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Afghanistan

The Takeaway

Errol Morris on Soldiers Posing With Dead Civilians

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The world has been shocked by three photographs released by German magazine Der Spiegel. The photos depict dead civilians in Afghanistan and U.S. Soldiers who are accused of killing them for sport. Part of a self-designated “Kill Team,” the soldiers appear to be making fun of their victims. In one, a soldier smiles as he holds up the head of a civilian corpse. In another, two dead civilians appear to be tied at the wrists. The U.S. Army has released a statement calling the soldiers’ actions “repugnant,” and assuring the public that prosecution is underway. But will this be enough to stem the tide of what appears to be another Abu Ghraib?

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Former ABC journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the true story of Kamila Sidiqi, an Afghan woman who started a dressmaking business, earning enough to eventually support her and her five siblings. In The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Lemmon recounts Sidiqi’s story: She was banned from teaching and confined to her home when the Taliban rose to power, so she created an alternative career for herself.

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The Takeaway

Rolling Stone: Army Uses Psy-Ops on US Senators

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Writing for Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings says that the Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers to "manipulate visiting senators into providing more funding for the war." The senators knew that they were going to be spun, says Hastings, but the question is to what degree this was appropriate or legal. This group was under the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell in Afghanistan; when soldiers spoke out against the order, they were ignored.

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WNYC News

NY National Guard Looks to Document Soldiers' Stories for History's Sake

Friday, February 18, 2011

WNYC

A history project that seeks to chronicle the stories of New York Army National Guard soldiers and veterans who've served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is getting underway.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Opium Wars

Friday, February 18, 2011

Robert Draper, National Geographic magazine contributing writer, talks about Afghanistan's opium war and why weaning Afghan farmers off growing poppies is a key step to securing peace in the region. His article, “Opium Wars,” appears in the February issue of National Geographic.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Battle for Marjah

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ben Anderson, director of the documentary “The Battle for Marjah,” talks about the historic battle in Afghanistan. U.S. Marines launched Afghanistan: Operation Moshtarak, the biggest operation since the start of the Afghanistan war. The main target was the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, a town in Helmand province, in February 2010. Anderson spent two months with the American forces, and offers an intimate look at the brutal realities of modern-day warfare. “The Battle for Marjah” airs on February 17, at 9:00 pm, on HBO.

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The Takeaway

'The Great Game: Afghanistan' Performed for the Pentagon

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The audience at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, D.C. usually buys tickets for Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. But today’s performance — and the audience in line to see it — is completely different. In 2009, London’s Tricycle Theater performed “The Great Game: Afghanistan,” a seven-hour series of twelve plays commissioned by the theater’s director, Nicholas Kent. Last October, the Pentagon requested that Kent bring the play to Washington for two special performances. "The Great Game: Afghanistan" opens today for an audience that includes Pentagon staff, Afghan war veterans and President Obama’s advisers on Afghanistan

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The Takeaway

Defining Our Enemies, Defining Ourselves

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From Germany in World War I to Germany and Japan in World War II, to the Taliban and Al-Qaida today, the faces of America’s enemies have shifted over time. But how we define our enemies defines our nation in turn. We assume to be what they are not. How has this pattern affected the way nations see themselves and each other?

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Transportation Nation

From Aid to Trade in Afghanistan: How the U.S. Military is Helping Develop Rail

Monday, January 24, 2011

(Matt Dellinger - Transportation Nation) Winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan might involve building roads and rail. That's the idea behind the Silk Road Initiative, an effort that the American military is leading to improve infrastructure and stimulate trade in the region.

Colonel Ted Hodgson, who is on staff at US Central Command, is a member of the Afghan Future Working group, which formed about a year ago. Colonel Hodgson (who appeared this morning on The Takeaway) rattles off a number of telling statistics: only 7% or the roads in Afghanistan are paved; about 90% of crops there rot before they make it to market; the country is rich in coal and mineral deposits, but without rail those resources are virtually moot. Last summer, a 75-kilometer rail line opened from the country's northern border to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif—the first rail line in the nation's history—but more track is needed, and the Afghanis need training on how to operate and maintain a railroad.

December 5, 2010: A train rests on the new track built from the border of Uzbekistan to just beyond Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. The new track is more than 75 kms long and provides Afghan traders the means of importing and exporting goods. (Photo by Army Sgt. Michael Reinsch, IJC Public Affairs)

CENTCOM's belief is that stimulating economic activity is crucial to creating stability and relative piece in Afghanistan, according to Colonel Hodgson. The Silk Road Initiative, he says, is very much in keeping with the doctrine of Counterinsurgency and has been encouraged by General David Petraeus. But the American military isn't going to do the building, Hodgson says. He came to New York to present the rail plan (and a map of mineral resources) to representatives of international banks, construction companies, and governmental transportation agencies at a conference sponsored by the global infrustructure consultancy CG/LA.

