Afghan Civilians Are Likely Targets


Glen Greenwald in one of his articles asks who is this Lara Dadkhah whose editorial appears in a recent edition of the New York Times in which she says

American and NATO military leaders — worried by Taliban propaganda claiming that air strikes have killed an inordinate number of civilians, and persuaded by “hearts and minds” enthusiasts that the key to winning the war is the Afghan population’s goodwill — have largely relinquished the strategic advantage of American air dominance.

So in a modern refashioning of the obvious — that war is harmful to civilian populations — the United States military has begun basing doctrine on the premise that dead civilians are harmful to the conduct of war. The trouble is, no past war has ever supplied compelling proof of that claim.

In Marja, American and Afghan troops have shown great skill in routing the Taliban occupiers. But news reports indicate that our troops under heavy attack have had to wait an hour or more for air support, so that insurgents could be positively identified. “We didn’t come to Marja to destroy it, or to hurt civilians,” a Marine officer told reporters after waiting 90 minutes before the Cobra helicopters he had requested showed up with their Hellfire missiles. He’s right that the goal is not to kill bystanders or destroy towns, but an overemphasis on civilian protection is now putting American troops on the defensive in what is intended to be a major offensive.

There is also little to indicate that the “hearts and minds” campaign has resulted in the population’s cooperation, especially in the all-important area of human intelligence. Afghans can be expected to cooperate with American forces only if they feel safe to do so — when we take permanent control of an area. Obviously, this involves defeating the enemy. With NATO intelligence services recently noting that the Taliban still have a “shadow government” in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, it’s hard to say we’re close to accomplishing that feat. Just last month, the Taliban set off a series of bombs in the heart of Kabul; the insurgents, it appears, no longer need to winter in Pakistan.

It is that realization that the Taliban controls a majority of Afghani territory that has forced Hamid Karzai, the US installed president to reach out to them and attempt to bring them into his government; it was this fact on the ground that had the US Defense Secretary say in a visit to Afghanistan that the Taliban are a part of the fabric of that country, it is that reality that until recently had the US attempting to negotiate with the Taliban as well.  In a Miscellany101 article earlier this week, we linked to a story that said the US sought to ally itself with the number 2 man in the Taliban hierarchy but had their move countered by Pakistani intelligence which it seems is now able to insert itself in the best interest of the United States…..go figure.  Dadkhah still has it wrong however when she/he(?) somehow implies the US is more concerned with civilian casualties than its own forces.  America has had unrestricted access over the skies of Pakistan and Afghanistan with drone aircraft and missiles of all types and descriptions, intermingled with the grisly deaths of civilians that occur at the hands of soldiers on the ground, and if Dadkhah has any illusions NATO/US forces are concerned with civilian casualties, then this article should put those rumors to rest.

…..NATO took the exact opposite approach with Sunday’s Marjah killings, revising their story to insist the killings were not an equipment error, but were part of a deliberate US targeting of a house full of civilians.

The initial story on Sunday was that the US troops tried to fire the rockets at suspected militants resisting the US-led invasion of the town. NATO claimed the rocket malfunctioned and veered 300 meters off course, destroying a house full of women and children…….NATO announced today that the HiMARS did not malfunction, and the missile hit the house deliberately. Officials are now suggesting that there may have been militants in or near the house, though there appears to be no evidence of that and only civilians were killed in the house’s destruction.

So it would appear people are heeding Ms. Dhadkha’s advice after all and prosecuting this war full speed ahead, civilian casualties be damned.  The other issue however is how does someone so well unknown get to put such a provocative op-ed in such a prestigious newspaper as the New York Times?  Working for a defense contractor helps, no doubt.

Republicans: Party of Sleaze and Racist/Ethno baiters


It didn’t take long for the Republicans to descend to the depths of sleaze and racialism when it comes to the economic problems affecting our country.  They’ve been wallowing around in the basement of racism and Islamophobia for the last eight years, frightening people with their ‘there’s a terrorist around every corner’ mantra.  For a very brief moment I thought they would take the high ground about our economic woes and say something like it’s time to tighten our belts, work together to solve this because  bigger government is not the answer.  For awhile they came across making that point,

It’s absurd, and at its heart, it’s un-American, in the sense that America exists precisely because of our desire to rein in government and make it accountable to the people…….Only in a panic, in which Congressional leadership abdicates its role to keep executive power in check, would any American Congress agree to surrender its Constitutional mandate for oversight. And that panic may be taking place now.

Well that sounds so very, very good and it’s a spot on analysis of what’s happening with this Administration’s attempts to push through as quickly as possible measures that would make the executive more distant and removed from the Constitution and more powerful than the Founding Fathers ever envisioned.  But……..well let’s just say, the problem with the above pronouncement is it’s totally against everything THE REPUBLICAN PARTY has stood for these last eight years.  Republicans may believe what was written by the author quoted above, but the party’s position is much more blatant in scope and encompassing in power.  There hasn’t been a single initiative undertaken by THE PARTY which was designed to limit ITS power.  Everything was done to increase power and the economic bailout is just another in a long series of power grabs.  Again, blogger and constitutional lawyer Glen Greenwald does an excellent job citing the hypocrisy of THE PARTY in his blog which I encourage all to read.

I’ve been watching Republican Party politics from the vantage point of a state that welcomed and endorsed and then elected one of the biggest race baiters of all times. He’s passed on now so I won’t speak ill of the dead, but Jesse Helms honed race baiting to a science that got him elected to the US Senate six times and in the process passed on that skill to THE PARTY which has gradually adopted it over the years.  Well, it’s come to fruition.  Leaving the high road of less government, THE PARTY descended to claiming the problem with the economy is because of black people and the employment of people of color in the banking sector.  Yup, you heard it right.  Minorities are the reasons why the United States is in the situation it’s in now.  Oh, and we have to blame Clinton in there somewhere.  Why all the drubbing Clinton gets from Republicans eight years after leaving office, it’s amazing he would say anything nice about John McCain, but that’s for another blog.  Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) citied an article which appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, which states

Clinton saw homeownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class.

Though well-intended, the problem was that Congress was about to change hands, from the Democrats to the Republicans. Rather than submit legislation that the GOP-led Congress was almost sure to reject, Clinton ordered Robert Rubin’s Treasury Department to rewrite the rules in 1995.

The rewrite, as City Journal noted back in 2000, “made getting a satisfactory CRA rating harder.” Banks were given strict new numerical quotas and measures for the level of “diversity” in their loan portfolios. Getting a good CRA rating was key for a bank that wanted to expand or merge with another.

Loans started being made on the basis of race, and often little else.

“Bank examiners would use federal home-loan data, broken down by neighborhood, income group and race, to rate banks on performance,” wrote Howard Husock, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute.

*snip*

From 1995 to 2005, a Harvard study shows, minorities made up 49% of the 12.5 million new homeowners.

The problem is that many of those loans have now gone bad, and minority homeownership rates are shrinking fast.

Fannie and Freddie, with their massive loan portfolios stuffed with securitized mortgage-backed paper created from subprime loans, are a failed legacy of the Clinton era.

So, there you have it.  Minorities defaulted on their home loans and that’s why banks and investment houses are going under.  Opps….that’s why banks are going under.  There’s this snippet from The National Review Online which takes things a step further by implying that banks that hired a racially diverse staff were the types of banks that failed.  Minorities aren’t good at math and computing, so goes the theory. Now my question is how does a federal government that’s spending billions of dollars a month on the occupation of two foreign countries, one of which had absolutely nothing to do with the tragic events of 911, come up with $700 billion to bail out ANYONE!?? One could make the proposition that it is us who need a bail out, but that’s another crisis which will surely be solved by increased federal power, spending and risks to the public.  Suffice it to say, one of the plans being tossed around will increase the national debt to $11.3 trillion.  (What’s a few trillion among tax payers?)

So we’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in THE REPUBLICAN PARTY’s opposition to the initial Bush bailout plan and instead chosen to draw lines according to race and divisiveness.  Guess that comes natural for the GOP.