Archive | Asia

75 years later, Japanese Americans recall pain of internment camps

NOVANEWS

Image result for internment camps CARTOON

Seventy-five years ago on Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the imprisonment of Japanese Americans.

by Melissa Fares

Joyce Nakamura Okazaki was 7 years old in 1942 when her family left their Los Angeles home and reported to a World War Two internment camp for Japanese Americans in California’s remote desert.

She recalls crowded rooms filled with cots and embarrassment that the toilets at Manzanar War Relocation Center had no privacy. “Like Nazi Germany, we Japanese Americans were put into concentration camps,” said Okazaki, now 82, while recognizing that detainees were not killed or tortured.

“We were constantly under threat if we went near the barbed wire fences.”

Seventy-five years ago on Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the imprisonment of Japanese Americans.

Some 120,000 were held at 10 camps because of fears that Japanese Americans were enemy sympathizers. The United States had entered World War Two after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor about three months earlier.

Photos from the era show their dislocation and loss of freedom: Neatly dressed men in jackets and ties queuing on city streets next to luggage and sacks on their way to camps. A mother cradling a baby as she perches atop a bundle. Dusty and desolate barracks. A detainee driving a tractor in a prison camp field.

To commemorate the period, a year-long exhibition of photos, many by famed photographers Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, and artifacts opened Friday at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Okazaki’s experience is captured in a photograph of her and her sister in their mother’s embrace at Manzanar, an image preserved in a Library of Congress archive.

Okazaki recalls a life of fear in the camp. “With barbed-wire fences and guard towers and sentries with rifles manning them, you become scared,” she said.

Some Japanese Americans see parallels between the internments and President Donald Trump’s executive order last month banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

“How you react to the Muslim ban today is how you would have reacted to the imprisonment of my grandparents and parents 75 years ago,” Representative Mark Takano, whose family was interned in the World War Two-era camps, said in Congress last month.

TRAVELING UNDER GUARD

Former detainee Kanji Sahara recalls arriving at a camp at Santa Anita Park horse racetrack, just a half hour from his Los Angeles home, when he was 8.

“We were told to report to our local Christian church. There were 10 or 15 buses waiting there for us,” Sahara, now 82, said.

“As I got off the bus, I could see rows and rows of horse stables and barracks in the parking lot. That’s where we lived.”

The track was a temporary “assembly center” for more than 18,000 people, including future “Star Trek” actor George Takei.

After six months, Sahara and his family were transported to their permanent camp in Jerome, Arkansas. This time, they traveled by train.

“There were guards at the end of each car and the shades were drawn,” Sahara recalled of the trip.

But life in Jerome was an improvement.

“That’s the first thing I noticed – how many people lived in a barrack in Jerome compared to Santa Anita where we could barely move,” he said.

“I was like, ‘Hey! We’re coming up in the world.’”

Sahara and his family were allowed to leave the camp when he was 11, in 1945. Okazaki and her family left in July 1944. Their families were required to swear a loyalty oath to the United States to regain their freedom.

Okazaki objects to the term internment and prefers incarceration or imprisonment. “I was not an internee because I am a citizen. The definition of internment refers to enemy aliens in time of war,” she said.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to grant reparations to surviving internees. They received $20,000 and an apology.

Click on to see a related photo essay >>>

Posted in USA, Japan0 Comments

Pakistan Shrine Attack Kills Sparks Fierce Crackdown

NOVANEWS
  • A man mourns the death of a relative who was killed in a suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi.
    A man mourns the death of a relative who was killed in a suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi. | Photo: Reuters
The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan’s deadliest attack for two years.

Pakistani security forces killed at least 39 suspected militants Friday, a day after the Islamic State group claimed a suicide bombing that killed more than 80 worshippers at a Sufi shrine, the biggest in a spate of attacks this week across the country.

RELATED: 4 Indian Soldiers, 4 Militants Dead in Kashmir Gun Battles

The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan’s deadliest attack for two years, killing at least 88 people and highlighting the threat of militant groups.

The security response was swift.

“Over 100 terrorists have been killed since last night and sizeable apprehensions also made,” the military said in an operations update on Friday evening.

“Terrorists will be targeted ruthlessly, indiscriminately, anywhere and everywhere. No let up,” an armed forces spokesman added in a tweet.

With authorities facing angry criticism for failing to tighten security before the shrine bomber struck, analysts warned that the wave of violence pointed to a major escalation in Islamist militants’ attempts to destabilize the region.

“This is a virtual declaration of war against the state of Pakistan,” said Imtiaz Gul, head of the independent Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad.

ANALYSIS: No Country for Women: India Enters 2017 with ‘Mass Molestation’ 

With pressure growing for action, Pakistan demanded that neighboring Afghanistan hand over 76 “terrorists” it said were sheltering over the border.

The bombings over five days have hit all four of Pakistan’s provinces and two major cities, shaking a nascent sense that the worst of the country’s militant violence may be in the past.

A series of military operations against insurgent groups operating in Pakistan had encouraged hopes that their leaders were scattered.

“But this has led to a degree of complacency within our civil-military leadership that perhaps they have completely destroyed these elements, or broken their back,” Gul said.

If so, that impression has been shattered in recent days.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan 

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today

Pakistan’s Armed Forces have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has also been extended to other provinces of the country. While, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies, especially primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. But, the new wave of terrorism which started in the beginning of this year, having connection in Afghanistan has, again, enveloped Pakistan.

In this regard, at least 88 people were martyred and 343 were injured on February 16, this year when a suicide bomber attacked the crowded Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Sindh province of Pakistan. 

Terrorist organisation, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.

On February 15, three suicide bombers targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining tribal areas leaving around seven people dead. One of the incidents occurred in Peshawar where a suicide bomber riding a motorbike hit a vehicle carrying civil judges, while two other suicide bombers blew themselves up at separate locations in Mohmand Agency.

At least 13 people were killed on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on February 13, 2017 in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

Besides, more than 24 people had been killed in an explosion which ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, 2017. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in Parachinar.

At least 65 people were killed when a blast struck at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016. ISIL had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

Earlier, the affiliated group of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016 in a assault at the government-run Civil Hospital.

However, the suicide bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is the worst single attack since the TTP militants massacred about 150 students at an army school in Peshawar in December 2014. Pakistan’s military and civil high officials strongly condemned the attack and recent terror attacks by pointing out their connection in Afghanistan.

In this respect, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists living in safe havens in their country.

The army, which took the lead in dealing with Afghanistan over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had soon after the Sehwan shrine attack announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan citing security reasons.

According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa appealed to the nation to stay calm by saying, “our security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed…each drop of nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately…no more restraint for anyone.”

Gen. Javed Bajwa had called Gen John Nicholson, commander of the US’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.

Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organisations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.

In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.

Taking note of the terror assault in Sehwan, including the recent ones, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies.

In a similar message to Kabul, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar to call for strong action against JuA and terrorist’s sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan said that Afghanistan had been asked to address concerns about presence of terrorist groups on its soil, which are behind the latest wave of terrorism in the country.

It is notable that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while addressing a press conference on February 17, this year claimed that the suspects involved in planning and carrying out the Feb 13 suicide bombing on a protest at Lahore’s Charing Cross (Mall Road) belonged to Afghanistan. Sharif also announced the arrest of the facilitator of the attacker, Anwar-ul-Haq who he said belonged to Fata’s Bajaur Agency which neighbours Afghanistan. The suspect’s confessional statement was aired during the briefing. The suspect stated, “I was associated with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and they trained me”, adding that he has visited Afghanistan around 15 to 20 times.

The police officers involved in the investigation into the incident of Mall Road, Lahore revealed that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is an offshoot of the Tehreek-i-Taliban.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks since Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) announced its ‘Operation Ghazi’. The Afghanistan-based JuA had in the announcement also hinted at unification of TTP splinter groups.

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher Afgun had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e- Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

In case of Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i-Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China and Iran.

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with the then Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheeda and former Director General of ISPR Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and Balolchitan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other terrorists. During investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s security agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country, working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan. In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country.

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially have their connection in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.

Taking cognizance of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous border, situated between both the countries.

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop Pakistan from construction of a gate.

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared border line by British representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in 1947. So, it is a declared border line and Afghan government has no right to object on any construction along with the Durand line.

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan. Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences. However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up. Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic dialogue, focused on short, medium and long term solutions. As a trust building initiative, an effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an establishment will also plug in many loop holes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to conduct cross border terrorism.

We may conclude that besides the previous terror-events, the recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan have connection in Afghanistan.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Pakistan: Who is Behind Lahore Terror Attack?

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

At least 13 people were killed and 85 injured on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber

struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan

during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

Seven police officials, including two senior officers—SSP Operations Zahid Gondal of Punjab

Police and DIG Traffic Lahore Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin were among those killed in the attack.

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan

Jamaat-ur- Ahrar (TTP-JA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s

Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on

February 13, 2017 in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

It is mentionable that the final cricket match of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL),

being played in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) was to be held in just a few weeks’ time at

Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium—nearly six kilometers away from the blast site. The return of

cricket to Pakistan was being touted as a successful demonstration of the PSL final in

Lahore—a move which could have presented the country as a safe nation to the world.

PSL chairman Najam Sethi, on many occasions, had said that foreign players participating in

the league have signed contracts which abide them to play the final in Lahore; however, they

have always quoted security as an issue. Hopefully Sethi and the Chairman of Pakistan Cricket

Board (PCB) Shaharyar Khan and the Pakistani players were helping to convince the foreign

ones to come to Pakistan for the PSL final match. Hence, apart from other sinister aims,

especially India is behind the latest explosion in Lahore to sabotage the final cricket match.

Besides, at least 24 people had been killed and over 50 injured in a powerful explosion that

ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, this

year. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in

Parachinar.

At least 65 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when a blast struck at

the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016.

The Middle East-based movement of the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL)

had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency. ISIS had also

claimed responsibility for a terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, which left at

least 60 individuals dead on October 24, 2016.

Earlier, the affiliated faction of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide

bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016 in an attack at the

government-run Civil Hospital.

In fact, the armed forces of Pakistan have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists

by the successful military operation Zarb-e- Azb which has also been extended to other parts of

the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken

the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of

terror attempts.

Since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to

the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have

surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province,

peace has been restored in Balochistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, FATA (Tribal

Areas) and Karachi. But, it is due to lack of effective management mechanism at the Pak-Afghan

border that as part of the double game, the US-led India and Israel have again started acts of

sabotage in Pakistan to destabilize the latter. They are also trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC).

It was part of ploy that two terrorist groups accepted responsibility for the terror assault at the

Police Training College in Quetta to divert the attention from the US-led India and Israel.

Based in Afghanistan, operatives of CIA, Mossad and RAW which are well-penetrated in the

terrorist outfits like ISIS, TTP and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their terrorists to

destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by

arranging the subversive activities.

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher

Afgun had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the

initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e-

Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication

intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan

intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With

latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed

terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani Intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These

external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and

Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to

carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become center of the

Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the

Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location

among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further

increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the

eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the

latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

As regards Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist

groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including

Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i- Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the

Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In

the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb

blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had

kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian

diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on

Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and

Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to

obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China and Iran.

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has

exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with

Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed, Director General of Inter-Services Public

Relations (ISPR) Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s

arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active

officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a

jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for

India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and

Balolchitan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I

promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was

to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other

terrorists. During investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted

various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute

the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s secret agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country,

working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan.

In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who

were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy

network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They

were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country.

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially

have their connections in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is

frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access

through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside

Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control

management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this

respect.

Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the

border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre- long trench

with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by

Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be

extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan

officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous

border, situated between both the countries.

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started

unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani

citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop

Pakistan from construction of a gate.

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared border line by British

representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of

Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in

1947. So, it is a declared border line and Afghan government has no right to object on any

construction along with the Durand line.

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by

the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad

and Kabul.

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan.

Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-

related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also

facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides

to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of

deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and

continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and

Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the

progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences.

However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences

through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both

sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic

dialogue, focused on short, medium and long term solutions. As a trust building initiative, an

effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an

establishment will also plug in many loop holes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to

conduct cross border terrorism.

Returning to our earlier discussion, with the assistance of CIA and Mossad, particularly Indian

RAW is behind the terror attack in Lahore.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Samjhota Express Incident Revisited

NOVANEWS

Image result for India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train PHOTO

By Sajjad Shaukat

On the midnight of 18-19 February 2007, India-Pakistan Samjhota Express train was bombed in

which 68 Pakistani nationals were killed. A Hindu extremist leader Swami Aseemanand, a leader

of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has confessed that he was involved in several bombings

incidents. He also claimed to have been a part of the incident.

In fact, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails in every field at the cost of other

minority groups. It is even supported by Indian defense forces secretly. This could be judged

from the incident, when on April 6, 2008 in the house of Bajrang Dal fundamentalists in Nanded,

a bomb went off. The investigation proved that these militants were found in the bomb-making

and attack on a mosque in Parbhani in 2003. Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra

arrested a serving Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit along with other army officials, indicating that they

were helping in training the Hindu terrorists, providing them with the military-grade explosive

RDX, used in the Malegaon bombings and terrorist attacks in other Indian cities. ATS further

disclosed that Lt. Col. Purohit confessed that in 2007, he was involved in bombing of Samjhota

express, which burnt alive 70 Pakistanis.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) was convinced that Sadhu Swami Aseemanand, a

Hindu right-wing leader was directly involved in the Samjhota Express blast. Sources in NIA

further pointed out that besides Lt. Col. Purohit, other Indian army officials were also behind that

train-bombing. In this regard, a court in Panchkula, Haryana has recorded Aseemanand’s

statement which confirmed the NIA inquiry.

Aseemanand’s statement in the Samjhota Express blast case was recorded under Section 164 of

the Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate. His earlier admission was recorded in the

Mecca Masjid case, which was being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Sadhu Aseemanand stuck to his confession that Hindutva radicals were behind the bomb attack

on the Samjhota Express. Aseemanand, Aka Naba and Kumar Sarkar, named absconding

Hindutva militants—Ramji Kaisangra and Sandeep Dange as the key plotters in that terror

attack.

Sources of the NIA also disclosed that the confession in connection with the Samjhota Express

blast practically rules out the involvement of other groups.

In the Samjhota Express case, the probe team has found that the bomb used in the train waskept

in a suitcase that was bought from a shop of Indore’s Kothari Market. The suitcase had cloth

covers stitched by an Indian local tailor. The NIA was now trying to get details of those who

bought the suitcase and covers.

It is notable that Dr. J C Batra, who is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, was

asked to give opinion on Aseemanand’s confession. He appeared very defensive and as usual

started accusing Pakistan’s its primary intelligence agency ISI—its so-called history for such

activities, alleging that even this could be an ISI plot. He further said that Swami’s statement

does not have much legal value as circumstantial evidence is also needed, while adding that RSS

is being wrongly implicated and there could be others involved who are not being exposed. In

this regard, a Pakistani parliamentarian, Mr. Mian Abdul Sattar, parliamentary secretary for

planning and development, who was accompanying him, later stated that that he was told by Mr

JC Batra that the Indian Army was involved in this case and there “are efforts to shield it from

getting exposed”.

Swami Aseemanand also confessed in the court that several RSS preachers and Sang activists

were directly involved in planning, financing and executing Malegaon, Samjhauta Express,

Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts. He stated that various leaders of Hindu communal organizations

including Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi

Kalyan Ashram were also behind these blasts.

It is mentionable that in various tapes, LT. Col Purohit said, “We are all on the same plane,

Hindu Rashtra (Nation)”. He even claimed that Gen. J J Singh is “with us”. (Former Singh was

Army Chief till Sept. 2007). Significantly, Purohit mentioned that “one of our own captain had

visited Israel”, and demanded “continuous supply of arms, training, an office with a saffron flag

in Tel Aviv, political asylum and support for our cause of a Hindu Nation in the UN.” The

Israelis, he added, gave “a very positive response.”

In this context, exposing the nexus between Bhartia Janta Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya

Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the then Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde disclosed on

January 20, 2013 that organized training camps run by the fundamentalist parties, RSS and BJP

were promoting Hindu Terrorism. He also explained that these extremist parties were behind the

Samjhauta Express, Meccca Masjid and Malegaon blasts. He added, “We will have to think

about it (Saffron terrorism) seriously…Hindu extremist parties BJP and RSS were involved

many times in Hindu Muslim violence in India, especially Gujarat and Babri masjid incident.”

The then India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid endorsed Shinde’s statement, saying

that it was based on facts. Meanwhile, Indian Home Secretary R K Singh revealed that during

investigation the government had found ten names of the Hindu extremists, associated with RSS,

who were involved in these terror attacks including Ajmer Sharif.

Similarly on July 19, 2013, the Indian ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-

attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001

were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws.

While, India has always accused Pakistan’s ISI of these acts of terrorism, but it is quite silent

over Hindutva-terror which has obtained a new face, under the fundamentalist Indian Prime

Minister Narendra Modi, as Indian RAW, country’s high officials and fundamentalist parties

have co-relationship.

Nevertheless, despite the confessions of Swami Aseemanand, instead of taking action against the

culprits of the Samjhota Express explosion, the Supreme Court of India accepted the bail of

Swami Aseemanand after the covert interference of the Modi-led authorities who changed the

investigations in this respect in order to weaken the case.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in India, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

China and Trumpism: The Political Contradictions of Global Capitalism

NOVANEWS
  • Combination of photos showing Chinese newspaper, stacked 100 yuan banknotes and US$100 bills.
    Combination of photos showing Chinese newspaper, stacked 100 yuan banknotes and US$100 bills. | Photo: Reuters / teleSUR
As U.S. hegemony declines and Chinese hegemony possibly rises, it is clear that the political scaffolding of world capitalism is hopelessly outdated.

When China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, warned last December that a U.S. trade war against China would result in disaster for the United States, it was no idle threat. Trump scores political points with his social base each time he rails at Beijing, yet the U.S. and the global economy would grind to a halt if it were not for China’s preponderant role in shoring up global capitalism at this moment of acute crisis.

RELATED:  Trump Backtracks on ‘One China’ Stance With Xi

The simplistic notion that Trumpism represents a return to protectionism and national trade rivalries conceals the real inner contradictions of global capitalism that are bringing the 21st-century world order to the breaking point. The system faces a structural crisis of extreme inequality and overaccumulation, as well as a political crisis of legitimacy and an ecological crisis of sustainability.

But there is another dimension to the crisis that is escalating international tensions and, depending on the turn of events, could well spark world conflagration. The disjuncture between a globalizing economy and a nation-state system of political authority threatens to undermine the system’s ability to manage the crisis and helps explain Trump’s reckless anti-China posturing.

Global Capitalism No Longer Has a Hegemonic Center

There has historically been a succession of hegemonic powers, from Spain in the 16th century, to the Netherlands in the 17th, England in the 18th and 19th, and finally the United States in the 20.th. As each “hegemon” rose to dominance it organized the political institutions and economic rules of the world capitalist system. While academics now debate the decline of U.S. hegemony and the possible rise of the Chinese, what is certain is that the global economy is increasingly Sino-centered and the existing political scaffolding of world capitalism is hopelessly outdated.

OPINION: The Battle Against Trumpism and Specter of 21st Century Fascism

Simply put, China’s international political clout does not match its expanding economic role in the global economy. The current world political order dates to the creation in 1944 of the Bretton Woods institutions by the Western victors in World War II and includes the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations System. The rich Western states also established their NATO military alliance and numerous political forums for their collective rule, among them, the Bilderberg Club and the Trilateral Commission. The United States, along with Western Europe, dominates decision-making in these institutions, while the status of the dollar as the international currency makes the U.S. Treasury the world’s central bank.

However, as globalization has brought into being a Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC) and a global production and financial system into which all nations have been integrated, the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – and other countries in the Global South have emerged as major players in the global economy. The leading capitalist groups from these countries have joined the ranks of the emerging TCC and have acquired a stake in the stability and well-being of global capitalism. But all this has occurred within the framework of an increasingly arcane international political order.

Global capitalism is particularly dependent on China, given vast worldwide chains of subcontracting and outsourcing and the central role China plays in those chains. China provides a market for transnational corporations and until recently a sink for surplus accumulated capital, along with a vast supply of cheap labor controlled by a repressive state. China became in the past three decades the new “workshop of the world.” Moreover, China leads the way in what is a surge in outward foreign direct investment from countries in the Global South to other parts of the South and to the North. Between 1991 and 2003, China’s foreign direct investment increased tenfold and then increased 13.7 times from 2004 to 2013, from US$45 billion to US$613 billion.

The more enlightened among transnational elites have been clamoring for more effective transnational state apparatuses to resolve this disjuncture between a globalizing economy and a nation-state based system of political authority. They have been seeking transnational mechanisms of governance – such as the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995 and the establishment of the G20 in 1999 – that would allow the global ruling class to stabilize the system in the interests of saving global capitalism from itself and from radical challenges from below.

OPINION: John Pilger: The Coming War on China

The World Economic Forum or WEF, which holds its famed annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, has called for new forms of global corporate rule, including a proposal to remake the United Nations system into a hybrid corporate-government entity run by TNC executives in “partnership” with governments. “The weakening of multiple systems has eroded confidence at the national, regional, and global levels,” warned the call to the 2017 Davos meeting, held this past January 17-20. “In the absence of innovative and credible steps towards their renewal, the likelihood increases of a downward spiral to the global economy.”

Trump vs. Xi Jinping

While Trump was spouting his right-wing populism and protectionist threats in the run-up to his January 20 inauguration, Chinese President Xi Jinping took center stage at the January WEF conclave, delivering an inaugural speech that called for an open global economy and a new international political order. The TCC welcomed the Chinese president’s Davos debut on the world political stage and is pleased to see China take the reins of global leadership. The irony should be lost on no one that the two richest men in China, Wang Jianlin, and Jack Ma, the latter the founder of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, accompanied Xi.

RELATED: No Winner in a China-US Conflict: Chinese Foreign Minister

The U.S. and Chinese economies are inextricably interwoven. They are less autonomous national economies than two key constituent parts of an integrated global economy. Trump has accused China of manipulating its currency, threatened to levy a 45 percent tariff on certain Chinese goods, and suggested he would use the “one China” policy as a bargaining tool in trade negotiations. Yet the simple fact is the TCC in both China and the United States are dependent on their expanding economic ties.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) between the United States and China has surged over the past two decades, according to a 2016 report by two industry groups, Rhodium and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. In 2015, more than 1,300 U.S.-based companies had investments of $228 billion in China, while Chinese companies invested US$64 billion in the United States, up from close to zero just ten years earlier, and held US$153 billion in assets.

Notwithstanding Trump’s ranting about a U.S. trade deficit with China, Chinese exports to the United States are transnational capitalist exports. And for that matter, an overvalued Chinese currency actually benefits transnational corporations that export from China to the U.S. and the global markets. Indeed, as Trump himself has insinuated, his anti-China rhetoric and threats are aimed at creating an environment in which he can twist the Chinese state into making greater concessions to global capital (the same can be said for his anti-Mexico discourse).

Moreover, according to the U.S. Treasury, the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt is China, which owns more than US$1.24 trillion in bills, notes, and bonds or about 30 percent of the over US$4 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries. In total, China owns about 10 percent of publicly held U.S. debt. In turn, deficit spending and debt-driven consumption have made the United States in recent decades the “market of last resort,” helping to stave off greater stagnation and even collapse of the global economy by absorbing Chinese and world economic output.

It was not, hence, a mere idle threat when China’s lead multibillionaire, Wang Jianlin, whose Dalian Wanda Group recently acquired the AMC cinema chain, warned the Trump regime that he would withdraw $10 billion in investments in the film and real estate industries in the United States. “ More than 20,000 employees wouldn’t have anything to eat should things be handled poorly,” he said. “The growth of English films depends on the Chinese market.”

Crisis of Global Capitalism

Trumpism encapsulates the conflicting economic and political pressures on the U.S. state. The crisis of global capitalism has become more acute in the face of economic stagnation and the rise of anti-globalization populism on both the left and the right of the political spectrum. Trumpism does not represent a break with capitalist globalization as much as a conflictive recomposition of political forces and ideological discourse as the crisis deepens and as international tensions reach new depths.

The U.S. military-security apparatus finds it difficult to adapt to new global realities and U.S. rulers rely on imperial bluster for its legitimacy among a chauvinistic base of the U.S. workers experiencing downward mobility and disaffection with the establishment elite. U.S. provocations in the South China Sea, its “Asia pivot” and anti-China bravado are escalating tensions even as they threaten to aggravate the crisis of global capitalism. A recent U.S. intelligence report warned of war between the U.S. and China, and one senior Chinese military official quoted on January 27 in the South China Morning Post warned that war with the U.S. under Trump is “not just a slogan” but threatens to become a “practical reality.”

RELATED:  China Just Made a Karl Marx Hip Hop Tune to ‘Educate’ Its Youth

What does rising Chinese global leadership mean for the global working class? The Chinese state is a capitalist state. The rise of a powerful TCC in China and of the super-rich and a high-consumption middle class alongside the rising exploitation of hundreds of millions of Chinese workers, now at the cutting edge of labor struggle worldwide, is well known. Yet Chinese capitalism has not followed the neoliberal route to global capitalist integration. The state retains a key role in the financial system, in regulating private capital, and in planning. This allows it to develop 21st-century infrastructure and to guide capital accumulation into aims broader than that of immediate profit making, something that the Western capitalist states cannot accomplish due to the rollback of public sectors, privatization, and deregulation.

A set of more balanced transnational state institutions that reflect the new realities of a multipolar and interdependent global capitalist system could de-escalate mounting international tensions and the threat of war. We should harbor no illusions that a new global political architecture can either humanize capitalism or resolve the crisis absent mass struggle for a redistribution of wealth and power downward. The return to an interventionist capitalist state around the world, however, may make more effective the demands placed on states by popular and leftist struggles from below.

Posted in USA, China0 Comments

US-North Korean Relations in a Time of Change

NOVANEWS

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By Gregory Elich 

The months ahead may reveal the direction that U.S.-North Korean relations will take under the Trump administration. After eight years of ‘strategic patience’ and the Rebalance to Asia, those relations now stand at their lowest point in decades. Many foreign policy elites are expressing frustration over Washington’s failure to impose its will on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). There are increasing calls for a change in policy, but what kind of change do they have in mind? We may be at the point of a major transition.

President Trump has given mixed signals on North Korea, ranging from saying he is open to dialogue, to insisting that North Korea cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and that he could solve the dispute with a single call to China. It is fair to say that any change in policy direction is possible, although deeply entrenched interests can be counted on to resist any positive movement.

Other than his frequently expressed hard line on China, Trump has not otherwise demonstrated much interest in Asian-Pacific affairs. That may mean an increased likelihood that he will defer to his advisors, and conventional wisdom may prevail. The more influence Trump’s advisors have on North Korea policy, the more dangerous the prospects.

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn could be a key figure. Back in November, he told a South Korean delegation that the North Korean nuclear issue would be a top priority for the Trump administration. [1] At around the same time, he told a Japanese newspaper that the North Korean government should not be allowed to last very long, and he has no intention of negotiating an agreement. [2]

Flynn has written that North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela are in a global alliance with radical Islam, a loopy concept if ever there was one. [3] It is a disturbing thought that a man so disconnected from reality is helping to shape policy.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo believes that Iran and North Korea cooperate in what he calls “an evil partnership.” [4] He has also called for the mobilization of economic and military powers against the DPRK. [5]

Establishment think tanks have churned out a number of policy papers, filled with recommendations for the new administration. Their advice is likely to fall on receptive ears among Trump’s advisors. How much influence they will have on Trump’s decision-making is another question, but he is hearing a single message from those around him and from the Washington establishment.

A common theme running through these think tank policy papers is the demand to punish China for its relations with the DPRK.

