Israel asks U.S. for arms, air corridor to attack Iran

Israel asks U.S. for arms, air corridor to attack Iran

By Amos Harel and Aluf Benn,
The security aid package the United States has refused to give Israel for the past few months out of concern that Israel would use it to attack nuclear facilities in Iran included a large number of “bunker-buster” bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system and refueling planes.

Officials from both countries have been discussing the Israeli requests over the past few months. Their rejection would make it very difficult for Israel to attack Iran, if such a decision is made.

About a month ago, Haaretz reported that the Bush administration had turned down an Israeli request for certain security items that could upgrade Israel’s capability to attack Iran. The U.S. administration reportedly saw the request as a sign preparations were moving ahead for an Israeli attack on Iran.

Advertisement

Diplomatic and security sources indicated to Haaretz that the list of components Israel included:

Bunker-buster GBU-28 bombs: In 2005, the U.S. said it was supplying these bombs to Israel. In August 2006, The New York Times reported that the U.S. had expedited the dispatch of additional bombs at the height of the Second Lebanon War. The bombs, which weigh 2.2 tons each, can penetrate six meters of reinforced concrete. Israel appears to have asked for a relatively large number of additional bunker-busters, and was turned down.

Air-space authorization: An attack on Iran would apparently require passage through Iraqi air space. For this to occur, an air corridor would be needed that Israeli fighter jets could cross without being targeted by American planes or anti-aircraft missiles. The Americans also turned down this request. According to one account, to avoid the issue, the Americans told the Israelis to ask Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for permission, along the lines of “If you want, coordinate with him.”

Refueling planes. An air attack on Iran would require refueling of fighter jets on the way back. According to a report on Channel 10 a few weeks ago, the U.S. rejected an Israeli request for more advanced refueling tankers, of the Boeing 767 model.

The refueling craft the Israel Air Force now uses are very outmoded, something that make it difficult to operate at long distances from Israel. Even if the Americans were to respond favorably to such a request, the process could take a few years.

The IDF recently reported that it is overhauling a Boeing 707 that previously served as the prime minister’s plane to serve as a refueling aircraft.

Advanced technological systems. The Israeli sources declined to give any details on this point.

The Israeli requests were discussed during President George W. Bush’s visit to Israel in May, as well as during Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Washington in July. In a series of meetings at a very senior level, following Bush’s visit, the Americans made clear to the Israelis that for now they are sticking to the diplomatic option to halt the Iranian nuclear project and that Jerusalem does not have a green light from Washington for an attack on Iran.

However, it appears that in compensation for turning down Israel’s “offensive” requests, the U.S. has agreed to strengthen its defensive systems.

During the Barak visit, it was agreed that an advanced U.S. radar system would be stationed in the Negev, and the order to send it was made at that time. The system would double to 2,000 kilometers the range of identification of missiles launched from the direction of Iran, and would be connected to an American early warning system.

The system is to be operated by American civilians as well as two American soldiers. This would be the first permanent U.S. force on Israeli soil.

A senior security official said the Americans were preparing “with the greatest speed” to make good on their promise, and the systems could be installed within a month.

The Israeli security source said he believed Washington was moving ahead quickly on the request because it considered it very important to restrain Israel at this time.

At the beginning of the year, the Israeli leadership still considered it a reasonable possibility that Bush would decide to attack Iran before the end of his term.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in private discussions, even raised the possibility that the U.S. was considering an attack in the transition period between the election in November and the inauguration of the new president in January 2009.

However, Jerusalem now assumes that likelihood of this possibility is close to nil, and that Bush will use the rest of his time in office to strengthen what he defines as the Iraqi achievement, following the relative success of American efforts there over the past year and a half.

Kayani warns US to keep its troops out

Kayani warns US to keep its troops out

By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 10: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has rejected US claims that the rules of engagement gave the coalition forces in Afghanistan the right to enter Pakistan and declared that the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will be defended at all costs.

In a statement issued here on Wednesday, the COAS said: “The rules of engagement with the coalition forces are well defined and within that the right to conduct operations against the militants inside own territory is solely the responsibility of the respective armed forces.

“There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border,” he said.Gen Kayani’s statement dispelled a perception that some of the air strikes carried out inside Pakistan by drones and warplanes of the US-led coalition had been authorised by Islamabad.

The statement has come on the heels of President George Bush’s description of the Afghan-Pakistan border area as a frontline in the war on terror and against the backdrop of a series of incursions by Nato forces in which missiles were fired from unmanned drones in the tribal areas and at least one incident ground troops attacked the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan.

Observers here saw in the COAS statement a strong rebuttal of the oft-repeated assertions by the western media and political and military figures that US and Nato forces in Afghanistan had a ‘right’ to take their war on terror into Pakistan.

Pakistan has been asserting that any credible information about terrorists in Pakistan should be provided to it and that its forces were fully capable of acting on it.

Although it was not the first attack by Nato forces inside Pakistan, the increase in the frequency of attacks days before the presidential election in Pakistan was seen by many as a major shift in the US policy towards Pakistan.

The army chief referred to his meeting with US senior officers on the USS Abraham Lincoln on August 27 and said that they had been informed about the complexity of the issue that required an in-depth understanding and more patience for evolving a comprehensive solution. He said that Pakistan’s viewpoint was elaborated in detail and it was stressed that in such situations, the military action alone could not solve the problem. Political reconciliatory efforts were required along with military action to win hearts and minds of the people.

During the discussion, the imperative of public support at large for military operations also came under discussion.

Later, United States Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen acknowledged a better understanding of ground realities by the COAS and remarked: “He (the COAS) is committed to doing what is best for Pakistan and he is going to stay the same.” He reiterated that ultimately it was “our national interest which will always guide our policy”.

General Kayani also regretted the killing of innocent civilians in the Angoor Adda incident on Sept 4. He said that such ‘reckless actions’ only helped the militants and further fuelled the militancy in the area. He said the Pakistan Army had conducted successful operations against the militants in the past and at present was committed to eliminating them from the affected areas of Fata and Swat.

“Our security forces have given huge sacrifices in this war and it is the presence of the army which has denied the freedom of movement and operation to Al Qaeda and the affiliates.” He said that the support of the people of Pakistan would play a decisive role.

The COAS stressed the need for a collaborative approach for better understanding of a highly complex issue. He said that trust-deficit and misunderstandings could lead to more complications and increase the difficulties for all. The constraints of operating in these areas must never be lost sight of.

“There are no quick fixes in this war. Falling for short-term gains while ignoring our long-term interest is not the right way forward. To succeed, the coalition forces will be required to display strategic patience and help the other side the way they want it rather than adopting a unilateral approach which may be counter productive.”

General Kayani said it was a multi-pronged approach fully supported by the people of Pakistan which would help “us defeat the threat of internal terrorism”.

The increased incursions by Nato forces into Pakistan were discussed recently in parliament with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi describing the raids as “regrettable and counter-productive”.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who addressed a press conference with President Asif Ali Zardari hours after the latter was sworn in as the new head of state, also voiced concern over the killing of civilians in the two countries and said that civilian killings could not be tolerated. He said that sanctuaries of the terrorists, and not the civilians, should be the target.

The attacks also forced Pakistan to discontinue logistic support to the Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Besides air strikes, helicopter-borne American Special Operations forces recently attacked Al Qaeda militants in a Pakistani village near the Afghan border — the first publicly acknowledged case of US forces having conducted a ground raid on Pakistani soil.

Previously, allied forces in Afghanistan occasionally carried out air strikes and artillery attacks in the border region of Pakistan.

But the commando raid by the American forces signalled what top American officials said could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, a secret plan that Defence Secretary Robert Gates has been advocating for months within President Bush’s war council, a US paper recently commented.

The Bush administration has criticised Pakistan in recent months for not doing enough to curb attacks by the Taliban and Al Qaeda which keep bases inside the Pakistani tribal region and cross the border to attack American and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Is this the Pakistan that America Wants?

Is this the Pakistan that America Wants?

