Saturday, October 31, 2009

The War Crimes News Fall Edition: Afghanistan Escalates; Civilian Casualties Rise!

The War Crimes News Fall Edition: Afghanistan Escalates; Civilian Casualties Rise!

US Quietly Speeds Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Military Aid to Pakistan

The number of American Special Forces soldiers and support personnel who are training and 'advising' Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops has doubled in the past eight months to 150

29 Oct 2009 The United States has quietly rushed hundreds of millions of dollars in arms, equipment and sophisticated sensors to Pakistani forces in recent months, said senior American and Pakistani officials. During preparations this spring for the Pakistani campaigns in Swat and South Waziristan, President Obama personally intervened at the request of Pakistan’s top army general to speed the delivery of 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters... American military surveillance drones are feeding video images and target information to Pakistani ground commanders, and the Pentagon has quietly provided the Pakistani Air Force with high-resolution, infrared sensors for F-16 warplanes, which Pakistan is using to guide bomb attacks on militants’ strongholds in South Waziristan.

UN Report Accuses Israel Of War Crimes
The Muslim News
... continued Palestinian rocket fire, and concluded that the Israeli army was guilty of countless war crimes, and possibly even crimes against humanity. ...See all stories on this topic

Gaza War Crimes: Why Did The PA Stall The Vote On The Goldstone Report?
The Muslim News
Both the Obama Administration and Israel have exerted intense pressure on the Palestinian delegation to drop its accusations on Israeli war crimes committed ...See all stories on this topic

The Brandeis Hoot » The Goldstone Report: A Biased Witch Hunt ...
By Brandeis University
The Goldstone Report–a war crimes report by Justice Richard J. Goldstone of the United Nations–is not objective, and is in fact tainted by bias from not only one sector of the United Nations (The Human Rights Council) but the body as a ...The Brandeis Hoot -

The Court » Blog Archive » Amici Curiae: Badgering Counsel ...
By Cameron MacLean and Chanakya Sethi
Jeremy Scahill writes in The Nation that “mercenary firm” Blackwater (now known as Xe Services LLC) and its owner, Erik Prince, may yet be liable for war crimes allegedly committed against Iraqi civilians. Last week, U.S. District Court ...The Court -

MIDEAST – Palestinians File Lawsuits Over Gaza War : Global ...
By editors
As South African Justice Richard Goldstone's UN report on
war crimes in Gaza continues to gain international legitimacy, the Gazans behind the civil lawsuits, which include claims that amount to tens of millions of dollars, ...
Global Geopolitics News and Analysis -

Obama Seeks Options For Sending Fewer To War : He Asks Pentagon Chiefs For Alternatives To Troop Requests On Afghanistan

By Anne E. Kornblut and Greg Jaffe

How the Taliban made a comeback
Oct. 30: NBC’s Richard Engel explains how the Taliban has become stronger in Afghanistan, despite how its members once fled to Pakistan after U.S. forces arrived to hunt al-Qaida in 2001.

Torn by conflict
Afghanistan's tumultuous history

Highly touted, but misguided ideas about Afghanistan

A threat greater than the Taliban?

Clinton rebukes Pakistan on hunt for al-Qaeda leaders

WASHINGTON - President Obama has asked the Pentagon's top generals to provide him with more options for troop levels in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials said late Friday, with one adding that some of the alternatives would allow Obama to send fewer new troops than the roughly 40,000 requested by his top commander.

Obama met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on Friday, holding a 90-minute discussion that centered on the strain on the force after eight years of war in two countries. The meeting -- the first of its kind with the chiefs of the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, who were not part of the president's war council meetings on Afghanistan in recent weeks -- prompted Obama to request another such meeting before he announces a decision on sending additional troops, the officials said.

The military chiefs have been largely supportive of a resource request by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, that would by one Pentagon estimate require the deployment of 44,000 additional troops. But opinion among members of Obama's national security team is divided, and he now appears to be seeking a compromise solution that would satisfy both his military and civilian advisers.

Obama is expected to receive several options from the Pentagon about troop levels next week, according to the two officials, who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

Which Strategy To Embrace?

Before he can determine troop levels, his advisers have said, he must decide whether to embrace a strategy focused heavily on counterinsurgency, which would require additional forces to protect population centers, or one that makes counterterrorism the main focus of U.S. efforts in the country, which would rely on relatively fewer American troops.

One option under review involves a blend of the two approaches, featuring an emphasis on counterterrorism in the north and some parts of western Afghanistan as well as an expanded counterinsurgency effort in the south and east, one of the officials said. Obama has also asked for a province-by-province review of the country to determine which areas can by managed effectively by local leaders.

The president appears committed to adding at least 10,000 to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan in an effort to bolster the training of Afghan army and police officers in the country. Current plans call for the United States to double the size of the Afghan army and police forces to about 400,000 in the hope that they can take over security responsibilities.

In meeting with the military chiefs, Obama heard their assessment of the how prepared the services are to handle a new commitment. "Each chief discussed the state of their own service, how they are doing today and what the long-term consequences will be for each of their services," an administration official said. The military advisers also put the troop deployments in the context of the rest of their global deployments, including in Iraq.

It was not a "recommendations meeting," with concrete options of how to proceed, the official said. That will presumably come in the next such meeting, which has not been scheduled.


The timing of Obama's decision on Afghanistan remains up in the air. But his request for another meeting with the military chiefs -- and the expectation that he will meet again with his top national security advisers before reaching a conclusion -- may leave him too little time to decide the issue before he travels to Asia on Nov. 11. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to be overseas for much of that time, except for a brief stint at home from Wednesday to Friday, giving Obama little opportunity to convene his war council in person. It appears increasingly likely that Obama will not announce his new Afghanistan strategy until after returning to the United States on Nov. 20.

Obama has come under criticism from Republicans, notably former vice president Richard B. Cheney, for deliberating so long, but his advisers have said he is determined to get the decision right rather than satisfy his critics.

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In contrast to Iraq, where there was significant dissension on whether to deploy an additional 30,000 troops in 2007, the top brass has been mostly united in the support of McChrystal's call for more troops in Afghanistan.

Both Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in the Middle East, have told the administration that they agree with McChrystal's dire assessment of the security situation and his call for more forces to wrest the initiative back from the Taliban.

Concerns About Dwell Time

The service chiefs have not publicly voiced either support or opposition. Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps chief, had campaigned hard this year for the Marines to play a much larger role in the country. In internal meetings, Army chief Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has raised concerns about "dwell time" -- the periods that troops have at home between deployments.

The Army is particularly concerned that soldiers who spend less than 18 months at home between combat tours do not have enough time to train for high-intensity tank warfare.

A U.S.-Iraq security pact requires the United States to withdraw its forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, which would reduce some of the strain on the American military. But bombings this week in Baghdad, which killed more than 155 Iraqis, raise questions about whether Iraq is stable enough to allow for an accelerated drawdown in advance of that deadline, as some military officials had hoped.

More on: Afghanistan


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