From Beirut to Kabul: War, Occupation, Resistance

One of the world’s best frontline reporters, Nir Rosen recently returned from a six week trip to seven of Iraq’s provinces. He discussed post civil war Iraq and also his experiences reporting on Sunni-Shiite strife in Lebanon and on the situation in Afghanistan at The University of Texas at Austin on November 17, 2010.

 

Manufacturing Consent and Violence: Azadi, Arundhati, Hindutva Terror, and Indian Media

by Huma Dar

At a groundbreaking seminar, ‘Azadi: The Only Way,’ organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) in New Delhi, India, on October 21st, 2010, the minutes record that Arundhati Roy, the prize-winning author of The God of Small Things, asserted that

[Kashmir] has never been an integral part of India and the Indian government recognised it as a disputed territory and took it to the UN on its own accord. In 1947 we were told that India became a sovereign democracy. But it became a country as per the imagination of its colonizer, and continued to be a colonizer even after the British left the country. Indian state forcibly or deceitfully annexed the North-East, Goa, Junagarh, Telangana, etc… the Indian state has waged a protracted war against the people which it calls its own. Who are the people it has waged war against? The people of North-East, Kashmir, Punjab, etc. This is an upper caste Hindu state waging a continuing struggle against the people. Continue reading “Manufacturing Consent and Violence: Azadi, Arundhati, Hindutva Terror, and Indian Media”

John Mearsheimer on WikiLeaks Iraq logs

John Mearsheimer debates the WikiLeaks war logs with Patrick Mansoor, a former Petraeus aide.

JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago:
[I]t does make it very clear how horrible the violence has been in Iraq since we invaded in 2003. And it also is quite clear from the documents that the United States has played an important role in making that violence happen.

Not only do the documents show that American soldiers and airmen have killed large numbers of civilians. It’s also clear that we didn’t do much at all to stop the Iraqis from torturing and murdering prisoners. This was a huge mistake on our part. […]

Continue reading “John Mearsheimer on WikiLeaks Iraq logs”

Pakistan: Between Drones and a Deluge

by Tariq Ali

As if everyday life in Pakistan weren’t dispiriting enough, last month the swift and turbulent Indus burst its banks and swathes of the country disappeared under water. Divine punishment, the poor said, but they were the ones who suffered. Allah rarely targets the rich. As the floods came and the country panicked, its president fled the bunker and went on a tour of inspection to France and Britain.

The floodwaters have now receded in many parts of the country, leaving 20 million people homeless. The province of Sindh, however, is still under threat and 800,000 people are marooned without food. Aid agencies estimate the bail-out costs for the country at between seven and ten billion dollars, but only $800 million has been pledged by foreign donors, in total contrast to the support given after the devastating earthquake of 2005. The rebuilt towns and villages are proof that not all the money was stolen that time. But despite this, little help has been forthcoming from abroad, the result of a combination of Islamophobia and distrust of the Zardari government on financial matters.

Did the rulers of Pakistan treat the worst natural disaster to hit their country as an emergency, and pull out all the stops without thinking of themselves or drooling at the prospects of foreign aid pouring in? Like hell they did. For the whole of August the plutocracy floundered hopelessly as the catastrophe grew. The army did its best, but was hindered by the war on terror. As nearly a million people came under threat from the floodwater in Jacobabad, the local authorities were informed that the nearby Shahbaz airbase could not be used for rescue operations. In response to a parliamentary question from the opposition, the health secretary, Khushnood Lashari, explained: ‘Health relief operations are not possible in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad because the airbase is controlled by the United States.’ It was not necessary to add that those on the base were busy arming and dispatching drones to hit villages in northern Pakistan. In Swat, closer to the AfPak war zones, a detachment of marines was made available to airlift tribal elders to safety, in an attempt presumably to win hearts and minds. Some hope.

Continue reading “Pakistan: Between Drones and a Deluge”

Ahmed Rashid’s Strange Plan

by Tariq Ali

Ahmed Rashid: Pentagon's man in Pakistan

A few days ago, the West’s favorite Pakistani journalist, Ahmed Rashid, wrote a ‘guest column’ on the BBC website in which he suggested that the Afghan governance model be transferred to Pakistan:

Pakistan’s Reconstruction Trust Fund could be run by a board that included the World Bank, other international lending agencies and independent and prominent Pakistani economists and social welfare figures with no ties to the government.

Pakistanis would still take all the major decisions, but those who did so would not be the cronies of the president, the PM or the opposition leaders.Pakistan’s finance bureaucracy and army would have seats at the table, but certainly no veto powers over how the money is spent.

Their job would be impartial implementation of recovery overseen by the Trust Fund. Such a fund would not just monitor the cash, but help the government put together a non-political, neutral reconstruction effort. It would also help plan long-term economic reforms….

The notion that that the World Bank, IMF and friends are ‘non-political’ and ‘neutral’ is risible and not worth wasting time on, especially given that their supervision of Afghanistan’s largest bank (largely owned and controlled by the Karzai family and just as corrupt as Zardari and his cronies) doesn’t seem to have been all that effective since it collapsed just as the BBC website published the path-breaking text.

Continue reading “Ahmed Rashid’s Strange Plan”

Million dollar militia

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.

Why Wikileaks must be protected

by John Pilger

On 26 July, Wikileaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. Wikileaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing for both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times are a fraction.

There is understandably hysteria on high, with demands that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “hunted down” and “rendered”. In Washington, I interviewed a senior Defence Department official and asked, “Can you give a guarantee that the editors of Wikileaks and the editor in chief, who is not American, will not be subjected to the kind of manhunt that we read about in the media?” He replied, “It’s not my position to give guarantees on anything”. He referred me to the “ongoing criminal investigation” of a US soldier, Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleblower. In a nation that claims its constitution protects truth-tellers, the Obama administration is pursuing and prosecuting more whistleblowers than any of its modern predecessors. A Pentagon document states bluntly that US intelligence intends to “fatally marginalise” Wikileaks. The preferred tactic is smear, with corporate journalists ever ready to play their part.

Continue reading “Why Wikileaks must be protected”

Exit Afghanistan

This excellent documentary produced by the Dutch VPROInternational is a must see. It presents a picture of the Afghan  conflict with the kind of nuance you are unlikely to find on British or American TV.

Continue reading “Exit Afghanistan”

One More War, Please

by David Bromwich

Will the summer of 2010 be remembered as the time when we turned into a nation of sleepwalkers? We have heard reports of the intrusion of the state into everyday life, and of miscarriages of American power abroad. The reports made a stir, but as suddenly as they came they were gone. The last two weeks of July saw two such stories on almost successive days.

First there was “Top Secret America,” the three-part Washington Post report by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin on the hyperextension of private contracts, government buildings, and tax-funded expenditures in the secret surveillance economy. Since 2001, the new industries of data mining and analysis have yielded close to a million top secret clearances for Americans to spy on other Americans. Then at the end of July came the release of 90,000 documents by Wikileaks, as reported and linked by the New York Times, which revealed among other facts the futility of American “building” efforts in Afghanistan. We are making no headway there, in the face of the unending American killing of civilians; meanwhile, American taxes go to support a Pakistani intelligence service that channels the money to terrorists who kill American soldiers: a treadmill of violence. Both findings the mainstream media brought forward as legitimate stories, or advanced as raw materials of a story yet to be told more fully. This was an improvement on the practice of reporting stories spoon-fed to reporters by the government and “checked” by unnamed sources also in government. Yet, as has happened in many cases in the mass media after 2001 — one thinks of David Barstow’s story on the “war experts” coached by the Pentagon and hired by the networks — the stories on secret surveillance and the Afghanistan documents were printed and let go: no follow-up either in the media or in Congress.

We seem to have entered a moral limbo where political judgment is suspended and public opinion cannot catch its breath.

Continue reading “One More War, Please”

“Truth Alone Triumphs”: of David, Goliath, Stones, and Speech

“Azadi” is also the chant whose echoes swirl in the Kashmir Valley with greater resonance each day, from the minarets and playgrounds, boulevards and alleys, schools and courts, despite the crushing screeches of teargas and bullets of the Indian (in)security forces. It is “scriptured” into utterance by each breath of Kashmiri women, children, and men; calligraphed by their blood on their emerald valley; embroidered by their bones in Kashmiri Arabesque on worn cobblestones of the downtown; and papier-mâchéd in paisley tears on the blue of their beloved lakes.

by Huma Dar

“A Defiant Kashmiri woman being frisked by Indian Security Forces.” 2007. Uncredited photograph from a Kashmiri blogger

 

And the night’s sun there in Srinagar?  Guns shoot stars into the sky, the storm of constellations night after night, the infinite that rages on.  It was Id-uz-Zuha: a record of God’s inability, for even He must melt sometimes, to let Ishmael be executed by the hand of his father.  Srinagar was under curfew.  The identity pass may or may not have helped in the crackdown.  Son after son–never to return from the night of torture–was taken away.

… But the reports are true, and without song: mass rapes in the villages, towns left in cinders, neighborhoods torched.  “Power is hideous / like a barber’s hands.”  The rubble of downtown Srinagar stares at me from the Times.

… And that blesséd word with no meaning–who will utter it?  What is it?  Will the women pronounce it, as if scripturing the air, for the first time?  Or the last?

… What is the blesséd word?  Mandelstam gives no clue.  One day the Kashmiris will pronounce that word truly for the first time.  (Excerpt from Agha Shahid Ali’s “The Blesséd Word: A Prologue,” in The Country Without A Post Office,  1997: 16-17)

Continue reading ““Truth Alone Triumphs”: of David, Goliath, Stones, and Speech”

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