Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The end could be foreseen from the moment the night sky over Kabul turned a bright yellow as the first American bombs and missiles landed near the airport two months ago. From a hill to the north of the capital we could see the Taliban anti-aircraft fire, a few feeble sparks of red and white, […]

The End of the Strangest War

by Patrick Cockburn In Ghazni, On The Kandahar Road

The end could be foreseen from the moment the night sky over Kabul turned a bright yellow as the first American bombs and missiles landed near the airport two months ago.

From a hill to the north of the capital we could see the Taliban anti-aircraft fire, a few feeble sparks of red and white, explode uselessly far below the American aircraft. In few wars has the disparity of force between the two sides been so obvious.

“They could not take any more American bombing, so they had to surrender,” said a young Northern Alliance officer called Abdul Razeq yesterday morning as we drove down the road from Kabul towards Kandahar. He explained that his commander had just received a call from Hamid Karzai, the anti-Taliban Pashtun leader fighting just north of Kandahar, saying that the Taliban fighters were going to give up.

It has been the strangest war, decided mainly by defections. Afghans had seen the first bombs come down, just as we had done, and had concluded that the United States and its local ally, the Northern Alliance, must win. Nobody here likes to bet on a loser. In a quarter of century of war in Afghanistan, sudden betrayals and switches of alliance, not battles, have decided the victor.

All this was obvious yesterday in Ghazni, the fortress city on the Kandahar road. Abdul Razeq had earlier explained that what we were doing was a little dangerous. He said that in Wardag, the first province we came to, the Taliban “have joined our side, but only very recently and they still have the same commanders. Sit in the back of the car and don’t get out.”

Ghazni, a bleak city dominated by the guns and tanks in its thousand-year-old citadel, had already led the way for Kandahar. The Taliban have simply dematerialised. In return for giving up power, they received a de facto amnesty. Qari Baba, the ponderous- looking governor of Ghazni province, had been appointed the day before. “I don’t see any Taliban here,” he said, which was surprising, since the courtyard in front of his office was crowded with tough- looking men in black turbans carrying sub-machine-guns. “Every one of them ex- Taliban,” Abdul Razeq said as we got back in the car.

The reasons for the Taliban defeat are obvious enough. There was the US bombing. There was the hatred felt towards them by the non-Pashtun minorities, who make up 60 per cent of Afghans. Of the remaining 40 per cent, half are women ? whom they treated as a sub-species. And the Pashtun themselves were never united behind the regime.

But the Northern Alliance was also weak and its military strength uncertain. Most males in Afghanistan can fight. In October, I met a defector from the Taliban, a shopkeeper from Kunduz in the north, whose captors were displaying him like a prize marrow at a village f?te. A small man, he had staggered across no man’s land clutching a sub-machine-gun, a Kalashnikov and a pistol. I asked him how long the Taliban had trained him. He said: “Just two days, but like everybody else here I can use a gun.”

There were few trained troops on either side, apart from about 12,000 men drilled by Ahmed Shah Masood, the Northern Alliance leader assassinated on 9 September. Even these had their problems. One of them owned the Japanese pick-up truck used by The Independent. An unsmiling man called Abdul Rashid, he had taken it from the Taliban three years ago. He once grimly explained to me that the 40 men he led would starve if it was not for the rent from the truck.

In fact, the Northern Alliance played its cards with great skill. At a moment when the world was desperate for news from Afghanistan, it organised an airlift of journalists across the peaks of the Hindu Kush mountains from Tajikistan to the Panjshir valley just north of Kabul. This put the Alliance on the political map of the world. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, its suave and intelligent foreign spokesman, would meet us day after day in the pretty garden of a government guest-house.

Working with the Northern Alliance, which is partly armed and supported by Russia and Iran, was a little difficult for the US to swallow. But it needed a local ally, and the Alliance was the only game in town. Despite the offence caused to Pakistan, America had to bomb the Taliban’s frontline trenches if it was to win.

The Taliban were always thought likely to unravel in northern Afghanistan, where there are few Pashtun. But at some point it seemed a hardcore of Taliban fanatics would turn and fight.

They, however, turned out not to exist. The swift rise of the Taliban, of course, had depended on Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service and Saudi money. But the surprise of the war has been how few genuine fanatics belonged to the group.

A problem of covering the war was that it was difficult to meet members of the Taliban. This was their own fault, since they had banned the media at the start of the crisis. After the fall of Kabul, I did meet Mullah Khaksar, who had been the deputy interior minister. He said: “They did not know what all the world knows, that the people hated them.” Yet when the Taliban had first taken Kabul in 1996, he had “liked them because they provided security”, he said ? and he had not been alone.

The savage civil war between the different parties of the Northern Alliance has reduced most of Kabul to ruins. But the brutality of the Taliban and their obsession with controlling people’s private lives meant that they had long outlived their welcome. The diminishing number of people who went to Kabul sports stadium to see alleged thieves have their hands amputated discovered that their bicycles were stolen while they watched. Even those fond of innocent pleasures such as kite-flying were rewarded with a beating or even prison.

There is still something terrifying about the way in which the Taliban pursued their obsessions. In Bamiyan, a valley in central Afghanistan, they destroyed two colossal 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues, condemning them as un-Islamic, earlier this year.

I thought one smaller statue in a distant glen might have survived. But when I got there a local farmer pointed to an empty stone niche in a cliff face, saying: “There is nothing left. They destroyed it like they destroyed everything else.”