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Afghan village massacre survivors confront Robert Bales in courtroom

Robert Bales, the American soldier who admitted killing 16 Afghan villagers last March, faced two more massacre survivors during a sentencing hearing near Seattle on Wednesday. Mullah Khamal Adin and Haji Mohammad Wazir took the stand at Joint Forces Base Lewis-McChord, telling a six-person tribunal about their lives since the killings, KING 5 TV in Seattle reported.

Afghanistan: 3 US soldiers killed in Paktia province

"Three International Security Assistance Force service members died following an enemies of Afghanistan attack in eastern Afghanistan today," the ISAF said in a statement.

Closing embassies is wise, even as it reveals US weakness

Commentary: Growing US unpopularity limits its influence in a chaotic region.
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A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Two dozen US diplomatic posts were closed this past weekend because of a threatened attack by al-Qaeda's offshoot in the Arabian peninsula (AQAP); the vast majority will remain shuttered through the rest of the week. This unprecedented reaction by President Obama received strong bipartisan approval by Congress, which, in itself, is cause to question the administration's action. After all, Congress thought the Iraq war was a nifty idea; Congress continues to give vociferous bipartisan support to Israel regardless of how hardline its government becomes, and just this past week, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation that would substantially tighten the sanctions against Iran, a kick in the face of Iran's relatively moderate new president.
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Manning’s other acquittal: the Garani airstrike video leak

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Carr testified the military had been “hit in the face” by Bradley Manning's leaks, which he said had harmed the US mission in places like Afghanistan by eroding the trust the military had with the local populace. Yet the talk of trust between the US military and the local Afghan population may sound hollow to many who spent time in that war-torn nation. Incidents like the airstrike near the village of Garani, in Farah province, in May 2009, which figured prominently in Manning’s trial, did much to damage the relationship.

Afghanistan’s next conflict: India vs. Pakistan

NEW DELHI — As 2014 approaches, the Obama administration is busy trying to keep its promise of extracting most US troops from Afghanistan. In a worst-case scenario, experts say, if the US were to truly botch the delicate deal-making, the rivalry between India and Pakistan could fuel ongoing violence — or even devolve into a proxy war.

US-funded fighters around the world: Where are they now?

With the United States poised to begin what could be a long and expensive intervention in Syria’s bloody civil war, it might be a good time to examine past military involvements in which US money and weapons contributed to some less-than-stellar results. As Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned on Monday, beware of "unintended consequences."

The world according to Gatsby: smash things and then retreat

Commentary: The foibles of Tom and Daisy Buchanan remind us of the US government.
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An attack killed two in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, last week. As of early July, 2,600 were killed in Iraqi violence since April, nearly 200 a week. (Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty Images)
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that held them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…" F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. Remind you of anything? I re-read The Great Gatsby on a plane flying home from the Middle East a few weeks back. Last time I had read it was about 50 years ago. And suddenly, at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic, anticipatory jet-lag gripping me, I had a revelation: Tom and Daisy Buchanan reminded me of nothing so much as the United States government.
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Another bad thing about war: insect-borne diseases

Commentary: Outbreaks in conflict zones are influenced by mass migrations.
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An Afghan receives treatment for a tropical skin disease at a clinic south of Kabul, Afghanistan. The Afghan capital, Kabul, has one of the highest concentrations of the disfiguring skin disease, Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is a parasitic disease transmitted by a sand fly. (Majid Saeedi/AFP/Getty Images)
Kinetoplastid infections have emerged as the most lethal consequence of modern wars over the last three decades. Few have ever heard of the kinetoplastid infections, which emerged in the 1980s as among the most ferocious diseases affecting innocent civilians caught in wars and conflict in the Middle East and Africa.
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Kabul: Taliban attack on NATO contractor compound kills at least eight

The compound is operated by C3PO, an international logistics company that supplies NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Obama, Karzai 'reaffirm' support for talks with Taliban despite Kabul attack

Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai have "reaffirmed" their support for holding talks with the Taliban, despite an attack in central Kabul on Tuesday.
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