ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

The Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop

The Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop

Dennis Ross and Iran

By Sasan Fayazmanesh

February 27, 2009 “Counterpunch” — – In October 2008 I presented a paper, entitled “What the Future has in Store for Iran,” at a conference on Middle East Studies. The paper, which was subsequently posted at Payvand.com , examined what the US policy toward Iran might look like if either Barack Obama or John McCain came to office. The conclusion of my essay, stated in its last two lines, was: “In the case of McCain, the war [waged against Iran] might come sooner than later. In Obama’s case, one might see a period of ‘tough’ or ‘aggressive diplomacy’ before hostilities begin.”

My conclusion was based on the argument that the US foreign policy toward the Middle East has become institutionalized and it makes very little difference who is the president. The starting point of the argument was an analysis that appeared in The Jerusalem Post just before the Bush Administration took office, predicting that the US Middle East policy would be made more by the neoconservative forces within the new administration than anyone else. In one essay, on December 8, 2000, The Jerusalem Post wrote that both Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz “are the type of candidates the pro-Israel lobby is pushing.” In another article on January 19, 2001, entitled “All the president’s Middle East men,” The Jerusalem Post expressed how the “Jewish and pro-Israel communities are jumping for joy,” knowing that people like Wolfowitz will be in the new administration. The essay predicted: “What you will have are two institutions grappling for control of policy.” It then added: “It is no secret in Washington–or anywhere else for that matter–that the policies will be determined less by Bush himself and more by his inner circle of advisers.”

The message of the Israeli analysts was clear: the Middle East foreign policy of the US has become institutionalized; and rather than watching the US president, one has to watch the institutions that would make the policy. Given this message, my analysis of what the future has in store for Iran concentrated on a few neoconservative institutions and individuals. In particular, I predicted that if Obama were to be elected, the US policy on Iran would be made mostly by Dennis Ross, the “consultant” to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP or simply Washington Institute), a “think tank” affiliate of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). That prediction has now come true. On February 23, 2009, it became official that Dennis Ross is the “Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the Gulf and Southwest Asia.” [1] The title, as will be explained below, is not what Ross had hoped for, but he would still be in a position to influence the US policy toward Iran.

Who is Dennis Ross, what does he advocate, how was he positioned to become the adviser on Iran in the Obama Administration and what will he do to Iran if he gets the chance? Let me briefly review the case.

Dennis Ross is best known as the dishonest broker who led the so-called negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians during the Clinton Administration. He was “Israel’s lawyer,” to use Aaron David Miller’s apt description of the role that Ross’s “negotiating team” played in the Clinton era, particularly in 1999-2000. [2]

Ross, along with Martin Indyk—who was Clinton’s national security advisor and the US Ambassador to Israel—is a cofounder of the Washington Institute. [3] After leaving office in 2000, Ross became the director of the WINEP. Once the 2008 presidential election approached, Ross jockeyed for a position, left his directorship job and became a “Consultant” to the institute.[4] Originally, Ross and Indyk represented one wing of the WINEP, a wing which appeared to be close to the Israeli Labor Party. Another wing, closer to the Likud Party, and particularly Benjamin Netanyahu, consisted of individuals such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, individuals who played a pivotal role in planning the invasion of Iraq. [5] The difference between the Likud and the Labor wing of the Washington Institute was mostly one of the means employed rather than the end sought. [6] Both wings of the WINEP, similar to Kadima, strove toward a “Greater Israel” (Eretz Yisrael) that includes all or most of “Judea and Samaria.” They both saw Iran’s support for the Palestinian resistance as the biggest obstacle in achieving that goal.  As such, the charge that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and posing an “existential threat” to Israel became a convenient tool for “containing” Iran and stopping its support for the Palestinians. [7] What separated the two sides was that the Labor wing believed that sanctions will eventually bring Iran to its knees, cause either a popular uprising to overthrow the Iranian “regime” or make Iran ripe for a US invasion. The Likud wing, however, had very little patience for sanctions. It wanted an immediate result, a series of military attacks against Iran, replacing the Iranian “regime” with a US-Israeli friendly government, as was done in Iraq. With the emergence of the Kadima Party in Israel in 2005, which brought together the likes of the Likud Party member Ariel Sharon and Labor Party member Shimon Peres, the differences between the two wings of the Washington Institute has mostly disappeared. Clinton’s Middle East men, such as Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Richard Holbrooke, are hardly distinguishable from Bush’s men, such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. But since the latter group is temporarily out of office, the former is filling in. Ross has become the designated senior Israeli lobby man in Obama’s Administration. He has no expertise when it comes to Iran. But he knows that for the cause of Eretz Yisrael Iran must be contained; and given this goal, he knows how to recite, ad nauseum, all the usual lines of Israel and its lobby groups against Iran.

After breaking the back of the Palestinians and pushing for the invasion of Iraq, the Israeli lobby groups concentrated their forces to contain Iran. Given the Iraq fiasco and the neoconservatives falling from grace, the Israeli lobby groups settled on Dennis Ross, “Israel’s lawyer,” to lead the task of containing Iran.  Since Ross has no knowledge of Iran, other members of the lobby, particularly their Iran “experts,” have been assisting Ross in his new role. Among these is the ex-Trotskyite, neoconservative Patrick Clawson, WINEP’s “deputy director for research” and an anti-Iran zealot who has been obsessed for decades with the containment of Iran and Iraq. [8] Over the years, with the help of these individuals Ross has developed a strategy to contain Iran. The strategy consists of arguing that: 1) Iran is developing nuclear weapons; 2) Iran is a threat to the US and an existential threat to Israel, and Israel will not tolerate “mullahs with nukes” (Sydney Morning Herald, October 16, 2004); 3) “nuclear deterrent rules that governed relations between the United States and the Soviet Union” do not hold when it comes to Iran, since Iranians, especially their president, are irrational and believe in the “coming of the 12th Imam” (The Washington Post, May 1, 2006); 4) Iran’s nuclear ambitions will start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East; 5) the Bush Administration’s policy of dealing with Iran did not work, because it did not have enough sticks or carrots; 6) the US should push for a direct, but “tough” or aggressive diplomacy to stop Iran from enriching uranium and supporting “terrorism” (Newsweek, December 8, 2008) [9]; 7) the aggressive diplomacy should include pressuring the Europeans, as well as the Chinese and Russians, to stop trading with Iran; 8) the prohibition of trade should include preventing Iran from importing refined oil products and, ultimately, blockading Iran; and 9) once this tough and aggressive diplomacy fails and Iran does not change its “behavior,” then the US could legitimately launch military attacks against Iran, arguing that the it did everything in its power to resolve the situation peacefully.

The above arguments were summarized on March 13, 2008, in a news report in The Jerusalem Post, entitled “Visiting Obama Middle East adviser: He’d be great for Israel.”  According to this report, Mel Levine—a “staunchly pro-Israel” former congressman from Los Angeles and, along with Dennis Ross, “one of Obama’s seven Middle East advisers”—told The Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel that Obama believes that “the way to stop Iran was with a combination of carrots and sticks.” Levine was further quoted as saying:  “He believes that if you use carrots and sticks and engage in multilateral aggressive diplomacy then if you need to use the military option or do anything that needs to be done you are much more likely to get support of allies, more international support and broader American support.” Mr. Levin had cut to the chase and stated clearly what Dennis Ross had been advocating for years, but in a more convoluted and diplomatic language. The “tough” and “aggressive diplomacy,” as Mr. Levin had made clear, was nothing but a series of motions that would set the stage for military action against Iran.

Ross’s arguments are often devoid of any factual content, as I have shown in “What the Future has in Store for Iran.” For example, in June 2008 the Washington Institute published a “Presidential Study Group Reports” entitled “Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge.” [10] One of the two “co-convenors” of the report was Dennis Ross. [11] Subsequently, the advisors to both presidential candidates endorsed the report. [12] As I argued in my October essay, this 6-page WINEP report—which was funded by a foundation supporting neoconservative causes, and was drafted in consultation with the WINEP’s “Israeli counterparts”—contains almost nothing factual and, indeed, in several places contains errors.  For example, like much of Ross’s other writings, this report tries to give the reader the false impression that Iran is building nuclear weapons. Yet, anyone familiar with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports knows that after many years of inspection, the IAEA has been unable to show any evidence of diversion of nuclear material in Iran. Or the report claims that the UN Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment program have been “unanimous.” As I have stated in my essay, even a cursory look at the news would reveal that this claim is false.  For example, the third UN Security Council resolution, Resolution1803, did not pass unanimously. Indonesia abstained during the vote. [13] Furthermore, as most news sources pointed out, “Libya, South Africa and Vietnam joined Indonesia in expressing reservations [about the resolution]” (AFP, March 3, 2008). Ross’s arguments, as I have shown in my October essay, are also often quite illogical. It is, for example, not at all clear why Iran’s nuclear ambitions will start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, while Israel’s decades-old possession of nuclear weapons has not led to such an arms race. Similarly, it is not clear why Iranians, who might have certain religious beliefs, are irrational, but Israelis, who justify the existence of Israel on religious grounds, are rational.

After the June 2008 “Presidential Study Group Reports,” which was endorsed by Obama’s and McCain’s advisors, Ross and company wrote the September 2008 “report of an independent task force sponsored by the bipartisan policy center” on “U.S. policy toward Iranian Nuclear Development.” [14] In this report they put forward the same falsehoods and illogical arguments. At the same time a neoconservative campaign was launched, under the title “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), in which Ross played a prominent role as the “Co-Founder and Co-Chairman.” The “Advisory Board” of UANI included, beside Ross, such notable figures as the neoconservative Mark Wallace, the President of UANI, advisor to Sarah Palin and a John Bolton recruit for a position at the UN; R. James Woolsey the neoconservative and member of the advisory board of The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; Henry Sokolski the neoconservative signatory of the “Project for the New American Century signatory”; and Richard C. Holbrooke, another “Co-Founder and Co-Chairman” of UANI. [15] The neoconservative campaign included a slick and scary video advertisement, which is still available on the web. [16] The video started with the message “Stop Terrorism, Stop Human Rights Abuses, Stop Nuclear Iran.” Small prints at the bottom of the message read “Paid for by the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc.” Following the introduction six hands appeared, black and white, joining in a circle around a map of Iran. The viewer was asked to “join the cause” by clicking on the video. If followed, a note would appear that read: “Send a message to the nation that Iran’s nuclear program is unacceptable. Join United Against Nuclear Iran today and receive news updates and event reminders.” Then the viewer was asked for name and email address. This was followed by an ominous video about Iran’s alleged development of nuclear weapons, repeating the same falsehoods and illogical arguments put forward by Dennis Ross and company on behest of the Israeli lobby groups.

After President Obama took office, the media was filled with the news of the impending appointment of Dennis Ross as Iran envoy. Yet the appointment appeared to be postponed. Various explanations appeared in the media for the postponement. Some reasoned that the postponement was at least partly due to Ross’s close ties with Israel. For example, on February 3, 2009, Robert Naiman wrote in the Huffington Post that “allegation of ‘dual loyalty’ is being raised against Dennis Ross.” He further mentioned that Ross is “still chair of the board of the Jerusalem-based ‘Jewish People Policy Planning Institute,’ as indicated by that organization’s website.” [17] Others emphasized the fact that as far as Iran is concerned Ross’s appointment might kill any chance of rapprochement between Iran and the US.  For example, The Christian Science Monitor reported on February 5, 2009, that from an Iranian perspective Ross is the “pioneer of the American-Zionist lobby” and under his leadership during the Clinton years the US policy was “not one millimeter different from Israeli policy.” The report quoted a “Western diplomat” as saying: “There is no doubt they [Iranians] are all going to look at Ross as an Israeli proxy.”

Some of the explanations given for the postponement of Ross’s appointment also explain his vague and broad job title, “Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the Gulf and Southwest Asia.” Before the end of the 2008 presidential election there were rumors that Ross might be considered for the position of the Secretary of State (Haaretz, October 24, 2008). Once Obama was elected, and Hilary Clinton became Secretary of State, Ross apparently hoped to become at least the “special envoy to Iran.” But given his close ties with Israel and the fact that his containment plans were well known to the Iranians, he had to settle for a less provocative title. Needless to say that the new title, “Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the Gulf and Southwest Asia,” is still quite provocative as far as Iran is concerned, since changing the name of the Persian Gulf to simply “Gulf” is offensive to many Iranians.

Whatever the reason for the postponement of Ross’s appointment and change of title, one thing is clear: the sly fox is now guarding the chicken coop. As Mel Levine said about Ross: “He’d be great for Israel.” With the help of Richard Holbrooke, Stuart Levey—Bush’s Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, who is now in Obama’s Administration—and all the other “president’s Middle East men,” Dennis Ross might be able to finish the unfinished business of the neoconservatives, the containment of Iraq and Iran. The Israelis and pro-Israel communities must be jumping with joy once again!

Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor of Economics at
California State University, Fresno. He can be reached at: sasan.fayazmanesh@gmail.com

Notes

1. See Daily Press Briefing, The U.D. Department of States: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2009/02/119730.htm or  The Washington Post.

2. See “Israel’s Lawyer,” The Washington Post, May 23, 2005.

3. See Swisher, Clayton E., 2004, The truth about Camp David: the untold story about the collapse of the Middle East peace process, New York: Nation Books, p.35.

4. See: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org

5. The name of these individuals appears on the “Board of Advisors.” See “About the Institute,” available at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/.

6. Ross, for example, supported the invasion of Iraq, even though he was critical of some of the post-invasion policies of the Bush Administration (see “Obama’s Conservative Mideast Pick,” Time, July16, 2008).

7. For different meanings of “containment” see my book: The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment, Routledge, 2008.

8. For Clawson’s relentless attempt to contain Iran see The United States and Iran Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment Routledge, 2008.

9. Dennis Ross, “Iran: Talk Tough With Tehran”: http://www.newsweek.com/id/171256/output/print

10. The report’s title was: “2008 Presidential task Forces: Task Force on the Future of U.S.-Israel Relations: Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen the US-Israel Cooperation on The Iranian Nuclear Challenge.

11. The other “co-convenors” was Robert Satloff. The two Washington Institute participants, who apparently wrote the piece, were the neoconservatives Patrick Clawson, “deputy director of research,” and David Makovsky, “senior fellow and director, Project on the Middle East Peace Process.”

12. On behest of Obama Anthony Lake and Susan Rice endorsed it, and on behalf of McCain former congressman Vin Weber and the neoconservative R. James Woolsey signed the document.

13. See Security Council Resolution 1803, March 3, 2008.

14. See “Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development”.

15. See “Leadership” of “United Against Nuclear Iran”:

16. See http://www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com/video/view/4.

17. http://www.jpppi.org.il/ and http://www.jpppi.org.il/JPPPI/

Return of the War Party

Return of the War Party

By Patrick J. Buchanan

February 27, 2009 “The American Conservative” — -“Real men go to Tehran!” brayed the neoconservatives after the success of their propaganda campaign to have America march on Baghdad and into an unnecessary war that has forfeited all the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Now they are back, in pursuit of what has always been their great goal: an American war on Iran. It would be a mistake to believe they and their collaborators cannot succeed a second time. Consider:

On being chosen by Israel’s President Shimon Peres to form the new regime, Likud’s “Bibi” Netanyahu declared, “Iran is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon and constitutes the gravest threat to our existence since the war of independence.”

Echoing Netanyahu, headlines last week screamed of a startling new nuclear breakthrough by the mullahs. “Iran ready to build nuclear weapon, analysts say,” said CNN. “Iran has enough uranium to make a bomb,” said the Los Angeles Times. Armageddon appeared imminent.

Asked about Iran’s nukes in his confirmation testimony, CIA Director Leon Panetta blurted, “From all the information I’ve seen, I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.”

Tuesday, Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a front spawned by the Israeli lobby AIPAC, was given the Iranian portfolio. AIPAC’s top agenda item? A U.S. collision with Iran.

In the neocon Weekly Standard, Elliot Abrams of the Bush White House parrots Netanyahu, urging Obama to put any land-for-peace deals with the Palestinians on a back burner. Why?

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now part of a broader struggle in the region over Iranian extremism and power. Israeli withdrawals now risk opening the door not only to Palestinian terrorists but to Iranian proxies.”

The campaign to conflate Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria as a new axis of evil, a terrorist cartel led by Iranian mullahs hell-bent on building a nuclear bomb and using it on Israel and America, has begun. The full-page ads and syndicated columns calling on Obama to eradicate this mortal peril before it destroys us all cannot be far off.

But before we let ourselves be stampeded into another unnecessary war, let us review a few facts that seem to contradict the war propaganda.

First, last week’s acknowledgement that Iran has enough enriched uranium for one atom bomb does not mean Iran is building an atom bomb.

To construct a nuclear device, the ton of low-enriched uranium at Natanz would have to be run through a second cascade of high-speed centrifuges to produce 55 pounds of highly enriched uranium (HUE).

There is no evidence Iran has either created the cascade of high-speed centrifuges necessary to produce HUE or that Iran has diverted any of the low-enriched uranium from Natanz.
And the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors retain full access to Natanz.

And rather than accelerating production of low-enriched uranium, only 4,000 of the Natanz centrifuges are operating. Some 1,000 are idle. Why?

Dr. Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the IAEA, believes this is a signal that Tehran wishes to negotiate with the United States, but without yielding any of its rights to enrich uranium and operate nuclear power plants.

For, unlike Israel, Pakistan and India, none of which signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and all of which ran clandestine programs and built atom bombs, Iran signed the NPT and has abided by its Safeguards Agreement. What it refuses to accept are the broader demands of the U.N. Security Council because these go beyond the NPT and sanction Iran for doing what it has a legal right to do.

Moreover, Adm. Dennis Blair, who heads U.S. intelligence, has just restated the consensus of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran does not now possess and is not now pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Bottom line: Neither the United States nor the IAEA has conclusive evidence that Iran either has the fissile material for a bomb or an active program to build a bomb. It has never tested a nuclear device and has never demonstrated a capacity to weaponize a nuclear device, if it had one.

Why, then, the hype, the hysteria, the clamor for “Action This Day!”? It is to divert America from her true national interests and stampede her into embracing as her own the alien agenda of a renascent War Party.

None of this is to suggest the Iranians are saintly souls seeking only peace and progress. Like South Korea, Japan and other nations with nuclear power plants, they may well want the ability to break out of the NPT, should it be necessary to deter, defend against or defeat enemies.

But that is no threat to us to justify war. For decades, we lived under the threat that hundreds of Russian warheads could rain down upon us in hours, ending our national existence. If deterrence worked with Stalin and Mao, it can work with an Iran that has not launched an offensive war against any nation within the memory of any living American.

Can we Americans say the same?

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC

Terrible transformations ahead?

Terrible transformations ahead?

—Rafia Zakaria

No one is untouched and no one is clean. All political contenders from the president to the deposed judges to the opposition leaders all have their own histories of inside deals, corruption and surreptitious self-serving agreements with military generals or Saudi princes

When the men in long black robes descended on Iran several decades ago, the world was stunned. Few knew what to expect, the dénouement of the revolution was swift: within a short span of time, the cosmopolitan Persia envisioned by the Shah had been transformed into the grim Islamic Republic. Women slid under black chadors, television showed only religious programmes and morality became the province of law enforcement over individual conscience.

Ensconced as we are in particular historical eras, it is trying and perhaps impossible to go beyond our faith in normalcy and evaluate the incremental changes taking place around us. As many historical records and memoirs now show, the days leading up to the Iranian Revolution were marked by a similar obstinacy as people continued to believe that after the demonstrations had ceased and the Shah had left, life would return to a familiar normal.

There would be dance parties, women would go to work, drinks would be poured and poetry and art exhibited. Indeed, at our smug end of history, it is possible to see how misplaced this belief in the constancy of the present was at the time. There was of course no return after 1979, the course of politics had changed and Iran was altered forever. The mullahs assumed to be archaic, medieval and generally incapable of governance not only took over the state but transformed it into something nearly unrecognisable from its liberal constitutional predecessor.

There are many differences between Iran in the 1970s and the condition of Pakistan in this first decade of the new millennium. The Islamist movement that roars at our footsteps has many marked differences from the one that wracked Iran decades ago. Indeed, the Taliban, with their shaggy beards and their cave-based militarism, are not the erudite mullahs of Qom, and Mullah Omar bears not even a scant resemblance to the Ayatollah.

But marking as we are several years of an insurgency that only grows in fervour and a political and legal system that is all but collapsed, it is perhaps pertinent to question whether we are indeed as duped in believing in the unchanging constancy of the present as the Iranians were at the precipice of the 1979 Revolution.

One argument that substantiates the above is our preoccupation with genealogy, which insists that the Taliban, being a creation of the Cold War, have nothing substantive to offer in terms of an attractive moral ideology. While sociological, economic and geopolitical explanations of the rise of the Taliban are important, the ascription of these factors as the sole basis for the ascendancy of the group may well be misguided.

It is indeed true that the rise of the Taliban is symptomatic of a cornucopia of failures: of the state to provide security; of legal institutions; and of civilian political institutions to exercise control over the intelligence apparatus of the country.

However, there is also something substantive in the moral ideology offered by the group. While admittedly repugnant to the country’s liberal elite, the stark clarity of an unassailable moral code that very literally allows no dissent, the elimination of all criminality by threat of the most draconian punishment, the elimination of temptation of any form and most notably of all the deliberately designed and very visible anti-modernism, all present a platform designed quite specifically to respond to key confusions within the Pakistani psyche.

In doing so, they represent a substantive post-modern reconstruction of a pre-colonial era, with an invented brand of sharia that is pristine in its simplicity and accessible to even the most barely educated mullah, and an anti-intellectual vitriol that is violently anti-Western. They have made an effective pitch at presenting what an authentic Pakistan rid of corruption, elitism and Western pandering would look like and in their success lies the tragedy confronting the Pakistani nation.

And then there are the seemingly endless political opportunities provided by the weakening of the Pakistani state apparatus in Islamabad. Plagued as it is by illegitimacy, and harassed and cornered by political actors loath to giving up any opportunity to subvert state power, the Pakistani state has lost ground not simply to the Taliban but also to the political forces operating within the democratic mainstream.

The most recent cataclysm, exposing once again the illegitimacies of the NRO that begot the current government and the inability of sustaining its fledgling power against political enemies wanting their own turn at extorting resources from the state, presents precisely the kind of breakdown of constitutionalism that makes the macabre “otherness” of the Taliban look like a departure from the corruption and general moral depravity of Islamabad.

No one is untouched and no one is clean. All political contenders from the president to the deposed judges to the opposition leaders all have their own histories of inside deals, corruption and surreptitious self-serving agreements with military generals or Saudi princes.

In the midst of such moral degeneracy, ordinary people on the streets of Quetta and Lahore are left to wonder whether a packed court that curries favour with particular governments is really better than a stadium where barely educated mullahs hack off hands and hand out whippings to alleged criminals.

So while bands may play in Karachi and Lahore and weddings may continue and resilient school children may continue to study for exams, the devolution of the state and the march of anarchy in Pakistan continue. There was a time when the army was the only usurping force waiting in the murky shadows to capture the reigns of power.

With the arrival of the Taliban, the increasing extension of their territorial power from the tribal areas to Swat and even the villages around Peshawar suggests the beginning of a new game that promises to be far bloodier and a far greater challenge than the civil-military jousts of old.

Perhaps a decade hence, Pakistanis too may look back at these days and wonder how and when we could have been able to predict the terrible and tremendous transformation ahead.

Rafia Zakaria is an attorney living in the United States where she teaches courses on Constitutional Law and Political Philosophy. She can be contacted at rafia.zakaria@gmail.com

The Swat deal is wrong

The Swat deal is wrong

—Shaukat Qadir

The Swat deal amounts to the opening of a Pandora’s Box: where will it stop? The other chapters of the Taliban are only waiting to ask for their own ‘Islamic’ government. Is this the beginning of the real Talibanisation of the NWFP?

The Taliban in Pakistan are far from a monolithic structure. There is, at best, a loose union with a disputed leadership and undefined hierarchy. However, the undisputed Taliban leader in Swat is Fazlullah. Pakistan has attempted to strike a peace deal with the Swat Taliban, in return for the imposition of sharia — Islamic law — in Swat. The attempt has been heralded by some, viewed sceptically by others, and condemned by a few. Let us attempt to examine what is wrong with this deal.

To begin with, the government’s deal has been brokered with Sufi Muhammed, Fazlullah’s father-in-law, not with Fazlullah who, despite their relationship (or because of it), is not on the best of terms with Sufi. If Fazlullah accepts Sufi’s terms, it might result in Sufi becoming more powerful; else the endeavour could deteriorate to an internecine battle for turfs, doomed to fail from the outset.

If one vectors into this equation that the Taliban are hated by the population for all that they stand for and can rule only by force, it is obvious that the deal can, at best, offer a breather and no more.

The provincial government, having announced that it is prepared to go the extra mile to ensure the success of this deal, has now announced its intention of arming the local population to fight against the Taliban and that ‘arms not being used against the Taliban would be withdrawn’. How that will be discovered or how the arms, once given, will be recovered remains a mystery. The central government is having second thoughts anyway.

However, irrespective of whether it works or not, this deal is a recipe for disaster, unless we are prepared to hand Islam over to the Taliban and allow them to legalise their violation of every law of the land and every tenet of Islam.

The Quran states again and again that Islam is progressive; even Saudi Arabia that had been living with its archaic laws is attempting to change. Pakistan is, on the other hand, prepared to allow itself to be held hostage to these self-styled saviours of Islam.

I have persistently numbered among those who advocate negotiating with terrorists, though from a position of strength, and that the use of force alone is not the answer. I have continued to quote the IRA and Sein Fenn as an example of erstwhile terrorists who are today negotiating the fate of Ireland with the British government.

However, there is a line beyond which it is not possible for any state to cede its authority. While it is possible to negotiate a mutually acceptable form of government that reflects the aspirations of the people, no state should be prepared to accept a state within a state, which is governed by force, irrespective of the wishes of the governed.

One meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is peace; the Quran forbids its followers to kill innocent people or to take their own lives. However, the Taliban preach that to take one’s own life as a suicide bomber is not only the path to heaven for the bomber, but that he/she is also doing a favour to those killed for, unknowingly, they too will have died in the cause of Allah and will thus go to heaven.

Hazrat Bibi Khadija RA asked the Prophet PBUH for his hand in marriage. Islam permits each woman to choose her mate and seek divorce if unhappy, just as to the male. Yet the Taliban find justification for ‘honour killing’; the killing of disobedient female offspring, and women who choose their own mate or seek divorce against their parents’ wishes.

Islam asks its followers to seek knowledge and educate themselves; one of the most famous sayings of the Prophet PBUH is ‘seek knowledge, even if you have to travel to China for it’. Yet the Taliban condemn knowledge as being un-Islamic: they burn girls’ schools, throw acid on the faces of girls who defy them in persisting to seek knowledge, and murder persistent teachers.

Even if schools in Swat resume classes, what will they teach? If they have their own courts, what justice will they offer? Will not the next generation of Swatis be condemned to become Taliban?

They forget history and declare democracy to be un-Islamic. The first Caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr RA was deemed to have been nominated by the Prophet PBUH, since he was asked by the Prophet PBUH to lead the Friday prayers when He fell ill. Yet, Abu Bakr RA did not assume his office until the Friday congregation following the death of the Prophet PBUH, when he was accepted unopposed and unanimously by the congregation. The same occurred following the death of Hazrat Abu Bakr RA when Hazrat Omer RA became Caliph. Following Hazrat Omer’s death, Hazrat Ali RA decided to contest the nomination of Hazrat Osman RA, but withdrew when he realised that Hazrat Osman RA was likely to win. What else is an election or democracy?

In fact, Islam is the first democracy in which not only was the Caliph appointed in accordance with the wishes of the people, he was accountable to the people during his rule. Numerous instances are recorded in history when common people challenged ruling Caliphs and had to be satisfied.

Finally, the Swat deal amounts to the opening of a Pandora’s Box: where will it stop? The other chapters of the Taliban are only waiting to ask for their own ‘Islamic’ government. Is this the beginning of the real Talibanisation of the NWFP?

If so, does no one realise that if they are permitted to take over a province, they will find time to consolidate and, some day in the not too distant future, threaten Islamabad, something they are incapable of doing, now or ever, unless the state gives them such an opening in Swat.

This article is a modified version of one originally written for the National

In Major Reversal of Bush Af/Pak Policy Obama Invites Chinese Aid

U.S. looks to China for support on Afghanistan: Pentagon

Photo

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States is looking to stronger Chinese cooperation on Afghanistan, piracy, and other international troubles, a Pentagon official said on Saturday after talks that he said also addressed strains over Taiwan.

The U.S. official, David Sedney, said China’s opposition to Washington’s arms sales to the disputed island of Taiwan came up in the two days of discussions in Beijing, but did not overwhelm an agenda that also covered Central Asia, China’s contribution to fighting piracy off the Somali coast, and nuclear weapons.

“The focus was not at all on obstacles. The focus was on how we can move forward,” Sedney, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, told a news briefing after the talks.

“We both understand that it really is a new strategic environment that we’re in here, with China playing the role that it does,” he said.

The talks marked the first defense policy dialogue between the United States and China under the new Obama administration.

Sedney cast them as a promising start but avoided specifics.

Asked if the two sides discussed North Korea and its possible launch of a missile, he said that the two sides had talked about security in northeast Asia.

President Barack Obama has said he will increase forces in Afghanistan by 17,000 in a bid to quell worsening insurgent violence. Sedney said Washington would welcome Chinese help there and in neighboring Pakistan.

“This is an area where we’re looking to see more contributions from the international community — and of course … this means China — to assist in the many, many needs that are in Afghanistan,” Sedney said.

He raised health, education and trade as examples of areas where China could help in Afghanistan, but did not specify security forces as among them. But he said Chinese military officials were interested in U.S. plans there.

“As they pointed out, Afghanistan and Pakistan are both neighbors of China,” Sedney said.

These latest U.S.-China Defense Policy Coordination Talks came after Beijing curtailed many bilateral military contacts in November to show its anger over the Bush administration’s decision to sell $6.5 billion of arms to Taiwan.

