Friday’s protests represented a possible climax in the deepening rift between Egypt’s secularists and Islamists that has developed post-Mubarak. With the Muslim Brotherhood warning the masses against participating – and leftists, liberals and nationalists fully backing the rally – political forces have failed to reach a consensus over the details of the transition period. Many voices warn that the split could bode ill for the prospect of successful democratic transition.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is the only beneficiary of this division,” says Emad Gad, political scientist with Al-Ahram Center of Political and Strategic Studies. “Now there is no united bloc monitoring the implementation of the revolutionary demands. If political forces were united, they could pressure [the SCAF] to achieve these demands.”
In the meantime, Gad, who is also a founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, blames Islamists for the growing gap.
“It’s hard to heal this rift because the Brotherhood is dealing with the situation as if it were a golden opportunity for them to hijack power and gain a [parliamentary] majority,” he says.
During Egypt’s 18-day uprising, Egypt’s myriad opposition groups surmounted their differences. But in recent months, the Islamist-secular divide has dominated headlines.
The two camps disagree on the timing of the parliamentary elections, the process of drafting a new constitution, the role of religion in politics and the proper limitations to SCAF’s power during the transitional period.
The Brotherhood insists on abiding by the results of the March referendum, in which a majority endorsed the road map suggested by the military. Under the plan, parliamentary elections should be held this fall, with presidential elections later. The new parliament is expected to elect a 100-member assembly to draft the new constitution. Until all elections are concluded, the SCAF would continue to control the country.
The secular forces, trying to find a way around the plan approved in referendum, continue to demand that parliamentary elections be postponed until a new constitution is drafted. They argue that while Islamists and remnants of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party will most likely dominated the new parliament, these two forces should not also monopolize the writing of the new constitution, they contend.
Some groups also demand that the SCAF cede power to a predominantly civilian presidential council until all elections are concluded.
The SCAF has ignored such calls, insisting on holding parliamentary elections in September and sticking to the plan approved by the referendum. This reaction prompted some liberals to allege that the military forged a deal with the Brotherhood, whereby Islamists would be allowed a larger role in the next parliament in return for not interfering in military affairs.
Last Friday, secular forces sought to mobilize people to press their demands. While most groups called for a protest to pressure the SCAF to hold serious and public trials of the former regime officials, appoint new governors, and reshuffle the cabinet, others echoed more controversial demands to postpone the elections, draft a new constitution before the parliamentary poll and form a presidential council.
The nation’s oldest Islamist organization boycotted the protest and launched a smear campaign against those who made the call.
Through their official website, the Brotherhood accused the protests’ leaders of “driving wedges” between the military and the people. In another statement, the group sought to denigrate the groups by emphasizing their secular nature and accusing them of being “communist.” Both secularism and communism carry negative connotations of atheism in Egyptian society.
In response, secularists launched their own verbal war against the Brotherhood in the local media, accusing them of political opportunism and deploying similar tactics of the Mubarak regime.
The growing animosity might discredit both groups in the eyes of the public, according to Ammar Ali Hassan, columnist and political commentator.
The polarization “might make Egyptians turn away from both civil and Islamist groups and swear allegiance to the military,” warns Hassan, explaining that such a scenario might entice the military to remain in power. “Here, the military can turn from a partner and guardian of the revolution into an owner of it.”
The local press recently began to feature columns urging compromise. In the independent daily newspaper Al-Shorouk earlier this week, prominent columnist Diaa Rashwan proposed postponing elections until December so that nascent non-Islamist parties would have time to build support bases and hold “immediate” and “serious” talks among all groups to reach a consensus over the constitution. The outcome of these talks would serve as guidelines for the new assembly that would later draft the constitution.
Hassan says the Brotherhood could be convinced to have the constitution drafted before parliamentary elections. “Some Muslim Brotherhood leaders who oppose the idea oppose it because they fear being excluded from the process and not because they want to monopolize the new constitution’s drafting,” says Hassan, an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hassan and Rashwan might be too optimistic about achieving a compromise. Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Essam al-Erian, vice president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s would-be Freedom and Justice Party, expresses the group’s vehement opposition to writing the constitution first, and dismisses such proposals as an attempt to “circumvent” the results of the referendum.
“Is it possible to ignore people’s will? What would guarantee that their choices would be respected in presidential and parliamentary elections later on?” Erian asks rhetorically.
As to resolving contentious issues before drafting the constitution, the group has already refused to engage in the military-backed National Accord Conference, where different political factions were invited to discuss the fundamentals of the new constitution.
The group insisted that such discussions should be left to the assembly that the new Parliament is supposed to elect.
In the meantime, Erian intimated that such talks were unnecessary and argues that the Brotherhood already agrees with most other groups about what the constitution should look like in a broad sense. He affirmed his group’s commitment to democracy and the state’s civil nature, but most secularists refuse to take the pledge seriously. Doubts were exacerbated in recent weeks after some Brotherhood leaders made incendiary statements implying their plan to Islamize the state if they reach power.
Although the rivalry might seem irreparable, some expect Islamists to eventually settle for a compromise.
According to Akram Ismail, a founder of the secular Association of Progressive Revolutionary Youth, rapprochement with secular forces is in the Brotherhood’s best interests.
“They have a lust for controlling everything but they know that such an attitude might antagonize other forces and eventually these forces will call upon the army to intervene,” says Ismail.
In this case, Islamists fear a repeat of the Algerian scenario where the army crushed Islamists after their sweeping electoral victory in the early 1990s, Ismail continues.
In fact, the Brotherhood is careful not to risk sealing its fate by monopolizing power. This fear seems to shape the group’s discourse and tactics.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the Gazan and Algerian scenarios. When Islamists there reached power quickly, the military establishment turned against them,” the influential Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater told a local paper in April when asked why the group would not field a presidential candidate.
As a sign of goodwill, the group had announced that it would not field any presidential candidate and would compete for no more than 50 percent of parliamentary seats.
Ismail contends that secular fears of Islamists hijacking the revolution and instating a religious state are overblown. First, there are large segments in Egyptian society that would not bend to an Islamic state. Second, the military would not accept such radical change, which could easily jeopardize ties with the West, explains Ismail.
The Supreme Council sent a warning to Islamists while also reassuring seculars and the West when it stated that Egypt would not turn into another Iran or Gaza.
Ismail believes that it is about time for secularists to stop emphasizing the secular-Islamist divide and get prepared for the parliamentary race.
“The [non-Islamist] forces should overcome their fears, become effective on the ground, and accept defeats. Politics is a serious job that’s not for fearful people,” Ismail concludes.
Gen. Ali Moshen al-Ahmar, a top military leader who defected in March, has backed the powerful Hashid tribal confederation with 1,000 troops of his own.
The pitched battle between President Ali Abdullah Saleh‘s forces and one of Yemen‘s oldest and largest tribal confederations has escalated to a level unseen in the capital for nearly half a century, with both sides bringing in reinforcements.
Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a top military leader who defected in March, deployed about 1,000 of his troopsagainst President Saleh’s forces for the first time Wednesday night to back up fighters from the Hashid tribal confederation, the Wall Street Journal reported. The confederation is led by Sadiq al-Ahmar (not related to the general). Sheikh Ahmar, along with his brothers, presents one of the biggest challenges to Mr. Saleh’s grip on power.
Saleh, for his part, has deployed US-trained-and-funded counterterrorism forces against Ahmar’s tribal fighters, according to the Journal, though the US says it has no evidence that Saleh has used the troops – intended to fight Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – against his political opponents.
“What we’re witnessing now is a battle between the two most powerful families in Yemen, a conflict that has been brewing for several years [... ]Saleh’s stubbornness has come to its head,” says Abdullah al-Faqah, professor of politics at Sana’a University. “This was a foolish fight for him [Saleh] to pick … we’re now witnessing the worst violence in Sana’a since the civil war in the late 1960′s.”
Last week, Saleh issued a warrant for Sadiq al-Ahmar’s arrest, which the sheikh has so far ignored, calling the president a liar and vowing that he would leave the country ‘barefoot’,” Time reports. His brother Hamid al-Ahmar, the founder of one of the opposition parties, has set himself up as a potential successor to Saleh. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar is not related to Sadiq al-Ahmar’s family, but is rather a half-brother of Saleh.
The source added that the network is financed and fully backed up by the Saudi and the US intelligence agencies and is operating in full coordination with the remnants of Saddam’s Baath regime.
The report also quoted the source as saying that the confessions made during the interrogation of suspects in the recent terrorist attacks in Iraq have revealed that Shiite officers and academic and media figures as well as Sunni figures who are cooperating with Shiite groups are the target of these terrorist attacks.
Mentioning that all the guns used in the network’s operations were equipped with silencers, the security official said the weapons and equipment used by the network members present further proof of the terrorist nature and mission of the network.
The source noted that the network is comprised of several cells that are funded, run and designed so well and skillfully that they can operate separately.
The revelation came after the Iraqi authorities have arrested a man in connection with the assassination last week of the head of Iraq’s controversial anti-Baath committee.
Ali al-Lami was killed by a gunshot to the head in what a friend called a “very well-planed operation”, little more than a year after he made headlines by banning a swathe of would-be MPs from participating in Iraq’s March 2010 elections over their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.
US, (Pal Telegraph) – The assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did more than knock off America’s Public Enemy Number One, it formalized a new kind of warfare, where sovereignty is irrelevant, armies tangential, and decisions are secret. It is, in the words of counterinsurgency expert John Nagl, “an astounding change in the nature of warfare.”
It is also one that requires a vast intelligence apparatus, one that now constitute almost a fourth arm of government that most Americans are almost completely unaware of. Yet, according to the Washington Post, this empire includes some 1, 271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies in more than 10, 000 locations across the country, with a budget last year of at least $80.1 billion.
“At the heart of this new warfare,” notes the Financial Times,” is high-tech cooperation between intelligence agencies and the military” that blurs the traditional borders between civilians and the armed forces. And it fits with the U.S.’s penchant for waging war with robots and covert Special Forces.
But, by definition, the secrecy at the core of the “new warfare” removes decisions about war and peace from the public realm and relegates them to secure rooms in the White House or clandestine bases in the Hindu Kush. When the Blackhawk helicopters slipped through Pakistani airspace, they did more than execute one of America’s greatest bugbears, they essentially said another country’s sovereignty was no longer relevant and consigned Congress to the role of spectator.
Over the past several decades U.S. military theorists have clashed over how to use the armed forces, though it is a debate that gets distorted by the requirements of industry: the U.S, does not really need 11 immense Nimitz class aircraft carriers, but the Newport News Shipbuilding Company—and the aerospace giants that fill the flattops with fighter bombers—do.
The arguments have revolved around three different approaches, the Powell Doctrine, the Rumsfeld Doctrine, and the Petraeus Doctrine.
The Powell Doctrine is essentially conventional warfare a-la-World War II: massive firepower, lots of soldiers, clear goals. This was the formula for the first Gulf War, which, after a month of bombing, lasted only four days. But it is a very expensive way to wage war.
The Rumsfeld Doctrine merged high tech firepower and Special Forces with a minimal use of Army and Marine units. It also relies on private contractors to do much of what was formerly done by the military. The doctrine routed the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and quickly knocked out the Iraqi Army in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Once the shock and awe wore off, however, the Doctrine’s weaknesses became obvious. It simply didn’t have the manpower to hold the ground against a guerilla insurgency. The 2007 “surge” of troops in Iraq, like last year’s surge in Afghanistan, was an admission that the doctrine was fundamentally flawed if the locals decided to keep fighting.
The Petraeus Doctrine is old wine in a new bottle: counterinsurgency. In theory, it is boots on the ground to win hearts and minds. It draws heavily on intelligence—what Gen. David Petraeus calls “bandwidth”—to isolate and eliminate any insurgents—and attempts to establish trust with the locals. It is cheaper than the Powell and Rumsfeld doctrines, but it also almost never works. Eventually the locals get tried of being occupied, and then counterinsurgency turns nasty. Building schools and digging wells give way to night raids and targeted assassinations that alienate the local population. According to U.S. intelligence, the current counterinsurgency program in Afghanistan is failing.
So, what is this “astounding change” that Nagl speaks of? If you want to put a name to it, “counter-terrorism” is probably the most descriptive, although with a new twist. Like counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism has been around a long time. The Phoenix Program that killed some 40,000 South Vietnamese was a variety of the doctrine. Phoenix, too, paid no attention to sovereignty. During the Vietnam War, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols secretly went into Cambodia and Laos.
In recent years, the U.S. clandestinely sent Special Forces into Syria and Pakistan in a sort of shadow war against “insurgents.” A number of other countries have done the same.
But the Obama administration openly admits to sending a Special Forces Seal team into Pakistan to assassinate bin Laden, and it was prepared to fight Pakistan’s armed forces if they tried to intervene. And when Pakistan asked the U.S. to curb its use of armed drones in Pakistani airspace, the Central Intelligence Agency said it would do nothing of the kind.
It is as if counter-terrorism reconfigured that classic line from the movie “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”: “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges, we got drones and Seals.”
The principle behind counter-terrorism is eliminating people you don’t like. There is no patina of “hearts and minds,” and the new strategy makes no effort to practice the subterfuge of “plausible deniability” that has deflected the ire of target countries in the past.
While clandestine warfare is not new, the boldness of the bin Laden hit is. Certainly the people who planned the attack wanted to make a statement: we can get you anywhere you are, and impediments like international law, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter be damned.
“Targeted assassinations violate well-established principles of international law,” says law professor Marjorie Cohn. “Extrajudicial executions are unlawful, even in armed conflict.”
