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Imran Khan’s visit to the USA by Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Imran Khan’s visit to the USA

Asif Haroon Raja

Trump’s Double faced policy against Pakistan

 

 

 

 

 

Double Faced Trump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump has been maintaining a highly belligerent posture against Pakistan as was evident from his policy on Afghanistan and on South Asia and his random statements accusing Pakistan of harbouring Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban and holding it responsible for the instability in Afghanistan.

On the one hand, Pakistan is accused of sheltering and supporting Afghan militant groups, and on the other hand, USA is in parleys with them since last year and beseeching them to a ceasefire and end the war. Pakistan is pressed to bring them to the negotiating table.

Trump administration has been openly siding with the Narendra Modi regime as was evident in Pulwama incident and the events that took place in the aftermath. Besides suspending the Close Support Fund (CSF) and military cooperation, the US has hung the swords of FATF and IMF to add to the economic woes of Pakistan, which is caught in a deadly debt trap. 

Stick and Carrot Policy

In the ongoing war on terror, the US civil and military leaders have been using the stick against Pakistan viciously and dangling few carrots to entice Pakistan to keep doing more. This policy is evident from the series of harsh statements made by US military commanders operating in Afghanistan, CENTCOM Commander and Pentagon, and in the same breath eulogizing role of Pakistan Army in the war.

In line with this wicked policy, Pentagon recently expressed its desire to maintain strong military-to-military ties with Pakistan due to shared interests. This policy statement has been made in the wake of the visit of PM Imran Khan (IK) to Washington this month.

History of Pak-US Military Ties

Peeping into past, Pentagon and GHQ have maintained cordial ties right from the days of Ayub Khan’s rule despite hiccups in a government-to-government relationship which suffered from ups and downs.

Military ties nose-dived in 2011 on account of Raymond Davis incident in January, followed by stealth helicopter attack in Abbottabad in May, Memogate scandal in October and finally the Apache gunship helicopters attack military posts in Mohmand agency in November.  The last act forced GHQ to sever all military and intelligence cooperation with the USA as well as stoppage of NATO supplies. This non-cooperation remained enforced till Washington apologized in July 2012 and supply routes were re-opened. But the level of distrust didn’t decrease. India and puppet regime in Kabul kept widening the mistrust.

Distrust was a result of an accumulation of a series of prejudicial acts of USA in the war on terror. While it bestowed favours and rewards to India and Afghanistan generously, it remained tight-fisted towards Pakistan and whatever it doled out in the form of grants and loans were tied to the condition of doing more.  While the wrong acts of India and Afghanistan were looked the other way, or defended or condoned, in case of Pakistan, it was blamed for every trouble in the two countries as well as in Occupied Kashmir. It could never furnish a shred of evidence to corroborate its accusations.

The reason behind the USA’s Biased Approach

The reason for this biased approach is that the US military, as well as the US governments whether of Republicans or Democrats, have always been closer to India than Pakistan even when India was a camp follower of former USSR and Pakistan was the most allied ally of USA.

Pakistan was initially taken on board in 1954 when India and Afghanistan refused to become part of the defensive arc meant to contain communism in South Asia and the Middle East. Pakistan suffered after joining western pacts since it earned the animosity of many countries. Above all, the pacts couldn’t save Pakistan from getting bifurcated in 1971.

Next time, Pakistan’s need was felt by the USA in the 1980s to support the Afghan Mujahideen in the war against the Soviet forces. Once all its objectives were achieved without deploying a single soldier, Pakistan was discarded and put under sanctions and its arch-rival India befriended.

Pakistan was once more taken on board after 9/11 to fight the US war on terror after giving repeated assurances that wrongs of the past will be atoned by building a relationship on the basis of mutual respect and understanding. Those were false promises; Pakistan was again duped and snared.

USA, India and puppet regime in Kabul supported by NATO and Israel became strategic partners and made plans to denuclearize Pakistan and make it a compliant state using indirect strategy.   

Under the garb of friendship and puny monetary benefits, Pakistan was systematically bled through paid proxies and drones, and discredited through false accusations, false flag operations and media war.

Throughout the 18-year war, Pakistan has been given a raw deal. The reason is that Pakistan besides being a Muslim State, it is a nuclear power with strong armed forces, it is closely aligned with the US main rival China, and in collaboration with China is building CPEC. Full operationalization of CPEC will change the whole complexion of geo-economics in the region, beneficial to China and Pakistan, and detrimental to USA and India. Pakistan refuses to accept Indian hegemony in South Asia and to become an influential player in Afghanistan.

Conversely, India is a strategic partner of the USA since 1990. The US has desired that India should fill the vacuum in Afghanistan after its departure, act as a bulwark against China, and become a policeman of the Indo-Pacific region.

With these aims and objectives, India is promoted and glorified, while Pakistan which doesn’t fit into the US calculus is undermined and discredited. Successive administrations of George Bush, Obama and Trump adopted an inimical policy.

Pentagon and CIA play a main role in colouring the perceptions of White House, State Department and the Congress. Jewish and Indian lobbies in the USA also have a big hand in keeping Pakistan in bad books of USA.        

In the backdrop of too many divergences and too few convergences in Pak-US relations, there is little room for shared interests as stated recently.

The only pin which is keeping the US attached to Pakistan is Afghanistan, where the US has got badly stuck and finds itself cornered and bereft of strategy how to fight and win or to exit safely.

Pakistan becomes relevant since it is the only country which is placed at an advantageous position at this critical juncture. It is relatively better poised to exert influence over the Taliban and to arrange safe and honourable passage of the occupying forces.

Since the US is desperate to pull out at the earliest, and also hope for a friendly regime in Kabul, it has still not abandoned Pakistan. The day Pakistan loses its relevance and becomes a redundant player in Afghan imbroglio, Washington will ditch Pakistan as it had done in 1990.

Changed Realities

The US is well aware of the changed ground realities.

It is no more as powerful as it was in 2001.

Russia has resurged and China is at the verge of becoming the leading economic power.

Taliban are closer to the victory stand and are no more isolated and shunned.

Taliban have gained superiority of orientation on the battlefield due to which they are happily placed to negotiate from a position of strength.

Taliban have garnered military support from Russia and Iran, and diplomatic support of China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and Germany.

Afghan Unity Government and 350,000 ANSF have become liabilities for the USA.

In all probability, US troops will be pulled out by end of 2020.

Syria is another theatre where the USA is most likely to suffer humiliation after it pulls out its forces.

India has failed to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program or overawe it.

Pakistan’s missile and nuclear capabilities have vastly improved and can keep India deterred.

Pakistan is the only country which has produced spectacular results against terrorism despite heavy odds while all others failed.

The US is also aware of Pakistan’s sense of disillusionment and its inclination to get closer to Russia.  

The USA is in a Dilemma

On one hand, it is stuck in Afghanistan and is entreating the Taliban to ceasefire and help in ending the 18-year war. On the other hand, it is confronted by defiant Iran in the Persian Gulf where no Arab country is prepared to send its ground forces or to provide a land route to US-NATO forces for fear of Iran’s retaliation.

The US needs Pakistan’s help on both fronts since more recently, Pak-Iran relations have taken a dramatic turn for the better, which is much to the discomfort of US, KSA and India.

Pakistan’s Significance

The prospect of losing influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia completely is giving nightmares to policymakers in Washington. They have belatedly realized that Pakistan is the only country which besides helping in finalizing a political settlement with the Taliban and in arranging safe exit, it can act as the bridge for the USA to gain access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.  

It is in context with these hard realities that the US has once again been forced to lean on Pakistan and of late has been giving friendly signals. However, the USA’s overall negative mindset and habit of betrayal must not be ignored. There will be more ‘takes’ and very little ‘gives’.  

Trump Administration’s Doubts and Punitive Acts

Poisoned by Kabul and New Delhi, Washington strongly feels that Pakistan is playing a double game and is the main source of strength for the Taliban.

In order to force Pakistan to play the US game, it has embroiled Pakistan in a hybrid war in addition to covert war and is now taking steps to haemorrhage Pakistan’s economy which is already in dire strait.

For that purpose, it is using the swords of FATF and IMF in unison.

First tranche of the IMF bailout package of $6 billion spread over three years was released only after Pakistan fulfilled the demands of IMF which included changing the whole economic team, heavy devaluation of Pak Rupee, keeping the currency floating, more taxes, increase in prices of electricity, gas, petrol, foodstuff and reduction in subsidies.     

While Pakistan is making desperate efforts to get itself shifted from grey to white list by FATF by fulfilling genuine and false demands, India and anti-Pakistan lobbies in the USA have been making efforts to blacklist Pakistan, which will be a step closer to getting Pakistan declared a terror abetting state.   

IK Visiting USA under Unsavory Conditions

IK is embarking upon his maiden visit to Washington on July 21 at a time when Pak-US relations are unsavoury. With restive home front owing to political instability, an economy in doldrums, accountability not making any headway, traders’ strikes, the release of a scandalous video by PML-N, and explosive external front, IK might not be at ease to indulge in hard talk with Trump.

PM Imran Khan should be deriving a measure of solace that Trump himself is stuck in a bigger mess!

The Pakistani nation is looking forward to the 45 minute face-to-face talk between IK-Trump on July 22. Will IK get swayed by the magic spell of the USA like his predecessors, or negotiate like Quaid-e-Azam?  

Gestures Shown by Both Sides

Both sides have taken some preliminary steps to ease tensions and to create a conducive environment for the visit which has assumed great importance. The two sides are hoping that this meeting will help in altering distrust into trust and restoring friendly ties.

Pakistan has helped in making some headway in the 7th round of peace talks between the Taliban and USA at Doha. Intra-Afghan meeting at Bhurban last month and participation of all Afghan factions in a 2-day summit at Doha are positive developments.

As a favour to Ashraf Ghani, Pakistan is pressing the Taliban to hold direct talks with the Afghan regime and is also wanting them to a ceasefire and stop the violence.

It is also meeting several demands of FATF to avoid getting blacklisted.

Despite India’s negativity and hostility, Pakistan has made several futile efforts to melt the ice.

As a goodwill gesture, proscribed outfit BLA has finally been declared a terrorist outfit by the USA.

Trump’s Hopes

  • The US is hopeful of winning over the hard-pressed new regime of Pakistan back into its fold and to make it agree to pick up arms against the Taliban or browbeat them if they refuse to include the wishes of the USA in the peace agreement.
  • Trump would press IK to convince the Taliban to allow the USA to retain 2-3 military bases in Afghanistan for the sake of regional stability.
  • Trump is hoping that Pakistan will persuade the Taliban to maintain friendly ties with Washington once they regain power and will not swing towards Russia-China.
  • Imran Khan will be told to desist from buying arms from Russia.
  • Another possible request could be freedom of Dr. Shakil Afridi.
  • On the request of India, Trump might ask IK to do away with capital punishment of death by hanging as is being demanded by the EU and thus save Kulbushan’s neck.
  • Granting land access to India via Wagah to Afghanistan/Central Asia could be another favour sought for India.   

