Pak Army Finds No Proof of Its Own Guilt In University Attack–SURPRISE!

rahel-sharef-27-aug-16

Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif has told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that no “technical traces” of telephonic contact between the Kabul university attackers and people on its side of the border could be found, Pakistan media reported.

According to Dawn news, this information was conveyed during a telephone conversation between Ghani and Sharif.

This comes after Ghani said there was credible evidence that the university attack, which claimed the lives of at least 16 people, was planned by insurgents from across the border.

Dawn news reported that a Pakistan security source said the Afghan government shared three mobile phone numbers allegedly operating on the Pakistani side of the border, which it claimed had remained in contact with the attackers.

The report stated that the Pakistani army initiated a combing operation along the Afghanistan- Pakistan border near Chaman to find the suspected persons.

“We searched, but no-one was found during the operation,” the security source told Dawn news.

A Pakistan intelligence agency statement, meanwhile, said: “Our evaluation of the evidence provided and outcome of Combing Operation so far, has shown that all Afghan SIMs used during the attack were from a network owned and operated by an Afghan company whose spillover signal affects some areas along the Pak-Afghan border.”

Pakistani intelligence agencies are, however, continuing with the evaluation of the intelligence shared by Afghanistan after the attack.

Pentagon Has Flooded Iraq and Afghanistan with More Than One Million Guns

[Obama: Global arms dealer-in-chief]

The Pentagon has shipped more than a million small arms to Iraq and Afghanistan’s defense forces

center for public integrity

The quantity of arms contracted for export – worth several billion dollars – is greater than the number of personnel in their security forces and far more than the Pentagon has routinely indicated

AP_479649699267

An Afghan Army soldier picks up his weapon at a training facility in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.  Anja Niedringhaus/AP

The Pentagon has spent billions of dollars since 2001 funneling roughly more than a million assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, and machine guns into Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to fuel lasting conflict there, according to a new report by a London-based nonprofit research and advocacy group Action on Armed Violence.

At least 949,582 of these small arms were given to security forces in Iraq, and at least 503,328 small arms were given to local forces in Afghanistan, the group said. They called this an “under-estimate” based on the information they were able to acquire.

If the figures are correct, the US exports amounted to more than one small arm for each member of Afghanistan’s security forces, which totaled roughly 355,000 soldiers, police, and airmen in February 2015, according to a NATO operational update on the force. The number of armaments sent to Iraq also vastly exceeded the current size of that country’s active military and paramilitaries – 209,000, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 2016 Military Balance report.

Until now, the Pentagon hasn’t published such a tally of its own, so the group’s researchers spent a year scouring multiple databases to arrive at its estimate: a general Pentagon contract list, a government-wide contracting list, and multiple government reports on military spending. They finally calculated that the overall value of the contractually-agreed small arms shipments, just to those two countries, was roughly $2.16 billion.

U.S. intelligence reports and eyewitnesses have previously said that a significant fraction of the U.S.-financed arms were either lost or stolen, and that many wound up in the hands of forces opposed to US interests, including terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, or ISIS.

In 2007, for example, the General Accountability Office said the coalition forces in Iraq could not account for 190,000 U.S.-supplied weapons. A July 2014  audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction sharply criticized the Pentagon for not paying adequate attention to the fate of weaponry sent to Afghanistan, citing rampant discrepancies in records of gun serial numbers and other problems. In many instances over the past two years, U.S.-advised forces in those two countries have engaged in protracted clashes with terrorists equipped with captured caches of U.S. small arms, as well as U.S. tanks, artillery, and armored personnel carriers.

“There are direct and real consequences,” said Iain Overton, a veteran investigative journalist who is the group’s director, including “a destabilized Middle East.” He said Americans believe “that good guys with guns will get rid of bad buys with guns but that system doesn’t work when you throw guns into lawless, anarchic societies.” His group says its funding comes from “governments, institutions, and foundations,” and that it has a “partnership” with Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The report was released as international discussions are under way in Geneva about how to improve the implementation of a 2013 accord meant to provide transparency about small arms transfers, known as the Arms Trade Treaty. While the treaty does not restrict the number or type of weaponry that can be exported, it asks signatories not to sell arms that will create an overwhelming risk of negative consequences, including war crimes and attacks on civilians. The United States has signed the treaty but has not ratified it and is not a state party. As a result, it has not submitted annual reports of its arms transfers to others, as the treaty requires.

