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Afghanistan: Why we should be there (or not), how to conduct the mission (or not) & when to leave

Terry Glavin
in the National Post:

Our Generation's Spanish Civil War

The conclusion:

The British linguist and historian Fred Halliday sets this historic "antiwar" misjudgment in these terms: "To my mind, Afghanistan is central to the history of the left, and to the history of the world since the 1980s. It is to the early 21st century, to the years we're now living through, what the Spanish Civil War was to Europe in the mid-and late-20th century."

What this means is that the heirs and successors of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion -- the brave Canadian volunteers who went to Spain to fight Franco's fascists -- are to be found today not in the main ranks of the left, but among the courageous young men and women of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Vandoos and all those other Canadian regiments that are holding the banner high in Afghanistan.

It means that Canadian soldiers, and not Canada's "anti-war" politicians and polemicists, are at the vanguard of the historic mission of the left. I would have been proud of those soldiers anyway, but as someone who counts himself among the left-wing founders of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee,
I am doubly proud of them.

We have work to do in Afghanistan. We must fight on.

As for ISAF command in RC South:

The Pentagon says the agreement on command of NATO operations in southern Afghanistan, which it announced Wednesday, is not finalized. But officials still hope the plan will be approved. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says he was "too emphatic" when he announced the agreement Wednesday. He had said the United States reached agreement with the Netherlands and Britain for those countries to each command the southern Afghanistan effort for a year, starting in November when Canada ends its rotation.

On Thursday, he told reporters it is not "a done deal." Rather, Morrell says Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his British and Dutch counterparts have agreed on the plan, but "it still needs to be approved by the Dutch and British governments," and by the NATO alliance [emphasis added]. He said he does not see any reason for the plan not to be approved...

...the United States will not be in command in the key area until more than two years into the expected tenure of General David Petraeus as the head of U.S. Central Command. The command oversees all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, except for the part of the Afghan operation that is run by NATO. Some analysts had hoped General Petraeus might be given more authority in Afghanistan, in order to apply the counterinsurgency experience he gained as commander in Iraq...

Thought everyone would like a chance to pick apart each of the nine (highlights mine) - shared with the usual disclaimer...

Nine reasons to oppose the war in Afghanistan
Canadians should call on the federal government to withdraw from the conflict zone.

Rev Fred Cappuccino, Straight Goods web page, 26 May 08
Article link - .pdf version

[Editor's Note: this article is excerpted from a speech Rev Cappuccino gave at Algonquin College in Ottawa.]

I'd like to suggest nine reasons that Canadian Unitarians should oppose the Afghan War:

  1. The current shaky regime is not worthy of defending with Canadian lives.

      The current parliament of Afghanistan does have a token group of women — about 27. But the vast majority are drug barons. Thirty-four seats are led by one Hekmatyar Gulbuddin, 1 who, according to The Nation magazine, got his start throwing acid at women. He got 600 million dollars from the Americans. It is true that today in some areas girls are going to school, but that is only in some areas. Harmid Karzai's government rules only Kabul. 

  2. From what I read, we are not winning the war, and we cannot win. The military ever tend to be over-optimistic. Warfare for some is a kind of play activity — a sport.

  3. Rather than discouraging the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the war seems to be furthering Islamic fundamentalism, which is outstripping the secular forces in Turkey, Egypt, and elsewhere. The reason perhaps is that fundamentalism is the only effective way people can resist US domination.

      The prophet Hosea said, "For they have sown the wind; they shall reap the whirlwind."

  4. If I am not mistaken, about a third of our returning veterans are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS). Not only that, but apparently the Canadian Government is turning a deaf ear to their claims for medical treatment. The government offers weak reasons like, "Sorry — you weren't there long enough — you don't qualify."

      How many Americans died in Vietnam? Somewhere around 50,000. But an astounding result of that war is that of the veterans who returned, many more than 50,000 committed suicide! Why would these young men and women commit suicide? Maybe because they suffered PTSS and could not find treatment.

  5. Our own news media don't have access to the war zones. We don't know — really — what our young men and women are being asked to do. We hope they are not as bad as the American woman soldier who with an attack dog was threatening a naked prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Now, this was likely a result of the indoctrination she received, but unfortunately she was the one who was blamed. Without press coverage, we don't know.

      Can we assume that Canadian personnel are different? Perhaps they are, but we do have the example of torture of prisoners by Canadian soldiers in Somalia. War does strange things to people, especially if there are no media to monitor the events.

  6. Canadians are less safe overseas. My wife Bonnie has been travelling in Asia for some 36 years. In most government offices she visited, they loved Canada. "Oh, you're from Canada! Come right in!" Bonnie was proud of our reputation as a country who led the world in peace-keeping. She felt safe as a Canadian. She saw American travellers with Canadian flags on their backpacks. They felt safer.

      But that all changed when Canada was dragged into George Bush's Afghan War. Canada has lost something very precious. Canadians overseas are now lumped together with what many see as war-mongering Americans.

      Arundhati Roy is the Indian author who wrote The God of Small Things. In a later book she points out that "since World War II the United States has been at war with, or has attacked... Korea, Guatemala, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan." That's sixteen countries. We can add the Philippines, Lebanon, Iran, Kosovo and Bosnia — and even that list doesn't include other countries where the CIA has covertly wreaked havoc. Some might possibly apply the term war-mongering to the US.

  7. The war is brutalizing the Canadian people. When General Hillier was criticized for turning prisoners over to Afghanistan officials to be tortured, Hillier's reply was, "Look, we are not babysitters."

      Large numbers of Canadians now say, "Well, perhaps torture is okay if it can save Canadian lives." What about the presumption of innocence? What about due process?

  8. Because of the war mentality, Canadians are losing our civil liberties. It is always in the name of patriotism that freedoms are suppressed.

      Many of you are too young to remember the Dark Days of Senator Joe McCarthy. Back in the States we were really scared. A Methodist minister colleague was jailed for refusing to give names of people who attended his summer camp. My name was certainly on various government lists of dangerous people. Apparently I'm not yet on a no-fly list.

      We tend to forget Marshal Goering's statement after he was captured: "When a government wants to assume absolute power, they just point to an external threat. It works with any type of government."

      In Canada people are being harassed and intimidated. Just one example:

      The high school age daughter of family friends organized about a dozen of her pals to demonstrate on Parliament Hill in support of Tibet — at a time when the Chinese community had several thousand demonstrating in support of China. Later on she was called on her cell phone by the RCMP, who wanted to question her. She said, "Well, I'm on my way to work." They picked her up anyhow and took her away in a black van and questioned her:

      "Who was the organizer of your demonstration?"

      She said, "I organized it myself."

      "No, you're too young to do that. Tell us really who organized it?"

      "I organized it."

      "Why didn't you have a permit?"

      "I didn't know we had to have a permit."

      "Give us the names and phone numbers of the others in the demonstration."

      "No, I won't give you any names."

      "You realize that doing this kind of thing can go on your record, and you might have difficulty getting a job in the future."

      After about an hour of grilling she was released.

      My understanding is that the police are not supposed to interrogate a minor without a parent present.

  9. Canada is spending billions on war that should be going to our children's medicare and education. Ontario is talking about a lack of trained workers — a severe lack of nurses.

      The only winners to the Afghan and Iraq wars are the multi-millionaires who hide behind the names of their oil corporations and munitions companies.

      What then should we do?

      First, don't take my word for it that the Afghan War is a horrendous tragic mistake. Study it yourself. If we agree that the war is a huge boondoggle, then let's not be quiet bystanders. Canadian Unitarians, as individuals, as social action groups, as congregations, should become known as people who take a stand on the most important issue of our time.

      There is precedent. When the Vietnam War was in full swing, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers, outlining the real story of the horrendous things Americans were doing in Vietnam. Unitarians, through our Beacon Press, printed the whole thing. This was an illegal act. While the government was pondering whether to jail the Unitarian national Board of Directors, the New York Times took courage and also printed the Pentagon Papers. Unitarians played a huge role in turning the tide against the Vietnam War.

      Some time ago I was on a committee doing a Vigil for Peace in a United Church. Five hundred peace marchers were coming down from Parliament Hill. We had a dozen speakers scheduled to speak for three minutes each. My job was to seat them in the choir loft, in the order of their speaking, so as to save time getting them to the pulpit. I had their names neatly placed on the choir chairs. One woman came in, and sat down in the wrong place. I made small talk with her, and then said, "Well, um — your seat is over here."

      She looked at me and said, "It's all right. I'm an anarchist." My quick and agile mind considered several possible responses. But, in the end, I just laughed. I have always been intimidated by the weaker sex. Her name was Laurel Smith, from Vancouver Homes Not Bombs. In her 3-minute speech she had the entire audience standing and cheering. Anarchists of the world, unite!

Rev Fred and wife Bonnie Cappuccino are founders and directors of Child Haven International, which operates eight homes for destitute children and women in India, Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh. They have been married 37 years with two biological sons, and have adopted and brought up 19 boys and girls from 11 countries, most of them in the Far East. They have received the Order of Canada and UNESCO's prestigious Honorable Mention "for the teaching of human rights," the first time that this honor has been bestowed on Canadians. Fred usually blames everything they have done on Bonnie. They live near Maxville, Ontario.
Seems okay to me...  ;D

...well, except for #8.  It's actually because of the Canadian Human Rights Council that we're losing our civil liberties.

Un-believable!  Where to start?
From what I read it seems, if I am not mistaken, we don't - really - know what the Reverend Fred's motives are and where his support comes from.  Sheesh.  ::)
Some of his points have merit (it is somewhat more hazardous for Canadians to travel abroad these days...but that's because it's just generally more hazardous to travel, thanks, in part, to the very people we're fighting in Afghanistan).  But some are just dumb.  Like #2...

"From what I read, we are not winning the war, and we cannot win. The military ever tend to be over-optimistic. Warfare for some is a kind of play activity — a sport."


"From what I read."  Read where?  And written by whom?  Hardly indicative of thorough research, is it?

"We are not winning the war".  By what measure?  The April 21 issue of Macleans Magazine has quite a good article contending that development in southern Afghanistan is proceeding apace, and that concerns are starting to shift among the local population from security to more pragmatic matters like irrigation and road-building.

"We cannot win".  Again, by what measure?  Why not?  If winning means creating the conditions for the people of Afghanistan to get on with their lives while ensuring their own security and some degree of prosperity, then that's entirely achievable.  If "winning" means defeating the Taliban utterly and irrevocably in a military sense, well...maybe not so much.  But that's not the best way to defeat the Taliban in the long run, is it?  The Macleans article does a pretty good job of showing how the Taliban get less and less traction, the more confident the population becomes (which is generally how you defeat any insurgency).

"The military tends to be over-optimistic...a play activity--a sport".  Well, yeah, maybe the military is sometimes a little over-optimistic...but show me any corporate body that isn't from time to time.  However, what this really shows that the good Reverend knows very little about soldiers and certainly hasn't bothered to get to know any very well.  There are few as opposed to war as those who have engaged in it.  I know LOTS of soldiers who have been to Afghanistan, as well as Croatia, Bosnia, Haiti...US soldiers who have been to Iraq...older fellows who fought in Korea and the Second World War.  I know essentially NONE of them who say it as a "play activity" or a "sport".  I sure didn't see it that way when I was overseas.  At this point, the Reverend really falls into the ditch and shows this to be a op-ed piece, without any real substance behind it.

The rest of it...meh, it's not worth investing time in "dissecting", because it's just one man's opinion (to which democracy entitles him...ain't it grand?)
Pipeline opens new front in Afghan war
Canadian role in Kandahar may heat up as allies agree on U.S.-backed energy route through land-mine zones and Taliban hot spots
SHAWN MCCARTHY From Thursday's Globe and Mail June 19, 2008 at 2:30 AM EDT
Article Link

OTTAWA — Afghanistan and three of its neighbouring countries have agreed to build a $7.6-billion (U.S.) pipeline that would deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan to energy-starved Pakistan and India – a project running right through the volatile Kandahar province – raising questions about what role Canadian Forces may play in defending the project.

To prepare for proposed construction in 2010, the Afghan government has reportedly given assurances it will clear the route of land mines, and make the path free of Taliban influence.

In a report to be released Thursday, energy economist John Foster says the pipeline is part of a wider struggle by the United States to counter the influence of Russia and Iran over energy trade in the region.

The so-called Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline has strong support from Washington because the U.S. government is eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran.
More on link
Damian Penny at Daimnation!:

On second thought, don't help to reconstruct Afghanistan

MY comments giving some details of the gas pipeline project the Globe somehow managed to overlook until now, and on the paper's "journalism":

Not this again.  There's no pipeline.  There may be a plan for a plan for a pipeline, but nothing more...  See here:


Even buried within the story itself is this gem:

But Dr. Blank – who has written extensively on energy-related geopolitics in the region – said he doesn't believe the TAPI pipeline will be built any time soon due to security concerns.

...not to mention a need for a firm contract, funding, a Pakistan-India rapprochement, surveys and the myriad other things that need to be done before a pipeline could even be considered.

Of course, no amount of emperical data will allay the vast array of consipacies out there.  The G&M comments section is already filled with "gotcha" comments, saying that this story "proves" that our involvement in Afghanistan is indeed about "oil".  ::)

Given the sensitivies surrounding this subject, one would have hoped that the "journalist" (and his editors) concerned would have properly researched this piece before publishing.  Then again, I suspect that my expectations of the media remain too high.

Perhaps it's time for an Obama-like "fight the smears" website on Afghanistan aimed at an increasingly gullible public and the growing class of conspiracy theorists...

C'mon, now, how else would the foil hat brigade continue their conspiracy talk?  Can't wait for the "oil pipeline as proof of hegemony" folks to pipe up...  ::)

Teddy Ruxpin said:
[...not to mention a need for a firm contract, funding, a Pakistan-India rapprochement, surveys and the myriad other things that need to be done before a pipeline could even be considered.

And Pakistan would actually have to do something about the Taliban operating from their territory. 
No military solution in Afghanistan
Political and economic development are the keys to combating al-Qaida along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

It appears there is only one kind of news coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan these days: bad news. Violence and casualties are up, military options are down and al-Qaida has moved into a new safe haven across the Pakistani border. Seven years is a long time to be fighting to be back at square one. Whether out of necessity or innovation, it is time that American and European strategy in the region lessen its reliance on military force as its primary instrument and pursue a more robust political and economic development programme that can enable Afghanistan and Pakistan to reach a more sustainable and secure future.


The media said the same thing about Iraq.There is a military solution but it will take time and it will take a much larger Afghan Army.Do we in the west have the patience for this fight ?
I took this explanation of Canadian views on he Boer War from the Canadian War Museum’s web site:

“While many English-Canadians supported Britain's cause in South Africa, most French-Canadians and many recent immigrants from countries other than Britain wondered why Canada should fight in a war half way around the world. Concerned with maintaining national stability and political popularity, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier did not want to commit his government. Yet the bonds of Empire were strong and public pressure mounted. As a compromise, Laurier agreed to send a battalion of volunteers to South Africa.”

With only minor amendments is works for Afghanistan, too:

While many English-Canadians supported Britain's America’s cause in South Africa Afghanistan, most French-Canadians and many recent immigrants from countries other than Britain wondered why Canada should fight in a war half way around the world. Concerned with maintaining national stability and political popularity, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier Jean Chrétien did not want to commit his government. Yet the bonds of Empire were strong and public pressure mounted. As a compromise, Laurier Chrétien agreed to send a battalion of volunteers battle group to South Africa Afghanistan. Later, Prime Minister Paul Martin expanded the mission and moved the Canadians to Kandahar province.

Cleaned up, it reads:

While many English-Canadians supported America’s cause in Afghanistan, most French-Canadians and many recent immigrants wondered why Canada should fight in a war half way around the world. Concerned with maintaining national stability and political popularity, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien did not want to commit his government. Yet the bonds were strong and public pressure mounted. As a compromise, Chrétien agreed to send a battle group to Afghanistan. Later, Prime Minister Paul Martin expanded the mission and moved the Canadians to Kandahar province.

Plus ça change and all that!

Good comparison, Edward.  Maybe there should have been a part about in 1899 there was a seditious decenter who was arrested and hanged.  The modern counterpart would be Jack Layton being given all the camera time he wants.  :p
Obama urges focus on Afghanistan

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, on a visit to Kabul, has said Afghanistan should be the main focus of the "war on terror".

Speaking during his first trip to the country, Mr Obama called the situation in Afghanistan "precarious and urgent".

Earlier, in talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he vowed to fight terror "with vigour".

Mr Obama's trip is part of a tour that will also include Iraq, other parts of the Middle East and Europe.

"We have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent and I believe this has to be the central focus, the central front, in the battle against terrorism," Mr Obama said in an interview with the CBS programme "Face the Nation".

More troops

He said President George W Bush's administration had allowed itself to be distracted by a "war of choice" but now was the time to correct the mistake.

Mr Obama said the US needed to start planning to send in more troops. He has called for an extra one to two brigades to be sent to Afghanistan.

Rival presidential hopeful John McCain has criticised him for announcing a strategy before visiting the region.

Earlier, in talks with President Karzai, Mr Obama vowed to fight terror "with vigour".

Mr Obama, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and Democrat Senator Jack Reed also discussed the drugs trade and US-Afghan ties with Mr Karzai, officials said.

Mr Obama is later expected to visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain.

Correspondents say the Illinois senator is hoping to boost his foreign policy and security credentials, seen as the weakest aspects of his bid to win the presidency in November's election.

Opinion polls suggest Americans regard Mr McCain, Republican senator for Arizona, as a better potential commander-in-chief.

'Shared experiences'

The senators spent almost two hours in talks with Mr Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul, officials said.

A spokesman for Mr Karzai, Humayun Hamidzada, told reporters the senators had pledged continued strong ties with Afghanistan no matter which party won the US election.

He said the discussions had been at a "broad level", rather than going into detail, and had focused on the challenges facing Afghanistan and the region, including terror, the illegal drugs trade and corruption.

Mr Obama had conveyed "his commitment to... supporting Afghanistan and to continue the war against terrorism with vigour", Mr Hamidzada said.

Mr Obama, on his first visit to Afghanistan, made no public comment after the lunch meeting.

The three senators had earlier talked to US troops over breakfast inside Camp Eggers in Kabul.

"They sat with the soldiers, shared stories with the soldiers about what is going on in Afghanistan... shared experiences," said US military spokesman Lt Col Dave Johnson.

In an interview with CNN last week, Mr Obama criticised Mr Karzai's government, saying it had "not gotten out of the bunker" and had done too little to rebuild the country's institutions.

However, asked ahead of his visit what message he would convey to Afghan and Iraqi leaders, Mr Obama said: "I'm more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking."


Terry Glavin lets fly:

The Unbearable Idiocy of Certain American "Foreign Policy" Wonks

Have a glance at Conn Hallinan's "Afghanistan: Not a Good War"
in Foreign Policy in Focus and you will be subjected to an almost pornographic illustration of the craven, shallow and moronic habits of mind that prevail within what passes for the intellectual content of American "anti-war" polemics.

All in aid of the case for abandoning the Afghan people by simply assembling the more powerful nation-state powers in the region and cutting a deal with the Taliban, the column begins with a revisionist straw man, ends with a silly and meaningless platitude, and in between, almost every paragraph contains a non-sequitur, a logical fallacy, or an embarrassing, transparent error. It's simply so bad, so shallow, so wrong and so stupid, one wonders where to start...

Read on.

I might add that, contrary to what Mr Hallinan writes, the Taliban did not exist when the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989 and the US had nothing to do with their creation. The Taliban only emerged, in Pakistan with ISI help, in the early 90s during the Afghan civil war, in which the US had very little involvement. Moreover the US had no direct links with bin Laden (see Ghost Wars, Steve Coll). While the Taliban did not attack the US, they allowed bin Laden to do so, and several times: the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings, the USS Cole, 9/11.

Then there's the unconquerable Afghan myth .
Tripe indeed.

Something is really starting to bother me: Every time a soldier is KIA in Afghanistan, I see threads of condolence on a few other websites just as on this site. However, unlike this site, the others generally have a group of idiots who respond with comments like "our troops shouldn't be there", "this has to stop", "bring them home NOW", "what a waste of life", "they died for nothing", etc., etc.  Personally, I think that the R.I.P. threads and the debate re: Afghanistan should be separate, as they are here (and this is the only site where I've seen it done successfully). What is wrong with people? What part of 'paying your respects' do they not understand?  :mad:

Good article in the New York Times. This is just the last page but the link will take you to the full article.
Our mission in Afghanistan involves many factors in accomplishing the "latest" stated mission goals, some of which are a strong Afghan army and police.

Right at the Edge

Published: September 5, 2008
(Page 11 of 11)

Fighting in Afghanistan, Abu Omar said, was a hit-and-miss, sometimes tedious affair: once across the border, he and the other fighters sat inside another safe house for two days, waiting for word to launch their attack. Finally, Abu Omar’s commander told them that there were too many American and Afghan soldiers about and that they would have to return to Pakistan.

The Times's Dexter Filkins on the recent regrouping and strengthening of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in remote areas of Pakistan. (mp3)The second time, the mission worked. Crossing into Kunar once more, Abu Omar and the other fighters attacked a line of Afghan army check posts just inside the border. Omar put his heavy machine gun to good use, he said, and four of the posts were overrun. “We killed seven Afghan soldiers,” he claimed. “Unfortunately, there were no Americans.”
Their attack successful, Abu Omar and his comrades trekked back across the Pakistani border. The sun was just rising. The fighters saw a Pakistani checkpoint and headed straight for it.
“They gave us some water,” he said of the Pakistani border guards. “And then we continued on our way.”

VII. The Rose Garden

From the Rose Garden of the White House, you could just make out the profile of the Pakistani prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, sitting across from President Bush inside the Oval Office. It was Gilani’s first official visit and, by all accounts, not a typical one. That same day, July 28, as Gilani’s plane neared the United States, a Predator drone had fired a missile into a compound in South Waziristan, killing Abu Khabab al-Masri, an Al Qaeda poison and bombing expert. The hit was a significant one, and Al Qaeda posted a eulogy to al-Masri on the Internet a couple of days later. Gilani, according to the American analyst who was briefed by officials, knew nothing of the incident when he arrived in Washington. “They just did it,” the analyst said. The Americans pressed Gilani, telling him that his military and security services were out of his control and that they posed a threat to Pakistan and to American forces in Afghanistan.

At the Rose Garden, though, appearances were kept up in grand style. Bush and Gilani strode from the Oval Office side by side. Gilani laughed as the two leaders stopped to face the assembled reporters. Over to the side, to the right of the reporters, the senior members of Bush’s foreign-policy team had gathered, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, John Negroponte.

“Pakistan is a strong ally and a vibrant democracy,” Bush said. “We talked about the common threat we face: extremists who are very dangerous people. We talked about the need for us to make sure that the Afghan border is secure as best as possible: Pakistan has made a very strong commitment to that.”

“Thank you,” Gilani said, hesitating, looking at Bush. “Now?”

“Please, yes, absolutely,” the president said.

Gilani played his part. “We are committed to fight against those extremists and terrorists who are destroying and making the world not safe,” Gilani said. “There are few militants — they are hand-picked people, militants, who are disturbing this peace,” he concluded. “And I assured Mr. President we’ll work together for democracy and for the prosperity and peace of the world.”

And then the two men walked together back into the White House, with Rice and Negroponte trailing after them.

Dexter Filkins, a correspondent for The Times, reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1997 to 2002. He is the author of ‘‘The Forever War.’’