Afghan Resistance against US Invaders

Marjah is indeed Fallujah. Like Fallujah, it will become a symbol, the defining moment in the war against the Afghan people. US Marines may “mow the grass”, eradicate the “weeds”, and plant their sterile seeds of Western-style democracy and economic prosperity as much as they like. However, “the Taliban is the future, the Americans are the past in Afghanistan,” as former head of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Hamid Gul recently told Al-Jazeera. This is clear to any sensible observer.

by Eric Walberg:

Apart for Abu Ghraib, Fallujah is perhaps the Iraq war’s defining moment. The hatred and resentment of the occupied people found a catalyst in the four Blackwater mercenaries, who were killed and strung up, and no doubt deserved their fate, certainly as symbols of a cynical, illegal invasion. The US soldiers — who are just as mercenary, being a professional army invading a country sans provocation — came and “destroyed the village to save it.”

The “success” of the blitzkrieg war in Iraq has been difficult to duplicate in Afghanistan, “the heart of darkness”, one British commander quipped to his troops as they went into battle, despite dropping far more bombs — many of them radioactive. The unflagging resistance of the Afghans, their refusal to submit to the occupiers, is that because they realise the invaders are not there for their purported altruistic motives. The thousands of civilians and resistance fighters who have been killed by airstrikes — none of them guilty of anything more egregious than defending their homeland — is more than ample proof, as is the craven propping up of a US-imposed government, and the proliferation of US bases in the country. The unapologetically un-Islamic ways of the invaders, their lack of even the remotest understanding of the people they are occupying, is a constant insult to a proud and ancient people.

The new exit plan, so it goes, involves “clearing” all regions of Taliban — US Marines call it “mowing the grass”, acknowledging that as soon as they murder one group of resisters and leave, more pop up. The “new” strategy is to bring in ready-made Afghan administrators and police to create a prosperous, peaceful society once the “enemy” have been destroyed, “winning the hearts and minds” of the locals. “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said chief honcho General Stanley McChrystal.

But wait a moment. Is it possible the invaders are the enemy? And who are these newly discovered Afghan officials? Are (famously corrupt) Afghan government officials and police nominally loyal to NATO forces, trucked in by the invaders, going to be welcome in remote villages as ready-made trusted representatives of the people? And wasn’t this precisely the failed policy the US followed in Vietnam ? This old “new” policy was what convinced United States President Barack Obama to go along grudgingly with the Pentagon’s demands to radically increase NATO force — though on the condition that the whole operation be complete by next year. He clearly was given no choice in the matter, and his “ultimatum” was dismissed by US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates moments after Obama made it.

Not surprisingly, NATO forces have met strong resistance in Marjah as their onslaught enters its second week, from both the incredible, ragtag resistance and from locals, who doubt that the postwar reality will correspond remotely to the picture the invaders are painting. Tribal elders in Helmand this week called for an end to the “Moshtarak” offensive, citing Western troops’ disregard for civilian lives. Realising their “shock and awe” bombing kills civilians and turns locals against them, the invaders have reluctantly cut back, now authorising them only under “very limited and prescribed conditions.” Even so, over 50 civilians are among the dead so far — 27 in an airstrike in Uruzgan Province — and “friendly fire” killed seven Afghan police. Six occupiers were killed in one day alone, bringing NATO losses to 18 at the time of writing.

The latest propaganda ploy is to accuse the Taliban of using locals as “human shields” and of holing up near civilians. But surely it is the NATO forces that are using locals as human shields, invading their homes in search of the “enemy”, forcing them to betray their children and friends, often under torture in Afghan-run prisons. Even those Afghans who collaborate with the occupiers, taking their dollars, guns and uniforms, are in effect human shields for the troops. And when they realise their lives are on the line, they flee their paymasters. How else to explain the 25 police officers who left their posts last week and “defected” to the Taliban in Chak?

But Marjah is really just a microcosm for what the US is doing at this very moment around the globe — waging a veritable war on the world, in Iraq, Pakistan, expanding into Yemen, Somalia, Iran, supplementing bombs and soldiers with militarised sea lanes, forward military and missile bases on every continent, encircling “enemies” Russia and China.

The process is merely accelerating as the US loses its traditional edge in the world economy, outpaced by China . It is the logical next step for a deeply illogical economic system. It can’t be repeated too often: the US is frantically trying to consolidate its sole superpower status militarily before it loses the economic war. Read more of this post

The Toy Boxes Of Arabia

I expected it but not so soon. Eat your heart out, O you Sheikh of Dubai. The dung head next door is going to build a 1 km tall Tower of all Towers. While the Palestinians are shackled and the Chosen Ones overlord the whole of Middle East this enlightened luminary of House of Saud, aka The Corrupt of the Earth, can find no better use for his petro dollars than building another sand tower. Al Waleed once was the largest stockholder of Citi group and CNN’s Riz Khan a few years ago eulogised him in a widely publicised biography as the man with vision. Well, some vision. Fisk puts the absurdity of the situation succinctly thus:

“Afghanistan is collapsing in blood; Iraq remains a state of semi-civil war; the Israelis continue to thieve land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs who hold the title deeds to that property – and Prince al-Waled wants to build a tower reaching a kilometre into the sky. Do the Saudis – who gave so much largesse to the Taliban (we have to forget this, of course, along with the fact that the Saudis provided most of the murderers of 9/11, which is why we bombed Kabul rather than Riyadh) – not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?”



Robert Fisk’s World: The stakes get higher as Arab princes try to outdo each other

Do the Saudis not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia is quite a man.

