I’m sick and tired of this thing called “patriotism” by William Blum

Dandelion Salad

by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
July 4, 2008

The Anti-Empire Report

Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life

Some thoughts on “patriotism” written on July 4

Most important thought: I’m sick and tired of this thing called “patriotism”.

Continue reading

Bush-Led ‘Disaster Capitalism’ Exploits Worldwide Misery to Make a Buck

Dandelion Salad

By Naomi Klein
ICH 07/04/08
The Nation
July 1, 2008

Once oil passed $140 a barrel, even the most rabidly right-wing media hosts had to prove their populist cred by devoting a portion of every show to bashing Big Oil. Some have gone so far as to invite me on for a friendly chat about an insidious new phenomenon: “disaster capitalism.” It usually goes well — until it doesn’t.

For instance, “independent conservative” radio host Jerry Doyle and I were having a perfectly amiable conversation about sleazy insurance companies and inept politicians when this happened: “I think I have a quick way to bring the prices down,” Doyle announced. “We’ve invested $650 billion to liberate a nation of 25 million people. Shouldn’t we just demand that they give us oil? There should be tankers after tankers backed up like a traffic jam getting into the Lincoln Tunnel, the Stinkin’ Lincoln, at rush hour with thank-you notes from the Iraqi government … . Why don’t we just take the oil? We’ve invested it liberating a country. I can have the problem solved of gas prices coming down in ten days, not ten years.”

There were a couple of problems with Doyle’s plan, of course. The first was that he was describing the biggest stickup in world history. The second, that he was too late: “We” are already heisting Iraq’s oil, or at least are on the cusp of doing so.

It’s been ten months since the publication of my book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, in which I argue that today’s preferred method of reshaping the world in the interest of multinational corporations is to systematically exploit the state of fear and disorientation that accompanies moments of great shock and crisis. With the globe being rocked by multiple shocks, this seems like a good time to see how and where the strategy is being applied.

And the disaster capitalists have been busy — from private firefighters already on the scene in Northern California’s wildfires, to land grabs in cyclone-hit Burma, to the housing bill making its way through Congress. The bill contains little in the way of affordable housing, shifts the burden of mortgage default to taxpayers and makes sure that the banks that made bad loans get some payouts. No wonder it is known in the hallways of Congress as “The Credit Suisse Plan,” after one of the banks that generously proposed it.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

It’s the End of the World as We know it and I feel FINE #35 (Klein)

Naomi Klein “The Shock Doctrine” & “No Logo” interview (must-see video)

Socialism

Alternatives to Free Trade: Fair Trade and Beyond by Shamus Cooke

Socialism is the future – build it now by Michael Lebowitz

We Must Democratize Our Economic Institutions by Manila Ryce

How To Achieve Socialism

Could we organise things without money? (2005)

Corporate UNPATRIOTIC BEHAVIOR by Ralph Nader (’02)

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, July 4, 2008
originally posted July 2, 2004

During this 4th of July weekend, why not assess the behavior of giant U.S. chartered multinational corporations by the yardsticks of patriotism to the supportive country of their birth? These standards for the corporate entities themselves are important for the moral, legal and political persuasion necessary to improve their patriotic performance?

Let a few examples do for many. Continue reading

Hidden casualties by Eric Ruder

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Ruder
http://socialistworker.org/
July 4, 2008 | Issue 675

Suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression haunt hundreds of thousands of soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan. But as Eric Ruder reports, the U.S. government has tried to minimize the crisis.

A YEAR and a half ago, Scott Eiswert, a specialist in the Tennessee Army National Guard, returned from Iraq, only to face an escalating battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When he learned that his unit would deploy again soon, he felt he could no longer stave off the pain. On May 16, his wife Tracy and his three daughters discovered his body after he shot himself in the family’s home.

Pfc. Jason Scheuerman left a note nailed to his barracks closet in Iraq. “Maybe finally I can get some peace,” wrote the 20-year-old man. Then he stepped inside the closet and shot himself. His parents only found out about the note after a yearlong fight to cut through military red tape and discover what happened to their son.

Scott and Jason are just two of the thousands of military personnel whose service in Iraq and Afghanistan plunged them into a place so dark that they took their own lives.

In fact, the number of suicides among veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan now likely exceeds the number of troops killed in combat.

Nearly one in five soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan–about 300,000–report symptoms of PTSD or major depression upon returning home, but only about half seek treatment, according to a Rand Corporation study released in April.

Based on known suicide rates for similar patients, “It’s quite possible that the suicides and psychiatric mortality of this war could trump the combat deaths,” according to National Institute of Mental Health director Thomas Insel, who is the government’s top psychiatric researcher.

But even more appalling than the human toll these wars are claiming even after troops leave the battlefield is the military’s shameless cover-up of the extent of the problem–and its effort to deny veterans the health care they deserve when they return.

The Pentagon officially reports that about 30,000 troops were seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. But USA Today found at least 20,000 cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) not reported by the Pentagon when the newspaper conducted its own study and filed numerous requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Rand Corporation study found that 320,000 personnel may have experienced a TBI in Iraq or Afghanistan, but only 43 percent said they had ever been evaluated by a physician for the injury.

As for PTSD, the Pentagon officially acknowledges that 38,000 veterans have been diagnosed with it since 2003–so if the Rand study of 300,000 soldiers with PTSD is accurate, that means some 260,000 have either not sought treatment, not been diagnosed or simply aren’t being counted by the military.

This isn’t surprising, given the culture of denial that pervades the military and veterans health care system. In April, for example, an e-mail surfaced from Ira Katz, deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), acknowledging that 1,000 veterans under VA care attempt suicide every month. On average, 18 veterans commit suicide in the U.S. every day, and four of those are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“Shh!” begins the e-mail from Katz. “Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?”

Another troubling e-mail from a VA official came to light in May. Norma Perez, a leading psychologist at a facility for veterans in Texas, wrote to staff members in March directing them to diagnose PTSD less frequently because PTSD patients can receive government disability payments for their condition.

“Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I’d like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out,” wrote Perez in the message to mental-health specialists and social workers. Instead, she continued, “consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder.”

A diagnosis of adjustment disorder is considered less severe and isn’t typically compensated like PTSD, for which veterans are eligible for disability payments of up to $2,527 a month, depending on the severity of their condition.

“It is outrageous that the VA is calling on its employees to deliberately misdiagnose returning veterans in an effort to cut costs,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which released the memo to the media. “Those who have risked their lives serving our country deserve far better.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

SCOTT EISWERT had stopped going to the VA for PTSD treatment before his suicide, and the disregard for vets under its care was one reason why, according to Stacy Hafley, an advocate for military families who is helping the Eiswert family get back on its feet.

“He didn’t feel like it was helping,” said Hafley in an interview. “He thought they were leaning toward saying that his issues were ‘family problems,’ and not PTSD. So he stopped going, which is fairly common and symptomatic of PTSD.

“I’ve heard it so many times, and my husband, who also suffers from PTSD, did the same thing. So many feel that the VA is either trying to overmedicate or understate the scope of the problem, and neither of those is particularly helpful. They get frustrated, leave and don’t come back.”

Hafley underscored the chief problem facing an understaffed VA: “The VA is trying to build a million-dollar home with a penny, and it can’t be done,” she said.

The VA has an annual mental health budget of $3.8 billion, which U.S. officials contend is a substantial amount. But the U.S. spends this much every 11 days to keep U.S. forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In late June, Bush signed a new supplemental war spending bill, approved by Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress. The bill allocates an additional $162 billion of spending that will last into the middle of 2009, well into the term of Bush’s successor.

While the bill increases spending on GI education benefits, it contains nothing for expanding the budget for military health care. “The recent war funding bill was passed to go clear through the spring of 2009, which was clearly a political ploy to not have to deal with war spending right before the election, given that both candidates are sitting senators,” explained Hafley.

“I feel like they are playing political games with the lives of our loved ones. We shouldn’t be tolerating that. This has been going on for years. These aren’t new problems. These are the same problems that Vietnam vets have been facing for decades.”

Hafley is right. Fighting wars by skimping on compensation for the soldiers who must fight them is a tried-and-true strategy of every commander in chief. Successive Democratic and Republican administrations stood in the way of compensation for Vietnam veterans struggling with PTSD and Agent Orange exposure.

The Clinton administration dragged its feet when tens of thousands of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War struggled to get compensation for the dizzying array of symptoms they were experiencing, such as frequent immune system disorders, birth defects, cancer, chronic fatigue, loss of muscle control, headaches, dizziness and loss of balance, memory problems, muscle and joint pain, indigestion, skin problems and shortness of breath.

Today, the military is employing a different arsenal to keep its overstretched military in the field at bargain-basement prices. “For the first time in history,” according to a cover story in the June 16 issue of Time, “a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool, but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines. Data contained in the Army’s fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12 percent of combat troops in Iraq and 17 percent of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

CHRIS LeJEUNE, who returned home in May 2004, began struggling with depression while on a 15-month deployment to Iraq. The uncertainty about the mission itself weighed heavily on his conscience and contributed to his condition.

“When you search someone’s house, you have it built up in your mind that these guys are terrorists, but when you go in, there’s little bitty tiny shoes and toys on the floor–things like that started affecting me a lot more than I thought they would,” LeJeune said.

When LeJeune sought counseling, he got a prescription for antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications, but not much else. “In the civilian world, when you have a problem, you go to the doctor, and you have therapy followed up by some medication,” said LeJeune. “In Iraq, you see the doctor only once or twice, but you continue to get drugs constantly.”

And that’s if you’re lucky enough to see a mental-health professional. According to Time, about a third of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan say they can’t see a mental-health provider when they need one.

Adding to the frustration facing the loved ones of veterans seeking help is the unresponsiveness of every level of government to the crisis.

Seeking to break the logjam, two veterans’ organization filed suit to ask a federal judge to order changes to how the VA delivers care to veterans. The suit sought redress for the lack of mental health care services, the long delays for appointments, and the four-and-a-half year backlog of cases in which veterans are appealing for a higher disability rating than was issued by VA doctors.

But the judge refused to grant the order, saying the plaintiffs were demanding nothing short of “a complete overhaul of the VA system.”

Hafley can think of only one other measure that would work better than a complete overhaul. “Quite frankly,” she said, “the best thing they could do to stop the overload at the VA is end the war, bring the troops home and stop creating more troops with PTSD who are at risk of suicide or having addiction problems. Adding more money into the VA does help the ones who are already home, but every day, new ones are being created.

“That influx is going to continue. Spending more money is just a temporary fix. They aren’t stopping the bleeding. And that’s the problem that brought us where we are now.”

Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

Behind the Colombia hostage rescue

Dandelion Salad

by Todd Chretien
http://socialistworker.org/
July 4, 2008

Todd Chretien explains how U.S. weapons and training for the Colombian military has changed the balance in the country’s civil war–and set a precedent for projecting American power in Latin America.

THE REPUBLICAN presidential nominee visits Colombia to meet with President Alvaro Uribe (virtually the only South American leader who has a kind word to say to him) on the very day that the Colombian military–bloated with billions of dollars in equipment provided by the U.S. government–pulls off a major public relations coup by rescuing former presidential candidate Íngrid Betancourt, three American mercenaries and a dozen more hostages from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

But it’s all a big coincidence–at least according to crack investigative journalist Judith Bumiller, traveling with McCain for the New York Times.

“The timing of the rescue, which occurred while Mr. McCain was in Colombia, was in many ways a fortuitous turn of events for a presidential candidate who is using a three-day trip to South America and Mexico to try to show that he is a more agile foreign policy hand than his Democratic competitor, Senator Barack Obama,” Bumiller wrote.

“Although the timing of the rescue was a coincidence and Mr. McCain’s trip to Colombia had nothing to do with it, the event nonetheless put him in the middle of classified talks about covert operations with the head of another government.”

“Fortuitous” indeed! In fact, the Bush administration helped plan the operation and provided unspecified material support. And Uribe even briefed McCain (and his traveling companion, Sen. Joseph Lieberman) on plans for the raid before it took place.

There is even speculation that Uribe was able to pull off the rescue–in which soldiers impersonated FARC guerrillas–precisely because the French government was in the process of securing Betancourt’s release and had been in negotiations with FARC commanders.

Whether or not this turns out to be the case, it stretches the bounds of credulity to believe that Bush did not tip off McCain to the impending operation, allowing him to don his Navy cap and strike a pose on a Columbian anti-narcotics military vessel, while basking in Uribe’s international media limelight.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE FARC’s decision to kidnap Betancourt in hopes of exchanging her for rebel prisoners was a tactical blunder of the first order. However, the FARC’s policy must be understood in the context of the overwhelming brutality of the American-armed Colombian government. According to Human Rights Watch, since 1986, the Colombian military and its associated paramilitary death squads have murdered more than 2,500 trade unionists.

Recently, the FARC has come under intense pressure to negotiate an end to the civil war and is listed as a “terrorist” organization by the U.S. government–a label most American media sources, not to mention mainstream Democrats like presidential candidate Barack Obama, repeat without comment.

However, the FARC’s reluctance to disarm is certainly understandable. In the mid-1980s, many of the group’s members agreed to lay down their weapons and take part in elections in a leftist coalition called the Patriot Union. In exchange for their participation in the “democratic process,” up to 5,000 of them were systematically exterminated by the military and its death squads, including 1990 presidential candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa.

Despite this bloody history, President Bill Clinton initiated “Plan Colombia” during his second term in office. Between 1996 and 2000, Clinton increased aid to the Colombian military by nearly 14 times, from $54 million to $765 million. George Bush has sent between $400 million and $650 million in military aid to Colombia every year of his presidency.

This avalanche of arms has made the Colombian military one of the mightiest in the region, far more powerful than the Venezuelan military, for instance. And it has also turned the tide in the civil war, driving FARC guerrillas deeper and deeper into the mountains and reducing their fighting force from more than 15,000 10 years ago to an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 today.

Whether or not Uribe pre-empted the French-brokered release of Betancourt, it is clear that the FARC is in trouble, and the Colombian government believes that, if it cannot military win the war in the next few years, it can certainly continue to press its advantage.

Furthermore, the Colombian military’s incursion into Ecuador earlier this spring “in pursuit” of FARC rebels sets a dangerous precedent.

As Latin America turns left, U.S. imperialism is searching for the means to regain the strategic advantage in “its backyard.” Boosting Colombia’s military capacity is not just about defeating the FARC or fighting the “war on drugs.” It is also about sending a bipartisan message to Colombia’s unruly neighbors that the U.S. aims to play an increasingly intrusive role in the region’s future.

Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

see

McCain defends free trade with Colombia

FARC leaders were paid millions to free hostages: Swiss radio

Mosaic News – 07/3/08: World News From The Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

For more: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Mosaic Will Not Air July 4, 7-11,” Link TV, USA
“US Policies Cause High Oil prices,” Press TV, Iran
“Israel Wants US to Strike Iran,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Japanese Investors Skeptical About Returning to Iraq,” Saudi TV, Saudi Arabia
“Israel looks into Demolishing Attacker’s Home,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Israel looks into Expelling Attacker’s Family into Gaza,” IBA TV, Israel
“British Government lists Hezbollah as Terrorist Organization,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iran’s Shura Council Moves Towards Diplomacy,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Mosaic News – 07/2/08: World News From The Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

For more: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“East Jerusalem Palestinian Goes on a Rampage,” IBA TV, Israel
“3 Israelis Killed in Bulldozer Attack,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Israel and Hamas Still Interested in Ceasefire,” Saudi TV, Saudi Arabia
“Hundreds of Palestinians Storm Rafah Crossing,” Press TV, Iran
“Israeli Initiative Would Force Arab Israelis to Serve in Army,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Syrian-Israeli Peace Negotiations Face Setbacks,” Dubai TV, UAE
“39 Killed in New Clashes in Somalia,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Shaaban Uprising Trial Resumes,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Monsanto has to Accept Full Responsibility for Genetic Contamination

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, July 3, 2008
Current Concerns

On 19 March 2008 Monsanto accepted their responsibility for the genetic contamination of Schmeiser’s canola fields in an out of court settlement between Percy Schmeiser and Monsanto.

In an earlier trial the Canadian Supreme Court had recognized the legality of the patent protection to Monsanto’s Transgene, but at the same time this court had transferred the question about the legality of a patent about life and forms of life to the Canadian Parliament for re-evaluation. In accordance with earlier legal norms the owner of a patent on a certain gene is also the owner of the respective harvest. This question is still pending and has to be re-assessed by the Canadian Parliament.

Since Schmeiser could prove that he had never used Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds nor the total-herbicide Roundup Ready going with the Monsanto GM seeds, and that he had indeed no advantage from the pollution and contamination of his harvest, he was acquitted of Monsanto’s compensation demands.

In 2005 Schmeiser again found Monsanto GM Rap plants on his fields. He informed Monsanto and demanded that the company remove the plants. Monsanto confirmed to Schmeiser that the plants were Roundup-Ready raps and therefore property of Monsanto. Referring to the existing judgement that the owner of a plant is also liable for plant contamination damages, Schmeiser had the plants removed professionally and forwarded the removal cost invoice to Monsanto.

In earlier attempts to achieve an out of court settlement, Monsanto had not consented to paying the removal cost amounting to $660, so Schmeiser subsequently had sued the company. Monsanto would have paid for the contamination damage, but only under the condition that Schmeiser signed a “gag agreement”, i.e. he would agree not to talk about  the damage case, which would have deprived him and/or his wife of the right for the remainder of their lives to ever speak about the case publicly or to ever again sue Monsanto for contaminating their harvest in future before any court. Schmeiser rejected. The demands raised by Monsanto were totally immoral. When the judge asked why Monsanto had not simply paid the very small sum of $660, Monsanto’s lawyer Richard W. Danyliuk responded that there was a lot more involved than just $660.

One hour before the court hearing was scheduled on March 19, 2008 Monsanto accepted all demands of Percy Schmeiser as well as their responsibility for the contamination of Schmeiser’s fields. Monsanto does not only pay for the damage but also accepts that Schmeiser reports and informs the public about the background and that he can express his opinion and position about this case in public. The acceptance of responsibility by Monsanto as the owner of the patented Transgene for the contamination of neighbouring fields opens the path for all farmers in the world to demand compensation by Monsanto.

Further information www.percy.schmeiser-on-tour.org, www.percyschmeiser.com
Interviews: Percy Schmeiser, Canada: +1 306 369 25 20

© Copyright, Current Concerns, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9494

Hunkering Down in Afghanistan with Field-Marshall Obama By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/03/08 “ICH”

Afghanistan was supposed to be the “good war”; a “just response” to the attacks of September 11. It was supposed to bring Bin Laden to justice “dead or alive” and quash terrorism in the places where it originated. 95 per cent of the American people supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Now less than half think the U.S. will prevail. The war was promoted as a way to replace a repressive fundamentalist regime with a democratic government based on western ideals. The Bush administration promised to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, transform its feudal system into a free market economy, and liberate its women from the oppression of Islamic extremism.

It was all hogwash. None of the promises have been kept and none of the goals have been achieved. The Bush P.R. campaign was a hoax. War isn’t an instrument for positive social change; it’s about killing people and blowing up things. Dressing-up military aggression and calling it “preemption” can work for a while, but eventually the truth comes out. Democracy and modernity don’t come from the barrel of a gun.

Far from being the “good war”, Afghanistan has turned out to be a brutal war of revenge. Three decades of fighting has left the country in ruins and the violence is only getting worse. As victory becomes more elusive, the US has stepped up its bombing campaign making 2008 the most deadly year on record. Civilian casualties have skyrocketed and millions of Afghans have become refugees. At the same time, the Taliban have regrouped and taken over strategically vital areas in the south which is disrupting US supply lines from Pakistan. Khost has fallen into the hands of the Afghan resistance just as it did before the Soviet Army was defeated in the 1980s. The Taliban are moving towards Kabul and a battle for the capital now seems inevitable.

For the second month in a row, the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan has exceeded Iraq. The fighting has intensified while security has steadily deteriorated. The Taliban’s numbers are growing while the total allied commitment is still under 60,000 troops for a country of 32 million. This makes it impossible to capture and hold territory. The military is limited to “hit and run” operations. The ground belongs to the Taliban.

Michael Scheuer, former CIA chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station, made this statement at a recent conference at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC:

“Afghanistan is lost for the United States and its allies. To use Kipling’s term, ‘We are watching NATO bleed to death on the Afghan plains.’ But what are we going to do. There are 20 million Pashtuns; are we going to invade? We don’t have enough troops to even form a constabulary that would control the country. The disaster occurred at the beginning. The fools that run our country thought that a few hundred CIA officers and a few hundred special forces officers could take a country the size of Texas and hold it, were quite literally fools. And now we are paying the price.”

Scheuer added, “We are closer to defeat in Afghanistan than Iraq at the moment.”

Scheuer’s pessimism is more widespread among military and political elites than many realize. The situation on the ground is hopeless; there is no light in the tunnel. Author Anatol Lieven put it like this in an article in the Financial Times, “The Dream of Afghan Democracy is Dead”:

“The first step in rethinking Afghan strategy is to think seriously about the lessons of a recent opinion survey of ordinary Taliban fighters commissioned by the Toronto Globe and Mail. Two results are striking: the widespread lack of any strong expression of allegiance to Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership; and the reasons given by most for joining the Taliban — namely, the presence of western troops in Afghanistan. The deaths of relatives or neighbors at the hands of those forces was also stated by many as a motive. This raises the question of whether Afghanistan is not becoming a sort of surreal hunting estate, in which the US and Nato breed the very “terrorists” they then track down. “

Lieven is right. The occupation and the careless killing of civilians has only strengthened the Taliban and swollen their ranks. The US has lost the struggle for hearts and minds and they don’t have the troops to establish security. The mission has failed; the Afghan people have grown tired of foreign occupation. The US is just digging a deeper hole by staying.

By every objective standard, conditions are worse now than they were before the invasion in 2001. The economy is in shambles, unemployment is soaring, reconstruction is minimal, security is non-existent and malnutrition is at levels that rival sub-Saharan Africa. Afghanistan not safer, more prosperous, or freer. The vast majority of Afghans are still living in grinding poverty exacerbated by the constant threat of violence. The Karzai government has no popular mandate nor any power beyond the capital. The regime is a sham maintained by a small army of foreign mercenaries and a collaborative media which promotes it as a sign of budding democracy. But there is no democracy or sovereignty. Afghanistan is occupied by foreign troops. Occupation and sovereignty are mutually exclusive.

According to The Senlis Council’s report, “Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the brink”:

“The security situation in Afghanistan has reached crisis proportions. The Taliban’s ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt; 54 per cent of Afghanistan’s landmass hosts a permanent Taliban presence, primarily in southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of territory in the south and east, and are starting to control parts of the local economy and key infrastructure such as roads and energy supply. The insurgency also exercises a significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change.”

Journalist Eric Walberg further clarifies the role played by the Taliban in his article “The Princess and the Taliban”:

“Western readers have become numbed into accepting the code words ‘enemy’ and ‘insurgents’, ignoring the underlying fact that the Taliban are still the legitimate government, that these so-called insurgents are in fact widely seen as freedom fighters battling the non-Muslim foreign occupiers — the real ‘enemy’ — who invaded the country illegally and have killed hundreds of thousands of resistance fighters and innocent civilians illegally. Rather than ‘killed’, the word ‘murdered’ might be more appropriate. For locals, the dead are ‘martyred’, as in Iraq and Palestine….. The country’s declining socioeconomic situation point to the Taliban as the only feasible force to control the situation.”

It is not even clear that women are better off now than they were under Taliban rule. According to Afghan Parliament member, Malalai Joya:

“Every month dozens of women commit self-immolation to end their desolation….The American war on terror is a mockery and so is the US support of the present government in Afghanistan which is dominated by Northern Alliance terrorists….Far more civilians have been killed by the US military in Afghanistan than were killed in the US in the tragedy of September 11. More Afghan civilians have been killed by the US than were ever killed by the Taliban…..The US should withdrawal as soon as possible. We need liberation not occupation.” (“The War on Terror is a Mockery”, Elsa Rassbach, Z Magazine Nov 2007)

The Taliban had effectively eradicated poppy cultivation before the invasion in 2001. Now, after six years of war, the opium trade is back with a vengeance and Afghanistan accounts for 93% of world’s heroin production. 2007 was a particularly good year yielding 20% more opium than a year before. Heroin is now Afghanistan’s number one export; the nation has become a US narco-colony.

Bush could care less about drug trafficking. What matters to him is stabilizing Afghanistan so that the myriad US bases that are built along pipeline corridors can provide a safe channel for oil and natural gas heading to markets in the Far East. That’s what really counts. The administration has staked America’s future on a risky strategy to establish a foothold in Central Asia to control the flow of energy from the Caspian to China and India.

But US policymakers are no longer confident of victory in Afghanistan. In fact, according to a Pentagon report:

“Taliban militants have regrouped after their initial fall from power and ‘coalesced into a resilient insurgency.’ The report paints a grim picture of the conflict, concluding that Afghanistan’s security conditions have deteriorated sharply while the fledgling national government in Kabul remains incapable of extending its reach throughout the country or taking effective counternarcotics measures.”

The situation is dire and it’s forcing Bush to decide whether to shift more troops from Iraq or face growing resistance in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the violence is spreading and combat deaths are on the rise. Pentagon chieftains now believe they can only defeat the Taliban by striking at bases in Pakistan, a reckless plan that could inflame passions in Pakistan and trigger a regional conflict. Gradually, the US is being lured into a bigger quagmire.

FIELD-MARSHALL OBAMA TO THE RESCUE

Presidential candidate Barak Obama, “The Peace Candidate”, supports a stronger commitment to the war in Afghanistan and has proposed “sending at least two additional combat brigades — or 7,000 to 10,000 troops — to Afghanistan, while deploying more Special Operations forces to the Afghan-Pakistan border. He has also proposed increasing non-military aid to Afghanistan by at least $1 billion per year.” (Wall Street Journal) Obama, backed by Brzezinski and other Clinton foreign policy advisers, has focussed his attention on the “war on terror”, that dismal public relations coup which conceals America’s desire to become a major player in the Great Game, the battle for supremacy on the Asian continent. Obama appears to be even more eager to repeat history than McCain.

In November, voters will be asked to pick one of the two pro-war candidates. McCain has made his position clear; his focus is on Iraq. Now it is up to Obama to point out why it’s more acceptable to kill a man who is fighting for his country in Afghanistan than it is in Iraq. If he can’t answer that question, then he deserves to lose.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Nelson Mandela removed from terrorist watch list; Jesus may soon follow

Satire

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
July 4, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Office of Homeland Security announced yesterday that they have officially removed former South African President Nelson Mandela from the national terrorist watchlist. “Mandela just turned 90 years-old, so we think he has mellowed out a tad,” said Jarvis Freidman of Homland Security. Friedman hinted that some other high profile persons such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Jesus Christ might be removed from the list of terrorists.

“Dr. King may be able to be removed,” Freidman said, “because no one takes his message of peace seriously anymore, and Jesus may not really be an anti-American terrorist after all, as our Christian friends tell us Jesus would have supported the surge in Iraq, thought poor people were poor because they wanted to be and hated homosexuals and hippies with beards and long hair who wore sandals. But don’t think we are going to remove Cat Stevens from our terror list,” Friedman said, “we can’t have Americans being terrified 33,000 feet above the earth due to the unauthorized singing of “Peace Train” breaking out on board.”

see

Iran: People Like Us (vid) + Peace Train: Images from Iran (07)