Pakistani protesters burn U.S. flag and an effigy of U.S. President George Bush to condemn alleged strikes in Pakistani tribal areas along Afghanistan border, Wednesday, Sept 10, 2008 in Multan, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

Pakistani protesters burn U.S. flag and an effigy of U.S. President George Bush to condemn US air and ground assault on Pakistan. Wednesday, Sept 10, 2008 in Multan, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer) This is not a progress in the battle for hearts and minds. The sane minds in Western capital have to realize that war and bombing is no argument. What we see in this picture is a reaction, not action. So is what is going on in other parts of Pakistan.(Khalid Tanveer – AP)

Disaster in Afghanistan

Disaster in Afghanistan

By John W. Warnock

It is difficult to find out what is really going on in Afghanistan. The focus of the mass media is almost entirely on the military activities of the Canadian and NATO forces. There is absolutely no coverage of political developments.  The news on the economy is limited to the state of the poppy industry. This is no accident. The North American media, including the CBC, has strongly supported the U.S./NATO strategy and the administration of President Hamid Karzai. Contrary to the mainstream message, things are not going well.

Rise in civilian casualties

Over the past few weeks NATO forces have killed civilians in a number of incidents, and popular opposition to the western military effort is increasing. On August 22 the United States bombed the village of Azizabad in Herat province; the result was the death of 91 civilians, including over 60 children. Rockets and missiles were also used. Many homes were destroyed. Local citizens stoned the Afghan army when they tried to distribute supplies. NATO forces in Paktika province launched an artillery attack on a village on September 1 as part of a general sweep-and-destroy mission against Taliban forces. Three children were killed and seven injured. That same day U.S. and Afghan forces carried out an overnight raid in Hud Kheil, east of Kabul. A family of four, including two children, were killed when hand grenades were thrown into their house. In Kabul hundreds blocked the main road out of town protesting the military practices of the international forces.

Afghan government and NATO attacks In response to the steady increase of civilian deaths this year, the Afghan parliament passed a resolution in August calling on the Karzai administration to negotiate a new status-of-forces agreement with NATO and United States, making it consistent with Afghan and international law. President Karzai’s cabinet demanded “an end to air attacks in civilian areas, illegal detentions and unilateral house searches.” There is growing opposition to the presence of the occupying forces. The Senlis Council reported in June 2008 that in their most recent recent public opinion survey “more than six out of ten of those interviewed … said that foreign troops should leave.” This is the position taken by many of the democratic parties in Afghanistan. Malalai Joya, the outspoken critic of the Karzai government, has called for all foreign troops to leave the country. She argues that Afghans can settle this dispute better on their own.

The approaching famine

However, the most important current issue in Afghanistan is the drought, the crop failure, and the prospect of famine. This story has received no coverage in the North American media. Over the last winter Afghanistan received well-below normal rainfall and mountain snow pack. The spring runoff was light, and crop yields from irrigated agriculture have been significantly reduced. There are conditions of drought throughout the country. In many areas there are no crops and livestock has perished from lack of pasture. Wheat provides the staple food, and production is 60 percent below average. Recent rains have brought flooding, as the land has been hardened by the drought. Floods are more common because over the past few decades 60% of the woodland has been removed by the population seeking fuel for cooking and winter heating. The jump in fuel prices has raised the cost of the delivery of food from neighbouring countries. Food prices are rising. The price of a 50 kg bag of wheat flour is now $35. One half of the population in Afghanistan lives on less than $2 per day. The government of Afghanistan reports that 42% of the population lives in “extreme poverty”, defined as a per capita income of less than $120 per year. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan reported in August that “at least four million most vulnerable people have already been pushed into the ‘high-risk food-insecurity ‘ category.” Children are the most vulnerable. One in five children die before the age of five, mainly due to malnutrition. In response, the United Nations and other food agencies have called for an emergency fund of $404 million in order to purchase food. To date less than 20% has been forthcoming from donor countries.

What is happening to women’s rights?

Supporters of the U.S. project in Afghanistan always point to how many girls are now going to school. But as Ann Jones points out, the number cited (5 million) is fewer than half the children of school age. In Kabul 85% are in school; in the Pashtun south, less than 20% and “near zero for girls.” Radio Free Afghanistan’s Jan Alekozai recently toured eastern Afghanistan. He noted that there were schools but no teachers, no chairs and tables, no electricity or water, no books, and no labs. “The participation of women is zero in the provinces,” he argued. While some are going to school “they cannot walk, for example, in a park – or with their families.” In February 2008 Womankind Worldwide (UK) released a survey of the status of women in Afghanistan. They found that 87% of Afghan women report domestic violence, 60% of all marriages are still forced, and 57% of all recent marriages involved girls under the age of sixteen, which is contrary to the law. Ann Jones, who spent a number of years in Afghanistan working for women’s rights, is not surprised. President Karzai’ wife is a qualified gynecologist but does not practice her skills. She remains locked up in the presidential fortress, the Arg, and is not seen by the general public. Since the onset of the 20th century, she is the first wife of a state leader who has not publicly championed women’s rights.

Change of regime in Afghanistan

Few Canadians would know that there is a presidential election scheduled for Afghanistan in 2009. Hamid Karzai has announced that he will run again. After his tour of eastern Afghanistan, Jan Alekozai reported strong opposition to the local warlords and the Karzai government. He judged that Karzai would have a hard time getting 20% of the votes in the 2009 election. The people blame the Americans and NATO for the increase in the power of the warlords. The main opposition to Karzai will come from the United National Front, which is largely a coalition of the warlords and Islamist leaders based in the parliament. They have demanded a change in the constitution to bring in a parliamentary system of government with political parties and elections by proportional representation. The Front is dominated by the Islamist forces from the Northern Alliance. The Front has called for a new international meeting to settle the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan. This would be hosted by the United Nations and include all neighbouring states as well as representation from Afghanistan’s political groups, including the armed opposition. In late August Fazel Sangcharaki, speaking for the Front, stated that many foreign envoys have supported this proposal. But the problem is the opposition of the U.S. government.

Canadian government stresses militarism

The policy of the Canadian government since 2001 has been to put the highest priority on its military role in Afghanistan. In support of the Afghan “war on terrorism”, the Canadian government has been spending around $1 billion per year on the military and only $100 million on humanitarian assistance and economic development. Much of the military budget has been spent on acquiring new military hardware, needed for counter-insurgency warfare.. Just before Stephen Harper forced a fall election, polls emerged which showed that Canadians remain skeptical of the role in Afghanistan. A poll by Ipsos Reid for the Department of National Defence revealed that the majority of Canadians still want Canada to emphasize peacekeeping. A CBC poll done by Environics reported that 56% of Canadians disapprove of Canada’s military role in Afghanistan. Since the March 2008 agreement by the Conservatives and Liberals to extend Canada’s mission to 2011, Afghanistan has largely disappeared from political discussion. The challenge for Canadians is to make this disastrous war in Afghanistan an issue in the current election.

John W. Warnock is a Regina political economist and author of Creating a Failed State: the US and Canada in Afghanistan. (Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, May 2008).

A secret meeting of Congress discusses immanent martial law.

A secret meeting of Congress discusses immanent martial law.

As America Collapses US Government Secret Plans Revealed

Posted by indglass on May 21, 2008

B.A. Brooks

The United American Freedom Foundation

March 13, 2008

On March 13th 2008 there was a secret closed door meeting of The United States House Of Representatives in Washington. In the history of The United States this is only the fourth time a secret meeting was held by the house. Even though Representatives are sworn to secrecy by House Rules XVII, some of the members were so shocked, horrified, furious, and concerned about the future of America by what was revealed to them inside the secret meeting, that they have started to leak this secret information to independent news agencies around the world. The mass media said almost nothing about the secret meeting of the House, mentioning only one of the items being discussed. (The new surveillance techniques that are going to be used by the U.S. Government to watch all American citizens). The story was first released in a newspaper out of Brisbane, Australia revealing the contents of the secret U.S. Government meeting and plans for America including all of it’s citizens. Shortly there after, David J. Meyer from Last Trumpet Ministries found it and made it more available for the world to see.

Here is what was revealed:

* The imminent collapse of the U.S. Economy to occur sometime in late 2008

* The imminent collapse of the U.S. Government finances sometime in mid 2009

* The possibility of Civil War inside the United States as a result of the collapse

* The advance round-ups of “insurgent U.S. Citizens” likely to move against the government

* The detention of those rounded up at The REX 84 Camps constructed throughout the United States

* The possibility of public retaliation against members of Congress for the collapses

* The location of safe facilities for members of Congress and their families to reside during massive civil unrest

* The necessary and unavoidable merger of The U.S. with Canada and Mexico establishing The North American Union

* The issuance of a new currency called the AMERO for all three nations as an economic solution.

Except for a few hundred thousand U.S. Patriots, most Americans have no clue what has really been going on within The United States over the past 100 years, and the sad thing is that most do not want to know the truth. The further you look into the rabbit hole, the deeper it gets. Go to any currency conversion site and convert U.S. dollars to Euros so you can see for yourself the massive decline of the dollar. Look at how much money is and has been spent on the Iraq War to date, ($12 billion per month). Look at our currency and when it stopped being backed by gold.

The Federal Reserve is not federal but a private bank who does not have Americans best interests at heart. We no longer have any manufacturing really based out of America and there is no way that our economy can survive this incredible strain very much longer. The IRS strong arms every American yearly with income taxes, yet there are no laws saying an income tax is to be paid.

The CIA is involved in everything from global drug trafficking and covert military missions, to assassinations around the world and including U.S. Soil. Look at JFK for instance. It did not take long after JFK announced that he was going disband the CIA that he was shot in Texas. America’s new StasiThe Department Of Homeland Security is and has been slowly eradicating our rights for a few years now. based organization called

House Bill H.R. 1955/S-1959 was read by the senate and then sent to DHS for some reason, but is now back and sure to pass. Once passed, this bill introduced by Jane Harman (D/CA), will be the proverbial last nail hammered into every American patriots coffin. H.R. 4279 or the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 which was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, will give the government draconian powers to do just this. This legislation gives the government the power to seize property that facilitates the violation of intellectual property laws. The legislation also mandates the formation of a formal Intellectual Property Enforcement Division within the office of the Deputy Attorney General to enforce this insanity…

It has been revealed that F.E.M.A. has been building internment camps all over America granting Halliburton a massive $385 million dollar construction contract to make this happen. Most of these sites only need refurbished because they are mostly closed prisons, old WW2 internment camps still intact and other facilities taken over by the government. Some people have referred to them as F.E.M.A. Death Camps where the infamous Red list/Blue Lists will be used to decide who goes where.

Whether you believe that The NWO/Illuminati/Globalization is real or not, there is a lot of proof that exposes definite plans or plots by the rich, political and religious elite to bring on an era of the end times. It is almost like some individuals are trying to make bible prophecy come true in their own sick and twisted ways. Not to mention that the world only has about 10 to 15 years of drinking water left before the wars fought for oil today will be fought for water in the near future. It has been said that these powers want to depopulate the planet of over 30% of it’s human inhabitants in the coming years. Examine all of the executive orders that have been signed into place allowing the president to basically become dictator in control of all government from tribal to federal in the event of any national emergency.

If you did not know, In late 2006, Congress revised the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act to make it far easier for a president to declare martial law. Those changes were repealed at the end of this January as part of Public Law 110-181 (HR 4986), the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (signed into law by President Bush on January 28, 2008). Unfortunately it is not the great victory in which one might think because of the total militarization of all local and State police forces all across America.

Will there be martial law? Is martial law coming soon to America? When you see law enforcement being armed with automatic weapons, bullet proof vests and riot gear in small towns that have not had a murder or crime in years, then you have to ask yourself why.

The United States has more people locked up in prisons today than Russia and China combined. It comes out to one in every hundred Americans is behind bars. Our once great country that our ancestors fought and died for has become exactly the tyrants they were fighting. Fascists! When has America ever used words like Homeland? Never!

If you spend a few weeks reading all the info, watching the videos and following the links at The U.A.F.F., you will then have a better understanding of what has led to The Decline And Fall Of America. Remember that Knowledge is power! Learn, look, listen, read, share, prepare, train, stock up on food and water supply for one year.

