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Military Escalation: From Afghanistan To the Caspian Sea and Central Asia

Military Escalation: From Afghanistan To the Caspian Sea and Central Asia
Largest ground combat operation since the Vietnam War.
by Rick Rozoff | Scoop Independent News

The Pentagon and its NATO allies have launched the largest combat offensive to date in their nearly eight-year war in South Asia - Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword) with 4,000 US Marines, attack helicopters and tanks and Operation Panchai Palang (Panther's Claw) with several hundred British engaged in airborne assaults - in the Afghan province of Helmand.

The American effort is the largest ground combat operation conducted by Washington in Asia since the Vietnam War.

Other NATO and allied nations have also boosted or intend to increase their troop strength in Afghanistan, with German forces to exceed 4,000 for the first time, Romanian troops to top 1,000 and contingents to be augmented from dozens of other NATO member and partner states, including formerly neutral Finland and Sweden.

The US, NATO, NATO's Partnership for Peace and Contact Countries and other allied nations - states as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Macedonia - have some 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, all under the command of America's General Stanley A. McChrystal, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and a counterinsurgency master hand. The Afghan-Pakistani war theater resembles the Vietnam War in more than one manner.

The US troop contingent has nearly doubled since last year, more than quintupled in five years, and will be in the neighborhood of 70,000 soldiers by year's end.

Concurrent with the ongoing offensive the US has fired missiles from aerial drones into Pakistan in the two deadliest strikes of the type ever in that country, killing 65 and 50 people in two recent attacks.

Large-scale government military operations on the Pakistani side of the border, coordinated with the Pentagon through its new Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell and with NATO through the Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission, have uprooted and displaced well in excess of two million civilians, the largest population dislocation in Pakistan since the 1947 partition of British India. Read more

Japan's Weapons Industry

Japan's Weapons Industry
The potential consequences of Japan’s resumption of arms exports.
by Gavan Gray | Global Research.CA

Reforms being backed by the Japanese government are likely to see further easing of, if not an outright end to, Japan’s stringent restrictions on military arms exports. That this may well be a necessity due to current trends toward joint development of weapons systems between nations and corporations, should in no way be taken to mean it will not have major consequences for Japan. The Japanese arms industry currently exists to serve the Self Defense Forces but should its raison d’être change from national security to profit-making, Japan is likely to see a major increase in both governmental corruption and the ‘revolving door’ system of conflicts of interest, which have compromised the security of nations such as the UK and USA.  
Since the end of WWII the Japanese people have seen their country portrayed, by virtue of its constitution’s renunciation of war, as a uniquely peaceful and nonviolent nation. Yet, in the past decade the push to ‘normalize’ the country, and return to it the full variety of foreign policy options available to other major powers, has seen significant changes occur. Recently, the government has begun to relax a longstanding injunction against the export of weapons, something that will unleash some of the world’s leading industrial manufacturers on the international weapons market. In doing so, Japan greatly increases the influence the arms industry will have upon its national politics. This industry now exists solely as a provider for the Self Defense Forces but, should profitability take over from national security as its raison d’être, the state will, based upon the examples of the US and the UK, have to contend with increased levels of corruption and the promotion of an aggressively militaristic foreign policy.

Robert McNamara deceived LBJ on Gulf of Tonkin, documents show

By Gareth Porter

The Raw Story website has just published my story on how Robert S. McNamara deliberately misled Lyndon Johnson on Augusts 4, 1964 by withholding what he knew about the alleged attack on U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf -- which was that the whole premise of such an attack had been thrown in doubt by the commander on the scene. Based on documents from the Lyndon Johnson Library, this story reveals the lengths to which McNamara went in seeking to maneuver Johnson into bombing North Vietnam -- thus greasing the skids for the U.S. War in Vietnam.

