Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Afghans, Parched for Water, March for Peace, by Kathy Kelly

The US’s 17-year war in Afghanistan hasn’t been an unmitigated blessing for the average Afghan. From Kathy Kelly at antiwar.com:

Here in Kabul in early June, outside the home of several Afghan Peace Volunteers, a large drilling machine is parked on what was once a lovely garden. To this now muddy patch, workers will soon arrive for another noisy, dusty day of digging for water. The well dried up a week ago. As of today, the household has no water.

Ongoing battles between militants, government forces, and international allies have destroyed much of Kabul’s water infrastructure, forcing people to drill their own wells.

Ongoing battles between militants, government forces, and international allies have destroyed much of Kabul’s water infrastructure, forcing people to drill their own wells.

Across Kabul, numerous households face similar water shortages. With an average annual rainfall of just fourteen inches, Kabul’s water table has been falling each year. The current population, estimated around 4.5 million, is expected to reach 9 million by 2050. The estimated groundwater potential is enough to supply only 2 million inhabitants with water.

Alarming reports say that drought now afflicts twenty-one of Afghanistan’s thirty-four provinces.

Rural families in drought-stricken areas watch their crops fail and their livestock die of dehydration. In desperation, they flee to urban areas, including Kabul, where they often must live in squalid, sprawling refugee camps. In the city, an already inadequate sewage and sanitation system, battered by years of war, cannot support the soaring population rise.

Droughts in other countries have led to violent clashes and civil wars. It’s difficult to imagine that Afghanistan, already burdened by forty years of war, will escape eventual water wars.

The most sophisticated and heavily armed warring party in Afghanistan is the U.S. military. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on non-military aid to Afghanistan, the United States has done little to improve Afghanistan’s infrastructure or alleviate its alarming water crisis. President Donald Trump’s interest in what’s happening under the ground in Afghanistan is focused exclusively on the US capacity to extract Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.

To continue reading: Afghans, Parched for Water, March for Peace

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Sen. Paul to Hold Hearing on ‘Unauthorized War’s Effect on Federal Spending’, by Daniel McAdams

Those unauthorized wars have been a big ticket indeed. Perhaps more essential than an accounting of those costs is how the US can fight unauthorized (by Congress) wars in the first place. From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinstitute.org:

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) announced today that on Wednesday, June 6th, he will be holding a hearing on the enormous costs of the endless wars which continue to be fought under the 2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a press release from Paul’s office, the hearing “will explore both the financial impact and the constitutional implications of open-ended war under the existing Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and examine the potential ramifications if Congress adopts the revised AUMF proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).”

Unlike the great majority of Congressional hearings, Paul’s line-up of witnesses actually promises to provide some serious debate and cogent analysis of the issue. Noted Constitutional scholars Judge Andrew Napolitano (a member of the Ron Paul Institute Board) and Professor Jonathan Turley will provide expert testimony. The two will be joined by Christopher Anders, Deputy Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The Corker/Kaine revised AUMF is sold as Congress finally waking up to its Constitutional war obligations, but as Sen. Paul has noted in a letter to his Senate colleagues, “it is clear upon reading that the Kaine/Corker AUMF gives nearly unlimited power to this or any President to be at war anywhere, anytime and against anyone, with minimal justification and no prior specific authority.”

By many estimates, Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost the American taxpayer close to $3 trillion with no end in sight and no “victory” in sight. That does not include money spent to overthrow and murder Libya’s Gaddafi, to raise an army of jihadists to overthrow Assad in Syria, and to expand the US military presence to 50 out of 53 African countries. And, of course, to backstop Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen.

Sen. Paul’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management will take place on June 6th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time in SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/congress-alert/2018/june/04/sen-paul-to-hold-hearing-on-unauthorized-war-s-effect-on-federal-spending/

After Years Of US-Led “Nation-Building”, Afghanistan Faces A Human Rights Disaster, by Brian Cloughley

Read how over 16 years of US intervention have made Afghanistan a much better place for the average Afghan. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

After over sixteen years of foreign military occupation, Afghanistan, the fourth most corrupt country in the world, continues to be battered and blasted by war. Its citizens are victims of suicide attacks by insane savages and, according to the magazine Stars and Stripes, the number of US bombs dropped on Afghanistan in March 2018 “was the highest for that month in five years. While ISIS is being pushed underground in Iraq and Syria, the number of fighters pledging loyalty to the group appears to be growing in Afghanistan.”

But it isn’t only the ravages of war that are destroying the country. The social fabric is being terminally torn asunder by human rights violations that are either ignored or condoned by both the government and the US-NATO  military alliance amongst whose “key functions” is “Supporting the adherence to the principles of rule of law and good governance.”

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Mr John Sopko, has for eight years carried out his duties in an exemplary fashion, being responsible for “independent and objective oversight of the $117.26 billion the US has provided to implement reconstruction programs in Afghanistan,” but has been frequently deflected and misled by the US Department of Defence and the Afghan government.

SIGAR’s Report of July 2017 recorded that “Afghan officials remain complicit… in the sexual exploitation of children by Afghan security forces,” but as noted by the Washington Post, “the Pentagon tried to block an independent assessment of child sex abuse crimes committed by Afghan soldiers and police, instead insisting on the creation of its own report offering a far less authoritative review of human rights violations perpetrated by US allies.”

It is now public knowledge that there is a culture of sodomy in Afghanistan and that Afghan men in positions of power at all levels enjoy immunity from prosecution for abusing young boys.  The practice of bacha bazi, or “boy play” is revolting, and the word “play” is entirely inappropriate. Foreign Policy magazine states that “Demeaning and damaging, the widespread subculture of paedophilia in Afghanistan constitutes one of the most egregious ongoing violations of human rights in the world. The adolescent boys who are groomed for sexual relationships with older men are bought — or, in some instances, kidnapped — from their families and thrust into a world which strips them of their masculine identity. These boys are often made to dress as females, wear makeup, and dance for parties of men. They are expected to engage in sexual acts with much older suitors, often remaining a man’s or group’s sexual underling for a protracted period.”

To continue reading: After Years Of US-Led “Nation-Building”, Afghanistan Faces A Human Rights Disaster

Unbridgeable Gap: Who We Were and Who We Thought We Were, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

The slogans wear thin when wars go inconclusively on and on and the only winners are the defense contractors and other recipients, by fair means or foul, of US government largesse. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Americans, and their soldiers, were led to believe they fought for democracy and freedom these past 17 years; the truth was far murkier.

“War is just a racket… I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service…during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
~ Major General Smedley Butler, US Marine Corps, 2 time Medal of Honor recipient (1935)

I grew up in blue-collar Staten Island, New York City. My mother was a waitress, my father an overqualified civil servant who also painted houses and delivered Chinese food in Brooklyn. I come from a world where it seems you’re either a cop, a fireman, or a junkie. My mother had four brothers; two, along with my grandfather, were FDNY to the core; the others fell deep into the drug and alcohol game; it killed them both. But not me; no, I was the family’s golden child, always the pleaser, always high achieving, and I’d do something special. I thought it was my destiny.

In July 2001, while my high school friends partied during the summer before college, I found myself at Cadet Basic Training – “Beast Barracks,” as we called – a new officer candidate at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Hating it from the start, I wanted out, but, well, quitting wasn’t an option. Four years later, I was one of 911 cadets who graduated – Time magazineprofiled us as the “Class of 9/11” – and commissioned in the US Army on May 28, 2005. Some 18 months later, I arrived in Baghdad.

For me, a high school senior in the year before the world changed, the army seemed glamorous, and, surprisingly safe. Back then there were no long, or “real,” wars. American soldiers almost never fired a shot in anger, let alone got killed. I guess I imagined overseas travel, at worst a tour peacekeeping in Kosovo or something, which, I figured, would provide cool photo ops and interesting stories.

Two months after beginning basic training, in September, while sparring in plebe (freshman) boxing class, the towers fell, and everything changed. I’m embarrassed to admit that, for the next four years at West Point, my biggest fear was that the wars would end before I could ship over and do my part. Truth is, I don’t recognize that kid anymore.

