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Progress in Afghanistan

by Astronuc
Tags: afghanistan, progress
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Astronuc
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Oct13-08, 08:33 AM
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http://topics.nytimes.com/top/refere...nan/index.html

David D. McKiernan, the American four-star general who led the allied ground forces during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, became the NATO commander in Afghanistan as of June 2008. As head of the International Security Assistance Force, he is the military leader in charge of the allied war effort in Afghanistan against increasingly deadly and aggressive attacks by Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, many of whom are based in western Pakistan.

General McKiernan was never a favorite of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In the months before the Iraq war, he pressed to begin the war with a greater number of troops than authorized in the plan he had inherited. After the invasion he was made the deputy head of the Army's Forces Command, which oversees the training of American troops in the United States. In 2005, he was awarded a fourth star and made the head of American Army troops in Europe.
General Says He’s Hopeful About Taliban War
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/wo.../13afghan.html

Perhaps. I think the US can win all the battles, but unless there is a stable and non-corrupt government to lead the country, it would seem the victory(ies) would be in vain. My greatest concern and objection is the killing of non-combatants - women and children. I don't expect the Taliban to be concerned about that, but I do think that US and NATO forces should go the extra step not to kill civilians - that means no firing into villages or compounds unless one is sure that no women and children are present.
Evo
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Oct13-08, 08:36 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
Perhaps. I think the US can win all the battles, but unless there is a stable and non-corrupt government to lead the country, it would seem the victory(ies) would be in vain. My greatest concern and objection is the killing of non-combatants - women and children. I don't expect the Taliban to be concerned about that, but I do think that US and NATO forces should go the extra step not to kill civilians - that means no firing into villages or compounds unless one is sure that no women and children are present.
But that's impossible. These people deliberately hide among civilians for protection.
rootX
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Oct13-08, 08:27 PM
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7656745.stm

For Kuchi nomads like Rahmat Goal's family, survival is a daily struggle.
rootX
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Oct13-08, 08:29 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
But that's impossible. These people deliberately hide among civilians for protection.
I think civilians hide them. If you go on killing civilians, what you expect from those normal people?

I think US cannot eliminate the Afghanistan people who don't like US.
Astronuc
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Oct15-08, 01:25 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
But that's impossible. These people deliberately hide among civilians for protection.
It's difficult but not impossible. The Taliban and sympathizers simply live in their homes and neighborhoods/villages when they are not out fighting the Afghan government and US/NATO forces. It's their country. The US/NATO are propping up a government in what is eseentially a civil war that spans two countries.

If one calls in an AC-130, one is going to kill civilians. The US and NATO forces need to be smarter.

Meanwhile Pakistan and Afghanistan go hand in hand because the Pahstuns (e.g. Waziri) straddle the border.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashtun

Intelligence report: U.S. antiterror ally Pakistan 'on the edge'
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20...latchy/3072503
WASHINGTON — A growing al Qaida -backed insurgency, combined with the Pakistani army's reluctance to launch an all-out crackdown, political infighting and energy and food shortages are plunging America's key ally in the war on terror deeper into turmoil and violence, says a soon-to-be completed U.S. intelligence assessment.

A U.S. official who participated in drafting the top secret National Intelligence Estimate said it portrays the situation in Pakistan as "very bad." Another official called the draft "very bleak," and said it describes Pakistan as being "on the edge."

The first official summarized the estimate's conclusions about the state of Pakistan as: "no money, no energy, no government."

Six U.S. officials who helped draft or are aware of the document's findings confirmed them to McClatchy on the condition of anonymity because NIEs are top secret and are restricted to the president, senior officials and members of Congress . An NIE's conclusions reflect the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

The NIE on Pakistan , along with others being prepared on Afghanistan and Iraq , will underpin a "strategic assessment" of the situation that Army Gen. David Petraeus , who's about to take command of all U.S. forces in the region, has requested. The aim of the assessment — seven years after the U.S. sent troops into Afghanistan — is to determine whether a U.S. presence in the region can be effective and if so what U.S. strategy should be.
. . . .
Astronuc
#60
Oct17-08, 07:10 AM
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081017/...as_afghanistan
Official: Afghans probing 17 civilian deaths
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Afghan authorities are investigating the deaths of at least 17 civilians during a clash between NATO forces and militants in southern Afghanistan, an official said Friday.