The most moderate set of proposals offered the Trump administration is the one produced by Joel Wit for the U.S.-Korea Institute, in that it at least calls for an initial stage that Wit terms “phased coercive diplomacy.” Initial diplomatic contacts would “explore whether agreements that serve U.S. interests are possible while at the same time” the U.S. would lay the groundwork for “increasing pressure” on North Korea. A modest scaling back of the annual U.S. war games could be offered as an incentive to North Korea, along with negotiations on a peace treaty, as long as the U.S. feels it can gain more from North Korean concessions.

At the same time, Wit calls for the new administration to “communicate toughness” and implement a “long-term deterrence campaign.” This would include the rotation of B-1 and B-52 bombers into South Korea on a regular basis, along with stationing nuclear weapons-armed submarines off the Korean coast.

While negotiations are underway, Wit wants the U.S. to direct a propaganda war against the DPRK, by increasing radio broadcasts and infiltrating portable storage devices containing information designed to destabilize the government. What he does not say is that such hostile measures can only have the effect of derailing diplomacy.

If North Korea proves less than compliant to U.S. demands, or if it prepares to test an ICBM, then Wit advises Washington to impose a total “energy and non-food embargo” on North Korea. Wit argues that China must accede to U.S. demands in the UN Security Council for what amounts to economic warfare on North Korea, or else the United States should impose “crippling sanctions” on the DPRK and secondary sanctions on China. By attacking the Chinese economy in this manner, Wit says this would send a message “that the United States would be prepared to face a serious crisis with China over North Korean behavior.” The arrogance is stunning. If China does not agree to American demands in the United Nations, then it is to be punished through U.S. sanctions. [6]

This is what passes as the “moderate” approach among Washington’s foreign policy establishment.

Wit is not alone in his eagerness to punish China. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute believes that “the next round of penalties will probably have to be ones which have some sort of collateral fallout for China…Sanctions are fine, more sanctions are better,” he says. “Increasing the cost for China, I think, is the way to go.” [7]

Eberstadt argues that U.S. North Korea policy should “consist mainly, though not entirely, of military measures.” “It is time for Beijing to pay a penalty for all its support” for North Korea, he declares. “We can begin by exacting it in diplomatic venues all around the world.” [8] Displaying the presumption all too typical of Washington elites, he has nothing to say about how China might react to his hostile policy prescriptions. The assumption is that China should just take the punishment without complaint. That will not happen.

U.S. Navy Commander ‘Skip’ Vincenzo prepared a set of recommendations that proved so popular that it was jointly published by four think tanks. Vincenzo is looking ahead and planning for how the United States and South Korea could attack the DPRK without suffering great losses. He urges the Trump administration to conduct an information war to undermine North Korea from within. The aim would be “convincing regime elites that their best options” in a conflict “would be to support ROK-U.S. alliance efforts.” He adds that “easily understood themes such as ‘stay in your garrisons and you will get paid’ should target the military rank and file.” North Korean military commanders should be told they would be “financially rewarded” for avoiding combat. “The objective is to get them to act independently when the time comes with the expectation that they will benefit later.” [9]

Interesting phrase, ‘when the time comes.’ Vincenzo anticipates that military intervention in North Korea is only a matter of time. He clearly envisions a scenario like the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when many Iraqi units melted away rather than fight. The fantasy that the U.S. could repeat the Iraqi experience in the DPRK is based on a misjudgment of the Korean national character. Nor does it take into account that what followed the invasion of Iraq could hardly be construed as a peaceful development.

The Brookings Institute, despite its centrist reputation, encourages Trump to take actions that are savage and reckless. “The new president,” the Institute says, “should adopt an approach that focuses on North Korea’s main goal: regime survival… The United States and its allies and partners should make North Korea choose between nuclear weapons and survival.”

The Brookings Institute calls for all-out economic warfare on the North Korean people. “A more robust approach,” it advises, “should go after “the financial lifeblood of the North Korean regime in new ways: starving the regime of foreign currency, cutting Pyongyang off from the international financial and trading system, squeezing its trading networks, interdicting its commerce, and using covert and overt means to take advantage of the regime’s many vulnerabilities. A strong foundation of military measures must underline this approach.”

In a major understatement, the Institute admits that “such an approach carries risks.” Indeed it does, and it is the Korean people who would bear that cost, while Washington’s elites would face none of the consequences of their actions. What the Brookings Institute is calling for is the economic strangulation of North Korea, which would bring about the collapse of people’s livelihoods and mass starvation.

Like other think tanks, the Brookings Institute advocates targeting China, calling for the imposition of secondary sanctions on “Chinese firms, banks, and state-owned enterprises” that do business with North Korea. [10] The aim would be to cut North Korea off from all trade with China.

Walter Sharp, a former commander of U.S. Forces Korea, says that the United States should launch a preemptive strike if North Korea prepares to launch a satellite or test a ballistic missile. “The missile should be destroyed,” he declares. It is easy to imagine the violent response by the United States, were a foreign nation to attack one of its missiles on the launch pad. It is delusional to expect that North Korea not only wouldn’t respond in some manner but would have no right to do so. But Sharp advocates “overwhelming force” if North Korea retaliates, because, as he puts it, Kim Jong-un should know “that there is a lot more coming his way, something he will fear.” [11] If this sounds like a prescription for war, that is because it is.

It is a measure of how decades of militarized foreign policy have degraded public discourse in this country to such an extent that these lunatic notions are not only taken seriously, but advocates are sought out for advice and treated with respect.

With suggestions like that, it is not surprising that Walter Sharp was invited to join the task force that produced a set of recommendations on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. The task force calls for the early stages of negotiations to focus on a nuclear freeze, limitations on North Korean conventional forces and missile development, and inspection of nuclear facilities. Obligations on North Korea would be front-loaded, with absolutely nothing offered in return. The promise of a peace treaty and gradual normalization of relations would be back-loaded, contingent on full disarmament, an improvement on human rights, and allowing U.S. and South Korean media to saturate the DPRK. Certainly, that last demand would be a non-starter, as it is impossible to imagine that North Korea would agree to allow its media space to be dominated by hostile foreign entities.

Such a one-sided approach has no chance of achieving a diplomatic settlement. As a solution, the Council recommends that the United States continually escalate sanctions during the negotiating process.

The Council on Foreign Relations calls for the U.S., South Korea, and Japan to build up the capability to intercept North Korean missile launches, “whether they are declared to be ballistic missile tests or civil space launch vehicles.” If negotiations falter, it advises the three allies to shoot down North Korean missiles as soon as they are launched. That would be an act of war. And how does the Council on Foreign Relations imagine North Korea would respond to having a satellite launch shot down? It does not say.

Further development of North Korea’s nuclear program, the Council suggests, would require “more assertive diplomatic and military steps, including some that directly threaten the regime’s nuclear and missile programs and, therefore, the regime itself.”

“The United States should support enhanced information operations” against North Korea, the Council adds, to undermine the government and “strengthen emerging market forces.” Predictably enough, it advocates “severe economic pressure” on North Korea, as well as encouraging private companies to bring legal suits against nations and companies that do business with North Korea. [12]

It is not diplomacy that the Council on Foreign Relations seeks, but regime change, and its policy paper is filled with the language of the bully.

Bruce Bennett is a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation. He warns that North Korea’s desire for a peace treaty is a ruse. “In reality,” he says, “by insisting on a peace treaty, North Korea is probably not seeking peace, but war.” He goes on to claim that a peace treaty might lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces, after which the North could be counted on to invade South Korea. Calls for a peace treaty, he adds, “should be regarded as nothing but a deceitful scam that could lead to the devastation of South Korea, a U.S. ally.” [13] This is an argument that other analysts also make, and is clearly delusional. But it serves as a good illustration of how in the blinkered mindset of Washington’s policy analysts, unsupported assertion takes the place of any sense of reality.

The Center for a New American Security has planted deep roots in the U.S. establishment. Ashton Carter, secretary of defense in the Obama administration, expressed the level of respect and influence that CNAS holds in Washington. “For almost a decade now,” Carter said, “CNAS has been an engine for the ideas and talent that have shaped American foreign policy and defense policy.” Carter added that “in meeting after meeting, on issue after issue,” he worked with CNAS members. [14] His comments reveal that this is an organization that has constant access to the halls of power.

The Center for a New American Security has produced a set of policy documents intended to influence the Trump administration. Not surprisingly, it favors the Rebalance to Asia that was initiated by President Obama, and advocates a further expansion of U.S. military forces in Asia. [15] It also wants to see greater involvement by NATO in the Asia-Pacific in support of the U.S. military. [16]

Patrick Cronin is senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, and as such, he wields considerable influence on U.S. policy. Cronin asserts that “Trump will want to enact harsh sanctions and undertake a serious crackdown” on North Korean financial operations, but these steps should be of secondary importance. Trump should “double down” on the U.S. military buildup in the region, he says, and alliance strategy should send the message to Kim Jong-un that nuclear weapons would threaten his survival. There it is again: the the proposal to threaten North Korea’s survival if it does not abandon its nuclear program.

Regardless of diplomatic progress, Cronin believes the U.S. and its allies should conduct an information war against North Korea “at both elite and grassroots’ levels.” [17]

China is not to be ignored, and Cronin feels Trump will need to integrate “tougher diplomacy” with economic sanctions against China. [18]

It remains to be seen to what extent Trump will heed such advice. But the entire foreign policy establishment and mainstream media are united in staunch opposition to any genuinely diplomatic resolution of the dispute. Trump has expressed a healthy skepticism concerning CIA intelligence briefings. Whether that skepticism will be extended to the advice coming from Washington think tanks is an open question.