To continue reading: Unbridgeable Gap: Who We Were and Who We Thought We Were

15 Years of War: To Whose Benefit? by Charles Hugh Smith

Why does the US fight wars but not win them? Here’s a hint: it’s a very profitable arrangement for some. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil.
Setting aside the 12 years of “no fly zone” air combat operations above Iraq from 1991 to 2003, the U.S. has been at war for almost 17 years in Afghanistan and 15 years in Iraq. (If the word “war” is too upsetting, then substitute “continuing combat operations”.)
Since the burdens and costs of these combat operations are borne solely by the volunteers of the U.S. Armed Forces, the American populace pays little to no attention to the wars unless a household has a family member in uniform who is in theatre.
Permanent combat operations are now a barely audible background noise in America, something we’ve habituated to: the human costs are invisible to the vast majority of residents, and the financial costs are buried in the ever-expanding mountain of national debt. What’s another borrowed trillion dollars on top of the $21 trillion pile?
But a nation continually waging war should ask: to whose benefit? (cui bono) As near as I can make out, the nation has received near-zero benefit from combat operations in Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt nations on Earth where most of the billions of dollars “invested” have been squandered or stolen by the kleptocrats the U.S. has supported.
What did the nation gain for the tragic loss of lives and crippling wounds suffered by our personnel and Afghan civilians?
As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil. As near as I can make out, the U.S. imports about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq, a relatively modest percentage of our total oil consumption of 19.7 million barrels a day.
(Note that the U.S. was importing around 700,000 barrels a day from Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in March 2003–and imports from Iraq declined as a result of the war. So what was the energy-security gain from launching the war?)
Meanwhile, Iraq exports over 2 million barrels a day to China and India, where the presumed benefit to the U.S. is that U.S. corporations can continue to produce shoddy goods using low-cost Asian labor that are exported to U.S. consumers, thereby enabling U.S. corporations to reap $2.3 trillion in profits every year.

Illegal Wars: The New American Way, by Danny Sjursen

No doubt about it, most of the wars the US is currently fighting are unconstitutional. From Danny Sjursen at  truthdig.com:

A U.S. Army soldier patrols with Afghans in the village of Yawez in Afghanistan in 2010. (U.S. Army / CC BY 2.0)

[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons. …
S.J. Res. 23 (107th): Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), Sept. 18, 2001

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary … in order to … defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq. …
H. J. Res 114 (107th): Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Oct. 18, 2002

It’s all so obvious to a detached observer. Nonetheless, it remains unspoken. The United States of America is waging several wars with dubious legal sanction in domestic or international law.

The U.S. military stands astride the Greater Mideast region on behalf of an increasingly rogue-like regime in Washington, D.C. Worse still, this isn’t a Donald Trump problem, per se. No, three successive administrations—Democratic and Republican—have widened the scope of a global “war” on a tactic (terror), on the basis of two at best vague, and at worst extralegal, congressional authorizations for the use of force (AUMF). Indeed, the U.S. is veritably addicted to waging undeclared, unwinnable wars with unconvincing legal sanction.

Despite 17 years of fighting, dying and killing, there have been no specific declarations of war. Instead, one president after another, and hundreds of derelict-in-their-duty congress members, have simply decided on their own that a vague resolution, rubber-stamped while the rubble in New York was still smoking, authorizes each and every conflict in which America’s soldiers—and many more civilians—continue to die. This AUMF authorized the president to kill or capture those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, but, well, few of America’s current adversaries had anything to do with that.

To continue reading: Illegal Wars: The New American Way

The Iran-Pakistan border is a geopolitical powder keg, by Dr. Lawrence Sellin

China is wading into Pakistan and Iran as part of its New Silk Road project. There is no assurance the chaos that plagues much of that region won’t overwhelm China. From Dr. Lawrence Sellin at southasiahudson.org:

The Iran-Pakistan border contains all the ingredients for a geopolitical explosion – regional rivalries, Sunni-Shia conflicts, ethnic insurgents, espionage, drug smuggling and human trafficking.

China considers the stability of the region so important that it brokered a series of border security meetings between Iran and Pakistan over the past year.

Much of China’s multi-billion-dollar investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) hinges on the commercial viability of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, near the Iranian border, for which it has a 40-year operational lease. Moreover,  CPEC is the regional linchpin of the Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious plan to connect Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa to China through a series of land-based and maritime economic zones.

Additionally, the planned Chinese naval base on Pakistan’s Jiwani peninsula, even closer to the Iranian border and located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, is a critical military node in China’s “String of Pearls” facilities designed to dominate the strategic sea lanes in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

Such ambitions present a direct economic and military threat to India. Commercially, Gwadar competes with joint Iranian-Indian development of the port of Chabahar, just 150 miles to its west.

According to numerous reports, Saudi Arabia contributes to the instability of the border region by sponsoring virulently anti-Shia Sunni militant groups, such as Jaish al-Adl, who launch attacks on Iran from safe havens in Pakistan.

Iran retaliates by supporting the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), an ethnic separatist group, whose sanctuaries and leader, Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, are claimed to be inside Iranian territory and routinely conduct cross-border operations against Pakistani government targets. Members of the BLF are suspected to be in contact with Iranian intelligence, often through drug lords acting as intermediaries. BLF members are occasionally confused with their anti-Shia counterparts. Some months ago, a BLF team was mistakenly attacked by Iranian border guards. One member, shot in the encounter, was taken to Imam Ali Hospital in Chabahar for treatment, but later died of his wounds. The other team members were subsequently released by Iranian forces.

To continue reading: The Iran-Pakistan border is a geopolitical powder keg