Sunday Roast: The Death of a Butterfly

by Chris Streich

The New York Times

There was a suicide bombing in Afghanistan the other day.  So far away…the other side of the world.  It means so little in our daily lives.  What does it have to do with us anyway…?

At 8 years old, with freckles and a penchant for frilly dresses and soccer cleats, Parwana was just as I was at that age: equal parts tomboy and little princess. In the last few weeks, she had begun to wear a head scarf, but she clearly was not willing to grow up completely just yet. She was the undisputed ringleader of the little girls, and enough of a spitfire to give the bigger boys as good as she got.

She could belong to any one of us, really.  But she doesn’t.  She doesn’t belong to anyone now…except maybe our consciences.  We hear of another suicide bombing on the other side of the world, and think “Not again,” for about 10 seconds, and then it’s gone.

But this time, we see a face.  We can’t un-see her.  Because sometimes in this world, heroes come in the form of an eight year old child and her friends, who, beside skateboarding, loved nothing more than standing up to a big “bad boy.”

Her name was Parwana, which means “Butterfly” in Dari.  She gave all she had to give, and it has everything to do with us.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 1st, 2012: And Your Advice is Worth???

I like to check out Foreign Policy Magazine online now and again for different stories and viewpoints. You can imagine my surprise today when I saw an article titled “How to Beat Obama”, written by…wait for it…Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Yes, Karl Rove, despite being wrong nearly as often as William Kristol, still thinks that his advice would be helpful to the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. Check out some of the pearls of wisdom Karl and Ed are offering:

“In an American election focused on a lousy economy and high unemployment, conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy is one of Barack Obama’s few strong suits. But the president is strikingly vulnerable in this area. The Republican who leads the GOP ticket can attack him on what Obama mistakenly thinks is his major strength by translating the center-right critique of his foreign policy into campaign themes and action. Here’s how to beat him.

First, the Republican nominee should adopt a confident, nationalist tone emphasizing American exceptionalism, expressing pride in the United States as a force for good in the world, and advocating for an America that is once again respected (and, in some quarters, feared) as the preeminent global power. Obama acts as if he sees the United States as a flawed giant, a mistake that voters already perceive. After all, this is the president who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Voters also sense he is content to manage America’s decline to a status where the United States is just one country among many.”

Ah, yes, the “American Exceptionalism” cliche – Americans are somehow inherently better than the rest of the world, and we damn well don’t need to pay attention to any of those lesser people in all of those other crappy countries. America is a flawless giant, dammit, and just look at how perceptive American voters are, too!

“The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head.”

Karl, do you remember anything of the presidency of George W. Bush, or have you simply blocked it all out?

“The Republican candidate must address at least four vital areas. The most important is the struggle that will define this century’s arc: radical Islamic terrorism. He should make the case that victory must be America’s national goal, not merely seeking to “delegitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” as Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy put it. As in the Cold War, victory will require sustained U.S. involvement and a willingness to deploy all tools of influence — from diplomacy to economic ties, from intelligence efforts to military action.”

I thought that this 2012 election was all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – oh, wait, that was the 2010 mid-terms, or…well some election was/is supposed to be about JOBS…I think.

“Second, the Republican candidate must condemn the president’s precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan and his deep, dangerous defense-budget cuts. Both are viewed skeptically by the military: The former emboldens America’s adversaries and discourages its allies; the latter is of deep concern to veterans and other Americans who doubt Obama’s commitment to the military.”

Jeebus knows that we don’t want to “precipitously” leave Afghanistan after, what, only eleven years or so? And didn’t I hear that President Obama has actually increased the defense budget?

“During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.”

“In part because of how he has mishandled the Iranian threat, Obama has lost much political and financial support in the American Jewish community. His approach to Israel must be presented as similarly weak and untrustworthy. The Republican candidate must make clear the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran…”

We certainly wouldn’t want Israel to defend itself all alone, with only a few hundred nuclear weapons, against a possible/future/maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, now would we?

Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria). The Republican nominee should criticize Obama for not understanding that the U.S. president’s personal engagement is essential for effective global leadership. Obama’s lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America’s erstwhile allies, is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president’s hands-off approach.

If the Republican candidate turns out to be Mitt Romney, our allies (and enemies, too!) will be SO overwhelmed by the “warm and fuzzies.” So, President Obama hasn’t been calling al-Maliki and Karzai as much as Rove and Gillespie think he should? What are they, Obama’s mother?

