Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

Causing genocide to protect us from terror

April 18, 2015

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter

Published time: March 30, 2015 12:52

An Iraqi family watches U.S. soldiers in in Baquba early June 28, 2007.  (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

An Iraqi family watches U.S. soldiers in in Baquba early June 28, 2007. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.

In the comprehensive 101 pagedocument ‘Body Count,’

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, have produced figures for the number of people killed from September 11, 2001 until the end of 2013.

The findings are devastating: the in-depth investigation concludes that the ‘war on terror‘ has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate”.

“The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely,” the executive summary says.

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UN demands prosecution of Bush-era CIA crimes

March 5, 2013
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RT,  March 04, 2013
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AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

A United Nations investigator has demanded that the US publish classified documents regarding the CIA’s human rights violations under former President George W. Bush, with hopes that the documents will lead to the prosecution of public officials.

Documents about the CIA’s program of rendition and secret detention of suspected terrorists have remained classified, even though President Obama’s administration has publicly condemned the use of these “enhanced interrogation techniques”. The US has not prosecuted any of its agents for human rights violations.

UN investigator Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said that the classified documents protect the names of individuals who are responsible for serious human rights violations.

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Christian Soldiers in Afghanistan

May 30, 2009

by Valerie Elverton Dixon | Sojourners.net, May 30, 2009

William Faulkner once said: “The past is not dead.  In fact, it’s not even past.”  We often think about time and history as a straight line leading from the past, running through the present, heading into the future. With this conceptualization, the past is past and gone.  However, there is another way to think about time.  Tree time.  When we cut down a tree, the rings of the stump are concentric circles of time. The first year exists at the center and each succeeding year surrounds it.

So it is with the meeting of Christianity and Islam on the battle fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.  The historical center of the present conflict is the history of the Crusades.  Many in the Muslim world consider the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as another Crusade.  The Crusades were wars between Christians and Muslims, Christians and Pagans, Christians and Christians over four centuries.  It was a tragic time when armies of the state fought to promote a religious cause.  Crusaders travelled far from home as warriors and pilgrims, warriors and penitents, warriors as walls to stall the spread of Islam.  They won and lost battles.  They destroyed and plundered and raped. They were sometimes brutally massacred when the Muslims won on a particular day.

This historical core has not passed from the consciousness of some observers.  Enter the U.S. military.  The military is full of Christians.  Many of these men and women consider themselves as fundamentalist and evangelical.  An important part of their religious commitment is to witness to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior and to win souls to Christ.  At the same time, the U.S. military has a strict rule against proselytizing.  And so the warriors must walk a fine line between obligations to faith and country.

However, in my opinion, at least one soldier has been unfairly characterized in this discussion.  From what I can tell from the four minute video of a group of Christian soldiers in Afghanistan, army chaplain Captain Emmitt Furner gave them sound advice.  He reminded them of the army regulation and he reminded them that to witness to and for Jesus was more a walk than a talk. It is what we as Christians do that is important.  He said:  “You share the word in a smart manner: love, respect, consideration for their culture and their religion.  That’s what a Christian does is appreciation for other human beings.”  Another soldier in the group spoke of love and respect for the people they meet.

Some observers see Captain Furner’s advice as a sly way to spread the gospel, an element of a 21st century Crusade.  In my opinion, this interpretation is incorrect.  He gave his fellow soldiers the instruction to be living epistles that can be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2).  It is an instruction that we who are not on the front lines in Afghanistan and in Iraq can use.

Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

The Afghan Tragedy Continues

May 18, 2009
Why do Afghans have a life expectancy of only 44 years?

by Abdul Malik Mujahid | CommonDreams.org, May 17, 2009

According to the CIA World Factbook, an Afghan’s life expectancy is merely 44 years.

That’s 20 to 30 years less than neighboring Pakistan and all other surrounding countries. It is just one result of the ongoing devastation in that country.

The war in Afghanistan did not start in 2001 with the US invasion. It began 30 years ago in December 1979, when the former Soviet Union invaded the country. The human toll of the conflict is staggering: more than a million Afghans have been killed and 3 million maimed.

Five million (one third of the pre-war population) were forced to leave their country and became refugees. There are still 3.1 million Afghan refugees today, making up 27 per cent of the global refugee population. Most of them live in Pakistan. Another two million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan.

Most Afghans alive today have seen nothing but war.

Daily life in Afghanistan is miserable. Only six percent have electricity in a country which gets as cold as Chicago in winter. Even in Kabul, the country’s capital, electricity comes for only a few hours a day. Traditional wood heating is difficult since not much wood is left in Afghanistan after 30 years of wars and forest devastation. Over 1,000 people died because of cold weather last year.

“About two million state school students do not have access to safe drinking water and about 75 percent of these schools in Afghanistan do not have safe sanitation facilities”, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

There is no law and order in most of Afghanistan. Government barely exists in Kabul. Former warlords are the leaders. That is demonstrated by the fact that, “Afghanistan is the world’s largest cultivator and supplier of opium (93 percent of the global opiates market). According to the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.”  A British daily paper actually reported that “the four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government.”

The Taliban, which has lost its legitimacy due to its brutality, are sometimes remembered by Afghans as those who brought peace to Afghanistan.  Women continue to be the number one victims of the country’s 30 years of warfare. According to Malalai Joya, an elected member of the Afghan Parliament and outspoken critic of warlords and war criminals in the government, “the propaganda to the world about liberating Afghanistan and women and fighting against terrorists are lies.” In her speech accepting a human rights award in London, she said:

Our nation is still living under the shadow of war, crimes and brutalities of the fundamentalists, and women are the primary and silent sacrifice of this situation. Justice doesn’t exist in Afghanistan. Every sector of life in Afghanistan today is a tragedy, from women’s rights to security, law and order and domination of a drug mafia.

Almost two generations of Afghan children have grown up seeing nothing but war, bombing, homelessness and hunger. They are an easy target for those who want to play Afghans against each other, through money, drugs and guns.Afghanistan was almost self-sufficient in food before the Soviet invasion in 1979. The leftist government had instituted many economic and social reforms. But the Soviets went in for the bait set up by the US to take revenge for the Vietnam War, as bragged about by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor.  That was the beginning of the Afghan tragedy 30 years ago. Since then, the country has not seen a day of peace except for the brief brutal peace of Taliban era.

America trained, financed and equipped Afghan refugees to become Mujahideen to kill the Communist Soviets. Along the way, we created a cadre of fighters, including Osama bin Laden. Then, we supported and financed the Taliban and now we are trying to kill them as well.

In seven years of US occupation of Afghanistan, the government of Hamid Karzai and American influence have remained limited to Kabul and a few other smaller areas. Now it is not just the Americans, NATO and Pakistan which are playing their cards, but India, Russia and Iran also have increased embassy staff and active participation in carving a realm of power in Afghanistan.

If the British Empire in the 19th century could not succeed in occupying Afghanistan despite close to a century of war on and off, and the Soviets failed to do the same during the twentieth century, we cannot win either. Isn’t it about time that we Americans in the 21st century rethink the “good war” in Afghanistan? After seven years of going nowhere, it is surely time for a new strategy.

Consider this: if the Soviets, with 120,000 troops at any given time (500,000 total) could not do it, how can we with only 60,000? An increase of 20,000 to 30,000 American soldiers is unlikely to achieve military defeat.

And the Soviet Union was just across the border from Afghanistan, not tens of thousands of miles away as America is.

In Iraq which is half of the size of Afghanistan, the U.S. had more than 150,000 troops plus 190,000 contractors, killing one million people and destroying the whole infrastructure of the country.

Afghanistan has 16 percent more people than Iraq. It has a far more challenging military environment because two-thirds of Afghanistan is mountainous terrain suitable for guerrilla warfare unlike the flat plains of Iraq.

Most Afghans have been raised accustomed to war and hardship during the last three decades, unlike the comparatively more urbanized Iraqis.

That is the reason the outgoing commander of NATO-ISAF, General Dan McNeill, publicly requested anywhere between 100,000 and 400,000 more troops for the fight in Afghanistan.

President Obama has been right to pursue diplomacy with countries like Iran and for extending a hand to the Muslim world. However, he is dangerously wrong for pursuing the military path in Afghanistan. It is one that will only exacerbate terrorism, as well as further destroy a nation crippled by thirty years of war. It will lead to the deaths of more American soldiers. And I have no doubt that it will further lower the life expectancy of Afghans, those who continue to suffer the most.

Abdul Malik Mujahid is a Pakistani-American. He is an Imam in Chicago, President of Sound Vision, and serves as the vice chair for a Council for a Parliament of World Religions.

Anatomy of the Kashmir crisis

September 8, 2008

Interview: Sanjay Kak

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Kashmir as Indian security forces impose a round-the-clock curfew across the valley.

More than 30 unarmed Kashmiri protesters have been killed by Indian forces in the last few weeks in an effort to stamp out mass demonstrations that have shaken the disputed region, which is partitioned by India and Pakistan, and where India has maintained a military occupation in the section it controls.

The demonstrations were sparked by the announcement of the transfer of 100 acres of public land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, but have since snowballed into a province-wide revolt. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have taken to the streets demanding “azadi” (freedom) and their right to self-determination. In response, Indian military and paramilitary forces imposed a curfew and media blackout, and have fired on large, unarmed rallies, killing dozens and injuring hundreds.

Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker whose recently completed documentary, Jashn-e-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom) was made over a period of several years in Kashmir. On August 16, days after the mass protests erupted, he spoke with Nagesh Rao.

Protesters demanding "azadi" confront riot police on the streets of Jammu in KashmirProtesters demanding “azadi” confront riot police on the streets of Jammu in Kashmir

WHAT IS the significance of the Kashmiri uprising?

I THINK part of the problem is that in India, our attention always comes in at the tail end of the story. Here it comes in when there is an explosion of resentment against the granting of lands to the Amarnath Shrine Board, and then we all act mystified: “How can there be so much resentment against something so small?”

That’s because no one paid attention to what’s been happening in the year prior, or the five years prior or, indeed, 18 years prior to this event. So there’s a kind of structured amnesia about what events bring us to this place.

And this is not an accident. Particularly when it comes to Kashmir, in India, it is a structured amnesia.

You’ve got more than 500,000 Indian soldiers in Kashmir. They are sitting in literally every street and village and by-lane and crossing and water-point, and then you begin thinking that peace has returned to Kashmir. But it hasn’t. You’re just sitting on top of people.

Then the media dutifully starts wheeling out the spin, and you’re told, “Oh, tourists are returning to Kashmir, all is well, the militancy is gone.” And everybody begins to believe it.

I once had a conversation with an army officer, and he said, “Things are very peaceful here now. As a Kashmiri, you should come and visit, as often as you like.” “Peaceful” is not a word I would use to describe what was around us, even where were sitting, in the officers’ mess, with a breathtaking view of the grand Wular Lake.

“But colonel, there’s a soldier with an AK-47 every 30 feet,” I said.

“No, no,” he said, “we’ve got the situation under control.”

“So when will you leave?” I said, “You know, troop reductions–cut by, say, 20 percent?”

“No, no, that’s out of the question,” he replied. “Everybody would be out on the streets, there would be an uprising.”

On the ground, that colonel commanding a military unit in Kashmir knows the score. The Indian security apparatus has taken 18 years to build a stranglehold on Kashmir, to control every aspect of daily life over there. That is the kind of “peace” that they hammered onto Kashmir.

In the wake of the armed uprising of the 1990s, which was represented as “terrorism” and an “Islamic jihad,” they managed to do what they had to do, because Indians–and the rest of the world–were a little confused about what was happening. But what are they going to do now, when there are no weapons in this uprising? There are just hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets. What are they going to do? Are they going to just start firing? And how many will they kill?

This is the real significance of what we are seeing. Until now, even ostensibly sympathetic Indians would throw the question at the Kashmiris: “Why did you take to the gun? You took to the gun, and you alienated the Indian people.”

This time around, they haven’t brought the gun out. They are coming out in vast numbers and demonstrating for what they believe in. They are coming out in the ways that Indian democracy ought to believe in. Only this time, the same liberal intelligentsia who wanted them to give up the gun are now calling these vast assemblies “violent mobs” of “extremists”!

In a sense, the Indian state is hoisted on its own petard, flummoxed. [Indian rulers] do not know how to react to this situation.

Continued . . .

How the frozen conflict turned into a flash fire

August 10, 2008

A Georgian launcher fires rockets at rebels near the South Ossetia capital, Tskhinvali

A Georgian launcher fires rockets at rebels near the South Ossetia capital, Tskhinvali. Photograph: Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty

Why has fighting broken out?

The South Ossetians and Georgians have been sniping at each other for several weeks and patience on both sides has finally snapped. South Ossetia and Georgia’s other breakaway region, Abkhazia, have enjoyed de facto independence since the early 1990s but Tbilisi has never recognised the loss of its territory. The dispute between Georgia and the two regions was called “the frozen conflict” because the issues remain unresolved, but there was no fighting. The heat began to rise this year when the west recognised Kosovo, against Russia’s advice. The South Ossetians and Abkhazians argued that if Kosovo could be independent, then so could they.

What is the basis of the region’s claim to independence?

The Ossetians are descendants of a tribe called the Alans. Like the Georgians, the Ossetians are Orthodox Christians but they have their own language. In Soviet times, the Ossetians had an autonomous region within Georgia. The Georgians say the Ossetians cooperated with the Bolsheviks and tended to be more pro-Soviet. Their ethnic kin live across the border in the Russian region of North Ossetia, so today they feel more drawn to Russia than to Georgia and many have Russian passports.

Abkhazia on the Black Sea coast was also an autonomous region of Georgia in Soviet times. It has a mixed population of Abkhaz, Mingrelians, Greeks, Armenians, Russians and Georgians and a small but significant Muslim minority. Thousands of ethnic Georgians fled their homes in Abkhazia during the civil war in the early 90s and now live as refugees in Tbilisi and Moscow.

Why has Russia become involved?

Russia says it cannot stand aside because many of the people in the breakaway regions are its citizens. Georgia accuses Russia of meddling in its internal affairs and supporting the separatists, although Russia’s peacekeepers are supposed to be in a neutral role. Georgia accuses Russia of double standards in suppressing its own separatist rebellion in Chechnya while encouraging separatists in Georgia. Russia has become more engaged in the region since Georgia expressed an interest in joining Nato, the very idea of which appalls Moscow.

What might happen next?

So far, this has been a proxy war, with Russia encouraging the separatists, but Russia and Georgia could find themselves in direct conflict. Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, today accused Georgia of aggression and warned that a response was inevitable. Georgia said Russian jets had started bombing its territory.

What are the wider implications?

The conflict could widen out further still, with former Soviet republics supporting Russia and the US and Europe backing Georgia. The root of the problem is that the world community cannot agree on rules for the independence of small regions.


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