A Monday announcement from the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor saying his office is seeking approval to resume its investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State—but excluding alleged atrocities committed by U.S. forces—sparked a flurry of outrage from human rights defenders.
“It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted Monday in response to the announcement. Continue reading →
While mercenary armies like Blackwater have at least been subject to inquiry, making the company’s name infamous around the world, Creative Associates International has largely flown under the radar — exactly where the organization’s board wants it to be.
You have likely not heard of them, but Creative Associates International (CAI) is one of the largest and most powerful non-governmental organizations operating anywhere in the world. A pillar of soft U.S. power, the group has been an architect in privatizing the Iraqi education system, designed messenger apps meant to overthrow the government of Cuba, served as a front group for the infamous Blackwater mercenary force (now rebranded as Academi), and liaised with Contra death squads in Nicaragua. As such, it has functioned as “both as an instrument of foreign policy and as a manifestation of a broader imperial project,” in the words of Professor Kenneth Saltman of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Continue reading →
Seventy-two hours after entering Kabul, the Taliban are effectively in control of all of Afghanistan. The chaotic and heart-breaking scenes at the airport stem in large part from appalling intelligence failures by the US, the British and their NATO allies, and it is difficult to see how their governments can make amends apart from providing emergency humanitarian assistance.
In the UK, there are also direct questions to be asked of Boris Johnson’s government. By last Thursday it was already clear that the Taliban were making substantial gains, but the foreign secretary stayed on holiday and Johnson took off for his own break on Saturday. In the wider international community, the UK’s standing is near rock bottom, and one suspects Johnson is not far off being a laughing stock. Continue reading →
Two weeks ago, there was still a belief that the Taliban might take months to take control of Afghanistan and that they might even agree to a peace deal, perhaps viewing one as a useful step on their way to power.
That has now changed dramatically. Last week, the US called a desperate, last-ditch meeting with Taliban negotiators in Doha, the Qatari capital, involving countries in the region, as well as Russia and China. The aim was to convince the Taliban that they would be treated as a pariah state if they seized power by force. In parallel, the Afghan government offered a share of power in return for a ceasefire. Negotiations have since ended with both endeavours failing. Continue reading →
“I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe… I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.”
Whistleblower Daniel Hale faces sentencing after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking classified information about the U.S. targeted drone assassination program. (Photo: Bob Hayes/handout)
Attorneys for drone whistleblower Daniel Hale—who faces sentencing next week after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating the Espionage Act—on Thursday submitted a letter to Judge Liam O’Grady in which the former Air Force intelligence analyst says a crisis of conscience drove him to leak classified information about the U.S. targeted assassination program.
The 11-page handwritten letter (pdf) begins with a quote from U.S. Admiral Gene La Rocque, who said in 1995 that “we now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away… Since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse.” Continue reading →
Military leaders in the United States and Britain, as well as allied countries, now accept that they have lost their war with the Taliban.
When US President Joe Biden confirmed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, this was tacit acceptance of a position that is rarely stated so bluntly in public. Although General Austin S Miller, the US commander in Afghanistan, came close this week when he admitted it was worrisome that as his troops pull out, there has been a rapid loss of districts throughout the country to the Taliban. Continue reading →
Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley | Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, DOD, CC BY 2.0
The United States responded to the 9/11 attacks by terminating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and quashing al-Qaida. At the time there was widespread domestic support for the action and most allied states were also in agreement, at least at first. A few analysts were more cautious and the openDemocracy view at the time was that al-Qaida wanted a war, to show how significant it was but also to trap Western forces in Afghanistan and drag the United States down in much the same way as Soviet Union had been in the 1980s.
Now, there are signs that precisely that is happening, with the Afghan government and the Taliban agreeing to an outline of how negotiations on a peace settlement might be achieved. This comes after two months of talks in Qatar that have really been between the United States and the Taliban. The main topic of the talks was the withdrawal of all uniformed US forces by next May in return for a Taliban ceasefire and a pledge from Taliban leadership that they would not allow al-Qaida or ISIS to maintain a presence in the country. Continue reading →
The Trump administration on Wednesday announced sanctions targeting International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the court’s prosecution jurisdiction division director. (Photo: ICC)
Human rights advocates the world over condemned the Trump administration on Wednesday for imposing sanctions on two top officials at the International Criminal Court—just the latest act of retaliation for the Hague-based ICC’s ongoing investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by U.S. forces and others in Afghanistan during the so-called War on Terror.
“The Trump administration’s perverse use of sanctions, devised for alleged terrorists and drug kingpins, against prosecutors seeking justice for grave international crimes, magnifies the failure of the U.S. to prosecute torture,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The administration’s conjuring up a ‘national emergency’ to punish war crimes prosecutors shows utter disregard for the victims.” Continue reading →
Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.
One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.
Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading →