Afghanistan


Very interesting report by Channel 4 News on Nato creating “private army” militias in Afghanistan.

“This place is run by people in the drugs trade, armed with weapons and backed by foreign countries,” says one Afghan woman.

See “exclusive pictures of America’s newest allies” here: Nato turns to militias in Afghanistan battle

What an irresistible headline!

Source: A Bush in sheep’s clothing (www.voltairenet.org)
4 June 2009

A reaction by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, to Barak Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo addressing the Muslim world: “Obama’s speech shows little real change. In most regards his analysis maintains flawed American policies.”

Once you strip away the mujamalat – the courtesies exchanged between guest and host – the substance of President Obama’s speech in Cairo indicates there is likely to be little real change in US policy. It is not necessary to divine Obama’s intentions – he may be utterly sincere and I believe he is. It is his analysis and prescriptions that in most regards maintain flawed American policies intact.

Though he pledged to “speak the truth as best I can”, there was much the president left out. He spoke of tension between “America and Islam” – the former a concrete specific place, the latter a vague construct subsuming peoples, practices, histories and countries more varied than similar.

Labelling America’s “other” as a nebulous and all-encompassing “Islam” (even while professing rapprochement and respect) is a way to avoid acknowledging what does in fact unite and mobilise people across many Muslim-majority countries: overwhelming popular opposition to increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions in many of those countries. This opposition – and the resistance it generates – has now become for supporters of those interventions, synonymous with “Islam”.

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“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for
people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
— Noam Chomsky

Here’s an article by Henry Makow, thought-provoking as always.

NATO Spooked by Afghan Laws Upholding Patriarchy

by Henry Makow Ph.D.
April 3, 2009

“women’s rights” has been a fig leaf for imperialism

Apart from drugs, oil and the need for perpetual war, Afghanistan is about bringing the blessings of Western feminism to women there. We are giving them the benefit of promiscuous sex, STD’s, abortion, unemployment, lesbianism, divorce and single motherhood.

However this bonanza is threatened by Hamid Karzai’s new laws which enshrine the Patriarchy. Accordingly, a woman cannot refuse sex for more than four days. Headlines in the West (where sex is mostly confined to random short-term encounters) are screaming “legalized rape!”

The laws also stipulate that women cannot seek work, education or even leave the house without their husband’s permission. The law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers.

Since the Afghan war is little understood, “women’s rights” has been a fig leaf for imperialism. So, Westerners are expressing consternation that Hamid Karzai is actually “worse than the Taliban.”

The gnashing of teeth is particularly acute in Canada which has invested $3 billion and more than 120 lives in the Afghan “mission.” (Another $750,000 is being spent in Canada to brainwash the locals i.e. “projects designed to engage young Muslims and non-Muslims in discussions about discrimination, violence and human rights.”)

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Fake Faith And Epic Crimes

By John Pilger

04 April, 2009
The New Statesman

These are extraordinary times. With the United States and Britain on the verge of bankruptcy and committing to an endless colonial war, pressure is building for their crimes to be prosecuted at a tribunal similar to that which tried the Nazis at Nuremberg. This defined rapacious invasion as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” International law would be mere farce, said the chief US chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, “if, in future, we do not apply its principles to ourselves.”

That is now happening. Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and Britain have long had “universal jurisdiction” statutes, which allow their national courts to pursue and prosecute prima facie war criminals. What has changed is an unspoken rule never to use international law against “ourselves,” or “our” allies or clients. In 1998, Spain, supported by France, Switzerland and Belgium, indicted the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, client and executioner of the West, and sought his extradition from Britain, where he happened to be at the time. Had he been sent for trial he almost certainly would have implicated at least one British prime minister and two US presidents in crimes against humanity. Home Secretary Jack Straw let him escape back to Chile.

The Pinochet case was the ignition. On 19 January last, the George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley compared the status of George W. Bush with that of Pinochet. “Outside [the United States] there is not the ambiguity about what to do about a war crime,” he said. “So if you try to travel, most people abroad are going to view you not as ‘former President George Bush’ [but] as a current war criminal.” For this reason, Bush’s former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who demanded an invasion of Iraq in 2001 and personally approved torture techniques in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, no longer travels. Rumsfeld has twice been indicted for war crimes in Germany. On 26 January, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, said, “We have clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but nevertheless he ordered torture.”

The Spanish high court is currently investigating a former Israeli defence minister and six other top Israeli officials for their role in the killing of civilians, mostly children, in Gaza. Henry Kissinger, who was largely responsible for bombing to death 600,000 peasants in Cambodia in 1969-73, is wanted for questioning in France, Chile and Argentina. Yet, on 8 February, as if demonstrating the continuity of American power, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, said, “I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger.”

Like them, Tony Blair may soon be a fugitive. The International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, has received a record number of petitions related to Blair’s wars. Spain’s celebrated Judge Baltasar Garzon, who indicted Pinochet and the leaders of the Argentinian military junta, has called for George W. Bush, Blair and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar to be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq — “one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history: a devastating attack on the rule of law” that had left the UN “in tatters.” He said, “There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation to start without delay.”

This is not to say Blair is about to be collared and marched to The Hague, where Serbs and Sudanese dictators are far more likely to face a political court set up by the West. However, an international agenda is forming and a process has begun which is as much about legitimacy as the letter of the law, and a reminder from history that the powerful lose wars and empires when legitimacy evaporates. This can happen quickly, as in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of apartheid South Africa — the latter a spectre for apartheid Israel.

Today, the unreported “good news” is that a worldwide movement is challenging the once sacrosanct notion that imperial politicians can destroy countless lives in the cause of an ancient piracy, often at remove in distance and culture, and retain their respectability and immunity from justice. In his masterly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde R.L. Stevenson writes in the character of Jekyll: “Men have before hired bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation sat under shelter … I could thus plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and, in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty. But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete.”

Blair, too, is safe — but for how long? He and his collaborators face a new determination on the part of tenacious non-government bodies that are amassing “an impressive documentary record as to criminal charges,” according to international law authority Richard Falk, who cites the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul in 2005, which heard evidence from 54 witnesses and published rigorous indictments against Blair, Bush and others. Currently, the Brussels War Crimes Tribunal and the newly established Blair War Crimes Foundation are building a case for Blair’s prosecution under the Nuremberg Principle and the 1949 Geneva Convention. In a separate indictment, former Judge of the New Zealand Supreme Court E.W. Thomas wrote: “My pre-disposition was to believe that Mr. Blair was deluded, but sincere in his belief. After considerable reading and much reflection, however, my final conclusion is that Mr. Blair deliberately and repeatedly misled Cabinet, the British Labour Party and the people in a number of respects. It is not possible to hold that he was simply deluded but sincere: a victim of his own self-deception. His deception was deliberate.”

Protected by the fake sinecure of Middle East Envoy for the Quartet (the US, EU, UN and Russia), Blair operates largely from a small fortress in the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, where he is an apologist for the US in the Middle East and Israel, a difficult task following the bloodbath in Gaza. To assist his mortgages, he recently received an Israeli “peace prize” worth a million dollars. He, too, is careful where he travels; and it is instructive to watch how he now uses the media. Having concentrated his post-Downing Street apologetics on a BBC series of obsequious interviews with David Aaronovitch, Blair has all but slipped from view in Britain, where polls have long revealed a remarkable loathing for a former prime minister — a sentiment now shared by those in the liberal media elite whose previous promotion of his “project” and crimes is an embarrassment and preferably forgotten.

On 8 February, Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer’s former leading Blair fan, declared that “this shameful period will not be so smoothly and simply buried.” He demanded, “Did Blair never ask what was going on?” This is an excellent question made relevant with a slight word change: “Did the Andrew Rawnsleys never ask what was going on?” In 2001, Rawnsley alerted his readers to Iraq’s “contribution to international terrorism” and Saddam Hussein’s “frightening appetite to possess weapons of mass destruction.” Both assertions were false and echoed official Anglo-American propaganda. In 2003, when the destruction of Iraq was launched, Rawnsley described it as a “point of principle” for Blair who, he later wrote, was “fated to be right.” He lamented, “Yes, too many people died in the war. Too many people always die in war. War is nasty and brutish, but at least this conflict was mercifully short.” In the subsequent six years at least a million people have been killed. According to the Red Cross, Iraq is now a country of widows and orphans. Yes, war is nasty and brutish, but never for the Blairs and the Rawnsleys.

Far from the carping turncoats at home, Blair has lately found a safe media harbour — in Australia, the original murdochracy. His interviewers exude an unction reminiscent of the promoters of the “mystical” Blair in the Guardian of than a decade ago, though they also bring to mind Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times during the 1930s, who wrote of his infamous groveling to the Nazis: “I spend my nights taking out anything which will hurt their susceptibilities and dropping in little things which are intended to sooth them.”

With his words as a citation, the finalists for the Geoffrey Dawson Prize for Journalism (Antipodes) are announced. On 8 February, in an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Geraldine Doogue described Blair as “a man who brought religion into power and is now bringing power to religion.” She asked him: “What would the perception be that faith would bring towards a greater stability …[sic]?” A bemused and clearly delighted Blair was allowed to waffle about “values.” Doogue said to him that “it was the bifurcation about right and wrong that what I thought the British found really hard” [sic], to which Blair replied that “in relation to Iraq I tried every other option [to invasion] there was.” It was his classic lie, which passed unchallenged.

However, the clear winner of the Geoffrey Dawson Prize is Ginny Dougary of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Times. Dougary recently accompanied Blair on what she described as his “James Bondish-ish Gulfstream” where she was privy to his “bionic energy levels.” She wrote, “I ask him the childlike question: does he want to save the world?” Blair replied, well, more or less, aw shucks, yes. The murderous assault on Gaza, which was under way during the interview, was mentioned in passing. “That is war, I’m afraid,” said Blair, “and war is horrible.” No counter came that Gaza was not a war but a massacre by any measure. As for the Palestinians, noted Dougary, it was Blair’s task to “prepare them for statehood.” The Palestinians will be surprised to hear that. But enough gravitas; her man “has the glow of the newly-in-love: in love with the world and, for the most part, the feeling is reciprocated.” The evidence she offered for this absurdity was that “women from both sides of politics have confessed to me to having the hots for him.”

These are extraordinary times. Blair, a perpetrator of the epic crime of the 21st century, shares a “prayer breakfast” with President Obama, the yes-we-can-man now launching more war. “We pray,” said Blair, “that in acting we do God’s work and follow God’s will.” To decent people, such pronouncements about Blair’s “faith” represent a contortion of morality and intellect that is a profananation on the basic teachings of Christianity. Those who aided and abetted his great crime and now wish the rest of us to forget their part — or, like Alistair Campbell, his “communications director,” offer their bloody notoriety for the vicarious pleasure of some — might read the first indictment proposed by the Blair War Crimes Foundation: “Deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war, causing in the order of one million deaths, 4 million refugees, countless maiming and traumas.”

These are indeed extraordinary times.

An extraordinary documentary, informative and enquiring.

Two Polish film makers travelled in search of why people fight in jihad. This took them to Chechnya, Qatar and Afghanistan. They interviewed the former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev (two weeks before he was assassinated), Amir Khattab in the mountains of Chechnya (also subsequently assassinated), Shamil Basaev, and tribal elders of Waziristan, near the Afghan-Pakistan highland border, whose sons are being kidnapped by the Americans.

Ramzy Baroud of the Palestine Chronicle explains why the US conquest of Afghanistan is doomed to fail. (Insha’Allah).

A New Afghanistan Nightmare

by Ramzy Baroud

Global Research, February 21, 2009

When US envoy to Afghanistan , Richard Holbrooke met with Afghanistan ’s ‘democratically’ installed President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on February 14, he may have just learned of the historic significance of the following day. February 15 commemorates the end of the bloody Russian campaign against Afghanistan (August 1978-February 1989).

