zaterdag 15 mei 2010

No Caption Needed 3

May 10th, 2010

Bombs Away in Times Square and Afghanistan

Posted by Hariman in visualizing war

The bomb scare in Times Square the other day was a close call, otherwise known as dumb luck. And despite the embarrassment of the would-be bomber coming from Pakistan rather than Iraq or Afghanistan, one can assume that the scare only helped to continue the American war effort. Whatever happens in the US, the bombing is sure to continue over there. Rather than make light of the association between actual terrorism and US military campaigns, it might help to ask if coverage of the two might have more in common than has been noticed.

Times Square clean up crew

The New York Times slide show was labeled “Bomb Scare in Times Square,” and the caption for this photo said, “A crew cleaned up at the scene.” As if: I don’t see either a crew or Times Square, but rather a lone functionary in a back alley scene out of some sci-fi movie. Body Snatchers II, perhaps. In fact, the photo is a study in disconnects. Instead of the spectacle of Times Square, we see stacks of garbage, shipping flats, and other odds and ends. Instead of workers, there is one figure in an entry-level moon suit, and rather than cleaning up he seems to be merely rearranging the shards of glass with that ridiculously small broom. In place of terror and mobilization, there is this strangely esoteric ritual. Rather than war, there is a choreography of forensic sanitation (note his mask, gloves, and slippers). While some speak of the defense of civilization, this scene is vaguely surreal, and in lieu of the destructiveness of a powerful explosion, there is only broken glass on an empty street.

But there wasn’t a powerful explosion, so what’s the point? What I want to suggest is that the disruption produced by the non-explosion reveals some of the blindness that now regularly accompanies US attitudes toward war. The first problem is a failure to recognize the vast difference between the rhetoric of the war on terror and the banal realities of how it actually operates. Civilization comes down to picking up the garbage, and its defense usually depends more on a well-functioning civil society and basic police work than on the projection of military power across the globe.

A second problem is that we don’t see the either the bomb or the likely retaliation, but only a trace of destructiveness and an innocuous figure of state action. In this case, the lucky break of non-detonation excuses what is a regular practice of omission. Despite some outstanding documentation of the effects of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US public an never see more than a a small fraction of the destructiveness caused by American military bombing, and then only from a distance. (Assessments of total direct and indirect civilian deaths in Afghanistan due to US military action range from 8,768 to 28,360.) Let me be clear: powerful documentary photographs are published in a few outlets, but not enough and without the full reportage needed to really make a dent in public opinion.

And what documentation of military destructiveness is available is balanced by images such as this one:

Harrier jet Afghanistan

This image of a Marine Harrier jet would seem to be the opposite of the one above: a member of the ground crew has just finished fueling the sleek, powerful machine, which stands at ready on a clean runway against a backdrop of efficiently arrayed support buildings. This is a picture of preparedness, and of the awesome capability of the American military. There is nothing hapless about it, and we seem on the verge of action, not stuck in the dismal aftermath of having been attacked. That is the message, of course, and so the one image counters the other: they may have car bombs, but we have this. They may be able to pull off an attack, but there is no doubt that this machine is built for serious payback.

That said, I also think that the two images are both part of the same pattern of willful obliviousness. Look again at the second photo: once again, there is only the trace of the bomb’s destructiveness. (If you look carefully under the wings, you can see some of the weaponry.) Although now seeing what comes before an attack rather than what remains afterward, the attack itself is not to be seen. Even the style of the image, with its modernist aesthetic of sheer surfaces, clean lines, empty space, and other design features of modern technology admits of nothing messy, bloody, or deeply hurtful. There is no sense of how the bomb will disrupt Afghan society–or, for that matter, how the expense of maintaining the jet and all that goes with it is disrupting American society.

The authorities rightly whisked away the SUV that was supposed to detonate in Time Square, and surely this Harrier jet will have flown another mission since the photograph was taken. In each case the photographer has documented one scene in a global war that is all about bombing and being bombed. But in these photos, as with so many others, the bomb, one way or another, isn’t there. About that one might ironically remark, “bombs away”; or, perhaps, “out of sight is out of mind.”

Photographs by the New York Times and Tim Wimborne/Reuters.

Cross-posted at BAGnewsNotes.

The Empire 559

Profijt über alles. De Amerikaanse concerns en Hitler

Op 8 mei is het 65 jaar geleden dat de Tweede Wereldoorlog officieel werd

beëindigd in Europa. Het fascisme was verantwoordelijke voor miljoenen

oorlogsslachtoffers en voor de politiek van systematische uitroeiing van

joden, zigeuners, communisten. De oorlog tegen Japan moest nog blijven

voortduren om de nodige tijd te hebben de atoombom te kunnen testen in de

praktijk. De officiële geschiedschrijving geeft een enorm gewicht aan de

Amerikaanse invasie, en minimaliseert de rol van het Sovjet-leger.

Nazi-Duitsland krijgt wel een groot vijandbeeld aangemeten, maar was de

elite in de VS wel werkelijk zo anti-nazi?

Toen de geallieerde soldaten in Normandië 1944 aan land kwamen stelden ze

tot hun verbazing vast dat de veroverde Duitse voertuigen en pantsers

geproduceerd waren door Amerikaanse bedrijven zoals Ford en General Motors.

Kennelijk leverden Amerikaanse bedrijven het wapenarsenaal voor de nazi’s.

Groet jose

Oil 64

Via Paul:

May 12, 2010

Disaster unfolds slowly in the Gulf of Mexico

In the three weeks since the April 20th explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and the start of the subsequent massive (and ongoing) oil leak, many attempts have been made to contain and control the scale of the environmental disaster. Oil dispersants are being sprayed, containment booms erected, protective barriers built, controlled burns undertaken, and devices are being lowered to the sea floor to try and cap the leaks, with little success to date. While tracking the volume of the continued flow of oil is difficult, an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil (possibly much more) continues to pour into the gulf every day. While visible damage to shorelines has been minimal to date as the oil has spread slowly, the scene remains, in the words of President Obama, a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster." (40 photos total)

Iran 328

Who is bombing in Iraq?

Are the bombers Al-Qaeda, the CIA or Israel?

By Christopher King

14 May 2010

Christopher King argues that it is likely that the American CIA – or Israel acting on its behalf – is responsible for recent atrocities in Iraq, in order to extend and consolidate the occupation, just as it is probable that the Times Square bomber was, wittingly or otherwise, acting for the CIA or Israel, to justify the US military intervention in South Asia.

On 10 May there were more than two dozen bombings and shootings in Iraq that
killed at least 85 people and injured at least 300.These were coordinated attacks, clearly by the same organization.

The American response to this and other recent attacks is to delay plans for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Obama’s election promise was to withdraw troops from Iraq by May this year. Not only is that obviously not going to happen but we learned after his election that “withdrawal” meant leaving 50,000 troops as ‘trainers’ as well as 4,500 special forces and tens of thousands of para-military contractors.

Now, the US is reviewing even the slipped drawdown schedule out of concern for the security of the Iraqi people. Considering the million killed by the US and the four to five million refugees created by them I would not have thought that they would be bothered by fewer than one hundred dead in a little internal trouble. It might be said to be an improvement on US outcomes.

As these attacks are providing the US with an excuse for delaying even its token withdrawal however, we need to think about who is behind them.

"The US will never leave Iraq while there is oil in the ground... The US didn’t go there in the first place, nor build its fortresses, in order to leave."

I wrote on 20 April that the probability is that the United States Central Intelligence Agency is behind these attacks, using local groups. It’s dirty tricks of this sort that the CIA does and is well financed by the US government to do. The US will never leave Iraq while there is oil in the ground, as I said in April 2008. I’m amazed that the media and even the US anti-war brigade still have faith that leaving will happen. The US didn’t go there in the first place, nor build its fortresses, in order to leave. As it happens, however, the elections to keep their puppet in place did not go to plan.

