Monday, December 5, 2011

MIGRANT MOTHER




Migrant Mother
From shorpy.com


The Library of Congress caption for the above photograph reads: "Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California."
As era-defining photographs go, “Migrant Mother” pretty much takes the cake. For many, Florence Owens Thompson is the face of the Great Depression, thanks to legendary educated and apprenticed photojournalist Dorothea Lange. Lange captured the image while visiting a dusty California pea-pickers’ camp in February 1936, and in doing so, captured the resilience of a proud nation facing desperate times. Unbelievably, Thompson’s story is as compelling as her portrait. Just 32 years old when Lange approached her (”as if drawn by a magnet,” Lange said). Thompson was a mother of seven who’d lost her husband, Cleo, to tuberculosis. Stranded at a migratory labor farm in Nipomo, Calif. her family sustained themselves on birds killed by her kids and vegetables taken from a nearby field – as meager a living as any earned by the other 2,500 workers there. The photo’s impact was staggering. Reproduced in newspapers everywhere, Thompson’s haunted face triggered an immediate public outcry, quickly prompting politicos from the federal Resettlement Administration to send food and supplies. Sadly, however, Thompson and her family had already moved on, receiving nary a wedge of government cheese for their high-profile misery. In fact, no one knew the identity of the photographed woman until Thompson revealed herself years later in a 1976 newspaper article.
(Blog Penting Dede Wijaya at dedewijaya.wordpress.com)
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Migrant Mother – Florence Thompson at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"I left Oklahoma in 1925 and went to Oroville (California). That's where them three girls' dad (Cleo) died, in Oroville, 1931. And I was 28 years old (in 1931), and I had five kids and that one (the baby in this photo, Norma) was on the road. She never even saw her daddy. She was born after he died. It was very hard. And cheap. I picked cotton in Firebaugh, when that girl there was about two years old, I picked cotton in Firebaugh for 50-cents a hundred." Question: "A 'hundred' (meaning) weight?" "A hundred pounds." Question: "How much could you pick in a day, then?" "I generally picked around 450, 500. I didn't even weigh a hundred pounds. I lived down there in Shafter, and I'd leave home before daylight and come in after dark. We just existed! Anyway, we lived. We survived, let's put it that way. I walked from what they called a Hoover camp ground right there at the bridge (in Bakersfield), I walked from there to way down on First Street, and worked at a penny a dish down there for 50-cents a day and the leftovers. Yeah, they give me what was leftover to take home with me. Sometimes, I'd carry home two water buckets full. "Well, (in 1936) we started from L.A. to Watsonville. And the timing chain broke on my car. And I had a guy to pull into this pea camp in Nipomo. I started to cook dinner for my kids, and all the little kids around the camp came in. 'Can I have a bite? Can I have a bite?' And they were hungry, them people was. And I got my car fixed, and I was just getting ready to pull out when she (Dorothea Lange) come back and snapped my picture. "I come to this town (Modesto) in 1945. I transferred from Whittier State to Modesto. And when this hospital opened up out here, I went to work there. And the first eight years I lived in this town, I worked 16 hours out of 24. Eight-and-a-half years, seven days a week." Question: "Are you comfortable now?" "Yeah."


Migrant Mother
From picture-america.com


The above photograph is a little different from the original photograph due to the addition of color courtesy of the creators of picture-america.com. Look at the woman's face, you can tell that this woman has been through hard times.
(picture-america.com)
This is an excerpt from a February 1960 article from Popular Photography, in which Lange gives her account of the experience:
‘I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.’
(Annie explores the Arts at aeroland.wordpress.com)


Migrant Mother
Library of Congress Prints and Photo Div
 Washington, DC
From livinginstereo.com



Migrant Mother
Library of Congress Prints and Photo Div
Washington, DC
From livinginstereo.com



Migrant Mother
Library of Congress Prints and Photo Div
Washington, DC
From livinginstereo.com



Migrant Mother
Library of Congress Prints and Photo Div
Washington, DC
From livinginstereo.com



Migrant Mother
Library of Congress Prints and Photo Div
Washington, DC
From livinginstereo.com


The photo that Lange made of Florence Thompson’s haunted face, wearing a cloak of weariness and worry that offered no more protection from the camera lens than from the elements, staring with dignity while cuddling children who averted their faces, was entitled “Migrant Mother.” Sometimes referred to as “The Madonna of the Depression,” it became one of the most powerful and painful images of its era. As the epitome of Dorothea Lange’s penetrating, humane style, “Migrant Mother” was by far her most famous photo. Yet it tells us nothing like the “truth” of Florence Thompson’s life. In the other shots from the series Lange took that night, we see the environment in which it was taken: the pure squalor and filth of the camp, the full shabbiness of the lean-to tent, the utter lack of anything as tidy and green as the camp depicted in John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath. That doesn’t mean that Lange’s camera lied. She saw (or used) what was needed to make plain the dignity of the ravaged, not the fact of their misery. It’s only today, when the reroutings of American streets and highways have made the poor and their pain invisible to us that the mere facts of the matter have become crucial. The real point is that we know almost nothing about how Florence Thompson felt that evening, or in the months and years afterwards when her face became famous.
(LIVING IN STEREO at livinginstereo.com)
Other Dust Bowl Descent Interviews:
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Darrel Coble and Lois Houleat livinghistoryfarm.org:
(Darrel Coble:) "The wind and the dust just blew every day. The one that I remember come in here from the north that evening. Dad was in the field, and I don't know why as dry as it was. This thing (dust storm) rolled in there, and he got caught on the tractor. And he started for the house, but he couldn't see the house. But we had an old chickenhouse just out east of the house. And the back wheel just clipped the corner of that chickenhouse, and he knew where he was at then. And he just stopped there and got in the chickenhouse and spent the night in the chickenhouse. (Laughter.) Of course, we had kerosene lamps and everything. It got so dark you couldn't even see without – Kerosene lamps didn't make no light so you could see by.... "Ah, it kind of scared me, best I can recall (laughs). I thought maybe the world was coming to an end, I didn't know (laughs)... "Last spring we had some pretty bad days. They weren't the old black dusters, but I mean, there was plenty of dust in the air…
(Question:) "Do you like living in this country?"
"You bet."
(Question:) "How come?"
"It's just home. Dad always says, 'Anybody ever come out here and wear out two pairs of shoes here, they'd never leave.' I've known some that did do it in later years."
(Question:) "Tell me about what was it like in Colorado?"
(Lois Houle:) "It was terrible. (Laughs.) We had dust storms and droughts. We survived back there as long as we possibly could. I can remember one dust storm back there. We were coming from my grandparents' in Straton. And as we got closer to home, you could see this big gray matter up in the air. And the minute we got home, we had a storm cellar built with things to eat and everything else in it. We were all taken to the storm cellar right away, and they went in and closed the house all up good. And we stayed down there until the storm was over. It just came to the point where we couldn't live any more back there. And we had relatives out here already."
(Question:) "Did they write back or anything?"
"Oh, yes! Oh, yeah! Everything was 'beautiful' out here. (Laughs.) This was the land of milk and honey out here."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Nettie Featherston, "If You Die" at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"Oh, it was terrible. And when you didn't have hardly nothing to eat, and your kids would cry for something to eat and you couldn't give it. We were living in a little old two-room house. And we cooked with blackeyed peas until I never wanted to ever see another blackeyed pea. I just prayed and prayed and prayed all the time that God would take care of us and not let my children starve… "I must have said, 'Well, if we're dead, we're just dead.' That's all I can remember because I don't remember talking to her (the photographer Dorothea Lange'... "I never once thought about living this long (81 years in 1979). Well, I just didn't think we'd survive. You want to know something we're not living much better than we did, as high as everything is, than we did then… "Seems like I'm not satisfied. I have too much on my mind. It seems like I have more temptations put on me than anyone. That's the way we'd be tried out. And every time I ask God to remove this awful burden off of my heart, he does." Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Lois Houle on Relief and Flour Sacks at livinghistoryfarm.org: "When we first moved out here (to Washington State from Colorado) my Dad had rheumatism real bad – in fact, he almost died – and we had to go on "relief" (local welfare programs) what they called it then. We got some food from them, and we got sometimes clothes. And then, my mother and them would make clothes out of flour sacks. And things (the sacks) that they gave us were all printed. Of course, we used those for dresses and underpants and everything we could possible use them for."
(Question:) "Flour sacks for underpants!?"
"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You utilized everything then. This was a case of 'Have to.'"
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Vernon Evans – Oregon or Bust at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"Well, we were all without jobs here. And the jobs were so few and far between at the time we left that you couldn't even buy a job. We decided we had friends that we knew out in Oregon, and we decided we were going to go out there and see if we could find some work. We had $54 between the five of us when we started out from here to go to Oregon. And when we got to Oregon, I think we had about $16 left. We had absolutely no idea what we wre going to do. "We all got in an old Model-T and started for Oregon. We started out, and, I don't know, we got out six miles and broke the crankshaft. This old rancher, he had some old Model-T motors laying around. He said we were welcome to a crankshaft if we wanted one. So, we went back and proceeded to tear the motor out of the old Model-T and put the crankshaft in. And that night we made Baker (laughs) which is a matter of 24 miles from the night before. "Well, then we had pretty good luck all the rest of the way. But we got around Missoula, (Montana) and we were having a good time. See somebody along the road or something. And here was this car sitting alongside the road, and a guy sleeping in it. So, we honked and hollared at him, having a good time. Pretty soon, this car was after us. We'd heard they were sending them back (police sending migrants back at state borders), wasn't letting 'em go on through. So, we thought, 'Well, here's where we go back home.' He motioned for us to pull over to the side of the road. Anyhow, he come up and introduced himself (as Arthur Rothstein) and said he was with the Resettlement Administration (the precursor of the FSA) and asked us questions about the conditons here and one thing or another. Where we were headed for. This 'Oregon or Bust' on the back end was what took his eye. Then, he asked us if we cared if he took some pictures of us. Oh, we said, 'I guess not.' I think he took eight different poses. And then after we were out there (in Oregon) I guess probably it was that fall or winter, why these pictures started showing up in the different magazines and papers. Anyhow, we got out there and I went to work on the railroad. "In the winter of '45, my father passed away. And then I quit working on the railroad to get ready to come come back here. And been here ever since. (Laughs.) Oh, we've had our ups and downs. I think I've been hailed out probably five, six times, and dried out three, four years. And one year we rusted out (from a plant disease called 'rust')."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Walter Ballard on Riding the Rails at livinghistoryfarm.org:
Question: "What was it like riding the rails?"
"I loved it. And I tell you, you don't recommend that to any young kid because it'll get in your blood. You're not agoing anywhere. You don't care. You just ride. And I wasn't married. I didn't care. It'll sure get in your blood because you don't have no worries about how you're going to get around. It's paid for. You're going to eat (in the hobo 'jungles'). That was more than you were doing at home, probably. "Now we'd stop. I never mooched (begged) a meal in my life on that. Never did. We'd stop and work in town anywhere we could get a job. Well, we'd work and get our money and catch that freight on again. Yeah, it'll get in your blood. I still like it. That old whistle will take off there. "I've been hijacked in the yards by the railroad bulls (guards), and, boy, they'd get rough with you, too. Me and my brother-in-law, we were going down through the yards, the railroad yards. Well, everybody catching the train, why, they'd be down in there prowling around. Well, this old boy – he was one of them wops, too, big guard, mean as he could be – he stepped out between the cars, and he said, 'Where you guys going?' "'Oh, we were going up to North Dakota for the harvest.' "He said, 'You just came from that away, didn't you?' "'No, we're from Texas.' "'Well, just get your hands up!' Boy, I'll tell you! He said, 'Now, you see that elevator down yonder?' "'Yeah.' "'You get your so-and-so down there, and you catch this train whenever it gets down there.' "Why, that train would be making 50 mile an hour when it got down there. (Laughs.) So, we seen the guard go away. We run back up and caught it in the yard and left out. He knew we couldn't catch that train agoing that fast. But he meant it. He meant stay out of that yard. And then, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, one time, they run us all out. They were on horses. Boy, them pistols were shooting around there. Now, I'll say this much – "
