Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yemen Next


By PATRICK COCKBURN
Yemen is the Afghanistan of the Arab world. It is the poorest Arab country, its government is weak, its people are armed, it already faces a serious rebellion, it is strongly tribal and its mountain ranges are a natural refuge for groups like al-Qa'ida.
There is nothing new about the growing political, social and economic crisis in Yemen, but the world is waking up to it only since the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound plane has been linked to al-Qa'ida in Yemen. Last night the regional wing of the group claimed responsibility for training and arming Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with the Christmas Day bomb.
Yemen has been becoming increasingly unstable over the past two decades, ever since Saudi Arabia expelled a million Yemeni workers because Yemen refused to support the US-led war to expel Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait in 1990.
Osama bin Laden's family comes in part from Yemen. Yemenis played a role in the formation of al-Qa'ida. A significant number of the suicide bombers in Iraq come from there. It has been a convenient bolt-hole for Saudi militants under pressure at home to escape to.
The would-be Christmas Day bomber's personal connection to Yemen will be probed over coming days. But it is clear that al-Qa'ida in Yemen has become stronger and is operating in a sympathetic environment – in a country in which the mass of the population strongly opposes the US invasion of Iraq and intervention in Afghanistan.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soldiers Forced to Go AWOL for PTSD Care

Dahr Jamail

MARFA, Texas, Dec 11 (IPS) - With a military health care system over-stretched by two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more soldiers are deciding to go absent without leave (AWOL) in order to find treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Eric Jasinski enlisted in the military in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in October 2006 as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army. He collected intelligence in order to put together strike packets - where air strikes would take place.

Upon his return to the U.S. after his tour, Jasinski was suffering from severe PTSD from what he did and saw in Iraq, remorse and guilt for the work he did that he knows contributed to the loss of life in Iraq.

"What I saw and what I did in Iraq caused my PTSD," Jasinski, 23-years-old, told IPS during a phone interview, "Also, I went through a divorce - she left right before I deployed - and my grandmother passed away when I was over there, so it was all super rough on me."

In addition, he lost a friend in Iraq, and another of his friends lost his leg due to a roadside bomb attack.

Upon returning home in December 2007, Jasinski tried to get treatment via the military. He was self-medicating by drinking heavily, and an over- burdened military mental health counsellor sent him to see a civilian doctor, who diagnosed him with severe PTSD.

"I went to get help, but I had an 8 hour wait to see one of five doctors. But after several attempts, finally I got a periodic check up and I told that counsellor what was happening, and he said they’d help me… but I ended up getting a letter that instructed me to go see a civilian doctor, and she diagnosed me with PTSD," Jasinski explained, "Then, I was taking the medications and they were helping, because I thought I was to get out of the Army in February 2009 when my contract expired."

As the date approached, a problem arose.

"In late 2008 they stop-lossed me, and that pushed me over the edge," Jasinski told IPS, "They were going to send me back to Iraq the next month."

During his pre-deployment processessing "they gave me a 90-day supply of meds to get me over to Iraq, and I saw a counsellor during that period, and I told him "I don’t know what I’m going to do if I go back to Iraq."

"He asked if I was suicidal," Jasinski explained, "and I said not right now, I’m not planning on going home and blowing my brains out. He said, ‘well, you’re good to go then.’ And he sent me on my way. I knew at that moment, when they finalised my paperwork for Iraq, that there was no way I could go back with my untreated PTSD. I needed more help."

Why Do Airstrikes in Afghanistan Keep Killing Exactly 30 People?


By Megan Carpentier, Air America
Posted on December 11, 2009, Printed on May 24, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/144509/
This first appeared on Air America Radio.
On Monday, the anonymous blogger Security Crank noticed something interesting: all the U.S. and NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan seemingly kill exactly 30 people every time. How can that be?
Security Crank documented no less than 12 occasions in which news reports, relying on field commanders' estimates, noted that exactly 30 suspected Taliban were killed in airstrikes and, occasionally, artillery attacks. He said:
But the much more important point remains: how could we possibly have any idea how the war is going, here or anywhere else, when the bad guys seem only to die in groups of 30? The sheer ubiquity of that number in fatality and casualty counts is astounding, to the point where I don’t even pay attention to a story anymore when they use that magic number 30. It is an indicator either of ignorance or deliberate spin… but no matter the case, whenever you see the number 30 used in reference to the Taliban, you should probably close the tab and move onto something else, because you just won’t get a good sense of what happened there.
So, why is it always 30? Do thirty casualties seem like enough to justify a military attack, or few enough to not attract too much attention to an incident?

Friday, December 4, 2009

C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan



WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago in Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency sharpshooters killed eight people suspected of being militants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and wounded two others in a compound that was said to be used for terrorist training.
Then, the job in North Waziristan done, the C.I.A. officers could head home from the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters, facing only the hazards of the area’s famously snarled suburban traffic.
It was only the latest strike by the agency’s covert program to kill operatives of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies using Hellfire missiles fired from Predator aircraft controlled from half a world away.
The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time — a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas — because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Afghanistan: The Betrayal

by Garry Wills

I did not think he would lose me so soon-sooner than Bill Clinton did. Like many people, I was deeply invested in the success of our first African-American president. I had written op-ed pieces and articles to support him in The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. My wife and I had maxed out in donations for him. Our children had been ardent for his cause.

Others I respect have given up on him before now. I can see why. His backtracking on the treatment of torture (and photographs of torture), his hesitations to give up on rendition, on detentions, on military commissions, and on signing statements, aredisheartening continuations of George W. Bush's heritage. But I kept hoping that he was using these concessions to buy leeway for his most important position, for the ground on which his presidential bid was predicated.

There was only one thing that brought him to the attention of the nation as a future president. It was opposition to the Iraq war. None of his serious rivals for the Democratic nomination had that credential-not Hillary Clinton, not Joseph Biden, not John Edwards. It set him apart. He put in clarion terms the truth about that war-that it was a dumb war, that it went after an enemy where he was not hiding, that it had no indigenous base of support, that it had no sensible goal and no foreseeable cutoff point.

He said that he would not oppose war in general, but dumb wars. On that basis, we went for him. And now he betrays us. Although he talked of a larger commitment to Afghanistan during his campaign, he has now officially adopted his very own war, one with all the disqualifications that he attacked in the Iraq engagement. This war too is a dumb one. It has even less indigenous props than Iraq did.

Iraq at least had a functioning government (though a tyrannical one). The Afghanistan government that replaced the Taliban is not only corrupt but ineffectual. The country is riven by tribal war, Islamic militancy, and warlordism, and fueled by a drug economy -interrupting the drug industry will destabilize what order there is and increase hostility to us.

We have been in Afghanistan for eight years, earning hatred as occupiers, and after this record for longevity in American wars we will be there for still more years earning even more hatred. It gives us not another Iraq but another Vietnam, with wobbly rulers and an alien culture.

Although Obama says he plans to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011, he will meanwhile be sending there not only soldiers but the contract employees that cling about us now like camp followers, corrupt adjuncts in perpetuity. Obama did not mention these plagues that now equal the number of military personnel we dispatch. We are sending off thousands of people to take and give bribes to drug dealers in Afghanistan.

If we had wanted Bush's wars, and contractors, and corruption, we could have voted for John McCain. At least we would have seen our foe facing us, not felt him at our back, as now we do. The Republicans are given a great boon by this new war. They can use its cost to say that domestic needs are too expensive to be met-health care, education, infrastructure. They can say that military recruitments from the poor make job creation unnecessary. They can call it Obama's war when it is really theirs. They can attack it and support it at the same time, with equal advantage.

I cannot vote for any Republican. But Obama will not get another penny from me, or another word of praise, after this betrayal. And in all this I know that my disappointment does not matter. What really matters are the lives of the young men and women he is sending off to senseless deaths.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama Steals Bush’s Speechwriters


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

U.S. won't join landmine ban, administration decides

Washington (CNN) -- The United States won't join its NATO allies and many other countries in formally banning landmines, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said during his midday briefing Tuesday.

"This administration undertook a policy review and we decided our landmine policy remains in effect," Kelly said in response to a question. "We made our policy review and we determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention."

Opponents of the U.S. landmine policy said they were surprised.

"It is a disturbing development," said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch. "The administration never said a policy review was under way."

Goose said the decision to leave the policy in place is at odds with the administration's professed commitments to international agreements and humanitarian issues.

"The international treaty against landmines has made a a huge difference and it is a very strong deterrent," Goose said. "It has to have been a very fast and cursory review."

The United States will attend an international conference on landmines next week in Cartagena, Colombia, sending an inter-agency delegation from the State and Defense departments as observers.

Kelly said the United States continues to work with governments as well as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help remove landmines.

"The U.S. is proud to be the world's single largest supporter of humanitarian mine action," Kelly said. "Since 1993 the U.S. has provided more than $1.5 billion worldwide dedicated to building new partnerships with more than 50 post-conflict countries and supporting efforts by dozens of NGOs to promote stability and set the stage for recovery and development through mine clearance and conventional-weapons destruction programs."

The United States is the only member of NATO that will not sign the landmine treaty, Goose said. Russia and China also have not joined the 156 nations that have endorsed the ban, he said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lowering the Bar: Kindergarten Recruitment



by: Jon Letman, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

How old is old enough for students to be approached by military recruiters?
High school? Junior high? Fourth grade? How about ten weeks into kindergarten?
Last week at the dinner table, my five-year-old son announced blithely, "Soldiers came to school today." He then added, "They only kill bad people. They don't kill good people."

He made the announcement with the same levity he uses in recalling the plot line of Frog and Toad or a Nemo video.
My wife and I looked at each other incredulously.
"Soldiers came to school? What do you mean?" I asked.
He repeated himself and then I remembered - it was "Career Day" at school. My son mentioned a bus driver too, but it was the soldier who stuck out in his mind. When my wife asked if the soldier was cool, he nodded yes.
The soldier had given my five-year-old a gift. From his yellow backpack, he produced a six-inch, white, plastic ruler with big, bold, red letters reading "ARMY NATIONAL GUARD" next to a waving American flag and below that www.1-800-GO-GUARD.com.
So, now we know the answer to the above question.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died



WASHINGTON — Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.
Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater’s president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Iraq oil prize for Exxon, Shell

Martin Chulov, Baghdad
November 7, 2009 - 12:05AM
AMERICAN energy giant ExxonMobil and Europe-based Shell have won the right to develop one of the world's most prized untapped oil reserves.
The $US50 billion ($A55 billion) deal will place them among the largest players in postwar Iraq.
The energy companies were awarded the contract to extract oil from the West Qurna reservoir near Basra in Iraq's south in an extended tender process that has seen the Iraqi Government partner foreign companies in a bid to get its reserves of oil out of the ground as quickly and cheaply as possible. West Qurna was considered the jewel among the nine Iraqi oil and gas fields up for grabs, with verified reserves of 15 billion barrels and a strong chance that exploration will reveal significantly more.
Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani said the contract stipulated a $US25 billion investment and $US25 billion more in operating fees. It is expected to yield up to 100,000 jobs in the impoverished deep south of the country that has been heavily blighted by insurgency in the past five years.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The antiwar movement retreats

Many in the antiwar movement ardently opposed the war in Iraq while remaining silent about an equally immoral war in Afghanistan.
EIGHT YEARS into the war on Afghanistan--and with no end in sight--seems a peculiar time for antiwar activists to claim that U.S. forces need to stay there even longer for the sake of the Afghan people.
Yet Yifat Susskind, communications director for the human rights organization MADRE, recently argued on CommonDreams.org, "'Bring the Troops Home' is a bumper sticker, not a policy." She continued, "For MADRE, U.S. obligations stem from the fact that Afghanistan's poverty, violence against women and political corruption are, in part, results of U.S. policy over the past 30 years."
Code Pink cofounders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans began arguing for a "responsible withdrawal" after their recent visit to Afghanistan, which focused on discovering Afghan women's attitudes toward the U.S. occupation. While there, they met with a handpicked group of politically connected Afghan women that included President Hamid Karzai's sister-in-law, Wazhma Karzai.
According to Code Pink, many of these members of parliament and businesswomen opposed sending an additional 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, but also said they rely on U.S. troops for their own personal safety.
On October 6, the Christian Science Monitor published an interview with Benjamin and reported on her change of heart, based on conversations with some of the women she met in Kabul. For example, CSM reported, "Shinkai Karokhail, an Afghan member of parliament and woman activist, told them. 'International troop presence here is a guarantee for my safety.'"
Benjamin claimed she was misrepresented in the Christian Science Monitor. Yet Benjamin herself said in a recent interview:
[W]e certainly did hear some people say that they felt if the U.S. pulled out right now, there would be a collapse, and the Taliban might take over, there might be a civil war. But we also heard a lot of people say they didn't want more troops to be sent in, and they wanted the U.S. to have a responsible exit strategy that included the training of Afghan troops, included being part of promoting a real reconciliation process and included economic development; that the United States shouldn't be allowed to just walk away from the problem. So that's really our position.
This reasoning assumes, of course, that the U.S. is capable of behaving responsibly toward the Afghan people. It is not.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

UN: Record 1 Billion Go Hungry

UN agency blames cuts in agricultural aid and investment as record 1 billion go hungry

By TOM MALITI

The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya
Parents in some of Africa's poorest countries are cutting back on school, clothes and basic medical care just to give their children a meal once a day, experts say. Still, it is not enough.
A record 1 billion people worldwide are hungry and a new report says the number will increase if governments do not spend more on agriculture. According to the U.N. food agency, which issued the report, 30 countries now require emergency aid, including 20 in Africa.
The trend continues despite a goal set by world leaders nine years ago to cut the number of hungry people in half by 2015.
"It's actually a world emergency that calls for action from both developing and developed countries," said Otive Igbuzor, the head of international campaigns for ActionAid International.
"We know a child dies every six seconds of malnutrition," he said.
Spiraling food prices have added to hardships, especially in the world's most desperate countries where the poor could barely afford a single daily meal to begin with. The inflated prices — which caused riots across the globe last year — have stabilized but remain comparatively high, especially in the developing world, Jacques Diouf, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, told AP Television News.
In Somalia, ravaged by violence and anarchy for almost two decades, the monthly expenditure for food and other basic needs for a family of six has risen 85 percent in the past two years, said Grainne Moloney of the Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.
On average, such a family spent $171 in September this year, compared with $92 for the same amount of food and other needs in March 2007, said Moloney, a nutrition expert for the Horn of Africa nation.
"Families are cutting out the school, cutting out the clothes. A lot of them are going for cheaper cereals," said Moloney, adding that despite those desperate measures, one in five children in Somalia is acutely malnourished.
Igbuzor said the trend can be seen in impoverished countries across Africa.
In Kenya, herders have seen scores of their animals die and crops have withered because of drought. Today, 3.8 million people in Kenya need food aid, up from 2.5 million earlier in the year.
After worldwide gains in the fight against hunger in the 1980s and early 1990s, the number of undernourished people started climbing in 1995, reaching 1.02 billion this year amid escalating food prices and the global financial meltdown, the FAO said in its Wednesday report.
The long-term trend is due largely to reduced aid and private investments earmarked for agriculture since the mid 1980s, the Rome-based agency said in its State of Food Insecurity report for 2009.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Historic Success In Military Recruiting

In Midst of Downturn, All Targets Are Met

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
For the first time in more than 35 years, the U.S. military has met all of its annual recruiting goals, as hundreds of thousands of young people have enlisted despite the near-certainty that they will go to war.
The Pentagon, which made the announcement Tuesday, said the economic downturn and rising joblessness, as well as bonuses and other factors, had led more qualified youths to enlist.
The military has not seen such across-the-board successes since the all-volunteer force was established in 1973, after Congress ended the draft following the Vietnam War. In recent years, the military has often fallen short of some of its recruiting targets. The Army, in particular, has struggled to fill its ranks, admitting more high school dropouts, overweight youths and even felons.
Yet during the current budget year, which ended Sept. 30, recruiters met their targets in both numbers and quality for all components of active-duty and reserve forces.
"We delivered beyond anything the framers of the all-volunteer force would have anticipated," Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, said at a Pentagon news conference.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are considered by experts to be an unprecedented test of the volunteer military's resilience. Its ability to bring fresh recruits into the force is critical not only to increasing the overall size of the Army and Marine Corps, but to ensuring that additional units are available to rotate into conflict zones. Some Army units sent overseas recently have been deployed at less than full strength.
As lengthy, multiple combat tours place U.S. forces under enormous stress, the willingness of young people to enlist has surprised even military leaders, experts said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Robocops Come to Pittsburgh


No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one that reportedly made its debut in the US, was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.
Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many thousands of police (transported on Port Authority buses displaying "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD"), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with overreacting ... and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.
Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
I saw the LRAD, mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), in action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians, merchants and journalists, and drove residents into their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie you didn't want to be in.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Caught in the crossfire: the forgotten casualties of war in Afghanistan Some Afghans say foreign forces are as dangerous as Taliban


Shafiq, 6, lost his eye in an IED explosion
Shafiq, 6, lost his eye in an IED explosion in Helmand. Three of his playmates were killed in the blast. Photograph: Jon Boone
By Jon Boone
The stooped and withdrawn 18-year-old breathed painfully as he relived the day last month when shrapnel from a missile ripped through his lung and bowels.
It was 9am and he was out collecting fruit from his family's trees in a village so small it is not included on most maps of Helmand province.
Although it was the day of the Afghan elections he, like everyone else in his neighbourhood, had no interest in voting in an area too insecure for polling stations to open. "I was just a few steps outside my front gate when about eight rockets landed," he says, sitting in a hospital in the provincial capital of Helmand, bandages around his chest. "I was hit and ran into the house where women and children were yelling because a rocket had also landed on one of the rooms."
He is convinced that it was a rocket from "foreign forces" ‑ something that the hospital cannot confirm, although they say the shrapnel was clearly from a rocket, possibly delivered from a helicopter.
With his lung filling up with blood and an equally potentially fatal wound to his lower abdomen all the village "medical worker" could do was wrap him up and begin the arduous business of moving him along roads littered with IEDs and checkpoints to a place where his life could be saved. It took more than a day for him to arrive at the Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah. The immaculate surgical facility run by an Italian charity, with a policy of not asking patients about how they received their injuries, does not turn away anyone. "He certainly would have died if he had not come here," says Mirco Barchetta, the hospital's head nurse, who is only allowed to travel between his nearby secure compound and the hospital in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous cities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why Afghans Have No Hope in This Week's Vote

By Malalai Joya


Like millions of Afghans, I have no hope in the results of this week's election. In a country ruled by warlords, occupation forces, Taliban insurgency, drug money and guns, no one can expect a legitimate or fair vote.
Among the people on the street, a common sentiment is, 'Everything has already been decided by the U.S. and NATO, and the real winner has already been picked by the White House and Pentagon.' Although there are a total of 41 candidates running for president, the vast majority of them are well known faces responsible for the current disastrous situation in Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai has cemented alliances with brutal warlords and fundamentalists in order to maintain his position. Although our Constitution forbids war criminals from running for office, he has named two notorious militia commanders as his vice-presidential running mates - Qasim Fahim, who was, at the time of the 2001 invasion, the warlord who headed up the Northern Alliance, and Karim Khalili. The election commission did not reject them or a number of others accused of many crimes, and so the list of candidates also includes former Russian puppets and a former Taliban commander.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Analysts Expect Long-Term, Costly U.S. Campaign in Afghanistan

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 9, 2009
As the Obama administration expands U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, military experts are warning that the United States is taking on security and political commitments that will last at least a decade and a cost that will probably eclipse that of the Iraq war.
Since the invasion of Afghanistan eight years ago, the United States has spent $223 billion on war-related funding for that country, according to the Congressional Research Service. Aid expenditures, excluding the cost of combat operations, have grown exponentially, from $982 million in 2003 to $9.3 billion last year.
The costs are almost certain to keep growing. The Obama administration is in the process of overhauling the U.S. approach to Afghanistan, putting its focus on long-term security, economic sustainability and development. That approach is also likely to require deployment of more American military personnel, at the very least to train additional Afghan security forces.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Big Lie of Afghanistan: my country hasn't been liberated: it's still under the warlords' control, and Nato occupation only reinforces their power


By Malalai Joya
In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.
On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.
Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Imperialism and Iran’s Elections



A struggle has broken out over the results of Iran’s presidential elections, held Friday June 12, which resulted in the apparent landslide victory of incumbent President Ahmadinejad. On Friday night, before the results had been announced, the main opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, declared himself the winner. The following day, Iran's election commission announced that Ahmadinejad had won with 62% of the vote. Mousavi responded with allegations of vote-rigging. This set into motion a chain of events that has resulted in hundreds of thousands coming out to the streets in protest. Some of the protests turned into riots, with protesters attacking police, government offices and banks and burning cars. 19 people are reported to have died in clashes with the government.
The subsequent media barrage has been so deafening that some of the basic facts and issues surrounding the election have been completely obscured. The unquestioned assumption propagated by the mainstream media is that the election was stolen.
The problem is, the only independent poll conducted four weeks before the election predicted a result very much akin to the official results from Iran's election commission. The poll, conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, surveyed opinion in all 30 of Iran's provinces. It showed Ahmadinejad with a 2 to 1 lead over Mousavi (Washington Post, 6/15/09), which corresponds to the official tally of 63% for Ahmadinejad and 34% for Mousavi. As for Mohsen Rezai and Mehdi Karroubi, the other opposition candidates, the poll predicted they would earn 1% and 2% of the vote, respectively; while the official tally shows them winning 1.73% and 0.85%. It is clear that the poll was remarkably accurate in its predictions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

America's Poor Are Its Most Generous Givers