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From Above

How the US Stumbled into the Drone Era [WSJ] As ubiquitous as Predators, Reapers, Global Hawks and their ilk may now seem, the U.S. actually stumbled into the drone era. Washington got into the business of using drones for counterterrorism well before 9/11—not out of any steely strategic design or master plan but out of bureaucratic frustration, bickering and a series of only half-intentional decisions.
posted by modernnomad on Jul 29, 2014 - 6 comments

"Who knows whether we'll be the next victims", they say.

"A girl has to fight for her rights from the day she's born until the day she dies", explains Nargis. She and her friends bravely spread the message of equality in a country where the hanging and beheading of women remains commonplace. Facing conservative jibes for walking out without head scarves or for driving a car, these girls must also deal with the bigger worry of random terrorist attacks: "Who knows whether we'll be the next victims", they say.
posted by katrielalex on Jul 20, 2014 - 10 comments

" . . . but women hold the power of story."

Women make up roughly half of the 42 million Pashtun people in the borderland. The kind of hardship they know is rare. Some are bought and sold, others killed for perceived slights against family honor. But this doesn’t render them passive. Most of the Pashtun women I know possess a rebellious and caustic humor beneath their cerulean burkas, which have become symbols of submission. This finds expression in an ancient form of folk poetry called landay. Two lines and 22 syllables long, they can be rather startling to the uninitiated. War, drones, sex, a husband’s manhood—these poems are short and dangerous, like the poisonous snake for which they’re named.
posted by jason's_planet on Jul 1, 2014 - 12 comments

War fatigue

The young men and women enlisting in the armed forces now were in pre-school on 9/11. "As a nation we have internalized our longest military conflict; it has suffused the social, political, and cultural body. The war is not something the nation is doing; it's simply something that is." Vox on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from Jessica Lynch to Bowe Bergdahl. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 8, 2014 - 91 comments

No man left behind

Bowe Bergdahl, American Soldier, Freed by Taliban in Prisoner Trade (NYT) [more inside]
posted by ThePinkSuperhero on May 31, 2014 - 128 comments

" V.A. has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity"

This morning, the Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation, following the release of an independent review detailing corruption in the reporting of wait times and scheduling practices, along with alleged patient deaths in the Phoenix Health Care system. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 30, 2014 - 115 comments

Not Forgotten

As discussed previously on the blue, Danny Chen died in Afghanistan not from fighting the Taliban or al Qaeda, but from suicide after prolonged abuse by his comrades. A street in Manhattan now bears his name.
posted by scaryblackdeath on May 17, 2014 - 12 comments

40 Maps of the Middle East

Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on May 6, 2014 - 8 comments

Identity Dominance: The U.S. Military’s Biometric War in Afghanistan

As part of its effort to combat insurgent forces interspersed within an indigenous population, the use of biometrics has become a central component of the U.S. war effort. Having expanded heavily since its introduction during the war in Iraq, biometric identification and tracking of individuals has become a core mission in Afghanistan with initiatives sponsored by the U.S. and Afghan governments seeking to obtain the biometric identifiers of nearly everyone in the country. [more inside]
posted by gorbweaver on Apr 23, 2014 - 4 comments

Let us now praise and mourn the wonderful photographer Anja Niedringhaus

"When you say ‘war photographer’ the first image that comes to mind is someone crazy for the bang bang. Not Anja. She was an artist. She used her sensitivity and sense of understanding to access the human side of war." In Memoriam: Anja Niedringhaus (1965—2014). Her photographs are powerful and beautiful.
posted by mareli on Apr 4, 2014 - 24 comments

"I am honor-bound to protect you, brother."

The Interpreters We Left Behind. "As our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we're abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we'd let them in."
posted by homunculus on Mar 27, 2014 - 26 comments

Rugs of War

Afghan war rugs Traditional rug-making techniques meet contemporary political imagery. See also the 'Rugs of War' project.
posted by infini on Mar 27, 2014 - 13 comments

Girls Skating in Afghanistan

Girls Skating in Afghanistan (h/t darksilenceinsuburbia)
posted by benito.strauss on Nov 22, 2013 - 12 comments

"I will not post any casualty reports for 24 hours as I am celebrating."

The Far Post is a journalism series by Roads and Kingdoms and Sports Illustrated on global soccer culture that will run every other week until the start of "the largest theater that has ever existed in human history," the World Cup. So far there are five articles: Brazil 2014 Starts Now by Laurent Dubois gives an overview of the history of the World Cup and what it means now. Messi in Kolkata by Kanishk Tharoor is about a visit by the Argentine national team to Kolkata and the state of the game in India. Afghanistan United By May Jeong is the story of the incredible triumph of the Afghan national team at the 2013 South Asian Championship. Soccer and the Street in Istanbul by Izzy Finkel reports on the links between soccer and politics in Turkey. The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy by Patrick Kingsley is the account of how hardcore soccerfans in Egypt, at the center of the 2011 revolution, have fared in the aftermath.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 21, 2013 - 14 comments

Those years have accomplished very little.

The A-Team Killings
"Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?"
posted by andoatnp on Nov 6, 2013 - 16 comments

"What does the drone’s camera capture, and what does it occlude?"

The Sound of Terror: Phenomenology of a Drone Strike
Opponents of drone strikes say they violate international law and have caused unacknowledged civilian deaths. Proponents insist they actually save the lives of both U.S. soldiers, who would otherwise be deployed in dangerous ground operations, and of civilians, because of the drone’s capacity to survey and strike more precisely than combat. If the alternative is a prolonged and messy ground operation, the advantage of drone strikes in terms of casualties is indisputable, and it is not my intention to dispute it here. But the terms of this debate give a one-sided view of both the larger financial and political costs of drones, as well as the less than lethal but nonetheless chronic and intense harm continuous strikes wage on communities.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 19, 2013 - 79 comments

Closure

During the communist coup and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1978-1979, thousands of Afghan people disappeared. It was always suspected that most of these people had been murdered, but for many victims this couldn't be proved, which left their family in uncertainty for decades. A war crimes investigation by the International Crimes Unit of the Dutch police however turned up evidence that will end some of this uncertainty. This evidence, in the form of transport orders and death lists for some 5,000 victims has now been put online by the Dutch ministry of justice.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 18, 2013 - 9 comments

Raucous Scene Grips Afghan Capital

Soccer Euphoria The Olympic Stadium in Kabul has not seen this big a crowd since the Taliban used the place for public executions. No coercion was needed on Thursday to bring tens of thousands of delirious fans here to greet their national soccer team on its return from winning its first international championship. The underdog team stunned India, the defending South Asian champions, in a 2-0 victory in Katmandu, Nepal.
posted by Golden Eternity on Sep 12, 2013 - 12 comments

Combat Farming

"Through my business, I worked in Afghanistan on agriculture projects designed to assist with stabilization efforts in the region. I want to share with you some of the lessons learned along with some photos. I hope these are beneficial to those of you looking into or already working on low tech, sustainable farming/gardening projects here in the states." A first-person account of working with the locals to reconnect them with the land. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes on Aug 9, 2013 - 12 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

The Banality of Evil: NSA Recruitment Edition

Madiha Tahir, a journalist and PhD candidate, presents a transcript of her interaction with NSA staff who came to recruit at the summer language program where she is studying. "I had intended to go simply to hear how the NSA is recruiting at a moment when it’s facing severe challenges," says Tahir. Recruiters apparently discussed their "fun" after work, doing karaoke, having costume parties, and getting drunk. One of their slides asked the language students at the event "Are you good at manipulating people?" In the Q&A, Tahir and other students held their feet to the fire over surveillance of Germany and other EU countries.
posted by gusandrews on Jul 3, 2013 - 179 comments

“I’m dismantling the Death Star to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”

The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 1, 2013 - 14 comments

India vs Pakistan in Afghanistan

A Deadly Triangle - the proxy war in Afghanistan
posted by Gyan on Jun 26, 2013 - 8 comments

Landays: Poetry of Afghan Women

You sold me to an old man, father. May God destroy your home, I was your daughter.
posted by DarlingBri on Jun 3, 2013 - 16 comments

Other than Honorable

"A Gazette investigation shows an increasing number of soldiers, including wounded combat veterans, are being kicked out of the service for misconduct, often with no benefits, as the Army downsizes after a decade of war."
"Disposable: Surge in discharges includes wounded soldiers"
"Left Behind: No break for the wounded"
"Locked Away: Army struggles with wounded soldiers"
posted by andoatnp on Jun 2, 2013 - 26 comments

This is victory. This is what winning looks like.

