Afghanistan – Pride & Prejudice – Part VIII

Afghanistan met General Guthrie’s ‘just war’ criteria! Sir John Keegan, military historian, thought ‘orientals’ preferred treachery and deceit as the best ways to overcome an enemy!

Veteran Catholic economist donning Neo-Con plummage, Michael Novak, rationalised “that a limited and carefully conducted war to bring about a change of regime in Afghanistan was morally obligatory.”

Read on…..[Part VIII of a multi-part dossier]

Malalai Joya in the Guardian, 17th May 2012: “The reality is that the US and its Nato allies plan to dominate Afghanistan and the larger region militarily for the next generation. Their reasoning is geostrategic: to control our energy and mineral resources, and maintain military superiority over China and other competitors….”

Jason Burke in the Guardian, 15th May 2012: ” Western expectations have now been pegged back to a degree that would be bleakly amusing in other circumstances. General John Allen, the supreme Nato commander in Afghanistan, has said that his new strategy involves ‘front-loading the risk’ which means handing over areas of Afghanistan where fighting is toughest as soon as possible. He argues that this will allow a longer period of support from international forces before the latter pull out. This may be sensible. Perhaps it a shoddy excuse for cutting and running even faster. Either way, it is the total opposite of what I have heard senior officers telling me should be done on every trip I have made to Afghanistan since 2006″.

Associated Press, 30th April 2012: “The US-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But the AP has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds – or misses – his US or allied target. It also doesn’t report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed. Such attacks reveal a level of mistrust and ill will between the US-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The US and its military partners are working more closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility to them by the end of 2014.”

Los Angeles Times, 18th April 2012: “From the White House to the American Embassy in Kabul, American officials rushed to distance themselves from the actions of U.S. soldiers who posed for photographs next to corpses and body parts of Afghan insurgents. Two photos of incidents from a 2010 deployment were published Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times. In one, the hand of a corpse is propped on the shoulder of a paratrooper. In another, the disembodied legs of a suicide bomber are displayed by grinning soldiers and Afghan police”.

Carne Ross in the Guardian, 17th April 2012: “…The war was supposed to end with the Taliban arriving as supplicants to the negotiating table once sufficiently “degraded” by allied attacks. That strategy has been turned on its head. If anyone is a supplicant it will be the allies, desperate to make a deal they can claim as some kind of limited “victory” before they pull out. But, if this weekend’s events are any indicator, the Taliban don’t seem very interested in talking. Where did it go so wrong?….We entered Afghanistan and tried to make it comply with our fantasy, ignorant of its already complex realities. We occupied only small pieces of the country but declared that we had vanquished all of it. We constructed a new “democratic” order – but excluded those most likely to oppose it while including the brutish and corrupt (and then we corrupted them some more)”.

Patrick Cockburn in the Independent, 9th April 2012: Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the former British ambassador in Kabul and the Foreign Secretary’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, says in his excellent memoir Cables from Kabul that failure is not more openly admitted by journalists because of “the media’s need for copy, both visual and written, which can be obtained only by embedding with a military machine”. As for the average British politician, worried about “leaks to the press suggesting he was not backing our boys”, he ends up taking the advice of the generals, however self-serving and disastrous this has proved in the past. On a small scale the atmosphere is closer to the First World War than the Second World War, with critics of official policy being caricatured as unpatriotic. As a result, politicians and generals responsible for failures hold their jobs, ready to fail again

John Norgrove in the Guardian, 5th April 2012: “Until you see it, it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of the military operation in this country. In 2011 the cost of the war was $103bn and aid $15.7bn. This equates to around $20,000 per Afghan family per year in US spending alone. By contrast a teacher heading up this notional Afghan family might receive $20 a week, if he gets his pay at all. This imbalance inevitably exacerbates corruption.

Huge amounts of western money have been poured into Afghanistan, sometimes naively, often ineffectively. The system is frequently bureaucratic and managed by westerners, typically earning around $150,000 a year, tax free, and often locked up in secured compounds, relying on reports from Afghan employees. Can you imagine a system better designed to increase graft? How can this system align with the hopes and desires of the rural Afghan? He’s perfectly capable of seeing who’s benefiting most”.

James Chapman, Daily Mail, 13th March 2012: “The ComRes survey for ITV News last night found that almost three-quarters of Britons – 73 per cent – believe that the war in Afghanistan can’t be won, up from 60 per cent last June. For the first time a majority – 55 per cent – think British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan immediately, with only 25 per cent disagreeing”.

Ryan Prior in thedailtybeast, 12th March 2012: “Early Sunday morning in an Afghan village, a U.S. Army sergeant crept from house to house, killing 16 people, mostly women and children. Coming on the heels of a controversy over the burning of Qurans, this threatens to deeply undermine the credibility of the American mission”.

Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian, 8th March 2012: “That Britain’s military intervention in Afghanistan was politically driven and badly executed is evident from the Afghan Papers, a devastating critique just published by the Royal United Services Institute”.

Rahim Fiaez in the Independent, 22nd Feb 2010: “The Interior [Afghan] Ministry said seven people were killed in clashes between Afghan security forces and protesters demonstrating against the burning of Muslim holy books at a Nato military base…US Gen. John Allen, the top commander of American and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said after the books had been mistakenly given to troops to be burned at a garbage pit without realizing it”.

Guardian editorial, 2nd Feb 2012: “Joseph Goebbels said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The big lie told repeatedly about the war in Afghanistan is that the international security assistance force (Isaf) and the Afghan national security forces are pushing the Taliban back….Contrast that with what the US military privately think: ‘Though the Taliban suffered severely in 2011, its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact … Many Afghans are already bracing themselves for an eventual return of the Taliban’.”

John Boone in The Guardian, 20th Jan 2012:”Mutual mistrust and contempt between local and foreign forces in Afghanistan that often borders on hatred is one of the main reasons why Afghan troops increasingly turn their guns on their Nato comrades, a damning report has found.

BBC News, 12th Jan 2012: “The US military has said it is investigating a video that appears to show a group of Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters.A man’s voice is heard saying: ‘Have a great day, buddy’…. Pentagon spokesman Capt John Kirby said in a statement: “We are deeply troubled by the video. ‘Whoever it is, and whatever the circumstances – which we know is under investigation – it is egregious behaviour and unacceptable for a member of the military’.”

Julian Borger & Jon Boone in the Guardian, 4th Jan 2012: “The US has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantánamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents’ agreement to open a political office for peace negotiations in Qatar, the Guardian has learned.”

New York Times, 27th Dec 2011: “After prodding by his American and European backers, President Hamid Karzai dropped his opposition to allowing the Taliban to set up an office in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, saying on Tuesday that he could abide by such a step if it was what the United States wanted.”

Luke Coffey in the Guardian, 21st Dec 2011: Coffey, a former advisor to to the discredited Liam Fox provides a fine example of Western hubris – “the Afghan National Security Forces…are far from being perfect, but that was never the goal… Paraphrasing TE Lawrence on the Arabs, it is better that they do it tolerably than we do it perfectly.”

Nooreddine Bakhshi et all in the Guardian, 3rd Dec 2011: “A British soldier has been dismissed from the army after stabbing a 10-year-old Afghan boy in his kidneys with a bayonet for no reason….The unpublicised conviction of Crook is the latest in a series of prosecutions mounted against British military personnel accused of causing civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The Guardian has learned that in a separate case, another soldier is being investigated on suspicion of murder after allegedly shooting dead an Afghan civilian who was digging near a military base”.

Reuters, The Guardian, 25th Nov 2011: “President Hamid Karzai has ordered an investigation into an air attack by Nato forces in southern Afghanistan that allegedly killed six children and one adult. Nato forces were chasing five insurgents they had spotted planting roadside bombs in southern Kandahar, said a spokesman for the Kandahar governor. An air strike killed one of them but four fled into a nearby village, and Nato forces attacked them from the air. Seven civilians are reported to have been killed”.

Jon Boone in the Guardian, 17th Nov 2011: “Hamid Karzai has told a national gath­ering of Afghan el­ders that he will not sign a much-delayed military pact with the US until night raids by for­eign forces come to an end, a de­mand that threat­ens to complicate the deal”.

AP Report in the Independent, 11th Nov 2011: “A US soldier accused of exhorting his bored underlings to kill three Afghan civilians for sport has been convicted of murder, conspiracy and other charges in one of the most gruesome cases to emerge from the war.The military jury sentenced Army Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs to life in prison, but he will be eligible for parole in less than nine years….”

AP Report on 5th Nov 2011: “The top United States military commander in Afghanistan has fired a senior officer [General Peter Fuller] for making inappropriate public remarks about President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and his government…’Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle!’ he said. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care?’. ”

Declan Walsh in The Observer, 22nd Oct 2011: “The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he would side with Pakistan in the event of war with the US in a surprising political twist that is likely to disconcert his western allies. ‘If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan,’ Karzai said in a television interview. He put his hand on his heart and described Pakistan as a ‘brother’ country.”

