Archive for Afghanistan

Zarifa Qazizadah: An Amazing Afghan Woman

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by loonwatch

I am unsure if she is actually the first female village chief in Afghanistan but Qazizadah certainly defies the stereotype of the “oppressed, burka-clad Afghan woman,” emerging as a committed and strong-willed politician who is actually getting things done. (h/t: MA):

First female village chief in Afghanistan defies gender roles

(AlArabiya English)

In a male-dominated society that has for years been controlled by the ultra-conservative Taliban, the emergence of the first female village chief took everyone by surprise.

After being ridiculed by male villagers for wanting to occupy political office, Zarifa Qazizadah, the mother of 15 children, managed to become the mayor of Naw Abad, a village in the northern Balkh province.

Qazizadah’s political ambition started in 2004 when she told her mocking fellow villagers that she wanted to represent them and promised to supply Naw Abad with electricity.

“I am telling the men in my village that if they have any problems, I will talk to the government on their behalf and in case of any trouble at night, I will carry my gun and come to your houses to solve the problem,” she said.

Qazizadah added that she is willing to be disguised as a man and drive a motorcycle in the middle of the night if this will enable her to help her people.

She lost the 2004 elections but kept her promise as far as connecting the village to electricity is concerned. Two years later, the same men who ridiculed Qazizadah asked her to run for head of the village and she finally succeeded.

Currently, Qazizadah’s priority is guarding the electricity supply in Naw Abad and making sure there are no power thefts in the neighborhood.

“I cannot allow this to happen,” she said. “It is against the law.”

Qazizadah also kept her promise about handling problems that occur at night – she dons men’s clothes, gets on her motorcycle, and heads to where the trouble is. According to her, disguise is better in a conservative society that would be shocked to see a woman on a motorcycle late at night.

Qazizadah also uses her own field tractor to tow cars that break down in the middle of the road or get stuck in the mud.

“She does things men are incapable of,” said Mulawi Sayed Mohamed, one of the villagers.

To make the electricity project materialize, Qazizadah sold her jewelry to be able to travel to the capital Kabul and negotiate with relevant bodies.

She also mortgaged her house in order to secure the amount required to supply the village with electricity. Five months later, she was able to supply all the houses in the village with electricity.

“Villagers only got to know what I did after they were connected. Then they started paying me back.”

Qazizadah used the money villagers paid for their electricity consumption to build a bridge that connects the village with the main road.

She also helped fund the construction of the first mosque in Naw Abad which is distinguished from all the other mosques in the country by the fact that both men and women pray in it together.

Qazizadah’s achievements look even more substantial when seen against the backdrop of her circumstances. The 50-year-old mayor was married at the age of 10 and had her first child at the age of 15. She lived for years with her husband in a remote village where she was “nothing but a servant” as she puts it.

When the Taliban took over, she moved with her family to Mazar-e-Sharif where she started community work with a vaccination campaign for children. She also started an initiative to teach children to read and write.

Qazizadah, now the grandmother of 36 children, is also head of the Women’s Council in the village and holds regular meetings for female villagers whom she advises to follow in her footsteps and teaches means of self-empowerment.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

A Message from the People: An Afghan Okinawa

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , on May 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Afghans

Many people talk about Afghanistan, but rarely do Afghans have a chance to speak for themselves to the world audience. The following analysis about the future of their country was written by Afghans who are part of The Afghan Peace Volunteers:

We are Afghan college students and youth who started this journey in 2008.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers are a grassroots group of ordinary, multi-ethnic Afghans seeking a life of non-violence, the unity of all people, equality, and self-reliance. We seek non-military solutions for Afghanistan and do not work for the benefit of any political group or religion.

We envision Afghans from all ethnic groups uniting for a non-violent movement towards a peaceful life.

An Afghan Okinawa
by The Afghan Peace Volunteers

There is no U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014.

We are ordinary Afghans wishing for peace, and we have eyes and ears and feelings of love and despair, so please read on.

The Washington Post, in reporting the recent signing of the “U.S. Afghan Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement”, stated that U.S. trainers and Special Operations troops that remain beyond 2014 will live on Afghan bases.”

U.S. citizens should understand that there will not be a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014, whether Obama or Romney wins. As Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune wrote in ‘Every President is a war President’, There is no Democratic or Republican Party. There is only the war party.

It is the same in Afghanistan.

A guns and graves culture

Building a global guns-and-graves culture?

Sadly, all of the world’s Presidents and Prime Ministers today are Commander-in-CEOs that wage geopolitical and economic wars against their own and other people, leveraging hard, militarized money and power.

People in many places are protesting to change this status quo, no longer content with political lies at the people’s expense. Could this be the beautiful birth of our Human Spring? We’ve always known the flowering of that spring will take time.

Andrew Exum, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, criticized Obama for implying that the war was winding down. “I think it is misleading to say we are winding down the war,” Exum said. “The war does not stop and start according to our desires, and it will not stop for the Afghans. It will also not stop for the many U.S. special operations forces that will continue to fight by, with, and through the Afghans”

In the fortified but chronically battle-ravaged capital city of Kabul, the only city in Afghanistan where, backed by the U.S. military, Hamid Karzai actually governs, 16-year-old Ali was disappointed that a seemingly fearful Obama, arriving by night, sneaked into the unlit city with its overflowing sewage and vanishing water-table to sign the “Enduring Strategic Partnership” agreement. Ali awoke that May 1st morning and got news of the deal. “What?” he asked. “They couldn’t even honourably face the people they seek to rule!”

In the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement, under point six of Section III which is entitled Advanced Long-Term Security, we read that “Afghanistan shall provide U.S. personnel continued access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014, and beyond as may be agreed in the Bilateral Security Agreement, for the purposes of combating al-Qaeda and its affiliates, training the Afghan Security Forces and other mutually determined missions to advance shared security interests.”

Instead of plans to withdraw all U.S. troops, the ‘…continued access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014, and beyond…’ are plans to establish an ‘Afghan Okinawa’.

Human meaning vs. cynical semantics

The Obama administration has cleverly assuaged concerns inside the U.S. with the nominally factual claim that the U.S. seeks ‘no permanent military bases in Afghanistan’.

This Orwellian play with words had successfully enabled President Obama to declare in a 32-page report entitled United States Activities in Libya that “the Libya fight is not a war’, but just ‘kinetic military actions,” thus allowing Obama to continue the Libyan intervention beyond 60 days without the congressional approval required by the U.S. Constitution and “the War Powers Resolution of 1973 .

‘No Libya war’?

‘No permanent military base in Afghanistan’?

The reality is that the U.S. bases will be “Afghan” bases, but housing as many as 20,000 U.S. “trainers” and Special Ops forces, actually numbering more than the U.S. troops currently stationed at the controversial Futenma airbase in Okinawa, Japan, and double the number that will remain there after the  troop withdrawal recently (and heatedly) negotiated with Japan.

Karzai should note how keeping U.S. troops at the Japanese Okinawa base has become so socially and politically unacceptable.

President Karzai is naturally concerned about his legacy and should therefore consider the possibility that even those Afghans who are now happy with U.S. military dollars will later demand an end to the ‘Afghan Okinawa’ just like the dignified Japanese have. To prevent a fall from grace in the history books, Karzai should also read how ‘Japanese PM Yukio Hatayamo had to resign over the Okinawa row’, just 8 months after he had come into power.

An Afghan opposition party, the National United Front, has already stated that the Strategic Partnership Agreement will be condemned by Afghanistan’s present and future generations.

The majority of U.S. citizens who want the war in Afghanistan to end will be disappointed that there won’t be a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014 after all.

There will not be a complete U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014.

Not all U.S. troops will withdraw in 2014.

There were never plans to withdraw all U.S. troops in 2014.

‘Withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014’ is Obama’s ‘war of perceptions’.

In how many ways need we say this for our U.S. friends, so that they can ask for their own public opinion against the Afghan war to be democratically considered?

Civility and brutality

“We also want a functioning economy for everyone, decent livelihoods in a secure environment so that we can study, work and return home safely every day. U.S. Special Ops and drones cannot do that for us,” says Shams, an Afghan Peace Volunteer.

Ordinary Afghans, like ordinary Americans, want the Afghan war to end.

But there are differences which should be openly addressed as to how we want the Afghan war to end.

Whereas both ordinary Americans and Afghans appreciate civilities, their governments have become so militarized that they offer no civil options.

Using U.S. Special Ops and drones is a military option, an option amply proven over the Afghan centuries to have failed. It is not a civil option.

“I would rather have one unarmed American humanitarian teacher or worker in my village than a thousand armed Taliban or American soldiers,” says Abdulhai. “I can eat bread, I can’t eat bullets. I need ways to earn a living, not ways to kill a man,”

To Abdulhai, bread, education and work is defense, genuine civil defense.

There are no physical ‘terrorist havens’ in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else in the world that U.S. Special Ops forces can annihilate to ‘finish the job’ as Obama has commanded them.

The ‘terrorist’ approach here is not only the military approach adopted by Al Qaeda and its constantly sprouting affiliates, but clearly also the military approach adopted by the U.S. government in its foreign policy aim of achieving global ‘full spectrum dominance’, as described in the ‘Joint Vision 2020’ blueprint of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Arriving superpower China, like the departed powers of Britain and Russia and the U.S. superpower so slow in departing, can be expected to adopt the same approach of hard, brutal force.

All of them, whether amoral philosophers, Muslim ‘jihadis’ or Augustinian ‘crusaders’, have done little but disappoint and then kill the Afghan people, just as their traditional tactics have betrayed and slaughtered so much of the human race.

Some may applaud Obama’s midnight approval of an Afghan Okinawa, but please respect our humanity when we say that we don’t. We detest the epaulettes, the weapons, the salutes, the hubris, the stealth and the Orwellian words in English and Dari that violate our yearning for truth.

From the pre-dawn darkness of Obama’s night swoop through Kabul (all to seal a ‘new day’ of perpetual war in South Asia) to the subsequent Taliban attacks on Green Village in which children on the way to school were killed, we hope you’ll hear this voice.

This voice is in you too, and it is awakening.

‘Help us with civil dignities.

Don’t applaud an Afghan Okinawa.

Withdraw your Special brutalities.

Bring ALL your troops home.’

The Afghan Peace Volunteers

Salon.com: US attack kills 5 Afghan kids

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2012 by loonwatch

We didn’t hear much about this in the news media. Not only that we don’t even know the names of these children because their lives aren’t as valuable as “Western lives.” Let the “Greater Islamophobia” march on: (h/t: Saladin)

US attack kills 5 Afghan kids

The way in which the U.S. media ignores such events speaks volumes about how we perceive them

BY , Salon.com

(updated below – Update II)

Yesterday, I noted several reports from Afghanistan that as many as 20 civilians were killed by two NATO airstrikes, including a mother and her five children. Today, the U.S. confirmed at least some of those claims, acknowledging and apologizing for its responsibility for the death of that family:

The American military claimed responsibility and expressed regret for an airstrike that mistakenly killed six members of a family in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Monday.

The attack, which took place Friday night, was first revealed by the governor of Helmand Province, Muhammad Gulab Mangal, on Monday. His spokesman, Dawoud Ahmadi, said that after an investigation they had determined that a family home in the Sangin district had been attacked by mistake in the American airstrike, which was called in to respond to a Taliban attack. . . . The victims were the family’s mother and five of her children, three girls and two boys, according to Afghan officials.

This happens over and over and over again, and there are several points worth making here beyond the obvious horror:

(1) To the extent these type of incidents are discussed at all — and in American establishment media venues, they are most typically ignored — there are certain unbending rules that must be observed in order to retain Seriousness credentials. No matter how many times the U.S. kills innocent people in the world, it never reflects on our national character or that of our leaders. Indeed, none of these incidents convey any meaning at all. They are mere accidents, quasi-acts of nature which contain no moral information (in fact, the NYT article on these civilian deaths, out of nowhere, weirdly mentioned that “in northern Afghanistan, 23 members of a wedding celebration drowned in severe flash flooding” — as though that’s comparable to the U.S.’s dropping bombs on innocent people). We’ve all been trained, like good little soldiers, that the phrase “collateral damage” cleanses and justifies this and washes it all way: yes, it’s quite terrible, but innocent people die in wars; that’s just how it is. It’s all grounded in America’s central religious belief that the country has the right to commit violence anywhere in the world, at any time, for any cause.

At some point — and more than a decade would certainly qualify — the act of continuously killing innocent people, countless children, in the Muslim world most certainly does reflect upon, and even alters, the moral character of a country, especially its leaders. You can’t just spend year after year piling up the corpses of children and credibly insist that it has no bearing on who you are. That’s particularly true when, as is the case in Afghanistan, the cause of the war is so vague as to be virtually unknowable. It’s woefully inadequate to reflexively dismiss every one of these incidents as the regrettable but meaningless by-product of our national prerogative. But to maintain mainstream credibility, that is exactly how one must speak of our national actions even in these most egregious cases. To suggest any moral culpability, or to argue that continuously killing children in a country we’re occupying is morally indefensible, is a self-marginalizing act, whereby one reveals oneself to be a shrill and unSerious critic, probably even a pacifist. Serious commentators, by definition, recognize and accept that this is merely the inevitable outcome of America’s supreme imperial right, note (at most) some passing regret, and then move on.

(2) Yesterday — a week after it leaked that it was escalating its drone strikes in Yemen — the Obama administration claimed that the CIA last month disrupted a scary plot originating in Yemen to explode an American civilian jet “using a more sophisticated version of the underwear bomb deployed unsuccessfully in 2009.” American media outlets — especially its cable news networks — erupted with their predictable mix of obsessive hysteria, excitement and moral outrage. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last night devoted the bulk of his show to this plot, parading the standard cast of characters — former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and terrorist advocate) Fran Townsend and its “national security analyst” Peter Bergen — to put on their Serious and Concerned faces, recite from the U.S. Government script, and analyze all the profound implications. CNN even hauled out Rep. Peter King to warn that this shows a “new level” of Terror threats from Yemen. CNN’s fixation on this plot continued into this morning.

Needless to say, the fact that the U.S. has spent years and years killing innocent adults and children in that part of the world — including repeatedly in Yemen — was never once mentioned, even though it obviously is a major factor for why at least some people in that country support these kinds of plots. Those facts are not permitted to be heard. Discussions of causation — why would someone want to attack a U.S. airliner? – is an absolute taboo, beyond noting that the people responsible are primitive and hateful religious fanatics. Instead, it is a simple morality play reinforced over and over: Americans are innocently minding their own business — trying to enjoy our Freedoms — and are being disgustingly targeted with horrific violence by these heinous Muslim Terrorists whom we must crush (naturally, the solution to the problem that there is significant anti-American animosity in Yemen is to drop even more bombs on them, which will certainly fix this problem).

Indeed, on the very same day that CNN and the other cable news networks devoted so much coverage to a failed, un-serious attempt to bring violence to the U.S. — one that never moved beyond the early planning stages and “never posed a threat to public safety” — it was revealed that the U.S. just killed multiple civilians, including a family of 5 children, in Afghanistan. But that got no mention. That event simply does not exist in the world of CNN and its viewers (I’d be shocked if it has been mentioned on MSNBC or Fox either). Nascent, failed non-threats directed at the U.S. merit all-hands-on-deck, five-alarm media coverage, but the actual extinguishing of the lives of children by the U.S. is steadfastly ignored (even though the latter is so causally related to the former).

This is the message sent over and over by the U.S. media: we are the victims of heinous, frightening violence; our government must do more, must bomb more, must surveil more, to Keep Us Safe; we do nothing similar to this kind of violence because we are Good and Civilized. This is how our Objective, Viewpoint-Free journalistic outlets continuously propagandize: by fixating on the violence done by others while justifying — or, more often, ignoring — the more far-reaching and substantial violence perpetrated by the U.S.

(3) If one of the relatives of the children just killed in Afghanistan decided to attack the U.S. — or if one of the people involved in this Yemen-originating plot were a relative of one of the dozens of civilians killed by Obama’s 2009 cluster bomb strike — what would they be called by the U.S. media? Terrorists. Primitive, irrational, religious fanatics beyond human decency.

* * * * *

This point cannot be emphasized enough.

UPDATEFrom the comments:

I was just sitting here thinking “I love reading GG, but I think he is being quite harsh here, it was only 5 kids that died, and that happens in war – its hardly as if it was some really major tragedy”.

And this is despite the fact that I would describe myself as a staunch anti-Imperialist who shuns the MSM – yet still I seem to be getting conditioned that the killing of these 5 kids is “normal”. Scary. Very scary.

We’re all subject to that conditioning, which is why it’s so necessary to pause every now and then to realize what a “really major tragedy” it actually is: one that could be easily avoided with different choices.

UPDATE II: It is now confirmed that the would-be bomber of the civilian jet was, in fact, a double agent working for the CIA and Saudi intelligence. So just as virtually every “domestic Terror plot” is one conceived, directed, funded and controlled by the FBI, this new Al Qaeda plot from Yemen was directed by some combination of the CIA and its Saudi partners. So this wasn’t merely a failed, nascent plot which is causing this fear-mongering media orgy: it was one controlled at all times by the U.S. and Saudi Governments.

Declaring War on ‘Political Islamism’

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by loonwatch
William KristolWilliam Kristol

The neocons have been around for decades, first to mobilize support against Soviet-led communism, and then, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to wage a so-called “Global War on Terrorism.”

As the architects of the spectacularly disastrous Iraq War, the necons should have been thoroughly discredited and relegated to the political fringe. Yet it seems these foreign policy hawks have simply retooled their message, founded a new think tank, and are poised to wreak havoc once again.

By Robert Parry

Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has responded to his lack of foreign policy experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.”

In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan – and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end” – as foolish wishful thinking.

“It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war … will end’ — even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there — then the American people should know that.”

What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration – presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks – will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from.

“This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in — and had no choice but to engage in — a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front.

“There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.”

As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.”

In other words, Kristol and the neocons expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries.

One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare.

He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency?

Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his reelection.

But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.”

Romney’s foreign policy advisers include:

Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehmanand Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation.

Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world – except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.”

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists. …

“Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power — conceived in the broadest terms — that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies. …

“A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. …

“The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies

The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness.

“A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards that United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed.

“Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources.

“They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs.

“They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States.

“This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country. …

“Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combating global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy.

“The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A President who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future. … Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East

As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran:

“Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. …

“To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. … The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.

“With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunderstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner.

“President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring.

“But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure. …

“[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

“The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.”

Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes:

“Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders.

“Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege andNeck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

Now We All Agree the Afghan War Was Not Worth Fighting

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by loonwatch

Afghan Graves

“Speak good words to an enemy very softly; gradually destroy him root and branch.” ~ Pashtun Proverb

For many, it seemed as if the 9/11 terrorist attacks instantly indicted the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, and transformed many Muslim-majority countries into potential bomb targets.

No Afghans were identified among the hijackers involved in the attacks, but US-ally-turned-Prime Suspect, Osama Bin Laden, had taken refuge in Afghanistan’s forbidding lands. After then-President George Bush rejected repeated offers by Taliban leaders to turn over the Saudi-born suspect, the US  invaded the already war-torn and impoverished country in October, 2001.

No Iraqis were identified among the hijackers involved in the attacks, and though the public was initially led to believe otherwise, Bush later acknowledged that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Soon a new excuse was proffered: US-ally-turned-Scary Global Menace, Saddam Hussein, supposedly had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Fear peddling administration officials repeatedly warned that we must not let the “smoking gun be a mushroom cloud,” but the Downing Street Memo proved to be the real smoking gun, later revealing they knew all along the WMDs threat was a blatant lie.  The final pretext was “spreading freedom and democracy” at gunpoint, and the US-led invasion of the already war-torn and beleaguered nation of Iraq began March, 2003.

America was dragged into war under false pretenses, yet it seems no one has been held accountable. While President Obama at least acknowledged the war in Iraq was “the wrong one,” he also claimed the war in Afghanistan was “the right one.” But was it?

Shock, anger, and the thirst for vengeance certainly played a role in the decision to go to war with Afghanistan in 2001, and the Afghan people have paid a heavy price. Yet in 2010, nearly a decade after the invasion, a report revealed that 92% of Afghans were unaware of the 9/11 attacks. The finding was confirmed last fall when Afghans were asked what they thought of the war and they simply said: “Why are you here?”

A growing number of Americans seem to be asking themselves the same question–even as the usual suspects gin up yet another senseless war, this time with Iran.

Now We All Agree the Afghan War Was Not Worth Fighting

by Hamilton Nolan, Gawker

For the first time since we invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, a majority of Republicans say that the war was not worth fighting. Even the superpatriots, the military do-or-die-ers, the America Firsters, the my-country-right-or-wrong crowd, have come to the conclusion that this war should never have happened. They’re right.

At this point, more than a decade on from the events that inspired us to invade Afghanistan in the first place, the burning sense of rage and desire for retribution and need to just do something have all faded away. We are more clear-eyed now. For almost every American that died in the Twin Towers, another American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. Fifteen thousand more have been wounded. And tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded in the fighting as well.

And was it worth it? No. It was not worth it. It was clearly not worth it. No rational person could say it was worth it. September 11 was a horrible tragedy. Our response to it, starting with a decade-long war in a nation that Americans neither know nor care about, was a tragedy as well. We have poured our blood and treasure into a desolate, poverty-stricken and already war-torn country halfway across the world—not to improve it, but to further destroy it. For this, we have gained nothing that we could not have gained with a much more limited and rational response.

You don’t send in the U.S. Army to invade an entire nation to find one man. You don’t send in the U.S. Army to invade an entire nation to deal with one numerically small terrorist group, for the same reason that you don’t use an M1 Abrams tank to tackle your household mouse infestation. You don’t cause tens of thousands of violent deaths to poor civilians to prove some vague notion of national toughness on a world stage. It is insane. The urge to lash out in a muscular fashion after 9/11 is perfectly understandable. But it is not rational, or ethical, or even, it is now clear, to our own national benefit. Such impulses are the reason that we need strong leaders. To prevent us from doing things like invading Afghanistan.

In the end, it turns out, America’s entire post-9/11 response was exactly wrong. The much-derided idea of treating the terrorist attacks as a crime would have been the rational thing to do. Doing our best to launch a world war was not to our benefit. It was not to the benefit of geopolitical stability. It was not to the benefit of the kids who entered the military, full of patriotism and love for their country, and ended up dead halfway around the world. It was not to the benefit of Afghan civilians, people who had nothing to do with any of this, who ended up bombed, shot, maimed, driven from their homes, victims of circumstance. We can fight, if we like, another decade in Afghanistan. When we leave, Afghanistan will still belong to the people who live there, and they, not us, will determine its future. Our stated goal took far too long to accomplish. Now that it’s been accomplished, we’re still in Afghanistan. And we’ll be there for years more.

A small group of bad men attacked targets in America. For this, we invaded an entire nation. Where they weren’t. Let’s not do that again.

***********************

Rethink AfghanistanThe war in Afghanistan is increasing the likelihood that American civilians will be killed in a future terrorist attack.

Scott Atran: Good Guys Kill Better, or How to Outwit the Bad Beast of Our Nature

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Some perspective from the indefatigable Scott Atran (H/T: Saladin):

Good Guys Kill Better, or How to Outwit the Bad Beast of Our Nature

by Scott Atran (HuffingtonPost)

“Good guy” — the description of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales by neighbors that is headlining in the American media — is pretty much the way ordinary Germans saw other Germans who brutalized people in extermination camps in WW2 (See Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust). “Good guy” is how most family, friends and neighbors in the USA described John Demjanjuk, the Ukranian-born Nazi extermination camp guard who was deported to Germany for war crimes and who died Saturday, convicted of his crimes but living free in a German nursing home. And “good guy” is how family, friends and neighbors described Ander Behring Breivik, judged by his countrymen to be “mentally unfit” when he massacred dozens of young people in Norway because his government tolerated Muslim immigrants.

Imagine an Afghan who came to the USA and murdered 16 people, mostly women and children, and burned their bodies. Then the Afghan government whisked the guy away and said, “Trust us, we’ll take care of the matter,” and the Afghan press was full of reports saying that neighbors in Afghanistan liked the guy. An American president who allowed this to happen would likely be impeached. And would Americans really care if some foreign terrorist who had just shot or blown up a bunch of kids sitting at a family diner had done it because he had snapped, or was drinking, or was under stress, or for any of a dozen possible motives our press has proffered for Bales’ actions?

I’m not against factoring in such motivations in passing final judgment, but only if consistently applied. The problem is that Americans, just like most other nations and cultural groups, believe that most of what they do is motivated by a morality based on Golden Rule principles of fairness and do no harm (unless first done to you), and that heinous acts committed by one’s own kind occur because the actor has a screw loose or was suffering unbearable social or economic pressure. In fact, recent work in evolutionary psychology indicates the Golden Rule principles operate fairly in all cultures, most of the time, but not between cultures. People in other cultures are generally thought to commit terrible acts for calculated reasons, underscored by some perverse morality that can be readily discounted, so that only the consequences of their actions should be judged, whereas for one’s own group motivation is, and what ought to, mostly count.

What goes for individuals, goes for whole nations: When our country kills and shreds the flesh of others, whether flatly described in technospeak as “collateral damage” involving a few dead individual bystanders or “strategic bombing” that annihilates tens of thousands of civilians, it’s almost always for fine moral reasons and because we want to save lives in the end; but if others do similar things with similar consequences, it’s almost always because they are calculating evildoers. This asymmetric mindset has been with us since our species emerged from the caves, and is a continuing cause of much misunderstanding and distrust between groups in the organized anarchy of our ever-violent world. In this regard, America is unexceptional in its reaction to a massacre perpetuated by any of its own against others.

Now, factor this mindset into to the mundane workings of the extraordinary technocratic bureaucracy behind today’s war-making industries, which has more destructive potential than all of the world’s previous wars combined. Its managers are often the “best and the brightest,” with a lot of nice guys whose team spirit differs little from that found in an advertising firm, cabin crew or Internet company. The flat language of technology and bureaucracy, and the ordinary career trappings of promotions and perks and Christmas parties, only mask (and so make possible the psychologically impossible brutality) of this awesome killing machine.

Steve Pinker, in The Better Angels of Our Nature, documents how everyday violence between people has declined markedly since the Stone Age. But this underplays another well-documented trend (known as a “power law distribution”) that big wars (as well as large terrorist attacks) over the last couple of centuries, though increasingly infrequent, are very many times more murderous and catastrophic than those preceding. Each bigger event generates more world-shaking consequences than the last: politically, economically and socially. Lacking the will and means to consistently impose a universal moral code across all peoples (and the human evolution and history of intergroup rivalry says “Don’t hold your breath” on this score), perhaps the only way to ultimately outwit the bad beast of our nature from doing all in all of us in the Space Age is to ignore how nice or not are the guys who prepare the killing, or how good or not may be the guys who do it, and focus mainly on treating the consequences of killing.

Karen Armstrong: Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamophobia: We need to accept the ‘other’

A decade after 9/11, the West seems more bitterly divided from the Muslim world than ever. In Afghanistan, there’s been a violent explosion of anti-Western sentiment after last month’s Koran burning at a U.S. base and the slaughter of 17 Afghan civilians by an American soldier two weeks ago. But this hatred is not confined to distant parts of the globe. We’re witnessing a surge of virulent Islamophobia in Europe, especially in the Netherlands and some parts of Scandinavia. And sadly, this seems to have crossed the Atlantic.

In 2002, a survey of Canadian Muslims by the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations found that 56 per cent of respondents had experienced at least one anti-Muslim incident in the 12-month period since 9/11. Mosques or mosque construction sites in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver have been targeted by vandals. In January, anti-Islamic graffiti were spray-painted on the walls of the Outaouais Islamic Centre in Gatineau, Que. – the third such attack in four months.

These hate crimes are committed by a small minority, of course. But unfortunately, on both sides of the divide, extremists set the agenda. The news media, for example, inform us of terrorist attacks but don’t give much coverage to those Muslim leaders who regularly condemn them. Between 2001 and 2007, Gallup conducted a massive survey representing the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslim population. When asked if the 9/11 attacks were justified, 93 per cent of respondents said they weren’t – basing their arguments on religious grounds. This finding wasn’t widely reported and could, therefore, make no impression on the widespread view that Islam is an inherently violent faith.

This belief is deeply engrained. It dates back to the Crusades, when Western Christians were fighting holy wars against Muslims in Syria and Palestine; their brutal ferocity stunned the people of the Near East. Even though Islam had a far better record of tolerance than Christianity at this time, European scholar-monks depicted Islam as a fanatical religion of the sword that was violently opposed to other faiths. They were, perhaps, projecting buried anxiety about their own behaviour onto their victims – Jesus, after all, had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them.

As Europeans fought their way out of the Dark Ages, Islam, a great world power that dwarfed Christendom for centuries, became their shadow self, arousing in them the same kind of complicated resentment as the United States inspires in some regions today – an image of everything that they were not (or feared obscurely that they might be). This distorted image of Islam became one of the received ideas of the West.

During the 12th century, anti-Semitism also became a chronic disease in Europe. It seemed absurd to the Crusaders to travel to the Middle East to liberate Christ’s tomb when the people who had killed Jesus – or so the Crusaders mistakenly believed – were alive and well on their very doorsteps. Those who couldn’t go on Crusade would often do their bit by attacking Jewish communities at home. Jews were said to kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzo at Passover. This image of the Jew as child-slayer, representing an almost Oedipal fear of the parent faith, persisted well into the modern period and regularly inspired pogroms in Europe. Without a thousand years of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, the Holocaust would have been impossible.

We now know what can happen when unexamined prejudice is allowed free rein. 9/11 was a terrible crime. But if it has stained the reputation of Islam, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have equally tainted the image of the West. Islamophobia is also a violation of essential Western values: tolerance, liberalism and egalitarianism. Founded on fear and ignorance, it also flies in the face of Western rationalism. We have created a global market in which, whether we like it or not, we’re interconnected as never before. If we want a peaceful, stable and sustainable world, we have to learn to live with those we instinctively regard as “other.”

Karen Armstrong, a historian of religion and founder of the Charter for Compassion, received Simon Fraser University’s Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue last week.

Anti-Muslim and Faux Liberal Sam Harris to Debate Dr. Robert Pape Soon?

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2012 by loonwatch

Sam Harris, considered one of the “four horsemen” (now perhaps the “three horsemen” after the death of Christopher Hitchens) of the cult of new age atheism may be set to debate Dr. Robert Pape, or so he claims on his website:

Almost invariably, I am urged to read the work of Robert A. Pape. Pape is the author of a very influential paper, “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism” (American Political Science Review 97, no. 3, 2003), and the book Dying to Win, in which he argues that suicide bombing is best understood as a strategic means to achieve certain well-defined nationalist goals and should not be considered a consequence of religious ideology. No one has done more to convince my fellow liberals that if we just behaved ourselves on the world stage, our problems with Islam would go away. I am happy to say that Pape has agreed to discuss these issues with me on this page in the coming weeks. Stay tuned…

I don’t believe Sam Harris belongs on the same stage or platform with Pape discussing these issues. He has no study in the field of “suicide terrorism,” he is a novice going up against an academic who has researched and critically analyzed the issue from various angles, and whose work has been the subject of intense scrutiny and peer review.

The tone and tenor in which Harris discusses his possible future encounter with Pape is revelatory in the sense that it exposes the fact that Harris’s mind is already made up. He is not interested in a real dialogue or conversation nor does he seem to be open to the possibility of changing his mind. Harris, like all dogmatists, has already arrived at his conclusion, he is entrenched in his belief that suicide terrorism is largely, if not completely a “consequence of religious ideology.” This is mostly the case because “suicide terrorism” being linked to religious ideology is vital to his claim that Islam is “uniquely” violent and should be held to a different level of scrutiny than other religions.

This recalls a prescient point Reza Aslan made in his interview with us when questioned about his encounter with Sam Harris:

There is no doubt Sam Harris is a smart guy, he has a PhD in neuro-science. You can be a smart guy and be ignorant about particular topics and issues. The problem with Sam Harris is that he tends to write about the things he is ignorant about, (laughs) I think Sam Harris should stick to writing about neuro-science, I think his last book was great. When Sam Harris writes about neuro-science, in other words his expertise, I think it’s great, I love reading his work. When he talks about religion, a topic he knows nothing about, that he’s never studied as an academic discipline, that he’s done no field research in whatsoever, and in which he frankly is unqualified to opine about, that’s the problem. I don’t write about nero-Science because I’m not a neuro-scientist.

Either way, it seems Pape has accepted Harris’s request to debate and it will be interesting to see the correspondence between the two. For Harris it may turn into a similar humiliation as the one he received when going head-to-head with Scott Atran:

******************************************

Lastly, I want to say a few words about the article in which Harris reveals he may be debating Pape. Harris titled the article, Islam and the Future of Liberalism, in it he essentially repeats many of his common, uncritical, and by now, well worn attacks on Islam and Muslims.

Like the predictable Islamophobe that he is, he illustrates his post with this image:

Orientalism 101 anyone?

Yes Sam, Afghan women in burqas is a really great way to illustrate the “threat” of  liberalism accommodating “evil Islam.” Can somebody send Harris, Edward Said‘s Covering Islam? He’s got some readin’ to do.

Harris writes,

I appear to have left many viewers with the impression that I believe we invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of rescuing its women from the Taliban. However, the points I was actually making were rather different: I think that abandoning these women to the Taliban is one of the things that make our inevitable retreat from Afghanistan ethically problematic. I also believe that wherever we can feasibly stop the abuse of women and girls, we should. An ability to do this in places like Afghanistan, and throughout the world, would be one of the benefits of having a global civil society and a genuine regime of international law.

Here is another instance of Harris posturing as an expert on an issue that he is wholly unprepared to discuss, mostly due to his lack of understanding.

Here are some facts for Sam to ponder: 1.) Afghanistan is a tribally based culture, following tribal customs and norms that are ingrained within society and which formed over thousands of years, you are not going to transform that over night, and you are definitely not going to do so with ‘smart bombs’ 2.) Who did the US replace the Taliban with? Northern Alliance war lords, many of whom are the most egregious violators TO THIS DAY of women’s rights. When they ruled before the Taliban child rape was endemic, as it has become once again today. 3.) Changing attitudes towards women can only happen from within society, unless Harris is advocating the removal of women and girls from their husbands, fathers and brothers? Oh wait, he has pondered such stupidity in the past.

Harris is not finished with the inanities, he writes,

Recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate, yet again, that ordinary Afghans grow far more incensed when a copy of the Qur’an gets defaced than when their own children are accidentally killed by our bombs—or intentionally murdered. I doubt there is a more ominous skewing of priorities to be found in this world.

Excuse me for how inarticulate I am about to become, but this must be said: Sam Harris is a S**THEAD. Harris dehumanizes Afghans, to him they are a bunch of dirty savages who cannot even properly mourn or balance their outrage. Regardless of what Harris says, yes, Afghans are very upset that they are being occupied and murdered by an invading foreign nation. The recent protests were not only in response to Qur’an burnings as Harris would have us believe, but as we noted: the murder, maiming and jailing of innocent Afghan civilians!

Harris continues the Islamophobic, anti-Muslim drivel in the rest of the article. He pushes the myth about the silent “millions” of moderate Muslims who are too “afraid” to speak out against violence in the name of their faith. He says that he finds the concept of a Jewish State “obnoxious,” but he immediately contradicts himself writing, “But if ever a state organized around a religion was justified, it is the Jewish state of Israel, given the world’s propensity for genocidal anti-Semitism.”

Profound double standards but that is something Harris has in common with the rest of his Islamophobic buddies in the anti-Muslim movement and hence comes as no surprise.

Pepe Escobar: The Horror, The Horror

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by loonwatch

Pepe Escobar tears apart US Empirical hegemony worldwide, specifically its immorality, hypocrisy and deadly consequences in Afghanistan:

The horror, the horror

“We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig… cow after cow… village after village… army after army…”  – Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now

Hong Kong – It started way before a lone killer, a US Army sergeant, married with two children, walked into villagesin Panjwayi, southwest of Kandahar city, and “allegedly” went on a shooting spree, leaving at least 16 civilians dead.

This was Afghanistan’s Haditha moment – as in Iraq; or My Lai – as in Vietnam.

It had been building up via the serial drone-with-Hellfire bombings of tribal wedding parties; the serial secret US Special Forces’ “night raids”; the serial “kill team” murders in 2010; the ritual urination onto dead Afghans by “our men in uniform”; and last but not least, the Quran burnings in Bagram. Mission … accomplished?

According to the latest Post-ABC News poll – conducted even before the Kandahar massacre – 55 per cent of Americans want the end of the Afghan war.

US President Barack Obama once again stressed that 10 years into a war that has cost at least $400bn, the “combat role” of NATO troops will end in 2014. According to Obama, Washington only wants to make sure “that al-Qaeda is not operating there, and that there is sufficient stability that it does not end up being a free-for-all”.

Al-Qaeda “is not operating there” for a long time; there are only a bunch of instructors “not there” but in the Waziristans, in the Pakistani tribal areas.

And forget about “stability”. The “Afghan security forces” that will be theoretically in charge by 2014, or even before, are doomed. Their illiteracy rate is a staggering 80 per cent. At least 25 per cent become deserters. Child rape is endemic. Over 50 per cent are permanently stoned on hashish, on steroids.

The level of mistrust between Afghans and Americans is cosmic. According to a 2011 study that became classified by the Pentagon after it was leaked to the Wall Street Journal – the American military essentially view Afghans as corrupt cowards while Afghans see the American military as coward bullies.

Get a Saigon 1975 moment now or in 2014, the facts on the ground will remain the same: Hindu Kush-rocking instability.

Toss the COIN and I win

Afghanistan was always a tragedy trespassed by farce. Think about NATO’s original 83 restrictions on the rules of engagement, which led, for example, to a rash of French soldiers killed in 2008 because France, pressed by the US, stopped paying protection money to the Taliban; or think about Berlin calling it not a war, but a “humanitarian mission”.

Internal battles – unlike Vietnam – became legend. Such as the COINdinistas – the counter-insurgency gang, supported by then Pentagon chief Bob Gates – invested in a “new mission” and a “new military leadership”, winning against Vice-President Joe Biden’s CT PLUS strategy, as in less soldiers on the ground doing counter-terrorism.

The winner, as everyone remembers, was rockstar General Stanley McChrystal, who insisted that the Biden plan would lead to “Chaosistan”, which happened to be the name of a classified CIA analysis.

Stanley McChrystal – a Pentagon spokesperson during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq – badly wanted to change the culture of NATO and the US Army in Afghanistan. He wanted to destroy the culture of shoot-first-and-blow-shit-up and go towards “protecting the civilian population”. In his own words, he stressed that “air-to-ground munitions” and “indirect fires” against Afghan homes were “only authorised under very limited and prescribed conditions”.

He prevailed – shielded by his rockstar status – only for a brief moment.

Meanwhile, even if on one side the State Department, the DEA and the FBI would be warning about nasty drug smugglers and assorted criminals, on the other side the CIA and the Pentagon, praising them for good intel, would always win.

And everything was fully justified by an array of reluctant warriors/liberal hawks in places such as the Center for a New American Security – crammed with “respectable” journalists.

Hamid Karzai won the Afghan elections by outright fraud. His half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai – then provincial council chief in Kandahar – was free to keep running his massive drug business while dismissing elections (“the people in this region don’t understand it”).

Who cared if the Afghan government in Kabul was/is in fact a crime syndicate? “Loyal” local commanders – “our bastards” – increasingly got funding and even dedicated Special Forces as personal advisors to themselves and their death squads.

McChrystal, to his credit, admitted that the Soviets in the 1980s did many things right (for instance, building roads, promoting central government, education for boys and girls alike, modernising the country).

But they also did a lot of things terribly wrong, such as carpet-bombing and killing 1.5 million Afghans. If only Pentagon planners had the presence of mind to read Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1970-89 (Profile Books), by former British ambassador Rodric Braithwaite, drawing on a wealth of Russian sources from the KGB to the Gorbachev Foundation; from the internet to a spectacular book by the late General Alexander Lyakhovsky.

You have the right to be misinformed

The Pentagon will never accept the withdrawal date of 2014: it goes full-frontal against its own Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which counts on scores of US bases in Afghanistan to monitor/control/harass strategic competitors – Russia and China.

The way out will be a ruse. The Pentagon will transfer its special operations to the CIA; they will become “spies”, not “troops on the ground”.

This will mean, essentially, an extension ad infinitum of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, which carried out the targeted killing of over 20,000 “suspected” Vietcong supporters.

And that leads us to the current CIA director, media-savvy General David Petraeus and his baby – COIN field manual FM 3-24, the Pentagon’s answer to William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell as the marriage of counter-insurgency with the war on terror. And this, even after a 2008 RAND study titled How Terrorist Groups End stressed that the only way to defeat them was through a good old law enforcement operation.

 Afghan killings strain relations with US

Petraeus couldn’t care less. After all, his “information operations” – as in all-out media manipulation, coupled with the massive distribution of the proverbial suitcase full of US dollars – had won “his” and George W Bush’s surge in Iraq.

Proud Pashtuns were a much tougher nut to crack than Sunni sheikhs in the desert. They went so low-tech – fabricating tens of thousands of IEDs with fertiliser, wood and old munitions – that they in fact froze US technology dead in its tracks, leading to endless Pentagon newspeak reports on “vast increase in IED activity”.

Since Obama’s inauguration, the Pentagon had been playing extra-dirty to extract the exact war they wanted to carry out in Afghanistan.

They got it. Petraeus went on non-stop spin mode on “progress”. Local populations were “becoming more receptive” to US troops, even as a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) – the cumulative knowledge of 17 US intelligence agencies – remained grim.

Petraeus did what he does best: he remixed the NIE. He never admitted that the war would be over by 2014.  He cranked up airstrikes, unleashed Apache and Kiowa attack helicopters, tripled the number of night raids by Special Forces, authorised a mini-Shock and Awe, totally levelling the town of Tarok Kolache in southern Afghanistan.

After yet another US massacre in February 2011 in Kunar Province, with 64 dead civilians, Petraeus even had the gall of accusing Afghans of burning their own children to make it look like collateral damage. Good for him. At the time, his relationship with Obama was even improving.

The Obama administration is, in fact, convinced that Obama’s surge, led by Petraeus and scheduled to finish by September, has left Afghanistan “stable”, at least in the region known as “regional command east”; that’s what Petraeus dubs “Afghan good enough”.

Most of the country is in fact “Talib good enough”, but who cares? As for burning babies, cynics might qualify it as a feature of American exceptionalism. One just has to remember the Amiriya Shelter in Baghdad on February 13, 1991, when no fewer than 408 children and their mothers were burned to death by the US.

I’ll never look into your eyes… again

How not to remember the inimitable Dennis Hopper as the psychedelic photojournalist in Apocalypse Now, talking about Colonel Kurtz/Marlon Brando: “He’s a poet-warrior in the classic sense…”

“Poet-warrior” McChrystal was convinced Afghanistan was not Vietnam; in Vietnam the US was fighting a “popular insurgency”, unlike Afghanistan (wrong: the many strands bundled under the moniker “Taliban” have become more popular in direct proportion to Karzai’s disaster, not to mention that in Vietnam the official Pentagon spin was that the Vietcong were never popular).

Generals, anyway, don’t go on Kurtz-style killing sprees. Petraeus was promoted to unleash Shadow War Inc at the CIA. After he was sacked following a profile in Rolling Stone magazine – how rockstar is that? – McChrystal ended up rehabilitated by the White House.

He taught at Yale, went into consulting, is making a fortune on the conference circuit – distilling wisdom about “leadership” and the Greater Middle East – and was made an unpaid adviser to military families by Obama.

McChrystal sees Afghanistan as stuck in “some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare”. Conrad’s “the horror… the horror…” is perennial. The Pentagon’s key lesson from Vietnam was how to seal off the horror, how to put it in boxes, and how to, voluptuously, embrace it.

So it’s no wonder McChrystal could not possibly see that he was starring as the remixed Colonel Kurtz – while Petraeus was a more methodical, but no less deadly Captain Willard. Unlike Vietnam, though, this time there won’t be a Coppola to win the war for Hollywood. But there will be plenty of Hollow Men left at the Pentagon.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is named Obama Does Globalistan(Nimble Books, 2009).

Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide?

March 10, 1906 Meets March 11, 2012: Infamous Days in US Army Massacres

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2012 by loonwatch

philippines-massacre-morro-bud-dajo-crater-massacre-1906

Moro Crater Massacre Victims

History has a horrifically persistent way of repeating itself, almost 106 years ago to the date US soldiers massacred more than 600 mostly unarmed Muslim Moro villagers in the Phillipines. Today we hear news of the bloody massacre carried out by an Army Staff Sergeant in Afghanistan, killing 16 civilians, mostly women and children as they slept in their homes.

I provide a Wiki article below about the Moro Massacre, it might not be the best citation but the article below is accurate:

Moro Crater massacre

(Wikipilipinas)

The Moro Crater massacre is a name given to the final phase of the First Battle of Bud Dajo, a military engagement of the Philippine-American War which took place March 10, 1906], on the isle of Jolo in the southern Philippines. Forces of the U.S. Army under the command of Major General Leonard Wood, a naval detachment comprising 540 soldiers, along with a detachment of native constabulary, armed with artillery and small firearms, attacked a village hidden in the crater of the dormant volcano Bud Dajo. No American soldiers were killed, though sixteen were wounded; more than 600 mostly unarmedMuslim Moro villagers were killed, but none wounded.

Mark Twain’s indignation

The Filipinos were not yet defeated on July 4 1902, when Theodore_Roosevelt|President Roosevelt declared that the war was over. The Muslim Filipinos, or Muslim Filipino|Moros, in the Southern Philippines were as tenacious in opposing U.S. colonization, as they were in resisting Spanish rule during the preceding three centuries. But those whose slaughter is described below were not a military group.

Mark Twain must have felt strongly compelled to comment on the massacre. It provided another opportunity to condemn the brutality of the U.S troops, and Leonard Wood, already the subject of his scorn, was the commanding officer involved. In all of his writings about Wood, Mark Twain emphasized the irony that he was a medical Physician|doctor whose profession, as a soldier, was to kill people. This theme was developed here with references to the “doctor” who led the massacre, the “heroes” who performed it, and the “savages” who suffered it. The savagery was performed by the “heroes,” not the sympathetically-presented Moros, whose slaughtered children represented “our perfectest symbol of innocence and helplessness.”

The Anti-Imperialist League quickly published two leaflets about the massacre. A photograph [1] of the carnage that it distributed to the press in 1907 was later described as “the most hideous Philippine Picture . . . published in the United States during the subjugation of the islands.”

Mark Twain, however, thought that his own comments were too controversial to publish. They are from his autobiography, which was planned for publication after his death, so he could discuss his contemporaries without restraint. Later in 1906, while choosing sections of the autobiography for publication in the North American Review, he marked these dictations as “not usable yet”.

 Part 1: Monday, March 12, 1906

This incident burst upon the world last Friday in an official cablegram from the commander of our forces in the Philippines to our Government at Washington. The substance of it was as follows: A tribe of Moros, dark-skinned savages, had fortified themselves in the bowl of an extinct crater not many miles from Jolo; and as they were hostiles, and bitter against us because we have been trying for eight years to take their liberties away from them, their presence in that position was a menace. Our commander, Gen. Leonard Wood, ordered a reconnaissance. It was found that the Moros numbered six hundred, counting women and children; that their crater bowl was in the summit of a peak or mountain twenty-two hundred feet above sea level, and very difficult of access for Christian troops and artillery. Then General Wood ordered a surprise, and went along himself to see the order carried out. Our troops climbed the heights by devious and difficult trails, and even took some artillery with them. The kind of artillery is not specified, but in one place it was hoisted up a sharp acclivity by tackle a distance of some three hundred feet. Arrived at the rim of the crater, the battle began. Our soldiers numbered five hundred and forty. They were assisted by auxiliaries consisting of a detachment of native constabulary in our pay — their numbers not given — and by a naval detachment, whose numbers are not stated. But apparently the contending parties were about equal as to number — six hundred men on our side, on the edge of the bowl; six hundred men, women and children in the bottom of the bowl. Depth of the bowl, 50 feet.

Gen. Wood’s order was, “Kill or capture the six hundred.”

The battle began-it is officially called by that name-our forces firing down into the crater with their artillery and their deadly small arms of precision; the savages furiously returning the fire, probably with brickbats-though this is merely a surmise of mine, as the weapons used by the savages are not nominated in the cablegram. Heretofore the Moros have used knives and clubs mainly; also ineffectual trade-muskets when they had any. [page 172]

The official report stated that the battle was fought with prodigious energy on both sides during a day and a half, and that it ended with a complete victory for the American arms. The completeness of the victory for the American arms. The completeness of the victory is established by this fact: that of the six hundred Moros not one was left alive. The brilliancy of the victory is established by this other fact, to wit: that of our six hundred heroes only fifteen lost their lives.

General Wood was present and looking on. His order had been. “Kill or capture those savages.” Apparently our little army considered that the “or” left them authorized to kill or capture according to taste, and that their taste had remained what it has been for eight years, in our army out there – the taste of Christian butchers.

The official report quite properly extolled and magnified the “heroism” and “gallantry” of our troops; lamented the loss of the fifteen who perished, and elaborated the wounds of thirty-two of our men who suffered injury, and even minutely and faithfully described the nature of the wounds, in the interest of future historians of the United States. It mentioned that a private had one of his elbows scraped by a missile, and the private’s name was mentioned. Another private had the end of his nose scraped by a missile. His name was also mentioned – by cable, at one dollar and fifty cents a word.

Next day’s news confirmed the previous day’s report and named our fifteen killed and thirty-two wounded again, and once more described the wounds and gilded them with the right adjectives.

Let us now consider two or three details of our military history. In one of the great battles of the Civil War ten per cent. Of the forces engaged on the two sides were killed and wounded. At Waterloo, where four hundred thousand men were present on the two sides, fifty thousand fell, killed and wounded, in five hours, leaving three hundred and fifty thousand sound and all right for further adventures. Eight years ago, when the pathetic comedy called the Cuban War was played, we summoned two hundred and fifty thousand men. We fought a number of showy battles, and when the war was over we had lost two hundred and sixty-eight men out of our two hundred and fifty thousand, in killed and wounded in the field, and just fourteen times as many by the gallantry of the army doctors in the hospitals and camps. We did not exterminate the Spaniards — far from it. In each engagement we left an average of two per cent. of the enemy killed or crippled on the field.

Contrast these things with the great statistics which have arrived from [page 172] that Moro crater! There, with six hundred engaged on each side, we lost fifteen men killed outright, and we had thirty-two wounded-counting that nose and that elbow. The enemy numbered six hundred — including women and children — and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States.

Now then, how has it been received? The splendid news appeared with splendid display-heads in every newspaper in this city of four million and thirteen thousand inhabitants, on Friday morning. But there was not a single reference to it in the editorial columns of any one of those newspapers. The news appeared again in all the evening papers of Friday, and again those papers were editorially silent upon our vast achievement. Next day’s additional statistics and particulars appeared in all the morning papers, and still without a line of editorial rejoicing or a mention of the matter in any way. These additions appeared in the evening papers of that same day (Saturday) and again without a word of comment. In the columns devoted to correspondence, in the morning and evening papers of Friday and Saturday, nobody said a word about the “battle.” Ordinarily those columns are teeming with the passions of the citizen; he lets no incident go by, whether it be large or small, without pouring out his praise or blame, his joy or his indignation about the matter in the correspondence column. But, as I have said, during those two days he was as silent as the editors themselves. So far as I can find out, there was only one person among our eighty millions who allowed himself the privilege of a public remark on this great occasion — that was the President of the United States. All day Friday he was as studiously silent as the rest. But on Saturday he recognized that his duty required him to say something, and he took his pen and performed that duty. If I know President Roosevelt — and I am sure I do — this utterance cost him more pain and shame than any other that ever issued from his pen or his mouth. I am far from blaming him. If I had been in his place my official duty would have compelled me to say what he said. It was a convention, an old tradition, and he had to be loyal to it. There was no help for it. This is what he said:

Washington, March 10. Wood, Manila:- I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the [page 173] brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag. (Signed) Theodore Roosevelt.

His whole utterance is merely a convention. Not a word of what he said came out of his heart. He knew perfectly well that to pen six hundred helpless and weaponless savages in a hole like rats in a trap and massacre them in detail during a stretch of a day and a half, from a safe position on the heights above, was no brilliant feat of arms – and would not have been a brilliant feat of arms even if Christian America, represented by its salaried soldiers, had shot them down with Bibles and the Golden Rule instead of bullets. He knew perfectly well that our uniformed assassins had not upheld the honor of the American flag, but had done as they have been doing continuously for eight years in the Philippines – that is to say, they had dishonored it.

The next day, Sunday, — which was yesterday — the cable brought us additional news – still more splendid news — still more honor for the flag. The first display-head shouts this information at us in the stentorian capitals: “WOMEN SLAIN MORO SLAUGHTER.”

“Slaughter” is a good word. Certainly there is not a better one in the Unabridged Dictionary for this occasion.

The next display line says:

“With Children They Mixed in Mob in Crater, and All Died Together.”

They were mere naked savages, and yet there is a sort of pathos about it when that word children falls under your eye, for it always brings before us our perfectest symbol of innocence and helplessness; and by help of its deathless eloquence color, creed and nationality vanish away and we see only that they are children — merely children. And if they are frightened and crying and in trouble, our pity goes out to them by natural impulse. We see a picture. We see the small forms. We see the terrified faces. We see the tears. We see the small hands clinging in supplication to the mother; but we do not see those children that we are speaking about. We see in their places the little creatures whom we know and love.

The next heading blazes with American and Christian glory like to the sun in the zenith:

Death List is Now 900.”

I was never so enthusiastically proud of the flag till now! [page 174]

The next heading explains how safely our daring soldiers were located. It says:

“Impossible to Tell Sexes Apart in Fierce Battle on Top of Mount Dajo.”

The naked savages were so far away, down in the bottom of that trap, that our soldiers could not tell the breasts of a woman from the rudimentary paps of a man — so far away that they couldn’t tell a toddling little child from a black six-footer. This was by all odds the least dangerous battle that Christian soldiers of any nationality were ever engaged in.

The next heading says:

“Fighting for Four Days.”

So our men were at it four days instead of a day and a half. It was a long and happy picnic with nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory. Those savages fighting for their liberties had the four days too, but it must have been a sorrowful time for them. Every day they saw two hundred and twenty- five of their number slain, and this provided them grief and mourning for the night — and doubtless without even the relief and consolation of knowing that in the meantime they had slain four of their enemies and wounded some more on the elbow and the nose.

The closing heading says:

“Lieutenant Johnson Blown from Parapet by Exploding Artillery Gallantly Leading Charge.”

Lieutenant Johnson has pervaded the cablegrams from the first. He and his wound have sparkled around through them like the serpentine thread of fire that goes excursioning through the black crisp fabric of a fragment of burnt paper. It reminds one of Gillette’s comedy farce of a few years ago, “Too Much Johnson.” Apparently Johnson was the only wounded man on our side whose wound was worth anything as an advertisement. It has made a great deal more noise in the world than has any similarly colossal event since “Humpty Dumpty” fell off the wall and got injured. The official dispatches do not know which to admire most, Johnson’s adorable wound or the nine hundred murders. The ecstasies flowing from Army Headquarters on the other side of the globe to the White House, at a dollar and a half a word, have set fire to similar ecstasies in the President’s breast. It appears that the immortally wounded was a Rough Rider under Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt at San [page 175] Juan Hill — that extinguisher of Waterloo — when the Colonel of the regiment, the present Major General Dr. Leonard Wood, went to the rear to bring up the pills and missed the fight. The President has a warm place in his heart for anybody who was present at that bloody Collision of military solar systems, and so he lost no time in cabling to the wounded hero, “How are you?” And got a cable answer, “Fine, thanks.” This is historical. This will go down to posterity.

Johnson was wounded in the shoulder with a Slug. The slug was in a shell — for the account says the damage was caused by an exploding shell which blew Johnson off the rim. The people down in the hole had no artillery; therefore it was our artillery that blew Johnson off the rim. And so it is now a matter of historical record that the only officer of ours who acquired a wound of advertising dimensions got it at our hands, not the enemy’s. It seems more than probable that if we had placed our soldiers out of the way of our own weapons, we should have come out of the most extraordinary battle in all history without a scratch.

Part 2: Wednesday, March 14, 1906

The ominous paralysis continues. There has been a slight sprinkle — an exceedingly slight sprinkle — in the correspondence columns, of angry rebukes of the President for calling this cowardly massacre a “brilliant feat of arms,” and for praising our butchers for “holding up the honor of the flag” in that singular way; but there is hardly a ghost of a whisper about the feat of arms in the editorial columns of the papers.

I hope that this silence will continue. It is about as eloquent and as damaging and effective as the most indignant words could be, I think. When a man is sleeping in a noise, his sleep goes placidly on; but if the noise stops, the stillness wakes him. This silence has continued five days now. Surely it must be waking the drowsy nation. Surely the nation must be wondering what it means. A five-day silence following a world-astonishing event has not happened on this planet since the daily newspaper was invented.

At a luncheon party of men convened yesterday to God-speed George Harvey, who is leaving to-day for a vacation in Europe, all the talk was about the brilliant feat of arms; and no one had anything to say about it that either the President or Major General Dr. Wood, or the damaged Johnson, would regard as complimentary, or as proper comment to put into our histories. Harvey said he believed that the shock and shame of [page 176] this episode would eat down deeper and deeper into the hearts of the nation and fester there and produce results. He believed it would destroy the Republican party and President Roosevelt. I cannot believe that the prediction will come true, for the reason that prophecies which promise valuable things, desirable things, good things, worthy things, never come true. Prophecies of this kind are like wars fought in a good cause — they are so rare that they don’t count.

Day before yesterday the cable-note from the happy General Dr. Wood was still all glorious. There was still proud mention and elaboration of what was called the “desperate hand-to-hand fight.” — Doctor Wood not seeming to suspect that he was giving himself away, as the phrase goes — since if there was any very desperate hand-to-hand fighting it would necessarily happen that nine hundred hand-to-hand fighters, if really desperate, would surely be able to kill more than fifteen of our men before their last man and woman and child perished.

Very well, there was a new note in the dispatches yesterday afternoon — just a faint suggestion that Dr. Wood was getting ready to lower his tone and begin to apologize and explain. He announces that he assumes full responsibility for the fight. It indicates that he is aware that there is a lurking disposition here amidst all this silence to blame somebody. He says there was “no wanton destruction of women and children in the fight, though many of them were killed by force of necessity because the Moros used them as shields in the hand-to-hand fighting.”

This explanation is better than none; indeed it is considerably better than none. Yet if there was so much hand-to-hand fighting there must have arrived a time, toward the end of the four days’ butchery, when only one native was left alive. We had six hundred men present; we had lost only fifteen; why did the six hundred kill that remaining man — or woman, or child?

Dr. Wood will find that explaining things is not in his line. He will find that where a man has the proper spirit in him and the proper force at his command, it is easier to massacre nine hundred unarmed animals than it is to explain why he made it so remorselessly complete. Next he furnishes us this sudden burst of unconscious humor, which shows that he ought to edit his reports before he cables them:

“Many of the Moros feigned death and butchered the American hospital men who were relieving the wounded.”

We have the curious spectacle of hospital men going around trying to [page 177] relieve the wounded savages — for what reason? The savages were all massacred. The plain intention was to massacre them all and leave none alive. Then where was the use in furnishing mere temporary relief to a person who was presently to be exterminated? The dispatches call this battue a “battle.” In what way was it a battle? It has no resemblance to a battle. In a battle there are always as many as five wounded men to one killed outright. When this so-called battle was over, there were certainly not fewer than two hundred wounded savages lying on the field. What became of them? Since not one savage was left alive!

The inference seems plain. We cleaned up our four days’ work and made it complete by butchering those helpless people.

The President’s joy over the splendid achievement of his fragrant pet, General Wood, brings to mind an earlier presidential ecstasy. When the news came, in 1901, that Colonel Funston had penetrated to the refuge of the patriot, Aguinaldo, in the mountains, and had captured him by the use of these arts, to wit: by forgery, by lies, by disguising his military marauders in the uniform of the enemy, by pretending to be friends of Aguinaldo’s and by disarming suspicion by cordially shaking hands with Aguinaldo’s officers and in that moment shooting them down — when the cablegram announcing this “brilliant feat of arms” reached the White House, the newspapers said that that meekest and mildest and gentlest and least masculine of men, President McKinley, could not control his joy and gratitude, but was obliged to express it in motions resembling a dance. Also President McKinley expressed his admiration in another way. He instantly shot that militia Colonel aloft over the heads of a hundred clean and honorable veteran officers of the army and made him a Brigadier General in the regular service, and clothed him in the honorable uniform of that rank, thus disgracing the uniform, the flag, the nation, and himself.

Wood was an army surgeon, during several years, out West among the Indian hostiles. Roosevelt got acquainted with him and fell in love with him. When Roosevelt was offered the colonelcy of a regiment in the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish war, he took the place of Lieutenant Colonel and used his influence to get the higher place for Wood. After the war Wood became our Governor General in Cuba and proceeded to make a mephitic record for himself. Under President Roosevelt, this doctor has been pushed and crowded along higher and higher in the military service — always over the heads of a number of better men — [page 178] and at last when Roosevelt wanted to make him a Major General in the regular army (with only five other Major Generals between him and the supreme command) and knew, or believed, that the Senate would not confirm Wood’s nomination to that great place, he accomplished Wood’s appointment by a very unworthy device. He could appoint Wood himself, and make the appointment good, between sessions of Congress. There was no such opportunity, but he invented one. A special session was closing at noon. When the gavel fell extinguishing the special session, a regular session began instantly. Roosevelt claimed that there was an interval there determinable as the twentieth of a second by a stop-watch, and that during that interval no Congress was in session. By this subterfuge he foisted this discredited doctor upon the army and the nation, and the Senate hadn’t spirit enough to repudiate it.

Greater Islamophobia Alert: US Soldier Goes on Rampage, Murders 16 Afghan Civilians

Posted in Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on March 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Why_do_they_hate_us_Muslims

We are told that in Afghanistan they only get upset when the occupying forces “burn Korans.” The protests, we are told, have nothing to do with the bombing and murdering of innocent civilians, you know the Greater Islamophobia.

Now we have one more instance of a soldier liquidating the lives of innocent Muslim civilians in a clearly premeditated fashion. How much do you want to bet he gets off scott free or with a suspended sentence like the last guy?

Afghans killed in rampage by US soldier

(AlJazeera English)

Sixteen Afghan civilains including three women and nine children have been shot dead in their homes by a rogue US soldier in a pre-dawn rampage.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the slaughter on Sunday as “unforgivable” and furiously demanded an explanation from Washington.

“When Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action,” Karzai said in statement.

Senior US officials were scrambling to determine what caused the soldier to go on a shooting spree after leaving his base in southern Afghanistan, apparently heavily-armed and carrying night-vision equipment.

Officials confirmed that the soldier was being detained in Kandahar and that the military was treating at least five wounded.

One US official said the soldier, an Army staff sergeant, was believed to have acted alone and that initial reports indicated he returned to the base after the shooting and turned himself in.

Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, issued a statement pledging a “rapid and thorough investigation” into the shooting spree, and said the soldier will remain in US custody.

The US embassy in Kabul sent out an alert to its citizens in Afghanistan warning that as a result of the shooting “there is a risk of anti-American feelings and protests in coming days”.

An AFP news agency reporter at the scene of the killings counted the bodies of 16 people. In one house, an elderly woman screamed: “May God kill the only son of Karzai, so he feels what we feel.”

The shootings come at a particularly sensitive and critical time for the US, just as violence over the burning of Muslim holy books at a US base was starting to calm down. At least 41 people were killed in the violence.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Herat, said the soldier entered three houses near the base and opened fire on civilians.

“We are now being told by the police sources that the US soldier left his base at three o clock this morning. It would have been pitch-black wherever he walked,” he said.

“The soldier went through three separate houses, shooting at people as they slept in their beds. After the soldier shot these people, he turned himself in.”

“It is frankly disastrous. It is not just a disaster for the people who were murdered and killed in their houses, it is disaster for the country I suspect,” our correspondent said.

Najeeb Azizi, a Kabul-based Afghan analyst, said the shooting will have deep repercussions on the already tenuous relations with the US.

“It is a very tragic incident in particular because the Afghan and US governments are trying to sign a strategic agreement for a long term,” he said.

“A very bad message the Afghan people are getting – that if US military remains in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and their attitude and behaviour remains the same – of killing innocent civilians- what will be the consequences, and how will the Afghan people respond to it.”

America’s Islamic Blind Spots: “You can do anything to these people”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , on March 3, 2012 by loonwatch
Bagram
Soldiers at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Dozens of people have been killed in the violence that erupted after American personnel burned Qur’ans on a US air base in Afghanistan.

Activist and author Naomi Wolf provides another perspective, with a focus on the historical and cultural significance of burning a conquered people’s sacred texts.

America’s Islamic Blind Spots

by , The Project Syndicate

NEW YORK – In the wake of the Koran-burning by troops at the United States’ Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, protests continue to escalate, and the death toll mounts. In the process, three US blind spots have become obvious.

One is that of the US media, whose coverage simply underscores – and amplifies – the stunning cluelessness that triggered the protests in the first place. Professional journalists are obliged to answer five questions: who, what, where, why, and how. But, reading reports from The Associated PressThe New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others, I searched exhaustively before I could form any picture of what had actually been done to the Korans in question. Not only did accounts conflict; none offered a clear notion of who had allegedly done what, let alone why or how.

 Naomi WolfNaomi Wolf

Were Korans burned, as one US report had it, under the oversight of US military officials? Or were they brought by soldiers for incineration, as another version maintained, as part of a haul of “extremist literature” and prisoners’ personal communications, with Afghan workers alerting others at the base to the nature of the material?

These murky accounts – with no clear subjects or actions (The New York Times, incredibly, managed not to describe the burning at all) – reflect what happens when major news outlets appear simply to take dictation from the Pentagon.

The second US blind spot is the politicization of this terrible affront. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has called Obama’s apology a “surrender,” while another Republican contender, Rick Santorum, is offended that anyone is suggesting that the US should bear any “blame.”

This absence of perspective reveals the cultural ignorance that has turned recent US foreign interventions into political catastrophes. I, too, come from an Abrahamic religion, Judaism, which shares strong roots with Islam. In both faiths, sacred texts are treated as if they are, in a sense, living beings. Jews, too, give them “burials’ when they are too old to use, and treat them ritualistically while they are “alive,” using silver pointers to avoid profaning them with human hands, dressing them in velvet jackets, and kissing them when they fall to the ground.

Burning a conquered people’s sacred texts sends an unmistakable message: you can do anything to these people. As Heinrich Heine put it, referring to the Spanish Inquisition‘s burning of the Koran, “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” Jews understand that very well: from the Inquisition to Cossack massacres to Kristallnacht, the aggressors destroyed Torahs as a logical and well-understood precursor to destroying Jews.

The third blind spot is almost too painful to bear having to address – which, on a charitable interpretation, might explain why not one mainstream US media report has done so: the burnings were not carried out on some street in Kabul, but at Bagram. That is, Korans were burned at a US facility that meets the dictionary definition of a concentration camp.

In 2009, Spiegel Online ran a portrait gallery about Bagram titled “America’s Torture Chamber.” In “The Forgotten Guantánamo,” it reported that 600 people were being held at Bagram without charge. All were termed “unlawful enemy combatants,” allowing the US to claim that they have no right to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. A military prosecutor said that, compared to Bagram, Guantánamo Bay was “a nice hotel.”

Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, invariably described in the US as “the self-proclaimed chief architect of 9/11,” told the Red Cross that at Bagram he had been suspended by shackles and sexually assaulted: “I was made to lie on the floor. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside.” Another prisoner, Raymond Azar, testified that ten FBI agents had abducted him, shown him photos of his family, and told him that if he didn’t “cooperate,” he would never see them again.

The BBC collated testimony in 2010 from nine prisoners confirming that human-rights abuses continued at Bagram. The prisoners independently described “a secret prison” inside the prison, called “the black hole.” Prisoners were still being subjected at the time to freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation, and “other abuses.” One testified that a US soldier had used a rifle to knock out a row of his teeth, and that he was forced to dance to music whenever he needed to use the bathroom.

Another investigation confirmed similar allegations in 2010, and last month the BBC reported that Bagram’s prison population had reached 3,000, while an Afghan-led investigation found still more allegations of ongoing torture, including freezing temperatures and sexual humiliations.

Of course, since the US military can detain anyone in Afghanistan, and hold him or her without charge in these conditions forever, the entire country lives under the shadow of torture at Bagram. The Koran burnings are a potent symbol of that systemic threat.

So, while Obama should continue to apologize for the Koran burnings, we must understand that Afghans’ rage is a response to an even deeper, rawer wound. Obama should also apologize for kidnapping Afghans; for holding them at Bagram without due process of law; for forcing them into cages, each reportedly holding up to 30 prisoners; for denying them Red Cross/Red Crescent visits; for illegally confiscating family letters; for torturing and sexually abusing them; and for casting a pall of fear over the country.

The Koran forbids that kind of injustice and cruelty. So does the Bible.

Naomi Wolf is a political activist and social critic whose most recent book is Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.

Qur’an Burning: The causes of the protests in Afghanistan

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch
Afghan ProtestersAfghans carry a protester injured during an anti-U.S. demonstration in the northern city of Kunduz. (Ezatullah Pamir, Associated Press)

More than 30 people have been killed in the violence that erupted after American personnel burned Qur’ans on a US air base in Afghanistan.

In the wake of the protests, many are asking, “Why are Afghan Muslims so angry over burning the Qur’an?

After all, it’s just a book! Why would Muslims get violent over it!?! 

Glenn Greenwald explains why misleading media coverage leaves the public with a false impression.

The causes of the protests in Afghanistan

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

(H/T: Saladdin)

Most American media accounts and commentary about the ongoing violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan depict their principal cause as anger over the burning of Korans (it’s just a book: why would people get violent over it?) — except that Afghans themselves keep saying things like this:

Protesters in Kabul interviewed on the road and in front of Parliament said that this was not the first time that Americans had violated Afghan cultural and religious traditions and that an apology was not enough.

This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about disrespecting our dead and killing our children,” said Maruf Hotak, 60, a man who joined the crowd on the outskirts of Kabul, referring to an episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young Afghans.

“They always admit their mistakes,” he said. “They burn our Koran and then they apologize. You can’t just disrespect our holy book and kill our innocent children and make a small apology.”

And:

Members of Parliament called on Afghans to take up arms against the American military, and Western officials said they feared that conservative mullahs might incite more violence at the weekly Friday Prayer, when a large number of people worship at mosques.

Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation,” said Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a member of Parliament from the Ghorband district in Parwan Province, where at least four demonstrators were killed in confrontations with the police on Wednesday.

The U.S. has violently occupied their country for more than a decade. It has, as Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself explained, killed what he called an “amazing number” of innocent Afghans in checkpoint shootings. It has repeatedly — as in, over and over — killed young Afghan children in air strikes. It continues to imprison their citizens for years at Bagram and other American bases without charges of any kind and with credible reports of torture and other serious abuses. Soldiers deliberately shot Afghan civilians for fun and urinated on their corpses and displayed them as trophies.

Meanwhile, the protesters themselves continue to be shot, although most American media accounts favor sentences like these which whitewash who is doing the killing: “running clashes with the police that claimed the lives of another five Afghan protesters” and “in Nangarhar Province, two Afghans protesting the Koran burning were shot to deathoutside an American base in Khogyani District” and “protesters angry over the burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan this week took to the streets in demonstrations in a half-dozen provinces on Wednesday that left at least seven dead and many more injured.”Left at least seven dead: as As’ad AbuKhalil observed, “notice that there is no killer in the phrasing.”

It’s comforting to believe that these violent protests and the obviously intense anti-American rage driving them is primarily about anger over the inadvertent burning of some religious books: that way, we can dismiss the rage as primitive and irrational and see the American targets as victims. But the Afghans themselves are making clear that this latest episode is but the trigger for — the latest symbol of — a pile of long-standing, underlying grievances about a decade-old, extremely violent foreign military presence in their country. It’s much more difficult to dismiss those grievances as the by-product of primitive religious fanaticism, so — as usual — they just get ignored.

UPDATE: Beyond all these points, it’s perversely fascinating to watch all of this condescension — it’s just a book: who cares if it’s burned?  – pouring forth from a country whose political leaders were eager to enact a federal law or even a Constutional amendment to make it a criminal offense to burn the American flag (which, using this parlance, is “just a piece of cloth”). In fact, before the Supreme Court struck down such statutes as unconstitutional in 1989 by a 5-4 vote, it was a crime in 48 states in the nation to burn the flag. Here is what Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in dissent about why the Constitution permits the criminalization of flag burning (emphasis added):

The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another “idea” or “point of view” competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence, regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have.

Might one say the same for Muslims and the Koran? Along those lines, just imagine what would happen if a Muslim army invaded the U.S., violently occupied the country for more than a decade, in the process continuously killing American children and innocent adults, and then, outside of a prison camp it maintained where thousands of Americans were detained for years without charges and tortured, that Muslim army burned American flags — or a stack of bibles — in a garbage dump. Might we see some extremely angry protests breaking out from Americans against them? Would American pundits be denouncing those protesters as blinkered, primitive fanatics?

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by loonwatch
Newsweek
February 12 Cover

Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue of Newsweek is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims. Despite her agenda-driven fear mongering, Hirsi has sparked an important debate about the plight of religious minorities caught in the crossfire as the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” continues to escalate.

We previously cross-posted an article from Jadaliyya refuting Hirsi’s account, and now offer another perspective from John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University.

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

by John L. Esposito, Huffington Post

Religious minorities in the Muslim world today, constitutionally entitled in many countries to equality of citizenship and religious freedom, increasingly fear the erosion of those rights — and with good reason. Inter-religious and inter-communal tensions and conflicts from Nigeria and Egypt and Sudan, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia have raised major concerns about deteriorating rights and security for religious minorities in Muslim countries. Conflicts have varied, from acts of discrimination, to forms of violence escalating to murder, and the destruction of villages, churches and mosques.

In the 21st century, Muslims are strongly challenged to move beyond older notions of “tolerance” or “co-existence” to a higher level of religious pluralism based on mutual understanding and respect. Regrettably, a significant number of Muslims, like many ultra conservative and fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Hindus are not pluralistic but rather strongly exclusivist in their attitudes toward other faiths and even co-believers with whom they disagree.

Reform will not, however, result from exaggerated claims and alarmist and incendiary language such as that of Ayan Hirsi Ali in in a recent a Newsweek cover story, reprinted in The Daily Beast.

Hirsi Ali warns of a “global war” and “rising genocide,” “a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” and thus “the fate of Christianity — and ultimately of all religious minorities — in the Islamic world is at stake.”

Hirsi Ali’s account, for surely it is not an analysis, mixes facts with fiction, distorting the nature and magnitude of the problem. It fails to distinguish between the acts of a dangerous and deadly minority of religious extremists or fanatics and mainstream society. The relevant data is readily available. Nigeria is not a “majority-Muslim” country of 160 million people with a 40 percent Christian minority” as she claims (and as do militant Islamists). Experts have long described the population as roughly equal and a recent Pew Forum study reports that Christians hold a slight majority with 50.8 percent of the population.

Boko Haram, is indeed a group of religious fanatics who have terrorized and slaughtered Christians and burned down their churches, but they remain an extremist minority and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who reject their actions and anti-Western rhetoric. Gallup data finds that a majority of Nigerians (60 percent) “reject the anti-Western rhetoric” of Boko Haram.

Curiously, Hirsi Ali chooses not to mention that in the Jos Central plateau area both Christian and Muslim militias have attacked each other and destroyed mosques and churches.

Another example of failing to provide the full facts and context is the Maspero massacre. Coptic Christians have a real set of grievances that have to be addressed: attacks on churches, resulting in church destruction and death and injuries, the failure of police to respond to attacks, and a history of discrimination when it comes to building new churches and in employment.

Hirsi Ali rightly attributes the genesis for the assault against Christians to the Egyptian security forces. Although some militant Egyptian Muslims did in fact join the violence against Christians, she overlooks the fact that increasingly Christians have been joined by many Muslim Egyptians in calling for this discrimination and backlash to be addressed. Thus, she fails to mention the many Muslims marched in solidarity with the Christians against the security forces and were also injured as a Reuters article dated Oct. 14, 2011 reported: “At least 2,000 people rallied in Cairo on Friday in a show of unity between Muslims and Christians and to express anger at the ruling military council after 25 people died when a protest by Coptic Christians led to clashes with the army.”

She also fails to recognize the continuing state violence in Egypt against activists and protestors regardless of their faith.

Thousands of Muslims turned up in droves outside churches around the country for the Coptic Christmas Eve mass, in solidarity with a beleaguered Coptic community offering their bodies, and lives, as “human shields,” making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and build an Egypt free from sectarian strife: “Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields.”

Ali also points to the “flight” of Christians from the Middle East as proof of widespread persecution. According to Gallup surveys in Lebanon, however, Muslims are slightly more likely than their Christian counterparts to want to flee the country permanently and for Muslim and Christian alike the reason they give is primarily economic.

More problematic and deceptive is Hirsi Ali’s charge that: “What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities. This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003.” Sudan has certainly been a battleground for decades, but to say that Darfur is an example of the Muslim-Christian genocide is flat out wrong. The black African victims in Darfur were almost exclusively Muslim. The killers were Arab Sudanese Muslims (janjaweed) who murdered black Sudanese Muslims.

Addressing the issue of religious freedom requires greater global awareness and a concerted effort by governments, religious leaders, academics and human rights organizations, as well as curricula reform in many seminary and university religion courses (particularly comparative religion courses), to counter religious exclusivism by instilling more pluralistic and tolerant visions and values in the next generation of imams, priests, scholars and the general public. However, when lives are at stake and the safety and security of all citizens threatened, accurate and data driven analysis is crucial. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated generalizations exacerbate the problem, risk more strife or even violence and do little to contribute to finding a solution.

Afghanistan: Seven Children and One 18 Year Old Murdered by French Troops

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by loonwatch

These 8 civilians were herding sheep until their life ended by a misled report that they were armed and ready to attack the government.

Informer Misled NATO in Airstrike That Killed 8 Civilians, Afghans Say

By  and JAWAD SUKHANYAR

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan government officials who traveled to the snowbound village where seven children and a young adult reportedly were killed in a NATO airstrike this week said that the bombing was based on incorrect information.

The officials said that after talking to local residents and seeing the area, they concluded that an informer had misled the French troops who control the area.

The airstrike took place on Wednesday in the village of Geyaba in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa. Seven boys under 14 and an 18-year-old were killed in the attack, according to Abdul Mubin Safi, the administrative director of Kapisa Province. They were herding sheep less than half a mile from their homes when the bombing happened.

NATO representatives and Afghan officials traveled to the area by helicopter to investigate and returned Friday, said Maj. Jason Waggoner, a NATO spokesman. He said there was no word yet from NATO officials on the findings of the joint Afghan-NATO team.

One member of the team, Mohammad Hussain Khan Sanjani, the chairman of the provincial council who was reached by telephone in Kapisa, said that after talking with people in the village, it seemed that misinformation had been passed to NATO forces.

“These people are involved in animal husbandry, they own sheep and goats, and their children went out to feed the animals behind their village under some oak trees,” Mr. Sanjani said.

“The French troops had a secret report from one of their agents who told them that in that area there were armed men preparing to attack the government and the French soldiers in Kapisa,” he said. “We talked to locals and found that the intelligence was wrong and they targeted civilians.”

The French soldiers, who are largely responsible for Kapisa Province, have faced stiff resistance from the insurgents there and in the Sarobi district of neighboring Kabul Province. Eighty-two French soldiers have been killed in combat since 2001, mostly in those two areas.

France’s military high command did not respond to requests for comment on the airstrike in Kapisa.

The province is divided ethnically, with some areas heavily Tajik and others Pashtun. The Pashtun areas have had a strong insurgent presence that includes both Taliban fighters and fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an insurgent leader.

The Najrab district, where the airstrike occurred, is mixed with Tajiks, Pashtuns and Pashai, and while local officials said it was not held by insurgents, their presence could not be ruled out since Najrab is adjacent to less stable districts.

“The area is not influenced by the Taliban, but there was some sort of illegal weapon smuggling,” said Abdul Saboor Wafa, the Kapisa governor’s chief of staff.

Civilian casualties have caused serious tensions between the United States-led military coalition and the Afghan government. Civilian deaths caused by NATO and Afghan forces dropped last year, although the number of civilians killed by airstrikes that were intended to hit insurgents rose, to 187, the United Nations has reported.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the loss of life in Kapisa and blamed a NATO airstrike in a statement on Thursday.

Scott Sayare contributed reporting from Paris.

US Marines Pose with Nazi Symbol: To Them All Afghans are “Sand N*****s”

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2012 by loonwatch
Marines_Nazi_Flag_AfghanistanMarines pose with the “SS” flag in Afghanistan

To these Marines all Afghans are probably “Sand N*****s” and so they have no issue with posing with a Nazi symbol.

The story below highlights that many Jewish organizations and others are outraged by the photo and are demanding an investigation. My question is how are the above soldiers going to be investigated or held accountable when you have soldiers who have clearly committed war crimes and perpetrated massacres getting off for free or a slap of the wrist?

Groups outraged by Marines posing with logo resembling Nazi SS want new probe, troops punished

(Washinton Post)

SAN DIEGO — A leading Jewish organization and others outraged by a photo showing Marine snipers in Afghanistan posing with a logo resembling a notorious Nazi symbol are demanding President Barack Obama order an investigation and hold the troops accountable.The Marine Corps has said it does not plan any discipline because there was no malicious intent. The Marines mistakenly believed the “SS” in the shape of white lightning bolts on the blue flag were a nod to sniper scouts — not members of Adolf Hitler’s special unit that murdered millions of Jews, gypsies and others, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The Marines are no longer with Charlie Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, out of the base north of San Diego, and Chapin said she did not know if they had left the Corps.Military officials learned of the photograph in November and investigated immediately. It later surfaced on a blog of a military weapons company.In the September 2010 photo taken in the Sangin district of Helmand province, 10 Marines pose with sniper rifles in front of an American flag above a dark blue flag with the “SS” letters.Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he does not believe it was an innocent mistake and insisted the American public has a right to know what happened.

His organization — one of the largest international Jewish human rights groups with more than 400,000 members — is demanding Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta launch another investigation and discipline those involved.

“That 70 years after the United States Armed Forces helped liberate Europe from Nazi Germany, to learn that a unit of the United States Marine Corps serving in Afghanistan adopted the SS insignia alongside the Stars and Stripes, desecrates the memory of some 200,000 Americans who gave up their lives to defend freedom against that infamous symbol,” he said in a statement.

The Corps has used the incident as a training tool to talk to troops about what symbols are acceptable, Chapin said.