Indeed, finding information on arms exports to Iraq and Afghanistan is like trying to “[put] together a jigsaw puzzle with only half the pieces,” Nic Marsh, a researcher at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway who has worked on this issue since 2008 said in an email. Overton’s first attempts to gather information from the Pentagon about U.S.-financed exports of AK-47’s to Afghanistan, using the Freedom of Information Act, produced documents that he said were completely redacted.

KALISHNIKOV USA [USG procures its own AK47 factory just as US sanctions block purchases of Kalashnikovs from Russia.]

It’s clear that the Pentagon has not been eager to make the size of its small-arms exports as clear as it could. The Pentagon’s public announcements of contracts related to small arms exports to Iraq and Afghanistan, overseen by its press office, only list 19,602 of the 1.45 million small arms, or roughly 1 percent of the guns the department actually sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, the group’s report said. Of those publicly-disclosed contracts, a third were either mis-numbered or contained different information than versions of the same contracts that were listed in the Federal Procurement Database System, the report said.

When asked about the discrepancies, Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesperson, responded in an email to the Center for Public Integrity that the two public accounts are based on different definitions, “which if not clearly understood, can lead to incorrect conclusions.”

Wright gave a slightly smaller overall tally: “We have a total of about 1.1 million weapons that DOD either provided or assisted in providing to Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, noting that in some cases, individual contracts might have spelled out the maximum number of arms authorized to be shipped, rather than the number actually sent.

Overton said he stood by his larger tally, and that the team scoured their information for inaccuracies after carefully examining the differences between various databases.

Asked whether or not the Pentagon attempts to track where the guns it sells wind up, Wright responded that speed was “essential” in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “As a result, lapses in accountability of some of the weapons transferred occurred,” Wright wrote in an emailed statement also provided to other reporters asking about the group’s report. He said that the department now “tracks the origin, shipping, and in-country distribution of all weapons” it exports to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But even if such measures are carried out with great care – an unlikely event in Afghanistan, given the documented low literacy rates among local security personnel there, they cannot prevent U.S. armaments from being seized by others on the battlefield. The United States is not the only country that provided weapons to Iraq and Afghani forces that went missing over the past fifteen years, and not the only one to have exported weapons that specifically ended up in the hands of terrorists. In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity reported that fighters associated with the Islamic State had acquired or seized weapons from at least 21 countries, including the United States, China, Russia, and several Balkan states.

“A significant percentage of these weapons will go into the environment and eventually end up in the hands of the Taliban, ISIS” and other non-state actors, says Ed Laurance, an expert on armed violence and professor of international policy and development at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “Ammunition comes in, it goes out. Terrorists can get it, civilians can get it…it’s impossible to keep track of [small arms]” because the environments are so insecure.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Resisting Implementation of China Pak Econ. Corridor

[Corridor Front to stage protest against KP govt]

KPCCI to lodge protest against Infrastructure Development Cess

the news international

PESHAWAR: The business community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Thursday reiterated its decision to reject the imposition of Infrastructure Development Cess levied by the provincial government.

“We want to apprise the government that levy of this taxation is totally unjust and is unacceptable to business community,” said Zulfiqar Ali Khan, President Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI).

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, he said Infrastructure Development Cess is already collected by Sindh government and levy of the same tax by KP government is double taxation and businessmen have decided not to pay it.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a militancy affected province and business in this province is already under great stress due to poor law and order situation,” Zulfiqar said, adding, “In the prevailing circumstances imposition of double taxation is very unjust with the businessmen of the province.”

In order to flourish business in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has to provide incentives instead of further burdening the already pressed businessmen, Zulfiqar remarked. The KPCCI president said the business community would oppose the tax and avail all available option for its withdrawal.

“We can release advertisements in press, lodge protests, close our industries and finally approach the court, if our demand is not met,” he warned.

Speaking on the occasion, Industrial Association Peshawar (IAP) President Ghazanfar Bilour said the Sindh government is charging 0.9 percent cess on import and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had decided to charge additional one percent tax over the same consignment of goods.

 

Rights Don’t Come From Governments

Hinckley Walks–the Bush Connection

Bush Angle to Reagan Shooting Still Unresolved as Hinckley Walks

A Story I Had to Leave Out of My Book

who what why

Ronald Reagan, Bush Family

President Reagan with the Bush family. Left to right: Neil Bush, Marvin Bush, Reagan, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush.  Photo credit: Reagan Library
Why did George H.W. Bush and his cabinet determine that John W. Hinckley Jr. — the man who in 1981 tried to kill the newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan — was a lone nut, and no conspiracy, foreign or domestic, was involved? How did they arrive at this conclusion just five hours after the shooting, without any thorough examination?

And why won’t the Federal Bureau of Investigation release its documents on the shooter?

Hinckley, who was released from a federal psychiatric facility on August 5 after 35 years, remains a mystery, and that’s the way the government prefers it. Among the documents the Bureau withholds are those that reveal organizations linked to him — and the names of his associates.

One noteworthy individual will not even acknowledge knowing of Hinckley beforehand, someone associated with the shooter’s family, and an even longer history of dissociation — George H.W. Bush.

Most Americans have never heard about this — and even those who have will be intrigued by some little-known aspects. One is the rather unique way the Bush clan has dealt with or sought to dismiss such peculiar situations — and this is hardly the only one in which the family has been enmeshed.

Here’s an amazing example: Bush Senior, known to family and friends as “Poppy,” claimed he could not remember where he was when he heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. I discovered a good reason why he should have remembered — because he, himself, had been in Dallas that morning.

I learned this while researching the Bush dynasty for what would become the book Family of Secrets. I came upon one odd “coincidence” after another, weird ones that would make anyone’s eyebrows soar.

I also saw an FBI memo showing that the man who would later become Bush 41 had secretly called the FBI shortly after the shooting of President Kennedy with information on a man he said might be involved. It turned out that not only was the man not involved, but that Bush knew him personally — and even, via a subordinate, gave the man an alibi.

Too weird.

I also learned that Poppy Bush was a longtime acquaintance/friend of George de Mohrenschildt, the mysterious Russian “baron” who was perhaps the closest person to Lee Harvey Oswald in the year before Kennedy’s death.

Imagine my interest when I learned of de Mohrenschildt’s connections to American intelligence — and then that Bush Senior himself had covertly served the CIA for decades before being named CIA director as a purported “outsider” in 1976.

Indeed, he’d been secretly mucking around with the spy agency before, during, and after Kennedy was killed.

The CIA, of course, was later revealed by the Senate’s Church Committee investigation to be in the business of arranging the removal — or even the murder — of  national leaders in various parts of the world.

Imagine my fascination, then, to learn that John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot and nearly killed President Ronald Reagan in 1981 — an attempt which, if successful, would have resulted in then-Vice President George H.W. Bush moving up to the top spot — was none other than a friend of the Bush family.

How strange is that? So strange that it literally caused NBC News’s anchor John Chancellor’s eyebrows to arch as he reported the curious connection.

The story was broken by the now-defunct Houston Post, and then picked up briefly by the AP and UPI wire services, and some newspapers, plus Newsweek.

Then it vanished without a trace or further inquiry or comment in the mainstream media.

The story was so baffling and off-putting that even I, in writing Family of Secrets more than a quarter-century later, did not mention it. I was preparing to publish a book with so many shocking elements that the publisher and I worried about whether the mainstream media would even dare cover it, or review it fairly; in that context, the Hinckley-Bush connection seemed one provocation too far.

***

Fast forward to early August of this year, when news came that a federal judge had ordered John Hinckley released from captivity. Hinckley had already been granted partial freedoms over the years, including extended stays with his family outside the mental facility where he has been incarcerated. But now he is effectively “out,” albeit with some supervision.

