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Philadelphia. October 6, 2011 (Photo by joanneleon)
"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children."

Jimmy Carter, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2002

War - Edwin Starr (Original Vinyl)
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News and Opinion

Civilian Blood Continues to Spill in Afghanistan
UN: August was second deadliest month for civilians

The UN's special representative in Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, stated that in August 374 civilians were killed and 581 were injured, and added that "a greater number of civilian deaths and injuries occurred in July and August than in the same period last year."

“Even where there are not armed clashes, an insidious campaign of intimidation and targeted killings is claiming lives of Government officials, women’s rights activists, tribal elders and community leaders -- including those actively working for peace,” said Kubiš.

Kubiš noted that "Aerial attacks continue to be the main cause of civilian casualties" by "pro-Government forces."

Kubiš made the comments at the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday, days after a NATO airstrike killed at least 8 women in Afghanistan.

Taliban release video on Afghan base attackers

(CBS/AP) KABUL, Afghanistan - The Taliban published a video Monday they say shows insurgents preparing for the brazen attack on a major NATO base earlier this month, just as NATO forces released data showing that insurgent attacks decreased in August.

The twin releases are a reminder of the escalating battle for public opinion between the insurgency and the international military as U.S. and allied troops draw down. The Taliban continue to contend that they are fighting at full force while the international alliance says that they have been weakened.

[ ... ]

One man speaking in Pashtu says, "There many Muslim youths who have sacrificed themselves in the name of Allah, and there many more who are following their path. You see these infidels have occupied Muslim lands, they have insulted our prophet with cartoons, they have disrespected our mosques and our holy book, they have imprisoned our Muslim brothers and have insulted them, they have destroyed our mosques. . . .

Auditing the US surge in Afghanistan
Now that the last surge troops have left, what did it achieve? Limited tactical success against the Taliban. Strategically, less

Reminiscent of similar attacks on Pakistani military bases, a small group of well-trained militants carried out the spectacular attack on Camp Bastion, one of Isaf's largest bases in country. Fifteen well-armed militants disguised in US army uniforms breached the perimeter fence and split into three roving teams. The result: two US marines killed, including the Harrier squadron commanding officer, nine wounded, and eight AV-8B Harrier "jump jets" destroyed or damaged beyond repair. It was the largest, single-day loss of US military aircraft since Vietnam. At roughly $30m per copy, the loss of eight irreplaceable Harriers rendered VMA-211, the squadron hit, combat ineffective for the first time since December 1941.

[ ... ]

Measuring success is a mixed bag. Surge forces did achieve tangible gains at a tactical level. They reclaimed long-held Taliban territory throughout the south and improved the quality and quantity of Afghan army and police units.

Unfortunately, those gains had little strategic effect and thus did not translate into political success. Military gains are threatened as Nato forces begin their withdrawal because the Taliban still enjoy sanctuary in Pakistan, Afghan forces have not demonstrated an ability to provide widespread security without Nato support, and because the Afghan government is still riddled with corruption.

In many ways, this is the story of the last decade of war. American military forces have been superior on the battlefield, but policy-makers seemingly have not learned that winning the battle does not necessarily mean winning the war. In response to a quip by Colonel Harry Summers, made shortly before the fall of Saigon, "You know, you never beat us on the battlefield," a North Vietnamese officer replied, "That may be true but it is also irrelevant."

Can a Doomed Soldier's Letter Change the Course of the Afghanistan War?

While Sitton's letter has certainly been a catalyst in changing Young's heart on Afghanistan, Young has always been an advocate for our wounded warriors and he frequently visits them at Veterans Administration hospitals to check on their care.

But Young is not the only Republican having second thoughts on Afghanistan.

Young told the Tampa Bay Times that he has talked with his Republican colleagues in Congress about his new position on Afghanistan and he believes they feel the same way he does, "but they tend not to want to go public" about it.

According to the Stars and Stripes, Republican Congressman Tom Rooney said that after learning that the training of Afghans by coalition forces has been suspended, "I no longer know what our mission is anymore ... right now I am on Bill Young's side of this issue. I have never been before."

It may thus be that the words of a fallen Army Ranger -- a hero who leaves behind his wife, Sarah, and their 9-month-old son, Brodey -- may have a greater impact on the course of a war than the words of a presidential candidate, of generals, of pundits and, hopefully, of Senator Lindsey Graham.

Afghanistan hails US action on marines video

The Pentagon announced that Staff Sergeants Joseph Chamblin and Edward Deptola will face court martial, a month after three other Marines were sanctioned administratively for their role in the July 27, 2011 incident in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

“We welcome the US move to put those Marines on trial,” Afghanistan’s defence ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi told AFP.

[ ... ]

The decision to refer the sergeants for trial comes in the midst of a wave of violent anti-American protests in the Muslim world over a US-made film that ridicules the Prophet Mohammed(PBUH).

Obama heads to UN, skipping meetings with foreign leaders

White House officials said Obama would use the speech before the world body to denounce the violence that led to the deaths of four Americans in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as well as to underscore that the U.S. is united with Israel when it comes to ensuring that Iran not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

Coming 42 days before the election, Obama’s speech is likely to be aimed at a domestic audience as much as an international one, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted: “This is not a campaign speech.”

Libya Threatens Clinton's Legacy — and State Does Damage Control
After a catastrophic security failure in Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s team tries to scapegoat CNN — for finding a diary the State Department now admits it didn't even know existed. Why Foggy Bottom deserves the blame.
By Michael Hastings
The blockbuster news contradicted the line the State Department and the administration had been pushing since the horrible tragedy took place almost two weeks ago: that there was no intelligence of a coming attack. In fact, the Ambassador himself was aware of a persistent high level threat against him.

“Perhaps the real question here,” CNN responded to the State Department criticism, “Is why is the State Department now attacking the messenger.”

That is the real question, and State Department’s bizarre criticism of CNN gives clues to the answer. Foggy Bottom is now in full-on damage control mode, with the primary goal of keeping Hillary Clinton’s legacy in Libya — and in Washington — intact.

Hillary Clinton Aide Tells Reporter To “Fuck Off” And “Have A Good Life”
As the State Department's story about what happened in Benghazi crumbles, Clinton's personal spokesperson, Philippe Reines, loses his temper. “Have a good day. And by good day I mean Fuck Off.”

On Sunday morning, BuzzFeed correspondent Michael Hastings emailed Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton's longtime aide and personal spokesman at the State Department, asking a series of pointed questions about State's handling of the Benghazi fiasco, and Reines' over-the-top attack on CNN. The emails quickly got personal, with Reines calling Hastings an "unmitigated asshole" before an exchange of harsh words on both sides.

The email chain concluded with Reines writing that Hastings should "Fuck Off" and "Have a nice life."

State Department attacks CNN for doing basic journalism
Obama officials hide behind Ambassador Stevens' family to delegitimize reporting that reflects poorly on them

Yet again, western military intervention spawns vast instability and leads to the proliferation of weapons into the hands of extremists deeply hostile to the US. As Jonathan Schwarz, referring to the US support of the pre-Al-Qaeda mujahdeen, sardonically noted in the aftermath of the 11 September Benghazi attack: "with practice and better technology, we've really cut down the turnaround time between arming Islamists and them killing Americans on 9/11."

We see this over and over and yet never learn the lesson. The New York Times editorial page today declared the Iraqi government "on the wrong side" by virtue of its alignment with Iran and Syria and suggested that US aid - only a fraction of what is necessary to rebuild that country after the US destroyed it - should be cut off if such insolence continues. US-enabled regime change, time and again, exacerbates the very problems it is ostensibly intended to resolve.

If the Iraqi government continues to side with Iran, how much longer will it be before calls for regime change in Iraq are renewed? And how much longer will it be before we hear that military intervention in Libya is (again) necessary, this time to control the anti-US extremists who are now armed and empowered by virtue of the first intervention? US military interventions are most adept at ensuring that future US military interventions will always be necessary.

NYT Editorial.
On the Wrong Side

Leaders of Iraq’s Shiite-led government have often advised the United States not to worry about their ties with Iran, where Shiites are also in the majority. But the assurances are getting harder to swallow. Baghdad is showing a distressing willingness to side with the region’s most repressive regimes, not just Iran but also Iran’s chief ally, the brutal Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

[ ... ]

Iraqis have a chance to build a new democratic system based on the rule of law and respect for all citizens. It would be morally wrong and hypocritical if Iraqi leaders, who were so long oppressed by Saddam Hussein, kept working against Syrians as they struggle to overthrow their tyrant.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, October Surprise?

