The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Show by  
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Publications Filter?
Counterpunch Independent
Nothing found
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
/
Afghanistan

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
The explosion of a giant bomb in a sewage tanker close to the diplomatic quarter in Kabul is receiving much publicity because of the heavy loss of life and because so many foreign embassies were damaged. A BBC driver was killed and four BBC journalists were wounded by the blast. But, aside from spectacular incidents... Read More
Our ageing Russian-built helicopter flies into the Panjshir valley from the north, high over desolate, brown hills. We land at Changaram, a narrow point in the valley where lush, green fields and terraces cling to the sides of the mountains. All along the narrow dirt road are signs of the armies that have tried to... Read More
War reporting is easy to do but very difficult to do really well. There is great demand for a reporter’s output during the fighting because it is melodramatic and appeals to readers and viewers. This is what I used to label in my own mind as “twixt shot and shell” reporting, and there is nothing... Read More
The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at,' wrote Sergeant Bergdahl in an email later published by Rolling Stone magazine
It is a bitter indictment of an army in trouble. It was written by the American soldier Bowe Bergdahl in his last email to his parents sent just before he walked off his base in eastern Afghanistan on 30 June 2009. Within hours, he was picked by the Taliban who held him for five years... Read More
Corruption has blighted the torrent of dollars poured into the country by America since 2001
An Afghan acquaintance who had worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) told me several years ago how an Afghan subcontractor had made a large profit from a contract to build and get running a tractor repair shop in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan. Uruzgan, the home province of Mullah Omar, the... Read More
The country is in such a bad way as western troops depart that leaders can only spin, almost to the point of lying
A few years ago in Kabul, I was listening to a spokesman for an Afghan government organisation who was giving me a long, upbeat and not very convincing account of the achievements of the institution for which he worked. To relieve the tedium, and without much expectation of getting an interesting reply, I asked him... Read More
Deal in Geneva shows the Kremlin’s influence is at its greatest for more than 20 years
Russia’s return to the status of a great power has been obvious for some time. A Middle East leader who asked a senior American general earlier this summer about US plans for military intervention in Syria was told that prospects differed from the past because “Russia is back” as a major player. The agreement reached... Read More
Massacres Will Always Follow
Cairo I remember walking into Sabra and Shatila in south Beirut in 1982 just after the massacre of at least 1,700 Palestinians by Christian militiamen loosed on the refugee camps by the Israeli army. The bodies were beginning to bloat as they lay heaped up in small shops and alleyways. Most were old men, women... Read More
“The US has an army of 90,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and is spending $100 billion a year, but has still been unable to defeat 20,000-25,000 Taliban who receive no pay at all.”
The United States' announcement that it plans to end the combat role of its troops in Afghanistan earlier than expected, and before the end of next year, is a crucial milestone in the international forces' retreat from the country. Coming after the French decision to go early, the US move looks like part of a... Read More
Journalists and Hotels
In the middle of last week, nine heavily armed Taliban suicide bombers stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. By the time the last three attackers were shot dead on the roof of the hotel by machine-gun fire from NATO helicopters, parts of the building were blazing and 12 other people, mostly Afghan civilians, were dead.... Read More
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
It was one of the great prison escapes in history in terms of the ingenuity and perseverance of those involved. It happened at 10pm on April 25 this year in southern Afghanistan when, after five months tunnelling, Taliban diggers finally broke through the concrete floor of a cell in the centre of Sarposa prison on... Read More
The Tide of Upbeat Reports From Afghanistan
During the mid-1960s, America's goal during a crucial stage in the Vietnam war was to defeat the enemy militarily. But it had no realistic political strategy to underpin the goal, and it was this which ultimately led to failure. America's strategy in Afghanistan is now suffering from a similar weakness. Barack Obama made the edgy... Read More
"People are Dying of Starvation in Kabul"
Kabul Beautiful but fake photographs are often the only evidence that companies have carried out expensive aid projects located in parts of Afghanistan too dangerous for donors to visit. “I went to see a food processing plant in the east of the country which was meant to employing 250 women,” says an Afghan who used... Read More
US Now in Afghanistan Longer Than Soviets
Kabul. US forces have now stayed longer in Afghanistan than the Soviet army during Moscow’s ill-fated intervention. The US military late last month exceeded the nine years and 50 days that Soviet troops were stationed in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989. The event provoked queries about similarities between the American and Soviet experiences in Afghanistan,... Read More
Pakistan and the Taliban are the Key to Peace
Denunciations of Pakistan by President Obama and British prime minister David Cameron for “promoting terror” misses the point that there will be no peace in Afghanistan without Pakistani involvement. Finger wagging by Cameron is not going to change the inter-dependence between the insurgency in Afghanistan and the Pakistani army which has existed since the Soviet... Read More
Destroy Kandahar in Order to Save It?
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in London Saturday as US generals express doubts that they are having any success in fighting the Taliban. The US and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen Stanley McChrystal, who was boasting of military progress only three months ago, confessed last week that “nobody is winning.” His only claim now is... Read More
A Wider and Unnecessary War
It will be a long and unnecessary war. President Obama is sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to prove that the US can impose its will on the country and crush by military means what is still a relatively small scale insurrection.      The real reasons for escalating the conflict are very different from those... Read More
Stealing Money, Selling Heroin and Raping Boys
Just when President Barack Obama looked as if he might be railroaded into sending tens of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan the American envoy to Kabul has warned him not to do so. In a leaked cable to Washington sent last week, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Gen Karl W. Eikenberry, argues that it... Read More
Why Afghans Oppose the Escalation
The US is poised to send tens of thousands more soldiers to the country. The nature of the conflict is changing. What should be a war in which the Afghan government fights the Taliban has become one which is being fought primarily by the American and British armies. To more and more Afghans this looks... Read More
Deaths Bring Whole Afghan Strategy Into Question
I was in an office in Kabul this summer being lectured by a mid-ranking official about the successful work of the government. "Completely off the record, what do you really think of this government?" I asked him, not expecting a very interesting reply. "So long as you promise not to reveal my identity, I can... Read More
A Long-Term Disaster for Obama and the US
The election in Afghanistan has turned into a disaster for all who promoted it. Hamid Karzai has been declared re-elected as president of the country for the next five years though his allies inside and outside Afghanistan know that he owes his success to open fraud. Instead of increasing his government’s legitimacy, the poll has... Read More
In Iraq and Afghanistan American and British forces became participants in civil wars which their own presence has exacerbated and prolonged. The US and UK governments persistently ignore the extent to which foreign military occupation has destabilized both countries. The reason for this should be obvious: foreign occupations have seldom been popular throughout history. The... Read More
The Growing Body Count From "Task Force Violence"
It is astonishing to discover that the same small American unit, the US Marine Corps' Special Operations or MarSOC, has been responsible for all three of the worst incidents in Afghanistan in which civilians have been killed. Its members refer to themselves as "Taskforce Violence" and the Marines' own newspaper scathingly refers to the unit... Read More
The U.S. Says It's Not a Story
Herat is cut off from the rest of the planet. This was once one of the great cities of the world, an imperial capital drawing its wealth from trade along the Silk Road with Iran, the rest of Afghanistan and central Asia. Above the 800-year-old mosque in the city centre are minarets covered in blue... Read More
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
When President Hamid Karzai drove to Kabul airport to fly to America earlier this week, the centre of the Afghan capital was closed down by well-armed security men, soldiers and policemen. On his arrival in Washington he will begin two days of meetings, starting today, with President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari... Read More
Afghan Ayatollahs Press Marital Rape Law
Kabul. Supporters of the Afghan law which critics claim legalizes marital rape and restricts the rights of women say they will oppose amending the legislation significantly despite protests against it. “A change in this law will be illegal and against democracy,” says Sayed Abdul Latif Sajadi,” a senior Shia cleric in Kabul who played a... Read More
Living High on the West's Largesse
Kabul. Vast sums of money are being lavished by Western aid agencies on their own officials in Afghanistan at a time when extreme poverty is driving young Afghans to fight for the Taliban. The going rate paid by the Taliban for an attack on a police checkpoint in the west of the country is $4,... Read More
The Noose Tightens in Afghanistan
