Category Archives: Afghanistan

Hit That

Just a quick update of GOD DAMN SON for the Care Package project. You raised $250 yesterday! Holy crap. How awesome are you? Do a dance of joy for the giant box of fun, caffeine and sweets that will be going to Afghanistan soon.

Let’s make it to $300 worth. Hit the tip jar. Put “care package” in the comments field.


First Draft Care Package(s)

Because knowing you all as I do, and knowing how you work, I don’t think it’ll all fit in one box.

In comments tothe Richard Cohen post, leinie wrote:

MY CHILD is in Afghanistan right now. Thanks to the
previous administration’s amoral and illegal actions, not only do I
have to worry about him being killed in battle, I have to worry about
how he’d be treated were he to fall into enemy hands.

Which, to be honest, I’ve always had to worry about, but in the
past, my govt. operated from a higher moral ground and hadn’t given the
fucking green light to torture as acceptable. No reason for the Taliban
to be restrained in how they would treat him – all they have to do is
point to one of the MANY locations and instances where the US said, oh
this is ok. It’s not like we gave them the winning hand in the
propaganda battle by dropping to their level or anything.

And it just … I’m as disheartened as anyone that Obama seems set on escalating, rather than ending, the war in Afghanistan. I’m as disheartened as anyone that for many of us the world doesn’t seem significantly different than it did a year ago. But you know and I know that we can sit here and be disheartened or we can do something about it.

I e-mailed leinie and asked if there was something we on the blog could do, could send, could contribute. What her son and his friends might want. Good coffee, snackies, games and prepaid phone cards was the answer. A little food therapy, some fun, and a chance to call home. Not a tall order, really.

I think we can provide that. So here’s what the plan is:

1. I’ve set up anAmazon Wish List with games for the Wii and Xbox, which leinie tells us they have access to over there. You can click that, it will send it to me and I will send it on since Amazon in its wisdomwon’t ship games to military addresses.

2. Hit upthe tip jar above and put “care package” in the message field. If you have something specific you want me to buy, note that as well. Otherwise, in about a week or so, or whenever I think we’re done, I’ll take the cash available and a big shopping list and go get as many snacks, piles of coffee, phone cards and whatever else I can scare up to make life a little happier.

3. “What about sending X? The list should have Y!” If you have an idea, or want something on the Wish List what isn’t on it, or whatever, drop me an e-mail.

I’lltake the money and run to Mexico document the whole thing with photos and let you all know when it’s sent out.

You guys have always been willing to step up when the opportunity arises and do the things anyone else would only talk about. After months of discussion about the supposed newspaper crisis, you funded three underfunded schools’ student journalism efforts to actually MAKE better journalists.When we talked about the need to tell the stories that weren’t being told, you sent Scout to NOLA and me to Denver to do our own reporting. You keep this blog going with your donations and your contributions and your comments, and that generosity and courage has crossed state lines from New York to California to Wisconsin to Florida. I think it’s time we make it international.

Let’s send a big box of home to the family and friends of our own. The economy sucks, and no one should feel obligated to contribute funds if he or she can’t. If you can’t kick in a few bucks, send me a note you’d like included in the box and I’ll put those in, too. Let’s take care in a small way, even as we keep fighting to take care in a big one.


Other Shit That Should Be Obvious

Read this shit some time.

Read this, as well.

I tried arguing about Afghanistan with people back in 2001; naturally, no one listened.

I understood that, after 9/11, we would be attacking somebody. You don’t outspend the rest of the world militarily and then not use that military when attacked. However, I did not expect an invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. I thought it was a stupid idea then, and I think it’s a stupid idea now.

One of the big justifications for the war was the removal of the Taliban, that group of fundamentalist assholes who imposed their own vision of utopian society in many parts of Afghanistan. Don’t get me wrong–they’re a bunch of fucks. Everyone’s heard the stories about burqas and sex-segregation and women being fourth-class citizens (it was hilarious to watch Republicans trip over themselves to stress how awful and sexist these choad-gobblers were).

I was aware of the Taliban prior to September of 2001. It didn’t take a genius to know about this group of sack wranglers. However, there’s a reason why they were in control of parts of Afghanistan. They provided order. Order is preferable to chaos–it’s why we have government in the first place, and whyLibertarian fantasies will always be just that. When, as happens some times, that order becomes unbearably oppressive, certain groups attempt to replace it. But they never wish to eradicate order altogether. There may be a chaotic interregnum, but no one ever abolishes order in favor of permanent chaos.