“Because the fall campaign must be devoted to promoting the Republican message on jobs and the economy, the GOP nominee must share his big foreign-policy vision no later than early summer.”

“The fourth line of attack must be about America’s fragile economy and how to restore it. Many voters think Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been inconsistent and even counterproductive.”

Of course, talking about jobs and the economy can wait until the fall – it gives the Republican nominee that much more time to think of something other than “cut taxes and regulations for corporations” and “make the Bush tax cuts permanent.”

“Undoubtedly, Obama will attempt to preempt criticism of his foreign policy by repeating endlessly that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. By campaign’s end, some voters will wonder whether the president personally delivered the kill shot.”

Yes, undoubtedly, ’cause that’s what Rove and Gillespie would do – it would definitely convince “some voters”, i.e., FuxNews-watchers.

“Absent a major international crisis, this election will be largely about jobs, spending, health care, and energy. Voters do, however, want a president who leads on the world stage and a commander in chief who projects strength, not weakness.”

What the…”absent a major international crisis”? Such as, Karl?

“A November 2011 survey conducted by Resurgent Republic showed that 50 percent of voters (as well as 54 percent of self-identified independents) think America’s standing in the world is worse under Obama, while only 21 percent believe it is better. This represents a sharp drop from April 2010, when 50 percent of voters (and 49 percent of independents) believed Obama had improved America’s standing.

That’s because Obama has failed to become a strong international leader, and the Republican nominee must reinforce this message — one most Americans already believe. Foreign policy is a weakness for this president, not a strength.”

Hey, guess who’s a Board Member at Resurgent Republic? Why, good old Ed Gillespie!

Hmmm, I don’t think that your advice is so hot, Karl (and Ed.) Maybe they should read another article at Foreign Policy magazine that refutes their arguments.

Regardless of whether or not Rove and Gillespie’s advice is useful, I don’t think that either of the current ‘leaders’ for the Republican nomination would be capable of following it.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to opine on this or any other topic.

Afghanistan is Lost!

source:www.defense.gov

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

[...]

Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”

[...]

On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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We’ve got a war to lose!

The Wall Street Journal

KABUL—More than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years, a sum so large that U.S. investigators believe top Afghan officials and their associates are sending billions of diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad.

The cash—packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets and loaded into airplanes—is declared and legal to move. But U.S. and Afghan officials say they are targeting the flows in major anticorruption and drug trafficking investigations because of their size relative to Afghanistan’s small economy and the murkiness of their origins.(read more)

This war is getting ever more absurd.

The Watering Hole: June 19 – Vultures

As we’ve learned recently, Afghanistan possesses a wealth of up to now undiscovered, or rather undisclosed, mineral deposits. In a world hungry for gold, lithium, copper, iron  this was bringing out the buzzards double quick. The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON — Mining companies around the world are eager to exploit Afghanistan’s newly discovered mineral wealth, but executives of Western firms caution that war, corruption and lack of roads and other infrastructure are likely to delay exploration for years.

A few high-risk investors are sufficiently intrigued by the country’s potential to take an early look. JP Morgan, for instance, has just sent a team of mining experts to Afghanistan to examine possible projects to develop.

[...]

Afghan officials have interpreted their mining regulations in such a way that if a company is awarded a concession to explore and then discovers valuable minerals, the government can tender the concession back and rebid it, undermining any incentive for a foreign firm to actually find large deposits, he said.

“They can take it back after you discover something,” Mr. Yeager said. “That needs to be corrected.”

(read more)

It is not as if the minerals are theirs, heh! Understandably the Afghans themselves are suspicious:

Many Afghans I have spoken with believe firmly that America wants to permanently occupy the country in order to take Afghan land and resources. Even educated Afghan friends who generally support a temporary US presence have told me the same. I had to laugh when one suggested that Americans would want to move to Afghanistan to snatch up Afghan land for homes. (read more)

The mining corporations will be falling over themselves to get a foot in, never mind what they say now. They are used to securing their interests with their own security forces or mercenaries. Right now, they have the benefit of the US Army, but Obama plans to withdraw the troops beginning 2011. However, help can be found in the usual places:

Several lawmakers, including former presidential candidate and war hero Senator John McCain, have criticized Obama for setting deadlines, saying they empower the enemy who would wait it out for U.S. forces to leave.

“It’s time for the president to state unequivocally that we will stay in Afghanistan until we succeed,” said McCain, who said all the key trends were moving in the wrong direction. (read more)

Same old. Same old.

This is our open thread. Go ahead and tell us what’s on your mind today.

Ralph Peters continues to slime Pfc Bergdahl — with the help of Bill O’Reilly (updated)

ThinkProgress

Ralph Peters is very certain about what he “knows,” and completely oblivious that he knows nothing.

All Peters “knows” is that some mythical “very senior military leader” answered “yes,” when asked if Bergdahl was a deserter.  This was Ralph Peters looking in the mirror and hearing voices again.  I “know” this because I asked a really smart neighbor about it, and he said “yes.”

So here we have Bill O’Reilly, who proudly proclaims that he has been to Afghanistan, but who has never served in the military, and Ralph Peters, who admits on this video that he has no combat experience, trashing the mental state a young man actually serving in the military, in a war zone.  Naturally, they have no facts to back up their assertions that Bergdahl is “crazy” or “out of his mind,” but they don’t mind making it up as they go.

Here’s what the military has to say about Bergdahl being a deserter:

Appalled at Peters’ original comment, CNN’s Rick Sanchez reported yesterday that Bergdahl is not a deserter. “Is the military saying that he’s a deserter in any way? We have checked. No, not at all,” Sanchez said.

NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski also reported yesterday that “senior Pentagon and military officials have ruled that out entirely, they say there is no evidence that he is a deserter.” Miklaszewski added that “they also point out that remarks like that are not the least bit helpful and in fact could endanger Pfc Bergdahl.”  (Emphasis added)

The important thing to remember is that Ralph Peters is getting his exposure on Fox “News,” which has no relationship with truth or integrity.

Whatever happened to “Support the Troops?”  Or even “innocent until proven guilty?”

The previous post on Ralph Peters’ insanity is here.

UPDATERep Eric Mass (D-NY), who is a retired Navy Commander, is demanding that Fox News fire Bill O’Reilly and Ralph Peters for their comments about Pfc Bergdahl.

“Words cannot express how furious I am at Fox News, Lt. Col Ralph Peters and Bill O’Reilly for suggesting that we should leave a prisoner of war behind and allow him to be executed by the Taliban to save us the trouble of trying to intervene” said Congressman Eric Massa. “Last night I joined with a bipartisan group of 22 other Congressional veterans in demanding an immediate apology to the family of PFC Bergdahl from Fox News, but I don’t think that goes far enough. I want to see Mr. Peters and Mr. O’Reilly fired immediately for their inexcusable attacks on a prisoner of war. Their comments aid and abet our enemies during a time of war and the burden is on Fox News to prove that they reject this by taking the tangible action of issuing an apology and firing both of them.”

You can read the whole letter here (PDF).

Ralph Peters Wants The Taliban To Kill An American Soldier (updated)

Wonder if Peters has a yellow ribbon magnet on his SUV.

Amazing.  This jerk (Ralph Peters) starts with “we should wait for all the facts,” and then proceeds to call Bowe Bergdahl deserter and a liar, and says that as far as he’s concerned, “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills,” leaving hanging in the air the implication that if the Taliban kills Bergdahl, it would be just fine with him.

Here’s Cenk on The Young Turks showing Mr Peters saying that the prisoners at Gitmo should be killed:

Mr Peters, I think you’re an un-American death-fetishist asshole.  But we’ll wait for all the facts…

UPDATE:  Our Mr Peters (sorry, I won’t call him by his military rank after he called for the death of Pfc Bergdhl) is more of a loose cannon than we knew.  The Wonk Room has a lovely piece regarding Peters’ ideas for dealing with the Somali pirates:

Attack their harbors with land, sea and air power. Kill pirates, sink their vessels (including those dual-use fishing boats) and wreck their support infrastructure. The clans behind the pirates must feel sufficient pain to rein in their young thugs. The price for piracy should be stunning.

And we don’t need to stay to rebuild Somalia. End the fix-it fetish now. We need to leave while their boats are still burning down to the waterline.

Also, Matthew Yglesias posted a video of Mr Peters’ “unhinged rant” about the DHS memo regarding rightwing extremism:

Rock on, dude.

I think we now have enough evidence to say quite conclusively that Peters is in fact an un-American death-fetishist asshole.

