Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Afghan Update: Can the US Win?

Afghan Update: Can the US Win?

Thomas Riggins

The following speculations are based on logical deductions from the report found in the NYT of 6-25-10 ["Pakistan Is Said to Pursue An Afghanistan Foothold] by Jane Petlez, Eric Schmitt and Carlotta Gall. I assume that the empirical descriptions and claims are factual but do not rely on any of the conclusions and opinions expressed by the authors.

This was the lead article on the front page of the Times for that day. It has a very revealing subtitle: "Exploiting Troubled U.S. Military Effort in Selling Itself as New Karzai Partner." This subtitle indicates several things: 1. Pakistan is not a true US ally but it is only using the US to further its own interests in the region (allies don't "exploit" each other. 2. President Karzai is in the market for a new ally since the US military effort is messed up. 3. "Troubled U.S. Military Effort" is code for "losing military effort" since after nine years of war in an undeveloped peasant country the US seems to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off not knowing what to do or when to do it.

The article reports that the actions of Pakistan will increase its influence in Afghanistan "but is likely to undermine United States interests, Pakistani and American officials said." That's great: both our "ally" and we agree they are out to undermine us (and the US will pay for the bill due to the hugh amounts of military aid and money we give to Pakistan).

But our INTERESTS are supposed to be to get rid of al-Qaeda and strengthen the Afghan government. Well Karzai doesn't want to be weaker so that's not why he is listening to the sales pitch. Therefore Pakistan is trying to help out al-Qaeda. OR our INTERESTS are not what we say they are. Fighting al-Qaeda (and the Taliban) are just pretexts given to the American people to keep them ignorant and uniformed.

Here is what Pakistan is offering to Karzai. The warlord SIRAJUDDIN HAQQANI is a major ally of Al-Quaeda and he "runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan." The head of the Pakistani army Gen. ASHFAQ PARVEZ (our ally?) is telling Karzai that he can bring the warlord (the General's friend?) over to Karzai in a "power-sharing" agreement. The General has also offered to "personally" get "the Taliban leadership" (also his buddies?) to sign on, along with some "proxies" (whose "proxies"?).

Well, Sirajuddin Haqqani, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban (and proxies) are just the groups the US is fighting. Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of trying to get them and Karzai set up as a new Afghani government, Pakistan and Gen. Parvez would clue us in on how to defeat them or at least how better protect our troops. Perhaps Karzai, Parvez and company see the US as "dead man walking"-- they know we are through: it will just take us a few billion more dollars, thousands of more dead people, double digit unemployment and the complete deterioration of what's left of the economy (for regular people) before we get the hint.

Enter another player: Lt. Gen. AHMAD SHUJA PASHA (the "spy chief"). It is well known that Pakistan walks both sides of street-- getting funding from the US and passing it along to elements in the insurgency that work as its agents. The Times reports that both Parvez and Pasha are in agreement with President Karzai that the US isn't getting anywhere in Afghanistan and that after the war he should incorporate the Haqqani forces into a new government. The Times refers to Haqqani's forces as "a longtime Pakistani asset." These forces are a major part of the "insurgent" forces killing our troops. Pakistan is ally to die for!

When the war is finally over, and the US pulls out, the final deal-- brokered by Pakistan and the new Karzai government may not "guarantee Washington's prime objective in the war: denying Al Qaeda a haven." If this is the best news from the front that our "newspaper of record" is bringing us after nine years of slaughter, what reason is there for one more US soldier to be killed over there?

Pakistan keeps the Haqqani forces around to use against INDIA. What Pakistan wants is to get India out of Kashmir, the American sideshow in Afghanistan is just a diversion from that ultimate goal. The Times reports that Indian targets in Afghanistan are hit by the Haqqani forces and some times they attack US troops: "a possible signal from the Pakistanis to the Americans that it is in their interests too, to embrace a deal."

Excuse me! But if Pakistan's proxies are killing US troops isn't that a causus belli? Why are we giving a billion dollars to the Pakistani military when it is ordering attacks on US troops? Well it's not a causus belli but it is a causus for whining. General Petraeus informed Congress recently that both Kabul and Bagram Air base suffered major attacks from the Haqqani forces. He informed Gen. Kayani (as if he didn't know already). "Your guys are killing my guys." "I'm shocked! I'll look into it at once. Don't forget the rest of the money you are supposed to send us." "Oh, it's coming. We always pay our allies."

The special envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, was asked about melding Haqqani into the Afghan government. He didn't think it possible but said "Who knows?" Now there is a long range plan.

Meanwhile Inter-Sevices-Intellegence, Lt. Gen. Pasha's spy, agency is busy convincing Karsai that the US can't win. The American plan for Afghanistan "will not succeed" the ISI said. I expect the CIA told Karsai, "Who knows?"

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas (Pakistani Army) said: "The American timetable for getting out makes it easier for Pakistan to play a more visible role." What does Pakistan want? It wants "hard core Taliban fighters" included in the final settlement. Those are the people we say we are fighting[ we may deal with "moderate" Taliban] because of their support of Al Qaeda and 9/11. In other words, Pakistan is working to help defeat the US. I'm beginning to think McChrystal gave that interview to Rolling Stone so that he would be fired. He didn't want to be around for the grand finale.

To give cover to its plans Pakistan says that the Haqqanis are willing to dump Al Qaeda (many experts think this is just to make the Americans feel better or a "tactical move" to fool Pakistan). But Gen. Kayani wants to broker a deal with two other leaders of the "insurgents" to fit into Karzai's post war government: the Taliban leader MULLAH MUHAMMAD OMAR and GULBUDDIN HEKMATYAR an insurgent warlord and ally of Pakistan.

[Hekmatyar is a former "freedom fighter" when he fought the Soviets, now of course he is fighting us so he is a "terrorist." This is the level of seriousness of our government and the press when explaining the reality of the war to the American people-tr]

Will Karsai even have a postwar government? Who Knows?

Friday, June 25, 2010

BP Up to its Old Tricks--( and the Government Too?)

Thomas Riggins

So it seems like it is still "Drill Baby Drill" at BP and with its friends in the government. BP is about to start a new ocean drilling project around three miles off the coast of Alaska, even as millions of gallons of oil still are pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. [Cf. "BP Is Pursuing Alaska Drilling Some Call Risky-- NYT 6-24-10].

Obama said he had stopped all new drilling offshore in the Arctic. So why is BP proceeding? It brought out tons of gravel and dumped them in the Beaufort Sea until it built up a 31 acre pile to a depth of around 22 feet, called it an island, and stuck its oil rig on top of it.

So now BP says they are not drilling in water so the rules that should apply to them are those of "on shore" NOT "off shore" drilling. And, Lo and Behold! The federal regulators agreed and gave the rig "on shore" status-- even though it is sitting three miles off shore! And BP has the worst environmental and safety record of any big oil company (they all have horrible records anyway).

BP already has its environmental permits approved by the feds (under Bush) and the state-- the government just accepted BP's own environmental impact statement and did not bother to do their own (how can you not trust BP?).

By the way, this well is an experimental project-- good luck Alaska. Also good luck to the bowhead whales-- the rig sits next to their migration route.

There is hope this madness can be stopped. BP has to file one last paper before it can begin to drill and the Obama administration can withhold permission-- let's hope it does and cancels this monstrosity left over from the Bush regime.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Fall of General McChrystal

Thomas Riggins

After reading the Rolling Stone article that brought down McChrystal, I can only say that Obama really had no other choice but to "accept his resignation"--i.e., fire him. The arrogance and contempt shown by the general and his immediate staff towards the president and his team, of which McChrystal was obstensively a part, is hard to understand. What planet did McChrystal and his staff think they were living on to make such inflammatory comments about the president and vice president and other members of the administration?

However, there is even a greater story here than the downfall of an unwise general. Below is the conclusion to the Rolling Stone article which indicates that Afghanistan is a LOST CAUSE.

"After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN [Counter Insurgency--tr] seeks to win over – the Afghan people – do not want us there. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive [the surge], and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. "Throwing money at the problem exacerbates the problem," says Andrew Wilder, an expert at Tufts University who has studied the effect of aid in southern Afghanistan. "A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we're picking winners and losers" – a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word "victory" when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge. "

Note the following:

1. THE TALIBAN IS TOO STRONG FOR THE US TO OPENLY ATTACK.
2. THE AFGHAN PEOPLE DO NOT WANT US THERE.
3. SO FAR ALL THE US HAS DONE IS BRING ABOUT PERPETUAL WAR.
4. WINNING THIS WAR SEEMS NOT REALLY POSSIBLE.

This pessimism is only greater if you read the entire article. So while Obama was right to get rid of McChrystal, he is making a great mistake in taking the American people down the road of perpetuating this meaningless war. This was Bush's war, Bush's lunacy. We must convince Obama to abandon it or it will destroy his presidency and open the doors of reaction here at home.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New York Times Article on Obama Out of Line

Thomas Riggins

An article in the today's NYT (6-22-10) crosses the line between reporting and Glen Beck style defamation against President Obama. An article by Kevin Sack and Sheryl Gay Stolberg ["As Law Takes Effect, Obama Warns Insurers on Big Rate Increases"] reports that health care reform was helped through Congress due to Obama's "vilification of insurers." "Vilification" means, according to most dictionaries, and Wikepedia:

"Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always [in Wales and parts of England--tr] a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant)." [Wikepedia]

In fact Obama only said was everyone knows were the practices of the insurance
industry: denying coverage for preconditions, putting caps on payments, leaving millions of people out of the insurance pool, putting profits first, etc.

To report that the president engaged in "vilification" in a supposed news story is irresponsible and partisan, and the New York Times, which claims in its ads that it "employs the best journalists in the world, and the there is no disputing that", is a form of the worst yellow journalism and should be protested by all Times readers interested in factual reporting and not right-wing slander.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chinese Workers Make Gains

Thomas Riggins

It is nice to read the following in the New York Times (2-21-10): "Chinese workers are much more willing these days to defend their rights and demand higher wages , ENCOURAGED BY RECENT POLICIES FROM THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT [read The Communist Party of China--tr] aimed at protecting laborers and closing the income gap."

There is nothing strange about a worker's government defending workers, although the NYT speculates about the motives of the CP (fear of a Solidarity type movement , and other theories not actually based on the evidence presented in the article).

Sticking to just the facts the article reveals that China has enacted laws protecting the rights of working people and that class consciousness is on the rise with more and more working people fighting back against their exploitation by capitalists who are regulated, but not suppressed, by the government as it tries to manage economic growth by a "socialist market economy."

The Chinese government, because of its socialist underpinnings, has been more active in fighting unemployment and job losses than its capitalist counterparts in the the US, Japan, and the EU.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Ruling coalition in South Africa Breaking Up?

Thomas Riggins

I hope not, but the New York Times' Celia W. Dugger reports (6-2-10) that
the 2 million strong labor federation COSATU has stated it will quit the African National Congress if its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is sanctioned for critical comments he made about the ANC.

Mr.Vati said that the ANC was seen as "soft" about government ministers engaged in corruption. I hope COASATU and the ANC don't split up. Mr. Vati has the right, in my way of thinking, to express his opinions and it is wrong to punish people for expressing themselves.

South African democracy must protect and not punish people because of critical comments. The better action for the ANC would be to prove Mr. Vati incorrect or to correct the conditions he has complained about.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

GERMAN PRESIDENT TELLS TRUTH LOSES JOB

Thomas Riggins

The perils of capitalist politics have claimed another victim, According to The New York Times [6-1-10] German President Horst K√∂hler resigned on Monday because of the flack he received for a comment he made while horsting around in Afghanistan. He said that German troops serving in Afghanistan and other overseas stations were, as the Times reports, “deployed to protect German economic interests.” Meine Gute!

Anybody on the German Left knows that already-- but Horst is an ally of Angela Merkel and Conservatives don’t make comments like that-- even though they are perfectly true. The US certainly has its troops deployed around the world to back up its economic interests and where German interests coincide with those of Big Brother they will be showing up, but not in such large numbers, to at least give some moral support.

Let this be a warning to others not to slip up and let the cannon fodder find out what is really going on. It’s called Imperialism folks, and it's not about freedom, democracy, or human rights