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Check out my boys over at @zulufucks @zerofilmsproductions . GWOT warfighters highlighting veterans from wars past with video interviews. Check out the link in my bio to hear more details on the latest podcast featuring @zulufucks #Repost @zulufucks
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For those of you who don’t know, we began @zerofilmsproductions for one purpose, to tell untold stories of our veterans from Vietnam, Ww2 and everything in between. We began our first project “Stacked Deck: Journey of a Skytrooper” which depicts the raw and unfiltered story of a door gunner in Vietnam. More projects are in the works and we’re asking for your contribution. We started an Indiegogo campaign to get us the funds needed to continue with our mission. Perks include some awesome gears to include invitations to a private screening with ZF, Johnny and much more. Go the link and click the Zero Films tab or http://igg.me/at/zerofilms If you can’t contribute monetarily, repost and get the word. We’re here to make it right! Stay zero. #zerofilms #stayzero #veterans #neverforget @igrecon @blackguardcustoms @oafnation_actual #globalreconpodcast #Veterans #Vietnam

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Neoconservatives invented the terror war, but Obama liberalism normalized it, at which point, mainstream journalists stopped asking questions.
— 

Arun Kundnani, “The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror.”

If the war on terror was the stuff of high-profile debates about war, torture, and surveillance in the Bush years, under President Obama it became a matter of bureaucratic routine, undramatic and unopposed. Although Obama was elected on a wave of opposition to Bush’s war on terror, he then failed to take the US in a fundamentally different direction; the administration thereby effectively neutered any remaining opposition and made permanent what had been a “state of emergency.” The minor shifts that did occur were largely already in train in the closing years of the Bush administration. Obama continued along the same track with the same aim in mind: to find ways to continue projecting force in the Middle East and to maintain a national security state at home—but without the noisy and divisive political conflicts that had plagued Bush from 2003 onward. Thus, the US military occupation of Iraq was wound down while the war in Afghanistan, where the number of US troops was trebled, was presented as the “good war.” The number of prisoners at Guantánamo was decreased by around a third, but the 171 who remained were slated for indefinite detention in what was now a permanent internment camp. Speaking in Cairo in 2009, Obama attempted to draw a line through the clash of civilizations imagery of the post-9/11 period and offered instead a picture of respectful dialogue between cultures. But he did so without offering any of the changes in US foreign policy that would give such rhetoric substance. The PATRIOT Act was renewed and the state secrets doctrine was invoked to protect Bush-era officials from prosecution for their torture policy. Extraordinary rendition was wound down, while extrajudicial killings were stepped up. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called it the “new normal.” The very banality of counterterrorism discourse secured its ideological power much more effectively than the confrontational rewriting-the-rules strategy of the Bush years.

10

In Kirsten Johnson’s The Above a U.S. military surveillance balloon floats on a tether high above Kabul, Afghanistan. Its capacities are both highly classified and deeply mysterious.

In an interview, the director notes: 

I was informally told by the PR person at the[American] embassy that I didn’t have the right to shoot it. And I was like oh, wow, I’m not allowed to shoot the sky? Really? Even though it’s in every one of my shots? Then I started asking people on the street what they thought it was, and what it meant to them. People said things like, “It can see underground.” “It can see underneath burqas.” To some people it was feeling like a transgression in their lives. Then other people totally didn’t care. They thought it was completely ineffective. That god is much more powerful than this little thing in the sky. So there was a huge spectrum of responses to it. I’ve long been a person who’s thought about what Foucault wrote about Jeremy Bentham and the Panopticon, and these institutions where you create setups for people feeling like they’re being watched all the time, even if they’re not necessarily being watched all the time. When I was working on a film in Sudan, every day we had to check in and talk about what we planned to film, but they would also have a list of what we’d filmed the day before — they knew everywhere we were. It was such a revelation that surveillance states can operate without technology, too. Everybody’s in on the deal.

