Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category
By Farhang Jahanpour
I have just spent a couple of miserable hours reading General Michael Flynn’s and Michael Ledeen’s book, The Field Of Flight. He will be President Trump’s national security adviser. And, frankly, I don’t know where to begin.
As someone who is opposed to the regime of the mullahs and would like to see the end of that regime through peaceful and democratic means, I truly cannot understand the reason for what one can call the irrational hostility and the depth of hatred of people like Flynn and Michael Ledeen towards Iran. Of course they are entitled to their feelings of hatred and hostility towards Iran and Muslims as a whole, but they are not entitled to their facts.
It is really amazing to see how without any concern for the facts Flynn jumps from one subject to another, Read the rest of this entry »
By Gareth Porter
After retired Lt. Gen. Michael J. Flynn spoke at the Republican National Convention, The Washington Post captured the prevailing media view of Flynn in the headline: “He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.”
Now that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Flynn as his national security adviser, media coverage has given prominence to the more serious issue of Flynn’s denunciation of Islam as a “cancer” and other manifestations of his embrace of Islamophobia. But the mainstream media view of Flynn’s military record ignores his pivotal role in devising a targeting scheme that was the basis for an indiscriminate Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) campaign of killing and incarcerating Afghans suspected of being in the Taliban insurgency. The corporate media, which have never examined that dark chapter in the history of the Afghanistan war critically, have long treated the campaign as one of the few success stories of the war.
By Jonathan Power
November 8th 2016.
An interesting question is what would happen to American foreign policy if President Barack Obama were allowed to have another four year term in office?
It would be a less interventionist presidency than what is about to become. This is not to say that I think the way Obama has handled the war in Afghanistan has been successful. Nor do I believe the attack on Libya was a sensible idea. Nor do I think the way he dealt with Russia and Ukraine in the last four years has been anything but counterproductive.
But I do believe the world would be an even messier place if he had not been president. Syria would have been invaded with ground troops. Iraq would have been replicated.
I think confrontation with China over the ownership of the contested islands in the South China and East China seas would have been more serious than it has been.
There would have been no bringing back Cuba in from the cold. (Cuba was the home of the missile crisis of 1962 when the world came terrifyingly near to a nuclear war.)
Most important, there would have been no nuclear deal with Iran. Iran’s research which could have led to the making of a nuclear bomb (not that I think it had any intention of going that far) would have continued.
At some point Israel would have bombed Iran’s reactors Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
September 6th 2016
The French ambassador to the US from 1902 to 1924, Jean-Jules Jusserand, observed that distant powers could not easily threaten the US because “On the north, she has a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east fish and on the west, fish”.
The coming of the submarine-based nuclear missile has not changed that. Apart from the fact that no enemy would dare use them for fear of retaliation, and that there is no country in the world that feels that hostile to America (accept North Korea), the fact is America is too big and too far away to be invaded and dominated. There could not be a blitzkrieg by a foreign army across the mid-west or a Vichy America.
The real tragedy of 9/11 is just as a majority of the US electorate had settled into a post-Cold War comfort zone with the new president, George W. Bush, not being overly pushy or confrontational in foreign affairs, America was jolted so badly that a large proportion of its electorate – maybe half – has been paranoid ever since. Enemies are once again seen under the bed.
Enough of the electorate have persuaded themselves that they are insecure Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
The third article in the TFF series on The New Cold War
We are witnessing a remarkable increase in tension between the US/NATO and Russia these years – and it can not only be explained by whatever we choose to think happened in Ukraine and Crimea. We find a totally new effort on both sides to use social and other media to tell how dangerous “they” are to “us”. There is a clear tendency to “fearology” – to instill fear in the citizens on both sides about the capabilities and intentions of the other side.
Why is the new tension rising in Europe between US/NATO and Russia so manifestly dangerous and – with the exception of the Cuban Missile Crisis worse than during the First Cold War?
On a series of indicators, the political Western world – US/NATO/EU and Christian (Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic with sects) – is becoming weak relative to other players in the global society.
The West has engaged in a series of wars that turned into very costly fiascos – from what followed from Sykes-Picot which turned 100 in May 2016 over Vietnam to the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The West is still the largest economic bloc and the 28 NATO members cover about 70% of the world’s mind-boggling US $ 1700 billion military expenditures. Africa as a continent, BRICS countries – China in particular – are making progress, also in fields where the West has failed; for instance, China has lifted 400 million Chinese out of poverty in a couple of decades. The wealthy West has done nothing of the sort over centuries but produced a grotesquely, perversely unequal income distribution.
Take a look at the graphs linked to this summary page from SIPRI. They will tell you how world military expenditures in constant prices have risen since 1996 even though the Warsaw Pact had been dissolved. In 2015, the US alone stands for 36% of the world’s military expenditures, China for 13% and Russia for4%.
President Obama stated recently that the US military is stronger than the next 8 – here is what he said in his State of the Union Address on January 12th, 2016:
“I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker,” Obama said in his last annual State of the Union address Jan. 12, 2016. “Let me tell you something: The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”
In spite of these fact that prove the overwhelming and increasing superiority of today’s NATO, we see a constantly increasing propaganda coming out of NATO circles to the effect that NATO is getting weaker and that Russia a formidable, unreliable power just waiting for the next opportunity to invade some country in the West.
Let’s take a look back in time. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
Or, where there is a will there is a way*
Once again Denmark appears in the international community and media for the wrong things, this time for a law package with three main, draconian anti-refugee laws. One legalises stealing – that’s what it is – valuables owned by refugees upon arrival if they exceed US$ 1450; the second cuts down on the already meagre daily benefit and the third extends the family reuinion period from 1 to 3 years.
81 MPs voted yes, 27 No, 1 abstained and 70 MPs were absent. The main argument is that Denmark wants to “signal” that asylum seekers should go elsewhere. Otherwise marketing-conscious politicians have overlooked that there are millions upon millions out there who are not asylum seekers and they get an extremely bad impression of Denmark. Like they did when Denmark put ads in Middle Eastern newspaper some time ago to deter potential refugees.
The three laws – of which the first clearly provokes memories of what the Nazis did to the Jews – are just a peak point in a long (mal)development of Denmark’s foreign policy. It can be characterised by incremental absence of ethics, solidarity, compassion, empathy and sound human judgement – all concepts outside the domain of ‘real’ politics – combined with increased interventionism, militarism and lofty contempt for international laws.
By passing these laws, the country’s parliamentarians – with a few exceptions – have soiled the image of the country abroad even more and for a very long time ahead, one must fear.
It is not unreasonable to assume that terrorists will pay attention to this development which is de facto targetting refugees which are almost 100% Muslims.
Many Danish citizens including myself now recognise that ‘Dane’ rhymes with ‘Shame’. This trend in Danish policitics doesn’t happen in our name.
Once upon a time
Denmark used to be known and appreciated around the world Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
Yesterday in Kabul the so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group – comprising representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US – met to hold discussions on a roadmap to peace in Afghanistan.
A former Taliban senior official said that “military confrontation is not the solution” and that a “political solution” was needed to end the war in Afghanistan. “The motivation for peace talks was very weak in the past,” Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said. “But now the situation has changed and the parties seem to have a readiness for dialogue.”
Speaking before the meeting, Sartaj Aziz, the shrewd foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said that “the primary objective of the reconciliation process is to create conditions to bring the Taliban groups to the negotiation table and offer them incentives that can persuade them to move away from using violence as a tool for pursuing political goals”.
Some have compared these negotiations to those between the Vietcong and the Americans Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
Even today in many different ways the US and Russia remain close. There is cooperation in space, not least the International Space Station. The US regularly hires Russian rockets to launch its crews to the Station and to launch satellites. Russia sells advanced rocket engines to the US. Russia allows war material en route to Afghanistan to pass through its territory on Russian trains.
Russia worked hand in glove with the US to successfully remove the large stocks of chemical weapons possessed by Syria. It shares intelligence on Muslim extremists including ISIS. Conceivably it could enter the battle against ISIS.
It has encouraged Western investment including joint oil exploration of the Artic. Recently it stood side by side with the US and the EU as they forged an agreement with Iran on its nuclear industry. At the UN Security Council Russia and the US voted together for a resolution approving the agreement. President Barack Obama phoned President Vladimir Putin to thank him.
US diplomats are now conceding that Russia’s claim that the neo-fascist so-called “Right Sector” in Ukraine is wrecking havoc is true. The Right Sector in the eyes of many was a key – and violent – element in the success of last year’s Maidan demonstrations that toppled President Viktor Yanukovich.
When the Russian, French and German foreign ministers hammered out an agreement with the support of Ukraine’s parliamentary opposition for Yanukovich to step down at the next election the West totally “forgot” about it in the next few days as the Maidan demonstators drove Yanukovich into exile. Washington and other Western capitals supported the “democratic revolution” rather than demanding the fulfillment of the agreement. No wonder Putin was livid.
What is now needed in Western capitals is an acknowledgement that they have not always got Russia and Putin right. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
What is terrorism? Why do we talk much more about that than other types of deaths? Why is the word misused? What has nuclear weapons – that politicians and media hardly ever talk about – got to do with terror? Why should we all be careful not to exaggerate the phenomenon of terror?
10 x more terrorism than before 9/11
Tell you what: I’ve been critical of the ”war on terror” since September 12, 2001 and particularly since 10/7 when the war on Afghanistan started. If the War on Terror was the answer to 9/11, the U.S. and its friends asked the wrong questions.
Because, what has been the result?
According to U.S. statistics at the time, in the years up to the horrific crime in New York, about 1,000-1,500 people were hit by terror per year worldwide; 1/3 of whom died, the rest were wounded. Most of it happened in South America, some in Europe; small groups such as Baader-Meinhof.
Almost 3,000 were killed on 9/11, many nationalities, far from only American citizens. (About 30,000 die annually from shooting each other).
Today? About 18,000 were killed in terror in 2013.
Although data may not be directly comparable or definitions be the same, the difference between 1,500 and 18,000 cannot be explained by methodological and other variations. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
Here is a list of 15 current conflicts-violence relations, avoiding identifying conflicts with violent conflict arenas:
USA-Japan-South Korea vs North Korea vs China
USA-ASEAN vs China-Taiwan and Japan vs Korea over China Sea islands
USA-NATO-Japan vs China-Russia-SCO over encircling
USA-EU vs Russia over Ukraine-Georgia membership in NATO-EU
USA-led coalition/NATO vs Many, diverse parties in Afghanistan
USA-led coalition/NATO vs Many, diverse parties in Iraq
USA-Shia-Iran(?) vs Arabia-Sunni-caliphate/ISIS-Turkey(?)
Kurds vs Turkey-Syria-Iraq-Iran over autonomy
Israel vs Palestine over The Holy Land/Cana’an
USA-Israel vs Arab-Muslim countries over Israel vs Palestine
USA vs 134 states over terrorism using state torture-sniping-droning
USA-UK-Canada-Australia-New Zealand (“Five eyes”) vs the World, spying
USA vs China (USA-EU vs Eurasia) over the shape of geopolitics
USA-UK-France-Italy-Norway vs Libya-Mali-Sudan-Somalia etc. in Africa
USA vs Latin America/Caribbean over equality of the Americas
The most striking feature is, indeed, the presence of one country, USA, in almost all of them. Why? Read the rest of this entry »