Pakistan, Clinton, Drones, and US Foreign Policy

October 31, 2009 § 6 Comments

Yesterday, after my analysis of developments in Pakistan was published by IPS, I was interviewed by Dori Smith of the excellent Talk Nation Radio, which is broadcast on several Pacifica channels. Among other things we also spoke about US foreign policy in the region, the Iraq war, neoconservative networks, Afghanistan, and media in Pakistan.

Idrees Ahmad returned to his native Pakistan where he reported for Inter Press Service in an October 30, 2009 story ‘The US in Pakistan’s Mind: Nothing but Aversion’.Pakistanis have viewed US policy with grave skepticism as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeks to win ‘hearts and minds’ while promoting the unpopular US war on terror.

Idrees Ahmad joined us after returning to Glasgow, Scotland, where he is a student about to publish his PHD thesis as a book. You can find his story about Pakistan online at Inter Press Service News and look for his more detailed piece in the November issue of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Réalité EU: Front group for the Washington based Israel Project?

October 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

A Spinwatch Investigation: by Tom Mills and David Miller, 30 October 2009

Realite EU - Not actually based in the EU at all

Spinwatch has uncovered evidence that an apparently London based organisation offering expertise on Iran to journalists and politicians is a covert propaganda operation run by a pro-Israel organisation in the United States.

The organisation, which is called Réalité-EU, has direct connections to the Israel Project, a hardline pro Israel organisation based in Washington DC. Both Réalité-EU and the Israel Project also appear to be connected to a Jewish organisation – B’nai B’rith International, which is also active in pro Israel campaigning

Réalité-EU was at one time linked to the former Shadow Security Minister Patrick Mercer, raising further concerns about the Conservative MP’s links to individuals and groups involved in exaggerating and even fabricating domestic and international threats for personal and political ends. These activities have previously been reported by Spinwatch as well as other sources.

Réalité-EU has claimed to be based at offices in London, but e-mails received from the organisation were sent from a mail server registered to the Washington offices of B’nai B’rith International.[1] An expert from Réalité-EU who spoke to Spinwatch denied ‘any connection whatsoever’ with B’nai B’rith

Asked whether Réalité-EU receives any funding or direct support from the pro-Israel pressure group, the expert replied, ‘Definitely not,’ but added, ‘I’m not at all involved in any development [i.e. funding] questions so I really don’t know exactly who the individuals are and where they come from.’[2]

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Hearts, Minds, and Dollars

October 30, 2009 § 5 Comments

POLITICS: U.S. in Pakistan’s Mind: Nothing But Aversion

Analysis by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

With Nato supply convoys passing through the FATA region, US military hardware frequently falls into the hands of insurgents.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Oct 30 (IPS) – To the west of Peshawar on the Jamrud Road that leads to the historic Khyber Pass sits the Karkhano Market, a series of shopping plazas whose usual offering of contraband is now supplemented by standard issue U.S. military equipment, including combat fatigues, night vision goggles, body armour and army knives.

Beyond the market is a checkpoint, which separates the city from the semi-autonomous tribal region of Khyber. In the past, if one lingered near the barrier long enough, one was usually approached by someone from the far side selling hashish, alcohol, guns, or even rocket-propelled grenade launchers. These days such salesman could also be selling U.S. semi-automatics, sniper rifles and hand guns. Those who buy do it less for their quality—the AK-47 still remains the weapon of choice here—than as mementos of a dying Empire.

The realisation may be dawning slowly on some U.S. allies, but here everyone is convinced that Western forces have lost the war. However, at a time when in Afghanistan the efficacy of force as a counterinsurgency tool is being increasingly questioned, there is a newfound affinity for it in Pakistan.

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Saree Makdisi on the Goldstone Report

October 29, 2009 § 1 Comment

Saree Makdisi

Saree Makdisi

Phillip Adams speaks to the nephew of the late Edward Said, Professor Saree Makdisi, who will give the 2009 Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Adelaide. Professor Makdisi talks about the latest UN findings of war crimes in Gaza; what he describes as the bureaucratic occupation of the Palestinian territories; and his reasons for supporting a one-state solution. (thanks Michael)

Makdisi is Professor of English Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles; Edward Said Memorial Lecturer for 2009, and the author of Palestine Inside Out: Everyday Occupation (John Wiley, 2008)

See also
A Museum of Intolerance in Jerusalem for an excellent address by Saree Makdisi on the so-called Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.

Smoke and Mirrors – On the Hardships of Self-Inquiry

October 28, 2009 § 3 Comments

Looking in the mirror is no easy task. Especially when your eyes are smoked by Zionism. Now that impunity is slowly diminishing, Israel finds itself stuck between the Goldstone and a hard place. How does the spoiled brat of the Middle East deal with the fact that years of stealing cookies from the cookie jar have left its face covered in damning chocolate?

Common Sense Solutions to Self-Inquiry

For weeks now, the Goldstone report has gained its rightful place in the Israeli mainstream media- the front page. At first, articles were all about the “one-sidedness” and the “antesemitism” of the report. Now, what we’re seeing is a consistent media push for self-inquiry. Not because we have some ethical ‘splaining to do, mind you, but because Israel’s public image is in jeopardy. Ha’aretz’s diplomatic correspondent (and a fellow at the Israeli Institute For National Security Studies), Aluf Benn- a shining example of this “practical strategic thinking”- finally remembers to ask some tough questions:

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Richard Goldstone confuses International Law

October 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

While Richard Goldstone deserves credit for publishing a fair report about Israel’s war crime during its assault on Gaza — especially in light of the storm of vilification that he has had to weather — one need not be so swayed as to exempt his claims from scrutiny. There are serious problems with his interpretation of International law, and far from being too critical of Israel, he is too generous. In this interview he makes the tendentious claim that jus in bello, that is conduct during war, is unrelated to jus ad bellum, the justness of the war. He in fact goes so far as to claim that ‘it was a given’ that Israel had a right to attack Gaza. He makes this claim despite stating before hand that it wasn’t his remit to investigate jus ad bellum. This is therefore an astonishing statement to make for someone even remotely familiar with international law. Before one can consider jus in bello, the conditions for jus ad bello need to be satisfied. That is to say that before you investigate conduct you have to make sure that the war was just. And if this wasn’t the case — and it wasn’t — then Israel is responsible for launching a war of aggression, the ‘supreme crime’ in international law. This also means that Israel bears the responsibility even for the violations of human rights carried out by Hamas because the supreme crime carries within it the accumulated evil of all that follows. For more on this, see my detailed argument in this earlier article.

Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi talks to Judge Richard Goldstone about the investigation into the Gaza war. He travelled to the United Nations in New York to find out if the war on Gaza has transformed Richard Goldstone from a sober jurist into a man on a mission to discredit Israel on an international stage.

From Guantanamo to Honduras: Psychological Wars Then and Now

October 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

embajada

Honduran military surrounds Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. (Photo: AFP)

By Joseph Shansky

Recently, musicians such as Rage Against the Machine, Steve Earle and Pearl Jam joined the newly-formed National Campaign to Close Guantanamo Bay.  It’s a public effort to protest the past misuse of recordings during “enhanced interrogation techniques” at Guantanamo prison.  An exaggerated volume and incessant repetition of loud music are just a few auditory torture techniques famously used by the American government overseas to disorient prisoners. 

However, the issue of psychological warfare should not only be seen in a past context.  Since these revelations, the question of its continued use in other parts of the world deserves exposure.

One timely example is Honduras.  In June of this year, President Manuel Zelaya was violently removed from power in a military coup d’état and replaced with a non-elected government, led by former National Congress leader Roberto Micheletti.  Since his return to Honduras September 21, President Zelaya has been residing with supporters in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, with Honduran armed forces stationed outside.

Following orders by coup government officials, the army has been frequently directing harsh noises at the embassy occupants.  The most recent example took place early in the morning of October 21, when the broadcast included military anthems, rock music, and animal noises (pig grunts, in an apparent attempt to add insult to injury) at an excessive volume, and on a constant loop from around 1:30 am to 7 am. 

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