News Release

Afghanistan and Pakistan

Co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence, Kolhatkar said today in response to Obama’s statement this morning: “When the president talks about ‘defeating’ Al Qaeda, it is crucial to ask what exactly that means. Does it mean killing every last member of Al Qaeda? When the president talks about ‘corruption’ in parliament, does he understand that he’s referring to criminal warlords we hired to fight the Taliban?”

Kolhatkar is co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission.
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Harris recently wrote the piece “The next chapter in the war on terror,” largely about U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

An author and journalist, Harris has written books that inclue The Crisis: The President, the Prophet and the Shah — 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam. He has been an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone.
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Chatterjee just wrote the piece “Policing Afghanistan: Obama’s New Strategy, which outlines the role of DynCorp and other companies there.

He said today: “Most of the international community and the Afghans don’t want the U.S. to be bombing. The Afghans that I met when I was there last November were concerned that the people the U.S. is training are corrupt.

“The U.S. government is spending all this money to fight the Taliban, but what most Afghans want is development: water, sanitation, electricity, jobs. Most of what the U.S. government has done along these lines hasn’t helped them — money was essentially funneled back to profiteering U.S. firms. Afghans don’t want all these U.S. workers and experts coming in — they want to do things themselves, perhaps with some international assistance with the basics.”

Chatterjee is managing editor of CorpWatch. His latest book is called Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War.
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Ahsan is a U.S.-based Pakistani lawyer and was involved in the lawyers reform movement. He said today: “Obama is outlining enormous involvement in Pakistan: financial, extreme military involvement and a very overt demand of performance from Pakistan. I’m tempted to be hopeful that some of this could help development of democratic institutions, but those are the promises that were made in the 1980s and were sacrificed at the altar of the military. It could also foster ever greater resentment. This seems similar to the situation in Egypt, where the regime does unpopular things for the benefit of the U.S. and a few people in the country.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167