Thursday, August 12, 2021

Biden Must Stop Bombing Afghan Cities


American flag is lowered as U.S. soldiers leave Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, May 2, 2021. Photo: Afghan Ministry of Defense Press Office.

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies

CODEPINK via LA Progressive

Nine provincial capitals in Afghanistan have fallen to the Taliban in six days – Zaranj, Sheberghan, Sar-e-Pul, Kunduz, Taloqan, Aybak, Farah, Pul-e-Khumri and Faizabad – while fighting continues in four more – Lashkargah, Kandahar, Herat & Mazar-i-Sharif. U.S. military officials now believe Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, could fall in one to three months. 

It is horrific to watch the death, destruction and mass displacement of thousands of terrified Afghans and the triumph of the misogynist Taliban that ruled the nation 20 years ago. But the fall of the centralized, corrupt government propped up by the Western powers was inevitable, whether this year, next year or ten years from now.  

President Biden has reacted to America’s snowballing humiliation in the graveyard of empires by once again dispatching U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to Doha to urge the government and the Taliban to seek a political solution, while at the same time dispatching  B-52 bombers to attack at least two of these provincial capitals.

In Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, the bombing has already reportedly destroyed a high school and a health clinic. Another B-52 bombed Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan province and the home of the infamous warlord and accused war criminal Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is now the military commander of the U.S.-backed government’s armed forces. 

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that U.S. Reaper drones and AC-130 gunships are also still operating in Afghanistan. 

The rapid disintegration of the Afghan forces that the U.S. and its Western allies have recruited, armed and trained for 20 years at a cost of about $90 billion should come as no surprise.

The rapid disintegration of the Afghan forces that the U.S. and its Western allies have recruited, armed and trained for 20 years at a cost of about $90 billion should come as no surprise. On paper, the Afghan National Army has 180,000 troops, but in reality most are unemployed Afghans desperate to earn some money to support their families but not eager to fight their fellow Afghans. The Afghan Army is also notorious for its corruption and mismanagement. 

The army and the even more beleaguered and vulnerable police forces that man isolated outposts and checkpoints around the country are plagued by high casualties, rapid turnover and desertion. Most troops feel no loyalty to the corrupt U.S.-backed government and routinely abandon their posts, either to join the Taliban or just to go home. 

When the BBC asked General Khoshal Sadat, the national police chief, about the impact of high casualties on police recruitment in February 2020, he cynically replied, “When you look at recruitment, I always think about the Afghan families and how many children they have. The good thing is there is never a shortage of fighting-age males who will be able to join the force.” (Continued)

Sunday, August 1, 2021

The First Atomic Bombs: The End of WWII or the Start of the Cold War


Invitation to an online talk

Monday, August 9, 2021 - 1:00pm

Gar Alperovitz

Following on his August 8 talk at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on the moral aspects of the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 76 years ago, Gar Alperovitz will look at the geopolitical implications of that fateful decision. Was it the opening shot in the Cold War, designed to send a message to the Soviet Union? It established U.S. dominance in the Pacific and put the U.S. in a powerful position to shape post-war Europe. A nuclear arms race was soon to follow as tensions grew between the two former allies. Some have argued that the existence of nuclear weapons and the fear of nuclear annihilation helped prevent military conflict between the US and USSR during the Cold War. But smaller proxy wars killed millions in the global South and wasted trillions of dollars of resources, leaving us all less secure.

In recent years the public has become aware of the existential threat climate change presents for humanity. But how about the threat of nuclear war and the nuclear winter that will surely follow? Billions of people will either be annihilated instantly or face slow starvation as agriculture collapses. Today humanity urgently needs nuclear disarmament. Yet most of the treaties that had limited nuclear weapons have been cast aside by President Trump and the Biden Administration is increasing our nuclear arsenal, threatening a new arms race. With a new Cold War developing with China and maybe Russia, the importance of treaties limiting nuclear weapons becomes clearer. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has now set their doomsday clock at 100 seconds before midnight. The need for citizen action is urgent.

Gar Alperovitz is a distinguished historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official. For fifteen years, he served as the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University; Harvard’s Institute of Politics; the Institute for Policy Studies; and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution. He is a co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative, a research institution developing practical, policy-focused, and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth. He is also the co-chair of The Next System Project, a project of The Democracy Collaborative. He was the architect of the first modern steel industry attempt at worker ownership in Youngstown, Ohio. Among his many books are The Next American Revolution: Beyond Corporate Capitalism and State Socialism and Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth. His earlier books include Atomic Diplomacy and The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth.