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Offline bigron

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The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« on: June 15, 2009, 06:06:29 am »
Tom Dispatch
posted 2009-06-14 17:27:08

Tomgram: The Ir-Af-Pak War

Obama Looses the Manhunters

Charisma and the Imperial Presidency

By Tom Engelhardt

Let's face it, even Bo is photogenic, charismatic. He's a camera hound. And as for Barack, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia -- keep in mind that we're now in a first name culture -- they all glow on screen.

Before a camera they can do no wrong. And the president himself, well, if you didn't watch his speech in Cairo, you should have. The guy's impressive. Truly. He can speak to multiple audiences -- Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians, as well as a staggering range of Americans -- and somehow just about everyone comes away hearing something they like, feeling he's somehow on their side. And it doesn't even feel like pandering. It feels like thoughtfulness. It feels like intelligence.

For all I know -- and the test of this is still a long, treacherous way off -- Barack Obama may turn out to be the best pure politician we've seen since at least Ronald Reagan, if not Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He seems to have Roosevelt's same unreadable ability to listen and make you believe he's with you (no matter what he's actually going to do), which is a skill not to be whistled at.

Right now, he and his people are picking off the last Republican moderates via a little party-switching and some well-crafted appointments, and so driving that party and its conservative base absolutely nuts, if not into extreme southern isolation. In this sense, his first Supreme Court pick was little short of a political stroke of brilliance, whatever she turns out to do on the bench. Whether the opposition "wins" (which they won't) or loses in any attempt to block her nomination, they stand to further alienate a key voting bloc, Hispanics. Now 9% of voters, Hispanics went for Obama in the last election by a staggering 35-point margin. Next time their heft might even bring solidly red-state Texas closer to in-play status in the two-party system. In other words, the president has left his opponents in a situation where they can't win for losing.

Mix Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Reagan...

All this is little short of amazing, particularly if put into even the most modest historical context.

If, in a Star-Trekkian mode -- hand me the "red matter," Mr. Spock! -- you could transport yourself back to early 2003 and tell just about any American what's coming, you might have found yourself institutionalized. If you had said that the new norm would be a black president with Reagan-like popularity, Kennedy-like charisma, and Roosevelt-like skills in the political arena, leading a majority Democratic Congress in search of universal health care, solutions to global warming, energy conservation, and bullet trains, your listener might, at best, have responded with his or her own joke: "A priest, a rabbi, and a penguin walk into a bar..."

After all, back then, before two "hurricanes" -- the invasion of Iraq and Katrina -- began the process of turning our American world upside down, the Bush administration seemed to be riding ever higher globally and the Republican Party even higher than that at home. Back then, the neocons were consumed with imperial dreams of shock-and-awe-style eternal global conquest and domination ("Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran"); and the President's "brain," Karl Rove, now exiled to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, was convinced that he was nailing down a domestic Pax Republicana for generations to come.

And at that moment, who would have denied that things would turn out just that way? So don't let anyone tell you that history doesn't have its surprises. A black guy with the middle name of "Hussein," a liberal Chicago politician from -- in a phrase Republicans then regularly spit out, as if saying "Democratic" was too much effort -- the "Democrat Party"? I don't think so.

And yet, in mid-June 2009, less than five months into the Obama presidency, can you even remember that era before the dawn of time when people were wondering what it would be like for an African-American family to inhabit the White House? Would American voters allow it? Could Americans take it?

You betcha!

Being President

All that said, let's not forget reality. Barack Obama did not win an election to be president of Goodwill Industries, or the YMCA, or the Ford Foundation. He may be remarkable in many ways, but he is also president of the United States which means that he is head honcho for the globe's single great garrison state which now, to a significant extent, lives off war and the preparations for future war.

He is today the proprietor of -- to speak only of the region extending from North Africa to the Chinese border that the Bush loyalists used to call "the Greater Middle East" -- American bases, or facilities, or prepositioned military material (or all of the above) at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, in Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq (and Iraqi Kurdistan), Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan (where the U.S. military and the CIA share Pakistani military facilities), and a major Air Force facility on the British-controlled Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

Some U.S. bases in these countries are microscopic and solitary, but others like Camp Victory or Balad Air Base, both in Iraq, are gigantic installations in a web of embedded bases. According to an expert on the subject, Chalmers Johnson, the Pentagon's most recent official count of U.S. "sites" (i.e. bases) abroad is 761, but that does not include "espionage bases, those located in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan, and miscellaneous facilities in places considered too sensitive to discuss or which the Pentagon for its own reasons chooses to exclude -- e.g. in Israel, Kosovo, or Jordan."

In January when he entered the Oval Office, Barack Obama also inherited the largest embassy on Earth, built in Baghdad by the Bush administration to imperial proportions as a regional command center. It now houses what are politely referred to as 1,000 "diplomats." Recent news reports indicate that such a project wasn't just an aberration of the Bush era. Another embassy, just as gigantic, expected to house "a large military and intelligence contingent," will be constructed by the Obama administration in its new war capital, Islamabad, Pakistan. Once the usual cost overruns are added in, it may turn out be the first billion-dollar embassy. Each of these command centers will, assumedly, anchor the American presence in the Greater Middle East.

Barack Obama is also now the commander-in-chief of 11 aircraft carrier strike groups, which regularly patrol the planet's sea lanes. He sits atop a U.S. Intelligence Community (yes, that's what our intelligence crew like to call themselves) of at least 16 squabbling, overlapping agencies, heavily Pentagonized, and often at each other's throats. They have a cumulative hush-hush budget of perhaps $50 billion or more. (Imagine a power so obsessively consumed by the very idea of "intelligence" that it is willing to support 16 sizeable separate outfits doing such work, and that's not even counting various smaller offices dedicated to intelligence activities.)

The new president will preside over a country which now ponies up almost half the world's total military expenditures. His 2010 estimated Pentagon budget will be marginally higher than the last staggering one from the Bush years at $664 billion. (The real figure, once military funds stowed away in places like the Department of Energy are included, is actually significantly larger.)

He now inhabits a Washington in which deep-thinking consists of a pundit like Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution whining that these bloated sums are, in fact, too little to "maintain" U.S. forces (a budgetary increase of 7-8% per year for the next decade would, he claims, be just adequate); in which forward-looking means Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reorienting military spending toward preparations for fighting one, two, many Afghanistans; and in which out-of-the-box, futuristic thinking means letting the blue-skies crew at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) loose on far-out problems like how to turn "programmable matter" into future Transformer-like weapons of war.

While Obama enthusiasts can take pride in the appointment of some out-of-the-box thinkers in domestic areas, including energy, health, and the science of the environment, in two crucial areas his appointments are pure old-line Washington and have been so from the first post-election transitional moments. His key economic players and advisors are largely a crew of former Clintonistas, or Clintonista wannabes or protégés like Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner. They are distinctly inside-the-boxers, some of them responsible for the thinking that, in the 1990s, led directly to this catastrophic economic moment.

As for foreign policy, had the November election results been reversed, Obama's top team of today could just as easily have been appointed by Senator John McCain. National Security Advisor James Jones was actually a McCain friend, Gates someone he admired, and Hillary Clinton a figure he could well have picked for a top post after a narrow election victory, had he decided to reach out to the Democrats. As a group, Obama's key foreign policy figures and advisors are traditional players in the national security state and pre-Bush-style Washington guardians of American power, thinking globally in familiar ways.

General Manhunter

And let's be careful not to put all of this in the passive voice either when it comes to the new president. In both of these areas, he may have felt somewhat unsure of himself and so slotted in the old guard around him as a kind of political protection. Nonetheless, this hasn't just happened to him. He didn't just inherit the presidency. He went for it. And he isn't just sitting atop it. He's actively using it. He's wielding power. In foreign policy terms, he's settling in -- and despite his Cairo speech and various hints of change on subjects like relations with Iran, in largely predictable ways.

He may, for example, have declared a sunshine policy when it comes to transparency in government, but in his war policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, his imperial avatar is already plunging deep into the dark, distinctly opaque valley of death. He's just appointed a general, Stanley A. McChrystal, as his Afghan commander. From 2003-2008, McChrystal ran a special operations outfit in Iraq (and then Afghanistan) so secret that the Pentagon avoided mention of it. In those years, its operatives were torturing, abusing, and killing Iraqis as part of a systematic targeted assassination program on a large scale. It was, for those who remember the Vietnam era, a mini-Phoenix program in which possibly hundreds of enemies were assassinated: al-Qaeda-in-Iraq types, but also Sunni insurgents, and Sadrists (not to speak of others, since informers always settle scores and turn over their own personal enemies as well).

Although he's now being touted in the press as the man to bring the real deal in counterinsurgency to Afghanistan (and "protect" the Afghan population in the bargain), his actual field is "counter-terrorism." He spoke the right words to Congress during his recent confirmation hearings, but pay no attention.

The team he's now assembling in Washington to lead his operations in Afghanistan (and someday maybe Pakistan) tells you what you really need to know. It's filled with special operations types. The expertise of his chosen key lieutenants is, above all, in special ops work. At the same time, reports Rowan Scarborough at Fox News, an extra 1,000 special operations troops are now being "quietly" dispatched to Afghanistan, bringing the total number there to about 5,000. Keep in mind that it's been the special operations forces, with their kick-down-the-door night raids and air strikes, who have been involved in the most notorious incidents of civilian slaughter, which continue to enrage Afghans.

Note, by the way, that while the president is surging into Afghanistan 21,000 troops and advisors (as well as those special ops forces), ever more civilian diplomats and advisors, and ever larger infusions of money, there is now to be a command surge as well. General McChrystal, according to a recent New York Times article, has "been given carte blanche to handpick a dream team of subordinates, including many Special Operations veterans... [He] is assembling a corps of 400 officers and soldiers who will rotate between the United States and Afghanistan for a minimum of three years. That kind of commitment to one theater of combat is unknown in the military today outside Special Operations, but reflects an approach being imported by General McChrystal, who spent five years in charge of secret commando teams in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Like the new mega-embassy in Pakistan, this figure -- the Spartans, after all, only needed 300 warriors at Thermopylae -- tells us a great deal about the top-heavy manner in which the planet's super-garrison state fights its wars.

So, this is now truly Obama's war, about to be run by his chosen general, a figure from the dark side. Expect, then, from our sunshine president's men an ever bloodier secret campaign of so-called counter-terror (though it's essence is likely to be terror, pure and simple), as befits an imperial power trying to hang on to the Eastern reaches of the Greater Middle East.

The new crew aren't counterinsurgency warriors, but -- a term that has only recently entered our press -- "manhunters." And don't forget, President Obama is now presiding over an expanding war in which "manhunters" engaging in systematic assassination programs will not only be on the ground but, thanks to the CIA's escalating program of targeted assassination by robot aircraft, in the skies over the Pakistani tribal borderlands.

For those who care to remember, it was into counter-terrorism and an orgy of manhunting, abuse, and killing that the Vietnam era version of "counterinsurgency" dissolved as well.

Into the Charnel House of History

A neologism coined for the expanding Afghan war has recently come into widespread use: Af-Pak (for Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater of Operations). But the coining of neologisms shouldn't just be left to those in Washington, so let me suggest one that hints at one possible new world over which our newest president may unexpectedly preside: Ir-Af-Pak. Let it stand, conveniently, for the Iraq-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater of Operations -- a neologism that catches the perilously expansionist and devolutionary possibilities of our moment.

Media organizations in increasingly tight financial straits sense the explosive nature of this expansionist moment and, even as they are fleeing Iraq (and former bureaus in so many other places), like the president, they are doubling down and piling into Afghanistan and Pakistan. But don't count Iraq pacified yet. It remains an uneasy, dangerous, explosive place as, in fact, does the Greater Middle East. Worse yet, the Af-Pak War may not itself be done expanding. It could still, for instance, seep into one or more of the Central Asian 'stans, among other places, and already has made it into catastrophic Somalia, while a shaky Yemen could be swept into the grim festivities.

Finally, let's return to that "dream team" being put together by Obama's man in Afghanistan. That team of Spartans, according to the New York Times, is being formed with, minimally, a three-year horizon. This in itself is striking. After all, the Afghan War started in November 2001. So when the shortest possible Afghan tour of duty of the 400 is over, it will have been going on for more than 10½ years -- and no one dares to predict that, three years from now, the war will actually be at an end.

Looked at another way, the figure cited should probably not be one decade, but three. After all, our Afghan adventure began in 1980, when, in the jihad against the Soviets, we were supporting some of the very same fundamentalist figures now allied with the Taliban and fighting us in Afghanistan -- just as, once upon a time, we looked positively upon the Taliban; just as, once, we looked positively upon Saddam Hussein, who was for a while seen as our potential bulwark in the Middle East against the fundamentalist Islamic Republic of Iran. (Remarkably enough, only Iran has, until this moment, retained its position as our regional enemy over these decades.)

What a record, then, of blood and war, of great power politics and imperial hubris, of support for the heinous (including various fundamentalist groups and grim, authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes who remain our allies to this day). What a tale of imperial power frittered away and treasure squandered. Truly, Rudyard Kipling would have been able to do something with this.

As for me, I find myself in awe of these decades of folly. Thirty years in Afghanistan, it staggers the imagination. What tricks does that land play with the minds of imperial Great-Gamers? Maybe it has something to do with those poppies. Who knows? I'm no Kipling, but I am aware that this sorry tale has taken up almost half of my lifetime with no end in sight.

In the meantime, our new president has loosed the manhunters. His manhunters. This is where charisma disappears into the charnel house of history. Watch out.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.

[Note for readers: Credit where credit's due: the neologism, "Ir-Af-Pak," is actually the invention of Jonathan Schell. A small bow of appreciation to him for handing it off to me and another bow to Jim Peck for some inspired suggestions. Thanks as well to Alfred McCoy for helping to bring me up to speed on the meaning of General McChrystal's Iraq activities. In addition, the filmmaker Robert Greenwald's website Rethink Afghanistan :
(also the name of his new film) is starting to post clips about Afghan casualties of the U.S. air war. These will be incorporated into part four of his Afghan War film, being released part by part on-line. Because we see so little of this, these initial clips are sobering and well worth viewing. To do so, click here :

also here :

and here:

Copyright 2009 Tom Engelhardt

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2009, 08:10:23 am »
The Art of War for Dummies

Posted By Jeff Huber
On June 15, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

Military precision is to precision what Kenny G is to jazz. So it is that the art of war – known in our command and staff colleges as operational art – has a language so vague that it’s useless.

Take the term center of gravity. Everyone concurs that it is a vital concept, but nobody agrees on what it means. A Marine will tell you there can only be one center of gravity, but that’s because Marines can only think about one thing at a time (loving apologies to Staff Sgt. Joe Cleveland). An Air Force pilot will tell you a center of gravity is anything he can bomb, so you need to buy him a lot of expensive bombers so he can bomb everything. A naval aviator will tell you the center of gravity is always an aircraft carrier, even in land warfare. If you ask an intelligence officer what a center of gravity is he’ll tell you it’s classified so don’t quote him by name, and if you ask an Army general what a center of gravity is he’ll start breathing through his mouth.

No wonder the dummies running our woebegone wars can’t find their way out of Iraq or Afghanistan with a map and a flashlight.

Some desk commandos in the Pentagon think the center of gravity in Afghanistan is the Taliban. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen says the Afghan people are “the real centers of gravity." Sen. John Kerry says the strategic center of gravity in Afghanistan is Pakistan, an observation that explains much about his track record at crafting winning strategies.

The 19th-century Prussian general and philosopher Carl von Clausewitz defined "center of gravity" (Schwerpunkt) as “the point against which all our energies should be directed." Clausewitz also established that “war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means” and that "the political object" must determine "the military objective to be reached." It doesn’t take a cosmology major to figure out that an enemy’s center of gravity is the main obstacle between our objective and us, and that our center of gravity is the asset that will achieve our objective.

Perhaps it’s understandable that our military and political leaders are so confused about the centers of gravity in the Bananastans. Clausewitz tells us that “strategy is the use of the engagement for the purpose of the war" and that "the aim will determine the series of actions intended to achieve it." National Security Adviser James Jones and his White House war wonks unveiled our new Bananastan strategy in March, and its "realistic and achievable objectives" are unadulterated delirium.

We can’t create "an effective government in Afghanistan" or a "stable constitutional government in Pakistan." "Disrupting terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan" won’t "degrade any ability they have to plan and launch international terrorist attacks." The only thing today’s terrorists need to plan and launch international attacks is an iPhone; they don’t need to hunker down in a mountaintop cave on the far side of the Khyber Pass to use one of those things. They have freedom of action to operate from front row center at Bob Redford’s film festival in the Rockies if they choose to. "Involving the international community to actively assist in addressing these objectives" won’t be of any help. The Bananastan strategy objectives are so fantastic that the intergalactic community from the Star Trek universe couldn’t help us achieve them.

Not even the Vulcans could derive logical centers of gravity from the war aims the Jones gang has dreamed up. Spock himself would blanch at the thought of crafting measures of effectiveness to determine whether or not we’re making progress toward achieving such cockamamie goals; but Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, our new top Bananastan general, has taken a shot at it. "The measure of effectiveness will not be enemy killed," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee at his June 2 confirmation hearing. "It will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence."

Not a single member of that committee had sufficient intellect or spine to ask McChrystal how many shielded Afghans, in his opinion, might constitute victory.

Centers of gravity can change over time, space, and levels of war. That sounds more complex than a double-decker 3-D chess tournament at first, but it’s reasonably simple. Folks who can spell their names correctly will catch on to the time and space model quickly enough. Next week’s umpteenth reoccupation of al-Kaboom, for example, will have different centers of gravity than today’s air raid on the terrorist camp that’s camouflaged as a Muslim wedding chapel. The basic levels of war are the tactical, operational, and strategic. The tactical level is where combat takes place, and the strategic level is where military actions achieve (or fail to achieve) a war’s political aims. Tactical actions are planned and coordinated to achieve strategic goals at the operational level.

Tactical and operational centers of gravity consist of some type of armed force. To the U-boat skipper bent on sinking a supply convoy, the enemy center of gravity is the convoy’s destroyer escort. An operational center of gravity may be the armored division that blocks us from capturing a major oil field, or an air defense system that thwarts our efforts to bomb key infrastructure.

Strategic centers of gravity are always political leadership. Common military wisdom deems that popular support or national resources or the media can be strategic centers of gravity, but common military wisdom is all too common and none too wise. Population, resources, and so on may be critical factors – strengths, weaknesses, or critical vulnerabilities – but they are only important as they affect political leadership. The obsession of Mullen and McChrystal with the Afghan population is cause for grave concern. A population may influence leadership with its vote or by storming the palace, but it is your enemy’s leadership, not its angry mob, that can produce the political behavior you want. The effect of popular opinion is minimal in oppressive nations, but its influence is overrated even in so-called liberal democracies. In the last two federal elections, Americans overwhelmingly voted for the antiwar agenda. For all the good it did us, we all might as well have cast our ballots in Florida.

The overarching strategic importance of political leadership makes you want to think very, very hard before you charge off with a goal of regime-change, as our Mesopotamia mistake so vividly illustrates. And the puppets we propped up in the Bananastans haven’t done so well either, have they? That crazy so-and-so McChrystal told the BBC on Friday that the Bananastan bog-down “will go on until we achieve the kind of progress we want to achieve. It won’t be short.”

Of course it won’t be short. No American conflict is short in the long war era, even though the oldest warfare sage available to us, Sun Tzu, famously warned that "no nation ever profited from a long war."

And as the living sage Pete Seeger famously asks, when will we ever learn?

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Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2009, 12:17:24 pm »
End of Fake Taliban: Pakistan offensive to target Baitullah Mehsud

Soldiers of Pakistan army get ready to transport tanks in Pakistani insurgency hit areas.

Pakistan government orders its troops to launch an offensive against Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in the country’s troubled north-west.

Owais Ghani, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) governor, announced late on Sunday that Pakistani troops had been told to expand their offensive against militants into the South Waziristan tribal region, a stronghold of pro-Taliban militants’ notorious leader.

“The military and law-enforcing agencies have been ordered to carry out a full-scale operation to eliminate these beasts and killers,” Ghani said at a press conference.

Mehsud, a warlord in his late 30s, has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide attacks on civilians and security forces across the violence-hit country.

The official orders come after Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed that it was behind serial attacks on mosques in northwestern garrison town of Nowshera and eastern city of Lahore.

The bombings killed several people including a prominent cleric and fueled anti-Taliban sentiments among the Pakistani people.

Also See:

Pakistan opens new fronts against militants, steps up war against Taliban

Indian RAW funded Swat terrorists:$650 million to destabilize Pakistan

India is supporting Taliban against Pakistan says US intelligence official

Report:India is trying to separate Balochistan from Pakistan

In Pictures: The Horror of these fake Pakistani Talibans – Violence

And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2009, 12:23:33 pm »

Pakistan must not be used for terror, Singh tells Zardari
Tuesday, 16 Jun, 2009 | 06:25 PM PST

YEKATERINBURG, Russia: Pakistani soil must not be used for terrorism, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told President Asif Ali Zardari at their first meeting since November's Mumbai attacks, Russian news agencies reported.

‘I am happy to meet you but my mandate is to announce that the territory of Pakistan must not be used for terrorism,’ Singh told Zardari after shaking his hand, in comments translated into Russian. Following these remarks, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI), Zardari asked reporters to leave the room to allow the leaders to meet in private.

Pakistani Foreign Minister denied that Singh's tough words set the meeting off on a negative front, according to Reuters, saying 'I would look at it differently, I think it is a positive development the fact that the two leaders are meeting for the first time, on the sidelines of the SCO summit, since the tragic Mumbai incident. I think it is a positive development.'

The foreign minister went on to tell APP that the two sides had agreed to talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries, saying ‘In the meeting, Pakistan would apprise India about the steps it took against terrorism and would also discuss to address the Indian concerns in this regard.’

Seperately, an Indian official has told Reuters that the Indian and Pakistani leaders would meet again, in Egypt, most likely around July 15-16. At this meeting, ‘the issue they will discuss is primarily terrorism’ the official added. The focus on terrorism in discussions between the two sides is viewed as extremely significant, as it has been an issue of contention between the two.

Speaking yesterday, Zardari reiterated the need for better communication and cooperation within the region, saying ‘I think what is missing in this war ... is that the neighbours haven't been involved, the region has not been involved’.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev reiterated this at a meeting with Zardari, saying that 'we are ready for cooperation with Pakistan in all aspects of the fight against terrorism,' urging better economic ties with the country viewed in Moscow as a US ally. 'We think it is important that the situation in the region becomes calmer and healthier,' he added. 'I this will help ... to preserve Pakistan as a single and strong state.'

Earlier, Manmohan Singh urged regional cooperation against terrorism and other security threats. Singh made the call in a speech prepared for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit of Central Asian states and neighbouring powers.

‘The spectre of terrorism, extremist ideologies and illicit drug trafficking haunts our region. Terrorist crimes committed today are transnational in nature,’ Singh said in the text of the speech, which was given to reporters. He added that 'it is imperative that we genuinely cooperate with one another and on a global scale to resolutely defeat international terrorism.’

The leaders were meeting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional security body where both India and Pakistan are observers. New Delhi has put on hold a five-year-old peace process, saying Pakistan must act decisively against the Lashkar-i-Taiba militants India holds responsible for the Mumbai attacks.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2009, 06:06:54 am »
Published on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 by Extra!

Treating Civilian Deaths as a ‘Sore Point’

The PR war in Afghanistan and Pakistan

by Peter Hart

The White House decision to send additional ground troops to Afghanistan (see Extra!, 4/09 [1]) is only part of the escalation of the war in Central Asia. The increased use of airstrikes and drone-fired missiles in both that country and neighboring Pakistan are likely to increase civilian deaths. Recent coverage, however, suggests that corporate media will present such incidents as aberrations that distract from U.S. strategic interests—or highlight the supposed public relations prowess of official enemies like the Taliban.

A Washington Post piece headlined “Tactical Success, Strategic Defeat” (3/2/09 [2]) described a house raid in Afghanistan that became the source of controversy when Afghans said that U.S. forces killed an innocent man, which U.S. officials denied. The Afghan version of events “has stuck in the public mind” in the country, an “incriminating version—colored by villagers’ grief and anger, possibly twisted by Taliban propaganda and magnified by the growing influence of independent Afghan TV—[which] spread far faster than U.S. authorities could even attempt to counter.” The idea seems to be that a story about fellow citizens killed by foreign troops would not concern people unless it was “colored,” “twisted” or “magnified.”

After reports surfaced that as many as 140 Afghans died in U.S. airstrikes in western Afghanistan, the newspaper headlines gave a clear indication of the U.S. media’s priorities: “Afghan Civilian Deaths Present U.S. With Strategic Problem” (Washington Post, 5/8/09 [3]), “Civilian Deaths Imperil Support for Afghan War” (New York Times, 5/7/09 [4]), “Claim of Afghan Civilian Deaths Clouds U.S. Talks” (Wall Street Journal, 5/7/09 [5]).

The “issue of civilian casualties is extremely difficult in Afghanistan,” explained one Associated Press account (4/19/09 [6]); they are “an increasingly sensitive issue with President Hamid Karzai” reported another (3/22/09 [7]). In one New York Times story (5/7/09 [4]), these deaths were “a decisive factor in souring many Afghans on the war.” A raid in Afghanistan that killed five people was responsible for “resurrecting a sore point that has troubled the American-led war here,” according to the Times (3/23/09 [8]). It’s odd enough to describe dead civilians as a “sore point,” but presenting the “war” itself as being troubled by them suggests that they are chiefly important as impediments to the military operation.

However “sensitive” and “difficult” an issue they may be, deaths of civilians are often cast as unfortunate errors committed by a diligent military. The Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller (2/24/09 [9]), reporting from a U.S. aircraft carrier, quoted one U.S. commander: “We don’t drop when we’re unsure.” (The article also reported that “pilots circle Taliban strongholds like an airborne 911 service,” dropping “bombs that kill three, four or five Taliban fighters at a time.”)

At the same time, reporters raise their eyebrows at complaints from Afghan or Pakistani politicians. Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s regular protests against U.S. raids and airstrikes that kill Afghan civilians were dubbed “bitter outbursts” by the Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland (3/22/0 [10]9). New York Times reporter Jane Perlez took that line of thinking much further in an April 16 [11] piece headlined, “Pakistan Rehearses Its Two-Step on Airstrikes.”

Perlez acknowledged that “the Pakistanis’ discomfort with the drones is real,” but in explaining the “larger issue” she stressed U.S. strategic considerations before getting to civilian deaths: “Then there is the matter of public perception, particularly over the civilian casualties caused by the drone strikes, which infuriate Pakistani politicians and the media.”

Perlez told readers that such deaths—“the matter of public perception”—number perhaps 500, but she found a former Pakistani general to make the claim that “the government fails to point out that many of those killed are most likely hosting Qaeda militants and cannot be deemed entirely innocent.” The piece closed with a long discussion of an “unscientific” survey of opinion that suggested that Pakistanis might actually accept airstrikes against their country.

And to hear CBS Evening News tell it, the U.S. is at a disadvantage in that battle over public perception. Anchor Katie Couric declared (1/27/09) that a U.S. commander “says the Taliban have become masters of manipulating public opinion.” Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer relied on that same military source to advance this argument, nothing that “there’s huge frustration that anytime the U.S. military is honest about its lethal mistakes, that’s used against them.” Palmer concluded her report: “U.S. success in this complex war depends as much on controlling the message as deploying the guns.”

Such coverage suggests that U.S. accounts of civilian attacks are generally to be trusted, but that Afghans are unwilling to believe them because they’ve been fooled by the Taliban. This ignores the many high-profile cases where U.S. officials have been forced to admit—after early denials—that Afghan accounts of civilian deaths were indeed more reliable than the stories told by U.S. officials (, 9/11/08 [12]; New York Times, 2/22/09, 5/8/09). If Afghans—or Pakistanis—choose to believe their own leaders or media accounts, they may just be learning from experience. Perhaps U.S. corporate media should follow their example.

© 2009 Extra! Magazine (FAIR)
Peter Hart is the activism director at FAIR [13]. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra [14], and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin [15]. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly" [16] (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2009, 08:02:37 am »
The Obama Wars: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Chic

by Ashley Sanders

June 27, 2009

As we all know by now, both the House and the Senate have passed a $106 billion bill to fund the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and, while they were at it, the IMF and Mexico’s war on drugs.

But since you already know that, let’s talk about what we don’t know, or at least what we claim we didn’t. For example, that Obama is pro-war. Because progressives everywhere have their hands over their mouth in shock. We talk of betrayal and defection. Joshua Frank summed up the progressive problem pithily: "These are Obama’s wars now." The only real problem with this statement is that they have always been Obama’s wars: His opposition to the Iraq war, despite the flowers trailing from it and the flowers we wove onto those, was merely tactical; in his support for the 'good war’ in Afghanistan he didn’t even bother with flowers — it was so much 'bring it on.’ As for the broader picture, Obama’s so-called noble rhetoric is of the 'kinder, gentler imperialism’ strain; nowhere does he fundamentally question the right of the United States to rule the world economy, practice abject self-interestedness, and maintain a global military presence. His "peace" rhetoric is tinkering rhetoric, oiled with calls for diplomacy and schlocky hope-hope-hurrah expressly employed to make us feel good about doing what we have always done.

And the Democratic Party fares even worse. As Lance Selfa reminds us in The Democrats: A Critical History, Democratic presidents and majorities provoked or presided over every war of the 21st century, dropped The Bomb, pushed us to the brink of nuclear holocaust, expanded the defense budget, reinvented intervention, and routinely updated hyper-capitalism to suit the times, all while receiving fast cash and faster demands from the architects of oligarchy. Even their great and 'progressive’ offerings of the '30s and '60s were careful concessions to an increasingly militant opposition — confection concessions, candy to stop the revolution. (If you give a mouse a cookie, you’ll probably ask him for some milk. Oh, and he will probably vote for you anyway.) In other words, the Democrats are not just the Hypo-crats, as we in our bravest moments dare to call them. Their abdications are not accidents but necessities performed in the hallowed name of something both parties are happy to agree on: American empire. Their peace postures and bully-pulpit bravado are affectations in the elaborate act of decoy democracy, where The Enemy does its dirty deeds and Our Friends make sure it’s done dirt chic, in the way our consciences prefer it.

But you have heard all this before. And that is why I want to talk about something else — why I won’t bore you further with howling at the liberal moon but will, rather, treat the Democrats’ 'shocking’ abdication as a metaphor for what is wrong with our political system. You see, I had to give you the same old intro in order to ask the right question: Why are we so surprised?

Because we all are, or pretend we are. Progressive denizens and policy wonks, people who get up at 5am to watch C-Span and pore over the latest bills, are going on television and trotting out the same oh-me-oh-my’s that they trotted out for the Wall Street bailouts, telecom immunity, 'market-reform’ healthcare and the preservation of the state secrets doctrine. And if you have had the grave misfortune of owning a television in the last fifty years, you have also had the grave misfortune of hearing all this a thousand times per decade. It is as if progressives all got together in the 1950s with an unbelievably bad screenwriter and signed their lives over to movie rights, memorized the script: "Now remember, everybody. Anytime something goes terribly wrong and you are part of it, I will pan in on you. That’s where you wring your hands and say, cloyingly, 'How could this happen? Here, in the United States of America!"

Of course, the script has been updated for modern viewers. You know the drill. If you are going to criticize Obama, remember to use the word disappointed. If you can, pair it with a comprehensive pronoun-phrase. As in: "All of us here in the progressive movement are shocked and terribly disappointed that Obama . . ." Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Be shocked. Almost personally wounded. Demonstrate a willful amnesia about United States political history, and, more importantly, all of last election season.

But wait! You are about to lose your movement (for this is what you call your rag-tag, internet-fundraising, grassroots-is-the-new-Tammany e-mail list)! Get people’s attention back with homage to the 'party of the people’ and their great 'contributions to social justice.’ Pick a Republican, any Republican, and ridicule their backwater view of the world. Forget to mention that they are voting against the war in bigger numbers than Democrats. Say the word neo-con and pause for people to shiver. Pause again for people to congratulate themselves on not being neo-cons (those scheming backwater hicks!).

Now lower the boom. We (the progressives) are not going to get what we want this year. We don’t have the ______. (You will need to improvise on this one; it used to be votes, but you can’t use that anymore. Just don’t say backbone.) Reassure people that they are still the anti-war movement, the environmental movement, what-have-you. And they are powerful. After all, they elected the first Black president, the peace president, the community organizer, the …! (Stop before you faint on national television.)

Regain your composure and give your darling listeners the Greatest Compliment of All. Tell them that they are realistic. Oh, but they are savvy! They know what is possible. Say the phrase "from the inside out" and talk about "pushing the Democratic party to the left." Perform a mini-monologue on the virtue of incremental gains. Now you have most everybody drooling the same scripted drool. And for those pesky skeptics, a dash of manipulation. Remind them of the Dark Ages of Bush: how bad it was, what an utter departure it surely was from the benevolent policies of yester-empire, how fluke-ish and shockingly-sad-making it all was. Ask them if they want that to happen again. Stare into the camera. Well, do you? Do you?!? Good. Then don’t desert. Don’t leave your party now. And for heaven’s sake, don’t push too hard or you will ruin everything we have ever worked for!!

All that remains now is a brief comparison myth and a rallying cliché. The myth is up to you, but some popular ones include comparing the Obama Epoch to the civil rights era (say it worked and succeeded in whatever way suits your current purpose); FDR (who in the rosy glow of retrospect is a radical); Lincoln (who counsels Obama nightly about Total Altruism and Opposing Injustice as a Crime Against Humanity); or JFK (who’s too good-looking not to bring up!); all culminating in a gushing discussion on Michelle Obama’s wardrobe (which is just lovely and somehow represents a Great Stride Forward in some inexpressible way) and a shining statement about us being so glad to have a president who can speak in full sentences (apparently this is something to gush about). Do not mention Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, Eugene Debs, the Wobblies, or Emma Goldman, except to express a vague disdain (the most powerful argument) that makes their supporters look naïve or monstrous. We can’t have The People knowing how history actually works.

You have probably gotten too sentimental, so now is the time to restore your credibility while galvanizing the troops. The promised cliché. Say: "Now we all know Obama isn’t perfect (pause for people to feel a warm rush of self-satisfaction at having realized this), but no one is!" Argue that politicians are not like people and shouldn’t have to be. They can be immoral, ruthless, absurd, cold-blooded, insecure. It is naïve to expect otherwise. It is the people’s job to be moral! And that is why — drum-roll please — "We have to hold Obama’s feet to the fire, to make sure he does the right thing."

Deliver this metaphor like you are the first person to have ever thought of it. If it helps, put a silent 'Hey!’ in front of it in your mind, as in 'Hey! Wow! I just thought of this, guys. We should, like, not rest and stuff and like, hold Obama’s feet to the fire. He-ey! Yeah, that’s it!’ Say it like the stoned guy at the college party who wants everyone to know how profound it is to have, like, a hand. Whoa. Under no circumstances should you stray from the accepted metaphor. It is the Party’s darling, concocted in basement PR laboratories on Capitol Hill, tested on college idealists who are too young and dazzled to know better, rolled out officially at the national convention.

You are done! Done feeding history into the maw of media and myth! Smile frigidly as they thank you and pan out: "That was so-and-so so-and-so of…"

That is the disturbing aspect of a cultural script. It is the poltergeist haunting a democracy that thinks it has mastered free speech. It asks: How did everyone, every free-to-think person, end up saying the exact same falsehoods? Which leads us back, of course, to the question that gets at the meaning of democracy failure: Why does everyone have such vested interests in acting surprised?

The short answer is this: we are invested in acting surprised because politics is not about truth, but prestige. If that seems a naïve criticism, I am only taking the Parties and high school civics class at their words, and their words have been employed in the colossal effort to establish that politics is a truth project, or at very least an ethics project, in which people get together to battle over what is true and what is right — a project in which somebody can prevail (because, we are promised, they were true or right). The Democrats particularly love to disseminate this notion of politics, especially if they can cast themselves in the underdog role of unveiling that truth and fighting for that right. The entire Bush era is supposed to be a testament to the Democrat’s unflagging love of truth and justice. They stopped at nothing, the story goes, to unveil the misdeeds of the dastardly neo-cons and to get America its reputation back.

Of course, those eight years were loaded with hand wringing and histrionic surprise (here, in America!). Nobody pointed out the obvious: that this surprise and indignation could only exist in an America that had slavishly created a myth of original innocence (America does not torture!) that it could return to, a history of 'good wars’ fought for the 'right reasons’ and Camelots interrupted by tragedy. And nobody took that reasoning further and found, at the bottom of it, a two-party system that depends for its very survival on manufacturing domestic polarities — good and bad, truth and falsehood, enemy and friend—so that one party could dutifully assume the former and the other the latter while getting the real business of empire done together.

The Bush years were not years of great oppositional truth seeking, least of all on the part of the Democrats. The Bush years represented the public briefly confronting the culmination of an otherwise unquestioned logic that was we were distracted from by gestures of outrage. The Democrats responded the way they were supposed to: with shock at the excesses of empire merely. They were rewarded for this shock with the Democrats’ ready-made self-remuneration: a feeling of singular intelligence, a deep sense of welling conscience that was better — and this was the important part — than the idiocy of Republicans and the ruthlessness of Republican politics. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. It assured both politicians and people that they were free from the impurities that tainted the Other Party. And, since that is the psychological reason the vast majority of people get involved in politics, it served a convenient purpose: it gave people a sense of prestige and respectability that made it infinitely easier for the Democrats to do terrible things without being criticized for them. Indeed, it had become almost impossible to criticize at all. By equating people’s sense of truth and right with a 'better’ party, and then pairing that again with a sense of intelligence and prestige, the Democrats (and the grateful Republicans) made it so that people could not criticize American empire without impugning their intelligence and prestige. Bingo. In a subtle-simple sleight of hand, democracy became reputation and truth became allegiance.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the media, where liberal bloggers and late-night talk show host had made their fortunes and reputations as dogged detractors of the Bush regime. But when it came to the exact same regime under a new head, the bloggers and comedians cowered. The same organizations who used to send you emails about Evil Bush’s Evil Wars are now writing very different alerts: 'Help Obama!’ they say. 'Help Obama end the war in Iraq, push through the public healthcare option.’ No matter that Obama is committed to the war in Iraq and enthusiastically supports market healthcare 'reform.’ It is as if, somehow, we weren’t looking at the same deaths, the same logic, the same poverty or the same injustice. Or, at least, it is increasingly evident that this was not the issue. If it were, we would be chanting the same chants and writing with the same acid pens. But for the vast majority of politicians and people, it is obvious that justice, so called, is neither the point nor the goal. The goal is myth and a sense of prestige. The goal is to curb the excesses that make us confront our deepest hypocrisies: that our sense of justice is demarcated by our desire for comfort, that we invented a 'truth project’ to keep us safe from truth, that we mythologize the past to safeguard national solipsism, that political truth is a function of political loyalty and that prestige is more important than ethics.

We are invested in surprise because it allows us to continue believing that what we want is political truth, which we want, in turn, for the sake of political justice. The reality, however, is evidenced by the war funding bill: anti-war Democrats beating the war drum in the name of loyalty to 'anti-war’ Obama.

So we have come full-circle: an ostensibly anti-war President (a lie) appeals to an ostensibly anti-war party (another lie) to pass a war bill that causes ostensibly anti-war activists to feign shock, which somehow increases the sentiment that the Republicans (who largely voted against the bill) are the sponsor of all political evil. This strangulated logic is our latest and prettiest consequence of believing in parties more than principles. But more than that, it is the consequence of rejecting in the name of realism what we trumpet rhetorically: that politics can be about truth.

I am writing to reject this realism, and refuse to call this rejection naive. I reject it knowing that this is not an issue of Democrats or Republicans — that any party will sacrifice truth for its own preservation. I reject it because believing that it is realistic to believe in amoral politicians and sociopathic self-interest on a public scale while rejecting amorality and sociopathy on an individual scale has bred more blood and disaster than any other philosophy I can think of. To protect this mad logic with the myth that we have prevailed — that justice has been won — makes it even more certain that wars will continue and Congresses will continue to fund them.

Conversely, if we believed that people were the same as politicians — that people were the politicians — if we believed that we could expect and demand that these politicians (us, or other versions of us) act like we would, and for the reasons we would, it would be very difficult to accept a party system where truth was reducible to a loyalty that was itself reducible to the belief that there is a difference between the political and the personal. I believe in this idea, not as something idealistic, but as the beginning of an abiding realism that could actually shake things up.

And if not? Okay, then. But let’s stop with the Theatre of the False Surprise.

Ashley Sanders was the youth spokesperson for Ralph Nader's 2008 election campaign. She is working on a book of political essays on the Obama Myth. She is currently organizing against corporate power and big box stores in her hometown of Salt Lake City. She can be reached at [email protected]. Read other articles by Ashley.


Offline Harconen

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2009, 05:56:30 pm »
General McChrystal Now Seeking 80,000 Additional Troops for Afghanistan

Nancy A. Youssef and Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy Newspapers
Thu, 15 Oct 2009 20:01 EDT

The U.S. military can send only about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in the next three months without putting excessive strains on the Army and Marine Corps, but the top Afghanistan commander has said he needs more than twice that number to have the best chance of success, military and administration officials told McClatchy.

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal has said that even if it sent 30,000 additional troops, the U.S. would risk failure in Afghanistan under the current strategy. His resourcing plan offers President Barack Obama three options based on the estimated risk, said two U.S. military officials, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly and because the proposal remains classified.

The low risk option, which McChrystal has said offers the best chance to contain the Taliban-led insurgency and stabilize Afghanistan, calls for 80,000 additional U.S. troops, while his medium risk option puts the number at 40,000 to 45,000, the officials said.

"This is a fully resourced COIN (counter-insurgency) strategy with the low-risk option," one official said. The current Army counterinsurgency manual, however, estimates that an all-out COIN campaign in a country with Afghanistan's population would require about 600,000 troops.

Some 20,000 additional forces would be deployed under McChrystal's high-risk option, but that would mean the greatest risk of failure, the same official said. There now are 67,000 U.S. troops and 52,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan.

White House officials have leaked word that McChrystal's maximum option calls for 60,000 to 80,000 or more troops, but that many aren't available in the near future.

According to Army readiness figures, four lighter brigades needed for Afghanistan's rough terrain -- three from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and one from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. -- will be ready by December. A fifth brigade, also from the 101st Airborne, could deploy by March. Those would total roughly 25,000 troops who'd be accompanied by several thousand support troops.

Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway has said the Marines could deploy no more than 18,000 troops in Afghanistan, where 10,600 Marines already are serving. Marine officials said an additional 7,400 Marines could be available in three months.

The Army and Marines could deploy that many more troops to Afghanistan without extending tours of duty or reducing time at home between tours, which could further strain the forces. Indeed, the Army, led by Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, has said that extending tours to 15 months, as the military did during the 2007 surge in Iraq, could break the forces.

Army soldiers serve now one year of combat and get a minimum of one year off. Marines serve seven-month deployments and get at least 14 months off.

In addition, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates could order airmen, seamen and members of National Guard and Reserves, but military officials said that wouldn't substantially boost the total number of troops available.

Military readiness figures are fluid, and today's numbers are a snapshot of what the military could deploy. If the military accelerated the drawdown in Iraq, which would present serious logistical hurdles, the number of troops available for Afghanistan could rise, for example.

A change in strategy also could alter the size and type of forces needed. The Obama administration could ask for more trainers and fewer combat troops to build up the Afghan National Army, which currently has 95,000 troops.

Afghanistan also could demand more U.S. troops, however. Many coalition countries, including Britain, Germany and Italy, are facing mounting domestic pressure to leave Afghanistan. Earlier this week, however, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown authorized an additional 500 troops to reinforce the roughly 9,000 British forces serving there.

The Obama administration is reviewing its Afghanistan strategy as violence against U.S., coalition and Afghan forces are at their highest levels of the war, which entered it ninth year earlier this month.

"McChrystal has already said that the status quo cannot be sustained," the U.S. military official pointed out, referring to a separate assessment written by the U.S. commander that described the situation in Afghanistan as "dire." It was delivered to Obama last month.

In that assessment, McChrystal argued for more resources.

"Our campaign in Afghanistan has been historically under-resourced and remains so today. Almost every aspect of our collective effort and associated resourcing has lagged behind a growing insurgency," he wrote. "Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it."
Resist. Rebel. Cry out to all peoples and nations from the sky as the lightening flashes from the east to the west and judge the living and the dead.Or choose submission and slavery.

The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  (John 1:5)

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2009, 05:47:16 am »
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009,8599,1930909,00.html

Pakistan: Behind the Waziristan Offensive

By Aryn Baker

Some 30,000 Pakistani troops launched a much-awaited ground offensive in the Qaida and Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009.

After nearly three months of planning, and very public anticipation, Pakistan's military moved on the South Waziristan stronghold of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group of militants that Pakistani officials say have been behind some 80% of terrorist attacks in the country over the past few years, including the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto and a recent spate of violence that has taken 150 lives in the past two weeks.

The ground operation, code-named "Rah-i-Nijat" (Urdu for "Path to Deliverance"), was launched early Saturday morning after weeks of heavy aerial bombardments designed to weaken militant fortifications. By Sunday, some 28,000 soldiers had moved into a remote corner of the mountainous region, in a three-pronged attack intended to trap the estimated 7,000 to 10,000 militants in South Waziristan, including some 1,000 Uzbek and foreign fighters who may be affiliated with al Qaeda.

Heavy fighting has already claimed the lives of at least three soldiers (two of whom were killed by a landmine) and dozens of militants, according to military officials. Across the country, Pakistanis are glued to their television sets, watching an offensive — that seemed far away — against the militants believed responsible for widespread terrorist attacks that had left few corners of the country unscathed. Sunday morning's Dawn Newspaper led with the headline, "Army embarks on Rah-i-Nijat, Finally."

Anticipation for the Waziristan offensive began this summer after the conclusion of active fighting in Swat, another militant stronghold in Pakistan, when provincial officials announced that the government had decided to move next against the then chief of TTP, Baitullah Mehsud, in his South Waziristan stronghold. But military operations in Swat continued, and fighting spread to other districts, which tied up army operations for several more months. (See pictures of art from Pakistan and Afghanistan.)

In August, Mehsud was killed in a U.S. predator drone strike, leading to a vicious power struggle that elevated his deputy, Hakimullah Mehsud (thought to be in his late 20s) to power. The young man's promotion may explain the recent string of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including an audacious assault on military headquarters as well as coordinated raids on three security installations in Lahore. "You now have a young, flamboyant and dynamic leader in charge, and he wants to prove himself," says Major General Mahmud Ali Durrani, who after retiring from the Pakistani army served as ambassador to the US. "Like many young soldiers, he is aggressive, but he doesn't have the wisdom or experience of Baitullah. This will make him a difficult adversary."

That may be why the military has taken so long to launch the operation, which many army officials caution may take up to two months. But the announcement of an impending offensive, and its subsequent delay, may have made the situation more difficult, according to Senator Tariq Azim, who points out that the militants have had plenty of time to fortify their bases and stock up on supplies, or worse. "What is happening now is that terrorists in Waziristan know that they have two choices: they can stand and fight and die in the process, or they can escape to the cities, where they know that if they are going to die, well at least they can take a lot of people with them," he says.

Military officials, however, maintain that the months-long delay was essential for preparing for what is sure to be a long, difficult and drawn-out fight. The battle for Swat and its surrounding areas provided vital counter-insurgency training tool for the military, which also spent recent months cutting off supply lines to the militants in South Waziristan, hoping to weaken their defenses.

The Swat operation, still considered incomplete by some camps, holds many more lessons for Waziristan. Some 360 soldiers died in the battle for Swat, 60 of them officers, proving that military operations in difficult, mountainous areas against a committed guerilla army familiar with the terrain can be costly. South Waziristan holds even harsher terrain, with less infrastructure, and the military will have to resort to even longer supply lines through enemy territory.

The new offensive may also prove to be more challenging because, unlike the Swat Valley — a scenic, tourist-friendly area whose residents depend on outsiders for income and trade and income — South Waziristan has historically been closed to outsiders. Even in Swat, which political leaders have declared a victory, insurgents are still ambushing military convoys and launching suicide bombings against civilian and security targets, proving, as many local residents have long attested, that Taliban leaders are still present in many of the region's villages.

The remote and largely ungoverned nature of South Waziristan made it the ideal hiding place for foreign militants, al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban fleeing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Over the years, unmolested by government intervention, various groups of militants fortified their bases and recruited local residents to their cause. From those groups, the Pakistani Taliban emerged in 2003, partly in response to then President General Pervez Musharraf's about-face on support for the Afghan Taliban after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S.

Since then, the Pakistani army has led three military actions in South Waziristan, all of which ended in failure, forcing the military and government to sign peace accords that did little more than allow the militants to reorganize and strengthen their forces. This time, Hakimullah Mehsud and his followers are sure to fight even harder, knowing that if they fail, it could mean the collapse of the TTP movement.

As with Swat, the long lead time before the attack on South Waziristan has allowed more than 100,000 residents to flee the area and go to camps set up for an expected flood of refugees. While this massive influx of displaced persons risks a humanitarian disaster, especially if the operation is not wrapped up before the onset of winter, it does allow the military to work unimpeded without risking civilian casualties. Still, the camps, if not managed properly, can cause widespread resentment and frustration for displaced civilians, and provide fertile ground for anti-government propaganda.

It's also important that the action in South Waziristan doesn't end with the military operation. In order to fill the power vacuum, the civilian government will have to follow quickly behind with infrastructure, schools, medical clinics and courts — key elements whose absence allowed the Taliban to flourish in the first place. There, too, a lesson can be taken from the Swat experience. Military officials in the Swat Valley recently released thousands of low-level Taliban captives into the custody of local authorities, who have neither the infrastructure to hold nor the facilities to try the militants.

"Civilian reconstruction must dovetail seamlessly with the military operations this time around," says Durrani. "My fear is that it will not, and that everything we gain in the military operation will be lost if the government fails to provide the necessary (services). I am holding my breath. The future of Pakistan's children, and grandchildren, depends on this."

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2009, 07:47:43 am »
Middle East
Oct 20, 2009 
When the cat's away the mice kill each other

By Spengler

Iran has blamed the United States for Sunday's suicide bombing in Sistan-Balochistan province in which six Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders were killed, as well as 37 other people. In an indirect way, the charge is true. No one in Washington these days would dream of blowing up Iranian officials, to be sure. America's abdication of its position as the world's sole superpower, though, will make incidents of this sort routine.

No one in the region doubts that America eventually will leave Afghanistan the way it left Iraq - not the way it left Vietnam, because America had won the war on the ground in Vietnam, unlike Afghanistan, where it has won nothing. That will represent a triumph for the elements of Pakistan's military who supported the Taliban from the beginning.

The hostage-taking at Pakistan's military headquarters in Rawalpindi on October 10 and the bombing of police headquarters in Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, comprise part of the pattern that includes Sunday's bombings in the Iranian border town of Pisheen: the unifying element is a demonstration of Sunni power against an external enemy, namely Iran, as well as internal enemies.

The United States in the person of its AfPak majordomo, Richard Holbrooke, can send the Pakistani military on offensives against the Taliban as often as it wants. The Taliban will hide in the Waziristan hills, and wait for the Americans to leave Afghanistan. The US has no stomach for an extended fight.

The region is full of geopolitical mines. To be name some of them:

India can't let the fundamentalist side of the Pakistani military take power without responding.

Iran can't let Pakistan's Sunnis crush the 20% Shi'ite minority.

Israel can't allow for the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia can't let Iran dominate Iraq.

Turkey can't let Iraq's Kurds form an independent state.

China can't let Turkey agitate among the 100 million Muslim ethnic Turks within its borders.

Without America to mediate, scold and restrain, each of the small powers in the region has no choice but to test its strength against the others. That is why the major players in the region resemble a troupe of manic Morris dancers in a minefield.

The most dramatic response to Washington's abdication of power may be Israel's. The Jewish state's window of opportunity to strike at what it claims is an Iranian nuclear weapons program will close before long, either because the Iranian program will grow past the point at which air strikes can stop it, or because Iran will acquire S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia sophisticated enough to prevent an Israeli attack.

A complex negotiation involving Russia and Israel is underway. Russia has the capacity to suspend or cancel its promised shipments of S-300 missiles to Iran, or to provide Israel with means to make the system ineffective. Russian nuclear scientists, meanwhile, reportedly are assisting Tehran's weapons program, and the Russian government has the capacity to neutralize this threat as well. The question is: what does Russia want from Israel in return for refraining from arming Iran?

The answer may lie in the world's response to the virtual cancelation of the American F-22 program. Fewer than two hundred of the fifth-generation American stealth fighter are likely to be built, and the US will export none of them. America's efforts are concentrated rather on the F-35, a cheaper, more versatile and less advanced aircraft. For the first time since World War II, America's rule of the skies may be challenged by its failure to invest adequately in the next generation of American aircraft. Russia and India already have agreed on joint development of a fifth generation fighter aircraft based on existing Russian airframes. Russian quality control is notoriously poor and Russian avionics are backward. If Israel joined the consortium, the product might challenge the F-35 in the world market for military aviation.

Russia has only a few cards to play, but these cards are important: the proliferation of its anti-aircraft technology enhances its bargaining power. Were Israel to strike Iran during the next few weeks, it might do so not as a proxy for the US, but as part of a broader agreement with Russia. America may have missed the point of Russian policy. The entire issue of sanctions on Iran may seem like diplomatic idiocy to the Russians; the question, in Moscow's judgment, may come down to a digital decision: either attack Iran, or don't. Russia wants to benefit in either case, but it probably prefers to prevent an historic enemy on its southern border from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The United States may cast away its technological edge in air power without a second thought, but Russia understands that superpower status today depends more on military technology than any other factor. No one can control the failed states and soon-to-be-failed states of the region; one can only contain them. The fact that America can sail an aircraft carrier up to the coast of any country in the world without fear of attack and without significant opposition gives America a decisive edge in containment. That, I believe, is what Russia wants to diminish. Think of it as a chess move: sacrifice a few pieces, eg Iran, in order to get at the king. None of these terrible things would be happening if only Vladimir Putin were president of the United States, as I proposed last year. (See Putin for US president - more than ever Asia Times Online, August 13, 2008.)

If Israel were to set back Iran's nuclear weapons development, the position of the Tehran regime would deteriorate, particularly at the expense of Pakistan. I suspect that Sunday's suicide bombing targeting leaders of the Revolutionary Guards was a feint by Pakistan to test Iran's resolve. With Iran weakened, we should expect:

More Sunni violence against Iraqi Shi'ites, and an uncertain outcome for the 2010 Iraqi national elections.

More pressure on Hezbollah in Lebanon.

A free hand for the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Shi'ite Hazara, who traditionally received Iranian support.

A free hand for the Taliban's supporters in the Pakistani military, who will use the opportunity to mop up the 20% Shi'ite minority in Pakistan.

The world's attention will shift from the shadow-play of interests between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, to the Pakistan-Indian theater. Pakistan is the natural center of militant Islam. Unlike Iran, whose fertility has declined from six children per female during the 1960s to only 1.5 today, Pakistan has a large population of 173 million, and unlike most of its neighbors, it is young and growing. It is also under-educated, with a literacy rate of barely 50%, and poor, with most of the population living on less than a dollar a day.

The center of gravity of regional power is likely to shift away from Iran to Pakistan. The mass assassination of Iranian officers most likely represented a gesture from Pakistan as to what the future will bring. America's use of the Pakistani army to chase the Taliban around Waziristan has about the same effect as shaking a warm bottle of cola before opening it.

What is most astonishing is that official Washington seems entirely oblivious to the crack-up of American influence occurring in front of its eyes. None of the wonkish foreign policy blogs, let alone the mainstream press, seems able to focus. That is not surprising, for official Washington and unofficial Washington have a wheel-and-spoke relationship. As the staff at US State Department and National Security Council work up policy papers, they send out feelers to the think-tank community and get feedback. This is what feeds the Washington rumor mill.

The difference between this administration and every other administration I have observed is that there appears to be no staff work, no departmental effort, no National Security Council - nothing but President Barack Obama. Obama's penchant for policy czars has become the source of continuing controversy, with his opponents at Fox News and elsewhere complaining he has bypassed cabinet departments (whose senior staff require senate confirmation) in favor of 29 "policy czars" who report directly to him.

Like Poo-bah in the Mikado, the president seems to be Lord High Everything Else, Secretary of Everything and a non-stop presence before the television cameras. Some of his supporters are chagrined. The New Republic's publisher Marty Peretz, who evinces buyer's remorse over Obama's Middle East policy, diagnosed the president with "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" in his blog on October 4.

The reason for Obama's peculiar mode of governance, though, may have less to do with his apparent narcissism than with his objectives. It is a credible hypothesis that this president holds views that he cannot easily share, even with his own staff. As he told the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, he truly wants a world without superpowers: "In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed."

What does Obama mean by this? How strongly does he feel that America should not be elevated above any other nation? There is some basis for the conjecture that his innermost sentiment is hard-core, left-wing Third World antipathy to the United States. It now seems well established that his autobiography Dreams of My Father was ghost-written by the former Weatherman Bill Ayers, now a professor of education in Chicago. Long rumored, this allegation is confirmed by celebrity journalist Christopher Anderson in his new book, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage. Jack Cashill at the American Thinker has been on this trail for a year, comparing Ayers' attributed writing to Dreams, and in my view made a strong case even before Anderson's book appeared. Ayers never repudiated the bombs he planted in public buildings during the 1960s.

Obama's upbringing was leftist (which in itself proves nothing - so was mine). He was abandoned by three parents - his biological father Barack Obama Sr, his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetero, and his mother Ann Dunham, who left him with her parents to pursue doctoral research in anthropology in Indonesia. Dunham's communist sympathies from adolescence onward are widely reported; the African-American poet Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist Party member, was a friend of his maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham and, according to Dreams, something of a mentor to young Obama.

"Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: surviving against all odds", was the title of Dunham's doctoral dissertation. Dunham's sympathy for the traditional life of Indonesians fighting against the encroachment of the global economy evidently left a huge impression on young Obama, for he thought their lives better than those of poor people in the United States. As he (or Bill Ayers) wrote in Dreams of My Father:
And yet for all that poverty [in the Indonesian marketplace], there remained in their lives a discernible order, a tapestry of trading routes and middlemen, bribes to pay and customs to observe, the habits of a generation played out every day beneath the bargaining and the noise and the swirling dust. It was the absence of such coherence that made a place like [the Chicago housing projects] so desperate.
That paragraph is a precis of his mother's doctoral dissertation, and may be the most the most important point of self-revelation in Obama's collective utterances. The words may have come from Bill Ayers, but the sentiment is doubtless Obama's. In mature adulthood, Obama continued to identify with the leftist sentiments of his mother.

Obama appears to believe that America's influence in the world is malignant. But even a president who wants to drastically reduce America's influence in the world must negotiate a formidable military and national security establishment which has a strong moral commitment to - as well as vested interests in - that influence.

The president, in this view, consciously sees himself as an outsider who has become the leader of an alien tribe, rather like Eugene O'Neill's Brutus Jones or Kipling's Peachy Carnahan - except that Obama leads the world's only superpower rather than a primitive tribe. He demands personal control over the reins of power, for as an outsider he can trust no one - surely not David Axelrod or Rahm Emanuel. That may be why he has no real cabinet, but rather a set of "policy czars" who reported to him directly, including the special ambassadors George Mitchell, Dennis Ross and Richard Holbrooke.

Perhaps the cat isn't away, but locked up in the cellar. As a result the mice will slaughter each other. Those who wish to reduce American power may get what they wish for, but they might not like it.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman, associate editor of First Things (

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2009, 08:02:18 am »
from the October 18, 2009 edition -

Why South Waziristan offensive won't help US in Afghanistan

The Pakistan Army is going after terrorists who target Pakistan. All the major terrorist networks attacking US forces in Afghanistan operate from other areas of Pakistan.

By Mark Sappenfield | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

A Pakistani police officer checks an identification card of a tribal man, who fled military offensive area of South Waziristan, upon his arrival at a checkpoint, Sunday.

Pakistan's offensive into South Waziristan is targeting the terrorists who have wreaked havoc in Pakistan during recent weeks and not those attacking American troops in Afghanistan.

None of the three terror groups singled out as the greatest threat to American troops – according to the commander of US forces in Afghanistan – is based in South Waziristan.

This has been a notable feature of Pakistani antiterror efforts from 9/11 to today. The Army and its intelligence resources have focused their attention on terrorists seen to be a threat to the Pakistani state and done much less to curb those focusing on India or Afghanistan.

After 9/11, former Preisdent Pervez Musharraf turned over several top Al Qaeda leaders but refrained from cracking down on the Taliban. Now, one element of the Taliban, known as the Tehreek-i-Taliban, has turned against Pakistan, and the Pakistan Army is focusing on their stronghold in South Waziristan.

The same was true earlier this year, when the Pakistani Army routed terrorists attacking Pakistan from the Swat Valley.

The Quetta Shura Taliban

The greatest threat to US forces in Afghanistan comes from the faction of the Taliban still loyal to supreme leader Mullah Omar, according to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top US general in Afghanistan.

Virtually all reports suggest that Omar is located in the Pakistani city of Quetta. In fact, the US is so sure that Omar is there – and is so frustrated by Pakistan's unwillingness to do anything about it – that it strongly intimated it might expand drone attacks to Quetta, the Sunday Times reported last month.

Pakistan responded that Quetta was off-limits to US drones.

When a New York Times journalist traveled to Quetta in 2007 to report on potential links between the Pakistani Army and the Taliban, plainclothes intelligence officers broke into her hotel room, confiscated her computer, and punched her twice.

In his assessment of Afghanistan, McChrystal calls the wing of the Taliban commanded by Omar the Quetta Shura Taliban, and reports that it "has been working to control [the southern Afghan] city of Kandahar and its approaches for several years and there are indications that their influence over the city and neighboring districts is significant and growing."

More broadly, it aims to return Afghanistan to Taliban rule.

The Haqqani Network

The second greatest threat to US forces in Afghainstan is the network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin. Reports place them in North Waziristan.

A State Department document connects the Haqaani network to an attack in Kabul's only five-star hotel, the Serena, as well as to a failed assassination attempt against President Hamid Karzai.

The US recently shifted the focus of its drone attacks to North Waziristan from South Waziristan. It had concentrated on South Waziristan throughout the summer – apparently in an attempt to placate the Pakistanis. The attacks in South Waziristan were successful, killing the leader of the Tehreek-i-Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud.

But the renewed focus on North Waziristan – even as Pakistan invades the South – "indicates the US is now targeting the dangerous Haqqani Network and also al Qaeda's network, which operates in the agency," according to The Long War Journal.

The Haqqani Network's goal is "to regain eventually full control of its traditional base in [the three eastern Afghan provinces of] Khost, Paktia, and Paktika."

Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin

Third on McChrystal's list of Pakistan-based threats to troops in Afghanistan is the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin network led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. This group is believed to be responsible for the recent firefight in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province that left eight American soldiers dead.

It operates in parts of tribal Pakistan much farther north than South Waziristan. According to McChrystal, it "aims to negotiate a major role in a future Taliban government."

The South Waziristan offensive is not irrelevant to American strategic interests. "Stability in Pakistan is essential, not just in its own right, but also to enable progress in Afghanistan," McChrystal writes.

But, in and of itself, it is unlikely to have any dramatic effect on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2009, 08:05:56 am »
Despite Drone Strikes, Western Terror Recruits Increasing in Pakistan, Afghanistan

'German Taliban' Warns Germany Out of Afghanistan

Posted By Jason Ditz On October 18, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

The US military isn’t the only one having a banner year for recruitment, according to officials a growing number of disillusioned people from Western nations are flocking to Pakistan and Afghanistan to attend terror training camps, despite an increasing number of US drone strikes on those camps and dubious claims of the success of those strikes.

One recent video underscoring the trend was from a group calling itself the “German Taliban Mujahideen.” The video showed German speakers who had gone to Pakistan and were urging all Muslims to travel to the region to join their cause.

The video also urged German soldiers serving in Afghanistan to abandon the ongoing war, cautioning that they could either leave by choice or “return individually in coffins from the occupied territories.”

Recruitment seems to be growing across all major Western nations, though exactly why this is the case is unclear as the war continues to be a very dangerous business for all involved, whether on the NATO side or in the insurgency.

Related Stories
October 6, 2009 -- Obama to Afghan, Pakistani Govts: Occupation Will Continue
September 24, 2009 -- US Mulls Increasing Drone Strikes in Pakistan
September 23, 2009 -- Gen. McChrystal Warns of Growing Indian Influence in Afghanistan


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Offline Harconen

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2009, 02:18:43 pm »
US 'helpless' in halting Taliban's financial network

The Taliban raised hundreds of millions of dollars from the illicit drug trade.

Press TV
Mon, 19 Oct 2009 11:14 EDT

The eight-year-old US occupation of Afghanistan has neither halted the Taliban's "sophisticated financial network," nor their insurgent operations, a report confirms.

Taliban has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from the illicit drug trade, kidnappings, and extortion to finance their operations, the major US daily, The New York Times reported in its Sunday edition.

US and Afghan officials say the Taliban have imposed an elaborate system to tax the cultivation, processing and shipment of opium, as well as other crops, such as wheat.

According to officials at the Pentagon and the United Nations, Taliban's annual revenue from the illicit drug trade alone range from $70 million to $400 million, the Times reports.

American officials acknowledge that their attempts to stop Taliban's financing by using the military and intelligence gears were abortive.

"I don't believe we can significantly alter their effectiveness by cutting off their money right now," said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington State Democrat on the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

"I'm not saying we shouldn't try. It's just bigger and more complex than we can effectively stop," Smith admits.
Resist. Rebel. Cry out to all peoples and nations from the sky as the lightening flashes from the east to the west and judge the living and the dead.Or choose submission and slavery.

The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  (John 1:5)

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2009, 08:14:54 am »
US playing double game on Taliban: Report

19 Oct 2009, 1424 hrs IST, IANS
ISLAMABAD: US-led NATO forces vacated more than half a dozen security check posts on the Afghan side of the border just ahead of the major ground  offensive launched by the Pakistani military against the Taliban in the volatile South Waziristan region, a media report said Monday.

"It is feared that the American decision will facilitate Afghan Taliban in crossing over to Pakistan and support militants in striking back at the Pakistani security forces in the troubled tribal area," The News said in a report headlined "On whose side is US anyway?"

Sources close to the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and military strategists told the newspaper that US forces vacated eight security check posts on the Afghan side of the border just five days before the anti-Taliban operation began in South Waziristan on Saturday.

"Latest reports indicate that the Americans have also removed some posts close to North Waziristan, which could encourage even more Afghan Taliban fighters to cross over to the Pakistan side. This has raised many eyebrows in government and military circles with points being made about 'conflicting interests' and dubious American designs," The News said.

"The NWFP government and civilian and military officials in the provincial capital have been astonished by this move and more so intrigued by its timing. Alarmed and concerned about its likely adverse affect on the military operation in South Waziristan, where...28,000 (Pakistani) soldiers are expected to face fierce resistance from the heavily armed Taliban-led militants, the NWFP government recently alerted the relevant authorities in Islamabad about it," the newspaper added.

Experts believe the US move could undermine the military action by the Pakistan Army.

While on the one hand it could offer an easy escape route to some militants, it is believed that this would facilitate movement of Afghan Taliban into the Pakistan side to join hands with the Al Qaeda-backed local Taliban, as well as foreign militant groups against the military action.

"Some observers see it as a tactical move by the US to ward off pressure from its own forces in Afghanistan that have been under severe attacks by the Afghan Taliban. Hence they want to provide them unhindered passage to the Pakistan side as it would help shift the main theatre of war from Afghanistan to inside Pakistan. The Americans themselves have been saying that 70 per cent of the area in Afghanistan is out of their control," The News noted. 

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2009, 05:01:58 am »
Now Pakistan  

20/10/2009 11:00:00 PM GMT
 The sequential destruction of Muslim nations may or may not be a conspiracy hatched in Washington D.C., but it is becoming an international reality.

(AFP) It is not too late for Pakistan to return from the precipice of national suicide

By Ali Khan

Sequential destruction of Muslim nations

A conspiratorial view of the world is frequently inaccurate, exposing more the paranoia of the view rather than the reality of the world. The sequential destruction of Muslim nations -- Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, (and Iran is on the list) --- may or may not be a conspiracy hatched in Washington D.C., but it is becoming an international reality. It is no secret that the United States and Europe, with varying degree of mutual cooperation and some make-believe internal discord, superintend the sequential destruction of Muslim nations. This War of Sequential Destruction (WSD), despite Nobel-Laureate Barack Obama's denials, refuses to go away.

The WSD is multi-frontal. It crosshairs Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Bashir, Ahmadinejad, Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Many Western policymakers rarely see Muslim nations, including allies, with any inherent respect. Vice President Dick Cheney described the Muslim world as "brute and nasty." Obama advisers, though more guarded in their word choices, see Muslim nations no differently.

The idea that Islam is inherently violent, openly expressed during the Bush administration, continues to animate foreign policy. The White House holds a new President but Congressional leadership and Washington policymakers are more or less the same. Anti-Islamic policies of warfare and destabilization are intact.

Therefore, the WSD will continue and gather momentum. The picture is not pretty. Palestinians are penned in misery and their territorial cage is constantly shrinking to meet the "natural growth" of vociferous settlers. Oil-rich Iraq is under American occupation and its communities have been torn apart with irreversible harm. Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the world, is placed under the boots of Western armies. Thousands of Afghans have been murdered, their houses bombed, their villages devastated.

The International Criminal Court headquartered in Holland has indicted the first sitting head of the state, the Muslim President of Sudan. The United States and Europe, themselves armed with thousands of nuclear heads, are strategizing to punish Iran for asserting a treaty-based right to produce nuclear energy, leaving open the option of attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities.

After razing Iraq and Afghanistan, the WSD has now turned to ravage an ally, Muslim Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation that the British, in 1947, carved out of India and that India, in 1971, broke into two, liberating Bangladesh from the murderous clutch of the Pakistani military. Over the past sixty-two years, Pakistan's military and civilian rulers, one after the other, and without exception, have turned to America for military training, weapons, money, and strategic instructions.

Eager to send their sons and daughters to Western cities for education and employment, Pakistani politicians, generals, and bureaucrats all look for ways, and create the ways, to oblige Western capitals, particularly Washington D.C. Partly for personal interests and partly out of faulty readings of geopolitical situations, Pakistani rulers, like most rulers in Muslim nations, frequently compromise national sovereignty and public welfare.

The Pakistani orientation for self-destruction serves American interests. Facing a failing campaign in Afghanistan, Obama advisers decided to expand the war into Waziristan and other parts of Pakistan. The United States desperately solicited the Pakistani military to join the Afghan war. Pakistani rulers, this time a democratically elected government, listened to the American call. They first permitted the CIA to fly drones armed with missiles, which killed a few militants but hundreds of civilians in the tribal areas. The United States later urged Pakistan to invade Swat to kill militants. Pakistan did. Millions of civilians were made homeless.

The reaction to drone attacks and the ground offensive in Swat was fierce. Pashtun and Punjabi militants began to attack soft and hard targets. They attacked police stations, military trucks, and even the military's fortified headquarters in Rawalpindi. Citing these counter-offensives as a threat to Pakistan's national security, the United States urged the Pakistani military to launch a ground offensive in Waziristan. The rulers listened to the call and sent 30,000 troops to Waziristan. Muslims fighting Muslims have been efficacious in weakening the Iraqi militancy. The same formula, Obama advisers are betting, will crush the Pashtun resistance in Afghanistan.

Certainly, the United States can kill hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns on both sides of the AF-PAK border, even if no more troops are dispatched to the region. Killing militarily weak populations requires no sophisticated military strategy. The convenient but thoroughly demonized label of "Taliban" provides the rhetorical shield to justify the ghastly massacres of civilians. Since Pakistani military has joined the war, killings on both sides of the border will become even more robust. These killings will carry an air of logic, even legitimacy, since no military presumably kills is own people unless it sees a threat to national security.

Under coercion, Pakistan has started a civil war that will consume its economy, national security, and tear apart its social fabric. The civil war will spill into many parts of Pakistan. It already has arrived in some parts of Punjab. Militants are unlikely to confine this war to sparsely-populated Waziristan. They are taking the war to the most populated cities, including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, and Lahore. Karachi, which appears to be quiet, is sitting on a tinderbox. Karachi can erupt any minute as its ethnic rivalries are primed for a civil war. It is sheer foolery and a grave analytical mistake to presume that the Pakistani military offensive will provoke no one but only a few misguided militants in the North.

It is not yet too late for Pakistan to return from the precipice of national suicide. Pakistan must take a U-turn and preempt the civil war. Pakistan must say an emphatic no to President Obama who must also carefully weigh the stakes of expanding the WSD to Pakistan. If the NATO forces cannot subdue the militancy in Afghanistan, adding one more military into the battlefield will not solve the problem of occupation and resistance. Furthermore, an internally torn Pakistan does not weaken but empowers militants. Obama advisers must ponder over one thing more: The people of Pakistan, like the people of Iran under the Shah, might rise to oppose the US hegemony over their internal affairs.

-- Ali Khan is professor of law at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.

-- Middle East Online


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2009, 06:43:49 am »
Obama is Only Making It Worse

Farce in Kabul, Tragedy in Pakistan

by Tariq Ali

October 20, 2009

A few weeks ago the UN headman in Kabul, a woodenheaded Norwegian, decided that the recent Presidential elections were fine and Karzai was a legitimate ruler. His deputy, Peter Galbraith, the unofficial representative of the State Department, was enraged (since the US are unhappy with Karzai who is their own creature) and went public. He was fired.

But stories involving US reps and the UN never end like this. Yesterday the UN-supported electoral watchdog ruled that the elections had been fraudulent and ordered a new round. The Hindu Kush mountains must have resounded to the sound of Pashtun laughter.

Nobody in Afghanistan takes elections too seriously and especially not when the country is occupied by the US and its NATO acolytes. In the old days Karzai would have been got rid of like South Vietnamese dictators who made too big a mess.

Karzai has been a total disaster but so has the occupation that implanted him in Kabul. Now with a war going badly wrong and the insurgents controlling large swathes of territory, Karzai is being scape-goated for sins for which he is not exclusively responsible.

One solution being considered is the appointment of a US/UN-appointed Chief Executive Officer and here Peter Galbraith would be the obvious choice. This would be far more straightforward and the CEO could appoint a cabinet in which every rogue could share the spoils of the opium trade and a cut in the money being expended in the country, thus breaking the financial monopoly of the Karzai family.

The only reason for the public humiliation of a loyal puppet is his refusal to share power and money with other collaborators. If he is allowed to stay in power, I predict that he will be a more willing sharer. Not that this will solve any problems in the absence of a NATO exit strategy from the region.

While the farce plays out in Kabul, in neighbouring Pakistan the situation has become more deadly. The Zardari government (effectively run by the US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson) has ordered the Pakistan Army to wipe out the Taliban in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.

This, too, will fail. More innocents will die, more refugees will be created adding to the two million 'internally displaced persons’ already living in camps. The result will be a bitter legacy, fuelling hatred and revenge attacks in the region and, ominously, creating further tensions inside the Pakistan Army.

Incapable of understanding that it is the Afghan war’s spill-over into Pakistan that has exacerbated the crisis in Pakistan, the Obama administration’s directives can only make it worse.

Tariq Ali's latest book, The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other Essays,  has just been published by Verso.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2009, 07:11:54 am »
Is Adulation of the Military Really Patriotic?

Posted By Ivan Eland On October 20, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

A recent article in the New York Times reported that the military has become frustrated with President Barack Obama because he hasn’t quickly decided to risk more of their lives in an Afghan war that is likely to be unwinnable. In a post-World War II world that has featured a non-traditional militarized foreign policy of profligate interventions into the affairs of other nations, the U.S. military and its opinion have acquired great prestige and are accorded hushed reverence in American society. The military and flag are worshiped as never before. But is this really patriotism?

The nation’s founders would roll over in their graves at what patriotism has become. After their bad experience with British colonial military abuses and seeing European citizens paying with blood and treasure for the frequent wars of their monarchs, the founders feared standing armies for undermining liberty. The U.S. Constitution rejected European militarism in favor of tight congressional controls over the employment, organization, and funding of the U.S. armed forces. Since World War II, those controls – such as congressional declarations of war – have been severely eroded.

And the American public, still feeling guilty over the admittedly terrible treatment of returning draftees from the Vietnam War, has retained its awe of the now voluntary military as an institution, even as it has soured on the Iraq and Afghan Wars. Even while fighting two unpopular wars, the public has supported huge defense budgets all out of proportion to what is needed to defend the country. Is this healthy for a republic?

The politically incorrect answer to this question is a resounding "no!" Being genuinely patriotic means supporting the country’s society and culture. Excessive reverence for the U.S. government, military, and flag is merely nationalism and is similar to episodes in Russia, Germany, and Japan in the last century. And slathering the military with too many resources tempts politicos, such as George W. Bush and Madeleine Albright, to dream up unneeded military adventures overseas, which many times end in disaster.

True American patriotism, following in the tradition of the founding, rejects militarism without rejecting an appropriate role for the military. According to the Constitution, the active military should "provide for the common defense" and nothing more. This limited role should rule out the military being used to invade other nations for ostensibly lofty purposes.

To be even more politically incorrect, on 9/11, the U.S. military failed in this primary mission. No one was fired over this tragic fiasco. Since then, the military has been used to make things worse and actually undermine U.S. security. Armchair quasi-patriots – unfortunately, most of the country – don’t like to acknowledge what triggers al-Qaeda’s heinous attacks in the first place: U.S. interventions in Islamic countries. In both the counterproductive Afghan and Iraq invasions and occupations, the military made huge mistakes before having to relearn counterinsurgency warfare tactics purposefully forgotten in the wake of its debacle in Vietnam. Does repeated incompetence deserve veneration?

One might then say so much for the military organization and its leaders, but shouldn’t we still have reverence for the frontline soldier who risks his or her life for our freedom? Unfortunately, military personnel – like the general public from which they come – are under the same aforementioned delusion about what "patriotism" should be. One could argue that war is sometimes necessary for defense – although the current U.S. offensive-defensive strategy is unneeded, unconstitutional, and counterproductive – but war rarely leads to increased freedom, as the founders knew. The civil liberties erosion under the "war on terror" is illustrative. Also, military personnel should know, or take the time to learn if they don’t, that the U.S. has been the most aggressive country on the planet during the Cold War and since in terms of the number of foreign military interventions.

Therefore, a new patriotism is needed. As a start, let’s stop worshiping the military and flag and bring back the founders’ old-fashioned respect for liberty and the Constitution.

Read more by Ivan Eland
Five Facts About Afghanistan – October 13th, 2009
Fire McChrystal and Get Out of Afghanistan – October 6th, 2009
Empathy for ‘Adversaries’ – September 29th, 2009
Obama Needs to Expand on His Good Instincts in Foreign Policy – September 22nd, 2009
Mourning the Passing of an Unsung Giant in Human History – September 15th, 2009


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Offline Harconen

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2009, 03:01:32 pm »
Pakistan braces for attacks as UNMIS deputy commander is assassinated

Suspected Taliban militants shot and killed a Pakistani army brigadier and his driver in the capital on Thursday as the military continued a major offensive against the insurgents in their strongholds near the Afghan border.

Exposing the country's frayed nerves, the stock market dipped nearly three percent on false reports that a bomb had been found and shots fired at a courthouse in the capital, Islamabad.

The false alarm came as the country remained on high alert for possible retaliatory strikes by Taliban militants while the army attacks their strongholds in South Waziristan.

The offensive is a test of the government's determination to tackle Islamic fundamentalists, and the campaign is being closely followed by the U.S. and other powers embroiled in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, suspected militants shot and killed Brigadier Moin-ud-din Ahmed, deputy force commander of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), who was on vacation in Islamabad.

"Everyone in the mission is very shocked," Kouider Zerrouk, UNMIS spokesman told Reuters.

UNMIS, one of the world's largest U.N. peacekeeping missions with around 11,000 personnel, was set up to monitor and support the 2005 peace deal than ended the two-decade civil war between Sudan's north and south.

Ahmed, whose rank is equivalent to a U.S. brigadier-general, one step below a full one-star general, is the second senior officer to be killed in less than two weeks following a commando-style raid on army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

A shopkeeper, Naveed Haider, said he saw a man running, his face covered with a yellow cloth, before he heard gunshots.

"A man with a motorbike was waiting for him on the street. He sat on it and they fled," the witness said before taken away by police for questioning. Police said Brig. Haider's driver was also killed and a bodyguard wounded.

Pakistani forces launched an offensive on Saturday to take control of lawless South Waziristan after militants rocked the country with a string of bomb and suicide attacks, killing more than 150 people.

Analysts have warned of the possibility of more urban attacks as the militants are squeezed out of their strongholds, with the Taliban hoping bloodshed and disruption will cause the government and ordinary people to lose their appetite for the offensive.

On Tuesday, two suicide bombers attacked an Islamic university in Islamabad, killing at least four people, and the next day authorities ordered schools and colleges to close across the country.

The KSE-index fell three percent on Thursday's false rumours of an incident at a courthouse, but recovered to close down 1.01 percent at 9,154.00 after falling 3.36 percent on Wednesday.

"Investors are very jittery at this point due to the law and order situation," said Sajid Bhanji, a dealer at brokers' Arif Habib.

Remote and rugged South Waziristan, with its rocky mountains and patchy forests cut through by dry creeks and ravines, is a global hub for militants.

About 28,000 soldiers are battling an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taliban, including about 1,000 tough Uzbek fighters and some Arab al Qaeda members.

The army said 24 militants and two soldiers were killed in the fighting on Thursday.

Foreign reporters are not allowed anywhere near the battle zone and it is dangerous even for Pakistani reporters to visit. Independent confirmation of casualty figures has not been possible.

More than 100,000 civilians have fled the area, with about 32,000 of them leaving since October 13, the United Nations said.

The army has launched brief offensives in South Waziristan before, the first in 2004 when it suffered heavy casualties before striking a peace pact.
Resist. Rebel. Cry out to all peoples and nations from the sky as the lightening flashes from the east to the west and judge the living and the dead.Or choose submission and slavery.

The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  (John 1:5)

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2009, 08:55:11 am »
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: An Emotional Response

by Chris Floyd

October 26, 2009

Recently, I wrote of "the 'counterinsurgency doctrine' so beloved by the Pentagon and eagerly embraced by Barack Obama." A reader took me to task for this inflammatory remark, saying:

That 'eagerly embraced' statement is certainly hard to square with the Pentagon's annoyance and Cheney's charge of dithering.  Its inaccuracy suggests either deliberate inaccuracy or judgment clouded by emotion, but either way it isn't good.

To which, this brief reply:

I realize that historical memory has always been a rare commodity in the United States, but one shudders to see that the onset of this chronic amnesia is now down to the merest months. Was it not just six months ago, in May 2009, that Obama made a great show of firing the commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, and replacing him with a much-lauded "expert" in counterinsurgency, Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- a close associate of the much-lauded "architect" of counterinsurgency in Iraq, General David Petraeus -- the Bush-appointed officer whom Obama has retained as the top dog in the central fronts of the Terror War? Was not McChrystal championed by Robert Gates -- the Bush-appointed factotum whom Obama has retained as the top dog in the Pentagon war machine?

The fact that Obama has not yet signed off on McChrystal's latest plan does not mean that he is not now, before our very eyes, promulgating the Pentagon's time-honored bleed-build-rinse-repeat philosophy of occupation warfare. He has already launched one major Petraeus-style "surge" in Afghanistan this year; the current controversy about the McChrystal plan is confined to how many more troops to send, and how far the vastly stupid and dangerous American war in Pakistan should be escalated. Obama has already explicitly ruled out withdrawing from Afghanistan; that's "not an option," as his mouthpiece put it  just a few weeks ago. So what's left? Only some form of continued "counterinsurgency."

And so what if the Pentagon is "annoyed" with Obama, or if Dick Cheney is critical of the faction that ousted his faction from power? Do you think that factions in regimes of every stripe don't have very fierce and nasty internal battles, even when they embrace the same general philosophy? Ever read any history of the inner workings of Nazi regime, or the Bolsheviks, or the Roman Empire -- or Lincoln's cabinet?

Of course, one can always base one's conclusions on headlines in the NY Times: "Pentagon Annoyed at Not Immediately Getting Its Own Way!" or  even -- gasp! -- "Cheney Slams Obama!" If these "Dog Bites Man, Sun Rises in the East" kind of stories inform your worldview, then more power to you. Personally, I don't get much out of them. [For a brilliant dissection of the kind of threadbare vacuity that lies behind most "expert" analyses in the Times, see Arthur Silber's latest: The Empty Establishment: No One's Home in an Intellectual Wasteland.]

As for the particular criticisms on offer, I have to say that sniffy insinuations of "deliberate inaccuracy" are very far off the mark. Not that I've never been inaccurate, of course, if led astray by some erroneous source material, or by my own lack of insight or understanding in considering a particular situation. But I have never knowingly distorted or falsified a fact in order to support an argument or assertion. And in any case, as noted above, it is no way inaccurate to say that Barack Obama has eagerly embraced the "COIN" doctrine of Petraeus, which has been so blindly feted by the bipartisan elite of our political and media establishments – even though it is merely a regurgitation of similarly debased, and unsuccessful, COIN operations in times past.

And as for judgments "clouded with emotion," let me say, in all candor, that I honestly don't give one good goddamn whether someone thinks my writing on this issue is "clouded by emotion" or not. I mean, Jesus Herbert Walker Christ, we are talking about arms and legs and heads being ripped from the bodies of women and children -- actual human beings, being slaughtered in our names, day after day. And for what purpose? Every ill and evil that the war purports to address is actually made worse by our violent occupation. Eight years down, and the Taliban is stronger, Pakistan is far more unstable, thousands more civilians have been killed, religious extremism in the region is stronger than ever, the opium trade is more virulent and more devastating, brutal warlords rule with impunity … the list goes on and on. And all we are being offered by our new "progressive" administration is more of the same.

So yes, when I write about this atrocious and obscene situation, there is a bit of "emotion" in it.  And I guess you're right: such a thing "isn't good" -- if what you want is to be taken "seriously" by the oh-so-serious, in that world where portentous headlines form the thrice-chewed cud of "conventional wisdom," But I don't give a damn about that, not in the slightest. I write about these things for one reason only: to bear witness, to put down for the record that I saw the evil being committed in my name, and that I spoke out against it, as fully and honestly as I knew how.  That's it. That's all I want to do. For whatever reason, I feel compelled to give this testimony -- and it really doesn't matter to me what anyone else makes of it. If they find it useful in some way, I'm very glad; if they don't, so what? 

I'm not saying there aren't many other worthy and effective approaches to confronting the horrific reality of our day -- including, yes, writing dispassionate analyses, or striving to couch your dissent in a form that might get a hearing amongst the cud-chewers who control our national discourse. I've done both in my day. I may do so again. But that's not what I'm doing here.

In any  event, to believe that emotion does not infuse, direct and shape all of our judgments is, I think, deeply ignorant – historically, philosophically and biochemically. We know that consciousness arises from the unimaginably vast, unimaginably intricate interactions of physical and mental states. There is no airless, emotionless compartment somewhere inside your mind where you can go to hammer out pure, Platonic, disembodied essences of thought. 

The most important question in this regard is not whether or not something is written with emotion, because this is unavoidable. The real question is whether or not that emotion is an informed one – if it is backed by facts, if it has been subjected to a self-aware analysis, and is not simply a regurgitation of conventional wisdom, shaped by emotions and motives which have been left to lie unconscious and unexplored.

I hope to God that I never write about atrocity, murder, corruption and brutality without a judgment deep-dyed with emotion for the vast suffering they cause. I hope my soul never becomes deadened to these horrors.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2009, 07:55:37 am »
Depraved Indifference: Drone Wars, Whack Jobs and Imperial Terror

by Chris Floyd


October 27, 2009

 I have often admired Jane Mayer's reportage. She has helped expose several elements of "the dark side" of America's worldwide Terror War. Her latest article in the New Yorker outlines the CIA's use of "Predator" drones to kill people by remote control in Pakistan. As the magazine notes, the Obama Administration is relying on these covert drone killers more and more, as it escalates America's military attacks in Pakistan -- ostensibly a sovereign nation allied to the United States.

Mayer's article relates a chilling story of suburban killers -- many of them stateside, firing their missiles from comfortable cubicles before heading home for dinner with the family -- operating in a secret program outside all traditional lines of legality and accountability. (Even the extremely low levels of legality and accountability that weakly adhere to the business of wholesale slaughter and destruction known as war.) For example, part of the program has been "outsourced" to private companies, who are killing people -- including hundreds of innocent civilians -- for profit, with American tax money.

The New Yorker's website has now published an interview with Mayer expanding on the original story. It too is chilling -- but not only for the further details of this state murder program. What is equally disturbing is the bloodless consideration of this bloody enterprise, based on the assumption that there is nothing essentially wrong with such an assassination program (with its inevitable "collateral damage"), as long it is more transparent, with the "legal, ethical and political boundaries" of the death squads clearly drawn.

The very first question gives us a glimpse into the bizarre, depraved moral universe of the American establishment:

How has the use of Predator drones by the United States changed the situation in Pakistan?

Well, there’s good news and bad news. According to the C.I.A., they’ve killed more than half of the twenty most wanted Al Qaeda terrorist suspects. The bad news is that they’ve inflamed anti-American sentiment, because they’ve also killed hundreds of civilians.

What is astonishing about this is that the interview doesn't end there, in a roar of outrage from Mayer and her interviewer: "They've killed hundreds of civilians!" Hundreds of Pakistani civilians, men, women and children with no involvement whatsoever in war or terrorism; just ordinary people living their lives as best they can -- just like your neighbor, just like your mother, just like you...or just like the people killed on September 11, whose deaths are used as an eternal justification for war and bloodshed on a global scale by the American state.

But these drone-murdered Pakistanis -- these human beings, these fathers and mothers, these grandparents, these toddlers, these brothers and sisters -- their lives are just statistics to be coldly weighed in the calibrations of imperial policy. The "bad news" about their deaths is not that they were murdered, not that these utterly defenseless men, women and children were blown to shreds without warning, without the slightest chance of escape, by flying robots controlled by unseen hands a world away; no, the "bad news" is that these that these killing might possibly hamper America's "counterinsurgency program":

How does the continued collateral damage from Predator drones square with General Stanley McChrystal’s order to the military to lay off the air strikes in Afghanistan and avoid civilian deaths?

Well, you could argue it either way. There is less collateral damage from a drone strike than there is from an F-16. According to intelligence officials, drones are more surgical in the way they kill—they usually use Hellfire missiles and do less damage than a fighter jet might.

At the same time, the fact that they kill civilians at all raises the same problem that McChrystal is trying to combat, which is that they incite people on the ground against the United States. When you’re trying to win a battle of hearts and minds, trying to win over civilian populations against terrorists, it can be counterproductive.

It can be counterproductive. When you kill hundreds of innocent people, it can be counterproductive. "Say, boys, how's my campaign shaping up these days?" "Well, Mr. Mayor, we're getting some negative feedback in the polls about your habit of machine-gunning people to death on the street every week. We've talked to some of our top PR people, and they say this kind of thing can be counterproductive."

And of course, this little passage also highlights the absurd hero-worship of our major "liberal" media toward the military chieftains who are increasingly dominating American policy, with increasing openness. Once again, as with the simpering hagiography offered up by the New York Times recently, we see the saintly image of noble Stanley McChrystal trying his darndest to avoid civilian casualties -- as he calls for 40,000 more troops (or "warfighters" as the Pentagon likes to call soldiers these days) to pour into the occupied land, spreading through the countryside and cities with bristling ordnance, backed always with close air support to provide "force protection."

This is the same General McChrystal who ran death squads and torture chambers in Iraq. As Fred Kaplan noted in Slate earlier this year:

McChrystal's command also provided the personnel for Task Force 6-26, an elite unit of 1,000 special-ops forces that engaged in harsh interrogation of detainees in Camp Nama as far back as 2003. The interrogations were so harsh that five Army officers were convicted on charges of abuse. (McChrystal himself was not implicated in the excesses, but the unit's slogan, which set the tone for its practices, was "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it.")

McChrystal was not "implicated" in the "excesses" because in the American system, power and authority entail no responsibility; the buck always stops lower down the line, with a few "bad apples" or designated fall guys. The obscene spectacles of the Bush torture regimen -- and Barack Obama's frenzied efforts to shield the torture architects (and practitioners) from the slightest accountability -- give ample proof of this essential element of the system.

And yet here too, Mayer expresses the staggering blindness that afflicts the establishment media. Here she is explaining one of the problems of the CIA drone program: its lack of transparency, which she contrasts with the Pentagon system:

Well, the problem with this program is that it’s invisible; I would guess there must be all kinds of legal safeguards, and lawyers at the C.I.A. are discussing who we can kill and who we can’t, but none of that is available to the American people. It’s quite a contrast with the armed forces, because the use of lethal force in the military is a transparent process. There are after-action reports, and there’s a very obvious chain of command. We know where the responsibility runs, straight on up to the top of the government. This system keeps checks on abuses of power. There is no such transparency at the C.I.A.

One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at this. When is the last time that responsibility for military depredations -- such as the systematic abuses in the American Terror War Gulag (with Abu Ghraib as just one small example) -- has run "straight on up to the top of the government"?  The schizophrenia that afflicts our great and good and bestest and brightest is painfully evident here: Mayer herself, in her reports on the Gulag abuse, has shown, in great detail, that they were not aberrations by "bad apples" but were imposed from the very top of the chain of command.

Yet here she is blatantly contradicting her own reportage, the indisputable facts that she herself has uncovered. But such are the inevitable, wrenching cognitive dissonances that arise when you accept the basic assumptions of the militarist system -- which you must do, to some extent, to get a seat at the "serious" table in America's media-political establishment. She is probably not even aware that she is doing it; she is simply following the standard template for "process stories," which require stark contrasts between the protagonists, who are usually cast in good guy-bad guy mold. In this case, the protagonists are the two state apparatuses -- the Pentagon and the CIA -- who wield the power of faceless, remote-control death over innocent, undefended human beings. In this "process," it is the unregulated CIA killers who are the bad guys, and so the Pentagon must be recast as a stickler for accountability all the way up the line, despite the mountain of evidence against this ludicrous interpretation -- evidence which, we must emphasize again, Mayer herself has been instrumental in compiling.

"Process stories" -- reports on the inner workings of the power structure, almost always told from the point of view of interested insiders pushing factional agendas -- have become one of the chief staples of mainstream journalism in recent years. While they occasionally yield nuggets of useful information, they are, in essence, little more than scraps of court gossip, mixed with the poisonous whispers of conniving courtiers and scheming ministers and generals -- "packs and sects of great ones, that ebb and flow by the moon." It is surely no coincidence that these stories have come to dominate our journalism more and more as the imperial nature of the Permanent War State becomes more open and entrenched.

This blindness, this "institutional capture" of a journalist who comes to identify completely with the aims and ethos of her imperial sources, is perhaps best illustrated in this exchange:

Are people in Pakistan scared to move around because of the drones?

According to some recent studies, terrorists are scampering around only at night and accusing each other of being spies and informing on one another. So it’s had the desired effect in unraveling terror cells.

Note that the interviewer asked about the effect these terror strikes from the sky are having on the people in Pakistan. Have their daily lives been maimed and constricted by the American terror? A reasonable question, you would think, and an issue that should certainly be a factor in any "serious" examination of American policy in the region.

But Mayer answers in the language of the state terrorists themselves. Ignoring the plight of ordinary civilians in the ever-expanding number of areas in Pakistan now under the dread edict of American drones, Mayers reiterates the triumphalist propaganda of her sources, talking only of the drones' effects on the accused terrorists that have been targeted. The ordinary, innocent human beings being killed, hounded and terrorized by these imperial operations are, as always, invisible.

(Yet even a cursory glance at the headlines in the past week gives the bitter lie to this propaganda; reading the daily reports of deadly bombings at the very heart of Pakistan's security apparatus, we can see just how effective the drone attacks have been at "unraveling terror cells" in that country. What the American attacks in Pakistan have actually done, of course, is the opposite: they have expanded, embittered and emboldened opposition to an Islamabad government allied with foreign forces that rain death on innocent people out of the clear blue sky.)

But we should not leave the impression that the interview evinces no human compassion at all. Toward the end, the interviewer and Mayer focus on one set of victims who are genuinely suffering from the drone program: the brave suburban warriors sitting on their well-wadded behinds in cozy offices and well-appointed command centers as they push a button and blow up a house, a street, a village:

You mention in your piece that drone pilots, who work from an office, suffer from combat stress.

Someone sitting at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Virginia, can view and home in on a target on the other side of the world with tremendous precision, even at night, and destroy it. Peter Singer, who wrote a book on robotic warfare, said that cubicle warriors experience the same stress as regular warriors in a real war. Detached killing still takes a tremendous emotional toll inside our borders.

Oh yes, may the Lord protect and preserve all of our detached killers from the tremendous emotional toll inflicted upon them by their noble work!

Again, the point here is that a truly serious and sophisticated analysis of the situation would have stopped at the very beginning: "We are killing hundreds of innocent civilians, with robots, in a country we're not at war with -- one of our allies, in fact. What in the name of all that's holy – and all that's human – is driving our nation to commit these monstrous crimes, and how can we stop it?" That would be the issue under discussion. A truly serious and sophisticated analysis would not accept the hideous assertions and assumptions of state terrorists at face value, would not concern itself with the "process" by which imperial factions fight it out for the honor of perpetrating these atrocities – and would certainly not offer as its conclusion the earnest hope that the authors of these war crimes will find some way of doing them better:

What would the outlines of a more transparent drone program look like?

Michael Walzer, the political philosopher, has noted that when the United States goes about killing people, we usually know who they can kill and where the battlefield is. International lawyers are calling for a public revelation of who is on this list, where can we go after them, and how many people can we take out with them. They want to know the legal, ethical, and political boundaries of the program.

International lawyers want to know just how many people we can "take out" when we launch missile attacks in civilian areas. Our political philosophers want to know the ethical boundaries of assassinating someone who is suspected of being part of a group that our government currently does not like or find useful for its purposes. This program of systematic extrajudicial murder and mass slaughter of innocent civilians – often by private contractors whose profits depend on war and death –"raises interesting legal questions," Mayer says.

Such are the depraved parameters within which our most "serious" and "sophisticated" – indeed, our most "liberal" and "progressive" -- political analysis now takes place.

Just as I was finishing this piece, I ran across Arthur Silber's latest essay, which explicates the implications of these depraved parameters far more thoroughly than I have done. You should read his entire post – and the links – but I think a few extended excerpts here will help will underscore some of the points I was trying to make.

Silber's piece was sparked by the resignation of Matthew Hoh, a former combat officer in Iraq who had become of the top U.S. civilian officials in Afghanistan. Hoh resigned his post as a matter of principle, he said, because he could no longer see any good purpose in America's military involvement in what is "essentially a far-off civil war," as the Washington Post puts it.

Hoh's "principled" action has won widespread acclaim among critics of the Afghan adventure. But as Silber notes, the "principles" behind Hoh's actions include a whole-hearted approval of – and keen participation in – the very policies of imperialism and war crime that have led to the murderous war in Afghanistan, and are certain to spawn other such depredations:

And [the issue of] Iraq returns us to Matthew Hoh, and why his resignation is ultimately meaningless. In fact, it is much worse than that. To underscore the very limited nature of Hoh's protest, consider the conclusion of the Washington Post story:

If the United States is to remain in Afghanistan, Hoh said, he would advise a reduction in combat forces.

He also would suggest providing more support for Pakistan, better U.S. communication and propaganda skills to match those of al-Qaeda, and more pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to clean up government corruption -- all options being discussed in White House deliberations.

"We want to have some kind of governance there, and we have some obligation for it not to be a bloodbath," Hoh said. "But you have to draw the line somewhere, and say this is their problem to solve."

In this passage, you see how even Hoh supports the overall purposes of U.S. foreign policy. He refers to "combat forces," but this is deceptive terminology, which I analyzed in detail when the same device was used in connection with Iraq. And Hoh urges "more support for Pakistan," and "more pressure" on Karzai -- that is, he recommends continued and even greater involvement in countries that should not concern us because they do not threaten us, but he suggests we alter the emphasis and particular form of our involvement. This is tinkering around the edges, and it does nothing to address the actual problem.

But the worst is this passage earlier in the story:

"I'm not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love," Hoh said. Although he said his time in Zabul was the "second-best job I've ever had," his dominant experience is from the Marines, where many of his closest friends still serve.

"There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed," he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. "I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys."

The critical facts are few in number, and remarkably easy to understand: Iraq never threatened the U.S. in any serious manner. Our leaders knew Iraq did not threaten us. Despite what should have been the only fact that mattered, the U.S. invaded and occupied, and still occupies, a nation that never threatened us and had never attacked us. Under the applicable principles of international law and the Nuremberg Principles, the U.S. thus committed a monstrous, unforgivable series of war crimes. Those who support and continue the occupation of Iraq are war criminals -- not because I say so, but because the same principles that the U.S. applies to every other nation, but never to the U.S. itself, necessitate that judgment and no other.

While it may be true that some "dudes" threatened Hoh's life and the lives of those with whom he served, Hoh could never have been threatened in that manner but for the fact that he was in Iraq as part of a criminal war of aggression. In other words, he had no right to be in Iraq in the first place. And if he had not been, he would never have been in a position to "whack[] a bunch of guys."

Here Silber cuts to the absolute crux of the matter – in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in those Langley offices where "cubicle warriors" are suffering so much emotional turmoil from their "whack jobs" on hundreds of innocent civilians: We have no right to be doing these things in the first place.

And someone who stands foursquare behind an abominable war crime like the invasion of Iraq has no "principles," as this term is commonly understood. As Silber puts it:

The significance of Hoh's own judgment of his actions in Iraq, and his own failure to acknowledge the true nature of the U.S. presence there, lies in the fact that it undercuts his protest about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan on the most fundamental level. Hoh offers no principled opposition to wars of aggression: he approves of a criminal war in Iraq, but opposes it in Afghanistan. And he opposes it in Afghanistan not because it's a crime and morally abhorrent -- which it is -- but because it's not "working." It's "ineffective." This perfectly mirrors the typical liberal criticism of the Iraq crime: that it was executed "incompetently." Opposition of this kind finally reduces to no opposition at all, except on specifics. Such opposition is futile, inconsistent and contradictory, and ultimately worthless. It fails to challenge U.S. policy on the critical, more fundamental level -- and it invites a future catastrophe on an equal or, which is horrifying to contemplate, an even greater scale. Hoh doesn't like the war crime in Afghanistan because it doesn't seem to be working out too well – not because it's wrong. Mayer doesn't like the CIA Predator program of targeted assassination and massive "collateral damage" because it's too unregulated, too opaque, and we need to find ways to make it work better – more like the Pentagon program of targeted assassination and massive "collateral damage."

But isn't it good that a high American official has refused to take further part in the Af-Pak Terror War? Of course it is – relatively speaking. As Silber notes:

I view Hoh's resignation as a positive development in only one very limited sense. If a sufficient number of U.S. personnel resigned, for reasons similar to Hoh's or even for no reason at all, if they simply resigned, the U.S. would be unable to continue its current policy. But that will not happen, not in the numbers required.

Silber then notes that war critics who applaud Hoh's action have missed a critical point that makes hollow any claim of deeply held principle behind his resignation: his enthusiasm for "whacking" people in a country that American forces invaded in a savage and lawless act of aggression:

For me, the worst omission on [Glenn] Greenwald's part is his failure to comment on this statement from Hoh: "I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys." I urge you to consider again the arguments as to why the U.S. invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq constitute an ongoing series of monstrous war crimes, and how Hoh's actions are only one part of an incomprehensibly awful larger criminal project. But Hoh "was never more happy" than when he "whacked a bunch of guys" -- "guys" that neither Hoh nor any other U.S. soldier should ever have been in a position to kill. And Greenwald finds none of this worthy of even momentary interest.

Yet in that single statement of Hoh's, and in all the assumptions that underlie it and all the policies to which it necessarily leads and to which it will lead again as long as those policies remain unaltered, lies a world of endless horror -- a world of agony, dismemberment, maiming, torture, of countless personal tragedies and lives forever changed and ended, and of growing instability and threats that are increased by U.S. actions. As long as the forces that drive U.S. policy are ignored or denied, as long as we do not engage this argument on those terms that are most crucial -- and as long as we will not identify the nature of U.S. actions for what they are, and in these instances, they are war crimes -- these horrors will continue without end.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2009, 11:30:59 am »
Peshawar Doomsday

By Aamir Latif


A man is seen at the spot of an explosion in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday Oct. 28, 2009.

IOL, October 28, 2009

PESHAWAR – A massive bomb blast rocked a market place in Peshawar, the capital of the Northwestern Frontier Province (NWFP), on Wednesday, October 28, killing nearly 100 people, mostly women and children, in the fifth attack in two weeks.

"It seemed like it was doomsday," Rafiq Ahmed, who sells rice on a shop in downtown Peshawar, told, lying on a stature at bed-starved Lady Redding hospital.

"I felt that the sun rose in the dark."

A car bomb tore through a packed market, killing nearly people, mostly women and children, in one of Pakistan's deadliest attacks.

The blast targeted a crowded street in the Meena Bazaar of Peshawar, one of the most congested parts of the city and full of women's clothing shops and general market stalls popular in the city of 2.5 million.

Rescue workers were digging out the bodies and injured under the debris of collapsed shops amid fears many are still trapped.

"The massive blast made me deaf," said Ahmed, who lost his left leg and suffers serious injuries on different parts of his body.

"The last thing I remember was myself and the customer hanging in the air as we both were tossed by the huge blast," he recalled.

"I don’t remember what happened after that. My relatives have told me that I was put in an ambulance by the rescue workers, and brought here."

The volatile northwest city, home to 2.5 million, has been the epicenter of attacks since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Over 1500 people have so been killed in several bomb blasts and suicide attacks during last 8 years in the city, which borders war-hacked Afghanistan.


Shafiq Hussein, another injured vendor, lost his brother to the deadly attack.

"There were inferno-like scenes everywhere," Hussein, whose relatives were trying to solace him in the jam-packed emergency room of the hospital, told IOL.

"The blast was as huge as it reduced many buildings and shops to rubble within a few minutes," he recalled, fighting back his tears.

"I think it was a reminder of the day of judgment. Everyone was screaming and crying. I wanted to run, but could not as my body refused to move."

Hussein, sporting a long black beard, received injuries in his back, arms and thighs as the intensity of the blast slammed him into the wall of a shop.

Taliban has denied any responsibility for the deadly attack and analysts appear to be doubtful about its involvement.

"The situation is very murky," Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based security expert, told IOL.

"It is hard to say with full conviction that Taliban are involved in this terrorist attack."

Yusufzai says the modus operandi adopted by the attackers does not match traditional Taliban tactics.

"They (Taliban) usually use suicide bombings or hostage-style tactics to rock the government. They never claim the responsibility for attacks in which civilians are killed."

He cited recent attacks in Peshawar and at the International Islamic University Islamabad, whereby Taliban denied any involvement.

Peshawar is a gateway to Pakistan's northwest tribal belt, where the military is pursuing a massive military offensive against local Taliban militants.


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2009, 06:15:02 am »
Published on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 by Agence France-Presse

US Drone Strikes May Break International Law: UN

by Agence France-Presse

UNITED NATIONS - US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN's top investigator of such crimes said.

According to independent reports, only 10 out of the 70 cross-border strikes in Pakistan were able to hit their actual targets.

"The problem with the United States is that it is making an increased use of drones/Predators (which are) particularly prominently used now in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan," UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston told a press conference.

"My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law," he said.

US strikes with remote-controlled aircraft against Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan have often resulted in civilian deaths and drawn bitter criticism from local populations.

"The onus is really on the United States government to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary extrajudicial executions aren't in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons," he added.

Alston said he presented a report on the matter to the UN General Assembly.

He urged the United States to be more forthright about how and when it uses drone aircraft, something about which the US Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) usually keep silent.

"We need the United States to be more up front and say, 'OK, we're willing to discuss some aspects of this program,' otherwise you have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws," Alston said.

Since August 2008, around 70 strikes by unmanned aircraft have killed close to 600 people in northwestern Pakistan.

"I would like to know the legal basis upon which the United States is operating, in other words... who is running the program, what accountability mechanisms are in place in relation to that," Alston said.

"Secondly, what precautions the United States is taking to ensure that these weapons are used strictly for purposes consistent with international humanitarian law.

"Third, what sort of review mechanism is there to evaluate when these weapons have been used? Those are the issues I'd like to see addressed," the UN official said.

© 2009 Agence France-Press


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2009, 06:23:13 am »
Divide and Rule: The Key Strategy of the US and Its Western Allies

By S. Hewage

October 28, 2009

The latest attacks on Indian embassy in Afghanistan and the Pakistan’s military headquarters would trigger a new wave of accusations and counteraccusations by India and Pakistan. It seems that the United States is achieving its military strategy to keep regional conflicts going, so that the United States is not only secure, but also economically strong. Unfortunately, both India and Pakistan have so far failed to realize this, to work out a solution to their internal problems and to keep the hegemonic forces out of their region. The situation in Pakistan will soon be like that of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the West will continue to fuel Islamic and other ethno-religious insurgencies in that region.

It is a well-known fact among international security experts that one of the longstanding foreign policy doctrines of the United States is to destabilize countries and regions that are considered hostile to US economic and strategic interests. This policy has been the bedrock of American military and covert operations across the globe throughout the cold war period. When the US fails to win support from countries for its self-interested economic and defense policies, the US undertakes covert operations to overthrow democratically elected leaders in those countries by supporting military juntas and insurgent movements, cut off economic aid, and isolate them internationally until they give in to US pressure.

Since the end of the cold war, the US has inducted a new weapon to its arsenals of destabilization: This new weapon is the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the West. Independent scholars believe that many of these NGOs are in fact covertly backing various nefarious elements hell-bent on creating political violence, rather than helping to solve problems. Numerous citizens of Western countries associated with the United Nations Organizations and Human Rights Organizations are operating as the long arm of the Western governments in "regime change campaigns" in countries that are openly hostile to US foreign policies and hegemonic designs. Many of these individuals have local agents, who are openly campaigning for greater cooperation with the West. The US has been openly supporting various nongovernmental organizations to marshal mass support against elected governments that refuse to kowtow the US on the pretext of campaigning to protect human rights, media freedom, and democracy. The US funded international nongovernmental organizations and their local counterparts have been operating as the proxy of the US government across Latin America, the Middle East, and South, and South East Asia. The underline objective of all these covert operations is to cause political upheavals in specific countries, or regions with a long-term global strategy.

Once a nation becomes embroiled in fighting internal rebellions, whether they are ethnic or religiously motivated groups, or involved in cross-border conflicts, that nation soon becomes overwhelmed by the concerns of its survival. This would eventually force the leadership of that country to capitulate to the American strategic and economic interests in that country, and the region. This, in turn, would ensure US economic and political hegemony in the long- run, especially in nonwestern countries. For example, when Saddam Hussein refused to bow down to US pressure they invaded his country and violated all international conventions, rules and norms at will, and killed more than half a million civilians.

In 1998, a UN survey revealed that the mortality rates among children below five years of age in southern Iraq had more than doubled compared to the previous decade, meaning 500,000 excess deaths of children had occurred by that year due to diarrhea and acute respiratory infections because of sanctions imposed by the US and it allies. UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq (1997-98) Denis Halliday called sanctions 'genocide’ and resigned in protest. His successor Hans von Sponeck followed suit in 2002 citing the same reasons. The UN World Food Program Director in Iraq Jutta Burghardt also registered his protest by fully subscribing to Sponeck’s position and tendering his resignation. That was before the US lead invasion of Iraq in 2003. Following the invasion, at the end of 2006, more than 600,000 civilians had been killed. The high-ranking retired US government official argued that the "price was worth" considering the importance of US strategic and economic interests in that region. It was argued that the invasion was necessary to remove "weapons of mass-destruction" that were being amassed by Saddam Hussein. When that was proved untrue, the Anglo-American invaders argued that they wanted to establish democracy in Iraq. Today Iraq is in the midst of a civil war created by the West. The major Western news organizations and the non-governmental organizations such the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which are heavily funded by the West, remain decidedly silence despite daily carnage taking place in that country. There is no moral outrage on the part of these human rights campaigners for the suffering of innocent Iraqis when the culprits were their paymasters.

Iraq is today one of the most dangerous places on Earth, thanks to the global "democracy" campaign of the Anglo-American leaders. Iraqis today not only have no democracy, but most importantly, lack basic security to go about their daily activities. In the meantime, the US has gained a permanent foothold in Iraq as never before with a largest fortified embassy, total control of its oil supply and, most importantly, a puppet regime installed by the US. This has given the US a guaranteed access to Iraq’s market for the supply of both military and consumer goods. The Anglo-American global "democracy" project is now complete, and the Western media and INGO allies are fully satisfied with the outcome of the Iraq war. They have moved on to their next assignment: Afghanistan, which is part the US strategy in South and Southeast Asia.

The South Asia has been particularly important for the US global strategy since the cold war. The creation of Al Quida organization involving Islamic militants against the Soviet backed regime in Afghanistan began in the early 1980s. With the end of the cold war, the key partners of the US strategic alliances broke up, and Al Quida became a sworn enemy of the West. A classic case of the "creature turned against its creator" with vengeance.

Some may think that the purpose of the current war in Afghanistan and Pakistan involving US and NATO troops is to capture Osama Bin Laden, terrorist master-mind in 9/11 attack, and now hiding in somewhere in the tribal area of Pakistan. If that is the real reason, a well-equipped, nearly 100,000-man army should have finished the job in a few weeks, if not months. The truth is that they are not interested in Osama Bin Laden per se, but to stir up regional conflicts to prevent countries in that neighborhood from realizing their economic potential.

The longer this conflict lasts, both Afghanistan and Pakistan will have no chance of economic recovery, and will remain impoverished. They would continue to depend on American economic and military aid to carry on with a vicious military campaign, which has no obvious winners, except the US.

Likewise, India will continue to be rattled by periodic cross-border attacks by disaffected Muslims in the region. Moreover, India’s inability to resist the US pressure to get involved in the American geo-political agenda in that region will eventually antagonize not only China, but also many other smaller countries in the region.

Throughout the Cold War, the US kept Pakistan as its ally to undermine India, which was an ally of the Soviet Union. However, today, the US has almost abandoned Pakistan in favor of India, as the new US strategy to contain China requires much larger military and economic cooperation in the region. By bringing India on the side of the US to counter China’s economic and military influence in South Asia, the US foreign policy and military strategists intend to create a much bigger conflict in that region, which would destroy India. The Indian foreign policy mandarins must somehow find a way to cut India free from the "American Rope," if India is to avoid military confrontation with China.

As recently as last week, Indian Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta warned Indian authorities that India is no match for China when it comes to Chinese military and naval superiority. The US strategists are fully aware of this "sudden" and "perceived" insecurity by the Indian military leaders. In an attempt to exploit this, the US military strategists and media continue to highlight a perceived so called "military ring" being created by China in South Asia. Although Chinese concerned is purely its own economic and territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national security, the US has its own agenda to weaken China through various insurgent groups including Muslim minority and Tibetan separatists. By portraying China as a potential military threat to India, two large emerging economies in Asia, and forcing India to spend a large sum of money to build up Indian armed forces annually, the US is going to benefit economically in the short-run by selling military hardware to India. However, in the long-run, the objective is to destroy both China and India, as potential global economic rivals to the US.


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2009, 06:18:52 am »
Passports Linked to 9/11 Found in Pakistan

Friday , October 30, 2009,2933,570428,00.html

Oct. 29: Photos and passports seized during military operations against Taliban militants are displayed on a table in South Waziristan.

Oct. 29: Pakistani soldiers display seized photos, passports, ammunitions and weapons during operations against Taliban militants in South Waziristan.

SHERWANGAI, Pakistan — Pakistani soldiers battling their way into a Taliban stronghold along the Afghan border have seized passports that may be linked to 9/11 suspects, as they confront an enemy skilled in operating in a mountainous terrain with endless ways to wage a guerrilla war.

The military on Thursday took foreign and local journalists for a first look inside the largely lawless territory since it launched a ground offensive here in mid-October. The U.S.-backed operation is focused on a section of the tribal region where the Pakistani Taliban are based and are believed to shelter Al Qaeda.

Soldiers displayed passports seized in the operation, among them a German document belonging to a man named Said Bahaji. That matches the name of a man thought to have been a member of the Hamburg cell that conceived the 9/11 attacks. Bahaji is believed to have fled Germany shortly before the attacks in New York and Washington.

The passport included a tourist visa for Pakistan and a stamp indicating he'd arrived in the southern city of Karachi on Sept. 4, 2001.

Another passport, from Spain, bears the name of Raquel Burgos Garcia. Spanish media have reported that a woman with the same name is married to Amer Azizi, an alleged Al Qaeda member from Morocco suspected in both the 9/11 attacks and the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

Her family in Madrid has had no news of her since 2001, according to Spanish media. Her passport included visas to India and Iran, and the army displayed a Moroccan document with Burgos Garcia's photo and other information.

It was impossible to determine whether the passports are genuine, and German and Spanish officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the army's chief spokesman, said he had not realized the passports matched any prominent names, and declined further comment other than to say European militants were sprinkled throughout the area.

The U.S. has maintained for years that South Waziristan and other parts of the rugged frontier have sheltered Osama bin Laden and his senior lieutenants.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, visiting this country on Thursday, said Pakistan squandered opportunities over the years to kill or capture Al Qaeda leaders responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," Clinton said in an interview with Pakistani journalists in Lahore. "Maybe that's the case. Maybe they're not gettable. I don't know."

Although the military spent months using airstrikes to soften up targets in South Waziristan, nearly two weeks into the ground offensive it has captured only a few areas, none with significant strategic value. The army has seized weapons but is still trying to secure the main roads and regularly comes under rocket fire.

"It's a long-drawn haul," Abbas said. "They are offering resistance, and we are also striking them hard."

Pakistan's tribal belt, a semiautonomous stretch of land where the government has long had little influence, is usually off-limits to foreigners. In recent years, as the militants' influence has spread, even many Pakistanis dare not venture here.

The tribal regions are some of the poorest, most underdeveloped areas in the world and have long been guided by traditional codes and councils. The Taliban have slaughtered hundreds of tribal elders in their rise to power.

In Sherwangai, a sparsely populated district along one of the offensive's three major fronts, army commanders said they had killed 82 insurgents and lost six soldiers in their attempt to secure the area, where the hills are covered in brush, rocks and dust and strong winds whip high ridges. Many battle-hardened Uzbek militants are believed to have taken shelter here.

The military is slowly capturing isolated hamlets as it encircles the small town of Kaniguram, its next target in the push forward. But even where the army has taken control, much of the area remains dangerous, filled with land mines and roadside bombs.

After an initial surge of resistance, many militants have been fleeing. Because the army has sealed off the main passes, "they will not be able to go out in a major way," said Maj. Gen. Khalid Rabbani, a top battlefield commander.

Yet, he added, "If somebody chooses even to cross Mount Everest, he will be able to do it. So there are going to be a few, changing their disguise — taking care of their beards and long hair — they will be able to get out."

In addition to the passports, the military displayed papers and dozens of weapons and large amounts of ammunition it said it had recovered from Sherwangai.

Civilians were nowhere to be seen during Thursday's trip — some 155,000 have left the region in the past few months. South Waziristan normally has about 500,000 people.

At one military outpost, in a large mud compound in Sherwangai, smoke could be seen rising in the distance from villages under army fire. Officials assured reporters the civilians had left those areas.

The military previously estimated that the South Waziristan offensive would take at least two to three months, and officials were hesitant Thursday to give a deadline. They also declined to give a time frame for how long troops would have to stay to prevent militants from returning.

It also is unclear whether Islamabad has any plans for how to govern the territory effectively and prevent the insurgency from again taking root.

The army has deployed three divisions — about 30,000 troops — to take on some 5,000 to 8,000 militants, Abbas said, lowering a previous estimate of 10,000 militants. His estimate included up to 1,500 foreign fighters, most of them Uzbeks. Afghan fighters are also reportedly filtering in from across the border.

This is the fourth major offensive the Pakistani army has launched in South Waziristan since 2004, and this time the military has promised a fight to the finish. The previous operations ended in setbacks or peace deals that left the militant groups even stronger.

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2009, 08:03:18 am »
AfPak: Illegal, Immoral, Fattening

Posted By Jeff Huber On October 29, 2009 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | No Comments

Missing from the debates regarding our wars these days is their moral and legal aspects. 

UN human rights investigator Philip Alston says the U.S. needs to explain the legal basis for assassinating suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan with drone strikes.  That’s an explanation I’d like to hear.  It probably starts with "hamana, hamana, hamana…"

Alston says the CIA needs to be accountable to international laws that ban arbitrary executions.  The CIA won’t be able to do that, nor will the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s old outfit that whacked people in the Middle East on the arbitrary orders of Dick Cheney’s office.   

I’m uncertain whether drone strikes, per se, are the primary issue.  The JSOC and, I’m sure, the CIA, have been doing assassinations of suspected terrorists the old fashioned way as well — with snipers.   

While taking someone down with a bullet seems cold, it’s actually more humane that dropping a bomb on the individual that will smithereen all the other individuals in the vicinity.  The problem with using snipers is that it takes a lot longer to put the snipers in place.  Drones move fairly quickly. 

But in either case, we’re talking about what Alston describes as "arbitrary" and "extrajudicial" executions. There’s no denying that that’s exactly what we’re doing.   

The U.S. says the Human Rights Council has no business sticking its nose into killings related to an armed conflict.  Alston calls that assertion "simply untenable."   

Much of our problem is that what we’re in the middle of is barely recognizable as an armed conflict.  In Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly, we’re conducting nation-building projects that involve counterinsurgency and counter-terror combat operations.  At what point are we conducting war, and at what point are we just whacking people?

Moreover, on what basis are we determining which suspects to whack?  Our intelligence in the Middle East is goosey at best.  We crawl into the sack with a lot of scumbags.  So we give Willy the Warlord a crate of guns and a stack of greenbacks to be our buddy, and ask him to tell us who the bad guys are, and he gives us a list of his lifelong enemies, and we kill them for him.  Is that any way to do business?   

In so many of our dirty little conflicts since World War II we’ve looked back to see we were on the wrong side.  We backed Saddam Hussein against Iran, we backed Manuel Noriega before we invaded Panama to remove him from power.  And we supported al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their fight against the Soviets.   

The Taliban were able to take power in Afghanistan because of the corruption and brutality of the Mujahideen warlords, the same warlords who presently back our puppet ruler, Hamid Karzai.   

The only legal basis of our AfPak war is the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress on Sept. 18, 2001.  Viewed by many as a "blank check," it was condemned as an abnegation by Congress of its constitutional responsibilities to dictate when and where a president can wage foreign wars.  In the Obama era, these concerns have vanished.  If Obama, or any other president, can create any loose connection between terror and whatever aggressive military action he wants to take, he can take it.   

That’s not what the founders had in mind when they gave Congress, not the executive, the power to declare war. 

In an excellent op-ed piece titled "Blood for Nothing," military affairs pundit Ralph Peters notes, "We enforce rules of engagement that kill our own troops to avoid alienating villagers who actively support the Taliban and celebrate our deaths."

This is the moral and legal point that offends me the most.  We send these kids into wars that our top military and civilian leadership can’t coherently justify, and send them out on offensive missions, and give them rules of engagement that essentially say "kill the bad guys if you can, but get killed yourself before you kill any civilians."

There are no civilians in AfPak.  Everybody’s in on the action, or is related to somebody who is. 

We are not the good guys in this war.  As Peters aptly observes, "The Taliban are the patriots. We’re the Redcoats." 

The "classic" counterinsurgency (COIN) operation McChrystal wants to mount is based on lies.  Again from Peters: "Our counterinsurgency (COIN) theory — hatched by military pseudo-intellectuals and opportunists — has no serious historical basis. It ignores the uncomfortable lessons of 3,000 years of fighting insurgencies and terrorists. Its authors claim Vietnam and Algeria as success stories."

"As for the claim that COIN worked in Iraq," Peters writes, "it’s nonsense."  The "successful" surge in Iraq was a crafted illusion that Gen. David Petraeus created by bribing everybody not to use the weapons he gave them.  That’s what COIN doctrine boils down to: attempting to tame a corrupt and violent society by pouring graft and weapons into it.  It’s an excuse to make the fat cats in the U.S. military industrial complex fatter.  It’s a sin.

The CIA has had Karzai’s brother, a major drug dude, on its dole for years.  The Karzai government and the drug lords have a "marriage of convenience."

We don’t need to fight this kind of war.  We have enough dirt and blood on our hands.  We need to become the nation of enlightenment that our founders meant us to be.  Finally.

Read more by Jeff Huber
Alas Afghanistan – October 28th, 2009
Stan McChrystal’s Flying Circus – October 27th, 2009
Neocons and Pentagon Rage Against the Dying of the Fight – October 26th, 2009
Bleep NATO – October 25th, 2009
Make the World Go Away – October 23rd, 2009


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2009, 06:45:45 am »
The Fruits of Intervention

By Pat Buchanan

October 30, 2009 "" -- If we had it to do over, would we send an army into Afghanistan to build a nation?

Would we invade Iraq?

While these two wars have cost 5,200 dead, a trillion dollars and a divided America facing an endless war, what have we won?

Gen. Stanley McChrystal needs 40,000 to 80,000 more troops, or we risk "mission failure" in Afghanistan. At present casualty rates — October was the worst month of the war — thousands more Americans will die before we see any light at the end of this tunnel, if ever we do.

Pakistan, which aided us in Afghanistan, now has a war of its own to fight. Its army is in a battle in South Waziristan, while the country is wracked by terror bombings, the latest in a Peshawar bazaar that specialized in women's clothing and jewelry and toys for kids. So horrific was the toll even the Taliban and al-Qaida denied any role in it.

The 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are, after almost seven years, to begin pulling out two months after January's election. But a hitch has developed. Iraq's parliament missed the deadline for setting the rules. At issue: Will voters be allowed to choose individual candidates, or will they be allowed only to vote for slates of candidates?

Gen. Ray Odierno implies that postponement of the election may mean postponement of U.S. withdrawals.

Ominously, in August, terrorists bombed the foreign and finance ministries in Baghdad, and last week blew up the Justice Ministry and Baghdad Provincial Governorate. And the Kurds are now claiming their control of oil-rich Kirkuk is non-negotiable, which crosses a red line in Baghdad.

Next door, a terror attack by Jundallah (God's Brigade) in Iran's southern province of Sistan-Baluchistan killed 40, including two senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guard.

An enraged Tehran pointed the finger at the United States, as there have been charges the CIA has been in contact with Jundallah as part of President Bush's destabilization program to effect "regime change."

But Barack Obama has been in office for nine months — and he would never authorize such an attack on the eve of a critical meeting on Iran's nuclear program. Moreover, the State Department condemned the Jundallah bombing as terrorism and offered public condolences to the families of the victims.

But if we didn't authorize this, who did?

Was the timing of this attack coincidental? Were these just freelance secessionists on an operation unrelated to the U.S.-Iran talks? Or is someone trying to torpedo the talks and push Iran and the United States into military collision?

For this was a provocation.
And whoever carried it out and whoever authorized or abetted it wishes to dynamite the U.S.-Iran negotiations, abort a rapprochement and put us on a road to war.

Speculation is focusing on the Saudis, the Gulf Arabs and the Israelis, who have been accused, as has the United States, of aiding PJAK, a Kurdish faction that has conducted raids in northern Iran.

If we have any control of these organizations, we should shut them down. With U.S. armies tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and America conducting Predator and cross-border attacks in Pakistan, provoking a war with Iran would be an act of madness.

Looking back, how has all this fighting advanced U.S. national interests? We have a "democratic" Iraq that is Shia-dominated and tilting to Iran. We have an open-ended war in Afghanistan that will likely do for Obama what Iraq did for Bush. But we can't pull out, it is said, for if we do, Kabul falls and Afghanistan becomes the sanctuary for an Islamist war to take over Pakistan and its nuclear weapons.

And if that should happen, it would indeed be a crisis.

And so, how has all this intervention availed us?

We ran Saddam out of Kuwait and put U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia. And we got Osama bin Laden's 9-11. We responded by taking down the Taliban and taking over Afghanistan. And we got an eight-year war with no victory and no end in sight. Now Pakistan is burning. We took down Saddam and got a seven-year war and an ungrateful Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Turks, who shared a border with Saddam, have done no fighting. Iran has watched as we destroyed its two greatest enemies, the Taliban and Saddam. China, which has a border with both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has sat back. India, which has a border with Pakistan and fought three wars with that country, has stayed aloof.

The United States, on the other side of the world, plunged in. And now we face an elongated military presence in Iraq, an escalating war in Afghanistan and potential disaster in Pakistan, and are being pushed from behind into a war with Iran.

"America rejects the false comfort of isolationism," said George W. Bush in his 2006 State of the Union. And we did reject that false comfort. And now we can enjoy the fruits of interventionism.

Patrick Buchanan is the author of the book "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2009, 07:07:02 am »
Video: 'US military spreading death'


November 1, 2009

Death rather than nation building - that's what the U.S. army brought to Iraq and is bringing to Afghanistan according to former army sergeant and anti-war activist Matthis Chiroux.

He shared his views on the U.S. military campaigns with RT's Marina Portnaya.


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2009, 07:19:06 am »
October 31, 2009

Interchangeable Quagmires

By Steve Hynd

Let's try a little experiment. Who do you think wrote this?

The current strategy is exactly what Al Qaeda wants—the United States distracted and pinned down by internal conflicts and trapped in a quagmire that has become the perfect rallying cry and recruitment tool for Al Qaeda. The United States has no good options given the strategic and tactical mistakes made, but simply staying the course with an indefinite military presence is not advancing U.S. interests.

...The fundamental premise of the surge strategy—that leaders will make key decisions to advance their country’s political transition and national reconciliation—is at best misguided and clearly unworkable.

...The “no end in sight” strategy fosters a culture of dependency among Iraqis by propping up certain members of the national government without fundamentally changing political dynamics. It does so at the cost of grinding down the strength of U.S. ground forces, as the readiness of these forces continues to decline.

Or this:

The United States should mitigate increasingly violent fragmentation by ceasing the unconditional arming and training of national security forces until a political consensus and sustainable political solution is reached. As the United States redeploys its military forces, it should immediately phase out its training of  national security forces and place strict limits on arming and equipping them. Spending billions to arm  security forces without political consensus among leaders carries significant risks—the largest of which is arming faction-ridden national units before a unified national government exists that these armed forces will loyally support. Training and equipping security forces risks making the civil war even bloodier and more vicious than it already is today. It also increases the dangers that these weapons will one day be turned against the United States and its allies in the region.

Some peacenik blogger writing about Afghanistan? No, those quotes are from a 2007 paper on Iraq by Lawrence Korb and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress. I cheated - I scubbed out all references to the country they were talking about. And when it comes to Iraq, present events are proving they were right. As Joost Hilterman wrote this week:

the problems in Iraq are much more profound, and much more threatening, than occasional bomb blasts, however powerful. The bombings distract from the sobering fact that politics remain so dysfunctional as to disable governance. Following a two-year lull in which security steadily improved but politicians made no progress on the principal constitutional issues dividing them—particularly on the questions of how to share or divide power and wealth, and how to settle territorial disputes—Baghdad has entered a season of crisis that may undo the relative peace that has been achieved.

It seems to me that you could make a case for all they said to be applicable to Afghanistan too, though. Yet again we have a multi-factional and violent scene; with national leaders jockeying for supremacy rather than working together while the U.S.-led occupation trains corrupt security forces with divided loyalties while insurgents sap American blood and treasure.

Post surge, the CAP team of Korb, Duggan and Jull wrote again about withdrawal. As above, I'll file off anything identifying the country they're talking about so we can see how it fits Afghanistan.

the American invasion and occupation has produced several unintended consequences. A large and indefinite military presenc has allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to reconstitute itself, diverted U.S. attention ... weakened the United States’ ability to project its hard and soft power around the world ...The latest unintended consequence is widespread opposition to the seemingly indefinite American troop presence.

...Recent calls for a specific timetable for the withdrawal of American forces represent the beginning of a broad cross-sectarian parliamentary bloc that could provide the organizing principles for accommodation in the short term and eventual reconciliation. No such consensus yet exists as to what the new nation will be, but broad consensus does exist around the belief that no genuine, sustainable unity can develop while the government continues to be underwritten by a large foreign military presence.

Back in November 2008, President Karzai did indeed call for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Unlike during the Bush years, however, CAP has made no noticeable calls upon the Obama administration to accede to that request. "We'll leave if they ask us to" is apparently only a good thing if it doesn't suit CAP's favored political ends.

Finally, in another 2006 paper, Korb and Katulis set out the benefits of withdrawal. Again, I'll file off the name of the nation to see how they fit Afghanistan today. They wrote that a "comprehensive strategic redeployment" would:

•Restore the strength of U.S. ground troops
•Exercise a strategic shift to meet global threats from Islamist extremists
•Prevent U.S. troops from being caught in the middle of a civil war
•Provide time for elected leaders to strike a power-sharing agreement
•Get those just fighting to end the occupation to lay down their arms
•Motivate the U.N., global, and regional powers to get more involved
Those all sound like they'd be applicable to Afghanistan to me.

Yet C.A.P. has been, broadly, favorable to Obama's continued involvement in Afghanistan and to the McChrystal plan for a surge in further escalation of U.S. involvement there.

At no point has C.A.P. tried to explain why, if "at least 170,000 troops ... trying to quell multiple conflicts while risking the destruction of the all-volunteer U.S. Army" was a bad thing in Iraq, it isn't a bad thing in Afghanistan. Saying "Afghanistan is the central front" doesn't count. It isn't. If there is such a thing, it is now in Pakistan - but many experts argue that safe havens can be anywhere and that in any case they are unneccesary to the distributed network of affiliated franchises that Al Qaeda has become.

In the absence of those arguments, convincingly presented, it looks a lot like C.A.P.s unstated position is "Republican policy bad, Democrat policy good". That's not a stance people should be dying for.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #27 on: November 01, 2009, 07:47:04 am »
Cross-border insurgents flood Afghanistan

Iranians, Pakistanis play role in growth of Taliban force

By Sean D. Naylor - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Oct 31, 2009 13:41:24 EDT
KABUL — The expansion of Islamic extremist groups across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is “the worst I’ve seen it,” with Afghan insurgents receiving help from Iranian operatives and “very possibly” freelancing Pakistani intelligence agents, as well as a small but growing number of “deadly” foreign fighters, said Maj. Gen. Mike Flynn, director of intelligence for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s headquarters here.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of control right now, but this is a California wildfire and we’re having to bring in firemen from New York,” said Flynn, who has been tracking Islamic extremism for at least eight years in postings as director of intelligence for Joint Task Force 180 (in Afghanistan), Joint Special Operations Command, Central Command and the Joint Staff.

The U.S. intelligence community estimates that 19,000 to 27,000 insurgents are operating in Afghanistan, a roughly tenfold increase from 2004’s estimate of 1,700 to 3,200, said Flynn, who was brought in by McChrystal to head up intelligence operations for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and is considered one of the four-star general’s closest confidantes here.

Flynn compared the latest numbers with an intelligence community report in October 2001 — the month after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the Taliban still ruled Afghanistan — that estimated the Taliban army’s strength at 33,000 to 35,000, “with potentially up to 20,000 reserve fighters.”

‘We … missed the signs’

“I’m not a big one to match numbers, but what I look at is their capacity,” Flynn said. “So the Taliban existed as a government — they had an army, it was defeated … and then we basically screwed this thing up. And what we did was we allowed it to come back, and when we really, really missed it. …

“When it started to really show again, I believe, was probably somewhere between 2006 and 2007. And we just flat missed the signs. … [W]e were in the middle of that period of time when we were losing in Iraq, and I just think people weren’t paying attention enough, and certainly not listening to the leadership out here at that time.”

Analysts generally divide the Afghan insurgency into three main groups: the Taliban run by Mullah Omar through the “Quetta Shura,” named after the Pakistani city where the Taliban’s leaders are believed to reside; the Haqqani network, led by former mujahedeen commander and Taliban minister Jalaluddin Haqqani and, increasingly, his sons Sirajuddin and Badruddin; and the Hezb-i-Islami group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, often referred to by coalition forces as Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, or HiG.

There is a “loose but … subordinated” level of coordination between the three groups, according to Flynn.

“The Haqqanis, they subordinate themselves for a variety of reasons to the Quetta Shura,” with the Taliban senior leadership in Quetta issuing orders to the Haqqanis, he said. Meanwhile, Hekmatyar’s group does not necessarily subordinate itself to the Taliban but it does cooperate with them, so that when HiG conducts an attack, “like an operation against a governor in the east, they will say that it was a Taliban-initiated event,” Flynn said. “They use the Taliban as sort of their umbrella, to act as one, or certainly to be perceived as one.”

However, Flynn added, Hekmatyar’s organization does not represent the same level of threat as the other two insurgent groups. “He’s more independent, but he’s not all that effective, really,” he said. “He’s not effective like the Haqqani network is right now, nor is he as effective as the Taliban.”

Flynn distinguished between “the Afghan Taliban,” including those crossing into Afghanistan from bases in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and “the Pakistani Taliban,” who also operate from the FATA, but aim most of their attacks at Pakistani targets. Pakistani security forces “generally don’t mess with” the Afghan Taliban, “because they’re not the ones killing a hundred people and wounding 150 in Peshawar,” he said.

“The TTP [Tarik-e-Taliban Pakistan], led by Hekmatullah Mehsud, is doing that. That’s the Pakistani Taliban. Now, does Hekmatullah Mehsud’s group provide fighters that fight in Afghanistan? The answer’s probably yes. In fact it is yes. It’s ‘go up there and get your battle stripes, get your combat patch, but come back, because we have a job to do here in Pakistan.’ ”

That sort of coordination between armed Islamist groups has Flynn worried.

“They’re coordinating enough today that I believe this expansion of the Islamic extremist movement, particularly in this region, is to the point where it’s the worst I’ve seen it, [and] the coordination amongst those groups is the best I’ve seen it,” he said, adding that the groups share common strategic goals. “The common goals are to create an Islamic state and to rid the region of the un-Islamic enemies, and particularly in Afghanistan it’s the international community that’s here, certainly the Americans,” he said.

Not just Pashtun fighters

Providing what Flynn described as “a deadly fuel to the fire” in Afghanistan are foreign fighters whose numbers have increased over the past 12 months. He stressed that by “foreign” he was not referring to Pashtun fighters in Afghanistan, who were Pakistani citizens, but rather insurgents from places like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Germany and Chechnya.

While Arabs are “certainly” part of that mix, the number of Arab fighters arriving in Afghanistan are not close to the number of non-Iraqi Arabs who fought coalition and Iraqi security forces during the deadliest period of the Iraq war, Flynn said.

“We haven’t captured the Arabs — the foreign Arabs — that we captured in Iraq,” he said. “There at the height it was probably somewhere between 150 and 200 a month that were just driving down from al Qaim to Baghdad, or coming through Mosul. Here it’s not like that.” One reason why not is that “it’s just harder to get here,” he said.

The number of foreign fighters in Afghanistan who could be described as “al-Qaida” forces is less than 100, according to the intelligence community’s latest estimates, but they have a disproportionate impact on the war, Flynn said.

“The numbers have gone back and forth — is there 50? 70? 100?” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference. If there’s a couple out there that are the hard-core, ideologically-driven individuals and they have the imprimatur of Mullah Omar to get out there and help train, then they become a very deadly fuel in a fire.”

In addition to the al-Qaida troops there are “more than a hundred” other foreigners fighting alongside home-grown insurgents across a wide swath of Afghanistan, Flynn said. Just across the border, in the Pakistani tribal areas, are another 400 to 1,500 foreign fighters, he said, a number that is growing as those fighters’ families expand.

“We now have children [of foreign fighters] who were 11 on 9/11 and who are now like 20, so if they’re following in their father’s footsteps — Christ, if they’re 16, they’re dangerous,” Flynn said.

Iran’s influence

The two-star general chose his words carefully when asked whether Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, which was an early sponsor of the Taliban and retains links to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani from their days as mujahedeen commanders, still supports those groups.

“There is no known state affiliation,” said Flynn, who had just returned from a meeting with Pakistani military leaders in Islamabad. He acknowledged that the implication of his statement was that if ISI personnel were helping the insurgents, it was on a freelance basis, outside the purview of the ISI leadership, and said that scenario was “very possible.”

Flynn was more direct when asked about the activities in Afghanistan of Iran’s Quds Force, an elite element in the Republican Guard that combines intelligence and special operations functions.

“They are conducting intelligence operations,” he said, adding that the Quds Force was “playing games on both sides [of the Afghan-Pakistan border] that are very dangerous.”

The Quds Force was “probably” doing things in Afghanistan that were getting coalition troops killed, including providing weapons to insurgents and training the Taliban, he said.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have not captured any Quds Force operatives, but “the Afghans have captured Iranians,” Flynn said, referring to four Iranians caught smuggling small arms in Nimruz in July. Asked if his people were “beating down the door” to interrogate the Iranians, Flynn answered “Yes,” before adding, “We have had great cooperation with the Afghans.”

When questioned as to whether it was his working assumption that the four were Quds Force members, Flynn replied: “They were bringing in weapons. Now, do they have the badge that says ‘QF’ on the logo? No.”

Flynn’s assessment is that the Iranians were probably planning to sell the weapons in Helmand and return to Iran, “maybe with some narcotics to take back out.”

He noted that, on this occasion at least, the Iranians were not smuggling explosively formed projectiles, which are used to make a particularly lethal form of roadside bomb, and which the Iranians supplied to Iraqi insurgents in large numbers. “There’s been only a couple of EFP discoveries here,” he said. “They have not taken that strategic step, and I would recommend that they don’t. That would be a huge strategic line to cross, especially given what they’ve done in Iraq.”

Nonetheless, the Quds Force was still a malevolent force in Afghanistan, Flynn stressed. “The IRGC Quds Force is an organization that needs to be checked at the door,” he said. “And if the country of Iran wants to act responsibly on the world stage they need to take that organization, dismantle it and get it to quit acting like a nation-state-backed terrorist organization.”

Instead, he said, “They’re playing the game. When I talk about the California wildfire, they’re not standing there with a big fire hose putting the fire, let’s just say that. If there’s anything coming out of that hose, it’s grease.”

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2009, 07:57:24 am »
Afghan runoff canceled; Karzai declared winner

By Alexandra Zavis


The nation's election panel cites the security risks and expense of holding an election when only one candidate is running.

November 2, 2009

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — The chairman of Afghanistan's election commission today canceled Saturday's presidential runoff and declared President Hamid Karzai the victor.

Independent Election Commission Chairman Azizullah Lodin explained that under the nation's constitution, the second round of balloting should have two candidates. He also cited the expense and security risks of holding a vote.

Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah bowed out of the presidential contest Sunday, effectively handing Karzai another five-year term. But until today's decision it remained unclear whether the scheduled runoff would continue with just one candidate.

"We declare that Mr. Hamid Karzai, who got the majority of votes in the first round and is the only candidate in the second round ... is the president of Afghanistan," said Lodin.

"In the second round," he added, "the constitution says the election should be between two candidates. If one candidate isn't ready to participate in the election, it is the mandate of the Independent Election Commission to declare the winner, and we did so today."

Zekria Barakzai, an electoral official serving on the panel, said: "Why should people risk their lives for a second round [when] the result is already known?"

Some local analysts had suggested that Karzai might want to go ahead with the election to prove that he has a credible mandate after U.N.-backed auditors, citing massive fraud, threw out nearly a third of his votes in the first round of balloting in August. That left the president just short of the 50% threshold required for an outright win and forced him into the runoff against Abdullah, his main challenger.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in Kabul earlier today to meet with the Afghan leaders, indicated support for the commission's decision. In a news conference, he also said Karzai agreed to provide additional security for U.N. personnel in Afghanistan.

The dangers of pressing ahead with Saturday's election where underscored last week when gunmen armed with suicide vests and grenades stormed a guesthouse, killing eight people, including five U.N. employees. Taliban militants said this was just the first attack aimed at undermining U.N. support for the election.

Abdullah said Sunday that he withdrew from the race after Karzai rejected a list of demands he believed would help prevent a repeat of the irregularities of the first round, including the removal of the the election panel's top leadership and the suspension of three ministers he accused of abusing their positions to help Karzai's campaign.

Karzai's aides maintained that the president did not have the authority to dismiss commission members, who can be removed only through the judicial system. And they said Karzai could not act against his ministers without evidence.

- [email protected]


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2009, 08:00:37 am »
South Asia
Nov 3, 2009 
Al-Qaeda has plans for its new recruit

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - With the United States on the brink of taking a decision on whether to send an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, and with the leadership of al-Qaeda redefining its vision eight years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, a new phase in al-Qaeda's war is likely to begin.

Soon after top al-Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri surfaced for an exclusive interview with Asia Times Online (see Al-Qaeda's guerrilla chief lays out strategy Asia Times Online, October 15) :
to deny that he had been killed in a missile attack by a US Predator drone, US agents exposed a plot to use an American national for terrorist attacks in Denmark and India.

According to reports, the man, identified as David Coleman Headley, was one of two suspects arrested last month by the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport before he boarded a flight to Philadelphia, from where he was said to be going to travel to Pakistan to meet his handlers, including Ilyas.

Headley's alleged partner in the claimed terror plot, which included plans to attack the Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, was a Pakistani-Canadian named Tahawwur Hussain Rana, also a Chicago resident. He was arrested by the FBI on October 18.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in a Chicago court, Headley was in close contact with Ilyas and several unidentified leaders of the militant group, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT); they were only identified as "LeT member A" and "Individual A". Headley had visited Pakistan before to meet LeT handlers and was returning there ostensibly to finalize plans for strikes.

"In July and August, Headley exchanged a series of e-mails with LeT Member A, including an exchange in which Headley asked if the Denmark project was on hold, and whether a visit to India that LeT member A had asked him to undertake was for the purpose of surveilling targets for a new terrorist attack," the FBI said in its affidavit.

"These e-mails reflect that LeT Member A was placing a higher priority on using Headley to assist in planning a new attack in India than on completing the planned attack in Denmark," it said.

Ilyas was never associated with LeT, but his 313 Brigade comprises several top former LeT commanders.

The plot has been unearthed at a time when al-Qaeda is preparing for a new phase in its struggle. Its central front in the global war theater is Afghanistan. Here it has over the past few years hit targets that it believed would enhance its popularity among the masses. It has not been particularly successful, mainly due to the arrest and killing of a number of its key operators in Pakistan.

However, the recent placement of Ilyas as the chairman of its military committee will allow al-Qaeda to use commandos from the notorious 313 Brigade to launch attacks in Western countries as well as in India. The brigade comprises jihadis with extensive experience in Pakistan's Kashmir struggle with India.

In his interview with Asia Times Online, Ilyas mentioned the cartoons published in the Danish press, but only in passing as a reference to Western tyranny. He said, "We have been exposing all sorts of their victimization and tyranny. These nations have published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in order to humiliate all Muslims."

He would not be drawn on any of his plans. "I am not a traditional jihadi cleric who is involved in sloganeering. As a military commander, I would say every target has a specific time and reason, and the responses will be forthcoming accordingly."

In the interview, his first given to the English-language media, his emphasis was against India for the "liberation of Kashmir", although he said he had now expanded his struggle against America, which he referred to as "the big Satan", and its allies.

By utilizing the experienced Ilyas, al-Qaeda hopes to launch attacks that will create a backlash in the Muslim world against the West and boost the morale of the masses on the streets. The publisher of the Danish cartoons would have been a popular target, given the waves of demonstrations throughout the Muslim world at the publication of the cartoons. This especially as the Organization of Islamic Countries failed to take any popular steps, such as severing diplomatic ties or boycotting Danish products.

Ilyas' 313 Brigade is an elite group with stiff entry requirements - it takes more than just a good jihadi background to get in. Ilyas, who denies media reports that he was once part of a special services group of the Pakistani army, was a mujahid during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s and received top training in explosives and guerrilla operations in the air, on water and on land.

Recruits to 313 Brigade are required to undergo extensive training that includes spiritual awareness - members have to pray five times a day, plus additional prayers at midnight (Tahajud). They suffer sleep and food deprivation to toughen them and learn deep-water diving and survival skills, including orienteering and how to plan operations.

Once a jihad passes all tests, most of which Ilyas personally oversees, he is assigned for commando operations in Afghanistan - and from there, if al-Qaeda is to be believed - to the wider world.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at [email protected]


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #30 on: November 02, 2009, 12:28:48 pm »
Targeted killings in Pakistan and elsewhere : official U.S. policy now ?

by Sanjeev Miglani

November 2, 2009

One of the things U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran into last week during her trip to Pakistan was anger over attacks by unmanned "drone" aircraft inside Pakistan and along the border with Afghanistan.

 One questioner during an interaction with members of the public said the missile strikes by Predator aircraft amounted to "executions without trial" for those killed.  Another asked Clinton to define terrorism and whether she considered the drone attacks to be an act of terrorim like the car bomb that ripped through Peshawar that same week killing more than 100 people.

The people of Pakistan aren’t the only ones asking that question.  A top UN rights expert has swung the attention back on the drone programme, saying that the United States may be violating international law with the missile strikes.

Philip Aston, the Special Rapporteur on extradjudicial, summary or arbitary executions, said there could be circumstances under which the use of such techniques could be justified in international law, but Washington would have to show it followed appropriate precautions and accountability mechanisms.


The United States will have to be more upfront about its Predator war. "Otherwise you have the really problematic bottom line, which is that the Central Intelligence Agency is running a programme that is killing a significant number of people, and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international law."

There is little doubt now that targeted killing is official U.S. policy,  Jane Meyer argues in a detailed piece for the New Yorker.  What is worrying is that the embrace of the Predator programme has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force. "And because of the CIA program’s secrecy, there is no visible system of accountability in place, despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a politically fragile nuclear-armed country with which the U.S. is not at war," Meyer writes.The drone programme, for all its successes, has stirred deep ethical concerns. Meyers quotes Michael Walzer, a political philosopher and author of the book "Just and Unjust Wars" that he is unsettled by the notion of an intelligence agency wielding such lethal power in secret. "Under what code does the CIA operate ?" he asks. "I don’t know. The military operates under a legal code, and it has judicial mechanisms. "

He said of the CIA’s drone programe, "there should be a limited, finite group of people who are targets , and that list should be publicly defensible and available. Instead, it’s not being publicy defended. People are being killed, and we generally require some public justification when we go about killing people."

The article is worth reading in full, but here some other parts that I found interesting :

- It took the CIA 16 missile strikes and 14 months before it killed Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban. During this hunt, between 207 and 321 additional people were killed, depending on which news accounts you rely upon.

-  During his first nine and half months in office, President Barack Obama has authorised as many CIA aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W. Bush did in his final three years, according to a study done by the New America Foundation. So far this year, the administration has sanctioned at least 41 CIA missile strikes inside Pakistan - a rate of approximately one bombing a week.

- At any given moment, the CIA has multiple drones flying over Pakistan, scounting for targets, according to a White House counter-terrorism official. There are actually so many drones in the area that sometimes arguments have broken out over which remote operators can claim which targets, provoking "command and control issues."

- Only six of the 41 CIA drone strikes conducted by the Obama administration in Pakistan have targeted al Qaeda members. Eighteen were directed at Taliban targets in Pakistan and 15 were aimed specifically at Mehsud.  The tactical shift in the U.S. strikes has quieted some of the Pakistani criticism of the air strikes, although the bombings are still seen as undermining the country’s sovereignty.


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2009, 10:37:21 am »
Attack of the Drones?

Won't Build a Better Future in Afghanistan

The media is enamored of high-tech, sexy-sounding airstrikes over Pakistan. They shouldn't be.

By Priya Satia, The Nation
Posted on October 26, 2009, Printed on November 3, 2009

"Attack of the Drones," a homage to the lesser of the Star Wars trilogies, is the headline of choice in reports on the One Good Thing to come out of the "war on terror": very cool gadgets. With the media stoking laddish pleasure in "weapons porn" (Newsweek's phrase), we might be forgiven for forgetting that this "greatest, weirdest, coolest hardware in the American arsenal" has neither brought the war to a swifter end nor enabled the capture of archenemy Osama bin Laden.

Indeed, behind the glittering mirage of news about the technological wizardry of drones and the giddy success of manufacturers from California to Karachi lies a chilling void of information about their use. In June the UN Human Rights Council condemned the U.S. failure to count and disclose, much less prevent, civilian casualties from drones in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, pledged to regulate their use (implying a disturbing lack of regulation till then). But the government still refuses to share even the most basic information about attacks, partly because in Pakistan they are run by the CIA. Independent reporters who dare to investigate -- like Stephen Farrell, who went to Kunduz after an airstrike killed about a hundred civilians -- court death as well as condemnation for taking "unnecessary" risks for something as trivial as the truth.

The U.S. military's certainty of the drones' effectiveness is difficult to take on trust, when it neither counts nor identifies those killed. It claims a number of top Al Qaeda officials have been hit but provides no answer to the Pakistani figure of nearly 700 civilian deaths in Pakistan alone since 2006. Official secrecy fuels rumors of the worst, and scandals like the September 4 Kunduz massacre prove that often the worst is true. Regulation cannot solve the practical problem, so evident that day, of identifying bad guys in a war-torn society in which fuel tankers captured by the Taliban attract a range of youths willing to siphon off free fuel at 2:30 am.

Afghans are cynical (and wise) enough to assume from past experience that the secrecy covers up facts too grisly for public airing. Aerial counterinsurgency was invented in the Pakistani-Afghan borderland and Iraq by the British in the 1920s. Then, as now, it was a means of fighting insurgency without public scrutiny. Then, as now, no one counted the dead. British MPs pressed futilely for "particulars of where and why these bombardments have taken place ... [and] whether inhabitants have been killed." Despite the government's twisted assurance that the regime worked primarily through "terror," bombardment was used routinely even for tax collection -- the sort of perversion only Orwell could capture: "Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification." It failed miserably: anger at civilian deaths and continual foreign surveillance provoked frequent insurgency, mistrust of local governments and the anxiety about Western imperialism that led to our present discontents.

Americans who are confused by the grotesque transformation of the modest aim of capturing a few bad men into a conflagration that has destroyed the lives of millions echo the Guardian of the 1920s, which asked why the British government had to send "all this machinery, all these forces...if we were establishing a political system on the basis of popular consent?" To make this skeptical public more "air-minded," the Air Ministry produced the glamorous image of the warrior-airman, which today's press is obligingly updating with the sexy robotics and thermal dynamics of drones. Without distinguishing between drones that protect our troops and those that drop bombs and hover menacingly over an occupied people, The Economist taunts, "like them or not, drones are here to stay."

But they needn't be: some experts in the media echo chamber realize that behind the awesome special effects is a pretty weak story. Lord Bingham, a retired senior British judge, compares hunter-killer drones to cluster bombs and land mines, weapons that have been deemed too cruel for use; and David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert and former adviser in Iraq, calls their hit rate immoral.

But time is running out. Drone surveillance is fast becoming the excuse for an extended American presence over Iraq and Afghanistan, if not on the ground, making the spoken objective of state-building a canard.

Airstrikes, manned or unmanned, regulated or not, cannot build a better Afghan future. For every decapitated Al Qaeda leader, ten angry and desperate dupes join up. In their pursuit of a better technique of bombardment, General McChrystal, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama have forgotten the all-important politics of bombardment. While eagerly correlating any drop in U.S. casualties with drone activity, they have missed the more revealing correlation between drone use, visceral hatred for the Kabul and Islamabad governments, and the expansion of the Taliban, who shrewdly portray their insurgency as nationalist resistance to the violence these governments connive in. As long as Afghans and Pakistanis see their governments as Janus-faced collaborators with the U.S. military occupation, the governments will not be able to stand up, and U.S. troops will not be able to stand down. Instead of sophomorically hailing the futuristic Attack of the Drones, it's time to revisit the homelier original, "A New Hope."

© 2009 The Nation All rights reserved.
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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #32 on: November 04, 2009, 06:23:57 am »
Afghan policeman kills five British soldiers

By Peter Griffiths

November 4, 2009

LONDON (Reuters) - An Afghan policeman has shot dead five British soldiers at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan, the defense ministry in London said on Wednesday.

The gunman opened fire at a military compound in Helmand province on Tuesday, a day after Afghan election officials canceled a presidential run-off vote and gave President Hamid Karzai a second term in office.

British soldiers returned fire, but the policeman escaped and is still at large, a defense ministry spokeswoman said. An investigation into the shooting is under way.

"An Afghan national policeman from the checkpoint started firing without warning before anyone could really respond," the spokesman said. "Every effort is being put into hunting him down."

Escalating violence in the U.S.-led war, a sharp rise in British casualties over the summer and concerns over corruption in Karzai's government have created a political headache for Prime Minister Gordon Brown before an election due by June.

Brown has faced criticism over troop numbers, tactics and equipment levels, including suggestions that a lack of helicopters has put British soldiers at risk.

Former Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, who chairs a parliamentary security committee, said Britain should withdraw most of its troops and focus on security at home.

"It would be better to bring home the great majority of our fighting men and women and concentrate instead on using the money saved to secure our own borders (and) gather intelligence on terrorist activities inside Britain," he wrote in an article for the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday.

Brown, who argues that NATO efforts in Afghanistan have helped to prevent attacks in Britain, said the whole country would mourn the loss of the soldiers. A total of 229 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

"The death of five brave soldiers in a single incident is a terrible loss," he said. "They fought to make Afghanistan more secure, but above all to make Britain safer from the terrorism and extremism which continues to threaten us from the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Britain is the second largest contributor to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, with 9,000 troops fighting the Taliban and helping to train local police and soldiers.

Afghan election officials canceled a presidential run-off election on Monday after Afghan President Hamid Karzai's rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew citing serious concerns about the election.

(Additional reporting by Jonathon Burch in Kabul; Editing by Charles Dick)


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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #33 on: November 04, 2009, 06:35:19 am »
Middle East
Nov 5, 2009 
Obama's world outreach teetering

By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - United States President Barack Obama's extraordinary efforts since his first days in office to reassure Muslims in the Greater Middle East about US intentions in the region have suffered a series of setbacks that threaten to reverse whatever gains he has made over the past 10 months in restoring Washington's badly battered image and influence there.

From Pakistan - where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got an earful of growing anti-US sentiment last week - to the West Bank and East Jerusalem - where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has successfully defied Washington's demands that he freeze Jewish settlement activity - events appear to have strayed far from the president's original game plan.

As for the vast territory that lies between, the badly tarnished election victory by Afghan President Hamid Karzai raises new questions over the viability of a conflict Obama himself called as recently as August, "a war of necessity". Meanwhile, Iran's failure so far to accept a US-backed plan to export most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) for reprocessing looks increasingly likely to foil his hopes for detente on that front.

A series of devastating bombings in recent weeks has also raised the specter of renewed ethnic and sectarian violence in Iraq, while a widely anticipated US rapprochement with Syria - as well as the resolution of the protracted political impasse in Lebanon - appears to have stalled.

Few analysts in Washington blame Obama alone for the lack of substantial progress on these fronts. In a number of cases, unanticipated events, like the rapid deterioration in security in Afghanistan - and forces over which the administration exercises little or no control, such as the hardline governments and domestic politics of Israel and Iran - have sabotaged his hopes.

But disappointment is clearly on the rise among those here and in the region who believed that Obama's realist foreign policy strategy of "engaging" foes, and his oft-repeated determination to achieve a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict "from day one" of his presidency promised rapid improvement in Washington's standing after eight years of decline under former president George W Bush.

"There is a general concern now, especially in the Arab world, that the administration is not delivering with respect to any issues in the region," said Chas Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia who withdrew his appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council (NIC) this year in the face of a media campaign by neo-conservative critics close to Israel's Likud Party.
"I think there's been quite a difference between how Obama as a person is perceived and how the US government as an institution is perceived," he added. "I think what may be happening is that Obama is sinking into the generally negative view of the US government in the region rather than transcending it as he once did."

"He started really well, particularly in his speeches in Istanbul [in April] and in Cairo [in June], in changing how the region perceives America and in setting forth a vision of the kinds of relationships he wanted," said Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Project at the New America Foundation.

"But those words have not been followed up by the kind of deep restructuring of policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and the Palestinians that [former President Richard] Nixon implemented toward China," he added. "If he had done so, the trend lines we're seeing in the region might not be as negative as they appear at the moment."

Of all the problems he faces the region, Afghanistan is the most urgent and time-consuming. Obama has been considering a recommendation from his military commanders to add some 44,000 US troops to the 68,000 already deployed there in order to repel Taliban advances and gain time for Washington and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to build national and local governance capacity and the Afghan army so it can hold its own.

The request comes just eight months after the same military institution told Obama that a total of only 75,000 US troops were needed to achieve the same goal. In the intervening period, not only has the Taliban made greater far greater strides - and killed more US and NATO forces - than anticipated, but the discredited election, combined with the Karzai government's notorious corruption, is virtually certain to make a US-led counter-insurgency campaign that much more difficult.

By calling the conflict against the Taliban a "war of necessity" and subsequently ruling out any drawdown of US forces, most analysts believe that Obama will approve if not all, then at least half of the military's request.

But some experts are worried that any escalation in the US troop presence could prove counterproductive, not only in Afghanistan, where they risk being seen as enforcers of a corrupt regime's writ, but also in neighboring Pakistan where Washington's pressure to bend the government and army to its will has clearly spurred widespread resentment of the kind Clinton ran into last week.

"The more that a war is seen to be Americanized and a matter of American occupation, the more we [risk] unit[ing] the disparate elements that we place under the label of the Taliban and bring[ing] into the fight [against the US] many people who have no sympathy whatsoever for the Taliban," noted Paul Pillar, a retired top Central Intelligence Agency analyst who served as National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia between 2000 and 2005, at a Rand Corporation conference in Washington last week.

Meanwhile, events in the rest of the Middle East also appear to be conspiring against Obama.

The renewed bombing campaign in Iraq, combined with rising tensions between Kurds and Arabs over the fate of Kirkuk, could yet force a slowdown in the planned withdrawal of US troops there, if not an unraveling of the relative stability achieved over the past two years.

At the same time, continued stalling by Iran over implementation of the low-enriched uranium export plan agreed in principle last month is making it increasingly difficult for the administration to resist intense and growing pressure from the so-called "Israel Lobby" and its Republican and Democratic allies in Congress to adopt what Clinton has called "crippling sanctions" against Tehran, even before the end of this year.

Not only would such a quick return to "sticks" risk nipping Obama's engagement efforts in the bud, but it would also sharply escalate tensions between the two hardline governments in Tehran and Jerusalem, renewing speculation about whether Israel intends to attack Iran's nuclear facilities and how the US would react.

But perhaps the most serious cause for the growing skepticism surrounding Obama's policy trajectory lies with his handling of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which his national security adviser, General James Jones, just last week identified as the "epicenter" of US challenges in the region and beyond.

Not only has the administration retreated from its early demand - voiced most bluntly by Clinton last May - that Israel freeze all settlement expansion. But it also praised - through Clinton herself during a visit to Israel this week - as "unprecedented" Netanyahu's offer to "restrain" settlement growth for up to a year in order to help launch new peace talks.

At the same time, she publicly scolded Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - who had joined the administration's demand for a total settlement freeze earlier this year - for making it a pre-condition for Palestinian participation in the talks, thus further undermining his position less than a month after initially bowing to US pressure to shelve the Goldstone Report that documented war crimes allegedly committed by Israel during its Gaza campaign.

Calling her remarks a "slap in the face", Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa said Washington appeared to be moving backwards.

"[W]e are once again the same vicious circle we were in in the 1990s," he said, while other Arab commentators argued that it was difficult at this point to distinguish between Obama's policy and the Annapolis process pursued by Bush in his last year in office.

"There had been growing skepticism in the region, and I suspect this apparent capitulation to Netanyahu and the Likud will turn skepticism into suspicion," Freeman told Inter Press Service.

Jim Lobe's blog on US foreign policy can be read at

(Inter Press Service) 

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2009, 01:28:16 pm »
The warlords' president

by Eric Ruder

SocialistWorker, November 4, 2009

Eric Ruder analyzes the latest developments that handed a re-election victory to Hamid Karzai--in the context of the debate in the U.S. political establishment over how to escalate its war and occupation.

AFGHANISTAN'S ELECTION farce came to an appropriately laughable end in early November when incumbent President Hamid Karzai was declared the winner, after his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from a run-off vote scheduled for November 7.

Karzai tried to steal the first election on August 20 through massive vote fraud, but the theft was so brazen--more than 1 million votes cast for him in the first round were disqualified--that he was pressured by international observers into admitting he hadn't won the necessary majority. The run-off was scheduled for early November, but a week before, Abdullah pulled out.

Karzai initially appeared to oppose cancellation of the run-off in the hopes that a victory, even in an election without an opponent, would help him restore a semblance of legitimacy to his U.S.-backed reign.

But U.S. officials quickly expressed satisfaction with the result, apparently in the hopes of avoiding another round of fraud and the difficulties associated with providing security for voters and election observers in Afghanistan's far-flung provinces. Karzai relented and accepted victory.

In a teary speech, Abdullah described his decision to withdraw as a personal decision based on his concerns about fraud. But the emotional veneer concealed a cold political calculation.

Abdullah had called for the replacement of Karzai's handpicked chair of the Independent Election Commission, Azizullah Ludin, plus other voting reforms that Karzai flatly refused to implement. But Abdullah no doubt figured that withdrawing would be a better way to preserve his chance at a future bid for power than losing.

Thus, Abdullah--who served as minister of foreign affairs after the U.S. established an "interim" Afghan government in December 2001 and continued in that post after Karzai's first election in 2004--didn't call on his supporters to boycott the election, nor did he call for protests.

Abdullah has also said he won't join Karzai's government, but in a political system marked by frequently shifting allegiances among warlords, drug traffickers and various ethnic and religious leaders, enemies are rarely irreconcilable forever.

Case in point: The various warlords that make up the Northern Alliance served as a parliamentary opposition to Karzai until they made their peace with him--and helped him turn out votes, both real and fake--on August 20.

Perhaps Abdullah will try to fill the opposition vacuum they left behind. Or he may have cut some other deal with Karzai or the U.S., despite his insistence that he accepted nothing in return for his decision not to contest the election.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NEWS OF the latest twist in the presidential election came as the U.S. war in Afghanistan intensified, with October bringing the highest monthly death toll yet for U.S. soldiers--the result of roadside bombs and two helicopter crashes that claimed the lives of 22 U.S. personnel in the closing days of the month.

The increased fighting between U.S. and NATO forces and insurgent rebels has not only produced a spike in the number of troops killed in action, but led to a sharp increase in the number of injured troops. "More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001," according to the Washington Post.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are now the weapon of choice for Taliban fighters, and some are so powerful that they can destroy the state-of-the-art mine-resistant vehicles that the Pentagon had deployed to protect troops. "Walter Reed [Army Medical Center's] Ward 57 provides wrenching proof of the devastating effectiveness of the bombs, with patients suffering amputations, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries and fractures," the Post reported.

With President Barack Obama weighing a request from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top Pentagon officer in charge of Afghanistan, for an additional 40,000 to 80,000 U.S. troops in addition to the 68,000 already in Afghanistan, the number of casualties will inevitably rise further.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-NATO war is continuing to inflict a devastating toll on Afghans that is only rarely the subject of mainstream media attention.

David Kilcullen, a former Australian army officer and now a consultant to the U.S. and other NATO countries on counter-insurgency tactics pointed out that in recent air attacks, the U.S. has killed 98 civilians for every two "insurgents" killed. As antiwar author Richard Seymour wrote on his blog:

If that ratio holds for the air war as a rule, then consider that the U.S. is currently boasting of having killed up to 25,000 insurgents. Twenty-five thousand is 2 percent of 1.25 million. Lacking a Lancet-style cluster survey, one can only make an educated guess as to whether such a figure is approximately realistic.

There was one cluster survey carried out for the first nine months of the invasion and occupation, which estimated that 10,000 civilians had been killed, the majority from air attacks. A similar survey today would be reporting the effects of a far more intense aerial campaign, in a war lasting for eight years now. Who can say that the soaring use of cluster bombs, daisy cutters, "smart" missiles aimed at wedding parties, drone-based ordnance, and the usual deposits of unexploded ordnance will have harvested a negligible number of bodies?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE GROWING casualties from its war--along with the tarnished credibility of the Karzai government--has put the U.S. government in a difficult position.

It pinned its hopes for a stable, U.S.-friendly Afghanistan on Karzai's ability to construct a viable central government that can command an army. But Karzai's reliance on the country's hated warlords to cement his rule makes a legitimate central government a long shot at best.

And if the situation weren't already bad enough, the New York Times revealed in late October that Karzai's brother--Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is known for profiting immensely from the opium trade and running a large area of southern Afghanistan around Kandahar with an iron fist--has been on the CIA payroll for most of the last eight years.

Not only does Karzai's brother provide intelligence to the U.S., but he is helping the CIA run the Kandahar Strike Force, a paramilitary force. He also rents a large compound outside Kandahar--the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban's founder--to U.S. Special Forces. "He's our landlord," a senior American official said.

Karzai's CIA ties help him avoid the raids and arrests that other Afghan drug lords face, and his control over the lucrative drug trade has almost certainly increased as a result.

The revelations come at a horrible time for U.S. forces hoping to portray themselves as the protectors of civilians in Afghanistan. "If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves," said Major Gen. Michael Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration insists the U.S. is fighting a "war of necessity" in Afghanistan. It has all kinds of rationales--keeping Americans safe, protecting Afghan civilians, liberating Afghan women, crushing the Taliban insurgency, keeping al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base of operations.

But the collaboration between U.S. military and intelligence forces and the warlords, drug dealers and paramilitaries expose these justifications as a pretext for the real reason the U.S. won't bring its troops home from a country that has rejected their presence.

The U.S. wanted war in Afghanistan because it saw the September 11 attacks as an opportunity to pursue its imperial ambitions in Central Asia. Washington's aim was never, first and foremost, to defeat the Taliban. In fact, the U.S. viewed the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan prior to September 11--with its focus on law and order and eradicating the drug trade--as a boon to regional stability.

If the U.S. had really wanted to capture al-Qaeda operatives responsible for September 11, why did U.S. officials reject, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Mullah Omar's overtures to hand over Osama bin Laden in exchange for the U.S. calling off its invasion?

The answer: The prospect of establishing a military occupation in a region rich with oil and natural gas ranked higher for those who call the shots in U.S. foreign policy than capturing al-Qaeda leaders.

Now that the U.S. has spent trillions of dollars in futile efforts to occupy both Iraq and Afghanistan, these decisions appear foolish. But in the early 2000s, the neoconservative vision of remaking the Middle East according to U.S. wishes commanded overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. And today, the Obama administration continues to work from the Bush playbook on Afghanistan.

It's time to end the tragic waste of lives and money in Afghanistan and bring the troops home now.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2009, 08:16:47 am »
Why Most Counterinsurgency Wars Fail

Posted By Ivan Eland On November 10, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

In recent history, very few counterinsurgency wars have ended in success. Guerrillas are often outgunned by a wealthier invading power, but they do have two powerful advantages. One is that they are fighting on their home turf, which they usually know much better than the invader. Guerrilla warfare at the strategic level is defensive, even though at the tactical level, raiding insurgents are many times on the offense. As a result of being on the strategic defense, the second advantage is that the attacking power will find it difficult to overcome the "foreign invader" label among the population of the invaded country. Thus, because winning the support of the local population is the most important – and difficult – objective in any counterinsurgency war, most such campaigns end in failure.

But there have been a few notable exceptions. At the turn of the 20th century, the United States refused independence to the Philippines after the Spanish-American War and then outfought Filipino guerrillas to make U.S. colonial rule stick; a U.S.-supported Greek government beat back communist insurgents in the late 1940s; and the British beat back Marxist guerrillas in Malaya in the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Although it might be tempting to assume that the only way to beat guerrillas is to use ruthlessly brutal tactics, this predominated in only the first of the three episodes. The United States used concentration camps, torture, and a scorched-earth policy in taming Filipino guerrillas. But even here, such drastic and unacceptable methods may not have been what tipped the outcome to a counterinsurgency success.

The common thread in these three success stories seems to be that either the guerrilla movement was divided or did not win the overwhelming support of the local populace. In the case of the Filipino insurgency, Emilio Aguinaldo, the guerrilla leader, never really had the support of most of the Filipino population. Similarly, in Malaya, the rebellion occurred only in a minority of the minority Chinese population, thus allowing the British to eventually stamp it out. In Greece in the late 1940s, the opposition movement was divided, allowing the U.S.-backed Greek government to prevail.

How do these conclusions apply to current counterinsurgency wars? In both the rugged terrain of Afghanistan and the urban landscape of Iraq, guerrilla groups have taken advantage of familiar environments to effectively harass the U.S. superpower. In addition, the United States, in some sense, has been more restrained than the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents toward the local populations. The Taliban is known for its harsh methods of justice and killing, and some of the Iraqi guerrillas have slaughtered civilians with suicide bombs. In contrast, in both nations, the United States has built infrastructure projects and handed out candy to children. Yet the United States has failed to win the hearts and minds of either population, because of excessive collateral killings from air and ground attacks. At the end of the day, even a foreign invader who tries to be more sharing and caring is still regarded as a foreign invader.

In Somalia, the militant Islamist Shaabab movement had little public support until the United States, as part of its global "war on terror," began funding unpopular and corrupt Somali warlords to promote "stability" – turning the local population toward the movement and away from the perceived meddling superpower and its Somali government lackey. Then, making things worse, a U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion provided only some temporary stability as long as Ethiopian troops were willing to occupy the country. The cross-border invasion by Ethiopia – long regarded by Somalis as their archenemy – to quash the militant Islamists only enhanced the radicals’ standing in Somalia once Ethiopian forces withdrew. In short, history shows that the presence or influence of foreigners only feeds the flames of any insurgency, which can then be portrayed as a defense of the nation against outside aggression.

But isn’t there hope for Iraq and Afghanistan because opposition forces are divided and often unpopular? Not really. In Iraq, the United States was able to take advantage of al-Qaeda-in-Iraq’s brutal killing of civilians to divide the Sunni guerrilla movement and bribe the Awakening Councils to battle the group. The problem in Iraq is that as U.S. forces draw down, the now reduced guerrilla war could turn into a civil war among the Sunni, Shi’ite, and Kurdish ethno-sectarian groups. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is unquestionably brutal, but Afghans do regard the United States as a foreign occupier, are suspicious of the U.S. long-term military presence, do not support a surge in U.S. forces, do not think it will defeat the Taliban, and thus support negotiating with the insurgents. In short, the prognosis is not good in either case.

Read more by Ivan Eland
•Knocking Our Heads Against a Wall in Palestine – November 3rd, 2009
•Obama Still Doesn’t Grasp Blowback – October 27th, 2009
•Is Adulation of the Military Really Patriotic? – October 20th, 2009
•Five Facts About Afghanistan – October 13th, 2009
•Fire McChrystal and Get Out of Afghanistan – October 6th, 2009


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #36 on: November 11, 2009, 01:30:30 pm »
What is Israel's Role in the Destabilization of Pakistan?

by Jeff Gates

November 11, 2009

When waging war "by way of deception," the motto of the Israeli Mossad, well-timed crises play a critical agenda-setting role by displacing facts with what a target population can be deceived to believe. Thus the force-multiplier effect when staged crises are reinforced with pre-staged intelligence. In combination, the two often prove persuasive.

That duplicity was on display when U.S. lawmakers were induced to invade Iraq in response to the mass murder of 9-11. That crisis alone, however, was insufficient. Military mobilization required a "consensus" belief in Iraqi WMD, Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, Iraqi mobile biological weapons, Iraqi meetings in Prague, and so forth. Though all were false, those "facts" proved sufficient to induce an invasion of Iraq.

Such agent provocateur operations typically include collateral incidents as pre-staging for the intended main event. Ongoing incidents suggest a follow-on operation is underway. Recent history suggests we'll see an orgy of evidence that plausibly indicts a pre-staged Evil Doer. Though Iran is an obvious candidate, Pakistan is also a possibility where outside forces have been destabilizing this nuclear Islamic nation with a series of violent incidents.

Will it be coincidence if the next war-like the last-is consistent with the expansive goals of Jewish nationalists?

The Indo-Israel Alliance

December 2007 saw the murder of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Mark Siegel, her Ashkenazim biographer and lobbyist, assured U.S. diplomats that her return was "the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact."

President Pervez Musharraf had announced that resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict was essential to the resolution of conflicts in Iraq and neighboring Afghanistan. That comment made him a target for Tel Aviv.

During Bhutto's two terms as prime minister, Pakistani support for the Taliban-then celebrated as the freedom-fighting Mujahadin-enabled her to wield influence in Afghanistan while also catalyzing conflicts in Kashmir. By fueling tension with India, she also fueled an Indo-Israel alliance as Tel Aviv provided New Delhi an emergency shipment of artillery shells during a conflict over the Kirpal region of Kashmir.

In January 2009, Israel delivered to India the first of three Phalcon Airborne Warning & Control Systems (AWACS) shifting the balance of conventional weapons in the region. That sale confirmed what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier announced: "Our ties with India don't have any limitation...." That became apparent in April when Israel signed a $1.1 billion agreement to provide India an advanced tactical air defense system developed by Raytheon, a U.S. defense contractor.

In August 2008, Ashkenazim General David Kezerashvili returned to Georgia from Tel Aviv to lead an assault on separatists in South Ossetia with the support of Israeli arms and training. That crisis ignited Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia, key members of the Quartet (along with the EU and the UN) pledged to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Little was said about the Israeli interest in a pipeline across Georgia meant to move Caspian oil through Turkey and on to Eurasia, using Israel as an intermediary while undermining Russia's oil industry.

More Game Theory Warfare?

Bhutto's murder ensured a crisis that replaced Musharaff with Asif Ali Zardari, her notoriously corrupt husband. By Washington's alliance with Zardari, the U.S. could be portrayed as extending its corrupting influence in the region.

On August 7, 2008, the Zadari-led ruling coalition called for a no-confidence vote in Parliament against Musharraf just as he was departing for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. On August 8, heavy fighting erupted overnight in South Ossetia. As with many of the recent incidents in Pakistan, this violent event involved armed separatists.

But for pro-Israeli influence inside the U.S. government, would our State Department have installed in office the corrupt Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, leading to record-level poppy production? Is the heroin epidemic presently eroding Russian society traceable to Israel's infamous game theory war-planners? [See "How Israel Wages Game Theory Warfare" and "Israel and 9-11".]

In late November 2008, a terrorist attack in Mumbai, India's financial center, renewed fears of nuclear tension between India and Pakistan. When the attackers struck a hostel managed by Chabad Lubavitch, an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect from New York, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced from Tel Aviv: "Our world is under attack." By early December, Israeli journalists urged that we "fortify the security of Jewish institutions worldwide."

Soon after "India's 9-11" was found to include operatives from Pakistan's western tribal region, Zardari announced an agreement with the Taliban to allow Sharia law to govern a swath of the North West Frontier Province where Al Qaeda members reportedly reside.

Pakistani cooperation with "Islamic extremists" created the impression of enhanced insecurity and vulnerability for the U.S. and its allies. That perceived threat was marketed by mainstream media as proof of the perils of "militant Islam."

With the Taliban and Al Qaeda portrayed as operating freely in a nuclear-armed Islamic state, Tel Aviv gained traction for its claim that a nuclear Tehran posed an "existential threat" to the Jewish state. Meanwhile Israel's election of an ultra-nationalist/ultra-orthodox coalition further delayed resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

More delay is destined to evoke more extremism and gain more traction for those marketing the "global war on terrorism." Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni argued after the assault in Mumbai: "Israel, India and the rest of the free world are positioned in the forefront of the battle against terrorists and extremism."

In announcing that list, Islamabad was indicted by its exclusion even though Pakistan is dominantly Sunni and, unlike Iran's Shi'a, abhors theocratic rule. The fact patterns suggest that Pakistan, not India, was the target of the murderous terrorism in Mumbai.

Advised by legions of Ashkenazim, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent mission to Islamabad was a diplomatic disaster. Abrasive and arrogant, America's top diplomat reinforced Pakistani concerns that it is surrounded by hostile forces and that the nation is being set up to fail by Jewish nationalist advisers to a nation it considered an ally.

In a climate of heightened tensions, Clinton undermined U.S. interests, boosted the Israeli case for a global war on "Islamo-fascism" and lent credence to the Clash of Civilizations.

Destabilization as a Prequel to Domination

As Afghanistan and Pakistan join other nations being destabilized by outside forces, key questions must be answered:

* Was India's 9-11 a form of geopolitical misdirection meant to serve both the tactical goals of Muslim extremists and the strategic goals of Jewish nationalists? Who benefits-within Pakistan-from humiliation at the hands of India and the U.S.?

* With Bhutto's murder and Musharraf's departure, the crisis in Mumbai drew Pakistani forces to the Indian border and away from the western tribal region. Was that the geostrategic goal of these well-timed crises? What role, if any, did Israel play?

* Is delay in ending the occupation of Palestine part of an agent provocateur strategy? Was the latest assault on Gaza part of this strategy?

Each of these crises incrementally advanced the expansionist agenda of Colonial Zionists. Do these collateral incidents trace their origin to a common source? Is that source again using serial events to pre-stage a main event?

The public has an intuitive grasp of the source of this oft-recurring behavior. An October 2003 poll of 7,500 respondents in member nations of the European Union found that Israel was considered the greatest threat to world peace.

Is terrorism limited to "Islamo-fascists"? Are mass murders also deployed-from the shadows-as a strategy of geopolitical manipulation by those who Ashkenazim philosopher Hannah Arendt described as "Jewish fascists"?

* Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide; an adviser to policy-makers worldwide; former counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee; and author of numerous articles and books including his latest book Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. See


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #37 on: November 13, 2009, 03:46:28 am »
Published on Thursday, November 12, 2009 by

The War Stampede

by Norman Solomon

Disputes are raging within the Obama administration over how to continue the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. A new leak tells us that Washington's ambassador in Kabul, former four-star general Karl Eikenberry, has cautioned against adding more troops while President Hamid Karzai keeps disappointing American policymakers. This is the extent of the current debate within the warfare state.

During a top-level meeting Wednesday afternoon in the White House, the Washington Post reports, President Obama "was given a series of options laid out by military planners with differing numbers of new U.S. deployments, ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 troops. None of the scenarios calls for scaling back the U.S. presence in Afghanistan or delaying the dispatch of additional troops."

No doubt there are real tactical differences between Eikenberry and the U.S./NATO commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, the ultra-spun brainy spartan who wants to boost the current U.S. troop level of 68,000 to well over 100,000 in the war-afflicted country. But those policy disputes exist well within the context of a permanent war psychology.

What's desperately needed is a clear breakaway from that psychology, which routinely offers "kinder, gentler" forms of endless and horrific war. But predictably, in the days and weeks ahead, some progressives -- from the grassroots to Capitol Hill -- will gravitate toward Eikenberry's stance.

Fine-tuning the U.S. war in Afghanistan is no substitute for acknowledging -- with words and with policy -- that there will be no military solution. Adjusting the dose and mix of military intervention is a prescription to do more harm on a massive scale.

A recent spate of media stories has focused on soldiers, veterans and family members struggling with PTSD and other heartbreaking consequences of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the key messages is that the government must do a better job of caring for battle-scarred veterans.

To the great extent that such stories don't question continuation of the warfare, they're part of the stampede. As long as the only options put forward have to do with finding better ways to cope with ongoing war, the men and women in the military are framed as people who are most admirable as participants in their own suffering (and, implicitly, as people who are willing to inflict suffering on others).

The suffering of Afghan people, meanwhile, gets short shrift in the USA's media and political discourse. While we hear -- though not enough -- about traumas that continue to plague Americans many months or years after being in war zones, we hear almost nothing about the traumas that the U.S. military visits upon people living in the occupied country.

After 30 years of war, Afghans do not need more ingenious war efforts by the latest batch of best and brightest in Washington.

Thundering along Pennsylvania Avenue, the stampede for war is hard to resist. It's a stampede that few members of Congress have been willing to directly challenge. So, the "serious" policy arguments, from the White House to Capitol Hill, have remained bullish on war -- and eager to find better ways to wage it.

The November 12 edition of the Post reported that Ambassador Eikenberry "has expressed frustration with the relative paucity of funds set aside for spending on development and reconstruction this year in Afghanistan, a country wrecked by three decades of war." The newspaper added: "Earlier this summer, he asked for $2.5 billion in nonmilitary spending for 2010, a 60 percent increase over what Obama had requested from Congress, but the request has languished even as the administration has debated spending billions of dollars on new troops."

The Obama administration is spending upwards of 90 percent of all U.S. funds in Afghanistan on military operations -- and what Eikenberry is seeking would add up to mere drops in the bucket compared to what Afghanistan really needs for "development and reconstruction." Nor is the U.S. government in any moral or logistical position to effectively supply such aid.

Right now, the paltry aid from Washington is largely disbursed in Afghanistan as an adjunct to the Pentagon's military operations -- and it is widely recognized as such. That's why the resulting projects are so often blown up or burned down by insurgents.

In war-ravaged Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, effective aid is possible. While woefully underfunded, the National Solidarity Program and the Aga Khan Foundation are prime examples of successes -- if the goals are genuine humanitarian aid and development rather than providing "hearts and minds" photo-ops and leverage for the occupiers' military campaigns.

The current dispute over how to continue the war in Afghanistan should not be mistaken for an argument over basic assumptions. And what's wrong with U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is fundamental.

Norman Solomon is a journalist, historian, and progressive activist. His book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death [1]" has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent book is "Made Love, Got War. [2]" He is a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare [3] campaign. In California, he is co-chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay; [4].


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #38 on: November 13, 2009, 05:30:58 am »
Afghan Taliban Stays Out of Pakistan Conflict

by Aamir Latif

IOL, November 12, 2009

ISLAMABAD -- The resurgent and emboldened Taliban group in Afghanistan have refused to lend support to local Taliban fighters engaged in fierce fighting with security forces in neighboring Pakistan.

"We are fighting the occupation forces in Afghanistan. We do not have any policy whatsoever to interfere in the matters of any other country," Qari Yousaf Ahmedi, the Taliban spokesman for northeastern Afghanistan, told via satellite phone from an unknown location in Afghanistan.

"We have nothing to do with the war between Pakistan Taliban and security forces. Our only and sole goal is to oust the occupation forces from our land."

The army has unleashed a massive military operation against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella of various local Taliban groups operating in Pakistan’s northern tribal belt.

They two are locked in fierce clashes in different parts of troubled South Waziristan, the heartland of the TTP, with each side claiming inflicting huge losses on the other.

The army says it has captured various TTP strongholds in Waziristan, whereas the militants claim to have retreated only as part of a guerrilla war tactic.

Ahmedi denied Taliban sent fighters into Pakistan to help the local militants in their war against the security forces.

"This is untrue. We have never sent our fighters to fight alongside Pakistani Taliban," he told IOL.

Foreign media reported last month that some 1000-1500 Taliban fighters had crossed from the northeastern Paktia province into South Waziristan and joined hands with Pakistani Taliban in war against the Pakistan army.

"It’s their own business," said Ahmedi, asserting that their battle is against the foreign troops in Afghanistan.

"US and other foreign forces have attacked our land and our war is only against them. What is happening in Pakistan is none of our business."

New tactic

The Taliban Afghanistan spokesman denied media reports that his group has disavowed Pakistan Taliban.

"We have not taken any definitive decision in this regard," Yousaf said.

Mullah Toor, who described himself as an Afghanistan Taliban commander, reportedly told a foreign TV station that they have disowned Pakistan Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

"First of all, no commander named Mullah Toor is operating in Afghanistan alongside Taliban," Yousaf explained.

"Secondly, no policy statement can be issued by any Taliban commander except Mullah Akhund (deputy Taliban Chief)."

Security experts believe it would be hard for Afghan Taliban to completely embrace or disown Pakistani Taliban.

"If they own Pakistani Taliban, then they will lose the soft corner Pakistanis have for their struggle," explains Abdul Hai Kakar, a Peshawar-based security analyst.

"And if they disown it, then they will have to bear an internal rift, which could be disastrous for their war against foreign troops."

Kakar believes Afghan Taliban do not interfere in Pakistan affairs and have never sent fighters into the country.

"Afghan Taliban do not have good relations with Mehsud Taliban. In fact, they are much closer to Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur."

Mullah Nazir is the commander of pro-government Taliban based in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan, while Bahadur is the commander of North Waziristan-based Taliban.

Both have decided to remain neutral in the army's war against TTP militants led by Hakimullah Mehsud.

"Even if the army launches an operation against Mullah Nazir and Bahadur, Afghan Taliban will not support them militarily too," contends Kakar.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #39 on: November 13, 2009, 06:56:22 am »
How the US army protects its trucks – by paying the Taliban

Insurance, security or extortion? The US is spending millions of dollars in Afghanistan to ensure its supply convoys get through – and it's the Taliban who profit

By Aram Roston
The Guardian, Friday 13 November 2009

Afghan soldiers at the scene of a Taliban attack on a US supply truck. Photograph: Ahmad Masood/REUTERS

On 29 October 2001, while the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime's ambassador in Islamabad in neighbouring Pakistan gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat's right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul.

But Popal was more than just a former mujahideen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1998.

Flash forward to 2009, and Afghanistan is ruled by Popal's cousin, President Hamid Karzai. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn in a separate case.

The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals' private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan [its senior personnel are ex-British army, many of them from Special Services]. One of Watan's enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies.

Welcome to the wartime contracting bazaar in Afghanistan. It is a virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA ­ officials and ex–military officers joining hands with former Taliban and mujahideen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.

In this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban.

"It's a big part of their income," one of the top Afghan government security officials admits. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10% of the Pentagon's logistics contracts – hundreds of millions of dollars – consists of payments to insurgents.

Understanding how this situation came to pass requires untangling two threads. The first is the complex web of connections that determines who wins and who loses in Afghan business, and a good place to pick up this thread is a small firm awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars: NCL Holdings.

Like the Popals' Watan Risk, NCL is a licensed security company in Afghanistan. What NCL Holdings is most notable for in Kabul contracting circles, though, is the identity of its chief principal, Hamed Wardak. He is the young American son of Afghan's current defence minister, General Rahim Wardak, who was a leader of the mujahideen against the Soviets.

Earlier this year, the firm, with no apparent trucking experience, was named as one of the six companies that would handle all the US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to the web of bases and remote outposts scattered across the country.

Striking contracting gold

At first the contract, for "host nation trucking", was large but not gargantuan. But over the summer, citing the coming "surge" and a new doctrine, "Money as a weapons system", the US military expanded the contract 600% for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: "Service members will not get the food, water, equipment and ammunition they require."

Each of the military's six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360m, or a total of nearly $2.2bn. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10% of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defence minister's well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.

Host nation trucking does, indeed, keep the US military efforts alive in Afghanistan. "We supply everything the army needs to survive here," one American trucking executive told me. "We bring them their toilet paper, their water, their fuel, their guns, their vehicles."

The epicentre is Bagram air base, just an hour north of Kabul, from where virtually everything in Afghanistan is trucked to the outer reaches of what the army calls "the battlespace" – that is, the entire country. Parked near Entry Control Point 3, the trucks line up, shifting gears and sending up clouds of dust as they prepare for their various missions across the country.

The real secret to trucking in Afghanistan is security on the perilous roads, controlled by warlords, tribal militias, insurgents and Taliban commanders. The American executive I talked to was fairly specific about it: "The army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money."

That is something everyone seems to agree on. Mike Hanna is the project manager for a trucking company called Afghan American Army Services. The company, which still operates in Afghanistan, had been trucking for the United States for years but lost out in the host nation trucking contract that NCL won. Hanna explained the security realities quite simply: "You are paying the people in the local areas – some are warlords, some are politicians in the police force – to move your trucks through."

Hanna explained that the prices charged are different depending on the route. "We're basically being extorted. Where you don't pay, you're going to get attacked. We just have our field guys go down there, and they pay off who they need to."

Sometimes, he says, the fee is high, and sometimes it is low. "Moving 10 trucks, it is probably $800 per truck to move through an area. It's based on a number of trucks and what you're carrying. If you have fuel trucks, they are going to charge you more. If you have dry trucks, they're not going to charge you as much. If you are carrying Mraps [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] or Humvees, they are going to charge you more."

Hanna says it is just a necessary evil. "If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially."

The private security industry in Afghanistan has developed quite differently from the private military model seen in Iraq, where firms such as Blackwater were arms of the US government. The industry in Kabul is far more dog-eat-dog. "Every warlord has his security company," is the way one executive explained it to me.

The heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The security firms don't really protect convoys of US military goods here because they simply can't; they need the Taliban's co-operation.

One of the big problems for the companies that ship US military supplies across the country is that they are banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle. That makes them ineffective for battling Taliban attacks on a convoy. Insurgents are "shooting the drivers from 3,000ft away" with Kalashnikovs, a trucking company executive in Kabul told me. "They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] that will blow up an up-armed vehicle. So the security companies are tied up. Because of the rules, security companies can only carry AK-47s, and that's just a joke. I carry an AK – and that's just to shoot myself if I have to!"

The rules are there for a good reason: to guard against devastating collateral damage by private security forces. Still, as Hanna points out, "An AK-47 versus a rocket-propelled grenade – you are going to lose."

That said, at least one of the host nation trucking companies has tried to do battle instead of paying off insurgents and warlords. It is a US-owned firm called Four Horsemen International (FHI). Instead of payments, it tried to fight off attackers. FHI, like many other firms, refused to talk publicly; but insiders in the security industry say that FHI's convoys are attacked on virtually every mission.

Watan's secret weapon

For the most part, the security firms do as they must to survive. A veteran American manager in Afghanistan who has worked there as both a soldier and a private security contractor in the field told me, "What we are doing is paying warlords associated with the Taliban, because none of our security elements is able to deal with the threat."

He is an army veteran with years of Special Forces experience, and he is not happy about what is being done. He says that, at a minimum, American military forces should try to learn more about who is getting paid off. "Most escorting is done by the Taliban," an Afghan private security official told me. He is a Pashto and former mujahideen commander who has his finger on the pulse of the military situation and the security industry. And he works with one of the trucking companies carrying US supplies. "Now the government is so weak," he added, "everyone is paying the Taliban."

To Afghan trucking officials, this is barely even something to worry about. One woman I met was an extraordinary entrepreneur who had built up a trucking business in this male-dominated field. She told me the security company she had hired dealt directly with Taliban leaders in the south. Paying the Taliban leaders meant they would send along an escort to ensure that no other insurgents would attack. In fact, she said, they just needed two armed Taliban vehicles. "Two Taliban is enough," she told me. "One in the front and one in the back." She shrugged. "You cannot work otherwise. Otherwise it is not possible."

Which leads us back to the case of Watan Risk, the firm run by the Popals, the Karzai family relatives and former drug dealers. Watan is known to control one key stretch of road that all the truckers use: the strategic route to Kandahar called Highway 1. Think of it as the road to the war – to the south and to the west. If the army wants to get supplies down to Helmand, for example, the trucks must make their way through Kandahar.

Watan Risk, according to seven different security and trucking company officials, is the sole provider of security along this route. The reason is simple: Watan has a deal with the local warlord who controls the road.

Watan's secret weapon to protect American supplies heading through Kandahar is a man named Commander Ruhullah. Said to be a handsome man in his 40s, Ruhullah has an oddly high-pitched voice. He wears traditional salwar kameez and a Rolex watch. He rarely, if ever, associates with westerners. He commands a large group of irregular fighters with no known government affiliation, and his name, security officials tell me, inspires obedience or fear in villages along the road.

According to witnesses, Ruhullah works like this: he waits until there are hundreds of trucks ready to convoy south down the highway. Then he gets his men together, setting them up in 4x4s and pickups. Witnesses say he does not limit his arsenal to AK-47s but uses any weapons he can get. His chief weapon is his reputation. And for that, Ruhullah is paid royally, collecting a fee for each truck that passes through his corridor. The American trucking official told me that Ruhullah "charges $1,500 per truck to go to Kandahar. Just 300km."

Security, extortion or insurance?

It is hard to pinpoint what this is, exactly – security, extortion or a form of "insurance". Then there is the question, does Ruhullah have ties to the Taliban? That is impossible to know. As an American private security veteran familiar with the route says, "He works both sides . . . whatever is most profitable. He's the main commander. He's got to be involved with the Taliban. How much, no one knows."

Even NCL, the company owned by Hamed Wardak, is reputed to pay. Two sources with direct knowledge tell me that NCL sends its portion of US logistics goods in Watan and Commander Ruhullah's convoys. Sources say NCL is billed $500,000 a month for Watan's services. To underline the point, NCL, operating on a $360m contract from the US military, and owned by the Afghan defense minister's son, is apparently paying millions a year from those funds to a company owned by President Karzai's cousins, for protection.

Cleaning up what looks like cronyism may be easier than the next step: shutting down the money pipeline from Department of Defense contracts to potential insurgents. Two years ago, a top Afghan security official told me, Afghanistan's intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), alerted the American military to the problem. The NDS is a well-run service, trusted by the international forces. The NDS delivered what I'm told are "very detailed" reports to the Americans explaining how the Taliban are profiting from protecting convoys of US supplies. The Afghan intelligence service even offered a solution: what if the US was to take the tens of millions paid to security contractors and instead set up a dedicated and professional convoy support unit to guard its logistics lines? The suggestion went nowhere.

The bizarre fact is that the practice of buying the Taliban's protection is not a secret. I asked Colonel David Haight, who commands the Third Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, about it. After all, part of Highway 1 runs through his area of operations. What did he think about security companies paying off insurgents?

"The American soldier in me is repulsed by it," he said in an interview in his office at forward operating base Shank in Logar province. "But I know that it is what it is: essentially paying the enemy, saying, 'Hey, don't hassle me.' I don't like it, but it is what it is."

As a military official in Kabul explained contracting in Afghanistan overall, "We understand that across the board, 10-20% goes to the insurgents. My intel [intelligence] guy would say it is closer to 10%. Generally, it is happening in logistics."

In a statement about host nation trucking, the US army's chief public affairs officer in Afghanistan, Colonel Wayne Shanks, says international forces are "aware of allegations that procurement funds may find their way into the hands of insurgent groups, but we do not directly support or condone this activity, if it is occurring". He adds that, in spite of oversight, "the relationships between contractors and their subcontractors, as well as between subcontractors and others in their operational communities, are not entirely transparent".

In any case, the main issue is not that the US military is turning a blind eye to the problem. Many officials acknowledge what is going on while also expressing a deep disquiet about the situation. The trouble is that – as with so much in Afghanistan – the United States doesn't seem to know how to fix it.

This is an edited version of an article that appears in the current edition of the Nation magazine