Archive for December, 2009

Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery

Dred Scott Redux: Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery

Chris Floyd – uruknet.info December 18, 2009

While we were all out doing our Christmas shopping, the highest court in the land quietly put the kibosh on a few more of the remaining shards of human liberty.

It happened earlier this week, in a discreet ruling that attracted almost no notice and took little time. In fact, our most august defenders of the Constitution did not have to exert themselves in the slightest to eviscerate not merely 220 years of Constitutional jurisprudence but also centuries of agonizing effort to lift civilization a few inches out of the blood-soaked mire that is our common human legacy. They just had to write a single sentence.

Here’s how the bad deal went down. After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever – save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

This extraordinary ruling occasioned none of those deep-delving “process stories” that glut the pages of the New York Times, where the minutiae of policy-making or political gaming is examined in highly-spun, microscopic detail doled out by self-interested insiders. Obviously, giving government the power to render whole classes of people “unpersons” was not an interesting subject for our media arbiters. It was news that wasn’t fit to print. Likewise, the ruling provoked no thundering editorials in the Washington Post, no savvy analysis from the high commentariat – and needless to say, no outrage whatsoever from all our fierce defenders of individual liberty on the Right.

But William Fisher noticed, and gave this report at Antiwar.com:

“In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former Guantanamo prisoners against former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the detainees’ lawyers charged Tuesday that the country’s highest court evidently believes that “torture and religious humiliation are permissible tools for a government to use.”

”…Channeling their predecessors in the George W. Bush administration, Obama Justice Department lawyers argued in this case that there is no constitutional right not to be tortured or otherwise abused in a U.S. prison abroad.

”The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By agreeing, the court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court, which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” – did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law.

”The lower court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.”

The Constitution is clear: no person can be held without due process; no person can be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. And the U.S. law on torture of any kind is crystal clear: it is forbidden, categorically, even in time of “national emergency.” And the instigation of torture is, under U.S. law, a capital crime. No person can be tortured, at any time, for any reason, and there are no immunities whatsoever for torture offered anywhere in the law.

And yet this is what Barack Obama – who, we are told incessantly, is a super-brilliant Constitutional lawyer – has been arguing in case after case since becoming president: Torturers are immune from prosecution; those who ordered torture are immune from prosecution. They can’t even been sued for, in the specific case under review, subjecting uncharged, indefinitely detained captives to “beatings, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, extreme hot and cold temperatures, death threats, interrogations at gunpoint, and threatened with unmuzzled dogs.”

Again, let’s be absolutely clear: Barack Obama has taken the freely chosen, public, formal stand – in court – that there is nothing wrong with any of these activities. Nothing to answer for, nothing meriting punishment or even civil penalties. What’s more, in championing the lower court ruling, Barack Obama is now on record as believing — insisting — that torture is an ordinary, “foreseeable consequence” of military detention of all those who are arbitrarily declared “suspected enemy combatants.”

And still further: Barack Obama has now declared, openly, of his own free will, that he does not consider these captives to be “persons.” They are, literally, sub-humans. And what makes them sub-humans? The fact that someone in the U.S. government has declared them to be “suspected enemy combatants.” (And note: even the mere suspicion of being an “enemy combatant” can strip you of your personhood.)

This is what President Barack Obama believes — believes so strongly that he has put the full weight of the government behind a relentless series of court actions to preserve, protect and defend these arbitrary powers. (For a glimpse at just a sliver of such cases, see here and here.)

One co-counsel on the case, Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, zeroed in on the noxious quintessence of the position taken by the Court, and by our first African-American president: its chilling resemblance to the notorious Dred Scott ruling of 1857, which upheld the principle of slavery. As Fisher notes:

“Another set of claims are dismissed because Guantanamo detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – an argument that was too close to Dred Scott v. Sanford for one of the judges on the court of appeals to swallow,” he added.

”The Dred Scott case was a decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1857. It ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants — whether or not they were slaves — were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States.”

And now, once again, 144 years after the Civil War, we have established as the law of the land and the policy of the United States government that whole classes of people can be declared “non-persons” and have their liberty stripped away – and their torturers and tormentors protected and coddled by authority – at a moment’s notice, with no charges, no defense, no redress, on nothing more than the suspicion that they might be an “enemy combatant,” according to the arbitrary definition of the state.

Barack Obama has had the audacity to declare himself the heir and embodiment of the lifework of Martin Luther King. Can this declaration of a whole new principle of universal slavery really be what King was dreaming of? Is this the vision he saw on the other side of the mountain? Or is not the nightmarish inversion of the ideal of a better, more just, more humane world that so many have died for, in so many places, down through the centuries?

