| The press needs to expose the siege of democracy, not abet it
John Hanrahan writes: ‘We have become overly fearful, willing to surrender many core freedoms for the illusion of absolute security…We as a nation are less free than we were 11 years ago. And the mainstream press needs to say so, needs to explore this in news articles, as well as editorially and on the op-ed pages and in the broadcast media.’
A whistleblower wonders
| Why does Congress refuse to even ask the right questions about Afghanistan?
Army Lt. Col. Danny Davis, who broke ranks to debunk official reports of progress, cites multiple journalistic and analytical reports that back his perspective, and wonders: Isn't Congress the least bit curious about whether it's been badly deceived?
| Questioning the fundamentals in Afghanistan
How does supporting warlords help create a stable government? Why are we counting the money spent instead of the good achieved? A scholar who has done extensive field research in Afghanistan on the intended and unintended effects of foreign aid writes that reporters are missing some of the key dynamics at play there.
| Civilian drone victims, unrecognized by the U.S. government and public, seek justice
The US says civilian deaths by CIA drones are 'exceedingly rare', but the survivors of one attack that killed 50 in Pakistan describe the horror of a Hellfire hit in a petition to the government to criminally charge those responsible.
Maybe a story or two here?
| No Occupy events to cover? Look again.
Occupy issues and events, for starters: Climate change, Keystone XL pipeline, World Bank and IMF, agribusiness, big oil, money out of politics, closing the School of the Americas, the war on drugs, war on terror, war on immigrants, militarization, end tax giveaways to the 1%, military spending, mass incarceration, biggest tax-dodging war profiteers, Bradley Manning, the first international drone summit, corporate lobbyists – and a Mayday general strike.
Massive protests ahead?
| If 25,000 people rally in midtown, is that a story?
The Occupy movement, active all winter, has been mostly ignored by the press. Now, along with other groups, it is stepping up its rallies and protests against corporate influence and militarism in America. Will there be any press coverage to speak of?
| Is lack of diversity a factor in our failure in Afghanistan?
A black man spends 11 months working for USAID in Afghanistan, sees white men flailing around, and wonders if their lack of diversity and inability to achieve their goals may be related.
| In Afghanistan massacre, did the gunman act alone?
After a U.S. Army sergeant slaughters civilians in Afghanistan, some important questions about not just the incident, but the larger U.S. mission.
Facebook in Kabul
| In Afghanistan, 'a generation of hope and change'
The Arab spring hasn’t gone unnoticed in Afghanistan. Young men and women there, using Facebook and Twitter, are launching an unprecedented movement for national unity, writes Nasim Ferat, a young Afghan now at school in the United States.
Reporting the endgame | Missing from 9/11 anniversary coverage: crucial context and history|
By neglecting to mention the key U.S. role in supporting militant jihadists in their war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the press missed an opportunity to raise questions about blowback -- and about whether our actions in Afghanistan today will once again produce negative future consequences.
Reporting the endgame | Needed: More American reporters in Afghanistan|
Striking reports by the New York Times and other news organizations after the shoot-down of a helicopter with 30 American troops and eight Afghans aboard show how important it is to have reporters on the scene in Afghanistan, or as close to the scene as they can get.
Reporting the endgame | The war without end is a war with hardly any news coverage|
The American print press is almost totally absent from Afghanistan, leaving the reporting to a handful of news organizations. TV coverage averages 21 seconds per newscast for NBC and not much more for ABC and CBS. One critic says the lack of sustained American TV reporting of Afghanistan is 'the most irresponsible behavior in all of the annals of war journalism.'
Reporting the endgame
Reporting the endgame | Coulda, woulda, shoulda coverage of antiwar protests|
Looking back, the Washington Post editor in charge of covering demonstrations says newsworthy stories have been left uncovered. He needn't feel lonely; The Post has lots of company in ignoring stories of dissent. The New York Times, for one, has its own spotty record.
| At least 1,400 arrests for antiwar dissent, but who’s counting? Not the press.
The national news media almost totally ignore homefront protests of the Afghanistan war, killer drones, torture, and more, regardless of their newsworthiness. By its lack of coverage, isn’t the press thus helping perpetuate an endless war?
Reporting the endgame
Reporting the endgame | The Afghanistan war and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal|
One of the thorniest issues in an American troop pullout is concern over Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. Does the U.S. have to keep a strong presence in Afghanistan to ward against that – or is it, as some experts argue, a wrongheaded concern? It's a new domino theory and, writes John Hanrahan, the press needs to do a better job describing it to the American people.
| A cold calculation: How much is too much to spend on Afghanistan?
Some in Congress are pushing legislation that would require a tally of the true financial and human costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It’s clear that even the enormous appropriations – $1.28 trillion over the past ten years – are dwarfed by the actual costs. If the real costs were known, would that prompt Congress to demand the speedier removal of American troops?
Early in the process
| Nearing the tipping point in the United States?
With Tahrir Square in mind, activist groups and individuals, some of them well known, are planning ongoing, nonviolent protests in Washington, D.C., starting in October. Their goal is to end the war in Afghanistan and work for sharp change in domestic policies. The mainstream media are not seen as friends, exactly.
Reporting the endgame
| Bagram prison, bigger than Guantanamo, its prisoners in limbo, cries out for some news coverage
Some 1,700 detainees are being held with no charges, no trial, no way to prove their innocence despite a Marine Corps general's 2009 report saying many should be released. In addition, there has been almost no in-depth news coverage of practices that, if widely known, would no doubt add to the call for removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and criticism of the government’s conduct of the war.
Reporting the endgame
| Why stay in Afghanistan if the reasons for being there no longer exist?
The core assumption for having U.S. troops in Afghanistan is that by keeping al Qaeda out, we block a national security threat to America. It's time the press challenged that assumption because it is very, very vulnerable -- and likely flat-out wrong, as John Hanrahan reports in an interview with Paul Pillar, a leading intelligence community expert. This is the first in a new Nieman Watchdog series, 'Reporting the endgame.'
| In Australia, after bin Laden
COMMENTARY| May 03, 2011
A generally low-key reaction to the jihadist's death. And, as in the U.S., a push in some quarters for more dialogue on pulling out of Afghanistan -- but not among the nation's top leaders. Aussies make up the largest non-NATO contingent in Afghanistan, about 1,500 troops.
| What about drones now? What about Afghanistan?
With bin Laden gone, isn’t it time for serious discussion of an Afghanistan war pullout? And how much of a new honeymoon period does President Obama earn, if any, for the military’s incredibly precise 40-minute maneuver?
| The case for a slow pullout from Afghanistan
Despite lopsided, growing public opposition to the war, former ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann holds that it would be dangerous for American troops to leave soon. "The thing to watch is the next year," Neumann says.
A rare unifying force
| America, Afghanistan, and the Facebook revolutions
As the rebellions that began in Tunisia and Egypt keep spreading and the vast power of mobilized public opinion becomes more and more apparent, it seems only a matter of time before anti-war dissenters (the majority of Americans) get in on the act and move to end U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.
| No enthusiasm for this war
If the American public isn't behind the war effort, then it won't succeed, writes William Astore. And if the war in Afghanistan isn't going to succeed, then isn't it time to withdraw?
| Restore the draft to provide a real referendum on wars
The all-volunteer military has developed into an American version of the French Foreign Legion, writes George Wilson. A national draft, with a cross-section of all Americans serving, would force leaders to think harder about fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere.
The risk has never been greater
| Murdering with impunity: the dramatic rise in the slaying of reporters
More journalists were killed in 2009 than ever before and most were deliberately targeted. The majority of victims since 1992 have been beat reporters doing their job -- not investigative reporters or ones who died in combat. In Afghanistan, outright homicides account for 59 percent of journalists killed since 1992. In Iraq, 63 percent of journalists killed since the US-led invasion in 2003 were murdered.
| Building up, not drawing down, in Afghanistan
Nick Turse writes that reporters should be asking: How permanent are U.S. bases in Afghanistan? And if they are not meant to be used for a decade or more to come, why is the Pentagon still building them as if they were?
George Wilson’s column
| Not spending $1 trillion on Afghanistan?
President Obama reportedly said he’s not about to spend a trillion dollars on Afghanistan. George Wilson recommends that he take a look at a new Congressional Research Service report, or at the writings of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.
How long will allies stay the course?
| Afghanistan and the U.S. from afar: Doubts on the rise
On this 9/11 anniversary, writer Bill Claiborne surveys Australia’s and other small countries’ changing views of the Afghanistan war. One difference: the Vietnam-era word 'quagmire' is being heard more and more.
George Wilson’s column
| Targeted assassinations abroad could lead to a police state at home
Retaliation is a chilling but real possibility, writes George Wilson, and it might bring about drastic losses of freedoms we now take for granted. Are we sowing the seeds for our own destruction as a democracy?
| The real story behind Time’s Afghan woman cover: American complicity
The repressive and misogynistic forces the picture depicts are the very ones that were bolstered by U.S. policy in the early 1980s, and again now. The head of Jobs for Afghans proposes an answer to 'warlordism' and its medieval attitude toward women.
Buy his book
| The essential, undistractable Engelhardt
The editor of TomDispatch.com is out with a new book that offers a lucid unifying theory of what went wrong in post-9/11 America. In short, the country became addicted to war.
What's the mission?
| Possibly seeking the impossible
ASK THIS| July 20, 2010
The American effort in Afghanistan is doomed if the Afghans don’t share our goals, and if the Taliban have a sanctuary in Pakistan. Are we prepared to stay there as long as it takes?
George Wilson’s column
| Is Petraeus figuring on perpetual war?
In his confirmation testimony, General David Petraeus said the U.S. would allow no sanctuaries for al Qaida or other extremist elements, anywhere. Just what does that mean? Does it mean U.S. troops in Yemen, for example?
No end in sight
| Is there no end to Operation Enduring War?
Seven reasons our nation's elites can't seem to stop making war -- and seven ways to turn things around.
| A tough look at McChrystal was long overdue
Michael Hastings's Rolling Stone report has brought new, much-needed, continuing focus on the war in Afghanistan. But the tour-de-force doesn't sit well with some in the mainstream media – and that doesn't sit well with writer Charles Kaiser.
| Afghanistan’s mineral wealth won’t help Afghanistan or the U.S. -- but it might help China
The Chinese won’t hesitate to pay off the people who need to get paid off in order to get access to Afghanistan's natural resources, says author and professor Michael Klare. But the Afghan people and the American people have nothing to celebrate.
Obama's Afghan strategy
| A war that only the War Machine could love
President Obama's Afghanistan war strategy is failing everyone except his enemies and the profiteers. Author Ann Jones writes that the war is generating immense sums of money for relatively small numbers of people, along with immense debt for our nation, immense sacrifice from our combat soldiers, and intense despair for ordinary Afghans.
George Wilson’s column
| The ‘white feather' problem in Afghanistan
COMMENTARY| June 22, 2010
Getting in was easy. Getting out is another question. And in the U.S. Senate, there is a great divide between those who want a lesser American role and those, who like McCain, want “the president to state unequivocally that we will stay in Afghanistan until we succeed.”
| Will not one but two Guantanamos define the American future?
There is no sign that the notorious eight-year-old detention facility in Cuba is close to a shut down. And worse yet, writes torture expert Karen Greenberg, when it does close it may be replaced by two Guantanamos -- one in Illinois and the other in Afghanistan. That's not the way out of the quagmire of incarceration that the Bush administration mired us in.
| In Afghanistan, an unending cycle of drugs and death
A historian of the drug trade writes that Afghanistan's status as the world's No. 1 narco-state is a big reason why Obama's war is doomed.
| U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan are committing atrocities, lying, and getting away with it
The New York Times
has now confirmed a gruesome cover-up by U.S. forces in Afghanistan -- a story broken by Jerome Starkey in the Times of London
last month. It turns out that not only did American Special Operations soldiers slaughter three women in a nighttime raid in February -- they actually dug bullets out of the women's bodies as part of a cover-up. In an essay for Nieman Watchdog, Starkey writes that U.S. and NATO forces are rarely held to account for the atrocities they commit because most reporters are too dependent on access, security and the 'embed culture' to venture out and see what's happening for themselves.
| Digging in for the long haul in Afghanistan
Nick Turse answers questions about his recent finding that there are nearly 400 U.S. and coalition military bases in Afghanistan, what that says about our occupation and our military strategy, and the indirect and direct costs to the American taxpayers. It's a big story most Americans know nothing about.
George Wilson's column
| Tell us again, please: What’s the reason we’re in Afghanistan?
During the Vietnam war an American army lieutenant colonel told George Wilson, ““Maybe if we can’t explain this war, we shouldn’t be here.” Wilson says that President Obama should substitute Afghanistan for Vietnam and take that message very seriously.
No money, no food, no fuel
| New survey tells it like it is in Afghanistan: Primitive
The latest poll by ABC News, BBC and ARD German TV shows disgust with corruption, anger at the Taliban, and widespread poverty almost beyond the imagination of Americans.
Calling Isaac Asimov
| War of the robots -- all too real questions we have to ask
Defense expert and author P. W. Singer writes that robotics is a game-changer on the battlefield and elsewhere -- but there's been remarkably little public discussion of what the rules should be, or how this will affect our lives.
| Ten questions about the U.S.'s intensifying war efforts in the year to come
Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse wonder what the American way of war might have in store for us in 2010. Answers to their questions might offer reasonable hints about how much U.S. war efforts are likely to intensify in the Greater Middle East, as well as Central and South Asia, in the year to come.
| The flaws in Obama’s Afghan plan are right there in the open
Journalists don't need to dig far to find the self-deception at the heart of Obama's Afghan surge: A little Googling is all it takes to see that his hopes for the Afghan forces are absurdly high.
George Wilson’s column
| We’ve said what we’re going to do in Afghanistan. Now, how will the Taliban and al Qaida respond?
President Obama is going to start hearing this question every day for a long time: ‘Why are we still fighting in Afghanistan when we have so many other problems at home?’
Which way in Afghanistan?
Not much press coverage, either | 'There hasn't been two seconds of intelligent discussion about living standards in Afghanistan'|
The poverty in Afghanistan is almost beyond imagining. Thirty Afghans die from TB every day; life expectancy is 43 years; per capita income is $426; only 13% have access to sanitary drinking water; conditions for women are brutal. If Obama plans to address these issues, he's keeping it secret. But without addressing them, can stepped-up American military involvement succeed? Or is it bound to fail?
| Tough questions for Obama -- from Obama
The last time a president sent more troops to war while claiming his commitment wasn't open-ended, a young senator from Illinois responded with the proper skepticism and excellent questions.
| The Pentagon's building boom in Afghanistan indicates a long war ahead
The Pentagon has been funneling stimulus-sized sums of money to defense contractors to markedly boost its military infrastructure in Afghanistan, writes Nick Turse.
‘My daddy’s not dead yet’
| What's the exit strategy? Is this a war without end?
Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, regrets playing go-along politics in voting to authorize the Iraq war in 2002. ’I profess to be a man of faith,’ he told George C. Wilson, ‘but I didn’t vote my conscience.’ Jones says there will be no ‘go-along’ vote for him on sending additional troops to Afghanistan.
Twisting the news
| A history of failed press coverage of Afghanistan
For decades, the American news media by and large have been simplistic and misleading in reporting U.S. relations toward Afghanistan, write Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould. From 1981 on, they say, the press has kept vital information away from the American people.
| For Obama, the clock is ticking on Afghanistan
COMMENTARY| September 30, 2009
It would be ticking faster if, as during the Vietnam war, the U.S. had a military draft and millions of protesters, writes George C. Wilson. But it's ticking nevertheless.
The overseas press
| Afghanistan, the black hole
The international press, far and wide, views Afghanistan as Obama’s Vietnam, with the same result expected. Some urge a U.S. pullout, others see the war spreading into Pakistan.
The Pentagon Wishful Thinking
| Is the Afghan army just a figment of Washington's imagination?
Back from visiting U.S. training programs for the Afghan army and police, author Ann Jones describes the realities that belie the Obama administration's wishful thinking.
The overseas press
Learning from history | Questions that need to be asked about Afghanistan|
Congress and the press didn’t ask presidents, military leaders or secretaries of state hard questions that might have led them to avoid the quagmires in Vietnam and Iraq, writes George C. Wilson, and he poses some hard questions that need to be asked – and answered – about Afghanistan.
| Afghanistan is seen as poisoning the Obama presidency
The overseas press: Der Spiegel says it’s Obama’s war and a time for “unsparing self-criticism;” al Aribiya says any hope of military victory in Afghanistan is a pipedream. But Pakistan’s Daily Times says “retreat is not an option.”
Physicians for Human Rights ask:
| What’s happening in the Afghan massacre probe?
In 2001, possibly as many as 2,000 Taliban and other captured fighters were suffocated in container trucks and then buried in a mass grave. Investigations were said to be thwarted during the Bush presidency. President Obama has ordered fact-finding. So what’s the status, and what has been found out thus far?
| Three good reasons to liquidate our empire
Author Chalmers Johnson, who has written extensively about the dangers of militarism, offers a 10-step plan to bring our troops home and close our vast, potentially ruinous global empire of military bases.
George Wilson's column
| Afghanistan is Obama’s war. What’s he going to do with it?
General McChrystal wants far more Afghan security forces than planned so that they can fight their own war. Is that just setting the stage, a la
Vietnam, for putting pressure on President Obama to escalate the American troop involvement?
Body counts return
| The wrong metrics in Afghanistan
Using growing body counts as a measure of military success was discredited during the Vietnam War -- and shouldn't be revived in Afghanistan. A former Air Force officer suggests three alternative metrics for assessing the progress – or lack thereof – in Afghanistan.
The Afghan quagmire
| Obama's non-exit strategy
George Wilson sees echoes of Vietnam in Obama’s decision to send more American troops to Afghanistan. Will that be followed by our commanders requesting more and more military power for an impossible mission? Will Afghanistan ruin Obama's presidency the way Vietnam ruined Lyndon Johnson's?
| Locked into an expanding war in Afghanistan
The appointment of a new Afghan commander with great press clippings but a deeply troubling record suggests the Obama administration is going for broke in the region. TomDispatch.com founder Tom Engelhardt warns, however, that the application of force has failed for years -- and when things don't go according to plan, Obama may find himself locked into an escalation without end.
The Af-Pak War
| Seven lessons and many questions about Afghanistan
A former Air Force officer revisits Mary McCarthy’s unconventional and insightful analyses of the Vietnam War – and comes up with probing questions based on her 40-year-old lessons that are well worth asking Obama today about his ever-deepening involvement in Afghanistan.
The overseas press
| Obama's plan for Afghanistan, as seen from abroad
There is some skepticism but overall a sense that he is taking appropriate steps to engage the international community.
The new administration
| Is Bagram Obama's Guantanamo?
The first and last legacy of the Bush detention era is the prison at Bagram Air Base. But torture expert Karen Greenberg writes that there are no signs so far that the Obama administration is going to make any changes there. And still unclear: Who is being held there? Are they classified as 'prisoners of war' or as Bushian 'unlawful enemy combatants'? How are they being treated?
The overseas press
| Afghanistan as Obama's Iraq, or Vietnam
The international media tend to be pessimistic about Obama sending in more troops and are divided on whether their contries should send more also.
The other war
| What's the plan in Afghanistan?
Even as President Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan, a former CIA station chief raises questions about the administration's goals there, and whether they are remotely achievable.
An Afghan face on the war is needed
| 'Ain't no education in the second kick of a mule'
Military affairs writer George Wilson sees Defense Sec. Gates as being on a mission to keep Congress, the White House and the Pentagon from repeating mistakes of the past in Afghanistan.
| Finding better ways to fight terror
The Bush approach to counterterrorism has been counterproductive. But Obama may need to rethink a few things himself, writes a former CIA station chief.
| In Afghanistan, a surge that failed
The Afghan war will be won by giving people hope. But the surge of U.S. and NATO troops in 2007 had the opposite effect, writes Christian Science Monitor correspondent Anand Gopal. More troops meant more targets for Taliban fighters and suicide bombers. International forces retaliated with massive aerial bombing campaigns and large-scale house raids. And the resulting civilian carnage played right into the hands of our enemies.
| Are we bombing our way to disaster in Afghanistan?
A new report suggests that the massive increase in the amount of munitions being fired or dropped in Afghanistan has fueled popular anger -- and the Taliban resurgence. Its co-authors wonder what our goals are, and whether our tactics are likely to achieve them.
History repeating itself
| Afghanistan makes Iraq look easy
A former CIA station chief writes that Obama and McCain should think again if they believe nation-building in Afghanistan can be achieved without an enormous cost in blood and treasure. History suggests otherwise.
| How a superpower can end up losing to the little guys
A Harvard scholar explores the implications of his recent research on asymmetric conflicts, which shows that strong actors are losing to the weak more and more often over time, and gleans some important lessons about the United States and Iraq. (First of two parts.)
A Nieman Reports preview
| Independent reporting drew Army coverup, secrecy, delays
Officials in the U.S. military, from the Pentagon on down, tried to thwart reporters for the L.A. Times who uncovered deaths and possible torture of detainees in Afghanistan.