No let-up on the International Day of Peace - death remains America's top export
By Johnny Barber
ON THIS International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives.
This in some respects is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply.
For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan.
The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that non-violence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war.
Established in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Peace was to coincide with its opening session. The first Peace Day was observed on September 21st, 1982. In 1982 the Soviet Union was increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan and facing fierce fighting throughout the provinces.
Thirty years later Afghanistan is still at war. The opponents have changed, and the weaponry has changed. The War on Terror, Armored Humvees, IED’s, suicide bombers, night raids, smart bombs, and drones have all entered the American lexicon.
Six Nato troops and eight women killed in Afghanistan
EMMA GRAHAM-HARRISON in Kabul
IN A WEEKEND that highlighted the strains on the international mission in Afghanistan the Taliban mounted an audacious and deadly assault on the main British base in Helmand, six Nato troops were killed by Afghan allies, and an airstrike yesterday killed eight women who were out collecting pine nuts.
On Friday night an attack on Camp Bastion caught commanders by surprise, when a 15-strong suicide squad wearing US military uniforms and armed with suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles punched through the wall of a base considered almost impregnable because of its isolated location and heavily fortified perimeter.
Inside, the attackers killed two US soldiers, destroyed six multi-million pound Harrier jets and three refuelling stations, “significantly damaged” two other jets, and hit six aircraft hangars.
Nato commanders often talk of the insurgency being weakened. In May, the top UK officer in Afghanistan, Lieut Gen Adrian Bradshaw, said the Taliban’s weapon supplies and financing were under pressure. “I would say that we have clear evidence that the momentum has been reversed,” he said.
But Friday’s sophisticated, destructive and high-profile assault served as a reminder of the resources and discipline of the Taliban, at a time when Nato troops are streaming home for good, sometimes at a rate of hundreds a day. The attack may even affect combat operations in the south, because there are now eight fewer aircraft to support troops spread out across Helmand.
“We couldn’t afford this loss,” a US marine aviation officer told the Long War Journal website.
Nato expresses "regret" over civilian deaths in airstrike - claim initially rejected by US coalition.
JOHNNY BARBER - COUNTERPUNCH
On average, one US soldier dies everyday. Not an enormous sum, unless it is your mother, father, son or daughter that has perished. Few Americans notice. Afghan loses are not reported.
ELEVEN YEARS LATER, we are still at war. Bullets, mortars and drones are still extracting payment. Thousands, tens of thousands, millions have paid in full. Children and even those yet to be born will continue to pay for decades to come.
On a single day in Iraq last week there were 29 bombing attacks in 19 cities, killing 111 civilians and wounding another 235. On Sept 9th, reports indicate 88 people were killed and another 270 injured in 30 attacks all across the country. Iraq continues in a seemingly endless death spiral into chaos. In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President, Obama claimed he ended the war in Iraq, well… not quite.
The city of Fallujah remains under siege. Not from US troops, but from a deluge of birth defects that have plagued families since the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus by US forces in 2004. No government studies have provided a direct link to the use of these weapons because no government studies have been undertaken, and none are contemplated.
Dr. Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, told Al Jazeera,
From Nazi uniform to army fatigues -- can Prince Harry rehabillitate the war in Afghanistan?
The Royal Family has traditionally dressed up in uniforms to pretend that we’re all in this together. That’s why Prince Harry’s return is being so widely publicised.
By Lindsey German
SO PRINCE HARRY is back in Afghanistan. Fresh from a strenuous summer celebrating the Jubilee, watching the Olympics and partying in Las Vegas, he is now engaged in flying Apache helicopters in Camp Bastion.
Rehabillitating the reputation of the third in line to the throne has been a full time task for many years -- his most notorious fall from grace being when he dressed up as a Nazi for a friend's party.
No doubt the royal publicity machine and Harry's military commanders will hope that this time he isn't caught on video calling Asian colleagues in the army "our little Paki friend" or using racist terms like "raghead", as he was in 2006.
Unlike his last tour of duty in the war zone, when there was complete press silence over his presence while he was there, this time his return is heralded in a blaze of publicity. Compliant media, including the Guardian, are happy to write sympathetic pieces, in return for future (no doubt sympathetic) coverage when he leaves in four months time.
No doubt The Sun will have no end of "Prince Harry fights Taliban" headlines, like it did following the last time he was in Afghanistan.
TOBY HELM - THE OBSERVER
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, accuses the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and says the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided "than any other conflict in history".
Writing in the Observer, Tutu also suggests the controversial US and UK-led action to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003 created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.
"The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain," Tutu argues, "fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us."
But it is Tutu's call for Blair and Bush to face justice in The Hague that is most startling. Claiming that different standards appear to be set for prosecuting African leaders and western ones, he says the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient on its own for Blair and Bush to be tried at the ICC.
"On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague," he says.
The court hears cases on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. To date, 16 cases have been brought before the court but only one, that of Thomas Lubanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been completed. He was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years' imprisonment for his part in war crimes in his home country.