Keep in mind that, despite the president’s reputation as a visionary speaker, in global terms his has distinctly been an administration of managers.  The visionaries came earlier.  They were the first-term Bushites, including George W., Dick, and Donald, each in his own way globally bonkers, and all of them and their associates almost blissfully wrong about the nature of power in our world.  (They mistook the destructive power of the U.S. military for global power itself.)  As a consequence, they blithely steered the ship of state directly into a field of giant icebergs.

[ ... ]

Back in 2004, Egyptian diplomat Amr Moussa warned the Bush administration that its invasion of Iraq had opened “the gates of hell.”  Of course, Washington paid him no heed.  He was neither an autocrat nor a soldier, but the secretary-general of the meaningless Arab League, so what were his credentials to explain reality to them?  As it happened, he couldn’t have been more on the mark and they more in the dark.  Unfortunately, it took some time, two minority insurgencies, much chaos, millions driven into exile, a bitter sectarian civil war (now being repeated in Syria), and morgues filled with dead bodies before the Arab Spring would be launched.  Though that movement was named for a season of renewal, its name was apt in another sense entirely: a whole system that had long held in place a key region of the planet was being sprung loose.

[ ... ]
The truth is, from Iran to Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Libya to Yemen, despite almost four years of Obama’s ministrations and management, war and diplomacy, the Bush legacy is still threatening to blow the region sky-high.  It could easily happen any time in the 43 days before November 6th.  Which is why, from Sudan to Libya, the Obama administration is playing little Dutch boy, trying to plug every hole it can in the Middle Eastern dike and praying that any coming tsunami won’t hit before the election.

A World at the Boiling Point

The question of the political season, then, has nothing to do with Mitt.  It’s this: Can the Greater Middle East be managed effectively enough for any potentially embarrassing thing to be swept under some rug until November 7th?  And that’s just one region on a planet aboil.

QE3 Another Fed Give Away to the Banks
Michael Hudson: Shoveling money to the banks not meant to create jobs, it’s a way to give banks even more speculative capital and prepare them for another meltdown

Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
The “neuroscience” shelves in bookshops are groaning. But are the works of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer just self-help books dressed up in a lab coat?

An intellectual pestilence is upon us. Shop shelves groan with books purporting to explain, through snazzy brain-imaging studies, not only how thoughts and emotions function, but how politics and religion work, and what the correct answers are to age-old philosophical controversies. The dazzling real achievements of brain research are routinely pressed into service for questions they were never designed to answer. This is the plague of neuroscientism – aka neurobabble, neurobollocks, or neurotrash – and it’s everywhere.

[ ... ]

The idea that a neurological explanation could exhaust the meaning of experience was already being mocked as “medical materialism” by the psychologist William James a century ago. And today’s ubiquitous rhetorical confidence about how the brain works papers over a still-enormous scientific uncertainty. Paul Fletcher, professor of health neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, says that he gets “exasperated” by much popular coverage of neuroimaging research, which assumes that “activity in a brain region is the answer to some profound question about psychological processes. This is very hard to justify given how little we currently know about what different regions of the brain actually do.” Too often, he tells me in an email correspondence, a popular writer will “opt for some sort of neuro-flapdoodle in which a highly simplistic and questionable point is accompanied by a suitably grand-sounding neural term and thus acquires a weightiness that it really doesn’t deserve. In my view, this is no different to some mountebank selling quacksalve by talking about the physics of water molecules’ memories, or a beautician talking about action liposomes.”

Cutting the Cord on Cable TV's Pricey Monthly Bill

Take a deep breath. The era of digitized content is ushering in a new wave of cost-saving viewing: From streaming-video websites to digital media providers, these alternatives to cable TV might prompt you to chuck the cable box for good.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues - 9-24-12

Tanker War by Garrett

News Leaks of $1 Billion Blackstone Investment in Foreclosed Properties… Just in Tampa Bay by David Dayen

Chris Hedges & Dinesh Dsouza Debate The Obama Presidency by MrBillofRights

This Way, Life Should Be by IsaacJKassin

What Do a Retired Catholic Bishop, UAE Commentator & Julian Assange Have in Common? by Jesselyn Radack

War...what is it good for? absolutely nothing
(Warning: Graphic war images)


We are ready for some serious change. We are ready to take up the tools of a free and analytic press to peacefully undermine the stranglehold of the kleptocrats on our battered democracy. We are ready to expose and publicize their greed, lies and illegal machinations and hold their enablers in government and the media to account. Are you in?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
 ~ Margaret Mead

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 05:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH and Group W: Resisting War.

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