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Do you support the Obama administration's current policy in Afghanistan?
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Joined: 19 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:22 pm    Post subject: Afghanistan  Reply with quote

November 19, 2010

Afghans in two crucial southern provinces are almost completely unaware of the September 11 attacks on the United States and don't know they precipitated the foreign intervention now in its 10th year, a new report showed on Friday.

NATO leaders gathered in Lisbon for a summit on Friday where the transition from foreign forces - now at about 150,000 - to Afghan security responsibility will be at the top of the agenda, with leaders to discuss a 2014 target date set by Kabul.

Few Afghans in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, Taliban strongholds where fighting remains fiercest, know why foreign troops are in Afghanistan, says the "Afghanistan Transition: Missing Variables" report to be released later on Friday.

The report by The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) policy think-tank showed 92 percent of 1,000 Afghan men surveyed in Helmand and Kandahar know nothing of the hijacked airliner attacks on U.S. targets in 2001.

"The lack of awareness of why we are there contributes to the high levels of negativity toward the NATO military operations and made the job of the Taliban easier. We need to explain to the Afghan people why we are here, and both convince them and show them that their future is better with us than the Taliban," ICOS President Norine MacDonald told Reuters from Washington.

The war has now dragged into its 10th year and violence is at its worst, despite a record number of foreign troops, with military and civilian casualties at their highest levels.
Continues, including U.S. and NATO withdrawal plans:



Although the usual suspects signing up here have previously posted their opinions on the longest U.S. war ever, it remains important for us all to acknowledge the ongoing war and the sacrifices which continue daily.

As citizens we all have access to lobby the White House and Congress as to funding and accountability actions.

And more than one of us has relatives in the military who may end up in Afghanistan.

C-SPAN is currently broadcasting live from the NATO ceremonies in Lisbon.

Last edited by bieramar on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NATO nations have formally agreed to start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and hand over control of security to the Afghans in 2014.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Afghan President Hamid Karzai also signed an agreement Saturday for NATO to maintain a long-term presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Leaders of the 28-member alliance including President Barack Obama reached a consensus on the hand over date, first proposed by Karzai last year, on the second day of NATO's annual summit in Portugal's capital....

Ivo Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said the 2014 goal and the end of NATO's combat role in Afghanistan beyond that date "are not one and the same." But many NATO nations have insisted they will remove all their troops by 2014....

Another major issue on the second day of the two-day summit will be a meeting of NATO's 28 leaders with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

NATO and Moscow are expected to sign agreements to expand the alliance's supply routes to Afghanistan through Russia, and set up a new training program in Russia for counter-narcotics agents from Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.

They also are expected to agree on a program to provide training to Afghan helicopter crews....

More: http://news.mobile.msn.com/en-us/articles.aspx?afid=1&aid=40286698

I note that this NATO agreement is different and addresses a separate issue from the U.S. policy announced by Obama to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) next year.

The promised drawdown of OEF troops in 2011 is separate from the number of our troops in the NATO-ISAF combat forces, and does not affect the number of U.S. taxpayer-paid civilian contractors who currently number more than the total of our OEF and NATO-ISAF troops together.

It is time for the U.S. to establish a withdrawal date from NATO itself - or at least a renegotiation of our role in it, as its original purpose was concluded with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

--- op-ed excerpt ----

[British General Sir David] Richards views this [war with Islamists] is as a necessarily protracted struggle; his estimate is that the battle will go on at least 30 years. He points out that military means alone cannot root out an idea.

Richards claims one cannot defeat ideas merely by fighting wars.
Islamism, he avers, isn't going to disappear, nor does he wish to challenge the right of "fundamentalist" Muslims to hold their beliefs.

Instead, he puts forward a practical, functional definition of victory: contain the enemy, prevent it from attacking you.

In his words: "You can't [achieve victory through combat]. We've all said this - [General] David Petraeus [the US head of NATO forces in Afghanistan] has said this....

"In conventional war, defeat and victory is very clear cut and is symbolized by troops marching into another country's capital. First of all you have to ask, do we need to defeat it [Islamist militancy] in the sense of a clear-cut victory?

"I would argue that it is unnecessary and can never be achieved.... I don't think you can probably defeat an idea. It's something we need to battle against as necessary, but in its milder forms why shouldn't they be allowed to have that sort of philosophy?

