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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Event at the Asia Society in New York – “The US and Asia in 2013: Challenges and Opportunities”

by Irith Jawetz at the Asia Society House on Park Avenue, New York City, Monday March 11, 2013.
Talk by Thomas Donilon, U.S. National Security Advisor on “The U.S. and Asia in 2013:  Challenges and Opportunities.”

Introductory remarks were by Ms. Henrietta Fore, Co-Chair of Asia Society and Chairman and CEO of Holsman International, a manufacturing, consulting and investment company.

She stressed the importance of the Series of talks at the Asia Society – “Beyond the Headlines” -  and said that the Asia Society shares views of cooperation, alliances, and links between the United States and Asia. There are many challenges in the relationship between the US and Asia, she said – especially when it comes to North Korea -  but the opportunities for cooperation outweigh the challenges, she sad. Her approach to foreign policy was a business woman line – the issue being that challenges and opportunities were understood in business terms.

Ms. Fore continued by introducing the speaker – Mr. Thomas Donilon.

Thomas Donilon is the new National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama. 
From 2009 to 2010, he served as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor.  He chaired the State Department’s transition effort in 2008.  Prior to this, he was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and served as a member of the firm’s global governing committee.  He has worked closely with and advised three U.S. Presidents since his first position at the White House working with President Carter. 

He served in the Clinton Administration as Assistant Secretary of State and Chief of Staff of the Department. In this capacity he was responsible for the development and implementation of the Department’s major policy initiatives, including NATO expansion, the Dayton Peace Accords, and the Middle East Peace process. He was awarded  the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in November 1996. His interest in policy does not mean business first. What was he doing at Asia Society during this lunch-time break?

Mr. Donilon started his presentation by acknowledging his good friend Richard Holbrook who was a real “Asia hand” and credited him for dedicating all his efforts to peace and cooperation everywhere. Now – that was the answer to the question in my head. Mr. Danilon came to honor the departed Mr. Holbrook and not because of those present there.

Donilon gave a general review of the Obama Administration’s goals in Asia for his second term.

The world’s economic, political, and strategic center of gravity is shifting toward the Asia-Pacific.  Since its first days in office, the Obama administration has therefore pursued a rebalancing of foreign, economic and defense policy priorities toward the Asia Pacific. This reballance, according to National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, is working to “sustain a stable security environment and a regional order rooted in economic openness, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic governance, and political freedom.” 

The United States has been over weighted in some area, i.,e. the Middle East and under weighted in other area, i.e. Asia – and the Obama Administration will make sure to strengthen the ties between the US and the Asia Pacific region.

He mentioned the friendship and cooperation with Japan’s new leadership, with China’s leadership, the friendship with India, and a solid commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea, and announced that the new woman President of the Republic of Korea, Ms. Park will visit the White House this coming May.

The challenges are mainly with North Korea. For 60 years the United States has protected the Republic of Korea and will not accept any nuclear programs in North Korea. There will be consequences if North Korea continues to pursue its nuclear goals. However, there will always be a window open for talks if North Korea changes its course. He brought as example the country of Myanmar with whom the US has now a good relationship. North Korea could take an example from Myanmar.

Mr. Donilon touched upon the good relationship between the US and India, Indonesia, a country that is personally close to Mr. Obama, and China. In relations to China he mentioned that a military dialogue is necessary, economic relations are opening up, however there are problems regarding the cyber security. The Internet has to be open, secure and reliable and there are still concerns in that field.

He further mentioned the TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, – an organization which now has 11 members, but could be a podium for many countries to join and cooperate for free and open trade between the countries.

In conclusion, he again stressed that the ties between the United States and Asia are a very important subject in the Obama Administration.

Ms. Suzanne DiMaggio, Vice President of Global Policy Programs at Asia Society read a few questions, one relating to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As for Afghanistan Mr. Donilon stressed that the plan is still to have the Afghan forces take over the security of their country
with the US forces in an advisory capacity as of May 2013, and the full withdrawal of US troops from that country by September 31, 2014. The main goal is to defeat Al Qaeda and to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a future haven for terrorists.

As for Pakistan there have always been problems between the US and Pakistan especially after a crisis, i.e. the capture of Osama Bin Laden, but the US is committed to work through those problems and to ensure a stable Pakistan.

Mr. Tom Nagorski closed the session with a concluding remarks thanking Mr. Donilon for his excellent speech and also thanking him for his kind remarks regarding Richard Holbrook.

Tom Nagorski is Executive Vice President of the Asia Society since October 2012 following a three-decade career in journalism – having served most recently as Managing Editor for International Coverage of ABC News. Before that he was Foreign Editor for World News Tonight and a reporter and producer based in Russia, Germany and Thailand. He is the recipient of eight Emmy awards and the Dupont Award for excellence in International coverage as well as a fellowship from the Henry Luce Foundation.
He looked like he understood why Mr. Donilon spent his time here and the fact that the business community ought to understand better the motives of an umbrella approach to foreign policy that comes with a reset away from the oil region.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Girl Shot By Taliban Becomes Global Icon.

Radio Free Europe
By Ron Synovitz
Oct. 11, 2012

In December, when the United Nations declared October 11 as the date for an annual “International Day of the Girl Child,” it said attention needed to be focused on promoting girls’ rights.

On October 11, when the newly minted UN day made its debut, global attention was focused on Malala Yousafzai — the 14-year-old schoolgirl from Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley who was shot this week by the Pakistani Taliban for defending her right to an education.

The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) expected to silence her campaign, which she had carried out since the age of 11 through an online diary she wrote for the BBC. Instead, they created an international icon for girls’ rights and made her known the world over simply as “Malala.”

At the European Union headquarters in Brussels on October 11, young schoolgirls at a launch event for “Day of The Girl Child” held up photos of Malala along with signs saying “Save The Girls.”

On social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, Malala was hailed as a brave girl whose story epitomizes the need for the UN day.

Stuart Coles, a spokesman for the international development charity “Plan,” an organization that has been campaigning for the education rights of children for 75 years, tells RFE/RL that social media appears to have latched onto Malala’s story.

“The public backlash has been very strong against this terrible event. And I think, inadvertently, she has become an example of the problems and the issues that many girls are facing across the world,” Coles says.

“It is an incredibly sad, tragic, event. But it is a reminder, really, of the dangers and risks that girls face when they are campaigning for rights and the right to education in some parts of the world.”

A statement tweeted by UNICEF on October 11 said, “Today our thoughts are with Malala Yousafzai, the inspirational 14-year-old activist for girls’ rights.”

Meanwhile, concerned activists forwarded Pakistani media reports about Malala’s transfer to a hospital in Rawalpindi after surgeons removed a bullet that passed through her head and lodged in her shoulder.
Social Campaigns

Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer-winning columnist for “The New York Times,” tweeted links to his most recent opinion piece about the shooting.
Kristof called the attack on Malala a reminder “that the global struggle for gender equality is the paramount moral struggle of this century, equivalent to the campaigns against slavery in the 19th century and against totalitarianism in the 20th century.”

He also shared information on how readers can “honor Malala” by donating to global organizations dedicated to the promotion of education rights for girls.

The Global Fund for Women also called for donations to the cause of girls’ rights, saying: “Ironically, the attack on Malala falls the same week as the first International Day of the Girl Child.”

Other online activists shared links to an October 10 editorial in “The New York Times” about the attack on Malala.
“If Pakistan has a future, it is embodied in Malala Yousafzai,” the editorial reads. “Malala has shown more courage in facing down the Taliban than Pakistan’s government and its military leaders…. The murderous violence against one girl was committed against the whole Pakistani society. The Taliban cannot be allowed to win this vicious campaign against girls, learning and tolerance. Otherwise, there is no future for that nation.”

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the nongovernment watchdog group UN Watch, circulated an online petition calling for Pakistan to be blocked from getting a seat on the UN Human Rights Council until the government “stops those who shoot little girls.”

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, social networks also were being used to organize a candlelight vigil in Karachi for Malala — a follow-up to a prayer gathering on October 11 that brought out thousands of supporters, many of them women.

Across the rest of the country, Pakistanis from a broad political and religious spectrum have united in outrage and revulsion at the attack.

As Pakistani politicians line up to condemn the shooting, commentators are pondering whether the tragedy can galvanize public opinion against the Pakistani Taliban enough to support a large military offensive against them.

If that becomes the case, the Taliban gun that was fired at a schoolgirl to enforce a radical interpretation of Islam will officially have backfired.

Original URL: www.rferl.org/content/girl-shot-by-taliban-becomes-global-icon/24736661.html

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TOP NEWS as per The New York Times, August 18, 2012 Front Page.

U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions

By JAMES RISEN and DURAID ADNAN

Financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations in Iraq have given Iran a crucial flow of dollars as sanctions over its nuclear work squeeze its economy, officials and experts said.

————-

Afghan Attacks on Allied Troops Prompt NATO to Shift Policy

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and GRAHAM BOWLEY

The military’s efforts to stop “insider attacks” is an indication of how destabilizing the deaths of coalition troops at the hands of Afghan forces have become.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The 2012 Knight Award Winners.

May 22, 2012
Contact: Sonja Matanovic, Communications Director
Reporters Exposing Somali Pirates and Domestic Violence in Afghanistan to Receive Prestigious Journalism Award
A Kenyan journalist investigating the Somali pirates and an Afghan broadcaster exposing violence against women will receive the 2012 Knight International Journalism Awards, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced. The award recognizes excellent reporting that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world.
Kassim Mohamed is an investigative reporter covering Kenya and Somalia, a nation plagued by lawlessness and piracy. He has chronicled the ensuing chaos in great detail—and at great personal risk—for the Nairobi-based Star FM radio station and The Starnewspaper.
His in-depth interviews with Somali pirates have shed light on a lucrative industry that endangers international sea routes. During one investigation, the pirates took him hostage. After they freed him, he wrote a groundbreaking story on the struggles of the pirates’ wives. He has received death threats.
A Kenyan of the Somali ethnic community, Mohamed covered the beleaguered Somali refugees living in Nairobi. He wrote about gangs that terrorized a Somali neighborhood in Nairobi as the police apparently looked the other way. After the story appeared, the police arrested 65 gang members.
Afghan broadcaster Sami Mahdi has revolutionized Afghanistan’s media landscape. In a country where the Taliban once starved people of information, Mahdi is one of the most reliable sources of news. More than that, he has engaged Afghans in a way no other newscaster has.
As the director of news and current affairs at 1TV, Afghanistan’s fastest-growing independent news station, he has pioneered programs such as “Kabul Debate Live,” a televised town hall meeting. In this show, he invites political leaders to appear before a live audience. For the first time, citizens can ask questions about critical issues, while viewers can phone or text in their concerns. It is one of the few ways Afghans can demand accountability from those in power.
Mahdi is unafraid to take on taboo subjects. In an effort to stop violence against women, he launched the show “Niqab” (Mask). Afghan women, hiding behind a mask, talk to a live audience about rape and domestic violence. The masks encourage women to speak without fear of reprisals.
The winners of this year’s award, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will be honored at ICFJ’s Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13. “These fearless journalists expose abuses despite the risk of violence from Somali pirates and the Taliban,” says ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “As a result, they have changed minds—and policies.”
Seasoned journalists and Knight International Journalism Fellows nominated the candidates. They include:
  • Elizabeth Ballantine, ICFJ director and director, The McClatchy Company;
  • Jacqueline Barnathan, executive editor, CBS Newspath;
  • Christopher Isham, vice president and Washington bureau chief, CBS News;
  • Rob Doherty, U.S. general manager, Thomson Reuters;
  • Doug Mitchell, consultant and project manager, National Public Radio and former Knight International Journalism Fellow;
  • Rob Rehg, ICFJ director and president, Edelman, Washington;
  • Andrew Stephen, British journalist;
  • Susan Talalay, ICFJ advisory board member and former director, Knight International Journalism Fellowships;
  • and ICFJ’s Barnathan.

The International Center for Journalists, a non-profit organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition. For 27 years, ICFJ has worked directly with more than 70,000 journalists from 180 countries.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. More atwww.knightfoundation.org.
1616 H Street NW Floor 3 | Washington, DC 20006 US

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Johannes Chudoba, Strategic Planning Advisor for the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, will discuss peace and development in Afghanistan.

————————–

from: daniela.haertl@oiip.ac.at

– Einladung zur Veranstaltung Risiko und Resilienz: substaatliche Sicherheitspolitik in Afghanistan und Pakistan          am  29 März 2012,

————————-

Florian P. Kühn, wrote about State building in Afghanistan – His studies are in Security Policy and Risk taking in International politics.

book:

Berit Bliesemann de GuevaraFlorian P. Kühn

Illusion Statebuilding - Warum sich der westliche Staat so schwer exportieren lässt.

————————-

Topic of Presentation – Risiko und Resilienz: substaatliche Sicherheitspolitik in Afghanistan und Pakistan.

Referent:

Florian P. KÜHN (Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg)

Diskutant:

Johannes CHUDOBA (Strategic Planning Adviser, UNO)

Begrüßung und Moderation:
Jan POSPISIL (oiip)

Datum:

Donnerstag, 29. März 2012
18.00 Uhr

Ort: oiip

Berggasse 7
1090 Wien

Programm

Zur Anmeldung

Mag. Daniela Härtl
oiip – Österreichisches Institut für Internationale Politik

Berggasse 7
A-1090 Wien
Tel. +43(0)1/581 11 06*11
Fax. +43(0)1/581 11 06*10
Email: daniela.haertl@oiip.ac.at
——————

Website: www.oiip.ac.at

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Recently a group of Afghanis came to learn farming, and during one recreational evening at kibbutz they joined in an Israeli hora and taught the Israelis how to dance Afghan style.
The new Minister of Agriculture in Afghanistan is a former trainee.
Yet Afghanistan has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Many of the African trainees who arrive are Christian and they are eager to see holy sites in Jerusalem and Nazareth — the Galilean birthplace of Jesus that’s just a short walk from the Institute.
So it’s not only a training seminar, it’s also a holiday of a lifetime.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

LONDON,  June 23, 2001 – by Jeffrey Laurenti of The Century Foundation.

“Moving the ship of state is a slow process,” President Obama replied two years ago to a Turkish student impatient for more dramatic changes in American foreign policy.  “States are like big tankers, they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead you’ve got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.”

The reduction in American troop levels in Afghanistan that Obama announced last night completes just such a gradual but complete reversal in course in U.S. policy there.  Obama has overturned the highly militarized model his predecessor adopted after the ouster of the Taliban, replacing it with a strategy based on a political resolution of Afghanistan’s conflicts.

Continue reading Turning the Afghan ship around > > > takingnote.tcf.org/2011/06/turning-the-afghan-ship-around.html

But also:

Time to see the AfPak region for what it is – a Pakistan infested with fighting Islamic extremists and an Afghanistan that was destroyed in the US-Soviet Cold War. With the end of the Cold War the problems shifted to Pakistan and the US cannot afford the investments required for Nation building in Afghanistan. Who can fill the shoes of the previously self appointed Super-Power that got into the Asian arena because of the large reserves of oil and gas hidden in the Asian deserts?

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 — President Obama declared Wednesday that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of American troops in an acknowledgment of the shifting threat in the region and the
fast-changing political and economic landscape in a war-weary America.

Asserting that the country that served as a base for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States, Mr. Obama declared that the “tide of war is receding.” And in a blunt recognition of domestic economic strains, he said, “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

“It was only a few years ago that we debated how long it would take to
train the Afghan military to take the lead in securing the most violent, contested parts of the country,” he added. “Or how long it would take to build schools and courts and provide basic services. No one wants to talk about that very much any more — the time lines are longer and the costs larger than the politics here at home will bear.”

Hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Pakistan’s leaders were given an
ultimatum by the Bush administration: Because the looming war in
Afghanistan could not be won without Pakistan’s help, Islamabad would
have to choose between continuing its alliance with the Taliban or
joining forces with the United States.

Just shy of 10 years later, President Obama’s announcement on
Wednesday night that he is beginning the long-anticipated withdrawal
from Afghanistan marks another step in the gradual reversal of that
calculus. Though the president could not say so directly, one of the
constraints on America’s retreat from a hard and bloody decade is the
new recognition that, more than ever, the United States will be relying now on Afghanistan’s help to deal with the threats emerging from Pakistan.

The administration argues that the killing of Osama bin Laden last
month at his compound deep inside Pakistan, combined with scores of
other counterterrorism strikes, have given it greater leeway to reduce
its troop numbers in Afghanistan. Yet Pakistan’s angry reaction to
that raid also makes it more urgent than ever that the United States
maintain sites outside the country to launch drone and commando raids
against the militant networks that remain in Pakistan, and to make
sure that Pakistan’s fast-growing nuclear arsenal never falls into the
wrong hands.

What the raid of the Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,
,“demonstrated more vividly than ever, is that we need a base to strike
targets in Pakistan, and the geography is simple: You need to do that
from Afghanistan,” said Bruce Reidel, a retired C.I.A. officer who conducted Mr. Obama’s first review of strategy in the region.

———-

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives - www.spiritualprogressives.org - and can be reached at – RabbiLerner@tikkun.org - has a further take on this:

* Last night, President Obama announced a plan for Afghanistan that will leave nearly

* 70,000 troops on the ground at the end of his first term

* That’s still almost double the number of troops President Bush had in Afghanistan.

* While the press is portraying this plan as a large withdrawal from Afghanistan,

* the fact is that the administration is still investing billions of dollars and risking

* thousands of lives for a failed strategy. And risking the lives of so many civilians in Afghanistan and

* Pakistan. And we still don’t know when those 70,000 soldiers will come home to their families,

* because under the guise of withdrawing troops, this latest plan keeps the longest war

* in American history going indefinitely. That’s why the NSP (Network
of Spiritual Progressives)

* is teaming with Peace Action West to urge that President Obama bring all the troops home by

* September 2012, not just a symbolic fraction of the troops who are there.

—————-

and an interesting New York Times opinion piece:

What Would Nixon Do?

By GIDEON ROSE, Published June 25, 2011.

“Administration hawks, largely in the military, are uneasy; they had wanted to go slower, so as to safeguard recent gains made against the Taliban. Administration doves, largely in the White House, are disappointed; they had wanted to pull back faster, seeing the killing of Osama bin Laden as an ideal opportunity to get out.

The president split the difference, suggesting that he was charting a “centered course.” But he has actually once again evaded the fundamental choice between accepting the costs of staying and the risks of leaving.

What he needs is a strategy for getting out without turning a retreat into a rout — and he would be wise to borrow one from the last American administration to extricate itself from a thankless, seemingly endless counterinsurgency in a remote and strategically marginal region. Mr. Obama should ask himself, in short: What would Nixon do? …..”
 www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/opinio…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This is something we do very seldom – take a comment that was originally intended to be added to a previous article and actually post it as well as an individual posting – this because of its actual informative value.

Comment from Robert del Rosso on June 5, 2011

RE our posting #18081 of August 20, 2010 - on the PAKISTANI FLOODS OF 2008  -

“August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!”

that says the tragedy IS THAT THE IPCC WAS RAKED OVER THE COALS FOR SAYING THAT THE HIMALAYA GLACIERS WOULD MELT BY 2030.

