‘Second Chernobyl’ uncovered in Ukraine

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‘Second Chernobyl’ uncovered in Ukraine – paper

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant
19:35 03/12/2010
© RIA Novosti. Sergei Starostenko

A group of independent environmentalists has uncovered a zone in Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region where the radiation level is higher than that in Chernobyl, the Ukrainian paper Segodnya said on Friday.

Regional authorities have dismissed the report, saying the ecologists used equipment not certificated in Ukraine.

The abandoned uranium mine, located in the Ukrainian village of Dovhyvka, poses a great danger to people and the environment, Oleksiy Vedmidsky, the head of a local group of ecologists, said.

“My particle detector measured 2611 micro Roentgen per hour there,” the environmentalist said adding that normal exposure is 30 micro Roentgen per hour. “Even in the Chernobyl zone near the reactor the exposure is 500-600 micro Roentgen per hour,” he said.

“This radiation won’t kill people at once; it all depends on the time you spend near such a powerful source of radiation. But there are no warning signs there,” Vedmidsky said.

Ecologist added that around 7 million tons of dangerous material were buried under the abandoned site

“According to our information, 7 million tones of processing medium are buried there,” ecologist Yuriy Babynin said.

Locals keep livestock in the abandoned site.

“We know that there was once a mine here, but we don’t know what exactly was processed,” Serhiy Leonidovych, said. When the mine was closed several workers received new flats in another city, “and those who remained avoided speaking about their work,” he added.

“People who are spreading alarm used a particle detector not certified in Ukraine,” Serhiy Milyutyn, spokesman for Dnepropetrovsk region’s administration said when asked.

Vedmidsky said he used a Geiger counter manufactured by a reliable U.S. firm and emphasized that he trusts its readings.

“The counters used by the government indicate only one type of radiation, while my detects alfa, beta, gamma and roentgen rays,” he said.

KIEV, December 3 (RIA Novosti)

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Techniques of empire: What is new and what is the same old stuff?

[The use of private military contractors for combat missions should be a serious war crime, but, to the best of my knowledge, it is not.  Reagan’s doctrine of converting American military posture to one of “limited warfare” operations was a way to skirt the issues of Congressional oversight, as well as the need to inform the American people they that their sons were fighting in another undeclared war.  The primary reason for this strategic switch was the desire to use force to solve America’s problems throughout the world without risking inadvertently causing nuclear war.  In this manner, the Imperialist plotters waged war against the Soviets and all their allies, as well as our own allies, without exposing America’s bloody hands to the world.  It was a completely immoral concept, whose diabolical authors ranked as equals with all previous aggressive murdering regimes throughout history.  (SEE:  When Limited Warfare Strategy Seems Like Treason).]

Techniques of empire: What is new and what is the same old stuff?

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Original source: Diary of a Heartland Radical

Empires past

Nations, tribes, armed members of messianic religions from time to time have engaged in conquest of others. Peoples have been slaughtered for their land, their natural resources, their mistaken beliefs. The techniques used to be simple: killing, imprisonment or enslavement, and occupation.

With the rise of capitalism as a global economic system, accumulated resources were used to create modern instruments of war — guns, ships, pollutants, and poisons. As Marx claimed long ago, capitalism was of necessity a global system so nation-states created in the era of economic modernity were compelled to pursue exploitable labor (particularly slaves), natural resources, market opportunities, and investment sites everywhere. Mercenary armies were created to conquer people and land and fight against the mercenary armies of other capitalist countries.

The British empire (“the sun never sets on the British Empire”) was caused by and facilitated the industrial revolution. In the 1880s European imperial powers came together to divide up the African continent. After the first of two world wars in the twentieth century, wars which cost 60 million deaths, the Middle East was divided up among declining powers, Great Britain and France.

The United States joined the imperial fray in the 1890s. It took the Hawaiian Islands, fought Spain to conquer Cuba, occupied other Caribbean Islands, and crushed the independence struggle in the Philippines. Over the next 30 years the United States invaded countries in the Western Hemisphere some 25 times, often leaving U.S. Marines in place for years.

The United States and the Cold War

A variety of imperial techniques became common as the United States fought the Communist enemy during the Cold War. With the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, the first of many “intelligence agencies” was launched to interfere with the political life of countries the U.S. regarded as strategic.

CIA money was used to shape elections in democracies such as France and Italy. Money flowed to Christian Democratic Parties created to oppose Socialist campaigns. Also money found its way into anti-Communist trade union federations. This pattern of interference was replicated in Latin America as well and later in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

The United States engaged in visible campaigns to create and support military coups; the most critical being in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s, Brazil and Indonesia in the 1960s, and Chile in the 1970s. And of course U.S. policymakers launched long and brutal wars in Korea and Vietnam leading to four million Asian deaths and 100,000 American soldiers killed.

The pursuit of U.S. empire included some modern strategies as well as conquest and subversion. President Truman, through the Marshall Plan, instituted an expensive campaign of economic and military assistance which would become a staple of U.S. Cold War policy. From the initiation of the Marshall Plan in 1948 with a modest $14 billion aid program to anti-Communist regimes in Europe through the Carter years, $235 billion was provided to selected and strategic imperial partners: first in Europe, then Asia and the Middle East.

President Kennedy contributed to the imperial tool kit; the provision of military advisors, funding for local militaries in countries threatened by revolution (such as in Central America), and training programs for military officers such as in the old School of the Americas. Economic assistance came with strings, the promotion of market-based economies, and opposition to indigenous and Communist political forces, at least as much as local political contexts would allow.

President Reagan was an imperial innovator as well. Constrained by the “Vietnam Syndrome,” public opposition to further Vietnam-style military quagmires, he established policies based upon “low intensity conflict.” Creating and funding local counterrevolutionary armies in places as varied as Nicaragua, Angola, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Afghanistan, the U.S. role in conflicts could be kept off the front pages of newspapers.

Civil war violence stimulated by U.S. resources would not be “low intensity” in countries where it occurred but it might be considered so in the U.S. Citizens would not learn of the critical U.S. support given to Islamic fundamentalist rebels, including Osama Bin Laden, fighting a pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s until quite recently.

To insure the limited visibility of U.S. global operations, and to reward political allies with government contracts, the Reagan administration dramatically expanded programs privatizing U.S. military operations. Support for the Contra war against the Nicaraguan people involved transferring public funds to private armies and using key foreign policy advisers, such as Colonel Oliver North, as conduits and organizers of networks of private sources of funding for war.

Thus began public programs to encourage and stimulate the creation of private companies that would fight America’s wars. The American people had little way of knowing how deeply involved they were in violence around the world and the danger of sinking into new Vietnams.

Roman legions. Image from Cultural Resources.

21st century techniques of empire

The world has come a long way from the days of Roman legions slogging across land pillaging and killing. The days of nineteenth century colonial rule — clumsy and arrogant with foreign occupants of land lording over exploited local workers — has changed. However, it is important to reflect on the new or more developed techniques of empire, while never forgetting that there are centuries long continuities of techniques of imperial rule.

For starters, Marc Pilisuk reports in Who Benefits From Global Violence and War: Uncovering a Destructive System that the character of war has changed over the years and centuries. Wars today are not usually between nations. Casualties of wars are overwhelmingly civilians rather than soldiers. The weapons used in wars today are more likely than in the past to temporarily or permanently damage the natural habitat as well as kill people.

Wars in recent years have been likely to be fought over natural resources. Nations and groups now are more likely to be supplied with weapons produced by a handful of corporations that specialize in the production of military supplies. These weapons are provided by a small number of nations. Finally, wars fought in modern times, the last 100 years, have caused more deaths than in any other comparable period of human history.

Pilisuk reports that since World War II 250 wars have occurred causing 50 million deaths and leaving millions homeless. (The United States participated significantly in 75 military interventions.)

Recently a number of journalistic and scholarly accounts have added to our understanding of newer techniques of empire, particularly U.S. empire.

* Global presence. Pilisuk, Chalmers Johnson (The Sorrows of Empire) and others have estimated that the United States has over 700, perhaps 800 military installations in more than 40 countries. Some years ago the Pentagon determined that huge Cold War era military bases needed to be replaced with smaller, strategically located bases for rapid mobilization to attend to “trouble-spots” in the Global South. While forward basing in South Asia and in nations formerly part of the Soviet Union has received some attention seven new U.S. bases being established in Colombia (within striking distance of hostile Venezuela) and increased naval operations in the Caribbean have not. In addition, there are some 6,000 domestic military bases, many that anchor the economies of small towns.

* Privatization of the U.S. military. David Isenberg (“Private Military Contractors and U.S. Grand Strategy,” PRIO, Oslo, 2009) refers to “…the U.S. government’s huge and growing reliance on private contractors” which “…constitutes an attempt to circumvent or evade public skepticism about the United States’ self-appointed role as global policemen.” While PMCs provide many services, such as combat, consulting, training armies, and military support, their combat presence in the two major wars of the 21st century, Afghanistan and Iraq, has generated the most, if limited, public attention. Isenberg says that between 1950 and 1989 PMCs participated in 15 conflicts in other countries and from 1990 to 2000 another 80. PMCs were employed in civil wars such as in Angola, Sierre Leone, and the Balkans.

A recent Washington Post investigation compiled a data base, “Top Secret America,” “that found 1,931 intelligence contracting firms” doing top secret work “for 1,271 government organizations at over 10,000 sites.” TSA indicates that 90 percent of the intelligence work is done by 110 contractors. Defense department spokespersons and legislators claim that the United States needs to continue allocating billions of dollars to private contractors to maintain military performance levels that are minimally acceptable.

The X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle. Artist’s rendering from Defense Industry Daily.

* Unmanned aerial vehicles. Nick Turse (The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives) describes the introduction of unmanned aerial weapons in the 1990s and their current weaponry of choice for the White House and others who prefer antiseptic and bloodless (on our side) technologies to eliminate enemies. New predator drones can be programmed to fly over distant lands and target enemies for unstoppable air strikes. Drones have been increasingly popular as weapons in fighting enemies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

Connecting drone strikes to assassination teams and other war-making techniques, Shane, Mazzetti, and Worth, (“Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents,” The New York Times, August 16, 2010) refers to shadow wars against terrorist targets. “In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.”

* Assassinations. The United States has initiated campaigns to identify and assassinate presumed enemies. CIA operatives and private contractors join teams of army specialists under the Joint Special Operations Command (13,000 assassination commandos around the world) to kill foreigners alleged to be affiliated with terrorist groups. These targets can include U.S. citizens living abroad who have been deemed to be terrorist collaborators. In the Western Hemisphere, the United States, through Latin American military personnel trained at the School of the Americas, has long supported assassination programs that now seem to be “globalized,” that is administered everywhere.

Fred Branfman (Alternet, August 24, 2010) starkly describes the assassination policy: “The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America’s military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people.”

* Missionary humanitarian interventions. While most techniques of empire involve the direct use of violence, public and private organizations expand the presence of empire through so-called “humanitarian assistance.” While the work of the missionary has often followed the flag, never has such activism impacted so heavily on global politics as today.

For example, The New York Times (July 6, 2010) reported that Christian evangelical groups have transferred substantial amounts of funds to Jewish settlements in occupied territories of the West Bank. Furthermore, fundraising for settlements that stand in the way of the creation of a Palestinian state receive tax exemptions. The newspaper reports on “…at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade.”

The newspaper correctly points out that so-called “humanitarian” and tax deductible donations to entities in other countries tied to U.S. foreign policy are not new. But, the article suggests that donations to the settler movement are special “because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements. Tax breaks for the donations remain largely unchallenged, and unexamined by the American government.”

