Dec 31, 2009

An AfPak train wreck

Obama's Escalation, An Af-Pak Train Wreck By CONN HALLINAN

When President Barak Obama laid out his plan for winning the war in Afghanistan, behind him stood an army of ghosts: Greeks, Mongols, Buddhists, British, and Russians. All had almost the same illusions as the current resident of the Oval Office about Central Asia. The first four armies are dust, but there are Russian survivors of the 1979-89 war that ended up killing 15,000 Soviets, hundreds of thousands of Afghans, and virtually wrecking Moscow’s economy.

One is retired General Igor Rodionov, commander of the Soviet’s 120,000-man 40th Army that fought for 10 years to defeat the Afghan insurgents. In a recent interview with Charles Clover of the Financial Times, he made an observation that exactly sums up the President’s deeply flawed strategy: “Everything has already been tried.”

The President laid out three “goals” for his escalation: One, to militarily defeat al-Qaeda and neutralize the Taliban; two, to train the Afghan Army to take over the task of the war; and three, to partner with Pakistan against a “common enemy.” The purpose of surging 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, the President said, is to protect the “vital national interests” of the U.S.

But each goal bears no resemblance to the reality on the ground in either Afghanistan or Pakistan and, rather than protecting U.S. interests, the escalation will almost certainly undermine them.

The military aspect of the surge simply makes no sense. According to U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones, al-Qaeda has fewer than 100 operatives in Afghanistan, so “defeating” it means trying to find a few needles in a 250,000 square mile haystack.

As for the Taliban, General Rodionov has a good deal of experience with how fighting them is likely to turn out: “The war, all 10 years of it, went in circles. We would come and they [the insurgents] would leave. Then we would leave, and they would return.”

The McClatchy newspapers reported this past July, that the Taliban had successfully evaded last summer’s surge of U.S. Marines into Helmand Province by moving to attack German and Italian troops in the northern part of the country. Does the White House think that the insurgents will forget the lessons they learned over the last 30 years?

Another major goal of the escalation is to increase the size of the Afghan Army from around 90,000 to 240,000. The illusions behind this task are myriad, but one of the major obstacles is that the Afghan Army is currently controlled by the Tajik minority, who makes up about 25 percent of the population, but constitutes 41 percent of the trained troops. More than that, according to the Italian scholar Antonio Giustozzi, Tajiks command 70 percent of the Army’s battalions.

Pashtuns, who make up 42 percent of Afghanistan, have been frozen out of the Army’s top leadership, and, in provinces like Zabul, where they make up a majority, there are virtually no Pashtuns in the army.

The Tajiks speak Dari, the Pashtuns, Pashto, yet Tajik troops have been widely deployed in Pashtun areas. According to Chris Mason, a member of the Afghanistan inter-agency Operations Group from 2003 to 2005 says that Tajik control of the Army makes ethnic strife almost inevitable. “I believe the elements of a civil war are in play,” says Mason.

Matthew Hoh, who recently resigned as the chief U.S. civil officer in Zabul Province, warns that tension between Pashtuns and the Tajik-led alliance that dominates the Karzai government, is “already bad now,” and unless the Obama Administration figures out how to solve it, “we could see a return to the civil war of the 1990s.”

It was the bitter civil war between the Tajik-based Northern Alliance and the Pashtun-based Taliban that savaged Kabul and led to the eventual triumph of the Taliban.

Obama’s escalation will target the Pashtun provinces of Helmand and Khandahar. The Soviets followed a similar strategy and ended up stirring up a hornet’s nest that led to the creation of the Taliban. U.S. troops will soon discover the meaning of the old Pashtun axiom: “Me against my brothers; me and my brothers against our cousins; me, my brothers and my cousins against everyone.”

Afghanistan has never had a centralized government or a large standing army, two of the Obama Administration’s major goals. Instead it has been ruled by localized extended families, clans, and tribes, what Hoh calls a government of “valleyism.” Attempts to impose the rule of Kabul on the rest of the country have always failed.

“History has demonstrated that Afghans will resist outside interference, and political authority is most often driven bottom-up by collective local consent rather than top-down through oppressive central control,” says Lawrence Sellin, a U.S. Army Reserve colonel and veteran of the Afghan and Iraq wars. “It is absolutely clear that the path to peace in Afghanistan is through balance of power, not hegemony.”

Yet a powerful Tajik-controlled army at the beck and call of one of the most corrupt — and isolated — governments in the world has been doing exactly the opposite in the Pashtun areas. A Pashtun pushback is inevitable. According to Hoh and Mason, it has already begun.

The goal of a U.S. “partnership” with Pakistan is predicated on the assumption that both countries have a common “terrorist” enemy, but that is based on either willful ignorance or stunningly bad intelligence.

It is true that the Pakistan Army is currently fighting the Taliban, but there are four Talibans in Pakistan, and their policies toward the Islamabad government range from hostile, to neutral, to friendly.

Pakistan’s Army has locked horns in South Waziristan with the Mehsud Taliban, the Taliban group that was recently driven out of the Swat Valley and that has launched a bombing campaign throughout the Punjab.

But the wing of the North Waziristan Taliban led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur has no quarrel with Islamabad and has kept clear of the fighting. Another South Waziristan Taliban, based in Wana and led by Mullah Nazir, is not only not involved in the fighting, it considers itself an ally of the Pakistani government.

Washington wants Pakistan to go after the Afghan Taliban, led by Mullah Omar and based in Pakistan. But Omar has refused to lend any support to the Mehsud Taliban. “We are fighting the occupation forces in Afghanistan. We do not have any policy whatsoever to interfere in the matters of any other country,” says Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousaf Ahmedi. “U.S. and other forces have attacked our land and our war is only against them. What is happening in Pakistan is none of our business.”

The charge that the Taliban would allow al-Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan once again is unsupported by anything the followers of Mullah Omar have said. The Afghan Taliban leader has gone out of his way to say that the West has nothing to fear from a Taliban regime. “We do not have any agenda to harm other countries including Europe,” the Taliban leader said in October.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyer, a former U.S. ally against the Soviets and the current leader of the Taliban-allied Hizb-I-Islam insurgent group, told al-Jazeera, “The Taliban government came to an end in Afghanistan due to the wrong strategy of al-Qaeda,” reflecting the distance Mullah Omar has tried to put between the Afghan Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s organization.

The “other” forces Ahmed refers to include members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Patrol, an Indian paramilitary group defending New Delhi’s road building efforts in southern Afghanistan. The Pakistanis, who have fought three wars with India—including the 1999 Kargil incident that came very close to a nuclear exchange—are deeply uneasy about growing Indian involvement in Afghanistan and consider the Karzai government too close to New Delhi.

In short, Obama’s “partnership” would have the Pakistanis pick a fight with all four wings of the Taliban, including one that pledges to remove India’s troops. Why the Pakistanis should destabilize their own country, drain their financial reserves, and act contrary to their strategic interests vis-à-vis India, President Obama did not explain.

Will the escalation have an impact on “vital American interests?” Certainly, but most of the consequences will be negative.

Instead of demonstrating to the international community that the U.S. is stepping away from the Bush Administration’s use of force, the escalation will do the opposite.

Instead of bringing our allies closer together, the escalation will sharpen tensions between Pakistan and India — the latter strongly supports the surge of U.S. troops — and pressure the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to scrape up yet more troops for a war that is deeply unpopular in Europe.

Instead of controlling “terrorism,” the escalation will be the recruiting sergeant for such organizations, particularly in the Middle East, where the Administration’s show of “resolve” on Afghanistan is contrasted with its abandonment of its “resolve” to resist Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.

And finally, the deployment will cost at least $30 billion a year on top of the billions has already spent and the $70 billion the U.S is shelling out to support its current force of 81,000 troops. In the meantime, the Administration is too starved for cash to launch a badly needed jobs program at home.

And keep in mind that the President said such a July 2011 withdrawal would be based on “conditions on the ground,” a caveat big enough to drive a tank through.

“More soldiers is simply going to mean more deaths,” says Gennady Zaitsev, a former commander of an elite Soviet commando unit in Afghanistan. “U.S. and British citizens are going to ask, quite rightly, ‘Why are our sons dying?’ And the answer will be ‘To keep Hamid Karzai in power.’ I don’t think that will satisfy them.”

Looking back at years of blood and defeat, General Rodionov put his finger on the fundamental flaw in Obama’s escalation: “They [the U.S. and its allies] have to understand that there is no way for them to succeed militarily…It is a political problem which we utterly failed to grasp with our military mindset.”

That misunderstanding could become the epitaph for a presidency.

Conn Hallinan can be reached at:

This article originally appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus.


Barack Obama appears to have lost control of his own party, with Speaker Pelosi saying he'll have to do his own lobbying for the supplemental (funds for AfPak and other wars) and she won't do it. With BO's mentor and guide Senator Joe Lieberman running the Homeland Security Committee, the bad guys have won say the liberal / progressive grouping. The bizarre spectacle of the government losing its majority if Democrats switch sides to become Republicans looks at least possible, as does Karl Rove preparing to resume power this time next year. Cheney never stopped, of course.

Meanwhile the Chinese are making hay, planning to add a second pipeline to the Turkmenistan pipeline they opened on Dec 14, 2009. This is entirely in line with Chinese strategy as stated by their leadership:

"Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership." Deng Xiao Ping, on Chinese international policy

Dec 18, 2009

Only Congress can declare war – US constitution

"It just can't be said enough, especially when absolutely nobody is listening or cares: The USA is neither officially nor constitutionally in a state of declared war with any nation on earth. Just because Someone Important calls illegal invasions and perpetual occupations 'war' doesn't make it so. Our 'leaders' are well aware of this fact, which is why Barack Obama uses the word 'war' 44 times in a peace speech - to ensure that no one dare point out that our continued non-wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are a mortal wound to what's left of our constitution."

247 (two hundred and forty seven) members of the Pakistani government, including the president and members of the cabinet, have been indicted for crimes including murder, fraud, and corruption following the lifting of immunity by the Supreme Court.

Dec 16, 2009

The biggest sleazeball of all

So what, after a year of violent politicking, is this health reform bill that President Obama offers? Its main result will be that everyone will be legally forced to purchase health insurance, paying a fine if they don’t (What happens to those with no money left unspecified) a deal admittedly made with the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. (

This comes from a president whose mother had very cozy links with CIA affiliated groups in Indonesia, (see, and who on graduation went to work for a CIA front company called CIS who paid off his student loans. He acquired Senator Joe Lieberman, cousin of Avigdor Lieberman, as mentor and guide, and his election to the Senate was amazingly easy when his opponent withdrew at the last moment, too late to find a replacement. His acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize coincided with the dispatch of thirty thousand more troops to the poorest country in the world at a cost of a million dollars a head, bringing the total uniformed military from about 68,000 to about 100,000, in addition to the private contractor mercenaries like Blackwater who already numbered over 100,000. He also declined to bother with the traditional lunch with the king of Norway and moved on to the climate change conference, from which the African countries had already withdrawn, refusing the take it or leave it ultimatum from the rich countries. Game, set, and match.

What of the gains to full spectrum dominance of his country? Not good. The Chinese reaped the main advantage, with the opening of the Turkmenistan pipeline on December 14, 2009 rendering the Nabucco pipeline, the US candidate, a non starter.

It remains true that his election is a defeat for the racism that plagues America. It is also obvious that having an Algerian as president of France would be worse than having Sarkozy, a documented sayan (helper) of the Israeli Mossad, if the Algerian turns out to be Sarkozy in disguise.

Dec 15, 2009

Non persons

Today, the United States Supreme Court refused to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse at Guantánamo. The British detainees spent more than two years in Guantanamo and were repatriated to the U.K. in 2004.

The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By refusing to hear the case, the Court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law. The lower court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.” Finally, the circuit court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantanamo had any Constitutional rights.

Dec 12, 2009

Obama and Kissinger

In the list of other winners of the prize, commentaries on President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech never mention one of those other winners, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who succeeded in extending the Vietnam War by a number of years resulting in many thousands of Vietnamese and American deaths.

In Dr. Kissinger’s case that result fits well with the gentleman’s program of significantly reducing world population, so that the resources the US requires are located in unpopulated or thinly populated areas.

Liberals expressing disappointment with President Obama’s performance are being very selective in their memory. Candidate Obama promised to intensify the war in Afghanistan, and to start a new war, in Pakistan, which is going very nicely, thank you.

In his acceptance speech President Obama praised what Bernard Shaw called the Armorer, the creator of weapons, to be sold freely to all customers, and to all sides in all wars, in this case Mr. Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. No one forces you to buy weapons or use them.

But the world is full of weapons, not all of them obvious. George Orwell warns in Down and Out in Paris and London that the waiter may spit in your soup, but the waiter can do more than spit. Sprinkling ground bamboo would have roughly the same result as the DIME weapons used in Gaza, shredding of the inner organs. Very painful. Not good.

Talk of rights, human or animal, is a waste of time and breath except as a cover for other agenda. None of us can demonstrate a right to exist in the first place, let alone three meals a day; the gift of life comes without deserving of any kind. When Polonius says to Hamlet I shall give them what they deserve, Hamlet’s reply is worth remembering: Much better, man! If we all got what we deserve, who would escape whipping?

For the super rich, the movers and shakers, a world with a sufficient number of hotel workers, bar tenders, golf caddies, and ladies of the night is required, and the huge crowds of people everywhere are surplus to requirements.

But the super rich, such as Senator Kerry of Massachusetts, who has more of his own private funds in US military support companies than any other member of Congress, (which, one assumes, is why photos of President Karzai so often have Senator Kerry at his shoulder, protecting his investments) are never entirely safe. Tsunamis are no respecters of luxury hotels, the wife or mistress may be plotting one’s demise, and the rabble are everywhere, requiring increasing numbers to police them. One’s life and fortune remain largely in the hands of others.

That may also have the seeds of an answer to the dilemma. Perhaps Auden was right: We must love one another or die. That requires active concern for the well being of others. Nothing else will do it.

Dec 9, 2009

Climate change, a note for the perplexed

Because of the lead times involved climate change has long passed its tipping point; nothing we can do will change what happens in the next fifty years and whatever we do will benefit, if anyone, our great great grandchildren.

To the deniers and paid hacks, one word is sufficient “Nome.” A ship arrived in Nome, Alaska this summer, having passed through the fabled Northwest Passage, open for the first time ever, linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Ice at the Arctic is all first year ice, i.e., laid down this season. The vast packs of ice laid down in previous centuries have disappeared. Sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal is already double the average rise world wide. The lake forming at the tip of one of the main Himalayan glaciers will destroy most of Nepal, and perhaps the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, when it bursts.

Those taking part in the current scam on the emails hacked from the university of East Anglia’s computers, typical funded scientists maneuvers (and traced, interestingly, to a central computer complex in Siberia; if the calculation is that the population of all the Russias can withstand the floods and storms and droughts of climate change better than the Americans, they’re onto a winner.) are welcome to take the hacked emails round to all the folks whose houses are slipping off cliffs; perhaps it will cheer them up.

The Copenhagen meeting is an exercise in futility. The delegation of African countries has already agreed they’ll withdraw entirely if they don’t get what they want, which they won’t. India is shaping up as the main spoiler, using all its fabled skills, and will accept no enforced limits at all; in their defense it has to be admitted that the US with five per cent of world population, consuming twenty five per cent of world resources and creating thirty percent of world pollution for many years, are mainly responsible for a situation the Indians are refusing to pay for.

Don’t be led astray by the cold winter we’re about to get; the cold Pacific currents generated by the alternating El Nino/La Nina are probably the driving force, but Arctic cores containing bubbles of the air of the time have allowed a fairly accurate picture that this is what is to be expected.

(Note as of September, 2010: Warm air holds more moisture than cold air, and warm oceans evaporate more liquid than cold ones; even a first year high school science student should be able to work out that after the warmest three months on record, precipitation in the coming winter is also likely to be a record.)

Good luck. We'll all need lots of that.

Dec 8, 2009

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen opened, the African delegation had already agreed to leave the conference if their minimum goals were ignored. The secret text agreed by the UK, US, and Denmark leaked on Tuesday December 8, 2009 suggests the decisions have been made before the conference starts.

"The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations.

The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.

The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as "the circle of commitment" – but understood to include the UK, US and Denmark – has only been shown to a handful of countries since it was finalized this week.

The agreement, leaked to the Guardian, is a departure from the Kyoto protocol's principle that rich nations, which have emitted the bulk of the CO2, should take on firm and binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, while poorer nations were not compelled to act. The draft hands effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank; would abandon the Kyoto protocol – the only legally binding treaty that the world has on emissions reductions; and would make any money to help poor countries adapt to climate change dependent on them taking a range of actions.

The document was described last night by one senior diplomat as "a very dangerous document for developing countries. It is a fundamental reworking of the UN balance of obligations. It is to be superimposed without discussion on the talks".

A confidential analysis of the text by developing countries also seen by the Guardian shows deep unease over details of the text. In particular, it is understood to:

• Force developing countries to agree to specific emission cuts and measures that were not part of the original UN agreement;

• Divide poor countries further by creating a new category of developing countries called "the most vulnerable";

• Weaken the UN's role in handling climate finance;

• Not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050, while allowing rich countries to emit 2.67 tonnes.

Developing countries that have seen the text are understood to be furious that it is being promoted by rich countries without their knowledge and without discussion in the negotiations.

"It is being done in secret. Clearly the intention is to get [Barack] Obama and the leaders of other rich countries to muscle it through when they arrive next week. It effectively is the end of the UN process," said one diplomat, who asked to remain nameless.

Antonio Hill, climate policy adviser for Oxfam International, said: "This is only a draft but it highlights the risk that when the big countries come together, the small ones get hurting. On every count the emission cuts need to be scaled up. It allows too many loopholes and does not suggest anything like the 40% cuts that science is saying is needed."

Hill continued: "It proposes a green fund to be run by a board but the big risk is that it will run by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility [a partnership of 10 agencies including the World Bank and the UN Environment Programme] and not the UN. That would be a step backwards, and it tries to put constraints on developing countries when none were negotiated in earlier UN climate talks."

The text was intended by Denmark and rich countries to be a working framework, which would be adapted by countries over the next week. It is particularly inflammatory because it sidelines the UN negotiating process and suggests that rich countries are desperate for world leaders to have a text to work from when they arrive next week.

Few numbers or figures are included in the text because these would be filled in later by world leaders. However, it seeks to hold temperature rises to 2C and mentions the sum of $10bn a year to help poor countries adapt to climate change from 2012-15."

Not quite the same shambles as the previous climate change conference in 2007 (see Bali Climate Change conference at but in its way a worthy successor.

"It's an incredibly imbalanced text intended to subvert, absolutely and completely, two years of negotiations. It does not recognize the proposals and the voice of developing countries." Lumumba Stanislaus Dia Ping, the Sudanese ambassador to the Group of 77 developing countries, speaking of a leaked document known as the "Danish text" which proposes measures to keep average global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"The document, subtitled "The Copenhagen Agreement," has driven an even deeper wedge between rich and poor countries embroiled in UN climate talks in Copenhagen, CNN reports. The UN body hosting the talks has played down the document's importance, stressing that it is an "informal paper" put forward by the Danish prime minister.

"This was an informal paper ahead of the conference given to a number of people for the purposes of consultations. The only formal texts in the UN process are the ones tabled by the Chairs of this Copenhagen conference at the behest of the Parties," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"Around 15,000 delegates are meeting daily in Copenhagen as they seek to form a global agreement on climate change. Next week they will be joined by around 100 heads of state to form a final deal, if negotiations in the coming days succeed in closing the gap between rich and poor nations.

"The "Danish text" proposes "developed country parties commit to deliver upfront public financing for 2010-201[2] corresponding on average to [10] billion USD annually for early action, capacity building, technology and strengthening adaptation and mitigation readiness in developing countries." The draft text also proposes that the money is distributed by a "Climate Fund" by a board with "balanced representation."

"Charity group Oxfam says the Danish text risked sidelining poorer countries as the world seeks to reduce global carbon emissions. "Like ants in a room full of elephants poor countries are at risk of been squeezed out of the climate talks in Copenhagen," said Antonio Hill, Oxfam International's climate adviser. China also criticized portions of the text that refer to a "peak" year for carbon emissions from developing countries.

"Meanwhile, small island states and poor African nations vulnerable to climate impacts laid out demands for a legally-binding deal tougher than the Kyoto Protocol, the BBC reports. This was opposed by richer developing states such as China, which fear tougher action would curb their growth. Tuvalu demanded - and got - a suspension of negotiations until the issue could be resolved."

Devex International report "Rotting in Denmark."

Dec 4, 2009

But he's black! So was Condy Rice.

President Obama is making statements which he is in the best position of all to know are untrue, such as “as a result of our efforts (in Afghanistan) the 21st century will be the American century, just like the 20th.”

During his attendance at the ASEAN summit Obama’s preferred form of words was ignored in the final communiqué which used the general form preferred by most ASEAN leaders, without mentioning Aung San Su Ki by name. His town hall meeting in (was it Shanghai?) was similarly ignored by China, which didn’t even broadcast it on state TV, strange treatment for a personal appearance by the leader of the self styled “most powerful country in the world.” The 21st century is already visibly the Chinese century.

The US has the most restricted press coverage of any western nation, (and so Guardian readers in Britain, for example, have known for some weeks that the US is paying the Taliban to protect and guide – into ambushes in some cases – their convoys) and more restricted than, for example, India, where interesting ideas on the single captured Mumbai bomber were very openly discussed, and so the many snubs – if you wish to regard them in that way – that Obama experienced on his trip to Asia were never allowed to penetrate into the awareness of the average American in whatever minutes in the busy day they can devote to “news.”

America retains massive resources, such as a large educated and highly skilled middle layer of technocrats, but that the tide of its full spectrum dominance is receding beyond hope of retrieval is an open secret outside America, and its involvement in Afghanistan is a lost cause; “No one can beat the Afghans” said a Russian general who had fought them, “it’s like fighting sand.”

The Taliban in Afghanistan have been fighting for well over a century, certainly since Churchill described them as the most dangerous of opponents in 1897 when he was working there as a war correspondent, with one single aim, to get the foreigners out of their country.

December 5, 2009 Here is what Mullah Omar said in his letter of a few days ago:

“Obey the commands of your superiors in all matters of jihad. Be very careful not to harm civilians and public property. Pay special attention to targeting occupiers, their mercenaries and important targets only while launching martyrdom (self-sacrificing) operations. It is a religious duty of every Muslim to avoid harming ordinary people. There is no Islamic justification for killing and injuring ordinary people nor is there any space in our holy religion for such an act.

“The cunning enemy wants to defame mojahedin by launching bloody attacks among the people (in religious centres, mosques and similar places) and then call their attacks martyrdom attacks. Mojahedin should be vigilant about enemy tactics and never engage in this kind of activity.”

The address by Mullah Omar to the Taliban can be found at
a striking contrast to the politicians in all western nations and an effective way of winning hearts and minds that can not be aimed at western audiences, who will never be allowed to see it.

It makes no sense for terrorist groups to commit terrorist acts and then deny doing it. The Taliban are continually denying that they have anything to do with many of the attacks against civilians and mosques for which they are blamed. There is no reason to disbelieve them. Whether one likes the Taliban or not is neither here nor there. They have a track record of telling the truth whereas our side has a long track record of lying through their teeth every time they open their mouths.

A bomb has just gone off at a mosque Pakistan. If the Taliban deny involvement I'd be inclined to believe them. Even at the height of The Troubles in Ireland the Protestants and Catholics never bombed each others churches. Only the war fomenting foreigner does that. If any interest in creating stability actually existed, India would be forced - at gun point if necessary - to allow the plebiscite in Kashmir long demanded by the UN, but in fact a permanently suppurating open wound is what is in the interests of the war fomenting foreigner.

That the open US espousal of torture will serve to justify whatever is done to captured Americans (“It seemed the way grown ups did, and we had not made the world”) is only one of many disastrous results of that policy, another example of the relentless operation of divine justice.

Dec 1, 2009

The Age of Iron

The Greek poet Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer, wrote of the five ages of men, the gold, the silver, the bronze, the heroes living in the western isles, and the fifth, the iron age, his and ours.

“This is the Race of Iron. Dark is their plight.
Toil and sorrow by day are theirs, and by night
The anguish of death. And the gods afflict them, and kill
Though there’s yet a trifle of good amid manifold ill.”

Not exactly a comfortable existence. And what is likely to happen to them?

“With beautiful bodies veiled in their robes of white
Forsaking the human race for the gods, in flight,
Forbearance and Righteous Wrath depart, and leave
Evil too great to resist, and mortals who grieve.”

Not good, you might say.

“And Zeus will destroy them in turn on his chosen day
When children at birth show heads already grown grey”

And destroyed they may well be, though the precise name of the destroyer varies according to taste; if you wish to identify the heads grey at birth as already burdened with huge debts, feel free.

It is not the movers and shakers of that time that we remember. It is a certain fat balding old guy who went out whenever possible to escape from his wife and to hoist a few flagons with his mates, young guys who hung on his every word, and even wrote them all down, that we teach in our schools; the leader among them laid the basis of all western philosophy, including a good eighty per cent of Christianity, for the next three thousand years, and the nerdy second in class became the tutor of Alexander the Great, and was also the founder of all western, and most eastern, science. (His record achievement of having a technical manual, the Optics, still in use at a prestigious European university some two thousand five hundred years after his death turns textbook writers green with envy.)

Alexander had an interesting family background, certainly very different from the wholesome family life all good Americans claim and that none of them actually possess. His father was the inventor of the wedge tactic in battles as opposed to the standard straggly line, and his mother claimed a mysterious god as the true father of Alexander. (Does that remind you at all of the permanent pain in the life of Winston Churchill, that his wife had a lifelong affair with Beaverbrook, the newspaper magnate, leaving Churchill free to concentrate on affairs of state since in the British Upper Classes divorce was not an option?)

Those who gloried in the description of America as the “New Rome” now have to deal with the arrival at 500 AD. You’d think one could live quite comfortably amid the accumulated loot of empire for a good few years after that empire had ended, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Franks and Gauls turned up, all kinds of riff raff, Goths and Visigoths, and made demands, and even shaggy Mongolian types, intent on plunder. Until the practice was banned, Roman citizens often sold themselves into slavery to escape the financial burdens laid on them by the state.

But while the race of iron is in control, we live in interesting times; we have no choice.

“Fifth is the race I call my own and abhor,” says Hesiod
“Oh to die, or be later born, or born before.”

The dying is no problem, under the beneficent program of Dr. Kissinger implemented by all American presidents since Carter. Just go to Afghanistan. The rest is more difficult.

Nov 28, 2009

More ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream

“There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream.”

The opposition leader in Myanmar (Burma) Aung Sang Su Ky has been criticized by some of her followers and supporters for having preserved her Buddhist purity while things have only become worse for the population during the many years of her arrest.

It is certainly true that the discovery of one senior general stark naked in his office marching up and down giving salutes and bellowing orders, and his removal to a sanatorium, provided no relief for the population, nor any decrease in the power of the generals, whose grip grew ever tighter.

Generally speaking, Buddhists have a tendency to follow the advice of the Japanese master swordsman, “Instead of thinking maybe I could do this, or maybe I could do that, the first thing you must do is create a self as solid and unmoving as Mount Fuji.” Those who think of Buddhists as a subspecies of wimpy tree huggers might be gently reminded that all the martial arts there are were invented by Buddhist monks forbidden to carry weapons by the local war lords. The martial arts remain; the war lords are long forgotten. So it goes.

Gently reminded? “How do you get the attention of a political animal? Hit it between the eyes with a two by four.” A two by four does not qualify as a weapon and may be acquired at very modest cost from any local timber yard.

Awareness of possibilities is not limited to any particular culture or ethnicity. The tale of a property manager under notice to quit making some mutually beneficial arrangements with various debtors and creditors of the estate with an eye to the future is told by one Yeshua bin Youssef (aka Jesus of Nazareth) with the moral, or injunction, at the end of the tale “Study therefore the ways of the children of darkness, for they are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”

So what exactly did the supporters of Aung Sang Su Ky have in mind when they voiced their criticism that the lady had preserved inviolate her Buddhist purity over the years, but that everything had just got worse? What else could she have done?

Well, one can imagine a scenario where the lady carrying all the trappings of world fame and a Nobel Prize might have announced a conversion to the philosophy of the generals, offered to use her good offices to present their case to world opinion, strengthen their influence with neighboring states, generate new sources of income, spread their power further over Asia, mollify and enthuse the population.

There are a number of avenues to elbowing her way to a seat at the table, and then genuinely opening up and improving international relations up to the very moment when the two by four hits the generals between the eyes.

Burmese have a reputation for xenophobia and isolationism, but macho types with a secret yearning to strut in the altogether yelling orders should be putty in the hands of a resourceful woman.

Update November 9, 2010:

Aung San Su Ky is free, released by Than Shwe and the generals. Barbed wire and guards removed from house, free to go, meets with supporters at NLD headquarters.

"If she resumes where she left off in 2003 — campaigning against the regime — I'm afraid the likelihood is that she will return to house arrest fairly soon," he told the U.K. broadcaster. "However ... we are allowed to hope."

Good one, girl.

Nov 27, 2009

The ancestry of Harry Reid

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Congressman Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory.

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: 'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently e-mailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

Nov 19, 2009

Why did Obama bow to the emperor Hirohito of Japan?

America dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Most Americans have probably succeeded in forgetting this, if they ever knew it, but it is highly unlikely the Japanese have forgotten it.

You do not cease to be yourself when you become president of the United States. Obama had a clear run in his election to the Senate; his opponent withdrew unexpectedly at the last moment, leaving him unopposed. (Remember Napoleon’s demand of all the generals he appointed that they be lucky.)

Diplomatic protocol does not demand that any head of state should bow to any other head of state. Was Obama’s action a momentary oversight, practicing what he knew was a local form of courtesy, or was it deliberate?

Obama’s first action has to be to maintain, and even increase, the power he has; if he becomes powerless he can do nothing. This would come naturally to the little Luo, a member of the minority tribe in Kenya. Having allied himself to the most powerful groups around, he must then begin to increase the area of his own action independently of them, while continuing to keep them at least propitiated. So much is simple realpolitik.

I have often suspected that Obama may have the art of leading from behind. How does that work? Well, for example, the problem of graphic depictions of American brutality to conquered and imprisoned nations may arise. The trick is to keep the subject alive by occasional statements that these pictures can not be allowed to be made public, thus leaving the public to use their own imagination on just how awful the depictions might be, and leaving the busy army of hackers and diggers up of unsuspected corpses to get going on finding the actual videos or at least graphic descriptions of them. If public knowledge and outcry become overwhelming, you then pass the entire problem to a public prosecutor or independent investigator, and make clear the administration has zero control over them. You’ve done your best.

Nov 13, 2009

"A government not of men, but of laws."

"A government not of men, but of laws."

Under the Symington Amendment to the 1961 Foreign Appropriations Bill, the United States Government is banned from sending aid to any nation with nuclear weapons who has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Therefore, it is illegal for the Obama administration to send so much as a single penny to North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel.

"The Iraqis are writing a new constitution? Hey, take ours; we're not using it." Robin Williams

My mum's birthday today - Happy Birthday, Mum.

Nov 1, 2009

Robert Mugabe

It would take someone with the meticulous discrimination of Mr. Greenwald (of to understand that one does not throw one’s weight behind the oppressed of the earth because of any faith that they possess moral standards superior to their oppressors, and if one does, one is likely to be disappointed. The oppressed have experienced brutality – how could they not do likewise given the chance? “It seemed the way grown ups did, and we had not made the world.”

In the far distant struggle of the Patriotic Front against the Selous Scouts we were losing 900 men a month at the height of the carnage, farm boys, no match for the trained killers and their weapons, and another nine hundred the next month – we drowned those f*ckers in blood, but we did win, thereby establishing Mugabe as the first African leader to inflict a signal defeat on superior white forces, a position of prestige he used to the full to turn his country from the breadbasket of Africa into a graveyard, and inflict cruelties on his own people that would have made the smirking “Smitty” blench and taken the plastic grins off the faces of his Rhodesian followers. So were we wrong?

Not at all. The oppressed ended up with their fate in their own hands, just like the rest of us, and the Selous Scouts were free to get in line at the Haringey Job Centre, or for the more stubborn ones, end up in other African courts for smuggling in weapons to foment a coup – they also had their fate in their own hands.

Mugabe turned out to be a monster, but we needed a monster to deal with the Selous Scouts – Joshua Nkomo, who turned up at Heathrow Airport to ask for asylum would not have served to do the business. This proves little except “what all schoolkids learn/that those to whom evil is done/will do evil in return,” and not necessarily to those who did it to them, either.

Oct 28, 2009

The fall of Nuristan

A birthday present for someone over the weekend was the announcement of the fall of Nuristan. “Where is Nuristan?” you ask immediately. Do not concern yourself unduly, dear reader. It is the easternmost province of Afghanistan, which is one of a number of Moslem countries currently being occupied by US and “allied” forces. (The only item that may affect you has already been dealt with by President Sarkozy – the guy married to Eric Clapton’s ex-girlfriend – when he closed down the Sangatte encampment where hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans, fleeing from the wars in their countries, were waiting to try and get into Britain – “Scum” the president called them – how dare they run away from the disasters inflicted by pilotless drones controlled by our brave men and women in uniform from under a mountain in Nevada!)

