Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’

Well, it’s official: according the MSNBC, all US forces will be out of Iraq by the time 2012 rolls around.

(from the BBC)

Under the deal, US troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns next year, leaving Iraq by the end of 2011.

The decision will need to go before Iraq’s parliament for a final vote.

America’s National Security Council welcomed the cabinet’s vote, saying it was “an important and positive step” towards stability and security.

The pact is necessary to determine the role of US military forces in Iraq after their UN mandate expires on 31 December 2008.

In October, Iraq sent a new round of suggested changes to the draft Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa), to which the US responded.

Washington had previously said the pact was “final” and could not be amended.

The UK government, which has 4,100 troops in Iraq, is waiting for the US-Iraqi pact to be approved so they can use it as a template for their own bi-lateral deal.

Well, we had to take out our troops sometime, and 2012 seems reasonable, though I’d prefer that we pulled them out earlier. Still, I think this gives the Iraqi government more than enough time to clean up its act and prepare its troops to actually defend against terrorism.

At the same time, I’m not so sure I like this, considering that we have been using Iraq as a launching pad for attacks against Syria, in addition to using our bases in Afghanistan to conduct strikes in Pakistan. Keeping troops in Iraq for any longer amount of time means that it’s possible that we can conduct cross-border strikes into Syria again, and possibly Iran.

There’s no question that we need our troops out, but it looks like Iraq is an eternal damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t situation. The truth is, we really don’t know what kind of hell we’ll unleash once all of our troops leave the country, and we won’t know for sure until January 1st, 2012.


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The BBC reports:

More than 20 people have been killed in two suspected US missile attacks in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, security officials said.

About 15, including an al-Qaeda leader, were killed in an attack near the village of Mirali, North Waziristan.

In a second attack, seven people were killed in South Waziristan.

The US military has not commented. It has launched many missile strikes from Afghanistan against suspected militant targets recently.

Officials named the al-Qaeda leader in Mirali as Abu Akash, believed to be Iraqi.

Local officials told the BBC that at 2030 (1430 GMT), a drone fired two missiles and destroyed the target – a house in the Esori area about 30km from the town of Mirali.

Are you kidding me? Refer to yesterday’s post. By conducting attacks on other nations’ soil, we are doing nothing but helping al-Qaeda & Co. with their recruiting. We are, in an attempt to destroy them, becoming like them, except with full-fledged state sponsorship and a professional military. These attacks are doing nothing but helping them justify their anti-Western ideology.

When will we learn?

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The BBC reports that in Damascus, a mass of thousands marched in protest of the American attack on a Syrian village on Sunday, which killed 8.

Many at the government-backed demonstration carried banners, shouted anti-US slogans and waved pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Riot police surrounded the US embassy in Damascus, which American officials closed blaming security fears.

The Syrian government has demanded that Washington apologise for the incident.

The US state department and the White House have refused to confirm the alleged attack.

Slogans

The protesters, including many civil servants and students, converged on the central Youssef al-Azmi square.

Closing the Damascus embassy on Thursday, American officials cited “violence and significant damage to US facilities and other embassies” in past demonstrations.

Officials warned US citizens to avoid the area and an American school was also shut temporarily.

Is it any wonder how terrorist organizations manage to recruit young men to do their bidding against the evil West and especially America, when we kill innocent people and don’t even admit our crimes? These people feel a need to fight back against the Americans, who, as far as they know, have only killed their innocent friends, family, and countrymen while clearly violating international laws. The only way they can even dream of taking the fight to a much stronger opponent (that would be us) is to use terrorism’s tactics (in this case) of IEDs and suicide bombings.

The reason? Simply because our army is far better in conventional warfare than they are; they would be much less successful than they are if they fought like an actual army. By employing terrorism, they gain a little advantage: they make sure they can kill some Americans before they die.

We talk about how these terrorists are killing in the name of God. For some, that may be true, but for most, I’d expect that they’re killing in the name of their loved ones that our soldiers took away from them.

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Within the past two months, we have launched two attacks to capture al-Qaeda leaders in other countries’ (that is, countries that aren’t named Iraq and Afghanistan) territory. Yes, I realize that we were potentially going after high value targets, but that doesn’t justify going into a sovereign nation’s territory and killing innocent civilians in order to track down a terrorist. Our government seems to forge that this is the real world, and that there are actual international laws to be complied with. To not do so, obviously, will have implications.

That is, if other countries, including our allies, are willing to call us out on it.

Here’s what I find most unsettling about our actions in the Middle East: Russia invades Georgia because of Georgia’s human rights abuses in Georgia’s own unethical invasion of their own territory (see here), and our leaders are up in arms, saying that Russia has no business invading a sovereign nation and we are all Georgians and all that other nonsense. (Let’s also note that Barack Obama jumped on that bandwagon as well, pandering to those whose primary source of news is cable television, which accounts for 70% of the population, if I were to estimate that figure.)

