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How Obama Lost Afghanistan

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

He said it was ‘the right war.’ Then he did everything he could to screw it up

For The Daily BeastElise Jordan writes:  Despite the violence and uncertainty surrounding this Saturday’s election for a new Afghan President, there’s one positive —Hamid Karzai, the sitting president and the architect of much of the country’s unrest, is not on the ballot this time. But while Karzai must cede power under the rules of the Afghan constitution, the other leader whose mismanagement helped tank Afghanistan abandoned his influence in what he once called “the right war” a long time ago. That leader is President Barack Obama.

“…the Obama administration’s craven politics and unrealistic expectations hastened the decline…”

An outright winner is unlikely on Saturday, unless one campaign is far superior in the art of vote fraud. The most dramatic political comeback belongs to Dr. Ashraf Ghani, a technocrat economist who previously served as Karzai’s Minister of Finance. Known for a volatile temper—according to former colleagues, he once broke his wrist by slamming his hand into a meeting table—Ghani only earned three percent of the vote against Karzai in 2009. Today, Ghani polls as the frontrunner, dividing the margin of Karzai’s heir apparent, former National Security advisor and Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul, and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, an ophthalmologist with a fondness for flashy Italian suits. He gathered 30 percent of the vote in 2009, but declined to participate in a run-off against Karzai.The best scenario is a May run-off between the two top candidates—the opposite of the chaos of 2009 that left Karzai with a third term. Instead of a statesmanlike exit as father of a new democracy, Karzai’s re-election imploded his already troubled legacy. On an election day the UN characterized as Afghanistan’s worst episode of violence in fifteen years, Western diplomats accused Karzai and his cronies of at least 100,000 fictitious ballots and over 800 fake polling sites. Read the rest of this entry »
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BREAKING: AP Photographer Killed, Reporter Wounded in Afghanistan

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2013 file photo Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, right, and AP journalist Kathy Gannon, are pictured during a visit to the photo agency Keystone in Zurich, Switzerland . Niedringhaus, 48, was killed and Kathy Gannon was wounded Friday, April 4, 2014 when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan. Niedringhaus, an internationally acclaimed German photographer, was killed instantly, according to an AP freelancer who witnessed the shooting. Gannon, the reporter, was wounded twice and is receiving medical attention. (AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri, File)

Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, right, and AP journalist Kathy Gannon, are pictured during a visit to the photo agency Keystone in Zurich, Switzerland . Niedringhaus, 48, was killed and Kathy Gannon was wounded Friday, April 4, 2014 when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan.  (AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan police commander opened fire Friday on two Associated Press journalists inside a security forces base in eastern Afghanistan, killing prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

“Anja was a vibrant, dynamic journalist well-loved for her insightful photographs, her warm heart and joy for life. We are heartbroken at her loss.”

– AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll

Niedringhaus, 48, who had covered conflict zones from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and was part of a team of AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, died instantly of her wounds.

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Gannon, who for many years was the news organization’s Afghanistan bureau chief and currently is a special correspondent for the region, was shot three times in the wrists and shoulder. After surgery, she was in stable condition and spoke to medical personnel before being flown to Kabul. Read the rest of this entry »


How a 20-Year-Old British Sniper Killed Six Taliban Insurgents With a Single Bullet — From Half a Mile Away

A sniper serving in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 10 with the Sniper Platoon, D (Fire Support) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, with his .338mm L115 A3 sniper rifle. ORG XMIT: MOD Crown Copyright   PHOTO CREDIT: UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (link: http://www.defenceimagery.mod.uk/fotoweb/ )/pws

A sniper serving in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 10 with the Sniper Platoon, D (Fire Support) Company, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, with his .338mm L115 A3 sniper rifle. PHOTO: UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

For The Telegraph, Holly Watt reports:  A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

L115A3 Sniper RifleThe 20-year-old marksman, a lance corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 850 metres, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast.

The incident in Kakaran in southern Afghanistan happened in December but has only now been disclosed as Britain moves towards the withdrawal of all combat soldiers by the end of the year.

Lt Col Richard Slack, commanding officer of 9/12 Royal Lancers, said the unnamed sharpshooter prevented a major attack by the Taliban, as a second suicide vest packed with 20 kg of explosives was found nearby.

The same sniper, with his first shot on the tour of duty, killed a Taliban machine-gunner from 1,340 metres.

“I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber”

Several hundred British and Afghan soldiers were carrying out an operation in December when they were engaged in a gun battle with 15 to 20 insurgents.

“The guy was wearing a vest. He was identified by the sniper moving down a tree line and coming up over a ditch,” said Lt Col Slack. “He had a shawl on. It rose up and the sniper saw he had a machine gun.

“They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, ‘I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber.’ The rest of them were killed in the blast.”

UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCEThe L115A3 sniper rifle.

It is understood the lance corporal was using an L115A3 gun, the Army’s most powerful sniper weapon.

The Armed Forces are gradually decreasing their presence in Helmand, handing over security of the country to the Afghan armed forces. Last month, three major bases were closed or handed over to Afghan control. At the height of the campaign, there were 137 bases across Helmand – now there is only one base outside Camp Bastion, Sterga 2, which is staffed by a company from 4 Scots and the 9/12 Royal Lancers. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Osama Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law Convicted of Conspiring to Kill Americans 

bin-laden-spokesman

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden‘s son-in-law, was convicted on Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans.

Rot in cell!

For the NY Daily News reports: Jurors found Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law guilty Wednesday of providing support to terrorists and conspiring to kill Americans as an Al Qaeda spokesman around the time of the 9/11 attacks.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 48, spewed hateful speeches alongside Bin Laden in several Al Qaeda propaganda videos filmed shortly after the attacks, including one made outside a mountain cave in Afghanistan on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the Twin Towers fell.

It took the 12 jurors about a day to reach their verdict in Manhattan Federal Court and the defendant now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Rumsfeld: ‘This White House, and State Department, Has Failed to Get a Status of Forces Agreement. A Trained Ape Could Get a Get a Status of Forces Agreement’

U.S. Relationship With Karzai Has Gone Downhill ‘Like a Toboggan’ Under Obama

I missed the original broadcast but saw the late evening replay of Greta’s interview with Rumsfeld, and it was ‘blistering’, indeed. it motivated me to go find the video or audio of his comments.  Above is a short video segment featuring the former Secretary of Defense’s most pointed criticism. Full interview on this page, scroll down to the second video.

From the Washington Free Beacon:

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued a blistering critique of the Obama administration for the deterioration of the United States’s relationship with Afghanistan Monday on Fox News.

[You knew Rumsfeld has a book, right? Order "Known and Unknown: A Memoir" from Amazon]

Rumsfeld squarely blamed the White House for failing to secure what should have been an easy status of forces agreement with Afghanistan.

[Smith & Wesson SWBG2T Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife with Tanto Blade, Glass Break, and Seatbelt Cutter, Black]

Read the rest of this entry »


Jonathan H. Adler: When Think Tanks are in the Tank

Zaid-Jilani-Tank

For The Volokh Conspiracy, Jonathan H. Alder writes:  Blogger Zaid Jilani has a post claiming that when he worked for ThinkProgress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, he was pressured to toe the White House line, even when that conflicted with the positions his organization was supposedly advancing.

One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan. CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand. . . . Flash forward a couple years, and the Democratic Party’s lawmakers in Congress were in open revolt over the Afghanistan policy. Our writing at ThinkProgress had opened up a lot on the issue, and I was writing really critical stuff. . . . But then phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. . . .

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[VIDEO] Obama to Romney in 2012 Debate: ‘Cold War is Over’

obama-russia-drudge1

During the third presidential debate, President Barack Obama accused then GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for 1980′s foreign policy thinking…

OBAMA: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.

You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq. But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. And the — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy — but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it. You said that, first, we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan. Then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends, which means not only were you wrong, but you were also confusing in sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.

OBAMA: So, what — what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map. And unfortunately, that’s the kind of opinions that you’ve offered throughout this campaign, and it is not a recipe for American strength, or keeping America safe over the long haul.

SCHIEFFER: I’m going to add a couple of minutes here to give you a chance to respond.

ROMNEY: Well, of course I don’t concur with what the president said about my own record and the things that I’ve said. They don’t happen to be accurate. But — but I can say this, that we’re talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing, and the rising tide of tumult and — and confusion. And — and attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this violence.

But I’ll respond to a couple of things that you mentioned. First of all, Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe. Not…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Excuse me. It’s a geopolitical foe, and I said in the same — in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election, he’ll get more backbone. Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed I believe that there should be a status of forces agreement.

Kerry Picket - The Conversation


U.S. Army To Be Reduced To Pre-World War II Levels

hagel-weimar

For The DiplomatAnkit Panda writes:

The biggest news from the Pentagon this week is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s new budget plan, which is designed to refit U.S. armed forces in a manner suitable for emerging threats. Informing Hagel’s thinking on the budget is the looming drawdown from the United States’ longest ground war ever – Afghanistan. Consequently, the proposed budget would see the U.S. Army reduced in size to pre-World War II levels

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obama, the Face of Fake Viagra in Pakistan

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It could be worse. At least it’s not John Boehner in the ad. From NRO‘s  Andrew Johnson:

“Apparently a symbol of power and virility, Barack Obama is the unwitting face of contraband Viagra sold in this market in Peshawar,” according to a report fromAgence France-Presse. The president is featured on a number of different forms of the drug.

obama-viagra

Even though Pakistan has banned the erectile-dysfunction medication, the agency reports some forms are smuggled into the country from neighboring Afghanistan. Watch the entire Agence France-Press report below:

National Review Online

Read the rest of this entry »


Faster, Please: How A Simple New Invention Seals A Gunshot Wound In 15 Seconds

gunshot-wound-fix

An Oregon startup has developed a pocket-size device that uses tiny sponges to stop bleeding fast

Rose Pastore reports:  When a soldier is shot on the battlefield, the emergency treatment can seem as brutal as the injury itself. A medic must pack gauze directly into the wound cavity, sometimes as deep as 5 inches into the body, to stop bleeding from an artery. It’s an agonizing process that doesn’t always work–if bleeding hasn’t stopped after three minutes of applying direct pressure, the medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again. It’s so painful, “you take the guy’s gun away first,” says former U.S. Army Special Operations medic John Steinbaugh.

Even with this emergency treatment, many soldiers still bleed to death;hemorrhage is a leading cause of death on the battlefield. “Gauze bandages just don’t work for anything serious,” says Steinbaugh, who tended to injured soldiers during more than a dozen deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. When Steinbaugh retired in April 2012 after a head injury, he joined an Oregon-based startup called RevMedx, a small group of veterans, scientists, and engineers who were working on a better way to stop bleeding. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Harsh: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ Blunt Critique of Obama’s Leadership in ‘Duty’

 has an item in today’s WaPo that will stir some conversation:

Robert Gates: A look at his career in government: He served as defense secretary under both presidents George W. Bush and Obama, bridging the two administrations and earning a reputation as careful, conservative and consensus-oriented.

Robert Gates: A look at his career in government: He served as defense secretary under both presidents George W. Bush and Obama, bridging the two administrations and earning a reputation as careful, conservative and consensus-oriented.

 writes:  In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”

Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes.

As a candidate, Obama had made plain his opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion while embracing the Afghanistan war as a necessary response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, requiring even more military resources to succeed. In Gates’s highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Six Most Infuriating Hoaxes of 2013

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 writes:  Trash TV legend Morton Downey, Jr. made a highly questionable claim in 1989 that he was attacked by neo-Nazis in a San Francisco International Airport restroom. He said they shaved his head and painted a backwards swastika on his face. Every year it seems as if these hate crime hoaxes increase. But lies about hate crimes are just one kind of whopper. As we close out 2013, awash in daily social media outrage and as gullible as ever, here are six hoaxes that suckered far too many journalists and others.

The lying lesbian waitress

In mid-November, waitress Dayna Morales sent a picture to Have A Gay Daypurporting to show that customers left her a mean note in place of a tip. The receipt allegedly said: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I don’t agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.” Outraged Americans expressed their shock and horror at the mean note, sharing the picture and associated stories tens of thousands of times. Everyone patted themselves on the back for agreeing that this was hateful homophobic behavior. Thousands of dollars in donations poured in for the former Marine. The only problem is that the story had no basis in fact. The family whose receipt was shown proved that they had actually tipped 20% on their bill. Friends told media outlets that this was just the latest in a string of extraordinary stories told by Morales, who was dishonorably discharged from the military for failing to turn up to drills. She had told friends, reportedly, that she was the only survivor of a bomb blast in Afghanistan. She also reportedly made fantastic claims about incurable brain cancer, sustaining major damage in Hurricane Sandy and being impregnated by her father. At one point Morales claimed she would donate the gifts she received to the Wounded Warrior Project, but the group couldn’t verify if she made any donation.

The dramatic love life of Manti Te’o

Manti Teʻo, linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, played in college for the University of Notre Dame. One of the more interesting stories of the 2012 college football season was Te’o’s excellent leadership on the field after enduring the deaths of his beloved grandmother and beautiful girlfriend. His name was mentioned frequently as a Heisman contender and the deaths were mentioned in all the major media write-ups of his amazing season. In January of this year,Deadspin revealed that the very existence of the girlfriend was a hoax — an online relationship with a man posing as a woman.

Elan Gale’s fake fight on an airplane

On Thanksgiving Day, reality television producer Elan Gale tweeted out an imaginative tale of a very rude woman on a packed airplane. Twitter lost its collective mind over how awful this woman — who was berating a flight attendant, according to the tweets — was. She didn’t exist and Gale later revealed that he’d invented the woman as a way to entertain himself and his followers while on a flight. It being Thanksgiving, journalists went ahead and reported the event as fact without verifying it.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Great Game

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The Weekly Standard‘s  Ken Jensen writes: The cartoon above is from the Great Game era in Central Asia, when the British and Russians were in a contest for places like Afghanistan and Iran. It’s strongly (perhaps perversely) suggestive given current events.

Could it be that, in withdrawing from the Middle East, the United States believes the Russian bear will sit on the Persian (nuclear-clawed) cat and keep him in order—along with Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon—so that the (cowardly) lion(s) of the West can stand by and do nothing?

Could this be the realpolitik fantasy that underlies Obama’s “multipolar” Middle East fantasy?


Afghanistan Opium Harvest at Record High

The report said police had tripled their effectiveness at seizing drugs

The report said police had tripled their effectiveness at seizing drugs

Afghan opium cultivation has reached a record level, with more than 200,000 hectares planted with the poppy for the first time, the United Nations says.

The UNODC report said the harvest was 36% up on last year, and if fully realised would outstrip global demand.

Most of the rise was in Helmand province, where British troops are preparing to withdraw.

One of the main reasons the UK sent troops to Helmand was to cut opium production.

David Loyn reports from the village where Afghans have been buried after being executed for trying to smuggle opium into Iran

David Loyn reports from the village where Afghans have been buried after being executed for trying to smuggle opium into Iran

The head of the UN office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Kabul, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, said that production was likely to rise again next year, amid uncertainty over the withdrawal of most foreign troops and the presidential election.

Read the rest of this entry »


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