March 24, 2010 1 Comment
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March 5, 2010 Leave a comment
So far this year the United States has succeeded in inflaming tensions with China and indefinitely holding up a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia through its relentless pursuit of global interceptor missile deployments.
On January 29 the White House confirmed the completion of a nearly $6.5 billion weapons transfer to Taiwan which includes 200 advanced Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. Earlier in the same month it was reported that Washington is also to provide Taiwan with eight frigates which Taipei intends to equip with the Aegis Combat System that includes the capacity for ship-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors.
The Aegis sea-based component of the expanding U.S. interceptor missile system already includes Japan, South Korea and Australia, and with Taiwan added China would be justified in being apprehensive.
On February 28 the U.S. House and Senate foreign affairs committees permitted the “sale to Taiwan of missiles, helicopters and ships valued at about $6.4 billion” despite weeks of protests from China. “The U.S. Defense Department wants to sell Taiwan the most advanced Patriot anti-missile system….The system, valued at $2.8 billion, would add to Taiwan’s network of 22 missile sites around the country….” 
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang recently stated “The responsibility for the current difficulties in China-U.S. relations [belongs] completely to the U.S. side” for failing to recognize and respect China’s “core interests.” 
If the proposed placement of U.S. missile shield components in Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Alaska and elsewhere were explained by alleged missile threats emanating from Iran and North Korea, the transfer of U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to Taiwan – and, as was revealed in January, 35 miles from Russian territory in Poland – represents the crossing of a new threshold. The Patriots in Taiwan and Poland and the land- and sea-based missiles that will follow them are intended not against putative “rogue states” but against two major nuclear powers, China and Russia.
The PAC-3, “one of the most comprehensive upgrade programs ever undertaken on an American weapon system,”  is in theory a strictly defensive anti-ballistic missile system, targeting cruise and tactical ballistic missiles. However, it has seven times the range of its PAC-2 predecessor and with plans for a yet further major upgrade, the Missile Segment Enhancement, its operational capability will be doubled again. With a future range of some 300 kilometers, the PAC-3 would be able to intercept and destroy missiles over Chinese and Russian territory.
The English-language government newspaper China Daily published an article on February 22 called “China circled by chain of US anti-missile systems,” which observed that “Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington’s latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.” 
The article cites a Chinese air force colonel and military strategist as contending that “China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan. Washington’s deployment of anti-missile systems around China’s periphery forms a crescent-shaped encirclement.”
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February 19, 2010 Leave a comment
By Tom Engelhardt and Pratap Chatterjee
Almost every day, reports come back from the CIA’s “secret” battlefield in the Pakistani tribal borderlands. Unmanned aerial vehicles – that is, pilotless drones – shoot missiles (18 of them in a single attack on a tiny village last week) or drop bombs and then the news comes in: a certain number of al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders or suspected Arab or Uzbek or Afghan “militants” have died. The numbers are oftenremarkably precise. Sometimes they are attributed to U.S. sources, sometimes to the Pakistanis; sometimes, it’s hard to tell where the information comes from. In the Pakistani press, on the other hand, the numbers that come back are usually of civilian dead. They, too, tend to be precise.
Don’t let that precision fool you. Here’s the reality: There are no reporters on the ground and none of these figures can be taken as accurate. Let’s just consider the CIA side of things. Any information that comes from American sources (i.e., the CIA) has to be looked at with great wariness. As a start, the CIA’s history is one of deception. There’s no reason to take anything its sources say at face value. They will report just what they think it’s in their interest to report – and the ongoing “success” of their drone strikes is distinctly in their interest.
Then, there’s history. In the present drone wars, as in the CIA’s bloody Phoenix Program in the Vietnam era, the Agency’s operatives, working in distinctly alien terrain, must rely on local sources (or possibly official Pakistani ones) for targeting intelligence. In Vietnam in the 1960s, the Agency’s Phoenix Program – reportedly responsible for the assassination of 20,000 Vietnamese – became, according to historian Marilyn Young, “an extortionist’s paradise, with payoffs as available for denunciation as for protection.” Once again, the CIA is reportedly passing out bags of money and anyone on the ground with a grudge, or the desire to eliminate an enemy, or simply the desire to make some of that money can undoubtedly feed information into the system, watch the drones do their damnedest, and then report back that more “terrorists” are dead. Just assume that at least some of those “militants” dying in Pakistan, and possibly many of them, aren’t who the CIA hopes they are.
Think of it as a foolproof situation, with an emphasis on the “fool.” And then keep in mind that, in December, the CIA’s local brain trust, undoubtedly the same people who were leaking precise news of “successes” in Pakistan, mistook a jihadist double agentfrom Jordan for an agent of theirs, gathered at an Agency base in Khost, Afghanistan, and let him wipe them out with a suicide bomb. Seven CIA operatives died, including the base chief. This should give us a grim clue as to the accuracy of the CIA’s insights into what’s happening on the ground in Pakistan, or into the real effects of their 24/7 robotic assassination program.
But there’s a deeper, more dangerous level of deception in Washington’s widening warin the region: self-deception. The CIA drone program, which the Agency’s Director Leon Panetta has called “the only game in town” when it comes to dismantling al-Qaeda, is just symptomatic of such self-deception. While the CIA and the U.S. military have been expending enormous effort studying the Afghan and Pakistani situations and consulting experts, and while the White House has conducted an extensive series of seminars-cum-policy-debates on both countries, you can count on one thing: none of them have spent significant time studying or thinking about us.
As a result, the seeming cleanliness and effectiveness of the drone-war solution undoubtedly only reinforces a sense in Washington that the world’s last great military power can still control this war – that it can organize, order, prod, wheedle, and bribe both the Afghans and Pakistanis into doing what’s best, and if that doesn’t work, simply continue raining down the missiles and bombs. Beware Washington’s deep-seated belief that it controls events; that it is, however precariously, in the saddle; that, as Afghan War commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently put it, there is a “corner” to “turn” out there, even if we haven’t quite turned it yet.
In fact, Washington is not in the saddle and that corner, if there, if turned, will have its own unpleasant surprises. Washington is, in this sense, as oblivious as those CIA operatives were as they waited for “their” Jordanian agent to give them supposedly vital information on the al-Qaeda leadership in the Pakistani tribal areas. Like their drones, the Americans in charge of this war are desperately far from the ground, and they don’t even seem to know it. It’s this that makes the analogy drawn by TomDispatch regular and author of Halliburton’s Army Pratap Chatterjee so unnerving. It’s time for Washington to examine not what we know about them, but what we don’t know about ourselves. Tom
Could Pakistan 2010 go the way of Cambodia 1969?
by Pratap Chatterjee
Sitting in air-conditioned comfort, cans of Coke and 7-Up within reach as they watched their screens, the ground controllers gave the order to strike under the cover of darkness. There had been no declaration of war. No advance warning, nothing, in fact, that would have alerted the “enemy” to the sudden, unprecedented bombing raids. The secret computer-guided strikes were authorized by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just weeks after a new American president entered the Oval Office. They represented an effort to wipe out the enemy’s central headquarters whose location intelligence experts claimed to have pinpointed just across the border from the war-torn land where tens of thousands of American troops were fighting daily.
In remote villages where no reporters dared to go, far from the battlefields where Americans were dying, who knew whether the bombs that rained from the night sky had killed high-level insurgents or innocent civilians? For 14 months the raids continued and, after each one was completed, the commander of the bombing crews was instructed to relay a one-sentence message: “The ball game is over.”
The campaign was called “Operation Breakfast,” and, while it may sound like the CIA’s present air campaign over Pakistan, it wasn’t. You need to turn the clock back to another American war, four decades earlier, to March 18, 1969, to be exact. The target was an area of Cambodia known as the Fish Hook that jutted into South Vietnam, and Operation Breakfast would be but the first of dozens of top secret bombing raids. Later ones were named “Lunch,” “Snack,” and “Supper,” and they went under the collective label “Menu.” They were authorized by President Richard Nixon and were meant to destroy a (nonexistent) “Bamboo Pentagon,” a central headquarters in the Cambodian borderlands where North Vietnamese communists were supposedly orchestrating raids deep into South Vietnam.
Like President Obama today, Nixon had come to power promising stability in an age of unrest and with a vague plan to bringing peace to a nation at war. On the day he was sworn in, he read from the Biblical book of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” He also spoke of transforming Washington’s bitter partisan politics into a new age of unity: “We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”
Return to the Killing Fields
In recent years, many commentators and pundits have resorted to “the Vietnam analogy,” comparing first the American war in Iraq and now in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War. Despite a number of similarities, the analogy disintegrates quickly enough if you consider that U.S. military campaigns in post-invasion Afghanistan and Iraq against small forces of lightly-armed insurgents bear little resemblance to the large-scale war that Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon waged against both southern revolutionary guerrillas and the military of North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, who commanded a real army, with the backing of, and supplies from, the Soviet Union and China.
A more provocative – and perhaps more ominous – analogy today might be between the CIA’s escalating drone war in the contemporary Pakistani tribal borderlands and Richard Nixon’s secret bombing campaign against the Cambodian equivalent. To briefly recapitulate that ancient history: In the late 1960s, Cambodia was ruled by a “neutralist” king, Norodom Sihanouk, leading a weak government that had little relevance to its poor and barely educated citizens. In its borderlands, largely beyond its control, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong found “sanctuaries.”
Sihanouk, helpless to do anything, looked the other way. In the meantime, sheltered by local villagers in distant areas of rural Cambodia was a small insurgent group, little-known communist fundamentalists who called themselves the Khmer Rouge. (Think of them as the 1970s equivalent of the Pakistani Taliban who have settled into the wild borderlands of that country largely beyond the control of the Pakistani government.) They were then weak and incapable of challenging Sihanouk – until, that is, those secret bombing raids by American B-52s began. As these intensified in the summer of 1969, areas of the country began to destabilize (helped on in 1970 by a U.S.-encouraged military coup in the capital Phnom Penh), and the Khmer Rouge began to gain strength.
You know the grim end of that old story.
Forty years, almost to the day, after Operation Breakfast began, I traveled to the town of Snuol, close to where the American bombs once fell. It is a quiet town, no longer remote, as modern roads and Chinese-led timber companies have systematically cut down the jungle that once sheltered anti-government rebels. I went in search of anyone who remembered the bombing raids, only to discover that few there were old enough to have been alive at the time, largely because the Khmer Rouge executed as much as a quarter of the total Cambodian population after they took power in 1975.
Eventually, a 15-minute ride out of town, I found an old soldier living by himself in a simple one-room house adorned with pictures of the old king, Sihanouk. His name was Kong Kan and he had first moved to the nearby town of Memot in 1960. A little further away, I ran into three more old men, Choenung Klou, Keo Long, and Hoe Huy, who had gathered at a newly built temple to chat.
All of them remembered the massive 1969 B-52 raids vividly and the arrival of U.S. troops the following year. “We thought the Americans had come to help us,” said Choenung Klou. “But then they left and the [South] Vietnamese soldiers who came with them destroyed the villages and raped the women.”
He had no love for the North Vietnamese communists either. “They would stay at people’s houses, take our hammocks and food. We didn’t like them and we were afraid of them.”
Caught between two Vietnamese armies and with American planes carpet-bombing the countryside, increasing numbers of Cambodians soon came to believe that the Khmer Rouge, who were their countrymen, might help them. Like the Taliban of today, many of the Khmer Rouge were, in fact, teenage villagers who had responded, under the pressure of war and disruption, to the distant call of an inspirational ideology and joined the resistance in the jungles.
“If you ask me why I joined the Khmer Rouge, the main reason is because of the American invasion,” Hun Sen, the current prime minister of Cambodia, has said. “If there was no invasion, by now, I would be a pilot or a professor.”
Six years after the bombings of Cambodia began, shortly after the last helicopter lifted off the U.S. embassy in Saigon and the flow of military aid to the crumbling government of Cambodia stopped, a reign of terror took hold in the capital, Phnom Penh.
The Khmer Rouge left the jungles and entered the capital where they began a systemicgenocide against city dwellers and anyone who was educated. They vowed to restart history at Year Zero, a new era in which much of the past became irrelevant. Some two million people are believed to have died from executions, starvation, and forced labor in the camps established by the Angkar leadership of the Khmer Rouge commanded by Pol Pot.
Could the same thing happen in Pakistan today? A new American president was ordering escalating drone attacks, in a country where no war has been declared, at the moment when I flew from Cambodia across South Asia to Afghanistan, so this question loomed large in my mind. Both there and just across the border, Operation Breakfast seems to be repeating itself.
In the Afghan capital, Kabul, I met earnest aid workers who drank late into the night in places like L’Atmosphere, a foreigner-only bar that could easily have doubled as a movie set for Saigon in the 1960s. Like modern-day equivalents of Graham Greene’s “quiet American,” these “consultants” describe a Third Way that is neither Western nor fundamentalist Islam.
At the very same time, CIA analysts in distant Virginia are using pilot-less drones and satellite technology to order strikes against supposed terrorist headquarters across the border in Pakistan. They are not so unlike the military men who watched radar screens in South Vietnam in the 1960s as the Cambodian air raids went on. Read more of this post
January 8, 2010 1 Comment
by Rick Rozoff
January 1 will usher in the last year of the first decade of a new millennium and ten consecutive years of the United States conducting war in the Greater Middle East.
Beginning with the October 7, 2001 missile and bomb attacks on Afghanistan, American combat operations abroad have not ceased for a year, a month, a week or a day in the 21st century.
The Afghan war, the U.S.’s first air and ground conflict in Asia since the disastrous wars in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960s and early 1970s and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first land war and Asian campaign, began during the end of the 2001 war in Macedonia launched from NATO-occupied Kosovo, one in which the role of U.S. military personnel is still to be properly exposed  and addressed and which led to the displacement of almost 10 percent of the nation’s population.
In the first case Washington invaded a nation in the name of combating terrorism; in the second it abetted cross-border terrorism. Similarly, in 1991 the U.S. and its Western allies attacked Iraqi forces in Kuwait and launched devastating and deadly cruise missile attacks and bombing sorties inside Iraq in the name of preserving the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kuwait, and in 1999 waged a 78-day bombing assault against Yugoslavia to override and fatally undermine the principles of territorial integrity and national sovereignty in the name of the casus belli of the day, so-called humanitarian intervention.
Two years later humanitarian war, as abhorrent an oxymoron as the world has ever witnessed, gave way to the global war on terror(ism), with the U.S. and its NATO allies again reversing course but continuing to wage wars of aggression and “wars of opportunity” as they saw fit, contradictions and logic, precedents and international law notwithstanding.
Several never fully acknowledged counterinsurgency campaigns, some ongoing – Colombia – and some new – Yemen – later, the U.S. invaded Iraq in March of 2003 with a “coalition of the willing” comprised mainly of Eastern European NATO candidate nations (now almost all full members of the world’s only military bloc as a result of their service).
The Pentagon has also deployed special forces and other troops to the Philippines and launched naval, helicopter and missile attacks inside Somalia as well as assisting the Ethiopian invasion of that nation in 2006. Washington also arms, trains and supports the armed forces of Djibouti in their border war with Eritrea. In fact Djibouti hosts the U.S.’s only permanent military installation in Africa to date , Camp Lemonier, a United States Naval Expeditionary Base and home to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), placed under the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) when it was launched on October 1, 2008. The area of responsibility of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa takes in the nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen and as “areas of interest” the Comoros, Mauritius and Madagascar.
That is, much of the western shores of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, among the most geostrategically important parts of the world. 
U.S. troops, aerial drones, warships, planes and helicopters are active throughout that vast tract of land and water.
With senator and once almost vice president Joseph Lieberman’s threat on December 27 that “Yemen will be tomorrow’s war”  and former Southern Command chief and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Wesley Clark’s two days later that “Maybe we need to put some boots on the ground there,”  it is evident that America’s new war for the new year has already been identified. In fact in mid-December U.S. warplanes participated in the bombing of a village in northern Yemen that cost the lives of 120 civilians as well as wounding 44 more  and a week later “A US fighter jet…carried out multiple airstrikes on the home of a senior official in Yemen’s northern rugged province of Sa’ada….” 
The pretext for undertaking a war in Yemen in earnest is currently the serio-comic “attempted terrorist attack” by a young Nigerian national on a passenger airliner outside of Detroit on Christmas Day. The deadly U.S. bombing of the Yemeni village mentioned above occurred ten days earlier and moreover was in the north of the nation, although Washington claims al-Qaeda cells are operating in the other end of the country. 
Asia, Africa and the Middle East are not the only battlegrounds where the Pentagon is active. On October 30 of 2009 the U.S. signed an agreement with the government of Colombia to acquire the essentially unlimited and unrestricted use of seven new military bases in the South American nation, including sites within immediate striking distance of both Venezuela and Ecuador.  American intelligence, special forces and other personnel will be complicit in ongoing counterinsurgency operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the nation’s south as well as in rendering assistance to Washington’s Colombian proxy for attacks inside Ecuador and Venezuela that will be portrayed as aimed at FARC forces in the two states.
Targeting two linchpins of and ultimately the entire Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), Washington is laying the groundwork for a potential military conflagration in South and Central America and the Caribbean. After the U.S.-supported coup in Honduras on June 28, that nation has announced it will be the first ALBA member state to ever withdraw from the Alliance and the Pentagon will retain, perhaps expand, its military presence at the Soto Cano Air Base there.
A few days ago “The Colombian government…announced it is building a new military base on its border with Venezuela and has activated six new airborne battalions”  and shortly afterward Dutch member of parliament Harry van Bommel “claimed that US spy planes are using an airbase on the Netherlands Antilles island of Curaçao”  off the Venezuelan coast.
In October a U.S. armed forces publication revealed that the Pentagon will spend $110 million to modernize and expand seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania, across the Black Sea from Russia, where it will station initial contingents of over 4,000 troops. 
In early December the U.S. signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Poland, which borders the Russian Kaliningrad territory, that “allows for the United States military to station American troops and military equipment on Polish territory.”  The U.S. military forces will operate Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) batteries as part of the Pentagon’s global interceptor missile system.
At approximately the same time President Obama pressured Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to base missile shield components in his country. “We discussed the continuing role that we can play as NATO allies in strengthening Turkey’s profile within NATO and coordinating more effectively on critical issues like missile defense,”  in the American leader’s words.
“Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has hinted his government does not view Tehran [Iran] as a potential missile threat for Turkey at this point. But analysts say if a joint NATO missile shield is developed, such a move could force Ankara to join the mechanism.” 
2010 will see the first foreign troops deployed to Poland since the breakup of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 and the installation of the U.S’s “stronger, swifter and smarter” (also Obama’s words) interceptor missiles and radar facilities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the South Caucasus. 
U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, site of the longest and most wide-scale war in the world, will top 100,000 early in 2010 and with another 50,000 plus troops from other NATO nations and assorted “vassals and tributaries” (Zbigniew Brzezinski) will represent the largest military deployment in any war zone in the world.
American and NATO drone missile and helicopter gunship attacks in Pakistan will also increase, as will U.S. counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines and Somalia along with those in Yemen where CIA and Army special forces are already involved.
U.S. military websites recently announced that there have been 3.3 million deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 with 2 million U.S. service members sent to the two war zones. 
In this still young millennium American soldiers have also deployed in the hundreds of thousands to new bases and conflict and post-conflict zones in Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Djibouti, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Mali, the Philippines, Romania, Uganda and Uzbekistan.
In 2010 they will be sent abroad in even larger numbers to man airbases and missile sites, supervise and participate in counterinsurgency operations throughout the world against disparate rebel groups, many of them secular, and wage combat operations in South Asia and elsewhere. They will be stationed on warships and submarines equipped with cruise and long-range nuclear missiles and with aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the world’s seas and oceans.
They will construct and expand bases from Europe to Central and South Asia, Africa to South America, the Middle East to Oceania. With the exception of Guam and Vicenza in Italy, where the Pentagon is massively expanding existing installations, all the facilities in question are in nations and even regions of the world where the U.S. military has never before ensconced itself. Practically all the new encampments will be forward bases used for operations “down range,” generally to the east and south of NATO-dominated Europe.
U.S. military personnel will be assigned to the new Global Strike Command and for expanded patrols and war games in the Arctic Circle. They will serve under the Missile Defense Agency to consolidate a worldwide interceptor missile network that will facilitate a nuclear first strike capability and will extend that system into space, the final frontier in the drive to achieve military full spectrum dominance.
American troops will continue to fan out to most all parts of the world. Everywhere, that is, except to their own nation’s borders.
1) Scott Taylor, Macedonia’s Civil War: ‘Made in the USA’
Antiwar.com, August 20, 2001
2) AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World
Stop NATO, October 22, 2009
3) Cold War Origins Of The Somalia Crisis And Control Of The Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, May 3, 2009
4) Fox News, December 27, 2009
5) Fox News, December 29, 2009
6) Press TV, December 16, 2009
7) Press TV, December 27, 2009
8) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
9) Rumors Of Coups And War: U.S., NATO Target Latin America
Stop NATO, November 18, 2009
10) BBC News, December 20, 2009
11) Radio Netherlands, December 22, 2009
12) Bulgaria, Romania: U.S., NATO Bases For War In The East
Stop NATO, October 24, 2009
13) Polish Radio, December 11, 2009
14) Hurriyet Daily News, December 30, 2009
16) Black Sea, Caucasus: U.S. Moves Missile Shield South And East
Stop NATO, September 19, 2009
U.S. Expands Global Missile Shield Into Middle East, Balkans
Stop NATO, September 11, 2009
17) World’s Sole Military Superpower’s 2 Million-Troop, $1 Trillion Wars
Stop NATO, December 21, 2009