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“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”

Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by zarq on Mar 22, 2011 - 224 comments

Deal of the Century

How two American kids became big-time weapons traders - "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via; previously on arms contractors)
posted by kliuless on Mar 21, 2011 - 69 comments

NYTimes has a paywall; this is free.

[Basetrack] is an experimental media project, tracking the deployment of 1/8 – 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, throughout the duration of their deployment to southern Afghanistan. A small team of mobile media operators is embedded with the battalion, transmitting their reports and reflections from Helmand province as they travel across the battalion’s area of operations.
posted by nushustu on Mar 18, 2011 - 1 comment

It's A Racket

The U.S. governmental Commission on Wartime Contracting held hearings today regarding the corruption, mismanagement, massive financial waste and lack of oversight among private defense contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream on Feb 28, 2011 - 47 comments

The Exact Opposite of Countercultural

The Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Effexor, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, Elavil, Trazodone War New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior writes on prescription drug (ab)use among soldiers and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Feb 15, 2011 - 50 comments

The Hidden Victims

Rafaela Persson photographed female drug addicts and their children in Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by gman on Jan 18, 2011 - 9 comments

Gorgon Stare

With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'we can see everything.' "In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools. This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town."
posted by homunculus on Jan 5, 2011 - 85 comments

Women in War: Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan

Since the spring of 2010, all-volunteer units called Female Engagement Teams have been doing what male soldiers can't: speak with women and children in rural Afghani communities, both to gain information and to foster trust. These soldiers may carry M4 rifles, but their toolkit includes sidewalk chalk and jump ropes, too. The FETs, trained for this specific mission grew out of more ad hoc programs like the Lioness program for traffic checkpoints in Iraq. "The FET mission to me is so critical that if I had to exchange blood for it, I would," said Sgt. 1st Class Sawyer Alberi, an FET team leader for the National Guard. "The FET mission is nested very closely in the COIN mission, and unless you do it, you're not doing the whole COIN mission." First Lieutenant Quincy Washa, platoon commander for the Female Engagement Team with Regimental Combat Team 1, describes the teams' role. Despite the apparent importance of the FETs' work, the program is still an experiment; it is unclear whether it will continue after the current teams' deployment.
posted by ocherdraco on Jan 3, 2011 - 21 comments

Halfway around the world tonight / In a strange and foreign land / A soldier packs his memories / As he leaves Afghanistan --Arlo Guthrie

...if all these neocons who worship the Ancient Greeks, like Victor Davis Hanson, really want to know what their precious Greeks were like, those boy-fucking, throat-slitting, 400-verse war-song reciting founders of our glorious civilization and all that, they should go live in a Pashtun village.... Well, the Pashtun are sensible people too. They don’t have much to lose, and they’re not that scared of dying.... They’ve got nothing coming from the whole Thomas Friedman world, and they’d be fools to think they do.
from The War Nerd: Market Lessons from the Pashtun [more inside]
posted by orthogonality on Dec 31, 2010 - 46 comments

Drone warfare against Pakistan

It may take years, but some researcher will travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas and produce a definitive study on what it’s been like to live amidst an aerial bombardment from American pilotless aircraft. When that account inevitably comes out, it’s likely to find that 2010 — and especially the final quarter of 2010 — marked a turning point in how civilians coped with a drone war that turned relentless. (previously: 1,2)
posted by Joe Beese on Dec 17, 2010 - 151 comments

Restrepo

Restrepo is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, "Restrepo," named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you. (previously) [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Dec 14, 2010 - 41 comments

Hamid Karzai had heard enough

"If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban," [Hamid Karzai] fumed.
posted by klue on Dec 13, 2010 - 48 comments

Grammar rodeo at the Sheraton Hotel in Afghanistan

"Hann sells his Afghanistan tours as a chance to see the country's rugged outback while sleeping on dirty teahouse floors and tackling the country's roads in minibuses that buck like mechanical bulls... Obviously, Hann's tours attract adventurous travelers, but they're not adrenaline freaks or war junkies. Most are past middle age, unmarried, fairly mild-mannered, and childless," Damon Tabor on tourism in Afghanistan.
posted by geoff. on Dec 13, 2010 - 18 comments

They always did tend towards having the snappiest uniforms

American military planners are fascinated with German/Prussian military history. Busts of Von Clauswitz adorn American military academies where On War is taught, often with the misperception that Von Clauswitz viewed war as a controllable science. Shock & Awe is just the idea of Blitzkrieg with better weapons. Endless exhortations about unit cohesion (a complex, multi-layered idea with no military definition that is nonetheless used to keep gay soldiers from openly serving) comes from admiration for the Wehrmacht, their discipline and courage on the battlefield. So too the idea of a military culture separate and more honorable than the civilians they protect, advancing the professional warrior model at the expense of the citizen-soldier model. But to quote author military/adventure author Tom Clancy, “Why do people have a fixation with the German military when they haven’t won a war since 1871?Previously
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Dec 2, 2010 - 128 comments

Welcome Home, Soldier

"Regardless of political stance, no one can deny the joy felt upon seeing your loved ones return home safely -- WelcomeHomeBlog.com is a site celebrating that amazing feeling. Visit daily for heartwarming stories, videos and pictures of members of our courageous armed forces returning home to their families and friends..."
posted by zizzle on Dec 1, 2010 - 5 comments

Is He For Real?

Is it wise to negotiate with the Taliban? Probably not without first checking credentials. Apparently the "Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour," very senior commander in the Taliban movement, who has been engaged in talks to end the Afghanistan war, is no such person. Whoever he was, and whoever sent him, he also walked away with "a lot of money." (SLNYT)
posted by bearwife on Nov 23, 2010 - 56 comments

Tanks in Afghanistan

The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war... Although the officer acknowledged that the use of tanks this many years into the war could be seen as a sign of desperation by some Afghans and Americans, he said they will provide the Marines with an important new tool in missions to flush out pockets of insurgent fighters. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Nov 19, 2010 - 92 comments

You would like us to tighten our belts. Instead, tighten your belts--or leave.

The Soviet Collapse "The document which effectively concluded the history of the Soviet Union was a letter from the Vneshekonombank in November 1991 to the Soviet leadership, informing them that the Soviet state had not a cent in its coffers."
posted by bitmage on Nov 19, 2010 - 28 comments

MR PINK, MR WHITE AND BOTTOM

'This is the very odd story of the events that led to a horrific mass killing of Afghan civilians by coalition forces in August 2008.' 'It is the story of the Americans and the British striding into the fairy wood only to find themselves spun around so much by the Afghans that they do not know who is the enemy and who is a friend any longer. And they come out with a donkey's head. But on the way they kill 90 innocent people.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Nov 18, 2010 - 29 comments

Skateistan, the film

Skateistan - To Live and Skate in Kabul (9:16) is a short documentary based on the work of the NGO Skateistan (previously), who provide lessons in skateboarding, environmental health, information technology, art and language to hundreds of boys and girls in Kabul, Afghanistan. (via) [more inside]
posted by Ufez Jones on Nov 12, 2010 - 5 comments

A Year At War

A Year at War: One Battalion's Wrenching Deployment to Afghanistan: "Some 30,000 American soldiers are taking part in the Afghanistan surge. Here are the stories of the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division" out of Fort Drum, NY., based in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. Over the next year, The New York Times will follow their journey, chronicling the battalion’s part in the surge in northern Afghanistan and the impact of war on individual soldiers and their families back home. (First link is an interactive feature containing images and autoplaying video, and requires flash. Second link is a standard-style article.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 21, 2010 - 28 comments

NATO: bin Laden in Pakistan

Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said. ... al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services... The official would not discuss how the coalition has come to know any of this information, but he has access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Oct 18, 2010 - 107 comments

ADF members charged with manslaughter

On 12 February 2009, soldiers from the ADF 1st Commando regiment crept through the dark near the village of Surkh Morghab, in southern Afghanistan. What happened next will be closely scrutinised, however grenades were used and five children were killed. [more inside]
posted by wilful on Oct 11, 2010 - 167 comments

End this war Mr. Obama!!!

