backing a new strategy to buy off "soft" supporters of the Taliban in a radical attempt to end nine years of war in Afghanistan. The plan, to be approved at a 60-nation conference in London today, comes amid unexpected signs of growing political support for the equally high-risk idea of talks leading to a political settlement with the Taliban leadership.

In a telling move, on Tuesday night the UN Security Council bowed to pressure from the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, to lift sanctions imposed on former officials who served in the Taliban government driven from power by the US-led invasion of 2001.

The multimillion-pound "peace and reintegration" fund would seek to lure low ranking Taliban fighters, who join out of poverty rather than ideology, by giving them jobs, schooling or land for farming. An effective amnesty for these men, now believed to make up 75 per cent of the insurgency's ranks, means that even those who took part in attacks involving the deaths of British or US soldiers would be rehabilitated.


see toon at top

Barack the torturer...

From the Independent

Osama bin Laden's favourite son, Omar, recently abandoned his father's cave in favour of spending his time dancing and drooling in the nightclubs of Damascus. The tang of freedom almost always trumps Islamist fanaticism in the end: three million people abandoned the Puritan hell of Taliban Afghanistan for freer countries, while only a few thousand faith-addled fanatics ever travelled the other way. Osama's vision can't even inspire his own kids. But Omar bin Laden says his father is banking on one thing to shore up his flailing, failing cause – and we are giving it to him.

The day George W Bush was elected, Omar says, "my father was so happy. This is the kind of president he needs – one who will attack and spend money and break [his own] country". Osama wanted the US and Europe to make his story about the world ring true in every mosque and every mountain-top and every souq. He said our countries were bent on looting Muslim countries of their resources, and any talk of civil liberties or democracy was a hypocritical facade. The jihadis I have interviewed – from London to Gaza to Syria – said their ranks swelled with each new whiff of Bushism as more and more were persuaded. It was like trying to extinguish fire with a blowtorch.

The revelations this week about how the CIA and British authorities handed over a suspected jihadi to torturers in Pakistan may sound at first glance like a hangover from the Bush years. Barack Obama was elected, in part, to drag us out of this trap – but in practice he is dragging us further in. He is escalating the war in Afghanistan, and has taken the war to another Muslim country. The CIA and hired mercenaries are now operating on Obama's orders inside Pakistan, where they are sending unarmed drones to drop bombs and sending secret agents to snatch suspects. The casualties are overwhelmingly civilians. We may not have noticed, but the Muslim world has: check out Al Jazeera any night.


see toon at top..

never really worked for CIA or Jordanian intelligence...

CAIRO – An al-Qaida double agent that killed seven CIA operatives and a Jordanian spy called for jihad in Jordan and attacks on its intelligence agency in a posthumous video message posted on extremist Web sites Sunday.

Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi also described Sunday in the 43-minute video his recruitment by Jordanian intelligence and how he double crossed them after they sent him to Afghanistan to spy on al-Qaida.

The video was apparently filmed shortly before the 32-year-old al-Balawi blew himself up at a CIA facility on Dec. 30 in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost where he'd been invited to reveal information on al-Qaida No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Al-Balawi said he only expected to kill his Jordanian handler, Ali bin Zaid, but the addition of the CIA members was a windfall.

"We planned for something but got a bigger gift, a gift from Allah, who brought us, through His accompaniment, a valuable prey: Americans, and from the CIA. That's when I became certain that the best way to teach Jordanian intelligence and the CIA a lesson is with the martyrdom belt," he said in the video.

The secretive eastern Afghan CIA base was reportedly used as a key outpost in the effort to identify and target terror leaders, many of whom were taken out by the drone-fired missile strikes.

It was one of the worst losses for the CIA ever and revealed the cooperation between the American and Jordanian intelligence services.


Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi


After his death his wife Defne Bayrak was interrogated for almost 5 hours by Istanbul Security Directorate (Turkish police).[14][15]. Istanbul Security Directorate denies any CIA involvement [16] Later she gave extensive interviews to Newsweek Turkey and CNN[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] She also complained to The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity of Oppressed People in Turkey about being constantly bothered by reporters. Acorrding to the leaked information the first question asked during the interrogation was how they met each other to which she replied that they met in a chat room on a website that she accesses to learn Arabic. It is also said that CIA officials brought a file, containing information on al-Balawi and questions to ask during interrogation, and gave it to Istanbul Anti-Terror Branch Directorate

Her main point during interviews was that al-Balawi never really worked for CIA or Jordanian intelligence and wasn't their agent and only used them by pretending to work for them. In the interviews al-Balawi comes out as someone who was obsessed about Jihad and felt guilty for not doing anything despite constantly writing on the subject. He was very affected by the occupation of "Islamic lands" by United States. She said that he might wanted to go to the conflict areas before but was unable because Jordanian intelligence strictly controls access of suspicious people to these areas. According to her he wasn't tortured during the 3 day arrest and was given Quran to read but was prohibited from reading it out loud. She says it is probable that it was during interrogation that he convinced the intelligence agencies and gained easy exit to Pakistan. She denies knowing anything about his connection to intelligence services but admits concealing from his parents that he was in Pakistan and not in Turkey.


The Jordanian triple agent behind the December suicide bombing that killed eight CIA agents in Afghanistan claims in a new video that he lured American and Jordanian intelligence officers into a fatal trap by sending them misleading information about terror targets, and videotapes he had made of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA agents and his Jordanian handler in the attack also claims in the posthumous tape that he intended to kidnap only one Jordanian intelligence officer. However the unexpected opportunity to attack a large group of Americans appears to have been too good to resist.

"It wasn't planned this way," al-Balawi says in an undated, 44-minute videotape released on Sunday by as-Sahab, the media arm of al-Qaeda. According to The Washington Post, al-Balawi attributes the change to "the stupidity of Jordanian intelligence and the stupidity of American intelligence" services that invited him to Afghanistan to help set up a strike against al-Qaeda targets.


see whatever toon at top...

repeat business...

Afghan Guards Face an Inquiry Over Ties to Insurgents


MAIDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan — For months, reports have abounded here that the Afghan mercenaries who escort American and other NATO convoys through the badlands have been bribing Taliban insurgents to let them pass.

Then came a series of events last month that suggested all-out collusion with the insurgents.

After a pair of bloody confrontations with Afghan civilians, two of the biggest private security companies — Watan Risk Management and Compass Security — were banned from escorting NATO convoys on the highway between Kabul and Kandahar.

The ban took effect on May 14. At 10:30 a.m. that day, a NATO supply convoy rolling through the area came under attack. An Afghan driver and a soldier were killed, and a truck was overturned and burned. Within two weeks, with more than 1,000 trucks sitting stalled on the highway, the Afghan government granted Watan and Compass permission to resume.

Watan’s president, Rashid Popal, strongly denied any suggestion that his men either colluded with insurgents or orchestrated attacks to emphasize the need for their services. Executives with Compass Security did not respond to questions.

See toon at top.

coordination of insurgency tactics...

New evidence has emerged of strong political and financial links between the Taliban and Pakistan's ISI intelligence service.

A report based on a series of face-to-face interviews with Afghan insurgents, published by the London School of Economics, alleges that the Pakistani government helps the Taliban in strategic decision-making and coordination of insurgency tactics.

The report says the ISI provides Taliban fighters with training, cash and sanctuary as they fight Western troops in Afghanistan.

It also claims that Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari made a secret visit to 50 high-ranking Taliban prisoners in a Pakistani jail earlier this year to arrange their release.

The Pakistani government has dismissed the report as "rubbish".

But author Matt Waldman, a Harvard researcher, says he drew his conclusions from interviews with nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan.

"I think [what is] significant firstly is the scale and extent of the support form Pakistan's intelligence service for the insurgency," he said.

"The interviews suggest the support is extensive and is in a range of areas, including arms and ammunition.

"The interview suggests that it is official ISI policy. This is not the work of just one or two or another small number of rogue individuals or retired officers. The interviews strongly indicate that this is official ISI policy.

a double cross or crossed wires?...

Document leak part of U.S. plot, says Pakistani ex-general with ties to Taliban


By Karin Brulliard
Wednesday, July 28, 2010; A08


RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN -- From the deluge of leaked military documents published Sunday, a former Pakistani spy chief emerged as a chilling personification of his nation's alleged duplicity in the Afghan war -- an erstwhile U.S. ally turned Taliban tutor.

Now planted squarely in the cross hairs, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul seems little short of delighted.

In an interview Tuesday, Gul dismissed the accusations against him as "fiction" and described the documents' release as the start of a White House plot. It will end, he posited, with an early U.S. pullout from Afghanistan -- thus proving Gul, an unabashed advocate of the Afghan insurgency, right.

President Obama "is a very good chess player. . . . He says, 'I don't want to carry the historic blame of having orchestrated the defeat of America, their humiliation in Afghanistan,' " said Gul, 74, adding that the plot incorporates a troop surge that Obama knows will fail. "It doesn't sell to a professional man like me."

That sort of theory makes Gul an incarnation of some of the United States' greatest challenges in dealing with Pakistan, a U.S. ally. Here, prominent figures closely linked to the security establishment not only trumpet what they view as vast American scheming but also, U.S. officials and the leaked documents allege, provide support to Afghan rebels.

Gul did that in an official capacity as head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency from 1987 to 1989, when he helped the CIA funnel Islamist fighters into Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Eloquent and polished, he was viewed by his American partners as pro-Western and moderate, while his Saudi benefactors saw him as a pious, conservative Muslim.

After the Soviet withdrawal, the Saudis' characterization seemed to prevail. Gul continued to support the rebels in a semiofficial capacity, as did other elements of Pakistan's security forces that view the Taliban as a tool for influence in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say.

With the greatest detail yet made public, the leaked documents depict American views of Gul as a murderous terrorist agent. According to some of the documents, he possessed dozens of bombs for Taliban fighters to detonate in Kabul, instructed militants to kidnap United Nations workers, hatched a plan for a suicide bombing in Afghanistan to avenge an insurgent and assured fighters that Pakistan would provide them haven.

The reports are unconfirmed. But they are hardly surprising to those closely following the Afghan war, or to Gul himself. On Monday, he described himself as a "whipping boy" for the United States.

killing "an amazing number of people"...

Leaky Vessels: Wikileaks "Revelations" Will Comfort Warmongers, Confirm Conventional Wisdom

Written by Chris Floyd

"I am shocked -- shocked! -- to find gambling is going on in here" -- Captain Renault at the gaming tables in Casablanca.

The much ballyhooed dump of intelligence and diplomatic files concerning the Afghan War has been trumpeted as some kind of shocking expose, "painting a different picture" than the official version of events -- revelations that are sure to rock the Anglo-American political establishments to their foundations.

The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel were given 92,000 reports by Wikileaks, including thousands of pages of raw "human intelligence" (i.e., uncorroborated claims and gossip from interested parties and anonymous sources pushing a multitude of agendas), and diplomatic notes passed between the promulgators of the occupation in Washington and their factotums "in country" -- reports which you might imagine also purvey a multitude of agendas ... not least the supreme agenda of all officials involved in a dubious enterprise: ass-covering.

Yet these reports are being treated as if they are the "grim truth" behind the shining picture of official propaganda. But what do these stories in the NYT and Guardian actually "reveal"? Let's see:

  • That the occupation forces kill lots of civilians at checkpoints and botched raids, then lie about it afterward.
  • That these killings make Afghans angry and fuel the insurgency.
  • That elements of Pakistani intelligence are involved with some elements of the many resistance groups known collectively (and incorrectly) in the West as the Taliban.
  • That the Americans are using more and more robot drones to kill people.
  • That the Americans are running death squads in Afghanistan aimed at Taliban leaders.
  • That Afghan officials are corrupt, and that Afghan police and military forces are woefully inadequate.

Is there anything in these breathless new recitations that we did not already know? For example, the NYT offers a few short vignettes from the leaked documents concerning botched raids and errant missiles that slaughter civilians. But in almost every case, these have already been extensively reported -- in the Times itself and other mainstream venues -- in much greater detail, with quotes and evidence from the victims and local eyewitnesses, and not just the self-interested, ass-covering perspective of official occupation reports. And the "revelation" that occupation forces are killing "an amazing number of people" who have "never proven to be a threat" at checkpoints was confirmed months ago by no less than Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the erstwhile commander of the whole shebang.

The West can only contain not defeat...

The West can only contain not defeat militant groups such as al-Qaeda, the head of the UK's armed forces has said.

General Sir David Richards, a former Nato commander in Afghanistan, said Islamist militancy would pose a threat to the UK for at least 30 years.

But he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper a clear-cut victory over militants was not achievable.

The BBC's Frank Gardner said the comments reflect a "new realism" in UK and US counter-terrorism circles.

Our security correspondent said such an admission five years ago might have been considered outrageous and defeatist.

Gen Richards, 58, took over as chief of the defence staff last month, after a spell as head of the British army.

'Secure lives'

He is due to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in London later as part of the UK's Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

In his Sunday Telegraph interview, Gen Richards expressed confidence that al-Qaeda could be contained to such an extent that Britons could lead secure lives.


Gus: have you noticed though that since the little shit Bushit has gone, no new wars, no new massive cock-up has deliberately happened in the world — or in the USA... Sure we can see there is the continuation of some conflicts but things have fizzled for the US, say, in Iraq (still keeping 50,000 troops there mind you) and Afghanistan is still like a boil on a bum, but there has not been, say, a 9/11 or a desire to destroy another country outright. Iran is still in the line of sight, North Korea is still being frothed up... but there no serious sabre-rattling from the empire, just a bit of bad weather here and there...

And the "Katrina" of Obama's presidency was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico due to you've guessed it no other than Halliburton, though Shell footed the bill for more than US$25 billions... To say the least, the US government did all it could to help solve this problem, without fear or favours... There is still more to be done but it's now being attended to without fanfares or spectacular somersaults...

Let's hope the spirit of cooperation slowly simmering in the Obama's Administration continues and that all the crap from the Bush is extinguished, including Guantanamo...

slash 'n' burn...

To Save Lives, NATO Is Razing Booby-Trapped Afghan Homes By TAIMOOR SHAH and ROD NORDLAND

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — In the newly won districts around this southern city, American forces are encountering empty homes and farm buildings left so heavily booby-trapped by Taliban insurgents that the Americans have been systematically destroying hundreds of them, according to local Afghan authorities.

The campaign, a major departure from NATO practice in past military operations, is intended to reduce civilian and military casualties by removing the threat of booby traps and denying Taliban insurgents hiding places and fighting positions, American military officials said.

While it has widespread support among Afghan officials and even some residents, and has been accompanied by an equally determined effort to hand out cash compensation to homeowners, other local people have complained that the demolitions have gone far beyond what is necessary.

It would also seem to run counter to Gen. David H. Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy, which calls for respecting property as well as lives, and to run up against recent calls by President Hamid Karzai for foreign forces to lower their profile and avoid tactics that alienate Afghan civilians. There have been no reports of civilians casualties from the demolitions.

General Petraeus, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, has recently pointed to progress in routing the Taliban in Kandahar, thanks to 30,000 additional troops, although the insurgents have countered that they have simply gone into hiding to wait out the American push.

What they have left behind are vacant houses and farm buildings so heavily rigged that soldiers have started referring to them as house-borne improvised explosive devices.

In recent weeks, using armored bulldozers, high explosives, missiles and even airstrikes, American troops have taken to destroying hundreds of them, by a conservative estimate, with some estimates running into the thousands.

“We don’t know the accurate number of homes destroyed, but it’s huge,” said Zalmai Ayubi, the spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa, and who with the governor visited on Oct. 21. “It’s the insurgents and the enemy of the country that are to blame for this destruction, because they have planted mines in civilian houses and main roads everywhere.”

see toon at top...


KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that he was in talks with the United States about the possible establishment of permanent US military bases in his war-ravaged country.

"From the statements made by US officials, US senators to the media and from what they have told us, yes, they have this desire," he said.

"This is an issue that we're in talks with them about."

But Karzai insisted that Afghanistan would have the final say on whether such bases would be allowed.

In January, influential US senator Lindsey Graham reportedly suggested permanent US bases in Afghanistan. At that time, Karzai's spokesman Waheed Omer said the issue had not been discussed with the United States.

see toon at top...

family feud...

At a time of unprecedented tension between the west and Hamid Karzai over the killing of civilians, Nato has accidentally shot dead one of the Afghan president's own family members during a botched night raid.

Officials in the southern province of Kandahar said Haji Yar Mohammad Karzai, a second cousin of the president, was killed during an operation by US special forces in Karz, the ancestral Karzai home on the outskirts of Kandahar city.

In what appears to have been a major intelligence failure, the 63-year-old tribal elder was mistaken for the father of a Taliban commander.

This week the UN released figures showing the total number of civilians killed last year by the coalition and the Taliban reached an all-time high of 2,777, reflecting an escalation of violence by both sides.

Mahmoud Karzai, one of the president's brothers, said he "smelled a very deep conspiracy" over the killing of Haji Yar Mohammad and said he feared Nato had been fed false information by someone from within the Karzai family.

pulped book...

The entire print run of a highly critical and embarrassing account of Britain's role in southern Afghanistan has been bought and pulped by the Ministry of Defence at a cost of more than £150,000.

A new edition, with some 50 words taken out, will be published this week despite continued opposition from within the ministry, officials said on Monday.

Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan, by Toby Harnden, says Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior soldier killed in war since the Falklands, lacked adequate equipment – including anti-IED protection – and sufficient manpower to do the job his soldiers were asked to do.

Thorneloe, a family friend of the author and commander of 1st Welsh Guards, was killed on 1 July 2009. The book draws from memos he sent to his commanders, including criticism of the British strategy.

The Guardian has obtained a copy of the book, which includes accounts of how civilians were killed by British forces. It describes a farmer being killed by a Javelin missile at night, how seven civilians, including six children, were killed by a 500lb bomb – an incident described by the Guardian from classified US material passed to WikiLeaks – and how eight civilians, including five children, were killed by a 500lb bomb fired by a French Mirage plane called in by British troops.

Gus: is there no glory in war anymore?...

talking to the enemy...

Afghan president Hamid Karzai says the United States is holding talks with the Taliban, in the first official confirmation of such contacts after nearly 10 years of war.

But the US has declined to confirm or deny Mr Karzai's claims, made in a speech in Kabul.

Mr Karzai said an Afghan push towards peace talks had not yet reached a stage where the government and insurgents were meeting, but their representatives had been in touch.

"Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations," Mr Karzai said.

"The peace negotiations between [the] Afghan government and the Taliban movement are not yet based on a certain agenda or physical [meetings], there are contacts established."

The Afghan president is known for dropping headline-making remarks into speeches, but this is the first time he has publicly made these claims.

The US State Department is not saying whether the claim is true, only acknowledging a "broad range of contacts" in support of reconciliation.



see toon at top...

treason... for finding the brother...

The governor of Afghanistan's central bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, has resigned and fled the country, saying his life is in danger for investigating fraud.

He said the government had interfered in his efforts to pursue those responsible for corruption at the privately-owned Kabul Bank.

Mr Fitrat was speaking from the US where he has residency. He says he will not return to Afghanistan.

An Afghan government spokesman said the resignation amounted to treason.

Waheed Omar, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, also added that Mr Fitrat was himself under investigation.

The embezzlement at Kabul Bank, Afghanistan's largest private bank, almost led to its collapse last year.

Investigators say that the bank made hundreds of millions of dollars of inappropriate loans. It handles most of the government payroll, including salaries for policemen and teachers.

It was bailed out in September, which is when the central bank also took control of its finances. President Karzai has previously pledged to fully investigate those involved in the crisis.

'High profile figures'

"It was information from credible sources that my life was in danger and I cannot name any specific source for that but it was a credible information," Mr Fitrat told the BBC on Monday.

"During [the] last 10 months during Kabul Bank crisis, I continuously pressed for the creation of a special prosecution, for the creation of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute those who were involved in Kabul Bank's fraud," he said.

He said he realised his life was in danger after he spoke to parliament and "exposed some people who are responsible for the crisis of Kabul Bank".

Earlier this year, Mr Fitrat publicly named in parliament high-profile figures who were allegedly involved.

Some of President Karzai's relatives, including his brother, Mahmoud Karzai, were among those named in connection with the scandal.

fragile country...

Karzai Adviser Is Killed at Kabul Home


KABUL, Afghanistan — A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai who had been a fierce foe of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s south was killed Sunday night after a small team of gunmen stormed his walled home here in the capital.

The slain aide, Jan Mohammed Khan, was a former governor of the southern Oruzgan Province who had been one of Mr. Karzai’s trusted allies and a regular presence inside the presidential palace. He was killed alongside a member of Parliament from Oruzgan, Mohammed Hosham Watanwal.

The men’s deaths were confirmed by Gen. Mohammed Zahir, a police official in Kabul.

The killings marked another potentially heavy blow for Mr. Karzai, coming just days after his powerful half-brother was assassinated by a close associate in southern Afghanistan.

About 90 minutes after the attack began at 8:30 p.m., Afghan security forces still had not captured or killed all of the gunmen. It was unclear whether anyone else had been killed or wounded, or whether the assailants had taken hostages.

“The terrorists are still inside, in one of the rooms,” General Zahir said. “We are trying our best.”

outta there...

Facing a tough race in November, even though the Republican opposition is monumentally awful, President Obama has decided to declare victory in Afghanistan and get the hell out by the end of next year.

US defence secretary Leon Panetta made the announcement early yesterday. Downing Street later confirmed that British troops would step back from their lead combat role by the end of next year also.    
About time too.

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afghan tragedy...


TALIBAN insurgents launched a series of co-ordinated attacks across eastern Afghanistan today. In Kabul, the targets included the British and other embassies, the Afghan parliament and the Nato headquarters.

The strikes mark the biggest attack on the Afghan capital for six months and follow renewed pledges by both President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw western troops and hand over security to Afghan forces.
The Taliban have admitted responsibility for today's attacks, which included "tens of suicide attackers" striking in the provinces of Logar, Paktia and Nangarhar as well as the capital city. In a statement they called the wave of attacks the start of their "spring offensive" which had been planned for "months".

The level of fatalities was not immediately clear, though several insurgents were reported dead in running street fights.

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quitting the cuisine in afghanistan...


France took a major step toward winding down its activities in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan Dec. 8 with a ceremony for 153 returning combat soldiers — part of President François Hollande’s pledge to bring the nation’s fighting troops home by the end of 2013. Though the arrival of a final contingent of combat soldiers in France in the next few days will fully close that chapter, Saturday’s moving commemoration by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian thanking the nation’s military for the Afghan effort was designed to emphasize that France’s combat role has drawn to a close.

“It’s with the sentiment of a duty fulfilled that you’re returning to France…(and) being reunited with those you love and have missed so much,” said Le Drian on a tarmac in Cyprus beside a government Airbus waiting to take the soldiers back to Paris. “This was the promise that the President of the Republic made to the French people. It’s a promise fulfilled.”

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the withdrawing method...

AMERICAN and British troops are to ''accelerate'' the withdrawal from front-line fighting in Afghanistan by adopting an advisory role starting this northern spring, the US President, Barack Obama, and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai announced.
''It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty,'' Mr Obama told a joint news conference at the White House on Friday.
Coalition troops had been expected to give up their combat role this northern summer before a ''responsible'' withdrawal of the remaining 66,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2014. But that has been pushed forward after talks between Mr Obama and Mr Karzai.

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still in it...

America has now passed the 17-year mark in Afghanistan. U.S. troops have been fighting there for longer than the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. Yet Washington is further away than ever from anything that might pass for victory.

More than 2,300 American military personnel and 3,500 contractors have died in Afghanistan. The latest death occurred last week—Specialist James A. Slape from Morehead City, North Carolina. Another 1,100 allied soldiers have been killed, almost half of them from the United Kingdom. More than 20,000 Americans have been wounded. The direct financial cost has amounted to $2 trillion, with another $45 billion budgeted for this year.

And for what?

After so many years of senseless combat, Erik Prince’s proposal to turn the conflict over to contractors almost sounds reasonable. His lobbying efforts in Kabul have not been notably successful, but some day American personnel will come home. And then Washington’s friends in Afghanistan will find themselves on their own.


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US war, at perpetuity... forever... non stop... continually... uninterrupted...


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recognising when problems cannot be solved...





Arguments for continued involvement in Afghanistan (or Syria) largely fall into two overlapping categories. We a) owe it to our Afghan allies or b) Afghanistan will again become a terrorist haven if we leave. The problem is these positions are largely specious and fail under the barest scrutiny. In the first case, there must be a limit to supporting our partners. If it’s a matter of sustaining American credibility, that is just another version of the “lost” country fallacy. Going down that slippery slope eventually requires “infinite capabilities or routine bluffs.” Thousands of lives lost and costs approaching $1 trillion would seem to a reasonable boundary for limiting our support, especially when that support seems to be creating an expensive, often ineffectual mirror image of the American military. Moreover sending troops to “train and assist” can easily and perhaps inevitably lead to sending more forces. No such support to another NATO ally would be so blithely undertaken or rarely questioned. We are told that a post-NATO Afghanistan would become a training ground for terrorists, inviting inevitable attacks on the American homeland. The Chicago Tribune said as much: “So why is America still in Afghanistan? Because the terror groups operating there would have the unfettered ability to again thrive if the U.S. withdrew.”


This assertion rests on shaky ground. Extrapolated, it would have American troops engaged in every struggling state. To some extent we already are, bombing or fighting in seven nations with little to no oversight. But the linkage between a future failed Afghanistan translating into a rogue Afghanistan is unclear. The world is full of failed states that pose little threat to America. Narrowly, the notion that leaving Afghanistan would result in attacks on the American homeland ignores the root causes of terrorism and the domestic security requirements that can actually prevent it. Consider that most 9/11 hijackers were Saudis who did their planning and preparation in the United States. Put simply, our presence in Afghanistan (and other places) doesn’t prevent terrorism; in fact, our presence likely causesterrorism. There are 17 years of practical experience in Afghanistan countering theories about the “stabilizing” factors of American and NATO forces.


A recent Defense One article summarized the situation: “Today, there are 14,000 to 15,000 American troops deployed to Afghanistan. Spending on the war will [soon] surpass $1 trillion. The toll in lives and taxpayer money has not brought us anywhere close to victory. What more are we willing to sacrifice?”

I would add the following.

Who wants to be the last man to die in Afghanistan amidst the weak rationales for staying? Who wants to see $100,000 missiles destroying $500 pickup trucks? Who wants to see Americans funding a billion dollar “ghost army,” which, though valorous, is being slaughtered to such as extent that the government withholds casualty numbers? Who wants to see American values corrupted and cheapened as we kill innocents in the name of fighting terror? Who wants to see America lose her morality by embracing theocratic despots who happen to buy our weapons, only to intentionally employ them on civilians? Who wants to see American lives wasted for the goal of avoiding failure? Are we ready for a military defeat in Afghanistan?


Ultimately, recriminations won’t matter, but the record of how we spent our capital (morale, people, funds) will. Future generations burdened with our debt, dead, and wounded will ask: did we apply a strategy of success, one that ameliorated a problem and positively affected national security? The truth is that we can win wars through assistance or training foreign forces, but the conditions have to be right. And even then, host nation conditions are often beyond our control. We cannot, however, no matter our power, influence a host nation to make these conditions come about through autogenesis. Strategist John Lewis Gaddis explains that great powers “require a sense of the whole that reveals the significance of respective parts.” An unbiased look at the whole reveals that some conditions are beyond our power while clarifying what is important.


In June 1947, shortly after proposing the aid package to Europe that became known as the “Marshall Plan,” Marshall elucidated the challenge China presented to American policymakers: “I have tortured my brain, and I can’t now see the answer.” In doing so he conveyed his capacity for strategic thought, which is not only solving problems, but also recognizing when problems cannot be solved—that events sometimes run their course. The American public seems to overwhelmingly support its troops; this is all well and good, but they must foremost support the truth. The truth, aided by history, can help us avoid the trap of our strategies “growing stupider as they grow grander.” Strategy involves honestly facing what cannot be done. Sometimes our best isn’t enough; sometimes “losing” a country is acceptable.

John Bolton is an Army officer with multiple deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a Chinese speaker with an avid interest in Asia. The views presented here are his alone and not representative of the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, or the U.S. government.


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peace, a priceless value that we must always preserve ...

Minister for Defence Elisabetta Trenta (5-Star Movement), on the mike of a musical radio station, sang « C’era un ragazzo che come me amava i Beatles e i Rolling Stones » [1], and declared « This song makes me think about the value of peace, a priceless value that we must always preserve ».

Ten days later, in Afghanistan, the military-garbed Minister praised « our armed presence outside of the frontiers of Italy, guided by the values of our Constitution, on a fundamental mission for peace ».

The mission is Resolution Support, initiated by NATO in Afghanistan in 2015, after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a United Nations mission of which NATO had taken command by armed force in 2003.

So the US/NATO war continues in Afghanistan, now in its eighteenth year. It was launched by the USA on 7 October 2001 on the official motive of hunting down Oussama Ben Laden, accused of the attacks of 11 September, who was supposedly hiding in an Afghani cave under the protection of the Taliban.

The true reasons were revealed by the Pentagon in a report published one week before the beginning of the war - « There is a possibility that a military rival is emerging in Asia with a formidable base of resources. Our armed forces must maintain the capacity to impose the will of the United States on any adversary, in order to change the régime of an enemy State or occupy a foreign territory until US strategic objectives are realised ».

In the period preceding 11 September 2001, there had been strong signals of a rapprochement between China and Russia, which were actualised when the two countries signed the « Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation » on 17 July 2001. Washington considered that this rapprochement between China and Russia was a challenge to US interests, at the critical moment when the USA were trying to fill the void left in Central Asia by the disintegration of the USSR – a region of capital importance both for its geostrategic position in terms of Russia and China, and for its border reserves of oil and natural gas in the Caspian. The key position for the control of this region is Afghanistan.

This explains the headstrong engagement in a war which has already cost the United States alone more than 1,000 billion dollars. The mission which is currently under way is presented by NATO as a « non-combat mission ». But on the basis of official data, in the first ten months of 2018, the US Air Force dropped approximately 6 thousand bombs and missiles on targets over Afghanistan. As well as fighters and armed drones, they used B-52 heavy bombers equipped with rotary launchers, which increase by two thirds the already enormous destructive capacities of the aircraft by enabling it to drop as many as 30 powerful precision-guided bombs in one mission.

Apart from this visible war there is another, hidden, waged by US and Allied Special Forces, with the mission to assassinate Taliban chieftains, or those presumed to be chieftains, and other people who are considered to be dangerous. The result is disastrous for NATO – as the number of civilian victims increases, so the Taliban gain ground.

Italy has been participating in the Afghanistan war for more than 15 years, under US command and in violation of Article 11 of the Constitution. Its contingent is ranked third out of 39 participants, after the United States and Germany. Italian officers are deployed in Tampa, Florida with the USA Command, and in Bahrein as liaison personnel with the US forces there.

And while the war continues to crush its victims, our Minister of Defence declares - at the Herat Orphanage - that Italian soldiers gave about two hundred winter outfits to « young and less fortunate children ».

Manlio Dinucci

Pete Kimberley

Il Manifesto (Italy)


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There is a possibility that a military rival is emerging in Asia with a formidable base of resources. Our armed forces must maintain the capacity to impose the will of the United States on any adversary, in order to change the régime of an enemy State or occupy a foreign territory until US strategic objectives are realised ...



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milit'ry advice...

old generals never die... they just become old turkeys...

Retired General Stanley McChrystal became the latest military heavyweight to round on the US president for curtailing American army presence in Afghanistan and Syria.

“If you pull American influence out, you're likely to have greater instability and of course it'll be much more difficult for the United States to try to push events in any direction,” said the 64-year-old, who led the spec ops force that captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, and later headed the entire NATO contingent in Afghanistan.

“There is an argument that says we just pull up our stuff, go home, let the region run itself. That has not done well for the last 50 or 60 years,” continued the four-star general, who spoke as part of a long sit-down interview with ABC’s This Week.

Earlier this month Donald Trump announced plans to halve the current 14,000 US contingent in Afghanistan – though the White House later announced that no firm decision has been taken – and has ordered for all 2,000 American troops in Syria to leave.


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a necessary successful failure explained...


The “Afghanistan Papers” do nothing but prop-up the Establishment

Let’s be honest, most modern “leaks” are just exercises in Deep State narrative management


by Kit Knightly


The Big Reveal for the Washington Post this week is the release of the Afghanistan Papers. A series of interviews and documents “compiled in secret” and then the subject of a “legal challenge” from the US government.

The WaPo baldly calls it:

A secret history of the war”

But there’s nothing here that’s really secret, and very little actual history. What do they tell us? Absolutely nothing, except what we’re supposed to believe.

An awful lot of modern “leaks” are no such thing. They are Orwellian exercises in controlling the conversation. And this is no exception, carefully making sure the “establishment” and the “alternative” are joined in the middle, controlled from the same source.

It presents apologism, simplifications and outright fabrication as if they are classified information.

Telling us about “bad intelligence” and a “lack of coherent strategy”, as if THOSE are the biggest crimes of NATO in Afghanistan.

The Guardian articles on the release reinforce the official version of 9/11, The WaPo itself drops nods to the mythologised death of Osama Bin Laden.

It’s all about enforcing the establishment line, disguised as criticism. Real crimes are ignored, whilst smaller, simpler “well-intentioned mistakes” are reluctantly acknowledged.

Nowhere is the illegality of the invasion addressed.

Not once is anyone accused of war crimes.

The Guardian reports don’t mention the word opium, which is bad enough. The Washington Post goes even further – daring to relate the US Army’s struggle to “curb” the spread of the opium trade.





In every facet, on every front, Afghanistan is exactly what America needed it to be. 