"It's how it manifests itself that is the key, and whether we contain that manifestation - and quite clearly al-Qaida is an unacceptable manifestation of it."...

Before continuing, however, it is necessary to point out a potential disaster in Richards's words that reflects serious errors in Western thinking. If the West focuses only or overwhelmingly on blocking attacks against itself in the short run, that will lead to more attacks in the long run.

The idea that the revolutionary movement's main front should be launching terrorist attacks on the West is an al- Qaida strategy, not one of the revolutionary Islamists generally. This fact means that Western military and intelligence forces are engaged in fighting al- Qaida. But it [al- Qaida] is not the main strategic threat. It didn't take over Iran, the Gaza Strip or large parts of Lebanon [and] Al-Qaida didn't wage civil war in Algeria or Egypt.

The main strategic threat is not scattered terrorist attacks but a political transformation of the Middle East - countries with huge territories, tens of millions of people and billions of dollars in resources, all of which can be used to spark a lot of future wars and attacks.

To prove a movement and its ideas have failed... is to root out the movement in a serious manner. The West doesn't have the stomach to do the dirty work necessary to succeed here. And given the fact that the present-day problem is within the framework of Islam, it is probably impossible and certainly undesirable for it to do this.

So who can do it? Other Muslims.

The Saudi, Algerian and Egyptian regimes, with all their shortcomings, have been willing to fight in this manner....

The final stage is an ideological assault on the enemy ideology. But given the "infidel" nature of the West, its ignorance about Islam (albeit an ignorance that is the exact opposite of what it is usually accused of holding) and refusal to acknowledge how jihadism and revolutionary Islamism are deeply rooted in the texture of Islam, this also can only be accomplished by other Muslims.
--- end excerpts ---

The remainder is well worth reading and thinking about:


My rant for a decade has been, and continues to be, that we must acknowledge that we are fighting a world wide WWIII against Islamists, not just against al- Qaeda, "terrorism" or fundamentalist Muslim beliefs.  

We can no more kill all the Muslims, or  fundamentalists or Islamists than others have been able to kill all the Jews or Christians with all their sects from radical left to fundamentalist right.

We must all work together against our common enemy.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8,400 U.S. troops will be rotating to Afghanistan in 2011, relieving a like number - of the 130,000+ currently in theatre - who will be returning to their home duty stations.

6,800 troops of the 170th and 172nd Infantry Brigades currently stationed in Germany will go to Afghanistan, plus 1,600 from the First Cavalry Hdqtrs in Texas and the 82nd Airborne Cavalry Hdqtrs in North Carolina.

On the good news side, the total number of National Guard and Reserve troops mobilized has fallen below 95,000 for the first time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 - at one time more than 220,000 were mobilized.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Day In The Life Of A White House Protester
December 17, 2010

Yesterday, my mother was arrested in front of the White House.

It was her first time in cuffs (or thick plastic ties, anyway), newly retired and no longer encumbered with a military security clearance to keep up.

Deborah, an Air Force veteran and former radar operator, has helped run her local Veterans For Peace activist group in Southern California since 2005, the same national group that organized yesterday's non-violent civil disobedience to protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars....

In the morning, Deborah put on her warmest layers -- though a SoCal resident for the last 25 years, she did remote tours for the Air Force in both Alaska and Greenland, so the freezing cold and snow didn't dampen her spirit, a constitution that was not genetically passed down -- and weathered Metro's rush hour to meet the group at Lafayette Park.

It was to be completely non-violent. "That even means no littering," she said.

Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern, Chris Hedges and other famed anti-war demonstrators spoke [and were later arrested], and then they marched peacefully to the White House, took down the barrier gates (in a shining example of security theater, metal barrier gates keep visitors ten feet from the White House fence -- a fence to protect the fence) [Ed. Note: the metal barrier gates and "fence to protect the fence" are temporarily put in place when demonstrators are anticipated, then removed later so citizens can approach closer to the real White House fence], and stood on the cement platform in which the fence posts are secured.

Their signs read "How's the war economy working for you?" and "End these wars. Not tomorrow, not next year. Now," many featuring the Veterans For Peace logo of a dove on a helmet -- which Deborah had tattooed on her back earlier this year.

One hundred and thirty-five in all [were ultimately arrested, of the 500 demonstrating], the U.S. Park Police were ready for them, and ever so politely. A first warning was given down the line: "you're in violation" of the standing-between-the-fence-and-the-fence law, and anyone who doesn't leave will be arrested. A second warning, then a third, and then the empty Metro buses pulled up. The Park Police set up a tent for mug shot taking and contact information gathering. When two of them clearly struggled with the cheap contraption, the vets asked if they needed some help....

Deborah was escorted away from the fence and handcuffed, had her picture taken next to a five-foot tall policeman as a stand-in for the height chart, and was led onto the bus, where each demonstrator was greeted by the others with a song sung to "When the Saints Go Marching In": "When Debbie gets on the bus / When Debbie gets on the bus / Oh how I want to be in that number / When Debbie gets on that bus." When I asked her to try to remember the song she added, "Don't make it sound like we were having too much fun!"

While they're deadly serious about their cause, it's hard to stir up actual animosity between the ex-servicepeople who are non-violently protesting and the peacekeepers tasked with sending them home. Many photos from the day are like the one Deborah showed me of the ex-Army soldier sitting in cuffs, clearly yukking it up with the two policemen by his side.

On the bus, Deborah sat next to Colleen Rowley, the famed FBI whistleblower who testified before Congress about the agency's mishandling of the events leading up to September 11, 2001. While they waited for the bus to fill, a former CIA agent joined them and Rowley cracked, "So who's representing the NSA?"

A long bus ride later, the first group of demonstrators arrived at the Park Police processing center in Anacostia. An angry officer, probably annoyed at 135 reasons she'd be taking no break that day, forced the Vets on their knees to wait their turn....
email tips@dcist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

Source, photos, and readers' comments:

This was the first non-violent civil disobedience demonstration organized by Veterans For Peace following our annual convention, when new leaders were elected, and the majority attending voted to adopt the  Civil Rights and Anti-War tactics which were successful in gathering support in the 1960s.

"Support U.S. Troops, Bring Them Home Now" - Veterans For Peace
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:23 am    Post subject: Open letter from Daniel Ellsberg Reply with quote

Most people became aware of me because of the Pentagon Papers.

Since then, I have become known as "The Most Dangerous Man In America". And why? Because I spoke the truth. I was convinced that the American public should know the truth about the Vietnam War.

I continue to work to bring the truth to light.

On December 16th, in a Veterans For Peace sponsored action, along 131 other people, I was arrested for attempting to chain myself to the White House gate. This was done in protest of American involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am a proud member of Veterans For Peace.

I challenge you to join me and VFP and speak the truth to your family, friends, neighbors, and anyone that will listen. They need to know the truth about how our military is devastating the very countries that we have self-righteously proclaimed to save.

We are destroying Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the same way that we devastated Vietnam. Agent Orange dispersed in Vietnam still lingers in the ground contaminating soil and food. Live bombs and mines continue to harm innocent men, women and children.

Today we are leaving depleted uranium weapons scattered throughout Iraq and Afghanistan that will have devastating ecological consequences for both people and ecosystems for years to come.

The True Cost of War is not measured in dollars spent on guns, nor on enemy combatants killed.

The True Cost of War is visible in the catatonic face of a PTSD sufferer, in the lifeless body of a veteran who has committed suicide.

The cost can be heard in the cries for help of the tortured, the stomach growls of hungry abandoned children on the streets of Iraq and Afghan villages.  It can be felt at home in smaller budgets for schools and in homes that seem emptier because a father or mother has been deployed and is away from home during the holidays.

The True Cost of War is that it strips us of our humanity, spoils nature's splendor, and ruins people's lives.

It is important that we support Bradley Manning and Julian Assange who are being persecuted for telling the truth about the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

When we work together we can make a difference....  

We have no alternative but to work for peace.

(signed) Daniel Ellsberg

Veterans For Peace, 216 S. Meramec, St. Louis, MO 63105, 314-725-6005 http://www.veteransforpeace.org

EDIT: Removed the question marks which suddenly appeared.

