Short Essay War Against Terrorism

The War Against Terrorism: The Taliban in Afghanistan

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Since 1996, the Taliban has created an environment of terror and disorder within the country of Afghanistan. Although terrorists within Afghanistan and of the Islam religion believe that they are justified in their actions, it is made clearly apparent that Terrorism must be stopped altogether.

Defining the Issue
Terrorism is translated to mean ‘army in the shadows’ and is defined as the threat or use of violence to win certain rewards or goals ( Dictionary.com, 2010). The earliest known Terrorist organization similar to those of today was the Zealots of Judea, formed when fanatics of the Jewish faith revolted against the of the Roman oppression. They carried on an underground campaign wherein they assassinated Roman occupation forces and Jews that they believed had collaborated with the Romans. However, the first time that the word ‘terrorism’ was used was during the French Revolution which is referred to as the ‘Reign of terror’. During this time the Jacobins who ruled with violence at that time, would sometimes refer to themselves as ‘terrorists’ (terrorism-research.com). Since then, there have been other leaders and people seeking power using terrorism as a weapon. These include the Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler, a man responsible for the murder of over 6 million people.
The Taliban itself took control of Afghanistan in 1996 and were in power until 2001. During this time however, they were not accepted by the world’s community because their policies were considered intolerable, primarily regarding their treatment of women and their support of Terrorism. They were removed from power in 2001 by America when they refused to give up Al Quada leader Osama bin Laden, who they were protecting after the 9/11 attacks (for which they were responsible). The members of the Taliban were one of the mujahidin (‘holy warriors’ or ‘freedom fighters’) groups that formed during the War against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, led by a man by the name of Mullah Muhammad Omar. During their time in power they put heavy restrictions on women, treating them more like objects than human beings. The Taliban also closely supported terrorism, as they allowed terrorist organizations to run training camps in their territory and from 1994 until just after the September 11 attacks, provided refuge and funding for bin Laden and his Al-Quada organization. Though they were so strict on the people of Afghanistan, the Taliban however profited from smuggling operations (mostly electronics) and through the cultivation of opium.

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Already here the hypocrisy and wickedness of this group is clearly seen. God has told us not to give in to violence; that it is not an answer and He has also said that women should be honored rather than treated as objects. It is clear that the Taliban have given in to their human natures and doing what is right in their own eyes. In many ways they are a tool in the hands of the devil.
Many people have thought the main reason for Terrorism in the country of Afghanistan is because of the Islam religion. It must be clarified that this is not the view of the Afghan people themselves, but of the Al-Quada who believe, as bin Laden, does that the term ‘Jihad’ as it is used in the Qur’an, is synonymous with ‘holy war’, implying that Muslim’s are “to engage in a religiously sanctioned battle against Americans and other Western peoples” (Islam, Lauri S. Friedman, 2008). However, the more conservative followers of this religion believe something very different.
According to this group, “Islam is the religion of moderation and tolerance that abhors the terrorists who kill innocents in Islam’s name, even as Islam is innocent of such crimes” (Friedman, 2008). In addition to their religion it is debated whether the Muslim afterlife also inspires certain Muslims to become terrorists. Suicide is strictly forbidden in Islam, but martyrdom is highly encouraged and believed to be richly rewarded. However, as reporter Marilyn Karfeld says, “If suicide bombers were motivated solely to become martyrs and go to heaven, they would stand in front of Israeli tanks” (Friedman, 2008).
Afghanistan’s history does not help the problem either. Since the 1200’s, Afghanistan has had no peace. Starting with the Mongolian invasion, war after war has followed. The Soviet invasion in 1979 led to more war when many groups of mujahedeen warriors tried to throw them from power, and finally the Taliban succeeded. For the people of Afghanistan, this is the only life that they know and it has led to the attitude of violence and thus terrorism being normal and justified.
As a result of all of these factors, Afghanistan is a country with a poor economy, a high unemployment rate and the people in it live every day with the threat of war and violence. This is not the way that God wanted people to live and it is a very difficult, almost impossible environment for evangelists to bring Gods Word into. Although the Taliban has been removed from power and America has intervened in Afghanistan, they still continue to exist, hiding away in secret being supported mostly by Pakistan. Despite America’s efforts, the Afghan economy is still suffering and there is still much violence; much of it caused by the fact that it is very difficult to tell who is a member of the Taliban since they dress the same way as everyone else and can blend right into the Afghan community.
The Taliban is not the only terrorist group contributing to the problem. Al-Quada, meaning ‘the base’ are very closely related to the Taliban and very active in their acts of violence. Speaking after the 9/11 attacks, Al Quada leader, bin Laden said, “On blessed Tuesday September 11, 2001….. They launched their attacks with their planes in an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any humankind before them”.
So through the affects it has had on Afghanistan and the entire world it is made clearly apparent that Terrorism must be stopped altogether.

