afghanistan

Lee Camp: The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 4:37am in

Bombs have numbers. Humans have names. Our American military boasts a skill and passion for using numbers to turn names into yet more numbers. But these numbers have grown so gargantuan and out of control that one struggles to comprehend them.

In just 10 months in 2018—the latest numbers made available—our military dropped 5,982 munitions on Afghanistan, turning many thinking, living and loving names into cold, lifeless numbers. Over the span of the war, 43,000 Afghan civilians have been numberized. We, as Americans, essentially never even notice when it happens. Statistically speaking, it will happen again many times today, and no one in America will really care. (At least not while the game is on.)

64,000 Afghan security forces have been numberized since 2001.

Our government has known for years that the war in Afghanistan is a jaw-dropping disaster on the level of “Cats”: the movie. How do we know they knew? The Washington Post actually just published some impressive reporting, taking a step back from its lust for pro-war propaganda. (The last time it achieved such a feat was during the O.J. Simpson trial. The first one. The one with the glove.) The Post unearthed a trove of thousands of internal government documents that expose the catastrophic war. And it turns out there are Tinder dates between a young neo-Nazi and an old Jewish lady that have gone better than this war.

[The document trove] reveals that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” the paper reported.

Let me translate The Washington Post’s fancy-pants language: U.S. officials didn’t “fail to tell the truth”; they fucking lied. The phrase “failed to tell the truth” oozes around the brain’s neural pathways, strategically dodging the anger receptors. “Failed to tell the truth” sounds like veracity is a slippery fish U.S. officials just couldn’t catch.

424 humanitarian aid workers have been numberized.

Let’s take a moment to consider the motivations and goals of the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. ostensibly invaded the country to stop al-Qaida from attacking us in any way, namely by flying large planes into our buildings. We achieved this goal within the first couple months. With al-Qaida essentially decimated, it seems logical that we should have left the country, reserving the right to return if any other big passenger airplanes came after us.

But we didn’t leave. We never leave. Rule No. 1 of the American empire is “Never Truly Leave a Country After Invading.” In order to explain our continued presence, we had to move the goal post. To what? We weren’t sure. We’re still not sure. Nearly 20 years later, if you ask a U.S. general or president (any of them) what the goal is in Afghanistan, they’ll feed you a word salad so large it’ll keep you regular for months. In fact, we now know that even during some of the earliest years of the war, the Pentagon and the Bush administration didn’t know who the bad guys were. (Right now you’re thinking it’s rather juvenile and uninformed of me to refer to enemy forces as “bad guys,” but, as you’ll see in a moment, our government literally spoke about them in those terms. Side note: This is because murderous rampages by war criminals are always juvenile. Murder, by definition, is unevolved.)

According to the Post’s Afghanistan Papers, an unnamed former adviser to an Army Special Forces team said, “They thought I was going to come to them with a map to show them where the good guys and bad guys live. It took several conversations—[a]t first, they just kept asking: ‘But who are the bad guys, where are they?’ 

Yet we Americans were instructed in the early years that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had everything under control. To imply otherwise was to make a mockery of tens of millions of yellow ribbons. But in reality, Rumsfeld, too, had a sizable bad-guy problem.

I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” he said behind closed, locked, soundproof doors. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld publicly and boldly led the nation in a well-defined and decisive victory in the land of the Afghans.

In 2003, he said, during a press conference alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, “General Franks and I … have concluded that we’re at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.”

Yep, no more major combat—just 17 years of reconstruction (and activities). Apparently, most U.S.-backed “reconstruction” is done from the air, via bombs. Let that be a lesson to you, rest of the world: You better not screw with us or we’ll reconstruct you and your whole family!

67 journalists have been reconstructed during the war in Afghanistan.

Is two decades too long for an utter, unmitigated disaster? Maybe we can stretch it to three? We’ve been funding warlords and extremist jihadis and hoping they will play nice. Yet American presidents have continually told us we’re making progress. “Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as Afghanistan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015, ‘What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.’ 

I imagine that quote particularly upsets many Americans, because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s having a foggy idea of what we’re doing.

Vietnam: foggy idea.

Iraq: very strong foggy idea.

Libya: one hell of a foggy idea.

Unfettered capitalism: the foggiest idea.

To put it simply, we are the best at bad ideas. But these Afghanistan Papers unveil a pretty terrible picture. One we need to confront as a nation and not just sweep under the rug (and not just because the rug would have to be the size of the Pacific Rim).

Upon hearing these revelations, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did his best impersonation of someone who gives a shit. He said:

A bombshell series of investigative reports from The Washington Post exposing heartbreaking truths about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which has claimed some 2,400 U.S. lives and cost nearly a trillion dollars. The Post says … officials routinely lied to the American people about the war. … This is truly a bombshell.

Yes, it’s a bombshell—despite the fact that much of the information in the Afghanistan Papers has been known for a decade or more. Back in 2012, I myself was doing poorly written standup comedy bits about how our government funded both sides of the war in Afghanistan. This goes to show that the mainstream media has two priorities—one is to spout the U.S. government’s talking points, and the other is to distract us all from the whitewashing of history.

They help Americans believe that we just found out about the failures in Afghanistan; that we just started McCarthyism, and it didn’t happen before in the 1950s to horrific consequences; that we just now discovered the breathtaking environmental consequences of factory farming. (I’m kidding—corporate media will never report on that. You could have a CNN anchor tied up in a sack in Gitmo, and he would still refuse to admit factory animal farming is killing the planet at an aggressive pace.)

But Blitzer wasn’t content pretending to be shocked that the Afghanistan War isn’t going well, so he put his acting chops to the test by further postulating that there also might be flaws with the war in Iraq. He said, “I can only imagine and brace for a similar report about the long U.S. war in Iraq as well. I suspect that could be some horrifying news as far as that is concerned also.”

That’s right: As of last month, Blitzer thinks there might be some problems with the war(s) in Iraq. (Blitzer strikes me as the type of guy who wouldn’t notice if you stole his pants off him in negative-10-degree weather.) Yes, Wolf, not only has there been similar mismanagement and mass war crimes committed in our invasion of Iraq, but you, in fact, helped manufacture consent for that war as well. You are complicit in the deaths of millions of people who will never come back from numberization.

Throughout the past 20 years, the mainstream media reiterated the lies told by our various presidents. They beat those lies into our heads with impressive frequency. Lies like those told by President Obama, when, in 2012, he said on national television: “Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. … Our troops will be coming home. … As our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thrilled for the war to be over in 2014—whenever 2014 may come.

3,800 contractors have died in Afghanistan for these lies.

The Afghanistan Papers show that not only has the 20-year war been wasteful of human life, it’s also been wasteful of money. Of course, this is the point when you think, “The military— wasteful?! Well, paint my nipples and call me Phyllis Diller; that’s the damnedest thing I ever did hear!”

Yes, this is hardly shocking, since $21 trillion has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon over the past 20 years. That’s two-thirds of the amount of money wrapped up in the entire stock market. Money has been flowing into Afghanistan so fast that officials aren’t even able to waste it quick enough! (I wish that were a joke.)

From the Post’s report, again: “One executive at USAID guessed that 90 percent of what they spent was overkill: ‘We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.’ … One contractor said he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a US county.”

The contractor said he couldn’t conceive of how to spend $3 million a day for people literally living in mud huts. Well, I guess USAID should start handing out furniture built out of blocks of shrink-wrapped hundred-dollar notes. Maybe fill bean bag chairs with small bills. (If you aren’t yet outraged enough, please keep in mind that, according to The New York Times, adjusting for today’s dollars, it would take less than eight days of the Pentagon’s stated budget to give the entire world clean water for a year, thereby saving millions of lives and turning the U.S. into the most beloved nation on earth.)

But rather than accept our own corruption and war profiteering, our military placed the blame squarely on the Afghan people. Per The Washington Post, “The U.S. military also accused Afghan commanders of pocketing salaries—paid by U.S. taxpayers—for tens of thousands of ‘ghost soldiers.’ 

Although ghost soldiers sound like an incredible and tough-to-defeat resource, I think they meant the Afghan commanders claimed they had a certain number of soldiers, but most weren’t real. So America can’t fund the health care of our own goddamn real soldiers who get home and wait in line for months to secure any semblance of care, but we can fund ghost soldiers half a world away?!

Donald Trump just cut food stamps to 700,000 people, impacting more than a million children, but we’re funding fucking ghosts? Maybe we could start a campaign asking the ghost soldiers to donate some of their supper to the starving kids of America.

Ghosts seem to be an ongoing difficulty for the U.S. In the same issue of The Washington Post containing the Afghanistan Papers, there was an unrelated article titled, “The U.S. Wasted Millions on Charter Schools” that said, “A report found that [during the Obama Administration] 537 ‘ghost schools’ in America never opened but received more than $45.5 million in federal start-up funding.”

Apparently we’re funding ghost schools and ghost soldiers, and almost nobody in our government seems to give a shit! I guess you could say they give a ghost shit—it’s not really there.

Yet the problems in our forever war don’t stop at the walking dead. The Post says, “The US has spent $9 billion to fight the problem [of opium] over the past 18 years, but Afghan farmers are cultivating more opium poppies than ever. Last year, Afghanistan was responsible for 82 percent of global opium production.”

But what The Washington Post doesn’t tell you is that a lot of that opium was for use inside the U.S., to fuel our opioid epidemic.

An American becomes a number every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose.

So how does our government respond when revelations like the Afghanistan Papers come out? A few senators pause in the middle of their T-bone steaks and red wine to say, “This needs to be looked into, I daresay.” But then a few days pass and they just give the Pentagon more money to sink into a black hole.

The spending bill just passed by Congress sends $738 billion to the Pentagon. And, as RootsAction stated, it contains “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy. It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump.”

To put it mildly, asking the Democrats to stand up against endless war is like asking Anne Hathaway to bench-press a Chevy Tahoe. It’s not going to happen, and she has no interest in even trying.

42,000 Taliban and insurgents have been numberized.