Villagers and a senior police official claimed Thursday that a NATO airstrike killed the civilians, including women and children, in Nad Ali district of the Helmand province.

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan confirmed that it carried out an airstrike in the area on Thursday — but not that it resulted in any civilian casualties.

NATO spokesman Capt. Mark Windsor said Friday the force was seeking more information and declined further comment.

Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand's governor, said Friday that authorities were investigating whether the airstrike or "insurgent action" caused the collapse of the house in which the civilians died.

Angry villagers brought more than a dozen corpses — including the badly mangled bodies of women and children — to the governor's house in the town of Lashkar Gah on Thursday, said Haji Adnan Khan, a tribal leader who had seen the bodies.

Nad Ali, about 6 miles from Lashkar Gah, has been a scene of heavy fighting between insurgents and Afghan and foreign troops. Militants control much of the area around the village.
Maybe some militants are angry with the US/EU (or some hate America and Europe) because invaders (US and EU/NATO military) kill their women and children, or parents, or siblings or other family members, or friends. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan have not invaded or threatened the US, although Saddam Hussein threated the US/Israel with retaliation if attacked.

The hijackers who attacked the WTC and Pentagon on Sept 11, were from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (now headquarters for Halliburton), Egypt and Lebanon.

Osama bin Laden (al Qaida) is from Saudi Arabia and Ayman al-Zawahiri is Egyptian. One connection with Pakistan would be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was born in Kuwait to parents from Baluchistan (Pakistan).
Art
#61
Oct17-08, 07:25 AM
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At this point I have absolutely no clue what the mission is in Afghanistan.

What are the US and other NATO forces trying to achieve?

If their role is to provide security and stability then they are failing miserably and indeed are the main causes of the lack of security and instability.

By supporting what were the murdering war lords of the former Northern Alliance they have helped drug dealing, corrupt criminals to take power and are expending huge resources in men and material to keep them there at a cost of alienating an entire generation of people.

Why???
BobG
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Oct17-08, 09:55 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081017/...as_afghanistan
Official: Afghans probing 17 civilian deaths
Maybe some militants are angry with the US/EU (or some hate America and Europe) because invaders (US and EU/NATO military) kill their women and children, or parents, or siblings or other family members, or friends. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan have not invaded or threatened the US, although Saddam Hussein threated the US/Israel with retaliation if attacked.

The hijackers who attacked the WTC and Pentagon on Sept 11, were from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (now headquarters for Halliburton), Egypt and Lebanon.

Osama bin Laden (al Qaida) is from Saudi Arabia and Ayman al-Zawahiri is Egyptian. One connection with Pakistan would be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was born in Kuwait to parents from Baluchistan (Pakistan).
So you're saying the Taliban government in Afghanistan was right to deny the US permission to attack al-Qaida in their country since all of the al-Qaida in their country were foreigners?!

That's going back to the old cop out where terrorists can attack as they please because as long as the government of whatever country they reside in didn't actually make the attack, therefore the US can't respond.

Quote Quote by Art View Post
At this point I have absolutely no clue what the mission is in Afghanistan.

What are the US and other NATO forces trying to achieve?

If their role is to provide security and stability then they are failing miserably and indeed are the main causes of the lack of security and instability.

By supporting what were the murdering war lords of the former Northern Alliance they have helped drug dealing, corrupt criminals to take power and are expending huge resources in men and material to keep them there at a cost of alienating an entire generation of people.

Why???
Goes back to that politically correct idea that the US can't go into a country, accomplish what they needed to do, then leave the country in the same shambles it was in before they invaded. We need to somehow make the country a better place than it was before we attacked.

That's just not always realistic and Afghanistan is one of those instances.

I don't think that necessarily means we shoud leave. The US still hasn't accomplished what it set out to do. Doing that raises the possibility of an even bigger mess.

US and Pakistani forces have had minor skirmishes with each other over the last month. I think the skirmishes will continue for a while and could get worse.

That raises an interesting possibility. We could have combat, complete with casualties, with another nuclear armed country. That would be a new world first.

We could also have combat where both the US and the enemy forces were being funded by the US taxpayer. Then again, most of the US aid goes to beefing up Pakistan's forces along their border with India rather than to their forces along the Afghanistan border, so maybe we're not funding enemy forces so much.

I'm not sure how the US should have handled Pakistan immediately after the Afghanistan invasion, but the way we did handle them hasn't worked.
Astronuc
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Oct17-08, 10:15 AM
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Quote Quote by BobG View Post
So you're saying the Taliban government in Afghanistan was right to deny the US permission to attack al-Qaida in their country since all of the al-Qaida in their country were foreigners?!
I didn't say that. It's quite complicated and there is not simple answer.

Al Qaida and their Taliban sympathizers who are planning attacks against US, Pakistan and Afghan governments and innocent people are legitimate targets (at least according to internationals standards).

If one reads the reports from Robert Fisk (The Independent, UK), he mentions the situation with the people in the border region whose villages were bombed or shelled by US forces. Most are not Taliban, but some members in the villages may be Taliban. Non-combatants, including women and children, are killed. I have a big problem with that!

The first interaction some of these people have with the outside world is American/NATO military attacking their villages.


Paraphrasing an old proverb - One evil deed (or misdeed) undermines 1000 good deeds.


I think there is a better way, and I'm working on it.
Astronuc
#64
Oct19-08, 03:03 PM
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Pakistan and Afghanistan go hand in hand. Both countries share tribes and a common history.

Pakistan is in deep trouble economically.

Pakistan reported nearing default, to seek IMF help
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- After failing to get help from China, Pakistan may need to turn to the International Monetary Fund -- a politically unpopular move -- for cash to bolster its economy and avoid defaulting on its debt obligations, according to news reports Sunday.

The country, perceived as one of the world's riskiest borrowers, may need as much as $6 billion to boost its foreign-currency reserves, which fell more than 74% in the past year to about $4.3 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report.

The next interest payment for Pakistan on its dollar-denominated bonds is due in December, and the government is scheduled to repay $500 million in February on a 6.75% note, the report said.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari returned from China late Friday failing to secure a cash commitment from its neighbor, the New York Times reported.

China had been seen as a last resort before Pakistan turns to the IMF, the Times report said. Saudi Arabia, another of the country's traditional ally, refused earlier to offer concessions on oil, it said.
Pakistan and IMF must step carefully.
Astronuc
#65
Oct21-08, 04:46 PM
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Afghan journalism student sentenced to 20 years
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081021/...urnalist_trial
KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan appeals court overturned a death sentence Tuesday for a journalism student accused of blasphemy for asking questions in class about women's rights under Islam. But the judges still sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

The case against 24-year-old Parwez Kambakhsh, whose brother has angered Afghan warlords with his own writings, has come to symbolize Afghanistan's slide toward an ultraconservative view on religious and individual freedoms.

"I don't accept the court's decision," Kambakhsh told The Associated Press as he was leaving the courtroom. "It is an unfair decision."

The case can be appealed to the Supreme Court, the highest court in Afghanistan.

John Dempsey, a U.S. lawyer working for six years to reform the Afghan justice system, said Kambakhsh has yet to get a fair trial.
. . . .

Besides the accusation that Kambakhsh disrupted class with his questions, prosecutors also said he illegally distributed an article he printed off the Internet that asks why Islam does not modernize to give women equal rights. He also allegedly wrote his own comments on the paper.

In January, a lower court sentenced him to death in a trial critics have called flawed in part because Kambakhsh had no lawyer representing him. Muslim clerics welcomed that court's decision and public demonstrations were held against the journalism student because of perceptions he had violated the tenets of Islam.
. . . .
Disrupting class should not result in the death penalty. Distributing literature that asks "why Islam does not modernize to give women equal rights" should not result in a death penalty. This is not a democratic system, but rather it is an oligarchy.

