Afghanistan

Drones: a humane approach to war? Or a special form of inhumanity?

Dirk Kurbjuweit says Germany should not allow itself to be seduced by the idea that an unmanned aircraft is a humane weapon.
A SUICIDE BOMBER needs to be 100 percent willing to sacrifice his life. With a drone pilot, on the other hand, the risk of pilot death drops to zero percent.

The West's war on Islamist terror is currently being waged between these two conflicting priorities. Nothing is more indicative of the asymmetry of the war, and nothing is as symbolic of the cultures that are waging it.

It's a war between those who are willing to sacrifice everything and those who are unwilling to give up anything -- a war of sacrifice versus convenience, bodies versus technology and risk versus safety.

Like no other weapon, the drone stems from the needs and strengths of the West. Aside from convenience, technology and safety, it also represents a moral claim. In the world of weapons, the drone is a good weapon, at least at first glance. It claims no victims on one side and relatively few on the other, because it fires precision missiles.

The German Defense Ministry recently confirmed that the German military, the Bundeswehr, is currently reviewing the question of whether it should buy combat drones. (At the moment, it only uses unarmed drones for reconnaissance purposes.) Because Germany is relatively scrupulous in matters of war, the unmanned aircraft seems to be the ideal weapon for the country.

But is it really true that the drone is a good weapon? In reality, it raises a number of ethical questions related to pride, humanity and the law.

Keeping Their Distance

In the history of war, close-quarters combat is considered especially noble. It requires strength and courage. Those who are weaker and more cautious prefer to keep their distance. In the Bible, David was able to defeat Goliath because his slingshot enabled him to stay far away from the giant.

Amnesty Internationals support for imperialist occcupation

By Ashley Smith (USA)

MOST PEOPLE associate Amnesty International with challenging torture, protesting the death penalty and agitating for the liberation of political prisoners. On top of these important campaigns, Amnesty has over the last decade opposed the Iraq war and demanded the closure of America's concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

So antiwar activists in Chicago were shocked during last May's NATO Summit to find that Amnesty International USA had plastered city bus stops with ads declaring: "Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan: NATO, Keep the Progress Going!"

Worse still, Amnesty USA put on a "shadow summit" of its own during the NATO meeting, featuring Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's notorious secretary of state, who will be forever remembered for her chilling response to a question on 60 Minutes about sanctions imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. Correspondent Lesley Stahl asked, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."

With a veritable war criminal as one of its star speakers, Amnesty USA's shadow summit launched a campaign that, for all intents and purposes, called for the extension of NATO's "good works" in Afghanistan. Its speakers and promotional materials recycled George Bush's "feminist" justification of the invasion and occupation--that NATO would liberate women from Taliban rule.

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?”

Syndicate content