From the U.S.’s point of view, the doctrine has a number of advantages. It is cheaper, and its expenses are generally hidden away in a labyrinth of bureaucracy. For instance, the $80.1 billion figure is only an estimate and does not include the cost of the CIA’s drone war in Pakistan, or Homeland Security.
Recent moves by the White House suggest the administration is putting this new strategy in place. “Petraeus’s appointment to head the CIA is an important indication that the U.S. wants to fuse intelligence and military operations,” a “senior figure” at the British Defense Ministry told the Financial Times.
In the past the division between military and civilian intelligence agencies allowed for a range of opinions. While the U.S. military continues to put a rosy spin on the Afghan War, civilian intelligence agencies have been much more somber about the success of the current surge. That division is likely to vanish under the new regime, where intelligence becomes less about analysis and more about targeting.
The new warfare opens up a Pandora’s box, the implications of which are only beginning to be considered. What would be the reaction if Cuban armed forces had landed in Florida and assassinated Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch, two anti-Castro militants who were credibly charged with setting bombs in Havana and downing a Cuban airliner? Washington would treat it as an act of war. The problem with a foreign policy based on claw and fang is that, if one country claims the right to act independently of international law and the UN Charter, all countries can so claim.
In the end, however, the biggest victims for this “new” warfare will probably be the American people. Once an enormous intelligence bureaucracy is created—there are some 854,000 people with top-secrecy security clearance—it will be damned hard to dismantle it. And, since the very nature of the endeavor removes it from public oversight, it is a formula for a massive and uncontrolled expansion of the national security state.
Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, “A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the journalism program at the University of California at Santa Cruz for 23 years, and won the UCSC Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as UCSC’s Innovations in Teaching Award, and Excellence in Teaching Award. He was also a college provost at UCSC, and retired in 2004. He is a winner of a Project Censored “Real News Award,” and lives in Berkeley, California.
A Casey Report Interview with Richard Maybury
With everything going on in the world today, we thought it a good time to catch up with the views of longtime friend Richard Maybury, a low-key but highly respected author, lecturer and analyst. In addition to his work consulting with businesses and high net worth individuals on strategic planning, Richard is the editor of the U.S. & World Early Warning Report, a monthly service that helps readers see the world as it is, versus how the media and the officialdom would like you to see it. Richard is widely regarded as one of the finest free-market writers in America today. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other major publications.
David Galland: You’ve been steadily warning your readers for years about the coming chaos in what you call “Chaostan,” yet another forecast of yours that is coming true today. Before we get to current events, could you define Chaostan for readers who aren’t familiar with it.
Richard Maybury: In Central Asia, the word “stan” means “land of.” Therefore Kazakhstan is the land of the Kazakhs, Kurdistan is the land of the Kurds, and so forth. I coined the word Chaostan in 1992, the land of chaos, to refer to the area from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and Poland to the Pacific, plus North Africa.
To understand why I call this area Chaostan, you have to first understand the two fundamental laws that make civilization possible. The first being “You should do all you have agreed to do,” which is the basis of contract law. The other is “Do not encroach on other persons or their property,” which is the basis of tort law and some criminal law.
Where you find these laws most widely obeyed, especially by government, you find the most peace and prosperity and economic advancement, especially peace. In areas where they are less obeyed, you find chaos.
The area that I refer to as Chaostan never developed legal systems based on those two laws, at least not legal systems that the governments feel obligated to follow. I should point out those two fundamental laws provide the foundation for the old British common law, which was the basis of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution – essentially the legal documents that make America what it is or, rather, what it was.
So that’s the essential thing, that Chaostan is the primary area that never developed rational legal systems, or at least not rational legal systems that governments are required to obey. As a result, throughout history they have suffered, and will continue to suffer, political, economic and social upheaval… chaos.
DG: Which brings us to the present, with a real flare-up going on in Chaostan. As Doug Casey has often said, “The thing that gets you is the thing you don’t see coming.” Other than you and Doug, no one else I’m aware of anticipated the current trouble in places like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. One day, things are quiet, the next we’ve got all sorts of major oil-producing countries – countries that people believed would never really change – up for grabs. What are your general thoughts on the situation?
RM: Since you’ve read Early Warning Report for so many years, you know that there is nothing going on today that surprises me or my readers. That’s the direction I thought Chaostan would go. I’m just surprised that it took as long to get to this point as it did. In that regard, I have often used a quote from Doug…
DG: ”Just because something is inevitable doesn’t make it imminent”?
RM: That too, but I was thinking of this quote to the effect of, “The nasty things that you think are coming always take longer to arrive than you think they will, but once they get here, they make up for their tardiness by being worse than you thought they’d be.”
I think that’s a fantastic observation, and it sure does apply here. I’ve always been convinced that this mess was going to happen, but will confess to being amazed that it is all happening at the same time, and that it’s occurring in such a short period of time.
DG: What do you attribute the upheaval to?
RM: There are two big things going on: One is the fall of the U.S. Empire, and that is leading to the second, which is the breakup of the geopolitical matrix. In the case of the latter, I am referring to the many relationships the governments of the world have with each other and with their own people.
This matrix of relationships and political structures are called countries, most of which have existed for a long time, but that’s breaking up now, in part because, in most cases, the borders between these countries were drawn a long time ago by people who knew nothing about the local populations.
While the breakup is starting in North Africa, I think it’s going to spread across most or all of Chaostan. And it will have effects even in North America and South America. While it’s almost impossible to predict exactly how, it’s my view the world that we grew up in is going away, and it will be replaced by some new political matrix.
These changes will only be exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. Empire that we grew up with is crumbling very fast. As the U.S. Empire collapses, all sorts of relationships will die, leading to yet more chaos. You can see this with Obama calling up Mubarak and ordering him to resign, so I think chaos is the only word that fits.
As far as I know, nothing on this scale has ever happened before in world history, and for people who don’t understand it and are not paying close attention, it’s going to be hell. But for those who do understand it, it’s going to be one of the biggest money-making opportunities in all of world history.
I don’t know what to say other than just look out.
DG: We’ll get back to the money-making opportunities momentarily. First, however, a bit more on the crumbling U.S. Empire, an assessment we agree with. The administration was clearly caught flat-footed by what happened in Egypt. First it supported Mubarak’s regime and then, as you noted, it flipped and Obama demanded he go. It seems like right now the U.S. government really doesn’t even know whom it should be talking to, let alone supporting, in these various countries.
This is no small matter seeing that for decades much of U.S. foreign policy has been directed at ensuring a steady supply of oil by creating relationships in the Middle East, including setting up and supporting various despots. With these relationships now at risk, the U.S. government has to be seriously concerned that it will see a steep degradation of its influence in the Middle East. Would you agree?