Suggested Imran Khan’s (IK) Talking Points

  • IK’s foremost request should be to stop the blame game, stop using Pakistan as a convenient scapegoat. Instead, evolve mutually sustaining a relationship based on trust and respect.
  • He must put in a word for Pakistani Americans and Pak settlers in the USA for better security against racism and Islamophobia.
  • He should ask Trump to compensate Pakistan for $ 125 billion financial loss it incurred in the long drawn war, restore CSF and reschedule foreign debt repayments.
  • He should seek compensation for the colossal wear and tear of arms, equipment, tanks, helicopters extensively used in the US imposed war, by handing over part of the US war munitions in Afghanistan before exiting.
  • What he should forcefully insist upon is to close down the infrastructure of cross border terrorism in Afghanistan run by RAW-NDS, put an end to the proxy war, and to make RAW-NDS accountable for their support to BLA and other anti-Pakistan proxies.
  • Fencing of the western border is in the overall interest of both countries trading accusations. The USA must provide funds to expedite completion of western and southwestern fencing.
  • Maintenance of regional military balance between two nuclear neighbours and the adoption of a balanced relationship with India and Pakistan must be emphasized.
  • He must remind Trump to respect Pakistan’s core security interests.  
  • Trump should be told not to blackmail Pakistan through IMF and FATF, or hybrid war.
  • He should invite the USA to join CPEC after highlighting a long list of merits.
  • He should ask Trump to restrain India from committing human rights abuses in Occupied Kashmir and to mediate in resolving Kashmir dispute.
  • Provision of land access to India to be made conditional to the resolution of Kashmir dispute.  
  • With an eye on its backyard, IK should ask Trump to review his policy of confrontation with Iran.

EndNote. Rapprochement with the USA must not be at the cost of straining relations with Russia.       

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, member CWC and Think Tank Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society, and member Council Tehreek Jawanan Pakistan. asifharoonraja@gmail.com     

 

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Classifying Defeat: Hiding Data on the Losing Afghan War ……Maj. Danny Sjursen, USA (Ret.)

Classifying Defeat: Hiding Data on the Losing Afghan War

in 

Anti-War.com

 

Editor’s Note: I was a student in the US during the Vietnam War. I lost many US classmates either wounded mentally or killed. When the US was entering Afghanistan, I told my American friends not to enter Afghanistan. My words, “You can enter Afghanistan easily, but getting out is next to impossible.”
Troops in Afghanistan
Note: All US Troop Stationed Near Pakistan Border-US has not learned an iota from Vietnam. Afghanistan is the death knell of invaders.

 

The longest war in U.S. history has cost 2400 American lives and nearly a trillion dollars. Still, the government in Washington conceals the truth and most of the populace yawns. By now there should be no doubt that America has lost the battle for Afghanistan, placing it in good company with the British and Soviet empires that failed to conquer that famously xenophobic country. I just wish the Trump administration – as self-touting “truth-tellers” – would admit it. Seriously, public acceptance of defeat would be strangely refreshing. But don’t count on it!

Trump and company have a better idea. They’ll just stop telling the American people anything about how this perpetual war is going. Seriously, the powers that be have taken just about all the relevant, measurable data on the war and either stopped tracking it or deemed it classified. How’s that for some Orwellian political spin? The thing is I kind of get it. The news out of Afghanistan is so awful, and “progress” so fitful, that I wouldn’t want to report it either. Too bad these are life and death matters and that in an (ostensible) republic the people are owed the truth about the wars fought in their name. Call me old fashioned but I still value facts and transparency.

So let us consider what exactly they are hiding from us. It began with last year’s announcement that the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) – the congressionally mandated watchdog on all aspects of this war – would no longer report Afghan Security Force (ASF) casualty data. It’s now classified. I wonder why. Could it be that the US trained and equipped (to the tune of some $70 billion) Afghan military is suffering unsustainable casualties, is losing troops faster than it can recruit? Maybe its because Washington finds it inconvenient to admit that the ASF is nowhere near its target personnel strength, that desertions and absence without leave are rampant in the ranks, and that the Afghan GDP is insufficient to pay for its own security forces.

After all, every president from Bush to Obama to Trump has told us that advising the ASF is America’s number one priority and the key to a successful exit. Given that, one would think it rather important to face the truth about the utterly insufficient Afghan military and police force. Instead, it’s classified. You’re no longer allowed to know that discomfiting truth.

 

 

 

Then, last week, we were told that the US military will no longer track district-level insurgent or government control or influence. In other words, data on what percentage of the country is controlled by the Afghan government versus the Taliban. Sounds like vital info, no? Apparently, according to the US command in Afghanistan, that district data “was of limited decision-making value to the Commander.” That’s news to me! Even as a company commander, a lowly captain, I tracked and reported data on the relative security and stability of even individual villages in my sector. It’s how we knew if we were making progress or not!

So why would the Trump administration really decide to hide, or just stop tracking this pivotal information? Could it be that the Taliban has been progressively gaining ground and now control or contest more of the country – about 50 percent – than at any time in this 18-year-old war? Surely it’d be rather inconvenient to admit that the U.S.-backed regime in Kabul is losing control of half the country. The solution: stop keeping track altogether.

Seriously, rather than assess the data and decide either 1) that the situation on the ground demands a new strategy or more American investment; or 2) that the war is unwinnable and it was always an absurd pipe dream to think we could forge a Jeffersonian Democracy in remote Central Asia, and thus cut our losses and withdraw. Now, I’m a strong proponent of option two and have said so time and again. Still, at least option one would grapple with reality rather than ignore it.

Look, SIGAR is a government-sanctioned watchdog agency, not a touchy-feely human rights nonprofit. These aren’t hippie peaceniks, not by a long shot. Perhaps we should listen to what they have to say, because, well, it is really disturbing. Last week, John Sopko, the inspector general himself, asserted that “Almost every indicia, metric for success or failure is now classified or nonexistent…Over time, it’s been classified or it’s no longer being collected … The classification in some areas is needless.” Translation: we are losing the war and hiding that fact from the people! That’s a big deal, America!

There are other indicators that this war has run off the rails, and one suspects this data will also soon be classified or “no longer tracked.” For example, the fact that 2018 was the first year in which U.S. and allied Afghan forces killed more civilians than the Taliban. So much for winning hearts and minds. It seems Washington has taught Kabul to fight in its own image, confident – despite all the historical evidence to the contrary – that it can bomb its way to victory. Too bad killing innocent civilians is a sure way to alienate the populace and feed an insurgency. If you didn’t know any better, you might think Washington is trying to prolong the war indefinitely.

Remember that the owners of this country – the real owners in the corporate-military-industrial complex – count on your apathy. They count on a distracted populace. They count on you not caring so they can perpetuate ill-advised, counterproductive (but quite profitable) wars indefinitely. We’re through the looking glass, folks – sleepwalking to defeat on the inertia of uniquely American forever war. If we’re not careful we might lose our republic along with the war.

So I say let’s demand better for once. That we demand transparency and the truth about the war in Afghanistan. That we demand to know what is done in our name and what thousands have sacrificed their lives for. That would mean millions of calls to our congressmen, marching in the streets, shutting down the system if necessary. I can see it, almost like a dream – a sea of Americans saying no to a losing war, no to the plunder of our treasury, no to the gradual rollback of our civil liberties.

Only when I wake up from my daydream, gaze around the airport, and…everyone is too busy on their iPhones to care. And that’s the real America. So the war must go on…

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and regular contributor toAntiwar.com. His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Copyright 2019 Danny Sjursen

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Trump triggers new ‘Great Game’ in South Asia BY ADIL NAJAM

Trump triggers new ‘Great Game’ in South Asia

 

 

Speaking at Fort Myer last week, the president promised that “American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically.” In Afghanistan, it is unlikely to. In South Asia, it already has – in deep but disturbing ways and mostly because of what President Donald Trump had to say about Pakistan.

Here’s how the stakes, consequences and options for each of the major players in South Asia have been transformed.

The speech left Pakistan hurt and angry.

The country’s foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, was livid at President Trump’s threatening tone and words, claiming that his country’s “sacrifices” as an American coalition partner were “disregarded and disrespected.” Pakistan’s National Security Council (NSC), which includes both the prime minister and the military chief, echoed the consensus in Pakistan that both Washington, D.C. and Kabul are bent on “scapegoating” Pakistan for their own failures.

 

Remarkably for Pakistan, President Trump seems to have united a deeply divided country. Government, opposition, military and civil society are all equally offended. All point out how Pakistan itself has had to spend many times more of its own resources in fighting America’s war than whatever America may have provided: 70,000 casualties, 17,000 Pakistanis killed; a nation living in constant fear of Taliban terrorism; an economy devastated to the tune of over $100 billion.

Of course, American allegations that Taliban encampments exist in Pakistan are not new. But President Trump has refused to recognize that Pakistan’s struggles to eliminate them are no less challenging than Afghanistan’s or America’s efforts within Afghanistan. This has been seen as particularly disingenuous.

 

 

 

 

Given the timing, tone and especially the fawning overtures toward India, Pakistanis read President Trump’s speech as the newest episode of abandonment from the nation’s longest but most fickle ally.

Privately, Pakistan and the United States have each long considered the other to be equally unreliable. With President Trump signaling that America will now look elsewhere, Pakistan feels compelled to do the same. Both China and Russia have been quick to exploit the chasm, advancing their own deep interests not only in Afghanistan but in greater South Asia.

Even before Pakistan had made any response to President Trump’s speech, the Chinese, already wildly popular in Pakistan for investing heavily in its infrastructure, responded with an official statement calling Pakistan an “all-weather friend” and thanking it for its “great sacrifices” in the fight against terrorism.

Not to miss the opportunity, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, proclaimed that Pakistan is “a key regional player,” the pressurizing of whom could “result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.”

In Pakistan, such statements and the speed with which they came have been viewed as evidence that Pakistan does have choices, i.e., it may be time for Pakistan to move out of the U.S. orbit and seek deeper alliances elsewhere. Pakistan’s foreign minister, for example, immediately postponed his planned visit to Washington. This is not simply to register displeasure, but to gain time to visit other capitals and explore alternative options.

India’s initial reaction, not surprisingly, was to gloat. Its narrative about Pakistan was thoroughly embraced in President Trump’s speech. However, this is a gift horse they are likely to examine more carefully. Being anointed America’s sheriff in South Asia brings with it a new stress to their already-strained relations with China.

It is inevitable for tension to grow between these two Asian behemoths, but India would clearly have preferred to plan out the timing and terms of the escalation itself.

President Trump’s message to India that it “makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan,” is likely to be met with nothing more than a polite smile from New Delhi. There is certainly no likely relieffor the American taxpayer in how much they have to pay to keep dysfunctional governments in Kabul in place even while 40 percent of Afghanistan remains under Taliban control.

But the biggest consequence of President Trump’s South Asia strategy is that it gives India a license to elevate a new proxy conflict with Pakistan in Afghanistan. Pakistan is clearly terrified of being trapped in a pincer squeeze on its eastern and western borders by its arch nemesis, India.

But Afghanistan, as recent statements from its former president, Hamid Karzai, suggest, can also not be thrilled by the prospect of yet another major power becoming entrenched in yet another “Great Game.”

Therein lies what is truly new and frightening in Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy.

For the entirety of the last seven decades – including throughout the Cold War, when India was firmly ensconced as a Soviet ally – the American goal in South Asia was, above all, to maintain regional stability. The aim was to avoid and to actively resist tensions in a region that was a powder keg well before India decided to go rogue with nuclear weapons, and Pakistan followed suit. As of last week, the new American policy is to pit neighbor against neighbor in South Asia.

One day, one hopes, someone will explain to President Trump, like Chinese President Xi Jinping did about why North Korea is “complicated,” why the India-Pakistan relationship really is as fraught with danger as it is.

Meanwhile, an abdication of America’s traditional stabilizing role in South Asia has been announced. Afghanistan that will get kicked around the most, as five of the six largest militaries in the world (China, India, the United States, Russia and Pakistan), all nuclear, jockey for advantage in whatever the new South Asian balance of alliances might become.

Let us all hope that the unimaginable remains unimagined.

Adil Najam is the founding dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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North Korea, An Aggressor? A Reality Check By Felicity Arbuthnot

North Korea, An Aggressor?

A Reality Check

By

Felicity Arbuthnot

 

 

 

 

“ … war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.”(Howard Zinn, 1922-2010.)

“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.” (Tony Benn, MP. 1925-2014.)

“No country too poor, too small, too far away, not to be threat, a threat to the American way of life.” (William Blum, “Rogue State.”)   

 

 

 

 

 

August 24, 2017

The mention of one tiny country appears to strike at the rationality and sanity of those who should know far better. On Sunday, 6th August, for example, The Guardian headed an editorial: “The Guardian view on sanctions: an essential tool.” Clearly the average of five thousands souls a month, the majority children, dying of “embargo related causes” in Iraq, year after grinding year – genocide in the name of the UN – for over a decade has long been forgotten by the broadsheet of the left.

This time of course, the target is North Korea upon whom the United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to freeze, strangulate and deny essentials, normality, humanity. Diplomacy as ever, not even a consideration. The Guardian, however, incredibly, declared the decimating sanctions: “A rare triumph of diplomacy …” (Guardian 6th August 2017.)

As US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the US’ top “diplomat” and his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho headed for the annual Ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila on 5th August, a State Department spokesperson said of Tillerson:

“The Secretary has no plans to meet the North Korean Foreign Minister in Manila, and I don’t expect to see that happen”

Pathetic. In April, approaching his hundredth day in office, Trump said of North Korea:

“We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”

No it is not. Talk, walk in the other’s psychological shoes. Then, there they were at the same venue but the Trump Administration clearly does not alone live in a land of missed opportunities, but of opportunities deliberately buried in landfill miles deep. This in spite of his having said in the same statement:

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.”

A bit of perspective: 27th July 2017 marked sixty four years since the armistice agreement that ended the devastating three year Korean war, however there has never been a peace treaty, thus technically the Korean war has never ended. Given that and American’s penchant for wiping out countries with small populations which pose them no threat (think most recently, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) no wonder North Korea wishes to look as if it has some heavy protective gear behind the front door, so to speak.

Tiny North Korea has a population of just 25.37 million and landmass of 120,540 km² (square kilometres.) The US has a population of 323.1 million and a landmass of 9.834 MILLION km² (square kilometres.) Further, since 1945, the US is believed to have produced some 70,000 nuclear weapons – though now down to a “mere” near 7,000 – but North Korea is a threat?  

America has fifteen military bases in South Korea – down from a staggering fifty four – bristling with every kind of weapons of mass destruction. Two bases are right on the North Korean border and another nearly as close. See full details of each, with map at (1.)

North Korea also has the collective memory of the horror wrought by the US in the three year conflict on a country then with a population of just 9.6 million souls. US General Curtis Lemay in the aftermath stated: “After destroying North Korea’s seventy eight cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians … Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”

“It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long ‘hot’ war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerence of another.” (2) 

In context:

“During The Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the US lost 0.32%. During the Korean war, North Korea lost close to 30 % of its population.” (Emphasis added.)

“We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another …”, boasted Lemay.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur said during a Congressional hearing in 1951 that he had never seen such devastation.

“I shrink with horror that I cannot express in words … at this continuous slaughter of men in Korea,” MacArthur said. “I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there.” (CNN, 28th July 2017.)

Horrified as he was, he did not mention the incinerated women, children, infants in the same breath.

Moreover, as Robert M. Neer wrote in “Napalm, an American Biography”:

‘“Practically every U.S. fighter plane that has flown into Korean air carried at least two napalm bombs,” Chemical Officer Townsend wrote in January 1951. About 21,000 gallons of napalm hit Korea every day in 1950. As combat intensified after China’s intervention, that number more than tripled (…) a total of 32,357 tons of napalm fell on Korea, about double that dropped on Japan in 1945. Not only did the allies drop more bombs on Korea than in the Pacific theater during World War II – 635,000 tons, versus 503,000 tons – more of what fell was napalm …’

In the North Korean capitol, Pyongyang, just two buildings were reported as still standing.

In the unending history of US warmongering, North Korea is surely the smallest population they had ever attacked until their assault on tiny Grenada in October 1983, population then just 91,000 (compulsory silly name: “Operation Urgent Fury.)

North Korea has been taunted by the US since it lay in ruins after the armistice sixty five years ago, yet as ever, the US Administration paints the vast, self appointed “leader of the free world” as the victim.

As Fort-Russ pointed out succinctly (7th August 2017):

“The Korean Peninsula is in a state of crisis not only due to constant US threats towards North Korea, but also due to various provocative actions, such as Washington conducting joint military exercises with Seoul amid tensions, and which Pyongyang considered a threat to its national security.”

This month “massive land, sea and air exercises” involving “tens of thousands of troops” from the US and South Korea began on 21st  of August and continue until 31st.

‘In the past, the practices are believed to have included “decapitation strikes” – trial operations for an attempt to kill Kim Jong-un and his top Generals …’, according to the Guardian (11th August 2017.)

The obligatory stupid name chosen for this dangerous, belligerent, money burning, sabre rattling nonsense is Ulchi-Freedom Guardian. It is an annual occurrence since first initiated back in 1976.

US B-1B bombers flying from Guam recently carried out exercises in South Korea and “practiced attack capabilities by releasing inert weapons at the Pilsung Range.” In a further provocative (and illegal) move, US bombers were again reported to overfly North Korea, another of many such bullying, threatening actions, reportedly eleven just since May this year.

Yet in spite of all, North Korea is the “aggressor.”

“The nuclear warheads of United States of America are stored in some twenty one locations, which include thirteen U.S. states and five European countries … some are on board U.S. submarines. There are some “zombie” nuclear warheads as well, and they are kept in reserve, and as many as 3,000 of these are still awaiting their dismantlement. (The US) also extends its “nuclear umbrella” to such other countries as South Korea, Japan, and Australia.” (worldatlas.com)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who also attended the ASEAN meeting in Manila, did of course, do what proper diplomats do and talked with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho. Minister Lavrov’s opinion was summed up by a Fort Russ News observer as:

“The Korean Peninsula is in a state of crisis not only due to constant US threats towards North Korea, but also due to various provocative actions, such as Washington conducting joint military exercises with Seoul amid tensions, and which Pyongyang considered a threat to its national security.”

The “provocative actions” also include the threatening over-flights by US ‘planes flying from Guam. However when North Korea said if this continued they would consider firing missiles in to the ocean near Guam – not as was reported by some hystericals as threatening to bomb Guam – Agent Orange who occasionally pops in to the White House between golf rounds and eating chocolate cake whilst muddling up which country he has dropped fifty nine Tomahawk Cruise missiles on, responded that tiny North Korea will again be: “… met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

It was barely noticed that North Korea qualified the threat of a shot across the bows by stating pretty reasonably:

(The US) “should immediately stop its reckless military provocation against the State of the DPRK so that the latter would not be forced to make an unavoidable military choice.” (3)

As Cheryl Rofer (see 3) continued, instead of endless threats, US diplomacy could have many routes:

“We could have sent a message to North Korea via the recent Canadian visit to free one of their citizens. We could send a message through the Swedish embassy to North Korea, which often represents US interests. We could arrange some diplomatic action on which China might take the lead. There are many possibilities, any of which might show North Korea that we are willing to back off from practices that scare them if they will consider backing off on some of their actions. That would not include their nuclear program explicitly at this time, but it would leave the way open for later.”

There are in fact, twenty four diplomatic missions in all, in North Korea through which the US could request to communicate – or Trump could even behave like a grown up and pick up the telephone.

Siegfried Hecker is the last known American official to inspect North Korea’s nuclear facilities. He says that treating Kim Jong-un as though he is on the verge of attacking the U.S. is both inaccurate and dangerous.

“Some like to depict Kim as being crazy – a madman – and that makes the public believe that the guy is undeterrable. He’s not crazy and he’s not suicidal. And he’s not even unpredictable. The real threat is we’re going to stumble into a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.” (5)

Trump made his crass “fire and fury” threat on the eve of the sixty second commemoration of the US nuclear attack on Nagasaki, the nauseating irony seemingly un-noticed by him.

Will some adults pitch up on Capitol Hill before it is too late?

Notes

  1. https://militarybases.com/ south-korea/
  2. http://www.globalresearch.ca/ know-the-facts-north-korea- lost-close-to-30-of-its- population-as-a-result-of-us- bombings-in-the-1950s/22131
  3. https://nucleardiner. wordpress.com/2017/08/11/ north-korea-reaches-out/
  4. https://www.commondreams.org/ news/2017/08/08/sane-voices- urge-diplomacy-after-lunatic- trump-threatens-fire-and-fury

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Edward Snowden: A Man of Conscience & An Interview with Amy Goodman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our extended conversation, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald responds to claims NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations helped Russia, and examines what actions the Trump administration may take against him and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “Exactly the same playbook was used against [Daniel] Ellsberg that is now being used against Snowden, which is to say, ’Don’t listen to these disclosures. Don’t regard this person as a hero for exposing our corruption and lawbreaking. Focus instead on the fact that these are traitors working with our enemies,’” says Greenwald. “And just as it was completely false in the case of Ellsberg, so too is it completely false in the case of Snowden.”


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founding editor of The Intercept. I spoke with him on Thursday with Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to turn to an op-ed published last week in The Wall Street Journal titled “The Fable of Edward Snowden.” It was written by journalist Edward Jay Epstein, whose upcoming book, How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft, it will be published later this month. In the article, Epstein writes, quote, “It was not the quantity of Mr. Snowden’s theft but the quality that was most telling. Mr. Snowden’s theft put documents at risk that could reveal the NSA’s Level 3 tool kit—a reference to documents containing the NSA’s most-important sources and methods. Since the agency was created in 1952, Russia and other adversary nations had been trying to penetrate its Level-3 secrets without great success. Yet it was precisely these secrets that Mr. Snowden changed jobs to steal.” Now, that’s what Edward Jay Epstein wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

In response to the article, journalist Barton Gellman issued several tweets discrediting the piece, including writing, quote, “Snowden, Epstein book says, reached unreachable ‘Level 3’ secrets that only a spy could want.” But “[t]here’s no such category at the NSA.” So, Glenn Greenwald, could you talk about that? And respond to this forthcoming book on Snowden.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, it’s a huge irony, because, as we just discussed, Democratic partisans spent the last week trying to turn me into a Breitbart admirer, and at the same time many of these same Democratic partisans were heralding this attack on Snowden by Edward Jay Epstein. Who is Edward Jay Epstein? He is a longtime neocon who’s written forever for The Wall Street Journal op-ed page, probably the most right-wing organ within the mainstream American media outlet. But he’s also a writer for Breitbart. He has written multiple articles for Breitbart. And so, at the same time that these Democrats are accusing me of being a Breitbart supporter, they’re heralding an article, a smear, by a Breitbart writer.

Beyond that, the theme of this article and the theme of his book—and, obviously, we can’t detail all the falsehoods here. I encourage you to go look at what Bart Gellman posted online, who said there’s so many falsehoods that he doesn’t even have time to discredit them all. But the central theme is essentially to insinuate that, all along, Edward Snowden was an operative of Russia, that he was really just a Russian spy, he wasn’t a whistleblower, he wasn’t acting out of conscience or anything else. And I just want to say two things about that. Number one, even CIA and NSA officials, who hate Edward Snowden with a burning passion, have publicly repudiated this theory over and over. They have said, “We have no evidence to believe that Snowden ever worked with the Russian government, either before he leaked these secrets or after.” And, in fact, the former CIA chief, Mike Morell, said, “I believe that both the Chinese and the Russians tried to get Snowden to share information with them, and Snowden said, ‘I absolutely will not share anything with you,’ because of his disdain for intelligence agencies in general.” So, if you are going even more extreme than both the NSA and CIA in saying bad things about Edward Snowden, that shows how far off the rails you actually have gone.

The other thing that I would say is that what is being done to Edward Snowden by The Wall Street Journal and Breitbart, these sort of far-right organs that Democratic Party partisans are now cheering, is exactly what it’s done to all whistleblowers, beginning with Daniel Ellsberg. If you go back and look at what The New York Times was reporting in 1971 about Daniel Ellsberg after he leaked the Pentagon Papers, John Ehrlichman, one of the top domestic policy aides to Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger, at the time Nixon’s national security adviser, continually said that they believed that Daniel Ellsberg was a Soviet spy, that before giving the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times he had given them to the Kremlin. Exactly the same playbook was used against Ellsberg that is now being used against Snowden, which is to say, “Don’t listen to these disclosures. Don’t regard this person as a hero for exposing our corruption and lawbreaking. Focus instead on the fact that these are traitors working with our enemies.” And just as it was completely false in the case of Ellsberg, so too is it completely false in the case of Snowden.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think will happen with Edward Snowden under a Donald Trump administration? And then, what do you think will happen with Julian Assange, who’s being cited now by Trump as having the accurate information all of the—over all of the 17 intelligence agencies?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I think, certainly, it’s unclear. I mean, I think there’s this assumption that because Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have been saying positive things about one another, and there’s connections between the Trump campaign and various Russian interests, that that means there’s going to be this flowering détente between the two countries, and this great relationship is going to emerge, and they’re going to become allies. And that’s certainly possible. It may be that there is an alliance between the U.S. and Russia against China as a struggle for power and imperialism ensues. It’s also the case—and as part of that, if that really does happen, one of the fears that some people have is that, as part of the kind of coming together of the U.S. and Russia, that Trump will be able to persuade Putin to hand Snowden over as kind of a gift, as something that Trump can show to the American people: “Look, I got my hands on Snowden, when Obama was unable to do so.” And that certainly is a concern.

But I think that’s a little bit of a superficial view, because the animosity between the American political class and intelligence community, on the one hand, and the Russian political class and intelligence community, on the other, is very ingrained. It has existed for decades. It is entrenched and systemic and cultural. And I think there is a very good likelihood that those entities, which most certainly do not want détente between Russia and the United States, will find ways to undermine and subvert this agenda. And it’s very easy to see that the U.S. and the Soviet—and Russia can once again sort of become at loggerheads and resume this animosity. So I don’t think we know what’s going to happen with Snowden.

As for Assange, I mean, remember, the reason he’s in the Ecuadorean Embassy is not, in the first instance, because the U.S. is trying to get their hands on him. It’s because Sweden has these pending charges against him, that various courts in the U.K. and the EU have upheld the validity of. And so, I don’t really see how Trump can alter that, can change that dynamic. That’s one of the tragedies, is I don’t see an exit for Julian Assange exiting the Ecuadorean Embassy without facing those charges in Sweden. What the position of Assange and Ecuador has always been was that if the U.S. or Sweden agree that his going to Sweden won’t result in his extradition to the U.S., he will go on the next flight and face those charges. So, if the Trump administration says, “We have no interest in extraditing Julian Assange,” if they end the grand jury that’s been pending against WikiLeaks, that I could see as a potential resolution. He goes to Sweden. He faces the charges against him. If he’s convicted, he gets imprisoned. If he’s acquitted, he’s free.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to go to another recent piece of yours on Assange headlined “The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False.” In the piece, you cite a passage from a recent interview with Julian Assange conducted by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi. You then point out the distortion of Assange’s words in the account given by Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs.

Assange’s precise words in the interview are worth citing at length. When asked about his response to Trump’s election, he said in the interview, quote, “Hillary Clinton’s election would have been a consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States. Donald Trump is not a D.C. insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities. They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure which is displacing and destabilizing the pre-existing central power network within D.C. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better,” end-quote.

So, could you explain, Glenn Greenwald, how Assange’s response was conveyed in the Guardian article, the Guardian article which was headlined “Julian Assange gives guarded praise of Trump and blasts Clinton in interview”? Of course, The Guardian subsequently posted a correction to the piece.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So let me just take a step back. I mean, I obviously worked at The Guardian when I did the Snowden reporting. I have a lot of respect for the reporters and editors there. They do a lot of great reporting. But one of their big flaws as an institution is they develop personal feuds with people they cover. And when that happens, they dispense with all journalistic standards. So, one of the people who they have particular hatred for is Jeremy Corbyn. And over and over, they have produced journalistic garbage about Corbyn in pursuit of their feud. The other—probably the only person they despise more than Jeremy Corbyn is Julian Assange, with whom they had once worked and then had a huge falling out with. It’s very personal and acrimonious. And whenever The Guardian reports on Julian Assange, all journalistic standards get thrown out of the window.

And this article was a perfect example. There’s not just a correction; there’s actually a retraction at the bottom of that article now, because they claimed, with zero evidence, that WikiLeaks has had a long-standing, close relationship with the Putin regime, as they called it. That has now been deleted from the story. They also claimed that Julian Assange praised Russia for having a free and vibrant press, and that therefore there was no need for whistleblowing, when in fact he said nothing of the sort. He simply said that the reason why Russian leakers don’t go to WikiLeaks, as opposed to other outlets in Russia, is because WikiLeaks doesn’t speak Russian and has no presence in the Russian media landscape, and therefore isn’t viewed as a good option for a Russian whistleblower. They also corrected their total distortion of what he said.

What they also said, which is what you just asked me about, was they tried to make it seem like Julian Assange was a fan of Donald Trump, that he was praising Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton. And as the quote that you just read proves, he wasn’t praising Trump at all. He was simply neutrally describing what he thought would be the consequence, the fallout, of the Trump presidency—namely, that Trump isn’t a part of the traditional power structure in Washington, which is why the traditional power structure in Washington is so horrified at his victory and why they’re so disoriented and scared, that instead he’s creating a new power structure filled with rich people who are corrupt, but that because it’s new, it’s going to take some time to become entrenched. And in that process, there will be instability. And that instability will enable some positive outcomes and also some very negative ones. He was just describing his predictions for what the fallout would be of a Trump presidency, by no means praising Trump. But The Guardian was trying to feed this narrative that Assange is a Trump fan, that he loves Russia, that he serves Putin. That was the whole point of the article. This was another article that really went viral all over the internet, and the key claims ended up collapsing. They had to retract and correct several of the key claims. And, of course, none of those corrections or retractions went anywhere near as far as the original false claims themselves did.

AMY GOODMAN: During his Fox News interview, Julian Assange said the Obama administration is implicating Russia in the leaks to delegitimize Trump.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Our publications had wide uptake by the American people. They’re all true. But that’s not the allegation that has been presented by the Obama White House. So, why such a dramatic response? Well, the reason is obvious. They’re trying to delegitimize a Trump administration as it goes into the White House. They’re going to try—they are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on this, Glenn Greenwald?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I do think there’s an element of truth to this, which is that if you look, for example, at the agency that has led the way in pushing these allegations about Russia, which is the CIA, there is no question that the CIA—the community of the CIA was vehemently in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and, with equal vehemence, opposed to Donald Trump. The two leading members of the CIA community, former CIA Director Michael Morell, who served under President Obama, and former CIA Director General Hayden, who served under President Bush, both endorsed Hillary Clinton, one in The Washington Post, the other in The New York Times. And when they did so, they both attacked Donald Trump with a viciousness that is very rare, claiming that he essentially had been turned into, converted and recruited into a tool of Putin. The CIA was very aggressively in favor of Hillary Clinton’s victory. And there’s a lot of different reasons for that, but I think the primary one is that the CIA proxy war in Syria is something that Hillary Clinton had promised not just to support, but to escalate. She was very critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s effort to support these rebels and to remove Assad, while Trump took the exact opposite position, saying, “We have no business trying to change the government of Syria. We ought to let Russia run free in Syria, kill ISIS, kill whoever else they want to kill, because we have no interest. We should keep Assad and Russia in charge of Syria.” There were other reasons, as well. So there’s no question the CIA was a political actor behind the Hillary Clinton presidency and against Donald Trump’s.

And since then, Trump has attacked the CIA. He’s pointed out that they’re unreliable, that they lied about WMDs. And just yesterday, Chuck Schumer went on The Rachel Maddow Show, and she asked him about this conflict between the CIA and Trump. And he said something incredibly important and very revealing. He said, “It is really stupid of Trump, just from a perspective of self-interest, to go to war with the intelligence community, because they have six different ways to Sunday to destroy you if you stand up to them,” which is something that people have known forever, that the deep state can destroy even politicians who are supposed to be more powerful than they are. So I think a lot of this is exactly what Julian said, which is the CIA is attempting to undermine and subvert Trump because they never wanted him to be president in the first place, and they’re now trying to weaken and subvert his agenda, that they oppose.

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