This latest series of attacks on top of a long series of lesser but still deadly attacks is not the work of a small group. It’s a large, well disciplined, well financed group with substantial support.

The usual unnamed officials of unspecified nationality say that Al-Qaeda is doing the attacks. Well they would, wouldn’t they? Am I mistaken in recalling that General David Petraeus’s great success in Iraq was the elimination of Al-Qaeda? Or was that only while he was paying the Awakening Councils to go after them – if indeed Al-Qaeda was ever in Iraq at all. Since the Iraq invasion itself was based on a pack of lies there is no reason to believe anything that we are subsequently told about what is happening there or anywhere else where the US is involved.

Actually, even people on the ground in Iraq often don’t know who is doing what and allegiances are constantly changing. It’s suggested that Al-Qaeda doesn’t want the Americans to leave because the cost of the occupation is damaging America. There are also Iraqi groups who have done well out of the occupation and would like to see the Americans stay. Whether any of these groups would be capable of attacks on this scale, or would be willing to carry them out, is doubtful. I don’t buy Al-Qaeda. That’s the standard US scare story and it’s worn out, like the dozens of accusations that Iran was behind the Iraqi resistance and supplying arms and bomb technology without a scrap of evidence. All propaganda and rubbish – like Saddam’s nuclear programme, his weapons of mass destruction, his collaboration with Al-Qaeda, his mobile chemical laboratories. All now officially certified lies.

This is certain: the US invasion caused extraordinary devastation in Iraq and its continued presence is the problem for Iraqis. It’s most likely that because they have no intention of leaving, it’s the US itself that is behind the attacks. Or maybe the Israelis on their behalf, using locally organized groups.

"Yes, the Israelis are in Iraq and they have no love for Arabs. In 2005 they were reported to be training Kurds in northern Iraq... Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, who was blamed for the atrocities in Abu Ghraib prison, said that she was shocked to meet an Israeli interrogator in Iraq."

Yes, the Israelis are in Iraq and they have no love for Arabs. In 2005 they were reported to be training Kurds in northern Iraq, now a semi-autonomous region. Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, who was blamed for the atrocities in Abu Ghraib prison, said that she wasshocked to meet an Israeli interrogator in Iraq. There’s plenty of scope here for deniability on the part of both the US army and the CIA which sometimes gets asked questions. With the Israeli-US axis operating in Iraq anything is possible. The Israelis are beginning to pop up in trouble spots such as Georgia where they were “trainers” as well.

The Israelis, CIA, US and UK military all regularly assassinate suspected militants along with innocent men, women and children. They consider no-one to be innocent. Nor would false-flag provocations be beyond the US-Israeli axis. On 8 June 1967 the Israelis attempted to sink the USS Liberty in an attack that left 34 American sailors dead and 173 wounded. The American Department of Defence colluded with Israel. It recalled fighter aircraft that had been launched from a nearby carrier to give assistance and probably co-planned the incident. The crew was threatened and warned not to talk about the attack.

This was clearly a false flag attack that was bungled, the probable intention to blame the Syrians or Egyptians with willingness of the US to sacrifice its own ship and crew. For the story, visit the Liberty Veterans’ Association
website or read their report. The US-Israeli axis operates deeper than Americans or Europeans realize and we must be prepared to follow their thinking.

Why should we believe that the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was briefed by the Pakistani Taliban – even if he believes it himself? Did they show him their membership cards, perhaps? Perhaps his Pakistani handlers were Taliban-certified by someone of reliable reputation and good character? I prefer a group backed by the CIA which is now publicly known to be active in Pakistan and who would like to supply evidence of the Taliban’s wish to attack the US itself. It justifies their atrocities and keeps the war going.

Faisal Shahzad’s crude construct didn’t explode and it wasn’t going to. It wasn’t even a bomb – just some petrol cans, propane cylinders, fireworks and fertilizer of the wrong sort for bomb-making. A nuisance but harmless. He had never been trained by a real bomb-maker or if he was, the crude construct was intended to merely burn. Remember the USS Liberty when you read these accounts.

"We are getting a constant stream of conflicting messages from the Americans and our own war criminals whom they have suborned: they’re leaving Iraq and Afghanistan soon but at the same time are in it for the long haul of 10 years or so."

These people think that it’s clever to get others to do their dirty work for them or better still, to suborn nationals of their target countries. Empires are only possible if collaborators with the occupiers can be found – and it’s never difficult. The Palestinians have Mahmoud Abbas, Iran had the Shah, Afghanistan has Karzai, Iraq has Maliki, the UK had Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as the collaboration of most of the UK’s political class both in the US’s wars of aggression and its occupation of the UK with its bases. Our government has changed but as the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose (more change, more of the same thing).

We are getting a constant stream of conflicting messages from the Americans and our own war criminals whom they have suborned: they’re leaving Iraq and Afghanistan soon but at the same time are in it for the long haul of 10 years or so. The purpose of this apparent nonsense is to give everyone something that they can hear and believe in while shutting out what they don’t want to hear. These messages have collaborating psychologists’ fingerprints on them.

This is a critical time when we need men of honesty and goodwill who will act for the good of the UK and Europe. That means leaving the Middle East and detaching from America and its crimes. Some countries are finding out how leech-like this parasitic country holds on. The Japanese in Okinawa are finding that the US won’t remove its bases on request. Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have called for the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe. The US says that this is an issue for NATO to decide and an unnamed official
says: “Single countries shouldn’t be coming forward with decisions or unilateral reviews.” So there you have it.

With the
NATO First Act of the United States, getting the US, its bases and its nuclear weapons out of Europe will be found to be impossible when Europeans realize that it is necessary. This extraordinary Act has it thateither the US Congress or host countries can have US bases closed or redeploy nuclear weapons. Well, already it seems that individual countries can’t ask for nuclear weapons to be removed from their soil. Once on the statute books, it’s a small step to make either into both – and that seems to be the case already.

You might think that the present economic crisis and Middle Eastern war situation is bad. It’s actually much worse than that. Do you think that the US wouldn’t do in Europe what it’s doing in the Middle East? What it has done in Guantanamo? The crimes it has Europe’s politicians collaborating in? And who got the money from the worthless derivatives that our banks bought and European taxpayers are paying for? Europe’s politicians are either paralyzed in a state of wilful blindness and denial or they can view with equinamity the Wikileaks
Collateral Murder video and think that they and their families will be looked after no matter what the crimes – like Anthony Blair.

With America under economic and geopolitical pressures of its own making, the future for Europe is every bit as bad as it is for other countries that the US occupies. We should recall the crimes of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, among which was the torture and murder of about 7,000 persons in the Santiago Stadium in 1973, outlined in
this Washington Post obituary. What the newspaper neglects to mention is that the United States was Pinochet’s backer.

Christopher King is a retired consultant and lecturer in management and marketing. He lives in London, UK.

Israel als Schurkenstaat 140

Dit overzicht is niet beschikbaar. Klik hier om de post te bekijken.

Obama 167

Via Paul:

Obama op zoek naar 80 miljard dollar voor nieuwe kernwapens

Door P.uncia, Op vri 14 mei 2010 18:00, 338x bekeken, 2 reacties

Niet lang nadat de regering een wapenreductieverdrag met de Russische president Dmitri Medvedev heeft afgerond is president Obama nu op zoek naar 80 miljard dollar voor de financiering van nucleaire wapens.

Volgens de minister van Defensie, Robert Gates, zou het geld worden besteed aan "het herbouwen en het onderhouden van de verouderde Amerikaanse nucleaire wapenvoorraden”.

De VS heeft één van de twee grootste arsenalen op de planeet, ongeveer 5.113 kernkoppen, een overblijfsel uit de wapenwedloop met de voormalige Sovjet-Unie tijdens de Koude Oorlog.

Ondanks de publieke inspanningen van de overheid om zichzelf tot een verdediger van totale nucleaire ontwapening te verklaren, heeft president Obama geen geheim gemaakt van zijn ambities voor bijgewerkte nucleaire wapenvoorraden, zogenaamd voor "veiligheid" redenen.

Maar in werkelijkheid is een arsenaal dat het grootste deel van het leven op de planeet kan uitroeien nooit echt veilig, en vragen over de behandeling van het arsenaal door het leger zijn niets nieuws. Ook is het moeilijk te beargumenteren dat, na de Koude Oorlog, de VS alleen maar voor "afschrikking" werkelijk zo’n enorm arsenaal nodig heeft.

Toch is het verkopen van de noodzaak voor nieuwe nucleaire wapens door de regering waarschijnlijk relatief eenvoudig, vooral met de illusie dat Obama's "te goeder trouw" zijn over ontwapening nadrukkelijk op de achtergrond aanwezig is.

Door, Jason Ditz.

Syrie 2

Anoniem heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Israel als Schurkenstaat 139" achtergelaten:

Report: Russia signs arms deal with Syria
A Russian news agency quotes a senior Russian official as saying Syria will be supplied with warplanes, anti-tank weapons, and air defense systems.

While in Syria, Medvedev also paid a visit to Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply disappointed" that Medvedev met the leader of Hamas, which it said was "a terror organization in every way"

Lees verder Haaretz 14.5.2010


Anoniem heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Israel als Schurkenstaat 139" achtergelaten:
Russia defends Medvedev-Hamas talks

Medvedev met Meshaal, pictured, in Damascus following talks with the Syrian president [AFP]

Russia has rebuffed Israel's criticism of President Dmitry Medvedev's meeting with the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas.

Israel's foreign ministry said it was "deeply disappointed" that Medvedev had met Khaled Meshaal, the group's exiled leader, during a visit to Syria this week.

"Hamas is not an artificial structure," Andrei Nesterenko, the Russian foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement on Thursday.

"It is a movement that draws on the trust and sympathy of a large number of Palestinians. We have regular contacts with this movement.

Lees verder Al Jazeera




aan mij
details weergeven 00:28 (19 uren geleden)
Anoniem heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Israel als Schurkenstaat 139" achtergelaten:
Misguided in Moscow

Ahead of celebrations this week of the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazism, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in an interview with the newspaper Izvestia, attacked attempts by nostalgic fellow Russians to reassert the legacy of Stalin.

“The regime built in the Soviet Union can be called nothing other than totalitarian,” he said. “Unfortunately, it was a regime where elementary rights and freedoms were suppressed.”

Medvedev’s description of the Soviet era is accurate, indeed. Unfortunately, post-Soviet Russia has not fully internalized history’s lessons.

lees verder Jeruzalem Post


Obama 166

Kunt u nog herinneren hoe nog geen anderhalf jaar geleden de voltallige Nederlandse commerciele pers laaiend enthousiast was over de verkiezing van Obama? Welnu:

US actors, intellectuals protest Obama 'crimes'

NEW YORK — US actors and liberal intellectuals joined a list to be published Friday of nearly 2,000 people accusing President Barack Obama of allowing human rights violations and war crimes.

"Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them," the statement reads over pictures of Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush due to appear in the New York Review of Books.

The statement, published as a paid advertisement, accuses Obama, who was elected in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of US liberals, of continuing Bush's controversial approach to human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in domestic security.

It takes aim especially at Obama's decision -- reported by US officials -- to authorize the killing of a radical Islamic cleric and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who is accused of ties to Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

"In some respects this is worse than Bush," the statement says. "First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of 'terrorism,' merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly."

Among the signatories are linguist Noam Chomsky, "L.A. Confidential" actor James Cromwell, actor Mark Ruffalo and prominent Bush-era anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan. By midday Thursday there were 1,804 signatures.

They also lambast Obama for having refused "to prosecute any members of the Bush regime who are responsible for war crimes, including some who admitted to waterboarding and other forms of torture, thereby making their actions acceptable for him."

Paul heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Imperial Overstretch" achtergelaten:

Obama's politieke vrienden raken teleurgesteld

Het beleid tegen het terrorisme van de Amerikaanse president Barack Obama krijgt kritiek van zijn politieke vrienden. Door het doodvonnis uit te spreken over een Amerikaanse imam die nu in Jemen woont, zou hij de mensenrechten en de grondwet schenden.

Een manifest waarin Obama’s beleid ’erger dan dat van Bush’ wordt genoemd is gisteren gepubliceerd in de New York Review of Books. Ondertekenaars zijn intellectuelen als Noam Chomsky en bekende Amerikanen als acteur James Cromwell. Volgens hen verschilt Obama’s beleid op dit gebied niet van dat van Bush, maar gaf Bush er tenminste geen ruchtbaarheid aan.

''Tijdens een jaarlijks diner met de pers van Washington, waar de president altijd een grappige speech moet houden, zei hij de populaire rockgroep de Jonas Brothers gedag. Zijn dochters Sasha en Malia zijn daar enorme fans van, volgens Obama. „Maar haal je niks in je hoofd. Ik zeg maar twee woorden: Predator drones.”''

Oorlog is humor bij Obama....

The Empire 558

Via AdR:


Africa, new target of US imperialism

Rather to my very recently carried this piece from Zabalaza, South African "platformist"-anarchist journal with which I used to be in touch. Chagos is mentioned in passing but the whole article seems important enough to be placed here.

Michael Schmidt

Former colonial power, France, has maintained the largest foreign military presence in Africa since most countries attained sovereignty in the 1950s and 1960s. While France reduced its armed presence on the continent by two thirds at the end of the last century, it continues to intervene in a muscular and controversial fashion. For example, under a 1961 'mutual defence' pact, French forces were allowed to be permanently stationed in Ivory Coast and the 500-strong 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion is still based at Port Bouet next to the Abidjan airport.

When the civil war erupted in Ivory Coast in September 2002, France added a 'stabilisation force', now numbering some 4,000 under Operation Licorne, which was augmented in 2003 by 1,500 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 'peacekeepers' drawn from Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria. In January 2006, the United Nations extended the mandate of Operation Licorne until December 2006.

Piggybacking off the French military presence in Africa, however, are a series of new foreign military and policing initiatives by the United States and the European Union. It appears that the US has devised a new 'Monroe Doctrine' for Africa (the term has become a synonym for the doctrine of US interventions in what it saw as its Latin American 'back yard').

Under the George W. Bush regime's War on Terror doctrine, the US has designated a swathe of territory - curving across the globe from Colombia and Venezuela in South America, through Africa's Maghreb, Sahara and Sahel regions, and into the Middle East and Central Asia - as the 'arc of instability', where both real and supposed terrorists may find refuge and training.

In Africa, which falls under the US military's European Command (EUCOM), the US has struck agreements with France to share its military bases. For example, there is now a US marine corps base in Djibouti at the French base of Camp Lemonier. More than 1,800 marines are stationed there, allegedly for 'counter-terrorism' operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and East Africa, as well as for controlling the Red Sea shipping lanes.

But the US presence involves more than piggybacking off French bases. In 2003, US intelligence operatives began training spies for four unnamed North African countries. These are believed to be Morocco and Egypt and perhaps also Algeria and Tunisia.

It is also conducting training of the armed forces of countries such as Chad. In September 2005, Bush told the United Nations Security Council that the US would train 40,000 'African peace-keepers' to 'preserve justice and order in Africa', over the following five years. The US Embassy in Pretoria said, at the time, that the US had already trained 20,000 'peace-keepers' in 12 African countries in the use of 'non-lethal equipment'.

And now, while the US is downscaling and dismantling military bases in Germany and South Korea, it is relocating these military resources to Africa and the Middle East in order to 'combat terrorism' and 'protect oil resources'.

In Africa, new US bases are being built in Djibouti, Uganda, Senegal, and São Tomé & Prí ncipe. These 'jumping-off points' will station small, permanent forces, but with the ability to launch major regional military adventures, according to the US-based Associated Press. An existing US base at Entebbe in Uganda, under the one-party regime of US ally Yoweri Museveni, already 'covers' East Africa and the Great Lakes region. In Dakar, Senegal, the US is busy upgrading an airfield.


Governments with whom the US has concluded military pacts with include Gabon, Mauritania, Rwanda, Guinea and South Africa. The US also has a 'second Guantanamo' in the Indian Ocean, where alleged terror suspects who are kidnapped in Africa, the Middle East or Asia can be detained and interrogated without trial. This 'second Guantanamo' comprises of a detention camp, refueling point and bomber base situated on the British-colonised Chagos Archipelago island of Diego Garcia, an island from which the indigenous inhabitants were forcibly removed to Mauritius.

In South Africa's case, while it is unlikely that there will ever be US bases established - the strength of South Africa's own military, SANDF, makes this unnecessary - in 2005, the country quietly signed on to the US's Africa Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) programme, which is aimed at integrating African armed forces into US strategic (imperialist) objectives.

South Africa, by signing on to ACOTA as the 13th African member, effectively joined the American War on Terror. ACOTA started life as a 'humanitarian' programme run by EUCOM out of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1996. After the 9/11 attacks, however, the Pentagon reorganised ACOTA and gave it more teeth.

Today, ACOTA's makeup is more obviously aggressive than defensive. According to journalist Pierre Abromovici - writing, in the July 2004 edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, about rumours that South Africa was preparing to sign ACOTA a full year before it did so - 'ACOTA includes offensive training, particularly for regular infantry units and small units modelled on special forces... In Washington, the talk is no longer of non-lethal weapons... the emphasis is on "offensive" co-operation'.

The real nature of ACOTA is perhaps indicated by the career of the man heading it up, Colonel Nestor Pino-Marina. He is, according to Abromovici, 'a Cuban exile who took part in the 1961 failed US landing in the Bay of Pigs... He is also a former special forces officer who served in Vietnam and Laos. During the Reagan era he belonged to the Inter-American Defence Board, and, in the 1960s, he took part in clandestine operations against the Sandanistas. He was accused of involvement in drug-trafficking to fund arms sent to Central America' to prop up pro-Washington right-wing dictatorships.

Clearly, Pino-Marina is a fervent 'anti-communist' - whether that means opposing rebellious states or popular insurrections. He also sits on the executive of a strange outfit within the US military called the Cuban-American Military council, which aims at installing itself as the government of Cuba should the US ever achieve a forcible 'regime-change' there.

The career of the US ambassador, Jendayi Fraser, who concluded the ACOTA pact with South Africa is also an indicator of US intentions. Fraser, Bush's senior advisor on Africa, had no diplomatic experience. Instead, she once served as a politico-military planner with the joint chiefs of staff in the Department of Defence and as senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council. According to Fraser's online biography, she 'worked on African security issues with the State Department's international military education training programmes'.


The programmes that Fraser mentions include the 'Next Generation of African Military Leaders' course run by the shady African Centre for Strategic Studies based in Washington, which has 'chapters' in various African countries including South Africa. The Centre appears to be a sort of 'School of the Africas' similar to the infamous 'School of the Americas' based at Fort Benning in Georgia. In 2001, it was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

Founded in 1946 in Panama, the School of the Americas has trained some 60,000 Latin American soldiers, including notorious neo-Nazi Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer, infamous Panamanian dictator and drug czar Manuel Noriega, Argentine dictators Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola whose regime murdered 30,000 people between 1976 and 1983, numerous death-squad killers, and Efrain Vasquez and Ramirez Poveda who staged a failed US-backed coup in Venezuela in 2002.

Over the decades, graduates of the School have murdered and tortured hundreds of thousands of people across Latin America, specifically targeting trade union leaders, grassroots activists, students, guerrilla units, and political opponents. The murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero of Nicaragua, in 1980, and the 'El Mozote' massacre of 767 villagers in El Salvador, in 1981, were committed by graduates of the School. And yet the School of the Americas Watch, an organisation trying to shut WHINSEC down, is on an FBI 'anti-terrorism' watch-list.

So Africa should be concerned if the African Centre for Strategic Studies has similar objectives, even if the School of the Americas Watch cannot confirm these fears? There is more: we've all heard of the 'Standby Force' being devised by the African Union (AU), a coalition of Africa's authoritarian neo-liberal regimes. But the AU has also set up, under the patronage of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe - which also covers North America, Russia and Central Asia - the African Centre for the Study and Research of Terrorism.

The Centre is based in Algiers in Algeria, at the heart of a murderous regime that has itself 'made disappear' some 3,000 people between 1992 and 2003 (according to Amnesty International this is equivalent to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, but it is a fact ignored by the African left). The Centre's director, Abdelhamid Boubazine told me that it would not only be a think-tank and trainer of 'anti-terrorism' judges, but that it would also have teeth and would provide training in 'specific armed intervention' to support the continent's regimes.

Anneli Botha, the senior researcher on terrorism at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, said though, that only ten per cent of terrorist attacks in Africa were on armed forces, and only six per cent were on state figures and institutions, though the latter were 'focused'. She warned that a major cause of African terrorism was 'a growing void between government and security forces on the one hand, and local communities on the other'. Caught in the grip of misery and poverty, many people are recruited into rebel armies even though few of these offer any sort of real solution.

The Centre in Algiers operates under the AU's 'Algiers Convention on Terrorism', which is notoriously vague on the definition of terrorism. This opens the door for a wide range of non-governmental, protest, grassroots, civic, and militant organisations to be targeted for elimination by the new counter-terrorism forces. It would be naïve to think that bourgeois democracy - which passed South Africa's equally vaguely-defined Protection of Constitutional Democracy from Terrorism and Other Related Activities Act into law last year - will protect the working class, peasantry and poor from state terrorism.

- Michael Schmidt is a Johannesburg-based journalist and political activist. This article was first published in three years ago in 'Zabalaza: a Journal of Southern African Revolutionary Anarchism', No. 8, November 2006. Zabalaza is the English-language sister journal of the French-language Afrique Sans Châines.

vrijdag 14 mei 2010

Imperial Overstretch 2

I think the Roman empire was simply too large to be governed effectively, to be administered and to create any kind of real sense of community.

Ik wil even terug komen op het volgende dat ik gisteren schreef:

'Ik kijk op dit moment naar een serie van History Planet getiteld Engeneering an Empire. In aflevering 5 over Rome wordt het volgende verteld over de hegemonistische drijfveer van de Romeinen ten tijde van keizer Trajanus:

They were driven by a kind of collective cultural ego. Trajan launched a massive building campaign that began with the empires infrastructure. He made urgently needed rapairs on roads, harbours and public buildings. He commissioned one of the last great aquaducts and built new public baths on the crumbling foundations of Nero's golden house. All this building demanded a tremendous amount of money and in order to really complete and fullfill his own kind of plans he was going to have to come up wth a great deal more of it. And in Roman times this means conquest.

Maar niet alleen ten tijde van de Romeinen gold dat een imperium grootschalige projecten moet laten financieren door veroveringen. Ook nu geldt dat het Amerikaanse imperium alleen overeind kan blijven wanneer het zijn wingewesten de kosten laat betalen.'

Tegen het eind van de aflevering verklaart Carlos Norena, die op Berkeley Romeinse geschiedenis doceert over de val van het rijk:

I think the Roman empire was simply too large to be governed effectively, to be administered and to create any kind of real sense of community.

Ik denk dat hij gelijk heeft. Het is precies dat waarmee de VS nu geconfronteerd wordt en waarom het rijk langzaam maar zeker afbrokkelt. Bij gebrek aan een eigen visie en aan intelligente politici dreigt Europa in deze val te worden meegesleurd.