Afghanistan



AfghanistanThis article is from 2010, but the math still adds up. From NPR:

Afghanistan hasn’t become the U.S.’ longest war; Vietnam still is, according to someone who should know, Richard Holbrooke, the Obama Administration’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who also served as a young American diplomat in Vietnam.

Holbrooke spoke with All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel Monday (we’ll provide a live link when it becomes available) and took issue with what he sees as a revisionist history being peddled by some in the media who are dating the start of Vietnam to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964.

President Lyndon Johnson got Congress to pass the resolution on what many historians consider the trumped-up pretext of a North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. warship …


Noah Schachtman of Wired reports on some subversive thoughts expressed by former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair (thanks to Liam P for submitting this story):

ASPEN, Colorado — Ground the U.S. drone war in Pakistan. Rethink the idea of spending billions of dollars to pursue al-Qaida. Forget chasing terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, unless the local governments are willing to join in the hunt.

Those aren’t the words of some human rights activist, or some far-left Congressman. They’re from retired admiral and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair — the man who was, until recently, nominally in charge of the entire American effort to find, track, and take out terrorists…


The Office was a hit in England before it became a hit in the States. With the mock-documentary, hand-cam style of filming, Afghanistan is now getting it’s own version entitled The Ministry. Daily Mail reports:

Rather than being set in a Slough paper manufacturing firm, ‘The Ministry’ is based in the war-torn country’s Ministry of Garbage. The mock-documentary has been filmed in exactly the same way as Ricky Gervais’ BBC comedy.

Footage of the characters addressing the camera directly, as if being interviewed, is interspersed with scenes of them apparently going about their working lives. The comedy, which will be broadcast on Afghanistan’s largest commercial television station Tolo TV later this year, features a sleazy manager, a dozy security guard and a man-hating female secretary.







Military maneuvering in the 21st century means the Pentagon and Islamicist rebels responding to one another’s tweets, apparently. If this is a hoax, it has fooled the Guardian, among others: When the…







Proving that some magazines are still able to practice important investigative journalism, Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings shows how the U.S. Army deliberately misled Senators on a fact-finding visit to Afghanistan. You might…


In America we complain that parents keep their kids quiet (and obese) with TV and junk food. That strategy looks remarkably good compared to Afghanistan where overtaxed parents keep their kids quiet (and skinny) with opium. For real — Arwa Damon reports for CNN:

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan — In a far flung corner of northern Afghanistan, Aziza reaches into the dark wooden cupboard, rummages around, and pulls out a small lump of something wrapped in plastic.

She unwraps it, breaking off a small chunk as if it were chocolate, and feeds it to four-year-old son, Omaidullah. It’s his breakfast — a lump of pure opium.

“If I don’t give him opium he doesn’t sleep,” she says. “And he doesn’t let me work.”…


Tarok KolacheSpencer Ackerman writes on the intriguing WIRED’s Danger Room:

An American-led military unit pulverized an Afghan village in Kandahar’s Arghandab River Valley in October, after it became overrun with Taliban insurgents. It’s hard to understand how turning an entire village into dust fits into America’s counterinsurgency strategy — which supposedly prizes the local people’s loyalty above all else.

But it’s the latest indication that Gen. David Petraeus, the counterinsurgency icon, is prosecuting a frustrating war with surprising levels of violence. Some observers already fear a backlash brewing in the area.

Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate and Petraeus biographer, described the destruction of Tarok Kolache in a guest post for Tom Ricks’ Foreign Policy blog. Or, at least, she described its aftermath: Nothing remains of Tarok Kolache after Lt. Col. David Flynn, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 1-320th, made a fateful decision in October.


A fascinating profile of Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, once (and in his own mind always) a CIA spy, by Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times:

Duane R. Clarridge parted company with the Central Intelligence Agency more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,”…


The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to end it must be ours. — Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking of Vietnam.

This week the Pentagon sank to a new low: claiming that Dr. King would “understand” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. King’s legacy is clear: he opposed war and other violence and condemned war as “an enemy of the poor.”


The irrepressible Robert Greenwald explains why Joe Klein is the stupid one in the debate about taking our troops out of Afghanistan, at Huffington Post:

…Let’s talk about stupid for a minute.

The U.S. has increased troop levels in Afghanistan every year since the initial invasion, and every year we’ve seen an increased level of violence in Afghanistan. President Obama and General Petraeus promised–twice!–that huge troop increases would help “protect the population” of Afghanistan and break Taliban momentum…