NIGHTWATCH: India Begins Military Support for Afghanistan — Robert Steele Comments

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India-Afghanistan: Indian Minister of External Affairs Slaman Khurshid said on 15 February that India will provide helicopters to Afghanistan.

“We are giving them helicopters and we will be supplying them very soon,” Khurshid told reporters accompanying him on a day-long visit to the Afghan city of Kandahar, where he inaugurated an agricultural university built with Indian aid. “We also have been giving them some logistical support and we hopefully will be able to upgrade and refurbish their transport aircraft.”

Khurshid did not specify the number or type of helicopters to be provided to Afghanistan. Nor did he elaborate on transport aircraft contracts.

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Feb 18

David Swanson: US Love of War Based on Myths? More to the Point: Corrupt Choices Defended with Myths

David Swanson

David Swanson

Mythological Basis of Foreign Policy

Is U.S. foreign policy based on myths?

Public pressure has helped push back against a bill in Congress that would have torn up the negotiated agreement with Iran by imposing yet more sanctions on the people of that country. The people of this country are not eager for another war, and have not accepted that sanctions lead away from war rather than into it.

But supporters and opponents of that bill tend to agree that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and that this program must be stopped by one means or another.  This underlying assumption is not supported by any evidence and never has been.  We’ve heard it propounded for over thirty years, and the repetition has had its intended effect, but any evidence at all has always been lacking. A belief without evidence is a myth.

Iran has a nuclear energy program because the U.S. and European governments wanted Iran to have a nuclear energy program. The U.S. nuclear industry took out full-page ads in U.S. publications bragging about Iran’s support for such an enlightened and progressive energy source. The U.S. was pushing for major expansion of Iran’s nuclear program just before the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Since the Iranian revolution, the U.S. government has opposed Iran’s nuclear energy program and misled the public about the existence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.  This story is well-told in Gareth Porter’s new book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, and by Porter is his upcoming interview this week on Talk Nation Radio.

The U.S. assisted Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in a war against Iran in the 1980s, in which Iraq attacked Iran with chemical weapons.  Iran’s religious leaders had declared that chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons must not be used, even in retaliation.  And they were not. Iran could have responded to Iraqi chemical attacks with chemical attacks of its own and chose not to.

Iran is committed to not using or possessing weapons of mass destruction. The results of inspections bear that out. Iran’s willingness to put restrictions on its legal nuclear energy program — a willingness present both before and after sanctions — bears that out. Inspections should continue. All steps should be taken to move the world toward safe and sustainable energy sources. But can we drop the idea that Iran wants to nuke us?

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Feb 10

4th Media: US “Regime Change” Makes US “Great Satan”

4th media croppedUS Dirty Modus Operandi in Middle East: “Regime Change” Everywhere It Can

The 9/11 incident has polarized global politics into two distinct eras: pre-9/11 period and post-9/11 period with the latter wreaking havoc on the entire world, particularly on the Muslim world.

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The pre-9/11 era witnessed terrorism, carnage, and mass murder across the globe on the part of the US government. Their atrocities ranged from the Philippines to Vietnam and Japan and any mentionable places on the planet.

However, the post-9/11 discourse changed drastically. The US emerged as the victim and the entire Muslim world was shown to be the guilty party.

In other words, the post-9/11 era provided the US government with a pretext to wage a war on terror or to put it more precisely, to wage a crusade against the Muslim world and to accelerate and vindicate their efforts in destabilizing regional strategic governments, thereby drawing nigh to their monstrous objectives.

In point of fact, the Muslims are bearing the brunt of a tragedy carefully choreographed by Washington with the express intention of spearheading a sinister agenda in the Middle East which is evidently ‘regime change’ on a massive scale.

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Feb 9

Chuck Spinney: Should US Leave Afghanistan? Is BBC Out of Its Mind? Robert Steele Comments

Chuck Spinney

Chuck Spinney

The attached BBC report/video by John Simpson describing Afghan attitudes toward the US/UK exit struck me as bizarre.  The weight of Simpson’s gist is that most Afghans do not want us to leave.  But the report based most of its information on interviews in Kabul and only a short part (the wobbly part) on the countryside where the vast majority of Afghans live — i.e., Helmand.  Simpson did not mention of Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and the border areas with Pakistan,nor did he mention the western areas like Herat, or the Northern areas.  So I asked an Afghan friend who follows events in Afghanistan closely for his take on this report.  Attached below the video link is my friend’s reaction and a NYT piece with yellow highlights.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25864611

(BBC) The BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson visited Kabul, a city he knows well, to discover what shape Afghan government forces are in and whether the Taliban could take over after UK and American troops leave.
 
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Email from Mr. X 
(a highly educated Afghan — ethnic Pashtun — an expat living in Europe)
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Jan 28

NIGHTWATCH: IAEA Passes Iran Nuclear

Iran: For the record. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report passed to member states that Iran “has ceased enriching uranium above five percent” fissile purity at the Natanz and Fordo facilities. The report also said that Iran was also converting its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium into uranium oxide, a diluted form.

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Jan 21

Robert Ellis: Russia, Iran, and China in Latin America

Evan Ellis

Evan Ellis

I am writing to share with you my new article, “Russia, Iran and China in Latin America,” just published by the American Foreign Policy Committee in their e-journal “Defense Dossier.”  The work comparatively examines the activities of the three extra-regional actors in Latin America and the Caribbean, including ways in which commercial and governmental initiatives by each compliment (and occasionally conflict or compete with) each other.  I emphasize that each actor presents a different type of challenge to US interests in the region, on a different time-scale.

Defense Dossier, December 2013 (pp. 7-10)

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Jan 6

Chuck Spinney: Sharmine Narwani on Middle East Home Grown Security Arc

Chuck Spinney

Chuck Spinney

Attached is a very different analysis of emerging politics in the Middle East.  I do not know what to make of it.  Some of it rings true to me, like the pressures on Turkey to shift gears … but taken together, I just don’t know.  I welcome any comments, pro or con, about it.

I do not know anything about this publication or the writer.  The web site says Al-Akhbar English is based in Lebanon and its editorial aim is to make debates and analyses circulating in Arabic media accessible to English speakers worldwide.  It also says it wants to uphold standards of high journalistic integrity while remaining true the the principles of anti-imperialist struggle, progressive politics, and freedom of expression. If the highlighting and reformatting distraction, the original format can be found at the link.  CS

“Security Arc” forms amidst Mideast terror

By Sharmine Narwani – Sat, 2013-12-21 18:11- Sandbox

Many observers are correct in noting that the Middle East is undergoing yet another seismic shift – that the Russian-brokered destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, a US-Iranian rapprochement, the diminished strategic value of Saudi Arabia and Israel, and a US withdrawal from Afghanistan will all contribute to changing regional dynamics considerably.

security-arc-map.jpg
Map of ‘Security Arc’ by S. Narwani, E. Adaime, A. Amacha

But what is this new direction? Where will it come from, who will lead it, what will define it?

It has now become clear that the new Mideast “direction” is guided primarily by the “security threat” posed by the proliferation of extremist, sectarian, Islamist fighters in numbers unseen even in Afghanistan or Iraq. 

This shared danger has been the impetus behind a flurry of global diplomatic deals that has spawned unexpected cooperation between a diverse mix of nations, many of them adversaries.

These developments come with a unique, post-imperialist twist, though. For the first time in decades, this direction will be led from inside the region, by those Mideast states, groups, sects and parties most threatened by the extremism.

Because nobody else is coming to “save” the Middle East today.

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Dec 31

NIGHTWATCH: Saudi-Funded Wahhabism on the Table as Enemy #1

Syria: President Bashar Asad Monday called for a battle against Wahhabism, the political and religious theology embraced by the Saudi Arabian government that backs the Sunni uprising against his regime.

“President Assad said that extremists and Wahhabi thought distort the real Islam, which is tolerant,” state news agency SANA reported. He underlined the role of men of religion in fighting against Wahhabi thought, which is foreign to our societies, according to Asad.

Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative Muslim tradition, which is predominant in Saudi Arabia and whose intolerant precepts govern Saudi religious, civilian and political life. It is a sect of Sunni Islam, whose leaders profess has no sects.

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Dec 31

Kevin Barrett: Obama Agrees to Bomb Iran – Dropping Bibi & Bachmann, Naked, from a B-52

Kevin Barrett

Kevin Barrett

Obama surrenders to Bibi & Bachmann, will bomb Iran

President Obama has announced that due to the interminable whining, nagging, and complaining from Israeli PM Netanyahu and US Congress clown Michele Bachmann, he has decided to go ahead and bomb Iran with them – despite the P5+1 nuclear agreement.

“Michele Bachmann – I hesitate to use the word ‘Congresswoman’ out of respect for that once-great legislative body – insists that Iran absolutely must be bombed, agreement or no agreement,” Obama said Friday. “Her commander-in-chief, the Israeli Prime Minister, agrees. So just to shut them up, I have decided to launch a really ugly-looking bat-winged Northrop-Grumman B-2 to drop a truly vicious load on the Iranian nuclear facilities at Arak. And I have decided to honor dear Michele and my good friend Bibi by making them an integral part of the mission.”

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Obama has ordered the Strategic Air Command to prepare a place for Netanyahu and Bachmann in the B-2′s bomb bay atop a moth-eaten mattress beside an ice bucket of cheap champagne. The pair will ride in comfort from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri until the aircraft is approaching the Iranian nuclear facility at Arak. As “preparation to launch” orders are issued, the bomb bay doors will open and Netanyahu and Bachmann will be dangled by their heels, stark naked, outside the aircraft. At “launch,” the pair will be released to plummet head first toward strategic targets at the Iranian nuclear site.

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“Nobody since Slim Whitman – I mean, Slim Pickens – has had the privilege of serving as a human bomb on such an important mission,” Obama said. “Bibi and Michele will go down in history beside Bonnie and Clyde, Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather, and other heroic, romantic couples who have sacrificed themselves for their homicidal beliefs. I wish them the best of luck in the afterlife – they’re going to need it.”

After Obama’s surprise announcement, the P5+1 negotiators met in an emergency session to approve Obama’s plan and nominate other Zionists to be dropped out of planes above Iranian nuclear sites.

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Nov 29

Chuck Spinney: Patrick Cockburn Interviews Muqtada al-Sadr on Iraq — Toxic Mix of Sectarianism, Incompetent and Corrupt Government, and Interference by US, UK, and Iran

Chuck Spinney

Chuck Spinney

The United States bears a moral responsibility for the murderous state of affairs in Iraq, but contemporary American grand strategy has become a self-referencing mix of arrogance, narcissism, and exceptionalism; so it is not surprising that most Americans have dismissed Iraq their minds (as they are now dismissing Afghanistan).  Below is an excellent reminder of the situation in Iraq.

Patrick Cockburn, one of the very best journalists now covering conflicts in the Arab World and Central Asia interviews Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the most influential Shia clerics in Iraq and leader of the Mehdi Army, a powerful Shia faction.  Sadr is now a member of the Shia dominated Iraqi government, but he is becoming increasingly alienated from its leader, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Al-Sadr argues that a toxic mix of (1) sectarianism, (2) governmental incompetence and corruption, and (3) external interference by the U.S. and U.K. and Iran is plunging Iraq into an ever-deepening state of chaos, with no light at the end of the tunnel. (Note: I inserted a few clarifying comments in red.)

Chuck Spinney
“The near future of Iraq is dark”
Warning from Muqtada al-Sadr – the Shia cleric whose word is law to millions of his countrymen

In a rare interview at his headquarters in Najaf, he tells Patrick Cockburn of his fears for a nation growing ever more divided on sectarian lines.

The future of Iraq as a united and independent country is endangered by sectarian Shia-Sunni hostility says Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia religious leader whose Mehdi Army militia fought the US and British armies and who remains a powerful figure in Iraqi politics. He warns of the danger that[1] “the Iraqi people will disintegrate, [2] its government will disintegrate, and [3] it will be easy for external powers to control the country”.

In an interview with The Independent in the holy city of Najaf, 100 miles south-west of Baghdad – the first interview Mr Sadr has given face-to-face with a Western journalist for almost 10 years – he expressed pessimism about the immediate prospects for Iraq, saying: “The near future is dark.”

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Nov 29