Afghanistan: Civilians Caught in the Middle of US & Taliban

Afghanistan has become the Forgotten War on the screens of corporate media. Yet the US has 33,000 troops fighting there and NATO forces amount to 60,000 there altogether. {Sorry for the wrong numbers in the first draft.)

Barnett Rubin is live-blogging the renewed violence in Afghanistan from the ground in that country. Also don’t miss his other recent postings at our joint Global Affairs blog.

Here is some more recent news:

AP reports that “As of Friday, May 30, 2008, at least 436 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department.” This total includes those killed by non-hostile causes.

This spring has been the deadliest in Afghanistan since the insurgency began, according to NATO and the Pentagon. The surge in violence is threatening the government of President Hamid Karzai.

America’s NATO allies in Afghanistan are war-weary, and even Hamid Karzai is thinking about making a deal with the Taliban in a bid for social peace, according to Eureasianet.org.

British soldiers are leaving the service at an alarming rate, many citing the interminable struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are unpopular with the British public and apparently also with the officer corps (especially Iraq).

Bush still thinks he is refighting World War II.

AP says, “Afghanistan will ask

international donors next month for $4 billion to revive its agricultural sector, but it could be a hard sell with another massive crop of opium expected this year. Despite the sharply rising price of grain, foreign-funded efforts to promote legal alternatives to the narcotic have largely failed. Farmers still make much more from growing poppy, the raw material for heroin, which flourishes amid Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency and rampant lawlessness. Half of the country’s production comes from Helmand province, a stronghold of insurgents. Roughly one out of every seven farmers in this predominantly rural nation of 32 million people grow opium. Giving them alternatives is part of Afghanistan’s plan to invest $4 billion over the next five years in its outdated agricultural sector.”

Der Spiegel on why NATO troops cannot bring peace to Afghanistan.

Aljazeera International reports on Afghan civilians caught in the middle between US troops and the neo-Taliban in southern Afghanistan: