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Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson And America's 30-Year War

Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson And America's 30-Year War
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | February 15, 2010

The extraordinary American patriot and cinema hero Wilson said of his efforts in the 1980s, “This is the one chance to send the Soviet young men home in body bags like they sent our boys back in body bags. Let’s make this a Vietnam for the Soviets.”

On February 13 the United States and NATO led an assault with 15,000 Western and Afghan government troops against Marjah, a town in Helmand province with a population of 75,000. One soldier for every five civilians. The NATO contingent involved in the offensive includes troops from Britain, Canada, Denmark, Estonia and the U.S.

In the opening hours of the massive attack, "the biggest air[borne] assault ever undertaken by coalition forces in the country," [1] two rockets fired from a NATO High Mobility Artillery Rocket System slammed into a house outside Marjah and killed twelve civilians. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all U.S. and NATO Forces in the country, described the incident as "regrettable."

An account from a British newspaper described the situation in the town after the assault began: "The populous Taliban stronghold of Marjah has, say residents, become a ghost town. Shops are shuttered, streets deserted and most inhabitants are hiding inside their mud-brick houses wondering when their 'day of doom' will come." [2]

The operation is the largest staged by the U.S. and its NATO allies since the war in Afghanistan was launched in early October of 2001. It is the opening salvo in the plan for escalation of the counterinsurgency war in that nation announced by U.S. President Barack Obama at the West Point Military Academy last December 3. [3]

Outside View: Vietnam 1963 and Afghanistan 2010

Outside View: Vietnam 1963 and Afghanistan 2010
By Col. Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. | UPI

McChrystal, NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, admits that the Afghan national army and the Afghan national police are not sufficiently effective to take ownership of Afghanistan's security. He has recommended that the ANA accelerate growth to a new level of 134,000 by fall 2010, with required additional growth to 240,000. McChrystal has also requested ANP growth to a total strength of at least 160,000.

According to McCaffrey, the United States and its allies are unlikely to achieve the political and military goals in the 18 months as set out by President Barack Obama when he announced his troop surge of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. McCaffrey noted that "this will inevitably become a 3-to-10 year strategy to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw. It may well cost us an additional $300 billion and we are likely to suffer thousands more U.S. casualties."

Ten years after NIE 53-63 was published, the United States finally left South Vietnam.

According to a strategic assessment of security operations in Afghanistan prepared by U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.) on Dec 9, 2009, the Taliban believe they are winning.

Additionally, the Afghan people do not know whether the current government or the Taliban will prevail. The population, particularly the majority Pashtuns, are hedging their bets. Most Afghans are dismayed by the injustice and corruption of the central government, in particular, the Afghan National Police, McCaffrey said.

Such observations follow closely those of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his Aug. 30, 2009, report: "Many indicators suggest the overall situation is deteriorating. We face not only a resilient and growing insurgency; there is also a crisis of confidence among Afghans -- in both their government -- and the international community -- that undermines our credibility and emboldens the insurgents. Further, a perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents." Read more.

U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf

U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | February 3, 2010

On January 20 Poland's Defense Ministry revealed that a U.S. Patriot missile battery previously scheduled to be stationed near the nation's capital will instead be deployed to a Baltic Sea location 35 miles from Russian territory; on January 29 the White House approved the transfer of 114 Patriot missiles to Taiwan as part of a $6.5 billion arms package that also includes eight warships the receiving nation plans to upgrade for the Aegis Combat System with the capacity for carrying Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) ship-based anti-ballistic missiles.

On January 22 head of the Pentagon's Central Command General David Petraeus told an audience at the private Institute for the Study of War that two warships equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System "are in the Gulf at all times now." [1] A news report on the same day remarked "That statement - along with the stationing of other U.S. air defense assets in the region - sends a strong signal to Iran...." [2]

The New York Times reported on January 30 that the U.S. was expediting the deployment of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missiles to four Persian Gulf nations - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - thereby paralleling the combination of sea-based Aegis and land-based Patriot missiles intended for the Taiwan Strait aimed at China and in the Baltic Sea targeting Russia. The Gulf deployments are intended for use against Iran.

"One senior military officer said that General Petraeus had started talking openly about the Patriot deployments about a month ago, when it became increasingly clear that international efforts toward imposing sanctions against Iran faced hurdles...." [3]

On February 1 The Times of London commented on the coordinated interceptor missile plans: "Tensions in the Gulf between the US and Iran are set to rise further after it emerged that American-made anti-missile systems are to be deployed to Washington's Arab allies in the region.

"The Obama Administration said yesterday that it was speeding up arms sales to a number of states and that it had also deployed warships in the Gulf...."

As in the Baltic Sea and Taiwan, PAC-3 missiles - "dedicated almost entirely to the anti-ballistic missile mission" [4] and which soon will have their capability increased by 50% with an upgrade called Missile Segment Enhancement - will be used for short- to medium-range and Aegis class warships for medium to long-range missile interceptions. The basic ingredients of a multilayered theater missile shield.

Game Changer: China Plans to Open Military Bases Worldwide

Game Changer: China Plans to Open Military Bases Worldwide
by Pluto | Antimedius

This we know.

It has been speculated upon in open-source intelligence circles for years. So, there is little surprise for the rest of the world when it hears of China’s first major foray in its new role as a Superpower.

Although Americans might be surprised. That is, if they even hear about it before the Juarez, Mexico base goes live.

China mulls setting up military base in Pakistan

Well, why not?

China already pays for our military imperialism by loaning us the money to play soldier. So, why shouldn't the world's new Superpower just cut to the chase and open their own bases? Read more. Click "Read more" below to see the Economist magazine cover "How China Sees the World."

Hillary Clinton's Prescription: Make The World A NATO Protectorate

Hillary Clinton's Prescription: Make The World A NATO Protectorate
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

"European security is, not only to the individual nations, but to the world. It is, after all, more than a collection of countries linked by history and geography. It is a model for the transformative power of reconciliation, cooperation, and community"....However, "much important work remains unfinished. The transition to democracy is incomplete in parts of Europe and Eurasia."...

To elite trans-Atlantic policy makers the above paragraphs' meaning is indisputable: The use of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc - the true foundation of the "transatlantic partnership" - in waging war in and effectively colonizing the Balkans and in expanding into Eastern Europe, incorporating twelve new nations including former Warsaw Pact members and Soviet republics, is the worldwide paradigm for the West in the 21st century.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busy in London and Paris last week advancing the new Euro-Atlantic agenda for the world.

As the top foreign policy official of what her commander-in-chief Barack Obama touted as being the world's sole military superpower on December 10, she is no ordinary foreign minister. Her position is rather some composite of several ones from previous historical epochs: Viceroy, proconsul, imperial nuncio.

When a U.S. secretary of state speaks the world pays heed. Any nation that doesn't will suffer the consequences of that inattention, that disrespect toward the imperatrix mundi.

On January 27 she was in London for a conference on Yemen and the following day she attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in the same city.

Also on the 28th she and two-thirds of her NATO quad counterparts, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (along with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton), pronounced a joint verdict on the state of democracy in Nigeria, Britain's former colonial possession.

Afterwards she crossed the English channel and delivered an address called Remarks on the Future of European Security at L'Ecole Militaire in Paris on January 29. That presentation was the most substantive component of her three-day European junket and the only one that dealt mainly with the continent itself, her previous comments relating to what are viewed by the United States and its Western European NATO partners as backwards, "ungovernable" international badlands. That is, the rest of the world.

China May Punish US War Contractors

China may punish US war contractors
US Companies, Workers At Risk of Losing Chinese Business Because of US-Taiwan Weapons Deal
Michael Munk wrote:

Responding to Obama's provocation, China may impose sanction on US companies who sell military weapons to Taiwan. Ignorant reporters write that since US companies are banned from selling arms to China, they would not be hurt.

Nonsense: Most of the military-industrial complex members listed below are not only merchants of death. United Technologies sells elevators and air conditioning to China; Boeing sells civilian aircraft and manufactures sub-assemblies in China.

When US companies lose a market in China, eager competitors, usually from Europe, rush to replace them.

Here's a partial list of US companies expected to sell $6.4B in arms to Taiwan.

  • 60 Black Hawk helicopters ($3.1bn) Sikorsky aircraft division of United Technologies Corporation (CT)
  • 114 Patriot missiles ($2.81bn) Raytheon (MA) and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (FL)
  • Communication equipment ($340m)
  • 2 Osprey mine-hunting ships ($105m) Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (MS) and Intermarine (GA)
  • 12 Harpoon missiles ($37m) Boeing (MO)

Clinton Threatens China With Isolation Over Iran Sanctions

Clinton Threatens China With Isolation Over Iran Sanctions
China's Latest Call for Talks Enrages US
by Jason Ditz | AntiWar

Chinese officials again stressed their support for additional talks with Iran and objection to sanctions, sparking a surprising condemnation from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a long diatribe against both Iran and China, Clinton declared that it was time to “move away from the engagement track” and apply more sanctions against Iran. She warned that China would face diplomatic isolation and disruptions to its energy supply. Read more.

Dylan Ratigan: Economic Warfare Erupts

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Yesterday the Senate approved legislation to increase the national borrowing limit to $1.9 Trillion. The vote was along party lines, raising the debt ceiling to $14.3 Trillion dollars. Watch Dylan Ratigan explain the ominous implications of that debt load for our national security.

Okinawa Town Elects Mayor Who Opposes U.S. Base

Okinawa Town Elects Mayor Who Opposes U.S. Base
By Associated Press | NY Times

Japan's prime minister said Monday he may nix a key military deal with Washington on relocating U.S. troops, after a local election in Okinawa showed that residents oppose any new Marine base in their region.

Residents of Nago elected a mayor who is staunchly against moving a base there from a larger city nearby -- plans which Washington considers fundamental to its troop realignment in the region. An agreement on the relocation was made under the previous government that lost power last year.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said the results of Sunday's election reflected the will of the people, and that Japan would completely re-examine its accord with the U.S.

''The country will start from scratch on this issue and take responsibility to reach a conclusion by the end of May,'' he told reporters.

His government has repeatedly put off making a decision, risking a rift with the U.S., its main military ally, in the face of security concerns like North Korea's nuclear program and China's rising strength. Read more.

Haiti and China: A Tale of Two Earthquakes

Haiti and China: A Tale of Two Earthquakes
By Austin Ramzy | Yahoo! News | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

Looking for parallels to Haiti's catastrophe, many point to China. In May 2008, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the southwestern province of Sichuan, pancaking schoolhouses, buildings and homes and killing at least 68,000 people. But the ferocity of the tremor and a huge death toll may be the only parallels between the two quake-stricken nations.

I went back to Sichuan six months after the catastrophe and was amazed at the speed of physical and economic recovery. In Dujiangyan, the largest city in the quake zone, the rubble and the tent cities had disappeared. The jumble of debris was replaced by piles of new bricks, lumber and other construction materials. There was a building boom across the region, and dozens of temporary villages were erected to house the five million people rendered homeless by the quake. The prefab housing was made out of blue aluminum siding lined with styrofoam insulation. They had cement floors and were arranged in neat rows in flat spots at the bases of the mountains. Conditions weren't luxurious, but the camps were clean and the housing dry and fairly warm. Read more.

U.S.-China Military Tensions Grow

U.S.-China Military Tensions Grow
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

Even though the U.S. military budget is almost ten times that of China's (with a population more than four times as large) and Washington plans a record $708 billion defense budget for next year compared to Russia spending less than $40 billion last year for the same, China and Russia are portrayed as threats to the U.S. and its allies. China has no troops outside its borders; Russia has a small handful in its former territories in Abkhazia, Armenia, South Ossetia and Transdniester. The U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in six continents.

While Gates was in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and responsible for almost half of international military spending he was offended that the world's most populous nation might desire to "deny others countries the ability to threaten it."

On December 23 of last year Raytheon Company announced that it had received a $1.1 billion contact with Taiwan for the purchase of 200 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. In early January the U.S. Defense Department cleared the transaction "despite opposition from rival China, where a military official proposed sanctioning U.S. firms that sell arms to the island." [1]

The sale completes a $6.5 billion weapons package approved by the previous George W. Bush administration at the end of 2008. In the words of the Asia bureau chief of Defense News, "This is the last piece that Taiwan has been waiting on." [2]

"Peace Island" Petition To Stop US Military Missile Defense Presence to Provoke China

We, the undersigned global organizations and individuals, call upon the South Korean and US governments to cancel all plans to build a Navy base on Jeju Island. The base will destroy coral reefs that have been listed as world heritage environmental sites by the UNESCO Pand will destroy the fishing and way of life of the people.

The deployment of naval Aegis destroyers, outfitted with missile defense systems, will be used to surround and provoke China and will make Jeju Island a prime target.

Jeju is called the peace island and must remain free of provocative military bases.

To sign please reply to: globalnet@mindspring.com

Iran vs. China in Cyber War

Iran vs. China in Cyber War
By Adam Gonn | Media Line
Chinese hackers incapacitate Iranian government websites in retaliation for Iranian attacks.

Several Iranian state websites have been taken down by Chinese hackers in retaliation for Iranian attacks on China’s biggest search engine.

The websites of Iran’s supreme leader and president along with those of the ministries of defense and foreign affairs were all brought down by Chinese hackers, referring to themselves as the Honker Union, in revenge for an attack on China’s Baidu site earlier this week.

An Iranian group, the Iranian Cyber Army, claimed responsibility for the sabotage of Baidu in response to Chinese web users’ support for Iran’s opposition movement.

“The solidarity and support for the people in Iran has been limited to statements,” Iranian opposition blogger Potkin Azarmehr told The Media Line. “But this is the first cyberspace help from outside Iran on behalf of those who support the green movement.”

“It’s just more evidence to show how important cyberspace is to what’s going on in Iran,” he said. “This is probably the first revolution where it’s not just a struggle on the streets but also across cyberspace.” Read more.

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Iran, 1979 and 2010

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Iran, 1979 and 2010

The Obama administration’s Iran policy is a riddle wrapped inside a conundrum folded into a pickle.  So many signals are being sent in so many directions that it’s a wonder the Iranians (or other involved parties) have any idea what’s going on.  Barack Obama came into office pledging to reach out diplomatically to Iran.  In fact, the administration did so in only a half-hearted way, even as the president quickly began setting deadlines for the Iranians to respond (on their nuclear program) in a way Washington considered satisfactory -- or face further “crippling” sanctions.  Now, the latest of these deadlines, January 1, 2010, has passed and a move towards new sanctions, especially against companies associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls significant parts of the country's economy, is evidently being prepared.  But China, which holds the presidency of the Security Council for the month of January, recently rejected even a debate on the subject.  Like the Russians, the Chinese are deeply involved in developing long-term energy relations with Iran, which means that no sanctions which might “cripple” that country’s economy are likely to make it through the Security Council, no matter which country has the presidency....

Two Movements, Two Moments
Don’t Bet on It...Yet
By Dilip Hiro

A short review of Iran’s 31-year-old revolution is in order. In February 1979, the autocratic monarchy of the Shah collapsed when the country’s economy ground to a halt due to strikes not only by the religiously observant merchants of the bazaar, but also by civil servants, factory employees, and (crucially) leftist oil workers. At the same time, the foundations of the modern state -- the armed forces, special forces, armed police, and intelligence agencies, as well as the state-controlled media -- cracked. 

The street demonstrations, launched in October 1977 by Iranian intellectuals and professionals to protest human rights violations by SAVAK, the Shah’s brutal secret police, lacked both focus and an overarching set of coherent demands articulated by a towering personality. That changed when Khomeini, a virulently anti-Shah ayatollah exiled to neighboring Iraq for 14 years, was drawn into the process in January 1978. From then on, the ranks of the protestors swelled exponentially.

Call for Signatures Protesting Navy Base Construction that will Destroy Coral Reefs In South Korea

By Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

I try not to visit a place and then forget about the people and the struggle they are engaged in. Since my visit to Jeju Island, and the Gangjeong village last October, I have been closely following developments about the South Korean government's plan to build a Navy base where pristine coral reefs, fishing, and tangerine groves are now integral to the people's way of life.

U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean

U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

In parallel with the escalation of the war in South Asia - counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and drone missile attacks in Pakistan - the United States and its NATO allies have laid the groundwork for increased naval, air and ground operations in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.

During the past month the U.S. has carried out deadly military strikes in Yemen: Bombing raids in the north and cruise missile attacks in the south of the nation. Washington has been accused of killing scores of civilians in the attacks in both parts of the country, executed before the December 25 Northwest Airlines incident that has been used to justify the earlier U.S. actions ex post facto. And, ominously, that has been exploited to pound a steady drumbeat of demands for expanded and even more direct military intervention.

The Pentagon's publicly disclosed military and security program for Yemen grew from $4.6 million in 2006 to $67 million last year. "That figure does not include covert, classified assistance that the United States has provided." [1]

In addition, "Under a new classified cooperation agreement, the U.S. would be able to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in the country, but would remain publicly silent on its role in the airstrikes." [2]

Activist: Farmer Suicides In India Linked To Debt, Globalization

Activist: Farmer suicides in India linked to debt, globalization | CNN

Thousands of poor farmers in India have committed suicide over the past decade as changes in India's agricultural policy set off a widening spiral of debt and despair, one environmental activist said Tuesday.

"The farmer suicides started in 1997. That's when the corporate seed control started," Vandana Shiva told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "And it's directly related to indebtedness, and indebtedness created by two factors linked to globalization."

For Shiva, who works with farming communities across India, those two factors were the ceding of control of the seed supply to the corporate chemical industry -- leading to increased production costs for already-struggling farmers -- as well as falling food prices in a global agricultural economy.

An estimated 200,000 farmers have taken their own lives in India over the past 13 years, according to Indian government statistics.

"The combination is unpayable debt, and it's the day the farmer is going to lose his land for chemicals and seeds, that is the day the farmer drinks pesticide," Shiva said. "And it's totally related to a negative economy, of an agriculture that costs more in production than the farmer can ever earn." Read more.

TomDispatch: The Second Decade: The World in 2020

Tom of TomDispatch writes:

Here, in a nutshell, is the world of 2020, as seen by Michael Klare, whose expertise in energy, scarce resources, and the politics of war is well known: "For now, expect the dragon ascendant, the eagle descending, the South rising, and the planet possibly trumping all of these." In other words, while the first decade of the twenty-first century still looked at least somewhat like the world of 1999, by 2020, this planet will have a genuinely different look to it. Momentous shifts in global power relations and a changing of the imperial guard, just now becoming apparent, will be far more pronounced by that year as new actors, new trends, new concerns, and new institutions dominate the global space.

Klare tracks all of this from China's rise to America's relative descent and the increasing power and energy of the global South. But that's only part of his canny, wide-ranging analysis of where we'll be a decade from now. The kicker is that "blowback," still a political concept today, will become a natural one by 2020. As Klare writes of the imperial and other politics of the planet to come: "Nonetheless, all of this is the norm of history, no matter how dramatic it may seem to us. Less normal -- and so the wild card of the second decade (and beyond) -- is intervention by the planet itself. Blowback, which we think of as a political phenomenon, will by 2020 have gained a natural component. Nature is poised to strike back in unpredictable ways whose effects could be unnerving and possibly devastating."

The "blowback effect" -- nature paying us back for our operations against her -- is a new concept that grounds this typically provocative and carefully thought out piece by Klare.From TomDispatch this afternoon: A New Year's look deep into the future, taking up the fate of China, the United States, the Global South, and nothing short of a planet ready to strike back by 2020 -- Michael T. Klare, "The Second Decade, The World in 2020" http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175186/

The Second Decade: The World in 2020
By Michael T. Klare

As the second decade of the twenty-first century begins, we find ourselves at one of those relatively rare moments in history when major power shifts become visible to all. If the first decade of the century witnessed profound changes, the world of 2009 nonetheless looked at least somewhat like the world of 1999 in certain fundamental respects: the United States remained the world’s paramount military power, the dollar remained the world’s dominant currency, and NATO remained its foremost military alliance, to name just three.

By the end of the second decade of this century, however, our world is likely to have a genuinely different look to it. Momentous shifts in global power relations and a changing of the imperial guard, just now becoming apparent, will be far more pronounced by 2020 as new actors, new trends, new concerns, and new institutions dominate the global space. Nonetheless, all of this is the norm of history, no matter how dramatic it may seem to us. Read more.

Announcing International Conference on Achieving A Nuclear Weapons & Missile Defense Free Asia

International Conference on Achieving A Nuclear Weapons and Missile Defense Free Asia
Nagpur, India | October 9-12, 2010

Click "Read more" for Agenda, arrangements, contacts!

U.S Kill 63 Civilians, 28 Children in Yemen Air Strikes

U.S Kill 63 Civilians, 28 Children in Yemen Air Strikes
By Press TV | Information Clearing House

Yemen's Houthi fighters say scores of civilians, including many children, have been killed in US air-raids in the southeast of the war-stricken Arab country.

The Shia fighters on Friday reported the deaths of 63 people, including some 28 children, in the southeastern province of Abyan.

Almost 90 people were also injured in the attacks by US warplanes in the village of Bakazam, they added.

Yemen's southern provinces have recently been the scene of US airstrikes which Washington claims to be aimed at uprooting an al-Qaeda cell operative in the Persian Gulf state. Read more.

The Week the IAEA Applied a Nuclear Double Standard

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (IPS) - In 2004, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that a member state had violated its Safeguards Agreement by carrying out covert uranium conversion and enrichment activities and plutonium experiments for more than two decades. The nature of certain of those enrichment activities, moreover, raised legitimate suspicions of interest in a nuclear weapons programme.

The state was found to have lied to the IAEA even when it began investigating these suspicious activities, claiming that its laser enrichment research did not involve any use of nuclear material.

If that sounds like a description of Iran's troubled relationship with the IAEA up to 2004, that's because it bears striking resemblance to it. In fact, however, it is a description of the deception of the IAEA by the government of South Korea.

"Why Are We in Afghanistan?" Debuts at US Labor Against the War Conference

Why Are We In Afghanistan? Trailer from Why Afghanistan? on Vimeo.

"Why Are We in Afghanistan?" Debuts at US Labor Against the War Conference By John Braxton

I just returned from the US Labor Against the War Assembly in Chicago, December 4-6. There were lots of high points, including the fact that oil workers from the U.S. got together with the heads of the oil unions in Iraq and Venezuela.

But for me the most exciting part was the release of a new 28-minute DVD entitled "Why Are We in Afghanistan?" I admit to being biased, as I participated in the early drafts of the DVD, but I think it will be a great tool for educating and mobilizing union members to oppose the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Education about the facts and the costs of the war was the number one item in USLAW’s Plan of Action; the hope is to show it at union meetings at all levels. There’s also a ten-minute version.

Links to video versions.

We have our work cut out for us. Many people who opposed the Iraq war are torn about the war in Afghanistan. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was and is a haven for Al Qaeda cells. "Why Are We in Afghanistan?" helps to answer these doubts. Click "Read more."

A Sharp Turn Toward Another Vietnam

A sharp turn toward another Vietnam
By George McGovern | Washington Post

As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam. After doing all I could to save our troops and the Vietnamese people from a senseless conflict, I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again.

I was wrong. Today, I am astounded at the Obama administration's decision to escalate the equally mistaken war in Afghanistan, and as I listen to our talented young president explain why he is adding 30,000 troops -- beyond the 21,000 he had added already -- I can only think: another Vietnam. I hope I am incorrect, but history tells me otherwise.

Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all believed that the best way to save the government in Saigon and defeat Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Cong insurgents was to send in U.S. troops. But the insurgency only grew stronger, even after we had more than 500,000 troops fighting and dying in Vietnam.

We have had tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan for several years, and we have employed an even larger number of mercenaries (or "contractors," as they're called these days). As in Vietnam, the insurgent forces are stronger than ever, and the Afghan government is as corrupt as the one we backed in Saigon.

Why do we send young Americans to risk life and limb on behalf of such worthless regimes? The administration says we need to fight al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But the major al-Qaeda forces are in Pakistan. Read more.

From Hiroshima to Gaza

From Hiroshima to Gaza
By Hisae Ogawa

The first time I met and had a chance to talk to Palestinian women was back in 1975, the United Nations International Women’s Year. I was then working for the Women’s International Democrat Federation (WIDF), one of the Non-Governmental Agencies accredited by the United Nations.

WIDF’s head office was in East Berlin, the capitol of the German Democratic Republic. It had over 100 member groups all around the world and representatives that were called “secretaries” were sent from more than ten countries from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. At the time the General Secretary of WIDF was from Argentina and the President was from Australia. It was indeed an international place. But at the same time I was so disturbed to see the East Berliners suffered lack of freedom due to the wall dividing the city.

One of my co-workers was a young girl from Iraq. She was working hard trying to cover the whole issues in the Middle East. From her I learned what was happening in the Middle East.

It was through her that I got to know the Palestinian issue and made friends with Palestinian women. One day she brought some women from Palestine to the WIDF office. They were touring Europe to publicize their plight. They said Israel was doing the same things to Palestinian people as the Nazis had done to the Jewish people during the World War II.

U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents

U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

The U.S. (and Britain) began bombing the Afghan capital of Kabul on October 7, 2001 with Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships and submarines and bombs dropped from warplanes and shortly thereafter American special forces began ground operations, a task that has been conducted since by regular Army and Marine units. The bombing and the ground combat operations continue more than eight years later and both will be intensified to record levels in short order.

The combined U.S. and NATO forces would represent a staggering number, in excess of 150,000 soldiers. By way of comparison, as of September of this year there were approximately 120,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and only a small handful of other nations' personnel, those assigned to the NATO Training Mission - Iraq, remaining with them.

"Secretary Gates has made clear that the conflicts we're in should be at the very forefront of our agenda. He wants to make sure we're not giving up capabilities needed now for those needed for some unknown future conflict. He wants to make sure the Pentagon is truly on war footing....For the first time in decades, the political and economic stars are aligned for a fundamental overhaul of the way the Pentagon does business."

Over the past ten years citizens of the United States and other Western nations, and unfortunately most of the world, have become accustomed to Washington and its military allies in Europe and those appointed as armed outposts on the periphery of the "Euro-Atlantic community" engaging in armed aggression around the world.

Wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq and lower profile military operations and surrogate campaigns in nations as diverse as Colombia, Yemen, the Philippines, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Ossetia and elsewhere have become an unquestioned prerogative of the U.S. and its NATO partners. So much so that many have forgotten to consider how comparable actions have been or might be viewed if a non-Western nation attempted them.

Innocent Uighurs Still Detained at Guantánamo after Being Cleared for Release Since As Long Ago As 2003 Ask SC to Set Them Free


Innocent Uighurs Still Detained at Guantánamo after Being Cleared for Release Since As Long Ago As 2003 Ask Supreme Court to Set Them Free | Press Release


"To the founders of this republic, freedom was a national conviction. Today neither the President nor the Congress has the courage of that conviction. We urge the Court to remind us all of our ancient trust, and at last set these men free."

December 4, 2009, New York – Today, attorneys asked the Supreme Court to allow seven men who remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay despite being cleared for release to be released into the United States when there is no other remedy available. The men, Uighurs from the East Turkestan region of China, are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Bingham McCutchen LLP, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Miller & Chevalier, Baker & McKenzie LLP, Reprieve and Elizabeth Gilson.

This will be the first time the Court hears a Guantánamo case since it decided the landmark cases brought by CCR and co-counsel, Boumediene v. Bush, in June 2008, and the first time the Obama administration will defend a Guantánamo case before the high court.

Said Sabin Willett, of Bingham McCutchen, lead attorney for the Uighur detainees:

"Today we have asked the Supreme Court to free Uighur clients who now pass their eighth year in the Guantanamo prison. The courts and the Defense Department have said they are neither enemies nor criminals. They fled from communism, and were taken in error. Companions live in Europe and Bermuda, and yet we imprison them still. These men are a living rebuke to America’s boast to be a freedom-loving people.

US Naval Intelligence Views Iran's Naval Forces

U.S. NAVAL INTELLIGENCE VIEWS IRAN'S NAVAL FORCES
By Steven Aftergood | Secrecy News

A new report (pdf) from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence describes Iran's naval order of battle, as well as the Iranian Navy's history, strategic options, and favored tactics.

"Today, Iran's naval forces protect Iranian waters and natural resources, especially Iran's petroleum-related assets and industries. Iranian maritime security operations guard against the smuggling of illegal goods (especially drugs) and immigrants, and protect against the poaching and stealing of fish in territorial waters."

"Additionally, Iran uses its naval forces for political ends such as naval diplomacy and strategic messaging. Most of all, Iranian naval forces are equipped to defend against perceived external threats. Public statements by Iranian leaders indicate that they would consider closing or controlling the Strait of Hormuz if provoked, thereby cutting off almost 30 percent of the world's oil supply."

The unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment was published on the Office of Naval Intelligence website, but last week it was abruptly withdrawn, along with another ONI report on China's navy. A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News. See "Iran's Naval Forces: From Guerilla (sic) Warfare to a Modern Naval Strategy," Fall 2009.

Bill Moyers Journal: LBJ's Path to War

Bill Moyers, of PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, began this week's program this way:

Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama's mind. He is apparently, about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another president, Lyndon B. Johnson.

I was 30 years old, a White House Assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam. He had been thrust into office by the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963-- 46 years ago this weekend. And within hours of taking the oath of office was told that the situation in South Vietnam was far worse than he knew.

Less than four weeks before Kennedy's death, the South Vietnamese president had himself been assassinated in a coup by his generals, a coup the Kennedy Administration had encouraged.

South Vietnam was in chaos, and even as President Johnson tried to calm our own grieving country, in those first weeks in office, he received one briefing after another about the deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia. Read the transcript, watch the videos.

Missile Defense on the Peace Island

By Bruce K. Gagnon, globalnet@mindspring.com

I just got home from 3-weeks in South Korea. It was quite a trip.

During my last two days I was visiting Jeju Island (about 500 miles south of the Korean peninsula) which is recognized by UNESCO as being a place of world class environmental quality and one that hosts many endangered forms of corals and other sea life. To say it is a jewel would be an understatement.

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