That may sound like a successful war to some, but keep in mind that the U.S. military likes to categorize anyone it kills “an insurgent.” The Pentagon goes by the theory that if it kills you, then you’re an insurgent—because if you weren’t an insurgent, then why did it kill you? A great many of the 42,000 were truly innocent civilians.

If there’s one thing we should learn from the Afghanistan Papers, which the mainstream corporate media have already ceased talking about, it’s that ending these immoral, illegal, repulsive wars cannot be left to our breathtakingly incompetent and corrupt ruling elite, who have probably been lying to us about them for decades. So it’s up to you and me to stop them.

Lee Camp’s new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” with a foreword by Chris Hedges is available for pre-sale at LeeCampBook.com.

This column is based on a monologue Lee Camp wrote and performed on his TV show “Redacted Tonight.”

Feature photo | Blank military dog tags hang in a memorial honoring fallen soldiers from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the grounds of Old North Church, in Boston, Nov. 7, 2018. Steven Senne | AP

Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of the weekly comedy news TV show “Redacted Tonight With Lee Camp” on RT America. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years.

This article was published with special permission from the author. It originally appeared at Truthdig.

The post Lee Camp: The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof) appeared first on MintPress News.

After 18 Years of US Occupation, Poll Finds Zero Percent of Afghans Thriving, 85 Percent “Suffering”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/01/2020 - 5:38am in

American polling firm Gallup has found that Afghans are the saddest people on earth, finding that nearly nine in ten respondents are “suffering,” in their own words, with zero percent claiming that they are currently “thriving.” When asked to rate their life out of a score of ten, Afghans gave an average answer of 2.7, a record low for any country studied. Worse still, when asked to predict the quality of their life in five years, the average answer was even lower: 2.3.

As the study mentioned, “the unprecedented finding highlights Afghans’ near-universal lack of optimism.” In more than a decade of data collection around the world on the topic, this is the first time that any population predicted that their future lives would be worse than their current ones. This, to Gallup, was “all the more notable” due to Afghanistan’s very young population; two-thirds of those interviewed were aged 35 or under. Less than half of the country said they experienced enjoyment or were treated with respect in the previous day, while 52 percent admitted to worrying for much of the day, up 10 percentage points from 2016.


Source | Gallup

Remarkably, the study does not mention the 18-year U.S.-led invasion and occupation of the country as a potential explanatory factor for their suffering. In fact, it explicitly warns against an American withdrawal, arguing that it would “strengthen the Taliban’s grip” over the country, thus, tacitly endorsing the U.S. government and presenting the military as a force for good in the region. 

The United States attacked Afghanistan in October 2001, invading just weeks after the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. It justified the decision on the inaccurate claim that the Taliban were not willing to negotiate handing over top suspect Osama Bin Laden. Since 2001, the occupation and fighting have not stopped, destroying the country in the process and leading to the U.S. spending an estimated $2 trillion on the war. The U.S. military and its allies are the number one killers in the country. Despite this, the Taliban is now in a stronger position than at any time in the last two decades, controlling more territory than it did in 2001.

The human cost of the conflict is clear but quantifiable statistics are sparse. The World Bank estimates that the number of Afghans living in poverty rose from 9.1 million in 2007 to 19.3 million in 2016. The average income is less than 2,000 U.S. Dollars per year, one of the lowest of any country in the world.

This is not the first time that Gallup has downplayed its explosive findings that imply a strongly anti-imperialist message. In 2014, it surveyed world public opinion on which country they believed was the greatest threat to world peace. The overwhelming number one choice was the United States, with a quarter of those polled selecting the U.S. out of nearly 200 countries.  Even in closely allied states like Germany, fear of America was highest. Pakistan was a distant second, buoyed by a large Indian vote in the survey. Gallup decided not to ask the question again. A December poll from the Pew Research Center also showed a majority of Mexicans consider the U.S. the greatest threat to their country.

In December, the Afghanistan Papers were leaked to the Washington Post. In what political commentator Kyle Kulinski described as the worst media failure of 2019, the documents revealed that high-level military officers believed that the war was unwinnable, but that knowledge was kept from the public by the government who deliberately misled the public since the invasion. Kulinski decried the near “total lack of coverage” of the news. “We were lied to all throughout the war, every step of the way” he said; “18 years we’ve been at war…no good has come from it.”

On the Afghanistan Papers, MintPress News contributor Medea Benjamin said:

The debacle in Afghanistan is only one case in a fundamentally flawed U.S. policy with worldwide consequences. New quasi-governments installed by U.S. “regime change” in country after country have proven more corrupt, less legitimate and less able to control their nation’s territory than the ones the U.S. has destroyed.

She argued that there is a single premise that Washington “refuses to learn”: that the underlying fault is not in how the U.S. tries to change societies through regime change, but in the “fundamental illegitimacy of regime change itself.” While the Trump administration has made a few noises about a withdrawal from Afghanistan, successive regimes before it have made similar proclamations. And with the recent deployment of 4,000 extra troops to Iraq, it doesn’t appear that the Middle East will have anything to smile about any time soon.

Feature photo | A man repairs the roof of a house on the hills surrounding Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 25, 2019. Altaf Qadri | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

The post After 18 Years of US Occupation, Poll Finds Zero Percent of Afghans Thriving, 85 Percent “Suffering” appeared first on MintPress News.

