Militarization of the African Continent

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The US-NATO Conquest of Africa

by Rick Rozoff:

The world’s oldest extant military bloc (formed 61 years ago) and the largest in history (twenty eight full members and as many partners on five continents), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, counts among its major member states all of Africa’s former colonial powers: Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

After World War II and the groundswell of anti-colonial sentiment throughout Africa and Asia, the European powers were forced to withdraw from most of the African continent, though Portugal retained its possessions until the 1970s.

Most every new African nation adopted some model of socialist-oriented economic and political development and the continent as a whole more closely aligned itself with the Soviet Union, which moreover had for decades supported the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, than with the West, both Western Europe and the United States.

With the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union nearly twenty years ago, the major Western powers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, united under the aegis of NATO, saw that as with the Balkans and the former republics of the Soviet Union itself, Africa was now wide open for penetration and domination.

NATO’s largest, most powerful and dominant member is of course the United States. On October 1, 2007 the Pentagon established United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) under the temporary wing of United States European Command, which at the time included in its area of responsibility all of Africa except for four island nations in the Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa states and Egypt. (The first were in Pacific Command and the others in Central Command where Egypt, alone among Africa’s 53 nations, remains.)

A year to the day later AFRICOM was launched as the first new U.S. regional military command outside North America since Central Command was activated 25 years earlier in 1983. It takes in far more nations – 52 – than any other military command in history.

AFRICOM was conceived, carried, nurtured and delivered by the Pentagon’s European Command (EUCOM), based inStuttgart, Germany where AFRICOM headquarters are also based as no nation in Africa has yet volunteered to be the host.

The top commander of EUCOM is “dual-hatted” as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and has been from General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951 to Admiral James Stavridis today.

The three top EUCOM/NATO military commanders most instrumental in the creation of AFRICOM were General Joseph Ralston (2000-2003), General James Jones (2003-2006) and General Bantz John Craddock (2006-2009). Arguably Jones, former Marine Corps four-star general and current U.S. National Security Adviser, was the real father of Africa Command. [1]

The distinction between the Pentagon and NATO in relation to Europe and Africa – and increasingly the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea Basin, Central Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean – is blurred and more and more of a strictly formal nature.

NATO has now joined AFRICOM’s first war, in Somalia.
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On The Road To Armageddon

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Robert Singer:

For the last three days the most popular article on OpedNews, a tough progressive website, has been The Road to Armageddon:

“Inside the Beltway” report, “Explosive News,” about the 31 press conferences in cities in the US and abroad on February 19 held by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, an organization of professionals which now has 1,000 members.

By the Honorable Paul Craig Roberts, scholar, academic, journalist and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.

The Road to Armageddon is a wildly popular story about the most popular story on the Washington Times website.

Roberts was surprised that the news report on “How did three World Trade Center skyscrapers suddenly disintegrate into fine dust?” was treated seriously.

Why is Paul Craig Roberts, and The Washington Times, a newspaper that looks with favor upon the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neocon wars of aggression, reporting:

“A thousand architects and engineers want to know, and are calling on Congress to order a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7,”

This is information deliberately announced publicly or leaked by a government or an intelligence agency to sow confusion and undermine credibility.

Let’s get real, what are these stories doing in the mainstream media 8½ years after the September 11 attacks?

Answer: They promote the erroneous controlled demolition theory on the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Former President George W. Bush’s comment, “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories” aired on national television after the attacks of 9/11.

Google “9/11 conspiracy and you get 134,000,000 results.

Google “9/11 outrageous conspiracy you get 556,000 results.

There is a 9/11-truth movement in every major city in the United States.

9/11 conspiracy theories are allowed and even encouraged.

The 9/11 Truth Movement is the Cover for a Metaphysical Catechism (Test)

I’ll get right to the point, I have read the books and watched the documentaries on September 11 for three years and the 9/11 official story:

Nineteen fanatical Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden, crash airplanes into steel skyscrapers because they “hate our freedom to consume”. Inexplicably the jet fuel, which is basically kerosene that burns at about 400c, took on the qualities of an explosive demolition agent, vaporizing 70 tons of aircraft into a puff of smoke and causing 110-story buildings to collapse into a pile of rubble.

Is so stupid that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld didn’t really expect you to believe it.

A jet fuel fire brought down two of the tallest buildings in the world: Improbable, to say the least. [1]

Millions believe a LIHOP (Let it Happen on Purpose) version thanks to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, because their brain tells them the U.S. government killed 3,000 American citizens to pass the Patriot Act, build up the military and invade Afghanistan and Iraq. [2]

Everyone else, after you point out the obvious (110 stories of steel and concrete collapsing at free fall speed), thinks about it for a New York Second and realizes the official story is ridiculous and couldn’t be true.

Then, they come to the false conclusion it was a MIHOP (Made it Happen on Purpose): Bush, Cheney, and the Neocons killed 3,000 Americans so they could pass the Patriot Act, build up the military and invade Afghanistan and Iraq, an inside job.
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Destabilizing Pakistan – Operation Breakfast Redux

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


Operation Breakfast Redux

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.”

Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent. And countless civilian deaths in the 1st two months of 2010........

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.

Unraveling Pakistan

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

NATO Expansion, Missile Deployments And Russia’s New Military Doctrine

Developments related to military and security matters in Europe and Asia have been numerous this month and condensed into less than a week of meetings, statements and initiatives on issues ranging from missile shield deployments to the unparalleled escalation of the world’s largest war and from a new security system for Europe to a new Russian military doctrine.

A full generation after the end of the Cold War and almost that long since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the past week’s events are evocative of another decade and another century. Twenty or more years ago war in Afghanistan and controversial missile placements in Europe were current news in a bipolar world.

Twenty years afterward, with no Soviet Union, no Warsaw Pact and a greatly diminished and truncated Russia, the United States and NATO have militarized Europe to an unprecedented degree – in fact subordinating almost the entire continent under a Washington-dominated military bloc – and have launched the most extensive combat offensive in South Asia in what is already the longest war in the world.

Of 44 nations in Europe and the Caucasus (excluding microstates and the NATO pseudo-state of Kosovo), only six – Belarus, Cyprus, Malta, Moldova, Russia and Serbia – have escaped having their citizens conscripted by NATO for deployment to the Afghan war front. That number will soon shrink yet further.

Of those 44 countries, only two – Cyprus and Russia – are not members of NATO or its Partnership for Peace transitional program and Cyprus is under intense pressure to join the second.

On February 4 and 5 all 28 NATO defense chiefs met for two days of deliberations in Istanbul, Turkey which concentrated on the war in Afghanistan, the bloc’s military deployment in Kosovo and accelerated plans for expanding a world-wide interceptor missile system to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. That gathering followed by eight days a two-day meeting of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels which included 63 military chiefs from NATO nations and 35 Troop Contributing Nations, as the bloc designates them, including the top military commanders of Israel and Pakistan. That conference focused on the Afghan war and NATO’s new Strategic Concept to be officially formalized at an Alliance summit later this year.

The commander of all 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, attended both two-day meetings. Pentagon chief Robert Gates presided over the second and “Afghanistan and missile defense are examples of the new priorities that Gates wants NATO to focus on.” [1]

As indicated by the number of Chiefs of Defense Staff in attendance at the Brussels meetings – 63 – NATO’s reach has been extended far beyond Europe and North America over the past decade. Troops serving under the bloc’s command in Afghanistan come from every inhabited continent, the Middle East and Oceania: Australia has the largest non-member contingent with over 1,500 soldiers, and other non-European nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have troops in Afghanistan or on the way there.

On the day the Istanbul NATO defense ministers meeting began Romanian President Traian Basescu announced that he had granted the Obama administration’s request to base U.S. interceptor missiles in his nation, following by five weeks the news that U.S. Patriot anti-ballistic missiles would be stationed in a part of Poland a half hour drive from Russia’s westernmost border.

The next day, February 5, which marked two months since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the U.S. and Russia regulating the reduction of nuclear weapons and delivery systems expired, [2] the Russian Interfax news agency announced that “President Dmitry Medvedev has endorsed Russia’s military doctrine and basic principles of its nuclear deterrence policy in the period up to 2020….” [3]

The same source cited Security Council Deputy Secretary and former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Yury Baluyevsky commenting on the new doctrine: “It is planned to develop the ground, sea, and aerial components of the nuclear triad….Russia needs to guarantee its consistent democratic development using such a stability guarantor as nuclear weapons, as a form of strategic deterrence….Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons only if its very existence as a state is endangered.” [4]

Commentary in the Indian daily The Hindu specified that “The doctrine details 11 external military threats to Russia, seven of which are traced to the West. NATO´s eastward expansion and its push for a global role are identified as the number one threat to Russia.”

The feature added: “The U.S. is the source of other top threats listed in the doctrine even though the country is never mentioned in the document. These include attempts to destabilise countries and regions and undermine strategic stability; military build-ups in neighbouring states and seas; the creation and deployment of strategic missile defences, as well as the militarisation of outer space and deployment of high-precision non-nuclear strategic systems.”

Regarding the timing of the authorization of Russia’s new military strategy, the report connected it with recent U.S. missile shield decisions and the START talks between Washington and Moscow still dragging on.

“The new defence doctrine was signed into law and published a day after Romania announced plans to deploy U.S. interceptor missiles as part of a global missile shield fiercely opposed by Russia. Earlier reports said the Kremlin had been holding back the doctrine, prepared last year, because it did not want to jeopardise talks with the U.S. on a new nuclear arms pact that are still going on.” [5]

A similar observation was made in a report from China’s Xinhua News Agency:

“Analysts say the Romanian decision came at a crucial moment when Washington and Moscow are about to sign a successor document to the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1). Therefore, the move may upset the thawing Russia-U.S. relations and put their bilateral ties to test.” [6]

The new Russian Military Doctrine (in Russian at http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/461) listed under the heading of “Main external threats of war” the following concerns, with the most pressing first: Read more of this post

Afghanistan and NATO: Figleaf Summit

Eric Walberg | The plan voiced at the London Afghanistan conference to pay off the Taliban is belied by the plan at the Brussels NATO conference two days earlier to bomb them into submission.

London has been the venue of a three-ring Middle East circus over the past month. There is the ongoing Chilcot inquiry into the (il)legality of British participation in the invasion of Iraq. Two of the five committee members are Zionists — Sir Martin Gilbert a militant Zionist, and Sir Lawrence Freedman the drafter of Blair’s invasion policy. Despite the deck being stacked, witness after witness has testified the invasion was illegal, and former British prime minister Tony Blair was booed after telling the inquiry he has no regrets.

Then there was an impromptu conference on “saving” Yemen, which the five major Yemeni opposition parties denounced as “intended to save the political regime in Yemen.” Yemen is described by a British official as “Afghanistan with a sea”.

Just as farcical was last week’s summit on Afghanistan, called to “move the international effort forward in key areas of security, governance, development, and regional support.” In reality, it was a cosmetic follow-up to the war council held two days earlier at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where the NATO Military Committee met, bringing together the chiefs of defence of all 28 member states along with 35 “partners”, wannabes and observers — an astounding 63 nations.

The news from Afghanistan is uniformly chilling. US military deaths this January were more than double last year’s record figure. Insurgents are carrying out one daring attack after another across the country, prompting NATO to launch Israeli drones in the attempt to terrify Afghans into submission. A fierce eight-hour attack on UN headquarters in Helmand last week came, ironically, as Karzai and UN Special Representative Kai Eide served up olive branches to the Taliban, removing some from their terror list and offering them a half billion dollars. Eide claims negotiations have begun, though Taliban spokesmen dismiss the offers and talk of talks.

The conferees in London piously asked that the Taliban give up their links with Al-Qaeda and stop threatening the world. But the Taliban have never tried to export their beliefs. And the supposed link with Al-Qaeda is a false flag, since the Taliban and Al-Qaeda (to what extent it even exists) have never been operating together — until recently, when the NATO surge and Pakistani offensive against its own Taliban picked up steam, presumably boosting Al-Qaeda enlistment and encouraging the very cooperation that the West is supposedly against.

US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke understands this, as revealed by his statement to reporters on the sidelines of the London summit that more than “two-thirds of the Taliban are not extremists.” Ergo, if Obama wants to rid the world of the Al-Qaeda threat, the logical thing would be to stop invading Muslim countries and inciting the people to take up arms and work with any forces against the invaders.

The Karzai regime is by now entirely threadbare. Only London summiteers give Karzai a soapbox anymore. And the only sign of democracy in Afghanistan these days are the occasional demos by Afghans hopelessly protesting the torture and murder of their loved ones by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops. What is clearer each day is that the US invasion has now hardened into a civil war, with some poverty-stricken Afghans reluctantly pretending to be an army paid in dollars to face their Muslim brothers who are fighting for their country and their faith, a horrifying reality that can only mean continuing slaughter until the invaders flee.

The poor UN is flailing about helplessly in the quagmire, supporting the US in its occupation, but at the same time, warning that “widespread and systematic” secret detention of terror suspects could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity. Western troops, notably the US and Canadian, have been arresting “suspects” and sending them to secret detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. These night raids have become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The scandal hit the Canadian government last month and forced the Conservatives there to shut down parliament to stave off an investigation which would most likely lead to their own demise.

At the real Afghanistan conference — the war council in Brussels, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, with tongue bitterly in cheek, offered to rebuild the infrastructure and factories the Soviet Union built during its own ill-fated attempt to bring Afghanistan into the 20th c, undermined by US arms supplied to US-backed mujaheddin in the 1980-90s. He understandably wants this to be funded by the West, since it was responsible for the destruction in the first place.

Rogozin told Der Speigel that Russia is far more concerned about the flow of heroin that became a flood after the US invasion, rather than any possible military threat from the Taliban. “Each year, 30,000 human lives are lost in Russia because of Afghan heroin.” He did not spell this out in detail, but is no doubt aware that US forces are actually abetting the smuggling, as documented by many sources, including former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, who himself witnessed the pretend-border controls on the Afghanistan-Uzbekistan border in 2004. Scanners and sniffing dogs were simply bypassed by the chief smuggler — current Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan Army Abdel Rashid Dostum, a native Uzbek who has close working relations with Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov. Rogozin accused NATO forces of ignoring the problem: “They think it’s not their problem, because Afghan heroin mostly goes to Central Asia and Russia.”

The proposal by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and NATO General Secretary Fogh Rasmussen to double the Afghan Security Forces, soldiers and police to a level of 300,000 and speed up the withdrawal of foreign troops prompted a nervous Karzai to predict that foreign troops would be needed for 10-15 years.

Perhaps a few Taliban really have sat down with UN reps, possibly to draw them in with false promises. Not surprisingly, many starving young Afghans are willing to sell out their brothers to feed themselves and their families. But the many instances of Afghan police, soldiers — even translators — defecting to the Taliban, or suddenly turning on their masters and collaborators and killing them before themselves dying as martyrs or escaping to freedom should be a warning to the occupiers.

This is intuitively understood by most Westerners, whether or not they admire the fighters. Despite uniformly pro-war media in the West, a majority of Canadians and Europeans (even occasionally Americans) realise the war is pointless, and want their troops to come home immediately. Germans are 80 per cent against sending further forces. Only because German Chancellor Angel Merkel’s Christian Democrats faced a divided opposition and apathetic electorate was she able to stay on as leader and offer up her soldiers to the US in some kind of gruesome, misguided sacrificial offering for Germany’s many past sins.

The occupation of Afghanistan was not an unpremeditated blunder, just as with the occupation of Iraq or the possible occupation of Yemen. The wars are part of the extension of US power to all corners of the globe, a process that has quietly been accelerating in the past two decades, confirmed last week by US proconsul Hillary Clinton’s presence at both the Yemen and Afghanistan conferences in London, as well as their outcomes.

The current composition of ISAF reflects this consolidation, with troops from South America, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, all the way to Korea, New Zealand and possibly soon India. Even Jordan, Egypt and the UAE have support personnel helping out. Consider for a moment: troops from all these countries and continents are, under US command, fighting a war in Central Asia, with the UN scurrying in behind them to give the whole operation a patina of respectability.

The fact that the mightiest war machine in history is being tripped up by a handful of ragged-trousered, determined young men is astounding. Obama’s vow to start evacuating (excuse me, withdrawing) troops by next year, despite Gates’ blustering denial and Karzai’s hopes, now hovers over this criminal adventure as a sword of Damocles.

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