Category : War in Afghanistan

(NYT) Taliban Close to Overtaking Afghan Provincial Capital, Officials Say

Taliban insurgents on Thursday were on the verge of overrunning the southern city of Tirin Kot, the capital of Oruzgan Province, Afghan officials and local elders said.

Dost Mohammad Nayab, a spokesman for the governor of Oruzgan, said that all security posts around the city had been overrun by the Taliban and that the insurgents had started firing on the police headquarters and the governor’s compound.

“The security forces are engaged with the Taliban inside the city, and fighting is ongoing,” Mr. Nayab said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, Violence, War in Afghanistan

(FP) Stephen Walt-the Collapse of the Liberal World Order

When matters didn’t go quite so smoothly, and when some groups in these liberal societies were in fact harmed by these developments, a degree of backlash was inevitable. It didn’t help that elites in many liberal countries made some critical blunders, including the creation of the euro, the invasion of Iraq, the misguided attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. These and other mistakes helped undermine the legitimacy of the post-Cold War order, open the door to illiberal forces, and left some segments of society vulnerable to nativist appeals.

Efforts to spread a liberal world order also faced predictable opposition from the leaders and groups who were directly threatened by our efforts. It was hardly surprising that Iran and Syria did what they could to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because the George W. Bush administration had made it clear these regimes were on its hit list, too. Similarly, is it that hard to fathom why Chinese and Russian leaders find Western efforts to spread “liberal” values threatening, or why they have taken various steps to forestall them?

Liberals also forgot that successful liberal societies require more than the formal institutions of democracy. They also depend on a broad and deep commitment to the underlying values of a liberal society….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Iraq War, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(W Post) What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq War, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(LA Times) Outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan warns of worsening security

The outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan warned Congress on Tuesday that security there will deteriorate further from a resurgent Taliban unless the U.S. military makes a long-term commitment to stay.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell, who has led the international force since August 2014, said the Afghan military is “uneven and inconsistent” on the battlefield and is beset by corruption. He said the central government in Kabul probably won’t be able to fully defend itself until the 2020s.

The warning is the latest from a U.S. military officer that suggests the Pentagon wants to reconsider President Obama’s plan to cut the current U.S. deployment of 9,800 military advisors and Special Operations troops in half by the time he leaves office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(LA Times) Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says attack on hospital was a mistake

Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress on Tuesday that the deadly U.S. airstrike on a civilian hospital in Kunduz was a mistake, but he declined to endorse calls for an outside investigation.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Campbell said the hospital was “mistakenly struck” and that the decision to carry out the attack was made through the U.S. military chain of command.

Campbell thus offered a further refinement of previous Pentagon claims. On Monday, he told reporters that Afghan forces had called in the airstrike. The Pentagon initially had said the attack by an AC-130 gunship was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

(Readers are cautioned about the difficult content in this–KSH.

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence, War in Afghanistan

(Washington Post) David Petraeus: ISIS isn’t the biggest problem in Iraq

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted ”” and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don’t know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's sermon at the Afghanistan service this past Friday

As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan ”“ forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations ”“ I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.

Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.

We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.

We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, War in Afghanistan

(PA) Royal Family to honour Afghan war veterans in a special service at Saint Paul's Cathedral today

Armed Forces charity bosses believe the full impact of the Afghanistan conflict is “yet to be seen” as the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and senior members of the Royal Family prepare for a service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry – who served two tours during the conflict – will also attend tomorrow’s ceremony, held to mark the end of combat operations in the country, honour veterans of the campaign and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives.

The families of some of those killed will also take part in the commemorations and v eterans of the 13-year campaign will march past the cathedral in a parade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(CSM) Afghanistan: US should 're-examine' withdrawing from country

Afghanistan’s president says that the US should “re-examine” its plans to withdraw its forces from his country, just days after the official end of combat operations there.

Last week, NATO forces closed down “Operation Enduring Freedom,” the campaign it has run in Afghanistan since 2001, in what The Christian Science Monitor described as “a small Sunday ceremony that made it clear that NATO was not interested in calling a great deal of attention to the occasion.”

Some 13,000 troops, mostly American, will remain in the country to help train Afghan forces and to conduct “counterterrorism” operations “against the remnants of Al Qaeda,” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. These forces in turn are due to withdraw by the end of 2016.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(Local Paper) Marine overcomes combat injuries, health issues to be a dad

It was the end of his sixth deployment, with barely a month left, the last mission at hand. And nothing was going right.

The best man in his wedding, a man he’d served with since entering the Marines, was hit by an explosive device, burning the man’s entire body and claiming three of his limbs.

Then, a helicopter crash killed two American servicemen and several Afghan forces.

Last came the ambush.

Read it all and you can find more about Operation Homefront there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(Der Spiegel) The Road to Bamiyan: A Public Works Debacle that Defines Afghanistan

[Vittorio] Roscio hasn’t visited the construction site for ages because it is too dangerous. Instead, he reads the reports here, behind the walls of the Italian government’s campus in Kabul. Over the years, the walls became thicker and thicker, the barbed wire higher and the security protocols stricter. In 2007, Rocio could still walk relatively freely through the streets of Kabul. Now, though, he climbs into a bullet-proof Toyota SUV even for the 30 meters to the Italian Embassy.

Like all international workers in Kabul, Roscio lives in the equivalent of a high security cage and is rarely allowed to go out. As such, his influence over the road to Bamiyan has fallen markedly over the years.

“It is unfortunately extremely difficult to understand Afghanistan from the perspective of Kabul,” Roscio says tiredly. “And it is completely impossible to understand Afghanistan from Europe or America. No chance.” He gets into one of the bullet-proof Toyotas and is driven to the Italian Embassy. The wall opens briefly to let him out and closes again immediately.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(CSM) Edward Girardet–Allowing Afghanistan's future to be hijacked

The West’s involvement in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has been dominated by one failed opportunity after another. Rather than focusing so massively on the military effort rather than well-informed and better-targeted recovery, for example, the international community could have made a significant difference by supporting a proposal made back in 2002, notably the introduction of electronic ID cards. But the idea was consistently ignored as “impractical.” And yet, in a society where mobile phones are now ubiquitous, it could have served as a relatively reliable voter ID, perhaps preventing stuffed ballots. It could also have helped monitor health, educational, and other crucial data, such as vaccination programs.

For Afghans, the elections are broadly perceived as their last chance before the bulk of foreign troops leave and global development commitment drops even further. Nevertheless, even though Afghans have traditionally proved adept at compromise, the voting abuses may have gone too far. People went to the polls to have their say. To have their vote turned into a shared coalition government primarily because of corruption and abuse of the voting process may only be sending the message that there is no point in democracy.

Yet this does not mean the West should abandon Afghanistan. The last time the West lost interest was after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. This led to a ruthless civil war during the early 1990s followed by the rise of the Taliban supported by Al Qaeda, Pakistan, and even the United States. By the time Washington understood what was happening, it was too late.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Religious Outreach to Veterans

War veterans return home from duty to the communities and families they left behind, but mental and emotional burdens often return with them. Decisions and experiences from the battlefield can lead to post traumatic stress and what is now being recognized as moral injury. The Department of Veterans Affairs is sharing its resources with faith groups to help those returning with deep moral wounds. “To rebuild a moral identity takes a community of support. It takes friends, and it takes a long time,” says Rita Nakashima Brock of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinty School. “There are no other institutions in our society that I know of except religious institutions that support people over their entire life course.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Mark Tooley–As attractive initially as it may be, Pacifism Does Not Honor Veterans

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and others across history had noble intent and, like all wars, had their share of tragic consequences. Even “good” wars are filled with suffering by the innocent. Wars are morally justified only when the alternatives are even worse.

Veterans in America’s wars, whether the volunteers of the last 40 years, or the draftees of earlier decades, were not “victims.” They were and are Americans who sacrificially served their country. They should be honored, not romanticized, nor condescended to.

Wallis suggests Memorial Day as a time for asking “hard questions about our wars, what we have learned, and whether such painful losses are truly worth the terrible cost.” Perhaps those questions should also include asking what the world might look like absent the service of America’s veterans and the willingness of America to resist aggression and tyranny.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iraq War, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan