Global Policy Forum


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Afghanistan, remote and mountainous, has seen many conflicts. The terrible civil war of more recent times began in 1979 as the Soviet Union intervened to prop up a friendly regime. For nearly a decade Islamic rebels, backed mainly by the United States and Saudi Arabia, fought the Soviet army. The CIA secretly funded and armed Maktab al-Khadimat, established to recruit and train fighters from around the Arab world to battle the Russians. Osama Bin Laden was one of its top leaders. The rebels eventually forced a Soviet withdrawal in 1989. There followed a violent power struggle between the various Islamic militias, never unified, for control of the country. The Taliban, supported by Pakistan, won control of the capital, Kabul, and most of the country by 1996.

On October 7, 2001, the United States launched military strikes against the Taliban regime in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, said to have been masterminded by bin Laden from his base in Afghanistan. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the US demanded the Taliban surrender Bin Laden to the appropriate authorities, but the Taliban rejected the ultimatum. US military intervention followed. At the UN-supported Bonn conference in December 2001, representatives from four Afghan factions agreed to establish a broad-based interim government. The US-backed Pashtun leader Hamid Karzai, exiled under the Taliban, was installed as Afghanistan's new interim president.

Despite the presence of the International Security Assistance Force, deployed in December 2001 to defend the Afghanistan Transitional Authority, and the work of the UN political mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, civil war continues and Afghanistan has become a "failed state." The authority of President Hamid Karzai, victor in the presidential election of October 2004, barely extends beyond Kabul's suburbs, with warlords once again in control of most of the country and a rampant opium trade supplying funding for local militias.


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Is Afghanistan, ‘Iraq, the Sequel’? (November 3, 2011)

During its decade long involvement in Afghanistan, the US has shifted strategies and struggled with a lack of clarity concerning the end goal. Although the words peace, reconciliation and reintegration are frequently invoked in the US Afghan policy, stability has not been brought to the country. The ways to reach peace is either by the surrender of one side, or through a negotiated settlement by the parties. However, the US has done little to assure or facilitate a reconciliation process that would lead to a peace agreement within the country. (Open Democracy)

US Gains in Afghanistan Fragile, Uncertain (October 5, 2011)

President Obama announced in June that the US would withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011, followed by an additional withdrawal of 23,000 the following year. As the deadline nears, this article looks at the situation in Afghanistan ten years after the start of the invasion. Although the country is no longer under Taliban rule, and access to basic services has increased, not much has changed. The war, now US longest, continues at great fiscal and human costs. (Al Jazeera)


Chance of Political End to Afghan War Grows Remote (November 15, 2010)

NATO proposes stepped-up military operations on the ground in Afghanistan as the only way to bring insurgents to the negotiating table. Mullah Omar, a Taliban leader rejected peace talks with the Afghan government, to which NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, argues that increasing military pressure on the Taliban will stimulate reconciliation talks. President Karzai has argued that Afghan forces should take the lead role and foreign troops should confine themselves to their bases. Mr. Karzai's remarks reportedly angered U.S. General David Petraeus, but the head of NATO accepts it as part of the alliance's own goal to eventually play a supporting role to Afghan soldiers and police. (Globe & Mail)

Afghan Police Earn Poor Grade for Marja Mission (June 1, 2010)

A contingent of specialized Afghan police officers, described as the Interior Ministry's "most promising force" by US officials, has been tainted by reports of "drug use, petty corruption and a lack of commitment to the duties of uniformed life." US Marines report incidents of checkpoints being abandoned and officers not being trained properly in the rules of engagement. This early assessment of such a high profile unit raises questions about whether Afghan police forces can operate effectively and whether the US disengagement plan will eventually be followed. (New York Times)

Pentagon Report: Still Not Enough Troops for Afghanistan Operations (April 29, 2010)

The Pentagon's Annual Report to Congress on the "Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan" and the "United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces" has revealed that violence in Afghanistan has increased 87 percent between February 2009 and March 2010 despite the Obama Administration increasing troops by 50,000 in the past year. The 150 page Progress Report notes that one of the key challenges facing US forces is recruiting a sufficient amount of experienced Afghan troops and police. (Uruknet)

Fueling the Afghan War (April 21, 2010)

The process of awarding fuel contracts in Afghanistan has changed from competitive to sole source with the US government justifying the change by citing the "national security" exception which provides that "full and open competition need not be provided when the disclosure of the agency's needs would compromise national security." Red Star Enterprises and Mina Corp, two secretive offshore companies run by a former Army intelligence officer, have benefited significantly from this change in policy. Red Star Enterprises has a sole source contract worth more than $1 billion to deliver fuel to Bagram Airbase and Mina has a sole source contract, awarded without any announcement, to provide fuel to a huge base in Kyrgyzstan. (The Nation)

Dread Surrounds Operation Hope (April 19, 2010)

The US military will launch a major offensive in Afghanistan's province of Kandahar in the early summer. General Stanley McChrystal has said that his counter-insurgency strategy depends on winning the "hearts and minds" of the population. But it seems that Washington and its alliies are already losing the war on that front. At the beginning of April, tribal elders in Kandahar insisted they did not want a military offensive against the Taliban in their region. On April 12, US troops opened fire on a passenger bus at a security checkpoint, killing civilians and further worsening relations between the local population and the foreign forces. (Global Post)

US Special Forces 'Tried to Cover-Up' Botched Khataba Raid in Afghanistan (April 5, 2010)

On February 12, US and Afghan Special Forces stormed a home in Khataba village, eastern Afghanistan based on "reliable information in search of a Taliban insurgent." The "botched" night raid resulted in two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother being shot while shouting their innocence. After the shooting US Special Forces soldiers proceeded to dig the bullets out of the victims bodies and wash their wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what occurred. NATO has admitted responsibility for the deaths but denies there has been a cover-up. (Times)

Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints (March 26, 2010)

We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat" stated General Stanley A. McChrystal, senior US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, in response to questions about civilian deaths in the country. Since mid-2009, US and NATO soldiers have killed 30 innocent Afghans and wounded 80 more at military checkpoints and driving convoy operations. The actual figure is probably much higher, as these numbers do not include shooting deaths caused by convoys guarded by private security contractors. (New York Times)

Policing Afghanistan: How Afghan Police Training Became a Train Wreck (March 21, 2010)

US private security contractors training Afghanistan's police force is "a disaster in the making", states Eckart Schiewek, a senior UN official. In some police "training" centers, Afghani civilians will be granted a badge, gun and uniform after only three-weeks training! However, three weeks appears opulent compared to the ten-day training program offered by DynCorp, a Virginia-based private security firm. International Crisis Group asserts that these ridiculously short programs actually lower literacy rates and decrease police efficacy. (TomDispatch)

US May Expand Use of its Prison in Afghanistan (March 21, 2010)

The White House, after soliciting suggestions from the Department of Justice and the CIA, is considering a Guantanamo style expansion of the Bagram airbase prison in Afghanistan. The proposed expansion signals a retreat by the Obama Administration from its previous policy and a readiness to continue the era of abusive detainment begun by George W Bush in the name of the "War on Terror." (Los Angeles Times)

The 700 Military Bases of Afghanistan (February 10, 2010)

At present there are over 700 military bases operating in Afghanistan including nearly 400 US and coalition bases and at least 300 Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police bases (most of which are built, maintained or supported by the US). As part of the Obama Administrations "surge" in Afghanistan, over $3 billion is being spent on various construction projects including the upgrade and enlargement of bases such as Bagram and the building of new bases such as Shinwar. This "base-building boom" marks the next round of foreign occupation in Afghanistan. (TomDispatch)

America's Secret Afghan Prisons (January 28, 2010)

As the US military pursues its anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan, night raids have become "even more feared and hated than airstrikes." Night raids often result in the arrest of persons with little tangible evidence. These "suspects" are taken to one of nine Field Detention Sites located on US military bases around the country. Some are released whereas others disappear entirely. Afghan human rights campaigners are concerned that US forces may be using secret detention sites to carry out covert interrogations.



The Nine Surges of Obama's War (December 10, 2009)

US President Barack Obama's declaration that he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan does not mark the beginning of the Afghanistan "surge."  The US has in fact been in a constant state of "surge" since the last days of the Bush administration. Tom Englehardt lists nine examples of US escalation which occurred before Obama's speech.  He points to the fact that Obama had already sent 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan last March. Furthermore the civilian surge of US "experts" will have tripled in a year by January 2010, and the CIA's drone attacks have been steadily escalating since the early days of Obama's administration. (TomDispatch)

How Many Private Contractors are There in Afghanistan? Military Gives Us a Number (December 2, 2009)

US President Barack Obama failed to make any mention to US contractors in Afghanistan during his escalation speech. His silence, replicated by much of the US media, conceals the true extent of US presence in Afghanistan. The size of the contracting force - which already poses great problems of accountability and transparency - has been given at 104, 100 and will grow further in the near future. (TMP)

Dodging the Real Questions on Afghanistan (December 2, 2009)

On December 1, 2009, US President Barack Obama declared that the US would be sending 30,000 additional troops to fight in Afghanistan. His speech reflected an increase of troops and resources rather than a new strategy. Obama failed to address central critiques of his policy, as he ignored the question of whether an increase in US troops might fuel insurgency rather than quash it, or the risk that the "surge" may further destabilize Pakistan. (American Prospect)

Afghan Chaos as Abdullah Pulls Out of Election (November 2, 2009)

Hamid Karzai has been declared president of Afghanistan following the decision by the Afghan electoral commission to cancel the November 7 run-off. Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's rival, had withdrawn from the race claiming that the election would not be fair or free. Afghanistan's international backers now find themselves having to insist that Karzai's regime is legitimate, despite having originally insisted on a run-off. (The Independent)

US Diplomat Matthew Hoh's Resignation Letter (October 27, 2009)

Diplomat Matthew Hoh has become the first US official to resign in protest at the war in Afghanistan. A former US marine captain who fought in Iraq, Hoh was posted to the province of Zabul before tendering his resignation in September 2009 . In his letter, Hoh writes that he has "lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the US presence in Afghanistan." He also states that US presence is fuelling the insurgency- which is not motivated out of loyalty for the Taliban but driven by resentment of foreign rule. Hoh further argues that US presence in Afghanistan has led to increased destabilization in Pakistan.

The "Safe Haven" Myth (October 21, 2009)

The "Safe Haven" myth continues to be used as one of the key justifications for war in Afghanistan. According to this myth, the continued presence of US forces in Afghanistan prevents  Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in North America. But even if Western forces were to withdraw tomorrow, there would be little incentive for what is left of Al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan. Furthermore, Al Qaeda- even in 2001 - were the fringe group of a fringe group, the "core" of which has not organized any operations from Afghanistan since September 11th. (The Nation)

Afghanistan: Limits of Military Power (September 18, 2009)

US policy makers advocate building an Afghan army as the solution to the Afghanistan war.  Other strategists have suggested that this may be unworkable, proposing instead to remove Western troops and to fight the war remotely using aerial drones. But drone warfare would kill more civilians and would have serious long term consequences for peace in the region. (openDemocracy)

Afghanistan Election Fraud and the High Price of Empire (September 10, 2009)

Hamid Karzai was given the presidency of Afghanistan under US occupation in 2004. The latest elections in Afghanistan re-elected Karzai but they are said to be fraudulent. The United States claims to be promoting democracy, but its worldwide interests drive policy, rather than purported concerns about freedom, human rights and fair elections. (The Nation)

Merkel Warns of ‘Premature Judgments' of Afghan Raid (September 8, 2009)

An airstrike ordered by German troops in cooperation with the US has reportedly killed 70 villagers in Northern Afghanistan. Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, strongly replied to the international criticism of this event stating that she would not accept any "premature judgements" about the airstrike. This bombing is a particularly delicate issue as it is the deadliest episode involving German troops since World War II, and it is currently being investigated by a NATO commission. Merkel, who is running for her second term, faces strong resistance from more than 70% of Germans who oppose to country's existing commitment of 4,0000 troops in Afghanistan. (New York Times)

Healthcare vs. Warfare: The Future Costs of the Afghanistan War (September 8, 2009)

The struggle in the US to adopt health care reform and to end warfare are linked. Projected expense for healthcare reform for the US on average is $100 billion per year for the next 10 years. On the other hand, the cost to continue wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are between $55 and $100 billion per year and maybe more. Congress is likely to pass the Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2010 which is about $130 billion. General McChrystal is expected to request additional deployment of 15,000 to 45,000 US troops in Afghanistan, which would increase the total number of US troops to between 84,000 and 114,000. This article analyses the critical decision making process which results in spending for such massive military endeavors. (CommonDreams)

Brown Pledges to Maintain Britain's Afghan Force (September 4, 2009)

Germany, Italy, France and Spain are showing resistance to keeping troops in Afghanistan. Even in the United Kingdom, public opinion polls show that support for British forces in Afghanistan is falling. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has recommitted his government to its partnership with the United States in the Afghan conflict. (New York Times)

Obama's War: Afghanistan is spelled V-I-E-T-N-A-M (August 28, 2009)

In February 2009, US President Barack Obama escalated the Afghanistan War by increasing the number of troops deployed by 17,000. The current administration presents Afghanistan as a threat to US national security, warning of dire consequences were the US to withdraw. President Lyndon Johnson painted the war in Vietnam in much the same way. (Common Dreams)

Afghanistan: 'Armed Nation Building'? (July 27, 2009)

Military analyst Anthony Cordesman has published a paper on the US war in Afghanistan. The report depicts the Afghan war as "armed nation-building." The author analyzes the restructuring of Afghanistan's government and economy after 30 years of nearly continuous conflict. He discusses a plan for a speedy withdrawal of Western troops from the country with the help of Afghanistan's neighbors. (Justworldnews)

The Irresistible Illusion (July 9, 2009)

Political leaders have portrayed the war in Afghanistan as the "right war", particularly in comparison to the war in Iraq. Washington has turned the war into a moral crusade, where the West has both the "imperative" and the "justification" for involvement. The specific aim of destroying Al Qaida is to be achieved through vaguely defined "state building", yet the US and its allies have less power, knowledge and commitment than their lofty rhetoric aspires to.  (London Review of Books)

The Pressure of an Expanding War (May 21, 2009)

Tom Engelhardt analyses the "Af-Pak" war, and the various ways in which it is expanding. The US is building a 443-acre base in Afghanistan (Camp Leatherneck) that will support up to 8,000 US troops, and host helicopters and planes. From there the CIA and the US Air Force will escalate drone attacks against Pakistan, whose efficiency is limited. Drones have claimed the life of some 700 civilians, including 14 Taliban leaders. The repetitive attacks and raids by US Special Forces on Pakistan soil have the potential to extend a guerilla into a full-fledged war in Pakistan. (Tomdispatch)

Finding Clarity in the Baluchistan Conundrum (April 23, 2009)

Baluchistan is a tribal region of southern Pakistan strategically located east of Iran and south of Afghanistan. The root cause of violence in Baluchistan is not a result of internal poverty or a lack of development, but due to covert operations of foreign intelligence agencies.  The CIA and Mossad support Baloch rebels in their attempt to break away from Pakistan. Why are the US, Afghanistan, India and Iran involved in the internal affairs of Pakistan? The region has huge quantities of natural gas, and unexplored oil reserves and these countries have a strong interest in building an oil pipeline from Central Asia, through Afghanistan into Baluchistan. (Axis of Logic)

The AfPak Paradox (April 1, 2009)

The US administration has presented its new policy on Afghanistan as an "exit strategy" when in reality it includes a surge of an additional 30, 000 troops. The policy relies on Pakistan's willingness to supply troops alongside NATO forces, and to allow the CIA to increase its operations along the Afghanistan border. This tactic will increase the violence and delay a withdrawal. (Foreign Policy In Focus)

Multi-billion Dollar Mining Boom: The Economics of War and Empire in Afghanistan (February 27, 2009)

In 2002, the US Geological Survey (USGS) studied the levels of natural resources in Afghanistan and confirmed it possessed large quantities of gold, copper, iron and rare metals, including hydrocarbon resources. In an effort to "develop" the country, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supervises the management of every Afghan state enterprise. Since 2006, the US has overseen the privatization of Afghan gas and mineral extraction to US, British, Canadian and Chinese companies. Many Afghans believe the privatization of Afghanistan's natural resources is a major component in the strategy of NATO states. (Global Research)