General Craddock to retire?

There has been some movement in the case of NATO commander Craddock. Various generals have objected to his cavalier plan to kill Afghan opium growers summarily. He dumped his plans and is now seemingly on the road to retirement.

Der Spiegel updates on this earlier story:

On Jan. 30, General Bantz John Craddock gave up. On that day, the NATO High Commander retracted an order calling on troops fighting in Afghanistan with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to attack drug traffickers and facilities. Many of Craddock’s comrades found the order unpalatable — it explicitly directed NATO troops to kill those involved in the drug trade even if there was no proof that they supported insurgents fighting against NATO or Afghan security forces.

General Egon Ramms, from Germany, who heads up the NATO command center responsible for Afghanistan in Brunssum, the Netherlands, expressed his displeasure with the order as did US General David McKiernan, who heads up the NATO command in Afghanistan. Both felt that the order violated ISAF rules of engagement as well as international law.

According to Spiegel Craddock is attending a seminar for military retirees and not expected to stay in his role. Good

Obama needs to sack NATO General Craddock. Now.

This is from Der Spiegel the international page:

A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO’s top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a “guidance” providing NATO troops with the authority “to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan.”

According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. It is “no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective,” Craddock writes.

(read more)

So many Bush loyalists left, still doing damage.

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Palin Whines On Fox News – “Couric Annoyed Me”

               

Cenk from The Young Turks, has part of an “interview”, I use that term very loosely, to whine about her performance with Katie Couric. What she wanted to do was use the talking points of the McCain Campaign to spread more lies. Here are the talking points she mentioned in her propaganda talk with Fox and I used FactCheck.org to show the facts for each issue Palin mentions…

1.) Palin said that Obama had accused American troops of doing nothing but killing civilians, a claim she called “reckless” and “untrue.”

FactCheck.org – Obama did say that troops in Afghanistan were killing civilians.

The Associated Press fact-checked this one, and found that in fact U.S troops were killing more civilians at the time than insurgents: “As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286. Another 20 were killed in crossfire that can’t be attributed to one party.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed concern about these civilian killings, a concern President Bush said he shared.

Conclusion: Obama stated a proven fact and Sarah Palin called it a lie. Palin on this issue is a LIAR.

2.) Palin said: Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only $42,000 a year. That’s a lot of middle income average American families to increase taxes on them. I think that is the way to kill jobs and to continue to harm our economy.

FactCheck.org – Obama did not in fact vote to increase taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 per year. What Obama actually voted for was a budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent tax bracket to its pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. That could have affected an individual with no children making as little as $42,000. But a couple would have had to earn $83,000 to be affected and a family of four at least $90,000. The resolution would not have raised taxes on its own, without additional legislation, and, as we’ve noted before, there is no such tax increase in Obama’s tax plan. (The vote took place on March 14 of this year, not last year as Palin said.)

Continue reading

9/11 Plus Seven

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From TomDispatch

The events of the past seven years have yielded a definitive judgment on the strategy that the Bush administration conceived in the wake of 9/11 to wage its so-called Global War on Terror. That strategy has failed, massively and irrevocably. To acknowledge that failure is to confront an urgent national priority: to scrap the Bush approach in favor of a new national security strategy that is realistic and sustainable — a task that, alas, neither of the presidential candidates seems able to recognize or willing to take up.

On September 30, 2001, President Bush received from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a memorandum outlining U.S. objectives in the War on Terror. Drafted by Rumsfeld’s chief strategist Douglas Feith, the memo declared expansively: “If the war does not significantly change the world’s political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim.” That aim, as Feith explained in a subsequent missive to his boss, was to “transform the Middle East and the broader world of Islam generally.”

Rumsfeld and Feith were co-religionists: Along with other senior Bush administration officials, they worshipped in the Church of the Indispensable Nation, a small but intensely devout Washington-based sect formed in the immediate wake of the Cold War. Members of this church shared an exalted appreciation for the efficacy of American power, especially hard power. The strategy of transformation emerged as a direct expression of their faith.

The members of this church were also united by an equally exalted estimation of their own abilities. Lucky the nation to be blessed with such savvy and sophisticated public servants in its hour of need!

Continue reading

Opinion: Will NATO be another casualty of the Bush Presidency?

When the cold war ended and the Warsaw Pact disintegrated, there was a moment when NATO‘s future was up for discussion. From a pure military alliance it developed into something like an international crisis-management and peace-keeping force. Then came 9/11. All members of NATO, according to chapter 5 of the treaty, responded simultaneously and without delay, standing up in solidarity with the US. The culprit for the attacks on US soil was quickly declared to be Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda group, who used Afghanistan as a launching pad for their attacks. The Taliban, Afghanistan’s Muslim extremist regime, were securing the safe-haven for Al-Qaeda.

The coordinated effort of NATO removed the Taliban regime in next to no time and that’s when the problem started. Even before the Afghanistan mission had ended, let alone Afghanistan secured, the US and the UK, namely the Bush and Blair Administrations had other things in mind, and in 2003 attacked Iraq. Iraq is where the troops went, Iraq is where the equipment went, Iraq is where the money went and village by village, road by road, province by province Afghanistan is where the Taliban return to.

The US strategy changed. The bombings started again and one offensive followed the other, but without tangible results. The civilian casualties that invariably constitute the unavoidable consequences of this kind of military action increased the hatred against the intruders and the support for the insurgents.

Currently NATO is facing an insurgent Afghan South, where the number of casualties for the troops is increasing steadily and a somewhat more stable North, where the rebuilding of infrastructure and the pacifying of the country has made more progress. This progress is endangered now, because of the increased hatred against all troops foreign. Some argue, that the peace-keeping efforts, the development of political structures, the development of infrastructure in the North has been the more successful strategy and that’s why the North is more peaceful and stable, than the South. I wouldn’t say no to that.

In Canada the support for the NATO mission is waning and the minority government of Stephen Harper is under increasing pressure to bring the troops home. The US will send an emergency contingent of 3200 marines to Afghanistan, but their military is stretched so badly by the strains of the Iraq war, that they cannot increase troop levels significantly. Moreover, increasing troop levels won’t make a dent into the insurgency. Other countries are, to put it mildly, reluctant to bring troops into the South. And why should they? It was not their decision to take the focus away from Afghanistan and center on Iraq. Their missions are more or less successful. The politicians are risking their political future, if they send troops into what is considered a wholly US/UK owned quagmire by the electorate.

The NATO meeting in Vilnius will see heated discussions and Robert Gates has already hinted that a two tiered NATO might evolve. A military part, which is prepared to fight and go on combat missions and a peace-keeping part, which won’t. NATO could fall apart along those lines.

Afghanistan was the death of the Warsaw pact. The crumbling economy of the USSR could not keep up with the costs of the Afghanistan war which is considered one reason for its demise. And NATO could ultimately be yet another victim of the criminally irresponsible politics of the Bush era, which center around the Iraq war.

Good Morning from Europe – 353 days and still no impeachment in sight

Good Morning to our news-roundup. And there are news, the ones I dread most. More violence across the globe.

The surge is working? Many doubted that in the first place. Now recently the attacks and the violence have gone up again. There were 19 beheaded bodies found in a field close to Baghdad on Tuesday. A day earlier five US soldiers lost their lives in a single attack in Mosul, Northern Iraq. Today two female suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in Baghdad’s pet market.

There is this other war: Afghanistan. The danger of Afghanistan falling back into the hands of the Taliban is known to the Pentagon. To counter the ongoing insurgency there, the Pentagon unilaterally decided on military force as a solution. Defense Secretary Gates has written an eight pages letter to his German counterpart Jung in which he tries to coerce Germany into sending combat troops into the South. To tell you a secret: Jung can’t. There are constitutional restrictions, which require a parliamentary vote on military missions. And the Germans are holding their constitution in high esteem. Given Germany’s violent history in the 20th century and the lessons learned from that, there is no way that Jung could get Parliament to agree to combat operations, even if he wanted to and Gates knows that.

Officials at the German defense ministry have called the Gates letter an “outrage.” The Americans, they say, are fully aware of the special circumstances — conditions imposed by the German parliament — under which German forces currently operate in Afghanistan.

If a personal word is permitted. I would never hesitate to support extension of the peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan. It helps the people there. But I will be damned, if I agree to our young men and women to shoot and maim or to be shot at and maimed, just because the Bush Administration wants to keep some of it’s legacy from looking like the mess it is. It may just be an idea to look at the US politics and change that, instead of coercing other countries into taking part in a failed strategy.

“Europeanview” wishes you all a healthy and happy day. Take care!