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Tallying the costs of Obama's war in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama signed a slew of bills into law during the lame-duck session of Congress and was dubbed the "Comeback Kid" amid a flurry of fawning press reports. In the hail of this surprise bipartisanship, though, the one issue over which Democrats and Republicans always agree, war, was completely ignored. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history, and 2010 has seen the highest number of U.S. and NATO soldiers killed.

Afghanistan: The crucible for reorienting Canadian foreign policy

Operation Apollo, Operation Athena, Operation Archer, Operation Accius, Operation Altair... since Canada first entered the war on Afghanistan in 2001 the list of extensions, renewals and "spin-offs" has gone on and on and on. Originally scheduled to end in 2003, Canada's involvement in this imperialist aggression threatens to continue until 2014 if Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets his way.

Afghanistan has been the central preoccupation of Canadian foreign policy over the past decade. It has also been a main focus of peace movement activity. Mobilizations against the war in Afghanistan have not been nearly as spectacular as those against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The build up was slower, and it took more time to locate a basis of unity upon which to build mobilizations.

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Wikileaks: Colonial limbo a deliberate attempt to keep islanders from homeland

The Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS) facility at Diego Garcia is one of three operational sites worldwide. Photo: United States Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer/Wikipedia.

Six months ago, I wrote a piece for rabble.ca describing the appalling treatment of the people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean by the British government. 

The islands were purchased by the government of Britain in 1966 from Seychellois Chagos Agalega Company, with the initial intention of running them as a U.K. government-owned plantation enterprise. This proved less profitable than the establishment of Cold War strategic military bases, so the islanders were removed.

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Columnists

Three years later, Fukushima nuclear disaster continues to serve as a warning

Photo: Randy Woolsey/flickr

Three years have passed since the earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The tsunami's immediate death toll was more than 15,000, with close to 3,000 still missing. Casualties are still mounting, though, both in Japan and much farther away. The impact of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown on health and the environment is severe, compounded daily as radioactive pollution continues to pour from the site, owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO.

Growing support for Omar Khadr's freedom and next steps to justice

Photo: flickr/howlmontreal

Despite recent legal setbacks in Omar Khadr’s long struggle for justice, there is a growing wave of Canadian and international support from those who believe in his innocence, who are outraged at the gross injustice he has suffered and who demand his immediate release.

Equally encouraging are two voices from the U.S. military, Dr. Stephen Xenakis a retired Brigadier-General, and Sam Morison a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Defense, who recently travelled to Edmonton, where Khadr is currently detained in a maximum-security prison, to share their opinion that Khadr should be released.

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Growing epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. military

Photo Illustration: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t/flickr

Rape is centre stage this week after the dramatic rescue of three women from close to a decade of imprisonment in a house on a quiet street in Cleveland. The suspect, Ariel Castro, has been charged with kidnap and rape. These horrific allegations have shocked the nation, and demand a full investigation and a vigorous prosecution.

Also this week, the Pentagon released a shocking new report on rape and sexual assault in the U.S. military. According to the latest available figures, an estimated average of 70 sexual assaults are committed daily within the U.S. military, or 26,000 per year. The number of actually reported sexual assaults for the Pentagon's fiscal year 2012 was 3,374. Of that number, only 190 were sent to a court-martial proceeding.

Columnists

Wikileaks' new release The Kissinger Cables and Bradley Manning

Photo: cliff1066™/Flickr

Wikileaks has released a new trove of documents, more than 1.7 million U.S. State Department cables dating from 1973-1976, which they have dubbed "The Kissinger Cables," after Henry Kissinger, who in those years served as secretary of state and assistant to the president for national security affairs.

One cable includes a transcribed conversation where Kissinger displays remarkable candor: "Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, 'The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.' [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I'm afraid to say things like that."

Columnists

The terrorizing occupation of Afghanistan

We may never know what drove a U.S. Army staff sergeant to head out into the Afghan night and allegedly murder at least 16 civilians in their homes, among them nine children and three women. The massacre near Belambai, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, has shocked the world and intensified the calls for an end to the longest war in U.S. history. The attack has been called tragic, which it surely is. But when Afghans attack U.S. forces, they are called "terrorists." That is, perhaps, the inconsistency at the core of U.S. policy, that democracy can be delivered through the barrel of a gun, that terrorism can be fought by terrorizing a nation.

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