If the aim of these proposals is to bring about denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, then they are recipes for failure. But if the intent is to impose economic hardship on the North Korean people, while capitalizing on the nuclear issue as a pretext to dominate the region, then these think tanks know what they are doing. As always, human considerations mean nothing when it comes to serving corporate and imperial interests, and if they fully have their way, it will be no surprise if they succeed in bringing to the Korean Peninsula the same chaos and destruction that they gave to the Middle East. One can only hope that more reasonable voices will prevail during policy formulation.

What none of the policy papers address is the role that South Korea has to play. It is simply assumed that the status quo will continue, and South Korea will go along with any action the U.S. chooses to take, no matter how harsh or dangerous. In the mind of the Washington establishment, this is a master-servant relationship and nothing more.

That Koreans, north and south, may have their own goals and interests is not considered. The truly astonishing mass protests against South Korean President Park Geun-hye, which led to her impeachment, have opened up a world of possibilities. Whatever happens in the months ahead, it won’t be business as usual. U.S. policymakers are in a panic at the prospect of a more progressive and independent-minded government taking power after the next election in South Korea, and this is what lies behind plans to rush the deployment of a THAAD battery ahead of schedule. But in a sense, it may already be too late. Park Geun-hye, and by implication her policies, have been thoroughly discredited. It may well be that the harsher the measures Washington wants to impose on the DPRK, the less it can count on cooperation from South Korea. And it could be this that prevents the United States from recklessly plunging the Korean Peninsula into chaos or even war.

Let us imagine a more progressive government taking power in South Korea, engaging in dialogue with its neighbor to the north and signing agreements on economic cooperation. Were the U.S. so inclined, it could work together with such a government in South Korea to reduce tensions and develop economic ties with the DPRK. Rail and gas links could cross North Korea, connecting the south with China and Russia, and provide an economic boost to the entire region. North and South Korea could shift resources from military to civilian needs and start to dismantle national security state structures. The nuclear issue would cease to matter. All of those things could be done, but it would take a change in mentality in Washington and a willingness to defy the entire establishment.

Alas, it is far more likely that tensions will continue to be ratcheted up. Longstanding confrontation with Russia and China has been the keynote of U.S. policy, leading to the encirclement of those nations by a ring of military bases and anti-ballistic missile systems. The Rebalance to Asia aims to reinforce military power around China. North Korea, in this context, serves as a convenient justification for the U.S. military and economic domination of the Asia-Pacific.

Why is North Korea’s nuclear weapons program regarded as an unacceptable threat, whereas those of other nations are not? Why do we not see the United States imposing sanctions on Pakistan for its nuclear program, or conducting war games in the Indian Ocean, practicing the invasion of India? Why do we not hear calls for regime change in Israel over its nuclear program?

Instead, Pakistan is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. aid, slated to receive $742 million this year. India receives one-tenth of that amount, and the United States recently signed an agreement with it on military cooperation. [19] As for Israel, the United States has pledged to provide it with $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years. [20]

What is it about its nuclear weapons program that causes North Korea to be sanctioned and threatened, whereas the U.S. warmly embraces the others? Pakistan, India, and Israel have nuclear programs that are far more advanced than North Korea’s, with sizeable arsenals and well-tested ballistic missiles. The other major difference is that North Korea is the only one of the four nations facing an existential threat from the United States, and therefore has the greatest need of a nuclear deterrent.

There is no threat of North Korea attacking the United States. It has yet to test a re-entry vehicle, and so cannot be said to have the means of delivering a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the nation will never have more than a small arsenal relative to the size of that owned by the U.S., so its nuclear weapons can only play a deterrent role.

The “threat” that North Korea’s nuclear program presents is twofold. Once North Korea succeeds in completing development of its program, the United States will lose any realistic possibility of attacking it. Whether the U.S. would choose to exercise that capability or not, it wants to retain that option.

The other aspect of the “threat” is that if the DPRK succeeds in establishing an effective nuclear weapons program, then other small nations facing U.S. hostility may feel emboldened to develop nuclear programs, thereby reducing the ability of the U.S. to impose its will on others.

It’s difficult to see why North Korea would ever give up its nuclear program. For one thing, according to U.S. State Department estimates, North Korea is spending anywhere from 15 to 24 percent of its GDP on the military. [21] This is unsustainable for an economy in recovery, and nuclear weapons are cheap in comparison to the expense of conventional armed forces. The DPRK is placing great emphasis on economic development, and a nuclear weapons program allows it to shift more resources to the civilian economy. [22]

Recent history has also shown that a small nation relying on conventional military forces has no chance of defending itself against attack by the United States. For a nation like North Korea, nuclear weapons present the only reliable means of defense.

North Korea attaches great importance to the signing of a peace treaty. After more than six decades since the Korean War, a peace treaty is long overdue and a worthy goal. But if the DPRK imagines that a peace treaty would provide a measure of security, I think it is mistaken. The U.S. was officially at peace with each of the nations it attacked or undermined.

What kind of guarantees could the United States possibly give North Korea to ensure its security in exchange for disarmament? An agreement could be signed, and promises made, and mean nothing. Libya, it should be recalled, signed a nuclear disarmament agreement with one U.S. administration, only to be bombed by the next. No verbal or written promise could provide any measure of security.

The one-sided record of U.S. negotiators is hardly an encouragement for North Korea to disarm either.

For example, shortly after the United States signed the September 2005 Joint Agreement with North Korea, U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill sought to reassure Congress that the United States was not about to begin to normalize relations, even though that is precisely what the agreement obligated it to do.

Normalization of relations, he explained to Congress, would be “subject to resolution of our longstanding concerns. By this, I meant that as a necessary part of the process leading to normalization, we must discuss important issues, including human rights, biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missile programs, proliferation of conventional weapons, terrorism, and other illicit activities.” North Korea “would have to commit to international standards across the board, and then prove its intentions.” Christopher Hill’s point was clear. Even if North Korea were to denuclearize fully, relations would still not move toward normalization. North Korea would only be faced with a host of additional demands. [23]

Indeed, far from beginning to normalize relations, within days of the signing of the September 2005 agreement, the Treasury Department designated Macao-based Banco Delta Asia as a “primary money-laundering concern,” despite a lack of any evidence to back that claim. U.S. financial firms were ordered to sever relations with the bank, which led to a wave of withdrawals by panicked customers, and the bank’s closure. The aim of the Treasury Department was to shut off one of the key institutions North Korea used to conduct regular international trade. That action killed the agreement.

The Libyan nuclear agreement provides the model that Washington expects North Korea to follow. That agreement compelled Libya to dismantle its nuclear program as a precondition for receiving any rewards, and it was only after that process was complete that many of the sanctions on Libya were lifted. It took another two years to remove Libya from the list of sponsors of terrorism and restore diplomatic relations.

Upon closer examination, these ‘rewards’ look more like a reduction in punishment. Can it be said that a reduction in sanctions is a reward? If someone is beating you, and then promises to cut back on the number of beatings, is he rewarding you?

It did not seem so to the Libyans, who often complained that U.S. officials had not rewarded them for their compliance. [24]

What the U.S. did have to offer Libya, though, were more demands. Early on, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Libyan officials that they had to halt military cooperation with Iran in order to complete the denuclearization agreement.[25]  And on at least one occasion, a U.S. official pressured Libya to cut off military trade with North Korea, Iran, and Syria. [26]

American officials demanded that Libya recognize the unilateral independence of Kosovo, a position which Libya had consistently opposed. [27] This was followed by a U.S. diplomatic note to Libya, ordering it to vote against the Serbian government’s resolution at the United Nations, which asked for a ruling by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo independence. [28]

Under the circumstances, Libya preferred to absent itself from the vote, rather than join the United States and three other nations in opposing the measure.

The U.S. did succeed, however, in obtaining Libya’s vote for UN sanctions against Iran. [29] In response to U.S. directives, Libya repeatedly advised North Korea to follow its example and denuclearize. Under U.S. pressure, Libya also launched a privatization program and opened opportunities for U.S. businesses.

U.S. officials often urged the North Koreans to take note of the Libyan deal and learn from its example. These days, that example looks rather different, given the bombing of Libya by U.S. warplanes and missiles. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was rewarded for his cooperation with the United States by being beaten, impaled on a bayonet, and shot several times. There is a lesson here, all right, and the North Koreans have taken due note of it.

It is time to challenge the standard Western narrative.

Under international space law, every nation has the right to launch a satellite into orbit, yet North Korea alone is singled out for condemnation and denied that right. The United States, with over one thousand nuclear tests, [30] reacts with outrage to North Korea’s five.

To quote political analyst Tim Beal, “The construction of North Korea as an international pariah is an expression of American power rather than, as is usually claimed, a result of the infringement of international law. In fact, the discriminatory charges against North Korea are themselves a violation of the norms of international law and the equal sovereignty of states.” [31]

Since 1953, North Korea has never been at war.

During that same period, to list only a sampling of interventions, the U.S. overthrew the government of Guatemala, sent a proxy army to invade Cuba, and bombed and invaded Vietnam, at the cost of two million lives. It bombed Cambodia and Laos, sent troops into the Dominican Republic, backed a military coup in Indonesia, in which half a million people were killed, organized a military coup in Chile, backed Islamic extremists in their efforts to topple a secular government in Afghanistan. The U.S. invaded Grenada, mined harbors and armed anti-government forces in Nicaragua, armed right-wing guerrillas in Angola and Mozambique, armed and trained Croatian forces and supplied air cover as they expelled 200,000 people from their homes in Krajina, bombed half of Bosnia, armed and trained the Kosovo Liberation Army, attacked Yugoslavia, invaded Iraq, backed the overthrow of governments in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Georgia, Honduras, and many other nations, bombed Libya, and armed and trained jihadists in Syria.

