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  • Tag - obama - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    post it here and I ve added a few clarifications of my own as my contribution to the campaign Friend If you didn t catch any of the President s speech in Osawatomie Kansas you should watch or read it now http my barackobama com Fair Shot6a President Obama laid out an approach to rebuilding the economy that will inform every discussion we have with undecided voters over the next year So we put together a highlight reel you can share with anyone you think needs to hear this message http my barackobama com Fair Shot6 This is a make or break moment for the middle class And we need to make sure that what is left of the middle class believes that we are acting in their interests Our country is still recovering from the greatest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression to which the Bush Jr administration with the President s approving vote contributed by giving trillions of dollars of your money to banks And when he took office the President put more or less the same people responsible for the financial crisis the beneficiaries of that unprecedented transfer of public funds to the private sector in charge of the Treasury Department Oh he believes that Americans should be able to earn enough to raise a family send their kids to school own a home and secure their retirement so long as in struggling harder and harder to achieve those things they continue to let the private sector drain off the products of their labor Here s how he put it This country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot when everyone does their fair share and when everyone plays by the same rules These aren t Democratic values or Republican values These aren t 1 percent values or 99 percent values They re American values And we have to reclaim them Those are the values we want you to believe we re fighting for in this election And believe me no matter who our opponent is he or she won t fight for them any more than we will the candidates from both sides want to let Wall Street write its own rules and keep the country s wealth the wealth all of you create by working and by spending concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite the millionaires and billionaires And as anyone who understands these things the way we do knows we must continue to concentrate that wealth That is simply how the system works We ve seen how that kind of economic plan plays out We Democrats have been part of the problem We ve participated in the plan all along We re just a bit more clever than the Republicans are at portraying ourselves as politicians who have the interests of working people at heart As President Obama said yesterday It doesn t work It has never worked It didn t work when it was tried in the decade before

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/tag/obama (2016-05-02)
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  • Concentration of wealth - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    seems inured to income inequality these takeaways are truly stunning In 2010 as the nation continued to recover from the recession a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year compared to 2009 288 billion went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers those with at least 352 000 in income That delivered an average single year pay increase of 11 6 percent to each of these households Still more astonishing was the extent to which the super rich got rich faster than the merely rich In 2010 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0 01 percent a teaspoon size collection of about 15 000 households with average incomes of 23 8 million These fortunate few saw their incomes rise by 21 5 percent The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic 80 increase in pay per person in 2010 after adjusting for inflation The top 1 percent whose average income is 1 019 089 had an 11 6 percent increase in income http www nytimes com 2012 03 26 opinion the rich get even richer html The pay of CEOs as a multiple of the average worker s pay went

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/pages/Concentration-of-wealth (2016-05-02)
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  • Legal Notice - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    Get blog editor information provided by Gandi WHOIS for domain reconstructno org Blog host The service provider for this blog is Gandi Gandi Legal Notice Notify the host of abuse content or copyright infringement Please send a mail to abuse

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/legalnotice (2016-05-02)
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  • Tag - Israel - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    defence not aggression against occupation oppression colonialism and imperialism Second culprit Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak The Israeli prime minister and defence minister have taken a direct and personal hand above and beyond Israel s wider role in enforcing the occupation in escalating the violence Israel and its supporters always make it their first priority when Israel launches a new war of aggression to obscure the timeline of events as a way to cloud responsibility The media willingly regurgitates such efforts at misdirection In reality Israel engineered a confrontation to provide the pretext for a retaliatory attack just as it did four years earlier in Operation Cast Lead Then Israel broke a six month ceasefire agreed with Hamas by staging a raid into Gaza that killed six Hamas members This time on 8 November Israel achieved the same end by invading Gaza again on this occasion following a two week lull in tensions A 13 year old boy out playing football was killed by an Israeli bullet Tit for tat violence over the following days resulted in the injury of eight Israelis including four soldiers and the deaths of five Palestinian civilians and the wounding of dozens more in Gaza On November 12 as part of efforts to calm things down the Palestinian militant factions agreed a truce that held two days until Israel broke it by assassinating Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari The rockets out of Gaza that followed these various Israeli provocations have been misrepresented as the casus belli But if Netanyahu and Barak are responsible for creating the immediate pretext for an attack on Gaza they are also criminally negligent for failing to pursue an opportunity to secure a much longer truce with Hamas We now know thanks to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin that in the period leading up to Jabari s execution Egypt had been working to secure a long term truce between Israel and Hamas Jabari was apparently eager to agree to it Baskin who was intimately involved in the talks was a credible conduit between Israel and Hamas because he had played a key role last year in getting Jabari to sign off on a prisoner exchange that led to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit Baskin noted in the Haaretz newspaper that Jabari s assassination killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators ability to function The peace activist had already met Barak to alert him to the truce but it seems the defence minister and Netanyahu had more pressing concerns than ending the tensions between Israel and Hamas What could have been more important than finding a mechanism for saving lives on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides Baskin offers a clue Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters but to my regret they will get more votes because of this It seems Israel s general election due in January was uppermost in the minds of Netanyahu and Barak A lesson learnt

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/tag/Israel (2016-05-02)
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  • Tag - Palestine - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    defence not aggression against occupation oppression colonialism and imperialism Second culprit Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak The Israeli prime minister and defence minister have taken a direct and personal hand above and beyond Israel s wider role in enforcing the occupation in escalating the violence Israel and its supporters always make it their first priority when Israel launches a new war of aggression to obscure the timeline of events as a way to cloud responsibility The media willingly regurgitates such efforts at misdirection In reality Israel engineered a confrontation to provide the pretext for a retaliatory attack just as it did four years earlier in Operation Cast Lead Then Israel broke a six month ceasefire agreed with Hamas by staging a raid into Gaza that killed six Hamas members This time on 8 November Israel achieved the same end by invading Gaza again on this occasion following a two week lull in tensions A 13 year old boy out playing football was killed by an Israeli bullet Tit for tat violence over the following days resulted in the injury of eight Israelis including four soldiers and the deaths of five Palestinian civilians and the wounding of dozens more in Gaza On November 12 as part of efforts to calm things down the Palestinian militant factions agreed a truce that held two days until Israel broke it by assassinating Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari The rockets out of Gaza that followed these various Israeli provocations have been misrepresented as the casus belli But if Netanyahu and Barak are responsible for creating the immediate pretext for an attack on Gaza they are also criminally negligent for failing to pursue an opportunity to secure a much longer truce with Hamas We now know thanks to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin that in the period leading up to Jabari s execution Egypt had been working to secure a long term truce between Israel and Hamas Jabari was apparently eager to agree to it Baskin who was intimately involved in the talks was a credible conduit between Israel and Hamas because he had played a key role last year in getting Jabari to sign off on a prisoner exchange that led to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit Baskin noted in the Haaretz newspaper that Jabari s assassination killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators ability to function The peace activist had already met Barak to alert him to the truce but it seems the defence minister and Netanyahu had more pressing concerns than ending the tensions between Israel and Hamas What could have been more important than finding a mechanism for saving lives on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides Baskin offers a clue Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters but to my regret they will get more votes because of this It seems Israel s general election due in January was uppermost in the minds of Netanyahu and Barak A lesson learnt

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/tag/Palestine (2016-05-02)
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  • Tag - atrocities - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    John Henry Browne announced he will represent the soldier Browne s past clients include serial burglar Colton Harris Moore and serial killer Ted Bundy At a news conference in Seattle Browne said the soldier s family was shocked at what happened JOHN HENRY BROWNE He was told that he was not going to be redeployed And they were the family was counting on him not being redeployed And so he and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over And then literally overnight that changed So I think that it would be fair to say that he and the family were not happy that he was going back Oh they were totally shocked He s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims He s never said anything antagonistic about Middle Eastern individuals He s in general been very mild mannered So they were very shocked by this Yet somehow the fact that the lawyer who is to defend Bales was also the defender of serial murderer Ted Bundy suggests that a temporary insanity plea is being envisaged Now Goodman introduces Shea and provides background on Shea s recent article in American Scholar AMY GOODMAN We re joined now by journalist Neil Shea He s joining us from Raleigh North Carolina has reported on Afghanistan for many years for Stars and Stripes the military newspaper and The Christian Science Monitor among others His latest article in The American Scholar is called Afghanistan A Gathering Menace Traveling with U S Troops Gives Insights into the Recent Massacre We welcome you Neil to Democracy Now Yours is an extremely disturbing article Tell us what you have found Just walk us through the descriptions you share in your piece NEIL SHEA Well good morning Amy and Juan I found that during one of my last trips to Afghanistan I met up with a group of soldiers who were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous about what I was going to see while I was with them And I spent a few days with them and came to just really understand that they had gotten to the edge of violence as we understand it in Afghanistan and they seemed ready and capable of doing some pretty bad things I didn t actually witness them do anything too terrible but the way that they talked and the way that they acted toward Afghan civilians and animals and property in the country was sort of stunning to me And that s what I describe in the article It s talking about these this group of soldiers and sort of their mental state during a multi day mission in a central part of Afghanistan that was supposed to be a Taliban stronghold Many of these guys seemed like they had reached the end of their rope in terms of stability and controlling their aggression Now if one reads the article in question I think it s fair to say that nowhere in it does anything Shea reports about their speech and behavior imply that the men he encountered have been pushed to the edge of violence What emerges about them is rather that their overall attitude toward the lives and property of Afghans and the dignity of Afghan women is one of extreme callousness Shea allows for the possibility that their talk can be discounted as the equivalent of locker room braggadocio but adds that In speech we give ideas life Several of them joke about killing their ex wife or ex girlfriend once back in the States One states that the only thing that kept him from killing a prisoner was the fear of a prison sentence Yet Shea writes I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes and makes a point of saying that the men of what he calls Destroyer platoon were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous It is as if he sees the generalized callousness and amorality he witnessed as evidence of a deteriorated state of mind brought on by the stress of war or by faulty command Bales s camp Joint Base Lewis McChord is allegedly dysfunctional rather than an unavoidable reaction to taking part in a war that is itself dysfunctional and the product of a dysfunctional foreign policy Juan Gonzalez pursues this in his next question and Shea answers by citing further examples JUAN GONZALEZ Well Neil what I found amazing about your story is as you say you focus not on any high profile event that might be considered something illegal done by the troops or a war crime but on the everyday occurrences that created greater and greater distance between this particular group of U S soldiers and the civilian population At one point you write Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small unchallenged wrongs Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time Can you talk about some of those incidents that you witnessed that were part of this buildup of the psychological perspective viewpoint of these men NEIL SHEA Sure Juan In some ways this article was a culmination of things that I ve seen since 2006 when I first started covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan And during those years I ve seen soldiers and marines sort of build up through these cycles of aggression to the point where they start doing they begin with small things They ll insult Iraqis or Afghans behind their backs and that s sort of the very mild beginning of it And then they sort of move up the chain if we can call it that into more serious acts of aggression where they ll kill animals or they ll beat somebody or treat them roughly and it sort of builds up from there and leads up to a revealing point What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans they hated the country and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that s a crucial part of the mission In other words the hearts and minds stuff is a crucial part of the mission the very phrase Shea uses seems to belie that but our troops in Afghanistan are not interested in doing it because they are overworked and suffering from stress due to multiple missions possibly the fault of dysfunctional command The solution would seem to be clear simply provide more troops give them the means to fight under better more human conditions by providing recreational facilities and female companionship perhaps Nowhere is there the suggestion that the fundamental reasons for the presence of these troops in Afghanistan may be wrong that the hearts and minds stuff is not some optional aspect of the troops mission however crucial that occupying a country militarily is simply not the way to win its people s hearts and minds So by the time I reached these guys they had already been sort of they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years And when I saw them they had just shot a dog that had been a pet in an Afghan home that they had confiscated during the mission and they treated Afghan civilians fairly roughly and they took a few prisoners and treated them very roughly as well Nothing that would rise to necessarily the sort of a crime at that time but the way that they talked about things and the way that they sort of handled themselves was really aggressive And it was only it seemed to me only to be barely kept in check So it s just this small when we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don t really have a clear purpose over years and years I write in the article that we begin we expect light switch control over their aggression We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years that light switch control begins to fray And that s what I believe I was seeing with these guys in Afghanistan Shea seems to miss an essential point These wars do have a clear purpose That purpose is neocolonial domination by a military machine But that purpose cannot be admitted And so the endless cycle of massacres of civilians and plausible denials continues Here we have not the usual bad apple if the pattern is followed it will surely be admitted that more than one individual took part in the massacre but one barrel of rotten apples in the huge storehouse that is the US NATO military machine whose overall purpose while at times not clear must surely be benevolent JUAN GONZALEZ You also mention something that I don t think many Americans here realize that when these platoons go out especially on multi day patrols that they often just take over the homes of Afghans evict them and give them a few dollars and basically order them out of their homes and take them over for their own for their own refuge And this creates you quote one soldier saying Well we helped create more Taliban today because of the soldiers themselves recognizing that their actions were creating enormous hostility in the population NEIL SHEA Right This is this was a fairly standard practice in Afghanistan and even in Iraq When platoons were moving out through really rural areas or even some urban areas they needed a place to bed down for the night They d try to find either an abandoned house or if they couldn t find an abandoned one they would move into a place that was relatively secure and they d sort of kick the family out and try to pay them for their trouble In this particular case I was told that the Afghans didn t take the money from the American troops because they didn t want anyone in the region to think that they were siding with the Americans They were afraid that by taking the money they d be seen as American sort of collaborators and perhaps killed later But the point I was trying to make when I talked about when I quoted that soldier as saying that they were on a Taliban recruiting drive he was actually talking about the fact that they had they had treated the Afghans so badly during the mission that the Afghans were going to obviously choose the side of the Taliban because now they hated the Afghan army and they hated the Americans So the brutal treatment that the Americans had sort of pushed upon them drove these civilians into the arms of the Taliban And that s what that particular soldier was talking about And American soldiers all across Afghanistan run into that problem just as they did in Iraq where they have a job to do but sometimes they have to do it so roughly that the civilian population actually turns against them And so that s what that was about Amy Goodman then quotes one of the soldiers Shea encountered and whom he focuses on in the American Scholar article AMY GOODMAN Neil Shea you quote an American Army sergeant who said to you This is where I come to do f up things But she fails to quote him fully The actual quote is This is where I come to do fucked up things Givens said So I don t do them at home What this seems to imply is that the US military rather than employing wholesome red blooded American young men and women is reduced to using social misfits who might very well eventually erupt into mass murder in the US This would seem to imply that if indeed there is a benevolent mission the military is having a very hard time convincing young Americans that it is worth signing onto even with the added inducement of employment in a time of economic crisis at home But Goodman seems to miss the fact that the soldier is showing a certain lucidity not about his own sociopathy but about the attitude of a military who he at least seem to perceive as no longer even trying to convince anyone of the benevolence of the mission This same sergeant is the one who is quoted in Shea s article as saying Yeah we definitely made some Taliban out here It was like a week long Taliban recruiting drive And we had fun doing it I love recruiting for the Taliban It s called job security This demonstrates a lucidity that is not in line with Shea s overall portrayal of these men as being at the brink of elemental savagery This man seems to be more lucid at any rate about the real purpose of his presence in Afghanistan than Shea is Shea sees the problem as a lack of clarity about the mission This soldier sees that in fact there is no mission no mission that is other than to justify the presence of US NATO troops in Afghanistan and by extension the US NATO presence around the globe Goodman continues And I wanted to ask you about this report we can t confirm that says Up to 20 U S Troops Executed Panjwai Massacre Probe by Bashir Ahmad Naadimon And it s from Kandahar city PAN It says A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province Now all the information that we are getting about what took place is from the military you know who this man is the number of tours of duty he had three in Iraq one in Afghanistan that he had a TBI a traumatic brain injury in a rollover in Iraq and now he s been taken out so we don t have any access to him So that s what the U S is saying And the New York Times spoke to family members of some of the people who were killed so we know what happened to some of the people killed But what about this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan Do you find it credible the idea that it was more than one person who did the killing Notice that although Goodman identifies the source of the allegation that up to 20 troops were involved as coming from an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature the Wolesi Jirga or House of the People she ends by referring to the source as this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan Are we to assume that there is a better way to get to the truth than to move in quickly and perform an investigation on the ground before the trails are cold despite the fact that the alleged lone killer has been removed from any possibility of being interviewed and that the Afghan legislature is not the competent body to conduct that investigation And notice that Goodman rather than asking whether Shea disagrees that an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature is at least as believable as the official line of the US military given its history of systematic coverups of such incidents beginning with My Lai and on up to the present asks whether Shea feels that this kind of story is credible NEIL SHEA At this point I don t really think that it s credible While it still is possible that it was more than just this one soldier who were involved in it I think that the idea that it was 20 soldiers from one particular unit going into a village to just sort of slaughter people that actually sounds very far off base to me And I do know that in Afghan culture at least from my observations rumors travel very quickly and they take on their sort of they gather facts as they go in sort of like a game of telephone So I wouldn t be surprised if this story was sort of exaggerated and built up by this point It would really shock me if it was an organized effort by a group of 20 U S soldiers because well for the simple reasons that it would be difficult for to keep a heinous crime like that so quiet Even though the U S military is sometimes good at keeping things quiet that would be almost too big for them to squash So having been prompted to doubt the credibility of the Afghan legislative investigation Shea further undermines that credibility by pointing to an aspect of Afghan culture we viewers may not know about that rumors travel very quickly and gather facts as they go The inherent racism and colonial attitude of such a statement is rather startling On the grounds that rumors are an inherent part of their culture we are being asked to believe that a group of Afghans not ignorant villagers but members of the country s national legislature trying to find out who actually killed 16 of their people is less believable than the colonial power that is occupying their country and that time and time again has been guilty of murdering innocent civilians That the on the ground testimony of eyewitnesses gathered by professional investigators and reported by an international news organization is somehow less believable than the official line of the US military which time and time again has covered up

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/tag/atrocities (2016-05-02)
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  • Tag - Kandahar - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    him would help ensure a proper investigation and trial but because there was no appropriate detention facility to hold him in Afghanistan What follows tell us that Bales s attorney implies that his family feels that the massacre which we are being led to believe was the work of a single individual who snapped was caused at least in part by his dissatisfaction with an overloaded and dysfunctional US military command Yesterday prominent Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne announced he will represent the soldier Browne s past clients include serial burglar Colton Harris Moore and serial killer Ted Bundy At a news conference in Seattle Browne said the soldier s family was shocked at what happened JOHN HENRY BROWNE He was told that he was not going to be redeployed And they were the family was counting on him not being redeployed And so he and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over And then literally overnight that changed So I think that it would be fair to say that he and the family were not happy that he was going back Oh they were totally shocked He s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims He s never said anything antagonistic about Middle Eastern individuals He s in general been very mild mannered So they were very shocked by this Yet somehow the fact that the lawyer who is to defend Bales was also the defender of serial murderer Ted Bundy suggests that a temporary insanity plea is being envisaged Now Goodman introduces Shea and provides background on Shea s recent article in American Scholar AMY GOODMAN We re joined now by journalist Neil Shea He s joining us from Raleigh North Carolina has reported on Afghanistan for many years for Stars and Stripes the military newspaper and The Christian Science Monitor among others His latest article in The American Scholar is called Afghanistan A Gathering Menace Traveling with U S Troops Gives Insights into the Recent Massacre We welcome you Neil to Democracy Now Yours is an extremely disturbing article Tell us what you have found Just walk us through the descriptions you share in your piece NEIL SHEA Well good morning Amy and Juan I found that during one of my last trips to Afghanistan I met up with a group of soldiers who were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous about what I was going to see while I was with them And I spent a few days with them and came to just really understand that they had gotten to the edge of violence as we understand it in Afghanistan and they seemed ready and capable of doing some pretty bad things I didn t actually witness them do anything too terrible but the way that they talked and the way that they acted toward Afghan civilians and animals and property in the country was sort of stunning to me And that s what I describe in the article It s talking about these this group of soldiers and sort of their mental state during a multi day mission in a central part of Afghanistan that was supposed to be a Taliban stronghold Many of these guys seemed like they had reached the end of their rope in terms of stability and controlling their aggression Now if one reads the article in question I think it s fair to say that nowhere in it does anything Shea reports about their speech and behavior imply that the men he encountered have been pushed to the edge of violence What emerges about them is rather that their overall attitude toward the lives and property of Afghans and the dignity of Afghan women is one of extreme callousness Shea allows for the possibility that their talk can be discounted as the equivalent of locker room braggadocio but adds that In speech we give ideas life Several of them joke about killing their ex wife or ex girlfriend once back in the States One states that the only thing that kept him from killing a prisoner was the fear of a prison sentence Yet Shea writes I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes and makes a point of saying that the men of what he calls Destroyer platoon were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous It is as if he sees the generalized callousness and amorality he witnessed as evidence of a deteriorated state of mind brought on by the stress of war or by faulty command Bales s camp Joint Base Lewis McChord is allegedly dysfunctional rather than an unavoidable reaction to taking part in a war that is itself dysfunctional and the product of a dysfunctional foreign policy Juan Gonzalez pursues this in his next question and Shea answers by citing further examples JUAN GONZALEZ Well Neil what I found amazing about your story is as you say you focus not on any high profile event that might be considered something illegal done by the troops or a war crime but on the everyday occurrences that created greater and greater distance between this particular group of U S soldiers and the civilian population At one point you write Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small unchallenged wrongs Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time Can you talk about some of those incidents that you witnessed that were part of this buildup of the psychological perspective viewpoint of these men NEIL SHEA Sure Juan In some ways this article was a culmination of things that I ve seen since 2006 when I first started covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan And during those years I ve seen soldiers and marines sort of build up through these cycles of aggression to the point where they start doing they begin with small things They ll insult Iraqis or Afghans behind their backs and that s sort of the very mild beginning of it And then they sort of move up the chain if we can call it that into more serious acts of aggression where they ll kill animals or they ll beat somebody or treat them roughly and it sort of builds up from there and leads up to a revealing point What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans they hated the country and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that s a crucial part of the mission In other words the hearts and minds stuff is a crucial part of the mission the very phrase Shea uses seems to belie that but our troops in Afghanistan are not interested in doing it because they are overworked and suffering from stress due to multiple missions possibly the fault of dysfunctional command The solution would seem to be clear simply provide more troops give them the means to fight under better more human conditions by providing recreational facilities and female companionship perhaps Nowhere is there the suggestion that the fundamental reasons for the presence of these troops in Afghanistan may be wrong that the hearts and minds stuff is not some optional aspect of the troops mission however crucial that occupying a country militarily is simply not the way to win its people s hearts and minds So by the time I reached these guys they had already been sort of they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years And when I saw them they had just shot a dog that had been a pet in an Afghan home that they had confiscated during the mission and they treated Afghan civilians fairly roughly and they took a few prisoners and treated them very roughly as well Nothing that would rise to necessarily the sort of a crime at that time but the way that they talked about things and the way that they sort of handled themselves was really aggressive And it was only it seemed to me only to be barely kept in check So it s just this small when we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don t really have a clear purpose over years and years I write in the article that we begin we expect light switch control over their aggression We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years that light switch control begins to fray And that s what I believe I was seeing with these guys in Afghanistan Shea seems to miss an essential point These wars do have a clear purpose That purpose is neocolonial domination by a military machine But that purpose cannot be admitted And so the endless cycle of massacres of civilians and plausible denials continues Here we have not the usual bad apple if the pattern is followed it will surely be admitted that more than one individual took part in the massacre but one barrel of rotten apples in the huge storehouse that is the US NATO military machine whose overall purpose while at times not clear must surely be benevolent JUAN GONZALEZ You also mention something that I don t think many Americans here realize that when these platoons go out especially on multi day patrols that they often just take over the homes of Afghans evict them and give them a few dollars and basically order them out of their homes and take them over for their own for their own refuge And this creates you quote one soldier saying Well we helped create more Taliban today because of the soldiers themselves recognizing that their actions were creating enormous hostility in the population NEIL SHEA Right This is this was a fairly standard practice in Afghanistan and even in Iraq When platoons were moving out through really rural areas or even some urban areas they needed a place to bed down for the night They d try to find either an abandoned house or if they couldn t find an abandoned one they would move into a place that was relatively secure and they d sort of kick the family out and try to pay them for their trouble In this particular case I was told that the Afghans didn t take the money from the American troops because they didn t want anyone in the region to think that they were siding with the Americans They were afraid that by taking the money they d be seen as American sort of collaborators and perhaps killed later But the point I was trying to make when I talked about when I quoted that soldier as saying that they were on a Taliban recruiting drive he was actually talking about the fact that they had they had treated the Afghans so badly during the mission that the Afghans were going to obviously choose the side of the Taliban because now they hated the Afghan army and they hated the Americans So the brutal treatment that the Americans had sort of pushed upon them drove these civilians into the arms of the Taliban And that s what that particular soldier was talking about And American soldiers all across Afghanistan run into that problem just as they did in Iraq where they have a job to do but sometimes they have to do it so roughly that the civilian population actually turns against them And so that s what that was about Amy Goodman then quotes one of the soldiers Shea encountered and whom he focuses on in the American Scholar article AMY GOODMAN Neil Shea you quote an American Army sergeant who said to you This is where I come to do f up things But she fails to quote him fully The actual quote is This is where I come to do fucked up things Givens said So I don t do them at home What this seems to imply is that the US military rather than employing wholesome red blooded American young men and women is reduced to using social misfits who might very well eventually erupt into mass murder in the US This would seem to imply that if indeed there is a benevolent mission the military is having a very hard time convincing young Americans that it is worth signing onto even with the added inducement of employment in a time of economic crisis at home But Goodman seems to miss the fact that the soldier is showing a certain lucidity not about his own sociopathy but about the attitude of a military who he at least seem to perceive as no longer even trying to convince anyone of the benevolence of the mission This same sergeant is the one who is quoted in Shea s article as saying Yeah we definitely made some Taliban out here It was like a week long Taliban recruiting drive And we had fun doing it I love recruiting for the Taliban It s called job security This demonstrates a lucidity that is not in line with Shea s overall portrayal of these men as being at the brink of elemental savagery This man seems to be more lucid at any rate about the real purpose of his presence in Afghanistan than Shea is Shea sees the problem as a lack of clarity about the mission This soldier sees that in fact there is no mission no mission that is other than to justify the presence of US NATO troops in Afghanistan and by extension the US NATO presence around the globe Goodman continues And I wanted to ask you about this report we can t confirm that says Up to 20 U S Troops Executed Panjwai Massacre Probe by Bashir Ahmad Naadimon And it s from Kandahar city PAN It says A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province Now all the information that we are getting about what took place is from the military you know who this man is the number of tours of duty he had three in Iraq one in Afghanistan that he had a TBI a traumatic brain injury in a rollover in Iraq and now he s been taken out so we don t have any access to him So that s what the U S is saying And the New York Times spoke to family members of some of the people who were killed so we know what happened to some of the people killed But what about this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan Do you find it credible the idea that it was more than one person who did the killing Notice that although Goodman identifies the source of the allegation that up to 20 troops were involved as coming from an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature the Wolesi Jirga or House of the People she ends by referring to the source as this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan Are we to assume that there is a better way to get to the truth than to move in quickly and perform an investigation on the ground before the trails are cold despite the fact that the alleged lone killer has been removed from any possibility of being interviewed and that the Afghan legislature is not the competent body to conduct that investigation And notice that Goodman rather than asking whether Shea disagrees that an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature is at least as believable as the official line of the US military given its history of systematic coverups of such incidents beginning with My Lai and on up to the present asks whether Shea feels that this kind of story is credible NEIL SHEA At this point I don t really think that it s credible While it still is possible that it was more than just this one soldier who were involved in it I think that the idea that it was 20 soldiers from one particular unit going into a village to just sort of slaughter people that actually sounds very far off base to me And I do know that in Afghan culture at least from my observations rumors travel very quickly and they take on their sort of they gather facts as they go in sort of like a game of telephone So I wouldn t be surprised if this story was sort of exaggerated and built up by this point It would really shock me if it was an organized effort by a group of 20 U S soldiers because well for the simple reasons that it would be difficult for to keep a heinous crime like that so quiet Even though the U S military is sometimes good at keeping things quiet that would be almost too big for them to squash So having been prompted to doubt the credibility of the Afghan legislative investigation Shea further undermines that credibility by pointing to an aspect of Afghan culture we viewers may not know about that rumors travel very quickly and gather facts as they go The inherent racism and colonial attitude of such a statement is rather startling On the grounds that rumors are an inherent part of their culture we are being asked to believe that a group of Afghans not ignorant villagers but members of the country s national

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/tag/Kandahar (2016-05-02)
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  • Tag - My Lai - it-just-keeps-getting-better
    him would help ensure a proper investigation and trial but because there was no appropriate detention facility to hold him in Afghanistan What follows tell us that Bales s attorney implies that his family feels that the massacre which we are being led to believe was the work of a single individual who snapped was caused at least in part by his dissatisfaction with an overloaded and dysfunctional US military command Yesterday prominent Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne announced he will represent the soldier Browne s past clients include serial burglar Colton Harris Moore and serial killer Ted Bundy At a news conference in Seattle Browne said the soldier s family was shocked at what happened JOHN HENRY BROWNE He was told that he was not going to be redeployed And they were the family was counting on him not being redeployed And so he and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over And then literally overnight that changed So I think that it would be fair to say that he and the family were not happy that he was going back Oh they were totally shocked He s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims He s never said anything antagonistic about Middle Eastern individuals He s in general been very mild mannered So they were very shocked by this Yet somehow the fact that the lawyer who is to defend Bales was also the defender of serial murderer Ted Bundy suggests that a temporary insanity plea is being envisaged Now Goodman introduces Shea and provides background on Shea s recent article in American Scholar AMY GOODMAN We re joined now by journalist Neil Shea He s joining us from Raleigh North Carolina has reported on Afghanistan for many years for Stars and Stripes the military newspaper and The Christian Science Monitor among others His latest article in The American Scholar is called Afghanistan A Gathering Menace Traveling with U S Troops Gives Insights into the Recent Massacre We welcome you Neil to Democracy Now Yours is an extremely disturbing article Tell us what you have found Just walk us through the descriptions you share in your piece NEIL SHEA Well good morning Amy and Juan I found that during one of my last trips to Afghanistan I met up with a group of soldiers who were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous about what I was going to see while I was with them And I spent a few days with them and came to just really understand that they had gotten to the edge of violence as we understand it in Afghanistan and they seemed ready and capable of doing some pretty bad things I didn t actually witness them do anything too terrible but the way that they talked and the way that they acted toward Afghan civilians and animals and property in the country was sort of stunning to me And that s what I describe in the article It s talking about these this group of soldiers and sort of their mental state during a multi day mission in a central part of Afghanistan that was supposed to be a Taliban stronghold Many of these guys seemed like they had reached the end of their rope in terms of stability and controlling their aggression Now if one reads the article in question I think it s fair to say that nowhere in it does anything Shea reports about their speech and behavior imply that the men he encountered have been pushed to the edge of violence What emerges about them is rather that their overall attitude toward the lives and property of Afghans and the dignity of Afghan women is one of extreme callousness Shea allows for the possibility that their talk can be discounted as the equivalent of locker room braggadocio but adds that In speech we give ideas life Several of them joke about killing their ex wife or ex girlfriend once back in the States One states that the only thing that kept him from killing a prisoner was the fear of a prison sentence Yet Shea writes I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes and makes a point of saying that the men of what he calls Destroyer platoon were the first I had ever come across who made me feel pretty nervous It is as if he sees the generalized callousness and amorality he witnessed as evidence of a deteriorated state of mind brought on by the stress of war or by faulty command Bales s camp Joint Base Lewis McChord is allegedly dysfunctional rather than an unavoidable reaction to taking part in a war that is itself dysfunctional and the product of a dysfunctional foreign policy Juan Gonzalez pursues this in his next question and Shea answers by citing further examples JUAN GONZALEZ Well Neil what I found amazing about your story is as you say you focus not on any high profile event that might be considered something illegal done by the troops or a war crime but on the everyday occurrences that created greater and greater distance between this particular group of U S soldiers and the civilian population At one point you write Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small unchallenged wrongs Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time Can you talk about some of those incidents that you witnessed that were part of this buildup of the psychological perspective viewpoint of these men NEIL SHEA Sure Juan In some ways this article was a culmination of things that I ve seen since 2006 when I first started covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan And during those years I ve seen soldiers and marines sort of build up through these cycles of aggression to the point where they start doing they begin with small things They ll insult Iraqis or Afghans behind their backs and that s sort of the very mild beginning of it And then they sort of move up the chain if we can call it that into more serious acts of aggression where they ll kill animals or they ll beat somebody or treat them roughly and it sort of builds up from there and leads up to a revealing point What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans they hated the country and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that s a crucial part of the mission In other words the hearts and minds stuff is a crucial part of the mission the very phrase Shea uses seems to belie that but our troops in Afghanistan are not interested in doing it because they are overworked and suffering from stress due to multiple missions possibly the fault of dysfunctional command The solution would seem to be clear simply provide more troops give them the means to fight under better more human conditions by providing recreational facilities and female companionship perhaps Nowhere is there the suggestion that the fundamental reasons for the presence of these troops in Afghanistan may be wrong that the hearts and minds stuff is not some optional aspect of the troops mission however crucial that occupying a country militarily is simply not the way to win its people s hearts and minds So by the time I reached these guys they had already been sort of they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years And when I saw them they had just shot a dog that had been a pet in an Afghan home that they had confiscated during the mission and they treated Afghan civilians fairly roughly and they took a few prisoners and treated them very roughly as well Nothing that would rise to necessarily the sort of a crime at that time but the way that they talked about things and the way that they sort of handled themselves was really aggressive And it was only it seemed to me only to be barely kept in check So it s just this small when we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don t really have a clear purpose over years and years I write in the article that we begin we expect light switch control over their aggression We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years that light switch control begins to fray And that s what I believe I was seeing with these guys in Afghanistan Shea seems to miss an essential point These wars do have a clear purpose That purpose is neocolonial domination by a military machine But that purpose cannot be admitted And so the endless cycle of massacres of civilians and plausible denials continues Here we have not the usual bad apple if the pattern is followed it will surely be admitted that more than one individual took part in the massacre but one barrel of rotten apples in the huge storehouse that is the US NATO military machine whose overall purpose while at times not clear must surely be benevolent JUAN GONZALEZ You also mention something that I don t think many Americans here realize that when these platoons go out especially on multi day patrols that they often just take over the homes of Afghans evict them and give them a few dollars and basically order them out of their homes and take them over for their own for their own refuge And this creates you quote one soldier saying Well we helped create more Taliban today because of the soldiers themselves recognizing that their actions were creating enormous hostility in the population NEIL SHEA Right This is this was a fairly standard practice in Afghanistan and even in Iraq When platoons were moving out through really rural areas or even some urban areas they needed a place to bed down for the night They d try to find either an abandoned house or if they couldn t find an abandoned one they would move into a place that was relatively secure and they d sort of kick the family out and try to pay them for their trouble In this particular case I was told that the Afghans didn t take the money from the American troops because they didn t want anyone in the region to think that they were siding with the Americans They were afraid that by taking the money they d be seen as American sort of collaborators and perhaps killed later But the point I was trying to make when I talked about when I quoted that soldier as saying that they were on a Taliban recruiting drive he was actually talking about the fact that they had they had treated the Afghans so badly during the mission that the Afghans were going to obviously choose the side of the Taliban because now they hated the Afghan army and they hated the Americans So the brutal treatment that the Americans had sort of pushed upon them drove these civilians into the arms of the Taliban And that s what that particular soldier was talking about And American soldiers all across Afghanistan run into that problem just as they did in Iraq where they have a job to do but sometimes they have to do it so roughly that the civilian population actually turns against them And so that s what that was about Amy Goodman then quotes one of the soldiers Shea encountered and whom he focuses on in the American Scholar article AMY GOODMAN Neil Shea you quote an American Army sergeant who said to you This is where I come to do f up things But she fails to quote him fully The actual quote is This is where I come to do fucked up things Givens said So I don t do them at home What this seems to imply is that the US military rather than employing wholesome red blooded American young men and women is reduced to using social misfits who might very well eventually erupt into mass murder in the US This would seem to imply that if indeed there is a benevolent mission the military is having a very hard time convincing young Americans that it is worth signing onto even with the added inducement of employment in a time of economic crisis at home But Goodman seems to miss the fact that the soldier is showing a certain lucidity not about his own sociopathy but about the attitude of a military who he at least seem to perceive as no longer even trying to convince anyone of the benevolence of the mission This same sergeant is the one who is quoted in Shea s article as saying Yeah we definitely made some Taliban out here It was like a week long Taliban recruiting drive And we had fun doing it I love recruiting for the Taliban It s called job security This demonstrates a lucidity that is not in line with Shea s overall portrayal of these men as being at the brink of elemental savagery This man seems to be more lucid at any rate about the real purpose of his presence in Afghanistan than Shea is Shea sees the problem as a lack of clarity about the mission This soldier sees that in fact there is no mission no mission that is other than to justify the presence of US NATO troops in Afghanistan and by extension the US NATO presence around the globe Goodman continues And I wanted to ask you about this report we can t confirm that says Up to 20 U S Troops Executed Panjwai Massacre Probe by Bashir Ahmad Naadimon And it s from Kandahar city PAN It says A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province Now all the information that we are getting about what took place is from the military you know who this man is the number of tours of duty he had three in Iraq one in Afghanistan that he had a TBI a traumatic brain injury in a rollover in Iraq and now he s been taken out so we don t have any access to him So that s what the U S is saying And the New York Times spoke to family members of some of the people who were killed so we know what happened to some of the people killed But what about this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan Do you find it credible the idea that it was more than one person who did the killing Notice that although Goodman identifies the source of the allegation that up to 20 troops were involved as coming from an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature the Wolesi Jirga or House of the People she ends by referring to the source as this kind of story that is going around in Afghanistan Are we to assume that there is a better way to get to the truth than to move in quickly and perform an investigation on the ground before the trails are cold despite the fact that the alleged lone killer has been removed from any possibility of being interviewed and that the Afghan legislature is not the competent body to conduct that investigation And notice that Goodman rather than asking whether Shea disagrees that an investigative team sent in by the Afghan legislature is at least as believable as the official line of the US military given its history of systematic coverups of such incidents beginning with My Lai and on up to the present asks whether Shea feels that this kind of story is credible NEIL SHEA At this point I don t really think that it s credible While it still is possible that it was more than just this one soldier who were involved in it I think that the idea that it was 20 soldiers from one particular unit going into a village to just sort of slaughter people that actually sounds very far off base to me And I do know that in Afghan culture at least from my observations rumors travel very quickly and they take on their sort of they gather facts as they go in sort of like a game of telephone So I wouldn t be surprised if this story was sort of exaggerated and built up by this point It would really shock me if it was an organized effort by a group of 20 U S soldiers because well for the simple reasons that it would be difficult for to keep a heinous crime like that so quiet Even though the U S military is sometimes good at keeping things quiet that would be almost too big for them to squash So having been prompted to doubt the credibility of the Afghan legislative investigation Shea further undermines that credibility by pointing to an aspect of Afghan culture we viewers may not know about that rumors travel very quickly and gather facts as they go The inherent racism and colonial attitude of such a statement is rather startling On the grounds that rumors are an inherent part of their culture we are being asked to believe that a group of Afghans not ignorant villagers but members of the country s national

    Original URL path: http://blog.reconstructno.org/tag/My%20Lai (2016-05-02)
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