Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Anti-war Protesters Arrested Outside White House

October 6, 2009
Published on Monday, October 5, 2009 by WJLA News – ABC News (Washington)

In the wake of terrible news out of Afghanistan, there is renewed debate at the Pentagon and White House over the future of the war.

[As the US led war in Afghanistan begins its ninth year this week, activists brought a strong message to the White House that war, torture and drone bombing are outrageous, unacceptable and must end immediately. Sixty-one people were arrested during the protest. (Image source: Flckr by mike.benedetti)]As the US led war in Afghanistan begins its ninth year this week, activists brought a strong message to the White House that war, torture and drone bombing are outrageous, unacceptable and must end immediately. Sixty-one people were arrested during the protest. (Image source: Flckr by mike.benedetti)

In the first five days of the month, there have been more deaths of U.S. service members than in all of October in 2008. And the calls for an end to the war were increasingly loud outside the White House Monday afternoon.In a defiant display with hopes of influencing the president’s plan on Afghanistan, hundreds of people marched from McPherson square chanting and holding signs. Some chained themselves to the White House fence, demanding we leave Afghanistan now and wondering aloud, where’s the “change” they were promised.

Continues >>

Uncle Sam, More War, Please

August 4, 2009

By Philip Giraldi, Campaign For Liberty, Aug 3, 2009

In “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare’s Brutus counsels “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken on the flood, leads on to fortune.” Shakespeare was describing how powerful men seeking yet more power, blinded by hubris, collectively brought about the destruction of the very republic that they claimed to love. Brutus was urging his fellow conspirator Cassius to fight the forces of Anthony and Octavian on the following day at Philippi in the belief that one more battle would end the civil war that had begun with the assassination of Caesar. Brutus concludes his exhortation with a personal note revealing that for all his high mindedness he was not unmindful of the lure of military glory, “omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” As has become increasingly clear to many, in “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare could have as easily been writing about contemporary America as the Roman Republic.

Who can doubt that Washington has recently had more than its share of would be heroes seeking the flood tide that will lift them up to feast in Valhalla. More often than not, that tide has been provided by war and more often than not the decision to cast the die on the battlefield has proven to be an error, leading to a languishing “in shallows and in miseries” for the entire American people. The latest call to arms is coming from the new American Caesar in Central Asia, General Stanley McChrystal who has a plan. McChrystal believes that Afghanistan can be redeemed after eight years of failure if only the United States provides more soldiers and the Afghans can be induced to dramatically increase the size of their own army and police forces. There are several fundamental problems with the McChrystal vision, starting with the fact that the Afghan government cannot even afford to pay for the army and police forces that it already has. Also, the offensive currently taking place in Afghanistan is demonstrating that it is difficult to make progress in an environment where the local population, having been pounded by US air power for the past seven years, is unrelentingly hostile.

But McChrystal thinks he can fix all that by putting more American boots on the ground, reasoning that mixing with the local population rather than pummeling them from the air will prove beneficial. Of course, the good general might discover that the presence of a lot of occupying troops who do not speak the local language and have no knowledge of indigenous customs might not prove an unmitigated blessing, particularly when they have to call in the helicopter gunships to blast the locals whenever they get in trouble. American ability to deal with local cultures has never been a strong point. I recall the advice of my old sergeant from Alabama back in 1969 when I was a member of the US Army’s Berlin Brigade. “If you don’t understand the local lingo whether it’s a gook or a kraut, just speak slowly and very loudly. They’ll figure it out.” What the locals actually figure out pretty quickly is that you don’t care enough about them to even learn out how to order a cup of tea and they act accordingly.

What is most curious about the McChrystal solution, which threatens to involve the US in Central Asia until 2020, is how the decision was made to add more soldiers. In true Washington fashion, McChrystal convened a sixty day review to look at the problem. Some members of the commission like Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security are highly respectable independent thinkers, but some of the other choices are the same people who advised George Bush, drawn from places like The American Enterprise Institute. It is important to note that the advisory group was selected to reflect a certain diversity of opinion in tactical terms, but no one was selected to represent an alternative viewpoint, i.e. that the US should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. It was a group designed to say “yes.” Not a single board member was opposed to the Iraq War before it began, has spoken out publicly against plans to fight Iran, or has recommended that withdrawal from Afghanistan might be in the US national interest. Not one. So what kind of result did McChrystal expect? The result he got, which is to increase troop levels and deepen America’s commitment to a war that is likely being lost.

