The Soldiers Came Home Sick. The Government Denied It Was Responsible.

The Soldiers Came Home Sick. The Government Denied It Was Responsible.

U.S. service members and veterans have long insisted that the military’s garbage-disposal fires in war zones made them ill. Why were their claims stonewalled for so long?

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/magazine/military-burn-pits.html

A burn pit is exactly what it sounds like: A hole is dug in the ground and filled with trash, including medical waste, vehicles and plastics. Then the whole mess is doused with jet fuel and set on fire. Operated in large part by KBR, the huge contracting firm that was enriched by lucrative wartime contracts, burn pits were a ubiquitous feature of the post-Sept. 11 wars — a primitive disposal method for the tremendous loads of garbage generated by occupying forces.

Afghanistan Has Become the World’s Largest Humanitarian Crisis

Afghanistan Has Become the World’s Largest Humanitarian Crisis

Four months after the Biden Administration withdrew U.S. troops, more than twenty million Afghans are on the brink of famine.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/afghanistan-has-become-the-worlds-largest-humanitarian-crisis

The face of a commander from the southern city of Kandahar was so badly burned that his nose was a smooth, flat scar in the center of his face; a black and reddish hue covered his cheeks. His burned knuckles were frozen at right angles, making his hands look like claws. “This victory means so much—we defeated a superpower,” he said. One of his bodyguards was missing a leg. Another, who limped behind him, was missing both his left leg and his left arm. “We are so proud of our fighters,” the commander added.

The Secret History of the U.S. Diplomatic Failure in Afghanistan

The Secret History of the U.S. Diplomatic Failure in Afghanistan

A trove of unreleased documents reveals a dispiriting record of misjudgment, hubris, and delusion that led to the fall of the Western-backed government.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/12/20/the-secret-history-of-the-us-diplomatic-failure-in-afghanistan

The debates and decisions in Washington, Kabul, and Doha that preceded the Islamic Republic’s fall took place largely in private. Hundreds of pages of meeting notes, transcripts, memoranda, e-mails, and documents, as well as extensive interviews with Afghan and American officials, present a dispiriting record of misjudgment, hubris, and delusion from the very start.

Civilian Deaths Mounted as Secret Unit Pounded ISIS

Civilian Deaths Mounted as Secret Unit Pounded ISIS

An American strike cell alarmed its partners as it raced to defeat the enemy.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/us/civilian-deaths-war-isis.html

As bad strikes mounted, the four military officials said, Talon Anvil’s partners sounded the alarm. Pilots over Syria at times refused to drop bombs because Talon Anvil wanted to hit questionable targets in densely populated areas. Senior C.I.A. officers complained to Special Operations leaders about the disturbing pattern of strikes. Air Force teams doing intelligence work argued with Talon Anvil over a secure phone known as the red line. And even within Talon Anvil, some members at times refused to participate in strikes targeting people who did not seem to be in the fight.

Inside the Fall of Kabul

Inside the Fall of Kabul

Against all predictions, the Taliban took the Afghan capital in a matter of hours. This is the story of why and what came after, by a reporter and photographer who witnessed it all.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/10/magazine/fall-of-kabul-afghanistan.html

After flying for more than an hour, the three presidential helicopters arrived at the Uzbekistan border and landed; confusion ensued at the Termez airport as they were surrounded by soldiers — the Uzbek government had apparently not been informed of their arrival. Eventually, the president, his wife, Mohib and several aides were taken to the governor’s guesthouse, but the rest of the 50 or so people on board spent a miserable night out in the open by the helicopters, relieving themselves on the tarmac. The next day, a charter flight arrived and took them all to Abu Dhabi.

Who Gets to Escape the Taliban

Who Gets to Escape the Taliban

The chaotic American withdrawal forced individual soldiers, aid workers, and journalists to decide which Afghans would be saved.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/who-gets-to-escape-the-taliban

What became apparent at the gates of the Baron is that there was no American strategy for leaving Afghanistan—none that considered the future of the Afghans left behind. President Biden asserted to the press for months, at times angrily, that Kabul was not Saigon. Based on what I witnessed, he was right. It was worse.

The Other Afghan Women

The Other Afghan Women

In the countryside, the endless killing of civilians turned women against the occupiers who claimed to be helping them.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/09/13/the-other-afghan-women

Dado went even further. In March, 2003, U.S. soldiers visited Sangin’s governor—Dado’s brother—to discuss refurbishing a school and a health clinic. Upon leaving, their convoy came under fire, and Staff Sergeant Jacob Frazier and Sergeant Orlando Morales became the first American combat fatalities in Helmand. U.S. personnel suspected that the culprit was not the Taliban but Dado—a suspicion confirmed to me by one of the warlord’s former commanders, who said that his boss had engineered the attack to keep the Americans reliant on him. Nonetheless, when Dado’s forces claimed to have nabbed the true assassin—an ex-Taliban conscript named Mullah Jalil—the Americans dispatched Jalil to Guantánamo. Unaccountably, this happened despite the fact that, according to Jalil’s classified Guantánamo file, U.S. officials knew that Jalil had been fingered merely to “cover for” the fact that Dado’s forces had been “involved with the ambush.”

Biden’s Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan Is Complete

Biden’s Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan Is Complete

The U.S. has extricated its military from a two-decade-long conflict, but the country, and tens of thousands of Afghan allies, have been abandoned to the Taliban.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/bidens-chaotic-withdrawal-from-afghanistan-is-complete

A high-school teacher at an American school in Taiwan tried to fly out seven young leaders and their families. Working with others, the teacher was able to get three of the seven families out. “Only three weeks ago they were holding a conference practicing their conflict resolution and negotiation skills,” the teacher, who asked not to be named, told me. “They were the future of what was possible for Afghanistan.”

The Veterans Struggling to Save Afghan Allies

The Veterans Struggling to Save Afghan Allies

For many who served in Afghanistan, the flawed evacuation efforts have brought feelings of shame and betrayal.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-veterans-struggling-to-save-afghan-allies

“Do you understand what it’s like to have people send you messages saying, ‘You promised me you’d get me out,’ ‘I’m being hunted,’ ‘You can’t get me out,’ ‘Why are you betraying me?,’ ‘You left me behind’?” Zeller said. “Imagine now it’s someone you served with and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Can Afghanistan’s Leading Broadcaster Survive the Taliban?

Can Afghanistan’s Leading Broadcaster Survive the Taliban?

Tolo came to prominence with hard-hitting news, raucous reality shows and lurid Turkish soap operas. Now there are ominous signs that a violent media clampdown is underway.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/30/world/afghanistan-tolo-taliban.html

But journalists and human rights advocates say there are ominous signs that a violent media clampdown is underway. Taliban fighters hunted a journalist from Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster, who had already left the country, shooting dead a member of his family and seriously injuring another, according to the broadcaster.

American Purpose After the Fall of Kabul

American Purpose After the Fall of Kabul

Soldiers were told that we were champions of the rights of mankind.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/american-purpose-after-the-fall-of-kabul

The next time that feeling comes around, remember what it wrought. 9/11 unified America. It overcame partisan divides, bound us together, and gave us the sense of common purpose so lacking in today’s poisonous politics. And nothing that we have done as a nation since has been so catastrophically destructive as what we did when we were enraptured by the warm glow of victimization and felt like we could do anything, together.

As Told To: The Flight From Kabul

As Told To: The Flight From Kabul

Last week, the Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi hastily packed a few things, made it onto a flight, and watched from the airplane window as her city got smaller and smaller.

via The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/30/as-told-to-the-flight-from-kabul

I was running, and in the middle of my running some people made fun of me, especially the men: “Oh, the director of Afghan film is running! She is afraid of the Taliban! Ha ha ha!” I was surprised. Some girls were just walking. I said to them, “Why are you walking? The Taliban is coming!” And they started running, too.