I do not have a horse in this race, but my previously expressed opinion that of all the places on earth to fight in the mountains of the Hindu Kush are the last place I should choose, and the Afghans the last people I should wish to oppose has not changed. As the high mountain passes close with the fall of winter snow supplying one’s troops has become impossible and so the Americans have wisely chosen discretion as the better part of valor and moved their troops out, leaving the entire province of Nuristan to the control of one Qari Ziaur Rahman, a Taliban commander. The United States has withdrawn its troops from its four key bases in Nuristan, on the border with Pakistan, but retain some forces in Nuristan's capital, Parun, to provide security for the governor and government facilities. The US has pulled out from some areas in the past, but never from all four main bases.

Who are these people? Well, the 40 million Pathans (Pashtuns) are the world’s largest tribal group, divided by a 1,400 mile long border drawn by a 19th century British official that has never been of any interest to any one except mapmakers, certainly not to half the Pathans living in Pakistan or the other half living in Afghanistan on either side of the border. Historical and literary scholars may remember the bitter proverb quoted by Rudyard Kipling’s Kim: “Trust a Brahmin before a snake, a snake before a harlot, a harlot before a Pathan,” the modern version of which might run: “It is the classic Afghan way to smile and pocket bribe money, and tell foreigners what they want to hear, only to attack them in the night.” The testimony of one Winston Churchill, then a war correspondent in Afghanistan in 1897 (yes, it has been going on an awfully long time, much longer than even the Washington hawks admit!) “described as the toughest opponents a group called the Taliban, hard line Islamic students opposed to any foreign presence in the country, who lived on bread and onions supplied by the local population.” Mr. Qari Ziaur Rahman is clearly one of a series of local victors in the last century or so.

Why don’t the Americans give up and go home? Ah, the answer to this question became clear in a flash of illumination provided at

U.S. lawmakers have a financial interest in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to U.S. armed forces. Senator Kerry of Massachusetts, currently “advising” Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, tops the list of investors. His holdings in firms with Pentagon contracts of at least five million dollars stood at between 28.9 million dollars and 38.2 million dollars as of Dec.31, 2006. Kerry sits on the Senate foreign relations panel, and his investments in companies providing goods and services to American troops will continue to do very well indeed providing that Senator Kerry can ensure that American troops are fighting somewhere in the world, which his post on the foreign relations panel ideally equips him to do.

On the wider world scene, the new government in Japan seems inclined to ask why sixty years after the end of World War Two, in which they were on the losing side, American troops and air bases must continue to occupy them, and the same question may ultimately occur in Germany, and even in “allied” states like Britain. Mr. Kerry clearly has work to do to safeguard his investments.

Oct 25, 2009

The nails of the cross

The emperor Constantine, on his conversion to Christianity, brought the whole Roman empire with him. At the Council of Nicea the official text of the Bible was established under his jurisdiction, together with the Creed, the main lines of official theology, and a considerable body of police to enforce them.

The mother of the emperor, Saint Helen, discovered the burial site of Jesus, and on the site the entire true cross, complete with the nails still in it. She sent the nails of the cross to her son, the emperor, who had the nails melted down and from them made the bit (the metal piece that goes into the horse’s mouth, and is attached to the reins) for his war horse.

C-Span, October 25, 2009

Interpretation does not seem necessary.

Oct 16, 2009

Moonlit night

Tonight my wife must watch alone
the full moon over Fu-zhou;
I think sadly of my sons and daughters far away,
too young to understand this separation
or remember our life in Chang'an.
In fragrant mist, her flowing hair is damp;
In clear moonlight, her jade-white arms are cold.
When will we lean at the open casement together
while the moonlight dries our shining tears?

Du Fu

Oct 12, 2009


Published on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 by Inter Press Service

US Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars by Abid Aslam

WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers have a financial interest in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a review of their accounts has revealed.

Members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to U.S. armed forces, say nonpartisan watchdog groups…

…Lawmakers charged with overseeing Pentagon contractors hold stock in those very firms, as do vocal critics of the war in Iraq, says the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Senator John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts who staked his 2004 presidential bid in part on his opposition to the war, tops the list of investors. His holdings in firms with Pentagon contracts of at least five million dollars stood at between 28.9 million dollars and 38.2 million dollars as of Dec. 31, 2006. Kerry sits on the Senate foreign relations panel.

Members of Congress are required to report their personal finances every year but only need to state their assets in broad ranges…

…In all, 151 current members of Congress -- more than one-fourth of the total -- have invested between 78.7 million dollars and 195.5 million dollars in companies that received defence contracts of at least 5.0 million dollars, according to CRP.

These companies received more than 275.6 billion dollars from the government in 2006 or 755 million dollars per day, says budget watchdog group OMB Watch.

The investments yielded lawmakers 15.8 million - 62 million dollars in dividend income, capital gains, royalties, and interest from 2004 through 2006, says CRP…

…Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees held 3.0 million - 5.1 million dollars in companies specialising in weapons and other exclusively military goods and services, it added…

© 2008 Inter Press Service

Oct 7, 2009


It is important to note that when Americans say “patriotism,” they almost invariably mean “nationalism.” There are very few honorable exceptions.

Nationalism in operation may be studied in the stark contrast between the Lockerbie disaster, where the solitary witness linking Megrahi was paid several million dollars to give his testimony, and the shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner, killing over 200 on board, by the battleship USS Vincennes, separated by a few months from the Lockerbie case. The officers of the Vincennes were awarded medals by the US government.

Oct 2, 2009

Lessons of history (continued)

In 1897, Winston Churchill, then a war correspondent in Afghanistan, described as the toughest opponents a group called the Taliban, hard line Islamic students opposed to any foreign presence in the country, who lived on bread and onions supplied by the local population.

NPR October 2, 2009

Oct 1, 2009


Note: The following is largely extracted from two articles: Twilight of the Psychopaths, by Dr. Kevin Barrett and The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade by Silvia Cattori.

I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question: Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice? It doesn't seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again. The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder.

Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination. The inventor of civilization - the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers - was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies - especially military hierarchies.

Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as their power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld - the overlapping criminal syndicates that lurk above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it.

During the past fifty years, psychopaths have gained almost absolute control of all the branches of government. You can notice this if you observe carefully that no matter what illegal thing a modern politician does, no one will really take him to task. All of the so called scandals that have come up, any one of which would have taken down an authentic administration, are just farces played out for the public, to distract them, to make them think that the democracy is still working.

One of the main factors to consider in terms of how a society can be taken over by a group of pathological deviants is that the psychopaths' only limitation is the participation of susceptible individuals within that given society. Lobaczewski gives an average figure for the most active deviants of approximately 6% of a given population. (1% essential psychopaths and up to 5% other psychopathies and characteropathies.) The essential psychopath is at the center of the web. The others form the first tier of the psychopath's control system.

The next tier of such a system is composed of individuals who were born normal, but are either already warped by long-term exposure to psychopathic material via familial or social influences, or who, through psychic weakness have chosen to meet the demands of psychopathy for their own selfish ends. Numerically, according to Lobaczewski, this group is about 12% of a given population under normal conditions.

So approximately 18% of any given population is active in the creation and imposition of a Pathocracy. The 6% group constitutes the Pathocratic nobility and the 12% group forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous.

When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless - they literally have no conscience.

In his book Political ponerology, Andrej Lobaczewski explains that clinical psychopaths enjoy advantages even in non-violent competitions to climb the ranks of social hierarchies. Because they can lie without remorse (and without the telltale physiological stress that is measured by lie detector tests), psychopaths can always say whatever is necessary to get what they want. In court, for example, psychopaths can tell extreme bald-faced lies in a plausible manner, while their sane opponents are handicapped by an emotional predisposition to remain within hailing distance of the truth. Too often, the judge or jury imagines that the truth must be somewhere in the middle, and then issues decisions that benefit the psychopath. As with judges and juries, so too with those charged with decisions concerning who to promote and who not to promote in corporate, military and governmental hierarchies. The result is that all hierarchies inevitably become top-heavy with psychopaths. Since psychopaths have no limitations on what they can or will do to get to the top, the ones in charge are generally pathological. It is not power that corrupts, it is that corrupt individuals seek power.

How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people? What is the portrait of a true psychopath?

Such a dangerous question has almost never been successfully asked. The reason is because we mistakenly confuse healthy for normal. Human psychological diversity is the health of our race. There is no normal because healthy humans continuously evolve beyond all normalizing standards. The terrorism of searching through hierarchies for anyone deviating from normal is no different from witch hunts or Inquisitions. You must remember that hierarchies thrive on such low dramas, torturing victims until they confess to evil beliefs. Not so long ago the church and state ongoingly acquired significant income and property through witch hunts and Inquisitions. This continued for over two hundred and fifty years. Ten generations of Europeans understood pogrom as normal life. Let us not return to that nightmare. Testing for normal is guaranteed to backfire in our face. There is no normal. But there is conscience.

We have very little empirical evidence to support the idea that true psychopathy is the result of an abused childhood, and much empirical evidence to support that it is genetic. The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of being able to identify even the most devious psychopath. Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans! A missing internal connection between the feeling heart and the thinking brain is detectable.

Psychopaths are incapable of authentic deep emotions. In fact, when Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an emotional reaction until they intellectually concluded that it would be better if they had one, and then they whipped up an emotional response just for show.

The simplest, clearest and truest portrait of the psychopath is given in the titles of three seminal works on the subject: Without Conscience by Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, and Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak. A psychopath is exactly that: conscienceless. The most important thing to remember is that this lack of conscience is hidden from view behind a mask of normality that is often so convincing that even experts are deceived. As a result, psychopaths become the Snakes in Suits that control our world.

Psychopaths lack a sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey. They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their problems or their mistakes. Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate. They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not tell anyone about what they have done. So another trait - and a very important one - is their ability to control the flow of information.

They also seem to have little real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires. Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for the rush of adrenaline.

Another trait of the psychopath is what Lobaczewski calls their special psychological knowledge of normal people. They have studied us. They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us. But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us. When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some sort of spell over us. It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter what they were doing.

Psychopaths learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to themselves. They also become conscious of being of a different world from the majority of other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance.

Think about the ramifications of this statement: Psychopaths are, to some extent, self-aware as a group even in childhood! Recognizing their fundamental difference from the rest of humanity, their allegiance would be to others of their kind, that is, to other psychopaths.

Their own twisted sense of honor compels them to cheat and revile non-psychopaths and their values. In contradiction to the ideals of normal people, psychopaths feel breaking promises and agreements is normal behavior.

Not only do they covet possessions and power and feel they have the right to them just because they exist and can take them, but they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others; what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor. They also learn very early how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of non-psychopaths, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of achieving their goals.

So now, imagine how human beings who are totally in the dark about the presence of psychopaths can be easily deceived and manipulated by these individuals, gaining power in different countries, pretending to be loyal to the local populations while at the same time playing up obvious and easily discernible physical differences between groups (such as race, skin color, religion, etc). Psychologically normal humans would be set against one another on the basis of unimportant differences (think of Rwanda 1994, think of Israelis and Palestinians) while the deviants in power, with a fundamental difference from the rest of us, a lack of conscience, an inability to feel for another human being, reaped the benefits and pulled the strings.

We are seeing the final desperate power-grab or endgame of brutal, cunning gangs of CIA drug-runners and President-killers; money-laundering international bankers and their hit-men - economic and otherwise; corrupt military contractors and gung-ho generals; corporate predators and their political enablers; brainwashers and mind-rapists euphemistically known as psy-ops and PR specialists - in short, the whole crew of certifiable psychopaths running our so-called civilization. And they are running scared.

Why does the Pathocracy fear it is losing control? Because it is threatened by the spread of knowledge. The greatest fear of any psychopath is of being found out.

Psychopaths go through life knowing that they are completely different from other people. Deep down they know something is missing in them. They quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy, while carefully studying others' emotions so as to mimic normalcy while cold-bloodedly manipulating the normals.

Today, thanks to new information technologies, we are on the brink of unmasking the psychopaths and building a civilization of, by and for the healthy human being - a civilization without war, a civilization based on truth, a civilization in which the saintly few rather than the diabolical few would gravitate to positions of power. We already have the knowledge necessary to diagnose psychopathic personalities and keep them out of power. We have the knowledge necessary to dismantle the institutions in which psychopaths especially flourish - militaries, intelligence agencies, large corporations, and secret societies. We simply need to disseminate this knowledge, and the will to use it, as widely and as quickly as possible.

Until the knowledge and awareness of pathological human beings is given the attention it deserves and becomes part of the general knowledge of all human beings, there is no way that things can be changed in any way that is effective and long-lasting. If half the people agitating for truth or stopping the war or saving the earth would focus their efforts, time and money on exposing psychopathy, we might get somewhere.

One might ask if the weak point of our society has been our tolerance of psychopathic behavior? Our disbelief that someone could seem like an intelligent leader and still be acting deceptively on their own behalf without conscience? Or is it merely ignorance?

If the general voting public is not aware that there exists a category of people we sometimes perceive as almost human, who look like us, who work with us, who are found in every race, every culture, speaking every language, but who are lacking conscience, how can the general public take care to block them from taking over the hierarchies? General ignorance of psychopathology may prove to be the downfall of civilization. We stand by like grazing sheep as political/corporate elites throw armies of our innocent sons and daughters against fabricated enemies as a way of generating trillions in profits, vying against each other for pathological hegemony.

Nearly everyone who has been part of an organization working for social change has probably seen the same dynamic play out: The good and sincere work of many can be destroyed by the actions of one person. That doesn't bode well for bringing some sort of justice to the planet! In fact, if psychopaths dominate political hierarchies, is it any wonder that peaceful demonstrations have zero impact on the outcome of political decisions? Perhaps it is time to choose something other than massive, distant hierarchies as a way of governing ourselves?

So many efforts to provide essays, research reports, exposés and books to leaders so they might take the new information to heart and change their behavior have come to naught. For example, in the final paragraph of his revised edition of the book, The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg writes:

I still believe that if the people of the world can be helped to understand the situation we are in, the options available, and the consequences of the path we are currently on, then it is at least possible that they can be persuaded to undertake the considerable effort and sacrifice that will be entailed in a peaceful transition to a sustainable, locally based, decentralized, low-energy, resource-conserving social regime. But inspired leadership will be required.

And that is the just-murdered fantasy. There are no inspired leaders anymore. And in hierarchical structures there can't be. Assuming that you can elect men or women to office who will see reason and the light of day, and who will change and learn and grow, make compassionate decisions and take conscientious actions... is a foolish, childish dream. Continuing to dream it simply plays into psychopathic agendas.

Only when the 75% of humanity with a healthy conscience come to understand that we have a natural predator, a group of people who live amongst us, viewing us as powerless victims to be freely fed upon for achieving their inhuman ends, only then will we take the fierce and immediate actions needed to defend what is preciously human. Psychological deviants have to be removed from any position of power over people of conscience, period. People must be made aware that such individuals exist and must learn how to spot them and their manipulations. The hard part is that one must also struggle against those tendencies to mercy and kindness in oneself in order not to become prey.

The real problem is that the knowledge of psychopathy and how psychopaths rule the world has been effectively hidden. People do not have the adequate, nuanced knowledge they need to really make a change from the bottom up. Again and again, throughout history it has been meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If there is any work that is deserving of full time efforts and devotion for the sake of helping humanity in this present dark time, it is the study of psychopathy and the propagation of this information as far and wide and fast as possible.
There are only two things that can bring a psychopath under submission:

1. A bigger psychopath.

2. The non-violent, absolute refusal to submit to psychopathic controls no matter the consequences (non-violent noncompliance).

Let us choose path 2! If individuals simply sat down and refused to lift a hand to further one single aim of the psychopathic agenda, if people refused to pay taxes, if soldiers refused to fight, if government workers and corporate drones and prison guards refused to go to work, if doctors refused to treat psychopathic elites and their families, the whole system would grind to a screeching halt.

True change happens in the moment that a person becomes aware of psychopathy in all its chilling details. From this new awareness, the world looks different, and entirely new actions can be taken. Distinguishing between human and psychopathic qualities begins the foundation of responsibility upon which we have a real chance to create sustainable culture.

Sep 20, 2009

Iran sanctions - Jewish rally

A day of advocacy in Washington last week and a rally in New York next week mark major efforts by the American Jewish community to push the issue of Iran’s nuclear program to the forefront and increase the general sense of urgency to end it. (See page 29.)

Members of the northern New Jersey Jewish community joined more than 300 other Jewish leaders from around the country who met with legislators in Washington Sept. 10 to thank them for supporting the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 and drum up support among those who had not yet signed on. The measure would penalize companies that help Iran import or produce refined petroleum.

Though the bill has gained support in Congress, the White House has put off a decision to back the legislation until after the Sept. 24 meeting of the P5-plus-1 group — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. (The Stand for Freedom in Iran rally is scheduled for the same day, as is the opening session of the U.N.’s General Assembly.)

“The administration needs to hear this message,” said Joy Kurland, director of the new regional Community Relations Council that represents UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, United Jewish Communities of Metrowest, and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. “This bill needs to be passed and we need to deal with this issue now.”

Kurland and a group of 11 other local activists met Sept. 10 with Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Rep. Scott Garrett, and Bob Decheine, Rep. Steve Rothman’s chief of staff. The group included local representatives of the Zionist Organization of America, Hadassah, AMIT, JINSA, and Emunah of America. Rabbis Neal Borovitz of Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge and David-Seth Kirscher of Temple Emanu-El of Closter joined the group.

Rothman noted, in an e-mail to The Jewish Standard on Wednesday, that he was an original co-sponsor of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act. He added that “the U.S. needs to put as much pressure as possible on Iran to prevent that rogue nation from developing nuclear weapons” and that he was “pleased and proud” that the UJA-NNJ delegation had shared “their support for this bill and other measures that highlight the very real threat posed by Iran. A nuclear Iran threatens the security of every nation, including the United States, and [it] must not be allowed to develop nuclear capability.”

“The briefings … all affirmed that Iran is very close to having the potential to develop nuclear weapons,” Borovitz told the Standard. “I was left with the strong feeling … that if Iran doesn’t enter into serious negotiations that the administration and Congress would push this bill through.”

In addition to legislators, the advocates heard from a powerful lineup of Jewish communal leaders that included AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris, and B’nai B’rith International Executive Director Dan Mariaschin in a panel moderated by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“There is no national sense of urgency” on Iran, said Foxman, who outlined a “Catch-22” facing the Jewish community.

“We do not have the luxury to not lead” on Iran, he said. “We have to lead even though it will be perceived as a Jewish issue.”

The advocacy day was organized by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Iran, which is led by the Presidents Conference, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, UJC/Federations of North America and NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia.

Hoenlein stressed that there was wide unity in the community that increased pressure on Iran was necessary, citing the nine rabbinical and synagogue organizations from across the denominational spectrum that released a joint statement on the issue a few days earlier and the representation of a huge array of Jewish groups at advocacy day.

Hoenlein also noted that the term “crippling sanctions” in regard to Iran was actually first used by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this year, and said that such sanctions are “not targeting people.”

Echoing Foxman, Judy Shereck, part of the UJA-NNJ delegation, told the Standard on Tuesday that one of the advocates’ biggest concerns is that the Iranian issue is seen as just a Jewish or Israeli issue.

“This is not an issue that is important to us just because of Israel,” said Shereck, national vice president of Hadassah and chair of its Israel, Zionist and International Affairs committee. “This is an issue that is important [to us] as Americans.”

While the congressmen the delegation met appeared supportive, the general American public does not understand the threat Iran poses, Shereck continued. Hadassah, she said, is focusing on educating the public on the urgency of dealing with the threat.
“We need to show that there is no more time for waiting on the Iranians,” said Martha Cohen, a member of UJC-NNJ’s JCRC board and chair of its Israel and world affairs committee. “We need to put a line in the sand and stand by it.”

Borovitz said that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has set Israel up as a “bogeyman” in his pursuit of nuclear arms and that the Iranian leader has argued that his country needs to defend itself against an Israeli attack.

“We need to wake up the public,” he said, noting the significance of non-Jewish organizations cosponsoring next week’s rally. “We need to spread this message beyond the Jewish community. This is an existential threat to America.”
Borovitz pointed to another reason for the public’s slow response to Iran: the discredited “weapons of mass destruction” cries that were behind the Iraq war.

“In the post-Iraq era people are very wary,” he said. “Just because the Iraq war was wrong does not mean we should stand idly by and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.”

For information about UJA-NNJ’s bus to next week’s rally, call (201) 820-3944.

Sep 19, 2009


Hammurabi made some good laws, and so did Solon, but at the time European ancestors were hunkered in their ice caves barricaded against the howling dark and dreaming of aurochs haunches, and by the time they found out about them several thousand years later, those laws had long disappeared even in the places they were made.

It's very tempting to accept the broad hint from that trouble maker Yeshua bin Youssef in the parable of the Good Samaritan that whatever laws the local warlords make, or allow to be made, is really irrelevant, and the only thing that matters is how you deal with the person next to you in the bus/train/tube or in the street.

History is about to be dropped from the core curriculum in British schools, apparently. That makes it more difficult for anyone to check on anything, of course, and so I welcome today's article in the Daily Mail logging the scam artists (probably rather encouraging for Americans, plagued by multiple scandals, to read) who've been running England for the last twenty years. History will soon be more difficult to come by:

"The only mystery is how they got away with it for so long. The consortium took over GB Limited with a large sweetener from the previous management. They also inherited a healthy bank balance and a huge fund of public goodwill.

Even though none of them had any experience of running such an enterprise, they were cheered to the rafters on their arrival. In retrospect, entrusting the operation to a failed lawyer, a psychologically-flawed Scottish sociopath, a temperamental television researcher and a chippy ship's steward was always going to be a huge risk."

Sep 15, 2009

Old shoes

"A man should mend old shoes if he can do no better to aid the republic." Jonathan Swift

Just let the pressure for the public option build up, Mr. President. Don't let them bamboozle you - you're doing not bad on this one.

For another sweeping reform that is also a massive benefit to the economy, issue free copies of "Unquenchable" to all White House staff, to let them get their heads around another developing crisis on the horizon that can be headed off. It'll make you look a real statesman, as well as a genuine benefactor of humanity and a model for other states.

Sep 10, 2009

Obama's current kill rate #8

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"

Sep 9, 2009

The mirror

Taking a good look at oneself has always been encouraged by the wise, and that may include taking a good look at one's cultural template, the default inculcated since childhood that we often unconsciously revert to (Well, of course only white people are real people, you just can't say so out loud.) That won't work, buddy, for the reason provided by that trouble maker Yeshua bin Youssef (aka Jesus of Nazareth). No man can serve two masters, and no house divided against itself can stand. Integrate your personality into one consistent whole and "your whole body will be full of light," said the above Yeshua, but remain internally divided and conflicted and "your whole body will be full of darkness." Your secret whispering voices will always give themselves away in a thousand ways.

("Slitty eyed Chinese," said that oik the duke of Edinburgh, displaying his racist instincts in full play. No Chinese official has ever referred to "Round eyed westerners," and so in the politeness and general demeanour stakes we stand at UK zero, Chinese ten. That's quite apart from financial considerations (the Brits worship money as Hilaire Belloc pointed out) where the figures are literally too awesome to contemplate.)

To illustrate let me present the best description I have ever come across of part of that British template, the British Upper Class bit. (Without prejudice or ill will to any possible ex-members of the Brit Upper Classes.) It happens to be about Princess Diana, but works as a default template. (For the IT-challenged, or, like me suffering technical problems, I present it in full.)

Have yourself a lonely little Christmas

'The prospect of my first Christmas as a free agent - no one's daughter, mother or wife - is incredibly exciting, and not a little overdue'

Julie Burchill Guardian Unlimited Saturday December 23, 2000

A few weeks ago, I read a feature in the Daily Mail by Paul Burrell, the former butler to the late Princess of Wales - "My rock," she called him. Burrell has been as loyal and devoted a friend to the Princess since her death as he was during her life, and I'm sure what he wrote - "What would the Royals buy for Christmas?" - was intended to be a soft-focus, sepia-tinted glimpse of a much-missed fascinator at a nostalgic time of year.

I must say, though, that, in the picture it painted of the deluxe isolation of the Windsors, and especially of the vulnerable and fragile girl who became their brood mare par excellence, I found this romp through the royal wish-list easily as chilling as any treacherous Highgrove phone conversation transcript or bland Buck Pal message of sympathy. With the media currently wetting itself over Prince William, it wouldn't hurt for a minute to remember his mother, without whom he wouldn't have ended up looking like that. Not with Camilla Parker Bowles as a mum.

Each Christmas, Burrell would help the princess locate, wrap and despatch more than 200 presents. Featuring heavily among these would be aromatherapy kits - which, for me, have come to symbolise the fragrant solitude of the modern civil sex war, as bored housewives and career girls too good for the miserable men on offer wallow in candle-lit limbo in aromatherapy baths called such things as Sensuality and Afterglow while their putative suitors download barnyard porn in their locked studies. Then there would come the Smythson address books, in hand-bound goatskin, £195, in which the princess and her circle might carefully write the personal details of all those close friends whose husbands and wives they would one day sleep with, if they hadn't already.

I find it particularly poignant that she was apparently a collector of Halcyon Days enamel boxes; all that clutter, to soften that harsh, blaring life - £85 for a poxing empty tin box! You can see why the firm has got four royal warrants, for its products' extortionate hollowness echoes the Windsor way. To obscure her loneliness even further, here comes her army of Herond hand-painted china animals, from £55 for a tiny "frog prince" to £4,000 for a limited-edition giraffe. "Each year, I would ensure that the latest edition was carefully wrapped and placed inside the princess's stocking, which I had filled on Wills' and Harry's behalf," reports Burrell, and what a wealth of estrangement and loss there is in this good servant's innocent testimony.

Diana would, according to Burrell, turn to Turnbull & Asser for bespoke shirts, ties and dressing gowns for her faithless husband and stolen sons - I mention this only because the appropriateness of the name of this hawker of haberdashery to the ruling classes is so delightful. (Almost as gorgeous as my husband's divorce lawyers, Hart & Loveless!) From J Floris would come scented candles, fragrances and vaporising oils - the princess was particularly fond of Seasonal Spice at this time of year, doubtless to drown out the pong of paranoia, the stink of betrayal and the whiff of cordite coming off Balmoral.

Price's candles - a dozen for £6.90 - would provide the lighting at every royal dining table, ensuring that daylight was not let in upon the magic and, even more important, that the hated face of the spouse opposite could be mutated - after a few tots of The King's Ginger Liqueur, available only from Berry Bros & Rudd of St James - into the welcoming features of the beloved.

From the General Trading Company - "an Aladdin's Cave for those in Sloane Ranger territory" - Diana would buy those tragic cushions whose mottos became so horribly apt with the unfurling of her miserable life. I'M A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD - GOOD GIRLS GO TO HEAVEN; BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE - THOSE WHO SAY THAT MONEY CAN'T BUY YOU HAPPINESS DON'T KNOW WHERE TO SHOP. She would also pick up china sweet dishes, no doubt for her fellow bulimics to display their poison of choice. And she might grab a monogrammed washbag for her husband from Eximious, By Appointment To The Prince Of Wales, in which he might keep those all-important unguents for removing the stench of his adultery.

Silver monogrammed key chains (£40 upwards) make a perfect gift for men and women alike, apparently, and are so much more appropriate than the cufflinks saying "Gladys" and "Fred" which the ever-sensitive Prince Charles wore to dinner on the first night of his honeymoon, only to be amazed when his unreasonable, hysterical wife showed distress at his continuing devotion to his mistress. (In an interesting insight into the cesspit that is the Parker Bowles mind, isn't it attractive how the very idea of working-class names, attached to such obviously classy pieces of ass as herself and Chas, struck her as being such a hoot?)

Much is made of Diana's "lonely" Christmases in later years, but I bet they seemed like heaven after being locked up with the Addams Family all those years. She did have family, after all - sisters and a brother who would have been happy to have her. But what people who are trapped in the tradition of the family Christmas fail to realise is that, once you have made good your escape, voluntary or otherwise, the prospect of living through the whole dreary panto again, this time with another set of personality disorders and ancient grudges, is not an especially attractive one.

There is a lot of cant talked about The Family at Christmas, with those such as myself - preparing to face my first Christmas as an orphan - the focus of pity and concern from those who will be enmeshed in the bosom of theirs. But far from each family becoming a Holy Family at this time of year, it seems to my jaded outsider's eyes that, with a few lucky exceptions, most families become royal families, waving expensive geegaws at each other to divert attention from each other's dismay at having to play the same old tired roles - harassed housewife, bluff paterfamilias, exasperated adult children - that we spend the rest of the year struggling so valiantly to escape.

Though I loved my parents to bits, the prospect of my first Christmas spent as a free agent - no one's daughter, mother or wife - seems incredibly exciting and exotic, and not a little overdue. So don't all you family types feel too sorry for us solitaires. In return, we'll try not to feel too sorry for you, stuck with your families this Christmas, when you'd far rather be with those you love.

Sep 6, 2009

Dover Beach - Matthew Arnold

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Sep 5, 2009

The Loot

Plunder goes on across Afghanistan as looters grow ever bolder.

James Astill in Bazy-Kheil Saturday December 13, 2003 The Guardian

Trade in antiquities worth up to £18bn as thieves excavate sites.

It was meant to be a rare success story. According to the Afghan minister of culture, the small mound of soft yellow earth at Bazy-Kheil, 20 miles east of Kabul, was one of the country's few protected archaeological sites. But as Mohammed Zakir, one of Afghanistan's five archaeologists, puffed to the top, he saw something was badly wrong.

A fresh rectangular pit had been cut into the side of the seventh-century Buddhist stupa. "That's nothing... it's a hunter's hiding hole," one of the soldiers in attendance insisted. "He's lying," Mr Zakir groaned.

Looters discovered Bazy-Kheil two years ago as the global trade in Afghan antiquities gathered pace. A local warlord promptly banned government officials from visiting the site, as his troops plundered its treasures. Then he relented, handing in 13 seventh-century buddhas and promising to plunder no more.

But, to Mr Zakir, the evidence of that freshly dug pit was damning.

"Even these soldiers are thieves," he said bitterly. "They pretend to be guarding this site, but when we leave they can take up their shovels."

Since the fall of the Taliban two years ago, Afghanistan has become a grave robbers' paradise. The Taliban destroyed many world-famous Buddhist sculptures, including the giant Bamiyan buddhas, but protected most of the country's more than 3,000 historical sites. Now, with the US-backed government virtually powerless outside Kabul, local warlords in partnership with Pakistani criminal gangs are looting with impunity.

"There was looting under the Taliban, but it was nothing compared to now," Mr Zakir said. "This is a total disaster, a complete free-for-all."

According to Unesco, the UN culture agency, the global industry in stolen Afghan antiquities is worth £18.3bn ($32bn) - more than the opium trade. Other experts dispute the figure. But none doubts that, at the current rate of plunder, the land where east and west have collided for millennia and a dozen civilisations flowered and fell will soon be stripped of its heritage.

"If this situation continues, in a year or two Afghanistan will be emptied of all its history," said Sayed Raheen, the culture and information minister.

"This is a tragedy, not only for us but for all humanity. When you put an ancient object in an Arab millionaire's living room, it loses its relation to history. It becomes meaningless."

The 13 buddhas of Bazy-Kheil are now in the Kabul Museum, once one of the finest in Asia. It was ransacked by rival mojahedin factions in the early 1990s. The Taliban stole more of its wonders - including the exquisite Bagram ivories, a 2,000-year-old collection of Indian panels - and smashed others. Now the museum has no roof, as it waits for international donors to deliver promised aid.

Further from Kabul, some of the world's most important archaeological sites are being laid bare. At Kharwar, in remote central Afghanistan, looters have discovered an ancient city stretching for 25 miles. From a trickle of confiscated artefacts, most archaeologists say the city dates from around the seventh century, shortly before the arrival of Islam.

"There hasn't been a discovery like this for a century; it's the Pompeii of central Asia," said Anna Rosa Rodriguez of the Society for the Protection of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage, an NGO. "Can you imagine? Even the Bamiyan buddhas don't compare to this, and legitimate scientists cannot get there."


Several government and UN missions have been turned away from Kharwar by local warlords. An Italian archaeological team flew in three months ago, but was permitted to spend only one day at the site. When the government subsequently sent nine police officers, four of them were murdered and the rest fled.

"There could be many more such sites; we don't know because the country's never been properly excavated," said Jim Williams of Unesco in Kabul.

"It's being excavated by criminals. They're the same people, the drug barons, the warlords, who are causing all Afghanistan's problems. But we still can't get the international community interested."

Unesco's budget for the country is £860,000, almost all of which is being spent on stabilising the empty plinths at Bamiyan, where the giant buddhas once stood. Afghanistan's government is only barely able to afford Mr Zakir's salary of £23 a month; it has no budget for protecting its historical sites.

Meanwhile the looters are growing bolder by the day, according to analysts in Kabul. Two weeks ago a six-tonne, 1,500-year-old buddha was intercepted at Peshawar railway station in northern Pakistan. At Kharwar, local villagers say Pakistani dealers are arriving with orders for specific antiquities.

According to Mr Raheen, a Pakistani general caused an uproar at an exhibition of Afghan archaeology at the Guimet Museum in Paris by declaring that he had much better pieces in his living room.

"The problem of this looting is like all the problems of Afghanistan, it's another bead in the necklace," said Abdul Feroozi, head of the National Institute of Archaeology.

"To stop it, you must do the same things as to stop the drugs and other crime: strengthen the government, build up the police and the national army, break the power of the warlords. Unfortunately we are still waiting for these things."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003