Last edited by bieramar on Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

?      ??        ???         ?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The number of U.S. troops killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan soared by 60 percent last year, while the number of those wounded almost tripled, new U.S. military statistics show.
All told, 268 U.S. troops were killed by the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in 2010, about as many as in the three previous years combined, according to the figures, obtained by The Washington Post. More than 3,360 troops were injured, an increase of 178 percent over the year before.

[T]he spike comes despite a fresh wave of war-zone countermeasures, including mine-clearing machines, fertilizer-sniffing dogs and blimps with sophisticated spy cameras....

The U.S. military has struggled for years to find an antidote to the homemade explosives.
IEDs - concocted primarily of fertilizer and lacking metal or electronic parts that would make them easier to detect - are the largest single cause of casualties for U.S. troops, by a wide margin.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, the director of a Pentagon agency dedicated to combating the bombs, noted that the percentage of IED attacks that have inflicted casualties - on U.S., NATO and Afghan forces, as well as Afghan civilians - has actually declined in recent months, from 25 percent last summer to 16 percent in December, according to U.S. military statistics....

Afghan insurgents planted 14,661 IEDs last year, a 62 percent increase over 2009 and more than three times as many as the year before....

Oates predicted that the overall number of bomb attacks will not increase significantly this year. But he said it is unrealistic to expect the military to eliminate the threat as long as the Afghan insurgency persists.

Current Metrics:
A. 272,000 U.S. military, 176,300 civilian contractors (down from 250,300 a year ago) now in SW Asia/Horn of Africa theatre.

B. Fatalities  
7,062 U.S./Coalition/NATO military fatalities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Horn of Africa theatre of operations (5,902 U.S.).
2,540 U.S. Dept. of Defense civilian contractor* fatalities in theatre.
9,602 Total

C. Casualties with permanent impairments (amputatons, brain injuries, PTSD)
22,295 Army
8,627 Marines
8,402 Dept of Defense civilians*
638 Navy
449 Air Force
40,411 Total  
*Plus 58,098 non-permanent disabling injuries

D. Total casualties by states

1,522 from Florida; 1 :: 11,653 residents

994 from Georgia; 1 :: 9,787 residents

965 from Washington; 1 :: 6,998 residents

310 from New Mexico; 1 :: 6,668 residents

*Dept. of Defense civilian contractors in Horn of Africa/SW Asia theatre of ops

Location-Total-U.S.-Host nation-3rd nation

Iraq      74,106   20,981 10,668  42,457

Afghan 70,599   20,874  34,222 15,503  Others  31,635  11,669  4,416   15,550

Totals  176,340 55,524  49,306  73,540
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:48 pm    Post subject: Year 11 of longest U.S. war Reply with quote

NATO, Afghan forces kill 64 civilians

February 20, 2011

Joint operations by Afghan forces and NATO-led foreign troops have killed 64 civilians in eastern Kunar province, including many women and children, over the past four days, the provincial governor said.

"They were killed by ground and air strikes in Ghazi Abad district," Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar province, told Reuters on Sunday.
Wahidi said 20 of the dead were women, 29 were children or young adults aged 7 to 20, and the remaining 15 were adult men.

Civilian casualties in NATO-led military operations, often caused by air strikes and night raids, have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and its Western partners.

Rules governing air strikes and night raids have been tightened significantly by NATO-led forces in the past two years, leading to a sharp drop in civilian casualties caused by such incidents.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said they were investigating media reports....

ISAF said on Friday that more than 30 insurgents had been killed in an overnight mission in Kunar, and on Saturday that operations had been going on in Ghazi Abad since Feb. 16.

Another ISAF statement on Sunday said ISAF had engaged an "unknown number of insurgents" in two separate operations and attacked with small-arms fire and air strikes. Both statements said initial reports indicated no civilian casualties. ---
Source linked at: http://icasualties.org/oef

Thus far in 2011 fifty-three (53) U.S. and NATO military personnel have been killed, bringing total killed to 2,334.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two hours of debate on the House floor (C-SPAN coverage) began at 10 a.m. EDT.

H.CON.RES.28: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan by 12/31/2011.

As with many Bills and Resolutions, no one really thinks/believes that a majority of Congress will at this time pass the Resolution.

BUT it provides a bully pulpit for C-Span watchers and politicos, and creates a permanent Congressional Record.  

Plus the vote places each Representative on record as to his/her support of our troops, of the war, and of fiscal responsibilities.

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