Jasper Johns - Flag - 1954-55

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"The former commander of Nato forces in Europe fears that America, Britain and their allies could become embroiled in an unwinnable guerrilla war in Afghanistan."
"Hours after announcing that a satellite receiver found in an Afghan cave came from an American soldier killed in Somalia - suggesting the extent of al-Qaida's reach - embarrassed US officials admitted yesterday that it had actually been lost by a US soldier in Afghanistan in the past few weeks."
"American forces might cross the border into Pakistan to capture or kill Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters widely believed to have found sanctuary there, according to their commander."
"US incursions into Pakistan in pursuit of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters could provoke resistance from Pashtun tribesmen, who have traditionally had good relations with both groups, Pakistani officials said."
"Back in December they were celebrating a resounding victory - and ridiculing the peaceniks. 'Well, ha ha ha, and yah, boo,' declared Christopher Hitchens memorably. But now 1,700 British soldiers are headed for the conflict, American troops are bogged down and Bin Laden is nowhere to be found. So what do the hawks think now? "
"U.S. coalition forces were engaged in renewed fighting overnight after their positions came under attack in the eastern Afghan town of Khost, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday."
"President Bush is expected to ask Congress this week for another $20 billion to $25 billion to finance the war against terrorism abroad and at home and for other initiatives, congressional aides and a White House official said Tuesday."
"Armed with evidence that al-Qaeda members have fled from Afghanistan to Indonesia, Bush administration officials are pressing to get U.S. forces into the giant archipelago."
"After months of searching the bomb-ravaged wreckage of terrorist training camps and other sites in Afghanistan, investigators have concluded that while Al Qaeda researched chemical and biological weapons there is no indication that it acquired or produced them, government officials say."
"Protected by sympathetic clerics, up to 1,000 Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are hiding in Pakistan and planning a Taliban comeback in Afghanistan, according to Taliban members and others familiar with the Islamic movement."
"Prisoners captured in the latest raid on a suspected Afghan terrorist compound have turned out to be neither Taliban nor al-Qaeda and will be released, military officials said Tuesday."
"Bush sends in 200 crack troops at a cost of $64m to tackle a few dozen militants."
"In the thin air of higher altitudes, soldiers have suffered severe sunburn in the day and freezing temperatures at night. Dozens of US troops involved in Operation Anaconda over the past fortnight in the mountains outside Gardez suffered altitude sickness. Soldiers said their speed over the ground was slowed to a crawl by the lack of oxygen. Empty mineral water bottles litter the mountain slopes at Gardez, where troops stopped for frequent rehydration breaks."
"Mr Tenet did not present any new hard evidence of Iraqi collusion with al-Qaeda to the committee."

Except, that is, for the most recent issue of The New Yorker.
"Iraq topped the vice president's agenda, but Israel was the focus for the leaders he met."
"The United States has done a good job breaking up the Taliban and al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, but Americans should be prepared to spend many years flushing out remaining militants, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Sunday."
"America's request for the deployment of 1,700 British troops to Afghanistan shows that despite months of intensive bombing from the air, and weeks of fighting on the ground, the war against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters is far from over."
"... as the United States wages its war on terrorism in Afghanistan and deploys troops for the first time in the energy-rich regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus – the borders of a new American empire appear to be forming."

See also: Map of oil and US military presence in Caspian and Middle East region.
"As the US declares Operation Anaconda a success, Afghans predict a new fight in Khost province."
"After just over two weeks of fighting in inhospitable terrain, Operation Anaconda - the US effort to wipe out a major al-Qaeda and Taleban concentration in eastern Afghanistan - is drawing to a close. The operation was billed by US commanders as a decisive battle. It has been claimed that hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters have been killed after concerted ground and air operations. But now a more complex picture is emerging, and even the Americans are accepting that further battles are still ahead."
"The UK is to send an infantry battle group to Afghanistan in what Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon called the biggest British troop deployment since the Gulf War."
"Britain's military leaders issued a stark warning to Tony Blair last night that any war against Iraq is doomed to fail and would lead to the loss of lives for little political gain."
"We're talking about King Lear and President George W -- about the thin grey line between tragedy and comedy, between pathos and bathos. And we are walking the line. This war on terror, for the moment, is still a Ridley Scott sort of movie: all clenched jaws and derring-do. Not many laughs. But Robert Altman is waiting in the wings, ready to take over as black hawks go down and black farces begin."
"US President George W Bush was forced to get involved in the Middle East affairs on Arab insistence as a condition for support for his plans against Iraq, official sources were on Sunday quoted as saying."
"As a force of 700 United States and Canadian troops continued to search the battle zone, the American officer heading the operation said on Saturday that fewer than 20 bodies had been found on the ridge above the Shah-e-Kot Valley, where many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters had made a final stand."
"In a Qaeda house in Kabul, there was a public statement from the 'Islamic Battalion, Kurdistan, Iraq,' dated Nov. 20, 1999, calling on 'the movement for Islamic unity' to help in the jihad against President Saddam Hussein."

Vice President Cheney said to be "thrilled" to finally receive support for the jihad against Saddam.
"Afghanistan's defense ministry accused Pakistan on Sunday of harboring wanted Taliban leaders and al-Qaeda fighters in its border regions where government control is weak and tribal traditions hold sway."
"The United States was preparing strikes last night against newly discovered pockets of al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters in Afghanistan as increased financial activity by Osama bin Laden’s network raised fears that his operatives were plotting more terrorist attacks."
"Saudi Arabia has told Vice-President Dick Cheney that American forces will not be allowed to use the kingdom's territory to launch military strikes against Iraq."
"Rarely can an American vice-president have met such a rebuff from America's Arab allies. Not a single Arab king, prince or president has been prepared to endorse a US attack on Iraq."
"In the first concrete sign that the US is planning military action against Iraq despite objections from its allies, CIA officers have surveyed three key airfields in northern Iraq."
"Villagers say 52 people, mostly women and children, were killed in the bombing and strafing four months ago that obliterated this isolated hamlet, a few houses ringed by irrigated wheat fields among miles of semi-desert emptiness in southern Afghanistan. Now the case of Choker Karaiz is one of dozens of U.S. air attacks for which survivors have filed claims for compensation."
"There were no dead al-Qaeda fighters. No fresh graves. The signs of war here, as on the 20-mile ride south from the city of Gardez, were mostly knocked-down walls and pockmarked roads."

But we killed 800 of 'em.
"The $25 million bounty Uncle Sam has offered for information leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden hasn't worked, because, US officials are now saying, the Afghans can't comprehend just how large the sum is."
"Saudi Arabia is to deliver an uncompromising message to the US vice-president Dick Cheney that it opposes attacking Iraq and will not cooperate in military efforts to remove Saddam Hussein."
"Afghan commanders yesterday cast doubt on the success of the US military operation in the mountains at Shah-i-Kot when they admitted that hundreds of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters had escaped during the 12-day assault."
"Chicago arrest of man carrying cyanide shows US citizens still represent a source of terrorist threats."
"For all intents and purposes, the battle of Shah-i-Kot Valley is over. US-led coalition forces are rummaging through hideouts and caves in search of information or ammunition left behind by Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. While US military officials are declaring "Operation Anaconda" a success, Afghan officials and progovernment forces are providing a somewhat different report card."
"In the Kurdish north, a new Islamist group with ties to Al Qaeda has killed women without burqas, seized villages."

US to ally with group to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
"The absence ... of any significant resistance or sign of the enemy, dead or alive, raised suspicions that many fighters had escaped before the offensive had begun."
You can't make it up.
"The president dismisses bin Laden as 'marginalized,' and warns Hussein that nuclear weapons are an option."
"Operation Harpoon"
"As for the American operation, some participants lauded it for effectively encircling the foe, while others said the Taliban had more or less come and gone as they pleased, visiting villagers in nearby towns."
800 dead. "Those numbers are all extremely fuzzy," said one senior military officer.
"American fighter jets attacked a vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, killing 14 people, including women and children, US defence officials admitted last night."
"Now, as in 1990, American attempts to garner Arab support are complicated by accusations of double standards. Regional commentators point out that the US insists Iraq must comply with all UN resolutions, while Israel for decades has ignored others demanding its withdrawal from occupied Arab lands. The US, they add, also remains silent on Israel's nuclear stockpile while focusing solely on Iraq's suspected pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."
"King Abdullah of Jordan has warned US Vice-President Dick Cheney that a US attack on Iraq could seriously destabilise the region."
Why do they hate us?

See also: Thomas L. Friedman, "A Foul Wind"
"Two British scholars say the US strategy for defeating al-Qaeda is in fact having the opposite effect. They describe the military response to the terrorism of 11 September as 'deeply counter-productive'."
"The United States faces growing pressure to approve an increase in U.N. peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan as rival warlords continue to undermine the interim government of Hamid Karzai."
"Hundreds of American troops were pulled out of the ground battle with al-Qaeda forces because they failed to adapt to the guerrilla tactics required for fighting in the mountains, according to their Afghan allies."
"Only two of the top 20 most-wanted al-Qaeda suspects are known to have been caught or killed: Mohammed Atef, third-in-command to Osama bin Laden, died in a rocket attack on Kabul; and Anas al-Liby, a computer expert who lived in Manchester and is said to have helped to compile al-Qaeda’s terrorist training manual, has been arrested. No one in the American military or intelligence services knows where bin Laden is."
"But as the United States mounted anti-rebel operations in the Philippines, Georgia and Yemen, routed al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan were said to be regrouping again in several provinces around Kabul."
Ethnic Tajiks loyal to Northern Alliance sent to fight in Pashtun-dominated area.
"Up to 5,000 government troops are preparing to head off a fresh uprising by Taliban and al Qaeda rebels in several Afghan provinces near Kabul."
"President Bush declared today that the United States was willing to train and provide military aid to "governments everywhere" for the fight against terrorism and for what he made clear would be battles beyond Afghanistan."
"Ever since 11 September, he's been an international man of mystery. Holed up in a secret hideaway, communicating mainly by fuzzy video image, few knew his whereabouts as he plotted the next stage of his global bombing campaign.

But yesterday Dick Cheney, Vice-President of the United States, finally emerged blinking into the glare of the media spotlight when he met Tony Blair at Downing Street on the first leg of a whirlwind diplomatic tour yesterday."
"George Bush vowed to wage an unrelenting war against terrorism and the states that sponsored it yesterday, and called on the rest of the 'civilised world' to join him."
"Washington's determination to take action against Iraq leaves President Bush with three unenviable options in his attempt to remove President Saddam Hussein from power."
"Operation Anaconda signals the beginning of a new phase of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. In this phase insurgency and counterinsurgency operations will become the main feature. Militarily, Operation Anaconda shows the United States has yet to find aneffective response on the ground to guerrilla warfare. Dominant air power will remain the only sufficient means to win battles, but it might not be enough to win the war in Afghanistan. effective response on the ground to guerrilla warfare. Dominant air power will remain the only sufficient means to win battles, but it might not be enough to win the war in Afghanistan."
"The United States plans to deploy up to 100 soldiers to Yemen to train local security forces and assist in Yemen's hunt for al Qaeda. But strong opposition to the presence of U.S. forces in the country remains, and the mission may trigger a surge in attacks against U.S. assets and personnel."
Perpetual war speech to be given today at 10 AM ET.
Seymour Hersh on the Defense and State Departments' nasty battle over how to topple Saddam:

"It's the return of the right-wing crazies, crawling their way back," one of Armitage's associates said, referring to Wolfowitz's team. "The knives are out." One senior State Department official angrily told me that he would "meet them"—his "pissant" detractors in the Pentagon—"anytime, anywhere." In return, one of those detractors depicted the State Department's behavior as "unbelievably personal and vitriolic. Their attitude is that we're yahoos—especially those of us who come from the far right. The American Enterprise Institute"—a conservative think tank in Washington—"is like Darth Vader's mother ship for them."
"Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Sunday his country would not allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return."
"Al-Qaeda may have lost its Afghan power base but it has survived as a deadly threat."
"The U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan said Sunday that American forces have made new advances against the last known major pocket of al-Qaida resistance but have yet to find any sign of Osama bin Laden or other leaders of the terrorist network."
"The whereabouts of the world's most wanted man is still the biggest question in the war on terror."
"The very Afghan forces that American fighters depend on to lead them into alien territory are again splintered and making noises of a return to the country's long-running civil war. The U.S. assault has brought long-feuding Afghans into closer proximity, leading to fears that, at any time, they will start shooting at one another and not at the intended enemy."
"Rivalries between Afghan factions are threatening to undermine the American-led effort against al-Qaeda as hundreds of former Northern Alliance troops pour into eastern Afghanistan to assist in the battle."
"The exiled king of Afghanistan denounced the US-led war on terror in his country as 'stupid and useless' in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa published on Thursday."
"As fighting raged, U.S. officials and Afghan commanders said al-Qaida sympathizers — including some from Pakistan — had crossed into the mountains to join the fight. Afghans said enemy forces may now number 1,000."


"The U.S. operations over the hills have sparked resentment among some villagers, who fear that innocent civilians — including wives and children of fighters — were being killed. Resentment is also high in Surmad, because U.S.-led forces detained the police chief just before the offensive began."
"After five years of oppression, Afghan women have in theory regained their rights, but in Kabul their new-found freedom seems elusive as the majority continue to wear the all-enveloping burqa which was mandatory under the Taliban."
"Military officers are privately criticizing U.S. tactics in the battle of Gardez, saying war commanders should have used air strikes for days or weeks before sending ground forces against 800 enemy troops in Afghanistan."
"Tony Blair faced the prospect of a Cabinet revolt over military action against Iraq yesterday after ministers claimed that America could drag Britain into a new Gulf war."
"US forces are active in the biggest array of countries since the second world war. Troops, sailors and airmen are now established in countries where they have never before had a presence. The aim is to provide platforms from which to launch attacks on any group perceived by George Bush to be a danger to the US."
"Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has urged the United States to focus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of tackling Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
"Georgia said on Thursday militants from Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network were in rebel Abkhazia, raising the specter of military action by Georgian forces under the banner of the U.S.-led war on terrorism."
When do we start bombing?
"Faulty information — much of it provided by Afghans unfamiliar with the terrain — may have been responsible for losses on the first day of Operation Anaconda — the biggest offensive of the Afghan war."
"Under the shadow of U.S. threats against Baghdad, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan conducted one-day talks with a high-level Iraqi delegation on Thursday, saying he would press for the return of U.N. arms inspectors."
"The Pashtuns of northern Afghanistan are fleeing their villages by the thousands now, telling tales of murder and rape and robbery."
"Traditional political enmities and tribal rivalries have allowed the Taliban to regroup around Gardez in eastern Paktia province in Afghanistan, from where they will coordinate guerrilla operations in many parts of the country."
"The failure of a US-led assault on al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan demonstrates its lack of understanding of power struggles among warlords."
"The countdown to war against Iraq began yesterday when America presented satellite evidence to the United Nations showing that Saddam Hussein had misused humanitarian aid to bolster his army."
"Some had talked of wrapping up the operation in eastern Afghanistan in little more than 24 hours. Some thought the Taliban and al-Qa'ida forces of no more than a couple of hundred would take to their heels and flee once the mighty US ground forces flexed their muscles."
"Western governments are discussing plans to double the international military force in Afghanistan and deploy troops outside the capital, Kabul, as concern grows about deteriorating security."
"Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar said on Wednesday President Bush's description of Iran as part of an 'axis of evil' may undermine the country's political reform process."
"For all America's success early in the Afghan campaign - and its continued confidence that it will vanquish foes surrounded in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan - Al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts are nevertheless displaying the traits that make this global terrorist network more daunting than others: a relatively sophisticated, well-trained and financed organization that draws on ongoing grass-roots support and a fanatical willingness to fight to the death."
"With the Bush administration pressing its case that Iraq is secretly continuing to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weaponry - and US attacks appearing increasingly likely - Iraqi officials have agreed to hold talks with the UN."
"Don't expect sweetness and light from the US government's latest religious phase."

See also: lyrics to Pat McCurdy's song God.

God loves democracy more than aristocracy
God hates Iraqians, Russians, Jews and Libyans

God is good, God is great
God don't like the welfare state
God drives a Chevrolet

God made petroleum to make my Winnebago run
God made plants and trees
We can waste them as we please
God loves the strong and tall
God loves white folks most of all
God loves the USA
"Britain and the US are engaged in a joint strategy designed to apply pressure on Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors into Iraq while preparing public opinion for military action against the country."
"As it attempts to hunt down the remaining elements of al Qaeda and the Taliban, the U.S. military is relying heavily on a shaky coalition of Afghan militia groups to do much of the ground fighting."

Countdown to blowback.
"Sensitive to the public's reaction to the growing dangers, White House officials drew up a communications plan meant to persuade Americans that al-Qaida fighters have suffered worse casualties and that America is winning."
"With competing warlords threatening the peace in Afghanistan, the United States and its allies are considering doubling the number of foreign peacekeepers, perhaps under U.S. command, diplomats said on Tuesday."
"Eight Americans have been killed and 40 more GIs wounded in the U.S. offensive against regrouping Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters that began with airstrikes late Friday in eastern Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said Monday."
"American allies in the war on terrorism, including Pakistan and Uzbekistan, abused human rights at home last year, as did Russia and China, the government says."
"Both the Northern Alliance and the ultra-conservative Taliban it ousted in Afghanistan with U.S. help committed many serious human rights abuses over the past year, the State Department said on Monday."
"President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt brought a mixed message to the Bush administration Monday. He is urging caution in considering any attack on Iraq while supporting the US campaign against terrorism."
"For months, US-led forces in Afghanistan have fought what many experts dubbed a new "Afghan model" kind of war, combining air power, proxy forces, and US special operations units.

Now, suddenly, the US and its allies are in the fray of an old-fashioned ground war, as they try to root out Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants dug into caves in snow-covered mountains south of Gardez."
"Even as American troops and allied Afghan fighters conduct their heaviest assault so far this year against a determined group of Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, surging ethnic tensions and jockeying warlords are undermining dreams of unity and peace elsewhere in Afghanistan."
Franks: "First, let me say that our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the friends of the service members who have lost their lives in our ongoing operations in Vietnam. Certainly, that sacrifice is appreciated by this nation."
"As the United States opens more fronts in its war on terrorism, calls are increasing in Congress for the Bush administration to better define the new military missions — and give some idea how long they might last."
"An American helicopter was shot down over eastern Afghanistan, raising casualties in the largest ground operation of the 5-month-old war, Pentagon sources said Monday."
Afghans describe the battle:

"They (U.S. forces) made a big mistake. They went ahead without making trenches, without reinforcing their positions. And then they were cut off. They retreated really badly."

"Our command was really bad. The American command was really bad. We didn't think about all the aspects of the battle before we attacked."
"The Sept. 11 attacks initially brought Europe and the United States closer together, with spontaneous outpourings of sympathy on the streets of Europe and pledges of solidarity from the corridors of power. But nearly six months on, the transatlantic allies are at odds over how to deal with key international issues highlighted by the attacks on New York and the Pentagon."
"The apparent convergence of so many Taliban and Qaeda men, at a time when the United States had begun an all-out effort to smash the two groups, posed what could be almost the greatest conundrum of the war: How it was possible for such a large number of fugitives, including Arab men distinguished by their language and customs, to gather openly in Zormat, a town that lies less than 20 miles from Gardez, a busy provincial capital, and then move into the nearby mountains, without attracting an earlier pursuit by American and Afghan forces?"
"Northern Afghanistan, once the bastion of a single warlord, is now the stage for an increasingly violent struggle as the same rivals that helped reduce the country to rubble race against time to expand their power base."
"The Bush administration hopes to use concern over terrorism to build support in Congress for direct aid to the Colombian government to fight leftist rebels, officials say."
"The flight of the Taliban from Kabul last year was so sudden and the collapse of their defenses in their Kandahar stronghold so dramatic that it created the impression that the war was all but won. The battles over Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz and Tora Bora appeared to have given way to sporadic and occasionally ill- planned raids against small groups of Al Qaeda fighters. The war that began with such a bang appeared to end with a whimper.

But that was something of an illusion. While it is true that life has been returning to normal in the main Afghan cities, it is also true that much of the vast country is a no man's land. That is certainly the case in the Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces in eastern Afghanistan."
"Robert Baer, the ex-CIA man in Iraq during the failed uprising in 1995, says the US is not in a position to strike against Iraq because it does not understand anything about the country."
"Afghanistan's bloodthirsty chieftains united to beat the Taliban -- but they are now turning on each other."
"New cracks emerged in the US political unity behind the war on terrorism last night, after allied troops engaged in the largest ground offensive since attacks in Afghanistan began."
"A day-by-day account of how Osama bin Laden eluded the world's most powerful military machine."
"Thinking big, President Nixon raised the idea of using a nuclear bomb against North Vietnam in 1972, but Henry Kissinger quickly dismissed the notion."
Trent Lott responds: "How dare anyone criticize the prosecution of a war while we're at war." Huh?
"The opium poppy harvest in Afghanistan this year is likely to return to levels seen before the ousted Taliban banned the crop, the United Nations reported Thursday."
"Despite Washington's hard line towards Iraq, the United States is comfortably the world's largest consumer of Iraqi crude oil and depends on Baghdad for some 9 percent of its oil imports."
"Bush officials say it is not matter of if Hussein must go, but when, and how."