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Reveille: Kandahar Night Raids Backfired, Awlaki the New Bin Laden? Afghan War "Not Sustainable," US Installing Worldwide Missile Shield, Town Meetings for Jobs Not Wars

Doubling of night raids backfired in Kandahar - During a round of media interviews last month, Gen. David Petraeus released totals for the alleged results of nearly 3,000 "night raids" by Special Operations Forces (SOF) units from May through July: 365 "insurgent leaders" killed or captured, 1,355 Taliban "rank and file" fighters captured, and 1,031 killed. But a direct correlation between the stepped up night raids in Kandahar province and a sharp fall-off in the proportion of IEDs being turned in by the local population indicates that the raids backfired badly, bolstering the Taliban's hold on the population in Kandahar province. The claim of 365 "insurgent leaders" killed or captured is also highly misleading. At his confirmation hearing in June, Petraeus referred to the targets of SOF raids as "middle and upper level Taliban and other extremist element leaders". But when questioned about the figure last month, an ISAF official, speaking on condition of anonymity, conceded that it was not clear what authority the targeted "leaders" had. Taliban fighters are not organized in military units. The vast majority of those "leaders," it appears, were low level Taliban personnel who are easily replaced. Anwar al Awlaki: the new Osama bin Laden? - The CIA has put Awlaki on their hit-list of assassination targets, and in a rare speech this past week, Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, name-checked form San Diegan Awlaki as the West's Public Enemy No 1. Awlaki, 39, is a preacher, broadcasting his Islamist ideology in sermons on the internet. The web gives him a global reach ' literally into the bedrooms of disenchanted and gullible young Muslims who may already have been radicalized by an extremist imam or friend. Awlaki was under investigation in 1999, but the agency concluded he was not a danger and shut down the operation a year later. After the September 11 attacks, the FBI interviewed Awlaki four times, and one detective told the 9/11 Commission that he believed he 'was at the center of the 9/11 story'. He kept the San Diego-based hijackers 'spiritually focused'. He did not come to MI5's notice until after he returned to Yemen in 2004. It was about then that Awlaki made the transition from preacher to operational terrorist mastermind, using his charismatic appeal and jihadi rhetoric to fire up potential recruits. Foreign policy expert: Afghan War 'not sustainable' - Conservative foreign policy expert William R. Polk says the United States has yet to defeat a single insurgent group in Afghanistan, adding that the war "is not sustainable very much longer" and soon will end. Polk said the conflict in Afghanistan has largely been an exercise in futility: "We're $3 trillion or so in debt to other countries, and a lot of our towns and cities in the United Sates are in deep financial trouble, and it's a losing proposition." Polk conceded that setting a firm date for withdrawal might just encourage the Taliban to just wait for the U.S. to leave. But he adds the Taliban "aren't stupid." They already know global support for the war effort is waning, he said. Polk does not anticipate that the Taliban regime will be an ongoing threat to the United States, saying they are "solely concerned' with their domestic affairs. 'The Taliban really wants to run its own country its own way," Polk says. "And they are less concerned with us, and if we get out I think the chances are pretty good that we can ultimately develop a better relationship, as we did in Vietnam." Stop the Missile Shield? - The United States is now installing a missile shield from Northern Poland through the Mediterranean and Black Sea to Asia and Japan. The nations and warships involved are near to or bordering on Russia and China, though the stated intent is to protect our allies from the missiles of Iran and North Korea. While the ability of this shield to stop incoming missiles is questionable, our nation is making the political arrangements and the installations now. What can we do in this election to reduce these dangers and irrational priorities? We can ask candidates of all parties to sign a pledge and publicly campaign for the following Three Pledges for a Strong American Future: 1) End funding for building the missile shield and start to reduce the Pentagon's swollen budget now. 2) Make the creation of jobs in clean energies, modern transmission lines and more efficient industries and transportation the top national priority. 3) Stop all government participation in spreading nuclear generation at home and abroad. Town Meetings for Jobs Not Wars - Working men and women in America are flat on their back and down for the count. Labor unions that opposed the Bush wars now won't oppose the same wars because they are run by a Democratic President who they voted for. Meanwhile, the economy keeps weakening and the two wars suck money from a host of neglected domestic needs. The solution to this disastrous situation can only come from the American people. A coalition of groups in Philadelphia is attempting to start a non-partisan Town Meeting For Jobs Not Wars in October. Hopefully, similar dialogues will break out across America. Improving the lives of Americans has nothing to do with monitoring the books in places like Afghanistan for bribery and corruption. Expending more tax resources desperately needed here at home to keep the Afghan government we created honest is a misguided and futile effort. When you recall how we dealt with Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon, the idea of American leaders 'debating' whether or not to inform the 'sovereign' puppet of Afghanistan of imminent raids to arrest members of his administration, you have to concede our policy has arrived at the stage of farce.