Posts Tagged ‘Cambodia’

Human Rights Day & U.S. Hypocrisy

December 14, 2010

Defensive America’s Contempt for Full Court, Press

by Nima Shirazi, Foreign Policy Journal, December 14, 2010

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – André Gide

“WikiLeaks has shown there is an America in civics textbooks and an America that functions differently in the real world.” – James Moore

Sixty-two years ago, on December 10, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration, to which the United States is undoubtedly beholden, affirms:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Well, except for WikiLeaks, of course.

Internet giant Amazon.com, which hosted the whistle-blowing website, dropped WikiLeaks last week, “only 24 hours after being contacted by the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security.” Lieberman’s call for censorship was also heeded by the Seattle-based software company, Tableau, which was hosting some informational, interactive charts linked to by WikiLeaks. These graphics contained absolutely no confidential material whatsoever and merely provided data regarding where the leaked cables originated and in what years they had been written. Nevertheless, for fear of government retribution, Tableau removed the charts, explaining,

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal have all since followed suit.

Continues >>

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McNamara’s Evil Lives On

July 9, 2009
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Truthdig.com, Posted on July 7, 2009

McNamara and Johnson
AP photo

President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, confers with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in November 1963.

By Robert Scheer

Why not speak ill of the dead?

Robert McNamara, who died this week, was a complex man—charming even, in a blustery way, and someone I found quite thoughtful when I interviewed him. In the third act of his life he was often an advocate for enlightened positions on world poverty and the dangers of the nuclear arms race. But whatever his better nature, it was the stark evil he perpetrated as secretary of defense that must indelibly frame our memory of him.

To not speak out fully because of respect for the deceased would be to mock the memory of the millions of innocent people McNamara caused to be maimed and killed in a war that he later freely admitted never made any sense. Much has been made of the fact that he recanted his support for the war, but that came 20 years after the holocaust he visited upon Vietnam was over.

Is holocaust too emotionally charged a word? How many millions of dead innocent civilians does it take to qualify labels like holocaust, genocide or terrorism? How many of the limbless victims of his fragmentation bombs and land mines whom I saw in Vietnam during and after the war? Or are America’s leaders always to be exempted from such questions? Perhaps if McNamara had been held legally accountable for his actions, the architects of the Iraq debacle might have paused.

Instead, McNamara was honored with the Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson, to whom he had written a private memo nine months earlier offering this assessment of their Vietnam carnage: “The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one.”

He knew it then, and, give him this, the dimensions of that horror never left him. When I interviewed him for the Los Angeles Times in 1995, after the publication of his confessional memoir, his assessment of the madness he had unleashed was all too clear:

“Look, we dropped three to four times the tonnage on that tiny little area as were dropped by the Allies in all of the theaters in World War II over a period of five years. It was unbelievable. We killed—there were killed—3,200,000 Vietnamese, excluding the South Vietnamese military. My God! The killing, the tonnage—it was fantastic. The problem was that we were trying to do something that was militarily impossible—we were trying to break the will; I don’t think we can break the will by bombing short of genocide.”

We—no, he—couldn’t break their will because their fight was for national independence. They had defeated the French and would defeat the Americans who took over when French colonialists gave up the ghost. The war was a lie from the first. It never had anything to do with the freedom of the Vietnamese (we installed one tyrant after another in power), but instead had to do with our irrational Cold War obsession with “international communism.” Irrational, as President Richard Nixon acknowledged when he embraced détente with the Soviet communists, toasted China’s fierce communist Mao Tse-tung and then escalated the war against “communist” Vietnam and neutral Cambodia.

It was always a lie and our leaders knew it, but that did not give them pause. Both Johnson and Nixon make it quite clear on their White House tapes that the mindless killing, McNamara’s infamous body count, was about domestic politics and never security.

The lies are clearly revealed in the Pentagon Papers study that McNamara commissioned, but they were made public only through the bravery of Daniel Ellsberg. Yet when Ellsberg, a former Marine who had worked for McNamara in the Pentagon, was in the docket facing the full wrath of Nixon’s Justice Department, McNamara would lift not a finger in his defense. Worse, as Ellsberg reminded me this week, McNamara threatened that if subpoenaed to testify at the trial by Ellsberg’s defense team, “I would hurt your client badly.”

Not as badly as those he killed or severely wounded. Not as badly as the almost 59,000 American soldiers killed and the many more horribly hurt. One of them was the writer and activist Ron Kovic, who as a kid from Long Island was seduced by McNamara’s lies into volunteering for two tours in Vietnam. Eventually, struggling with his mostly paralyzed body, he spoke out against the war in the hope that others would not have to suffer as he did (and still does). Meanwhile, McNamara maintained his golden silence, even as Richard Nixon managed to kill and maim millions more. What McNamara did was evil—deeply so.

Raids into Pakistan: What U.S. authority?

September 15, 2008

Bush’s orders to send special forces after Taliban militants have roots in previous presidencies.

Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, Sept 15, 2008

Page 1 of 2

Reporter head shot

Reporter Howard LaFranchi talks about the US military’s raids inside Pakistan, looking for terrorists.

Orders President Bush signed in July authorizing raids by special operations forces in the areas of Pakistan controlled by the Taliban and Al Qaeda and undertaking those raids without official Pakistani consent, have roots stretching back to the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In an address to a joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11, President Bush said, “From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

But even before that declaration, two key steps had been taken: One, Congress had authorized the use of US military force against terrorist organizations and the countries that harbor or support them. Two, Bush administration officials had warned Pakistan’s leaders of the dire consequences their country would face if they did not unequivocally enlist in the fight against radical Islamist terrorism.

What Mr. Bush’s July orders signify is that, after seven years of encouraging Pakistan to take on extremists harbored in remote areas along its border with Afghanistan and subsidizing the Pakistani military handsomely to do it, the US has become convinced that Pakistan is neither able nor willing to fight the entrenched Taliban and Al Qaeda elements. Indeed, recent events appear to have convinced at least some in the administration that parts of Pakistan’s military and powerful intelligence service are actually aiding the extremists.

“We’ve moved beyond the message stage here. I think the US has had it with messages that don’t get any action, and that is why the president authorized this,” says Kamran Bokhari, director of Middle East analysis for Stratfor, an intelligence consulting firm in Washington. “This says loud and clear, ‘We’re fed up.’ ”

Even before the July order, the US had undertaken covert operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Moreover, the CIA over the past year has stepped up missile attacks by the unmanned Predator drones it operates to hit targets in the region. That increase has coincided with a deterioration of the war in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Army and NATO forces have come under increasing attack from militants crossing over the rugged and lawless border from Pakistan.

But Bush’s orders, first reported in The New York Times Thursday, mean that operations against insurgent sanctuaries will become overt and probably more frequent. A Sept. 3 ground assault involving US commandos dropped from helicopters targeted a suspected terrorist compound. Missile attacks by the CIA’s unmanned drones, including one Friday reported by Pakistani officials to have killed at last 12 people, are also on the rise.

Precedence for the orders authorizing the attacks on terrorist havens can be found in President Bill Clinton’s authorization of retaliatory attacks in 1993 (against Iraqi intelligence facilities) and in 1998 (against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Sudan), and in President Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Libya, legal scholars say.

The administration has debated the use of commando raids in Pakistan for years, but the tipping point came in July, as relations with Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders deteriorated, intelligence sources say. The “kicker,” according to one source who requested anonymity over the sensitivity of the issue, was two July events: the bombing of India’s embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, an act that US intelligence officials concluded was aided by Pakistani intelligence operatives; and a July 13 attack on a US military outpost in eastern Afghanistan that killed nine US soldiers. The outpost attack was carried out by Taliban militants who had crossed over the nearby border from Pakistan.

Continued . . .

Quagmire, Phase 2: The Invasion of Pakistan

September 15, 2008
Truthdig.com, Posted on Sep 11, 2008

By William Pfaff

The United States has just invaded Cambodia. The name of Cambodia this time is Pakistan, but otherwise it’s the same story as in Indochina in 1970.

An American army, deeply frustrated by its inability to defeat an anti-American insurgent movement despite years of struggle, decides that the key to victory lies in a neighboring country. In 1970, the problem was the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia. Today it is Taliban and al-Qaida bases inside Pakistan, which the United States has been attacking from the air for some time, with controversial “collateral damage.”

George W. Bush has now authorized independent ground assaults on Taliban and al-Qaida targets in Pakistan’s Tribal Territories, without consultation with Pakistan authorities. These already have begun.

This follows a period of tension, with some armed clashes, between American and Pakistani military units, the latter defending “Pakistan’s national sovereignty.” Pakistan public opinion seems largely against “America’s war” being fought inside Pakistan.

Washington’s decision was made known just in time for the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that opened the first phase of the “war on terror,” after which “nothing could ever be the same.” We no doubt have now begun phase two.

The eventual outcome of the American intervention in Cambodia in 1970 was Communist overthrow of the American-sponsored military government in that country, followed by genocide. The future consequences in (nuclear-armed) Pakistan await.

There is every reason to think they may include civil protest and disorder in the country, political crisis, a major rise in the strength of Pakistan’s own Islamic fundamentalist movement and, conceivably, a small war between the United States and the Pakistan army, which is the central institution in the country, has a mind of its own and is not a negligible military force.

In Afghanistan, American and NATO forces have been complaining for many months that victory over the Taliban was impossible so long as there were secure Taliban bases in Pakistan’s largely inaccessible Tribal Territories.

Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, was told by his American allies to clean the Taliban out of the Territories or the U.S. Army and NATO would do it for him. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama made the same threat. John McCain concurred. Musharraf had been looking for a negotiated arrangement with the tribesmen.

Pakistan’s military intelligence services created the Taliban while they were collaborating with the CIA to form the mujahadeen that drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. Many in the service still support the Taliban as a useful instrument against India, and to keep Afghanistan out of the hands of more dangerous enemies.

Musharraf was forced out of office. The U.S. brought in exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, expected to be cooperative. She was assassinated, presumably by Islamic extremists. Her widower has been elected to take her place and declares himself an enemy of terrorism. However, the United States has already taken the matter into its own hands.

In the Vietnamese case, the American military command held that it could win the war by invading Cambodia to cut the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail, along which supplies and arms for the Viet Cong Communist insurrection were being transported. The argument made was that cutting this route would starve the Viet Cong of supplies.

Initially, the unhappy Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, desperately trying to keep his country out of the Vietnam War, was persuaded to turn a blind eye to U.S. bombing of the trail. A military coup followed in 1970, installing an American puppet general. B-52 saturation bombing ensued, without the desired military effect, but killing many Cambodians.

The joint U.S. and South Vietnamese “incursion” to cut the trail came in April 1970; it simply pushed the supply operations deeper into Cambodia. Richard Nixon said he acted to prove that the United States was not “a second-rate power.” “If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation acts like a pitiful helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.”

The native Cambodian Khmer Rouge subsequently defeated the American-backed military regime in Phnom Penh. Genocide followed, the “killing fields,” on which the United States turned its back, condemning the triumphant Vietnamese Communist government when it later invaded Cambodia to stop the killing.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.


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