There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.
There is still a war on.
A BRITISH sniper killed five Taliban insurgents and a would-be suicide bomber in Afghanistan with one bullet, the British Ministry of Defence says.
The 20-year-old marksman, a lance corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit the trigger switch of the device from 930 metres away, causing the bomb to explode.
The blast killed the would-be bomber and five men around him, a Defence spokesman said.
The incident in December in Kakaran, southern Afghanistan, has been disclosed as Britain prepares to leave from the country by the end of the year.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Slack, commanding officer of 9/12 Royal Lancers, told The Daily Telegraph the unnamed shooter also prevented another major attack as a second suicide vest packed with explosives was found nearby.
“They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, ‘I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber’. The rest of them were killed in the blast.”
Until Malala Yousafzai’s story became well-known, I doubt many people considered what it means to be young and female and seeking an education in a conflict-ridden society that has a bias against the education of girls. Recently I read about a teacher from Afghanistan, Nahida, and I realised that in another part of the world a girl’s education is not a given. Nahida is a school principal for a girls’ school in Kabul. She has persevered through many difficulties in making sure the education of girls in Kabul matters. Her experiences also reveal that when a country is conflict-ridden for three decades, the people who suffer the most are girls and the women who teach them.
A more gendered narrative reveals that a girl’s education can still be sacrificed at the altar because of sexist ideas that reveal that women and girls do not matter. This is especially the case with the Taliban’s laws in Afghanistan. Nahida says that “when the Taliban came to power, it was their policy to close all the schools for females. For me, it was difficult to go to school to teach. When I went to my school, the principal of the school was a Mullah and he didn’t allow me to enter the school and asked me after that not to come to school. But for the boys, school was open. When I understood the policy of Taliban was not to allow girls and female teachers to go to school, I started a home school for girls because families and their parents asked me to teach their daughters”.
Let’s consider some statistics from Unesco’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report related to education in Afghanistan and the Arab states:
175 million young people in low and lower middle-income countries are unable to read a single sentence, of which 61% are female. In South and West Asia, two out of three young people who cannot read are young women.
Afghanistan has the highest level of gender disparity in primary education in the world with only 71 girls in primary school for every 100 boys. It is likely to remain very far from the target of gender parity in primary education by 2015.
No girls were in secondary school in 1999 in Afghanistan. By 2011, the female gross enrolment ratio rose to 34%, which meant there were only 55 girls in secondary school for every 100 boys.
While almost 80% of the richest boys in urban areas were completing primary school in 2011, the same was true for only 4% of the poorest girls living in rural areas.
In Iraq, not only has progress towards gender parity been slow, but poor, rural girls have not benefited. The lower secondary completion rate was 58% for rich urban boys and just 3% for poor rural girls in 2011. Safety remains an issue for girls’ schooling, particularly in areas of major instability and insecurity.
much more : A Case for Gender Parity in Education
An interesting article today in Gawker: We Just Lost Afghanistan Because We’re Not Earth’s Special Snowflake.
I know a lot of Americans really believe this. They really like to believe that America is special. But it isn’t, and this belief is why the U.S. keeps getting in trouble.
And it plays well with the electorate. Politicians win elections by declaring America’s exceptionality loudly and frequently.
However, hubris is inevitably followed by nemesis.
Disclaimer: I like America and Americans. It’s just that too many Americans believe in American exceptionalism. To those of us in other nations like myself it’s a bit frightening. Plus we really hate to see our American friends trying way too hard to prove they are special. It makes us sad when America gets itself into so much trouble because of its pride.
Today I learned there’s a skateboarding school in Afghanistan where 40% of its students are female.
In a part of the world where little girls are getting shot at for promoting women’s education, that’s a pretty impressive statistic. In a part of the world where little girls aren’t even allowed to ride a bicycle, that’s a ground-breaking statistic.
Officially, this makes Afghanistan the unlikeliest of title holders for the highest rate of female participation in skateboarding out of any country in the world.
While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.
The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down U.S.-Afghan terms.
“The Parties acknowledge that continued U.S. military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end,” the draft states.
The 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is a sweeping document, vague in places, highly specific in others, defining everything from the types of future missions U.S. troops would be allowed to conduct in Afghanistan, to the use of radios and the taxation of American soldiers and contractors.
The bilateral security agreement will be debated this week in Kabul by around 2,500 village elders, academics and officials in a traditional Loya Jirga. While the Loya Jirga is strictly consultative, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he won’t sign it without the Jirga’s approval.
The copy of the draft — the full text is available here — is dated July 25, 2013. As a working draft, it is particularly revealing because it shows the back and forth negotiations, as U.S. and Afghan officials added words and struck out paragraphs. The changes are marked by annotations still revealed in the text. The document is a work in progress. US officials say there have been more changes since July. The draft, however, does indicate the scope of this possible agreement with major implications for Washington, Kabul, U.S. troops and the continuation of America’s longest war.
Taken as a whole, the document describes a basic U.S.-Afghan exchange. Afghanistan would allow Washington to operate military bases to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda after the current mission ends in 2014. For that foothold in this volatile mountain region wedged between Pakistan and Iran, the United States would agree to sustain and equip Afghanistan’s large security force, which the government in Kabul currently cannot afford. The deal, according to the text, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015 and “shall remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond.” It could be terminated by either Washington or Kabul with two years advance written notice.
The document doesn’t specifically say how many U.S. and NATO troops would remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Afghan officials tell NBC News they hope it will be 10 to 15 thousand. U.S. officials tell NBC News the number is closer to seven to eight thousand, with an additional contribution from NATO. Factoring in troop rotations, home leave, and breaks between deployments, the service of tens of thousands of American troops would be required to maintain a force of seven to eight thousand for a decade or longer. The anticipated costs would likely run into the billions quickly.
Afghan officials tell NBC NEWS the agreement is critical to Afghanistan’s future stability. Without ongoing military assistance, training and funding, those officials say the government could collapse and Afghanistan would enter a civil war. If the agreement passes, the draft says Washington would commit to a long -term, indefinite military involvement in this land-locked Asian nation.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council did not comment on the draft version of the agreement, but said that “the President is still reviewing options from his national security team and has not made a decision about a possible U.S. presence after 2014.”
The agreement circulating this week is unlikely to be the last. It first must pass through the Loya Jirga, then go onto parliament for final approval. “We’re looking at 60-days or more” before the US and Afghanistan sign any agreement, defense officials said.
This is more info related to a Page Kragar posted yesterday regarding the Marine, Maj. Jason Brezler, who got in trouble for warning others about this creepy cop.
Afghan police chief Sarwar Jan was accused of sexually abusing teen boys on U.S. bases in Afghanistan when U.S. Marines pressed to have him removed from power in a violent district in 2010. Turns out that might only be the beginning of his crimes, though. According to new documents obtained by Foreign Policy, coalition forces also believe he extorted money from civilians, operated illegal security checkpoints and was working with the Taliban, selling the insurgent group weapons and police uniforms for cash.
The accusations are outlined in a witness statement submitted in support of Marine Maj. Jason Brezler, who faces an administrative hearing in which Marine Corps officials could toss him out of the service for warning fellow Marines about Sarwar Jan through an email on an unclassified network.
One month after Brezler sent that message to Afghanistan, Sarwar Jan’s teenage servant, Aynoddin, allegedly opened fire on Marines working out in a dusty gym at Forward Operating Base Delhi in Helmand province. Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, Cpl. Richard Rivera and Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley - all members of a police adviser team attached to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, from Camp Lejeune, N.C. — were killed in that Aug. 10, 2012 insider attack. A fourth Marine, Staff Sgt. Cody Rhode survived, but sustained five gunshot wounds.
The incident underscores the mixed allegiances and hostilities of some Afghan commanders, 12 years into the war in Afghanistan. Commanders like Sarwar Jan frequently resurface in new assignments after being drummed out of their old ones. The practice frustrates military forces advising them and jeopardizes the coalition’s mission, according to a new witness statement submitted on Brezler’s behalf by Paul Davies, a British civilian who worked alongside the Marines and Sarwar Jan last year in Afghanistan. […]
An Indian author whose memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban became a Bollywood movie was shot dead by militants in Afghanistan, police said Thursday.
Sushmita Banerjee, also known as Sushmita Bandhopadhya, was killed outside her home in Paktika province, according to Dawlat Khan Zadran, the police chief of eastern Paktika province.
He said suspected Taliban insurgents broke into her house Wednesday night, blindfolded and tied up her husband, and fled with Banerjee.
Her body was found Thursday, dumped outside a madrasa, or religious school, in the outskirts of Sharana city, the provincial capital.
“She had around 20 bullet holes in her body,” Zadran said.
Banerjee gained attention with her 1995 book, “A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife.”
It recounts her story of marrying for love and moving to Afghanistan in 1989 to be with her husband. It traces her life in Afghanistan, her harassment by the Taliban and her eventual journey back to India.
She wrote an article for India’s Outlook magazine in 1998, about her life in Afghanistan, which she describes as tolerable until the Taliban crackdown in 1993.
“I remember it was early that year that members of the Taliban came to our house,” she wrote in Outlook.
“They had heard of the dispensary I was running from my house. I am not a qualified doctor. But I knew a little about common ailments, and since there was no medical help in the vicinity, I thought I could support myself and keep myself busy by dispensing medicines. The members of the Taliban who called on us were aghast that I, a woman, could be running a business establishment. They ordered me to close down the dispensary and branded me a woman of poor morals.
“They also listed out do’s and don’ts. The burkha was a necessity. Listening to the radio or playing a tape recorder was banned. Women were not allowed to go to shops. They were even prohibited from stepping out from their houses unless accompanied by their husbands. All women had to have the names of their husbands tattooed on their left hand. Virtually all interaction between men and women outside the confines of their own homes was banned.”
In 2003, her book was made into a Bollywood film, “Escape from Taliban.” Bollywood movies are extremely popular in Afghanistan.
Banerjee, 49, had recently moved to Paktika province to live with her husband, Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan, police said.
A female lawmaker in the Afghanistan parliament and her three young children were kidnapped by Taliban gunmen as she made her way to celebration to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid, an official said Wednesday.
Fariba Ahmadi Kakar was travelling between Kandahar and Kabul at the weekend when gunmen swooped in and took them hostage, The Deputy Governor of the Ghazni Province, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi told NBC News.
An Afghan National Security Forces operation later freed the her daughters aged four and six and a third child whose gender and age are unknown, Ahmadi added.
But Kakar remains in captivity because she is being held in a separate location, he said.
Taliban Spokesman Zabulullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the kidnapping but would not say what the terms for her release might be.
However Ahmadi told NBC News that the militant group are demanding the release of prisoners in exchange for her freedom.
The Pentagon said Tuesday it is offering no “zero option” for the number of troops that would remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission ends in December 2014. It said in a report to Congress that “substantial” long-term military support will be needed to ensure that Afghans can hold off the Taliban insurgency.
The White House has not ruled out leaving no troops behind after 2014, although officials say the most likely option is a residual training force of roughly 9,000.
In its twice-a-year report to Congress on war progress, the Pentagon said Afghanistan’s military is growing stronger but will require a lot more training, advising and foreign financial aid after the American and NATO combat mission ends.
The Pentagon’s assessment was an implicit rejection of the “zero option.” Zero is considered an unlikely choice by President Obama, not least because his administration has pledged to stand with the Afghans for the long term. But Obama has grown frustrated in his dealings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Peter Lavoy, the Pentagon’s top Afghan policy official, told a news conference that a number of post-2014 options have been developed, taking into account the Afghans’ need for additional training and advising, as well as what the Pentagon views as a longer-term requirement for U.S. counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan.
“In none of these cases have we developed an option that is zero,” Lavoy said.
In its report to Congress, which is required by law every six months, the Pentagon made no recommendation on the number of U.S. troops to keep in Afghanistan after 2014. There are currently about 60,000 U.S. troops there — down from a 2010 peak of 100,000 — and the total is to shrink to 34,000 by February.
The report said it will be difficult to judge whether Afghanistan can keep the upper hand against the Taliban until the exact size of a post-2014 U.S. military presence is determined.
The report painted a largely positive picture of progress in strengthening the Afghan army and police, but it offered cautionary assessments of the economic and political elements of its strategy for stabilizing the country.
“Effective government, the rule of law and sustainable economic development are all necessary for long-term stability in Afghanistan, but multiple factors continue to hinder them, including widespread corruption,” it said.
The report said that the amount of Afghan territory held by the insurgents has continued to shrink. It called the Taliban “less capable, less popular and less of an existential threat” to the Kabul government. And it said the number of “insider attacks” by Afghan forces against their U.S. and other coalition partners has declined.
On the other hand, it said the insurgents still wield influence in several key rural areas that serve as avenues to attack urban areas, including certain districts adjacent to Kabul and in areas west of the southern city of Kandahar.
“Insurgents also used violence and assassination to undermine perceptions of the Afghan government’s ability to provide security,” the report said, “including intimidation of tribal elders, local power brokers and Afghan government officials.”
For the first time, the report to Congress said some Afghan security forces are making potentially troublesome accommodations — in some cases in the form of local ceasefire deals — with insurgent groups.