TagAfghanistan

Burning Man Invades Afghanistan

Burning Man in Afghanistan

In the 1970s, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon proposed the First Earth Battalion, an attempt to apply counter cultural currents of the time to the U.S. military. Now there’s the Synergy Strike Force:

Warner held the lease on the Taj, and he ran it with the help of an Afghan man, a former shepherd turned beekeeper turned tobacconist turned pool cleaner turned guesthouse manager named Mehrab. By design, the Taj sat “outside the wire,” beyond the security perimeter of the nearby coalition airfield. It was not only a place to drink and flop but also a kind of grand social experiment—an outpost of the Burning Man ethos in the Afghan desert.

What Warner meant when he called the Taj a “Burner bar” was that it operated, in part, according to a barter system. One of the standing rules at the guesthouse was that any expat could exchange information for booze. In a war zone where so many different agencies, companies, and contractors passed like wary ships in the night, one of the biggest problems was that no one could coordinate knowledge. No one, that is, except maybe a bartender. Under the banner of “Beer for Data,” Warner had turned the Taj into a major clearinghouse for information in Jalalabad. It accumulated by the terabyte on his hard drives: construction plans, hydrology surveys, health-clinic locations, election polling sites, names of farmers, number of trees on their farms, number of acres. What Warner collected he then passed on to the United Nations, the Pentagon, and anyone else who asked for it.

Full Story: Pacific Standard: The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War

(via Paul Graham Raven)

Here’s an ABC News interview with Warner:

The Afghanistan War’s Signature Wound

The Great War had shell shock. World War II had facial burns. Vietnam had amputations. Iraq, traumatic brain injuries. What’s Afghanistan’s “signature wound”? Penis mutilation as a result of homemade bombs that are detonated underfoot, injuring soldiers feet, legs and genitals. Their compensation? Fifty thousand dollars.

Men’s Health is selling a Kindle single on the subject. I read the feature in the print magazine, and it’s well worth your time and money.

Here’s a sidebar specifically on fertility: War is Hell (On Fertility)

Get Your War on Returns

get your war on

NY Magazine is running an all-new Get Your War On, the title’s first post-Bush strip.

NY Magazine: Get Your War On

(via Cat Vincent)

What Afghanistan Looked Like in the 50s and 60s

afghanistan

Amazing photo essay from Foreign Policy. A real eye opener.

Foreign Policy: Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

(via Dangerous Minds)

Defense contractor to remove Bible references

jesus code

A Michigan company that manufactures combat rifle sights for the U.S. military that carry Bible verse citations said Thursday it would send kits to remove the inscriptions, NBC reported.

Trijicon Inc. also said it would take off Biblical references from all U.S. military products that are still in the company’s factory and ensure future items do not have any inscriptions on them.

MSNBC: Defense contractor to remove Bible references

Previously: U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

(Thanks Bill)

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

jesus code

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious “Crusade” in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

ABC: U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

(via zacodin)

Does the military have a Christian missionary agenda in Afghanistan

Christopher Hitchens:

More alarming still is a book called Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, by an air-force lieutenant colonel named William McCoy, publicity for which describes the separation of church and state as a “twisted idea.” Nor is this the book’s only publicity: it comes—with its direct call for a religion-based military—with an endorsement from General David Petraeus.

More:

I found I had been sent a near-incredible video clip from the Al Jazeera network. It had been shot at Bagram Air Force Base last year, and it showed a borderline-hysterical address by one Lieutenant Colonel Gary Hensley, chief of the United States’ military chaplains in Afghanistan. He was telling his evangelical audience, all of them wearing uniforms supplied by the taxpayer, that as followers of Jesus Christ they had a collective responsibility “to be witnesses for him.” Heating up this theme, Lieutenant Colonel Hensley went on: “The Special Forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same things, as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them in the kingdom. Right? That’s what we do, that’s our business.”

The comparison to the Special Forces would seem to suggest that the objects of this hunting and hounding are Afghans rather than Americans. But it’s difficult to be certain, and indeed I am invited to Colorado Springs partly because chaplains there have been known to employ taxpayer dollars to turn the hounds of heaven loose on their own students and fellow citizens. As the Bagram tape goes on, however, it becomes obvious that Afghans are the targets in this case. Stacks of Bibles are on display, in the Dari and Pashto tongues that are the main languages in Afghanistan. A certain Sergeant James Watt, a candidate for a military chaplaincy, is shown giving thanks for the work of his back-home church, which subscribed the dough. “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out,” he beamingly tells his Bible-study class. In another segment, those present show quite clearly that they understand they are in danger of violating General Order Number One of the U.S. Central Command, which explicitly prohibits “proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice.” A gathering of chaplains, all of them fed from the public trough, is addressed by Captain Emmit Furner, a military cleric who seems half in love with his own light-footed moral dexterity. “Do we know what it means to proselytize?” he asks his audience. A voice from the audience is heard to say, “It is General Order Number One.” To this Sergeant Watt replies: “You can’t proselytize but you can give gifts.… I bought a carpet and then I gave the guy a Bible after I conducted my business.” So where’s the harm in a man who is paid by the United States government to be a Christian chaplain strolling condescendingly through the souk and handing out religious propaganda as if it were a handful of small change or backsheesh? Probably not much more damaging to the war effort, or insulting to Afghan sensibilities, than the activities of the anonymous torturers who have been found operating elsewhere on the Bagram base. But it is taking the axe to the root of the United States Constitution, never mind General Order Number One. (Neither of these seems to be in force locally: no action against the uniformed missionaries has been taken.)

Vanity Fair: In Defense of Foxhole Atheists

See also Jeff Sharlet’s coverage of evangelicals in the military

“Why do they hate us?” revisited

Glenn Greenwald:

Note, too, the vast gap between how Americans perceive of their actions (mere “aberrations”) and how so much of the rest of the world perceives of it, especially those in the targeted regions. So much of this disparity is explained by a basic lack of empathy: imagine if every American spent just a day contemplating how they’d react if some foreign army from a Muslim nation invaded and bombed the U.S., occupied the country for the next several years with 60,000 soldiers, killed tens of thousands of citizens here, set up secret prisons where they disappeared Americans for years without charges or even contact with the outside world, imposed sanctions that blockaded food and medicine and killed countless children, invaded and ransacked our homes at will, abducted Americans and shipped them halfway around the world to island-prisons, instituted a worldwide torture regime, armed their allies for attacks on other Western nations, and threatened still other invasions.

Do you think Americans might be seething with rage about that, wanting to kill as many of the people from that country as possible? Wouldn’t it be rather obvious that the more that was done to Americans, the more filled with hatred and a desire for violence they would be? Just consider the rage and fury and burning desire for vengeance that was unleashed by a one-day attack on U.S. soil, eight years ago, by a stateless band of extremists, that killed 3,000 people.

Along those lines, a new poll from The Washington Post today reveals that 42% of Americans favor bombing Iran’s “nuclear development sites” (49% of Republicans; 38% Democrats; 42% Independents), while 33% of Americans favor “invading with U.S. forces to remove the Iranian government from power” (40% Republicans; 32% Democrats; 30% Independents). Although majorities oppose that, that is a rather substantial group of Americans that favors having us bomb and invade our third Muslim country in less than ten years, not counting the places we bomb covertly or the countries bombed by our main Middle East client state. And just imagine how much that support among Americans will increase if the U.S. Government ever starts advocating it and, therefore, the U.S. media even more loudly than now beats the drums of war against Iran.

Glenn Greenwald: David Rohde on the “why do they hate us?” question

War casualties under Clinton and Bush

I originally posted this at Klintron’s Brain but I’m posting it here to get more feedback/correction/additions. I’m working on an expanded version that goes back to Carter and is more comprehensive.

One of the arguments I frequently hear when debating whether Democrats are actually any better than Republicans, or whether Bush is really in worse than Clinton, is that Clinton waged many wars of his own. I decided to do a little digging to find out whose wars were most fatal, and based on what I’ve found: George W. Bush’s wars are by far more fatal, but my data on Clinton’s wars is incomplete. I’ve posted my findings below. Please let me know if you have additional information or corrections to this data.

It’s always terrible to make these things into a numbers game, but I still hope this is useful in evaluating the scale of warfare under Clinton as opposed to Bush.

US military deaths under Clinton and Bush:

While calculating civilian deaths is very difficult, getting numbers for US soldiers killed is easier. However, these numbers are total active duty deaths, including deaths from illness, so they might not be a good reflection of combat related deaths.

Clinton: 7500 (total military active duty military deaths from 1993-2000)

Bush: 8792 (total military active duty deaths from 2001-2006)

Source: Department of Defense report (PDF). Note: This doesn’t include this year or next year. Bush isn’t done yet.

Civilian deaths under Clinton:

Because there were several different small military actions ordered by Clinton, tallying everything is rather difficult. If I’ve forgotten anything here, or if you have sources with different numbers, let me know.

Battle of Mogadishu: “More than one thousand.”. I could only find info for this one particular battle, I don’t know how many more died during the Somalia missions.

Operation Uphold Democracy – I can’t find any statistics for this one. The Department of Defense only indicated 4 “non-hostile” deaths of a US military personnel in this operation, so it’s not completely inconceivable that no civilians were killed. (As always, more information is welcomed).

Operation Desert Strike – ???

Operation Desert Fox – 600-2000.

Note: My understanding is that there was ongoing bombing in Iraq throughout Clinton’s presidency, mostly over “no fly zones.” I don’t have any information on how many civilians deaths may have occurred and that’s where the numbers comparison really falls apart. Depending on how fatal these raids were, they may tip the scales towards Clinton being the more lethal president.

Update: Iraq claimed that 323 civilians were killed in between Desert Fox and February 2001. They also say the bombing was escalated during this time period. So 162 deaths per year from the no-fly bombing is would be a high estimate of total civilian casualties during these campaigns.

1998 missile strike against Afghanistan – 21.

1998 missile strike against Sudan – Unknown (So far as I can tell, Sudan never reported a number).

Kosovo War – Yugoslavia claimed that NATO attacks caused between 1,200 and 5,700 civilian casualties. NATO acknowledged killing at most 1,500 civilians. Human Rights Watch counted a minimum of 488 civilian deaths.

So here are some approximations:

Somalia: 1500
Haiti: 10
Iraq (Desert Fox): 2000
Iraq (Ongoing bombing): 1296
Afghanistan: 21
Sudan: 50
Yugoslavia: 5700

Total: 10,577

Civilian deaths under George W. Bush:

Afghanistan: 7,300-14,000.

Iraq: 74,689 – 81,394.

Total: 81,989 – 95,394

It would certainly take a lot of civilians deaths under Clinton’s bombing campaigns in Iraq to come close to Bush’s numbers.

Political Statements in Runway Fashion

If runway fashion is an art, then I suppose it makes sense that it’s being used as an avenue for political expression.

David Delfin presented a show in Madrid with hooded designs resembling “burqa head-coverings that women in Afghanistan had to wear when the Muslim fundamentalist Taliban were in power.” CNN: Death hoods bring fashion protest (via Drudge Report)

Saudi haute couture artist Yehya al-Bashri created a bloody stained dress with a picture of a tank on it to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestine. NY Post: Dressed to Kill on Day Terror Returns to Israel (via Drudge Report).

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