Afghanistan

Julian Assange has done us all a service. He needs support

EAMON MCCANN - BELFAST TELEGRAPH

Sympathy seems in short supply for Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks currently holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Swedish authorities want to talk to Assange about allegations of sexual assault in Stockholm. He says he fears that, if he travels to Sweden, he might be extradited to the US on charges of espionage arising from WikiLeaks' publication of 250,000 classified diplomatic documents.

Assange's supporters insist the allegations are spurious. The robust feminist and anti-war campaigner Naomi Klein says: "Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women's freedom was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up."

Whatever the truth of what happened in Stockholm, Assange's apprehensions about what might happen in the US are far from fanciful.

The head of the US Senate's intelligence oversight committee, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, told the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend that, "I believe that Julian Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States ... He has caused serious harm to US national security and should be prosecuted accordingly."

In light of that, and given seemingly permanently heightened US anxieties about 'homeland security', Assange's nightmare glimpse of himself shuffling in a jump-suit in Guantanamo Bay can hardly be dismissed as an invented ploy for evading the Swedish police. So it's puzzling that few in the mainstream media seem concerned about his plight.

Assange's team worked for almost a year, with others, sifting through and annotating the leaked archive prior to launching publication in November 2010.

His partners were the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel - publications held in the highest esteem, not least by themselves. (Hundreds of the leaked State Department cables have since been published in the Belfast Telegraph.)

Why is Amnesty International calling for more US/NATO war and occupation in Afghanistan?

LISA SAVAGE - COMMON DREAMS

'What women all over Afghanistan really need is an end to war, real security, respect for the law, food, clean water, and access to education. That would be authentic progress.'

WHEN rich countries like the U.S., Japan, and NATO nations get together periodically to discuss the future of development funding for Afghanistan, who represents the interests of women and children who actually live there?

Mostly men.

Even though research shows that durable security accords responsive to real conditions for civilians in war zones require women's participation in the planning stages.

Even though United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 recognized this reality, and called for significant numbers of women to be present in all security talks.

On July 8-9 in Tokyo governments, international organizations, and other major donors will meet to discuss and take on financial commitments for a ten year period after 2014. As global players discuss funding Afghanistan's future development, will they continue the pattern of devoting 90% of funds to building the Afghan army and police forces?

If they really want peace, they will invite Afghan women to the table and listen to their expert testimony on how to make Afghanistan a safe place for them and their families.

Fahima Vorgetts of the Afghan Women's Fund is one of a chorus of voices making what should be an obvious point: that more military or even policing does not represent more security for women. On an international conference call organized by CODEPINK June 27, Vorgetts shared her view.

Stop using women as an excuse to continue the war in Afghanistan

Pat Kennelly - Common Dreams

If Hillary Clinton and other world leaders are on the side of Afghan women, they should not support the war and the leaders who are actively engaged in violating women’s rights.

Here in Afghanistan, the United States is spending $2 billion dollars a week on war under the guise of improving Afghanistan.
In Chicago at the NATO summit, Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright and several influential female leaders came together and publicly claimed an American and NATO troop presence in Afghanistan was warranted in order to continue to improve the security of women.

The problem is that these influential women are calling for the very thing that makes Afghan women insecure. Further, they are endorsing Afghan leaders who attack women’s rights. It is not only the war that undermines the security and human rights of Afghan women, but the very war making politicians whom NATO supports.

Over the last ten years, the U.S. and NATO poured trillions of dollars into the occupation of Afghanistan, opening over 400 military bases around the country. From these bases NATO forces launch hundreds of night raids per month and dozens of drones fill the sky. These NATO operations have caused greater insecurity for women.

They create countless widows, destroy homes, and foster a psychological terror that women are not safe and secure, even in their own homes.

It is not only the war that undermines the security and human rights of Afghan women, but the very war making politicians whom NATO supports.

In March, President Karzai endorsed a nonbinding edict by Afghanistan's religious authorities, stating that women are inferior to men, women cannot refuse to have sex with their husbands, and women should wear full hijab. The edict stated, "men are fundamental and women are secondary," adding women should avoid "mingling with strange men in various social activities such as education, in bazaars, in offices and other aspects of life."

Obama's Biggest Mistake In The World

Obama's Biggest Mistake In The World
Afghanistan is a catastrophe. At the NATO Summit in Chicago, the president will keep covering up the biggest foreign policy mistake of his political career.
Michael Hastings

President Obama will arrive in Chicago this weekend to participate in a charade that has one not-so-hidden goal: Get the hell out of Afghanistan.

After Obama made what many around him now privately acknowledge was a mistake to escalate the conflict three years ago — essentially creating a new war of his own, tripling the size of U.S. forces after he caved under intense pressure from the Pentagon — the White House has been desperately searching for a way out. Ideally, one that couldn’t be spun as a full on retreat.

The administration didn’t find it at the last NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, two years ago. The U.S. still had to pretend they were in it for the next decade.There, NATO Secretary General Anders Foghs Rasmussen boldly committed the U.S. and Europe beyond 2014. “One thing must be very clear: NATO is in this for the long term,” he told reporters at the time.

Today, the calculus has changed completely, while the strategy’s failure is nearly impossible to deny. Bin Laden’s killing — which, for what it’s worth, had zero relationship to the counterinsurgency plan we adopted — gave Obama the political cover to pull it off. Finally, Obama could overrule his generals (which he did a month after the Osama raid) whose plan called for 130,000 troops to stay for years more to come.

"People are ready to see the war be wound down,” says Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network. “They don’t really understand. It’s been ten years, Bin Laden is gone, what exactly are we there for again?”

‘The Poetry of the Taliban’ stirs controversy in Britain and beyond

‘The Poetry of the Taliban’ stirs controversy in Britain and beyond
A new anthology is both depressing and revelatory
by Stephen Marche on Friday, May 18, 2012 2:41pm - 0 Comments

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
The U.K. release of Poetry of the Taliban this month has generated that rarest of media phenomena, a genuine poetry scandal. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, blasted the collection: “What we need to remember is that these are fascist, murdering thugs who suppress women and kill people without mercy if they do not agree with them.” He went on to accuse the publishers of “being taken in by a lot of self-justifying propaganda.” The editors defended the universality of the experiences described in the collection and compared their book to the recently published Heroes: 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets. Both sides believe the poetry in the Taliban anthology will inevitably create sympathy for the enemy; the commander fears the sympathy, the poetry editors desire it. But the most shocking emotion the book inspires isn’t fellow feeling with the butchers of Afghanistan; it is delight. The pleasure of Poetry of the Taliban is its most upsetting feature.

Malalai Joya: These NATO anti-war demonstrations are the most important of our generation

Malalai Joya: These NATO anti-war demonstrations are the most important of our generation
17 May 2012 Malalai Joya Afghanistan and Pakistan
The protesters remind us that the US government is not representative of the US people. It's encouraging to see so many willing to stand up against this unjust, disastrous war in Afghanistan.

By Malalai Joya
The Guardian
16 May 2012

The NO TO NATO demonstration in Chigago is twinned with the protest in London on 19 May outside the US Embassy: Joint statement by National United Antiwar Coalition (US) and Stop the War Coalition (UK)

Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Chicago this weekend for Nato's annual summit where Afghanistan will be top of the agenda.

It promises to be one of the most important anti-war demonstrations of our generation. I will be unable to travel to attend, but from here in Kabul I can tell you that the whole country will be watching Chicago this weekend.

The protesters remind us that the US government is not representative of the US people. It's encouraging to see so many willing to take action and stand up against this unjust, disastrous war.

Recently Barack Obama travelled to Kabul to meet Afghanistan's so-called president, Hamid Karzai. Both leaders used this meeting to pretend that they are ending this war when they are really trying to prolong it.

Obama knows that the American people are turning against the war, and both men also know that the Afghan people are against not only the war, but the continued occupation of their country.

Both claim that the war will end in 2014, while saying simultaneously that American troops will remain in some capacity until 2024. As 2024 nears they will probably say they mean to remain in Afghanistan until 2034.

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