They dripfeed in the blood of young Americans, they destroy 100,000s of Afghan lives, and they reap the rewards they always intended to reap:

  1. The permanent slow-simmer conflict gives them an excuse to keep thousands of US military personnel in a country which borders Iran, Pakistan AND China. (Not to mention a host of ex-Soviet states).
  2. It keeps military expenditure nice and high, so Congressman, ex-generals and everyone else on the boards of Boeing or Lockheed Martin get great big bonuses every year.
  3. They have sole access to the rare-Earth elements and other vital metals in the Afghan mountains. Lithium, most importantly of all.
  4. They have control of the world’s opium industry. A vital cog in the relations of the US intelligence agencies, and organised crime. It’s essentially reverse money-laundering – turning tax-payer funds into dark money that can be spent hiring mercenaries, organising assassinations, arranging coups…or simply be stolen.
  5. They have access to all the “radicalised” young men they could ever want. A little Jihadi farm, where “terrorists” can be named, trained and sent off to fight proxy wars in Syria, or spread fear and chaos in the West.

Afghanistan is a great asset to the Empire. The US Deep State has a spent a fortune making it so. They could at least be honest about it.


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See also the view from Uncle Rupe:


Critics warn that a hasty U.S. withdrawal could again turn Afghanistan into a haven for terrorist groups to hatch ambitious plots, but Mr. Trump is hardly alone in wanting to end America’s longest overseas war and bring the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops home. Afghan war fatigue has become bipartisan. Both Republican and Democratic policy makers increasingly see Afghanistan less as a front line in securing U.S. interests than as a burden that distracts from dealing with more serious strategic challenges, such as a rising China and an expansionist Russia.


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It's like Big Pharma going broke, by finding a real successful treatment to diseases, that would stop the need for treatment... See what I mean?

déjà vu...


The "final warning" on fine notepaper was delivered to me in the depth of a harsh Kabul winter at the peak of a Cold War conflict. "I must advise you that you should leave Afghanistan without delay while normal flights are still available," advised the British chargé d'affaires. 

Eleven days later, on a snowy 30 January 1989, we watched the US chargé d'affaires solemnly lower the stars and stripes in a simple ceremony freighted with political meaning. The last Soviet troops were pulling out within weeks, ending their disastrous decade-long Afghan engagement. An exodus of Western missions was meant to rattle the beleaguered Moscow-backed government. 

Britain also shut its gates on its magnificent white stucco compound once hailed as the "finest in Asia".

"UK ministers felt that they had no choice but to follow suit even though our embassy staff were keen to stay put and carry on with the job," recalls Stephen Evans, a former British ambassador to Afghanistan who was then the Afghanistan desk officer in the British foreign office.

Both Washington and London promised they'd soon be back, but their missions would stay shut until a US-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban. 

Now, as a nearly 20-year Nato military mission ends with the exit of foreign troops, the question of staying or going is back at the top of the envoys' agenda.


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like thieves in the night...

The US military left Bagram Airfield - its key base in Afghanistan - in the dead of night without notifying the Afghans, the base's new commander said.

General Asadullah Kohistani told the BBC that the US left Bagram at 03:00 local time on Friday, and that the Afghan military found out hours later. 

Bagram also contains a prison, and there are reportedly up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners left in the facility.

The Taliban have been advancing rapidly in Afghanistan as US troops withdraw.

General Kohistani said on Monday that Afghan forces were expecting the Taliban to attack Bagram.

Speaking to reporters at the airbase, he said he was already receiving reports the group was making "movements in rural areas" nearby.


"You know, if we compare ourselves with the Americans, it's a big difference," Gen Kohistani said. "But according to our capabilities... we are trying to do the best and as much as possible secure and serve all the people."

The US announced on Friday that it had vacated Bagram, effectively completing its military campaign in Afghanistan ahead of the official end date of 11 September, announced by President Joe Biden earlier this year.

Asked by the Associated Press about the late-night withdrawal from the base, US military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett referred to a statement issued last week that said US forces had co-ordinated their departure from various bases with Afghan leaders. 

Recent weeks have seen the Taliban swiftly retake ground as American troops depart, seizing rural districts and surrounding some larger Afghan cities. 

The late-night withdrawal from Bagram hands control of the base to a much less well-equipped force that could struggle to defend it from the Taliban.

Gen Kohistani has roughly 3,000 troops under his command - significantly less than the tens of thousands of US and allied soldiers that once occupied the airbase.


About 1,000 Afghan soldiers fighting the Taliban in the north of the country fled over the border into Tajikistan on Monday, according to officials, raising fears over the military's ability to stave off further advances by the group.

Bagram has shifted hands over the years. It was first built by the Americans, for Afghanistan, back in the 1950s, before falling into Soviet control when the Red Army invaded in 1979.

It was later occupied by the Moscow-backed Afghan government and then a mujahideen administration, before eventually winding up in Taliban hands when the group swept to power in the mid 1990s.

When the US invaded in 2001, it deposed the Taliban and took control of the airbase, transforming it into a sprawling complex from which it fought its war against the group.

Twenty years of conflict in Afghanistan – what happened when?

From 9/11, to intense fighting on the ground, and now full withdrawal of US-led forces, here’s what happened.


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