“I don’t believe that the Marines involved would have ever used any type of symbol associated with the Nazi Germany military criminal organization that committed mass atrocities in WWII,” Chapin said. “It’s not within who we are as Marines.”

Hier said it clearly shows more training about the Holocaust and the SS unit is needed.

It was the second time this year that images have surfaced showing Marines acting improperly and forcing the Corps to deal with the fallout. Last month, the Pentagon scrambled to contain the damage after an Internet video purportedly showed Marines urinating on Taliban corpses — an act that appears to violate international laws of warfare and further strains U.S.-Afghan relations. Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to offer assurances of an investigation, and the top Marine general promised an internal probe as well as a criminal one.

Those Marines, like the ones in front of the flag, fought in former Taliban strongholds in Helmand province. They are based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Michael Wagnon: Army Drops Charges Against Last Soldier in Afghan Murder Case

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2012 by loonwatch

This speaks for itself (h/t: JD):

Army drops charges against last soldier in Afghan murder case

By Laura L. Myers | Reuters

SEATTLE (Reuters) – The U.S. Army has dismissed all charges against the last of five soldiers to face a court-martial in the slaying of unarmed Afghan civilians, officials from their home base near Tacoma, Washington, said on Friday.

Army Specialist Michael Wagnon, who was released from military detention and placed under home confinement in April, had been charged with premeditated murder in the death of a villager in Afghanistan during a tour of duty in February 2010.

“As of right now, he’s pretty much a free man,” said Lieutenant Colonel Gary Dangerfield, a spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “He is still in the Army but a free man.”

The dismissal of the case against Wagnon, 31, brought to an abrupt end the Army’s prosecution of the most egregious atrocities that U.S. military personnel have been convicted of committing during a decade of war in Afghanistan.

Wagnon’s initial reaction to news of the dismissal was stunned disbelief, his defense attorney Colby Vokey told Reuters late on Friday. He then became “ecstatic” and “really relieved.”

Vokey, based in Dallas, called the dismissal “fantastic news.” He said the “Army did the right thing. We maintained all along his innocence and the government said it was the right thing to do.”

Five members of the infantry unit formerly known as the 5th Stryker Brigade were charged with killing Afghan civilians in cold blood in random attacks staged to look like legitimate combat engagements. Seven other GIs were charged with lesser offenses in a case that began as an investigation into rampant hashish abuse within the unit.

Pentagon officials have said that misconduct exposed by the case had damaged the image of the United States abroad.

Photographs entered as evidence showed the accused ringleader of the group, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, and other soldiers casually posing with bloodied Afghan corpses, drawing comparisons to the to the inflammatory Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq in 2004.

Gibbs was convicted by court-martial in November of murdering three unarmed civilians, drawing an automatic life prison sentence, but he will be eligible for parole in 8 1/2 years.

His chief accuser and onetime right-hand man, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, was sentenced in March of last year to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to the same three murders. As part of his plea deal, Morlock had agreed to testify against the remaining witnesses, including Wagnon.

A third soldier charged with murder, Adam Winfield, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison. A fourth, Andrew Holmes, was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to a single count of murder.

Wagnon was the last to face court-martial.

Dangerfield would not say why the charges were dropped, and a statement from the base said only that the move was “in the interest of justice.”

The dismissal of charges comes less than two weeks after a U.S. Marine sergeant accused of leading a 2005 massacre of 24 civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha pleaded guilty to one count of dereliction of duty. As part of his plea deal, the Marine, Frank Wuterich he was spared jail time and instead faces a maximum penalty of demotion to the rank of private.

Wuterich initially was charged with murder in connection with the Haditha killings. Six of the seven other Marines originally accused in that case previously had their charges dismissed by military judges, while another was cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

(Additional reporting and writing by Mary Slosson; Editing by Steve Gorman, Peter Bohan and Tim Gaynor)

The scandal that isn’t on the video

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by loonwatch

I was going to write an article about this topic, but then Prof. Saree Makdisi beat me to it on Salon.  Although I find U.S. Marines urinating on dead Afghans to be morally repugnant, it is not as morally repugnant as the killing of said Afghans.  The desire to distance themselves from the former is born out of the fact that it would hamper doing more of the latter.  It’s bad publicity and takes away from the very important work of killing, bombing, and occupying Afghans.

The scandal that isn’t on the video

Is it worse to desecrate a few corpses than to mass produce a lot of them?

BY SAREE MAKDISI

The United States and its allies were quick to go into damage control mode to try to contain the political and diplomatic fallout from a video posted on YouTube apparently showing US Marines urinating on the mangled corpses of dead Afghans,

A Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby, told CNN: “Regardless of the circumstances or who is in the video, this is egregious, disgusting behavior. It’s hideous. It turned my stomach.”  Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed.“This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms.”.

It ought to go without saying that urinating on  corpses, whether of Taliban fighters or Afghan civilians (or any one else for that matter), is disrespectful and degrading and ought to be condemned. What is interesting, and somewhat unsettling, about the outpouring of sentiment following this new scandal, however, is that it raises more questions than it answers.

Isn’t it odd, for example, that there seems to be more concern about urinating on these bodies than there is about the actual killing that transformed them from living human beings to splayed-out corpses in the first place? Is it really possible that peeing on dead bodies is seen as horrific, but killing people is perfectly acceptable? Isn’t something missing from this picture?

This seems an especially pressing question given that much of the US military (and related CIA) effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan so often seems to involve simply killing—or, to use the rather more circumspect military term, “degrading”—as many militants as possible, not necessarily in actual combat operations, but by twos and threes and tens and dozens, in bombings and air raids and drone attacks, as they sleep or drive or eat or pray or brush their teeth. Day after day we read reports of 8 militants being killed here, 5 being killed there , and 6 somewhere else. It is as though the earth keeps vomiting forth “militants,” who then simply need to be mown down like so much vermin in a “war” reduced to its lowest common denominator—killing for the sake of killing, without any kind of strategic aim or vision or logic, much less a sense of when it might end.

Sure, every now and then someone (very rightly) raises a question about how many civilians are being killed in air raids or drone attacks in Afghanistan or Pakistan; not that it makes any difference. There is even the occasional report about the “vast drone/killing operation” being conducted by the Obama Administration, and a few people, including Glenn Greenwald, have been warning of the menace that an unchecked, unregulated, program of extrajudicial executions means, or ought to mean, to Americans and others alike.

But, these exceptions aside, the routine, hum-drum slaughter of “militants” slips by far too readily without sufficient questioning, without enough people pausing to ask who these people are, what they want, what threat they really pose to the US with their AK-47s and RPGs, what plan, if any, there is to do something to stop their seemingly autochthonous emergence (by addressing its causes, for example) rather than merely mowing them down by the dozen after they emerge–or whether the plan really is simply to go on killing as long as there is a supply of living bodies to soak up our ordnance. After all, President Obama has deliberately chosen to kill rather than capture people because he knows that pictures like those that emerged from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are bad news—but that there will be few pictures and fewer questions about the endless slaughter of anonymous militants in the dusty backwaters of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For all the furor, the current scandal proves that point all too grimly, precisely because the scandal consists in the urination rather than the killing itself.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos called the act of urinating on the corpses “wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.” A NATO spokesman added, “This disrespectful act is inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces.”

But what does it mean to speak of a “warrior ethos” and “high moral standards” in a war when most of the killing is being done by remote control—and not in the heat, intensity and sweaty, adrenaline-driven fear of battle (which the very concept of a “warrior ethos” is supposed to describe), but rather clinically, in air-conditioned comfort, from the safe distance of 20,000 feet—or, rather, 10,000 miles?

It is all too easy to look at the young Marines urinating on the corpses in that video and condemn them (rightly) for their callous brutality. It is far more difficult, however, to put their adolescent action back in its fuller and more meaningful context and ask ourselves what it means that we hardly seem to attach more value to a human life than they do, and that we have come to accept the “reaping” of human lives—for it is not without reason that one of the biggest drones is called Reaper—as a matter to be dismissed with a careless flick of the morning newspaper or click of the mouse.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and the author of, among other books, “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.” Follow him @sareemakdisi on Twitter.

Pamela Geller “Loves” Soldiers Who Urinate on Dead Corpses

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2012 by loonwatch

US_Soldiers_Urinate_Dead_Afghans

US Soldiers Urinate on Dead Afghans

Pamela Geller “loves” the soldiers pictured above urinating on dead corpses. According to her it may be the “infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.”

Interestingly, Geller often wears a necklace with the word “LOVE” showing, which is perplexing considering that to most rational people she is a hate-mongering-attention-seeking loon blogger. I guess this answers the puzzle of her “LOVE” necklace, she “loves” when Muslims are killed, urinated on or otherwise mutilated.

How sick and sadistic can Geller get? Why doesn’t her best friend Robert Spencer condemn her for such asinine comments?

Geller couches her approval and “love” of such actions by implying that those being urinated on deserve it because…they were “jihadis” and “Taliban.” She then trumps out the Nazi analogy, saying,

Would anyone have CAIRed if Marines urinated on dead Nazi soldiers during WWII? (Anyone besides CAIR and nazis, that is)

The US Army probably would care Pam, since it is a violation of their code of conduct, and since they are now engaged in negotiations with the Taliban.

She also goes on an off topic tangent about honor killings and clitorectomies, etc. as if those issues are linked to the actions of the marines.

Here is Geller’s vile screed:

Hamas-tied CAIR, once again sides with jihadists against the US military. Always. Apparently they are a  “Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization” for jihadists and Taliban and Al-Shabaab, Hamas, Hezb’allah, et al).

CAIR has whipped itself up into an Islamic frenzy because  a video surfaced that appears to show US Marines combat gear urinating on several dead jihadis.

Here’s the thing. Hamas liars, CAIR, say jihad and pure Islam is “fringe,” “extremist.” So why do they CAIR about disrespecting the Taliban? According to CAIR lies, Taliban and jihadists do not represent Islam, they have “hijacked Islam”; so why would CAIR care about “respect”? CAIR calls these Marines immoral, but considers honor killings, clitorectomies, forced marriage, child marriage, polygamy, subjugation of women, slaughter of non-Muslims, Jew hatred moral?

Would anyone have CAIRed if Marines urinated on dead Nazi soldiers during WWII? (Anyone besides CAIR and nazis, that is).

I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.
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CAIR Condemns Alleged Desecration of Bodies by U.S. Marines

par CAIR, mercredi 11 janvier 2012, 13:48

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/11/12) –- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today condemned the alleged desecration of corpses in Afghanistan by members of the U.S. Marines.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said video on the TMZ website appears to show a number of Marines in combat gear urinating on several dead bodies. The person who reportedly distributed the video stated that it shows Marines from Camp Lejeune urinating on dead Taliban. A Marine Corps spokesperson said the incident allegedly shown in the video will be investigated.

SEE: U.S. Marines to Investigate Video of Soldiers Urinating on Corpses

http://tinyurl.com/7rkzvp4

In a letter faxed to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:

“We condemn this apparent desecration of the dead as a violation of our nation’s military regulations and of international laws of war prohibiting such disgusting and immoral actions.

“If verified as authentic, the video shows behavior that is totally unbecoming of American military personnel and that could ultimately endanger other soldiers and civilians.

“We trust that this disturbing incident will be promptly investigated in a transparent manner and that appropriate actions will be taken based on the results of that investigation. Any guilty parties must be punished to the full extent allowed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and by relevant American laws.”

Update: Geller won’t back down. She is going all the way on this. She’s mighty upset that CAIR called her out on her vileness, and so published another pro-Urinating on dead corpses hate post titled, “Hamas-CAIR Attacks US Marines, Pamela Geller and Atlas Readers in Defense of Jihadists.” She is pulling the usual hate speech out against CAIR, calling it “HAMAS in America” and so forth. I think it is time for CAIR to start suing these individuals for libel, but I guess it would just be a waste of time. Some of what she says sounds downright threatening,

Hamas in America, CAIR, want to harrass and threaten anyone who doesn’t toe their line. Don’t do it. Do not be cowed. Push back.