måndag, december 19, 2011

Obeskrivlig sorg - Kim Jong-Il är död


Vaknade med att läsa att vår store ledare Kim Jong-Il har avlidit. Den 69-årige ledaren avled i lördags på grund av fysisk och psykisk överbelastning. Han arbetade ihjäl sig för sitt folk. Vilken hjälte!!! Nu skall den nyinskolade favoritsonen Kim Jong-Un ta över efter sin pappa. Vi håller tummarna att han skall lyckas lika bra som sin far.


 GP, AB, DN, SVD

lördag, december 17, 2011

ارواښاد استاد رحیم غمزده - Ustad Rahim Ghamzada

Ustad Rahim Ghamzada som var en erkänd artist har under fredagen gått till sin sista vila. Det är med sorg jag läste nedanstående:



ارواښاد استاد رحیم غمزده


دخواشینۍ پیغام
ارواښاد استاد رحیم غمزده هغه ویاړلې او برمیاله څیره وه، چې د ده تل پاتی غږ او هنرد اوریدونکو او لیدونکو په زړونو کې منګولې شخوي او خپل ځانته یې راکاږي. دی د موسیقې په آسمان کې ځلانده ستوری وو، او په کلونو کلونود بزمونو مشال وو.
ارواښاد استاد رحیم غمزده پنځه اویه (۷۵) کاله مخکې د ننګرهارولایت دخوګیانیو په ولسوالی کې زیږیدلی وو.
ده له کوچینوالي څخه د موسیقې له هنر سره ځانګړې مینه لرله او په شپاړلس کلنې کې یې د موسیقې دهنر په زده کړو پیل وکړ، او دمحلي موسیقي سره یې زیاته مینه درلوده.
ارواښادغمزده صاحب په رادیو او تلویزون کې د یوسلوپنځه شپیته(۱۶۵) په شاووخوا کې آهنګونه ثبت کړي دي، چې د زیاترو آهنګونو کمپوزونه ده خپل جوړکړي دي. دی دکنسرتونوپه اجرا کولو کې د مقاماتو له خوا نمانځل شوی وو، او ډیرزیات سوغاتونه یې ترلاسه کړي وو. ده دخپل ژوند شپیته (۶۰) کاله عمر د افغاني موسیقې په خدمت کې تیر کړی دی. دی نه یوازی، چې دموسیقې دهنر یو تکړه هنرمند وو، بلکې ښه شاعرهم وو.
په خواشینۍ سره، دغې نامتوهنرمند، د (۱۳۹۰)لمریزکال د لیندې د میاشتی په (۲۵) نیټه دجمعی په ورځ د(۷۵) کالو په عمر کې د جلال آباد په ښار کې له دې فاني دنیا څخه د تل لپاره سترګې پټې کړې.
انا الله واناالیه راجعون
د ده مړینه زموږ دهیواد لپاره او په ځانګړي توګه د موسیقې دهنرپه ډګر کې یوه ستره ضایعه ده.
زه نه یوازی پدې مناسبت دزړه له کومې خپګان او ژوره خواشیني څرګندوم، بلکې د ده کورنۍ او څپلوانو ته دصبراو تسلیت مراتب وړاندې کوم او د لوی خدای (ج) څخه ده ته د فردوس جنت غواړم.
شاعر وایي:
چې پیدا شوی تا ژړل خلکو خندل
داسې مړ شه چې ته خاندې خلک ژاړي
په ډیر درنښت: انجنیرعبدالقادر مسعود





Den kända afghansk sångare, Rahim Ghamzada, dog av en långvarig sjukdom på ett civilt sjukhus i östra Nangarhar-provinsen på fredagsmorgonen. Han blev 75.
Ghamzada tjänade den afghanska musiken i mer än 50 år.
Sjukhusdirektören, doktor Baaz Muhammed Sherzad, sade att Ghamzada hade strupcancer sedan tre år tillbaka.
"Han slutade att tala sedan torsdag morgon", säger Muhammad Zubair Khaksar, en vän och beundrare av sångaren.
"Rahim Ghamzada var den första sångaren som komponerade Pashto folkmusik i både österländska och västerländska toner" framförde Khaksar och tillade att representanter från regeringen och de kulturella myndigheterna aldrig hade betalat honom någon uppmärksamhet under sina tre år av sjukdom.
Ghamzada efterlämnade tre söner, som också är sångare.
Ghamzada hade arbetat 60 år inom musikbranschen. Han jobbade även med radio och TV, sade Mohammad Ayub Fazali, talesman för Afghanistan Artists Association . Han hade sjungit hundratals låtar under sin karriär, sade han.
Enligt chef för författare och journalister föreningen, Lal Pacha Azmun var Ghamzada inte bara en bra sångerska utan också en bra musiker.
Rahim Ghamzada kommer att läggas till vila i hans familj kyrkogård i Khogyani-distriktet.
/HW


måndag, september 05, 2011

Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night



US Marine commanders spend their days hunting Taliban fighters but lay down their weapons to dine with insurgent leaders at night as they try to negotiate an end to fighting in Afghanistan.

Sangin - Sitting in the spartan parlour of the governor of Sangin's office, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Savage waits for his opposite number in the Taliban to turn up for tea.

Fittingly, perhaps, for a man whose day job is killing Lt Col Savage's fellow US Marines, the insurgent leader will only ever meet at night, and even then, it is a cloak-and-dagger affair.

Shortly after 9pm, there is a crunch of gravel in the fortified compound outside, and in walks a figure swathed in black save for a slit for his eyes.

He peels off his veil with theatrical flair, greets the Colonel, and over a dinner of stew and rice, the two discuss the one thing that both badly want, but neither can deliver alone - peace.

"I have talked to three different local Taliban commanders, and this particular one is a pretty respected guy," said Lt Col Savage, who says they may well have killed his own men, and almost certainly some of the British whom the Marines inherited part of southern Afghanistan from last year.

"But he's tired of fighting, and if he lays down his weapons he could have a significant effect around here. I have to put aside what he may have done in the past, and think about what he can do in the future."

Shrouded in secrecy and fraught with mutual mistrust, it is meetings like these that the West hopes may finally achieve what nearly a decade of military intervention, billions in aid and thousands of troops' lives has not yet done - a lasting accommodation with the Taliban that will one day enable Col Savage and every other foreign soldier in Afghanistan to leave for good.

Speaking last month in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, the outgoing US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said he hoped that talks might begin with the movement's Pakistan-based leadership as soon as the end of this year. But with hardline elements in the high command apparently reluctant to talk, parallel efforts to peel away battle-weary footsoldiers may prove just as important.

Hence the need for Col Savage, a lean figure who might have stepped out of a Marines recruitment poster, to play both warrior and diplomat. Brought in via the local governor, a respected schoolmaster named Mohammed Sharif, the Taliban leaders he talks to represent a spectrum of motivations. One, says Col Savage, is the 25-year-old grandson of a local elder, "very cocky, but under pressure from the Taliban leadership to continue fighting".

Another seems partly mercenary, open to side with whoever offers him money. And the third, for whom he has highest hopes, is a taciturn, bearded man in his mid-40s, who has fought almost non-stop since the anti-Soviet jihad, and wants to spent some of his adulthood in peace.

The commander of 15 to 20 fighters, he is a former pupil of the governor, who guarantees him safe passage to his compound during his visits after dark, and ensures that the Afghan police outside allow the visitor's vehicle to pass unhindered - although he is still frisked for weapons on his way in. How far his clandestine visits are known to other senior Taliban figures, of whom some may have given approval but others may oppose, is unclear.

"This particular guy is fairly educated by local standards - he signs papers with his initials rather than a thumb print," said Col Savage, who heads the 1st Battalion 5th Regiment US Marines. "He doesn't say much, but we get on fairly cordially."

Such civility is all the more surprising given the intensity of the combat outside. While successive Marine battalions have inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban, 37 of their own men have died in the process, an attrition level comparable to the British, who lost 100 here in four years. Yet to Col Savage, concerns over their respective casualties offer a chance for common ground.

"We talk as one commander to another, about how it feels to lose men, and what it is like making difficult decisions," he said. "This is an unusual war, and often the best way to engage the enemy is by talking to him." Col Savage has had several confidential meetings with the middle-aged Taliban leader, whose fondness for dramatic entrances is perhaps worthy of the Cadbury's Milk Tray Man.

Yet unlike the chocolate advert's hero, the leader in question is far from guaranteed to deliver. The deal on the table for commanders seeking amnesty can include development projects for their villages, and employment for their men in local security forces. In exchange, they must agree to be photographed and biometrically assessed, so that coalition forces can keep tabs on them.

But it is not so much the beady eye of Uncle Sam that worries them, as the threats they will face from so-called "irreconcilable" Taliban, who will see them as traitors. So far, none of commanders in Sangin district have taken the plunge.

"The middle-aged commander blows hot and cold, offering to bring in 10 or 20 followers, but then not showing," said Col Savage. "They ask us for extra weapons to protect themselves from other Taliban factions, but that isn't something I can help with. I'd let them keep their AK47s, maybe even a few RPGs, but I can't go beyond that."

For Col Savage, such wooing evokes memories of the "Sunni Awakening" in Iraq's Anbar province, in which US Marines helped persuade tribes to ditch al Qaeda and join local security forces.

But comparisons, he stresses, are limited. While Iraq's Sunnis were driven by both hatred of al-Qaeda and fear of Shia domination, the Taliban have no such urgent motivations.

For all that their ranks have taken a hammering, courtesy of the US troop "surge" and drone attacks on their senior leaders, many believe that coalition plans to remove combat troops by 2014 mean it is now just a case of biding their time.

"It is true we are kicking the crap out of them, but the Taliban aren't in their death throes yet," said Colonel Eric Smith, a senior Marines commander.

"Many fighters on the ground are fed up with 'leadership by cellphone', where people who aren't actually fighting themselves are issuing orders, and I'd certainly rather talk to those guys than kill them. But it seems there are guys up in Quetta who aren't interested in giving up any time soon."

Quetta is the Pakistani city on the other side of Afghanistan's mountainous border, where the Taliban's one-eyed spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, is thought to have lived since the 9-11 attacks.

Last month, Marc Grossman, the US envoy to Kabul nicknamed "Mr Reconciliation", reportedly appealed for him to get in touch. While the fugitive leader is said to have ruled out any dialogue, Col Savage suspects lower-level Taliban commanders in Sangin may have been given "tacit permission" for exploratory talks.

Ground-level talks are already underway elsewhere in Afghanistan, courtesy of an £88 million formal "integration" programme which began a year ago, jointly funded by the US, Japan, Germany and Britain.

Overseen by a British commander, Major General Phil Jones, it requires defecting Taliban fighters to spend three months in a safe house while they undergo a "parole" screening to assess the sincerity of their decision to quit.

So far, however, only around 2,000 of the estimated 25,000 active Taliban fighters have signed up, with few from the most volatile southern regions, and the programme has not been without blips.

One prominent commander who was paraded on national television when he signed up has threatened to rejoin the insurgency, claiming he got none of the money that he was promised.

Others have been killed by Taliban loyalists, while some should arguably never have been allowed into the programme at all - such as Moulavi Isfandar, who had ordered the flogging and execution of a widow accused of adultery.

Three registered ex-fighters were also part of a mob that stormed a UN compound in April and killed eight foreign aid workers. "It just demonstrates the sort of complexity of the issue we're dealing with here and the need to take this extremely seriously," Gen Jones conceded at a recent Pentagon briefing.

The limited take-up of the programme also poses questions as to how many Taliban actually want to quit fighting. Contrary to popular belief, not all are just poor peasants in it for the money. For some, the Taliban's brand of hardline Islamic piety is still seen as preferable to the corrupt, Western-backed government in Kabul.

The other problem is what happens should the de-fanged Taliban seek a role in government, which has always understood to be part of the wider peace deal. While power-sharing could probably only go ahead if they agreed to soften their stance on social issues like women's rights, it is hard to see how such a hardline movement could adapt to democratic compromise.

That certainly, is the impression given from meeting ex-Taliban officials like Mohammed Qalamuddin, who banned make-up, music and television while serving as deputy head of the notorious vice and virtue ministry. Last week, as part of continuing confidence-building measures, the United Nations removed his name and 14 other Taliban figures from a sanctions blacklist.

But while time has mellowed the bushy-bearded cleric a little - he now has a television in his own living room, and even allowed The Sunday Telegraph to take a photo of him, which would have counted as an "idolatrous image" in the old days - he has no regrets about the extreme strictures he passed while in office.

"We have 25 million people here, and if you go outside of Kabul, you will find 24 million of them still accept Islamic rule," he said. "Music and TV is not important to them."

