‘Dutch soldiers got cancer in Afghanistan’

Dutch military camp in Afghanistan, ANP photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Dozens of Dutch soldiers think that during their stay in Afghanistan they got cancer by ‘burn pits‘. These are burning garbage heaps. At the burn pits, eg, medical waste and work materials were burned.

The soldiers have reported to lawyer Ferre van de Nadort, who has done research on the burn pits in Kamp Holland. From July 2006 to July 2010, Kamp Holland was a Dutch army base in the Afghan province of Uruzgan.

Several soldiers have given photographs to the lawyer. These show that waste was incinerated in the open air and not in the incinerators in Kamp Holland. “From day one those ovens did not work properly”, says Van de Nadort.

Burn pit at Kamp Holland in Afghanistan

Dutch daily Dagblad van het Noorden writes today about this photo (translated):

At ‘Kamp Holland’ in Afghanistan there were only three incinerators (in the upper-left of the picture), not six, as the defense minister told the House of Representatives. And they all did not work because of technical defects. That is why until the end of 2010 this burn pit, in which all waste was dumped, burned.

The NOS article continues:

Incorrectly informed

He says that former Minister Hillen of war Defense informed the House of Representatives incorrectly. He said in 2010 that there were six incinerators in Kamp Holland and that the waste was incinerated there. “But those six were in another camp, in Kandahar“, says Van de Nadort. “The minister has probably confused the two locations.”

The lawyer also says that the Ministry of Defense has never done good measurements at the incinerators and is now not dealing well with the sick (former) military people. “Defense is passing the buck to them, the soldiers are supposed to prove that it’s the burn pits, it’s an upside down world.” …

The ministry emphasizes that it now no longer has incinerators in mission areas and that the waste is now being disposed of via a ‘contractor’.

There are problems with privatising things through ‘contractors’; whether with big Japanese corporations in British nuclear energy; whether in prisons; or in war in Afghanistan. These ‘contractors’ may prioritize making profits above Dutch soldiers, other soldiers or Afghan civilians not getting cancer.


Syria, Afghanistan and the United States peace movement

This 28 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Bring the Troops Home & Stop the Bombing: Medea Benjamin on U.S. Withdrawal from Syria & Afghanistan

As President Donald Trump makes a surprise visit to Iraq this week and defends his plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria and about half the nearly 7,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, we get response from leading antiwar activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink. “We want to challenge Donald Trump … by pointing out that he continues to support the war in Yemen and the repressive Saudi regime”, Benjamin says. Her recent piece for Salon.com is titled “Bring the troops home—but stop the bombing too.”

This 28 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Documentary on Impact of Vietnam War Recalls Responsibility to Stand Up & Say No to War

The War at Home”, a landmark documentary about antiwar protests in the 1960s and ’70s in Madison, Wisconsin, has just been re-released nationwide. We speak with co-director Glenn Silber, two-time Academy Award nominee, about the making of the film and why he argues now is an important time to revisit the responsibility to stand up and say no to war.

‘Mad dog’ Mattis gone, Trump and Afghan war

From the New York Times in the USA, 20 December 2018:

The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months, two defense officials said Thursday, an abrupt shift in the 17-year-old war there and a decision that stunned Afghan officials, who said they had not been briefed on the plans.

President Trump made the decision to pull the troops — about half the number the United States has in Afghanistan now — at the same time he decided to pull American forces out of Syria, one official said.

The announcement came hours after Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, said that he would resign from his position at the end of February after disagreeing with the president over his approach to policy in the Middle East.

So, it looks like United States soldiers in Syria and half of United States soldiers in Afghanistan will not have to come back to the USA in coffins, but as living human beings. Neither will they be involved in killing Syrian or Afghan civilians any more.

That in itself is good. However, let us not forget that Donald Trump has escalated wars: in Somalia, etc., including in Syria and Afghanistan. Maybe he plans to invade Venezuela and for that he needs soldiers who are still in Syria or Afghanistan.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA, 21 December 2018:

The New York Times published an editorial Thursday invoking the authority of Trump’s national security adviser, the maniacal warmonger and international bully, John Bolton, citing his vow to expand the role of US troops in Syria to confront Iran.

It criticized Trump for having “overruled Mr. Bolton and the rest of his national security team.” His decision, the newspaper of record of what once passed for American liberalism, argued, had “sowed new uncertainty about America’s commitment to the Middle East, its willingness to be a global leader and Mr. Trump’s role as commander in chief.”

Thursday’s resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis has provoked a reaction of panic and near hysteria from leading members of both major political parties, the media and former top military and intelligence officials: here.

In the process, the Democrats are unashamedly aligning with the most reactionary forces within the state apparatus and the military. “Mad Dog” Mattis, the butcher of Fallujah, who once declared that “it’s fun to shoot some people,” has been transformed into a pillar of moral virtue. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, declared on “Meet the Press” that “it breaks my heart” to see Mattis leave. He said he begged Mattis to “stay, stay as long as you possibly can,” because “we desperately need your mature voice, your voice of patriotism”: here.

Trump praises murdering released prisoner of war

This 7 May 2015 video from the USA says about itself:


Read more here.

By Niles Niemuth in te USA:

Trump intervenes on behalf of confessed war criminal Mathew Golsteyn

20 December 2018

The Pentagon last week charged Army Major Mathew L. Golsteyn with premediated murder for the 2010 killing of an Afghan man during Operation Moshtarak, a major US-led offensive aimed at removing the Taliban from the city of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. The charge carries a potential death penalty.

President Donald Trump publicly intervened in the case with a tweet Sunday morning after viewing an interview with Golsteyn’s lawyer aired on “Fox and Friends”, declaring that he was looking into the matter and praising the self-confessed war criminal as a hero.

“At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder,” Trump tweeted. “He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.”

Trump’s intervention in the case marks yet another appeal to the increasingly politicized and right-wing layer within the top layers of the US military. He has worked to build up his support within the military, filling his cabinet with retired generals including Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who oversaw the war in Afghanistan as head of Central Command from late 2010 until 2013. Mattis notoriously urged his troops to “be polite, be courteous and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

Trump’s defense of Golsteyn contrasts with his attacks on Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was imprisoned by the Taliban after walking off his army base in 2009 in an effort to report incompetent leadership in his platoon. The young solider sent e-mails home to his father criticizing the war and the actions of fellow soldiers.

During his election campaign, Trump denounced Bergdahl as a traitor and called for his execution. Trump declared that the military’s decision last year not to give him any prison time was a “complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.” Aside from Bergdahl never admitting to cold-blooded murder, the main difference between the two soldiers is that Bergdahl dared to criticize the illegal occupation, now in its 18th year, while Golsteyn has expressed the view that the unending bloodletting in Afghanistan has been too limited.

Golsteyn admitted on two occasions, first to the CIA during a job interview in 2011 and later in an interview broadcast on Fox News in 2016, to killing a man identified by the Army as Rasoul, who was suspected of manufacturing roadside bombs that were used against US troops during the offensive.

Since being charged, Golsteyn told NBC News that he did nothing wrong and would kill again under the same circumstances. “If I’m guilty of murder they better start lining up every single person who’s cleared a drone strike and labeled unknown insurgent,” he said, unintentionally exposing the criminal nature of America’s wars. “This is what makes me problematic. I am a recurring nightmare for them. They’ve wronged me.”

He first confessed to the killing during a polygraph test administered by the CIA. Golsteyn told his interviewers that he had shot and then buried Rasoul after he and another soldier were ordered to release him from military custody and escort him home. Golsteyn later went back, dug up Rasoul’s corpse and incinerated it in a military burn pit.