Jeremy Kelly in The Guardian, 12th Sept 2011: “US-backed Afghan militias are committing murder, rape, torture and extortion, risking increasing support for the insurgent groups they were designed to fight against, a prominent human rights group has said…[the] programme was introduced by the former commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, despite opposition from a sceptical President Hamid Karzai, who had it ‘forced down his throat like a foie gras goose’…”

Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, 2nd Sept 2011: At least one in seven Afghan soldiers walked off the job during the first six months of this year, according to statistics compiled by NATO that show an increase in desertion.

Between January and June, more than 24,000 soldiers walked off the job, more than twice as many as in the same period last year, according to the NATO statistics. ”

Ben Farber and Jacqui Goddard, Sunday Telegraph, 7th August 2011: “The apparent downing of an US Chinook helicopter by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade which killed 30 American commandos was most likely a ‘lucky shot’ rather than marking a new insurgent ability to shoot down aircraft, military officials in Afghanistan believe…..the coalition has confirmed that at least one CH-47F Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on July 25. Two coalition crew members were injured in that attack.
Rocket-propelled grenades are widely used by Afghan insurgents, but they have limited range and hitting an aircraft requires great skill said one military official.”

Daily Telegraph, 3rd August 2011: “The planned withdrawal from Afghanistan is driven as much by financial considerations as military and political ones. A former Pentagon official has calculated that it is costing $20 billion a year simply to supply air-conditioning to US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq….”

Mark Townsend in the Observer, 17th July 2011: “The Commons defence select committee, which has been analysing UK operations in Helmand province since 2006…The report questions how the Ministry of Defence failed to anticipate that the presence of foreign troops in Helmand “might stir up a hornets’ nest”. The then defence secretary, John Reid, was famously reported as saying that he would have been happy if British forces had left Helmand ‘without a shot being fired’. By the end of 2008, however, British forces were expending almost four million bullets a year against an increasingly strident insurgency….”

Nick Hopkins of The Guardian reports on 6th July 2011: “…the RAF wages war against the Taliban in Afghanistan using technology that allows pilots to seek, track and attack insurgents several thousand miles away….But ethical issues will not go away, and senior members of the military establishment admit being troubled by their deployment. Sir Brian Burridge, a former air chief marshal, once described the use of remote-controlled aircraft as a ‘virtueless war’.”

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, 17th June 2011: “Britain’s former special envoy to Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, echoed Kennan last week in claiming that the army’s keenness to fight in Helmand was self-interested. ‘It’s use them or lose them, Sherard,’ he was told by the then chief of the general staff, Sir Richard Dannatt. Cowper-Coles has now gone off to work for an arms manufacturer…The belligerent posture of the US and Britain towards the Muslim world has fostered antagonism and moderate threats in response. The bombing of extremist targets in Pakistan is an invitation for terrorists to attack us, and then a need for defence against such attack.”

Jason Burke in the Guardian, 3rd June 2011: “Britain and the United States are pressing for United Nations sanctions against 18 former senior Taliban figures to be lifted later this month in the strongest indication yet that the western powers are looking for a negotiated peace with the Taliban.
Candidates include the controversial former head of the regime’s religious police, Mohammed Qalamuddin, whose officers were responsible for some of the worst atrocities under the Taliban regime.”

Julian Borger in the Guardian, 26th May 2011: “Britain’s former ambassador to Afghanistan has attacked the conduct of the war by the US commander, General David Petraeus, describing the future CIA chief’s tactics as counter-productive and ‘profoundly wrong’. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who also served as the UK’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, added that Petraeus should be ‘ashamed of himself’ for making claims of the number of insurgent commanders his forces had killed.”

Nick Hopkins in the Guardian, 11th May 2011: “[US General] Bucknall spoke amid growing unease in Kabul about what will happen once Nato troops start to be drawn down later this year…The US has been bankrolling the effort with up to $100bn (£61bn) a year…Sir William Patey, Britain’s ambassador to Kabul, …cautioned about what the new Afghanistan may look like. The Afghans will be in charge. And that will be frustrating for some people in Europe because things will happen [here] that they won’t like.
This is an Islamically conservative country and will remain Islamically conservative and it will have a value system that is different from ours’. However, Patey said there was an opportunity now for the Taliban to talk peace and come in from the cold’.”

