Archive for August, 2010

The wars go on, as we take a Vacation

August 28, 2010

Dear Readers: We’re off on Vacation, returning in early September. Is there a war or wars going on? Do you feel it in any way? Besides the job losses and the state budgets all underwater?

In the meantime, the People of Pakistan have been hit with the worse flooding ever. Can you imagine what it is like to have whole villages washed away, all livestock gone, all crops gone? Many will die due to the lack of food and drinking water. And from diseases carried by the contaminated flood waters. Send a few bucks to the Red Cross or Red Crescent if you can.

Where are they going? Imagine if this were you and your family

And the United States still uses Assassination Drones to hit targets in Pakistan. Today. Read it here.

We’re off to visit relatives and relax. We wish the People of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (Somalia, Yemen, and many other places) could go on a vacation and not have war around them. It is time to End the Wars. We are accomplishing nothing except making more “terrorists”.

60% of Americans say “End the War Now”. What are we fighting for?

August 24, 2010

What are we fighting for? What are we using our treasure and our young soldiers for? How many are suffering because we are present in Central Asia? From our friends at “Voters for Peace”, here’s two good articles from them today. read it in full, click here.

Substitute “Afghanistan” for Viet Nam, and substitute “Commies” for “Taliban”, and if we had a DRAFT, this war would be over. Country Joe and the Fish at Woodstock says it all:


Opposition to Afghanistan conflict not just a liberal issue anymore

    North Carolina Senate candidate Elaine Marshall (D) opposed the surge of troops to Afghanistan and wants American forces to withdraw from the country in an orderly fashion.

    “We’re spending billions to train a corrupt police force there, and here at home we’re laying off policemen and firefighters,” she said in a statement. “We’re hiring teachers over there, and here we’re sending teachers to the unemployment lines. If there’s a country we need to rebuild, it’s America.”

And, More:

    Liberal Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who faces a tough reelection fight, has been outspoken about a timetable for Afghanistan. He reiterated that stance Thursday.

    “Rather than send more troops to Afghanistan, where there is no military solution, the president should lay out a timetable for ending our military involvement there so we are better able to combat al Qaeda’s global network without needlessly risking American lives and spending dollars we don’t have,” he said in a statement.

Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose war in Afghanistan
by GLEN JOHNSON
Associated Press Read the full story, click here.

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

With just over 10 weeks before nationwide elections that could define the remainder of Obama’s first term, only 38 percent say they support his expanded war effort in Afghanistan – a drop from 46 percent in March. Just 19 percent expect the situation to improve during the next year, while 29 percent think it will get worse. Some 49 percent think it will remain the same.

“Pakistan, Failed State #10,”; now Noah’s Flood washes away a generation’s hope for improvement; and the war goes on

August 18, 2010

Pakistan Flood Victims on the Move

Kunwar Iris writes today in Dawn.com an analysis of why nations that could help flood victims are hesitant to do so, and he blames the corrupt government that rules Pakistan. This story is a Must Read to understand the underlying problems of “partnering” with Pakistan by the U.S. to have the Taliban stop fighting. The story follows:

Saving Pakistan from itself By Kunwar Idris
Sunday, 15 Aug, 2010

    The response of the political leaders, the government and civil society as a whole to the country’s worst-ever natural disaster has been both delayed and mean. It is a kind of save-Pakistan-from-itself situation.

    Even the army that comes to the people’s rescue when the civil administration falters or fails was late this time in coming and its presence was felt much less than in earlier, lesser crises. The world response matches domestic indifference. Only the ‘hated’ American soldiers with their helicopters are there to save lives. Don’t we need to look at our ‘friends’ more closely?

    The pledges made are small and much of the money promised would be available after the suffering has taken its toll. Well into the second week of the calamity, the donations received in the prime minister’s relief fund remain a pittance. Among a few large donors is a rags-to-riches politician who only a week earlier had spent, perhaps, an equal sum on a wedding feast at a plush Dubai hotel. Thus he has come to represent the rich of Pakistan as they are known to the world — charitable and vainglorious at the same time.

    The rains and floods, the prime minister says, had put the country back by a generation. That sounds like an exaggeration only to forestall the criticism of his government’s extravagance and incompetence. The damage to the infrastructure would surely cost a great deal but repaired — sooner or later. It is the nation that seems to have lost its soul.

    Its chosen representatives do not now have a dictator to curse nor can they blame ‘obstructing’ judges. They indulge in harangues but lack the moral strength to inspire a nation in crisis. Helping the people in distress are only the soldiers and some jihadis. The liberal or mainstream parties are nowhere to be seen.

    For the failure of the political leadership and civil administration to deal with the day-to-day problems, much less with a crisis of this magnitude, the blame lies not with this or that individual or party but with the politics of vengeance and retribution that has marked the national scene almost for four decades now. There may have been moments of personal triumph here and there but the moral and institutional decline has been continuous and, barring a revolution, looks irreversible.

    A quick reckoner of this decline is Bangladesh which is now poised to grow at twice the rate of Pakistan. A more tempting comparison, however, would be with Egypt which has been ruled by more strongmen and longer than Pakistan. In human development and social services starting from the same base in the middle of the last century, the literacy level in Egypt has risen to 85 per cent against ours at 54 and an average Egyptian expects to live eight years longer than a Pakistani. But, more amazingly, 99 per cent of Egyptian homes now have electricity and 97 per cent have piped water supply.In South Asian terms Pakistan shows up poorly and Southeast Asia (is altogether a different story. The old-timers can recall a time when the Koreans came to Pakistan to study our development model. Today an average South Korean is 30 times richer than his Pakistani counterpart.

    In Pakistan the failure has been collective but the rot began with the political leadership. It travelled down the line to hit the bureaucracy and then spread across the national spectrum to undermine all other spheres. The causes are numerous and remedies are often recounted but relevant in the current context is the need to curtail government expenditure to save money for the rehabilitation of flood victims and modernisation of the physical infrastructure.

    The size of the government calls for a drastic reduction. A smaller size would increase efficiency. One often wonders that if the province of West Pakistan (one unit) could make do with 13 or so ministers and as many secretaries why must each province now have three to four times that number? West Pakistan’s secretariat had just five cars for everybody to share; the number now defies a count.

    The chief minister then had but one office room and that too in the main secretariat along with all other ministers and officials. The Punjab chief minister now hardly ever goes to the secretariat. A palace-like structure that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi built for himself is now occupied by an assortment of freeloaders who are a burden on a government that runs on bank overdraft.

    Then come cash handouts or subsidies. Rs70bn set aside for payment to the poor selected by parliamentarians under a programme named after Benazir should be diverted to the flood victims. Putting the poor on dole, even if honestly chosen (which appears unlikely considering the political channel of distribution) is a bad idea. The same applies to the sum set aside for Punjab’s two-rupee sasti roti which even the rich can buy.

    Though late, the Punjab chief minister has sensibly decided to stop this waste and divert the saved Rs500bn to flood relief. The Sindh government is now contemplating a similar subsidy in wheat flour through the millers for sale in the open market. Given our proven inability to control the market forces, this subsidy is unlikely to reach the poor just as the subsidy on fertiliser, pesticide or other commodities did not. It too will get lost in the long channel of bribe and profit.

    The savings in these and other subsidies and a heavy cut in spendings by a mélange of political coalitions that have no policy or direction should make up somewhat for the lack of local and foreign donations. The saddest of all thoughts however is that the donors are being cagey or wary not because they do not realise the gravity and scale of the problem. It is Pakistan’s reputation for corruption and mismanagement that holds them back. And there we are stuck. (You can write to Kunwar:kunwaridris@hotmail.com)

What would George Orwell say about the Withdrawal from Iraq?; 14 Million Pakistani’s caught in the Flood; (Update) Wikileaks to release 15,000 more documents very soon

August 13, 2010

What would George Orwell say about the US withdrawal from Iraq? By Hannah Gurman on August 13, 2010… From our friends at War in Context. Please visit their site and sign up for their email alerts, click here.

George Orwell

    As the Second World War drew to a close, George Orwell looked back on the various prognoses of war and peace that had emerged in recent years:“All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way,” he observed. “People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”Over the next several years, Orwell would elaborate a dystopian vision of the emerging Cold War, a vision in which warring superpowers would use distorted and self-serving political rhetoric to battle each other and their citizens.

    In recent weeks, we have reached another historic juncture. The Iraq War, or at least the American military’s role in it, is drawing to a symbolic close. To mark this moment, the U.S. Ministry of Information has put its spin machine in high gear. Orwell would have had a field day with this one. He could not have invented a more Orwellian tale than the actual story of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

    Here is the official version, championed in its earlier moments by Bush, Petraeus, and other congressional hawks, and now trumpeted almost as loudly by the White House and State Department: Violence is down. Iraqis are finally (it’s about time, guys) taking responsibility for their own security. The March elections were a great step forward. Iraq, we can safely say, is on the path to a brighter future.

    This story marks the last chapter in the surge narrative that took root in 2006, a narrative in which General David Petraeus is credited with turning the war around. Proponents of this story know better than to declare victory, a word that has largely fallen out of the official lexicon. But the word success, which has taken its place, is everywhere. And while it doesn’t quite afford that nationalist sense of superiority to which Americans have long been accustomed, success does provide a certain contentment and satisfaction over a job well done. It allows for that perennial optimism that never quite goes out of fashion in the American way of war.

    It is telling though not surprising that Obama chose a military audience to deliver his official remarks on the nominal end of America’s seven-year occupation of Iraq. Like all American, and especially all Democratic presidents, Obama rarely misses a moment to pay tribute to the troops — perhaps the only thing that no loyal American can question regardless of how unjust the wars America fights may be. “As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq,” President Obama declared, “a grateful America must pay tribute to all who served there.”

    There is nothing fundamentally new in this story. It is just the latest version of a longstanding nationalist narrative in which, no matter how the story begins, the U.S. always ends up on the right side of history. For the most loyal devotees of this narrative, even Vietnam is not an exception. Were it not for that cheap congress, those pesky journalists, and those traitorous anti-war activists, they insist, we would’ve won that war too. Never mind that we had allied ourselves with a corrupt government that cared little about the people of Vietnam. Never mind that the enemy saw this as just the latest in a decades-long war against foreign occupiers. Never mind that, as Daniel Ellsberg has said, we were not just “on the wrong side” of this war. “We were the wrong side.”

For the rest of Hanna’s story, go to War in Context, click here.

* * * * *

From Dawn.com, read the rest of the following story, click here:

    SIGULDA, Latvia: World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Friday that the worst floods in Pakistan in decades were likely to have destroyed crops in the country worth around $1 billion.The floods, triggered by torrential monsoon downpours, have swamped Pakistan’s Indus river basin, killing more than 1,600 people, forcing two million from their homes and disrupting the lives of about 14 million people.

* * * * *

(Update) Wikileaks “will not be threatened” “by Pentagon, read it here.

WikiLeaks preparing to release more Afghan files
By RAPHAEL G. SATTER and ANNE FLAHERTY – 21 hours ago

LONDON — WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange said Thursday his organization is preparing to release the rest of the secret Afghan war documents it has on file. The Pentagon warned that would be more damaging to security and risk more lives than the organization’s initial release of some 76,000 war documents.

    .

45+ Afghans die during air raid, NATO, U.S. deny it happened

August 7, 2010

The NATO command and the U.S. Forces are lying to us, the public. They can not be trusted. These wars must end. What is to be gained by continuing? What is Victory? Our friends at Rethink Afghanistan have produced this video of the deaths of 45+ innocent civilians in a small Afghan Village. This has been denied by NATO and the U.S. Forces. What would you do if this were your village? After viewing the video, go to Rethink Afghanistan and send a letter to your Members of Congress.

Pakistan President Zardari says “Coalition losing Afghan war”; 43% Americans feel US made mistake by sending troops to Afghan; Enough Dying, End the Wars NOW

August 3, 2010

Enough Death on All Sides: End the War NOW

PARIS: Coalition forces “are losing the war against the Taliban” in Afghanistan, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview published in France on Tuesday. “The international community, to which Pakistan belongs, is losing the war against the Taliban. This is above all because we have lost the battle to win hearts and minds,” he said, in comments published in French by Le Monde. Read the whole story here.

* * *

WASHINGTON: After Wikileaks released the leaked classified documents on the Afghan war, 43 per cent of Americans now feel that the US made a mistake by sending troops to the war-torn country, according to a latest poll. This is slightly up from just before the release of the leaked documents last week, which was 38 per cent, Gallup said in its latest poll.

“While Americans are still more likely to support than oppose the war, the percentage who say it was a mistake to get involved is at a new high,” Gallup said in a statement. Read the whole story here.

Enough Dying on all Sides, End the Wars NOW


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.