Posts tagged ‘Afghanistan’

June 27, 2011

$20 Billion on Air Conditioning for our two wars

by thefulllidvmg

Doug Mataconis describes this large amount of money:

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125 degree heat require a lot of fuel. Anderson says by making those structures more efficient, the military could save lives and dollars.

June 24, 2011

Ripping Obama to Shreds

by thefulllidvmg

Victor Davis Hanson does a great job of it:

Barack Obama’s cries from the heart as a senator about the possibility of a Bush intervention in Iran being a de facto violation of the War Powers Act have been widely circulated — juxtaposed to his sophistic gymnastics about bombs over Libya not really being much more than “kinetic action” and thus exempt from the Act. Then we have another doublet with Hillary Clinton, who said this month:

. . . the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them?

Yet said in May 2003 in the context of Iraq:

I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.

The point is not that the Obama administration is two-faced, hypocritical, and shameless. Most administrations are; they act quite differently once they are in the White House and governance requires adult responsibility quite different from the cheap rhetoric of the campaign trail.

Rather, the significance in Obama’s case is twofold: Obama suffers the wages of hypocrisy far more keenly because he set himself up as a new-style politician, promising to buck the “establishment” with his hope-and-change agenda, only to govern in the worst style of a Chicago brass-knuckles machine-made pol, humiliating those who actually believed the planet-cooling/seas-receding nonsense of 2008.

Second, Obama has utterly embarrassed the entire liberal attack on the Bush’s administration’s efforts in Iraq and against terrorism. The venom between 2003 and 2008 was both cruel and nasty, and yet it was always presented as principled rather than partisan, not a grasp for power but the product of deeper respect for the American civic traditions. Now we see that entire era as a complete fraud — on matters of dissent, skepticism of the War Powers Act, Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventive detention, wiretaps, intercepts, Iraq, and predator targeted assassination. The hysterical commentary was never based on the merits of those acts, but simply because George Bush, a political opponent, embraced them. How do we know this? Through hypocritical couplets like those above — and the almost complete silence of the antiwar Left. Where now is Cindy Sheehan, the award-winning Michael Moore, the New York Times discounted ads to Moveon.org, the impassioned floor speeches from a Senator Reid or Kerry?

That is the real legacy of the Obama administration: In a way the most extreme right-wing nut could not, Obama has humiliated, embarrassed, and rendered bankrupt seven years of prior dissent, showing it up for what it was all along.

No words or comments on my end could follow up that assault.

June 22, 2011

Bagram, not Guantanamo, has most U.S. terror detainees

by thefulllidvmg

Allgov tells:

While the number held at Guantánamo is currently estimated to be about 170, the total imprisoned at Bagram is about 1,700. The two prisons have been moving in opposite directions in terms of their detainee numbers, with Guantánamo shrinking from a high of more than 700 to its present count.
Bagram, though, has been growing in recent years. Its detainee total has tripled in size since 2008, with more than 1,300 suspects arrested and imprisoned in 2010 alone.
Another distinction between the two facilities is that detainees at the Afghanistan prison have fewer rights than their counterparts at Guantánamo.
Guantanamo, also know as “Gitmo”, grabbed the national spotlight when it came time to shine light on how we have treated detained terror suspects. It could be that Gitmo was much closer than Bagram (located in Afghanistan) so in essence Bagram was even more out of sight and mind.
June 22, 2011

Parsing the Obama Withdraw from Afghanistan

by thefulllidvmg

Glenn Greenwald analyzes in light of the headlines everywhere (most notably in the NY Times):

President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in a speech on Wednesday evening . . . Mr. Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.. . . .

Even after all 30,000 troops are withdrawn, roughly 68,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan, twice the number as when Mr. Obama assumed office.

Emphasis by G.G. His remarks:

So even under the most “aggressive” withdrawal plan the President is considering — one that he and media outlets will undoubtedly tout as a “withdrawal plan” (the headline on the NYT front page today: “Obama to Announce Plans for Afghan Pullout”) — there will still be “twice the number” of American troops in that country as there were when George Bush left office and Obama was inaugurated.  That’s what “withdrawal” means in American political parlance: doubling the number of troops fighting a foreign war over the course of four years.

Many people on the left have debated the speed of which Obama should pull out of Afghanistan. This is in light of almost all lawmakers siding with withdrawing troops and top military officials opposing a swift withdraw.

June 6, 2011

What the Money Spent on “Defense” Can Buy Us

by thefulllidvmg

AllGov shows what domestic programs we could spend the $7.6 trillion defense budget since 2001 on:

Fill the Medicare Gap: If Congress redirected just one-fifth of the budget increases from 2000 to 2011 for defense spending, it would be enough to eliminate the long-term budget hole in the Medicare program.
 
Fund Head Start for 15 Years: Instead of 10 years of warfare in Afghanistan, the U.S. could have secured 15.6 years of early childhood education and support through Head Start for the same price.
 
Insure the Uninsured: Another way to spend the Afghanistan war chest would be on the uninsured. The budget for fighting the Taliban is enough to cover every American without health insurance for 1.7 years.
 
Help State Capitols: A total of 46 states are facing budget shortfalls this fiscal year. Collectively, they need about $130 billion. Ending the war in Afghanistan and getting entirely out of Iraq would save $170 billion—more than enough to wipe out the red ink from Albany to Sacramento.
 
Instead of Iraq…: Even with the end of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. is still spending $50 billion annually to maintain a large contingent of troops in the country. For this same amount of money, Washington could ensure a year’s worth of health care for 24.3 million poor children, or salaries for more than 725,000 elementary school teachers or nearly 830,000 firefighters.
May 31, 2011

Picture of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

Pictured: Afghan poppy farmer, Zareen (left) stands in his poppy field with son Azim, 8, in Faizabad, Badakshan, Afghanistan, on May 25, 2011. Local authorities in Badakshan use a tractor to destroy cabbage size poppy plants at their early stages as to lessen the burden on the farmer. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the cultivation of poppies in the Badakshan region has more than doubled this season. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001, and more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan, reportedly amounting to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

May 21, 2011

“They hate us for our freedoms”

by thefulllidvmg

Glenn Greenwald explains a major reason why many Middle Eastern denizens hate America. Hint: it isn’t because of our freedoms but because of NATO strikes that killed three children in four days:

Just imagine the accumulated hatred from having things like this happen day after day, week after week, year after year, for a full decade now, with no end in sight — broadcast all over the region.  It’s literally impossible to convey in words the level of bloodthirsty fury and demands for vengeance that would arise if a foreign army were inside the U.S. killing innocent American children even a handful of times, let alone continuously for a full decade.

It’s the perfect self-perpetuating cycle:  (1) They hate us and want to attack us because we’re over there; therefore, (2) we have to stay and proliferate ourselves because they hate us and want to attack us; (3) our staying and proliferating ourselves makes them hate us and want to attack us more; therefore, (4) we can never leave, because of how much they hate us and want to attack us.  The beauty of this War on Terror — and, as the last two weeks have demonstrated, War is the bipartisan consensus for what we are and should be doing to address Terrorism — is that it forever sustains its own ostensible cause.

For the war hawks, many of whom are Republicans, you may see this as a pro-life war in that it protects your life and your families life and ensures your freedoms, etc. This is not pro-life for all of the innocent deaths in every war.

May 14, 2011

Fundamentalism Meets Pornography

by thefulllidvmg

Osama’s compound had a few scattered electronic devices (which were banned under Taliban rule in Afghanistan). The Navy SEALs also found his porn stash (or someones stash of porn in his house). Was he that much of a fundamentalist?

May 11, 2011

Civilian Deaths vs. Military Deaths

by thefulllidvmg

This also includes costs of war (hat tip to Sojourners):

  • Financial: The U.S. is spending more than $100 billion per year in Afghanistan
  • Human: 1,570 Americans killed, more than 10,000 wounded
  • More than 10,000 civilian Afghan deaths, 3,000 in 2010 alone.

Innocent civilians / bystanders are almost the invisible warriors in this war and many others of yore. They are forgotten in our news cycle and in our lamentations. This is not to downplay the deaths of our men and women in uniform, but they are not the worst hit group in times of war. Check war deaths since WW2 and the Civil War. Quantum drops in military casualties.

May 7, 2011

Reading Materials

by thefulllidvmg

Alissa J. Rubin goes undercover in Afghanistan in a burqa.

Reactions and full video to the GOP debate in Greensville, SC. (plus what the GOP debated on during their last primary)

The difference between capital punishment and killing Osama Bin Laden.

How can we fight a drug war in America when we can’t keep drugs out of our prisons?

Finally, a tumblr blog perfect for me and other teachers.

April 27, 2011

An Afghanistani Mental Health Break

by thefulllidvmg

It’s good to see this.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

Tags: ,
March 22, 2011

Ranking Our Foreign Priorities

by thefulllidvmg

Jeffrey Goldberg gives a great top 7 analysis.

December 10, 2010

Republicans I Would Vote For President

by thefulllidvmg

I am proud of myself for aligning with more Republican leaders.

Gary Johnson, who served as governor of New Mexico, seems to be an interesting breed of politician. He openly admits to of used marijuana, even when it was illegal in New Mexico, because of the pain from a paragliding accident, is pro-choice but wants Roe v. Wade repealed, suggests that between 25-90% of our defense budget can be cut, and believes we shouldn’t be in Iraq or Afghanistan. Truly, his views are radical amongst the GOP ilk.

Chris Christie strikes me as interesting by his large stature, being a Jersey politician type, and he has a boldness to stick with making tough choices. He is up against a New Jersey school board that has been circulating emails asking people to pray for him to die. Meanwhile, he is dealing with a $1 billion budget cutback and making a lot of public appearances to talk through it with his Garden State denizens.

Unfortunately, Chris Christie has hinted that he will not run for president and Gary Johnson may be an outside runner in the sea of GOP possibles.

November 24, 2010

Makes Me Wonder…

by thefulllidvmg

First:

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting…”

This was to attest fighting against the ruling powers as they arrested Jesus. Could this have some say in what we do today? Afghanistan? “War against Islam”? Fighting to take America “back”?

Second:

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth.”

Does his life, his actions, and his outlook bear witness to his relationship with the Father?

November 18, 2010

‘Wow’ Quote of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

One could take Bryan Fischer as a satire artist. He describes what he believes the issuing of the Medals of Honor has come to:

But I have noticed a disturbing trend in the awarding of these medals, which few others seem to have recognized. We have feminized the Medal of Honor. According to Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal, every Medal of Honor awarded during these two conflicts has been awarded for saving life. Not one has been awarded for inflicting casualties on the enemy. Not one.

So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?

Wow.

September 14, 2010

Adaptions in the Approach of War

by thefulllidvmg

I went with MJ to the Miller Library in York, PA yesterday. I picked up a 2008 edition of the Atlantic and read up on insurgency, Iraq, Afghanistan, David Petraeus, and war fighting in general. I then proceeded to Google Petraeus’ dissertation and downloaded it. Maybe sometime I will get around to reading the nearly 300 page .pdf document.

One of the first evolutions in the war approach by America since Vietnam is a move away from intervention due to military regime threats per say to now responding to global political instabilities:

To Nagl, the lessons of the recent past are self-evident. The events of 9/11, he writes, “conclusively demonstrated that instability anywhere can be a real threat to the American people here at home.” For the foreseeable future, political conditions abroad rather than specific military threats will pose the greatest danger to the United States.

Nagl makes a solid and refreshing point next, leading into evolution number two:

For Nagl, the imperative of the moment is to institutionalize the relevant lessons of Vietnam and Iraq, thereby enabling the Army, he writes, “to get better at building societies that can stand on their own.” That means buying fewer tanks while spending more on language proficiency; curtailing the hours spent on marksmanship ranges while increasing those devoted to studying foreign cultures. It also implies changing the culture of the officer corps. An Army that since Vietnam has self-consciously cultivated a battle-oriented warrior ethos will instead emphasize, in Nagl’s words, “the intellectual tools necessary to foster host-nation political and economic development.”

This second evolution will challenge much of what we call National Security today. If for the slightest reason you are seen as having some minute connection to anything Middle Eastern, there is a chance you can be monitored, not permitted to pass security clearances, and rendered unable to serve your country with your skills, education, fluency in Arabic, and or other training possessed by you. DADT doesn’t help with this, either, but that is another discussion.

The Green Zone, starring Matt Damon, mostly focuses on the questionability of if there were WMD’s in Iraq. I appreciate the movie for its suggestion of a bottom-up approach to war. Damon forms relationships with Iraqi citizens and informants. The information he provides is what is fed into policy and mission planning. As I transition into the second article, and into Afghanistan, the second war evolution above is absolutely essential for

America to approach Afghanistan in a smarter over stronger way.

To understand Afghanistan, you have to have a glimpse of their government. Just as with Vietnam, we are approaching our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of 1) intervening 2) ridding the countries of terrorist strongholds 3) equipping the domestic governments and police forces* and 4) withdrawing. The starred (*) item has been a difficult task. The Afghan police throughout the country have been perennially plagued with corruption, which can in part be due to frustration with Kabul. They are usually undermanned and unable to fully spar with the Taliban. Also noteworthy is that Afghanistan has not had a strong central government since the 19th century: “under the “Iron Emir,” Abdur Rehman, in the late 19th century, Rehman famously maintained control by building towers of skulls from the heads of all who opposed him.” Much of Afghanistan is provincially maintained which can be a gift and or a curse.

The glut of American and NATO forces are in major metro areas within Afghanistan, far away from the real action and influence. See once again Vietnam with the hamlet systems –  in desperate hopes of protecting the villagers from night time visits / attacks from the Viet Cong, Americans placed walls around Vietnamese villages. America is not attempting that now with Afghan provinces but the village remains just as valuable to this 21st century war effort.

The approach to rural affairs is no easy task, however:

The rural Pashtun south has its own systems of tribal governance and law, and its people don’t want Western styles of either. But nor are they predisposed to support the Taliban, which espouses an alien and intolerant form of Islam, and goes against the grain of traditional respect for elders and decision by consensus. Re-empowering the village coun cils of elders and restoring their community leadership is the only way to re-create the traditional check against the powerful political network of rural mullahs, who have been radicalized by the Taliban. But the elders won’t commit to opposing the Taliban if they and their families are vulnerable to Taliban torture and murder, and they can hardly be blamed for that.

The article is summed up below:

As long as the compounds are discreetly sited, house Afghan soldiers to provide the most visible security presence, and fly the Afghan flag, they need not exacerbate fears of foreign occupation. Instead, they would reinforce the country’s most important, most neglected political units; strengthen the tribal elders; win local support; and reverse the slow slide into strategic failure.

I personally feel this threat was needed to of been addressed but looks all too familiar to Vietnam. If we are able to adapt our military approach, take a blow to American pride by trading in our tanks for intelligence and Arabic speaking men and women, and be ready for dirty fire fighting with the Taliban, we can confront these extremists. Until then, we will have in our future text books a new Vietnam similar in being a quagmire.

August 11, 2010

The War Report: The Kids Are Not Alright

by thefulllidvmg

(Photo: Asan Bibi, 9, (R) and her sister Salima,13, (L) stand in the hallway of Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. Both were burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. Three members of the family were killed in the incident. The family belongs to the Kuchi ethnic tribe, nomads living in tents out in the open desert whom are very vulnerable to a war they have little understanding of. The Taliban are now staging suicide attacks and IED blasts in densely populated areas to create a bigger impact as more of Afghan’s war wounded hit the headlines. By Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.)

Some more background courtesy of the Daily Dish:

As we fight an unwinnable war in an ungovernable country, the enemy simplyratchets up the evil by targeting more and more innocent civilians, especially women and children. HuffPo’s headline misleadingly suggests that US policy is behind the yearly increase in civilian fatalities but the UN report actually notes that casualties caused by the US and UK fell by 30 percent and by 64 percent in aerial bombing in one year, which strikes me as a real achievement for McChrystal. But then you see an image like that above (having scanned many of them I feel numb from the images of agony and despair) which was the result of a Coalition air-strike gone awry and you see the awful, horrible, gut-wrenching moral dilemma we are in. But the vast majority of child murders are by the Taliban.

August 4, 2010

Reading up on Obama’s’ Foreign Policy Cred’s

by thefulllidvmg

Three links to give you three different views.

Bad
Decent
Good

July 29, 2010

The War Report: July 29th

by thefulllidvmg

I feel like starting a special series on the war(s) at hand. I will provide various news reporting’s, commentaries, and analyses.

Andrew Sullivan and the AP report that the Pentagon cannot account for billions of dollars spent in Iraq. The report from MSNBC includes Afghanistani efforts:

A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for more than 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country.

The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year — more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.

An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.

An Afghanistan War funding pact was passed by the House:

The House voted 308-114 to approve the spending boost for the additional 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Other nonwar provisions brought the total bill to nearly $59 billion.

Republicans in Congress still were strongly behind the boost in war spending, but there was unusually strong opposition from members of Obama’s own party. All but 12 of the “no” votes in the House came from Democrats.

In debate before the vote, Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said the leaked documents revealed corruption and incompetence in the Afghan government. “We’re told we can’t extend unemployment or pay to keep cops on the beat or teachers in the classroom,” he said, “but we’re asked to borrow another $33 billion for nation-building in Afghanistan.”

Obama’s ace in the hole in all of these wars is seen as Hilary Clinton:

In fact, Clinton, who was supposed to ignite the flames of conservatives’ hatred, is becoming more popular every day across the political spectrum. Her hawkish foreign policy views gain her support on the right, and her well-known views on domestic policy keep the home fires burning on the left. The two fields intersect in one of the areas where she displays the greatest passion, her signature foreign- policy issue: the need to empower women in poor countries in order to transform the world.

Finally, Karl Rove wonders why there isn’t more American hubris in our approach to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

The president and prime minister declared their solidarity on the Afghanistan war. Both leaders “reaffirmed our commitment to the overall strategy,” in Mr. Cameron’s words. Mr. Obama said that approach aimed to “build Afghan capacity so Afghans can take responsibility for their future,” a point Mr. Cameron called “a key part” of the coalition’s strategy.

All well and good. But neither leader uttered the word “victory” or “win” or any other similar phrase. They made it sound as if the strategic goal was to stand up the Afghan security forces, leave as soon as that was done, and hope the locals were up to keeping things together.

Rove must not know that the Taliban have never had double-digit popularity levels in Afghanistan.

July 10, 2010

The Briar Patch

by thefulllidvmg

Andrew Sullivan describes the after-effects still living themselves out after America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan:

What has neoconservatism achieved? In Afghanistan, the best possible option is a country dominated by an increasingly Islamist and nuclear-armed Pakistan. In Iraq, the best possible option is a country dominated by Shiites far more aligned with Iran than many Sunni Arab states. And so the upshot of the Bush-Cheney years is an empowerment of both Iran and Pakistan, the two Muslim countries either with or close to nuclear capacity. That is the end result of a policy designed above all to prevent WMDs getting into the hands of terrorists. I mean: you couldn’t make this up.
And still they want more war. In fact, they are now angling for American support for Sunni Arab states (and Israel) to launch a war against the Shiite power of Iran. Not content with enmeshing the US in two intractable wars, they actually want America to take sides in the ancient intra-Muslim feud between Shiite and Sunni. Yes, that sounds like something brilliant doesn’t it? No unintended consequences could come from diving into that briar patch.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.