You need to know about Afghanistan. Here's how you can start

Even if you can't walk a mile in their boots, it's important to learn about the landscape our troops find themselves in.

What fresh hell is this. Last weekend, a US Army staff sergeant who has suffered past traumatic head injury walked off his military base and allegedly shot 16 Afghani men, women, and children.

Sadly, that Wall Street Journal article about the matter that I linked to in the first sentence of this post goes on to state that not only does Hilary Clinton think the incident has no bearing on our country's "steadfast dedication to protecting the Afghan people," the Afghan people don't seem to be all that surprised by the US serial killer in their midst. A tribal elder from the Helmand province was quoted as saying "even if he was a madman, what about all the other times when they've killed our innocent women and children? How do you explain those?" Iraq Veterans Against the War has one answer -- the group released a statement that says the military's policy of redeploying mentally unfit troops in the field is to blame. The suspect soldier was on his fourth tour of duty.

The incident only underlines the fact that Afghanistan is no longer on anyone's mind anymore. What is going on out there? Read on for an upcoming Bay Area event that hopes to provide some answers.

"The Longest War: Afghanistan Beyond the Taliban"

Those flummoxed by the lack of attention being put on Afghanistan in the media could do a lot worse than attend this panel discussion, which is the opener of what is planned to be a bi-monthly event series on under-reported current events. This time around, it's structured as a casual discussion with two experts: Masood Farivar, a one-time fighter in the country's anti-Soviet resistance cum newswire journalist who trains other members of the press to cover the region intelligently; and Tim McGirk, who has been reporting in the area since 1990 and has served as a Time Magazine bureau chief. After peppering them with any and all questions that have been pinging around in your brain, you're invited to take in Million Dollar Militia, a documentary originally shot for Aljazeera on the $1 million the US government gave directly to the Shinwari tribe to fight the Taliban and end poppy (read: drug) production in the area.  

Thu/22 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., free

Arbor Cafe

4210 Telegraph, Oakl.

(415) 730-4755