RM: Yes, I think U.S. government influence in the area is probably almost completely gone. The only real influence they have is within, let’s say, a hundred miles of any given aircraft carrier. I don’t think Washington is taken seriously by anybody anymore, except for its military power.
The simple fact is, and you saw this in the Bush administration as well as in the Obama administration, it’s clear to everybody that they don’t know what they’re doing. They have absolutely no understanding of the things that they’re meddling in.
I remember watching a television interview with Condoleezza Rice right after 9/11, when she said “Nobody in the White House knew where Afghanistan was.” And that after the Twin Towers came down, they all gathered in the Oval Office and had somebody bring in a globe so that they could all find out where Afghanistan was.
DG: Of course the region really only matters to the U.S. because of its oil, and I think right now something like half of Libya’s production is off line. Do you see the situation region-wide affecting supplies on a sustained basis?
RM: Let me push back a bit on your comment that “The only reason it’s important to the U.S. is because of the oil.” I would modify that a little bit by saying, “The only reason the region is important to you and me is because of the oil.”
But to the U.S. government, the region is a place they have exerted their power, and that is what drives the U.S. government – a lust for power. You have a whole lot of people who spend their adult lives trying to acquire power, and once they get it, they want to use it on somebody, and one of the groups of people that they have used it on are those in the Mideast.
The American founders understood that. It’s why they created the Constitution as they did, as an attempt to limit the use of power, but the Constitution stops at the border. So U.S. politicians, almost right from the beginning, have gone outside the country to exert their power because it’s a whole lot easier to do it in other countries than it is to do it in this country, and we have to keep that in mind.
While the oil is definitely a big factor, more of an excuse, for the U.S. government’s involvement over there, it’s the exercise of power that they draw satisfaction from and that’s the reason they have meddled in these countries for so many decades.
Now as far as what’s going to happen with the oil, my guess is that there will be more uprisings, and Washington will try to establish new relationships with whatever regimes rise up out of that. In the end, as you know, fundamentally whoever owns the oil can’t do anything with it except sell it, and so they will sell it and we will buy it.
DG: Might the Chinese, for example, move in there and take these opportunities to redirect more oil in their direction?
RM: Sure, but you’ve got to pay for the cost of the extraction, and there will be all sorts of governments, probably already are, sending agents in there to try to steer things in directions favorable to them, and they will try to use whatever oil they get control of as a weapon against their enemies.
I’m not talking about anything that hasn’t, in essence, been going on for centuries. That’s how governments behave. I have no idea how it’s going to shake out in the end, other than to say that ultimately whoever owns the stuff is going to sell it to somebody. They may not sell it directly to the United States or to U.S. oil companies, but they’ll sell it somewhere in the world, and that will increase the general world supply, and the U.S. will then buy oil from somebody.
I think that a whole lot of politics will be tangled up in these transactions, but I guess maybe the main factor to keep in mind is how much of the oil infrastructure is going to be destroyed while these governments are maneuvering against each other over there. While it’s too early to say, if a lot of that infrastructure isn’t destroyed, I’ll be very surprised.
DG: With the U.S.’s long relationship with Israel and support for all sorts of despots in the region, is the guy on the streets in the Middle East anti-American at this point?
RM: I’ve heard of a few incidents here and there, but the impression I get is that people around the world generally like the individual American, because we are a personality they have never run into before.
In most countries, if you tell an insulting joke about the government, everybody looks over their shoulders to find out if somebody overheard. An American never looks over his shoulder when he tells a political joke, and they find that fascinating. We speak with confidence and openly and about subjects that they will never talk about in public. So they’re captivated with our personalities as individuals, but they really hate and fear our government, just like many Americans do.
To illustrate that point, just think about the sick feeling you get in your gut when you go to your mailbox and find a letter with a return address for the IRS. Now imagine what it’s like being, let’s say an Iranian, and looking out your kitchen window and seeing an American guided missile cruiser sitting out there in the water.
DG: I remember when I lived in Chile being shocked to see U.S. soldiers jogging in double lines up the roads. This was a regular sight. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how people in the U.S. would react if Iraqi troops were a regular sight in their towns.
Back to the question of oil, the big players in the region are Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Do you think Saudi Arabia, in particular, will be in play before this is over?
RM: They already are in play in the sense that they’re trying to steer events in directions that are favorable to them. Maybe we should explain to the readers where Saudi Arabia came from. This is not a natural country. It is a country created by the government of Britain. Britain went into Arabia and picked the Saudi tribe as the one that ought to run the place as a surrogate of the British government. They supported the Saudi tribe so the Saudi tribe could conquer the other tribes, and that’s essentially what Saudi Arabia is today.
It’s as if someone went into Texas and picked the Jones family to run Texas and renamed the place Jones Texas. That’s what Saudi Arabia is, and the other tribes don’t enjoy being dominated by the Saudi tribe, so there is inherent tension in that country all the time. The way the Saudi tribe tries to avoid violence is by buying off the population. They just keep pumping money into the population in an attempt to keep them fat, dumb and happy, but the population is getting tired of the whole scam, and that ancient hatred of the Saudi tribe is always there, just under the surface. There is a horrible resentment in the population.
When the ocean of oil is poured into the mix, yielding unimaginable riches for the Saudi rulers, it’s a nitro and glycerin combination that people have been writing about for decades. I’m one of them. I’m amazed Saudi Arabia is still there. I thought it would have blown up a long time ago, but it could be the uprisings spreading all across the Islamic world now that light the fuse on their overthrow.
Saudi Arabia is the big prize, and this means a lot of people want it and they’ll be likely to fight over it – and where it is going to go, I don’t know. This may be the greatest level of uncertainty since World War II.
DG: It would be logical that the U.S. military-industrial complex is going to use all this instability as an excuse to rationalize continuing with the huge levels of military spending, which is a big problem in terms of reducing the deficit. Do you see the U.S. military remaining as big as it is, or is there a change coming as the empire continues to dwindle down?
RM: I think there will be some token cuts to the military, but I can’t see anything serious because all you need to do to get the American people to support a larger military is to just scare them a little bit. And that’s easy to do – in this present situation it is very easy to do.
So I would tend to think that all you’ve got to do is announce that we need more aircraft carrier battle groups, because the oil supply is threatened, and the typical American on the street is going to say fine, build more aircraft carriers.
A point here to keep in mind is that, yes, the U.S. has by far the largest military force in the world, but Washington has taken unto itself the largest military obligation in the world – namely the responsibility of policing the whole planet. There is no other country that thinks it has the obligation to police the earth, so in terms of fire power versus territory that is being controlled, Washington is actually very weak and its enemies know this.
DG: Recently the U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates told cadets at West Point that we may never fight another large ground war. Do you believe that? I mean, if Saudi Arabia gets really unstable, do you think we are going to put boots on the ground there?
RM: Yes, definitely. This idea that you can fight a war without the use of ground forces is ridiculous. It shows a lack of understanding of what government is. A government is an organization that has control over a given piece of territory, and to control it you’ve got to have infantry standing on the ground. The phrase “boots on the ground” is a very good one for that.
The place has to be occupied by soldiers with rifles, and if you don’t have the ability to do that, then you can’t control the place. You can just bomb the heck out of it, but eventually you’ve got to put troops on the ground.
DG: Yet in his speech to the cadets, Gates said that wars like Afghanistan are not likely and in fact he would advise against it. I have a copy of the article here, and I quote; “In my opinion, any future defense secretary that advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the middle of Africa should have his head examined.”
RM: What he’s saying is absolutely true, that you should not get involved in foreign wars, but I think it’s a naïve idea to assume that they won’t do it, because after all it’s a government. It wants to use its power. It’s going to use its power on somebody, and it will get into more wars, because the people who run the government are power seekers and they want to use their power. Until there is an amendment to the Constitution that says the U.S. government can’t meddle in other countries, we’re going to have wars in other countries.
DG: Speaking of foreign entanglements, Israel has got to be watching all this stuff with great concern.
RM: Yes, if I were the Israelis, I’d be pretty scared, and certainly they are also working secretly to try to steer events in directions favorable to them. I don’t know what to say about it other than the old phrase, “The situation is fluid.”
It sure is fluid, no doubt.
DG: Returning just for a moment to your contention that governments need to exercise power. Is this just a psychological aberration amongst power seekers, or is there more to it than that?
RM: I regard it as a mental illness. People such as you and me and our readers are generally wealth seekers. We want to live a prosperous, comfortable life and we seek wealth in order to do that. By contrast, people who rise to the top in government are power seekers. They get their satisfaction from forcing other people to do what they want. They are essentially bullies.
Let’s offer a little proof here. Practically every piece of legislation enacted in the last 100 years has involved the use of force on persons who have not harmed anyone. Anybody who wants that privilege has to have something wrong with them, so I think it’s a given that when you’re dealing with a high-level politician or a high-level bureaucrat, you’re dealing with somebody who likes to push other people around, and that’s the fundamental factor that the American founders were looking at when they created the Constitution. They understood that political power corrupts the morals and the judgment.
DG: A moment ago, you mentioned that one way the government can get people to go along with its schemes is to scare them, and history supports that this isn’t a new tactic. Yet, a lot of Americans look at 9/11 as proof that Muslim extremists are after us and we have to defend ourselves, and see that as sufficient rationale for the U.S. military to take action in the Middle East. Even from our readers, we hear things like “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” How would you respond to that?
RM: I know a lot of people that seem to need somebody to hate, and when the government gives them somebody to hate, they’re grateful. I’ve known a lot of people like that. They enjoy despising whole classes of people, painting them all with the same brush, even the children.
DG: Yet people would argue that the U.S. government did not give us the Arabs to hate. They blew up the World Trade Center. There is clear evidence that in fact somebody does hate us, and so we should hate them back.
RM: Yes, well, as Ron Paul has pointed out, and I think this is a direct quote from Ron, “They didn’t come over here until we went over there.”
DG: And we’ve been over there an awfully long time at this point.
RM: That’s right. You can go back 200 years, if you want, which I do. The original war between the U.S. and Muslims was the Barbary Wars back in the early 1800s, and that was essentially an extension of the Crusades. The Europeans were fighting the Muslims, and the Europeans hoodwinked the American politicians into joining the war on their side.
When you hear the Marine Corps hymn “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli,” to the shores of Tripoli refers to the Barbary Wars in which the U.S. came into the Crusades against the Muslims on the side of the Europeans.
So you can go back 200 years when the Europeans manipulated us into this thing, or you can count the modern onset as being in the 1940s when Roosevelt made an agreement to support the Saudis. There has never been a case where an Islamic government sent armies into the United States, but the U.S. has done it in the Mideast numerous times.
DG: Speaking of being manipulated, it is always remarkable to me how the British were up to their necks in Israel, as were the French in Vietnam, and presto chango, they’re out of the picture, replaced by the Americans. How we ended up as Israel’s number one benefactor is amazing, just as it is amazing to me that we ended up losing 50,000 men in Vietnam after the French left. It makes no sense to me, but I guess it’s to be expected once you start getting drawn into foreign adventures.
What else are you following for your readers? What sort of themes are you getting into?
RM: In terms of economics, we’ve been writing about the decline of the dollar for years now. But actually, as of the March issue, I’m making a turn and going back to a much deeper geopolitical orientation, because I think what’s going on in the Islamic world now is going to be at least as dominant as the fall of the Soviet Empire was back in the 1990s.
Jim Powell has made an interesting point. He said that it won’t be very long and we will all be looking back and referring to life before Tunisia and life after Tunisia, and I think that is true. The Tunisia uprising will be viewed akin to the attack on Pearl Harbor or the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 where life was totally different after that incident happened. I think we’re in that situation now.
DG: And I take it for granted that you think oil is going a lot higher.
RM: Yes, not that it isn’t going to have corrections along the way, but I’ve been predicting for a long time we are going to see oil at $300 a barrel. I don’t know when, but I’m sure it’s coming.
DG: And gold is a core holding at this point?
RM: Absolutely, gold and silver. I think they still have a long way to go, which is to say the dollar still has a long way to fall.
DG: Any other quick investment ideas that you would share?
RM: I still like Fidelity Select Defense and Aerospace Fund. The symbol is FSDAX. I think the military industries are going to be selling a lot of weapons, and so why not invest in it?
Our newsletter is based on what I regard as the two carved-in-granite long-term economic trends; one of them being the decline of the dollar and the other one being war. I think those are locked in, and so I recommend people buy investments that do well during wartime or during periods of currency debasement, which we have. Those two trends – war and currency debasement – are essentially what Early Warning Report’s whole strategy is at this point. Buy whatever does well during war and currency debasement.
DG: A final question. Do you see the government pulling out of Afghanistan more or less on schedule?
RM: I doubt it, but given how fluid the situation is, who knows? Gates’ comment was very revealing. It is amazing he would admit in public that it was a stupid thing to go into Afghanistan. If U.S. officials can divert the public’s attention enough with what’s going on in North Africa, maybe they can pull it off – maybe they can cut and run, and let the Afghan government fall without the American public noticing the lives that were wasted propping it up.
The one thing I can tell you for sure is that if you want to keep track of what’s really going on in the world, you have to watch the aircraft carriers. The U.S. has 10 aircraft carriers – the big super-carriers – and they are always an indication of what Washington is really serious about.
DG: So when you read that a carrier is being moved into a certain area, then that’s a tip-off that something’s about to go on?
RM: Yes. The position of carriers is a tip-off. Google “Positions of U.S. Aircraft Carriers.” Secondarily, Washington uses amphibious warfare ships as substitutes for the big carriers, so you want to keep an eye on those as well.
[Every month, The Casey Report dissects current U.S. and geopolitical events, economic and market trends – using in-depth, big-picture analysis to discover the best profit opportunities for investors. Learn all about crisis investing, and how to beat rampant inflation by acting smarter. Free report here.]
The UN report came out on the same day that 28 NATO members agreed to extend the alliance’s mission in the strife-torn North African nation by 90 more days
The Libyan government and opposition are both guilty of war crimes against humanity, UN investigators said on Wednesday.
Human rights experts based their finding on evidences such as murder and torture. The investigators said the pattern of the war crimes indicate that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is behind them. Although the UN mission found the opposition equally guilty of war crimes, the group said the war crimes were not as numerous.
Three human rights experts made up the group of investigators, and met both sides while conducting the probe. They also had meetings with human rights groups, medical professionals, and families of detained protesters.
The panel interviewed 350 Libyans in government- and rebel-held areas and refugee camps outside Libya.
The UN report came out on the same day that 28 NATO members agreed to extend the alliance’s mission in the strife-torn North African nation by 90 more days.
The situation in Libya continues to worsen as explosions were reported early Thursday in Tripoli after NATO planes conducted their regular air strikes on the Libyan capital.
Another major Libyan official, who was earlier reported to have defected, confirmed on Wednesday that he has deserted Gaddafi. Libyan Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem said the worsening peace and order situation in Libya was his reason why he decided to leave the government.
Ghanem, who is temporarily staying in Italy, is planning to join the opposition movement when he returns to Libya. But he has no timetable yet on how long he would remain in Rome and when will he go back to Libya.
The ten rules of living and of social behaviour of
rational humanism for a more harmonious and just world
1- Proclaim the natural dignity and inherent worth of
all human beings, in all places and in all
2- Respect the life and property of others at all
3- Practice tolerance and open-mindedness towards the
choices and life styles of others.
4- Share with those who are less fortunate and
mutually assist those who are in need of help.
5- Use neither lies, nor spiritual power, nor temporal
power to dominate and exploit others.
6- Rely on reason and science to understand the
Universe and to solve life’s problems, avoiding
religious and supernatural superstitions which numb
the mind and are an obstacle to thinking by oneself.
7- Conserve and improve the earth’s natural
environment —land, water, air and space—as humankind’s
8- Resolve differences and conflicts cooperatively
without resorting to violence or to wars.
9- Organize public affairs according to individual
freedom and responsability, through political and
10- Develop one’s intelligence and talents through
education and effort, in order to reach fulfillment
and happiness, for the betterment of humanity and of
Florida’s Republican governor has invoked the fury of privacy advocates after signing into law a bill requiring welfare recipients to undergo drugs tests.
Rick Scott is already facing a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida seeking to half a similar order mandating drug testing for state employees.
The ACLU has slammed the law as an ‘extreme overreach’ of his powers. Officials are considering a similar lawsuit over the welfare bill, which he signed into law yesterday.
But Mr Scott was defiant over the laws, proclaiming that taxpayers should not have to subsidize drug addiction.
‘While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,’ he said.
‘This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.’
Opponents have slammed the tests as a similar waste of taxpayers’ money, however.
Welfare applicants who test positive will not receive government help for a year, or until they undergo treatment.
Those who fail a second time will be banned from receiving public funds for three years.
If they are found to be drug free they will be reimbursed for the tests, according to the law.
The law is set to come into force by July 1.
It immediately drew an outcry from the ACLU.
‘The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn, as well as their families, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse,’ said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
‘Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound policy. Today, that unsound policy is Florida law.’
The ACLU has already gone to court with Mr Scott over the drug testing of state employees.
Mr Scott ordered drug testing of new hires and spot checks of existing state employees under him in March and gave state agencies 60 days to decide how to implement the plan.
The state already has the power to test employees if they suspect drug abuse, but this order could apply to state employees regardless of suspicions.
‘This is a governor who is willing to use the power of government to intrude upon your rights in Florida,’ Mr Simon said.
‘The analysis of urine also tells a lot more about you that is nobody’s business,’ he said.
That includes whether an employee is pregnant, or taking heart, diabetes, depression or other medications.
The ACLU won a similar lawsuit on behalf of a Department of Juvenile Justice employee in 2004 after a federal judge said random testing without suspicion was unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee determined the department was wrong to fire an office employee because he had no direct contact with children nor were there any safety reasons for the testing, such as carrying a gun or driving.
Judge Hinkle did not reinstate the employee but ordered mediation. The state settled with the former employee for $150,000.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed blanket suspicion-less drug testing only if ‘the risk to public safety is substantial and real.’
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a union representing about 50,000 state employees and Richard Flamm, a 17-year state employee from St. Petersburg who works as a researcher for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
‘It’s kind of insulting that my boss, in essence the governor, is treating his staff like this,’ said Mr. Flamm. ‘It’s an egregious use of taxpayer money.’
Florida’s Constitution guarantees public employees the right to bargain, but it also prohibits them from striking, giving them little leverage.
An attorney for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, said the governor’s office has not contacted them about the issue.
Critics say the tests could cost the state millions, creating unnecessary expenses while government budgets have been slashed.
‘We have a chief executive saying I want to put perhaps millions of dollars out of my state budget to pay for unnecessary, unconstitutional drug testing when he have an economic crisis, when we have budget slashes. It is disappointing,’ said Alma Gonzalez , an attorney for AFSCME.
The governor’s office could not provide an estimate on how much the testing may cost, saying they are still working out logistics.
‘If it makes good business sense for private sector companies to drug test their employees, why wouldn’t it make good business sense for the state,’ a spokesman said.
Agreements between private citizens and private companies are not protected under the same Constitutional rights as state employees, according to ACLU attorneys.
Many times, technologies from popular science fiction movies have later blended with real science and technology to become reality. Deployment of just such surveillance technology, somewhere between mind-reading machines and a “pre-crime” program, is currently being tested against real life to remotely detect terrorists or assassins, to find people with malicious intentions.
So whether someone cut you off in traffic or you had a spat with your significant other, if you are having adrenaline-driven aggressive thoughtsand you are in northeastern USA, you might quickly take a chill pill because that’s where terrorist “pre-crime” detectors are being tested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
According to Nature magazine, in an undisclosed location in the northeast, Homeland Security has been testing its Future Attribute Screening Technology(FAST) program which is designed to ‘sense’ and spot people who intend to commit a terrorist act. Critics of FAST have compared the system to the ‘pre-crime’ concept that was made famous in the film Minority Report. FAST technology uses remote sensors to detect when a person experiences irregular physiological properties like increased heart rate and darting eye movements that are supposedly associated with malicious intent.
FAST merges technology with behavioral science [PDF] and has been in development since 2008. According to the DHS privacy impact document, there are five remote sensors that can measure heart and respiration rates, and remote eye trackers that can measure pupils, position and gaze of eyes. There are also thermal cameras as well as audio to analyze pitch changes in human voices. High resolution video is used to analyze facial expressions and body movement. “Other sensor types such as pheromones detection are also under consideration.” Previous FAST testing involved people passing through the system while role-playing that they would carry out a “disruptive act.”
As TechEye noted, “DHS claimed the machine was accurate 70 percent of the time [and] the other 30 percent will probably get out of Guantanamo Bay in a couple of years.”
DHS has compared FAST to lie detector tests, except it does not involve active questioning of the subject. The non-contact sensors measure sweating and the steadiness of a person’s gaze to judge state of mind. Although there is no mention of ‘precog’ mutants like in Minority Report, it does bring to mind the pre-crime program from the movie. Aren’t terrorists trained to avoid detection and possibly beat lie detector tests?
Tom Ormerod, a psychologist in the Investigative Expertise Unit at Lancaster University, UK, told Nature, “Even having an iris scan or fingerprint read at immigration is enough to raise the heart rate of most legitimate travelers.” Other critics have been concerned about “false positives.” For example, some travelers might have some of the physical responses that are supposedly signs of mal-intent if they were about to be groped by TSA agents in airport security.
Yes, FAST is much more advanced than a “mood ring” or stress detector, but for people who feel like false positives can grind against the grain of liberty, then perhaps attempt to be very mellow in public? If you don’t travel much, then let’s hope that experienced security or customs agents can use their better judgment to determine that is why you are nervous.
David Cameron and Barack Obama ”don’t have a clue” about dealing with the war on terror, a former senior member of the CIA has claimed.
Speaking at The Daily Telegraph-sponsored Hay Festival, Michael Scheuer said western politicians had to accept that the conflict in the Middle East was caused by US foreign policy.
Mr Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit said that the terrorist and organisations such as al-Qaeda were fighting a war against US imperialism rather than a war on western culture.
”American politicians, and I’m afraid listening to Mr Cameron this week, there’s not a clue about what’s going down in the western world,” he told the festival.
”They can’t cope with the fact that it’s nothing to do with the way we live. It doesn’t have anything to do with elections or democracy or liberty.
”We are being attacked in the west and we will continue to be attacked in the west as long as we are in Afghanistan, as long as we support the Israelis, as long as we protect the Saudi police state.”
He added: ”Yet we hear the President, we hear your Prime Minister, talking about thugs and gangsters. We are still in the starting blocks in this war.
”The main recruitment sergeant for al Qaida is Barack Obama because his speech on the May 19 was a declaration of cultural war on Islam.”
Mr Scheuer, who was speaking at the Festival, in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, is a controversial figure in intelligence and political circles.
He left the bin Laden unit two years before September 11 but was called back as an adviser in the wake of the terrorist attack.
Mr Scheuer described his experiences in his book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism. It was published anonymously in 2004, but Mr Scheuer was soon outed as the author.
His book drew criticism in the US, but was praised for its insight in a speech by bin Laden himself.
In a round of questions, a member of the audience asked Mr Scheuer what advice he would give Mr Obama.
”I would ask him to tell the truth,” he replied.
”He, the first Mr Bush, then Mr Clinton and the second Mr Bush have assiduously lied to the American people for 20 years and as a result have made the relations in the United States between Muslims and other people much more difficult.
”They have identified the motivation of our enemy as a war against liberty, as a war against gender equality.”
He added: “There is almost no Muslim out there who is an insane character who is going to blow himself up because my daughters go to university.
”What I try and show in my book is that there is no discussion by bin Laden of this cultural war that is supposed to be waged against us.
”A president who was a statesman and a politician might say something like ‘I’m sorry we’ve been kinda lying to you for 30 years and why we are being attacked is until recently we were supporting fascism across the Middle East’.”
He continued: ”In the rhetoric of our enemies there is very little, if anything, about attacking us for how we live or how we think or how we act in our own country.
”It is about intervention, it is about being in the Arab Peninsula and it has nothing to do with these cultural things.
”We are the ones that are arranging the cultural war against them. What we will see as al Qaida evolves is that the next generation is better educated, combat experienced and probably much crueller.”
Mr Scheuer said the only way to end the war on terror was to withdraw from the Middle East to an extent that is ”consistent with our interests”.
He added: ”The American relationship with Israel, in my mind, is a useless and unnecessary relationship.
”As long as we are playing a role we are the recruiting sergeant for the people that are going to kill us.” (The EU Times)
Hundreds of heavily armed Taliban besieged a Pakistani checkpost on the Afghan border for a second day Thursday, killing 23 police and five civilians in the deadliest fighting for months.
A senior police official told Agence France Presse that 500 militants, including Afghan Taliban from across the border and Pakistani Taliban, took part in the attack which began before dawn on Wednesday and continued more than 24 hours later.
Officials said the militants targeted the Shaltalu checkpoint, surrounded by mountains and forest in the northwestern district of Upper Dir, about six kilometers from the border with Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
The Pakistani military sent reinforcements to the police check post, deploying helicopter gunships in a bid to quell the attack along the porous border, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants are dug in.
“We have regained control of most of the area but fighting is still going on in some parts near the check post, which was attacked by around 500 Pakistani and Afghan Taliban,” senior police official Qazi Jamil ur-Rehman told AFP.
He said 28 people were killed in the attack, including 23 policemen and five civilians, among them two women, who died when mortar bombs fired by militants targeting the post landed in nearby houses.
Rehman said more than 20 police personnel were wounded, but he had no information on casualties among the Taliban.
“Frontier Corps (paramilitary) troops, army helicopters and artillery and police personnel are taking part in the operation,” said Rehman.
Taliban and other Islamist militants have carved out strongholds on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a region that the United States has called one of the most dangerous regions on Earth.
Upper Dir is part of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and borders the region where the military waged a major offensive to put down a local Taliban insurgency in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat in 2009.
Thousands of Pakistanis have died in bomb attacks over the last four years and thousands more soldiers have been killed fighting homegrown militants.
But since U.S. Navy SEALs found and killed al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad on May 2, Washington has increased pressure on Pakistan to take more decisive steps.
On Wednesday, the commander in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa played down “media hype” over the prospect of an imminent military offensive in North Waziristan, considered the premier militant fortress on the Afghan border.
Local newspaper The News reported this week that Pakistan had decided to launch a “careful and meticulous” military offensive in North Waziristan after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Islamabad.
But Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the corps commander supervising all military operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told reporters: “We will undertake operation in North Waziristan when we want to.”
The remote, mountainous region has attracted major interest in the United States as a fiefdom of the Haqqani network, one of its most potent enemies across the border in Afghanistan and thought to have a core of 4,000 fighters.
The al-Qaida-linked group attacks only across the border in Afghanistan, and is said to have long-standing ties to Pakistan’s intelligence services.
A private Washington think tank is now warning that the United States should delay much of a multibillion-dollar package to Pakistan pending economic reforms as the aid has led to official inaction and public resentment.
A report by the Center for Global Development said that U.S. assistance to Pakistan had become “muddled” with a lack of clear goals and leadership and pressure “to do too much, too quickly.”
U.S. lawmakers are questioning aid to Pakistan — which has totaled $20 billion since the September 11, 2001 attacks — since the bin Laden debacle.
India’s democratic institutions are failing just as miserably as governments from Tunisia to Libya, Ranjani Iyer Mohanty argues in the Atlantic. And as voting has failed to do the trick, an Arab Spring-style revolution is needed to initiate change.
Those [same] failed government institutions, morally corrupt or at least morally inept, certainly exist here [in India] as well. Last year alone, the Indian government was implicated in corruption scams that amounted to billions of dollars swindled from the public. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranks India at 87 — below Serbia, Colombia, and even China. Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, ranks 59. Even the families living under the overpass need to pay off the police to allow them to remain there.
India’s failed institutions also include those that fail in their role of looking after a large section of the population. Two formal reports have independently estimated the proportion of Indians living below the poverty line as 77 and 50 percent, though the Indian government touts a third report, which found a more palatable 37 percent. But even this figure would put some 420 million Indians in poverty. Other statistics are equally galling. Even among BRICS — the informal community of developing economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — India lags behind the other nations in, for example, literacy among women and girls in secondary school. The latest Global Hunger Index ranks India as 67 out of 84 countries — far below neighbors China at number 9, Sri Lanka at 39, Pakistan at 52, and Nepal at 56. UNICEF reports that some 56 percent of Indian adolescent girls are anemic and 42 percent of children under the age of five are underweight. And food prices are rising.
There is a growing disconnect between India’s affluent and its poor. One man who has lived in Delhi all his life told me icily that there are no beggars on the streets here. Is he being defensive, or has he just stopped noticing them? An elderly woman complains that servants are no longer what they used to be, i.e., content with their lot. They are demanding time off, asking for raises, and trying to buy a scooter. A well-to-do Indian family of four could easily spend on one dinner at a nice restaurant the equivalent of their housekeeper’s monthly wages. A coffee in one of the city’s elegant five-star hotels costs the same as one day’s wages for the woman digging the ditch just outside in the sun, while her toddler sits bare-bottomed on the pile of rubble.
I have some sympathy for this view, of course. Democracy in India can seem like a revolving door — as one corrupt and incompetent pol clocks out, another one clocks in, and no proof of wrongdoing is enough to kill a career. But Mohanty may be looking to the wrong revolutionaries for a model. What’s India after a dramatic call against corruption pulls down the government? Some months back I was reading similar articles about Pakistan…. Why can’t Pakistan have a jasmine revolution etc. I said, it has, at least three times. Most recently, the anti-corruption lobby got itself General Pervez Musharraf. Or maybe most recently the revolutionaries got rid of Musharraf and got Asif Ali Zardari. But you see where I’m going here…
I’ll go out on a limb and say the revolution is underway in India, but the one that will make the difference isn’t being fought in the jungles with the Maoists or on the streets with Anna Hazare’s corruption protesters. It’s being fought by newly emerging civil society groups that are creating the framework of democracy that is too often ignored — institutions that are providing information that the media has not about the financial assets and activities of politicians, independent data and new ideas about India’s big problems (poverty, food, education) and so on
CHICAGO (AP) — An admitted American terrorist who is the government’s top witness in the trial of a Chicago businessman accused in the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks repeatedly lied to the FBI, a judge and even his wife as he cooperated in a plea deal to save his own life, defense attorneys said Tuesday.
David Coleman Headley, who has pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the three-day rampage in India’s largest city, spent five days on the witness stand detailing how he received orders from a Pakistani terrorist group and the country’s main intelligence agency to conduct video surveillance in Mumbai.
But defense attorneys for the Chicago businessman, Tahawwur Rana, told jurors that Headley’s account is unreliable even though he is the government’s key witness. They claim he implicated Rana, his longtime school friend, in the plot because he was motivated by the possibility of making a deal with prosecutors — a technique he learned in his time as an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“To get something good, you have to give them something good?” Rana defense attorney Patrick Blegen asked.
“Yes,” Headley said.
“You knew if you don’t get someone else arrested, all the weight of the case would rest on you alone?” Blegen said.
“Yes,” Headley answered.
Headley, who pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and extradition, wrapped up testimony Tuesday with prosecutors saying they expect to call up to eight more witnesses starting Wednesday.
None has been as anticipated as Headley, whose testimony has been scrutinized for what it has revealed about the global fight against terrorism. The trial comes on the heels of the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in Pakistan and amid suspicions that the country’s government may have known or helped hide the former al-Qaida leader. Pakistan has denied the allegations.
Headley testified Tuesday that a militant leader with ties to al-Qaida — who is also charged in Rana’s case — had plotted to attack U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Headley told jurors that in August 2009, he used one of Rana’s computers at his Chicago-based immigration services business to begin researching details about Lockheed Martin for Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani terrorist leader.
“He had people who had conducted surveillance,” Headley said of Kashmiri.
Headley said Kashmiri was angry over the U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan and wanted to target the defense contractor. Kashmiri leads the militant group Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, which has launched attacks in India and Pakistan, including a 2006 suicide bombing against the U.S. consulate in Karachi that killed four people, according to the State Department.
Headley didn’t provide details about the plot, which wasn’t carried out. He also said Rana did not know about it.
Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian, has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he provided Headley cover as a representative of his immigration business while Headley conducted surveillance for the attacks that killed more than 160 people. Rana has also pleaded not guilty to assisting Headley as he took surveillance for another planned attack on a Danish newspaper that in 2005 printed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that offended many Muslims.
Headley has detailed through emails, recorded conversations and transcripts how he took orders from both the Pakistani intelligence agency known as the ISI and the Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, that took credit for the Mumbai attacks.
In their final moments to question Headley before jurors on Tuesday, prosecutors reiterated that all of Headley’s work in plotting and planning were communicated with Headley’s Lashkar handler, Sajid Mir, and an ISI officer known only as “Major Iqbal” and Rana. Kashmiri, Mir and Iqbal, along with three others, are also listed on the Rana indictment, but their whereabouts are unknown.
The defense’s main focus has been to portray Headley as a liar who lived multiple lives and used his friend over the years. Rana and Headley, who are both 50, met as teenagers at a Pakistani military boarding school.
“He is a guy with a very troubled past and a very troubled history with the truth,” Blegen told reporters.
Under defense questioning, Headley admitted he lied in his initial statements to law enforcement when he said Rana had no knowledge of his plans. On Tuesday, he said he had sought a psychiatrist for a “mixed personality disorder” diagnosis, but did not disclose that treatment when asked by the judge in the case. He also acknowledged that he omitted details about his second wife when he spoke to his first wife.