Patterns of Physical geography affecting the Issue
Afghanistan is located in South-Central Asia and shares a border with Pakistan. This is significant because of Afghanistan’s close relationship with Pakistan. Up until the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan provided both military and financial assistance to the Taliban. Many of the Taliban leaders were educated in refugee camps in Pakistan, having fled there for safety during the more violent times. More than that, many of the Taliban’s members came from Pakistan or had lived there for a time. Because of the two countries nearness, they shared multiple trade and economic ties on top of similar history, religion, culture, linguistic and ethnic ties.
Recently, a Taliban cave network was found in Pakistan. It consisted of 156 caves carved into sheer rock. It was discovered that it served as a militant headquarters and a defensive complex used for training until troops overran the compound. Members of the Taliban know the mountains well, as these caves show, using them for protection, having the ability to disappear if they are being pursued (telegraph.co, 2010).
Afghanistan’s natural resources also contribute, especially concerning the Opium cultivation. Narcotics trafficking is supporting the Taliban. This problem is incredibly momentous considering that Afghanistan provides 90% of the World’s opium supply, plus most of the heroin to European countries (shanghaidaily.com, 2010).
The poverty within Afghanistan is also due to poor land. Because farmers are poor to begin with, they cannot afford good seed, higher yielding varieties of seed or fertilizers or pesticides that can help the land and the value of the crop. It is often difficult then for farmers to support themselves and they must often look to other jobs on the side (cfr.org).

Patterns of Human Geography affecting the Issue
The people of the Islamic faith believe that the country of Israel should belong to them since it has spiritual significance in the way they worship. This was the place, they believe, where Muhammad rose up to heaven (inisrael.com). America supports and provides protection for Israel which is part of the reason for the terrorist’s hatred for America. The fact that America has taken control of their country makes terrorists hate them even more. The terrorists are now saying it is America who is practicing terrorism because they have no right to be taking control over their country.
Without a trading relationship with America as a result; combined with their poverty, dry land, and war-torn state, Afghanistan must then look to other countries for support and resources. Again the Taliban’s illegal activities come into affect since opium sales and smuggling operations fund the Taliban. In a country where even the government was corrupted, and a culture of violence is promoted, it is hard to avoid problems. Since the Taliban’s fall from power, America has tried to find a way to stop them, but since the Taliban still receive support in Pakistan, it is very difficult to control and capture them if they can cross over the border.
With the Taliban funding itself through the drug trade, more people are affected. With the availability of drugs comes the temptation to use them, so as a result many lives have been corrupted. The same is true about the religion Islam; though Afghanistan is supposed to be a religious country, the Taliban has taken religion and twisted it, which has made many Afghan people reject their religion.

Cause and Effect Relationships affecting the whole planet
The Taliban and Al-Quada’s hatred for America eventually led to the bombing of the World trade center which shocked the entire world. Talking about it later, Osama bin Laden says, “We swore that America wouldn’t live in security until we live it truly in Palestine. This showed the reality of America, which puts Israel’s interests above its own people’s interest. America won’t get out of this crisis until it gets out of the Arabian peninsula, and until it stops its support of Israel”(Jamieson,Alison, 2008). Terrorists say now that these attacks will continue until America draws out of Israel. Now, because of America’s troop presence in Afghanistan, there is a push to attack them. The Taliban threatens another attack since America has refused to give up its protection of Israel. As to the belief that Americans are the ‘real’ terrorists, former President G. Bush has said, “We do not create terrorism by fighting terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.” (Alison Jamieson, pg. 30). The reason that America has spent millions of dollars and sent thousands of troops into Afghanistan to help to reduce the violence is also an effect resulting from the destructive work of the Taliban. These acts of violence also show to the world the disastrous works of the devil, as he schemes ways to direct people away from God and wreak havoc an the earth. It is difficult for people living in these situations to trust in a loving God who is directing all their ways. The state of Afghanistan today is a representation of the depravity of man and what happens when God is not kept in sight.

Effects on the Environment and People
As a result of Terrorism within Afghanistan, it has become a violent and war-torn country, with constant struggles and fighting between the Taliban and American troops. The Afghan people are filled with hatred and fear, with an absence of peace and stability in the countries economy. The people no longer know who they should trust. The children in this country have grown up with violence so in turn they become violent. They have never known anything different.
The Taliban’s violence has been directed also at women, having a tight control on them and turning Afghanistan into a very male dominated culture with great inequality between the sexes. In fact, women are hardly treated like people but rather like objects. The women of Afghanistan are forced to wear long burqas in the hot weather, banned them from going for a walk, working outside of the home, going to school, leaving the home without a male relative or even wearing nail polish ( infoplease.com,2007). It is clear that they are not given any of the rights prescribed to men, are controlled and told what to do in every area of their lives. Reports of rape and abuse are incredibly common and are very rarely dealt with by Afghanistan police. In fact, the Afghan government has taken away a women’s right to say no to sexual intercourse (care2.com, 2010). In this way Afghanistan has turned into a godless and idolatrous nation.
The Islamic religion, as a result of this has also become twisted and distorted. Serious unemployment and poverty has resulted with the rise of the Taliban, dropping the already low employment rates. The money that was brought in during the Taliban’s leadership was used to fund the Taliban rather than improve and provide for the needs of the people. Though the employment rates have risen since the fall of the Taliban, unemployment is still a significant problem within Afghanistan. The Taliban has also not put much effort at all towards dealing with the civil way so as a result this still continues today.
Not only are people in Afghanistan affected, but around the world (though primarily in America) people grieve the loss of the 3,000 loved ones who died as results of the September 11 attacks. Many people are also scared of more attacks, as expressed by Parvez Ahmed, “Today, we all live in fear of terrorism. Equating terrorism with Islam makes the mainstream Muslim community doubly vulnerable” (Friedman, 2008). After Afghanistan refused to give up bin Laden and other Al-Quada members, subsequent bombing by America took place resulting in the death of 3,500 civilians which adds greatly to the Afghan’s distrust of American’s. The whole 9/11 ordeal led to increased security in many areas; as a result airports have now tightened their security, having planned to use full body and pat down searches as regular routines. Organizations have formed to prevent terrorism. Bomb squads have been created and people are generally more careful. This means also that the Muslim people have been stereotyped and thought of with great skepticism. Governments have had to change their definition of human right as they have a responsibility to protect the people but not in a way that undermines fundamental human rights standards (ohchr.org, 2009).
Solutions
Since 2001 many solutions have been presented regarding terrorism in general and in piecing Afghanistan back together. Recently the U.S. has been thinking about ‘talking to the Terrorists’. General Davis Petreus supports talks with what he calls ‘reconcilable elements’ within the Taliban. He talks of the way they did this in the ‘Sunni Awakening’ which involved America paying the Iraqi’s who were attacking the U.S. after they invaded their country in 2003, to instead fight against Al-Quada and their allies(haaretz.com, 2010). However, it seems that although some say this is the only way to find peace, this could not happen without a compromise.
The first demand would be that America must first stop protecting Israel and draw their troops from Afghanistan. At the present, NATO ( North Atlantic Treaty Organization) have 34,000 troops in Afghanistan but many have said that in order for them to be effective, more are needed and they must commit to helping Afghanistan in the long term. This can be done by ensuring stability and continued development, as well as safety, for the Afghan people from the Taliban. Cooperation must be gained from Iran and India and borders must be stabilized to keep militants from entering Afghanistan.
Since there is a large amount of troops in Afghanistan, deaths involving civilians are likely to occur and do not help America in winning over the Afghan citizen’s trust. Therefore, a financial compensation program should be set up for civilian deaths, injuries or property damage resulting from military operations in Afghanistan. At the present the Afghan people are used to not trusting the people in control, and so this will not change if America does nothing to build up and earn that trust. Obama has also recently proposed a plan for a solution. A way to summarize his plan is building up while destroying. He has proposed sending over an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to aid the long war against Afghanistan, centering in on the Al-Quada and denying them a safe haven (news.bbc.co.uk, 2010). In short, he wants to take out the violence and problems in the economy fast and then withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2011.
However, there are some major flaws in this plan; first of all, a planned date for withdrawal from the country gives the Taliban a reason to go underground until the American’s leave. Secondly, Obama has been reluctant to give the money needed in order to fund this program, and finally; he is not sending enough troops as was calculated in order to be rid of the problem. Others believe that we should withdraw help from Afghanistan entirely as the progress seems to be minimal compared to the amount of effort and money going into it and it is believed that this could be used better elsewhere.
Contrary to this however, the work America is doing in Afghanistan seems to be holding everything in check, and taking this check away would result in chaos. It must be remembered that though these terrorists are performing evil works of violence, and are in the clutches of the devil, we cannot hate them but instead hate the sin that has ensnared them to do such terrible things. At the same time, the people responsible for these acts must be held accountable and justice must be served by the hands that God has appointed to do so.
The correct way to handle this problem is by doing the following: Since the Taliban relies on the drug trade through the cultivation of opium and heroin; a focus should be placed on finding where this is grown and ceasing control over the cultivation. At the moment the drug trade is making up 50% of the countries’ economy, and so Afghanistan is on its way to becoming a Narco- state (Friedman, 2009). This is supporting the Taliban and helping to fuel the growing insurgence. The Afghan police and counter narcotic forces are not adequately equipped for the job and so NATO must assume a counter- drug mission. To help solve this problem also, the west should guarantee Afghanistan above market prices for wheat over 10 years. If they would buy unlimited quantities of wheat from Afghan farmers through an official marketing system it is then likely that these farmers would switch from growing poppies for the production of opium and instead grow wheat. Doing this would also undercut the appeal that the Taliban have for Afghanistan’s people and would help to build up the countries economy.
More troops should also be sent, but on a more long term plan. These troops should work to stabilize borders, especially the 1,600 mile frontier that Afghanistan shares with Pakistan in order that the Taliban would be unable to run for protection over this border. These extra troops should also be used to launch a strong and forceful attack against the Taliban and Al-Quada. By taking them by surprise and overcoming them by sheer force, the problem should and could be eradicated once and for all. America should then maintain military support in Afghanistan until the nation is stable and then gradually withdraw their support. As Gavin Proudly, UK terrorism expert says, “Overall, I think that the most suitable methods of beating global terrorist movements are through extremely good intelligence, effective and clear law enforcement structures with strong international cooperation, but also, unfortunately, some military measure in places were law enforcement structures are effective” (Friedman, 2008).
With regard to the Muslim religion, radical Islamists should be brought down and made to realize that the Qur’an does not teach the truth. As Christians we should work to bring seeds of true faith into a place that despises it. This may seem impossible to do but it is what we are called to do just as it was done by Christ’s apostles. In a way, defeating terrorism is not as much that which we do but the attitude with which we do it; in the words of Brian. M. Jenkins, U.S. terrorism expert, “Our most effective defense against terrorism will not come from surveillance, concrete barriers, metal detectors, or new laws. It will come from our own virtue, our courage, our continued dedication to the ideals of a free society” (Jamieson, pg. 25).

Cost-Benefit Analysis
The solution I have proposed as a successful one would be highly costly, especially regarding the number of troops that should be sent and the idea of the West offering Afghanistan above market prices for grain for ten years. However, in the long run it would be a less costly method than for the American troops to go on as they are and make little progress while using a lot of money. While this is a lot of money, it is possible to get all those countries interested in helping Afghanistan to contribute as a combined political effort might work. This solution also proposes a method that could take place over a short number of years, and then slowly building up the economy. In this way the Afghan people will be able to experience peace soon.