Fill your pantry with non perishable foods, medicines, cooking oils, tinned meats and veggies. Flour, oats dried corn peas, beans and lentils.. Teach your self how to preserve food for storage. Check out your local potable/ drinking water supplies, non perfumed chlorine bleach is a good sterilizer for water, about 2 teaspoons full per 2 gallon bucket, stirred well and allowed to stand for at least 24 hours with a lid on it or until it no longer smells of bleach. Boiling water helps but it is not always enough to kill off the bacteria which can resist high temperatures.

Americans have been warned for years of the things to come, but have blindly looked away from the truth, which has been available for all to see. There are no more excuses not to prepare for the possible future. The time to act is now before it is too late. Check The United American Freedom Foundation for daily updates and news you won’t see in the mainstream media.

The Return of U. S. Death Squads

The Return of U. S. Death Squads

By CONN HALLINAN

United Nations officials charge that secret “international intelligence services” are conducting raids to kill Afghan civilians, then hiding the perpetuators behind an “impenetrable” wall of bureaucracy.

Philip Alston of the UN Human Rights Council said that “heavily armed internationals” leading local militias have killed scores of Afghan civilians. Coalition forces have killed more than 200 Afghan civilians since January.

He called the raids, which operate independent of the US and NATO military commands, “unacceptable.” Alston pointed to a specific incident last January in which two brothers were killed during a raid in the southern city of Kandahar, an area where the Taliban have a strong presence.

“The [two] victims are widely acknowledged, even by well informed government officials, to have no connection to the Taliban, and the circumstance of their deaths is suspicious,” he said.

When Alston tried to investigate the murders, however, he hit a stonewall. “Not only was I unable to get any international military commander to provide their version of what took place, but I was unable to get any military commander to even admit that their soldiers were involved,” the UN official told the Financial Times.

Suspicion has fallen on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which led such teams into Afghanistan during the 1990s in an attempt to capture or kill Osama bin Ladin, and again during the 2001 invasion.

According to Alston, the shadow units work out of two bases: U.S. Camp Ghecko near Kandahar, and a base in the province of Nangarhar. “It is absolutely unacceptable for heavily armed internationals, accompanied by heavily armed Afghan forces, to be wondering around conducting dangerous raids that too often result in killings without anyone taking responsibility for them,” he wrote in a recent UN report.

Something very similar may be going on in Iraq.  In his latest book, “The War Within,” Bob Woodward writes that the U.S. military has a program to “locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups.” Last month U.S. Special Forces killed the son and nephew of the governor of Salahuddin Province north of Baghdad. Unlike the shootings at roadblocks by U.S. troops, a common occurrence, Iraqi investigators say the two men were essentially executed.

A U.S. spokesman said the raid was conducted to capture a “suspected Al Qaeda in Iraq operative,” and that the man was injured when he “charged” the American troops. The other “suspected terrorist” was wounded and arrested. “Both men were armed and presented hostile intent,” the spokesman said.

But according to a spokesman for Governor Hamed al-Qaisi, U.S. troops broke into the house at 3 AM and shot the governor’s 17-year old son to death while he slept. The nephew, hearing the commotion, tried to enter the room and was gunned down as well.

The killings are similar to one near Karbala in June, where a cousin of current Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was killed. In both cases, Iraqi authorities were kept in the dark about the impending raids.

The question is: are Special Forces in Iraq and CIA units in Afghanistan carrying out clandestine hits? In most places in the world, those groups are called “death squads.”

* * *

Mercenaries are on a roll. Last month’s Associated Press story that the infamous mercenary firm Blackwater Worldwide was getting out of the private army business was a mistake. A company spokesman said the reporter had misunderstood him. Indeed, as the Iraq war winds down, firms like Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp are finding new markets to exploit, many of them in Africa.

As conservative military analyst David Isenberg points out in his column, “Dogs of War,” mercenaries are, in a sense, returning to their modern roots. “The progenitor for many of today’s private security firms was the South-Africa-based Executive Outcomes, which fought in Angola and Sierra Leone,” says Isenberg.

Executive Outcomes and the South African Army were routed by Angolan and Cuban troops during Angola’s long and bloody civil war, a conflict that was fueled in large part by apartheid Pretoria and the US, along with help from Zaire and the People’s Republic of China.

But the defeat was hardly a major setback for the mercenary industry. It’s hard to keep jackals down.

Cold War conflicts created a growth market, and, coupled with the Reagan Administration’s passion for privatization, mercenary organizations like the U.S. Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) and DynCorp became players in Latin America and the Balkans conflict.

While Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s administrations generally get the credit for this privatization drive, as Tim Shorrock points out in his book, “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing,” it was Bill Clinton who really brought private enterprise into the business of gathering intelligence and fighting wars.

According to Shorrock, Clinton “picked up the cudgel where the conservative Reagan left off,” and by the end of his last term, had cut 360,000 federal jobs, while spending on private contractors had jumped 44 percent over 1993.

The right-wing Heritage Foundation, a major force in the current Bush Administration, called Clinton’s 1996 budget the “boldest privatization agenda put forth by any president to date.”

One obvious advantage to hiring Blackwater, DynCorp, MPRI, and Triple Canopy was that it short circuits Congressional oversight, bypasses pesky obstacles like the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and hides the cost of the wars.

Now the mercenaries are returning to their old haunts in Africa to train “peacekeepers.” The problem is that today’s “peacekeeper” may become tomorrow’s thug. An examination of training programs by the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute found that “Every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had at its core” U.S. trained soldiers.

Addressing the current training of Liberian soldiers by DynCorp, the study warns there is a definite downside “to creating an armed elite.” If the U.S. withdraws its training funds, “Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

MPRI is training militaries in Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. DynCorp is doing the same in Darfur and Somalia.  While the cover story is fighting terrorism and ensuring stability, U.S. military intervention—direct and through mercenaries and its client state, Ethiopia—has thoroughly destabilized Somalia, creating a crisis that rivals Darfur.

While the malnutrition rate in Darfur is 13 percent, in some areas of Somalia it is 19 percent. The UN considers 15 percent to be the “emergency threshold.

“The situation in Somalia is the worst on the continent,” says the UN’s top official in Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah.

According to Eric Laroche, the head of the UN’s humanitarian services in Somalia, conditions were much better under the Islamic Courts Union that the U.S-sponsored invasion overthrew. “It was much more peaceful and much easier for us to work. The Islamist s didn’t cause us any problems,” he said.

In spite of Blackwater’s reputation as trigger-happy cowboys who gunned down 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians last year, the company may soon see action in the Sudan. Actress and Darfur activist Mia Farrow recently met with the corporation’s owner, Erik Prince, to discuss using the company in a military role in the western Sudan.

According to a 2007 study by the industrial College of the Armed Forces, “Africa may do for the [mercenary] industry in the next 20 years what Iraq has done in the past four years, provide a significant growth engine.”

Behind that growth, says Nicole Lee of TransAfrica, “is nothing short of a sovereignty and resource grab.” The National Energy Policy Development Group estimates that by 2015, a quarter of U.S. oil imports will come from Africa. Most of these will come from the Gulf of Guinea and the western regions of North Africa, but Sudan has the second largest reserves on the continent.

The U.S. has established a military command for the region—Africom—but no nation has agreed to host it yet. While suspicions about U.S. goals in Africa run high, those doubts apparently don’t extend to U.S.-based mercenary organizations. While countries are holding Africom at arm’s length, those same countries are embracing Blackwater, DynCorp. Triple Canopy, and MPRI.

Mercenaries are not just an American phenomena. Israel has begun privatizing its security checkpoints using the Israeli mercenary company Modiin Ezrahi According to a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, “By the end of the year all the people [guards] at the checkpoints will be civilians.”

Israel claims it is replacing the army with mercenaries because it wants to demilitarize the checkpoints, but peace activists say that argument is nonsense. Hanna Barag of the human rights organization Machsom Watch says the civilian security guards are “Rambos” who behave no differently than Israeli soldiers.

The UN reports an increase in “significant difficulties” since the mercenaries took over.

Daniel Levy, a former advisor to current Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, says the real reason is that it walls off the Israeli population from the burdens of trying to control 2.5 million Palestinians. “It separates [the occupation] from Israeli society,” he told the Financial Times, “these guys [mercenaries] don’t go home and tell their mothers what they are doing.”

In the end, the bottom line is the bottom line. Private contractors in Iraq—190,000 strong—will cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $100 billion by the end of 2008.