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U.S. Casualties in Afghanistan could be 500 a month

US forces in Afghanistan ‘should expect up to 500 casualties a month’

Times Online
January 7, 2010

US forces in Afghanistan should brace themselves for up to 500 casualties a month this year, a senior retired American general has warned.

The forecast comes from General Barry McCaffrey, formerly the most decorated general in the US Army, who has conducted field assessments of the US military performance in Afghanistan at the request of the US military since 2003.

His assessment projects that US forces can expect to lose between 300 and 500 soldiers a month, either killed or wounded, this year, rising to a peak during the summer months. US military casualties during 2009 were 305 killed and 2,102 injured up to December 20. More than half of those injured have not been able to return to service.

Casualties in Afghanistan tend to peak during the summer “fighting season” between June and October and to dip, particularly in mountainous areas, during the winter.

The anticipated increase would produce around 3,000 American casualties this year, and a total for Western forces in Afghanistan of around 5,000 killed and wounded — the equivalent of seven infantry battalions.

British forces suffered 108 deaths last year, and 464 wounded in action.

General McCaffrey is an adjunct professor at the US Military Academy at West Point. While his assessment is not a government document, it was conducted at the request of General David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, and General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, and included comprehensive access to senior Western military officials and diplomats, including British officials.

He suggests that the Taleban deserve considerable respect for their tenacity and military capability. “We must guard against arrogance, and US and allied ground combat forces”, he warns, face “very clever fighters” with “ferocious combat capabilities”.

He cites in particular two occasions when small American bases were all but overrun by “battalion-size” Taleban units during 2009: “Only the incredible small unit leadership, fighting skill, and valour of these two small US army units — which suffered very high casualties at [Combat Outpost] Wanat and COP Keating — prevented humiliating defeat.”

Despite the stated desire of the Obama Administration to achieve a discernible improvement in Afghanistan within 18 months, and to begin a military drawdown after that time, General McCaffrey concludes: “We are unlikely to achieve our political and military goals in 18 months. This will inevitably become a three to ten-year strategy to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw.

“It may well cost us an additional $300 billion, and we are likely to suffer thousands more US casualties.”

A promised “US civilian surge” will not materialise, he believes: “Afghanistan over the next two to three years will be simply too dangerous for most civil agencies.”

He adds that the war can be expected to cost the US Government more than $9 billion (£5.6 billion) a month during the summer of 2010. The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is currently $377 million a day, compared with a constant-dollar equivalent of $622 million a day for the Second World War.

However, his assessment is that the mission’s goals remain possible: “We can achieve our strategic purpose with determined leadership and American treasure and blood.

“We now have the most effective and courageous military forces in our nation’s history committed to this campaign … Our focus must now not be on an exit strategy — but effective execution of the political, economic and military measures required to achieve our purpose.”

Serial Catastrophes in Afghanistan threaten Obama Policy

 



Media Coverup: Why Illegal Wars Last Forever

Media Coverup: Why Illegal Wars Last Forever

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBWJyqMIAFg

 



NATO Air Strike Kills 150 Afghan Civilians

NATO Air Strike Kills 150 Afghan Civilians


Rahmatullah, 19, a victim of Friday’ NATO air strike, tries to sit up on his bed in a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009.

Pajwok Afghan News
September 5, 2009

Residents of Chahar Dara district in northern Kunduz province say more than 150 civilians were killed and 20 others wounded in Friday’s air strike by NATO-led forces.

The bombing in Haji Aman village came as insurgents and residents emptied oil into jerry canes from tankers hijacked by Taliban militants from the Kunduz-Baghlan Highway.

Inhabitants of the area told Pajhwok Afghan News all those killed in the bombardment were civilians and there were no Taliban at the site at the time the attack took place. Fighters had left the scene after they asked the people to take fuel for free.

An elder from Sarak-i-Bala neighbourhood, Abdul Rahim, said 15 children were among the 50 people of Yaqubi village killed in the bombing raid.

