By Dr. Wee Teck Young Hakim) and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers for Our Journey to Smile. During particularly stressful moments in 2016, I had felt that the year was one long, hard Afghan night. A few evenings ago, my eyes had smarted from the dense irritant pollutants that enshroud Kabul streets and invade breaths and dreams in winter. Mansoor, determined to do well in his college entrance exams next year, laughed sarcastically at the burnt air which smelled of soot and survival scraps, holding his hand to his mouth and nose as a mask, saying, “Of course our lives are shortened by this smoke.” At least, someone had told me, T.V. ‘commercials’ warn us, “Stay in, or else…” I dashed back to my room, already coughing reflexively, feeling like the human masses have been cornered into prisons within prisons, elaborately presided over by an Afghan President, his CEO and the U.S./NATO/UN corporate machine, watched by an unquestioning, approving world.
By Kathy Kelly for Dissident Voice. According to Brown University’s Watson Institute, approximately 111,000 people have been killed and an additional 116,000, at minimum, wounded during the 15-year U.S. war in Afghanistan. The death toll from poverty, malnutrition, disease, and social dislocation can’t easily be neatly calculated for such a study. Over 31,000 – nearly a third – of the people killed in fighting alone are local civilians. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) counts more than 40,900 Afghan civilian injuries since January 2009. What has the war accomplished? In the U.S., it is hard for anyone to credit the lie that our rampage through the Middle East, begun in vengeance for the 9/11 attacks of 2001, has made anyone safer. In April 2016, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported to Congress only 70.5 percent of the country was in Afghan government control, and just three months later (July 30 2016), SIGAR noted that “the area under Afghan government control had declined by about 5 percent. Violence occurs even in the areas ‘controlled’ by the government.”
By Gareth Porter for Information Clearing House – November 25, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “Real News” – After retired Lt. Gen. Michael J. Flynn spoke at the Republican National Convention, The Washington Post captured the prevailing media view of Flynn in the headline: “He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.” Now that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Flynn as his national security adviser, media coverage has given prominence to the more serious issue of Flynn’s denunciation of Islam as a “cancer”…
By David Bosco for FP – The investigation could expose U.S. personnel to international justice inquiry for the first time. The prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is ready to initiate a full investigation of a range of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including some by U.S. personnel, according to several knowledgeable sources. The ICC move would mark the first time that a formal ICC investigation has scrutinized U.S. actions and sets up a possible collision with Washington.
By Steve Horn for Desmog – TigerSwan is one of several security firms under investigation for its work guarding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota while potentially without a permit. Besides this recent work on the Standing Rock Sioux protests in North Dakota, this company has offices in Iraq and Afghanistan and is run by a special forces Army veteran. According to a summary of the investigation, TigerSwan “is in charge of Dakota Access intelligence and supervises the overall security.”
By William Hartung for Tom Dispatch. War, what is it good for? In America, the answer is that, much of the time, you’ll probably never know what it’s good for — or, in some cases, even notice that we’re at war. Right now, the U.S. is ever more deeply involved in significant conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and increasingly Yemen — at least five ongoing wars in the Greater Middle East. Yet, in the midst of Election 2016, with the single exception of the long-proclaimed, long-awaited Iraqi-Kurdish offensive against Islamic State militants in the city of Mosul (with U.S. advisers on the frontlines and U.S. Apache helicopter crews in the air), the rest of our spreading military actions might as well be taking place on Mars.
By Sharon Delgado for Campaign Nonviolence. Before we were arrested, each of us explained what we have had enough of. I explained that I have had enough of drone warfare. (Beale is the home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that identifies targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.) I have also had enough of the U.S. Air Force Vision for 2020, which is geared toward “full spectrum dominance” for the purpose of “protecting U.S. interests and investments” as “the globalization of the world economy… continues, with a widening between “haves” and “have-nots.” I have had enough of the U.S. military enforcing a global order that is enriching the already wealthy, protecting the privileged, exploiting those who are vulnerable, causing massive suffering, and destroying this beautiful earth. #Enough war. #Enough “accidental” (or incidental) killing of children. #Enough suffering. #Enough extrajudicial killing. #Enough.
By Leo Shane III for Military Times – The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $5 trillion so far, and that total could rise even higher in the years to come, according to new calculations released by independent researchers late last week. That total includes not only the costs of equipment and personnel in those countries, but also State Department spending to help local populations, Department of Homeland Security spending linked to the wars and Department of Veterans Affairs services that expanded as troops returned home.
By Leo Shane III for Military Times – Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan still outnumber U.S. troops by a 3-to-1 margin according to new research released this week, raising questions again about the role those workers play in the ongoing wars overseas and the oversight they receive. The data, compiled by the Congressional Research Service and first reported by Politico, shows contractor numbers in both Iraq and Afghanistan dating back to fiscal 2007. Combined, the Defense Department spent more than $220 billion on contractors in both war zones for a variety of services and support.
By Staff of Baloch Student Organisation (Pajjar) – The meeting was led by comrades Bilawal Baloch and Auranzeb Baloch and presided over by the central organizer of BSO Zareef Rind. Meanwhile the main guests were Arbab Ghulam Kasi and Azam Zarkoon from the Awami National Party, Ali Baran Nasir from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Manzoor Baloch from the Brahvi department of Baluchistan University, Dr Akbar Khalqi, Abdul Rab Agha – a companion of Noor Muhammad Taraki, the leader of revolution – Razaq Ghurzang from Wesh Zilmiyan and Wali Khan from the Pashtun Students Federation.
By Jack Serle, Abigail Fielding-Smith and Payenda Sargand for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism – The rate at which civilians are being killed by US airstrikes in Afghanistan is at its highest point since 2008, an analysis of newly published UN data reveals. Research by the Bureau shows that on average a civilian was killed every fourth drone or jet strike in 2015 – up from one in 11 attacks the year before and the first time the casualty rate has risen since 2011. The rate was last at such levels at the height of the Afghan war in 2008.
By Kathy Kelly for Counter Punch – In Kabul, where the Afghan Peace Volunteers have hosted me in their community, the U.S. military maintains a huge blimp equipped with cameras and computers to supply 24 hour surveillance of the city. Remotely piloted drones, operated by Air Force and Air National Guard personnel in U.S. bases, also fly over Afghanistan, feeding U.S. military analysts miles of camera footage, every day. Billions of dollars have been invested in a variety of blimps which various vendors, such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Aeros have shipped to Afghanistan.
By Kathy Kelly for Waging Nonviolence, Here in Kabul, over breakfast with Afghan Peace Volunteers, or APVs, we easily recalled key elements of the conflict resolution and peer mediation “train the trainers” workshops that Ellis Brooks, with Voices for Creative Nonviolence-UK, had facilitated a week ago. The APV is a grassroots group of ordinary multi-ethnic Afghans seeking a life of nonviolence. Peer mediators make “promises” before beginning a session: We won’t tell you what to do, we won’t take sides, and we won’t talk about this session with anyone outside of our room. While pouring tea and breaking bread, we recalled the hand signals Ellis gave us to help remember each promise.
By Abby Martin for the Empire Files – At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Abby Martin interviews world-renowned philosopher and linguist Professor Noam Chomsky. Prof. Chomsky comments on the presidential primary “extravaganza,” the movement for Bernie Sanders, the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, modern-day libertarianism and the reality of “democracy” under capitalism.