The Soils of War (March 2009)

Following the US military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Agency for International Development (USAID) developed agricultural reconstruction programs, which claim to help farmers rebuild their agricultural activities and provide alternatives to the cultivation of opium. However, these programs legitimize the US military occupation and enable foreign seed companies and agribusiness to establish their presence in a potentially lucrative market. The symbiotic work between US military and agribusiness jeopardizes Afghan farmers' livelihood and gives a monopoly to US companies over seed supply to Afghanistan. (Grain)

Secrecy and Denial: Pakistan Lets CIA Use Airbase to Strike Militants (February 18, 2009)

The Times has revealed that the CIA has been using a Pakistani base to secretly launch drones and attack targets in the tribal region of Pakistan. In October 2001, the Pakistani government gave the US permission to use four of its bases but in 2006 announced the withdrawal of US forces and that the bases would remain available only for an emergency. This article revealed that the base is still in operation, however, by tracking the supply of oil from the Pentagon's fuel agency website and identifying an unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 aviation fuel shipped to southern Pakistan.


"Accidents" of War (July 9, 2007)

"Air power -- given the civilian casualties that invariably follow in its wake -- is intensely counterproductive in a guerrilla war," argues this Tom Dispatch article. The author claims that the US military has always favored airstrikes as a principal tactic and frequently uses them in Iraq and Afghanistan because they appear more distant and less barbaric than "the atrocity of the car bomb" or "the beheading." He argues that Washington will likely increase airstrikes in the future, despite the civilian casualties they incur, which devastate Afghanis and Iraqis and further provoke suicide attacks and Improvised Explosive Devices.

Controversy Surrounds Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan Following Civilian Casualties (June 20, 2007)

The US intervention in Afghanistan is beginning to look a lot like Iraq. A US air strike on a religious school in Afghanistan killed seven children. Washington justified its attack, stating that it was not aware that the children were inside the school and that the Taliban used the children as human shields. As air strikes and shootings have killed more than 130 innocents in the past six months, Afghani civilians are angry with both the US and NATO for their aggression. The pro-Western president, Hamid Kharzai, and international forces have also failed to protect the civilians. (Christian Science Monitor)

Muslim Public Opinion on US Policy, Attacks on Civilians and al Qaeda (April 24, 2007)

This World Public Opinion poll conducted in four predominantly Muslim countries finds that the majority of people polled want US forces to leave the Middle East. Additionally, a large majority of respondents believe undermining Islam and spreading Christianity is a key goal of US foreign policy in the region.

Bush's Arc of Instability (April 10, 2007)

Bush administration attempts to bring down "rogue" regimes have failed, argues this TomDispatch article. After launching the "war on terrorism" US officials decided to target governments that makeup a so-called "arc of instability" – an area that ranges from North Africa through Central Asia. The author claims that Washington sought uninterrupted access to these countries' energy resources, but instead of "stabilizing" nations within this arc, US actions have made the region more volatile.



Time Is on the Taliban's Side (December 2, 2006)

US President George Bush failed to convince European leaders at the annual summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to increase troop levels and ease deployment restrictions on troop placements in Afghanistan. This Asia Times article argues that the widespread resistance among NATO countries to send their troops into the dangerous southern areas of Afghanistan demonstrates the failure of the US-led force to properly secure the country following its 2001 invasion.

Afghanistan, Inc. (October 6, 2006)

This CorpWatch report details the inadequacies of the US funded reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. Corruption and graft remain prevalent in the country as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other organizations grant contracts to corporations with minimal oversight and virtually no quality assurance. Such incompetence, fraud and misconduct on the part of USAID and other contractors leaves the Afghan people with poorly constructed schools and medical facilities while corporations get millions of dollars in profits.

Taliban Taking Over (September 5, 2006)

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has implemented numerous policies which have created a humanitarian crisis in the southern part of the country, according to the Senlis Council report. By prioritizing military and counter-narcotics programs instead of those focused on development, the US has forced countless people into poverty. As a result, support for the Taliban continually grows in the south as the group steps in to help those negatively affected. (Inter Press Service)

The War on Terror, Five Years on: An Era of Constant Warfare (September 4, 2006)

Despite pronounced military triumphs in the early stages of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, the US-led coalitions failed to bring stability and democracy to either of these countries. In Iraq the average number of attacks against all targets stands at around 800 a week, whilst civilian deaths have soared to 3,000 every month. Even US President George W. Bush has shifted his rhetoric on US involvement in the Middle East, no longer stressing the benefits of creating peace and security, but instead focusing on the adverse impact of US withdrawal on regional stability. (Independent)



Afghanistan Could Become Terror Haven (February 21, 2005)

A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Report that measures Afghans' personal security, welfare and ability to control their own lives lists Afghanistan as the sixth least developed country in the world. Despite political progress and a booming economy, nearly three quarters of the adult population is illiterate and warlords continue to widen the gap between rich and poor. The report also criticizes the US intervention in Afghanistan, which "helped produce a climate of fear, intimidation, terror and lawlessness." (Associated Press)

Charlie's War, Act Two (July 5, 2005)

Inter Press Service reminds readers that the Afghan Taliban's veteran Islamic fighters were "largely the creation" of the US Central Intelligence Agency, and one man in particular-Congressman Charles Wilson. In a colorful reminder of the importance of humility, foresight and the ends not justifying the means, the author calls for a re-think of US policy, based on the lessons of "Charlie's War."



Afghanistan's Minor Miracle (December 14, 2004)

This opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times tallies Afghanistan's many problems, but insists the international community also remember the country's achievements "lest pessimism culminates in its abandonment by the West - yet again." The author calls on the international community to deliver billions of already-pledged aid, to provide more ISAF troops, and to commit to rebuilding Afghanistan for the long-term. Recalling US "abandonment" of Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the author says, "9/11 should remind us that [Afghanistan's] fate is hardly separable from our own."

An Open Letter to President Hamid Karzai (December 3, 2004)

Following Afghan President Hamid Karzai's inauguration, Human Rights Watch urges the new president to "weaken warlord rule, end impunity and strengthen the rule of law, promote international support for human rights protection and enhanced security, curb abuses by US forces, promote women's rights, and prepare for upcoming parliamentary and local elections." The letter highlights Afghanistan's fragile security, powerful warlords and booming opium industry even as the US heralds Karzai's victory as a triumph for democracy.

Ballots in Battlefields (October 31, 2004)

The author argues that Afghanis voted in US-backed Hamid Karzai as president in the hopes of fighting warlordism and ensuring security, not to support "Karzai's politics of US bootlicking." Karzai and Washington, however, have taken a conciliatory approach to warlords and rely on them for security in the country. The author further suspects that the US engaged in secret negotiations with the Taliban to ensure peaceful elections. Afghanis say democracy in Afghanistan remains "a big question mark," and they must maneuver between US domination and a "pro-democracy movement" emerging from the people. (ZNet)

Afghan Election Concerns Subside (October 11, 2004)

Afghanistan's first election went smoother than anticipated, with little violence and "massive" voter turnout. Several opposition candidates who had initially threatened to boycott the elections under charges of "multiple voting and ink mix-ups," have agreed to accept the findings of an independent commission on the matter. The turnaround seems to result from international lobbying, not least by US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who made it "clear that they were on the wrong side of Afghan public opinion as well as international wishes." (Washington Post)

Afghanistan's Presidential Elections: Spreading Democracy or a Sham? (October 8, 2004)

This article looks critically at the elections in Afghanistan, asserting, "old structures and new US policies favor the handpicked Karzai." Arbitrary district lines, a lack of demographic information, and little means of verifying Afghan citizenship all help the declared Pashtun "majority" of which Karzai is a part. Do the elections point to democracy or will they lead to further ethnic conflict? (Middle East Report Online)

Road to Ruin (October 7, 2004)

This report examines Afghanistan's booming opium industry and its negative effects on security, development and democracy. Even as the Bush administration extols democracy and vilifies terrorism, the US cooperates with militias and warlords linked to drug trafficking. This report calls for sanctions against warlords involved in trafficking, greater security and reconstruction assistance, support for the rule of law, curtailment of crop eradication, and programs for alternative livelihoods for rural communities. (Center on International Cooperation)

Election Results Seen as a Done Deal (July 20, 2004)

Many Afghans question whether the results of the upcoming Presidential elections will reflect popular will. This article argues that "unchecked power of regional commanders, a resurgent Taleban, voter intimidation and United States support for incumbent President Hamed Karzai" all guarantee Karzai's victory, and erode the possibility of a fair and freely contested vote. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Afghanistan, The War The World Forgot (May 25, 2004)

International aid agencies criticize the US and the UK for failing to fulfill their promise to restore order and democracy to Afghanistan, leading the country to "the edge of anarchy." With problems such as drug trafficking and warlordism more threatening than ever, the West must take urgent actions to prevent Afghanistan from plunging into further chaos. (Independent)

The Politics of Afghanistan (April 1, 2004)

This article criticizes the US and the international community for trying to rebuild Afghanistan "on the cheap"— injecting insufficient time, troops and funds. Such tightfisted effort, illustrated by the ill-prepared Afghan elections, can only make the rebuilding of the country fail "with tragic results," argues the Sydney Morning Herald.



Prioritizing Pakistan at the Expense of Afghanistan (September 4, 2003)

The Power and Interest News Report points out that Washington sees advantages to continuing instability in Afghanistan. Central Asia holds key strategic importance for the US. Afghan dependence on the US keeps it isolated from its neighbors and makes it unable to reject US military installations.

Bush's Vietnam (June 22, 2003)

John Pilger, author and documentary filmmaker, draws comparisons between the "rapacious adventures' of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Vietnam War. Once again, the media talks of the US military being "sucked into a quagmire." (New Statesman)

Not Another Afghanistan (May 28, 2003)

Afghanis fear Iraqis will suffer the same years of unrest, countless dead and desperate poverty as Afghanistan does. They also worry that because of the war and reconstruction of Iraq, US and Europe will forget about the people of Afghanistan. (Alternet)

NGOs Say Security in Afghanistan is Still Critical in the Wake of Rumsfeld Visit (May 2, 2003)

Hoping to allay fears that the Iraq war has diverted US attention from Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made a high profile visit to Kabul. Despite his visit and assertions that Afghanistan is now secure, NGO reports suggest that the US commitment has waned. NGOs stress that the country remains very unstable and that increased security is imperative to allow aid work to continue. (Integrated Regional Information Network)

Afghanistan, Once More the Melting Pot (April 30, 2003)

Security in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, contributing to a significant escalation of the guerrilla war. The situation embraces Iran, Pakistan's mafia groups, Afghan warlords and Islamic radicals looking to regroup for an assault on the US and its allies. (Asia Times)

US Role Shifts as Afghanistan Founders (April 14, 2003)

US policymakers no longer talk exclusively about new schools, roads and services for needy people in Afghanistan, instead focusing just as much on spreading the authority of the central government beyond Kabul. "The Americans, and the international community, are engaged in state-building, not really nation-building," said the special UN envoy to Afghanistan. (Washington Post)

"Taliban, Other Militias Regrouping, Coalescing" (April 11, 2003)

As the Taliban begins to regroup, the US' many "unfortunate accidents" continue to claim the lives of innocent Afghans. The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating even as another rebuilding process begins several hundred miles to the west in Iraq, says YellowTimes.