Beijing says Taiwan is an illegitimate breakaway province that must accept reunification, by force if necessary, and it has been angered by the military sales. Washington says the sales are justified by U.S. law as designed to help Taiwan defend itself.

Sedney said the two delegations’ discussion of Taiwan was frank but did not mark a shift in long-standing positions.

He praised China’s sending of warships to help NATO and other forces fight pirates who use Somalia as a base to menace the Gulf of Aden.  Continued…

Are The Jews God’s Chosen People?

Are The Jews God’s Chosen People?

Super Jew

One misunderstanding that often confuses pious Christians and Judaics alike is the Judaic claim to be God’s ‘Chosen People’. The implied meaning is that the God Christians and Judaics share favours Judaics over all other human beings, giving them a privileged position.

The question I always ask, when confronted with that claim, is how that alleged favouritism is transferred from Biblical times’ Judaics to modern days Jews. Is it race or religion? This distinction is important because only a very small minority of modern days Jews, the so-called Oriental Jews, are the direct descendants of Biblical times’ Judaics. The majority of the descendants are today’s Palestinians. So if the ‘Chosen People’ status is transmitted genetically, then it is the Palestinians and not the Jews who are the chosen ones.

No, no, that’s impossible, is usually the shocked response to such ‘heretic’ thoughts. Imagine the consequences! It is, of course, the ‘Covenant’ between God and the Judaics, that makes them his ‘Chosen People’. In this religious contract the Judaics have undertaken to follow God’s law as layed down in what Christians call the Old Testament (OT).

My next question then is how God would feel if his Chosen People introduced thousands of new rules and exemptions to an extent that God’s original rules are no longer followed. Wouldn’t that break the ‘Covenant’ and make the Judaics loose their favourite status?

Of course, it would. Judaism has rejected the covenant by introducing the so-called oral tradition which was codified in form of the Babylonian Talmud after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Anyone who has studied Judaism is aware of the fact that

  • the Talmud has absolute priority over the OT,
  • the Talmud is the most perverted and racist piece of hate literature ever written in human history,
  • the Talmud systematically reinterprets the OT to an extent that what the OT ‘really means’, according to the rabbis’ teachings, and what Christians and Muslims believe have no resemblance what so ever, and
  • that rabbis during their training spend more than 90% of their time studying the Talmud, and the rest is reserved for things like the sex-crazy black magic classic of the Cabala. The OT is only studied through the angle of what the Talmud teaches how to understand the OT.

According to traditional Christian teachings, the Judaics have lost their status as the Chosen People by rejecting God’s word in form of the OT in favour of the oral teachings of the rabbis which – most of the time – are in complete contradiction to what the OT says. Jesus got killed by the Judaics – either, as the Talmud describes in most gruesome detail, by the rabbis themselves, or by bullying the Romans into killing him – for rejecting the oral teachings of the rabbis.

If we follow the theory that the Chosen People is transferred via adherence to the Covenant, God’s law, Biblical times’ Judaics have lost the favourite status. By rejecting the oral tradition and refocusing on God’s law, the Christians have taken the place of the Judaics as the Chosen People. If modern days’ Jews want to regain God’s good-will, they have to reject the racist and pornographic oral traditions codified in the rabbinic concoctions of the Talmud and Cabala.

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

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Source: ZioPedia.org

Israel’s eternal impunity

Israel’s eternal impunity

To justify itself, state terrorism creates terrorists: it sows hatred and harvests alibis. Everything indicates that the bloodbath in Gaza, which its creators claim was designed to eliminate terrorists, will result in a proliferation of them. Since 1948 Palestinians have lived in perpetual humiliation. They can’t breathe without permission. They have lost their country, their land, their water, their freedom, their everything.

They don’t even have the right to elect their own leaders: when they vote for someone they aren’t supposed to vote for, they are punished. Gaza is being punished. It has been transformed into a rat’s nest without an exit since Hamas fairly won the 2006 elections. Something similar occurred in 1932 when the Communist Party won in El Salvador. Drenched in blood, Salvadoreans paid for their misbehaviour and since that time have lived under military dictatorships. Democracy is a luxury that not all peoples deserve.

***

The homemade rockets that the militants of Hamas blindly launch into land that used to be theirs and was usurped by the Israeli occupation, are the offspring of impotence. And desperation, bordering on suicidal madness, is the mother of the futile boasting that denies the existence of the state of Israel – while an extremely efficient war of extermination has been denying Palestine’s right to exist for years.

Little of Palestine remains. Bit by bit Israel is erasing it from the map.

The settlers invade, accompanied by soldiers who correct the borders as they go. Bullets sanctify the pillage, in legitimate defence.

There is no war of aggression that doesn’t claim to be a defensive war. Hitler invaded Poland to prevent Poland from invading Germany. Bush invaded Iraq to keep Iraq from invading the world. In each of its defensive wars, Israel swallows up another piece of Palestine and the snacking continues. This process is justified with land deeds granted by the Bible, by the 2000 years of persecution that the Jewish people suffered and the panic generated by the sight of Palestinians lying in ambush.

***

Israel is the country that has never complied with UN resolutions or recommendations, never abides by judgements of international courts and mocks international law. It is also the only country that has legalized the torture of prisoners.

What gives them the right to deny the rights of others? Who is granting them the impunity with which they are carrying out the slaughter of Gaza? The Spanish government couldn’t bomb the Basque region to wipe out ETA, or Britain invade Ireland to liquidate the IRA, with impunity. Perhaps the tragedy of the Holocaust introduced a policy of eternal impunity? Or is it the all-powerful US that gave the green light and has in Israel the most unfailing of vassals.

***

The Israeli army, the most sophisticated and modern in the world, knows whom to kill. It doesn’t kill by error. It kills for horror. The civilian victims are referred to as ‘collateral damage’, according to the dictionary of other imperial wars. In Gaza, three of every ten instances of collateral damage are children. Then there are thousands of wounded and disabled, victims of the technology of human butchery that the military industry is successfully applying in this operation of ethnic cleansing.

And as usual – it is always this way – in Gaza for every hundred Palestinians killed one Israeli is killed.

‘These Palestinians are dangerous people’ is the message rained down by the other parallel bombardment, by the mass media of manipulation, which would have us believe that one Israeli life is worth that of one hundred Palestinians. These media would also have us believe that Israel’s 200 atomic bombs are humanitarian and that it was a nuclear power named Iran that annihilated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

***

Does the so-called ‘international community’ exist?

And if so is it anything more than merchants, bankers and warriors? Is it anything more than an artistic name the US uses on the world stage?

In the face of the tragedy of Gaza world hypocrisy shines once again. As usual, indifference, empty speeches, vapid declarations, high-sounding rhetoric, ambiguous positions pay tribute to sacred impunity.

In the face of the tragedy of Gaza the Arab countries wash their hands – as usual. And as usual the European countries wring their hands.

Old Europe, with such a gift for beauty and perversity, weeps one tear after another, while secretly celebrating this masterful game. Because hunting Jews was always a European custom, though for half a century now the Palestinians have been paying the price for this historic crime. The Palestinians, who are also Semites but who were never, and are not, anti-semitic, are paying in their own blood and money some else’s debt.

© IPS

Sermon from the Corporate Church

Sermon from the Corporate Church

By: Peter Chamberlin

Hurricane winds pound at the gates of Fortress America and our leaders send out the order for more straw and sand to pound into the widening cracks. The harder the winds of change blow the more apparent it becomes that our “leaders” cannot lead, when they themselves await orders from above. As our house of cards flies apart at the seams, the master planners send their minions scrambling to salvage their disintegrating investments, worrying only about their “property,” caring less about the human life that is huddled in fear within.

This belief, that property is more valuable than human life itself, is the basis of humanity’s current problems. Capitalism, the embodiment of this belief, is in its death throes. The multiple crises which proponents of the capital faith have engineered were not unanticipated events; in fact, they were foreseen very clearly, as they have always been key elements of the planned grand finale to be implemented. The plan has always been to turn the coming catastrophe into the grandest opportunity of all time for men with no souls, having been consumed by greed.

Human nature itself has become the enemy of the master class. Only the indomitable human spirit and the eternal will to resist stands in the way of the global empire which promises limitless potential profits for a handful of the most heartless individuals. The most powerful of this select few foresee the coming opportunity and its dreadful unimaginable cost of the elimination of a sizeable portion of the human race, and yet, they remained undisturbed by its inhumanity and malevolence. The master planners do not believe it is possible to save the whole human race, so why waste resources (money) on those who cannot survive on their own. To try to do more would surely doom the system, the cornerstone of the religion of avarice. In their minds, preserving the fittest, most successful individuals is the best way to ensure the survival of the faith and the species.

Faith in the infallibility of capitalism and the belief that it is the answer to mankind’s problems permeates American culture, wherever it has taken root around the world. It is extremely unnerving to suggest to a true believer that capitalism is a doomed religion or that it is intrinsically harmful to mankind, comparable to cursing God to a faithful Muslim or Christian. But the hard truth is that trying to save capitalism from its own contradictions is an impossible task that will waste all the money spent trying, while the world reels from the multiple crises spun-off by the imposter “god” in its death throes.

The masters of deception have interwoven faith in capital with patriotic belief, while painting critics of either with the same brush of “communist.” Following their pseudo logic, all those who resist the plan for a global empire built on the graves of billions of “useless eaters” are considered to be enemies of mankind, no better than communists, terrorists, or other common criminals. Even though resistance to a plan of mass genocide is obviously an act of self-defense, those who dare to do so are marked as extremists and terrorists, targeted for death or incarceration in the war on terror. In the end, real patriots will seethe with righteous anger when they realize that America itself is the final target marked for destruction in the envisioned New Order. The destruction of the banks is a planned event, as was the elimination of American industry.

The wise men who plan the wars and move the grand chess pieces for their imaginary humanitarian reasons have developed their own scientific methods for persuading the human race into accepting their master plan. In their cold calculations they have arrived at a working hypothesis, whereby they have concluded that they only have to manipulate a small portion of the human race located in America, in key Western countries and in the Middle East, which stands in the way of their plans of conquest. All available resources are focused on this small segment of humanity, especially upon the leadership of this small select group, seeking to persuade them by the power of the purse or through sheer fear of military force to accept the takeover.

The leadership in every zone of conflict (including potential leaders) is assessed and targeted to either co-opt or to destroy. Group leadership manipulation techniques are used to build-up the useful groups who will accept the corporate domination, while tearing-down those that are thought to be impediments to the conquest. This process has advanced the empire’s agenda all over the planet, while strewing a trail of human wreckage in its wake. Entire countries have been destabilized and laid to waste in the service of the empire’s grand design. For the most part, the targeted individuals do not realize that they are being manipulated by forces hostile to their own desires or agendas. The fortunate few who do understand the forces allayed against the human race are effectively quarantined by corporate constrictions placed on all available mediums of communication, thereby limiting their ability to spread their infectious knowledge (truth) to others.

The infectious truth is that there exists a small powerful group of men who consider themselves to be gods, intent upon ruling the world. The global economic collapse is a product of their machinations, as is the “war on terror” we wage to save the global economy. We have decimated Afghanistan and Iraq as part of their plan to save capitalism and avert their eventual total ruin. We savage these countries thinking that we are saving our own country, which these men have sacrificed on the altar of “globalism” for their own enrichment. In the end, nothing is being saved, as the economic order is collapsing and our military begins to escalate the resource war in Asia. Our sons fight and die to finalize the world takeover for these false gods.

The Afghan/Pakistani quagmire, the focus of this plan, has been made worse by the sheer ignorance, neglect and brutality of the previous American administration. This policy was custom made for driving entire populations into taking-up arms in self-defense, with the only other path to “victory” given serious consideration being the complete decimation of those targeted populations. There is no room at the top for discussions of possible solutions of the impending intersecting world crises that involve moving resources from the accounts of the master class into the hands of the suffering masses. I was recently very surprised to hear one of the master strategists of the empire, adviser to President Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, advocating just that in an interview, when he called for creation of a National Solidarity Fund.

Another of Obama’s advisers, Richard Holbrooke, recently explained that the idea in Afghanistan/Pakistan was to separate the “reconcilables from the irreconcilables,” a call taken-up by Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The “reconcilables” (those who will submit and become collaborators to the empire) could either be bought or brought into submission by a process of coercion. In the grand design those who prove to be immune to the fear tactics are coerced by more lethal persuasion. Surely Obama himself is in the dark about the depth of the depravity of the plan he has been hand-picked to administer.

The actual cost of the truly extremist “plan-to-takeover-the-world” is not to be measured in dollars, but in innocent lives claimed. The price tag for saving the collapsing capitalist system is much greater than the trillions of dollars now being cited in descriptions of the continuing bailout; it will be remembered simply as world war III, which claimed billions of lives. The horror that has been planned for us has been described best as the apocalypse or “Armageddon (a period of upheaval marked by famine and war of such ferocity that divine intervention will be required to save a remnant of the human race) by the ancient prophets who foresaw our era of false gods, describing the economic empire created as “The Beast”.

It is not possible to save the super-capitalists from the world crisis that they have brought on themselves. No amount of money poured down the drain, nor sacrifice of innocent multitudes will save the personal fortunes of the world’s richest most powerful men, but the correct expenditure of their massive fortunes would turn the situation around, saving the entire human race and setting the foundations for a new humane economic order. Obama must realize when the time comes that under the emergency powers of his office he not only has the authority to seize our assets, but he also has access to all the assets of America’s richest men for meeting those emergencies that threaten the common good.

Very soon it will become obvious to all that the national emergency that we have begun to enter truly threatens everything. Let capitalism pass away peacefully. Prepare to embrace a new humane economic order. If it is inevitable that the people must bailout the banks to preserve some semblance of the American way of life, then shouldn’t the people then own the banks? If, in the end, a choice must be made between a few men owning everything at the people’s expense, or the people owning their own means of production, then we all must choose to be our own masters.

peter.chamberlin@yahoo.com

A Planet at the Brink

A Planet at the Brink

Food riots were but one form of economic violence that made its bloody appearance in 2008. As economic conditions worsened, protests against rising unemployment, government ineptitude, and the unaddressed needs of the poor erupted as well, notes Michael T. Klare.
Will Economic Brushfires Prove Too Virulent to Contain?

The global economic meltdown has already caused bank failures, bankruptcies, plant closings, and foreclosures and will, in the coming year, leave many tens of millions unemployed across the planet. But another perilous consequence of the crash of 2008 has only recently made its appearance: increased civil unrest and ethnic strife. Someday, perhaps, war may follow.

As people lose confidence in the ability of markets and governments to solve the global crisis, they are likely to erupt into violent protests or to assault others they deem responsible for their plight, including government officials, plant managers, landlords, immigrants, and ethnic minorities. (The list could, in the future, prove long and unnerving.) If the present economic disaster turns into what President Obama has referred to as a “lost decade,” the result could be a global landscape filled with economically-fueled upheavals.

Indeed, if you want to be grimly impressed, hang a world map on your wall and start inserting red pins where violent episodes have already occurred. Athens (Greece), Longnan (China), Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Riga (Latvia), Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Vilnius (Lithuania), and Vladivostok (Russia) would be a start. Many other cities from Reykjavik, Paris, Rome, and Zaragoza to Moscow and Dublin have witnessed huge protests over rising unemployment and falling wages that remained orderly thanks in part to the presence of vast numbers of riot police. If you inserted orange pins at these locations — none as yet in the United States — your map would already look aflame with activity. And if you’re a gambling man or woman, it’s a safe bet that this map will soon be far better populated with red and orange pins.

For the most part, such upheavals, even when violent, are likely to remain localized in nature, and disorganized enough that government forces will be able to bring them under control within days or weeks, even if — as with Athens for six days last December — urban paralysis sets in due to rioting, tear gas, and police cordons. That, at least, has been the case so far. It is entirely possible, however, that, as the economic crisis worsens, some of these incidents will metastasize into far more intense and long-lasting events: armed rebellions, military takeovers, civil conflicts, even economically fueled wars between states.

Every outbreak of violence has its own distinctive origins and characteristics. All, however, are driven by a similar combination of anxiety about the future and lack of confidence in the ability of established institutions to deal with the problems at hand. And just as the economic crisis has proven global in ways not seen before, so local incidents — especially given the almost instantaneous nature of modern communications — have a potential to spark others in far-off places, linked only in a virtual sense.

A Global Pandemic of Economically Driven Violence

The riots that erupted in the spring of 2008 in response to rising food prices suggested the speed with which economically-related violence can spread. It is unlikely that Western news sources captured all such incidents, but among those recorded in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were riots in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, and Senegal.

In Haiti, for example, thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince and demanded food handouts, only to be repelled by government troops and UN peacekeepers. Other countries, including Pakistan and Thailand, quickly sought to deter such assaults by deploying troops at farms and warehouses throughout the country.

The riots only abated at summer’s end when falling energy costs brought food prices crashing down as well. (The cost of food is now closely tied to the price of oil and natural gas because petrochemicals are so widely and heavily used in the cultivation of grains.) Ominously, however, this is sure to prove but a temporary respite, given the epic droughts now gripping breadbasket regions of the United States, Argentina, Australia, China, the Middle East, and Africa. Look for the prices of wheat, soybeans, and possibly rice to rise in the coming months — just when billions of people in the developing world are sure to see their already marginal incomes plunging due to the global economic collapse.

Food riots were but one form of economic violence that made its bloody appearance in 2008. As economic conditions worsened, protests against rising unemployment, government ineptitude, and the unaddressed needs of the poor erupted as well. In India, for example, violent protests threatened stability in many key areas. Although usually described as ethnic, religious, or caste disputes, these outbursts were typically driven by economic anxiety and a pervasive feeling that someone else’s group was faring better than yours — and at your expense.

In April, for example, six days of intense rioting in Indian-controlled Kashmir were largely blamed on religious animosity between the majority Muslim population and the Hindu-dominated Indian government; equally important, however, was a deep resentment over what many Kashmiri Muslims experienced as discrimination in jobs, housing, and land use. Then, in May, thousands of nomadic shepherds known as Gujjars shut down roads and trains leading to the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, in a drive to be awarded special economic rights; more than 30 people were killed when the police fired into crowds. In October, economically-related violence erupted in Assam in the country’s far northeast, where impoverished locals are resisting an influx of even poorer, mostly illegal immigrants from nearby Bangladesh.

Economically-driven clashes also erupted across much of eastern China in 2008. Such events, labeled “mass incidents” by Chinese authorities, usually involve protests by workers over sudden plant shutdowns, lost pay, or illegal land seizures. More often than not, protestors demanded compensation from company managers or government authorities, only to be greeted by club-wielding police.

Needless to say, the leaders of China’s Communist Party have been reluctant to acknowledge such incidents. This January, however, the magazine Liaowang (Outlook Weekly) reported that layoffs and wage disputes had triggered a sharp increase in such “mass incidents,” particularly along the country’s eastern seaboard, where much of its manufacturing capacity is located.

By December, the epicenter of such sporadic incidents of violence had moved from the developing world to Western Europe and the former Soviet Union. Here, the protests have largely been driven by fears of prolonged unemployment, disgust at government malfeasance and ineptitude, and a sense that “the system,” however defined, is incapable of satisfying the future aspirations of large groups of citizens.

One of the earliest of this new wave of upheavals occurred in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 2008, after police shot and killed a 15-year-old schoolboy during an altercation in a crowded downtown neighborhood. As news of the killing spread throughout the city, hundreds of students and young people surged into the city center and engaged in pitched battles with riot police, throwing stones and firebombs. Although government officials later apologized for the killing and charged the police officer involved with manslaughter, riots broke out repeatedly in the following days in Athens and other Greek cities. Angry youths attacked the police — widely viewed as agents of the establishment — as well as luxury shops and hotels, some of which were set on fire. By one estimate, the six days of riots caused $1.3 billion in damage to businesses at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

Russia also experienced a spate of violent protests in December, triggered by the imposition of high tariffs on imported automobiles. Instituted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to protect an endangered domestic auto industry (whose sales were expected to shrink by up to 50% in 2009), the tariffs were a blow to merchants in the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok who benefited from a nationwide commerce in used Japanese vehicles. When local police refused to crack down on anti-tariff protests, the authorities were evidently worried enough to fly in units of special forces from Moscow, 3,700 miles away.

In January, incidents of this sort seemed to be spreading through Eastern Europe. Between January 13th and 16th, anti-government protests involving violent clashes with the police erupted in the Latvian capital of Riga, the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, and the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. It is already essentially impossible to keep track of all such episodes, suggesting that we are on the verge of a global pandemic of economically driven violence.

A Perfect Recipe for Instability

While most such incidents are triggered by an immediate event — a tariff, the closure of local factory, the announcement of government austerity measures — there are systemic factors at work as well. While economists now agree that we are in the midst of a recession deeper than any since the Great Depression of the 1930s, they generally assume that this downturn — like all others since World War II — will be followed in a year, or two, or three, by the beginning of a typical recovery.

There are good reasons to suspect that this might not be the case — that poorer countries (along with many people in the richer countries) will have to wait far longer for such a recovery, or may see none at all. Even in the United States, 54% of Americans now believe that “the worst” is “yet to come” and only 7% that the economy has “turned the corner,” according to a recent Ipsos/McClatchy poll; fully a quarter think the crisis will last more than four years. Whether in the US, Russia, China, or Bangladesh, it is this underlying anxiety — this suspicion that things are far worse than just about anyone is saying — which is helping to fuel the global epidemic of violence.

The World Bank’s most recent status report, Global Economic Prospects 2009, fulfills those anxieties in two ways. It refuses to state the worst, even while managing to hint, in terms too clear to be ignored, at the prospect of a long-term, or even permanent, decline in economic conditions for many in the world. Nominally upbeat — as are so many media pundits — regarding the likelihood of an economic recovery in the not-too-distant future, the report remains full of warnings about the potential for lasting damage in the developing world if things don’t go exactly right.

Two worries, in particular, dominate Global Economic Prospects 2009: that banks and corporations in the wealthier countries will cease making investments in the developing world, choking off whatever growth possibilities remain; and that food costs will rise uncomfortably, while the use of farmlands for increased biofuels production will result in diminished food availability to hundreds of millions.

Despite its Pollyanna-ish passages on an economic rebound, the report does not mince words when discussing what the almost certain coming decline in First World investment in Third World countries would mean:

“Should credit markets fail to respond to the robust policy interventions taken so far, the consequences for developing countries could be very serious. Such a scenario would be characterized by… substantial disruption and turmoil, including bank failures and currency crises, in a wide range of developing countries. Sharply negative growth in a number of developing countries and all of the attendant repercussions, including increased poverty and unemployment, would be inevitable.”

In the fall of 2008, when the report was written, this was considered a “worst-case scenario.” Since then, the situation has obviously worsened radically, with financial analysts reporting a virtual freeze in worldwide investment. Equally troubling, newly industrialized countries that rely on exporting manufactured goods to richer countries for much of their national income have reported stomach-wrenching plunges in sales, producing massive plant closings and layoffs.

The World Bank’s 2008 survey also contains troubling data about the future availability of food. Although insisting that the planet is capable of producing enough foodstuffs to meet the needs of a growing world population, its analysts were far less confident that sufficient food would be available at prices people could afford, especially once hydrocarbon prices begin to rise again. With ever more farmland being set aside for biofuels production and efforts to increase crop yields through the use of “miracle seeds” losing steam, the Bank’s analysts balanced their generally hopeful outlook with a caveat: “If biofuels-related demand for crops is much stronger or productivity performance disappoints, future food supplies may be much more expensive than in the past.”

Combine these two World Bank findings — zero economic growth in the developing world and rising food prices — and you have a perfect recipe for unrelenting civil unrest and violence. The eruptions seen in 2008 and early 2009 will then be mere harbingers of a grim future in which, in a given week, any number of cities reel from riots and civil disturbances which could spread like multiple brushfires in a drought.

Mapping a World at the Brink

Survey the present world, and it’s all too easy to spot a plethora of potential sites for such multiple eruptions — or far worse. Take China. So far, the authorities have managed to control individual “mass incidents,” preventing them from coalescing into something larger. But in a country with a more than two-thousand-year history of vast millenarian uprisings, the risk of such escalation has to be on the minds of every Chinese leader.

On February 2nd, a top Chinese Party official, Chen Xiwen, announced that, in the last few months of 2008 alone, a staggering 20 million migrant workers, who left rural areas for the country’s booming cities in recent years, had lost their jobs. Worse yet, they had little prospect of regaining them in 2009. If many of these workers return to the countryside, they may find nothing there either, not even land to work.

Under such circumstances, and with further millions likely to be shut out of coastal factories in the coming year, the prospect of mass unrest is high. No wonder the government announced a $585 billion stimulus plan aimed at generating rural employment and, at the same time, called on security forces to exercise discipline and restraint when dealing with protesters. Many analysts now believe that, as exports continue to dry up, rising unemployment could lead to nationwide strikes and protests that might overwhelm ordinary police capabilities and require full-scale intervention by the military (as occurred in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989).

Or take many of the Third World petro-states that experienced heady boosts in income when oil prices were high, allowing governments to buy off dissident groups or finance powerful internal security forces. With oil prices plunging from $147 per barrel of crude oil to less than $40 dollars, such countries, from Angola to shaky Iraq, now face severe instability.

Nigeria is a typical case in point: When oil prices were high, the central government in Abuja raked in billions every year, enough to enrich elites in key parts of the country and subsidize a large military establishment; now that prices are low, the government will have a hard time satisfying all these previously well-fed competing obligations, which means the risk of internal disequilibrium will escalate. An insurgency in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, fueled by popular discontent with the failure of oil wealth to trickle down from the capital, is already gaining momentum and is likely to grow stronger as government revenues shrivel; other regions, equally disadvantaged by national revenue-sharing policies, will be open to disruptions of all sorts, including heightened levels of internecine warfare.

Bolivia is another energy producer that seems poised at the brink of an escalation in economic violence. One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, it harbors substantial oil and natural gas reserves in its eastern, lowland regions. A majority of the population — many of Indian descent — supports President Evo Morales, who seeks to exercise strong state control over the reserves and use the proceeds to uplift the nation’s poor. But a majority of those in the eastern part of the country, largely controlled by a European-descended elite, resent central government interference and seek to control the reserves themselves. Their efforts to achieve greater autonomy have led to repeated clashes with government troops and, in deteriorating times, could set the stage for a full-scale civil war.

Given a global situation in which one startling, often unexpected development follows another, prediction is perilous. At a popular level, however, the basic picture is clear enough: continued economic decline combined with a pervasive sense that existing systems and institutions are incapable of setting things right is already producing a potentially lethal brew of anxiety, fear, and rage. Popular explosions of one sort or another are inevitable.

Some sense of this new reality appears to have percolated up to the highest reaches of the US intelligence community. In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 12th, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the new Director of National Intelligence, declared, “The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications… Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period” — certain to be the case in the present situation.

Blair did not specify which countries he had in mind when he spoke of “regime-threatening instability” — a new term in the American intelligence lexicon, at least when associated with economic crises — but it is clear from his testimony that US officials are closely watching dozens of shaky nations in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central Asia.

Now go back to that map on your wall with all those red and orange pins in it and proceed to color in appropriate countries in various shades of red and orange to indicate recent striking declines in gross national product and rises in unemployment rates. Without 16 intelligence agencies under you, you’ll still have a pretty good idea of the places that Blair and his associates are eyeing in terms of instability as the future darkens on a planet at the brink.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Metropolitan Books).

Zardari Lights Match, Pakistan Ready to Burn

Protests break out across Pakistan, slam Sharifs’ ban

Protests took place in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Quetta, Muzaffarabad and several other cities. — Reuters

Protests took place in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Quetta, Muzaffarabad and several other cities. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Police fired tear gas and rounded up protesters in Islamabad Friday, with the nuclear-armed nation in turmoil since a court banned the top opposition leader from contesting elections.

The cabinet met to discuss the crisis and paramilitaries went on alert as thousands rallied, one day after the country marked the biggest protests yet against President Asif Ali Zardari, who took office last September.

Protesters are heeding a call from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who leads the second largest party in Pakistan, to rise up after the Supreme Court Wednesday barred him and his brother from holding public office.

Zardari and Sharif are at loggerheads over the future of Pakistan, a key US ally in the fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda militancy which has been teetering under financial crisis, extremism and weak government.

Analysts say Pakistan, reeling from extremist attacks that have killed more than 1,600 people in less than two years, can ill afford a showdown on top of international pressure to bring to justice those behind the Mumbai attacks.

In Islamabad, police fired tear gas shells to disperse stone throwers and dozens of protesters shouting slogans against the government on a key road leading to the international airport, an AFP photographer said.

Riot police, armed with batons, charged into the mob, beating demonstrators and rounding up around 25 protesters into vans, the photographer said.

A senior government official said Friday’s weekly cabinet meeting focused on ‘the situation arising after the Supreme Court decision.’

In Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, ousted chief minister Shahbaz Sharif addressed more than 1,000 lawyers and activists while another 500 people rallied outside the regional parliament, an AFP reporter said.

Waving green party flags and portraits of Nawaz Sharif, around 100 provincial lawmakers also shouted ‘Go Zardari Go,’ an AFP photographer said.

Shahbaz, Nawaz Sharif’s brother, lost his post in Punjab, the country’s political heartland, where the government suspended the provincial parliament.

The protestors in Lahore also torched tyres.

Hundreds more protested in Rawalpindi, Quetta and in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Twice a former prime minister, 59-year-old Nawaz Sharif has tapped into widespread public discontent with Zardari, crowning his status as a key player in Pakistani politics since a seven-year exile in Saudi Arabia.

His Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) demands the reinstatement of constitutional court judges sacked when former military ruler Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule in 2007.

‘On the request of the Punjab government we have deployed (put on alert) paramilitary forces to maintain law and order,’ interior ministry spokesman Shahidullah Baig told AFP.

‘The situation is under control,’ he added.

Police said complaints had been filed against hundreds of PML-N workers and three local leaders in connection with unrest and property damage on Thursday.

Sharif’s two terms as prime minister in the 1990s were marred by corruption claims and efforts to introduce Islamic sharia law.

The Supreme Court confirmed a lower court verdict in Lahore last June that he was ineligible to stand in a by-election due to past convictions.

