Jasper Johns - Flag - 1954-55

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"National security analysts are so pessimistic that renewed inspections could effectively deter Iraq that many believe Bush is hoping Hussein will continue to reject the offer--and thus provide a justification for a military strike against his regime."
"Northern Alliance troops claimed yesterday that a uniformed American soldier had died in an airstrike during the three-day prison siege outside the city of Mazar-i Sharif."
"Bundles of humanitarian relief supplies dropped over Afghanistan by a US military aircraft hit a house, killing a woman and child, the US military said on Wednesday."
"The United States has conceded for the first time that it cannot rule out the possibility of Pakistani helicopters or planes having come into Afghanistan to evacuate Pakistani military or other personnel from Kuduz."
"Fighting has erupted in a remote part of Somalia where U.S. officials say a wing of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network operates. One commander there has called it a battle against terrorism, but by accounts in Washington it is more likely just the resumption of decades-old factional conflicts."
"Russia and Germany warned the United States yesterday not to make Iraq its next target in the war against terror."
"The northern alliance rejected the United Nations' proposal for an international security force for Afghanistan, insisting Wednesday that a security force -- theirs -- is already in place."
"Jordan and the Arab League appealed to the United States not to attack Iraq, saying Wednesday that such a strike would have dangerous consequences."
"There are scores of Afghan refugee camps along the Pakistani border, each filled with lost and hopeless people. But the makeshift transit camp at the Chaman border post defines a new level of misery for people whose only crime is being trapped by war."
"A sharp upsurge in American bombing raids on Kandahar and the adjacent province of Helmand is forcing tens of thousands of new refugees to pour towards the Afghan border with Pakistan."
"'No Connection' to war in Afghanistan."
"About 3,000 US soldiers took part in live-fire war games in Kuwait within 30 miles of the Iraqi border after Washington told Baghdad to take its latest rhetoric seriously."
"The war of words between Washington and Baghdad intensified yesterday when Iraq rejected US demands to allow weapons inspectors back into the country."
Guardian reporter's description of the prisoner revolt in Mazar-i-Sharif.
"Experts say the next phase in the war, tracking down Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, will be far more difficult than attacking them from the air with relative impunity as US forces have been doing."
Colin Powell is finally on the Evil Bandwagon.
"Europe mulls ways to stop terrorism by closing the gap between rich and poor countries."
"Violent acts of revenge have reportedly been perpetrated against Taleban fighters in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, which the Northern Alliance took on Monday."
"Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called for an urgent inquiry into the killing of hundreds of Taleban prisoners who staged an uprising near the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif."
A few Daisy Cutters might change their mind.
"Just as the Soviet war against Afghanistan -- and the subsequent scattering of fighters -- produced a worldwide network of extremists, the American war in Afghanistan will produce a secondary network, one that might not be centered around Osama bin Laden."
"President George Bush yesterday suggested that Iraq could be the next US military target, and warned Saddam Hussein to let United Nations weapons inspectors into the country or face the consequences."
Ya think?
"At one point, an American bomb went astray, killing six Northern Alliance fighters and seriously injuring five US soldiers."
"'There's really no such thing as precision bombing.'"
"The Kunduz drama has captured the frustration and anger of many Pakistani officials who entrusted their interests in Afghanistan to the United States after Sept. 11, when the Bush administration demanded that Pakistan join in the war against terrorism."
"'Saddam is evil.'"
"As the Taliban crumble, speculation is again rife that American sights could be turned on another of the world's most chaotic countries: Somalia."

Poor. Check.
Brown. Check.
Helpless. Check.
Terrorists long gone. Check.
Bombs Away!
"Somalia's only internet company and a key telecoms business have been forced to close because the United States suspects them of terrorist links."
Old Telegraph piece:

"Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan."
"Western and Pakistani officials fear that, within a year or two, Afghanistan could again reach its peak production figures of 60,000 hectares of poppies producing 2,800 tonnes of opium - more than half the world's output."
"Since the U.S.-led bombing campaign against accused terrorist Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies began in Afghanistan two months ago, that seemingly bottomless pool of refugees has grown by an estimated 150,000 Afghans."
"Three children were injured this week, and one teenager was killed, when they picked up undetonated remnants of a bomb dropped by American planes about a month ago. The bomb's initial impact killed 12 people, most from the same extended family."
"Terrified Afghan villagers, in an area abandoned by the Taliban, yesterday described how Allied bombers circled their village for the third time in two days, before launching air strikes that killed seven residents. Their wooden homes looked like piles of charred matchsticks. Injured mules lay braying in the road along the mountain pass that stank of sulphur and dead animals."
"'When Al-Qaeda is gone, when the Taliban regime has passed into history, we then have an enormous obligation — not only the United States, but the whole international community — an enormous obligation to not leave the Afghan people in the lurch, to not walk away as has been done in the past.'"
"'The bombing of the last few days has been terrible. People are terrified. Many ordinary people have been killed, as well as Taleban.'"
"Despite all the talk at the Pentagon of an unconventional war, much of the action has resembled a very conventional conflict, with Northern Alliance fighters carrying out set-piece advances aided by U.S. airstrikes. But the fighting in the south promises to resemble classic guerrilla war, experts said."
"Deep reservations exist among allies in Europe, the Middle East and Russia over the advocacy by some Bush administration officials who want to expand military operations to other countries, especially by taking the next phase of the war to Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein once and for all."
"Unable to wield power in Afghan affairs, Pakistan fears that it is now sandwiched between two hostile countries: India to the east and Afghanistan to the west. One senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry official pronounced his country's policy 'a strategic debacle.'"
"Asian countries say that, in acting against separatists, they are following the example of the United States, Britain and other Western states that are curbing civil liberties to protect their people from terrorist attack."
"Defense Department strategists are building a case for a massive bombing of Iraq as a new phase of President Bush's war against terrorism, congressional and Pentagon sources say. Proponents of attacking Iraq, spearheaded by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, are now arguing privately that still-elusive evidence linking Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime to the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 is not necessary to trigger a military strike."
Guess who.
"Thousands of Afghan refugees are continuing to stream across the border into neighbouring Pakistan daily, and the UN says it expects to see more, especially from the south and east of Afghanistan."
"Gun May Be Gone, but Beliefs Remain."
"Afghanistan is now a chaotic country where no one group or person is in charge and gun-toting "armies" loyal to local warlords are patrolling cities, provinces and regions. In many places, those armies are basically rival gangs."
"They (the town's residents) said there are no Arabs here, no Pakistanis, no Osama Bin Laden and no Taleban."
"The galaxy of warlords who tore Afghanistan apart in the early 1990's and who were vanquished by the Taliban because of their corruption and perfidy are back on their thrones, poised to exercise power in the ways they always have."
"The deployment to Afghanistan of thousands of British soldiers has been delayed after 'discouraging' reports from troops on the ground, the BBC has been told."
"After Sept. 11, postings on right-wing Internet chat rooms cheered the World Trade Center attacks."
Condoleezza Rice on Saddam: "We do not need the events of September 11 to tell us that this is a very dangerous man who is a threat to his own people, a threat to the region, and a threat to us because he is determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction."
"Less than a week after the Taliban were driven from Kabul, 3,000 Shiite Muslim fighters are poised outside, demanding a share of power. Major cities are now warlords' fiefdoms, and the idea of a broad-based government is being challenged by hastily multiplying posters of factional leaders."
"The United States is zeroing in Osama Bin Laden, having narrowed down its search for the world’s most wanted man to less than 100 square kilometres in Southeast Afghanistan. But much to its irritation, it is unable to contain the growing influence and aspiration of the Northern Alliance, which is now in control of three-fourths of the country and is pressing to succeed the Taliban in Kabul."
"Nearly 140 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by US air strikes on Taliban and suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan in the past two days, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said on Sunday."
"The starting point of Afghanistan's long, painful journey to recovery from almost three decades of war appeared to be close last night as the Northern Alliance conceded that it could not dictate the terms on which the political future of the country would be decided."
"The fiercest fight for power in Kabul may be yet to come."
"The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, warned yesterday that after the Afghanistan campaign is over, America could use military action in a second wave of attacks directed against states which harbour terrorists. Mr Cheney said that up to 50 states could be targeted for a range of action, from financial and diplomatic to military, on the grounds that they had al-Qaida networks operating there."

Use this guide to see who will get bombs.
"Tribal warlords who have spent the past five years in hibernation were swiftly re-emerging yesterday to try to get control of large swaths of southern Afghanistan - moves that are plunging the country back into the chaotic and feuding pre-Taliban era of the early 90s."
"The victorious Northern Alliance provided a foretaste of trouble by insisting yesterday that it would take care of security in Afghanistan and that an international peacekeeping force was unnecessary. Within the last 48 hours, the alliance has defied the US by capturing Kabul and has rejected calls from America, Britain and the United Nations to create a broad-based government that would include moderate elements of the Taliban."
"Afghanistan's provinces and cities came under the control yesterday of a bewildering variety of regional leaders whose allegiances remain far from clear. With the pace of war far outstripping diplomacy, the country moved a step closer to falling under the control of feuding warlords again."
"About 3,000 Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters have crossed into Pakistan along its western frontier since Sunday, when Taliban troops began retreating in strength from some of Afghanistan's major cities, Pakistani intelligence officials said today."
"As the Northern Alliance continues to consolidate its position in Afghanistan, Pakistan's worst nightmare unfolds."
"At breakneck speed, the conventional war has all but come to an end. The Taliban, as a ruling entity, is fading fast. But a messier guerrilla war may just be starting. And ousting bin Laden from the mountains north of Kandahar - or wherever his hideout may be - is likely to require a new US military strategy, one that may not include much help from the Northern Alliance."
"Just a day after the Northern Alliance broke its promise not to enter the liberated capital, the long-awaited uprising of the "Southern Alliance" began. But in many areas it seemed that opportunism was the only motivation. There were also signs of severe strains between the ethnic Pathan groups rising up in the south and the Northern Alliance, which is composed of minority ethnic groups."
"The seizure of Afghanistan's capital by opposition Northern Alliance forces has deeply alarmed Pakistani authorities, who fear a regime hostile to Pakistan will now take power there and that fighters from the collapsing Taliban militia will seek refuge across the border and destabilize this country."
"But for all the satisfaction it finds in the sudden success of its proxy force, the Pentagon now finds itself with little control over the Northern Alliance, which moved triumphantly into Kabul despite repeated promises not to do so. The other forces that will determine the outcome of the war against terrorism in Afghanistan — Pashtun tribal leaders in the south, nervous partners in Pakistan, and the Taliban itself — are hardly more predictable."
"A Russian general and veteran of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan gave warning yesterday that the Taleban had not been routed despite the fall of Kabul, but was regrouping for a war that could last years."
"Afghans have had to live through 25 years of war rather than just observe the last six weeks of it, and relief at being rid of the Taliban's repression is overshadowed by anxiety about what may come after it. Most loathed the Taliban and in particular their allied Arab fighters but do not buy the western coalition's assumption that things can only get better."
"Gen Musharraf dumped the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks. In a visit to New York on Monday, he urged President Bush not to allow the Northern Alliance to seize Kabul, a strategy swept away by events. Privately, Pakistani diplomats admit that they feel betrayed by their new allies in Washington, who failed to halt the alliance's advance."
"Iran's President Mohammad Khatami warned Monday that forcing the Taliban out of the Afghan capital or ending its rule altogether would probably not end the fighting--or the Taliban's presence--in Afghanistan."
"To some, the with-us-or-against-us smacks of Stalinism. They say it muzzles domestic critics and squelches dissent from those abroad who fear repercussions from the world's economic and military superpower."
"President George Bush's declaration in September, "'Either you are with us or you are against us,' has sown confusion and dissension among many Europeans."
"Northern Alliance troops dragged a wounded Taliban soldier out of a ditch on Monday on the front lines on the way to Kabul. After he had begged for his life, they pulled him to his feet, shot him in the chest and beat him with a rifle butt and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. Other casualties from the fleeing Taliban forces in the area were also looted."

Click link for pictures.
"Northern Alliance fighters have killed as many as 600 people since they seized the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif on Friday, Western officials in the Uzbek border town of Termez have told CNN."
"If opposition forces do enter Kabul, and foreign powers do not bring in security forces or announce concrete plans for a broad-based post-Taliban government within days, the officials said, Afghanistan could erupt in the kind of factional conflict that left thousands dead and the nation in ruins in the 1990s."
"The war on terrorism must be fought with increased support to promote democracy and alleviate poverty so there will be no reason for terrorists to exist, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council on Monday."
"Even Taliban foes among the Pashtun elders here said that while they welcome the Northern Alliance's recent victories over the Taliban, they nevertheless fear that an alliance takeover of the Afghan capital, Kabul, and other cities to the south could alienate Pashtuns and encourage them to continue backing the Taliban."
"The cost of America’s war in Afghanistan has reached about $1 billion (£687 million) a month and is rising fast. The bill is becoming so large that some congressmen are starting to ask whether America’s allies should share the financial burden, as they did when they paid 90 per cent of the Gulf War’s $60 billion price tag."
"Violent incidents broke out in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif over the weekend, with reports of lootings, kidnappings, roving gunmen and summary executions, UN spokeswomen said Monday."
"Ignoring US wishes, advance Northern Alliance troops have entered Kabul as the United States tries to put together a representative government for Afghanistan. The advance has cast doubt on Washington's real influence over Afghan opposition forces, experts said."
"Reports of a possible massacre by the Northern Alliance, who were last night closing in on Kabul, will alarm the international coalition, which fears further reprisals if opposition troops seize the Afghan capital. President Bush has asked the opposition to hold off from taking Kabul until a broad-based government is ready to assume power. But his strategy looks as if it will be swept away by events."
"The US had pressed for the alliance to stay out of Kabul to allow time for a coalition government including members of the southern-based Pashtun tribe to be formed."
"The more the United States helps the Alliance, the more it will be viewed as the enemy by the Pashtun majority in south Afghanistan. To secure a comprehensive and lasting victory, Washington needs the Pashtuns to turn on the Taleban and join the Alliance in a coalition government."
"Pervez Musharraf has said that he would continue as President of Pakistan even after the elections in October next year."
"Such is the nature of war in Afghanistan, where breakthrough and maneuver are still the goals, but stalemate is more often the norm."
"If Washington's plans to foment resistance in the south were on track, Quetta, the last major Pakistani city before the border with southern Afghanistan, should be bustling with anti-Taliban commanders ready to do the United States bidding. Instead, the lineup is thin."
"For the US-led international coalition, the hard part of the war against the Taliban may be about to begin. In statements over the weekend, the Northern Alliance leadership warned that Kabul was as far as its troops would go. If the US and its coalition partners want to fight the Taliban in their strongholds of Jalalabad and Kandahar, they must find other proxies - or do the fighting themselves."
"As Northern Alliance commanders relish their success at Mazar-i-Sharif and prepare to mount an offensive against the capital, Kabul, signs of division are emerging in the group's political leadership."
"It is still early morning as a family pick over the destruction of their home. On Wednesday night during heavy bombing part of their home was left in ruins when a missile tore through the roof. A couple married two months ago were killed as they slept."
Does this mean we can't bomb the hell out of Iraq?
"Key Afghan opposition commanders are on the verge of abandoning the fight against the Taliban because their confidence in US military strategy has collapsed."
"The latest round of war in Afghanistan could produce more ethnic division in a land already torn by tribal-based conflict."
"Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee expressed concern yesterday about the progress of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, saying the United States had not been adequately prepared for the campaign and ground forces would now be needed to achieve success."
"The U.S. combat commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that apprehending Osama bin Laden isn't one of the missions of Operation Enduring Freedom."

Hmmmm. What about that whole "dead or alive" thing?
"In a potentially unwelcome message in advance of weekend talks with President Bush, Pakistan's president said Thursday that civilian casualties in Afghanistan were fueling perceptions of an unjust war."
"...it is in 'everyone's interest' for the military campaign to be 'short and targeted.'"

But that's not what the U.S. has planned.
"There is concern on both the military and diplomatic fronts over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the bombing strategy; perceived lack of US consultation with its allies; and insufficient US focus on the humanitarian crisis."
Swords, crossbows used as weapons.
"U.S. military strategists had hoped the air attacks and the resulting destruction would generate public anger at the Taliban, forcing them to surrender bin Laden and members of his al Qaeda network. But Afghan refugees said just the opposite has occurred."
The leader of Iraq is an evil man.
"The Bush administration initially hoped that it could destroy the Qaeda terrorists and topple the Taliban regime that protects them through a combination of day and night airstrikes, commando raids and support of anti-Taliban groups in Afghanistan. It hoped for large defections from the Taliban that have not occurred, and it underestimated the Taliban's resilience."
"Life is bitter for families trapped in Pakistan's border camps."
"American military officials assert that superior technology will give their troops a cold-weather advantage. Yet brutal weather conditions here - from capricious lashing winds, to freezing rain and deepening snow that closes supply routes - have already resulted in American casualties, helicopter crashes, and stalled Special Forces operations, US military officials say."
"The more that is known about the leaders of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance opposition, the less attractive and dependable a bunch they seem to be."
"Cracking the Taliban's hold will require taking the south, not just the nation's major cities, the experts say. Opposition forces could take urban areas--such as Jalalabad, Herat, even Kabul--and then find themselves trapped and under sporadic attack from Taliban forces who disappear into the countryside."

This all sounds a little too familiar.
"Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday he hoped U.S. military operations in Afghanistan would not continue through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan."
Up next: napalm, body counts, and the Rolling Stones.
"Thousands of armed Pakistani tribesmen have crossed into Afghanistan and reinforced Taliban trenches to help defend Kabul from an expected ground offensive by the Northern Alliance."
"Aid workers warn that conditions at an Afghan refugee camp on the border with Iran are so bad that people could start dying unless things improve."
"In Afghanistan, perhaps more than anywhere, it is true that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists. The Bush Doctrine requires that America bomb Lebanon.
"The northern-based alliance fighting Afghanistan's Taliban rulers claim they captured towns near a key northern city Tuesday, and its leaders insist they are ready to advance on the capital Kabul and other key cities. But despite new equipment, stepped-up training and high morale, the ragtag opposition army still appears to be outgunned and outmanned by the Taliban, raising the question of whether U.S. ground troops will be required."
Inside W's mind:

Al-Qaeda = Evil
The Evil Empire = Evil
Al-Qaeda = The Evil Empire
"The administration's efforts to win international support for its campaign against Osama bin Laden's Qaeda network and the Taliban government in Afghanistan is inherently difficult because the message administration officials are providing at home is at odds with expectations of foreign governments.

While administration officials have sought to prepare Americans for a long and difficult conflict, Pakistan and other nations in the region are hoping for a short war and the quick exit of United States troops."
"President Pervez Musharraf may have put on a brave front and staked everything to support US-led strikes on Afghanistan, but his future appears fragile with every passing day of the campaign."
"More than four weeks of US air strikes on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban have produced no sign of a collapse of the Islamic militia, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf's spokesman has said."
Who needs bombs?
"The French president, Jacques Chirac, will tell George Bush in Washington today that while France will continue to back the military campaign in Afghanistan, the search for a political framework for the country's future must be intensified."
"The Pentagon's only publicly announced commando raid on Taliban positions, hailed as a success and beamed around the world in grainy video pictures only hours after it took place, actually went badly wrong, seriously injuring American soldiers, sources in Pakistan said yesterday."
"(British) Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has warned killing or capturing Osama Bin Laden will not stop further acts of terrorism being carried out by the al-Qaeda network."
"There are indications of unease among some military experts that the Northern Alliance is up to the job."
"Not all anti-Taliban forces are thirsting for action."
"The war is going 'according to plan,' says the top US military officer, General Richard Myers. No surprises there, then. But behind the relentless American optimism, the questions are building up over precisely what that plan is."

No kidding.
Seymour Hersh is doing some wonderful reporting lately. Read this.
And Indonesia and the Philippines too. Let's bomb all those evil fuckers.
"Analysts here say that if the military campaign does not make serious headway in the next two weeks and the bombing extends into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Musharraf may not be able to contain a simmering Islamic opposition or avoid armed clashes that could shake his Muslim country and jeopardize his government's grip on power."
"Along the front lines, there appears to be uneven desire to engage the Taliban in up-close combat. While some soldiers speak of easy victories, others recount in awe that fanatic Taliban soldiers ran through Northern Alliance minefields in battles last year. These soldiers say they would rather have the Americans bomb the Taliban longer. 'We want America to send 100 planes a day, 200 planes a day,' said Mahmood, who is in charge of about 50 troops at Chagatai on the northern front. 'Then we will attack.'"
"Portraits of the United States as a lonely, self-absorbed bully taking out its rage on defenseless Afghanistan are on the rise. More and more, the war is being seen abroad as 'America against Osama,' not, as the Bush administration would prefer, 'All of us against terrorism.'"
"Once cruise missiles and satellite-guided bombs found their way to their carefully designated targets, the Pentagon believed, the Taliban hordes would start to fall apart. Some top leaders would doubtless be killed, the Pashtun warlords would quickly realise they were on the wrong side and defect, perhaps selling the directions to Bin Laden's hideout."

It hasn't worked out that way.
"Increase the number of advisers"? That rings a bell somewhere.

"The Pentagon is planning to expand the number of advisers working with anti-Taliban groups in Afghanistan, and they will move with the rebel forces when they start to advance against Taliban troops, a senior military official said today."
From dumb to dumber.

"Yet other strategists argue that a massive invasion force of up to 500,000 or even 1 million US troops would be needed to achieve the stated US goals of decisively defeating the Taliban, rooting out Al Qaeda, and leaving in its place a more stable, US-friendly political regime. 'To defeat the Taliban and crush Al Qaeda is going to require large-scale American ground forces,' says John Mearsheimer, co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, adding that at least 500,000 troops would be needed."
"Angry bands of Himalayan rebels unload their ancient carbines and new machine guns across the ancient Silk Road, vowing to avenge what they call US murders of their ethnic kin inside neighboring Afghanistan."