May 28, 2013 |
Hamid Karzai has been president of Afghanistan for a long time - since the end of 2001, when he was installed by a U.S.-led alliance. At the time, he seemed a charming, English-speaking leader with a colorful wardrobe who could craft a democratic, post-Taliban state. Today Karzai is perceived, at least in the West, as erratic and unpredictable, an opportunist who has troubling ties to corrupt officials and abusive warlords. Far from consolidating democracy, Karzai has presided over the development of a deeply corrupt and abusive state that has allowed the resurgence of the Taliban.
May 12, 2013 |
CHARIKAR, Afghanistan - Abdul Shakour was working the night shift at Bagram air base repairing American vehicles when he was called to an emergency meeting. The news was bad: Shakour and 22 other Afghan mechanics were being laid off. After seven years at Bagram, Shakour was unceremoniously shown the door last month. He was told to return the next day to turn in his security badge and collect his final paycheck. "There aren't as many vehicles to fix and not as many soldiers around, so they don't need us anymore," Shakour said outside the base, speaking with a thick accent the English he had learned from American civilians and troops.
April 6, 2013 |
KABUL, Afghanistan - On the same day that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived in Afghanistan for an assessment visit, six Americans were killed Saturday in attacks by Afghanistan insurgents. Hours after Dempsey arrived in the nation, five Americans - three soldiers and two civilians - were killed when a bomb-laden vehicle exploded in southeastern Zabul province. An Afghan doctor was also killed in the attack on a convoy headed to a hospital for a visit. Another American was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, military officials said.
March 21, 2013 |
Some diversions invite comparison more readily than others. Take "The Sapphires," the most chipper film ever set in Vietnam. Already many have taken it, and liked it. If you enjoyed "Strictly Ballroom" or "The Commitments," which is to say if you fell for the slightly pushy charms of those show-business fables (one fantasy Australian, the other Irish, though directed by an Englishman), then chances are you'll go for this true-ish story of an Aborigine singing group entertaining the American troops, enemy fire be damned, in 1968 - like Bob Hope and Raquel Welch, New South Wales division.
February 14, 2013 |
KABUL, Afghanistan - Over the last 25 days, something unusual has happened in Afghanistan: Not one U.S. service member has been killed. The lion's share of the fighting - and dying - is now being done by Afghans. The last American troop death, from injuries suffered in a December roadside bombing, occurred Jan. 20, marking the longest stretch without a fatality since 2008 and offering a glimmer of evidence that the United States' 11-year war is in its twilight. Deaths among U.S. troops in Afghanistan last year reached a four-year low as commanders hailed a tipping point in a conflict that has claimed more than 2,100 American lives.
February 3, 2013 |
Amid partisan questioning from both sides in former Sen. Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing last week, a major opportunity was lost. Hagel's fellow Republicans grilled the Defense secretary nominee on past statements about Israel and his opposition to President George W. Bush's 2007 surge in Iraq. Democrats, defending their president's choice, tossed him softballs. What Hagel wasn't asked about in any depth was Afghanistan, where about 66,000 U.S. troops are still risking their lives for a mission that no longer seems clear.