Friday, February 29, 2008

"Able Company Warlords"

Here we examine Can-do zeal drives Able Company, by Philip Smucker, in its entirety; I have added in four maps, together with my comments.

ABLE MAIN BASE, Afghanistan - In a bold and risky push into the Hindu Kush, the US military's 173rd Airborne Combat Team has set up dozens of small operating bases across some of the most remote terrain on Earth.

The feat is being made possible by the US military's airlift capability and a new can-do spirit that pervades the middle ranks of the US-led mission north of Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, in both ethnic Pashtun and Nuristani areas.

Big to small -- here's what part of Afghanistan we're talking about, Nangarhar Province, highlighted in the map of Afghanistan:

Here you can see the northern part of the province. In the lower left corner is Jalalabad, with a road coming up from the bottom of the map and exiting off to the left of the map. This is the main road that runs east to the famous Khyber Pass, and from there to Peshawar, Pakistan; to the west, it goes on to Kabul. You can also see a main road leading northward from Jalalabad into provincial country.

This is not some out-of-the-way part of the country. Though not terribly far from the Pakistani border, neither is it on the frontier. Importantly, it is along the main line-of-communication, the road to the Khyber Pass; insurgent success here could be very significant, threatening the approaches to a major city -- Jalalabad -- and cutting one of Afghanistan's most important arteries.

These next two maps show, in addition to the roads and villages, the topography. This map shows the western side of the northern tip of the province....

And this one shows the eastern side of the northern tip of Nangarhar.

On the sides of these last two maps are some marks indicating minutes (30 and 40) of latitude. One minute of latitude is one nautical mile, a little more than a statute mile, a little less than two kilometers. Ten minutes is equivalent to 11.5 miles. This gives you a way to judge distance on these maps.

Platoon-sized elements in the US military are fanning out from small bases to make contact with remote villages. They are supported with helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in an effort to entice Afghans to throw out al-Qaeda-backed insurgents and take advantage of new development projects.

Notice in the last two maps that the villages may be only a few miles apart, but at times the map shows no significant line of communication between them -- not only no road, but not even a trail is depicted. This is why helicopters are needed for mobility, and -- together with attack planes -- for support should a battle suddenly develop.

The new push stands in stark contrast to the first several years of the US efforts in Afghanistan, which were characterized by large bases, heavy bombing of suspected targets and little interaction between infantrymen and Afghan civilians.

In some valleys, US forces face stiff resistance and platoon leaders say they are bracing for a major spring offensive ordered by al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders in nearby Pakistan. Kunar and neighboring Nuristan provinces remain a sieve for jihadis anxious to undercut the US efforts.

In other far-flung areas, however, the American counter-insurgency efforts are making striking inroads where other harder-edged US fighting thrusts have failed. American soldiers, sometimes scoffed at as wimps for their heavy body armor, are now admired for their willingness to walk among hills with shepherds and fight toe-to-toe with the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

This is interesting. It somewhat reminds me of the Marine Combined Action Platoons of the Vietnam era.

This base, marked by a billboard displaying a Trojan helmet and the words "Able Company Warlords", sits beneath the Avisgar ridgeline where some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan has gone on in the past two years.

Despite the ironic nom de guerre for the fighters, most based in Vincenza, Italy, soldiers spend the lion's share of their days consumed with talk of water systems, retaining walls, new schools and health clinics.

Nevertheless, even as US military officers briefed this reporter in a far-reaching strategy to stabilize vast swathes of the Hindu Kush and offer humanitarian aid, a typical battle broke out this week in the adjacent Watapor Valley.

A pair of A-10 "Warthogs" and at least two F-16s screeched through the blue skies, dropping their payloads. A US officer said his men had "vectored" enemy hideouts through radio intercepts, adding that bombs had eliminated a 15-man insurgent unit.

Squatting on a boulder beneath the air war, base commander Captain Louis Frketic described the new push into remote areas: "Our goal as tactical leaders is to focus on the population," he said. "We have to figure out new ways to embed with the locals and engage them - charismatically."

Frketic said part of his own motivation came from a story he had read about how French foot soldiers in Napoleon's army quartered with local citizenry across Europe over two centuries ago and, in doing so, helped to slowly disseminate ideas of democracy and human rights.

The blue-eyed Floridian said he had asked his own foot soldiers to fan out into nearby villages and spend the night with local elders. "They just relate aspects of their lives, the normal things in life, and the Afghans are able to pick up - how should I say - our belief system and the way we look at the world," he said. "Hopefully that will be a two-way street."

The American soldier has always had a way of making friends with foreign civilians.

Still, an American soldier in all his high-tech weaponry and battle plates can look imposing to a gaggle of turbaned elders. Even getting past the offered green tea can be troublesome if Apache helicopters are bisecting the skies overhead. Tribal elders will often spend hours on end negotiating for higher dollar compensation for Afghan civilian casualties caused by errant US bullets and bombs.

Frketic is sincere, however, and his optimism has worn off on several of his young lieutenants. In his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, the 29-year-old officer and son of a Vietnam veteran has taken it on himself to learn to speak a passable Pashtu.

Learning Pashtu is an admirable accomplishment.

"Some Afghans hear that Americans don't respect their religion and don't respect their culture," he said. "Learning their language demonstrates, I think, a will to understand and a will to respect - something I think they are looking for."


But Frketic, a college-educated veteran of an earlier deployment to Afghanistan, is the exception to the rule. Most of the young American fighters who trek through the mountains and streams of Afghanistan's remotest corners are between 19 and 23 years of age. They did not join the military to be aid workers and as infantrymen they have been trained to focus on "closing with and killing" the enemy.

"Half the time, I don't think they care what we do for them," says a young fighter, who has seen two of his colleagues killed this year. "We stopped taking in assistance two months ago when they attacked us with a roadside bomb. Sometimes, the Afghans play along with us, just long enough to get a little more HA [humanitarian assistance] and then attack again."

I suspect that is the nature of the beast. It is important to recall, too, that Afghans may feel the US deserted them after the jihad. Afghanistan is a place where persistence can pay bid dividends.

The same fighter lamented the bad intelligence leads his platoon sometimes get from Afghans. "The other day, we had an old guy who asked us to meet him on a certain path at a certain time and he was going to give us some information about the insurgents," he added. "When we showed up, shooting broke out on both sides of us."

That kind of thing is going to happen, too. Maybe it was a trap all along; maybe the old guy was seen talking to Americans, questioned by the bad guys about it, and had to save his own neck.

The young infantrymen do not, however, work in a vacuum. Tens of millions of dollars in development assistance is also backing up foot patrols as an element of the broader "stabilization" efforts for Afghanistan.

On a new road that connects northern Kunar to southern Kunar near Asmar, a large vocational center is under construction. It will train hundreds of Afghans as mechanics, welders and builders.

"A lot of us are convinced that the root of the insurgency here is an economic problem," said Captain Steve Fritz, who pointed to the shiny new center as Afghan men laid bricks for a school several meters further down a valley. "We are working with combat units to try and identify students for the school. We will provide them with a new skill set, bolster the local economy and, hopefully, help minimize the insurgency."

One problem in Afghanistan is that the road infrastructure is inadequate for transporting raw materials and goods. Opium moves along the roads okay -- due to profitability and determination? To enable a normal economy, however, the roads need to be repaired (or in some cases, as we see on the map, a road needs to be built), and kept secure.

Although the jury on the success or failure of the US efforts here is still out, the tactics appear to be, if nothing else, helping to alter the way that Afghans see Americans and Americans see Afghans.

Fighters here are less likely than counterparts in Iraq to employ the generic slurs of haji and "Mohammad" to describe civilians. Indeed, there are signs that small children in some regions enjoy the company of the young American gladiators, whom they have managed to soften up with sweet talk of their own.

Captains and sergeants guiding the platoons that do the hardest work say the most effective "weapons" in their arsenal are new schools and health clinics, rather than grenades and machineguns.

Still, one gunner, who zoomed his sights in on a mountain pass, lamented that his senior officers would only let him shoot his TOW missile launcher at groups of six or more insurgents because the cost of one shot was "equal to a new school".

Despite the idealism found in the middle ranks here, US foot soldiers sometimes still complain that they are being used as mere cannon fodder in a forgotten war.

It is not a forgotten war.

Our personnel over there, and those of our allies, together with the people of Afghanistan are very much remembered every day.

Able Company, and everyone else serving there: We appreciate your efforts and your sacrifices. You are heroes.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pakistan's Election Aftermath

There is a great deal going on in the wake of Pakistan's recent elections.

First, a report at the Times of India entitled Musharraf may be impeached: US intelligence, in its entirety, uninterrupted by comments:

WASHINGTON: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf faces the threat of being impeached if the two major parties -- PPP and PML(N) -- which have joined hands to form the next government get the support of independents, a top US intelligence official has said.

The official said even though the two parties do not have the numbers with which Musharraf can be arraigned since PML(N) leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif had "an agenda to impeach President Musharraf".

The Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnel told the Bush administration that the PPP and PML(N) "do not have the votes to do that(impeach), but if they had independents join them, they could possibly have the votes".

The ruling coalition needs a two-third majority in a House of 272 to successfully carry out any impeachment. The PPP (88) and PML-N (66) together have 154 seats. The Awami National Party (ANP) which has 10 members and an unspecified number of independents, have also extended support.

"We are watching very closely now to see how the coalition is formed, who the members will be and who the prime minister might be," McConnel said.

On being asked by the Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin about the fairness of the polls, he said "all the reporting I saw was they were reasonably -- by Pakistani standards, they were reasonable and fair. The number of people voting was a little higher than anticipated and a little higher than average for Pakistan. It was over 40 per cent".

Responding to a question that if the polls were a repudiation of Islamic extremism, he said "What I would highlight is those Islamic extremists that had been serving in the assembly were defeated in this election. So at that level, the parties that won are more secular. So there is some level of repudiating extremism".

President Musharraf is promising that the mandate of the people will be respected:

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf has said the mandate of the masses has to be respected and no one will be allowed to create hurdles in the smooth transition to democracy. Speaking to former Punjab chief minister Mian Manzoor Wattoo on Wednesday, he said the parties that succeeded in the polls would have full freedom to form a government.Many issues were discussed at the meeting, including reasons for the PML-Q’s defeat and the post-poll scenario, sources told Online. Musharraf assured Wattoo he was ready to work with the new government and expressed hope that the parties that form it would work together for the welfare of the country, especially to root out terrorism. After the meeting, Wattoo told reporters he would support the establishment of a national government but would back the it on an issue-to-issue basis. Independent MPs would also lend their support to the government on the same basis, he added.

The blogosphere is wondering about Musharraf's future, and the true nature of his connections to Bush -- USA & Pakistan’s Musharraf: A Dangerous Affair...? Excerpt:

The Pakistani Spectator says that in this action packed drama the US ambassador to Pakistan is playing a desperate game to ensure the survival of President Musharraf. The blog says that now it is the battle between the US ambassador and the mandate of the Pakistani people.

Wow! Is this another form of ‘War on Terror’? Or an attempt to cover up the strange goings-on between Bush and Musharraf during the past seven years with billions of dollars pouring into Pakistan’s army establishment led by the present Pakistani President? So who are the real terrorists? No one has the guts to answer that question...!!!

In Iraq, we are building democracy -- and spending a great many American lives to do so! But, in Pakistan we have been supporting a leader who siezed power in a military coup, and who only a few months back retired from his military post. The rationale has been that if Musharraf loses power, the militants will win. But, the truth is that in the recent elections, extremism fared very poorly. Pakistanis want a secular government, but one which abides by the law and is answerable at the ballot box and in court; Musharraf, having taken power in a coup and having recently deposed so many members of Pakistan's judiciary, has been giving them neither -- though now he is talking about honoring the will of the people.

After the ties we've been exploring between Pakistan's 1) military and Inter-Services Intelligence, and 2) the extremists, this whole idea that we need to support Musharraf to have an ally in the "War on Terror" has seemed like a charade, and it seems the elections have now called President Bush's bluff on this matter.

Speaking of the judges, Mushy's dismissal of them still isn't sitting well (and it shouldn't): Islamabad lawyers observe strike.

ISLAMABAD: The lawyers observed strike in Rawalpindi and Islamabad courts on Thursday to stress for restoration of deposed judges. The lawyers of the twin cities stayed away from the courts proceedings on Pakistan Bar Council’s strike call. The lawyers bodies holding protest meetings throughout the country to demand reinstatement of the sacked judges.

Talk of messing with Pakistan's Constitution promises trouble: Removal of 58-2 (B) to cause crisis, warns Shujaat.

Meanwhile, back to Pakistan's military and its influence in the government -- An open letter to General Kayani by Irfan Husain, February 25th, 2008 (excerpts):

DEAR General Kayani,

As a Pakistani, I have no doubt that you are as delighted with the way the recent elections were conducted as I am. Some of the credit must go to your officers and troops for having assisted in maintaining law and order. But of even greater significance was your decision not to involve the army in any other aspect of the elections. All of us remember all too well the negative role played by Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in past polls.

As democracy finally returns to our deeply troubled country, and a new government takes shape in Islamabad, I have a few suggestions on how you can help the political system find its feet, and to mix a metaphor, put down roots. I would also like to share a few thoughts on a new partnership between elected governments and the Pakistan Army.

You are well aware of the widespread perception that the army has meddled in politics long enough. Indeed, this feeling has been vociferously expressed by the public and the media over the last year, particularly during the crisis over the fate of the Chief Justice. A crisis, I might add, that was precipitated entirely by your predecessor, and one that brought great discredit to the service you now head.

You and your colleagues must have noted with concern and dismay the growing gulf between the people of Pakistan and their army. I am sure you will agree that this is a very unhealthy tendency, and one that should be corrected as soon as possible.

By and large, all Pakistanis are proud of their army, and have sacrificed much to support it over the years. But of late, a perception has developed that the army is an occupying force bent on plundering the country for its own benefit. Repeated coups against legitimate governments have only added to this perception.

Pakistan has a fine military, professional and competent. Pakistanis have a great deal to be proud of.

I am sure that as a professional soldier, you would like to restore the army's badly tarnished image. For the difficult tasks that lie ahead, you will need public support and a smooth working relationship with the new government.

Firstly, a consensus needs to be evolved within the army that henceforth, it will not intervene in politics. I know this is easier said than done as all too often, defeated politicians are prone to invite the army to help dismiss elected governments. This temptation needs to be resisted, and politicians discouraged from making a beeline to GHQ every time there is a political crisis.

Currently, I realise you are caught in a quandary as Mr Musharraf anointed you as his successor on the assumption that you would support him. But surely the oath you took on being inducted into the army to uphold the constitution must take precedence over personal and service loyalty. Given your predecessor's determination to hang on to the presidency despite the humiliating defeat his PML-Q suffered in the recent elections, it would be in the national interest for him to step down rather than be at the centre of an unnecessary political battle. You can help to focus his mind, and encourage him to resign. Clearly, the major task before the army is to fight the scourge of Islamic terrorism that has made such deep inroads into our country under your predecessor's watch. Presently, our army has been trained in conventional warfare, with India being seen as our biggest threat. But now, it is the Taliban and the many home-grown gangs of Islamic militants that are the source of the biggest danger to Pakistan.

"Presently, our army has been trained in conventional warfare, with India being seen as our biggest threat. But now, it is the Taliban and the many home-grown gangs of Islamic militants that are the source of the biggest danger to Pakistan."

While my readers from Pakistan are at it, you might consider looking into corruption, organized crime, the nuclear black market, and heroin trafficking -- and don't be surprised when your "allies" in Washington, Riyadh, Beijing, Dubai and elsewhere are implicated in some of these scandals (especially Washington)!

Skipping now to another article, Mahsud tribesmen hopes resolution of problems by new Govt (in its entirety; it's a little choppy):

TANK: Mahsud tribesmen Thursday experessed strong hope that newly elected government would focus on their problems on priority basis.This was said by tribal elders during a press conference held in WAPDA Rest House.

The tribal elders thanked those, who generously provided accommodation and supported relief activities for displaced tribal families of South Wazeeristan Agency.

Sher Muhammad Chairman Mahsud Relief Committee flanked by Hussain Khan Slimi Khel, Allauddin Barki, Faqeer Mahsud and Malik Muhammad Yousaf told the newsmen that hundreds of families had been displaced owing to the ongoing military action in South Wazeeristan.

These displaced persons are leading miserable lives in adjacent plan areas after they migrated from the troubled agency.

He added that the way people helped miserable tribesmen is unprecedented and laudable.

Tribal elder maintained that like past, Mahsud tribesmen would leave no stone unturned to consolidate the grace and sovereignty of the country.●

Hope that a broad consensus might emerge to move Pakistan forward democratically and peacefully? Time shall tell....

I encourage my readers in Pakistan to leave a comment.

UK: "Neighbourhood Profiling"

A link to this article in the Guardian was in my email: New strategy to stem flow of terror recruits, Vikram Dodd, Thursday, February 28 2008:

Senior police officers have drawn up a radical strategy to stop British Muslims turning to violence which will see every area of the country mapped for its potential to produce extremists and supporters for al-Qaida. The 40-page document, marked restricted, was approved by a top-level police counter-terrorism committee on Monday, and is expected to be formally adopted within weeks.

The Association of Chief Police Officers hopes it will help to stop al-Qaida's ideas gaining hold in primary schools, colleges, the internet and prisons. Other initiatives in the strategy include:

· guidance to parents on how to stop children searching for extremist websites

· an anti-extremism agenda to be included in "all state-maintained educational establishments from primary schooling through to universities" by 2008/9

· intervening to stop convicted al-Qaida terrorists and supporters from spreading extremist ideology in prison.

That last point never should have been allowed to become a problem.

You send someone to prison as punishment for being a terrorist, and to prevent that person's participation in future terrorist acts -- but you can't control that person's recruitment of others while there??

Acpo's plans have been prompted by a realisation that new recruits are being attracted to violent extremism despite scores of convictions, arrests and the disruption of plots. The country's most senior counter-terrorism officials believe the level of threat has remained severe and sustained since the July 2005 attacks on London killed 52 people.

They aren't deterred by the fact that they die during terrorist attacks -- why should a stint in a British prison deter them?

More effort and new approaches will be made "to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism and violent extremism", the document says.

Though the document does not mention the Iraq war, it accepts that foreign policy can trigger a sense of grievance that can lead to violence. It urges officers across England and Wales to "effectively address grievances", and says: "This objective is not for the police alone. Some grievances will be international in dimension."

It includes a stark assessment about how far police have to go in building trust with Muslim communities. "Research last year revealed that the police service would be very low on the list of agencies that the Muslim community would turn to if they had concerns about a member of their community who embraced violent extremism ... the police service has a long way to go in building a relationship of trust around these issues..."

"the police service would be very low on the list of agencies that the Muslim community would turn to if they had concerns about a member of their community who embraced violent extremism"

But the police somehow seem to feel that they can turn to the Muslim community to solve the terrorist problem.

It cites the example of drug use, saying that in the 1980s people would not tell the police about those close to them who were using illegal substances. Now that reticence has lessened through intensive work by officers.

The new strategy will be rooted in "neighbourhood profiling". "This will allow us to connect with all groups and to understand what is normal and what is unusual," it says. "We need to continually improve our knowledge about communities and how they function both in a social and religious context."

You can profile a neighborhood, but not a person.

A senior source with knowledge of the discussions leading up to the writing of the document said mapping was important: "You have to assess where the need is greatest. Just relying on the census data for the number of Muslims in an area is not detailed or sophisticated enough."

If they go down this path, they will correlate this to certain elements in the Muslim community -- certain "holy men" at some of the mosques, people who travel to certain countries -- and then the problems will crop up: irrefutable evidence of Pakistani and Saudi government involvement in training jihadis and spreading hatred, respectively.

They need to take this all the way to the endzone for a touchdown, but the politicians will chicken out when they see where it's going.

The plan also calls for guidance for parents about how to manage the use of the web by their children. "The internet is a potential area where a tendency towards violent extremism can be exploited ... Parents and carers have a need for advice on how to control access for their children and to understand what defines the legal/potentially illegal divide."

The document says there is a "pressing need to develop the growing relationships between the police and the education sector at every level with regard to preventing violent extremism".

With more terrorists and supporters being jailed, the document says those convicted must also be stopped from indoctrinating other inmates.

"those convicted must also be stopped from indoctrinating other inmates"

Long overdue....

The senior source added that the plans were a radical change for the police: "It's a recognition that it is a major and important new area of work and the police should see it as a mainstream area of work."

What is funny is the implicit but unspeakable understanding that the problem with terrorism is somehow connected to Islam -- right down to the link, which is "uksecurity.islam".

Maybe the Brits should check with the Turks and see if they have any ideas.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Turkey: Islamic Reform Movement?

An email tipster called my attention to the following article: Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts by Robert Pigott, Tuesday, 26 February 2008.

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.

The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia.

But the Turkish state has come to see the Hadith as having an often negative influence on a society it is in a hurry to modernise, and believes it responsible for obscuring the original values of Islam.

It says that a significant number of the sayings were never uttered by Muhammad, and even some that were need now to be reinterpreted.

This is not unique, by the way. There is at least one reform movement in Islam, the aim of which is to purge the Koran (!) of passages that did not come from Allah the merciful (good news for us infidels).


Commentators say the very theology of Islam is being reinterpreted in order to effect a radical renewal of the religion.

Its supporters say the spirit of logic and reason inherent in Islam at its foundation 1,400 years ago are being rediscovered. Some believe it could represent the beginning of a reformation in the religion.

Turkish officials have been reticent about the revision of the Hadith until now, aware of the controversy it is likely to cause among traditionalist Muslims, but they have spoken to the BBC about the project, and their ambitious aims for it.

The forensic examination of the Hadiths has taken place in Ankara University's School of Theology.

An adviser to the project, Felix Koerner, says some of the sayings - also known individually as "hadiths" - can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society.

That is rather obvious. By the time these sayings were collected and documented, they were quite well-removed from Mohammed, and the Islamic world had already had encounters with dysfunctional politics.

"Unfortunately you can even justify through alleged hadiths, the Muslim - or pseudo-Muslim - practice of female genital mutilation," he says.

"You can find messages which say 'that is what the Prophet ordered us to do'. But you can show historically how they came into being, as influences from other cultures, that were then projected onto Islamic tradition."

The argument is that Islamic tradition has been gradually hijacked by various - often conservative - cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of social control.

Leaders of the Hadith project say successive generations have embellished the text, attributing their political aims to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

That is an interesting charge -- that means, among other things, that those who practice female genital mutilation are takfir.


Turkey is intent on sweeping away that "cultural baggage" and returning to a form of Islam it claims accords with its original values and those of the Prophet.

But this is where the revolutionary nature of the work becomes apparent. Even some sayings accepted as being genuinely spoken by Muhammad have been altered and reinterpreted.

Prof Mehmet Gormez, a senior official in the Department of Religious Affairs and an expert on the Hadith, gives a telling example.

"There are some messages that ban women from travelling for three days or more without their husband's permission and they are genuine.

"But this isn't a religious ban. It came about because in the Prophet's time it simply wasn't safe for a woman to travel alone like that. But as time has passed, people have made permanent what was only supposed to be a temporary ban for safety reasons."

Getting away from the dogma....

The project justifies such bold interference in the 1,400-year-old content of the Hadith by rigorous academic research.

Prof Gormez points out that in another speech, the Prophet said "he longed for the day when a woman might travel long distances alone".

So, he argues, it is clear what the Prophet's goal was.

Common sense... this could cause real problems in places like Saudi Arabia.

Original spirit

Yet, until now, the ban has remained in the text, and helps to restrict the free movement of some Muslim women to this day.

As part of its aggressive programme of renewal, Turkey has given theological training to 450 women, and appointed them as senior imams called "vaizes".

They have been given the task of explaining the original spirit of Islam to remote communities in Turkey's vast interior.

One of the women, Hulya Koc, looked out over a sea of headscarves at a town meeting in central Turkey and told the women of the equality, justice and human rights guaranteed by an accurate interpretation of the Koran - one guided and confirmed by the revised Hadith.

She says that, at the moment, Islam is being widely used to justify the violent suppression of women.

"There are honour killings," she explains.

"We hear that some women are being killed when they marry the wrong person or run away with someone they love.

"There's also violence against women within families, including sexual harassment by uncles and others. This does not exist in Islam... we have to explain that to them."

I wonder how safe that job is.

'New Islam'

According to Fadi Hakura, an expert on Turkey from Chatham House in London, Turkey is doing nothing less than recreating Islam - changing it from a religion whose rules must be obeyed, to one designed to serve the needs of people in a modern secular democracy.

He says that to achieve it, the state is fashioning a new Islam.

"This is kind of akin to the Christian Reformation," he says.

"Not exactly the same, but if you think, it's changing the theological foundations of [the] religion."

Fadi Hakura believes that until now secularist Turkey has been intent on creating a new politics for Islam.

Now, he says, "they are trying to fashion a new Islam."

Significantly, the "Ankara School" of theologians working on the new Hadith have been using Western critical techniques and philosophy.

They have also taken an even bolder step - rejecting a long-established rule of Muslim scholars that later (and often more conservative) texts override earlier ones.

"You have to see them as a whole," says Fadi Hakura.

"You can't say, for example, that the verses of violence override the verses of peace. This is used a lot in the Middle East, this kind of ideology.

"I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is."

This leads us back to the argument, put forth by many infidels, that Islam is the problem in the Islamic world.

I have condemned Islam myself, fairly resoundingly.

But, Islam is as Muslims do.


If a holy text says to be kind to non-believers, but this is interpreted to mean that the greatest kindness is to put them out of their misery, and this interpretation gets a great many adherents, then that is a problem, despite what we read in the text.

If a text calls for war against the non-believers, but this is interpreted to mean a war of ideas, waged through peaceful, civil debate, and this interpretation gets a great many adherents, then that is not a problem.

It all boils down to people and how they behave -- how they want to behave, and especially how they might justify evil that they wish to do.

I have legitimate concerns about what is written in Islamic texts, but I think that any infidel who condemns all Muslims is foolish -- every bit as foolish as the Islamic extremists who condemn all infidels.

While the infidel world has every right to legitimate self-defense in the face of violent and barbaric interpretations of violent passages in Islamic holy texts, we must never lose sight of the fact that a counterjihad that goes beyond legitimate self-defense could very quickly develop into a cure that is far worse than the disease.

Indeed, just as the Muslim world is consumed by extremists who make takfir out of their neighbors, and then kill them for not being "Muslim enough", so too is the sword of counterjihad double-edged, with potential to destroy infidels who are short-sighted enough to go goose-stepping blindly off behind a leader whose position is that either you are with him, or you are with the terrorists.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mushy's War, Part 5 of ?

An article that appeared tomorrow (heh) in Asia Times Online, entitled Pakistan's extremism starts at the top by Chietigj Bajpaee, Feb 27, 2008, is reproduced here in its entirety (typos and all), with my comments interspersed:

Pakistan's election results have challenged the misplaced fear in the international community that Pakistan could fall under the control of Islamic extremists. However, this does not rule out the possibility of Pakistan's descent into an abyss of instability.

Islamic extremism in Pakistan is not a grass-roots phenomenon as it has been in many states in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Pakistan's founding fathers, led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, preceded by the Indian sub-continent's British colonial rulers and India's Mughal rulers, laid the foundation for Pakistan to be led by the rule of law and moderate Islam.

Nonetheless, successive civilian and military-led governments, the military and intelligence agencies have employed Islamic extremism as a tool of their policies. As such, extremist Islam has emerged as a top-down phenomena.

Militant extremism in Pakistan starts at the top.

As demonstrated by the poor performance of Pakistan's Islamic parties in last week's parliamentary elections, Pakistan is far from ripe for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution.

The six-party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, which secured over 50 seats in the last Parliament with a strong showing in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan, secured less than 10 seats in the National Assembly in this election and lost its lead in tribal provinces to sub-national secular parties such as the Awami National Party and the Balochistan National Party (Awami).

Coupled with the strong showing of the secular Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz at the national level, the election illustrates that secular Islam is alive and kicking in Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan's last parliamentary elections in 2002 were the only time in the country's 60-year history - it has had 10 parliamentary elections - when Islamist parties had a strong showing. This was fueled by the government marginalizing the secular parties, as well as a backlash to the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the ousting of the Taliban from Kabul.

In reality, Islamist groups have only gained ground in Pakistan when the government has employed them as a tool of their policies. During the 1980s, president Zia ul-Haq, backed by the United States, used Islamic extremism to fan the mujahideen against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

During the 1990s, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and successive governments employed Islamic extremism to challenge the Indian claim to Kashmir by undermining India's conventional military superiority with asymmetrical attacks on soft and symbolic targets in Kashmir.

The ISI also attempted to gain "strategic depth" with regard to India by creating an arc of influence from Central Asia to Afghanistan. While Pakistan's military establishment is regarded as professional and secular (with the exception of Zia, who attempted to bring Islam into the political and military sphere), it has not hesitated in using Islamic extremism to battle its enemies. This was seen in Pakistan's support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan until September 11, 2001, and support for Islamic extremist groups in Kashmir.

Under President Pervez Musharraf, Islamic extremists entered Pakistan's mainstream political sphere as Musharraf empowered extremists in order to marginalize Pakistan's secular opposition parties while using the growth of Islamic extremism to justify his non-democratic rule.

We tolerate Musharraf because we need him to balance the militants -- but, to a surpising extent, Mushy and his colleagues pull the militants' strings.

Core dilemmas unaddressed

While the victory of Pakistan's secular opposition parties will relieve some concern over the "Talibanization" of Pakistan, the threat will not dissipate as long as Islamic extremism continues to be employed as a tool by Pakistan's political parties, the military and the ISI.

The threat of Islamic extremism has made Musharraf -- a military dictator who seized power in a coup, who has dismissed members of Pakistan's judiciary for opposing him, and who has denied free speech to political opponents -- into our "ally" in the War on Terror.

The more Islamic militant activity there has been in that part of the world, the closer we have gotten to Musharraf, regardless of his government's de facto support for nuclear proliferation, terrorism in India, violation of human rights, and so on.

Furthermore, the ISI helped fund the jihad against the Soviet Union by supporting heroin trafficking. The heroin destroyed not just the Soviet Army, but the Soviet people on the home front, while providing a source of money to supply the mujahideen. Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban in 2001, heroin production in that part of the world has skyrocketed, much of it from the areas along the border where these militants are based.

The ISI is in this up to their necks.

The ISI is a professional organization -- its members rotate in and then back out of their assignments with the ISI to keep them from building up too much power.

Therefore, if the ISI is in this up to their necks, so are their military superiors.

One could have made the argument in the past that Bhutto or Sharif, as civilian prime ministers, may not have had a great deal of control over the ISI, but it is hardly likely that Musharraf does not.

In doing so, the government is playing with fire and has occasionally got burned in the process, as seen by the numerous assassination attempts on Musharraf, the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto last December and the death of over 1,000 Pakistani soldiers in operations against extremist elements in Pakistan's tribal regions.

What are the lives of 1000 Pakistani soldiers if the ongoing instability keeps Musharraf's crowd in power? Jihadis and Pakistani soldiers... you go far enough up the ladder, and it's the same crowd pulling the strings of both groups.

International terrorist and extremist groups have become increasingly localized, as seen by the rise of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law), led by pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah in the Swat Valley in NWFP and the Tehrek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban) based in the South Waziristan tribal area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, led by Baitullah Meshud. Meshud has been accused by the government of masterminding the assassination of Bhutto.

To quell the rise of Islamic extremism, Pakistan must address fundamental problems plaguing its existence - namely strengthening institutions, reforming the education system and stabilizing Pakistan's periphery.

This will be a job for the civilian government -- if it can get formed, and if it can exercise power.

Empowering Pakistan's institutions and addressing its neglected education system are pivotal to combating Islamic extremism, although Musharraf's pledges in these areas have been unfulfilled.

First, he has undermined the institutions he hoped to strengthen by manipulating the political and legal process to prolong his rule since taking power in a coup in 1999. Second, his military government devoted too few resources to promoting secular education while simultaneously strengthening the military industrial complex and empowering Islamist parties to keep secular opposition parties weak.

The return of a secular civilian government may change this, but given the lack of progress in achieving these goals during a decade of civilian rule by Bhutto and Sharif, significant change is not expected. The fact that Bhutto's inexperienced 19-year-old son, Bilawal, and husband, Asif Ali-Zardari, who faces allegations of corruption, have been appointed as the heads of the PPP ahead of more experienced party members illustrates the continued dominance of feudal patronage over policy platforms in Pakistani politics.

Pakistan's internal stability also remains closely intertwined with its international relations. Although tensions between India and Pakistan have been shelved for the time being, a major terrorist attack on Indian soil or an escalation in terrorist infiltration across the Line of Control that separates the Pakistani and Indian-administered areas of Kashmir, could increase hostility.

Pakistan's support for terrorists in India has maintained their relations as one of a cold war, with occasional hot wars (and some detente) interspersed. As such, India becomes a threat to Pakistan out of legitimate self-defense; the numerically superior Indian Army could cut Pakistan in half in a fairly quick strike, and that idea must surely have crossed the minds of Indian military leaders as Pakistani-sponsored terrorists have attacked targets not just in Kashmir, but elsewhere in India, as well.

In turn, Pakistan must feel the need to be able to defend its existence in the face of superior Indian forces -- hence the development of the nuclear option.

This development of nuclear weapons has worked, in turn, to keep Pakistan isolated from the United States -- except when Pakistan was a convenient ally, as during the Cold War, the jihad, and now the War on Terror.

So, Pakistan's military leadership has maintained 1) the proxy war of Islamic extremists against India, 2) the nuclear deterrent to keep India from squaring off against Islamabad over that proxy war, and 3) the charade of Islamic militants and a "War on Terror" to stay important to Washington, and thus to get a free pass for sponsoring terrorism and for nuclear proliferation.

(There is a way out of this, you know.)

Meanwhile, the "terrorists" -- who train for holy war in Kashmir just as enthusiatically as they train for it against Russia, Israel or America -- serve to keep a small group of people in Pakistan in power, and they do so at the expense of ordinary Pakistanis.

The dialogue that was initiated between both states in 2004 is presently in abeyance as the Indian government has apparently decided to take a wait-and-see attitude to the process of political transition in Pakistan. Confidence-building measures must be complemented by a concrete solution to the issue of Kashmir, which remains a thorn in bilateral relations. In the end, rapprochement in India-Pakistan relations will be necessary to justify the Pakistani military's withdrawal from the political sphere.

On Pakistan's western front, addressing the "Pashtun problem" is pivotal to stabilizing relations with Afghanistan. Pashtun nationalism and the disputed status of the Durand Line between the two countries are core issues within Afghan-Pakistan relations.

They were addressed in a "Joint Pakistan-Afghanistan Peace Jirga" (tribal assembly) in Kabul last year, which will be followed by a series of jirgagai or smaller jirgas. However, these initiatives are likely to make slow progress, given the continued level of mistrust between Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the lack of recognition for Pakistani sovereignty over tribal affiliations in the area and the Pakistani side pushing for Afghanistan and the United States to reach rapprochement with "reformed" Taliban.

The other option Pakistan's elite has is to maintain the instability and simmering jihad, but that has the potential to flare up, out of control -- and possibly result in a regional war that finishes with Pakistan's disintegration and dismemberment.

Following in the footsteps of a foe

The recent discussion of Pakistan's "fragmentation" goes back to debates by political pundits during the first decades of neighboring India's independence (1947) that it would also undergo balkanization.

However, a state far more ethnically, religiously and geographically diverse than Pakistan has survived for 60 years and the fear-mongers have been silenced as India has emerged as a darling of foreign investors.

The essential issue that needs to be addressed in Pakistan is one of identity. How does Pakistan see itself? The Nehruvian and Gandhian view of India as a secular democratic state allowed it to reconcile its vast diversity, despite sporadic and ongoing pressures on India to take Pakistan's path based on a narrow religious identity.

Pakistan's Islamic identity has not been sufficient to quell strains between its major ethnic groups and accusations that the national government's policies are dictated by the interests of Punjab province.

India's federalist structure of government, which devolved power to the states, also facilitated in undermining separatist tendencies. A similar empowerment of Pakistan's ethnic and religious minorities would weaken separatist tendencies in Balochistan, NWFP and the tribal areas and help to quell sectarian and ethnic violence on the streets of Pakistan's major cities.

In a very real sense, the "War on Terror" is Mushy's War -- not just his, but that of the elite around him, as well -- and ordinary Pakistanis, as well as Indians, Afghans, and everyone else, pay the price.

"The extremists need a dictatorship,
and dictatorship needs extremists."

Benazir Bhutto

Monday, February 25, 2008

No Smoke Without Fire, Part 1

From an article entitled Narco aggression, also posted at, we begin with the following excerpts:

COULD it be that the American military in Afghanistan is involved in drug trafficking? Yes, it is quite possible, according to Russia's Ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov.

Commenting on reports that the United States military transport aviation is used for shipping narcotics out of Afghanistan, the Russian envoy said there was no smoke without fire.

"If such actions do take place they cannot be undertaken without contact with Afghans, and if one Afghan man knows this, at least a half of Afghanistan will know about this sooner or later," Kabulov told Vesti, Russia's 24-hour news channel. "That is why I think this is possible, but cannot prove it."

It's not going to be something that Russia would be able to prove without divulging sensitive sources of information, sources desperately needed in its own battle against a growing onslaught of heroin addiction (six million users out of a population of 142 million, according to the article).

Skipping down:

When Russia backed the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan to crush the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the post-9/11 scenario, the last thing it expected to happen was that drug trafficking from Afghanistan would assume gargantuan proportions under the U.S. military. Since 2001, poppy fields, once banned by the Taliban, have mushroomed again. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan produced 8,200 tonnes of opium last year, enough to make 93 per cent of the world's heroin supply.

The U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation [NATO] forces in the country have not only failed to eliminate the terrorist threat from the Taliban, but also presided over a spectacular rise in opium production. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Afghanistan was on the brink of becoming a "narco state".

Not "becoming" -- it already is a "narco state".

Narco business has emerged as virtually the only economy of Afghanistan and is valued at some $10 billion a year. Opium trade is estimated by the U.N. to be equivalent to 53 per cent of the country's official economy and is helping to finance the Taliban.

"Unfortunately, they [NATO] are doing nothing to reduce the narcotic threat from Afghanistan even a tiny bit," Putin angrily remarked three years ago. He accused the coalition forces of "sitting back and watching caravans haul drugs across Afghanistan to the former Soviet Union and Europe." As time went by, Russian suspicions regarding the U.S. role in the rise of a narco state in Afghanistan grew deeper, especially after reports from Iraq said that the cultivation of opium poppies was spreading rapidly there too.

"The Americans are working hard to keep narco business flourishing in both countries," says Mikhail Khazin, president of the consultancy firm Niakon. "They consistently destroy the local infrastructure, pushing the local population to look for illegal means of subsistence. And the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] provides protection to drug trafficking."

The CIA gets blamed for everything. I wonder if they're not responsible for global warming?

The CIA seems to have been at least complicit in the 1980's situation whereby the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan was funded in part by the proceeds of heroin trafficking -- heroin became a drug of choice of Soviet military personnal in Afghanistan, and from there it became a major problem in the Soviet Union, and then in the post-Soviet era throughout Russia and the Central Asian republics.

Here, though, I wonder if it really is the CIA -- or if it is merely corrupt government officials who are making support of the heroin industry in Afghanistan a de facto US policy.

Farther down:

Now Russia has joined the fray accusing the U.S. military of involvement in the heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. The Vesti channel's report from Afghanistan said that drugs from Afghanistan were hauled by American transport aircraft to the U.S. airbases Ganci in Kyrgyzstan and Incirlik in Turkey.

What does it take for heroin to be stowed away on a cargo aircraft the size of the one pictured? Assuming heroin is in fact being moved on US aircraft, and assuming US aircraft the size of the one pictured are the ones being used, that is....

An aircraft that size carries many tons of palletized freight. All it takes is one pallet with, say, 800 pounds of freight on it -- in the middle of which is 500 pounds of heroin.

Some big-shot -- maybe a civilian, with the State Department or the CIA or something -- gets priority for that pallet, to make sure it gets included in the load. It is one of many pallets, and the NCO's and airmen loading it up don't know what's in the middle of it; the aircraft's crew similarly have no idea.

It does not take many people to make this happen; it just takes a few people in key positions... people who want to make money, and who know what will happen to them if they change their minds.

Do that once a week, and you can move a ton of heroin a month -- no customs or border guards, no DEA, essentially risk-free -- and nobody suspects, because it is a routine shipment for Office X.

And, that's just one route that heroin is shipping out on....

The Ganci Air Force base at the Manas international airport in Kyrgyzstan was set up in late 2001 as a staging post for military operations inside Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government threatened to close the base after neighbouring Uzbekistan shut down a similar U.S. airbase on its territory in 2005, but relented after Washington agreed to make a one-off payment of $150 million in the form of an assistance package and to pay $15 million a year for the use of the base.

One of the best-informed Russian journalists on Central Asia, Arkady Dubnov, recently quoted anonymous Afghan sources as saying that "85 per cent of all drugs produced in southern and southeastern provinces are shipped abroad by U.S. aviation."

A well-informed source in Afghanistan's security services told the Russian journalist that the American military acquired drugs through local Afghan officials who dealt with field commanders in charge of drug production.

Writing in the Vremya Novostei daily, Dubnov claimed that the pro-Western administration of President Hamid Karzai, including his two brothers, Kajum Karzai and Akhmed Vali Karzai, are head-to-heels involved in the narcotics trade.

The article quoted a leading U.S. expert on Afghanistan, Barnett Rubin, as telling an anti-narcotics conference in Kabul last October that "drug dealers had infiltrated Afghani state structures to the extent where they could easily paralyse the work of the government if decision to arrest one of them was ever made."

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke said in January that "government officials, including some with close ties to the presidency, are protecting the drug trade and profiting from it."

Government officials, including some with close ties to Afghanistan's presidency....

We now quote from Holbrooke's Washington Post article, near the end:

To be sure, breaking the narco-state in Afghanistan is essential, or all else will fail. But it will take years, and American policies today are working against their own objective. Couple that with the other most critical fact about the war in Afghanistan -- it cannot be won as long as the border areas in Pakistan are havens for the Taliban and al-Qaeda -- and you have the ingredients for a war that will last far longer than the war in Iraq, even if NATO sends more troops and the appalling National Police training program is finally fixed. Solving this problem requires bold, creative thinking. Consideration should be given to a temporary suspension of eradication in insecure areas, accompanied by an intensified effort to improve security, build small market-access roads and offer farmers free agricultural support.

"American policies today are working against their own objective."

I wonder why that is?

The instability in Afghanistan is used as an excuse to keep from acting on the heroin production. But, the instability will not go away -- "you have the ingredients for a war that will last far longer than the war in Iraq" -- so the heroin business is good, and will be for some time to come.

(Need I remind you of the Sibel Edmonds case? US officials on the payroll of organized crime -- heroin traffickers -- steering US policy to favor their, uh, "constituents".)

Returning now to Narco aggression, to a part that I had skipped, beginning with the third paragraph:

Afghan narcotics are an extremely painful issue for Russia. They first hit the Russian market during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s when Russian soldiers developed a taste for Afghan heroin and smuggled it back to Russia.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in December 1991 threw open the floodgates of drug trafficking from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Russia and further west to Europe. Afghanistan’s narcotics struck Russia like a tsunami, threatening to decimate its already shrinking population. According to the Federal Drug Control Service, 90 per cent of all heroin sold in Russia comes from Afghanistan. Russia today has about six million drug-users – a 20-fold increase since the collapse of the Soviet Union and a huge figure for a country of 142 million people.

Oh, there's a market, all right.

"Commenting on reports that the United States military transport aviation is used for shipping narcotics out of Afghanistan, the Russian envoy said there was no smoke without fire."

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Selling Out America, Part 1

Originally posted at The Midnight Sun under the title "ARMING THE WORLD: GOOD FOR THE U.S. ECONOMY?":


As an introduction to the concept of offsets, I quote from last year's post entitled Counterjihad, Inc. Part I:

From Offsets: The Industrial, Employment and Security Costs of Arms Exports, "Last updated: November 2001":

One of the most politically powerful claims supporting U.S. arms trading today is that weapons exports sustain American jobs. But the employment benefits of arms exports are diluted, and may be negated, by seldom-discussed side deals known as "offsets." These agreements require a supplier to direct some benefits. -usually work or technology. -back to the purchaser as a condition of the sale.

(Note: the Federation of American Scientists article quoted has been updated since I quoted it for last year's post.)

There is a word for that: kickbacks.

Offsets come in two forms. Through "direct" offsets, the purchaser receives work or technology directly related to the weapons sale, typically by producing the weapon system or its components under license. "Indirect" offsets involve barter and countertrade deals, investment in the buying country, or the transfer of technology unrelated to the weapons being sold. Both types of offsets send work overseas, but direct offsets also raise serious security concerns, as they assist the development of foreign arms industries.

So, the kickback can be that the purchasing country's industry gets built up by production of components for the weapon system being purchased.

That's interesting, because one big marketing tool for sale of high-tech weaponry to countries that really shouldn't have it is the jobs (especially high-tech ones) that the sale will bring to the selling country. But, if that industrial capacity and those jobs go to the purchaser's country, then that defeats the purpose of the sale as far as the selling country is concerned: it is just transferring technology, economic benefits and industrial capacity to the purchaser, which often is just a step or two away from being an enemy.

Under those circumstances, the only ones in the selling country who are benefiting are the companies that are actually making the deal -- and they are making money essentially by selling out their country to the highest bidder.

Alternatively, the kickback can be in the form of marketing the buyer country's goods and services (shoes, rugs, furniture, rice, clothing, jihad, heroin...) in the seller country (or elsewhere).

(You need to be familiar with the Sibel Edmonds case to appreciate the comment about the heroin.)

The 2001 report produced by the Presidential Commission on Offsets in International Trade (created by the Defense Offsets Disclosure Act of 1999) concluded that the average offset requirement for 1998 was 57.9% of the value of the contract; this rate represented a slight increase over the figures from the previous five years. The quantifiable effect of direct offset transactions for 1993-1998 "supplanted $2.3 billion in U.S. work or 25,300 work-years." The report concluded that while quantitative levels of offsets have remained relatively steady, there has been a qualitative increase in the negotiated transactions. These qualitative increases refer to the transfer of often sensitive technologies to foreign defense industries, which improve the competitiveness of foreign firms and rarely (only in 4% of the cases) result in the transfer of technology back to the U.S. Furthermore, Ann Markusen, a member of the Presidential Commission on Offsets, concluded that although "the United States has one of the strongest licensing regimes in the world, ...enforcement is inadequate." Thus these qualitatively high demands for offsets and the resulting technology transfer increase potential threats to U.S. national security, and pose real threats to U.S. jobs.

So, first of all, the value of the kickback is a very significant fraction of the original sale: more than half, on average.

Second, increasingly it entails the transfer of sensitive technology and the best of the jobs to the buying country.

The report claims that theoretically if offsets were not offered, there would be a net loss of profits which would have a detrimental impact on U.S. jobs. However actual figures speak volumes. William Hartung in his report "Welfare for Arms Dealers" reported that "Today, thanks to these offsets, there are twice as many workers employed building the F-16 in Ankara, Turkey (2,000), as there are at Lockheed Martin's principle F-16 plant in Fort Worth, Texas (1,155)." Sending jobs abroad reduce labor costs for manufacturers, but it translates into the loss of American jobs.

In other words, if America goes to war with Turkey, Turkey is better able to produce F-16's (an American jet fighter) to fight that war than America?

Of course, the information was quoted one year ago, and it was current as of several years ago. Specifically, the information about F-16 production was current as of 1996.

From REPORTS - Welfare for Weapons Dealers: The Hidden Costs of the Arms Trade 1996:

Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter program provides a case study of how modern arms deals can be structured in a way that actually exports jobs and production facilities from the United States to the purchasing nations. As a result of offset and coproduction deals tied to F-16 exports going back to the mid-1970s, parts of the aircraft are now being produced in Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Turkey, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Israel. Despite ex-President Bush's 1992 election year deal to sell 150 F-16s to Taiwan as a way to preserve defense jobs at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, production facility, the number of employees working on the F-16 at Fort Worth has actually dropped to less than one-third of the number of people employed building the aircraft in September 1992, from more than 3,600 then to only 1,155 now.

Basically, they tell you they are selling weapons to boost the US economy, especially in the high-tech manufacturing sector.

The truth is that the deals they cut to make the sale actually result in US production capacity being diminished, as production is contracted out to the foreign country so the foreign country will buy the weapons being produced.

Saudi Arabia pays cash from petrodollars; they don't produce, and don't need offsets. For other countries, like Turkey, Turkey's side of the deal is funded with US foreign military aid money.

In other words, taxpayers fund a deal that moves our defense industry -- production capacity, jobs, technology, everything -- to a foreign country. The only Americans that benefit are the executives and stockholders of the corporation making the sale, the lobbyists that arrange it, and the government officials (Congress, and certain elements of the Executive Branch) that approve and authorize it.

This gives you a glimpse of one aspect of what the Sibel Edmonds case is about.

For more on the Turkish Lobby, read this earlier post.


Addendum for Stop Islamic Conquest:

The Sibel Edmonds case is about lobby groups that front for Turkish organized crime, the so-called Turkish Deep State.

The Turkish Deep State is a modern mafia that includes Turkish government figures (political leaders and military officers), business moguls and cartels that smuggle heroin, sex slaves, weapons and nuclear secrets. Where the interests of these groups converge, might makes right and the purpose of the law is to further business.

Working as a translator in the FBI's Washington Field Office, Sibel Edmonds was assigned to translate a backlog of documents and tapes. Among the information that Edmonds came across was powerful evidence that strategically-placed US officials in Congress and the Executive Branch were on the take, receiving bribes from lobby groups that front for Turkish heroin traffickers.

While these lobby groups do have "legitimate" functions that they perform, and not everyone associated with them knows what they are about, their main purpose is to ensure that US foreign and economic policy gets steered in a way that favors the business interests of the Turkish Deep State. US Congressmen and Senators and officials in the State and Defense Departments perform services, while on the US government payroll, for their foreign masters; protection is provided against prosecution by strategically-placed employees of the FBI, who bury evidence and derail investigations. In return for their services, these people receive bribes, campaign contributions, and a variety of compensation, and are guaranteed a cushy retirement later.

Sibel Edmonds told her story at the FBI and was fired. She then went to the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General; to the US Senate; and, finally, to the US media. All investigated at least some of her claims, and substantiated what they investigated -- 60 Minutes even did a segment on Edmonds. But, nothing happened, and, ultimately, Sibel Edmonds was gagged by the Bush Administration's Justice Department.

Congressman Henry Waxman, D-CA, was briefed on all of this, and promised in 2006 that should the Democrats win Congress, he would hold public hearings into the Sibel Edmonds case. The Democrats won, but one month after the Democrat-controlled Congress was convened in January of 2007, the Turkish Coalition of America came into existence, a key official of which had been a major player in the American Turkish Council -- the organization most associated in the obstructed FBI investigations with espionage and bribery of US government officials.

Its Congressional Caucus membership list includes Congressman Henry Waxman.

Needless to say, Congressman Waxman has yet to hold those hearings.

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) was bought out by the Turkish Coalition of America; he is on the payroll of Turkish organized crime.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blog Trek: In Harm's Way







Aboard the United Cybership (UCS) Weblog...

Captain's Blog, Cyberdate 20080224

Now just over one year into our patrol, and over eleven months in deep cyberspace, we recently picked up distress calls from some of our sister ships along the neutral zone.

Our immediate instinct was, of course, to rush to the scene and help in any way possible. However, since the neutral zone was left far behind us months ago as we pursue an elusive and exceedingly dangerous foe in the depths of uncharted cyberspace, the consensus aboard the UCS Weblog was to relay the distress signals, but then move quickly to continue the mission at hand, since we assess that the enemy with which we are now engaged is perhaps an order of magnitude more dangerous than any enemy currently recognized by the Federation.

Some time ago, we realized the nature of the war we were in, a war in which the Federation surprisingly has common cause with many of our nominal "enemies" against the dark machinations of a hostile force which threatens us all. Interestingly, we are in fact late-comers to the fight.

We have identified key targets and maintain fire on them to the best of our ability. Our fire appears to be having some effect, as sensors have picked up the reverbertions of some secondaries among our targets. The overall effect is minimal to say the least, however, since we are sure it will take the concentrated fire from dozens if not hundreds of cyberships accurately delivered onto critical targets to begin to seriously damage our enemy.

Consequently, our hope has been that other cyberships -- not just from the Federation -- would pick up on the situation, and specifically on the criticality of the targets which we have been marking with our salvoes. For this to happen, of course, we need to survive and stay focused -- hence the decision to pursue our enemy, rather than respond more forcefully to the distress calls of our sister ships.

In this context, I recall a quote from a great general who once said, "We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy."

We recently received some messages from other cyberships which have, like ourselves, been engaged in this battle. The messages were generally congratulatory and quite heartening, as we now know our efforts have been noticed and have allowed our colleagues to reassess the battle damage they have been inflicting on the same foe, and recalibrate their fire accordingly.

Ominously, however, the congratulatory comments have also been accompanied by words of caution and concern, calling attention to the power of the enemy with which we are engaged.

We are now maneuvering at high speed in the depths of cyberspace, reloading to fire further salvoes on to critical targets, including some new ones, upon which we have thus far not fired. As we seek an advantageous firing position, I recall the words of another great warrior, a predecessor from whose history I have often taken great courage: "Give me a fast ship, for I intend to sail in harm's way."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Twilight Zone, Part 3

(Continued from Part 2)

In what was obviously a set-up to lure her back to Pakistan and get her out in the open where they could take a shot at her, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone

She was too westernized, too liberal. She was killed by militant Islamic extremists. What do you expect? After all, we're in the midst of a War on Terror.

And we believe that...

The place is a madhouse

Pakistan's ISI helped the US support the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, in part by helping arrange funding -- by trafficking heroin.

Destroy the Red Army through heroin addiction...

Covert money for covert ops... out of reach of Congress...

Feels like being cloned

The 9/11 operation was beyond the capability of a terrorist group that does not have a state sponsor. A terrorist group may have been the junior partner in the operation, but it needed help.

Pakistan's ISI is very professional, very capable -- and its leader at the time was connected to a significant money transfer to the 9/11 terrorists shortly before the attack.

Sibel Edmonds commented on the Turkish-language materials she encountered, how there was a buzz before 9/11 that something big was up, that blueprints for US skyscrapers had gone to some place in the Middle East...

My beacon's been moved

Elements in Pakistan have been involved in the nuclear blackmarket -- the same industry that the Turkish Deep State dabbles in.

Those elements in Pakistan are also connected to Communist China, from whom they got substantial help for their nuclear program, including detailed blueprints and assembly diagrams for nuclear bombs with instructions in Chinese.

"The PRC has stolen classified information on every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ICBM arsenal."

Under moon and star

Al Qaeda is now believed to have some nuclear weapons, and to have them here inside the United States.

But, any investigation into Al Qaeda's nukes will lead to Pakistan's A. Q. Khan network, and from there to China and places in the Middle East -- and then to Washington.

Where am I to go

The attacks on 9/11 hit the World Trade Center, which houses firms that are involved in financial activities, such as stock trades.

During the attack, while the buildings were burning, the computers in the stock firms continued to work...

Now that I've gone too far?

Somebody pushed stock trades through those computers while everyone was distracted...

A lot of stock trades...

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone

WTC-7 housed, among other things, the offices of important government agencies that investigate financial and white collar crime.

WTC-7 collapsed that afternoon, even though it wasn't hit by a plane...

The place is a madhouse

The Twin Towers were engineered to survive the impact of a Boeing 707 fully loaded with fuel...

In fact, each tower could have survived multiple hits by 707's full of fuel...

Feels like being cloned

Yet, in collapses that looked remarkably like controlled implosions, three skyscrapers came down, supposedly due to the impact of two aircraft...

There was no real investigation of this catastrophe -- the rubble was cleared as fast as possible, under suspicious circumstances...

My beacon's been moved

The narcotics come from Afghanistan, where the drug cartels have experienced a tremendous surge in activity, now not only producing more than 90% of the world's supply of opiates, but actually refining it within Afghanistan -- a quantitative and qualitative leap made under the watchful eyes of US and NATO military power, the same military forces that have been backing Islamic terrorists in their bids for independence first in Bosnia, and now in Kosovo.

Over 90% of a trillion-dollar-a-year industry...

Under moon and star

Much of the heroin is moved through Turkey and within Europe by Turkish government personnel with diplomatic credentials -- the so-called Turkish Deep State, the same organized crime cartel that has US government officials in Congress, in the State and Defense Departments, and in the Federal Bureau of Investigation on its payroll.

The Albanian mafia, much of which is based in Kosovo and is very connected to terrorists and to Kosovo's new government, is also a major player, not just for heroin, but for weapons, sex slaves and other contraband.

Where am I to go

A backlog of Turkish-language FBI intercepts from before 9/11 had a buzz that the attack was coming.

In the Summer of 2001, the FBI noticed that Islamic extremists with no corresponding background were learning how to fly airliners.

Now that I've gone too far?

The FBI was alerted that a hijacked airliner could be used as a bomb, and passed that information on to the President's Secret Service detail.

US intelligence agencies were aware of a dozen similar plots in the previous decade by Islamic terrorists.

Soon you will come to know

Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, of Communist-China-proliferation-fame, stated:

I don't think anybody could have predicted that these same people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, taken another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.

When the bullet hits the bone

The terrorists on 9/11 thought they were martyring themselves for Allah, but they had been duped -- all they were really doing was covering up someone's scheme to simultaneously start a profitable war, gain control over the heroin industry, and launder the proceeds of organized crime...

Mostly heroin money... laundered in stock trades pushed through the computers in the WTC during the attack...

(And laundered during the War on Terror after the attack...)

By the billions...

Soon you will come to know

And when the bad guys were done, they imploded the Twin Towers and WTC-7 to cover their trail.

When the bullet hits the bone

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Twilight Zone, Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia, and the United States and many other nations quickly recognized the new nation.

In a world turned upside-down, I find myself agreeing with the Kremlin that this is in violation of the applicable UN resolutions and of international law...

I find myself desiring the impeachment and prosecution of an entire Administration -- of "fellow" Republicans!

Help, I'm stepping into the Twilight Zone

Of course, international law is no obstacle for an Administration that has essentially established an extraterritorial system of gulags, in which are held "detainees", to whom the Administration denies fundamental human rights.

If prisoners of war, then they have certain internationally-recognized rights; if terrorists, then as suspected criminals they have certain other rights.

But the Bush Administration has made up its own set of rules regarding how to classify them, so as to deny them any legally-established rights -- and the US Government has been proactive in justifying abusive methods of interrogation.

The place is a madhouse

Waterboarding is, under US law, a war crime; it is a method of torture, and the results it yields are erratic and unreliable, and ultimately counterproductive, both as a form of intelligence collection, and in the realm of public relations.

The terrorists that threaten the world are fanatics, for whom no crime is too great; if it promotes the spread of Islam, they believe any crime will be forgiven by Allah, and they will be allowed into Paradise.

Feels like being cloned

The world is awash in a sea of brutal dictatorships, drowning in cynicism and fear, desperate to believe in America's promise of Liberty and Justice for all...

But now, the Bush Administration writes itself retroactive laws excusing its conduct...

My beacon's been moved

Its supporters justifying the action by saying that the terrorists are worse...

Of course, that's not the point.

Under moon and star

We are the good guys, and our standards should not be allowed to drop.

America is a beacon of hope to all the people in the world, and when America acts in such a manner...

Where am I to go

Then the light in the world dims, and the darkness of oppression and brutality closes in.

Now that I've gone too far?

Within hours after arriving back in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was targeted by would-be assassins as two powerful explosions killed and wounded hundreds of people nearby, including fifty security personnel from her own political party. The attacks were blamed on Islamic militants. Careful not to directly finger Pakistan's President Musharraf, who had seized power in a military coup in 1999, Bhutto nonetheless blamed certain government figures who abuse the militants to achieve their own goals -- a powerful indictment in a country where the military and intelligence services have for years trained jihadis and used them as proxies in ongoing low-intensity hostilities with India.

Soon you will come to know

Concerned not just about her safety, but about Pakistani government complicity in the assassination attempts, Bhutto wrote a letter to Musharraf implicating former senior intelligence officers who were close to Musharraf. Bhutto sought additional security from the government, including jammers to counter bombs, tinted windows, and police vehicles. She also requested security from foreign governments and foreign private security firms, but the Pakistani government would not provide visas for security contractors.

US diplomatic contacts did, however, take the unusual step of providing her with sensitive information regarding threats to her security.

When the bullet hits the bone

She later comments that "The extremists need a dictatorship, and dictatorship needs extremists."

Days after making that comment, Bhutto is placed under house arrest, only hours before she was scheduled to lead and address a rally protesting the state of emergency under which Musharraf had been ruling. Bhutto comments that 4000 police are outside her house while she is under house arrest.

Soon you will come to know

That kind of manpower was available to keep her from speaking publicly, but where was it on the day she was assassinated?

As one expert commented:

"It's odd and disturbing that the Pakistan government did not do a better job of protecting her and that the US apparently could not do more to persuade them," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and former National Security Council director for South Asia. "She made it very clear privately and publicly that she did not have enough security. That was abundantly clear after the attack on her return.

"I can't explain why the Bush administration didn't pressure Musharraf to do more. Her death leaves the US with a Pakistan policy that is completely bankrupt."

When the bullet hits the bone

Bankruptcy of policy depends on which side you are on, and as I investigate this, looking deeper and deeper into matters, looking farther and farther afield for more clues, and following up on leads, I find that the investigation keeps leading back to the same powerful people, to the same powerful interests...

Although each time it does lead back around, it ropes in another unexpected player from another unexpected direction.

I'm falling down a spiral

Following up on why the US government failed to respond adequately to indications that the 9/11 attacks were pending, I now have information connecting the Secretary of State to Communist Chinese espionage operations.

Questioning why the US government would violate international law and UN resolutions to support the independence of Kosovo, I now have information that a US Senator from Arizona has been knowingly backing Islamic terrorists for a decade.

Those terrorists are tied to organized crime syndicates that traffic in weapons, sex slaves and narcotics.

The Sibel Edmonds case is only the very small tip of a very big iceberg.

Destination unknown

Senator Hillary Clinton has taken over $100,000 from a new lobby that serves as a front for Turkish organized crime, and she has been supportive of the process leading to an independent Kosovo. No wonder, her husband supported KLA terrorists in the 1990's as President.

Sibel Edmonds tried to warn America that important US officials have been on the payroll of Turkish organized crime since the 1990's, but when she came forward in 2002, abiding by the law and following procedures, she was fired.

A double-crossed messenger

Her allegations have been investigated by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General, by two US Senators, by 60 Minutes -- true, 60 Minutes only looked at the least incendiary allegations -- but every one of Sibel Edmonds's claims that has been looked into has been substantiated, and none of them have been disproven.

She should get a medal, but instead she was the target of legal action by the Bush Administration, essentially prohibiting her from talking about any of it.

All alone

Congress is too compromised -- too many of them have been bought off by the same people that Edmonds warns us of, Turkish lobbies that front for organized crime, the so-called Turkish Deep State. The Executive Branch, too, is compromised...

Many of those who aren't bought off by Turkish organized crime are bought off by someone else; the remainder have no power.

There is no one in officialdom who will act.

I can't get no connection

The media won't pick up her story.

So, it is up to the blogosphere to keep writing about this and investigating.

I can't get through

But, more has to happen. The American public has to take an interest in this story, and start making it an issue. They need to make this matter get the attention that Congress and the media seem determined to deny it.

Where are you?

If that doesn't happen, then the bad guys win -- and that means "that government of the People, by the People, for the People" shall indeed "perish from this earth".

Well, the night weighs heavy

The plug can get pulled on this in so many ways, because the system is so fragile. If any element collapses, the rest will come down like a house of cards.

It is a very expensive, very profitable house of cards, but a house of cards it is.

On his guilty mind

For example, if Islamic militants now hiding in Pakistan were decisively defeated or the battle against them were otherwise ended, then there would be no more reason to permit the opium trade to flourish in neighboring Afghanistan. Any battlefield success on the part of the US and NATO would eliminate the cover needed for heroin smuggling, and completely gut a 1 trillion-USD-per-year industry...

As well as causing the collapse of corrupt regimes who are tolerated in the name of the War on Terror...

This far from

So anyone who threatens the house of cards has to be stopped...

And Benazir Bhutto was doing just that with her determination to get Osama bin Laden, allowing US military forces into Pakistan if necessary...

The borderline

Lured by the possibility of power-sharing in a new government after elections, her way carpeted by an offer of amnesty for outstanding corruption charges, Benazir Bhutto ran the substantial risk of returning to Pakistan in order to campaign for the planned elections.

When the hitman comes

She was then assassinated in an operation staged in Rawalpindi, an important Pakistani city, home or past home to Pakistan's military headquarters, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, elements of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, and other important facilities. It is a location that Pakistan's professional security apparatus should be able to secure; in any operation in which they are involved, Pakistani security forces have home-court advantage in "Pindi".

He knows damn well

Yet, somehow Islamic militants slipped in and killed Bhutto -- and the government couldn't prevent it, despite repeated warnings that her life was in danger, despite repeated assassination attempts that killed and wounded hundreds of people, and despite repeated requests for additional security.

That these Islamic militants train in camps associated with the Pakistani military and Pakistan's ISI is an inconvenient fact we aren't supposed to recall.

He has been cheated

It is obvious now that she was set up all along, enticed by the fragrant bait of involvement in an election, and targeted for elimination in such a way as to maintain plausible deniability for the people pulling the strings of her assassination.

(Continued in Part 3)