Monthly Archives: June 2011

THE REAL LOSERS IN THE WAR ON TERROR

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By:Admiral Fasih Bokhari

THE REAL LOSERS IN THE WAR ON TERROR.

If you believe the Taliban won the war, as many Pakistanis and Americans do, you could be close to the truth. You may then ask, as many Pakistanis and Americans do: why haven’t hostilities ended? That is a question that opens up the murky can of worms of today’s world, also known as the world of financiers, drugs, oil, weapons, politicians-on-the-take, and anyone else that can make a quick buck. They all operate under the cover of legitimate Governments who claim to be planning long term geo-strategic and economic advantage for their people. That war is a good business and lifts political ratings is rarely mentioned as the primary driver of policy.

Conventional war depletes national military power and shakes governments. In this long war on terror the fighting has therefore been out-sourced to the Taliban of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and America. The Regular forces are now primarily engaged in trying to contain the fighting to the border regions, but it is the American and Local Taliban who are conducting the “war of continuing terror”. And they get handsomely paid for it. They get paid by those who benefit from this long war. So who is paying them?

The Pakistan Taliban gets some money from those who want to establish the hold of Sunni political Islam and dream of the earliest Islamic state of Arabia at the cost of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. These include Pakistani financiers and the Gulf Arabs whose actual long term objective is Shia Iran. They get money too from unlawful acts like kidnapping and robbery. They also get substantial inputs (including technology) for specific operations from pro ISAF intelligence agencies, which in turn get their money from the drug trade that that has been allowed to expand hugely since the war started.

The Afghan Taliban are fighting a war of resistance for which funding from any source is welcome, including Gulf Arabs, drugs, and intelligence agencies of countries opposed to American military presence in central Asia.

The American Taliban are terrorists sponsored and directly funded by covert sections of the American government. These are mercenary groups such as Blackwater, XE, DynCorp, and other American companies with links to the Pentagon and CIA. They recruit nationals of any country (even former soviet republics) who want to make money and are willing to kill for it. These are “mercenary terrorists” as opposed to the local Taliban who claim the fig leaf of being “ideological terrorists”.

So the fighting continues because the Taliban of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and America are laughing their way to the bank. The question then arises “if the three primary Governments are not achieving their political objectives and are facing voter pressure to end the war, why don’t they simply pull the plug on the financing of these groups”? The answer to this question is simply that the governments are also benefitting. Or should I say that the peddlers of “death for profit” in these countries are benefitting, their military are benefitting, and their bankers/weapon suppliers are benefitting. In fact in a perverse way many sectors of their economies are thriving in this war environment.

The only and real losers are the silent majority of people of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan whose freedoms are being usurped, whose moral standards are being savaged, whose lives are being taken, and whose livelihoods are being denied. What are these victims of war doing about it? The answer to this question lies in understanding the true nature of the modern nation state in which the masses have ceded their sovereignty to a greedy few in exchange for “protection and leadership”. The social contract of the modern state is an imposition of classic Mafia control. Standing armies, civil bureaucracy, and media have evolved in the service of the modern mafia state. Patriotism is now glorified over citizen’s fundamental rights, religion is glorified over free will, and “writ of State” is imposed by the chosen few in the name of democracy. And of course the Media’s bread is buttered to ensure public apathy and acceptance of this perverse social tragedy through mind control in the garb of “opinion making”. If you believe a new social contract to save the victims rather than the beneficiaries of war is essential, only you can answer the last question which is, “what are you doing about it”?

*The writer is Former Chief of Naval Staff,Pakistan.

 

ARE INTERNATIONAL WARS A RACKET?

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Naveed Tajammal

Eric Arthur Blair, better known in literature as ,George Orwell had done some predictions when he drafted his book,’’1984’’ in 1947-48.It was published in 1949,George saw after the 2nd world war a world divided in three major super-states, Oceania (Britain, South Africa, America & Polynesia(Pacific Ocean Islands),Eurasia (Continental Europe, and North Asia) . Lastly, East Asia (China, Japan, Korea &North India). Continuous wars, between these super states over a disputed area, which formed a ‘parrellogram’ from Tangier ( Morocco) to Brazzaville (Congo), in a straight line to tip of northern Australia ‘’Darwin’ and then to Hong Kong.
Eurasia did rise as did the Warsaw pact countries of Europe but they all took a nose dive after 1989.The fall of the Soviet Empire, East Asia, has yet to rise, only Oceania is in the world Arena. The Union Jack has collapsed its strategic sites as well of other empires since 1898 ( Treaty of Paris) have been annexed by the sole super state The USA( The stars and stripes ) or Oceania of George Orwell, South Africa to collapsed with rise of Nelson Mandela.

http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/war-is-a-racket/how-the-news-media-sells-war.html

 

 

What George Orwell had feared most was the creation of Totalitarian states, which keeps its people under constant mass surveillance, each transaction, communication, compiled, stored away, ready to be re- examined and used by the authority, whenever they wanted. And as go the figures and reports, only in the USA, an average citizen is caught on film nearly 200 times daily, in the Britain the mother of Democracy ,each citizen is filmed 300 times daily. The American National Data Base agency has the world’s largest data base.So, the Big brother is there, as envisaged by Orwell.
But here we have to pause and see the rise of ‘Oceania’ as the sole power, at the moment in time. And what somebody, who was instrumental in making it in the start has to say on this. The man, Major General Smedley.D.Butler,(1881-1940). Until 1898 the USA did not have any territory outside the mainland of North America, and her national debt stood at one billion dollars, and by the end of the First World War in which USA jumped in for no rhyme or reason, it was 25 billion dollars. So the desire to acquire outside territory or ‘’Fiddling in International Affairs”, was the cause in the rise of the debt, as for very few this ‘’RACKET’ OF waging wars is profitable business venture. It brings fancy profits, but the cost of war operations is always transferred to the people-who do not share the profits.
With these words General Butler, quotes from Senate Document # 259 of the 65th Congress Report, on the Corporate Earnings, analysing the profits of 122 meat packers,153 cotton manufactures,299 garment makers,49 steel plants & 340 coal producers during the years of the first world war. Which are mind boggling but the space does not permit the details.
This is piece was written way back in 1933, but is still just as relevant. It is an excerpt from a speech by Major General Smedley Butler. Smedley Butler is one of only 19 people in the entire history of the US military to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor twice. He writes:
“A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909—1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. “
Now kindly analyse the aftermath of 2nd world war and the American ventures to date.
(The writer has over 26 years of experience of research in historical investigation).

‘War on terror’ set to surpass cost of Second World War

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

The total cost to America of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the related military operations in Pakistan, is set to exceed $4 trillion – more than three times the sum so far authorised by Congress in the decade since the 9/11 attacks.

This staggering sum emerges from a new study by academics at the Ivy-league Brown University that reveals the $1.3 trillion officially appropriated on Capitol Hill is the tip of a spending iceberg. If other Pentagon outlays, interest payments on money borrowed to finance the wars, and the $400bn estimated to have been spent on the domestic “war on terror”, the total cost is already somewhere between $2.3 and $2.7 trillion.

And even though the wars are now winding down, add in future military spending and above all the cost of looking after veterans, disabled and otherwise and the total bill will be somewhere between $3.7 trillion and $4.4 trillion.

The report by Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies is not the first time such astronomical figures have been cited; a 2008 study co-authored by the Harvard economist Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, a former Nobel economics laureate, reckoned the wars would end up costing over $3 trillion. The difference is that America’s financial position has worsened considerably in the meantime, with a brutal recession and a federal budget deficit running at some $1.5 trillion annually, while healthcare and social security spending is set to soar as the population ages and the baby boomer generation enters retirement.

Unlike most of America’s previous conflicts moreover, Iraq and Afghanistan have been financed almost entirely by borrowed money that sooner or later must be repaid.

