He was racing in a Humvee with four other soldiers, having arrived there just days before, 19 years old. The day he got there his best friend was shot in the head, boom, gone in an instant. Now he was racing along this road when a missile directly hit the cab of the vehicle. One guy’s legs were gone and another was killed right away, and the missile flew right by his head, just missing him. He seemed uninjured, but he was, and now he is back in Boston.
It was a sunny August afternoon in Boston as I leaped into a cab. I had just finished attending a conference of great religious educators at Boston University, and I was feeling very good about my presentation. I thought it was a home run because I really connected with the message and the people.
The 50-something Irish cab driver, whose presence …
The recent news of a rogue group of American military personnel murdering Afghans for sport is a sign of America’s war fatigue. The more the war drags on without attainable goals the worse the “quality control” of American troops. American troops are exhausted and over-stretched, and we must ask, what is there to be done?
The clear answer is deep engagement with the people of Afghanistan, engagement that wins the war through winning the people from the insurgents, and even winning over many of the insurgents. Here is how:
Vastly Expand CERP Funds
CERP stands for Commanders’ Emergency Response Program. These funds are being used by forward thinking commanders to reconstruct mosques and other basic construction needs. General Petreaus should significantly increase the quantity of these funds and the flexibility of their usage, particularly supporting commanders and chaplains in particular regions that have engaged the community, tribal and religious leaders …
This is a wonderful article, very important timing. Ria is absolutely right on, except I suspect strongly that Petreaus is much more of an ally than she thinks. But there are other problems with the American military and political system that are preventing the rational approach that she is recommending. The ideology of killing, hard conquest, is in the way, and it still afflicts enough people at various levels of authority that moving quickly now is hard. But that is where progressives need to step up and lobby hard, with money, to do the right thing.
A role for the US in Afghan national reconciliation?
05 August 2010
Washington, DC – In June, at the latest loya jirga (a grand assembly comprised of tribal leaders) meeting in Kabul, 1,600
Trying to figure out why I am always trying to clean up messes that I did not create, messes that I predicted. So here we go again with the dance of clashes that others crave. I will be on Al Hurra at 4 because there are demonstrations happening in response all over the world.
The Obama administration has said that it is concerned about the proposed burning of the Koran by a US church group.
On Tuesday, the White House said that it supported recent comments from General David Patraeus, the chief commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, that the torching could put US troops in the country at risk.
“It puts our troops in harm’s way, any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration,” Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said.
A Church group in
Why Afghanistan Matters
by Sophia Rose Shafi
As a parent of a child who is half-Afghan, I am reminded daily of how lucky she is to have shelter, good health, and ample food and clothing. Most Afghan children are not so lucky. 14% of children die before reaching their first birthday. One in five children die before they reach the age of five years old. Afghanistan also has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world, after Angola and Sierra Leone.
Life is also dismal for adults. Only 22% of Afghans have access to safe water. Life expectancy is 44 years old (44.04 for men, 44.21 for women). The maternal death rate hovers at around 50%. And 87% of females are victims of domestic violence.
History has not been kind to Afghans, especially over the past thirty years of unending war. Most know the story well – Soviet invasion, …
I was concerned by a recent description in the New York Times of the inner workings of Fatah, and the questions facing the United States and Israel. The author writes as if he accepts everything that Israeli leaders tell him at face value. Speaking about the question of a Fatah meeting in order to reform the movement and thus present a better challenge to Hamas at the polls, he writes:
For Israel and the United States, the problem is equally vexing. They have an interest in helping the nationalists to reform and hold their congress. But they also have to decide how much to help the new leaders, some of whom may end up becoming opponents if the peace negotiating process fails.
Oh really? Endless interviews with Fatah activists over the years come back to one theme: the leadership of Israel, in order to hold onto Judea and Samaria for …
Secretary Clinton’s apology for the Afghan civilian casualties was profuse and heartfelt, which is good. And her commitment to additional measures of addressing the conflict beyond the military one is welcome. But the standard alternatives, as usual, are about economic development and are rather long-term. There are other interventions afoot, however, that could have a more dramatic effect if the United States pursued them. This may have to challenge a tendency in the United States and Israel to always find a bad guy, even as you are engaging in nonviolent alternatives. In this case the ‘bad guys’ are the Taliban, who have a horrible human rights record. But evidence from the ground from our colleagues in the field, which I cannot share at this point, suggests that there are significant numbers of Taliban, young and old, who are trying to pull away from the extremist leadership who have no regrets …
This important exchange took place at ICAR, my school, in recent days. This debate addresses a topic we must think about which is how and whether to engage extremists who have committed massive war crimes. Inevitably it devolves into questions of what we know and who we know it from, which also gets into issues of trust and distrust of prevailing sources of information in the West and elsewhere. I have come to see in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, especially the Israeli/Hamas conflict and the Hamas/Fatah conflict, that reliable information is very hard to come by. This is where we need to listen to each other, listen to victims, agree on core principles, and move forward with plans that attack the problem from several directions. It begins with Saira Yamin’s letter to NYT, continues with Professor Richard Rubenstein’s response and then Saira’s response:
More Force in Afghanistan?
New York Times,
An important debate is raging on the future of the Western intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Congressman Michael Honda has two important articles, here, and here. CRDC expert and ICAR student Neamat Nojumi, a former mujahaddin, has an important piece here.
Central to these analyses is that military force alone will never solve the Afghanistan conflicts, nor will an intervention work that does not directly address the role that Pakistan has played in perpetuating this conflict for decades. Another more difficult question is the Taliban, how to compete with them more effectively, how to defeat them, and whether to engage any of them.
All of the recommendations seem excellent. I also recommend reading The Kite Runner which has profoundly affected my life and my appreciation for what Afghanistan has gone through and who or what is responsible. I never cease to be amazed at how effectively …