But we send troops into Pakistan and Syria to pursue our own agenda, capturing al-Qaeda members, without the consent of said countries. How is this not different than Russia’s “invasion of Georgia”, except on a much smaller scale? Violating a sovereign country’s territory is crime enough, no matter the size of the invasion.

Take this hypothetical, for example: suppose we received word that Russia launched a helicopter raid in the US, trying to track down a criminal ex-KGB officer, who killed innocent civilians, and so on. In the process of the raid, they killed a few innocent Americans. What’s more, the Russians failed to release an official statement regarding the attack, or its violation of the United States’s border security.

Would we not retaliate against the Russians, citing their unlawful “invasion”, even though the raid would only consist of a number of troops in the double digits (at most!)? Wouldn’t America be up in arms that Russia killed civilians? Wouldn’t we whine to our allies in the European Union and the UN that Russia broke international law? Of course we would. Now, when the Syrian foreign minister accuses us of using “criminal and terrorist aggression”, we know exactly where he’s coming from. If we were in his shoes, we’d think the same exact thing.

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I won’t waste any words with a loquacious beginning, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the Cold War, though we supposedly “won” it, has come back to bite us, to be cliché, almost 20 years since the collapse of the USSR.

To put it bluntly: our Cold War policies of trying to to prevent the spread of Communism are the real reasons for us being at war right now (or, at least, planted the seeds; I still hold the Administration wholly responsible for getting us into these wars) — we created our enemies with our foreign policy of interventionism for the sake of stopping the spread of Communism, or, as it’s euphemistically called, “spreading the ideals of liberty and freedom and democracy”.

I’ve been over this before; in a comment (responding to a conservative) on Will Rhodes’s blog, I said:

But all you do tell us how awesome it is for us to go into nations and bomb people into liking democracy and freedom at the point of a gun, saying how wonderful “liberty” is. Who are we to police the world? Shouldn’t we be keeping to ourselves and worrying about our problems here at home rather than going around liberating people from awful governments? I’m not saying I don’t empathize with those in Afghanistan under the Taliban or those in Iraq under Hussein, but I feel like it’s their issue, and not ours. Yes, you can talk about how this nation building bullshit is all about the “common good”, but, really, is it? How many people have lost their lives because of this war? If we really cared about our troops, wouldn’t we avoid altercation at any cost? I digress. The irony is my “liberal” point of view is actually more “conservative” than your own.

It’s funny how you mention the Taliban and Hussein’s regimes as the specific reasons for us going and creating freedom for the people. Want to know how they got into power? WE GAVE THEM MONEY AND GUNS. We created the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan, fighting a proxy war there, during the Cold War. We gave them money and guns, and after the Soviet Union collapsed, those with guns assumed power in Afghanistan. Thus, we gave birth to a regime that we had to come back and kill 15 or so years later because they were too oppressive. By “liberating” the people from one oppressor (the Soviets), we created another one.

The same goes for Iraq. Saddam was put in power because he was part of a CIA organized conspiracy to usurp the Iraqi monarchy. The Baath party, helped by the CIA, established a coup, and they took control of the government. The CIA endorsed the fighting within the Baath party after they assumed power, and Saddam and his “master” quickly assumed power. During the 1980 invasion of Iran, Saddam received arms and money from our government, IE the WMDs we tried to find but disappeared. WE were the ones who put Saddam in power, and he quickly became a dictator. It should be noted that Saddam, a Sunni, was put in power to establish a balance of power between Shia-dominated Iran; there were fears that, with a Shia government, Iran would swallow Iraq. The point is, we’ve tried to build nations before, and they’ve come back to bite us 10-20 years. If we didn’t try to build nations during the Cold War, we wouldn’t be in any war right now!

Yes, during the Cold War, we did, indeed, establish nations for the sake of combating Communism. Now, we’re just engaging in nation building for the sake of combating terrorism. The latter is no different than the former; we just slap a tag on whatever seems to be the “greatest threat of our time” and use it to justify interventionism in countries that don’t want our help. As I said above, what’s the point of nation building if the regimes we erect end up despising us? It’s just a bad investment, and something that we should try to avoid, but our leaders insist on trying to expand the American Empire for no reason other than to “combat Communism” or “combat terrorism”. As we’ve seen over the past 8 years, that is no way to run a stable nation, let alone an empire. And now the country, the empire, is crashing down, mired in debt, our military stretched too thin.

Bush and his cronies thought that they could make America the next Rome. They may not have succeeded, but they are making us collapse like Rome did.

After finally reading Orwell’s much celebrated dystopian story 1984, I put some pieces together and determined that Orwell’s version of the future was similar to ours in many aspects — which is ironic considering the Party shown in 1984 was communist and the Bush administration is anything but.

In 1984 (a take on the horrors of Stalinist Russia), the Party controls everything, especially the people who are in the party (everyone who is not a “prole”, or worker, is part of the Party). There are telescreens, or two way televisions, in every home, used to spy on the people. The leader, Big Brother, is made out to be a loving, God like figure, when really, he runs a police state. A man by the name of Goldstein is blamed for everything that goes wrong in Oceania (the country the story is set in), and is reportedly heading a conspiracy with the aim of bringing down the Party. The protagonist, Winston, a member of the party, has a job in which he edits historical documents and photgraphs so they meet the demands of the Party. The main practice to keep the Party in power is doublethink, or holding two contrary positions and accepting both as the truth. And, lastly, in 1984, there is what seems to be a never-ending war against a constantly changing opponent, in order to keep people producing goods to be used in said war. Sound familiar?

Here’s a comparison between the Party and our administration:

…the Party controls everything: The Bush administration, without doubt. When you’ve got cronies like Monica Goodling and Alberto Gonzalez hiring and dismissing people just because they weren’t republicans, you know that a Party’s got a grip on internal affairs, crushing outside voices. It’s well known that almost everyone in a position of power in the Bush administration is a devout neoconservative.

There are telescreens used to spy on the people: Well, we don’t have telescreens, but CCTV use in Britain is growing wildly popular, though, admittedly, the cameras don’t catch criminals nearly as effectively as the telescreens did in 1984. CCTV use is, however, a small but important step towards telescreen-like surveillance.

Big Brother: Admittedly, we don’t have an equivalent to Big Brother, in fact it’s startlingly the opposite of that kind of love because Bush is the most hated president since Nixon.

Goldstein blamed for everything: Osama Bin Laden is the definitive scapegoat for this administration, and by linking him with 9/11, he was the administration’s excuse to invade Afghanistan and take away our rights using the Patriot Act and illegal wiretapping by the NSA. Now, unlike Goldstein, Bin Laden’s ideals are somehow worse than the acts perpetuated by this administration.

Winston edits historical documents to serve the party line: How about the Bin Laden “confession tape” or the Habbush letter exposed in Ron Suskind’s book? This administration has been willing to fabricate documents or tapes (in this case) in order to start a war with the ever changing enemy. When we couldn’t find a good reason to invade Afghanistan, it was convenient that Bin Laden was there and an all too convenient coincidence that troops found the confession tape soon after we invaded. We couldn’t find WMDs in Iraq, so we fabricated a letter to say that there were weapons. We have tried to rewrite the past in an effort to control the future just like the Party in Orwell’s book.

Use of Doublethink, or holding two contradictory ideas as truth: This one is the most prevalent and scary out of the similarities. John McCain practiced doublethink when he said, “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations,” when he has repeated many times that he wants to invade Iran. Our president is guilty of doublethink as well: this week he said, “I don’t see America as having problems.” Oh really, Dubya? Let’s look at your State of the Union address from 2006…

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security — (applause) — yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

So, Mr. Bush, I assume that when you say America doesn’t have problems, you mean we’re not addicted to oil anymore and you’ve fixed social security right? There are other examples of doublethink as well: our National Security Agency violates the security of the American people, our Department of Defense attacks other nations, and the Department of Justice has had its fair share of corrupt officials (see lawyer firing scandal). This is not unlike 1984 in which the Ministry of Love tortures and kills, the Ministry of Peace fights wars, and the Ministry of Truth lies.

A never-ending war against a constantly changing opponent: This is the war on terror. In 1984, Oceania is always at war with one of two countries, Eurasia or Eastasia, and that constantly changes. Whoever Oceania is currently at war with, however, has always been the enemy according to the party, though they change who it is on a weekly basis. First, with our government, we thought the enemy was Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Then we invaded Afghanistan and switched our focus to getting rid of the oppressive Taliban regime. Once that was done, we pinned Iraq as the enemy, saying Saddam Hussein was ready to use his non-existent WMD’s on us. After toppling Hussein’s government, it occurred to us that there would be an insurgency, and Al Qaeda in Iraq joined the party. Well, now that we’ve lowered the violence in Iraq, the administration has painted Iran as the enemy, saying things like Ahmadinejad said that he would, “wipe Israel off the map.” NOT TRUE. And, in light of last week’s events, Russia’s being painted by the media as “big, bad Leroy Brown” again.

But, you ask, why make all the 1984 links? Why did the Party in 1984 do it?

The thing is that nobody knows, and we’re lucky that we can vote somebody different into office that won’t be as horrid as the Administration. However, O’Brien, a government agent in 1984, says power is not a means, but an end. So, are we just ruled by a bunch of power mongers?

EDIT: Turns out we are — except we, the people, in our fear of another attack, have given up our rights to people who’d exploit them in the name of security. Thus, part of the responsibility is laid on the people who kept Bush in office — the people who supported him. This doesn’t justify the Administration’s actions, but we forget we voted him in twice at times.

Check for the conclusion of the series: Part 5 – The Future tomorrow. Remember to bookmark on delicious, stumble, and digg this post using the buttons below.
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While the Iraq War is drawing to a close, due to the announcements this week of a planned withdrawal of troops, some people have gotten out their confetti and said, “THE WAR IS OVER!!!!!! WE’RE DONE FIGHTING!!!!”

They seem to forget we’ve got another, arguably bigger war going on right now: The War on Terror(ism). Well, friends, unfortunately, we’ll never be able to celebrate that war’s end, for The War on Terror(ism) is a perpetual war, that is, it won’t end. No matter who you vote for in November, we’re going to be in this one for a long time, and it has and will serve as the catalyst that will allow our leaders to strip us of our freedoms. 

Let’s go back to September 11, 2001 – the day that changed the makeup of U.S. foreign policy forever, to sound cliché. In an instant, this country suddenly turned incredibly “patriotic” and nationalistic — with their “God Bless America” bumper stickers and the like. People’s fear of another terror attack had many consequences, including the support of a war (Iraq) in a country that posed no threat to us, and the ability to swallow laws that encroached upon our freedoms.

Within a few days of the attacks on 9/11, the U.S. government and British intelligence found that Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were connected to the terrorist attacks. Bin Laden, on September 16, went on the Al Jazeera network and denied that he had any involvement in the attacks, saying:

I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons. I have been living in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders’ rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations.

Still, the Bush administration declared Osama the “prime suspect” for the attacks on the World Trade Center, citing evidence that Bin Laden had tried to attack the WTC before. The US started to plan for a preemptive attack in Afghanistan to usurp the oppressive Taliban regime and take out Bin Laden to suppress Al Qaeda’s activity, and gave the Taliban an ultimatum: turn over Bin Laden and all other terrorists or they’ll invade. The Taliban government declined, saying that they didn’t have any evidence in their possession that would indicate that Bin Laden was connected to the attacks. On September 21, 2001, a Taliban spokesman said:

Our position is that if America has evidence and proof, they should produce it. We are ready for the trial of Osama bin Laden in the light of the evidence.

Of course, our government refused to provide the Taliban with the evidence, and commenced with the plans to invade Afghanistan. Where were the American people during all of this? They were blinded by nationalism and rage, which made them see Bin Laden as the criminal, just because our government said so. If we were so sure that Bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, why not tell the Taliban why? We would’ve avoided the whole invasion to begin with. 

On October 7, 2001, the American/British coalition started bombing Afghanistan, and within 7 days, on October 14, the Taliban made an offer: if the Americans stopped bombing Afghanistan and presented evidence for Bin Laden’s guilt, then they’d hand Bin Laden over to a neutral country. Again, our government refused, with President Bush saying, “There’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.” Again, why would they pass up an opportunity to capture public enemy number one?

The most likely scenario is that the American government wanted to use Bin Laden as a false pretense to invade Afghanistan to usurp the oppressive and barbaric Taliban government. With bin Laden admitting that he was in Afghanistan on television, it was a perfect fit: they thought the American public would support a war as long as they were going after the person thought responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It was unlikely that the public would’ve supported a war on the Taliban just because they were oppressing their people; Americans were too worried about avenging the victims of the 9/11 attacks. With Bin Laden in Afghanistan, it killed two birds with one stone.

In November 2001, US forces reportedly “recovered” a tape of Bin Laden speaking with Khaled al-Harbi about the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that he has knowledge that the attacks were going to occur, and thus, proving that he was connected with the attacks. However, the “Bin Laden” in the video looked very different than the real Bin Laden, and the translation has been disputed, with a few Arabic professors saying that the translation does not match the spoken Arabic. The tape also has subpar audio quality, which makes the plausibility of the translation doubtful. However, the drastic change of appearance from “real” Bin Laden to the Bin Laden in the tape makes it likely that the tape was doctored in an effort to prove that Osama was indeed connected with the attacks. For one, the video Bin Laden has a much larger face and darker skin than Bin Laden does, and he wears a gold ring on his right hand, which had not been seen before, and, in addition, the FBI’s file on Bin Laden says that he is left-handed. These facts make it apparent that the tape was probably a fake.

 

Two Men Enter... One is a Poser.

Two Men Enter... One is a Poser.

 

This false “linking” of Bin Laden was the first time that our government used false pretenses to invade another country in the name of national security, taking advantage of the fear of the American people. It would not be the last time they took advantage of our fear.

Check back for Part Two tomorrow — The Stripping of Freedom.

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