Given the ubiquity of satellite dishes and CD music shops not just in free-and-easy Kabul but across the country, it would seem many Afghans would disagree.

Yet a partial return of the Taliban could also split the country along ethnic as well as moral lines.

Afghan's ethnic Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks, who dominate the north, are increasingly anxious that the West's haste for a peace deal will hand the Pashtun-led Taliban more influence than they deserve.

Still, as long as foreign soldiers are being killed, men like Col Savage are likely to continue hunting their adversaries one day and dining with them the next. And for Sangin's "irreconcilable" Taliban, Col Savage also has the option of what is arguably an altogether more Afghan solution. One local elder has offered his services as a bounty hunter, killing "irreconcilables" for bounty cash.

"It seemed idle talk at first, but then the guy offered me a detailed price list," Col Savage said. "I told him 'You kill these guys, and we will figure things out afterwards'."


Source: Telegraph By: Colin Freeman

måndag, augusti 22, 2011

Difference between terrorism


tisdag, maj 17, 2011

Afghaner glada över bin Ladins död

Afghaner är glada att Osama är död!

Läste att afghanska männen är glada över att bin Ladin dödats. Vem hade trott något annat? Afghanistan blev invaderad av USA och NATO just på grund av Osama bin Laden och hans terrornätverk Al-Qaida. Afghaner är även glada att bin Laden hittades just i Pakistan och inte i Afghanistan. För detta har man sagt hela tiden utan att någon lyssnat på Afghanerna. Det kanske är dags att lyssa på vad Afghaner vill istället för att göra antaganden.

Mer än två tredjedelar av de afghanska männen anser att Usama bin Ladins död är en god nyhet visar en opinionsmätning i det krigshärjade landet.

International Council on Security and Development har intervjuat 600 afghanska män i bland annat våldsdrabbade Kandahar, lugna Panjshir och på Kabuls universitet.

Efter bin Ladins död har röster höjts i USA med krav på snabbare tillbakadragande av trupper från Afghanistan där bin Ladin tidigare gömt sig.

TT-AFP

DN

tisdag, maj 03, 2011

Pakistan beskyddade Osama bin Laden

Jag har tidigare gått ut med att det är uppenbart att Pakistan huserar Osama bin Laden inne i Pakistan. Men jag kunde aldrig i min vildaste fantasi ana att Pakistan skulle vara så dumma att man gömde Osama bin Laden inne i Islamabad, närmare bestämt nära en militärbas i Abbottabad.
Det spelar ingen roll hur oskyldiga Pakistan utger sig för att vara för tillfället och att de inte haft någon aning om att Osama bin Laden byggt ett fort för flera miljoner dollar. Vem försöker Pakistan lura genom att spela som offer för terrorism och helt ovetande att Osama bin Laden slagit sig till ro i utkanterna av Islamabad? ISI som är Pakistans underrättelsetjänst måste ta oss alla för idioter som tror sig komma undan med detta. Ögonvittnen gör gällande att Pakistansk militär bevakade Osama’s boning och att det var Pakistans egen militär som sköt ner en av de störtade Amerikanska helikoptrarna med raketgevär.  

Kravet på både USA och Pakistan borde nu vara att lägga alla kort på bordet om hur Osama kunde gömma sig i Islamabad i 10 år och varför dessa två stater ger olika förklaringar till hur operationen genomfördes.  Obama sade i sitt tal till nationen att operationen skedde i samråd med Pakistan medan Asif Zardari gått ut med att Pakistan inte hade någon aning om att Amerikaner skulle slå till mot denna byggnad.
Min teori är att USA försöker framställa Pakistan i bästa dagar trots att det är uppenbart för alla att Pakistan är den stat som både skapat Talibaner och samtidigt tränat och huserat dessa för att sedan skicka de vidare till Afghanistan.  Någon kamp mot terrorism har dessvärre inte Pakistan ägnat sig åt utan tvärtom har man fortsatt att ge dessa terrorister fristad inne i Pakistan.

Var tror ni Mullah Omar och övriga Talibanska toppfigurer huserar? Min gissning är i staden Karachi. Pakistanska underrättelsetjänsten har som huvudmål att skapa destabilitet i regionen och gör allt i sin makt att se till att Afghanistan inte får någon stabilitet. Risken som Pakistan ser med ett stabilt Afghanistan är ”Durrand uppgörelsen”, som innebär att halva Pakistan enligt kontrakt tillhör Afghanistan och skulle återgått till Afghanistan i början av 90-talet. Men eftersom det rådde inbördeskrig i Afghanistan har man haft egna problem och inte kunnat göra anspråk på ”Pashtunistan”.  Kontraktet är av samma karaktär som tecknades mellan Britterna och Kina gällande Hong Kong.

Väst borde därför få upp ögonen på Pakistan och ställa hårdare krav på att redovisa vad som gjorts och vad som görs för att förhindra terroristläger i Pakistan och att skicka över Talibansoldater och självmordsbombare till Afghanistan.

Helst borde USA överta de kärnvapen som Pakistan äger och bestraffa landet genom hårdare sanktioner för att stabilisera regionen.

Hursomhelst så är Osama bin Ladens död inne i Pakistan en stor skam för Pakistan och ISI.

torsdag, april 28, 2011

Vem är Pakistan att tala om vad som är bäst för Afghanistan?


Under ett möte den 16 april var flera stora delegater och högt uppsatta politiker med på ett möte i Kabul. Flera krav ställdes på Afghanistan och den korrupta afghanska regeringen. Hur som helst är detta tydliga tecken på Pakistans inblandning i Afghanistans interna angelägenhet.
Handelsavtal och politiska relationer skall först tas upp med Pakistan innan bindande avtal sker. Afghanistan har som tidigare nämnts betydande malmfyndigheter som fortfarande är oexploaterade. Dessa fyndigheter vill Pakistan naturligtvis sätta vantarna på. Tätare afghanskt samarbete med väst kan sätta käppar i hjulet i Pakistans planer för Afghanistan.
Vem tror Pakistan att de är som dikterar hur Afghanistan skall sköta sina interna angelägenheter?

Pakistan Urged Afghanistan to Distance Itself From the West, Officials Say

Source: The New York Times By: ALISSA J. RUBIN
KABUL, Afghanistan — With Afghan discussions under way about the future involvement of the United States in the country and the prospect of long-term military bases, the Pakistani government has urged Afghanistan to distance itself from the West and tie its future more tightly to that of China and Pakistan, according to Afghans and Americans who are knowledgeable about a meeting between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

During a landmark April 16 meeting here in Kabul, for which the most powerful figures in the Pakistani government flew to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan suggested that Afghanistan needed to look to China, a power in the ascendance, rather than hewing closely to the United States.

“There was a mention of China in the meeting, China as a country, as an emerging economic power, and that maybe we should reach out to a new global economic power,” said an Afghan official knowledgeable about the meeting. “And there was the suggestion that Afghanistan and Pakistan should strengthen relations.”

“You couldn’t tell exactly what they meant, whether China could possibly be an alternative to the United States, but they were saying it could help both countries,” the official said, referring to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The official asked not to be named because of the delicacy of the subject, which he was not authorized to speak about publicly.

The focus on China makes sense because it is a great power that would be acceptable to Afghanistan as an ally in ways that Russia never could be because of its history as a hated occupier of Afghanistan during the 1980s. And, from Pakistan’s point of view, China provides a counterbalance to India, its archenemy.

The effort to draw Afghanistan away from the United States and toward China was first reported in The Wall Street Journal, and it was one of several proposals floated by Pakistan at the meeting, according to the Afghan news media. In Afghanistan, a number of Pakistan’s other supposed proposals have gotten far more notice — although it is not clear that they were portrayed accurately or proposed at all.

All the leaks, however, reflect the fears of different Afghan factions about the direction of Afghanistan’s policy. One supposedly leaked list of Pakistan’s proposals stated that the Pakistanis had asked that members of the Haqqani network, a Taliban ally based in Pakistan, be given a share of government power. People close to the Afghan government emphatically denied that Pakistan requested anything like that. “It’s ridiculous,” said a government official.

Another proposal apparently brought up again was an offer from Pakistan to train the Afghan National Army, said an American official knowledgeable about the talks, but who also did not wish to quoted by name because of the delicacy of the subject.

On Tuesday the Pakistani government released a statement saying that it rejected the “baseless assertions” made in the Wall Street Journal article and that “it fully supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process for peace and reconciliation,” as well as “the key role of the United States in promoting stability, peace and harmony in Afghanistan.”

The statement noted that a trilateral meeting of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States was scheduled to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, early next month, with the purpose of having “strategic coherence and clarity.”

Stepping back, the jockeying seems reminiscent of the 19th-century Great Game days when larger powers sought to claim and influence Afghanistan. Then, Russia and England were vying for power. Today there are many more geopolitical actors: the United States, China, Iran, Russia, India and above all Pakistan, with which Afghanistan has close ties and deep enmities.

Pakistan, more than any other country, has leverage over Afghanistan’s future because so much support for the insurgency in Afghanistan emanates from Pakistan’s tribal areas and because Afghanistan is landlocked and will always be reliant on Pakistan for supplies. If the Pakistani government moved decisively to halt the insurgent activity, the war in Afghanistan would be greatly diminished.

For now the Afghan government is weighing the Pakistani requests, according to people close to the government and to its opponents. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, a onetime presidential opponent of President Hamid Karzai, who served as Afghanistan’s foreign minister and has been allied with the United States, said he saw this as a moment when Afghanistan was faced with a choice about which way to go. He said that he had some knowledge of what was discussed at the meeting and that the Pakistanis had brought a document with them that outlined their thinking.

“They said that the goals of the United States are confusing and uncertain, the American force is not reliable, and their power is not a reliable power,” Dr. Abdullah said.

That perspective is influenced heavily by Pakistan’s increasingly negative view of the United States, said Mr. Abdullah — a point echoed by other officials knowledgeable about the meeting.

“One of the schools of thought in the Pakistani establishment is that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is not for the stabilization of Afghanistan, but is for seizing Pakistan’s nuclear assets in due time,” Mr. Abdullah said.

However, the critical question for Afghanistan is what would it get out of closer ties with Pakistan and more distance from the United States, he said. “They have failed to recognize Afghanistan as a sovereign country,” he said, referring to Pakistani government officials. “They still consider it as their back yard.”

“There isn’t anything in it for Afghanistan,” he added. “It doesn’t talk about the Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, so it’s like giving Pakistan a protectorate role vis-à-vis Afghanistan,” he said.

People close to the talks said Mr. Karzai was considering Pakistan’s points carefully, but had not yet committed to most of them and viewed them with caution because of Pakistan’s long history of destabilizing Afghanistan through its support for the Taliban.

“The discussions were a good start; there are many issues to be discussed,” said an official close to the talks. “Of course it’s a long way to go because in terms of our past experience with Pakistan, we would need to see some serious, pragmatic steps.”

tisdag, mars 15, 2011

Pentagon Assertions of "Progress" In Afghanistan Are a Bad Joke

The Pentagon wants you to ignore some inconvenient facts about the failure of the escalation strategy in Afghanistan.

The latest Petraeus/Gates media tour is under way in preparation for the general's testimony to Congress next week, and they're trotting out the same, tired spin they've been using since McChrystal was replaced in disgrace last year. Despite the most violent year of the war so far, despite the highest civilian and military toll of the war so far, and despite the continued growth of the insurgency, they want you to believe that we're "making progress." While they spend this week fudging and shading and spinning, we'll waste another $2 billion on this brutal, futile war, and we won't be any closer to "victory" than we are today.

Let me make a couple of predictions about Petraeus' testimony based on experience. He will attempt to narrow the conversation to a few showcase districts in Afghanistan, use a lot of aspirational language ("What we're attempting to do," instead of, "What we've done") and assure the hand-wringers among the congressional hawks that he'll be happy to suggest to the president that they stay longer in Afghanistan if that's what he thinks is best. Most importantly, he will try to keep the conversation as far away from a high-level strategic assessment based on his own counterinsurgency doctrine as possible, because if Congress bothers to check his assertions of "progress" against what he wrote in the counterinsurgency manual, he's in for a world of hurt.

Here's what Petraeus' own U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual says about the main goal of a COIN campaign:

"I-113. The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government."


Not by any stretch of the imagination is the counterinsurgency campaign under Petraeus' direction serving what his own field manual says is the primary goal of his campaign. If we were looking for a legitimate government in Afghanistan, it's crystal clear that we backed the wrong horse. Hamid Karzai and his family are neck-deep in any number of corruption scandals, the most glaring of which involves the largest private bank in Afghanistan and a sweeping control fraud scheme that has already resulted in unrest across the country. (That scandal, by the way, is likely to result in a U.S.-taxpayer-funded bank bailout for Kabulbank, according to white-collar crime expert Bill Black.) The Karzai administration is an embarrassment of illegitimacy and cronyism, and the local tentacles of the Kabul cartel are as likely to inspire people to join the insurgency as they are to win over popular support.

Even if the Karzai regime where a glimmering example of the rule of law, the military campaign under Petraeus would be utterly failing to achieve what counterinsurgency doctrine holds up as the primary way in which a legitimate government wins over support from the people: securing the population. From the COIN manual:
"5-68. Progress in building support for the HN ["host nation"] government requires protecting the local populace. People who do not believe they are secure from insurgent intimidation, coercion, and reprisals will not risk overtly supporting COIN efforts."


The United Nations reports that 2010 was the deadliest year of the war for civilians of the decade-long war, and targeted killings of Kabul government officials are at an all-time high. Petraeus often seeks to deflect this point by citing insurgent responsibility for the vast majority of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, but that is largely beside the point. As his own field manual makes clear, reducing the number of civilians killed by your forces is insufficient according to COIN doctrine. If you can't protect the population (or the officials within the host nation government!) from insurgent violence and intimidation, you can't win a counterinsurgency.

Petraeus and Gates like to talk around this blatant break in his own strategic doctrine by narrowing the conversation to what they call "security bubbles." In his recent remarks following his trip to Afghanistan, Gates spoke of "linking zones of security in Helmand to Kandahar." But those two provinces have seen huge spikes in violence over the course of the past year, with attacks initiated by insurgents up 124 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Today's New York Times explains one of the main reasons for these jumps in violence as U.S. troops arrive in new areas:
"[G]enerals have designated scores of rural areas 'key terrain districts.' The soldiers are creating, at cost of money and blood, pockets of security.

"But when Americans arrive in a new area, attacks and improvised bombs typically follow -- making roads and trails more dangerous for the civilians whom, under current Pentagon counterinsurgency doctrine, the soldiers have arrived to protect."

The military escalations in Afghanistan have failed their key purpose under counterinsurgency doctrine, which is to secure Afghans from insurgent violence and intimidation.

While the U.S. government is failing to achieve its military objectives in Afghanistan, it's also failing to make good on the other components of counterinsurgency strategy, especially the civilian/political component. Here's what The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual says on p. xxix, emphasis mine:
"Nonmilitary Capacity Is the Exit Strategy

"The [counterinsurgency] manual highlights military dependence not simply upon civilian political direction at all levels of operation, but also upon civilian capabilities in the field. ...[T]he primacy of the political requires significant and ongoing civilian involvement at virtually every level of operations."


To meet this prerequisite for a successful counterinsurgency strategy, the administration promised a "civilian surge" to accompany the military escalation. But the March 8, 2011 edition of The Washington Post shows that the civilian surge has so far been a flop that's alienating the local population:

"Efforts to improve local government in critical Afghan districts have fallen far behind schedule...according to U.S. and Afghan officials familiar with the program.

"It is now expected to take four more years to assess the needs of more than 80 'key terrain' districts where the bulk of the population lives, based on figures from Afghan officials who said that escalating violence has made it difficult to recruit civil servants to work in the field.

...

"...Of the 1,100 U.S. civilian officials in Afghanistan, two-thirds are stationed in Kabul, according to the State Department.

"'At best, our Kabul-based experts simply reinforce the sense of big government coming from Kabul that ultimately alienates populations and leaders in the provinces,' a former U.S. official said."


As with the military side of the equation, the civilian side of the strategy is so badly broken that it's actually pushing us further away from the administration's stated goals in Afghanistan.

The costs of this pile of failure are huge. It costs us $1 million per troop, per year to maintain our occupation of Afghanistan. That's $2 billion every week. Politicians at the federal level are contemplating ugly cuts to social safety nets, while politicians at the state level are already shredding programs that protect people suffering in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In this context, the admonitions from the White House and the Pentagon to be patient while this misbegotten strategy limps along the progress-road-to-nowhere seem perverse. The American people have been patient for roughly a decade now, but that patience has run out.

Petraeus and Gates want to you to ignore the ugly truths of the Afghanistan War: it's not making us safer, and it's not worth the costs. The escalation strategy isn't working. It's not going to work. Enough is enough. End it now.

If you're fed up with this war that's not making us safer and that's not worth the costs, join a local Rethink the Afghanistan War Meetup and follow Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Derrick Crowe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/derrickcrowe

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torsdag, mars 10, 2011

What is the life of an afghan child worth?



It seems obvious that the importance of life is valued different depending of its origins. The value of an afghan life seems to make it to the very bottom. No one even cares or notice it when nine innocent children were bombed by U.S forces in Kunar province in Afghanistan. It’s tragic. No wonder that the afghan resistance keeps growing even though the presence of international troops in Afghanistan for almost ten years. No hearts and minds will be won by killing innocent poor children in Afghanistan.


How Many Afghan Kids Need to Die to Make the News?


Source:

The Huffington Post

By:

Peter Hart.

The number of Afghan boys gathering firewood killed by a March 1 U.S./NATO helicopter attack in Kunar Province: Nine.

The number of stories about the killing of the nine children on ABC, CBS or NBC morning or evening news shows (as of March 6): Two.

One was an 80-word report on NBC Nightly News (3/2/11), the other a brief ABC World News Sunday story (3/6/11) about Afghan president Hamid Karzai's "harsh words for the U.S." after the "mistaken killing of nine Afghan boys in an airstrike."

On the PBS NewsHour? Two brief mentions (3/2/11, 3/7/11), both during the "other news of the day" segment.

On NPR? Nothing. On the"liberal" MSNBC? Zero. Fox News Channel? Zero.

CNN had several mentions of the killings. In one report (3/2/11), correspondent Michael Holmes remarked: "It does a lot of damage to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. You don't win hearts and minds that way."

In the Washington Post (3/3/11), the children's deaths were called "the latest irritant" in the relationship between U.S./NATO forces and the Afghan government. Civilian casualties are "a sore point," and U.S. commander David Petraeus "has had to walk a fine line. Civilian casualties undermine NATO's counterinsurgency mission here by angering Afghan civilians and bolstering the Taliban's attempt to portray foreign troops as ruthless invaders."

In contrast to the corporate media, Democracy Now! (3/3/11) talked about the attack as part of the larger story of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. "It was at least the third instance in two weeks in which the Afghan government accused NATO forces of killing large numbers of civilians in airstrikes," host Juan Gonzalez noted in introducing a discussion. "An Afghan government panel is still investigating claims some 65 people, including 40 children, were killed in a U.S.-led attack last week."

It is often said that Afghanistan is largely a forgotten war--a critique usually meant as a comment on the lack of attention paid to the hardships of U.S. military personnel. Far less consideration is granted to the Afghans who are suffering in far greater numbers.

tisdag, februari 22, 2011

Minerals in Afghanistan - Corruption prevents its benefits to the country

Found this article and would like to share it with you. The level of corruption in Afghanistan never stops to amaze me. As the Arab world is revolting against its totalitarian regimes in seek for democracy and putting an end to the corruption, Afghanistan is still in the claw of warlords sitting in the parliament and as ministers. Imagine their role if the newly confirmed found minerals will be extracted and the benefits of it will probably never find its way to the regular Afghans if the current regime is in power.

Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
By: M. Siddieq Noorzoy, Professor of Economics, Emeritus - Director, Afghan Research Society International

The report in New York Times about the announcement of “Vast Mineral Deposits Found in Afghanistan”, on June 13, 2010 by James Risen is not a surprise to some of us who have been working on the Afghan economy for decades. What is not clear is the range and significance of any new discoveries that might have been made in the last nine years. In 1987 in an article entitled “ Soviet Economic Interests in Afghanistan”, Problems of Communism ( a US Government publication) May-June issue pages 43-54, I had summarized ( in table 3 ) of the publication the list and classifications of the mineral findings of a book De Afghanistan Kany Manabi, Ministry of Mines and Industries, Kabul. This book containing 420 pages and charts and maps on mineral resources of Afghanistan was originally published in Russian and then translated in English in 1977. The summary in the above article also contained the number of deposits of the minerals including what is mentioned in the New York Times report such as iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium, etc. The Pentagon sources state that these minerals are all over Afghanistan including the south and the eastern areas of the country. That is what the original publication also showed. The New York Times article quoting US officials refers to Afghanistan as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”. The 1977 book showed lithium deposits, a mineral used in laptops, to be present in 44 areas in Afghanistan. Laptops were not prevalent in 1977. Afghanistan indeed could be the largest source in the world for lithium mining. Further, many of the deposits such as large deposit of iron ore in the Hajigak area and copper in Aynak have been known to exist for decades since the 1960’s. Also, there were 4 areas of deposits of radio active materials sited such as uranium, thorium and rare earth ( the last of which is increasingly becoming important in many industries including defense, computers and auto for special batteries and magnets according to a report on PBS June 14, 2010) and 105 deposits of precious metals including gold and placer gold. All together more than 1,400 deposits, ‘occurrences and showings’ were reported in 1977. Then in 1983 one of the mujahideen commanders informed me that he had found a report of new mineral deposits by the Russians and was going to forwarded it, which did not take place as the commander was killed unfortunately. The article in Problems of Communism ( Table 2 ) also cited the large exports of Soviet machinery for mineral exploration and development to Afghanistan amounting for example to $192 million for 1979-1984. Yet, Afghan sales of gas to the Soviet Union were the only export of mineral resources officially reported. Neither Afghan exports nor Soviet imports showed any other mineral resources going from Afghanistan to the Soviet Union. The imports of large quantities of machinery to Afghanistan remained a mystery.

Mineral deposits in Afghanistan belong to the central treasury traditionally. Yet, illegal mining has taken place such as in Panjsher for emeralds and lapis lazuli. The New York Times article is referencing US officials unaware of the mining laws and traditions in Afghanistan. Foreign entities can only sign contracts with the government of Afghanistan, not with provinces. Several other issues also need explanation and some which are mentioned in the New York Times report are surprising. First, The US has been surveying Afghanistan shortly after the invasion. An article is on our web site www.afghanresearchsociety.org written on August 12, 2006 about the new findings on the oil and gas reserves in the northern areas of Afghanistan announced by the US Geological Survey team. What is surprising about the statement by the Pentagon is that the surveys carried out by the Afghan and Russian teams in the 1960’s and 1970’s the results of which were not known to US officials. Further, the New York Times reporter as usual in media reporting have to add sensationalism by the following statement, “during the chaos of the 1990s, when Afghanistan was mired in civil war and later ruled by the Taliban, a small group of Afghan geologists protected the charts by taking them home, and returned them to the Geological Survey’s library only after the American invasion and the ouster of the Taliban in 2001”. The fact was that the report of 1977 and the mineral charts were available in few places all along and they did not need to be hidden from the Taliban or any one else. Further, this also shows that the US military knew about the mineral resources of Afghanistan as early as 2001. Second, it has become clear why these mineral resources have not been commercially exploited. The reasons, are, of course, decades of wars including two invasions and civil wars.

In 1976 the First Seven Year Plan formulated by the government of Mohammad Doad laid the description for building a steel industry, chemicals and other heavy industries and railroad transportation in Afghanistan, all of which were thrown out following the communist coup de tat on April 27, 1978. But, equally important have been other factors in the lack of development all these years, viz., lack of infrastructure such as large supplies of power and transportation facilities especially in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, and lack of capital to finance such large cost projects. The Chinese multi-billion dollar investment to extract copper at Aynak is the first major foreign contract since the Russian contracts in the 1960’s for the development of gas fields in Jagdalak and other areas in the north.

The Pentagon speaks of making arrangements for international bids in the Fall this year for the mineral exploitations. What is surprising about the role of the Pentagon is its involvement in the mineral resources of Afghanistan, and as the New York Times reported that already events have been into motion involving “international accounting firms that have expertise in mining contracts have been hired to consult with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, and technical data is being prepared to turn over to multinational mining companies and other potential foreign investors. The Pentagon is helping Afghan officials arrange to start seeking bids on mineral rights by next fall, officials said.” Further, “the Ministry of Mines is not ready to handle this,” quoting Mr. Brinkley. Yet, there are news reports that at a meeting this month in London international mining companies are invited to explore the development of the Hajigak iron ore deposits. In the same report two other significantly related issues are raised, i.e. the reported $30 million bribe that the former Minister of Mines was to have received from the Chinese for the Aynak copper contract, and that, “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists” and, “the Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said”. Again this seems strange, who has discovered what exactly, if most of the information announced by the Pentagon officials existed decades ago. Then, it is not surprising that the officials of the Afghan regime would have no clue about the mining resources until it is pointed out to them. Lack of knowledge on the part of the individuals involved in the economic affairs of Afghanistan since 2001 is not surprising; none of them was known to have done extensive research or even having studied the works of others when they took over the affairs of Afghanistan. This is true of the members of Northern Alliance, whose names have appeared on the list of those guilty of crimes against humanity and other crimes, but, with one slight exception of an anthropologist who had done work on the Afghan economy, none of the others had a clue about what the prevailing conditions of the Afghan economy, or its past history of development and growth were. The result is that nearly all main indicators of the Afghan economy have become worse despite the claims made by the World Bank, the IMF and the regime in Kabul and despite some $300 billion that US alone has spent on Afghanistan as claimed by official sources. These sources including the World Bank et al., talk about double digit economic growth and yet ignore 70% plus unemployment, or the fact that poverty has increased and with it crime, drug production and its use, corruption and many other social ills since the US led invasion and re-instillation of warlords and criminals and former communists as rulers of Afghanistan.

So what is one to make of all this with respect to the announcement of the mineral riches at this time? Karzai did not know what the Pentagon officials were doing, and the Pentagon officials did not know that the mineral deposits they are talking about have been on the books for decades. Yet, the announcement about the “the vast finds” comes at the time that the US and NATO ( British and Canadians reportedly) are preparing to attack Kandahar, which we think is the wrong policy aggravating conditions in Afghanistan. This after the fiasco of Marja, where months after the attack on the township insecurity continues, a convict by the name of Abdul Zahir was brought from Germany to run the affairs of Marja ( latimes.com March 7, 2010; Christian Science Monitor, March 15, 2010 ) and where socially displaced Afghans have gone as far as Kabul as refugees, as well as the surrounding areas such as Lashgarga , without any assistance as shown by the Afghan media. The residents of Marja also fear the return of the former predatory leaders who had taken their lands. The Marja “model” was for further US-cum-NATO military operations in Afghanistan of the strategy of ‘clear, hold, and build’. What might happen in Kandahar will be ten times worse if only the sizes of the population are taken as a measure of what is to follow. The news about the “vast” mineral resources released by the Pentagon at this time and widely discussed is seen as a distraction in the ongoing discussions of the US policy toward Afghanistan. We hope that US policy makers will keep issues relating to the mineral resources transparent and treat the mineral resources of Afghanistan as solely belonging to the people of Afghanistan and above and beyond wrongful exploitation.

Given that Karzai did not know any thing about the mineral resources of his country he is leading and his regime’s officials are accused of rampant corruption as exemplified by the contract for copper, and the fact that many of his high officials are on the list of the Afghan Human Right Commission for crimes of various sorts, the relevant question here is “what about the rights of the Afghan people”? After all the claim by General Stanly McChrystal in the war he is shaping in Afghanistan is now “to protect” the Afghan people and presumably their interests. However, given the history of military occupations around the world, already questions are being asked among Afghan circles, who is going to protect the Afghan people from wrongful exploitation of their mineral resources under the present war conditions, especially when honest and dedicated Afghans are not in charge of the affairs of Afghanistan? This is a concern that Afghans have had following the Russian occupation of Afghanistan exemplified by exploitation of the gas fields of the country in the north which was shown to have been wrongfully exploited; discussed in the article in Problems of Communism.

The Pentagon has been in charge of US policy toward Afghanistan all the while since the invasion in 2001. The New York Times article relates this issue clearly in the case of the development of the mineral resources in Afghanistan. If the Afghan economy is run by oligarchs and warlords and corrupt officials having been enriched through foreign bribes and domestic seizures of private properties as is known by the Afghan people at large and discussed on the Afghan TV networks often, even if international contracts for mineral extraction are generated with good intentions by the US officials who is going to sign these contracts on behalf of the Afghan people?

Some may point to the investment law that was formulated after the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. The law is available on the web site of Afghan government and in other places. This law provides no protection for labor or the environment especially involving mineral exploitations. Historically mining has been notorious in many countries damaging the environment of the host countries. This is a critical issue in a distorted political and economic system such as exist in Afghanistan with ineffective government, rampant corruption, and lack of effective laws and their enforcement. Further, the investment law puts domestic investors at a distinct disadvantage and allows 100% foreign ownership with very generous no tax policy for years that can be extended and repatriation of capital and profits. Afghanistan had an investment law revised in 1974 which looked after these issues. That law was drawn up by the Afghan government. The post 2001 invasion investment law was drawn up with the help of the World Bank.
It is our view that no contracts should be signed under present conditions for the exploitation of any of the mineral resources until a new law is drawn up for mineral development reflecting the interests of the Afghan people and Afghanistan. At the same time we do not want to discourage international investment in Afghanistan. Most of all it is critical that the war is ended so that the Afghan people can start paying attention to the recovery and development of the economy.

Fundamentally there are two areas of the Afghan economy which can generate sufficient output and income to minimize the extreme unemployment of over 70% and extreme poverty. These areas are agriculture and the development of the mineral resources. Both require long term planning and much investment. Both have been neglected for years. The only path is one of peace going forward and to see a negotiated peace settlement to end the war and establish security throughout Afghanistan without which little progress can be seen. Full participation of all the Afghan people in their government is necessary, elimination of corruption by the removal of all corrupt elements of the regime, and formation of a new government in a post peace settlement working for the benefit of the Afghan people are all obvious requirements. The Afghan Diaspora is richly filled with highly qualified Afghans in different fields, only a new post war government working for the people can attract their services.

It is also better to see the US and European NATO countries, and others come back to Afghanistan not as occupiers, but, as investors in a new environment partly described above. Finally, in all likelihood no foreign investor from the countries fighting a war is likely to go to Afghanistan and expect to safely invest. China can safely invest in Afghanistan, because it is not at war with Afghanistan. Yet, the Chinese investment in the Aynak copper mines won over by the Chinese bid from Western companies is felt to be a threat to Western interests in Afghanistan, the New York Times article points out. This kind of competition is healthy for Afghanistan and reminds us of the competition between the US and the former Soviet Union of decades ago in several areas of the Afghan economy. At the same time the re-emergence of the issue of mineral resources of Afghanistan should encourage all warring parties to the peace table, and could be a starting point how mutually beneficial investments could be made in what is described a multi-trillion dollar sector.

If the development of the mineral resources is to bring peace and economic gains the full rights of the Afghan people must be respected. At the present the prevailing conditions do not reflect that, and we think it is premature to give out long term contracts to foreign multi-billion dollar companies and shut out the Afghan investors who have no comparable means to bid on these contracts.

