Andrew J. Bacevich Rewriting the Past by Adding In What’s Been Left Out. (via TomDispatch)
In a recent column, theWashington Post’sRichard Cohen wrote, “What Henry Luce called ‘the American Century’ is over.” Cohen is right. All that remains is to drive a stake through the heart of Luce’s pernicious creation, lest it come back to life. This promises to take some doing.
When theTime-Lifepublisher coined his famous phrase, his intent was to prod his fellow citizens into action. Appearing in the February 7, 1941 issue ofLife, his essay, “The American Century,” hit the newsstands at a moment when the world was in the throes of a vast crisis. A war in Europe had gone disastrously awry. A second almost equally dangerous conflict was unfolding in the Far East. Aggressors were on the march.
A US major reveals the inside story of military interrogation in Iraq in this report by Patrick Cockburn, winner of the 2009 Orwell Prize for journalism
The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq.
“The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa’ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology,” says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq. It was the team led by Major Alexander [a named assumed for security reasons] that obtained the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa’ida in Iraq. Zarqawi was then killed by bombs dropped by two US aircraft on the farm where he was hiding outside Baghdad on 7 June 2006. Major Alexander said that he learnt where Zarqawi was during a six-hour interrogation of a prisoner with whom he established relations of trust.
India in Afghanistan. Graham Usher writes that ‘peace in Afghanistan rests on peace between India and Pakistan. The road out of Kabul goes through Kashmir.’
Pakistan and India have been at war since 1948. There have been occasional flare-ups, pitched battles between the two armies, but mostly the war has taken the form of a guerrilla battle between the Indian army and Pakistani surrogates in Kashmir. In 2004 the two countries began a cautious peace process, but rather than ending, the war has since migrated to Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas on the Afghan border. ‘Safe havens’ for a reinvigorated Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida, the tribal areas are seen by the West as the ‘greatest threat’ to its security, as well as being the main cause of Western frustration with Pakistan. The reason is simple: the Pakistan army’s counterinsurgency strategy is not principally directed at the Taliban or even al-Qaida: the main enemy is India.
In the Bajaur tribal area, for example, the army is fighting an insurgency led by Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of one of Pakistan’s three Taliban factions, but it’s not because he is a friend of al-Qaida. What makes him a threat, in the eyes of Pakistan’s army, is that he is believed to be responsible for scores of suicide attacks inside Pakistan (including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto). He is also thought to have recruited hundreds of Afghan fighters, among them ‘agents’ from the Afghan and Indian intelligence services – ‘Pakistan’s enemies’, in the words of a senior officer.
The Taliban, whose extreme interpretation of Sharia law and its harsh punishments made Afghanistan one of world’s most repressive and reviled regimes, have agreed to soften their position on such things as beards and burqas as part of a trade-off in negotiations with the Afghan government…Although the new stance shows a shift in the Taliban posture, some demands are certain to be rejected by both President Karzai’s government and the Americans. They include the stipulation that all foreign forces should withdraw from Afghanistan within six months.
The Canadian government has basically latched on its foreign policy to the United States and Israel. Around the world Canada is closing down consulates and offices (the latest one is a commercial/consulate in Milan, Italy) — there is no need for these if Canada merely aims to ape the US. At the United Nations, Canada’s votes are the same as those of the United States. It used to be only the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, and Israel that voted with the US, but now Canada joins this august gang. The US tells Canada to “jump!”, the Canadian lackeys merely ask how high. The latest sordid demonstration of the Israelization of Canada is the recent declaration that Canada would bar the entry of George Galloway, the British MP who just returned from Gaza. Prof. Cook explains the significance of this.
Banning Galloway Mocks Canada’s Criminal Code
by William A. Cook
Canada’s border security officials and Jason Kenny, the immigration minister, banned George Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, from Canada where he was scheduled to speak in Toronto on the 30th. “A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the decision … was based on a ‘number of factors’ in accordance with section 34 (1) of the country’s immigration act” (Guardian.co.uk 20 March 09). This action denies Galloway entrance as a foreign national on security grounds for one or more of six reasons including “engaging in terrorism,” and “engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada.” The CJC, the Canadian Jewish Congress, supporting the decision, noted that it should be seen as an “issue of security law, not a dispute over free speech” (27 Mar. 2009, Montreal Gazette). Indeed, other Jewish organizations like the League of Human Rights of B’nai B’rith, not only supported the action but took some credit for the banning of Galloway.
Based on a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report, containing testimonies by 14 “High Value Detainees” captured during the course of 2002 by US forces, Mark Danner reports about the “the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program” which “either singly or in combination, constituted torture” and “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
We think time and elections will cleanse our fallen world but they will not. Since November, George W. Bush and his administration have seemed to be rushing away from us at accelerating speed, a dark comet hurtling toward the ends of the universe. The phrase “War on Terror”—the signal slogan of that administration, so cherished by the man who took pride in proclaiming that he was “a wartime president”—has acquired in its pronouncement a permanent pair of quotation marks, suggesting something questionable, something mildly embarrassing: something past. And yet the decisions that that president made, especially the monumental decisions taken after the attacks of September 11, 2001—decisions about rendition, surveillance, interrogation—lie strewn about us still, unclaimed and unburied, like corpses freshly dead.
Today on Flashpoints: Internationally-renowned Middle East reporter Robert Fisk talks to Dennis Bernstein about Afghanistan, Iraq and the recent attacks in Gaza and the way in which the Western press continues to fail in covering these stories
‘The intention of the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team was to send a clear message to Washington: Pakistan is ungovernable,’ writes Tariq Ali.
The appalling terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricketersin Pakistan had one aim: to demonstrate to Washington that the country is ungovernable. This is the first time that cricketers have been targeted in a land where the sport is akin to religion. It marks the death of international cricket in Pakistan for the indefinite future, but not just that, which is bad enough. The country’s future is looking more and more precarious. We do not know which particular group carried out this attack, but its identity is hardly relevant. The fact is that it took place at a time when three interrelated events had angered a large bulk of the country and provided succour to extremist groups and their patrons.
TruthDig: This is the text of a talk by Chris Hedges that will be read at anti-war gatherings to be held by The World Can’t Wait in New York’s Union Square, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago and Berkeley on March 19 to protest the sixth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.
Barack Obama has shown that he is as capable of doublespeak as any other politician when he announced an end to the war in Iraq. Combat troops are to be pulled out of Iraq by August 2010, he said, but some 50,000 occupation troops will remain behind. Someone should let the Iraqis know the distinction. I doubt any soldier or Marine in Iraq will notice much difference in 19 months. Many combat units will simply be relabeled as noncombat units. And what about our small army of well-paid contractors and mercenaries? Will Dyncorp, Bechtel, Blackwater (which recently changed its name to Xe), all of whom have made fortunes off the war, pack up and go home? What about the three large super-bases, dozens of smaller military outposts and our imperial city, the Green Zone? Will American corporations give up their lucrative control of Iraqi oil?