From Liberation to Assassination

Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army Colonel, Boston University professor, author of Washington Rules, and editor most recently of The Short American Century, talks about the changing face of the so-called global war on terror. Also check his scorecard for the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism.

Heart & Mind-O-Matic

From the great, Pulitzer-Prize winning political cartoonist Mark Fiore.

Learn all about the US drone program in Pakistan and other lucky countries across the globe! See how fortunate one young villager is to have the US looking out for him and fighting extremism. Never mind the attacks on funerals and rescuers. A Mark Fiore political animation.

Cold, Cold Heart

by Kathy Kelly

It’s Valentine’s Day, and opening the little cartoon on the Google page brings up a sentimental animation with Tony Bennett singing “why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart.”

Here in Dubai, where I’m awaiting a visa to visit Afghanistan, the weather is already warm and humid.  But my bags are packed with sweaters because Kabul is still reeling from the coldest winter on record.  Two weeks ago, eight children under age five froze to death there in one of the sprawling refugee camps inhabited by so many who have fled from the battles in other provinces.  Since January 15, at least 23 children under 5 have frozen to death in the camps.

And just over a week ago, eight young shepherds, all but one under 14 years of age, lit a fire for warmth on the snowy Afghan mountainside in Kapisa Province where they were helping support their families by grazing sheep.  French troops saw the fire, and acted on faulty information, and the boys were all killed in two successive NATO airstrikes.  The usual denunciations from local authorities, and Western apologies, followed. (Trend News, February 10, 2012).

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Book excerpt–Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil?

The following excerpt is from Derrick O’Keefe’s Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil?, recently released by Verso as part of its Counterblasts series. The book has been described as a “forensic critique of the influential liberal [and] his opposition to fundamental human rights, the extension of democracy and the pursuit of economic equality”.

The excerpt deals with Ignatieff’s initial cheerleading for the war on terror.

Click here to read a new interview with O’Keefe at the New Left Project.

It would be wrong to treat Ignatieff’s judgment on Iraq merely as “a mistake.” In fact, it flowed inexorably from his near-total identification with U.S. military power. In Empire Lite (2003), Ignatieff takes up an old family business — propagandizing for imperialism. Lamentably, the good old days of his great grandfathers Nicholas Ignatieff and George Monro Grant were long gone, but the great-grandson still came out swinging: “Imperialism used to be the white man’s burden. This gave it a bad reputation. But imperialism doesn’t stop being necessary just because it becomes politically incorrect.”

Empire Lite is heavy on these sorts of pithy, in-your-face, politically incorrect phrases. No effete, overly intellectual constructions from this teller of hard truths. Ignatieff sought to rouse the complacent American liberal conscience to its historical duty.

America’s entire war on terror is an exercise in imperialism. This may come as a shock to Americans, who don’t like to think of their country as an empire. But what else can you call America’s legions of soldiers, spooks and Special Forces straddling the globe? These garrisons are by no means temporary. Terror can’t be controlled unless order is built in the anarchic zones where terrorists find shelter.

There were plenty of new battles to be fought — weak-kneed fools be damned. And the new rationales for military intervention that Ignatieff and others had been road-testing in the 1990s were more sought-after commodities than ever before. Newly ensconced at Harvard, Ignatieff was well positioned to be in the frontline of the battle of ideas over the war on terror.

In the early days after 9/11, Ignatieff was quick to stake out a hawkish position, writing in the Guardian that the terror attacks on the United States were an act of “apocalyptic nihilism,” outside the realm of politics. Those who believed that “the terrorists’ hatreds must be understood, and that what they hate must be changed so that they will hate no more” were dismissed as naïve and foolhardy. “Since the politics of reason cannot defeat apocalyptic nihilism, we must fight,” he thundered.

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“America’s Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost.”

An end of the year lament.

by William A. Cook

“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant (Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Peck). Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised…” — Jeremiah Wright, September 16, 2001.

Prophets fare poorly in their own country, yet countries would do well to hearken to their prophets. Scorn, ridicule, and innuendo attend their pronouncements as the righteous defend their actions as logical, existential and necessary. Jeremiah Wright suffered such scorn and mockery because he understood the consequences of revenge on the innocent and the defenceless, justified by whatever inane discourse. Wright spoke truth to power that Sunday after 9/11 and the righteous cried to heaven condemning him to perdition for defaming America, for even suggesting that revenge for the sake of revenge is the motivation of the arch fiend against the Almighty, the foulest, most ignorant, most amoral rational for action.

Prophets anticipate truth; they review a nation’s past history and can predict its future. Witness America’s past as the Reverend Wright did that Sunday morning, and what America is doing now repeats its ugliness. Wright said this about America’s past:
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Hearts and Minds

Armed US drones have been blamed for more than 300 missile attacks in seven years in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Residents of Pakistan’s tribal areas say that they feel terrorised by the strikes, and doctors say that those who survive them often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder met with the survivors of one such strike at a hospital in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Kargas

The following is cross-posted from Lobelog.com. 

Iran’s Zahedan airport is located on a road named for Allama Iqbal, the great Indian philosopher whom Pakistan after partition adopted as its national poet. The shaheen, or eagle, features prominently in Iqbal’s poetry, as a symbol of vigour, dignity and daring. It is contrasted against the figure of the kargas, or vulture, which represents cunning, cowardice and ignobility. It is the latter appellation that the region frequently applies to the CIA drones which today menace the skies from Waziristan, Kandahar to Zahedan. But shaheen or kargas, they are both ferocious; and it is a feat to capture either. Small wonder then, that some in Iran see cause for celebration in the capture of CIA’s RQ-170 Sentinel drone, a stealth surveillance craft manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

This is not the first time the CIA has delivered one of its most advanced aircraft for inevitable reverse engineering to its putative enemy. On April 9, 1960, people at the Zahedan airport watched anxiously as an aircraft with unusually wide wings approached from the north-east. The Lockheed U-2C was on a top-secret spying mission for the CIA, but its target was not Iran. Indeed, it was coming in to land after being chased by several fighter planes. Over the previous 8 hours, the plane had photographed four strategic Soviet military sites from an altitude of 70,000 feet, well out of the reach of the Russian MiGs and Sukhois. It embarked on its mission from the Badaber air force base 10 miles to the south of Peshawar.

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Obama’s drone war claims another victim

by Clive Stafford Smith

Tariq Aziz sits in the centre of the second row in this picture from the 28 October 2011 Jirga with tribal elders and lawyers from Reprieve.

LAST Friday, I took part in an unusual meeting in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

The meeting had been organized so that Pashtun tribal elders who lived along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier could meet with Westerners for the first time to offer their perspectives on the shadowy drone war being waged by the Central Intelligence Agency in their region. Twenty men came to air their views; some brought their young sons along to experience this rare interaction with Americans. In all, 60 villagers made the journey.

The meeting was organized as a traditional jirga. In Pashtun culture, a jirga acts as both a parliament and a courtroom: it is the time-honored way in which Pashtuns have tried to establish rules and settle differences amicably with those who they feel have wronged them.

On the night before the meeting, we had a dinner, to break the ice. During the meal, I met a boy named Tariq Aziz. He was 16. As we ate, the stern, bearded faces all around me slowly melted into smiles. Tariq smiled much sooner; he was too young to boast much facial hair, and too young to have learned to hate.

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10 Years After: Welcome to the Failed State of Americastan.

by Johnny Barber

Kabul–As we step off the Turkish Air flight and walk across the dusty tarmac to the terminal, we are greeted by a large billboard. In big bold English it proclaims, “Welcome to the Home of the Brave.” It stops me in my tracks. I shake my head, thinking, “damn weird” and continue in to passport control. After waiting in a short line, I present my American passport to the guard in the booth. He doesn’t acknowledge me. He flips through the shiny new pages until he gets to the visa. He stamps it. He turns to the picture. He gives me a precursory glance and hands the passport back to me. I turn and enter Afghanistan.

I have come here with two friends from Voices for Creative Non-Violence, forming a small delegation interested in developing relationships with ordinary Afghans and gathering stories of everyday life since the American invasion in 2001. After collecting our luggage and taking a short bus ride to the parking area, Hakim, Mohammed Jan, and his brother Noor greet us warmly. Hakim and Mohammed Jan are our hosts and the organizing force of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.

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