Video: Al-Qaeda Does not Exist

Al Qaeda Doesn’t Exist is the forthcoming documentary by The Corbett Report. It interrogates the theory that Al Qaeda is a centrally-operated terrorist organization run by Osama Bin Laden that perpetrated the attacks of 9/11. The documentary looks at Al Qaeda’s roots, its ties to western intelligence agencies and the fictions that have been created to enhance its myth in the corporate-controlled media.

Al Qaeda — the Database

Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that “Al Qaeda” is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Courtesy of World Affairs, a journal based in New Delhi, WMR can bring you an important excerpt from an Apr.-Jun. 2004 article by Pierre-Henry Bunel, a former agent for French military intelligence.

Wayne Madsen Report

“I first heard about Al-Qaida while I was attending the Command and Staff course in Jordan. I was a French officer at that time and the French Armed Forces had close contacts and cooperation with Jordan . . .

“Two of my Jordanian colleagues were experts in computers. They were air defense officers. Using computer science slang, they introduced a series of jokes about students’ punishment.

“For example, when one of us was late at the bus stop to leave the Staff College, the two officers used to tell us: ‘You’ll be noted in ‘Q eidat il-Maaloomaat’ which meant ‘You’ll be logged in the information database.’ Meaning ‘You will receive a warning . . .’ If the case was more severe, they would used to talk about ‘Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.’ Meaning ‘the decision database.’ It meant ‘you will be punished.’ For the worst cases they used to speak of logging in ‘Al Qaida.’

“In the early 1980s the Islamic Bank for Development, which is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, like the Permanent Secretariat of the Islamic Conference Organization, bought a new computerized system to cope with its accounting and communication requirements. At the time the system was more sophisticated than necessary for their actual needs.

“It was decided to use a part of the system’s memory to host the Islamic Conference’s database. It was possible for the countries attending to access the database by telephone: an Intranet, in modern language. The governments of the member-countries as well as some of their embassies in the world were connected to that network.

“[According to a Pakistani major] the database was divided into two parts, the information file where the participants in the meetings could pick up and send information they needed, and the decision file where the decisions made during the previous sessions were recorded and stored. In Arabic, the files were called, ‘Q eidat il-Maaloomaat’ and ‘Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.’ Those two files were kept in one file called in Arabic ‘Q eidat ilmu’ti’aat’ which is the exact translation of the English word database. But the Arabs commonly used the short word Al Qaida which is the Arabic word for “base.” The military air base of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is called ‘q eidat ‘riyadh al ‘askariya.’ Q eida means “a base” and “Al Qaida” means “the base.”

“In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database located in computer and dedicated to the communications of the Islamic Conference’s secretariat.

“In the early 1990s, I was a military intelligence officer in the Headquarters of the French Rapid Action Force. Because of my skills in Arabic my job was also to translate a lot of faxes and letters seized or intercepted by our intelligence services . . . We often got intercepted material sent by Islamic networks operating from the UK or from Belgium.

“These documents contained directions sent to Islamic armed groups in Algeria or in France. The messages quoted the sources of statements to be exploited in the redaction of the tracts or leaflets, or to be introduced in video or tapes to be sent to the media. The most commonly quoted sources were the United Nations, the non-aligned countries, the UNHCR and . . . Al Qaida.

“Al Qaida remained the data base of the Islamic Conference. Not all member countries of the Islamic Conference are ‘rogue states’ and many Islamic groups could pick up information from the databases. It was but natural for Osama Bin Laden to be connected to this network. He is a member of an important family in the banking and business world.

“Because of the presence of ‘rogue states,’ it became easy for terrorist groups to use the email of the database. Hence, the email of Al Qaida was used, with some interface system, providing secrecy, for the families of the mujaheddin to keep links with their children undergoing training in Afghanistan, or in Libya or in the Beqaa valley, Lebanon. Or in action anywhere in the battlefields where the extremists sponsored by all the ‘rogue states’ used to fight. And the ‘rogue states’ included Saudi Arabia. When Osama bin Laden was an American agent in Afghanistan, the Al Qaida Intranet was a good communication system through coded or covert messages. Read more of this post

Hillary widens Pak-US distrust

By General Retd Mirza Aslam Beg

Diplomats are very careful in their words while delivering political speeches and also dealing with the leadership of other countries. They are polite, articulate and courteous, and convey even very tough messages with a touch of grace. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her recent visit to Pakistan, appeared much emotionally disturbed, displaying a strange logic hit out to “decrease the historic distrust.” She said:

  • “Should an attack on the US be traced to Pakistan, it would have a very devastating impact.” This means, another demonstration of “shock and awe” over Pakistan as on Afghanistan in 2001, but with a mild difference. That India would also join the US, as it is also having jitters after the Mumbai attack.
  • “I believe, Mullah Omar and Osama are in Pakistan and you know they are here. Don’t double cross. Help us to get them.” For over nine years, the Americans and their allies have been trying to get them and having failed, now expect the Pakistan army to ‘produce the rabbits from the hat’, failing which Pakistan has to remain prepared to face the wrath of the sole superpower of the world.
  • Three: “Pak-China nuclear deal is a matter of great concern. We can trace the export of nuclear information and material from Pakistan, through all kinds of channels, to many different countries. We are fulfilling our commitment, but it is not a one-way street.” Since Pakistan and China have explained umpteen times that the nuclear deal is fully covered by the IAEA guarantees, it should not be a matter of concern for any one. But as this is a case of the ‘lion and the lamb’, Pakistan has to be prepared to face the onslaught of the “global-anti-nuclear-proliferation-regime comprising US, Israel and India”, ready to take out its nuclear assets and capabilities.
  • Four: “Pakistan is double crossing us in dealing with the terrorists. They are shielding the Haqqani group in particular, who are causing all the trouble for us in Afghanistan. It is time for Pakistan now to make sure that we are on the same page on Afghanistan” and “there is a gulf between how the Pakistanis define the good and bad Taliban and what Washington calls reconcilable and irreconcilable Taliban.”

As if, this was not enough, Pakistan and Afghanistan delegates were huddled together at Islamabad to sign the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, while Hillary stood behind like a headmistress with a rod in hand, to ensure compliance. The entire process was completed in such a hurry, that the Pakistan’s representatives did not get the time to discuss the matter with Parliament, or at least with the members of the Cabinet. And our PM, who should not have been there, in any case, stood at the signing of the agreement with a cynical smile on his face.

Ms Clinton scored another point, by forcing the Pakistani government to restore the privilege of our Ambassador in Washington, to issue one year multiple visit visas’ to the Americans visiting Pakistan. This privilege was, however, misused in the past by the Americans working for Blackwater and other such shady organisations. It means that the old ‘cloak and dagger’ game is on, once again. Read more of this post

Foreign powers behind terrorism: DG ISI

ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha

ISLAMABAD: ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha said Thursday that the policy against terrorism should be co-related with the national interest.

“The foreign powers are involved in terrorism and destabilization of the country,” said DG ISI.

During a briefing in the National Security Committee session headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, DG ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha said that the western powers are involved in the terror activities of the country.

“The US policy against terrorism is under consideration and the changes will be brought with time in accordance with the national interest,” he said.

According to sources the committee members has demanded the clear changes in the policies against terrorism. SAMAA

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Today’s Cartoon

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Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia

by Rick Rozoff

On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.

That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country’s Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops – those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).

Petraeus’s remarks on the occasion of accepting his new dual command contained the standard U.S. and NATO characterization of their war in Afghanistan as aimed exclusively against armed extremists, in particular those portrayed as fighters from other countries. A representative quote states “al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan.” Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the government of King George III may well have spoken in a similar vein concerning the likes of Johann de Kalb, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Friedrich Von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette illegally entering British territories along the Atlantic Seaboard and waging warfare against the Crown’s troops.

Petraeus arrived in Kabul on July 2, direct from Belgium where he had addressed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 28 member states’ permanent representatives in the North Atlantic Council and representatives of 46 ISAF contributors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Egon Ramms, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, and other senior military staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons. (Two days later at NATO headquarters in Kabul he had two flags bestowed on him, “one for the U.S. and the other for NATO.”) [1]

NATO chief Rasmussen was in Lisbon, Portugal the day Petraeus left Belgium for Afghanistan, in part to prepare for the November summit of the world’s only military bloc there in November, where NATO will adopt its new, 21st century, Strategic Concept and endorse plans for an integrated interceptor missile grid to cover almost the entire European continent in conjunction with, and under the control of, the U.S.

In reference to General Petraeus taking up his new duties, Rasmussen stated at a press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado that “It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy.”

A week after Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan [2], an ephemeral scandal that disappeared as quickly, which is to say instantaneously, as it developed, the U.S. Senate voted as it customarily does in matters of foreign policy – unanimously – and in a 99-0 vote confirmed Petraeus as the new commander of the world’s longest and largest-scale war.

He told Senate members on June 30 that “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

A few days earlier he said of President Barack Obama’s proposed date for beginning the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan that the meaning of that pledge by the president, Petraeus’ commander-in-chief, was “one of urgency – not that July 2011 is when we race for the exits, reach for the light switch and flip it off.” Last December Petraeus asserted that there was no plan for a “rush to the exits” and that there “could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years.” [3]

In May he spoke at an Armed Forces Day dinner in Louisville, Kentucky – on a day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was visiting the same state – and insisted that “the US must continue to send troops to Afghanistan….” [4]

To indicate how thoroughly the Pentagon and NATO are inextricably enmeshed in not only the Afghan campaign but in a far broader and deeper partnership, a few days before Petraeus, speaking of his then-role as chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said that he has striven to “operationalize” U.S.-NATO military integration at CENTCOM “where up to 60 representatives of coalition partner countries serve. In addition, officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia act as representatives of CentCom, increasing further the need to share sensitive information.” [5]

Afghanistan falls within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility and the war in that country is a mechanism for extending the Pentagon’s military contacts, deployments, acquisition of bases and general warfighting interoperability with scores of nations both within and outside CENTCOM’s formal ambit.

In April, three months before taking up his Afghan war post, Petraeus was in Poland – covered by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) – to meet with the nation’s Chief of the General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, discuss the war that has now cost the lives of nineteen Polish soldiers, and disclose that “in a few months a 800-1,000 strong U.S. battalion would reinforce Poland’s ISAF forces in the Afghan province of Ghazni.

