WHY AMERICA IS RIPE FOR A REVOLUTION!

WHY AMERICA IS RIPE FOR A REVOLUTION!

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‘Mad As Hell’ In Madison

By Ralph Nader

 

The large demonstrations at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin are driven by a middle class awakening to the spectre of its destruction by the corporate reactionaries and their toady Governor Scott Walker.

For years the middle class has watched the plutocrats stomp on the poor while listening to the two parties regale the great middle class, but never mentioning the tens of millions of poor Americans. And for years, the middle class was shrinking due significantly to corporate globalization shipping good-paying jobs overseas to repressive dictatorships like China. It took Governor Walker’s legislative proposal to do away with most collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions to jolt people to hit the streets.

Republicans take rigged elections awash in corporatist campaign cash seriously. When they win, they aggressively move their corporate agenda, unlike the wishy-washy Democrats who flutter weakly after a victory. Republicans mean business. A ram rod wins against a straw all the time.

Governor Walker won his election, along with other Republicans in Wisconsin, on mass-media driven Tea Party rhetoric. His platform was deceitful enough to get the endorsement of the police, and firefighters unions, which the latter have now indignantly withdrawn.

These unions should have known better. The Walker Republicans were following the Reagan playbook. The air traffic controllers union endorsed Reagan in 1980. The next year he fired 12,000 of them during a labor dispute. (This made flying unnecessarily dangerous.)

Then Reagan pushed for tax cuts—primarily for the wealthy—which led to larger deficits to turn the screws on programs benefitting the people. Reagan, though years earlier opposed to corporate welfare, not only maintained these taxpayer subsidies but created a government deficit, over eight years, that was double that of all the accumulated deficits from George Washington to Jimmy Carter.

Maybe the unions that endorsed Walker will soon realize that not even being a “Reagan Democrat” will save them from being losers under the boot of the corporate supremacists.

The rumble of the people in Madison illustrates the following:

1. There is an ideological plan driving these corporatists. They create “useful crisis” and then hammer the unorganized people to benefit the wealthy classes. Governor Walker last year gave $140 million in tax breaks to corporations. This fiscal year’s deficit is $137 million. Note this oft-repeated dynamic. President Obama caved to the Minority party Republicans in Congress last December by going along with the deficit-deepening extension of the huge dollar volume tax cuts for the rich. Now the Republicans want drastic cuts in programs that help the poor.

2. Whatever non-union or private union workers, who are giving ground or losing jobs, think of the sometimes better pay and benefits of unionized public employees, they need to close ranks without giving up their opposition to government waste. For corporate lobbyists and their corporate governments are going after all collective bargaining rights for all workers and they want to further weaken The National Labor Relations Board.

3. Whenever corporations and government want to cut workers’ incomes, the corporate tax abatements, bloated contracts, handouts and bailouts should be pulled into the public debate. What should go first?

4. For the public university students in these rallies, they might ponder their own tuition bills and high interest loans, compared to students in Western Europe, and question why they have to bear the burden of massive corporate welfare payouts—foodstamps for the rich. What should go first?

5. The bigger picture should be part of the more localized dispute. Governor Walker also wants weaker safety and environmental regulations, bargain-basement sell-outs of state public power plants and other taxpayer assets.

6. The mega-billionaire Koch brothers are in the news. They are bankrolling politicians and rump advocacy groups and funding media campaigns in Wisconsin and all over the country. Koch Industries designs and builds facilities for the natural gas industry. Neither the company nor the brothers like the publicity they deserve to get every time their role is exposed. Always put the spotlight on the backroom boys.

7. Focusing on the larger struggle between the people and the plutocracy should be part and parcel of every march, demonstration or any other kind of mass mobilization. The signs at the Madison rallies make the point, to wit—“2/3 of Wisconsin Corporations Pay No Taxes,” “Why Should Public Workers Pay For Wall Street’s Mess?”, “Corporate Greed Did the Deed.”

8. Look how little energy it took for these tens of thousands of people to sound the national alarm for hard-pressed Americans. Just showing up is democracy’s barn raiser. This should persuade people that a big start for a better America can begin with a little effort and a well-attended rally. Imagine what even more civic energy could produce!

Showing up lets people feel their potential power to subordinate corporatism to the sovereignty of the people. After all, the Constitution’s preamble begins with “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.” In fact, the founders never put the word “corporation” or “company” in our constitution which was designed for real people.

As for Governor Walker’s projected two-year $3.6 billion deficit, read what Jon Peacock of the respected nonprofit Wisconsin Budget Project writes at: http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org about how to handle the state budget without adopting the draconian measures now before the legislature.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book – and first novel – is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

 

Russia To Introduce National ID/Debit Card

Russia plans universal ID-payment card to cut red tape (Update 1)

15:49 28/02/2011
MOSCOW, February 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia plans to introduce a universal identity-payment card for all of its citizens, Kremlin aide and chief presidential economics advisor Arkady Dvorkovich said on Monday.The proposed card, which would look similar to a regular bank card, would contain an electronic chip with the holder’s personal information, including fingerprints and a photograph, Dvorkovich told a news conference on Monday. It could also be used to pay utilities, transportation and medical bills.

Dvorkovich said the cost of the project, spread over the next five years, would be around 150-200 billion rubles ($5.2-$6.9 bln).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised the idea, saying the card would ease Russia’s complicated registration rules, which currently require Russians to register with the local authorities when they move to a new city.

The card could also be combined with driver’s licenses, medical insurance, and school and university ID cards, the president said during a modernization committee meeting.

“Chechnya In the West” Belarus Allegedly Breaks UN Embargo, Supplies Helicopters to Ivory Coast

Bloomberg

UN Warns Belarus About Supplying Helicopters to Ivory Coast

By Mike Cohen

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) — Belarus’s reported delivery of three attack helicopters to the forces of Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, would violate an arms embargo that has been in place since 2004, the United Nations said.

The first delivery reportedly arrived last night and others are expected today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

“The violation has been immediately brought to the attention of the Security Council’s committee charged with the responsibility for sanctions against Ivory Coast,” he said.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has been divided between a government-controlled south and a rebel-held north since a 2002 uprising of army soldiers. The insurgents back Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 election. Gbagbo, who has led the West African nation for the past decade, refuses to cede power, alleging voter fraud in parts of the north.

Ban did not provide details about the origin of the reports about the helicopter deliveries. Alexander Timoshenko, a spokesman for Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich, did not immediately answer calls today seeking comment.

Ban demanded “full compliance” with the arms embargo and warned both the supplier of the military equipment and Gbagbo that “appropriate action” would be taken if it were violated.

U.N. forces based in Ivory Coast have been instructed to monitor the situation closely and take all necessary action, within their mandate, to ensure that any delivered helicopters are not put into use, he said.

–With assistance from Paul Abelsky in Moscow. Editors: Karl Maier, Jennifer Freedman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

The Psychopathology of Terrorism: A Cultural V-Spot

[The new focus of the Rand Institute.  One of the CIA's favorite sources for justifying the evil that it does.]

The Psychopathology of Terrorism:  A Cultural V-Spot

by Joan Lachkar, Ph.D.

“. . . (J)ust as couples think they are battling over sex, money, or custody (external events), the issues are really over internal self-identity boundaries, dependency needs, rivalry, betrayal, abandonment anxiety, and entitlement fantasies. Similarly, contentions in the Middle East are not really over land or occupied territories, but over shame, control/domination, victimization, saving face, betrayal, Oedipal rivals, and self-identity.”
–The author

Do terrorists have a psychological disorder? Where do psychoanalysis and psychohistory meet? Do we have the right to diagnose a group of people from our Western couches? I believe the answer is yes. To penetrate these seemingly impermeable borders, we must take into account aspects such as (1) childrearing practices, ideology, mythology: and (2) psychodynamics such as shame, guilt, envy, jealousy, control/domination, and dependency, and how they are qualitatively and culturally experienced. Now there are some who proclaim that terrorists are highly intelligent, sane, very focused, and use terror as a political weapon to achieve their geopolitical aims. It is noteworthy to mention there is a difference between a political/ Islamic Fascist Muslim and a religious Muslim.
In this article, I am introducing the concept of the “V-spot” (vulnerable spot), a unique term I devised for couple therapy to describe what happens when partners “push each other’s buttons.” In psychological terms this is known as the archaic injury. It is suggested that cultures also share collective group myths and fantasies based on early unresolved archaic injuries or “V-spots” very much like couples we see in clinical practice.
In noting the parallels between marital and political conflict, the first point I would like to make is that cultures/nations (like couples and individuals) also have V-spots/archaic injuries traumatically bonded through wars, loss, or a lifetime of governmental violations of human rights abuses keeping them forever embroiled in endless feuds. Not a far cry from couples who engage in painful destructive on-going interactions that go on and on round and round without reaching any conflict resolution. In many of my earlier writings I have referred to this as “the dance.”
The second point I would like to make is that there is a psychological link between terrorism and mental illness. Is there such a thing as a cultural V-spot? More specifically the parallels I see between terrorists and the borderline personality disorder. Both share many defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, shame, blame, guilt, envy, jealousy, control/submission and domination. The most pervasive trait is the dominance of envy, shame, abandonment and annihilation anxieties. Through a process of projective identification, they project a state of total paralysis (as opposed to ordinary fear (Mason, personal communication 2005). Although abusers we see in our practices are not terrorists, abusive partners can also project into their spouses a state of absolute terror (Lachkar, 1998). “If you don’t do as I say, I will cut you off financially and beat you to pieces.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE WRITTEN

Tarek Heggy in The Arab Mind (2005) suggests that Arab defects are culturally induced. Heggy argues these deficiencies develop over time as a combination of cultural attributes deriving from historical, political, economic, social and educational factors which like any acquired attributes are amenable to change. Lloyd deMause refutes Clark McCauley’s statement in that “30 years of research finding very little evidence that terrorists are suffering from psychopathology” (cited in Lachkar, 2006, p. 311). To go along with this preposterous “research” as clinicians and psychohistorians would be joining in a collusive bond or folie à deux.

In contrast to the popular view, deMause (2002), Korbin (forthcoming), and Lachkar (2002c, 2006) argue that terrorists actually do suffer from severe mental illness. Kobrin goes as far to describe them as psychotic. More specifically, I am stating that terrorists share many of the same attributes, states, traits, and characteristics of borderline patients we observe in clinical practice. In “Primitive Defenses in the Middle East,” I discussed the most dominant defenses as mentioned earlier including paranoid anxiety, a predominance of envy, magical thinking , omnipotent denial, grandiosity, and massive depression.

HOW THIS WORK CAME ABOUT

My interest in psychohistory began with my first article, “The Arab-Israeli Conflict: (Lachkar, 1983, 1991) wherein battles between Arabs and Jews appeared to have striking similarities to conflicts I observed in clinical practice. Here, I ventured into psychohistory delving into the Middle East, examining the historical, mythological, psychological, and religious past of the Arabs and Jews. I saw Jews and Arabs as a Narcissistic/Borderline Couple (not a real couple, a mythological or ”biblical” couple).

A key point I would like to make is that just as couples think they are battling over sex, money, or custody (external events), the issues are really over internal self-identity,boundaries, dependency needs, rivalry, betrayal, abandonment anxiety, and entitlement fantasies. Similarly, contentions in the Middle East are not really over land or occupied territories, but over shame, control/domination, victimization, saving face, betrayal, Oedipal rivals, and self-identity. The confluence of psychoanalysis and psychohistory led me to consider that we have a universal need to master pre-oedipal rivals (relational or political) and to preserve our self-identity or the collective group identity. The preservation of the collective group self becomes more pervasive than life itself (Lachkar, 2004).
Based on the myths of the Jews and the Arabs, Jews being “God’s Chosen” people, and the special child of God, and Arabs the abandoned orphans or the split off child of God, I tentatively diagnosed the Jews as having a collective narcissistic diagnosis, and Arabs a collective borderline — very similar to couples. It has always been very baffling why people stay bonded to pain, why groups, nations, couples, individuals stay in painful conflictual relations, and even when peace or conflict resolution is offered, it is refused. The answer may lie in childhood experiences emanating from early trauma. This compelled me to study what it is that binds these groups in ongoing, circular, painful, on-going destructive battles that make conflict resolution virtually impossible. I think that Fairbairn more than anyone helps us understand why people will forever stay bonded to a bad internal object and forever stay faithfully loyal to it This may sound a bit grandiose, but without sounding too narcissistic myself, if could understand Arabs and Jews why not other battling political relationships?

DEFINING THE V-SPOT

The concept of the “The V-Spot” or “vulnerable spot” is a unique term I devised for couple therapy to describe the most sensitive area of emotional vulnerability. It is the raw spot of early childhood traumatic experience that gets aroused when one partner triggers an emotional sensitive spot in the other. The V-spot is designed to parallel the G-spot (G-spot equals pleasure, the V-spot equals pain). In fact, it is the title of my new book, The V-Spot: Healing Your Vulnerable Spot from the Trauma of Emotional Abuse. It is marked by the slightest provocation: one wrong word/movement and it’s off. It blows! It is the epicenter of our most fragile area known in psychoanalytic literature as the “archaic injury,” a product of early trauma that one unwittingly holds onto and keeps throughout adult life. I like the term because it is more user friendly than “archaic injury” and makes it easier to pinpoint the exact area of vulnerability of pain and trauma that people relentlessly hold onto. Now let us turn to the myths.

THE MYTHS (THE CHOSEN VS ORPHAN/DISPLACED CHILD)

In my earlier work, I postulated two reoccurring myths in the Bible and the Koran that have had significance in fueling the Arab-Israeli conflict. First, the myth of the Jews as “God’s Chosen People,” provided them with a narcissistic collective diagnosis, while the Arabs were abandoned/orphan-children, a collective borderline diagnosis. Stemming from these mythic origins and oedipal rivals are age-old sentiments, passions, and feelings that continually resurface giving rise to many shared, collective group-fantasies. If there is such a thing as a cultural “V-spot” or collective archaic injury , one might suggest that Isaac was the narcissistic entitled child given the birthright, whereas Ishmael, the abandoned one sent off to the desert, later became the abandoned child victimized by his fate. So Jews got the “good breast,” the land of milk and honey, wherein the Arabs got the “bad breast,” the dry barren one, leaving both groups in a state of endless rivalry and unsolvable conflicts. Could we say that the Arabs have never reconciled or come to terms with loss or mourned for what they felt was their basic entitlement?

THE CULTURAL V-SPOT

When Gaza settlers were forced from their homes as residents of Netzer Hazana, Yuval and his family were some of the last remaining settlers to leave. Instead of mourning the loss and realizing he must leave his home, he and others sat around waiting for some miracle. Instead of packing, they began to cook, play guitar, and engage in sing-along songs. The psychohistorian might interpret leaving Gaza not as an external event representing the loss of homes, but as commemorating the burning of the first, and second Jewish temples, an experience from which the Jews never recovered. So now we have a double V-spot. First. the trauma, of having your Temple burned down by non-Jews, and later to be betrayed by your own people. In the final blow, Israeli soldiers finally arrive at Yuval’s home and personally pull him and his family out by force. Let me take a moment to define a narcissistic/borderline relationship.

DEFINING A NARCISSISTIC/BORDERLINE RELATIONSHIP

In narcissistic/borderline couples I describe what happens when a narcissist and a borderline join together in a marital bond or “bind,” how each one stirs up some unresolved conflict in the other, and how each identify or over-identify with that which is being projected into them. These two personality types who enter into a psychological “dance” consciously or unconsciously stir up highly charged feelings that fulfill many early unresolved conflicts in the other, interactions that go round and round without ever reaching any conflict resolution. Each partner needs the other to play out his or her own personal relational drama. It is suggested that a person with a borderline character is inclined to attract as an object choice a narcissistic personality.

More important than why and how they attract one another is what it is that bonds them together, whereas two narcissists or two borderlines do not make it, do not “do the dance,” because of their dynamics and defenses, but when paired, these opposing types appear to maintain a bond. Since this paper equates terrorism with the borderline personality disorder, let us take a moment to describe the borderline and then the narcissist.

THE BORDERLINE

The borderline is the one dominated by shame/blame defenses, persecutory and abandonment anxieties, and such primitive defenses as splitting, projection, projective identification, omnipotent denial and magical thinking. Borderline patients often form parasitic bonds to maintain some semblance of relatedness (addictions, abusive relations, suicidal threats, and psychosomatic illness). Because the borderline does not have much of a sense of self, they tend to fuse, collude or go along with their objects. “I’ll do anything, just don’t leave me!”

Unlike the narcissist, the borderline does not feel entitled, is continually questioning his/her identity, and will do anything to prove they exist. The bonding with a painful object often becomes the replacement for an intimate attachment to offset internal deadness. “When I mutilate myself, it hurts, but at least I know I’m alive.” For a short while, the borderline will comply, but when threatened or betrayed will suddenly lash out with retaliatory responses (Lachkar, 1992, 1998), and will spend the rest of their lives getting even to those who have betrayed or abandoned them (real or imagined). As a consequence the borderline personality has poor impulse control, poor reality testing, impaired judgment, and cannot learn from experience. Borderlines frequently perpetuate the cycle by repeating the same traumatic experience.

THE NARCISSIST

The narcissist is the one who has excessive entitlement fantasies, exaggerated sense of self and is dominated by such defenses as guilt, idealization, omnipotence, grandiosity, and when not properly mirrored will withdraw. They value such things as fame, physical beauty, wealth, material positions, and power. The narcissist feels he belongs to a privileged class, is the entitlement lover, the special child of God — or, as Freud referred to him, as “His Majesty the Narcissist.” When narcissistically hurt or injured they will withdraw, isolate themselves, and relentlessly hold on/ harbor resentment toward the one who personally injured them. The narcissist is overly preoccupied with self, and when not properly admired, appreciated, or given a sufficient amount of attention they will withdraw and isolate the self in a kind of narcissistic retreat.

They are characterized by a lack of empathy, devoid of sensitivity and to the feelings of others. The most common archaic injury is the mother who usurped this special baby from its “throne,” its high chair, to make way for a new sibling. Often the narcissist will spend the rest of his or her life in a kind of nostalgia, yearning to recapture the time (or the fantasy) when mommy and baby were one living in harmony and symbiotic bliss.. This is commonly referred to as the original archaic injury or narcissistic injury. In yearning to recreate the early experience or wish of being mother’s special child, the narcissist will then spend the rest of his life living a kind of “narcissistic nostalgia,” yearning to go back to the time when mommy and baby were imagined as one in total symbiotic bliss and harmony. Any threat or reminder of this early trauma triggers profound feelings of not feeling special or being “the only one.” A common statement concern addressing the mental status of a terrorist is that many are highly skilled and educated men. Why then would intelligent, brilliant men do such brainless things? This brings us to the discussion of the ego which helps explain what happens to the ego when it gets overwhelmed and why bright people do or say “stupid things.”

THE EGO AND ITS DYSFUNCTIONALITY

What happens to the ego when it gets overwhelmed is that it goes into fragmentation or “ego default.” This helps us understand why intelligent people do stupid things. This leads us to a brief description of the ego and what happens to the thought process or rational thinking when the ego gets flooded or overwhelmed with persecutory anxiety.

The concept of the ego is very well developed in the work of Freud, Klein and Bion. Melanie Klein’s work is particularly significant because she notes that one of the most pervasive features that occur in the paranoid schizoid position is the splitting of the ego whereby one sees things as either all good or all bad. Not a far cry from terrorists who view the world as all good or all evil. Allah is good and United States is Satan and evil. Another salient features is envy — the desire to destroy that which is most desired or enviable (referred to by Klein as primitive envy). “I want the breast, therefore I will attack it.” “I want the woman therefore I will demean and brutalize her.” “I want peace, therefore I shall create terror.” With all of this the first thing that goes is the ego. The ego is the seat of consciousness, the superior agent responsible for memory, perception, judgment, reality testing and thinking. It is the mediating agent that provides entree to the unconscious. Rational thinking goes down the drain. Overall we’re talking about the impact that defense mechanisms have over the ego. Morrack (2002) refers to the term “the quadrophobic syndrome” (p. 2), as the failure to see that which does not exist.
It is okay to say the Holocaust never existed but it is not okay to draw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. If I were to say to you I think I am Marilyn Monroe you can quickly detect a faulty incapacitated ego. The task of the ego is to present a picture of the external world by eliminating old memory traces left by earlier impressions and perceptions. The ego is an amazing apparatus, often not user friendly in that it resists what it “knows.” The ego absorbs information, integrates it and learns how to sort out good from bad, what is helpful or what is destructive. It has its own internal agent with the capacity to seek out the real from the unreal through the process of reality testing.

PSYCHODYNAMICS AND QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCES

Is it fair to say Islam is a borderline society? The response to this question is not so simple, but it is astonishing how they seem to share many of the same traits, states and characteristics as the clinical borderline personality disorder (splitting, projection, projective identification, magical thinking, shame/blame, envy, paranoia, obsessive idealization of God). The narcissist shares a certain grandiosity and exaggerated sense of entitlement. Governmental abuses and violations must extend beyond the political parameters to encompass the emotional borders with the appreciation of variants between their psychodynamics.

One main difference between the two is shame. In fact, Middle Eastern and Asian societies have been termed by many to be shame cultures (Berton, Lachkar, 1997), as opposed to, say, Germany, which is a guilt culture. These differences are important. Take for example the meanings of self. What self expression means in the West has completely different meaning in Middle Eastern and Asian societies (the “we self” vs. the “me self”). What dependency represents in Japan (amae) has completely different meaning in our culture. Some have referred to both Asian and Middle Eastern societies as shame cultures.
In analyzing group-fantasies around acts of terrorism, I am particularly impressed with Robins and Post (1998) in their book Political Paranoia they view terrorist acts as a perverse way of connecting to the world. They maintain that innocent people are fueled by paranoid delusional leaders who latch onto a piece of reality to justify their causes — e.g., the enviable or “evil” Westerner. Paranoids have enemies; they do not have rivals or adversaries. Enemies are not to be defeated or compromised, but destroyed. People who are paranoid tend to project their hatred and hostility onto others, and they believe their lies are the truth. Leaders like Hussein, Arafat, Milosevic or Bin Laden, under the guise of religion, or “the good cause,” act out their most heinous crimes. Thus their grandiose schemes and omnipotent fantasies find a way to project terror into their objects (us). We become paralyzed: not just fearful but terrorized. After studying such tyrannical leaders such as Hitler, Stalin or Ayatollah Khomeini, researchers find that projection and paranoia are common denominators. If they are projecting, what is it they are projecting? Shame? Guilt? No, envy. Envy is the most salient feature of the borderline personality.

SHOCKING EVENT

While writing this article, the world has just experienced the most shocking event. Israel took an aggressive stand against the Hezbollah who on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 captured two of their Israeli soldiers and killed others when the Hezbollah trespassed into Israel. Israel viewed this as an “act of war,” while Prime Minister Ehud Omert of Israel demanded the return of the two captured soldiers and vowed military aggression would not stop until they were safely returned. Syria and Iran was also held responsible for the attack and escalation of aggression. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah alleged no threat of war or killing would obtain their return.

From a psychohistorical perspective, some question: “Did Israel provoke a war to invite a disaster upon themselves?” In my view the Israel’s found justification in standing up for themselves as a manic defense against an earlier time of victimization and vowed to themselves “Never again!” The larger question is what is it about Jews that incite others to hate them and want to destroy them? How does the role of being the “Chosen ones” fit with the rest of the world? Does this mean the rest of the world is chopped liver?
Because of their narcissism and omnipotent/entitlement fantasies, Jews were able to outshine and go beyond their “Choseness.” They have reached unprecedented levels of achievement (science, medicine, music, entertainment). In the final analysis, Jews got the good breast, the fertile land, the land of Milk and Honey, while the Arabs got the dry barren breast. Because Israel represents democracy, freedom, economic expansion, music and fun “Mitzvahs,” this evokes profound states of envy, hatred, and paranoia, fueling sadistic attacks upon the object of desire, Israel. Thus the projected “Motherland” — the provider of all nurturing capacities — is the poison/toxic breast that must be destroyed. Now Islamic fundamental terrorists are getting some mileage usurping Israel’s entitlement, making Islam into their own creation, a magical world flying high on the wings of Allah.
Since many Arab leaders are a product of very traumatic childhoods with severe deprivation, it likely that they defend against shame by projecting their shameful “dirty” immoral or “bad boy” parts into their external objects to rid themselves of their internal “badness.” These authors note that to accomplish their mission they have to invent or create imaginary enemies to persecute and oppress. DeMause reminds us throughout his work of “war leaders who are poison containers (projection objects/fusion with powerful parents), which he claims is a defense against real punishing parents in childhood making it necessary to defend against inner depression. Another dominant feature is shame. Shame is the preoccupation with what others think and has to do with conformity. Those who fail to comply with the groups’ ideologies are ousted from the group as “infidels.” Shame is persecutory in nature and is associated with isolation and fear of annihilation by the group.
Peter Loewenberg (1986) displays the understanding of group projection in his article, “The Kristallnacht as a Public Degradation in Ritual,” where he illustrates how the Nazis had to evacuate onto the Jews their own dirty parts by projecting onto the Jews as filthy, infectious, parasites to rid themselves of their bad internal introjects, claiming that Jews were ruining German purity. The same paranoid strain may be applied to the enemies of Islam: the infidels are viewed as dangerous invaders into Arab harmony and anyone who intrudes into this space will infect and contaminate them.

CULTURAL RELATIVISM

There are two ways to look at culture. One way is from within (cross-cultural) and the other is looking from without (transcultural). Some critics of human rights abuses attributed them to cultural relativism. They argue that there are traditions, laws, ideologies that justifies the aggression (as long as it is rooted in culture and religion). Endleman (1989) disputes this argument claiming that there is no society in which oedipal involvement is absent, and the mother is the primary object to the young infant. He distinguishes the transcultural from the more commonly used term, “cross-cultural.” The term “transcultural” attests to the position that basic psychic universalities are applicable to all human beings. Needless to say, cultural traditions are not to be neglected, but aggression and mistreatment of women, children and basic human rights are not to be condoned.

This brings up the question often asked: who are we to say that our childrearing practices are better, or even that democracy is better. We might also question how much research and studies on infant/child development in Bagdad or Saudia Arabia has been done? Even the concept of amae in Japanese societies defies all infant developmental studies in terms of the natural sequence of development toward separation-individuation (Berton and Lachkar 1997). To assist us we must turn to the concept of cultural relativism.

CHILDREARING PRACTICES

According to deMause, the roots of terrorism are inextricably linked to childrearing practices, and are a result of an abundance of screaming, neglected, abandoned orphans. He offers a chilling account of life in Islamic fundamentalist societies filled with violence, cruelty, and routine sexual exploitation of children. These are familiar themes in countries that do not stress the importance of healthy child development.