Ahmed Rashid in the Financial Times, 18th April 2011: “After more than two years of internal disputes and rivalries, the Obama administration is for the first time united on stepping up its secret talks with the Taliban. It also wants to start wider talks with regional countries such as Pakistan, which hold the key to a peaceful settlement as the US and Nato prepare to pull out their troops by 2014. As the situation in Afghanistan worsens with a ferocious Taliban summer offensive having just started with a spate of suicide bombings, the White House, the state department and the Pentagon are preparing for extensive diplomatic initiatives in the next few months to take the fledgling peace process forward and push to broker an end to the war.
Nato countries, especially Britain, and regional countries, especially Pakistan, have long expressed frustration at the failure of the US administration to unite and move forward more rapidly on ending the war. Most of the 49 countries with troops in Afghanistan are desperate to leave. US officials increasingly are feeling the heat of domestic pressure. According to an ABC poll two-thirds of the American public believe the war is no longer worth fighting. At $2bn a week, the war is exacting a high cost from American and European taxpayers”.

Allegra Stratton & Simon Tisdall in the Guardian, 12th April 2011: “The former foreign secretary David Miliband is to make a strong critique of the US-led strategy in Afghanistan, proposing instead handing over substantial responsibility for building a political solution to the UN, headed by a Muslim mediator capable of negotiating with the Taliban as well as partners throughout the region….The intervention comes as senior military figures predict a rough summer of fighting ahead. ”

Malalai Joya in the Guardian, 30th March 2011: “The disgusting and heartbreaking photos published last week in the German media, and more recently in Rolling Stone magazine, are finally bringing the grisly truth about the war in Afghanistan to a wider public. All the PR about this war being about democracy and human rights melts into thin air with the pictures of US soldiers posing with the dead and mutilated bodies of innocent Afghan civilians”.

Matthew Bell in the Independent, 27th Feb 2011: “Mr Gorbachev condemns the Western occupation of Afghanistan, and issues a direct appeal to Mr Cameron to act.’I am using this interview to appeal to the Prime Minister to go in the right direction on Afghanistan,’ he says. ‘I am appealing to him to set that goal. And I am not saying that he should do it exactly the same way we did it’.”

Duncan Gardham, Sunday Telegraph, 20th Feb 2011: “Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, a member of the Taliban government before September 11, visited London last week amid closely controlled security. Zaeef, who is still said to be close to Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, attended a closed conference part funded by the Foreign Office to discuss peace proposals aimed at ending the fighting.”

Jon Boone in the Guardian, 17th Feb 2011: “US marines in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah say they are using the same approach they successfully employed with ‘awakening’ councils during the Iraq war. But problems are starting to show: the district governor, Abdul Mutalib, last week called in leaders of the 30 groups of up to 50 gunmen to make them sign up to stricter rules of behaviour….Marjah was the first destination for many of those troops exactly a year ago. Despite a publicity blitz that ramped up expectations for a quick success, the troops soon got bogged down in the face of resilient Taliban forces…the marines have been on an extraordinary hiring binge, with 500 recruited in 30 days. The marines’ massive spending power has been critical to attracting recruits ñ they spend about $500,000 (£312,300) every 10 days on discretionary development programmes and ISCI salaries…the ISCI scheme has been hit by problems in Marjah with armed groups fighting against each other, the Afghan security forces and the marines.”

Gary Younge in the Guardian, 31st Jan 2011: “For as the principal retaliatory response to the terror attacks of 9/11, it [invasion of Afghanistan] has failed. It hasn’t brought liberty, democracy or stability. It has killed untold thousands of civilians: untold because they are regarded as expendable. And not only has it not captured the perpetrators of the terror attack, there are far more acts of terrorism globally today than there were in 2001, in no small part because of the chaos wrought by the war on terror.”

Mehdi Hasan in, 29th December 2010: “The cold-blooded killing of Pakistani civilians in a push-button, PlayStation-style drone war is not just immoral and perhaps illegal, it is futile and self-defeating from a security point of view. Take Faisal Shahzad, the so-called Times Square bomber. One of the first things the Pakistani-born US citizen said upon his arrest was: ‘How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.’ Asked by the judge at his trial as to how he could justify planting a bomb near innocent women and children, Shahzad responded by saying that US drone strikes ‘don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody.’
But the innocent victims of America’s secret drone war have become “unpeople”, in the words of the historian Mark Curtis.”

Sunday Telegraph, 19th Dec 2010: “Senior army commanders have asked for the Challenger 2 tanks to be deployed in Helmand, in an admission that forces there lack armoured protection….Senior army commanders have asked for the Challenger 2 tanks to be deployed in Helmand, in an admission that forces there lack armoured protection.”

Al-Jazeera reportage, 5th December 2010: “The European Union no longer believes that US and Nato forces can succeed in Afghanistan, but continues to commit troops to the fight ‘out of deference to the United States”, the EU president [Herman van Rompuy] is quoted as saying in leaked US diplomatic cables.”

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in The Guardian, 25th Nov 2010: ” ‘Security in these areas is for the Taliban,’ an elder from the Dhani Ghorri district told the Guardian. ‘In the courts of the Taliban there are no bribes and no corruption. Even the people from the government come to the Taliban to solve their problems. Problems that take years to be solved in government courts take a few days in the Taliban courts. ‘There is corruption in the government and they don’t solve the problems according to the sharia of God and people just want sharia’.”

Richard Norton-Taylor in The Guardian, 25th Nov 2010: “US officials have blamed Britain for an embarrassing fiasco in which an impostor met Afghan and Nato officials before it was discovered he was not the Taliban leader they thought he was, according to sources familiar with the incident. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported today that people familiar with the con ñ as she described it ñ said ‘the British spent a year developing the fake Taliban leader as a source’.”

Letter to the Editor, The Guardian, 23rd Nov 2010 (From Tom Gill): “Karen McVeigh’s special report on 40 commando’s return from Afghanistan (18 November), was a moving account of the horrors endured by British soldiers. However, it left a strange aftertaste. Re-reading it, I realised that it did not contain a single reference to our soldiers killing anybody, or even shooting in the direction of the Taliban. There are just a couple of abstract references to ‘adopting a more offensive strategy,’ whereas the British casualties are described in vivid, concrete, shocking detail. The overall impression is that 40 commando were sent to Sangin to serve as human punch bags for the Taliban to play with. Was it really like that?”

Peter Preston in The Guardian, 22nd Nov: “the great and good of the alliance met in Lisbon this weekend and decided, after a fashion, to designate 31 December 2014 as ‘the end’ in question. It’s a firm ‘deadline’, according to David Cameron ñ or a ‘provisional’ and ‘aspirational’ one, according Nato’s secretary-general, who seems curiously concerned that ‘conditions have to be right’ to let the boys come home…..Out there, to the Taliban, Lisbon timetables have no meaning (except to nominate a time of opportunity). Out there, any notional dates on year planners may be dust and delusion one blast later. You can’t be categoric in conditions like these. And if you’re forced to be ‘firm’, then there’s really only one conclusion: that the men who die between now and 2015 may well die for nothing. That, if you want to get out, then do what is always do-able if you’re brave enough: just get out now.”

Andrew Murray in The Guardian, 19th November 2010: “It is all too easy to present the ‘enemy abroad’ as the ‘enemy within’ at a time of social stress. This may be a ‘legacy conflict’ for David Cameron, but doubtless his government of inherited wealth can make political use of an inherited war. Perhaps this would all seem a price worth paying were it a war that had a purpose commanding support. But few can now credit the argument that the Taliban need to be fought in Helmand lest they overrun Hampshire.

Not a single terrorist plot launched against this country – nor one thwarted or even alleged -has had any roots in Afghanistan.
Nor does the idea that the occupation is needed to prevent instability find any takers. The war has created a Pakistani Taliban threatening the integrity of that nuclear-armed state, fueled by every disastrous cross-border killing of Pakistani civilians.

No ñ the blood and treasure now being wasted in Afghanistan is an investment in nothing more worthy than saving Nato’s face.”

Karen McVeigh in The Guardian, 18th November 2010: ” ‘It’s shit,’ he said. ‘You pray it’s not your mate. You get angry, angry at the cowards who won’t face you and have to leave devices everywhere. You walk down the bazaar and you don’t know who is who. They don’t wear a uniform and you can’t pick them out. They are obviously getting help from somewhere. They are getting cleverer all the time’.”

Sean Rayment in the Sunday Telegraph interviewing CODS Sir David Richards: “First of all you have to ask: ‘do we need to defeat it (Islamist militancy)?’ in the sense of a clear cut victory, and I would argue that it is unnecessary and would never be achieved.”

William J Astore in Atimes:”Here’s what one farmer in North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal borderlands had to say: ‘I blame the government of Pakistan and the USA … they are responsible for destroying my family. We were living a happy life and I didn’t have any links with the Taliban. My family members were innocent … I wonder, why was I victimized?’

Would an American farmer wonder anything different? Would he not seek vengeance if errant missiles obliterated his family? It’s hard, however, for Americans to grasp the nature of the wars being fought in their name, no less to express sympathy for their victims when they are kept in a state of striking isolation from war’s horrors.

Rob Evans, Richard Norton-Taylor & David Leigh in the Guardian, 27th October 2010 “The conduct of three British military units in Afghanistan has come under serious question after the Ministry of Defence released unprecedented details of incidents in which troops attacked Afghan civilians. The disclosure, in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act made by the Guardian, revealed that of the casualties caused by British forces, two-thirds involved troops from the three units, triggering calls for an inquiry into their behaviour. Releasing information about 21 incidents, the MoD revealed that the Coldstream Guards shot four civilians in Kabul over a period of three weeks; the Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians eight times in six months; and the third unit, the Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year. Among the casualties were children, and on one occasion a man with mental health problems. Details of the attacks were not released at the time…”

Johann Hari in the Independent, 15th October 2010: “Professor of Middle Eastern history Juan Cole puts it more bluntly: ‘When you bomb people and kill their family, it pisses them off. They form lifelong grudges… This is not rocket science. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qa’ida before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be.’ …
Of course jihadism is not motivated solely by attacks against Muslim countries by the West. Some of it is motivated by a theocratic desire to control and tyrannise other humans in the most depraved ways: to punish women who wish to feel the sun on their hair, for one. Yet it is a provable fact that violence against Muslims tips many more people into retaliatory jihadi violence against us….”

Julian Borger in the Guardian, 14th October 2010: “The Seals involved in the assault were summoned by their commander and asked if any of them had used a fragmentation grenade. One stepped forward and identified himself, triggering a frantic effort by embarrassed US commanders to correct the official record [sic] and alert the British government….”

Ewan MacAskill in the Guardian, 8th October 2010: “A damning report into the role of private security companies in Afghanistan, including the multimillion-pound British ArmorGroup, was issued tonight by the US Senate armed services committee…The report claims that the company hired Afghan warlords to provide security and that at least one was alleged to have close ties to the Taliban.”

Editorial in the Guardian, 7th October 2010: “There is a clear and pressing need to end the monumental folly of prosecuting a war in Afghanistan. It is spreading in intensity into the tribal areas of Pakistan and could yet rattle a weak civilian government in Islamabad to bits. To persuade themselves that they are prevailing, the US, Britain and their allies maintain the illusion that they are building the capacity of the Afghan state, when that claim is being routinely undermined by corrupt elections and a president in Hamid Karzai who packs his administration with his relatives. Belief in the nation-building project has collapsed. The bar of success is being lowered…”

Julian Borger & Declan Walsh in the Guardian, 7th Oct 2010: “Both the Afghan and US governments have recently made contact with the most fearsome insurgent group in Afghanistan, the Haqqani network, the Guardian has learned. Hamid Karzai’s government held direct talks with senior members of the Haqqani clan over the summer, according to well-placed Pakistani and Arab sources. The US contacts have been indirect, through a western intermediary, but have continued for more than a year… The Haqqani network has a reputation for ruthlessness, even by the standards of the Afghan insurgency, and has the closest ties with al-Qaida. But Kabul and Washington have come to the conclusion that they cannot be excluded if an enduring peace settlement is to be reached”.

Syed Saleem Shahzad in AsiaTimes, 4th Oct 2010: “Washington was stunned when the Pakistani Foreign Office arranged interviews for its spokesperson, Abdul Basit, with international news agencies. Basit defiantly stated that NATO supply trucks would only be allowed to cross into Afghanistan through Pakistan when anger among the people over the American attacks inside Pakistani had subsided. He added that any attacks on NATO convoys would be ‘the reaction of the Pakistani masses’.”

Daily Mail, 2nd October 2010: “Those who have seen the photos say they are grisly: soldiers beside newly killed bodies, decaying corpses and severed fingers.

The dozens of photos, described in interviews, e-mails and military documents, were seized by Army investigators and are a crucial part of the case against five soldiers accused of killing three Afghan civilians earlier this year.

Troops allegedly shared the photos by e-mail and thumb drive like electronic trading cards. Now 60 to 70 of them are being kept tightly shielded from the public and even defense attorneys because of fears they could wind up in the news media and provoke anti-American violence….”

Chris McGreal in the Guardian, 9th Sept 2010: ‘Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan….’

Pepe Escobar in Asia Times Online, 2nd September 2010:’If schizophrenia defined the Taliban in power, US schizophrenia still rules.

Will the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reach a “Saigon moment” anytime soon – and leave? Not likely. As General David “I’m always positioning myself to 2012″ Petraeus, like his predecessor General Stanley McChrystal, advances his special forces-led, maximum-force Murder Inc to subdue the Taliban, the same Petraeus – no irony intended – may tell Fox News, as he did last week, that the war’s “ultimate goal” is the “reconciliation” of the ultra-corrupt Hamid Karzai government with the Taliban.

Seema Jilani in The Guardian, 31st August 2010: “We have just managed to isolate Afghans from us even more than before. Not only have we invaded their country and torn it to shreds, but we have also created a segregated, imperialistic society ñ one in which Afghans are third-class citizens in their own country, invalidating an already marginalised population further.”

Andrew Roberts, Independent on Sunday, 29th August: “Afghanistan’s presidential office condemned reports in the American media that Afghan government officials have received payments from the CIA in return for information. A US newspaper report that a key national security adviser to the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, was being paid by the CIA is an insult to Afghanistan aimed at discrediting Mr Karzai’s government, his office said on Saturday.”

AP report in the Guardian, 28th August 2010: “Insurgents launched pre-dawn attacks today on a major Nato base in eastern Afghanistan and a nearby camp…Separately, Nato said one of its patrols mistakenly fired on a vehicle carrying private security contractors in Wardak province west of Kabul, killing two men….”

Jon Boone in the Guardian, 16th August 2010: “Nato and the United Nations are cautiously considering a Taliban proposal to set up a joint commission to investigate allegations of civilians being killed and wounded…The UN and Nato are treading carefully, but western diplomats say the proposal is being carefully considered…The attraction to Nato is that contacts with the Taliban might help improve a dire security situation that threatens to deteriorate.”

Priyamvada Gopal in the Guardian, 4th August 2010: “…the WikiLeaks documents reveal CIA advice to use the plight of Afghan women as ‘pressure points’, an emotive way to rally flagging public support for the war….Formulaic narratives are populated by tireless Western humanitarians, sex-crazed polygamous pedophiles (most Afghan men) and burka-clad ‘child-women’ who are broken in body and spirit or have just enough doughtiness to be scripted into a triumphal Hollywood narrative. The real effects of the Nato occupation, including the worsening of many women’s lives under the lethally violent combination of old patriarchal feudalism and new corporate militarism are rarely discussed.”

Sony Hundal in the Guardian, 3rd August 2010: “As soon as the WikiLeaks Afghanistan expose came to light, it was obvious the usual suspects would start attacking the messenger than discussing the message. David Aaronovitch was quick off the mark, with others following soon enough – implying WikiLeaks was seriously damaging the war effort in Afghanistan…There is obviously a bigger issue here: the mind-numbing shamelessness of the neocon movement and their hypocritical approach to domestic and foreign affairs….The question now shouldn’t be whether WikiLeaks has destabilised Afghanistan. It should be why these people, who pushed us into the biggest foreign policy disasters of this generation, are still paid any attention.”

David Randall & Jonathan Owen, Independent on Sunday, 1st August, 2010: “The death of innocent civilians, whether by accident or design, goes some way towards explaining why the coalition is failing to win hearts and minds. A compelling example of the depth to which some Afghans are opposed to what they view as a foreign occupation is the incident where an American patrol was lured into a deadly ambush by villagers in Ganjigal, eastern Afghanistan, in September last year. Four US soldiers died. A report says soldiers stated: ‘They had eyewitness accounts of children in the village firing at the CF ground unit… and women assisting to resupply ammunition’.”

Jon Boone & Ali Safi in the Guardian, 28th July 2010: “The foreign forces could see us,’ said Haji Abdul Ghafar, a 38-year-old farmer who had fled to Regey from a nearby village. ‘We were not in any hideouts. The Americans can see tiny things on the ground, but they could not see us. I think they bombed us on purpose’….Ghafar made clear his disdain for foreign soldiers. ‘When Taliban fight, they always tell us to leave the area,” he said. “Even before this fighting, Taliban told us to leave the area and we left’.”

David Leigh & Matthew Taylor in the Guardian, 27th July 2010: “Four days after it was first approached by the Guardian, the British Ministry of Defence said it was still unable to give an account of two questionable clusters of civilian shootings by British troops detailed in the American logs. They were alleged to have taken place in Kabul in a month in 2007 when a detachment of the Coldstream Guards was patrolling, and in the southern province of Helmand during a six-month tour of duty by Royal Marine commandos at the end of 2008. The MoD said: ‘We are currently examining our records to establish the facts in the alleged civilian casualty incidents raised’.”

David Leigh in the Guardian, 26th July 2010: “Behind the military jargon, the war logs are littered with accounts of civilian tragedies…
They range from the shootings of individual innocents to the often massive loss of life from air strikes, which eventually led President Hamid Karzai to protest publicly that the US was treating Afghan lives as ‘cheap’. …US and allied commanders frequently deny allegations of mass civilian casualties, claiming they are Taliban propaganda or ploys to get compensation, which are contradicted by facts known to the military. But the logs demonstrate how much of the contemporaneous US internal reporting of air strikes is simply false.”

Stephen Foley in the Independent, 26th July 2010: “The newspapers given privileged access to the WikiLeaks material revealed that the Taliban have used heat-seeking missiles against coalition forces, when public statements from the Pentagon have suggested less sophisticated weaponry was involved. Drone aircraft used to survey the battlefield and strike targets in Afghanistan have crashed or collided, forcing American troops to undertake risky retrieval missions before the Taliban can claim the drone’s weaponry…”

Robert Blackwill in the Financial Times, 22nd July 2010: “President Barack Obama has promised to review the administration’s Afghanistan policy in December. After this review the US should stop talking about exit strategies, and accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south. Instead Washington should move to ensure that north and west Afghanistan do not fall too, using for many years to come US air power and special forces….and the help of like-minded nations…an irredentist ‘Pashtunistan’, and perhaps the fracturing of Pakistan, could happen…by why should the US be more concerned about the territorial integrity of Pakistan…”
FT, 22nd July 2010

Jon Boone in the Guardian, 20th July 2010: “a few days before the [Kabul Security] conference, a senior European diplomat said glumly: ‘I cannot think of a single reason to die for Afghanistan’….A security official who has in the past been involved in efforts to reach out to the Taliban bemoaned the fact that so many years had been wasted, pointing out that in Northern Ireland the British government had contacts ‘from the beginning’.”

Jon Boone in the Guardian, 19th July 2010: “The report by the Afghanistan NGO Security Office, which monitors trends in violence on behalf of aid organisations, said Nato’s counter-insurgency strategy was not showing any signs of succeeding …It added that the military buildup in Kandahar, which will see fighting take place in districts surrounding the city in the autumn, ‘will cause a significant rise in support for the armed opposition in Kandahar and, with that, make eventual Taliban ascendancy feasible’….A paper by the Afghanistan NGO Security Office articulated what most people believe: that the counter-insurgency programme cannot win. It sees this summer’s surge of US troops in southern Afghanistan as the ‘grand finale’ of a western intervention which is looking to wind itself up.”

Ewen MacAskill in The Guardian, 8th July 2010: “Retired [US] general Dan McNeill …cited a secret truce made in 2006 between the British and the Taliban in Musa Qala, in Helmand. ‘I think that was eventually shown not to be a wise move,’ McNeill said….The only serious complaint heard around the Pentagon about the British now is that they boasted at the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that they knew more about counter-insurgency than the Americans because of their experience in Northern Ireland. The Americans believe that turned out to be an empty boast

Aunohita Mojumdar et al in The Guardian, 8th July 2010: “While British soldiers have battlefield superiority over their enemy, many of whom are armed with basic rifles, the nature of the counter-insurgency requires them to conduct ‘presence patrols’in villages. This makes them an easy target for insurgents who plant roadside bombs by night then melt into the population during the day. The Taliban are also becoming more canny: this year troops reported more landmines with no metal content, rendering metal detectors useless.”

Patrick Wintour & Richard Norton-Taylor in The Guardian, 7th July 2010: “British forces are to be pulled out of Sangin, the remote district of Helmand that has become the most deadly place in Afghanistan for Nato soldiers…One source said of the decision to withdraw: ‘I hope it will not be portrayed as a retreat. There may be people in the media who want to do that. It is a consolidation of UK forces so that we can get the proper density of UK forces in central Helmand’.”

James Denselow in The Guardian, 4th July 2010: “An unwillingness to track the number of Afghan civilians killed undermines attempts to gauge progress in the country.
June was a terrible month for the war in Afghanistan. The milestone of the 300th British death was compounded by the most deadly month for the Nato-led mission since the start of the conflict. The precise compilation of western casualties contrasts with almost criminal neglect in tracking the numbers of Afghan civilians killed since 2001….the British ministry of defence ‘does not maintain records that would enable a definitive number of civilian fatalities to be recorded’.”

Nicholas Watt in The Guardian, 1st July 2010: “[Defence Secretary Liam] Fox, who annoyed Downing Street in May by likening Afghanistan to a ‘broken 13th century country’, made no mention of the prime minister’s withdrawal timetable in an early draft of a speech to the rightwing Heritage Foundation in Washington…’It would be a betrayal of all the sacrifices made by our armed forces in life and limb’.”