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Archive for January, 2020

India Made a Big Mistake: Buying an Aircraft Carrier from Russia

India Made a Big Mistake: Buying an Aircraft Carrier from Russia

Kyle Mizokami

The National Interest

Key Point: What could go wrong? Well, everything. 

Like a lot of countries, India wants the best weapons it can afford. But ideological and financial concerns mean there are a lot of things it won’t buy from the United States or Europe. That pretty much leaves, well, Russia.

India has been a big buyer of Russian weapons for 50 years. Those haven’t been easy years for New Delhi. India’s defense contracts with Russia have consistently suffered delays and cost overruns. And the resulting hardware doesn’t always work.

Of all India’s Russian procurement woes, none speak more to the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries than the saga of INS Vikramaditya. In the early 2000s, India went shopping for a new aircraft carrier. What followed was a military-industrial nightmare.

Wanted—one new(ish) carrier

In 1988, the Soviet Union commissioned the aircraft carrier Baku. She and her four sisters of the Kiev class represented a unique Soviet design. The front third resembled a heavy cruiser, with 12 giant SS-N-12 anti-ship missiles, up to 192 surface-to-air missiles and two 100-millimeter deck guns. The remaining two-thirds of the ship was basically an aircraft carrier, with an angled flight deck and a hangar.

Baku briefly served in the Soviet navy until the USSR dissolved in 1991. Russia inherited the vessel, renamed her Admiral Gorshkov and kept her on the rolls of the new Russian navy until 1996. After a boiler room explosion, likely due to a lack of maintenance, Admiral Gorshkov went into mothballs.

In the early 2000s, India faced a dilemma. The Indian navy’s only carrier INS Viraat was set to retire in 2007. Carriers help India assert influence over the Indian Ocean—not to mention, they’re status symbols. New Delhi needed to replace Viraat, and fast.

India’s options were limited. The only countries building carriers at the time—the United States, France and Italy—were building ships too big for India’s checkbook. In 2004, India and Russia struck a deal in which India would receive Admiral Gorshkov. The ship herself would be free, but India would pay $974 million dollars to Russia to upgrade her.

It was an ambitious project. At 44,500 tons, Admiral Gorshkov was a huge ship. Already more than a decade old, she had spent eight years languishing in mothballs. Indifference and Russia’s harsh winters are unkind to idle ships.

Russia would transform the vessel from a helicopter carrier with a partial flight deck to an aircraft carrier with a launch ramp and a flight deck just over 900 feet long. She would be capable of supporting 24 MiG-29K fighters and up to 10 Kamov helicopters.

She would have new radars, new boilers for propulsion, new arrester wires for catching landing aircraft and new deck elevators. All 2,700 rooms and compartments—spread out over 22 decks—would be refurbished and new wiring would be laid throughout the ship. The “new” carrier would be named Vikramaditya, after an ancient Indian king.

A real aircraft carrier for less than a billion dollars sounds almost too good to be true. And it was.

Shakedown

In 2007, just a year before delivery, it became clear that Russia’s Sevmash shipyard couldn’t meet the ambitious deadline. Even worse, the yard demanded more than twice as much money—$2.9 billion in total—to complete the job.

The cost of sea trials alone, originally $27 million, ballooned to a fantastic $550 million.

A year later, with the project still in disarray, Sevmash estimated the carrier to be only 49-percent complete. Even more galling, one Sevmash executive suggested that India should pay an additional $2 billion, citing a “market price” of a brand-new carrier at “between $3 billion and $4 billion.”

Sevmash specialized in submarine construction and had never worked on an aircraft carrier before. The ship had been originally built at the Nikolayev Shipyards, which after the breakup of the Soviet Union became part of the Ukraine. The tooling and specialized equipment used to build Admiral Gorshkov was thousands of miles away and now in a foreign country.

Like many contractors, defense or otherwise, Sevmash had its unhappy employer over a barrel. With the job halfway done, and having already dropped $974 million, India could not afford to walk away from the deal. Russia knew it, and was blunt about India’s options. “If India does not pay up, we will keep the aircraft carrier,” one defense ministry official told RIA-Novosti.

‘There will be grave consequences’

By 2009, the project was deadlocked and word was starting to get around the defense industry. Russian arms exports for 2009 totaled $8 billion, and Sevmash’s delays and extortionary tactics weren’t good for the Russian defense industry as a whole.

In July 2009, Russia’s then-president Dmitri Medvedev made a high-profile visit to the Sevmash shipyard. Indian news reported that the carrier was still half-done, meaning that the yard had done virtually no work on the ship for two years as it held out for more money.

Medvedev publicly scolded Sevmash officials. “You need to complete [Vikramaditya] and hand it over our partners,” the visibly irritated president told Sevmash general director Nikolai Kalistratov.

In 2010, the Indian government agreed to more than double the budget for the carrier to $2.2 billion. This was less than the $2.9 billion Sevmash demanded, and much less than Sevmash’s suggested “market price” of $4 billion.

Suddenly, Sevmash magically started working harder—actually, twice as hard—and finished the other half of the upgrades in only three years. Vikramaditya finally entered sea trials in August 2012 and commissioned into the Indian navy in November 2013.

At the commissioning ceremony, Indian Defense Minister AK Anthony expressed relief that the ordeal was over, telling the press that there was a time “when we thought we would never get her.”

Enduring woes

Now that Vikramaditya is finally in service, India’s problems are over, right? Not by a long shot. Incredibly, India has chosen Sevmash to do out-of-warranty work on the ship for the next 20 years.

Keeping Vikramaditya supplied with spare parts will be a major task in itself. Ten Indian contractors helped to build the carrier, but so did more than 200 other contractors in Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Finland, France, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the U.K. Some countries, particularly Japan, were likely unaware they were exporting parts for a foreign weapons system.

The ship’s boilers, which provide Vikramaditya with power and propulsion, are a long-term concern. All eight boilers are new. But yard workers discovered defects in them. During her trip from Russia to India, the flattop suffered a boiler breakdown, which Sevmash chalked up to poor-quality Chinese firebricks.

China denied ever exporting the firebricks.

Finally, Vikramaditya lacks active air defenses. The ship has chaff and flare systems to lure away anti-ship missiles, but she doesn’t have any close-in weapons systems like the American Phalanx.

India could install local versions of the Russian AK-630 gun system, but missiles will have to wait until the ship is in drydock again—and that could be up to three years from now. In the meantime, Vikramaditya will have to rely on the new Indian air-defense destroyer INS Kolkata for protection from aircraft and missiles.

As for Sevmash? After the Vikramaditya fiasco, the yard is strangely upbeat about building more carriers … and has identified Brazil as a possible buyer. “Sevmash wants to build aircraft carriers,” said Sergey Novoselov, the yard’s deputy general director.

This article by Kyle Mizokami originally appeared back in 2014.

Image: Wikimedia.

Read the original article.

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Indian Republic Day: Every Day is Black Day for Kashmiris By Sajjad Shaukat

                          

 

Every year, 26th of January, is being celebrated by India as the Republic Day while, the day is being observed by the Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and all over the world, including their Pakistani brethren as the Black Day in protest against Indian illegal occupation of Kashmir.

 

This time, this very day has come at a time when almost six months have been passed. But, Indian forces have continued lockdown and curfew in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). More restrictions have been imposed in the wake of shortage of foods and even medicines for the patients. In order to hide human rights violations, communication services (Especially Internet) have been cut off from the world and foreign journalists are not allowed to enter that region.

 

 

 

 

 

Indian forces have broken all previous records of gross human rights abuses since August 5, 2019, when Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ended the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir by abolishing articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution to turn Muslim majority into a minority in the Indian Controlled Kashmir. While, Indian fanatic rulers are also escalating tensions with Pakistan to divert attention from the drastic situation of the Indian Held Kashmir, and have continued shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement in relation to the LoC. Besides, implementing the August 5 announcement, the Indian central government issued a notorious map on October 31, 2019. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir were bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

 

However, during the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India.

 

The design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority Muslim area to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. There was a rebellion in the state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. Lord Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar. Indian forces invaded Srinagar on October 27, 1947, and forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir in utter violation of the partition plan and against the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

 

When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire which ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. The Security Council adopted resolution 47 (1948) of 21 April 21, 1948, which promised a plebiscite under UN auspices to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding a plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an integral part of the Indian union.

The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination. They organised themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation which New Delhi tried to suppress through various forms of state terrorism.

 

Passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between the Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters keeps ongoing unabated.

 

It is notable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations. In this regard, as already mentioned that India forcibly occupied Kashmir in gross violation of the “Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent, but, through the so-called-Instrument of Accession of October 27, 1947, which is illegal, and remains controversial, New Delhi justifies its hold on the Kashmir.

 

Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.

 

In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period. Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces”.

 

In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has, in turn, facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”

 

In this respect, European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.

 

It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this context, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves.

Foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters, including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW. In the recent past, more unmarked graves have been discovered.

 

It is worth-mentioning that report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released on June 14, 2018-“Situation in Kashmir” pointed out Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). It said: “From July 2016, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has on numerous occasions requested the Governments of India and Pakistan that his Office be given unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. India rejected this request; while Pakistan offered access…The refusal to allow unhindered access to United Nations team into Indian-Administered-Kashmir gave rise to an idea of “Remote Monitoring”. The report was then compiled by doing “remote monitoring” on the situation of Human Rights in Kashmir. The report by the independent authority is an eye-opener for many. The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018. During this period ‘OHCHR’ received reports of allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties.

 

Besides, Indian fanatic rulers also started implementing the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), passed by the Indian Parliament. The CAA (The National Register of Citizenship) is against the Muslim immigrants especially from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Despite criticism of the rights groups, foreign leaders, the UNO and moderate Hindus in wake of violent protests across India, Modi-led government has not withdrawn the CAA/NRC.

 

Notably, in the World Report 2020, Human Rights Watch said on January 14, this year, “The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Indian government’s actions over the past year [2019] have caused enormous suffering and rights violations…its unilateral revocation of Kashmir’s special constitutional status and the use of draconian laws to silence criticism…The Indian government has tried to shut down Kashmir, hiding the full extent of the harm caused there,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch…The Indian government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, failed to properly enforce Supreme Court directives to prevent and investigate mob attacks, often led by BJP supporters, on religious minorities and other vulnerable communities…Muslims were also beaten and forced to chant Hindu slogans…India’s recent moves to implement a citizenship verification nationwide, including fast-tracking citizenship [even] for non-Muslims who migrated from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2015 as highly exclusionary…National Register of Citizens across the country…list excluded nearly two million people, many of them Muslims, including many who have lived in India for years…verifications in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner that risked leaving millions virtually stateless.”

 

Especially, in his address at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on September 27, 2019: “Modi’s entire election campaign revolved around an anti-Pakistan narrative…Illegally, they [India] revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status…they put eight million people under curfew…what RSS is. Modi is a life member [of RSS]…It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race…They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims…[Nearly] 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination. Eleven thousand women were raped….The world hasn’t done anything…After the curfew is lifted…What is going to happen will be a blood bath. The people will come out in the streets…The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns…What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims?…. What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck…Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms…Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam…. You are forcing people into radicalization…Two nuclear countries will come face to face. If a conventional war starts between the two countries…When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders”.

 

In his third meeting with the US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of World Economic Forum in Davos on January 21, 2020, Prime Minister Khan has once again expressed his desire for mediation by the US on the Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India by remarking: “Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to play its part in de-escalating the tensions because no other country can.” In response, President Trump once again stated: “We’re talking about Kashmir…if we can help, we certainly will be helping. We’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely.”

 

Meanwhile, Indian extremist Prime Minister Modi’s government led by the extremist party BJP is propagating that there is a strong likelihood of a major terrorist attack from Pakistan in India.  In fact, such a fake drama India, itself, will arrange to implicate Pakistan in order to divert the attention from the perennial military clampdown in the IOK. India’s preplanned drama to involve Islamabad has been exposed even by Indian media on January 12, this year. But, despite it, Indian fundamental rulers can implement their scheme of false flag operation, as Pakistan’s civil and military leaders have repeatedly warned the international community about it. In this connection, Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint.

 

Nonetheless, by exposing the myth of Indian claim of the largest democracy-26th of January which is celebrated as the Indian Republic Day is being the observed by the Kashmiris, living on both sides of the LoC, Pakistanis and Kashmiris across the globe as the Black Day to express solidarity with the freedom fighters of Kashmir, demanding their legitimate right of self-determination. In terms of Indian continued lockdown and crackdown in the IOK, every day has become Black Day for Kashmiris.

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

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

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We the People, We the Humanity are Victims of Political Insanity  Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.

 

We the People, We the Humanity are Victims of Political Insanity

 Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.

“We have let the government’s evil-doing, its abuses, power grabs, brutality, meanness, inhumanity, immorality, greed, corruption, debauchery and tyranny go on for too long. We are approaching a reckoning. This is the point, as the poet W. B. Yeats warned when things fall apart and anarchy is loosed upon the world.”  John W. Whitehead “Monsters with Human Faces: The Tyranny of the Police State Disguised as Law-and-Order.” Information Clearing House: 7/25/2019

 

Democracy of Inhumanity and We, the People of Global Consciousness

 

In a synoptic view, global leaders professing to be wise and smart for being elected, turned out to be naïve, unthinkable and egoistically foolish. Once elected under the so-called democracy, they focus their minds on how to get reelected and how to continue tragic normality of abnormality against the masses that elected them. Agreeably, in the 21st-century knowledge-based political affairs require true and effective leadership having a comprehensive sense of human rights, dignity, kindness towards fellow human beings and versatile understanding of navigational change when facts of political life warrant a change. Most contemporary leaders of the world appear to rejoice self-centred evil-mongering, not wisdom and truth of people-oriented political systems of governance. Ideas and ideals that defy reasoning and truth are gushingly operative in aerial bombing of the innocents in Syria, killings of protesters in Iraq, India, Egypt, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Kashmir, Yemen, Libya and not to mention of the large scale civilian displacements of refugees sheltered in Western European nations, Turkey and Lebanon out of bloodbath in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and forcibly evicted Rohinga Muslims from Myanmar (Burma).

 

The end picture of 2019 is not peace, harmony and global unity on these critical issues. These trends represent sadistic tendencies in democratic norms and the system of politics without any accountability and remedial action. Fear of the masses and hatred appears to be ingrained in the mental microscope of many political leaders. All authoritarian political leaders lack the imagination of moral and intellectual traits that should have been at the core of effective leadership. Be it the UNO-the chief organ of global peace and security or the US, Russia and other EU nations, the sense of reality is missing in policies and practices. Millions and millions are bombed, charcoaled by chemical attacks, civilian unprotected by the Geneva Conventions, and the noble intents of the UN Charter, The US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights- all sound like an insult to the “Common Sense” and to human intellect and political observations. When phoney leaders fail to live up to the standards of morality and civilizations, they sink into vindictiveness of insanity, irrational behaviours and create political chaos and problems to keep the masses occupied in naive politics. Jesus is quoted in the Bible saying: “ If the world hates you, you know it hated me before it hated you…if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” How do We, the People of Human Conscience make these ugly and disingenuous politicians to learn from history and change the course of events into peace and harmony with the masses all over the globe?

 

 Is the UNO Meant to Protect Mankind from the “scourge of wars”?

 

Despite the UNO and the global institutions of peace and security, We the People, We, the Humanity is strangulated by the well-planned warfare against our existence and survival on this planet.  The perversion goes on unchallenged for long in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Kashmir. To discard the indifference and insanity of the global leadership toward human protection and survivability, all concerned global citizens must think to avert the ultimate impending cataclysmic destruction of mankind and the Planet Earth.  In all wars, mankind is the net victim of cruel acts of few warmongers. The news media plays a pivotal role in manufacturing and transforming unspoken myths into thinkable notions in situations of unusual emergencies and societal conflicts.  Despite the knowledge and advanced intelligence networks, the industrialized nations fail to find workable protective measures from societal upheavals and extremism.  Everywhere mankind is victimized by the unknown consequences of the few sadistic egoistic leaders, be it in Syria, Iraq, Bolivia, Kashmir, Chile, Palestine, India, Venzulvala, Egypt and elsewhere.

 

Did the UNO or the international community realize the immediacy of the critical humanitarian crisis and daily bloodbath going-on in Syria, Iraq, South America, Yemen and elsewhere?  Was that reality transformed into a living consciousness transcending momentarily the self-actualization for the collective goodness of global humanity?

 

 

 

 

Pakistan. England

 

 

Living with fear and hatred drains out all the rational human thinking for life and whatever values and concepts it claims for human rights, civility and future. The long shadows of deaths and destruction of the human habitats daily converge on the tv screen showing several thousand displaced refugees moving from nowhere to nowhere. The UNO, it is Security Council and the global humanity (if there is such a living entity) were supposed to prevent the forcible massacre of the innocent civilians and extend some sense of concerned humanity to the victims. Not, so, it is a routine of aerial bombardments, deaths and displacement of people. Are We, the People, We the Humanity that ignorant, that blindfolded not to realize what is happening in our surrounding?  Was it not the same historic reality that led to the Two World Wars by the few against many?

 

 

Ignorance and Arrogance is Destroying Mankind

 

We, mankind live on One Planet, whether you believe it or not, We are One Humanity. Looking critically at the 21st-century global geo-political affairs, it appears as if man and humanity and all the working notions of thinking and actions are at crossroads in search of peace, harmony, security and sustainable future. To imagine a common mathematical orderly manifestation, it is incumbent to have sustainable co-existence and harmonious collaboration between all the converging factors to emulate the end purpose for the good of all mankind.

 

 

Today, President Trump announced to set-up a “Space Force” – a galactic force to ensure American security in space. Have these leaders solved any humanitarian problems on Earth? What rational criterion is implied to move the fear and hatred from the Earth to Space?   From Planet Earth to the outer space, people are wired with unknown secretive and sophisticated weapons – the ticking time bombs of scientists and space experts.  Man and ignorance continue to intervene and change the Nature of THINGS operative within the living Universe – why is it that Man cannot co-exist with Man on Earth – the Living Earth?

 

The UNO and the World Order –  the Lost Reality of Mankind

 

Since its inception, the UNO is viewed by the global humanity as an institution to “protect the mankind from the scourge of war” by evolving and implementing a systematic approach to crisis analysis, conflict prevention and to ensure the security of the global governance and peaceful future for the humanity. Its major organ –The Security Council is seen as a body of systematic mechanism to deal with global issues of peace, security and prevention of war while facilitating the necessary framework through diplomacy, laws, procedures and directives based on the UNO Charter. Often the members of the Council fail to define their own role and responsibilities toward global humanity. Most often, they disagree with their own perceptions, statements and values during the deliberations.

 

 

The survival of the deprived humanity, the United Nations, international peace and harmony are everybody’s concern and priorities. Throughout the world, the educated and responsible intellectuals must address the question: how to develop a New Global Institution of functional relevance and credibility?  As members of One Global Humanity, we must think about how to construct a New World Organization accountable to humanity, and not to the nation-states?  How could the UN be freed from the clutches of the so-called superpowers? How voices of reason and honesty be heard at the forums of the international organization? How the 21st century’s challenges be met with innovation, responsible and timely governance and concrete responses to crises across the globe? How human rights, human dignity, peace and security be assured to the concerned mankind? How mankind – the global community must be represented in all of the participatory deliberations of the new global institutions?

 

 

Could We, the People and We the Humanity be optimistic for the coming of 2020?

Unless the elite and corrupt systems of so called democracy change, there is no hope of any formidable political change for the next year. Learning from the unpleasant facts and making changes in perceptions, policies and strategic direction is a rational choice to intelligent leadership. We do need men of new ideas and creative strategies to safeguard the future of mankind from ignorance and arrogance of fellow men. One could propose a workable diagnose to the bewildered global leadership’s mindset if the leaders could be sent on a space voyage to see the Planet Earth as-is from the above and try to understand its operational existence – who is governing the universe – what Majestic Power facilitates all that is essential for life and growth;  how the earth rotates against the sun, how the water, seas, mountains stand in obedience to their Creator – the Lord of the World- the Creator of life and death; how the universe and human species are connected together and the imperatives of living in co-existence with the rest of mankind. Perhaps, such an exploratory visit to space will help to melt down some of their inborn arrogance, indifference and cruelty to the fellow human beings. The outcome could produce human optimism and pave the conducive opportunities and means for peacemaking and co-existence. Indeed, leadership adaptability to change in democracy is a mark of intelligence and responsibility.

 

 

 

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The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof) Lee Camp

Editor’s Note-Some bad language is used in this article but it illustrates the authors’ depth of feelings.

The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof)

Bombs have numbers. Humans have names. Our American military boasts skill and passion for using numbers to turn names into yet more numbers. But these numbers have grown so gargantuan and out of control that one struggles to comprehend them.

In just 10 months in 2018—the latest numbers made available—our military dropped 5,982 munitions on Afghanistan, turning many thinking, living and loving names into cold, lifeless numbers. Throughout the war, 43,000 Afghan civilians have been numbered. We, as Americans, essentially never even notice when it happens. Statistically speaking, it will happen again many times today, and no one in America will care. (At least not while the game is on.)

64,000 Afghan security forces have been numbered since 2001.

Our government has known for years that the war in Afghanistan is a jaw-dropping disaster on the level of “Cats”: the movie. How do we know they knew? The Washington Post just published some impressive reporting, taking a step back from its lust for pro-war propaganda. (The last time it achieved such a feat was during the O.J. Simpson trial. The first one. The one with the glove.) The Post unearthed a trove of thousands of internal government documents that expose the catastrophic war. And it turns out there are Tinder dates between a young neo-Nazi and an old Jewish lady that have gone better than this war.

[The document trove] reveals that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” the paper reported.

Let me translate The Washington Post’s fancy-pants language: U.S. officials didn’t “fail to tell the truth”; they fucking lied. The phrase “failed to tell the truth” oozes around the brain’s neural pathways, strategically dodging the anger receptors. “Failed to tell the truth” sounds like veracity is a slippery fish U.S. officials just couldn’t catch.

424 humanitarian aid workers have been numbered.

Let’s take a moment to consider the motivations and goals of the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. ostensibly invaded the country to stop al-Qaida from attacking us in any way, namely by flying large planes into our buildings. We achieved this goal within the first couple of months. With al-Qaida essentially decimated, it seems logical that we should have left the country, reserving the right to return if any other big passenger aeroplanes came after us.

But we didn’t leave. We never leave. Rule No. 1 of the American empire is “Never Truly Leave a Country After Invading.” To explain our continued presence, we had to move the goal post. To what? We weren’t sure. We’re still not sure. Nearly 20 years later, if you ask a U.S. general or president (any of them) what the goal is in Afghanistan, they’ll feed you a word salad so large it’ll keep you regular for months. We now know that even during some of the earliest years of the war, the Pentagon and the Bush administration didn’t know who the bad guys were. (Right now you’re thinking it’s rather juvenile and uninformed of me to refer to enemy forces as “bad guys,” but, as you’ll see in a moment, our government spoke about them in those terms. Side note: This is because murderous rampages by war criminals are always juvenile. Murder, by definition, is unevolved.)

According to the Post’s Afghanistan Papers, an unnamed former adviser to an Army Special Forces team said, “They thought I was going to come to them with a map to show them where the good guys and bad guys live. It took several conversations—[a]t first, they just kept asking: ‘But who are the bad guys, where are they?’ 

Yet we Americans were instructed in the early years that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had everything under control. To imply otherwise was to make a mockery of tens of millions of yellow ribbons. But in reality, Rumsfeld, too, had a sizable bad-guy problem.

I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” he said behind closed, locked, soundproof doors. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld publicly and boldly led the nation in a well-defined and decisive victory in the land of the Afghans.

In 2003, he said, during a press conference alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, “General Franks and I … have concluded that we’re at a point where we have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.”

Yep, no more major combat—just 17 years of reconstruction (and activities). Most U.S.-backed “reconstruction” is done from the air, via bombs. Let that be a lesson to you, the rest of the world: You better not screw with us or we’ll reconstruct you and your whole family!

67 journalists have been reconstructed during the war in Afghanistan.

Are two decades too long for an utter, unmitigated disaster? Maybe we can stretch it to three? We’ve been funding warlords and extremist jihadis and hoping they will play nice. Yet American presidents have continually told us we’re making progress. “Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as Afghanistan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015, ‘What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.’ 

I imagine that quote particularly upsets many Americans because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s having a foggy idea of what we’re doing.

Vietnam: foggy idea.

Iraq: very strong foggy idea.

Libya: one hell of a foggy idea.

Unfettered capitalism: the foggiest idea.

To put it simply, we are the best at bad ideas. But these Afghanistan Papers unveil a pretty terrible picture. One we need to confront as a nation and not just sweep under the rug (and not just because the rug would have to be the size of the Pacific Rim).

Upon hearing these revelations, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did his best impersonation of someone who gives a shit. He said:

A bombshell series of investigative reports from The Washington Post exposing heartbreaking truths about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which has claimed some 2,400 U.S. lives and cost nearly a trillion dollars. The Post says … officials routinely lied to the American people about the war. … This is truly a bombshell.

Yes, it’s a bombshell—although much of the information in the Afghanistan Papers has been known for a decade or more. Back in 2012, I was doing poorly written standup comedy bits about how our government-funded both sides of the war in Afghanistan. This goes to show that the mainstream media has two priorities—one is to spout the U.S. government’s talking points, and the other is to distract us all from the whitewashing of history.

 

 

 

 

 

They help Americans believe that we just found out about the failures in Afghanistan; that we just started McCarthyism, and it didn’t happen before in the 1950s to horrific consequences; that we just now discovered the breathtaking environmental consequences of factory farming. (I’m kidding—corporate media will never report on that. You could have a CNN anchor tied up in a sack in Gitmo, and he would still refuse to admit factory animal farming is killing the planet at an aggressive pace.)

But Blitzer wasn’t content pretending to be shocked that the Afghanistan War isn’t going well, so he put his acting chops to the test by further postulating that there also might be flaws with the war in Iraq. He said, “I can only imagine and brace for a similar report about the long U.S. war in Iraq as well. I suspect that could be some horrifying news as far as that is concerned also.”

That’s right: As of last month, Blitzer thinks there might be some problems with the war(s) in Iraq. (Blitzer strikes me as the type of guy who wouldn’t notice if you stole his pants off him in negative-10-degree weather.) Yes, Wolf, not only has there been similar mismanagement and mass war crimes committed in our invasion of Iraq, but you helped manufacture consent for that war as well. You are complicit in the deaths of millions of people who will never come back from the enumeration.

Throughout the past 20 years, the mainstream media reiterated the lies told by our various presidents. They beat those lies into our heads with impressive frequency. Lies like those told by President Obama, when, in 2012, he said on national television: “Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. … Our troops will be coming home. … As our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thrilled for the war to be over in 2014—whenever 2014 may come.

3,800 contractors have died in Afghanistan for these lies.

The Afghanistan Papers show that not only has the 20-year war been wasteful of human life, it’s also been wasteful of money. Of course, this is the point when you think, “The military— wasteful?! Well, paint my nipples and call me Phyllis Diller; that’s the damnedest thing I ever did hear!”

Yes, this is hardly shocking, since $21 trillion has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon over the past 20 years. That’s two-thirds of the amount of money wrapped up in the entire stock market. Money has been flowing into Afghanistan so fast that officials aren’t even able to waste it quick enough! (I wish that were a joke.)

From the Post’s report, again: “One executive at USAID guessed that 90 per cent of what they spent was overkill: ‘We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.’ … One contractor said he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a US county.”

The contractor said he couldn’t conceive of how to spend $3 million a day for people living in mud huts. Well, I guess USAID should start handing out furniture built out of blocks of shrink-wrapped hundred-dollar notes. Maybe fill bean bag chairs with small bills. (If you aren’t yet outraged enough, please keep in mind that, according to The New York Times, adjusting for today’s dollars, it would take less than eight days of the Pentagon’s stated budget to give the entire world clean water for a year, thereby saving millions of lives and turning the U.S. into the most beloved nation on earth.)

But rather than accept our corruption and war profiteering, our military placed the blame squarely on the Afghan people. Per The Washington Post, “The U.S. military also accused Afghan commanders of pocketing salaries—paid by U.S. taxpayers—for tens of thousands of ‘ghost soldiers.’ 

Although ghost soldiers sound like an incredible and tough-to-defeat resource, I think they meant the Afghan commanders claimed they had a certain number of soldiers, but most weren’t real. So America can’t fund the health care of our goddamn real soldiers who get home and wait in line for months to secure any semblance of care, but we can fund ghost soldiers half a world away?!

Donald Trump just cut food stamps to 700,000 people, impacting more than a million children, but we’re funding fucking ghosts? Maybe we could start a campaign asking the ghost soldiers to donate some of their suppers to the starving kids of America.

Ghosts seem to be an ongoing difficulty for the U.S. In the same issue of The Washington Post containing the Afghanistan Papers, there was an unrelated article titled, “The U.S. Wasted Millions on Charter Schools” that said, “A report found that [during the Obama Administration] 537 ‘ghost schools’ in America never opened but received more than $45.5 million in federal start-up funding.”

We’re funding ghost schools and ghost soldiers, and almost nobody in our government seems to give a shit! I guess you could say they give a ghost shit—it’s not there.

Yet the problems in our forever war don’t stop at the walking dead. The Post says, “The US has spent $9 billion to fight the problem [of opium] over the past 18 years, but Afghan farmers are cultivating more opium poppies than ever. Last year, Afghanistan was responsible for 82 per cent of global opium production.”

But what The Washington Post doesn’t tell you is that a lot of that opium was for use inside the U.S., to fuel our opioid epidemic.

An American becomes a number every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose.

So how does our government respond when revelations like the Afghanistan Papers come out? A few senators pause in the middle of their T-bone steaks and red wine to say, “This needs to be looked into, I daresay.” But then a few days pass and they just give the Pentagon more money to sink into a black hole.

The spending bill just passed by Congress sends $738 billion to the Pentagon. And, as RootsAction stated, it contains “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy. It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump.”

To put it mildly, asking the Democrats to stand up against endless war is like asking Anne Hathaway to bench-press a Chevy Tahoe. It’s not going to happen, and she has no interest in even trying.

42,000 Taliban and insurgents have been numbered.

That may sound like a successful war to some, but keep in mind that the U.S. military likes to categorize anyone it kills “an insurgent.” The Pentagon goes by the theory that if it kills you, then you’re an insurgent—because if you weren’t an insurgent, then why did it kill you? A great many of the 42,000 were truly innocent civilians.

If there’s one thing we should learn from the Afghanistan Papers, which the mainstream corporate media have already ceased talking about, it’s that ending these immoral, illegal, repulsive wars cannot be left to our breathtakingly incompetent and corrupt ruling elite, who have probably been lying to us about them for decades. So it’s up to you and me to stop them.

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Pakistan: The Battle Lines Stand Drawn…. Saeed A.Malik

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