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Absolutely brilliant!The beginning of the film is a masterpiece of psych-film work that clarifies the identity of the “devil” (the ego) in this man’s thoughts. The rest is an excellent argument that the way to peace in the world lies through the inner journey. We will not know true peace on this planet until a sufficient number of us find the peacemaker who lives within each of us, our personal connection to the God of peace.
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[If peace for a day can be bought for less than £135, then how much for a year, or forever?]
Intelligence sources say the money was given to fighters in the hope it would form the basis of permanent peace talks with the Taleban. The news came as the head of the British Army warned that UK troops might remain engaged in operations in Afghanistan for another five years.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, in Edinburgh yesterday for the official opening of the UK’s first purpose-built recovery centre for injured service personnel, said it would take “a bit of time” before Afghan forces were able to take over responsibility for security in the country.
President Hamid Karzai is tipped to be re-elected this week after the bloodiest month for British troops in the eight-year war. His brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, and another key Afghan government figure in reconciliation efforts, Arif Noorzai, have been in negotiations with the Taleban.
They claimed that they had split local commanders in the particularly violent south and east of the country from the Taleban high command in Pakistan. Under the terms of the truce, local insurgents have agreed to “neither help, nor intervene” so long as Nato troops do not attack them on polling day, Mr Noorzai said.
But any ceasefire has come too late for the nearly 1,000 British troops killed or injured in the war. The Ministry of Defence yesterday released figures showing that 94 British soldiers were wounded in action last month – more than double the 46 injured in June.
It also named two of the five soldiers killed over the weekend, taking the total death toll since the start of operations in Afghanistan to 204. The soaring casualty rate was partly a consequence of the offensive known as Operation Panther’s Claw, which aimed to drive the Taleban from central Helmand ahead of this week’s election.
While polls showed the British public is growing more sceptical about the war, defence chiefs were also embroiled in a row over how long British troops would have to stay in Afghanistan. The immediate concern, however, is this week’s election.
The Taleban has vowed to boycott the vote and commanders have threatened to attack polling stations. People have been warned that anyone found with ink on their finger – used to identify voters and stop them voting a second time – will have it cut off.
Intelligence sources claim the commanders have been paid off, but officials refused to say whether the money had come from a £135 million election fund, bankrolled by the international community.
Afghanistan’s defence minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, said government troops would observe a day-long ceasefire.
Mr Noorzai, a former minister of tribal affairs, said if the deals are honoured on Thursday, they could form a foundation for more permanent peace talks. “It’s a test,” he said. “They (local Taleban] will be impartial, neither helping nor intervening. They’ve asked us to make sure that the British and American forces won’t attack them on election day. But we know the senior Taleban commanders in Pakistan won’t agree to a truce. So the aircraft will still be flying, but there won’t be any bombardments. That way, the local commanders can still say, ‘Look, we haven’t done any deals’.”
It follows years of Nato rhetoric – with very little to show for it – about splitting local fighters from their hardline masters.
In Khost, in the east, militants have issued “night letters” threatening to kill people for taking part in the polls. In Zabul, in the south, locals said the Taleban vowed to chop off voters’ fingers.
Most people remain cynical and many Afghans are too afraid to vote. A suicide attack at the main gate of Nato’s headquarters in Kabul on Saturday is proof to some that the Taleban is still planning widespread violence.
Wazhma Frogh, a leading women’s rights activist, said: “It was a major slap in the face to the government, in terms of security.”
Ahmed Wali Karzai, who denies Western claims he controls Kandahar’s opium trade, said Taleban commanders inside Afghanistan were divided. “Some will look the other way, but others will say no, stop them,” he said.
Talk of a truce comes amid fears that low voter turn-out could undermine the elections, particularly in the largely Pashtun-populated south and east, where the insurgency is strongest. A low Pashtun vote would favour Mr Karzai’s main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, whose support base is mainly in the Tajik north.
TROOPS are being urged to take out private medical insurance by the head of the British Army.
General Sir Richard Dannatt said while the state could give them compensation, “over and above that we encourage servicemen to take out private insurance.
“Money can’t put back a leg or an arm, or restore a life that is lost, but it certainly can help.”
THE widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan will be the first to be presented with the Elizabeth Cross.
Karen Upton will receive the new medal before the funeral of her husband, Warrant Officer Sean Upton, 35, at Catterick Garrison in north Yorkshire tomorrow. Warrant Officer Upton died in an explosion while on foot patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province last month.
Chechen fighters said in a letter posted on a rebel website that they had used an anti-tank grenade to cause a disaster at a massive dam in Siberia this week presumed to have killed over 70 people, Reuters reported.
“Glory to Allah, on August 17 through our efforts, a subversive operation was carried out in Khakasia at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro-electric dam,” said the letter from a group calling
itself the Martyrs’ Battalion.
“In the machine hall we managed to plant an anti-tank grenade with a timer, the blast of which caused much stronger damage than we could have hoped for,” said the letter, which was published on the http://www.kavkazcenter.com website.
[Perhaps this helps explain where the CIA version of “Islam” originated–
WAMY is one of the “charities” that were allegedly sponsors of “al Qaida,” involved with the airlift of mujahedeen to Bosnia.]
Eighty percent of imams in Kyrgyzstan do not have the required expertise in modern Islam, Director of the State Agency for Religious Affairs Kanybek Osmonaliyev told journalists on Friday, Interfax reported.
“In 2008 we started the imam certification program, which revealed that 80% of imams do not have the knowledge required by the modern Islamic standards,” said the head of the agency.
“Many spiritual servants are incompetent, which results in their unilateral interpretations of the social role of Islam, most of them are susceptible to the idea of Islamization, whereas our first priority should be to promote the freedom of religion, that is a tolerant approach towards any faith,” Osmonaliyev said.
The number of new mosques being built has decreased over the past four years, he also said. “The boom that Kyrgyzstan saw between the early 1990s and 2005 is now over,” he said. “Our policy is to switch from quantity to quality, a policy of building large mosques that will have all the needed infrastructure,” the official said.
“Currently, many mosques are empty, especially in rural areas, partly because of the lack of qualified imams. As a result, mosques are used as a base for destructive religious Islamic organizations, such as the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir and other Wahabi organizations,” Osmonaliyev said.
According to the agency, the country currently has over 2,500 operating mosques.
To some, Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi isn’t the Lockerbie bomber, but a scapegoat being used to hide the truth. His release has given new life to the Pan Am conspiracy theories. Here are a few:
The skies would “rain blood.” These words leapt to mind when the Pan Am flight first exploded on Dec. 21, 1988. The ominous threat, uttered by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini just five months before the blast, came in response to the United States shooting down an Iranian civilian plane, killing 290 people.
The theory was that Iran paid $10-million to a Syrian-backed radical Palestinian group to execute the bombing. The Palestinian group, however, denied involvement and one of the main suspects later provided an alibi in court.
A former Iranian intelligence officer also added fuel to the fire by claiming responsibility for the Pan Am attack.
Another theory holds that the bombing was a targeted attack on two American intelligence officials travelling back to the United States to blow the whistle on a CIA drug ring.
Theorists allege a rogue CIA cell in Lebanon was smuggling drugs across the Atlantic to fund the release of six U.S. hostages held by Hezbollah. The drug ring was supposedly set up by Israeli Mossad agents.
According to this theory, the drug ring was uncovered by Matthew Gannon, a CIA officer, and Major Charles McKee of the Defence Intelligence Agency, and the plane was brought down to silence the men, both of whom were aboard. Major McKee’s mother, however, has maintained that her son’s superiors had no idea he was flying that day.
Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal has also been fingered as a suspect in the bombing. He moved to Libya soon after the 1986 U.S. attack on Tripoli and reportedly bragged to aides about masterminding the Lockerbie bombing.
His claims have never been substantiated, however, and Mr. Nidal died of gunshot wounds in Baghdad in 2002.
Although not fully formed theories, there are several bits of information that suggest Mr. al-Megrahi’s conviction did not reveal the full story behind the downing of Flight 103.
There’s the fact that members of a Palestinian gang in Frankfurt were found with a ghetto blaster bomb similar to the one aboard the plane.
There are reports that mysterious U.S. officials removed a body from the crash scene, and fiercely guarded a particular piece of debris concealed under a red tarp.
South Africa’s foreign minister at the time, Pik Botha, was said to have been warned off taking the flight, suggesting a connection to the government.
There are also suggestions that the United States and Britainframed Libya, one of the West’s biggest enemies at the time.
Sources: BBC, The Telegraph, and The Guardian
|By Jeff Gates
In 2005, the Nobel Prize in Economic Science was awarded to Israeli mathematician and game theory specialist Robert J. Aumann, co-founder of the Center for Rationality at Hebrew University. This Jerusalem resident explains: “the entire school of thought that we have developed here in Israel” has turned “Israel into the leading authority in this field.”
Israeli strategists rely on game theory models to ensure the intended response to staged provocations and manipulated crises. With the use of game theory algorithms, those responses become predictable, even foreseeable—within an acceptable range of probabilities. The waging of war “by way of deception” is now a mathematical discipline.
Such “probabilistic” war planning enables Tel Aviv to deploy serial provocations and well-timed crises as a force multiplier to project Israeli influence worldwide. For a skilled agent provocateur, the target can be a person, a company, an economy, a legislature, a nation or an entire culture—such as Islam. With a well-modeled provocation, the anticipated reaction can even become a powerful weapon in the Israeli arsenal.
For instance, a skilled game theorist could foresee that, in response to a 911-type mass murder, “the mark” (the U.S.) would deploy its military to avenge that attack. With phony intelligence fixed around a preset goal, a game theory algorithm could anticipate that those forces might well be redirected to invade Iraq—not to avenge 911 but to pursue the expansionist goals of Greater Israel.
To provoke that invasion required the displacement of an inconvenient truth (Iraq played no role in 911) with what lawmakers and the public could be deceived to believe. The emotionally wrenching nature of that incident was essential in order to induce Americans to abandon rational analysis and to facilitate their reliance on false intelligence.
Americans were (predictably) provoked by that mass murder. The foreseeable reaction—shock, grief and outrage—made it easier for them to believe that an infamous Iraqi Evil Doer was to blame. The displacement of facts with beliefs lies at heart of how Israel, the world’s leading authority in game theory, induces other nations to wage their wars.
False but Plausible
To displace facts with credible fiction requires a period of “preparing the minds” so that the mark will believe a pre-staged storyline. Thus the essential role of a complicit media to promote: (a) a plausible present danger (Iraqi weapons of mass destruction), (b) a plausible villain (a former ally re-branded as an Evil Doer), and (c) a plausible post-Cold War threat to national security (The Clash of Civilizations and “Islamo-fascism”).
Reports from inside Israeli intelligence suggest that the war-planners who induced the 2003 invasion of Iraq began their psyops campaign no later than 1986 when an Israeli Mossad operation (Operation Trojan) made it appear that the Libyan leadership was transmitting terrorist directives from Tripoli to their embassies worldwide. Soon thereafter, two U.S. soldiers were killed by a terrorist attack in a Berlin discotheque. Ten days later, U.S., British and German aircraft dropped 60 tons of bombs on Libya.
The following is a senior Mossad operative’s assessment (published in 1994 in The Other Side of Deception) of that 1986 operation—five years before the Gulf War and 15 years before the murderous provocation that preceded the invasion of Iraq:
‘After the bombing of Libya, our friend Qadhafi is sure to stay out of the picture for some time. Iraq and Saddam Hussein are the next target. We’re starting now to build him up as the big villain. It will take some time, but in the end, there’s no doubt that it’ll work.’
Could this account by former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky be correct? If so, Tel Aviv’s Iraqi operation required more pre-staging than its relatively simple Libyan deception.
America the Mark
From a game theory perspective, what is the probability of a violent reaction in the Middle East after more than a half-century of serial Israeli provocations—in an environment where the U.S. is identified (correctly) as the Zionist state’s special friend and protector?
During the 1967 War, the Israeli killing of 34 Americans aboard the USS Liberty confirmed that a US president (Democrat Lyndon Johnson) could be induced to condone murderous behavior by Israel. Two decades later, Operation Trojan confirmed that a US president (Republican Ronald Reagan) could be induced to attack an Arab nation based on intelligence fixed by Israel.
For more than six decades, the US has armed, financed, befriended and defended Zionism. This “special relationship” includes the US-discrediting veto of dozens of UN resolutions critical of Israeli conduct. From a game theory perspective, how difficult was it to anticipate that—out of a worldwide population of 1.3 billion Muslims—19 Muslim men could be induced to perpetrate a murderous act in response to U.S support for Israel’s lengthy mistreatment of Arabs and Muslims, particularly Palestinians?
Israeli game theorists operate not from the Center for Morality or the Center for Justice but from the Center for Rationality. As modeled by Zionist war planners, game theory is devoid of all values except one: the ability to anticipate—within an acceptable range of probabilities—how “the mark” will react when provoked. Thus we see the force-multiplier potential for those who wage war with well-planned provocations and well-timed crises.
Israeli behavior is often immoral and unjust but that does not mean it is irrational. For Colonial Zionists committed to the pursuit of an expansionist agenda, even murderous provocations are rational because the response can be mathematically modeled, ensuring the results are reasonably foreseeable. That alone is sufficient for a people who, as God’s chosen, consider it their right to operate above the rule of law.
– Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.criminalstate.com.
As the Saudi-financed Wahhabi Islam supplants the tolerant indigenous Sufi Islam, its violent creed is inspiring terrorism
Despite the recent offensive by the Pakistani army in the Swat Valley and by Nato in Helmand province, the “Talibanisation” of both Afghanistan and Pakistan proceeds apace. Vast parts of the Afghan south and a large region in western Pakistan are still under de facto control of Taliban militants who enforce a violent form of sharia law.
Western responses oscillate between calls for a secular alternative to the religious fundamentalism of the Taliban and attempts to engage the moderate elements among them. Neither will solve the underlying religious clash between indigenous Sufi Islam and the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi extremism. The UK and US must change strategy and adopt a policy that supports the peaceful indigenous Muslim tradition of Sufism while thwarting Saudi Arabia’s promotion of the dangerous Wahhabi creed that fuels violence and sectarian tension.
As Afghanistan goes to the polls this week, western political and military leaders now recognise that stability and peace in the country cannot be created by military force alone. Like the “surge” strategy in Iraq which reduced suicide bombings by driving a wedge between indigenous Sunnis and foreign jihadists, the US and its European allies will try to separate the Taliban from al-Qaida fighters who infiltrate Afghanistan from across the border in Pakistan. By combining “surgical” strikes against terrorists in the Afghan-Pakistani border region with a political strategy aimed at “moderate” Taliban, President Obama hopes to save the US mission from disaster.
The problem is that those Taliban who would be prepared to talk have little leverage and those who have influence feel that they have little incentive to compromise, as they have gained the upper hand. Unlike many Sunnis in Iraq, most Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have embraced the puritanical and fundamentalist Islam of the Wahhabi mullahs from Saudi Arabia who wage a ruthless war not just against western “infidels” but also against fellow Muslims they consider to be apostates, in particular the Sufis.
Sufi Islam is not limited to the southern Pakistani province of Sindh on the border with India. It also exists elsewhere in Pakistan and has been present in Afghanistan for centuries, as exemplified by the 18th-century poet and mystic Rahman Baba whose shrine at the foot of the Khyber Pass (linking Afghanistan and Pakistan) still attracts many Sufi faithful from both sides of the border.
All this changed in the 1980s when during the Afghan resistance against the Soviet invasion, elements in Saudi Arabia poured in money, arms and extremist ideology. Through a network of madrasas, Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi Islam indoctrinated young Muslims with fundamentalist Puritanism, denouncing Sufi music and poetry as decadent and immoral. At Attock, not far from Rahman Baba’s shrine on the Khyber Pass, stands the Haqqania madrassa, one of the most radical schools where the Taliban leader Mullah Omar was trained. Across the Pakistani border, the tolerant Sufi-minded Barelvi form of indigenous Islam has also been supplanted by the hardline Wahhabi creed.
This madrassa-inspired and Saudi-financed Wahhabi Islam is destroying indigenous Islam in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Crucially, it is imposing a radical creed that represents a distortion and perversion of true Islam. Wahhabi followers beheaded a Polish geologist in February (as revenge for Polish troops in Afghanistan) and blew up a century-old shrine dedicated to Rahman Baba in the Pakistani town of Peshawar in March.
The actions of the west and its Afghan and Pakistani allies are making matters worse. By causing civilian deaths through aerial bombings, the US is driving ordinary Afghans and Pakistani into the arms of the jihadi terrorists. By declaring sharia law in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat region to appease the local Taliban and by using Islamism in the ongoing conflict with India over Kashmir, Pakistan’s government is emboldening the extremists and undermining Sufi Islam.
What is required, first of all, is to prevent Saudi Arabia from playing a duplicitous game whereby the authorities in Riyadh help the Afghan President Karzai in his attempts to woo moderate Taliban while promoting the violent creed of Wahhabism across this volatile region. The west should call Saudi Arabia’s bluff and not surrender to Riyadh’s threats of ending security co-operation and information exchange on international terrorism which thrives on Saudi-exported Wahhabi ideology.
The west and Muslim countries such as Jordan should also put pressure on the Pakistani authorities to confront Wahhabism by expelling Saudi hate preachers, closing the Wahhabi madrassas and establishing schools that teach the peaceful Islam of Sufism.
By itself this strategy will of course not be sufficient to eradicate violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But without an alternative policy based on religion, this religious conflict will further escalate.
TEHRAN, Aug. 20 (UPI) — Though declining to specify exactly where, the outgoing Iranian oil minister announced the discovery of a giant oil field as a new government takes shape.
Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari announced the discovery of the field, which the semiofficial Fars news agency reports has in-place reserves of more than “20,000 billion barrels.”
“The relevant information on the exact location and volume of reserves of this oil field will be declared in coming days,” Nozari added.
It is the 17th oil find for Iran in the past four years.
When it was appraised in the 1970s, the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia, considered the world’s largest by far, held 170 billion barrels of original in-place oil.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expects the approval of Massoud Mir Kazemi, a former deputy commerce minister, as his next oil minister.
Mohammad Ali Khatibi, the Iranian governor for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said national energy officials supported the nomination.
The nomination is part of a sweeping Cabinet shake-up as the second Ahmadinejad administration takes shape in the wake of the contested June presidential election.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian rebel website posted a statement on Friday signed by Chechen fighters declaring “economic war” on Russia and claiming responsibility for a recent dam disaster and a bomb in Ingushetia.
A Kremlin source contacted by Reuters dismissed the statement, saying he would not comment on what he described as an “idiotic” claim. Russian markets also shrugged off the news.
The letter, signed by the “Battalion of Martyrs”, was posted on the [Islamist] website, a site which claims to represent Chechen rebels.
The letter said the main Chechen rebel leader in hiding, Doku Umarov, who seeks an Islamic state in the north Caucasus, had decided to step up a campaign of economic war on Russia.
It said groups of fighters had been sent across Russia for attacks that would focus on gas and oil pipelines, power plants and electricity lines.
On Monday morning, within hours of each other, a giant Siberian dam was seriously damaged by an uncontrolled torrent of water pouring through the machine room and more than 20 people were killed when a suicide truck bomb rammed a police station in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia.
Investigators probing the dam incident ruled out foul play early in their work and until now, nobody has suggested that a bomb could have caused the damage. Fourteen bodies have been retrieved from the dam disaster and 60 people are still missing.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Michael Stott and Ralph Boulton)
‘Don’t echo imperialist hypocrisy’
By Sara Flounders
The following is based on a presentation by Flounders, a coordinator of the International Action Center, during a discussion of the latest events in Iran at the National Assembly anti-war conference held in Pittsburgh July 10-12.
If the U.S. government was interested in supporting democracy or
in building respect for the will of the people in a democratic election, it should have started by respecting the outcome of the 2006 Palestinian election. The Palestinian people voted in large numbers, electing Hamas candidates to parliament with large enough votes to form the Palestinian government. In Gaza, Hamas had a total sweep.
The U.S./Israeli response was a starvation blockade of Gaza, a siege and then a brutal all-out war on the entire population. When the Israelis attacked Gaza last December and January, they killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, using U.S.-supplied weapons including white
phosphorous and cluster bombs.
Now more than half of the elected members of the Palestinian Parliament are in Israeli prisons. Why is the corporate media not telling us day after day about this crime against democracy?
Don’t jump on capitalist bandwagon
We in the anti-war movement need to be especially careful not to jump on the bandwagon when the entire capitalist class, their media, the entire U.S. Congress, and numerous organizations that received direct U.S. funding from the so-called National Endowment for Democracy all speak with one voice in sudden defense of a cause.
Regardless of how legitimate, genuine and concerned some individuals may seem, this kind of overwhelming imperialist pressure will distort the struggle.
The U.S. corporate media is not interested in democracy even within the United States.
The whole focus and attention of progressive, anti-imperialist and workers’ struggles, especially here in the very center of imperialism, must be to defend all those who are targeted by the Pentagon, by the police and by the corporate media, which act as an extension of the state on issues of war and peace.
Repression in the U.S.
Just consider the mass raids, round-ups and deportations going on in immigrant communities in every major U.S. city. Think of the workers who never come home from work, the families that are ripped apart.
