OH, What a Tangled Web of Gas Pipeline Projects!

OH, What a Tangled Web of Gas Pipeline Projects!

Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)

One of the causes most often given for the start of World War One is the maze of bilateral treaties that had been signed between the European powers of the day. One country was obliged to declare war against another because it had signed a mutual defense pact to come to its ally’s aid in case of an attack.

Today, it’s not tangled defense treaties that threaten European stability but rather a web of gas pipeline projects – none of which address the real problem with the continent’s energy policy.

The Russians have at least two pipeline projects on the table, Nord Stream and South Stream, which would provide a direct connection to their two best European customers, Germany and Italy respectively.

Implicit in the acceptance of the Russian projects is that Ukraine, which transits 80 percent of Europe’s eastern gas supplies, is an unreliable partner.

Unfortunately, following the flare-up of another Christmas-time gas standoff between Ukraine and Russia, the Kremlin currently looks just as unreliable if not more in the eyes of its Western customers.

Even if one agreed that Ukraine hadn’t been paying for the gas it imported from Russia, why did Moscow let the debt get out of hand? Why did it respond so harshly? Why was the whole business so shady and steeped in politics?

Ukraine, of course, has not come out of the affair unscathed either. Like Russia, it forfeited a load of badly needed revenues and further soiled its bid to integrate with Europe.

And also like Russia, Ukraine has its own pipeline project, White Stream, which as one might expect goes around Russia and through Ukraine to Europe.

Then there is the American favorite, the Nabucco pipeline, which goes around both Russia and Ukraine through the darling of the Bush Administration, Georgia, and then NATO member Turkey.

No one in Washington apparently wants to consider the possibility that the Turks will get sick of applying for EU membership and replace the country’s military elite with an Islamist regime.

For that matter, neither Russia, Ukraine, the United States or anyone else seem to want to consider the possibility that Central Asia will fall under a “non-European’ influence. But considering how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going, is this really such a far-fetched scenario?

At the very least, the leaders of countries such as Turkmenistan must have realized long ago that they own the goose that lays the golden eggs. Neighbors such as China and India are also willing to pay for hydrocarbons to fuel their developing economies.

But that’s all down the road, along with American and European plans to invest in renewable energy. Solar shields, wind farms, etc. take a lot of long-term investment. And for the time being, there is lots of money to be made from selling gas and oil.

Instead, we are hearing the always progressive-minded Europeans talking about building new storage facilities so as not to be caught in a lurch again. This strategy, of course, completely ignores the root problem of ‘unreliable’ suppliers.

Putin’s Kremlin has never made it a secret that it intends to use the country’s position as a major gas supplier to extend its geopolitical influence.

This geopolitical influence includes preventing former Soviet republics like Georgia and Ukraine from joining NATO.

The recent gas war, which didn’t bring the Kremlin the results it expected, was actually the latest in a series of moves to increase Russian control over its immediate neighbors.

The Kremlin had previously been successful in keeping European energy policy divided by cutting deals with individual countries. It also had appeared to be reversing global condemnation of its short war against Georgia.

Indeed, it’s not difficult to believe that Moscow may eventually be able to gloss over its behavior during the recent gas war. A little money and time have a way of melting the iciest of criticism.

Ukraine, unfortunately, is short of both money and time. If the world’s rich countries are reluctant to invest in alternative fuels and greater efficiency, what can one expect from cash-strapped Kyiv?

Ukraine could open up its hydrocarbon fields to international investment. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has already managed to get rid of the shady intermediary companies that controlled gas imports from Russia.

However, it takes time for such measures to pay off.

Which brings us back to Russia.

Forget about the Kremlin’s PR effort against Ukraine in Europe. The Ukrainians are already rolling over on their own.

Rumors about what Tymoshenko had to concede to the Kremlin in order to get rid of the intermediary companies and keep import prices low were still circulating when she announced during a trip to Germany last weekend that she was asking Moscow for a loan.

Speaking to journalists, however, Tymoshenko denied media reports that she had agreed to sign an agreement yielding Soviet-era assets to Russia.

The list of other possible Ukrainian concessions is long: renewing the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s lease on its base in Crimea, making Russian an official language, connecting Crimea to southern Russia by a bridge, subordinating Orthodox churches in Ukraine to Moscow and refraining from joining NATO.

NATO membership for Ukraine has become all but a distant dream anyway, with even the Americans throwing in the towel for now.

And as newly sworn-in Vice President Joe Biden begins to formulate the U.S.’s post-Bush foreign policy, one is reminded of the days of Jimmy Carter.

Ok, they will close Guantanamo and promise to no longer torture suspected terrorists – hurray. But will the U.S. stick up for Georgia and go forward with its missile defense system or not?

I think not.

As for the Kremlin, it doesn’t have to take Tbilisi or Kyiv by storm to achieve its goals. It will work from the inside to make sure the pro-Western Saakashvili and Yushchenko are sent packing by their own impoverished people.

But even as the border between the EU and the former Soviet Union becomes more defined, it will remain crisscrossed up, down and across by a multitude of competing gas-pipeline projects capable of upsetting the geopolitical applecart well into the near future.

John Marone, a columnist of Eurasian Home website, Kyiv, Ukraine


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

EurasianHome

Pakistani Information minister says masses exposed to terrorists’ message

Sherry for strengthened efforts against extremist propaganda

* Information minister says masses exposed to terrorists’ message
* Directs coordination of all govt departments, agencies with media

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman on Tuesday called for intensifying the government’s public outreach and strategic communications efforts to counter extremist propaganda.

“Pakistan is confronted with a war of ideas – between tolerance and extremism, and between democracy and anarchy,” Sherry said.

She was chairing a public outreach and communications meeting at the Information Ministry to assess the government’s counterterrorism communications strategy.

The meeting reviewed the government’s ongoing diplomatic responses to the war on terror, conflicts in Swat and FATA, and fallout of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Exposure: “In this war for hearts and minds, Pakistan’s vulnerable population segments are exposed to terrorists’ message,” she said. “Our poor and uneducated youth become hapless recruits to their sinister recruiting techniques. Only a well-coordinated and synchronised national and international framework of public outreach and strategic communications, undertaken by government departments and agencies, will thwart the extremist propaganda.”

Officials of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and Radio Pakistan informed the meeting’s participants about ongoing efforts to procure equipment for blocking the Taliban’s radio transmissions in Swat and FATA.

The minister was informed that the equipment would be procured and installed in the next two weeks, followed by an extensive radio campaign to counter the Taliban’s transmissions in the region.

Officials of the Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan briefed the meeting of news and current affairs programmes specifically aimed at countering terrorism.

PTV officials briefed the participants on a planned year-long campaign for peace in collaboration with civil society actors, intellectuals and culture ambassadors in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Coordination: Sherry stressed the need for active liaison of ministries and government functionaries with the media, directing regular communications meetings to devise and evaluate public outreach programmes.

The information minister also directed the formulation of a ‘Core Working Group’ of the meeting, which would specifically design and implement the government’s counterterrorism public outreach agenda.

She also directed the streamlining of the Press Sections in all of Pakistan’s foreign missions to present the country’s position positively in the international media.

‘Zardari says UN help to be sought over drone attacks’

‘Zardari says UN help to be sought over drone attacks’

* Tribal elder says govt’s negotiations with Taliban, mullahs have reduced tribal elders’ power

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: President Asif Zardari has told a tribal jirga that Pakistan will appeal to the United Nations to intervene on its behalf against the continued operations of US drones in the Tribal Areas, a tribal elder said on Tuesday.

“I will take the issue of drone attacks to the United Nations if they (the US) do not stop,” tribal elder Malik Waris Khan quoted the president’s response to the tribal elders’ demand for an appropriate government response to the drone attacks. Khan read out the welcome address at a tribal jirga attended by the president during the latter’s recent trip to Peshawar.

The US has stepped up drone attacks in the Tribal Areas over the past year, targeting ‘important’ Al Qaeda elements. Islamabad’s hope that the attacks would stop with a new president in the White House have not materialised. “All jirga members were unanimous in demanding the government act to prevent further drone attacks,” another tribal elder told Daily Times on condition of anonymity.

Hailing from Bajaur, the elder said that President Asif Ali Zardari had also promised the tribal elders that the annual development budget would be increased from Rupees 8 billion to Rupees 11 billion.

Diminishing role: An influential elder from North Waziristan, Malik Qadir Khan, also talked to the president and informed him of the diminishing role of the tribal elder. He said the traditional respect accorded to the elders was fading because the “government was looking to the mullahs and the Taliban first and the elders later”.

“The government cannot restore its writ until the elders’ role is restored by strengthening them against the Taliban and others,” Malik Qadir told the president during the jirga. “We lost strength and respect because the government agreed to negotiate with the clerics and the Taliban,” he added.

Russia likely to allow shipment of Afghan-bound US arms

Russia likely to allow shipment of Afghan-bound US arms

MOSCOW: Russia is open to the possibility of letting the United States and NATO ship weaponry across its territory to Afghanistan if the broader relationship between Moscow and the West improves, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday.

Lavrov spoke the day after U.S. diplomats met with Russian officials in Moscow to work out logistical details for Western military supplies to cross Russia. Moscow has previously allowed non-lethal cargo from European nations to cross its territory and said last week it would let the U.S. do the same.

Asked at a news conference whether Russia could also agree to transit of weapons, Lavrov said “additional steps are also possible.”

“Last April and May we discussed the possibility of using Russian military cargo planes to deliver supplies to coalition forces with our NATO colleagues,” he said. “Any other agreements are also possible.”

He added that broader cooperation on Afghanistan would be contingent on improvement of Russia-NATO ties, which were frozen after last summer’s Russia-Georgia war.

“The most important thing is to normalize Russia-NATO relations,” Lavrov said, adding that the alliance must view Russia as an equal partner and respect its security interests.

He also welcomed the new U.S. administration’s stated intention to reset relations with Russia.

“There are too many problems in the world which we must solve together, there are too many common threats Russia, the United States and Europe all face,” he said. “The situation in Afghanistan is one of these problems.”

A delegation headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Moon traveled to Moscow Tuesday to work out details of allowing Afghanistan-bound shipments to cross Russia.

With Taliban and al-Qaida violence rising in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama plans to send as many as 30,000 additional forces this year. Taliban fighters, carrying assault rifles and wearing suicide vests stormed the Justice Ministry and another government building in Afghanistan’s capital Wednesday in the latest deadly attack.

Supplying allied forces has become increasingly tenuous as insurgents intensify attacks on supply lines through Pakistan — the primary route for U.S. supplies. Transit routes through Russia and the possibly through the Central Asia nations of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan would serve as key alternatives to Pakistan routes.

Adding to the uncertainty is the decision last week by another Central Asian nation, Kyrgyzstan, to evict U.S. forces from an air base that is important to U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials suspect that Moscow, which promised billions in aid and loans for impoverished Kyrgyzstan, was behind the decision to close the Manas base.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev insisted Wednesday that he made the move for purely economic reasons after repeated appeals to the United States to pay more for rental of the base went unheeded. He said the United States promised $150 million in annual rent in 2006, but that Washington failed to keep its word. The United States now pays $63 million a year.

A parliamentary vote on approving the closure was expected this week, but the bill has been delayed, leading some analysts to suggest that negotiations on a settlement may continue.

Russia’s relations with Washington worsened steadily during George W. Bush’s presidency, with Washington’s plans to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic a key irritant. A day after Obama’s election, Russia threatened to deploy short-range missiles near Poland in an apparent attempt to push the new administration into dumping the plan.

Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia would move the missiles to the Kaliningrad region if the U.S. puts the missile defense sites in place.

“It will only be necessary if the missile defense facilities are physically created,” he said.

‘Safe havens’ must be uprooted: Holbrooke: Qureshi urges talks with reconcilable elements

‘Safe havens’ must be uprooted: Holbrooke: Qureshi urges talks with reconcilable elements

By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD, Feb 10: US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke urged the Pakistani leadership on Tuesday to eliminate safe havens of terrorists in tribal areas and said the Obama administration would fully support efforts for achieving the objective.

The US envoy met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI’s Director General Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

In the course of what was described as frank, candid and straightforward discussion, he told them that the Obama administration was ready to get the Kerry-Lugar Bill passed for increasing socio-economic assistance to Pakistan, implement the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones project in tribal areas and meet the military hardware needs of the country for counter-insurgency operations. In return. he said, the US wanted to see the tribal areas cleared of safe havens of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The special representative said that the safe havens in Fata were as much a threat to Pakistan as they were to the US and Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a press conference: “There are some irreconcilable elements and nobody wants to deal with them, neither Pakistan, nor Afghanistan nor the US, but there is a reconcilable element and we should not overlook their importance and their significance.”

The rest of the discussion was more of ‘exploratory nature’ during which Mr Holbrooke tried to sound out the Pakistani leaders on various aspects of Pak-US cooperation in the war on terror.

The government decided to set up an inter-agency committee led by Foreign Minister Qureshi which would sit with Mr Holbrooke’s team to review the past policies and help re-craft the US policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan. The committee will travel to Washington next month for further discussions.

Mr Qureshi said: “We’ll work with Ambassador Holbrooke in reviewing their analysis on what had happened in the past so many years, what went wrong and how to approach the issue in a different manner.”

Although the composition of the committee is yet to be decided, Mr Qureshi made it clear that it would include relevant people.

But even before the committee has been formed, there are concerns that the new structure could affect the ongoing strategic dialogue between the two countries.

The foreign minister said he had told Mr Holbrooke that the strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan was significant and should not be overlooked as both sides engaged in cooperation at the level of inter-agency committee.

Pakistan’s concerns regarding the planned US military surge in Afghanistan were also communicated to the ambassador.

“The military surge might have implications for Pakistan,” Mr Qureshi said, adding it needed to be accompanied by a civilian surge, entailing socio-economic development and greater political engagement with reconcilable elements.

The issue of drone attacks featured in the discussion with Pakistan reiterating its position that the strikes were counter-productive.Ambassador Holbrooke was asked to weigh advantages and disadvantages of the attacks.

The foreign minister said he had told the US envoy that there should be ‘red lines’ defining what was acceptable and what was not acceptable to Pakistan, and also what was acceptable and what was unacceptable to the US.

Making a mention of the Kashmir issue, the Pakistani side emphasised that a holistic strategy for dealing with the problem of extremism and militancy was not possible without resolution of regional problems.

“If Pakistan has to remain focussed on western borders then obviously a calm eastern front is in everybody’s advantage,” Mr Qureshi said.Interestingly neither the Mumbai attacks nor the much talked about A. Q. Khan issue came up during the discussion.

Consensus for peace

Talking to Mr Holbrooke, Prime Minister Gilani said the new US administration must base its relationship with Pakistan on trust, cohesion and understanding of each other’s strengths and constraints in their struggle against extremism and terrorism.

He said Pakistan would like to engage with the US to build a new global strategic consensus for peace, security and stability in the region. He underlined the importance of enhanced cooperation in defence and intelligence sharing.

APP adds: During his meeting with Ambassador Holbrooke, President Zardari emphasised that only a cohesive and integrated regional approach was the way forward to defeating extremism and terrorism.

He also called for expediting the Kerry-Lugar Bill and Reconstruction Opportunity Zones legislation and stressed the need for working out a joint strategy to counter terrorism.

Welcoming Mr Holbrooke’s appointment as a special representative, the president said that stability, peace and prosperity of Pakistan were important for peace and stability in the region.

He assured Mr Holbrooke of Pakistan’s engagement with the new administration on the policy review that it was undertaking for the region

The World Flees from the “American Disease”

The World Flees from the “American Disease”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The only way to avoid another dose is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.”

The world is reorganizing itself to avoid further exposure to the most virulent strains of what is now commonly referred to as “the American disease.” The contagion is dreaded like the worst kind of venereal infection. This disease is transmitted through political and economic intercourse with the Typhoid Mary of the planet, the United States. As headquarters nation for global finance capital, the U.S. acted as vector of the current planetary economic meltdown.

No country is fully immune to the ravages of the American transmitted disease. Having penetrated nearly every corner of the planet, the scourge, first spread by Wall Street hustlers, now threatens to undermine the economic organs of the entire Earth. Just as with biological infections, the disease must be contained before it can be cured. That means avoiding contact with the Americans and their hopelessly contaminated financial instruments: those festering derivatives that so poisoned the U.S. economy, it is virtually paralyzed.

When the Wall Street plague hit Europe in October of last year, the assembled heads of state were quick with a diagnosis, but not a cure. “We want entrepreneurial capitalism and not speculative capitalism, “ declared French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. But speculative capitalism is the only kind the United States has been peddling for a very long time. By now, much of the world has come to the realization that the only way to avoid another dose of the American disease is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.

The pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years.”

Meanwhile, the United States continues to incubate the infectious agents. The Obama administration is riddled with carriers of the disease – corrupt bankers and their accomplices at every level – ensuring that the pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years. There can be no cure if you don’t get rid of the germs.

As the world erects defenses to keep the American disease from repeatedly infecting its global neighbors, the effect will be similar to the redlining of neighborhoods. The U.S. will fall further into decline as it is walled off from other nations’ efforts at economic development. That’s the meaning of the redlining of America.

The United States has been the object of redlining since at least 2003, when George Bush finally convinced the world that Washington was bad company with his illegal invasion of Iraq. Nobody wants to do business with a crazy man – or a crazy superpower. By late 2005, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations decided not to invite the United States as an observer to its annual meeting, but allowed the Russians and Chinese to attend as official observers. When the U.S. sent a diplomat anyway, he was turned away. Last December, the heads of 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean pointedly failed to invite Washington to their summit meeting in Brazil. Increasingly, the Americans are shunned as bringers of war and killers of economies, the two most feared symptoms of the American disease.

The corporations that threw their money behind Barack Obama for president were hoping his fresh face and charm would be seen by the world as a prophylactic for the American disease. But the Wall Street street walkers and the Pentagon refuse to change their risky behavior. Increasingly, the world has no choice but to put them in isolation. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
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The Futility Of Not Creating Debt Free Currency

IMF LOANS, CURE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE.

The Futility Of Not Creating Debt Free Currency

By Eric V. Encina

U. S. President Obama is presenting all the positive sides of the “stimulus package” and pushing its ratification in the halls of Congress. Likewise, the Philippine President Marcapagal is carrying out a comparable program to uplift his own country’s ailing economy, create jobs and save the financial system from total collapse. However, the problem with the stimulus packages created by these two leaders is that the money to be used to jumpstart business activities, obviously, provides a “band-aid remedy” coming from borrowings and taxes, which will create the same results of crisis in the long run except that it will be even bigger and more catastrophic. Therefore, the best kind of repair for the economic downturn is the creation of debt free money by governments’ financial arms.

In short, why not provide the stimulus packages directly to the people who create the wealth through labor rather than to the bankers and other financial managers, who do practically nothing other than receive bonuses and other sorts of compensation benefits in the millions of dollars? Besides, it was the bankers and other speculators who created many of the problems in the first place. So, who is to say that they won’t do so again?

Acute money crisis and stimulus packages:

Indeed all over the world, government leaders are undertaking activities to limit large scale fiscal ruin during which they are unveiling similar stimulus packages to shore up their ailing economies from recession and depression. Concurrently, endless debates and arguments are going on concerning whether or not to push through the measures other than tax cuts, direct subsidies to the poor, bail-out for banks and other key financial institutions, etc.

Yet, who will benefit from these plans? Surely, it is not the workers whose livelihoods, food supply, healthcare and homes are at risk to disappear.

Many so-called experts in economics, who often are only good in predictions while doing nothing to ease the burdens to the poor, are perfectly contented to predict a crisis, such as the one that is happening right now in relation to unemployment and the downtrend in the economic activity. They rarely, if ever, offer advise about any feasible resolutions to the predicaments faced by the masses.

And even in the issue of job losses, the Philippine governmental leaders, for example, have financed the debt and consistently taken the side of the big corporations rather than the marginalized sectors of society. In other words, the action needed now is to have the money in the hands of the public to really foment growth and provide for sustainable living.

Therefore, the Philippine government must revamp its business model away from being oriented towards imports (which further drain finances out of the country), based on foreign investments and involved with a debt-logged monetary system. As such, the best alternative is debt free money creation that will prioritize domestic needs while doing so for people’s interest and development over the banking institutions and multinational corporations that are guaranteed to siphon money into the hands of the ultra-wealthy.

Moreover, the Philippine Government’s 2009 P1.415 Trillion Budget with P700.6 Billion interest payments, wrecked by budget and trade deficits will not be enough to see such a plan take place. This is because the budget is coming from private, foreign, international loans at high interest from the forcible taxes with which citizens are ultimately burdened.

At the same time, the 2010 Philippine Presidential Candidates are likely going to repeat the history of debt and poverty in the Philippines. These candidates have their billions of pesos and have money campaign machinations to fool the Filipinos.

The problem is that they are all the same sorts of plans under debt finance and taxes for the benefit of the  transnational banking, agricultural and industrial consortiums rather than their meeting the desperate needs of the common Filipinos. This is nearly always the pattern in the state of economic and financial disasters in the sense that the downtrodden always get worse conditions while the upper most affluent group “make out like bandits”  through commandeering the wealth and, in the end, control of resources on a worldwide scale.

HOW CAN WE SURVIVE?

What is the cardinal rule to survive? Pure survival, rather than focus on any other orientation, is said to be a basic instinct of man when hard times strike. On account, it brings out the worse or best in us.

As such, today’s global recession to depression, now really deepening and going into overdrive, is compelling us to think of any ways and means to ride out the financial-economic tornado. Yet how can we do so when there are no opportunities available? How can we do so when everything is “business as usual?”

Moreover, it most surely is “business as usual” with the same out patterns present that got us all into this current dilemma in the first place. Meanwhile, the ripple effects of the crisis continue lamentably right around the world.

On account, personal efforts are not enough to handle the ongoing worsening conditions. Consequently, there must be government intervention to truly jump the economy forward, especially as the government exists for the people and not the other way around!

If this whole trouble is not a supernatural problem, but is only an artificial problem, then it can be solved in an outright fashion since it is manmade. Therefore, the successful remedy can be generated, too, which involves removal of debt, the creation of which led to the most turbulent years in the history of global financial markets in that debt generation has arguably been THE main foundation for the money flow in our current model.

Consequently, governments should be compelled to infuse funds in capital or aid programmes that create work and economic stimulus for their citizens rather then help the banking system carry on as usual. After all, who can borrow money from the bank if he has no means for capital growth as the foundation to pay it back with interest?

The Philippine government is currently pledging  P15 Billion or $300 Million in capital from taxpayers’ money and/or from foreign borrowings for Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) to fund the payout of deposits of the closed bankrupt legality group of rural banks presumably caused by the greed and corruption of those involved. Meanwhile, we see the same pattern of wrongful behaviors around the world!

In particular and concerning the Philippines:

IMF has the forecast that Philippines has $800 Million deficit in balance of payments in 2009.
IMF AND WB loans at interest are destroying my country’s economy and the working class people who suffer increasing poverty under such an arrangement.

So what is next? Why do we need to pay interest further? How CAN we do it? The Filipinos have paid too much already. We have NO MORE to give! We cannot pay back whatever we do not have and it was an unjust transaction with which to begin such that no Filipino in his right mind would ratify it except for our wealthy elite, who took the loans for their own indirect benefits.

In the end, let’s face a hard truth in this whole matter. It is this: What kind of values do we want to promote as a society? Can we not realize that it is not the banks that matter, but the people who make up the society? If this latter view is the case, then we need to change our financial models to support them rather than use them like chattel and slave for the gains of the global business and banking tycoons.

The alternative — the one to which we are likely heading — just might be that Filipinos wind up expecting to copy the poor in Haiti in order to get ourselves out of this mess. Are we expected to live under tarps after losing our homes? Are we expected to look for food by combing garbage dumps? Must we and our children eat mud cookies because we can no longer have jobs and cannot pay for imported food?

As Penny Hess stated in “America causing world food crisis and starvation” [1]:

“Forced deregulation of world agricultural markets. Historically countries around the world produced food for themselves and their governments kept restrictions on the price of food to prevent speculation and price gouging. Haiti, where the people are today forced to subsist on a steady diet of mud, is a perfect example. Twenty-five years ago Haitian farmers grew and exported their own rice.

“But in the late 1980s the U.S. backed IMF forced Haiti, as a condition for a desperately needed loan, to deregulate their markets and open them up to competition from the outside. The U.S. then dumped its government-subsidized rice onto Haiti (and many other countries around the world), selling the American rice cheaper than Haiti farmers could sell theirs for. The U.S. rice dumping brought to an abrupt halt Haiti’s own self-sufficient agricultural infrastructure and forced millions of people into desperate poverty.

“U.S. Agribusiness. According to Gretchen Gordon in, ‘The Food Crisis: Global Markets and Deregulation Strike Again,’ three major corporations, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Bunge, ‘control the vast majority of global grain trading, while Monsanto controls more than one-fifth of the global market in seeds.’

“While billions of human beings are starving, Cargill’s third quarter 2007 profits increased more than 86 percent and Monsanto’s were up 45 percent. In fact they are using the current crisis to further impose their genetically modified seeds on the peoples of the world.”

Meanwhile, high salaries and compensation packages – rewards really for doing who knows what – are still given to the bankers and business tycoons even in these hard times of global financial crisis and even while President Obama and the Australian prime Minister have called for an end to unrestrained selfishness on the part of these financial speculators. At the same time, it has been reported that, in Germany, bank managers receive annual Euros 500,000.00 or $645,000 as a rough average intake.

In a similar vein, Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deuthsche Bank AG has the total gain, including assorted benefits and shares, of Euros 14 Million or $18.9 Million. And the list goes on… and on concerning irresponsible money managers who are making out royally due to the losses of many, many others.

As such, European bankers receive astronomical, US-style compensation, which is similar to the huge rewards obtained by other financial executives in India, China, Philippines, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and other countries. Likewise, some Russian financial executives and bankers are paid in the amount of $500,000 to $5 Million range, while top Italian and French executives make $2 Million to $3 Million annually.

Similarly, Indian salaries have risen to $300,000 to $3 Million level and Mexican financial executives are making nearly $1 Million. However, chief financial executives in Japan usually receive salaries merely in the $400,000 range. All the same, many ordinary citizens around the world wallow in dreadful poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair while these financial gangsters worldwide gain from their ongoing losses.

In the end, we need to reorganize the patterns of the global economy rather than continue to throw money at useless crooks and empty remedies that, doubtlessly, do not work because, if they did, we would be seeing improvements already rather than an ever deepening crisis. Therefore, we need to start pressuring our government representatives to make the necessary radical reforms. If we not change our monetary patterns soon, the most terrible outcomes imaginable are all but assured.

References:

[1] “America causing world food crisis and starvation” by Penny Hess is located at http://www.talkzimbabwe.com/news/130/ARTICLE/2208/2008-04-25.html.

Eric V. Encina, Filipino Social Creditor/Monetary Reformer, can be contacted at ericencina@yahoo.com.

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel, I Smell a Draft

Pentagon reports U.S. troop obesity doubles since 2003

OVERWEIGHT TROOPS

WASHINGTON — The number of troops diagnosed as overweight or obese has more than doubled since the start of the Iraq war, yet another example of stress and strains of continuing combat deployments, according to a recent Pentagon study.

The review, contained in the January edition of the Defense Department’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, raises concerns about the overall readiness as demands on the military continue to increase, says Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, director of strategic communication for Pentagon health affairs.

“Stress and return from deployment were the most frequently cited reasons” for gaining weight, the study said. The largest increase in diagnoses of overweight and obese troops came in the last five years, the report said.

From 1998 to 2002, the number of servicemembers diagnosed as overweight remained steady at about one or two out of 100. But those numbers increased after 2003, according to the study, and today nearly one in 20 are diagnosed as clinically overweight.

There may be even more overweight troops than the report shows, Kilpatrick said, because the study includes only servicemembers diagnosed as overweight during a visit with a doctor. The actual percentage of troops who are found to be overweight during fitness trials could be higher, he said.

The weight-gain trend is among many strains shown within the military after six years of war and back-to-back deployments. They include steadily rising suicides and divorce rates among soldiers and Marines and increased prescription drug use in the Army.

Problems with obesity among the general public — fostered by fast-food restaurants and increasingly popular sedentary pastimes such as video games — have spilled over into the military, the study suggests.

One in five Americans between ages 18 to 34 is obese, the study says. The Army reports problems of obesity among recruits.

“Overweight/obesity is a significant military medical concern because it is associated with decreased military operational effectiveness,” the study says

How the U.S. lost its Kyrgyzstan air base

In this March 1, 2005 file photo, a U.S. military personnel member is seen at the airfield as a transport plane taxies at the U.S. air base in Manas international airport 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan’s government submitted a draft bill to parliament Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 to revoke the country’s hosting of a U.S. base that is an important component of the Afghanistan military campaign. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

How the U.S. lost its Kyrgyzstan air base

By Alexander Cooley

The recent decision by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan to close the U.S. military base in the small Central Asian country should come as no surprise to Washington’s new foreign policy team. Since its establishment in the fall of 2001, the U.S. air base at Manas has been founded upon the granting of narrow economic incentives to the host country – and not on the Kyrgyz Republic’s commitment to the broader international campaign in Afghanistan.

What began as a relationship based on economics is about to end for financial reasons. Though the loss of Manas will deal a short-term blow to U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, staying is not worth the new Kyrgyz asking price.

In 2001, the U.S. established the base, located just outside of the capital Bishkek, to support coalition operations in Afghanistan. American planners initially secured Kyrgyz cooperation by agreeing to pay the Manas Airport Authority, controlled by the then-president, Askar Akayev, and his inner circle of kleptocrats, international civil aviation rates for the daily take-offs and landings of military aircraft at the airport, an unusual fee structure for a standard operation. Most importantly, between 2001 and 2005 the United States paid hundreds of millions of dollars for base-related service and fuel contracts to companies that were controlled by Akayev’s family.

None of these base-related revenues were accounted for by the Kyrgyz government or reported in national budgetary statistics, though they did line the pockets of the regime. A subsequent FBI investigation revealed that money from the contracts had ended up in offshore bank accounts controlled by the Akayevs. At a time when USAID was officially funding good governance and transparency projects in the Central Asian country, U.S. payments associated with Manas were sinking down a black hole of patronage, insider dealings and corruption

After the ouster of Akayev in the so-called Tulip Revolution of March 2005, the new Kyrgyz government argued that the U.S. base had benefited the Akayev family, not the country. The newly elected President Bakiyev demanded a one-hundred fold increase in rent, from $2 million a year to $200 million, and asked for back payments for money that were embezzled by the Akayev regime. After nearly a year of arduous negotiations, the two sides in July 2006 compromised on a new annual base rights package totaling $150 million. This included a new $18 million rental payment for Manas as well as various other U.S. assistance programs to Kyrgyzstan. These revenues once again went to regime insiders.

Though the United States refused to officially acknowledge that this money was tied to the base, Kyrgyz officials viewed the agreement as a quid pro quo and even complained that the financing appropriated for activities like USAID-sponsored democratization and the Peace Corps should not be counted as part of the basing rights package.

Soon after the agreement, a number of base-related incidents that unfavorably reflected on the U.S. presence emboldened Kyrgyz officials to make demands for additional payments. The most serious of these took place in December 2006, when a U.S. serviceman shot and killed a local truck driver outside of the main gate, asserting that he was an armed terrorist.

When it was revealed that the deceased fuel-truck driver, an ethnic Russian and long-time employee of a base contractor, was not even carrying a weapon, the Kyrgyz media portrayed the U.S. military as reckless and callous, while American officials refused to cede legal jurisdiction over the serviceman and then abruptly whisked him out of the country without punishment. As the popularity of the base waned in the aftermath of these diplomatic missteps, the U.S. was portrayed as a hypocrite and Kyrgyz officials demanded that the terms of the relationship be renegotiated.

Given the importance of the economic dimension to the Kyrgyz, it is hardly surprising that Bakiyev’s cash-strapped government was finally swayed to break its agreement with the United States when the Russian Federation promised even greater benefits. At their summit meeting in Moscow, Bakiyev secured from President Dmitri Medvedev an economic package in excess of $2 billion, including an emergency $300 million loan, $180 million in debt write off and $1.7 billion worth of financing for Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric sector, more than the prevailing unofficial quid pro quo of sundry assistance programs offered by Washington.

Though the United States has the resources to match and exceed the Russian package, it should not participate in a bidding war over Manas. Any significant increase in compensation granted to Bishkek will signal to other global U.S. base hosts that they, too, can unilaterally abrogate and renegotiate access arrangements and use the interest of geopolitical rivals such as Russia and China for short-term economic leverage. The long-term damage to American interests worldwide would be great.

Instead, U.S. officials in their last-minute discussions can offer to organize a multilateral conference for Kyrgyz debt restructuring and forgiveness, and encourage EU member states active in the Afghanistan campaign to expand their economic engagement with the Central Asian country. They should emphasize that trans-Atlantic commitments are credible, unlike those being offered by a cash-strapped Moscow that may not be in a position to deliver on its pledges (and which failed to do so for neighboring Tajikistan as part of their 2004 bilateral basing accord).

Moreover, without the presence of the Manas base, Bishkek itself will have far less leverage in its future dealings with Russia. On the other hand, alternative hosts such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will become newly valued members of the international effort in Afghanistan and their bargaining position vis-à-vis Russia will be enhanced.

In Kyrgyzstan, the price of access for Manas has reached a level that is unacceptable, even for the world’s only remaining superpower. But the Kyrgyz did not invent the rules of this bargaining game, they merely followed them to their logical conclusion.

Alexander Cooley is an associate professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, and the author of “Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military Overseas.”

Sour Grapes, of a Sort

Sour Grapes, of a Sort

By Joshua Foust

Look, I’m a fan of Noah Shachtman’s work at Danger Room. One of the reasons I pick at it all the time is because I read the damned thing every day and generally enjoy it. Hell, Noah even links to me. I should also say I’m fan of David Kilcullen. I may think he oversimplifies the COIN discussion sometimes, but the fact that he can actually get people talking about it is of immense value—and he can certainly do that much better than I can.

Even so. Today Noah linked to this essay David wrote on Small Wars Journal (which is an edited version of his remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), in which he says the following:

Note – and I’ll return to this point – that unilateral strikes against targets inside Pakistan, whatever other purpose they might serve, have an unarguably and entirely negative effect on Pakistani stability. They increase the number and radicalism of Pakistanis who support extremism, and thus undermine the key strategic program of building a willing and capable partner in Pakistan.

Do I see anything wrong with this statement? HELL NO. In fact, it needs to be said more, and much more loudly. I just feel I should note that it sounds suspiciously like the op-ed I wrote with Jeb Koogler for the Christian Science Monitor over six months ago:

Most destructive of conventional thinking is the notion that targeted assassinations of militant leaders in the FATA is an effective counterterrorism tactic. In fact, this strategy has not deterred Islamic militancy.

In 2004, directly after the signing of the first peace accord in Waziristan, the prominent militant Nek Muhammed was killed by a US strike. But his successor-to-be, Mehsud, was not cowed, vowing to continue hostilities.

Other strikes, such as those against Abu Laith al-Libi and Ayman al-Zawahiri, have been similarly ineffective in undercutting Islamic militancy. The deaths of militant leaders rarely discourage additional violence; on the contrary, there is always a successor willing to step up. Just as NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan have bolstered popular support for the Taliban, targeted assassinations in Pakistan – with the inevitable deaths of civilians that result – lead to greater sympathy for radicalism and increase grass-roots support for violence.

It also sounds a lot like a piece I wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review in September:

As viscerally appealing as such actions may be back home—Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has promised to strike targets inside Pakistan if need be—it is impossible for the U.S. to come out of these raids looking good.

From this follows a fundamental tenet of counterinsurgency: a population-centric strategy. Current U.S. strategy does not focus on the FATA’s people; it only tries to kill its leaders. These routine insertions also carry the risk of American soldiers dying at the hands of the Pakistani Army—an event that would almost assuredly make matters worse. If the U.S. is to regularly violate Pakistani territory and preemptively strike targets suspected of having launched cross-border attacks, then the rules of the game change.

So, please—if David Kilcullen telling this to the Senate is what it takes for word to get out, then I am all about Kilcullen shouting it from the rooftops. It is vitally important we get our Pakistan (and Afghanistan, for that matter) policy under control now, while there is some policy flexibility in the White House and an opportunity for change. I really hope the SFRC listens to Kilcullen’s thoughts on the matter, and follows through on them.

For previous examples of things I say not mattering until someone more important says them, especially when hosted by the SWJ, see (for example) here. Told you this was (sort of) sour grapes.

Dispatches from FOBistan: The Unreality of Kabul

Dispatches from FOBistan: The Unreality of Kabul

FOB MORALES-FRAZIER, AFGHANISTAN — It is interesting to hear what Kabulis think of the way their country is going. Here in Kapisa, just north and east (but a universe apart), things are rather different. Indeed, a common complaint locals raise when we suggest bad security might be why we can’t start many projects is, “oh c’mon — the Taliban are everywhere. That’s no excuse.”

Such a blasé attitude toward the prospect of random death is not easy to understand… at least from our vantage point. Indeed, I will venture a guess that a lot of the tragedy in what David is reporting is that the same choices and environment now facing Kabulis is really what far too many regular Afghans face on a regular basis. From my perspective, behind the concertina wire and hesco barricades, the contrast between mostly Pashtun and mostly Tajik areas cannot be any more stark: Nijrab Valley is glorious, lush, prosperous, and filled with well-maintained buildings. Afghaniya and Tagab Valleys have more obvious problems—there, the fields are browner, there is a noticeable lack of relative development, and driving through the people express far more fear of us.

There is a lesson in there. And it’s not that this is largely a Pashtun war, even if that may be true.

It bears repeating, no matter how monotonous it gets: Afghans are not Taliban. Even when they side with the Taliban, my sense is they do so because they marginally benefit from that alliance, not because they love watching their daughters be brutalized and their sons turned into human bombs. This is the insidious danger of unthinking men like Ralph Peters: by dehumanizing a fundamentally human problem, you leave yourself with no option aside from mass death; by viewing these decisions as rational, even predictable human behavior, a vastly larger, more humane, and ultimately more effective means of turning the war is made available.

The challenge is that most Americans, when they come to Afghanistan to report on it or to do research for their think tank, rarely leave Kabul. Hell, a depressing number don’t even leave Camp Eggers, where the COIN academy is located, and that is even more insulated from Kabul than Kabul is from the rest of Afghanistan. But the attitude change in place, as the reality of the countryside war slowly filters its way down Chicken Street, will certainly be interesting to see. Even during the Soviet War, Kabul was something of a refuge; it is no longer.

Out here in the bush, relatively speaking, things are different. A depressing number of people seem to have accepted that they just might die a random, meaningless death; but far from letting this thought overpower their emotions and coping skills, it seems to have focused their attentions onto the most immediate concerns: will we eat tomorrow, can I increase my stature within the community, will my son get married and have enough children, and so on. One of my new friends here laments that attitude, complaining that the adults, especially the spinghiri, or “white beards,” are unbelievably selfish because they only care about money and power. I hope it’s not condescending to disagree, and see that thought process as a rational response to severe deprivation.

That belief in fundamental rationality—that in fact people here really do make rational choices, even if we don’t understand all the factors that go into them—is one of the critical missing pieces from the war effort. I’ve met far too many soldiers—American, French, Infantry, PRT—who view the Afghans we encounter as quasi-human… or even (dare I say it) alien. They are not alien in the slightest. They are just a tiny bit different. But that basic core of humanity, the part that lets me sit down with a man I’ve never met and laugh about my unmarried beard, that core is what will win us the fight. If we want to.

Alas, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the big cultural battle is not in Afghanistan, but in the Army itself. Army guys love to talk counterinsurgency (it’s trendy!), but a depressing number couldn’t begin to tell you what it is or what it would look like. Instead you see the same old missions—cordon and searches, door-kicking, HVT strikes—being shoved into a COIN framework. The result is a mess, with no one understanding their ultimate mission. That issue, I feel, is the bigger mountain to move, than the ones greeting us outside the MRAP windows.

Taliban assaults on government kill 26 in Kabul

Afghan policemen stand guard outside the Justice Ministry building which was attacked by militants

Taliban assaults on government kill 26 in Kabul

KABUL (AFP) — Taliban militants launched suicide bomb and gun attacks Wednesday on three Afghan government buildings, killing at least 26 people, in one of the most daring assaults on the capital to date.

The defence ministry said eight suicide attackers also died in the near-simultaneous strikes on the prisons directorate, and justice and education ministries — the deadliest insurgent attacks in Afghanistan so far this year.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told AFP in a telephone call that 16 suicide attackers had entered the Afghan capital and would carry out a wave of strikes, as the violence sowed panic across the city.

“So far we have registered 26 people killed and 55 wounded,” health ministry spokesman Abdullah Fahim said by mid-afternoon. Most were civilians, he said.

Of the eight attackers killed, three managed to blow themselves up and five were shot dead, officials said.

Witnesses of the attack on the justice ministry, which is close to the presidential palace in the heart of the capital, said several gunmen burst into the building and opened fire on security guards.

Some of the gunmen managed to run up several floors of the building, shooting as they went, they said.

Terrified ministry employees jumped from the windows of the four-storey building, while others locked themselves in their offices as heavy exchanges of gunfire continued for several hours, witnesses said.

Five would-be suicide attackers were killed inside the building, the defence ministry said. A witness said at least one was strapped with explosives.

“I saw several of them running into the ministry after a gunfight with police guards at the entrance, right next to the kitchen,” said a cook, Juma Khan.

“One of them was shot by the security guards. Three of my colleagues were martyred. I saw their bodies,” he said, describing the three as a cleaner, a cook and a painter.

As the dramatic assault unfolded, two suicide attackers also struck the prisons directorate in the north of the city, witnesses and officials said.

“I first heard gun shots,” a resident of a nearby house, Mia Agha, told AFP.

“I saw a guy around 18 or 20 years old who was hiding behind this vehicle and police were firing at him. He had a pistol and was firing back.

“At one point he pulled a wire from his sleeve and then a blast took place with huge fire and thick smoke. After some minutes a second blast took place at the entrance to the building.”

Agha said he saw many dead and wounded. The interior ministry media office said “four to five” civilians were killed there as well as a policeman.

The area was splashed with blood and body parts, the reporter said.

Another suicide attacker was shot dead in front of the education ministry, an interior ministry official told AFP. “His explosives detonated but it has not caused casualties,” an interior ministry official said.

The Taliban spokesman, Mujahid, told AFP that some of the suicide attackers dispatched to the city were awaiting orders.

“The attack at the ministry of justice and the directorate of prisons was revenge for mistreatment of Taliban prisoners,” he said.

The attacks caused widespread panic with people from the provinces calling residents to find out what had happened, witnesses said. Security groups warned people to avoid moving about in the city.

The top international military commander in Afghanistan, US General David McKiernan, said the assaults showed the “barbaric” face of the Taliban.

The attacks came as new US President Barack Obama considers a plan to double the number of US troops fighting against a widening Taliban-led insurgency which now stands at about 37,000.

Richard Holbrooke, the new US envoy to the region, was in Pakistan on Wednesday as part of efforts to conduct a comprehensive US policy review as Washington hopes to turn around the battle against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Opening the Valve To Iranian Gas Is Opening the Door To Peace

Nabucco pipeline may begin in Iran
Thu, 05 Feb 2009 16:16:46 GMT

The Nabucco pipeline will transfer Caspian gas to Europe via Turkey and the Balkan states to Austria, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

The Nabucco consortium raises the possibility of using Iran as its starting point for laying a pipeline to supply Europe with natural gas.

The Nabucco pipeline could begin in Iran and Georgia or in Turkey and the consortium is considering both alternatives, consortium Managing Director Reinhard Mitschek told reporters in Ankara.

“We are open to both possibilities. The most important thing is feasibility,” Mitschek said.

A recent Russia-Ukraine gas row, which led to a disruption of supplies to a dozen European countries amid a cold snap, prompted the EU to step up efforts to find alternative gas routes.

The pipeline, estimated to be worth $7.3 billion upon completion, will ultimately transport Caspian gas, across Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to a distribution hub in Austria.

Earlier in December, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that Ankara could buy natural gas from Iran and Iraq to feed the Nabucco pipeline.

Although the pipeline has been designed to lessen gas dependency on Russia, the Nabucco consortium is considering allowing Moscow’s participation in the project.

“We do not refuse from Russia’s participation in the project. If we get proposal from Moscow, we will discuss it with partners,” RIA Novosti quoted Mitschek as saying.

According to the Nabucco official, the laying of the pipeline will start in 2011 but gas flow will begin in 2014.

Leader: War on Gaza enters new phase

Leader: War on Gaza enters new phase
Wed, 11 Feb 2009 15:00:59 GMT

The Leader says Israel’s war on Gaza extends to the psychological realm.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution says Israel’s brutal and hard-hearted assault on Gaza has entered the realms of psychological warfare.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Israel’s aerial and ground offensive in Gaza has entered a third stage: a viral psychological campaign designed to sap Palestinian morale and resistance – a goal Tel Aviv failed to achieve by the means of blockade and war.

“With the fighting over, Israel is now preparing a new offensive against Gazans that employs propaganda and psychological tactics as a means to debilitate Palestinians,” said the Leader.

“However, despite the extreme conditions, Hamas and the spirit of Palestinian resistance remains far from broken,” Ayatollah Khamenei continued.

After Israel ceased the war on Gaza some three weeks ago, foreign journalists and non-governmental organizations flooded into the impoverished Palestinian territory to assess the damage from 23 days of massive bombing and shelling.

With this in mind, Israel began compiling information to try to prove that many of the 4,000 residential buildings, 51 government buildings, and 20 mosques –which were reduced to rubble during the offensive– were legitimate targets used by Hamas forces.

At least six Israeli ministers will spearhead the battle for international public opinion by “fanning out to different countries to press home Israel’s view of the conduct of the war.”

Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, meanwhile, said Israel has stepped up efforts to defend its war on Gaza and prevent what he described as ‘over-dramatization’ of the facts.

Earlier in January, Tel Aviv tried to justify its attack on a United Nations school, alleging that it was responding to “militant gunfire.” Israelis also released a video footage of the incident in an attempt to substantiate their claims.

The footage, however, was later found to be dated back to 2007 and irrelevant to the deadly attack during the war on Gaza.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said senior Israeli military officials have confessed that there was ‘no gunfire’ emanating from the school when it was shelled by Israeli tanks.

The attacks on three UN-run schools killed at least 45 civilians and injured over 150 others, who were seeking shelter inside the school to escape the arbitrary Israeli strikes.

Pakistan Parliament Will Authorize Shooting Down U.S. Drones?

Pakistan Parliament Will Authorize Shooting Down U.S. Drones?

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Here is a 7-point Parliament resolution authorizing Pakistan Air Force to shoot down CIA drones coming from Afghanistan and killing innocent Pakistani citizens. U.S. might expand its war into Pakistan. This is a time for concrete action. It’s now or never. If we have to then we must remove this government and install an interim technocrat based government until the situation in the country improves. We the people of Pakistan must demand these actions from this government and must not fall into the disguised rhetoric of our corrupt leaders.

By Talha Mujaddidi

Monday, 9 February 2009.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COMpak-air-force

KARACHI, Pakistan—It’s time Pakistan said farewell to the disastrous journey that we embarked upon right after 9/11. We must at all cost liberate ourselves from the yoke of Yankee slavery. This is the time we seek examples of other world rulers who are taking stand against U.S. hegemony. The Pakistani parliament must get together and get the following resolutions passed from the house:

1. Pakistan must pass a bill in the parliament that must authorize Pakistan Air Force to retaliate against deadly U.S drone attacks.

2. Pakistan must ask U.S. to pack up its military bases from Pakistani soil, since there was no open agreement between Pakistan government and U.S. All agreements done between Pakistan and the U.S. under President Musharraf must be made public and cancelled. If there is a need to continue with any one of those agreements with the U.S., they must be renegotiated in a manner that ensures Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty.

3. Pakistan must ask NATO and U.S. military to make sure that Afghanistan’s soil is not used by India to launch and sustain proxy wars against Pakistan.

4. Pakistan must declare neutrality in the War in Afghanistan. Pakistan can’t continue to be support a puppet Karzai Afghan Government that is working against the interests of Pakistan.

5. Pakistan must stop access to NATO and U.S. supplies through Pakistan in the current circumstances until the U.S. accepts and respects Pakistan’s legitimate strategic interests.

6. Evidence against RAW, NDS, and CIA operations inside Pakistan must be presented before the Parliament and media. Evidence against India and RAW must be presented to the U.N. Security Council, E.U., and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The Pakistani Parliament can and should act as a cushion to Western pressure. If the Pakistani parliament passes these resolutions, U.S. will be unable to apply pressure on key Pakistani officials. The example of Turkey in pre-invasion Iraq is before us when the Turkish parliament refused U.S. demand to allow Iraq invasion from Turkish soil.

If the parliament manages to pass these resolutions, Pakistan’s government must seek to expand its relationship with China and Russia and apply for a full membership in SCO. Iran has already applied for full membership in SCO.

Of course this is all easier said than done. We all know the real face of our parliament and the sheer incompetence and guilt of our politicians. We must demand these actions from them.

Most of the politicians in government and parliament will continue their verbal gymnastics and waste precious time. In the meantime U.S. might expand its war into Pakistan. This is a time for concrete action. It’s now or never. If we have to then we must remove this government and install an interim technocrat based government until the situation in the country improves. We the people of Pakistan must demand these actions from this government and must not fall into the disguised rhetoric of our corrupt leaders. We must recognize that while our citizens are being killed either by foreign intelligence agencies’ proxy wars, or direct U.S. attacks, or terrorist attacks, our leaders are using this time to gain their short term political goals. We must never forgive our politicians and rulers. Gone is the time when Yahya Khan could have a full military burial. We need to remember our history and must be steadfast in defense of our future. We should not allow our politicians to use patriotism as an excuse to obtain their vicious political gains. It’s time we looked beyond U.S. as our ally and deal with them as a bully and a declining empire.

Writer is a Communications Engineer, and independent analyst based in Karachi, Pakistan. He can be reached at talhamujaddidiATgmail.com

Pakistani village shines in dark

Pakistani village shines in dark

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Written by http://www.daily.pk
Friday, 06 February 2009 16:48
Use of solar power has not only helped villagers of Arab Goth in Pakistan to shun fossil fuels but also generate income through more working hours. Started by a local NGO, the project plans to illuminate around 8,000 additional rural homes in the energy-deficient country.
Arab Goth, Pakistan: For years residents of the Pakistani village of Arab Goth didn’t have to worry about the all-too-frequent power cuts hitting the nearby city of Karachi. They weren’t on the electricity grid.

Karachi is still plagued by frequent power cuts and Arab Goth is still not on the grid but these days villagers have power when the city’s 16 million residents don’t, thanks to energy from the sun.

With the help of non-governmental organisations, the villagers recently set up 15 solar energy panels that produce about four kilowatts of power.

That’s enough to light about 65 houses in the village, with at least one bulb each, bringing new opportunities and savings.

Jumaity Mai, a woman in her 40s, weaves wicker baskets which she sells to help support her family. The single light bulb in her small home has made the world of difference.

“I used to make three or four baskets a day. Now, if I work at night, I can make twice as many,” said Mai as she sat weaving.

The solar power has also cut the use of fossil fuel. Arab Dawood, a 65-year-old labourer, has lived all his life in the village and for the first time he is saving money on kerosene he and everyone else has always used in lamps.

“Now we don’t have to light lanterns as we did before. Because of these bulbs we can save money,” Dawood said.

Dawood said he used to burn a quarter of a litre of kerosene a day to light his house, at a cost of about 15 rupees (20 US cents) a day.

Ejaz Abro is a member of the Indus Earth Trust, an aid group which brought the solar project to Arab Goth with the help of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.

He said the pilot project had been a success and the groups hoped to bring solar power to about 1,000 villages by 2011.

Energy deficient Pakistan has huge potential for solar power as well as wind power, especially in coastal areas of the south, though some experts says authorities are loathe to think outside the fossil-fuel box.

The Alternative Energy Development Board’s solar energy programme director Imran Ahmed says 3,000 homes have been lit up with solar energy in the rural areas and the government is planning to light another 8,000 in the next two years.

“For the villagers it’s not just a bulb. It gives them an opportunity to save money on kerosene and have an extra few hours to work and generate income” Ahmed said.

Diversion In Lebanon, “Al Qaida” Puppets Act Up

WHENEVER ONE OF THE ZIONIST/AMERICAN WAR FRONTS BEGINS TO COOL, MOSSAD/CIA SEND IN THE “AL QAIDA” CLOWNS.

MP confirms army warning of militant attack

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

BEIRUT: Two Lebanese members of Parliament have been warned of possible assassination bids against them by an Al-Qaeda-inspired radical group, one of the MPs told AFP on Tuesday. “The army command informed me that some members of Fatah al-Islam are preparing suicide attacks against me and fellow MP Moustapha Hachem,” Moustapha Allouch said. He said both MPs, who represent the anti-Syrian bloc in north Lebanon where the army fought a deadly 2007 battle with Fatah al-Islam militants, had taken precautionary measures that included cutting back on public appearances. An army spokesman who did not wish to be identified confirmed that the security services had concluded that attacks might be being planned against certain MPs. “The security services have warned the MPs concerned that they could be targets,” he said, without giving further details. The 2007 uprising by Fatah al-Islam at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp left 400 people dead. A number of the group’s militants are believed to have succeeded in escaping the army’s siege of the camp. The anti-Syrian camp led by parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri accuses Damascus of backing Fatah al-Islam. Syria accuses the Hariri bloc of aiding the radical group. - AFP

U.S. to Enlist Iran in Combating Afghan Drug Trade

U.S. to Enlist Iran in Combating Afghan Drug Trade

MUNICH — Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s new point man on Afghanistan and Pakistan, is expected to engage Iran as part of a broad effort to stabilize Afghanistan and combat the country’s growing drug trade, according to officials briefed on the special representative’s plans.

[Richard Holbrooke, right, at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday with Wolfgang Ischinger, the conference chairman.] AFP/Getty Images

Richard Holbrooke, right, at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday with Wolfgang Ischinger, the conference chairman.

Many in the Obama administration believe that Iran and the U.S. share common interests when it comes to Afghanistan, these officials said. Tehran has been among the largest suppliers of financial and economic aid to Kabul since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, and these officials said they believe Iran may be willing to work with the U.S. to strengthen the fragile government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Holbrooke is expected to seek Iran’s support for a renewed international effort to combat Afghanistan’s growing drug trade. Iran has one of the highest opium-addiction rates in the world, and Iranian authorities have long pushed U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan to take stronger measures to combat opium production and trafficking there. (Meanwhile, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said he would contest Iran’s presidential elections this summer. Article on page A8.)

“Holbrooke will deal with Iran through [the issue of] Afghanistan,” said an official who has spoken in recent days with Mr. Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Holbrooke said the envoy wouldn’t comment about his plans until he returns from a 10-day visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India that kicks off Monday in Islamabad.

President Barack Obama has entrusted the conduct of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan to two men: Gen. David Petraeus, who runs the military’s Central Command and oversees the military aspects of the conflict; and Mr. Holbrooke, charged with managing the diplomatic, economic and political facets of the war.

The pair made their first joint appearance Sunday at a security conference in Munich, and called for reshaping the entire U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan.

Gen. Petraeus said the U.S. would begin using tactics in Afghanistan that were closely modeled on those developed in Iraq. He called for expanding outreach to moderate members of the Taliban and said the U.S. would build new outposts in residential areas of Afghanistan so American troops could live and work among ordinary Afghans. The American commander pressed European allies to contribute more troops.

Mr. Holbrooke, who is best known for negotiating the accords that ended the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, was blunt. “I have never seen anything remotely resembling the mess we’ve inherited,” he said. “In my view, it’s going to be much tougher than Iraq.”

Mr. Holbrooke called for making a single, U.N. special envoy responsible for the nonmilitary aspects of the conflict. He said the international community was “dribbling away” scant resources by failing to better coordinate each country’s reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Mr. Holbrooke didn’t discuss Iran in his public comments in Munich, but some U.S. officials said they believed outreach to Tehran through Afghanistan could be part of a broader U.S. engagement strategy toward Iran, a top priority of Mr. Obama’s.

Mr. Holbrooke recently hired Vali Nasr, a preeminent scholar on Iran and Shiite Islam, according to U.S. officials briefed on the decision. Christopher Hill, who had worked closely with Mr. Holbrooke in forging a peace agreement in the Balkans, meanwhile, is expected to be named U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Mr. Hill’s appointment would facilitate any efforts by Mr. Holbrooke to coordinate talks with Iran from both sides of Tehran’s borders.

US-Russia-Afghanistan: Triangulation or strangulation?

US-Russia-Afghanistan: Triangulation or strangulation?

By Eric Walberg*
Feb 10, 2009, 19:21

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(This will appear in the next issue of Al-Ahram Weekly)

Triangulation or strangulation?

The new president is discovering that America ’s road to Kabul goes through Moscow, says Eric Walberg

As Obama prepares to transfer troops from Iraq to Afghanistan , Al-Qaeda and other jihadists are also “transferring” there according to Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak, giving the country the dubious distinction of remaining the centre of the “war on terror”. Throwing down the gauntlet to Obama, the Taliban successfully closed the Khyber Pass yet again last week by blowing up a bridge, torching 10 supply trucks for good measure. The Pakistan army responded by bombing an insurgent base, killing 52 suspected militants. The Taliban have killed nearly two dozen suspected US spies in recent months, all of them in the border region where American drone aircraft have carried out a series of missile strikes.

Newly installed officials describe the situation on the ground in Afghanistan as far more precarious than they had anticipated, with US government departments poorly organised to implement the plan he presented last week to his National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Special envoy to Afghanistan-Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said it is “an extraordinarily dysfunctional situation in which the very objectives have to be reviewed.” Obama reacted by delaying the deployment of any further troops until defence chiefs presented a coherent “endgame”, though he can hardly afford to wait 60 days for the results of his “Afpak” policy review. After only a few weeks in office, Obama has painted himself into a corner on this, the stoney cornerstone of his foreign policy.

Despite talk of change and both his and Vice President Joe Biden’s professed distaste and distrust for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, it appears that Obama is committed to continuing Bush’s ill-conceived policy of bombing both Afghanistan and Pakistan, supporting a puppet regime and expecting the starving shell-shocked natives to be thankful. One innovation from the “dying” days of the Bush regime that thankfully looks like it was still-born was proposed by General Bantz John Craddock, the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe , Commander of the US European Command and head of the International Security Assistance Force, the “peace-keeping force” operating in Afghanistan . He advocated giving troops a license to kill all suspected poppy farmers, in effect ordering the mass execution of tens of thousands of civilians.

This Pol Pot strategy of genocide led to a mutiny by NATO officers and it looks like Craddock will be forced to resign, but it is surely a sign of the times. In December, 2008 US military doctrine was modified to permit the bombing of drug labs if intelligence suggested that no more than ten civilians would be killed.  Last month, Defence Secretary Robert Gates stated, “If we have evidence that the drug labs and drug lords are supporting the Taliban, then they’re fair game.” Will he also be forced to resign? Or will genocide become the official US policy in Afghanistan ?

The latest problem for Obama is the loss of the US airbase in Kyrgyzstan . Kyrgyz President Kumanbek Bakiyev announced the decision in a Moscow press conference after talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He was attending the Collective Security Treaty Organisation meeting which set up a regional rapid reaction force to include Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, He explained the cancellation as due to the US mission in the “war on terror” being over, and besides, the US wasn’t paying enough and had whisked a US soldier accused of murder out of the country without so much as a howdy-do. On the closure of the precious US base, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this was a sovereign decision of Kyrgyz authorities, albeit sweetened by Russia ’s $2 billion loan and $150 million gift to Kyrgyzstan , once the darling of the US neoliberals and scene of the US-sponsored “tulip” revolution, but now another bankrupt failed state.

Ending the US military presence in Kyrgyzstan puts the last piece into place in the Russian control of supply routes to Afghanistan through its “near abroad”. This is a serious blow to Obama’s plan to up the ante in Afghanistan . The Khyber Pass is no longer reliable and the only other access for supplies — apart from Iran — is now through Russia . Not unaware of this dilemma, the Kremlin has bent over backwards to show Washington it is ready to accommodate US transport needs. Lavrov said: “We expect the US side to send a request on the quantity and the nature of the supplies. We will give a relevant permission as soon as this happens.”

But for the US to benefit from Russian goodwill, it will have to abandon its missile plans for Eastern Europe and tear up its invitations to Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. Will the US risk abandoning its vital supply links to 60,000 troops in Afghanistan just to put its toys in eastern Europe and invite its “friends” Ukraine and Georgia into its private club?  After the gay 90s, when Russian policy was made in Washington , is US policy now being made in Moscow? A delicious irony.

As a sign of which way the wind is blowing, Harvard professor Karl Kaiser confidently dismisses any further plans to expand NATO to include Georgia and Ukraine in a recent New York Times editorial, arguing that the former’s reckless war against Russia shows how easily NATO could be dragged into a senseless war, and that the latter is too divided a nation on the issue. If NATO were forced to undertake a conventional war in Europe which existing members don’t want, it would be shown up as a paper tiger, leading to its own collapse. Hmmm. Perhaps letting the Georgian joker into this exclusive club is not such a bad idea after all.

As an afterthought, Kaiser adds that it would further harm already bad relations with Russia and suggests the Obama administration push for a new understanding with Russia, including strategic arms control, a nonproliferation policy, a new “security architecture”, and reviving the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. All of these issues will require serious compromise by the US , which would be wonderful, but how far and how fast can Obama go without raising the ire of US hawks? The answer depends very much on how successful Obama is in faraway Afghanistan in the next 12 months. Which depends on the Russians. Obama is painted into yet another corner, this time a Russian-Afghan one.

The standard line in Western media is to warn against “Russian expansionism”, as if it has no right to demand that its borders are safe and nearby countries don’t aim nuclear missiles at it. At last week’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), US Vice President Joe Biden vowed to resist the notion of a Russian sphere of influence (read: he accepts it grudgingly, and don’t tell anyone), promising that the new government under President Barack Obama would continue to press NATO to seek “deeper cooperation” with like-minded countries (read: Ukraine and Georgia will not get invitations to join NATO). He also said the Obama administration would continue to pursue the missile defense system, “in consultation with our NATO allies and Russia ,” provided the technology works and is not too expensive (read: “Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. I dare you to put your missiles in Kaliningrad. ”).

“So how can Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism?” asks Stratfor chief George Friedman  in another NYT oped. His answer (I’m not making this up) is to “rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the CIA.” Covert operators travel lightly, as we know from James Bond movies, and can spot Bin Laden terrorist training camps, beam the coordinates to Scotty and — wham! Mission accomplished. Friedman, taking a leaf from Rumsfeld’s scribblings, argues this would require far fewer forces and remove the irksome supply-routes problem. He does make the valid point that Obama’s conventional route of putting more troops on the ground is doomed, but more bombing, spying and other covert activities is hardly a credible option.

The only real alternative to the present military quagmire is negotiations with the Taliban, which will probably be the new policy, trying to replicate the “success” in Iraq with the Sunni Awakening councils. The idea is to offer the Taliban a share of power if they give up, allowing the US to concentrate on wiping out their friends in “terrorist camps” along the Pakistan border. This is derided by hardliners as appeasement. In any case, it is unlikely the Taliban will suddenly agree to get along with the detested Karzai and the heathen invaders. Such “coalitions” never last long without one side being destroyed.The comparison with Iraq is apples and oranges. And ungovernable tribal lands on the Pakistani border will remain just that.

Plans to attack Iran look laughable in this context. There are already rumours that Iran is beginning to look more favourably on the Taliban, which means US plans in Afghanistan will depend on Iran as well as Russia . On Iran , Biden told the MSC: “We will draw upon all the elements of our power — military and diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement, economic and cultural.” Ari Larijani, the speaker of Iran ’s parliament, noted Biden’s softer tone and called the MSC Obama’s decision to send George Mitchell as his envoy to the Middle East a “positive signal.” Iran is now waiting for a positive signal in its direction. Obama is painted into this corner, too. This time an Iranian-Afghan one.

Despite all the sympathy Obama has received from around the world, it is hard to translate any of it into support for US policies, either on the part of allies or foes. Nothing much has changed, except that existing problems have worsened, both on the military and economic fronts. Even the prospect of serious negotiations with the Taliban, Iran and Russia raise few hopes. The US would have to back down unilaterally on so many thorny issues that few expect this to happen.

This all looks spookily like the situation in 1961 when president John F Kennedy came to power. The conviction of many is that after initially proposing an escalation of the Vietnam war, the intelligent Kennedy soon realised the pointlessness of it and was about to reverse his position and quickly withdraw — until his assassination.

Many Americans are calling Afghanistan an unwinnable war and even Obama is now calling for an exit strategy before more troops are sent, much like Democrats were doing in the 1960s. The only way out of his dilemma with the Russians, Iranians and Afghans is to reverse his foolhardy pledge and end the war immediately. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com

Now or Never!! Pakistan must change its position on the “war on terror”.

Now or Never!! Pakistan must change its position on the “war on terror”.

By Talha Mujaddidi in Pakistan. Exclusive to Axis of Logic
Feb 7, 2009, 13:57

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A change in Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. war on terror is required immediately.

Pakistan is amidst the worst political turmoil of its history. Things were not this bad at the turn of the millennium but after 9/11, its political future took a sharp, bleak downturn. When the U.S. started its “war on terror” in Afghanistan, it might have enjoyed support of many countries and their leaders but it did not enjoy support of the majority of the people of Pakistan. In addition, Pakistan’s Pukhtoon population and vast majority of Afghan population considered and still considers Afghanistan an occupied country. They had the same view when Soviet Russia was occupying Afghanistan, a land considered to be a graveyard for super powers.

The Valley of Swat and the TTP

A map of Pakistan and the surrounding region highlighting Swat District

Pakistan’s current “catch 22” is in Swat, a valley in Northern part of Pakistan’s NWFP (North West Frontier Province). Swat was once Pakistan’ stop tourist destination, before its current and continuing chaos. The founder of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, called it “the Switzerland of Pakistan”. Winston Churchill was also fond of the valley in his early days in British India. In 2003 a new militant group emerged in Pakistan. This was Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP). It was headed by Abdullah Mehsud, a former prisoner of the Guantanamo Bay Prison. Surprisingly he was cleared by U.S. authorities and sent back to Pakistan. He organized and started TTP which should not be confused with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is a big common misconception in Pakistan and the rest of the world. It’s a pity that Pakistani and western journalists are confusing the Taliban with the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) in their reporting and news articles.

The Taliban in Afghanistan have nothing against Pakistan and have never killed or threatened Pakistani people or Pakistani state. On the other hand, the TTP has done both. The TTP is a group based on Takfiri ideology (a Muslim who believes that all other Muslims even orthodox are not true Muslims and they are just collaborators of infidels and deserve to be attacked and killed). All Muslim scholars are unanimous in declaring Takfiris ‘heretics of Islam’.

The Hashshashin Sect

History provides us an example that sheds light on the Takfiris. When the Crusaders began to attack the Muslim world in the 11th century, a group of heretic Muslims emerged that started creating havoc amongst the Muslims by declaring war on their fellow Muslims. The group was the Hashshashin sect (the word assassin came from Hashshashin). Hashshashins were Muslims who had become heretics believing that other Muslims are Kafir (infidels) and had to be killed by any means necessary. Their doctrine was known as Fedayeen (a person ready to sacrifice his life for a mission). They should not be confused with today’s Mujaideen (Muslims committed to an armed struggle). While the Muslim armies were fighting the Crusaders, these Hashshashins also declared war on Muslims! Such internecine fighting is not unusual in other ethnic groups and religions. Similar fundamentalist sects who fought against their own can also be found in the histories of Christianity and Judiasm. Because of the Hashashin sect, Muslims had to fight with two brutal armies simultaneously during the time of the Crusades.

Often the Hashshashins fought alongside the Christian Crusaders against the Muslim armies. They assassinated Muslim scholars, political leaders, and civilians ruthlessly. This is the ideology that TTP is following in Pakistan. In 2004, under pressure from U.S.., former President Musharraf started a military operation in Pakistan’s tribal areas to remove TTP from those areas. At that time things were more stable in Swat. But they were about to get worse.

Need for a strong, central government in Pakistan

Swat, like the rest of Pakistan has always suffered from lack of a strong central government and a rule of law. According to Amnesty International Pakistan’s civil, district and Supreme courts suffer from massive corruption. According to Asian Journal of Political Science August 2007, report,

“Pakistan is generally included in most discussions of ‘failing states’ that pose the maximum danger to global security, with the rise of Islamic militancy being the most commonly cited reason for the ‘failure’. However, Islamic militancy is a result of impending state failure, not a cause of it.

“The state’s inability, caused by decades of systemic corruption, to provide any appreciable level of public goods or services, broadly defined, is responsible for the de-legitimization of the state and its inability to maintain law and order in the cities or suppress Islamist insurgents in the rest of the country.”

There has been a succession of corrupt Pakistani governments in the past. With nothing to offer to the Pakistani population these corrupt governments looked up to U.S., Britain, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in order to consolidate their position in power. They plundered the national wealth and placed Pakistan in debt by taking new loans from World Bank, IMF and other imperial financial institutions. Corrupt governments and weak parliaments were responsible for breakdown of institutions in Pakistan resulting in corruption, nepotism and rising lawlessness.

Emergence of Sufi Mohammad

The failure of civil law and order and the failure of enforcement have been the direct cause of the rise of local militants who controlled and operated their parallel Islamic courts in Swat. Sufi Mohammad was one such militant who started a movement to impose Islamic laws in Swat and other areas. His movement is not new. It first became known in 1989. In 1995 he started mass protests against the government. The government of Benazir Bhutto at that time negotiated with him and the matter was swept under the carpet.

Sufi Mohammad emerged again when U.S. attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. He and his followers went to Afghanistan to fight U.S. invasion, most of his followers were killed there. Sufi Mohammad was captured and then sent back to Pakistan where he was imprisoned. He remained in Pakistani prison until April 2008, when he agreed to denounce “terrorist acts”, militancy, give up arms and come into agreement with Pakistan government.

Maulvi Fazalullah (also known as Radio Maulvi) is the current leader in charge of militants in Swat. He is son-in-law of Sufi Mohammad. Maulvi Fazalullah, unlike Sufi Mohammad, has not at all renounced violence or the armed struggle. Also note that followers of Fazalullah and TTP (Takfiri) are two separate groups. With the failure of law and order in Swat, many who lived outside the laws of Central Government, took refuge in Swat since civil law and enforcement has been virtually absent from the area.

When the Pakistan army started military operations against TTP in Tribal areas of Pakistan, Fazalullah and his militants began to attack police stations and to challenge the central government. Many civilians were killed. Members of the local population are often threatened, schools (especially girls’ schools) are closed down, teachers are killed, local politicians are attacked along with NGO workers and other acts of violence are taking place.

The judicial system in Swat

Swat was a princely state during British Rule in India. After the creation of Pakistan people of Swat used to follow the Islamic Shariah Laws to manage their day to day affairs. This means that all cases from criminal to civil to child custody were all managed by laws under Islamic Shariah Laws. After 1970 the Government of Pakistan took Swat under the District administration system just like the other parts of Pakistan. This meant that from that point on all Shariah courts would be replaced by civil courts, district courts. Pakistan is still following British laws that were incorporated under British India Act of 1935. The Pakistan government is still following a lot of obsolete rules and regulations of Act of 1935. The people of Swat agreed to accept the change but the problem with civil courts is that they take a longtime to come to any conclusion. They are susceptible to bribery and corruption because of the presence of unnecessary red tape and the handling of cases takes longtime. Plus the fact that there is a shortage of lawyers who are unwilling to work for lowly paid government jobs instead of more lucrative work in private practice.

Swat rejects Fazalullah

This system continued until Sufi Mohammad started his movement of re-introduction of Shariah courts. The local public wanted Shariah courts. As long as Sufi Mohammad was leading the movement it was non-violent. The people of Swat supported Sufi Mohammad. However, Fazalullah is now acting like a local war-lord. The people of Swat do not support violence at all and they are not supporting Fazalullah. The problem is that he has around 4000 men who are well trained and well armed and they have terrorized the local population. The local police, already understaffed and under budgeted, have been faced with massive desertions. The police does not have sophisticated weapons and gear comparable to that of Maulvi Fazalullah’s militants. The local police are no match for Fazalullah’s professional combatants.

Swat is different from Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Tribal areas are purely Pukhtoon and their daily lives are managed under tribal codes and laws. Mainstream schooling is very limited, whereas in Swat mainstream schooling was widespread. Swat, the most popular tourist destination in Pakistan once thrived with economic activity, local shops, small hotels and vintage shops. This resulted in better economic level compared to Tribal areas. Another thing to remember is that Tribal Areas have their traditional customs where all men consider carrying weapons a part of traditional manhood. In Swat this was not the case.

In the past, Swat progressed just like any other city in Pakistan and weapons were not to be found in every household. If Maulvi Fazalullah had appeared in Tribal Areas he would not have been able to terrorize the local population because there, the people are armed. Even though there is a great deal of anger throughout Pakistan over U.S. drone attacks, that anger will not cause the people of Swat to support Fazalullah. They see him as someone who is taking advantage of the U.S.. invasion and as one who is responsible for ruthless killings and the destruction of their local economy.

The government tried to bring Fazallullah under control through dialogue but to no avail. Fazalullah started his FM radio transmission that earned him the name of Radio Mullah. Notice the similarities between actions of Fazalullah and Hashshashins. There is no doubt that the restoration of law and order in Swat is a must through military intervention by the central government of Pakistan. There is no point with having a dialogue with Fazalullah, who has repeatedly backtracked from “peace talks” initiated by the central government. But this is an internal matter and is not the responsibility of foreign governments like the United States.

Who is providing arms to Fazalullah?

The situation in Swat has worsened in the last two years. With rising tensions between Pakistan and India, Pakistan moved some of its troops from Swat and tribal areas to eastern border with India; this provided a window of opportunity for Fazalullah to foment more anarchy in Swat. One important question is, “Who is the source of the weapons and supplies that are used by Fazalluah and TTP? In my view, the weapons are coming from Afghanistan where India operates 19 consulates. These are nothing more or less than operation centers of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). RAW is India’s equivalent of CIA.

NDS is Afghanistan’s intelligence agency created by U.S. military after they setup Karzai government. The head of NDS is Amrullah Saleh, the thirty-six-year-old director of Karzai’s spy agency. Saleh became the world’s youngest intelligence chief in 2004, at age 32. Since 2005, NDS has emerged as a major source of strategic instability in the region. Saleh, explaining his action in Pakistan, says that “Insurgency is like grass, you cut the upper part but after sometime it will grow back, you poison the soil [Pakistan] where that grass is and it will die forever.”

Another problem for Pakistan is that the current government of Afghanistan is composed of Northern Alliance Warlords (NAW) who are supported by the U.S.. government. The NAW are extremely hostile towards Pakistan and very close to India. Historically, they have been mostly based in minority ethnic groups of Afghanistan like Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara (Shia by faith), and other groups. Pakistan has always supported majority ethnic group Pukhtoon, since Pakistan has huge Pukhtoon population. Taliban of Afghanistan was also Pukhtoon. During Taliban’s rule, India, Iran or Russia had no access into Afghanistan.

The India Factor

India’s intelligence bureau (IB) has always been responsible for internal intelligence gathering. The IB formed the “Research and Analysis Wing” known as RAW in 1968 for conducting external intelligence, comparable to the CIA. Recently, under RAW, India, in cooperation with the CIA, has begun to move some ground troops into Afghanistan.

According to Asian Tribune report of September 2008, India has 14 consulates in Afghanistan from which RAW is operating. In Wakhan, Badakshan province, RAW is operating a madarssah, where clerics from India are brainwashing local Afghans, Uzbeks and Tajiks. Their students are then infiltrated into Pakistan where they readily carry out suicide missions and other operations. The report further states:

“Mullah Omar (leader of the real Taliban) had never shown interest in establishing any links with Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and had warned Nek Muhammad (a militant who agreed to make peace deal with Pakistan government before he was killed in a U.S. drone attack) not to operate under the brand name of Taliban. It is being questioned as to why Baitullah, Fazlullah and their spokesmen desperately wanted by Pakistan security forces have escaped the hawkeye of U.S., particularly after they have been seen giving detailed interviews to media and using their cell phones? ISI [Pakistan’s intelligence service] had once given six figure coordinates of Baitullah and yet no Hellfire missile was fired on his hideout by CIA.”

It is very surprising that the CIA has not been able to kill Baitullah Mehsud, head of TTP or Fazalullah, when they have no problem hitting civilians with its drone-fired hellfire missiles.

Cambodia-Vietnam Analogy

When U.S. was fighting against the Vietcong in Vietnam, the U.S. military falsely claimed that support for the Vietcong was coming from Cambodia and President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, started air strikes in Cambodia. At the time, the military government of Cambodia was just a U.S. puppet regime. That U.S. bombing killed one million people Cambodian people. What was the result? Cambodia was torn into civil war and brutal suffering took place under Pol Pot. The same thing could happen in Pakistan. They are triangulating the U.S.. war in Afghanistan with India and Pakistan. One of their convoluted methods is to use India’s RAW in Afghanistan which leads to the indirect attacks in Pakistan by RAW’s madarssah students in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government’s stance on the “War on terror” is as never before at a tangent with the public opinion.

The government of Pakistan must act now to avert catastrophe

The Pakistan government must take the following steps immediately if complete destabilization and catastrophe is to be averted. If the Pakistan government does not take these steps, it must be removed and an interim government must be set up to carry out these steps.

  • Pakistan must pass a bill in the parliament that authorizes the Pakistan Air Force to retaliate against deadly U.S. drone attacks. Pakistan has asked the U.S. government and military leadership repeatedly to stop drone attacks into Pakistan but to no avail.

  • Pakistan must ask the U.S. to pack up its military bases and get them out off Pakistani soil, since there was no open agreement for these air bases between Pakistan government and U.S.. in the first place.

  • After 9/11 military ruler Pervez Musharraf became dictator of Pakistan. All agreements were made between him and the U.S.. government. These agreements with the U.S. must be made public and cancelled. New agreements must be made with the U.S.. which ensures Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty.

  • Pakistan must ask NATO and the U.S. military to make sure that Afghanistan’s soil is not used by India to create proxy war against Pakistan. Pakistan must declare neutrality in War in Afghanistan, Pakistan can’t continue to be supporting Afghan Government that is working against the interests of Pakistan.

  • Pakistan must stop giving NATO and the U.S.. access to move arms and supplies through Pakistan. If the U.S. continues to send drones to kill civilians in Pakistan under the Obama regime, it will only fuel more militancy in Pakistan. Pakistan must stop the NATO/U.S. supply route.

Of course all this is easier said than done. The U.S.. knows it need not worry about any of this or similar course of action being taken by the current Pakistani government. The U.S.. is completely involved with Pakistani leadership, especially with the President and the Army Chief. What is not reported in the U.S.. media is that U.S.. Ambassador to Pakistan, Ann Patterson, meets with Pakistani leaders and even opposition leaders as often as she can. In one week in January 2009 she met with Pakistani President thrice. But will she say a word to stop the pointless, deadly U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan by the U.S.. military?

Obama’s “War on Terror”

On January 26, 2009, immediately after he was inaugurated, President Obama ordered his first drone missile attack in sovereign Pakistan, killing 16 civilians. Obama should realize that the escalating “War on Terror” inside Pakistan is totally counterproductive. U.S. must realize that there is no option but to bring the Taliban into the political process in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, NATO commanders, and British government have all expressed similar views. Pakistan, on the other hand, must distance itself from the U.S. “war on terror” as it is creating havoc inside Pakistan and has no basis in fact, worldwide. It is also important to note that the Pakistan army is also not in best of moods since they are not particularly in tune with the government and have no desire to fight their own countrymen.

If the government does not address the situation, mounting public pressure can result in wide spread social unrest, protests, strikes, and even violent agitation? The situation in Pakistan’s tribal areas and Swat is moving from bad to worse. Even if the situation in Swat or Tribal Areas were to improve, trouble is likely to start in some other part of NWFP or Baluchistan province of Pakistan. The point is that Pakistan is facing tough challenges from TTP, Maulvi Fazalullah and other militants, and current U.S. policy of carrots and sticks for Pakistan is only making it worse. The U.S. must deal with people of Pakistan in a civil manner and respect their territorial integrity and national sovereignty rather than making back-room deals with the corrupt President and Prime Minister. Their refusal to do so raises questions about whether they really want to see Pakistan united in peace or a destabilized Pakistan that serves their imperial agenda. The spokesman for the Pakistan Army spokesman has said that crushing militancy will take a longtime as it’s very difficult to distinguish militants from local residents. Moreover, the continuing illegal U.S.. attacks are fostering support by local populations for disparate militant groups who already live their lives within those populations.

Democracy does not work the same way in Pakistan as it is reported to be working in the U.S. or Europe. With 35% literacy rate, it cannot be the same kind of democracy as in EU or North America. The U.S. belligerent support to corrupt democratic leaders of Pakistan will only undermine what is already a weak democracy in Pakistan. Weak democratic institutions give rise to militancy, extremism, and parallel institutions. Continuous U.S. and British support to corrupt Pakistani rulers will only result in more hatred for Pakistani state, Pakistani rulers, and in turn, the United States.

Conclusion

Finally, the news coverage of the Swat region is very limited, and no one exactly knows how many people have been killed. According to a rough estimate by Center for Research and Security Studies, since 9/11 Pakistan has lost at least 12,000 people as a result of the U.S. war on terror. Some were blown up in suicide bombings, some were killed by U.S. drone attacks, some of the dead were Pakistani army soldiers, some police officers, and a lot of them were women and children. This is nothing compared to the death count of Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq but it is enough to push Pakistan on the brink of disaster. A policy shift by the Pakistan government toward foreign intervention is the need of the hour.

The current carnage in Swat has resulted in killing of many civilians, security personal and militants. The exact number of people killed is not known. The local economy has collapsed and people are making mass exodus from the valley. How long the military operation will continue is unknown. Pakistan must make drastic changes in its foreign policy in Afghanistan and its policy on the U.S. “war on terror”. Otherwise, we the people of Pakistan will suffer more.


© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com

Israel’s Inverse Exceptionalism

Israel’s Inverse Exceptionalism

M. Shahid Alam

38israeli_bulldozer_flag_border_getty.jpg
‘Israel is the only country in the world that refuses to define its borders.’ (Getty)

Feb 10, 2009

Critics of Zionism and Israel – including a few Israelis – have charted an inverse exceptionalism, which describes an Israel that is aberrant, violates international norms with near impunity, engages in systematic abuse of human rights, wages wars at will, and has expanded its territories through conquest. This is not the place to offer an exhaustive list of these negative Israeli exceptionalisms, but we will list a few that are more egregious.

As an exclusionary settler-colony, Israel does not stand alone in the history of European expansion overseas: but it is the only one of its kind in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Since the sixteenth century Europeans have established exclusionary settler-colonies in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand – among other places – whose white colons displaced or nearly exterminated the indigenous population to recreate societies in the image of those they had left behind. By the late nineteenth century, however, this genocidal European expansion was running out of steam, in large part, because there remained few surviving Neolithic societies that white colons could exterminate with ease; in tropical Africa and Asia, the climate and the pathogens were not particularly kind to European settlers.

The Zionist decision in 1897 to establish an exclusionary colonial-settler state in Palestine marked a departure from this trend. In 1948, some fifty years later, the Jewish colons from the West would create the only state in the twentieth century founded on conquest and ethnic cleansing. Israel is also the only exclusionary colonial-settler state established by the modern Europeans anywhere in the Old World.

In Israel, moreover, settler-colonialism is not something that belongs to its past. After their victory in the June war of 1967, the Israelis decided to extend their colonial-settler project to the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights. In recent decades, the demand for another massive round of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the ‘Occupied Territories’ – and even inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders – has moved from the extremist fringes of the Israeli Right to the mainstream of Israeli politics.

Israel is most likely the only country in the world that insists on defining citizenship independently of geography. On the one hand, it has continued to deny the right of return – and, hence, rights of citizenship – to millions of Palestinians who or whose parents and grandparents were expelled from Palestine in two massive rounds of ethnic cleansing since 1948. At the same time, under it Law of Return, Israel, automatically and instantly, grants citizenship to applicants who are Jews, persons of Jewish parentage, or Jewish converts. Under this law, as Mazin Qumsiyeh puts it succinctly, “no Jew emigrates to Israel; Jews (including converts) ‘return’ (hence the name of the law).” In addition, the Jewish immigrants receive generous support from the state upon their arrival in Israel. In other words, Israel turns internationally recognized rights of residence and citizenship on their head, denying these rights to those who have earned them by birth, while granting them freely to those who claim them because of ancient religious myths.

In recent years, critics have increasingly charged Israel with practicing legal discrimination against Palestinians. Such discrimination is massive and blatant in the ‘Occupied Territories’ where Israel has established Jewish-only settlements, connected to pre-1967 Israel by Jewish-only roads. Since June 1967, the Palestinians in these territories have suffered under a system of military occupation, which shows even less regard for their human rights than South Africa’s apartheid. A former US President, Jimmy Carter, has recently dared to acknowledge the existence of apartheid in the ‘Occupied Territories’ in the title of his new book, Palestine: Peace not apartheid. Instantly, America’s mainstream media – led by Zionist censors – began savagely attacking President Carter for mentioning the unmentionable. Not a few political and academic careers in the United States have met a premature end for lesser offenses. Jimmy Carter, the octogenarian former President, had little to lose.

Inside its pre-1967 borders too, Israel has allocated rights based on ethnicity. Until 1966, Palestinians in Israel were governed under martial law, which severely restricted their civil and political rights, including their right to free movement, to establish their own media, and to protest or form political parties. Since its founding, Israel has openly tied its immigration policy to Jewish ethnicity. Israeli law defines land to be a property of the Jewish people, owned on their behalf by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a quasi-governmental organization. Israel nationalized all the lands belonging to the Palestinians it expelled in 1948, and it has continued to expropriate Palestinian lands under a variety of arbitrary measures. As a result, the JNF today owns 93 percent of all the lands in pre-1967 Israel. Yet, even in his moment of daring, President Carter shrank from addressing the presence of apartheid inside pre-1967 Israel.

Israel is the only country in the world that refuses to define its borders. Its de facto borders have shifted with impressive frequency. At first, the armistice line of 1948 served as Israel’s borders; but they expanded outwards in 1956, 1967 and 1982, because of wars and conquests. On a few occasions, Israel had to retract from the territories it had conquered: from the Sinai in 1957, from the Sinai again in 1978, from Southern Lebanon in May 2000, and from Southern Lebanon again in August 2006. In addition, since the Oslo Accord of 1993, Israel has defined a new set of internal ‘borders’ inside the West Bank to contain and neutralize the Palestinian resistance in a set of regulated Bantustans.

If Israel has not yet reached or exceeded the borders of the mythic David’s Kingdom, it is not because of any lack of ambition. The constraint is demographic. In order to expand beyond its present borders, Israel would need a more ample supply of Jewish colons willing to assume the risks of colonization. Fortunately, for the Arabs, these colons are in short supply, as they were before the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Had Israel succeeded in attracting five million Jewish colons after 1967, the Sinai would still be under Israeli occupation, and its borders in the north would extend to the Litani River and across the Jordan River in the east. Luckily, for the Arabs, Israeli expansionism has been stalled by the poverty of Jewish demography. That could change very quickly, however, if Israel decides to soften the requirements for conversion to Judaism. Millions of Jewish converts from the poorest countries in the world, attracted by the promise of a ‘better life,’ could start pouring into Israel under its Law of Return.

- M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is author of Challenging the New Orientalism (2007). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: alqalam02760@yahoo.com and visit his website: http://aslama.org.

Rabin’s legacy: Protesters’ accounts show Israel ‘breaking the bones’ of peaceful demonstrators

Rabin’s legacy: Protesters’ accounts show Israel ‘breaking the bones’ of peaceful demonstrators

Ma’an news

Feb 10, 2009

Salfit – Ma’an – Israeli forces are carrying out a policy of shooting at the legs of peaceful demonstrators who protest the Israeli separation wall each Friday in towns across the West Bank, demonstrators are reporting.

The accounts of the Palestinian demonstrators who have been wounded by Israeli fire in recent weeks is raising the legacy of the first Palestinian Intifada, when Israeli then-defense minister Yitzak Rabin ordered his soldiers to “break the bones” of young protesters.

A representative of the Popular Committee against the Wall in the village of Ni’lin, Ahed Al-Khawaja, said that Israeli snipers, shooting from nearby hilltops or from stands of trees, are causing debilitating injuries, especially among young men who come to demonstrate.

In the village of Jayyus, which also holds a weekly demonstration against the wall, protesters said Israeli soldiers put silencers on their guns. When five young men were shot at last Friday’s demonstration, none of the marchers present said they heard the sound of gunshots when they were shot.

In Ni’lin, soldier allowed the protesters to reach the wall, then opened fire without warning, deploying tear gas and sound grenades. According to witnesses, soldiers fired on demonstrators as they were fleeing, their backs turned.

On 9 January, a Ma’an photojournalist, Khalil Ryash was among those who was shot in the legs. Another young man was also shot that day while he was sitting in his front yard.

“At the beginning, I did not feel pain,” Ryash said. “A medic tried to help me and I told him I was okay and did not need help. As soon as I finished the phrase, I felt very severe pain in my leg and I was evacuated to an ambulance which was about 100 meters away. The pain became intolerable. We got to Azzun health center where I was x-rayed and medics told me I had shrapnel in my leg, and needed to be taken to a hospital.”

“In hospital they discovered that I was hit by a live gunshot in my left leg, and the gunshot exited from my leg leaving behind shrapnel of different sizes. The doctor told me that some of the larger shrapnel could be removed after the wound heals up, but other could not be removed because removal would tear muscles.”

It was later learned that Ryash was hit with a new brand of ammunition that produces a scatter-shot, a spray of metal pellets that embed themselves in the flesh.

Muhammad Al-Khawaja, 26, from Ni’lin was injured last week. He was hit by a similar gunshot.

Al-Khawaja described his experience: “About half an hour after we arrived at the site of the separation wall, Israeli soldiers showered demonstrators with gunshots and tear gas canisters. As demonstrators rushed away, I was hit by a gunshot to my right leg and was taken to hospital. Doctors discovered that the gunshot penetrated the bones and the muscle leaving behind 20 pieces of shrapnel of which they removed some, but those in the bone they could not remove.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Hamada Al-Khawaja, also from Ni’lin was shot after the demonstration was over.

He said, “At about 4:00 pm, on Friday 6 February, and after confrontations were over, I wandered with my friends trying to see what happened in the village. Israeli soldiers were stationed on a hill at the other side of the wall. They started firing at us gunshots and tear gas canisters. As I turned trying to flee the scene, a gunshot hit me in the leg. I could not move, and was evacuated to hospital. Doctors discovered that the bullet broke my bones and left behind 10 pieces of shrapnel in different sizes.”

Inclusion Of Dalits In The New Constitution

Inclusion Of Dalits In The New Constitution

Analyzing the current context of federalism, there is no possibility to demand separate geographical Dalit entity because of no definite majority of Dalits in any geographic area of Nepal. Their population spreads across the country. Dalits do not need a separate state in a federal set-up. All they need in the new constitution is an integrated package policy to resolve the economic, political, administrative, social and cultural problems of Dalits along with the provision of Dalit reservation or special rights. Political parties and civil society organizations can play a significant role to ensure Dalit rights and their representation. Only a collective effort may help address the Dalit issues in the new constitution.


Feb 10, 2009

Dalits do not need a separate state in a federal set-up. All they need in the new constitution is an integrated package policy to resolve the economic, political, administrative, social and cultural problems of Dalits along with the provision of Dalit reservation or special rights.

-Bharat Nepali

Nepalese people are now eagerly waiting for an inclusive new constitution. The Constituent Assembly (CA) has already elected chairpersons and members for 14 specific CA committees to draft the new constitution. Collection of opinions from civil societies, experts and local citizens regarding their concepts about the new constitution is now underway. However, the delay in forming the committees and entering into the constitution drafting process has made many doubtful about the drafting and promulgation of the new constitution in the stipulated timeframe.

Constitution is a main law of a country. It guarantees the fundamental civil, political, economic and social rights of the people and sets out directive principles and policies of the state. It also defines the fundamental political principles and establishes the structures, procedures, powers and duties of the government to establish the rights and identity of the people belonging to various castes, religions, sex, regions etc. in the state structures on the basis of principles of proportional inclusion.

Nepal is a small country inhabited by 23.1 million people belonging to various caste/ethnic groups with their distinct cultures, languages and religions. Of the 103 caste/ethnic groups in Nepal, Dalits have been discriminated and exploited for many centuries due to the complex caste structure sustained by the age-long traditions and superstitions. Considering the diversity of Nepalese people with no majority of a particular ethnic group, protecting rights of Dalits and minority groups is more challenging. The Dalits or so-called untouchable communities constitute 13 per cent (though this figure is thought to be as high as 20%) of the total population of the country; but they are systematically discriminated, excluded and marginalized in the social, cultural, economic and political spheres. As a result, the Dalits have been facing numerous problems such as scarcity, deprivation of basic health, hygiene and nutrition, violation of human rights, unemployment, psychosocial problems etc.

Social exclusion in Nepal is linked to the caste system, geography/spatiality, religion, gender and language. The caste discrimination is the major factor behind the exclusion of Dalits. National laws, social rules and regulations based on traditional practices still support the hierarchical social structure, social injustice and prejudice and prevent Dalits from joining national mainstream as well. That’s why the Dalits remain excluded from political and socio-economic development sectors. Most of the development organizations and political parties in Nepal claim in principle that they are against the untouchability practice and are for inclusion of the Dalits in all spheres of social and development sectors. However, they seem to be giving no much attention to address Dalit agenda even in the time of building a new Nepal.

The need of reservation policy is extremely felt for the increasing participation and inclusion of Dalits into the state mechanism. Therefore, special provisions are key agendas of Dalits for bringing them to an equal footing in every process of change and development. The Dalits view the current process of drafting a new constitution as one major forum in which their problems can be addressed.

Dalits were excluded from the drafting processes of both the Constitution of 1990 and the Interim Constitution of 2007. The participation of Dalit population in politics was very low in the past. Their representation at the government organizations from village to national level was rather insignificant as compared to the size of their population. However, the representation of Dalits in the current Constituent Assembly is 8.1 per cent with 49 Dalit CA members out of total 601. For the first time in the history, seven Dalits were elected in the CA elections under FPTP system, which is exceptional. Looking at the past history the present Dalit representation in the Constituent Assembly looks highly positive. But the performance of the 49 Dalit CA members in the constituent assembly is not seen yet as satisfactory. They seem to be failing to raise the voices of Dalits strongly in the Constituent Assembly. The poor performance of the Dalit CA members is discouraging to the entire Dalit community.

If present situation of Dalit community and the lackluster performance of the Dalit CA members continue in the coming days then Dalits will surely be deprived of justice of any kind. We need to pressurize the political parties to address the agenda of the Dalits during the constitution drafting process. Certainly, Dalit CA members have more responsibility towards ensuring the wellbeing of the Dalits through the new constitution and the future of Dalits. They must put pressure on government machinery, political parties and Constituent Assembly to take up seriously the suggestions put forth for addressing Dalit issues in the new constitution.

All Dalit activists, professionals and politicians need to provide very strong support to the Dalit issues so that they could get included in the new constitution. A number of people representing the interest of specific excluded and disadvantaged groups have emerged as the powerful groups in the past few years. Some of them (for instance, Janajati and Madhesi) are being quite effective in pushing the government and other actors to pay more attention to their demands. But Dalits have not been much effective. It might be a good time now to encourage and support the Dalit CA members to work for the cause of entire Dalit communities especially during the constitution drafting process.

The Way Ahead

Dalit issues should be raised in the support and solidarity with like-minded people, pro-Dalit civil society organizations and political parties. A collective effort to draft a pro-Dalit constitution should be launched from now in the support of Dalit activists, Dalit political leaders, Dalit intellectuals and political leaders. The political parties, Constituent Assembly members and specific CA committees should be pressurized in order to ensure proportional representation and right of Dalits in the new constitution. To ensure proportional representation of Dalits on the basis of their population at all levels and end prevalent caste discrimination and untouchability, the constitution should define additional compensation for Dalits and punishment for the perpetuators who discriminates Dalits based on caste.

Analyzing the current context of federalism, there is no possibility to demand separate geographical Dalit entity because of no definite majority of Dalits in any geographic area of Nepal. Their population spreads across the country. Dalits do not need a separate state in a federal set-up. All they need in the new constitution is an integrated package policy to resolve the economic, political, administrative, social and cultural problems of Dalits along with the provision of Dalit reservation or special rights. Political parties and civil society organizations can play a significant role to ensure Dalit rights and their representation. Only a collective effort may help address the Dalit issues in the new constitution.

Anger confronts Holbrooke in Pakistan

Pakistanis demonstrated Jan. 23 near the Parliament building in Islamabad to protest Pakistani military operations and United States airstrikes in the tribal areas. (Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press)

Anger confronts Holbrooke in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: When Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, holds talks with Pakistani leaders on ways to stop a runaway Islamist insurgency that is destabilizing Pakistan, he will find a pro-American but weak civilian government, and a powerful army unaccustomed and averse to fighting a domestic enemy.

In a nuclear-armed nation regarded as an ally of the United States and considered pivotal by the administration of President Barack Obama to ending the war in neighboring Afghanistan, Holbrooke will face a surge of anti-American sentiment on clear display by private citizens, public officials and increasingly potent television talk shows.

Some remedies offered by his hosts in Pakistan, where he was scheduled to begin a regional tour on Monday, are likely to be unappealing. On almost every front, the country’s leaders are calling for less U.S. involvement, or at least the appearance of it.

The main reason for the swell in resentment here is the very strategy that the U.S. government considers its prime success against Al Qaeda: missile strikes delivered by remotely piloted aircraft against militants in Pakistani tribal areas.

To the surprise of many Pakistanis, who had been promised by their leaders that the new administration in Washington would be different, U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at two areas in the tribal belt just three days after Obama’s inauguration. According to the Pakistanis, as many as 21 civilians were killed by the strikes, in North and South Waziristan.

Fury at the continued airstrikes is considered one of the reasons for the poor showing of the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, in public opinion surveys.

Many Pakistanis view Zardari as too close to his American patrons. He is widely believed in Pakistan to have agreed to a request from President George W. Bush for a widening of the drone strikes, which had been conducted far more sparingly before Zardari came to power last September.

In an effort on Saturday to assuage an angry public, Zardari told an audience in Peshawar, a city in the North-West Frontier Province, that he would argue against the drone attacks during Holbrooke’s visit. According to the Pakistani state press agency, Zardari said that the drone attacks were “counterproductive” and that the “day was not far away when

these attacks will be stopped.”

Zardari’s sudden appearance, in Peshawar, a city virtually under siege from the Taliban, just two days before Holbrooke’s arrival, was his first since he became president.

He was reported to have said that the visit by Holbrooke would give him the opportunity to educate the administration.

“We will tell them fighting was no solution to the imbroglio,” Zardari was quoted as having said, “and let us handle it in our own way, as we know better than them as to how best the issue could be tackled.”

Pakistani officials said they agreed with the U.S. assessment that the airstrikes had killed some of the senior leadership of Al Qaeda.

But the civilian casualties that have accompanied the attacks have accelerated anti-American feelings and made the Pakistani military appear feeble, they said. They argued that short-term tactical gains were likely to be outstripped by long-term strategic losses.

“Even when the real militants get killed, there is also a high probability that unarmed civilians get killed,” said Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for Zardari. “People get galvanized and become sympathetic to the militants.”

The best alternative, Babar and former and current military officials said, was for the Americans to share their intelligence with the Pakistanis, and for the Pakistanis to carry out the attacks. If Pakistan conducted the air raids, they said, the militants could not contend that the battle against them was “America’s war.”

At the very least, the Pakistanis say, they will drive home to Holbrooke the need for U.S. military aid to help fight the insurgents – in particular, helicopters, as well as night-vision gear.

In a startling example of its shortcomings in counterterrorism, the Pakistani Army has been unable to thwart the FM radio signal of the leading Islamic militant in the Swat Valley, an area just 160 kilometers, or 100 miles, from this capital city. There, an army division of about 12,000 men has lost ground to the roughly 3,000 Taliban. The radio programs of the militant leader, Maulana Fazlullah, have proved a virulent weapon, forcing landowners to flee, terrorizing the police and spreading hatred of the government.

A spokesman for the army, General Athar Abbas, said the militants’ radio broadcasts were difficult to track because they “shifted from one place to another.” The army is trying to get the technology to jam the transmissions but has so far been unable to do so, he said. In a recent briefing of Pakistani journalists, the army said it had acquired a strong transmitter from China but had not yet installed it.

Those kinds of failures, and that none of the top leadership of the Pakistani Taliban have been killed, have prompted sharp criticism of the army from politicians aligned with Zardari. In an interview on television, one such politician, Hasham Baber, a member of the Awami National Party – which controls the North-West Frontier Province – accused the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the army of being allies of the militants.

Even if the United States increases military assistance for fighting the insurgency, it will be difficult to coax a better counterterrorism performance from the Pakistani Army, in part because deep suspicion about U.S. intentions has penetrated it.

Obama said last week that a central goal would be to prevent nuclear-armed Pakistan from destabilizing Afghanistan. By that, he is widely understood to have meant that the jihadists who use the tribal area as a base to attack American troops in Afghanistan, and to sweep down elsewhere in Pakistan, must be conquered.

Some Pakistani strategic planners, however, interpret Obama’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan as a direct threat to Pakistan, and in particular to its nuclear arsenal.

The belief, according to a senior Pakistani military officer, is that additional forces in Afghanistan would spill over into Pakistan.

“Afghanistan is irrelevant,” said the officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The American troops are designed to create a mess in the tribal areas and in Pakistan, and take the nukes.”

Another major irritant in the bilateral relationship that could hamper cooperation from the Pakistani military stems from the decision by the Bush administration to complete a nuclear deal with India, Pakistan’s archenemy. The deal permits civilian nuclear trade between India and the United States, even though India has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

This enhanced relationship was interpreted as a serious snub to Pakistan, said Maleeha Lodhi, who served twice as the Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

“The Indo-U.S. deal,” she said, “signified to the Pakistani military that while Washington saw its ties with Pakistan in tactical terms, the strategic relationship was forged with India.”

To overcome qualms in Pakistan about the United States, Holbrooke is likely to emphasize Washington’s plans for a drastic increase in aid to the country’s educational, health and judicial systems, all areas that the United States has supported in the past, but to little effect because of deep corruption.

In line with legislation for the assistance written by Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. when he was in the Senate, Holbrooke will insist that the flow of aid depends on Pakistan’s determination to act against terrorism.

Pakistanis see that condition, too, as demeaning. “An approach that treats Pakistan from the paradigm of ‘hired help,’ rather than valued ally,” Lodhi wrote in a Pakistani daily paper, The News, “should be unacceptable to Islamabad.”

Capitalism’s Self-inflicted Apocalypse

Capitalism’s Self-inflicted Apocalypse

By Michael Parenti

February 10, 2009 “Information Clearinghouse” — After the overthrow of communist governments in Eastern Europe, capitalism was paraded as the indomitable system that brings prosperity and democracy, the system that would prevail unto the end of history.

The present economic crisis, however, has convinced even some prominent free-marketeers that something is gravely amiss. Truth be told, capitalism has yet to come to terms with several historical forces that cause it endless trouble: democracy, prosperity, and capitalism itself, the very entities that capitalist rulers claim to be fostering.

Plutocracy vs. Democracy

Let us consider democracy first. In the United States we hear that capitalism is wedded to democracy, hence the phrase, “capitalist democracies.” In fact, throughout our history there has been a largely antagonistic relationship between democracy and capital concentration. Some eighty years ago Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis commented, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Moneyed interests have been opponents not proponents of democracy.

The Constitution itself was fashioned by affluent gentlemen who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to repeatedly warn of the baneful and dangerous leveling effects of democracy. The document they cobbled together was far from democratic, being shackled with checks, vetoes, and requirements for artificial super majorities, a system designed to blunt the impact of popular demands.

In the early days of the Republic the rich and well-born imposed property qualifications for voting and officeholding. They opposed the direct election of candidates (note, their Electoral College is still with us). And for decades they resisted extending the franchise to less favored groups such as propertyless working men, immigrants, racial minorities, and women.

Today conservative forces continue to reject more equitable electoral features such as proportional representation, instant runoff, and publicly funded campaigns. They continue to create barriers to voting, be it through overly severe registration requirements, voter roll purges, inadequate polling accommodations, and electronic voting machines that consistently “malfunction” to the benefit of the more conservative candidates.

At times ruling interests have suppressed radical publications and public protests, resorting to police raids, arrests, and jailings—applied most recently with full force against demonstrators in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The conservative plutocracy also seeks to rollback democracy’s social gains, such as public education, affordable housing, health care, collective bargaining, a living wage, safe work conditions, a non-toxic sustainable environment; the right to privacy, the separation of church and state, freedom from compulsory pregnancy, and the right to marry any consenting adult of one’s own choosing.

About a century ago, US labor leader Eugene Victor Debs was thrown into jail during a strike. Sitting in his cell he could not escape the conclusion that in disputes between two private interests, capital and labor, the state was not a neutral arbiter. The force of the state–with its police, militia, courts, and laws—was unequivocally on the side of the company bosses. From this, Debs concluded that capitalism was not just an economic system but an entire social order, one that rigged the rules of democracy to favor the moneybags.

Capitalist rulers continue to pose as the progenitors of democracy even as they subvert it, not only at home but throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Any nation that is not “investor friendly,” that attempts to use its land, labor, capital, natural resources, and markets in a self-developing manner, outside the dominion of transnational corporate hegemony, runs the risk of being demonized and targeted as “a threat to U.S. national security.”

Democracy becomes a problem for corporate America not when it fails to work but when it works too well, helping the populace move toward a more equitable and livable social order, narrowing the gap, however modestly, between the superrich and the rest of us. So democracy must be diluted and subverted, smothered with disinformation, media puffery, and mountains of campaign costs; with rigged electoral contests and partially disfranchised publics, bringing faux victories to more or less politically safe major-party candidates.

Capitalism vs. Prosperity

The corporate capitalists no more encourage prosperity than do they propagate democracy. Most of the world is capitalist, and most of the world is neither prosperous nor particularly democratic. One need only think of capitalist Nigeria, capitalist Indonesia, capitalist Thailand, capitalist Haiti, capitalist Colombia, capitalist Pakistan, capitalist South Africa, capitalist Latvia, and various other members of the Free World–more accurately, the Free Market World.

A prosperous, politically literate populace with high expectations about its standard of living and a keen sense of entitlement, pushing for continually better social conditions, is not the plutocracy’s notion of an ideal workforce and a properly pliant polity. Corporate investors prefer poor populations. The poorer you are, the harder you will work—for less. The poorer you are, the less equipped you are to defend yourself against the abuses of wealth.

In the corporate world of “free-trade,” the number of billionaires is increasing faster than ever while the number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. Poverty spreads as wealth accumulates.

Consider the United States. In the last eight years alone, while vast fortunes accrued at record rates, an additional six million Americans sank below the poverty level; median family income declined by over $2,000; consumer debt more than doubled; over seven million Americans lost their health insurance, and more than four million lost their pensions; meanwhile homelessness increased and housing foreclosures reached pandemic levels.

It is only in countries where capitalism has been reined in to some degree by social democracy that the populace has been able to secure a measure of prosperity; northern European nations such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark come to mind. But even in these social democracies popular gains are always at risk of being rolled back.

It is ironic to credit capitalism with the genius of economic prosperity when most attempts at material betterment have been vehemently and sometimes violently resisted by the capitalist class. The history of labor struggle provides endless illustration of this.

To the extent that life is bearable under the present U.S. economic order, it is because millions of people have waged bitter class struggles to advance their living standards and their rights as citizens, bringing some measure of humanity to an otherwise heartless politico-economic order.

A Self-devouring Beast

The capitalist state has two roles long recognized by political thinkers. First, like any state it must provide services that cannot be reliably developed through private means, such as public safety and orderly traffic. Second, the capitalist state protects the haves from the have-nots, securing the process of capital accumulation to benefit the moneyed interests, while heavily circumscribing the demands of the working populace, as Debs observed from his jail cell.

There is a third function of the capitalist state seldom mentioned. It consists of preventing the capitalist system from devouring itself. Consider the core contradiction Karl Marx pointed to: the tendency toward overproduction and market crisis. An economy dedicated to speedups and wage cuts, to making workers produce more and more for less and less, is always in danger of a crash. To maximize profits, wages must be kept down. But someone has to buy the goods and services being produced. For that, wages must be kept up. There is a chronic tendency—as we are seeing today—toward overproduction of private sector goods and services and underconsumption of necessities by the working populace.

In addition, there is the frequently overlooked self-destruction created by the moneyed players themselves. If left completely unsupervised, the more active command component of the financial system begins to devour less organized sources of wealth.

Instead of trying to make money by the arduous task of producing and marketing goods and services, the marauders tap directly into the money streams of the economy itself. During the 1990s we witnessed the collapse of an entire economy in Argentina when unchecked free marketeers stripped enterprises, pocketed vast sums, and left the country’s productive capacity in shambles. The Argentine state, gorged on a heavy diet of free-market ideology, faltered in its function of saving capitalism from the capitalists.

Some years later, in the United States, came the multi-billion-dollar plunder perpetrated by corporate conspirators at Enron, WorldCom, Harkin, Adelphia, and a dozen other major companies. Inside players like Ken Lay turned successful corporate enterprises into sheer wreckage, wiping out the jobs and life savings of thousands of employees in order to pocket billions.

These thieves were caught and convicted. Does that not show capitalism’s self-correcting capacity? Not really. The prosecution of such malfeasance— in any case coming too late—was a product of democracy’s accountability and transparency, not capitalism’s. Of itself the free market is an amoral system, with no strictures save caveat emptor.

In the meltdown of 2008-09 the mounting financial surplus created a problem for the moneyed class: there were not enough opportunities to invest. With more money than they knew what to do with, big investors poured immense sums into nonexistent housing markets and other dodgy ventures, a legerdemain of hedge funds, derivatives, high leveraging, credit default swaps, predatory lending, and whatever else.

Among the victims were other capitalists, small investors, and the many workers who lost billions of dollars in savings and pensions. Perhaps the premiere brigand was Bernard Madoff. Described as “a longstanding leader in the financial services industry,” Madoff ran a fraudulent fund that raked in $50 billion from wealthy investors, paying them back “with money that wasn’t there,” as he himself put it. The plutocracy devours its own children.

In the midst of the meltdown, at an October 2008 congressional hearing, former chair of the Federal Reserve and orthodox free-market devotee Alan Greenspan confessed that he had been mistaken to expect moneyed interests–groaning under an immense accumulation of capital that needs to be invested somewhere–to suddenly exercise self-restraint.

The classic laissez-faire theory is even more preposterous than Greenspan made it. In fact, the theory claims that everyone should pursue their own selfish interests without restraint. This unbridled competition supposedly will produce maximum benefits for all because the free market is governed by a miraculously benign “invisible hand” that optimizes collective outputs. (“Greed is good.”)

Is the crisis of 2008-09 caused by a chronic tendency toward overproduction and hyper-financial accumulation, as Marx would have it? Or is it the outcome of the personal avarice of people like Bernard Madoff? In other words, is the problem systemic or individual? In fact, the two are not mutually exclusive. Capitalism breeds the venal perpetrators, and rewards the most unscrupulous among them. The crimes and crises are not irrational departures from a rational system, but the converse: they are the rational outcomes of a basically irrational and amoral system.

Worse still, the ensuing multi-billion dollar government bailouts are themselves being turned into an opportunity for pillage. Not only does the state fail to regulate, it becomes itself a source of plunder, pulling vast sums from the federal money machine, leaving the taxpayers to bleed.

Those who scold us for “running to the government for a handout” are themselves running to the government for a handout. Corporate America has always enjoyed grants-in-aid, loan guarantees, and other state and federal subventions. But the 2008-09 “rescue operation” offered a record feed at the public trough. More than $350 billion was dished out by a right-wing lame-duck Secretary of the Treasury to the biggest banks and financial houses without oversight–not to mention the more than $4 trillion that has come from the Federal Reserve. Most of the banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York Mellon, stated that they had no intention of letting anyone know where the money was going.

The big bankers used some of the bailout, we do know, to buy up smaller banks and prop up banks overseas. CEOs and other top banking executives are spending bailout funds on fabulous bonuses and lavish corporate spa retreats. Meanwhile, big bailout beneficiaries like Citigroup and Bank of America laid off tens of thousands of employees, inviting the question: why were they given all that money in the first place?

While hundreds of billions were being doled out to the very people who had caused the catastrophe, the housing market continued to wilt, credit remained paralyzed, unemployment worsened, and consumer spending sank to record lows.

In sum, free-market corporate capitalism is by its nature a disaster waiting to happen. Its essence is the transformation of living nature into mountains of commodities and commodities into heaps of dead capital. When left entirely to its own devices, capitalism foists its diseconomies and toxicity upon the general public and upon the natural environment–and eventually begins to devour itself.

The immense inequality in economic power that exists in our capitalist society translates into a formidable inequality of political power, which makes it all the more difficult to impose democratic regulations.

If the paladins of Corporate America want to know what really threatens “our way of life,” it is their way of life, their boundless way of pilfering their own system, destroying the very foundation on which they stand, the very community on which they so lavishly feed.

Michael Parenti received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, in the United States and abroad. He is the author of twenty books: Please visit his website http://michaelparenti.org

Copyright © 2008 Michael Parenti. All rights reserved.

Pakistan police nab ‘Indian spies’

Pakistan police nab ‘Indian spies’
Tue, 10 Feb 2009 19:26:46 GMT

Pakistani police arrests eight allegedly Indian spies planning to attack installations and politicians across the violence-wracked country.

The arrests were made in Abbotabad, Mirpur and Rahimyar Khan cities in Panjab and Sindh provinces , a Press TV correspondent reported.

The police sources claimed the suspected spies were working for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RA&W) spy agency.

The suspected spies were traced through mobile phones, according to Pakistan intelligence agencies.

While suspected RAW agents, Muhammad Sharif, Ghulam Mahmood and Mir Abdul Ghafoor were captured from Abbotabad, others namely Fida Hussain, Abdul Saboor and Abdul Sattar were arrested in Rahimyar Khan.

Police also have recovered important documents, maps and fake ID’s from them, intelligence sources said.

Tension has been running high between the two nuclear-armed countries since the coordinated attacks in India’s financial hub, raising fear of conflict between the neighbors which have fought three wars since 1947.

India has blamed the Pakistan-based militants and security agencies for the attacks on Mumbai, in which 179 people were killed, including nine militants.

Pakistan has denied any involvement in the attacks and offered to cooperate in the investigation.

Poll: 31% of Europeans blame Jews for global financial crisis

Poll: 31% of Europeans blame Jews for global financial crisis

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspsondent, and Haaretz Service
Tags: jewish world, anti-semitism
A recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic attitudes in seven European countries have worsened due to the global financial crisis and Israel’s military actions against the Palestinians.

Some 31 percent of adults polled blame Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown, while 58 percent of respondents admitted that their opinion of Jews has worsened due to their criticism of Israel.

The ADL, a Jewish-American organization polled 3,500 adults – 500 each in Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – between December 1, 2008 and January 13, 2009. According to the survey, 40 percent of polled Europeans believe that Jews have an over-abundance of power in the business world. More than half of the respondents in Hungary, Spain and Poland agreed with this statement. These numbers were 7 percent higher in Hungary, 6 percent higher in Poland and 5 percent higher in France than those recorded in the ADL’s 2007 survey.

Nearly half of the respondents in each of the countries said that Jews were more loyal to Israel than to their home country. Twenty-three percent said that their opinion of Jews was influenced by Israel’s military and political activities.

Another 44 percent of respondents said it was “probably true” that Jews reference the Holocaust too much, while 23% said that they still blame Jews for the death of Jesus.

“This poll confirms that anti-Semitism remains alive and well in the minds of many Europeans,” said Abe Foxman, the National Director of Anti-Defamation League. “In the wake of the global financial crisis, the strong belief of excessive Jewish influence on business and finance is especially worrisome.”

Late last year, the ADL reported a major upsurge in the number of anti-Semitic postings on the Internet relating to the financial crisis engulfing the United States.

The Jewish-American organization cited hundreds of posts regarding the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers and other institutions affected by the subprime mortgage crisis.

The messages railed against Jews in general, with some charging that Jews control the U.S. government and finance as part of a “Jew world order” and therefore are to blame for the economic turmoil.

The arrest of Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who allegedly swindled $50 billion from investors, prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites, according to the ADL.

The ADL said some of the posts on the highly trafficked sites spread conspiracy theories about Jews stealing money to benefit Israel and suggest that, “Only Jews could perpetrate a fraud on such a scale.”

These and other anti-Jewish tropes about Jews and money have appeared on popular blogs devoted to finance, in comment sections of mainstream news outlets and in banter among users of Internet discussion groups, according to the ADL.

“Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites,” Foxman said last year, following news of the Internet hate messages.

Elite Engineered Recession

Elite Engineered Recession

Andrew Winkler

barky_dees

For the past 12 months at keast, there has been an unprecedented scare campaign by elitists and their brownie points addicted puppets, warning us of an imminent recession, bigger and better than the ‘Great Depression’. The latest two installments were the ‘monthly 500 million US job losses’ Freudian of Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi[1],  who left quite an impression, and the dire ‘worst recession in 100 years’ warning of UK minister Ed Balls.[2]

Their behavior is remarkable since in all previous recessions our leaders did their utmost to downplay the economic downturn, in an effort to improve consumer confidence. The immediate question flowing from this observation is why this time there is a concerted effort of leading politicians, industrial bosses and media – mainstream and alternative alike – to talk down the economy and create nothing short of panic? And the most important question of all: Who benefits from all the economic scaremongering?

The answer is fairly obvious: the same people who benefit from the ‘Islamic Terror’ scaremongering, those 500+ obscenely rich, intermarried crime families who rule our world in a feudal system cleverly disguised as democracy. One of the easiest ways of manipulating us to accept their ‘solutions’ is by scaring us with whatever scarecrow works, be it Communism, neo-Nazis, AIDS, Muslim extremism, school shootings, global warming, bird flu, economic meltdown you name it. And every of those ‘solutions’ brings us more taxes and less freedom.

Those in the know either prostitute themselves to this self-chosen ‘ruling elite’ or are too busy making ends meet to do anything about it. The few of us who aren’t, rely on the Internet to spread the word. Which brings me to the reason why I doubt that all that doom and gloom is for real. If those scary predictions became reality, too many people would have time and motivation to investigate what’s really happening. With nothing to loose but their illusions, they would have no reason to keep avoiding looking behind the smoke and mirror.

Our ruling crime families must walk a fine line between scaring us enough to more easily manipulate us and not making life unbearable for too many of us, or their entire Matrix-like virtual reality might collapse.

We should also bear in mind that the difference between boom and recession is only a few percentage points in economic activity. Even during the ‘Great Depression’ in the 1930′s, economic activity was only down by about 5 percent. Such tiny differences can easily be manipulated by higher or lower interest rates as well as increased or decreased public and corporate spending. I strongly suggest that we have a look at who has engineered the current economic downturn and send them lawn-mowing in Mongolia for the rest of their lifes.

Footnotes:
[1] The Guardian
[2] The Independent

Andrew Winkler is the founder and editor/publisher of dissident blog ZioPedia.org and independent news site RebelNews.org. You can read more of his writings in the editorial section of ZioPedia.org. Andrew can be contacted on
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Source: ZioPedia.org