The human misery is commensurate. The report concludes that in all, between 225,000 and 258,000 people have died as a result of the wars. Of that total, US soldiers killed on the battlefield represent a small fraction, some 6,100. The civilian death toll in Iraq is put at 125,000 (rather less than some other estimates) and at up to 14,000 in Afghanistan. For Pakistan, no reliable calculation can be made.

Even these figures however only scratch the surface of the suffering, in terms of people injured and maimed, or those who have died from malnutrition or lack of treatment. “When the fighting stops, the indirect dying continues,” Neta Crawford, a co-director of the Brown study, said. Not least, the wars may have created some 7.8 million refugees, roughly equal to the population of Scotland and Wales.

What America achieved by such outlays is also more than questionable. Two brutal regimes, those of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, have been overturned while al-Qa’ida, the terrorist group that carried out 9/11, by all accounts has been largely destroyed – but in neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is democracy exactly flourishing, while the biggest winner from the Iraq war has been America’s arch-foe Iran.

Osama bin Laden and his henchmen probably spent the pittance of just $500,000 on organising the September 2001 attacks, which killed 3,000 people and directly cost the US economy an estimated $50bn to $100bn. In 2003, President George W Bush proclaimed that the Iraq war would cost $50bn to $60bn. Governments that go to war invariably underestimate the cost – but rarely on such an epic scale.

If the Brown study is correct, the wars that flowed from 9/11 will not only have been the longest in US history. At $4 trillion and counting, their combined cost is approaching that of the Second World War, put at some $4.1 trillion in today’s prices by the Congressional Budget Office.

NOTE:THIS IS LEAD NEWS IN THE INDEPENDENT on 30th June 2011.

Afghanistan — A Bridget Too Far

By:Eric Margolis

Far-called our navies melt away–
On dune and headland sinks the fire–
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

~ Rudyard Kipling “Recessional”

War is waged to achieve political objectives, not to kill enemies. Politically, the US has achieved nothing in Afghanistan after ten years of desultory war and destruction.

So in this sense, the United States has already lost the Afghan conflict, its longest war. Militarily its forces have been stalemated, meaning that it has lost the all-important military initiative and is now on the strategic defensive.

Once more, Afghanistan fulfills its grim title as “graveyard of empires.”

The US has failed to install an obedient regime in Kabul that controls Afghanistan. It has made bitter foes of the nation’s Pashtun majority, and, in pursuing this war, gravely undermined Pakistan. Claims that US forces were only in Afghanistan to hunt the late Osama bin Laden were widely disbelieved.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama bowed to public opinion, approaching elections, military reality and financial woes by announcing he would withdraw a third of the 100,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer. Pentagon brass growled open opposition.

US allies France and Germany announced similar troop reductions. All foreign troops are supposed to quit Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

This staggered withdrawal will take the US garrison roughly back to the size it was before President Obama sent 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan. Enough to hold the main urban centers and connecting roads, but not enough to defeat Taliban guerrillas in the field, or to block the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Washington currently spends at least $10 billion monthly on the Afghan war, not counting “black” payments, CIA and NSA operations. The US has poured $18.8 billion in development aid into Afghanistan since 2001 with nothing to show for the effort. Pakistan has been given $20 billion to support the Afghan War. Each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum, not counting full support costs.

The US deficit is heading over $1.4 trillion. The national debt, when unfunded pensions and benefits are added, is likely $100 trillion, according to the chief of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond trader.

Forty-four million Americans now receive food stamps; the national infrastructure of roads, airports, bridges and schools is crumbling from neglect. Unemployment, officially at 9.5%, is probably closer to 20%.

The cry is being heard: “Rebuild America, not Afghanistan.”

In spite of intense pro-war propaganda, over half of Americans now oppose the Afghan War. Even US-installed Afghan president Hamid Karzai calls it, “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

So will the US really pull out of Afghanistan? That remains to be seen. There are many contradictory signs.

Mid-level talks between the US and Taliban have been conducted for over a year. Washington’s plan was to try to split Taliban through such talks.

US Afghan supremo Gen. David Petraeus tried to buy off Afghan resistance in the same manner he had bribed Iraq’s Sunni tribes into quiescence. This gambit did not work with Taliban’s hardened warriors, for whom honor holds as much value as money.

The US will probably keep a sizable number of its remaining 66,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014, rebranding them training troops. The huge US bases at Kandahar and Bagram will be retained.

Billions more will be spent on the Afghan government army and police. They have so far proved ineffective because most are composed of Tajik and Uzbek mercenaries who are hated and distrusted by the Pashtun.

A similar process is underway in Iraq where “withdrawal” means keeping combat brigades in Iraq, renamed “training units” and counter-terrorism units,” thousands of mercenaries, and mobile US combat forces in neighboring Kuwait and the Gulf.

New US embassies in Baghdad and Kabul — huge, fortified complexes with their own mercenary combat forces — will be the world’s biggest. Kabul will have a staff of 1,000 US personnel. Bin Laden called them “crusader fortresses.” Fortified US consulates are under construction in other parts of Afghanistan.

In addition, the US will still arm and finance allied Tajik and Uzbek militias in Afghanistan, and CIA-run mercenary forces. Financing Pakistan’s US-backed regimes and Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan must also continue at around $3 billion yearly. What political concessions the US is giving Moscow to allow passage of war supplies remains a secret.

The US appears to be going and staying at the same time. By contrast, the Taliban’s position is clear and simple: it will continue fighting until all foreign troops are withdrawn. US special forces, drones and hit squads have been unable to assassinate enough Taliban commanders to make the mujahedin stop fighting.

Americans never study history, not even their own. They don’t recall a founding father, the great Benjamin Franklin, who said, “there is no good war, and no bad peace.” Or that the Pashtun Taliban and its allies are dedicated, undefeated warriors who fight where they live, and have all the time in the world.

I’ve been in combat with the Pashtun warriors and remain in awe of their courage and love of combat. The Pashtun mujahedin will keep fighting as long as their ammunition lasts.

America, for all its B-1 heavy bombers, strike fighters, missiles, helicopter gunships and drones, armor, super electronics, spies in the sky and all the other high tech weapons of modern war has failed to defeat some 30,000 tribal fighters armed with nothing more than light weapons and legendary valor.

The US has lost the political war in Afghanistan. It may linger there, but it cannot win.

*Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles appear in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times and other news sites in Asia.

Adam, Get Their Guns

How Al-Qaeda’s Spokesman Advances the Israel Lobby’s Gun Control Agenda

By Maidhc Ó Cathail 

On June 3, in an al-Qaeda video rather loftily titled “You Are Held Responsible Only for Thyself,” al-Qaeda’s California-born spokesman, Adam Gadahn, urged followers to commit violent acts of jihad by exploiting alleged weaknesses in U.S. gun laws and the gun background check system. “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” he said. “You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and, most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?” 

Around the same time, a “hit list” of American executives, officials and companies appeared on jihadist websites. “Security analysts,” reported FoxNews.com, “believe the two messages are related and underscore a shift in terror strategy—from top-down, mass-casualty events to smaller-scale attacks taken up, in some cases, by freelancing, lone-wolf jihadists.” According to one of Fox’s security analysts, Aaron Weisburd, the founder and director of the revealingly named Internet Haganah, the discussion originated on a password-protected, members-only site, to which he has access, known as the Shumukh forum. Describing Shumukh—which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Yiddish word for “idiot”—as “the number-one Al Qaeda-supporting website on the Internet today,” Weisburd suspiciously added that it was “most frequented by Palestinians.”

