Posts Tagged ‘casualties’

Race to help Haiti quake victims

January 14, 2010
Al Jazeera, Jan 14, 2010
Many Haitians are living on the streets fearing that aftershocks will destroy more buildings [AFP]

Aid agencies are racing to get help to Haiti where thousands of people are feared to be trapped under rubble following a devastating earthquake which is believed to have left tens of thousands dead.

The United Nations has mobilised 37 search and rescue teams from a global network to the devastated capital Port-au-Prince.

Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said search and rescue teams were “working against the clock” to save lives.

But more than 24 hours after the 7.0 magnitude quake struck, there was little help in sight on the streets of the capital where numerous bodies lay amid collapsed buildings and the cries of people buried beneath rubble continued to ring out.

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International Law: The First Casualty of the U.S. Drone War in Pakistan

December 15, 2009

A comprehensive legal analysis of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Dec 14, 2009

By Max Kantar

ABSTRACT. This report utilizes well-established principles of both treaty and customary international law as a measuring stick for attempting to determine the legal and moral legitimacy of the covert U.S. policy of using drones to attack targets in Pakistan. This analysis is unique in that it uses both broad assessments as well as pertinent individual case studies with the purpose of chronicling the details of several drone attacks over a period of 45 months in the interest of legal evaluation. Drawing from a vast collection of reliable press reports, independent human rights testimonies, and the most prominent, mainstream studies, this report is quite possibly the most comprehensive analysis on the topic to date and likely the first of its kind to appear in the wake of the US-Pakistan drone controversy.

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US, British media transform tragedies into war propaganda

November 13, 2009

Bill Van Auken,, Nov. 13, 2009

With the Obama administration on the verge of announcing an escalation that will almost certainly send tens of thousands more troops into the war in Afghanistan, popular opposition to the war continues to grow.

According to a CNN poll released this week, 58 percent of the American people oppose the war. Across the Atlantic, antiwar sentiments in Britain, which has the second largest troop contingent in Afghanistan, is even higher. The latest poll shows just 21 percent supporting the war and 63 percent in favor of withdrawing British troops.

Casualties have risen sharply, with 288 US and 95 British troops having died so far this year. Many more have suffered wounds, resulting in an increasing number of amputations and cases of brain damage.

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Pakistani army offensive devastates tribal communities

October 28, 2009

By James Cogan,, Oct 28, 2009

The ongoing Pakistani military offensive into the tribal agency of South Waziristan is having a devastating impact on the entire civilian population. Villages and towns are literally being bombed into rubble and tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee for their lives.

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Pakistan descends deeper into civil war

October 16, 2009

By Peter Symonds,, Oct 16, 2009

As the Pakistani military gets set to launch a major offensive into the tribal agency of South Waziristan, Islamist militants carried out coordinated high-profile attacks yesterday on police facilities in the city of Lahore.

Teams of gunmen disguised as police officers struck two police training centres and the provincial headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency. At least 28 people were killed, including 19 police officers. Two of the targets had already been attacked in the previous 18 months.

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Dan Simpson: Sack the general; stop the war

October 7, 2009
Gen. McChrystal the lobbyist is wrong about Afghanistan
By Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct 7, 2009

The United States is currently faced with the astonishing spectacle of a uniformed military officer, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, lobbying publicly for the option he favors on an issue that is in front of President Barack Obama to decide.

The civilian president is still commander-in-chief of America’s armed forces, a point that Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, stressed correctly in his various flag-draped presentations. The United States isn’t Guinea.

Anyone who has ever watched the U.S. military in action on Capitol Hill, acting in coordination with the various lobbyists who represent defense contractors and others who profit from U.S. military enterprises, knows the degree to which the Pentagon is proficient at getting its way inside both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government.

But the whole thing is usually carried out more in line with what the military call “the chain of command.” Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, expressed a preference for that approach with reference to Gen. McChrystal’s current undertaking on a television talk show last weekend.

Lest Gen. McChrystal’s direct “general to the people” blitzkrieg be thought unique, it is important to recall the Bush administration’s sometimes extravagant use of Gen. David H. Petraeus to try to bulk up the American public’s support for its war in Iraq.

Gen. Petraeus was painted as the genius of the troop “surge,” which theoretically saved America from defeat at a low point in that unfortunate conflict, which, also unfortunately, still hasn’t ended, in spite of the efforts of Gen. Petraeus, holdover Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and others. In case anyone hasn’t noticed (there is less reporting coming now from Iraq than from Afghanistan), the Iraq war continues and there are broad hints that U.S. forces may not be able to withdraw from there as fast as Americans had hoped. This debacle will soon have lasted seven years.

There are historical precedents for U.S. generals trying to use public pressure to maneuver presidents into particular positions on issues of interest to the military. A famous one was Gen. George B. McClellan’s face-off with Abraham Lincoln over the conduct of the Civil War, which went so far that the general finally ran for president against Mr. Lincoln in 1864 and lost.

A second famous one was in 1951 when Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur pushed Harry Truman to let him attack China during the Korean War. Although Mr. Truman eventually fired him, the general did manage to engage U.S. forces in conflict with the Chinese, with basically disastrous results.

What is going on with Gen. McChrystal and Mr. Obama is that a few months after having been given command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by Mr. Obama, Gen. McChrystal has looked at the situation and now wants 40,000 more U.S. troops. He already is authorized 68,000, so the 40,000 would constitute about a 60 percent increase. That may well be Gen. McChrystal’s honest assessment of how many troops it would take for the United States to “win” in Afghanistan — if anyone could figure out what “winning” means in that tormented country.

It is important to bear in mind that the textbook military analysis of how many troops it would take to nail down a country the size and population of Afghanistan is 480,000. The United States finally had more than 543,000 in Vietnam and didn’t win.

What is actually going on, whether Gen. McChrystal intends it to be the case or not, is that he is saying to Mr. Obama loudly and publicly, “Give me more troops. If you don’t, I’ll lose and it will be your fault.”

It also is important to look at the political situation in the United States, as well the political and military situation in Afghanistan.

First, Afghanistan. The U.S. casualty rate there is going steadily upward. That partly reflects the fact that we have more troops there, and in more difficult combat situations. It also is becoming increasingly clear that for the Afghans, the enemy is becoming less and less al-Qaida, or the Taliban and al-Qaida, and more and more the Americans. This is perfectly normal for Afghans. They don’t like foreigners in their country, especially foreigners seeking to play a dominant role. Ask Alexander the Great, the British and the Russians. And Americans do normally try to run the show, particularly as we increase our investment in a country.

We didn’t like the way they did their elections in August. We didn’t like the result, although it is unclear who would have been more to our taste than President Hamid Karzai. We don’t like how they earn their money, mostly from illegal drugs. We would like them to do the fighting, but since that fighting would involve Afghans fighting Afghans for the most part, they are not very keen on that. On Friday we had an Afghan police officer shooting and killing two American soldiers on patrol and then escaping.

At home, after eight years, Americans are weary of the Afghan war, as well as the Iraq war. The public wonders why we continue to spend our money — upwards of a trillion dollars now — on these wars while our own economy lags, with only one job available for every six persons looking for one.

It is time to wrap up the Afghanistan war. It might be a good idea to remove Gen. McChrystal from the picture, taking him up on the part of his analysis that says, give me more troops or take me out of the game.

We don’t have to rule Afghanistan to be safe at home. If we did, we would also have to rule Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (, 412 263-1976). More articles by this author

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Rights group: Most Gazans killed in war were civilians

September 9, 2009

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and AP  Haaretz/Israel, Sep 9, 2009

The vast majority of the Palestinians killed in Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip last winter were innocent civilians rather than combatants, according to a new report to be published by the B’Tselem organization Wednesday morning. This is the opposite of what the Israel Defense Forces has said.

According to B’Tselem, 1,387 Palestinians were killed during the three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, of whom 773 were noncombatants and only 330 were combatants.

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10,000 Uighurs disappeared during unrest in China, exiled leader claims

July 30, 2009

Rebiya Kadeer says undercover snatch squads targeted Uighurs during Urumqi clashes

Rebiya Kadeer in TokyoRebiya Kadeer, head of the World Uighur Congress, gives a press conference in Japan. Photograph: Junji Kurokawa/AP

Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur leader, today claimed that almost 10,000 Uighurs had “disappeared” during ethnic unrest in China‘s north-western region of Xinjiang earlier this month and called on the international community to launch an inquiry.

Speaking during a controversial visit to Japan, Kadeer said Chinese authorities had used undercover “snatch squads” to target Uighurs during clashes between Uighur and Han Chinese in the city of Urumqi on 5 July.

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Iraq a failed imperialist venture

July 5, 2009

Haroon Siddiqui | The Star,  July 5, 2009

American troops were not welcomed with flowers in Iraq but their departure from cities and towns has been.

Iraqis celebrated National Sovereignty Day Tuesday as U.S. troops were yanked out of populated centres and put into remote bases.

In time, even that hidden presence will begin to grate on the Iraqis, just as a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia had spurred Osama bin Laden and others.

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Pakistan Declares Swat Valley Offensive Still Almost Over

June 23, 2009
Military Turns Attention to South Waziristan

Jason Ditz,,  June 22, 2009

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas today announced that the army had entered its “final stages” of its devestating offensive in the Swat Valley. Now, says Abbas, the military is focusing on its preparatory phase of the offensive in South Waziristan.

Major General Athar Abbas

If that sounds familiar, it probably should. Over three weeks ago, Secretary of Defense Athar Ali said the exact same thing, even going so far as to say that the battle would be over “hopefully within two to three days.”

The Swat Valley offensive has killed thousands, driven millions from their homes, and left hundreds of thousands of others trapped in their homes with dwindling access to food and water.

With the situation in the refugee camps continually worsening, the displaced have hoped to return home in short order. Despite weeks of promises that the clashes were almost over and claims that wide swaths of the valley are under control, the military has been preventing all civilians from returning home.

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