Tag Archives | Afghanistan
The incomparable Adam Curtis, director of several powerful documentary films including The Power of Nightmares, delves deep into the psychology of the war on terror via his BBC blog:
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At the beginning of this year one of the weirdest characters ever to become involved in the present Afghan war died. He was called Jack Idema and he was a brilliant con-man. For a moment, during the early part of the war, Idema persuaded all the major TV networks and scores of journalists that he was some kind of special forces super-hero who was using all kinds of “black ops” to track down and arrest the terrorists.
In reality, before 2001, Idema had been running a hotel for pets in North Carolina called The Ultimate Pet Resort. He had been in prison for fraud, and had tried to con journalists before about being some kind of super-spy. But September 11th gave him his chance — and he turned up in Kabul dressed like this.
Reports ABC News:
A senior Australian Defence Force officer has revealed details of how the Royal Australian Air Force deploys Israeli-owned drones for battlefield surveillance and to target anti-government Islamic fighters in Afghanistan.
Wing Commander Jonathan McMullan says Australia is “just buying hours” on the Heron drones from a Canadian company that in turn “leases them from IAI” (Israel Aerospace Industries), which is wholly owned by the Israeli government.
While enthusiastically endorsing the Heron’s capabilities, Wing Commander McMullan was highly critical of the quality of training provided by Israeli and Canadian instructors to Australian drone crews.
The unarmed Israeli Herons first entered RAAF service in Afghanistan in December 2009. They are the centrepiece of the ADF’s rapidly expanding drone warfare capability that has so far cost an estimated $550 million. Australian Defence Force chief General David Hurley told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra late last month: “I wouldn’t discount the fact that we might have armed UAVs thinking through our force structure review into the future.”…
More: ABC News
This is a pretty terrible statistic: 154 active duty troops have committed suicide in the first 155 days of the new year--a rate alarmingly close to one per day. The number dead from suicides eclipses the U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan by about 50 percent. For comparison, there were around 130 suicide deaths during the same time last year, reports The Associated Press' Robert Burns. It's difficult to wrap our brains around that number and that rate, and of course that statistic is just one more troubling recent finding from our troops. (Remember the reports that found that sexual assaults among members of the army were up 64 percent from 2006? Or the rise in alcohol abuse?) "It's a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war," Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired Army general told Burns. "We've seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison."...
Rolling Stone on the strange and sad saga of Bowe Bergdahl, the final U.S. prisoner of war being held by the Taliban. After sending a goodbye email to his parents stating that he was “ashamed to be an American”, Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan three years ago:
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The Taliban captured 26-year-old Bowe Bergdahl on June 30th, 2009, and since that day, his parents, Jani and Bob, have had no contact with him. Like the rest of the world, their lone glimpses of Bowe – the only American prisoner of war left in either Iraq or Afghanistan – have come through a series of propaganda videos, filmed while he’s been in captivity.
Bowe’s own tour of duty in Afghanistan mirrored the larger American experience in the war – marked by tragedy, confusion, misplaced idealism, deluded thinking and, perhaps, a moment of insanity. And it is with Bowe that the war will likely come to an end.
Reports the AP:
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America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.
A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.
What’s more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.
It’s unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors.
Oh, if only it were the Hague. Or better yet, the U.S. Supreme Court. I guess it’s a start, though. Via Common Dreams:
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Former President George W Bush, his vice president, Dick Cheney, and six other members of his administration have been found guilty of war crimes by a tribunal in Malaysia.
Bush, Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and five of their legal advisers were tried in their absence and convicted on Saturday.
Victims of torture told a panel of five judges in Kuala Lumpur of their suffering at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the evidence, Briton Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, said he was beaten, put in a hood and left in solitary confinement. Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi said she was stripped and humiliated in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
Transcripts of the five-day trial will be sent to the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the Security Council.
Ron Paul writes on the Daily Bell:
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This month Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the addition of some 1,900 mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff in attempt to get a handle on the epidemic of suicides among combat veterans. Unfortunately, when presidents misuse our military on an unprecedented scale – and Congress lets them get away with it – the resulting stress causes military suicides to increase dramatically, both among active duty and retired service members. In fact, military deaths from suicide far outnumber combat deaths. According to an article in the Air Force Times this month, suicides among airmen are up 40 percent over last year.
Considering the multiple deployments service members are forced to endure as the war in Afghanistan stretches into its second decade, these figures are sadly unsurprising.
Ironically, the same VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was forced to retire from the Army by President Bush for daring to suggest that an invasion and occupation of Iraq would not be the cakewalk that neoconservatives promised.
Now why would the military do such a thing? Reports Robert Burns in the AP via Google News:
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The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.
The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds — or misses — his U.S. 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 U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The U.S. 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.