This paper supports the position that both parents are responsible for the child’s development and ego or self identity. It also holds that the Oedipus complex is universal, and that all children go through the similar states of development as described by Western psychologists. Ideally, the mother provides the nurturing and protective capacity while the father helps the child separate and individuate. In the Winnicottian sense, it is the father who provides the “holding environment” and the “transitional space” to help wean the child away from mother to the outer world (Winnicott, 1965). But if the father is emotionally absent, or if the holding environment is damaged or defected, the child’s momentum to drive forward during crucial phases of the separation process becomes thwarted.
In addition, the proclivity toward borderline organization is greatly increased. It is noteworthy that children raised in neglectful, abusive, traumatic environments grow up with defective bonding relations and stay forever connected to the “Mother of Pain,” forming relational bonds that are destructive and painful (traumatic bonding). This takes us to the heart of the matter. As horrific as the pain is, it is preferable to a black hole (Grotstein, 1990). The emptiness is often experienced by the borderline as a black hole, the epicenter of the conflict — anything that gives them some semblance of belonging. “At least I know I am alive. I feel excited. I have meaning and purpose to my life. Better to be an addict, a killer, a rapist, a terrorist, than to vanish into the abyss!”
Kaufman (LA Times B13) states” there is something psychologically profound about Hamas abducting an Israeli soldier. Perhaps without the soldier in their midst, the Palestinians in and of themselves feel no existential purpose.” What would they do without the perpetual agony of conflict with Israel?
Fairbairn more than anyone helps explain why people stay bonded and loyal to their bad internal objects (the rejecting object, the unavailable object, the enviable object). Melanie Klein expanded on the destructive nature of envy; that is, the need to destroy that which is most enviable, desirable, or unattainable. She claims that children who grow up healthy grow up thinking the world is a good, happy and healthy place (the “good breast”). On the other hand, children who grow up with abuse, deprivation/privation, and abandonment grow up thinking the world is bad, dark, dangerous, and persecutory place (the “bad breast”). This leads to splitting. What follows is a wonderful illustration of envy written in an earlier work as “The Psychological Love Dance between Osama and “She America'” (Kobrin and Lachkar, 2002) This is not a far cry from couples traumatically bonded in marital conflict.

THE PATHOLOGICAL ‘LOVE DANCE’
Osama and ‘She’ America

Osama views the US as the Great Satan, the evil partner responsible for all the wrong doings in the world. So envious is Osama of America that he confuses America (his wife) with a piece of property to be owned and controlled. But America has her own life, and because she chooses not to be submissive, suicide bombers and terrorists must destroy her. Because she is the exciting object she is also the “threatening” one (the dangerous enviable domineering materialistic America who intrudes and disrupts Arab unity). Osama submitted his holy self to Allah, yet his other self maintains a lustful attachment with “HER,” America.

MUSLIMS AS AN ORPHAN SOCIETY

The Koran makes many references to orphans. Many leaders in Muslim world have actually been orphaned early in their lives. The Prophet Mohammad himself was an orphan, as were many leaders in the Muslim world. including Yasar Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Both had very traumatic childhoods. It is therefore easy for innocent Muslims to form identification with powerful leaders who offer the group-fantasy of being the ‘good daddy,’ the messiah or messianic savior to a group of abandoned, screaming babies. The abandonment aspects are particularly significant in terms of understanding how many abandoned babies in the Arab world find compensation in bonding or forming an identification with leaders who not only concretize the mythology but are the ones that perpetuate the conflict.

Moussaoui presents a perfect profile for the upbringing of a terrorist. His mother was undernourished and physically and emotionally ill while he was in utero, and his father was a violent alcoholic who abused the family and finally abandoned them (LA Times, A5). Samm Hussein al-Tikriti was born April 18, 1937, in a village of mud-brick huts outside Tikrit, a backwater north of Baghdad. Biographers describe Hussein’s parents as dirt-poor farmers. Others say he was a member from the “petit bourgeoise.” Hussein’s father is said to have died before his birth. Saddam was not wanted by his mother,. He was then given away by her to be raised by a terrorist uncle. His mother remarried. His earliest influence was with his Uncle Khagrallah Tulfah, an army officer stripped of rank by the British after he joined a failed 1941 coup. Not having a father, Hussein’s apparently formed an intense identification with his uncle and tried to please him. Taking the 10-year old Hussein to Baghdad, the older man became his guide through the political maelstrom of postwar Iraq. According to the same reporter, Tulfah had definite theories about Iraqi society. He made them part of the boy’s political education. Later, Tulfah expounded on them in a pamphlet, “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews and Flies.”

IDENTIFICATION WITH LEADERS

Earlier I mentioned how many leaders in the Muslim world were abandoned orphans (ranging from Ishmael to the Prophet Mohammed). It is striking how many experienced horrific abusive childhoods. Saddam Hussein and Arafat are good examples of children who were raised by violent caretakers after the loss or death of a parent. Bin Laden, for example, was one of fifteen children by one of his father’s wives, with another 35 siblings from his father’s other wives. He occasionally met his father. Even they like many Arab youths in polygamist societies, in which there are many children, the father is perceived as absent.

To compare, let’s take Stalin’s and Hilter’s father: even they though they were violent and abusive drunks, their fathers were still perceived as having a strong presence. When an Arab man takes another woman, she doesn’t live with the former wife and her husband, but in another house, or tent, and there she raises her children. Every group of children rotates not around the father but around the mother. The husband may go there once a week or once a month. If she is not the preferred one, her children will never meet or play with their father. Allah becomes the symbolic father that fills the void/ black hole and becomes the replacement for him. Distorted as this may seem, as bad as Hilter’s and Stalin’s fathers were, at least, for Hilter, their sexuality was their German and Russian women never had imposed veils and chadors.
Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty for the September 9/11 plot. His profile fits with many other terrorists in the Muslim world. Moussaoui ran away from a violent alcoholic father. Young, vulnerable, insecure, isolated, he was perfect prey for recruits looking for young Muslim men to join Jihad. Psychohistorians and governmental analysts are continually trying to understand why such young susceptible boys become terrorists and why others identify and idealize them. I believe the answer lies in group psychology and the psychodynamics of cults. Paul R. Martin (LA Times, p. A 4 2006), an expert on cults, reports Moussaoui presents the classic case of a susceptible young man brainwashed by Islamic radicals in London during the mid-1990’s who get swept away by the seduction of the recruits who offer them power, prestige, and a sense of belonging or any promise or semblance of bonding (Lachkar 1993; Mayer 1993, pp. 332–348), even if it means loss, death, self-destruction or self-sacrifice. “I am no longer an outcast!”
The Jihad offers a perfect container for someone like Moussaoui to translocate pent up rage and hatred. In order to maintain this bond, people in groups who are dominated by primitive defenses need to find an enemy into which to project their inner sense of badness. Israel is the projected target or any country that supports Israel. “Israel is our enemy! They are the interlopers into Arab unification and symbiotic harmony between our brotherhood. We must get rid of them and drive the Jews into the sea!” Not all leaders reinforce aggression; Gandhi, for one, was a champion of “peace for all.” Leaders who are the most likely to survive and who inflame the conflict and aggression are the ones who best perpetuate the group’s ideologies, mythologies, and collective group-fantasies.
Just as an individual can identify with certain abusive destructive partners in a domestic relationship, people in groups can identify with destructive leaders. At the macro level, a paranoid leader may not be a far cry from a partner in a domestic relationship. Groups form a “trance,” an intense identification with a delusional leader that reinforces the group’s mythological fantasies. However, in reality there is a duality; the leader who can be cruel and sadistic can also be loving and kind. Aggression and cruelty reinforce the libidinal ties in the group as long as there are outsiders (or “bad” insiders) onto whom envy can be projected. Often these are charismatic, albeit pathologically disturbed, leaders who are paranoid and/or schizophrenic. They offer the group a collective fantasy or mythological fantasy of being their “savior daddy.” Classic examples of such leaders are Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, for instance, is a pathological narcissist with antisocial features, a fascist, and a psychopath (Doder 1999).
Leaders who play out the pervading myths express the group’s dysfunctionality and form a most powerful and intimate connection with the group. The leader knows how to play on the group’s omnipresent fear of imminent danger (real or imagined) from outside forces. In regressive dependency groups, the dominant features are blame, attack, getting back at any cost. Themes such as “Drive the Jews into the Sea,” “Return to the Land of Milk and Honey,” Land for Peace,” “Save Serbia,” are too familiar themes. When tensions surge, members resort to shame/blame, fight/flight, and scapegoating. The group searches for an enemy to blame and a leader/messiah who will save the group from calamity.
Plagued by this way of thinking, the psychohistorian might ask such questions as: How can a country like Germany, so heavily invested in morality, Christian values, and orderliness, suddenly create a sea of horror, a flood of blood, diarrhea and filth? Similarly, how can a country such as Japan, so invested in saving face, in displaying obedience and respect for elders, suddenly engage in unspeakable brutalities and atrocities with the Chinese and Koreans?

ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

No discussion about the Middle East would be complete without mention of the position of women in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, this would require another paper; nevertheless the role of women in the Middle East is well known, in that their subjugation to men is still widespread. The Koran teaches men have authority over women because Allah had made man to be superior. She has no rights, no vote and very little self esteem. In Iraq, many women live in virtual terror ; in fact, several women activists, businesswomen, or those who dressed immodestly have been attacked and killed.

Women are your fields, go to them into your field as you please. (Koran, 2:2223).

Women’s issues are not only prevalent in the Middle East, they are universal concerns. According to Kernberg, (1994) masochism is more prevalent among men. Men tend to form fusion with the rejecting mother which creates deep-rooted fears and threats to their masculinity. Men who feel insecure/inadequate worry that that they will act like mother, and vigorously defend against this is two ways: through the disparagement of her or by grandiosity – blowing up their own masculinity, becoming tough, powerful, aggressive, and for the most part unemotional and insensitive. Kernberg (1994) claims that men tend to be more sadistic in nature than women.
Women around the world carry very different perceptions as to the meaning of abuse: what constitutes abuse? In Saudi Arabia, Muslim women view American women as being abused and sexually exploited by having to live in isolation, without extended families providing a community, by their domains of single family dwellings, by having to work while raising a family, by having to live in a society increasingly dominated by a drug culture, climbing divorce rates. Conversely, American women view these Muslim women as being abused by having to be submissive to men, treated as second class citizens, in other words, seen as men’s possessions or “cattle.”
In noting the differences between American and Muslim women, American woman will be hard pressed to understand a Saudi Arabian woman who, for example, has a child taken away from her. In the United States, the American woman would fight to her last breath for her child; yet, in Saudi Arabia the woman will deal with her loss within her own group, using the group as a “container” to ward off her pain either through repression or denial. Subject to systematic discrimination by cultural customs that relegate her to an inferior and unequal status, she will accept her “fate.” In Middle Eastern and Eastern cultures, cultural transgressions are enacted masochistically with the child’s, either extreme compliance and submission or extreme aggression and violence toward parents or others (“hard work” sacrificial self, or the “saving face” self , neurotically externalized in sadistic or perverse fashions (Nakikuki, 1994).

CONCLUSION 1

If a Muslim advocates peace they are considered as traitors, someone fighting against peace and betraying God (Allah). If they confront the hypocrisy, they are ridiculed, shamed, ostracized or even killed. If they advocate peace they are admonished for being infidels. This presents a bitter paradox. We can continue diplomacy, with dialogues, face to face discussion meetings with the enemy. Or one can try to enter peace discussions through the back door, bonding with the enemy through art, music, books, food, fashion, stories, and dance. The Muslims can suppress art and creativity in their country, but in no way can they obliterate it here. Other than China under the rule of the Quin/Gh’ing Dynansty, no other country oppressed their people as much by shutting down all artistic endeavors.

So what do we do with terrorists and leaders who support acts of terror and human rights violations? There are no simple answers. Psychohistory ventures beyond the political, social and historical aspects to help explain the unconscious motivational forces. We may not have the answers about how to negotiate with a terrorist or paranoid leaders, but what I have been attempting to illustrate in this article is a discussion about the borderline personality as presenting one of the most difficult therapeutic challenges, and hopefully this understanding can lead to new ways to bond with our enemy.
First, because of the tendency to bond with pain (internal bad objects), there is the the bizarre tendency to reject anything good that is offered, and even when it is accepted it is never enough. They become insatiable. More drugs, more food, more sex, More land!. “More! More! ” Give an inch they’ll take a mile. Secondly, because of the tendency to distort, project and their reliance on magical thinking, promises are never a promise. It is the will of Allah! Inshallah! Thirdly, because, unlike the narcissist, borderlines do not respond to empathy, interpretation, compassion and often confuse empathy with weakness, they need strict boundaries, hard objects and tough love to provide the containment they require (as opposed to the narcissist who responds more to mirroring. .Lastly, they suffer from ego dysfuntionality. Any reminder of betrayal/abandonment can stir up early reminders of immense emotional trauma. Furthermore, they will twist, distort, self sacrifice, retaliate, get even or do anything at any cost to prove they exist.

In 2000, Arafat rejected a generous offer for a West Bank/Gaza Strip Palestinian state and billions of dollars in compensation at both the Camp David summit and in the Clinton plan. Instead, he led the Palestinians to five more years of disastrous war, which not only left them with more casualties but also with a wrecked infrastructure and shattered international image.

On a more positive note this in no way should hinder our continual efforts for peace negotiation, through diplomacy, negotiations, and peace dialogues. We must continue our efforts to bond, through culture exchanges, dance, music, art, cooking fashion, and even perhaps by using techniques similar to those used in marital therapy. Most importantly, we must continue our support for women, children and human rights throughout the Arab world, and to continue our work with peace counselors as strongly proposed by psychohistorians.
Peace counselors are trained diplomats in the arena of international relations and negotiations who are also trained in psychotherapy and family therapy, as described by deMause in his article on “Peace counseling: A New Profession” (2005). In other words, if we are to cure our enemies, we must first find ways to understand them, and to sit down with them over a period of time. And when representatives from both sides do meet, the mediators of these panels should first and foremost address their mutual cultural V-spots as would a marriage counselor.
Where Inshallah was, ego shall be!

Conclusion 2

Does the key to understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict go back to ancient biblical times? Have only time and space changed? Has the Arab-Israeli conflict had a set of emotional configurations which remain the same? Is each new “trauma” or “injury” but a reminder or a reenactment of the original experience, as in the biblical stories, like a post-traumatic stress disorder? Mythologically speaking, Arabs are viewed as the dark children of God, the split off brothers of the Jews. Unlike Jews, the myth implies that Arabs were cheated out of their birthright, a special experience with God. Both Arabs and share similar defenses, both may feel displaced, and abandoned, but how that abandonment experienced or acted out is what accounts for their pervasive differences. Again, not all Arabs and Jews adhere to these myths, but the ones who do are the directors and choreographers of their own wars, both real and fantasized.
_____________________

Joan Lachkar, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in private practice in Brentwood and Tarzana, California, is the author of The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (2nd Edition), The Many Faces of Abuse: Treating the Emotional Abuse of the High -Functioning Women The “V” Spot ( forthcoming), How to Talk to a Narcissist (forthcoming), and numerous publications on marital and political conflict. She is an affiliate member and instructor at the New Center for Psychoanalysis, an adjunct professor at Mount Saint Mary’s College, a psychohistorian, on the editorial board of the Journal of Emotional Abuse, and is currently writing her new book on Aggression and Cruelty in Cross-Cultural Couple.

The author’s, The Psychopathology of Terrorism: A Cultural V Spot, was published in the Fall, 2006, (Vol. 34, No.2) issue of The Journal of Psychohistory.

Now For the Other Secret American Contractor In Pakistan’s Courts

Peshawar court rejects bail for US national

Aaron Mark De HavenUS national Aaron Mark De Haven. — Photo by APP

PESHAWAR: A court in northwest Pakistan Monday rejected the bail application of an American said to have been working for a private security company who is accused of overstaying his visa.

“The bail application of Aaron Mark De Haven has been rejected because he had no legal documents,” public prosecutor Javed Ali told AFP in Peshawar.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States are already strained over the arrest last month of a CIA contractor identified as Raymond Davis, who has been charged with murder for shooting dead two men in Lahore.

The United States, insisting that Davis has diplomatic immunity, is demanding his release.

De Haven was taken into custody on Friday from the Falcon Complex, a residential area in Peshawar.

Police say his Pakistani visa had expired in October, and that he was working for security contractor Catalyst Services, providing security and accommodation to foreigners working on development projects in the region.

On Saturday a court remanded De Haven in custody for 14 days and on Monday, a magistrate rejected defence lawyer Sardar Raza’s argument that he should be freed on bail because he had no prior criminal record.

The US embassy in Islamabad said Saturday that consular representatives had met De Haven, “as they would with any private American citizen”.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the Pakistani authorities and respect the Pakistani legal process,” an embassy statement said.

Water–the Most Serious Issue for Pakistan

[SEE: Central Asia Warring Over Water]

The more serious issue

AS I write this, the wheels are in motion to resolve the Raymond Davis impasse. Ambassador Hussain Haqqani has met US special envoy Marc Grossman in Washington; Gen Kayani has met Adm Mike Mullen in Oman. No doubt, US and Pakistani government officials are thrashing out the details of a mutually palatable resolution to the diplomatic fiasco.

For the first time in weeks, the conversation among Pakistan observers in Washington does not revolve around Davis. Instead, it focuses on a new US Senate Foreign Relations Committee report about the impact of water scarcity on regional stability in South Asia. The juxtaposition of these two issues — Davis and dams — should give Pakistanis pause to think.

The lesson from the Davis affair — no matter how it concludes — is that realpolitik will triumph over petty politics. By the latter, I am referring to the manner in which our diplomacy has been conducted over the past month, not its validity, nor the merits and demerits of its outcome. Certainly, the Davis case has raised extremely serious issues about US-Pakistan relations: US ground presence within our borders, intelligence-sharing protocols, inter-ministry and inter-agency transparency and more. These must be investigated and addressed in a prompt manner. But the Pakistani establishment’s handling of the case also deserves scrutiny.

As Davis’s incarceration presented more complications, the authorities created an echo chamber of anti-Americanism as a political strategy of bilateral engagement. The national media — rather than diplomatic cables — was used to transmit messages between the concerned governments. Pakistan’s intelligence agencies allegedly leaked reports to both local and international media outlets in order to air grievances with the CIA.

For their part, senior Pakistani politicians used the media to highlight disagreements with each other, their political parties and the US government. All the while, journalists enjoyed free rein to demonise Davis and disseminate the wildest conspiracy theories about the particulars of his case.

In short, Pakistan took its strategy of using public opinion as a tool of foreign relations a few steps too far.

But populism and emotionalism are the tricks of amateur politics. As one senior Pakistani government official put it, politicians may think they are playing to the gallery to win approval, but they are inadvertently creating galleries with divergent interests and expectations. The Davis case drives home this point: although the Pakistan government and military remain willing to engage with the US, the public has been hardened against the notion of a strategic partnership — and that’s putting it mildly. The takeaway here is that sensationalism cannot substitute for statecraft.

And this brings us to the second issue of water scarcity and security. If the reliance on manipulated and mediated politics is a reflection of our civilian officials’ capacity for handling sensitive, high-stakes foreign policy predicaments, then we’re in real trouble. The fact is, the presence of Raymond Davises in Pakistan (if indeed they exist in significant number) poses far less a threat to the country — its integrity, sovereignty, and prosperity — than the very real problem of water scarcity.

Pakistan is estimated to be a water-scarce country by 2025, with only 1,000 per capita cubic metres of internal renewable water (down from 2,961 cubic metres in 2000). The current water table is falling by more than two metres per year. Almost 97 per cent of all withdrawals from the Indus waters are for agricultural irrigation purposes. That means water scarcity will quickly translate into food insecurity — a terrifying prospect in a nation where 77 million are already going hungry and 45 million are chronically malnourished. The Pakistan Army has already expressed concerns about water scarcity, pointing to a future in which access to water is seen as a benchmark of national security.

Many of the solutions to Pakistan’s water problems are internal, involving improved irrigation infrastructure, efficiency and management. But as our Foreign Office was quick to point out, the US Senate report also confirms Pakistan’s concerns about India’s ability to limit water supply to Pakistan in the future. In theory, the report suggests, India could use the cumulative capacity of 33 projects — currently at various stages of development — to Pakistan’s detriment.

Given the trans-border dimensions of Pakistan’s water problems, our politicians must be open to discussion, compromise and agreements. The needs of the hour are collaborative projects such as joint river basin analysis, glacial monitoring, monsoon prediction and agriculture policy reform. The Indus Water Treaty may need to be revisited in light of climate change, glacial melt, evolving energy needs and demographic booms in both Pakistan and India. Productive engagement on these issues and initiatives, the report emphasises, could be a basis for peace and cooperation rather than conflict.

If the Davis case is anything to go by, however, our establishment may choose to handle water tensions through a vilification campaign. A precedent for this has already been set: in the wake of the 2010 flooding, Pakistanis accused India of releasing excess water into the Chenab River to exacerbate the inundation. Conversely and perversely, Pakistan has previously complained that India has hoarded water. As climate change causes more erratic water levels in coming years, can we expect more heated rhetoric, leaked statements, and pointed fingers?

If the Pakistani authorities are truly investing in promoting and securing the national interest, they will have to develop a culture of mature politics. Rather than game-playing, they will have to assemble a diplomatic toolbox that can facilitate game-changing. It will take more than hysteria, media savvy and personalised attacks to successfully engage in international diplomacy, especially on issues as primal as water supply. Ultimately, if Pakistan hopes to achieve its foreign policy objectives, its politicians will have to promote an appreciation for realpolitik rather than reality TV among constituents.

The writer is the Pakistan Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, D.C.

huma.yusuf@gmail.com

‘Revolution Movement’: Youths protest against US presence

Members of the Pakistan Revolution Movement hold a demonstration in Lahore on February 27, 2011. PHOTO: NNI

LAHORE: Two demonstrations by young people protesting various aspects of the American presence in Pakistan were staged in the city on Sunday. The organisers of both protests vowed to hold much larger rallies next month.

Around 250 people gathered at Liberty roundabout under the banner of a group called the Pakistan Future Forum to protest at the Raymond Davis killings. They gave speeches condemning American policies and expressing sympathy with Davis’ alleged victims. Some emphasised that they condemned American policies but were not trying to incite anti-Americanism.

Advocate Adnan Ahsan Khan, a member of the forum, said that this was the third meeting of the group, organised via Facebook and Twitter, and each meeting had been larger than the previous ones. “Today’s meeting was to let the members of the forum raise their concerns, decide the future agenda and delegate duties,” he said

He said 30,000 people had pledged online to attend the next meeting, planned for March 3, and he expected that number to grow to 50,000. He said that the next target of the group’s protest would be the present government system. “We will change the culture of corruption and bribery,” he said.

Some 150 people calling themselves the Pakistan Revolution Movement gathered at the Lahore Press Club, in another protest organised on Facebook. The protesters, who included Khaksaar Tehreek activists, chanted slogans demanding that all American spies be kicked out of Pakistan and marched towards the US consulate.

The protesters demanded that Davis be tried and hanged in Pakistan and that the government not try to grant him diplomatic immunity.

They vowed to hold a bigger rally on March 23 when they would march on Islamabad and urged young people, particularly fresh graduates with professional degrees, to join them.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2011.

Battle In Wisconsin: Protesters Locked In Defiant Capital

Battle In Wisconsin: Protesters Locked In Defiant Capital

wisconsin-protests1For the last two weeks, within the dense halls of Wisconsin’s Capitol building, a battle has been raging. While originally stirred after Republican Governor Scott Walker introduced a controversial budget bill, the conflict has evolved into a state suffocating brawl; one, that has pitted public sector employees and their union supporters against Republican politicians. Two weeks ago, in a bold maneuver designed to prevent the labor bill from passing, union workers and lay citizens seized the Wisconsin Capitol building, and Democratic senators fled the state. Early this morning, protesters were given until 4pm to leave the capital buildings, after which time police were to be called in to remove remaining protesters by force. Despite calls for calm, as the day rolled on, the probability of conflict escalated. As one labor union leader noted, “We have the right to be here. This is the people’s house. This is a house of labor. This is a house that Wisconsin built!” Yet in a somewhat anti-climactic manner, 4pm came and passed with little activity. Shortly after 4pm, a temporary impasse was reached, with the authorities notifying protesters that they could remain in the Capitol buildings until tomorrow. So what’s next? Well for one, while both sides rest, the quiet night has given many the opportunity to stop and wrestle with the important questions raised by this pivotal political and economic stalemate. Are the proposed changes to union bargaining rights necessary – as the governor has argued – to stop an over-zealous union who has been accused of using its strength to bludgeon required fiscal reform initiatives? Is the legislation proposed by governor Walker a genuine attack on individual rights and personal freedoms; one, which may be indicative of changes to labor bargaining power which may emerge in other states facing budgetary reform? And finally, what compromises, if any, must be made to bring this prickly issue to a quick and productive conclusion?

When one surveys the crisis, one thing that continues to stand out is the diversity and strength of opinions held by the various actors. Tonight for example, despite defiant challenges from opposition Democratic leaders and union spokespeople, Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker remained assertive, arguing that the proposed legislation contained the right tools necessary for long term fiscal reform and sustainability within the state. In an interview with NBC, the governor argued that “Wisconsin is broke, and unions consistently use their power to block necessary cost-saving measures. It’s about time somebody stood up and told the truth in this state, and said, ‘Here’s our problem, here’s the solution,’ and acted on it. Because if we don’t, we fail to make a commitment to the future.”

While some were sympathetic, others continued to struggle with this position, arguing that the accusations surrounding union blockages were over-stated. In fact, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued later, “This isn’t about the budget crisis.” Rather, as he suggested, these protests are in response to a fundamental assault on collective bargaining rights that are vitally important for the long term productivity of the state and the nation. As Trumka clarified, “Protesters are fundamentally upset with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights. Governors that are willing to sit down and work with their employees can work out problems. We can solve them. But that’s not what Governor Walker is doing. He says, ‘I won’t talk to you.’ ” This strong tone follows similar perspectives expressed by many other union leaders who agree that the governor is using financial arguments as a deceit. In fact, as Randi Weingarten noted in an interview with the American Federation of Teachers, “Workers have already said publicly that they would take the cuts to take-home pay that he has asked for here. So this is a ruse to shift power to his friends, because at the same time what he said was that he wanted to give tax breaks to the friends who put him into power.” So who is correct?

