This link takes you to the corrected post. This one had lay-out problems and I didn’t want to leave you with a broken link
This link takes you to the corrected post. This one had lay-out problems and I didn’t want to leave you with a broken link
Alexander J. Motyl
The first thing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich did after his February 25 inauguration was delete the link to the Holodomor on the president’s official Web site. Yanukovich’s predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, had made the Holodomor—the famine of 1932–33 produced by Joseph Stalin and responsible for the deaths of millions of Ukrainian peasants—into a national issue, promoting what Czech novelist Milan Kundera famously called “the struggle of memory over forgetting” as part of his attempt to move the country toward democracy. That Yanukovich turned his back so dramatically on this movement to rehabilitate Ukraine’s tragic past indicated the extent to which the recent election was as much about identity as it was about politics.
This was no accident. Thanks to the 2004 Orange Revolution, Ukrainian national identity has become synonymous with democracy and the West. And thanks to Vladimir Putin’s construction of a newly assertive Russian state, Russian identity has unfortunately become associated, as in Soviet times, with authoritarianism and empire. Yanukovich’s Party of Regions has its electoral base in Ukraine’s southeastern rust belt, the Donbas; the region produced, and is still proud of, both Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev and Stalin’s favorite proletarian, the coal miner extraordinaire Aleksei Stakhanov. It names its streets after Stalinists, displays statues of the Soviet dictator, and retains its Soviet-era identity as a Russian-speaking enclave with an authoritarian political culture. When president-elect Yanukovich decided to turn back the clock on Yushchenko’s Ukraine and reestablish its role as a client of Moscow, it was natural that he should begin by shutting down discussion of what historian Robert Conquest called Stalin’s “terror famine.”
Yanukovich’s assault on Ukrainian identity, newly resurgent following the Orange Revolution, has focused on education, culture, language, and history. Various policy measures have already begun to squeeze the authentically Ukrainian out of public life, education, and media. University rectors have been co-opted into supporting the new, Russocentric regime, while the only two holdouts—from the pro-Western Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and the Mohyla Academy in Kiev—have come under pressure from the authorities. But the central target of the regime’s rollback of Ukrainian identity is history. As Yanukovich well knows, all new nations develop identities based on their understanding of history. Foundation myths, heroes, villains, defeats, and victories are identified—and sometimes invented—so as to create “narratives” that have implications for contemporary political movements. Americans glorify the Founding Fathers, while the French lionize their first revolution. Germans moved from sanctifying Otto von Bismarck to admiring Konrad Adenauer after the catastrophe of the Third Reich. So, too, have Ukrainians in the last twenty years been developing a distinctly Ukrainian historical narrative as part of their slow-motion embrace of democracy and the West.
Any attempt to construct a distinctly Ukrainian identity must inevitably address the recent past. Ukraine today remains largely a product of the terror, violence, war, and genocide of Russian czars, Soviet Communists, and German Nazis. A 2008 study by the Moscow-based Institute of Demography calculated that Ukraine suffered close to 15 million “excess deaths” from 1914 to 1948: 1.3 million during World War I; 2.3 million during the Russian Civil War and the Polish-Soviet War of the early 1920s; 4 million during the Holodomor; 300,000 during the Great Terror and annexation of western Ukraine; 6.5 million during World War II; and 400,000 during the postwar famine and Stalin’s campaign against Ukrainian nationalism.
According to Yale University historian Timothy Snyder, “The peoples of Ukraine and Belarus, Jews above all but not only, suffered the most, since these lands were both part of the Soviet Union during the terrible 1930s and subject to the worst of the German repressions in the 1940s. If Europe was, as [Columbia University historian] Mark Mazower put it, a dark continent, Ukraine and Belarus were the heart of darkness.” That darkness continued until Stalin’s death in 1953. Although everyday violence disappeared and the death camps were disbanded, totalitarianism as a system of pervasive, oppressive rule stayed intact for three more decades, surviving long enough to mold a new type of human being. What Soviet propaganda called “the new Soviet man” is precisely the voter who supports Yanukovich and Putin, yearns for the good old days of Soviet greatness and cheap vodka, overlooks Stalin’s crimes against humanity, and cannot imagine Ukraine as having an identity different, or separate, from Russia’s.
As the excess deaths suggest, however, the Holodomor’s “murder by starvation” remains the single greatest catastrophe endured by Ukraine during Soviet rule. Any attempt to reconstruct a national Ukrainian narrative must take a stand on a trauma of such proportions—especially since all Soviet historians, propagandists, and officials assiduously ignored the famine or dismissed it as an émigré delusion for decades. Unsurprisingly, the first Ukrainians to draw attention to the tragedy of the Holodomor were survivors who had fled to the West. In the mid-1950s, they compiled two major volumes of survivor testimony and other documentary materials called The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book. They were dismissed as rabid anti-Communists and cold warriors by much of the Western political and intellectual establishment. They continued their efforts in the decades that followed, but with very little resonance outside their own immediate émigré communities.
Things began changing by the early 1980s. Soviet studies had discovered the “nationality question,” and academic research increasingly shifted to the USSR’s non-Russian republics, including Ukraine. At the same time, “revisionist” social historians were reassessing Stalin and investigating the origins of Stalinism in the early 1930s. As the fiftieth anniversary of the famine in 1983 approached, it became impossible for Western scholars not to recognize the tragedy. Some continued to view it as the consequence of Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization of the peasantry. Others insisted that it was not just a by-product of agricultural policy gone haywire, but a conscious political act that had to be viewed in the context of Stalin’s vicious crackdown on Ukrainian national identity.
In 1986, the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University published Robert Conquest’s pathbreaking The Harvest of Sorrow, the first systematic scholarly study of the Holodomor as a weapon of Stalin’s terror. In 1988, the American historian James Mace, who explicitly argued that the famine was an anti-Ukrainian measure, compiled three volumes of documentation and testimony in the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine, a report delivered to Congress. Conquest and Mace were denounced as anti-Communists, but this effort to marginalize their work was subverted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost policy, which exposed many black holes in Soviet history to scrutiny not only by Russians but also by Ukrainians and other non-Russians. Once Soviet historians began examining the horrors of the Soviet past and concluding that Stalin was a monster, the famine could no longer be claimed to be a conspiracy of Western anti-Communists and disgruntled Ukrainian émigrés.
Following Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the quest for a distinctly Ukrainian historical narrative and identity took on a new urgency, especially as Ukraine became open to Western intellectual debates and testimony by the remnants of the generation that had survived the famine. As the number of books and articles published in Ukraine about the Holodomor grew exponentially, it became an established historical reality: today almost no one denies that a terrible human tragedy took place and that millions died. But while the issue of whether or not the Holodomor happened was settled, the question of why it happened developed into an even more contentious issue argued by two opposing camps. Following in the footsteps of James Mace (who settled in Kiev, where he continued to write about the Holodomor until his untimely death in 2004), Ukrainian national democrats generally argued that the famine was a genocide. Their pro-Soviet, pro-Russian, and anti-democratic opponents, most of whom eventually grouped around Yanukovich and the Party of Regions, rejected this claim and the idea that the famine had been explicitly anti-Ukrainian in favor of the more anodyne view that, as Yanukovich’s minister of education and science, Dmytro Tabachnyk, succinctly put it, “the Holodomor of 1933 was a general tragedy of the peoples of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.”
Reflecting the time lag between Ukrainian and Western intellectual currents, Ukrainians began debating the Holodomor-as-genocide thesis just as Western scholars were moving to accept it. A recently discovered 1953 speech by Raphael Lemkin, the Jewish-Polish scholar who coined the term genocide, contributed to the shift in the debate; Stalin’s famine, he said, was “not simply a case of mass murder” but “a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation.” According to Lemkin, the Ukrainian genocide consisted of four components: “The first blow [was] aimed at the intelligentsia, the national brain, so as to paralyze the rest of the body.” The second was “an offensive against the churches, priests, and hierarchy, the ‘soul’ of Ukraine. . . . The third prong of the Soviet plan was aimed at the farmers, the large mass of independent peasants who are the repository of the tradition, folk lore and music, the national language and literature, the national spirit, of Ukraine. The weapon used against this body is perhaps the most terrible of all, starvation. . . . The fourth step in the process consisted in the fragmentation of the Ukrainian people . . . by the addition to the Ukraine of foreign peoples and by the dispersion of the Ukrainians throughout Eastern Europe.”
Just as the earlier debates in the West over the famine had been politicized, pitting “anti-Communists” against their critics, so too did the debate over the Holodomor-as-genocide thesis in Ukraine become profoundly political. First, it challenged the nature of Soviet reality. Second, it became the centerpiece of Yushchenko’s nation-building project after the Orange Revolution. And third, it undermined Russia’s hegemony over Ukraine.
On the first point, if the national democrats were right to say that the Holodomor was genocide, then Stalin, Communism, and the Soviet Union were to blame, and the construction of a democratic and pro-Western Ukrainian identity must necessarily entail rejection of all three as comparable in their evil to Hitler and Nazi Germany. So the opponents of the national democrats, whose identity remained pro-Stalinist, pro-Russian, and pro-Soviet, were bound to struggle against such an interpretation. Their battle was fought not only in large abstract arguments but in small linguistic skirmishes. While national democrats began referring to the war against Hitler as “World War II,” the Yanukovich camp stuck to the Soviet term, “The Great Fatherland War,” with the “Fatherland” being the Soviet Union, and not Ukraine. Since the debate also reflected popularly held attitudes—according to a 2009 InterMedia survey, eighty-three percent of Ukrainians in the west, fifty-eight in the center, twenty-eight in the south, and fifteen in the east accept the genocide thesis—the Holodomor quickly became the main focus of efforts by both national democrats and their opponents to mobilize voters in the recent elections.
Complicating the issue was the fact that Yushchenko had made the Holodomor-as-genocide thesis a central tenet of his nation-building efforts, which mostly consisted of affirmative-action programs for promoting Ukrainian as the country’s constitutionally recognized state language, in public education and the thoroughly Russified media. Yushchenko supported the construction of Holodomor monuments throughout Ukraine, introduced the Holodomor into school textbooks, founded the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory to research the Holodomor, built the Holodomor Memorial (down the street from Kiev’s ancient Monastery of the Caves and the Soviet-era complex celebrating the “Great Fatherland War”), initiated a series of celebrations to coincide with the famine’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 2008, and sought international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide. Fourteen countries agreed, while the European Parliament stopped short, calling it a crime against humanity.
As the political tussle between Yushchenko and Yanukovich heightened, especially in the run-up to the presidential election of 2010, opposition to Yushchenko translated into opposition to his nation-building project. Besides promoting awareness of the horrors of the Holodomor, that project consisted of several other important historical dimensions. The first was the claim that Ukrainian history included the history of the state of Kievan Rus, which one thousand years ago was one of Europe’s largest and most powerful polities. The second was the rehabilitation of Ivan Mazepa, the Cossack hetman (or leader) whose desire for greater independence from Russia led him to join Sweden’s Charles XII against Peter the Great in the disastrous Battle of Poltava in 1709. The third was the reassessment of three controversial leaders of Ukraine’s anti-Soviet national liberation struggles during the twentieth century: Symon Petliura, Roman Shukhevych, and Stepan Bandera. Petliura was a democratic socialist and lifelong philo-Semite who happened to head a thoroughly ineffective government in 1918 and 1919, at just the time that terrible pogroms swept the country. Shukhevych and Bandera were both leaders of the interwar Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a radical nationalist movement—similar in structure, tactics, and ideology to the Algerian National Liberation Front, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Jewish Irgun—that first tried to carve out an independent Ukrainian state with the help of Nazi Germany and then, after Berlin cracked down in 1941, conducted a hopeless struggle against both the Germans and the Soviets.
National democrats argued that Ukrainians could not have a history and an identity if they did not look for their roots in the distant past and come to terms with events and individuals demonized by Russian imperial historiography and Soviet propaganda. Supporters of the Party of Regions and the Communists rejected the whole package of proposed changes, insisting that Mazepa, Petliura, Shukhevych, and Bandera were unmitigated “enemies of the people,” “fascists,” and “traitors,” and that the Holodomor was a generalized human tragedy. When the Ukrainian parliament voted in November 2006 to declare the Holodomor genocide, the votes split predictably: the national democrats voted for the motion, while the Party of Regions and the Communists voted against it.
History and historical interpretation entered the contemporary political dialogue. Yushchenko’s opponents understood that in attempting to rewrite Soviet and Russian versions of Ukrainian history, rehabilitate those who had traditionally been seen as proto-fascist, and carve out a distinct Ukrainian identity rooted in a democratic and pro-Western political culture, the president was effectively challenging Soviet and Russian identity as well as Russian claims to political hegemony over Ukraine. As the Kremlin’s unofficial Ukraine spokesman, Konstantin Zatulin, noted with alarm in 2010, “A significant portion of Ukraine’s citizens has accepted nationalist clichés. These people quite sincerely believe that Ukraine should have a language, history, and heroes that are necessarily separate from Russia’s.” Russian policymakers were fully aware of the ideological and political implications of what Yushchenko and the national democrats were up to. Putin expressed alarm and the Russian Duma passed a resolution in 2006 denying that the famine was genocide. Russian historians were mobilized to produce textbooks emphasizing Ukraine’s common history with Russia and to deny the Holodomor’s Ukrainian specificity, and the Kremlin began funneling substantial sums of money to its supporters and intelligence operatives in Ukraine.
It made perfect sense for Yanukovich to delete the Holodomor from the presidential Web site in his first act as president: it was a silent gesture, signifying to both the Kremlin and his own countrymen that his Ukraine, unlike Yushchenko’s, would adopt pro-Soviet and pro-Russian stances. The next logical step was for Yanukovich to inform the world of his intentions. While attending an April 26 meeting in Brussels of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, he stated that “it would be wrong and unfair to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against one nation.” One day later, at a press conference in Strasbourg, he gave an authoritarian definition of democracy as “order.” Once those discursive adjustments had been made, the door was open for Yanukovich and Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev—who had pointedly refused to attend the national seventy-fifth anniversary observances of the Holodomor in 2008—to visit the Holodomor Memorial in Kiev on May 17. They were now commemorating an act of God, not an intentional genocide.
The Yanukovich regime has also signaled that it regards genocide discourse as a political act. The minister of education and science has already announced that he intends to purge history textbooks of “delirious hyperbolization” about the Holodomor. The minister of humanitarian affairs has ominously suggested that the Institute of Historical Memory may need to undergo official review. In turn, the newly appointed director of the institute, a Communist sympathizer from the Donbas, has publicly stated that the famine was the “the result of difficult circumstances” and intends to promote “a national memory” that “unites” Ukrainians. The head of Ukraine’s Security Service has closed the secret police archives, while another leading official has stated that “people know all they need to know.” The Holodomor has thereby been transformed into a touchstone of political loyalty and a code for what is permissible in talking about the Yanukovich regime. To maintain that the famine was genocide or an anti-Ukrainian crime is effectively to engage in dissent and declare one’s political opposition to Yanukovich. And in Yanukovich’s Ukraine, as in Putin’s Russia, dissent is risky business.
Alexander J. Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers University–Newark.
The RSS hit back this week by accusing Sonia Meino and ManMohan Singh of being foreign controlled spies. Lovely jovley…lots of gossip flying, but is it all true?
The RSS is a Fascist outfit, and I have always thought was terrorist in belief. They killed Gandhi. They initiate riots which kill people. They initiate attacks in groups against public figures they don’t agree with……what more prima facie evidence do you require? Since the 1990′s, and their political rise via their front the BJP, there has been a simultaneous rise in so called “Islamic Terrorism” in India. Beyond Kashmir I happen to think that most of that is by them through their networks in India.
Congresses accusations are thus extremely valid and important in ultimately buffeting India’s security scenario holistically. Congress doesn’t want to be held hostage to RSS terrorism which wrongly blames Pakistan, which fundamentally affects Indian foreign policy………and where the Congress government post Mumbai recently had to do heavy duty lifting work to extricate itself from another unnecessary war with Pakistan, with all the slippery slopes of circumstances involved, and voters queuing to the BJP subsequently benefiting.
You don’t need boys in shorts marching up and down the street, with sticks to do “Charity work”……their favorite byline. Marching groups of people up and down the street is an expression of overt aggression, of militarism…….not charity.
On the other hand is Congress run by foreign owned spies……rather unfortunate, that such a serious and important accusation had to be made as a mere tit for tat against Congress raising the issue of RSS linked terrorism.
To ordinary plebs in India this looks like another round of political seasonal mud slinging; therefore best to be shrugged off, ignored and continue reading the cricketing and Bollywood columns. That would indeed be a shame.
I think both accusations are true, and therefore rather serious matters for India. I have hinted at them. Certainly in relation to Congress, it would not be a new phenomenon. KGB/Mitrokin Archivesand other sources suggest that Congress has been variously owned by foreign entities for quite a while. This would explain their poor performance in running India effectively. Between the 1960′s to the late 1980′s many Congress officials worked for the KGB. One presumes that influence has now been replaced by the USA, since especially 1991. So it would not be a surprise to find Sonia and ManMohan Singh working for the USA, as a prominent journalist hinted from India no less recently and cryptically.
You never know if we dig far enough we may even find that Jinnah certainly and Nehru maybe were both British agents???!!!
Let me get this straight.
The RSS birthed the BJP front, which since the 1990′s has drawn India closer to Israel, and the USA. Since the 1990′s LO……..”Islamic terrorism” in India has also increased especially in once Jewish Mumbai. David Headley is an American agent, and many like me suspect the terrorism in Mumbai is the work of the RSS working with Mossad and the USA. On the other hand the Israelis and Americans also have influence in the Congress Party through Sonia and ManMohan Singh.
Then is it not the case of the Pot calling the kettle black.
OK OK on a rational balance of significance, if your serving PM and the Party President are both foreign spies then that is more of a serious security threat than if a few RSS functionaries worked with foreign entities in creating terrorism within India.
Here is an interesting post….have a read. It sort of goes every where.
On 11 November 2010, we learn more about alleged CIA control of top people in India.
K S Sudarshan, former leader of the Hindu nationalist RSS organisation, says that Sonia Gandhi works for the CIA.
Prime Minister Singh
And some people believe that both prime minister Manmohan Singhand Sonia Gandhi Are CIA Agents of Usa
Sonia Gandhi, ‘born in Italy as Edvige Antonia Albina Maino’, is President of India’s Congress Party.
She is the widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
In 2004, she was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
In 2008 her party appointed Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.
While talking with the media, K S Sudarshan accused Sonia Gandhi of plotting the assassinations of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his mother Indira Gandhi .
Sudarshan claimed that Rajiv Gandhi had some doubts about Sonia and was thinking of separation.
In 2005, there was a report of more alleged CIA activity relating to India.
According to “IntelliBriefs: Brijesh Mishra a CIA agent?“ :
On 27 September 2001, Rahul Gandhi MP and his Columbian live in girl friend, Juanita alias Veronique, were arrested in United States of America’s Logan airport in Boston, by the FBI.
Rahul had an Italian passport and was carrying suitcase full of dollars.
Rahul called his mother Sonia Gandhi in India.
Sonia called Brijesh Mishra, the former National Security Advisor.
Rahul was released.
Brijesh Mishra has connections with Sonia Gandhi’s Italian family through his daughter Jyotsna.
Brijesh Mishra holds a meeting with Tony Blair’s Jewish security adviser Sir David Manning in New Delhi on July 10, 2002. Manning was in New York on 9 11 and saw the Twin Towers attacked.
Sonia Gandhi first declared her birth date as 1944 and birth place as Luciana.
This was confirmed by the Italian embassy.
Sonia Gandhi’s name was Antonia Maino as per her birth certificate certificate.
Antonia Maino’s father, who was a mason and a fascist, Signor Stefano Maino, was a prisoner-of-war in Russia from 1942 till Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1945.
Stefano Maino cannot be the father of Antonia Maino.
Sonia’s date of birth and place of birth had to be changed to cover up this fact.
Her new date of birth became December 9, 1946, and her place of birth became Orbassano. (“IntelliBriefs: Brijesh Mishra a CIA agent?“)
Rabinder Singh was a CIA spy within India’s secret service (RAW).
From February to May 2004, Brijesh Mishra refused to authorize the arrest of Rabinder Singh.
Rabinder Singh was able to escape to the USA in mid May 2004.(“IntelliBriefs: Brijesh Mishra a CIA agent?“)
The late Rajiv Gandhi, while prime minister, (Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi Are the CIA Agents of Usa) ”stopped even the re-fuelling of American warplanes in Mumbai during the first Iraq War.”
Reportedly, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the CIA, Mossad and their friends.
“The inner circle of the Indian RAW … were on the Mossad payroll.”(Mossad in Sri Lanka Wake Up From Your Slumber)
Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, ‘was killed in 1991 by the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers’, who were said to be friends of the CIA and Mossad.
Justice Jain investigated the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi.
Justice Jain came across evidence that one suspect known as Chandraswami had links with the CIA and Mossad, and through them with the LTTE (Tamil tigers).
Justice Jain ‘seems convinced’ that Chandraswami was involved.
According to Asia Times:
Justice Jain ’has linked Chandraswami with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in which arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi, several terrorist groups, and intelligence outfits like the CIA and Mossad had accounts.
‘The money in it was used for terrorist operations and political assassinations. The report is quoted as saying that $4 million of Mr Kashoggi’s money was transferred to the LTTE’s accounts.Justice Jain had said this on the basis of a 130-page document prepared by US Senator John Kiri.
‘The commission quotes evidence of former cabinet secretary Zafar Saiffullah who said Chandraswami had links with Mossad and the CIA, and that the government had received intercepts ofwireless communication between Israel (where Mossad is based) and Jaffna (where the LTTE was operating till recently) which established Chandraswami’s involvement…
‘Money transactions in Chandraswami’s name and his links with international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and the now defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) have made the commission point an accusing finger…’
A number of Ukrainian services and departments are conducting numerous studies to establish “areas that could be used for agriculture, some partially and some in full,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted acting head of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry Mykhailo Bolotskykh, as saying.
An explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 resulted in highly radioactive fallout in the atmosphere over an extensive area. A 30-kilometer (19-mile) exclusion zone was introduced following the accident.
Vast areas, mainly in the three then-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, were contaminated by the fallout from the major nuclear meltdown. Some 200,000 people were relocated after the accident.
The agriculture revival plan, initiated by the European Union, proposes cultivating rapeseed, also known as canola oil and widely seen as the most popular primary product to produce biodiesel, in the contaminated area.
Similar plans have earlier been voiced by Belarus, another country severely affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
“This crop has great potential, with the European Union, the U.A.E., Turkey and Pakistan expressing their readiness to buy it from Ukraine. This is really profitable,” a source close to the Ukrainian government told the newspaper.
Ukraine is currently among Europe’s largest rapeseed producers.
“The problem is that rapeseed depletes the soil. It may be grown only as part of a five-year crop rotation cycle. Or, it may be grown on lands which have no agricultural importance,” he said.
The government did not comment on the information.
The paper quotes an expert as saying that scientists have developed mechanisms of rehabilitating nuclear-polluted soil, which include growing certain crops and combining various types of fertilizers.
“Experiments show that… areas where rehabilitation measures were conducted can produce crops with almost normal radionuclide levels, hundreds of times lower than those where such measures were not taken,” the unnamed scientist told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
But many experts say that any attempt to cultivate crops in Chernobyl is “simply a crime,” saying that many dangerous isotopes buried in soil could be released back into the air and water when the polluted soil is ploughed.
“It is simply a crime – increasing air and water pollution by turning over polluted soil,” a former official with the country’s radiation and ecology watchdog said.
The plan is expected to be officially announced in March 2011, shortly before the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
Source: RIA Novosti
The Taliban took credit for a deadly suicide assault on a police headquarters in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi today. Eighteen people were killed in the attack and more than 100 were wounded.
A Taliban assault team attacked the Crime Investigation Department headquarters in a secured area of Karachi. Taliban fighters armed with assault rifles attacked the building and battled with police before a massive truck bomb was detonated inside the CID compound. The truck bomb, which is estimated to have carried more than 2,000 pounds of explosives, destroyed the building.
Police have confirmed that 18 people have been killed and 115 have been wounded. The death toll may rise as others may be trapped in the rubble of the building.
In a telephone call to news organizations, Azam Tariq, spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said: “We will continue such attacks as long as military operations continue against us.”
While the specific reasons for today’s attack in Karachi attack are not known, the Taliban may have been trying to free a senior commander, a local Taliban leader, and several allied Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters who are thought to have been in custody at the CID building. On Nov. 3, police arrested a Taliban commander named Yousuf, who is also known as Qari. Yousuf was described as “a senior member of the TTP [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] and was in contact with the top leadership of the banned outfit.” He is said to have planned a suicide attack on a police training center in Mingora earlier this year, and is thought to have been plotting to carry out attacks in Karachi.
Also, yesterday, police arrested six Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters from the Asif Ramzi group and a Taliban commander known as Iqbal. The Taliban leader is said to be a “a close aide” to Faqir Mohammad, the Taliban’s leader in the tribal agency of Bajaur. All seven terrorists were being interrogated by the CID in Karachi.
Pakistani military and police forces have been a major target of the Taliban over the past several years. The Taliban have conducted numerous attacks against heavily secured military, police, and intelligence compounds, as well as against other secured targets housing foreigners in Pakistan’s major cities. The most brazen was the assault on the Pakistani Army General Headquarters complex in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in October 2009.
The Taliban have been targeting the counterterrorism sections of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, the Pakistani Central Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Investigation Agency. The ISI counterterrorism branch is responsible for targeting the Taliban and is supported by the US. The Taliban destroyed an ISI counterterrorism section building in Peshawar on Nov. 13, 2009, as well as the Pakistani Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Lahore on Oct. 16, 2009. Also, on March 8, 2010, a suicide bomber rammed his car packed with explosives into a Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore, killing 11 people. Four days later, on March 12, a pair of suicide bombers attacked Pakistani Army vehicles at a bazaar in a military cantonment in Lahore, killing more than 50 people.
Pakistani security forces have targeted the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and allied groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as they have conducted attacks against the Pakistani state. But Pakistani security forces refuse to move against Taliban groups such as the Haqqani Network as well as terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, despite the fact that the latter groups provide aid and shelter to the former.
Yousuf alias Qari allegedly masterminded a suicide attack in Mingora in which 16 recruits of the newly-formed Community Police Force were killed.
A Crime Investigation Department official said the TTP man was arrested during a raid in Mominabad area of Orangi Town. A brief encounter took place during the raid, which also led to recovery of some arms and ammunition.
The official said that Qari was involved in planning and executing the Mingora suicide attack in August last year.
He was also planning terror attacks in Karachi. “The suspect is a senior member of the TTP and was in contact with the top leadership of the banned outfit.”
The Crime Investigation Department official said that Qari was being interrogated and information gained from him could lead to further arrests.
KARACHI: The Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Wednesday arrested six most wanted Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants and recovered a huge cache of weapon.
According to details, a CID team headed by SSP Omer Shahid and SSP Chaudhry Aslam received a tip off on the appearance of at least 10 activists of banned outfit LeJ in Peerabad and arrested six of them in a raid near Rasheed graveyard.
SSP Shahid said preliminary interrogation has revealed that the arrested militants were affiliated with LeJ Asif Ramzi group and planned sectarian violence before Muharram by targeting nine important Shia community members.
He informed that a huge cache of weapons including four Kalashnikovs with 1,000 bullets, 10 hand grenades, 25 kg explosive material, 10 metres detonation wire, 12 silencers, four TT pistols and some prohibited medicines were also recovered in the operation.
The SSP said the accused have confessed a number of heinous crimes including sectarian killings, kidnapping for ransom, and bank robberies. They have admitted involvement in murders of Apna Sahara Welfare Trust Chairman Jaffar Shah, Dr Sabtain in Kharadar, Dr Mohammad Imran and three other Shia men, he added.
TTP militant arrested: The CID also arrested a most wanted criminal affiliated with banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from the Manghopir area.
SP Fayyaz Khan said Iqbal alias Bajori, son of Shehzada Allakhail, was arrested in a raid in Manghopir and a TT pistol recovered from his possession.
The SP informed that Bajauri was a close aide of Faqeer Mohammad and was involved in several bombings and militancy against security forces in Bajaur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He had escaped from Bajaur during the operation in tribal areas, he added. atif raza
Pakistani Taliban are supported by influential Deobandi politicians including Imran Khan, Munawar Hassan, Taqi Usmani and Fazlur-Rehman. Activist of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban are used as footsoldiers by Pakistan army for its strategic agenda.
Pakistan police are a soft target for the ISI’s strategic assets, i.e., jihadi and sectarian terrorists of the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba. Recently CID section of the Karachi police had been warned by the ISI to stop arresting their jihadi assets.
The ISI-Taliban alliance at work
Apparently the attack was aimed at freeing or killing a number of extremist Deobandi footsoldiers of the ISI which were only yesterday arrested by the Karachi police. A similar attack was previously successfully carried out in Karachi bythe ISI in June 2010 in which General Zia-ul-Haq group of the ISI was able to secure freedom of 4 most dangerous terrorists of Jundullah (one of many aliases of Siaph-e-Shaba)
According to the Long War Journal:
While the [exact] reason for today’s attack in Karachi attack is not known, the Taliban may have been trying to free a senior commander, a local Taliban leader, and several allied Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters who are thought to have been in custody at the CID building. On Nov. 3, police arrested a Taliban commander named Yousuf, who is also known as Qari. Yousuf was described as “a senior member of the TTP [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] and was in contact with the top leadership of the banned outfit.” He is said to have planned a suicide attack on a police training center in Mingora earlier this year, and is thought to have been plotting to carry out attacks in karachi.
Also, yesterday, police arrested six Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters from the Asif Ramzi group and a Taliban commander known as Iqbal. The Taliban leader is said to be a “a close aide” to Faqir Mohammad, the Taliban’s leader in the tribal agency of Bajuar. All seven terrorists were being interrogated by the CID in Karachi.Source
Taliban claim responsibility
At least 22 people died and more than 100 were injured in a suicide car bomb attack on a police facility in the Pakistani city of Karachi, police said Thursday.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told CNN that the Taliban carried out the attack, which police say targeted building that housed a Crime Investigation Department facility.
“We will continue such attacks as long as military operations continue against us,” Tariq said.
The blast occurred in a high-security area, near government buildings and major hotels, such as the Pearl Continental and the Sheraton.
A Pakistani government official told CNN that about five gunmen on foot cleared the way for the suicide car bomber by firing on security personnel manning a security check post. The official said that once the vehicle cleared the check post it raced toward the police facility and rammed into the building. The official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, doesn’t know the whereabouts of the gunmen.
Local TV showed footage of a three- or four-story building with significant damage and ambulances rushing the injured from the scene. (Source)
Extremist Deobandis of Sipah-e-Sahaba involved
High profile militants were among at least 115 people injured in the blast and were arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location, acccording to unnamed police sources.
According to the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre’s Seemi Jamali, 90 injured people were brought to the hospital so far in the critical condition.
The powerful blast destroyed the part of the CID building housing its counterterrorism wing, reducing it and the adjacent police station to rubble. The explosion left a major crater so deep that water gushed out from the ground.
Recently arrested Pakistani Taliban commander Iqbal Bajauri, from the Bajaur tribal area, who is alleged to have been involved in several attacks against security personnel, was also present in the CID building at the time of the bombing.
Gun shots were reportedly fired just before the blast. According to one eye-witness account, an explosives-laden van rammed to the CID building.
The audacious attack showed the militants’ ability to break security lines and enter the Red Zone, which contains three five star hotels, the Sindh governor’s house, the US consulate, and the offices of senior government officials, as well as the CID and the chief minister’s house.
A day earlier, CID counterterrorism officers presented six members of the anti-Shia militant group Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (an alias of Sipah-e-Sahaba) to journalists in Karachi. The arrested militants boasted that they were not alone and have at least 200 more members active in the city.
Earlier on Thursday, the six militants appeared in court and were remanded to police custody at the CID.
Under the command of young police superintendent Omar Shahid, the CID has been making almost daily arrests of high profile militants who include Bajauri.
Shahid was uninjured in Thursday’s attack, his mother told Adnkronos International.
According to the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre’s Seemi Jamali, 90 injured people were brought to the hospital so far in the critical condition. (Source)
LAHORE: A Christian mother of five has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, the first such conviction of a woman, sparking protests from rights groups on Thursday.
Asia Bibi, 45, was handed down the death sentence by a court in Nankana district in central Punjab on Monday.
Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Ms Asia’s case dates back to June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. But a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl.
A few days later the women went to a local cleric and alleged that Ms Asia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (peace be upon him). The cleric went to police, who opened an investigation.
Ms Asia was arrested in Ittanwalai village and prosecuted under Section 295-C of the PPC, which carries the death penalty.
Husband Ashiq Masih, 51, said he would appeal her death sentence.
Human rights activists want the controversial legislation repealed, saying it was exploited for personal enmity and encourages extremism.
“The blasphemy law is absolutely obscene and it needs to be repealed in totality,” Human Rights Watch spokesman Ali Dayan Hasan said. —AFP
Kashin’s father, Vladimir, walking outside a Moscow hospital on Monday.
President Dmitry Medvedev pledged on Monday to punish those responsible for the vicious beating of Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin even if they are senior officials — just as two more journalists reported assaults.
Police have named no suspects in the early Saturday attack on Kashin, but they promised on Monday to investigate a leak that provided the media with gruesome videos of the attack filmed by surveillance cameras.
A 90-second video released by Lifenews.ru late Sunday shows Kashin attacked near his home on Pyatnitskaya Ulitsa by two men, one of whom was holding a bouquet of flowers. [Editor's caution: The videoshows the two assailants bludgeoning Kashin.]
The flowers were apparently used to hide a metal bar that one attacker used to beat Kashin after knocking him down, while the other assailant held the helpless reporter. The video gives no clear view of the assailants’ faces.
Moscow police seniors are “indignant over the video’s release” and have ordered to find out how the media got hold of it, a police official told Interfax.
Despite the inquiry, another video from the scene was released by Lifenews.ru on Monday showing Kashin crawling on his knees after the attack until a yardkeeper comes to his aid.
Kashin, 30, was attacked near his rented apartment in downtown Moscow. His jaw, leg and fingers were broken, and he remained hospitalized in a drug-induced coma Monday.
Kashin’s wife, Yevgenia Milova, wrote on her Facebook page late Sunday that he had undergone three-hour head surgery. “Now nothing is threatening his brain,” she wrote.
She also wrote that she had been allowed to visit Kashin in the hospital along with his father, who came to Moscow from his native Kaliningrad shortly before the attack. Kashin and Milova have no children.
Kashin’s father urged the authorities to quickly find the attackers.
“It’s a potent challenge to the authorities. They must find them … those scumbags,” Vladimir Kashin told Reuters outside the hospital.
“By doing this a 10-minute walk from the Kremlin, they are not just throwing down a challenge to the media. They are throwing down a challenge to everyone,” he said.
The Investigative Committee said Monday that more than 30 people have been questioned in connection with the attack and investigators have searched Kashin’s office and apartment for clues. Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin was among those questioned, Interfax said.
“Priority has been given to the version that [the attack is linked to] his professional activity as a journalist and his personal position that Kashin expressed in his blog,” investigators said in a statement Monday, without elaborating.
Kashin’s supporters continued to stage one-person pickets — the only form of public protests not requiring permission from the authorities — near Moscow police headquarters on the downtown Ulitsa Petrovka. They began the picket Saturday, demanding the arrest of the assailants and organizers of the attack.
Several students from Moscow State University’s journalism department hung a banner reading, “Who beat up Kashin?” out of a university building window facing the Kremlin on Monday.
The banner was swiftly removed by security guards, Interfax reported, citing a university spokesperson.
A group of students calling themselves the “Other Journalistic Department” took responsibility for the protest in a statement e-mailed to The Moscow Times. They did not identify themselves.
Medvedev criticized the attack at a meeting with journalists working for the government’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
“Whoever contributed to the crime will be punished regardless of his position or place in society and regardless of his other merits, if there are any,” Medvedev said in an apparent reference to speculation that the attack was ordered by some of the numerous officials Kashin attacked in his publications.
A number of human rights activists linked the incident to the campaign around the Khimki forest, slated for partial destruction to make way for a government-backed highway. Kashin criticized local authorities over their handling of the issue in his recent reports.
The Khimki city administration denied involvement Monday, Interfax said.
Another Khimki forest defender, environmental activist Konstantin Fetisov, remains hospitalized in serious condition after unidentified men beat him up with baseball bats last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, more violence against journalists was reported Monday.
In the Moscow region town of Zhukovsky, a reporter with the independent local Zhukovskiye Vesti newspaper, Anatoly Adamchuk, was attacked by two unknown men late Sunday night near the newspaper’s office, his colleagues said.
Adamchuk, who was hospitalized with head injuries, said the attack might be linked to his professional activity because the assailants repeated “Zhukovskiye Vesti” while beating him, his colleagues said.
Adamchuk recently wrote about the razing of a nearby forest ahead of the MAKS air show slated for next year.
The incident took place Friday, but Mikhailov only reported it Monday. He said he escaped serious injuries because the assailants were scared off by a passer-by.
Mikhailov said the attackers did not try to rob him, which could mean that the incident was linked to his professional activity.
At least 30 attacks against journalists, including eight murders, have been registered this year, according to the Glasnost Defense Foundation.
Nineteen murders of journalists in Russia remain unsolved since 2000, according to the New York-basedCommittee to Protect Journalists.
|The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum today called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to ensure that widespread attacks on journalists are aggressively prosecuted following the attempted murder of newspaper reporter Oleg Kashin.|
|“We are alarmed at the culture of impunity that surrounds attacks on journalists, which stifles criticism and can lead to self-censorship,” the global organisations said in a letter to the president, which pointed to 19 unsolved murders of journalists in Russia. “We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to provide an environment in which journalists are able to carry out their professional duties without fear of violence.”
Mr Kashin, a reporter for the business daily Kommersant, suffered a fractured jaw, broken legs and injuries to his fingers and skull after being beaten outside his Moscow apartment building on Saturday (6 November). Kommersant editor Mikhail Mikhailin said that the attack was retribution for articles written by Mr Kashin, who had recently covered anti-Kremlin protests and extremist rallies.
WAN-IFRA welcomed President Medvedev’s appointment of the Prosecutor General to oversee the case, and his remark that “the criminals must be found and punished”, but said more needed to be done.
The full letter said:
“We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the attempted murder of newspaper reporter Oleg Kashin and the impunity that surrounds attacks on journalists in Russia.
“According to reports, Mr Kashin, a reporter for the business daily Kommersant, was attacked on 6 November outside his Moscow apartment building. He suffered a fractured jaw, broken legs and injuries to his fingers and skull after being beaten, and has since undergone two operations. Kommersant editor Mikhail Mikhailin claims that the attack was retribution for articles written by Mr Kashin, who had recently covered anti-Kremlin protests and extremist rallies. Mr Kashin was also recently identified as a “media saboteur” who should be punished by the Molodaya Gvardia youth group linked to the ruling United Russia party.
“We are also concerned at reports of attacks on two regional reporters on 8 November. Anatoly Adamchuk, a reporter for the weekly Zhukovskiye Vesti on the outskirts of Moscow, and Sergei Mikhailov, editor of the Volga region’s Saratovsky Reporter, were beaten in separate incidents. Both journalists were reportedly covering similar issues to Mr Kashin.
“While welcoming your appointment of the Prosecutor General to oversee the case and your remarks that “the criminals must be found and punished”, we are alarmed at the culture of impunity that surrounds attacks on journalists, which stifles criticism and can lead to self-censorship. There have reportedly been 19 murders of journalists in Russia since 2000 that remain unsolved. We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to provide an environment in which journalists are able to carry out their professional duties without fear of violence.
“We call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that those responsible for murdering and ordering the murder of Mr Kashin are quickly brought to justice. We ask you to do everything in your power to end the culture of impunity that exists in Russia and to ensure that in future your country fully respects international standards of press freedom.”
Follow WAN-IFRA press freedom campaigns atwww.wan-press.org/pfreedom/home.php.
WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. The organisation was created by the merger of the World Association of Newspapers and IFRA, the research and service organisation for the news publishing industry.
Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 7 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 75005 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: email@example.com.
The main opponent of Alexander Lukashenko can be withdrawn from the election
Belarusian authorities closed yesterday the organization of “Moving Forward”, led by the presidential candidate Vladimir Nyaklyaeu. This gives grounds for the authorities to withdraw from the election of Mr. Neklyaeva, whom many consider the leading opponent of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Simultaneously, the CEC denied opposition candidates have the right to speak on television live. The opposition believes that by doing so, Mr. Lukashenko has violated this EU pledge to hold fair elections.
Persecution of research and education organization, “Moving Forward” began last summer, after she started the campaign “Speak the truth,” and its leader, the famous poet Vladimir Nyaklyaeu announced his intention to run for presidency in Belarus. Minsk City Economic Court filed a lawsuit demanding the elimination of “forward movement”. According to city officials, the organization had no right to use as office space leased by it, because it is listed as commercial.
As a result, the Minsk Economic Court invalidated the lease agreement, concluded, “Moving Forward”. And since, according to the Belarusian legislation, no organization can exist without a legal address, the court upheld another claim of the Minsk City Executive Committee – the deprivation of “Moving Forward” state registration. Opposition members wanted to present to the court documents that the rental unit is specifically designed for office purposes, but all the documentation, “Moving Forward” was sealed in the office, and police are not allowed to take documents. Subsequent protests by the opposition, too, may have failed – yesterday Appeals Board of the Minsk Economic Court reaffirmed its decision.
This was a serious blow to the presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaevu, who is considered the most serious rival of Mr Lukashenko in the upcoming December 19 elections. According to Belarusian legislation, acting on behalf of an unregistered organization is a criminal offense. Understands this and mister Nyaklyaeu. ”When I handed the documents to the CEC for registration as a presidential candidate, pointed out that I am the director of” moving forward. “And now it turns out that the organization is not, and by law I may withdraw from the election.”
Another blow to the opposition struck Belarusian Central Election Commission. According to its decision, the presidential candidates will make pre-election speech on Belarusian television, but in the record. This immediately provoked protests by opposition candidates, who not without reason, feared that their performances will cut out the most important thing. However, the CEC explained his position that “a convenient entry broadcasters.” Then the Belarus Popular Front, said that he would prepare a recording of a candidate and bring the finished discs in the CEC. The CEC rejected, and this initiative, but announced afterwards that “the opposition she wanted to write a speech.”
Vladimir Nyaklyaeu drew attention to Kommersant that “tighten the screws” Belarusian authorities have started after a visit to Minsk, the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Poland – Guido Westerwelle and Radoslaw Sikorski. Meeting them, Alexander Lukashenko assured the EU that the forthcoming presidential elections in the country will be in “full transparency and freedom.”"The behavior resembles the actions of Alexander G. card tricksters or Grifters – told Kommersant Vladimir Nyaklyaeu .- Russia 15 years, burned and concluded, and now at the table with him sat the West, believing in the fact that his dad is not a cheat.”
In favor of such an assessment says, oddly enough, and the decision of the Belarusian Central Election Commission to register almost all the candidates, attended by 100 thousand signatures in their support. Of the 11 candidates for the Central Election Commission has rejected only one – the entrepreneur Vladimir Proval, although, according to the sources of Kommersant with the opposition, not all candidate lists in order. Interlocutors of Kommersant believe that authorities are disclosed their strategy: leaving the nine opposition candidates, they expect to pulverize the opposition forces and the electorate to allow Mr. Lukashenko’s victory in the first round. The more so because, as stated recently deputy chairman of the United Civil Party, Yaroslav Romanchuk, the project “a single opposition candidate can be buried.”
Movsun Hajiyev, Minsk, Gennady Sysoev
Russia is ready to cooperate with NATO on the question of missile defense and create a missile defense pool on condition that the security of all nations is taken into consideration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.
“This is a more or less hot topic. NATO has proposed cooperation to Russia on this topic. We have heard clarification about what forms this may proceed in. If we proceed on the basis of equal cooperation, starting with a joint analysis, joint assessment of risks, which exist in the sphere of missile proliferation, then such cooperation is completely feasible,” Lavrov said.
He said the Russian president was ready to establish additional proposals which he had already prepared “on the subject of creating a missile pool of interested states with the participation of Russia, the United States and the European states.”
“In Lisbon, President Medvedev will lay out our position on these issues. In the presence of a favorable atmosphere, and readiness for cooperation as equals, and mutual respect taking into account the interests of each other, such a project is possible,” Lavrov said.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier in the month the alliance hoped to work with Russia on missile defense.
Russian and NATO missile-defense systems are unlikely to be integrated into a single system, however, Rasmussen said.
These two systems should interact so that we have a common “security roof” through information exchange, he said – separate systems but within a common architecture of cooperation.
The NATO chief also proposed conducting joint missile-defense exercises with Russia.
Rasmussen previously proposed the creation of a missile shield from Vancouver to Vladivostok that would integrate the U.S. and NATO missile-defense systems with a role for Russia.
Russia has retained staunch opposition to the deployment of missile-defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO territories against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has campaigned for a pan-European security pact instead of the shield, although Western nations and NATO have dismissed the plan as irrelevant and unnecessary.
SEOUL, November 12 (RIA Novosti)
[I guess it had to happen sooner or later, with Obama reviving the ghost of Bill Clinton's "Third Way" Democrats. We have come full circle; the insanity of Clinton's globalist/interventionist policies which made the original neoconservatives seem like good guys has returned full force.]
Senate Republicans seem sorely tempted not to pass the New START agreement during the lame-duck session. Some simply won’t vote for the treaty. Some think the newly elected members should have a say and that there’s no need to rush. Others, such as Jon Kyl, are negotiating with the administration over issues such as modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and are trying to get the best possible deal. Still others just want to deny the president a victory.
I have sympathy for most of these arguments (not the last), but I fear Republicans are missing the bigger strategic picture. New START, whatever its flaws, is not a threat to U.S. security. The three previous arms-control treaties, all negotiated by Republican presidents, cut deployed nuclear weapons from near 12,000 to around 2,000. New START reduces the totals to 1,550. Passing it will neither produce a nuclear-free utopia nor disarm the United States.
But blocking the treaty will produce three unfortunate results: It will strengthen Vladimir Putin, let the Obama administration off the hook when Russia misbehaves and set up Republicans as the fall guy if and when U.S.-Russian relations go south. And if relations with Russia do sour, as I expect, it will be important that the record be clear as to why.
The fact is, the administration’s “reset” policy probably reached its zenith this past summer with the passage of the Iran sanctions resolution at the United Nations. That development, Russia’s refusal to deliver the S-300 air defense system to Tehran and its earlier agreement to allow the U.S. military to ship material to Afghanistan across Russian territory have been the reset’s big tangible payoffs. A more theoretical benefit has been the strengthening of President Dmitry Medvedev, a purportedly reform-minded modernizer who allegedly seeks to challenge the tsarist rule of Putin.
So far so good. But the relationship promises to grow more difficult. On Iran, Russia will become less cooperative. While the United States will probably look to tighten sanctions over the coming months, Moscow has already signaled its lack of interest and has even rallied international opposition to “unilateral” U.S. and European sanctions. Other security issues, such as missile defense, tactical nuclear weapons and the continuing occupation of Georgia by Russian troops, will be much tougher to address than strategic nuclear arms reduction, which the Russians needed more than the United States did.
As for Medvedev, whatever his liberalizing inclinations may be, under his presidency the Russian government is becoming more, not less, repressive. Moreover, if Putin decides to run for president again in 2012, the Obama administration will have little to show for its Medvedev strategy.
All this could happen regardless of whether New START passes. Honest administration officials acknowledge that the second phase of “reset” was always going to be tougher than the first and that the really hard work lies ahead.
But imagine if Republicans refuse to pass the treaty before this downward trend even begins. Every negative turn in the relationship, each unhelpful Russian action, and every further blow against liberal and democratic forces in Russia will be attributed to the Republican “sabotage” of U.S.-Russian relations. In fact, administration officials have begun to set up this narrative – “U.S. Election Could Derail Relations With Russia” was the headline of a recent spoon-fed New York Times story. Under this narrative, whatever went right with the relationship was the result of the brilliant “reset.” Whatever goes wrong will be Republicans’ fault.
Setting up Republicans to take the fall for worsening relations may be cynical, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Moreover, there will be a kernel of truth to it. Few men are more cynical players than Vladimir Putin. One can well imagine Putin exploiting the failure of New START internally and externally. He will use it to stir more anti-Western nationalism, further weakening an already weak Medvedev and anyone else who stands for a more pro-Western approach. He will use it as an excuse to end further cooperation on Iran. He will certainly use it to win concessions from Europeans who already pander to him, charging that the Americans have destroyed the transatlantic rapprochement with Russia and that more concessions to Moscow will be necessary to repair the damage. There’s no getting around it: Failure to pass START will help empower Putin.
And it will let the Obama administration off the hook. Now is the time to see whether “reset” can deliver on the tough problems – like Georgia – as well as on the easier ones. But failure to pass New START will give the administration all the excuse it needs to throw up its hands.
All this is a big price to pay to derail such a minor treaty. Do Republicans really want to devote weeks of floor debate to this nothingburger next year? With so many pressing domestic issues, and truly significant foreign and defense issues – Iran, Afghanistan, China, the defense budget – a big set-piece debate over this little treaty would be a waste of the new Senate’s time. Nor should Republicans worry that passing the treaty in a lame-duck session will help Obama politically. No one in the United States cares, or will remember come January.
This is a moment for Republicans to lift themselves above tactics and think strategically. It’s a good first step toward governing.
Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes a monthly column for The Post.
The drone war that has been anticipated in Yemen for the last few months has been delayed by the failure of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda there.
That failure has given the CIA a new argument for wresting control of the drone war in Yemen from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which now controls the drone assets in the country. But some key administration officials are resisting a CIA takeover of the war in Yemen, as reported by the Washington Post Nov. 7.
The struggle between the CIA’s operations directorate and SOF officials over management of a drone war in Yemen has been a driving force in pushing the war against al Qaeda and affiliated organisations into many more countries – along with President Barack Obama’s eagerness to show that he is doing more than his predecessor on terrorism.
Both the CIA covert operations directorate and SOF brass regard the outcome in Yemen as the key to the larger struggle over control of a series of covert wars that the Obama administration approved in principle last year.
The CIA directorate and the two major figures in the Iraq- Afghanistan wars, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, lobbied Obama in 2009 to expand covert operations against al Qaeda to a dozen countries in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia.
In spring 2009, McChrystal, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, persuaded the White House to give U.S. combatant commanders wider latitude to carry out covert military operations against al Qaeda or other organisations deemed to be terrorists, according to a May 25 report by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic.
Based on the Obama decision, on Sep. 30, 2009, Petraeus issued an order creating a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force to plan and execute covert intelligence gathering in support of later covert military operations throughout the CENTCOM area.
The Petraeus order was followed within weeks by an influx of surveillance equipment and as many as 100 SOF trainers, as well as additional CIA personnel in Yemen, according to the Post Nov. 7 report.
With the support of McChrystal and Petraeus, who was then still CENTCOM chief, JSOC was given control of the covert operation in Yemen.
But JSOC stumbled badly and failed to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda targets, as the Post reported Nov. 7.
On Dec. 17, less than three months after the Petraeus order, a cruise missile was launched against what was supposed to have been an al Qaeda training camp in Abyan province in south Yemen.
But the strike, which was supposed to have been attributed to Yemen’s tiny air force, was based on faulty intelligence. The Yemeni parliament found that it had killed 41 members of two families, including 17 women and 23 children. It was known almost immediately to have been a U.S. strike.
By all accounts, it was major political gift to AQAP, which has its sights set on toppling the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. AQAP seized on videos of the carnage to step up its attack on Saleh as a U.S. stooge.
Al Qaeda has also been able to justify targeting the United States as revenge for the Dec. 17 attack. In June and July, the AQAP announced that it was planning a “catastrophe for the enemies of God” in response to the Abyan attack, according to Gregory Johnsen, a Princeton doctoral candidate who has done research in Yemen.
That may have been a reference to the two parcels from Yemen to an address in Chicago intercepted Oct. 29, one of which was discovered to have “explosive material”.
On May 27, another cruise missile strike killed a popular deputy province chief who was apparently mediating between the Yemeni government and al Qaeda officials. Local tribesmen retaliated by attacking an oil pipeline in the vicinity.
After that strike, the CIA went on the offensive to get the administration to take control of the drones away from the SOF. A series of articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press in mid- to late August cited unnamed officials referring to the possibility of CIA drone operations in Yemen.
Col. Pat Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East with operational experience in Yemen, told IPS the CIA had benefited from JSOC stumbling.
“The agency has taken advantage of every criticism of the performance of the SOF as an argument to regain control over cover operations,” said Lang.
“The competition between the military clandestine services and the CIA is greater than ever before,” Lang told IPS.
But according to U.S. officials quoted in Sunday’s Post, ever since the errant late May strike, U.S. drones have been present in the skies over Yemen searching for AQAP targets. The Post reported that the drones are still under the control of JSOC, operating under the overall command of the chief of the Central Command.
The Post article quoted a “senior Obama administration official” as hinting strongly that the CIA’s operations branch is lobbying the White House hard for control over the drones in Yemen but not convincing some key officials.
“There are a lot of people who are really feeling good about what they’re doing in certain parts of the world,” said the official. That was an apparent reference to the drone war in Pakistan, which is run by the CIA’s operations directorate.
“But that doesn’t mean that, oh, if you’ll just let us do this over here, you’re going to have a different picture or different results” than the past in Yemen, the official said, clearly referring to the lack of actionable intelligence.
The report suggests that key officials now realise that neither JSOC nor the CIA is going to be able to obtain actionable intelligence on al Qaeda under present circumstances.
Former DIA intelligence officer Lang agrees. He believes the Yemeni Intelligence Service, which is a “very effective secret police force” with “considerable penetration capability”, is not fully sharing the intelligence it has on al Qaeda with U.S. officials.
“I’m sure Saleh is concerned about AQAP,” Lang said, “but he can’t allow himself to be seen as serving the United States.” And Saleh may figure that AQAP has penetrated his intelligence service as well, according to Lang.
For the time being, it appears the drone war in Yemen is abeyance. But powerful bureaucratic forces will be continuing to make the case that they can justify the beginning of drone strikes there.
AQAP leaders are hoping to see the U.S. use more military force in Yemen, according to Johnsen. “They would like nothing better than for the U.S. to invade Yemen,” Johnsen told IPS. “The more they can show active U.S. intervention, the better it is for them.”
(Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006).
Since The Great Flood hit Pakistan in July …
I direct these remarks to readers who have to deal with Americans who turn into a stone wall upon hearing the United States accused of acting immorally; America, they are convinced, means well; our motives are noble. And if we do do something that looks bad, and the badness can’t easily be covered up or explained away … well, great powers have always done things like that, we’re no worse than the other great powers of history, and a lot better than most. God bless America.
A certain percentage of such people do change eventually and stop rationalizing; this happens usually after being confronted X-number of times with evidence of the less-than-beautiful behavior of their government around the world. The value of X of course varies with the individual; so don’t give up trying to educate the hardened Americans you come in contact with. You never know when your enlightening them about a particular wickedness of their favorite country will be the straw that breaks their imperialist-loving back. (But remember the warning from Friedrich Schiller of Germany: Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens. — “With stupidity even the gods struggle in vain.”)
Here’s a recent revelation of wickedness that might serve to move certain of the unenlightened: New evidence has recently come to light that reinforces the view of a CIA role in the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of The Congo following its independence from Belgium in 1960. The United States didn’t pull the trigger, but it did just about everything else, including giving the green light to the Congolese officials who had kidnaped Lumumba. CIA Station Chief Larry Devlin, we now know, was consulted by these officials about the transfer of Lumumba to his sworn enemies. Devlin signaled them that he had no objection to it. Lumumba’s fate was sealed. 2
It was a classic Cold War example of anti-communism carried to absurd and cruel lengths. Years later, Under Secretary of State C. Douglas Dillon told a Senate investigating committee that the National Security Council and President Eisenhower had believed in 1960 that Lumumba was a “very difficult if not impossible person to deal with, and was dangerous to the peace and safety of the world.” 3 This statement moved author Jonathan Kwitny to observe:
How far beyond the dreams of a barefoot jungle postal clerk in 1956, that in a few short years he would be dangerous to the peace and safety of the world! The perception seems insane, particularly coming from the National Security Council, which really does have the power to end all human life within hours. 4
President Eisenhower personally gave the order to kill the progressive African leader. 5
We can’t know for sure what life for the Congolese people would have been like had Lumumba been allowed to remain in office. But we do know what followed his assassination — one vicious dictator after another presiding over 50 years of mass murder, rape, and destruction as competing national forces and neighboring states fought endlessly over the vast mineral wealth in the country. The Congo would not hold another democratic election for 46 years.
Overthrowing a country’s last great hope, with disastrous consequences, is an historical pattern found throughout the long chronicle of American imperialist interventions, from Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s to Haiti and Afghanistan in the 1990s, with many examples in between. Washington has been working on Hugo Chávez in Venezuela for a decade.
Just like the commercials that warn you “Don’t try this at home”, I urge you not to waste your time trying to educate the likes of Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who not long ago referred to “the men and women of the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps” as “the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century.” 6 What can you say to such a man? And this is the leading foreign policy columnist for America’s “newspaper of record”. God help us. The man could use some adult supervision.
For many years I have not paid a great deal of attention to party politics in the United States. I usually have only a passing knowledge of who’s who in Congress. It’s policies that interest me much more than politicians. But during the 2008 presidential campaign I kept hearing the name Barack Obama when I turned on the radio, and repeatedly saw his name in headlines in various newspapers. I knew no more than that he was a senator from Illinois and … Was he black?
Then one day I turned on my kitchen radio and was informed that Obama was about to begin a talk. I decided to listen, and did so for about 15 or 20 minutes while I washed the dishes. I listened, and listened, and then it hit me … This man is not saying anything! It’s all platitude and cliché, very little of what I would call substance. His talk could have been written by a computer, touching all the appropriate bases and saying just what could be expected to give some hope to the pessimistic and to artfully challenge the skepticism of the cynical; feel-good language for every occasion; conventional wisdom for every issue. His supporters, I would later learn, insisted that he had to talk this way to be elected, but once elected — Aha! The real genuine-progressive, anti-war Barack Obama would appear. “Change you can believe in!” Hallelujah! … They’re still saying things like that.
Last week Obama gave the traditional annual speech at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. 7 To give you an idea of whether the man now sincerely expresses himself “outside the box” at all, here’s what he had to say about Pakistan: “Since the rains came and the floodwaters rose in Pakistan, we have pledged our assistance, and we should all support the Pakistani people as they recover and rebuild.” Does he think no one in the world knows about the American bombs? Did he think he was speaking before sophisticated international diplomats or making a campaign speech before Iowa farmers?
Plus endless verbiage about the endless Israeli-Palestine issue, which could have been lifted out of almost any speech by any American president of the past 30 years. But no mention at all of Gaza. Oh, excuse me — there was one line: “the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams”. Gosh, choke. One would never know that the United States possesses huge leverage over the state of Israel — billions/trillions of dollars of military and economic aid and gifts. An American president with a minimum of courage could force Israel to make concessions, and in a struggle between a thousand-pound gorilla (Israel) and an infant (Hamas) it’s the gorilla that has to give some ground.
And this: “We also know from experience that those who defend these [universal] values for their people have been our closest friends and allies, while those who have denied those rights — whether terrorist groups or tyrannical governments — have chosen to be our adversaries.”
Such a lie. It would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the Western world in the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Kosovo, Colombia, and Israel. As to terrorist groups being adversaries of the United States — another item for the future Barack Obama Presidential Liebrary; as I’ve discussed in this report on several occasions, including last month, the United States has supported terrorist groups for decades. As they’ve supported US foreign policy.
“Yes, of course it’s nice to have a president who speaks in complete sentences. But that they’re coherent doesn’t make them honest.” — John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s Magazine. 8
In one of his regular “Reflections” essays, Fidel Castro recently discussed United States hostility towards Venezuela. “What they really want is Venezuela’s oil,” wrote the Cuban leader. 9 This is a commonly-held viewpoint within the international left. The point is put forth, for example, in Oliver Stone’s recent film “South of the Border”. I must, however, take exception.
In the post-World War Two period, in Latin America alone, the US has had a similar hostile policy toward progressive governments and movements in Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, and Bolivia. What these governments and movements all had in common was that they were/are leftist; nothing to do with oil. For more than half a century Washington has been trying to block the rise of any government in Latin America that threatens to offer a viable alternative to the capitalist model. Venezuela of course fits perfectly into that scenario; oil or no oil.
This ideology was the essence of the Cold War all over the world.
The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away. To express this striving for dominance numerically, one can consider that since the end of World War Two the United States has:
The United States institutional war machine has long been, and remains, on automatic pilot.
The Truthers have long been pressing me to express my support for their cause. Here’s how I stand on the issue. I’m very aware of the serious contradictions and apparent lies in the Official Government Version (OGV) of what happened on that fateful day. (Before the Truthers can be dismissed as “conspiracy theorists”, it should be noted that the OGV is literally a “conspiracy theory” about the fantastic things that a certain 19 men conspired to do.) It does appear that the buildings in New York collapsed essentially because of a controlled demolition, which employed explosives as well as certain incendiary substances found in the rubble. So, for this and many other questions raised by the 9/11 Truth Movement, the OGV can clearly not be taken entirely at face value but has to be seriously examined point by point. But no matter what the discrepancies in the OGV, does it necessarily follow that the events of 9/11 were an “inside job”? Is it an either/or matter? Either a group of terrorists were fully responsible or the government planned it all down to the last detail?
What if the government, with its omnipresent eyes and ears, discovered the plotting of Mideast terrorists some time before and decided to let it happen — and even enhance the destruction — to make use of it as a justification for its “War on Terror”? The Truthers admit that they can’t fully explain what actually took place, but they argue that they are not obliged to do so; that they have exposed the government lies and that the fact of these lies proves that it was an inside job. The Truthers have done great work, but I say that for me, and I’m sure for many others, to accept the idea of an inside job I have to indeed know what actually took place, or at least a lot more than I know now. It is, after all, an incredible story, and I need to know how the government pulled it off. I need to have certain questions answered, amongst which are the following:
If the Truthers can’t answer any or most of the above questions, are they prepared to consider the possibility of 9/11 being a “let-it-happen” government operation?
“Holocaust denier barred from leading tour at Auschwitz”. That was the headline over a short news item in the Washington Post on September 22. The story, in full, read: “British historian and Holocaust-denier David Irving will not be permitted to give tours at Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, museum officials said Tuesday after the controversial historian arrived in Poland to lead a tour of Nazi sites. Irving told the British Daily Mail on Friday that Treblinka was a genuine death camp but that Auschwitz was a ‘Disney-style tourist attraction’.”
So how can Irving be called a “Holocaust-denier” if he says that the Nazi concentration camp at Treblinka “was a genuine death camp”? I don’t know. Do you? Why don’t you ask the Post? They never reply to my letters. And while you’re at it, ask them why they and their columnists routinely refer to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “Holocaust-denier”. You might even point out to them that Ahmadinejad said in a speech at Columbia University (September 24, 2007), in reply to a question about the Holocaust, “I’m not saying that it didn’t happen at all. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.”
Indeed, I don’t know if any of the so-called “Holocaust-deniers” actually, ever, umm, y’know, umm … deny the Holocaust. They question certain aspects of the Holocaust history that’s been handed down to us, but they don’t explicitly say that what we know as the Holocaust never took place. Yes, I’m sure you can find at least one nut-case somewhere.
Speaking of nut-cases, two days after Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R.-CA) introduced legislation “To prohibit Federal grants to or contracts with Columbia University” (HR 3675, 110th Congress). I’m surprised he didn’t call for a Predator to fly over the campus and drop a few bombs. Don’t ya just love our Congressmembers? Soon to be joined it seems by a few Teaparty types who think that Barack Obama is a socialist. (If Obama is a socialist, what, I wonder, do they call Hugo Chávez? Or Karl Marx?) The new Madame Speaker of the House may be Alice in Wonderland.
William Blum is the author of:
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
MOSCOW: Hundreds of reporters and bloggers rallied in central Moscow on Thursday to demand answers from the Kremlin on a spate of anti-media attacks that have refocused attention on basic freedoms in Russia.
An estimated 400 to 500 demonstrators gathered in Moscow’s Pushkin Square — just blocks from the Kremlin — with signs demanding “an end to the terror” and a full Kremlin investigation into the accumulating incidents.
“Attacks against reporters are attacks against readers,” another sign read.
Moscow authorities took the unusual step of allowing the demonstration after a weekend attack on leading Russian reporter Oleg Kashin, a prolific blogger who writes about controversial local issues and general social affairs.
His beating was caught on closed-circuit television and received heavy coverage on state TV news. It also quickly prompted President Dmitry Medvedev to vow unprecedented backing for media freedoms.
The Russian leader vowed to find Kashin’s assailant “regardless of his position, place in society or accomplishments.”
The tense media environment saw Russian investigators reopen — without explaining their motives — a mothballed probe into a brutal 2008 assault on another independent reporter who wrote about issues similar to Kashin’s topics.
Mikhail Beketov was editor of the Khimkinskaya Pravda weekly in the Khimiki suburb of Moscow, the site of a bitterly contested road construction plan.
The attack left the 52-year-old Beketov suffering from brain damage — the first of several people who covered the expensive project to come under attack.
Doctors put 30-year-old Kashin in an induced coma upon his arrival at the hospital. The reporter had become responsive on Thursday but medics did not give a prognosis.
The road construction plans through Moscow’s protected woods have been surrounded by political controversy, while people who either cover the issue or try to save the forests have faced attacks.
Konstantin Fetisov — an environmentalist who also fought the forest’s removal — reported being attacked last week.
And suburban Moscow reporter Anatoly Adamchuk claimed he was assaulted early Monday after writing articles about another forest. The police responded this week by accusing Adamchuk of staging his own assault.
The Pushkin Square demonstrators expressed fears that the Kremlin would only focus its attention on the more famous Kashin incident while quietly dropping its pursuit of the other investigations.
“Oleg Kashin is a public victim whom the president spoke about directly and now all the civil servants have to follow the president’s orders,” human rights campaigner Lev Ponomaryov said at the rally.
“But what will happen to Fetisov? After all, he is in a coma, too.”
The incidents provide Medvedev a chance to sharpen his liberal credentials and distance himself from the more nationalist and police-friendly forces that prefer to rally around Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Putin, a former foreign intelligence agent, and Medvedev are the two major — and perhaps only — players of Russia’s 2012 presidential election campaign.
Both have dropped hints they could be interested in running. But they have also vowed not to face each other directly on the ballot.
In Geneva meanwhile, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) expressed “shock and alarm” at the attacks on Kashin and Adamchuk.
The EBU “condemns violence against journalists and calls upon governments everywhere to investigate all instances of violence against journalists and bring to justice those responsible.”