Taliban not the only problem in Afghanistan

Taliban not the only problem in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, the ancient junction point of Asia, has been suffering the traumas of civil war and occupation for the last 30 years and is again among the main points of the world’s agenda following the regime change in the United States.

And despite the 65,000-strong NATO force under American leadership, stability and security in the country remain elusive.

Amidst elections campaigning, Barack Obama had said Afghanistan would be his number-one foreign policy priority, and, now president, he is trying to determine an exit strategy for the region. Obama is sending 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Some news reports suggest the US has requested additional Turkish troops as well.

As an assessment of the state of affairs goes on in Washington, the special Pakistan-Afghanistan envoy is establishing contacts in the region to sound out the situation. As a doubling of the US forces in the country is planned, to bring the total to 60,000, ahead of a critical NATO meeting in April, there are efforts to convince alliance members to up their own contributions there.

Delivery of Turkish aid packages

It’s unknown what sort of commitments are being made in the deliberations going on behind closed doors, but one thing that is for certain is that as far as the US and NATO go, a view is gaining currency: that stability in Afghanistan cannot be ensured through only military means but that such action absolutely must be paralleled by political, economic and social development.

As part of a journalism program organized by the US Department of State, officials (from NATO and elsewhere) came together in Brussels and Kabul and asserted that the only exit strategy capable of success would be to build a self-sufficient Afghan state.

Gen. David D. McKiernan

What the Afghan people want immediately is a nation that can stand on its own two feet. Nimatullah Wasik, an English teacher in Kabul, summarizes this desire by saying that instead of giving Afghanistan a fish every day, the international community should teach it how to fish. “More foreign soldiers will not bring stability to this country. We import everything from abroad. Kabul’s electricity comes from Uzbekistan. What if they cut it off one day? This is why we need education and technology. Let the West obtain this for us.”

The International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) establishment of provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) across the country is of key importance in this regard. The 26 PRTs, 12 of them under US leadership, construct things like roads, water canals, schools, clinics and police stations, and create projects in fields like security, education, health and management to provide technical and logistical support for development and security. An example is the Afghanistan Technical and Vocational Institute the US opened in Kabul, which is training students to meet the need for qualified workers. PRTs have completed 126 projects, with 268 still ongoing. Another 284 proposed projects are waiting in line.

AFGHANISTAN IN NUMBERS

  • The population of Afghanistan is nearly 30 million. Ninety percent of the population is Sunni, and 10 percent Shiite.
  • In Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest nations, 70-75 percent of the population is illiterate. Seventy percent of the people live in rural areas.
  • Forty-one percent of the people are destitute. Five million depend on charity for their basic nutritional needs.
  • Unemployment in the country is at a rate of 40 percent; 82 percent of the employed make a living from agriculture, while 6 percent work in industry.
  • The standing NATO international forces in the country number 65,000. The US has 37,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and is planning to double this number.
  • Civilian deaths have doubled since 2006. According to the UN, 2,100 civilians were killed in the country, with NATO forces responsible for 40 percent of these deaths.
  • Afghan security forces number 160,000, but only 30 percent of the army and 3 percent of the police are classed as “good” or “very good.”
  • In the first five years after 2001, the US lost an average of 50 soldiers a year, while this number increased to 100 in 2006, 120 in 2007 and 155 in 2008. The number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 has surpassed 1,000. At least 600 of these were Americans.
  • The US has spent $33.37 billion on rebuilding the country.
  • Six-hundred and eighty schools have been constructed, and following the Taliban’s fall from power 4.2 million students returned to school. Of the nearly 6 million students, 35 percent are females.
  • While 670 health clinics were built, 10,000 health professionals were trained. Seventy percent of children are vaccinated, but in the nation where the life expectancy is an average 45 years, one of every five children dies before reaching the age of 5.
  • The nation’s economy has grown by 10 percent annually since the fall of the Taliban. The gross domestic product (GDP) has doubled, but the GDP is only $11 billion.
  • Of the 34 provinces, 18 no longer produce opium, but Afghanistan still provides 93 percent of the world’s opium. Fifteen percent of the public are involved in the opium trade.
  • Since 2001, over 4 million refugees have returned home to Afghanistan, but in Pakistan and Iran another 2.8 million refugees have yet to return home.

Public disappointed

But the serious security problem in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is even able to carry out bold attacks on ministry buildings in the capital, is weakening rebuilding activities. Even top-level NATO and US officials admit this openly. The number-one military commander in the country, American Gen. David D. McKiernan, described this reality thusly: “Seven years after the fall of the Taliban, we’re not where we want to be. Security is insufficient in the country’s eastern and southern provinces. The public is disappointed with regards to security.”

Among the State Department’s prominent ranks is US Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood, who admits that the US was wrong in thinking that following the Taliban’s 2001 fall a small force would be able to rebuild Afghanistan. “But in the 2003-4 period the Taliban regained strength. Opium production took a leap. … People feel less safe than they did two or three years ago. From a number of perspectives, the situation is more difficult than it was in 2003,” he says. Last year saw a 35 percent increase in violent attacks over 2007. Last year, NATO lost more soldiers than in any other year. According to UN figures, civilian deaths rose by 40 percent to exceed 2,100. A high-level Western official summarizes the situation on the field by saying, “NATO isn’t winning, but it isn’t losing; the Taliban isn’t losing, but it isn’t winning.”

But there have been adamant denials of news reports that the Taliban has gained strength in the past two years and expanded its sphere of influence. Asserting that the country’s north and west are relatively safer than in previous years, authorities defend that violent incidents increased in the south because there are more soldiers in the field there. Pakistan’s not paying enough attention to its border because of internal unrest also plays a big part in this and the increase in cross-border infiltrations.

Gen. McKiernan describes news reports that the Taliban is gaining power as myths, saying that violence in the nation does not stem from the Taliban alone, but also clan rivalry, battles between drug kingpins and ordinary crime, asserting that these are also important factors contributing to incident rates. As Wood discusses violence, he is particularly careful to avoid using the word Taliban, instead using terms like “illegal power centers,” drug traders, warlords and bandits to describe those threatening the administration.

Army fighting an uphill battle on many fronts

The ISAF’s top priority is to bring the Afghan military to operational status and to ensure peace and stability. It holds the view that in the fight against the Taliban, the Afghan forces will be more successful because they know the country’s geography, culture and who the Taliban is. An Afghan police officer, Kami Ahmad, says: “It’s not possible for foreign forces to bring security to Afghanistan. Remember Russia’s experience.”

The ISAF aims to be a force that supports the Afghan security forces’ own management of field operations. There are 86,000 Afghan troops and the goal is to train a force of 134,000 that is capable of carrying out its own operations. Currently, only 25 percent of troops carrying out security operations are Afghan. The lack of sufficient numbers of instructors, equipment and financing are slowing the process of building up the Afghan military. Another stumbling block is presented by the high illiteracy rates among those applying to join the army. One Afghan military official says, “If you can read and write, you’re automatically an officer.”

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesperson Gen. Zahir Azimi complains in particular of insufficient heavy arms supplies, such as tanks and cannons, and the country’s lack of an air force. Speaking with Today’s Zaman, the spokesman said that within a year the American government was to give them Italian-manufactured C-27 planes. But the other major problem for the Afghan military is financing. The general, a veteran of the Afghan battle against the Soviets, says: “Our soldiers are paid below market prices. This lowers the number of volunteers. We give our soldiers $100 a month. This is half of what Taliban fighters get. According to our intelligence, the Taliban gives its fighters $200 a month.”

However, the general says the US has promised that within three years it will provide $20 billion for the Afghan security forces.

The Afghan military is also careful that its forces reflect the ethnic makeup of the country. According to defense officials, the military’s ethnic distribution is as follows: 40-45 percent Pashtun, 30-35 percent Tajik, 10-12 percent Hazara and roughly 10 percent other.

Another important constituent in terms of the country’s security and development is the police force. Only 82,000 Afghan police officers have been trained at this point. The ISAF is struggling in developing and expanding the police force because of a lack of instructors and training centers. Corruption, low salaries and equipment and weapons deficits plague the police forces — in addition to heavy losses in Taliban attacks. In a country where violence has run unchecked for 30 years, there is no working legal system. There is no tradition of a police force in the modern sense, which is a big obstacle for the Afghan administration. It’s not possible to speak of a police structure outside of Kabul and a handful of other big cities. In the province of Wardak, for instance, there are only 300 police officers. In a country where the clan system reigns, people are unwilling to apply the rules that the state has instated or punish those who do not follow the law.

On the other hand, at the Pentagon, plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan are in their final phase. In the plan to be presented to Obama soon, 20-30,000 American soldiers will be deployed to the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar and along the border with Pakistan. The first batch of deployments has already taken place and the rest will be sent by the summer, according to the plan. With the arrival of the reinforcements, the US will focus on fighting the drug trade and preventing infiltrations across the border with Pakistan.

2009 will also be a bloody affair for Afghanistan

Afghan and American officials do not expect a decrease in violent events for 2009. Gen. Azimi predicts: “The enemy will resort to tactics like roadside bombings, suicide attacks, ambushes and kidnappings, focusing on soft targets like logistics convoys. 2009 will be as bloody a year as last year.” American Gen. McKiernan also says that this year will be difficult, but takes a more optimistic stance, asserting that the sun also rises and after the waves of violence will follow a lasting stability.

Afghanistan important for NATO legitimacy

The US toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan on the premise of aiding and harboring the terrorists who organized the Sept. 11 attacks. The reasoning behind the Afghanistan operation was to prevent the country from serving any longer as a haven for terrorists. But Western officials, noting that 2009, when NATO will mark 60 years since its establishment, will be a critical year for the alliance’s “off-site” Afghanistan operation, have said that for NATO to bear any legitimacy after the Cold War period, success in Afghanistan is imperative.

Another reason Afghanistan is so important was expressed by US Ambassador Wood, who notes that Afghanistan, sharing borders with Pakistan, Iran and China, is in a complicated geographical position, located in a region where Russia and India also have interests. “Four of its neighbors are nuclear powers, and Iran also wants nuclear power. These five countries are in a phase of self-identification and their relationships with one another will constitute a big piece of the history of the 21st century. And Afghanistan is right in the middle. Afghanistan can either be a source of stability for these very important countries or, as it has been for the last 30 years, be a source of instability. For all of us and for world geopolitics, there are huge security stakes here.”

A Turkish high school

Turkey planting seeds of peace, development in Afghanistan

On the topic of rebuilding Afghanistan and securing its socioeconomic development, ISAF PRTs play a major role. There are PRTs in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces. The Turkish PRT serving in Wardak, 25 kilometers outside Kabul, stands out from the pack in its close communication with the people and its civilian structure.

The Turkish PRT deployed in November 2006 and is the only civilian-run PRT in the country. The Turkish PRT encompasses a total of 75 civilians, including Afghans. Among the many accomplishments of the Turkish-led PRT are the successful projects they’ve led: In Wardak, which is split into nine regions, to date they have built seven schools, one medical center, two deep freezer facilities, two water reservoirs, a fruit drying facility, 10 wells, a police training center, a police station, a gymnasium and a mosque.

Turkey’s positive contributions in the region have brought it the accolades of the international community working in Afghanistan. Western diplomatic and military officials gathering in Kabul speak highly of the developments in Wardak, all praising the Turkish PRT’s tangible effectiveness in the region, in the words of Gen. McKiernan. “PRTs, which work with different elements in the provinces along with international forces, regional administrations and the people, make the biggest contribution. And we see this cooperation in Wardak,” he said, also emphasizing that the Turkish PRT was a model for the other PRTs throughout Afghanistan.

27 February 2009, Friday

NAMIK KEMAL PARLAK KABUL

Ukrainian Economic Dilemma Creates European Gas Bottleneck Once Again

Kommersant: Gazprom may cut gas to Ukraine over non-payments

Kommersant: Gazprom may cut gas to Ukraine over non-payments

Russian energy giant Gazprom could cut gas deliveries to Ukraine from March 8 if Naftogaz does not pay for supplies received in February, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Thursday.

The newspaper said Naftogaz does not have the money to pay for the gas.

A week ago Naftogaz warned it might face problems paying for gas supplied by Russia’s gas monopoly as non-payments by Ukrainian utilities were leaving the national energy company short of funds. The issue was discussed at a Gazprom board meeting on Tuesday.

“If $400 million is not forthcoming by March 7, it will be necessary once again to cut off Ukraine,” Andrei Kruglov was quoted as saying by an unidentified participant in the meeting. Kommersant said a senior Gazprom official confirmed such a plan is being developed.

“The company will carry out its obligations to consumers and transport gas at previous volumes. But the volume of gas delivered to Ukraine will be reduced – fuel will not be supplied to Naftogaz free of charge,” the source said.

Gazprom suspended gas deliveries to Ukraine on January 1 over non-payments and the two sides’ failure to agree a delivery contract for 2009. A week later, Gazprom accused Ukraine of stealing gas intended for EU consumers and cut off gas deliveries to the European Union via the country, prompting two weeks of major gas shortages across much of Eastern Europe.

The standoff was resolved after negotiations between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko. The gas supply and transit contract signed on January 19 by Gazprom and Naftogaz stipulates that the Russian energy giant can switch to 100% prepayments if payments are not received on time.

Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky on Wednesday told Kommersant that the company hoped “to collect the necessary sum of money by March 7 and to make the payment.”

Another company source said Naftogaz could find $100-$160 million, but did not say where the remaining funds would come from.

Pakistani President Zardari Lets Past Conflicts Trouble Nation’s Present

Pakistan faces new political crisis as Nawaz Sharif banned from office

Pakistan has been plunged back into political crisis after its Supreme Court banned its former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from holding political office.

By Dean Nelson in New Delhi and Javed Siddiq in Islamabad
Pakistan faces new political crisis as Nawaz Sharif banned from office

Former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif (R) and his brother Shahbaz Sharif Photo: EPA

The court also ousted Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League from power in Punjab province, where his brother Shahbaz was chief minister.

The ruling upheld a move by the country’s election commission to ban the Sharif brothers from contesting elections because of past criminal convictions. But Mr Sharif accused President Asif Ali Zardari of orchestrating the ruling.

The ban on Shahbaz Sharif led to the immediate collapse of the state government in Punbjab. President Zardari immediately appointed Punjab’s governor Salaman Taseer – a long-term opponent of the Sharif brothers – to run the provincial government as chief executive for the next two months pending the formation of a new administration.

Mr Zardari is also expected to try to persuade some of Nawaz Sharif’s opposition assembly members to desert him and join a new coalition led by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

Shares in Islamabad plunged five per cent amid fears of a return to the political instability of the 1990s when Mr Nawaz’s PML party and the PPP of Mr Zardari’s assassinated wife Benazir Bhutto persecuted each other and their supporters.

Those fears were heightened by a series of large protests in Lahore and other cities in Punjab, and also by calls by Mr Sharif for mass demonstrations to unite the opposition towards the ban.

Mr Sharif alleged that Mr Zardari had prompted the verdict because he and his brother had rejected a “business deal” under which the Sharif brothers would be ruled eligible to hold political office if they agreed to extend the term of the country’s chief justice, Abdul Hamid Dogar.

Mr Sharif and his brother have consistently campaigned for Chief Justice Dogar to be sacked and for his predecessor, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was ousted by the former president Pervez Musharraf when he imposed emergency rule in 2007, to be reinstated.

Mr Zardari is said to fear that if he reinstated Mr Chaudhry, the independent-minded former chief justice might strike down Mr Musharraf’s National Reconciliation Ordinance, under which corruption charges against Mr Zardari were dropped and he was allowed to hold office.

Mr Zardari denies all wrongdoing.

Nawaz Sharif claimed: “Zardari invited him [Shahbaz Sharif] for lunch and said he was offering him a business deal under which he could remain the chief minister in return for our help in securing an extension for Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar.

“When Shahbaz promptly shot down the suggestion, Zardari told him: ‘I am offering you a business deal, a trade off’. We decided to put the interests of Pakistan first’.”

He called for Pakistanis to join planned protests led by the country’s lawyers’ movement campaigning for the judges sacked by Mr Musharraf to be reinstated.

“The nation should rise against this unconstitutional decision and this nefarious act of Zardari. He opposed rioting, he said, but warned:”If the people want to show their anger, who can stop them?”

Mr Sharif is regarded as Pakistan’s most popular politician and his stock has risen since last year’s elections when his PML defied expectations to win comfortably in Punjab. He remains influential and is regularly courted by visiting US officials who believe he could yet return to power.

Yes we are raging – against a Government that spies on its citizens while ignoring the crimes of greedy bankers

Yes we are raging – against a Government that spies on its citizens while ignoring the crimes of greedy bankers

By James Slack

Today one of Britain’s most senior police officers with responsibility for public order raises the spectre of a ‘summer of rage’, with victims of the increasingly bitter recession taking to the streets in possibly violent protest.

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police’s public order branch, warned that law-abiding middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.

Protests against economic conditions

Thousands of workers demonstrated in Dublin on Saturday. Police fear the worsening economic situation will lead to mass street protests in the UK

Many will consider such a scenario unlikely, or point out this has not been the ‘British way’ over the past two decades.

Violent protests take place in Europe – in recent weeks Greek farmers have blocked roads over falling agricultural prices, a million workers in France took to the streets to demand greater protection for their jobs and wages and Icelandic demonstrators have clashed with police in Reykjavik – but not here.

But can we really be so sure? The public’s rage with the banks and the Government is growing by the day.

Thousands are losing their jobs through no fault of their own because bankers who made millions during the good times are calling in the loans which their employers need to stay afloat.

Homes are being repossessed across the country, but not the penthouse flats and country piles of bank bosses who thought nothing of taking home vast seven-figure bonuses, and consider £1 million a year a modest income.

The innocent are being punished while the guilty continue to lead affluent lives.

As Ken Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions says today: ‘If you mug someone in the street and you are caught, the chances are that you will go to prison. In recent years, mugging someone out of their savings or their pension would probably earn you a yacht.’

Add to this a second issue highlighted by Sir Ken: the march of the surveillance state.

Ministers have been spending their time focussing on eroding our most treasured individual freedoms, while doing little or nothing to curb criminal behaviour by the banks.

The DNA database containing the samples of hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent people…the largest number of CCTV cameras in the world…anti-terrorist powers being deployed against dog foulers…restrictions on telling religious jokes…

All of these intrusive, liberty-sapping polices were developed while the banks were blowing billions on reckless sub-prime lending.

How much better a place Britain would be today if Labour had focussed on regulating the banks and getting a grip on the shambolic, toothless Financial Services Authority, rather than building a surveillance state.

That the public is being watched by Big Brother at every turn is deeply  alarming. That the innocent were being tracked going about their every day lives while a blind eye was being turned to a financial sector apparently hell-bent on destruction is unforgivable.

Thus, the idea of the ‘summer of rage’ may not be as far-fetched as it first appears.

Superintendent Hartshorn talks of the banks, particularly those that still pay large bonuses despite receiving billions in taxpayer money, becoming ‘viable targets’. Likewise, the headquarters of multinational companies and other financial institutions in the City which are being blamed for the financial crisis.

It is to their eternal shame that our banks should find themselves in such a position, and that Labour – while eroding the civil liberties Britain has fought so hard to defend over the centuries – was prepared to sit back and allow it to happen.

News From England, Test Lab For Global Police State

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It is time to resist

David Omand’s national security strategy report shows us we have a very short time to save society from tyranny

“Once an individual has been assigned a unique index number, it is possible to accurately retrieve data across numerous databases and build a picture of that individual’s life that was not authorised in the original consent for data collection,” says Sir David Omand in a report for the Institute for Public Policy research.

This is not some wild fantasy. It is the world that we are about to move into and which Jack Straw’s coroners and justice bill, the ID Cards Act, RIPA laws and the EBorders scheme have patiently constructed while we have been living in an idiots’ paradise of easy money.

We have a choice: either we can believe that the British state is peculiarly immune to tyrannical instincts that are beginning to show in this government or we can now start to oppose what is going on. We have a very short time to save our society from this nightmare, as has been made clear by Sir Ken Macdonald, the former DPP, Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, and the House of Lord constitutional committee.

Omand is not the first civil servant to describe this world to us. In 2006 Sir David Varney, the head of Transformational Government predicted that the state would know “a deep truth about the citizen based on their behaviour, experience, beliefs, needs or desires”. The report from the IPPR merely fills in the gaps of this statement and shows us how it will be done.

Omand is a “securicrat” par excellence. He is the former intelligence and security adviser to Tony Blair; he speaks from the heart of the surveillance bureaucracy; and his views are those of GCHQ, which has lobbied for the measures in the coroners and justice bill. His paper is presented by some as a warning – which it is to all of us – but having met the man and debated him, I am pretty sure that this represents his heart’s desire. Either way, the important point is that we now have a very clear picture of what is about to happen, and it is for us to respond by fashioning a society where the powers that technology grants our rulers are controlled.

You may wonder why parliament has not alerted us to these dangers. That is because it is because part of the project, and Labour ministers continue to shelter behind the Human Rights Act, which offers no protection to the British public whatsoever. What we need is entrenched legislation that controls the executive and makes sure that no British citizen will ever be assigned a number so that the state may conveniently watch his or her every move.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to resist for we cannot rely, as Omand asks us, on the “essential reasonableness of the UK police, security and intelligence agency activity”.

Tomorrow week the Commons committee meets to discuss Jack Straw’s data-sharing proposal in the coroners and justice bill. If this measure goes through we are lost.

California’s Newly Poor Push Social Services to Brink

California’s Newly Poor Push Social Services to Brink

By Vivien Lou Chen

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) — In California’s Contra Costa County, 40,000 families are applying for just 350 affordable-housing vouchers. Church-operated pantries are running out of food. Crisis calls have more than doubled in the city of Antioch, where the Family Stress Center occupies the site of a former bank.

The worst financial crisis in seven decades is forcing thousands of previously middle-income workers to seek social services, overwhelming local agencies, clinics and nonprofits. Each month 16,000 people, including many who were making $60,000 to $100,000 annually just a few years ago, fill four county offices requesting financial, medical or food assistance.

“Unless we do things differently, not only will we continue to be on life support, but the power to the machine is going to die,” said county Supervisor Federal Glover, who represents Antioch and the cities of Pittsburg and Oakley about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of San Francisco.

Contra Costa, an East Bay suburban region of more than 1 million, turned thousands of farmland acres into housing in the past two decades, becoming an affordable alternative to San Francisco. Now, the area is being hit by a double whammy, as rising unemployment increases demand for social services, while plunging home values shrink tax revenue and squeeze agency budgets.

County officials made $90 million in cuts during the current fiscal year, and plan to reduce another $56 million, out of a $1.2 billion general-fund budget, in the coming year. County administrator David Twa said he doesn’t expect to see a “gradual recovery” in property taxes until 2012 or 2013.

Safety Net

The social safety net is being stretched “all over the country,” said Jacqueline Byers, research director for the National Association of Counties in Washington. “The formerly middle class who lost jobs, homes, or both suddenly are requesting assistance for the first time.”

Nationwide, demand for food stamps, one of the first benefits that new applicants for services qualify for, has mushroomed since the recession began in December 2007. About 31.1 million people received food stamps in November, an increase of 13 percent from the end of 2007, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department, which administers the program.

A record 5.11 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits in the week ended Feb. 14. The jobless rate in Contra Costa, currently at 9.3 percent compared with a U.S. rate of 7.6 percent, is likely to reach as high as 12 percent, Twa said. Among local employers that have cut jobs or forced workers to take unpaid leave are USS-Posco Industries, a joint venture of U.S. Steel Corp. and Posco of South Korea, and newspaper publisher MediaNews Group Inc.

“We are in a critical situation and it’s not likely to get better over the next several years,” Twa said.

Therapy for Staff

Lines snake out the door of Contra Costa County’s employment and human services office in Antioch. At the Richmond office, the applicants’ stories of foreclosures and repossessed cars are “weighing” on staffers, who are offered therapy, said division manager Renee Giometti.

“People are physically going through a slow death,” said Karen Stewart, an area real-estate agent who earned about $80,000 a year just three years ago and is now down to her last $700. “You don’t have any support and the support systems that were in place before aren’t in place anymore.”

Recently separated, Stewart, 45, said she has been without a steady income since 2006 and is living on a county-issued food- debit card. The five-bedroom house in Brentwood she and her husband had purchased for $500,000 went into foreclosure in January. She said she hasn’t ruled out moving into her Lexus sedan and sending her 12-year-old son to live with a relative on the East Coast.

‘On the Edge’

Shelley Bowen, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom from Antioch, said she and her husband Jason are “teetering on the edge,” as they face slowing sales of his art work and a $2,500 monthly mortgage that will go up by $1,000 in April.

Even though Jason makes $90,000 to $95,000 a year as an oil painter and instructor, “we’re kind of holding our breath, hoping nothing else happens,” Bowen said. If necessary, the couple would turn to family and friends, then church-welfare services and government assistance, she said.

“It’s a combination of a housing crisis and unemployment crisis like we’ve never seen before,” said Antioch realtor Kay Trail, a former city-planning commissioner. “Instead of being a bedroom community where people could live a certain lifestyle for an affordable price, now there’s quiet dread.”

Homeowners Default

The county’s median house price has plummeted 53 percent to $220,000 from $463,000 in a year, according to MDA Dataquick in San Diego. In the fourth quarter, 3,135 notices of default representing the first stage of foreclosure were filed against county homeowners, the firm said. That’s more than 10 times the number in San Francisco.

In Antioch’s old-town district, the Peacock Expressions art gallery, More to Love clothing store, and Rivertown Cafe are gone, replaced by empty storefronts.

About five miles away, signs reading “bank-owned home” are scattered throughout neighborhoods. Single-family properties built by KB Home are offered for less than $300,000. At the County East Mall, TJX Cos.’ Marshalls and Gottschalks Inc. stores were almost empty.

The county’s Housing Authority has a five-year wait for affordable-housing vouchers, said executive director Joseph Villarreal. Requests for homeless assistance statewide were up 26 percent in September over a year earlier, according to the California State Association of Counties in Sacramento.

Suicide Threats

“There’s always a level of desperation” in applicants, Villarreal said. “But the degree and depth of it now I’ve never seen: I’m not used to getting calls from clients saying they’ll kill themselves if they don’t get on the wait list.”

California’s 58 counties are $1 billion short of the amount needed to administer social-service programs in the current fiscal year that ends in June, said Paul McIntosh, executive director of the statewide group of counties. The local-government crisis was aggravated by state Controller John Chiang’s move earlier this month to start delaying almost $270 million in payments to counties for social services.

Neither the California legislature’s new budget package approved on Feb. 19 nor President Barack Obama’s $787 billion federal stimulus plan signed into law two days earlier will be enough to completely or immediately help counties, said McIntosh and Glover. Counties will still fall short of what they need even if Chiang releases previously withheld funds, they said.

“Contra Costa is near the front of the pack” among counties with the deepest financial woes, McIntosh said. “But the pack is tightly bunched and all headed in the same direction: off a cliff.”

Dostoevsky & The Jewish Bankers

Dostoevsky & The Jewish Bankers

Dostoevsky & The Jewish Bankers

DOSTOEVSKY & THE JEWISH BANKERS
By Brother Nathanael Kapner, Copyright 2009


FEODOR DOSTOEVSKY LEFT US A “PROPHECY” of the threat to Christian civilization by emancipated Jewry.

In his book, Diary Of A Writer, published in 1877, Dostoevsky penned a journal entry, entitled, The Jewish Question. With alarming and frightening foresight, (by which he penetrated into today’s events), Dostoevsky predicted a growing domination over social and political affairs by the Jews with their newly acquired rights:

“The Jews look forward to world domination. This requires them to maintain their own close-knit identity. If the Jews are given equal legal rights in Russia, but are allowed to keep their ‘State within a State,’ they would be more privileged than the Russians. The consequences of this situation are already clear in Europe.” View Entire Article Here.

Expressing his concern regarding Jewry’s agenda for world domination, Dostoevsky demonstrated how Jewish bankers had taken over Europe by the mid 1800’s:

“It is not for nothing that everywhere in Europe the Jews are reigning over the stock exchanges, not for nothing that they control capital, not for nothing that they are masters of credit, and not for nothing, I repeat, that they are the masters of all international politics.

What is coming is the complete triumph of Jewish ideas, before which, sentiments of humanity, the thirst for truth, Christian feelings, and the national and popular pride of Europe must bow.

And what will be in the future is known also to the Jews themselves: Their reign is approaching, their complete reign!” View Entire Article Here.

IN LIGHT OF JEWRY’S CONTROL of Europe’s financial & social sphere, Dostoevsky then voiced his fears regarding Jewry’s threat to Russia:

“What if there were only three million Russians and there were eighty million Jews? How would they treat Russians and how would they lord it over them? What rights would Jews give Russians?

Wouldn’t they turn them into slaves? Worse then that, wouldn’t they skin them altogether? Wouldn’t they slaughter them to the last man, to the point of complete extermination?” View Entire Article Here.

DOSTOEVSKY BROUGHT HIS PROPHECY to a head by predicting that Jewry’s religious dictates, coupled with the control of the “Yid and his bank,” would bring the Gentiles into complete subjugation:

“It is impossible to conceive of a Jew apart from his religion. They are all waiting for their messiah, all of them, from the lowest Yid to the highest and most learned philosopher and rabbi-Kabalist. They all believe that their messiah will unite them in Jerusalem and bring by his sword, all nations to their feet.

The Yid and his bank are now ruling over everything: over Europe, education, civilization, socialism, especially socialism, for he will use it to uproot Christianity and destroy its civilization. And when only anarchy remains, the Yid will be in command of everything.

For while the Jew goes about preaching socialism, he will stick together with his own, and after all the riches of Europe have been wasted, the Yid’s bank will still be there.” View Entire Quote Here & Here.

Scary, Isn’t it? And, Very Much Up To Date Is It Not?
… Brother Nathanael Kapner, A Former Jew, Reporting …

___________________________________

For More See: Jewry’s Scheme For World Domination Click Here

And: The ‘Jewish Question’ Now A Global Issue Click Here

And: Federal Reserve: A Private Jew Bank Strangling America! Click Here

And: Putin’s Purge Of The Rothschild Money Changers Click Here

And: Solzhenitsyn & The Jews Click Here

Taliban call for peace with Afghans

Taliban call for peace with Afghans

Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters

U.S. soldiers with Alpha Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment walk in a line during a patrol at Mullagora village, close to the border with Pakistan in Kunar Province, Afghanistn, Feb. 24, 2009.Oleg Popov/ReutersU.S. soldiers with Alpha Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment walk in a line during a patrol at Mullagora village, close to the border with Pakistan in Kunar Province, Afghanistn, Feb. 24, 2009.

KABUL — The Taliban are willing to work with all Afghan groups to achieve peace, but the problems of Afghanistan can only be solved if foreign troops withdraw from the country, a senior insurgent leader said.

The Taliban have made a strong come-back in the last three years, extending the scale and scope of their insurgency across the south and east and up to the fringes of the Afghan capital.

U.S. officials admit they are not winning the war but, they say, neither are the Taliban. A stalemate has been reached with insurgents unable to overcome NATO’s military might and foreign troops unable to stop Taliban roadside and suicide bombs.

Repeated calls from Afghan President Hamid Karzai for talks with the Taliban have been rejected by the militants, but the statement from the senior Taliban commander signals a slightly softer stance towards the government while maintaining the customary hard line against the international troop presence.

“We would like to take an Afghan strategy that is shared and large-scale, in consultation with all the Afghan groups, to reach positive and fruitful results,” Mullah Mutassim, a former Taliban finance minister and member of the group’s political council, told al-Samoud magazine in an interview conducted on Feb. 25.

But, he said, the United States “has to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible, because the real starter of crises and complication of matters is the presence of foreign forces in the country.

“If these forces leave, the problem will be over, the question will be finished, and peace will prevail,” he was quoted as saying in the interview translated by the U.S.-based Site Intelligence Group which monitors jihadi web sites.

Mutassim is regarded as close to fugitive Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The United States has some 38,000 troops in Afghanistan alongside some 30,000 troops from 40 other mostly NATO nations.

President Barack Obama last week ordered another 17,000 U.S. troops deployed to try to break the stalemate and has pledged a new strategy in Afghanistan to increase development and at the same time ease regional tensions that contribute to the war.

Mutassim said the armed struggle was the only way to drive out foreign forces and if the United States sent more troops to Afghanistan that would just lead to more soldiers being killed.

“Obama’s taking this unreasonable strategy indicates the plan of his bloody and fierce war strategy which will cause the death of many of his arrogant troops in the face of the holy Afghan jihad,” he said.

Despite his harsh words for the West, Mutassim only had praise for the government of Saudi Arabia which is often scorned by hardline Islamists for its close ties with the United States.

Saudi Arabia, one of only three states to recognise the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, has hosted tentative talks between former Taliban and Afghan government officials aimed at exploring ways toward peace.

But, Mutassim said, the Taliban were not for a share in power.

“The Islamic Emirate demands to rule the country so as to establish an … Islamic system in it, not in order to occupy high positions in the agent government,” he said.

Mutassim denied the austere Islamists movement had been against women’s education while they were in power, but said the ravages of war had not allowed girls to be schooled.

“I say that educating women is as necessary as educating men,” he said.

The Taliban have eased a number of their hard line edicts against such things as television and music in the areas they control making them, Mutassim said, more popular now than when they were in power.

© Thomson Reuters 2009

“For This I Blame America”

“For This I Blame America”

Afghanistan: Chaos Central

By Chris Sands

February 26,2009 “Counterpunch” — As the summer of 2005 began its slow fade into autumn, a piece of newspaper wrapped around a kebab said Osama bin Laden had moved to Iraq. It seemed everyone had forgotten there was a war on here. American soldiers used those remaining days of sunshine to buy carpets in Kabul’s Chicken Street bazaar, not caring when they were charged over the odds. Elsewhere, mercenaries downed cheap Russian vodka in phoney restaurants before wandering up a few stairs to sleep with Chinese prostitutes whose pimps bribed local government officials. The brothels were often in the same neighborhoods as the mansions that militia commanders were building themselves with CIA funds and drug money.

Back then, this beautiful city was the ideal place for a bit of post-conflict profiteering. Hastily-created NGOs continued to flood in, eager for a slice of the action. So did journalists determined to write about democracy, the suave English-speaking president and the local golf course. It was the calm before the storm. Victory had been declared and, while Afghans were starting to feel the weight of its baggage, the rest of the world was still having fun at their expense.

But the decadence and ignorance were never going to be allowed to last for long, and the Taliban knew their time was coming again. The warning signs were around for anyone who cared to look.

I’d been in Afghanistan less than a week when aid groups revealed that deteriorating security had put their projects under threat. They feared they had become targets for the insurgency. A little while afterwards, the governor of Maidan Wardak, a province bordering Kabul, told me all was okay there. Then the PR finished and he cut loose. A new generation of militants had shown its face, he said. They were young men disillusioned with the occupation and some were trained in Pakistan. Trouble was also evident near the eastern city of Jalalabad, where a villager complained that his cousin had vanished since being arrested by the Americans roughly three years earlier. We talked in a dirt yard full of kids and I think they were the only ones who expected his return.

The south, though, was where the pieces of the jigsaw began to fit together. Kandahar is the spiritual heartland of the Taliban and in late 2005 the movement was again drawing strength from its birthplace. There, for the first time, I caught sight of a reality our politicians had made us believe did not exist.

A man working at the football stadium reminisced fondly about the old days when executions happened on the pitch. If capital punishment was still common, he said, the new government wouldn’t be so crooked. This was something I would hear repeatedly, until eventually it was said by Afghans across the country. The police were the worst offenders, looking for bribes at every opportunity to supplement their low wages. Another Kandahari had joined the Taliban as a teenager in the 1990s. “At that time we were very happy,” he said. “It was like we were very poor and had suddenly found a lot of money.” Talibs are good people and they can never be beaten, he continued. Now they have no choice but to fight because otherwise the Americans will send them to Guantanamo Bay. Most importantly for the future, he revealed that a number of local religious clerics had just declared a jihad.

Insurgent attacks and violent crime were already a problem in Kandahar by then. It was like “living under a knife” said a 53-year-old in the city. Yet even as civilians died, the Taliban were rarely the subject of people’s fury. Directly or indirectly, they blamed the government and its allies.

Taliban on the Rise

In the spring of 2006 Kabul’s imams decided to speak out against all this and more. Officials were lining their own pockets and alcohol was easily available, they said. They were also angry at the house raids conducted by foreign soldiers in rural areas and accused them of molesting women during the searches. Most said the time for jihad was approaching and one announced that armed resistance was now the answer.

So when rioters tore through the capital on  May 29, it was no big surprise. The spark for that particular day of unrest was a fatal traffic accident involving US troops, but the explosion had been primed long before. Protesters shouted “Death to America” and by the end of the anarchy at least 17 people had lost their lives. The situation was now ripe for the Taliban to harness national discontent and kick-start a major revolt, and this is exactly what they did.

When British troops had first arrived in Helmand that February, they had come ostensibly to allow reconstruction. The then defense minister John Reid said he would be “perfectly happy” if they did not have to fire a single shot. Instead, they soon found themselves bogged down in some of their worst fighting since the Second World War, at times being drawn into hand-to-hand combat. Over 100 have died in the ensuing years.

The Taliban’s remit also grew stronger in areas close to Kabul and two hours from the capital people were warning that the government might collapse. I couldn’t find anyone in Ghazni who admitted to taking the insurgents’ side: they usually said poverty and a lack of reconstruction were causing people to rebel. Looking at the broken roads and crumbling homes, it wasn’t hard to understand what they meant.

Not long before, police in one of the province’s districts had tried to stop the Taliban’s favorite mode of transport by banning the use of motorbikes. The militants responded by imposing travel restrictions on the whole of that area’s population. At night they would go to mosques and tell worshippers not to drive to the provincial capital. “They say ‘if you don’t cooperate with us we will kill you’,” was how one man described their tactics. “What would be the natural human response to that? Of course you will cooperate.”

An emerging pattern

A pattern was emerging. The more the Taliban turned to violence, the more they came to be regarded as an omnipresent force that could not be stopped. The bloodshed made people long for the stability of the old regime, if not its repressive laws. Villagers across the south and east had gained almost nothing from the US-led invasion and, in fact, many had lost the little they previously had: good security. Among people in Logar, another of those sad provinces bordering Kabul, the anger was palpable. “Our biggest problem is with the foreigners – we just hate them. Our families, our children, our women – everyone hates them,” said an elder. “Let’s pretend I’m a young man,” said someone else. “I have graduated from school but I can’t go to university and there is no factory to work in. So how can I feed myself? I can just join the insurgents – it’s easy.”

The Taliban first rose up in 1994 when Afghanistan was controlled by warlords still high from the CIA support they had been receiving a few years earlier. A similar thing was happening again and the movement’s original members were quick to see that.

Mullah Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil lost his father during the Soviet occupation and joined the Taliban, he said, “to give the country freedom”. He went on to become Mullah Omar’s spokesman and later his foreign minister. We talked on a freezing January morning in 2007 when Mutawakil was being kept under watch in Kabul. He knew his government had made mistakes, particularly in letting jihadis from across the world train and fight here. But he was adamant that the international community’s decision to isolate the regime had only made it more extreme. “The interesting thing from that time, and lots of people are remembering this now, is the tight security,” he said.

Kandahar was frightening that spring of 2007. The police were accused of carrying out kidnappings and robberies, and the scars of suicide bombings pockmarked the streets. There was a lot of anger, despair and black humor around. Residents expressed a grudging admiration for the old ways of the Taliban simply because the alternatives had come to appear so dire. To them, democracy meant virtual anarchy and, in the villages, a brutal occupation. “If I sit at a table with an American and he says he has brought us freedom, I will tell him he has fucked us,” said a father-of-two. He had fled Kandahar during the Taliban government because he was against its restrictions on education. “But I was never worried about my family,” he added. “Every single minute of the last three years I have been very worried.”
Comments like this came thick and fast, mixed in with jokes. Some of the men insulted the president, Hamid Karzai, and his wife, laughing and swearing as they did so. A woman I met was sure the city had been better under the Taliban. “If we did not have a full stomach we could at least get some food and go to sleep,” she said.

Slipping into Chaos

On and on it went, a litany of complaints and stories that portrayed a nation slipping deep into chaos. A religious leader from the district of Panjwayi described how 18 of his relatives had been killed in an air strike. Then three Talibs from Helmand defended the insurgency as being a natural reaction to events. Basically, they felt they had nothing to lose.

Reports of civilians getting bombed from above came regular as clockwork that spring and summer. First some villagers or local officials would say innocent people were dead and the Nato or US-led coalition would deny it. Then all parties would agree civilian blood had been spilt, but argue over casualty figures. Hamid Karzai kept demanding that the carnage stop, but it never did.

In Kabul, a senator from Helmand said it was killing the entire country. He was among members of parliament’s upper chamber who had called for a ceasefire and negotiations with insurgent groups. They had also said a date should be set for the withdrawal of foreign forces. By then the parliament, supposedly the shining light of a new democracy, was actually a symbol of the Taliban’s resurgence. Police in riot gear stood watch and the building was falling to pieces, with paint flaking away and the walls starting to crack. Not only was there sympathy for the militants inside, there were also men whose viciousness had caused the movement to form in the first place. Most Afghans wanted the warlords brought to justice, but instead the international community had let them stand for election, and here they were showing off their power yet again.

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef knew the impact that was having. He used to serve as the Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan and, after initially being sent to Guantanamo, he was another of the old guard now living under constant surveillance in Kabul. He refused to talk about his stint in US custody, but he was quick to highlight that men with blood on their hands were now the West’s great hope. “At the time of the Taliban if someone killed another person it was possible to capture him, send him to court, punish him and execute him. Today, if someone goes to a village and kills 100 people, tomorrow he is given more privileges by the government,” he told me. “The Americans and the world community brought the warlords to power. They are supporting them for their benefit against the Taliban, but they know these people are not liked.”

By summer 2007 the horror could not be ignored, even in Kabul. Suicide bombings were the main weapon of choice and they struck fear into Afghans like nothing else, having been unheard of during the Soviet occupation.

For all their rhetoric about fighting for freedom, justice and the Almighty, it was also obvious that some in the Taliban were willing to murder anyone to achieve their aim.

This was clear in the pieces of charred flesh and hair that lay scattered in the dust after a bus was blown up near a police headquarters in the city on  June 17. And it was evident amidst the smell of shit that filled Pul-e-Charkhi jail, where a prisoner was quick to declare his intentions. “I tell you, when I get out of here the first thing I will do is kill journalists and infidels,” he said. “I will kill journalists because they are all spies.”

‘For this I blame America’

As 2007 drew to an end, men who hated the Taliban were starting to resemble them. A former Northern Alliance commander from the province of Badakhshan summed it up nicely: “Now when any foreigner is killed every Afghan says ‘praise be to God’,” he told me. We were chatting at his home in an area of Kabul where the poor had been forced out so warlords and foreign contractors could move in. He owned a small house and, in front of that, a half-built mansion that he could not afford to finish off. Possibly, the only optimists left were the American ambassador and the locals who had the money to take long holidays in Dubai.

Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu community had been about 50,000 strong before 1992. Now it was down to 5,000. The exodus had been instigated by the Mujahideen, not the Taliban. With the same old faces back in power again, no one was happy. “The Taliban told us we had to do all our religious ceremonies in private, but they did not stop us from doing them. It was a government that was not recognised by the world, but it was better than now,” said a Sikh.

Even the section of society that should have benefited most from the US-led invasion was full of sorrow. Female MPs told me they felt ashamed for not being able to help their constituents. One said she was sure the time was approaching when she would be a prisoner in her own home again. “For all this I blame America. When the Russians were here the people picked up guns to fight them. Now people are picking up guns to fight the Americans,” she said. “Soon my daughter will finish school and then she wants to start private education,” said another. “But I cannot let her because I cannot give her a bodyguard.”

‘Everything is screwed up’

In January 2008 the streets were a bleak monochrome and the graveyards that dominate Kabul’s landscape gave me a glimpse of the future. I interviewed a judge at the Supreme Court who admitted what everyone already knew: certain people here are above the law. He was too scared to name names, but he described the control warlords have over his colleagues as “totally ordinary”. Barely had he spoken and the Taliban attacked a luxury hotel in the city. Foreigners were shocked. Afghans just shrugged.

Kandahar was so bad I felt sick before returning there in early spring. Luckily, a friend of mine reassured me that, as a Pashtun, he would offer unconditional protection. “Mullah Omar destroyed Afghanistan because of Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t give him up,” he said. A day later a Taliban commander from Helmand described how the resistance had struggled to find support in the early years. But after innocent people had been detained or killed the jihad had burst into life. Now even the Afghan army secretly gave them bullets and treated their wounded.

The story of the insurgency, though, no longer needed a great deal of travelling. In April I took the short drive from Kabul city to Paghman and all I found where the offices of Zafar Radio used to be was a pile of burnt trash. Masked men had torched the premises for being “un-Islamic”.

In the summer, it got worse. I met an Afghan American who said that “everything is screwed up”. Then on  July 7, a car bomber attacked the Indian embassy. The huge explosion left corpses scattered around and the wounded dazed and bloodied. By the next morning people were venting their anger at the government, saying it was unable to provide security. When Barack Obama arrived during his presidential campaign, optimism was hard to find. In an area of the capital where Hamid Karzai had narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the spring, a qualified doctor sold samosas from a roadside stall because it was the only job he could get. “The politics will not change,” he said.
2008 was the grimmest year since the invasion. On the seventh anniversary of 9/11, the annual death toll for US troops here had reached new heights: the 113 killed up to September were two more than for the whole of 2007.

Civilians are paying a heavier price. Caught between a rapidly developing insurgency and an occupation force over-reliant on air strikes, they are dropping like flies: according to the UN, 1,445 were killed from January to August 2008 alone.

The Taliban’s strength is growing on Kabul’s doorstep, in the provinces of Maidan Wardak and Logar. The main highway south is a turkey shoot that no one sensible travels along. In the east of the country, the rebels have taken new ground as they move freely across the border. In the north, warlords are reasserting their dominance – raping and beheading at will. The violence affects us all. Kabul is a claustrophobic, paranoid place. Rockets occasionally land in the streets, ugly concrete barriers have appeared and Afghans kidnap each other for ransom. Last autumn, on a bright October morning, a British aid worker was murdered in a part of the city regarded as safe.

More foreign troops are due to be sent. But they risk the kind of backlash experienced by the Soviets, and the long-term aim is unclear. After all these years, there are no firm ideas about the way forward. For now the bitter cold has brought the usual lull. But how much more violence will come this spring?

Chris Sands is a British freelance journalist, and frequent contributor to CounterPunch, who has been working independently in Afghanistan since August 2005. This article appears in the February edition of this excellent monthly, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.

Hepatitis Plight of India’s Untouchables?

10,000 kg of used syringe seized, 15 docs booked

Gaza: Death`s Laboratory

Gaza: Death`s Laboratory

By Conn Hallinan
Feb 27, 2009, 04:03

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Erik Fosse, a Norwegian cardiologist, worked in Gaza hospitals during the recent war.`It was as if they had stepped on a mine,` he says of certain Palestinian patients he treated. `But there was no shrapnel in the wound. Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before.`

Dr. Fosse was describing the effects of a U.S. `focused lethality` weapon that minimizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims. But where did the Israelis get this weapon? And was their widespread use in the attack on Gaza a field test for a new generation of explosives?

DIMEd to Death

The specific weapon is called a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME). In 2000, the U.S. Air Force teamed up with the University of California`s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The weapon wraps high explosives with a tungsten alloy and other metals like cobalt, nickel, or iron in a carbon fiber/epoxy container. When the bomb explodes the container evaporates, and the tungsten turns into micro-shrapnel that is extremely lethal within a 13–foot radius. Tungsten is inert, so it doesn`t react chemically with the explosive. While a non-inert metal like aluminum would increase the blast, tungsten actually contains the explosion to a limited area.

Within the weapon`s range, however, it`s inordinately lethal. According to Norwegian doctor Mad Gilbert, the blast results in multiple amputations and `very severe fractures. The muscles are sort of split from the bones, hanging loose, and you also have quite severe burns.` Most of those who survive the initial blast quickly succumb to septicemia and organ collapse. `Initially, everything seems in order…but it turns out on operation that dozens of miniature particles can be found in all their organs,` says Dr. Jam Brommundt, a German doctor working in Kham Younis, a city in southern Gaza. `It seems to be some sort of explosive or shell that disperses tiny particles…that penetrate all organs, these miniature injuries, you are not able to attack them surgically.` According to Brommundt, the particles cause multiple organ failures.

If by some miracle victims resist those conditions, they are almost certain to develop rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a particularly deadly cancer that deeply embeds itself into tissue and is almost impossible to treat. A 2005 U.S. Department of health study found that tungsten stimulated RMS cancers even in very low doses. All of the 92 rats tested developed the cancer.

While DIMEs were originally designed to avoid `collateral` damage generated by standard high-explosive bombs, the weapon`s lethality and profound long-term toxicity hardly seem like an improvement.

It appears DIME weapons may have been used in the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, but not enough to alarm medical workers. But in Gaza, the ordinance was widely used. Al-Shifta alone has seen 100 to 150 victims of these attacks.
Gaza as Test

Dr. Gilbert told the Oslo Gardermoen, `there is a strong suspicion…that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons.`

Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch`s senior military advisor, says `it remains to be seen how Israel has acquired the technology, whether they purchased weapons from the United States under some agreement, or if they in fact licensed or developed their own type of munitions.`

In fact, Congress approved the $77 million sale of 1,000 GBU-39s to Israel in September 2008, and the weapons were delivered in December. Israel was the first foreign recipient of the DIMES.

DIME weapons aren`t banned under the Geneva Conventions because they have never been officially tested. However, any weapon capable of inflicting such horrendous damage is normally barred from use, particularly in one of the most densely populated regions in the world.

For one thing, no one knows how long the tungsten remains in the environment or how it could affect people who return to homes attacked by a DIME. University of Arizona cancer researcher Dr. Mark Witten, who investigates links between tungsten and leukemia, says that in his opinion `there needs to be much more research on the health effects of tungsten before the military increases its usage.`
Beyond DIMEs

DIMEs weren`t the only controversial weapons used in Gaza. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) also made generous use of white phosphorus, a chemical that burns with intense heat and inflicts terrible burns on victims. In its vapor form it also damages breathing passages. International law prohibits the weapon`s use near population areas and requires that `all reasonable precautions` be taken to avoid civilians.

Israel initially denied using the chemical. `The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus,` said Israel`s Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on January 13.

But eyewitness accounts in Gaza and Israel soon forced the IDF to admit that they were, indeed, using the substance. On January 20, the IDF confessed to using phosphorus artillery shells as smokescreens, as well as 200 U.S.-made M825A1 phosphorus mortar shells on `Hamas fighters and rocket launching crews in northern Gaza.`

Three of those shells hit the UN Works and Relief Agency compound on January 15, igniting a fire that destroyed hundreds of tons of humanitarian supplies. A phosphorus shell also hit Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City. The Israelis say there were Hamas fighters near the two targets, a charge that witnesses adamantly deny.

Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International said: `Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza`s densely-populated residential neighborhoods…and its toll on civilians is a war crime.`

Israel is also accused of using depleted uranium ammunition (DUA), which a UN sub-commission in 2002 found in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention Against Torture, the Conventional Weapons Convention, and the Hague Conventions against the use of poison weapons.

DUA isn`t highly radioactive, but after exploding, some of it turns into a gas that can easily be inhaled. The dense shrapnel that survives also tends to bury itself deeply, leaching low-level radioactivity into water-tables.
War Crimes?

Other human-rights groups, including B`Tselem, Gisha, and Physicians for Human Rights, charge that the IDF intentionally targeted medical personal, killing over a dozen, including paramedics and ambulance drivers.

The International Federation for Human Rights called on the UN Security Council to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes.

Although the Israelis dismiss the war-crimes charges, the fact that the Israeli cabinet held a special meeting on January 25 to discuss the issue suggests they`re concerned about being charged with `disproportionate` use of force. The Geneva Conventions require belligerents to at `all times` distinguish between combatants and civilians and to avoid `disproportionate force` in seeking military gains.

Hamas` use of unguided missiles fired at Israel would also be a war crime under the Conventions.

`The one-sidedness of casualty figures is one measure of disproportion,` says Richard Falk, the UN`s human rights envoy for the occupied territories. A total of 14 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, three of them civilians killed by rockets, 11 of them soldiers, four of the latter by `friendly fire.` Some 50 IDF soldiers were also wounded.

In contrast, 1,330 Palestinians have died and 5,450 were injured, the overwhelming bulk of them civilians.

`This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare, which we ask to be investigated by the Commission of War Crimes,` a coalition of Israeli human rights groups and Amnesty International said in a joint statement. `The responsibility of the state of Israel is beyond doubt.`
Enter the Hague?

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann would coordinate the defense of any soldier or commander charged with a war crime. In any case, the United States would veto any effort by the UN Security Council to refer Israelis to the International Court at The Hague.

But, as the Financial Times points out, `all countries have an obligation to search out those accused of `grave` breaches of the rules of war and to put them on trial or extradite them to a country that will.`

That was the basis under which the British police arrested Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

`We`re in a seismic shift in international law,` Amnesty International legal advisor Christopher Hall told the Financial Times, who says Israel`s foreign ministry is already examining the risk to Israelis who travel abroad.

`It`s like walking across the street against a red light,` he says. `The risk may be low, but you`re going to think twice before committing a crime or traveling if you have committed one.`

Conn Hallinan is a Foreign Policy In Focus columnist.

http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5862

A people abandoned

A people abandoned

By Serge Halimi
Feb 27, 2009, 04:07

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By 14 January Israeli troops had killed more than a thousand Palestinians confined to a narrow strip of land and subjected to land, sea and air bombardment by one of the most formidable armies in the world. A Palestinian school converted into a United Nations refuge had been bombed (1), a resolution – issued by the only organisation that really represents the “international community” people are so fond of talking about – had called in vain for a halt to the military operations in Gaza. So, on 14 January, the European Union showed just how firmly it was prepared to react to this mixed display of violence and arrogance. It decided to suspend the process of rapprochement with Israel! But to lessen the impact of what might, even so, have been seen as gentle reproach to Tel Aviv, it explained that this was a “technical”measure, not a “political”one. And that the decision was taken by “both parties”.

Israel is free to do as it likes. Its army had already destroyed most of the Palestinian infrastructure funded by the EU and there had been little or no reaction, no legal action, no call for reparations (2). It then imposed a blockade on people already living in poverty, with no water, food or medical supplies. Still no response, only endless admonitions and a general refusal to become involved in the argument, on the pretext that violence of the strong is not always accompanied by submission of the weak. So why should Israel suppose that it cannot continue to act with impunity?

Twenty years ago, the Jewish state took the precaution of encouraging the rise of Hamas against the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Hamas was a dream adversary, with a medieval charter, doubtful military potential and no inclination to “communicate” with western public opinion. Having no “partner for peace”is a perfect excuse to bomb and colonise ad lib. But even now, there are still newspaper editors in Europe complaining that Israel one day lose the moral high ground” (3).

The United States too has nothing against the Tel Aviv government’s plans. On 9 January, the House of Representatives passed a resolution recognising Israel’s “right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza”. A few hours earlier the Senate had “reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas”. Perhaps with the idea of striking some sort of “balance”, the House of Representatives resolution also expresses to innocent Israeli and Palestinian victims and their families”. That resolution was adopted by 390 votes to five. The Senate resolution was adopted unanimously. The US executive also held firm: a few hours after announcing a unilateral ceasefire, Ehud Olmert rang the US president to thank him for his support. Support also includes non-refundable aid amounting to $3 billion a year, which no-one including Obama has thought of questioning.

With this sort of backing, the main Israeli parties’ aim seems to be clear: to destroy any prospect of achieving the internationally recognised aim of establishing a genuine Palestinian state. The West Bank will continue to be an amorphous collection of homelands, criss-crossed with walls and roadblocks, dotted with settlements, and drip-fed by the European Union. And Gaza will be bombed whenever its neighbour has a mind to unleash a disproportionate “response” to rocket or other attacks. In fact, after 60 years of defeat, humiliation, exile, violation of signed agreements, colonisation and internecine feuding, after governments all over the world have abandoned them to their fate and allowed international law, including international humanitarian law, to be ridden over roughshod, it is nothing short of a miracle that the Palestinians are still determined to assert their national identity in real terms.

If they succeed, it will not be thanks to the Europeans, or to the Americans or to most Arab states. In Gaza, these powers have all conspired once again in the interminable spoliation of a nation.

http://mondediplo.com/2009/02/01abandoned

Fueling the Cycle of Hate

Fueling the Cycle of Hate

By YIGAL BRONNER and NEVE GORDON
Feb 27, 2009, 04:13

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Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: `Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?` sang the crowd. `Because all the children were gunned down!` came the answer.

Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that Israel scored an impressive victory in Gaza – a victory measured, not least, by the death toll.

Israeli pilots and tank commanders could not really discriminate between the adults and the children who hid in their homes or huddled in the UNRWA shelters, and yet they chose to press the trigger. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that the lethal onslaught left 1,314 Palestinians dead, of which 412 – or nearly one third of all of the casualties – were children.

This latest assault underscores that Israel, not unlike Hamas, readily resorts to violence and does not distinguish between civilians and combatants (only the weapons at Israel`s disposal are much more lethal). No matter how many times the Israeli government tries to blame Hamas for the latest Palestinian civilian deaths it simply cannot explain away the body count, especially that of the children. In addition to the dead, 1,855 Palestinian children were wounded, and tens of thousands of others have likely been traumatised, many of them for life.

Every child has a story. A Bedouin friend recently called to tell us about his relatives in Gaza. One cousin allowed her five-year-old daughter to walk to the adjacent house to see whether the neighbours had something left to eat. The girl had been crying from hunger. The moment she began crossing the street a missile exploded nearby and the flying shrapnel killed her. The mother has since been bedridden, weeping and screaming, `I have let my girl die hungry`.

As if the bloody incursion was not enough, the Israeli security forces seem to be keen on spreading the flames of hatred among the Arab population within Israel. Hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested for protesting at the Israeli assault and more than 200 of them are still in custody. One incident is enough to illustrate the psychological effect these arrests will likely have on hundreds more children.

A few days after the ceasefire, several men wearing black ski masks stormed the home of Muhammad Abu Humus. They came to arrest him for protesting against the killings in Gaza. It was four in the morning and the whole family was asleep when the men banged on the door. After entering the house, they made Abu Humus`s wife Wafa and their four children Erfat (12), Shahd (9), Anas (6) and Majd (3) stand in a corner as they searched the house, throwing all the clothes, sheets, toys, and kitchenware on the floor. With tears in their eyes, the children watched as the armed men then took their father away and left.

Chance would have it that Abu Humus, a long-time peace activist and member of the Fatah party, is a personal friend of ours. In 2001, he joined Ta`ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership, and since then has selflessly organized countless peace rallies and other joint activities. During the past eight years, we have spent many hours at each other`s homes and our children have grown up respecting and liking one other. It is hard to believe that just one month ago he attended the Bar Mitzvah of Yigal`s son in a Jerusalem synagogue.

Muhammad and Wafa Abu Humus have tried over the years to instill in their children a love and desire for peace, and while the security forces may not have destroyed this, the hatred they have generated in one night cannot be underestimated. Indeed, what, one might ask, will his children think of their Jewish neighbours? What feelings will they harbour? And what can we expect from those children in Gaza who have witnessed the killing of their parents, siblings, friends and neighbours?

We emphasize the Palestinian children because so many of them have been killed and terrorized in the past month. Yet it is clear that Israeli children are suffering as well, particularly those who have spent long periods in shelters for fear of being hit by rockets.

The one message that is being conveyed to children on both sides of this fray is that the other side is a bloodthirsty monster. In Israel, this was instantly translated into gains for the hate-mongering Yisrael Beytenu party headed by the xenophobic Avigdor Lieberman, who is now the frontrunner in mock polls being held in many Jewish high schools, with the hawkish Binyamin Netanyahu coming in second.