We propose a consortium of Afghan public and private investors sharing 51% in the development of the mineral resources where ever possible. It is necessary to revisit the 1974 investment law, which opened the door for foreign investment and yet provided safeguards for Afghanistan. This law was analyzed in my article “ an analysis of foreign and domestic private investment law of 1974”, Afghanistan Journal, Jg.4, Heft 1, pp.29-31, 1977, Graz, Austria. Technical advice may be obtained from international mineral experts, but, the foreign investment law must be drawn by known and respected Afghan specialists for safeguarding the interests of Afghanistan.

lördag, januari 22, 2011

Vad 25 ton bomb kan göra med en by i Kandahar


Detta är resultatet av USA och NATO's uppbyggnadsinsats i Afghanistan. Att Talibaner börjar få starkare fotfäste bland lokalbefolkning kan ju inte vara förvånande för någon. Eliminering av en hel by för att jaga bort några rövare kan inte vara mest smarta lösningen eller militär taktik för att vinna hjärtan i ett krig.



25 Tons of Bombs Wipe Afghan Town Off Map

By: Spencer Ackerman
Source: WIRED

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.

His men had come under relentless assault from homemade bombs emanating from the village, where a Taliban “intimidation campaign [chased] the villagers out” to create a staging ground for attacking the task force. With multiple U.S. amputations the result of the Taliban hold over Tarok Kolache, Flynn’s men were “terrified to go back into the pomegranate orchards to continue clearing [the area]; it seemed like certain death.”
After two failed attempts at clearing the village resulted in U.S and Afghan casualties, Flynn’s response was to take the village out. He ordered a mine-clearing line charge, using rocket-propelled explosives to create a path into the center of Tarok Kolache.
And that was for starters, Broadwell writes. Airstrikes from A-10s and B-1s combined with powerful ground-launched rockets on Oct. 6 to batter the village with “49,200 lbs. of ordnance” — which she writes, resulted in “NO CIVCAS,” meaning no civilians dead.

It seems difficult to understand how Broadwell or the 1-320th can be so confident they didn’t accidentally kill civilians after subjecting Tarok Kolache to nearly 25 tons worth of bombs and rockets. The rockets alone have a blast radius of about 50 meters [164 feet], so the potential for hitting bystanders is high with every strike.
As she clarified in a debate on her Facebook wall, “In the commander’s assessment, the deserted village was not worth clearing. If you lost several KIA and you might feel the same.” But without entering Tarok Kolache to clear it, how could U.S. or Afghan forces know it was completely devoid of civilians?
As Broadwell tells it, the villagers understood that the United States needed to destroy their homes — except when they don’t. One villager “in a fit of theatrics had accused Flynn of ruining his life after the demolition.”
An adviser to Hamid Karzai said that the 1-320th “caused unreasonable damage to homes and orchards and displaced a number of people.” Flynn has held “reconstruction shuras” with the villagers and begun compensating villagers for their property losses, but so far the reconstruction has barely begun, three months after the destruction.

“Sure they are pissed about the loss of their mud huts,” Broadwell wrote on Facebook, “but that is why the BUILD story is important here.”

Broadwell writes that the operation is ultimately a success, quoting Flynn as saying “As of today, more of the local population talks to us and the government than talk to the Taliban.” That appears to be good enough for higher command. Petraeus, having visited the village and allowing Flynn to personally approve reconstruction projects worth up to $1 million, told his commanders in the south to “take a similar approach to what 1-320th was doing on a grander scale as it applies to the districts north of Arghandab.”

We’ve reached out to Petraeus’ staff to get a fuller sense of what the commander of the war actually thinks about the destruction of Tarok Kolache, and will have a forthcoming post on precisely that. But Petraeus has waged a far more violent, intense fight than many expected.

Air strikes, curtailed under Gen. Stanley McChrystal, are at their highest levels since the invasion. Tanks have moved into Helmand Province, rockets batter Taliban positions in Kandahar, and throughout the east and the south Special Operations Forces conduct intense raiding operations. Petraeus rebuked Karzai when the Afghan leader urged an end to the raids.

According to Erica Gaston, an Afghanistan-based researcher with the Open Society Institute, the level of property destruction at Tarok Kolache is “extreme” compared to other operations, so it doesn’t appear as if wiping out villages is standard procedure. The area is a “virtual no-go by civilian means because of the security concerns,” limiting the ability of analysts, including Gaston, to independently assess what happened.

But from what she hears, destroying Tarok Kolache — in order, apparently, to rebuild it — has meant jeopardizing whatever buy-in local Afghans gave U.S. troops for fighting the Taliban in the Arghandab, which has been the scene of fierce fighting for months.

And that’s precisely because it’s not standard procedure for U.S.-led troops to destroy whole villages. “But for this, I think [NATO] would have started to get some credit for improved conduct,” Gaston e-mails. “Some Kandahar elders (and I stress ’some,’ not ‘all’ or even ‘most’) who had initially opposed the Kandahar operations — due largely to fears that it would become another Marjah — were in the last few months expressing more appreciation for ISAF conduct during these operations, saying they had driven out the Taliban and shown restraint in not harming civilians.”
Perhaps that popular goodwill would have dried up anyway, Gaston continues, but “I think this property destruction has likely reset the clock on any nascent positive impressions.”

It’s also not like the coalition has an overflow of goodwill in the Arghandab. Last year, Army researchers warned that the locals there trust the Taliban more than Karzai.
And it’s where the infamous rogue “Kill Team” from the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division allegedly murdered at least three Afghans in late 2009 and early 2010. The commander of the 5th Strykers, unaware of what the “Kill Team” was doing, was none too keen on the restraint urged on him by McChrystal.
For reasons like that, Josh Foust writes, not every Afghan automatically believes the U.S. military has benign intentions.

And it’s worth remembering why counterinsurgency even took hold in Afghanistan among military theorists in the first place. Although counterinsurgency has always been a violent affair, the theory holds that popular sentiment will ultimately determine who wins in a guerrilla war, something that many in uniform thought was vindicated by the Iraq surge — which imposes restrictions on how to use force.
Popular Afghan dissatisfaction was the reason that McChrystal and his predecessor, Gen. David McKiernan, rolled back the air strikes. McChrystal’s men ultimately thought his restraint went too far. But if Tarok Kolache is to become a new model for the military in Afghanistan, then it’s quite an irony for Petraeus, the military’s chief counterinsurgency theorist-practitioner, to swing the pendulum in the direction of decimating whole villages.

 

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