December 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Al Jazeera’s excellent Fault Lines return with an investigation into the use of unmanned military technologies.
Over the past decade, the US military has shifted the way it fights its wars, deploying more unmanned systems in the battlefield than ever before. Today there are more than 7,000 drones and 12,000 ground robots in use by all branches of the military.
These systems mean less American deaths. They also mean less political risk for the US when it takes acts of lethal force — often outside of official war zones.
But US lethal drone strikes in countries like Pakistan have brought up serious questions about the legal and political implications of using these systems.
Fault Lines looks at how these new weapons of choice are allowing the US to stretch the international laws of war and what it could mean when more and more autonomy is developed for these lethal machines.
February 14, 2011 § 3 Comments
On December 24 2004, I wrote an essay, “America and Islam,” for which I received much heat from Zionist and right-wing bloggers in the United States.
The article made the point that the leaders of al-Qaida believe that they have to carry their war to the home ground of the ‘far enemy’ – the United States, Israel and Western powers – in order to free the Muslim world from foreign domination. This anyone can verify from the numerous communiqués of al-Qaida.
To say this is not to endorse the terrorist methods that al-Qaida employs. This was my moral position then: and it is my moral position now. At the same time, we should not shrink from recognizing that the total wars waged by many states, including the United States, since WWII differ from the methods of al-Qaida only in the infinitely greater scale of the destruction they wreak upon civilians.
The article made another critical point. It argued that al-Qaida, in some measure, reflects the political and moral failings of Muslim societies. If Muslims had shown more spine in resisting local tyrannies through non-violent means, their courage would have scotched the violent extremism of groups like al-Qaida.
February 2, 2011 § 7 Comments
Pakistan’s rulers and ruling elites may well be thinking that the wave of people’s indignation that started in Tunisia and is now working its way through Egypt, Jordan and Yemen will never reach them. Perhaps, they are telling each other, ‘We are safe: we are a democracy.’
The Arabs who are pouring into the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen are not protesting only against their dictatorships. Simultaneously, they are also protesting against governments that have sold their dignity and bartered the honor of their country. Nearly, all the Arab rulers are self-castrated eunuchs in the courts of foreign powers, who have turned their own countries into police states, and who jail, maim, torture and kill their own people to please their masters.
The Arabs are venting their anger against elites who have stymied their energies by turning their societies into prisons. In complicity with foreign powers, these elites have ruled by fear, blocking the forward movement of their people because this movement collides with the imperialist ambitions of Israel and the United States.
It is true that Pakistan has had ‘elected’ governments alternating with military dictatorships. Increasingly, however, these governments, whether civilian or military, have differed little from each other. The priority for both is to keep their power and US-doled perks by doing the bidding of the United States and Israel.
Starting in the early 1990s, Pakistan hurriedly embraced the neoliberal paradigm that emanated from Washington. Hastily, successive ministers of finance and privatization – all of them IMF appointees – went about dismantling Pakistan’s industries, selling off for a song its state-owned enterprises, and empowering Pakistan’s elites to engage in unchecked consumerism.
September 3, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Nixon already tried this in Vietnam. ‘Asian boys to fight Asian boys.’ It failed. In Iraq the Sahwa militias succeeded only as a result of particular circumstances. In Afghanistan, where blood feuds last generations, it can only sow the seeds of permanent civil war.
People & Power examines dangerous conflicts between the US and NATO strategies in the fight against the Taliban.
August 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
by The Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: Minister tasked with saving US airbase at the cost of the displacement of thousands
The presence of Pakistan army personnel speaks to the fact that the breach of Jamali bypass was intentional and ordered from above.
It has been reported earlier that the US Air Force has denied the relief agencies use of the Shahbaz airbase for the distribution of aid and assistance. Soldiers of the Pakistan army, a federal minister and the administration of Sindh province are blamed for the incident involving Shahbaz Airbase at Jacobabad district in Sindh province in which it has been reported that flood waters were diverted in order to save the airbase. The diversion of the floodwaters is blamed for inundating hundreds of houses and the displacement of 800,000 people. According to the media reports, the Federal Minister of Sports along with soldiers from the army and a contingent of officials from the Sindh provincial government breached the Jamali Bypass in Jafferabad district of Balochistan province during the night between August 13 and 14 to divert the water entering the airbase which has remained in US Air Force hands since the war on terror started in 2001.