And yet, we are told that it is North Korea that is the threat to international peace.

2017 could be a pivotal year for the Korean Peninsula. An energized population is bringing change to South Korea. We should join them and demand change here in the United States, as well. It is time to resist continued calls for a reckless and militarized foreign policy.

 

Notes

[1] Jesse Johnson, “Trump National Security Pick Tells South Koreans that North’s Nuke Program will be Priority,” The Japan Times, November 19, 2016.

[2] Chang Jae-soon, “Trump Names Former DIA Chief Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor,” Yonhap, November 19, 2016.

[3] Edward Wong, “Michael Flynn, a Top Trump Adviser, Ties China and North Korea to Jihadists,” New York Times, November 30, 2016.

[4] Press Release, “Pompeo on North Korea’s Nuclear Test,” U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo, January 16, 2016.

[5] Chang Jae-soon, “Trump’s Foreign Policy Lineup Expected to be Supportive of Alliance with Seoul, Tough on N.K.,” December 13, 2016.

[6] Joel S. Wit, “The Way Ahead: North Korea Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration,” U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), December 2016.

[7] FPI Conference Call: North Korea’s Dangerous Nuclear Escalation,” The Foreign Policy Initiative, September 15, 2016.

[8] Nicholas Eberstadt, “Wishful Thinking has Prevented Effective Threat Reduction in North Korea,” National Review, February 29, 2016.

[9] Commander Frederick ‘Skip’ Vincenzo, “An Information Based Strategy to Reduce North Korea’s Increasing Threat: Recommendations for ROK & U.S. Policy Makers,” Center for a New American Security, U.S.-Korea Institute, National Defense University, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Center for Security Studies,” October 2016.

[10] Evans J.R. Revere, “Dealing with a Nuclear-Armed North Korea: Rising Danger, Narrowing Options, Hard Choices,” Brookings Institute, October 4, 2016.

[11] Richard Sisk, “Former US General Calls for Pre-emptive Strike on North Korea,” Defense Tech, December 1, 2016.

[12] Mike Mullen and Sam Nunn, chairs, and Adam Mount, project director, “A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia,” Independent Task Force Report No. 74, Council on Foreign Relations, 2016.

[13] Bruce W. Bennett, “Kim Jong-un is Trolling America Again,” The National Interest, May 17, 2016.

[14] Ashton Carter, “Networking Defense in the 21st Century”, Remarks at CNAS, Washington, DC, Defense.gov, June 20, 2016.

[15] Mira Rapp-Hooper, Patrick M. Cronin, Harry Krejsa, Hannah Suh, “Counterbalance: Red Teaming the Rebalance in the Asia-Pacific,” Center for a New American Security, November 2016.

[16] Julianne Smith, Erik Brattberg, and Rachel Rizzo, “Translatlantic Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific,” Center for a New American Security, October 2016.

[17] Patrick M. Cronin, “4 Ways Trump Can Avoid a North Korea Disaster,” The Diplomat, December 13, 2016.

[18] Patrick M. Cronin and Marcel Angliviel de la Beaumelle, “How the Next US President Should Handle the South China Sea,” The Diplomat. May 2, 2016.

[19] “Foreign Assistance in Pakistan,” foreignassistance.gov

Rama Lakshmi, “India and U.S. Deepen Defense Ties with Landmark Agreement,” Washington Post, August 30, 2016.

[20] “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” everycrsreport.com, December 22, 2016.

[21] U.S. Department of State, “World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2016,” December 2016.

[22] Bradley O. Babson, “After the Party Congress: What to Make of North Korea’s Commitment to Economic Development?” 38 North, May 19, 2016.Elizabeth Shim, “Kim Jong Un’s Economic Plan Targets Foreign Investment,” UPI, May 19, 2015.

[23] “The Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue: Old Wine in New Bottles?” Hearing Before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, October 6, 2005.

[24] “Libya Nuclear Chronology,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, February 2011.

[25] U.S. Department of State cable, “U/S Bolton’s July 10 Meeting with Libyan Officials, August 11, 2004.

[26] William Tobey, “A Message from Tripoli, Part 4: How Libya Gave Up its WMD,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 7, 2014.

[27] U.S. Embassy Tripoli cable, “Libya/UNSC: 1267, Iran and Kosovo, July 1, 2008.

[28] U.S. Embassy Tripoli cable, “Kosovo ICJ Resolution at UNGA — Libya,” October 6, 2008.

[29] “Libya Nuclear Chronology,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, February 2011.

[30] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_weapons_tests_of_the_United_States

[31] Tim Beal, “The Korean Peninsula within the Framework of US Global Hegemony,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, November 15, 2016.

Posted in USA, North Korea0 Comments

Is President Trump Headed for a War With China? All Options Are “on the Table”

NOVANEWS

By Rajan Menon, TomDispatch

President Xi Jinping of China during a summit in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2016. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

President Xi Jinping of China during a summit in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2016. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that US troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.

Let’s start with silver-maned, stately Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Who could deny that the former ExxonMobil CEO has a foreign minister’s bearing? Trump reportedly chose him over neocon firebrand John Bolton partly for that reason. (Among other things, Bolton was mustachioed, something the new president apparently doesn’t care for.)  But an august persona can only do so much; it can’t offset a lack of professional diplomatic experience.

That became all-too-apparent during Tillerson’s January 11th confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was asked for his view on the military infrastructure China has been creating on various islands in the South China Sea, the ownership of which other Asian countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim as well. China’s actions, he replied, were “extremely worrisome,” likening them to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, an infraction for which Russia was slapped with economic sanctions.

The then-secretary-of-state-designate — he’s since been confirmed, despite many negative votes — didn’t, however, stop there. Evidently, he wanted to communicate to the Chinese leadership in Beijing that the new administration was already irked beyond measure with them. So he added, “We’re going to have to send China’s leaders a clear signal: that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands is not going to be allowed.” Functionally, that fell little short of being an announcement of a future act of war, since not allowing “access” to those islands would clearly involve military moves. In what amounted to a there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town warning, he then doubled down yet again, insisting, slightly incoherently (in the tradition of his new boss) that “the failure of a response has allowed them to just keep pushing the envelope on this.”

All right, so maybe a novice had a bad day. Maybe the secretary-of-state-to-be simply ad-libbed and misspoke… whatever. If so, you might have expected a later clarification from him or from someone on the Trump national security team anyway.

That didn’t happen; instead, that team stuck to its guns. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made no effort to add nuance to, let alone walk back, Tillerson’s remarks. During his first official press briefing on January 23rd, Spicer declared that the United States “is going to make sure we defend our interests there” — in the South China Sea, that is — and that “if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

And what of Trump’s own views on the island controversy? Never one to pass up an opportunity for hyperbole, during the presidential campaign he swore that, on those tiny islands, China was building “a military fortress the likes of which the world has not seen.” As it happened, he wasn’t speaking about, say, the forces that Hitler massed for the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa, launched in June 1941 with the aim of crushing the Red Army and the Soviet Union, or those deployed for the June 1944 Normandy landing, which sealed Nazi Germany’s fate. When applied to what China has been up to in the South China Sea, his statement fell instantly into the not-yet-named category of “alternative facts.”

Candidate Trump also let it be known that he wouldn’t allow Beijing to get away with such cheekiness on his watch. Why had the Chinese engaged in military construction on the islands? Trump had a simple answer (as he invariably does): China “has no respect for our president and no respect for our country.” The implication was evident. Things would be different once he settled into the White House and made America great again. Then — it was easy enough to conclude — China had better watch out.

Standard campaign bombast? Well, Trump hasn’t changed his tune a bit since being elected. On December 4th, using (of course!) his Twitter account, he blasted Beijing for having built “a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.” And it’s safe to assume that he signed off on Spicer’s combative comments as well.

In short, his administration has already drawn a red line — but in the way a petulant child might with a crayon. During and after the campaign he made much of his determination to regain the respect he claims the US has lost in the world, notably from adversaries like China. The danger here is that, in dealing with that country, Trump could, as is typical, make it all about himself, all about “winning,” one of his most beloved words, and disaster might follow.

Whose Islands?

A military clash between Trump-led America and a China led by President Xi Jinping? Understanding how it might happen requires a brief detour to the place where it’s most likely to occur: the South China Sea. Our first task: to understand China’s position on that body of water and the islands it contains, as well as the nature of Beijing’s military projects there. So brace yourself for some necessary detail.

As Marina Tsirbas, a former diplomat now at the Australian National University’s National Security College, explains, Beijing’s written and verbal statements on the South China Sea lend themselves to two different interpretations. The Chinese government’s position boils down to something like this: “We own everything — the waters, islands and reefs, marine resources, and energy and mineral deposits — within the Nine-Dash Line.” That demarcation line, which incidentally has had ten dashes, and sometimes eleven, originally appeared in 1947 maps of the Republic of China, the Nationalist government that would soon flee to the island of Taiwan leaving the Chinese Communists in charge of the mainland. When Mao Ze Dong and his associates established the People’s Republic, they retained that Nationalist map and the demarcation line that went with it, which just happened to enclose virtually all of the South China Sea, claiming sovereign rights.

This stance — think of it as Beijing’s hard line on the subject — raises instant questions about other countries’ navigation and overflight rights through that much-used region. In essence, do they have any and, if so, will Beijing alone be the one to define what those are? And will those definitions start to change as China becomes ever more powerful? These are hardly trivial concerns, given that about $5 trillion worth of goods pass through the South China Sea annually.

Then there’s what might be called Beijing’s softer line, based on rights accorded by the legal concepts of the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which took effect in 1994 and has been signed by 167 states (including China but not the United States), a country has sovereign control within 12 nautical miles of its coast as well as of land formations in that perimeter visible at high tide. But other countries have the right of “innocent passage.” The EEZ goes further. It provides a rightful claimant control over access to fishing, as well as seabed and subsoil natural resources, within “an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea” extending 200 nautical miles, while ensuring other states’ freedom of passage by air and sea. UNCLOS also gives a state with an EEZ control over “the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures” within that zone — an important provision at our present moment.

What makes all of this so much more complicated is that many of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea that provide the basis for defining China’s EEZ are also claimed by other countries under the terms of UNCLOS. That, of course, immediately raises questions about the legality of Beijing’s military construction projects in that watery expanse on islands, atolls, and strips of land it’s dredging into existence, as well as its claims to seabed energy resources, fishing rights, and land reclamation rights there — to say nothing about its willingness to seize some of them by force, rival claims be damned.

Moreover, figuring out which of these two positions — hard or soft — China embraces at any moment is tricky indeed. Beijing, for instance, insists that it upholds freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the Sea, but it has also said that these rights don’t apply to warships and military aircraft. In recent years its warplanes have intercepted, and at close quarters, American military aircraft flying outside Chinese territorial waters in the same region. Similarly, in 2015, Chinese aircraft and ships followed and issued warnings to an American warship off Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, which both China and Vietnam claim in their entirety. This past December, its Navy seized, but later returned, an underwater drone the American naval ship Bowditch had been operating near the coast of the Philippines.

There were similar incidents in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, and 2014. In the second of these episodes, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane, which had a crew of 24 on board, less than 70 miles off Hainan island, forcing it to make an emergency landing in China and creating a tense standoff between Beijing and Washington. The Chinese detained the crew for 11 days. They disassembled the EP-3, returning it three months later in pieces.

Such muscle flexing in the South China Sea isn’t new. China has long been tough on its weaker neighbors in those waters. Back in 1974, for instance, its forces ejected South Vietnamese troops from parts of the Paracel/Xisha islands that Beijing claimed but did not yet control. China has also backed up its claim to the Spratly/Nansha islands (which Taiwan, Vietnam, and other regional countries reject) with air and naval patrols, tough talk, and more. In 1988, it forcibly occupied the Vietnamese-controlled Johnson Reef, securing control over the first of what would eventually become seven possessions in the Spratlys.

Vietnam has not been the only Southeast Asian country to receive such rough treatment. China and the Philippines both claim ownership of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal/Huangyang Island, located 124 nautical miles off Luzon Island in the Philippines. In 2012, Beijing simply seized it, having already ejected Manila from Panganiban Reef (aka Mischief Reef), about 129 nautical miles from the Philippines’ Palawan Island, in . In 2016, when an international arbitration tribunal upheld Manila’s position on Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sniffed that “the decision is invalid and has no binding force.” Chinese president Xi Jinping added for good measure that China’s claims to the South China Sea stretched back to “ancient times.”

Then there’s China’s military construction work in the area, which includes the building of full-scale artificial islands, as well as harbors, military airfields, storage facilities, and hangars reinforced to protect military aircraft. In addition, the Chinese have installed radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-missile defense systems on some of these islands.

These, then, are the projects that the Trump administration says it will stop. But China’s conduct in the South China Sea leaves little doubt about its determination to hold onto what it has and continue its activities. The Chinese leadership has made this clear since Donald Trump’s election, and the state-run press has struck a similarly defiant note, drawing crude red lines of its own. For example, the Global Times, a nationalist newspaper, mocked Trump’s pretensions and issued a doomsday warning: “The US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”

Were the administration to follow its threatening talk with military action, the Global Times added ominously, “The two sides had better prepare for a military clash.” Although the Chinese leadership hasn’t been anywhere near as bombastic, top officials have made it clear that they won’t yield an inch on the South China Sea, that disputes over territories are matters for China and its neighbors to settle, and that Washington had best butt out.

True, as the acolytes of a “unipolar” world remind us, China’s military spending amounts to barely more than a quarter of Washington’s and US naval and air forces are far more advanced and lethal than their Chinese equivalents. However, although there certainly is a debate about the legal validity and historical accuracy of China’s territorial claims, given the increasingly acrimonious relationship between Washington and Beijing the more strategically salient point may be that these territories, thousands of miles from the US mainland, mean so much more to China than they do to the United States. By now, they are inextricably bound up with its national identity and pride, and with powerful historical and nationalistic memories — with, that is, a sense that, after nearly two centuries of humiliation at the hands of the West, China is now a rising global power that can no longer be pushed around.

Behind such sentiments lies steel. By buying some $30 billion in advanced Russian armaments since the early 1990s and developing the capacity to build advanced weaponry of its own, China has methodically acquired the military means, and devised a strategy, to inflict serious losses on the American navy in any clash in the South China Sea, where geography serves as its ally. Beijing may, in the end, lose a showdown there, but rest assured that it would exact a heavy price before that. What sort of “victory” would that be?

If the fighting starts, it will be tough for the presidents of either country to back down. Xi Jinping, like Trump, presents himself as a tough guy, sure to trounce his enemies at home and abroad. Retaining that image requires that he not bend when it comes to defending China’s land and honor. He faces another problem as well. Nationalism long ago sidelined Maoism in his country. As a result, were he and his colleagues to appear pusillanimous in the face of a Trumpian challenge, they would risk losing their legitimacy and potentially bringing their people onto the streets (something that can happen quickly in the age of social media). That’s a particularly forbidding thought in what is arguably the most rebellious land in the historical record. In such circumstances, the leadership’s abiding conviction that it can calibrate the public’s nationalism to serve the Communist Party’s purposes without letting it get out of hand may prove delusional.

Certainly, the Party understands the danger that runaway nationalism could pose to its authority. Its paper, the People’s Daily, condemned the “irrational patriotism” that manifested itself in social media forums and street protests after the recent international tribunal’s verdict favoring the Philippines. And that’s hardly the first time a foreign policy fracas has excited public passions. Think, for example, of the anti-Japanese demonstrations that swept the country in 2005, provoked by Japanese school textbooks that sanitized that country’s World War II-era atrocities in China. Those protests spread to many cities, and the numbers were sizeable with more than 10,000 angry demonstrators on the streets of Shanghai alone. At first, the leadership encouraged the rallies, but it got nervous as things started to spin out of control.

“We’re Going to War in the South China Sea…”

Facing off against China, President Trump could find himself in a similar predicament, having so emphasized his toughness, his determination to regain America’s lost respect and make the country great again. The bigger problem, however, will undoubtedly be his own narcissism and his obsession with winning, not to mention his inability to resist sending incendiary messages via Twitter. Just try to imagine for a moment how a president who blows his stack during a getting-to-know-you phone call with the prime minister of Australia, a close ally, is likely to conduct himself in a confrontation with a country he’s labeled a prime adversary.

In the event of a military crisis between China and the United States, neither side may want an escalation, to say nothing of a nuclear war. Yet Trump’s threats to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese exports to the US and his repeated condemnation of China as a “currency manipulator” and stealer of American jobs have already produced a poisonous atmosphere between the world’s two most powerful countries. And it was made worse by his December phone conversation with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, which created doubts about his commitment to the One China policy the United States has adhered to since 1972. The Chinese authorities apparently made it clear to the White House that there couldn’t even be a first-time phone call to Xi unless the new president agreed to stick with that policy. During a conversation with the Chinese president on February 9th, Trump reportedly provided that essential assurance. Given the new American president’s volatility, however, Beijing will be playing close attention to his words and actions, even his symbolic ones, related to Taiwan.

Sooner or later, if Trump doesn’t also dial down the rest of his rhetoric on China, its leaders will surely ratchet up theirs, thereby aggravating the situation further. So far, they’ve restrained themselves in order to figure Trump out — not an easy task even for Americans — and in hopes that his present way of dealing with the world might be replaced with something more conventional and recognizable. Hope, as they say, springs eternal, but as of now, in repeatedly insisting that China must do as he says, Trump and his surrogates have inserted themselves and the country into a complicated territorial dispute far from America’s shores. The hubris of Washington acting as the keeper of world order, but regularly breaking the rules as it wishes, whether by invading Iraq in 2003 or making open use of torture and a global network of secret prisons, is an aspect of American behavior long obvious to foreign powers. It looks to be the essence of Trumpism, too, even if its roots are old indeed.

Don’t dismiss the importance of heated exchanges between Washington and Beijing in the wake of Trump’s election. The political atmosphere between rival powers, especially those with massive arsenals, can matter a great deal when they face off in a crisis. Pernicious stereotypes and mutual mistrust only increase the odds that crucial information will be misinterpreted in the heat of the moment because of entrenched beliefs that are immune to contrary evidence, misperceptions, worst-case calculations, and up-the-ante reactions. In academic jargon, these constitute the ingredients for a classic conflict spiral. In such a situation, events take control of leaders, producing outcomes that none of them sought. Not for nothing during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 did President John Kennedy look to Barbara Tuchman’s book, Guns of August — a gripping account of how Europe slipped and slid into a disastrous world war in 1914.

There has been lots of anxiety about the malign effects that Donald Trump’s temperament and beliefs could have domestically, and for good reason. But in domestic politics, institutions and laws, civic organizations, the press, and public protests can serve, however imperfectly, as countervailing forces. In international politics, crises can erupt suddenly and unfold rapidly — and the checks on rash behavior by American presidents are much weaker. They have considerable leeway to use military force (having repeatedly circumvented the War Powers Act). They can manipulate public opinion from the Bully Pulpit and shape the flow of information. (Think back to the Iraq war.) Congress typically rallies reflexively around the flag during international crises. In such moments, citizens’ criticism or mass protest invites charges of disloyalty.

This is why the brewing conflict in the South China Sea and rising animosities on both sides could produce something resembling a Cuban-Missile-Crisis-style situation — with the United States lacking the geographical advantage this time around. If you think that a war between China and the United States couldn’t possibly happen, you might have a point in ordinary times, which these distinctly aren’t.

Take the latest news on Stephen Bannon, formerly the executive chairman of the alt-right publication Breitbart News and now President Trump’s chief political strategist. He has even been granted the right to sit in on every meeting of the National Security Council and its Principals Committee, the highest inter-agency forum for day-to-day national security deliberations. He will be privy to meetings that, according to a directive signed by Trump, even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence may not join unless “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise will be discussed.” Calling this a break with past practice would be an understatement of the first order.

So Bannon’s views, once of interest only to a fringe group of Americans, now matter greatly. Here’s what he said last March about China in a radio interview: “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we? There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”

Think of this as Bannon’s version of apocalyptic prophecy. Then consider the volatility of the new president he advises. Then focus on the larger message: these are not ordinary times. Most Americans probably don’t even know that there is a South China Sea. Count on one thing, though: they will soon.

Posted in USA, China0 Comments

Maqbool Bhat: The Initiator of the Kashmir’s Struggle

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Image result for Kashmir’s Struggle CARTOON

By Sajjad Shaukat

In order to pay homage to the initiator of the Kashmir’s struggle, the 11th of February is being

celebrated as the martyrdom anniversary of Maqbool Bhat who was hanged by the then Indian

regime on February 11, 1984 in Tihar Jail as the reprisal expressed by New Delhi. He was

hanged to take the revenge of the killing of an Indian Diplomat by some unknown organization

claiming to be Kashmiri. It was an act of shame for a country called India, as even after his

death, his body was not handed over to his family and people, rather buried in Tihar Jail

complex.

People and civil society of Jammu and Kashmir do respect him for his legendary struggle for the

restoration of freedom in Kashmir. He is now a hero and pioneer of the Kashmiri nation.

So as to pay tribute to Maqbool Bhat, People of Srinagar have already built and reserve a grave

for him in Martyrs Grave Yard of Eidgah, Srinagar. However, his formal burial is still awaited.

Maqbool Bhat, also known as Maqbool Butt was a Kashmiri freedom fighter and co-founder of

the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. He was a leading voice of the struggle for freedom among

the Kashmiris. In the year of 1962, Maqbool Bhat formed a movement called Kashmir

Independence Committee (KIC). This group was later merged into the newly formed Jammu

Kashmir Mahaz-Rayee- Shumari (Plebiscite Front) in Azad Kashmir, which was a crusade for

complete independence from India. He was sentenced to death for murder by the Delhi High

Court and hanged on 11 February 1984.

Prior to the publication of ‘Shaoor e Farda’ (the vision of tomorrow) by Saeed Asad and Safeer e

Hurriyat ( the ambassador of liberation) by Khawaja Rafiq, there was little known about the

events which shaped Maqbool Bhat’s life, struggle and Political thoughts. It appears from his

letters written from various Pakistani and Indian prisons and interviews with various journalists

at different times that life became a struggle from the age when children needed to be carefree

and playing with their peers and toys.

His politics came into conflict with the state machinery of the Indian occupied Kashmir when he

led several agitations for the political rights of the people of Kashmir. Subsequently, as it appears

from his interviews and Rafiq’s narration confirmed by some his colleagues, he went

underground and then in 1958 crossed over to Pakistan along with his uncle.

Maqbool Bhat got admission in Peshawar University to do Urdu Literature and joined a local

newspaper ‘Anjaam’ to earn living. At Peshawar University, he met such people as Ahmed

Fraaz, one of the big legends of romantic and radical or commonly called progressive Urdu

poetry.

However, Maqbool Bhat formed Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF) on August

13, 1965. Maqbool Bhat, Aurangzeb, Major Amaan Ulla and Kala Khan crossed the division line

to the Indian-held Kashmr in June 1966. The purpose was to explore the feelings of Kashmiris

there with the possibilities of forming some ‘cells’ there. It appears from the writings of such

activists as F. Rehman who was among those contacted during the three-month tour of NLF

guerrillas in different towns and cities that they managed to convince some people for national

liberation type of armed struggle as the only way to liberate Kashmir.

Most of the Kashmiri record on the history of NLF and Maqbool Bhat shows that on their way

back, they were intercepted by the Indian intelligence agencies and in a clash with one of the

security teams Aurangzeb, who was from Gilgit, and the CID inspector Amar Chand was left

dead. Maqbool Bhat and Kala Khan were arrested on September 14, September 1966.

Two First Information Reports were registered against Maqbool Bhat. The first one lodged at

Police Station Sopore, Kashmir (F.I.R. 84/66) alleged that he crossed the ceasefire line without a

valid legal permit with an illegal purpose to overthrow the lawfully established government of

Jammu and Kashmir.

The second F.I.R. filed at Police Station Panzala, Kashmir (F.I.R. 38/66) charged Maqbool Bhat

with the murder of Amar Chand. It alleged that Bhat and accomplices first took cash; ornaments

and other documents from C.I.D. Inspector Amar Chand’s house then abducted and killed Amar.

He was also charged with the enemy agent.

In his defence Maqbool Bhat denied all charges except that he had without a valid legal permit

crossed the ceasefire line in June 1966. He said that he did not think it necessary to obtain a

permit for moving around in his own country.

The biased Indian court found him guilty and passed death sentenced on him, while others were

given the life sentence. It is also reported that upon announcement of the death sentence by

Judge Neil Kant Ganjo Maqbool Bhat said, “The Rope has not yet been made that can hang

Maqbool Bhat…if Indian authorities of occupation think that by hanging me, they can crush the

Kashmir struggle. They are mistaken. The struggle actually will start after my hanging.”

Nevertheless, Bhat’s execution further contributed to the sense of alienation among most

Kashmiris, and he continues to be a major source of inspiration for the Kahmiri freedom fighters.

Bhat, like Afzal, was buried inside Tihar Jail. Kashmiri activists continue to demand Maqbool

Bhat’s remains, and in fact, a grave is kept vacant in Srinagar’s martyrs’ graveyard for his mortal

remains. He was the first Kashmiri to be judicially murdered on Indian soil-making him the first

authentic martyr of the Kashmiri independence movement. His execution day is celebrated as

Martyr Day every year.

By sacrificing his life, Maqbool Bhat played a key role in the struggle of Kashmiris, which has

continued unabated, despite Indian state terrorism. He infused a new spirit into their movement.

His martyrdom anniversary provides an opportunity to ponder over the fact that various countries

of the world got independence by sacrificing their precious lives. On this vary day, the best way

to pay homage to the pioneer of Kashmir’s struggle, Maqbool Bhat is that all the Kashmiris must

renew their pledge to take the war of liberation to its logical end.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Extremely High Radiation Breaks down Fukushima “Clean-Up Robot” at Damaged Nuclear Reactor

NOVANEWS
 
Fukushima-Japan-Nuclear-Radiation-Disaster

A clean-up mission using a remotely operated robot at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has had to be aborted, as officials feared they could completely lose control of the probe affected by unexpectedly high levels of radiation.

The robot equipped with a high-pressure water pump and a camera designed to withstand up to 1,000 Sieverts of cumulative exposure had been pulled off the inactive Reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex earlier this week, The Japan Times reported Friday, citing the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The device reportedly broke down just two hour into the probe.

The failure led experts to rethink estimated levels of radiation inside the damaged reactor.

While last week TEPCO said it might stand at 530 Sieverts per hour – a dose that can almost instantly kill a human being, following the latest aborted mission a company official has said a reading of up to 600 Sieverts should be “basically correct.”

Even despite the considerable 30-percent margin of error for the revised estimate, the latest probe left no doubt that radiation levels are at record highs within the reactor. Even though it cannot be measured directly with a Geiger counter or dosimeter, the dose is calculated by its effect on the equipment.

Last month, a hole of no less than one square meter in size was discovered beneath the same reactor’s pressure vessel. The apparent opening in the metal grating is believed to have been caused by melted nuclear fuel, TEPCO then said.

The recent mission has demonstrated that the melted fuel is close to the studied area.

While extreme radiation levels have been registered within the reactor, officials insist that no leaks or increases outside have been detected.

The failure might force Japan to rethink the robot-based strategy it has adopted for locating melted fuel at Fukushima, according to The Japan Times.

The robot affected by radiation was supposed to wash off thick layers of dirt and other wreckage, clearing ways for another remotely controlled probe to enter the area, tasked with carrying out a more proper investigation to assess the state of the damaged nuclear reactor. Previously, even specially-made robots designed to probe the underwater depths beneath the power plant have crumbled and shut down affected by the radioactive substance inside the reactor.

Fukushima reactor’s radiation levels killed a cleaning robot http://engt.co/2kc1fPu 

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the Fukushima nuclear disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986. TEPCO is so far in the early stages of assessing the damage, with the decommissioning of the nuclear facility expected to take decades.

Posted in Japan0 Comments

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