Friday, October 31, 2008

NATO Reaches Into The Indian Ocean

By M K Bhadrakumar
October 21, 2008
Courtesy Of
Asia Times Online

The informal meeting of the defense ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries in Budapest, Hungary, on October 9-10 was notable for three reasons.

One, it was United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' last engagement with his NATO counterparts. Unsurprisingly, there was curiosity whether Gates would bring to bear on NATO's Afghan war any new thinking. But that was not to be, as a strategy review is still underway in Washington.

Two, it emerged that the alliance sanctioned more muscle power for the war by authorizing NATO to use force against Afghan poppy cultivators and drug traffickers - a controversial decision which troubles many member countries.

Three, the Budapest meet deliberated on issues regarding the transformation of the alliance. Despite the global financial crisis, there was no loss of US hegemony. The NATO-Georgia Commission, created at the US's insistence, met on October 10 for the first time and the alliance reiterated its commitment to continue the supervisory process set in hand at the Bucharest summit in April "with a view to Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations". A somewhat vague formulation short of Tbilisi's expectation, but a step forward nonetheless on the path of the alliance's expansion as charted by the US.

A Well-Planned Move

The most far-reaching decision at the Budapest meet was NATO's decision to establish a naval presence in the Indian Ocean, ostensibly for protecting World Food Program ships carrying relief for famine-stricken Somalia.

Announcing the decision on October 10, a NATO spokesman said, "The United Nations asked for NATO's help to address this problem [piracy off Somalia's coast]. Today, the ministers agreed that NATO should play a role. NATO will have its Standing Naval Maritime Group, which is composed of seven ships, in the region within two weeks." He added that NATO would work with "all allies who have ships in the area now".

By October 15, seven ships from NATO navies had already transited the Suez Canal on their way to the Indian Ocean. En route, they will conduct a series of Persian Gulf port visits to countries neighboring Iran - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which are NATO's "partners" within the framework of the so-called Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. The mission comprises ships from the US, Britain, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General John Craddock, acknowledged that the mission furthers the alliance's ambition to become a global political organization. He said, "The threat of piracy is real and growing in many parts of the world today, and this response is a good illustration of NATO's ability to adapt quickly to new security challenges."

Evidently, NATO has been carefully planning its Indian Ocean deployment. The speed with which it dispatched the ships betrays an element of haste, likely anticipating that some among the littoral states in the Indian Ocean region might contest such deployment by a Western military alliance. By acting with lightning speed and without publicity, NATO surely created a fait accompli.

String Of Coincidences

By any reckoning, NATO's naval deployment in the Indian Ocean region is a historic move and a milestone in the alliance's transformation. Even at the height of the Cold War, the alliance didn't have a presence in the Indian Ocean. Such deployments almost always tend to be open-ended.

In retrospect, the first-ever visit by a NATO naval force in mid-September last year to the Indian Ocean was a full-dress rehearsal to this end. Brussels said at that time, "The aim of the mission is to demonstrate NATO's capability to uphold security and international law on the high seas and build links with regional navies." In 2007, a NATO naval force visited Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and Somalia and conducted exercises in the Indian Ocean and then re-entered the Mediterranean via the Red Sea in end-September.

The NATO deployment has already had some curious fallout. In an interesting coincidence, on October 16, just as the NATO force was reaching the Persian Gulf, an Indian Defense Ministry spokesman announced in New Delhi, "The [Indian] government today approved deployment of an Indian naval warship in the Gulf of Aden to patrol the normal route followed by Indian-flagged ships during passage between Salalah in Oman and Aden in Yemen. "The patrolling is commencing immediately."

The timing seems deliberate. Media reports indicated that the government had been working on this decision for several months. Like NATO, Delhi also acted fast when the time came, and an Indian ship has already set sail. Delhi initially briefed the media that the deployment came in the wake of an incident of Somali pirates hijacking a Japanese-owned merchant vessel on August 15, which had 18 Indians on board. But later, it backtracked and gave a broader connotation, saying, "However, the current decision to patrol African waters is not directly related [to the incident in August]."

The Indian statement said, "The presence of an Indian navy warship in this area will be significant as the Gulf of Aden is a major strategic choke point in the Indian Ocean region and provides access to the Suez Canal through which a sizeable portion of India's trade flows."

Indian officials said the warship would work in cooperation with the Western navies deployed in the region and would be supplemented with a larger force if need and that it would be well equipped. But Delhi obfuscated the fact that the Western deployment will be under the NATO flag and any cooperation with the Western navies will involve the Western alliance. Given the traditional Indian policy to steer clear of military blocs, Delhi is understandably sensitive.

Clearly, the Indian warship will eventually have to work in tandem with the NATO naval force. This will be the first time that the Indian armed forces will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with NATO forces in actual operations in territorial or international waters.

The operations hold the potential to shift India's ties with NATO to a qualitatively new level. The US has been encouraging India to forge ties with NATO as well as play a bigger role in maritime security affairs. The two countries have a bilateral protocol relating to cooperation in maritime security, which was signed in 2006. It says at the outset, "Consistent with their global strategic partnership and the new framework for their defense relationship, India and the United States committed themselves to comprehensive cooperation in ensuring a secure maritime domain. In doing so, they pledged to work together, and with other regional partners as necessary."

The Indian Navy command has been raring to go in the direction of close partnership with the US Navy in undertaking security responsibilities far beyond its territorial waters. The two navies have instituted an annual large-scale annual exercise in the Indian Ocean - the Malabar exercises. This year's exercises are currently under way along India's western coast.

Russia Reviving Base

To be sure, the littoral states would have taken note of the scrambling by NATO and India to deploy naval forces on a sea route that is crucial for the countries of the Asian region. Trade and imports of oil by China pass through this sea lane. All the same, China has merely reported on the NATO deployment without any comments. Russia, on the other hand, didn't bother to report but preferred to swiftly respond.

Last Tuesday, even as the NATO naval force left for the Indian Ocean, it was stated in Moscow that a missile frigate from Russia's Baltic fleet - aptly named Neustrashimy [Fearless] - was already heading to the Indian Ocean "to fight piracy off Somalia's coast". Moscow claimed that the Somali government sought Russian assistance.

Two days later, on Thursday, as the Indian Defense Ministry was making its announcement, it was revealed by the speaker of the Upper House of the Russian parliament, Segei Mironov, an influential politician close to the Kremlin, that Russia might resume its Soviet-era naval presence in Yemen. Interestingly, Mironov made the announcement while on a visit to Sana, Yemen. He said Yemen sought Russia's help to fight piracy and possible terrorist threats and that a decision would be taken in Moscow to respond in accordance with the "new direction" of Russia's foreign and defense policies.

"It is possible that the aspects of using Yemen ports not only for visits by Russia warships but also for more strategic goals will be considered," Mironov said. He further revealed that a visit by the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to Moscow is scheduled in the near future and the issue of military-technical cooperation will be on the agenda. Significantly, Mironov explained that Yemen had threat perception regarding groups affiliated to al-Qaeda, which might be hiding in the Somalia region. (The Soviet Union had a major naval base in the former South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990 to form the present-day Yemen.)

In essence, Moscow has signaled to Washington (and Delhi and the other littoral states) that it, too, can play NATO's game and has the capacity and the will to fight a "war on terror" in the Indian Ocean.

The point is, Somalia has no effective government and the claim by NATO (or India) to have received the permission/request from Mogadishu to undertake naval patrolling in that country's territorial waters is untenable, to say the least. It is also a grey area as to whether such patrolling in the high seas will be in accordance with international law. NATO has taken cover under the pretext that the deployment is in response to a request by UN secretary general
Ban Ki-moon, but then, Ban never acts without an eye on what Washington desires.

Clearly, Russia is establishing its toehold as a matter of principle, asserting that NATO and its "partners" in the region cannot arrogate to themselves the role of policemen in the Indian Ocean.
New Cold-War Chill

Logically speaking, the endeavor on the part of the US and India should have been to see if the problem of sea piracy could be handled through a regional initiative by the littoral states in the first instance. India, in fact, has a cooperation platform with the Indian Ocean rim countries, which could have been activated. But this variant hasn't been explored. Instead, NATO - and India and Russia - have hastened to assume the policemen's role. At a minimum, there should have been prior regional consultations since this is a matter of collective security, which also doesn't seem to have happened.

It is obvious that these first blasts of the new cold war have blown into the Indian Ocean region against the larger backdrop of big-power relations. A new command, Africom, has just taken over all US military operations in Africa with effect from October 1. Previously, Africa came under the US Central Command. The widespread perception in Africa is that Africom signifies a hidden US agenda of a scramble for resources under the pretext of the "war on terror".

The Associated Press reported recently, "Resistance to Africom among African governments has been so strong that [US] commanders abandoned their initial ambitions to install a headquarters on the continent. It is based in Stuttgart instead, with about two dozen Africom liaison officers posted at embassies."

It added, "Some African suspicions are rooted in the past. Washington's Cold War legacy of supporting brutal dictators, coupled with Africa's tragic colonial history, has spawned a distrust of foreigners. And many believe it's no coincidence Africom was born as emerging powerhouses like China and India embark on a new scramble for the continent's increasingly valuable resources."

US officials are on record that Africom and NATO envisage an institutional linkup in the downstream. The overall US strategy is to incrementally bring NATO into Africa so that its future role in the Indian Ocean (and Middle East) region as the instrument of US global security agenda becomes optimal. For the strategy to succeed in the Indian Ocean, however, NATO will need to align three key littoral states - India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Singapore is a Cold War ally of the US. It overlooks the chokepoint of the Malacca Strait.

Endgame Of Tamil Insurgency

As for Sri Lanka, from the US point of view, its highly strategic location overlooking the sea lanes connecting the Persian Gulf and the Malacca Strait is of great value. The island is well placed to play the role of a permanent aircraft carrier. Washington is pressing ahead with a military solution to Sri Lanka's Tamil problem at any cost so that the Western-oriented Sinhalese political elite can focus on aligning Colombo with US regional strategy and act in concert with Delhi and Singapore.

It is plain to see that the end game of the Tamil insurgency has begun. The continuation of the insurgency only compels Sri Lanka to seek assistance from external quarters, including such sources as Iran, Pakistan and China. The Sinhalese elite would gladly jettison such dependence and orientate policies in a pro-West direction if provided the opportunity.

The US and India have been closely coordinating their policies on the situation in Sri Lanka, keeping the geostrategy in the Indian Ocean in mind. Cleaning up the Tamil insurgency and restoring Sri Lanka's capacity to work in concert with US strategy in the Indian Ocean has become an imperative need. Both Washington and Delhi are clear on this.

But for the US's strategy in the Indian Ocean, it is Delhi that is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown. The plain fact is that like Singapore and Sri Lanka, India also has impeccable geographical location, but additionally it also has significant muscle militarily. The US has assiduously cultivated the top brass of the Indian armed forces, especially the Indian navy. It has cleverly played on the navy's ambitions and corporate interests to have an expanded, pre-eminent presence in the Indian Ocean. The Indian navy is besotted with the idea of gaining access to US defense technology. Delhi belatedly realizes that the Indian navy is a powerful tool for foreign policy and diplomacy.

Equally, Washington has astutely worked on India's fears regarding a potential "encirclement" by China. While a consensus may be lacking as regards the scope, speed and effect of China's entry into the Indian Ocean region, the US and Indian strategic communities agree that China is an important factor that needs monitoring. China's increasing power, intentions and role in the Indian Ocean inevitably figure as a "hot" topic in US-India cogitations.

Conceivably, the recently concluded US-India civilian nuclear deal will give a fillip to military cooperation, in which navy-to-navy is already the oldest and strongest salient. Washington insists that its embrace of India is as a regional power and as an independent actor, especially as a naval power, and the impetus is wider than "balancing" or "containing" China. Some influential sections of the Indian strategic community would be inclined to take Washington at its word.

On balance, therefore, it is entirely conceivable that Delhi made its move on naval deployment in close consultation with the US within the framework of the two countries' much-acclaimed "strategic partnership", while taking into account the imperatives arising out of NATO's decision as well as the official launch of Africom by the Pentagon.

To what degree the Indian decision targets the Somali pirates and to what extent it remains a strategic move to dominate the Indian Ocean remains a matter of speculation. Even a clever pirate of the Caribbean like Captain Jack Sparrow would be left wondering whether to use wit and negotiation or to fight - or to flee a most dangerous situation.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved.)

The Pentagon's ‘SpacePlane’ For HotSpots

Pentagon Plans ‘SpacePlane’ To Reach HotSpots Fast

By John Harlow in Los Angeles
From The Sunday Times
October 19, 200
Courtesy Of The

The American military is planning a “spaceplane” designed to fly a crack squad of heavily armed marines to trouble spots anywhere in the world within four hours.

At a recent secret meeting at the Pentagon, engineers working on the craft, codenamed Hot Eagle, were told to draw up blueprints for a prototype which generals want to have in the air within 11 years.

Pentagon planners have been encouraged by technical breakthroughs from Burt Rutan, chief designer on Sir Richard Branson’s White Knight spaceship, which is due to begin test flights next year and to carry tourists on suborbital journeys from 2010.

Last week Rutan, 65, who built the first privately funded craft to reach space and won the $10m X prize for his achievement in 2004, gave his blessing to Hot Eagle, which could be based on White Knight’s technology. Rutan said it would be an expensive way to transport troops “but it could be done. It is feasible”.

Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, which is funding White Knight, recently predicted that it could be used to airlift emergency supplies into disaster zones.

“It could be like Thunderbirds, like International Rescue,” he said. A passenger version would be capable of flying from London to Sydney in four hours.

The two-stage Hot Eagle would be launched from an aircraft carrier. A large booster rocket would carry a smaller spacecraft containing 13 “space troopers” 50 miles into space, far above hostile radar, before landing in enemy territory.

The marines first called for a spaceplane in 2002 after the US military failed to capture Osama Bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan. The project was known as the Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion programme (Sustain). Its advocates said it took too long on foot to reach the caves where Bin Laden was said to be hiding and helicopters were too visible.

General James Mattis, leading the marines’ Central Command at the time, said he wanted the spaceplane in the air by 2019. He was recently promoted to be one of the most senior officers in the US military establishment and Sustain has since become a priority.

Last week Lieutenant Colonel Mark Brown, a US air force spokesman, confirmed that Nasa and Pentagon officers had met for two days of talks to draw up plans for Hot Eagle.

Invitations to the meeting said participants would be discussing a “potential revolutionary step in getting combat power to any point in the world in a time frame unbelievable today”.

Although aided by Rutan’s breakthroughs in ever-lighter composite materials, there are many technological hurdles ahead for Hot Eagle.

Designers have not yet decided whether to build a relatively simple disposable craft, which the space troopers would destroy before being picked up by helicopter, or a vastly more complex vehicle which could fly them home.

Some critics dismiss Hot Eagle as Hollywood-inspired science fiction or an expensive toy. Others question how effective a fighting force of just 13 soldiers could be on the ground.

“That is, if they get there,” said Ivan Oelrich, of the Federation of American Scientists. “It would be wildly vulnerable as you cannot armoura rocket ship.”

Roosevelt Lafontrant, a former marine colonel now employed by the Schafer Corporation, a technology company, said the technology was advancing rapidly. “If we had had the Sustain programme in operation in 2002, Bin Laden would have been captured and history fundamentally changed,” he said recently.

The Anglo-American Total Security State

The OrwelloSphere: Anglo-American Drive to 'Total Security State' Rolls On

By Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Courtesy Of The

" to wipe out truth is now available. not everybody can afford it but it's available. when the cost comes down look out!" -- Bob Dylan, "World Gone Wrong"

"...toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up." -- Dylan, ibid.

In the whirlwind of anxiety and confusion surrounding the global economic meltdown, one thing is certain: governments will use the crisis to augment their own power.

This may occur directly, as with the Bush-Paulson bailout plan, which gives the Treasury Secretary virtually unlimited and unsupervised power to give billions of taxpayer dollars to his cronies on Wall Street, while also allowing him to override the few restrictions left on the machinations of raw greed in the financial markets. (Yes, of course, all of this will change completely after Barack Obama is elected: instead of Hank Paulson and George Bush doling out bailout pork to their Wall Street pals, a brand-new Treasury chief and Obama will be doling out bailout pork to their Wall Street pals.)

But the economic freak-out will also be employed as a distraction, with governments using it to enact measures hugger-mugger while public attention is obsessively focused elsewhere. A prime -- and chilling -- example of this can be found in a new law slouching its way through the legislative process in Britain, where it is likely to emerge in the stark light of day next year. And it is a very rough beast indeed; the measure will, as Jenni Russell puts it in the Guardian
[create a] centralised database that will track, in real time, every call we make, every website we visit, and every text and email we send. That information will then be stored and analysed - perhaps for decades. It will mean the end of privacy as we know it.

Or rather, what's left of privacy as we used to know it. And Americans should not take comfort in the fact that this truly Orwellian law is being prepared across the sea. Britain has long been a bellwether for repressive measures in the United States, blazing a path on detention without charges, omnipresent camera surveillance, "strenuous interrogation," and other liberty-stripping "counterterrorism" measures, many of them honed in the glory days of the dirty war with the IRA. [For more on how British dirty war tactics cross-pollinated American black ops in Iraq, see "Ulster on the Euphrates."]

Russell outlines in grim detail the full implications of the bill being pressed forward by the "progressive" Labour government:

In the name of the fight against crime, and the fight against terror, we are all to be monitored as if we could be suspects. Computers will analyse our behaviour for signs of deviance. The minute we become of interest to anyone in authority - perhaps because we take part in a demonstration, have an argument with a security guard at an airport, spend too long on a website, or are witness to a crime - the police or the security services will be able to dip into our records and construct a near-complete pattern of our lives.

Russell also notes a salient point of this measure -- and also of the plethora of other "security" strictures that are increasingly binding the lives of the citizens of the Western democracies: to instill fear and obedience, not only by the application of outside force, but more horribly, from within.

Stop and consider this for a moment. Think about how happy any of us would be to have our lives laid out to official view. All our weaknesses, our private fears and interests, would be exposed. Our web searches are guides to what is going on in our minds. A married man might spend a lot of time on porn websites; a successful manager might be researching depression; a businessman might be looking up bankruptcy law.

We all have a gulf between who we really are and the face we present to the world. Suddenly that barrier will be taken away. Would a protester at the Kingsnorth power station feel quite so confident in facing the police if she knew that the minute she was arrested, the police could find out that she'd just spent a week looking at abortion on the web? Would a rebel politician stand up against the prime minister if he knew security services had access to the 100 text messages a week he exchanged with a woman who wasn't his wife? It isn't just the certainty that such data would be used against people that is a deterrent, it's the fear. As the realisation of this power grew, we would gradually start living in the prison of our minds.

That last sentence is a shattering truth of our times -- again not only in Britain but also in the land of "free speech zones" wrapped in razor wire, where security forces raid privates homes in "pre-emptive" strikes against potential protesters, and trigger-happy tasers silence citizens speaking uncomfortable truths to the powerful.

As Russell notes, the proposed new law -- which is being smuggled into the government's legislative program with almost no debate at all -- is "only the worst manifestation of an official intrusion into our lives that is just about to hit us, but of which we seem strangely unaware." And again, the UK is leading the way:

The UK's network of speed cameras will soon be able to track every journey we make by road under the automated number-plate recognition system. Mobile network records can already place us, at any time, within 100 yards of our phone's location. The ID database will record every time we go to a hospital or a benefit centre, fill in a prescription or a draw a large sum from a bank. The children's database will give access to every piece of gossip or fact about our children or their family, perhaps in perpetuity. It will record that an older sister may be alcoholic, or that a father is in jail, or that a 14-year-old is thought to be having sex. Nobody will be able to break free of this information about their past.

Most alarming of all, for its breadth of knowledge about us, the NHS database will give hundreds of thousands of staff the ability to discover when we lost our virginity, the drugs we're on, our mental health history.

Once more, Russell zeroes in on a salient fact about the growing Anglo-American Orwellosphere:
None of this information will be safe, because we know three things about the mass collection of data. The first is that the authorities will mine it where it suits them. The second is that the data will be lost. And the third is that it will leak.

Already in America, more than 400,000 people (by the most conservative estimate; the real number is likely far higher) are now on a highly secretive "terrorist watch list" -- compiled arbitrarily by unknown officials, using unknown criteria (or none at all), for unseen ends. And of course, the American government has been conducing widespread, warrantless, unregulated, and patently illegal surveillance against multitudes of its own citizens for years. This KGB-style operation -- openly acknowledged by the president himself -- was later given ex post facto "legitimacy" by the Democratic-led Congress, which also granted blanket immunity for the corporations which aided and abetted the criminality. It was one of the most shameful Congressional actions in a decade jam-packed with them -- and Barack Obama supported it fully.

As Russell rightly notes of such measures:

I'm all for the targeted pursuit of crime and terror, but this isn't it. This is a multibillion-pound misuse of the state's time and our money which will fundamentally damage our freedom to think and to act.

Here again is the crux of the matter. The relentless barrage of "security" measures being heaped upon the British and American people will have almost no effect on terrorists and organized crime, which are their ostensible targets. As always, terrorists and criminals will game the system, whatever it is, finding ways to work around it, outside it -- and within it. What then is the real purpose of these measures? We took up this question here a couple of years ago:

With each passing day, it becomes more evident that the main purpose behind Bush's illegal, warrantless domestic spying program is not collecting intelligence on terrorists and would-be terrorists – a task for which the government's existing draconian powers of surveillance were more than sufficient. As many people have noted, Bush already possessed the legal right to order the immediate surveillance of any person in the country, subject to the sole restraint of having to seek approval from the secret FISA court within 72 hours. Given the established record of this court's near-total acquiescence to thousands of such requests over the years, it is simply impossible to believe that it would not grant its ex post facto approval to any surveillance ordered by Bush which had even the most tenuous connection to a potential terrorist threat.

This undeniable reality leaves us with only one logical conclusion: Bush's secret spy program is designed for activities not covered by FISA's copious security blanket. It is now apparent that these activities include using the vast powers of federal, state and local governments to spy on the Bush Administration's perceived political "enemies" – a vast group, given that the Bushist definition of an "enemy" is anyone who opposes any of their policies.

Again, we must note that the Democratic presidential candidate voted for the measure which "legitimized" this program. Therefore it seems highly unlikely that he will suddenly act to overturn it or de-legitimize it once he is in office -- much less prosecute any of the perpetrators of this vast criminality. It goes without saying that John McCain will also embrace this program, and all other accelerations of the Total Security State now descending upon us.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.Read more:

Related stories from Google News

Copyright © 2008 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Stalin Proposed Anti-Nazi Alliance

Stalin 'Planned To Send A Million Troops To Stop Hitler If Britain and France Agreed Pact'

Stalin was 'prepared to move more than a million Soviet troops to the German border to deter Hitler's aggression just before the Second World War'
By Nick Holdsworth in Moscow
Last Updated: 1:14AM BST 19 Oct 2008
Courtesy Of The

Papers which were kept secret for almost 70 years show that the Soviet Union proposed sending a powerful military force in an effort to entice Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance.

Such an agreement could have changed the course of 20th century history, preventing Hitler's pact with Stalin which gave him free rein to go to war with Germany's other neighbours.

The offer of a military force to help contain Hitler was made by a senior Soviet military delegation at a Kremlin meeting with senior British and French officers, two weeks before war broke out in 1939.

The new documents, copies of which have been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, show the vast numbers of infantry, artillery and airborne forces which Stalin's generals said could be dispatched, if Polish objections to the Red Army crossing its territory could first be overcome.

But the British and French side - briefed by their governments to talk, but not authorised to commit to binding deals - did not respond to the Soviet offer, made on August 15, 1939. Instead, Stalin turned to Germany, signing the notorious non-aggression treaty with Hitler barely a week later.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named after the foreign secretaries of the two countries, came on August 23 - just a week before Nazi Germany attacked Poland, thereby sparking the outbreak of the war. But it would never have happened if Stalin's offer of a western alliance had been accepted, according to retired Russian foreign intelligence service Major General Lev Sotskov, who sorted the 700 pages of declassified documents.

"This was the final chance to slay the wolf, even after [British Conservative prime minister Neville] Chamberlain and the French had given up Czechoslovakia to German aggression the previous year in the Munich Agreement," said Gen Sotskov, 75.

The Soviet offer - made by war minister Marshall Klementi Voroshilov and Red Army chief of general staff Boris Shaposhnikov - would have put up to 120 infantry divisions (each with some 19,000 troops), 16 cavalry divisions, 5,000 heavy artillery pieces, 9,500 tanks and up to 5,500 fighter aircraft and bombers on Germany's borders in the event of war in the west, declassified minutes of the meeting show.

But Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, who lead the British delegation, told his Soviet counterparts that he authorised only to talk, not to make deals.

"Had the British, French and their European ally Poland, taken this offer seriously then together we could have put some 300 or more divisions into the field on two fronts against Germany - double the number Hitler had at the time," said Gen Sotskov, who joined the Soviet intelligence service in 1956. "This was a chance to save the world or at least stop the wolf in its tracks."

When asked what forces Britain itself could deploy in the west against possible Nazi aggression, Admiral Drax said there were just 16 combat ready divisions, leaving the Soviets bewildered by Britain's lack of preparation for the looming conflict.

The Soviet attempt to secure an anti-Nazi alliance involving the British and the French is well known. But the extent to which Moscow was prepared to go has never before been revealed.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, best selling author of Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar, said it was apparent there were details in the declassified documents that were not known to western historians.

"The detail of Stalin's offer underlines what is known; that the British and French may have lost a colossal opportunity in 1939 to prevent the German aggression which unleashed the Second World War. It shows that Stalin may have been more serious than we realised in offering this alliance."

Professor Donald Cameron Watt, author of How War Came - widely seen as the definitive account of the last 12 months before war began - said the details were new, but said he was sceptical about the claim that they were spelled out during the meetings.

"There was no mention of this in any of the three contemporaneous diaries, two British and one French - including that of Drax," he said. "I don't myself believe the Russians were serious."

The declassified archives - which cover the period from early 1938 until the outbreak of war in September 1939 - reveal that the Kremlin had known of the unprecedented pressure Britain and France put on Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler by surrendering the ethnic German Sudetenland region in 1938.

"At every stage of the appeasement process, from the earliest top secret meetings between the British and French, we understood exactly and in detail what was going on," Gen Sotskov said.

"It was clear that appeasement would not stop with Czechoslovakia's surrender of the Sudetenland and that neither the British nor the French would lift a finger when Hitler dismembered the rest of the country."

Stalin's sources, Gen Sotskov says, were Soviet foreign intelligence agents in Europe, but not London. "The documents do not reveal precisely who the agents were, but they were probably in Paris or Rome."

Shortly before the notorious Munich Agreement of 1938 - in which Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, effectively gave Hitler the go-ahead to annexe the Sudetenland - Czechoslovakia's President Eduard Benes was told in no uncertain terms not to invoke his country's military treaty with the Soviet Union in the face of further German aggression.

"Chamberlain knew that Czechoslovakia had been given up for lost the day he returned from Munich in September 1938 waving a piece of paper with Hitler's signature on it," Gen Sotksov said.

The top secret discussions between the Anglo-French military delegation and the Soviets in August 1939 - five months after the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia - suggest both desperation and impotence of the western powers in the face of Nazi aggression.

Poland, whose territory the vast Russian army would have had to cross to confront Germany, was firmly against such an alliance. Britain was doubtful about the efficacy of any Soviet forces because only the previous year, Stalin had purged thousands of top Red Army commanders.

The documents will be used by Russian historians to help explain and justify Stalin's controversial pact with Hitler, which remains infamous as an example of diplomatic expediency.

"It was clear that the Soviet Union stood alone and had to turn to Germany and sign a non-aggression pact to gain some time to prepare ourselves for the conflict that was clearly coming," said Gen Sotskov.

A desperate attempt by the French on August 21 to revive the talks was rebuffed, as secret Soviet-Nazi talks were already well advanced.

It was only two years later, following Hitler's Blitzkreig attack on Russia in June 1941, that the alliance with the West which Stalin had sought finally came about - by which time France, Poland and much of the rest of Europe were already under German occupation.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

U.S. Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

How Deeply Is The U.S. Involved In The Afghan Drug Trade?

Experience in Indochina and Central America suggests that CIA, the principal paymaster for U.S.-backed Afghan warlords, may be more deeply involved in the drug trade than we yet know.
By Eric Margolis
Source: The Huffington Post,
October 15, 2008
Courtesy Of

Afghanistan is in a `downward spiral,' the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, admitted last week, giving the most negative view of that conflict heard in Washington.

Military men are programmed to always be optimistic, so Admiral Mullen's grim words were particularly noteworthy. They also flatly contradicted the rosy claims of `progress' in Afghanistan made by the Bush administration and its increasingly dispirited allies in Canada, France, Germany, Italy and other NATO nations that were dragooned into this deeply unpopular war.

Most Europeans see the Afghan conflict as a 19th-century style colonial war for regional domination and resources. By contrast, Americans are still being misled by their corporate media and posturing politicians of both parties into believing the seven-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is a noble `anti-terrorism' mission that is defending women's rights and rebuilding a ravage nation instead of another brutal grab for energy, this time from the Caspian Basin.

In a troubling example of Vietnam-style 'mission creep,' the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, is calling for 15,000 more American troops on top of the 8,000 now slated to arrive in January 2009. His predecessor told Congress that 400,000 U.S. troops would be needed to pacify Afghanistan.

But McKiernan also called for talks with Afghan nationalists resisting western occupation collectively known as Taliban. Days earlier, it was revealed that senior British officers and diplomats in Afghanistan had called the US-led war `un-winnable' and advocated peace talks with Taliban.

Admiral Mullen also ordered U.S. and NATO forces to begin targeting Afghanistan's opium and heroin dealers. Under American tutelage, Afghanistan has become the world's leading narco-state, surpassing even Colombia, and now producing 90% of the world's heroin. Well over half of the nation's GDP consists of drug money. Considering this, Admiral Mullen's 'shoot on sight' orders seem rather overdue.

The 64,000 rupee question that arises from Admiral Mullen's new anti-drug policy is: Why was it not done seven years ago when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan? Why did Washington turn a blind eye to the Afghan drug trade and is only now taking some action?

The answer is simple and dismaying. America's local allies in Afghanistan, the politicians and warlords who overthrew Taliban in 2001, are up to their turbans in the heroin trade. Drug money is the blood that courses through Afghanistan's veins and keeps the economy limping along. The U.S.-installed Karzai regime in Kabul propped up by US and NATO bayonets has only two sources of income: cash handouts from Washington, and the proceeds of drug dealing.

When Taliban ruled 90% of Afghanistan from 1996-2001, it almost totally stamped out poppy cultivation as un-Islamic. The UN's drug control agency has confirmed this fact. The only remaining source of drug dealing was in the remote northeast of Afghanistan controlled by the Russian and Iranian-backed Northern Alliance, made up of Tajik Panshiri tribesmen, brutal Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostam, and the remains of the old Afghan Communist Party.

In 2001, the U.S. overthrew Taliban and put the drug-dealing Northern Alliance and Communists in power. Since then, Afghanistan's drug production has spread across the nation and exports have soared by 60-70%, making Afghanistan the source of nearly all the world's supply of heroin.

Washington called off efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency to combat the Afghan drug trade for fear of endangering the power base of its former CIA `asset,' President Hamid Karzai. Starting with Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali, the U.S.-installed regime's most important supporters are all involved in varying degrees with the heroin trade. As this writer has seen himself, almost every important warlord gets revenue from the drug trade. The Northern Alliance warlords are considered the biggest of the nation's narco-dealers. Ahmed Karzai denies involvement.

Moving against the drug warlords would have meant undermining Karzai's sole domestic support. So Washington held its nose and let the drug trade flourish in order to sustain the occupation. The faux `war on terror' and lust for Caspian energy trumped the old war on drugs.

Experience in Indochina and Central America suggests that CIA, the principal paymaster for U.S.-backed Afghan warlords, may be more deeply involved in the drug trade than we yet know.

Author Alfred McCoy's wrote a brilliant study in his ground-breaking `The Politics of Heroin' in which he documents how first French, then American intelligence was drawn into the heroin trade in Laos and Vietnam as a way of supporting anti-Communist guerilla fighters. The same thing happened in Central America where CIA collaborated with cocaine-dealing members of the anti-Communist Contras.

In both cases, drugs served as a currency and became more important than paper money. French and American spies even ended up transporting heroin for their local allies. The same may be happening in Afghanistan.

Equally disturbing, there is no way that simple Afghan farmers or Taliban fighters are running the drug trade, as Washington claims. Poppy sap is collected and converted into opium tar. Then it is smuggled to secret labs in Pakistan to be transformed into first morphine base, and then purified into heroin. None of these drugs would move south into Pakistan or be processed with imported chemicals without the full cooperation and assistance of the Afghan government, its supporting warlords, and local Pakistani officials. The drugs are then smuggled out of the port of Karachi, again under at protection by port and local officials. Pakistan is a key U.S. ally.

The Karzai regime has been totally corrupted by the drug trade, and so has parts of Pakistan's establishment. But the United States has also become corrupted in the sense that it has done nothing to combat this scourge and has collaborated with Afghanistan's drug barons by at minimum turning blind eye.

When the history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is written, Washington's sordid involvement in the heroin trade and its alliance with drug lords and war criminals of the Afghan Communist Party will be one of the most shameful chapters.
Related Links:

05.10.2008: Reports Link Karzai’s Brother to Heroin Trade

Afghanistan president accused of protecting drug smugglers

Turning Afghan Heroin Into Kalashnikovs

Afghanistan ranks 172 in corruption index

U.N. Finds Afghan Opium Trade Rising

Afghanistan growing drug trade will prolong conflict 'for years to come'

Corruption eats away at Afghan government

Afghanistan: 'Opium Brides' pay the price

UN: Afghanistan Should Hit Drug Lords With Links to the Government

Russian state TV suggests USA involved in drug-trafficking from Afghanistan

Corruption, bribes and trafficking: a cancer that is engulfing Afghanistan

Karzai Criticizes High Officials, Deputies For Corruption

Heroin is "Good for Your Health": Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade

Afghan government more corrupt than Taleban: Survey

Afghan official a convicted trafficker

Drug trade "reaches to Afghan cabinet"

ShadowPlay: The 9/11 PuppetMasters

Revealing dark PuppetMasters behind ShadowPlays of Deception...

What if 9/11 was not an act of Islamic extremism, but something far more sinister... an evil from within?

In the past, invisible elites lurking behind thrones have tightened their grasp on power by provoking attacks on their own people, then blaming the enemy as a false-flag pretext for imperial wars.

The idea that this could happen today is almost unimaginable...Or is it?

Arab Nations Must Learn From History

By Sobhi Ghandour,
Special to Gulf News
Published: October 19, 2008, 00:03
Courtesy Of

The Arab nation enjoys the most important strategic location in the world, at the gateway of Asia and Africa and close to most of Europe. The Arab region is also the land of rich natural resources, the most important of which is oil - one of the main pillars of global economy.

Furthermore, the Arab nation is the land of divine messages and hosts the holy shrines of divine religions, which created a special relation between Arab culture and the Islamic world.

Arab Muslims are considered the leaders and reference of non-Arab Muslims all over the world, although they only comprise one fifth of the Islamic world's population.

So, taking control of the Arab region by any foreign party means seizing control of a significant strategic location and the world's most important natural resources, as well as of important religious shrines and centres.

Europeans waged their colonial wars against the Arab region for more than 200 years under the label of the crusades and on the pretext of the existence of Christian religious centres in the region.

On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire maintained its control over the Arab region for more than 400 years in the name of the Islamic Caliphate.

In fact, great powers deal with the Arab region as an integral unit within the framework of one strategic plan that targets the region as a whole.

Meanwhile, the Arab world was divided into more than 20 countries following international accords and arrangements between the four great European powers in the early 19th century.

This state of division has led to the scattering of Arab financial and human capabilities and to the difficulty of creating an Arab force capable of facing outside challenges or playing an influential regional role.

It also led to the weakness of security and the disability of Arabs to manage their crises and conflicts, as a pretext to seek assistance form foreign powers to solve their problems.

Today, the Arab nation is passing through similar conditions to what they faced 100 years ago, and is stepping into a new stage similar to what followed the First World War when many Arab countries became under international custodianship.

This makes one ask: Why did West European countries realise the importance of their unity, despite their multi-cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds, and a history full of wars and bloody conflicts, while Arabs have not realised the importance of their unity yet?

Why did these countries succeed in developing different kinds of cooperation between them in the past sixty years, while the Arab League failed to do so, although the Arab league and the European union were established in the same period? Does this not mean that the problem lies with the absence and misuse of the Arab political decision, and not with suitable conditions of available capabilities?

This is simply because points of common factors of unity between Arabs are much more than those between European Union countries.

Rectifying the mistakes of the past does not mean forsaking cooperation and federal integration, which maintain the national characters of each country, just like the European Union.

It simply means fixing the damages in the Arab political body and governments, as well as in the planning, legislative and monitory bodies, while preserving the target of Arab integration regardless of methods or mistakes.

European Experience

Another lesson to be learned from the European experience is that all these countries are governed by democratic bodies. The decision to join the EU is subject to public referendum in each country, and is never imposed.

Powerful European countries do not take over smaller countries, which is a lesson that Arabs must learn from their history and that of other people.

The responsibilities of intellectuals, academicians and scholars are similar to those they had at the early 19th century, when some of them were defending European modernisation of the region, while others defended the Ottoman Empire, justified its mistakes and held onto the dream of returning to the Islamic Caliphate.

Very few chose to highlight the mistakes of both the Ottoman Empire and the European colonialism.

The Islamic reformers, including Jamal Al Deen Al Afghani, Mohammad Abduh, Abdul Rahman Al Kawakibi, called for reforming Arab and Islamic thinking and identity as the only way to build a better future.

They also called for freeing the ideology from preconceptions and intellectual molds and stagnation, as well as getting rid of wrong traditions that deprived women from their civil and social rights.

However, these thoughts were confined to books and never turned into a popular movement for comprehensive change. The Arab society remained caught between two extreme ideologies, the first of which calls for western modernisation, while the second calls for return to the Salafi era.

The mistakes made in the past century are repeated now. Arabs still fail to reach a common future project, although they share a common view of the current situation of the Arab nation.

Nowadays, many political analysts discuss the nation's present, while many are holding onto the past. However, there are very few who prepare the nation for a better future.

It is very important for Arabs to learn from others' experiences and draw conclusion, like what Europeans did right after the Second World War, when they started laying the grounds for their democratic union.
Sobhi Ghandour is Director of Al Hewar Centre in Washington

The Veil Of US Adventurism Finally Lifted

Published: October 19, 2008, 00:03
Courtesy Of

Public opinion in the Middle East always suspected the United States is behind every trouble in the region, especially the bloody conflict that plagued the region in the past three decades. This is often dismissed by the elite as "conspiracy theory" or an attempt to justify our resignation to the subsequent defeats, setbacks and the rise of oppressive regimes in some parts of the Arab world.

But the revelation on Friday that the US administrations under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford may have, albeit unintentionally, paved the way for the Islamic revolution in Iran would no doubt give credence to the idea the American hands-on intervention in regional affairs has often led to conflicts. It is no secret the US supported the anti-Russian Islamist fighters in Afghanistan. This, as we later realised, resulted in the rise of the Taliban and religious extremism, which a number of Arab states continue to battle today.

Between 1974 and 1976, Nixon and Ford decided to put pressure on the Shah of Iran - American officials suspected then he was behind the rise in oil prices which stifled the US economy. The move weakened the regime, which succumbed to a new breed of revolutionaries in the Middle East, according to a report based on newly declassified documents. The rest is history, as they say.

But the fact remains the radicalisation of the region was born mainly as a result of the US policy of direct intervention, in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and other places. However, this should not, in anyway, justify condoning terrorism or our inability to fight extremism. Terrorists, especially those who claim to speak in the name of religion, must be defeated. Meanwhile, we hope the new US administration would try to mend fences with the people in this region, which has had more than its fair share of bloody conflicts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guided By An Invisible Hand

By Joesph Stiglitz
Published on Saturday, October 18, 2008
Courtesy Of
The New Statesman

Make no mistake: we are witnessing the biggest crisis since the Great Depression. In some ways it is worse than the Great Depression, because the latter did not involve these very complicated instruments - the derivatives that Warren Buffett has referred to as financial weapons of mass destruction; and we did not have anything close to the magnitude of today's cross-border finance.

The events of these weeks will be to market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was to communism. Last month in the United States almost 160,000 jobs were shed - making more than three-quarters of a million this year. My guess is that things will get considerably worse. I have been predicting this for some time, and so far, unfortunately, I have been right.

There are several reasons for my pessimism. The extreme credit crunch is a result of the banks having lost a lot of capital. And there is still uncertainty about the value of the toxic mortgages and other complex products on their balance sheets. The US economy has been fuelled by a consumption binge. With average savings at zero, many people borrowed to live beyond their means. When you cut off that credit you reduce consumption. This, in turn, will dampen the US economy, which helps keep the global economy growing. The American consumer has not only sustained the US economy, he has sustained the global economy. The richest country in the world has been living beyond its means and telling the rest of the world it should be thankful because America fuelled global economic growth.

There are further reasons for my pessimism about short-term economic prospects, in America and Europe. In the second quarter of this year, growth in the US would have been negative were it not for the growth in exports. But with the slowdown in Europe and problems in Asia it is difficult to see how we can maintain net export growth. The strengthening of the dollar - due not to greater confidence in the US but to reduced confidence in Europe - will make matters worse. The fall of energy prices will help a little, but not enough.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has now come up with a new bailout scheme. The original plan - buying up the thousands of "troubled assets" (read: bad loans and complex products based on them that Wall Street created) - was badly designed and rife with problems. How would they have been priced? Call in the same Wall Street experts who got us into the mess and mispriced risk before? It is a heads I win, tails you lose situation.

The worry is that the taxpayer will be left holding the short end of the stick.

The British approach, which Paulson seems to be following, is far better, involving capital injections into banks, with preferred shares to protect against losses and warrants to share in some of the upside potential. This is the approach that I - along with most US economists and people with good street sense, like George Soros - had been saying America should adopt.

Ironically, though Paulson wouldn't listen to us, he seems to have listened to Gordon Brown.

Many of the problems our economy faces today are the result of the use of misguided models. Unfortunately, too many took the overly simplistic models of courses in the principles of economics (which typically assume perfect information) and assumed they could use them as a basis for economic policy. Many central banks use the notion of inflation targeting - that they should focus exclusively on inflation, raising interest rates when inflation increases. But I would argue that central banks have a broader responsibility; they are supposed to ensure the stability of a country's economy. While monetary authorities in the US and elsewhere focused on price stability, they allowed the financial system to undertake risks that put the whole economy in jeopardy.

This crisis is a turning point, not only in the economy, but in our thinking about economics. Adam Smith, the father of modern economists, argued that the pursuit of self-interest (profit-making by competitive firms) would lead, as if by an invisible hand, to general well-being. But for over a quarter of a century, we have known that Smith's conclusions do not hold when there is imperfect information - and all markets, especially financial markets, are characterised by information imperfections. The reason the invisible hand often seems invisible is that it is not there. The pursuit of self-interest by Enron and WorldCom did not lead to societal well-being; and the pursuit of self-interest by those in the financial industry has brought our economy to the brink of the abyss.

No modern economy can function well without the government playing an important role. Even free marketeers are now turning to the government. But would it not have been better to have taken action to prevent this meltdown? This is a new kind of public-private partnership - the financial sector walked off with the profits, the public was left with the losses. We need a new balance between market and government.

© 2008 The New Statesman
Professor Joseph E Stiglitz is chair of the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester and a 2001 Nobel prizewinner

The Forgotten U.S. War On The Iraqi People

By Ghali Hassan
Oct 16, 2008, 19:42
Courtesy Of

On October 3, 2008, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon is paying $300 million to U.S. contractors to produce pro-U.S. propaganda for Iraqi audiences “in an effort to ‘engage and inspire’ the local population to support U.S. objectives and the puppet government”. The aim of this psychological warfare is to normalise the murderous Occupation and cover-up the slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians.

As Iraqis continue to suffer, the war on has receded from mainstream media headlines in order to remove people’s historical memory and to provide the Republican Party with a fictitious victory and improves John McCain’s chances of winning the presidency. In the same way the decade-long genocidal sanctions that killed 2 million innocent Iraqi civilians were normalised, journalists and media outlets in the U.S. and in occupied Iraq are promoted and paid to write “good news” stories about the ongoing Occupation.

As a result, few Americans are against the war, and most of the US poplulation still find it acceptable to perpetuate barbarism against defenceless population. The justification and rationalisations for the application of barbaric violence have been based on U.S. euphemistic doctrines with disregard to international law and civilised norms. Despite the enormity of the atrocity in Iraq, Americans have re-elected George Bush in 2004 and continue paying $12 billion per month to propel a criminal war which is destroying an entire society.

Indeed, since World War II, the U.S. has committed unimaginable war crimes against defenceless civilian population, more than any other nation on earth. It is astonishing that a large segment of US society is proud of these horrendous war crimes, and violence continues to play an important role in the US psyche. Just take a look at how the bigoted John McCain is portrayed by the media as a “maverick” and a war “hero” (not a war criminal) and even allowed to (deceptively) distance himself from George Bush and his own Republican Party’s ideology. His incompetence in foreign policy, the economy, and his erratic character and criminal record in Vietnam and Iraq have largely been ignored in the media.

It is certain, if the Republicans are re-elected and John McCain become president, the U.S. will declare a police state and will embark on a war agenda reminiscent of Hitler’s war agenda. The Republican ideology is a Nazis’-like ideology seeking to dominate the world through violence, racism and propaganda. With thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed on U.S. streets to control the population, the people of the United States do not need more serious warnings.

The World Ignores U.S. War Crimes

Why is the world ignoring the U.S.-perpetuated war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq? The primary reasons are: Western media complicity in U.S. war crimes through disinformation and distortion of the situation on ground; and most importantly, Islamophobia. The U.S.-Zionist media play an important role in spreading anti-Muslims propaganda throughout the world, demonising Muslims and distorting Islam in order to manipulate public opinion and justify war crimes against Muslims at home and abroad. Additionally, a deep-seated and inherently widespread dehumanisation of Arabs and Muslims by Western media, the Western ruling classes and opportunist politicians encourages silence and moral bankruptcy.

Recall how in 2003 the US people and a large segment of Western population were manipulated and deceived to support an illegal war of aggression against an entirely defenceless Iraqi population. Deep silence prevailed despite it was well-known that Iraq had neither weapons of mass destruction nor any link to “terrorism”, and that the pretexts were outright lies fabricated in Washington and London. The aggression against Iraq was and still is a crime against humanity and those who supported the crimes have blood on their hands.

Pretexts Used To Justify The Illegal War and Occupation

Immediately after the pretexts to justify the invasion were exposed, the U.S. began to engineer and used countless pretexts to justify the ongoing Occupation, including the incitement of massive outbreak of violence. For instance, the U.S.-drafted “Iraqi Constitution” defines Iraqis according to their ethnicities and religious sects. It was designed to divide Iraqis and sow the seeds of hatred and division that defined Iraq today. Hence, the Occupation-generated violence is a deliberate strategy to justify the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. It is the Bush regime’s strategy to "stay the course". It has achieved what the U.S. regime has planned before the aggression; the destruction of Iraq’s unity and the establishment of a U.S. military foothold in Iraq.

More than five years of murderous Occupation, George Bush and his criminal accomplices remain unindicted. Moreover, the Bush regime is refusing to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and restore the Iraqi freedom and independence. Instead, the Bush regime is bribing and coercing members of the criminal puppet government – whose survival depends on the Occupation – to sign a deal to permanently station U.S. troops in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people. It is now clear to everyone that the motives for the premeditated aggression and subsequent Occupation are:

1. to establish a colonial dictatorship in Iraq through an open-ended military presence and use the country as a launching pad to attack other countries;

2. enhance Israel’s Zionist expansion in Palestine and the Middle East in general; and

3. guard Western multinational oil corporations seizing control of strategic Iraqi oil reserves.

The "Surge" and Ethnic Cleansing In Iraq

Meanwhile, the propaganda for a new “victory” in Iraq is in full swing. The so-called “reduction” in violence against Iraqi civilians has much to do with the mass killing and widespread ethnic cleansing that have left less people to kill not the “surge” in troops number as the Bush’s regime alleges. According to the Pentagon Quarterly Report, Iraq has become a nation of ethnically cleansed neighbourhoods, separated by concrete walls dividing communities and preventing free movement. This so-called “neighbourhood homogenisation” has been achieved only through a U.S.-controlled reign of terror and mass murder of Iraqi civilians. Today, a large part of Baghdad’s neighbourhoods have been emptied of their original population. At least 5 million Iraqis are either internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries.

Other studies have also pointed out to the ethnic cleansing perpetuated by U.S. forces and U.S.-controlled death squads and militias in reducing some of the violence against Iraqi civilians and have rejected the Bush’s regime propaganda that the “surge” is responsible for the “reduction” in violence. One of these studies is the UCLA Study. While the Study found that “the surge has no observable effect”, it is also deliberately misleading. The Study suggestion that the “surge” designed “to improve the materials condition of life and create a breathing space for political compromise between major factions” in Baghdad is a falsehood. The “surge” is part of the Republicans propaganda campaign which is designed to mislead the American public and provides John McCain with something to say about a murderous Occupation. The reality is that the Occupation remains the root causes of violence and destruction in Iraq.

Furthermore, Iraqi sources reveal that conditions are worsening in the Baghdad once again ‘despite the heavy presence of Iraqi security forces and a surge in number of checkpoints’. U.S. officials say the “surge” is “success”, but they also called the situation “fragile” and “reversible”, means the Occupation will continue.

Another factor that has contributed to the “reduction” in violence is that the U.S. began paying militias, including the Kurdish militia and collaborators to collaborate and stop carrying out killings (executions) anti-Occupation civilians. Additionally, Iran role in restraining Iranian criminals and Iranian-controlled militias and encouraged them to collaborate with the Occupation must be acknowledged.

At the timing of this writing, U.S. troops killed 11 people from one family while conducting a dawn raid on a house in the Seventeen Tammuz neighbourhoods, west of Mosul. It is an established fact that the ongoing violence is controlled by U.S. forces and their collaborators. This has been the norm since 2003. Of course, every time U.S. forces perpetuated a massacre of Iraqi civilians, they cover-up their war crimes by alleging that they have killed “al-Qaeda” fighters. The phantom, which the U.S. created to justify terrorism, keeps growing wherever U.S. forces invade a foreign nation.

The unprovoked criminal invasion and subsequent Occupation of Iraq have resulted in deliberate mass killing and physical destruction of Iraq in whole or in part. Every major population centre has been targeted by a campaign of terror and indiscriminate aerial bombings using all kinds of legally banned weapons of mass destruction. At least 1.3 million innocent Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed since 2003. While this figure is a conservative figure, it is still much higher than the Rwandan genocide.

Only the U.S. and Israel (and their allies) could get away with such unimaginable war crimes against innocent civilians and terrorism. In every country the U.S. and its allies have invaded, they brought chaos and insecurity rather than “freedom” and “democracy”, they destroyed rather than build, they brought poverty rather than prosperity, and they sowed the seeds of violence rather than seeds of peace. The ongoing atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan are just the current examples.

According to the UN Convention on Genocide, there is an ongoing genocide in Iraq. Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group such as:

* killing members of the group;

* causing serious bodily or mental harm;

* deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

* imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and

* forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Hence, there is overwhelming evidence to charge George Bush and his willing allies and accomplices with war crimes and genocide. An indictment of Western leaders with war crimes and crimes against humanity could pave the way for a peaceful and just world and reduce the eventuality of premeditated and unprovoked war of aggression.

Finally, the Pentagon-funded propaganda campaign is a psychological warfare designed to whitewash a murderous Occupation. The only way to end the colonial Occupation of Iraq and stop the mass slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians is the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and mercenaries from Iraq.

© Copyright 2008 by
This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a "live link" to the article. Thank you!

Ghali Hassan is an Axis of Logic Columnist and independent writer living in Australia. Read his Bio and additional articles on Axis of Logic. He can be contacted at:


MI-5 Chief: 9/11 Response Was OverDone

Ex-U.K. Security Chief: 9/11 Response Was Overdone

By The Associated Press
Last update - 00:06 19/10/2008
Courtesy Of

The former head of Britain's security services said in remarks published Saturday that the response to the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States was a huge overreaction.

Stella Rimington, who retired 12 years ago from Britain's domestic security service, MI5, said the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were not that different from other terrorist attacks.

"You know, it was another terrorist incident. It was huge, and horrible, and seemed worse because we all watched it unfold on television," she is reported as saying in an interview published Saturday by the Guardian.

"I'd lived with terrorist events for a good part of my working life, and this was, as far as I was concerned, another one," she was quoted as saying.

Rimington has become a vocal critic of the British government's anti-terror legislation. She opposed the government's plan to extend the amount of time police can hold terror suspects without charge from 28 to 42 days, a proposal that was defeated in the House of Lords last week.
In the interview, Rimington is also reported to have said said the Iraq war led some young men to take up terrorism.

"If what we're looking at is groups of disaffected young men born in this country who turn to terrorism, then I think to ignore the effect of the war in Iraq is misleading," she is quoted as saying.

Britain's Foreign Office said it had no comment.

Imperialist Strategic Thinking On Iran

By Reza Fiyouzat
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 17, 2008, 00:23
Courtesy Of

In a recent policy paper by the New American Foundation (among whose board members sits Francis ‘End of History’ Fukuyama), it is argued that the next U.S. administration must engage Iran with a ‘grand bargain,’ which addresses both Iran and the U.S.’s strategic concerns. The paper argues that the piecemeal approach the U.S. has taken towards Iran has clearly failed to change the behavior of the regime in Iran, and a détente is not a desirable option. The only stable and strategically appropriate path to take is a full rapprochement.

The policy paper is very frank in its approach, as imperialists usually are among themselves. It argues that Iran is strategically too important to be alienated, and argues that in the absence of a full rapprochement, Iran’s leaders will have no choice but to flee to the Russian and the Chinese spheres of influence. Iran’s hydrocarbon resources are vast (second in the world, in combined oil and gas), and its strategic positioning in the Middle East is not something the U.S. can afford to do without for much longer. More importantly, Iran’s animosity toward the U.S. can be detrimental to the advance of the American interests in the region. So, the best thing to do is for the U.S. to strike a ‘grand bargain’ with a regime that has historically proven that it can cooperate with the U.S., but has never been rewarded fully for its past cooperation both in fighting the Taliban regime and their overthrow, as well as in the American military and political designs for Iraq.

The wish list of things to be granted by the U.S. and Iran in such a grand bargain include the familiar demands: Iran is to modify its nuclear program to accommodate Western powers’ concerns, disavow the ‘terrorist’ organizations such as Hamas, Hezbullah and the Islamic Jihad, and help stabilize the region for Uncle Sam. In turn, the U.S. is to guarantee that it will not militarily (or otherwise) try to change Iran’s borders or its form of government, lift all unilateral sanctions against Iran, and generally play nice.

Of particular interest is the following passage from the policy paper: “During their dialogue with U.S. counterparts over Afghanistan in 2001-03, Iranian diplomats indicated their interest in working with the United States to establish a regional security framework focused on Central Asia. Other senior Iranian officials raised such a possibility with us in 2003-04.” Hardly an anti-imperialist stance on the part of the Iranian regime! On the contrary, this is clearly indicative of a regime with ambitions for becoming a cop on the beat (much like the Shah’s regime was for the Americans), and wants that role officially sanctioned by the biggest cop on the global beat, the U.S.

These are recommendations of a group of professionals whose bread is buttered by thinking ahead and advising Uncle Sam on the best course of action to take in order to secure its long-term geo-strategic interests. The analysis provided by the New American Foundation shows that powerful forces within the imperil halls of the U.S. also find the ‘cop on the beat’ scenario for Iran as something desirable.

This line of thinking is not isolated to think tanks, as attested to by a Time magazine article of 4 October 2008, titled “Changing the conventional wisdom about Iran.” In this Time article, France is portrayed as the key European power to lead the charge for a strategic adjustment of policy as regards Iran.

As reported there: “‘The opportunity is there to move past the 30 year-old images of a defiant and frightening revolutionary Iran, and start encouraging cooperative behavior by engaging with Iran as the swiftly-developing nation and regional power it is,’ says Bernard Hourcade, an Iran specialist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research. ‘The key is direct American involvement in relations, because renewed ties with the U.S. is what Iran wants most.’”

Further, the Time article reports: “‘Iran’s biggest strategic concern is obtaining security assurances and accords, and the only nation that can provide those is the U.S.,’ says Didier Billion, deputy director of the Institute on International and Strategic Relations in Paris. The logic behind that view is supported by Thomas Fringar, chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the senior analyst in Washington’s intelligence community.”

There have been other indications as well. For one, there have been reports on the volume of U.S.-Iran trade, which have increases tenfold during the Bush administration. Another highly telling development was the plans of Bush administration to open a diplomatic post in Iran (see here). Though the plan was shelved, “in part over fears it could affect the U.S. presidential race or be interpreted as political meddling,” other reports indicate that it is still under consideration.

If the Bush administration’s stated animosity toward Ahmadinejad’s administration (or the Iranian regime as a whole) were as deep-rooted as the alarmists have been stating, whence did these considerations of opening a diplomatic post materialize?

The truth is that American imperialism is not on very solid foundations. Besides its military power, which alone does not acquire one an empire, most other aspects of its power are on very shaky ground, as the current financial meltdown has made plain. For its maintenance therefore it requires two things: prevention of other powers from rising, and a host of client states in geo-strategically important regions. The grand bargain discussed here addresses both requirements.

To summarize, these are important signs and the writing is on the wall that neither this nor the next president of the U.S. will be looking at bombing Iran; rather, he’ll be likely offering the regime of the mullahs yet more cakes and the keys to the heavens the mullahs have been asking for.

Zagari Fight

In a previous article (“A New Cold War?” Counterpunch, January 29, 2007), I likened the current relationship between Iran and the U.S. as to what in Iran we call a ‘Zargari fight,’ which basically is a verbal back and forth between two parties who have no intention of actually engaging each other in a hand-to-hand. ‘Zargar’ is an ironsmith, and when two ironsmiths engage is such a verbal fight, the purpose is mostly to gather a crowd, from whose patronage both ironsmiths can potentially benefit.

In that article and more recently, I have argued that the U.S. ruling classes do not want a regime change in Iran at all. On the contrary, they like and appreciate greatly the theocratic setup in Iran, and all they wish is for the mullahs cool it down on the rhetorical front and act differently with regards to a few agenda items dear to Uncle Sam’s heart as pertains to the regional setup in the Middle East.

For their part, the Iranian regime has no fundamental animosity with imperialists and in fact has open dealings with European imperialists, the IMF and the World Bank, and would very much like to join the World Trade Organization. As pertains to the Americans in particular, again we remind the reader of the full cooperation forwarded by the Iranian regime in the invasion of Afghanistan (and the installment of Hamid Karzai as a puppet president), as well as with the overthrow of Saddam’s regime and the installation of a puppet regime in Iraq.

These are facts. If these were not factual truths, no faction of the U.S. ruling class would be singing the praises of the benefits of engaging the mullahs with a ‘grand bargain.’ No such grand bargains were ever conjured up with regards to Saddam’s regime.

There are, of course, some organizations (e.g., CASMII) whose entire reason for being is to make mountains out of the molehill of the disagreements between the leaders of the two nations, in order to set themselves up with a political trading post, and in so doing they must talk up the imminent threats of war and destruction that is about to rain down on Iran at the hands of U.S. imperialism, and to justify their lobbying efforts in behalf of the theocratic regime in Iran.

Such organizations, however, have no problems with imperialists setting up open and legal shop in Iran, nor have they any objections to U.S. corporations looting our resources openly and legally with the blessing of our own government. Indeed, they consider such ‘economic cooperation’ as the spirit of our times and a blessing to be sought. And should anybody warn that the economic interests of the imperialists are the real driving force behind political-military actions that will land you the ready-at-hand label of ‘hawkish’ and hollow accusations of ‘struggling to sow antagonism against Iran.’

Much to these leftists’ delight, we are now observing the contours of an imperialist ‘grand bargain’ with the mullahs’ regime emerging (along the lines of the deal Nixon struck with China in early 1970s). This line of dealing with the Iranian regime is not surprising at all; Brzezinski, in the late 1970s, regarded the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini as a strategic ally of the imperialists in their efforts to strap a ‘Green Belt’ (of Islamist states) around the Soviet Union.

As a socialist, I do not reduce imperialism to its military moves. Socialists understand that war is another way of pursuing political objectives, so for those of us who don’t put the cart before the horse, it is clear that wars happen for political-economic reasons. Why would imperialists go through the gigantic mess of a war, not to mention carry the even larger financial burdens that currently they clearly cannot afford, when the adversary is willing to accommodate the imperialists’ wishes through mere negotiations? All that is required of both sides is to find a solution that leaves both their faces unmarred, one that both can take home to their people as a ‘strategic victory.’

The ‘grand bargain’ is clearly such a solution.

So, the likes of CASMII and their American friends can now stop their rhetorical abuses of Iranian socialists, who have been warning about such bargains, and can consider their work done. They can now register as legal, foreign lobbying agents at the service of this theocracy and bring consistency between their speech and their political acts. They can stop sounding like Zionists and their supporters, whose most ready-at-hand rhetorical grenade of choice is ‘anti-Semitism’ -- except, of course, those over at CASMII will call you ‘hawkish’ or a ‘neocon’ if you so much as direct any criticism at this theocratic dictatorship. These hard working deflectors can now concentrate on generating actual positive publicity for the Iranian government, instead of forever repelling criticisms directed at the mullahs by those who are truly fighting for social justice.
Reza Fiyouzat can be reached at:

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kathmandu, Center Of U.S. Espionage In South Asia

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 17, 2008, 00:21
Courtesy Of

(WMR) -- The new U.S. embassy in Kathmandu occupies the grounds of a former CIA safe house and operations center in the Nepali capital. The embassy, in the Maharajgunj district of Kathmandu, is a one-block long fortress-like structure and the subject of derision among the Nepali people. The embassy is built along Stalinesque architectural standards now common with new U.S. embassies around the world: stark, rectangular structures that convey the notion that the United States is an impenetrable fortress that is closed to the outside world.

A drive-by of the embassy did not afford the opportunity to take a photograph of the monolithic building because the embassy frontage is well protected by Nepali contract security personnel.

WMR has spoken to a number of informed Nepali and foreign sources who confirmed that espionage has been and is the number one priority of the American diplomatic mission in Nepal’s capital. The current U.S. ambassador is Nancy Powell, who one Nepali official described as “weird.” Powell has done nothing to convince the Bush administration to drop its designation of the Maoist Communist Party that now governs Nepal in a coalition with two other Communist parties, as a “terrorist organization.”

There is widespread belief among the intelligence community that the Bush administration may try to carry out another massacre like the one its helped to plan and carry out against the royal family in 2001. This time, former Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Nepal is being disarmed with a plan to integrate it with the Nepali Army and Police. In the meantime, the PLA have been directed to containment camps supervised by the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which is now trying to slow the military integration process, as well as delaying the process of writing a new constitution for Nepal. The stalling action by the UN and UNMIN head Ian Martin, against the backdrop of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, may be a prelude for another coup in Nepal, one designed by the United States to destabilize a country that sits between China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In the event of a coup, the disarmed PLA ranks would be sitting ducks for a massacre similar to the bloody anti-Communist purge in Indonesia in the 1960s, carried out by the Indonesian government with the support of the CIA.

The new U.S. embassy was built without Nepali contractor assistance. Instead, the State Department contracted to have construction personnel brought in from Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Egypt, driving up labor costs because the foreign workers were housed in some of Kathmandu’s most expensive hotels.

The embassy is built on the grounds of the Brahma Cottage, a center for the operations of the CIA’s and State Department’s joint Surveillance Device Unit. The CIA contracted with Nepali contractors to carry out surveillance of the palace of the then-Prince Gyenendra and Nepal Police Headquarters. Gyanendra became King after the June 1, 2001, regicidal coup d’etat against the royal family, which saw Gyanendra accede to the throne. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its coalition partners later deposed Gyanendra and declared a new Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

The Brahma Cottage CIA center, which was next door to Gyanendra’s palace, was also used by the CIA to plan the regicide and coup d’etat with the assistance of former Nepali police officers and the cooperation of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The old U.S. embassy was across the street from Brahma Cottage.

In September 2002, this editor wrote, “In the months leading up to the Nepali coup, the CIA established an office in the Maharajgunj District of Kathmandu, next door to the residence of Prince Gyanendra. Witnesses reoprtedly saw streams of Nepali police and military officials streaming into the offices. Other U.S. ‘civilians,’ said to be with private military contractor CIA fronts like MPRI, were also seen arriving at the offices. In the spring, a U.S. Special Operations Forces team arrived in Kathmandu on a secret exercise code-named Bailey Nightingale I. The cover for the exercise was said to be earthquake disaster training. But it now appears it had another disaster in mind. The military team was composed of U.S. psychological operations (PSYOPs) personnel adept at coming up with tales like the one about the Crown Prince murdering his family.”

Crown Prince Dipendra was reported to have shot his entire family in a pique of rage over a his choice of a bride. The BBC report of the incident exemplified the psyop used to spread the word about the Crown Prince killing his family: “The King and Queen of Nepal have been shot dead after the heir to the throne went on the rampage with a gun before turning it on himself. Eleven people died in the incident which started when Crown Prince Dipendra allegedly had a dispute with his mother over his choice of bride. King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and Prince Niranjan were among the victims of the tragedy at the royal palace in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. The other victims included three of the King’s children, his two sisters and one more member of the family by marriage.” The report by the BBC, which increasingly acts as an echo chamber for British intelligence, was false.

However, a senior Nepali intelligence officer told WMR that Dipendra did not kill himself but was shot to death by a royal guard. There is reason to believe that Dipendra was the first person shot in the royal massacre.

The CIA’s involvement in Nepal’s covert operations is nothing new. From 1956 to 1962, the CIA ran a Tibetan exile Khampa guerrilla army that launched attacks within Tibet from bases in the small kingdom of Mustang, a principality in Nepal on the northern border with Tibet. After India lost its two wars with China in the early 1960s, the CIA reactivated its Tibetan guerrilla army to open a front against China, which was militarily supporting North Vietnam and the Vietcong, in Operation Shadow Circus.

In August 1974, the CIA ordered the liquidation of its last Tibetan guerrilla army leader Wangdu Gyatotsang and his men after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger began opening up to China and, in a Ribbentropian policy, began cutting loose U.S. allies in Southeast Asia and gave approval to India’s swallowing up of the Kingdom of Sikkim. According to intelligence sources, the CIA received the approval of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India in using other Tibetan contractors to eliminate the last Tibetan guerrilla army. The CIA was more concerned about its secret operations in Mustang becoming public than in protecting its own guerrilla forces.

In 1987, the CIA’s station in Kathmandu oversaw the burglary of the German Democratic Republic’s embassy in Kathmandu. According to a Nepali intelligence official, among the items taken from the embassy were code books, encryption machines, and classified documents. The operation was carried out with the assistance of the First Secretary of the East German embassy and a Nepali police inspector. Both were spirited out of Nepal and given political asylum in the United States.

Documentarian Yoichi Shimatsu, in his film “Prayer Flags,” points out that the CIA continued to use Nepal as a base for its covert operations throughout the 1990s when it used the guise of installing seismographic and geological monitoring systems to place surveillance systems and sensors at high elevations in the Himalayas.

The new Maoist-led government of Nepal has told Mustang’s powerless and nominal king, Jigme Parwat Bista, that his small principality was being abolished, along with the other three small kingdoms of Salyan, Jajarkot, and Bajhang. However, Bista was not a supporter of the last king, Gyanendra, according to informed sources in Kathmandu. His kingdom’s past support for the CIA’s operations against China has resulted in “blowback” in his kingdom being abolished by Nepal’s Maoist government.

The CIA’s old Nepal proprietary airline, Fishtail Air, founded by a veteran of Camp Walker in Seoul, South Korea, still flies around Nepal.

Nepal also served as a terror nexus between individuals connected to the CIA in Kathmandu and the Dawood Ibrahim criminal syndicate that carried out the March 12, 1993 bombings of the Bombay Stock Exchange, Bombay hotels, cinemas, and shopping centers that killed over 300 people. The bombings were a reprisal for the destruction of the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya by Hindu extremists. Over two thousands Muslims, including women and children, were massacred by rampaging Hindus after the mosque’s destruction. Ibrahim is now believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

Currently, the U.S. embassy in Kathmandu continues to conduct covert operations against China, mostly through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Trace Foundation, a Tibetan support group run by Andrea Soros Colombel, and funded by her father, George Soros. The recent outbreak of violence in Tibet by pro-independence Tibetans was an attempt at fomenting yet another “colored themed” revolution by Soros, a one-time Hungarian Jewish Nazi and not the first Nazi to have an interest in the Himalayan region where swastika religious symbol is ubiquitous.

The Trace Foundation is working with one of the Buddhist Tantric sects that has the aim of revealing the Kalachakra prophecy, which predicts a final global war between the forces of good versus a future Islamic Mahdi. A Buddha-type figure is foreseen as returning as a new Messiah. This construct is similar to the neocon “Clash of Civilizations” that sees a final showdown between the West and Islam. The Trace Foundation is trying to co-opt the old messianic Buddhist tradition to unify major world religions to install a global government, according to a specialist who has followed Soros’ activities in Tibet and Nepal
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2008

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal