Pakistan’s Phantom Border.
"Pakistan is often called the most dangerous country on earth. Increasingly, its people would agree. Despite nearly $6 billion in U.S. military aid for the border region since 9/11, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and homegrown terrorist groups have eroded the border with Afghanistan, inflicting a steady toll of suicide bombings. Going where few Westerners dare—from Taliban strongholds to undercover-police headquarters—the author sees what’s tearing the country apart."
is a simple and impossibly cute manga illustrating the background and development of conflict in Central Asia. In which we learn that "Afuganisu-tan gets picked on a lot and has bad luck." Also, "Meriken is a superhero fanatic and has a tendency to think her version of justice is right for everyone." [more inside]
The military judge presiding over child solider Omar Khadr
's case has been replaced
. Khadr's lawyer claims the judge, Colonel Peter Brownback, was fired because he “threatened to suspend proceedings in the case of Omar Khadr if prosecutors continued to withhold key evidence from Omar's lawyers.” Defence officials claim Brownback was planning to retire.
Although Khadr was only 15 when he was captured, and is the only Western citizen still being held at Guantanamo Bay, Canada's Conservative government has refused to seek extradition or repatriation for him.
Ancient Buddhist Paintings
Were Made Of Oil
, Hundreds Of Years Before Technique Was 'Invented' In Europe. [Via MonkeyFilter.] [more inside]
... I served my time I can speak on it. Fuck this War.
American soldiers' latrine graffiti
in Kuwait and Afghanistan. A photo essay. [Note: most text and one drawing NSFW]
are an Iranian family of filmmakers, although Samira tends to get the most press. [more inside]
An ancient tradition
or despicable exploitation? As in ancient Greece and Shakespeare's theatre, boys dress as women
to entertain men. A hint of Afghan homosexuality was included in the movie The Kite Runner
. An Uzbekistan theatre group is presenting two plays
on this theme in Seattle this month. The homosexual element of Afghan culture has waxed and waned depending on who is invading their country at the time.
"My name is Captain Doug MacNair, I coordinate the media embedding program from a desk here in Ottawa... I have embedded more than 250 journalists in our program, and no embed has given me more personal satisfaction than yours... Thanks for being handy with a pencil and a piece of paper
. Thanks for writing
so well about the things that are hard to draw. Thanks for leaving your family to do an important job. I know how that feels and it’s never easy. Most of all Richard, thanks for risking your life while you do all those things." Q&A with Richard Johnson
The Pritzker Military Library
, a "public institution for the study of the citizen-soldier as an essential element for the preservation of democracy." Found while doing some after-film research on Charlie Wilson's War
, the site is a trove of largely non-partisan, often refreshingly candid military perspectives. Particular highlights are video and audio interviews with Jim Lovell
and Congressional Medal of Honor
The body of a Canadian soldier
was transported from CFB Trenton to Toronto tonight via Highway 401
, one of the busiest highways in North America. Along that 170km stretch of road, citizens gathered at the overpasses to wave flags and pay their respects as the motorcade passed by, as they have been doing since the summer. [Pics
of a previous such event, found on a web forum.] Following an online petition, the government officially recognized this stretch of highway as officially designated
the Highway of Heroes [pic]
. The families appreciate the practice
, but some people find the designation overly sentimental
The Losers Cover Gallery
showcases the bold design sense and unique art style of UK comics artist Jock
, who also produced much of the interior art for the VERTIGO
series. Losely based on a WWII comic of the same name it became a fast paced action caper with a political edge under writer Andy Diggle
, and the covers reflect both the themes
and the cinematic style
of the comic.
Stumbling into chaos: Afghanistan on the brink.
A report from the Senlis Council think tank claims that the Taliban has a permanent presence in more than half of Afghan territory
and the country is in serious danger of falling back into their hands
. The Canadian
The poppy is bitterly ironic this Remembrance Day.
Borrowed from John McRae's classic In Flanders' Fields
, the poppy has shifted from a symbolic meaning
to the central subject of
an ongoing conflict
. As international intervention in Afghanistan continues, opium production
has reached record-breaking heights, with this single country now producing 90% of the world's total supply (utterly dwarfing global licit supply). Meanwhile, the world suffers a global opiate shortage(pdf)
, Canada's heroin maintenance project is threatened by politics
, and the National Review of Medicine suggests that prescription opiates are far more dangerous than the "usual suspects"
land used for growing opium
is now larger than the combined total under coca cultivation in Latin America - Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. No other country has produced narcotics on such a deadly scale since China in the 19 th century
. Opium in Afghanistan: Eradicate or subsidize
? [more inside]
The man who knew too much.
"He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court."
The Long War Journal.
Regardless of your politics, the aggregation of info is useful, and the chief blogger doesn't seem to have been mentioned on MeFi before.
The killing of Jamie Dean.
"Police in rural Maryland staged a military stakeout and shot a troubled Army vet. As his family plans to sue, they are asking how a soldier being treated for PTSD could be shipped to Iraq."
From the frontline, Afghanistan. Vaughan Smith
is spending time in the thick of it
with his old regiment, the Grenadier Guards, on their tour of Helmand (he also looks in on other British Army units and the Afghan National Army they are mentoring
). An old friend in Kabul is pessimistic
about keeping the Taliban at bay permanently, but troops at a forward operating base are business-like or even cheerful
despite regular contact with Taliban fighters.
the former lead singer with The Stone Roses
has a new single out. Illegal Attacks is an anti-war song featuring Sinead O'Connor
urging the US and UK governments to "bring the soldiers back home"
. The striking thing about the song, to my mind, is its scarcity value.
The War in Vietnam brought us anti-war songs by Glen Campbell (Galveston
); Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Ohio
); Edwin Star (War!
); Donovan (The Universal Soldier
); Steppenwolf (Draft Resister
); Billy Joel (Goodnight Saigon
); Bruce Springstien (Born in the USA
); Jimmy Cliff (Vietnam
) Nina Simone (Backlash Blues
) and many
, many more
. Why have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are as deeply unpopular, not generated a similar body of work?
The Ongoing Hunt for Osama bin Laden
is a comprehensive Newsweek
update on the search for Osama. Psychics can't find him. Native American trackers can't find him.
As the Daily Show noted
in 2004, the dead
terrorist mastermind is "a really good hider."
Three shots to the forehead from an M-16 from 10 yards away.
-- New documents surface from the investigation into Pat Tillman's death.
Formerly 23, now 22 Korean Christian missionaries have been taken hostage
in Afghanistan. The group's leader and pastor was killed
on his 42nd birthday. Hostages have been taken before in Afghanistan, but a video on YouTube, perhaps connected with the missionaries, has been creating a stir. Here
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
, and Aaron Sorkin
will be leaving television production for a while. His current project is Charlie Wilson's War
, a movie starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, based on the late George Crile's excellent
of the same name. The movie
"party animal" Congressman Charles "Good Time Charlie" Wilson's
(D, TX) rise from a scandal (he was caught in "a hot tub tryst with two cocaine-sniffing showgirls in Las Vegas"
,) to his role in the 1980's covertly funding Afghanistan guerrillas so they could expand their war with the Soviet Union
. Wilson's actions would eventually help collapse the Afghan PDPA government
, a power vacuum which would be filled by the Taliban. Who would have thought ending the Cold War
would be so easy?
War vs. Democracy: Untold Stories from the Lynch / Tillman Hearing
-- ...U.S. soldiers whose injuries or deaths remain mired in secrecy. Pat Tillman's brother and fellow Army Ranger Kevin Tillman advocated strongly for other families still waiting for answers. ... "The family was told, it was -- quote -- 'an ambush by insurgents.' Two years later, they found out that those -- quote -- 'insurgents' happened to be the same Iraqi troops that he was training. Before his death, he told his chain of command that these same troops that he was training were trying to kill him and his team. He was told to keep his mouth shut." ...
