Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama and the Democracy Paradox

Obama has a huge problem along with his overt and covert wars. Part of Obama’s plan for Afghanistan was to win the hearts and minds of Afghans. And part of the plan for winning hearts and minds supposedly is to ensure that Afghanistan is a stable democracy. This brings us to what Samuel Huntington called the democracy paradox. The paradox is basically when you install a democratic government in whatever Bananastan the wrong people (those not friendly to the U.S.) just might be elected.


But he looked with a skeptical eye on the American expedition to Iraq, uneasy with those American conservatives who had come to believe in an "imperial" American mission. He foresaw frustration for this drive to democratize other lands. The American people would not sustain this project, he observed, and there was the "paradox of democracy": Democratic experiments often bring in their wake nationalistic populist movements (Latin America) or fundamentalist movements (Muslim countries). The world tempts power, and denies it. It is the Huntingtonian world; no false hopes and no redemption.

Okay, we know this has happened in the past. Just look at Hamas in Gaza. In 2006 W. Bush pushed for and backed elections by the Palestinians who then promptly gave Hamas 76 out of 132 Parliamentary seats. Bush was of course furious, the paradox of democracy had struck again and no doubt had much to do with Israel’s U.S. backed and supported brutal attack on Gaza at the beginning of the year. How dare they defy the wishes of the west which is something the west rarely tolerates as the Gazans found out. The truth to wring from this is that the U.S. doesn’t really believe in democracy at all. At least not for brown people, unless they vote nicely according to U.S. desires.


On January 25, Palestinians went to the polls and, in an election supported by the United States and judged free and fair by observers, elected members of Hamas, a movement on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist-organization list, to 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats.

So now we have George W. Obama who gave us a smooth transition from Bubba to Barry without so much as a ripple in the power pond. But now we venture into a little conjecture here where I suggest that Obama has the answer to the paradox which is another paradox. The paradox of making an election seem fair while making sure our guy wins. Obama should know all about this. I’m not just pulling this out of thin air, there are precedents. Noam Chomsky discusses it in Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy where he says regarding Reagan and El Salvador…

Thomas Carothers, who calls himself a neo-Reganite, has written very honestly about all these things. He was part of part of the State Department in the 1980s, part of what they call the “democracy enhancement” programs under Reagan. He describes these programs as very sincere – we really wanted to do it – but there was a problem: The wrong people might win. So therefore in El Salvador, which was their prize example, he said the United States had two policies. One was to run technically credible elections, and the other was to make sure our candidate wins. He says it virtually in those words. And if anybody looks at what happened, they’ll find that that’s exactly what was done. True, that meant having to massacre 70,000 people, and blowing the brains out of the leading intellectuals, but that’s what had to be done. Yet still, says Carothers, it’ sincere. In fact, he says if you look at it you’ll find what he calls a strong line of continuity that runs through every U.S. administration through George W. Bush. Every administration is schizophrenic, beset with some kind of strange malady. They support democracy if and only if it conforms to U.S. economic and strategic objectives.

But then again perhaps Obama hasn’t taken the paradox of democracy into consideration. According to Juan Cole…


The presidential election, which had been intended by Obama and his NATO allies as a political victory over the Taliban, is swiftly turning into a major debacle.

Voter turnout fell from some 70 percent in the last presidential election, likely to only 30-something percent this time (not the 50% initially estimated, presumably by someone with an interest in hyping the event for propaganda purposes). In some southern provinces such as Helmand, turnout was only 10 percent, a datum that demonstrates that the people of Helmand simply had no voice in this election and it does not meet international standards of legitimacy. (Voters must be held harmless from threats and violence).

From the sound of it Obama has failed to ensure that this is a credible election which is a part of Carothers' formula of making an election credible while ensuring your guy wins. At any rate it looks like the paradox of democracy has struck again where an assumed victory over the Taliban is fizzling out.

Naturally the true interest is again the planned oil line that by-passes Russia to go through Afghanistan and maybe our indoctrinated leaders actually believe that a democracy in Afghanistan will make Afghanistan safe for the oil line yet it remains a fool’s errand. The Generals will soon be asking for more troops to defeat the Taliban who are more resilient than were evidently given credit for. The election seems to be going south along with the war.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Breaking the Democrat Barrier

Some time ago I went through an exercise where I tried to find out as much as I could about the histories of all the Democratic presidents. I ended up writing a series of posts on what I had learned which were okay I guess. I’m neither an historian or a writer but one thing I found is that there is very little that is new under the sun when it comes to politics which I’m not particularly interested in. Frankly.

What I came away with is that the Democratic Party is truly one faction of the War Party, the other half being the Republican Party naturally. And another something that I came away with is that the Democratic Party did not just suddenly become rotten, they’ve always been pretty damned rotten. The Republicans are no better for their part. In fact, the whole idea that a two party system exists strikes me as farcical. Yes, the two parties compete with each other, sometimes or often with great rancor. But that does not mean they are all that different from each other, merely the same parasitic vultures fighting over the same carrion.

I’m not going to bore you with hair-raising examples regarding bad acting Democrats, I’m sick of writing about these depressing assholes anyway. What I do suggest is go look for yourself. Get on Google and or go to a library and read about the history of each Democratic president. It’s a place to start anyway.

Or you could get a copy of Dennis Perrin’s Savage Mules where Dennis has already done the work for you. Apparently when Dennis wrote the book a number of people said that they would be willing to discuss it with him. In the end none of those who said that they would were willing to discuss the book. Democratic supporters take criticism of their bloody leaders as poorly as Republicans do, heads thrust forward, eyes bulging out, faces red, and I don’t recommend criticizing Democrats in front of a follower of the faith, definitely not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Liberal Gipper

Teddy n Dennis 1971

My mother was in love with the Kennedy mystique, especially with JFK.And while I am close to Dennis Perrin's age, Dennis being similarly impressed with Teddy, I nevertheless have difficulty sharing his enthusiasm, or my late mother's. Dennis rightly notes Carter's rightward tilt, and certainly Carter started some of the unfortunate deregulation that Reagan subsequently kicked into high gear. All the same, I don't think Carter was as ideologically indistinguishable from Reagan as Obama seems compared to McCain-- and I wonder to what degree we have Teddy Kennedy's hubris in staying in the democratic race just past the bitter end to thank for Reagan being elected in 1980.

From my vantage point it seems that a lot of left-wing bloggers who frequently bash Obama, however right they may be in doing so, often have something of a tin ear when it comes to "less-sexy" domestic policy issues. If they praise Kennedy for being to the left of Carter and a "liberal lion", I can't help but think that they fail to see Kennedy's blindness in dealing with Obama and his wretched, poisonous, healthcare plan. The ancient Greeks used to say you could not judge the quality of a man's life until his very last breath. My primitive understanding of Western classical culture being what it is, I think they were talking about the private,personal quality of life the person experienced, as opposed to the person's public character, so it's an ill-fitting metaphor-- but I'll use it.

Yes, Ted Kennedy did some good things, like help foster the COBRA healthcare act, but he himself described universal healthcare as the cause of his life, and if you judge him by what he did to help usher it in towards the end, he blew it pretty badly.

Read his July 18th essay in Newsweek, also entitled "The cause of my life" in which he criticizes Jimmy Carter for what he calls his piecemeal approach in 1980, and says, regarding the current legislative effort, that "Incremental measures won't suffice anymore." But then Kennedy goes on to say he doesn't support a single-payer scheme because he feels it's impractical, and he does support a "public option", as well as individual mandates. (But hey, Carter's approach was piecemeal.)

Kennedy was dying and he knew it, but as far as I can tell he said nothing about the gradual gutting of the legislation over the course of the summer, nor anything about Obama's very public vacillation regarding his support for the public option.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Af-Pak, pt 2

photo: Getty images/BBC

Jeremy Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, "Ex-ISI Chief Says Purpose of New Afghan Intelligence Agency RAMA Is ‘to destabilize Pakistan’"Aug. 12th

Carlotta Gall, New York Times, "Peace Talks with Taliban top issue in Afghan Vote", Aug 17th,
Anne Applebaum,Slate, "It Doesn't Matter Who Wins the Afghan Election" Aug. 18th,
Stephen Walt, Foreign Policy, 'The "safe haven" myth', Aug 18th,
Peter Bergen, Foreign Policy, "How realistic is Walt's Realism?", Aug 19th
Christopher Allbritton, Insurgency Watch, "Why Pakistan's Delaying its Waziristan Push" August 19, 2009
Juan Cole, Salon, "As Afghans Vote, American Support for Afghan War Collapses" Aug 20th,
Helena Cobban, Just World News"Does Afghanistan's election matter? How, exactly?" Aug 21st.
Chris Floyd, "Af-Pak Masquerade", Aug 21st,
CNN:"Taliban cut off fingers of Afghan voters" Aug 22nd.
Christian Science Monitor, "More US troops to Afghanistan? Why Mullen won't answer", Aug 23rd

(and "Af-Pak pt 1" is here.)

Starting with the most recent item and moving backwards, Mark Sappenfield in the Christian Science Monitor writes:
America has never before had a plan – or the resources – to do what must be done. Mullen put it this way: "This is the first time we've really resourced a strategy on both the civilian and military side."
The reason, of course, is Iraq. Almost all the Pentagon's top minds and money went to Baghdad. This was particularly true in the surge, and that helped turn the tide of the war. In Afghanistan, that process truly just began this spring, when President Obama for the first time announced a clear strategy for American forces in Afghanistan.
To do what must be done. Sounds ominous to me, especially since it suggests that "what must be done" is so undeniable, has already been agreed upon, a fait accompli-- and it doesn't sound like the negotiating of peace that the New York Times' Carlotta Gall suggests is primary in the mind of Afghan voters. Politicians in the US don't always listen to what American voters want, but this is never referred to in our press as corruption or in any way an issue of the government's legitimacy, but American politicians and journalists seem very worried that this week's Afghan election be perceived as legit in the eyes of Afghan voters, as well as elsewhere, like across the border in Pakistan.

Was the election legitimate? Who knows? The Taliban actively discouraged people from participating, decrying the whole process as illegitimate. Sociologists study the often illogical factors that people weigh when making their decisions, such as when American liberals weigh a candidate's "electability" versus her stands on issues. I wonder if any voters in Afghanistan, viewing incumbent Karzai as a US puppet, considered their options, then, deciding that the election is a sham anyway, said maybe if they re-elect the candidate the US wants, the soldiers will go home?

Helena Cobban seems to think that as long as the winner is seen as acceptable to the Afghan public, proves "manageable", and the no. 2 candidate doesn't put up too much of a fuss, the US and NATO are unlikely to care very much who wins. I imagine she's right. It also occurs to me that both the Taliban and the Pentagon benefit from low turnout. Since low turnout suggests the result was not legitimate-- good for the Taliban, as well as proving that US forces are needed to stay (for years on end?) because the security situation clearly isn't good-- good for Pentagon appropriations. But that's just silly, right?

Jeremy Hammond talked to Hamid Gul(above), a retired Pakistani general and former head of their intelligence. Gul says that the US, India and Israel are all involved in assisting the TPP(the fundamentalist group fighting the Pakistani government) because one of the purposes of the Af-Pak war is to destabilze Pakistan. Naturally I hope Gul is wrong, but he lays out a compelling case. Hammond also notes that the US government has accused Gul of aiding the Taliban in the past, which he denies.

Both Gul and Chris Floyd discuss Unocal's refusal to ink a deal with Taliban for a pipeline in 2001, and Gul reminds the reader of Taliban leader Mullah Omar's offer to send Bin Laden to a third country, not the US, where he would receive a trial according to Sharia law, which George W. Bush refused.

People in the west, or at least here, often forget this detail.

The problem with accommodating such a face-saving request would have been that Bush Jnr would essentially have conceded that the US way of doing things isn't always the best way.Critics on his right flank, and maybe even on his left, would have become livid that the ragheads were telling us how to do things. All "they" understand is force, American force.

In "Obama's magnificent opportunity", although he doesn't say so directly, Rob Payne suggests that Obama has a real chance to halt America's slide into the post-imperial ditch we've been digging for the past 30 or 40 or so years. Of course Rob seems to be making his point in a roundabout, playful way-- being the wiseacre that he is-- and recognizing the narrowness of Obama's careerist vision for what it is, knows this is just the kind of dream you have when you had too much spicy cheese before you went to bed, or something like that .

Some two years ago Arthur Silber observed: terms of fundamentals, there is no difference at all between Republicans and Democrats in the realm of foreign policy. Both parties, our governing elites, and most bloggers all hold the same unchallengeable axiom: that the United States is and should be the unequaled, supreme power in the world, with the capability of directing events across the globe and intervening wherever and whenever we deem it necessary for our "national interests." As [Christopher] Layne notes, all our prominent national voices are united in their conviction that no other state "entertain the 'hope of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.'" Military power on a scale never before seen in world history is the most certain means of ensuring that goal.[...]

I will be blunt: I submit that, considering these facts and the staggering reach of our global military power, any relatively sane person ought to be aghast that our governing class, together with almost every pundit and blogger, will look at these same facts and say only: "More, please!" But this is the inevitable result for a people who are entirely comfortable with the fact that their nation dominates the world, and of their belief that it does so by right.
Occasionally, I have referred to the phenomenon of pathology as foreign policy. When one contemplates these facts, it is very hard to conclude that anything other than pathology is involved. Our strategy is indefensible, irrational and immensely destructive, and yet almost no one questions it. But this particular pathology is so inextricably woven into our myths about the United States and about ourselves as Americans, that we believe this is simply "the way things are," and the way things ought to be.

Arthur is rarely accused of having a light touch-- but he doesn't mince words to avoid uncomfortable conclusions.

Although I'm not convinced that Silber is entirely correct about the attitudes of ordinary Americans, ultimately we do give our consent, in terms of our passivity if nothing else. But what else can regular people do? Students who riot will have their loans revoked, workers who protest will be fired. But we're free. The nice man and nice woman on the television tell us this, and they wouldn't be on TV if they didn't know. Supposedly we're also bringing freedom to Afghanistan, even if it appears we're not doing a very good job, otherwise we'd be done freeing them after 7 years and counting. You'd think.

Ann Applebaum, who also writes for the Washington Post, writes in Slate:

The Taliban is sometimes described as an ideological force, sometimes as a loose ethnic coalition, sometimes as a band of mercenaries, men who fight because they don't have anything else to do. But perhaps with this election, we can now start to use a narrower definition: The Taliban are the people who want to blow up polling stations.The threat is also useful in another sense: It reminds us of what we are fighting for—by which I don't mean "democracy" as such. After all, we are not trying to create some kind of Jeffersonian idyll in the rugged heart of Central Asia, but merely an Afghan government that is recognized as legitimate by the majority of Afghans—a government that can therefore prevent the country from turning back into a haven for terrorist training camps. If there were someone acceptable to all factions, we might presumably consider helping the Afghans restore the monarchy. For that matter, if the Afghans were willing to accept an appointed American puppet, we might, I'm guessing, consider that, too, at this point. But there isn't, and they won't.

I'm guessing, if you met Ann Applebaum, she would seem like a nice person. She probably is a nice person, in the interpersonal sphere, just as nasty commenters in cyberspace are probably mostly nice in person, just like the guy from the Christian Science Monitor is probably a nice person, as , I imagine, even General McMullen is, and so forth. Anne Applebaum's Wikipedia bio mentions that she won the Pulitzer prize a few years ago, that that she went to Yale and the LSE, and that she's an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Her Slate byline just says that she also writes for the Post. Maybe they left the other stuff out because of reactive modesty, going on the theory that Anne probably wouldn't want them to brag about her accomplishments, making her seem all stuffy and pompous. On the other hand, maybe it wasn't very cricket of them to leave out her association with the neocon AEI. I'm guessing they felt that was OK because she isn't writing an editorial, but reporting about the election. Or maybe because she's not a real AEI fellow, just an adjunct.

More likely the former, at least in the eyes of the Slate/WaPo folks, which illustrates Arthur Silber's point about how
'we believe this is simply "the way things are," and the way things ought to be.'
Otherwise, how can you make any sense whatsoever of what Anne Applebaum says, that

if the Afghans were willing to accept an appointed American puppet, we might, I'm guessing, consider that, too, at this point. But there isn't, and they won't.
Does she really believe that? She went to Yale and won the Pulitzer, so she's supposed to be smart, right?

Defenseless humble Afghan villager: Excuse me, mister American soldier. This one you chose for us, we don't like him.

American General: Yeah, what was I thinking. Sorry about that. OK, I'll kill him.

Defenseless humble Afghan villager: No, no, please! No more killing.

American General: What do you mean, no more killing? Are you Taliban, trying to mess with my head? Do I need to send a pilotless drone to buzz your village?

Defenseless humble Afghan villager: No, no! He's OK! He's great!

An airstrike here, an airstrike there. Oops, a wedding. Oops, farmers, not terrorists. You can't just keep killing people in a country you've invaded, for years on end, and keep telling them, "don't look at my actions. My intentions! Jeez, what's wrong with you? My own people back home believe I mean nothing but the best for you, so why don't you?"

Anne: "After all, we are not trying to create some kind of Jeffersonian idyll in the rugged heart of Central Asia..."

No, of course not. She's not saying they're a bunch of savages or anything, just that they need a...more rudimentary government, one that

"merely... is recognized as legitimate by the majority of Afghans—a government that can therefore prevent the country from turning back into a haven for terrorist training camps."

I'm guessing however, that Anne, though she may be a wonderful person in many respects, doesn't really care if the Afghans see their government as legitimate or not, just that they don't cause that government terribly much grief and that said government is also well-behaved and kowtows to the US and NATO, possibly handing over the occasional troublemaker to the west for extraordinary rendition to Jordan or Croatia or God knows where.

Maybe I'm a horrible person for thinking that's what Anne is really saying. But if you stop and think about it, apart from rendition overseas, isn't that what American elites expect from Americans as well?

Meanwhile the establishment press marches in lock-step, parroting the safe-havens bit. For my part I fail to see what so-called terrorist training camps do. If the 9-11 attacks are the reason for all this subsequent bloodshed, how are terrorist training camps, whether in Afghanistan or anywhere else, relevant? Didn't all the fateful connecting flights the 9-11 attackers took originate here? Maybe we need to get some special ops to attack various US airports and shut them down, so they never board another terrorist? Ridiculous? Sure, but how is it more ridiculous than what we're doing in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are terrorists because

1.They used to run the country(after being elected)

2.We invaded and deposed them, and

3. They're fighting to reclaim their country?

Don't get me wrong. I don't think the Taliban will create "some kind of Jeffersonian idyll" either, and I am aware of their less than salutary track record with respect to women's rights. But apparently the voters in Afghanistan want peace negotiations, and facile protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, it doesn't look like the US does. I'm guessing, in fact, that when the US does finally leave, it will turn out that the longer we stayed, the more likely that the government and the society left in the detritus of our occupation will be a harsh and fundamentalist one, and the sooner we leave and allow the presently standing government the breathing space and political leeway to negotiate for peace, the more likely a stable and heterogeneous society, "Jeffersonian" or otherwise, will take root. And it will largely be in spite of, and not because we were there.

Chris Floyd quoted the NYT's Carlotta Gall. I also think this is apt:

Abdul Wahid Baghrani, an important tribal leader from Helmand Province who went over to the government in 2005 under its reconciliation program, negotiated the surrender of the Taliban in 2001 with Mr. Karzai. Now he lives in a house in western Kabul but is largely ignored by the government, despite the enormous influence he could exercise.

Three months ago his eldest son, Zia ul-Haq, 32, was killed, along with his wife and driver, when British helicopters swooped in on their car as they were traveling in Helmand. Two Western officials confirmed the shooting but said it was a mistake. The forces were trying to apprehend a high-level Taliban target, they said.

"My son was not an armed Talib, he was a religious Talib," he said. The word Talib means religious student. "From any legal standpoint it is not permitted to fire on a civilian car.

"This is not just about my son," he said. "Every day we are losing hundreds of people, and I care about them as much as I care for my son."

Despite the deaths, he has remained in Kabul and still advocates peace negotiations. He said it was wrong to consider the Taliban leadership, or the leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, as irreconcilable. "It is not the opinion of people who know him and work with him," he said. "Of course it is possible to make peace with the Taliban — they are Afghans," he said. "The reason they are fighting is because they are not getting the opportunity to make peace."

We pay a high price for our delusional, imperial self-image. Of course others pay for it too.

see also,

Ramzy Baroud, "Drones and Democracy in Afghanistan", Aug 24th,

BBC[video link]:"Afghans talk about their daily struggles"

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Obama’s Magnificent Opportunity

I always figured Obama was an opportunist but perhaps I was wrong. Coming after the W. Bush presidency a mannequin with a wind-up key could have beat McCain. The Republican ship was sinking shackled to perhaps one of the very worst presidents ever whose catastrophic war still stumbles on like a drunk seeking a lamp post to grab to keep himself from falling in the gutter. So Obama was able to seize the moment with very few low hurdles to overcome. An act which I viewed as very opportunistic in some ways. But Obama seems to have lost his knack.

Obama must be gnashing his teeth after hearing Admiral Mullen deliver the bad news about a bad war that is going badly and perhaps cursing his bad luck and or mistakes. But this is actually a magnificent opportunity for Obama. Obama’s defenders point out that Obama is only one man and alone cannot bring change and though my first reaction to that is why they bothered to vote if they thought their vote wouldn’t bring the change they were promised but my point is Obama wouldn’t be alone on this. Obama would enjoy plenty of public support for ending the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. He would also have support in Congress, not all, but some.

And think of the other advantages. Right now the U.S. military is beginning to holler “Uncle” as the Taliban continue to confound American military might. The Generals are asking for more troops even as the Taliban gain the upper hand. Obama is now facing the specter of defeat in Afghanistan – though the war there could drag on for years -- which isn’t too surprising and one way out is to make a deal with the Taliban and get the hell out of Dodge while the going is still good. In fact, such a move could save America’s bacon for is there any doubt that the imperial wars have rotted our government and our resources and is helping to drive an ailing economy into the dirt?

What am I saying? I was just reading in the NYT where Obama insists the Afghan war is a necessity in order to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. This, despite that the very course he is pursuing is sure to create more terrorists. Obama is also continuing with the grisly occupation of using extraordinary rendition in fact continuing with all of the horrid practices of all the presidents who came before him from using signing statements to backroom deals. Obama won’t even recognize that he has a magnificent opportunity to end two destructive wars rather the catastrophe awaiting in Afghanistan will proceed by pouring more money and more lives into a dead end.

I did enjoy my little flight of fancy though.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Of Sacrificial Offerings and Blind Loyalty

Before W. Bush invaded Iraq he was told by intelligence agencies that invading Iraq would likely create more terrorists. A nuclear bomb exploded by terrorists in the U.S. is a real possibility and that threat is not lessened by our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the threat of a terrorist attack in one form or another against U.S. civilians Obama has escalated the war in Afghanistan and despite claims of leaving Iraq there are still 130,000 troops stationed there. If a terrorist group manages to explode a nuclear bomb in a city as a result of securing the oil fields hundreds of thousands will perish but this is part of the calculated risk that is being run in the name of global hegemony for the control of oil. In other words, you don’t count. If you die in a nuclear or biological attack it is within acceptable parameters as seen by our warlords, a small price to pay in the quest for world domination.

When you think about it this calculated risk is identical to that which is used on the victims of our military adventures otherwise known as collateral damage. The only time the U.S. government worries about civilian casualties is when it might affect their plans. So in a sense we are all victims of government though of course those residing in foreign lands bear the brunt yet in both cases the real enemy is the government for it is the government’s rushing into war with total abandonment that is fermenting future terrorism with very little thought as to the consequences. And those that implement our wars are not the people who pay the price for the rapacious invasions and occupations, indeed far from it, for they will profit from war along with the driving powers that are behind them pulling strings with the liberal application of campaign contributions and lobbies including the Israeli lobby. This is why we are not represented by our government or those who we “elect” to office.

Looking at Iraq today we see further undeniable proof that civilians are of little consequence to government. Despite the rosy promises of good things to come for the people of Iraq their infrastructure remains in ruins, over one million dead, and millions more scattered to the four corners of the globe and saddled with perhaps the most corrupt government in existence. The promise of stability brought by democracy remains elusive as violence continues unabated. And as more innocent victims leave this plane of existence the most “officials” can say is that it is unfortunate.


WASHINGTON — US plans to withdraw forces from Iraq over the next two years remain in place despite a wave of "tragic" bombings in Baghdad, a Pentagon spokesman told AFP on Wednesday.

"The bombings are unfortunate and tragic," said spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Ryder. "We certainly express our condolences to those who lost family and friends.

"But in terms of affecting our drawdown plans, there's no effect," Ryder said.

This is a sham on two distinct levels. First, the Pentagon can mutter meaningless platitudes all they want for words are cheap though the victims are just as dead and secondly, the so-called drawdown is never going to happen. They cannot stop lying; they are congenital liars who upon waking in the morning ponder what whoppers they can come up with for the coming day. Though people refer to W. Bush as stupid he understood something that we all should and that is if you want to occupy a nation long term all you need do is get the troops there and once that occurs there inevitably pop up all manner of reasons for not leaving or as it stands today. However all that may be the death of so many have, in our leaders own words, “no effect”. In this one instance they are not lying for I doubt they feel anything, monsters that they are.

During the W. Bush years the liberal blogosphere was vehemently opposed to the Iraq War yet today under Democratic leadership some of those same liberals have no problem with a war in Afghanistan. Apparently all that matters is who is in charge of the war not the war itself or as Obama once said, and I am paraphrasing, “I’m not against all wars just stupid wars.” Later the “stupid” war in Iraq was heralded by Obama as a success due to the famous surge so if enough time passes stupid becomes a success. Indeed, it was so much of a success that Obama used another surge in Afghanistan only this surge is the surge that keeps on surging.

Justin Raimondo observes…


York, a conservative who writes regularly for National Review, is mystified: he thinks these "progressives" are dedicated to anti-interventionism in principle. If only it were so. The answer to his bafflement is that it’s their war now, and they’ll fight it, defend it, and support it because their man is in the White House. It’s as simple as that.

York probably realizes this, but since it doesn’t fit in with the typical neoconservative view of the left he can’t come right out and say what is glaringly apparent to all: that the ostensible "left" is no different than the neoconservative "right" when it comes to foreign policy. Politics really does stop at the water’s edge, where both wings of the War Party unite to fight the foreign "enemy."

"Many observers," avers York, "have remarked that Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and also to escalate the campaign of targeted assassinations using drone aircraft, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will cause him trouble on the political left. … But if the Netroots Nation results are any indication, Obama may have more room than previously thought on the war. Not too long ago, with a different president in the White House, the left was obsessed with America’s wars. Now, they’re not even watching."