In Some Weird Countries, Elections Depend Entirely on Religious Fanatics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/01/2020 - 6:14pm in

There is a Civil War between Christian evangelists in the United States over whether or not to support Donald Trump. Some Christians point to his moral degeneracy. Others say that God often works with flawed people. I just wonder, why do we have to care about what these crazy people think?

WATCH: The Afghanistan Papers Are Establishment Whitewash BS

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/12/2019 - 3:00am in

The Afghanistan Papers! The Afghanistan Papers! Everyone is talking about the Afghanistan Papers! These “incredible” documents must be full of “explosive revelations” about the US-led NATO invasion and 18-year presence in Afghanistan, right? That’s what everyone is saying. But what if I were to tell you that this “bombshell” report from The Washington Post isn’t …

The Real Lesson of Afghanistan? Regime Change Does Not Work

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/12/2019 - 1:49am in

The trove of U.S. “Lessons Learned” documents on Afghanistan published by the Washington Post portrays, in excruciating detail, the anatomy of a failed policy, scandalously hidden from the public for 18 years. The “Lessons Learned” papers, however, are based on the premise that the U.S. and its allies will keep intervening militarily in other countries, and that they must, therefore, learn the lessons of Afghanistan to avoid making the same mistakes in future military occupations. 

This premise misses the obvious lesson that Washington insiders refuse to learn: the underlying fault is not in how the U.S. tries and fails to reconstruct societies destroyed by its “regime changes,” but in the fundamental illegitimacy of regime change itself. As former Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz told NPR just eight days after 9/11, “It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done. If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t approve of what has happened.”

The “Lessons Learned” documents reveal the persistent efforts of three administrations to hide their colossal failures behind a wall of propaganda in order to avoid admitting defeat and to keep “muddling along,” as General McChrystal has described it. In Afghanistan, muddling along has meant dropping over 80,000 bombs and missiles, nearly all on people who had nothing to do with the crimes of September 11th, exactly as Ben Ferencz predicted.

How many people have been killed in Afghanistan is contested and essentially unknown. The UN has published minimum confirmed numbers of civilians killed since 2007, but as Fiona Frazer, the UN human rights chief in Kabul, admitted to the BBC in August 2019, “more civilians are killed or injured in Afghanistan due to armed conflict than anywhere else on Earth…(but) due to rigorous methods of verification, the published figures almost certainly do not reflect the true scale of harm.” The UN only counts civilian deaths in incidents where it has completed human rights investigations, and it has little or no access to the remote Taliban-held areas where most U.S. airstrikes and “kill or capture” raids take place. So, as Fiona Frazer suggested, the UN’s published figures can be only a fraction of the true numbers of people killed. 

It shouldn’t take 18 years for U.S. officials to publicly admit that there is no military solution to a murderous and unwinnable war for which the U.S. is politically and legally responsible. But the debacle in Afghanistan is only one case in a fundamentally flawed U.S. policy with worldwide consequences. New quasi-governments installed by U.S. “regime changes” in country after country have proven more corrupt, less legitimate and less able to control their nation’s territory than the ones the U.S. has destroyed, leaving their people mired in endless violence and chaos that no form of continued U.S. occupation can repair.


A physiotherapist helps nine-year-old Eimal, who has lost his right eye and several fingers on his hands in a landmine blast, stretch at Emergency Surgical Center for Civilian War Victims in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2019. Altaf Qadri | AP

“Regime change” is a process of coercion designed to impose the political will of the U.S. government on countries around the world, violating their sovereignty and self-determination with an arsenal of military, economic and political weapons:

  1. Delegitimization. The first step in targeting a country for regime change is to delegitimize its existing government in the eyes of U.S. and allied publics, with targeted propaganda or “information warfare” to demonize its president or prime minister. Painting foreign leaders as villains in a personalized Manichean drama psychologically prepares the American public for U.S. coercion to remove them from power. One lesson for those of us opposed to regime change operations is that we must challenge these campaigns at this first stage if we want to prevent their escalation. For example, Russia and China today both have strong defenses, including nuclear weapons, making a U.S. war with either of them predictably catastrophic, or even suicidal. So why is the U.S. stoking a new Cold War against them? Is the military-industrial complex threatening us with extinction only to justify record military budgets? Why is serious diplomacy to negotiate peaceful coexistence and disarmament “off the table,” when it should be an existential priority?    
  1. Sanctions. Using economic sanctions as a tool to force political change in other countries is deadly and illegal. Sanctions kill people by denying them food, medicine and other basic necessities. UN sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the 1990s. Today, unilateral U.S. sanctions are killing tens of thousands in Iran and Venezuela. This is illegal under international law and has been vigorously condemned by UN special rapporteurs. Professor Robert Pape’s research shows that economic sanctions have only achieved political change in 4 percent of cases. So their main purpose in U.S. policy is to fuel deadly economic and humanitarian crises that can then serve as pretexts for other forms of U.S. intervention.
  1. Coups and proxy wars. Coups and proxy wars have long been the weapons of choice when U.S. officials want to overthrow foreign governments. Recent U.S.-backed coups in Honduras, Ukraine and now Bolivia have removed elected governments and installed right-wing U.S.-backed regimes. The U.S. has relied more heavily on coups and proxy wars in the wake of its military disasters in Korea, Vietnam, and now Afghanistan and Iraq, to attempt regime change without the political liability of heavy U.S. military casualties. Under Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war, the U.S. worked with Qatari ground forces in Libya, al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and military leaders in Honduras. But outsourcing regime change to local coup leaders and proxy forces adds even more uncertainty to the outcome, making proxy wars like the one in Syria predictably bloody, chaotic and intractable.
  1. Bombing campaigns. U.S. bombing campaigns minimize U.S. casualties but wreak untold and uncounted death and destruction on both enemies and innocents. Like “regime change,” “precision weapons” is a euphemism designed to obscure the horror of war. Rob Hewson, the editor of the arms trade journal Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, told the AP during the “Shock and Awe” bombing of Iraq in 2003 that the accuracy of U.S. precision weapons was only 75-80%, meaning that thousands of bombs and missiles predictably missed their targets and killed random civilians. As Rob Hewson said. “… you can’t drop bombs and not kill people. There’s a real dichotomy in all of this.” After Mosul and Raqqa were destroyed in the U.S.-led anti-IS campaign that has dropped over 100,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq and Syria since 2014, journalist Patrick Cockburn described Raqqa as “bombed to oblivion,” and revealed that Iraqi Kurdish intelligence reports had counted at least 40,000 civilians killed in Mosul.
  1. Invasion and hostile military occupation. The infamous “last resort” of full-scale war is predicated on the idea that, if nothing else works, the U.S.’ trillion-dollar military can surely get the job done. This dangerous presumption led the U.S. into military quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan despite its previous “lessons learned” in Vietnam, underlining the central unlearned lesson that war itself is a catastrophe. In Iraq, journalist Nir Rosen described the U.S. occupation force as “lost in Iraq…unable to wield any power except on the immediate street corner where it’s located.” Today, about 6,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, confined to their bases, under frequent missile attack, while a new generation of Iraqis rises up to reclaim their country from the corrupt former exiles the U.S. flew in with its invasion forces 17 years ago.

Any responsible government Americans elect in 2020 must learn from the well-documented failure and catastrophic human cost of U.S. regime change efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Venezuela, Iran and now Bolivia. 

Afghanistan War

A police officer carries his injured daughter after an attack near a U.S. Air Base In Parwan province of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 11, 2019. Rahmat Gul | AP

These “lessons learned” should lead to U.S. withdrawal from the countries we have wrecked, opening the way for the UN and other legitimate mediators to come in and help their people to form sovereign, independent governments and to resolve the intractable secondary conflicts that U.S. wars and covert operations have unleashed.

Secondly, the U.S. must conduct global diplomatic outreach to make peace with our enemies, end our illegal sanctions and threats, and reassure the people of the world that they need no longer fear and arm themselves against the threat of U.S. aggression. The most potent signals that we have really turned over a new leaf would be serious cuts in the U.S. military budget – we currently outspend the next seven or eight militaries combined, despite our endless military failures; a reduction in U.S. conventional forces and weapons to the level needed to meet our country’s legitimate defense needs; and the closure of most of the hundreds of U.S. military bases on the territories of other nations, which amount to a global military occupation.

Maybe most vitally, the U.S. should reduce the threat of the most catastrophic of all wars, nuclear war, by finally complying with its obligations under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the U.S. and other nuclear-armed countries to move towards “full and complete nuclear disarmament.” 

In 2019, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists kept the hands of its Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight, symbolizing that we are as close to self-destruction as we have ever been. Its 2019 statement cited the double danger of climate change and nuclear war: “Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention.” So it is a matter of survival for the U.S. to cooperate with the rest of the world to achieve major breakthroughs on both these fronts.

If this seems far-fetched or overly ambitious, that is a measure of how far we have strayed from the sanity, humanity and peaceful cooperation we will need to survive this century. A world in which war is normal and peace is out of reach is no more survivable or sustainable than a world where the atmosphere gets hotter every year. Permanently ending this entire U.S. policy of coercive regime change is, therefore, a political, moral and existential imperative.

Feature photo | A U.S. soldier takes position in Mush Kahel village, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, July 23, 2012. Andrew Baker | DoD

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK for Peace, is the author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher for CODEPINK, and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

The post The Real Lesson of Afghanistan? Regime Change Does Not Work appeared first on MintPress News.

Remember When Military Veterans Ran on Actual Records of Accomplishment?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/12/2019 - 6:03pm in

He was a difficult personality and his policy toward Native Americans was atrocious, but Andrew Jackson had an actual record of military accomplishment when he ran for president. No one could argue that Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t ready for the presidency when he ran. Dwight Eisenhower led the biggest naval armada in human history and played a crucial role in defeating Adolf Hitler. JFK is experience as the captain of the PT 109 during World War II was a legendary example of grace, courage and leadership under terrible circumstances. Now Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who by all accounts never experienced combat, is bragging about his desk work in Afghanistan to convince us to vote for him.

The “Afghanistan Papers”: Deep State narrative management

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/12/2019 - 5:00am in

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.

Has Tory Victory Emboldened the Islamophobes?

Zelo Street yesterday posted an article that ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins has slithered out from under whatever stone she hides under, and endorsed the Tories. And in doing so made some clearly islamophobic and racist comments directed at the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Sayeeda Warsi.

Hopkins started off by gloating about the extent of Bozo’s majority. She tweeted

Boris majority on track to be bigger than Thatchers or Blair’s. Incredible turn from Labour to Tory in unthinkable seats like Redcar, jihadi-central-Stoke & Workington … Formally out of the EU in December … Nationalism is back in Britain. Time to put British people first.

Zelo Street points out that Thatcher had a majority of 140 in 1983 and Blair 180 in 1997, both of which were much larger than the Blonde Beast’s 80.

Ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Tories lost half their seats in Scotland, she declared that the ‘Ginger Dwarf from the North’ does not speak for all Scots. Which I’m sure she doesn’t, just as Bozo definitely doesn’t speak for all of Britain. But Sturgeon speaks for the majority of Scots.

As Zelo Street’s article showed, Hatey Katie then posted a meme saying ‘Safer to be in Syria’ and tweeted

We have taken back control of England from leftists & those who wish to see this country fail. Now it is time to take back our capital city. Time to Make London Great Again.

Which she then followed with

Now that nationalists are in control of England, we begin the fight back for London … It’s time to kick Sadiq Khan out of office.

She tried to make this not sound racist by including ‘love to my Indian family’, but the islamophobic and racist subtext is very clear.

She then tweeted at Sayeeda Warsi when she sent a message saying that her party must begin healing its relationship with Muslims

It’s our party now Warsi. Time you stepped down, love. Way down.

This was followed by

Your party? Hold on a minute sister. I think you will find it’s OUR party now. Britain has Boris and a blue collar army. Nationalism is back. British people first.

Zelo Street points out that Warsi is British, because she was born in Dewsbury. But Hopkins doesn’t mean that. Hopkins then went on to post a picture of a letter box, saying that this reminded her to post her Christmas cards. She then sent another tweet in the direction of Sadiq Khan, saying

Don’t think of it as a dark day darling. Think of it as a brilliant awakening. Britain is fighting back for its own.

As Zelo Street points out, the doesn’t consider Khan British either, because he isn’t white.

Tim concludes

‘Bozo’s victory has emboldened the racists. I’ll just leave that one there.’

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/katie-hopkins-full-tory-english-racist.html

Absolutely. Yesterday I found that a supporter of Tommy Robinson had posted a series of comments on this blog. One was objecting to my article about Mike Stuchbery suing Robinson for libel after Robinson and his storm troopers turned up at Stuchbery’s house banging on the windows and doors at all hours. In addition to demanding that Stuchbery come out to talk to them, they also accused him of being a paedophile. Stuchbery’s a teacher, and so this has made his job in England very difficult and he’s moved to Germany. But Robinson’s supporters see their leader as absolutely innocent of all wrongdoing, and claim that Stuchbery had doxed Robinson by putting up pictures of his house. Which I don’t believe Stuchbery did.

They also gloated about the extent of the Tory victory, and accused Corbyn of supporting Islamist terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah, and the IRA over here. Which he doesn’t. They also posted this comment

Oh, and if you think Islam is so wonderful, I suggest you move to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran then you can see what life is really like under Sharia Law.

They’re talking to the wrong person here. I’m not a Muslim, but I studied Islam as part of a minor degree in Religious Studies when I was at College in the 1970s. This was during the Satanic Verses controversy, and I am very well aware of the bigotry in certain sections of British Islam, and the problems confronting the Islamic world. These are social, political and economic stagnation, an absence and in some cases complete rejection of democratic government and modern human rights, corruption and religious intolerance. However, none of these are unique to Islam. As I’ve pointed out, Christianity and the West passed through similar crises in the 19th and 20th centuries, and I’ve read works by a French anthropologist arguing that Islamism is the result of a similar crisis in Islam as it grapples with modernity. As reader of this blog will be aware, I also call out and denounce Islamist bigotry as well as other forms of racism, including islamophobia.

Some of the problems facing the Islamic world have been greatly exacerbated by outside, western interference. Saudi Arabia has gained its powerful position in the Middle East through support by the West, who have used it as a bulwark against secular Arab nationalism in the Middle East. The rise of Islamism in Algeria was partly encouraged by the country’s politically Conservative regime. They saw it as a peaceful alternative to the radical socialism preached by intellectuals with a French education. And there are movement for greater political freedom and feminism within the Islamic world.

Also, just ’cause Muslim countries are a mess doesn’t mean that Muslims over here want to turn Britain into an Islamic state or import some of the elements of Islamic politics that have held these countries back. Yes, you can find the intolerant bigots ranting against Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and so on, and there are those, who would like to turn Britain into an Islamic state. But I’ve also seen them challenged by other British Muslims. There have been demonstrations against bigots like Kalam Sadeequi and the rest. And when Akhthar and his crew were burning copies of the Satanic Verses in Bradford, one of the Islam lecturers from my old College went up there to argue with them, quoting chapter and verse from the Qu’ran why this was wrong. And attempts to launch Islamist parties over here have hardly been impressive. I remember back in the 1980s or early ’90s there was a British Islamic party launched. But it seems to have vanished without trace. If it was Hizb ut Tahrir, then this may have been because it was banned as a terrorist organisation. I’m sure you can find some far left morons, who support it and feel it should be given a voice, but they are very few and far between, despite the Islamophobic propaganda. And Hizb ut Tahrir and groups like it, from what I’ve seen, have never commanded a mass membership.

The wider Muslim community in this country thus should not be accused of terrorism or terrorist sympathies, based on the actions of the Islamist radicals. Nor should they be seen as somehow less British than anyone else in the UK.

Taken with Hopkins’ tweets attacking praising the Tories and attacking Warsi and Sadiq Khan for being Muslims, these comments do seem quite ominous. It reinforces Zelo Street’s conclusion that the Tory victory has emboldened the racist right. After Johnson published his noxious comments about Muslim women in burqas, there was an increase in Islamophobic attacks. And certainly racist incidents have been on the rise since the emergence of UKIP and the Brexit party. Brexit does seem to have encouraged racist Whites to believe that they can get away with the abuse and assault of ethnic minorities. I might be wrong – I hope I am – but I won’t be surprise if we can expect a further increase in racist incidents.

The Conservatives have always played on racism, and Johnson’s victory is going to make this worse. 

The U.S. Government Lied about the Afghanistan War. They Couldn’t Have Done It without Lapdogs like the Washington Post.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/12/2019 - 6:34am in

Image result for afghanistan war"

            “In ten years or so, we’ll leak the truth,” the Dead Kennedys sang. “But by then it’s only so much paper.”

            But it might just score you a Pulitzer Prize.

            Award bait and bragging rights are no doubt the principal goals of The Washington Post’s self-congratulatory data dump, “The Afghanistan Papers.” As the headline implies, the 2000 pages that a court ordered the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to release to Jeff Bezos’ newspaper paints a Robert McNamara-esque portrait of not-so-best-or-bright Bush and Obama Administration bozos privately admitting what they knew all along—that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was always an unwinnable, counterproductive mistake—at the same time they were telling the American people that victory in the post-9/11 “good war” was right around the corner. All we had to win was win Afghan hearts and minds.

            “The [I.G.] documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting,” the Post reported. “Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul—and at the White House—to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.”

            “The Afghanistan Papers” is a bright, shining lie by omission. Yes, our military and civilian leaders lied to us about Afghanistan. But they could never have spread their murderous BS—thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghans killed, trillions of dollars wasted—without media organizations like the Washington Post, which served as unquestioning government stenographers.

            Press outlets like the Post and New York Times weren’t merely idiots used to disseminate pro-war propaganda. They actively censored people who knew we never should have gone into Afghanistan and tried to tell American voters the truth.

            People like me.

            I was among the tiny minority of journalists and commentators who opposed the Afghanistan war from the very beginning. Nine days after 9/11, I published the first of my cartoons pointing out that Al Qaeda was in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, so there was no moral or legal justification for invading. As the war dragged on I pointed out that the men and women in charge of the war didn’t have a clue about Afghanistan or the Afghan people. According to “The Afghanistan Papers,” those men and women knew they were screwing up, wouldn’t admit their ignorance and refused to bring in experts.

            I went to Afghanistan to check things out for myself. It was obvious the U.S. didn’t stand a chance there. “The principal goal of this adventure in imperialistic vengeance, it seems obvious, should be to install a friendly government in Kabul. But we’re winning neither hearts nor minds among either the commoners or the leadership of the current regime apparent,” I wrote from Afghanistan on December 11, 2001. “And so we’ve lost this war, not because they’re good or we’re not, but because of who we are. The American Empire can’t spend the bodies or the time or the cash to fix this crazyass place, because in the final analysis, election-year W. was right—we’re not nation builders…we ought to tally our dead, write up our losses, and count ourselves lucky to still be called a superpower.” My piece, for The Village Voice, was titled “How We Lost Afghanistan.”

            It was published eighteen years ago. But not in the Post. They didn’t want to hear what lefties like me had to say.

            They still don’t.

            Afghanistan was not a passing fancy for me. I wrote hundreds of essays and drew hundreds of cartoons urging an end to the madness. It was lonely. Even Democrats liked the Afghan war; they called it the right war while Iraq was the dumb one.

            I went back to the country, traveling independently as an unembedded reporter, several times. I wrote the first book about the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the only book about oil pipeline politics in that country, a book placing Afghanistan in the context of Central Asia, and yet another book comparing the state of Afghanistan when Obama said we were pulling out—another lie—with how it was at the start of the war.

            What was my reward for being right while everyone else was wrong? Hundreds of death threats. Getting fired by my client newspapers and magazines. It’s hard to believe now but back in 2004 George W. Bush was popular and being compared to Winston Churchill; that was the year that the “liberal” New York Times and Washington Post stopped running my work.

            Major news outlets and book reviewers ignored my books. Editors refused to hire me. Producers wouldn’t book me. Anyone opposed to the Afghanistan war was censored from U.S. corporate media.

            Not that Afghanistan was ignored. It was the subject of countless analysis pieces and opinion articles in American newspapers—all of it pro-war propaganda. There were thousands of television and radio stories about the Afghan war on radio and television. Corporate media repeatedly trotted out the same retired generals, former CIA officers, and random right-wing warmongers for quotes and analysis. Never, ever did they invite critics or opponents of U.S. interventionism in Afghanistan to share their thoughts with readers, listeners and viewers.

            Nothing has changed. Whenever there is a foreign policy “crisis,” you will never read or hear or see someone completely opposed to U.S. involvement given a voice in the media. Certainly not in the Post.

            So, 18 years and tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars too late, it’s nice to see the media finally shame these scumbags and their government handlers. But they ought to save a big portion of the blame for themselves.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

Lessons From The Lies In Afghanistan and Vietnam

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/12/2019 - 3:28pm in

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afghanistan

So, the news of the day is that reports from Afghanistan were and essentially ALL lies, all biased to the upside.

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” said Col. Bob Crowley. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

What is surprising about this is—nothing. Absolutely nothing. Only an idiot expected anything else. This is news on the par of “most people like sex.”

We live in an incredibly stupid age, where we have to prove in tedious detail the obvious over and over again.

For those who don’t remember, the Vietnam war reports were also all lies. All. Every enemy casualty figure, for example.

Let’s simplify this:

Letting people self-report their results when their career depends on getting good results will always lead to wrong numbers.

This is one of the reasons I don’t belong to the cult of measurement and metrics “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and all that tripe. What you measure is always being manipulated by those you manage. If there’s a way to manipulate it, they do, and those ways are almost always destructive.

But as a very simple, basic thing, the people who measure the numbers and give qualitative feedback (often far more useful, despite our cult of data) must be completely insulated from any career impact except based on “are the results accurate?”

You cannot have generals in charge of the people doing the number gathering, because generals want people to think they are winning the war.

In general, if I were ever put in charge of a very large organization, including a government or major military, the first thing I would do (and I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about this) is create an audit department which is not part of the line or staff organization.

Getting accurate feedback is hard. It’s especially hard at the top. It’s why smart leaders maintain a vertical presence: they talk to people in all parts of the organization and they cut past their senior executives. There are a lot of forms of this: Steve Jobs did it by just walking around and asking employees to explain to him what they were doing.

Coming back to the current question: non-existential wars are hard to get accurate information on. America is not actually at ANY significant risk if it loses in Afghanistan. Nor was it in Iraq, or Vietnam or any war it has fought in well over a century (though losing WWII would have had nasty consequences, the US was not going to be invaded and any fantasies otherwise are delusional.)

Nor, in most cases, do key decision makers or their children fight on the front lines. The last time the children of the powerful really fought in a war was WWII. So they don’t actually care, they don’t have pipelines in for information, (because their class are worthless aristocrats who don’t fight, not nobles who do), and in fact, they’re probably making money from the war: transmuting blood into gold, without risking their blood or the blood of anyone they care about.

So who cares if a bunch of poor whites (who make up most of the combat infantry in the US) are getting killed, maimed and fucked up psychologically for the rest of their lives? Let alone how many foreigners are getting whacked.

Thus, accurate reports generally aren’t wanted. It’s not important to win, it’s only important to look like you’re winning (and be able to claim you won, like in Iraq, even if you lost). Oh, and to keep the military-industrial gold spigot flowing.

Lying is the point. It serves the interest of everyone in power. It’s bad for enlisted folks and the few low-ranking officers who are actually on the pointy end, but otherwise, lies are what is wanted.

You don’t get “it’s ALL lies” unless everyone in power wants or tolerates that.

This is a microcosm of one of the core problems in the US and the West. The numbers are almost all massaged; all wrong. When I looked into labor force, inflation and employment numbers in the early 2000s, I came to the conclusion they couldn’t be trusted at all (productivity numbers are particularly bullshit.) The extreme poverty numbers are absolute bullshit, but even the regular poverty numbers in most countries are garbage, because they haven’t kept up: you can’t actually compare those numbers to the 50s, say, in most cases.

If the feedback you’re getting is incorrect, you will either make wrong decisions, or you want to make wrong decisions which is why you’re falsifying the numbers.

Now the numbers usually aren’t completely false (except in Afghanistan), but they are false enough that by the time they go really red, you’ve been in trouble for a long time. By the time key numbers of middle class decline went red, for example, the middle class should have already been an operating theatre with a surgeon screaming for electric paddles.

Feedback matters. Data matters. Lying about them kills people; lots of people and makes even more suffer. This is particularly obvious in a war zone, but it is true in everything of consequence.

So start by not letting people self-evaluate when their careers or money or prestige depends on it. Because the issue isn’t giving generals or politicians good careers, it’s about winning wars or having an economy which is good for the vast majority of the population.

Some money would be rather useful, as I don’t get paid by the piece. If you want to support my writing, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

 

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