The apparent goal in Afghanistan is to preclude a haven for al Qaida. Aside from that, the Bush administration seems less concerned about democracy.
Art
#66
Nov6-08, 09:36 AM
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Yet more civilians killed by 'accident'

Air raid 'kills Afghan civilians'

At least five Afghan civilians have been killed in an air strike by international forces in the north-west, local officials say.

They say at least 13 insurgents also died in the raid, after they attacked Afghan and international troops in Ghormach district in Badghis province.

United States-led forces have said they are checking the reports.

On Wednesday President Hamid Karzai condemned a US air strike which killed 40 people at a wedding in the south.

The raid was aimed at the Taleban in the province of Kandahar.

Mr Karzai called on Barack Obama to prevent civilian casualties when he take over as US president.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7713065.stm

Given the lack of impact of numerous previous condemnations of attacks leading to civilian deaths it seems until a military commander is actually held responsible for one of these atrocities it is likely they will continue unabated.

Even if the military top brass care nothing for civilian casualties they must realise these reckless attacks are the perfect recruiting sergeant for anti-western forces.
OAQfirst
#67
Nov12-08, 02:15 PM
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Attackers in Afghanistan have sprayed acid in the faces of at least 15 girls near a school in Kandahar, police say.

...

Correspondents say the attack is likely to have been carried out by those opposed to the education of women.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7724505.stm

These attacks on women/girls, which happen in similar fashion elsewhere as well, I never understand. It only proves how weak those guys are where they become concerned about females actually accomplishing something with their lives. Geez, talk about insecurities!
Art
#68
Nov28-08, 06:50 AM
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A good article from the Independent drawing parallels between the situation in Afghanistan today and the past.

snip
Kabul 30 years ago, and Kabul today. Have we learned nothing?

At night, the thump of American Sikorsky helicopters and the whisper of high-altitude F-18s invade my room. The United States of America is settling George Bush's scores with the "terrorists" trying to overthrow Hamid Karzai's corrupt government.

Now rewind almost 29 years, and I am on the balcony of the Intercontinental Hotel on the other side of this great, cold, fuggy city. Impeccable staff, frozen Polish beer in the bar, secret policemen in the front lobby, Russian troops parked in the forecourt. The Bala Hissar fort glimmers through the smoke. The kites – green seems a favourite colour – move beyond the trees. At night, the thump of Hind choppers and the whisper of high-altitude MiGs invade my room. The Soviet Union is settling Leonid Brezhnev's scores with the "terrorists" trying to overthrow Barbrak Karmal's corrupt government.

Thirty miles north, all those years ago, a Soviet general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, imperialist "remnants" – the phrase Kabul communist radio always used – who were being supported by America and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Fast forward to 2001 – just seven years ago – and an American general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, the all but conquered Taliban who were being supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Russian was pontificating at the big Soviet airbase at Bagram. The American general was pontificating at the big US airbase at Bagram.

This is not dιjΰ-vu. This is dιjΰ double-vu. And it gets worse.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...g-1029920.html
Astronuc
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Jan12-09, 06:26 AM
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Ideally, Afghanistan would become calmer, democratic and more favorably disposed to the US and other countries, however -

Inexplicable Wealth of Afghan Elite Sows Bitterness
In One of the World's Poorest Nations, Myriad Tales of Official Corruption
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...011102038.html

KABUL, Jan. 11 -- Across the street from the Evening in Paris wedding hall, a monument to opulence surrounded by neon-lighted fountains and a five-story replica of the Eiffel Tower, is a little colony of tents where 65 families, mostly returnees from Pakistan, huddle against the winter cold and wish they had never come home.

Similar startling contrasts abound across the Afghan capital. Children with pinched faces beg near the mansions of a tiny elite enriched by foreign aid and official corruption. Hundreds of tattered men gather at dawn outside a glittering new office building to compete for 50-cent jobs hauling construction debris.

"I am a farmer with 11 children. Our crops dried up, so I came to the city to find work, but all day I stand here in the cold and no one hires me," said Abdul Ghani, 47. "All the jobs and money go to those who have relatives in power, and corruption is everywhere. How else could they build these big houses? Nobody cares about the poor," he added bitterly. "They just make fun of us."

Seven years after the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a civilian-led, internationally backed government, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with rates of unemployment, illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition on a par with the most impoverished nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Most homes lack light, heat and running water; most babies are born at home and without medical help.

. . . .
Something's got to change - and ASAP.
TheStatutoryApe
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Jan12-09, 07:43 AM
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This is why I was concerned about Obama's declaration that he wanted to focus on Afghanistan and "kill Osama bin Laden."
The place is a wreck and more military action to try ferreting out a man who may already be dead is not going to fix anything.
I hope he has some good ideas and doesn't really intend to continue America's 9/11 vendetta.
Astronuc
#71
Feb6-09, 07:29 AM
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Interesting perspective on Afghanistan.

What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?
http://www.slate.com/id/2210624
We're still figuring that out.
By Fred Kaplan

Not long ago, Afghanistan was known as "the good war." Now some are calling it "Obama's Vietnam." Both tags exaggerate. . . .

Unlike those who got us into Vietnam, today's top officials—including President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates—at least see the specter. Both have emphasized that their goals in Afghanistan are limited; daydreams of turning the place into a democratic republic—"some central Asian Valhalla," as Gates snorted in recent hearings—are over. Gates further stated at those hearings, before the Senate armed services committee, that he would endorse his commanders' request for three additional brigades—but that he'd be "deeply skeptical" of subsequent requests for more. The fighting needs to be done mainly by Afghan troops, he said, adding that if the Afghan people begin to see it as an American war, "we will go the way of other imperial occupiers."

. . . . .
On a side note - Kyrgyzstan says U.S. air base decision is final
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090206/...an_usa_base_28
BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan said on Friday its decision to shut a U.S. air base was final, dealing a blow to Washington's efforts to retain what has been an important staging post for U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan.

The United States said it was still "engaged" with Kyrgyzstan about keeping the Manas base in the poor, former Soviet republic and traditional Russian ally. But one senior Kyrgyz official said no talks were currently taking place.

Kyrgyzstan's stance has set a tough challenge for new U.S. President Barack Obama, who plans to send more troops to Afghanistan to try to boost NATO efforts to defeat Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents.

The standoff over the tiny but strategically placed nation marks a new twist in an escalating power struggle in Central Asia reminiscent of the 19th-century "Great Game" between tsarist Russia and the British Empire.

"The air base's fate has been decided," Adakhan Madumarov, Secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council, told reporters.

"I see no reason why the air base should remain in place now that this decision has been taken ... We are not holding any talks on this," he added, hinting there will be no further discussions with Washington on the air base.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the closure of the base this week after securing more than $2 billion in financial aid and credit from Russia at talks in Moscow.

The announcement left the United States scrambling to find alternative supply routes through other parts of Central Asia for shipments bound for landlocked Afghanistan.

Speaking in Tajikistan, another ex-Soviet republic in Central Asia, the U.S. envoy to Dushanbe said Tajikistan had agreed to offer its air space for transport of non-military NATO supplies to Afghanistan.

A Western diplomatic source told Reuters separately on Thursday the United States was close to a deal with Uzbekistan that would also allow Washington to open a new railway supply route for its troops in Afghanistan.
. . . .
RUSSIAN POSITION

Russia, irked by the U.S. military presence in Kyrgyzstan which it regards as part of its strategic sphere of interest, has long exerted pressure on the landlocked and mountainous Central Asian country to evict the U.S. forces.

. . . .
The Russians have offered to allow US transit of 'non-lethal' aid, e.g. food and supplies, and medical evacuations. I'm sure they are pleased to accept the money.

Uzbekistan has had a somewhat repressive government. All of the Central Asian countries are relatively poor, and their trade is hampered by powerful or unstable neighbors - not to mention corruption.

As someone correctly pointed out, both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (in fact all the stans) have had governments, which are problematic with respect to observing basic human and civil rights.
mgb_phys
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Feb6-09, 10:27 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
Uzbekistan has had a somewhat repressive government.
No it isn't, it's a haven of peace and light in the region - a central asian Switzerland.
The British foreign office fired their ambassador for criticizing it.
Of course now we don't need t's airstrip, and we aren't torturing suspects there - opinions might be change.


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