Two of the commission members are particularly odd choices, the ubiquitous Kagans, husband Fred and wife Kimberly. Fred is a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute who claims to have been a co-creator of the surge policy that was applied in Iraq. His wife Kimberly is a classic neocon entrepreneur who relied on nepotism to work her way through the system. She studied ancient history at Yale under Donald Kagan and then married his son who later claimed to be the co-author of the “surge.” She is now billed as a “military expert” by the neocon media, and apparently also by General McChrystal, in spite of her lack of any actual military experience. For the neocon “Weekly Standard” she wrote a hagiography of the plodding General Raymond Odierno called “The Patton of Counterinsurgency” which might well be considered a comedy piece but for the fact that it was serious. She writes mostly about the Middle East, but does not appear to have working knowledge of either Farsi or Arabic like many of the other so-called experts, and is president of the curiously named Institute for the Study of War.

Another commission member Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution, has written two articles on Afghanistan entitled “Insurgents are not winning in Afghanistan” and “Optimism in Afghanistan.” The former was written last summer and seems to have been an inaccurate assessment even for that time period. The latter was written last spring. Shapiro might well regret his conclusions but his getting things wrong did not exclude him from McChrystals’s review board. Jeremy speaks French and Spanish and, like the other advisors, could hardly be described as an expert on Afghanistan. In fact, there was no expert on Afghanistan present on the board and no one could speak any of the country’s several commonly used languages. If there was an expertise present it was on fighting wars from behind a desk, something that only occurs in the bizarre quasi-academic Washington beltway think tank culture. As Washington insiders have only rarely seen a war that they didn’t like, the results of McChrystal’s review were more-or-less predictable.

So should Washington follow the example of the British and other Europeans who are seeing no light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan and are preparing to get out? McChrystal doesn’t think so and he has assembled a cast of Washington think tank luminaries to support his call for more troops, more engagement, and lots more money to pay for the same, even if it has to be printed up in a basement somewhere and converted into treasury bonds to be sold to the Chinese. In Vietnam (and Cambodia and Laos) there came a tipping point when the military effort was widely seen as going nowhere and just not sustainable any longer. When will the American people and its newly elected president come to that same conclusion about Afghanistan (and Pakistan and …)?

A US-NATO War In Pakistan? – An Anatomy of the Current Crisis

September 24, 2008

by Alan Nasser

On Saturday evening, the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, one of the city’s two most luxurious hotels, located near the presidential office, the parliament building, and a host of foreign embassies, was devastated by a bomb blast that left fifty three dead, including the Czech ambassador and two U.S. Defense Department officials.

The recent background to this latest in a series of increasingly sophisticated and bold insurgent strikes is revealing: since September 3, the U.S. has launched ground incursions and six missile attacks in Pakistan’s border regions. The U.S.-NATO aim is to cripple supporters along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border supportive of the anti-occupation resistance in Afghanistan.

The destruction of the Marriott was the latest response to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari’s complicity with Washington in the military assaults on the perceived center of insurgent support in Pakistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), including the North-West Frontier Provinces (NWFP). Just hours before the Marriott blast Zardari told the country’s parliament that he is determined to free Pakistan from “the shackles of terrorism.”

This pledge confirmed Zardari’s determination to continue to order the Pakistani military, an institution harboring more than a few sympathers with the insurgents, to launch assaults on suspected insurgent -“terrorist”- strongholds. It is common knowledge that this policy is a response to pressure from Washington.

Pakistan’s ambassador to Germany, Shahid Kamal, expressed not only his own but the majority resentment against Zardari’s subservience to Washington’s demands on Pakistan when he told The New York Times “This [the Marriott bombing] is a reaction to what is going on in FATA. We have been implementing a reckless and careless policy…. What’s happening in FATA is that Pakistanis are killing Pakistanis.”

Here we see reflected both the popular indignation at the new Pakistani president’s political apeing of his predecessor, the Washington puppet and military dictator Pervez Musharraf, and the deep divisions within Pakistan’s state apparatus regarding Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S.-NATO, which the majority of Pakistanis see as waging a Western-Christian attack on global Islam.

An overview of the backgound to Washington’s stepped-up aggression in Pakistan is in order.

The Bush Doctrine Is Extended to Pakistan
On September 9 George W. Bush announced that Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan were “all theatres in the same overall struggle.” This declaration was intended to justify Bush’s July approval of ground assaults by U.S. Special Operations forces inside Pakistan, without Islamabad’s approval.

Thus, the Iraq-Afghanistan disasters are to be sustained and widened to include the sixth most populous country in the world, with 20 million Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom are known to be increasingly infuriated with the recent succession of air and ground attacks inside Pakistan, and whose government possesses a nuclear arsenal.

Continued . . .

Iraqis Protest Against US Presence In Iraq

September 7, 2008

BAGHDAD – Thousands of Shi’ites protested against the U.S. presence in Iraq, heeding orders from anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for a peaceful show of force on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

[Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest in Baghdad's Sadr City September 5, 2008. Thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites protested the U.S. presence on the first Friday of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, heeding orders from anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. (REUTERS/Kareem Raheem)]Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest in Baghdad’s Sadr City September 5, 2008. Thousands of Iraqi Shi’ites protested the U.S. presence on the first Friday of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, heeding orders from anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. (REUTERS/Kareem Raheem)

Crowds of people waved photos of the reclusive cleric, dancing and shouting, following Friday prayers in Sadr City, a Shi’ite stronghold in northeastern Baghdad.Several men burned a red, white and blue flag as they pledged support for the reclusive Sadr.

“We all support you, Sayyid Moqtada! We are your soldiers!” they shouted, addressing Sadr by a title of respect.

In the southern holy city of Najaf, several hundred protesters turned out for a parallel protest. “No, no to occupation!” read one banner.

Late last month, Sadr extended indefinitely a ceasefire for the Mehdi Army, the feared militia that until a government crackdown earlier this year controlled Sadr City and swathes of southern Iraq.

The cleric, who is believed to be holed up in the Iranian city of Qom, has asked the bulk of his followers to dedicate themselves to helping poor Shi’ites and countering western influence in Iraq. He also ordered Friday’s protests.

The question as violence drops sharply across Iraq is whether the bulk of Sadr’s militia will obey orders to put down their arms.

In Sadr City, Imam Muhenned al-Moussawi addressed the thousands of men and boys gathered for prayers under the blistering summer sun.

“Everybody knows that the goals of American wars are commercial. They use war to drain desperate nations economically and socially,” he told the crowd.

The protests came as attention focused on the future of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, and the Shi’ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought assurances from Washington about gradually reducing its military activities in the country.

Pentagon sources said this week they were recommending the withdrawal of one combat brigade, 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers, in early 2009, a move that reflects both improving conditions in Iraq and growing needs in Afghanistan.

Reporting by Sattar Rahim in Baghdad; writing by Missy Ryan

© 2008 Reuters

Pakistan army to ask Pervez Musharraf to resign

August 9, 2008

Pakistan’s all-powerful army chief will ask President Pervez Musharraf to resign from office within a week, a senior government official claimed today.

Pakistan army to ask Pervez Musharraf to resign

President Pervez Musharraf gestures during a meeting: his resignation would avoid the humiliation of impeachment Photo: AP

The claim was supported by a former military aide to the president who said that the army’s leadership wished Mr Musharraf to be spared the humiliation of impeachment.

The civilian government intensified an attritional, seven-month long power struggle with the presidency when it announced earlier this week that it is to begin impeachment proceedings against Mr Musharraf on Monday.

The twin arbiters of power in Pakistan, the army chief of staff, Gen Ashfaq Kiyani, and America, which has provided dollars 12 billion in military aid to the country in the last six years, have publicly declared themselves to be neutral on Pakistan’s domestic politics.

However a senior official from the ruling government coalition partner, the Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP) said that the army has “whispered in Musharraf’s ear that it is time to leave”.

“Over the next few days they will make it clear to him [Musharraf] that a protracted battle [against impeachment] is not in Pakistan’s interests,” he added.

Yesterday Pakistan’s political class had an ear strenuously cocked for hints as to which way the army will move as Gen Kiyani spent a second day in conference with his senior commanders.

The former military aide to Mr Musharraf said: “The army is neutral but is expecting him to resign. It will then influence his honourable safe passage as the army’s senior leadership would not want him to be punished”.

The PPP government official said that his party had given an assurance of “indemnity” to the president.

The official, who has top-level contacts with Washington, said that his party had instigated the impeachment because Mr Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led war on terror, had begun to use intelligence agencies to plot against the government.

He alleged that Mr Musharraf had tried to use a former PPP leader, Amin Fahim, to “instigate a rebellion within the party”.

“Washington was still hoping that the PPP would work with Musharraf, but he was not working with us,” he said.

“America wants Pakistan to be effectively governed and so has realised that the domestic struggle has to be resolved”, he added.

Mr Musharraf’s future remained opaque as it is dependant on the unpredictable brinkmanship of Pakistani politics.

His allies said yesterday that he will defend himself against impeachment, if necessary by dissolving parliament and thereby risking that the volatile country be further mired in turmoil.

Shujaat Hussain, the head of Mr Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), which lost elections in February, said that dissolving parliament would be ” unfortunate” but it may be “necessary”.

He told The Daily Telegraph that he had evidence that the move to impeach the president was made after the usually bickering coalition partners had struck a deal to hand the presidency to Asif Zardari, the PPP leader and widower of the assassinated former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Mr Hussain said that presidential candidacy of Mr Zardari, who was granted an amnesty by Mr Musharraf absolving him of corruption charges involving hundreds of millions of dollars, would be opposed by the army.

“I have no knowledge of that but Pakistan would be better served by a civilian president with a knowledge of democracy,” a PPP spokesman said of Mr Zardari’s alleged presidential bid.

Provincial assemblies will first be called on to pass resolutions demanding that Musharraf seek a vote of confidence from Parliament, which would show whether he has the support of lawmakers elected in February.

  • The coalition is currently several seats short of the 295 votes it requires out of the 439 in the Senate and National Assembly to remove Musharraf.
  • Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz, together with smaller coalition partners, have 266 seats and need a further 29 MPs on side, likely to be from the troubled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
  • The party of ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif said Friday it is rejoining the Cabinet, a gesture of solidarity now that the coalition partners have agreed to seek President Pervez Musharraf’s impeachment.
  • A poll by the International Republican Institute in June showed that 85 percent of Pakistanis believed that the president should resign.

The Return of Benazir Bhutto

October 19, 2007

(The last sentence in the following editorial shows how the MSM in the US make the misleading claim that America can help Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan move towards democracy. I believe it is more of a joke than a serious view! However, being a Pakistani I have got used to all the nonsense emanating from various sources about the American deeds over the past 60 years in and around Pakistan in the service of ‘democracy’. –Nasir Khan)
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The New York Times, Editorial, October 19, 2007

It’s no surprise that Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan was painstakingly choreographed: She emerged from her plane in Karachi yesterday clutching a Koran and dressed in Pakistan’s national colors. Comebacks, after all, are her specialty. Since her father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed in 1979, she’s been elected prime minister twice, deposed twice on charges of corruption and self-exiled twice. Now, at 54, she’s back for another try.

Ms. Bhutto got a swift and horrifying reminder of how close Pakistan is to the brink — and of what she’s up against — when explosions ripped through the crowds near her motorcade last night, killing scores of people.

It’s hard to see her return as a victory for democracy, especially since it is the result of a dubious deal with Gen. Pervez Musharraf that grants him another five years in the presidency. Nor is it a great triumph for the rule of law, since, in exchange for playing ball with the general, Ms. Bhutto has been handed a convenient amnesty that wipes out serious corruption charges dating back to her years as prime minister. Without that protection, she would have risked possible imprisonment by returning home.

Still, letting her back in to lead her party’s ticket in the soon-to-be-held parliamentary elections is an important step forward for a country that has been subjected to eight years of essentially one-man rule and has grown ever more polarized.

Ms. Bhutto’s greatest challenge will be to redeem this tawdry trade-off by using her popularity and skills to leverage this modest political opening into something resembling genuine democracy. Her first step should be to insist that those parliamentary elections are open to all, including her longtime political rival, Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister. His previous tenure, like hers, was badly flawed. But they are Pakistan’s two most popular politicians, and without the participation of both of them there can be no Pakistani democracy.

Washington’s help will be crucial in this effort. For too long it has coddled General Musharraf for his supposedly stalwart policies against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But recently, those policies have seemed scarcely more credible than his hollow promises to accept the constraints of law and democracy or his commitment to free elections.

After belatedly recognizing that the general’s misrule was dangerously strengthening, not weakening, extremist forces in Pakistan, Washington helped engineer the deal that permitted Ms. Bhutto’s return. Now, it must help her and Pakistan truly move toward democracy.


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