For starters, it is hard to argue that the proposed legislation does not attack the right of workers to collectively bargain. In fact, after reading the Republican bill passed by the Wisconsin Assembly, it is clear that passing of this bill would see the bulk of state workers collective-bargaining rights reduced. As one CNN analyst noted, “Among other things, the measure would require workers — with the exception of police and firefighters — to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.” On the other hand, a close examination of the state’s public financial records reveals that Wisconsin faced a budget shortfall that requires decisive, coordinated action. Unfortunately, while many residents of the state admit that fiscal revisions are necessary – and are willing to support these changes – the strong rhetoric coming out of many coffee shops, towns, and cities across Wisconsin hint at the fact that many Wisconsin citizens do not believe that Governor Walker’s plan will change the fate of Wisconsin for the better. In fact, many seem willing to wait for a better outcome. Both citizens and political critics have openly criticized Governor Walker as being an idealist who is secretly looking to end the collective bargaining power of employees. These criticisms have prevented the governor from having constructive debate regarding the financial future of the state. Furthermore, many others disagree fundamentally with the argument that reductions in the ability to bargain will lead to increases in fiscal productivity. As one individual noted, that message “is ridiculous because collective bargaining is the way to increase quality, not reduce it.”

With such diametrically opposed opinions, the challenge of predicting how, and when the conflict might be resolved, remains difficult. In fact, as tensions rise and time passes, it is reasonable to believe that a major conflict between the two sides is likely to erupt before the end comes near. With both sides unwilling to bend, the biggest question centers around timing. For now, the best thing that supporters can do is hunker down and wait while the Republican state leadership decides which hand to play next. One can only hope that, for the sake of the state, the people, its businesses, and its children, when those cards are played, the results will help bridge, rather than widen, the economic and political divisions emerging within Wisconsin.

Nathaniel Payne is a researcher and teaching assistant at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. He is also an instructor in the School of Business at The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

Still Crankin’ Out Nukes After 65 Years of Production

U.S. trims its nuclear arsenal while upgrading production

By DONALD BRADLEY

The Kansas City Star

The construction site of the new billion-dollar Honeywell plant in south Kansas City is quite the head-turner.

Workers everywhere, trucks scurrying about like mice, monster earth movers, cranes reaching to the sky and enough trailers to start a retirement community. All on 185 acres inside a perimeter fence and under a wind-whipped Old Glory.

But drive past the former bean field on Missouri 150 enough times and the thought occurs: Kansas City produces parts for every nuclear weapon now in our arsenal. The country is making more nuclear bombs, has been building them virtually non-stop for 65 years, hasn’t used one against an enemy since 1945, and a significant new arms reduction treaty went into effect just this month.

Nine thousand warheads, about a quarter capable of being triggered tomorrow, is a lot of product sitting around.

Any is too many, critics said. “Modernization” is a joke, just more of the world-threatening, same-old, same-old madness.

Others counter that the world cannot “disinvent” the bomb. What the country needs, they said, is to scrap the big nukes in the stockpile — hardly a deterrent — for smaller, tactical ones that potential enemies think we would actually use.

The $85 billion upgrade of our bomb-making infrastructure in Kansas City with Honeywell and at other locations is occurring 50 years after President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his farewell address of the military-industrial complex and its “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power.”

It’s also taking place two years after President Barack Obama told the world in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, that the United States was committed to ridding itself of nuclear weapons.

“Today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” he said to the cheers of 20,000 people.

He had the backing of the so-called “Gang of Four” — former secretaries of state George Shultz, William Perry and Henry Kissinger and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, all foreign policy heavyweights — who called in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2007 for worldwide nuclear disarmament.

Then late last year, Obama won Senate approval of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). Under it, strategic nuclear missile launchers will be cut in half in seven years. More than 100 missile silos, bomber wings and submarine launch tubes will be taken off-line.

America’s immediately usable warheads will be halved to 1,550, with the option of possibly jamming a few hundred more onto bombers.

So what happened? How did the administration get from Prague to that soybean field in south Kansas City, where ever more non-nuclear warhead components — the electronics, arming, fusing, firing packages — will be churned out?

The answer, said experts, even those opposed to nuclear weapons, is that no matter how many START treaties are ratified, complete disarmament is unlikely to ever happen because the knowledge and technology are in the open.

The realistic and responsible course now is to maintain a safe, reliable deterrent to nuclear attack, they said.

More specifically, the experts go on, Obama needed Republican votes to get New START approved, so he agreed to continue the expensive modernization plan.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, in explaining his vote on the Senate floor in December made no effort to make the deal sound anything but quid pro quo:

“I will vote to ratify the New START treaty with Russia because it leaves our country with enough nuclear warheads to blow any attacker to kingdom come and because the president has committed to an $85 billion, 10-year plan to make sure that those weapons work.”

A major protest by Midwest Catholic Worker groups is scheduled for May 2 at the new Honeywell site. Frank Cordaro, a Des Moines anti-nuke protester who has been arrested at the construction site, agrees a deal was made.

“Obama needed the war mongrels to go along,” Cordaro said. “It was easy to flim flam Americans because the public is so militarized, so caught up in being an empire.”

But James Carafano, a defense expert for the Heritage Foundation, said talk of a nuclear-free world was fantasy.

“Disarmament is like cops giving up their guns,” he said.

Noting that a nuclear blast over a major American city would kill thousands and cost trillions, he said, “The consequences of getting it wrong are too great.

“If you ask people if they want nuclear weapons to be safe and reliable, they’re going to say yes. Old ones that may or may not work are not a credible deterrent.”

Experts agree that Obama’s Prague speech was more global posturing than realistic policy goal and that our nation is unlikely ever to fold its top hand in the high stakes game of nuclear deterrent.

Uncertain shelf life

Since August 1945, when “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” ushered in the nuclear age, the United States and the Soviet Union have spent billions of dollars building and stockpiling nuclear weapons.

The U.S. arsenal peaked with about 30,000 warheads in the 1960s; the Soviets topped out at about 40,000 in the 1980s.

Conventional wisdom is that a nuclear bomb has a shelf life. They go bad … maybe … we think. Since nuclear testing has been banned since 1991, it’s hard to know for sure.

The uncertainty has kept plants like Kansas City’s busy. The military didn’t want to risk “duds,” so bombs routinely were refit with new parts.

“We used to think parts wore out after 20 years or so,” said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. “So we were constantly dismantling and putting on new parts.”

Having even less confidence in their bombs, the Soviets assumed a 10-year shelf life.

Now, most experts think the U.S. components actually could be good for a hundred years.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 didn’t change much, although Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine decided against being nuclear powers and turned their warheads over to Moscow.

Still, the nuclear club has grown, from the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China originally, then India, Pakistan, Israel and, most worrisome, North Korea.

Iran reportedly is enriching uranium but is believed to be some years from its first warhead.

Owen Cote at Massachusetts Institute of Technology said it may be good politics to talk disarmament but the worry was that some weapons states could agree to dismantle but then keep those parts close to alert status.

“We can’t create conditions to get to zero,” Cote said.

Cordaro disagrees. Other countries are simply following the U.S. lead, he argued.

“Those other countries are no threats to us,” he said. “They are only aping us. They would stop if we would.”

Although anti-missile systems are being debated and deployed against some nations, many believe the first nuclear attack on U.S. soil is more likely from an enemy undeterred by what sits in our silos or undersea-launch tubes.

The biggest worry is that a terrorist group, such as al-Qaida, could lay hands on a black market nuke or create a radiation-spewing “dirty bomb.” Even in that case, it would be hard to find a target at which to fire nuclear weapons in response.

Terrorism is a poor man’s war, Cordaro noted. War is a rich man’s terrorism.

The modernizing effort

On Feb. 18, 1943, with the outcome of World War II unsettled, ground was broken in Bear Creek Valley in rural Tennessee for a factory to enrich plutonium. A month later, J. Robert Oppenheimer arrived in New Mexico to discover that Los Alamos housing for his bomb designers wasn’t ready, but the Army had arranged stays at dude ranches.

Sixty-five years later, those two facilities today remain vital to America’s nuclear weapons infrastructure.

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge will get $6 billion in improvements and expansion as part of the modernization. The plant, which employs about 6,000 workers, makes the “secondary” for bombs — the part that makes them thermonuclear.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, with 11,700 employees, is home to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility, which is key to creating new plutonium pits, the “primary” components of warheads. New facilities there will cost about $5 billion.

The rest of the modernization funding will go over time for smaller facilities, clean-ups and for the new or refurbished weapons themselves.

From 2000 to 2010, the Kansas City plant shipped nearly 1,000 MSAD (mechanical safe arming detonator) kits, a safety component that prevents accidental or unintended detonation of a nuclear warhead.

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, in recent years the plant, built during World War II to make engines for Navy fighter planes, has evolved into “science-based manufacturing.”

Now the facility is under fire by current and former employees, environmentalists and residents about issues of massive pollution and illnesses that remain unresolved. A cleanup could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Here’s a quirk about the new plant:

“Kansas City will be the only city in world that owns a weapons plant — let alone a nuclear weapons plant,” said Chris Paine of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group.

“There is absolutely no reason to build this plant. This place will have ponds and bike paths, a suburban monument to nuclear weapons.”

Jay Coghlan of Nukewatch said the Clinton administration considered closing the Kansas City plant.

“This terrified Kansas City politicians, even though it made no sense to build the new plant. They wanted to keep those jobs.”

Bombs at Whiteman

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, formed by Manhattan Project veterans who started the Doomsday Clock, more than 9,000 warheads are stored at 18 locations in 12 states and six European countries.

Today, about 2,700 are considered operational, 2,500 in reserve and the rest awaiting dismantlement.

The biggest concentration of the operational nukes is at the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at Bangor, Wash., which sends out Ohio-class submarines operating in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Air Force has about 500 warheads on long-range bombers, such as the B-2A Spirits clustered at Whiteman Air Force Base east of Kansas City.

An additional 450 or so warheads are on ballistic missiles in the American West; the remainder at eight military bases spread through Europe. The United States is the only country that deploys nuclear weapons in other countries.

That means the push for more sophisticated weapons and delivery systems will continue because, as if in response to the famous Rodney King question, no, countries of the world cannot all get along.

But then doesn’t that mean that this country will forever be building nuclear bombs?

Not forever, Carafano said.

“Some day the sun’s going to burn out.”


How many nukes?
The exact number of nuclear weapons is not known, as each country guards the number closely. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that the global nuclear inventory is approximately 22,400. Most are in possession by the United States or Russia.12,000

Nukes in Russia’s arsenal

9,400

Nukes in the United States’ arsenal

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send e-mail to dbradley@kcstar.com. Source: Federation of American Scientists


Gwadar: An unfulfilled dream

Gwadar: An unfulfilled dream

My trip to the ‘dream city’ of Gwadar is preceded by a reality check: “The situation here is volatile,” warns my friend, “Baloch political activists routinely disappear and are killed.”

But that does nothing to deter me. Balochistan is a province with rich deposits of oil, gas, gold, copper and rare earth metals and Gwadar, one of its largest cities, is the hub that crystallises its potential. Despite the constant barrage of bad news from the province — “militants blow up gas pipeline” is now a staple news item — Gwadar still conjures up images of pristine beaches and rugged mountains and evokes the same mood of optimism that was generated eight years ago when the development of the port city first begun.

The Gwadar deep-sea port project was announced in 2002, when former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf promised to transform Balochistan’s destiny by an equitable distribution of resources. Inaugurating it in March 2007, the autocratic leader not only ensured the timely completion of the mega project, he also got the Chinese government to finance and execute the development of the port’s facilities. So far, an estimated Rs5 billion ($264 million) have been poured into the project for the construction of three multi-purpose berths with a capacity to handle ships of up to 50,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT).

But when I visit the port, I see the cranes lying idle and deserted. A port official informs me that the cargo handling cranes received a large fertiliser shipment some five months. Nothing much has moved since.

Instead, the harbour has become a hub of oil smuggling thanks to the absence of regulated petroleum products in the city. Launches from Iran arrive at the harbour loaded with cheap petrol and diesel. The cheap Iranian oil provides livelihoods to thousands of people who fetch the shipments from the Iranian border and dispatch it to other parts of Balochistan.

This inferior oil’s popularity is soaring thanks to increasing petroleum prices in Pakistan. According to Wasim (not his real name), an oil smuggler, the Pakistani Coast Guard, Pakistan Customs, Levies and other border control agencies are in on the game. “All a smuggler needs to do is to grease the palms of the ‘law-enforcement’ officers to get their shipments smuggled anywhere without hassle,” he claimed, pointing out large yellow petroleum cans that were being off-loaded from a launch.

Most of the locals in the area are fishermen, but they face a two-pronged challenge: first, they have to deal with the smugglers who pollute the water by plying oil in their launches, and secondly they have to deal with poachers who trawl illegally in Pakistan’s maritime waters, denying local fishermen their catch. “Local fishermen are suffering terribly… illegal foreign launches trawl in our water and snatch away their livelihood,” says Qambar Nisar, a fisheries department officer.  “We don’t have the means to defend our coast. Sometimes we carry fake weapons and limited fuel to ward off attacks by well-equipped invaders. We fear for our lives.”

The mega development of Gwadar offered mega dreams on sale. Not long after the deep-sea port project was announced, the property market boomed with Gwadar’s prime land up for grabs. Locals sold their land at throwaway prices to real estate developers who rebranded the estates and sold them to investors from other provinces at many times the original price. The elite lined up to purchase acres of residential and commercial land in what was touted as ‘Pakistan’s future Dubai’.

The property bubble burst when Baloch leader Akbar Bugti was killed in his hideout in the hills of Dera Bugti in 2006. Strikes erupted across the region, and law and order (the writ of the state) in the province collapsed, with enraged political activists joining the insurgents and staging attacks on the security apparatus in the province.

“I used to have a booming property business but it is all gone now. Investors withdrew their capital and fled the market,” says Qambar Nisar who now works for Gwadar Fisheries. “Every other day we hear about the disappearance of young Baloch activists. Their mutilated bodies are later discovered in isolated places,” he laments the worsening situation. “Sometimes Baloch towns and cities remain closed for three days in mourning. How can we do business in this situation?”

In New Town and Sangar — the city’s prime housing estates —land lay idle with little or no construction going on. Some government projects were being worked on at a snail’s pace. Wealthy buyers keep this land as an investment while many of the mid-level buyers have sold it cheaply in order to recover their money. Everyone, it seems, lacks trust in the government.

Gwadar does have a -star hotel for those who fancy a luxury vacation but it closed recently because of deteriorating law and order. Brand new dual carriageways, a hospital, a college, courts, and residential complexes have been built but are yet to be operational. The Gwadar Development Authority has overseen the development of the new city since 2003, but has not touched the old city since it had not been given the mandate to uplift old Gwadar. As a result, the city’s main Airport Road lies in ruins. The Federal Government in Islamabad decides the city’s fate and releases the funds ‘when and where needed’.

Meanwhile, locals no longer trust policy makers. After selling their land cheaply, they are concerned that the changing demographics will make them an ethnic minority in their own province. The port construction projects did not generate employment for the local Balochs who, despite lacking the technical skills and experience, were determined to become the backbone of development.

However, the contractors preferred the cheaper and better-trained labour from other parts of the country. The denial of jobs to the locals, as a result, generated frustration and fanned the flames of ethnic conflict.

“The people living in Gwadar are genuinely concerned about the demographic shift after the development of the port. They fear the port city’s massive growth will sideline them and they’ll lose their houses, lands and livelihood,” says Shey Mansoor, an official at the Gwadar Development Authority.

It wasn’t always so. When Gwadar was incorporated into Pakistan in September 1958, with the Sultan of Oman ceding control to General Ayub Khan, the local population welcomed the change. “I was a child at the time but I remember how Gwadar’s people celebrated when the peninsula joined the rest of Balochistan and Pakistan,” says Khuda Bukhsh, a former local government officer. “Back then we were happy to be part of Pakistan and believed things would change. Not a lot has changed for the better though. Yesterday we were happy to be part of you and today we’re unhappy. Something must have gone wrong in between, don’t you think?” he quizzes.

This resentment is born of a feeling of exploitation that resonates from the shores of Arabian Sea in the south to the Chagai Hills in the north. Most Baloch people are of the view that the province has almost become a colony for the rest of Pakistan providing gas, oil, copper, uranium, gold, coal and other minerals but receiving next to nothing in return. Sui gas field accounts for at least a third of Pakistan’s total gas production but many of Balochistan’s own towns and cities, including Gwadar, lack gas supply through pipelines. In contrast, most cities in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa receive gas through pipelines that power industries and houses. “I don’t care if there is a gas shortage in parts of Pakistan, because we produce the gas and yet we do not have it,” says Jalil Dashti, a young business studies graduate.

Not a single day passes without news of bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch activists found in isolated places of Balochistan or a gas-pipeline blown up by so-called ‘miscreants’. Rag-tag Baloch rebels claim responsibility for the attacks and blame the Pakistani government for exploiting the region’s resources and enriching other parts of the country, especially Punjab, at Balochistan’s expense. Islamabad, in response, says these people are Indian-sponsored agents bent on undermining the writ of the Islamic Republic.

Gwadar has become a hub of political activities for many Baloch nationalist parties which advocate the idea of an ‘independent Balochistan’ that develops its own resources and spends the income generated only on its citizens. Some political parties also demand provincial autonomy under the 1973 constitution, which ensures complete rights over the resources of the region. Activists from Baloch nationalist parties face abductions, imprisonment, torture and extra-judicial killings on a routine basis. Nor are the insurgents forgiving of those who defy their dictates, routinely shooting down those who oppose their agenda. Caught between the insurgents and the state, the Baloch people seem to be running out of options.

Despite all the damage and destruction, there remains a glimmer of hope: if this exploitation is stopped, peace and reconciliation are still possible. Otherwise, we just need to open our history book, turn a few pages and read what happened 40 years ago when Pakistan faced a similar situation in its eastern wing…

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 27th, 2011.

 

Clinton Making Move Towards Rebels In Libya,

U.S. reaching out to rebel forces in Libya, Clinton says

BY NANCY A. YOUSSEF, WARREN P. STROBEL AND MARGARET TALEV

MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

BENGHAZI, Libya — The Obama administration appeared Sunday to welcome the formation of a national opposition government in Libya, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “we’ve been reaching out” to forces trying to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi and are prepared “to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”

Clinton’s comments came as former high-ranking Libyan aides to Gadhafi who resigned since the uprising and his bloody crackdown began 12 days ago met behind closed doors in rebel-held Benghazi in eastern Libya, the country’s second-largest city, to create an alternative national government. Organizers said the government will include liberated cities and towns and emphasized it was temporary.

With an unconfirmed death toll estimated in the hundreds to the thousands, Gadhafi still held the capital of Tripoli on Sunday. Residents of nearby Zawiya said Gadhafi’s forces were circling the outskirts of their city after being run out days ago.

Two men told McClatchy in separate interviews by cell phone that Gadhafi forces were attacking on the edges of the city but had not re-entered the center, but that they feared that could happen at any time. The men spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. One of the men also said there had been about two dozen kidnappings in the city since Friday.

It was unclear how high level the U.S. overtures to the opposition have been – or just what sort of aid has been offered or accepted and whether that includes military assistance.

Clinton spoke with reporters before departing for Geneva, Switzerland, where she’ll discuss the Libyan situation at a meeting Monday of the United Nations Human Rights Council. President Barack Obama is to meet Monday in Washington to discuss the situation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Clinton did not explicitly endorse the opposition government. She said the discussion is “just at the beginning of what will follow Gadhafi.”

 

“First we have to see the end of his regime with no further violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge in front of all of us,” she said. “But we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well. I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”

 

A spokesman for the opposition government, Abdulhafid Gouqa, said at a news conference in Benghazi on Sunday that the organizers were not talking to foreign governments and were not interested in outside intervention.

He also emphasized that the government was still being shaped and that he could not offer many specifics, but he insisted there would be no negotiations with Gadhafi’s regime. “Our blood cannot be negotiated,” he said.

More anti-government protests were reported across the Middle East on Sunday. At least one protester was killed by security forces in Oman, according to news service reports. The Tunisian prime minister agreed to step down, after reports of at least five protesters being killed since Friday. Thousands also protested against the king in Bahrain

Back in the United States, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, urged Obama to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, which would prevent Gadhafi from flying military aircraft to attack rebel territory, and to offer aid to the provisional Libyan government being formed in liberated areas in the country’s east.

The senators told CNN that Obama’s response to the crisis has not been tough enough, notwithstanding the need to get U.S. diplomats and other citizens out of the country.

“I understand that America’s security and safety of American citizens is our highest priority. It is not our only priority,” McCain said.

 

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the dictator, told ABC News in an interview aired Sunday that “we didn’t use force,” that the media was falsely reporting the situation, that Gadhafi wasn’t stepping down, that aides who defected are “hypocrites” and that what Gadhafi does is none of the United States’ business.

Tareq, a Libyan-American who left Tripoli on Friday aboard a U.S. government-chartered ferry to Malta, said in a telephone interview from London on Sunday that what is taking shape is not a civil war as Gadhafi and his sons have insisted. He asked that his last name be withheld to protect family still in Libya.

He said Libyans overwhelmingly are against their leader. “If this is a war, it’s a war of the people against the Libyan regime.”

He said there were pockets of resistance to Gadhafi throughout Tripoli, in the neighborhoods of Fashloom, Zawiya el-Dihmani and Souq al-Jouma, but that those still were being met with deadly force, and that ongoing military transports from the airbase outside Tripoli suggest Gadhafi is still importing African mercenaries to fight.

 

therearenosunglasses–Feb. 27, TWO DAYS WORTH OF NEWS

FROM ALTERNATE SITE:  NO SUNGLASSES

Sunday, February 27, 2011

THE WRECKING OF NORTH AFRICA

THE WRECKING OF NORTH AFRICA

SAS enters Libya (Mail on Sunday).

Libya, once one of the poorest countries in the world, now has the highest Human Development Index score in Africa. (Wikipedia.)

It is well ahead of certain countries in Europe, thanks to Gaddafi.

On 26 February 2011, at the UK’s Independent, Peter Popham had an article entitled “Tribalism is key to the Libya’s future”. (Thanks to Blackwatch for the link)

Popham makes the following points:

1. Gaddafi came to power as a force for modernisation.

2. He “turned the desert green … and raised the literacy rate from 17% to 80%.

3. He called for an end to tribalism.

Tribalisms influence has weakened, “as more modern ties of schooling and urban neighbourhoods gained in importance.”

According to former British ambassador Sir Richard Dalton: “Tribal origins have no existence in Libyan institutions or in public affairs.”


Tripoli by gordontour

BUT, Gaddafi opposed the New World Order, and so his country has to be wrecked.

On 27th February 2011 we read that the UK’s notorious SAS are in Libya.

“The Special Forces soldiers landed in two C130 Hercules military transport aircraft on a landing strip … south of the eastern port of Benghazi…

“A senior source confirmed that an advance party of SAS men had been in Libya for several days…

“The SAS party had sneaked into Libya in plain clothes on commercial flights…

The UK’s HMS Cumberland “is due to return to Benghazi”.

Another Royal Navy ship, the destroyer HMS York, “has also been deployed on standby”.


Tunisians by patduncan10

On 26 February 2011, three people were killed in clashes in Tunisia’s capital: (ministry)

Now that Tunisia has been wrecked, thousands are fleeing. (Chaos, militant Islam and thousands fleeing Tunisia.)

According to the Mail on Sunday:

On 20 February 2011 demonstrations continued in Tunisia.

“I see one father with his son, aged five.

“As the police fire warning bullets into the blue sky, I ask him if he is afraid for his child.

“He unzips the boy’s jacket to expose his chest.

“‘My son is ready to take a bullet to the heart for freedom,’ he says.

“The child’s face crumples…”


Booming Tripoli by TAR3K

“I meet 36-year-old Muhammed.

“He also dreams of getting rich, but not in Tunisia.

“He is unemployed and does not care about the revolution…

“‘A few days ago, I heard from a friend of a boat going from Zarzis to Italy.

“I paid $1,800…

“What about the revolution? I ask him.

“‘I don’t care about revolution. My dream is Italy,’ he says”

The Italian government says 300,000 may try to reach Europe…

Tunisia … was renowned for being the most liberal of Muslim countries.

“There are troubling signs … A Polish priest had his throat slit in a suburb of Tunis…

“The Vatican news agency said he was beheaded.”

Afghanistan

The Pentagon plan may be to make North Africa just like Afghanistan.

“The gangsters, both foreign and Afghan, are the ones now in control of Afghanistan,” says General Ali Shah Paktiawol, the former head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department. (How to make a killing in Kabul.)


By TAR3K

World cheers as the CIA plunges Libya into chaos, part 2.

World cheers as the CIA plunges Libya into chaos

“Class War” In Wisconsin

Battle over union rights boils over

IN Lansing: Supporters of workers’ rights hold signs outside the state Capitol at a protest in opposition to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recent legislation on public workers’ rights. About 2,000 attended the rally. / AL GOLDIS/Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON — The battle over unions — public and private — has been brewing for years. With the heat turned up by the recession, all it needed was a flashpoint to boil over.

It came with the 2010 elections, in which Republicans, many antagonistic to labor unions, won control of state legislatures and governor’s mansions — many in the Midwest.

The question then became whether battles would be focused on benefits that critics say were pricey giveaways during Democratic control, or whether emboldened Republicans would declare all-out war on labor.

Last week, protests reached a crescendo in Wisconsin and Ohio over efforts to end state workers’ collective-bargaining rights that some argue brought some states to the brink.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has said repeatedly he has no interest in tampering with collective-bargaining rights. Even so, Michigan unionists rallied in Lansing last week and Saturday against bills they say amount to union-busting.

In Madison, Wis., Katrina Ladopoulous, an area teacher, skipped school to take her 4-year-old son to daily rallies at the Capitol.

“If we don’t stand strong here, bargaining rights will fall,” she said.

Union battle goes national

WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is willing to make enemies: His budget plan picks more than its share of political fights. But his decision to stay out of a growing national fight over whether public employeesshould be able to negotiate hours and benefits, go on strike and otherwise collectively bargain may be wiser than he knows.

Michigan has a bigger percentage of workers who are union members — 16.5% — than all but California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington state in the continental U.S., according to the AFL-CIO.

Snyder is asking for concessions, and he’s supportive of legislation that would give emergency fiscal managers appointed to oversee municipal finances the power to break contracts. But, as draconian as those measures might be seen among labor’s friends, they are a far cry from what has been proposed in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, where more fundamental questions about the right to collectively bargain are being asked.

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“Al-CIAda” Is Late for the Revolution

[The guy fronting this message is another former alumnus graduate of the US Govt. brainwashing academy at Guantanamo. He wants us to think that now "al-CIAda" is supposedly supporting the revolution. Such garbage!

He reported from the Israeli disinformation center SITE, which also promotes videos from suspected Mossad agent, Adam Gadahn , better known by another alias, Azzam Al-Amrika. Usually, fake "al-Qaeda" is much more on the ball than this, instead of so obviously playing catch-up.

If running psyops seem to be out of sync, then one of them must have either sped-up or changed directions. If the two CIA psyops, "Islamists" and Arab democratic revolutions, seem to be at cross purposes to each other, it is because they really are. The luxury of having secret operations is the element of deniability they bring with them. If the time comes when a secret psyop, such as American backed "Islamists," outlives its usefulness, then there is no reason not to pursue a more peaceful operation, like the Middle East revolutions. We have seen it before, when the US went from supporting bin Laden and the Taliban to opposing them (before 911). Leaders like Pakistan's Gen. Musharraf had to accept a new paradigm--fight the men that you have been training, arming and supporting for so many years.--WHAT THE HECK?

We are experiencing another WHAT THE HECK moment.]

Al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen urged Muslims to revolt against Arab rulers and establish governments based on Islamic law, according to an audio tape posted Saturday on militant websites.The appeal came at a time of growing political unrest in the Arab world. Popular uprisings have deposed the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, and anti-government protests are gaining momentum in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

The speaker on the audio tape is identified as Ibrahim al-Rubeish, a former detainee at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay lockup. The tape was produced by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based offshoot of the terror network, according to the SITE Intel group, a U.S.-based group that monitors extremist websites.

In the 10-minute recording, Al-Rubeish criticized Saudi Arabia for providing a haven for deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.

“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.


Playing God in the Middle East

[Do the ongoing Arab revolutions raise the price tag of our crimes against Iraq? If it turns-out that the wave of popular revolutions would have also swept Saddam Hussein from power, then does that make our criminal aggression twice as bad?]
Playing God in the Middle East
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL BRENNER
POSTED: 27 FEBRUARY 2011 00:00
Accounting for the Human Toll in Iraq

We are now in the 10th year of the first decade of the ‘war on terror.’ So the inevitable anniversary assessments are beginning to appear. Iraq reappraisals specifically are back in vogue. They favor the drawing of balance sheets. Most will be skewed in an alchemic attempt to put the face of success on an unmitigated disaster. Even a more tempered approach at calculating cost/benefits, though, leaves something missing – something of paramount importance. It is the effects on Iraqis themselves. Not Iraqis in the abstract, not as figures in a statistical tabulation of sects. Rather, as flesh and blood and feeling persons. Frankly, most of the discourse about Iraq from day one has had a disengaged quality to it. That is the norm for dominant powers on the world stage, and for the seminar strategist. That was not always the norm by which Americans referenced war and violence abroad in the 20th century when we truly believed in our proclaimed ideals.

To illuminate the point, here are some too readily slighted facts. 100,000 – 150,000 Iraqis are dead as the consequence of our invasion and occupation. That is the conservative estimate. Untold thousands are maimed and orphaned. 2 million are uprooted refugees in neighboring lands. Another 2 million are displaced persons internally. The availability of potable water and electricity is somewhat less than it was in February 2003. The comparable numbers for the United States would be 1.1 – 1.6 million dead; an equal number infirmed; 22 million refugees eking out a precarious existence in Mexico and Canada; 22 million displaced persons within the country. We did not do all the killing and maiming; we did most of the destruction of infrastructure. To all these tragedies we are accessories before and during the fact.

Digits make less of an impact on us than observed reality. That is always the case. And very few have been in a position to see the human effects of our actions first hand – or even second-hand given censorship on filming casualties. So let me suggest a couple of ways to approximate that experience. Step one. Go to RFK stadium, imagine it full. Do that 3 times and then imagine them all – men, women and children – in their graves. Repeat the exercise – this time imagine them hobbling on one leg, lying crippled or blind on a cot in a cinderblock house. Imagine them as Americans – men, women and children – who placed USA stickers on their cars, chanted USA! USA! watching the Olympics, eating hot dogs and drinking Coke. Imagine them now six feet under. Imagine them all as the victims of an invasion and occupation by Iraqi Muslims who were deceived by their lying leaders who hid their own dark purposes. An occupation that featured the likes of L. Ahmed Chelabi IV and run amok Bashi Bazouks. Imagine that these altruistic Iraqis keep a Vice-Regal Embassy on the banks of the Potomac, giant airbases scattered around the country, and 550,000 troops (proportional) – all out of concern for our health and safety. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Imagine your counterparts in Baghdad now drawing up balance sheets.

Step two: go back to the study and reconstruct your own Iraq balance sheet.

Does this imply that pacifism is the only ethically acceptable conduct? No – but it does give us a better fix on the true meaning of our shameful adventure in Iraq. Moreover, keep in mind that the Iraqis never gave us permission to do those things to them. We willfully imposed ourselves on them, did so based on the accusation of a fabricated threat that never existed.

Who assigns value in the equation to the dead, the maimed, the orphaned, the distressed, the uprooted? Who assigns value to being free of Saddam’s police? Who distributes the values among Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Turcomen? Who decides on the relevant time frame? Who determines what constitutes sufficient evidence to support any of these judgments?

Who has the right, the authority, the legitimacy to do this? To do so before the event? To do so after the event in a post hoc justification of the acts that produced these effects?

Who is prepared to reach a definitive judgment? Is it God? Or is it those who instigated and supported those actions in the self-righteous conceit that they were acting as His surrogate? Personally, I place myself in neither category.

“Let humanity be the ultimate measure of all that you do” is a Confucian admonition meant to guide the behavior of officials. America today pays it scant regard.

Michael Brenner is a Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

25 February, 2011

Counterpunch.org

Terror hearings fuel anti-Muslim fears

 

Terror hearings fuel anti-Muslim fears

Misguided targeting will do little to make U.S. more secure.

 

Star Tribune Editorial

Next month, the chair of the U.S. HouseCommittee on Homeland Security plans to launch hearings on so-called domestic Islamic terrorism.

To justify the hearings, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, has made grossly irresponsible statements to right-wing broadcasters — claiming that 80 percent of U.S. mosques are extremist hotbeds and that Muslims aren’t cooperating with law enforcement.

He’s even found right-wing Muslims to testify to those claims. In turn, a broad swath of political, religious and human-rights organizations, rightly alarmed by King’s tone, are calling the hearings modern-day McCarthyism.

“These hearings will almost certainly increase widespread suspicion and mistrust of the American Muslim community and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment,” leaders of 51 organizations, from Baptists to Unitarians, said in a protest letter.

Key law enforcement officials, from California to Minnesota, also say King’s claims are off-base. In Minneapolis, FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter, who investigated the Somalis who fled Minnesota to join the al-Shabab terror group, said Muslim-Americans couldn’t have been more helpful.

Indeed, a new University of North Carolina study says 48 of 120 Muslims suspected of plotting domestic terrorist attacks since 2001 were caught because other Muslims reported them.

It’s easy to imagine the chilling effect King’s hearing could have on that kind of cooperation.

Americans should also be concerned about how the world will view the hearings. Rather than creating a more-secure America, King runs the risk of fanning anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and elsewhere if he doesn’t change his tone.

Only a few months ago, Florida Pastor Terry Jones stirred an international uproar by calling for the burning of Qur’ans. Anti-Muslim bigotry also fueled outcry over a proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero and other U.S. mosque projects.

Sadly, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, American Muslims continue to be scapegoated for the actions of Al-Qaida, an overseas terrorist network that U.S. Islamic organizations have repeatedly denounced.

Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in their attacks, including American Muslims.Muslims were also among the 9/11 first responders, the firefighters and emergency medical crews at the scene.

“Many American policymakers seem to have accepted Al-Qaida’s claim that it acts on behalf of Muslims in general, but the numbers indicate that the group is at war with Muslims as much as it is with the United States,” a Los Angeles Times editorial said.

It cited a West Point study that said 85 percent of Al-Qaida’s victims around the world between 2004 and 2008 were Muslim.

After 9/11, from Sept. 12 to Dec. 31, 2001, crimes against U.S. Muslims spiked from 28 to 481, including several murders.

Rather than promoting violence, American Muslims today are more likely to bevictims of hate crimes or harassment — sometimes at the hands of police who are supposed to protect them. If some fear the police, it’s understandable.

Last year, a New York cabbie’s throat was slashed by a passenger, reportedly because he was a Muslim. A Florida mosque was firebombed while 60 Muslims prayed inside. Arson fires ravaged mosques in Tennessee and Oregon.

Oklahoma voters passed a “Save Our State” referendum prohibiting judges from considering sharia law in rulings. In Tennessee, some lawmakers are trying not only to outlaw sharia, moral and religious rules that guide Muslim living, but also to make following them a felony.

In short, anti-Muslim rhetoric is fueling anti-Muslim violence and alienating American Muslims.

President Obama and former President Bush understood this, which is why they made numerous public statements to help diffuse the bigotry. “The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims,” Bush said.

If Congress cares about violent domestic extremists, perhaps it should broaden its investigative scope to the larger threat: right-wing militias, neo-Nazis and “Patriot” groups that spew racist, antigovernment ideology — often in the name of Christianity. Their ideology led to the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing.

A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that these radical hate groups are growing at an alarming rate. The paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement grew from 130 to 330 groups over the past year.

U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, a Muslim, and Betty McCollum, both Minnesota Democrats, recently told the Star Tribune Editorial Board that King’s hearingsappeared to be an anti-Muslim “witch hunt.”

Although he disagrees with the hearings’ premise, Ellison hopes to testify, if only to counter negative stereotyping and misstatements about Muslims.

“Peter thinks he’s doing something good,” Ellison said. “He doesn’t realize that what he’s doing is isolating and implicitly blaming a community. If he lets me participate and forward names of people to testify, as he said he would, this could be a moment of education for a lot of people.”

Readers, what do you think? To be considered for publication as a letter to the editor, write a thoughful response no more than 250 words toopinion@startribune.com. Include your name and the city where you live.

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The Pentagon Wants You to Doubt That Hakeemullah Killed Col. Imam

Disclaimer

CentralAsiaOnline.com is a website sponsored by USCENTCOM; that is, U.S. Central Command

 

The following article from Centcom’s website challenges the idea that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud ordered the execution of Col. Imam, legendary trainer and friend of the Afghan Taliban, even though the leaked video clearly shows both men, Mehsud giving the terrorist an order and the ISI general being shot dead. There is no room for doubt here, unless it was a Hollywood-type of production.

The big question remains: Why would the US military care if the bloodthirsty TTP made a severe mistake that would alienate them from both the Pakistani people and their alleged partners, the Afghan Taliban?

The answer is: If the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban were really allies, then the Pakistani leader would never murder one of Mullah Omar’s oldest and most trusted friends.

The fact that the US military’s “hasbara” website doesn’t want viewers to believe their own eyes, reveals a greater hidden truth, that the Imperial warlords want harmony to prevail between the two “Taliban” groups. Obviously the Pentagon wishes the video of Col. Imam’s execution had never been made public.

 

 

Col. Imam murder video’s authenticity doubted by some

By Javed Aziz Khan
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-02-24

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakeemullah Mehsud (centre), is shown in a February 19 militant video as he orders a masked gunman to kill a man identified as former ISI official Col. Imam (seated). Some analysts doubt the corpse shown later in the video is that of Imam, and say the video was produced to show that Mehsud is still alive. [Video screen grab courtesy Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR – The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is saying that Col. Imam is dead, but many observers question the credibility of the video the TTP released February 19.
About 11 months after the kidnapping of Brig. (ret.) Sultan Ameer Tarar, known as Col. Imam, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) released a video that it claims shows the former ISI official’s slaying in the presence of TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud.
That was followed by reports February 21 that Imam’s body had turned up on a street near Mir Ali. But his family had not received his body or any belongings as of February 24.
The TTP claimed responsibility for the murder of Col. Imam. In the video, filmed in an unknown, mountainous area, a militant shoots him five times as Hakeemullah watches. Some media had reported in 2010 that Hakeemullah had been killed.
Before the release of the video February 19, TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called journalists to notify them of Col. Imam’s slaying.

“Videos of the flogging of women, slaughtering of foreigners and now the execution of Col. Imam, considered to be godfather of militants, are causing hate among the public against the brutalities of militants,” Saleh said.

“The main purpose of airing the video of the murder of Col. Imam was to produce Hakeemullah Mehsud before the public and end controversy regarding his killing,” Deputy Bureau Chief of Mashaal Radio Khalid Khan told Central Asia Online.
Khalid, who covers events in tribal areas, expressed some doubts over the video’s authenticity as nobody has found the body of Col. Imam, nor has anything else has been heard about him after the video. If the video proves authentic, it will increase public anger with the TTP, he predicted.

 

US, Nato forces in covert deals with Afghan Taliban

LAHORE – The United States-led NATO and Afghan forces in Kabul are gravely worried of the heightened activities of the Taliban in the war-torn region. To save themselves, they are engaged in unsoldierly businesses.
‘Now, the US, NATO and Afghan forces are in deals with warlords and Taliban to keep them dormant, thus indirectly funding the Taliban fighting potential’, well-informed diplomatic sources confided to The Nation on Friday.
A well-placed Afghan official, based in Kabul, had startling disclosures about the underhand deals and concessions offered to Taliban in various provinces of Afghanistan in the recent past as public pressure is mounting in the West to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, said to be the ‘graveyard of great empires.’
According to him, the US and NATO are fighting Taliban freedom fighters on one hand but at the same time they are paying huge amount of cash and weapons to Taliban to buy local safety and safe passages.
‘Afghan officials like Governor Balkh Ustad Atta Muhammad and others pay millions of Afghanis and provide large number of weapons to representatives of Taliban in their areas. In return, this ‘Attaya’ force of the Taliban guarantee safety to the officials and their families’, the source disclosed to this reporter, seeking anonymity.
Another Kabul based official also revealed that certain government officials were in league with the Taliban and other Opposition groups to defame government of President Hamid Karzai on one pretext or the other.

 

The combat alliance of 46 countries deployed in different provinces of Afghanistan, have evolved their respective mechanism to ensure safety to their troops and supply convoys.
This is like an open secret in Kabul that ‘Germany, France, Holland and the UK, all have brokered local peace deals with the Taliban to avoid casualties. Does it portray a reluctance of the military to face the adversary?’ questioned the Afghan official.
Often, the front remains the security companies who deal on behalf of US and NATO with Taliban and broker a safe passage or occasional calm in the local areas, he maintained. Sources further said that this outcome was then portrayed at international level as an operational success of US and NATO.
In December 2009, the US Congress in a wide-ranging probe confirmed that private security companies, hired to protect defence convoys in Afghanistan, were paying off Taliban and warlords for safe passage.
This remains a testimony about the US and NATO double standards; paying for local securities being unable to cover their operational vulnerabilities with all their air power and military might.
Out of operational compulsions, US and NATO are infact, feeding the Taliban and warlords to use the same money to perpetuate their activities, or in other words ‘keep the ball rolling’.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rally in 50 states to support Wisconsin protesters

[If Americans aren't really dead from the neck up they will see that this is our Middle East moment, the opportunity to recall the independent spirit that made this country great and stand together against a tyrannical govt. move to destroy the labor union movement. People forget that labor unions won the right to such things as minimum wage, 8-hour days, child labor laws. The wave of Reaganism threatened in Wisconsin is just what this country needs if we have all become suicidal.]

Rallies in 50 states support Wisconsin protesters

By the CNN Wire Staff

CNN) — A coalition spearheaded by liberal advocacy group Moveon.org held rallies across the country Saturday in support of public employees and others outraged at the Wisconsin budget-cutting bill they consider an attack on unions.

MoveOn.org and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals.

“Save the dream, we are reunited,” a group shouted in Washington, D.C.

The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go,” chanted the group rallying in Madison.

There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican bill that would strip most state workers of the bulk of their collective-bargaining rights.

Among other things, the measure would require workers — with the exception of police and firefighters — to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.

In Olympia, Washington, two raucous competing rallies over the union fight in Wisconsin drew more than 2,000 people, according to CNN Seattle affiliate KIRO.

More than a half dozen union members decried the bill, while a smaller protest of Tea Party members and conservative groups was held on the Washington Capitol steps. Many of those demonstrators filled petitions to “Stand with Walker.”

Saturday’s marchers in Wisconsin got a boost from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who also wants to cut collective bargaining rights, “aren’t just asking workers to tighten their belts, they’re demanding they give up their uniquely American rights as workers.”

Solis, attending a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., said public employees should be “treated with respect and dignity.” They have made concessions in several states, she said.

The fight over the Wisconsin bill appears far from over. It still must clear the Wisconsin Senate, a step that is likely to prove far more contentious.

Fourteen Democratic senators have fled to neighboring Illinois to prevent a quorum from voting on the issue.

Walker on Friday reiterated his call for Democrats to return to the Legislature, defending the bill.

“Collective bargaining is a fiscal matter,” said Walker, who toured multiple state districts Friday in an effort to pressure the absentee lawmakers. Democrats said the governor’s proposal is tantamount to union-busting.

Saturday’s protesters in Wisconsin continued their refrain against the governor.

“What they’re doing here is trying to kill unions, period,” said Jean Ross, a Minnesota nurse who came to show solidarity. “They’ve created a fiscal crisis and blamed the victims. Well, we are all victims here.”

At a Thursday night news conference, Walker said if the Legislature does not pass his budget bill, state aid to local governments could be cut, brushing off critics who said the legislation will destroy public employee unions in the state.

“Wisconsin state employees have the strongest civil protections in the country. That’s not going to change in this bill,” Walker said. “It’s not about the union boss coming in from other parts of the country. It’s about whether we protect the taxpayers and the workers.”

The state had faced a suggested deadline Friday to balance the budget. The crucial date is March 16, state officials said. Wisconsin is confronted with a $137 million budget shortfall by June 30 and a $3.6 billion gap by 2013.

CNN’s David Ariosto, Ted Rowlands and Eric Fiegel contributed to this report

Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

FEBRUARY 23, 2011 11:55 PM ET

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.

The Runaway General: The Rolling Stone Profile of Stanley McChrystal That Changed History

The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.”

Photos: Psy-Ops and the General

The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.

The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on “hostile foreign groups.” Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a “propaganda rider” that also prohibits such manipulation. “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans,” says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s what you learn on day one.”

King David’s War: How Gen. Petraeus Is Doubling Down on a Failed Strategy

When Holmes and his four-man team arrived in Afghanistan in November 2009, their mission was to assess the effects of U.S. propaganda on the Taliban and the local Afghan population. But the following month, Holmes began receiving orders from Caldwell’s staff to direct his expertise on a new target: visiting Americans. At first, the orders were administered verbally. According to Holmes, who attended at least a dozen meetings with Caldwell to discuss the operation, the general wanted the IO unit to do the kind of seemingly innocuous work usually delegated to the two dozen members of his public affairs staff: compiling detailed profiles of the VIPs, including their voting records, their likes and dislikes, and their “hot-button issues.” In one email to Holmes, Caldwell’s staff also wanted to know how to shape the general’s presentations to the visiting dignitaries, and how best to “refine our messaging.”

Congressional delegations – known in military jargon as CODELs – are no strangers to spin. U.S. lawmakers routinely take trips to the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they receive carefully orchestrated briefings and visit local markets before posing for souvenir photos in helmets and flak jackets. Informally, the trips are a way for generals to lobby congressmen and provide first-hand updates on the war. But what Caldwell was looking for was more than the usual background briefings on senators. According to Holmes, the general wanted the IO team to provide a “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds.” The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. “How do we get these guys to give us more people?” he demanded. “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”

Special forces swoop on Libya to pull Britons to safety

Special forces swoop on Libya to pull Britons to safety

A daring rescue operation by Special Forces flew scores of British citizens out of Libya last night as the net closed in on Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Image 1 of 2
A Hercules aircraft sits on the runway at Malta International Airport after returning from Benghazi Photo: EPA
By Nick Meo in Al Bayda, Melissa Kite in London and Philip Sherwell in New York 9:34PM GMT 26 Feb 2011

In a daylight mission, the RAF, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service used two specially equipped Hercules aircraft to snatch Britons from the country. However, 300 oil workers from Britain remained stranded in desert camps last night.

The rescue teams, who flew out of bases in Malta, searched an area four times the size of Britain to locate workers before evacuating them back to Valletta in Malta last night.

They were given food and water and medical assistance before being taken to hotels to rest. They will begin arriving home today.

Within hours of them arriving back to safety, the international community ratcheted up the pressure on the Libyan dictator as the security situation in the country deteriorated. The British embassy in Tripoli was closed and its staff hurriedly evacuated.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, disclosed that a major international diplomatic offensive against the dictator was starting.

As the violence worsened, with reports of hundreds being killed, Mr Hague told The Sunday Telegraph: “In the next few days, we will intensify the pressure on the Libyan regime.”

In a series of developments:

• Witnesses in Tripoli told of deaths at mosques and of armed men around the city. Elsewhere in the country, pro-Gaddafi forces were said to have fired on civilians from helicopters.

The Sunday Telegraph met captured African mercenaries who Col Gaddafi had paid to prop up his regime, including a 16-year-old boy handed a gun and then told to go out and massacre protesters.

• Billions of pounds of Libyan assets are set to be frozen in Britain, including shareholdings in a major publishing company and large amounts of property.

• The Government is pushing for an arms embargo, a travel ban and a war crimes investigation into the crackdown on demonstrators, which appears to be reaching new heights of brutality.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, suggested yesterday that 1,000 or more had died since the rebellion against Col Gaddafi’s 42-year rule began last week.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Mr Hague held talks over the phone with a series of world leaders yesterday including those of France and Russia, after which officials made clear that the brutality of the Gaddafi regime “would not be tolerated”. President Barack Obama said Gaddafi had “lost the legitimacy to rule” and should step down immediately.

In a separate move, The Sunday Telegraph understands that British diplomats have privately urged Nato and the UN to start thinking about the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone.

Humanitarian specialists were also on the ground in Egypt and making their way to the Libyan border, officials said.

The team were assessing how Britain and the international community could best assist the region as the situation worsens. “We are monitoring the movement of refugees from Libya to Tunisia and Egypt,” a spokesman said.

The stance reflects a significant toughening of the British Government’s position after an initially slow response to the crisis. Ministers faced criticism for a sluggish response to the need for evacuation but rescue efforts have sped up in recent days.

As diplomatic efforts to remove Col Gaddafi intensify, Mr Hague will meet Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to discuss the crisis tomorrow.

The rescues took place south of Benghazi, which has fallen to the rebels, and involved members of the SAS and SBS and support troops.

The Hercules aircraft, believed to be from RAF 47 Squadron (Special Forces Flight), flew from a base on Malta where they had assembled on Friday as concern grew about the safety of the British workers.

SAS and SBS units are on standby to evacuate more Britons.

A final evacuation by the frigate HMS Cumberland is expected early this morning when it docks at Benghazi for any remaining Britons.

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, revealed the mission after the two planes landed in Malta shortly after 6pm last night.

“I can confirm that two RAF C130 Hercules aircraft have evacuated around 150 civilians from desert locations south of Benghazi,” he said. “HMS York has arrived in Valletta to take on board stores so it can assist the evacuation effort if required.

“And a number of other military assets remain available to support the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] led efforts to return civilians from Libya.”

The majority of the 150 civilians rescued were British but other nationalities were also plucked to safety.

During the mission, two RAF Hercules, which can carry up to four heavily armed SAS Land Rovers, landed on improvised desert airstrips.

There were reports that Special Forces personnel were landed in Libya by HMS Cumberland when it docked in Benghazi on Thursday and fanned south into the country’s desert. They picked Britons, almost all of whom had barricaded themselves in compounds around the Libyan desert as law and order collapsed.

Many had said they were living in fear of their lives and had been faced with armed looters, while some had been robbed at gunpoint.

The wives of some of the stranded men had complained about a lack of action by the Foreign Office – although they could not be warned of plans for the rescue in order to keep it secret.

In New York, the noose tightened on the Libyan dictator as world powers finalised plans at the United Nations for financial and weapons sanctions against his clan and key regime officials.

The US pressed ahead with its own sanctions in tandem with the international effort, aiming to peel away remaining members of Col Gaddafi’s inner circle after several high-profile defections last week.

If the embattled Libyan leader is not brought down by a coup, then his fate seems set to be determined by a bloody showdown for his base in the capital. Much of the rest of the country is either occupied by rebels or under no control.

Helicopter-borne pro-Gaddafi mercenaries fired on protesters attending a funeral in the western city of Misurata, a witness said. With the sound of heavy weapons fire audible in the background, he said the fighters opened fire on mourners outside a mosque in the city, 90 miles east of the capital.

Residents of Tripoli said they had seen Gaddafi followers leaving the regime’s Revolutionary Committee headquarters armed with newly-issued weapons.

Others reported pro-Gaddafi militiamen wearing green headbands being driven through the city by trucks and manning roadblocks to control movement.

The capital remained quiet for much of the day after the bloodshed on Friday when pro-Gaddafi security forces opened fire on the largest anti-government marches in the city since the revolt broke out.

In Tripoli’s Tajoura district, a hub of anti-regime protests, residents barricaded streets with concrete blocks and chopped-down palm trees to keep out vehicles filled with young pro-Gaddafi fighters wielding automatic weapons.

Saif al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s son, told foreign journalists invited on a government propaganda tour that the capital was “calm” and there were no casualties there.

“Everything is peaceful,” he said. “Peace is coming back to our country.” He insisted that the regime wanted negotiations with the opposition and said there were nothing more than “minor problems” in the cities of Misurata and Zawiya, where “we are dealing with terrorist people”.

The spectre of a bloodbath in Tripoli was hanging over world diplomats as they met for an unusual Saturday session to discuss a British-French plan for an immediate arms embargo, freezing of assets and travel ban on the Gaddafi family and senior government figures.

The US moved quickly to impose its own sanctions on Libya, with President Obama issuing an executive order to freeze assets and ban weapons sales.

In a symbol of Col Gaddafi’s loosening grip on power, the “busty” Ukrainian nurse revealed to have been the dictator’s constant companion was said to be returning to her family in Europe.

Posted by peter chamberlin at 2:21 PM 0 comments Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook

I Am Back!!!–We Been Bad, Mostaque.

It seems that I have done it again–posted an article that the author didn’t want to share.  I should have known, Times of London.

I lifted it from Mostaque Ali. This Is Logical

Are you listening, Mostaque, “with no comments allowed,” Ali?   Take down the Times of London exclusive on King Abdullah, if you know what is good for you.