Of Course, Pakistan Is To Blame

Foreign hand behind Pune blast, says govt


NEW DELHI: The government on Monday said it cannot rule out the possibility of involvement of foreign hand in the Pune blast, including a David

Headley link, even as it disclosed that an ISI-sponsored ‘Karachi Project’ was on to doctrinate Indian youth into terror.
India is planning to seek access to Headley, a US national of Pakistani origin now in American custody, by even moving the US court.
Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said there is definitely a Headley link (to Pune blast) since it was very close to Osho Ashram which he had receed. It was difficult to believe there was no link with the Headley videos.
He said Headley had spoken of an ISI-sponsored ‘Karachi Project’ to take away Indian youth to Pakistan and indoctrinate them to carry out terror attacks in India.
However, he said the investigations in the Pune case are in "very preliminary stages" and it would be too early to comment. It is well known that organisations likeIndian Mujahideen have handlers across the border, Pillai added.
"We cannot rule out or rule in the possibility of the involvement of foreign hands in Pune blast," Pillai told reporters adding as to who did it and how they did it will take some time.
He said the investigators were on their job and government needed some time before it can break the case.
Asked whether government had any intelligence input before the blast, Pillai said government had some general information which was duly passed to Maharashtra government but there was no specific information about terror threat to any particular city.
On the possibility of Indian Mujahideen terror module’s involvement, Pillai said "we do not know whether the old modules are still existing or whether some new modules have come up. But we have alerted the states wherever they had existed earlier and keep a check on their activities."
On Headley, he said "during his interrogation, Headley has said that the ‘Karachi Project’ was launched by ISI with the objective of taking Indian youths to Pakistan, have them indoctrinated, give them training and send them back to India to carryout terror attacks".
Asked whether India would seek access to Headley, Pillai said "we have already asked for the access to David Headley. He is currently in grand jury indictment. First, we have to file a chargesheet, then move a court for Letter Rogatory and then approach the American court for his access".
He also said due to different legal systems (in India and the US) Indian investigators have not been able to get access to him so far.
Asked whether any Major of the Pakistan Army was present in the control room of the attackers of Mumbai (26/11), he said "there is no such confirmation yet. We have got some reports from the FBI but unless we get voice sample, it is difficult to corroborate…"

Even Mayor Daley Wonders Why No One Cares About the War

Photo by Sean Cooley

At the 16th Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards this week, Mayor Daley remarked on the apparent lack of anti-war demonstrations in Chicago. Vocalo reports that the mayor, whose son Patrick has been called back to active duty in the Army, had wondered why there aren’t more protesters on the streets of Chicago. In his speech, Mayor Daley said “Why do we have to always go to war, continually? Why can’t we rebuild America…how did we start this century of ten years of war?”

It’s possible that Daley forgot about the recent demonstration in Federal Plaza in December, but he’s more than likely still reeling from the news that his son will be shipping out for a second tour of duty. When friends and family leave home for a combat zone, one can’t help but worry sick for their safety.

However, this new found longing for the sound of bucket drums against a backdrop of shoulder padded, helmeted and CS gas armed police doesn’t add up, given the reception the city usually gives to protesters. In 2003, some 900 demonstrators were arrested protesting the invasion of Iraq, while many more were beaten by police. In 2005, riot police kept demonstrators off Michigan Avenue, opting for the much less visible Clark Street. The city even makes it difficult for demonstrators to march on an official level, often refusing to issue permits until hours after a rally begins, if they issue them at all.

It’s well known the anti-war movement has always taken figurative beatings in the last decade, as pundits and politicians all over the country equated dissent against war unpatriotic and branded protesters of any stripe anti-American. As to why people aren’t on the streets en masse frequently these days, it may have something to do with no gains being made by the movement. Though we’ve heard plenty of rhetoric about leaving Iraq, the time table consistently shifts. We’re escalating the war in Afghanistan and though Obama has toned down the saber rattling, he has escalated drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. With an administration that shows no interest in ending the war and local and federal authorities spending time and money cracking down on dissent at home, it’s hard to wonder why people aren’t in the streets – but it’s also not surprising.

Lebanese army fires on Israeli fighter planes: military

Lebanese army fires on Israeli fighter planes: military

BEIRUT — Lebanese anti-aircraft guns opened fire on four Israeli warplanes which were violating its airspace at low altitude on Sunday, the military said.

“The army’s anti-aircraft guns fired at four Israeli warplanes overflying southern Lebanon, Hasbaya, the Shouf and the Bekaa,” all in southeastern Lebanon, an army statement said.

The incident came amid heightened concern in Lebanon over recent Israeli threats against Shiite militant party Hezbollah and its backer Syria.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri described Israeli military activity as “escalating” and “really dangerous” in a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday.

“During the past two months, every day we have Israeli planes entering Lebanese airspace,” Hariri said.

Israeli officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that any attack by Hezbollah will spark a tough response, and have been locked in a war of words with Syrian leaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to ease tensions, saying Israel wants peace with all of its neighbours.

But earlier this month Netanyahu accused Beirut of allowing Hezbollah to smuggle weapons into Lebanon in “blatant violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite party.

Israel’s regular overflights into southern Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold, are also a breach of Resolution 1701.

But Israel argues the overflights are necessary to monitor what it claims is massive arms smuggling by Hezbollah.

While Lebanon’s army publishes almost daily reports of Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, the military rarely opens fire unless the planes fly within range of its guns.

Chronicle of a brutal but largely ignored war zone

Chronicle of a brutal but largely ignored war zone


WITHOUT TROUBLING the world’s headline writers, more than 30 people were shot dead in the last month in the Russian Caucasus, a region of extreme beauty and danger between the shores of the Black Sea and the Caspian. They died in gun battles and ambushes that erupt every day in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, mainly Muslim republics that present Russia with what President Dmitry Medvedev has called its greatest domestic challenge.

Only last spring Russian officials were declaring an end to anti-terrorist operations in Chechnya, scene of two brutal wars since 1994. Full-scale war may be over in Chechnya, but it has spawned a regional insurgency with a strong Islamist element that is arguably a greater threat to Russian stability than Chechnya’s independence- minded fighters ever were.

Emma Gilligan’s book chronicles Moscow’s brutal response to the republic’s demand for freedom, an onslaught that has shattered Chechen society, fuelled armed resistance across the Caucasus and bred a new generation of violent extremists. She focuses on the second Chechen war, started by Boris Yeltsin in autumn 1999 and pursued by Vladimir Putin when he stepped up from the prime minister’s post to the Kremlin in 2000.

She looks at the indiscriminate bombing of Chechen towns and villages in 1999-2000, which killed up to 10,000 civilians and caused 250,000 to leave their homes for neighbouring Ingushetia, a desperately poor republic that had no way of coping with such an influx. Russia made refugees of its own citizens, did little to ease their misery and even bombed them as they fled.

Gilligan, a lecturer in Russian history and human rights at the University of Connecticut, also studies the phenomenon of the “zachistka”, which is now a byword for state terror in Chechnya. Ostensibly a security sweep and document check by police, army or paramilitaries, it often ends in the disappearance of its subjects into a nether-world of illegal detention, demands for ransom from relatives, false accusations, torture and even summary execution. The mass graves listed here by Gilligan are testimony to the horror of Russia’s dirty war in Chechnya.

The second part of the book examines the response to the Russian campaign: the rebel attacks on civilian targets, including the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and the school in Beslan; the brave work of journalists like the late Anna Politkovskaya; and the failure of Europe, America, the UN and other international organisations to challenge Moscow over Chechnya.

Gilligan finds a rare glimmer of hope in the European Court of Human Rights, where many have won compensation from a Russian state that denies them recourse in its own law courts. One of the few officials to win praise in the book is Mary Robinson, for her efforts as the UN’s human rights chief.

Her thorough research is enlivened by testimony from Chechen victims of Russian troops and their local henchmen. She argues convincingly that Moscow’s failure to use proportional force against the rebels, its collective punishment of Chechens, the massive civilian casualties, disappearances and torture constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Her case that racism motivates Moscow’s treatment of the Chechens is less successful; Russia’s history shows that the brutality of its rulers makes little distinction for colour or creed.

Daniel McLaughlin covers central and eastern Europe for The Irish Times

Pleasing Mr Obama

Pleasing Mr Obama

By Fatima Bhutto

Zachary represents scores of America’s most secretly guarded prisoners. When he meets his clients, they are often chained to the ground in shackles. He told me how some of the guards at the prison are 18-year-olds, suckered into the job with the lure of extra pay and the promise that they are a buttress against the aspirations of global terrorism. Visits from the Dallas Cowboys football cheerleaders and Victoria’s Secret lingerie models, who have dropped by to rally the troops, make the difficult job and the long hours away from home occasionally worthwhile.

But last June, when I met Zachary, a lawyer with Reprieve – the British organisation set up by Clive Stafford Smith to defend the rights of prisoners across the world – we weren’t there to talk about him. Reprieve, which has a tiny office in Islamabad, was trying to drum up interest in Pakistan for the seven of its nationals being held in Guantanamo. Reprieve staff made the rounds; they called up the foreign minister and other notables in the PPP-led government hoping to convince them to lobby for their prisoners. No one bit; government officials did not seem to be terribly concerned.

Pakistan is a premier ally in the war on terror and it is with a certain amount of pride that the government proclaims that the road to Guantanamo started here in Pakistan. According to Reprieve, several Pakistani prisoners at Guantanamo were handed over for huge rewards, resulting in dubious profiteering by the state.

While other allies in the war on terror, including Britain under the divinely inspired Tony Blair and (surprisingly) Saudi Arabia, demanded the return of their citizens, calling their detainment at Gitmo unacceptable by their country’s legal standards, Pakistan seems not to have put up much of a fight. There are no Pakistani lawyers working directly on the cases of Pakistani nationals held at the prison, no local NGOs involved in the case of defending Pakistanis incarcerated abroad.

Katznelson was in Pakistan to speak about one citizen in particular – Saifullah Paracha, a businessman from Karachi who disappeared during a 2003 business trip to Bangkok. Paracha, who exported textiles to the United States, never left Bangkok airport or cleared immigration, and it was weeks before his family learned that he was being held at a US airbase in Bagram, Afghanistan. Paracha, whose eldest son was also taken into custody, was eventually moved to Guantanamo where, for the first two years, he had no legal representation.

He suffers heart problems, and has yet to see the complete evidence used to keep him as a guest of the US prison system.

The charges against Paracha are tenuous and vague. It is alleged that he helped al-Qaeda and that he ran a terror network. He did not. He had met, through his business dealings, several dubious sorts, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the “principal architect” of the 11 September 2001 attacks, and even Osama Bin Laden, but these meetings occurred before the men became infamous, no money has changed hands, and no contact or links were maintained.

Paracha’s 16-year-old daughter, Zahra, has not seen her father for six years. “It’s mind-boggling to me to even think about my father and brother because they are, in essence, political prisoners of a cold war between America and imaginary terrorists,” she wrote in an email to me. Now, she despairs at getting justice under the new US administration because already, in 2009, the issue of Guantanamo is beginning to seem stale: a talking point a new president discusses at press conferences, a faraway jail we’ve never been bothered enough about to deal with.

Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to close down Guantanamo; the closure of the prison is a priority, it has been said. But the president’s conservative opponents won’t give up Gitmo without a battle, warning that an exodus of prisoners is unlikely to make America a safer place.

In an article in the Washington Post on 5 February, Jim Riches, a retired firefighter who lost his son Jimmy in the 11 September 2001 attacks, is reported as saying this of President Obama’s decision on Guantanamo: “I want to let them [the government] know that these men are dangerous.”

Zahra, who created a website to publicise her father’s case when she was 13 years old, thinks the “average American doesn’t give a damn” about the illegality of her father’s and brother’s arrest and detention. She might be right. Unfortunately, it seems that the average Pakistani doesn’t care much, either.

In Pakistan, the government is hard at work ensuring that Afghanistan doesn’t turn out to be Obama’s Vietnam, as ominously declared by Newsweek this month. Since the new administration took office, Pakistan’s northern areas have been subject to three unmanned drone attacks. President Asif Ali Zardari made the bizarre choice, in the run-up to these attacks, of presenting the US assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher (they call him Richard Butcher here in Karachi) and Joe Biden with the national Hilal-e-Imtiaz award for their “services to Pakistan”.

So, nothing has changed since Obama’s election, for Pakistan at least. Nor, with talks of an Afghan surge and troop increase, are they likely to change for the imprisoned Pakistanis any time soon.

Miraculous Organ: Blair, Obama and the Narcissist’s Defense

Miraculous Organ: Blair, Obama and the Narcissist’s Defense

Chris Floyd

December 15, 2009

In recent days we have all witnessed two vomitous eruptions of moral nullity that would tax the powers of a Voltaire or a Vidal to do them proper justice; they quite o’er-crow the meager gifts of a hack like me. But I will sketch a few observations here nonetheless, if only to add one more small voice to those few who bear witness to the evils perpetrated by our unaccountable leaders.

We speak of course of Barack Obama’s Nobel speech and Tony Blair’s recent comments on the Iraq War.  Let’s take the lesser figure first.

Since leaving office, Tony Blair has dipped his blood-smeared snout into various corporate troughs, amassing millions, while simultaneously becoming one of the great whited sepulchres of our day, making a great show of his conversion to Catholicism, his “faith foundation,” and so on. He has even lectured at Yale Divinity School. But this holy huckster looks more haunted every day. The glaring, bulging eyes, the frantic rictus of his grin – indistinguishable from the grimace of a man in gut-clenching pain — and the ever-more strident, maniacal defense of his war crimes give compelling testimony to the hellish fires consuming his psyche.

Next month, Blair will go before the Chilcot Inquiry, a panel of UK Establishment worthies charged with investigating the origins of Britain’s role in the invasion of Iraq.  Although the worthies have been remarkably toothless in their questioning of the great and good so far – the smell of whitewash is definitely in the air – the inquiry has at least performed the useful function of bringing the forgotten subject of Iraq back into the public eye, while collating and confirming, with sworn testimony, much of what we have learned in dribs and drabs over the years about the rank, deliberate deceit behind this murderous catastrophe. One choice bit that has emerged from the inquiry is the revelation that the centerpiece of Blair’s case for immediate war – the claim that Saddam Hussein could hit Europe with WMD-loaded missiles on just 45 minutes’ notice – came from unconfirmed, third-hand gossip passed along by an Iraqi taxi driver.

As Blair’s turn on the well-padded Chilcot cushion draws near, he has launched frantic efforts to keep his testimony secret while at the same time trying to undercut the rationale for the whole war origins inquiry, which has focused on the professed justification for the invasion: disarming Iraq’s (non-existent) WMD. So last week, Blair gave an interview to a friendly, timorous chat-show host in which he made the brazen admission – no, the proud boast – that he would have found a way to drive Britain into war with Iraq even if he had known for certain that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. (And of course, given the nature of the “‘intelligence” that Blair used in his pre-war WMD claims  it is certain that Blair  was indeed certain that Saddam had no such weapons when the invasion was launched).

Thus it is now Blair’s contention that there is no charge to answer concerning the origins of the war; all this WMD guff is meaningless. He would have found “other arguments” to persuade Britons to follow George W. Bush into the war that American militarists had long been planning.

Blair’s admission has drawn a remarkable response from another Establishment mandarin, Sir Ken Macdonald, who served for five years as Director of Public Prosecutions under Blair’s government – and now works in private practice at a major law firm…alongside Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie. The headline in The Times puts it plainly: “Intoxicated by power, Blair tricked us into war.” In his column, Macdonald writes:

The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer. This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions and playing footsie on Sunday morning television does nothing to repair the damage. It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge with his partner George Bush and went on to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want, and on a basis that it’s increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible.