Here is a full transcript of our conversation:

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The Takeaway

In Afghanistan, Fighting for Infrastructure

Monday, January 24, 2011

Transportation infrastructure is key to any country's economic success; Afghanistan is no exception. While the U.S. has made significant headway in helping Afghan officials develop roads, bridges and public transportation, Col. Ted Hodgson says much more can and should be done. Col. Hodgson works for the logistics directorate at U.S. Central Command. He joins us to discuss what progress has been made in building Afghanistan's infrastructure and the local impact of infrastructure projects.

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The Takeaway

Straight Into Battle in Taliban Terrain

Friday, January 21, 2011

We go on the ground in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where fighting continues between British troops and the Taliban. Soldiers are aware that their survival relies on that precarious combination of battle smarts and dumb luck. With audio from the BBC, we get a personal window into the lives of the soldiers and the region's residents; both groups are fighting for survival as battle rages on.

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The Takeaway

Military Life: When the Men are Gone

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Military wife Siobhan Fallon has a new collection of loosely connected short stories that’s been getting rave reviews. It’s called “You Know When The Men Are Gone.” She explains the truth behind living as a military spouse. Her husband Major K.C. Evans is a graduate of West Point, he’s been married to Siobhan for seven years, and has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan three times during their marriage.

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The Takeaway

After Holbrooke: Diplomatic Changing of the Guard in Afghanistan

Friday, January 14, 2011

Today in Washington, the diplomatic world remembers Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke died on December 13th after suffering a torn aorta. He was 69. Since his death, Arnold Fields, the top auditor of reconstruction funds in Afghanistan, has resigned. Before doing so, he fired two of his top deputies. Are we facing a leadership vacuum in Afghanistan?

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It's A Free Country ®

Why We're Still Trying to Catch Osama Bin Laden

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finding people is tricky, particularly if they're not making the kind of errors that get you caught. Typically, criminals go to their mother's house or call their family. Bin Laden is not doing these things. On the other hand, this is a big failure, and we've spent half a trillion dollars on our intelligence agency since 9/11, and this basic question, which after all the war was about, has not been answered, which was bringing Bin Laden to justice.

Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda, on The Brian Leher Show.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Peter Bergen: History of the GWOT

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Peter Bergen, CNN's national security expert and author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden and The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaedaoffers an in-depth history of the War on Terror.

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The Takeaway

Afghan Women Reveal Abuse From Behind 'The Mask'

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A new Afghan television program hopes to allow women to publicly share their stories of abuse from behind the safety of an anonymous mask. The program, called "Niqab," or "The Mask,” allows many women to tell their stories safely for the first time. The masks are half-blue, to symbolize the burqa most Afghan women wear, and half-white, to stand for their innocence.

We speak to the show’s creator, Sami Mahdi.

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The Takeaway

Pakistan's Ruling Coalition Loses a Political Party, Undermining Stability

Monday, January 03, 2011

Pakistan's second largest political party has abandoned Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's coalition to join the opposition, depriving the government of its majority and weakening a key United States ally. How does this defection affect Pakistan, and the two nations' work in Afghanistan and against the Taliban? We're joined for more on the story by Aleem Maqbool, Pakistan correspondent for our partner the BBC. 

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The Takeaway

Afghan Media Mogul Looks Ahead to 2011

Thursday, December 30, 2010

All week long we've been talking with some of our favorite guests from the past year about their hopes and predictions for 2011. Today we have a conversation with Saad Mohseni. Saad is director of the Moby Group, the largest media organization in Afghanistan. Moby Group includes radio and television channels, as well as print and online news outlets. Mohseni is back with us today to talk about how he and his country are feeling on the dawn of a new year, and as they anticipate the beginning of U.S. military withdrawal. 

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The Takeaway

Back from Afghanistan, Soldiers Look to a New Year and New Life

Thursday, December 30, 2010

All week long we're talking with some of our favorite guests from the past year about the year that was, and what they foresee in the year ahead. Today we're having a conversation with our friend Kristen Rouse. Rouse is a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard, and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. She returned from her most recent deployment two weeks ago.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Afghanistan Assessment

Friday, December 17, 2010

NPR national security correspondent Rachel Martin reviews the Obama administration's assessment of the war in Afghanistan.

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