Last Wednesday, October 6, a panel of speakers from a variety of political positions met antiwar activists at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco to discuss how to build a consensus to end the war in Afghanistan. The speakers included Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, Antiwar.com’s Angela Keaton, Republican congressional candidate John Dennis, labor leader Michael Eisenscher, and radio talk show host Karel. The moderator was Jeff Johnson of PeacePundit.com, and included remarks by Unitarian Church leaders Dolores Perez Priem, Sandra Schwartz, Jeremiah Halliday, and Louis Vitale, and Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute. (via) Daniel Ellsberg - part I - part II - part III [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Oct 10, 2010 - 12 comments

They don't know what we do.

"For a lot of soldiers, there are two kinds of people: those who serve, and those who expect to be served, and those who serve are pretty noble.'' The U.S. Army now begins its 10th continuous year in combat, the first time in its history the United States has excused the vast majority of its citizens from service and engaged in a major, decade-long conflict instead with an Army manned entirely by professional warriors.
posted by bardophile on Oct 3, 2010 - 218 comments

Afghan boys are prized, so girls live the part.

Facing social pressures, families disguise girls as boys in Afghanistan. (slnyt)
posted by killdevil on Sep 21, 2010 - 15 comments

An open letter to Osama bin Laden

This is an open letter written by Noman Benotman, a former commander in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a former associate of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In al Qaeda strategy meetings in Kandahar in 2000, Benotman warned the al-Qaeda leadership of ‘total failure' to realise their aims and called on bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to abandon violence. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, he distanced himself from al-Qaeda and later resigned from his own jihadist organisation. He has more recently been instrumental in negotiations with Libya's government to free former LIFG leaders, and in persuading these leaders to formally renounce terrorism. He also recently joined the London-based Quilliam Foundation as a Senior Analyst.
posted by bardophile on Sep 13, 2010 - 22 comments

No Book Burning Here. Just Pulping.

"In most cases, when a book that deals with potentially classified military information is due to be published, one of the United States's many government divisions inspect it, redact sensitive parts, and either let publication continue or stop it entirely. But a clash in opinion between the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency may lead to the DIA buying up all 10,000 copies of [a] new memoir's first printing -- and promptly pulping the books." "The publication of Operation Dark Heart, by Anthony A. Shaffer, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, has divided military security reviewers and highlighted the uncertainty about what information poses a genuine threat to security."* [more inside]
posted by ericb on Sep 10, 2010 - 43 comments

US soldiers "killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies"

The Guardian reports allegations that a group of US soldiers in Afghanistan killed civilians for sport and collected their fingers as trophies. [more inside]
posted by Zarkonnen on Sep 9, 2010 - 87 comments

A Taste of Home in Foil Packets and Powder

Troops from nearly 50 lands dine on combat meals in Afghanistan — each reminding them of where they’d rather be. More about military rations from around the world. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Sep 7, 2010 - 42 comments

Medal of Honor video game sales banned by US military

EA's new Medal of Honor video game allows players to take the role of Taliban insurgents killing American troops. In response, the US military has banned sales of the game on all military bases, including in privately run businesses (such as GameStop) present on bases. Military members (who game) don't seem too happy about the decision here. (More military member comments, some pro, some against, can be found here.) You can watch someone playing as a Taliban insurgent here. (Warning: MoH gameplay is rated 'M' for mature.)
posted by GnomeChompsky on Sep 4, 2010 - 90 comments

Sticks and stones ...

The War Within [more inside]
posted by Megami on Sep 4, 2010 - 4 comments

Luke Powell's photographs of Afghanistan

Photographer Luke Powell captures the beauty and dignity of Afghanistan from the cities in the news to remote villages reachable only on horseback. He photographed the country extensively throughout the 1970s as a tourist and again from 2000 – 2003 in the employ of the United Nations to document minefields, mine victims, and demining efforts. Glimpses: Boys in the Bazaar l Koochie Tents (nomadic pastoralists). [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 27, 2010 - 7 comments

The 72-Hour Expert

"If you spend 72 hours in a place you’ve never been, talking to people whose language you don’t speak about social, political, and economic complexities you don’t understand, and you come back as the world’s biggest know-it-all, you’re a reporter." - PJ O'Rourke visits Kabul
posted by TheOtherGuy on Aug 24, 2010 - 55 comments

Dirty tricks, but by whom?

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is wanted by the Swedish police, for a rape charge, according to the BBC. WikiLeaks has, of course, been highly controversial, since it published 91,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by ijsbrand on Aug 21, 2010 - 528 comments

Omar Khadr

The Memory Hole: The real tragedy of the Omar Khadr trial.
posted by homunculus on Aug 13, 2010 - 35 comments

the other drug war, in that other place

While most of the attention in the war on drugs has been focused on Mexico of late, the opium trade in Afghanistan is still alive. Though perhaps not as well this year, as Tajikistan reports far less opium crossing the border, attributed to more use within Afghanistan as well as an unexplained poppy blight. With yields dropping and prices rising, US-backed efforts to encourage farmers to grow alternate crops (previously) may be derailed, despite a trade agreement with Pakistan which promises to open the country's borders to more trade in legitimate consumer goods with India. Meanwhile, people are looking into ways to turn the poppy fields into biofuels.
posted by jackflaps on Aug 11, 2010 - 21 comments

SURROUNDED

Wikileaks Attack Data by Year and Type Projected on Afghanistan Regional Map [more inside]
posted by Hammond Rye on Aug 11, 2010 - 6 comments

"Dr Karen explores healthcare in afghanistan"

Dr. Karen Woo, one of the 10 medical aid workers slain in Afghanistan, kept a blog of her experiences. I've spent the last two days doing Afghan medicals - en masse I have been terrifying Afghan men with my femaleness and daring use of the stethoscope. [more inside]
posted by ThePinkSuperhero on Aug 10, 2010 - 45 comments

Trying to "out-terrorize the terrorists"

Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story. [more inside]
posted by jjoye on Aug 3, 2010 - 30 comments

"She wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan."

"I showed it to my two young sons, 9 and 12, who both immediately felt sorry for Aisha and asked why anyone would have done such harm to her." [WARNING: Graphic image.] Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time magazine, on why he chose to run on the magazine's cover a photo of a young woman whose nose and ears had been cut off at the insistence of the Taliban. It accompanies the article "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban."
posted by ocherdraco on Jul 29, 2010 - 142 comments

Classified war docs published

The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel have been given access to approximately 92,000 classified Afghanistan war documents provided to WikiLeaks.
posted by lackutrol on Jul 25, 2010 - 186 comments

Eighteen Terabytes of Afghanistan

"I have just got my hands on something wonderful and precious. It is five computer drives containing the unedited rushes of everything shot by the BBC in Afghanistan over the last thirty years." [more inside]
posted by suedehead on Jul 9, 2010 - 30 comments

Women and Suicide by Self-Immolation in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: When Women Set Themselves On Fire [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 9, 2010 - 29 comments

Michael Steele finished eating own feet, now moving up to legs and torso

Was Obama's decision to invade Afghanistan a mistake? Michael Steele, chair of the RNC seems to think so. Republicans and Democrats alike are irked and confused by his comments.
posted by justkevin on Jul 3, 2010 - 128 comments

Moral crimes

"Sixteen-year-old Sabera, with a pretty yellow head scarf, frets that she is missing school. 'I was about to get engaged, and the boy came to ask me himself, before sending his parents. A lady in our neighbourhood saw us, and called the police,' she explains. She was sentenced to three years but, in an act of mercy, it was shortened to 18 months . . ." The BBC reports from an Afghan women's prison. [more inside]
posted by Jaltcoh on Jun 30, 2010 - 57 comments

History repeats

The Karzai government is crumbling before our eyes, and if we delude ourselves that this is not the case, we could yet face a replay of 1842. Why the Taliban is winning in Afghanistan - William Dalrymple. (1)
A long in- depth article with historical overtones, which leads to the question: Why Are We in Afghanistan? (2006);(2008); (2010)
posted by adamvasco on Jun 29, 2010 - 86 comments

'BP And The Axis Of Evil'

'BP And The Axis of Evil': Adam Curtis provides some historic information on the Anglo-Perisan Oil Company, later the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, later BP. [more inside]
posted by robself on Jun 23, 2010 - 15 comments

Loose lips sink ships, and careers, too

General Stanley McChrystal is in hot water over a Rolling Stone article (pdf) where he and his staff are quoted criticizing Obama, Biden, and senior administration officials. (Previously on McChrystal's appointment.)
posted by Forktine on Jun 22, 2010 - 353 comments

World's richest nation: would you believe Afghanistan?

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan.

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
posted by scalefree on Jun 13, 2010 - 156 comments

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