Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bradley Manning - MEP Appeal To US Authorities Raises Human Rights Issues

The call on the US government comes before a pre-trial hearing – Manning's first appearance in court – which begins on 16 December.
The MEPs said internal investigations into Manning's treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by "clear conflicts of interest".
They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning.
Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities. More here.

China Backs Pakistan In Nato Massacre Row

China's comments were the product of a 40-minute conversation between the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and his opposite number in Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar. After the exchange, the Chinese foreign ministry said that "China is deeply shocked by these events, and expresses strong concern for the victims and profound condolences to Pakistan".
A foreign ministry spokesman added: "China believes that Pakistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and the incident should be thoroughly investigated and be handled properly."
The border incident has thrown the coalition strategy in Afghanistan into crisis. The Pakistan military insists the attack on the checkpoint was "unprovoked" and that it lasted for two hours, even though Pakistani forces had contacted Nato, pleading for the firing to stop. Afghan officials continue to claim that the airstrikes were called in after they came under fire first from the Pakistani side of the border. Link

India Wins Afghan Mines Deal

In a development that correspondents say caused some concern to India's strategic rival Pakistan, the two sides said the aim was to boost trade, security and cultural links.Exploitation of the estimated two billion tonnes of iron ore deposits in Hajigak mine - located in Bamiyan - is expected to begin by 2015.Officials say that the project has the potential to be Afghanistan's single biggest foreign investment project.The Hajigak deposit contains an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of iron ore, with an iron concentration of 64%, the mines ministry said in a statement. The figures are based on a survey carried out in the 1960s. Link.

Civilian Casualties - ISAF To 'Retrain'

Karzai last week accused ISAF of killing seven people including six children in an air strike in Zhari district of the southern province of Kandahar (see earlier post).
On Sunday, in the same district three women died while one child and another woman were wounded when an ISAF mortar hit a civilian house, Kandahar governor's spokesman Zalmai Ayoubi said.
ISAF said it 'did not have any immediate information' on that incident.

10 years too late with the training, guys. If indeed any training materialises. I have a premonition the training will disappear into the same black hole as the numerous NATO/ISAF 'investigations' of the numerous previous civilian killings by their forces. Link.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Aftermath Of Nato Attack In Pakistan

NATO Attack On Pakistani Base Lasted Two Hours

How could this have been yet another 'fog of war' blunder by NATO??

Iraq Veterans Against The War Statement

Iraq Veterans Against the War Board of Directors Releases Official Statement on Occupy Movement

We are the 99%, organization says

NATIONWIDE - November 28 - Veterans are a part of the 99%.  
Most of our military is made up of the 99%.  We join the military for many reasons.  Some join because of family tradition or a sense of patriotism.  Others join for citizenship, education or to escape poverty or violence in our homes and neighborhoods. Many service members realize the wars we fight contribute to poverty and violence in Iraq and Afghanistan communities. We are coming home to a broken economy where veterans have higher unemployment, incarceration, suicide and homelessness than the national average.
The 1% is profiting from of our sacrifices.  
Our nation’s leaders have betrayed us. We have been asked to risk our lives and mental health for the defense of our country and the well being of foreign allies. The causes for military conflict have proven false while corporations profit. The military industrial complex continues to grow in wealth while the rest of the world pays for it in dollars and blood.  Instead of increasing programs to attempt to repair damages, many schools, hospitals, and social services are shutting down.  Programs for veterans are inadequate and are leaving us physically, mentally, and emotionally bankrupt.
Veterans have a history of effective grassroots organizing.  
IVAW has been a voice for veterans and their grievances since our founding in 2004.  We understand that change comes about when people speak up, organize, and demand justice. Veterans and active-duty service members have a history of organizing, from the Bonus March to the Vietnam War. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have an important contribution to make to this movement. 
As veterans and members of the 99% we stand in solidarity with the Occupy Movement.  

Nato In Disarray Over Their Massacre In Pakistan

Amid reports of potential reprisal attacks, US and allied commanders now face a diplomatic nightmare after Islamabad accused Nato of launching a deliberate act of aggression, prompting a further deterioration in US-Pakistan relations.
Pakistan's role in the fight against the Taliban is considered crucial, given the extensive contacts that elements of its military maintain with insurgent groups inside Afghanistan.
The incident is a major blow to the US commander of the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan, General John Allen, who aims to focus his forces' efforts along the eastern border provinces where the insurgency is at its fiercest and is still worsening. The Isaf coalition sees the insurgent bases on the Pakistani border as key to the campaign. 

US Air Force Ad

War propaganda at its crudest. Targeted at morons of whom they will recruit more than enough to ensure that the carnage on the Pakistan border continues.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Drones To Come Front Stage When US Soldiers Move

I was once taken to task by a couple of US warmongers on my sites when I compared drone operators in the US to Playstation geeks who were not even very good at gaming. No, they said, these were 'state of the art, precision weapons'. The carnage and civilian casualties which regularly result would indicate that the drone-lovers (they share the passion with Obama) did protest too much. Look at the pic immediately below left. This is 'Captain Bob' (he asked Christian Science Monitor not to identify him) operating a UAS at an Air Force base in Nevada. Looks like a Playstation gamer to me. The pic below right is another drone operation from Indian Springs Nevada, killing people in Kandahar. 

Karachi - Protests At US Embassy

US AfPak Shambles Deepens

This is the fundamental problem that all the diplomatic niceties can't ignore. NATO supports the Karzai government. Pakistan's Army (not its civilian government) backs the Afghan Taliban. The Army has politically neutered the civilians elected to run Pakistan in 2008. Three years ago it used the Nov. 26 terror attack on Mumbai to neuter President Asif Zardari; he wanted to cooperate with India's investigation of the terrorists, and it didn't. It won. Now it has engineered the ouster of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, whom it has long despised because he literally wrote the book on their lying and deceit. It won again. link.

NATO Forces Inside Pakistan When Air-Strike Called

An ISAF spokesman made the startling revelation on Saturday that the Mohmand attack by NATO-ISAF helicopters was in response to a call by ISAF ground forces in the area who called for help when they were attacked.
It was an operation of the Afghan national security forces and coalition forces close to the border in eastern Kunar very early in the day in the darkness. In the situation that developed on the ground, close air support was called by the ground force and it is highly likely that this air support that was then brought forward caused the incident, spokesman Carlston Jacob told a private TV channel. Spokesman Jacob made the disclosure while refusing to give details of the incident.
If his statement is correct it means that US/NATO ground forces were already in the area and when they were trapped or confronted they called for air support which came and killed Pakistan Army troops and officers.
He repeatedly said that he was waiting for the result of investigations and once the full picture was available he would comment.
He also declined to give a time line for concluding the investigation and said it will take its time. We have to go through the process and have to talk with Pakistani side and find out what led to the incident, he said.
He said he regretted the loss of life but did not offer any apologies until the probe was completed.

Gould/Werritty Plot - Details Emerging

They had had two meetings with Matthew Gould, Britain's ambassador to Israel, adding to claims that they were running a pirate (pro-Israel, or anti-Iranian?) foreign policy. Then, before we had got to know Adam Werritty properly, it all went quiet.
He has not been seen in the UK or abroad for several months; no neighbour has reported his presence at any of the various addresses unearthed when he was being sought by every news outlet in the country.
However, the trail has not gone cold because it emerges that Liam Fox and his adviser met Britain's ambassador at least four times more than was previously admitted. So why were we not told this before? Isn't this yet more evidence that they were operating outside the control of the Foreign Office? FULL STORY LINK.

Pakistan Retaliates To NATO Massacre Of Soldiers

Khar told Clinton in a phone call that the alleged Nato attack was unacceptable, showed complete disregard for human life and sparked rage within Pakistan, according a press release issued by the Pakistani prime minister's office.
In addition to closing its border crossings, Pakistan also responded by giving the US 15 days to vacate an air base in Baluchistan used by American drones. The US uses Shamsi Air Base to service drones that target al-Qa'ida and Taliban militants in Pakistan's tribal region when they cannot return to their bases inside Afghanistan because of weather conditions or mechanical difficulty, said US and Pakistani officials.
 Read more.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Strong American Voices For Peace

Powerful speeches from a demonstration in Portland to mark 10 years of grief in Afghanistan. Link.

German Troops To Stay In Afghanistan

Berlin currently has 5,350 soldiers in Afghanistan, a number which will reduce to 4,900 as Germany starts withdrawing its forces ahead of NATO's 2014 deadline for the transferral of security control to Afghan forces.
After the US and Britain, German soldiers are the third largest NATO troop contingent in Afghanistan. Link.

Was NATO Strike In Pakistan Revenge?

Nato Bloodbaths Daily Now

KABUL — NATO says it is 'investigating' an incident that occurred along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which its helicopters were accused of killing 25 Pakistani soldiers.
Pakistani officials on Saturday accused the U.S.-led coalition of firing on Pakistan army checkpoints.
In retaliation, the Pakistan government closed a key border crossing that NATO uses to move supplies to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.Top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen issued a statement Saturday offering condolences to any members of the Pakistan security forces who 'might have' been killed or injured.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

More NATO Killings, More Afghan Child Victims

A statement from Hamid Karzai said: "Initial reports as stated by the district sub-governor indicate that an air strike carried out by the international forces in Siacha village in Zhari district killed seven persons including six children and injured another two young girls.
President Karzai was 'saddened' when he heard the news and designated a team to 'fully investigate' the incident.

Future Of Egypt - Q&A

Scaf [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] has loyally copied Mubarak's tactics of evasion, crisis creation, non-responsiveness, aggression and divisiveness in order to delay meeting just about every single demand made by the revolution. Mubarak's trial is moving at a snail's pace while political activists tried in military courts receive summary trials and speedy sentences. Handing over of power (promised to happen in six months) has not happened, rather Selmy's recent proposal for a supra-constitutional document, gives the army powers Mubarak himself did not enjoy. Q&A HERE.

US Like A War-Hungry Drunk - Ex-Senator Gravel

Rick Perry Video - It's A Bonehead's Convention

Those people who do not understand why America is a basket case just have to watch this. I know Perry will not be nominated and wouldn't have a snowball's chance if he were. But he is a senior US politician of many years standing. The soldier in the clip would be, in my opinion, pretty typical of the US Army. Wired to the moon.

Cairo Protests In 6th Day (Tahrir Square Clip)

Yemeni Protests Have Been Going On Since January

More people seeking freedom from corruption and venality. Pictures from Wednesday. James Gundun has the latest reports here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Nintendo Warfare - By Jemima Khan

Two weeks ago, in Pakistan, I met a boy called Tariq who, at 16, is a year older than my son. He was a fanatical footballer, like my boy, though more politicised, like everyone in Pakistan from rickshaw wallahs to university lecturers. Political apathy is the preserve of countries that are not on the brink.
Tariq and I were both in Islamabad for the same reason: to attend a conference, organised by Clive Stafford Smith of the legal aid charity Reprieve, on the covert use of drones by the CIA in Pakistan's tribal area. Three days later Tariq was dead.
He died alongside his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed, both victims of one of the drones he was protesting about. Stafford Smith believes that a tracking device was put on his car by a CIA informant at the conference in Islamabad. There are 800,000 people living in the north-western region of Waziristan: the odds of hitting one of the 80 delegates, Stafford-Smith points out, was therefore one in 10,000.
Barack Obama has argued that the use of drone technology is the best way of targeting militants while minimising civilian casualties. Under his administration, the use of drones has increased tenfold - it is easier to eliminate terrorist suspects than to detain them. Yet an official US statement claimed there have been no "non-combatant deaths" as a result.
The delegates, tribal elders, the families of victims of drone strikes and Tariq had come from Waziristan to dispute that. They descended on Islamabad - a riot of beige, with biblical beards - armed with gruesome photographs of women and children blown to pieces among debris and missile parts stamped with serial numbers and the US flag.
At the conference, Samiullah Jan, 17, just out of college, was represented only by his ID card, retrieved from the rubble of his home. Another teenager, a 16-year-old boy called Saadullah, hobbled in on prosthetic limbs: he had lost his legs and his sight two years earlier. "I used to dream of being a doctor" he told us. "Now I can't even go to school. I'm not even human."

Rights Abuses In Bahrain Confirmed

Surprise, surprise. The report came up with the obvious but King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said he was saddened 'to learn' of the abuses. Where has he been living? The North Pole? Is he really Louis XIV?

La Colère de la Place Tahrir


Even Republican Foreign Policy Doves Are Bonkers

I'm almost embarrassed to refer to the increasingly risible contest for leadership of the Republican Partly. But it is hard to deny that it is rich seam of material for illustrating the ignorance of even those who are at the forefront of US politics, never mind the general Republican constituency. Newt Gingrich, the latest frontrunner who is not going to win the nomination, expressed the view yesterday that he opposed an attack by Israel on Iranian nuclear facilities. This was a softer line than his ziocon opponents like Cain, Bachmann and Santorum (all certifiable warmongers). But his reasoning placed him in the same demented camp as his interlocutors. 'It would still leave the regime in place' he said. He omitted to mention that it would leave hundreds or thousands of dead Iranians as well as outrage across the Arab world in place. He advocated instead covert actions, taking out Iran's scientists and undermining the regime. One of the benefits of such an approach, he said, was that it was deniable. That would be Isreali-style political assassination of foreign citizens as a foreign policy to you or me.

$7 Billion A Year Needed For Afghanistan

Aid, which in 2011 was nearly $16 billion, will decline along with troop numbers as the West scales down its presence in Afghanistan. But the United States and its allies face a serious financial burden for many years after the official end of combat operations.
The World Bank forecasts that with firm economic growth the gap will still average around $7 billion a year after 2014.
Asking the government in Kabul to tighten its belt by cutting spending on security forces risks allowing the Taliban-led insurgents to make headway. If services like health and education are reduced instead, that could damage growth and indirectly bolster support for the insurgency. Read More.

Torture Stock Riding High Under Obama

'......the Obama administration slammed the door on constitutional challenges to torture. It reiterated the Bush administration’s position, arguing that “aliens held at Guantánamo do not have due process rights,” limiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene to habeas corpus only. In other words, it was the position of the Obama administration that even though the Supreme Court had found a constitutional right for detainees to challenge their confinement, detainees had no constitutional right not to be tortured while in confinement. The Obama administration also insisted that it was not sufficiently clear that the Constitution prohibited torture of aliens, and so “a reasonable officer would not have concluded that plaintiffs here possessed Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights while they were detained at Guantánamo.” full story here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bahrein Human Rights Inquiry

People who have been affected by the repressive government crackdown with family members that have been killed, tortured, fired, expelled, or are in exile or hiding, will be gratified to know that there is a 'launch party' for the report. This is not a joke or a satirical comment. The whitewash launch is to take place at the king of Bahrain's palace. Anyone else smell the acrid scent of that stuff ... what is it called again....

The Call Of Duty

I'm not a gamer myself but I understand that on the 8th November, the release of the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" raked in $310 million in sales for Activision Blizzard Inc. in its first 24-hours, setting a first-day sales record. Along with the "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" video game, there are other items for sale including t-shirts and hoodies.The firm said it sold more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom alone with the release. The sales figures surpassed last year's release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which had $360M in first day sell-through, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released in 2009, which had estimated first day sell through of $310M.
This must be heartwarming to US veterans returning from real, failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to public indifference, unemployment and PTSD. If they miss the call of 'battle', they can always buy the game, I suppose.

5 Years For Complicity In Murdering Afghans

Report below from The Jurist. A good gauge on how much value is placed on the lives of ordinary Afghans by the US and its army. The last murderer mentioned can rejoin his regiment if he wants.

A five-soldier jury on Friday convicted Army Staff Sgt. David Bram, 27, for a list of charges stemming from his attempt to cover up drug use in his platoon and also to kill Afghan civilians. Bram was sentenced to five years in prison [News Tribune report] for solicitation to commit premeditated murder and failure to report crimes including murder. He was found not guilty on charges relating to an alleged incident where he planted an AK-47 magazine near an Afghan civilian after he shot and killed him in January 2010. Bram is the sixth soldier from the 5th Stryker Brigade to be charged in connection with the three Afghan deaths, which took place between January and May of last year in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. A military investigation revealed that soldiers from the brigade had been plotting since 2009 to kill unarmed Afghans and stage them to look like casualties of combat. Another soldier, Specialist Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty[JURIST report] in March to three counts of murder as well as single counts of assault, conspiracy, obstructing justice and illegal drug use in exchange for a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison. Morlock described Bram's involvement in his plea agreement, claiming that Bram overhead other soldiers planning civilian deaths and told Morlock that it was clear to go ahead with one of the killings in January 2010. Bram faced up to 21 years in prison if convicted of all charges against him.

This does not mark the first time Bram will face charges before a military tribunal for misconduct. Bram was court-martialed last year [JURIST report] for charges unrelated to the murders. He was accused of severely beating an Army private in his unit to keep the soldier from informing superiors about alleged drug abuse within the unit. The charges included conspiracy to commit assault and battery, unlawfully striking another soldier, violating a lawful order, dereliction of duty, cruelty, maltreatment and endeavoring to impede an investigation. The probe into 12 members of the 5th Stryker Brigade regarding the civilian deathsbegan in May 2010 [JURIST report]. Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens, another member of the brigade, pleaded guilty in December [JURIST report] to shooting two unarmed Afghan farmers following a plea agreement that will allow him to remain in the military after serving a nine month sentence and testifying against other soldiers accused of terrorizing civilians.

Some Recent Statistics From Afghanistan and Iraq

Foxy Goes To War
Brownie Goes To War
Another Afghanistan War victim whose death won't be counted in the statistics.
Another Iraq War victim whose death won't be counted in the statistics.

Spot The Difference

Monday, 21 November 2011

CIA, MI6 And Mossad - Together Against Syria

Cairo - Nombre De Morts à Tahrir (Le Caire)

Le nombre de morts à Tahrir (Le Caire) et dans d'autres provinces s'élève à 22" depuis le début des troubles samedi, a indiqué le ministère. Le communiqué ne précise pas le nombre des blessés, évalué à 1.700 dans un précédent bilan. La télévision publique, se référant à la même source, avait peu avant fait état de 20 morts sur la place Tahrir, dans le centre du Caire, où se déroulent les affrontements les plus violents.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

11th Conviction In War Atrocities

Bram was found guilty of assaulting a private who blew the whistle on drug use in their platoon, soliciting another soldier to join him in a scheme to murder Afghan civilians, impeding an Army investigation and disobeying a general order by possessing photos of casualties.Read more: 

Iran WMD - Cracks Appearing In Conspiracy Theories

'But former IAEA inspector Robert Kelley has denounced the agency’s claims about such a containment chamber as “highly misleading”.Kelley, a nuclear engineer who was the IAEA’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq and is now a senior research fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, pointed out in aninterview with the Real News Network that a cylindrical chamber designed to contain 70 kg of explosives, as claimed by the IAEA, could not possibly have been used for hydrodynamic testing of a nuclear weapon design, contrary to the IAEA claim.“There are far more explosives in that bomb than could be contained by this container,” Kelley said, referring to the simulated explosion of a nuclear weapon in a hydrodynamic experiment.Kelley also observed that hydrodynamic testing would not have been done in a container inside a building in any case. “You have to be crazy to do hydrodynamic explosives in a container,” he said. “There’s no reason to do it. They’re done outdoors on firing tables.”Kelley rejected the IAEA claim that the alleged cylindrical chamber was new evidence of an Iranian weapons program. “We’ve been led by the nose to believe that this container is important, when in fact it’s not important at all,” Kelley said.' More here.

To Drone Or Not To Drone

Since 2000, or the second year of the war, targeting leaders of the Chechen insurgency became official Russian policy. The Russian government used this policy as a means to counter the Chechen independence movement and discourage the Arab volunteers who came to Chechnya to support the movement, bringing with them their religious ideologies. The Russian government eliminated Arbi Barayev (2001), Salman Raduyev (who died in captivity under mysterious circumstances) (2002), Khattab (with a poisoned letter) (2004), former Chechen interim President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in the Qatari capital, Doha (2004), guerrilla leader Ruslan Gelayev (2004), President Aslan Maskhadov (2005) and Shamil Basayev (2006).
Since then, the Chechen insurgency has spilled over into the neighbouring North Caucasus republic under the umbrella of the Caucasus Islamic State, consisting of a new generation unknown to Russian security services. This strongly suggests that targeting leaders does not dismantle militant groups. Read More.

Jihad In Afghanistan

A curiosity more than anything else. Taliban Propaganda Film from Last Year.

Another Bungled Night Raid - Two Police Dead

Two Afghan policemen were killed and three wounded when Nato-led forces shot them at a checkpoint, a local police chief said Saturday.
The incident happened due to a "misunderstanding" between international troops and the Afghan forces, who are jointly fighting a ten-year Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, the chief added.
The shooting took place late Friday on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Ghazni when Afghan police tried to stop a convoy of foreign forces, police chief Dilawar Zahid told AFP.
"Last night, a convoy of foreign forces from Kabul were heading towards Ghazni when they were stopped by Afghan police. They opened fire on the police checkpoint, killing two police and wounding three," he said.
A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, Sergeant Christopher DeWitt, said they were aware of an incident and were 'gathering details.'

Friday, 18 November 2011

The African 'Crusaders'

A propaganda film from Mogadishu. You don't see many clips like this. Youtube are now blocking them, I believe. Of historical and topical interest. Clip Here.

UK Citizens Latest of 2,300 Pakistan Drone Victims

One strike on Wednesday, in which missiles are said to have been launched against a suspected militant base near the Afghan border, is reported to have killed up to 18 men. Another on Thursday is said to have killed between four and seven men.

The two Britons were from Ilford in east London. Although news of their deaths has just emerged, both are said to have been killed weeks ago. Adam is said to have been killed six weeks ago while riding a motorcycle, and the second man is said to have been killed two weeks later.

The Aim Of All War Is Robbery

This is from Arthur Schopenhauer's Essay On Human Nature. His remarks and those of Voltaire, whom he quotes here, are applicable to every war zone in the world today.
'When the herbivorous animals had taken their place in the organic world, beasts of prey made their appearance--necessarily a late appearance--in each species, and proceeded to live upon them. Just in the same way, as soon as by honest toil and in the sweat of their faces men have won from the ground what is needed for the support of their societies, a number of individuals are sure to arise in some of these societies, who, instead of cultivating the earth and living on its produce, prefer to take their lives in their hands and risk health and freedom by falling upon those who are in possession of what they have honestly earned, and by appropriating the fruits of their labour. These are the beasts of prey in the human race; they are the conquering peoples whom we find everywhere in history, from the most ancient to the most recent times. Their varying fortunes, as at one moment they succeed and at another fail, make up the general elements of the history of the world. Hence Voltaire was perfectly right when he said that the aim of all war is robbery. That those who engage in it are ashamed of their doings is clear by the fact that governments loudly protest their reluctance to appeal to arms except for purposes of self-defence. Instead of trying to excuse themselves by telling public and official lies, which are almost more revolting than war itself, they should take their stand, as bold as brass, on Macchiavelli's doctrine. The gist of it may be stated to be this: that whereas between one individual and another, and so far as concerns the law and morality of their relations, the principle, _Don't do to others what you wouldn't like done to yourself_, certainly applies, it is the converse of this principle which is appropriate in the case of nations and in politics: _What you wouldn't like done to yourself do to others_. If you do not want to be put under a foreign yoke, take time by the forelock, and put your neighbour under it himself; whenever, that is to say, his weakness offers you the opportunity. For if you let the opportunity pass, it will desert one day to the enemy's camp and offer itself there. Then your enemy will put you under his yoke; and your failure to grasp the opportunity may be paid for, not by the generation which was guilty of it, but by the next. This Macchiavellian principle is always a much more decent cloak for the lust of robbery than the rags of very obvious lies in a speech from the head of the State; lies, too, of a description which recalls the well-known story of the rabbit attacking the dog. Every State looks upon its neighbours as at bottom a horde of robbers, who will fall upon it as soon as they have the opportunity.' 

3 Million Afghans Face Hunger This Winter

"Time is running out to be able to provide communities with the help they most desperately need before a harsh winter makes many areas inaccessible. Snow is already falling and many mountainous areas are likely to be cut off within weeks."
Afghanistan's harsh winter which lasts from November to March often results in heavy snowfall of up to 13 feet deep, blocking remote mountain passes and leaving hundreds of thousands of villagers isolated for months.
As winter sets in, people are feeling the effects of the drought by cutting down on meals, moving across the border to Pakistan and Iran or taking loans to buy food, driving them into debt. Schools have closed as children are being put to work.
Despite 14 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces -- including Faryab and Badakhshan -- being hit by the drought, an October emergency appeal by the United Nations for $142 million has only so far only been 7 percent funded by international donors. Reuters Report here.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

US Troops In Australia - China Wary

Obama made a whirlwind 27-hour visit to Australia, where he and Julia Gillard, the prime minister, announced that from next year 250 marines will be stationed in the Northern Territory, rotating in and out of Darwin for around six months at a time. Over the next few years this will build to a force of 2,500 US personnel.
In the last year the Pentagon has also negotiated wider access to military facilities in Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines, prompting fears in Beijing that it is engaged in a policy of encirclement, as well as becoming involved in the row over waters in the South China Sea, which are claimed by several nations.
"The United States is also trying to get involved in a number of regional maritime disputes, some of which concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," a commentary from China's official Xinhua news agency said. More.

Taliban Strategy Debate

The long, unsigned letter is being circulated via the Taliban’s official yet clandestine courier network. It was composed in secrecy by a small group of former Taliban operatives and ministers who sat down together last month in the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Their task was to identify the crucial issues the Taliban must confront before and after the proposed 2014 U.S. troop withdrawal. Although replete with predictable rhetoric about a decisive “military defeat of the Americans in Afghanistan,” the document offers an extraordinarily candid assessment of the group’s past failures and the “huge challenges” it will face if the Taliban regains or shares power in the future. Although the authors were not named, their identities were known to the group’s top leaders. (In fact, one was a longtime Newsweek source who goes by the single name Zabihullah.) Read More.

Torture - 'Drawing A Line' Under It

Foreign Secretary William Hague has stressed the Government's commitment to "drawing a line" under allegations that the intelligence services were complicit in torture overseas.
In a speech, Mr Hague acknowledged the UKs reputation has been harmed by claims made by a number of Brtions who say MI6 knew of their abuse while in custody in Pakistan.
"The very making of these allegations undermined Britain's standing in the world as
a country that upholds international law and abhors torture," he said.
Someone should tell him neither us nor America now have any standing in the world. Most of the world hates America. An exception is the part of the world who don't know about America. But that part of the world have heard of Britain and they hate us instead of America.
Mr Hague pointed to the inquiry as well as recent green paper proposals to enable the greater use of secret intelligence material in court cases as evidence of the Government's commitment to tackle the issue.
However, human rights groups and the lawyers of some former Guantanamo detainees said they will not take part after it was announced the Government would decide what evidence is made public.
 The Government also plans to convert a committee of MPs which monitors MI5 and MI6 into a statutory committee that reports to parliament and has stronger powers to obtain information.
 "We are confident that, taken together, these changes represent the most comprehensive effort yet to address the complex issues thrown up by the need to protect our security in the 21st century, and to do so in a way that upholds our values and begins to restore public confidence," Mr Hague said.
 Mr Hague, who is responsible for the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6 and GCHQ, said that each year he sees hundreds of operational proposals, not all of which are approved.
 He acknowledged that the operation of the agencies throws up difficult ethical dilemmas - but that properly used, they are a "vital asset" in protecting the economy, preventing crime and protecting lives.

Doubt Cast On US-Based Afghan Survey

The poll, which has 73% of Afghans happy with the government (ahem), was by Asia Foundation, a US-based organisation. More here.

Obama Discusses The 10-year Debacle With Hillary

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Dance Of Death Goes On

Detail from Francisco Goya's series 'The Disasters of War' which I stumbled across the other day after many years. The title of it is 'Las Camas De La Muerte'. The Deathbeds. The scene he painted is from the war of the Spanish nationalists against France and Napoleon around 1810. It could be a scene from more recent times in Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya or................If you study it closely you can almost hear in the background the echoes of old empires crumbling.
Afghanistan Office Discussion
by: oakroyd

£622M Defrauded From Bank Of Kabul

Afghan officials will decide whether to push forward with prosecutions or to let those responsible for the fraud walk free in return for help in securing the rest of the cash, according to western officials.
The attorney-general’s office in Kabul says it has so far completed investigations into 19 individuals, but only nine have been charged.
In private, western officials are sceptical about the willingness of the Afghan government to prosecute shareholders and executives because of their political connections.
Officials say the bank’s former chairman, Sherkhan Farnood, a word-class poker player, could dish the dirt on senior government officials if he were ever taken to court. Farnood and his deputy, Khalilullah Frozi, were arrested in July. Both men were released on the condition that they help the government recover the missing funds.
At the meeting of Afghan officials and donor countries, a Kroll official said the men were “being very co-operative in assisting with the collection of the bad loans”.
The International Monetary Fund last month renewed its credit programme to Afghanistan, which it had suspended 13 months earlier because of the Kabul Bank crisis and the lack of oversight of Afghanistan’s banking system. Britain and other donors had also withheld aid, which is used to pay the salaries of teachers, health workers and government employees. Full details documented here.

Herman Cain Would Like To Know Where Libya Is

GOP Leadership Clowns On Iran and Foreign Policy

Max Boot Impressed by US Products In Afghanistan

Monday, 14 November 2011

Matthew Gould And The Plot To Attack Iran

This is a must-read from ex-ambassador, Craig Murray,

Since I became a notorious whistleblower, several of my ex-friends and contacts have used me to get out information they wanted to leak, via my blog. A good recent example was a senior friend at the UN who tipped me off in advance on the deal by which the US agreed to the Saudi attack on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, in return for Arab League support for the NATO attack on Libya. But this was rather different, not least in the apparent implication that our Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, was engaged in something with Werritty which went beyond official FCO policy.
I was particularly concerned by this because I knew slightly and liked Matthew Gould, from the time he wrote speeches for Robin Cook. I hoped there was nothing much in it. But then Gould’s name started to come up as professional journalists dug into the story, and reported Werritty’s funding by pro-Israeli lobby groups. READ MORE.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Kabul 'Much Better' After Ten Years

Oops, sorry. The headline is a quote from the NATO Ambassador, Mark Gass, I'm afraid. Here is another from the same speech:
"When you walk around in Kabul, this is now a bustling lively city with women on the streets and people able to go to hospitals.....''

He forgot to mention that quite a lot of them are going to hospitals. And a lot more will when NATO leaves its mess behind and moves on to create another one in someone else's country.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

More Civilian Victims - Taliban Responsible This Time

Afghan officials say eight civilians were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan today.

Laghman provincial spokesman Faizanullah Patan says the eight people, including a woman, a child, and a groom were killed when the roadside bomb hit a civilian car in the Alingar district of the province.

Laghman Province is located in volatile eastern Afghanistan toward the border with Pakistan. 

Training Material For The Calvin Gibbs's Of Tomorrow

Spotlight On Drone Terrorism

US drone attacks under spotlight in Islamabad... by presstv

Future Of Afghanistan - December Bonn Conference

On 5 December, a major conference on Afghanistan’s future will be held in Bonn (the website is already up here), the place, where 2001 the founding agreements for the Karzai state, for the intervention and for a decade of good intentions and questionable results were laid. The Germans are the hosts, but the Afghan government will chair the conference, selecting their own delegation and testing the sovereignty of the state in transition. A pre-conference forum of elected civil society figures on 2 and 3 December (with its own website, too, here) will allow both, the people to be given a symbolic voice, and the international community, foremost the Germans, to liaise with the real people of Afghanistan. More.

Calvin Gibbs Conviction - Vietnam and 'Predator' Comparisons

Friday, 11 November 2011

Faces Behind The Terror Drones

'While the world debates the legal and ethical implications of unmanned combat, there is little acknowledgment that these weapons are anything but unmanned.
“At the end, it’s always about people, no matter what,” said Asaf Gilboa, a former UAV operator for the Israeli Air Force who is now the CEO of Themis, an international UAV consultant firm.
The drone itself consists of five or six parts that can be dissembled, packed into a container known as “the coffin,” and deployed anywhere in the world. But inside that container is a lot more than just a vehicle: it’s an entire system, with satellite communication equipment, cameras and sensor systems, lasers, rangefinders, moving target indicators, and more.
The journey of the drone, operated by either the military or the CIA, begins in the hands of civilians.' Read more.

Sgt.Calvin Gibbs - The Deerhunter

In his 'defence' Calvin Gibbs compared taking body parts from his murder victims to taking the antlers from deer which he had shot. The attitude to the native population by Gibbs and his associates will be familiar to those who have followed events in Iraq, where Gibbs also boasted of killings. The treatment of the local population as 'untermenschen' and somehow not as human as Americans was not restricted to a few psychos either in Iraq or Afghanistan. Most of the (essentially racist) murder and massacre crimes by the US military and mercenaries/contractors in both countries have gone and will go unpunished.
Dialogue from the Deerhunter, early scenes:-
Nick:  Shout Geronimo, Geronimo - It's the Screaming Eagles Airborne song.  It's a gory road to glory But we're ready Here we go. Shout Geronimo. Screaming assholes. Geronimo, look out below. Fuckin' Assholes. Look out below - Let me be free. Let me be free. I don't remember the rest of the words.