“Petraeus said that the U.S. troops would be placed under the Polish commander who is responsible for the province.” [6]

He also met with Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and President Lech Kaczynski as well as delivering a lecture at the National Defence Academy. Kaczynski, who would perish in an airplane crash three days later, presented Petraeus with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Iraq Star. [7]

Other new NATO members in Eastern Europe are equally involved, with the Pentagon employing seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to train Stryker brigades and airborne troops for the war in Afghanistan. [8]

As commander of CENTCOM and superior to General McChrystal in Afghanistan, Petraeus methodically laid the groundwork for expanding the scope of the greater Afghan war throughout his command’s broad geographical reach, the heart of what has been deemed the broader Middle East – from Egypt in the West to Kazakhstan in the East, taking in Iraq and the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and all of Central and much of South Asia. Read more of this post

War in Afghanistan: Illegal, Untenable, and Unwinnable

Rusting T-62 Soviet battle tanks sit in a battle tank graveyard.

by Stephen Lendman

May 30 Delaware County Times editorial headlined, “Is US fighting unwinnable war in Afghanistan” asking:

“Why should America (believe) it can (accomplish what the) Soviet Union (and) Britain couldn’t….? Public sentiment against it is growing, and “Many pundits say the war… can never be won militarily….” How many more “US service member” deaths are tolerable?

On January 21, 2010, Britain’s New Stateman sounded the same theme calling the Afghan war “unwinnable,” recent events showing intensified fighting, rising casualties, and a popular resistance determined to prevail. “Britain should be making plans to withdraw,” the publication concluded. So should America with no right to be there ethically, morally or legally, the war clearly in violation of US and international law like all others US forces waged since WW II.

On June 26, the UK Spectator, published since July 1828, was just as unequivocal, calling US and Kabul leadership “fractious, confused and contradictory, a sure sign that the war is being lost…. Yes, the war in unwinnable. History and time are on the Afghans side.”

Other publications voice the same sentiment, but not American ones, misreporting and backing lawless, losing bet despite souring public sentiment. A new Rasmussen poll shows nearly 60% of US voters believe American forces can’t win or they’re not sure, and 53% said the war isn’t worth the cost. In Britain, nearly two-thirds of the public call the war unwinnable, saying UK forces shouldn’t be there.

A recent Canadian poll showed about two-thirds of the population feel the war can’t be won, 59% of them opposing their country’s involvement. Nearly two-thirds of Australians want their nation’s forces out, and a June 2009 Pew Global Attitudes survey showed public sentiment in three-fourths of the 25 countries surveyed against the war, wanting US and NATO troops withdrawn.

Only in America do major media pundits and editorial writers still back an illegal, unwinnable war, (and the Iraq one), The New York Times, in the lead, calling it “central to American security,” hoping a Petraeus strategy will “genuinely blood(y)” the Taliban, after nearly nine futile years of trying under a dozen Iraq and Afghanistan commanders.

On June 27, Washington Post writer, Greg Jaffe, headlined the frustration saying, “Military disturbed by rapid turnover at top in Afghan, Iraq wars,” commanders falling like tenpins, including Tommy Franks, William Fallon, Ricardo Sanchez, George Casey, David McKiernan, and Stanley McChrystal, sacked not for deriding his superiors, but for losing an unwinnable war, and, in fact, suggesting it like other generals and lower-ranking officers. So do professionals outside the military not reported in the mainstream. More on them below.

UK’s Liberation Party – LP (Hizb ut-Tahir) Report

Founded in 1953, the Liberation Party “works to project a positive image of Islam to Western societies and engages in dialogue with Western thinkers, policymakers and academics.”

Its January 2010 report titled, “Afghanistan & Pakistan: The Unwinnable War” reviewed the war’s futility, recommending “an alternative path for the region,” what’s very much needed but not considered.

Instead, Afghans have suffered brutally under war and occupation — empty promises delivering death, destruction, impoverishment and depravation to a country John Pilger called more of a moonscape than a functioning nation, the result of sustained conflicts, violence and instability.

Today “the West has lost any form of moral authority,” the puppet Karzai regime a farcical caricature of a government — corrupted, inept, and disdainful of its people in collusion with Washington, NATO, war profiteers, drug barons, and brutal warlords, a combination destroying the fabric of life in the country.

Clearly, “The neo-colonial mission has failed,” yet Washington, Britain, and NATO “decided to double down” their bet and devote more resources under a new commander to “finish the job,” an impossible mission short of mass extermination and laying waste to the entire country, turning it all and surrounding areas into moonscapes, perhaps the strategy under the next commander after this one fails and the war drags on, spreads, and inflames the entire Muslim world to a greater degree than already.

No wonder a popular resistance flourishes, supported by growing numbers seeing it as their best chance for liberation no matter what’s next. Priority one is route the occupier and restore national sovereignty, perhaps inspiring Iraqis, Pakistanis, and other Muslim nations to achieve theirs by expunging America’s presence and influence in the region, a malignancy destroying it.