The man, who lost two sons in the incident, argued: “Poverty brought us to this stage.” No guerrillas were among the dead, he said, explaining the fighters well before the deadly assault.

A 50-year-old woman bitterly cried while standing in front of her ruined house. She said her three sons, husband and a grandson perished in the bombardment. Locals showed this reporter as many as 50 graves of civilian victims.

In the Maulvi Naeem village, residents said 20 civilians were killed in the incident. Haji Najmuddin, a tribal elder, lost two nephews. He claimed chemicals bombs were dropped on the villagers. Clothes of his nephews were not damaged but their bodies were badly charred, the man argued.

This reporter saw the graves of those killed in the air strike. Seventy of the fatalities were from Yaqubi and Maulvi Naeem villages and the rest from three other areas.

Meanwhile, Kunduz Governor Eng. Muhammad Omar said a delegation from Kabul had arrived in the district to investigate the incident and determine the exact number of civilian deaths.

Government gives up hope of more European Nato help in Afghanistan
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6143065/Government-gives-up-hope-of-more-European-Nato-help-in-Afghanistan.html

Afghan President: NATO Air Strike a “Major Error”

Afghan air strike galvanises war protesters

US troops raid Afghan hospital, says aid group

EU Nations Slam NATO Air Strike in Afghanistan

 



Mass Censorship of Dead Marine Photo

Mass Censorship of Dead Marine Photo

Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com
September 7, 2009

Americans have lost their ability for introspection, thereby revealing their astounding hypocrisy to the world.

U.S. War Secretary Robert Gates has condemned the Associated Press and a reporter, Julie Jacobson, embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, for taking and releasing a photo of a U.S. Marine who was wounded in action and died from his injury.

The photographer was on patrol with the Marines when they came under fire. She found the courage and presence of mind to do her job. Her reward is to be condemned by the warmonger Gates as “insensitive.” Gates says her employer, the Associated Press, lacks “judgment and common decency.”

The American Legion jumped in and denounced the Associated Press for a “stunning lack of compassion and common decency.”

To stem opposition to its wars, the War Department hides signs of American casualties from the public. Angry that evidence escaped the censor, the war secretary and the American Legion attacked with politically correct jargon: “insensitive,” “offended,” and the “anguish” and “pain and suffering” inflicted upon the Marine’s family. The War Department sounds like it is preparing a harassment tort.

Isn’t this passing the buck? The Marine lost his life not because of the Associated Press and a photographer, but because of the war criminals – Gates, Bush, Cheney, Obama, and the U.S. Congress that supports wars of naked aggression that serve no American purpose, but which keep campaign coffers filled with contributions from the armaments companies.

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard is dead because the U.S. government and a significant percentage of the U.S. population believe that the U.S. has the right to invade, bomb, and occupy other peoples who have raised no hand against us but are demonized with lies and propaganda.

For the American war secretary it is a photo that is insensitive, not America’s assertion of the right to determine the fate of Afghanistan with bombs and soldiers.

The exceptional “virtuous nation” does not think it is insensitive for America’s bombs to blow innocent villagers to pieces. On Sept. 4, the day before Gates’ outburst over the “insensitive” photo, Agence France Presse reported from Afghanistan that a U.S./NATO air strike had killed large numbers of villagers who had come to get fuel from two tankers that had been hijacked from negligent and inattentive occupation forces:

“’Nobody was in one piece. Hands, legs, and body parts were scattered everywhere. Those who were away from the fuel tanker were badly burnt,’ said 32-year-old Mohammad Daud, depicting a scene from hell. The burned-out shells of the tankers, still smoking in marooned wrecks on the riverbank, were surrounded by the charred-meat remains of villagers from Chahar Dara district in Kunduz province, near the Tajik border. Dr. Farid Rahid, a spokesperson in Kabul for the ministry of health, said up to 250 villagers had been near the tankers when the air strike was called in.”

What does the world think of the United States? The American war secretary and a U.S. military veterans association think a photo of an injured and dying American soldier is insensitive, but not the wipeout of an Afghan village that came to get needed fuel.

The U.S. government is like a criminal who accuses the police of his crime when he is arrested or a sociopathic abuser who blames the victim. It is a known fact that the CIA has violated U.S. law and international law with its assassinations, kidnappings, and torture. But it is not this criminal agency that will be held accountable. Instead, those who will be punished will be those moral beings who, appalled at the illegality and inhumanity of the CIA, leaked the evidence of the agency’s crimes. The CIA has asked the U.S. Justice (sic) Department to investigate what the CIA alleges is the “criminal disclosure” of its secret program to murder suspected foreign terrorist leaders abroad. As we learned from Gitmo, those suspected by America are overwhelmingly innocent.

The CIA program is so indefensible that when CIA director Leon Panetta found out about it six months after being in office, he cancelled the program (assuming those running the program obeyed) and informed Congress.

Yet, the CIA wants the person who revealed its crime to be punished for revealing secret information. A secret agency this unmoored from moral and legal standards is a greater threat to our country than are terrorists. Who knows what false flag operation it will pull off in order to provide justification and support for its agenda. An agency that is more liability than benefit should be abolished.

The agency’s program of assassinating terrorist leaders is itself fraught with contradictions and dangers. The hatred created by the U.S. and Israel is independent of any leader. If one is killed, others take his place. The most likely outcome of the CIA assassination program is that the agency will be manipulated by rivals, just as the FBI was used by one mafia family to eliminate another. In order to establish credibility with groups that they are attempting to penetrate, CIA agents will be drawn into participating in violent acts against the U.S. and its allies.

Accusing the truthteller instead of the evildoer is the position that the neoconservatives took against the New York Times when after one year’s delay, which gave George W. Bush time to get reelected, the Times published the NSA leak that revealed that the Bush administration was committing felonies by violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The neocons, especially those associated with Commentary magazine, wanted the New York Times indicted for treason. To the evil neocon mind, anything that interferes with their diabolical agenda is treason.

This is the way many Americans think. America über alles! No one counts but us (and Israel). The deaths we inflict and the pain and suffering we bring to others are merely collateral damage on the bloody path to American hegemony.

The attitude of the “freedom and democracy” U.S. government is that anyone who complains of illegality or immorality or inhumanity is a traitor. The Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond is a recent example. Bond got on his high horse about “irreparable damage” to the CIA from the disclosures of its criminal activities. Bond wants those “back stabbers” who revealed the CIA’s wrongdoings to be held accountable. Bond is unable to grasp that it is the criminal activities, not their disclosure, that is the source of the problem. Obviously, the Whistleblower Protection Act has no support from Sen. Bond, who sees it as just another law to plough under.

This is where the U.S. government stands today: Ignoring and covering up government crimes is the patriotic thing to do. To reveal the government’s crimes is an act of treason. Many Americans on both sides of the aisle agree.

Yet, they still think that they are The Virtuous Nation, the exceptional nation, the salt of the earth.

Many Newspapers Fail to Carry AP Photo of Deadly Afghan Incident

AP Photo Of Wounded Marine Sparks Debate

 



Obama Urged to Rally Support for War

Obama Urged to Rally Support for War

Wall Street Journal
September 7, 2009

The White House is facing mounting pressure from lawmakers to work harder to rally flagging public support for the war in Afghanistan.

With casualties rising, the administration is struggling to persuade voters that the war can be won or is worth the human and financial costs. Afghanistan is President Barack Obama’s top foreign-policy priority, but recent polls show that a majority of voters oppose the war for the first time since the conflict began eight years ago.

The politics of the war are getting trickier for key American allies as well. A junior minister in Britain’s Ministry of Defense resigned Thursday, criticizing his government’s strategy in Afghanistan on the eve of a major speech by Prime Minister Gordon Brown about Britain’s efforts there.

In the U.S., a growing number of lawmakers say that Mr. Obama needs to make the case for Afghanistan more forcefully — and more frequently — than he has done to date.

“The president, unfortunately, because of the crush of everything else, hasn’t talked about Afghanistan all that much,” said Sen. Bob Casey, a centrist Democrat from Pennsylvania, in an interview. “There’s so much on his plate that it has an adverse impact on his ability to spend enough time on Afghanistan.”

The president’s most extensive recent comments about Afghanistan came in an Aug. 17 speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix, where he devoted less than three minutes of a half-hour speech to a conflict he described as “a war of necessity.” Since then, most of Mr. Obama’s public remarks have focused on health care.

White House officials said there were no plans for Mr. Obama to address the Afghan war in a major speech in the near future. Tommy Vietor, an administration spokesman, said that “the president talks about Afghanistan all the time.”

“There are a lot of critical issues the president deals with every day, and a lot of critical issues he talks about,” Mr. Vietor said. “Afghanistan is on the top of his list.”

Still, a raft of recent polls shows that support for the war is falling rapidly, especially among Mr. Obama’s core Democratic and independent constituencies. A CNN/ORC poll late last month found that 74% of Democrats and 57% of independents opposed the war, dragging overall support for the conflict down to 42%.

The CNN poll found that Republican support for the conflict was holding solid at 70%, highlighting the awkward fact that Mr. Obama’s strongest allies on the war are Republican lawmakers who oppose most other parts of his agenda.

“If the president asks for more troops based on the recommendation of the commanders in the field, I expect virtually every House Republican would support the increase,” said a GOP leadership aide. “This is a fight that will be almost entirely among Democrats.”

Some Republicans say they wish Mr. Obama would make a stronger case for the U.S. role in Afghanistan. Asked recently on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether the president had sufficiently explained U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Sen. Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) said, “No.”

“The president really has to face the fact that his own leadership here is critical,” said Mr. Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations panel.

The Afghan war’s shifting political fortunes could make it harder for the administration to sell the public on the need for further expanding the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama has already agreed to send 21,000 American reinforcements, pushing U.S. troop levels there to a record 68,000, and the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is expected to ask for tens of thousands of additional troops later this month.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates sounded more amenable to such a request than he has in the past. “I’m very open to the recommendations and certainly the perspective of Gen. McChrystal,” Mr. Gates said.

The White House’s relative silence on Afghanistan comes as a surprise to many military and civilian officials at the Pentagon, who witnessed firsthand in 2007 and 2008 how the Bush administration employed Gen. David Petraeus as an effective public advocate for the Iraq war.

Gen. Petraeus, then the top U.S. commander in Iraq, testified at high-profile congressional hearings and regularly addressed large audiences at think tanks and other public venues.

The appearances helped to shore up flagging congressional support for the Bush administration’s handling of the conflict, and to prevent lawmakers from making a serious push to force a drawdown of troops.

“There’s a blueprint for how to do this,” a senior defense official who began serving in the Pentagon during the Bush administration said in an interview. “The Bush team knew that Petraeus was a great public face for the war, and they put him out there as often as they could.”

A second senior military official said he believed the Obama administration erred earlier this week by failing to publicly release a new strategic assessment of Afghanistan prepared by Gen. McChrystal. The official argued that a public presentation of the new commander’s strategic vision would have helped rally support for the war effort.

“Americans want to see a plan and how we’re going to achieve success,” the official said. “We owe it to them.”

Gen. McChrystal’s gloomy assessment was classified only at the “confidential” level, rather than the more sensitive “secret” or “top secret” classifications, meaning it could have been easily scrubbed for public release.

Mr. Gates told reporters that he was comfortable with the administration’s efforts to rally support for the war, and said Mr. Obama’s public explanations of his strategy for the conflict had been “crystal clear.”

“The nation has been at war for eight years,” he said. “The fact that Americans would be tired of having their sons and daughters at risk and in battle is not surprising.”

Anti-war groups turn against Obama after Afghan surge

 



Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

CBS News
September 5, 2009

The Taliban may be on the unofficial payroll of the United States government.

A portion of American taxpayer dollars slated for development projects in Afghanistan is alleged to end up in the hands of the Taliban, the GlobalPost reports. The United States Agency for International Development is investigating if its funds are being used by contractors to pay the Taliban for protection – from itself.

Payoffs to the Taliban are a widely known practice in Afghanistan, according to a report by GlobalPost last month. When the money is not paid, they wreak havoc in the area, blowing up bridges, kidnapping contractors and bringing projects to a halt.

GlobalPost reporter Jean MacKenzie writes, “the Taliban allegedly receives kickbacks from almost every major contract that comes into the country. The arrangements are at times highly formalized and, as GlobalPost spelled out, the Taliban actually keeps an office in Kabul to review major deals, determine percentages and conduct negotiations. The arrangements are often more personal, as when a local supplier pays off a small-time Taliban commander to allow free passage of goods through his patch of insurgency-controlled terrain.” [Source]

One source told the GlobalPost that the Taliban takes as much as 20% of development aid awarded to contractors. An embassy worker in Kabul described the arrangement as “organized crime.”

Dona Dinkler, the chief of staff for congressional affairs at USAID’s Office of Inspector General in Washington, D.C. , told the GlobalPost that the allegations are a cause for concern, but added a note of caution.

“It’s a real hard thing to prove. Who is going to survive to testify about that? That is our challenge. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. We want to get to the bottom of it,” Dinkler said.

USAID has only one inspector and two auditors in Afghanistan following the billions of dollars in aid money that the United States provides.


Anti-war groups turn against Obama after Afghan surge

Anti-war groups turn against Obama after Afghan surge

UK Telegraph
August 31, 2009

There is rising disillusion among liberals and peace activists that a president who built his campaign on his opposition to the war in Iraq now views America’s other conflict as a “war of necessity”.

Mr Obama has already added 21,000 extra troops to the 38,000 stationed there by George W Bush. In the next few weeks, he is likely to receive requests from the Pentagon for more when Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, submits a report on the progress of the war.

It is expected to paint a grim picture and offer the president three options for action: increase troop numbers dramatically, increase them less dramatically or leave them as they are.

Some organizations that campaigned against the Iraq war are biding their time or are more inclined to side with the president’s argument that a stronger counter-insurgency effort in Afghanistan is in US national interests.

But others have run out of patience, and though they know they will not yet fill city centre streets with protestors, they plan to hold marches and smaller events such as forums with war veterans and troops’ families, as well as lobbying members of Congress.

“As progressives feel more comfortable protesting against the Obama administration and challenging Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress, then we’ll be back on track,” Medea Benjamin of the anti-war group Code Pink said.

Perry O’Brien, president of the New York chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said: “In the next year, it will more and more become Obama’s war. He’ll be held responsible for the bloodshed.”

Though public opinion in the US has not turned against the war as sharply as in Britain, for the first time a majority of respondents (51 per cent) in a recent Washington Post-ABC poll said the war was not worth the fight. Among liberals, strong approval of the war plummeted by 20 per cent.

On Friday the Pentagon confirmed that August was the deadliest month for US troops since the start of the war in October 2001 to remove the Taliban government, which had refused to hand over Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks.

 

Two thirds want British troops home from Afghanistan

UK Telegraph
August 29, 2009

The public’s growing opposition to the conflict comes after the number of British deaths in Afghanistan rose above 200 earlier this month.

Yesterday, Gen Sir David Richards took over as Chief of the General Staff and vowed to get better equipment for troops and improved care for those injured fighting for Britain.

A Daily Telegraph/YouGov poll showed 62 per cent of people opposed British troops staying in Afghanistan, while 26 per cent were in favour.

Previous polls had shown that most people backed the conflict in Afghanistan, unlike the war in Iraq. They accepted the argument espoused by ministers and the opposition that it was part of the fight against terrorism that could be exported to British streets.

But increasingly voters appear unwilling to accept that claim.

Read Full Article Here