afghanistan conflict
Trump's dangerous expansion of executive war powers
And Congress is nowhere to be found.

New from me at Politico. An excerpt:

This expanded bombing campaign, though, could be just the tip of the iceberg. In early March, The Guardian reported that the White House is considering a secret Pentagon proposal to designate temporary areas of active hostility in which the military could launch what amounts to six-month wars without congressional approval. Under the proposal, once the president signs off on a temporary battlefield, commanders would be given “the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns” as they now have in active U.S. warzones like Iraq. Protections for civilians would also be scaled back.

These temporary battlefields, as The Guardian dubbed them, are not exactly new; the Obama administration already applied the label to conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. But the proposal Trump is considering would expand and formalize that decision, stretching the temporary battlefield designation to cover entire countries in which the United States is technically not at war. Despite the bureaucratic language, Trump’s plan, if implemented, is a flagrant perversion of the Constitution, redoubling the worst excesses of the Obama administration and further undercutting the rule of law.

Protect thou the orphan whose father is dead; brush the mud from his dress, ward all hurt from his head. Thou knowest not how hard his condition must be; when the root has been cut, is there life in the tree? Caress not and kiss not a child of thine own, in the sight of the orphan neglected and alone. If the orphan sheds tears who his grief will assuage? If his temper should fail him who cares for his rage? O see that he weep not, for surely God’s throne doth quake at the orphan’s most pitiful moan! With infinite pity, with tenderest care, wipe the tears from his eyes, brush the dust from his hair. No shield of parental protection his head now shelters; be thou his protector instead. - Saadi

Pecheneg-SP machine gun, 7.62x54mm R

The Pecheneg (Pecheneg is an ancient aggressive tribe who lived in what later became Russia; also its name is sometimes transcribed as Petcheneg)light machine gun was born from experience of Afghanistan and recent local conflicts, especially the continuous fight with insurgents and terrorists in Chechnya.

Today marks the third anniversary of the death of the man pictured above.
 Fusilier Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He was a veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan where he served as a machine gunner.

He was murdered in the streets of London near his barracks by two Muslim assailants. I will not list their names here as they do not deserve such recognition.

I would ask that you remember this act and if  you would, spare a moment of silence in memory of  this serviceman who had his life taken not just unfairly, but in a cruel and degrading manner.

Lest we forget.


Ending today’s revision with a mindmap on the conflict in Afghanistan, this is part of the reason I love geography, it’s so broad! This morning I revised volcanoes and the air masses affecting the UK and now I’m revising the conflict in Afghanistan and all 3 of these things are considered the same subject!

In other news, I’ve decided which accommodation I want for uni and which college (the uni I’m going to is collegiate) but I can’t apply until June 😩 and I’ve been added to a group chat for people on my course on Facebook. It’s all starting to feel very real!

То, что я должен сказать
Александр Вертинский

“What I have to say” is one of the most famous russian anti-war song written in 1917 by Alexander Vertinsky.  

According to Vertinsky, it was dedicated to the junkers died during October Revolution in Moscow. Because of it Vertinsky even had some troubles with Cheka (the organization combating with Counter-Revolution and Sabotage). “What I have to say” has a very tragic verses: young soldiers’ deaths are meaningless, because “in the bletcherous country even bright deeds are just steps in endless precipices to inaccessible spring”,

This song was relevant in different epochs: it was performed during Soviet war in Afghanistan and Chechen-Russian conflict by different singers (including Boris Grebenshchikov). Now it becomes actual again.

Afghan internal refugee children work at a traditional brick factory on the outskirts of Herat, Jan. 7, 2013.   In 2012 alone, spreading conflict in Afghanistan has forced more than 166,000 Afghans to flee their homes, bringing the total number of people internally displaced by conflict to at least 460,000 since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Conditions for the displaced have fallen well below international standards, according to a 2012 study by the Norwegian Refugee council. 


Tumblr Artist

Steve McCurry | on Tumblr (b.1950, USA) - Eloquence of the Eye

American photojournalist Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India. Traveling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera. It was after several months of travel that he found himself crossing the border into Pakistan. There, he met a group of refugees from Afghanistan, who smuggled him across the border into their country, just as the Russian Invasion was closing the country to all western journalists. Emerging in traditional dress, with full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.

Since then, McCurry has gone on to create stunning images over six continents and countless countries. His work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike - yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl such a powerful image.

[more Steve McCurry | artist found at ruineshumaines]

Doctors Without Borders has launched a social media act of solidarity to stand up for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, patients, medical staff and hospitals in conflicts.

On May 3, 2016, the United Nations Security Council will vote on a resolution designed to stop future attacks against hospitals, patients and civilians in war zones. We have closely followed the drafting of this resolution, and now we need your help to make sure it will be as strong as possible. 

Sign up for our Thunderclap and help us harness the power of the crowd to amplify our message to the UN Security Council.


U.S. photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg has seen more of Afghanistan, and recent Afghan history, than many Afghans themselves. Since 1988, he’s visited Afghanistan dozens of times, covering the country for Time and The New York Times. He returned most recently last month, for the launch of an exhibition of his photography at the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University.

The photos, covering several distinct phases in recent Afghan history, come from Nickelsberg’s book Afghanistan: A Distant War, for which he received a 2014 Overseas Press Club award. After so many years of covering the country, he says: “Storytelling and documentation remains a priority. Witnessing historical moments remains a priority. The intimacy I have with the region has not changed, it’s just evolved.”

Originally Nickelsberg had planned only to present a Dari-language version of the book to the university, but the Afghanistan Center’s director, Waheed Wafa, a former New York Times reporter, “is aware of the impact of photojournalism,” Nickelsberg says, “and felt this was the right time to put this exhibit together.”

Of more than 100 photos in the book, 52 appear in the exhibit. “It brings something of the past to students, who were maybe traumatized by violence but had no visual record available of this recent history,” Nickelsberg says. “My desire was to return these images to them, to show the effect [conflict] has had on Afghans and for them to reflect on the incidents, personalities and intrigues.”

The photos, starting in 1988, span Afghanistan’s immediate post-Soviet era, the agonizing civil war of the 1990s, the period of Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, the U.S. invasion after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the present day. But in a country where almost two-thirds of the population is under 25, the images convey a history many Afghans today didn’t actually live through — either because they weren’t yet born or because their families had fled to other countries for safety during the years of conflict.

For Afghans “without an illustration of what life was like not that long ago,” Nickelsberg hopes his photos will help fill in some important blanks. “To encourage discussion, to provoke a response — that is what I had in mind,” he says.

The Intense Images Of Afghanistan’s Long And ‘Distant War’

Photos by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Troops Will Continue To Occupy Afghanistan After 2015 “Withdrawal”

With combat operations in Afghanistan ending this year, President Barack Obama announced he plans for almost 10,000 American troops to remain in the country in 2015 if the Afghan government signs a security agreement.

The announcement offered something to proponents and opponents of a continued U.S. military engagement there after more than 12 years of war – the longest in American history.

Obama called for 9,800 U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, along with some allied forces. The number would get cut roughly in half by the end of 2015, and a year later – less than a month before Obama leaves the White House – the U.S. military presence would scale down to what officials described as a “normal” embassy security contingent.

Currently, the United States has 32,000 troops in Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN, Kabul : An Afghan man carries his wounded daughter at the site of a powerful truck bomb explosion in Kabul on August 7, 2015. A powerful truck bomb killed at least seven people and wounded more than 100 others, officials said, the first major attack in the Afghan capital since the announcement of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death. AFP PHOTO / Wakil Kohsar                        

Photo © Andrea Bruce/Noor Images

Chamangul’s mother uses her headscarf to fan away flies as her son Chamangul, 12, lies on a bed at the MSF-supported Ahmad Shah Baba hospital in eastern Kabul. He has the body of a boy half his age, but his head is swollen, wrapped in bandages. His mother brought him to MSF’s mobile clinic in Puli Charki, on Kabul’s outskirts, after being turned away from hospitals in the city. The MSF doctors say he suffers from an aggressive form of sarcoma that went untreated for too long and which has rotted most of his head, an ear and an eye. The doctors say they might have been able to help had they seen him earlier, but all they can do now is ease his pain. His mother is a widow who already lost two children to the same illness and now lives with her seven surviving children in a tent surrounded by other families displaced by violence in their home districts.

From 1998 to 2011, photographer Jason Howe covered conflicts in Colombia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where he took this image of a wounded British soldier who had stepped on an IED. Though he felt an obligation to document such horrors, the constant danger and stress of the job eventually led him into a deep depression. ‘My pictures hadn’t made any difference, so I couldn’t see the point to anything,’ he says. ‘Why bother getting up? Why bother washing?’

Read more and watch a short film about Howe: War Photographer Jason Howe’s battle with PTSD, via Telegraph