Thorough and eye-opening examination of the many ways the military spun, lied, withheld information on soldier deaths and injuries for propaganda purposes (and even delayed action until cameras were present in the Jessica Lynch
The Spy of the Heart
- The story of an American's exploration of Islamic spirituality within the turmoil of Afghanistan. Full book (PDF)
available free onsite.
The Iraq Effect: The War in Iraq and its Impact on the War on Terrorism.
"The war has inspired a wave of terrorism
around the world. Excluding Iraq
, the number of jihadist attacks has jumped 35 percent in the past four years. A Mother Jones
exclusive study by Peter Bergen
and Paul Cruickshank
Rugs of War
:: "The traditional knotted rugs made by the semi-nomadic Baluch people of northern Afghanistan are famous for their distinctive designs, their rich yet subdued palette and the quality of their construction and materials, which feature traditional patterns and motifs.
The “war rug” is an evolution of these Baluch rugs through the inclusion of militaria and other references to the experience of war and conflict in the region. These significant changes became apparent almost immediately after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when rug-makers began incorporating complex imagery of war planes, helicopters, machine guns, maps and texts into their designs."
Guy Kawasaki interviews Aziza Mohmmand.
What’s the most inspiring story of entrepreneurship that you’ve heard in 2006? My answer does not involve two guys in a garage who sell their company to Google for $1.6 billion. No way...my answer is a woman who runs a soccer-ball factory in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Thieves, murderers, rapists; and how the Pushtuns' ancient tribal code is fighting for survival against radical Islam. via The Economist. More about Puhktuns and Puhktunistan and some history together with a brief explanation of Afghan ethnic groups. There is an interesting discussion of the main article on Sunni Forum.
"I" is for "Infidel"
"Associated Press and New Yorker
] writer Kathy Gannon
delivers an intimately observed history of Afghanistan from 1986 to the present. The longest-serving Western journalist in the region, Gannon overturns simplistic understanding of the country's politics in this eye-opening talk."
Canada troops battle 10-foot Afghan marijuana plants
- Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.
The age of horrorism. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Martin Amis analyses - and abhors - the rise of extreme Islamism. In a penetrating and wide-ranging essay he offers a trenchant critique of the grotesque creed and questions the West's faltering response to this eruption of evil.
Cheney Clarifies Iraq, Afghanistan on Meet the Press.
For the first time in three years, Cheney appears on Meet the Press. Transcript here
. "We’ve never been able to confirm any connection between Iraq and 9/11[,]" but Iraq "...was a state sponsor of terror" and "while they found no stockpiles...[the Duelfer report claimed that] Saddam did in fact have the capability and that as soon as the sanctions were ended—and they were badly eroded—he would be back in business again." "[T]his was the place where, probably, there was a greater prospect of a connection between terrorists on the one hand and a terrorist-sponsoring state and weapons of mass destruction than any place else." "...if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing..."
Legend has it the people of Nuristan
are descended from deserters who stayed behind after Greek Emperor Alexander the Great’s army passed through
the area more than 2,000 years ago, and for centuries they lived in splendid
isolation. It was in this region that the first images of the Buddha
were created. [more inside]
There aren't many places in the United States that can count poetry societies run by Afghan cab drivers. Washington has two. And they don't like each other
. A child bride
is very often just that: a child, even a preteen, her innocence betrothed to someone older
, even much, much older. Images by Stephanie Sinclair who's work on women's issues
in Afghanistan is always eye opening.
So how's the War on Drugs proceeding in Afghanistan? Barry McCaffrey, former drug czar, trumpets
, "Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year
.". Oops, actually that's the acreage of opium cultivation; production went down by only 10%
, due to increased yields. In any case, that's so last year
. Instead of the socially detrimental policy
of poppy eradication, wouldn't it be preferable
to allow licensing of poppies
for legitimate medical needs? The Afghan farmers agree
, but some think the idea is flawed
Canadian Police (led by the RCMP
) have arrested at least 17 people that were plotting to "launch attacks
against targets in Southern Ontario", apparently in large part by monitoring Internet co-ordination and communication
. This days after the CSIS
deputy director warned of "homegrown extremists" plotting "large scale attacks"