In October 2001, when bombs started dropping, the military also dropped aid packages. Humanitarianism as a concept died during that mash-up between aid and the military. The military builds schools so they look like humanitarians. Meanwhile, humanitarian organisations were more interested in keeping the donor money flowing than serving the Afghan people, though there were some exceptions.

I came to realise to what extent neo-liberal agendas are part of the aid industry, and thus also of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Neo-liberal agendas are fundamentally changing what it means to be a widow. Afghans would suddenly say things to widows like, “why don’t they go and work?” I had never seen this before in Afghanistan. It is because programmes for gender-mainstreaming were focussed on jobs. The only concept of helping widows was making them work. Of course there were widows who wanted to work, saying it kept them busy, etc. But if this is the only form of care you are going to get, it fundamentally alters so much, and it’s ultimately a neo-liberal, neoconservative agenda — while social institutions like Islamic charity are being rendered irrelevant and/or suspect. In America, it’s greatly problematic and everywhere else too, but here is a country that has been subjected to serial war. There are ultimately very few programmes that reflect any understanding of how to implement projects to people who have been subjected to serial war, and that coincide with sensibilities of people who consider themselves to be Muslims.

Donors insist that in order to improve the country, Afghans need to be productive in a market economy — but wouldn’t it be more productive if there was no war? You are telling Afghans to be productive as if they wouldn’t know how to. They have survived and managed against all odds, which I would certainly consider productive (many people in other parts of the world would not be able to manage or even relate to this).

Aid workers are implementing a five-million dollar gender programme but unable to meet Afghan women — other than the woman who serves tea, due to security protocols. Many international aid organisations wanted to primarily employ women, even if less qualified, to encourage gender equality. Yet, for an Afghan woman to work in an office staffed with males sparked suspicion and created tensions in many families. People who make these programmes are clueless about the dynamics in Afghan families — many brothers are suspicious as only their sisters are “targeted” for employment by international gender equality initiatives. Donors are only interested in the numbers of women employed, little else.

— 

Anita Daulatzai - “Humanitarianism is as culpable as war”

Many activists were tempted by attractive international salaries, and work according to the agenda of the occupation. I don’t blame them, but there is no indigenous Afghan feminist movement any more. Similar with the few academics (Afghans and otherwise), anthropologists are working for the U.S. state, and others, as policymakers. The money is certainly lucrative but Afghanistan lost its scholars, and there is little to no effort to produce more. It certainly is overwhelming. Liberal humanitarianism exists in the form of Fulbright scholarships to talented Afghans and supports study in the U.S., yet it creates more neo-liberal policy bureaucrats. They will not be Afghan intellectuals, they will be neo-liberal bureaucrats.

muftah.org
Female Drone Operators Are Not a Feminist Victory
Female drone operators are not feminist victories, because they hurt women's lives by endangering their family members.

I wrote for Muftah: 

Far removed from notions of democracy, accountability, and rule of law, America’s drone strike program has ironically been justified in part by a moral mandate, namely protecting and saving “oppressed” women. Indeed, the war in Afghanistan was similarly justified as a crusade to liberate Afghan women from Afghan men. In Maurer’s article, [female drone operator] Sparkle claims she kills her targets, all of whom are men, because of how they treat “their women.”

Of course, these excuses are undermined by the actual consequences of the Global War on Terror. Living in a patriarchal society is undeniably oppressive, but it is no less devastating than losing loved ones to violence – or being killed oneself. While it is impossible to know the exact number of female victims of drone warfare, women have undoubtedly been casualties of these crimes – stories about weddings turned into massacres by drone strikes make this clear. If Afghan men are oppressive because they inflict violence against Afghan women, then so too are American women who do the same.

The Global War on Terror’s imperialism has also created its own set of far-reaching and oppressive dynamics, stripping women, as well as the rest of the population, of their self-determination and sense of safety. Far from being “surgically precise,” the effects of drone strikes reach far beyond the people they—intentionally or unintentionally, justifiably or unjustifiably—kill; the psychological terror they cause affects entire populations, women included. One study … found that populations in places like Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan have experienced significant PTSD and “anticipatory anxiety,” in response to and in anticipation of drone strikes.

