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Sweden Pulled Deeper Into NATO’s Global Network

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

The Local/Agence France-Presse
October 31, 2012

Sweden agrees to help monitor Nato airspace

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden

Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia

End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe

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[Finland] is the only non-Nato European state bordering Russia, and its non-alignment with the military bloc is seen as an important tool for maintaining good relations with its mighty neighbour. [Belarus and Ukraine border Russia. Finland is the only European Union member not a full member of NATO that borders Russia.]

In June, Russian armed forces chief Nikolai Makarov issued a warning to Helsinki over its close cooperation with Nato.
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Swedish Gripen fighter jets of the sort used in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector against Libya last year


Swedish troops under NATO command in firefight in northern Afghanistan

Sweden said Wednesday that it and Finland, two countries outside any military alliances, would help monitor the airspace of Nato member Iceland for a few months in early 2014 in what is seen as a sensitive step.

Iceland has no armed forces of its own. The United States guaranteed the North Atlantic island’s defence with a permanent military presence from 1951 until 2006 under an agreement between the two countries.

But the US closed its Naval Air Station at Keflavik in 2006, and since then Nato member Norway has helped Reykjavik monitor its airspace.

“In connection with the Nordic Council of Ministers session in Helsinki today, Sweden and Finland have expressed their willingness to take part in monitoring Iceland’s airspace together with Norway for the first four months of 2014,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a statement.

Bildt later told the Swedish news agency TT the decision was “about solidarity with Nordic neighbours and nothing to do with Nato. And keep in mind that Nato has sought assurances that we will not be carrying out Nato missions, that is for Nato countries.”

Both Nato and the parliaments in Finland and Sweden have to give the green light for the operation, though no dates have yet been set for those decisions.

While Finland and Sweden are not members of the North Atlantic alliance, the two countries cooperate closely with it and regularly take part in exercises and peacekeeping operations through NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme.

While increasing Nato cooperation is sensitive in both countries, it is particularly so in Finland.

It is the only non-Nato European state bordering Russia, and its non-alignment with the military bloc is seen as an important tool for maintaining good relations with its mighty neighbour.

In June, Russian armed forces chief Nikolai Makarov issued a warning to Helsinki over its close cooperation with Nato.

“Finland’s participation in Nato exercises proves that Finland is gradually joining Nato activities. Under certain circumstances this can create a dangerous situation regarding Russia’s military security,” Makarov said in a speech in Helsinki.

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has said his government will not discuss the issue of possible Nato membership during the current cabinet term, which ends in 2015.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nicaragua: Latin America, World Need Multi-Polarity, Complementarity

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

RT
October 31, 2012

‘Latin America needs independence to prosper’ – President of Nicaragua

VIDEO

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega believes Latin America requires freedom from external influence to flourish. For Nicaragua, this means building a canal for self-sustainability. He told RT that all this is possible as hegemony is in decline.

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I believe this is an election where the American people should vote for their government to commit itself to a peaceful foreign policy agenda. That is what I see as most important. The best thing the United States could do for the world is pursue peace, not war. A policy of peace would enable the US to be more successful in addressing its domestic as well as global economic challenges – provided that they choose to seek an alternative to the neoliberal policies that were predominant among capitalist economies in recent years, and have proved to be such a failure.

We hope that those in power in the world’s most advanced economies will finally realize that the path they had been following, thinking it to be a path toward peace, stability, growth and development, has eventually brought them to the verge of disaster, and they are the ones heading toward a cliff.

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Ortega argues that the world needs multi-polarity. Moreover, it is already heading in that direction.

The only option for hegemonic nations “is to change themselves, and to that end, they need to evolve, and to promote a world order that would be in line with international law, UN principles and the laws of international trade in a multi-polar world.”

He also believes that capitalism has failed to resolve problems such as “unemployment and poverty.”

He says that US “aid” equals “debt” and for Latin American nations to achieve prosperity they need independence.

“Political independence is impossible without social and economic independence,” argues Ortega. “Today, a new reality is gradually emerging in Latin American and Caribbean nations. They have more freedom today to determine their future.”

For Ortega’s country, this means first of all building a canal, which would “complement” the Panama Canal and would make Nicaragua self-sufficient by connecting the Caribbean to the Pacific.

RT: Recently, Hugo Chavez won the presidential election in Venezuela and stayed in office. A year ago, the people of Nicaragua re-elected you for another term. Does this mean that socialism has proved its viability and is now established in Latin America?

DO: The neoliberal model has failed. In other words, capitalism reached the highest stage, where it was expected to resolve all the economic and social problems overnight, resolve the problems of unemployment and poverty. But this model failed. It failed not only in Latin America; it is also failing in developed economies. Today we see it failing in the US and Europe. This is why people in our part of the world gladly embraced the idea of a radical change.

Our countries need sovereignty and independence in every area. Political independence is impossible without social and economic independence. Today, a new reality is gradually emerging in Latin American and Caribbean nations. They have more freedom today to determine their future. President Hugo Chavez’s recent victory will definitely help Latin America and the Caribbean to continue on the path of change.

RT: But this election has been the closest that Venezuela’s opposition has ever come to victory. Some say the people of Venezuela are tired of the present government. What do you make of it?

DO: The truth is, a one-point advantage already counts as victory, in politics as well as in sports.There is no such thing as “a greater victory”. No matter if you are one point or a hundred points ahead, victory is victory. I think what we have seen in Venezuela was this: there had been considerable efforts invested to prevent Hugo Chavez from winning the election, but all in vain. I see it as a fiasco of the entire rightwing trend, which had been supported by the United States and Europe.

RT: Following the toppling of President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, there was speculation that we are into a new era of coups d’état. How likely do you consider such a scenario today?

DO: In fact, we in Latin America have never managed to make coups a thing of the past, and I’m afraid this might never happen. I believe there will be an implicit threat of a coup as long as the conservative forces in the United States take interest in disrupting any development aimed at upsetting the current global hierarchy. These forces engage local groups in our countries in covert activities, and we have seen it happen across Latin America and the Caribbean.

RT: So you think there is a connection between the events in Paraguay, the attempted coup in Ecuador and the military coups in Honduras?

DO: Yes, that is a fact. Take the attempt at overthrowing President Chavez in Venezuela in April 2002, for example.

Next came a coup in Honduras, aimed at hampering the development of a unified Latin America. Then there was an explicit and very forceful attempt at a coup in Bolivia, aimed against President Evo Morales.

Then there was an attempted coup against President Raphael Correa in Ecuador. And most recently, the plot to force the Paraguayan president out of power.

I think this will remain an implicit threat, but it will gradually lose in ability over time, due to the rising drive for change that we see gaining momentum in Latin America. This movement is based on respect for the will of the people, and this is what will make coups increasingly harder to pull off, time after time. Yet we shouldn’t rule out such a possibility altogether, not as long as we remain at odds with the forces that strive for global domination and believe that the world is supposed to bend the knee to them. They still don’t realize that we no longer live in an era of hegemony. So there will remain a hidden, latent menace for the time being.

RT: In July 2012, the National Assembly of Nicaragua adopted a law to build a canal that would connect the Caribbean to the Pacific. This would not merely give a boost to the Nicaraguan economy, but actually promote your country to one of the region’s richest economies. When is the canal scheduled for completion?

DO: Indeed, a vision of such a canal goes back as long as the history of Nicaragua.

RТ: Five centuries?

DO: Ever since the Spanish conquest. Later on, Great Britain rivaled Spain for control of Nicaragua, thinking there was a natural waterway here. It sort of existed, by way of the San Juan River that springs from Lake Nicaragua. But one section was missing – a canal across the narrow isthmus of Rivas. Because of that, our country ended up in the middle of geopolitical disputes and became a target for US expansionist policies.

Nicaragua lost all independence after the US invasion. But what’s important here is that this project has always been on the books. Over a century ago, the Americans themselves looked into building a canal in Nicaragua, but then they decided to invest in the Panama Canal. Once we became independent, we revisited this vision, and now we are working to make it real. We feel that the project is getting on track now. As a matter of fact, the region does need one more transit route.

The Panama Canal cannot satisfy the current demand for international transportation, especially freight traffic. Even with a view to expanding the Panama Canal, which is currently underway, it will still leave a lot to be desired in terms of traffic speed and waiting time.

Our canal would not serve to substitute the Panama Canal, but rather to complement it.

There is similar logic here as in urban planning: the more roads you have in your city, the better the traffic. We are looking at providing our region with two major waterway routes instead of one. This would enhance the region’s transit capabilities, bring down transit costs and thus benefit global trade in general, serving not just our own interests as an economy, but those of the entire international community.

For Nicaragua, it would also mean independence, giving us access to resources and the kind of revenues that would enable us to become entirely self-sufficient. As of now, we are a dependent economy. There is nothing wrong with interdependence and complementariness, but one-way dependency is bad for anyone.

RТ: So when will Nicaragua finally get its chance?

DO: Very soon, I hope. There is a lot of work being done. Chinese companies are in charge of the project, and we expect it to be accomplished rather quickly.

RТ:It was initially expected to take ten years, if I’m not mistaken.

DO: We think it is possible to get it done within a shorter period. The exact timeline will be determined by the companies involved in the project, once they assess its profitability and get down to construction. After that, we will have a better idea about the timeframe.

RT: This year the United States has terminated its annual aid commitments to Nicaragua. How has that affected your country?

DO: Nicaragua is highly vulnerable as an economy. Throughout our history, our economy has suffered at the hands of the US and its policies. The city of Granada, for example, was burnt to the ground, falling prey to America’s expansionist policies. All those wars and military invasions the US has sponsored or provoked. There has even been a ruling by the International Court of Justice, binding the United States to compensate Nicaragua for all our losses, but the US has ignored this verdict.

Of course, the fact that the US has terminated what they call “aid” to Nicaragua has had negative consequences for our people and our country. But in reality, that was no aid. What the Americans call “aid” was really tiny installments in payment of the enormous debt the US owes to Nicaragua.
That was no aid and no cooperation. That was merely an allowance they paid us, passing it for “aid” and “cooperation”.

And it came with tight conditions attached, too. So we cannot talk of Nicaragua as a sovereign and independent nation as long as we remain critically dependent upon the United States and its current political trends, its prevalent frame of mind and the amount of influence radical groups enjoy there at any given moment of time. Because those are the groups that largely determine US foreign policies. They are the ones who contest in court all US cooperation programs with Nicaragua, and even call for using force against Latin American nations that dare stand up for our independence.

That is why terminating any format of cooperation is bound to have a negative impact on Nicaragua. But that is exactly what makes it so important for us to ensure that our nation should no longer be dependent upon this sort of conditional cooperation with either the United States or the European Union.

The US has essentially pursued a policy of a racket vis-à-vis Nicaragua and its people. This is unfair and undemocratic. They are not supporting liberty, they are promoting servitude.

This is what prompts us to get the canal done as soon as possible. It would relieve us of our present dependency upon the US and Europe and their hegemonic policies.

RT: The United States is all set for a presidential election. What are Nicaragua’s expectations in this regard?

DO: I believe this is an election where the American people should vote for their government to commit itself to a peaceful foreign policy agenda. That is what I see as most important. The best thing the United States could do for the world is pursue peace, not war. A policy of peace would enable the US to be more successful in addressing its domestic as well as global economic challenges – provided that they choose to seek an alternative to the neoliberal policies that were predominant among capitalist economies in recent years, and have proved to be such a failure.

RT: What is your idea of a perfect world? And what role would you see in it for Latin America, the United States or Russia?

DO: I am sure we are already heading that way, despite efforts from certain forces to prevent this kind of a change. I mean the American far-right, who won’t even tolerate a president such as Barack Obama: they denounce him merely because of his African origins and the color of his skin.

Yet these forces grow ever weaker with time. The same is happening in Europe.

Reality itself sends a signal to the nations that used to feel like they ruled the world until recently, telling them the world can no longer go on with hegemonic attitudes.

It was reality that has shaped what we know today as a multi-polar world. And regardless of whether hegemonic powers choose to move along with the rest of the world, the world favors multi-polarity, and we are moving in that direction.

We hope that those in power in the world’s most advanced economies will finally realize that the path they had been following, thinking it to be a path toward peace, stability, growth and development, has eventually brought them to the verge of disaster, and they are the ones heading toward a cliff.

In the past, they used to drive us toward self-destruction, but this time, they are themselves set on a path to collapse. Their only option is to change themselves, and to that end, they need to evolve, and to promote a world order that would be in line with international law, UN principles and the laws of international trade in a multi-polar world.

RT: So you believe this is reality rather than wishful thinking?

DO: It is reality, I am sure of that. We already see it happening.

Categories: Uncategorized

Shanghai Cooperation Organization Can Break U.S. Monopoly Of World Internet

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
October 31, 2012

US to give up Internet dominance


Shanghai Cooperation Organization heads of state summit in June of this year

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) can compete with the United States in controlling the Internet via a new global system, SCO Business Club’s Director Denis Tyurin said Wednesday.

“Russian and international experts have a lot of doubts about the existing system of Internet controls. By and large, it’s the US that has a hold over the world wide web,” he said, adding SCO member states could influence the Internet. 

“Internet should be governed though international organizations,” Mr. Denisov said. He proposed to make SCO a prototype of such institution.

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Itar-Tass
October 31, 2012

SCO may create new global Internet management system

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“The Internet should be managed through international structures. Possibly, the SCO as the organization serving as an example to other international structures can become a prototype of a global Internet management system.”

This issue was…high on the agenda of the SCO Youth Forum that opened in the Altai Territory on Wednesday and will last until November 2.

It brought together around 300 young business people from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan.

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BELOKURIKHA, Altai Territory: Member-states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have real opportunities to create a new global Internet management system, the director of the SCO Business Club, Denis Tyurin, told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

“The Russian and international expert community have many questions about the modern Internet management system. Generally speaking, we continue to observe a situation in which the United States keeps the cut-out tool from the global information network in its hands. Despite efforts of the international community to make this system more balanced, the Americans have no plans to hand over the levers of control,” Tyurin said.

He expressed confidence that SCO member-states will be able to influence these processes.

“Many countries that united within the framework of the SCO demonstrate similar approaches to this problem,” he said. “The Internet should be managed through international structures. Possibly, the SCO as the organization serving as an example to other international structures can become a prototype of a global Internet management system.”

“The system should be based on collective decision making,” he said, expressing the opinion that the creation of an SCO domain extension by analogy with domain extensions created by the European Union or the United Nations may significantly contribute to resolving this issue.

The idea of creating its domain extension appeared a year ago and is now being actively discussed by SCO member-states.

This issue was also high on the agenda of the SCO Youth Forum that opened in the Altai Territory on Wednesday and will last until November 2.

It brought together around 300 young business people from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan.

According to organizers, the forum will create a platform for direct communication among young entrepreneurs and business leaders of the SCO member-states.

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Middle East War Could Erupt Right After U.S. Presidential Election

October 31, 2012 2 comments

Voice of Russia
October 30, 2012

Middle East in anticipation of war, reaching its peak after US elections
Vladimir Sazhin


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey in Israel ahead of the unprecedented Austere Challenge 12 interceptor missile war games

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While Israel’s right-wing politicians consolidate, the military makes no effort to conceal its active preparations for combat. Military exercise follows military exercise. Some experts even concede that the al-Hartum factory strike, widely attributed in the press to Israel, could have been a rehearsal of sorts.

Iranians are not sleeping through the crisis either; in early October they initiated the launch into Israel’s airspace of the Iranian drone aircraft Hesballoy. On October 29 a large-scale military exercise began in the region along the Iraqi border.

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Some political experts claim there will be a risk that a new “big wave” in the Middle East could reach its peak after the American presidential elections, and that the region might plummet into the abyss. They say that Israel is ready to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

At the same time the Islamic Republic, whose economy is on the verge of collapse due to sanctions, is also prepared to stand up to Israel.

So far, uncertainty in the US presidential race has served as a containment factor. But what will happen after the elections?

Irina Fedorova, a specialist in Iranian-US relations, delivers a “partly cloudy” forecast for the near future; “Before the Inauguration on January 20 it is hardly possible to anticipate any sudden political moves from the US president, who will be elected on November 6. The main task of the new, or old, president with the US political elite will be the formation of a new government. That is why foreign policy issues will not take precedence in that period.

“The issue that will influence the US president’s opinion on the possibility of a military strike against Iran will be the crisis in Syria, including the problem of Bashar al-Assad. Until those problems are resolved, the US president’s attention will be focused on Syria.”

The Israeli factor cannot be ignored either: the current situation in Israel provides much food for thought. The Knesset is dissolved and elections are set for January 22, the day after the new president of the USA is inaugurated. There are two politicians who are ready for a war against Iran; Benjamin Netanyahu from Likud and Avigdor Lieberman of Israel is Our Home [Yisrael Beiteinu], and there is a very real possibility that one of them will win.

The likelihood of finding a solution to the Iranian problem between the US and Israeli elections cannot be ruled out completely, but during that period, anti-war pressure on the Cabinet will dwindle to almost zero. That is because, although Knesset deputies continue with their duties, they are essentially already “lame ducks” in the absence of a sitting parliament. The current Knesset cannot be expected to address the issue of a no-confidence vote before the elections and, in the event of a successful strike against Iran, as anticipated by its proponents, it would be seen as a vote winner in the election run-up.

While Israel’s right-wing politicians consolidate, the military makes no effort to conceal its active preparations for combat. Military exercise follows military exercise. Some experts even concede that the al-Hartum factory strike, widely attributed in the press to Israel, could have been a rehearsal of sorts.

Iranians are not sleeping through the crisis either; in early October they initiated the launch into Israel’s airspace of the Iranian drone aircraft Hesballoy. On October 29 a large-scale military exercise began in the region along the Iraqi border.

It is not however the growing military activity in Iran that worries Israel, but the Iranian nuclear programme. Recently, there was an announcement that Iran had finished the installation of a centrifuge at the Fordo underground military facility. Western experts believe that Iranian nuclear specialists can now produce uranium enriched not only to 60%, but the 90% purity required for weapons grade material. If true that can only serve to encourage Israel to strike first.

Irina Fedorova observed: “There can be unpredictable decisions in politics and it is possible that the situation could arise when the Israeli military, without Washington’s approval, would start an operation against Iran. In that case the USA would, without doubt, support Israel.”

And many experts believe that that is just what is likely to happen, right after the US presidential elections.

Categories: Uncategorized

Fyodor Dostoevsky: Holy blood was shed, regular wars sprang up

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

Fyodor Dostoevsky: Selections on war

Vladimir Odoevsky: City without a name, system with one

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Fyodor Dostoevsky
From The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1877)
Translated by Constance Garnett

images

I suddenly, quite without noticing how, found myself on this other earth, in the bright light of a sunny day, fair as paradise. I believe I was standing on one of the islands that make up on our globe the Greek archipelago, or on the coast of the mainland facing that archipelago. Oh, everything was exactly as it is with us, only everything seemed to have a festive radiance, the splendour of some great, holy triumph attained at last. The caressing sea, green as emerald, splashed softly upon the shore and kissed it with manifest, almost conscious love. The tall, lovely trees stood in all the glory of their blossom, and their innumerable leaves greeted me, I am certain, with their soft, caressing rustle and seemed to articulate words of love. The grass glowed with bright and fragrant flowers. Birds were flying in flocks in the air, and perched fearlessly on my shoulders and arms and joyfully struck me with their darling, fluttering wings. And at last I saw and knew the people of this happy land. They came to me of themselves, they surrounded me, kissed me. The children of the sun, the children of their sun – oh, how beautiful they were! Never had I seen on our own earth such beauty in mankind. Only perhaps in our children, in their earliest years, one might find some remote faint reflection of this beauty. The eyes of these happy people shone with a clear brightness. Their faces were radiant with the light of reason and fullness of a serenity that comes of perfect understanding, but those faces were gay; in their words and voices there was a note of childlike joy. Oh, from the first moment, from the first glance at them, I understood it all! It was the earth untarnished by the Fall; on it lived people who had not sinned. They lived just in such a paradise as that in which, according to all the legends of mankind, our first parents lived before they sinned; the only difference was that all this earth was the same paradise. These people, laughing joyfully, thronged round me and caressed me; they took me home with them, and each of them tried to reassure me. Oh, they asked me no questions, but they seemed, I fancied, to know everything without asking, and they wanted to make haste to smoothe away the signs of suffering from my face.

They desired nothing and were at peace; they did not aspire to knowledge of life as we aspire to understand it, because their lives were full. But their knowledge was higher and deeper than ours; for our science seeks to explain what life is, aspires to understand it in order to teach others how to love, while they without science knew how to live; and that I understood, but I could not understand their knowledge. They showed me their trees, and I could not understand the intense love with which they looked at them; it was as though they were talking with creatures like themselves. And perhaps I shall not be mistaken if I say that they conversed with them. Yes, they had found their language, and I am convinced that the trees understood them. They looked at all Nature like that – at the animals who lived in peace with them and did not attack them, but loved them, conquered by their love. They pointed to the stars and told me something about them which I could not understand, but I am convinced that they were somehow in touch with the stars, not only in thought, but by some living channel. Oh, these people did not persist in trying to make me understand them, they loved me without that, but I knew that they would never understand me, and so I hardly spoke to them about our earth…

In the evening before going to sleep they liked singing in musical and harmonious chorus. In those songs they expressed all the sensations that the parting day had given them, sang its glories and took leave of it. They sang the praises of nature, of the sea, of the woods. They liked making songs about one another, and praised each other like children; they were the simplest songs, but they sprang from their hearts and went to one’s heart. And not only in their songs but in all their lives they seemed to do nothing but admire one another. It was like being in love with each other, but an all-embracing, universal feeling.