We cannot for a moment forget that this is the country with the largest prison population in the world, with the greatest number of people on death row. Mumia Abu-Jamal, an internationally famous journalist and human rights activist, has been on death row for decades, just 50 miles from where we are meeting here in western Pennsylvania.
When the corporate media raises their concern about “democracy” in Iran, we cannot forget the Black and Latina/o communities occupied by police. Nor the targeting of Muslim communities, which are overrun with snitches, spies and frame-ups.
We cannot forget the millions of working people who are losing their jobs, homes, health care and their future. They have no vote, no say and no control over who receives trillions of dollars in bailout money and who receives hot air. We cannot forget the police state that greets every bankers’ or international gathering, putting whole areas of cities in lock-down.
There is a certain imperialist arrogance when the corporate media, which hides the lack of democracy here in U.S., suddenly champions democracy in Iran with wall-to-wall and sympathetic coverage of demonstrations there.
Do we want our movement to be an echo of that hypocrisy? Don’t you wonder if there is another agenda? When has a demonstration in the U.S. against war or cutbacks, or for housing or human rights, ever received the kind of sympathetic coverage that we’ve seen in the last month of Iran?
Do we expect that the thousands of activists coming to Pittsburgh for the G20 summit protests will receive even 1 percent of the coverage that’s been given to demonstrations in Iran?
No women’s rights in U.S. client states
The whole world knows the name and face of the young Iranian woman Neda. But do we know the name of even one Iraqi woman killed by the invading U.S. Army? Can you tell me the name of one Palestinian woman
killed by Israeli forces? Do we know the names of any Afghan or Pakistani women killed in a drone attack?
Do we know the name of the young Latina killed on the same day as Neda died in Iran, who was shot by border militia in Arizona?
Have U.S. wars and occupations brought democracy to countries they own and control through feudal monarchies and total dictatorships?
There are no rights for women, or for anyone today, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt or Jordan.
Nowhere in the world is U.S. imperialism a force for democracy or
women’s rights. U.S. interventions bring millions of deaths, millions of orphans, millions of refugees, a whole sex industry, torture on a mass scale and massive impoverishment—but never democracy.
Of course everyone here already knows this. We know of three decades of wars, sanctions, encirclement, sabotage and coup attempts.
Don’t echo imperialist designs
A number of so-called human-rights groups that are funded by U.S.-government NED programs have called for demonstrations on July 25 in the name of “democracy in Iran.” Unfortunately, some anti-war groups have endorsed this U.S. government-funded demonstration. We want to use every skill to persuade our movement not to be pulled in by imperialist destabilization efforts and propaganda and to withdraw their participation.
There is a class struggle in Iran today. Yes, there is. But there is also a massive U.S.-government-sponsored destabilization effort. We cannot allow ourselves to become an echo of imperialist destabilization and interference in Iran.
By Penny Coleman
Wayne McMahon was busted on gun charges six months after he got out of the Marines.
He was jumped by a gang of kids in his hometown of Albany, N.Y. , and he went for the assault rifle he kept in the back of his SUV.
He’s serving “three flat, with two years of post-release” at Groveland Prison in upstate New York.
Maybe it’s tempting to write McMahon off as just a screwed-up person who made the kinds of mistakes that should have landed him in jail, but maybe that’s because his injuries don’t show on the outside.
Unlike physical injuries, psychiatric injuries are invisible; the burden of proof lands on the soldier (or sailor or Marine), and such injuries are easy for the public to deny.
The diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder include a preoccupation with danger.
According to Jonathan Shay, a Veterans Administration psychiatrist and author of Achilles in Vietnam, hypervigilance in soldiers and veterans is expressed as the persistent mobilization of both body and mind to protect against lethal danger — they act as though they were still in combat, even when the danger is no longer present.
That preoccupation leads to a cluster of symptoms, including sleeplessness, exaggerated startle responses, violent outbursts and a reliance on combat skills that are inappropriate, and very often illegal, in the civilian world.
When I asked McMahon what he was doing with an assault rifle in his car, he told me that since he got back from Afghanistan, he didn’t feel safe without guns around.
“There was almost always a gun,” he said. “In the apartment, there was guns everywhere.
