Monthly Archives: October 2007

US Train And Iranian Train Headed For Collision!

Two trains are headed toward one another on the same track, each driven by an out-of-conrol engineer who is convinced the other train will somehow get out of his way. One is driven by a religious fanatic, Ahmadinejad, who has been confused by praise from the Muslim world, into believing he can actually triumph over the United States in a war. The other is driven by Dick Cheney and his sidekick, George Bush, who do not intend to go down in history as allowing Iran to become a nuclear military power. Renaud Giraud, writing in Le Figaro, raises these metaphors to illustrate the madness now enveloping the United States and Iran. He cites three factors as propelling Bush/Cheney: their fear of Iran’s military capabilities in the future, strong bipartisan support in Congress for tough action against Iran, and Saudi Arabian and Israel lobbies which emphasize the dangers of Iran to Middle East stability.

The ironic aspect of the current conflict is that in 2001, Iran publicly condemned the 9/11 attack and in 2001 gave quiet assistance to American military forces in their Afghanistan campaign. The Iranian government in December, 2001, supported American efforts at the Bonn conference to implement political and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. After offering these supports, President Bush in January, 2002 listed Iran as one of the “axis of evil” threatening the world. The recent resignation of Larijani both as negotiator on nuclear issues and as secretary general of the Iranian Security Council reflects growing strength of hard liners.

A sad aspect of the current presidential primary campaigns is failure on the part of any Democratic candidate to articulate an intelligent Iran policy. They fear being accused of “weakness” just as they feared in 2003 of refusing to back the Bush invasion of Iraq. America need voices of reason about Iran, but they appear muted in the face of media taking them to task for being weak. On the other side, Ahmadinejad is bewitched by his seeming popularity for standing up to America and may have come to the wrong conclusion about Bush and Cheney. They will resort to military action regardless of the cost to their nation. After all, isn’t Ahmadinejad doing the same to his country?

Canada Stuck In Afghanistan, Wondering How To Get Out

There is growing concern within Canada about the Afghan quagmire which has caused their nation to become stuck in a fight that has no end, and seemingly, no purpose. They are disgusted at the porous Pakistan border which protects Taliban insurgents and allows them refuge from NATO and American attacks. janice Stein, of the University of Toronto says in her new book, “The Unexpected War,” that the Canadian government really did not know very much about Afghanistan, but wanted to help a traumatized America reeling from the 9/11 attacks. She argues the Bush administration wanted cover for its real target- Iraq – and asked Canada to supply troops in order that Americans could be diverted for the invasion of Iraq.

The problem of Afghanistan is that once Bush decided on attacking Iraq, his administration lost real interest in Afghanistan which became a secondary operation. Afghanistan was left without sufficient military forces to carry out operations against the Taliban who were allowed to recuperate in the safety of Pakistan until they were ready to return to action. According to James Travers, writing in the Toronto Star, “So even if many Canadians don’t yet grasp how we unwittingly drifted into a war or why the government determined to keep fighting it, there should be no surprise that the mission is so problematic. With scattered strategies and varying degrees of enthusiasm, coalition partners are trying to do at minimum cost a job that demands maximum effort.” Perhaps, the next president of the United States will have to make a decision for undertaking a major operation or allowing Afghanistan to drift further into chaos.

US Military Lawyer Prepares Blast At Guantanamo Prison Procedures

An American military lawyer who has been involved in numerous Guantanamo tribunals is prepared to openly express his disgust with the unconstitutional procedures occurring at the prison. The whistle blower, a major who is thoroughly familiar with the entire Guantanamo operation, described the detention of a hospital administrator from Sudan as “unconscionable.” The major says that in rare circumstances when it was decided that a detainee was no longer an enemy combatant, senior commanders ordered another panel in order to over rule the decision. He reports “acrimony” during a “heated conference” call from Admiral McGarragh, who reports to the Secretary of the US Navy, when a panel refused to describe several Uighur detainees as enemy combatants. Senior military commanders wanted to know how they could disagree with a previous designation that the Uighur were enemy combatants. The major told the admiral it was good for the system that people actually disagreed and received no response to his comment.

The Sudanese hospital admintstrator, Abdel Hamad,has been held for five years without any evidence that he participated in terrorist activities. His lawyers came across a sworn statement from a member of a military panel who said he was frightened of retaliation if he allowed his name to be used in the case. The major who is ready to speak out will have his chance on December 5 before the US Supreme Court when an attempt is made to shut down the prison. According to Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, the Guantanamo prison, “It’s a kangaroo court system and completely corrupt. Stalin had show trials but at Guantanamo they are not even show trials because it all takes place in secret.” Such is the American system of justice under the Bush administration.

All Somewhat Quiet On The Turkish Front

A feeling of quiet unease pervades many parts of Turkey as people attempt to sort out the situation. Late Friday evening, Chief of Staff, General Yasar Buyukant said neither the government has instructed the military to undertake a cross border operation into northern Iraq against separatist terrorist hideouts there, nor has the military requested permission to carry out such a mission. He said military leaders will meet with Prime Minister Recep Erdogan on November 5 in order to determine future operations. General Buyukant also noted the Turkish military was extremely disappointed in failure of the Iraq government to demonstrate a willingness to crack down on Kurdish rebels operating within Iraq.

Life goes on in Turkey with the minority Kurdish population uneasy regarding the situation. They are caught in a cross fire between an angry Turkish people anxious for revenge against the killing of their soldiers, and a sense of identify with a Kurdish desire for an independent nation. However, most Turkish Kurds regard themselves as members of the Turkish community and realize war will result in an outbreak of hate against them. In the meantime there is uneasiness but life proceeds at its normal pace.

Japan Fingers Foreigners As Potential Terrorists

The Japanese government is introducing a new anti-terrorist program in the coming months. From now on, the 6.7 million tourists and other foreigners visiting their country will be finger printed and photographed in order to assist the immigration people fight terrorism. According to immigration official, Takumi Sato, this “will help keep terrorists out of the country.” As of this date, there has never been a single terrorist act committed by a foreigner in Japan. Of course, Japanese terrorists have committed acts of violence within their own country as well as in other areas of the world. Perhaps, this is an example of “much ado about nothing” except to pester and insult foreigners visiting Japan.

Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates Blasts NATO For Afghan Failure

Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, sharply criticized NATO army chiefs for failure on the part of the European Union to make a substantial commitment to winning the war in Afghanistan. “In Afghanistan, a handful of allies are paying the price and bearing the burden. The failure to meet commitments puts the Afghan mission– and with it, the credibility of NATO at real risk.” There are currently 26,000 American and 23,000 NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan. He questioned why the world’s greatest military alliance is unable to defeat Afghan rebels, and particularly focused on failure of NATO to supply helicopters which has caused great strain on the American air force. His remarks drew little reaction from the generals in the audience who only gave him some polite applause.

Secretary Gates might be in a stronger position if he could explain why American forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan when the opportunity for success was great. He might explain the lack of any overall plan other than fight and fight. On one hand, farmers are having their poppy fields destroyed while, on the other hand, America wants to win them over from favoring the Taliban who allow poppy fields. President Karzai of Afghanistan has asked the Taliban to negotiate with him only to have his request greeted with anger by the Bush administration. Perhaps, NATO forces realize the incoherence of present military operations and are reacting with disdain to any American advice and wondering if they are better off simply leaving the chaos. Is there a coherent plan? What are its timetables? Has it been put together with the cooperation of the Afghan government? After all, it is their country, not ours.

Turkey Demands Iraq Hand Over Kurd Rebel Leaders

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Cemil Cicek, told a television audience his government was demanding Iraq turn over the top Kurdish rebel leaders. He said a list of 18 prominent Kurdish leaders had been turned over to the Iraq government in hope it would take action. Turkey is expecting cooperation from the United States in quelling the actions of Kurdish rebels, but General Benjamin Mixon, who heads US forces in northern Iraq, said he would do “absolutely nothing” regarding containing or capturing Kurdish rebels. There are no reports of any Iraq officials taking action against the PKK rebels.

There is a stand off for a moment in the Turkish-Kurd conflict. The Turkish government apparently is allowing the United States and the Iraq government to do something about the continued attacks by PKK forces into Turkey. If nothing is done, this allows the Iraq government to claim it has exhausted all opportunities for peaceful resolution of the problem and must now take action. On the flip side, it would be extremely difficult for the Iraq government to pursue and capture Kurdish rebels. The PKK is well armed and they are located in mountainous areas where air power will have scant effect. The Iraq armed forces have enough problems dealing with insurgents and terrorists in Iraq to go chasing Kurds in northern mountains.

One wonders if prior to America’s invasion of Iraq anyone in the Bush administration actually explored problems and issues that would arise if Iraq was defeated. The Turkey-Kurd issue was known to just about every Middle Eastern analyst and everyone of them would have forecast the present problem.

Criminal Terror In Kenya As Police Go Wild

Reports from Kenya tell of a wave of killings by the police who are attempting to wipe out a criminal gang by the name of Mungiki. Scores of bodies are turning up on the outskirts of Nairobi as well as in the countryside with evidence they were executed by a single shot to the head. The Kenya police are blamed for this outburst of violence. The Mungiki gang began in the 1990s as a semi-religious sect, but apparently saw more productive outlets for their talents in the world of crime. They became major players in protection rackets and other criminal activities. It is believed politicians draw upon their talents to have those opposing them in elections taken care of in a way that would please the old Murder Incorporated gang of New York. The Kenya police have gained a reputation for brutality. Last year they demolished scores of huts in the slums around Nairobi and drove thousands of people back to the countryside. Last June during one of their slum raids, they killed 39 people. As in many developing nations, a brutal police force is a major impediment to peace and security.

After reading of the rising crime in Nairobi, this writer wonders if America might send their boastful former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, to Kenya where he can demonstrate his supposed skills in ending crime in a large city. One doubts if he would walk the streets of Nairobi challenging criminals.

German Environment Minister Challenges US To Act Responsibly

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Environment Minister, blasted the American do nothing attitude as a major impediment to obtaining world wide cooperation in the fight to achieve a reduction in pollution. Germany played a major role in securing European Union approval for a 20% reduction in emissions and there is a clause that might up that figure to 30% if major industrial corporations give complete support to the campaign. But, where are the Americans when it comes to environment control? Gabriel believes it is time to confront the United States, “the challenge remains that of convincing the Americans that they have a responsibility also for their citizens who suffer from climate change. Look at the hurricane in New Orleans.” He is concerned that America’s negligence toward climate issues merely encourages developing nations to shirk their own efforts in controlling pollution.

China and India are rapidly expanding their economies and both nations are entering production of automobiles. They have a combined population of about 2 billion people. What if their economic growth results in an additional 200 million cars on the roads? America appears to be blind to the enormous pollution problems of the future unless action is taken today.

Israel Sends Mixed Signals On Desire For Peace With Palestinians

The government of Israel continues sending confusing signals to Palestinians and the world about its desires to establish permanent peace in the Middle East. Yesterday, Defense Minister Barak said Israel would begin cutting electricity supplies to Gaza for each rocket fired from the area, today Prime Minister Olmert told President Abbas his government has no intention of creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Olmert also indicated he had uncertain feelings about the upcoming Annapolis peace conference. “If all goes well, we will meet in Annapolis, (but) Annapolis is not made to be the event for the declaration of peace.” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed that Israel was using Annapolis as a cover to continue its policies of aggression against Palestinians.

Prime Minister Olmert continues to reflect his lack of grasp regarding how to proceed towards peace. He is unable to make concrete statements that reflect a commitment to peace, but obfuscates his intent by contradictory words. On one hand, his Defense Minister is openly stating a policy to cut electricity while Olmert says he is not attempting to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. What does he expect to happen if hospitals and schools and homes lack electricity? Why is he going to Annapolis if he doesn’t wish to attain the best possible agreement leading to long term peace? Olmert has yet to clearly indicate his intentions at the Annapolis meeting except to say he is willing to talk. Palestinians and Israelis have been talking for over fifty years, when is the time “appropriate” for a final peace settlement? A recent story in the Jerusalem Post reflects the Israeli government’s confusion or incompetence. Wissam Abujwa, a student in environmental studies living in Gaza, has now been prevented from leaving Gaza by Israeli officials after being turned down for graduate work at a British university, a German university, and at the Avara Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura. He is being invited by a prominent Israeli institution to study the environment and Israel officials refuse to let it happen. What exactly do these incompetents expect Mr. Abujwa to feel or do in the future? By the way, 670 students are being barred from leaving Gaza to attend colleges in Europe or the Middle East.