Of course they’re not even watching for after all, the “good war” in Afghanistan is in competent hands with the Democratic leadership. And for all too many liberals this is all that matters. Though the high and mighty of the liberal blogosphere feel they are more intelligent and better informed than the average person it would seem that the average have a better handle on reality than the bloggers as was shown in a recent poll where a majority of those polled are against escalating the Afghan War. Sadly with the powers of corporate America and the influence of the Israeli lobby arrayed against people with more sense than they are given credit for there is little chance that popular opinion can prevail. In the meantime the liberal bloggers have managed to make the common person even more irrelevant with their idiotic support of the Democratic Party being the being-all of everything. There are things that are more important than blind loyalty which in the end is a sad excuse for lazy thinking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Shape of Propaganda

Propaganda takes many predictable shapes and forms. We can find an excellent example with a piece in the New York Times regarding women in combat. Propaganda always seems to have a certain flavor and one of the first give-aways is when a news article begins like a cheap dime novel. Consider the opening of this NYT article.


As the convoy rumbled up the road in Iraq, Specialist Veronica Alfaro was struck by the beauty of fireflies dancing in the night. Then she heard the unmistakable pinging of tracer rounds and, in a Baghdad moment, realized the insects were illuminated bullets.

She jumped from behind the wheel of her gun truck, grabbed her medical bag and sprinted 50 yards to a stalled civilian truck. On the way, bullets kicked up dust near her feet. She pulled the badly wounded driver to the ground and got to work.

Pretty racy stuff I’d say, bullets kicking up dust etc. A classic example of how any propaganda piece might begin. This opening is designed to get your blood up so that you will forget it’s all about a brutal and unjust war that has been ongoing for many years with over one million victims and many more refugees. This isn’t about war, why it’s about a woman’s right to kill some gooks just like the guys do!

Ironically the sad sacks that are the center of attention in the article are being used as pawns in the bigger game of U.S. politics by that enabler and apologist of and for imperialism the NYT and the politicians who sent the troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. Basically the first two paragraphs quoted above do not qualify as reporting rather it is how you frame a story when you want to turn the world on its head. If you bother to go to the link provided you will be rewarded with a hilariously and obviously posed picture or photo-op, as they say, and it’s almost worth looking at for the comedy factor. As a propaganda piece it is extremely short on subtlety.

Not satisfied with one attempt at recruiting the young and the dumb into the military the New York Times does a follow-up piece just to make sure. It also reads like a cheap dime novel.


FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq — There is no mistaking that this dusty, gravel-strewn camp northeast of Baghdad is anything other than a combat outpost in a still-hostile land. And there is no mistaking that women in uniform have had a transformative effect on it.

Inevitably propaganda must appeal to your emotion rather than your brain and here we have the modern day woman warrior -- brave, noble, sacrificing all for the common good, facing into a bitter wind blowing from the east etc., etc., etc. and all within a dusty, gravel strewn camp in a still-hostile land. The real trick regarding propaganda is to make the reader of said propaganda feel noble and good in the face of adversity. In this case you are supposed to go totally noble while reading about our noble warriors and in your grand penultimate moment of nobleness join the military so you can be noble somewhere across the sundering seas.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Georgia Goes to Afghanistan

I’m not sure what is supposed to be taking place in the picture above. Possibly the Georgian soldiers always bring a spare or perhaps those are American advisors they are carrying who are teaching the Georgian soldiers how to walk in preparation for sending 750 of them to Afghanistan to help murder more Afghans along side of the U.S. military and NATO. The price for NATO membership, evidently, is to have the ability to kill whoever NATO or the U.S. tells you to kill without complaining.


In contrast to some NATO allies that impose restrictions on where their forces can go and what they can do in Afghanistan, the Georgian military will send its troops with none of these so-called caveats, a decision viewed by American officials as intended to indicate Georgia’s worthiness for potential alliance membership.

Are you devoid of morals and willing to kill innocent civilians without remorse? Then you are worthy of becoming a member of NATO as well.

Speaking of NATO I’m reminded of the Cold War and how with its ending NATO really should have ceased to exist as its purpose had been removed but naturally this didn’t occur. The whole reason for the U.S. having the world’s most expensive military ought to have been brought into question as well. We no longer need to outspend all other nations on the military and among many other things, part of the reason for the terror wars of today is to justify the existence of such an extensive military as we now possess. The U.S. military, along with NATO needed a new enemy to justify its very existence and found it in the form of so-called terrorists. One rather blatant problem with this has been you cannot wage war with terrorists because terrorists are not bound to any one nation or region and are not nation states themselves. Terrorism calls for police work not tanks as has long been argued by many people. Also what would go far in mitigating a terrorist threat would be for the West to stop raping the East. Duh.

How pathetic all of this is. The military-industrial-complex is like a black hole in two aspects. First of all, we throw enormous sums of cash at it which disappears from existence like throwing it into a black hole. Secondly, the more money it eats the bigger and more powerful it becomes and sucks in even more money like a black hole growing more powerful from the matter it consumes. They say that given enough time black holes eventually evaporate but our own personal black hole is very far from that stage it would seem. Frankly I have no idea how long we can travel the outer marches of the imperial road. Maybe another ten years, perhaps fifty. Whatever it may be at the rate of spending now under way it certainly isn’t sustainable. And this is why it is so pathetic not only because it is abysmally and dismally useless and unnecessary but even more because it seems the most we can hope for is for that the government will run out of money for our imperial wars. That really is pathetic and I’m not sure what it says about us as a people.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Af-Pak, pt 1

Peter Bergen, "Winning the Good War: Why Afghanistan is not Obama’s Vietnam"

Rahul Mahajan, Empire Notes, "Weekly Commentary-- the Good War" July 20th,

On several recent occasions Rob has already discussed the situation in Afghanistan;

"Escalating in Afghanistan",Aug 1st

"Under a Darkling Sky: Waging War in Order to Wage More War", Aug 9th

As I've said elsewhere, the mainstream left's failure to take Obama to task for escalating the Af-Pak war is to me the most disgusting aspect(of many) to the left's timidity and fear of rocking the corporate democratic boat the in which party leadership is blissfully sailing, under the supposition that the rest of us at least get a berth in steerage. I doubt ordinary people get even that, except in some isolated instances, but that's a discussion for another day.

As you probably know more and more people are calling it the Af-Pak war, partly because many of the fighters battling US forces in Afghanistan are believed to have bases along the Af-Pak(Pakistan) border, often on both sides, and to be receiving aid from persons in Pakistan-- but also because the US forces have increasingly started to make incursions past that border, and of course when they've killed people in airstrikes, noncombatants usually end up among the dead-- some believe they are the majority, and US airstrikes are no more than collective punishment.

It's also called the Af-Pak war because many experts feel that it is serving to destabilize Pakistan, the world's only predominantly Muslim country with nuclear weapons, and already a place with a tenuous political fabric. I'm really curious about any recent polling regarding America's involvement in Af-Pak mayhem, since the mainstream press seems mostly silent about this, as if people can only have opinions about one big issue at a time, or as if Af-Pak warring isn't in fact a big issue. (To give some credit where it's due, Lara Logan on CBS News had a report on the conflict last night when they noted that US casualties were up substantially, both compared to earlier this spring and summer '08. It would be nice if they also talked about the civilian toll, which would at the very least make people over here question why we're even over there and if they even want us over there, but something is better than nothing.)

I'll admit I haven't followed the Af-Pak conflict particularly closely, certainly not as closely as Rob and some other bloggers have, but I was surprised when I saw this article at Rahul Mahajan's Empire Notes recently:

In discussing Peter Bergen's essay "Winning the Good War" in the Washington Monthly, Mahajan writes,

Most of his facts are accurate and some of the arguments he tries to refute are really silly -- if only I had a dime for every idiot column claiming that Afghanistan has been the graveyard of empires for 2500 years and that it will wreck the United States too.It's also true that poll results show a significant majority of Afghans in support of the presence of U.S. and NATO forces. And that Afghanistan is nothing like Vietnam. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to see that Bergen is caught up in the same blindness as say Thomas Friedman in 2005 regarding Iraq -- and untold liberal intellectuals in every counterinsurgency since the beginning of recorded history.

Here's a different reading of some of the same facts. The fact that in a recent ABC poll, 63% of Afghan respondents supported the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan while only 8% supported that of the neo-Taliban is a welcome indication that the 8-year occupation has not yet done irreparable damage -- and indicates an opportunity to move the policy in a very different direction than that of counterinsurgency. That lack of irreparable damage does not mean that the United States has done much good -- indeed, 63% thought the US had done a "fair" or "poor" job and a slight majority has an unfavorable opinion of the US.

Furthermore, 18% favored escalation with 44% opposing, and an overwhelming 77% said the use of air strikes was "unacceptable." Hamid Karzai has also repeatedly gone on record opposing U.S. escalation and favoring attempts at a negotiated settlement.

I don't understand Mahajan's assertion that if only he had a dime for "every idiot column" claiming that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires and will the wreck the US too. Maybe he looks at the recent uptick in the stock market and has concluded that our long-term economic prospects are good, case closed. The "graveyard of empires" truism may be just that, a truism, but that doesn't mean it isn't applicable to the US, as one straw of many on the camel's back, even if it isn't necessarily the definitive straw-- at least not yet.

As far as his assertion that we haven't yet done "irreparable damage", that seems like just one person's opinion, even if it's that of a highly educated fellow(Mahajan is an NYU prof.). Speaking of truisms, the enemy of my enemy might be my friend in an Erroll Flynn movie, but just because the Afghans don't necessarily care for the Taliban doesn't mean they also want the US there. Even if they do, clearly they just want the US to keep the peace, without the airstrikes. But seven years' worth of airstrikes is a lot of civilian killings, and it seems awfully unlikely that ordinary Afghans brush off periodic news of deaths of relatives and neighbors as just some bothersome annoyance. I also would want to know more about the methodology of the ABC poll, and whether the respondents may have felt that they needed to fear reprisals from US forces. I'm not saying they had reason to, but I imagine if you lived for seven years in a war zone you'd be skeptical of somebody purporting to be a pollster and prefer to err on the side of excess caution.

Finally, regarding the Vietnam analogy:

(1) Peter Bergen notes that from 2002 to 2009 US public disapproval of the Afghanistan war has gone from 6 percent to 42 percent(earlier this spring), which suggests that given enough time, Afghanistan could well become Obama's Vietnam.

(2) While Mahajan acknowledges that any US military strategy going forward in Afghanistan is likely to involve substantial reliance on continued airstrikes, he closes-- apparently without irony-- with a variation on the classic excuse people made for the Vietnam debacle- instead of "the US could win, but we lack the will to see it through", it's we could secure a lasting peace, but lack the will to seek a political solution.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Transparent Man

Though Obama has done exactly what he said he would do regarding how he would conduct the imperial agenda from presidential signing statements to transparency in government Obama has reversed his position time and again. First consider the following from Obama’s website.


My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

The above sounds great yet consider Obama’s reversal on the issue of releasing photos of torture -- a result of a suit brought by the ACLU -- by the U.S. on the grounds that the photos would endanger U.S. troops the more likely reason being that the photos are proof of torture being more widespread than previously acknowledged.


President Obama’s administration – specifically the office of the Solicitor General, Elena Kagan – this afternoon formally requested that the U.S. Supreme Court block the release of photos showing detainee abuse. The brief calls the behavior depicted in the photographs “reprehensible,” yet argues the court of appeals ruling ordering the release of the photographs made an improper judgment regarding the exemption allowed to the Freedom of Information Act, when the release of certain information would put certain individuals in danger.

The reference to certain individuals of course is that Obama maintains that release of the photos would endanger the troops. Well, one can always find a good reason for doing the wrong thing and I guess strengthening democracy can always be put off till another day. Can’t you sense that commitment to transparency in government at an unprecedented level? I can’t either, oh well.

Then there are those signing statements – basically a presidential “fuck you” to Congress -- that Obama denounced during his campaign.


In the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama called Mr. Bush’s use of signing statements an “abuse,” and said he would issue them with greater restraint. The Obama administration says the signing statements the president has signed so far, challenging portions of five bills, have been based on mainstream interpretations of the Constitution and echo reservations routinely expressed by presidents of both parties.

Still, since taking office, Mr. Obama has relaxed his criteria for what kinds of signing statements are appropriate. And last month several leading Democrats — including Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and David R. Obey of Wisconsin — sent a letter to Mr. Obama complaining about one of his signing statements.

“During the previous administration, all of us were critical of the president’s assertion that he could pick and choose which aspects of Congressional statutes he was required to enforce,” they wrote. “We were therefore chagrined to see you appear to express a similar attitude.”

So where is this transparency in the use of signing statements the purpose of which is to eliminate legislation done in the open thus allowing a president to grab more power with the flourish of a pen?

From W. Bush to Obama it has been one smooth and seamless continuity and though I am impressed with Obama’s heart-felt concern for the well being of the troopers if he was really that concerned he could always withdraw them from Iraq and Afghanistan removing them from “harm's way”.

The only thing transparent about Obama is that it had been obvious from the first exactly what Obama is and represents. All you had to do was read a few of his speeches to have seen what Obama is --the status quo. The only thing that might be surprising is he has been unwilling to take a stand on any controversial issue what-so-ever. You would think that with all the noise accompanying his rise to power he would at least have one issue he believed in. Apparently Obama doesn’t really believe in anything. Obama is the Transparent Man.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Under a Darkling Sky: Waging War in Order to Wage More War

All along Obama was hawkish on Afghanistan. Obama has depicted the Afghan war as the epicenter of the war on terror. True to his word Obama has escalated that war and with no doubt what-so-ever that there is much more to come. As is normal reality is somewhat different than what Obama and crew would have us believe. The true purpose of the Afghan war is to perpetuate that which has made so few so wealthy, namely the defense industry, a name that is laughable for it hardly describes the true purpose of America’s main export, death. Of equal or more importance is the planned gas line to wend its way through Afghanistan. Oil is of extreme importance to not only domestic uses but much more importantly is its military strategic value. Invading troops need supplies to invade and to keep things moving you need oil and gas, or no invasion. That this fact lies at the root of our bid to dominate the oil bearing regions of the world cannot be denied. Patriotism, altruism, ideology, humanitarian, are all very nice, a convenient way to veil the ugliness beneath and mislead others and one’s self.


The legendary German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel once wrote: "The battle is fought and decided by the quartermasters before the shooting begins.”

Students of military history tend to pay lip service to the importance of logistics, preferring to read about tanks and artillery, mass and maneuver, attack and counterattack. The reasons for that bias are easy to understand. There is no obvious drama in examining supply lines, and it is easier and simpler to believe wars are always won on battlefields.

For instance, millions of pages have been written about the tactics and strategies of World War II, but relatively little about how almost every major decision of that conflict was conditioned by the need for one commodity without which no modern army can operate - oil.

The leaders of every nation involved in World War II were aware of how crucial oil supplies were to their war plans. The importance of oil had become apparent during the First World War. As armies became more mechanized, the need for secure sources of fuel and lubricants became the sine qua non for military operations. French diplomat Henri Berenger was right when as early as 1921 he explained that, in the next war: "He who owns the oil will own the world, for he will rule the sea by means of the heavy oils, the air by means of the ultra-refined fuels, and the land means of gasoline and the illuminating oils."

So we wage war in order to be able to wage more war in the future. Sounds pretty loopy to me, how about you? But this is what Obama represents. Obama himself is of little importance and could be easily replaced with any of thousands of other androids all poured out of the same mold Obama was ejected from. As the new imperial manager Obama is a smooth talker but will it be enough to mollify his supporters in the years to come? This remains to be seen for there is little doubt that the new and improved war in Afghanistan is shaping up in such a way as to make Iraq seem like the good old days.

Link via

"We will need a large combat presence for many years to come, and we will probably need a large financial commitment longer than that," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the "strategic assessment" team advising McChrystal. The expansion of the Afghan security force that the general will recommend to secure the country "will inevitably cost much more than any imaginable Afghan government is going to be able to afford on its own," Biddle added.

"Afghan forces will need $4 billion a year for another decade, with a like sum for development," said Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine who has chronicled the Iraq and Afghan wars. Bing said the danger is that Congress is "so generous in support of our own forces today, it may not support the aid needed for progress in Afghanistan tomorrow."

“A large combat presence for many years to come,” and on top of that billions in aid for the next ten to twenty years. Indeed, this is the right war for it would seem that the defense industry has a secure future as far as you can see. Continuity indeed.

Among other purposes, contractors have been sought this summer to build a $25 million provincial Afghan National Police headquarters; maintain anti-personnel mine systems; design and build multimillion-dollar sections of roads; deliver by sea and air billions of dollars worth of military bulk cargo; and supervise a drug-eradication program.

One solicitation, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, is aimed at finding a contractor to bring together Afghan economic, social, legal and political groups to help build the country's infrastructure. The contractor would work with Afghan government officials as well as representatives from private and nongovernmental organizations to establish a way to allocate resources for new projects.

"We are looking at two decades of supplying a few billion a year to Afghanistan," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, a senior fellow and military expert at the Brookings Institution, adding: "It's a reasonable guess that for 20 years, we essentially will have to fund half the Afghan budget." He described the price as reasonable, given that it may cost the United States $100 billion this year to continue fighting.

"We are creating a [long-term military aid] situation similar to the ones we have with Israel, Egypt and Jordan," he said.

Who says we don’t create our own reality, we are certainly creating this one. O’Hanlon may believe that this is a reasonable price yet O’Hanlon doesn’t mention those who pay the ultimate price for imperialism namely those hundreds of thousands of innocent lives snuffed out in order to satiate the criminally greedy. True it won’t hurt O’Hanlon any which is why it is reasonable to him.

Iran is now almost completely surrounded by neighbors who have U.S. troops or who are allied with the U.S. in one form or another. To the west is Iraq; on the eastern border of Iran is Afghanistan and Pakistan so the U.S. has Iran fairly well ringed in. No doubt this is one reason the troops will never really leave Iraq, for if the aim is, as I believe it to be, the domination of the Middle East oil bearing nations then we certainly will see U.S. troops remain for many years to come.

Iran may be the grand prize or not yet considering the cost and difficulties of the Afghan war itself it is hard to see how we can maintain a ten year occupation on top of all the others and then still be able to invade Iran. But never underestimate our leader’s ability to overestimate their own ability. In the end I suspect Afghanistan will stop the U.S. in its tracks. We will dig deeper and deeper until the money runs out while the U.S. infrastructure crumbles under the weight of its own corruption. And that will likely be the end to American empire. It really is too bad that we couldn’t put an end to it in a more logical and less destructive form.

Friday, August 07, 2009

War Crimes=bad

Hillary Clinton demands accountability for war crimes The American secretary of state warns Kenyans of the dangers of a "culture of impunity"

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

an invisible coup, pt 2

Since my post from the other day I notice that Xymphora has also posted about the presumptive coup, citing the same PressTV item, and "Xenophile" left a telling comment:

Xenophile 08/04/2009 08:47 AM
That sounds like PressTV's revenge for Western coverage/promotion of the astroturf revolution in Teheran.

Lemme see if I get it: a Saudi dissident quoted from the Arabic-language Iranian channel by the Iranian official press is the source. À consommer avec moderation

I also came across this: (September 2008)

Iranian media reported a failed coup attempt in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 3, citing an Arab publication. The details of the reports suggest, however, that they are unfounded. Tehran’s move to pick up the story is likely Iranian psyops against Saudi Arabia, designed to undermine global confidence in the stability of the world’s largest oil producer.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

an invisible failed coup?

NOTE: 6 Aug 09: please see additional comments at "an invisible coup, pt 2"

I gather that some Arabic language radio channels have been discussing a possible failed coup this past weekend in Saudi Arabia, possibly led by Prince Bandar.

Have you heard of E.I.R. Gmbh, aka I know nothing about E.I.R. GmbH, so I'm not really in a good position to assess their veracity. I found this(dated July 16th) at their site in looking for info about the possible failed Saudi coup:

In the U.S., newly declassified documents from the files of the official investigatory Commission on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, give further evidence of the direct role of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services. One key document, a “Memorandum for the Record” dated April 23, 2004, confirms that a known Saudi intelligence officer, Omar al-Bayoumi, was working closely with two of the hijackers based on the West Coast, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar.

This document summarizes an interview that Commission staffers Quinn John Tamm Jr. and Dietrich Snell had with an unnamed source, who was an FBI informant in the San Diego area, and who rented a room in his home to two hijackers during much of 2000. In the interview, the FBI informant confirmed the relationship between al-Bayoumi and the two hijackers.

However, the document omits one highly interesting piece of information, that is included in other 9/11 Commission documents, as well as in a 28-page synopsis suppressed by the Bush White House, on the role of al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan (another identified Saudi intelligence officer) in funding the two West Coast hijackers. That is, that Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, then Saudi Ambassador to the United States, and his wife, Princess Haifa, paid between $50,000 and $72,000 to al-Bayoumi who, in turn, passed on some of the money to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, to finance their rent, and their flight school attendance, previous to the 9/11 attacks. Note that Princess Haifa is the sister of Prince Turki bin-Faisal, who was the head of Saudi Arabian intelligence at the time of the 9/11 attacks – and resigned, suddenly, shortly thereafter.

The article goes on to mention that former FBI director Louis Freeh is now Prince Bandar's attorney, representing him in the BAE bribery case.(2003 Guardian link) Meanwhile this is the only link I found discussing a possible failed coup in Saudi this past weekend:

Press TV, "In kingdom, Saudi prince's coup 'fails'"

see also
BBC, April 2008, "UK wrong to halt Saudi arms probe"

BBC, July 2008, "Lords says SFO Saudi move lawful"

Times of London, May 2008, "BAE accused of being uncooperative with US investigators"

6 Aug 09: please see additional comments at "an invisible coup, pt 2"

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Monday, August 03, 2009

An Early Harvest for the Death Industry

It isn’t enough to send the troops to frolic and gambol amongst the poppies in the opium fields of Afghanistan. Oh no, you see the Democratic Party isn’t satisfied with a war in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, covertly in Iran, and of course Afghanistan because the Democrats do it better, they do it right. People have been predicting an invasion of Iran for years. Sometimes it was the U.S. other times it was Israel that was on the verge of igniting a war with Iran. But just because it never happened under Bush does not mean that it won’t happen under Obama. We have already been funding criminal elements in Iran to use terrorist tactics, basically we pay them and turn them loose to do what they will so outright war is not all that farfetched, just the next illogical step.

We have heard Hillary Clinton’s tirades against Iran and perhaps there is more to it than Hillary just trying to prove that she is one hundred percent behind Israel despite the lack-luster and timid protests against the Israeli so-called settlements. Time and again we have heard demands from Obama who once said that nothing is off the table when it came to Iran. And like Iraq Iran is a golden opportunity for the murder industry also called the defense industry. Northrup Grumman, Lockheed, and Boeing are all reportedly working on the MOP (massive ordinance penetrator) bomb, a super bunker buster supposedly able to penetrate 200 feet into the earth before detonating and is the most powerful conventional explosive to date. The DOD has asked for 68 million just to speed up the production of MOP,according to Raw Story. If it takes 68 million to just speed up production you can imagine what the total price tag must be. However that may be the real question is why are they speeding up production of the MOP bunker buster? Seen concurrently with Hillary’s rampaging mouth the MOP program takes on ominous overtones. But who knows.

It could just be time for a little payback to Obama contributors in the defense industry, it wouldn’t surprise me. The Pentagon needs companies like Northrup to build their toys for them and it wouldn’t do if the poor dears weren’t making enough of a profit already so throw a few bones, albeit expensive bones, their way to keep them happy and solvent. And of course this gives the defense industry more money to throw at Congress in the form of kickbacks and bribes otherwise known as campaign contributions. It’s a big happy party for everyone! Where’s my cut? Frankly I suspect these super bombs will never be used which of course is a good thing but it does highlight the insanity of such pastimes.

There’s no money for expanding Medicare to everyone which would also create millions of new jobs that actually help people rather than killing them but there’s plenty of moolah for the death industry. The Pentagon asks “Can you build our bomb?” and the defense industry replies “Yes we can.” All you need to do is hire a few loopy physicists to design the concept, a few engineers to make it work, and it’s off to New Mexico for a test so little boys can play with their toys. When I was twelve years old we used to do the same thing. We put firecrackers in model cars to see what would happen when we blew them up. Yes we can! I recall one Halloween night my friend and I put a cherry bomb in a neighbor’s mail box and ran like hell. I heard the explosion and looking over my shoulder I could see the mail box arcing through the air into the yard across the street. It truly was great fun but we eventually outgrew it. Apparently some never do, sort of like Peter Pan.

For me this is the truly scary part regarding our nation, its run by a bunch of juvenile delinquents with the mentality of a twelve-year-old child.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Escalating in Afghanistan

Buried deep in the New York Times is an article reporting on the increasing level of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. According to the NYT 1013 civilians have died in the first six months of 2009. Alas how fleeting was the concern for the lives of Afghans so recently on exhibit as a good number of deaths are a direct result of U.S. air strikes. Though the Times divides up the causes of death into different categories attributing more civilian deaths to “Insurgents” all the deaths are directly or indirectly a result of our presence. In other words it’s really our fault these people are dead whether or not they were actually killed by Americans. The article also notes an increase in American deaths. There seems to be a lot of death, no shortage of it anywhere and the stench of it hangs heavy like a pall of smoke around Obama and his administration.

Reading the news I notice that the Afghan-Pakistan War is often seen through the lens of whether or not the war is going well or going badly. It is as if to say that if the war is going well then everything is actually okay. Even people who oppose the wars will frame their discussions within the boundaries of going well or going badly. It seems to me that as soon as you base an argument against the wars on the well or badly concept that you have already lost the argument. A small point I suppose yet what does it matter if the war is going well or badly if your point is that the war is wrong in the first place.

An example of this happened in mid-July when the U.S. became “very concerned” over the numerous civilian deaths resulting from U.S. airstrikes. It must have occurred to someone that people don’t enjoy being murdered no matter how glorious the goals or how illustrious and wise the president may be. It must have been quite the epiphany yet the main concern was not so much the deaths as it was over the effect the deaths were having on the war effort. Of course reading the more recent article telling of the increased levels of civilian deaths illustrates how quickly forgotten the civilians were. The idea that you can wage war without heavy civilian casualties is simply preposterous to begin with. Sometimes it is unbelievable the kind of garbage we are expected to swallow as long as it emanates from an authority figure. I expect the newfound and newly forgotten concern over civilian deaths was meant more as fodder for the liberal war hawks allowing them to feel noble more than anything else. It certainly had nothing to do with reality.

This is the age of reinvention where topics and things once thought to be understood have drifted off into an antiseptic fantasy world. Torture has been reinvented as harsh interrogation techniques or whatever, to make the gruesome more palatable. Naked aggression has been reinvented as “preemptive” that is to say any imagined danger can result in any nation being “liberated” another reinvention in its own right. Murder is called collateral damage. Call it what you will but never call it what it is, that’s the philosophy of the day. The neocons once said that we make our own reality and most scoffed at the idea yet I beg to differ as truer words were never spoken. Not only do we create our reality we also reinvent our own history through the things we read in the news and what we hear from our Dear leaders with their facile creativity for reinventing what already exists under different names. The mistake the neocons made was believing that they were somehow unique in this as we have always done this since time immemorial. Perhaps what some don’t realize or never considered is that a world view is a reality, literally. Our world view or reality is shaped by our own culture, it is a set of beliefs and assumptions often erroneous. And there are as many world views as there are different cultures. But there is one concrete item we can count on and that is that war is war no matter what you call it with its accompanying misery, needless death, and destruction.