Tag Archives: US

Observer Comment on US Strategy in Afghanistan

If we do not have a reasonably competent, friendly government in Kabul, nothing the west achieves will last. Ignoring the Afghan nation’s needs is not an option

This week’s comment in the Observer calls for a more inclusive role for Pakistan than the one recently articulated by Washington. Comment as follows: Donald Trump’s view on the conflict in Afghanistan was highly critical in 2011 when he tweeted that the US was “wasting lives and money” there. He later termed Barack Obama’s strategy a “complete waste”, saying it was “time to come home”. Trump stood on his head last week, ordering the deployment of additional American troops and committing the US to an open-ended war that he vowed to “fight to win”. So which Trump is right – the pre-election sceptic or today’s ardent warrior? The answer is neither.

When Obama took office in 2009, he raised US troop levels to around 100,000, part of a Nato force of about 150,000. His plan was to turn around a war that had already dragged on too long, then hand over to better-trained and equipped Afghan army and police forces. The handover duly took place in 2014, but the conflict was not over. Since then, security has steadily deteriorated. Obama was right to try, and Trump wrong to prematurely scorn his efforts. But what the 2009 surge ultimately proved was that even the most modern armies, wielding the latest weaponry and backed by unchallenged air power, cannot wholly overcome the sort of unconventional, guerrilla campaign at which the Taliban excel. More than 2,400 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and more than 450 British troops. But according to US estimates, government forces now control less than 60% of the country. Continue reading

‘Trump is a Xenophobic Fascist’ says Clooney

As things begin to hot up in the US presidential election, Donald Trump is being accused of bank fraud and mafia connection by the BBC. In this piece from the Guardian, Trump is accused of fascism and xenophobia: George Clooney opens the door of the Berlin hotel lounge and shakes hands like an ambassador. “Come on in,” says this paragon of modern Hollywood: a proper, old-fashioned movie star; a producer and occasionally director of interesting, intelligent films; and a furrowed-brow liberal political activist of not inconsiderable achievement. Who else would spend the morning after the premiere of his new film, the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, confabbing with Angela Merkel about the international refugee crisis? He should be running for president, surely? Hail, Caesar! review – George Clooney bigger, broader, zanier in classic Coen caper. The Coen brothers put their signature quirky deadpan to good use in this gloriously watchable period caper about the golden era of Hollywood. Clooney chuckles indulgently. “I am a Hillary supporter. I am doing a fundraiser for her.” That’s a big endorsement; Clooney’s 2012 event for Obama raised more than $12m (£8.5m) in a single night. Continue reading

One-Third of the World’s Women in Prison are Locked Up in America

From Identities.Mic: As you can see, it’s not even close. Citing data from the International Center for Prison Studies, Niall McCarthy of Statista visualizes how the United States housed nearly one-third of the globe’s incarcerated women in 2013. It’s a huge problem the American public has only begun to recognize.

The context: Recently, discussions around the rise of mass incarceration have focused largely on men, most notably, black men. Illustrating this is how 1 in 10 black American males is in prison on a given day, while black men remain nearly six times as likely to be imprisoned in their lifetime than their white peers. Continue reading

New Syria Ceasefire

As reported in the news, the US and Russia have agree to enforce new Syria ceasefire. A new deal between the US and Russia to enforce a ceasefire in Syria has been reached, with the cessation of hostilities set to come into force on 27 February. A report by diplomatic editor of the Guardian is extracted below: The ceasefire, subject to the agreement between the warring parties, would exclude Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and other groups deemed to be terrorist organisations. Scepticism about whether it can be enforced will be widespread after a previous planned ceasefire failed to take place. Instead, Russia continued its bombing campaign, sieges of starving towns were never lifted and other confidence-building measures ignored. Continue reading

Syria: Partial Ceasefire Agreed

As reported, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, says the partial Syria ceasefire agreed at talks in Munich ‘will apply to any and all parties in Syria with the exception of the terrorist organisations Daesh and al-Nusra’. However, the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) on Syria conflict finds that in all, 11.5% of the country’s population have been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011. The number of wounded is put at 1.9 million. Life expectancy has dropped from 70 in 2010 to 55.4 in 2015. Posts on Syria’s war are available on Pakistan Horizon here, here, herehere and here.

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Seven Ages of Hillary Clinton

Seven ages of Hillary Clinton, an excellent article by Gary Younge and Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian, can be extracted as follows. As she once again finds herself battling an outsider’s insurgency, the Democratic frontrunner hopes her long experience in public life is an asset, not a liability.  At a town hall meeting this week, the first question posed to Hillary Clinton was from a first-time caucus-goer called Taylor Gipple. Hillary Clinton defends popularity among young voters at Iowa forum. “It feels like there are a lot of young people like myself who are very passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders,” he said. “And, I just don’t see the same enthusiasm from younger people for you. In fact, I’ve heard from quite a few people my age that they think you’re dishonest, but I’d like to hear from you on why you feel the enthusiasm isn’t there.” Clinton’s response sounded like a mix of Edith Piaf and Sir Elton John: Je Ne Regrette Rien blended with I’m Still Standing; stern resolve with a touch of telegraphed theatricality. “Look, I’ve been around a long time,” she told him. “They throw all this stuff at me and I’m still standing. But if you’re new to politics, if it’s the first time you really paid attention, you go ‘oh my gosh, look at all of this’.

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