According to the Army’s investigation, he told the CIA that he knew what he was doing was illegal but had no remorse for the murder as he had “solid intelligence” and was protecting his “fellow teammates.”

One of the soldiers interviewed during the initial Army investigation in 2011 reported that Golsteyn had been angered by an IED explosion that had killed two Marines and told the soldier that he would find whoever was responsible and “kill them.”

Golsteyn’s confession sparked an initial investigation by the military that resulted in Golsteyn being stripped of a Silver Star awarded for his actions during the Battle for Marjah as well as his Special Forces tab. Apparently unable to locate any physical evidence of the murder, the military however decided at that time not to bring criminal charges.

A second military investigation was opened in 2016, resulting in last week’s murder charge, after Golsteyn again confessed to the murder, this time in an interview broadcast on Fox News. He admitted point-blank, without any hesitation, that he had killed Rasoul, who was described without any evidence by host Bret Baier as a “Talban bomb maker.”

The Battle of Marjah, the first major offensive of the surge in the imperialist occupation of the Central Asian country directed by President Barack Obama, involved the deployment of 15,000 American, British, French, Estonian, Danish, Canadian, and Afghan troops against an estimated 1,000 Taliban fighters.

The fight for control over Marjah ground on from February to December 2010 and eventually forced the temporary withdrawal of the Taliban, who subsequently returned to control of the area in 2016.

No official civilian casualty reports were issued for the battle, but an assessment by the Afghan Red Crescent found that in the first month 35 civilians had been killed, 37 injured. Fifty-five homes were destroyed in this period; in one instance, NATO rockets rained down on a group of houses killing 12 civilians, 10 from the same family.

Fast approaching its second decade, and under the direction of its third president, there are no indications that the US has any plans of ending its occupation of Afghanistan; in fact, the war is escalating under Trump even as the Taliban now control more territory than at any other time since 2001.

The US Air Force dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2018 than in any other year of the war on record, unloading approximately 6,000 munitions through the end of October. This surpasses the total dropped during the peak of Obama’s surge in 2011 by more than 500. The total number of deaths this year among combatants and civilians is expected to top 20,000, worse than any other year in the war.

Afghan women footballers abused sexually

This 3 December 2018 video says about itself:

Afghan women’s soccer team members accuse officials of sexual abuse | DW News

Some former and current women’s players on Afghanistan’s national football team made allegations of sexual abuse by football federation officials. … Former player Khalida Popal, who reported alleged abuse told DW she’s been waiting for months for FIFA to take action. FIFA is investigating claims that high-ranking Afghan sports officials sexually abused, raped and threatened members of the country’s national women’s football team.

After similar reports about the Sri Lankan women’s cricket team.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Afghan president has instructed the Public Prosecution Service to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against members of the national women’s football team. The British newspaper The Guardian wrote Friday that players have been abused by, eg, the chairman of the Afghan Football Association AFF. …

The FIFA world football association has also begun an investigation and the Danish sportswear manufacturer Hummel has broken its ties with the Afghan federation. …

Training camp

The Guardian spoke with, eg, the former head of women’s football at the AFF, Khalida Popal. She told about the events at a training camp in 2016 in Jordan.

Popal herself lives just like some players abroad.

Ms Popal was forced to flee the country in 2016 and seek asylum in Denmark.

Players who traveled to the training camp from Afghanistan were accompanied by two men. “They were bullying and harassing the girls, particularly the ones from Afghanistan because they knew they wouldn’t speak up.” said Popal. “I confronted them, told them they can’t do that and I’d make a complaint.”

“It continued. These guys were calling on the rooms of the players and sleeping with the girls. AFF staff members would say to girls that they could get them on the team list and would pay them £100 a month if they would say yes to everything. They were pushing and forcing the girls.”

Popal complained to the AFF chairman. The two male officials then received better paid posts within the federation. Nine players living in Afghanistan were expelled from the team because they were supposedly lesbian.

Popal: “The president labelled them lesbians to silence them from speaking out about the sexual abuse in Jordan and abuses by coaches. He beat one of the girls with a snooker cue.”

Abuse, threats, rape

The whistleblower herself started an investigation that lasted six months. This has yielded several examples of sexual abuse, death threats and rapes.

In this way she discovered that the union president had a room in his office with a bed. Players were abused there and then removed from the team, says Popal. If they were to tell about the abuse, then it would appear that they were doing so out of revenge, because they no longer belonged to the selection.

USA GYMNASTICS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY USA Gymnastics is turning to bankruptcy in an effort to ensure its survival. The embattled organization filed a Chapter 11 petition as it attempts to reach settlements in dozens of sex-abuse lawsuits. [AP]

PTSD veteran’s bloodbath in California, USA

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

After Massacre in California Bar, Will a Democrat-Controlled House Take Action on Gun Control?

The city of Thousands Oaks, California, is mourning after a former marine opened fire at a country music bar Wednesday night, killing 12 people, mostly students. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.

Police have identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues, including possible PTSD.

The dead include 27-year-old Telemachus Orfanos, who survived the deadly Las Vegas massacre at a country music festival last year, only to be gunned down Wednesday night.

We speak with Sarah Dachos, a Navy veteran and volunteer with the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a founding member of the Everytown Veterans Advisory Council.

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Why Gun Control Isn’t Enough

Rebel HQ’s Emma Vigeland explains why healthcare and combatting social isolation is just as important as gun control.

By Rafael Azul in the USA:

Ian David Long, the Thousand Oaks, California shooter, likely suffered from PTSD

10 November 2018

On Wednesday night, 28-year-old Ian David Long, a US Marine Corps veteran of the Afghanistan war, shot and killed a dozen people at a dance club in Thousand Oaks, California, some 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. He then killed himself.

The massacre has horrified masses of people, both in the US and around the world. What could have led this young man to commit such a crime?

The American media has made various attempts, most of them dishonest or superficial, to answer this question. All of them ignore the consequences of decades of militarist violence and neo-colonial war, along with the toxic social atmosphere in the US.

The following were the final words Long posted on his Facebook page shortly before he initiated his shooting spree: “I hope people call me insane … wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah, I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’… or ‘keep you in my thoughts’ … every time … and wonder why these keep happening.”

Friends and neighbors interviewed by the media present a contradictory picture of Ian David Long.

Long, described as a frequent patron of the Borderline Bar & Grill, arrived around 11:30 pm. He proceeded to shoot the security guard outside, then entered the bar and grill and shot the young woman at the cashier’s desk. He went on to fire his handgun at the customers inside. It is not known how many bullets were fired. He apparently said nothing during the entire attack.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean described the scene inside the Borderline after the shooting as “horrific” and said there was “blood everywhere.” Police found Long, dead of what Dean believes to be a self-inflicted gunshot. The 28-year-old’s semi-automatic handgun, a modified .45-caliber Glock, was at the scene.

Long served in the Marine Corps from 2008 to 2013 as an infantry machine gunner, and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-11.

In April 2018, a mental health crisis team from the Ventura County sheriff’s department was called to his mother’s home (also Long’s residence) in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks because Long was acting “irrationally”. At the time, a police mental health specialist suspected that Long suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, after talking to him and judging that the young man represented no threat to himself or others, the crisis team decided not to detain Long for mental health evaluation against his will.

A neighbor of Long and his mother’s described the scene. “He was raving hell in the house, you know, kicking holes in the walls and stuff and one of the neighbors was concerned and called the police”, Richard Berge, who lived one block away from the home, told Reuters. “They couldn’t get him to come out, so it was like a standoff for four or five hours.”

Dean added that police believe that Ian David Long suffered from PTSD as a result of the experiences he underwent during his four-and-a-half-year stint in the Marine Corps and in Afghanistan specifically.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is triggered by exposure to traumatic events in which the person “experienced, witnessed, or was confronted by death or serious injury to self or others and responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror.”

PTSD sufferers have described feelings of grief, depression, anxiety and anger. Many have flashbacks and nightmares and turn to drug abuse.

Very high rates of PTSD and anger have been seen in US military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Matthew Tull at Verywellmind recently pointed to a study by a “group of researchers [who] looked at rates of PTSD and anger problems among a group of 117 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.

“Similar to other reports, the veterans they studied exhibited high rates of PTSD. In fact, about 40 percent had PTSD and an additional 18 percent almost had a PTSD diagnosis, or what is often referred to as subthreshold PTSD (they were struggling with some severe symptoms of PTSD but not quite enough symptoms to meet criteria for a full PTSD diagnosis).”

Tull went on, “In addition, over half of the veterans with PTSD indicated that they had been aggressive in the past four months, such as threatening physical violence, destroying property and having a physical fight with someone. Veterans with almost a PTSD diagnosis reported just about the same amount of aggressive behavior as the veterans with PTSD.”

As the number of veterans with PTSD and other forms of mental illness was increasing, a 2014 report from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) reported that treatments were inadequate, “ad hoc, incremental and crisis-driven.” There was minimal planning in developing “long-range” approaches, the IoM committee argued, lengthy delays in providing treatment for those who needed therapy (only 53 percent received the minimum therapy of eight sessions in 14 weeks) and the interruption and delay of individual counseling sessions.

Thomas Burke, a pastor who served with Long in Afghanistan, said the latter’s battalion had arrived during intense fighting in Helmand province, a center of Taliban resistance.

Burke told CNN: “We train a generation to be as violent as possible, then we expect them to come home and be OK. It’s not mental illness. It’s that we’re doing something to a generation, and we’re not responding to the needs they have.”

In addition to confronting Taliban forces in Helmand, US and allied troops terrorized the Afghan population. In March 2017, in a military online forum, Ian Long described some of his military experience using the nickname “doorkicker03”, alluding to the repression of civilians.

The news that Long had been the shooter, and that he had posted his dark Facebook message greatly shocked one his friends, who spoke to CNN; “That does not sound like Ian to me at all. I don’t know what was going through his head when he wrote this. It must have been terrible”, he declared. “I don’t know what the hell happened. He was always happy. I never thought this would ever come from him. We used to go snowboarding all the time. He was a good guy”, said another.

“He wasn’t unhinged, he wasn’t violent. He was a sweet guy who served his country and was using his GI Bill to go to college and get a degree to help more people”, another friend declared. “Out of our group of friends I thought the highest of him.”

Curtis Kellogg, who served with Long in the Marines, told CNN that while Long had a sense of humor, “like most Marines who have seen combat it could get dark at times, just like all of us.”

The official response to the Thousand Oaks massacre is a combination of banal, formulaic expressions of sorrow and bewilderment. What do such people know about the consequences of their wars and invasions?

Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, Reuters commented, “said it was too early to speculate on the shooter’s motives but that he appeared to have acted alone. ‘We will be sure to paint a picture of the state of mind of the subject and do our best to identify a motivation,’ Delacourt said, adding that the FBI would investigate any possible ‘radicalization’ or links to militant groups.”

Ventura County Sheriff Dean told the media, “Obviously, he had something going on in his head that would cause him to do something like this.”

Ian Long’s precise mental state November 7 will perhaps never be known. That night’s cryptic and troubled Facebook entry provides a clue. Hundreds of thousands of youth have been called on to participate in an unending series of wars and occupations (“kicking in” doors); tortured by their experiences in many cases and left with no opportunities, no real help for their mental and physical injuries, nothing more than “hopes and prayers”. That condition, working on the most psychologically vulnerable and susceptible, almost inevitably produces tragedies like the Thousand Oaks mass shooting.