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.