Possible consequences
The outcomes of this solution could be both positive and negative. It is very possible that civilians may be killed in the strike against the Taliban. It is also possible that the Taliban and Al-Quada may launch a powerful counter attack at the United States. On the other hand however, the problem of terrorism may be severely lessened. The Taliban could be eradicated and Osama bin Laden could finally be killed with the Al-Quada crippled. The country of Afghanistan could then be free to build up its economy and experience peace and prosperity.
Terrorism has been affecting Afghanistan and the World for centuries and it is time that rigorous measures are taken to put an end to it and solve the problem of violence for political cause throughout the World. With much work it is still possible to overcome the clutches of the Taliban, free the Afghan people of their hate and violence, and bring God into the land of Afghanistan.







Works Cited
Jamieson, Alison. Can the War on Terrorism Be Won? Mankato, Minn.: Arcturus, 2009.
Friedman, Lauri S. Islam. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2006.
Gannon, Kathy. I Is for Infidel: from Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years inside Afghanistan. New York: Public Affairs, 2005.
"Afghanistan History." Afghanistan Government. Web. 01 May 2010.




Picture credit: Reuters


After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration declared a worldwide "war on terror," involving open and covert military operations, new security legislation, efforts to block the financing of terrorism, and more. Washington called on other states to join in the fight against terrorism asserting that "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Many governments joined this campaign, often adopting harsh new laws, lifting long-standing legal protections and stepping up domestic policing and intelligence work.

Critics charge that the "war on terrorism" is an ideology of fear and repression that creates enemies and promotes violence rather than mitigating acts of terror and strengthening security. The worldwide campaign has too often become an excuse for governments to repress opposition groups and disregard international law and civil liberties. Governments should address terrorism through international cooperation, using international law and respecting civil liberties and human rights. Governments should also address the root causes of terrorism, notably political alienation due to prejudice, state-sponsored violence and poverty.

This site deals with the idea and practice of the "war on terrorism." Materials critically analyze the "war" and its consequences. The site looks at terrorism's history and root causes and how the concept has been used and abused.


Articles

2011 |2010 |2009 |2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

2011



Targeted killing and the 'War on Terror' (October 18, 2011)

The recent targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen by the US has started a renewed debate over US counter-terrorism policies. The targeted elimination of US citizen and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki for his alleged role as a terrorist affiliate raises troubling international legal questions. This demonstrates how the US justifies any means in the name of security, similar to the justifications used to explain the detainee interrogation practices used after 9/11. Critics of the killing have focused heavily on Awlaki’s US citizenship, and the obligation of the government to protect its citizens for harm. (Al Jazeera)

Should Bin Laden Have Been Tried? (May 3, 2011)

The death of Osama bin Laden is being celebrated across the US. This article however highlights how the extra-judicial killing of bin Laden by the US military undermines the rule of law and paints an ugly picture of the Obama administration. Whether or not a trial would have provided satisfaction to the victims of 9/11, this article argues that retribution through killing will only exacerbate tensions and destabilize the judicial process. (Open Democracy)


2010

U.N. Reports Mixed Results on Afghan Poppy Crops (September 30, 2010)

Afghanistan modestly reduced its poppy cultivation this year in Helmand province though nationwide production has remained the same or increased. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that the decrease is mainly the result of blight, despite a government initiative and Western aid. The report states that increasing poppy prices could undercut the efforts to reduce cultivation in the coming year. Nearly all cultivation occurs in the country's least secure provinces.  (The New York Times)

The Real War on Terror Must Begin (August 23, 2010)

While the US spends $12bn every month indicting its "war on terror," it has so far pledged pocket change to aid the 20 million displaced Pakistani's. In this article from Al Jazeera, Mark Levine argues that if a peaceful future is to be secured for Pakistan and the wider world, relief aid is an ill advised area for the US to be fiscally prudent. He suggests the US "war on terror" needs to be fundamentally rethought to consider relief, rebuilding and the struggle against poverty and hardship. And in the "multigenerational" campaign against Al-Qaida, more resources should be allocated towards reconstruction, than are used for purposes of destruction.  (Al Jazeera)

The Secret Killers: Covert Assassins Charged With Hunting Down and Killing Afghans(August 29, 2010)

In Afghanistan, secret military teams have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of "terrorists" and are seen as "manhunting" operations with the units assigned to them as "capture/kill" teams. Wikileaks has published the mass of secret U.S. military and intelligence documents that reveal how capture/kill teams have left a trail of dead civilian bodies. The covert "joint" teams involving the CIA and various military special operations forces are a key part of a new military "doctrine" developed in 1980 and came to be known as "find, fix, finish, and follow-up"  missions, denoting  how alleged terrorists are to be dealt with. Military experts are disquieted by the creation of such global hunter-killer teams who regularly kill civilians in their raids on supposed "targets."  (Alternet)

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents (August 14, 2010)

The shadow “war against terrorism” began in the Bush administration but expanded under President Obama, who ironically became popular due to his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq. The United States has increased military and intelligence operations in a dozen countries. These shadow wars have fuelled anti-American rage; blurred the lines between soldiers and spies;weakened Congressional oversight and led to a reliance on authoritarian foreign leader. (The New York Times)

