Friday, October 30, 2009

Protecting little minds

We've also mentioned this fact, and Gareth Porter now reports on the seldom mentioned understory of the occupation and war in Afghanistan, the US and NATO all pay Afghan warlords for security.

This is at the same time that the US decries Karzai's alliance with warlords, consistency evidently being the hobgoblin of little minds that fail to see the big picture.

Little minds also fail to understand how the US can hope to build a national army in Afghanistan, when loyalty is more directly rewarded to powers outside the structure of the state:
In Uruzgan province, both US and Australian special forces have contracted a private army commanded by Colonel Matiullah Khan, called Kandak Amniante Uruzgan, with 2,000 armed men, to provide security services on which their bases there depend. That case was reported in detail in April 2008 by two reporters for The Australian, Mark Dodd and Jeremy Kelly.

Khan's security force protects NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoys on the main road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt, where more than 1,000 Australian troops are based at Camp Holland, according to the article.

Khan gets US$340,000 per month - nearly $4.1 million annually - for getting two convoys from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt safely each month. Khan, now police chief in Uruzgan province, evidently got his private army from his uncle, Jan Mohammad Khan, a commander who helped defeat the Taliban in Kandahar in 2001 and was then rewarded by President Karzai by being named governor of Uruzgan in 2002.
Of course, the MSM, led by the NYT and WaPo, obviously out of concern for these little mind that might risk exploding if confronted with these uncomfortable facts, fail to report them.

See what might happen!

Friday, October 23, 2009


If you're not, just watch this message from Sheila Bair of the FDIC, it's guaranteed to induce panic:

Right in time for Halloween!
(h/t zerohedge)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Karzai kaput?

M K Bhadrakumar points out that the fact that Karzai bowed to the pressure and accepted a run-off election might have pleased the US, but it might have irrevocably weakened him in the eyes of fellow Afghans. He puts it well:
In their triumphalism, however, the Western capitals haven't quite grasped that Afghans will not respect those incapable of giving steadfast friendship, either. Whether Karzai was efficient or corrupt is no more the issue. The issue is the Afghan perception that Westerners use their friends like condoms - to be discarded after use.

This will have implications for the much-touted "Afghanization" strategy. Surely, any "Afghanization" of the war in the Hindu Kush needed to be built around the phallic power of an alpha male - figuratively put, of course - and that has become impossible now. No matter who wins the November 7 runoff, he will carry the cross of being an American puppet, which undercuts the "Afghanization" strategy.

He goes on:
Arguably, the only feasible way of "Afghanization" was the route Karzai took - via coalitions with local commanders, warlords, mujahideen, tribal maliks (chiefs) and the mullahs. "Afghanization" depended on a key Pashtun figure with the capacity to network. Between Karzai and Abdullah, the choice is limited as that figure can only be Karzai.

The theatrics in Kabul over the weekend (which US President Barack Obama has, astonishingly, commended) underline that the US is actually not looking for a strong Afghan power structure. All the talk of the Afghan election being fraudulent and the United Nations-supported electoral watchdog ruled a new round is baloney. As the Pakistani author Tariq Ali wrote, "The Hindu Kush mountains must have resounded to the sound of Pashtun laughter."
So the US wants to Afghanize the war, but doesn't want anyone in charge that might have enough independence and strength to effectively govern. Contradictory goals will doom the doomed war all the quicker.

Wooly Bully

One consequence of Obama's decision to keep most of the Bushies in the Defense Department and the Pentagon, SecDef Gates, Mullins, Petraeus, and McChrystal is a continuation of the bullying pose that mainly worked to keep US allies in line.

A good example is Gates's recent trip to Japan, where its new government wants to renegotiate the US bases there. In a masterpiece of bullying obtuseness, led off by warnings of 'serious consequences', Gates basically dismissed our ally by saying any renegotiation would be "immensely complicated and counterproductive." He then proceeded to snub invitations to dine with Defense Ministry officials and a welcoming ceremony.

Will this bullying work with the 'new' Japan? So far, not so good. US Ambassador Morrell, proving that bullying extends to the State Department, demanded that Japan continue its refueling of US ships on the way to Pakistan and Iraq. The Japanese government has responded by saying the refueling will end when the agreement expires in January.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's strange

Sure is strange when its not strange at all that the SEC has named a 29 year old ex-VP of Goldman Sachs to be the COO of its enforcement division. So what else is new, the banksters are not only running the show, they've just given up any pretense that they're not.

The real difference between Obama and Bush is that the Bush/Cheney gang was more directly linked to the big energy companies than to the banksters. Obama is clearly just their (the banksters) marionette. As Spengler predicted:
But titanic, too, is the onslaught of money upon this intellectual force. Only high finance is wholly free, wholly intangible. Since 1789 the banks, and with them the bourses, have developed themselves on the credit-needs of an industry growing ever more enormous, as a power on their own account, and they will (as money wills in every Civilization) to be the only power. This battle is the despairing struggle of technical though to maintain its liberty against money-thought.
So, are we finally there, at the final dictature of money? Then what?
The dictature of money marches on, tending to its material peak, in the Faustian Civilization as in every other. And now something happens that is intelligible only to one who has penetrated to the essence of money. If it were anything tangible, then its existence would be forever - but, as it is a form of thought, it fades out as soon as it has thought its economic world to finality, and has no more material on which to feed.
Must be the season of the witch.
(h/t Greenwald)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spinning Peter

Following up on the last post here, the Peter Galbraith/Tawke oil field story has finally hit the MSM, in an article in the Boston Globe.

Certainly the headline writer puts a denial in the headline, "Former diplomat denies oil dealings influenced views", but the reporting gives some weight to concerns about his ethical position. The article tries to be clear that he is in no legal difficulty because he was a private citizen when the deal was struck.

With guys like Galbraith, of course, it is questionable if he is really ever a private citizen, such as you or I. Like all those in the revolving doorway of the Village, it's all very blurry, so fast do they spin through their various stages.

UPDATE: Foreign Policy blogs about the Globe article, and adds this tidbit at the end:
Many also see the revelations of Galbraith's involvement in DNO, which were detailed in a harsh manner on the Norwegian Web site, as part of a retribution campaign following Galbraith's public and scathing criticism of his former U.N. boss Kai Eide, the Norwegian diplomat who stands accused of helping to ignore massive election fraud in Afghanistan.
Do you think 'many' might be another term for friends of Peter Galbraith?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Run, Peter, run

More comedy gold.

Peter Galbraith, ex-UN diplomat in Kabul, scourge of the Afghani elections, fired by his superior for what appeared to be insubordination but held up as the Last Honest Man, seems to have some explaining to do and he seems to be in a rush not to explain:.

Peter Galbraith trying to escape from journalists in Bergen on 8 October after having been confronted with the Tawke revelations. Scan from Dagens Næringsliv, 10 October 2009

There goes Peter, hopping down the bunny trail, hippity-hoppity...

It seems that Galbraith, before his job in Kabul, worked in Iraqi Kurdistan where he was (along with Joe Biden) an enthusiastic supporter of Kurdish independence. What he didn't mention was that he had a five percent stake in the Norwegian oil company that was trying to make a deal directly with the Kurds, bypassing Baghdad.

Read the whole article, it's a definite eye-opener, and also the comments on it by the always excellent Helena Cobban, who gets my hat tip.

So far, this has been reported only in the Norwegian press, and the evil blogs. It will be interesting to watch its path in the world press. I'll be watching.

Friday, October 09, 2009

So unfair

Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama before giving it to George W. Bush is so unfair. George started the wars that Obama gets the prize for. Or does the prize committee know that Obama is going to bomb Iran?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

War without end

Two news items confirm, on the eighth anniversary of the Afghan war, that the occupation will continue indefinitely, i.e. forever, barring another, bigger and better war.

The first, that Obama has ruled out reducing troop levels, means that there can be no change in the 'goals' of the war, and thus no change in strategy. It means that the 40,000 plus escalation demanded requested by McChrystal will be approved, because as the war continues down the tubes, its failure would all fall on Obama. This way, the blame is shared.

The second, reported by Howie Klein (h/t Greenwald), is that the House democrats have passed a bill that will take defense spending off of PAYGO, the requirement that new budget increases must be funded by higher taxes or reduced spending elsewhere. Bush's technique was the supplemental bills for the wars that were off the budget. Obama promised to end that practice, but has now adopted a new technique that has exactly the same effect. Talk about change!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The "T" word

I find it remarkable and significant that two articles, one by Reuters in the NYT and one in the BBC, reporting the deaths of eight US soldiers in a single incident in Afghanistan, refrain from using the word "Taliban".

Both articles call the insurgents 'tribal militia'. Hmm..

Friday, October 02, 2009


Brought to you by your helpful Blog Simple:

Odierno: It isn't clear whether the United States will ever be able to declare victory in Iraq, the top U.S. commander there said Thursday.

Translation: It's clear the United States will never be able to withdraw from Iraq, the top U.S. commander there said Thursday.