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A senior American staff officer has been sacked after publishing a rant against the bureaucracy and endless PowerPoint briefings at Nato's Kabul headquarters.
By Ben Farmer in Kabul
Col Lawrence Sellin was sent home after generals read an opinion piece he had written revealing "little of substance" was done at the coalition's joint command in Afghanistan.
He went on to paint a picture of a bloated organisation, swollen by the vanity of commanders, where endless slide show presentations are given to brief "cognitively challenged" generals.
A spokesman for the joint command confirmed Col Sellin, an army reservist with a PhD who was on his second tour of Afghanistan, had lost his job because of his remarks.
"He's no longer working at the joint command, he has been sent back to his unit."
Col Sellin's piece, written for the news agency UPI and called "PowerPoints 'R' Us", was published on Tuesday, but appears to have been born of a long period of frustration.
The last U.S. combat brigade has left Iraq two weeks ahead of their planned withdrawal at the end of the month. But a fifty thousand-strong American military contingent will remain in the country for support and training until the end of 2011. They’ll have the power to use their weapons in self-defense or at the request of the Iraqi government. Over seven years of being in Iraq, more than four thousand U.S. soldiers have died, according to the Pentagon.
With New Surge, One Thousand U.S. Soldiers and $300 Million for Every One al Qaeda Fighter
By Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole and Brian Ross
As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama's description Tuesday of the al Qaeda "cancer" in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told ABCNews.com the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations.
President Obama made only a vague reference to the size of the al Qaeda presence in his speech at West Point, when he said, "al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same number as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border."
A spokesperson at the White House's National Security Council, Chris Hensman, said he could not comment on intelligence matters.
Obama's National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, put the number at "fewer than a hundred" in an October interview with CNN.
In 2003 Donald Rumsfeld estimated a war with Iraq would cost $60 billion. Five years later, the cost of Iraq war operations is over 10 times that figure. So what's behind the ballooning dollar signs? Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilme's exhaustedly researched book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict," breaks down the price tag, from current debts to the unseen costs we'll pay for years to come.
Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire examines how a radical fringe of the Republican Party used the trauma of the 9/11 terror attacks to advance a pre-existing agenda to radically transform American foreign policy while rolling back civil liberties and social programs at home. The documentary places the Bush Administration's false justifications for war in Iraq within the larger context of a two-decade struggle by neoconservatives to dramatically increase military spending in the wake of the Cold War, and to expand American power globally by means of military force.
By Joshua Frank
It’s time to toss those Obama t-shirts in the trash.
On Monday the Democrat controlled House voted 226-202 to approve a rushed $106 billion dollar war spending bill, guaranteeing more carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan (and lately Pakistan) until September 30, 2009, which marks the end of the budget year. The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill’s first draft last month, with the final vote on a compromised version to occur in the Senate sometime in the next couple of weeks.
The majority of opposition in the House came from Republicans who opposed an add-on to the bill that would open up a $5 billion International Monetary Fund line of credit for developing countries. This opposition in the House led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday to quip, “It'll be interesting to see what happens here. Are my Republican colleagues [in the Senate] going to join with us to fund the troops? I hope so.
By Michael Scheuer
In just over 100 days, President Obama is on the verge of ensuring that militant Islam’s war on America will be waged for decades to come and its forces will never suffer manpower or money shortages. How did he accomplish so much in some little time? He simply behaved as all U.S. political leaders behave; that is, as an ignorant and arrogant interventionist.
Let us take the ignorant part first. Since Jan. 20, Obama and his band of Israel-Firsters have shown the Muslim world – moderate, conservative, radical, and fanatic – that George W. Bush was no one-off fluke, that Democrats intend to wage war on Islam just like the Republicans. How so? Well, look at Obama’s decisions and actions. They can only be explained by accepting that the new president is ignorant of our Islamist foes, either by choice or because the ability to read is not required to graduate at Harvard.
By James Petras
"The Deltas are psychos. You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force", a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980's. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan. McChrystal's rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.
The point of the 'Special Operations' teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance. The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes. The SOT's 'counter-terrorism' is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-political groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal's SOT targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes. During the last 5 years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld period the SOT were deeply implicated in the torture of political prisoners and suspects. McChrystal was a special favorite of Rumsfeld and Cheney because he was in charge of the 'direct action' forces of the 'Special Missions Units. 'Direct Action' operative are the death-squads and torturers and their only engagement with the local population is to terrorize, and not to propagandize. They engage in 'propaganda of the dead', assassinating local leaders to 'teach' the locals to obey and submit to the occupation. Obama's appointment of McChrystal as head reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war in the face of the advance of the resistance throughout the country.
We feel the change of US commanders in Afghanistan is a strategic decision, preliminary to the "welcoming" of US troops into Pakistan by 'invitation' from the US-puppet ruler. To protect a 'democratic regime', of course. Ideally, it's the thing to do if you're building a fascist empire. US Naval and air bases in southern Pakistan would be ready to launch on Iran quickly, protect the Strait of Hormuz for the US oil companies, and have quicker access to eastern Africa. It makes sense to any thief and warmonger.
By Shamus Cooke
The velvet gloves are off and the reality of Obama’s Middle East plans are being revealed: a bare-fisted pummeling of Afghanistan and Pakistan — with Iraq’s fate yet to be determined.
The media have been preparing this for months, with incessant talk about the alleged “troop drawdown” in Iraq, the “surge” in Afghanistan and the “immediate threat” that supposedly is represented by Pakistan.
By CHRIS FLOYD
It would be superfluous in us to point out that a plan to "end" a war which includes the continued garrisoning of up to 50,000 troops in a hostile land is, in reality, a continuation of that war, not its cessation. To produce such a plan and claim that it "ends" a war is the precise equivalent of, say, relieving one's bladder on the back of one's neighbor and telling him that the liquid is actually life-giving rain.
But this is exactly what we are going to get from the Obama Administration in Iraq. Word has now come from on high – that is, from "senior administration officials" using "respectable newspapers" as a wholly uncritical conduit for government spin – that President Obama has reached a grand compromise with his generals (or rather, the generals and Pentagon poobahs he has inherited -- and eagerly retained -- from George W. Bush) on a plan to withdraw some American troops from the country that the United States destroyed in an unprovoked war of aggression. Obama had wanted a 16-month timetable for the partial withdrawal; his potential campaign rival in 2012, General David Petraeus, wanted 23 months; so, with Solomonic wisdom, they have now split the difference, and will withdraw a portion of the American troops in 19 months instead.