On the very same day that Gadahn’s video was released, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) coalition issued a press release in response. New York City Mayor and MAIG founding co-chair Michael Bloomberg said that Gadahn’s statement was “absolutely accurate,” adding that the video “may help Washington understand that weak gun laws aren’t just a crime problem, they’re a national security threat.” Helpfully pointing out that legislation had already been introduced to address the problem, Bloomberg, an uncritical supporter of Israel’s seemingly unlimited “right to defend itself,” urged Congress to pass the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 and the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2011. Then on June 16,Ben Rattray’s Change.org breathlessly alerted subscribers to its MAIG-sponsored “Stop Al-Qaeda From Exploiting Gun Law Loopholes” online petition. This was followed by a June 17editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times entitled “Terrorists buying guns? There ought to be a law.” 

In fact, it was Mayor Bloomberg’s coalition that had initially proposed the legislation to fix gun background checks. On February 23, Bloomberg and his New York Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, had joined Israel’s self-described guardian” in the Senate, Charles Schumer, to announce the introduction of legislation that would provide greater reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for individuals with mental illness, domestic violence records, and drug abusers, by increasing the penalties for states that fail to adequately turn over records for those who are prohibited from owning a gun. The legislation would also require that all gun sales, including those by private sellers, be subject to a background check, effectively ending the so-called “gun show loophole.”

On May 12, the 550-member Mayors Against Illegal Guns (more than three-quarters of whom come from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York) issued a statement decrying the House Judiciary Committee’s vote that day against an amendment to close the “Terror Gap” by giving the Justice Department discretion to deny gun and explosive sales to terrorists. “Hopefully, last night’s arrest in New York City of two terrorists plotting an attack using guns and explosives,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement, “will help convince Congress that this is a national security issue and they need to do the right thing and pass this legislation.”

On that same day, at a high-profile City Hall news conference, the New York Mayor and his steadfast NYPD Commissioner accused Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh of “planning to blow up the largest synagogue in Manhattan and to kill as many Jews as possible.” The FBI, however, had their doubts about the police undercover who investigated the two alleged “lone wolf” terrorists and refused to get involved in the case. Those doubts were confirmed on June 15 when a grand jury rejected the top terrorism charge against the two Muslim immigrants from North Africa. “This is a political case, brought by political people, for their own political purposes,” Elizabeth Fink, a lawyer for Ferhani, said outside court.“You will see that this case is bogus.… It’s total entrapment.” She added that Ferhani had a history of mental illness and had been institutionalized up to 30 times, and that the police were aware of this because of 911 calls his mother had made to subdue him. 

The grand jury’s rejection of the NYPD’s exaggerated claims of a dastardly anti-Semitic plot came just days after the White House announcement of the Jewish Federations’ new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (a post 9/11 goldmine for the Israeli security industry) “dedicated mainly to the state of threats posed to American Jewish institutions.” Notwithstanding the strong evidence pointing to FBI entrapment as the source of earlier media-hyped “synagogue terror” plots, Michael Gelman, chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of The Jewish Federations of North America, said: “The American Jewish community and the places we gather are, unfortunately, often targets for terrorists. This new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security will empower us to counter this threat as we become more actively involved in our own protection.”

And given Mayor Bloomberg’s support for legislation to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns, it’s also worth noting that the “Manhattan synagogue” plot is far from being the only instance in which the NYPD has used people suffering from mental illness to make terrorism cases. In 2004, police arrested a Pakistani immigrant, Shahawar Matin Siraj, and charged him with plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station on the eve of the Republican National Convention at nearby Madison Square Garden. After paying an informant $100,000 to spend more than a year encouraging Siraj in the plot, the police persuaded his schizophrenic co-defendant, James Elshafay, to testify against Siraj. Despite being described by acquaintances as “borderline retarded,” Siraj was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

In spite of the fact—or perhaps because of it—that investigators couldn’t find a connection between Siraj and Elshafay and any terrorist organization, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence, David Cohen,later described the mentally ill pair as “lone wolves” who were “homegrown, but inspired globally.” After a brief 2001 stint at insurance giant AIG (a $40 billion beneficiary of the increased demand for bonds in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks), Cohen had been tapped for the newly created position at the beginning of 2002. Despite his extreme unpopularity and a less than reassuring record in a 35-year career at the CIA—he once wrote a report, later dismissed by an internal CIA review, blaming the Soviet Union for the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II—Cohen’s appointment was warmly endorsed by Mayor Bloomberg. Describing his role as chief of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, Cohen later said“It’s like starting the CIA over in the post-9/11 world.”

Indeed, it seems that Cohen set about starting over not only the CIA but the FBI as well—the latter’s investigations on occasions being frustrated by his Intelligence Division’s “Lone Cowboy behaviour.” But cowed by post-9/11 criticism from Congress and the media, the Feds passively watched the creation of a troublesome rival. Early on, Cohen suggested to Commissioner Kelly that New York police officers be assigned overseas. By 2005, NYPD Intelligence had seven detectives deployed in cities around the world, including London, Singapore and Tel Aviv, which perhaps predictably received the NYPD’s first foreign liaison. While Cohen’s man in Tel Aviv, Mordecai Dzikansky, had virtually no contact with his American counterpart from the FBI, which opposed the creation of the post, the Orthodox Jew and former IDF volunteer enjoyed close relations with his Israeli hosts. A few months before her 2005 “resignation,” Judith Miller wrote in the New York Times: “[A]s the New York detective walks through the corridors of police headquarters in Jerusalem, home to Israel’s 27,000 police officers, he is invariably greeted as Morty, in the Hebrew he now speaks fluently, with a quip and a smile.” 

       ***

Although most liberals would be inclined to support calls for tighter gun control, the source of those calls should give them pause for thought. It’s more than a little ironic that the most ardent advocates of gun controlfor Americans such as the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League are the very same people who demand that American taxpayers continue to lavish Israelis with as much weaponry as they desire “to defend themselves,” i.e. by slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians with impunity. Leaving aside arguments over the relative legitimacy of state terrorism versus non-state terrorism, one can hardly imagine the likes of Bloomberg and Schumer advocating background checks as passionately for Israeli settlers to prevent a Jewish extremist like Baruch Goldstein from acquiring a gun to massacre Palestinian civilians. 

So, how do we account for such blatant double standards? Could it be that Israel’s fifth columnists are worried that if enough Americans ever become aware of how much their “unbreakable bond” with Israel has cost them in bloodtreasure and credibility, they might have an American Intifada on their hands? Better, then, to preempt the possibility of such “domestic extremists” coming up with their own “hit list” by closing the “Terror Gap” now, while they still can. In the meantime, the fear and loathing of America’s maligned Muslim community engendered by scary tales of “lone wolf” jihadists ensures the perpetuation of America’s wars for Israeli hegemony in the Greater Middle East for the forseeable future—or at least till they completely bankrupt the country. 

Even if Adam Gadahn had become a board member of the ADL like his beloved paternal grandfather, Carl Pearlman, he could hardly have served their gun control agenda better. 

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst

Afghanistan: An American Rape

Is “Slow Withdrawal” an An Answer to Rape?

 

By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor Veterans Today

America went to Afghanistan under false pretenses.  Even if you don’t buy in on the mountain of hard evidence that 9/11 was a staged false flag operation, there were no connections to Afghanistan or Osama bin Laden, not then and not now.

Did we attack Afghanistan because our former allies, the Mujaheddin, renamed “Taliban” had bad grooming practices or the more obvious reasons:

  • The oil companies were desperate to have a gas pipeline through Afghanistan, tens of billions of dollars were involved and the Taliban was proving “tough” in negotiations.
  • A puppet dictatorship in Afghanistan, such as with Karzai, would allow the “CIA and friends” to take over the world’s narcotics business. (our only real success in Afghanistan)
  • Sinking America in a hopeless and unwinable war might just kill both Pakistan and Iran in process.
    • US = Dead
    • Afghanistan = Dead
    • Pakistan = Dead
    • Iran = Dead
    • Iraq = Dead
    • Israel = Picking up the pieces, pocketing the spoils
    • Congress and the Pentagon = in for a “piece of the action”

Afghanistan is simple to understand.  The invasion was all lies, as with Iraq.  The Taliban were the legal rulers.  Many of the American “allies” in the Northern Alliance were druglords, more were infamous war criminals.  Thousands of Afghans were murdered during the American takeover.

The new government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars, is hopelessly corrupt, the army America bought for them is half Taliban, half uninspired and unmotivated.  Recent evaluations have shown almost every cent spent on “nation building” was stolen.  Every criminal in the world has flocked to Kabul joining the kleptocratic Karzai’s mob and their USAID/CIA partners, robbing America blind and banking tens of billions in drug money.

Afghanistan will have left over 150,000 American troops killed, wounded or permanently disabled at a financial cost of over $1.2 trillion dollars over the next 20 years.  This doesn’t include other war costs.

Listening to the discussions, you can’t even call them “left” or “right,” is perplexing.  We raped Afghanistan.  We are still doing it.  Karzai and his thugs are simply helping hold “her” down for us, that and taking their own turns.

Today, no one begins to guess why we are there.  Some talk of Al Qaeda.  No intelligence report ever place the number at higher than 300.  Recent reports run as low as a dozen.  Honest reports would take it further.  There has never been any proof that Al Qaeda has ever been in Afghanistan or Pakistan.  Further still, there really isn’t any proof Al Qaeda has ever existed at all.

The whole conflict is a made up game, invented to distract the public, a phony war, an imaginary enemy, a replacement for the Soviet Union.  If you don’t have an enemy, simply attack a country filled with the most warlike and belligerent people on earth.  This is what we did.  We had no enemy.  We needed an enemy.  We created an enemy where there was none.

Without a foreign enemy, Americans might start looking at their real enemy, the government itself, a government that has long operated well outside any constitutional mandate, a government that rigs elections, votes itself pay raises, puts itself above the law and betrays the American people just like the dictatorships we love to criticize.

Washington rules America, it doesn’t govern.  In fact, there is increasing evidence that it does neither.  Had an alien race taken over and chosen the most cowardly and reprehensible to rule, to exploit and enslave in their name, the end result would likely resemble what we have today.

In a recent trip to Nigeria, I sat through meetings discussing corruption.  Nigerians openly admit their government is corrupt and are desperate for ways to bring it under control.  The word is out, ‘there is a new sheriff in town.” The real product of corruption is poverty and suffering.  Nigerians have had enough.

The more they talked about what was going on there, the more and more it began to sound like they were describing Washington DC.  America is now getting a dose of poverty and suffering here at home, all brought on by unbridled corruption.

What they call “corruption,” we call “bailouts,” “deficits” and “cost overruns.”  They lose millions.  We lose trillions.

So, how did America end up in this dilemma? We are ten years into a second war, our asses are being handed to us on a platter, even the illiterate Taliban find us too stupid to negotiate with and the “big win” we are playing off is the death of Osama bin Laden, a story so bizarre and convoluted that the press seems to have simply walked away shaking their heads.

The answer is a simple one.  You can’t turn on a TV, read a book or open an email without hearing conspiracy.  Conspiracies come in two flavors, those the mainstream press is ordered to peddle and the ones they are ordered to make fun of.

Telling which is which, real or imaginary is easy as hell.  Any group with the power to tell the press what to do is a real conspiracy.  When the press is doing its job well, lying like hell of course, they mix their lies and propaganda in with enough innocent news, celebrity gossip and sports scores to seem legitimate.

This still works with some people.  We call those people “Too stupid to live.”

CONSPIRACY

Nearly 20 years ago, Hillary Clinton spoke of a “great conspiracy.”  She mentioned it once, but never again.  She was crushed by a carefully orchestrated press “offensive,” similar to the one that derailed her attempt to reform the healthcare and insurance system.

It was that same system that crashed the American economy in 2007 and has bilked the American public out of nearly $4 trillion in “bail outs.”  The American auto industry got bail outs too, petty change, quickly paid back and the country has been rewarded with new jobs, new plants opening and an unrivaled success story.

The insurance industry, on the other hand, keeps asking for more and more of our money.  In return, we get nothing but worse and worse health care, continual “scare tactic” lobbying and higher and higher salaries for executives of America’s least competent and deserving financial sector.

Was Hillary right, is there a grand conspiracy, one great cabal?  No conspiracy can thrive without the weak.  By weak, we don’t mean the poor.  The fertile ground for deception is those weak of soul.

In retrospect, the America that Bill and Hillary wanted to build, so many years ago, would have been a golden age, budget surpluses, health care for all, the bankster and insurance rackets on the run and Saddam probably overthrown by his own military.  By now, our 14 trillion dollar national debt would have been paid off entirely.

During the closing years of the Clinton administration, a shadowy group, Israeli ultra-nationalists, gun runners, banksters and Wall Street thugs, globalist power mongers and Pentagon fat-asses, hiding behind the Project for a New Century, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Council on Foreign Relations and Rand Corporation began moving.

Drawing on backing from the pharmaceutical racketeers, the nuclear poison lobby, “big coal” and the most powerful gang group of all, the Federal Reserve “System,” aided by the drug cartels of Mexico and Columbia, a plan was put into motion.  America was to be sacrificed.

9/11 was the “New Pearl Harbor” that would loosen the “dogs of theft.”

While the public was worked into a frenzy of fear and hate, orchestrated by false flag terrorism and internal strife stirred up by Fox News and their partners in the ill named “liberal press,” American would be overthrown, taken from plenty to want, from surplus to massive deficit, from peace to war, from freedom to totalitarianism and the public would eat it up like a dog lapping up vomit.

Decades had been spent dumbing down the public, prestaging Americans for destruction, for decline, for a future of pessimism and fear, of lowered expectations, of mistrust of government and each other.

America was targeted for paralysis.  The legions chosen to lead the way down this path, Christian Zionists, “red state know nothings” and liberal buffoons would make it all possible.

This group, America’s intellectually, culturally and morally derailed, gravitate toward fear and hate.  They are more interested in blaming and whining than fixing and doing.

Pop psychology would label most as narcissists but Inadequate Personality Disorder would be far more accurate.  This broad definition covers those who gravitate toward other social and intellectual cripples out of an inability to cope with reality. As there is nothing real about politics and less real about war, delusional types are at home.

As the quality of historical research improves, every war falls apart, every fight for freedom and human rights ends up exposed for what it really was, propagandists and racketeers killing off another generation of “useless humanity” to achieve some wild and esoteric goal.  Funny thing, the talk, the dreams of power, they all come back to the same things.  Why do those who seek power do so?

  • To reinforce the delusion that they are part of a “super-humanity” that shares power with the gods
  • To finance a lifestyle of sexual perversion and excess so as to avoid all thought of the ultimate void, death
  • To insulate themselves from their deserved fate, hanging and dismemberment at the hands of an angry mob armed with torches and pitchforks

The hierarchy within this group is a simple one, malignant narcissists, the sociopaths or “social psychopathic personality types” lead and others follow.  George “W” Bush, John Hagee and Sarah Palin are stereotypical of this group.  Their lives are typically a delicate balance of perceived persona and a less public “self” that suffers from bouts of addiction, paranoia and delusion and extreme grandiosity.

What is particularly amusing is hearing these degenerate blowhards and sick worthless bastards damn others.  In the end, Saddam, at his worst, never matched the death toll of Bush, Blair and Cheney.  None reached Stalin’s level, for sure, not for lack of trying.

Funny thing, the more morally corrupt and bloodthirsty the tyrant, the more overtly religious or “patriotic.”

There is one group that most parallels politicians.

Serial killers.

Serial killers do less harm.

NOTE:THIS IS A CROSS POST FROM VETERANS TODAY

 

 

Impact on Pakistan: withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

Obama announced withdrawal of 30,000 forces from Afghanistan. With the withdrawal of 30,000 troops, roughly 68,000 troops will still remain in Afghanistan. What impact this will or will not have on Afghanistan, is another debate altogether.  This withdrawal is proposed in three steps,5000 troops in first instance, another 5000 in the second and 10000 in the third go. What is obvious, is, with the US elections round the corner, it is a cotton candy being held out to the people of America, having come into power in the flush of promise to “bring the boys home”. A promise that Obama failed to fulfill. Further, the exorbitant costs of foreign wars at the expense of the Americans has become difficult to justify. A lot of ink has been wasted on cotton candy, I am sure more will!

The point of concern is, the two forked strategy being followed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Whereas, talks are underway between US and Taliban to work out a power sharing relationship  in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, the reverse strategy is in place. I mean, is it ok to support prostitution in one area and oppose it at another? Weird psychology, no?

Pakistan launched offensives against the militants in Bajaur, and  in Swat. Millions remain displaced to this date. Now, there are new pressures to launch an offensive in North Waziristan. The drone policy, killing thousands of Pakistanis , mostly women ,children, and defenseless people. Collateral damage, we are told!

There are some hard questions the establishment in Pakistan must face:

1-      Are the interests of USA in complete line with those of Pakistan? If different on certain tangents, what cost to Pakistan to follow through?

A friend, a retired Senior Office from the Air Force , argued Pakistan Army & ISI should have balanced both. He asks the Army and wrote to me, ”When you knew the Americans were double playing on you from day one by aiding and abetting criminals from Baluchistan and giving them safe haven in Afghanistan ,why did you not do the same to Americans?”.

This anger and feeling of being cheated, is reflective of the general people of Pakistan.

2-     Is Pakistan been “compensated” enough to compromise her dignity & sovereignty?

Hussain Haqqani, in a recent meeting to allay American misunderstandings on Pakistan, pointed out ,in a diplomatic tone, that  peanuts are being fed to the US monkey. US claim to have given 18-20 $ billion in assistance.

“These funds, strictly speaking, are not assistance. These cover the cost of fuel, ordnance, etc. used by Pakistan in counter-terrorism operations. Of the remaining $6-8 billion, nearly half the assistance was military assistance some of it to the previous government. This leaves about $3 billion which the present government has ostensibly received. Even here the monies appropriated under the Kerry Lugar Berman legislation in FY 2010 have not been fully disbursed”.(Dawn News 17th June 2011).

America is following a policy of pressurizing Pakistan from every possible end. Though, Pakistan’s inefficiency on some fronts does not help things, it is a fact that over the past months, the war on terror has shifted to Pakistan.

What impact will this “soft” withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will have on Pakistan? The answer is: Nothing.

If anything, it may come more sharply in focus and be placed under greater pressure than before on Pakistan.

Pakistan must stand on her feet and fight for her interests. She must stop being apologetic and where needed, clean up her backyard.

A friend wrote,” Our elders ” watered the tree of Independence by “their’ blood” so that our generation live with peace and honor…how much more blood
is to be let before we become an honorable people?”

I do not have the answer.

Do our leaders?

(The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. She teaches in a University & may be reached at yasmeen.a.9@gmail.com).

GREATER INDIAN OCEAN – A PEACEFUL GEO-POLITICAL PIVOT

OR A CONTENTIOUS SOURCE OF HEDGING

By Khan A. Sufyan 

      It was a peaceful and lazy Sunday morning on December 26, 2004 off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. At 07:58 the earth suddenly shook violently and continued to tremble for almost ten minutes. Thus began one of the worst disasters the world had ever witnessed; a 9.2 magnitude earthquake at a depth of 30 kilometers beneath Indian Ocean, 255 kilometers off the coast of Banda Aceh in Sumatra and was followed by a Tsunami with waves as high as 30 meters. The result was over 240,000 people dead in 15 countries as far away as Yemen and South Africa.

The emanation of disaster from one single point signified the centrality of Greater Indian Ocean to its littoral landmass ranging from Africa to the Greater Middle East to South Asia and to South East Asia. The massive humanitarian relief measures led primarily by the disparaging militaries of its littoral states and the US which by its large presence has almost become part of its greater littoral landmass also highlighted the unifying factor projected by the ocean. This also brought about the emergence of Eurasia as an interdependent geographical entity interwoven with its politico-economic and military imbroglios.

During the Cold War era, outside of European geographical zone, denial of Soviet access to warm waters was one of the primary US objectives in Indian Ocean. The Gawader port project at the mouth of Persian Gulf in Pakistan is not a new idea. In the 1960s Pakistan was coerced by the US to shelve the project fearing a Soviet push through Afghanistan to the warm waters. The push however did come in the dying moments of Soviet empire in the late 1970s. This proved to be the nemesis of Soviet empire leading not only to its undoing but also changing the world order.

Demise of Soviet Union also led to the shrinking of Europe’s geo-political significance. The US strategic focus thus increasingly shifted to become Asia-centric due to projected rise of new centers of politico-economic and military powers along the Indian Ocean Rim-land (IOR). Indian Ocean thus emerged as the centre of future power dynamics, conflict and military and trade activity in the 21st century. The theories of Alfred Thayer Mahan are likely to find new meanings when he said that, “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia. This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century, and that the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters.”

Though the US initiated its Asia-centric policy precepts earlier, the military shift was formalized much later. US Navy in its maritime strategy formulated in late 2007, announced that the focus of its activities would now be Pacific and Indian Oceans instead of Pacific and Atlantic Oceans which remained its primary concern for decades. US Marine Corps followed with its vision statement in 2008, indicating Pacific and Indian Oceans as being its primary zones of operation.

A major shift in US military strategy from being pre-dominantly Euro-centric Continental Strategic Format (primary land based operations) to Asia-centric Maritime Strategic Format (primary sea based operations) also emerged. This entailed maintaining US primacy and unhindered access to the Greater Indian Ocean including trade, energy and logistic transit zones and denial of Pacific to any inimical naval force which could threaten the US and its interests.

Roughly 40 percent of all daily seaborne traded oil (or 20 percent of oil traded worldwide) passes through the Strait of Hormuz in Persian Gulf. Over 50,000 vessels transit the Strait of Malacca per year to gain access to South China Sea. If the strait were blocked, nearly half of the world’s fleet would be required to reroute around the Indonesian archipelago through Lombok Strait, located between the islands of Bali and Lombok, or the Sunda Strait, located between Java and Sumatra. Over 3,000 oil tankers pass through the Suez Canal, to and from Bab al Mandab annually. 

Transnational threats, including narco-terrorism, gun running, sea piracy, immigration control and assistance during natural disasters, have spawned a multitude of additional “out of area” operational roles for regional navies, and have dramatically increased the maritime security challenges. Countering these threats and challenges requires consistent cooperation between the affected states and the associated maritime agencies.

IOR landmass is a heavily militarized zone but historically its Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs) have largely remained free of military intervention. And as majority of IOR states followed the Continental Strategy, naval forces have rarely been a strong element. However, India has been one of the exceptions as it selectively followed the Curzonian maritime strategy of dominance of Indian Ocean to maintain the largest naval force and militarized its outlying islands including Andaman and Nicobar situated at the mouth of strategic Malacca Straits.

The deployment of Indian Navy however, is instructive in many ways. Two thirds of Indian naval forces are deployed along its western coast. The strategic Malacca Strait is covered by a small Tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command. The major bias of operations is not towards the Eastern Indian Ocean which controls the entry into South China Sea against India’s declared enemy number one – China. The bias is towards Pakistan, domination of the strategic Straits of Hormuz in Persian Gulf and Bab el Mandab which links Mediterranean with Greater Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal. 

With introduction of US and its Allied naval powers in Indian Ocean though, Indian maritime power has largely been neutralized and its aspirations of Indian Ocean dominance severely undermined. With US 7th Fleet stationed in Japan and Chinese and Japanese naval powers operating in the South China Sea, which many analysts treat as an extension of Greater Indian Ocean, India can neither intrusively dominate the Malacca Straits nor can project its naval power into the South China Sea. With presence of US 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf and the sensitivity of Middle Eastern and European powers towards Bab el Mandab, Indian naval power projection here is also a no-go. If for a reason, India threatens to disrupt the international SLOCs, it will invite the wrath of international community. Therefore, Indian Navy which by 2015 is slated to become the 3rd largest two aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines navy in the world, would mainly remain a coercive force in being, providing anti-piracy support.

US, off-late has extensively engaged India enhancing the economic interaction and initiating a strategic partnership while attempting to garner Indian support for a countervailing and hedging effort against rising China. Apparently however, still immersed in the cold war farce of non-aligned neutrality syndrome, Indians have not reciprocated in the manner US expected it to. Therefore, without assimilating Japan and South Korea, India – US strategic partnership is likely to remain an intellectual strategic discussion forum and nothing beyond.

The Chinese on the other hand have handled the regional affairs rather prudently and in a manner which is in consonance with their interests. Their first intent is quite apparent, that while maintaining a regional stability maintain an appropriate balance of power in the South China Sea. Concurrently they also intend to project southwards into the Indian Ocean in order to bypass the strategic choke points at Malacca, Sunda and Lambok Straits in order to gain direct access to Indian Ocean. At this stage however, there is no indication of an apparent Chinese intent to militarily intrude into the sensitive Pacific pathway leading to mainland US.

In order to maintain appropriate balance of power in the South China Sea, current Chinese strategy is based on sea denial. For this their emphasis has been on induction of offensive weapon systems like the diesel and nuclear powered submarines (about 68 in number) and cutting edge shore to ship weapon engagement platforms. The recent news about development of shore based ballistic missiles to engage large moving targets at sea, 5th generation fighter bomber and future induction of aircraft carriers would have major strategic implications for the Greater Indian Ocean.

China’s extension into the Indian Ocean is a strategic necessity for sustenance of her economic rise. However Chinese mainland does not border the shores of main Indian Ocean and can only transit through other littoral states. Pakistan and Myanmar are the only two states which can provide politically viable trade and energy transit zones. No wonder both these countries were not invited to become members of Indian sponsored, Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC).

      In future therefore, these two countries by default would become an extension of China into the Indian Ocean and thus acquire strategic importance for China in geo-political and geo-strategic terms. In these emerging environments, an attempted Indian naval blockade of Pakistani ports would be construed as blockade of mainland China. In addition to this, US interests in Afghanistan and beyond are also supported through Pakistani ports. The colluding interests of US, China and Pakistan thus puts a limit on Indian navy’s coercive initiatives.

US is not likely to obstruct Chinese entry into the strategic Indian Ocean zones and would even discourage India to counter such moves, provided the motive of such moves is primarily economic and not aimed at intrusive military presence. By not positioning its naval assets at ports it built in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, China has attempted to reinforce its non-military intent and dispel international concerns. Also, taking a leaf out of US strategy, the Chinese are responding in a quid pro quo by shaping and hedging of their own while continuing to improve and refine its response capabilities.

A peaceful economic rise and development of IOR is a common objective for Chinn as well as the US and other powers having interests in the IOR. It is a win-win situation for all and the best bet to ensure this is by maintenance of stability, at regional and sub-regional levels to limit the chances of a conflict, which may spiral out of control and may result in undermining this peaceful furtherance.                                                                                                                               * Khan A. Sufyan is a security analyst on South Asia and has advised government, semi-government and private organizations and institutions on national and international security issues, as well as participating in number of national and international seminars and presented papers on various regional and global security issues.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  NOTE:This is a cross post from Eurasia.Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road From Abbottabad Leads to Lame Analysis

By: C.Christine Fair

Enough fresh ink has been spilled about the harrowing straits through which the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is passing. While cooler heads such as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates are seeking to explain to audiences at home and abroad the importance of the relationship, the genuine challenges that inhere in the bilateral partnership, and imagine a workable path forward; many other commentators have taken the recent events in Pakistan as an opportunity to stoke further anger and mistrust between the wary governments and their peoples.

While the Pakistani press is rife with caricatures of U.S. policy, distorted versions of history, and outright falsehoods, American journalists are capable of equal chicanery. Mr. Christopher Hitchens’ latest offering in Vanity Fair, “From Abbottabad to Worse,” is an appalling example of American commentary that undermines the efforts of saner voices in this critical debate.

His piece commences with a dramatic reference to rape — not as a crime but as a punishment — and honor killing. The former refers to the rare, horrific instances where women and girls are subject to sexual assault by, in the words of the author, “tribal and religious kangaroo courts.” The latter refers to killing women (and sometimes men) in the name of honor. In this paragraph a complex polity of 180 million — most of whom condemn both practices — are essentialized as a barbarous people who embrace the notion that “moral courage consists of the willingness to butcher your own daughter.” This literary amuse bouche foretells the absurdities, fallacies and dubious assertions in the rest of his troubling account of Pakistan’s malaise.

He next characterizes President Asif Zardari as a man who “cringes daily in front of the forces who[sic] openly murdered his wife… A man so lacking in pride — indeed lacking in manliness — will seek desperately to compensate in other ways. Swelling his puny chest even more, he promises to resist the mighty United States, and to defend Pakistan’s holy “sovereignty.” This offensive passage reveals more about the psychology of the author than it does about that of President Zardari.

What are these “forces” that killed Benazir Bhutto? Mr. Hitchens wants the bravado of casting aspersions upon the Pakistani government. After all, only the government would have the authority to “contemptuously” order the crime scene to be “cleansed with fire hoses, as if to spit even on the pretense of an investigation.” (Regrettably, all crime scenes — big and small –are handled in this way in Pakistan.) However, there is no evidence that the government of Pakistan — then under President Musharraf — ordered her death. However, Mr. Hitchens here and throughout takes refuge in the pusillanimity of the passive tense by which he can intimate all the outlandish claims he wants without the responsibility of employing the active tense which requires him to name the agent of the action suggested. In fact, the U.S. government has consistently claimed that elements of the Pakistan Taliban ordered her death.

President Musharraf suffered considerably from her murder. Those with even a 4-year recollection of politics in Pakistan would remember that the United States had brokered a bizarre condominium by which Pervez Musharraf would remain president while Ms. Bhutto would become the Prime Minister following elections which were scheduled for late 2007. Musharraf had become politically isolated following a series of horrendous missteps and abuses of power. However, Washington was unwilling to let Musharraf slink into oblivion. So it devised a compact by which Mr. Musharraf could be laundered through the electoral legitimacy of Ms. Bhutto. With her demise — and even public suspicion that he or his government had her killed — Mr. Musharraf’s political life in Pakistan was finished. He now lives in London with various legal woes awaiting him in Pakistan.

Mr. Hitchens’ answer to “Why do they hate us” is no less preposterous and misleading. He contends that Pakistanis dislike the United States because they “owe us, and are dependent upon us.” This is simply a mathematical canard. According to the USAID Green Book, in 2009, total economic assistance to Pakistan came to $1.35 billion and military assistance totaled $0.429 (for a grand sum of $1.78 billion). In 2009, Pakistan’s gross domestic product was $162 billion. Calling this is a dependency is an obvious stretch. (In fairness, I too have been guilty of lapsing into this idiom until I crunched the numbers.)

By way of contrast, the United States gave Israel $2.43 billion in total economic and military assistance in 2009. Israel’s GDP was $204 billion. As a percentage of GDP, U.S. total assistance to both countries are nearly the same (around 1 percent). Between 1962 and 2009, total economic and military assistance to Israel totaled $178 billion in constant 2009 U.S. dollars. In the same period, U.S. military and economic aid to Pakistan comes to $37 billion in constant 2009 U.S. dollars. But would Mr. Hitchens describe Israel as being dependent upon Washington? By his own argumentation, he would have to answer in the affirmative.

However, from the optic of the American legislator and citizen alike, U.S. assistance to Pakistan appears to be a relatively large sum that should prompt positive feelings for America, or at least dampen raging anti-U.S. sentiment, among Pakistanis. And Americans do expect their funds will be used to a good end rather than be gobbled up by corruption in the host nation and by their own national contractors who are often first-tier executors of U.S. projects. Americans also expect their economic assistance to buy them some sway with Pakistan due to other larger economic factors such as the U.S. role in the International Monetary Fund and other multi-lateral actors which has helped Pakistan considerably. Other forms of assistance such as debt relief are also important beyond the sum it totals. And the United States has been the biggest investor in Pakistan’s human development, trumping Saudi Arabia and China long embraced as Pakistan’s enduring friends. Mr. Hitchens characterization of Pakistan as “our goddam [sic] lapdog” is out of line.

However, the circus of inaccuracy is far from over. Mr. Hitchens then proceeds to announce that “Everybody knew that al-Qaeda forces were being sheltered in the Pakistani frontier town of Quetta…” Mr. Hitchens of course takes refuge again in the passive voice to avoid saying precisely who sheltered al Qaeda. It would appear that the author has confused al Qaeda (an international terrorist organization) and the Afghan Taliban (a regressive Pashtun-dominated Deobandi insurgent organization presently focused upon the international occupation of Afghanistan). The former has not been harbored by the Pakistani state while the latter has been a long-standing client.

He continues to distort the entire record of Pakistan when it comes to al Qaeda. Pakistan has been a critical partner in capturing al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. In fact, had it not been for this baseline cooperation, the United States would not have even been a position to kill bin Laden in the first instance.

There is at least one practical reason for Pakistan’s cooperation: al Qaeda has targeted Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership for years. In 2009, al Zawahiri denounced Pakistan’s constitution as un-Islamic. Al Qaeda’s sectarian allies such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipha-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan has killed or maimed tens of thousands of Pakistanis since 2004. Al Qaeda is not an asset for Pakistan as the author suggests.

Pakistan’s record on al Qaeda has been evident and positive even while Pakistan sustains ties with the Afghan Taliban and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. While these groups are foes of the United States, neither the Afghan Taliban nor Lashkar-e-Taiba has targeted Pakistan nor have they embraced the Pakistani Taliban. This has been an invariant truth since the onset of the Global War on Terror in 2001. The United States and Pakistan have an ever-more restricted overlap of foes which makes future cooperation seem increasingly unproductive if not counterproductive to both nations’ aims.

Hitchens next describes his own shock that “Osama bin Laden himself would be given a villa in a Pakistani garrison town on Islamabad’s periphery.” Dodging again behind the passive tense, he offers no evidence for this reckless and dangerous assertion. In contrast to Mr. Hitchens, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that he had seen evidence that suggested Pakistan’s senior officials were unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. Hitchens’ claim that the state sheltered Pakistan is feckless journalism that encourages further ignorant speculation among publics who have no real understanding of the other and their governments.

And, for the record, Abbottabad is not on the periphery of Islamabad unless one redefines the word periphery. The word is defined as “the edge or outskirts, as of a city or urban area.” While the distance between the two cities, as a crow would fly, is about 67 miles, because Abbottabad is “hill station” resort town, the road is windy, indirect and covers an altitude climb of about 2,500 feet. Periphery implies a jaunt to the suburbs. But the drive is about 2.5 hours depending upon conditions and the quality of your car. Describing Abbottabad as in the periphery of Islamabad is either geographically obtuse or a deliberate attempt to make it sound as if bin Laden was pacing back and forth in a suburb of the nation’s capital. Someone should introduce Mr. Hitchens to Google Earth and if not him, then Vanity Fair‘s fact checker –should there be one.

Hitchens is correct in noting that Pakistanis of all strata are deeply outraged that U.S. Navy SEALS came into Abbottabad — a garrison-town — to catch bin Laden without hindrance and with impunity. However, his outrage at Pakistani outrage is misplaced. Of course, Pakistanis should feel so violated because they were. As an American, I support the raid that eliminated this terrorist. However, from the optic of many Pakistanis, they first had to contend with the notion that bin Laden was in their country and second that the United States stormed their airspace, conducted a firefight for 40 minutes in a garrison town and then escaped with its dead quarry all before the Pakistanis could even scramble their F-16s.

Pakistanis themselves began wondering whether their military could protect them from India and whether the United States could act with equal ease to eliminate their nuclear program. Needless to say, all of this came on the back of years of drone attacks against terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas. While the facts about the drone program in Pakistan are grotesquely distorted and obscured by Pakistani and American officials, ultimately perception matters more than reality. Pakistanis, especially beyond FATA, loathe them as weekly assaults upon their nation’s sovereignty. The bin Laden raid was just the latest and most brazen of assaults on the country and demonstrated the incapacity or will of the military or intelligence agencies to stop the United States. Who would not be demoralized and outraged by these events?

Pakistanis — more than Mr. Hitchens — understand the limits of their country’s ability to extend rule of law throughout the land, to protect them from the ravages of terrorists and proxies gone wild alike, to grow the economy fast enough to accommodate Pakistan’s burgeoning population, among other challenges.

Similarly the American hysteria over Pakistan’s capture and detention of Pakistanis who collaborated on the raid — while understandable — is unfair. Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, knows full well that the CIA is operating against the organization perhaps as much if not more than it cooperates with it. The Pakistanis who assisted the raid were traitors to Pakistan by law because they aided and abetted a foreign intelligence agency. This is what domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies do: ferret out and capture traitors. The United States does the same thing when their citizens help foreign spy organizations. Americans and Pakistanis alike hope that Pakistan will show equal diligence to determining who knew about bin Laden and who was involved in giving the mass murderer succor. Time will tell if this is the case.

Navigating this strained relationship under the pressures of reality is hard enough. However, accounts like that of Hitchens and others here and in Pakistan, dims the prospects for salvaging a relationship that is extremely important for the United States if not for Pakistan. And one has to wonder if that’s not the very goal of such fact-free musings.

*C. Christine Fair is an assistant professor at Georgetown University, Center for Peace and Security Studies and the author of the political cookbook, Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States and Pakistan’s Madrassah Challenge: Militancy and Religious Education in Pakistan. She can be followed on Twitter cchristinefair.

NOTE:This is a cross post from Huffington Post.

Today in Endless War

BY GLENN GREENWALD

As usual, there are multiple events from just the last 24 hours vividly highlighting the nature of America’s ongoing — and escalating — posture of Endless War:

(1) In December, 2009, President Obama spoke at West Point and, while announcing his decision to (yet again) deploy more troops to Afghanistan, he assured the nation in a much-heralded vow that “after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”  He repeated that claim in May, 2010, prompting headlines declaring that Obama has set July, 2011 (four months before the election) as the target date for when “withdrawal” from Afghanistan will begin.  Now we’re less than two weeks away from that target, and The New York Times today makes clearwhat “withdrawal” actually means:

 

President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in a speech on Wednesday evening . . . Mr. Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.. . . .

Even after all 30,000 troops are withdrawn, roughly 68,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan, twice the number as when Mr. Obama assumed office.

 

So even under the most “aggressive” withdrawal plan the President is considering — one that he and media outlets will undoubtedly tout as a “withdrawal plan” (the headline on the NYT front page today: “Obama to Announce Plans for Afghan Pullout”) — there will still be “twice the number” of American troops in that country as there were when George Bush left office and Obama was inaugurated.  That’s what “withdrawal” means in American political parlance: doubling the number of troops fighting a foreign war over the course of four years.

 

(2) So frivolous and lawless are Obama’s excuses for waging war in Libya in violation of the War Powers Resolution that they have provoked incredibly harsh condemnations even from those who typically defend the President.  In The Washington Post today, Eugene Robinsonaggressively denounces Obama’s arguments for waging war without Congress:

 

Let’s be honest: President Obama’s claim that U.S. military action in Libya doesn’t constitute “hostilities” is nonsense, and Congress is right to call him on it.

Blasting dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s troops and installations from above with unmanned drone aircraft may or may not be the right thing to do, but it’s clearly a hostile act. Likewise, providing intelligence, surveillance and logistical support that enable allied planes to attack Gaddafi’s military — and, increasingly, to target Gaddafi himself — can only be considered hostile. These are acts of war.

Yet Obama, with uncommon disregard for both language and logic, takes the position that what we are doing in Libya does not reach the “hostilities” threshold for triggering the War Powers Act, under which presidents must seek congressional approval for any military campaign lasting more than 90 days. House Speaker John Boehner said Obama’s claim doesn’t meet the “straight-face test,” and he’s right. . . .

Most important, what are we doing there? Are we in Libya for altruistic or selfish reasons? Principles or oil? Assuming Gaddafi is eventually deposed or killed, then what? Do we just sail away? Or will we be stuck with yet another ruinously expensive exercise in nation building?

There’s also a moral question to consider. The advent of robotic drone aircraft makes it easier to wage war without suffering casualties. But without risk, can military action even be called war? Or is it really just slaughter?

 

Afghan War advocate Andrew Exum similarly condemns Obama’s attempt to justify violation of the WPR as “simply one of the stupidest things I’ve read in some time” and — echoing Robinson — proclaims that “it does not pass the laugh test.”  And in The New York Times, Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman explains that, through their lawyer-cherry-picking, “the White House has shattered the traditional legal process the executive branch has developed to sustain the rule of law over the past 75 years,” and adds:

 

From a moral perspective, there is a significant difference between authorizing torture and continuing a bombing campaign that may save thousands of Libyans from slaughter by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. But from a legal viewpoint, Mr. Obama is setting an even worse precedent.

Although Mr. Yoo’s memos made a mockery of the applicable law, they at least had the approval of the Office of Legal Counsel. In contrast, Mr. Obama’s decision to disregard that office’s opinion and embrace the White House counsel’s view is undermining a key legal check on arbitrary presidential power.

 

And it’s always worth recalling that this is being done by a President who made restoration of “the rule of law” a centerpiece of his campaign.

 

(3) In Mother JonesNYU Law School’s Karen Greenberg notes a trend that was as predictable as it is destructive: rather than signal an end to the “War on Terror,” the killing of Osama bin Laden has been seized upon by the bipartisan National Security State — led by the Obama administration — to expand its posture of Endless War and accelerateits assault on civil liberties.  Citing multiple examples subsequent to the bin Laden killing, she correctly observes:

 

The Obama administration and Congress have interpreted the killing of al-Qaeda’s leader as a virtual license to double downon every “front” in the war on terror. . . . One thing could not be doubted. The administration was visibly using the bin Laden moment to renew George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror(even if without that moniker). . . . In other words, Washington now seems to be engaged in a wholesale post-bin Laden ratification of business as usual, but this time on steroids.

 

One of the more absurd (though, as a matter of hope, understandable) claims I’ve heard in quite awhile was that the killing of bin Laden would trigger a reduction in the abuses of the War on Terror — as though bin Laden was truly the cause of those abuses rather than the pretext for them.  The morning after the bin Laden killing, I wrote the following, addressing those optimistically proclaiming its likely benefits:

 

Are we going to fight fewer wars or end the ones we’ve started? Are we going to see a restoration of some of the civil liberties which have been eroded at the altar of this scary Villain Mastermind? Is the War on Terror over? Are we Safer now?

Those are rhetorical questions. None of those things will happen. If anything, I can much more easily envision the reverse. Whenever America uses violence in a way that makes its citizens cheer, beam with nationalistic pride, and rally around their leader, more violence is typically guaranteed. Futile decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may temporarily dampen the nationalistic enthusiasm for war, but two shots to the head of Osama bin Laden — and the We are Great and Good proclamations it engenders — can easily rejuvenate that war love. One can already detect the stench of that in how Pakistan is being talked about: did they harbor bin Laden as it seems and, if so, what price should they pay? We’re feeling good and strong about ourselves again — and righteous — and that’s often the fertile ground for more, not less, aggression.

 

Read Greenberg’s piece, including the numerous examples she examines, to see if there’s any doubt that this is exactly what is happening.

 

(4) The war in Libya is starting to resemble virtually every other war: commenced with claimed humanitarian justifications; supported by well-meaning people convinced by the stated, official objectives; hailed as a short and easy task (“days, not weeks”); and then warped into a bloody, protracted conflict far from the original claims and without any real end in sight.  Earlier this week, one of the war’s most vocal supporters, Juan Cole, produced a list he entitled “Top Ten Mistakes in the Libya War,” including Obama’s failure to get Congressional approval, that “NATO has focused on a ‘shock and awe’ strategy of pounding the capital, Tripoli,” and that “NATO put its emphasis on taking out command and control in the capital instead of vigorously protecting civilian cities under attack.”

Perhaps that’s because “vigorously protecting civilians” was the pretext for the war, not the actual aim.  Yesterday, NATO admitted it killed multiple civilians — apparently including children — by bombing a house in a residential area.  It’s difficult to know exactly how many civilians NATO has killed thus far because Western armies don’t count their victims and the Gadaffi government’s claims are obviously unreliable, but whatever is true — including the fact that such killings are not intended —  they are the inevitable by-product of invading and bombing other countries.  The logic of war ensures that almost every conflict becomes more and more about such killing and less and less about the original lofty excuses for why they were started.

It’s thus not a surprise that 39 neocons — hilariously calling themselves“foreign policy experts” (including John Podhoretz, Liz Cheney, Gary Bauer, Marty Peretz, Karl Rove, Marc Theissen, and Bill Kristol) — issued a letter yesterday urging steadfast support for (and escalation of) the Libya War. Lofty justifications notwithstanding, this is exactly what they favor: long-term, endless domination of the Muslim world through military force and control over their governments.  That’s what the war in Libya, intended or not, has become.

 

(5) Perhaps most amazingly of all, this policy of Endless War endures even as official Washington inexorably plans — in the midst of still-booming economic inequality and suffering — to slash entitlements in the name of austerity.  Bizarrely, while more and more Republicans continue to recognize the growing foreign policy split in their Party (Ross Douthatand Joe Scarborough are the latest to side with the “isolationists” against the war-mongering neocons), many establishment liberals seem to be laying the groundwork for those cuts.  Yesterday, Matt Yglesias said he was “disillusioned” by alarmism over vast income inequality because, he assured everyone, things aren’t particularly good for the super-rich; meanwhile Digby — in a piece highly worth reading — examines how some liberal pundits (her example is Ezra Klein) seem to be doing the GOP’s work (and, more significantly, the White House’s) in justifying entitlement cuts.

(Glenn Greenwald  is an American lawyer, columnist, blogger, and author).

NOTE:This is a cross post from Salon.com

 

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