"This is What Winning Looks Like is a disturbing new documentary about the ineptitude, drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and corruption of the Afghan security forces as well as the reduced role of US Marines due to the troop withdrawal." [via vice] [more inside]
posted by Drexen on May 17, 2013 - 45 comments

"Never, ever let anybody use your gender as an excuse."

"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 25, 2013 - 49 comments

NATO airstrikes kill 12 children in Kunar, Afghanistan

On April 7, an airstrike on a Taliban commander killed him and a total of 16 civilians, 12 of them children. Hamid Karzai condemns the attack and says that the CIA is carelessly planning these airstrikes that go awry far too often. Kunar district was the site of another airstrike that killed civilians in February. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 22, 2013 - 186 comments

Meet Afghan military's first female helicopter pilot

"Malalai has seen more of Afghanistan than many of the white-bearded men who run this country. She's been travelling in the cockpit of military helicopters since she was two months old; her mother is an Afghan army pilot." This is a beautifully illustrated long read.
posted by puffl on Feb 14, 2013 - 8 comments

Polio Eradication

How the CIA Is Hurting the Fight Against Polio.
posted by homunculus on Feb 11, 2013 - 63 comments

Afghanistan in the 1960s

Remembering Afghanistan in the 1960s
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on Feb 2, 2013 - 26 comments

"Untamed Humans" on the Roof of the World

"Moving is what nomads do. For the Kyrgyz of Afghanistan, it’s from two to four times a year, depending on the weather and the availability of grass for the animals. They call their homeland Bam-e Dunya, which means “roof of the world.” This might sound poetic and beautiful—it is undeniably beautiful—but it’s also an environment at the very cusp of human survivability. Their land consists of two long, glacier-carved valleys, called pamirs, stashed deep within the great mountains of Central Asia. Much of it is above 14,000 feet. The wind is furious; crops are impossible to grow. The temperature can drop below freezing 340 days a year. Many Kyrgyz have never seen a tree." Welcome to life at the upper altitudes of the Wakhan Corridor, above the tree line and on the roof of the world. [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee on Jan 21, 2013 - 28 comments

Football in Afghanistan

"We're just trying to lead normal lives, doing what we want to do. Why shouldn't we?" The members [of Afghanistan women's national team], who range in age from 16 to 24, are up against widespread resentment from their relatives* and neighbors, and threats from men who disapprove of women playing sports. They managed to participate in an inclusive tournament in Berlin and they registered their first official win as they defeated Pakistan national women's team 4-0 and reached the semi-finals of the 2nd SAFF women's championship in 2012 improving on their past performance (rough 2010 SAFF footage). They're able to practice just three times a week for 90 minutes, occasionally at the stadium (2) or in its gym, but more often at a helicopter landing pad on a base for NATO troops, where practices are interrupted by takeoffs and landings. Players have some outside support from hummel, the sponsor of the women's and the men's team, and have had football clinics in Stuttgart and with Olympic U.S. player Lorrie Fair in Kabul. [more inside]
posted by ersatz on Jan 19, 2013 - 8 comments

Did U.S. General David Petraeus grant friends access to top secret files?

Did U.S. General David Petraeus grant friends access to top secret files?
"Petraeus was forced out of the CIA in part because his mistress read sensitive documents. Now it is alleged he granted two friends astonishing access to top secret files as he ran the Afghan surge. In a painstaking investigation, Rajiv Chandrasekaran reveals how the volunteers won big donations from defence firms – and how they pushed the army towards a far more aggressive strategy."

posted by ericb on Dec 19, 2012 - 41 comments

"Did I just kill a kid?"

The Woes of an American Drone Operator
posted by empath on Dec 17, 2012 - 71 comments

Niza Yanay - the ideology of hatred: the psychic power of discourse

"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 15, 2012 - 13 comments

We Are Not the Dead

Portraits of Soldiers Before, During, and After War "Photographer Lalage Snow, who is currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, embarked on an 8-month-long project titled We Are The Not Dead featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan."
posted by sweetkid on Nov 12, 2012 - 25 comments

A beauty in South Asia

Band-e-Amir is Afghanistan's first national park, struggling to keep tourists visiting its beautiful mountains and lakes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Oct 24, 2012 - 28 comments

Fairy tale endings only happen in fairy tales.

Saving Aesha She came to America after the Taliban hacked off her nose and ears, a symbol of the oppression of women in Afghanistan. Since then, she's been passed around by well-meaning strangers, showcased like a star and shielded like a fragile child. The fairy-tale ending everyone hoped for has remained elusive.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies on Oct 13, 2012 - 12 comments

Wear Kevlar

Camp Bastion, a sprawling, well-fortified British-run base in the desert in southern Afghanistan, is the size of the UK town of Reading and home to almost 30,000 people. Bastion - with its own water bottling plant, hospital, police force and even Pizza Hut - is widely regarded as a safe haven for troops. However, a Taliban attack breaching the perimeter and resulting in the death of two US Marines has shown it is not impregnable. What's it like inside Camp Bastion? Explore the graphical representation of the base ... to find out. [more inside]
posted by aqsakal on Sep 24, 2012 - 14 comments

" But if you do things, all that can happen is you succeed or fail.”

"On the morning of Saturday September 8th a suicide attack in Kabul claimed the lives of a number of young Afghans." Four of the six youth killed were part of the NGO Skateistan. Previously, the film "To Live and Skate in Kabul."
posted by Isadorady on Sep 23, 2012 - 13 comments

Mes Aynak

Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
posted by homunculus on Sep 22, 2012 - 14 comments

Far better or worse, with US veteran Taylor Morris

These photos are about Taylor, who lost most of his limbs in Afghanistan, and his girlfriend Danielle. It is a love story, told only in 22 pictures. Background story via Taylor's friend, photographer Tim Dodd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 22, 2012 - 24 comments

Don't wonder where the sisters are now.

From 1967-1968, Dr. Bill Podlich took a leave of absence from Arizona State University to join UNESCO, teaching in the Higher Teachers College of Kabul, Afghanistan. He took many photographs.
posted by ChuraChura on Sep 19, 2012 - 14 comments

There's still a war going on

August was one of the deadliest months in Afghanistan, for both civilians and soldiers. The death toll was increased by so-called 'green-on-blue' attacks by members of the Afghan National Army and police forces on ISAF and US forces. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 13, 2012 - 67 comments

"Captains Courageous"

'While they never met, they had some things in common. Both were Army captains, engaged in important work for the nation, their costly educations paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Ian Morrison, 26, returned to Fort Hood, Texas, last December after nine months flying 70 combat missions over Iraq. Dr. Michael McCaddon, 37, was an ob-gyn resident at Hawaii’s Tripler Army Medical Center. The pilot and the doctor shared one other thing: they found themselves in a darkening, soul-sucking funnel that has trapped some 2,500 military personnel since 9/11. Like them, each died, at his own hand, on March 21, nearly 4,000 miles apart.' [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 16, 2012 - 27 comments

Photography in Afghanistan

Alex Jansen is a lieutenant in the US Army currently deployed in Afghanistan. He is embedded as a liaison officer working with and training the Afghan National Army. He's been taking photos of his experiences and posting them on the Pentax forums, offering a different view of the life of soldiers in Afghanistan. Forum posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 [more inside]
posted by jontyjago on Jul 9, 2012 - 44 comments

How to kill a rational peasant

How to kill a rational peasant: America's dangerous love affair with counterinsurgency. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jun 17, 2012 - 66 comments

Duty Status: Whereabouts Unknown

America's Last Prisoner of War by Michael Hastings (single page) - In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment? [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Jun 7, 2012 - 28 comments

The Great Taliban Jailbreak

"It took years to lock them up. Hundreds of enemy fighters captured during some of the fiercest combat of the war. But then, one night last spring, as American troops surged into Taliban territory, all of those prisoners, all of that progress, disappeared. Prof. Luke Mogelson ventures down the rabbit hole to find them."
posted by vidur on May 30, 2012 - 30 comments

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