But it is unlikely that Holbrooke will absorb the magnitude of that historic lesson. Both he and the new US President Barack Obama are convinced that the missing component for winning the war in Afghanistan is a greater commitment, as in doubling the troops, increasing military spending, and, by way of winning hearts and minds, investing more in developing the country. That combination, the US administration believes, will eventually sway Afghans from supporting the Taliban, tribal militias, Pashtun nationalists and other groups. The latter is waging a guerilla struggle in various parts of the country, mostly in the south, to oust Karzai’s government and foreign occupation forces. While Kabul was considered an “oasis of calm” – by Jonathan Steele’s account – during the Soviet rule, it’s nowhere close to that depiction under the rule of the US and its NATO allies, who had plenty of time, eight long years, to assert their control, but failed.

In fact, just as Holbrooke sat within Karzai’s heavily guarded presidential palace, roadside bombs were detonating across the country, in Khost, in Kandahar and elsewhere. Several police officers were killed, the latest addition to the hundreds of soldiers and officers who die each year as they desperately defend the few symbols of the central government’s authority. Aside from its shaky control over Kabul , and a few provincial capitals, the central government struggles to maintain the little relevance it still holds.

This deems most of the country a battleground between Afghani militias, seen by a growing number of Afghans as a legitimate resistance force against an illegitimate occupation; that being US and NATO forces.

Unlike the unpopular war in Iraq, Afghanistan was widely viewed in the US as a moral war, based on the logic that since al-Qaeda was responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks, and since the group is hosted by an equally militant Taliban government, both groups must pay. So far, the people of Afghanistan have paid many times over the price expected. Thousands were killed, and an entire generation was scarred by a new civil war, and yet a new foreign military occupation.

While mainstream news consumers are inundated with official commentary and occasional news reports on the challenges awaiting the US in Afghanistan, to secure democracy, freedom and ‘national interests,’ media reports continue to reduce the battle over Afghanistan as one that is concerned with fighting local corruption, instilling human rights and ensuring gender equality.

Little is said of the pertinent reasons behind the war, as such seemingly tedious rhetoric of great games to control the Eurasian landmass – which dates back to the 19th century’s rivalry between British and Russian empires – is more suited for academic discussions that are by no means newsworthy.

But it is perhaps relevant to note that desperate attempts at controlling Afghanistan have failed miserably in the past. If Holbrooke wishes to dig deeper into history, he should learn that the British Empire , which controlled India at the time, was also defeated in Afghanistan in 1842, and again in 1878. Soviet leaders looked for a quick victory as they occupied Kabul in December 1979, only to find themselves engaged in a most bloody war that cost them 15,000 deaths (it goes without saying that the hundreds of thousands of Afghani deaths often go unreported) and an unmitigated defeat.

But, then again, Holbrooke must’ve known of the details of the latter period, for after all, it was his country that armed and financially sustained the mujahideen forces in Afghanistan fearing that the Soviets’ ultimate objective, during the Cold War was challenging US dominance in the region, and eventually the Middle East . Considering the strategically disastrous toppling of the Shah of Iran to the US , the world-leading superpower could take no chances.

But since then, Afghanistan has grown in significance from a politically strategic landmass, due to its proximity to warm-waters and regional powers, to an energy strategic landmass, inevitable to the exploitation of Caspian oil.

“I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian,” said former vice-president Dick Cheney in a speech to oil moguls in 1998. In the same year, John Maresca, vice president of international relations of Unocal Corporation commented before a House committee in February 2008 on ways to transfer Caspian basin oil (estimated between 110 to 243bn barrels of crude, worth up to $4 trillion): “(One) option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. One obvious route south would cross Iran , but this is foreclosed for American companies because of US sanctions legislation. The only other possible route is across Afghanistan .”

Military success in Afghanistan is simply not possible, for numerous logistical, historical and practical reasons. But failure will also come at a price, at least for those who will directly benefit from subduing the rebellious nation.

Former president Bush and his entourage of allies failed to turn Afghanistan into a US-styled democracy, easily exploitable for strategic and economic use. By pressing a military solution in Afghanistan, Obama is not only summoning another failed US imperial experiment – as that in Iraq – but insists on adding his country’s name to those of Britain and Russia, who had better chances of success, but were squarely defeated

“It’s like fighting sand. No force in the world can get the better of the Afghans,” Oleg Kubanov, a former Russian officer in Afghanistan told Reuters. “It’s their holy land; it doesn’t matter to them if you’re Russian, American. We’re all soldiers to them.”

It would be timely if Holbrooke takes a few hours from his hectic schedule in the region to brush up on Afghanistan ’s history, for he surely needs it.

Another brilliant article from Paul Craig Roberts.

Endless Propaganda
The War on Terror is a Hoax

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
February 4, 2009

www.counterpunch.org

According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections.  Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us.  We would know it from events.  As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.

I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination.  The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.

The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders.  It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way. 

Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza.  Moreover, neocons are highly visible and are soft targets compared to Hamas and Hezbollah leaders.  Neocons have been identified in the media for years, and as everyone knows, multiple listings of their names are available online. 

Neocons do not have Secret Service protection.  Dreadful to contemplate, but it would be child’s play for al Qaeda to assassinate any and every neocon.  Yet, neocons move around freely, a good indication that the US does not have a terrorist problem.

If, as neocons constantly allege, terrorists can smuggle nuclear weapons or dirty bombs into the US with which to wreak havoc upon our cities, terrorists can acquire weapons with which to assassinate any neocon or former government official.

Yet, the neocons, who are the Americans most hated by Muslims, remain unscathed. 

The “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.

There were no al Qaeda in Iraq until the Americans brought them there by invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, who kept al Qaeda out of Iraq.  The Taliban is not a  terrorist organization, but a movement attempting to unify Afghanistan under Muslim law.  The only Americans threatened by the Taliban are the Americans Bush sent to Afghanistan to kill Taliban and to impose a puppet state on the Afghan people.

Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine, or what little remains of Palestine after Israel’s illegal annexations.  Hamas is a terrorist organization in the same sense that the Israeli government and the US government are terrorist organizations.  In an effort to bring Hamas under Israeli hegemony, Israel employs terror bombing and assassinations against Palestinians.  Hamas replies to the Israeli terror with homemade and ineffectual rockets.

Hezbollah represents the Shi’ites of southern Lebanon, another area in the Middle East that Israel seeks for its territorial expansion.

The US brands Hamas and Hezbollah “terrorist organizations” for no other reason than the US is on Israel’s side of the conflict.  There is no objective basis for the US Department of State’s “finding” that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations.  It is merely a propagandistic declaration.

Americans and Israelis do not call their bombings of civilians terror. What Americans and Israelis call terror is the response of oppressed people who are stateless because their countries are ruled by puppets loyal to the oppressors.  These people, dispossessed of their own countries, have no State Departments, Defense Departments, seats in the United Nations, or voices in the mainstream media.  They can submit to foreign hegemony or resist by the limited means available to them.

The fact that Israel and the United States carry on endless propaganda to prevent this fundamental truth from being realized indicates that it is Israel and the US that are in the wrong and the Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and Afghans who are being wronged.

The retired American generals who serve as war propagandists for Fox “News” are forever claiming that Iran arms the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents and Hamas. But where are the arms?  To deal with American tanks, insurgents have to construct homemade explosive devices out of artillery shells.  After six years of conflict the insurgents still have no weapon against the American helicopter gunships.  Contrast this “arming” with the weaponry the US supplied to the Afghans three decades ago when they were fighting to drive out the Soviets.

The films of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza show large numbers of Gazans fleeing from Israeli bombs or digging out the dead and maimed, and none of these people is armed.  A person would think that by now every Palestinian would be armed, every man, woman, and child.  Yet, all the films of the Israeli attack show an unarmed population.  Hamas has to construct homemade rockets that are little more than a sign of defiance.  If Hamas were armed by Iran, Israel’s assault on Gaza would have cost Israel its helicopter gunships, its tanks, and hundreds of lives of its soldiers.

Hamas is a small organization armed with small caliber rifles incapable of penetrating body armor.  Hamas is unable to stop small bands of Israeli settlers from descending on  West Bank Palestinian villages, driving out the Palestinians, and appropriating their land. 

The great mystery is:  why after 60 years of oppression are the Palestinians still an unarmed people?  Clearly, the Muslim countries are complicit with Israel and the US in keeping the Palestinians unarmed.

The unsupported assertion that Iran supplies sophisticated arms to the Palestinians is like the unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  These assertions are propagandistic justifications for killing Arab civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in order to secure US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

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