The War in Afghanistan Is Still Not Going Well, Forcing Washington to Order Yet Another Review of U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

matthewaid:

July 10, 2018

After discouraging year, U.S. officials expect review of Afghan strategy

Reuters

July 10, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told Reuters, a year after President Donald Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the coalition forces at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

Officials said Trump has shown signs of frustration over the lack of progress since he unveiled a strategy last August that committed to an open-ended deployment of U.S. military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan security forces. The goal was to force the Taliban militants to open peace talks with the Kabul government.

Trump was opposed to remaining in America’s longest war, but was convinced by his advisers to give it more time. He authorized last year the deployment an additional 3,000 U.S. troops, bringing the total to around 15,000.

Nearly a year later, the current situation is in a stalemate in which Afghan civilians are paying a heavy toll, the Taliban are expanding in rural areas but are unable to capture major urban centers and the capability of Afghan security forces remains in doubt.

Several current U.S. officials and other former officials and advisers with direct knowledge said the White House had not yet formally ordered the review, but they were preparing for a government-wide appraisal in the next few months.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

“We’ve received some indications from the White House that Trump could ask for a review in the next few months. So we’re preparing for what it would look like,” said a senior U.S. official.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

The review would examine all facets of the current strategy, including what progress had been made, the U.S. troops presence, and prospect of negotiations with the Taliban. It also would include U.S. relations with Pakistan, which U.S. officials accuse of supporting the insurgents, the senior official said. Islamabad denies the charge.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

LONGEST WAR

U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban government for harboring al-Qaeda.

Since then, nearly 1,900 U.S. troops have been killed in the war, even as corruption remains endemic in the country and security remains precarious. A recent U.S. government watchdog report found that the Afghan government controlled or influenced only 56 percent of country.

Trump has vented over the lack of progress in Afghanistan, other officials told Reuters, also on the condition of anonymity.

“The president has asked repeatedly what progress we’ve made in Afghanistan since he made his decision, and how much we’ve invested there since 2001,” said one senior official with first-hand knowledge of the ongoing debate over Afghan policy.

“He’s voiced his frustration about the lack of progress many, many times, basically asking ‘What have we got for all that money?’”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the coalition forces at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan July 9, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said that if there had meaningful progress in Afghanistan, a review would be unlikely.

“The administration could essentially say (after the review) that the conditions have not improved on the ground, so what is the reason to stay,” Kugelman said.

It is not unprecedented for the White House to request such an internal review. Officials said a similar review was carried out after President Barack Obama unveiled an Afghanistan strategy in 2009.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Monday, promised support for President Ashraf Ghani’s bid to start peace talks with the Taliban and repeated the United States would be willing to take part.

He said the strategy announced last year was working, and would reassure Afghans “that we will support them as they continue fighting to liberate their country and their people.”

Link

Globalization has come to Ethiopia in the form of the garment industry. This time it looks shiny, is housed in robust buildings and even uses renewable energy – because it is cheap. Still, the tradition of a much-less-than-living wage for the workers is maintained, as is the tradition of taking advantage of the host country’s need for development to strong-arm it into providing special benefits and breaks.

This is a “fascinating” glimpse of how globalization comes to be implemented in the Global South. The immediate effect on the local economy turns out to be undesirable for all parties – some more than others of course.

Ethiopia Touts Good Conditions in Factories for Brands Like H&M and Calvin Klein, but Workers Scrape By on $1 a Day

Link

In its investigation, the United Nations found government forces and
those aligned with them killed at least 232 civilians and raped 120
women and girls in a recent spate of attacks on opposition-held
villages, in what may amount to war crimes. Dozens of those killed —
including children, the disabled and the elderly — were burned alive. At
least one of the gang-rape victims was as young as 6. Opposition troops
were also responsible for killing a number of civilians, and the
investigation identified three individuals who the report says bear the
“greatest responsibility” for the violent incidents the United Nations
documented.

South Sudanese troops raped and killed hundreds in recent attacks, U.N. investigation finds

Link

Qatar donated $250,000 to some of the most extreme pro-Israel
organizations in the United States, including one that funds senior
Israeli military officers to go on propaganda tours.

Joseph Allaham, a lobbyist working for the Qatari government,
transferred the money through his firm Lexington Strategies in late 2017
and early 2018.

The sums included $100,000 to the Zionist Organization of America
(ZOA), $100,000 to Our Soldiers Speak and $50,000 for Blue Diamond
Horizons, Inc.

Our Soldiers Speak describes itself
as the “vehicle through which the IDF [Israeli army] and the Israeli
National Police dispatch senior officers to select campuses overseas”
and to give “briefings” to members of the US Congress.

Blue Diamond Horizons is a company controlled by Mike Huckabee, the Christian Zionist former governor of Arkansas.

Qatar funded Zionist Organization of America

Link

Are immigration officials allowed to stop people in places wholly inside the U.S.?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency tasked with patrolling the U.S. border and areas that function like a border, claims a territorial reach much larger than you might imagine. A federal law says that, without a warrant, CBP can board vehicles and vessels and search for people without immigration documentation “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.” These “external boundaries” include international land borders but also the entire U.S. coastline.

What is a “reasonable distance”?

The federal government defines a “reasonable distance” as 100 air miles from any external boundary of the U.S. So, combining this federal regulation and the federal law regarding warrantless vehicle searches, CBP claims authority to board a bus or train without a warrant anywhere within this 100-mile zone. Two-thirds of the U.S. population, or about 200 million people, reside within this expanded border region, according to the 2010 census. Most of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, fall in this region. Some states, like Florida, lie entirely within this border band so their entire populations are impacted.

Your Rights in the Border Zone

Link

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/ice-take-action

Immigrant and civil rights groups have never seen anything like this. Infants and children are being ripped from their mother’s arms as they enter the United States.

In one case in Arizona, a 53 week old infant was recently in court without a parent. These are children and families seeking asylum from Central America and Africa―from violence in their home countries.

In a recent interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called this policy a “tough deterrent.” But the motives of the White House are clear: To punish immigrant families.

Now, the ACLU is suing the U.S. government to reunite these families.

Stand with us to demand that the Trump administration and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stop its assault on immigrant families. Demand that children and parents be immediately reunited.

Take Action: The Trump administration MUST stop ripping families apart at the border

BREAKING: Internal emails prove that FCC lied to reporters about alleged DDoS attack that blocked net neutrality comments

fight4future:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 5, 2018
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Congress must pass the CRA to reverse illegitimate repeal

Gizmodo has obtained internal emails that prove once and for all that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intentionally misled journalists about a alleged DDoS attack that prevented net neutrality supporters from submitting comments immediately following viral segments of the issue by comedian John Oliver.

Fight for the Future has played a leading role debunking the FCC’s dubious claims about these attacks, and shining a light on the rampant issues of fraud and abuse that have plagued Ajit Pai’s agency’s net neutrality repeal process. The group released the following statement, which can be attributed to deputy director, Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):

“This is a smoking gun. The FCC lied to reporters, and to Congress, in order to obscure the fact that they utterly failed to maintain a legitimate public comment process, as they are legally required to do, in their net neutrality repeal proceeding.

Overseeing the FCC is Congress’ job. They need to do their job and pass the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to reverse the agency’s illegitimate and unpopular decision. Voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose the gutting of net neutrality. No one wants their cable company controlling what they can see and do on the Internet.

Inaction is unacceptable. Any member of Congress who remains silent and fails to sign the discharge petition should prepare to face the Internet’s wrath come election time.”

Fight for the Future and other groups are planning mass online actions to coincide with the official date that the FCC repeal goes into effect.

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