"Will It Be Liberation, Occupation or Anarchy?" (April 11, 2003)

By many standards, Afghanistan is even worse off than it was before the US "liberation," says Ash Pulcifer of YellowTimes. The entire country outside of Kabul is run by feuding warlords, and instead of stopping these warlords, the US military often helps them. (YellowTimes)

The Taliban Are Back in Southeast Afghanistan (April 5, 2003)

The US-led war against Iraq, coupled with the resurgence of Taliban groups, have created an unsafe environment for foreigners in Afghanistan. Everyone is still waiting for the "new Afghanistan'' promised by US President George Bush. (Le Monde)

The Forgotten War Shows No Sign of Abating (April, 2003)

The ongoing war in Afghanistan--involving 11,000 coalition troops, 8,000 of which are from the US--is far from over. This article explains how the "war on terror" is still fueling violence and chaos as the situation in the country deteriorates. (Foreign Policy In Focus)

A Wilful Blindness (March 11, 2003)

As in Afghanistan, the US has increased its military presence in many places to further its "war against terror." Now, under the same pretext, the US government exercises strategic control over almost all the world's major oil producing and transporting regions. (Guardian)

Living in Poverty and Fear Of Abandonment, the Barely Functioning State (February 24, 2003)

While lack of money has dogged Afghanistan from the start, the CIA has spent some of that money paying warlords for help in the "war on terror," strengthening rivals to the central government. As the US considered the Afghan experience a "success," then outright failure must be pretty horrible to behold, says a western observer. (Independent)

UN Representative Warns That Afghan Peace Is Fragile (February 20, 2003)

The prospect of war in Iraq may endanger the already fragile peace in Afghanistan. UN special representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi anticipates that the US will abandon the country after entering into a war with Baghdad. (New York Times)

In Afghanistan, 'Friendly Ire' (February 19, 2003)

There is a lack of coordination between the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US soldiers in Afghanistan. The international peacekeepers complain that the presence of US forces makes their job more difficult. (Christian Science Monitor)

Anti-US Sentiment Builds in Afghanistan (February 10, 2003)

As the US focuses on a war on Iraq, the anti-US sentiment grows in Afghanistan. While the pro-Taliban forces lack the military strength to fight the US, they do have the ability to win the support of the Afghans, in particular of the Pashtuns who are dissatisfied with the lack of security and the pace of reconstruction. (San Fransisco Chronicle)

Bush's Afghan Massacre (January 29, 2003)

German television has shown a US supervised "Massacre" of more than 3,000 Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. Several European parliaments have discussed the issue already, but thanks to a virtual media blackout, few US citizens are aware that their nation's reputation as a bastion of human rights is rapidly dissipating. (Yahoo News)

A New Year's Resolution to Keep: Secure a Lasting Peace in Afghanistan (January, 2003)

Even though President Bush said in January 2002, "We will help the new Afghan Government provide the security that is the foundation for peace," the US has not delivered its promises so far, says Care International in this report.

Alternatives for Afghanistan (January 6, 2003)

"On September 11 2001, Afghans weren't thinking about the twin towers, Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida. Many were thinking about how to get their next meal." Dominic Nutt from Christian Aid warns that as four million people face severe hunger, they will turn to terrorism. (Guardian)

Afghanistan: The Nuclear Nightmare Starts (January, 2003)

According to a study by the Uranium Medical Research Centre, US and British forces used depleted uranium weapons in the 2001-2002 war against Afghanistan. The study reveals that at least 25% of new-born infants suffer from health problems that could be associated with uranium contamination. (Coastal Post)



Afghanistan: Time of transition (November 18, 2002)

Given that an economically unstable Afghanistan is more likely to provide a safe haven for terrorists, Washington's failure to follow through on its promise to rebuild Afghanistan is counterproductive to its war on terrorism. (Yellow Times)

US Afghan Ally 'Tortured Witnesses to His War Crimes' (November 18, 2002)

A pending UN report threatens to embarrass the US military and the Afghan president with allegations that the troops of a strong US ally warlord are responsible for torturing and killing up to 1,000 Taliban prisoners. (Guardian)

Nation-Busting from Afghanistan to Iraq (November 15, 2002)

The US has spent nearly 30 times more resources on pursuing Al Qaeda in caves and rural villages than on reconstructing the Afghan society. The authors of this article warn that the failure to rebuild the country creates "the sort of ungoverned chaos out of which the Taliban first emerged in Afghanistan." (International Herald Tribune)

Afghan Women: Enduring American "Freedom" (November 14, 2002)

As a part of their military campaign in Afghanistan the US government talked about freedom for Afghan women. However, the US intervention largely ignored and in some cases even jeopardized essential rights for women such as food security, access to healthcare, and safety from physical violence. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Top Soldier Suggests Aid, not Bombs, for Afghanistan (November 9, 2002)

Instead of using high-tech military strategies, the CIA suggests that "Reconstruction may be the single most important factor in increasing security throughout Afghanistan and preventing it from again becoming a haven for terrorists." (Washington Post)

Afghanistan: Torture and Political Repression in Heart (November 5, 2002)

According to a new Human Rights Watch report, the US support of warlords in Afghanistan has disastrous effects on the human rights situation in the country.

Afghanistan: The First Puppet Regime in the Post Sept 11 World (October 30)

This article argues that the "regime change" or "nation building" in Afghanistan serves as a guise for the US imposing its will on the country. Instead of supporting a truly democratic process after removing the Taliban, the US was quick to install a president with little popular support. (ZNet)

US Backs Increase in Peacekeepers for Afghanistan (August 30, 2002)

The US, long opposed to the expansion of the international security force in Afghanistan, dramatically shifted its position, now saying that enlarging ISAF outside Kabul would allow US troops to leave sooner. The shift, described as a "mid-course correction," is an important signal for other nations to contribute troops for a peacekeeping effort. (New York Times)

The Death Convoy of Afghanistan (August 26, 2002)


A confidential UN memorandum, leaked to Newsweek, found evidence to justify a "full-fledged criminal investigation" into the deaths of hundreds of Taliban held by the US-backed Northern Alliance. Concerning the "politically sensitive" question of US involvement, the memo recommended a halt of "all activities relevant to this case until a decision is made concerning the final goal of the exercise: criminal trial, truth commission, other etc."

Evidence Awaits in Mass Graves (August 22, 2002 )

Leonard Rubenstein from the Physicians for Human Rights suggests that the US should initiate a Security Council resolution to form a UN commission of inquiry that would conduct a credible and independent investigation. "Otherwise the US risks the very political manipulation of war crimes investigations that it claims (erroneously, I believe) is a flaw in the International Criminal Court."(Washington Post)

One Year On In Afghanistan (August 5, 2002)

The Independent gives the tragic story of the village of Hajibirgit in Afghanistan. US troop raids followed by Afghani thieves are turning vibrant villages into ghost towns.

Nation-Building Lite (July 28, 2002)

The New York Times Magazine examines the challenges facing nation-building in Afghanistan. It argues that the US's current strategy, focused on fast-track rebuilding, is undermining the long term stability of Afghanistan by putting power in the hands of warlords who are operating more on self-interest than public good.

Making the World More Dangerous (July 28, 2002)

The author argues that President Bush's response to the 9/11 attacks ignored all the lessons learnt from peace management since the Cold War. President Bush took the "wrong road" and returned to the Reagan age when military action was the favored response and political action was not considered. (Observer)

Afghanistan: Warlords Return (July 6, 2002)

Human Rights Watch has monitored the steps leading up to the Loya Jirga since late May. It reports that "warlords are stepping into a power vacuum created when the US-led military coalition failed to support the extension of the International Security Assistance Force," threatening the credibility of the new government.

Afghan Governor Warns of Possible 'Jihad' Against US Troops (July 5, 2002)

"The governor of the province where a US air strike reportedly killed scores of people warned Friday that Afghans will rise up against Americans if US troops don't stop killing civilians in the hunt for Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives." (Associated Press)

Afghan Officials Demand Review of US Bombing (July 2, 2002)

The bombing of innocent Afghan civilians has presented a point of contention between the Afghan and US government. The Associated Press reports that for "the first time the Afghan government has condemned an incident of friendly fire despite several mistakes during operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida."

Loya Jirga Session: Peace Still in Tatters in Afghanistan (June 11, 2002)

Afghans depending on American aid for survival fear the US is turning its back on their country and shifting its diplomatic focus to other hot-spots such as the Middle East. Ethnic rivalries and security issues threaten to undermine peace in Afghanistan unless the US gets further involved in the country's nation-building efforts argues this Los Angeles Times article.

Heavy Hand of US Sparks Anger in Kabul (June 11, 2002)

By striking deals "outside the Loya Jirga," the US is threatening the possibility of a sound democratic process in Afghanistan. Globe and Mail reports on how the US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is playing a strategic role in Afghan politics.

Confronting the Warlord Culture (June 06, 2002)

By insisting that the United Nations do the ''dirty work'' of nation-building without ensuring a secure foundation upon which to build, President George W. Bush is setting up the UN to fail in Afghanistan, much as his father's policies sowed the seeds for failure in Somalia. (The Boston Globe)

Afghanistan: Drugs Funding Warlords: Expert (May 10, 2002)

Despite the fact that Afghanistan is held responsible for 80 percent of the heroin traded in Europe, the US waived narcotics sanctions against Afghanistan. The waiver was part of Washington's effort to reward pro-US Afghan warlords. (Mapinc)

UN Probes Mass Afghan Burial Sites (May 9, 2002)

UN officials complete their initial investigation into three burial sites in Afghanistan "suspected of being mass graves, including one that showed evidence of victims being buried alive." The graves are believed to represent only a fraction of the war crime atrocities committed during the US-led war against Afghanistan. (Swiss Info)

US Companies Hired to Train Foreign Armies (April 14, 2002)

"The war on terrorism is the full employment act for these [private military companies (PMCs)]," says a Pentagon spokesman. Training the Afghan army may require the hiring of some of the often controversial PMCs. (Los Angeles Times )

Is America Abandoning Afghanistan? (April 10, 2002)

"Every one is failing us," says a senior advisor to Hamid Karzai, the Afghan leader. UN officials are weary that Washington's refusal to support the expansion of the British-led International Security Assistance Force signals the start of disengagement. (New York Times)

Rebuilding Nations . . . (April 6, 2002)

Richard Holbrooke, the former US Ambassador to the UN, argues that fighting for and reconstructing Afghanistan are both integral parts in the campaign against terrorism. (Washington Post)

Peacekeeping Saves Cents, Makes Sense (March 30, 2002)

Although the Bush Administration is not keen on a "Clintonesque" long-term peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, staying until the Afghan army is back on its feet seems worthwhile and cost-effective. (National Journal)

American Aversion to Nation Building and Peacekeeping? (March 8, 2002)

The war in Afghanistan has taken the shape of a "complex emergency." To manage this "emergency" successfully the US should reinterpret its lessons from Somalia and overcome its reluctance towards peacekeeping and nation building. (Center for Defense Information)

Mounting Concern Over Civilian Casualties (January 7, 2002)

Hamid Karzai, leader of the interim government in Afghanistan, expressed concern over mounting civilian casualties following a UN report that 52 civilians had been killed in one air strike on December 29. Meanwhile, the US continues to deny accusations of the massive civilian deaths incurred by its bombing campaigns. (Integrated Regional Information Network)



US Questions Its Share of Reconstruction Costs (December 18, 2001)

Since the US spends billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration now questions its contribution to the reconstruction of the tattered country. The US mantra of not abandoning the country can be put into question. (New York Times)

The Guns of Kabul (December 31, 2001)

The US and Russia have armed Afghanistan for decades. As the US continues to give weapons to factions in the country, Ken Silverstein outlines for The Nation that only a curb of small arms can bring a lasting peace.

US Says 'Not Yet' To Patrol By Allies in Afghanistan (November 30, 2001)

The US Central Command halted the deployment of thousands of international peacekeepers because "the best intentions in the world, if provided in an uncoordinated way, makes things worse instead of better." (Washington Post)

What Balfour Could Teach Bush (November 29,2001)

Historian Paul Kennedy raises three options for the US in Afghanistan: pull out swiftly, shove the responsibilities onto the UN, or commit for the long haul to rebuild and control. The first two options would lead to bloodshed and disaster, he says.(Guardian)

Carnage After Taleban Revolt (November 28, 2001)

An uprising by Taleban prisoners in northern Afghanistan has resulted in violence and bloodshed. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called for an urgent inquiry into what triggered the incident and "into the proportionality of the response by the United Front [Northern Alliance], US and UK forces." (BBC News)

Alliance Accused of Brutality in Capture of Kunduz (November 27, 2001)

The brutality with which US-backed Northern Alliance troops are sweeping into Kunduz, shooting wounded prisoners and leaving them to die,is fuelling criticism of the alliance. (Guardian)

Boyce Dismisses Report of US Military Plan In Indonesia (November 16, 2001)

Ralph L. Boyce, the US Ambassador to Indonesia, denied speculations that Indonesia may be the next target of US military campaign against terrorism. Although Indonesia does not agree on all US policies, "we can agree to disagree between friends," he says. (Jakarta Post)

Four Things Afghanistan Needs (November 15, 2001)

Although Richard Holbrook, the former US Ambassador to the UN, argues for a strong Turkish-lead multinational force, he believes that it is in the US's interest to play a limited role as US presence in Afghanistan would be the "target of the next generation of suicide bombers." (Reuters )

Iran's Foreign Minister: No Peacekeeping Role for US, Afghan Neighbors (November 5, 2001)

In an interview, the Iranian Foreign Minister argued that any post-conflict peacekeeping in Afghanistan "should be composed of countries that do not have any specific interests in Afghanistan." (Associated Press )

News of Civilian Death Tolls Is Being Under-Reported (October 22, 2001)

Major US news networks do not report instances of civilian deaths resulting from US bombings in Afghanistan. This article provides detailed reports of civilian fatalities caused by the two-week-old military campaign. (Working For Change)

UN Says US 'Feeding Taleban' (October 16, 2001)

John Stiegler, a United Nations official, describes the US humanitarian actions as "totally catastrophic." Instead of feeding the 100,000 Afghan children that could die this winter as a result of famine, the US air drops are feeding the Taleban. (BBC)

Starvation and Dollar Bills For Afghan Kids (October 12, 2001)

MSF Rejects Link of Humanitarian and Military Actions (October 8, 2001)

The media has played an integral role in manufacturing support for the dual US strategy of attacking Afghanistan while providing "humanitarian assistance" for the refugees. (FAIR)

Wretched Afghanistan (September 21, 2001)

The "humanitarian" intervention, explains Dr Jean-Hervé Bradol of Médecins sans Frontieres, is a US propaganda tool and of little value to Afghan refugees. In a Washington Post commentary, Pakistani journalist and Taliban expert Ahmed Rashid reviews US policy towards Afghanistan and deplores the lack of US political support for successive UN efforts to restore peace in this country devastated by 22 years of war.

Rights Group Says Taliban Aren't Solely to Blame for the Afghan Disaster (July 13, 2001)

Although most human rights organizations place sole blame on the Taliban for the deepening crisis in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch argues that Russia, the US and the six countries bordering Afghanistan are also guilty of fuelling the civil war. (New York Times)

4 Guilty in Terror Bombings of 2 US Embassies in Africa (May 30, 2001)

A US Court convicted four people along with Bin Laden. US prosecutors are now seeking to impose the death penalty for the first time for terrorism committed against Americans in a foreign country. (New York Times)


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