Category Archives: Afghanistan

GOP, Iran, Obama and gas prices.

Juan Cole:

As prices in February hit a historic high for this time of year, presaging perhaps $5 a gallon gasoline this summer in the US, Iran is still sitting pretty. The fragile European and US economies, however, may take a hit from higher transportation costs (the US will likely see a fall in summer travel and internal tourism). The same Republicans who complain that President Obama hasn’t been hard enough on Iran are cynically planning to campaign against him on his having caused higher petroleum prices, ignoring the role of sanctions on Iran and tensions with that country in the price run-up! I hate to say it but I told you so.

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Afghanistan: We’ve punished the Taliban enough, I think.

afghan_girls_classIt was al-Qaeda, not the Taliban nor Afghanistan that attacked us. We didn’t go there to change their religion, or wipe out poppy fields, or make them a democracy. Neither NATO, the US, Russia, nor an Afghan “central government,” elected or otherwise, can control the mountainous areas adjoining Pakistan. Even the military admits that.

“These (outposts) are costly and dangerous and not doing much to bring security to the people or connect the people to their government,” said a U.S. official who’s familiar with the region. “The terrain is too rugged, the infrastructure and especially roads do not exist and couldn’t be built on short order, and the population is too low and too dispersed.”

American commanders had hoped that sending more troops to the border area, coupled with a new Pakistani drive against the militants on its side of the border, could deprive al Qaida and the Taliban of a sanctuary and end infiltration from Pakistan.

However, two senior U.S. officials said, there’s no sign that the Pakistani military is prepared to move against the militants, and as one of them put it: “There’s no point swinging a hammer if there’s no anvil there.”

Mr. President: Declare that we’ve punished the Taliban and decimated al-Qaeda, and that we’ll be watching Afghanistan closely for al-Qaeda activity.

And leave.

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If you didn’t see 60 Minutes

You need to read about the abduction, confinement and torture of a German citizen by the US. Basically, the US paid bounties, thousands of dollars, for any “suspicious” looking person. I guess this  Nordic looking guy looked suspicious to Pakistanis. Froomkin has the story.

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Juan Cole on Steven King and Barack Obama

One of Cole’s best ever.

Congressman Steven King of Iowa, who has decided to further disgrace Congress by seeking a fifth term there, delivered himself of the sort of bigotted and ignorant comments about Barack Obama that we have come to expect from the rightwing Republicans who have made such a mess of our economy and of the world…..

Judge for yourself on what grounds Vural Cengiz, head of the Turkish-American Businessmen’s Union thinks Obama would be “good for Turkey” (a NATO ally of the United States and part of King’s ‘world of Islam.’):

“Barack Obama can be the leader that the world is looking for. He can put a new list of criteria to judge what is good and bad for American people. He can stop the hate wars between Muslims and Christians by promoting peace and helping the communities in need. He can be the one to stop dropping the bombs and start sending the doctors, food and clothing as well as capital to create more jobs, to build more hospitals and schools all over the world. . .

Turks do not have high hopes about the future as long as American politics in Iraq continue as usual. Help in the war against the terrorist PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party) from United States in the last two months gave some hope to many Turks about the United States. However, Turks will not feel friendly to the US as long as they don’t feel that America’s Iraq politics is completely changed. And it looks like only Obama can change it. . .

Barack Obama is an African-American. He knows suffering, hunger and danger much better than Senator Clinton. He is not a rich man. He understands the issues of poor and middle-class families. He also understands poor and middle-class nations. Turkey stands right there. He is good for Turks, as well as the rest of the world…”

So from Cengiz’s point of view, it is Bush who is promoting terrorism (because his Iraqi-Kurdish allies coddle the Kurdish Workers Party terrorist group, which has been sneaking over to Turkey from Iraq and killing Turks), and it is Obama who might stop the bombings.

King again:

‘ He continued: “There are implications that have to do with who he is and the position that he’s taken. If he were strong on national defense and said ‘I’m going to go over there and we’re going to fight and we’re going to win, we’ll come home with a victory,’ that’s different. But that’s not what he said. They will be dancing in the streets if he’s elected president. That has a chilling aspect on how difficult it will be to ever win this Global War on Terror.” ‘

Oh, it seems pretty obvious that the “global war on terror” could be much more easily won if we stop being mired in a quagmire in Iraq, stop operating a machine for producing terrorists, stop spending trillions on Bush’s buddies in the military-industrial complex, and instead do some good police work in finishing off al-Qaeda.

You see, when King gets away from name-calling, racism, and guilt by association and actually tries to make a substantive point, the bankruptcy of his arguments becomes amply apparent.

People like King have run this country since 1994. I say they are dinosaurs. I say that November 2008 will be to them as the Chicxulub meteor was to the original dinosaurs. I say that the dark age of bigotry and fear-mongering and tyranny will pass.

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As sick as it gets: Cheney gets standing ovation for torture, at CPAC

The Conservative Political Action Conference; gathering place for the near-Fascist right; Dick Cheney is of course their leader.

From Sadly, No!, a description of these maniacs. I’m sorry, but I don’t recognize conservatism in this stuff. It’s just sickness.

Weirdly enough – or maybe not so much – his defense of torture gets a standing ovation, but his praising of our fighting men in uniform does not.

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Tsk, tsk, Sec. Gates; shouldn’t tell lies to Congress…..

Defense Secretary Gates told Congress:

The Taliban no longer occupy any territory in Afghanistan. They were thrown out of Musa Qala a few weeks ago before over Christmas. And the Taliban have had some real setbacks. Probably 50 of their leaders have been killed or captured over the past year, and we know that that’s had an impact on their capability and also on their morale.

hmmm; I’m sure you think you’re parsing words very cleverly, but to me, that’s just plain lying.  I mean, who does, say, Condi Rice, think we are we fighting?

Britain and the United States have issued a renewed appeal to Nato allies in Afghanistan to take on a greater share of the fighting against the Taliban.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in London for talks with Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, acknowledged that the alliance is facing a “real test”.

With the crucial Nato summit looming in Bucharest in April, both Ms Rice and Mr Brown emphasised the need for greater “burden-sharing” within the alliance.

Their comments reflected the intense frustration in both London and Washington at the unwillingness of countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain to deploy troops in southern Afghanistan where the fighting is fiercest.

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Yes, Bill O’Reilly, there really are 200,000 homeless vets

ThinkProgress:

On last night’s O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly challenged John Edwards’ claim that 200,000 veterans “will go to sleep under bridges and on grates” because they are homeless. O’Reilly said, “They may be out there, but there’s not many of them out there. Okay? … If you know where’s a veteran, sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it.” The Washington Post checked into Edwards’ claim and reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs does indeed report that about 195,000 veterans are “homeless on any given night.”

And more on the way…..

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