What is new about imperial policies

While the general character of imperial policies remains the same, whether the empire is Rome, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, or the United States, changes in technology, the state system, ideology, and tactical thinking have had their effects.

First, imperial rule has become truly global. From bases in far-off places to unmanned drones flying over literally millions of targets everywhere, empires operate with no constraints based on geography.

Second, the military has become big business. Private corporations assume a greater share of Department of Defense budgets. Private companies now clean up and cook for the troops, train foreign soldiers, assassinate assumed terrorist enemies, and fight small wars with almost no visibility to publics.

Third, the United States is moving toward fighting wars without soldiers on the ground. Enemies can be identified by computer and military technologists can then push the right buttons to kill the unfortunate targets. Killing has become antiseptic. Killers can say goodbye to the kids in the morning, drive to work, push some buttons, drive home and spend the evening with the family. Meanwhile thousands of miles away there are mourners crying over those just assassinated.

Fourth, empires, at least the U.S. empire, can kill with impunity. Targets labeled terrorist can be eliminated by unmanned space weapons, specially trained assassination teams, or average foot soldiers.

Finally, empires can expand and change the destiny of peoples through so-called “humanitarian assistance.” Local goals, good or bad, are furthered by the large financial resources that special interests can bring to other countries.

Empires have had a long and ugly history. Because of technology, economics, and ideology new techniques of empire have been added to the old. The struggle against all empires must continue.

Ex-Militia Chief Sentenced Under Colombia’s Demobilization Law

Ex-Militia Chief Sentenced Under Colombia’s Demobilization Law

BOGOTA – A Colombian former paramilitary chief who confessed to ordering some 4,000 murders and used an oven to dispose of his victims’ bodies was sentenced here to eight years behind bars, judiciary sources said.

Jorge Ivan Laverde, alias “El Iguano” – a former leader of one of the fronts of the ostensibly demobilized AUC militia federation’s Catatumbo Bloc – was sentenced Thursday by the Bogota Superior Tribunal to the maximum prison term allowable under the law governing the paramilitaries’ demobilization.

The erstwhile militia chief told authorities he personally carried out 100 of the slayings.

Laverde is the third former militia leader sentenced under the Justice and Peace Law.

In June, Uber Enrique Banquez Martinez, alias “Juancho Dique,” and Edwar Cobos Tellez, alias “Diego Vecino,” were also sentenced to eight years in prison after confessing to several massacres in northern Colombia.

The AUC’s more than 31,000 fighters demobilized between the end of 2003 and mid-2006 as part of a peace process with then-President Alvaro Uribe, although successor groups have since emerged that comprise between 4,000 and 10,000 members, depending on the source.

Under the terms of the 2005 Peace and Justice Law, pushed through Congress by the U.S.-backed Uribe administration to regulate the militiamen’s reinsertion into society, former AUC members face a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted of any of the scores of massacres of suspected leftist rebel sympathizers attributed to the paramilitaries over the years.

The law also shields former AUC members from extradition to the United States provided they cooperate with authorities; in 2008, several demobilized paramilitary leaders were handed over to the United States to face drug and money-laundering charges after allegedly flouting the terms of the peace accords.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court upheld the law in 2006 but conditioned the sentence reductions and other benefits on full disclosure and confession of crimes and reparations to victims.

Though the AUC was founded to battle leftist rebels, it deteriorated into a loose association of drug-dealing death squads led by men who amassed large fortunes. EFE

Colombia’s human rights: rhetoric vs. statistics

Colombia’s human rights: rhetoric vs. statistics

by René Lavanchy
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

“Defence of human rights – hear it well – will be a firm and irrefutable commitment of my government…Colombians, I invite you to take part in the construction of a new dawn.” So spoke Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on his inauguration in August.

The problem is that many of the country’s human rights indicators are heading in the opposite direction. According to union-backed pressure group Justice for Colombia (whose all-singing, all-dancing website relaunched just the other day) 37 trade unionists, civil society activists and children have been murdered in the three months since Santos took power, mostly by the army or paramilitary groups. (The figures haven’t been published online yet).

“Despite the rhetoric, and a sophisticated public relations effort by the Colombian regime, the perpetrators are not being brought to justice. Impunity continues to reign”, says JFC. They’re publicising the killings as part of a campaign to persuade the European Union not to grant Colombia a new free trade agreement.

Santos, for his part, acknowledged at his inauguration that killers’ impunity from prosecution was a problem, calling it “one of the great challenges of our time”.

Meanwhile kidnappings are on the rise – and not just of Colombians but foreigners too – and opposition politicians continue to be killed. The left’s most commonly cited bugbear against the Colombian government, the killing of trade unionists, isn’t looking good either. It will hit a record of over 60 for this year if the kill rate in the first six months of this year is repeated.

WikiLeaks and Central Asia

WikiLeaks and Central Asia

Tariq Saeedi

Ashgabat, 3 December 2010 (nCa) — The quarter-million cables at WikiLeaks carry some valuable nuggets on Central Asia. Instead of looking at the contents of each cable – which are available on hundreds of websites already – let’s face two questions that are unavoidable: 1. What is the official American mindset as far as gathering and conveying a meaningful and usable picture from foreign missions to the capital is concerned; and 2. How does the rest of the world do it.

Speaking of the official American mind, it would be an understatement to say that it remains where it usually is – somewhere near the ankles. Actually, it has been a downhill journey from Powell to Rice to Clinton.

The career diplomats, in most cases, are like bureaucrats. They will report what is required of them; they will seek what they are asked to pursue; they will write what they hope will bring them some advancement in the career.

Looking at the quality of reporting, as evident from the WikiLeaks cables, one can say that it has gone from serious to mundane to bizarre.

The foreign policy, if it is to remain relevant and result oriented, must feed on deep and insightful reporting and observations. It should be built on reliable, ready-to-use pieces of information from diplomatic missions around the world.

This doesn’t seem to be the case when we look at the general pattern discernible from the recent cache of WikiLeaks. And, this is a big enough sample to confirm that the current American foreign policy is a rudderless ship.

The big mess that is called American foreign policy has long been obvious around the world, from Iraq to Afghanistan. Now we know what is being fed to keep this mess growing so fast.

But, what about the rest of the world? What do the other embassies in Central Asia report to their capitals?

The trouble with the so-called ‘war on terror’ is that it has distorted the whole concept of foreign policy. People can see gnomes in places where there are none.

No other embassies in Central Asia, with the possible exception of Russians, can match the resources and manpower of Americans.

This leads to predictable dependence on ‘feed’ from American diplomats. The opinions voiced by the American diplomats can, and probably do, find their way in the cables that other embassies send to their capitals.

While it is useful from the American perspective that their allies don’t stray too far from the Washington line, it shreds to pieces the concept of independent foreign policy. This can be called cloning of foreign policy, built around the stem cells provided by the Americans.

Calling this phenomenon ‘the Cold War mentality’ would actually nullify any attempts to analyze it. —— It is the old fashioned, time-honoured way of defending and promoting the American interests.

Based on what is coming out from the other end of the foreign policy machines of the countries friendly to the USA, one can guess what is being fed from this end. /// nCa

Challenges for Obama

Challenges for Obama

General Mirza Aslam Beg, Former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan

In the third world countries like Pakistan, when the leaders find the going tough, on the domestic front, they turn towards foreign policy pursuits, ultimately losing at both ends. This precisely is the case with President Obama now. Domestic problems are multiplying. Government favours elite and ignores the common folks. Has tried to stimulate the economy by buying treasury bonds, through “quantitative easing” which itself is the cause of political backlash. He is following a risky monetary strategy causing high rate of unemployment and multiplies shelter less victims of the mortgages. Health care reforms are the only silver lining around the dark economic clouds. The foreign policy is drifting into error, because of the failure to acknowledge the great set-back suffered at the hands of the Afghans, in their New Great Game in Euro-Asia.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, United States decided to extend its global primacy and pre-eminence into the Euro-Asian region, under the mistaken belief, that 21st Century belonged to them as the dominant global power. The ‘New Great Game,’ thus focused on containing and curbing the forces, considered threat to their global ambitions. First of all they betrayed the Afghan Mujahideen, who had won the war for them against the Soviets and induced a civil war, because a radical Islamic government in Afghanistan was considered a threat to their interests. Hastily they took-on the Iraqis in 1991, who had emerged stronger after the Iran-Iraq war destroying the bulk of their armed forces. They turned towards Somalia and encouraged their neighbours to invade the country and brought about a regime change. While the New Great Game was being implemented, the 9/11 attack filled the American hearts with revenge. Afghanistan was invaded and occupied, because it had committed the unforgivable sin of sheltering Osama, whom the Americans themselves had funded and supported against the Soviets. After consolidating their hold over Afghanistan, Iraq was invaded on the pretext that Saddam had developed atomic weapons. As the consolidation process continued in Afghanistan and Iraq, European Union extended its membership into Eastern Europe and jointly brought about the pro-west revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrghyzia. Thereafter Afghanistan was unilaterally declared as part of South Asia and India was assigned the role there under the Strategic Partnership with USA, with explicit declared objectives: “to curb and contain the rising threat of Islamic extremism in the region and the rising economic and military power of China.” In the process of implementation of this strategy, the Americans and their allies miserably failed because they could not estimate the power of the Islamic Resistance and suffered humiliating defeat at their hands. Thanks to the ‘war on terror strategy,’ which became the catalyst for the spread of the Islamic Resistance from Afghanistan to Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Kashmir and Palestine.

President Obama’s recent visit to India and their joint declaration shows disregard to the emerging ground realities. The  Taliban have  won the  war and have  proved true to their resolve, as conveyed to us in March 2002  by Mullah Omer. “We have resolved to fight and fight till we were free to take our decisions in a free environment. The Afghan nation will not follow the American agenda as it is not in harmony with our national ethos and traditions. We will fight till occupation forces vacate our land. We are a free people and know how to win our freedom.” True to their resolve, Mullah Omer stands firm on his commitment, as he pronounced recently “The moment of defeat of the invaders has arrived due to the great sacrifices of the Mujahideen. We will continue with our strategy to engage the enemy in an exhausting war of attrition and wear them out like the former Soviet Union. The more the war prolongs, the greater will be the enemy’s suffering.” There is no denying the fact that Taliban have won against the combined forces of USA and their allies.

In an asymmetric war, there is no clear cut line of victory and defeat, yet the Soviets had prudently accepted their defeat in 1989 and the Afghan Mujahideen in good grace allowed them to withdraw, unscathed, whereas the American and their allies find it much too painful to admit defeat so aptly described by Eric S. Margolis: “NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance, is losing the only war, the 61 years old pact ever fought, and is being beaten by the lightly armed Afghan farmers and tribesmen.”

The recent NATO declaration at Lisbon, betrays their wounded pride; shrouded in confusion: “We plan to end our combined role by 2014, or earlier, with ‘shallow’ troop’s withdrawal, starting next year and eventually accelerated.” In fact the declaration aims at inducing a civil war in Afghanistan, by handing-over power to the Northern Alliance supported by 150,000 strong Afghan Army and 100,000 police force consisting of mainly Tajiks, Uzbeks and the Hazaras. Thus Afghanistan will remain destabilized and accelerate the spread of Talibanization in South Asia and beyond.

Despite such shortsighted approach, there is still time to engage in ‘negative symmetry’, that is, “getting all regional forces, including India to lay-off Afghanistan, as the only chance for enduring peace.” The problem gets even more complex when the occupation forces look East and sea China as a rising power and a threat to their ambitions in the region. China’s rise is a patent reality. Unlike the former Soviet Union, China has no aggressive designs. In contrast it has chosen to enter the global order, maintaining cooperative relations, with all nations.” The purpose of the Indo-US partnership, therefore is to create a Cold War style anti-Chinese military alliance, which will prove detrimental to peace in the region.

Obama’s foreign policy strategy is out of step, with  reality, as his domestic policy. If he were seeking employment and jobs for the Americans, then his visit to Asia was not the correct choice, as Farid Zakria rightly pointed out: “He should have traveled to Canada and Mexico, instead, which together buy twenty times as much American goods and services as does India and ten times as many as does South Korea.” Obama’s current approach therefore is at a critical point. Sagacity demands a pragmatic strategy and a new vision to mark the start of a clear-eyed assessment, to steadily draw-down the forces from Afghanistan. This could be possible, only after reaching a clear understanding with the Taliban, otherwise, the exit will become horrendous. In 1989 Pakistan enjoyed a degree of clout with the ‘Mujahideen’ to let the Soviets withdraw, unscathed. Pakistan has lost that privilege now and Taliban are the only arbiters. In this respect, the US policy makers should listen to the logic of the Task Force of the US Senate headed by Richard Armitage, which recommends: “There is the need for a real national reconciliation process, for constitutional reforms and other political initiatives to end the conflict in Afghanistan.”

“The USA is a country in decline with a weakened political, economic and military system” and that is the challenge for Obama to demonstrate the courage to switch course and re-launch himself in pursuit of what he told his supporters: “I spent my whole life, chasing the American dream.” It is his job now to find common ground with the Republicans, “to move the country forward, and get things done for the American people.” He has to make time for a clear, compassionate and consistent communication with the people at home and abroad, particularly those who have suffered as a result of American pursuit of the elusive goal of global primacy and pre-eminence. The days of colonial imperialism have given way to deeper human sensibility of shared values of the global community.

Obama must heed Horace: “Force if unassisted by judgment, collapses through its own mass.”

About the author: General Aslam Beg is one of the most authoritative analysts in Pakistan. He can be reached atfriendsfoundation@live.co.uk

Wikileaks: A Tool of Psy Warfare

Wikileaks: A Tool of Psy Warfare

General Mirza Aslam Beg, Former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan

The Wikileaks revelations confirm the obvious, more than what it informs us about the darker corners of ‘US diplomacy, cloaked in securitocracy.’ In fact, it is Cyber War, in the new game of psy-warfare, targeting individuals and countries, to cover-up the shame of defeat of war on Afghanistan, war on Iraq and 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon. The cyber war has been launched, impacting public opinion globally, and focusing on three objectives mainly:

One: To cause defamation of the countries which have had a role, direct or indirect, in the defeat of the Americans and their allies, in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan, and create mistrust amongst them, so that they are not able to challenge future American plans in the region.

Two: To create conditions for a civil war in Afghanistan and out of the chaos and confusion, reduce Pakistan and Iran to subservience, something they have not been able to achieve during the last thirty years.

Three:             To establish Indian hegemony over South Asia, including Afghanistan, and project American strategic interests in the region.

The technique used in making these revelations is typical of psy operations approach, of mixing truth with lies in a manner that truth tends to get submerged under the lies, as is the case here. The report has not said a word about Israel, nor it gives any disadvantage to US in the implementation of policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and other Muslim countries, which have been particularly targeted. The Wikileaks betrays the role of a country with resources to break the secret code of US diplomatic order, because it is not possible for an individual like Julian Assange, the fugitive, to accomplish such high profile task. The report, no doubt, has created ripples around the world, but will subside as it is looked into with a deeper perspective, regarding its source, intent and purpose.

Hillary Clinton expressed concern over the Wikileaks revelations and resolved to prevent such happenings in the future. In the first place, did she not know what the ‘Wikileaks’ were upto, and why could they not be stopped in time and their website blocked, under the law of the country? It could be checked, if the US government so wanted, but did not, because, they themselves are part of the game.

Over the period, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have drawn closer to each other, Turkey is also looking East and a kind of Strategic Consensus is emerging. The multi-billion dollar gas pipe-line agreement has been signed with Iran, though Pakistan doesn’t have enough funds for the project but China is willing to support. Iranian generous support for the flood affected people, has been gratefully acknowledged by the people of Pakistan. Iranian President visited Riyadh, early this year and establish a new level of understanding with the Saudis and having had the bitter experience of the civil war in Afghanistan, induced by the Americans after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, the Iranians are now opposed to any such design by the occupation forces. Wikileaks, thus is a crude attempt to create distrust, between Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular at this critical juncture, when the occupation forces face the dilemma of exiting from Afghanistan, without any understanding reached with the Taliban. Thus a sinister plan is emerging to divide Afghanistan in three ethnic zones and deny overall control to the Taliban, because, Taliban rule is feared by the occupation forces. The plan to divide Afghanistan has been worked out at Brussels, by the Internal Crisis Group. Its main features are:

One:    A few months time has been given to Karzai to negotiate peace and evolve a plan with the Taliban and Northern Alliance. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran are expected to fully support such negotiations.

Two:    If negotiations fail, the alternative is to divide Afghanistan. Thus, the constitutional framework is being prepared for the new government, envisaging the judicial system and the political structure, based on consensus of the federating units.

Three: Afghanistan is to be divided into three ethnic zones. The provinces of Badakhshan, Samangan and Saraipul will be handed over to the Tajik and Uzbek warlords, who are already in control of these areas. Provinces in the East and South East will be given under control of Taliban and other tribal leaders. Kabul, Parwan, Wardak and Lugar provinces will be retained by the Americans, supported by about 10,000 American troops, operating from four air bases in this region.

It is a vicious plan, to once again plunge Afghanistan into a civil war and the consequential fall-out on the neighbouring countries. Thus, USA its allies, India and Russia in particular, will have a field day, stoking the fire of death and destruction in Afghanistan. It was the fall-out effect of thirty years of blood-letting in Afghanistan, that countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine and Kashmir are so radicalized. Many more countries will now be affected, in the region and beyond. Sadly, the conscience of the global community, it seems is rusted and is not moved by the death of over six million innocent Muslims, killed in Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and Kashmir, during the last thirty years, as a result of state aggression against the Muslim countries. And now the global peace-brokers want to be the witness to more blood-letting, through state terrorism by the civilized world.

When President Obama took over the reigns of the government, some two years back, it was simple for him to demonstrate courage and launch himself in pursuit of the change he had dreamt for the American people and say: “President Bush, you have won the war in Afghanistan and it is my job now to withdraw forces and leave the people there to establish peace in the country.” That would have been a very kind gesture of deeper human sensibility, particularly for the Muslims, who, will now suffer, under the shadows of Wikileaks and the vicious plan of deceit and division of Afghanistan and the consequential chaos, confusion and disorder.

The road to peace in Afghanistan passes through Washington, where the decision makers have to follow the Rule of the Game, that is, ‘engage with the winner – the Taliban, to lay down the conditions for peace.’ History is a witness to the rule of the game, some 2336 years ago, when Porus, the ruler of the Pak-Afghan border region, was produced before Alexander, the conqueror, who asked Porus, “What treatment should be given to you”? Porus replied “You know the Rule of the Game – Treat the way a king treats another king, who is defeated.” Alexander was so impressed that he handed over the territory, he had won, to Porus, and from this territory the Maurias rose to establish an empire, under the ‘Trimurti Seal’, which now is the State emblem of India.

Washington must follow, the Rule of the Game for the sake of enduring peace in Afghanistan. Truth must be faced, as Albert Schweitzer, the French philosopher said: “Truth has no special time of its own. It’s hour is now – always.”

About the author: General Aslam Beg is one of the most authoritative analysts in Pakistan. He can be reached atfriendsfoundation@live.co.uk