He says he doesn’t want to be the prime minister of Lebanon – everyone who wants to be the prime minister of Lebanon says that – but he is immensely wealthy. True, his bank balance has sunk from $23.7bn to a mere $13.3bn since 2005 (thus sayeth Forbes magazine). But he’s just announced that he wants to construct the world’s tallest building – a 1km-high goliath which will dwarf his neighbour emir in Dubai who last month opened the paltry 25,000ft Burj Khalifa amid the sand dunes of his bankrupt creditors. The nephew of King Abdullah, al-Waleed understandably calls his company Kingdom Holdings. He also happens to be a major shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – which is why you won’t be reading these words in The Times. Long live Kingdom Holdings, I suppose.

Because yesterday morning, I was taking an al-Jazeera television crew around the repulsive, obscene, outrageous, filthy, stinking slums of the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps not far from my home in Beirut, a place of such squalor that the gorge rises that human beings even live there. Sabra and Chatila – yes, the site of that infamous massacre in 1982 when Lebanese Christian militiamen allied to Israel slaughtered up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians while the Israeli army surrounded the camps, watched the killings – and did nothing. They were the survivors of the great exodus or ethnic cleansing of 1948 – or their sons or grandsons – who fled Galilee for the “temporary” safety of Lebanon and, like the visa applicants of the movie Casablanca, wait and wait – and wait – to go home. Which they will never do. “I am very positive,” Prince al-Waleed said when he announced his new priapic tower, to be constructed in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. “We are always looking for new investments.”

Now I know that there are a lot of fine philanthropists in the Gulf, Prince al-Waleed among them, but what is one to make of all this? Afghanistan is collapsing in blood; Iraq remains a state of semi-civil war; the Israelis continue to thieve land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs who hold the title deeds to that property – and Prince al-Waled wants to build a tower reaching a kilometre into the sky. Do the Saudis – who gave so much largesse to the Taliban (we have to forget this, of course, along with the fact that the Saudis provided most of the murderers of 9/11, which is why we bombed Kabul rather than Riyadh) – not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?

For example, we all know that the Americans maintain stocks of weapons among their allies. They keep munitions in South Korea and, indeed, in the Arab Gulf (aka Saudi Arabia). But very quietly this week, they agreed to double their munitions supplies in Israel from $400m of weapons to $800m. Of course, Washington’s gift of $9bn to Israel up to 2012 – never, of course, to be spent on those illegal colonies which are built against international law on Arab land but which Barack Obama now pusillanimously ignores – has nothing to do with this. But don’t imagine that – in the event of a new “preventive” war – Israel cannot draw on these supplies for its own army and air force. After all, it was a missile taken to Saudi Arabia by the US marines for use against Iraq in 1991 that ended up in the hands of the Israeli air force as part of a quid pro quo for not joining in the war against Baghdad – and which was subsequently used to kill civilians in a Lebanese ambulance in 1996.

But these days, Arab compliance reaches new heights every day. Now, for example, we have the Egyptian government – and its ever popular president (see the American-approved presidential election results which are way above 90 per cent) – building a wall around Rafah, part of the vast mass of poverty which constitutes Gaza, thus preventing food, gasoline (and, no doubt, weapons) from reaching the trapped Palestinians of this prison camp. A camp, one has to add, which meets with the full approval of Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara, whose honourable involvement in the invasion of Iraq has now been outdone by is extraordinary success as peace envoy to the Middle East.

Egypt’s intelligence boss (a certain Mr Sulieman who might be the next president of Egypt were it not for his pattern of heart attacks) approves of this wall, which is a very definite assistance to Israel and which will yet further impoverish the Palestinians of Gaza to the point at which the inhabitants of Sabra and Chatila might actually feel themselves lucky they don’t live in “Palestine”.

In Israel itself, the deputy foreign minister humiliates the Turkish ambassador – while complaining about an anti-Semitic series on Turkish television – by forcing the diplomat to sit on a low sofa, refusing to shake hands and addressing him, with two colleagues, from higher chairs. The foreign minister himself, our dear friend Mr Lieberman, has now acquired the habit – every time poor old (and I mean old) US envoy George Mitchell raises the question of Jerusalem – of walking out of the room. That’s what Obama’s point man is worth. Israel’s crazies – Netanyahu is a moderate chap by comparison – now prove that Israel can be just as much a banana Raj as the rest of the Middle East.

But fear not. The princes and the emirs and the caliphs and the presidents will be able to outbid each other in towers and hotels. I have a bigger painting set than yours. I have a sharper pencil, more crayons, a larger train set (Qatar, please note), a bigger bear than yours. And the world will watch this tragedy and marvel at the toy boxes now being opened in the Middle East. And, by the way, how many crayons do the children of Sabra and Chatila have?

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Has Obama Become Bush II?

Danny Schechter | Barack Obama’s election seemed an anomaly, but clearly it was disgust with his predecessor that drove him from obscurity to the presidency.

Obama’s “outside-inside” strategy inspired millions of new voters. He organised, rallied new voters, used social networks and invoked change orientated slogans with more symbolism than substance.

But once in office, the office took over, co-opting his populist inclinations and burying his grass roots movement in a miasma of paralysing pragmatic centrism rationalised as the ‘politics of the possible’.

Supporters became recipients of emails, not potential activists to lobby for his agenda. He allowed his “army” to dissipate while he moved into using the Oval Office as a bully pulpit. His followers were demobilised as he gave speech after speech.

Obama realised that the Bush era had not ended in the bureaucracies or in the media and halls of congress. To undercut its lingering impact, he moved right possibly to later move left.

He embraced some of Bush’s tough-guy national security boilerplate. He got along with Pentagon power by going along. Compromise began to become his mantra. Read more of this post

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