The LP concludes the following:

  • like in Vietnam, the war is unwinnable, occupation producing a never-ending cycle of violence, resentment, hatred and retaliation having a devastating effect on the people;
  • under Washington and NATO, puppet governance is atrocious, corrupt, inept and unacceptable;
  • troop strength at any level can’t prevail; waging war on the Taliban means fighting 50 million Pashtuns supporting them and growing numbers of others;
  • an exit strategy based on Afghan security forces doing NATO’s bidding won’t work; evidence shows no trust and increasing instances of belligerence against occupying troops;
  • calling Al-Qaeda and the Taliban America’s threat is bogus to distract from its real aim — permanent occupation, exploiting Afghanistan’s resources, and using the country as a land-based aircraft carrier against its major rivals, Russia militarily and China economically;
  • “growing and influential voices are now questioning the cost to Pakistan of supporting America’s war;” it’s counter-productive, destabilizing, and destructive to an already troubled nation, weakened further by allying with Washington’s regional wars;
  • America and NATO have no legitimacy in Afghanistan or Iraq; both wars are illegal; the occupations breed resentment, hatred, and a never-ending cycle of violence; both countries deserve their sovereignty, stable economies, “a system consistent with peoples’ values,” freedom from foreign dominance, and new priorities must place popular “needs over the gains of a few or of private enterprise,” exploiters for their own interests.

The LP concludes saying millions share its discontent, suggesting a “politics of hope” over Western war, occupation, corruption and despair. It recommends “a genuine end to the occupation” so Afghans can restore what worked well for 1,300 years before Western invaders showed up. “Unless the scourge of foreign occupation ends, the region will continue” to suffer and be dysfunctional. Once expunged, it can “independently tackle (its) innumerable….challenges (including) unbridled poverty….education (and) rampant corruption, most of all in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israeli-controlled Palestine.”

Healthcare NOT Warfare Campaign Report

Titled “War in Afghanistan: Untenable and Unwinnable,” journalist, Norman Solomon, prepared it in autumn 2009 after visiting the country with others on a fact-finding trip, his itinerary including:

“discussions with top officials to encounters with malnourished refugees, and from briefings at multi-billion dollar agencies to small grassroots NGO offices.”

Eight key findings followed: Read more of this post

Afghans are freedom fighters fighting for their country and fighting for their faith

Afghanistan Sitrep

By William R. Polk

On June 24, the International Herald Tribune published an editorial from its parent, The New York Times, entitled “Obama’s Decision.” Both the attribution – printing in the two newspapers which ensures that the editorial will reach both directly and through subsidiary reprinting almost every “decision maker” in the world – and the date – just before the appointment of David Petraeus to succeed Stanley McChrystal – are significant. They could have suggested a momentary lull in which basic questions on the Afghan war might have been reconsidered.

That did not happen. The President made clear his belief that the strategy of the war was sound and his commitment to continue it even if the general responsible for it had to be changed.

The editorial sounded a different note arising from the events surrounding the fall of General McChrystal: Mr. Obama, said The Times, “must order all of his top advisers to stop their sniping and maneuvering” and come up with a coherent political and military plan for driving back the Taliban and building a minimally effective Afghan government.”

In short, Mr. Obama must get his team together and evolve a plan.

Unfortunately, the task he faces is not that simple.

First, consider the “team.” It has two major components, the military officers whom McChrystal gathered in Kabul. As they made clear in the Rolling Stone interview, they think of themselves as “Team America” and hold in contempt everyone else. Those who don’t fully subscribe to their approach to the war are unpatriotic, stupid or cowardly. Those officers are not alone. Agreeing with them is apparently now a large part of the professional military establishment. They are the junior officers whom David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal have selected, promoted and with whom they take their stand..

The other “component” is not a group but many groups with different agendas and constituencies. The most crucial for my purposes here are the advisers to the President; they were dismissed out of hand as “the wimps in the White House.” Most, but not all, were civilians. Other senior military officers, now retired, who are not part of “Team America” and its adherents were also disparaged. Famously, General Jim Jones, the director of the National Security Council staff, was called a “clown.”

These were the comments that forced Mr. Obama’s hand and were what the press latched upon to explain the events. But many missed the point that McChrystal had just a few days before his dismissal written a devastating report on his mission. Confidential copies of it were obtained by the London newspaper, The Independent on Sunday, which published it today, but of course the President had seen it earlier. Essentially, its message boiled down to failure.

McChrystal pointed out that he faced a “resilient and growing insurgency,” with too few troops and expected no progress in the coming six months. Despite expenditures of at least $7 billion a month, his politico-military strategy wasn’t working. Within weeks of the “victory” over the Taliban in the agricultural district of Marja, the Taliban were back and the box full of government he had announced proved to be nearly empty. As the expression went in the days of the Vietnam war, whatever happened during the day, the guerrillas “owned the night.” As he described it, Marja was the “bleeding ulcer” of the American campaign.

Behind McChrystal’s words, the figures were even more devastating: Marja, despite the descriptions in the press is not a town, much less a city; it is a hundred or so square miles of farm land with dispersed hamlets in which about 35,000 people live and work. Into that small and lightly populated area, McChrystal poured some 15,000 troops, and they failed to secure it.

To appreciate what those figures mean, consider them in context of Petraeus’s counterinsurgency theory, on which McChrystal was basing his strategy. As he had explained it, Marja should be taken, secured and held. Then an administration – McChrystal’s “government in a box” — should be imposed upon it. Despite all the hoopla about the brilliant new strategy, it was hardly new. In fact it was a replay of the strategy the French General Lyautey called the tache d’huile (the oil spot) and applied in Indochina over a century ago. We also tried it in Vietnam, renaming it the “ink spot.” The hope was that the “spot,” once fixed on the Marja, would smudge into adjoining areas and so eventually spread across the country. Clear and simple, but unfortunately, like so much in counterinsurgency theory, it never seemed to work.

Petraeus’s counterinsurgency theory also illuminated how to create the “spot.” What was required was a commitment of forces in proportion to native population size. Various numbers have been put forth but a common number is about one soldier for each 50 inhabitants. Marja was the area chosen for the “spot.” The people living there, after all, were farmers, wedded to the land, and so should be more tractable than the wild warriors along the tribal frontier. Moreover, it was the place where the first significant American aid program, the Helmand Valley Authority, had been undertaken in the late 1950s. So, if an area were to be favorable to Americans, it ought to be Marja. But, to take no chances, General McChrystal decided to employ overwhelming force. So, what is particularly stunning about the failure in Marja is that the force applied was not the counterinsurgency model of 1 soldier for each 50 inhabitants but nearly 1 soldier for each 2 inhabitants.

If these numbers were projected to the planned offensive in the much larger city of Kandahar, which has a population of nearly 500,000, they become impossibly large. Such an attack would require at least four times as many US and NATO as in Marja. That is virtually the entire fighting force and what little control over Marja and most other areas, perhaps even the capital, Kabul, that now exists would have to be given up or else large numbers of additional American troops would have to be engaged. Moreover, in response to such an attack, it would be possible for the insurgents also to redeploy so the numbers would again increase.

The more fundamental question, which needs to be addressed, is why didn’t this relatively massive introduction of troops with awesome and overwhelming fire power succeed. Just a few days before he was fired, as I have mentioned, General McChrystal posed, but could not answer, that question. I hope President Obama is also pondering it.

For those who read history, the answer is evident. But, as I have quoted in my book Understanding Iraq, the great German philosopher, Georg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel, despaired that “Peoples and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it” and, therefore, as the American philosopher George Santayana warned us, not having learned from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Indeed, it seems that each generation of Americans has to start all over again to find the answers. Who among our leaders and certainly among college students now really remembers Vietnam? So, consider these simple facts:

The first fact, whether we like it or not, is that nearly everyone in the world has a deep aversion to foreigners on his land. As far as we know, this feeling goes back to the very beginning of our species because we are territorial animals. Dedication to the protection of homeland permeates history. And the sentiment has never died out. Today we call it nationalism. Nationalism in various guises is the most powerful political idea of our times. Protecting land, culture, religion and people from foreigners is the central issue in insurgency. The former head of the Pakistani intelligence service, who has had unparallelled experience with the Taliban over many years, advised us that we should open our eyes to seeing the Afghan insurgents as they see themselves: “They are freedom fighters fighting for their country and fighting for their faith.” We agreed when they were fighting the Russians; now, when many of the same people are fighting us, we see them only as terrorists. That label does not help us understand why they are fighting. Read more of this post

General McChrystal – The Conscientious Objector

By General Mirza Aslam Beg

A soldier has the right to disagree with the higher civil and military command, but there is a method in doing so, and the way General McChrystal expressed his dissent, was no doubt, ‘unbecoming of an officer’. Perhaps, he lost his sense of discretion, under influences, beyond his control, as one of his close associates remarked: “he worked in a very right inner circle, doing every thing together including getting drunk.” However, there are some important aspects, connected with this incident, which need to be analyzed.

President Obama, as we all know had promised, while campaigning for the presidential elections that he will pull out troops from Afghanistan, engaged in a purposeless war and also made a firm commitment to address the Kashmir issue, but on assuming the office of the president, he reneged on both the issues. He caved-into pressure by ‘the military high command and the defense industries lobby’ for a military solution and a troop surge, although it was easy for him to say: “President Bush has accomplished the mission in Afghanistan, and therefore, I have decided to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.” The Americans and the NATO allies would have hailed this decision. On Kashmir, the Indian lobby forced him to restrict Holbrook’s responsibility to Afghanistan and Pakistan only. Now, Obama is in a stronger position, to carve-out a realistic exit-strategy.

McChrystal, no doubt, was frustrated at his failure to achieve military success, whereas, General Petreaus was able to achieve a degree of success in Iraq. General Petreaus exploited the ethnic divide in Iraq and mounted a successful strategy to divide the Shia-Sunni population, through a process of ethnic cleansing, ethnic riots and target killings, using Black water security agency. On the contrary there is no such ethnic divide in Afghanistan. The Pakhtuns are fighting the invaders, while the Northern Alliance, consisting of the minorities mainly supported the invaders and rode the American tanks to occupy Afghanistan in 2001. Together with the occupation forces, they also stand defeated.

The Afghans have won, and therefore peace conditions are to be established, on this ground reality. David Miliband rightly suggests: “The legitimate tribal and ethnic groups must be given real stake in the political process, a peace settlement in which we include the vanquished, as well as the victors.” Obama, therefore has to initiate the political process, for the peaceful settlement of the eight year long, purposeless and brutal war, and the step that, he has to take, must be well-considered and appropriate. As the first step he must engage and enter into dialogue with the Taliban, under Mullah Umar and remove the trust deficit and reach agreement on the basic issues, such as: Time frame of withdrawal of the occupation forces; declare ceasefire; remove the ban on Taliban freedom movement; release all Taliban prisoners, and negotiate a political settlement, with full realization that, trying to establish a democratic authority on a country with a tradition of decentralized governance, would prove counter productive.

The Karzai government at best can act as the facilitator, for the negotiations with the Taliban who may be willing to call a Loe Jirga to decide the formation of a national government, and the new constitution of the future political setup. Other important issues such as these must also be considered and consensus arrived at:

  • The status of US-Afghan relations, in the post independence period.
  • Guarantees for no-use of Afghan territory for militants activities against other countries.
  • Firm commitments from the UNO, USA. NATO and Russia to pay for the war damages and a Marshal Plan to rebuild Afghanistan.
  • Complete independence and freedom for the future Afghan government, to establish diplomatic, economic and socio-cultural relations with all countries of the world.

Pakistan has had the best of relations with Afghanistan, during the 80’s, but distrust, doubts and apprehensions were created in Afghans’ mind, when Pakistan’s ISI, which had supported and conducted the war against Soviet occupation, was pulled-out of Afghanistan during the 1990 under the American pressure. In the second phase, ISI was purged of all such operators, who had good contact with the Mujahideen, but the greatest damage to Pakistan’s security was caused in 2003, when Musharraf, pulled-out the ISI and other intelligence agencies from our own tribal areas of Swat, FATA and Balochistan, and the space so created was handed over to CIA, to be joined by the Indian spy network established in Afghanistan, with the result that, our entire border region was infested with foreign spies, agents and saboteurs, who fomented trouble in our tribal belt, threatening Islamabad and Peshawar and an out right rebellion in Balochistan, thus creating a very serious security lapse for Pakistan. The new government formed in 2008, therefore, decided to restore the writ of the government, in these areas and ordered steam-roller military actions in Swat, Dir, Bajaur and South Waziristan. Read more of this post

Hampering Pak-China nuclear deal

Dr Raja Muhammad Khan

In the wake of ongoing misperceptions, China has clarified that it will provide nuclear reactors to Pakistan under the years old nuclear deal. As clarified by Qin Gang, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, that the, “the nuclear cooperation between the two countries was for peaceful purposes and are “totally consistent” with its international obligations and safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency”. Under the deal, “China will export two nuclear power reactors to Pakistan in a USD 2.375-billion agreement.

New Delhi and Washington objects that this deal will breach the international protocol, regarding the trade of nuclear equipment and material. U.S also object that this deal will overstep “the guidelines of the 46-country Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which bars nuclear commerce between Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members like China and non-member states like Pakistan”. Indeed, Pak-China Nuclear Deal was concluded in 1986, when China was neither the member of NSG nor it had signed the NPT. China signed the NPT in 1992 and became the member of NSG in 2004. By 2004, almost ¾th progresses had already been made on the deal between Pakistan and China. Therefore, neither of the two is applicable in case of this deal. Furthermore, the ‘Indo-US Nuclear Deal-2005’ later finalized in 2008, provides the precedence, and actually has opened the door for any such like deal in the future. Indeed, after setting precedence by itself, U.S has no legal and moral grounds to object the Pak-China Nuclear Deal.

United States otherwise cannot afford to object this deal, as it has lot of stakes attached to China or Pakistan. Chinese consent is essential for imposing the enhanced sanctions on Iran, currently underway. The issue of North Korean nuclearization and security threats it is posing to other regional countries like South Korea cannot be resolved without the assistance from the China. On the economic fronts, US stakes are quite high. Economists’ view that the falling US economy has been sustained by China largely, as US is biggest trade partner of China at the global level. As regards Pakistan, United States cannot stay a day in Afghanistan without the active support of Pakistan. It is otherwise loosing the Afghan war and need Pakistani assistance more than earlier. Otherwise, on the issue of Indo-US Nuclear Deal, China did not oppose as a member of NSG. Now, once China is providing only a friction of that to Pakistan, why should US obstruct it?

Pakistani Foreign Office has rejected the Indo-US concerns over the Pak-China civil nuclear deal. The spokesperson said that, “Pakistan-China civil nuclear cooperation is going on for years. Our cooperation is under the relevant IAEA safeguards. Therefore concerns, if any, are misplaced”. While tracing the history of Pak-China Civil Nuclear, it is pertinent to note that, a Comprehensive Nuclear cooperation Agreement between Pakistan and then Foreign Minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan and his Chinese counterpart in the presence of Chinese Premier and PAEC chairperson Dr. Munir A. Khan signed China on September 15, 1986 at Beijing. The salient clauses of the agreement include that, China would construct; four nuclear plants in Pakistan namely; Chasma 1, 2, 3 and 4 by 2011.

Regarding the mandate of and origin of NSG, it was created after the nuclear test of India in 1974, once India diverted the fuel meant for the atom for peace to its weapon programme. If India, the primary proliferators, could be given such a concession by the NSG, why Pakistan be deprived from it. Indeed, India got this by US to counter the China. About its legality of NSG, it was created in 1975 to regulate and standardize the nuclear trade, in reaction to Indian misuse of nuclear material. Its creation was not through an international treaty, but is an international cartel of nuclear technology suppliers.

US officials consider that countries that have not signed the NPT so far cannot be granted the facility. The super power is perhaps overlooking the aspects that India is also a non-signatory to NPT. US also consider that, “Additional nuclear cooperation with Pakistan beyond those specific projects that were grandfathered in 2004 would require consensus approval” However, Pakistan and China rejects these, since it is like, “the pot calling the kettle black”. Indeed, “US had not only violated the NPT, but had also violated the Hyde Act 2006, (by finalising a similar deal with India regarding cooperation on nuclear energy for peaceful purposes).” Since the Pak-China deal would be under the IAEA safeguards, therefore, there would be no legal hurdle in its finalization. In the mean time the Chinese Foreign Ministry has clarified that the deal is in accordance with the international law, therefore, rejects the Indian and American objections. Read more of this post

The Three Amigos: India, America, Israel

By Badri Raina

That both under the erstwhile NDA regime, led by Atal Bihari Vajpai of the right-wing Hindu BJP (1998-2004) and the UPA regime (s) led by Manmohan Singh of the Congress Party (2004-2009, and since) a central feature of India’s foreign policy has been to draw closer to both the United States and Israel is not such a hidden feature of India’s post-reforms history anymore.

The more than considerate attentiveness to the interests of American corporates of course has been a long-term constant.

What I seek to do here is not so much to detail these histories as to draw a skein related to diverse episodes, one that seems intricately revelatory of a coherent macro policy intent, always latent among the Indian ruling classes but now more than ever in full bloom.

The Bhopal Mass Murder & Indian Collaboration with Carbide::

The details of this are by now too well-known to require iteration. Suffice it to say that on the night of December 3, 1984, lethal quantities of Methyl Isocyanate escaped from the Union Carbide factory, as water entered tank no.610.

Within hours, some 2500 citizens, most of them poor Muslims, lost their lives.

Since then, a total of 20,000 are estimated to have perished, and hundreds of thousands either maimed, or rendered permanenly disabled.

The only known antidote to the lethal gas, Sodium Thiosulphate, could not be reached the victims for one disingenuous reason or another. Forensic experts, fudged their reports, causing distortions in investigations over a long period.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did, however, manage to file a chargesheet against Company officials in 1987. The charges included one under section 304 II of the Penal Code, “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” punishable by upto ten years in jail, a charge based on prior knowledge of the Company management that lacunae in the safety regulations at the plant, which did not correspond to safety features of a similar Carbide plant in West Virginia, could lead to disaster, and on their refusal to rectify the same despite admonitions and demands made that they do so. Ostensibly, to keep the costs of running the plant in check!

Whatever the other details, all in the public eye now several times over, the point of interest here is how Warren Anderson, the then CEO of UCIL was dealt with, and, secondly, how the highest court in India chose to view the matter.

That Anderson managed to escape the country is common knowledge; but only now do we know how that ignoble escape was facilitated.

And this we know from no less than the then Collector of the city of Bhopal, Moti Singh., from the officer who manned the airport at Bhopal, and the pilot who flew the plane that brought Anderson to Delhi, literally the very day the disaster happened.

Without mincing matters, the honourable Moti Singh has gone on record to say that on the evening of December 4, while Anderson was in local custody, Shri Singh received a call from the Chief Secretary, the highest ranking bureaucrat within the Indian system of government, to the effect that he wished to confer with Singh and the then Superintendent of Police.

At that meeting, Singh and the S.P were directed to release Anderson and to take him to the airport where a plane was waiting to fly him to Delhi.

It turns out that the state-owned plane was made available by the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Arjun Singh. Arjun Singh, it may be said, has always foregrounded himself in politics as a staunch secularist, and a diehard opponent of Hindutva communalism. Most of the those killed in Bhopal were Muslims.

Just today, an Arjun Singh acolyte and erstwhile chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, has told the media that Arjun Singh was not to blame for Anderson’s great escape. He has pointed a finger at the then central government, led by the late Rajiv Gandhi, and at American “pressure.” Even as other Congress leaders, such as Satyavrat Chaudhary who was a Legislator in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly have said that it is for Arjun Singh, the then Congress chief minister, to break his silence to the nation.

It is a matter of interest that never in the last quarter century has such a demand been made by anyone,whether in the Congress or the BJP, a clear pointer to the fact that collaboration with American corporate interests cuts across party lines (leaving out the Left) and speaks for the ruling class per se.

One Indian media house claims now to have accessed a CIA file on the issue that records that Anderson’s exit was authorised by the then central government inorder not to jeopordise American corporate investments in India at a time when such investments were direly needed.

Were one to think of a parallel to the obscene escape of the Carbide CEO from the country and from liability, what comes to mind is the great escape of the whole Bin Laden clan from Texas, hours after the twin towers were hit, all in a plane made available by the Bush family. Indeed, it was the only plane allowed to leave the United States

in the wake of 9/11.

Thus, if the Indian rulers obliged the American corporate, the Americans obliged the Saudi oil bigwigs with whom the Bush family had intimate business relations.. Cute, cosy, and consistent with how global Capitalism works.

In Delhi, Anderson reportedly had a meeting with the then President of India, Giani Zail Singh. Next anybody knew, Anderson was off to safety in the United States where he has been spotted living a rich and comfy life in a mansion in New York.

Thus, although he remains an absconder-accused, prime one at that, and although an extradition treaty exists between India and the United States, the world has not exactly been turned upside down by any subsequent government in India to seek his return to face trial, nor is the US government likely to send him over. Indeed, recent statements of US spokesmen suggest in no unclear terms that such is farthest from their minds. Even as they also argue that Union Carbide, America, has no liability in the matter, nor Dow Chemicals which cannily took over Union Carbide India Ltd., inorder that further culpability of the UCIL could be snuffed in legalese.

In that endeavour, it now turns out, they also had support from within the government of India, Kamal Nath and Chidambaram, two influential ministers thought to be close to the United States and votaries of market fundamentalism, having forcefully argued against others that Dow should not be hauled up if investments from American corporates are to be encouraged.

Dow chemicals operations continue in the state of Maharashtra, ruled by the Congress, and in Gujarat, ruled by the BJP, and a ban on the corporate has never been on the table.

Tail Piece

The sordid conspiracy to favour the corporate found its final expression in a ruling of the Supreme Court which held that the principle of vicarious responsibility did not apply in the case, and proceeded to water down the Chargesheet to “ criminal negligence”(Section 304 A) as it quashed the charge of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder.” This in 1996.

The then Chief Justice subsequently took over as lifetime chairman of the Carbide –funded Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, set up under the aegis of the Supreme Court of India. He is not embarrassed.

Thus, after a quarter century of the event, some seven or eight of the management of the then UCIL have been found guilty of “negligence” and convicted to a maximum of 2 years in prison!

But, not to fret, they are also promptly out on bail.

One other thing: the medical data from the disaster was consistently sought to be suppressed by the Indian Council of Medical Research

In the meanwhile, thousands of victims in Bhopal still have no redress to sustained medication, some 325 tons of toxic waste remains at and around the site (statement by the current Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh) as the water pipes continue to receive that lethal contamination.

Not to mention the other perfidy; an out of court settlement with the corporate to the measly tune of some 470 million dollars, amounting at last count to some 300 dollars or less per affected victim! A half of the declared victims yet to receive any.

When the Exxon Valdex spilled oil off the coast of Alaska (1989—five years after the Bhopal disaster), the damages were fixed at one billion dollars. Clearly, bird life in America was of greater value than the 20,000 human beings who died in Bhopal and the many thousands who have been maimed across generations.

And now, when after the BP spill in the gulf of Mexico, Obama seeks to “kick some ass” and reverse legislation that caps liability in the US at $75 million after the Alaska event under the oil lobby pressure, and to introduce criminal liability provisions, the Indian government is sought to be pressurized to cap Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages through parliamentary legislation at Rs.500 crores.

In other words, were a Chernobyl or a Three Mile Island to happen at a US corporate nuclear plant in India, the damages would be civil only, and about a half of that which was settled for the Bhopal disaster out of court! And, only the “operator” would be thus liable. Read, the Indian component of the management and not representatives or managers of the supplier company. Not the nuclear Andersons.

In the proposed new Liability Bill, significantly, section 17(b) which asks for “right to recourse” if a “nuclear incident has resulted from wilful or gross negligence on the part of the supplier or his employee” is sought now to be dropped under pressure from the American nuclear lobby and government.

The Israeli-Indian State-Hindutva Connect:

The total trade between India and Israel in 2001 was $200 million. By now that has grown to $4.1 billion. India is today the world’s biggest buyer of Israeli military hardware, to a tune of $9 billion. India is also currently weighing a most-favoured Free Trade Agreement with a country that was during the Nehru era the pariah of the Indian foregn policy establishment. It is thought that close cooperation now exists between Indian spy agencies and the Israeli Mossad, who have been in and out of the country recently.

The most recent evidence of the closeness has come in the form of the statement issued by the Indian foreign office on the Gaza-aid flotilla event. The statement, while deploring violent means to settle the dispute, does not name Israel.

But an even more sinister link has thus far been invisible to the pubic eye—one that concerns a connect between Hindu terrorist organizations and counterparts in Israel.

Between 2002 (the year of the Gujarat carnage) and 2009, a series of bomb blasts took place in
India, curiously all in areas dominated by Muslims:

  • 2002: IED found at Bhopal railway station, aimed in all likelihood at Muslims gathering for a Tablighi conclave;
  • 2003: bomb blast at Mohammadiya mosque in Parbhani, Maharashtra; and a bomb again found at Bhopal on the last day of a Tablighi meet;
  • 2004: blasts at mosques and a Madarasa in Purna, and Jalna in Maharashtra;
  • 2006: two Bajrang Dal activists killed in Nanded, Maharashtra, as the bomb they were making exploded;

—- blasts at three places in Malegaon, targeting a mosque and graveyard   on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat; 38 killed; Maharashtra;

  • 2007: Feb.,18, 68 killed in a double suitcase bomb blast on the Samjhauta Express, a friendship train between India and Pakistan; of those 42 Pakistani nationals;

—in May (16th) blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad city; two Bajrang Dal activists again killed in Kanpur while assembling a bomb;

—October, 11: blast at the eight hundred year old Chishti Dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan;

  • 2008: a blast again at Malegaon in Maharashtra, and another at Modasa in Gujarat;
  • 2009: two die while carrying a bomb on the eve of the festival of Diwali in Margao, Goa.

In all these cases, the investigating agencies promptly named one Muslim organization or the other as the culprit., hauled up hundreds of young Muslims, and used torture to draw “confessions.”

Until, that is, thanks to the exemplary and fair-minded efforts of the late Hemant Karkare, investigations revealed the hand of Hindu organizations in the Malegaon blast of 2008, leading to the arrest of Lt.Col. Srikanth Purohit, Dayanand Pandey, and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Read more of this post

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