Some of their songs, solemn and rapturous, I scarcely understood at all. Though I understood the words I could never fathom their full significance. It remained, as it were, beyond the grasp of my mind, yet my heart unconsciously absorbed it more and more. I often told them that I had had a presentiment of it long before, that this joy and glory had come to me on our earth in the form of a yearning melancholy that at times approached insufferable sorrow; that I had had a foreknowledge of them all and of their glory in the dreams of my heart and the visions of my mind; that often on our earth I could not look at the setting sun without tears…that in my hatred for the men of our earth there was always a yearning anguish: why could I not hate them without loving them? why could I not help forgiving them? and in my love for them there was a yearning grief: why could I not love them without hating them? They listened to me, and I saw they could not conceive what I was saying, but I did not regret that I had spoken to them of it: I knew that they understood the intensity of my yearning anguish over those whom I had left. But when they looked at me with their sweet eyes full of love, when I felt that in their presence my heart, too, became as innocent and just as theirs, the feeling of the fullness of life took my breath away, and I worshipped them in silence.

Yes, yes, it ended in my corrupting them all! How it could come to pass I do not know, but I remember it clearly. The dream embraced thousands of years and left in me only a sense of the whole. I only know that I was the cause of their sin and downfall. Like a vile trichina, like a germ of the plague infecting whole kingdoms, so I contaminated all this earth, so happy and sinless before my coming. They learnt to lie, grew fond of lying, and discovered the charm of falsehood. Oh, at first perhaps it began innocently, with a jest, coquetry, with amorous play, perhaps indeed with a germ, but that germ of falsity made its way into their hearts and pleased them. Then sensuality was soon begotten, sensuality begot jealousy, jealousy – cruelty…Oh, I don’t know, I don’t remember; but soon, very soon the first blood was shed. They marvelled and were horrified, and began to be split up and divided. They formed into unions, but it was against one another.

Reproaches, upbraidings followed. They came to know shame, and shame brought them to virtue. The conception of honour sprang up, and every union began waving its flags. They began torturing animals, and the animals withdrew from them into the forests and became hostile to them. They began to struggle for separation, for isolation, for individuality, for mine and thine. They began to talk in different languages. They became acquainted with sorrow and loved sorrow; they thirsted for suffering, and said that truth could only be attained through suffering. Then science appeared. As they became wicked they began talking of brotherhood and humanitarianism, and understood those ideas. As they became criminal, they invented justice and drew up whole legal codes in order to observe it, and to ensure their being kept, set up a guillotine. They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility of this happiness in the past, and called it a dream. They could not even imagine it in definite form and shape, but, strange and wonderful to relate, though they lost all faith in their past happiness and called it a legend, they so longed to be happy and innocent once more that they succumbed to this desire like children, made an idol of it, set up temples and worshipped their own idea, their own desire; though at the same time they fully believed that it was unattainable and could not be realised, yet they bowed down to it and adored it with tears! Nevertheless, if it could have happened that they had returned to the innocent and happy condition which they had lost, and if someone had shown it to them again and had asked them whether they wanted to go back to it, they would certainly have refused…

[E]veryone began to love himself better than anyone else, and indeed they could not do otherwise. All became so jealous of the rights of their own personality that they did their very utmost to curtail and destroy them in others, and made that the chief thing in their lives. Slavery followed, even voluntary slavery; the weak eagerly submitted to the strong, on condition that the latter aided them to subdue the still weaker. Then there were saints who came to these people, weeping, and talked to them of their pride, of their loss of harmony and due proportion, of their loss of shame. They were laughed at or pelted with stones. Holy blood was shed on the threshold of the temples. Then there arose men who began to think how to bring all people together again, so that everybody, while still loving himself best of all, might not interfere with others, and all might live together in something like a harmonious society. Regular wars sprang up over this idea. All the combatants at the same time firmly believed that science, wisdom and the instinct of self-preservation would force men at last to unite into a harmonious and rational society; and so, meanwhile, to hasten matters, ‘the wise’ endeavoured to exterminate as rapidly as possible all who were ‘not wise’ and did not understand their idea, that the latter might not hinder its triumph. But the instinct of self-preservation grew rapidly weaker; there arose men, haughty and sensual, who demanded all or nothing. In order to obtain everything they resorted to crime, and if they did not succeed – to suicide. There arose religions with a cult of non-existence and self-destruction for the sake of the everlasting peace of annihilation. At last these people grew weary of their meaningless toil, and signs of suffering came into their faces, and then they proclaimed that suffering was a beauty, for in suffering alone was there meaning. They glorified suffering in their songs. I moved about among them, wringing my hands and weeping over them, but I loved them perhaps more than in old days when there was no suffering in their faces and when they were innocent and so lovely. I loved the earth they had polluted even more than when it had been a paradise, if only because sorrow had come to it. Alas! I always loved sorrow and tribulation, but only for myself, for myself; but I wept over them, pitying them. I stretched out my hands to them in despair, blaming, cursing and despising myself. I told them that all this was my doing, mine alone; that it was I had brought them corruption, contamination and falsity. I besought them to crucify me, I taught them how to make a cross. I could not kill myself, I had not the strength, but I wanted to suffer at their hands. I yearned for suffering, I longed that my blood should be drained to the last drop in these agonies. But they only laughed at me, and began at last to look upon me as crazy. They justified me, they declared that they had only got what they wanted themselves, and that all that now was could not have been otherwise. At last they declared to me that I was becoming dangerous and that they should lock me up in a madhouse if I did not hold my tongue. Then such grief took possession of my soul that my heart was wrung, and I felt as though I were dying; and then…then I awoke.

It was morning, that is, it was not yet daylight, but about six o’clock. I woke up in the same arm-chair; my candle had burnt out; everyone was asleep in the captain’s room, and there was a stillness all round, rare in our flat. First of all I leapt up in great amazement: nothing like this had ever happened to me before, not even in the most trivial detail; I had never, for instance, fallen asleep like this in my arm-chair. While I was standing and coming to myself I suddenly caught sight of my revolver lying loaded, ready – but instantly I thrust it away! Oh, now, life, life! I lifted up my hands and called upon eternal truth, not with words, but with tears; ecstasy, immeasurable ecstasy flooded my soul. Yes, life and spreading the good tidings! Oh, I at that moment resolved to spread the tidings, and resolved it, of course, for my whole life. I go to spread the tidings, I want to spread the tidings – of what? Of the truth, for I have seen it, have seen it with my own eyes, have seen it in all its glory.

And since then I have been preaching! Moreover I love all those who laugh at me more than any of the rest. Why that is so I do not know and cannot explain, but so be it. I am told that I am vague and confused, and if I am vague and confused now, what shall I be later on? It is true indeed: I am vague and confused, and perhaps as time goes on I shall be more so. And of course I shall make many blunders before I find out how to preach, that is, find out what words to say, what things to do, for it is a very difficult task. I see all that as clear as daylight, but, listen, who does not make mistakes? And yet, you know, all are making for the same goal, all are striving in the same direction anyway, from the sage to the lowest robber, only by different roads. It is an old truth, but this is what is new: I cannot go far wrong. For I have seen the truth; I have seen and I know that people can be beautiful and happy without losing the power of living on earth. I will not and cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of mankind. And it is just this faith of mine that they laugh at. But how can I help believing it? I have seen the truth – it is not as though I had invented it with my mind, I have seen it, seen it, and the living image of it has filled my soul forever. I have seen it in such full perfection that I cannot believe that it is impossible for people to have it. And so how can I go wrong? I shall make some slips no doubt, and shall perhaps talk in second-hand language, but not for long: the living image of what I saw will always be with me and will always correct and guide me. Oh, I am full of courage and freshness, and I will go on and on if it were for a thousand years! Do you know, at first I meant to conceal the fact that I corrupted them, but that was a mistake – that was my first mistake! But truth whispered to me that I was lying, and preserved me and corrected me. But how establish paradise – I don’t know, because I do not know how to put it into words. After my dream I lost command of words. All the chief words, anyway, the most necessary ones. But never mind, I shall go and I shall keep talking, I won’t leave off, for anyway I have seen it with my own eyes, though I cannot describe what I saw. But the scoffers do not understand that. It was a dream, they say, delirium, hallucination. Oh! As though that meant so much! And they are so proud! A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream? I will say more. Suppose that this paradise will never come to pass (that I understand), yet I shall go on preaching it. And yet how simple it is: in one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once! The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that’s the chief thing, and that’s everything; nothing else is wanted – you will find out at once how to arrange it all. And yet it’s an old truth which has been told and retold a billion times – but it has not formed part of our lives!…If only everyone wants it, it can be arranged at once.

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Azerbaijan: Entire Armed Forces Brought Under NATO Standards

October 30, 2012 1 comment

Trend News Agency
October 30, 2012

Defense ministry: Azerbaijani Armed Forces brought to conformity with NATO standards
E. Mehdiyev


Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Baku: The entire staff structure of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces has been brought into conformity with NATO standards, head of the Defense Ministry press service Eldar Sabiroglu told media today.

“Azerbaijani officers in NATO headquarters serve as NATO officers and the number of these officers is growing,” he said.

Sabiroglu said that Azerbaijan has its military attaches and representatives in 21 countries and cooperates with 53 countries in the military sphere.

“The High Military School in Azerbaijan is so developed that students from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan study here,” he said. “Several other countries have also appealed regarding sending their students.”


NATO war games in Azerbaijan in 2009

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NATO International School of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan-NATO Relations

Information on Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation

Azerbaijan was among the first countries from the former Soviet Union, who joined the Partnership for Peace (PFP) programme of NATO. The President of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Heydar Aliyev signed the PFP Framework Document on the accession to PFP during his official visit to NATO HQ on 4 May 1994.

In order to determine the areas of future cooperation with NATO, Azerbaijan prepared the PFP Presentation document and submitted it to the Alliance in April 1996. Bilateral partnership incorporated such spheres as military cooperation, defence modernization, democratic control of the armed forces, political consultations on security issues, peace support operations, security sector reform, civil emergency planning, security related scientific, economic and environmental cooperation.

Since 1996, on the basis of its Presentation Document and Partnership Work Programme prepared by the NATO, Azerbaijan has been annually adopting Individual Partnership Programme (IPP), which includes all joint activities and events to be attended by national military and civilian representatives. Annually expanding the scope of its Individual Partnership Programme, Azerbaijan participated in more than 250 NATO/PFP activities and events in 2007. This number is one of the highest in the ranking among the Partner Nations and the highest one in the South Caucasus.

In 2006, Government of Azerbaijan increased financing of the PFP Programme from 300 000 USD to 850 000 USD. In 2007 this figure was increased to 1.8 million USD. In 2008 it was approximately 2 million USD.

In 1997 Azerbaijan joined the Planning and Review Process (PARP). PARP related activities were aimed at engaging Azerbaijan more closely to NATO’s defence planning for operations. Since then Azerbaijani Armed Forces are undertaking increasing number of so-called Partnership Goals (PG) based on two-year cycles . PG are focused on achieving military interoperability with NATO troops through introduction of NATO’s political-military, military, training and technical standards.

In 2002 Azerbaijan proposed to extend PfP cooperation to broader security sector issues such as the defence against terrorism, the modernization of the State Border Service and transformation of Internal Troops. At the moment, Azerbaijan has undertaken more than 50 Partnership Goals, mainly related to national defence and security sectors.

In 2002 NATO/EAPC Prague Summit adopted Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) instrument in order to improve cooperation with the Partner nations. In May 2003 Azerbaijan formally applied for joining the IPAP. In May 2004 President of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev officially submitted the IPAP Presentation Document to the Alliance, which included comprehensive information on the current status of political, economic and security developments in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan and NATO elaborated and approved the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) in May 2005, on the basis of this Presentation Document. The IPAP covers all major political, defence, security and security related economic, scientific and environmental spheres. IPAP implementation and update is based on two-year cycles and annual assessment reports, which are considered at the level of North Atlantic Council +Azerbaijan.

In August 2007 Azerbaijan has completed first IPAP cycle. The new IPAP document was approved in March 2008. Since the adoption of the first IPAP of Azerbaijan in May 2005 real steps have been made towards its successful implementation, including in the sphere of security sector reform. Taking together all the fields of cooperation, progress of Azerbaijan on implementation of IPAP has been considerable.

- Special Presidential decree was issued to task the State Commission, which is composed of the heads of various Ministries, with IPAP’s implementation and defining resources. Since then budget allocations for IPAP and PFP activities have considerably increased.

- The progress has been made in the implementation of the most IPAP goals, including those events, which were added and amended during the modification of the IPAP document in Autumn 2006. The work has also begun on the elimination of the shortcomings in the field of controlling, directing and planning of the IPAP process.

- Work on the National Security Concept has been completed and it was subsequently endorsed by the Government and Parliament on 19 May 2007. The work on the Military doctrine is close to finalisation. These two fundamental documents will guide the Strategic Defence Review of the security sector.

- Despite the on-going conflict, the process of gradual transformation of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan has been started. Structural changes on the basis of NATO standarts are under way within MOD, General Staff and army units. It is planned to complete this process in 2009 integrating needs and requirements identified within the Strategic Defence Review (SDR).

- Appropriate measures are being taken for gradual transformation of the State Border Service (SBS) from military strucuture into a law-enforcement type of organization. Considerable work has been done for the reinforcement of technical capabilities and improvement of human resources management within the State Border Service.

- Azerbaijan has already integrated NATO standards into the national military education and training system.

- Amendments to the national legislation are being prepared on the establishment of practical policy related to the career development of civilian personal within the defence system. This will contribute to further strengthening of civilian control on the armed forces.

- Cooperation in the field of Public Diplomacy and Science, as well as the Trust Fund Project on the cleaning of the unexploded munitions have been continuning with success. The foundation of the Euro-Atlantic Centre within the Azerbaijan State Library in Baku, official registration of NISA (NATO International School of Azerbaijan) as an NGO, the beginning of the implemention of the project of Melange conversion and the conclusion of the second cycle of NATO PFP Saloglu Project (the cleaning of 600 hectars of land of Agstafa region of Azerbaijan from unexploded artillery shells and other ammunition) are the main issues in this direction.

Republic of Azerbaijan is following closely the future development of Partnership with NATO and continuesly contributes to its expansion to wider areas.

With regard to the future of the Partnership and the policy of NATO in the region, Azerbaijan considers that the security in Euro-Atlantic area depends on improvement of the capacity of crises management, creation of secure transport corridors, and development of energy security. All of these are essential for the development of Partnership as an institution. The development of Partnership has to give opportunity for the development of security cooperation with NATO on the basis of 3 pillars: political unanimity, legal harmony, practical interoperability.

Against the background of the increasing global role of NATO and on the basis of the principles provided for in the Partnership for Peace Framework Document, such development has to ensure security guarantees to Partners, which actively share European values and respect international law.

Providing security guarantees would prevent the violation of international law and promote stability in international relations.

Please see the official MFA of Republic of Azerbaijan and NATO websites for more information:

http://www.nato.int/issues/nato-azerbaijan/index.html

http://www.otan.nato.int/issues/nato-azerbaijan/practice.html

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U.S. Establishing Georgia As Strategic NATO Outpost In Caucasus: Analyst

October 30, 2012 1 comment

Fars News Agency
October 30, 2012

Analyst: Georgia Serving NATO as Caucasus Base


U.S. Army Brigadier General William Garrett, U.S Southern European Task Force (Airborne) Commander and exercise director for Exercise Immediate Response 2008, leads Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (second from right), Georgian Minister of Defense Davit Kezerashvili (third from right) and Georgian Chief of Joint Defense Brigadier General Zaza Gogava on a tour of the Vaziani Training Area during the NATO Partnership for Peace military exercise some sixteen days before Georgia invaded South Ossetia.

TEHRAN: The US and other NATO members have increased their ties and cooperation with Georgia during the past two decades and the Caucasus state is now playing a major role in NATO’s strategic plans, analysts say.

“Right now the US and other leading NATO members are expanding their relations with Tbilisi in the political, military and technical fields and the US congress has recently approved strengthening military cooperation with Georgia and arms shipments to the Caucasus country,” Stanislav Ivanov, an analyst of Caucasus affairs, wrote in an article about NATO-Georgia relations.

He said a pro-Georgian lobby has also been established in the US congress and that the necessary financial backup has been allocated in the Pentagon’s 2012 budget for arms assistance to Georgia.

The US is not at all trying to hide its plan for turning Georgia into a NATO base in the region and is encouraging other NATO members to join efforts to strengthen the Georgian armed forces.

Georgia and North Atlantic Treaty Organization relations officially began in 1994 when Georgia joined the NATO-run Partnership for Peace. Georgia has moved quickly following the so-called Rose Revolution in 2003 to seek closer ties with and eventual membership in NATO.

Georgia opened official relations with NATO in 1998 by opening a diplomatic mission and assigning an ambassador. Following more discussions, the first joint military exercises occurred in Poti in 2001, with more in 2002.

The so-called Rose Revolution in 2003 replaced Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze with Mikheil Saakashvili, who has promoted closer ties with Western institutions including NATO. In 2004, Georgian forces worked with NATO forces in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan as part of the election security force.

Meantime the US hopes for continued cooperation with Georgia on the Iranian and Turkish-Syrian issues. The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin stated this while answering journalists’ questions at a briefing at the US embassy in Tbilisi in October 2012.

He emphasized that the USA and Georgia have established good relations on this issue.

“Our cooperation on the Turkish-Syrian issue is considerable,” Rubin added.

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Finland, Sweden To Join NATO Air Surveillance Over Iceland

October 30, 2012 1 comment

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden

Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia

End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe

Reuters
October 30, 2012

Finland, Sweden to help NATO in Iceland air policing
By Terhi Kinnunen

HELSINKI: Finland and Sweden plan to join some NATO air surveillance operations over Iceland, their prime ministers said on Tuesday, in a sign the neutral Nordic states are ready for more cooperation with the Western alliance.

Iceland, a NATO member without its own air force, had asked Finland and Sweden to help the alliance monitor its airspace.

The move has been politically sensitive, particularly in Finland where many fear it would breach the country’s neutrality and provoke neighboring Russia.

“Finland will inform Iceland’s government that we are willing to participate in Iceland’s air space surveillance in 2014, together with Sweden,” Katainen said at a meeting of Nordic leaders in Helsinki.

His conservative National Coalition party favors closer cooperation with NATO to strengthen national security.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, at the same meeting, said his country was “positive” about Iceland’s request. Swedish participation was a condition for Finland’s decision to join the operations.

Finland’s opposition politicians criticized the plan.

“Participating in the air surveillance of a NATO member country absolutely does not concern non-allied Finland,” Kimmo Tiilikainen of the Centre Party said in a statement.

A Finnish opinion survey on Tuesday showed 42 percent of Finns opposed participation and 22 percent supported it, while the rest did not have a stance.

(Additional reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Helsingin Sanomat
October 26, 2012

Opposition lashes out against participation in monitoring of Iceland’s airspace

All opposition forces in the Finnish Parliament – the Finns Party, the Centre Party, and the Left Group (which broke away from the Left Alliance because it disapproved of the party’s decision to join the current coalition government), have come out against Finnish participation in the monitoring of the airspace of Iceland.

The stand taken by the Centre Party was especially disappointing to Minister of Defence Carl Haglund (Swed. People’s Party).

The opponents say that organising the monitoring of Iceland’s airspace is the responsibility of NATO. “NATO is cutting costs, and Finland pays”, said Jussi Niinistö (Finns Party), chairman of the Parliament’s Defence Committee.
     
Haglund maintains that the flights over Iceland would be paid out of the Defence Forces’ normal flight budget, but Niinistö disputes this. Both Niinistö, and Defence Committee vice chairman Seppo Kääriäinen (Centre) say that the project is very political.

They both see no military benefit for Finland from the practice in Iceland.
     
The Centre Party made reference to a statement by the Defence Committee from 2009 in which Finnish participation in Iceland’s air surveillance was not considered possible.

Kääriäinen emphasised that the project is not compatible with any of the tasks that have been set in Finnish law for the country’s Defence Forces.

Jussi Niinistö says that the biggest question is, if Finland will take part in exercises alone, or if the activity will also involve identification flights. If the latter is the case, he says that Finnish legislation would have to be amended. “That would be quite a big leap for Finland, which is not allied”, Niinistö said.
     
Defence Committee member Pentti Oinonen (Finns Party) voiced amazement that the Defence Forces are shutting down garrisons in Finland, while at the same time they seem to be able to afford to go to Iceland.

“The government is more concerned about the security of NATO countries than about maintaining defence capability.” Defence Committee member Jyrki Yrttiaho (Left Group) asked if it is the task of the Finnish Defence Forces now to take part in NATO surveillance. “How would Finland respond to a possible request from the Baltic Countries to take part in the monitoring of its air space?”
     
Haglund said that participation in identification flights is something that is hoped for, but that it does not play a very big part in the project.

“This year there have been no aircraft flying near Iceland that would have required identification.”

Niinistö opined that it is certain that if Sweden and Finland start monitoring airspace over Iceland, Russia will want to test the quality of the surveillance.

“Every great power does this kind of testing. It is quite natural”, Niinistö said.

In the view of Defence Minister Haglund, Finland would have an estimated 80 flight hours over Iceland in 2014 – about one per cent of the flight hours for the whole year.
     
The Defence minister says that an initial decision on Finnish participation might be forthcoming as early as next week.
     

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Georgia’s Saakashvili: Washington’s Man to the End

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Frontline
October 20-November 2, 2012

Georgians vote for change
John Cherian


Misha and Barry at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, who thought he was politically indestructible, finally met his nemesis in the form of a reclusive billionaire, Bidzina Ivanishvili. In the parliamentary elections held on October 1, the coalition led by Ivanishvili, “The Georgian Dream”, won 55 per cent of the vote. Saakashvili, despite predictions to the contrary, was quick to accept the result. He has one more year in office as President. Ivanishvili, who will assume the Prime Minster’s post, demanded in his first press conference after the election results the President’s immediate resignation. However, after strong protests from Western capitals, he accepted political cohabitation with his bete noire. Under a new constitution, the Prime Minister will exercise executive authority and the President will be a rubber stamp.

Saakashvili became President in 2003 after staging a “rose revolution” with the support of the West to undemocratically oust the government led by Eduard Shevernadze. The Western-educated Saakashvili promptly became the West’s point man in the region, breaking the country’s traditional links with Russia. Georgia applied to be a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and even sent troops to fight alongside the United States/NATO forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. President George W. Bush was given a hero’s welcome when he visited Georgia in 2005. The U.S. had assured Saakashvili that Georgia would eventually be made a full member of NATO, but other member countries did not want to anger Russia and managed to put the issue of Georgia’s membership on hold.

Saakashvili’s political unravelling started after his disastrous attempt to reincorporate South Ossetia. The brief conflict in 2008 led to the death of more than 2,000 people and a crushing military defeat for the Georgian army. Russian troops, which were stationed in South Ossetia, were at the doors of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. The war made Saakashvili unpopular, but he tried to brazen it out by resorting to more authoritarian methods. All the while, the West stood by him. On a recent visit to Georgia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused Ivanishvili’s request for a one-on-one meeting. The U.S. had put all its bets on Saakashvili winning the elections.

The turning point in the election campaign, according to observers, was the secret footage that emerged showing the rampant abuse of prisoners in Georgian jails. The tapes, showing jailers torturing and raping prisoners, became the final proof for Georgians that the rule of law was being wantonly trampled upon in their country since Saakashvili came to power.

Ivanishvili made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since his entry into politics a year ago, he has been calling for improved relations with Moscow. Saakashvili had tried to paint him as an “agent” of Moscow. The economic sanctions that Russia had imposed after the 2008 military confrontation had an adverse impact on Georgia’s economy. Ivanishvili has said that the U.S. will continue to be his country’s “first friend”. At the same time, he emphasised that it was important to “have good relations with everybody”.

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Leo Tolstoy: Murder and vengeance are not the will of the people

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

Leo Tolstoy: Selections on war

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Leo Tolstoy
From Anna Karenina (1877)
Translated by Constance Garnett

images

“So it is with the unanimity of the press. That’s been explained to me: as soon as there’s war their incomes are doubled…”

“I don’t care for many of the papers, but that’s unjust,” said Sergey Ivanovitch.

“I would only make one condition,” pursued the old prince. “Alphonse Karr said a capital thing before the war with Prussia: ‘You consider war to be inevitable? Very good. Let everyone who advocates war be enrolled in a special regiment of advance-guards, for the front of every storm, of every attack, to lead them all!'”

“A nice lot the editors would make!” said Katavasov, with a loud roar, as he pictured the editors he knew in this picked legion.

“But they’d run,” said Dolly, “they’d only be in the way.”

“Oh, if they ran away, then we’d have grape-shot or Cossacks with whips behind them,” said the prince.

He [Levin] saw that it was impossible to convince his brother and Katavasov, and he saw even less possibility of himself agreeing with them. What they advocated was the very pride of intellect that had almost been his ruin. He could not admit that some dozens of men, among them his brother, had the right, on the ground of what they were told by some hundreds of glib volunteers swarming to the capital, to say that they and the newspapers were expressing the will and feeling of the people, and a feeling which was expressed in vengeance and murder. He could not admit this, because he neither saw the expression of such feelings in the people among whom he was living, nor found them in himself (and he could not but consider himself one of the persons making up the Russian people), and most of all because he, like the people, did not know and could not know what is for the general good, though he knew beyond a doubt that this general good could be attained only by the strict observance of that law of right and wrong which has been revealed to every man, and therefore he could not wish for war or advocate war for any general objects whatever.

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NATO Ruined Libya, Unleashed Genocidal Horror

October 29, 2012 5 comments

Voice of Russia
October 29, 2012

NATO accused of ruining Libya

In a book that came out in Moscow on Monday, the Russian Middle East expert Dr Anatoli Yegorin accuses NATO of destroying the Libyan economy.

He says the damage from NATO’s air campaign alone was seven times bigger than that suffered by Libya during WWII. He also points out that the West has so far failed to return an estimated $150bln worth of assets that were stashed by the ousted Gaddafi clan in a number of Western countries.

The analyst also calls attention to the fact that Libya is now ungovernable.

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RT
October 28, 2012

Siege of Bani Walid: Foreign fighters, phosphorus bombs and nerve gas – RT sources

The besieged Libyan city of Bani Walid has been plunged into chaos. RT sources say that the former Gaddafi regime stronghold is under attack by militias bolstered by foreign mercenaries, and they used banned weapons like white phosphorous.

­The sources denied reports of the last few days that Bani Walid was retaken by the Libyan government. Residents said that militia forces have continued their assault, while preventing the refugees who fled from reentering the city.

A man who claimed his relatives are trapped inside the besieged city spoke with RT, saying, “There is no food; there is nothing to support the life of people. And the militia does not allow anyone to come back to their homes.”

“They are demolishing homes with machinery and tanks. There is no communication or internet so people are not able to connect with each other,” the source said. He is currently in Egypt, and refuses to reveal his identity over fears of personal safety.

He believes the real reason for the inoperable communications is that many people have been killed inside Bani Walid by the forces besieging the city and now they are trying to prevent information about the killings to be leaked outside.

The militia attackers have claimed they are battling ‘pro-Gaddafi’ forces, but the source slammed that motive as a “lie and a dirty game.”

“They use foreign snipers, I think from Qatar or Turkey, with Qatar covering all the costs,” he said. He claimed that a ship with weapons and other equipment recently docked in the port city of Misrata, where the assault on Bani Walid is allegedly being directed.

“There is no government in Libya. Groups of militia control everything. They don’t care about Libya, they don’t care about the nation,” he said, adding allegations that the majority of militia fighters have dual citizenship or passports from other countries.

“We ask the envoy [Special Representative] of the Secretary-General of the United Nations [for Libya] Mr. Tarik Mitri – where is he now?” he said. “Where is the United Nations? Where is the EU? Where is the Human Rights Watch? We ask for an intervention now as soon as possible – please!”

In an October 23 UN session, the US blocked a statement on the violence in Bani Walid drafted by Russia, which condemned the ongoing conflict in the city and calling for a peaceful resolution.


RT Photo from Bani Walid. RT source. The photo could not be independently verified.

Witnesses claim militia used chemical weapons in Bani Walid

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas. We have documented all this in videos, we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles,” Bani Walid-based activist and lawyer Afaf Yusef told RT.

“Many people died without being wounded or shot, they died as a result of gases. The whole world needs to see who they are targeting. Are they really Gaddafi’s men? Are the children, women and old men killed – Gaddafi’s men?” Yusef said.

The forces attacking Bani Walid have been ordered to use “all means necessary” in their assault on the city, RT’s Paula Slier reported.

“To all parasites and leaches, a message to all of them across Libya, wherever they are: Whoever you are, however strong you are, and whoever your back is – the revolution should win,” a militant said in the TV report.


RT Photo from Bani Walid.

­‘Militias using planes and chemical weapons in Bani Walid’

­People inside Bani Walid are saying that chemical weapons and airplanes were used in the attack on the town, which has left houses burnt and looted as residents fled the city, Libyan activist Ali Altakasih told RT.

“I was sent a report that was issued by the local hospital in Bani Walid in which they also claim that the militia had used chemical weapons,” he said, adding that he believes the militias have “no principles” and the government has no control over them so they will use whatever weapons they have at their disposal without hesitation.

“They also used planes to bomb the city and there was a report yesterday showing a plane over Bani Walid,” he said. “I was told by cousins and friends that planes were also used to bomb the city, chemical weapons were also used on Bani Walid, killing people inside the city.”

RT was unable to verify these claims by Ali Altakasih, spokesman for the Werfallah tribe which supported Gaddafi, of whether chemical weapons have been used or not. But he insists that if a fact-finding mission is sent to Bani Walid it would easily gather evidence and proof of unconventional weapons being used against civilians.

As the West is turning its back on Libyans and letting militias do whatever they want, Altakasih is urging the international community – particularly Russia and China – to interfere to stop these militias.

“I think the West is turning their back on Libyans and letting these militias do whatever they want to the Libyans,” he said. “They either kill them or torture them, no-one in the West is even criticizing these militias, so Libya is left alone at the moment. We urge Russia and we urge China and we urge the rest of the world to interfere and stop these militias because what they did so far is only kill civilians, many civilians, children were killed, and houses are being burnt.”

The people who are trying to return to the city are being stopped by militias, Altakasih confirmed, adding that there is still communication inside the city which makes it hard to verify what is happening on the ground. The images coming from the city now are very gloomy with people afraid to leave their homes and militias burning and looting houses.

“Any house that looks of great importance to the militias is either burnt or robbed,” Altakasih said. “There are people who are trapped inside the city who cannot leave the city, either for fear of the militia or fear of leaving their belongings inside the city.”

The conflict in Bani Walid is not really a political one but rather tribal as Misrata militias are trying to take control of the whole of Libya and exterminate any opposition, especially inside the former Gaddafi stronghold.

“To be honest this conflict is tribal in nature because the militia is mainly from Misrata supported by other militias from other cities nearby Misrata, because of the conflict that took place between two tribes 92 years ago,” Altakasih explained. “In this conflict one of the Misrata tribes or leaders was killed when he attacked Bani Walid.”
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Looming humanitarian catastrophe in Bani WalidThe humanitarian situation outside Bani Walid is reportedly nearly as dire as that within the besieged city. Those who managed to flee the violence now find themselves stranded on the desert roads outside the city.

Thousands of Bani Walid residents have reportedly tried to reenter the city, but were stopped at makeshift militia checkpoints composed of pickup trucks armed with mounted machine-guns.

“Look at the people over there, they got a gun and they’re shooting at people with it,” a Bani Walid resident said, pointing in the direction of a checkpoint. He claimed that those who fled the city had been forced to stay in the desert for more than a week.

“Where is the government?” he said.


Photo from Bani Walid. RT source.


Photo from Bani Walid. RT source.

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Hillary Clinton: Third Leg of Presidential Election Stool

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
October 29, 2012

Hillary seeking a graceful exit?
Boris Volkhonsky

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[I]nstead of ending the two wars, Obama and his foreign policy and security team have bogged down in one of them for an unspecified time, and would have done the same in Iraq as well had they not irritated the host country to the extent its leaders could not stand it any longer.

In addition, Obama enthusiastically participated in the aggression his European NATO allies launched against Libya, making Hillary Clinton cry in joy at hearing the news of Muammar Gaddafi’s murder.

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On Friday, the Washington Post published an interview with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, outlining her plans for the time after Barack Obama’s next inauguration (assuming that he wins the November 6 election). According to the Post, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has told President Barack Hussein Obama that she will stay in office until her successor is confirmed, but said in an interview that “this is not an open-ended kind of time frame.”

“I’m aiming to leave shortly after the inauguration; that’s my plan. But I haven’t been able to sit down and talk to the president yet because he’s trying to win an election…And then we will talk through how to do the transition,” said Ms. Hillary.

It looks like the full stop has been put in an issue which has been discussed for years – ever since Ms. Hillary (before that Barack Obama’s competitor in the race for democratic nomination) accepted his offer to join his team as the Secretary of State. Some analysts, though, back in 2009 pointed out that the offer in fact worked the other way round – it was an offer made to Barack Obama which he was unable to turn down.

In any case, foreign policy has been one of the floppiest endeavors of the current administration even against the background of other domestic challenges. Back in 2008, during the election campaign, there were two main promises Obama made – that is to end the war in Iraq and to end the war in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq was ended with about 40,000 US “instructors” remaining there until the Iraqi government kicked them out.

The war in Afghanistan, despite the highly publicized plans of troop withdrawal by the end of 2014, is far from over. It still remains unclear whether the US troops will remain in Afghan thereafter. Or, rather it is clear that they will, but doubts remain as to their number and exact mission.

So, instead of ending the two wars, Obama and his foreign policy and security team have bogged down in one of them for an unspecified time, and would have done the same in Iraq as well had they not irritated the host country to the extent its leaders could not stand it any longer.

In addition, Obama enthusiastically participated in the aggression his European NATO allies launched against Libya, making Hillary Clinton cry in joy at hearing the news of Muammar Gaddafi’s murder.

One may add to that the whole business of rattling the saber in regard to Syria and Iran, which is done by President Obama, his State Secretary and the rest of foreign policy and security team.

Then why is Ms. Hillary announcing her retirement after the inauguration?

The answer is simple. In cases of a successful presidency, it is always useful to be a member of the president’s team by the end of his second term. It usually gives a boost similar to the one experienced by incumbents who have a natural advantage of up to 20 percent against newcomers.

Ms. Hillary definitely has not abandoned her hopes ruined by Barack Obama in 2008. Formally, a third presidential term is not something which the US constitution encourages. But the nominal president in 1993 – 2001 was not Hillary Rodham, it was the sax player, womanizer and nice guy Bill Clinton. So, legally speaking, nothing prevents Hillary from at least trying once again to return to the White House.

But then again, Barack Obama’s presidency is far from successful. His reelection on November 6 which looks imminent should not misguide anyone – in any case it won’t be Obama who wins, it will be his contender who loses.

But if in 2016 the GOP comes up with a more attractive candidate, being on the acting president’s team, instead of an advantage will become an obvious obstacle. Ms. Hillary is wise enough to realize that, and hence her decision to quit Obama’s team beforeit is too late.

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

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World War I-Type Shadow Of War Looms Over East Asia

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Times
October 29, 2012

Shadow of war hasn’t yet disappeared from East Asia
By Guan Yan


Illustration: Liu Rui

As tensions in East Asia grow, driven by conflicts over islands, China’s rising power, and the renewed US role in the region, some find the situation disturbingly reminiscent of Europe in the 1910s. Could the region be drawn into a wider war? Or will trade and economic interdependence keep peace in place? The Global Times invited two writers to comment.

History does offer clues to contemporary international relations, but simple comparisons can sometimes lead to misleading, if not dangerous, conclusions.

The surging nationalism in East and Southeast Asia, stirred by territorial disputes, is seen by some scholars as similar to the situation of Europe before World War I. In particular, the rise of China is singled out as the most uncertain element of regional security.

It’s true that a new rising power causes apprehension among its neighbors, as happened in history when the previous power structures were broken. In the case of East and Southeast Asia today, the situation is complicated by the US pivot to the region.

Washington is shifting resources to the Asia-Pacific region to maintain its influence in this economically booming area, and to keep China, deemed its biggest potential challenger, in check.

The maneuver puts China in a security dilemma, which makes China feel under pressure to strengthen its defense capabilities. The US move also chills the cooperative atmosphere in the area. Efforts at boosting regional integration on many fronts, from the established ASEAN 10+3 framework to the nascent East Asia Community concept, have been experiencing frustration. Countries in the region are feeling forced into a choice between China and the US.

There are also other explosive factors in the region that may trigger serious clashes. Japan, trapped in protracted economic hibernation, diminishing global influence, and with mixed feelings toward its rising neighbor, is gradually turning to the right.

Frequent political reshuffling hasn’t brought a cure for national woes, but only produced more hawkish politicians. Territorial disputes have been provoked not only with China, but also with South Korea and Russia. Japan may find it difficult to position itself correctly in the region any time soon. But politicians in Tokyo are starting to reassess their previous strategy over the Diaoyu conflict, and remedial work is being quietly carried out.

The tensions reflect a much broader strategic competition. Economic interdependence may not be able to solely prevent the occurrence of war, but it provides more opportunities in times of diplomatic bickering.

Almost a century after World War I, while national sentiments can still be intensively aroused by a specific issue, such as territorial disputes or trade conflict, it will be much harder to unite public support behind a war…

That said, the mechanisms in place can’t rule out the possibility of war in East Asia. The scars of past invasions haven’t been healed, economic deterioration is deepening the sense of crisis in some countries, and irresponsible politicians are manipulating public sentiment for short-term gain. In that sense, the shadow of war hasn’t really gone away.

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U.S. Veterans Call for Immediate End to Afghan War

October 27, 2012 3 comments

Xinhua News Agency
October 27, 2012

U.S. veterans call for immediate end of Afghan war

LOS ANGELES: U.S. veterans on Friday called for an immediate end of the War in Afghanistan and slashed both U.S. presidential candidates for their identical positions on the war.

The appeal came in a strongly worded statement released by Michael Prysner, an Iraq War veteran and co-founder of March Forward, an organization of veterans and service members against war and racism.

Now in its 11th year, the longest in U.S. history, the War in Afghanistan has been a failure with more than 2,000 U.S. troops being lost during President Barack Obama’s term alone, Prysner said.

He also noted that the American people are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war, which over 60 percent of Americans want to put an end to immediately.

The Afghan people, he added, also have endured immeasurable sufferings in the war.

“The White House admits we are not actually fighting al-Qaeda or even al-Qaeda’s allies in Afghanistan. The people we are actually at war against are people who played no role in the attacks and admittedly pose no threat to the United States,” Prysner said.

“The Afghan people are not our enemies,” he said. “The reason armed groups of Afghans all over the country are fighting the occupying forces is because they, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.”

He said most Americans support an immediate, rapid withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which will have the same results as a slow withdrawal through 2014 but can cut deaths and casualties of U.S. troops by thousands.

The veteran also lashed out at the Monday night presidential debate on foreign policy, in which the two candidates seemed to be eye to eye on the war. That gave voters no choice to change U.S. policy in Afghanistan, he said.

“The presidential debate, in reality, was not for us,” Prysner said. “It was for the military-industrial complex, energy companies and investors. The candidates were competing for the support of those with billions of dollars to hand over to their campaigns.”

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State Department: U.S. Supports Georgia’s NATO Integration

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Trend News Agency
October 26, 2012

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State: U.S. support Georgia’s integration into NATO
N. Kirtskhalia

Tbilisi: The Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin has expressed support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and its integration into NATO.

The parliamentary elections in Georgia were one of the main issues in Rubin’s speech at the U.S. Centre for National Interests on Friday.
Rubin spoke about the reforms carried out in Georgia, and stressed the importance of cooperation between the old and the new government.

“I would like to make note of what I saw in Tbilisi last week. After a heated election campaign both sides began to work for a peaceful transfer of power. This has started well and the parties are working constructively,” the Deputy Secretary of State stated.

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Ministry of Defence of Georgia
October 25, 2012

Baltic Defence College Delegation visits Defence Ministry

A Baltic Defence College Delegation is visiting Georgia on a study trip. The delegation headed by Commandant BG Kiili Meelis has visited the Ministry of Defence today. Deputy Ministers Davit Nardaia and Maia-Siprashvili-Lee hosted the Baltic Defence College representatives.

At the meeting MoD officials briefed the visitors on the NATO integration process, Georgian defence policy aspects and defence planning challenges.

The Baltic delegation has also met with Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff of GAF Colonel Merab Kikabidze. The sides discussed ongoing defence reforms, military education system, involvement in international missions and the key challenges in the field of defence.

In the scope of the visit in Georgia, the Baltic delegation members plan to visit the Vaziani military base. Meetings are also scheduled with Deputy Secretary of National Security Council, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies.

The Baltic Defence College Delegation`s visit in Georgia will be over on October 28.

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U.S. Military Chief: Pentagon Deploys Troops To Turkey

October 27, 2012 1 comment

Trend News Agency
October 26, 2012

Dempsey: US sent troops to Turkey many times to assist in anti-terror efforts


X-band missile radar of the type deployed to Turkey in January

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has said there have been many times when the US sent teams to Turkey to assist the country in fighting against the…Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Todays Zaman newspaper reported.

In response to a question at a recent Pentagon press conference about the cooperation between Turkey and the US, Dempsey said his country sent troops to Turkey many times before to assist the country in meeting humanitarian needs emanating from the refugee flow, developing a ballistic missile defense system and fighting against the PKK.


U.S. military at the Incirlik Air Base

Fighting between the Turkish military and the PKK has intensified in recent months, a development that some Turkish officials and analysts have linked to the chaos in neighboring Syria.

“Adm. James Winnefeld, my vice chairman, has just returned from Turkey after having talks with Turkish military and government officials on these issues,” Dempsey said adding that the US has been sharing intelligence with Turkey for the past five years.

Dempsey’s remarks came after US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said the US army has had “few” personnel recently in Turkey in a bid to assist Turkey in handling the spillover of the Syrian crisis to its neighboring country.

“We have had a relatively few number of US Army Europe personnel in Turkey recently. Some of that has been sharing intelligence,” Hertling was quoted as saying by American news magazine US News & World Report on Tuesday.

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Today’s Zaman
October 26, 2012

Dempsey: US sent troops to Turkey many times to assist in anti-terror efforts

İSTANBUL: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has said there have been many times when the US sent teams to Turkey to assist the country in fighting against the…Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In response to a question at a recent Pentagon press conference about the cooperation between Turkey and the US, Dempsey said his country sent troops to Turkey many times before to assist the country in meeting humanitarian needs emanating from the refugee flow, developing a ballistic missile defense system and fighting against the PKK.

Fighting between the Turkish military and the PKK has intensified in recent months, a development that some Turkish officials and analysts have linked to the chaos in neighboring Syria.

“Adm. James Winnefeld, my vice chairman, has just returned from Turkey after having talks with Turkish military and government officials on these issues,” Dempsey said adding that the US has been sharing intelligence with Turkey for the past five years.

Dempsey’s remarks came after US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said the US army has had “few” personnel recently in Turkey in a bid to assist Turkey in handling the spillover of the Syrian crisis to its neighboring country.

“We have had a relatively few number of US Army Europe personnel in Turkey recently. Some of that has been sharing intelligence,” Hertling was quoted as saying by American news magazine US News & World Report on Tuesday.

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Videos and Photos: U.S. Holds Largest-Ever Missile Tests With Interceptor Triad

October 26, 2012 2 comments

Missile Defense Agency
October 25, 2012

Ballistic Missile Defense System Engages Five Targets Simultaneously During Largest Missile Defense Flight Test in History

Photographs and videos:

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3)

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Army soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC); U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62); and airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.

An integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture used multiple sensors and missile defense systems to engage multiple targets at the same time. All targets were successfully launched and initial indications are that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted its first Medium Range Ballistic target in history, and PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a Short Range Ballistic Missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water.

The live-fire demonstration, conducted at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Hickam AFB, and surrounding areas in the western Pacific, stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), THAAD, and PATRIOT weapon systems.

An Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile was airdropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. THAAD was operated by Soldiers from the 32nd AAMDC.

Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the broad ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The PATRIOT system, manned by soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked and successfully intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor.

The USS FITZGERALD successfully engaged a low flying cruise missile over water. The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a Short-Range Ballistic Missile. However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM.

FTI-01 was a combined developmental and operational test. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from multiple Combatant Commands operated the systems and were provided a unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics. Program officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have completed 56 successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 71 flight test attempts since 2001.

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Star Wars or Star Peace?

October 26, 2012 1 comment

Russia & India Report
October 26, 2012

Star Wars or star peace?
Andrei Kislyakov

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The US is making huge investments into satellite technology. Back in 2009 US Defence Minister Robert Gates convinced Congress to designate a sum of $10.7 billion to developing this field.

“Whoever owns space also owns the world,” says the former Chief of Arms of the Russian Armed Forces, Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov. But people in the military are the first to admit that Russia is lagging far behind the USA when it comes to space systems.

At the moment the sky is home to around 500 American orbiters, and just 100 Russian ones.

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35 years after George Lucas’s Star Wars was released, there is a greater possibility of a space battle outside the realm of Hollywood.

Two new military satellites, one American, the other Russian, were recently launched into orbit. There is nothing particularly newsworthy about this since different satellites are constantly being sent up into space, but still, the event is yet another indication that space is becoming more militarised. If we are to prevent space from turning into a new kind of warzone, it is essential that international agreements to ban space armaments are developed and signed as a matter of urgency.

Back in 1977, no one would ever have believed George Lucas’s Star Wars Trilogy could become a reality. But today, 35 years after the film was first released, there is apparently a greater possibility of a space battle happening outside the realm of Hollywood fantasy. Space has become a central part of the military and defence policies in many of the world’s biggest states.

In the future a country at war will not try to occupy enemy territory directly. Instead it will concentrate on finding a country’s weak spots before issuing calculated blows. Ground troops and armoured vehicles will soon become a thing of the past, and strategic aviation is also set to take a back seat in the military campaigns of the future. Our understanding of ‘strategic armament’ has shifted from classic ‘nuclear defence triads’ towards non-nuclear armaments which rely on high-precision weapons systems and various means of deployment.

Wars of the future are expected to involve a lot of orbiters to ensure a country’s security: satellite reconnaissance, warning, forecasting and targeting systems – objects which themselves will need to be defended and armed.

The US is making huge investments into satellite technology. Back in 2009 US Defence Minister Robert Gates convinced Congress to designate a sum of $10.7 billion to developing this field. His successor in Barack Obama’s administration, Leon Panetta, clearly has no intention of lowering this sum.

Authoritative military analysts like for example, General Vladimir Slipchenko (who recently passed away), predict that by 2020 the world’s leading countries will have between 70,000-90,000 precision weapons. We can only imagine the number of satellite systems these will require. And without satellites, the cruise missiles and smart bombs that can be programmed to wipe out something as small as a mosquito are no more than useless lumps of metal.

And so it is only a matter of time before orbital systems are developed that will be able to independently hit targets in space, in the atmosphere or on the Earth itself. But just because the technology exists (or soon will do) it does not make it necessary to send military space stations into orbit, and this certainly should not mean that reconnaissance or meteorological satellites should have to be armed. In reality, the problems of satellite defence could be effectively dealt with from Earth.

“Whoever owns space also owns the world,” says the former Chief of Arms of the Russian Armed Forces, Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov. But people in the military are the first to admit that Russia is lagging far behind the USA when it comes to space systems.

At the moment the sky is home to around 500 American orbiters, and just 100 Russian ones. According to Russian experts the American satellite fleet is more than four times the size of the Russia’s. Plus which, not all of Russia’s orbiters are in good working condition. In the middle of June the experimental space-craft X-37B completed a successful autonomous landing after more than 15 months orbiting the Earth. X-37B’s Programme Manager Lt Col Tom McIntyre noted that following the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV programme would bring “a singular capability to space technology development.” The Americans do not hide the fact that this sort of technology could first and foremost be applied to create new armament opportunities.

In this respect Russia’s position is very different from that of the Americans. In May 2008 Commander of the Space Forces General Vladimir Popovkin (who is now in charge of Roscosmos) said: “We are categorically against placing or launching any sort of armaments into space, because space is one of the few areas where there are no borders. Introducing arms to space will upset the balance in the world.”

According to Popovkin space systems and complexes are technically very difficult and could easily fail. “As the Commander of Space Forces (in this case) I cannot guarantee that the object’s failure was not caused by the actions of a potential enemy”.

According to military experts, strategic nuclear stability, i.e. guarantees against a sudden nuclear missile strike, rely heavily on the efficacy of early warning satellites that detect missile launches, and also on the constant work of reconnaissance satellites. If one of these orbiters ceases to function, the security of the state that launched it may end up in jeopardy. This could in turn create an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty, which could ultimately lead to a military catastrophe.

It would seem that Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, one of the most important characters in the Star Wars films, was right when he said that the main secret of the film’s success was that it was “not about space, but about people; this is primarily a film about human relationships.” It is up to us humans to decide whether space shall remain as a peaceful realm or whether it will become another arena for military conflict.

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Georges Duhamel: The Third Symphony, a slender bridge across the abyss

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Georges Duhamel: Selections on war

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Georges Duhamel
From The New Book of Martyrs (1918)
Translated by Florence Simmonds

images

Throughout the Land

From the disfigured regions where the cannon reigns supreme, to the mountains of the South, to the ocean, to the glittering shores of the inland sea, the cry of wounded men echoes throughout the land, and a vast kindred cry seems to rise responsive from the whole world.

There is no French town in which the wounds inflicted on the battle-field are not bleeding. Not one which has not accepted the duty of assuaging something of the sum of suffering, just as it bears its part in the sum of mourning; not one which may not hear within its own walls an echo of the greater lamentation swelling and muttering where the conflict seems to rage unceasingly. The waves of war break upon the whole surface of the country, and like the incoming tide, strew it with wreckage.

In the beds which the piety of the public has prepared on every side, stricken men await the verdict of fate. The beds are white, the bandages are spotless; many faces smile until the hour when they are flushed with fever, and until that same fever makes a whole nation of wounded tremble on the Continent.

Some one who had been visiting the wounded said to me: “The beds are really very white, the dressings are clean, all the patients seem to be playing cards, reading the papers, eating dainties; they are simple, often very gentle, they don’t look very unhappy. They all tell the same story…The war has not changed them much. One can recognise them all.”

Are you sure that you recognise them? You have just been looking at them, are you sure that you have seen them?

Under their bandages are wounds you cannot imagine. Below the wounds, in the depths of the mutilated flesh, a soul, strange and furtive, is stirring in feverish exaltation, a soul which does not readily reveal itself, which expresses itself artlessly, but which I would fain make you understand.

In these days, when nothing retains its former semblance, all these men are no longer those you so lately knew. Suffering has roused them from the sleep of gentle life, and every day fills them with a terrible intoxication. They are now something more than themselves; those we loved were merely happy shadows.

The Third Symphony

Every morning the stretcher-bearers brought Vize-Feldwebel Spat down to the dressing ward, and his appearance always introduced a certain chill in the atmosphere.

There are some German wounded whom kind treatment, suffering, or some more obscure agency move to composition with the enemy, and who receive what we do for them with a certain amount of gratitude. Spat was not one of these. For weeks we had made strenuous efforts to snatch him from death, and then to alleviate his sufferings, without eliciting the slightest sign of satisfaction from him, or receiving the least word of thanks.

He could speak a little French, which he utilised strictly for his material wants, to say, for instance, “A little more cotton-wool under the foot, Monsieur,” or, “Have I any fever to-day?”

Apart from this, he always showed us the same icy face, the same pale, hard eyes, enframed by colourless lashes. We gathered, from certain indications, that the man was intelligent and well educated; but he was obviously under the domination of a lively hatred, and a strict sense of his own dignity.

He bore pain bravely, and like one who makes it a point of honour to repress the most excusable reactions of the martyred flesh. I do not remember ever hearing him cry out, though this would have seemed to me natural enough, and would by no means have lowered Monsieur Spat in my opinion. All I ever heard from him was a stifled moan, the dull panting of the woodman as he swings his axe.

One day we were obliged to give him an anaesthetic in order to make incisions in the wounds in his leg; he turned very red and said, in a tone that was almost imploring: “You won’t cut it off, gentlemen, will you?” But no sooner did he regain consciousness than he at once resumed his attitude of stiff hostility.

After a time, I ceased to believe that his features could ever express anything but this repressed animosity. I was undeceived by an unforeseen incident.

The habit of whistling between one’s teeth is a token, with me as with many other persons, of a certain absorption. It is perhaps rather a vulgar habit, but I often feel impelled to whistle, especially when I have a serious piece of work in hand.

One morning accordingly, I was finishing Vize-Feldwebel Spat’s dressing, and whistling something at random. I was looking at his leg, and was paying no attention to his face, when I suddenly became curiously aware that the look he had fixed upon me had changed in quality, and I raised my eyes.

Certainly, something very extraordinary had taken place: the German’s face glowed with a kind of warmth and contentment, and was so smiling and radiant that I hardly recognised it. I could scarcely believe that he had been able to improvise this face, which was sensitive and trustful, out of the features he generally showed us.

“Tell me, Monsieur,” he murmured, “it’s the Third Symphony, isn’t it, that you are…what do you call it? — yes…whistling.”

First, I stopped whistling. Then I answered: “Yes, I believe it is the Third Symphony”; then I remained silent and confused.

A slender bridge had just been flung across the abyss.

The thing lasted for a few seconds, and I was still dreaming of it when once more I felt an icy, irrevocable shadow falling upon me — the hostile glance of Herr Spat.

From Nights in Artois

I have come to take refuge among my wounded to smoke in peace, and meditate in the shadow. Here, the moral atmosphere is pure. These men are so wretched, so utterly humiliated, so absorbed in their relentless sufferings that they seem to have relinquished the burden of the passions in order to concentrate their powers on the one endeavour: to live.

In spite of their solidarity they are for the time isolated by their individual sufferings. Later on, they will communicate; but this is the moment when each one contemplates his own anguish, and fights his own battle, with cries of pain…

They are all my friends. I will stay among them, associating myself with all my soul in their ordeal.

Perhaps here I shall find peace. Perhaps all ignoble discord will call a truce on the threshold of this empire.

But a short distance from us the battle-field has thundered unceasingly for days. Like a noisy, complicated mechanism which turns out the products of its internal activity, the stupid machine of war throws out, from minute to minute, bleeding men. We pick them up, and here they are, swathed in bandages. They have been crushed in the twinkling of an eye; and now we shall have to ask months and years to repair or palliate the damage.

How silent they are this evening! And how it makes one’s heart ache to look at them! Here is Bourreau, with the brutal name and the gentle nature, who never utters a complaint, and whom a single bullet has deprived of sight for ever. Here is Bride, whom we fear to touch, so covered is he with bandages, but who looks at us with touching, liquid eyes, his mind already wandering. Here is Lerouet, who will not see next morning dawn over the pine-trees, and who has a gangrened wound near his heart. And the others, all of whom I know by their individual misfortunes.

How difficult it is to realise what they were, all these men who a year ago, were walking in streets, tilling the land, or writing in an office. Their present is too poignant. Here they lie on the ground, like some fair work of art defaced. Behold them! The creature par excellence has received a great outrage, an outrage it has wrought upon itself.

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Interview: No substantive difference in Obama, Romney foreign policy positions

October 26, 2012 4 comments

RT
October 26, 2012

No substantive difference between Obama and Romney’s foreign policy – interview
John Robles
Recorded on October 19, 2012

Audio: Download

 

There is “little meaningful difference” between the Democrats and the Republicans and successive administrations in the US when it comes to foreign policy issues. The owner of Stop NATO Rick Rozoff gave his assessment of the candidates after the US Presidential Debates, he also spoke about the US’ repositioning on Syria and Hillary Clinton’s seeming admission of the failure of her policies in the Middle East.

You watched the US presidential debates. What is your opinion on foreign policy changes, if any, that will occur if, for example, Romney is elected president or Obama, or everything is pretty much the same?

I don’t think there is any substantive difference between the foreign policy orientations of the two presidential candidates. There was very little discussion about foreign policy in the second debate of earlier this week, and most of it appeared to be Romney’s contention that he would call out and humiliate China for undervaluing its currency more than anything else.

The one topic that was addressed, however, was Libya and that presumably only because the US ambassador of the country, Christopher Stevens, had been killed in Benghazi and there seemed to be an exchange between the two candidates, Obama and Romney, over responsibility for that action. But what was conspicuous by its absence was what was not discussed, which is to say whether the six-and-a-half-month air war, naval blockade against Libya last year was legitimate in any manner. Both candidates seem to agree that it was, at least said nothing to the effect that it wasn’t, including the fact that the 1973 War Powers Resolution was not only ignored but one can argue neutralized and destroyed in the process, when President Obama refused to appear before Congress after 60 days into the armed hostilities and seek continued authorization, or seek authorization at all, for the military action against Libya. So, there was no substantial difference between the two candidates.

That would be a violation of law, has that been anywhere in the public debate in the US regarding Obama, has anyone brought that up?

Everyone is ignoring it. There had been some discussion 60 days after the commencement of military hostilities against Libya last year, which began on March 19, 2011, and there were arm-chair analysts talking something or other about it, but there was no demand by the populace on their congressional representatives to take up the issue nor to the best of my knowledge was there any discussion in Congress except for outgoing Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich who did raise the issue, and I believe Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul likewise, but those are two out of 535 members of the bicameral Congress in the United States.

What do you make of the latest developments from the US State Department, if I can ask you a multi-pronged question here? Okay, Hillary Clinton admitted she was at fault for Benghazi, what do you make of that? Do you think that is going to change anything? How will the election results affect Hillary Clinton’s 2016 chances? And what do you make of Nuland’s statements saying that they would like more help from Russia regarding Syria?

You had written an article yourself, John, where you address practically all those issues very poignantly and perceptively in my estimate. The fact that Victoria Nuland, who is a former US ambassador to NATO of course during the previous administration of George W. Bush, to demonstrate once again how little meaningful difference there is between the two political parties and successive administrations in the United States when it comes to foreign policy issues.

But the fact that Nuland made that right on the heels of her referring to Russia being, and I quote her, “morally bankrupt” because, ostensibly, allegedly something or other was shipped from Russia, or was being shipped from Russia to Syria and intercepted by Turkish warplanes, and the Syrian passenger plane was forced down and so forth, with 17 Russian citizens on board who were mistreated. And Nuland had to acknowledge there was nothing illegal in the Russian action, if any, but that nevertheless it was morally bankrupt, so for her to turn around and entreat Russia to assist the United States in Syria seems odd to say the least.

In terms of Hillary Clinton accepting the responsibility for not providing adequate security measures to the US consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the deaths of four Americans including the ambassador, who of course was Hillary Clinton’s employee, as she is the Secretary of State, I don’t understand the Byzantine workings of the federal government, and who out-maneuvered whom on this one, but it certainly is Hillary Clinton getting a black eye and Obama getting off the hook for responsibility for that action, whether that is the actual chain of command or not is questionable. I don’t see that it is, but ahead of a re-election bid by Barack Obama of course Hillary will take the fall as evidently she had, with the expectation, presumably, to segue into the other part of your question, that four years from now no one in the United States will remember what has occurred four years earlier.

You think so? Do you think Nuland’s admission was…I’m sorry, Nuland’s statement, was an admission of failure by the US regarding their policies in Syria?

Yes, I have to give credit where it’s due here, it was your own article that alerted me to her comment which I would not have been aware of. It certainly resonates with the feeling of futility or defeat even, arguably, that the US, try as it may, to not only bring about forcible regime change in Damascus but to in the process isolate, back down, humiliate Russia over the issue is proven to be a signal failure, and that now she has to go back to the very same power, the country, Russia, that she hours before referred to as being morally bankrupt and seek their assistance, and maybe extricating the United States from a non-tenable situation in Syria right now. Your implication that that is what it is, I think, is accurate.

What is your opinion on Benghazi?

This is another case where one questions the motives of those issuing appraisals or evaluations of what happened. It should certainly have been fairly apparent to the United States, through all branches of the American government, foreign policy establishment rather of the United States, what had occurred in Benghazi within hours of the incident, and instead what you’ve seen is evasion, equivocation, efforts to try to attribute it to something for the most part extraneous and accidental, which is to say the videotape or the preview or the trailer for a low-budget video on the Prophet Mohammed, causing a spontaneous uprising against the United States, somehow knowing that the US ambassador would be in the consulate at that point and so forth. That seems hardly credible.

It seems rather that the very same al-Qaeda-linked extremist forces that the United States and NATO supported last year against the government in Libya had simply struck back at their former masters. They’d bitten the hand that fed them, if you will, I think it is a much more likely scenario. What in fact has happened is that armed militias simply continued doing what they were doing beforehand.

Categories: Uncategorized

Bani Walid Being Wiped Out As Media Remain Silent

October 26, 2012 2 comments

RT
October 26, 2012

Bani Walid reportedly being wiped out as media remain silent

VIDEO

Attention: NATO apologists, humanitarian interventionists and “responsibility to protect” advocates

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“They destroyed everything; brought chaos, death and destruction with them. When families wanted to return to their homes these militias directed their guns towards them, shot at them, and they were all forced to flee.”

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas,” Afaf Yusef, an activist from Bani Walid, told RT. “We have documented all this in videos – we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles.”

“The whole world needs to see who they are targeting,” he added. “Are they really Gaddafi’s men? Are the children, women and old men killed, Gaddafi’s men?”

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The Libyan city of Bani Walid is reported to be under heavy attack from pro-government forces and militias. Witnesses say that more civilians are being killed by shelling, while houses are engulfed in flames.

Earlier reports suggested that the city had fallen, but continuing reports of wide-scale killing and armed gangs and militias patrolling the streets and looting people’s homes indicate that those reports are not true.

An individual in Italy who claims to have relatives in Bani Walid told RT earlier that at over 600 people have so far been killed while the number of people in hospitals is over 1,000.

A local told RT that the troops patrolling the streets were bulldozing homes and setting them on fire.

“Bani Walid was invaded by militias from Misrata,” a local woman said. “They destroyed everything; brought chaos, death and destruction with them. When families wanted to return to their homes these militias directed their guns towards them, shot at them, and they were all forced to flee.”

She also confirmed that the local hospital is incapable of treating the amount of wounded.

“We are unable to move the injured to other places for treatment because Misrata militias and their allies threaten to kill everybody who does so,” she said.

A local journalist reporting from the outskirts of the city, because no media are allowed to enter the city, told RT that thousands of people are stranded on the desert highway outside the city after they tried to return to Bani Walid in a confusion over whether or not the city had fallen.

Refugees are being prevented from going back into the city by army roadblocks.

While the army claims that it is targeting the city in order to rid it of pro-Gaddafi forces, many who have been injured or killed are children, women and the elderly. Meanwhile, reports continue to emerge about troops using unconventional weapons in the city. A local activist told RT that the army is preventing media from entering Bani Walid simply because they fear the press might report their “crimes and terrible deeds.”

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas,” Afaf Yusef, an activist from Bani Walid, told RT. “We have documented all this in videos – we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles.”

Many people died without being wounded or shot but as a result of gases, he said.

“The whole world needs to see who they are targeting,” he added. “Are they really Gaddafi’s men? Are the children, women and old men killed, Gaddafi’s men?”

Those trapped in Bani Walid have been crying out to the United Nations for help, but they are not being heard, with the UN Mission in Libya saying it has no men in the city and cannot provide any additional information on what is happening on the ground. The director of the UN mission refused to comment on why they were not inside the city.

Meanwhile, when asked why the West is ignoring the massacres in Bani Walid, US Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told RT that Washington is “watching the situation very closely” while its position on the situation remains “absolutely clear.”

“We support the efforts of the Libyan government to get control of militias and to provide security throughout the country, including in Bani Walid, and to do so in a way that is respectful of the human rights of all citizens and allows humanitarian organizations to get in,” Nuland said.

Despite the claims that it is following the situation closely, the last time Bani Walid was mentioned on the US State Department’s website at the beginning of this year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he is not concerned by the fact that the Libyan Army is deployed inside the city, but rather worried about the authorities and human rights violations that are reportedly taking place. He also urged the United Nations to provide information on what is really going on the ground.

As the United States and other powers are failing to condemn the excessive use of force in the city, many questions remain about why they are silent about human rights abuses taking place in Bani Walid. Also, earlier this week, Washington blocked a draft statement proposed by Russia on the resolution calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Bani Walid.

Categories: Uncategorized

Libya: Clinton’s Dance of Death with Terrorist Clients

October 26, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
October 25, 2012

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely: Benghazi attack carried out by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists?
John Robles

[For the time-tested use of terrorists to advance governments' agendas, see Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, Jack London's The Iron Heel and Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Possessed, inter alia.]

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[T]he terrorist groups most likely connected with the attack, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia, and other groups were working with the CIA and the US government in Libya in the operation to overthrow Muammar Kaddafi. For a Secretary of State who is blinded by her own political ambitions this connection would not be something she would want to come out.

The aggressive invasion and assassination of the head of state of the sovereign country of Libya was a crime against humanity. Of course they are going to lie.

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Playing politics with the deaths of their personnel, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have proven: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Newly uncovered e-mails show that Clinton and Obama knew within hours that the Benghazi attack was carried out by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. The same terrorists they contracted to destroy Libya and assassinate the late Muammar Gaddafi.

You have to hand it to United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, you could get whiplash watching her flip-flop back and forth, her statements and positioning on the Benghazi attack changing and dodging back and forth like some Wimbledon tennis match on amphetamines with the fast-forward locked on hyper-speed.

Not long ago I wrote about the Clintons and their hiring of a legal team in the event that she was blamed for the security failures that allowed the Benghazi attack to take place. Clinton took the fall the next day, in a political move to protect Obama’s re-election bid. I also went into the fact that the attack was actually aimed at a CIA base in Benghazi and not on Stevens. Clinton has not gone into this. Now it is revealed that Clinton and the Obama administration knew it was a terrorist attack almost immediately, and said nothing.

Another political move? This latest revelation begs a lot of questions, among them: are Clinton’s political ambitions and her dream of being the first woman president of the United States in 2016 getting in the way of her performing her job as Secretary of State? Is she incompetent? Or is she just following the Clinton tradition of flipping and flopping as the wind changes?

Whatever the case for the Clinton obfuscation, the release of the e-mails is damning to put it mildly. Yet Clinton continues to side-step, dodge and obfuscate. She warns us to take the e-mails cautiously, and downplays their significance, even saying that the news that it was a terrorist attack came from social networks and that is not evidence.

The e-mails in question started to come in within 20 minutes of the attack, and according to Reuters were obtained from government sources. Reuters reports that the first email was sent at 16:05 Washington time, 20-30 minutes after the attack began, with the subject line being “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack”. The text read: “[A]pproximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four (redacted) personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”

The second e-mail was sent at 16:54 Washington time with the subject being: “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and text reporting that : “[T]he firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared…a ‘response team’ was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.”

A third e-mail sent at 18:07 carried the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.” The message reported: “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

Why then did the White House and Clinton continue to place the blame on the video “The Innocence of Muslims” for days after the attack? Well, for one the terrorist groups most likely connected with the attack, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia, and other groups were working with the CIA and the US government in Libya in the operation to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. For a Secretary of State who is blinded by her own political ambitions this connection would not be something she would want to come out.

In fact, as was made clear by the actions of the Clintons in gathering a legal team, they are terrified of the American public seeing any failure in Libya. Clinton and her glib “We came! We saw! He died!” comments on the brutal and unjust assassination of Gaddafi from the start showed the true beast beneath her aging and waning exterior. That and her self-congratulatory stance on the decimation of yet another country by the US proves her godless inhumanity and the fact that she will do anything, including murdering thousands, if not millions, to attain her political ambitions.

This time the checks and balances come from the Republican side, Democrats being cowed into submission to protect the party’s president and Clinton. According to ABC News, Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte wrote a letter questioning Obama why his administration “consistently described the attack for days afterward as a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam video. These emails make clear that your administration knew within two hours of the attack that it was a terrorist act and that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group with links to al-Qaeda, had claimed responsibility for it… This latest revelation only adds to the confusion surrounding what you and your administration knew about the attacks in Benghazi, when you knew it, and why you responded to those tragic events in the ways that you did.”

Clinton and Obama may tell a lie or two to the American people every day; they are politicians; they are concerned for their political futures. It is a shame that they would play politics with the deaths of their own personnel and continue to attempt to paint their complete utter and total failure in Libya as some sort of victory.

Unless killing Muammar Gaddafi at any cost was the goal to begin with? The aggressive invasion and assassination of the head of state of the sovereign country of Libya was a crime against humanity. Of course they are going to lie.

Categories: Uncategorized

Beyond Double Standards – and Hypocrisy

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

To be published in Z Magazine, November 2012

 
Beyond Double Standards – and Hypocrisy
Edward S. Herman

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The long U.S. use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs is testimony to an anti-civilian bias in military operations, as is the long tradition of “we don’t make body counts.” The Iraq war of 2003 was begun with a “shock and awe” bombing program that was openly designed to terrorize the leaders and population and encourage surrender. The same was true of the 1999 escalation of the bombing of Serbia and increased orientation to attacking civilian facilities.

The hegemony of the double standard, and its partner, hypocrisy, flows from concentrated power, and their joint success in this modern age that, according to Steven Pinker, is one of the “Long Peace,” “recivilization” and the rise of our “better angels” after an unfortunate period like the 1960s. It is a marvelous illustration of the human capacity for self-deception.

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Double standards have always been with us, but I wonder if they haven’t reached new heights, along with hypocrisy, in the age of  the “war on terrorism,” “humanitarian intervention,”  and the proclaimed “responsibility to protect” (R2P), to be implemented by global interventionists who have institutionalized torture (or made it one de facto legitimate policy option), “extraordinary renditions” to torture regimes, the intensive use of drone bombings, including “double-tap” actions, and who have declared the entire earth a U.S. “free fire zone”?  

These same drone organizers and apologists also speak almost daily about “our values” as they terrorize and kill, but see themselves as defending human rights and democracy and engaging in “self defense.” George W. Bush attacked Iraq in alleged (but completely contrived) fear of Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” but as soon as it became inescapably evident that this was a fraud, and that many thousands had already been killed based on this lie, Bush was allowed to be striving for freedom and democracy in Iraq, but for unknown reasons neglecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and shrinking it in the homeland!
 
But his opening war gambit lie was salable to the New York Times and its colleagues, and to the intellectuals and pundits with influence. For example, on October 9, 2002, the saintly Elie Wiesel said on the Oprah Winfrey Show that “Anything is better than war. I am not for war. But we have to disarm that assassin” — namely Saddam Hussein, who, according to Bush, Cheney and Judith Miller, and hence Wiesel and Winfrey, possessed these WMD. Thus “War is the Only Option,” in the title of  Wiesel’s subsequent commentary in The Observer (Dec. 22, 2002). It helps being a saint to be able to get away with such a blatant contradiction based on a lie.
 
After the WMD gambit was exhausted we had the gang quickly accepting the new “democracy promotion” objective in Iraq, because Bush said that was so, and was “risking all” in pressing on with it, as asserted by Michael Ignatieff in his New York Times classic, “Who Are the American People to Think That Freedom is Theirs to Spread” (Oct. 7, 2005). George Packer, writing in the New Yorker back in 2004, agreed with Ignatieff that “it’s clear that, however clumsy and selective the execution, Bush wants democratization to be his legacy. So when his critics, here and abroad, claim that his rhetoric merely provides cynical cover for an American power grab, they misjudge his sincerity and tend to sound like defenders of the status quo.” (“Invasion versus Persuasion, “New Yorker, December 20, 2004.). So Packer, like Ignatieff, knows that Bush was sincere, but he is not a defender of the status quo and does suggest that we should “hold him to his own talk.” 
 
The “terrorism” double standard has long been institutionalized, with establishment spokespersons internalizing the propaganda rule that we and the Israelis only “retaliate” to the terrorism  of enemies and targets. The establishment pundits have been able to swallow a lot, and play dumb on a large scale, to stay with this usage. Thus Luis Posada Carriles, a member in high-standing of the Cuban refugee terror network, guilty of numerous terrorist acts, including the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 with 73 resultant deaths, walks the streets of Miami today and is beyond extradition, whereas the United States is working hard to get Julian Assange extradited to this country for prosecution for whistleblowing on U.S. diplomacy and  terrorist-war criminal acts. (His most notorious disclosure was of a U.S. helicopter team in Iraq remorselessly killing civilians and journalists on the ground, a revelation that clearly threatened U.S. national security.)
 
It should also be noted that while killer Posada is free, the Cuban Five infiltrators of Cuban terrorist groups in Florida who were seized in the United States in 1998 while trying to gain information on terrorist plots against Cuba, and shared some of this information with the FBI, have been imprisoned since 1998, their counter-terrorism efforts transformed into espionage.
 
These manifestations of a gross double standard, hypocrisy, and serious injustice, are ignored by the mainstream media and don’t interfere with the rule that the United States is fighting a “war on terror.”
 
The most recent display of the terrorism double standard is the State Department’s September 2012 removal of the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK), from its list of designated terrorist organizations. The MEK worked earlier on behalf of Saddam Hussein and sometimes killed Americans, and reportedly has collaborated with the Israelis in assassinating Iranian scientists, but with the escalated U.S.-Israel low-level warfare against Iran, MEK can be moved into a new, more positive “freedom fighter” category. This has other amusing features. For one thing, MEK has very large amounts of money that it has spent in organizing protests and lobbying in Europe and the United States, the funding suspected to come from the freedom-loving Saudis and other governments hostile to Iran.  

Even while on the terrorist list, MEK was able to organize, propagandize and lobby in the United States and elsewhere in the West. It has also paid large sums to U.S. notables like Howard Dean, Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Ed Rendell to write and speak on their behalf. No prosecutions are in prospect for “material aid” to terrorists in this case.
 
One of the wonders of the war on terror is its massive use of airpower, increasingly drone warfare, and the U.S.’s ability to get this accepted in the West as a response to terror and not a case of terrorism itself. This has of course been accompanied by complementary apologetics: notably, that military targets are carefully chosen so that any “innocent” civilian deaths are not deliberate but unintended “collateral damage.” But if civilian deaths are predictable even if the specific victims are not known, the killings are deliberate and war crimes. Furthermore, the claims of care in targeting, and concern, and denials that civilian killings are sometimes quite acceptable, are false, but are taken as true by patriotic pundits and intellectuals (see my “Tragic Errors In U.S. Military Policy: Targeting the civilian population,” Z Magazine, September 2002).  

The long U.S. use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs is testimony to an anti-civilian bias in military operations, as is the long tradition of “we don’t make body counts.” The Iraq war of 2003 was begun with a “shock and awe” bombing program that was openly designed to terrorize the leaders and population and encourage surrender. The same was true of the 1999 escalation of the bombing of Serbia and increased orientation to attacking civilian facilities. But no matter: The United States does not terrorize, by patriotic and power definition.
 
It is also notable that studies which focus intensively on terrorism from the air are ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media. The fine book by Beau Grosscup on Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethnics of Aerial Bombardment (Zed Books, 2006) was not reviewed in any mainstream source in the United States. The mainstream may be preoccupied with “terrorism,” but writings on the subject have to stay within the party-line orbit to get a hearing.
 
A real problem has been presented to the media by the September 2012 report produced jointly by a Stanford Law School and New York University School of Law team entitled Living Under Drones (see http://livingunderdrones.org/), and based on over 130 interviews carried out in Pakistan. The authors claim that the vast majority of victims of the drone war attacks are civilians, not “militants” — only 2 percent of those killed were identified as known “militants.”

The Stanford-NYU authors explicitly deny the official claims of precise surgical strikes by the drones: “This narrative is false.” They also report that an important feature of the drone war is the regular use of a second missile strike shortly after the first strike – the combination euphemistically labelled a ”double tap” — killing many local onlookers and rescue workers coming to the aid of the first-strike’s victims.

These secondary strikes “have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.” The director of the charitable organization Reprieve is quoted in the report as saying: “An entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies…Their way of life is collapsing…kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meeting or anything that involves gathering in groups.”  
 
This sounds like a really dirty war OF terrorism, but while this is suggested in the London Independent (Jerome Taylor, “Outrage at CIA’s deadly ‘double tap’ drone strikes,” Sept. 25, 2012), the New York Times had not yet mentioned the existence of the Living Under Drones document at the time of writing (Sept. 30, 2012). This is not news fit-to-print rapidly and with prominence, as happens when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserts that the government of Bashir Al-Assad would have ”blood on its hands” if it “refuses to allow this life-saving aid [that Clinton promises] to reach civilians.” (Steven Lee Myers, “Nations Rebuke Leader of Syria as Assault Rages,” NYT, February 25, 2012. p 1; see also the long NYT article of March 3, 2012 on “Syria Blocks Red Cross From Taking Aid to Devastated Rebel Enclave in Homs.”)
 
This brings us to some other double standard marvels. Iran is under steady attack and threat because of its alleged non-cooperation with the West and its UN instrument, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in their efforts to get Iran to terminate its nuclear program. Meanwhile, the United States can refuse to carry out its NPT promise to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, and Israel can build up a sizeable nuclear weapons arsenal with Western collusion outside of any IAEA jurisdiction, and both can threaten Iran on a daily basis, in a double standard that would be hard to surpass. Similarly, Israel can ethnically cleanse Palestinians on a systematic basis for decades without any penalty from the “international community” which in fact gives consistent support to this immoral and illegal process. Only when a U.S. and Western target is accused of ethnic cleansing, as with Serbia in the 1990s, do the Western moralists, officials and their UN agents get aroused and move into action.
 
The hegemony of the double standard, and its partner, hypocrisy, flows from concentrated power, and their joint success in this modern age that, according to Steven Pinker, is one of the “Long Peace,” “recivilization” and the rise of our “better angels” after an unfortunate period like the 1960s. It is a marvelous illustration of the human capacity for self-deception.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. President: Drone-Wielding Global Policeman

October 26, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
October 25, 2012

US President – Master of Drones
Nikita Sorokin

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Americans, including industrialists, financiers and presidents, sincerely perceive the United States as a country tasked with promotion of messianic ideas. In the past few years, America has often acted as a world policeman, while its president has played the role of a prosecutor or a judge.

Regardless of the results of the upcoming presidential elections, America will continue to conduct experiments related to the notorious “theory of chaos”.

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Whoever becomes the next president of the United States this will be the most powerful person in the world. Under US law, the president has the right to take unilateral decisions on starting a large-scale war or conducting local military operations.

“The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities” – that is an extract from the War Powers Resolution passed on November 7, 1973.

Since 1974, there have been more than 50 cases when US presidents asked for the Congress’ sanction for conducting military operations. The geography of these military operations included the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and other countries.

However the president does not disturb the Congress on such “nothings” as, for example, a clutter of mujahedeens somewhere in Pakistan. Without any sanction, the president orders the army to kill them by means of unmanned flying vehicles or drones. The drones are multi-purpose vehicles, Bruce Fein, the former juridical advisor in the Reagan administration, said in an interview with the “Voice of Russia”.

Americans, including industrialists, financiers and presidents, sincerely perceive the United States as a country tasked with promotion of messianic ideas. In the past few years, America has often acted as a world policeman, while its president has played the role of a prosecutor or a judge. According to the Watson Institute for International Studies, a possible anti-terror war will cause about 4 trillion dollars in damages in the United States. Meanwhile, the US’ military operations in the Middle East show no signs of ending.

However, Arabs and Muslims refuse to perceive Americans as fighters against terrorism, Afif Osman of the Lebanese University told the Voice of Russia on Thursday.

“We see the army intruding into our house and promising to save us from terrorism,” Osman says. “But we cannot understand what terrorism they are talking about. In Iraq, for example, terrorism, banditry and inter-confessional strife appeared only after the US’ invasion, and Al-Qaeda appeared in Iraq only after the Americans. It is safe to assume, therefore, that the US itself creates enemies and fights them in a show of force,” Osman concludes.

Some experts say that the US is implementing the “Obama project” in the Middle East, where the incumbent US President acts as a “good policeman”. Regardless of the results of the upcoming presidential elections, America will continue to conduct experiments related to the notorious “theory of chaos”. The “Arab Spring” has already become the first result of the practical use of this theory, a topic that we will cover in detail in a separate commentary.

Categories: Uncategorized

Interview: U.S. Drone Warfare To Last 15-18 Years

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Press TV
October 25, 2012

US drone warfare to last ’15 years’

AUDIO

The U.S. drone war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other nations could last for “14-15 years,” according to an American investigative journalist and manager of Stop NATO.

“In 2001, when the U.S. began its so-called war on terror, the United States only had 200 drones; the Pentagon that is. The U.S. now currently has, the Pentagon and the CIA have an estimated 8,000 drones eleven years later. That’s a 40-fold increase in the amount of them”, Rick Rozoff said in a phone interview with the U.S. Desk on Thursday.

According to CBS News, in 2008, after Barack Obama won the presidency in the U.S., the drone strikes escalated and soon began occurring almost weekly, later nearly daily, and so became a permanent feature of life for those living in the tribal borderlands of northern Pakistan.

In the latest U.S. drone attack in Pakistan, at least five people were killed on Wednesday in Mir Ali area of the North Waziristan agency.

In their final debate on Monday, both U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney emphasized the need to continue drone strikes inside Pakistan.

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Karl Kraus: War renders unto Caesar that which is God’s

October 25, 2012 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

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Karl Kraus: Selections on war

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Karl Kraus
From The Last Days of Mankind (1922)
Translated by Max Knight and Joseph Fabry

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A Protestant church.

Pastor Buzzard: This war is a punishment inflicted by the Lord upon the nations for their sins, and we Germans, together with our allies, are the executors of divine judgment. Without a doubt, the Kingdom of God has been tremendously strengthened and deepened by this war. And let us acknowledge clearly and unequivocally that Jesus’ commandment: “Love thy enemies” applies only to relationships between individuals and not nations. In the struggle of the nations there is no room for loving one’s enemies. Here the individual soldier need have no scruples! In the heat of battle, Jesus’ command of love is suspended! In combat, killing is no sin but a service to the Fatherland, a Christian duty – indeed, even a service to God. Yes, it is a service to God and a sacred duty to punish forcefully our foes, to destroy them if need be. Thus I repeat unto you: “Love thy enemies” no longer is binding. Away with all doubts of conscience! But, you may ask, why have so many thousands of soldiers been crippled? Why have so many hundreds been blinded? Because, I tell you, this is God’s way of saving their souls! Look about you and pray, as you are witnessing the Lord’s miracles: “Deliver us, O Lord, to paradise!”

Another Protestant church.

Pastor Crow: Therefore – fortify your blood with steel! And to the fainthearted I say: Once a war has started, it is our right, and sometimes indeed our duty toward the Fatherland, to regard treaties as scraps of paper to be torn up and tossed into the fire if this will save the Fatherland. War is the last resort, God’s ultimate means of bringing the nations to their senses, by force if they won’t let themselves be guided in any other way, along the path that God has chosen for them. Wars are God’s trials and His judgments in world history. And that’s why it is also the will of God that in war the nations use all their strength and all the weapons He has given them to carry out the just punishment of their enemies! Therefore – fortify your blood with steel! German women too, the mothers of fallen heroes, reject sentimentality in war. Their beloved husbands and sons are fighting or have been killed, but they refuse to listen to wailing and moaning. God wants us to have an iron will. He urges us to the supreme exertion of our strength. Therefore, once again – fortify your blood with steel!

Another Protestant church.

Pastor Hawk: Look about you: German genius has strung together brilliant achievements like the pearls of a glittering necklace. It has created the miracle of the U-boats. It has produced that fabulous gun that shoots missiles high into the atmosphere, carrying destruction to the enemy one hundred and twenty kilometers away. But German genius not only provides us with weapons; it untiringly safeguards and fortifies our minds. For example, Schultze in Hamburg, on a grant from our Foreign Office, is doing basic research on the desecration of corpses and graves by the British and the French. Our Information Service will spread his findings all over the world, findings which are bound to win us the sympathies of the neutral nations, especially – we hope – those of our neighbors who still have doubts. Everywhere in our German lands spirits rise, ready to help our just cause, to arouse the sluggish, to convert the backsliders, and to win new friends. Our government in its wisdom has realized that Switzerland not only can serve as a transit area for our bombs but will gratefully learn methods of warfare from our pictures and words. Our films, showing our U-boats sinking untold tons of food to the bottom of the sea, cannot fail to have a devastating effect on neutral audiences. People faint; women especially are most likely to be impressed by the loss of priceless goods. Such films gradually make people all over the world realize the magnitude of the damage we are inflicting on our enemies. The German word is equally effective. Listen, for example, to the magnificent poem, a soldier’s prayer, I found in a splendid publication that our Information Service is distributing in neutral countries to enlighten foreigners about the true German character and gradually overcome the hatred with which we have been persecuted:

Do you hear the soldiers praying?
We seek blessing from above:
from the gullets of our cannon
sound the pledges of our love.
Through the barrels of our cannon
we will shoot the Good Lord’s Prayer;
we’ll plant bayonets upon them,
stuck like crosses in the air.

Buddies, sprinkle dumdum bullets
like a holy-water rinse;
let our cannon smoke like censers.
Unexploded mines are sins,
let’s repent then and do better,
true omission sins are they!
But when land mines start exploding,
then our sins are blown away.

Let us string our hand grenades like
rosaries around our chest;
when the beads go popping, watch them
crush the enemy’s zest.
Let us say our angry prayer,
yes, let’s sing the “Wacht am Rhein.”
Praying hands will turn to talons
wringing necks of godless swine.
For we are the Lord’s own agents,
carrying out the will divine.

And thus look around you and pray, as you are witnessing the Lord’s miracles, “Deliver us, O Lord, to paradise!”

A Catholic church.

Sexton (speaking to tourists): Here you see an interesting devotional gift presented to our holy shrine by two soldiers who fought at Col di Lana: a rosary whose beads are shrapnel bullets. The chain is fashioned from barbed wire. The cross is cut from a burst Italian grenade and has three Italian rifle bullets as pendants. The figure of Christ has been shaped from shrapnel. The cross carries on its back the engraved inscription: “In gratitude. In memory of the war in Italy, Cima d’Oro, July 25, 1917,” and the initials of the donor. For prolonged praying it requires a strong hand. Would one of you gentlemen care to lift it?

Visitor (trying): Ugh! Damned heavy! (A church bell is ringing.)

Sexton: Listen! It’s ringing for the last time. Today it’ll be taken down. We make rosaries from shrapnel, and cannons from church bells. We render unto God what is Caesar’s, and unto Caesar what is God’s. Everybody does his share.

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U.S. Coordinates Portable Missile Supplies To Syrian Rebels: Russian Foreign Ministry

October 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 25, 2012

US Coordinates MANPADS Supplies to Syrian Rebels – Russia

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In 2003, over 95 countries signed the Elements of Export Controls for MANPADS, which was later updated. A further agreement on restricting proliferation of MANPADS was signed in May 2004 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the United States.

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MOSCOW: The United States does not supply Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents with man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) but provides coordination and logistics support to such supplies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“True, the US does not supply MANPADS to militants in Syria,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. “At the same time, it is also well known that Washington is in the know about supplies of various types of armaments to illegal armed formations operating in Syria.”

“Moreover, the United States, judging by the acknowledgements of American officials published by US media, provides coordination and logistics support for such deliveries,” Lukashevich said.

Lukashevich was commenting on Russian General Staff Chief Nikolai Makarov’s statement and Washington’s reaction to it. Makarov said on Wednesday that Syrian rebels fighting President Assad’s regime are now armed with MANPADS including US-made Stingers – a claim the US denied.

Lukashevich said Russia’s position remains unchanged.

“We are calling on all countries to stop feeding illegal armed formations in Syria, to do everything possible to prevent MANPADS from getting into the hands of those whose actions are impossible to control, especially with account for militants’ threats to shoot down civil aircraft,” the Russian diplomat said.

NBC news reported in August the rebels had been supplied with unspecified MANPADS, possibly initiated by Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Qatar, which have repeatedly called for lending military support to the Syrian opposition.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in mid-October she could not confirm whether the rebels had been supplied with such missiles, and maintained the United States was against the uncontrolled spread of MANPADS.

Russia has previously stated it regards the rebels’ acquisition of MANPADS as a dangerous development.

In 2003, over 95 countries signed the Elements of Export Controls for MANPADS, which was later updated. A further agreement on restricting proliferation of MANPADS was signed in May 2004 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the United States.

While there has been no conclusive proof of use of MANPADS in Syria, various rebel groups have claimed they possess them, and videos posted on YouTube earlier this month appear to show rebels in Aleppo armed with Soviet-era SA-7 Strela missiles, the world’s most widely-produced MANPADS weapon.

Several videos have also been posted appearing to show Mi-8 helicopters and MiG-23 fighter-bombers being shot down by Syrian rebels, although the weapons used appear to be heavy machine guns rather than surface-to-air missiles.

The US-made General Dynamics Stinger was supplied in the hundreds to the Mujahideen forces in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union’s military campaign in the 1980s, and made a radical impact on the use of Soviet air power there, according to the then-head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, Mohammed Yousaf, who was involved in supplying them.

The US Central Intelligence Agency later set up a “buy-back” operation in a bid to recover the weapons after the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan amid concern that the weapons could be used by radical Islamist groups to shoot down a civilian airliner.

MANPADS are shoulder-launched missiles which can be carried and fired by one person. Usually guided by infra-red seekers that home in on an aircraft’s engine heat, they can often hit targets as high as 13,000 feet at a range of up to a few miles, and are especially dangerous to large and slow aircraft like civilian airliners and helicopters. Several civilian aircraft have been shot down with MANPADS since the late 1970s.

The West is pushing for President Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed. Veto-wielding Moscow and Beijing have three times blocked sanctions resolutions on Syria.

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Bani Walid: 600 Killed, 1,000 Wounded In One Day

October 25, 2012 6 comments

RT
October 25, 2012

‘600 killed in Bani Walid fighting in one day’ – source

Video

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The people of Bani Walid have been appealing for help from the international community – but Moscow’s aid efforts were stopped by the United States.

Washington blocked a draft statement, proposed by Russia, on the resolution of violence in Bani Walid earlier this week. The statement called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

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Amid conflicting reports that the Libyan city of Bani Walid was captured by army forces, RT has learned that 600 people were allegedly killed in Wednesday’s fighting, and over 1,000 have been hospitalized. Locals are appealing for international aid.

Libyan officials claimed that government forces conducted a 20-day siege before capturing Bani Walid, the last stronghold for supporters of the Gaddafi regime, and seized the city. Sources in the town gave conflicting reports, saying that local militias were responsible for the siege and now control of the area.

“We continue to receive conflicting reports. From sources on the ground, we’re hearing that the army is withdrawing from the city, although we are hearing of widespread killings. Government sources say the city has fallen,” RT correspondent in neighboring Lebanon, Paula Slier, said.

An individual in Italy who allegedly has relatives in Bani Walid spoke to RT about the current state of the city. Calling himself Alwarfally – referring to a tribe from Bani Walid – he asked to remain anonymous for the interview.

He said he contacted his family in the besieged city, who told him that the situation there has stabilized: The militia retreated, but only after kidnapping a local member of the Council of the Elders, which was tasked by Bani Walid’s tribal leaders with governing the city after the fall of Gaddafi.

“Bani Walid’s people got control of the city again,” Alwarfally told RT. “[The] situation in Bani Walid is better now. The militia fell back after the fight that happened yesterday, and everything is good.”

“The militia kidnapped the consul of Bani Walid, his health is poor,” he said. “They will take him to Misrata and I don’t know what will happen to him. He is a very good man. He didn’t have anything to do with what happened, he is just a council member in Bani Walid.”

Alwarfally also claimed that at least hundreds of people were killed during the 20-day siege.

“The number is really big,” he said. “One the first day that [the militia] came, there were about 70 bodies from the fighting. Yesterday night there was 600.”

“The number of people in the hospitals is over 1000,” he added.

Whether government forces or militias are behind the violence, video footage from the town paints a very graphic picture.

“Some of the photos and video we’ve been receiving show dismembered bodies and children who have been killed. Some of that footage is coming from Bani Walid television,” Slier said.

Militias blockaded the town for the past 20 days in an attempt to locate those responsible for the death of Omran Shaaban – the man credited with capturing Muammar Gaddafi last year. The Warfalla tribe controlling Bani Walid was accused of kidnapping and torturing Shaaban.

The people of Bani Walid have been appealing for help from the international community – but Moscow’s aid efforts were stopped by the United States.
Washington blocked a draft statement, proposed by Russia, on the resolution of violence in Bani Walid earlier this week. The statement called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Categories: Uncategorized

Russia Mulls New Measures To Counter U.S.-NATO Missile System

October 25, 2012 2 comments

Xinhua News Agency
October 25, 2012

Russia eyes additional measures to counter U.S. anti-missile threat

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The anti-missile system would be technically capable of threathening the Russian capital by 2020, Komoyedov said.

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MOSCOW: Russia needs to undertake additional measures to counter a threat from the U.S. anti-missile system, a high-ranking parliament member of Russia said here Thursday.

“Absolutely different things are necessary,” head of the State Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Komoyedov told reporters when asked if the Russian Iskander missiles could surpass [neutralize] the U.S. missile shield in Europe.

In 2011, then-President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia would station Iskander tactic missiles in the western exclave of Kaliningrad and southern Krasnodar region, should the United States implement its phased approach to the anti-missile defense program.

The European Phased Adaptive Approach envisaged a four-step deployment of the anti-missile facilities from 2011 to 2020 and moved the sea-based Aegis systems closer to Russian borders.

The first two phases have already been completed and the third would be finished in 2018.

The anti-missile system would be technically capable of threathening the Russian capital by 2020, Komoyedov said.

“Development of the anti-missile defense consists of four phases. The last one, to be completed by 2020, will cover (territory) including Moscow,” he said, adding that Russia possessed all the necessary technologies and ability to face such developments.

In May, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Russia would not need any additional means to fulfill that task as the existing Iskander missiles are capable to neutralize the U.S. launching facilities.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that the anti-missile issue may cause an “ice age” in relations with the United States.

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Ecuador, Peru, Russia United In Opposing Attack On Syria

October 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
October 25, 2012

Russia, Peru and Ecuador join voices on Syria

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Quito wouldn’t support a military intrusion into Syria, whatever the pretext, saying that “military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya proved to be catastrophic” for these countries.

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Russia, Peru and Ecuador have taken a common stance on the Syrian issue.

During the visits of Peruvian and Ecuadorian delegations to Moscow, the three nations declared they saw eye to eye on an array of international issues and urged the international community to adhere to the UN Charter and the groundwork principles of international law when dealing with the Syrian crisis, which they stressed should be settled through a dialogue between the regime and the opposition.

“The principle of non-interference has been adopted and advocated by the United Nations and Peru means to keep to it in the Syrian case,” Peru’s Deputy Foreign Minister José Beraún Araníbar told the Voice of Russia. He also underlined that Peru saw political dialogue as the only viable means of peace enforcement and supported a joint UN/Arab League initiative to this effect.

Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister Marco Vinicio Albuja Martínez said in his interview to the Voice of Russia that the Rafael Correa administration “respected and adhered to the principle of nations’ self-identification,” and urged letting the Syrian people find a peaceful solution to the crisis on their own.

Mr. Albuja Martínez added Quito wouldn’t support a military intrusion into Syria, whatever the pretext, saying that “military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya proved to be catastrophic” for these countries.

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Itar-Tass
October 25, 2012

Russia hopes Brahimi’s visit to Moscow would promote Syrian settlement

UNITED NATIONS: Russia hopes that the Moscow visit by United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi due on October 29 will promote a settlement of the Syrian conflict, Russia’s United Nations ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Wednesday.

“We are waiting for him in Moscow early next week,” he said. “We hope that the Moscow talks will make it possible for Russia to make another contribution to the settlement of the Syrian crisis.”

He stressed that Russia “resolutely supports” Lakhdar Brahimi’s efforts in this area.

On Tuesday, a diplomatic source told Itar-Tass that the United Nations and Arab League envoy will pay a one-day working visit to Moscow on October 29.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council called on Syria’s conflicting parties to accept Lakhdar Brahimi’s plan and agree to a ceasefire during the holiday of Eid al-Adha marked on October 26-29. The United Nations Security Council said the lull must be used to offer help to the Syrians and called on the Syrian authorities to grant humanitarian organizations free access to the population. Lakhdar Brahimi said he hoped to use the lull in fighting to “discuss a longer and more effective ceasefire.”

Churkin expressed satisfaction over the United Nations Security Council’s statement which, in his words, is based on a draft offered by the Russian delegation on Monday.

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U.S. To Include South Korea In Global Interceptor Missile System: Pentagon Chief

October 25, 2012 2 comments

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 25, 2012

US to Include S. Korea in its Global Missile Shield – Panetta

WASHINGTON: The United States will continue expanding its global missile shield in Asia, including in South Korea, to counter a possible missile threat from North Korea, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said.

“First of all, with regards to any provocations from the North, I think it’s very clear that South Korea and the United States have a strong cooperative relationship and that, when those provocations occur, that we will work together to determine what kind of response should be provided if necessary,” Panetta said after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan Jin.

The top US defense official said he already agreed with his colleague that both the United States and South Korea will be watching closely after the developments in North Korea.

“With regards to future missile defense, that’s an area that we continue to discuss in order to make sure that we have all of the defenses necessary to deal with the missile threat coming from North Korea, and whatever steps are necessary to try to make sure that we’re prepared for that,” he said.

“We just deployed, or we just talked about deploying a TPY-2 radar system to Japan specifically in order to protect against that kind of missile threat, and we will continue to work with our friends in the region to further develop that kind of capability,” Panetta added.

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Consequences Of Turkish War Against Syria

October 25, 2012 2 comments

China.org.cn
October 23, 2012

Turkey unlikely to wage a war against Syria
By Yu Yi
Edited by RR

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With the authorization of the Turkish parliament on the use of force and the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), war is most likely to break out.

[A]s allies of Syria, Iran, Russia and Iraq will not stand idle.

Syria still has a strong military capability, so Turkey must be ready to endure the possible devastating consequences if war does break out.

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Whether the limited military conflict along the Syrian-Turkish border will evolve into a war has drawn wide attention around the world.

Some media outlets said that Turkey has always been supporting Syrian rebels resorting to the regional and international communities to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad and resolve the Syrian crisis ultimately. However, the goal has not yet been realized until now and the seesaw battle still remains between Syrian government forces and the opposition. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a war should be waged to finish the regime of Bashar.

Are Syria and Turkey being pushed to the brink of war? Some media outlets believe that Turkey’s harsher stance on Syria merely aims to send a “tough” signal to the Syrian regime, which indicates that Turkey will not wage a war against Syria. However, others believe that Turkish policies on the Syrian crisis are based on the intended purpose of overthrowing the current Syrian regime so the relations of the two countries cannot be retrieved. With the authorization of the Turkish parliament on the use of force and the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), war is most likely to break out.

Turkey’s attempt to undertake military operations against Syria is restricted by many factors. Firstly, countries such as Russia and Iran support the Syrian people in solving the crisis by themselves and oppose foreign intervention, while Western countries have not overtly proposed to resolve the Syrian crisis through external military intervention. Secondly, if Turkey starts a war, the Arab world will be worried about whether the Ottoman Empire is coming back, which exerts a negative impact on the image of Turkey. Thirdly, once the war occurs, the Syrian regime will back the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK) to attack Turkey, thus causing an explosion of the domestic situation in Turkey.

In addition, Turkey must take several factors into consideration before waging a war against Syria. First, as allies of Syria, Iran, Russia and Iraq will not stand idle. Iran asserts that the security of the Syrian regime is closely related to the stability of Iran. Russia says it will veto any resolution of the U.N. Security Council on taking military action on Syria.

Second, Turkey should be clearly aware that it is impossible for NATO to coordinate Turkish military operations without the permission of the United States while the approaching presidential election makes it hard for the United States to make decisions on the issue. Thirdly, Syria still has a strong military capability, so Turkey must be ready to endure the possible devastating consequences if war does break out.

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Roger Martin du Gard: Be loyal to yourselves, reject war

October 25, 2012 4 comments

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Roger Martin du Gard: Selections on war

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Roger Martin du Gard
From Summer 1914 (1936)
Translated by Stuart Gilbert

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“A defensive war! A war that’s forced upon us! A just war! Don’t you realize they’re throwing dust in our eyes – as they’ve always done? Are you, too, going to let yourself be fooled? It’s only three hours since the mobilization order came out, and you’re backing down already! You’re giving way to those brutal passions that the press has been working up to fever-pitch for the last week, passions that the army leaders will exploit to the utmost! Who’ll stand up against this wave of madness if even Socialists like you give in?”

Jacques thought: “Nine Frenchmen out of ten are like that today. Eager to exculpate their country and convince themselves that their enemies have foisted this war on them – so as to justify the reactions of their combative instinct. And as a matter of fact one can’t help wondering if young fellows like these don’t get a sort of gloomy satisfaction out of suddenly feeling at one with an outraged nation, breathing the heady atmosphere of collective hatred.” And it struck him that nothing had changed since the days when Cardinal de Retz made bold to write: “Nothing is of greater consequence in handling a nation than to make it appear to them, even when one attacks, that one has only self-defence in mind.”

He addressed the young men again in a low, mournful voice: “Anyhow, please think it over! If you throw in your hand now, tomorrow it will be too late. Don’t forget that on the other side of the frontier it’s exactly the same as it is here: hatred, lies, and blind, unreasoning hostility…”

“If you think that violence and justice are two different things, if you think that human life is sacred, if you think there aren’t two kinds of morality – one that condemns murder in peacetime and another that insists on it in wartime – refuse to let yourselves be mobilized. Be loyal to yourselves!…”

“But,” Jacques cried, “can’t you see how cowardly it is to shirk your personal responsibility, to let other people, just because they’re stronger, decide for you? You tell yourself: ‘I disapprove, but I can’t do anything about it.’ It goes against the grain, but you salve your conscience easily enough with the thought that it’s a struggle for you to submit, yet it’s the decent thing to do. But can’t you see that you’ve been bamboozled by a gang of criminals? Have you forgotten that governments aren’t put into power just to tyrannize over their subjects and send them to slaughter, but to serve, to protect them, to give them happy lives?”

“And the most grotesque thing of all is the need they feel, not only to justify themselves, but to proclaim that if they’ve given in they’ve done so for good reasons and of their own accord! Their own accord! All these poor wretches who yesterday were fighting doggedly to stave off a war and now are dragged into it against their will are resolutely putting up a show of acting on their own initiative.” Again he paused before continuing. “It’s positively tragic that all these shrewd, sharp-witted men should suddenly become so gullible once their patriotic emotions are played on. Tragic and almost incomprehensible. Perhaps it’s simply this: the average man identifies unthinkingly with his country, his nation, and his government. He gets into the habit of saying: ‘We Frenchman…’ or ‘We Germans…’ And, as each genuinely desires peace, it’s impossible for him to admit that his country is out for war. Almost one might say that the more a man is keen for peace, the more inclined he is to exonerate his country and his countrymen and the easier it is to convince him that all the provocations come from the foreigner; that his government isn’t to blame and he belongs to a community which is being victimized, and that if he fights for it he’s acting in self-defence.”

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Obama and Romney: Identical Twins Regarding U.S. Global Dominance

October 24, 2012 3 comments

Global Times
October 24, 2012

Obama and Romney identical twins regarding foreign policy
By Joshua Gass

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At one point, Obama claimed that the US “remains the one indispensable nation” in the world, a claim that is startlingly jingoistic, if it means anything at all.

The issue of the bloated US military budget went totally unquestioned throughout the debate. Further, neither candidate would address the basic assumption of this overspending, that the US needs to retain its position as the leader of global politics.

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The amazing thing about Tuesday’s presidential debate was the overwhelming amount of agreement between the candidates. At times, it hardly seemed like a debate at all. Both candidates incessantly pictured the US as the world’s greatest military and moral power, beleaguered by threats from abroad.

Even the moderator participated in this depiction, opening the proceedings by noting that the debate marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, “a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.”

This comment also highlights a major shift in global politics. The entire debate was dominated by discussion of the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, China. Other regions were mentioned only in passing. Obama even made fun of Romney for referring to Russia as a “geopolitical threat” in an earlier speech.

Despite these massive shifts in global politics, neither candidate deviated from a conventional vision of the world order, with the US as its dominant power.

Both promised to be tough and uncompromising in pursuing US interests, and noble and fair-minded in efforts to spread democracy.

At no time did either candidate suggest that there might be any contradiction between morality and US interests.

The candidates agreed on Pakistan, the use of drone strikes in the Middle East, Iran policy, and US relations with Israel and China. Each candidate emphasized the need to both “cooperate with” and “lead” other nations.

Throughout, Romney tried to portray Obama as not being tough enough with other nations, and Obama tried to cast Romney as inconsistent and inexperienced, but the complete unanimity on all major foreign policy issues overshadowed these arguments.

The effort to maintain this unified stance created a certain amount of incoherence.

Romney suggested that the purpose of US foreign policy is “to go after the bad guys” but also to get the “the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own.” And both candidates cited women’s rights as a justification for US involvement in the Middle East.

At one point, Obama claimed that the US “remains the one indispensable nation” in the world, a claim that is startlingly jingoistic, if it means anything at all.

This unanimous depiction of US supremacy continued where the candidates spoke about relations with China. Each candidate recycled his positions from the previous debate, arguing that Chinese trade practices need to be controlled in order to “level the playing field” between US and Chinese companies and ignoring US responsibility for the massive trade imbalance between the two countries. China represents the specter of US economic decline, and each candidate must negotiate that fear by emphasizing tough regulation of international trade.

A new aspect of this argument appeared in the context of a foreign policy debate: the effect of US military power on relations with China.

Obama spoke about US military presence in the region “sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power” and about his efforts to organize “trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards.”

Romney, for his part, explicitly argued that Chinese cooperation is dependant on recognition of US military and economic power.

The issue of the bloated US military budget went totally unquestioned throughout the debate. Further, neither candidate would address the basic assumption of this overspending, that the US needs to retain its position as the leader of global politics. Obama attacked Romney for wanting to increase military spending, but even Obama advertised the fact that his administration has kept spending at record levels.

At one point, Obama even used a much criticized statistic, that the US spends more on its military than any other nine countries combined, positively to refute Romney’s attacks.

To be fair, both candidates did at times emphasize cooperation with other nations. But the simple fact that neither of them suggested that the US needs to reduce military spending, or, reassess its place in the world shows the narrow range of ideas acceptable in mainstream US politics.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, the choice in the US elections is really very little choice at all.

The author is a PhD candidate in Ohio State University.

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UN: U.S. Blocks Russian Moves To End Libyan, Syrian Bloodshed

October 24, 2012 7 comments

Voice of Russia
October 23, 2012

US blocks Russia’s Bani Walid peace draft

The United States has blocked Russia’s draft statement on a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Libyan town of Bani Walid.

The city has been seeing clashes since last week and Russia’s statement called for peace.

Russia’s permanent envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that the US behaved oddly blocking a call for peace especially after four US diplomats, including the Ambassador, had been killed in Libya’s Benghazi. He added that the U.S. delegation’s behavior defied reasonable explanation.

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RT
October 24, 2012

US blocks Russia’s draft statement in UN on peaceful resolution of Bani Walid violence

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“Blocking a draft statement that called to solve the country’s political problems without violence is very strange,” Churkin said. “This is a case when it is difficult to explain the US delegation’s actions in rational terms.”

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The United States has blocked a draft statement, proposed by Russia, on the resolution of violence in the Libyan town of Bani Walid, which has been under siege for weeks. The statement called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin said the move “can’t be serious,” reminding the American delegation of the deadly attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four US diplomats in September.

“Blocking a draft statement that called to solve the country’s political problems without violence is very strange,” Churkin said. “This is a case when it is difficult to explain the US delegation’s actions in rational terms.”

The statement drafted by Russia on Bani Walid called on the Libyan authorities “to take urgent steps to resolve the conflict by peaceful means and to preserve the rights of all Libyan citizens.” It also expressed concern about the significant escalation of violence in and around the city of Bani Walid in recent days.

Reports from the small town indicate innocent civilians are becoming the victims of fighting between pro-government forces and Gaddafi loyalists.

The latest round of fighting was provoked by the death of Omran Shaaban, the rebel from Misrata credited with capturing Muammar Gaddafi, who was hiding in a drain pipe in Sirte on October 20, 2011. He died on September 25 after two months’ detention in Bani Walid.

Pro-government forces and militias besieged the town in order to find those responsible for the death of “the hero of a new Libya,” as Shaaban was dubbed.

Bani Walid commanders accuse pro-government troops and militias of “shelling the town with long-range weapons and even targeting the hospital.”

A local resident currently residing in Italy, but whose family remains in the town, told RT the current shelling of the town is Misrata militias’ attempt to “eliminate” it. He claims that initially the government called for an end to the violence, but later came up with a call to “clean Bani Walid.”

The UN Security Council has also discussed a possible meeting with envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri, Churkin said. But it remains unclear when he will be able to speak, even via video link.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Security Council also postponed the adoption of another two draft statements proposed by Russia. The first condemned a terrorist attack in Damascus on October 21 which caused numerous civilian deaths and injuries. The second called on both the government and the rebels to agree to a ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha, to allow the people to observe it in peace and security. Eid Al Adha starts on October 25 and lasts for three days.

Russia’s call for a ceasefire coincides with similar efforts by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to persuade Syrians to agree to a ceasefire during the holiday.

Brahimi left Syria on Tuesday, after finishing a four-day visit aimed at getting support for his proposal for an end to violence there.

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Itar-Tass
October 23, 2012

Russia initiates UN Security Council consultations on Syria and Libya

UNITED NATIONS: Russia has initiated consultations on the situation in Syria and Libya at the UN Security Council today, a well-informed source at the UN headquarters told Itar-Tass.

In the course of the consultations, the participants will consider three draft statements proposed by Russia – on support for the armistice in Syria proposed by the UN and Arab League’s special representative Lakhdar Brahimi, on the October 21 terrorist act in Damascus and on the situation in the Libyan city of Bani Walid.

“The delegation of a Western country has asked the Security Council to put off the deadline for decision-making on the issues so as to be able to have discussions with its capital and the Russian delegation initiated consultations on them in the meantime,” the sources said.

The Security Council is due to begin its meeting at 10:00 hours EDST /18:00 MSK/.

The two draft statements submitted by Russia condemn the terrorist act in Damascus and urge the Syrian government and the opposition for an armistice during the feast of Id al Adha /October 26 through to October 28/.

The draft statement for the mass media on the situation in Libya expresses serious concern over the situation in the Libyan city of Bani Walid, which was swept by armed clashes last week, and advises the Libyan authorities on an earliest possible settlement of the conflict by peaceful means.

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NATO, Afghan Army Raid Kills Nine, Wounds 25

October 24, 2012 7 comments

Xinhua News Agency
October 24, 2012

9 killed, 25 injured in Afghan night raid operation

CHAGHCHARAN, Afghanistan: Nine people were killed and 25 wounded in an overnight operation launched by Afghan and the NATO-led coalition troops in the western province of Ghor, a provincial official said Wednesday, adding that local residents said most victims were civilians.

“According to initial reports by our security forces, nine people were killed and 25 others injured during a night raid operation against militants conducted by Afghan Special Forces supporting by the coalition troops in Sharhrak district overnight,” a spokesman for provincial government, Abdul Hai Khatibi, told Xinhua.

After local residents claimed that several women and children were among the casualties, the local government has launched an investigation into the incident to determine whether the killed were militants or civilians, he said.

Meantime, the NATO-led coalition or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that the ISAF is aware of reports of possible civilian casualties during the operation in the province 360 km west of Kabul.

“(The) ISAF can confirm an incident early this morning in Shahrak district, Ghor province in which an Afghan and coalition security force killed several insurgents during an operation to detain a Taliban leader,” the ISAF’s Joint Command said in a text sent to Xinhua via email.

Three civilians were accidentally killed during an operation in eastern Logar province over the weekend, Afghan and coalition forces said.

The deaths of civilians by NATO-led troops during operations against Taliban fighting Afghan and about 100,000 coalition forces have long been a contentious issue between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO forces in the insurgency-hit country.

Afghan officials had in the past stressed such deaths would further undermine the war against Taliban and terrorist groups and inflame an anti-foreign sentiment in the country.

A total of 1,145 Afghan civilians were killed and 1,954 injured in conflicts in the first six months of 2012…

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Pajhwok Afghan News
October 24, 2012

Civilians among 9 killed in Ghor raid
By Muhammad Hassan Hakimion

CHAGHCHARAN: Nine supporters of an armed commander, Mullah Mustafa, were killed during an airstrike by foreign troops in the Shahrak district of western Ghor province, an official said on Wednesday.

The raid was carried on Mustafa’s residence in the Dahan-i-Morgha area of the district on Tuesday night, Governor Syed Anwar Rahmati told Pajhwok Afghan News. But Mustafa, who allegedly has links to the Taliban, escaped unhurt in the raid, he said.

One of the commander’s associates, Qayamuddin, said eight people were killed and as many injured in the airstrike. Most of the victims were Mustafa’s family members.

A statement from International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), meanwhile, confirmed the incident, in which an Afghan and coalition security force killed several insurgents.

“ISAF is aware of reports of possible civilian casualties resulting from this operation. It takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and is assessing the facts surrounding this incident.”

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Bani Walid, Day 20: Genocide In Libya

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

RT
October 24, 2012

Siege of Bani Walid, Day 20: ‘Militia committing genocide’ – RT source

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[T]he UN has taken no action to curb the ongoing violence. Russia attempted to propose a draft statement calling for a peaceful end to the violence in Bani Walid, but was blocked by the US.

“There is no government in Libya, only armed groups and all of them are under Al-Qaeda control.”

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Bani Walid, Libya, has been under siege for nearly three consecutive weeks. A man whose family is in the besieged city spoke with RT, and described the horrors allegedly taking place: Civilians are killed every day by toxic gas and heavy tank fire.

Bani Walid, the last stronghold for supporters of deceased Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, has been under siege for 20 days, with no resolution to the conflict in sight.

RT has learned that militias are reportedly shelling the city indiscriminately, with footage from Bani Walid showing dead bodies, and women and children with missing limbs and disfigured faces.

A man named Faraj, who is currently in Egypt but is in contact with relatives in Bani Walid, spoke with RT and claimed that the militias are committing genocide.

Militias have reportedly encircled Bani Walid, and are not allowing any supplies into the town including food, water, medicine or humanitarian aid. The town’s electricity and gas has also allegedly been cut off.

‘Massacre in Bali Walid’

Faraj told RT that “the city has been exposed to genocide from Misrata militias that are cooperating with Al-Qaeda groups.”

Several graphic clips published on YouTube claim to show the brutal aftermath of the recent shelling in Bani Walid.

“They attack the city and are using heavy machinery to demolish the houses,” Faraj said. “They are using internationally banned toxic gases against civilian people and they bombard the population with tanks.”

Government-affiliated militias are under the orders “to kill all protesters,” he said. “The city is blocked from all sides; there has been no medicine, no food, and no humanitarian aid. There is nothing inside the city.”

“There is bloodshed in Bani Walid and nobody can hear the people inside the city. [The] militias’ guns come from the outside including from Sarkozy and Obama’s administrations.”

The siege was prompted by troops seeking to arrest those responsible for the death of Omran Shaaban – the man credited with capturing Gaddafi last year. The Warfalla tribe controlling Bani Walid was accused of kidnapping and torturing Shaaban.

UN fails to act

“We hope media will come to Bani Walid to see the truth for themselves and report on the story,” Faraj said. “Right now, the information that is coming out is lies and forgery.”

“We plea for the humanitarian agencies of the world to help us save our families inside Bani Walid. The people need immediate help and an intervention from the outside,” he said.

So far, the UN has taken no action to curb the ongoing violence. Russia attempted to propose a draft statement calling for a peaceful end to the violence in Bani Walid, but was blocked by the US.

“There is no government in Libya, only armed groups and all of them are under Al-Qaeda control,” Faraj said. “The situation is very dangerous and there is no control from [the] government.”

Barry Lando, an analyst of Arab issues, recently told RT that the main power in Libya is bands of armed militias.

“Now you have hundreds of militias, many of them heavily armed,” Lando said. “Hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of weapons are out there; more weapons than people. The new government seems to be standing there looking at what’s happening around them, nearly powerless to do much about it.”
And since the country is awash with weapons, the violence seems unlikely to end anytime soon.

“Despite the setting up of an interim government in Libya with the backing of the US, the country is still very much troubled by tribalism, tribal confrontations, confrontations between pro-Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi forces, and it is not expected that law and order and peace and development can be restored to the country within a very short period of time,” Joseph Cheng, political analyst and professor at Hong Kong University, told RT.

The fragile new Libyan government experienced disarray at the outset when its Congress dismissed Mustafa Abushagur – the first prime minister to be elected since the uprising – for failing to form a new Cabinet.

The country’s new Prime Minister, Ali Zaidan, is now also in danger of losing his post if the Libyan National Congress rejects his proposed cabinet – a firing that could further weaken the perceived legitimacy of the new government.

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Russian Military Chief: U.S. Supplying Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Syrian Rebels

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Itar-Tass
October 24, 2012

Syrian militants have various air defence systems, including U.S. Stinger

MOSCOW: Syrian militants are armed with portable air defence systems produced in other countries, including the United States, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Gen. Nikolai Makarov told reporters on Wednesday.

“The General Staff has information that the militants, who are fighting against Syrian government troops, are armed with the portable air defence systems of various countries, including the Stinger of U.S. production,” he underlined.

Commenting on some media reports that the Obama administration gave instructions to pass on a batch of the portable air defence systems to the formations of the unappeasable Syrian opposition, Makarov said, “The US denies this fact, they say that they did not deliver anything to them (Syrian militants). However, we have reliable information that Syrian militants are armed with foreign portable air defence systems, including U.S. air defence systems.

“It is necessary to find out who supplied it to them,” the chief of the Russian General Staff said. “For this purpose all types of transport can be used, including civil airlines,” he said.

On October 17, a Syrian source stated that the U.S. allegedly decided to pass to Syrian militants a batch of portable air defence systems. “President Barack Obama, who was speaking not quite well at the first round of the debates compared to his rival Mitt Romney, prepared a ‘strong’ card. He gave instructions to pass the air defence systems to formations of the unappeasable Syrian opposition,” he told journalists.

However, the U.S. did not confirm the reliability of this information. Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department Victoria Nuland stated on October 18 that she cannot confirm anything like that.

Under the OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the twenty-first century approved in Maastricht in 2003 the organization uses all available instruments for counteracting the proliferation of the air defence systems.

According to the decision taken at the OSCE forum for security cooperation number 3/04 in May 2004 and approved by the OSCE Council of Ministers at the end of the same year, the OSCE states, including the U.S., that it is committed to contribute to the use of efficient and comprehensive mechanisms for the export control of portable air defence systems. In particular, the export supplies of the portable air defence systems only to the governments of other countries or the agents, which are empowered concretely to act on behalf of the government, are permitted. The violation of the principles of the decision comes under the effect of penalty sanctions, including those related to criminal persecution.

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U.S., NATO In South Asia: Eleven Years Of Carnage

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
October 24, 2012

Hey, hey, Mr. President, how many kids have been killed in AfPak?
Boris Volkhonsky

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The total number of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan in direct war-related violence is estimated at up to 128,500. The number does not include indirect deaths caused by loss of access to food, water and infrastructure. Plus a recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported documents about 500,000 Pakistanis who are living outside of their homes as a result of warfare.

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As reported by Reuters, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday condemned a NATO operation that he said killed four children in the country’s east.
“Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives, including those of children, are still being lost,” Karzai said in the statement.

The report does not sound like anything outstanding – reports like this one have been appearing lately with an accelerated frequency. But in this case, despite the general practice of denying any wrongdoing, a spokeswoman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of possible ISAF-related civilian casualties from the operation in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province last Saturday.

At the same time, the spokeswoman for ISAF presented figures intended to demonstrate that there was a 58 percent decrease in the number of ISAF-caused civilian casualties in July-September of this year compared to the same period in 2011.

Indeed, the whole issue of statistics of the kind is more than tricky. More often than not, to avoid showing the real numbers, the US and NATO officials tend to label all those killed as militants, thus drastically reducing the number of civilian casualties. Most probably in this case, when children were killed, playing this trick became impossible.

The eleventh anniversary of the Afghan operation gave analysts an opportunity to try to evaluate the total number of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan (the so called AfPak) within this period. The Huffington Post has published a piece written by two US scholars, Neta C. Crawford from Boston University and Catherine Lutz from Brown University. The figures they present speak for themselves.

The number of foreign troops and military contractors is calculated more or less accurately. During the 11 years of war, more than 2,130 Americans and more than 1,065 other ISAF military and 1,284 US military contractors have been killed. The picture is much worse for Afghans and Pakistanis. What is striking in the study is the fact that though the war is going on in Afghanistan, the number of casualties among Pakistanis (including civilians) is even higher. This can be ascribed to the excessive use of drones.

The number of militants killed is estimated at 15,000 to 25,000 for Afghanistan and 25,000 for Pakistan. The number of civilian casualties is almost the same or even higher – 15,500 to 17,400 for Afghanistan and 14,780 to 43,150 for Pakistan. The total number of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan in direct war-related violence is estimated at up to 128,500. The number does not include indirect deaths caused by loss of access to food, water and infrastructure. Plus a recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported documents about 500,000 Pakistanis who are living outside of their homes as a result of warfare.

Now the big question that arises from the deplorable statistics is – what’s next? Plans for the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan have been announced and have not been rejected yet, although it is truly impossible to believe that the US is going to abandon the vital strategic region. But, as the authors in the Huffington Post point out, “the current plan is to pull US troops out of Afghanistan in 2014, but there is no plan to halt military assistance to Pakistan or US drone strikes there,” and “withdrawal from Afghanistan will likely leave a war in place in Pakistan.”

What kind of war this is going to be is another question. It is hard to imagine that the US strategists – whatever their appetites may be – would venture on a new war against a nuclear country like Pakistan. But the outlines of their future (or, better say, continuing) operation there have been made clear both by previous experience and recent developments.

The use of drones, widely criticized by the Western public and experts, and raising outrage in AfPak is probably the main method the US and its allies will rely upon in future warfare. It allows for diminishing the number of allied military killed down to zero, while effectively inflicting devastating damage to manpower and infrastructure of the targeted country.

In a sign of proof of such a supposition, on Monday London’s The Guardian revealed that the Royal Air Force is going to double the number of armed drones flying combat and surveillance operations in Afghanistan and the aircraft will be controlled from terminals and screens in Britain. The report came against the background of other widely publicized reports that the UK government is going to speed up the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

So, the withdrawal in no way means the end of the war. The war must go on – though in a much more cowardly manner.

Back in the 1960s, American students and professors, who were fed up with the ongoing Vietnam War chanted, addressing President Lyndon Johnson, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?” It seems the time has come to come up with another slogan of the kind.

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Russia To Block Any Move In United Nations For Attack On Iran

October 23, 2012 1 comment

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 23, 2012

Moscow to Block Any Bid for Force Against Iran – Lavrov

MOSCOW: Russia will scuttle any UN Security Council resolution that could be interpreted as allowing military action against Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“As the Libyan experience has shown, sadly, a military scenario is possible,” he said in an interview with the daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta when asked whether Israel or the United States could start military operations in Iran.

Russia will therefore exercise an extremely cautious approach at the UN Security Council.

“We won’t allow any more such disingenuous interpretations. We will see to it that no resolution is open to interpretation like the one on Libya,” he said.

The West, led by the United States, suspects Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program, but the Islamic Republic says it needs nuclear power solely for electricity generation.

There is “absolutely no evidence” that Iran has decided to include a military component in its nuclear program, Lavrov said.

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Japan Engaged In Further Efforts To Reverse Results Of World War II

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Times
October 23, 2012

Efforts to overturn war’s verdict futile
Zhong Sheng

The Chinese have highly valued credibility and integrity since ancient times. There is a time-honored proverb that “credibility is a trump card to sustain governance and win public support.” In order to keep a foothold in the international arena, a country has to win respect and trust from other countries, keep its promises, and behave in an open-minded and upright way.

The Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation are the legal basis for the establishment of the international order after World War II. On August 10, 1945, the Japanese government offered to surrender to the Allies. On August 15, the Japanese emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.

In the surrender document, Japan clearly promised to “accept the provisions in the declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the United States, China, and Great Britain 26 July 1945 at Potsdam, and subsequently adhered to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”

If, as some in Japan have recently claimed, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation are unilateral announcements without binding force, how can Japan explain its signature on the surrender document? And why did the surrender officially mark the end of the war?

The Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation were the prerequisites for the Allies to end the war against Japan, and prerequisites for the international community, especially Asian countries, to reaccept Japan in the post-war era. By their recent questioning of the two documents, some in Japan actually seek to negate the fruits of the world’s victory in the anti-fascist war and challenge the post-war international order.

Japan’s recent provocations over the Diaoyu Islands issue did not happen accidentally. The fundamental reason is the increasing expansion of domestic right-wing forces, which are attempting to negate Japan’s history. In international media, articles warning against Japan’s “turn to the right” are often published.

On October 10, Japanese ambassador to the US Ichiro Fujisaki published an article on the Huffington Post, saying that external arguments about Japan’s growing nationalism and its turn to the right are “vastly exaggerated.”

Nevertheless, facts cannot be erased. In the post-war era, Japan has been reluctant to either deeply reflect upon its history of invasion or thoroughly settle with its militarism. In recent years, there are constant arguments made within Japan that deny the Nanjing Massacre in 1937 and the organized and forced prostitution run by the Japanese military.

Some Japanese politicians even actively seek to revise the Peace Constitution and the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. It is frequently reported that top Japanese officials, including former Japanese prime minister and newly elected chief of the Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe, visit the Yasukuni Shrine.

Aren’t all these signals of Japanese politics’ “turn to the right?” Shouldn’t Asians and people across the world be alert to these signals?

In 1970, German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt in front of a monument to the Warsaw Ghetto victims and delivered a silent apology to those who suffered during World War II. This helped improve the image of Germany. No politician in Japan has taken a similar stance. On the contrary, many seek to publicly distort and even deny its past invasions. This is exactly why Japan still fails to look graceful in front of people in Asia and the world at large.

Japan has been saying that it wants to become a “normal country.” However, Japan first needs to have a normal mentality, completely cleanse its legacy of militarism and win external trust through practical deeds.

After World War II, Japan created an economic miracle. But economic success doesn’t mean normalcy in politics. The recent provocations over the Diaoyu Islands issue make people wonder whether Japan will advance toward peaceful development or will return to the path of militarism. Its Asian neighbors and countries across the world are watching.

The author is a commentator with the People’s Daily. The article is the third in a series on the Diaoyu Islands originally published in the People’s Daily.

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Number 2 U.S. Military Commander In Turkey

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Hürriyet Daily News
October 23, 2012

US admiral in Turkey to discuss closer cooperation in anti-PKK fight
Sevil Küçükkoşum

ANKARA: A top U.S. admiral is visiting Turkey today amid increasing military cooperation between Washington and Ankara on the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and mounting tension on the Turkish-Syrian border to Syria’s crisis.

Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Turkey as part of a previously scheduled counterpart visit with Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, an official from the U.S Embassy to Turkey said.

“Admiral Winnefeld will participate in a series of discussions on military-to-military cooperation and mutual defense issues impacting both Turkey and the United States,” U.S. embassy spokesman in Ankara, T.J. Grubisha, told the Hürriyet Daily News today.

The fight against the PKK will top the agenda of the talks, while the Syrian crisis will also be discussed, a Turkish official told Daily News prior to the talks with the U.S. admiral. The Turkish side is also set to brief Winnefeld about problems related to intelligence-sharing between the U.S. and Turkey, the official said.

Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, told the Turkish media last week that a U.S. official would visit Turkey in the upcoming days to discuss cooperation between the two countries on the issue of fight against the PKK.

Ricciardone expressed his disappointment with frequent references to Washington’s unwillingness in the fight against the PKK and said he felt sorry and angered by such suspicions. “This makes our enemy successful in placing suspicion between allies. This might give hope to our enemies,” he said.

Ricciardone also said Washington had suggested that Turkey implement “tactics, techniques and procedures” (TTP), a multidisciplinary military maneuver that paved the way for the killing of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

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Russia Initiates Security Council Consultations On Syria, Libya

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
October 23, 2012

Russia calls for UNSC consultations on Syria, Libya

Russia has initiated a series of consultations at the UN Security Council on Tuesday on the situation in Syria and Libya.

A pair of Moscow-proposed draft statements on Syria condemns the October 21 terrorist attack in Damascus that left 13 people dead and welcomes the proposal by UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to call a ceasefire in Syria for the duration of the Id al-Adha Moslem holiday.

The draft on Libya calls on the Security Council members to voice concern over the situation in the violence-stricken city of Bani Walid and urge the Syrian authorities to step up efforts to peacefully end the conflict.

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Itar-Tass
October 23, 2012

Russia initiates UN Security Council consultations on Syria and Libya

UNITED NATIONS: Russia has initiated consultations on the situation in Syria and Libya at the UN Security Council today, a well-informed source at the UN headquarters told Itar-Tass.

In the course of the consultations, the participants will consider three draft statements proposed by Russia: on support for the armistice in Syria proposed by the UN and Arab League’s special representative Lakhdar Brahimi, on the October 21 terrorist act in Damascus and on the situation in the Libyan city of Bani Walid.

“The delegation of a Western country has asked the Security Council to put off the deadline for decision-making on the issues so as to be able to have discussions with its capital and the Russian delegation initiated consultations on them in the meantime,” the sources said.

The Security Council is due to begin its meeting at 10:00 hours EDST /18:00 MSK/.

The two draft statements submitted by Russia condemn the terrorist act in Damascus and urge the Syrian government and the opposition for an armistice during the feast of Id al Adha /October 26 through to October 28/.

The draft statement for the mass media on the situation in Libya expresses serious concern over the situation in the Libyan city of Bani Walid, which was swept by armed clashes last week, and advises the Libyan authorities on an earliest possible settlement of the conflict by peaceful means.

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NATO’s Global Expansion: The Growing Threat

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Research TV
October 22, 2012

NATO’s Global Expansion: The Growing Threat

As NATO continues to expand across the globe through a series of partnerships, initiatives and dialogues, what was once a collective security agreement is increasingly becoming a global military strike force capable of bombarding, invading and occupying countries anywhere in the world.

Through STOP Nato International, activists like Rick Rozoff are performing the thankless task of raising awareness of the growing threat to the world that NATO represents.

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Syrian Crisis Part Of West’s Geopolitical Remapping Of Mideast: Russian Foreign Minister

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Russian Information Agency Novosti
October 22, 2012

Syrian Conflict Part of Mideast ‘Geopolitical Game’ – Lavrov

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Lavrov cited some unspecified opposition groups as telling Russia that Western countries urge them to continue the resistance, “to fight for their rights with arms until [President Bashar al-Assad’s] regime falls.”

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MOSCOW: Some countries are apparently interested in fueling violence in Syria as part of a “geopolitical remapping” of the Middle East, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“It appears that every time the hope for progress in the Syrian situation arises, somebody attempts to prevent it from calming down and deliberately fuels the continuation of the bloodshed and civil war in Syria,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Monday.

Lavrov cited some unspecified opposition groups as telling Russia that Western countries urge them to continue the resistance, “to fight for their rights with arms until [President Bashar al-Assad’s] regime falls.”

The minister was especially critical of the terrorist tactics used by the opposition as a wave of attacks targeting senior government officials and pro-Assad forces had recently swept through the country.

The Syrian conflict has claimed up to 30,000 lives since March 2011, according to latest US estimates.

The West and some Arab countries are pushing for Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.

According to Lavrov, the Syrian conflict is “part of geopolitical remapping of the Middle East, where various players attempt to safeguard their interests.”

Assad, who is widely viewed as a close ally of Iran, has been unfairly made “a scapegoat” in this “big geopolitical game,” Lavrov said.

He defended Assad by calling him “a guarantor of the security of national minorities, among them Christians, who have been living in Syria for centuries.”

“By the most conservative estimates our Western partners quote in confidential contacts, he still enjoys support of at least a third of citizens as a man who vowed to prevent Syria’s transformation into a state where minorities will be simply unable to live and exist,” the Russian minister said.

Lavrov reiterated that foreign “recipes” would never provide a long-lasting and reliable solution to the Syrian conflict, and expressed hope that the visit of UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to Russia next week would help outline steps toward dialogue between warring parties in Syria.

Brahimi, who held talks with Assad in Damascus on Sunday, has urged the Syrian government and the opposition to cease fire for the duration of the Eid al-Adha holiday, which starts on Friday.

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France’s Exclusive Hunting Ground: Africa Must Shed Western Domination

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Times
October 22, 2012

African nations can no longer afford to be France’s garden
Antoine Roger Lokongo

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The West in general and France in particular cannot do without Africa, especially now that the global financial crisis caused by the corruption of the Western financial system is threatening the economic viability of many NATO countries.

Some authors have seen France’s traditional African policy as being equivalent to the US Monroe Doctrine. Though different in their purposes, both doctrines justify, mainly through historical and geographical arguments, the exclusive control by a nation over what they regard as their “private backyard” (arrière-cours).

The way forward for Africa is to be united and to follow the South American model…If Africa can follow a similar model, it can escape the constraints of colonialism, whether French, British, Portuguese, or US, and carve its own destiny.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was recently the site of choice for the 14th Summit Meeting of La Francophonie Heads of State and Governments held in Kinshasa in mid-October.

“La Francophonie” stands for a wide network of institutions and projects aimed at developing the political, economic and cultural links between France and its former colonies, through training support, academic and students exchanges, promotion of the French language, cultural exhibitions, subsidies and so on.

So why the choice of the DRC at this particular time? France fears losing a big francophone country should it veer toward the British-led Commonwealth camp, and the arrival of China in the DRC sends shivers down the West’s spine.

The DRC’s importance also stems from its geopolitical and strategic position at the heart of the continent; its fertile land, benign climate, natural tourist attractions and, particularly, its mineral resources.

The West in general and France in particular cannot do without Africa, especially now that the global financial crisis caused by the corruption of the Western financial system is threatening the economic viability of many NATO countries.

Former French president Jacques Chirac acknowledged that “without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.” Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century.”

Africa is criticially important for France. One French scholar, Xavier Renou, suggests several reasons: maintaining an international status independent of US and Chinese influences, securing permanent access to strategic resources, and benefiting from a monopolistic situation. To attain these objectives and maintain its power over its former colonies, France has to pursue a global policy that is economic, political and cultural.

However, in the 21st century, Africa does not need the remnant frameworks of colonialism. Africa should turn its back on La Francophonie in particular.

France does not respect Africa. Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy went as far as insulting Africa, when in a speech in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, he said: “Africa has no history” and “the African man has not fully entered into history.”

Some authors have seen France’s traditional African policy as being equivalent to the US Monroe Doctrine. Though different in their purposes, both doctrines justify, mainly through historical and geographical arguments, the exclusive control by a nation over what they regard as their “private backyard” (arrière-cours).

This is reflected in a number of French expressions used to describe Francophone African countries, such as domaine réservé (private domain), chasse-gardée (exclusive hunting ground) and pré-carré (natural preserve), which prescribe the backyard as being “off limits” to other great powers.

That is why the presence at the helm of France’s former colonies of an independent, principled, and experienced leadership is regarded as an obstacle as such. The installation of weak, dependent and inexperienced pawns who can be guided along to deliver the country to Western powers on a platter is being pursued to this day.

Moreover, the “special relationship” that France seeks to build with African countries is far more focused on France’s national interests than African ones.

If you look at the economic integration among countries that share the Communauté Financière d’Afrique franc as a common currency, you will notice that the French Treasury holds billions of dollars owned by the African states of the francophone nations of West and Central Africa in its own accounts.

The francophone states deposit the equivalent of 85 percent of their annual reserves in these accounts as a matter of post-colonial agreements, and have never been given an accounting of how much the French are holding on their behalf, in what have these funds been invested, and what profit or loss there have been.

In fact these countries require the permission of France before they sign any contract with China.

The way forward for Africa is to be united and to follow the South American model. South American countries are succeeding exactly because they have reached their own consensus.

In the past decade, for the first time in 500 years, South America has taken successful steps to free itself from Western domination.

The region has moved toward integration, and has begun to address some of the terrible internal problems of societies ruled by mostly Europeanized elites, tiny islands of extreme wealth in a sea of misery. Some nations have also rid themselves of US military bases and of IMF controls.

If Africa can follow a similar model, it can escape the constraints of colonialism, whether French, British, Portuguese, or US, and carve its own destiny.

The author is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a journalist, and currently a PhD candidate at the Center for African Studies, Peking University.

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Caucasus: U.S. Prepares For Attack On Iran

October 22, 2012 3 comments

Nezavisimaya Gazeta
October 18, 2012

US Probes South Caucasus’ Attitude to Iran

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Georgian politician Irina Sarishvili said before Rubin’s visit that many hospitals built in Georgia recently under a presidential program bear an alarming likeness to standard US military hospitals. Considering the speedy modernization and construction of airports for heavy transport planes and other infrastructure improvements, this could be more than straightforward concern for the Georgians.

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Eric Rubin, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, is touring Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia to promote democracy and cooperation and develop partnership on the issues of Syria and Iran.

The media in Azerbaijan reports that Rubin’s visit to Georgia focused on economic issues, civil freedoms and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The US Embassy in Armenia’s press service said Rubin would attend a meeting of the US-Armenian group on economic cooperation to discuss stimulating investment in energy and trade, as well as nuclear power.

The agenda for high-ranking Washington officials’ visits to the South Caucasus seldom varies, and this is not simply because Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia face largely similar problems, but also for ethical reasons. Washington wants to convince them that they are all equal partners.

Therefore, if Rubin talked about Iran in Georgia, he did or will do the same in the other two South Caucasus states.

“During the meetings with the President and future Prime Minister of Georgia, we discussed the international community’s efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” Rubin told a press briefing at the US Embassy in Tbilisi as quoted by Azernews. “We are broadly cooperating over the Turkish-Syrian issue, and Georgia is called upon to play a peacekeeping role in the region.”

However, some Georgian experts believe that Rubin met with Mikheil Saakashvili and Bidzina Ivanishvili to probe Georgia’s attitude to Iran, where Washington will want Georgia to play a special role if the situation escalates.

Georgian politician Irina Sarishvili said before Rubin’s visit that many hospitals built in Georgia recently under a presidential program bear an alarming likeness to standard US military hospitals. Considering the speedy modernization and construction of airports for heavy transport planes and other infrastructure improvements, this could be more than straightforward concern for the Georgians.

Eric Rubin also said in Tbilisi, clearly referring to Russian bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia that “the US position regarding the obligations that Russia undertook in 2008 to withdraw its troops from the Georgian territory remain unchanged.” He said the US stance on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia is firm and clear.

Commenting on the recent parliamentary election, Rubin congratulated Ivanishvili on the victory and praised Saakashvili’s personal contribution to positive developments in Georgia. He said the world can see that democracy in Georgia is real, and that the country can become a model for the region.

Rubin also met with ministerial nominees, notably Irakly Alasania who is slated to become the Defense Minister. Alasania assured him that Georgia would honor its commitments in Afghanistan. In response, Rubin said that Washington would redouble its efforts to promote Georgia’s rapprochement with NATO.

The US official refused to comment on Ivanishvili’s plans to participate in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. He said he was pleased with Saakashvili’s assurances that Georgia is committed to strengthening ties with Euro-Atlantic organizations and the United States, and to guaranteeing press freedom.

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Pakistan-Russia: Important Shift In South And Central Asia

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Daily Times
October 22, 2012

Pakistan and Russia: imperatives of bilateral cooperation
Dr. Rashid Ahmad Khan

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The two countries have quietly been building a mutual relationship for the last few years through bilateral as well as multilateral contacts at the highest levels. Pakistan’s status as an observer state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has provided it with an important opportunity to have interaction with the top Russian leadership.

In June 2009, President Asif Ali Zardari participated in the SCO Summit in Yaketerinburg and met the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian leader was reported to have expressed a strong desire to develop closer relations with Pakistan in all important areas, including defence, investment and energy.

The establishment of close contacts between the top leadership of Pakistan and Russia and the two sides’ readiness to open a new chapter in their relationship is not only in the interests of the two countries, it will also serve the interests of peace, security and regional integration in two of the world’s important regions of Central Asia and South Asia.

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Foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov and Hina Rabbani Khar in Islamabad on October 4

Despite being geographically contiguous, Pakistan and Russia had remained politically distant from each other during the last six decades. The framework of the Cold War and the East-West confrontation defined the relations between the two countries during that period.

Another factor that obstructed the development of close and friendly relations between Pakistan and Russia was the latter’s insistence on looking at South Asia only through Indian eyes, ignoring Pakistan’s vital national security concerns. But the post-Cold War transformation of global politics and fast changing geo-political situation in the region following 9/11 have created new and strong imperatives for the two to come closer and enter into productive bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and security areas.

This reality was manifestly recognised in the statements by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint press talk in Islamabad earlier this month. “We are longing for better ties with Pakistan,” said Mr Lavrov; while Ms Khar termed the current millennium as “the millennium of (Pakistan’s) relations with Russia.” The visit of the Russian foreign minister has brought the relationship of the two countries to a new and historic threshold.

Pakistan has achieved significant diplomatic success by securing the Russian endorsement of its position on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The Russian foreign minister, while talking to the media in Islamabad, had categorically said that his country was against any solution of the Afghanistan problem that is imposed from outside and is not Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven. Instead, Russia would back an indigenous peace and reconciliation process owned and led by the people of Afghanistan. Similarly, the Russian condemnation of drone attacks has strengthened Pakistan’s hands in ensuring the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Russian position on Afghanistan as articulated by Foreign Minister Lavrov during his recent visit to Pakistan is clear evidence of the greater geo-strategic convergence between Pakistan and Russia on regional issues.

The two countries have quietly been building a mutual relationship for the last few years through bilateral as well as multilateral contacts at the highest levels. Pakistan’s status as an observer state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has provided it with an important opportunity to have interaction with the top Russian leadership.

With the induction of a democratic government in Pakistan following the 2008 elections, the process gained momentum and the two sides took important initiatives to promote bilateral trade, economic cooperation and regional connectivity through multilateral frameworks. In June 2009, President Asif Ali Zardari participated in the SCO Summit in Yaketerinburg and met the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian leader was reported to have expressed a strong desire to develop closer relations with Pakistan in all important areas, including defence, investment and energy. According to some sources, Pakistan and Russia were contemplating entering into a commercial defence agreement enabling Pakistan to purchase Russian arms and weapons.

There is vast potential for the growth of bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Russia in a wide range of areas. Since the two sides have shown a keen desire to explore new areas and strengthen already existing cooperation in multiple fields, the coming years if not months are certain to witness an expansion of cooperation between the two countries. The areas of energy, regional connectivity, infrastructure and trade are going to be the focus of these endeavours.

However, while discussing the future prospects of Pakistan-Russia cooperation in economic and other non-political areas, the political and strategic fallout of the newly-found Russia-Pakistan friendship should also be taken into consideration, particularly by Pakistan, which has to date followed a foreign policy based on a narrow regional and global perspective.

Russia, which is a successor state to a former superpower, has its own worldview. For example, despite the establishment of a strategic partnership between India and the United States symbolised by their deal on civil nuclear cooperation, and robust Sino-India trade and economic relations, Moscow still values New Delhi as a close friend and Russian relations with Pakistan will not be at the cost of the former’s relations with India. As a big stakeholder in peace and tranquillity in South Asia, the growth of the Pakistan-Russia relationship will be a further incentive for Pakistan to pursue peace and normalisation with its eastern neighbour.

The Russians have their own perspective on issues relating to militancy, terrorism and regional peace and security. They are concerned about the prospects of Afghanistan again coming under the rule of the Taliban. Although, as the statement of the Russian foreign minister in Islamabad indicated, the Russians are opposed to the permanent military presence of the United States in Afghanistan; they are frightened on the prospects of NATO failure in Afghanistan as that would lead to serious anarchy and chaos in the country. This is why they are helping ISAF in Afghanistan by allowing their supplies through Russian territory. The Russians are also very worried about the security and law and order situation in Pakistan, particularly, the presence of a large number of foreign militants from Central Asia and Chechnya. During the meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit at Yaketerinburg in June 2009 between President Zardari and President Medvedev, the latter was reported to have called for the elimination of safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The establishment of close contacts between the top leadership of Pakistan and Russia and the two sides’ readiness to open a new chapter in their relationship is not only in the interests of the two countries, it will also serve the interests of peace, security and regional integration in two of the world’s important regions of Central Asia and South Asia.

The writer is a professor of International Relations at Sargodha University.

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Arnold Zweig: No joy to be born into world of war

October 22, 2012 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Arnold Zweig: Selections on war

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Arnold Zweig
From The Case of Sergeant Grischa (1927)
Translated by Eric Sutton

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The driver with the drooping shoulders and moustaches stood by and looked dully down into the grave before him.

“They say the fellow was innocent,” said one of the Hamburgers with the sing-song intonation of his native harbour.

“I dare say he was,” said the other, “but what’s the good of that – we’re all innocent.”

“I didn’t want the War,” said the driver suddenly.

It was the first outbreak of that smothered, blunted soul, slave among countless slaves on those wide plains. The two Hamburgers looked at him contemptuously. They did not not need to assure anybody that they had not wanted the War. They exchanged a mocking glance indicative of the fact that they thought the driver was balmy, and that, anyhow, the only men of intelligence were to be found in Hamburg; then with a practised gesture they stuck their shovels into the high neat mound of earth that Grischa’s body, and not the hands of men, had so raised up.

In that very quarter of an hour Dr. Jaconstadt, the civil doctor, removed the child with forceps from Babka’s unconscious body. It was a girl, weighing more than six pounds, well made and with distinctive features whose likeness no one could decide: as a matter of fact, with her short nose, broad cheek-bones, and bright blue-grey eyes she bore a ludicrous resemblance to Grischa’s old mother whom none of them had ever seen. It did not cry, and while Babka was being attended to, it lay still, groping with its tiny fingers, red all over, in a rush basket on a pillow which later on was to serve as its eiderdown. When Babka came out of the anaesthetic, she refused to see it, but when it was held out to her all the same, she smiled the faintest suggestion of a smile and would not let it out of her hands.

Dr. Jacobstadt and the motherly midwife, Frau Nachtschwarz, exchanged a few remarks in Yiddish.

“I think we may congratulate ourselves,” said the woman as she dried her hands.

And the doctor, with his sallow, drawn face and grizzled, pointed beard, shook his head sceptically and answered:

“If you think that being born in such times as these is a matter for congratulation, then I suppose we may.”

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Hillary’s Calumny: U.S. and Its Terrorist Clients

October 21, 2012 3 comments

The Frontier Post
October 18, 2012

Hillary’s calumny

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The American movers and shakers spearheading their proxy war against the Soviets not only roped in Muslim zealots from all over the world and dumped them here for onward unleashing into Afghanistan. They mopped up Arab monies in mountains and pumped those into starting off a chain of madrassas and seminaries in Pakistan to produce fanatical pupils to fight in Afghanistan.

The extremist outfits that have now added the brand name of al-Qaeda to their banners, like the al-Qaeda in Maghreb (AQIM) and the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to lend ferocity to their faces, are the ones the American warlords had poached on massively for recruits for their proxy Afghan war.

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Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has definitely spoken out of turn. For, what else have over 5,000 Pakistani military officers and soldiers laid down their precious lives if not acting against the extremists? But when will the American eminences lift the mask of piety from their faces and admit some home truths? Pakistan is in fact reaping the terrible harvest the Americans had sowed when they jumped in to wage a proxy war against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. Until then, Pakistan was a predominantly moderate, forward-looking polity with hardly a streak of radicalism. It was the American adventurism that spawned and nurtured extremist elements in this country.

The American movers and shakers spearheading their proxy war against the Soviets not only roped in Muslim zealots from all over the world and dumped them here for onward unleashing into Afghanistan. They mopped up Arab monies in mountains and pumped those into starting off a chain of madrassas and seminaries in Pakistan to produce fanatical pupils to fight in Afghanistan. No less horribly, they ferried in planeloads of deadly weapons to put in the hands of the Afghan ‘mujahideen’ and foreign zealots. That led up to the proliferation of illegal weapons in this country, with which it is still awash to become a violent polity irretrievably.

But official America is as loath to admit these uncomfortable truths as is it in confessing its sinful role in spreading this extremism worldwide. Even the American commentariat, think tanks and opinion leaders are dishonest and untruthful. They all conveniently even paper over the indigestible reality that their betes noires now were once their fondling darlings. Osama bin Laden was their poster boy of their ‘Afghan Jihad’.

The extremist outfits that have now added the brand name of al-Qaeda to their banners, like the al-Qaeda in Maghreb (AQIM) and the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to lend ferocity to their faces, are the ones the American warlords had poached on massively for recruits for their proxy Afghan war.

And the Haqqanis were their favourite Afghan ‘mujahideen’. Hillary has just to dig into the official archives to know how many American high personages and how many times had they eulogised affectionately the elder Haqqani, Jalaluddin, as “nobility personified”. In any case, it would be quite educative for her to delve in a bit of history to know what lethal baggage had the Americans left Pakistan to contend with on account of their Afghan Jihad. Of course, the then Pakistani military ruler, Gen. Ziaul Haq, cannot be exonerated for becoming such an obliging piggyback of this American adventurism. But the original sin clearly lay with the warmongers of the United States.

But has Hillary ever bothered to know whose man is Fazlullah, the fugitive Pakistani militant commander whose spokesman has claimed that their outfit was responsible for the assassination attempt on the child rights activist, Malala Yousafzai? Which safe house was it in Afghanistan where he remained ensconced for years after the US-led invasion and occupation of the country?

And who had funded him and armed him so lavishly that on his return home he threw such a severe armed challenge to the Pakistani state in Swat? And whose proxy is Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, who too led an armed insurrection in the Bajaur Agency, which the Pakistani military had to subdue after a tough fight?

After being routed in their Pakistani bases, both Fazlullah and Faqir had fled and are now holed up along with their hundreds of brigands in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces. Whose guests are they? Who is feeding, arming and directing them there? And at whose behest do Fazlullah’s thugs crawl out of their Afghan sanctuaries every now and then, cross over into the bordering Pakistani territories, attack murderously Pakistani border posts and civilian villages and then crawl back to their Afghan safe havens after inflicting huge losses in lives and properties in the targeted areas?

Has Hillary ever listened intently to the spooks of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, bragging publicly of having infested Pakistan’s tribal territories and adjoining settled areas?

Isn’t it widely known that this Afghan agency was founded by America’s premier intelligence agency, the CIA, and has since functioned largely as its subordinate service? Won’t it then be quite prudent for Hillary Clinton if, instead of hectoring and lecturing Pakistan, she spends some time and energy in knowing some home truths? Pakistan stands in no need of sermons. On its own, it is fighting against the monstrosity of terrorism that has gulped up over 45,000 of its civilians too.

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