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War on Terrorism

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As the war in Afghanistan passes the 10-year mark, the security outlook still looks bleak. Nevertheless, the Obama administration has just asked the Pentagon for initial recommendations for the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan in 2014 -- the first step in planning the final U.S. withdrawal. According to the Associated Press, as of yesterday, November 1, 2011, at least 1,704 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan. U.S. diplomats are now asking Afghanistan's neighbors to sign on to an ambitious plan for the future of Central Asia -- ambitiously being called the "New Silk Road" -- that would link the infrastructure of surrounding countries from Kazakhstan to India. Gathered here are images from there over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [41 photos]

A severely wounded US Marine hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is carried by his comrades to a medevac helicopter of U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-171 Aviation Regiment to be airlifted in Helmand province, on October 31, 2011. The Marine was hit by an IED, lost both his legs and fights for his life. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

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In the 10 years since the attacks of 9/11, much has changed in the world. Led by the United States, western nations invaded and occupied Afghanistan and later Iraq, removing their rulers and unleashing sectarian violence and insurgencies. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians have lost their lives at a cost of trillions of dollars, and western military forces remain in both countries. A third war, the War on Terror, has driven changes in the U.S. that have pushed against the limits of what American society will accept in return for security -- measures such as pre-emptive military strikes, indefinite detentions, waterboarding, wiretapping, and invasive airport security systems. As we remember those lost on September 11, 2001, and construction of the new skyscrapers in Manhattan nears completion, most U.S, troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of this year and Afghanistan by 2014. Here is a look at some of the events of the post-9/11 decade, and some of the progress still being made. This entry is part three of a three-part series on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks -- (see also Part 1: The Week Before and Part 2: The Day of the Attacks). [46 photos]

A test of the Tribute in Light rises above lower Manhattan, on September 6, 2011, in New York City. The memorial, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society, will light the sky on the evening of September 11, 2011, in honor of those who died ten years ago in the terror attacks on the United States. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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David R Arnott writes

GRAPHIC WARNING: This post contains graphic images which some viewers may find disturbing.

At the Beaconsfield Gallery in London last Friday, I sat in a darkened room and watched as dozens of images of death and destruction lit up the wall in front of me. Gruesome photos of mangled bodies and destroyed buildings, each accompanied by the name of a village and a date. The war they depict does not officially exist.

The photographs were taken by Noor Behram, a journalist from the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, and they document what he says are the civilian victims of unmanned aircraft 'drone' attacks carried out by U.S. forces.

Noor Behram via AP

In this Aug. 23, 2010 photo provided by Noor Behram, a man holds debris from a missile strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan. The Beaconsfield gallery in London is staging an exhibit of photographs taken by Behram allegedly showing innocent civilians killed by U.S. drone missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal region.

Over a three year period Behram was able to travel to around 60 attack sites in Waziristan, a region that is usually off-limits to the international media. His images, fuzzy, washed-out and often poorly composed, are an incongruous sight in an art gallery, but these are photographs taken as a form of documentation, rather than for their aesthetic value.

In this, Behram follows a path set out by the renowned French photographer Gilles Peress, who declared in a 1997 interview that "I don't care so much anymore about 'good photography'; I am gathering evidence for history." Peress' project A Village Destroyed, which documented a 1999 massacre in Kosovo, illustrated the important role that photography can play in human rights investigations.

Noor Behram via AP

The body of an eight-year-old boy killed by a missile strike in Makeen, South Waziristan, Pakistan, in a photo taken on Feb. 14, 2009.

Behram explained his own motivation in taking the pictures: "I have tried covering the important but uncovered and unreported truth about drone strikes in Pakistan: that far more civilians are being injured and killed than the Americans and Pakistanis admit," he told the AP's Sebastian Abbot last month.

As Abbot reported, U.S. officials do not publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program, but they have said privately that the strikes harm very few innocents and are key to weakening al-Qaida and other militants.

Noor Behram via AP

A man stands next to a destroyed vehicle after a missile strike on a funeral in South Waziristan, Pakistan, on July 8, 2009.

Alongside Behram's pictures, the exhibition features The Ethical Governor, below, a satirical animation by the artist John Butler that draws on the parallels between drone technology and video games.

Butler Brothers

'The Ethical Governor', a fictional animation by the artist John Butler that satirizes Western imperialism and the use of drone technology.

The Beaconsfield exhibition, Gaming in Waziristan, is a collaboration with the NGO Reprieve, which has provided legal representation to prisoners on death row and Guantanamo Bay inmates. Reprieve has launched an initiative named "Bugsplat" - the term used by the CIA to describe a successful drone hit - which calls for an inquiry into the use of drones and says that some of the attacks may have constituted war crimes.

"We currently have a monopoly, or effective monopoly, on armed drones," John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security think tank, told Reuters last month. "This technology will spread, and it will be used against us in years to come."

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President Barack Obama told war-weary Americans in a 15 minute address from the East Room of the White House that the United States had largely achieved it's goals in Afghanistan and that a withdrawal of American troops would be set in motion. He said Afghanistan no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States and that the "tide of war is receding." He announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 "surge" would leave by next summer. He added that the drawdown would continue "at a steady pace" until the US handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. President Sarkozy, of France, said he would also begin drawing down the 4,000-strong French contingent in Afghanistan. In keeping with 5,000 years of Afghan history, President Hamid Karzai said, “Afghans would take responsibility for the preservation of their soil, the security of their people and educating their children by the end of 2014.” In this post, we offer more glimpses of the troops and the Afghan people as they coexist, for now. - Paula Nelson (45 photos total)
U.S. President Barack Obama is seen on live television screens in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, June 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama announced he will order 10,000 troops to pull out of Afghanistan this year and another 20,000 troops by the end of next summer. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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