“I was just over in combat, and you guys gave me an M-16 and a 9mm and let me walk around for eight months straight. And now I get back, and I get jumped by a bunch of people, and I can’t have a gun?” (read here)
With elections in Afghanistan, it might be timely to reflect on the US engagement with that stricken nation and consider just how much foreign intervention has contributed to the prospect and possibility of free and democratic elections.
More, it is fitting to consider what kind of example the US and its allies have given to the people of Afghanistan, if they have bestowed any wisdom and guidance for a nation facing a turbulent and uncertain future, to say the least.
The US initiated a sort of “shock and awe” operation in Afghanistan in late 2001, what appeared to many as a knee-jerk reaction to September 11th, in the midst of a half-heartedly supportive but largely bewildered American public.
The Bush administration gave many reasons and justifications for that grizzly war, to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, to defeat the newly exposed world-wide network of Al Qaeda, with its countless numbers of active and “sleeper” cells spread throughout the world.
But the so-called Operation Enduring Freedom would not have actualised without an intense propaganda campaign that once again attempted to paint the US war as an act of liberation. To present the deadly bombs and unforgiving missiles as such, mainstream media decried the mistreatment and abuse of women, learning new and foreboding terms such as “purdah”, “burkah” and the like.
US public stared hunger and poverty in the eyes on the nightly news, and the US prepared its grief-stricken and enraged nation for decisive and direct action.
And so, the Bush administration and its many spin doctors taught us that there was only one way to reform this nation, eliminating illiteracy, advocating women’s rights, improving access to food, proper educational institutions, development, access to healthcare, essentially the hope for a brighter future for a young generation of Afghani children. And their redeeming plan was war.
It is simply arcane to read the bantering of mainstream US commentators these days, as they reflect on the upcoming August 20th elections and ponder what else the US must do to “win hearts and minds of the Afghani people”. For one, might I suggest the arrest of the use of drones in targeted assassinations of US enemies. In May 2009, CIA director Leon Panetta delivered a speech where he claimed that, “(Drone) operations have been very effective because they have been very precise in terms of the targeting and it involved a minimum of collat-eral damage”.
But the use of unmanned drones as weapons of war has been decried as so “cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance”, according to Lord Bingham, one of Britain’s most senior judges, in a recent interview cited in the Independent. “It may be — I’m not expressing a view – that unmanned drones that fall on a house full of civilians is a weapon the international community should decide should not be used.”
Lord Bingham’s views, as those of others, are supported by ample evidence, of weddings that turned into funerals, and funerals that themselves turned into mass burial grounds.
US enthusiasm regarding the success of the drones has in fact crossed borders into Pakistan, also claiming the lives of hundreds.
Former senior counterinsurgency advisor to the US Army, David Kilcullen told Congress in June 2009, “Since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes. In the same period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area.
Yet, the charade trudges on. Pro-US Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to stage his government’s make-believe democracy, although his loyalists are in continuous decline. Major media continue to cite improvements in people’s lives, regardless of contradicting reports by the UN.
US officials tirelessly, although unconvincingly prattle of winning hearts and minds, as bomb blasts, drone attacks and death hover over the devastated place. Such a degrading view of human life, say nothing of our intelligence.
But the facts are truly grim. According to a recent UNICEF report, an estimated 22 million Afghans, or 70 per cent of the population, live in poverty and substandard conditions. Forty per cent of children less than three years old are underweight and 54 per cent of children under five are stunted. Over 100,000 people — most of them children and women — remain displaced by conflict and drought.
Contrary to widespread claims of progress, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, says the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has worsened.
In fact, in February of this year, and for the first time in seven years, the UN launched a comprehensive humanitarian action plan to try and alleviate even a small portion of the suffering there. A study conducted by the American Medical Association a few years ago found that two-thirds of Afghans over the age of 15 are depressed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder was also reported as prevalent, with 41 per cent of non-disabled persons showing symptoms. Of the individuals surveyed, 80 per cent expressed feelings of hatred. It goes without question that these statistics have ballooned with the rising death tolls that plague the country.
So, there hasn’t been the kind of progress once hoped for; not so many schools built, there haven’t been so many hospitals established. Hunger and illiteracy, for the most part have remained the same if not on the incline. The refugee population continues to swell, while delivering aid to desperately needy towns and villages becomes increasingly difficult.
But one thing cannot be disputed regarding US contributions to the people of Afghanistan: a lot of people have been ripped to pieces by botched drone operations, a lot of young minds have been molded, through the tragedies that they endure and witness each day, to distrust this notion of “democracy”. This dilemma is of great concern to the US Army.
In fact, in responding to this very problem, National Security Adviser James L. Jones stated regarding the use of drones in targeted assassinations, “In one mishap you can create thousands of more terrorists than you had before the mishap”.
Well, if this is our sole concern, and if the pointless loss of life in itself is not deplored, if the suffering of the Afghans is only a point of unease when it could potentially breed more “terrorists”, then “winning their hearts and minds” is quite simply outside the realm of possibilities.
Ramzy Baroud is an author of several books and editor of PalestineChronicle.com
Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is to leave Scotland to return to Libya.
With his departure, a lengthy chapter in Scots legal history has closed.
But many questions remain – and they will not disappear along with the flight to Tripoli.
BBC Scotland’s Home Affairs Correspondent Reevel Alderson has been looking at the mystery which still surrounds the 1988 bombing.
The collection of evidence from Britain’s worst act of terrorism began immediately – and within a week detectives announced it had been caused by a bomb in a radio cassette player.
Throughout the subsequent weeks whole sections of the jumbo jet were recovered to help investigators literally piece together the cause.
Although they knew it was a bomb they needed to find out who had placed it, why they had done so, and how?
Early suspicion fell on Ahmed Jibril, leader of Palestinian terror group the PFLP-GC, who intelligence sources suggested may have been working for Iran.
Dick Marquise believes there was no evidence to implicate Ahmed Jibril
West German police mounted Operation Autumn Leaves, raiding flats near Frankfurt where the group was preparing bombs in radio cassette players.
They were similar to that used to blow up Pan Am flight 103.
But Dick Marquise, chief of the FBI “Scotbom Task Force” from 1988-1992, said investigators could find nothing later to link this plot with Lockerbie.
“We never found any evidence,” he told the BBC. “There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of intelligence that people have said there were meetings, there were discussions.
“But not one shred of evidence that a prosecutor could take into court to convict either an official in Iran or Ahmed Jibril for blowing up Pan Am flight 103.”
There were also suggestions that Jibril’s group put the bomb onto a Pan Am feeder flight from Frankfurt Airport to Heathrow, switching the suitcase for one containing drugs being run by another Palestinian group.
But another airport has also come under suspicion – Heathrow in London, from where the doomed jumbo jet took off.
Pan Am Flight 103 was ripped apart by the bombing
Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of the victims of the atrocity, said a break-in the night before near the Pan Am secure baggage area was not fully investigated by police, who he claims concealed the evidence.
“I wrote recently to the Crown Office (which handles Scottish prosecutions) asking why that had been concealed for 12 years, and if they knew about it all along,” he said.
He said they would not answer his question, which he said meant there must now be a thorough inquiry into the incident.
During Megrahi’s first appeal, held at Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands, his counsel raised the matter, saying it cast doubt on claims that the fatal bomb must have been loaded in Malta.
But the five appeal judges rejected the suggestion.
Malta had become crucial once police found a fragment of the bomb timer wrapped in a piece of clothing in a Dumfriesshire forest.
The clothes had Maltese labels – but question marks remain about how this discovery was made several months after the disaster, and also over how the material was handled.
The original trial heard labels on police evidence bags containing the fragment had been changed: the evidence of the officer who had done this was heavily criticised by the trial judges.
There were question marks too over Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who was the only man to identify Megrahi.
His evidence was that the Libyan, who he picked out at an identity parade, had bought the clothes at his shop.
But his police statements are inconsistent, and prosecutors failed to tell the defence that shortly before he attended an identity parade, Mr Gauci had seen a magazine article showing a picture of Megrahi, and speculating he might have been involved.
Mr Gauci now lives in Australia, and according to defence claims is believed to have been paid several million dollars by the Americans for his evidence.
It may be that we will never know exactly what happened in December 1988.
Secret documents before the Appeal Court – which even the defence has not seen – might have provided new information.
They will now remain undisclosed, after the foreign secretary issued a Public Information Immunity certificate stating that to publish them would be to the detriment of UK national security.
Megrahi was charged as a member of the Libyan Intelligence Services – acting with others.
If he was involved, the Libyan government, once a sponsor of worldwide terrorism, including support for the IRA, must have been involved too.
But with Britain and America doing big business with Libya now, perhaps it is in no-one’s political interests to have the truth emerge.
Megrahi is now dying, but he may have been a convenient scapegoat for a much bigger conspiracy.