The story is followed by pdfs of the key documents with the smoking gun evidence that McNamara hid from Johnson the fact that he had gone ahead with the strike order -- obviously without telling LBJ -- despite the advice of Admiral Grant Sharp, the Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces, to wait until confirming evidence had been obtained.

There is also a MP3 file with the audiotape of Lyndon Johnson telling McNamara a few weeks later on September 18 (when McNamara was trying to sell him on the idea that yet another attack on U.S. ships had taken place in the Tonkin Gulf) that he had misinformed him about the alleged attack on August 4.
For the full text, go here.

Another Day, Another New US Military Base

US and Kyrgyzstan sign new air base deal
By Isabel Gorst in Moscow, Financial Times

Kyrgyzstan said on Tuesday it would temporarily allow the US to continue using a military air base on its territory that is critical to coalition forces fighting the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Kadyrbek Sarbayev, the Kyrgyz foreign minister, said Washington had agreed to more than triple the rent for use of the Manas base, a transit hub used for refuelling aircraft carrying troops to Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan gave the US six months to vacate Manas last February after accepting a promise of $2bn of financial assistance from Russia which objects to the presence of US troops in former Soviet central Asia.

Agent Orange Continues to Poison Vietnam

Agent Orange Continues to Poison Vietnam
By Marjorie Cohn |

Last week, the Bureau of the IADL, meeting in Hanoi, presented President Nguyen Minh Triet of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with the final decision of the Tribunal. The judges found the U.S. government and the chemical companies guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ecocide during the illegal U.S. war of aggression in Vietnam. We recommended that the Agent Orange Commission be established in Vietnam to assess the damages suffered by the people and destruction of the environment, and that the U.S. government and the chemical companies provide compensation for the damage and destruction.

People of Laos Suffer Bomb Legacy

People of Laos suffer bomb legacy
By Jill McGivering | BBC News | Listen to BBC’s Jill McGivering's report on the Robin Young show.

Sop'ore is a small, remote village in Khammouane province. It's a group of wooden stilt-houses in traditional Lao style.

I met Mr Ta on his veranda there, as chickens, dogs and pigs scratched and snuffled below. We sat looking out at the mountains, which were covered with lush tropical rainforest and low morning mist.

The serenity of the scene stood in contrast to Mr Ta's horrific injuries.

Eight years ago, he told me, he was foraging in the forest with his children, looking for food. But they came across a small bomb. When it exploded, he lost both his arms and one of his eyes.

Since then, he explained, life has been very hard.

"I can't look after myself," he said. "I can only eat like a dog. My wife has to feed me and care for me, as well as looking after our children." Read more.

Palau To Take Guantanamo Uighurs

Palau to take Guantanamo Uighurs | al Jazeera

The tiny Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to a US request to temporarily resettle 17 Chinese Muslim ethnic Uighurs held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for more than seven years.

In a statement on Wednesday Johnson Toribiong, the country's president, said he had agreed to resettle the Uighur detainees "subject to periodic review".

The 17 were cleared for release from Guantanamo four years ago after US officials ruled there was no evidence to hold them as "enemy combatants".

Last year a US federal judge ordered the men released into the US, but an appeals court halted the order, and they have been in legal limbo ever since.

The US state department has said the Uighurs cannot be returned to China, despite requests from Beijing that they be handed over, because of fears they will face persecution and possible execution.

Instead US officials have been trying to find a third country willing to take them in, but in the meantime they have been kept in Guantanamo, spending up to 22 hours a day locked in their cells. Read more.

Obama's Outreach to Muslims: Empty Rhetoric, Same Old Policies

Obama's Outreach to Muslims: Empty Rhetoric, Same Old Policies
By Stephen Lendman

As well as anyone, Edward Said understood the West's long-standing antipathy to Islam - reflected in Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" article in the summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs and later a 1996 book.

He wrote that future conflicts won't be "primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural....the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future" - demagogically suggesting a benevolent, superior West confronting a belligerent, hostile, inferior Muslim world. In other words, good v. evil.

NYC, Tomorrow 6/2: Mark Crispin Miller Hosts Authors of "Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail"

Mark Crispin Miller writes:

Tomorrow evening (Tuesday 6/2), I'll be hosting Bob Coen and Eric Nadler at
McNally Jackson, for this month's First Tuesday event. Bob and Eric are the
authors of Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail (which is both
a book and a film

I'm pleased to say that they'll be kicking off their book tour with this event.


First Tuesday Series: Bob Coen and Eric Nadler

Bob Coen and Eric Nadler, authors of Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail (Counterpoint)

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, The Newest Superpower

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, The Newest Superpower |

What will China become in this century? There can hardly be a more important question to ask. TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro, who has followed shifting global power balances as the planet's former "sole superpower" edged into decline, offers a vivid picture below of a potential rising superpower weathering bad times as we head toward a multipolar planet.

There is, however, a more negative take on where China might be headed. Consider, for instance, Peter Kwong's recent article, "No Reform or Relief in China," which suggests a far more dismal view of that country's circumstances, or James Fallows's fascinating recent essay in the Atlantic, "Interesting Times," which presents a China capable of using this harsh economic moment (as the U.S. may not) to launch a new Great Economic Leap Forward, but offers a striking summary of the bad news in store for China right now. I find Hiro persuasive largely because I've long been convinced that American power is in decline, but I have my own caveats when it comes to China's future success. For one thing, I'm old enough to remember the period in the 1980s when Japan was being pre-anointed as the new economic superpower of Planet Earth. (There was even a much-touted book then entitled, "Japan as Number One: Lessons for America.")

Missile "Defense" Ships Would Protect Against China, Gates Says

By Global Security Newswire

The increasing number of U.S. warships equipped with ballistic missile defense technology would provide greater protection in case of conflict with China, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday (see GSN, April 7).

"We're converting more ships to have ballistic missile defense that would help against China," he told a PBS interviewer in regard to his budget plan for fiscal 2010.

The budget would reduce funding at the Missile Defense Agency by $1.4 billion but seeks $200 million to install missile shield technology on six ships, Gates said Monday.

Critics have argued that the plan would hamper the U.S. ability to fight conventional wars with nations such as China and Russia as Washington attempts to strengthen defenses against looming threats including insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Press Trust of India reported.

China Executes Uighur 'Militants'

China executes Uighur 'militants'
By James Reynolds | BBC News

China says it has executed two ethnic Uighur Muslims, sentenced to death last year on terror-related offences.

The pair were found guilty of killing 17 policemen in an attack in the western region of Xinjiang, four days before the Beijing Olympics in August.

The run-up to the Games was marked by an apparent resurgence in militancy among Uighurs, some of whom have been seeking independence for Xinjiang.

Xinjiang is home to more than eight million Uighur Muslims.

Pakistan Could Collapse Within Six Months: US Expert

Pakistan could collapse within six months: US expert | Times of India

Pakistan could collapse within six months in the face of the snowballing insurgency, a top expert on guerrilla warfare has said.

The dire prediction was made by David Kilcullen, a former adviser to top US military commander General David Petraeus.

David Kilcullen is the best known practitioner of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations and had advised Gen Petraeus on the counter-insurgency programme in Iraq. Few experts understand the nature of the insurgency in Af-Pak as well and he is now advising Petraeus in Afghanistan.

Petraeus also echoed the same thought when he told a Congressional testimony last week that the insurgency could "take down" Pakistan, which is home to nuclear weapons and al-Qaida.

S. Korea: N. Korea Launches Rocket

S. Korea: N. Korea Launches Rocket | CNN

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday in what U.S. and South Korean officials deemed a provocative act.

While the United States and South Korea confirmed the rocket launch, the payload of the rocket remains unclear. North Korea has said the rocket was to carry a satellite into space, but the United States, South Korea and other nations fear it could be a missile with a warhead attached.

"With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement after the launch.


The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will hold its 17th annual space organizing conference in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18, 2009. The group is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the introduction of weapons and nuclear power into space. The theme for the annual conference will be Asian-Pacific Missile Defense and an End to the Arms Race in the region.

Ten Korean peace organizations, led by the Peace Network and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, will host the 2009 Global Network space conference.

North Korea Prepares to Launch a Satellite, Not A Missile

Sung-Hee Choi, Artist and a member of the Korean Organizing Committee wrote to remind us of an important distinction. Sung-Hee wrote:

We all congratulate our friends in the Czech Republic for the government of the Czech being fallen largely due to the determined and persistent struggles of the people in the Czech against the US radar base, part of the US missile defense system.

US deploys warships as North Korea prepares to launch missile

The US has deployed two warships with anti-missile capabilities in the waters off Japan as tensions mount over North Korea's plans to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking Alaska.

Who's Calling the Shots Now: The Death of American Empire

By Dave Lindorff

It may not be obvious today, and certainly it’s not how the corporate media reported it, but future historians are likely to look back at March 13, 2009 as the day that American imperialism began it’s inexorable decline. That’s the day that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that his country was “worried” about its holdings of over $1 trillion in US treasury securities, and warned that he wanted the US to assure China that it would maintain its good credit and “honor its promises” and “maintain the safety of China’s assets.”

There is no way that the US can accommodate Premier Wen and still finance and operate a global military system with over 1000 overseas bases, massive aircraft carrier battle groups, and with hundreds of thousands of men and women armed to the teeth with the latest high-tech military hardware, not to mention fight endless wars on the far side of the globe.

China ‘Worried’ About Safety of U.S. Treasuries

China ‘Worried’ About Safety of U.S. Treasuries
By Bettina Wassener | NYTimes

Jobs, in particular, are a major concern for the Chinese authorities, who fear potential social unrest as millions of migrant workers’ jobs have fallen victim to the global slowdown. “We have reserved adequate ammunition,” Mr. Wen said, adding that China’s fiscal deficit is under control and the debt level still safe. “At any time, we can introduce new stimulus,” he said, quoted by Bloomberg News.

China, the world’s biggest holder of United States government debt, on Friday expressed concern about the safety of those assets as American deficits have ballooned with costly stimulus and bailout packages aimed at rescuing the economy..



World Against "Missile Defense"

Solidarity message from Japanese citizens
To friends in Europe who are against the Missile Defense system and the Space Shield

We are several citizen groups which are respectively committed in peaceful ways to movements of anti-MD system and anti-US Bases in Japan. We would like to convey, by this message, our solidarity with all who are against the deployment of the US MD system into the eastern Europe. We, who live with the various problems arising from many US bases occupying our homeland, always look enviously at the unified efforts in the anti-radar movement by citizens and the League of Mayors in Czech Republic. Your movement has encouraged us a lot and we thank you for that.

Japanese government introduced the MD system in Dec. 2003, and ever since, its deployment has been accelerated here along with the US’ deployment of its own MD system in Japan.

Letter to Obama from Japan

An Open Letter to U.S. President Barack Obama

The "Change" You Promised Should Include the Official
Dismantling of the Bush-Rumsfeld Neoconservative
Military Strategy

President Barack Obama The White House Washington D.C.

January 16, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

First, we would like to extend our congratulations on
your election as President of the United States of

The Bush administration, by conducting wars forbidden
under international law, and by taking other
unilateralist actions during its eight years in office,
has brought immense suffering to the people of the
world. We welcome your election as President, as you
clearly promised to change what had been done by your
predecessor and his administration. We believe that
your call for change won the hearts and minds of the
American people, particularly the young, inspired them
with hope, and rekindled idealism, undoubtedly a great

Open Letter to Barack Hussein Obama, President-elect of the United States of America

By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Former Prime Minister of Malaysia

Dear Mr. President,

I did not vote for you in the Presidential Election because I am Malaysian.

But I consider myself one of your constituents because what you do or say will affect me and my country as well.

I welcome your promise for change. Certainly your country, the United States of America needs a lot of changes.

That is because America and Americans have become the best hated people in the world. Even Europeans dislike your arrogance. Yet you were once admired and liked because you freed a lot of countries from conquest and subjugation.

It is the custom on New Year's day for people to make resolutions. You must have listed your good resolutions already. But may I politely suggest that you also resolve to do the following in pursuit of Change.

State Dept. Information Line for Mumbai Attacks: 1-888-407-4747; Mumbai Gunmen Kill 80, Western Hostages Taken

U.S. citizens concerned about the wellbeing of friends and family in India may call the following US State Dept. number for information: 1-888-407-4747


Mumbai Gunmen Kill 80, Western Hostages Taken |

Gunmen killed at least 80 people in a series of attacks in India's financial capital Mumbai and troops began moving into two five-star hotels on Thursday where Western hostages were being held, local television said.

Police said they had shot dead four gunmen and arrested nine suspects.

However, the chief minister of Maharashtra said the situation was not yet contained.

U.S. Delegation Attends Energy Summit

U.S. delegation attends Energy Summit |

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman will lead a delegation to Azerbaijan for the 2008 Energy Summit.

The summit is being hosted by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. The U.S. delegation will take part in bilateral meetings with foreign heads of state and government ministers, the U.S. Department of Energy announced.

Bodman said the U.S. discussion will focus on commitment to the development of the Southern Pipeline Corridor and to bringing Central Asian and Caspian oil and gas to global markets.

"The United States remains firmly committed to the development of independent, commercially viable energy supply routes enabling the transport of competitive energy resources from the Caspian region to meet the needs of markets east, west, north and south," Bodman said.

Not Waiting for Godot

Not Waiting For Godot
By Bruce K. Gagnon | Organizing Notes | More Photos

Some people are not waiting to see what Obama will do as president before acting. In South Korea activists are now meeting and publicly calling on president-elect Obama to end the dangerous and costly U.S.-South Korea (ROK) military alliance that is contributing to major tensions in the region.

The U.S. is currently doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region. New and expanded Pentagon bases are going into Guam, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. "Missile defense" is being peddled to Australia, Japan, and South Korea which is forcing China, who today only has 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S., to produce more for fear that a U.S. "first-strike" could knock out their nuclear capability. In fact the U.S. Space Command has been war gaming such a first-strike attack on China for the past several years!

If Obama wants to reduce global tensions he should begin negotiating a de-escalation of militarism in the Asian-Pacific region. If Obama wants money for health care, education, energy policy, and new jobs at home then he must stop expanding U.S. military bases in that region and throughout the world. More Photos

Mahatma Gandhi Inspires Obama

Mahatma Gandhi inspires Obama |

Washington: Barack Obama, who today scripted history by getting elected as the first black President of the United States, has always seen Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration who reminds him about the "real message of life".

Obama also flaunts his love to the apostle of peace by having a portrait of Mahatma at his Senate Office.

The Democrat, who favours US having close links with India, has told an Indian magazine that he was "fortunate" to have close Indian-American friends and recalled about the rural development work his mother did in the country.

Through the power of his example and his own unshakable spirit, Gandhi inspired a people to resist oppression, sparking a revolution that freed a nation from colonial rule, the Democratic Presidential-elect had said.

"Gandhi s significance is universal. Countless people around the world have been touched by his spirit and example. His victory in turn inspired a generation of young Americans to peacefully wipe out a system of overt oppression that had endured for a century.

A Bombing in Assam

A Bombing In Assam
By Gary Corseri

You are walking along the street one day,
chewing cinnamon gum,
and the world is full of cinnamon
when there's a fireball--
and a blast of gushing air and noise
like the Earth is cracking
and time has exploded. ...

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