Word of Hinckley’s release was met with pregnant silence, including from entities and individuals that bray about “law and order” — who routinely support jail time with no possibility of parole for all manner of individuals, particularly the poor and the unconnected.

Neither description, of course, fits Hinckley.

The Hinckleys and the Bushes have been friendly for decades, going back to the days when both families set down stakes in the dusty town of Midland, Texas, a magnet for the children of wealthy, East Coast families seeking to cash in on the oil boom.

The Hinckleys were donors to Poppy Bush’s political campaigns over the years, and they gave to support the first, unsuccessful bid for Congress of the young George W. Bush, in 1978. The families lived close to each other, they socialized; I saw indications that, at one point, they may have shared the same lawyer.

Even more strangely, Neil Bush, son of the vice president, was scheduled to have dinner with Hinckley’s brother, Scott, the day after the shooting.

The shooting took place on Monday, March 30, 1981. Neil and his wife, Sharon, were to have dinner with a girlfriend of hers who brought along Scott Hinckley as her date. Scott had supposedly been invited to round out the foursome.

Neil and his wife, and Scott, all lived in Denver at the time. Scott’s father’s oil company, Vanderbilt Oil, had its headquarters in Denver at that time. Scott was a company vice president.

Meanwhile, the shooter, John W. Hinckley Jr., lived from time to time with his family in a small town outside Denver. In fact, at the time he shot Reagan, he was living with his parents.

This put Neil Bush, the senior Hinckleys, Scott Hinckley, and would-be presidential assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. in close quarters over an extended period.

Neil might reasonably have been aware that John Jr. was having serious problems, and was in psychiatric care. And — given the Bush family’s politically-driven strategy of tracking and staying in touch with huge numbers of family friends and acquaintances, plus a fondness for sharing the doings of their network among themselves — the probability that Neil would have relayed to his parents John Jr.’s mental problems, and psychiatric treatments, is not remote.

In the fall of 1980, Hinckley was arrested at Nashville airport carrying three guns on the very day that then-president Jimmy Carter arrived in that city. (He is believed to have been stalking Carter, against whom the Reagan-Bush ticket was locked in combat) He was neither fingerprinted nor charged.

Notwithstanding the commonness of guns in Tennessee, once he was in custody, nobody seems to have discovered his troubled background and psychiatric problems or expressed any concern that a gun-toting non-local was arriving in the same city at the same time as the president.

(It’s interesting to note that just as Hinckley stalked candidates of both parties with widely differing political philosophies, authorities claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald took shots not only at President Kennedy, but also at General Edwin Walker, a Kennedy nemesis on the hard right.)

In late 1980 and early 1981, Hinckley was also stalking the actress Jodie Foster. He said that he had been hearing “voices” in his head — and became convinced that he and Foster had a special bond.

Interestingly, notes by Hinckley describing a conspiracy to assassinate a president were found in a search of his prison cell, according to Breaking Points, a memoir written by his parents. They said the notes referred only to “an imaginary conspiracy” and his lawyers dismissed them as far-fetched. They have never surfaced publicly.

The FBI declined to release 22 pages of documents that included the names of  associates and organizations linked to Hinckley, and details of his finances..

A jury bought the story that the Hinckley case was strictly one of a deranged individual obsessed with an actress and he was found guilty and packed off to the Washington-area St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital — an institution with a fascinating history of involvement with the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program, which focused on mind control experiments — and efforts to study the possibility of “programming” killers. Psychiatrists played a crucial role in recruiting subjects for these experiments. (Documents on Hinckley’s psychiatric records are among those kept secret.)

Congressional hearings in the 1970s revealed the existence of MK-ULTRA and these mind-control programs. Five years before the Reagan shooting, at the time of those hearings, the new CIA director was…. Poppy Bush.

John Hinckley Sr. (“Jack” Hinckley) was deeply involved with World Vision, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that receives heavy funding from USAID, the government organ that has historically been closely associated with the Central Intelligence Agency. He was close with the head of World Vision’s ministries, a former State Department official who worked, among other things, as an adviser in Vietnam.

Interestingly, another “lone nut” who changed the global landscape, Mark David Chapman, who shot and killed John Lennon, had been an employee of World Vision.

***

Vice President Bush seems never to have personally commented on his connections with the Hinckleys. In a typical non-response — which I noted in Family of Secrets is a Bush family tactic in dealing with sensitive information — a Bush aide, press secretary Peter Teeley, told a UPI reporter the day after the arrest: “I don’t know a damn thing about it. All I know is what you’re telling me.”

Of course, the issue was not what the British-born Teeley knew, it was what his boss knew. Asked whether Bush had mentioned knowing the Hinckleys, Teeley replied that the veep “made no mention of it whatsoever.” So there we have it: no actual comment from Poppy Bush himself.

Neil Bush, at a press conference the day after the shooting, did admit to one connection with the Hinckleys: he mentioned, in passing, that Scott Hinckley had also been at his house a couple of months earlier, at his surprise birthday party. Ostensibly he was there as the “date” of the same “close” female friend who was scheduled to dine with the Bushes the day after the shooting.

The apparent use of the woman friend of Sharon Bush to explain any connection between the families, despite an already existing direct connection between the families, warranted more attention.

This was again a typical pattern I had noted with the Bushes: stress another person, in this case, the female friend, as if she were the only connection between the Bushes and the Hinckleys, thereby diverting attention from the central fact: the Bushes and Hinckleys were themselves longtime friends. (Neil did claim he had never met the gunman or the gunman’s father — a claim that would be hard to disprove — and that would in any case hardly matter given the family-to-family connections.)

In any event, no evidence has ever surfaced that any of the Bushes were so much as questioned about their relationship to the Hinckleys by the FBI, Secret Service, or any other entity, and no investigation, informal or formal, appears to have taken place.

Meanwhile, the media’s focus was on the highly unpopular Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, whose statement that “I’m in charge here” in the minutes after Reagan’s shooting was turned into a meme that is remembered to this day, despite the fact that Haig had merely stated that he was in charge as the third in succession, “pending the return of the vice president and in close touch with him.”

Thus, the Haig story became a sensation, and successfully distracted just about everyone from the weird Bush-Hinckley connection.

1Poppy would have become president if Reagan died, rather than waiting eight long years. He had engaged in a bitter primary campaign against Reagan, who then surprised many people by taking Bush as his running mate. (Richard Nixon, once asked by an aide why he took such an unappealing and unpopular figure as Spiro Agnew as his vice president, reportedly answered, “assassination insurance.” It’s interesting to note that George H.W. Bush similarly chose Dan Quayle, a figure widely considered a “lightweight” ill suited to the presidency, as his running mate.)

In any case, although Reagan survived, Bush for a time served as de facto president — and after Reagan’s resumption of “power,” Bush remained an astonishingly influential vice president, to many, the real power in the country in many respects ever after.

***

Around the time of the shooting of Kennedy in Dallas, the Hinckleys were operating out of Dallas, with offices in the Republic Bank Building, a tower which housed many entities and individuals connected by varying degrees to intelligence activity, including the offices of the mysterious Russian “baron” George de Mohrenschildt (an old friend of George H.W. Bush), who was perhaps the principal influence in the life of Lee Harvey Oswald in the year leading up to the shooting of Kennedy.

In 1978, not long before Poppy Bush’s presidential bid, his son George W. was making his first bid for elective office (with donations from the Hinckley clan). Neil Bush was W’s campaign manager, living in the city of Lubbock.

Another person living there at that time was… John Hinckley Jr. Asked about that by a newspaper reporter, W. commented that it was “conceivable” Neil would have met Hinckley during that period.

As for himself, W. said at the time, “It’s certainly conceivable that I met him or might have been introduced to him. I don’t recognize his face from the brief, kind of distorted thing they had on TV and the name doesn’t ring any bells. I know he wasn’t on our staff. I could check our volunteer rolls.”

Was there any follow-up? Did Bush ever seek to learn more about Hinckley or explain what ways they were or were not acquainted? Not that I can find.

And then there is this: The very day that Reagan was shot, the Reagan-Bush Department of Energy notified the Hinckley family at Vanderbilt oil that the government might be forced to penalize the family business to the tune of $2 million. (AP, April 1, 1981) Was Scott coming to dinner with Neil to try to sort it out? Whatever happened, after John Hinckley shot Reagan, the penalty never materialized.

Neil never did provide a more satisfying explanation of why the shooter’s brother was coming to his house for dinner than that he was filling in as a date for a friend of his wife’s. But who had suggested the dinner in the first place, and who had recommended Scott be one of the foursome? That remains murky.

As for the shooter, here’s what Neil said about whether he knew or had met him: “I have no idea,” he said. “I don’t recognize any pictures of him. I just wish I could see a better picture of him.”

***

In a memoir, Bush aide Chase Untermyer, who accompanied Bush to the unveiling, writes:

I washed up and went to bed for a nap before writing this entry. Around 1:30, I was awakened by a call from Art Wiese of the Houston Post. Art related the possibility that Neil Bush (the VP’s son) may be acquainted with the alleged assailant, John W. Hinckley Jr. Neil and Sharon do know Hinckley’s brother (in Denver) and were planning to have dinner with them tomorrow night. The Hinckleys are a prosperous family, and John Sr. may have been a Bush contributor. Art wanted to know if this connection was known by GB…

As Art pointed out, even a slight Bush connection in this shooting could set off the conspiracy freaks.”….

“What’s up?” GB asked, seeing us all there.

“Did you talk to Neil last night?” Pete asked as we entered the West Basement.

“No; is it about this guy?”

“Yes.”

“Jesus.”

We all went into the VP’s office, where Pete related the story that Wiese had been working on and which was being played big in Houston and over the wires. GB appeared only mildly concerned, so little in fact that he didn’t think to call Barbara or ask any of us to do so.

This should have been one of the most investigated, most heavily reported stories for years after. Certainly, in contrast to the email scandal, Benghazi, Travelgate, and other complex and somewhat esoteric matters that became media rages, lasting on and on and dominating the public conversation, this peculiar Hinckley matter — which by any measure passes all the tests for something worthy of interest by law enforcement — just vanished.

Even when Neil Bush’s involvement in the massive Savings and Loan collapses that dominated headlines in the 1980s was widely reported, no mention was made of the fascinating Bush-Hinckley connection.

To sum up: John W. Hinckley’s brother attends a surprise birthday party at Neil Bush’s house in a period when John Hinckley was suffering serious mental problems. The government exerts financial pressure on the Hinckley family business. Hinckley shoots President Reagan, nearly making Neil Bush’s father the president. The financial pressure on the Hinckleys disappears, George H.W. Bush is in charge of the “investigation” of the shooting, the Hinckleys chalk it all up to their son’s demons, everyone focuses on Jodie Foster, and that’s the end of that.

Coincidence? Sure. Anything, after all, is possible.


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Neil Bush (Reagan Library) and John Hinckley (FBI / Wikimedia)

155 of Saddam’s and Obama’s MEK Terrorists Shipped To Albania


Bosnian El Mujahedeen Unit–The Republican Policy Committee, January 16, 1997 Report on Clinton and Bosnian Islamists

[Obama repeating Clinton’s mistakes in Albania, then Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia (SEE: The Mujahedin and Islamists in Bosnia ; Our terrorists ). ]

Large Group of MKO Terrorists Leave Iraq for Albania: Report

tasnim news

بدرود بغداد

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – 155 members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) are believed to have flown from Iraq to Albania on a civil aircraft, according to reports suggesting that the transfer was in coordination with American military forces and Saudis.

The MKO members had been residing in Camp Liberty near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and are said to be among the highest-ranking members of the terrorist group, including some of the aides and closest assistants of the group’s ringleader, Massoud Rajavi.

The early Thursday’s flight was bound for Tirana, Albania, the reports noted, saying it was planned to fly to Europe via a special flight path.

Informed sources in Iraq said the terrorist were scheduled to get out of the camp at 5 a.m. local time, Thursday.

A charter flight was expected to land in Baghdad’s airport, apparently in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to transfer the MKO terrorists, but the US military forces and Saudis are believed to be involved as well.

Just a couple of days ago, an MKO ringleader, Sorayya Shahri, along with several other members of the terrorist group fled from Camp Liberty, a former US military camp outside Baghdad.

The MKO – listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community – fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq and was given a camp by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

They fought on the side of Saddam during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-88). They were also involved in the bloody repression of Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq in 1991 and the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.

The notorious group is also responsible for killing thousands of Iranian civilians and officials after the victory of the Islamic revolution in 1979.

More than 17,000 Iranians, many of them civilians, have been killed at the hands of the MKO in different acts of terrorism including bombings in public places, and targeted killings.

Rule By the Elite, the “Natural Order,” Or A Pre-Revolutionary State?

[The following article would not normally merit posting on this site, considering its Pro-Democrat slant…Nonetheless, despite this shortcoming (which I attribute to the author being an Indian writer transplanted to the City of London, who is trying hard to turn his piece into another commentary on the American election), some very important and relevant issues are raised therein.  The “Pareto principle,” on control by the elite (20% control 80% of the wealth, 20% are troublemakers, who create 80% of the problems, etc.), vs-powder-keg politics, which teaches that an explosive rebellion by the oppressed 80% is inevitable.

ANY THOUGHTS?]

America’s New Normal is Threatening the ‘Naturalness’ of Elite Rule

wire

Bernie Sanders' popularity represents Americans' unhappiness with the elite who run the country and Hillary Clinton can feel it too. Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

Bernie Sanders’ popularity represents Americans’ unhappiness with the elite who run the country and Hillary Clinton can feel it too. Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

“Looks like the Pareto principle has been proven to be correct once again … Don’t mean to sound cynical but whether people are becoming poorer and desperate or expressing deep discontent, nothing is going to change. The [top] 20% are still going to dictate terms with their immense control over media and money.”

The quote above is one thoughtful reader’s response to the US presidential election campaign. Donald Trump appears to be losing ground – largely through his own off-the-cuff bigotry and xenophobia – and Bernie Sanders’ leftist challenge seems to have fizzled out as the Democratic Party unifies behind Hillary Clinton, all to defeat their common enemy: Trump.

The Pareto principle – named after the work of Italian political sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, is part of a larger theory that may be summed up as the inevitability and ‘naturalness’ of elite power. The history of power in all societies everywhere is one of elites – some fox-like and cunning (elite democracy), others leonine and masculine (rule by force) – circulating in an endless series of births, deaths and re-births. And quite right too, as ‘elitists’ assert.

So whatever the political label or rhetoric, elites always rule. The Pareto principle contends that about 20% of any population basically produces 80% of the desired results – whether we refer to police officers fighting crime or teachers educating students, or the ownership of wealth and the earning of income. Adding to this tradition, other major elite theorists, such as Robert Michels, have argued for an iron law of oligarchy: whichever political party – revolutionary or reactionary, fascist, communist or democratic, conservative or liberal – gains power, it is bound to be ruled by an elite minority that is better organised, more gifted, and effective, justly easing out the masses from real power.

Elitism certainly confirms the cynical belief that nothing ever truly can or ever will change. But its take on reality suggests that the future looks just like the past, effectively defying radical historical shifts in power be it between classes or races or nations.

Elitists like Pareto seemed to revere hereditary aristocracies where the ‘talents’ reigned supreme and democracy posed a threat, and Marxism threatened complete annihilation. Pareto’s birth in 1848 – a year of democratic revolutions in Europe as well as the publication of the Communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – and his death in 1923 in an era of rising fascism, tells its own story of the fear of change and the desire to return Italy to the past glories of the Roman empire.

The end point of Pareto’s predictions is also open to question and worth exploring in the US context. The change that Sanders and Trump represent is explicable only in the context of recent political history – increasing dissatisfaction with elites on the right and left exemplified by insurgencies from the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement, respectively. The Occupy movement spread across the nation, involved millions of people and expressed deep public discontent and anger – much of it shared among tea partiers on the right – especially in the areas of military spending, corporate welfare and opposition to special interests, especially the big banks that were bailed out by taxpayers after the 2008 financial meltdown.

Those movements were the tinder-wood for the Trump and Sanders insurgencies against their respective party elites in the 2016 primaries. According to American sociologist Alvin Gouldner, that means where there is an iron law of oligarchy, there is an equal and opposite law of struggle for democracy, an axiom especially true in the modern era. It is just a matter of time before the democratic eruption comes.

It might be worth considering another Italian thinker – Antonio Gramsci – who wrote about intellectual hegemony, political power, and political transformation: hegemony is almost always contested more or less openly and maintaining hegemony is no easy process. Gramsci offers hope through struggle and exposes the superficiality and inherent instability of elite domination, its openness to challenges from below.

Gramsci died in one of Benito Mussolini’s prisons but practised what he preached – “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” – and his work inspired millions to keep pushing for change, because change itself is inevitable, given time and the balance of power between the status quo and change makers, those who make real history.

Apply that principle to history and we see that things do change even if the change is partial, incomplete and unsatisfactory to many – the end of apartheid in South Africa, political independence for the colonial world, relative peace in Northern Ireland, major advances in racial power relations in the US, the transformation in women’s rights across (most of) the world. And if we apply Gramsci to American politics today, perhaps we might see a more complex picture – movements for change albeit tempered by a reassertion by status quo forces, the tentative, uncertain steps towards the domestication of a radical agenda with the original impulse hardly extinguished.

Hence, we see that Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine have been forced to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement due to the power of the Sanders movement and because of its appeal to rust-belt white workers, a portion of which are die-hard Trump supporters.

Clinton may not be a fully convinced opponent of Wall Street and big money politics – after all, she and former President Bill Clinton make millions annually in speaking fees paid by the likes of UBS and Goldman Sachs – but she does feel the direction of the political wind changing. We may see some movement on instituting a financial transaction tax on speculative behaviour, the strengthening of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – that senator Elizabeth Warren fought to establish – and action against corporate concentration.

Warren’s reputation has been enhanced by her stream of effective attacks on Trump and her campaign to rein in the power of the big banks seems to have been renewed by the Sanders movement. Sanders is acting as a major sponsor of the Warren-John McCain bill to restore key provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act – passed in the wake of the Wall Street crash of 1929 but repealed 70 years later during Bill’s presidency. The Act prevented banks from speculating with ordinary peoples’ hard-earned savings. Clinton is committed to pushing a modernised version of Glass-Steagall.

The necessity of higher wages – backed by a new federal minimum wage of $15 per hour – was forced on Clinton by Sanders’ representatives on the Democratic platform committee at the national convention.

Clinton was also forced to flip-flop on the abolition of college tuition fees – she is now committed to making state universities and colleges free for students from families earning less than $125,000 annually – over 80% of all students.

From significant plans for an infrastructure bank to lead the renewal of the US’ roads, railways, ports and bridges, to higher taxes on the 0.1% of top income earners, to a public option for healthcare cost reduction, to greater intra-party democracy, including reforming the super-delegates system, Sanders’ legacy may yet live on should Clinton win the White House.

As professor Bastiaan van Apeldoorn of the Free University of Amsterdam argues, “The old order may no longer be sustainable; but we may be witnessing an interregnum, with the old order dying and a new one struggling to be born. The choice may increasingly [have to] be one between a real radical (left) reformism or fascism or Trumpism” or whatever form white ethno-nationalist bigotry may take.

“These are critical, transformative, times,” Apeldoorn comments. “With the (still likely) election of Clinton the neoliberal, Open Door, elite will get another lease of life but I cannot imagine it will be a sustained return to normalcy. Both the Trump and Sanders campaigns have made that clear.”

It may not be quite the political revolution Sanders demanded, but it is a major step away from the Trump counter-revolution, and an important nod towards the demands of the Sanders movement and parts of Trump’s working class political base and possibly a slightly fairer society. Things could be a lot worse.

But the cost to the American people will have to be paid in energetic vigilance – to ensure a level of political mobilisation to guard against a smooth return to ‘normalcy’ and the Pareto principle.

Inderjeet Parmar is the head of the International Politics department at the School of Social Sciences, City University, London.