Kabul. Hamid Karzai, who played host to the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, in Kabul two days ago, will have been delighted to hear the Prime Minister confirm the long-standing Afghan belief that there can be no long-term success against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan so long as they base themselves in Pakistan. Afghan leaders... Read More
How the West Lost Its Way in the East
After seven long years in which it seemed a sideshow to the bigger conflict in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan has reached a critical point. The US must now choose how far it will become further embroiled in a messy conflict which affects its relations with Pakistan, India and the wider Middle East including Iran.... Read More
The first serious talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place ten days ago in Mecca under the auspices of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. During the discussions all sides agreed that the war in Afghanistan is going to be solved by dialogue and not by fighting. The Taliban leader Mullah Omar was... Read More
Faraway Wars Without End
Six years after a war was launched to overthrow the Taliban, British solders are still being killed in bloody skirmishing in a conflict in which no final victory is possible. Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan by the US, Britain and allies, an operation codenamed Enduring Freedom. But six years on,... Read More
Tribal Council:
The Independent in Mohammed Agha, Afghanistan In a field in an arid valley south of Kabul a hundred local leaders, all powerful in their own districts, assembled yesterday to debate the future of their province at the same time as Afghan politicians were meeting in Germany to try to create a stable government for their... Read More
Inside Afghanistan
in Faizabad The Independent We had just driven through the village of Jorm, a huddle of mud-brick houses surrounded by trees in an upland valley in northern Afghanistan, when we saw about fifty people running towards us in a sort of bewildered panic. As they grew closer we saw that two of them were carrying... Read More
The son of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has been killed by an American air strike. An Afghan doctor said yesterday that he had struggled in vain to save the life of the boy, aged 10, after the child was injured during the first night of strikes on the southern city of... Read More
Fighting raged around Mazar-i-Sharif when the Afghan opposition advanced on the strategic northern city for the first time, aided by American bombers pounding Taliban frontline positions. If the city falls, then the Taliban position to the north of the country, where they have never been popular, might begin to unravel. In the past two days,... Read More
It is a strange battlefield. The front line cuts across the green Shomali plain, one of the most fertile parts of Afghanistan, its fields fed by the rivers flowing out of the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. Here, amid the close-packed mud-brick villages, home to 800,000 people, the Taliban and the opposition Northern Alliance... Read More
From a hilltop 40 miles north of Kabul, across a clear night sky illuminated by a half a silver moon, I saw flashes on the skyline last night as the Allied air strikes began. Under a canopy of stars, plumes of fire were visible across the flat, heavily populated Shomali plain, which leads to the... Read More
Deep inside Afghan territory, the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance is secretly building an airbase at breakneck speed, which the US-led coalition will then use to funnel massive amounts of military supplies to the one force that is already taking the war to Osama bin Laden's protectors. The new airfield is expected to transform the military balance... Read More
The Waiting Is the Hardest Part
in the Panjshir Valley The Independent Soldiers of the Afghan opposition will launch ground attacks on the Taliban only when the US begins military action in Afghanistan, a senior general of the Northern Alliance has said. General Feisal Ahmed Hazimi, a veteran commander who claims to lead 10,000 troops, said: "If the Americans attack then... Read More
Exploding shells twinkle over a hilltop in northern Afghanistan as opposition soldiers try to show that one day they will have the strength to overthrow the Taliban in Kabul. A line of soldiers advances on the enemy's position and flushes out a single prisoner. It was a perfectly efficient operation as a training exercise by... Read More
No Items Found
Patrick Cockburn
About Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.


Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr