Libya has been off radar here for a week or more. Meanwhile it appears that our "humanitarian intervention" has morphed quite quickly into a stated goal of regime change.
In August of 2008 the National Intelligence Council, the US intelligence community's focal point for estimating future developments, warned the George W. Bush administration that military operations in Pakistan would further destabilize the country and further enrage the people of Pakistan.
The NIC warning has gone unheeded. US military activities in Pakistan have increased under the current administration, perhaps most notably in the form of drone strikes, which the Pakistanis say have killed mostly civilians.
A 2010 Pew Research Center survey confirms that 84% of the people of Pakistan are dissatisfied with their country's direction. Pakistan ranks second only to Lebanon in their level of dissatisfaction.
This brings us to the case of Raymond A. Davis. Who is he and what was he doing in Pakistan?
The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with pinpoint accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity. On Feb. 4, there were massive demonstrations, especially in Lahore, demanding that Davis be held for trial, an indication of the level of public anger at talk of granting him immunity.
Australian David Hicks, a Muslim convert, was picked up at a taxi stand in Afghanistan by US allies, the Northern Alliance, in late 2001. He was sold to US forces for about $1,500. Hicks was the second person processed into Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, the day the facility opened.
He was released in 2007. Hicks has written a book titled "Guantanamo: My Journey." This book is not available in the US however it appears that a Kindle version is available from Amazon. It is also interesting to note the reviews and review ratings shown on Amazon's website. Here is a portion of one review which rated the Kindle edition at 4 stars out of maximum possible of 5. The reviewer is rabbitt49.
Unlike other reviewers I have read the book! If you can believe David Hicks (and I would believe him before I believe the lies of goverments and military, both Australian and American) then the entire Guantanamo experience should be brought forth as the war crime that it was. He was sold out for a few hundred dollars to the invading U.S. forces. They then turned him into an 'american killing rambo' in the media and threw him in the cage at Guantanamo base with a few hundred other people, many under the same circumstances.
Three other raters gave it a 1 star rating. One of those who gave it one star wrote: "Warped and dreamy one sided account counter to truth and reality."
There is one 5 star rating in which the rater remarks that it is a "...thought provoking book that shows the depths America and its allies have sunk to in the name of the so called war on terror."
Late last year in in front of army cadets at West Point President Obama announced to Americans in a nationally televised address that he had ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in support of our "vital national interests" (not further defined). He also promised to commence a draw-down of US forces beginning July 2011. The president told the cadets that the mission "is clearly defined and worthy of your service".
The recent NATO conference in Lisbon has made official the rumors which have persisted for weeks, that we would not begin leaving until the end of 2014 and that was dependent upon conditions on the ground. Furthermore that our leaving would be "conditions based rather than calendar driven".
Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's deputy prime minister, recognized worldwide as the international spokesman for Saddam, has been sentenced to death by hanging by the Supreme Court in Baghdad. Four other former members of Saddam's regime also received death sentences.
Aziz is a member of Iraq's Christian minority. He was the only one in the former Sunni and secular Ba'athist inner circle. Aziz suffered a stroke in January. He is 74 years old and has been serving time in jail for other crimes but had not been sentenced to death. Family members say that he had predicted he would die in jail.
He became well known during the first Gulf War and often appeared in the news speaking perfect English and defending the Iraqi Government's military action against Kuwait.
Winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan? Not so much, certainly not in Kandahar Province. Elsewhere?
Reconciliation is a popular concept in Kandahar Province. There is almost universal agreement that negotiation with the Taliban is preferable to continued fighting.
The desire for reconciliation is likely driven by the perception that the Taliban are part of Afghan society; a significant majority of respondents view the Taliban as "our Afghan brothers".
According to the top U.S. Intel Officer, Major General Michael Flynn, the Afghan insurgency can sustain itself indefinitely and they have the required partnerships to sustain support, fuel legitimacy and bolster capacity. See Flynn's Power Point Presentation here from December 2009.
We've seen diaries and read comments about the parallels between the war in Afghanistan and our war in Viet Nam. Analysts and journalists have written about it. There are many similarities and there are also significant differences. Now, after years of US and NATO involvement, few in our media bother to discuss this topic.
Taking exception to this current lack of comparison is one very detailed, well researched and written article. It appeared in Military Review, the November-December 2009 issue. It is authored by Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason. The title of their article is Refighting the Last War - Afghanistan and the Vietnam Template.
For eight years, the United States has engaged in an almost exact political and military reenactment of the Vietnam War, and the lack of self-awareness of the repetition of events 50 years ago is deeply disturbing.
For some of us who participated in the earlier fiasco this sense of deja-vu is very troublesome. Thus this diary.
This would not normally qualify as a diary, however I think it is important enough to post as one since it appears to be getting no attention in the open thread.
As per Wikipedia, The National Intelligence Council, the NIC, is the center for midterm and long-term strategic thinking within the United States Intelligence Community. The NIC is the body that is charged by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with synthesizing the analyzes of the entire U.S. intelligence community and producing National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). Their latest report, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, from November of 2008, is available online and may be downloaded in PDF format.
Among the future certainties they note the following:
A global multipolar system is emerging with the rise of China, India, and others. The relative power of nonstate actors—businesses, tribes, religious organizations, and even criminal networks—also will increase.
The unprecedented shift in relative wealth and economic power roughly
from West to East now under way will continue.
The United States will remain the single most powerful country but will be less dominant.
As early as 1965, then Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara had doubts about the ability of the US to "win" the war in Viet Nam. A summary of his evaluation as reported in a memo to President Johnson stated:
We should be aware that deployments of the kind I have recommended will not guarantee success. US killed-in-action can be expected to reach 1000 a month, and the odds are even that we will be faced in early 1967 with a "no-decision" at an even higher level...
In January of 1966 in a memo prepared by Secretary McNaughton (assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs), he noted as a warning in the opening paragraph - "We have in Vietnam the ingredients of an enormous miscalculation..." further on he noted that "the reasons we went into Vietnam are varied but they are largely academic. Why we have not withdrawn from Vietnam is, by all odds, one reason - (to avoid humiliation).
"...The ARVN is tired, passive and accomodation-prone...the PAVN/VC are effectively matching our deployments...Pacification is stalled despite effort and hopes."
Presidential Findings are used to authorize the CIA to undertake covert operations and must be approved by the President. Contrary to what some people might believe, the CIA does not undertake such missions without proper authorization. Under the law, the CIA must have an official presidential finding to carry out covert actions. The CIA may mount covert "collection" operations without a presidential finding.
Such "Presidential Findings" are kept secret but reported to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other key congressional leaders. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991, requires that Presidential Findings be reported to the intelligence committees as soon as possible after being approved and before the initiation of the covert action authorized by the finding.
In May of 2007 President George W. Bush issued a Presidential Finding authorizing covert "black" operations aimed at destabilizing the Iranian government. The sources (current and former officials in the intelligence community) say that the CIA developed the covert plan over the previous year and received approval from White House officials and other officials in the intelligence community.
A few days ago I happened on to a somewhat obscure, 8 minute video from BBC.
I see no way to embed the video but I would urge readers to watch it in order to have a better understanding of what our military is faced with in dealing with the rural population of Afghanistan. The video is from 2008 however it provides relevant insight to the situation on the ground then and now.
John D McHugh reports for BBC and brings us this video of Charlie Company of the 173rd Airborne. Members of Charlie Company attempt to get information about the Taleban from a Pashtun village elder.
As the article headlines point out "the gulf is so great even the interpreters have given up interpreting." The interpreter would ask the elder a question and the Pashtun elder's response would be unrelated to the question.
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