If living under a patriarchal gaze is oppressive, so to is living under constant surveillance, under circumstances where your location or who you happen to be with is enough to end your life.

Fourteen years of wars, interventions, assassinations, torture, kidnappings, black sites, the growth of the American national security state to monumental proportions, and the spread of Islamic extremism across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa. Fourteen years of astronomical expense, bombing campaigns galore, and a military-first foreign policy of repeated defeats, disappointments, and disasters. Fourteen years of a culture of fear in America, of endless alarms and warnings, as well as dire predictions of terrorist attacks. Fourteen years of the burial of American democracy (or rather its recreation as a billionaire’s playground and a source of spectacle and entertainment but not governance). Fourteen years of the spread of secrecy, the classification of every document in sight, the fierce prosecution of whistleblowers, and a faith-based urge to keep Americans “secure” by leaving them in the dark about what their government is doing. Fourteen years of the demobilization of the citizenry. Fourteen years of the rise of the warrior corporation, the transformation of war and intelligence gathering into profit-making activities, and the flocking of countless private contractors to the Pentagon, the NSA, the CIA, and too many other parts of the national security state to keep track of. Fourteen years of our wars coming home in the form of PTSD, the militarization of the police, and the spread of war-zone technology like drones and stingrays to the “homeland.” Fourteen years of that un-American word “homeland.” Fourteen years of the expansion of surveillance of every kind and of the development of a global surveillance system whose reach—from foreign leaders to tribal groups in the backlands of the planet—would have stunned those running the totalitarian states of the twentieth century. Fourteen years of the financial starvation of America’s infrastructure and still not a single mile of high-speed rail built anywhere in the country. Fourteen years in which to launch Afghan War 2.0, Iraq Wars 2.0 and 3.0, and Syria War 1.0. Fourteen years, that is, of the improbable made probable.
— 

14 Years After 9/11, the War on Terror Is Accomplishing Everything bin Laden Hoped It Would

Fourteen years later, don’t you still find it improbable that George W. Bush and company used those murderous acts and the nearly 3,000 resulting deaths as an excuse to try to make the world theirs? It took them no time at all to decide to launch a “Global War on Terror” in up to 60 countries. It took them next to no time to begin dreaming of the establishment of a future Pax Americana in the Middle East, followed by the sort of global imperium that had previously been conjured up only by cackling bad guys in James Bond films. Don’t you find it strange, looking back, just how quickly 9/11 set their brains aflame? Don’t you find it curious that the Bush administration’s top officials were quite so infatuated by the US military? Doesn’t it still strike you as odd that they had such blind faith in that military’s supposedly limitless powers to do essentially anything and be “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known”? Don’t you still find it eerie that, amid the wreckage of the Pentagon, the initial orders our secretary of defense gave his aides were to come up with plans for striking Iraq, even though he was already convinced that Al Qaeda had launched the attack? (“‘Go massive,’ an aide’s notes quote him as saying. ‘Sweep it all up. Things related and not.’”) Don’t you think “and not” sums up the era to come? Don’t you find it curious that, in the rubble of those towers, plans not just to pay Osama bin Laden back, but to turn Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly Iran—“Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran”—into American protectorates were already being imagined?

Fourteen years later, how probable was it that the country then universally considered the planet’s “sole superpower,” openly challenged only by tiny numbers of jihadist extremists, with a military better funded than the next 10 to 13 forces combined (most of whom were allies anyway), and whose technological skills were, as they say, to die for would win no wars, defeat no enemies, and successfully complete no occupations? What were the odds?

….

In these years, no act—not of torture, nor murder, nor the illegal offshore imprisonment of innocent people, nor death delivered from the air or the ground, nor the slaughter of wedding parties, nor the killing of children—has blunted the sense among Americans that we live in an “exceptional” and “indispensable” country of staggering goodness and innocence. Fourteen years later, how improbable is that?