Friday, December 4, 2009
Peter Bergen appeared on NPR's Fresh Air to talk about President Obama's decision to send more troops, the Taliban and its connection to al-Qaida, and the state of security now. You can listen to the audio and read a synopsis here.
A very insightful interview with Yuri Kozyrev by Anton Marakhovsky for Nikon Russia, Sept. 2009. In this incredible article Yuri talks about his intense experiences working as a conflict photographer in many war zones. He reveals some of the dangerous encounters he has had including his imprisonment by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1991.
Many stunning photographs by Yuri Kozyrev are included in this article.
Photo of Yuri Kozyrev by Sergei Art
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Afghanistan should have been easier. Eight years after overthrowing the Taliban—the world’s most detested and backward regime, which provided no service to its people—the United States has restored many brutal warlords the Taliban expelled. The authority the United States established is a failure, corrupt and brutal. Americans and their allies manage to kill innocent civilians, and the Taliban have once again become attractive to many Afghans. A few tens of thousands of troops will not turn things around.
President Obama’s stated goal in Afghanistan is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. Why, then, did McChrystal argue for fighting the Taliban and remaking Afghanistan? Why has Obama agreed? Assuming that al Qaeda will set up bases in Afghanistan recalls predictions that Saddam Hussein would give his imaginary weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda. It assumes that the Taliban are irrational and unaware of their interests. And it rests on much more fundamental assumptions, too: that al Qaeda is a significant threat to the United States and that the best way to reduce the threat is by attacking the movement itself.
The attacks on September 11, 2001 were tragic and criminal. They were painful for the victims and their families and a shock to a powerful, arrogant, and proud nation blissfully unaware that it was so resented.
But beyond the terrible murders, the attacks themselves had little impact on the American economy or way of life, though the response at home and abroad changed everything. Al Qaeda used its “A-team” on that day to attack a slumbering nation. Can a few hundred angry, unsophisticated Muslim extremists really pose such grave dangers to a vigilant superpower, now alert to potential threats?
Al Qaeda is not determined to do evil for the sake of evil. It is a movement that won support, to the extent that it has, in response to America’s imperial excesses. Many of the popular grievances and resentments it mobilizes—including U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and for friendly dictators—are legitimate, even if killing American civilians is a heinous means of addressing them. The resentments were not produced by al Qaeda’s ideology. They have existed for decades. The causes have remained the same, though the discourse used by those who fight imperialism has changed from secular to religious. Addressing these problems at their roots would do much more—for Afghans and for us—than sending in the military once more to do the work of decent politics.
"In laying down the gauntlet for the Afghans, President Obama is setting criteria for success that he and his field commanders may be able to influence, but which ultimately they will not be able to control."
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
CNN has not posted the full interview on its own, but the podcast of the entire program is available and the Bahari interview is the first segment. Apparently his Iranian interrogators told him that Fareed is a CIA agent and also used a clip from The Daily Show as "evidence" that Bahari was meeting with spies while in Iran.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Definitely worth a read. The article is here.
In room after room, our delegation encounters stories of war that are just not a part of the national conversation. I keep thinking: Whatever happened to the telling of these stories in America? Do we need a Washington lobbyist to push the soldier's-story agenda?
Individual tales make up the reality of war; anecdote by anecdote, they become the truth of combat. But in the U.S. mainstream media, they have too little presence. How did we get to a place where sharing a soldier's narrative or reading soldiers' names on television or meeting their coffins when they are brought back to their country becomes a political or disloyal act? Why can't we share the truth about war?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The code itself is very interesting, and since it was developed by former hard-core terrorists, maybe it will get some traction.
Part of the code reads: "Jihad has ethics and morals because it is for God. That means it is forbidden to kill women, children, elderly people, priests, messengers, traders and the like. Betrayal is prohibited and it is vital to keep promises and treat prisoners of war in a good way. Standing by those ethics is what distinguishes Muslims' jihad from the wars of other nations."
Not exactly a standard that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are upholding...
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Special Four-Part Investigative Series Killings At The Canal: The Army Tapes to air on Anderson Cooper 360 beginning Nov 10th
Anderson Cooper 360 reports Killings At The Canal: The Army Tapes, a powerful and provocative four-part series about U.S. soldiers who were convicted of murder on the battlefield. The series runs over four nights beginning Tuesday, November 10th, and concludes Friday night, November 13th.
Three sergeants used their service pistols to execute four Iraqi men they had in custody who they believed were insurgents. Questions have emerged: On the battlefield, is murder a crime? And is the Army's policy on detainees realistic for its soldiers in the battlefield?
While many were focused on the outcome of the presidential election, courts-martial were underway at a U.S. Army base in Germany. Ultimately three army sergeants were found guilty of the execution-style murders of the four Iraqis their 13-man unit had detained. The soldiers were certain the Iraqis were insurgents who had been shooting at them. But under Army rules for holding detainees, they knew they could not meet the burden of proof -- and they feared the suspects would be released only to be shooting at soldiers again. So the sergeants made a decision: bypass the detention center, take them to a canal, and kill them.
Anderson Cooper 360 also obtained almost 24 hours of interrogation footage which includes a confession from one of the sergeants.
In the series, investigative correspondent Abbie Boudreau and senior investigative producer Scott Zamost also shine a light on the U.S. Army's policy about how to handle detainees, a policy that was a response to the abuses of Abu Ghraib. Some say it puts an undue burden of proof on U.S. soldiers.
On Saturday, November 14th at 8pm ET, CNN's Special Investigations Unit premieres an hour-long special titled Killings At The Canal: The Army Tapes. The special will reair Sunday, Nov. 15th at 8pm ET.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: My next guest has a unique perspective on Afghanistan. Rory Stewart literally walked across the country as part of a 6,000-mile journey from turkey to Bangladesh. He served as a coalition deputy governor in Iraq. He's now a professor at Harvard's Kennedy school of government. Rory Stewart is joining us now. Rory, thanks very much for coming in.
RORY STEWART, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
BLITZER: The president's been meeting today, as you know, on what to do next in Afghanistan. We expect a decision soon. "The New York Times" columnist this week Tom Friedman suggested maybe it's time to start getting out of Afghanistan. Tom Ricks, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer says it's time to build up and give it some more time. You've suggested, correct me if I'm wrong, maybe it's one option would be to muddle through. What does that mean?
STEWART: Of course I don't say that we should muddle through. What I'm saying though is we need to see Afghanistan in a strategic context which means we need to treat it as a very long-term venture. We need to understand that we have to protect U.S. national security. We should be doing things for the Afghan people, but we should be doing it in affordable and realistic fashion because the major threat that we're really going to face in Afghanistan over the next five to ten years is going to be that people will get fed up and withdraw and that's such a fragile traumatized country that if you were suddenly to go from troop increases to withdrawal and from engagement to isolation you'd probably leave the situation much worse than you found it.
BLITZER: So if you're President Obama right now or one of his top advisers, what do you do in the short term? He's got to make a decision pretty soon.
STEWART: I'm afraid that President Obama faces a massive political problem. He has boxed himself in. If he didn't intend to send more troops, he should not have allowed General McChrystal to write that report. So probably for political reasons I think President Obama will feel forced to send those troops, so we now need to think two to three years into the future because those troops won't remain forever, and we need to define what a long-term strategy would look like, and I would say it would involve saying there is a terrorist threat from Afghanistan, and we need to keep a few troops there to deal with it. We do have obligations to the Afghan people and we should be generous with our development side, but more broadly we should realize that Afghanistan is not the be all and end all. There are many more important countries in the world and we should have a generous flexible attitude towards Afghanistan and should not put all our eggs in one basket.
BLITZER: You're hearing there are 68,000 U.S. troops, part of a bigger NATO operation in Afghanistan right now, but he should accept General McChrystal's recommendation for political reasons to dispatch another 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, is that what you're saying?
STEWART: If I was the president I would not be sending those troops because I don't think it's good for the United States, and I don't think it's good for Afghanistan, so I'm very much hoping that he's not going to send those troops, but I fear that for political reasons he may feel that he's forced to.
BLITZER: Here's what one of your critics Andrew Exum from the Center for New American Security who participated in General McChrystal's review said in the new republic in an article that was just published. "I think the first 22 pages of the McChrystal assessment of the war in Afghanistan were more grounded in evidence- based reality than Rory's was. That's not to say he's delusional, just that he has a very limited view of Afghanistan and operations there." I don't know if you know Andrew Exum but I wonder if you want to respond.
STEWART: Yeah. My response is that what we need to bear in mind, and I have lived in Afghanistan and I don't want to get into a fight with Andrew about this, but I have spent the last three and a half years living on the ground there and as you've said I've walked across the country but it's not about expertise, it's about trying to understand what our limits are. We need to be realistic about what the U.S. military, what the state department, what developing nations can do in a country as poor and fragile and as traumatized as Afghanistan. My guess is that we tend to overestimate our own capacity, overestimate our ability to transform other people's countries, and my guess is that if we're going to look back at this in 20 years time we will realize that we made a mistake, that we tried to do things that we couldn't do. The problem with Andrew's argument and with all these arguments is not that they are not trying to do good things. It would great if we could create a wonderfully stable legitimate effective state in Afghanistan and if we could defeat the Taliban. The problem with it is that we can't and we've got to be more realistic about our own power and our own capacity.
BLITZER: Explain how your walk across Afghanistan, that 600-mile journey that took place back in 2002 or 2003 I believe, but explain how that informed your current decision-making, your current thinking on what to do in Afghanistan.
STEWART: It's more of an intuitive thing, but what I discovered on that journey, of course, is -- and I was sleeping in village houses night after night staying with different families is that those communities are very isolated. They are probably more conservative, more anti-foreign than we like to acknowledge, and their priorities are such that they don't like the Taliban very much, but they certainly don't like the Afghan police and in many ways they don't like foreign soldiers either. We're really fighting for the imaginations of Afghans. We're trying to get them to believe in the Afghan government, and those things are moral, they are political. They are religious. They are not things connected with how many boots you've got on the ground directly and they are not really connected with how much money we spend. In fact, unfortunately, they are connected with things over which the United States and its allies have relatively little influence.
BLITZER: So basically you agree with Tom Friedman as opposed to Tom Ricks? STEWART: I believe we should keep a light long-term footprint in the country. I think it would be very dangerous to follow Tom Friedman's recommendations of leaving entirely. I think we need a light long-term sustainable footprint.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Rory Stewart, for coming in.
STEWART: Thank you for your time.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
New York Times reporter, David Rohde gave a thirty-eight minute interview today to NPR's Fresh Air host, Teri Gross. Teri Gross is a skilled interviewer and it was really interesting to hear David Rohde talk about his kidnapping and captivity. You can hear the full audio interview here.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Is it just too late - politically and militarily - for General Stanley McChrystal to win in Afghanistan? Dexter Filkins takes this question to task in his cover story for the New York Times, Sunday Magazine. There is also a 10 minute audio interview with Dexter at the same link, titled "The Takeaway With Dexter Filkins."
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
More about "Tip of the Spear" can be found on this special MSNBC web page: archives, latest videos, articles, blogs and slideshows. Videos of Richard Engel's recent appearances on many NBC shows are available on this page. He was also Charlie Rose's guest on Oct. 7th.
(Photo: courtesy of David Furst / AFP - Getty images)
Friday, October 2, 2009
In a recent article for Time.com, Peter Bergen and Leslie Gelb agrue two different options for Afghanistan: "Give it Time" and "Turn it Over." You can read both of their arguments here.
This special includes never-seen-before footage of firefights, an interview with a Taliban commander and a special behind-the-scenes material.
More info in this World Business News article.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Impressive and heartbreaking images of Afghanistan appeared on The Boston Globe website. They are part of a new regular feature on the Big Picture: a monthly focus on Afghanistan. You can view all the photos here.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Civita, photo by Yuri Kozyrev
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Personally, I abhor a recent headline in The Daily Mail of London which read "Journalist's lust for glory and a risk too far." However, I have mixed feeling about the risk that reporters take. There is a definite need to venture into these dangerous areas of the world to fully understand a story, and I am in awe of reporters that do this. At the same time, the price to pay for such a story could be the reporters and crews lives. As Hoyt aptly puts it, "...even with the best precautions, covering war can exact horrible costs.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
This week's edition of the Sunday, New York Times Magazine is dedicated to 'The Women's Crusade'. There are many wonderful articles appearing in the magazine, including one by Dexter Filkins. Filkins writes about his involvement with the Mirwais Mena School, the brave Shamsia, and the state of education for girls in Afghanistan. This is an amazing follow-up to his piece from January, 13, 2009. In the former article, Filkins wrote about how Afghan girls were defying terror and embracing school even after being scarred by acid.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
With all eyes focused on Afghanistan's election tomorrow and the 24-7 healthcare debate coverage here in the U.S., it is important to not let Iraq fade into the background. Iraq continues to be a violent and fragile state. In a coordinated attack involving powerful truck bombs, insurgents killed 95 people and wounded nearly 600 people at the Foreign and Finance Ministries in central Baghdad.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
'Witness to War' sees a team of six CNN correspondents (Atia Abawi, Stan Grant, Nic Robertson, Reza Sayah, Michael Ware and Ivan Watson) provide an unique, first-hand account of the horrors of conflict - from civil war, to the war on terror and the recent offensive in the Swat valley - in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The unparalleled one-hour documentary allows them to draw on their years of experience living and working in the region, as they answer several critical questions, including: What effect does the ever-present violence have on people's psyches? What danger does the constant conflict pose to the world? And, how difficult is it to report from a region where journalists are often targets?
They also investigate the human cost of conflict, discussing the stories they covered and the people they met that most profoundly affected them. They look at the reality of life in refugee camps, examine how children are impacted by the instability, and perhaps most importantly, discuss whether there’s any hope for the future.
More about this new CNN documentary and correspondents' interviews here.
No word yet as to whether it might air on CNN Domestic, but it might not hurt to send an email via the Contact Us page to ask for it!
And the promo:
Friday, July 17, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Interviewed for cnn.com:
On American Morning, interviewed by John Roberts:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
She appeared on CNNI's BackStory to discuss about this issue and she also shared another look on the Afghan road.