Archive | Asia

South Korea’s impeached President planned violent regime change for Pyongyang

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By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

A recent report from the Japanese outlet Asahi Shimbun appears to confirm a hypothesis recently published in The Duran that America’s recent fervor over North Korea has a great deal to do with the internal politics of South Korea, more so in many cases than it has to do with events in the DPRK (North Korea).

Impeached former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was known to be an avidly right-wing, anti-North Korean, militant leader. It was under her now disgraced leadership that South Korea agreed to house America’s THAAD missiles, a move that remains deeply unpopular among millions of South Korean citizens.

Now, Asahi Shimbun claims to have obtained documents from South Korea indicating that former President Park Geun-hye signed a document authorizing violent regime change in Pyongyang.

According to the report seen by the Japanese national newspaper, the Park regime was considering attempts at arranging deadly car accidents or train wrecks in order to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Attempts at fomenting a violent coup in North Korea were also considered.

In light of these revelations, it is no wonder that North Korea has taken precautionary measures to defend its sovereignty against these violent threats of illegal regime change from its heavily armed and economically powerful neighbor.

According to the Japanese source, these plans have been taken firmly off the table by President Moon Jae-in, a man who is generally far more peace minded than his deeply militant predecessor.

America’s most bellicose posturing against Pyongyang came in the month prior to the South Korean special Presidential election which saw the peace minded Moon come to power in early May of 2017.

Although America still offers harsh rhetoric on all matters pertaining to North Korea, it was after the election of President Moon that America’s most violent rhetoric seemed to give way to talk of working with international partners including and especially China in order to resolve concerns over North Korea without the threat of military engagement.

These revelations which appear to be credible, demonstrate that Washington’s actions in respect of North Korea have as much to do with the developments in Seoul as they do with developments elsewhere.

READ MORE:

South Korea’s new President may turn to peace

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Taliban says foreign troops must go before peace talks as US plans 4,000-strong surge

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In an annual address to followers, the Taliban’s leader warned against sending additional foreign troops to Afghanistan, saying that only after all foreign soldiers leave can peace be negotiated.

Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah spoke on Friday on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr festival, which ends the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. He reiterated that Afghanistan must be free of foreign occupation.

“The occupation is the main obstacle in the way of peace,” he said, referring to the presence of NATO troops in the country.

“The more they insist on maintaining the presence of their forces here or want a surge of their forces, the more regional sensitivity against them will intensify,” he added.

The remark apparently refers to reported US plans to deploy 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to support its crumbling national army. The majority of the force would be used in train and assist missions, but some would be involved in counterinsurgency operations, according to AP.

Akhunzadah insisted that peace negotiations with the government in Kabul would only be possible after “the occupation comes to an end,” adding that a “completely independent” Afghanistan would live under an Islamic law and distance itself from foreign players, neither supporting them nor allowing their interference.

“We don’t permit others to use the soil of Afghanistan against anyone,” he said.

He also urged Taliban fighters to avoid civilian casualties in their attacks on government forces.

The call comes a day after a truck bomb attack on a bank in Helmand province in which 34 people were killed, according to Afghan officials.

On one of its Twitter accounts, the Taliban claimed credit for the suicide bombing in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, saying it had killed 73 members of the security forces, a figure that conflicts with the official report. Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, acknowledged that there were police officers and national army soldiers among the victims, but insisted the majority of them were civilians, who wanted to withdraw money for Eid al-Fitr celebration.

The Taliban leader also boasted that the movement is winning more respect from “mainstream entities of the world.” The apparent attempt to bolster Taliban credibility came amid competition from rival extremist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which has been winning allegiance of some armed groups previously loyal to the Taliban.

Some nations, including Russia and China, voiced concern with IS gaining a foothold in Afghanistan.

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China may finance Russia’s natural gas pipeline to Europe

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Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline may get Chinese financing if European companies are forced out of the project by the latest round of US sanctions, business daily Vedomosti reports.

Russian officials have already contacted Chinese banks, sources have told the media.

“Nord Stream 2 has a good rate of return and low risks for creditors. Chinese banks may be interested,” explains Aleksey Grivach, deputy CEO at Russia’s National Energy Security Fund.

The extension will double the existing pipeline which delivers natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea and is estimated to cost €9.5 billion.

Initially, Engie, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall were to get a 50 percent stake minus one share in Nord Stream 2. However, red tape at the European Commission made Gazprom and its partners come up with another financing option. Under this plan, European companies will each provide an equal long-term loan to Gazprom, which will fully own the pipeline.

Financing of Nord Stream 2 may be affected by new US sanctions which target firms investing in Russian gas and oil projects. According to the new bill passed by the US Senate, and currently, before the House of Representatives, companies will be forbidden from making investments of over $1 million in the Russian energy sector.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Beurden. Among other things, they discussed Nord Stream 2. Van Beurden told Interfax the new project “will be realized for the benefit of all parties – both Europeans and the Russian Federation.”

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Syria, Iran and N. Korea: Will Trump Attempt to Finish the Neocon Hitlist?

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By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook 

In Donald Trump’s short time in office, he has already shown his propensity to use military force. From dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used on Afghanistan, to launching 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraq (oh wait, Syria), there is no doubt that the Trump administration has a prominent militaristic streak. 

But is this just for starters? If Trump stays in power for the duration of his term, is there a major war, or even multiple wars, on the horizon? Judging by the rhetoric and actions already taken by the Trump administration, it will be a miracle if the US does not start a major war in the near future. Coincidentally, the main countries in the sights of the Trump administration just happen to be the three countries that the neoconservatives pinpointed for regime change 17 years ago, but have not yet been dealt with.

1997 marked the birth of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank of catastrophic proportions. It was founded by William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard, who also served as the chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, and Robert Kagan, a former State Department official who is now a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. A long list of neocons belonged to the group, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

PNAC’s stated objectives included the desire to “shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests,” “increase defense spending significantly,” and challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values.” In September 2000, the PNAC group released a report titled: Rebuilding America’s Defenses – Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.’ The introduction to the report clearly expressed PNAC’s desire to maintain US supremacy in the world:

At present, the United States faces no global rival.  America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possiblePreserving the desirable strategic situation in which the United States now finds itself requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future.” 

In order to maintain this supremacy, the report called for the Defense Department to be at the forefront of experimenting with transformative technologies, a move that would require a dramatic increase in defense spending.

Curiously, the report – published one year prior to 9/11 – argued that this transformation would likely be a “long one” unless an event on the scale of “Pearl Harbor” occurred:

“To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades, the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs… The effects of this military transformation will have profound implications for how wars are fought, what kinds of weapons will dominate the battlefield and, inevitably, which nations enjoy military preeminence…

The Pentagon [however], constrained by limited budgets and pressing current missions, has seen funding for experimentation and transformation crowded out in recent years.  Spending on military research and development has been reduced dramatically over the past decade… Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets… The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” (p.50-p.51).

Under the guise of missile capability, the report then pinpointed five countries that the neocons, in conjunction with the CIA, considered “deeply hostile” to the US:

“Ever since the Persian Gulf War of 1991… the value of the ballistic missile has been clear to America’s adversaries. When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent, regardless of the balance of conventional forces.  That is why, according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – ‘already have or are developing ballistic missiles’ that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad. And one, North Korea, is on the verge of deploying missiles that can hit the American homeland.  Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace” (p.51-p.52).

This report was published approximately three years prior to the invasion of Iraq, and approximately 11 years prior to both the war in Libya and the start of the proxy war in Syria. The central point I am getting at here is that the wars we have seen unfold, and the wars to come, are not just short-term actions taken by the administration who happens to be in power at that particular time. They are planned years and sometimes decades prior to the first shot being fired. Regardless of which party the President belongs to – George Bush invaded Iraq with a blue tie on, whilst Barack Obama bombed Libya with a red one on – the same regime-change-agenda continues.

Two Down, Three to Go

Although there were other reports that marked more countries that the neocons considered ‘hostile’ to the US, or more accurately, hostile to US (Western) imperial ambitions, the September 2000 report focused on five countries. With Iraq and Libya already ‘liberated,’ three countries are still on the hitlist: Syria, Iran and North Korea. Coincidentally (or not), these are some of the main countries that the Trump administration is targeting, and we are only a few months into Trump’s reign.

 Syria: Trump has already bombed Syrian government forces – or forces fighting on the side of the Syrian government – on multiple occasions since being elected. After Trump bombed Syria back in April, both Kagan and Kristol praised him, yet demanded more blood. Even though they claimed not to be major supporters of Trump during the campaign, many Bush-era hawks were – including Rumsfeld, the former Defense Secretary. The Trump administration has also admitted sending hundreds of US troops – which includes Marines – into Syria, officially in order to fight against ISIS (through training and advising rebel forces), yet it’s clear the move has as much to do with the Syrian and Iranian governments than anything else.  

Iran: Throughout Trump’s campaign for the White House, he repeatedly criticized both Iran and North Korea. Trump has always been a severe critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, and a loyal supporter of the state of Israel, meaning war with Iran seems more probable that not. In fact, Iran has claimed that Trump and Saudi Arabia are behind the recent terror attacks in Tehran, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump took the opportunity to take another jab at Iran. In February, the US Defence Secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, called Iran the “biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” completely ignoring the role Saudi Arabia plays in exporting terrorism. It appears as though the Trump administration is in the process of deciding which path to Persia it thinks is going to be the most effective.

North Korea: In relation to North Korea, the Trump administration has essentially backed the country into a corner, producing the obvious response from North Korea: an (attempted) show of strength. A country that the US carpet bombed during the Korean war – which included using napalm – it hardly seems likely that North Korea is just going to give in to US threats, considering the resentment many in the country still feel towards America.

This is not a defense of North Korea, but the Trump administration making one provocative statement after another has hardly reduced tensions in the region.  In March, Mattissaid that “reckless” North Korea has “got to be stopped.” The following month, Trump said North Korea is a problem that “will be taken care of.” Although Mattis has acknowledged that a conflict with North Korea would be “catastrophic,” the Trump administration appears to be willing to ratchet up tensions regardless.

In contrast, both Russia and China have emphasised that dialogue and diplomacy trump threats. Speaking in May, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said that “we have to stop intimidating North Korea” and “return to dialogue” with them, after affirming that Russia “is against expanding the pool of nuclear powers, including North Korea.” Also in May, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for the US and North Korea to “stop irritating each other,” and advocated “dialogue and negotiation.”

It also important to note that the North Korean issue is really about a lot more than just North Korea. As Paul Craig Roberts has highlighted, the North Korean ‘crisis’ has everything to do with Russia and China. Similar to how the US used the Iranian ‘threat’ to put anti-ballistic missile systems close to Russia’s borders, the North Korean crisis can be used to deploy anti-ballistic missiles systems next to the eastern borders of Russia and China. In a positive development however, the South Korean government has just announced (at the time of writing anyway) that it will halt the deployment of the US anti-ballistic missile system – known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) – on its territory for potentially up to a year, citing environmental concerns.

If the Trump administration and the neocons are actually reckless enough to try and force regime change in all three countries in the near future, this brings the US into direct confrontation with both Russia and China. And if a hot war between these three nuclear powers erupts, this would mark the end of human civilization as we know it.

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The Drone War: Understanding Who Must Die From Above

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Photo by Debra Sweet | CC BY 2.0

In late October of 2016, I took a break from reading for my various social science courses to work for a couple of hours at my work-study job at the Vassar College Athletics Communications Office. On this particular day, I had to provide commentary and audio for a video stream of the game which is played live online, largely for parents and family members of the players. At halftime, the parents of someone on the team approached my boss to talk, and in this conversation, one parent casually commented that the other loved to watch their child play while in their office at General Atomics. General Atomics, the defense contracting company which, among other things, manufactures the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper, the two most-used military drones.

This chance meeting with a General Atomics employee speaks to the larger context of drone warfare as well as the logics behind it. This person could, through a video image and the sound of my voice, be transported from an office in California to a sports field 3,000 miles away. At the same time, General Atomics was producing and selling military drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the U.S. military to be used in locations across the world, thousands of miles away, while being controlled remotely in places such as Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

In the context of the game stream, one is completely aware of the rules of the contest and the bounds of play, the participants are numbered and their names are listed, they are in uniform, and their actions are occurring within a clear set of guidelines and norms. No one is trying to speculate on the loves, hates, future plans, or deep-seeded beliefs of players based on the footage. Further, the contest is projected with my description and the assistance of statistics and information provided by a team of people there, who know the athletes, and the coaches, and can hear and see close up what is occurring. In the other context, the U.S. military takes control over decisions of life and death in places they do not and cannot understand, making decisions based on their understandings of patterns of life and metadata from thousands of feet in the air. There are not rules to what they are seeing, there are no uniforms, and there is rarely information in any fashion from people who are physically present. Instead, it is just the video, being watched from thousands of miles away, as people are targeted for death.

How do we begin to understand an outlook where an un-narrated stream of a sporting event would be self-explanatorily difficult to understand, but similar video footage gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles is sufficient to understand who below must die? The perceptions and lenses that enable this outlook must be picked apart in order to comprehend (and begin to resist) the pull of drone warfare.

Drone-use has become the United States’ preferred way of waging war. Unmanned aerial vehicles are piloted remotely from thousands of miles away providing both surveillance in near-constant streams, and the ability to drop bombs. Through this new means of violence, Americans are not vulnerable, and are instead separated physically from the violence and death. The U.S. drone campaign is waged almost entirely in secret and without the hindrance of laws, international or domestic. The U.S. Executive and the various military and intelligence agencies involved are able to forward the drone war with unilateral power, with U.S. sovereignty extending globally.

In a short time in early 2016, the United States “deployed remotely piloted aircraft to carry out deadly attacks in six countries across Central and South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, and it announced that it had expanded its capacity to carry out attacks in a seventh,” the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer explains. Drone bombs kill people not only in “hot war zones” like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but also in Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Pakistan.

A myriad of ethical and moral problems arise in the face of this new way of killing engaged in the United States. The dominant institutional justification for drone-use, as outlined by former President Barack Obama and others involved, asserts that the strikes of drones are safer, smarter, more efficient, more accurate, and cost less lives (American and otherwise) than the methods used in traditional warfare.  They are the civilized way of waging war. Over the course of his eight years in office, Obama repeatedly asserted that he was not “opposed to all war” but instead “opposed to dumb wars,” one of which being the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. He contrasted drone-use with “conventional airpower or missiles” and “invasions of these territories” saying that drones are more precise, cause less civilian casualties, and do not “unleash a torrent of unintended consequences” such as causing people to see the U.S. as an invading and occupying force.

However, an engagement with the realities of drone warfare proves these notions to be false. Instead of being ethical, drone-use has unleashed an often indiscriminate volley of bombs on thousands of people in many countries, and drone violence has become a go-to answer to the problem of American existential fear of terrorism.

This is displayed in the continuous and repeated failure of unmanned aerial vehicles and their operators to differentiate friend from foe, supposed-target from civilian. The lack of capacity (or care) to discriminate between people is repeatedly seen, whether it be in the 2011 murder of a Yemeni governor, the first Obama approved Yemeni strike which killed 14 women and 21 children, the first drone attack in Pakistan which left two children dead, the 2013 bombing of 12 Yemeni people in a wedding party, or the murder of American teenager Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi while failing to kill the bomb’s target.

We are left in a present where the call for this somehow ‘ethical’ way of war becomes more and more enticing and normalized as the drone war rages on in the early days of the administration of Donald Trump with no end in sight.

The faith in powerful institutions and U.S. technological ability that enables the view of drones as ethical, as demonstrated by the General Atomics employee, is clearly astronomical. This discourse doesn’t just enable an acceptance of the usage of drones, but an acceptance based on the claim that drones do not kill people but save lives. The new biopolitical and theopolitical sovereignty seen in U.S. drone-use is vulnerable because drones are constantly making mistakes. This is evidence of the incredible strength of the perception of U.S. sovereignty as all-moral and all-knowing, the belief in drone technology as mythically powerful, and the Orientalist view of people in the Middle East and Africa.

However, the indefensible imperial reality of drone violence also reveals that if these produced narratives are weakened, a different understanding of the drone war may emerge. This view could be one that elicits horror, shame, and revulsion, as well as profound fear of the state. But it could also be purposed to weaken the state apparatus that wage drone warfare.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Afghanistan, Pakistan & Kashmir, Somalia, Yemen0 Comments

The beautiful side to North Korea

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The beautiful side to North Korea: Photographer claims Kim’s communist enclave is ‘extremely clean’ and an ‘exotic destination’ we should all visit

As tensions between North Korea and the United States continue to escalate, a Malaysian photographer has encouraged others to visit by releasing photos he took while traveling to the country.

In the images, North Korean residents can be seen going about their daily business in town squares and train stations while children listen to street performers.

Other pictures show the capital Pyongyang illuminated at night with skyscrapers stretched across the city, as well as temples and countryside landscapes.

Photographer Reuben Teo, 31, from Sarawak, Malaysia, took the photos on a trip to the country last month.

Mr Teo was only told not to photograph military, military checkpoints and construction while in the country, and believes his pictures show a different side to North Korea than how it is usually portrayed in the media.

‘The country is also extremely clean and I can honestly tell you that it sits next just to Japan in terms of cleanliness. Put North Korea in your list of exotic destinations to visit,’ Mr Teo said.

North Korea, meanwhile, says it is continuing to test new missiles that could attack enemy warships.

The country has tested four missile systems year alone, sending a defiant message to its enemies that it will continue to pursue a weapons program that has rattled its neighbors and Washington.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the launches, according to the official Korean Central News Agency, which said the missiles ‘accurately detected and hit’ floating targets at sea after making ‘circular flights’.

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The Betrayal of India: A Close Look at the 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks

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Book review of “The Betrayal of India: Revisiting the 26/11 Evidence” by Elias Davidsson
 

These days we rush from one media story to another, trying to keep up with the latest terrorist attack. Yesterday Paris; today London; tomorrow, who knows? These attacks are tragic enough when they are acts of violence by religious extremists who have outsmarted our police and intelligence agencies. But, of course, many of them are actually violent acts facilitated by our police and intelligence agencies, directly or indirectly. The tragedy in such cases lies not only in the immediate human suffering but in the way our civil society and elected representatives are betrayed, intimidated, disciplined and stripped of their power by our own security agencies. The War on Terror, which goes by different names in different countries but continues as a global framework for violent conflict, thrives on this fraud.

But if the very agencies that should be investigating and preventing these attacks are involved in perpetrating them, what is civil society to do to protect itself? Who will step in to study the evidence and sort out what really happened? And who will investigate the official investigators? Over the years, civilians from different walks of life have stepped forward–forming groups, sharing information and methods, creating a tradition of civilian investigation.

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One such investigator is Elias Davidsson (image on the right). Some readers will be familiar with his meticulous book, Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11 or his more recent work, Psychologische Kriegsführung und gesellschaftliche Leugnung. Davidsson has now produced a book on the 2008 attacks that occurred in Mumbai, India. The book is entitled, The Betrayal of India: Revisiting the 26/11 Evidence (New Delhi: Pharos, 2017).

To remind ourselves of these attacks–that is, of the official story of these attacks as narrated by the Indian government–we can do no better than to consult Wikipedia, which seldom strays from government intelligence narratives:

“The 2008 Mumbai attacks were a series of attacks that took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organization based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday, 26 November and lasted until Saturday, 29 November 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.”

This description, however faulty, serves to make clear why the events were widely portrayed as a huge crime—India’s 9/11. When we bear in mind that both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons, and when we consider that these events were widely characterized in India as an act of war supported by Pakistan (Davidsson, 72-74; 511 ff.; 731 ff.), we will understand how dangerous the event was for over a billion and a half people in south Asia.

We will also understand how easy it was, on the basis of such a narrative, to get a bonanza of funds and equipment for the Mumbai police (735-736) and why it was possible, given the framing of the event as an act of war, for India’s armed forces to get an immediate 21% hike in military spending with promises of continuing increases in subsequent years (739 ff.).

Wikipedia’s paragraph tells a straightforward story, but the straightforwardness is the result of much snipping and smoothing. Both Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba denied responsibility for the attacks (65; 513) and, Davidsson argues, they did so for good reason.

In his Conclusions at the end of the book Davidsson encourages us to assess separately the actual attacks and the Indian state’s investigation of the attacks (865 ff.) It is “highly plausible,” he says, “that major institutional actors in India, the United States and possibly Israel, were complicit in conceiving, planning, directing and executing the attacks of 26/11” (873); but the evidence of a deceptive investigation is even stronger:

“The first definite conclusion of this book is that India’s major institutions, including the Central government, parliament, bureaucracy, armed forces, Mumbai police, intelligence services, judiciary and media, have deliberately suppressed the truth regarding 26/11 and continue to do so. I could discover no hint of a desire among the aforementioned parties to establish the truth on these deadly events (865).”

This distinction is useful for civil society investigators. We will frequently find it easier to prove that an investigation is deceptive, and that it is obscuring rather than illuminating the path to the perpetrators, than to directly prove the event itself to have been fraudulent. And there are two good reasons to pay attention to evidence of a cover-up. First, to cover up a crime is itself a crime. Second, those covering up a crime implicate themselves in the original crime. If they were not directly involved in the commission of the crime, they are at least accessories after the fact. To begin by exposing the fraudulent investigation, therefore, will often be wise. When this has been done we shall often find that we can begin to discern the path to the attack itself.

Davidsson gives a wealth of evidence about both the attacks and the investigation, but for this brief review I shall focus on the investigation.

Here are three recurring themes in his study that may serve to illustrate the strength  of the cover-up thesis.

(1) Immediate fingering of the perpetrator

When officials claim to know the identity of a perpetrator (individual or group) prior to any serious investigation, this suggests that a false narrative is being initiated and that strenuous efforts will soon be made to implant it in the mind of a population. Thus, for example, Lee Harvey Oswald was identified by officials of the executive branch as the killer of President John F. Kennedy–and as a lone wolf with no associates–on the afternoon of the assassination day, long before an investigation and even before he had been charged with the crime. And we had major news media pointing with confidence, by the end of the day of September 11, 2001, to Osama bin Laden and his group–in the absence of evidence.

In the Mumbai case the Prime Minister of India implied, while the attack was still in progress, that the perpetrators were from a terrorist group supported by, or at least tolerated by, Pakistan (65; 228; 478; 512; 731).

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The Taj Mahal Hotel burning after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Source: Haunted India)

Likewise, immediately after the attacks Henry Kissinger attempted to implicate Pakistan. Three days prior to the attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, one of the main attack sites, Kissinger had been staying in the hotel. He “sat with top executives from Goldman Sachs and India’s Tata group in the Taj to ‘chat about American politics’” (331). Kissinger’s presence on the scene with Indian elites (the Tata family is one of India’s wealthiest, and the Tata Group owns the Taj) would be peculiar enough to cause raising of the eyebrows, but when combined with his immediate fingering of Pakistan it becomes extremely suspect. As Davidsson shows, what investigation there was came much later, and even today the case against Pakistan remains full of contradictions, unsupported allegations, and absurdities.

(2) Grotesque failure by official investigators to follow proper procedures

Incompetence is a fact of life, but there are times when the incompetence theory is strained to the breaking point and it is more rational to posit deliberate deception.  In the case of the Mumbai investigation, Davidsson depicts its failures as going well beyond incompetence.

  • Neither the police, nor the judge charged with trying the sole surviving suspect, made public a timeline of events (188-189; 688-689). Even the most basic facts of when a given set of attacks began and when they ended were left vague.
  • Key witnesses were not called to testify. Witnesses who said they saw the terrorists commit violence, or spoke to them, or were in the same room with them, were ignored by the court (e.g., 279 ff.).
  • Contradictions and miracles were not sorted out. One victim was apparently resurrected from the dead when his testimony was essential to the blaming of Pakistan (229-230). A second victim died in two different places (692), while a third died in three places (466). No one in authority cared enough to solve these difficulties.
  • Eyewitnesses to the crime differed on the clothing and skin color of the terrorists, and on how many of them there were (328-331). No resolution was sought.
  • At least one eyewitness confessed she found it hard to distinguish “friends” from terrorists (316). No probe was stimulated by this odd confusion.
  • The number of terrorists who committed the deeds changed repeatedly, as did the number of terrorists who survived (29 ff.; 689).
  • Crime scenes were violated, with bodies hauled off before they could be examined (682-683).
  • Identity parades (“line-ups”) were rendered invalid by weeks of prior exposure of the witnesses to pictures of the suspect in newspapers (101; 582).
  • Claims that the terrorists were armed with AK-47s were common, yet forensic study of the attack at the Cama Hospital failed to turn up a single AK-47 bullet (156).
  • Of the “hundreds of witnesses processed by the court” in relation to the attacks at the Café Leopold, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi-Trident Hotel or Nariman House, “not a single one testified to having observed any of the eight accused kill anyone” (40).
  • Indian authorities declined to order autopsies on the dead at the targeted Jewish center in Nariman House. The dead, five out of six of whom were Israeli citizens (427), were instead whisked back to Israel by a Jewish organization based in Israel, allegedly for religious reasons (453). Religious sensitivity seems to have extended to a large safe at the crime scene, which the team also transported to Israel (454).

(3) Extreme secrecy and the withholding of basic information from the population, with the excuse of “national security”

  • The surviving alleged terrorist had no public trial (661).
  • No transcript of his secret trial has been released (670).
  • One lawyer who agreed to defend the accused was removed by the court and another was assassinated (670).
  • The public was told there was extensive CCTV footage of the attacks, despite the mysterious malfunctioning of the majority of CCTV cameras on the days in question (97-98; 109 ff.; 683 ff.); but only a very small percentage of the claimed footage was ever released and it suffers from serious defects–two conflicting time-stamps and signs of editing (111).
  • Members of an elite Indian commando unit that showed up with between 475 and 800 members to battle eight terrorists (534) were not allowed to testify in court (327; 428-429).
  • The “confession” of the suspect, on which the judge leaned heavily, was given in secret. No transcript of this confession has been released to the public and the suspect later renounced the confession, saying he had been under threat from police when he gave it (599 ff.; 681).
  • The suspect, after being convicted and sentenced to death, was presumably executed, but the hanging was done secretly in jail and his body, like the bodies of the other dead “terrorists,” was buried in a secret place (37; 623).

It is difficult to see how the investigation described above differs from what we would expect to see in a police state. Evidently, the “world’s largest democracy” is in trouble.

Meanwhile, motives for the “highly plausible” false flag attack, Davidsson notes, are not difficult to find. The attacks not only filled the coffers of national security agencies, creating as they did the impression of a permanent threat to India, but also helped tilt India toward those countries claiming to take the lead in the War on Terror (809 ff.; 847). The FBI showed great interest in the attacks from the outset. It actually had a man on the scene during the attacks and sent an entire team directly after the event (812 ff.). The Bureau was, remarkably, given direct access to the arrested suspect and to his recorded confession (before he even had a lawyer), as well as to eyewitnesses (651-652; 815). The New York Police Department also sent a team after the conclusion of the event (816-817), as did Scotland Yard and Israeli police (651; 851). There seems to have been something of a national security fest in relation to Mumbai as ideas of closer cooperation in matters of security were discussed (e.g., 822).

In case Israel seems too small to belong with the other players in this national security fest, Davidsson reminds us that India is Israel’s largest customer in defense sales (853).

So, what can we learn from Davidsson’s book? For patient readers, a great deal: this 900-page study is as free of filler and rhetoric as it is rich in detail. (In correspondence the author told me that he was determined to produce a work dense with primary source material so that it could be of maximum help to activists in India striving for an official inquiry.) For readers with less patience, Davidsson has provided regular summaries. And both sets of readers will find that the book discusses not only details of the Mumbai attacks, but patterns of deception common in the War on Terror.

For all these reason, this book is a highly significant achievement and is of objective importance to anyone interested in the War and Terror–the structure and motifs of its ongoing fictions and the methods through which civil society researchers can lay bare these fictions

Posted in India0 Comments

Parliament Secretariat: Deuba Sole Nepali PM Candidate

NOVANEWS
  • Deuba previously served as prime minister from 1995 to 1997, 2001 to 2002 and 2004 to 2005.
    Deuba previously served as prime minister from 1995 to 1997, 2001 to 2002 and 2004 to 2005. | Photo: Reuters
When the deadline expired on Saturday, Deuba was the only candidate to have filed his nomination for candidacy.

On Sunday the president of the Nepali Congress party Sher Bahadur Deuba was the sole candidate contesting the position of prime minister.

RELATED: Nepal Holds First Local Election in 20 Years

According to Xinhua, all nominees were required to register candidacy at the parliament secretariat by Saturday. But, after the deadline expired, Deuba was found to be the only candidate to have filed his nomination. An official statement from the secretariat confirmed that Deuba will be the only candidate in the prime minister race on Sunday.

Deuba previously served as prime minister from 1995 to 1997, 2001 to 2002 and 2004 to 2005.

Following the failure of the major parties to form a consensus government, President Bidya Devi Bhandari called for the country to form a new government on the basis of majority votes.

Deuba needs 297 votes in the 593-member parliament to win. His Nepali Congress party currently holds 207 seats while the closest rival, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), has 82 seats.

Early reports from the media revealed that Deuba was on track to becoming the prime minister based on majority votes in the House.

The resignation of former prime minister and leader of the Communist Party of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal – also known as Prachanda, on May 24 prompted the election.

Posted in Far East0 Comments

Haven’t We Had Enough of Afghanistan?

NOVANEWS

The forever war continues

 

Will there ever be an end to the war in Afghanistan? Apparently not if our generals have anything to say about it – and they do. President Trump has turned over the prosecution of our perpetual “war on terrorism” to the Pentagon, claiming that they’ve been held back by previous administrations. The new policy is to turn them loose.

We saw what this means when the so-called “Mother of All Bombs” was dropped in a remote location where ISIS was said to be hiding: 92 “militants”were said to have been killed. Contrary to the triumphalist reports in US media, the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in combat had a minimal effect. And the cost, at $16 million for a single MOAB, came to around $174,000 per “militant.”

With anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, let’s take the median number of 2,000 and estimate that getting rid of all of them will cost around $348 million, give or take $10 million or so.

And you’ll note that we’re just talking about ISIS here. The Taliban is not only still in the mix, they’re actually in a better position than ever. In March, the Taliban claimed that 211 administrative districts of the country were either under their control or else contested: this isn’t far off the report of the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which put the number at 171. The Taliban control more of Afghanistan than at any time since the war started, and they continue to make major gains, such as in Helmland province. The pace and severity of Taliban/ISIS attacks has recently escalated, with a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 100 people, the culmination of 8 major attacks just in the month of May.

The Taliban in Afghanistan (credits to the owner of the photo)

After 16 years of fighting, the US is no closer to defeating the radical Islamist insurgency than it was at the very beginning. The original rationale for the invasion – the presence of Osama bin Laden – is long since gone.

The justification for continuing the Afghan war, you’ll recall, was that we couldn’t allow any “safe havens” where the terrorists could plan and carry out attacks on the US and Western Europe. The logic of this is difficult to follow, however, since a “safe haven” can be defined as anywhere terrorists gather – which can occur just as easily in Hamburg, Germany, than in some mountain cave in Afghanistan. Furthermore, we are now told that the primary locus of terrorist activities is in territory controlled by ISIS, which has few strongholds and little support in Afghanistan.

The reality is that terrorist plots are more likely to be hatched in Western Europe and right here in the United States than in the Afghan wilds.

Yet that hasn’t stopped our generals from requesting thousands more US troops to be sent to fight the longest war in our history: news reports tell us they want “a few thousand” more, but it’s hard to imagine this will make much difference. It’s also hard to imagine that the American people support this: while no recent polls have been taken — for some mysterious reason they stopped measuring support for the war in 2015 – the last time anyone looked opposition was over fifty percent.

Naturally, given the current atmosphere in Washington, there’s an anti-Russian angle to all this: General John Nicholson recently testified before Congress that Moscow is pushing a “false narrative” that the Taliban is fighting ISIS while the Afghan government army is sitting on its haunches, collecting bribes and managing the drug harvest. Russia’s goal, he said, is to “undermine the United States and NATO.”

Yet the Taliban is not the same as ISIS, and the latter has largely alienated Afghan civilians, just as al-Qaeda did in Iraq: foreign fighters, no matter their religion, are not popular in Afghanistan. The Taliban, for all its theological pretensions, is essentially a nationalist movement fighting a foreign invader: ISIS, however, is quite a different story.

The Trump campaign told us that all foreign commitments were going to be judged by new criteria: how does this serve American interests? And the question of how continuing to fight this war serves our interests has yet to be answered by the Trump administration. They have simply taken the war as a given.

In a 2009 speech at Tennessee State University, I asked my audience to

“remember the fate of the previous would-be conquerors of the proud Afghan people: the Russians, the British, the Golden Horde, and even Alexander the Great. They all failed, and the bones of their centurions are dust beneath the feet of a warrior people. In that kind of terrain, against that kind of enemy, there is no such thing as victory – there is only a question of how long it will take for them to drive us out – or whether we go bankrupt before that happens.”

Even earlier, in 2001, I predicted that the Afghan war would be a quagmire, a mistake we would eventually come to regret – an opinion for which David Frum, then National Review’s neocon enforcer of ideological correctness, saw cause to label me “anti-American.”

When the truth is considered “anti-American,” then we know we’re in trouble. Indeed, we’ve been in some pretty serious trouble for the past 16 years. Now is the time to reverse course and make it right.

It’s time to acknowledge that truth. It’s time to get the hell out of Afghanistan – now.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

‘Literal Colonialism’: Blackwater Founder Calls for ‘American Viceroy’ to Rule Afghanistan

NOVANEWS
Given Prince’s past connections to Trump, his recommendations could have some measure of influence.
 

Displaying what one commentator called “sheer 19th century bloodlust and thirst for empire,” Erik Prince, founder of the private mercenary firm Blackwater, argued in The Wall Street Journal this week that the United States should deploy an “East India Company approach” in Afghanistan.

The country, he wrote, should be run by

“an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts—including command, budget, policy, promotion, and contracting—and report directly to the president.”

Prince continued:

In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U.S. system bereft of institutional memory.

Prince insists that these are “cheaper private solutions,” but such privatization would also be a boon for military contractors.

As one critic noted, it is hardly surprising that a “war profiteer sees profit opportunity in war.” Blackwater, the private military company Prince founded in 1997—which now operates under the name Academi—made a fortune off the invasion of Iraq. In 2007, a New York Times editorial noted that Blackwater had “received more than $1 billion” in no-bid contracts from the Bush administration; that same year, Blackwater contractors shot and killed more than a dozen civilians in what came to be known as the Nisour Square massacre.

The Mysterious New Owner of Blackwater Worldwide | blackwater-460x250 | Black Ops CIA Corporate Takeover Military Special Interests US News

Source: thesleuthjournal.com

But “war profiteering” doesn’t quite capture the scope of Prince’s vision for Afghanistan. Despite the fact that private contractors have a long record of abuse and deadly criminality, Prince believes that they should have a stronger presence in a war that has spanned nearly 16 years and cost trillions of dollars.

Such a recommendation, combined with Prince’s invocation of the East India Company—a vestige of the British empire that “conquered, subjugated, and plundered vast tracts of south Asia for a century,” in the words of historian William Dalrymple—amounts to a call for “literal colonialism,” says Anil Kalhan, chair of the New York City Bar Association’s International Human Rights Committee.

Prince’s past connections to President Donald Trump indicate that his advice could potentially have some measure of influence on the White House.

As The Intercept‘s Jeremy Scahill, the author of a bestselling book on Blackwater, reported in January, Prince spoke with the Trump

“team on matters related to intelligence and defense” and offered suggestions “on candidates for the Defense and State departments.”

In April, The Washington Post reported that Prince, presenting himself as “an unofficial envoy for Trump,” met in January with “a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow” and then-President-elect Trump. Prince also donated $250,000 to the Trump campaign following the 2016 Republican National Convention, according to the Post.

Prince’s op-ed comes as the Trump administration is reportedly considering sending more troops to Afghanistan as civilian deaths from the war have “reached record levels.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

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