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‘No proof Iran nuke program is military’

‘No proof Iran nuke program is military’
Herb Keinon – Jerusalem Post December 25, 2009

Moscow is not convinced that Iran plans to weaponize its nuclear program , and has not been shown evidence convincing it otherwise, deputy Russian foreign minister Alexander Saltanov told The Jerusalem Post this week.

Saltanov’s comments, made after he delivered a speech at a conference in Jordan sponsored by Ria Novosti, the Russian news and information agency funded by the government, and the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, came as the US braced for beginning a reassessment of Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions regime policy.

At the same time, Saltanov dismissed the widely held assumption that Russia would not support another heavy round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, saying “we never said that sanctions will never happen. We said that we should work through the diplomatic process to the very end, and encourage Iran to get involved in dialogue not only on vague issues – like the nuclear program – but also regarding involvement of Iran in the region to solve problems.”

“Iran has a positive potential,” he said.

Although he did not say so specifically, Saltanov seemed to referring to Iran’s role in the Caucasus and Central Asia, areas of key strategic importance to Russia, where Teheran has been careful to play a constructive role and not export the ideological extremism it has exported to the Middle East. This is something keenly appreciated in Moscow.

Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian prime minister considered the doyen of Moscow’s Middle East experts, said at the conference he did not believe that Iran had made a decision to acquire nuclear weapons, showing just how far the gaps were between Israel and Russia on the issue.

Where Israel, and now the US and most in the West, concur that Iran is after nuclear capability for weapons purposes, the Russians are still debating whether Teheran does indeed want the nuclear capability for weapons or only for civilian needs.

“Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon. It may be more like Japan, which has nuclear readiness but does not have a bomb,” Primakov said.

“There is no doubt that the Iranian program and lack of clarity about it has caused great nervousness in Israel,” he added. “But if Israel attacks Iran it will cause great instability and will only postpone the Iranian program, not end it.”

One diplomatic official, asked to explain the chasm in the assessments of Iranian intent that exists between Israel and Russia, said that by denying that Iran has intentions of building a bomb, the Russians push off having to make the difficult decision about how to stop it.

Government sources in Jerusalem, meanwhile, said that there are different schools of thought regarding Iran inside Russia. The sources did not rule out the possibility that the Russians would indeed back another round of sanctions, though perhaps not as stringent as the US and Israel would like to see.

Russian support for a lower degree of sanctions, the sources added, was not insignificant, since it would give legitimacy for the US to band together with other like-minded countries outside of the UN framework and put into place other, tougher measures.

One official said that Iranian self-confidence is currently not very high, and “for the first time you have a situation where the Iranians are facing not only trouble abroad, but also the ground is shaking at home.” The international community, he said, has more leverage now than in the past.

The Chinese Xinhua news agency, meanwhile, reported on Thursday that China continues to believe that sanctions were not the right way to go.

“We have consistently insisted that the Iran nuclear issue be properly solved through diplomatic negotiations, and we think sanctions cannot solve the root issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news briefing.

“The urgency is that all parties should step up diplomatic efforts and maintain and advance the process of dialogue and negotiations, in a bid to seek the proper solution to the Iran nuclear issue in a comprehensive and long-term way,” Jiang was quoted as saying.

Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery

Dred Scott Redux: Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery

Chris Floyd – uruknet.info December 18, 2009

While we were all out doing our Christmas shopping, the highest court in the land quietly put the kibosh on a few more of the remaining shards of human liberty.

It happened earlier this week, in a discreet ruling that attracted almost no notice and took little time. In fact, our most august defenders of the Constitution did not have to exert themselves in the slightest to eviscerate not merely 220 years of Constitutional jurisprudence but also centuries of agonizing effort to lift civilization a few inches out of the blood-soaked mire that is our common human legacy. They just had to write a single sentence.

Here’s how the bad deal went down. After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever – save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

This extraordinary ruling occasioned none of those deep-delving “process stories” that glut the pages of the New York Times, where the minutiae of policy-making or political gaming is examined in highly-spun, microscopic detail doled out by self-interested insiders. Obviously, giving government the power to render whole classes of people “unpersons” was not an interesting subject for our media arbiters. It was news that wasn’t fit to print. Likewise, the ruling provoked no thundering editorials in the Washington Post, no savvy analysis from the high commentariat – and needless to say, no outrage whatsoever from all our fierce defenders of individual liberty on the Right.

But William Fisher noticed, and gave this report at Antiwar.com:

“In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former Guantanamo prisoners against former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the detainees’ lawyers charged Tuesday that the country’s highest court evidently believes that “torture and religious humiliation are permissible tools for a government to use.”

”…Channeling their predecessors in the George W. Bush administration, Obama Justice Department lawyers argued in this case that there is no constitutional right not to be tortured or otherwise abused in a U.S. prison abroad.

”The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By agreeing, the court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court, which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” – did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law.

”The lower court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.”

The Constitution is clear: no person can be held without due process; no person can be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. And the U.S. law on torture of any kind is crystal clear: it is forbidden, categorically, even in time of “national emergency.” And the instigation of torture is, under U.S. law, a capital crime. No person can be tortured, at any time, for any reason, and there are no immunities whatsoever for torture offered anywhere in the law.

And yet this is what Barack Obama – who, we are told incessantly, is a super-brilliant Constitutional lawyer – has been arguing in case after case since becoming president: Torturers are immune from prosecution; those who ordered torture are immune from prosecution. They can’t even been sued for, in the specific case under review, subjecting uncharged, indefinitely detained captives to “beatings, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, extreme hot and cold temperatures, death threats, interrogations at gunpoint, and threatened with unmuzzled dogs.”

Again, let’s be absolutely clear: Barack Obama has taken the freely chosen, public, formal stand – in court – that there is nothing wrong with any of these activities. Nothing to answer for, nothing meriting punishment or even civil penalties. What’s more, in championing the lower court ruling, Barack Obama is now on record as believing — insisting — that torture is an ordinary, “foreseeable consequence” of military detention of all those who are arbitrarily declared “suspected enemy combatants.”

And still further: Barack Obama has now declared, openly, of his own free will, that he does not consider these captives to be “persons.” They are, literally, sub-humans. And what makes them sub-humans? The fact that someone in the U.S. government has declared them to be “suspected enemy combatants.” (And note: even the mere suspicion of being an “enemy combatant” can strip you of your personhood.)

This is what President Barack Obama believes — believes so strongly that he has put the full weight of the government behind a relentless series of court actions to preserve, protect and defend these arbitrary powers. (For a glimpse at just a sliver of such cases, see here and here.)

One co-counsel on the case, Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, zeroed in on the noxious quintessence of the position taken by the Court, and by our first African-American president: its chilling resemblance to the notorious Dred Scott ruling of 1857, which upheld the principle of slavery. As Fisher notes:

“Another set of claims are dismissed because Guantanamo detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – an argument that was too close to Dred Scott v. Sanford for one of the judges on the court of appeals to swallow,” he added.

”The Dred Scott case was a decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1857. It ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants — whether or not they were slaves — were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States.”

And now, once again, 144 years after the Civil War, we have established as the law of the land and the policy of the United States government that whole classes of people can be declared “non-persons” and have their liberty stripped away – and their torturers and tormentors protected and coddled by authority – at a moment’s notice, with no charges, no defense, no redress, on nothing more than the suspicion that they might be an “enemy combatant,” according to the arbitrary definition of the state.

Barack Obama has had the audacity to declare himself the heir and embodiment of the lifework of Martin Luther King. Can this declaration of a whole new principle of universal slavery really be what King was dreaming of? Is this the vision he saw on the other side of the mountain? Or is not the nightmarish inversion of the ideal of a better, more just, more humane world that so many have died for, in so many places, down through the centuries?

There’ll be nowhere to run from the new world government – Telegraph

There’ll be nowhere to run from the new world government

Global’ thinking won’t necessarily solve the world’s problems, says Janet Daley

The committee to save the world - Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and other leaders at the Copenhagen climate talks

The committee to save the world: Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and other leaders at the Copenhagen climate talks Photo: AFP/GETTY

There is scope for debate – and innumerable newspaper quizzes – about who was the most influential public figure of the year, or which the most significant event. But there can be little doubt which word won the prize for most important adjective. 2009 was the year in which “global” swept the rest of the political lexicon into obscurity. There were “global crises” and “global challenges”, the only possible resolution to which lay in “global solutions” necessitating “global agreements”. Gordon Brown actually suggested something called a “global alliance” in response to climate change. (Would this be an alliance against the Axis of Extra-Terrestrials?)

Some of this was sheer hokum: when uttered by Gordon Brown, the word “global”, as in “global economic crisis”, meant: “It’s not my fault”. To the extent that the word had intelligible meaning, it also had political ramifications that were scarcely examined by those who bandied it about with such ponderous self-importance. The mere utterance of it was assumed to sweep away any consideration of what was once assumed to be the most basic principle of modern democracy: that elected national governments are responsible to their own people – that the right to govern derives from the consent of the electorate.

The dangerous idea that the democratic accountability of national governments should simply be dispensed with in favour of “global agreements” reached after closed negotiations between world leaders never, so far as I recall, entered into the arena of public discussion. Except in the United States, where it became a very contentious talking point, the US still holding firmly to the 18th-century idea that power should lie with the will of the people.

Nor was much consideration given to the logical conclusion of all this grandiose talk of global consensus as unquestionably desirable: if there was no popular choice about approving supranational “legally binding agreements”, what would happen to dissenters who did not accept their premises (on climate change, for example) when there was no possibility of fleeing to another country in protest? Was this to be regarded as the emergence of world government? And would it have powers of policing and enforcement that would supersede the authority of elected national governments? In effect, this was the infamous “democratic deficit” of the European Union elevated on to a planetary scale. And if the EU model is anything to go by, then the agencies of global authority will involve vast tracts of power being handed to unelected officials. Forget the relatively petty irritations of Euro‑bureaucracy: welcome to the era of Earth-bureaucracy, when there will be literally nowhere to run.

But, you may say, however dire the political consequences, surely there is something in this obsession with global dilemmas. Economics is now based on a world market, and if the planet really is facing some sort of man-made climate crisis, then that too is a problem that transcends national boundaries. Surely, if our problems are universal the solutions must be as well.

Well, yes and no. Calling a problem “global” is meant to imply three different things: that it is the result of the actions of people in different countries; that those actions have impacted on the lives of everyone in the world; and that the remedy must involve pretty much identical responses or correctives to those actions. These are separate premises, any of which might be true without the rest of them necessarily being so. The banking crisis certainly had its roots in the international nature of finance, but the way it affected countries and peoples varied considerably according to the differences in their internal arrangements. Britain suffered particularly badly because of its addiction to public and private debt, whereas Australia escaped relatively unscathed.

That a problem is international in its roots does not necessarily imply that the solution must involve the hammering out of a uniform global prescription: in fact, given the differences in effects and consequences for individual countries, the attempt to do such hammering might be a huge waste of time and resources that could be put to better use devising national remedies. France and Germany seem to have pulled themselves out of recession over the past year (and the US may be about to do so) while Britain has not. These variations owe almost nothing to the pompous, overblown attempts to find global solutions: they are largely to do with individual countries, under the pressure of democratic accountability, doing what they decide is best for their own people.

This is not what Mr Brown calls “narrow self-interest”, or “beggar my neighbour” ruthlessness. It is the proper business of elected national leaders to make judgments that are appropriate for the conditions of their own populations. It is also right that heads of nations refuse to sign up to “legally binding” global agreements which would disadvantage their own people. The resistance of the developing nations to a climate change pact that would deny them the kind of economic growth and mass prosperity to which advanced countries have become accustomed is not mindless selfishness: it is proper regard for the welfare of their own citizens.

The word “global” has taken on sacred connotations. Any action taken in its name must be inherently virtuous, whereas the decisions of individual countries are necessarily “narrow” and self-serving. (Never mind that a “global agreement” will almost certainly be disproportionately influenced by the most powerful nations.) Nor is our era so utterly unlike previous ones, for all its technological sophistication. We have always needed multilateral agreements, whether about trade, organised crime, border controls, or mutual defence.

If the impact of our behaviour on humanity at large is much greater or more rapid than ever before then we shall have to find ways of dealing with that which do not involve sacrificing the most enlightened form of government ever devised. There is a whiff of totalitarianism about this new theology, in which the risks are described in such cosmic terms that everything else must give way. “Globalism” is another form of the internationalism that has been a core belief of the Left: a commitment to class rather than country seemed an admirable antidote to the “blood and soil” nationalism that gave rise to fascism.

The nation-state has never quite recovered from the bad name it acquired in the last century as the progenitor of world war. But if it is to be relegated to the dustbin of history then we had better come up with new mechanisms for allowing people to have a say in how they are governed. Maybe that could be next year’s global challenge.

via There’ll be nowhere to run from the new world government – Telegraph.

Cash from organized crime ‘rescued’ banks during crisis: UN official

Cash from organized crime ‘rescued’ banks during crisis: UN official

The vast majority of an estimated $352 billion in proceeds of organized crime, mostly from the drug trade, was funneled through the global banking system during the financial crisis of the past two years, and in some cases, the money rescued banks from collapse, says the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Antonio Maria Costa told the UK Observer that intelligence agencies and prosecutors alerted him 18 months ago to evidence that drug money was being “absorbed into the financial system.”

“In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital,” Costa said. “In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”

The Observer reports:

Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, [Costa] said.

“Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities… There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.” Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.

Gangs are now believed to make most of their profits from the drugs trade and are estimated to be worth £352bn, the UN says. They have traditionally kept proceeds in cash or moved it offshore to hide it from the authorities. It is understood that evidence that drug money has flowed into banks came from officials in Britain, Switzerland, Italy and the US.

Read the complete Observer article here.

Costa has been head of the UN’s drug and crime office since 2002, and is known for his tough stance on illicit drugs, including marijuana. He recently warned that Africa is becoming a major drug hub, following an investigation into the crash of a Boeing 727 in Mali that had flown in from Venezuela carrying 10 tons of cocaine.

Obama Declares War On Pakistan

Obama Declares War On Pakistan

By Webster G. Tarpley – The People’s Voice December 14, 2009

Obama’s West Point speech of December 1 represents far more than the obvious brutal escalation in Afghanistan — it is nothing less than a declaration of all-out war by the United States against Pakistan . This is a brand-new war, a much wider war now targeting Pakistan , a country of 160 million people armed with nuclear weapons. In the process, Afghanistan is scheduled to be broken up. This is no longer the Bush Cheney Afghan war we have known in the past. This is something immensely bigger: the attempt to destroy the Pakistani central government in Islamabad and to sink that country into a chaos of civil war, Balkanization, subdivision and general mayhem. The chosen strategy is to massively export the Afghan civil war into Pakistan and beyond, fracturing Pakistan along ethnic lines. It is an oblique war using fourth-generation or guerrilla warfare techniques to assail a country which the United States and its associates in aggression are far too weak to attack directly. In this war, the Taliban are employed as US proxies. This aggression against Pakistan is Obama’s attempt to wage the Great Game against the hub of Central Asia and Eurasia or more generally.

US DETERRED FROM OPEN WAR BY PAKISTAN’S NUKES

The ongoing civil war in Afghanistan is merely a pretext, a cover story designed to provide the United States with a springboard for a geopolitical destabilization campaign in the entire region which cannot be publicly avowed. In the blunt cynical world of imperialist aggression à la Bush and Cheney, a pretext might have been manufactured to attack Pakistan directly. But Pakistan is far too large and the United States is far too weak and too bankrupt for such an undertaking. In addition, Pakistan is a nuclear power, possessing atomic bombs and medium range missiles needed to deliver them. What we are seeing is a novel case of nuclear deterrence in action. The US cannot send an invasion fleet or set up airbases nearby because Pakistani nuclear weapons might destroy them. To this extent, the efforts of Ali Bhutto and A.Q. Khan to provide Pakistan a deterrent capability have been vindicated. But the US answer is to find ways to attack Pakistan below the nuclear threshold, and even below the conventional threshold. This is where the tactic of exporting the Afghan civil war to Pakistan comes in.

The architect of the new Pakistani civil war is US Special Forces General Stanley McChrystal, who organized the infamous network of US torture chambers in Iraq . McChrystal’s specific credential for the Pakistani civil war is his role in unleashing the Iraqi civil war of Sunnis versus Shiites by creating “al Qaeda in Iraq ” under the infamous and now departed double agent Zarkawi. If Iraqi society as a whole had lined up against the US invaders, the occupiers would have soon been driven out. The counter-gang known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq ” avoided that possibility by killing Shiites, and thus calling forth massive retaliation in the form of a civil war. These tactics are drawn from the work of British General Frank Kitson, who wrote about them in his book Low Intensity Warfare. If the United States possesses a modern analog to Heinrich Himmler of the SS, it is surely General McChrystal, Obama’s hand-picked choice. McChrystal’s superior, Gen Petraeus, wants to be the new Field Marshal von Hindenburg in other words, he wants to be the next US president.

The vulnerability of Pakistan which the US and its NATO associates are seeking to exploit can best be understood using a map of the prevalent ethnic groups of Afghanistan , Pakistan , Iran , and India . Most maps show only political borders which date back to the time of British imperialism, and therefore fail to reflect the principal ethnic groups of the region. For the purposes of this analysis, we must start by recognizing a number of groups. First is the Pashtun people, located mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan . Then we have the Baluchis, located primarily in Pakistan and Iran . The Punjabis inhabit Pakistan , as do the Sindhis. The Bhutto family came from Sind.

PASHTUNISTAN

The US and NATO strategy begins with the Pashtuns, the ethnic group from which the so-called Taliban are largely drawn. The Pashtuns represent a substantial portion of the population of Afghanistan , but here they are alienated from the central government under President Karzai in Kabul , even though the US puppet Karzai passes for a Pashtun himself. The issue involves the Afghan National Army, which was created by the United States after the 2001 invasion. The Afghan officer corps are largely Tajiks drawn from the Northern Alliance that allied with the United States against the Pashtun Talibans. The Tajiks speak Dari, sometimes known as eastern Persian. Other Afghan officers come from the Hazara people. The important thing is that the Pashtuns feel shut out.

The US strategy can best be understood as a deliberate effort at persecuting, harassing, antagonizing, strafing, repressing, and murdering the Pashtuns. The additional 40,000 US and NATO forces which Obama demands for Afghanistan will concentrate in Helmand province and other areas where the Pashtuns are in the majority. The net effect will be to increase the rebellion of the fiercely independent Pashtuns against Kabul and the foreign occupation, and at the same time to push many of these newly radicalized mujaheddin fighters across the border into Pakistan , where they can wage war against the central government in Islamabad . US aid will flow directly to war lords and drug lords, increasing the centrifugal tendencies.

On the Pakistani side, the Pashtuns are also alienated from the central government. Islamabad and the army are seen by them as too much the creatures of the Punjabis, with some input from the Sindhis. On the Pakistani side of the Pashtun territory, US operations include wholesale assassinations from unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, murders by CIA and reportedly Blackwater snipers, plus blind terrorist massacres like the recent ones in Peshawar which the Pakistani Taliban are blaming on Blackwater, acting as a subcontractor of the CIA. These actions are intolerable and humiliating for a proud sovereign state. Every time the Pashtuns are clobbered, they blame the Punjabis in Islamabad for the dirty deals with the US that allow this to happen. The most immediate goal of Obama’s Afghan-Pakistan escalation is therefore to promote a general secessionist uprising of the entire Pashtun people under Taliban auspices, which would already have the effect of destroying the national unity of both Kabul and Islamabad .

BALUCHISTAN

The other ethnic group which the Obama strategy seeks to goad into insurrection and secession is the Baluchis. The Baluchis have their own grievances against the Iranian central government in Tehran , which they see as being dominated by Persians. An integral part of the new Obama policy is to expand the deadly flights of the CIA Predators and other assassination drones into Baluchistan . One pretext for this is the report, peddled for example by Michael Ware of CNN, that Osama bin Laden and his MI-6 sidekick Zawahiri are both holed up in the Baluchi city of Quetta, where they operate as the kingpins of the so-called “Quetta Shura.” Blackwater teams cannot be far behind. In Iranian Baluchistan, the CIA is funding the murderous Jundullah organization, which was recently denounced by Teheran for the murder of a number of top officials of the Iranian Pasdaran Revolutionary guards. The rebellion of Baluchistan would smash the national unity of both Pakistan and Iran , thus helping to destroy two of the leading targets of US policy.

OBAMA’S RUBE GOLDBERG STRATEGY

Even Chris Matthews of MSNBC, normally a devoted acolyte of Obama, pointed out that the US strategy as announced at West Point very much resembles a Rube Goldberg contraption. (In the real world, “al Qaeda” is of course the CIA’s own Arab and terrorist legion.) In the world of official US myth, the enemy is supposed to be “Al Qaeda.” But, even according to the US government, there are precious few “Al Qaeda” fighters left in Afghanistan . Why then, asked Matthews, concentrate US forces in Afghanistan where “Al Qaeda” is not, rather than in Pakistan where “Al Qaeda” is now alleged to be?

One elected official who has criticized this incongruous mismatch is Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who said in a television interview that ‘Pakistan, in the border region near Afghanistan, is perhaps the epicenter [of global terrorism], although al Qaida is operating all over the world, in Yemen, in Somalia, in northern Africa, affiliates in Southeast Asia. Why would we build up 100,000 or more troops in parts of Afghanistan included that are not even near the border? You know, this buildup is in Helmand Province . That’s not next door to Waziristan . So I’m wondering, what exactly is this strategy, given the fact that we have seen that there is a minimal presence of Al Qaida in Afghanistan, but a significant presence in Pakistan? It just defies common sense that a huge boots on the ground presence in a place where these people are not is the right strategy. It doesn’t make any sense to me.’ Indeed. ‘The Wisconsin Democrat also warned that U.S. policy in Afghanistan could actually push terrorists and extremists into Pakistan and, as a consequence, further destabilize the region: “You know, I asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, and Mr. Holbrooke, our envoy over there, a while ago, you know, is there a risk that if we build up troops in Afghanistan, that will push more extremists into Pakistan?” he told ABC. “They couldn’t deny it, and this week, Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan specifically said that his concern about the buildup is that it will drive more extremists into Pakistan, so I think it’s just the opposite, that this boots-on-the-ground approach alienates the Afghan population and specifically encourages the Taliban to further coalesce with Al Qaida, which is the complete opposite of our national security interest.”‘[1] Of course, this is all intentional and motivated by US imperialist raison d’état. .

MALICK: “DID OBAMA DECLARE WAR ON PAKISTAN?”

Obama’s speech did everything possible to blur the distinction between Afghanistan and Pakistan , which are after all two sovereign states and both members of the United Nations in their own right. Ibrahim Sajid Malick, US correspondent for Samaa TV, one of the largest Pakistan television networks, called attention to this ploy: ‘Speaking to a hall full of cadets at the US Military Academy of West Point, President Barack Obama almost seemed like he might be declaring war on Pakistan . Every time he mentioned Afghanistan , Pakistan preceded mention. Sitting at the back benches of the hall at one point I almost jumped out of my chair when he said: “the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan , because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.” I was shocked because a succession of American officials recently confirmed that the Pakistani arsenal is secure.'[2] This article is entitled “Did Obama Declare War On Pakistan?”, and we can chalk the question mark up to diplomatic discretion. During congressional hearings involving General McChrystal and US Ambassador Eikenberry, Afghanistan and Pakistan were simply fused into one sinister entity known as “Afpak” or even “Afpakia.”

In the summer of 2007, Obama, coached by Zbigniew Brzezinski and other controllers, was the originator of the unilateral US policy of using Predator drones for political assassinations inside Pakistan . This assassination policy is now being massively escalated along with the troop strength: “Two weeks ago in Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency sharpshooters killed eight people suspected of being militants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and wounded two others in a compound that was said to be used for terrorist training. The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decisionto send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time – a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas – because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.”[3] The US is now training more Predator operators than combat pilots.

BLACKWATER ACCUSED IN PESHAWAR MASSACRE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN

The CIA, the Pentagon, and their various contractors among the private military firms are now on a murder spree across Pakistan , attacking peaceful villages and wedding parties, among other targets. Blackwater, now calling itself Xe Services and Total Intelligence Solutions, is heavily involved: ‘At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.’ [4]

As shocking as Scahill’s report is, it must nevertheless be viewed as a limited hangout, since there is no mention of the persistent charges that a large part of the deadly bombings in Peshawar and other Pakistani cities are being carried out by Blackwater, as this news item suggests: “ISLAMABAD Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — Chief of Taliban movement in Pakistan Hakimullah Mehsud has blamed the controversial American private firm Blackwater for the bomb blast in Peshawar which killed 108 people, local news agency NNI reported Thursday.”[5] This was blind terrorism designed for maximum slaughter, especially among women and children.

US ALSO AT WAR WITH UZBEKISTAN?

Scahill’s report also suggests that US black ops have reached into Uzbekistan, a post-Soviet country of 25 million which borders Afghanistan to the north: ‘In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater team in Karachi also helps plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, according to the military intelligence source. Blackwater does not actually carry out the operations, he said, which are executed on the ground by JSOC forces. “That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don’t know if you noticed but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan ,” he said. “So, did I miss something, did Rumsfeld come back into power?”‘ [6] Such are the ways of hope and change.

The role of US intelligence in fomenting the Baluchistan rebellion for the purpose of breaking Pakistan apart is also confirmed by Professor Chossudovsky: ‘Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan “in a decade with the country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Baluchistan.” (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005 ). According to the NIC-CIA, Pakistan is slated to become a “failed state” by 2015, “as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanization and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons”. (Quoted by former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK , Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Times of India, 13 February 2005 ). Washington favors the creation of a “Greater Baluchistan” which would integrate the Baluch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran and possibly the Southern tip of Afghanistan, thereby leading to a process of political fracturing in both Iran and Pakistan.'[7] The Iranians, for their part, are adamant that the US is committing acts of war on their territory in Baluchistan : ” TEHRAN , Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — Iran ‘s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that there are some concrete evidences showing U.S. involvement in recent deadly bomb explosions in the country’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, the official IRNA news agency reported. . The deadly suicide attack by Sunni rebel group Jundallah (God’s soldiers) occurred on Oct. 18 in Iran ‘s Sistan-Baluchistan province near the border with Pakistan when the local officials were preparing a ceremony in which the local tribal leaders were to meet the military commanders of Iran ‘s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).[8]

US GOAL: CUT THE PAKISTAN ENERGY CORRIDOR BETWEEN IRAN, CHINA

Why would the United States be so obsessed with the breakup of Pakistan ? One reason is that Pakistan is traditionally a strategic ally and economic partner of China , a country which the US and British are determined to oppose and contain on the world stage. Specifically, Pakistan could function as an energy corridor linking the oil fields of Iran and possibly even Iraq with the Chinese market by means of a pipeline that would cross the Himalayas above Kashmir . This is the so-called “Pipelinestan” issue. This would give China a guaranteed land-based oil supply not subject to Anglo-American naval superiority, while also cutting out the 12,000 mile tanker route around the southern rim of Asia . As a recent news report points out: ‘ Beijing has been pressuring Tehran for China ‘s participation in the pipeline project and Islamabad , while willing to sign a bilateral agreement with Iran , has also welcomed China ‘s participation. According to an estimate, such a pipeline would result in Pakistan getting $200 million to $500 million annually in transit fees alone. China and Pakistan are already working on a proposal for laying a trans-Himalayan pipeline to carry Middle Eastern crude oil to western China . Pakistan provides China the shortest possible route to import oil from the Gulf countries. The pipeline, which would run from the southern Pakistan port of Gwadar and follow the Karakoram highway, would be partly financed by Beijing . The Chinese are also building a refinery at Gwadar. Imports using the pipeline would allow Beijing to reduce the portion of its oil shipped through the narrow and unsafe Strait of Malacca , which at present carries up to 80% of its oil imports. Islamabad also plans to extend a railway track to China to connect it to Gwadar. The port is also considered the likely terminus of proposed multibillion-dollar gas pipelines reaching from the South Pars fields in Iran or from Qatar , and from the Daulatabad fields in Turkmenistan for export to world markets. Syed Fazl-e-Haider, ” Pakistan , Iran sign gas pipeline deal,” Asia Times, 27 May 2009 .[9] This is the normal, peaceful economic progress and cooperation which the Anglo-Americans are hell-bent on stopping.

Oil and natural gas pipelines from Iran across Pakistan and into China would carry energy resources into the Middle Kingdom, and would also serve as conveyor belts for Chinese economic influence into the Middle East . This would make Anglo-American dominion increasingly tenuous in a part of the world which London and Washington have traditionally sought to control as part of their overall strategy of world domination.

US domestic propaganda is already portraying Pakistan as the new home base of terrorism. The four pathetic patsies going on trial for an alleged plot to bomb a synagogue in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City had been carefully sheep-dipped to associate them with the shadowy and suspicious Jaish-e-Mohammad, allegedly a Pakistani terrorist group. The same goes for the five Moslems from Northern Virginia who have just been arrested near Lahore in Pakistan.

INDIA AND IRAN

As far as the neighboring states are concerned, India under the unfortunate Manmohan Singh seems to be accepting the role of continental dagger against Pakistan and China on behalf of the US and the British. This is a recipe for a colossal tragedy. India should rather make permanent peace with Pakistan by vacating the Vale of Kashmir, where 95% of the population is Moslem and would like to join Pakistan. Without a solution to this issue, there will be no peace on the subcontinent.

Regarding Iran, George Friedman, the head of the Stratfor outlet of the US intelligence community recently told Russia Today that the great novelty of the next decade will be an alliance of the United States with Iran directed against Russia. In that scenario, Iran would cut off oil to China altogether. That is the essence of the Brzezinski strategy. It is urgent that the antiwar movement in the United States regroup and begin a new mobilization against the cynical hypocrisy of Obama’s war and escalation policy, which suprasses even the war crimes of the Bush-Cheny neocons. In this new phase of the Great Game, the stakes are incalculable.
www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2009/12/14/obama-declares-war-on-pakistan

Hamas says will unite with Iran if Israel attacks

Hamas says will unite with Iran if Israel attacks

By Ramin Mostafavi and Reza Derakhshi – Rueters December 15, 2009

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Islamist militant groups will fight alongside Iran if the country is attacked by Israel, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Tuesday.

Israel has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to end a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme, which the United States and its allies suspect is aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran denies such an ambition, saying it wants to generate electricity using nuclear power.

“All Islamist militant groups will form a united front with Iran against Israel if it attacks Iran,” Meshaal, visiting Iran, told a news conference broadcast live on state television.
“We are all parts of the same body … We all should fight against the mutual enemy. But how, the leaders will decide, based on our capacities.”

Israeli officials have warned they could try to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities in the same way that Israel bombed Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981.

Iran has said it will retaliate if attacked, and security analysts believe it would mobilise militant allies such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah in its response.

Meshaal said Israel was a danger for the Middle East region. “God willing, a regional resistance has the capacity to confront this danger,” Meshaal said.

Israeli and U.S. officials have accused Iran of providing weapons, cash and training to Hamas and another Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad. Iran insists it only gives them moral and political support.

“TERROR ORGANISATION”


A senior Israeli general said on Tuesday that Hamas and Hezbollah were expanding their rocket reach as part of their alliance with Iran, which refuses to recognise Israel.

“Syria, Iran and Hezbollah is the only terror organisation in the world that possesses surface-to-surface missiles and has the ability to threaten the greater Tel Aviv area,” said Major- General Amos Yadlin, chief of Israeli military intelligence.

“And recently, Hamas has been trying to achieve the same abilities.”

Israel cites Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state as a clear sign that Iranian nuclear weapons, if it acquires them, would threaten the country’s existence.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran had no intention to end its support for Islamist guerrilla groups.

“Supporting Palestinians is our religious and national duty. We will continue our support and will never give it up,” he said at a meeting with Meshaal, state television reported.

Meshaal praised Iran for backing Hamas, which won a Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006, defeating the once- dominant, more secular Fatah faction, and drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip the following year.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/index/Hamas_says_will_unite_with_Iran_if_Israel_attacks.html?cid=7906846

Syria will defend Iran if Israel attacks
Israel Today – December 14, 2009

If Israel does attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, it will undoubtedly result in a regional war after Iran and Syria signed a mutual defense agreement on Sunday.

Kuwaiti media reported that the agreement was signed at the weekend while Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was visiting Damascus.

Speaking to Syrian media, Vahidi said the agreement was a strong deterrent to an Israeli strike on his country’s nuclear facilities. Vahidi said that in addition to a Syrian response, Iran would retaliate for any strike on its nuclear facilities by firing ballistic missiles at Israel’s nuclear facilities.
www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=20166