German DM Mentions the War… in Afghanistan

An outrageous thing has happened today in Germany: the Defense Minister has used the word “war” to describe the, uh, war in Afghanistan. As Justin Raimondo might say: Germans are shocked — shocked! You see, these people burdened by national collective memories of WWII thought they were sending peacekeepers to Afghanistan — sure, sure, armed to the teeth and swathed in armor, but still, I mean, the UN approves. And now this bad man tells them it’s a war over there.

But DM Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is still within acceptable boundaries of discourse, as he technically said the fighting in Afghanistan was “war-like.” This keeps him in line with his predecessor Franz Josef Jung, fond of saying “this is not a war,” and that his soldiers are on a “mission for stability and the peaceful development of the nation.”

Aside from the general “revulsion for war” among Germans, there are practical concerns. Insurance carriers will not pay out for men killed in “war,” so in (I guess) an effort to save a few marks, the government classifies “war” as something that can only be carried out between sovereign states, and Afghan wedding parties apparently aren’t technically a country.

Guttenberg further clarified that the “war” label is used by his soldiers, those ignorants of the finer points of international law; to them “the Taliban is waging a war against the soldiers of the international community.”

Shame on the “Taliban” — code for anyone who dares to take up arms against foreign invaders in Afghanistan — for somehow teleporting their country under the feet of so many American and European troops and then having the gall to fight back when drone-bombed, and further, refusing to adopt a societal model that would give rise to a centralized European-style social democratic state! A backward civilization, indeed.

How idiots win hearts and minds – – –

ORZALA ASHRAF: What would you expect from those children who lost their feet or their arm or their mother or their father during that kind of bombing? What would you expect from them? Do you expect them to join the peace process? Do you expect them to say, “I have excused you”?… –Rethink Afghanistan: Filmmaker Robert Greenwald Launches Film Opposing Escalation of War

Why Are British Troops in Afghanistan?

So, more British soldiers have now been killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq. Why are British troops in Afghanistan? We know why American forces are in Afghanistan–to fight the Taliban terrorists “over there” so we don’t have to fight them “over here,” to find Osama bin Laden, to avenge the 9/11 attacks, and to defend our freedoms, or at least these are things that many Americans think. But why are British troops in Afghanistan? Britain had no 9/11. But Britain is our ally. Well, Israel is our ally. Japan is our ally. Germany is our ally (in this war). How many soldiers from Israel, Japan, and Germany are in Afghanistan? I wonder how many Americans would support U.S. troops in Afghanistan if things were just the opposite and it was Britain that was waging a war on terror because of a 9/11 attack? If I lived in Britain, I would be even more outraged than I am as an American because of American troops in Afghanistan.

Ron Paul on the War Funding Bill

On June 15, Rep. Ron Paul gave the following speech in opposition to the Democrats’ new $106 Billion war funding bill, after it was sent back to the House from the conference committee. (The bill passed Tuesday evening.):

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this conference report on the War Supplemental Appropriations. I wonder what happened to all of my colleagues who said they were opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder what happened to my colleagues who voted with me as I opposed every war supplemental request under the previous administration. It seems, with very few exceptions, they have changed their position on the war now that the White House has changed hands. I find this troubling. As I have said while opposing previous war funding requests, a vote to fund the war is a vote in favor of the war. Congress exercises its constitutional prerogatives through the power of the purse.

This conference report, being a Washington-style compromise, reflects one thing Congress agrees on: spending money we do not have. So this “compromise” bill spends 15 percent more than the president requested, which is $9 billion more than in the original House bill and $14.6 billion more than the original Senate version. Included in this final version — in addition to the $106 billion to continue the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — is a $108 billion loan guarantee to the International Monetary Fund, allowing that destructive organization to continue spending taxpayer money to prop up corrupt elites and promote harmful economic policies overseas.

As Americans struggle through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, this emergency supplemental appropriations bill sends billions of dollars overseas as foreign aid. Included in this appropriation is $660 million for Gaza, $555 million for Israel, $310 million for Egypt, $300 million for Jordan, and $420 million for Mexico. Some $889 million will be sent to the United Nations for “peacekeeping” missions. Almost one billion dollars will be sent overseas to address the global financial crisis outside our borders and nearly $8 billion will be spent to address a “potential pandemic flu.”

Mr. Speaker, I continue to believe that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home from Iraq and Afghanistan. If one looks at the original authorization for the use of force in Afghanistan, it is clear that the ongoing and expanding nation-building mission there has nothing to do with our goal of capturing and bringing to justice those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. Our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan does not make us safer at home, but in fact it undermines our national security. I urge my colleagues to defeat this reckless conference report.

Deadly Shell Game: Picking Afghanistan’s Casualty Figures

A frenzy over the 500th U.S. servicemember to die in Afghanistan developed in the media this week. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan surpassed 500 GIs recently, or perhaps it will reach that milestone soon…or…did we actually cross that line long ago? While the AP admits that accurate casualty figures are hard to come by thanks to lags in Defense Department reports and the difficulty of independent confirmation in the region, the situation gets a little more complicated than that. Operation Enduring Freedom, often referred to as the Afghan War, actually spans several nations. The South Asian country is simply the main focal point of this “war on terror” that was formulated in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The AP specifically counted deaths in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Elsewhere, the New York Times came up with a slightly different set of numbers themselves, but their handy chart quickly reveals just how spread out the operation really is. U.S. servicemembers were also killed in countries as far from Afghanistan as are the Philippines, Mali, and even Cuba, so while the AP admirably tallied the deaths in and around Afghanistan, the worldwide U.S. toll for this military excursion is almost 15% higher. Perhaps AP cherry-picked these particular numbers because 500 is more of a “newsworthy milestone” than 562 deaths (Pentagon figures) or 569 deaths (Icasualties.org), but whatever the reason behind it, keeping the deadliness of the “Afghan War” in the headlines is of utmost importance, especially during this campaign season.