Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Americans in Afghanistan: The new Taliban?

In yesterday’s column, Glenn Greenwald, quoting from articles in The Guardian and New York Times, notes that U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been involved in torture, kidnapping, and murder of innocent Afghan citizens.

So that’s where the US is after almost 12 years of waging war in that country, the longest war in its history. The US is blamed on equal terms with the Taliban, at least. It maintains and supports (if not directs) non-government militias which are perceived, with ample evidence, as being death squads and torture units. Thus do we find, yet again, that the fruits of US humanitarian interventions – liberating the oppressed and bringing freedom and democracy to the world – are little more than replicating the abuses of the tyrannical regime it targeted, just under a different owner.

Late Afternoon Links

A NATO airstrike in Afghanistan has killed 4 Taliban commanders.  Another man, one woman, and five children were also killed and another five children were wounded.  But who’s counting?

State of the Union.  To paraphrase:  “We’re going to raise taxes on the rich so we can spend more on everything without increasing the deficit.  We will continue to run up a huge debt  paid for by our children because now is not the time for fiscal sanity and those poor little bastards can’t vote anyway.”  This is, of course, like promising to stop beating your kids, but not while they are still young and defenseless.  Oh, and drones will continue to be America’s primary tool of foreign policy.

Christopher Dorner is presumed dead after the cabin where he was hiding was burned down.  “People on the scene are as confident as they can be without seeing the body that it is Dorner inside,” the LA police chief, Charlie Beck, said.  I take that to mean they are just as sure that this is their guy as they were when they shot up those innocent bystanders that they also thought were Dorner.

Israel is partially lifting a gag order on its domestic news outlets enabling them to report the news about the identity of Prisoner X that is already being widely reported in the rest of the world.  From the article: “Gag orders and military censorship are common in Israel.”  The model of a freedom loving U.S. ally.

Italy’s former military intelligence chief is going to the slammer for ten years for his part in the CIA orchestrated broad daylight kidnapping of the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003. Three Italian secret service officials were also sentenced to six years each.  Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald highlights the  irony of complaints by the U.S. State Department regarding abuses by police and security forces in Egypt.

Last night, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama claimed: “both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts”.  John Stossel says “Bullshit!”That’s ridiculous!

Federal Spending

Federal Spending

Morning Links

  • President Obama condemned a third nuclear test by North Korea calling it a “highly provocative act” that demands “swift and credible action by the international community” against North Korea. Countries that already have nuclear weapons always strongly condemn other countries getting them.
  • Glenn Greenwald asks whether drones should be used to kill Christopher Dorner, the ex-police  officer who is accused of waging war on the LAPD.  Whether drones are or are not being used is in dispute.
  • The U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in the 6,656 death of military personnel.  Of course, U.S. Presidents are always wiling to pay the cost of war with other people’s lives.  But, you rarely hear about the other “sacrifices” Presidents have been  willing to commit American soldiers to: 1700 limb amputations, 50,000 combat wounds, 130,000 cases of PTSD, and 253,330 cases of traumatic brain injury (6500 of which are severe).
  • The identity of Israel’s most secret prisoner has been uncovered,  I know it’s Kind of hard to imagine a democratic country secretly imprisoning a citizen without trial and then forcing the press to keep quiet about it.   Hahaha!   Just kidding about that last part.  Nothing is hard to imagine about democratic countries anymore.

  • Knut, the polar bear that became a sensation in 2007 and then unexpectedly died in 2011 will soon have a new home at the Berlin’s natural history museum.




[Updated below with a couple items from The Agitator]

  • Ohio Attorney General releases a report and animation (below) of a Cleveland incident where 13 cops fired 137 rounds at a suspect vehicle killing the occupants.  Police insist someone shot at them from the car and took off in pursuit of it.  The chase involved “nearly 60 vehicles”, but no gun or shell casings were ever found in the car.  The state attorney general condemned the actions as a systemic failure, but the police chief and city council insist that existing polices and procedures work fine.

U.S. escalates provocations aimed at Iran

From the New York Times:

Under the new crackdown, the United States is tightening the rules governing countries it has allowed to keep buying Iranian oil, as long as they show they are weaning themselves of it. From now on, when China, Japan, South Korea and India, among others, pay for oil deliveries, they will be required to put that money into a local bank account, which Iran can use only to buy goods within that country.

It would be hard not to see the similarity between this and the ramp up to the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq.  In fact, it would be hard to see any difference between this situation and numerous other fabrications used by the U.S. to justify its use of war as its primary tool of foreign policy.  This time the WMD is Iran’s nuclear program.

Whether they are pursuing a nuclear weapons program or not, it’s impossible to make a case that Iran poses any direct threat to the U.S.  But. America’s role as defender of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian makes Iran a target of U.S. aggression.  In other words, we are Israel’s big bully brother and it’s become a foregone conclusion that the U.S. will stand side-by-side with Israel against any country Israel feels threatened by.  This is a touchy situation for the U.S. because Israel, with it’s take-over of “The Holy Land” and perpetual antagonism toward its historical residents as well as the surrounding nations, has the unique distinction of being capable of uniting the entire Arab world.  The only force that prevents that is the U.S. which, though its support of numerous corrupt dictators in the area, keeps the Arab countries at perpetually odds with each other.

In fact, the U.S. has a long history of aiding and abetting the subjugation of the Iranian people under despotic rulers, so the fact that they seem less than friendly toward American overtures is not exactly surprising even aside from our recent attempts to destroy their economy and destabilize their current government.

In any case the sanctions, while hurting the people of Iran, don’t seem to be having much impact on Iran’s nuclear policies or their willingness to kowtow to the U.S. government.

“The people may be suffering in Iran,” one senior official involved in Iran strategy said last week, “but the supreme leader isn’t, and he’s the only one who counts.”

And that Supreme Leader just blew off the U.S. offer for one-to-one talks.  I suspect the question the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei keeps asking himself is why the U.S. is so consumed by the Iranian nuclear program while showing no such interest in Israel’s secret development of nuclear weapons.

Afternoon links

  • Greenwald dissects the Obama administration’s latest rationalization for its power to act as judge, jury, and executioner of any American citizen it deems to maybe possibly pose an imminent threat to some U.S. interest somewhere, sometime, with absolutely no oversight or checks and balances by the other two branches of government (which probably suits those other two branches just fine). also weighs in.
  • Argentina still thinks they’re going to get the Falkland Islands back.  I think they’re right.  I expect it to happen about the same time as Israel reverts back to Palestine.  Both cases represent instabilities maintained by force of arms that will eventually be unsustainable.

Morning Links

You can have all the free speech you want as long as it doesn’t paint Israel in an unfavorable light.

The UK uses the identities of dead children for undercover cops.

Having trouble attracting babes?  Become a serial killer.  Maggie McNeill explains why many  women are attracted to “Bad Boys“.

In the Your-Tax-Dollars-At-Work category, a 50 year old Canadian Super Bowl contest winner denied entry to go see the game because of a pot conviction back in 1981.

Thousands of hookers flocked to New Orleans for the Super Bowl, right?  Wrong.  And the myth is repeated every year for every major sporting event.

U.S. ramping up military drug war tactics in Latin America because, according to drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, the strategy has been working so well.

Massachusetts Dept of Transportation removes violent video games from rest stops and one mayor launches a campaign to get parents to remove them from their homes.  Because, while the government can’t really protect us from actual violence, they certainly can take action against harmless portrayals of violence.

Greenwald tears a few western leaders a new one…

Glenn Greenwald has a few choice words about an exchange between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Respect Party MP George Galloway.  It started like this:

Galloway stood to ask Cameron about a seeming contradiction in the policy of the British government (one shared by the US government). He wanted to know why it is that the British government is so intent on fighting and bombing Islamic extremists in Mali, while simultaneously arming and funding equally brutal Islamic extremists in Syria…

Cameron’s response:

“Some things come and go,” proclaimed the Prime Minister, “but there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway].”

Greenwald makes this observation:

As usual, anyone who questions the militarism of western governments is instantly smeared as a sympathizer or even supporter of tyrants. Thus, those who opposed the aggressive attack on Iraq were pro-Saddam; those who now oppose bombing Iran love the mullahs; those who oppose Nato intervention in Syria or Libya harbor affection for Assad and Ghadaffi – just as those who opposed the Vietnam War fifty years ago or Reagan’s brutal covert wars in Latin America thirty years ago were Communist sympathizers, etc. etc. Cameron’s outburst was just the standard smear tactic used for decades by western leaders to try to discredit anyone who opposes their wars.

The more important point here is that of all the people on the planet, there is nobody with less authority to accuse others of supporting “brutal Arab dictators in the world” than David Cameron and his Nato allies, including those in the Obama administration.

This is how I feel whenever I see Congress chewing out some group of corporate executives (oil companies, banks, auto manufacturers, etc) about their incompetence or greed, when Congress itself is the poster-child for corruption, callous self-interest, and financial ineptitude.

The icing on the cake for Americans comes at the end of the article, when he speaks of the same hypocrisy by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

The outgoing US Secretary of State on Wednesday unleashed this bizarre description of the Egyptian people: “It’s hard going from decades under one-party or one-man rule, as somebody said, waking up from a political coma and understanding democracy.”


Indeed, it was Hillary Clinton – not the Egyptian people – who proclaimed in 2009: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.”

I’m pretty certain that, in order to be successful as a politician, you have to be completely devoid of conscience.  And, in order to be a member of a political party, you have to be completely devoid of any capacity to detect that defect in your party’s candidates.

Ron Paul says Mali may be the next target for U.S. military

We’ve been helping the French, first with cargo transport, then refueling war planes, and soon we’ll have a drone base in the area.  But, as RT quotes Paul

France “doesn’t have the military resources to sustain its fight against Mali’s jihadists without help from the US military. For now, that amounts to the use of giant transport planes to ferry French troops into Mali, and planes to refuel French combat aircrafts that are pummeling the militants’ positions,” writes USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham. “But that might now be enough. As recent events have shown, Northern Africa has become an expanding battleground for jihadist groups with links to al-Qaeda.”

Actually, France has a long history of military incapability that ultimately draws on other western powers for rescue.

The whole video is here:

Obama on gun control

“…if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step…”

–Barack Obama, Jan. 14, 2013–.

Whenever someone claims that “saving even one child” justifies some legislation, you can be certain that you are about to become less free.  And, because this happens so frequently,  the child that is supposedly being saved, is going to grow up in a world much different from the one you enjoyed as a child.

Claims like this are intentionally designed to elicit an emotional reaction that trumps rational deliberation.   Not only does it work, but the public never seems to tire of it or see through the manipulation, which is why it is almost always used to justify bad legislation.  It’s has the effect of making people instantly stupid.

According to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone attacks have killed at least 204 children in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia over the last seven years.

You want to save some children, Mr President?  How about you clean your own house before laying the blame at the feet of the American public.  Stop your drone strikes. Don’t do it to save a bunch of Pakistani and Yemeni children.  We already know you don’t give a shit about them.  Do it to save American children who are likely to be the victims of the next 9/11-style attack that will inevitably come if we keep making enemies of the entire Muslim world by continuously and callously killing their children.