CIA Whisked Detainees from Guantanamo Before Giving Access to Lawyers (August 6, 2010)

Four "high-value" prisoners were flown out of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility just months after they arrived in 2003, before the Supreme Court could grant them access to lawyers. They were transferred to a CIA "black site" for two years of interrogation, during which time they could not speak with attorneys or human rights observers. The AP discovered that top White House, Justice Department, Pentagon and CIA officials were involved in the prisoner transfer, which law professor Jonathon Hafetz called "a shell game to hide detainees from the courts." This incident suggests that Washington is willing to go to great lengths to keep "valuable" prisoners outside the US court system. (Huffington Post)

Mutilated Afghan Girl Aisha in US for New Nose (August 6, 2010)

A TIME Magazine cover featuring a young Afghan woman whose nose had been cut off by the Taliban sparked fierce debate about the issue's message. The cover's title suggested that such crimes against women would increase if the US-led military force were to leave Afghanistan prematurely. Many have claimed that TIME engaged in "emotional blackmail" and exploited "gender politics to pitch for the status quo-a continued US military involvement." Women's lives have not improved overall as a result of the war (read GPF's previous posting on this issue, below). Telling Aisha's story may raise awareness about the plight of women in Afghanistan, but drawing a connection between her situation and the US occupation is both inaccurate and manipulative. (BBC)

The Guantanamo Paradox (August 6, 2010)

More than 170 men who have not been convicted, or in some cases even charged with a criminal offense, are being kept in indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay.  As the Obama administration moves forward with the military trials at the detention facility, it is difficult to see how the President is fulfilling his commitment to "re-establishing our [US] credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law."  For all of President Obama's rhetoric about closing Guantanamo and providing fair trials for the detainees, he has been unable to translate these promises into reality.  The maintenance of Guantanamo is just one of the ways in which this administration continues to resemble that of George W. Bush. (Crimes of War Project)

Western Wars Vs Muslim Women (August 5, 2010)

The Time Magazine's cover story on the plight of Afghan women contributes to justifying the war on humanitarian "civilizing" grounds instead of criticizing it on the same grounds. Military solutions to social problems fail to make the distinction between Islam and the Taliban or explain how women's rights can be attained by such means. This author suggests that "the war to liberate the women of Afghanistan," is more concerned with promoting "men's wars" rather than women's rights, whilst Muslim women are being progressively silenced in this discursive battle. (Al-Jazeera)

Engendering New Discourses (May 17, 2010)

This author suggests Pakistani women are central to the ideological battleground between the Taliban and the US military: the former using Islamic extremism to exclude women from the public sphere, the latter using western notions of liberation and progress to orchestrate women's unveiling. Although driven by contrasting ideologies, both serve to further disempower women from decision making. Security Council Resolution 1325 highlighted the contributions that women can make to conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Yet this suppression of female agency in Pakistan denies the importance of women's equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security. (The Express Tribune)

VIDEO: TIME Magazine Cover Explains What Happens to Aghan Women If "We Leave Afghanistan," But That Tragedy is Already Occurring (July 29, 2010)

A photograph on the cover of a recent issue of TIME Magazine depicts an Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by the Taliban when she was caught trying to escape from abusive family members.  The image is intended to remind the reader of "what happens if we leave Afghanistan."  An accompanying article argues that women's rights would be destroyed if the US military settled with the Taliban and left the region.  However, despite the lofty rhetoric about "freeing" the women of Afghanistan, the US-supported government of Hamid Karzai has not implemented policies to help women in any substantial way.  In this Brave New Films video, numerous experts show that conditions for women have actually deteriorated as a result of the US-led occupation. (Huffington Post)

US Drone Strikes Draw International Scrutiny (May 31, 2010)

The CIA uses unmanned drones to carry out targeted killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan raising serious questions of legality. Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapportuer on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions will deliver a report on June 3 to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which argues that drone use should be restricted to the US military. The report says that the "life and death" power of drones should be entrusted to regular armed forces and not intelligence agencies like the CIA which have much less transparent oversight.  It is unlikely that the Obama Administration will alter its policy, as drone attacks have become an increasingly important tactic in US "counter terrorism operations" in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (IPS)

At West Point, Obama offers new Security Strategy (May 23, 2010)

In a commencement speech at the US Military Academy at West Point, President Obama set out a new national security doctrine which attempts to distance his administration from George W Bush's policy of "distinctly US internationalism." Obama pledged to shape a new "international order" based on diplomacy and engagement to resolve such global challenges as "violent extremism and insurgency", nuclear weapons, climate change and preventing conflict. However, as he calls for global cooperation, Obama has intensified the US war in Afghanistan and secret operations in the Middle East. (Washington Post)

Detainees Barred from Access to US Courts (May 21, 2010)

A US Court of Appeals ruled that three men, who were captured outside Afghanistan and have been detained for years without trial, have no right to habeas corpus hearings in US Courts as Bagram is "on the sovereign territory of another government." If the precedent stands, it will provide further justification for the Obama Administration's policy of detaining terrorism suspects overseas for indefinite periods to avoid judicial oversight. (New York Times)

Drones and Democracy (May 18, 2010)

U.S. drone attacks continue to devastate civilians in Pakistan yet remain shrouded in secrecy. Pakistanis learn nothing of the attacks, and U.S. newspaper reports mention no more than a few words on the location of the strike and the estimated death toll. Victims and witnesses of these attacks openly question the legitimacy of a strategy that kills many innocent civilians and only serves to instill anti-American hatred in the local population. These victims link indifference and inaction on drone warfare to the state of U.S. democracy: "What kind of democracy is America where people do not ask these questions?" (CommonDreams)

