Afghanistan

The privatisation of military power

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Over the past 15 years a creeping process of outsourcing has been taking place inside the military. John Newsinger argues that the use of mercenaries and contractors undermines democracy.

The Iraq war will be seen as a turning point in the history of warfare. Not because of the illegality of the invasion or the unprecedented incompetence of the occupation, important though these were, but because it was the first modern public-private war.

Aghanistan: crossroads of the ancient world

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This exhibition showcases over 200 objects from Afghanistan, many of them of great beauty, produced between 4,000 and 1,800 years ago



Afghanistan was, as the exhibition's subtitle puts it, "the crossroads of the ancient world". A network of trade routes that joined China and India with Europe - sometimes called the "Silk Road" - ran through the country. For 3,000 years both ideas and commodities, including luxuries like jade and silk, moved along its 6,500 kilometres of roads.

Pakistan on the brink

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As the protest movement in Pakistan scores a victory, the Afghanistan war threatens increasing instability along the countries' shared border. Geoff Brown assesses this key faultline of US imperialism

It is hard to exaggerate the mood in Pakistan when it was announced that the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, was returning to office. The protest movement, led by lawyers, which threatened to overwhelm President Asif Zardari, won a real victory. People were dancing in the street.

Afghanistan: the other lost war

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Against the backdrop of failure in Iraq, Afghanistan is often promoted as the enduringly justifiable, and winnable, war. Jonathan Neale explains why this is not the case, while former US infantryman Johnny Rico speaks out about his experiences on the Afghan frontline

This is the fifth Afghan War. The first Afghan War was in 1838, when the British invaded to make Afghanistan part of the Indian empire. The Afghan barons and warlords did not resist. It was the ordinary people who rose up under the leadership of the village mullahs and slaughtered a whole British army. The British left.

Afghan Women

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Elaheh Rostami-Povey, Zed Books, £15.99

There are few subjects more timely than this study of Afghan women and few people more qualified to examine them. Elaheh Rostami-Povey is a British academic of Iranian origin, a socialist and feminist who opposes imperialism in the region. She has talked to Afghan women in their own country, in exile in Iran and Pakistan, and in Britain and the US.

Fighting the long war

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The political landscape is starting to change around the anti-war movement. The departure of Tony Blair from office much earlier than he would have preferred - itself the result of the catastrophe in Iraq and the consistent campaigning of the movement - creates a new situation.

The British government is already committed to a gradual military withdrawal from Iraq, where the troops now seem to be serving no conceivable purpose even in the government's own terms. Gordon Brown may decide to accelerate this process. Likewise, he may announce a clear intention to set up an inquiry into the circumstances under which the country went to war in 2003.

Promises, Promises

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Bush claims he wants to liberate Iraq. Dragan Plavsic examines the experience of Serbia and Afghanistan.

The assassination last month of the pro-western, neoliberal Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, a key leader of the revolution of 2000 that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, demonstrated in stark and bloody fashion the chaotic condition of Serbia today. This situation cannot be understood without examining the devastating role of western governments and institutions, above all the US and IMF, in recent Balkan affairs.

A criminal elite

The Worst is Yet to Come?

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The Afghan tragedy continues.

One year on from the bombing of Afghanistan and you would assume from the spin emanating from Downing Street and the White House that life had returned to normal. The first postwar British tourists even departed recently for a ten-day sightseeing tour of Kabul, Herat, Bamian and Mazar-e-Sharif. But don't go booking your summer holiday in Kandahar just yet.

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