Owen Jones - The Independent [UK]
"The hawks were wrong on every count. Wrong about the weapons; wrong about being greeted with flowers; wrong about the human cost; wrong about Iraq becoming a flourishing democracy."
Almost exactly a decade ago, on a bitingly cold February day, we marched in our hundreds of thousands to stop a catastrophe.
The historic demonstration against the Iraq war was more of a shuffle than a march: the streets were too crammed to walk very fast. The coach to London was packed full of car workers. Lollipop ladies, firefighters, supermarket shelf stackers, lecturers, shopkeepers marched: there was a euphoria that people power brings.
When we left for our pick-up points, placards scattering the street, chants still echoing in the evening air, we thought we had won. How could the greatest mass of demonstrators to have ever swarmed through Britain’s streets be tossed aside?
It is a memory now punctured with bitterness. Yes, we helped trigger one of the greatest parliamentary rebellions in history as 139 Labour MPs defied the Whip, but the largely united Tories came to Tony Blair’s rescue.
When I visit schools, students who were six, seven or eight years old when we marched ask how they can change anything if up to two million demonstrators couldn’t. And forget the expenses scandal: it was Iraq that exploded what trust millions had in our political establishment.
But the real anguish lies elsewhere. The consequences of the Iraq obscenity were far worse than those of us who yelled “Not In Our Name” imagined. Years of blood and chaos followed. There can be no sense of triumphalism or vindication.
BEN ANDERSON REVIEW IN IRISH TIMES, 090213.
AFGHANISTAN: The Afghan story in modern times is one of invasion and division, but Tamim Ansary believes that urban modernisers can coax the rural population into a better future
Games Without Rules, By Tamim Ansary, Public Affairs, 416pp, £17.99
Tamim Ansary’s new book is about the “often interrupted” history of Afghanistan, focusing on the past 250 years. “Five times in the last two centuries,” he writes in the introduction, “some great power has tried to invade, occupy, conquer or otherwise take control of Afghanistan . . . These interventions have all come to grief in much the same way and for much the same reasons.”
Oh no, I thought, another book about that? There have been almost as many “graveyard of empires” books as there have been soldiers’ own accounts of the six-months-in-hell variety, and rarely does either offer anything new.
Eoin Burke Kennedy - The Irish Times
Ireland was one of 54 countries which helped facilitate the CIA's secret detention, rendition and interrogation programme in the years after the 9/11 attacks, according a new report.
The report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a human rights advocacy group, said foreign governments aided the US’s counterterrorism offensive in various ways including by hosting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees.
Its Globalising Torture report identified 136 people who had been held or transferred illegally by the CIA, the largest list compiled to date.
It also provided new information about the handling of both al-Qaeda suspects and innocent people caught up in the counterterrorism programme.
The report said Ireland permitted the use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations.
Its evidence against Ireland was based on a number of sources including three high-level reports from the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United Nations which expressed concern about the country’s "alleged co-operation" in the CIA rendition program.
It also cited documents from a legal case brought by extraordinary rendition victims against Jeppesen Dataplan, a company that provided flight planning and logistical support services for CIA extraordinary rendition flights, and which indicated that Ireland allowed use of its airspace and use of Shannon airport for CIA rendition flights.
US court records from another case involving Richmor Aviation, a company that operated CIA extraordinary rendition flights, also show that at least 13 flights operated by Richmor involving US personnel landed in Ireland between 2002 and 2004.
Ex-soldier says reason we're leaving Afghanistan is because we've lost
Arguably the greatest collection of military power in history has been ground down by ordinary people with no planes, no armour, no drones and no illusions about why Afghanistan was invaded.
By Joe Glenton
Ex-soldier Joe Glenton refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds, for which he was court martialled and jailed, spending five months in military prison.
CONTRARY TO the spin regarding the capabilities of the Afghan security forces, withdrawal of British troops from the country is being driven solely by insider attacks and opposition at home.
The exit strategy for the ISAF had been getting Afghan security forces to fend for themselves, so that control of the country could be continued by proxy. This task, by all credible accounts, has not been achieved.
Rather, the insider attacks have scuppered the training program, and now we are seeing the onset of the “cut and run” that politicians have talked up for so long.
Think what you will of the politics of the resistance, but even if you mischaracterise all, or even most, of the opponents of occupation as Islamist, the strategy of “insider” attacks has an undeniable Tet quality to it. It should also be noted that a resistance on any scale, let alone the scale of the insurgency in Afghanistan, needs support and sanction by the population to go anywhere.
The shameful treatment of foreign children in U.S. custody
By John J. Connolly
The State Department revealed this month that the United States has detained more than 200 children at its military prison in Afghanistan. I represent one of them, a boy who left his parents' home in Karachi, Pakistan in July 2008, when he was 14, on a trip to his grandparents' house in western Pakistan. He was allegedly captured in Afghanistan a few weeks later and has been "detained" at Bagram Air Force Base ever since. What frustrates me about the State Department report is not the number of children detained, but that the U.S. won't let me or other lawyers make a case that these children should be released. According to the U.S., the children can make that case themselves — perhaps with the assistance of a military "personal representative" — but not with the help of a parent, guardian, friend or lawyer.
The detention of children during armed conflict is not new. It has occurred for many reasons, sometimes to protect the child from society and other times to protect society from the child. Since the end of World War II, however, a consensus has emerged that children caught up in armed conflict are usually victims. Over the last 60 years, civilized societies have adopted an array of principles, laws and treaties to protect children from war.