Archive | Afghanistan

When Scholars Join the Slaughter

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, Hayley Austin)

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, Hayley Austin)

A core tenet of the Obama administration’s plans for “victory” in Iraq and Afghanistan is an increased reliance on counterinsurgency.

As previously reported on this web site, the US military has sent shock troops – anthropologists, sociologists and social psychologists – with their own troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, who also donned helmets and flak jackets. By the end of 2007, American scholars in these fields were embedding with the military in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a Pentagon program called Human Terrain System (HTS), which evolved shortly thereafter into a $40 million program that embedded four or five person groups of scholars in the aforementioned fields in all 26 US combat brigades that were busily occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. The program is currently comprised of approximately 400 employees, and is actively seeking new recruits.

Anthropology, in particular, has been referred to throughout history as the “handmaiden of colonialism,” thus putting anthropologists, at least those with a moral conscience, on guard against anything that smells like exploitation or oppression of their subjects. Roberto Gonzalez, an associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University and a leading member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, told Time magazine that the militarization of anthropology will cause the field to become “just another weapon … not a tool for building bridges between peoples.” Anthropology has core professional ethics standards that require voluntary, informed consent from subjects, and that anthropologists do no harm. How likely do you think these will be adhered to by the flack-jacket-wearing, gun-toting, embedded anthropologists working directly with regimental combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

The two highest ethical principles of anthropology are protection of the interests of studied populations and their safety. All anthropological studies consequently are premised on the consent of the subject society. Clearly, the HTS anthropologists have thrown these ethical guidelines out the window. They are to anthropology what state stenographers like Judith Miller and John Burns are to journalism. Continue Reading →

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Tracking the Sound of Revolution

(Photo: Junkyard Empire)

(Photo: Junkyard Empire)

The band Junkyard Empire does not differentiate among music, message and life.

Political Affairs magazine said, “A jazz version of Rage Against the Machine, Minnesota-based Junkyard Empire blends jazz instrumentals, hip hop, and socially conscious lyrics to create a fresh sound … this new Midwestern band has something to say.”

The title track of their new CD Rebellion Politik, declares:

They lure us in stores to keep us all poor
Ignoring the cure for what’s at the core
Explore the floor of the third world poor
Creating the wars for mineral ore

Lead vocalist/rapper Brian Lozenski, whose stage name is MC Brihanu says, “Music and art should represent life. My life revolves around social justice and trying to make a better world for my children. Therefore my music reflects that. I don’t think every piece of art and music needs to be explicitly political, but there needs to be an accurate reflection of people’s lives. Most of the mainstream music we hear today is purposefully not political. That is a political act in itself because corporate media does not want its consumers to think critically and challenge the status quo.” They are a band endorsed by Noam Chomsky.

Christopher Cox, founder of the band, tells Truthout the name evolved in this way:

“I originally proposed the name ‘Refuse Empire’ which was clearly anti-imperialist, but also an ecological statement. The US is an empire of refuse, since the American Empire is based on everything being expendable, quick, throwaway … including capitalism itself, which never leads to long-term good, it only leads to short-term ‘good,’ and that’s a short-term good only for a small group of people. So building an empire on junk is not good for anyone for the long term.” The name then morphed into Junkyard Empire from there. Continue Reading →

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Army Sends Infant to Protective Services, Mom to Afghanistan

U.S. Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson with her son, Kamani. (Credit: Courtesy of Alexis Hutchinson)

U.S. Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson with her son, Kamani. (Credit: Courtesy of Alexis Hutchinson)

VENTURA, California – U.S. Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single mother, is being threatened with a military court-martial if she does not agree to deploy to Afghanistan, despite having been told she would be granted extra time to find someone to care for her 11-month-old son while she is overseas.

Hutchinson, of Oakland, California, is currently being confined at Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, after being arrested. Her son was placed into a county foster care system.

Hutchinson has been threatened with a court martial if she does not agree to deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday, Nov. 15. She has been attempting to find someone to take care of her child, Kamani, while she is deployed overseas, but to no avail.

According to the family care plan of the U.S. Army, Hutchinson was allowed to fly to California and leave her son with her mother, Angelique Hughes of Oakland.

However, after a week of caring for the child, Hughes realised she was unable to care for Kamani along with her other duties of caring for a daughter with special needs, her ailing mother, and an ailing sister.

In late October, Angelique Hughes told Hutchinson and her commander that she would be unable to care for Kamani after all. The Army then gave Hutchinson an extension of time to allow her to find someone else to care for Kamani. Meanwhile, Hughes brought Kamani back to Georgia to be with his mother.

However, only a few days before Hutchinson’s original deployment date, she was told by the Army she would not get the time extension after all, and would have to deploy, despite not having found anyone to care for her child.

Faced with this choice, Hutchinson chose not to show up for her plane to Afghanistan. The military arrested her and placed her child in the county foster care system. Continue Reading →

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Tomgram: Jamail and Lazare, Who Will Be Sent to Afghanistan?

In a grim November 3rd Wall Street Journal piece (buried inside the paper), Yochi Dreazen reported record suicide rates for a stressed-out U.S. Army. Sixteen soldiers killed themselves in October alone, 134 so far this year, essentially ensuring that last year’s “record” of 140 suicides will be broken. This represents a startling 37% jump in suicides since 2006 and, for the first time, puts the suicide rate in the Army above that of the general U.S. population.

After eight years of two major counterinsurgency wars (and various minor encounters in what used to be called the Global War on Terror), with many soldiers experiencing multiple tours of duty, with approximately 120,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq and almost 70,000 in Afghanistan, with the Afghan War clearly in an escalatory phase, commanders in the field calling for 40,000-80,000 more American troops, and base construction on the rise, the military’s internal problems are clearly escalating as well. Continue Reading →

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