In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another. The Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment (2/7) was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2008. During eight months of combat, the unit killed hundreds of enemy fighters and suffered more casualties than any other Marine battalion that year. When its members returned, most left the military. Seven years later, at least 13 of the 1200 members of that battalion have killed themselves in the interim: two while on active duty, the rest after they left the military. That is nearly four times the rate for young male veterans as a whole and 14 times that for all Americans. (This story discusses self-harm, suicide and suicidal ideation. Some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
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."
A disturbing chess set uses the US war in the Middle East as inspiration for its pieces. This is only one modern take of many variations of sets which play off of religious/cultural conflict. to The game itself generally has had a turbulent relationship with religion. In the 13th Century, Pope Innocent III excused post-chess homicide as an involuntary act. Some modern Muslims don't approve of chess, despite Islam having probably introduced it to Europe. Judaism also has a long, if disputed engagement with the game, including enduring anti-semitic attacks about "Jewish" gameplay. The Taliban banned chess in Afghanistan, and the game has returned after their fall (though it now sounds like the Afghan women's team has been withdrawn).
Finally, finally, finally!! Someone in the mainstream media is finally asking some questions. Lots of people (here and abroad) have known about this book for some time. I think it deserves some checking into.
What's up with this Iraq stuff? No more formal way of putting it, sorry. Can anyone say what the hell is going on here, exactly, when bin Laden hasn't even be found and the Taliban is still putting up a fight? Is Bush, in saying Saddam will "find out" how the U.S. will respond to its refusal to allow inspections (again), just throwing a small bone to the hard right? Is the national press on too much of an adrenaline rush, or bored with Afganistan already? Or are the Dr. Strangelove wannabes talked about here really taking over?
Powell vs. The Pentagon. According to CNN, Colin Powell is "pushing for a limited military component," and wants to place more emphasis on financial, legal, political and diplomatic tools. But (as you might expect), the Pentagon wouldn't mind taking down Saddam Hussein while we're in the neighborhood. In other CNN news, the US appears sensitive to the need to support its decisions, and will be making the case for bin Laden's guilt to the Pakistanis. I find both of these items somewhat encouraging. How about you?
Was a US attack on the Taliban been in the works since July? According to this BBC article, the US had been planning a "military action", for the end of October, since mid July. The plan was to invade Afghanistan,oust the Taliban, and install a moderate government, possibly under former king Zahir Shah. Are the attacks last week simply going to legitimize this pre-existing plan? Or am I simply being too paranoid?