Hatred, in other words, is the great winner of this war. It has helped mobilise racist mobs, and as the soccer chant indicates it has left absolutely no place for the other, undermining even basic empathy for innocent children. Israel`s masters of war must be happy: the seeds of the next wars have certainly been sown.

Yigal Bronner teaches in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and author of Israel’s Occupation (University of California Press, 2008).

http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon01272009.html

Israel Planning Mass Expansion of W.Bank Settlement Bloc

Israel Planning Mass Expansion of W.Bank Settlement Bloc

Readers Number : 52

27/02/2009 Despite the Israeli formal commitment not to expand West Bank settlements, a government agency has been promoting plans over the past two years to construct thousands of housing units east of the Green Line, Israeli daily Haaretz has reported.

The plans, which have not yet been approved by the Israeli government, were drawn up by the Civil Administration, the government agency responsible for nonmilitary matters in the West Bank. Details of the plans appear in the minutes of the agency’s environmental subcommittee, which were obtained by the B’Tselem organization under the Freedom of Information Act.

The plans propose the initial construction of 550 apartments in Gva’ot, located near Alon Shvut in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, followed by construction of another 4,450 units at a later stage. Rimonim will get another 254 apartments if the plans are approved, and expansion plans are also in the works for Einav and Mevo Dotan. All three of these settlements are east of the separation fence.

Ma’aleh Adumim has included planned construction in the E-1 corridor in its sewage treatment plans. That corridor, which links Ma’aleh Adumim to occupied Jerusalem, is eventually slated to hold some 3,500 apartments.

Nearby Kfar Adumim’s sewage treatment plan predicts that the settlement will double its population “in the coming years,” to 5,600 inhabitants. And in Eshkolot, the Civil Administration instructed the settlement to draw up a sewage plan adequate for a population five times its current one.

A Civil Administration spokesman said that its “environmental subcommittee does not discuss approval for housing units at all, but deals with the professional aspects of the area’s environmental needs, sometimes at the theoretical level.”

Hezbollah Condemns Israeli Offense Against Prophet Mohamad (pbuh)

Hezbollah Condemns Israeli Offense Against Prophet Mohamad (pbuh)

Hussein Assi Readers Number : 631

26/02/2009 … And the Israeli “malice” and “spite” continues, always in its worst forms!

Day after day, the Zionist entity insists on proving to the whole world its proficiency in bad faith and misconduct, uncovering more “vicious surprises.”

Day after day, this same Zionist entity proves to the whole world that it disrespects and undermines all values, beliefs, and convictions in what has become an Israeli “profession” or “expertise” amid suspicious international silence..

Indeed, and only a few days following its condemned and rejected offense against Christianity, Jesus (pbuh) and his mother Mary (pbuh), Israel decided to progress in its war against religions and the Messengers of God…

After Christianity, came the turn of Islam with the same Israeli channel 10 insulting Prophet Mohamad (pbuh)..

HEZBOLLAH CONDEMNS, CALLS FOR ACTION
Hezbollah issued on Thursday a statement in which it vehemently condemned the insult committed by the disgraceful Zionist enemy on Channel 10 against the Prophet Mohamad (pbuh) which comes only days after the same channel’s insult of one of the great Prophets of God, Jesus Christ, the son of pure holy Mary peace be upon them, considered sacred in the Bible and the holy Qura’an, by Muslims, Christians and all believers in God’s messages across the world.

Hezbollah’s statement noted that the enemy’s persistence in its criminal policy through wars and crimes and offending holy sites and icons was another reflection of its malice, hatred and racism. The Resistance party recalled that the Zionist entity was actually built and founded on aggression and assault.

Hezbollah renewed condemnations for all Israeli crimes committed recurrently against religions and called on all concerned parties to immediately take action to prevent this entity from going too far in committing such sins. It called on all human bodies, world governments and leaders to firmly face the non-stop Zionist insults.

More Crap From Zionist-sponsored “Al Qaida” Clearinghouse, Home of Fake Bin Laden Videos

CAN’T CIA/MOSSAD CREATE MORE ORIGINAL FAKE NAMES?

Al-Qaida offshoot claims Algeria attacks

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Al-Qaida’s North African offshoot claimed responsibility Thursday for the killing of nine security guards near an Algerian power facility, as well as eight other deadly attacks this month.

The bombing and mortar attack Monday in the Jijel area 215 miles (350 kilometers) east of Algiers, the capital, targeted the housing compound of security guards working on an electricity dam operated by Sonelgaz, Algeria’s national provider.

Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa said in a statement posted on the Internet that it had killed 10 guards, though authorities have only confirmed nine deaths.

“In its war to exhaust the capabilities of the apostates” the group’s fighters also blew up a train transporting goods to the west of the country, the group claimed in the statement posted on Internet sites frequently used by Islamist militants.

The authenticity of the statement, carried by the U.S.-based SITE intelligence group that monitors extremist messages, could not be independently verified.

Militants claimed eight other attacks this month, including one at a fake checkpoint during which three soldiers were reportedly executed at point blank range and the roadside bombing of a military convoy in a coastal zone west of Algiers.

The group claimed it killed or injured 47 people in the various attacks — significantly more than what authorities have acknowledged or Algerian media reported.

Violence has increased in Algeria after a monthlong lull as the North African country braces for presidential elections in April with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika seeking a third term.

The North African affiliate of al-Qaida is a reborn version of an Islamist insurgency group that was among extremists who battled security forces since 1992. The violence has killed up to an estimated 200,000 people, civilians, soldiers and Islamic extremists.

The group officially merged with al-Qaida in 2006.

Knocking on Heavens Door Plea to Law Enforcement, Military

Channel IconSubscribeUnsubscribewarrior1777October 18, 2007(more info)(less info)Want to Subscribe?Sign in to YouTube now!Sign in with your Google Account!Men and women of Law Enforcement and the Military. You have sworn to defend the US Constitution from any enemy Foreign and or DOMESTIC(I understand they sign your paycheck, but soon your paycheck w…Men and women of Law Enforcement and the Military. You have sworn to defend the US Constitution from any enemy Foreign and or DOMESTIC(I understand they sign your paycheck, but soon your paycheck will be worthless). It is easy to drop bombs on poor people, but taking on the enemies that are powerful in our own Country, traitors(Who signs your paycheck), you seem to fail to live up to your sworn oath. Do you not feel that we all may be knocking on Heavens Door?http://thelawparty.org/MusicWithAMess&#8230;

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Pakistan Negotiate with ‘reconcilables’ Taliban

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi echoes recent comments made by new American trouble-shooter Richard Holbrooke, about separating “reconcilables form irreconcilables.” Nobody bothers to ask, “reconcilable” to what? In truth, reconcilable means submissive and compliant.

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Experts Discuss US Options in Afghanistan, Pakistan

An Afghan checkpoint on the border with Pakistan
An Afghan checkpoint on the border with Pakistan

A panel of experts urged changes in U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their testimony before a U.S. Senate panel on Thursday came as the Obama administration is conducting a review of U.S. policy in the region.

Much of the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee dealt with Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama has decided to send another 17,000 troops to respond to the worsening violence there.

The experts at the hearing agreed with the president’s decision, but said success in Afghanistan would require more than just an increase in troop numbers.

The experts agreed on the need to unify the NATO and American military command chain, help the Afghan government increase the ranks of its Army and intensify U.S. engagement in the region — proposals offered by the Senate Armed Services Committee top Republican, Senator John McCain of Arizona, in a Washington speech this week.

Retired Army Lieutenant General David Barno, Director of the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, offered a sober assessment.

“In my judgment, the international effort in Afghanistan is drifting toward failure. There is still time to turn it around. But it will take strong U.S. leadership, a change of strategic direction, focused and substantial effort,” he said.

Barno called for a unified counterinsurgency approach. “A unified strategy must include counter-narcotics, rule of law, governance, development, building security forces and counterterrorism,” he said.

Barno suggested pursuing this approach in three phases. He said the United States and its allies should focus first on stabilizing Afghanistan and setting the conditions for a successful presidential election later this year. He said that next year, the focus should shift toward building additional Afghan security forces and state institutions. Barno described the final phase, to take place between 2015 and 2025, as movement to full Afghan control as security improves and economic capability takes root.

James Dobbins, Director of the RAND Corporation’s International Security and Defense Policy Center and a former U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan should be security for the Afghan people.

“Our job is neither to defeat the Taliban nor to determine the future shape of Afghan society. The American and allied objectives should be to reverse the current negative security trends and ensure that fewer innocent Afghans are killed next year than this year. If as a result of our efforts the current rise in violence is reversed and the population made more secure, the Afghan people will be able to determine their own future through peaceful rather than violent competition of ideas, people and political factions,” he said.

The experts agreed that Pakistan poses a top challenge to the region.

Lieutenant General Barno called on the United States to assist Pakistan in reforming the country militarily and economically. “We have to have a vision of a long term relationship there that <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:”Cambria Math”; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:1; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:0 0 0 0 0 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073750139 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} span.body {mso-style-name:body; mso-style-unhide:no;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; margin-bottom:10.0pt; line-height:115%;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>
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allows them to believe in the sustained presence and the sustained involvement of the United States in the region. Their lack of that belief today undercuts all of our efforts,” he said.

Marin Strmecki, Senior Vice President and Director of Programs at the Smith Richardson Foundation, suggested that the United States use development aid as leverage to spur greater efforts by Islamabad against extremists in the border area with Afghanistan. He called for increasing such aid to the level given to Egypt — the largest recipient of U.S. development aid.

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“I think if Pakistan moves into a fully cooperative posture, vis-à-vis Afghanistan, we should be prepared to put on the table Egypt-level assistance in the long-term to rebuild Pakistan’s educational infrastructure, its economy, and to prove that the United States has an interest in Pakistan — not because it is going to help us in the war on terror, but for Pakistan’s own sake.

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only after Pakistan has become fully cooperative in our relationship,”

he said.

A number of U.S. lawmakers favor increasing development aid to Pakistan, although not all of them say it should be made conditional.

Pakistan: War in focus – Swat 2009

Pakistan: War in focus – Swat 2009

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

Unlike earlier phases of the Pakistan military’s operations in Swat, in 2007 and 2008, the action initiated in January 2009 has won the support of the ANP-PPP coalition Government, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and of other sections of Pakistani society, opposed to the militants. The key reason for the support given to the military at this juncture is the belief that the latest military operation will be intense, focused and targeted.

In October 2001, on the eve of the US invasion of Afghanistan, General Pervez Musharraf had sought to win public support for his unpopular decision to ally Pakistan with the US. In a foreshadowing of the present, he too had argued that American military action in the neighbouring country would be swift, focused and targeted. The General calculated that the Taliban regime would collapse and US troops would go home speedily after installing a pro-West government in Kabul. Musharraf stuck to this assessment despite President George W Bush’s statements to the contrary. Supremely confident of his military knowledge and intellectual prowess, the General claimed that the Taliban could not fight a guerrilla war and, would soon become irrelevant.

He was wrong: the US military action, subsequently backed by troops from around 40 NATO and non-NATO countries, was neither quick nor focused and targeted. Almost seven-and-a-half years later, it does not appear to be characterised by speed; its focus has been lost and its targets, be they the capture of Osama bin Ladin or various political and development goals, remain unmet. US-led foreign forces are struggling to contain the Taliban-led resistance and the hope is that the arrival of 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan will enable the coalition to regain the intiative.

The reality of the war seems far removed from the one discussed at conferences, in newspaper columns and on TV talk shows. Things are apt to go wrong on the battlefield, especially if the enemy is underestimated. The militants’ tactics and strategies in Pakistan and elsewhere, are increasingly sophisticated, and their motivation to fight and die is unusually high. Revenge is often the driving force through their conviction that they have been wronged, especially through the loss of family members or the destruction of their homes during military attacks. Some have resorted to brutality and the wanton destruction of government and private property.
Much is expected from a professional and well-equipped army, but Pakistani soldiers cannot fulfil their potential if they are unsure about the cause for which they are fighting. Confusion is rife as the public continues debating whether the military is fighting America’s or Pakistan’s war. Desertions by some troops and a willingness to surrender without a fight are manifestations of the demoralisation that has set in amongst soldiers required to fight against their own people.
Pakistani armed forces haven’t fared very differently from the Western armies. Both share tactical similarities, including the greater use of airpower, long-range missiles and artillery guns. This obviously reflects the shortage of forces on the ground but also the calculated avoidance of military casualties especially as the Taliban on their part lack anti-aircraft guns and missiles. Both the US and Pakistani armies initially deployed the airborne Rapid Reaction Force by flying army commandoes in helicopters to conduct search operations and nab suspected militants, but the practice has almost ceased. It seems the US wasn’t satisfied with its success rate because it was difficult to keep such operations secret.

The military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) began in late 2003 and early 2004 and none of the tribal agencies has been fully pacified. Relative calmness has returned to North and South Waziristan primarily as a result of the peace agreements that the Government and the military made with the militants, mostly on the latter’s terms. Rather than extending the Government’s writ, military operations have in some cases radicalised the population, disturbed the dynamics of tribal society and diluted the power and effectiveness of the civil administration. It is true that peace deals too haven’t brought stability, but the same is true of military operations. The failure of one strategy or the other doesn’t mean that it should be given up altogether. Thus, the option of talking peace again or launching military action should remain open.

Despite the current upturn of support, the ongoing military action in Swat risks losing steam and becoming controversial due to the high number of civilian casualties and the ancillary displacement of people, the largest in the country’s history. Dissenting politicians and representatives of civil society have started accusing the military of targeting civilians instead of the militants and for uprooting villagers from their homes. As usual, the Government failed to make timely and proper arrangements for internally displaced people fleeing the military action in Swat, leaving most to fend for themselves. This had happened in the case of Bajaur and Mohmand tribal agencies and earlier when the military carried out operations in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. The Swatis’ anger towards the militants for heaping suffering upon them is being channelled towards the military that has uprooted them from their homes, and towards the provincial and federal governments that have failed to bring them relief. The battle for hearts and minds, so essential in the fight against militancy, is being lost even before any real effort was initiated to win the sympathies of the people of Swat.

The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar. Email: rahimyusufzai @yahoo.com

Sufi Muhammad offers role for peace in Waziristan, Bajaur

Sufi Muhammad offers role for peace in Waziristan, Bajaur

Security forces vacate check-posts in Swat

PESHAWAR: Security forces have vacated all the checkpoints in the Swat valley as part of the ongoing efforts to restore peace and stopped checking vehicles forthwith, sources said on Thursday.

Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad had asked security forces to demolish all the checkpoints to

ensure free movement of the people. He had also asked the Taliban to direct their fighters to stop their activities and display of weapons at public places.

However, the sources said the militants were still blocking the movement of security forces in Qamber and Takhtaband. The militants reportedly forced eight vehicles of the military to move back to Barikot on Thursday.

Locals told our sources from Mingora by phone that the militants were still patrolling public places in Qamber, a town situated only three kilometres from Mingora. Maulana Fazlullah, chief of the banned TTP, had directed his fighters not to stop the convoys of security forces.

However, some groups are still involved in militant activities, violating the orders of Fazlullah.The Taliban have arrested five of their fighters for flouting the directives of their leadership of non-interference and announced to award them punishment in line with “Shariah”.

A military official in Mingora refused to comment on the reported incident of blocking the convoy of eight vehicles, but the sources said the militants were hindering their movement. The sources said the forces were exercising utmost restrain to salvage the peace process.

They said Sufi Muhammad was also disturbed by the continuing activities of the militants and the public display of arms. “There are some rogue elements in the ranks of the Taliban, who are not ready to obey even Fazlullah, and have been creating problems. However, they will be overcome,” sources quoted Sufi as saying.

Meanwhile, Sufi Muhammad said he was ready to play his role for restoration of peace in Waziristan and Bajaur. He said this at the Madni Masjid, where he has been staying for the last six days.

He said he was in consultation with the Malakand commissioner, deputy inspector general of police, Malakand Rang, and senior military officials for restoration of peace to the valley. He said he was also in contact with the Taliban leadership.

He added that his 10-day efforts brought normalcy to the Swat district. He hoped that the people would soon see permanent peace. Sufi said the militants would have to return all the vehicles, weapons and other goods snatched from security forces after the implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl.

He called for the people of Malakand division and Kohistan district to withdraw all the cases pending before the courts in order to file them afresh under the proposed Nizam-e-Adl Regulation. APP adds: Meanwhile, over 700 policemen have so far rejoined their duties and those suspended are trying to restore their services.

The APP Swat correspondent said all the major trading centres, markets, bazaars, commercial banks, government and semi-government offices and educational institutions were opened on Thursday.

Relief goods were distributed among the affected families. The relief goods, loaded in 20 trucks, were sent by the Punjab government. Police sources said all the police checkpoints and police stations would be re-established shortly.

A New Middle East


‘British satirist and playwright George Bernard Shaw once described England and America as “Two countries divided by a common language”. Nothing could be truer of the Arab Middle East today’

A New Middle East

The Middle East of the near future promises to be as turbulent and tense as that of the recent past, writes Ayman El-Amir*

THE ROAD TO HERE: There have been momentous events of course that sometimes forced a measure of change. These included the 1952 Free Officers’ military coup in Egypt, the failure of the 1956 Suez campaign against it, the defeat of Egypt in the 1967 war with Israel and the drastic changes it instilled on the geostrategic situation, the restoration of the military balance in the October 1973 War, the emergence of the global power of oil, the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979, the Iranian revolution of the same year, the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat in 1981, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, among others.

This conflicting train of events did not help the transition of the region to a more progressive and stable order. If anything, it encouraged foreign interference, inter-state conflict and political polarisation. The national revolution that rolled out promises of transformation failed to build democracy, deliver economic prosperity, establish social justice or protect national security. National leaders turned into authoritarian dictators who ruled not by the mandate of the ballot box but by the secret police and torture chambers. They linked the destiny of the countries they ruled to their own survival in power. It may have been that they were visionaries who believed they could single-handedly convert their countries to oases of prosperity, even when their policies led to dismal failure. But their claimed visions masked a naked thirst for power and personal ambitions.

On the political front, suppression of the opposition and curtailment of fundamental human rights became the tools of government. From an economic perspective, experimentation with state capitalism, socialism and later with free market economy failed to raise the standards of living, provide quality healthcare, establish a modern education system or offer basic

services. Surprisingly, regional monarchies that the revolutionary regime of Nasser branded as decadent and reactionary agents of neo- colonialism fared much better with the advent of the oil bonanza and national acknowledgement of the hereditary rotation of power.

The downfall of the former Soviet Union released all countries of Eastern Europe from the Soviet grip, ended the Cold War and weakened Soviet influence in the Middle East. As this influence had already declined after Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel a decade earlier, and the Soviet Union failed the litmus test in Afghanistan, it gave the US a free hand in shaping the world order in its own interests. The Middle East, in which the US already had solid alliances, lay wide open for US intrusion. This was demonstrated twice after the end of the Cold War, first in 1991 when the US led an international coalition under authority of the UN Security Council to drive the invading forces of Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and, secondly, when it invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of seizing Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. As much as the Anglo-American invasion betrayed Russia’s weakness in the post-Soviet era it signalled to Arab countries, particularly those in the Gulf region, that the US was willing to use raw military force to back up its interests.

TERRORISM AS PRETEXT: Ruling dictators of the region shuddered when in 2004 the Bush administration unfurled its “Greater Middle East Initiative” against the backdrop of the invasion of Iraq. It pledged to transform the countries of the Middle East into working democracies as the most effective antidote to terrorism. Agents of target regimes blared out misleading slogans of “reform from within”, organised conferences and produced documents whose only purpose was to blunt the half-hearted US drive for democratic change. They eventually succeeded in persuading the Bush administration that the facilities they offered to support the US invasion of Iraq, including military bases, air, sea and land transit routes, were more important for US interests than democratic change and respect for human rights. To boost its presence, the US dotted the Gulf region with an array of military bases to control oil resources and contain the rising influence of Iran. With the invasion of Iraq the US, for the first time in decades, had unchallenged control of the region and the policies of its ruling regimes.

The rise of terrorism, which was starkly highlighted by the unwarranted bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001, posed a dilemma for both the US and its Middle Eastern allies. The distinction between national liberation struggle, which had led more than half the member-states of the United Nations to independence in the 1950s and 1960s, and sheer acts of terrorism, was nixed. Israel manipulated US reaction to the 9/11 events and its declaration of “war on terrorism” to confuse agendas and to classify Palestinian resistance against its military occupation and the countries supporting this resistance as agents of terrorism. Hamas, Hizbullah, the Islamic Jihad and other armed resistance organisations were lumped together with Al-Qaeda as terrorist organisations while their supporters, mainly Syria and Iran, were listed as state sponsors of terrorism.

Arab countries that were warned by President Bush’s edict “You are either with us or against us” faced a similar dilemma. Domestic opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood, was regarded as a threat to national security and was treated as such by harsh measures of emergency or anti- terrorism laws. Arab regimes found themselves entangled in a mixed agenda: armed resistance against military occupation in Iraq and Palestine and political opposition at home that sometimes resorted to violence. Since 9/11, no Arab summit conference or leader publicly supported armed struggle against Israeli occupation at a time while Israel adopted a policy of targeted assassinations, kidnapping and incarceration against the Palestinians. Instead, Arab countries promoted the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that Israel spurned. This added another ingredient to domestic indignation, as reactions in most Arab capitals to the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza demonstrated.

Indiscriminate acts of international terrorism subverted legitimate armed struggle. On the home front, the ruling elite’s resistance against genuine democratic change, as opposed to cosmetic measures, remains a destabilising factor in the Arab Middle East that creates a casus belli for militant political organisations. Terrorism mushroomed into a global phenomenon. Despite setbacks for armed separatist movements in Chechnya, Sri Lanka, and shaky peace agreements in southern Sudan and Darfur, the mixed phenomenon of armed struggle and terrorism will continue to grow until a clear distinction is established between liberation struggle against illegal military occupation and other senseless acts of terrorism. The assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat in 1981 and the terrorist acts in New York two decades later created an extremist security mentality in most Arab countries and in the US, whether in the form of emergency laws, the US Patriot Acts or the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

FACTORS FUELLING RADICALISM: For 40 years, Israeli policy of military occupation, territorial expansion and crushing of the Palestinian people has been a destabilising factor in the Middle East. As moderate Arab regimes offered more concessions and pressured the Palestinians to do the same, Israel grew more arrogant and stubborn. The Bush administration’s unconditional support of Israeli policies and actions for the past eight years fuelled more radicalism, undermined the US position, weakened Arab allies, triggered confrontation between Arab moderates and so-called radicals and retarded the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East — a cherished objective of the US policy at one time. More recently, as the Israeli army, air force and navy mercilessly pounded the civilian population of Gaza for three weeks both senior Bush administration officials and the US Congress issued unconscionable statements and resolutions supporting “Israel’s right to defend itself”. Israeli actions, more than anything else, divided the Arabs, bolstered Palestinian and Lebanese resistance and gave Iran a more active role in the region.

Iran is no stranger to the Middle East equation. It was a pivotal player at the time of the region’s great transition from the old colonial order of the British Empire to the new US sphere of influence era. It became the key ally in the US grand design of containing the former Soviet Union, dominating the region’s oil resources and controlling inter-continental energy routes. On New Year’s Eve in 1978 former US president Jimmy Carter was in Tehran toasting Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi. He lauded Iran as “an island of stability in a turbulent sea”. Eleven months later, in February 1979, Iran burst open in a massive uprising that changed the region forever and gave it a more influential role. In reality, Iran did not step on the Arab Middle East scene but was forced onto it by the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War that Saddam Hussein launched as an act of muscle flexing to intimidate his Gulf Arab neighbours. Saddam also wanted to fill what he believed to be a vacuum that was created by Egypt’s isolation in the Arab world as a consequence of its peace treaty with Israel. In the mentality of Arab dictators of the time, he believed he should win some kind of war that would make him the uncontested hero of the Arabs. And what better target could there be than conquering unstable revolutionary Iran and achieving control of the Arab/Persian Gulf. He failed on both counts and the war left one million combatants killed or wounded on both sides. As a result, the incipient Iranian revolution felt more confident but also more aware of the security challenges it faced in the neighbourhood — a feeling that was sharpened by the huge military bases the US planted in the small Gulf emirates.

IRAN ASCENDANT: For Iran, the 2003 Anglo- American invasion of Iraq came as a mixed blessing. On the one hand it removed the threat of archenemy Saddam Hussein and freed the oppressed Shia majority from the dictatorial grasp of the Baathist secular state. Under a new political regime, the Shia was assured of a controlling majority in representative councils and in the government. On the other hand, long-term US presence represented a lasting menace for Iran’s geopolitical ambition and a destabilising factor in the region. Furthermore, it was bound to unleash sectarian rivalries and associated violence. Iran felt more than ever that it had vital security interests in the Gulf region. Moreover, unabated Israeli military aggression against the Palestinians in the occupied territories and Lebanon extended Iran’s security interests farther afield.

Iran’s expanding involvement in regional affairs, from Iraq to Lebanon, presented a political dilemma for traditional Arab regimes as well as for Western powers led by the US. Its strong moral and material support to countries and groups combating Israeli aggression upstaged the leadership role claimed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It also raised Israeli and Western concerns about its growing power, particularly as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled Iran’s nuclear research programme and simultaneously lashed out at Israeli military aggression. Israel exercised its best tradition of subterfuge to portray Iran as a lethal challenge to its existence and repeatedly urged US military action. No one in the US or in Western governments had the moral courage to question Israel’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

As Iran asserted strategic and national security interests after the invasion of Iraq, a contrived Shia expansionist threat to the predominantly Sunni countries of the region suddenly took centre stage in Arab-Iranian relations. Championed by Saudi Arabia as the defender of the Sunni faith, this seeming confrontation intensified after the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon. King Abdullah II of Jordan also warned against the threat of the rising “Shia crescent” in the Middle East. The Bush administration spared no effort to persuade loyal Arab countries that it was Iranian and not Israeli expansionism that was the threat to the stability of Arab regimes. It echoed the John Foster Dulles effort to enlist Nasser’s Egypt on the grounds that communist expansion and not Israeli aggression was the immediate threat to the Arab world. In reality, it was Iran’s anti-American, anti-Israeli revolutionary rhetoric, and the popularity it scored among the impoverished masses in the Arab world, that pro-Western conservative Arab regimes feared most. From the religious perspective, little mention was made of the fact that for almost nine centuries, since the Muslim Arab conquest of Persia in 651 AD, the country was solid Sunni territory until the Safavid Empire (1501-1722) adopted Shia Islam as the state religion. So, painting Iran as the image of a Shia scarecrow was not free of ulterior motives. Iran’s growing political involvement in the Middle East has become an integral part of the dynamics of the region, not just a temporary reflection of a revolutionary mood or of the firebrand rhetoric of a president.

Then, in the ancient tradition of Greek tragedy, Turkey landed on the complex Middle East scene like a modern Deus ex machina. Having served for 50 years as the southern flank of NATO’s Western strategy of containment of the former Soviet Union, it actively sought membership in the European Union whose Western member countries are its major trading and military partners. Turkey’s quest was held in abeyance pending its fulfilment of certain preconditions. Last year, during its presidency of the EU, France nearly cast a veto against Turkey’s accession. Without abandoning its quest, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan looked southward to Iran and Syria to forge new alliances, to diversify its political and economic relations and to widen its strategic depth. Turkey already had highly developed strategic, military, intelligence and economic ties with Israel since the time of former prime minister Mesut Yilmaz, whose government had resigned in a corruption scandal in 1998. Ever since, the powerful Turkish military elite maintained the relationship. Thus, Turkey found itself in the unique position of a trusted mediator between Israel, a strategic partner, and Syria with which it had vital interests in shared water resources, particularly those of the Aasi River. Turkish mediation between “hardline” Syria and Israel over the occupied Golan Heights almost succeeded in preparing the ground for direct negotiations between the two adversaries when Israel scuttled the process by its brutal military invasion of Gaza, which provoked strong Turkish reaction. From another perspective, the Kurdish problem continues to engage Turkey’s interest in Iraq. Like Iran, Turkey is inexorably gravitating towards the core of the Middle East geopolitical situation of which the confrontation with Israel is a fundamental factor.

THE MIDDLE EAST MAZE: For many observers, the Middle East landscape appears as a maze of paradoxical interests, incompatible players and old powers trying to hold off the pressure of change. Israel’s military occupation, continued aggression and implacable drive for domination of the region are the central concerns. Other players close and distant are approaching common issues with different agendas: some, like Iran, Syria and the Palestinian resistance movement, are promoting defiant armed struggle against Israeli occupation. Others like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and most Gulf Arab countries are pursuing pacification and betting on US goodwill. It is not that they are impervious to the suffering of the Palestinians, but they do not want confrontation with Israel at any price. As a result, Israel does not feel any pressure from immediate neighbours and has little, if any, political or moral consideration for their views or concerns, as the recent war on Gaza demonstrated. This has polarised the countries of the region into hardliners and pacifists and thrust the two sides into confrontation over a shared agenda. In addition, the Bush administration’s categorical support of Israeli atrocities in the face of its regional allies and at the United Nations gave Israel a free hand in the region. Again, this was rubbed in when the Israeli air force repeatedly bombed the border corridor between Egyptian Rafah and Gaza and as the US stonewalled the proposed ceasefire resolution at the Security Council. In another light, it is how the proponents of armed resistance against the 40- year-long Israeli occupation of Arab territories came to be classified either as terrorists or state sponsors of terrorism.

British satirist and playwright George Bernard Shaw once described England and America as “Two countries divided by a common language”. Nothing could be truer of the Arab Middle East today — a motley coalition of countries divided by common culture, history and political purpose. Not only is the region more fragmented than ever before, but also the old role of central leadership that managed crises has devolved to the fringes. Qatar, with a population of 820,000 and an erudite leadership, has taken bold initiatives that successfully reconciled Lebanese political rivals in May 2008 and ended 18 months of conflict, convened an Arab summit conference in the midst of the Israeli military campaign against the Palestinians in Gaza and is mediating between the Sudanese government and rebel factions in Darfur, with a measure of success. Turkey took a mediation role between Syria and Israel that was frustrated by Israeli aggression. In the meantime, Iran has thrown its weight around in support of Arab causes in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. Egypt continues to struggle with Israeli intransigence over an extended ceasefire with Hamas. Some major Arab countries have played along with the Bush administration’s classification of Arab and Islamic countries as moderates pitted against radicals, with Israel assigning the definition labels.

The present political map of the Middle East shows divisive competitions, mixed new alliances, conversion of Arab and Islamic agendas and boiling domestic situations. The fight against terrorism is also a confused central issue. Partners against Terrorism, Inc, chaired by the US, include all moderate Arab states and Israel. Turkey is wary of domestic Kurdish terrorism-cum-liberation struggle. Secular Baathist Syria is key supporter of Shia Hizbullah and its coalition of Lebanese forces, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood-oriented Hamas. But it also has problems with its domestic Muslim Brotherhood and pro-democracy forces at home. Egypt makes sure that it keeps its powerful Muslim Brotherhood organisation constantly off balance by continuous arrests and trials, even when they organise demonstrations in support of Gaza. The legitimate-resistance-cum-terrorism designation has never been more confused, with Israel sharing the same attitude as the moderates.

Looking through the political prism confirms that moderate Arab states are hostile to the loosely knit alliance of militant Syria and Iran that supports Hizbullah and Hamas. They unwittingly divide Palestinian ranks by propping up the declining Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, who has been dressed up in presidential trappings, against “rebellious” Hamas that is bearing the brunt of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. Small players on the outer edge like Qatar and Yemen are riling up conventional leaders by promoting their own initiatives to address inter- Arab or Palestinian crises. (Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit proudly announced recently that Egypt had foiled the Qatar-sponsored Arab summit conference on Gaza).

LOOKING AHEAD: The domestic situation in major Arab countries is bordering on the explosive as sitting rulers continue to hold onto power by suppressing any serious opposition, resisting democratic change, quietly seeking hereditary extension of their rule and cultivating a new culture of monarchic republicanism. In September, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will have logged 40 years in power, while for 25 years Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could not find a single Egyptian who would be suitable enough to serve as vice-president. This makes the pursuit of orderly democratic succession virtually impossible, and it remains the most serious obstacle to the peaceful transition of the Arab Middle East. Autocratic rulers unused to opposition or to the rotation of power will soon face the double challenge of a restive civil society that could destabilise the countries they rule and mounting foreign disenchantment.

External pressure for democratic change will gradually take priority over the service of short- term Western interests, particularly now that US heavy military presence in Iraq will begin to diminish. In the case of Iran, the new Obama administration is leaning towards substituting confrontation with dialogue. Gulf Arab states, or most of them, will soon find that a modicum of coexistence with Iran is more rewarding than confrontation. In due course, they may give more serious consideration to concluding bilateral or multilateral non-aggression pacts with Iran to defuse potential future crises. Such arrangement may not sit well with Israel or with conservative Arab regimes that fear the rise of the “Shia crescent” or, in reality, the Iranian revolutionary drive. However, Gulf community interests override destabilising confrontation or assurances of US protection. Iran, on the other hand, will not have to worry about the rise of another Saddam Hussein in Iraq who would want to engage in another decade- long war to become an Arab hero.

It will be left to the new Obama administration to show its strategic hand in managing the boiling Middle East cauldron. Cascading US congressional visits to Syria and conciliatory statements towards Iran are new overtures to engage both in productive dialogue that may work. Dealing with Israel as it drifts to the right will be a major challenge for the US and for Middle East peace. The Obama administration may do well to separate the wheat from the chafe and clear the agendas that Israel has confused in order to stall the attainment of a just and lasting Middle East settlement. The Arab and Islamic Middle East will find it inevitable to develop a loose confederacy based on a community of interests with no central command or foreign allegiance. Regrettably, Israel is not ready to be part of such alliance.

* The writer is former Al-Ahram correspondent in Washington, DC. He also served as director of United Nations Radio and Television in New York.

The Middle East of the near future promises to be as turbulent and tense as that of the recent past, writes Ayman El-Amir

‘The old role of central leadership that managed crises has devolved to the fringes’




Pakistan: What Can We Do?

Pakistan: What Can We Do?

We know how they are destroying Pakistan from the inside. It’s like a checklist. They overthrow a government through chaos, bring in their cronies, and then spread terrorism. When the army is close to ending this terrorism, they start Sunni-Shia riots. I am a confused Pakistani that loves every inch of this great land of ours, likes the cool of Murree as much as the heats of Nawabshah and the cold of Ziarat and Quetta. There isn’t a day that goes by without thinking about it. This is a genuine request for some advice.

By ZEESHAN KHAN

Wednesday, 25 February 2009.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

HONG KONG, China—I am sure this question flashes in your heads from time to time: What can we, as young overseas nationalist Pakistanis, do to benefit or contribute to Pakistan?

This question is even truer nowadays with the current situation in our homeland. It is as if a game is being played out in front of our own eyes, whose direction has been painstakingly predictive. It is like a checklist, isn’t it:

First, remove the government through mass propaganda, aide the lawyers’ protests, scare the investors, creating false/negative news to create a sense of paranoia.

Once that has been taken care of, put in place an incompetent, corrupt and to some extent idiotic government that is so cut off from the local Joe on the street and from reality for that matter. A government that is rewarding their party goons with lost jobs and government ministries and foreign travel incentives to beg governments for money, giving national honorary medals to the likes of CIA‘s chief, the same medals that were given to our brave soldiers who paid with their blood when it came to the name of Pakistan. A government whose officials, instead of reassuring their people about the security of the country are instead raising alarm bells in Washington by saying the country is being taken over by the Taliban. [President Zardari did this in a TV interview to an American channel.]


Simultaneously, pump money to insurgents in different parts of the country, and if the army somehow tries to get close to defeating them, then try plan B that is create Shia/Sunni violence. Create fear that the strongest, most disciplined Muslim army has some outlaws in its ranks and that the nuclear assets will be soon in control of some bearded officers that are ready to ship them out and explode a dirty bomb in midtown Manhattan, miraculously bypassing their intelligence agencies, their airport security and their radars and checkpoints.

Now back to my opening statement, what are we do to help our homeland in the midst of all this propaganda and deliberate terrorism and destabilization?

I am a confused Pakistani that loves every inch of this great land of ours, likes the cool of Murree as much as the heats of Nawabshah and the cold of Ziarat and Quetta. There isn’t a day that goes by without thinking about it. This is genuine request for some advice.

Zeeshan is a young Pakistani living and working in Hong Kong, China. He can be reached at zeeshank16ATgmail.com

THE BANKERS MANIFESTO

IS THIS DOCUMENT PRECURSOR TO “PROTOCOLS OF ELDERS OF ZION?”

WHAT BETTER WAY TO PUT-OFF POPULAR SCRUTINY OF THE BANKERS’ CONSPIRACY THAN TO CREATE AND PROMOTE AN ALTERNATIVE ANTI-SEMITIC CONSPIRACY, WHERE THE JEWS ARE BLAMED FOR THE HANDIWORK OF THE INTERNATIONAL BANKERS?

THE BANKERS MANIFESTO
Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. revealed the Bankers Manifesto of 1892 to the U.S. Congress somewhere between 1907 and 1917.

We (the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.

Organizations in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.

At the coming Omaha convention to be held July 4, 1892, our men must attend and direct its movement or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome.

This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination (conspiracy) and legislation.

The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

When, through the process of law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers.

People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders. History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.

The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete actions, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished.

Pak Paid $6Mn To Taliban For Swat Ceasefire?

Pak Paid $6Mn To Taliban For Swat Ceasefire?

(RTTNews) – The Taliban in Pakistan’s restive Swat valley was paid $6 million in compensation by the government as part of the deal for a ceasefire with security forces for an indefinite period, media reports said Tuesday.

Islamabad signed a controversial deal with Maulana Sufi Mohammad of the Tahrik-e-Nafiz Shariat Muhammadi (the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law) to enforce Islamic law (Sharia) in Swat to restore peace in exchange for the payment, a security official was quoted as saying.

The amount–paid through a backchannel–was compensation for those who were killed during military operations and compensation for the properties destroyed by the security forces.

The reports said all of Pakistan’s tribal areas come under President Asif Ali Zardari’s jurisdiction and the amount was paid from a special fund of president.

A special aid package, including a donation from the U.S., was designated for the region by the president’s office and distributed through the Governor’s office in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the reports said.

The deal was thrashed out after months of intense fighting in which hundreds of civilians and militants were killed and 500,000 persons displaced.

Pakistan pushes US for drones

Pakistan pushes US for drones

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi answers a question during talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department in Washington.—AP

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi answers a question during talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department in Washington.—AP

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s foreign minister said Wednesday that his country has asked the United States to provide unmanned planes that would allow Pakistan to strike extremists hiding in rugged terrain along the Afghan border.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in an Associated Press interview with reporters and editors that Pakistan, and not the United States, should control the missile strikes that have killed high-level extremists but also civilians.

The US missile strikes, he said, are alienating the Pakistani people and making it harder for his government to persuade locals to support the fight against militants.

‘We feel that if the technology is transferred to Pakistan, Pakistan will be in a better position to determine how to use the technology and, without alienating people, achieve the objective,’ he said.

‘Pakistan is a willing partner with the US in this fight,’ he said. ‘Let us exercise that judgment.’

The US missiles are fired from drones believed launched from neighboring Afghanistan. The strikes are one of the most sensitive issues in US-Pakistan ties.

Qureshi said the matter was raised Tuesday in a meeting with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, retired Gen. James Jones. He would not provide specific details; ‘we are talking at this stage,’ he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs would not comment on Qureshi’s comments Wednesday.

Qureshi also said the Obama White House is more ‘willing to listen’ to Pakistan than the Bush administration.

The Bush administration initially was a strong supporter of the current Pakistani government’s predecessor, former President Pervez Musharraf, calling the former general ‘indispensable.’ Musharraf took power in a bloodless 1999 coup but was swept from power in democratic elections by the current government.

The Bush administration, Qureshi said, ‘had a point of view, and it was like the approach was, ‘this is it; take it or leave it.’’

He called the Obama administration’s approach ‘more understanding and more endearing.’

Qureshi and Pakistan’s army chief are in Washington to participate, along with Afghan Foreign Minister Dadfar Rangeen Spanta, in the Obama administration’s efforts to draw up a new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Qureshi and Spanta were scheduled to have dinner Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the United States wants ‘this review to be as inclusive as possible. The White House is reaching out to everybody with a stake in this.’

‘It won’t just be window dressing: take a look at our plan and sign off on it when it’s already virtually completed,’ he said. ‘We are all collectively in this, and we need as much advice and buy-in as possible for this to be a succeed.’

On the Obama administration’s drone strikes, Qureshi called for Pakistan and the United States to ‘reassess the advantages and disadvantages, and, if the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, there is a case to review this strategy.’

More Disinformation From Schizophrenic Terror Group

AFTER SWEARING-OFF ATTACKS UPON GOVERNMENT FORCES, Taliban rename their group Shura Ittehadul Mujahideen [Council of United Mujahideen].  NOW NEW SELF-APPOINTED SPOKESMAN PROMISES TO FIGHT PAKISTANI SECURITY FORCES.

TTP announces support for LI

BARA: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Wednesday announced full support to Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) if the security forces started an operation against the LI in Khyber Agency. Bara-based TTP leader Hamza Afridi told reporters by telephone from an undisclosed location that they would support the LI in the agency if the security forces launched an operation against it. He said Taliban would not abandon LI chief Mangal Bagh. staff report

Wana Tribesmen Fear Deal Will Bring Back Uzbek “Al Qaida”

Taliban alliance only against US, says Maulvi Nazir

* Tells South Waziristan elders Taliban factions will remain independent
* Wana tribesmen fear deal with Baitullah may cause Uzbek influx

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: The top three Taliban factions in Pakistan have unified “only to act together against the United States”, Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir told Ahmedzai Wazir elders in South Waziristan in a meeting earlier this week, a tribal elder told Daily Times on Wednesday.

A delegation of Ahmedzai Wazir elders met Maulvi Nazir, the Taliban chief in Wana, to ask him why he had formed the ‘United Council of Mujahideen’ without consulting them, a senior member of the delegation said. “Gul Bahadar (the Taliban chief in North Waziristan) and I have reached an understanding with Baitullah Mehsud (the chief of the defuct Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) to fight the US together, because we are concerned over the surge in American troops in Afghanistan,” Nazir reportedly told the delegation. He denied the groups had joined hands against Pakistani troops.

US President Barack Obama has ordered 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan and Washington is currently meeting top officials from Islamabad and Kabul to put together a new strategy on tackling the Afghanistan problem.

Maulvi Nazir told the Ahmedzai Wazir elders that the understanding with Baitullah did not mean a merger of the three groups. “Each group will have its own independent status and emirates, and each group will be sovereign in their territory,” the Taliban leader said. Maulvi Nazir did say who had helped them forge the alliance, the delegation member told Daily Times. “I think someone from across the border may have influenced the move,” he added. The understanding comes despite serious differences between Maulvi Nazir and Baitullah Mehsud over Uzbek fighters among the latter’s ranks. The Ahmedzai Wazirs and Maulvi Nazir had made a peace deal in April 2007 after the latter flushed out the Uzbek men from the area. The new understanding alarmed the tribesmen the foreigners might return to their land. “We told Maulvi Nazir if his understanding with Baitullah brings any harm to our areas, then the peace accord we reached with him will also be in jeopardy,” the delegation told the Taliban chief, the elder said.

Transmarginal Inhibition

Transmarginal Inhibition

Wow! It’s been almost three weeks since I have written anything for my blog or SOTT! How time does fly! But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing; as it happens, I have. Not only am I working on the research for my upcoming book, “The Horns of Moses,” I have been working on our Cassiopedia project. After finishing the latest entry on Transmarginal Inhibition as researched by Ivan Pavlov, I thought that it was important enough to bring it to wider attention.

Pavlov demonstrated that when Transmarginal Inhibition began to take over a condition similar to hysteria manifested. In states of fear and excitement, normally sensible human beings will accept the most wildly improbably suggestions.

Once you read this information, I think that you will agree with me that this is the process that has been used on the global masses for quite some time, with a peak of stress inducement on September 11, 2001. You will also understand why so many people have been hoodwinked. (By the way, you won’t find this kind of in-depth information on such subjects on Wikipedia!)

Transmarginal Inhibition

Transmarginal Inhibition, or TMI, is an organism’s response to overwhelming stimuli. Ironically, the popular acronym TMI means too much information, which can be a common factor of transmarginal inhibition in today’s culture.

Research

Ivan Pavlov enumerated details of TMI on his work of conditioning animals via various stimuli, including pain. (It is not true that all of Pavlov’s work was inducing responses via pain as is often reported.)

Pavlov discovered that an organism’s level of tolerance to various stimuli varied significantly depending on fundamental differences in temperament. He commented “that the most basic inherited difference among people was how soon they reached this shutdown point and that the quick-to-shut-down have a fundamentally different type of nervous system.” [1] This led him to pay increasing attention to the need to classify subjects according to their inherited constitution before applying experimental conditioning. Not only did dogs respond differently to conditioning according to their temperament, when a dog broke down under stress, its treatment depended on its constitutional type. For instance, Pavlov confirmed that sedatives were very helpful in restoring stability to the nerves of a dog that had broken down, but that the one type might require 5 to 8 times as much medication than that required by another type even if the body weight was exactly the same.

The Four Temperaments

Based on the empirical evidence accumulated through thirty years of research, Pavlov was convinced of the idea of the four basic temperaments. He noted that these temperaments approximated closely to those differentiated in man by Hippocrates. Though various blends of basic temperamental patterns appeared in Pavlov’s dogs, they could be distinguished as such instead of by creating new categories.

The first type corresponded with Hippocrates’s “choleric” type which Pavlov called “strong excitatory.” The second type: “sanguine” which Pavlov named “lively”, applied to dogs of a more balanced temperament. The normal response to imposed stresses or conflict situations by these two types was increased excitement and more aggressive behavior, but that is where the similarity ended. The “strong excitatory”, or choleric, type would turn so wild as to be completely out of hand as opposed to the “sanguine” type which continued to behave with purposeful and controlled reactions.

The phlegmatic type, Pavlov called “calm, imperturbable,” and the melancholic was called “weak inhibitory” type. In these two types, imposed stresses and conflict situations were met with more passivity or “inhibition” rather than aggression. The “weak inhibitory” type, or melancholic, constitutional tendency was to meet anxieties and conflicts with passivity and avoidance of tension. Any strong experimental stress imposed on such a dog’s nervous system resulted in the dog being reduced to a state of brain inhibition and “fear paralysis.”

Pavlov found that the other three types, when faced with more stress than could be coped with by the usual means, would also eventually enter a state of brain inhibition similar to that state entered very quickly by the melancholic/weak inhibitory type. He regarded this as a protective mechanism normally employed by the brain as a last resort when pressed beyond endurance. The “weak inhibitory” type was an exception to the other three types: this type of dog went into a state of protective brain inhibition more rapidly and in response to lighter stresses. The important finding was, of course, that the four basic natures responded differently to different levels of stress both before, during, and after experiments, the most important datum being that the weak inhibitory type was particularly susceptible.

Regarding the weak inhibitory type, Pavlov observed that though the basic temperamental pattern is inherited, every dog has been conditioned since birth by varied environmental influences which can produce long-lasting inhibitory patterns of behavior under certain stresses. Therefore, the final pattern of behavior of any given dog will depend on both its own constitution as well as specific patterns of behavior induced by prior environmental stresses. [2]

The Ultraboundary Response

Later, when Pavlov was experimentally applying his discoveries about dogs to human psychology, he noted carefully what happened when the higher nervous system of the dog was strained beyond the limits of normal response, and compared these states to clinical reports of various kinds of mental breakdowns in human beings. He found that more severe and prolonged stresses could be applied to dogs of the “lively” or “calm imperturbable” type without causing a breakdown, than to those of the “strong excitatory” and “weak inhibitory” types.

Pavlov was convinced that this “ultraboundary” response that he called Transmarginal Inhibition, was the brain’s protective mechanism. When it occurred, it meant that the brain had no other means of avoiding physical damage due to fatigue and nervous stress. He found that he could determine the degree of protective inhibition in any dog at any moment by using his salivary gland conditioned reflex protocol. Even if the dog seemed normal upon visual examination, the amount of saliva being secreted could tell him what was happening in the dog’s brain, i.e. whether the inhibitory response was initiating, and to what stage it had developed.

The Flood and Brainwashing

Apparently, an accidental event led to some of Pavlov’s more advanced experiments in induced TMI. In 1924, there was a flood in Leningrad. Pavlov had conditioned an entire group of dogs before this flood, during which they were trapped in their cages as the water rose steadily in the laboratory. The dogs were swimming around in terror, fighting to hold their heads above water when, at the last possible moment, a lab attendant came and pulled them down through the water and out of their cage doors to safety.

This event was evidently terrifying in the extreme to the dogs. Some of them switched from a state of acute excitement to severe Transmarginal Protective Inhibition. When Pavlov tested some of them soon after, he found that the recently implanted conditioned reflexes had all disappeared. Other dogs which had faced the ordeal were not affected. Pavlov realized that for those dogs whose conditioning had been wiped away by terror, there was a further degree of inhibitory activity that was capable of wiping the mental slate clean. Most dogs that had reached this stage of “brainwashing” could later have their old conditioned behaviors restored, but it took months of patient work. They were, effectively, “newborn”. If Pavlov would allow a trickle of water to run in under the door of the laboratory, all the dogs were sensitive to, and affected by, the sight; but most particularly those dogs who had been “brainwashed” by the flood.

Even though some of the dogs had resisted total breakdown, Pavlov was convinced that appropriate stresses “properly applied”, could have induced breakdown in every one of them. At the end of his life, Pavlov told an American physiologist that the observations made on this occasion had convinced him that every dog had its “breaking point”. [3]

Four Main Types of Stress

Among Pavlov’s most important findings was what can happen to conditioned behavior when the brain of a dog is pushed to the “ultraboundary” limit by stresses and conflict beyond its habitual response capacity. He was able to bring about what he called a “rupture in higher nervous activity” by utilizing four main types of imposed stresses.

1) The first type of stress was simply an increase in the intensity of the signal to which the dog was initially conditioned. If this was gradually increased, at a certain point, when the signal was too strong for its system, the dog would begin to break down.

2) The second way of achieving the ultraboundary event was to increase the time between the giving of the signal and the arrival of food. If a dog was conditioned to receive food five seconds after the warning signal, and this period was then prolonged, signs of restlessness and abnormal behavior would become evident in the less stable dogs. Pavlov discovered that the dog’s brains revolted against any abnormally long waiting period while under stress. Breakdown would occur when the dog had to either exert very strong, or very prolonged, inhibition. (Human beings also find protracted waiting while under stress to be debilitating: worse than the event that produces the anxiety.)

3) The third way of inducing a breakdown was to confuse the dogs by anomalies in the conditioning signal. If positive and negative signals were given one after the other, (yes, no, yes, no, etc), the hungry dog would become uncertain as to what would happen next and this disrupted the normal nerve stability. This is also true with human beings.

4) The fourth way of inducing a breakdown in a dog was to destabilize the dog’s physical condition in some way, either by subjecting it to long periods of work, inducing gastro-intestinal disorders, fever, disturbing the glandular balance, surgery, etc.

If, in any case, the first three methods would fail to induce a breakdown in a particular dog, it could be achieved by utilizing the same stresses that had failed, but doing so only after initiating the fourth protocol: physical destabilization. Pavlov also discovered that, after physical destabilization, a breakdown might occur even in temperamentally stable dogs and also that any new behavior pattern occurring afterward might become a fixed element of the dog’s personality even long after recovery from the debilitating experience.

In the weak inhibitory type of dog, new neurotic patterns implanted under such conditions could frequently be readily removed by little more than doses of sedatives. But in the calm and lively types – which often needed to be surgically castrated in order to physically debilitate them sufficiently to cause a breakdown – Pavlov discovered that the newly implanted pattern was quite often ineradicable after the dog had recovered its health. Pavlov thought that this was due to the natural toughness of the nervous systems in such types of dogs. The new behaviors were difficult to implant without temporarily induced debilitation and subsequently seemed to be as strong a part of the dog’s “stubborn nature” as the old pattern.

As observed by Pavlov, tolerence of stimulation varies greatly between individuals. Highly sensitive persons may be overstimulated by the loud volumes in a movie theater or the background confusion of a large social gathering. Other individuals will find those same stimulations as ideal stimulation levels, or even understimulating.

Three Stages of TMI

Pavlov established that the ability of a dog to resist heavy stress not only depended on its type, but its physical condition. Once the ultraboundary had been reached and cerebral inhibition induced, very strange things began to happen in the dog’s brain. These changes could be measured with some precision (by the amounts of saliva secreted), and, unlike with human beings, were not altered by subjective distortions. That is to say, there was no question of the dog trying to explain away or rationalize their odd behavior as human beings do. Three distinct and progressive stages of “ultraboundary” inhibition were described by Pavlov.

1)The Equivalent Phase of cortical brain activity. In this phase, all stimuli, of whatever strength resulted only in the same amounts of saliva being produced. In the human being, a similar phenomenon is observed when a normal person is in a state of extreme fatigue; they report that there is very little difference between their emotional reactions to either trivial or important experiences. They may say “I’m too tired to care.”

2) The Paradoxical Phase. When even stronger stresses are applied (and this can be pain or any other mental, physical, or emotional stress), the equivalent phase passes into the paradoxical phase. In this state, weak stimuli can produce a stronger reaction than a strong stimuli. The reason for this is that the strong stimuli only increase the state of protective inhibition while the weak stimuli can still produce positive responses. When a human being is in this stage, their behavior can reverse in a way that seems totally irrational to an outside observer.

3) The Ultra-Paradoxical Phase. The third stage is where positive conditioned responses suddenly reverse to negative responses and negative ones to positive. The dog (or person) may suddenly find that they like what they formerly detested and loathe what they formerly loved. In this stage, the organism’s response becomes opposed to all its previous conditioning.

Additional research on these phases was done by William Sargant in his work on shell-shocked servicemen.

Significance To Human Psychology

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People are a lot like Pavlov’s dogs…

This last discovery has great relevance to understanding similar changes in behavior in human beings. Toward the end of a long period of some type of debilitation, people of very strong character have been known to make a dramatic change in their beliefs and/or convictions. When they recover, they then are known to remain true to their new beliefs for the rest of their lives. There are many case histories of people who experience various types of conversion – religious, political, etc – during times of war, in prison, or after having some prolonged terrifying experience such as shipwreck, plane crash, etc.

Much of human behavior is the result of conditioned patterns of responses that begin to form in infancy and childhood. These patterns of response to reality can persist almost unchanged, but in general, the healthy adult human has learned to adapt their programs to changes in their environment. Other human responses are due to study and learning; driving a car, for example. In the beginning, learning to drive and negotiate in traffic requires a great deal of attention. Later on, it becomes more automatic and the driver can navigate in busy city traffic while talking, eating, or doing any number of other activities. “Driving” has become an automatic program. But if the driver then travels into the country where there is little traffic, he is able to adapt to changing conditions and does this automatically.

So it is that an organism’s brain is required to build ever more elaborate structures of both positive and negative conditioned responses – behavior patterns – to the changing conditions of the environment. Pavlov showed that the nervous system of a dog could develop extraordinary powers of discrimination automatically. A dog could be made to salivate in reaction to a tone of exactly 500 vibrations per minute, not 490 or 510.

Negative conditioned responses, such as anger or “fight or flight” reactions are generally controlled in civilized societies though it is occasionally necessary to activate them in response to changes in the environment such as threat or a life-or-death emergency.

The emotional attitudes and patterns of response are also conditioned in the human being though most people do not like to admit this. We learn as children to feel attraction or revulsion for certain things, people, events, and so on. Words such as “Catholic,” or “Communist” can evoke instant emotional reactions that have no relation to any facts or data, but are simply programmed attitudes acquired by conditioning within the family and society.

Use in Mind Control

The work of Ivan Pavlov was found by the Soviet totalitarian regime to be quite useful in pursuing their political policy of indoctrination. As evidence of this fact, it is noted that in July, 1950, a medical directive was issued in Russia for a re-orientation of all Soviet medicine along Pavlovian lines. [4] The reason for this directive is apparently due to the most impressive results that were obtained by applying Pavlovian principles.

Pavlov’s work seems to have strongly influenced the techniques used in Russia and China for the “eliciting of confessions”, for brainwashing and for inducing political conversions. This research has, apparently, been carried on in the U.S. by secret services who have a vested interest in “debunking” and marginalizing such information. Most of Pavlov’s findings applicable to Mind Control are reported in a series of Pavlov’s later lectures translated by Horsley Gantt, published in Great Britain and the United States in 1941 under the title “Conditioned Reflexes and Psychiatry.” [5] Professor Y. P. Frolov’s book about these experiments, Pavlov and His School [6] has also been translated into English. Later books made little or no reference to most of Pavlov’s important findings along the line of Mind Control. Joseph Wortis, M.D., in his study “Soviet Psychiatry”, published in the U.S. in 1950 [7], made a point to emphasize the importance of Pavlov’s experiments in psychiatry, but gave very few details of the last phase of this work that dealt with Mind Control. Other books contain many details of Pavlov’s early experimental work, but little to nothing of his later work relevant to Mind Control and brain-washing.

Pavlov demonstrated that when Transmarginal Inhibition began to take over a dog, a condition similar to hysteria in a human manifested. The applications of these findings to human psychology suggest that for a “conversion” to be effective, it is necessary to work on the subject’s emotions until s/he reaches an abnormal condition of fear, anger or exaltation. If such a state is maintained or intensified by any of various means, hysteria is the result. In a state of hysteria, a human being is abnormally suggestible and influences in the environment can cause one set of behavior patterns to be replaced by another without any need for persuasive indoctrination. In states of fear and excitement, normally sensible human beings will accept the most wildly improbably suggestions.

Social Implications

The means by which TMI operates on the individual is rather clear; what is less clear is how hysteria affects larger groups even moving to the macro-scale. Nevertheless, scientific observers of U.S. society since September 11, 2001, often point out that the events of that day were a classic example of inducing Transmarginal Inhibition in masses of people in order to condition them to accept the destruction of the U.S. Democratic government.

References

Frolov, Y.P. (1938). Pavlov and His School. Trans. by C.P. Dutt. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, London.

Babkin, B.P. (1951) Pavlov. A Biography. Gollancz, London.

Asratyan, E.A. (1953) I.P. Pavlov: His Life and Work (English translation) Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow.

Boakes, R. A. (1984). From Darwin to behaviourism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Firkin, B. G.; & Whitworth, J. A. (1987). Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. Parthenon Publishing. ISBN 1-85070-333-7

Pavlov, I. P. (1927). Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex (translated by G. V. Anrep). London: Oxford University Press.

Todes, D. P. (1997). “Pavlov’s Physiological Factory,” Isis. Vol. 88. The History of Science Society, p. 205-246.

External links

Battle for the Mind by William Sargant

Brainwashing: Lecture Notes: Physiological Perspective

The Battle For Your Mind

PBS article

Nobel Prize website biography of I. P. Pavlov

Institute of Experimental Medicine article on Pavlov

Link to full text of Pavlov’s lectures

The Highly Sensitive Person or the HSP

Cutting through the illusion – The Grand Chessboard

Cutting through the illusion – The Grand Chessboard

The US and Israel- the Reality

It may seem blindingly obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway as we often seem to forget, that clear communication is essential to mutual understanding. Without a common understanding of what we say to each other we find ourselves adrift in Babel-land. The risks to us all from a lack of common understanding cannot be overstated.

In the midst of the deluge of bailouts, rescues and stimulus packages there is no clear communication as to just why these measures are being taken and how they are meant to improve the lives of ordinary people. It is abundantly clear that this is deliberate. If we, the normal people of the planet, were to gain a common understanding of what is really happening, we would decide that we don’t approve, we would agree on exactly why we don’t approve and we would likely agree on what we wish to see happen instead. Those that control our world know this so they ensure that no common understanding is reached; they need the confusion. In fact, they create the confusion.

They do this because should enough people truly understand the reality of what is happening on this planet a critical mass might be reached such that collectively we decide that we will no longer tolerate the world being the way it is and, more importantly, we would have a common direction to get out of the mess.

In order to ensure that we do not develop this common direction the controllers, or as Douglas Reed called them, the Managers, continuously ensure that we are in a state of confusion. The pre-requisite to achieving this confusion is that we be kept in a state of constant mutual fear wherein we see “others” as threatening to us whether to our property, our social status, our position at work, our position in our community, our economic position and even to our very survival.

Our societies have been engineered so that the wealthy fear the poor, the middle class fear the unionized workers, one race fears another, one religious creed fears another, and so on and so on almost ad infinitum. We compete rather than cooperate and we fear and hate rather than loving and empathizing. All our religions, all our political parties, all our beliefs have been engineered to keep us in a constant state of fear. Every society reflects in the fear of its people the inequalities and injustice of its social structure and the political and social agendas of its ruling elite.

For most people in the so called “free” countries of the western world our fear is typically of each other and of foreigners, whether immigrant or “terrorist”, but this has been changing as we have become increasingly aware of the awesome power of the state as it manifests its brutality against our protests, as it whittles away our “freedoms” and commits our nations to criminal and immoral wars and theft. In order to amass greater power for itself the state has manipulated people’s fears under the guise of the “war-on-terror”, the “war-on-drugs”, immigration and economic insecurity. Overlaying the fear is a constant barrage of conflicting information, misinformation and disinformation constructed so as to ensure that no clear picture of reality can be discerned. In a nutshell, the state has used the technique of mass Transmarginal Inhibition to render the bulk of people passive, apathetic, submissive and confused.

People who are perpetually confused are impotent and incapable of coherent collective action. The tactic has always been to divide and conquer.

There is a struggle taking place which will determine the future of this planet and the people on it. Arrayed against normal people is a pathological system dominated by psychopaths of all races, creeds and colours. These psychopaths have no purpose that normal people can properly comprehend, for their purpose is power; power for its own sake. They seek no strategic political or economic goal, there is no specific land they covet or a level of wealth which they seek, for there is not enough land nor enough wealth to satisfy them. Neither is there a limit to the suffering they will cause for they seem to revel in bloodbaths, in torture and starvation. They seek infinite control, no bargain nor parlay can assuage them, there is no treaty that can halt their rapacious advance nor law that can limit them.

All the institutions of our world, our governments, corporations and religions reflect the pathology of the psychopath. We have grown up and bring our children up in a world dominated by this pathology and these beings.

Yet the psychopath has a fundamental weakness, like any stalking predator in the wild that depends on concealment to eat: they have an overwhelming fear of exposure. It is this innate fear of exposure that dominates much of what they do and explains the immense fear and confusion that we are kept in. The fear and confusion of the world is the deliberate ploy of the psychopaths to avoid discovery.

We cannot fight the psychopaths and the diseased system they have created with weapons of war for they control the greatest war machines the world has ever known; we cannot succeed by any means other than through a simple and all powerful revolution, a revolution of truth. For truth reveals the lie and the psychopath withers in the light of truth.

The truth, as famously stated by St Paul, will also set us free. It will set us free from fear and confusion, because the truth has no political, religious or any other affiliation, it stands on its own. But finding the truth is no easy task, for it remains hidden behind veil after veil. Our task therefore is to strip away every veil without pity; especially without pity for ourselves and the warm fuzzy religious and philosophical lies we have used as wool over our eyes.

We will discover horrors about the world and about ourselves that will challenge everything we have taken for granted but if we do not have the courage to face these horrors, these truths about ourselves and our world, we will lose, and the world will sink into darkness, a darkness from which it may never recover. Psychopaths have dominated the world for millennia, but now they have the power to destroy this world and no capacity to understand what that really means. As Andrew M. Lobaczewski put it in Political Ponerology, “Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing.”

When we strip away the lies, the system we find ourselves captive in does not resemble the world in which we thought we lived. All the boundaries and defining features of the world that we are conditioned to believe in are false illusions simply created as the framework for control. For those who truly run the world there are no boundaries, for them there are no nation states, no laws, no morals; there is just power.

Money and the economy are mere tools for the attaining of power so that everything we observe in the field of economics and money is simply part of the perpetual garnering of power. Yet we have to understand that the system, the Matrix, is not something that we will one day suddenly find and be able to point to and say “see, there it is”, for it surrounds us; all we see are at best mere reflections of what is happening at levels which we cannot penetrate.

With this in mind, let us return to the matter of confusion. It seems to us that the immense confusion surrounding the economic crisis is a key to perceiving the Matrix. It seems to us that those that run the world, the Managers, are relying on this confusion to ensure that we take a particular path which is to their advantage. We think that the path they are sending us down is one of near total economic collapse resulting in the breakdown of the existing social order and the imposition of overt military dictatorship. That is the obvious end result of what they are doing and thus is their intent.

This is precisely the scenario envisaged in a monograph from the Strategic Studies Institute in a November 2008 entitled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development,” in which it is stated:-

Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security. Deliberate employment of weapons of mass destruction or other catastrophic capabilities, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters are all paths to disruptive domestic shock.

It is also the reason that in the UK the Metropolitan Police have begun a propaganda war against the people of the UK when they had the Guardian newspaper report:-

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police’s public order branch, told the Guardian that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.

He said that banks, particularly those that still pay large bonuses despite receiving billions in taxpayer money, had become “viable targets”. So too had the headquarters of multinational companies and other financial institutions in the City which are being blamed for the financial crisis.

Hartshorn, who receives regular intelligence briefings on potential causes of civil unrest, said the mood at some demonstrations had changed recently, with activists increasingly “intent on coming on to the streets to create public disorder”.

The warning comes in the wake of often violent protests against the handling of the economy across Europe. In recent weeks Greek farmers have blocked roads over falling agricultural prices, a million workers in France joined demonstrations to demand greater protection for jobs and wages and Icelandic demonstrators have clashed with police in Reykjavik.

In the UK hundreds of oil refinery workers mounted wildcat strikes last month over the use of foreign workers.

Intelligence reports suggest that “known activists” are also returning to the streets, and police claim they will foment unrest. “Those people would be good at motivating people, but they haven’t had the ‘footsoldiers’ to actually carry out [protests],” Hartshorn said. “Obviously the downturn in the economy, unemployment, repossessions, changes that. Suddenly there is the opportunity for people to mass protest.”

It is obvious that in the US and the UK those that control the military, police and intelligence apparatus are seeking widespread conflict. They are simply preparing the popular mind for the violence that they themselves plan to unleash upon us. This violence will be used to justify dictatorship, civil repression, mass arrests and incarceration without trial.

Douglas Reed, in From Smoke to Smother (1948) foresaw this exact scenario when he wrote of the World Dictatorship that he saw arising under the guise of the United Nations implemented through ’emergency powers’, ‘labour direction’ and ‘bread rationing’.

We have the ’emergency powers’ in place now: the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act etc in the US, the Terrorism Acts in the UK (to name but a few). Soon we will have ‘labour direction’ as the economy crumbles in ruins and labouring for the state or via the state for the global corporations will become a necessity in the face of starvation. In due course, with the breakdown in global trade and social structure there will no doubt be ‘bread rationing’ of some sort. Whether it will truly be rationing or rather the simple expedient of starvation of those that do not bow down before the might of the US and Israeli empire.

Yet we now see that the United Nations may have been a foil all along. For 50 years, Christian fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists in the US and elsewhere, have been ranting about the New World Order under the United Nations while the US was portrayed as the bastion of freedom and the only power that can stand against the UN and the World. This has rendered those who see a great deal incapable of seeing where the real danger lies.

Even Douglas Reed saw the United Nations as the supra-national body to impose the first World Dictatorship and how wrong was he when one looks at the invasion of Iraq based on wholly imaginary weapons, the bullying of Iran for being in the way of the global hegemony of the US and Israel while the barefaced genocide perpetrated by Israel goes unremarked let alone addressed by an impotent United Nations?

So too will we be faced with one or more supra-national bodies based, as the United Nations was, on the justification of “never again”. This time the “never again” is economic but will become military on the heels of social unrest and state violence . The same lies will be trotted out to justify these institutions now as in the 1940’s and yet again these will be foils behind which the real rulers of the world, the US and Israel, will hide.

The Managers have engineered this crisis, its form, scope and magnitude such that there is nothing that our governments could do, within the constraints imposed upon them, even if they had the vision and understanding to comprehend the trap we are all in.

The banking crisis has been expertly engineered through the transformation of banking into a high risk greed driven casino supported by the manipulated absence of regulation and excess of money supply. The nature of the banking system is such that it would inevitably lead to the debt driven asset price bubble that has made prisoners of debt out of millions and slaves out of billions. Years of banking merger upon banking merger resulted in a small number of banks coming to dominate the globe with the inevitable result that the very existence of the entire system now rests upon their shoulders.

Yet these banks were deliberately allowed to be run in a cavalier and immoral fashion with precious little proper oversight. Similarly, the world has become dominated by a small number of global corporations that control our access to energy, food, and the other essentials, and non-essentials, of life. Our political systems have become hostage to the interests of these banking and corporate empires, our governments so dominated by them that the US government has been referred to as “Government Sachs”, a reference to the number of positions in the US government held by Goldman Sachs people.

Our national governments are now simply puppets of the banks and corporations that dominate the globe who are in turn the puppets of the hidden Managers, their rule imposed through military might and the police state.

This was all a trap, designed to lead to exactly this situation from which there is no apparent escape. Our political leaders, our civil servants, our leading bankers and corporate managers are all the products of a system that has provided them with a framework of reality which is false, limited and engineered such that the psychopathic rise to the top and the non-psychopathic become so hopelessly infected that they might as well be psychopathic. Their beliefs about the world are so diseased that they justify to themselves the rape and destruction of entire peoples and nations and will justify to themselves the repression and destruction of their own people. Yet it is to these people that we are told we must defer in leading us out of the mess that they have created.

The vast majority of these people did not consciously create this mess, they simply participated in its creation because that is how they are, it reflects their nature, they can be and could do nothing else.

But behind them lie those who are very conscious of the actions they take and who have a very clear and specific agenda. The way these Managers work is simple, they understand the nature of psychopaths, for that is their nature, and the weaknesses of normal people and they play them. They establish environments in which psychopaths will flourish and in which the weaknesses of normal people such as greed and avarice will become dominant. The free market capitalist system is just such an environment; an environment easily manipulated by the Managers to create whatever result they wish.

The result they desired and have crystalised is the collapse of the system in exactly the manner we see; the inevitable scrambling by their minions for ‘solutions’, which are themselves part of the plan, including the setting up of the simultaneous pillaging of national treasuries across the globe in a manner designed to extract maximum wealth, exponentially increase debt and create figures of hatred, in the banks and bankers, for the masses to direct their anger at.

Each piece on the chessboard is there for a reason. The political leaders have been chosen for their traits whether it is Obama’s apparent charisma in contrast to Bush, Brown’s surliness or Sarkozy’s limitless arrogance. The banks have been set up to fail and then seek public money to the inevitable disgust and anger of the masses. The war machines have been battle hardened, the military and police personnel conditioned in the “war-on-terror, there’s a terrorist in every person” mentality, the people bred fearful and confused. The mass of people have been reduced to an ignorant and confused rabble, easily directed, manipulated into violence or submission exactly as they Managers wish. At no time can the Managers be identified for they are never on the chessboard.

For many the idea that our entire world is a giant chessboard is too much. These people fall back on the illusions of the Matrix always seeking a more comfortable, a more reassuring explanation. As Douglas Reed said, “Men are quick to tremble before imaginary dangers and slow to see the real ones”.

We are being driven towards economic apocalypse, societal collapse and totalitarian dictatorship; it is as simple as that. Denial makes victims, facing reality makes the people of the future.

Our problem is civil obedience

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That’s our problem.”

Howard Zinn, from ‘Failure to Quit’

EVIL are these means and avowed ends

EVIL are these means and avowed ends

Carolyn Bennett, thepeoplesvoice.org

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Feb 24, 2009

In a sense there are only Means and means must be judged against firm and impartial standards of morality and legality. If an End though a means is envisioned as an end, it too must stand and be judged impartially as moral or immoral, just or unjust, legal or illegal, humane or inhumane. Ends contrived by men never justify means. Given this—

The world watches Israel as it enters another corrupt phase in a sixty-year era of corruption—means upon means. Thomas Paine said “A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men” (and women). In its fraudulent cause Israel has caused deaths and displacements of hundreds of thousands of people who never harmed or threatened Jews.

In its 23-day reign of rabid violence (on top of continuous aggression and occupation) that left 1,330 people (among them 400 children) massacred and 5,450 wounded, Israel has left two thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million people homelessness.

New refugees number 30,000 that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the UN refugee agency are scrambling to house in 700 tents.

Do you know (Are you acquainted with) any human beings who live in “tents” or have lived in “camps” for 60 years —under critically worsening conditions?

People in the United States and Europe think of tents and camps—if they think of them as all—as something they might sleep in on summer outings or vacation safaris—never as the sole, the only, form of housing day in and day out; housing handed out to you by some aid group because you are prohibited by an occupying nuclear power from obtaining the materials and building your own home and living in it in peace and permanence on your own land.

Israel’s sixty-one year reign of terror is said to have displaced “more than 700,000 Palestinians from their lands.” The Palestinians remember this as “the Nakba”—the “Catastrophe.”

“A good End cannot sanctify evil Means,” writes the Quaker; “nor must we ever do Evil, that Good may come of it.” This is decidedly true as far as it goes. But of Israel together with the assent of leading Western nations, their means and ends concerning Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims and their lands and lives are Evil—through and through, bad to the bone—and the cry in outrage persists in demanding justice before a demonstrably impartial court of law.

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Blog: todaysmissingnews http://todaysmissingnews.blogspot.com Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is a writer and independent journalist:
author of Women’s Work and Words Altering World Order: Alternatives to Spin and Inhumanity of Men and other books available online from publishers, at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Gaza, Dresden, Hamburg: Legality of targeting civilians?

Gaza, Dresden, Hamburg: Legality of targeting civilians?

By Kamal Dib

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Feb 24, 2009

Photos and reports on Gaza on TV, in newspapers and Internet websites, remind one of German cities, such as Hamburg and Dresden, following the Allied bombing during World War II. Scenes of destruction in Gaza streets and neighborhoods in 2009 resemble those of Beirut’s southern suburbs in 2006. In both events, totally or partially destroyed buildings and infrastructure, and slaughtered civilians were standard outcomes of Israeli attacks. Many late-night TV documentaries of World War II battles show German cities, flattened by Allied bombings in 1942-45, shell-shocked civilians, wandering among the ruins, looking for family members if they are still alive, and searching for morsels of food and shreds of clothing to stay alive in the bitter cold winter. Some scenes from these German cities showed body parts (hands, legs, heads) extending from underneath the rubble, an image that also came up in the aftermath of the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatilla in 1982, following the occupation of Beirut by Israeli forces.

Legal experts may say that bombings of civilians in Germany and Japan during World War II have preceded the Geneva Conventions (1949) on the treatment of civilians in war zones or under occupation, and that after 1949 there was no excuse for countries not to respect modern rules of conduct. The Geneva Conventions (http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm) made it illegal to target civilians, as targeting civilians by warring armies or paramilitary groups is considered a breach of international law and a serious human rights abuse, let alone the illegal use of weaponry, that is meant for long-range battles between armies, against civilian concentrations in residential areas in short-range bombing (which Israel casually did in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories).

It is true that most media outlets around the world, including news agencies and satellite TV, are preoccupied with civilian suffering in modern military conflicts, and that civil society organizations issue condemnations and launch demonstrations against targeting civilians.

But is there evidence that international law was applied and perpetrators of war crimes were brought to justice? Facts since World War II, and up to the attack on Gaza in 2009, confirm that civilians were and are still “legitimate” targets, in wars and conflicts where the superior side included the Western alliance or the United States alone, Israel and Russia (invasion of Afghanistan in 1978). The US has used nuclear weapons against Japan in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Both cities were flattened and hundreds of thousands of civilians perished. After World War II, the US and several of its Allies waged multiple wars, alone or collectively, in Korea, in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos from the late 1950s till the early 1970s. Other wars also took place after World War II and produced shocking scenes of civilian causalities.

On its own, Israel committed a long list of massacres against the civilian population in Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt between the 1930s and 2009. In 1982, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon resulted in the murder of 20,000 civilians. The recent attack on Gaza resulted in the death of 1,400 people, the wounding of 5,000, and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of civilians, with untold damage to the civilian infrastructure, to the economy and to residential neighborhoods. These outcomes were denounced by civil society organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and by conscientious media outlets, but rarely by governments.

The attacks against civilians in Gaza were clearly in violation of international law and of basic human rights, but the Israelis and their Arab and Western sponsors knew that world-wide public anger will pass and threats of suing Israeli soldiers and their commanders and political overseers are just that – threats. And then life will go on. This was proven by the rush of European leaders to Israel to offer their services to Israel to make sure that Gaza never rises again against the 40-year occupation, or by the fact that the new US administration has not said a word about Gaza’s agony and death toll, as the world opinion has expected from the new US president, Barack Obama.

During World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were targeted by Allied bombs; more than one third was almost entirely flattened. This bombing killed over 600,000 German civilians, destroyed 3.5 homes, and left 7 million Germans homeless. For many decades, this subject occupied little space in German publications, public discourse or popular culture. That the victims were civilians being targeted in the time of war was put aside when the victorious Allies established courts to bring the Nazi regime to justice, but no Allied soldiers were brought to accountability for their actions. It mattered little what crimes the Allies, including Britain and Stalinist Russia, have committed against the German civilian population between 1943 and 1949.

The British Royal Air force alone dropped one million tons of bombs on Germany cities in 1942-1945. After the war, there were 31.1 cubic meters of rubble for every person in Cologne (Kšln) and 42.8 cubic meters for every inhabitant in Dresden. Similar devastation was to hit Beirut’s southern suburbs in 2006 and Gaza in 2009, where the Israeli massive war machine turned urban areas into heaps of concrete and steel.

That there was no political or military logic that dictated the bombing of German cities in 1942-1945, was lost on historians, politicians, lawmakers and judges till today. First, how can a military strategy, directed primarily against civilian population, be defended morally or by the laws of war (the same question goes to Israeli strategists)?

The British government has approved such bombing in February 1942, “to destroy the morale of the enemy civilian population and, in particular, of the industrial workers”. However, as many records have shown, even by the spring of 1944, “it was emerging that despite incessant air raids the moral of the German population was obviously unbroken, while industrial production was impaired only marginally at best, and the end of the war had not come a day closer” (cited in W.G. Sebald, The Natural History of Destruction). However, the British still needed to continue the bombing to boost public morale at home and claim that Britain is still capable of hitting the Nazi homeland.

It is common knowledge that the Germans fought on every square inch on their territory and that Berlin had to be taken street by street from the German defenders by the invading Allied Forces. Bombing German cities did not help the Allied war effort and killing civilians and destroying cities were unnecessary whether back in the 1940s or today in Gaza or Beirut. This brings us back to the innermost reprehensible principle of every war, which is to aim for as wholesale an annihilation of the enemy with his dwellings, his history, and his natural environment as can possibly be achieved. How can one explain that in 2009, a country (Israel) can still bomb hospitals, schools, United Nations relief buildings, and over-crowded residential areas, and still get away with it? Isn’t this enough proof that the most basic instincts of humanity’s dark side still prevail relations among nations (which are supposed to be civilized)?

A Lebanese poet (Khalil Gibran) once said: “Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills? … where the murder of one person is a heinous crime, but the mass-murder of an entire people is somewhat an excusable act”. How true these words are today when the world provides funds and human resources to bring individuals to international tribunals at The Hague for the murder of one individual, while little is done to apply international law when 1.5 million people in Gaza were bombed for four weeks without anyone raising a finger.

Kamal Dib is a Canadian economist with research interest in the Middle East and an observer of German culture (kamaldib@videotron.ca)

Pakistan army and ISI in CIA’s firing line

Pakistan army and ISI in CIA’s firing line

By Asif Haroon Raja

Feb 25, 2009

It is now getting clear as to why FATA has been declared most dangerous place on earth. After making series of allegations that FATA is the main breeding ground where militants and suicide bombers are trained for launching into Afghanistan; where the entire senior leadership of Al-Qaeda and Taliban is housed; and from where possible attack on US homeland would take off, so far not a single training camp has been located in FATA, nor any high-profile militant leader nabbed or killed. This is in spite of continuous hovering of spy planes and next door US-NATO troops equipped with latest state-of-the-art surveillance and detection gadgets breathing over Pakistan’s neck, and RAW-CIA-Mossad agents having infiltrated into FATA in big numbers.

If CIA controlled drones can hit suspected houses, madrassas and Hujras based on intelligence, why have they been unable to detect so-called training sites and the top wanted leaders? Why have the drones not taken a pot shot at Baitullah Mehsud or Maulana Fazlullah if the US considers Pakistani Taliban a threat? The fact is that whatever has been said about FATA is pack of white lies uttered with sinister designs. All sorts of harrowing stories were cooked up to justify drone attacks as well as ground raids in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt. Blatant lies are similar to the WMD falsehood to justify invasion of Iraq. Why not Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan or for that matter India which has become the hub-centre of extremism and terrorism been added to the list of most dangerous places?

Other than the militants, which the US is keen to eliminate, Pakistan army and the ISI also continue to remain in CIA’s firing line. CIA is deliberately leaking out stories in US leading newspapers while CNN, Fox News drum beats scandalous news on electronic media to malign the two institutions. The allegations made against the two institutions range from collaboration with the Taliban and playing a double game. The themes played are: One, the army is either incapable of dealing with militants or is soft towards them; Two, the army has surrendered FATA and Swat to the Taliban; Three, the army uses the Taliban as a weapon to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan; Four, the army is not under civil government control; Five, the ISI trains, equips and launches militants into Pakistan to hit Afghan-Nato targets.

In order to nullify the negative impact of deadly drone attacks which have killed mostly innocent men, women and children, USA has launched a bizarre campaign in its bid to convince Pakistanis and the world that drones are flown from air bases in Baluchistan and not from Afghanistan. Earlier on it was stated that there was a tacit understanding between Gen Musharraf and USA and that Zardari on his visit to Washington had given his blessing to continue drone attacks. It was also said that missile attacks were conducted without informing Pakistan because of strong suspicion that the army and the ISI forewarned the Taliban about the intended attack.

David E Sanger and Ron Suskind, both from USA have belatedly come up with news that Gen Musharraf had played a double game. In his book ‘Inheritance’, Sanger claims that he learnt about the ISI and Pakistani Generals protecting the Taliban by listening to the highly classified tapes in which telephonic conversations of top Pakistani Generals with the then ISI chief were recorded. Who will buy this crap for everyone knows that Generals use highly secured communication system which cannot be breached. More so, why the hell they should be discussing Taliban over phones? Diane Feinstein, chairperson of US Senate Committee on Intelligence came out with a startling disclosure that US drones were operating form certain ISI bases within Pakistan and that USAF and US army had nothing to do with it. The ISI was deliberately added to generate feelings of hatred against it. Who doesn’t know that the ISI do not control any bases and that drones are flown from Bagram air base in Afghanistan? It is also a known fact that Shamsi and Dalbaldin air bases are utilized by CIA and FBI for covert operations in Baluchistan and Iran.

The CIA and ISI have always enjoyed cordial relations. The Afghan war against the Soviets brought the two very close to each other. This closeness got reinvigorated when Pakistan volunteered to become the frontline state against war on terror. The two sailed along smoothly till as late as 2007 after which there was a sudden shift in CIA’s attitude. This change in attitude occurred after ISI learnt about CIA playing a double game in FATA and Baluchistan by providing all out assistance to RAW to destabilize the marked regions. When ISI became cautious and started to take protective measures, it irked CIA and started to distance itself. CIA’s relations with Pak army and the ISI became strained when the army-ISI outspread details of drug trade in Afghanistan in which CIA, RAW and Mossad were deeply involved. This disclosure with proofs was made when the USA had begun to tantalize Pak army and blamed it for its woes in Afghanistan. Pakistan argued that one of the principle reasons for USA not being able to control militancy in Afghanistan was the unchecked drug trade which was also a source of income for the militants to fund their militancy. It transpired that CIA assisted by India was sponsoring multi-billon dollar Afghan drug trade. The duo banks on $3 trillion worth of drug money each year, generated through heroin production and its subsequent sale across the world. Drug money is used by CIA for carrying out covert operations in the world. RAW utilizes drug money for running tens of training camps, for recruiting and equipping agents and suicide bombers and funding dissident elements within Pakistan.

Exposure of this racket angered CIA and relations of the two soured. Matters worsened when the Indian defence attaché serving in Indian Embassy in Kabul got killed on 7 July 2008 suicide bombing. He was a lynchpin arranging drug deals and hence very dear to the CIA. RAW convinced CIA that the attack had been perpetrated by ISI. It infuriated CIA so intensely that it vowed to teach ISI a lesson. We remember how Deputy Director CIA and Adm. Mullen came fuming to Pakistan and expressed their deepest concern. Ever since, CIA is not missing any opportunity to fire salvos to defame and axe this premier organization which provides first line of defence to Pakistan.

Otherwise too, both CIA and RAW consider the army and ISI as the only bottlenecks which are blocking their route to denuclearize Pakistan. Among the many conditions attached to Benazir return to Pakistan was to turn the army into a counter terrorism force and to bring the ISI and the nuclear program under civilian control. A serious attempt was made in August last year when the ISI had nearly been placed under Ministry of Interior. CIA was part of the gory drama of Mumbai in which the army and ISI in particular were blamed. The CIA not only exercises control over US media and think tanks which it uses for propaganda purposes and for forming perceptions, it has also cultivated intellectuals, writers, journalists, English newspapers and TV channels in Pakistan and uses Pakistani brigade to supplement its propaganda warfare. Among the latter category some are based in foreign countries but subscribe their articles in Pakistan’s leading English newspapers. Of late this brigade has become very active and is parroting dictated themes with greatest vigor.

There is no denying the fact that the CIA used drug money to finance war against the Soviets in the 1980s. Earlier on it had also used drug money in Nicaragua in 1979-80 to finance Contras. By the close of Afghan war in 1989, Afghanistan was the second biggest opium producing country in the world. It was almost cleansed of the curse of drugs by the Taliban during their rule from 1996 to 2001.

It has now been converted into the largest heroin producing state in the world. Hamid Karzai brother Izzatullah Wasifi is the biggest heroin producer and there are dozens of heroin factories established across the country and run by Wasifi and other Afghan warlords. Ahmad Wali Karzai in Kandahar handles all exports of heroin to Europe through Turkmenistan. The 7 July attack on Indian Embassy had been masterminded by Wasifi once he learnt that the Indian officer was betraying him to US Drug Enforcement Agency.

It is surprising that neither CIA has ever recommended to US government to launch a crackdown on heroin factories that finance militants and warlords nor the US military command or NATO command in Kabul have raised this issue. It seems as if all are party to the drug game. Without Pentagon and CIA blessing it is not possible to export thousands of tons of heroin. Reportedly, even US military cargo planes are in use to shift heroin and on occasions coffin boxes were used. Possibility of NATO countries and Afghan army and police indulging in this lucrative business cannot be ruled out. It is to be seen whether the hard taskmaster Holbrook would be able sort this critical matter without which any amount of troop surge will not produce any tangible results.

Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig and a defence analyst.

– Asian Tribune –

Pak Spies: Drones Destabilizing Qaeda – and Our Gov’t

Pak Spies: Drones Destabilizing Qaeda – and Our Gov’t

By Noah Shachtman EmailFebruary 25, 2009 | 11:43:52 AMCategories: Drones, Perils of Pakistan

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U.S. unmanned aircraft attacks may be decimating al Qaeda’s ranks in Pakistan. But, if the killer drone pilots aren’t careful, they could wind up undermining the Islamabad government, too.

That’s the message Pakistani’s spy service is trying to deliver to the American government, through the New York Times. Officials from the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, briefed the paper on the impact of the robo-plane attacks. “The officials acknowledge that the strikes and raids by the Pakistani military are proving effective, having killed as many as 80 Qaeda fighters in the past year. But they express growing alarm that the drone strikes in particular are having an increasingly destabilizing effect on their country.”

Pakistani intelligence and military officials say there is no argument that Qaeda fighters must be hunted down; they provide targeting information to the CIA, which remotely pilots the drones. But they complain that the missile strikes cause too many civilian casualties and that they hand the militants a propaganda windfall.

We know that the Air Force takes all kinds of precautions, when it plots out drone strikes on targets in Afghanistan. Does the CIA take those same precautions, when it unleashes the killer drones in Pakistan?

It’s more than a little ironic for the ISI to be carping about unintended consequences, of course. These are the guys that helped create and nurture the Taliban, after all. But that doesn’t mean the spy service is wrong to worry about its once-controllable creation is turning on its masters. “It’s morphing into a monster and growing uglier,” one senior Pakistani intelligence official tells the Times.

Meanwhile, the public outcry over the drones continues. There were protests against the unmanned strikes earlier this week in Karachi. In Islamabad, the News of Pakistan reports, “the parliamentary committee on national security on Tuesday urged the government to use all options to stop the drone attacks on Pakistani territory.”

[Photo: USAF]

Tracking Down Gaza War’s Deadly, Mysterious Cubes

Tracking Down Gaza War’s Deadly, Mysterious Cubes

By David Hambling EmailFebruary 24, 2009 | 11:21:49 AMCategories: Ammo and Munitions, Missiles, Sabras

Cube2_2 An unidentified weapon packed with strange “cube shaped shrapnel” killed or wounded civilians in the recent Gaza war, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

Amnesty’s report on weapons used by both sides in Gaza finds much to condemn. The group is particularly hard on the U.S., having found numerous remains of American munitions — including white phosphorus shells from Pine Bluff Arsenal, and a Hellfire missile made in Orlando. Another weapon which bothers Amnesty is a mysterious munition, filled with cubic particles.

“Amnesty International delegates in Gaza also found evidence of the use of a new type of missile, seemingly launched from unmanned drones, which explodes large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes, each between 2 and 4 mm square in size. This purpose-made shrapnel can penetrate even thick metal doors and many were seen by Amnesty International’s delegates embedded deep in concrete walls. They appear designed to cause maximum injury

The signature of these new missiles, in addition to the deadly tiny metal cubes, is a small and deep hole in the ground (about 10 cm or less in diameter and up to several meters in depth) [emphasis mine]

While it’s impossible to say for certain, we can make a very educated guess that where the shrapnel came from -– and also evaluate the claim about maximum injury.

One likely candidate is the Spike missile, made by the Israeli company Rafael (not to be confused with the U.S. Navy’s Spike missile we featured previously) . Originally designed as an anti-tank missile, it is comes in several versions — including a man-portable one and a vehicle-mounted version. It has also been shown fitted to the Israeli Heron drone. A naval version is featured in this video, being used against targets in Gaza.

One interesting feature of the Spike is that the latest version features “fire and forget plus”: a trailing fiber-optic cable relays video back to the operator, allowing them to see from the missile’s point of view and switch targets. When used in this mode, it performs a pop-up maneuver, giving a better view and diving on the target from above. A promotional video here shows how this approach can be used to attack a target out of sight behind a ridge.

Marc Garlaso of Human Rights Watch previously noted the Spike’s use in Gaza, describing it as “a special missile that is made to make very high-speed turns, so if you have a target that is moving and running away from you, you can chase him with the weapon.”

Like virtually all anti-tank missiles, the Spike has a shaped charge warhead, which produces a narrow jet of metal at very high velocity. This is excellent for slicing through armor, but does little damage to anything not immediately in front of the missile.  Blast alone is not an effective killer for a small warhead. To turn an anti-tank missile into a general purpose one capable of damaging other targets (such as people or soft vehicles), the answer is invariably to add a “fragmentation sleeve.”

This is wrapped around the warhead to produce lethal fragments, which are much more deadly than blast alone. The procedure was done to turn the anti-tank Hellfire into the general-purpose AGM-114K Hellfire, and to transform the Viper-Strike from an anti-armor weapons to anti-everything. The tungsten cubes in Viper Strike weigh 15-30 grains, which would correspond to an three to four-and-a-half millimeter cube, approximately. In other words, right in the range of Amnesty’s mysterious weapon.

However, the Israeli military is not known to have Viper Strikes in its arsenal. But they do have Spike missiles — which could have been outfitted with a fragmentation sleeve.

As the U.S. Army illustration (above) shows, the fragmentation is enhanced by embossing — cutting grooves into the sleeve. But the best method is to pre-form the fragments, typically producing tiny cubes like those shown. The cube shape is not particularly vicious; that’s just how the manufacturing process works. And without any kind of fragments the weapons would be far less effective. (Of course you can pack warheads around with ball-bearings or other shrapnel — like Hamas did, with its rockets.)

The end result is a missile which hits the ground almost vertically after the pop-up, leaving a narrow deep hole as described, and spraying the area with small cubic shrapnel. This is not some specific Israeli invention and it is far from the only nation armed with this type of weapon. It’s really just another version of Henry Shrapnel’s bursting ammunition which has been increasing casualties for over two hundred years. But unless it gets banned like nerve gas and dumdum bullets it will be very much a part of warfare for more centuries to come.

Perhaps what is more alarming is the number of civilian deaths that Amnesty documents related to the new weapon. This type of ultra-precise strike capability is supposed to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties. But, as with the “focused lethality” DIME weapon, this does not seem to be happening. So we turn once again to Garlasco’s comment, from an earlier conflict:

“It is unfortunate that these weapons are being developed specifically for use in densely populated areas which may negate the intended effect.”

[Illustration: U.S. Army]

Zionists Of America Freak-Out! Want Freeman Appointment Rescinded

“…[Israel’s] inability to find peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs is the driving factor in the region’s radicalization and anti-Americanism … Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace … For the past half decade Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle …”

ZOA wants Freeman appointment rescinded

The Zionist Organization of America is urging President Obama to rescind the reported appointment of Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council. Here’s their lengthy press release:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed shock and deep concern at President Barack Obama’s invitation to anti-Israeli former
diplomat and pro-Arab lobbyist Chas W. Freeman Jr. to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and has called upon the President to
rescind the invitation. The Council has a strong influence on the content of intelligence briefings presented to the President and the Council Chairman is often called to brief the President directly.

Freeman has served, among other positions, as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1989-92) and, since 1997, President of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC)(formerly known as the American Arab Affairs Council), a lobbying group for the Arab world. MEPC owes its endowment to the “generosity” of the Saudi monarch. In 1994, Saudi Arabia awarded Freeman the Order of ‘King Abd Al-Aziz’ 1st Class (Diplomatic Service).

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has observed that, “Freeman is well-known for his hostility toward Israel <http://www.mepc.org/whats/mpc.asp&gt; , but what’s more substantively troubling about this report is the obvious inappropriateness of hiring a well-known advocate for the interests of Middle Eastern autocracies to produce national intelligence estimates for the Obama Administration …it seems inappropriate to give the job to a Saudi sympathizer as well.” (Jeffrey Goldberg, ‘Saudi Advocate to Run the National Intelligence Council? <http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/02/saudi_advocate_to_run_the_nati.php&gt; ,’ February 23, 2009).

The Middle East Policy Council headed for the past eleven years by Freeman publishes a quarterly journal, Middle East Policy, which has been filled with articles and editorial notes fervently hostile to Israel. In its Fall 2008 issue, the editor, Anne Joyce perpetuated the veiled anti-Semitic slander <http://www.mepc.org/journal_vol15/EdNote.pdf>  that the Iraq war was waged on behalf of Israel. In its Summer 2007 issue, she invested Israel
with Nazi-like characteristics <http://www.mepc.org/journal_vol14/0707_ednote.asp>  by describing Israel’s 1967 capture of the Golan Heights as a “Blitzkrieg.” In its Fall 2006 issue, Middle East Policy published a revised, updated, and unabridged version of the anti-Semitic assault on the pro-Israel
advocacy community, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,’ about which Freeman boasted
saying, “No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it. So we continue to do important things that are not done by anybody else, which I think fill some gaps.” (‘Building Understanding: The Role of the MEPC: A Conversation with Chas W. Freeman, Jr.,’ Saudi-US Relations Information Service <http://www.saudi-us-relations.org/articles/2006/interviews/060920-freeman-interview.html&gt; ,’ September 20, 2006). The ZOA critiqued in detail the manifold errors, distortions and omissions that disfigure the
Walt-Mearsheimer tract at the time, which can be read here <http://www.zoa.org/sitedocuments/pressrelease_view.asp?pressreleaseID=777&gt; ).

Some recent statements by Chas W. Freeman:

*        “As long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected. Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent … And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis.” (Remarks to the 14th Annual US-Arab Policymakers Conference The National Council on US-Arab Relations <http://www.mepc.org/whats/conf.remarks.pdf&gt; , Washington, D.C., September 12, 2005).

*        “…[Israel’s] inability to find peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs is the driving factor in the region’s radicalization and anti-Americanism … Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace … For the past half decade Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle … The suspension of the independent exercise
of American judgment about what best serves our interests as well as those of Israelis and Arabs has caused the Arabs to lose confidence in the United States as a peace partner … By sad contrast, the American decision to let Israel call the shots in the Middle East has revealed how frightened Israelis now are of their Arab neighbors and how reluctant this fear has made them to risk respectful coexistence with the other peoples of their region … [the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative] would exchange Arab acceptance of Israel and a secure place for the Jewish state in the region for Israeli recognition of Palestinians as human beings with equal weight in the eyes of God, entitled to the same rights of democratic self-determination … Despite the fact that such a peace is so obviously also in Israel’s vital and moral interests, history and the Israeli response to date both strongly suggest that without some tough love from Americans, including especially Israel’s American coreligionists, Israel will not risk the uncertainties of peace. Instead, it will persist in the belief, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that it can gain safety through the officially sanctioned assassination of potential opponents, the terrorization of Arab civilians, and the cluster bombing of neighbors rather than negotiation with them. These policies have not worked; they will not work. But unless they are changed, the Arab peace plan will exceed its shelf life, and Arabs will revert to their previous views that Israel is an ethnomaniacal society with which it is impossible for others to coexist and that peace can be achieved only by Israel’s eventual annihilation, much as the Crusader kingdoms that once occupied Palestine were eventually destroyed. Americans need to be clear about the consequences of continuing our current counterproductive approaches to security in the Middle East. We have paid heavily and often in treasure in the past for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel’s approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home. We are now paying with the lives of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on battlefields in several regions of the realm of Islam, with more said by our government’s neoconservative mentors to be in prospect.” (‘Remarks to the 15th Annual US-Arab Policymakers Conference <http://www.mepc.org/whats/mpc.asp&gt; ,’ Washington, D.C., 31 October 2006).

*        “the problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region – the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it. Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation … American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian
retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel’s American backers as against Israel itself. Under the
circumstances, such retaliation – whatever form it takes – will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many
outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture. The Palestine
problem cannot be solved by the use of force; it requires much more than the diplomacy-free foreign policy we have practiced since 9/11. Israel is not only not managing this problem; it is severely aggravating it …Israel has shown – not surprisingly – that, if we offer nothing but unquestioning support and political protection for whatever it does, it will feel no incentive to pay attention to either our interests or our advice. Hamas is showing that if we offer it nothing but unreasoning hostility and condemnation, it will only stiffen its position and seek allies among our enemies … There will be no negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, no peace, and no reconciliation between them – and there will be no reduction in anti-American terrorism – until we
have the courage to act on our interests.” (‘Can American Leadership Be Restored <http://www.mepc.org/whats/usleadership.asp&gt; ?’ Remarks to the
Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs Washington, D.C., 24 May 2007).

*        “… we embraced Israel’s enemies as our own; they responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies. We abandoned the role
of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel’s efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize ever more Arab land for its colonists … Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience – of humiliation, dislocation, and death – to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq.”(‘Diplomacy in the Age of Terror, Remarks to the Pacific Council on International Policy The American Academy of Diplomacy <http://www.mepc.org/whats/100407.asp&gt; ,’ Los
Angeles, October 4, 2007).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are naturally appalled, as are a large number of American Jewish and pro-Israeli groups, that a lobbyist for Saudi and other autocratic Arab interests as well as someone so obviously brimming with hostility against the Jewish state and its supporters should have been invited to occupy this senior intelligence position within the Obama Administration.

“The statements we have cited clearly display Mr. Freeman’s animus and malignant hostility to Israel.

“After Israel recognized the PLO, agreed to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), gave away half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza to Palestinian control, as well as disbursing funds, assets and even arms to the PA, and offered statehood in almost all of the disputed territories, only to receive more terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder in return, Freeman has the gall to assert that Israel has not
acted to achieve peace.

“Freeman’s words explicitly justify Palestinian terrorism as reasonable behavior in response to what he calls the “inherently violent” presence of Jews living and building communities in Judea and Samaria. This is nothing less than endorsement of the racist Palestinian agenda that regards the presence of even a single Jew in Judea and Samaria or in a future Palestinian state as unacceptable. Imagine what Freeman would say
if it were Israeli policy that all of Israel be forcibly depopulated of Arabs.

“Freeman’s detestation of Israel is evident in his Orwellian language. About a Palestinian polity that insists on the expulsion of every last Jew from a Palestinian state, he has not a word of criticism. But about democratic Israel, which has 20 percent Arab citizenry, complete freedom of religion and full Arab participation in the legislative and judicial arms of government, he speaks of an ‘ethnomaniacal state.’ We note that Freeman has not criticized Saudi Arabia, with whom he retains ties and from whom he accepted in 1994 the Order of ‘King Abd Al-Aziz’ 1st Class (Diplomatic Service), for its complete suppression of freedom of religion, extending even to prohibition on the holding of even private church services among Westerners in the country, the lack of basic rights for women, the promotion of extreme Wahhabi Islamist doctrine, or the routine ban on entry of Jews to the country

“Freeman’s other Orwellian, flat-earth statements about ‘Palestinian democracy’ which he claims Israel seeks to ‘smother,’ or alleged seizure of land for ‘colonists’ are a good indication of his malicious hostility to Israel. In no other case could one imagine Freeman having the temerity to claim that a polity like the PA, in which someone who denounced suicide bombings as a moral obscenity would be strung up and lynched, is a functioning democracy. In no other case could one imagine Freeman referring to a ‘democracy’ when speaking of a regime that, like the PA, incites hatred of Jews and glorifies suicide terrorism in its controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps.

“We are appalled and perturbed that President Obama has turned to this clear apologist for Arab autocracies, facilitator of anti-Semitic smears and vicious defamer of Israel when seeking someone to occupy a senior appointment in our intelligence community. Mistakes occur in government all the time and the correct response must be to acknowledge and fix them. We therefore call upon President Obama to rescind this invitation to Chas W. Freeman.”

Democracy doesn’t mean a hoot to us: Philip Agee (CIA)

We wanted a terror campaign: Howard Hunt (CIA)

Democracy doesn’t mean a hoot to us: Philip Agee (CIA)
The true goal of the United States’ government is control… the principle of government by the people for the people is just silly: Philip Agee
The War on Democracy by John Pilger

Russell Means: Breaking the silence on Obama

Russell Means: Breaking the silence on Obama

by Brenda Norrell

American Indian activist Russell Means said President-elect Obama was selected by the colonial powers as president to improve the US image globally in the aftermath of George Bush. Further, Means said Obama’s appointments show that he is a Zionist controlled by Israel.

Speaking on Red Town Radio today, Means said what is happening now to Palestinians is what happened to American Indians.

“Every policy now the Palestinians are enduring was practiced on the American Indian,” Means said on Red Town Blog Talk Radio, hosted by Brenda Golden, Mvskoke Creek. “What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of Europe,” Means said.

Stating that the Zionists who control Israel now control the United States, Means added, “The power of the US in world politics diminishes every day.”

“Now they have found a house servant by the name of Obama,” he said.

Obama was selected as a “man in charge to take the heat,” because of the “bad cop” image that Bush put forth in the world.

“Now, all of a sudden, it is, ‘We’re so great. We elected a black man to be president.’” Means added that Obama is a black man who was raised by his white grandmother and has appointed Zionists to key positions.

Means said the US is headed for a new era of menial jobs. On Indian lands, Means said the only people who get ahead are those who sell out to the colonial system. Means said he has been in solidarity with Palestinians for about 30 years. Now, there is massive and sophisticated propaganda by Israel and the U.S. Both countries, he said, are liars.

In the US, American Indians have been shut out of history, philosophy and the arts, in a “total blackout.” The United States does not want to be reminded of the smallpox blankets, theft, colonialism and mistreatment of the American Indian, he said.

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He said most Americans do not realize that the financial collapse of this country is only beginning. Americans cannot continue the lifestyles of consumers when there is no money. Low income jobs and menial jobs are the only ones left. Health care in the US reveals how the policies used as experiments on American Indians became US policies. The US health care system is now stringent and calloused, with constant refusals of treatment. This has always been the case with the Indian Health Service. Now it is the policy of the HMOs. Family ranchers and family farmers are now in the way of progress, the same way the American Indian was once viewed. Now, family farmers and family ranchers are being gutted, because they function on massive credit. They are trying to pay back debts, which is not possible with manipulated agriculture prices.

“The family farmer and family rancher are now going to be extent.”

Means said the federal government also took over education. Americans don’t even know their own history. Along with this federal control, came the passage of English-only laws in many states. However, for Indigenous Peoples it is positive to know many languages.

“If you speak two languages, you are speaking with two brains. That is the way it is to us. That’s how we look at life.”

In the mid-Twentieth Century, US schools listened to the communities and local governing boards. However, now the US educational policy has taken away local control and mandated federal guidelines. So now education has become a matter of money. Meanwhile, the real history is silenced. While the United States attempts to portray itself as a peace loving nation, the fact is the United States is at war every year. The United States breaks a host of international laws every year, which has been the pattern since 1946. American Indians were aware of what the US was doing, because the US had already broken all treaties with American Indians; treaties guaranteed by the US Constitution.

Means said there is a great deal of propaganda about why the US broke away from England. But the fact is that George Washington, the largest landowner, along with the slave owners, broke with England so that the original treaties of England with American Indians in the west would not have to be honored. The US broke with England, to invade the west and take the land.

“The US was created to break international laws,” Means said, adding that it is obvious today that this is the pattern of the U.S.

Means said the United States was initiated as an outlaw and renegade nation. Today, its imperial policies mean that Israel is a surrogate of the US, receiving aid from the U.S. With the combined US and international aid, Israeli receives $12 billion a year for its “military and the settlers in the West Bank,” he said. He said 80 percent of the people in the West Bank are paid to stay there. It is America who pays them to stay there. But even in Israel, where there is a free press, not everyone agrees with Israel’s war on Palestine. He said 20 to 30 percent of the people in Israel are against the war on Palestine.

Like the United States, Israel has been at war every year of its existence. He said Israel is often referred to as the 51st state, of warmongers and imperialists. The United States and Israel are based on lies, resulting in massive deaths in Iraq. Now, the US and Israel are focused on Iran because of its oil reserves. Indian lands have become “open air concentration camps.” “If you chose to stay on the reservation, you are guaranteed to be poor, unless you are part of the colonial apparatus set up by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, set up the United States.” On Indian lands, everyone fights to be part of the tribal governments because that is where the money is. Everyone fights to be part of the colonial system.

“The only way you can be part of the colonial system is to obey.” Those returning home to Indian lands cannot “rock the boat,” demand their treaty rights or their rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.

The American Indian Movement made people aware that the US Constitution came from the Six Nations. However, the US Constitution only includes one-third of the Great Law of Peace. If all of the Great Law of Peace had been adopted, this country would be much different and much wealthier. However, it was turned into a country of consumers. He said what you get with a country of consumers is greed.

“What is going on in Palestine is going on in America. The United States is taking away the homes of the people.”

Now in the United States, there is “communism from the right” and “right wing socialism.” He said the problem with socialism is that it is bereft of consensus and complete spirituality.

Means said he is 70 years old and has experienced the US when it reached its zenith in the world in the 1950s. At that time, America was a productive country. In the years that followed, the ruling elite sold out the unions, as the labor movement was razor thin close to taking over politics in America. The most watershed event was Brown vs. Board of Education, the US Supreme Court ruling which desegregated schools.

“The white male started losing his power.” Then, in the social revolution that followed, white males lost control of their women and their women’s vote, and lost control of the work place. While civil rights was the chosen remedy of most social movements, American Indians remained dedicated to “sovereign rights.” Individual sovereign rights.

“We are the only ones that held on to the sovereign concept.” The other social movements were saying, “Please Mr. Male let me be equal to you.”

Means said things will be different now.

“Our grandmother the Mother Earth is tired of the human race. She is going to eliminate it and I champion her, Mother Earth.”

Means said matriarchy is what Indigenous people are all about. “We know that women are the givers of life and men are the takers of life.”

“We have to follow the woman in order to gain balance.” He said in a matriarchal society, there is a balanced society, as each celebrates their strengths together. “True individual freedom has to be done by consensus, otherwise it is mob rule.”

In the US, now there are fake elections. “The people are convinced they are actually electing a president.” However, it is the Electoral College that actually selects the US president. The charade is now coming to a close, as the Patriot Act means that the Posse Comitatus is dead and buried. Means said everyone has the responsibility to be free.

“You are free to be responsible. That is the essence of freedom.”

He said everyone should know their rights. Otherwise, they are guaranteed slavery.

Means said human brains are “doped up with all this ignorance and greed.”

“Einstein said, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'”  “That’s America, that’s the Indian reservation. That’s pathetic and an injustice to human beings.”

Red Town Radio show host Brenda Golden, enrolled Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, grew up in Clearview, Oklahoma. Golden attended Sequoyah Indian School in Tahlequah before joining the Air Force. Later, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in Indian Country as an educator, tribal liaison, grant writer, board member and volunteer since the early 1990’s.

Golden said she is hosting Red Town Radio, on Blog Talk Radio, to offer a platform for Indigenous issues.

Listen to more of the show, including David Hill, who called in, and pointed out that while the US cut school funds and school lunches, the US increased aid to Israel.

A struggle for the soul of capitalism

A struggle for the soul of capitalism

A Revolution in Spirit

By Benjamin R. Barber

February 24, 2009 “The Nation” — As America, recession mired, enters the hope-inspired age of Barack Obama, a silent but fateful struggle for the soul of capitalism is being waged. Can the market system finally be made to serve us? Or will we continue to serve it? George W. Bush argued that the crisis is “not a failure of the free-market system, and the answer is not to try to reinvent that system.” But while it is going too far to declare that capitalism is dead, George Soros is right when he says that “there is something fundamentally wrong” with the market theory that stands behind the global economy, a “defect” that is “inherent in the system.”

The issue is not the death of capitalism but what kind of capitalism–standing in which relationship to culture, to democracy and to life? President Obama’s Rubinite economic team seems designed to reassure rather than innovate, its members set to fix what they broke. But even if they succeed, will they do more than merely restore capitalism to the status quo ante, resurrecting all the defects that led to the current debacle?

Being economists, even the progressive critics missing from the Obama economic team continue to think inside the economic box. Yes, bankers and politicians agree that there must be more regulatory oversight, a greater government equity stake in bailouts and some considerable warming of the frozen credit pump. A very large stimulus package with a welcome focus on the environment, alternative energy, infrastructure and job creation is in the offing–a good thing indeed.

But it is hard to discern any movement toward a wholesale rethinking of the dominant role of the market in our society. No one is questioning the impulse to rehabilitate the consumer market as the driver of American commerce. Or to keep commerce as the foundation of American public and private life, even at the cost of rendering other cherished American values–like pluralism, the life of the spirit and the pursuit of (nonmaterial) happiness–subordinate to it.

Economists and politicians across the spectrum continue to insist that the challenge lies in revving up inert demand. For in an economy that has become dependent on consumerism to the tune of 70 percent of GDP, shoppers who won’t shop and consumers who don’t consume spell disaster. Yet it is precisely in confronting the paradox of consumerism that the struggle for capitalism’s soul needs to be waged.

The crisis in global capitalism demands a revolution in spirit–fundamental change in attitudes and behavior. Reform cannot merely rush parents and kids back into the mall; it must encourage them to shop less, to save rather than spend. If there’s to be a federal lottery, the Obama administration should use it as an incentive for saving, a free ticket, say, for every ten bucks banked. Penalize carbon use by taxing gas so that it’s $4 a gallon regardless of market price, curbing gas guzzlers and promoting efficient public transportation. And how about policies that give producers incentives to target real needs, even where the needy are short of cash, rather than to manufacture faux needs for the wealthy just because they’ve got the cash?

Or better yet, take in earnest that insincere MasterCard ad, and consider all the things money can’t buy (most things!). Change some habits and restore the balance between body and spirit. Refashion the cultural ethos by taking culture seriously. The arts play a large role in fostering the noncommercial aspects of society. It’s time, finally, for a cabinet-level arts and humanities post to foster creative thinking within government as well as throughout the country. Time for serious federal arts education money to teach the young the joys and powers of imagination, creativity and culture, as doers and spectators rather than consumers.

Recreation and physical activity are also public goods not dependent on private purchase. They call for parks and biking paths rather than multiplexes and malls. Speaking of the multiplex, why has the new communications technology been left almost entirely to commerce? Its architecture is democratic, and its networking potential is deeply social. Yet for the most part, it has been put to private and commercial rather than educational and cultural uses. Its democratic and artistic possibilities need to be elaborated, even subsidized.

Of course, much of what is required cannot be leveraged by government policy alone, or by a stimulus package and new regulations over the securities and banking markets. A cultural ethos is at stake. For far too long our primary institutions–from education and advertising to politics and entertainment–have prized consumerism above everything else, even at the price of infantilizing society. If spirit is to have a chance, they must join the revolution.

The costs of such a transformation will undoubtedly be steep, since they are likely to prolong the recession. Capitalists may be required to take risks they prefer to socialize (i.e., make taxpayers shoulder them). They will be asked to create new markets rather than exploit and abuse old ones; to simultaneously jump-start investments and inventions that create jobs and help generate those new consumers who will buy the useful and necessary things capitalists make once they start addressing real needs (try purifying tainted water in the Third World rather than bottling tap water in the First!).

The good news is, people are already spending less, earning before buying (using those old-fashioned layaway plans) and feeling relieved at the shopping quasi-moratorium. Suddenly debit cards are the preferred plastic. Parental “gatekeepers” are rebelling against marketers who treat their 4-year-olds as consumers-to-be. Adults are questioning brand identities and the infantilization of their tastes. They are out in front of the politicians, who still seem addicted to credit as a cure-all for the economic crisis.

And Barack Obama? We elected a president committed in principle to deep change. Rather than try to back out of the mess we are in, why not find a way forward? What if Obama committed the United States to reducing consumer spending from 70 percent of GDP to 50 percent over the next ten years, bringing it to roughly where Germany’s GDP is today? The Germans have a commensurate standard of living and considerably greater equality. Imagine all the things we could do without having to shop: play and pray, create and relate, read and walk, listen and procreate–make art, make friends, make homes, make love.

Sound too soft? Too idealistic? If we are to survive the collapse of the unsustainable consumer capitalism that has possessed our body politic over the past three decades, idealism must become the new realism. For if the contest is between the material body defined by solipsistic acquisitiveness and the human spirit defined by imagination and compassion, then a purely technical economic response is what will be too soft, promising little more than a restoration of that shopaholic hell of hyper-consumerism that occasioned the current disaster.

There are epic moments in history, often catalyzed by catastrophe, that permit fundamental cultural change. The Civil War not only brought an end to slavery but knit together a wounded country, opened the West and spurred capitalist investment in ways that created the modern American nation. The Great Depression legitimized a radical expansion of democratic interventionism; but more important, it made Americans aware of how crucial equality and social justice (buried in capitalism’s first century) were to America’s survival as a democracy.

Today we find ourselves in another such seminal moment. Will we use it to rethink the meaning of capitalism and the relationship between our material bodies and the spirited psyches they are meant to serve? Between the commodity fetishism and single-minded commercialism that we have allowed to dominate us, and the pluralism, heterogeneity and spiritedness that constitute our professed national character?

President Obama certainly inspired many young people to think beyond themselves–beyond careerism and mindless consumerism. But our tendency is to leave the “higher” things to high-minded rhetoric and devote policy to the material. Getting people to understand that happiness cannot be bought, and that consumerism wears out not only the sole and the wallet but the will and the soul–that capitalism cannot survive long-term on credit and consumerism–demands programs and people, not just talk.

The convergence of Obama’s election and the collapse of the global credit economy marks a moment when radical change is possible. But we will need the new president’s leadership to turn the economic disaster into a cultural and democratic opportunity: to make service as important as selfishness (what about a national service program, universal and mandatory, linked to education?); to render community no less valid than individualism (lost social capital can be re-created through support for civil society); to make the needs of the spirit as worthy of respect as those of the body (assist the arts and don’t chase religion out of the public square just because we want it out of City Hall); to make equality as important as individual opportunity (“equal opportunity” talk has become a way to avoid confronting deep structural inequality); to make prudence and modesty values no less commendable than speculation and hubris (saving is not just good economic policy; it’s a beneficent frame of mind). Such values are neither conservative nor liberal but are at once cosmopolitan and deeply American. Their restoration could inaugurate a quiet revolution.

The struggle for the soul of capitalism is, then, a struggle between the nation’s economic body and its civic soul: a struggle to put capitalism in its proper place, where it serves our nature and needs rather than manipulating and fabricating whims and wants. Saving capitalism means bringing it into harmony with spirit–with prudence, pluralism and those “things of the public” (res publica) that define our civic souls. A revolution of the spirit.

Is the new president up to it? Are we?

Rothschild Agents Take 10 Key Posts In Obama Administration

Rothschild Agents Take 10 Key Posts In Obama Administration

Michael Collins Piper � American Free Press February 23, 2009

OUR GREATEST FOUNDING FATHER and first president, George Washington, probably wouldn�t be ready to celebrate his birthday on Feb. 22 if he were alive today. Having led the 13 colonies to independence from the British Empire in 1783, following the course of a difficult eight-year struggle by those freedom-loving American colonists who followed him, Washington (who lived from 1732 to 1799) would most assuredly be appalled to see that the liberties achieved from the American Revolution are now being flagrantly defied by a number of figures who populate the upper ranks of the administration of Barack Obama.

Six former Rhodes Scholars (educated at Oxford University in Britain) and four others associated with the London School of Economics are serving in key posts in the Obama administration. That�s not good.

Here are 10 of the key �British��that is, Rothschild �operatives now ensconced in the Obama administration (more can be expected):

Susan Rice � ambassador to the UN; Michael McFaul � head of the Russian desk at the National Security Council; Elena Kagan � solicitor general of the United States; Anne-Marie Slaughter � State Department policy planning staff; Neal S.Wolin � deputy counsel to the president for economic policy; Ezekial Emanuel � senior counselor at the White House Office of Management and Budget on health care policy; Lawrence Summers � head of the National Economic Council; Peter Orszag � director of the Office of Management and Budget; Peter Rouse � senior advisor to the president; Mona Sutphen � deputy chief of the White House staff.

The truth about the Rhodes Scholarships is not known to the average American who is constantly told by the mass media that Rhodes Scholars (such as former President Bill Clinton) are among �the best and the brightest.�

The Rhodes Scholarships�awarded to Americans and students from other former British colonies�are funded by a trust set up by 19th Century British imperial figure Cecil Rhodes, whose intent was to indoctrinate these scholars with the theme that the American colonies should be reunited with the British Empire and that they should work through �public service� to achieve that goal. But Rhodes wasn�t just some rich madcap dreamer. His ventures were underwritten by the international Rothschild dynasty operating from the financial district in London known as �The City��the banking center of the Rothschild controlled British empire that also includes the London School of Economics.

So now a clique of internationalists trained in the idea of extinguishing American independence are ensconced in the Obama administration.

And another Rhodes Scholar, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is widely touted as the great Grand Old Party candidate to �take back the White House� in 2012. Jindal doesn�t offer �change.� He�like the other globalists in the Obama administration�is part of the problem.

All of this is not a �conspiracy theory.� Rather, these facts are well known to those familiar with what the Rhodes scholarships are really about.
www.americanfreepress.net/html/rothschild_agents_168.html