Thursday, August 14, 2008

And now back to our regularly scheduled conflicts - still in progress

A week of diversion with a new war tends to put the other criminal wars, land and resource theft enterprises in the background.

Israelis demolish Palestinians houses

Thu, 14 Aug 2008
Israeli military forces have stormed Palestinian residents in the occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds), demolishing their houses by bulldozers.

Witnesses said Israeli bulldozers demolished three houses in the city, banning the settlers from retrieving any of their property before their houses were completely destroyed, International Middle East Media Center reported.

Israeli forces destroy Palestinian houses in Jerusalem (al-Quds) under the pretext that the houses are built without the required permission.

Israel occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds) in 1967 Six-Day war and since then it has rarely given the Palestinian residents any permission to build.

Last year, Israel pledged to halt all settlement activities in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) and West Bank as the peace talks were revived at US-hosted Annapolis Conference.

East Jerusalem (al-Quds) is widely viewed as the capital of Palestinians' future state.

Despite Israel's commitments not to establish new settlements in the Palestinian land, it has in recent months announced the construction of hundreds of new Jewish homes in the territory in breach of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.


“In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.”
John S. McCain, Aug. 13, 2008


Good War, Bad War?

The Coming Surge in Afghanistan


Every war has a story line: World War I was “The war to end all wars.” World War II was “The war to defeat fascism.”

Iraq was sold as a war to halt weapons of mass destruction; then to overthrow Saddam Hussein, then to build democracy. In the end it was a fabrication. Built on a falsehood. Anchored in a fraud.

But Afghanistan is the “good war,” aimed at “those who attacked us,” in the words of columnist Frank Rich. It is “the war of necessity,” asserts the New York Times, to roll back the “power of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Barack Obama is making the distinction between the “bad war” in Iraq and the “good war” in Afghanistan a centerpiece of his run for the presidency. He proposes ending the war in Iraq and redeploying U.S. military forces in order “to finish the job in Afghanistan.” If elected, he says he would add 10,000 troops to the Afghan war. “This is a war we have to win,”

There is virtually no one in the U.S. nor the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) who calls for negotiating with the Taliban. Even the New York Times editorializes that those who want to talk “have deluded themselves.”

But the Taliban government did not attack the United States, our old ally, Osama bin Ladin, did.*** Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not at all the same organization (if one can really call Al Qaeda an “organization”), and no one seems to be listening to what the Afghans themselves are saying.

We should be.

A recent poll of Afghan sentiment found that, while the majority dislike the Taliban, 74 percent of them want negotiations and 54 percent would support a coalition government that included the Taliban.

The Canadian Globe and Mail poll reflects a deeply divided country where the majority are sitting on the fence as to what they think the final outcome of the war will be—40 percent think the current government of Hamid Karzai, allied with the U.S. and NATO, will prevail, 19 percent say the Taliban, 40 percent say it is “too early to say.”

There is also strong ambivalence about the presence of foreign troops. Only 14 percent want them out now, but 38 percent want them out within three to five years. In short, 52 percent of the Afghans don’t want a war to the finish.

They also have a far more nuanced view of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. While the majority oppose both groups—13 percent support the Taliban and 19 percent Al Qaeda—only 29 percent see the former organization as “a united political force.”

But that view doesn’t fit the West’s story line of the enemy as a tightly disciplined band of fanatics.

In fact, the Taliban appears to be evolving from a creation of the U.S. CIA, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan intelligence during Afghanistan’s war with the Soviet Union, to a polyglot collection of currents ranging from dedicated Islamists to nationalists. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar told the Agence France Presse early this year, “We’re fighting to free our country. We are not a threat to the world.”

Those are words that should give Obama, the New York Times and NATO pause.

The initial invasion in 2001 was easy because the Taliban had alienated itself from the vast majority of Afghans. But the weight of occupation, the rising number of civilian deaths, and the growing realization that the purpose of the invasion was to destroy Al Qaeda and the Taliban, not lift Afghanistan out of its crushing poverty, is shifting the resistance toward a war of national resistance.

No foreign power has ever won that battle in Afghanistan.

There is no mystery as to why things have gone increasingly badly for the U.S. and its allies.

As the U.S. steps up its air war, civilian casualties have climbed steadily over the past two years. Nearly 700 were killed in the first three months of 2008, a major increase over last year. In a recent incident, 47 members of a wedding party were killed in Helmand Province. In a society where clan, tribe and blood feuds are a part of daily life, that single act sowed a generation of enmity.

Anatol Lieven, a professor of war at King’s College London, says that a major impetus behind the growing resistance is anger over the death of family members and neighbors.

Civilian casualties appear to have played a role in the recent attack on a U.S. firebase near the Pakistan border that killed nine Americans and wounded 15. The former governor of the province told the New York Times that that local people probably joined the attackers because of their outrage over a July 4 U.S. air attack that killed up to 22 civilians.

Lieven says it is as if Afghanistan is “becoming a sort of surreal hunting estate, in which the U.S. and NATO breed the very terrorists they then track down.”

According to Reto Stocken of the Red Cross, “large areas of the south, the southeast, the east and also growing parts of the west” are in an “emergency situation,” which means “continual insecurity and an absence of basic services.”

Once a population turns against an occupation (or just decides to stay neutral) there are few places in the world where an occupier is going to come out on the winning side. Afghanistan, with its enormous size and daunting geography, is certainly not one of them.

Writing in Der Spiegel, Ullrich Fichter says that glancing at a map in the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) headquarters outside Kandahar could give one the impression that Afghanistan is under control. “Colorful little flags identify the NATO’s troops presence throughout the country,” Germans in the northeast, Americans in the east, Italians in the West, British and Canadians in the south, with flags from Turkey, the Netherlands, Spain, Lithuania, Australia and Sweden scattered between.

“But the flags are an illusion,” he says, and underlines the point by recounting his visit to the governor of Helmand province at his residence in Lashkar Gah: two helicopters skim the ground at high speed to land at a soccer field; the journalists don body armor and board armored personal carriers. The governor’s residence is less than 300 yards from the landing zone.

“The governor reports that half the districts in his province are out of control. Alliances formed by the Taliban and the drug barons rule the villages, and none of the highways are safe against bomb attacks, roadside bandits, and kidnappers,” he says.

The UN considers one third of the country “inaccessible,” and almost half, “high risk.” The number of roadside bombs has increased fivefold over 2004, and the number of armed attacks have jumped by a factor of 10. In the first three months of 2008, attacks around Kabul have surged by 70 percent. The current national government has little presence outside its capital. President Karzai is routinely referred to as “the mayor of Kabul.”

According to Der Spiegel, the Taliban are moving north toward Kunduz, just as they did in 1994 when they broke out of their base in Kandahar and started their drive to take over the country. The Asia Times says the insurgents’ strategy is to cut NATO’s supply lines from Pakistan and establish a “strategic corridor” from the border to Kabul.

The Bush Administration recently sent 3,200 Marines into Helmand, and the U.S. moved an aircraft carrier group into the Gulf of Oman for additional air support. Admiral Michael Mullen, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is calling for the additional deployment of some 10,000 more troops.

The U.S. and NATO currently have about 60,000 troops in Afghanistan. But many NATO troops are primarily concerned with rebuilding and development—the story that was sold to the European public to get them to support the war—and only secondarily with war fighting.

The Afghan Army adds about 70,000 to that, but only two brigades and one headquarters unit are considered capable of operating on their own.

According to U.S. counter insurgency doctrine, however, Afghanistan would require at least 400,000 troops to even have a chance of “winning” the war. Adding another 10,000 U.S. troops will have virtually no effect.

As the situation continues to deteriorate, there are voices, including those of the Karzai government and both U.S. presidential candidates, that advocate expanding the war into Pakistan in a redux of the invasions of Laos and Cambodia, when the Vietnam War began spinning out of control. Both those invasions were not only a disaster for the invaders, they led directly to the genocide in Cambodia.

By any measure, a military “victory” in Afghanistan is simply not possible. The only viable alternative is to begin direct negotiations with the Taliban, and to draw in regional powers with a stake in the outcome: Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, China and India.

But to do so will require abandoning our “story” about the Afghan conflict and recognize that war is increasingly a tactic that has no place in the new millennium.

Conn Hallinan is an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus.


***Pardon me Conn but bin Laden did not attack us on 9/11. This false flag attack by elements of our government and Israel was the stimulus for the US to invade Afghanistan and later Iraq. It's time for all journalists of integrity to stand up and at the very least call for a new independent non-US government investigation with full subpoena power.The truth about 9/11 is necessary to have any honest dialog about the wars in the middle east.



“The Neocons Are Dying to Nuke Iran”

An interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

By Kathy Sanborn

13/08/08 "ICH" -- - Sanborn: When I read your article, “Marching Off Into Tyranny,” I was impressed by how you were able to concisely sum up one of the most important issues that we face as Americans, namely, the erosion of our civil liberties, mostly due to fabricated terrorism such as the anthrax scare and the attacks on 9/11. You talk about the Florida university professor, Al-Arian, who continues to be victimized by the Feds although a jury has cleared him of any terrorism charges. [As of August 8, 2008, the Associated Press states, “U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema postponed the trial indefinitely, questioning whether the government was overeager in filing charges.” –KS]

What was your wake-up call, Dr. Roberts, to the fact that the current administration was determined to take away the civil liberties of Americans?

Roberts: When they responded to 9/11 with the Patriot Act. That document was thick, and it would have taken months and months to prepare it, yet it came out shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Why does combating terrorism require an assault on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? It was clear to me that there was an undeclared agenda there.

On the day of 9/11, I knew right away that something was wrong. I had been an engineering student at Georgia Tech, and things just didn’t add up. As I watched the towers fall, I could see that the buildings were blowing up from the top, at least initially. The airplanes caused asymmetrical damage, and I don’t think the planes were large enough to cause the buildings to topple. When you chop a tree down, it doesn’t blow up, it falls.

The buildings were blowing up, not falling down.

Then when I saw pictures of the alleged terrorists, most of them looked just like kids. They were small, and airplane passengers wouldn’t have hesitated to try to take them down. The average American male should have been able to take care of the hijackers.

And how they could have fooled all of the intelligence agencies, outwit NORAD, and so on; it just didn’t make any sense.

They were really after our civil liberties. That was their undeclared agenda. The effect is that no one has any protection under the law.

Sanborn: In your article, you mention the anthrax scare as being a logical part of the 9/11 “false-flag” series of events. Now that we know the anthrax actually came from a US government lab and not from an alleged cave in Afghanistan, the theory seems to hold water. And you point out that recently scientist Bruce Ivins was implicated in the anthrax case after his apparent “suicide.”

You also discuss how the Bush administration lied to ABC reporter Brian Ross by telling him the anthrax was made in Iraq by none other than Saddam Hussein, thus clearing the way for the US to invade Iraq and to pass the Patriot Act. Dr. Roberts, are journalists these days in the habit of simply believing and accepting everything the administration tells them, or are some of them on the “company” (CIA) payroll?

Roberts: I suspect both. It’s a corporate-run media, especially since the Clinton administration days, and many of the journalists act as “disinfo” agents for the government.

Back in the 1970s when I was a Senate aide, I would turn on the TV in the evening and the news reports would bear no resemblance to what had actually happened that day. I noticed that there were no journalists in the gallery, so how had the stories gotten to them? It turned out that the aides were calling the press, and the journalists were taking the stories, virtually running them verbatim. Journalists are lazy.

When I was working in the Reagan administration, I noticed that Stockman, Darman, and Jim Baker had their own special spin on things in a way that served their own agendas, and not the President’s.

Sanborn: What is clearly shocking and “in your face” about this administration is the fact that, as you say, the administration officials wanted for questioning by Congress (such as Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers) simply refuse to comply, and that seems to be the end of the story. These officials demonstrate to us that they believe they are above the law. It brings to mind the recent flip comment by a shrugging Vice President Dick Cheney: “So?” That attitude says it all, doesn’t it, Dr. Roberts?

Roberts: They think they’re not accountable. They use the law against their enemies. The acquiescence of the Congress is hard to explain, though.

Sanborn: Sometimes I wonder if the Congress is being bribed or blackmailed. That could explain why they refuse to stop illegal wars and torture.

Roberts: The purpose of illegal spying is to get blackmail information on members of Congress, and it started well before 9/11.

Sanborn: You say that no amount of evidence would convince the American public that their government, or rogue elements therein, would ever have been involved in 9/11 or the anthrax scare. It almost sounds like Americans have been brainwashed to a certain extent. Dr. Roberts, why can’t the US populace get their minds around the fact that we are losing our rights by the day, and that this so-called “war on terror” is the root cause?

Roberts: Most of them think that because they aren’t doing anything wrong, they have nothing to fear. I would ask them this: Why did the founding fathers write the Constitution?

Americans believe that they are the salt of the earth, and that “Evil tries to get us because we are so good.” Bush says, “They hate us for our freedoms.” That’s a farce.

Sanborn: Let’s assume that the Bush administration hasn’t had their fill of power quite yet. Based on everything we’ve seen so far, it might not be a stretch to speculate that Bush and company might wish to contrive an “event” in order to suspend the upcoming elections and to remain in control of the White House. What say you, Dr. Roberts, to this possibility?

Roberts: I think it is a possibility. I warned of this back in ’06, I believe. The event would have to do with Iran. However, we’ve run out of allies to attack Iran, except for Israel. Attacking Iran would cause more blowback than we could manage, and we can’t get Russia or China to go along with our administration’s desire to attack Iran. We can’t push the Chinese or the Russians around in any way.

People may wake up to the truth yet. Ron Suskind’s new book, The Way of the World, is powerful. [He states that the Bush administration produced a fake letter claiming to demonstrate a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, in order to justify war with Iraq. There was no such link. –KS]

The frame-up of a dead man, Ivins, in the anthrax case isn’t working with knowledgeable people, either. Ivins couldn’t have done it because he worked in labs that made vaccines, and he didn’t have the special equipment necessary to make the anthrax.

Sanborn: By the way, Dr. Roberts, I wonder what your take is on the recent news that former astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell has, once again, stated that there have been, and still are, alien visitors to Earth. Could this “aliens are officially real” story magically evolve into a fake “alien invasion” to replace the faux -and failed- “war on terror” gambit?

Roberts: I don’t think they could fake an alien attack. No one would expect the Bush administration to be able to defeat an alien invasion.

Sanborn: Switching topics now, I wanted to ask you about the state of our rather perilous economy. Because you are an economic expert (the “Father of Reaganomics,” I’m told), what is your opinion on where the economy is headed?

Roberts: The US economy is in serious trouble. They need to keep interest rates low to bail out all those exotic securities and products, and, at the same time, the government can finance the budget only by foreign borrowing. The inflation rate is higher than our bond interest rate, so foreigners lose money when they sell the bonds. We’re probably engineering deals now with the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis to buy our bonds.

A higher interest rate will worsen the economy, but it’s already going down the drain even with low interest rates.

In addition, most of the good jobs are shipped out of the country, and the remaining good jobs are filled with foreigners on work visas. In the 21st century, no net new jobs were created except in non-tradable, low-paid, domestic services.

Sanborn: Is this all by design, or just pure ineptness?

Roberts: I think it’s hubris. They don’t realize the effects of what they’re doing. They want to plunder while they’re in office, and give to their rich friends.

Sanborn: You make it clear, Dr. Roberts, that you believe we are running out of time. At what point will it be too late to take action? How much time do we have left, in your opinion, before all of our rights are stripped away?

Roberts: One more Republican to the Supreme Court will mean the end of civil liberties, the end of separation of powers, and the end of constitutional government.

The neocons would love to attack Iran, and have Iran retaliate. They could use any retaliation as an excuse to nuke Iran. The neocons are dying to use nuclear weapons. They’d love it if our aircraft carriers in the Gulf were sunk, because we could turn around and nuke Iran. I think that’s the scenario of Dick Cheney, the Weekly Standard, Bill O’Reilly, and others.

I don’t know if Iran realizes its peril.

But, as I’ve said earlier, attacking Iran would cause more blowback than we could handle.

Sanborn: Americans in the know always ask, “What can we do?”

Roberts: It’s almost impossible for us to do anything. We can vote, but votes are decided at the beginning of the election by the programming of the Diebold electronic voting machines.

Some people have written off democracy, honesty, and integrity . . . When you have corruption in the people themselves, it’s hard to do something about corruption in government.

I can’t say I’m hopeful, but the administration’s way is not as clear as it was on 9/11.

Sanborn: Dr. Roberts, thank you for spending time with me today.

Kathy Sanborn is an author, journalist, and recording artist. Currently Kathy is working on a new recording project, slated for completion in 2008.

Kathy welcomes your questions, comments, and suggestions for future articles. Write to her at

© 2008 Kathy Sanborn



Faces of the Fallen


Total Fatalities

Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,122
Operation Enduring Freedom: 564
(Updated August 14, 2008)


  1. Nice comment re: 9/11 and reporters. That is the fulcrum around which all else revolves.

  2. Thanks,
    We're pretty much on the same page.