Warm days, cool evenings, autumnal light, vivid colors in Kabul.
“The age of America as the world's superpower has come and will soon pass, Li Chun Hwa, a Beijing cab driver, told Aljazeera.Net in advance of Pres. Obama’s first trip to Asia. “America has been too busy extending itself, spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now it's broke, and its policies have lost friends around the world ... what it says and does holds less meaning now.”
Email received at 0814: “Good morning, FYI an explsion occurred in PD 9 on Jalalabad road at approx 0800, in the area of Camp Pheonix no further details are known… Security Manager.” (A later report said more than 20 wounded, mostly NATO soldiers and civilian contractors, and no deaths.)
I don’t have any problem with Pres. Obama taking his sweet time make the U.S. decision on Afghanistan. A commitment of this magnitude requires something more than the knee-jerk reactions we have come to expect from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in recent years. The loudest voices for military escalation (without any further “dithering”) are the same warmongers and profiteers, media demagogues, architects of counter-insurgency terror, and Armageddon-ites who trashed our economy and betrayed the best of our democratic values in their suicidal push for imperial domination. They have had their day and failed utterly. I’m not naively waiting for a sharp turn from Obama—his policies in Afghanistan have followed the trajectory charted under Bush-Cheney—but taking time is preferable to the advice of his bone-headed critics.
Aram Roston in The Nation reports that the Taliban profits from payments made by the Department of Defense to security contractors protecting American supplies transported in Afghanistan. One of the most powerful of those contractors, Watan Risk Management, also provides the security for my workplace and residence.
The Watan Group is owned by two brothers. Ahmad Rateb Popal, a former mujahedeen, was charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin and was released from prison in 1998, according to court records. Rashid Popal pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn, N.Y., in a separate case.
“The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals' private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan [its senior personnel are ex-British army, many of them from Special Services]. One of Watan's enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies,” reports Roston.
After the Obama presidential election, an Irish newspaper predicted the success of his presidency would be determined by his ability to navigate the certain decline of the American empire.