Put otherwise: When the people who lived in Afghanistan (and I’m not talking about “Afghanis;” there’s really no such ethnicity) got tired of the Taliban, they would have done something about it. You can provide aid to these groups, and you can encourage less-repressive elements in societies, but you can’t go in and impose an order of your own. It has to be, to use a Hobbesian term, a social contract entered into by the people whose own lives are directly affected–especially in a place like Afghanistan, where interlopers have been frustrated since the days of Alexander the Great.

All that shit about “Freedom is God Almighty’s gift” is just nonsense. Even if it were true, it would be up to the Almighty to dispense it, not to us. Isn’t that fucking presumptuous, to think otherwise?

Not that Hobbes’ view of humanity was perfect. It was, of course, situated in his time–the anarchical years during the English Civil War. However, when in such a state, order–even a harsh order–is something for which people yearn. Corrupt, unpredictable, and abusive governments will always be less popular than repressive yet predictable ones.


Meanwhile in Afghanistan

Stars and Stripes reports on an Afghan policeman killing an American soldier and the mounting concerns that militants have infiltrated the national force:

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — A U.S. soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan
Thursday when an Afghan policeman opened fire on an American patrol returning to
its base.

The Afghan National Policemen opened fire and threw a hand grenade at the
U.S. patrol as it returned from a meeting with tribal elders in Bermel District,
Paktika Province, near the border with Pakistan. The remaining U.S. troops
killed the policeman, according to the military.


But Thursday’s
incident was the second time in less than a month that an Afghan officer has
killed a U.S. soldier, raising concerns that militants may have infiltrated the
Afghan police force.

60 Minutes will air a report in which a top general in Afghanistan states that enemy numbers have increased by up to 30% and their activities are becoming more complex:

“I’m telling you that the enemy did increase from 20 to 30 percent this
last year…I’ll tell you that they are doing more complex activities
which concerns me greatly,” says Gen. Schlosser.


“I’m here to predict this winter will be the most violent winter so
far,” says Gen. Schlosser. “We are doing a winter campaign, Lara, that
just plain gets after the enemy.” But he’ll need help. “I’ve been very
clear that I need more resources, more soldiers and more assets,” he
tells Logan.

AndAP reports al-Qaida will weather the global economic crisis just fine:

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida, which gets its money from the drug trade inAfghanistan and sympathizers in the oil-rich Gulf states, is likely to escape the effects of the global financial crisis.

One reason is that al-Qaida
and other Islamic terrorists have been forced to avoid using banks,
relying instead on less-efficient ways to move their cash around the
world, analysts said.


Al-Qaida and the Taliban
have benefited from the drug trade’s growth in Afghanistan after the
U.S.-led invasion in 2001, and the booming business likely will not be
affected by the global slowdown.

cultivation has fallen slightly this year but is still about 20 times
higher than in 2001, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

In the other war

DoD Secretary Gates is thinking of rquesting more troops for Afghanistan according to NYT although it would only be a few thousand. More troops are certainly needed and have been requested but one battalion already in Afghanistan is being sent to Iraq…

Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has already pushed for more troops.

said Tuesday he has asked the Pentagon to order a battalion of the 10th
Mountain Division to remain in Afghanistan until the end of the year
rather than leave this spring. The unit already is scheduled to deploy
to Iraq later this year — an example of how thinly stretched the
military has become.

It was not clear how many other troops have been requested for Afghanistan.

I came across the blog of photojournalist Bill Putnam. He has a post with 3 videos of what is happening in Afghanistan that were shot by photojournalist Scott Kesterson. They are incredible (especially the last) and show the fierce fighting going on in the other war.
Just. Go. Watch. One of These Videos

This Just In: We Screwed Up Afghanistan, Too

From the Trib:

Violence against women increased in every province of Afghanistan last year, according to Women’s Affairs Ministry statistics. Those numbers include self-immolations, a relatively new and disturbing trend in Afghanistan in which women set themselves on fire.

The desperation that leads to such acts has been attributed to domestic violence and forced marriages. At least 60 percent of Afghan women are in forced marriages, and 57 percent marry before they reach age 16, according to a report by the international rights group Womankind Worldwide.

Not for nothing, but this might be something to ask Laura Bush about during her next “My husband is attractive and powerful and an adequate lover” press conference.