…Mr Blair’s fundamental flaw was his sycophancy towards power. Perhaps this seems odd in a man who drank so much of that mind-altering brew at home. But Washington turned his head and he couldn’t resist the stage or the glamour that it gave him. In this sense he was weak and, as we can see, he remains so. Since those sorry days we have frequently heard him repeating the self-regarding mantra that “hand on heart, I only did what I thought was right”. But this is a narcissist’s defence and self-belief is no answer to misjudgment: it is certainly no answer to death. “Yo, Blair”, perhaps, was his truest measure.

Macdonald also gives us a sneak peek inside the workings of the elite, with observations that doubtless apply equally well across the ocean:

In British public life, loyalty and service to power can sometimes count for more to insiders than any tricky questions of wider reputation. It’s the regard you are held in by your peers that really counts, so that steadfastness in the face of attack and threatened exposure brings its own rich hierarchy of honour and reward. Disloyalty, on the other hand, means a terrible casting out, a rocky and barren Roman exile that few have the courage to endure. So which way will our heroes jump?

We must hope in the right direction — for it is precisely this privately arranged nature of British Establishment power, stubborn beyond sympathy for years in the face of the modern world, that has brought our politics so low. If Chilcot fails to reveal the truth without fear in this Middle Eastern story of violence and destruction, the inquiry will be held in deserved and withering contempt.

It is almost certain that the Chilcot inquiry will produce little more than the usual blood-flecked whitewash. Certainly, Tony Blair will face no official action for his crimes; he will not even lose any of his corporate sponsors, unlike the heinous Tiger Woods, whose sexual intimacy with consenting adults is obviously far worse than the murder of more than one million innocent people. (We’ll never see Woods lecturing at Yale Divinity School now!)

But keep looking at Blair’s face; watch, year by year, as it brings forth the hideous fruits of the inferno within. For as one of his illustrious countrymen once put it: “Murder, though it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ.”

“A narcissist’s defense.” As a description of Obama’s Peace Prize speech, Macdonald’s phrase could hardly be bettered. But the intense, near-pathological self-regard in the speech was not Obama’s alone, of course; we must do him the credit of acknowledging that in this regard, at least, he was what we so often proclaim our leaders to be: the embodiment of the nation. His soaring proclamation of American exceptionalism, in a setting supposedly devoted to universal principles of peace, was breathtaking in its chutzpah – but entirely in keeping with the feelings of the vast majority of his countrymen, and the ruling elite above all.

Many have already remarked on Obama’s adoption in the speech of Bush’s principle of unilateral, “pre-emptive” military action, anytime, anywhere, whenever a leader declares his nation is under threat. This approach — which Bush called “the path of action” — was roundly scorned by critics of the former regime, many of whom now scramble to praise Obama’s “nuanced” embrace of aggression. But again, let us give credit where it is due; in this aspect of the speech, Obama did in fact go beyond Bush’s more narrowly nationalist conception, saying: “I — like any head of state — reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation.”

Thus Obama would, apparently, extend the right of unilateral military action to “anyhead of state” that feels the necessity of defending his or her nation. But of course this is just empty verbiage, a pointless, bald-faced lie that not even Bush would have tried to get away with. Would Obama accept a unilateral, pre-emptive strike by Tehran against Israel, where legislators and government officials routinely talk of attacking Iran? Would Obama cheer the “right” of Russia to strike unilaterally at Poland if the U.S. “missile shield” deal, now on hold, was suddenly consummated? Would Obama support a unilateral strike by India at Pakistan — or vice versa — in the still-seething cauldron of tensions on the subcontinent, where both nations legitimately feel threatened by the other? Would he support the right of Kim Jong-il to “defend his nation” by attacking South Korea the next time there is a threatening border incident there?

No, it is clear that only the United States — and its allies, like Israel — are to be allowed the supreme privilege of unilateral war. The line was inserted in the speech simply because it would sound good in the moment, and create a temporary emotional reaction that might carry listeners past the macabre incongruity underlying the entire event: giving a peace award to the bloodstained leader of a military machine hip-deep in the coagulate gore of two, vast, civilian-slaughtering wars.

Obama staked his boldest claim to American exceptionalism with a passage that he lifted, almost verbatim, from his West Point speech just a few days before (see hereand especially here), when he announced his second massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan:

Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

Here is chutzpah — and hubris — raised to the level of the sublime. Obama has taken the words he used to instigate the certain death of thousands of human beings and the acceleration of hatred, extremism, chaos and brutal corruption around the world — and offered them as justification for the hideous, unabashedly Orwellian doctrine at the core of his speech: War is Peace. In this perverse inversion of values, Obama, as a warmaker, is actually a peacemaker, you see — and thus a legitimate heir to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who was evoked at several points in the speech.

And here we come to what was for me the most revolting part of the speech. And perhaps the most significant too. All the cant about America’s altruism and “enlightened self-interest” in killing millions of people — Indochina was one of many convenient blank spots in Obama’s historical survey– for the sake of all the children of the world (red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in our sight) was just par for the rhetorical course. It was nothing that had not been said many times before, including the references — so lauded by Obama’s liberal apologists — to those inadvertent “mistakes” America seems to keep making; out of a surfeit of good intentions, no doubt. But I don’t think an American president has so openly and directly traduced the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi before. (And to do it while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, no less! Oh, that sublime brass….)

Although larded with usual hyper-yet-flaccid, florid-yet-false oratorical stylings that have become Obama’s trademark, his words about King and Gandhi drip with scorn and condescension. I was actually taken aback when I read these passages:

I make this statement [about the moral justification for war] mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.

The intellectual incoherence and arrogant sneering behind this supposedly laudatory passage is staggering. After claiming to be the personal embodiment of King and Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent action, Obama gives the game away with this line: “I face the world as it is.” Those other two guys, they were just dreamers, they were unrealistic, they were unserious; they didn’t “face the world as it is,” they weren’t savvy and pragmatic, like me. I have to go to war because I’m a head of state “sworn to protect and defend my nation.”

[Here, Obama indulges in a trope that is pandemic among his apologists: the idea that he was somehow forced to become the head of a militarist state waging endless war around the world, that he has somehow woken up and found himself “the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars.” But of course he chose to pursue this kind of power in this kind of system — chose it, pursued it, fought like hell to win it. It’s what he wanted. Yet still this notion of Obama as a helpless victim of fate — lost in a world he never made — persists.]

He then goes on to give the lie to his previously stated admiration for Gandhi and King: “A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” Thus, King, Gandhi and any practitioner of non-violent resistance to evil are, ultimately, naive, ineffectual — weak.

Notice the incoherence – or perhaps deliberate elision – at work here. Obama says he must face down “threats to the American people” — and then talks about Hitler’s armies, immediately coupling, and rhetorically equating them, with al-Qaeda’s scattered handful of hidden fugitives. Are the American people now threatened by Hitler’s armies? Are al-Qaeda’s paltry forces — less than 100 of them in Afghanistan, according to Obama’s own war-wagers — the equal of Hitler’s armies of millions of men?

But there is a deeper untruth beyond these cheap rhetorical tricks. For it is blatantly untrue to say that “a nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.” First of all, one cannot make that statement because this approach was never tried. Therefore you cannot say categorically that it would not have worked. Doubtless it would have cost millions of lives; but as Gandhi himself pointed out, the violent resistance to Hitler’s armies also cost tens of millions of lives. But Obama’s formulation — which is a hackneyed one indeed — only deals with one view of non-violent resistance to Hitler: i.e., from the outside, resisting his armies as they poured across the borders. There is another way in which a non-violent resistance movementwithout any doubt could have “halted Hitler’s armies”: if it had taken root and spread throughout Germany itself, including among the armed forces and its supporting industries.

In the event, this did not happen. But it was not, and is not, an impossibility for humankind to pursue such an approach. Therefore it is fatuous and false to state what cannot possibly be known: whether non-violent resistance would have thwarted Nazism, and whether this would have been more or less costly than the way of violence.

Similarly, it is false to say that “negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” The only response to this bald statement is: How do you know? Has anybody tried it? No. Therefore you cannot call it an impossibility — and then use this supposed, untested “impossibility” as your justification for laying waste to whole nations. You may say that it would be unjust to negotiate with al-Qaeda, that those who use murderous violence to achieve their ends should simply be killed or prosecuted. (Although where would that leave the leaders of the exalted, exceptional, unilateral United States?) But of course this is precisely what Gandhi did: he sat down and negotiated with the representatives of an empire that had caused the deaths of millions of his own people. He negotiated with them in good faith, with good will, despite what they had done and were doing to his people — and despite the fact that many of his interlocutors, such as Winston Churchill, hated him with a blind, racist fury. And he was successful — although again, not without cost, both before and after the liberation. But Gandhi, and King, knew the costs of non-violence – because they were genuinely savvy, and genuinely realistic about the nature of evil.

In any case, aside from the particulars of any real situation or hypothetical scenario, the speech is a glaring example of Obama’s deep-seated (and perhaps unconscious) contempt for the path of peace, and its practitioners. It is also a manifestation of his own inferno, of his desperate need to justify — to himself and to the world — his free, deliberate choice to follow the blood-choked “path of action” as the commander-in-chief of a bloated, brutal war machine.

No one forced any of these decisions – or these specious, obscene justifications – on Obama or Blair. It is their own narcissism — their own lust for power, and their love for the system that gave them that power – has covered them with the blood and shame that now taint their every word and deed.

:: Article nr. 61091 sent on 15-dec-2009 17:49 ECT

Link: www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1886-miraculous-orga

Surging Into the Savage Past in Afghanistan

Surging Into the Savage Past in Afghanistan

Chris Floyd

February 13, 2010

The current Nobel Peace laureate is continuing his noble and inspiring work of war this week in the latest PR blitz in Afghanistan: “Operation Moshtarak,” the much-ballyhooed, extravagantly telegraphed “attack” on the city of Marja. Is it even worth discussing this monstrous sham? The perpetrators of the attack know full well that there will be no “battle.” Even the American commanders cannot be so sealed in their arrogant ignorance that they do not know their insurgent opponents will do what every guerrilla army does when facing concentrations of conventional military force: disperse into the countryside, and into the urban populace, biding their time until the occupiers draw down their forces — and in the meantime launching small ambushes with sniper fire and roadside bombs aimed at the sitting-duck cannon fodder placed in harm’s way by their publicity-driven commanders.

And yet, the Western media has fully bought into the hackneyed, transparently false narrative of “the largest military operation of its kind since the American-backed war began eight years ago,” with a plucky band of Marines and their faithful Afghan allies facing down “hundreds” of hardened fighters in the “largest Taliban sanctuary inside Afghanistan.” The embedded media tracked the countdown to the attack as if they were hunkered down in the landing craft on their way to Omaha Beach. Except, of course, when one is genuinely planning an actual major attack on a strong, entrenched enemy — as at Omaha Beach — one does not normally advertise it around the clock for weeks on end beforehand.

If, however, one is attempting to galvanize public support for a long, grinding, bloody war of domination and occupation that has no discernible purpose (none that can be stated in public, anyway), why then, a nice set-piece “battle” which will end in a guaranteed, low-cost “victory” is just the ticket. It will demonstrate that the “new and improved” strategy of your “new and improved” president is “working,” and that we are “winning” — so we can’t quit now!

This is of course the same message conveyed many years — and many thousands of lives — ago by the fall of Kabul, the “conquest” of Kandahar, and other great triumphs that “cleaned out” the various “largest Taliban sanctuar[ies] inside Afghanistan.” But as any ad man can tell you, a commercial brand needs to be refreshed periodically in order to keep pulling in the profits. And the Afghan War brand has been a veritable bonanza, a cornucopia of contracts, corruption, profiteering and political pull for all of the interested parties involved: the various militaries and security apparats (and their contractors), the political elites, the many insurgent factions (loosely and falsely given the single rubric “Taliban”), the warlords, the druglords, organized crime, violent religious extremists — in short, all those who traffic in hate, death, conflict and fear.

Or as “retired American military officer working in security in Afghanistan” put it to Nir Rosen in Mother Jones:

“Every time our boys face them, we win,” he told me grimly. “We’re winning every day. Are we going to keep winning for 20 years?”

Yes, mister retired American military officer, that is indeed the plan — if they can swing it:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2017 — President David Petraeus’ “New Way Forward” in the Af-Pak War got off to a rousing start today as a combined force of U.S. Marines and Frontier paramilitaries launched a new ‘warfighter/nationbuilder’ offensive against this stonghold of Taliban insurgency. The attack is seen as a vital test of what the president has called his “Counterinsurgency 2.0” strategy, an updating of the highly successful approach that President Petraeus implemented in Iraq, where the 75,000 remaining U.S. advisors and trainers recently marked the 10th anniversary of his victorious surge…..

The true context of the present operation, and the many that preceded it, and the many that will follow it, was put in stark relief by Scott Horton at Harper’s last week, when he did us the great service of posting an excerpt from the correspondence between Lev Tolstoy and Mohandas Gandhi. The exchanges between the young Hindu lawyer and the aging Russian writer burn with a moral fervor and compassion that in our day seem to have come from another planet, not just another century. Here is an excerpt from that excerpt, taken from a letter that Tolstoy wrote (in his strong if imperfect English) just weeks before his death in 1910:

The longer I live – especially now when I clearly feel the approach of death – the more I feel moved to express what I feel more strongly than anything else, and what in my opinion is of immense importance, namely, what we call the renunciation of all opposition by force, which really simply means the doctrine of the law of love unperverted by sophistries. …

This law was announced by all the philosophies – Indian as well as Chinese, and Jewish, Greek and Roman. Most clearly, I think, was it announced by Christ, who said explicitly that on it hang all the Law and the Prophets. More than that, foreseeing the distortion that has hindered its recognition and may always hinder it, he specially indicated the danger of a misrepresentation that presents itself to men living by worldly interests – namely, that they may claim a right to defend their interests by force or, as he expressed it, to repay blow by blow and recover stolen property by force, etc., etc. He knew, as all reasonable men must do, that any employment of force is incompatible with love as the highest law of life, and that as soon as the use of force appears permissible even in a single case, the law itself is immediately negatived.

The whole of Christian civilization, outwardly so splendid, has grown up on this strange and flagrant–partly intentional but chiefly unconscious–misunderstanding and contradiction. At bottom, however, the law of love is, and can be, no longer valid if defence by force is set up beside it. And if once the law of love is not valid, then there remains no law except the right of might. In that state Christendom has lived for 1,900 years. Certainly men have always let themselves be guided by force as the main principle of their social order. …

The clear-eyed idealism — the belief in constant, relentless, non-violent resistance to evil — that drove Tolstoy, Gandhi and their many spiritual descendants, such as Martin Luther King Jr., are now openly mocked, or else condescendingly discarded as quaint relics, unsuitable for our own tough, savvy times. We saw a prime example of this derision only a few months ago, when Barack Obama, the loudly self-proclaimed Christian, accepted his Nobel Peace Prize with a ringing endorsement of state violence on a massive, savage, overwhelming scale, and an explicit renunciation of non-violence. (For more, see “Miraculous Organ: Blair, Obama and the Narcissists’ Defense“)

How far we have travelled in the wretched century since Tolstoy’s last letter to Gandhi — a journey into the past, back to the caves, back to the dark forests, where “there remains no law except the right of might.”

:: Article nr. 63255 sent on 14-feb-2010 02:47 ECT

Link: chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1924-the-last-station-su