Question: "Were they shooting at you?"
"Nah, I don't think they ever did shoot at us. I think they were shooting straight up. But, me and my brother-in-law, we just got over behind the railroad track in the weeds and hid there. When the train started up, we just went up and caught it and took it along. I never have thought they were shooting at anybody. They just – See, there was so many (hobos). They just couldn't let you congregate in one town. "So, we'd been working in the laboratory there in Chadron, Nebraska. We seen a freight asitting over there, and there were so many people on it it looked like blackbirds all over it. We were scared to death to ride one, afraid we'd get throwed off or beat up. And believe it or not, when we got ready to go, that old brakeman hollered, 'All aboard!' (Laughs.) 'All aboard.' Just like it was a passenger train. Well, then we felt at ease."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Walter Ballard on Being "Tractored Out" at livinghistoryfarm.org:
Now, that's where you got started at when they run the renters off. We were helping them. I was working for a renter. Now the fellow I worked for, Frank Heine, is dead. He knows about him. He had half of that country out there. He'd have, oh maybe on a half section of land, there'd be two or three houses, you know, of me and him and you. Families living in them making a decent living working for him. Well, he seen he could buy tractors up, and (he said) 'You get off! I don't need you no more. I don't need you no more.' "The fellow I worked for, he bought four new tractors at one time and three combines, see. Case tractors and combines. Well, you take a four-up team of mules – well, one tractor can do as much in a day as one team could do in a week and not be as expensive. Gas then, you know – You may not believe it, but he knows, we bought gas right here in Goodlett for nine- and ten-cents a gallon. They seen they could make so much more money by farming all of their land and running the little farmer off." Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Fritz Fredrick – Growing Wheat at livinghistoryfarm.org: "This picture here was taken in 1936, and this was practically the only wheat field that I know of that was harvested (in the county). I just picked it up – The wheat was there, and I used that for just chicken feed. It was so dry that the ground started to blow, and it go real fine that it would extend over. And more land would blow."
(Question:) "Do you remember how much you paid for that combine?"
"Yes, it was about $1,785. Oh, they're around from, I imagine, $12,000 to $25,000 now (in 1979) for these combines. The prices are not in line, that's all I can see. That's the big trouble now."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Madge May on the FSA at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"The first photograph? I don't exactly remember the actual occassion, but I do remember doing that same job many, many times. We used to raise a lot of them (chickens), and I used to clean a lot of them. And we took them in to town to – cleaned and took them in to town for people to use as fryers, you know." Question: "How would you clean a chicken?" "Well, first you have to cut their heads off. Pluck them good. Then, we used to always have to singe them to finish getting them clean and then wash them." Question: "The photograph identifies you as borrowers from the Farm Security Administration. Do you remember that?" "Yes." Lynn May: "Definitely." Madge: "Well, I imagine probably we couldn't have even survived probably without them because we had to have – they gave us what financial background we had when we started. And they were helpful." Lynn: "I think probably that's where you got your start in bookkeeping." Madge: "Well, that could be. I don't know." Lynn: "We always had to keep books. She was good keeping books. And to this day, she still does that."
Question: "And what are you doing now?"
Madge: "I'm doing bookkeeping. Well, from the farm, we started a Purina Feed franchise here in town. We had that five years, and then decided that wasn't that prosperous and a lot of hard work, too. And so he then sold that and bought a propane gas delivery service. And I decided then to go to work in Lincoln, and I went to work at Hovland-Swanson's in 1953, in January of 1953. And I'm still there. Hovland-Swanson's is a specialty store in Lincoln, exclusive."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Harvey Taft on Cooperative Farmsteads at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"That's this place right here. That's my wife. It was a wonderful experience. I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, nor I wouldn't have wanted to live it over. "That's the way I got my start. They picked my family as one of the 10 families (to live on the farmstead project). I could move here. This house was built new. It just had a house, and a garage and an outside toilet. We built the caves after we moved here. We still worked on relief (welfare) that first summer and tended our garden and dug our caves, and helped build them. We didn't raise anything to sell the first two years because it was kind of dry. And we didn't have any vegetables to sell to make a living. We stayed with that four years, and they kept moving families off. "After four years they leased us that farm and organized us into a co-op, a non-stock co-op. And them two new families (that they replaced) and me run that co-op – (we) farmed cooperatively – for four years. We started a holstein dairy herd, a hog project, raising hogs. And they sent me to another place where they were selling out. And with a supervisor, (I) bought tractors and machinery to farm this land. And we farmed this 517 acres of land at a nominal figure. The rented it to us, and it was a good deal. And I told my wife, I sez, 'That beats renting and getting moved off (the land.' "Then, the co-op blowed up after about three years. The men didn't co-op with me. They wouldn't help me when the hay needed put up. I blew up. I sez, 'I'm done with the co-op.' I got to where I could borrow money and I and my boy could start and rent a farm. "Some of the big shots came here and they said, 'You pick a farm out like you'd want it out of this land.' "And I did. I picked a 194 acre farm out of this. They sold it to me for a little less than $12,000, and it was good land. And we stayed. "In 14 years – that was during World War II – prices were good, and I had good crops. The first five or six years I had bumper crops. And I doubled and tripled my payments. In 14 years, I paid it out. "I sold out when I was 65, 14 years ago. I sold out to my son here and just reserved my home. Now, I got everything the way I wanted it when I got old, only that I'm left alone. (Harvey's wife died two years before this interview.) But, financially I don't have any worries. All my life I had to worry. I had debts and interest to pay. And I fought it for years."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: May Ross Lincoln on School Pie Suppers at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"It was a one-room school house, all eight grades." Question: "Just tell me about the pie supper." "Well, in the rural areas, (they were) for money making projects and social, too. It was chance for everybody in the school and the neighborhood to get together. Come about 7:00 (o'clock), all the women brought in their pies. And there were tables set up for the pies and cakes. The young men would get out – and boys – would play, like baseball, is what I recall, because it was in the spring. And the girls were over talking and chatting and giggling and laughing (laughs) and wondering who was going to buy their pie. "So then, I think they introduced me since I was the teacher. And I told them how much I enjoyed working with their children. And I was glad they came to the party, and I hoped they had a good time. "It was obvious that if there was a certain pie that a certain boy wanted to buy, well then the rest of the kids would bid it up. Some of them would go as high as $5 or $6. There was one couple – they didn't go to school, but they were engaged, I'd say they were in their 20s – so, they ran his pie up to about $10. And they made quite a bit of money that way. "And then after they'd sold all the pies, they had this contest of the 'Prettiest Girl.' So, I don't remember who nominated me, but I remember that after we were nominated well then they said, 'All the pretty girls stand up.' And then they started casting their votes to see who was the (prettiest). I have a vague recollection of winning. Well, I felt real pleased, and I felt like the community approved of me, because I really didn't think I was the prettiest. But I just thought that it was kind of an honor since I'd been teaching their children. And the children voted for me. So I thought well they like me and like the way I'd been teaching them. "I met a young man in college, and he was pre-med. We were married in 1941, and then that November (actually December 7) Pearl Harbor was attacked. And then they called him (drafted him). He became a private, a 'Pfc.' (Private First Class) He went down to Fort Sill for indoctrination, and came back. And he went to med school as a Pfc. "So, I was fulfilled as a housewife and mother."
Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews: Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" at livinghistoryfarm.org:
"This Land is Your Land" is probably the best-known song written by Woody Guthrie. The song has become something of a patriotic anthem. But it's important to remember that Guthrie was a union organizer, and the song would have originally been performed in labor union halls and at rallies for migrant farm workers. In that context, the song is a radical call for the lower classes in American society to take back their country.
Here are the lyrics of this version, which was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in March, 1940:

This land is your land
And this land is my land
From California
To the New York Island,
From the redwood forests
To the gulfstream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking
That ribbon of highway
I saw above me
That endless skyway,
Saw below me
That golden valley.
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and rambled
And I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of
Her diamond deserts.
All around me
A voice was sounding,
'This land was made for you and me.'

When the sun come shining
Then I was stolling
And the wheat fields waving
And the dust clouds rolling.
The voice was chanting
As the fog was lifting,
'This land was made for you and me.'
(Reprise first and last verses.)

 As Lange told the story years later, the decision to stop at the pea picker’s camp was fortuitous. She was driving home after a month in the field when she happened upon a sign identifying the camp. She tried to ignore the sign and drive on, but after twenty miles she was compelled to return to the camp, “following instinct, not reason.” She shot six photographs in a very short period of time of the woman and members of her family, starting at a distance and working her way closer and closer after the fashion of a portrait photographer. Her photos first appeared in the San Francisco News on March 10, 1936, as part of a story demanding relief for the starving pea pickers. The feature was a success: relief was organized, and there is no record of death by starvation. This story of the photo’s origin and impact is, of course, a bit too good. Every icon acquires a standard narrative and often others as well. The standard narrative includes a myth of origin, a tale of public uptake or impact, and a quest for the actual people in the picture to provide closure for the larger social drama captured by the image. In this case, the photo’s origin is due to serendipity, not routine or craft. There is no mention of Lange’s government subsidy nor of the fact that the photo was retouched to remove the woman’s thumb in the lower right corner. Most tellingly, it slides over the fact that the iconic photo was not actually shown in the San Francisco News until the day following the original story. Iconic photos acquire mythic narratives: Lange becomes a poetic vehicle for the operation of historical forces; by mobilizing public opinion, the photographer provides the impetus to collective action. “The star illustration of moving somebody to do something is Migrant Mother".
(An excerpt from Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy, Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites at press.uchicago.edu)


Saturday, December 3, 2011

HIS BARK IS WORSE THAN HIS BITE



Have you ever met a person who behaves as if he is the greatest person on earth ever? Have you ever worked with a person who pretends that you are only an error-prone “mere mortal” whereas he is the most sublime creation of the divinity? Have you ever seen someone who never wants to move away from his own area of expertise & keeps perfecting those expertises secretly so that they can “perform” them in front of public?
If you have managed to experience at least one of the situations as mentioned above most likely you already had the opportunity of coming across an “Arrogant” person. In the entire discussion to follow our focus would be on the word “Arrogant”. This is important to discuss because generally arrogant people have a negative impact on the social fabric. We shall try to detect and understand arrogant people.
(oppapers.com)
More than likely, you have met people during your lifetime who possess an arrogant behavior. For some reason, these people tend to look down on others while putting themselves on a pedestal. Now, there is nothing wrong with having self-esteem and self-confidence but when those character traits cross the line to an unhealthy sense of self-worth, something is wrong. In fact, some people are so arrogant that they are cruel to other people and unfortunately, they do not care who gets in the way of them promoting self. Keep in mind that when talking about an arrogant behavior, this person constantly acts in an unhealthy way, meaning he or she is not just somewhat vain or conceited. You will actually find arrogant people make a lot of presumptions and claims, as well as bold statements about how important they are. In addition, when trying to point out something these people did wrong or even a character flaw, the immediate reaction is to become extremely defensive. After all, in those people’s minds, they are perfect so there is no way they would fail at something.
It is important to know that while arrogant behavior is unattractive, the reasons behind it are not always what you might think. The most common reasons that people act this way is because of power and wealth, beauty and youth, status and prestige, and intelligence and education. However, some people behave with arrogance out of fear, insecurity, unhappiness, doubt, past tragedies, etc. In these cases, the arrogance is a way of trying to feel better about one’s self but unfortunately, at the expense of others. However, we wanted to touch briefly on the more common reasons for arrogant behavior:
• Power and Wealth – When a person has power and wealth, an arrogant behavior is relatively common. Typically, this type of behavior is seen in people who come from an affluent or famous home, or someone from old money. In this case, there is a sense of entitlement. Now, arrogance can also breed from newfound power and wealth but often a person with a “rags to riches” story appreciates what they have gained and remembers where they came from so arrogance is not as much of an issue. A prime example is many young people in Hollywood who have come from well-known homes. Sadly, these people grow up feeling they have more and better things than anyone else does so it allows them to behave badly.
• Beauty and Youth – An arrogant behavior is also commonly associated with someone who has exceptional beauty and youth. Although there are millions of gorgeous, young people who appreciate what they have been blessed with, others take these qualities for granted. However, along with both beauty and youth fading over time, a car accident, house fire, or some other tragedy could take that away.
• Status and Prestige – In this case, holding a high position in a company, being a political leader, or living the movie star life can also lead to an arrogant behavior. While these people have worked hard to achieve their position in life, with all the benefits and monetary gain that comes from having status and prestige, arrogance is often the result.
• Intelligence and Education – If someone is naturally intelligent, or has achieved a higher level of understanding through years of education, an arrogant behavior is often the result. In this case, the person has allowed pride of know more create a sense of importance that is simply unhealthy. Education is always a good choice but after earning multiple Master’s degrees or PhD, this type of person should put the knowledge to good use rather than see themselves as being above others.
Sadly, people with an arrogant behavior have created an overinflated sense of pride, which results in ongoing boasting and the “know it all” attitude. Instead of this making that person more liked or respected, it turns other people off, causing them to lose interest. Because of this, it is also common for people who are highly arrogant to have few real friends and usually, those friends are also arrogant or they are only true friends to the person’s face. Arrogant behavior is not only unhealthy and unattractive but it can lead to a long life of loneliness.
(knowledgegalaxy.net)
Truly humble people are satisfied in the fact that they are not proud. Of course, many conceited people have a lot to be humble about people “control for input”. We all want feedback telling us we’re important and worthy. Large sums are spent to procure colossal-sized SUV’s and wardrobes lined with chic and swank labels. Laurence J. Peter saw two types of egotists: Those who admit it… and the rest of us.
(Robert Morton at examiner.com)
Those who are conceited or arrogant really have low self-esteem because they put a low value on others. If they think other people have a low value, they must also believe that they have a low value too - even if they do not realize it. Those who attempt to build themselves up by pushing other people down would only want to do that because of self-doubt. They do it to gain 'social proof' that they are more valuable or important and thus they do not take kindly to criticism. Yet if you know you already have a high value, then you do not need build yourself up and so will not feel the need to push others down. Criticism will not affect you because you know that it is only an opinion and does not affect the truth. Thus you are self-confident, self-assured and secure. You have self-respect because you respect others. You have high self-esteem.
(William P Webb at ezinearticles.com)
Egotists are essentially insecure people who are attempting to cover up their own suspicion that they are not quite as good as other people by pretending that they are more important. People with very high levels of self-esteem do not need to determine their self-worth by comparing themselves, either publicly or in their own minds, with others. An egotistical person's sense of self-worth is mostly determined by external conditions, circumstances or events. They promote themselves so that they can be convinced of their own value by the feedback they receive from peers, fans, voters, employees or even their own children. They often strive to be high achievers because they can then get the acclaim of others, in the hope that this acclaim will somehow prove their worth; though it seldom erases the suspicion that they are unworthy. It is not a bad thing to be egotistical; it is just sad.
(Leslie Fieger at ezinearticles.com)
There is nothing more arrogant, more self-boasting, and haughtier and more cock than a human being. Humans dress up make obeisance to one another and think they are very intelligent, very knowledgeable; everyone takes himself for Aristotle, for Julius Caesar and Einstein. No exception to the rule. There is nothing more presumptuous than man himself, thinking that he is the wisest of beings and looks at others as utter shit. Why the scoundrel bastard, he is the most ignorant of all creatures. He knows nothing, simply nothing. His knowledge can say where his atoms came from? Who put them together? And why should he be in his form and shape color and structure? Why should he function in one way and not the other? Where did the universe in which he lives in, comes from? Why should he be there like a lemon on a tree? The lemon has more functions and more advantages than man and his shitty race. The lemon stands there to serve and give life, while man wants to be served and takes life whenever it is possible.
Have a look at the Pharaohs, kings, Sultans, Emirs, presidents (such self-boasters and self-worshippers, empty of everything except shit, like, you name it and other big shits). Have a look at nation levels and states, ‘Deutchland uber al', Germany above all, with Hitler, have considered themselves over all humans; the Japanese did the same, the Italians did the same. In older times the British and the French did the same self-boasting cock. The Spaniards, Portuguese and Dutch before and then the Ottomans, then the Arabs, Persians and Romans, Jews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Sumerians, Hittites and the Pharaohs. Nowadays, ‘we are the best and better than everybody else', is practiced by many, and a little while before the Soviets, then the Chinese Giant of Gog and Magog shall take place of better race and better humans than the others, alongside the Hindus. Then, maybe it is the turn of the Africans or the South Americans. No one misses this chance of being better.
Man reaches the moon and discovers the DNA Charts but cannot even heal himself from a common cold. He has made so many discoveries but he is unable with all the progress of scientific knowledge to stop his ageing one day or to postpone his death one hour once he is gone. His mind is so limited and so weak that he cannot stay without sleep for few days. He cannot stay without drinking for more than four days, he dies, the poor guy. He is unable to create one simple tiny little and invisible atom, of any sort. He cannot bring back to life a dead fly or a dead worm. He cannot even create a leaf of a vine tree. His limited to what he is, to his body, to his psychological stimulus-response, to his mental incapacities and to his spiritual handicaps. No way he has accessibility to ultimate knowledge, his presence and the presence of everything around him. He does not understand it, the imbecile. He has no access to his origin, except for Darwin to explain for him his origin. Well, the beast is contended with this genius explanation. He denies God his creator for he does not see God and cannot prove His existence.
(articlesbase.com)
Look around you! and you see nothing but cocks, parrots and peacocks. From your neighbor to your green grocer, the café owner, the local policeman, the mayor, the governor, the president, a rich man, a poor man, a scientist, a teacher, a sudden or what have you, all are arrogant boasters. You feel you are in front of generals and world leaders listening to their wisdom and knowledge. Have you ever tried to scratch the surface and see whether you are scraping gold, silver or zinc! They are all gold; some are platinum, as they think themselves to be. Whoever you talk to he, or she, takes an arrogant air of one who knows everything and you are nothing but a cockroach. They even make you feel as such. You talk to the local green grocer about China economic policies, and he seems to know everything about it. He has all his theories and how the Gog and Magog are out to control the world in a very short time. But his knowledge of US dominance in the world is more astonishing for he vouched that every Muslim in the world ought to be eliminated for being a born terrorist. Well, the green grocer must have hated Ben Ladden for destroying the Twins of World Commercial Centre in New York and that every Muslim now is a confirmed terrorist. When asked about Obama, he retorted, it is great to see the white America being dominated by an African Muslim Negro. He even mentioned that petrol should not be in the hands of the Arabs for fear they would raise up the prices of petrol and his grocery van would suffer the consequences. Well, not bad for a green grocer!
But seriously, from the time of the Pharaoh Ramsis II to the present time many leaders, no arrogant has equaled these great men of genius and knowledge. However, if we look into the real price of a human being then we are faced with a drastic fact of the local market costs namely less than a Dollar. Being made of some cheap metals, few grams of calcium, potassium and sodium, and the rest is 90% of ocean water, then the bill amounts to one Dollar, nearly, depending on the mass of human flesh you are discussing. But humans are arrogant haughty boasters. Ask anyone his opinion about anything, from Darwin to the local price of radishes, he would all know it. But the air he, or she, takes for his, or her ,knowledge is amazing. What the hell! Why can't we be humble and modest? Why should we be so arrogant and so boastful, and for what? We all have eyes and ears and an arsehole. When billionaires, presidents and kings, not to forget queens, go to the toilet they do not exactly lay golden eggs. When they die they do not take with them anything, but dirty cotton sticking in their bottoms. So where is the difference between humans and why be arrogant and self-conceited?
We know nothing, not even the greatest of scientists of all knows, about matter, atoms, where do they come from, who made them in their shape, why should be in their shape. We know nothing about our origin, how did we come about, our presence and our end. Humans eat up one another. They snatch your bite from your mouth and do not hesitate to stick a knife in your back and trot on you to advance in life. Man's arrogance and self-conceited haughtiness has made him blind to see God, arrogant to worship God and bow down to Him in recognition and gratitude.....
(mardini at articlesbase.com)


Thursday, December 1, 2011

THE GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES




U.S. Army troops Kunar province
eastern Afghanistan
From countryxp.com


The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance) launched Operation Enduring Freedom. The primary driver of the invasion was the September 11 attacks on the United States, with the stated goal of dismantling the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and ending its use of Afghanistan as a base. The United States also said that it would remove the Taliban regime from power and create a viable democratic state.
A decade into the war, the U.S. continues to battle a widespread Taliban insurgency, and the war has expanded into the tribal areas of neighboring Pakistan. The preludes to the war were the assassination of anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9, 2001, and the September 11 attacks on the United States, in which nearly 3000 civilians lost their lives in New York City, Arlington Va. and Pennsylvania. The United States identified members of al-Qaeda, an organization based in, operating out of and allied with the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the perpetrators of the attacks. The Taliban offered to try Bin Laden in an Afghan court, or have him extradited to a third country, so long as the United States provided evidence of his guilt, but the U.S. refused, stating it would not hand over evidence to the Taliban. So on October 7, 2001, the U.S. government launched military operations in Afghanistan. Teams from the CIA's Special Activities Division (SAD) were the first U.S. forces to enter Afghanistan and begin combat operations. They were soon joined by U.S. Army Special Forces from the 5th Special Forces Group and other units from USSOCOM. On October 7, 2001, airstrikes were reported in the capital, Kabul (where electricity supplies were severed), at the airport, at Kandahar (home of the Taliban's Supreme Leader Mullah Omar), and in the city of Jalalabad. CNN released exclusive footage of Kabul being bombed to all the American broadcasters at approximately 5:08 p.m. October 7, 2001. At 17:00 UTC, President Bush confirmed the strikes on national television and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair also addressed the UK. Bush stated that Taliban military sites and terrorist training grounds would be targeted. In addition, food, medicine, and supplies would be dropped to "the starving and suffering men, women and children of Afghanistan"
(WIKIPEDIA)


US 10th Mountain Division soldiers
Afghanistan Province of Daychopan
US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Kyle Davis
From times92.com

Helmand Province of Afghanistan, July 3, 2009
U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Ryan Pettit (L)
(4th Civil Affairs Group)
Cpl Matthew Miller
(2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment)
Source defenseimagery.mil
Author Sgt. Pete Thibodeau
From WIKIMEDIA


2nd Mentoring & Reconstruction Task Force Engineers
Author Source originally posted to Flickr
Uploaded using F2ComButton Author isafmedia
From WIKIMEDIA


After the Taliban fled Kabul in November 2001 and left their stronghold, the southern city of Kandahar, in December 2001, it was generally understood that by then major Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders had fled across the border into Pakistan. To fill the political void, in December 2001 the United Nations hosted the Bonn Conference in Germany. The meetings of various Afghan leaders here were organized by the United Nations Security Council. The Taliban were not included. Participants included representatives of four Afghan opposition groups. Observers included representatives of neighbouring and other involved major countries, including the United States. The result was the Bonn Agreement which created the Afghan Interim Authority that would serve as the “repository of Afghan sovereignty” and outlined the so-called Petersberg Process, a political process towards a new constitution and choosing a new Afghan government. (WIKIPEDIA)
The initial attack removed the Taliban from power, but Taliban forces have since regained some strength. Since 2006, Afghanistan has seen threats to its stability from increased Taliban-led insurgent activity, record-high levels of illegal drug production, and a fragile government with limited control outside of Kabul. By the end of 2008, the Taliban had severed any remaining ties with al-Qaeda. According to senior U.S. military intelligence officials, there are perhaps fewer than 100 members of Al-Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan. The Taliban can sustain itself indefinitely, according to a December 2009 briefing by the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan. It’s time to play “State the Obvious” with new polling data that’s out today about the war in Afghanistan. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 64 percent of Americans feel that fighting the Afghan war is not worth it. That’s nearly two-thirds of all respondents. The conflict is going into its 11th year, making it the longest conflict in American history. Somehow they found 31 percent of respondents, polling low, that actually thought the war was worth fighting. Not sure what planet they live on, but they are entitled to their opinions. In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gen. David Petraeus reminded people that 9/11 was the reason they are in Afghanistan in the first place. He says that the attacks were spawned there, hence the need to complete the mission. “Blah, blah, blah, blah….” That’s exactly how these excuses about war sound to the American people. Since it started, there has been a strong contingency of the American people who have been against the preemptive conflicts in the Middle East. They were a minority in the beginning, but now they have grown into the majority. It’s really sad how correct they are. US need to cut losses over there and leave once and for all. The U.S. is far too concerned with fiscal policy at home to justify spending trillions of dollars overseas any longer. Much of the effort in Afghanistan now is too late. They took their eye off of that nation in favor of Iraq during the early years of that conflict. In what is defined as an “ego move,” US have stayed in Afghanistan, doubled their efforts, and tried to correct their mistake. It would be well-served for the people and resources to come home and regroup to focus on other important tasks.
(Social Issues by Stevie in International Affairs at prunejuicemedia.com)



Contact with insurgents, June 26, 2010
An Afghann National Police officer returns fire
Photo Source: yeeyan.org
From news.xinhuanet.com


When Gen. David Petraeus took over the Afghan war effort, the conflict took a violent turn. Especially that part of the war launched from above. Petraeus relaxed the restrictions on air power, and strikes from the sky returned to a level all-but-unseen since the war’s earliest days. In October of 2010, coalition planes unleashed their weapons on more than 1,000 missions. Now, Petraeus is gone, and the air war — like the rest of the conflict — has cooled a bit from its fever pitch. In the three full months since Gen. John Allen assumed command, strike sorties are down more than 25% over the same period in 2010: 1,631 attack runs, compared to 2,198 last year, according to U.S. military statistics. In October, the drop was particularly stark: 616 strike sorties, down from 1,043 during the previous October. It’s a particularly remarkable trend, given that there are more aircraft than ever patrolling Afghanistan’s skies. And it may be a sign for how the rest of the Afghan war is waged.
(Petraeus Gone, Afghan Air War Plummets by Noah Shachtman, November 7, 2011, WIRED at wired.com)
War is never easy and it is never clean. There is little doubt that the United States fully realized that as they contemplated engaging in conflict in Afghanistan. While few will debate that the war in that country was necessary, and that the United States certainly had the firepower advantage, any optimism that the war began with has been destroyed by almost a decade of conflict and bloodshed. Adding to those military woes is the continuing political turmoil in the country which has started to reach a head following debates between the governments of the two countries. At issue is the growing divide between the Obama government and the renewed confidence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai who in recent weeks has started to take the destiny of his country onto his shoulders. While such action should be welcomed in a country that continues to endure turmoil and serious threats from an insurgent force, it is Karzai’s slightly irregular behaviour, such as stating his desire to join the Taliban, that has run very much afoul of the Obama administration, particularly as U.S. soldiers continue to die in that country. Now however the government has tabled a possible new plan that could forever end the troubles in Afghanistan, nuking the entire site from orbit. “It’s obviously top, top secret, even though we are talking about it here but it is a serious consideration by more than just the military hawks in the country. I’m not sure exactly who came up with the idea but apparently it came from a late night viewing of ‘Aliens’ on AMC where they realize the best solution is to just take out the entire site,” said a Pentagon insider. “Obviously it didn’t work out in the movie but in the real world we are not bound by the conventions of plot and bringing things to a satisfying conclusion. We have the ability to blow the hell out of that country, to just make it a giant crater, and it is a serious consideration at this point.” While nuclear weapons are the most powerful weapons yet created, it’s believed that the level of weaponry required to actual make the country a crater would render the entire planet uninhabitable and kill every living thing, making that an unlikely scenario. “Afghanistan has been called the Graveyard of Empires and that has proven largely true.
From Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan to the Soviets, Afghanistan has defeated some of the greatest armies ever assembled. Until now however no one has ever had the firepower to truly deal with the country, which we do now with nukes,” said Scrape TV International analyst Gustav Hander. “Like many wars in the modern era all that could have realistically expected was a kind of truce, reducing the Taliban to a regional threat. A true win was never in the cards but now the United States is mired in the country with their pride and reputation on the line, which makes winning all the more important.” In the movie ‘Aliens’ American Marines are placed on an isolated planet infested with malevolent aliens which they then decide to nuke, though their plans ultimately fail. “In the movie you had this lone detachment of Marines isolated in the middle of space, but here you have the top military in the world with all kinds of backup and a bunch of nukes at the ready. It would be very easy to just do away with the whole country and redeem all those militaries and soldiers that bled out on the sands of Afghanistan,” continued Hander. “The real question would be what to do with the region once the Afghans are out. Obviously you would have to wait decades before the radiation abated, but that would give you plenty of time to plan. I would hope for a lot of green space and perhaps a theme park or two. I’m sure the Khyber Pass would be great for a rollercoaster or two.” Should the country be reduced to a massive crater it’s likely that it would eventually fill with water creating a killer wading pool. (U.S. CONSIDERING JUST NUKING AFGHANISTAN FROM ORBIT Emil Uliya, International Correspondent, April 13 2010, SCRAPE TV at scrapetv.com)
According even to an official UN report, opium production in Afghanistan has risen dramatically since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001. UNODC data shows more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004-2007), than in any one year during Taliban rule. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan, than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 93% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This is no accident. The US military remains in Afghanistan long after the world has forgotten even who the mysterious Osama bin Laden and his alleged Al Qaeda terrorist organization is or even if they exist. The aim is not to eradicate any Al Qaeda cells that may have survived in the caves of Tora Bora, or to eradicate a mythical “Taliban” which at that point according to eyewitness reports is made up overwhelmingly of local ordinary Afghanis fighting to rid their land once more of occupier armies as they did in the 11980’s against the Russians.
(Adapted from The Geopolitics Behind the Phoney U.S. War in Afghanistan, Oct 21, 2009 by: F William Engdahl, engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net at marketoracle.co.uk)


"Poppy Palaces" in Kabul
From CNN Money at money.cnn.com


Passing by a poppy field
U.S. Marines, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
From thelibertyvoice.com


Addicts smoke heroin
Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images
From boston.com


After the Taliban was toppled, Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon focused mainly on counterterrorism. Drugs were a police matter, he believed, though there was no functioning police force. Sensing an opportunity, Afghans of all stripes lined up to cash in: farmers hoping to make money; landowners seeking higher returns; local, district, and provincial officials -- police chiefs, governors, and militia leaders (i.e., warlords) -- who'd smuggled before and saw a chance to do so again. "These guys started to look around and say, 'Holy shit, no one is doing anything about this,'" says Alex Thier, a rule-of-law expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace who has worked in Afghanistan since the mid-1990s. They figured, he says, "there's no risk in doing it. It's not only that I'm able to bribe the governor. The governor owns the fields that I'm planting!"
By 2007 more than 3 million Afghans were involved in cultivating a yield of some 8,200 metric tons of poppies, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Farmers were earning roughly six times the nation's per capita income of $340 a year. In 2007 opium's value was nearly 10 times that of wheat, making it extremely difficult to persuade farmers to switch crops. American policy now stresses alternative livelihood programs designed to help farmers grow crops -- grapes, pomegranates, and almonds, for instance -- that can bring in as much as poppies do. However, the seeds literally take time to grow, so farmers living hand-to-mouth need some kind of bridge, which the West is trying to provide in the form of training and fertilizer and seedling subsidies. So poppies remain the best thing going. "Of course we know it's illegal, but we have no other option," Hamid Hakmal, a teacher in Nokher Khil, a village in Nangarhar province, says. "I can't earn enough to live with wheat. If the government or NGOs would help us, we wouldn't have to plant this." Given these harsh realities, poppy cultivation "is a logical economic response to conditions of chaos," says Ronald Neumann, the American ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. Distressingly, several past and present cabinet ministers, senior law enforcement officials, and even Karzai's own brother are widely suspected of profiting handsomely from the poppy trade, overseeing growing operations or enabling transport of the yield across and out of the country. They deny the charges, but it's impossible not to believe, as does David Kilcullen, an Australian counterinsurgency scholar and former adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, that "we shouldn't underestimate the degree to which corrupt Afghan officials are involved in the drug trade." Current and former government officials speak of investigations thwarted, inquiries shut down, suspects summarily released after a hurried phone call. Such was the state of affairs, says a State Department official, that an Afghan radio program that announced a seizure of 100 kilos of opium got a call from the trafficker himself moments later. He insisted he'd had twice that amount, accused the police of stealing the rest, and demanded it back.
(Afghanistan's drug czar - world's toughest job by Phil Zabriskie, contributor, CNN Money at money.cnn.com)


US soldiers fly on a military plane
Afghanistan, October 8, 2011
Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images From boston.com


An Afghan girl works at a brick factory
Outskirts of Jalalabad, October 10, 2011
Rahmat Gul/AP From boston.com


Girls attend a class
A camp for the displaced Kabul, October 11, 2011
Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
From boston.com


Wazir Akbar Khan hill
Kabul, October 12, 2011
Omar Sobhani/Reuters From boston.com


Street in Kabul, October 23, 2011
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


Shop owner Mohammed Ahmadi, 32
Dress shop in Kabul
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


Afghan children enjoy a swing ride
A cemetery outside Sakhi shrine
Kabul, October 11, 2011
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


A family walks by riot police
Demo against a U.S.-Afghan strategic security agreement
Kabul, October 24, 2011
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


People visit a cemetery
The Sakhi shrine in Kabul, October 24, 2011
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


Women walk in a market Kabul, October 26, 2011
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


Indira Gandhi Children's Hospital
Kabul, October 27, 2011
Muhammed Muheisen/AP
From boston.com


Feints and baby steps in the direction of eventually ending a massive crime are not enough. Hoping to meet a distant deadline for ending a war that cannot be justified for a single day is not enough. A new misunderstanding should not be piled on top of other fictional accomplishments (the closing of Guantanamo, the complete withdrawal from Iraq, universal health coverage, etc.) But if we don't understand that we are beginning to move things in the right direction many among us will lose heart and others will miscalculate. This is what the Associated Press had to say on Thursday morning, Nov 3rd 2011:
"A senior U.S. official says the Obama administration is considering shifting the U.S. military role in Afghanistan from primarily combat to mainly advisory and training duties as early as next year. If this approach is adopted it would mean a reduction in American combat duties in Afghanistan sooner than the administration had planned. But it would not mean an early end to the war. The U.S. and its NATO partners agreed a year ago that coalition forces would complete their combat mission by the end of 2014. Advising and training Afghan forces would gradually become a more dominant part of the mission, particularly after the U.S. completes the withdrawal of 33,000 'surge' troops by September 2012. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made."
The Wall Street Journal ran into some similar criminal but respectable leakers of "national security" information:
"The Obama administration is exploring a shift in the military's mission in Afghanistan to an advisory role as soon as next year, senior officials told The Wall Street Journal, a move that would scale back U.S. combat duties well ahead of their scheduled conclusion at the end of 2014. Such a move would have broad implications for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. It could begin a phase-out of the current troop-intensive approach, which focuses on protecting the Afghan population, in favor of a greater focus on targeted counterterrorism operations, as well as training the Afghan military. A transition to a training mission could also allow for a faster drawdown of U.S. forces in the country, though officials said discussions about troop levels have yet to move forward. The revised approach has been discussed in recent high-level meetings involving top defense and administration officials, according to people involved in the deliberations. No decisions have been made, officials said, and policy makers could consider other options that would adjust the mission in other ways, officials said. Officials said agreement on a formal shift to an advisory role could come as early as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in May—in the heat of the U.S. presidential election campaign. Some officials have drawn comparisons to President Barack Obama's 2009 decision to switch to an 'advice and assist' role in Iraq and to declare a formal end to U.S. combat operations there. In Iraq, after mid-2009, troops were largely confined to their bases. Security conditions in Afghanistan are different, however, and will likely require U.S. troops, particularly Special Operations forces, to continue to accompany their Afghan counterparts into battle after the U.S. takes an advisory role. Defense officials said the U.S. still would be directly involved in many combat operations, though increasingly with Afghan forces in the lead." Wars are rarely lost in a single encounter; Defeat is almost always more complex than that. (Public Pressure Is Slowly Ending Afghanistan War, Column by David Swanson, November 3, 2011, warisacrime.org at scoop.co.nz)



An Afghan policeman reacts
Suicide attack in Kabul, October 29, 2011
A U.S. helicopter lands at the site
Omar Sobhani/Reuters From boston.com


The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have lost the war in Afghanistan, but not just because they failed in the battle for Marjah or decided that discretion was the better part of valor in Kandahar. They lost the war because they should never have invaded in the first place; because they never had a goal that was achievable; because their blood and capital are finite. The face of that defeat was everywhere. According to the Afghanistan Rights Monitor, “In terms of insecurity, 2010 has been the worst year since the demise of the Taliban regime in late 2001.”
A U.S. government audit found that despite $27 billion spent on training, fewer than 12 percent of Afghan security forces were capable of operating on their own. Some 58 percent of the American public think the war is “a lost cause,” and 60 percent think the United States should begin to withdraw in July 2011. Only Republican votes in Congress saved the Obama administration’s request for $33 billion to fuel the war in the coming fiscal year. The war is currently hemorrhaging money at a rate of $7 billion a month. The British public — the United Kingdom is the second largest armed contingent in Afghanistan — opposes the war by 72 percent, and other coalition forces are quickly abandoning the effort in the war-torn Central Asian nation. Poland announced it would withdraw its 2,600 troops in 2012. The Dutch will be out this August. The Canadians in 2011. The Australians, along with the rest of the NATO allies, declined a plea in July to send more combat troops. In a sign of the dire circumstances of the war effort, Afghan soldiers turned their guns on NATO soldiers. A poll by the International Council on Security and Development reaffirms that the NATO alliance is failing to win over Afghan civilians, a cornerstone of success in the current strategy employed in Afghanistan. The poll found that in the two provinces currently at the center of the war — Helmand and Kandahar — 75 percent of Afghans believe foreigners disrespect their religion and traditions; 74 percent think working for foreign forces is wrong; 68 percent believe NATO will not protect them; and 65 percent think Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar should be part of the government.
So does one calculate the arithmetic of defeat? But “defeat” does not mean the war is over. Indeed, the moment when it becomes obvious that victory is no longer an option can be the most dangerous time in a conflict’s history. The losers may double down, as the French and the United States did in Vietnam. They may lash out in a frenzy of destruction, as the United States did in Laos and Cambodia. Or they may poison the well for generations to come by dividing people on the basis of ethnicity, religion and tribe, as the British did when their empire began to disintegrate.
(Conn Hallinan in Foreign Policy in Focus)

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