Judges Ban Secret Evidence in Guantanamo Compensation Case (May 5, 2010)

Six former Guantanamo Bay prisoners are claiming civil damages against the UK Government alleging that the MI5 and MI6 "aided and abetted their unlawful imprisonment" at numerous locations around the world, including Guantanamo Bay, where they were tortured. Controversially, the UK Government asked for the trial to be heard under the "closed material procedure" meaning that the claimants would not see large parts of the evidence being used by the Government to defend the allegations. The High Court denied the Government's request, with Lord Neuberger stating that "it would undermine one of the most fundamental principles of the common law," the right of a party to know the case again him. (The Times)

A Kinder, Gentler Gitmo (April 22, 2010)

After his inauguration, President Barak Obama signed an Executive Order mandating more humane conditions for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the closure of the prison within a year. With the January 22 deadline passed, the detention camp reflects the Obama Administration's failure to change US national security policy from the framework of the Bush Administration's "War on Terror." While the new administration has prohibited torture and inhuman treatment, the defining injustice of Guantanamo - the indefinite imprisonment of individuals without charge or trial - remains. (The American Prospect)

New Rules on Terror Custody Being Drafted (April 15, 2010)

On taking office, President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo Bay prison and abolish many of the detainee practices of the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration is currently drafting "classified guidelines" to determine whether new captured terrorist suspects should be placed in long-term detention or whether they should be prosecuted. The guidelines will also provide answers on where to hold them and how to interrogate them. Bagram air base in Afghanistan appears to be the favoured location, in part because prisoners there are denied access to United States courts. (LA Times)

George W. Bush 'Knew Guantanamo Prisoners Were Innocent' (April 9, 2010)

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has revealed that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up the imprisonment of hundreds of innocent men in Guantánamo Bay. According to Wilkerson, they feared that releasing these prisoners would jeopardize their push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror. This is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush administration. Wilkerson made the accusations in support of a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee against a list of American officials. (The Times)

The Guantanamo "Suicides:"A Camp Delta Sergeant Blows the Whistle (March 2010)

On June 9, 2006, three prisoners at Guantanamo died suddenly and violently with Rear Admiral Harry Harris quick to declare the deaths "suicides." According to the US Naval Criminal Investigative Serivce documents, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and t-shirts, was able to bind their own hands, stuff rags into their throats and tie the noose to the top of the cell's eight-foot-high steel-mesh walls. Evidence suggests that the Obama administration has failed to seriously investigate the deaths and may have continued a cover-up of the possible homicides of these prisoners. (Harpers Magazine)

Habeas Challenges for Bagram Prisoners (March 1, 2010)

The US Government has detained an unknown number of prisoners at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan since 2002, some of whom have been held for up to six years without charge or a fair hearing. Concerned that Bagram has become the new Guantanamo, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed habeas corpus petitions to allow four prisoners access to lawyers and the opportunity to challenge in court the legality of their detention. (IPS)

Lindsey Graham: White House Mulling Indefinite Detention (February 16, 2010)

According to Senator Lindsey Graham, the White House is again considering a "preventative detention" statute to govern persons held at Guantanamo Bay.  The proposed statute would assist in the closing of Guantanamo Bay and govern the detention of persons, by the US government, outside the criminal justice system. There is concern from Human Rights Watch that the statute would "turn the anomaly of Guantanamo Bay into a permanent legal norm" and would give future President's the unfettered authority to detain people without trial "not because they were captured on a military battlefield but because they are considered a threat against national security." (Politico)

UN Secret Detention Report Asks, "Where are the CIA Ghost Prisoners?" (January 28, 2010)

A study conducted by a group of UN Special Rapporteurs has concluded that "secret detention in connection with counterterrorist policies remains a serious problem." The study, conducted by four independent UN human rights experts, details secret detention practices used by the US in the "Global War on Terror" and expresses concern over the fate of dozens of persons still held in secret CIA run prisons. (Truthout)

2009


The Joint Post/Obama defense of the Patriot Act and FISA (October 6, 2009)

The US administration has been exploiting a recently foiled terrorist coup, the Najibullah Ziza case, to justify the Patriot and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Acts. Such fear mongering resembles the behavior of the previous administration. By publicly connecting the Patriot Act with prevented terrorist attacks the administration misleadingly suggests that the plot could not or would not have been thwarted without recourse to such extreme surveillance measures.  (Salon)

The Difference Between "Legal" and "Illegal" (September 8, 2009)

In 2006 the British police thwarted a terrorist plot with the help of US and British electronic surveillance. Some polemicists used this to justify illegal government surveillance programs. However the information used in 2006 had been obtained legally, thus invalidating this justification. This foiled attack shows that governments do not need to resort to illegitimate activities to successfully fight terrorism. (Salon)

US Takes the Russian Route to Afghanistan; Wonder What They're Thinking in Moscow (July 7, 2009)

Russia recently agreed to allow US troops and weapons to fly over its territory on the way to war in Afghanistan. Russia apparently believes that US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are effectively defending Russia's southern flank. Washington's war in Afghanistan is likely to last longer than the Soviet Union's war in the country, which began in late 1979 and ended in early 1989.(CommonDreams)

Who the Hell is Stanley McChrystal? (May 19, 2009)

General David McKiernan was suddenly fired earlier in May over his failure to stop the escalating violence in Afghanistan. General Stanley McChrystal, a former US Special Forces commander, officially took charge of the nearly 90,000 US and NATO-led troops fighting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. General McChrystal, also known as "the Pope," is notorious for promoting torture techniques in counterterrorism. He has brought together military and intelligence operations to produce controversial battlefield results. The decision of the Obama administration to appoint McChrystal reflects a commitment to large scale, long term "special operations" involving further global military escalation. (Esquire)

Rebranding War & Occupation (June 18, 2009)

Barack Obama promised a major shift in U.S. foreign policy. However, after five months in office, Obama's policies seem to reflect considerable continuity with earlier administrations. He has raised U.S. military spending and has added more than 20,000 troops in Afghanistan.  It is clear that U.S. foreign policies are largely formed by long-standing economic and political interests and not so much by the electoral process. (Zmag)

"War on Terror" Was a Mistake, Says Miliband (January 15, 2009)

During a speech in Mumbai, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband criticized the "war on terror" and qualified it as "misleading and mistaken." Miliband stated that instead of reducing potential terrorist threats, the military reaction created more resentment and backlash. He praised diplomacy over a military response contrary to the position he held four years ago (Guardian)

2008

"Remember Pearl Harbor!" (December 7, 2008)

The author of this article draws parallels between the attacks on Pearl Harbor by Japan in 1941 and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because it perceived the US as a threat to its national interest. According to the "preemptive war" doctrine, which the US used to justify the 2003 attack, the US has the right to use force whenever its interests may be threatened. Both actions are breaches of international law, as the use of military force is illegal unless used in response to a prior attack. (Truthout)

Secret Order Lets US Raid Al Qaeda (November 10, 2008)

In 2004 president George Bush issued an executive order authorizing military action in Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states. Using this order, the US military has conducted nearly 12 previously undisclosed attacks. This broadened the ground rules in the "Global War on Terror" and also removed sensitive military operations from the previous process of oversight and review. (New York Times)

Legislating Tyranny: Bush's War on Civil Liberties (June 3, 2008)

The Bush administration assaults civil liberties under the guise of the "war on terror," and not many US citizens express alarm. With vague definitions of "terrorist" and "enemy combatant," police can arrest and imprison any US citizen based on suspicion and without evidence. President Bush also abuses power in the executive branch by sidestepping the Supreme Court, weakening Congress, and disregarding the Constitution. With his exercise of arbitrary and undefined power, the US is "sliding toward dictatorship" and falling away from democracy. (Counterpunch)

US Accused of Holding Terror Suspects on Prison Ships (June 2, 2008)

The US military holds detainees on secret "floating prisons", before transporting them to undisclosed detention centers, according to human rights organization Reprieve. The US uses ships such as the USS Bataan, Peleliu and Ashland to hold prisoners without legal representation or a right to trial. Reprieve reports that the US military keeps many of the prisoners in cages and subjects them to physical abuse. Since 2001, the US has held approximately 80,000 detainees, 26,000 of which remain in secret prisons. (Guardian)

Al-Qaeda and the "War on Terrorism" (January 20, 2008)

This Global Research article argues that propaganda for the "war on terrorism" disregards the historical link between al-Qaeda and the US. The CIA created al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and also brought the heroin drug trade to Afghanistan. Further, the CIA used the Pakistani military intelligence apparatus (ISI) as a "go-between" to provide funding, arms, and training to groups in Chechnya, Kashmir, Kosovo, and China. The author argues that the "war on terrorism" is instead an excuse to expand US military domination.

2007

Just Counter-Terrorism (July 5, 2007)

"Only when we put terrorism in proper perspective can we start to think about appropriate solutions," argues this Foreign Policy in Focus article. With regard to its "acuity, its scope, and its likely duration," terrorism does not pose as great a threat as global warming, nuclear proliferation, disease, and conventional war. The authors claim that the Bush administration has used US citizens' fear to amplify the threat of terrorism and initiate a preventative war against it – a campaign as "meaningless" as "declaring war on serial murderers." Instead, they suggest that Washington tackle detrimental political and economic injustices.

Introduction to "Selling US Wars" (March 2007)

This excerpt from the book "Selling US Wars" by Tariq Ali analyzes the theories and mechanisms employed by the US to "ensure indirect domination" worldwide. One of the justifications the US gives for the extension of its sphere of influence is the "global war on terror," which the author states is an unacceptable form of "political violence terror." Ali also asserts that Washington's selectivity in enforcing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is another tactic in its pursuit of regional and global ambitions. Moreover, the author criticizes the use of "humanitarian intervention" and "democratization" as reasons for military invasions. (Transnational Institute)

2006

The Axis of Intervention (July 27, 2006)

This Foreign Policy in Focus article cites a growing trend towards unilateral military action as opposed to multilateral diplomacy in solving conflicts. The US and Israel have justified "preventative war" under the "War on Terrorism." Meanwhile, Japan threatens to preemptively attack North Korea, jeopardizing its "peace constitution." This dangerous policy threatens to undermine the institutions of international law and global agreements such as the Geneva Conventions.

Global Responses to Global Threats: Sustainable Security for the 21st Century (June 2006)

This Oxford Research Group report argues that the main causes of conflict stem from global climate change, competition over resources, "marginalization of the majority world," and global militarism. These issues, combined with a military approach to terrorism, and the spread of fear-inducing propaganda, detract from realistic peace-building solutions. The authors report that unless world leaders tackle these four causes and refrain from promoting global militarism and waging wars on terrorism, the global system will become irrevocably unstable.

2005

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism: It's the Occupation, Not the Fundamentalism (July 18, 2005)

This interview from the American Conservative showcases expert Robert Pape's detailed analysis of the roots of suicide terrorism. His central finding is that, overwhelmingly, "suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel [foreign occupiers] to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland." A "demand-driven" phenomena, Pape notes that "the suicide terrorists have been produced by the invasion" in Iraq and other countries.

On Suspicion of Not Being One of Us (April 2005)

The intelligence services are working hand in hand with industries who profit from war to create a dangerous environment of paranoia. These "merchants of fear" have filled the post-cold war "vacancy for a subversive global conspiracy" with a new enemy, Islam. Their own obsessions and the desire to justify their continued power have led to the framing of community tensions and other social issues as security threats, and a pervasive climate of distrust. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

US Terror War ‘Over-Reaction,' Top Judge Says (January 17, 2005)

Richard Goldstone, first chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, says the global "war on terror" threatens international justice. He points to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisoner abuse as reasons for more judicial oversight, and suggests UN Security Council reform as a way of "protecting the rule of law." (Toronto Star)

Poverty, Disease, Environmental Decline Are True 'Axis of Evil' (January 12, 2005)

The State of the World 2005 Report from the Worldwatch Institute argues that the "war on terror" is diverting world's attention from more serious threats to global instability. Poverty, infectious disease and environmental degradation create conditions in which extremism thrives and new conflicts emerge. Dealing with these challenges requires preventive engagement rather than use of brute military force.

2004

The Making of the Terror Myth (October 15, 2004)

This Guardian article states that a general consensus between governments, security services and the media has created a "terror myth," an imagined danger of organized terrorism, maintained through a "jittery media-driven democracy."

Al-Qaida Brand Name Ready for Franchise (September 1, 2004)

This article compares al Qaeda to a transnational business organization with a "promising future as a brand name." It gives several examples illustrating that the terrorist organization's reputation acts as self-recruiting function for activist groups wishing to commit acts of violence in its name. (Le Monde diplomatique)

The Clash Thesis: A Failing Ideology? (August 24, 2004)

The discourse of hate is an ongoing theme in the "war on terrorism." More than a motive it now comprises an ideology justifying all actions against entities representing the ever-growing category of "terrorists." The article claims that this has created a new right for "great powers" "to convert phony wars into real ones." (Dissident Voice)

'The Lesser Evil': Fight Fire With Fire (July 25, 2004)

Michael Ignatieff believes that the use of pre-emptive war, assassination, limited torture and indefinite detention without trial might be "the lesser evil" in the fight against terrorism. In this review, Ronald Steel charges that Ignatieff's latest book lacks "any serious political analysis" of terrorism, and ultimately amounts to "an elegantly packaged manual of national self-justification." (New York Times)

The Politics of Poverty, Aid in the New Cold War (May 2004)

Governments that divert aid relief funds to anti-terrorism efforts exacerbate the suffering of the world's poorest people, argues Christian Aid. This report points out that the US government diverted a US $2.2 billion aid program for Afghanistan in 2004 to military projects and emergency relief.

G7 to Combat Terrorism with Airline Cash Inspections (April 27, 2004)

G7 officials are discussing ways to tackle cross-border cash movements as part of the "war on terror." According to the Financial Action Task Force, the proposal includes making international travelers file currency declarations and X-ray scan for cash, as well as weapons at airports. Will these attempts really help preventing terrorist attacks? (International Relations and Security Network)

Terrorism in Historical Perspective (April 22, 2004)

This article seeks to explain the concept of terrorism during different periods of time stretching back to the 20th century. The author argues that terrorism is a global problem in cause and in impact; therefore, understanding the background of terrorism is one of the important ways in addressing this world security threat. (OpenDemocracy)

Banker Presses Aid for Poor to Fight Terror (April 22, 2004)

World Bank President James Wolfensohn highlights an increasing imbalance in world governments' spending, noting that governments spend $900 billion annually on defense and only $56 billion on development assistance. Wolfensohn argues that changing spending priorities focusing on development of poor countries would help to defeat terrorism. (New York Times)

Why the Qaeda Threat Is Growing (March 17, 2004)

As Al-Qaeda becomes "brand-name terrorism," many other groups commit themselves loyally to bin Laden's idea of "global jihad against the US and its allies." (Time Magazine)

"Terrorism": A World Ensnared by a Word (February 18, 2004)

The author argues people often use and abuse the word "terrorism" by applying it to "whatever they hate," as a way of "avoiding rational thought and discussion and, frequently, excusing their own illegal and immoral conduct." (International Herald Tribune)

The Non-Debate over Suicide Bombing (January 29, 2004)

This article argues that informed debate about suicide bombing is "long overdue." The author suggests the phenomenon warrants neither sympathy nor blanket condemnation but a better understanding of the motivations of suicide bombers. (Arab Media Watch)

Muddying the World's Conscience (January 9, 2004)

The "war on terror" reformulates many aspects of world politics and the international NGO sector. In the US and elsewhere, ultra-conservative thinktanks have recently set up units to monitor and investigate the NGO sector. NGOs operating in "war on terror" conflicts feel pressured to either act as "sub-contractors for the superpower or pull out." (Guardian)

 

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