August 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Legendary journalist John PIlger speaks to Riz Khan about the ostensible US withdrawal from Iraq. In his otherwise sensible commentary, Pilger claims that troops will remain to protect oil contracts, which of course doesn’t make much sense because all the major contracts are held by Russian, Norwegian, Chinese and French companies.
US combat forces have left Iraq, but who should be held accountable for the invasion and occupation that has left hundreds of thousands dead? Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger joins the show to discuss.
Also see this this important article in which Pilger defends Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange is now the subject of an international smear campaign.
August 13, 2010 § 4 Comments
by Mohamad Junaid
On 26 January 1992, Murli Manohar Joshi, the leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, after travelling by road all the way from the southern tip of India, was airlifted from Jammu to the heart of Srinagar where he half-raised the Indian flag near historic Lal Chowk. All of Kashmir was put under severe curfew, and the army was given shoot-at-sight orders. Throughout the day soldiers shot dead more than a dozen Kashmiris in the streets of Srinagar. Over the previous two years, the Indian government had unleashed a reign of terror on the people, with massacre upon massacre of unarmed protestors dotting Kashmir’s timeline. Joshi’s Ekta Yatra (Unity March), protected and provided of full support by the Indian government, was an important reminder of the nature of the Indian state and the relationship it sought with the people of Kashmir. The event was designed to put on display the majoritarian character of Indian nationhood, and line up power of the state behind it to send barely coded messages to audiences in India and in Kashmir.
July 17, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Tensions are high in Costa Rica following the announcement of the impending arrival of United States military vessels. In the past year alone, a sudden expansion of US military presence around Latin America has alarmed many in the region. Now it is spreading to the one nation which had previously been known for the absence of any standing permanent army, foreign or national.
After receiving a diplomatic request from the US Embassy, on July 1 the Costa Rican legislative assembly approved a measure to grant unprecedented access to a US military fleet in Costa Rica’s waters. The vessels will arrive for at least six months to assist counter-narcotics operations by Costa Rican authorities. Costa Rica has long been used a stopping point of entry for drugs coming from Colombia and Panama on their way further north.
This type of partnership between the US and Costa Rica is not new. Since 1999, a maritime agreement titled the “Joint Patrol” has allowed the US Coast Guard to operate in the waters of Costa Rica for similar purposes. However, this particular agreement goes far beyond previously established boundaries. The Joint Patrol agreement limited US personnel to Coast Guard only, allowing for Costa Rican law enforcement to ride on US ships if they have reason to suspect suspicious activity, and vice versa.
« Read the rest of this entry »
June 25, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In this clip, the host isn’t particularly well-informed about Afghanistan and some of his comments are plain silly. But some of Wilkerson’s commentary is interesting. As Gareth Porter has repeatedly pointed out, the war is rooted in domestic political consdierations. It has nothing to do with US strategic interests, Leftist conspiracy theories notwithstanding (which for some reason excuse the war’s present architects to always focus on Zbigniew Brzezinski, a man who has been advising against occupying Afghanistan for 9 years).
Lawrence Wilkerson: Overall objectives and basic strategy in Afghanistan are wrong – it’s time to leave.
June 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
by Tariq Ali
General Stanley McChrystal’s kamikaze interview had the desired effect. He was sacked and replaced by his boss General David Petraeus. But behind the drama in Washington is a war gone badly wrong and no amount of sweet talk can hide this fact. The loathing for Holbrooke (a Clinton creature) goes deep not because of his personal defects, of which there are many, but because his attempt to dump Karzai without a serious replacement angered the generals. Aware that the war is unwinnable, they were not prepared to see Karzai fall: without a Pashtun point man in the country the collapse might reach Saigon proportions. All the generals are aware that the stalemate is not easy to break, but desirous of building reputations and careers and experimenting with new weapons and new strategies (real war games are always appealing to the military provided the risks are small) they have obeyed orders despite disagreements with each other and the politicians.