THE MISTAKE THE IPCC MADE WAS IN QUOTING AN INDIAN NEWSPAPER, WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE QUOTED FROM THE WORK OF OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY’S LONNIE THOMPSON (see below) – HIMALAYAS MISSING RADIOACTIVE LAYERS NEW TIBETAN ICE CORES MISSING A-BOMB BLAST MARKERS; SUGGEST HIMALAYAN ICE FIELDS HAVEN’T GROWN IN LAST 50 YEARS.

COLUMBUS , Ohio – Ice cores drilled last year from the summit of a Himalayan ice field lack the distinctive radioactive signals that mark virtually every other ice core retrieved worldwide.

That missing radioactivity, originating as fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s, routinely provides researchers with a benchmark against which they can gauge how much new ice has accumulated on a glacier or ice field.

Lonnie Thompson made public that –  a joint U.S.-Chinese team drilled four cores from the summit of Naimona’nyi, a large glacier 6,050 meters (19,849 feet) high on theTibetan Plateau. The researchers routinely analyze ice cores for a host of indicators – particulates, dust, oxygen isotopes, etc. — that can paint a picture of past climate in that region.

Scientists believe that the missing signal means that this Tibetan ice field has been shrinking at least since the A-bomb test half a century ago. If true, this could foreshadow a future when the stockpiles of freshwater will dwindle and vanish, seriously affecting the lives of more than 500 million people on the Indian subcontinent.

“There’s about 12,000 cubic kilometers (2,879 cubic miles) of fresh water stored in the glaciers throughout the Himalayas – more freshwater than in Lake Superior,” explained Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and a researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center on campus. “Those glaciers release meltwater each year and feed the rivers that support nearly a half-billion people in that region. The loss of these ice fields might eventually create critical water shortages for people who depend on glacier-fed streams.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama and the Arab Spring.

By GEORGE FRIEDMAN, May 24, 2011, STRATFOR GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE, Geopolitical weekly.

The Stratfor Global Intelligence Company bills itself as a provider of independent, non-ideological content, that  enables users not only to better understand international events, but also to reduce risks and identify opportunities in every region of the globe.

This week George Friedman, the founder of the company writes:

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech last week on the Middle East. Presidents make many speeches. Some are meant to be taken casually, others are made to address an immediate crisis, and still others are intended to be a statement of broad American policy. As in any country, U.S. presidents follow rituals indicating which category their speeches fall into. Obama clearly intended his recent Middle East speech to fall into the last category, as reflecting a shift in strategy if not the declaration of a new doctrine.

Read more: Obama and the Arab Spring | STRATFOR

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Uri Avnery

Tel Aviv, May 7, 2011

 

                                             “Rejoice Not…”

 

“REJOICE NOT when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, / Lest the Lord see [it], and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”.

 

This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible (Proverbs 24:17-18), and indeed in the Hebrew language. It is beautiful in other languages , too, though no translation comes close to the beauty of the original.

 

Of course, it is natural to be glad when one’s enemy is defeated, and the thirst for revenge is a human trait. But gloating – schadenfreude – is something different altogether. An ugly thing.

 

Ancient Hebrew legend has it that God got very angry when the Children of Israel rejoiced as their Egyptian pursuers drowned in the Red Sea. “My creatures are drowning in the sea,” God admonished them, “And you are singing?”

 

These thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the TV shots of jubilant crowds of young Americans shouting and dancing in the street. Natural, but unseemly. The contorted faces and the aggressive body language were no different from those of crowds in Sudan or Somalia. The ugly sides of human nature seem to be the same everywhere.

 

 

THE REJOICING may be premature. Most probably, al-Qaeda did not die with Osama bin-Laden. The effect may be entirely different.

 

In 1942 the British killed Abraham Stern, whom they called a terrorist. Stern, whose nom de guerre was Ya’ir, was hiding in a cupboard in an apartment in Tel Aviv. In his case too, it was the movements of his courier that gave him away. After making sure that he was the right man, the British police officer in command shot him dead.

 

That was not the end of his group – rather, a new beginning. It became the bane of British rule in Palestine. Known as the “Stern Gang” (its real name was “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”), it carried out the most daring attacks on British installations and played a significant role in persuading the colonial power to leave the country.   

 

Hamas did not die when the Israeli air force killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the paralyzed founder, ideologue and symbol of Hamas. As a martyr he was far more effective than as a living leader. His martyrdom attracted many new fighters to the cause. Killing a person does not kill an idea. The Christians even took the cross as their symbol.

 

 

WHAT WAS the idea that turned Osama bin Laden into a world figure?

 

He preached the restoration of the Caliphate of the early Muslim centuries, which was not only a huge empire, but also a center of the sciences and the arts, poetry and literature, when Europe was still a barbaric, medieval continent. Every Arab child learns about these glories, and cannot but contrast them with the sorry Muslim present.

 

(In a way, these longings parallel the Zionist romantics’ dreams of a resurrected kingdom of David and Solomon.)

 

A new Caliphate in the 21st century is as unlikely as the wildest creation of the imagination. It would have been diametrically opposed to the Zeitgeist, were it not for its opponents – the Americans. They needed this dream – or nightmare – more than the Muslims themselves.

 

The American Empire always needs an antagonist to keep it together and to focus its energies. This has to be a worldwide enemy, a sinister advocate of an evil philosophy.

 

Such were the Nazis and Imperial Japan, but they did not last long. Fortunately, there was then the Communist Empire, which filled the role admirably.

 

There were Communists everywhere. All of them were plotting the downfall of freedom, democracy and the United States of America. They were even lurking inside the US, as
J. Edgar Hoover and  Senator Joe McCarthy so convincingly demonstrated.

 

For decades, the US flourished in the fight against the Red Menace; its forces spread all over the world, its spaceships reached the moon, its best minds engaged in a titanic battle of ideas, the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness.   

 

And then – suddenly – the whole thing collapsed. Soviet power vanished as if it had never existed. The American spy agencies, with their tremendous capabilities, were flabbergasted. Apparently, they had no idea how ramshackle the Soviet structure actually was. How could they see, blinded as they were by their own ideological preconceptions?

 

The disappearance of the Communist Threat left a gaping void in the American psyche, which cried out to be filled. Osama Bin Laden kindly offered his services.

 

It needed, of course, a world-shaking event to lend credibility to such a hare-brained utopia. The 9/11 outrage was just such an event. It produced many changes in the American way of life. And a new global enemy.

 

Overnight, medieval anti-Islamic prejudices are dusted-off for display. Islam the terrible, the murderous, the fanatical. Islam the anti-democratic, the anti-freedom, anti-all-our-values. . . Suicide bombers, 72 virgins, jihad.

 

The US springs to life again. Soldiers, spies and special forces fan out across the globe to fight terrorism. Bin Laden is everywhere. The War Against Terrorism is an apocalyptic struggle with Satan.

 

American freedoms have to be restricted, the US military machine grows by leaps and bounds. Power-hungry Intellectuals babble about the Clash of Civilizations and sell their souls for instant celebrity.

 

To produce the lurid paint for such a twisted picture of reality, religious Islamic groups are all thrown into the  same pot – the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Ayatollahs in Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Indonesian separatists, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere, whoever. All become al-Qaeda, despite the fact that each has a totally different agenda, focused on its own country, while bin Laden aims to abolish all Muslim states and create one Holy Islamic Empire. . . Details, details.

 

The Holy War against the Jihad finds warriors everywhere. Ambitious demagogues, for whom this promises an easy way to inflame the masses, spring up in many countries, from France to Finland, from Holland to Italy. The hysteria of Islamophobia displaces good old anti-Semitism, using almost the same language. Tyrannical regimes present themselves as bulwarks against al-Qaeda, as they had once presented themselves as bulwarks against Communism. And, of course, our own Binyamin Netanyahu milks the situation for all it is worth,  traveling from capital to capital peddling his wares of anti-Islamism.

 

Bin Laden had good reason to be proud, and probably was.

 

 

WHEN I saw his picture for the first time, I joked that he was not a real person, but an actor straight from Hollywood’s Central Casting. He looked too good to be true – exactly as he would appear in a Hollywood movie – a handsome man, with a long black beard, posing with a Kalashnikov. His appearances on TV were carefully staged.

 

Actually, he was a very incompetent  terrorist, a real amateur. No genuine terrorist would have lived in a conspicuous villa, which stood out in the landscape like a sore thumb. Stern was hiding in a small roof apartment in a squalid quarter of Tel Aviv. Menachem Begin lived with his wife and son in a very modest ground floor apartment, playing the role of a reclusive rabbi.

 

Bin Laden’s villa was bound to attract the attention of neighbors and other people. They would have been curious about this mysterious stranger in their midst. Actually, he should have been discovered long  ago. He was unarmed and did not put up a fight. The decision to kill him on the spot and dump his body into [or “in”] the sea was evidently taken long before.

 

So there is no grave, no holy tomb. But for millions of Muslims, and especially Arabs, he was and remains a source of pride, an Arab hero, the ”[]“lion of lions” as a preacher in Jerusalem called him. Almost no one dared to come out and say so openly, for fear of the Americans, but even those who thought his ideas impractical and his actions harmful respected him in their heart.

 

Does that mean that al-Qaeda has a future? I don’t think so. It belongs to the past – not because bin Laden has been killed, but because his central idea is obsolete.

 

The Arab Spring embodies a new set of ideals, a new enthusiasm, one that does not glorify and hanker after a distant past but looks boldly to the future. The young men and women of Tahrir Square, with their longing for freedom, have consigned bin Laden to history, months before his physical death. His philosophy has a future only if the Arab Awakening fails completely and leaves behind a profound sense of disappointment and despair.

 

In the Western world, few will mourn him, but God forbid that anyone should gloat.

===================

Arabian Business website reports – Five days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden death, vows to continue attacks, and quotes them by saying:

“In a historic day the Islamic nation … the mujahid (holy warrior) Sheikh Abu Abdullah, Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, God have mercy on him, was killed on the path taken by those before him and will be taken by those after him.”

“Congratulations to the Islamic umma (community) for the martyrdom of its son Osama.”

www.arabianbusiness.com/al-qaeda-confirms-death-of-osama-bin-laden-398262.html

———————-

But ArabianBusiness.com also carried:

www.arabianbusiness.com/arab-revolts-turn-bin-laden-death-into-bloody-footnote-397609.html

Arab revolts turn bin Laden death into bloody footnote.

Osama bin Laden, slain by US forces in Pakistan on Sunday, seems curiously irrelevant in an Arab world fired by popular revolt against oppressive leaders.

“Bin Laden is just a bad memory,” said Nadim Houry, of Human Rights Watch, in Beirut. “The region has moved way beyond that, with massive broad-based upheavals that are game-changers.”

The al Qaeda leader’s bloody attacks, especially those of September 11, 2001, once resonated among some Arabs who saw them as grim vengeance for perceived indignities heaped upon them by the United States, Israel and their own American-backed leaders.

Bin Laden had dreamed that his global Islamist jihad would inspire Muslims to overthrow pro-Western governments, notably in Saudi Arabia, the homeland which revoked his citizenship.

He espoused jihad largely in anger at what he viewed as the occupation of Muslim lands by foreign “infidel” forces — the Russians in Afghanistan, the Americans in Saudi Arabia in the 1990 Gulf crisis, or the Israelis in Palestine.

But al Qaeda’s indiscriminate violence never galvanised Arab masses, while his networks came under severe pressure from Arab governments helping Western counter-terrorism efforts.

“Bin Laden’s brand of defiance in the early days probably excited some imaginations, but the senseless acts of violence destroyed any appeal he had,” Houry said.

Nowhere was this change of heart more marked than in Iraq, where anger at Muslim casualties inflicted by al Qaeda suicide bombings – and the Shi’ite sectarian backlash they provoked –  eventually drove Sunni tribesmen to ally with the Americans.

Popular sympathy for al Qaeda also evaporated in Saudi Arabia after a series of indiscriminate attacks in 2003-06.

If the ideological appeal of bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, who advocated the restoration of an Islamic caliphate, was already fading, the pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world have further diminished it.

“At some stage Arab public opinion looked on bin Laden as a hope to end this kind of discrimination, the West’s way of dealing with Muslim and Arab nations, but now these nations are saying, we will do the change ourselves, we don’t need anyone to speak on our behalf,” said Mahjoob Zweiri, of Qatar University.

He said bin Laden’s killing would affect only a few who still believe in his path of maximising pain on the West.

“The majority of Muslim and Arab nations have their own choice. They are moving towards modern civil societies,” Zweiri argued. “People believe in gradual change, civil change, they don’t want violence, even against the leaders who crushed them.”

Peaceful Arab protests have already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia and are threatening the leaders of Yemen and Syria, while a popular revolt against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has turned into a civil war with Western military intervention.

These dramas appear to have shocked al Qaeda almost into silence. Even its most active branch, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has mounted no big attacks during months of popular unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Martin Indyk, a former US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, described bin Laden’s death as “a body blow” to al Qaeda at a time when its ideology was already being undercut by the popular revolutions in the Arab world.

“Their narrative is that violence and terrorism is the way to redeem Arab dignity and rights. What the people in the streets across the Arab world are doing is redeeming their rights and their dignity through peaceful, non-violent protests – the exact opposite of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have been preaching,” said Indyk, now at the Brookings Institution.

“He hasn’t managed to overthrow any government, and they are overthrowing one after the other. I would say that the combination of the two puts al Qaeda in real crisis.”

Bin Laden may have become a marginal figure in the Arab world, but the discontent he tapped into still exists.

“The underlying reasons why people turn to these kinds of violent, criminal, terroristic movements are still there,” said Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri, alluding to the “anger and humiliation of people who feel that Western countries, their own Arab leaders or Israel treat them with disdain”.

Nevertheless, he predicted a continued slide in al Qaeda’s fortunes, particularly as US troop withdrawals from Iraq and later from Afghanistan remove potent sources of resentment.

“The Arab spring is certainly a sign that the overwhelming majority of Arabs, as we have known all along, repudiated bin Laden,” Khouri said. “He and Zawahri tried desperately to get traction among the Arab masses, but it just never worked.

“People who followed him would be those who would form little secret cells and go off to Afghanistan, but the vast majority of people rejected his message.

“What Arabs want is what they are fighting for now, which is more human rights, dignity and democratic government.”



 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The World After Bin Laden .
With Osama bin Laden now dead, what’s next for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Al Qaeda?

CNN’s Peter Bergen, one of the only Western journalists to have interviewed bin Laden, addresses these questions in a live global dialogue withTIME‘s Joe Klein at Asia Society New York.  

Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 pm ET.
Event and live webcast details
AsiaSociety.org: After Bin Laden

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

While the world was watching the Chilean mine, Fared Zakaria says – much else was going on in the world. and we’ll span the globe with a terrific GPS foreign policy panel.

The panel was made up as follows:

- Gideon Rose who was appointed Editor of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. He was Managing Editor of the magazine from 2000-2010.  He has also served as Associate Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council and Deputy Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has taught American foreign policy at Princeton and Columbia.  He is the author of How Wars End (Simon & Schuster, 2010),

- Danielle Pletka – a specialist on Counterterrorism at the American Enterprise Institute were she is Vice President for Foreign and Defense matters,(Washington’s right wing AEI), She was born on Melbourne and has experience in the Middle Easr, South East Asia and the US Senate,

- and Crystia Freeland the Global Editor-at-Large at Reuters News until march 1st, 2010 she was the US based editor in Chief of The Financial Times. She is an Alberta Ukrainian-Canadian and had a brilliant record on the McLaughlin Group.

Among other people on the October 17, 2010 program, the likes of the would be rulers of North Korea of the Kim Jong-il’s family and the Sunni backed contender for the Iraqi leadership – Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia, there was also Peter Diamond, The newest American Economist to win the Nobel Prize – nearly unbelievable for Unemployment studies at a time that all agree the US must do something about Unemployment.

In this posting I do not intend to review the contributions of each one of these people. I rather want to say – that as different as they might be – I sensed that there was a clear unity in the way they evaluate the policy choices before Washington,

First let us look at Peter Diamond of MIT. He was nominated January 14, 2010 by President Obama to be on the Federal Reserve Board that is chaired by a former student of his – no other then Ben Bernanke – but Senator Shelby of the GOP from Alabama had the audacity to say that Peter Diamond will have to “Learn on the Job” – so he is not the man up to the job. Strange as it is – it reminded me of the Peace Prize having been awarded to Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese also said he was not up to the job either. ERGO – THERE IS A DEEP SIMILARITY BETWEEN SHELBY AND WEN – THEY ARE BOTH FAT – but that is where it ends. Premier Wen Jiabao has done a lot of good to his country while Senator Richard Shelby has mainly interfered with efforts to find solutions for the USA.

Is this an offensive depiction of Washington? I do not think so, neither do I believe that any of that panel would have said that it was.

First – everybody knows that the Republicans will win the House of Representatives on November 2nd 2010, and get close to equalize their position in the Senate – so next year they will have to take responsibility in the governing of the country. Frivolty will not fly anymore or they will dig themselves a very large hole come the 2012 elections.

Second – it does not seem that the Republicans have asked Professor Diamond for his opinions. He said to Fareed that, allowing for not everything to be always done to perfection, Obama was to be commended for having provided the needed stimulae to help the economy from avoiding a deep Depression – and Bernanke as “a student of the Depression,” understood you have to “step in” – so here a bravo from the teacher. Asked if  the real problem is that there is a structural problem that American workers do not have the skills for new Jobs? Diamond said that actually the catch is not that the labor market does not work, but that there is no demand. The government must provide money to the States and local Government to reduce the lay-offs. There must be credit flows and when the financial markets seize-up it gets worse he said. If the government did not act it would have been much worse. Diamond believes the Federal Economy is resilient and will adapt to new situations even in the situation of 10% unemployment. It will take at least another year to start moving.

Third – asked – “what would you do about the Bush Tax Cut?” he said that it is important to preserve some of it, but in the long run we should not make it permanent – we must look into the detail – some will get more taxes and some will get less.

In summary – Peter Diamond is no different from the Goldman-Sachs economists that supported the Clinton and Obama economics so far. That does not make him a favorite of mine, but it cearly made him very much the consensus candidate of the people on this TV program. That clearly should also cause a change of mind of Senator Shelby comes 2011 and a year after the job offer to him from President Obama, Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond could be the third Scandinavia recognized American in the Obama Administration.

Listening to Allawi, we learned that it is almost full 9 months of gestation and pregnant Iraq has not given birth yet to a government. This is the longest time in history of elections that a country stayed without a government – said Fareed. With one major bloc backed by the Shi’a of Iran and the other main bloc hindered by Sunni extremism that re-established its links to Al-Qaida, we can predict a mess by the time the US proceeds with its pull-out. Services are lacking, the economy is stagnant, unemployment – this is the Iraq of today. From Somalia to Pakistan via Palestine  – it is the political environment that breeds extreme forces. Also the Saudis – it is said that they back Sunni hold-outs. This works in the favor of the Shi’i and the peace process is sabotaged. But then, the good politician he is, Allawi says that the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, President Mubarak want to see positive moves – it is only Iran that stands in the way.

All the above set the stage for the panel were Gideon Rose is responsible for having written “HOW TO END WARS.”

Fareed remarked that it is easier not to start new wars then to pull out from existing wars.

Chrystia said that “WARS END BECAUSE COUNTRIES RUN OUT OF MONEY” and Fareed mentioned that no-one remembers now why there was the war in Korea that dragged for one and a half years for no clear reason.

THE CONSENSUS WAS THAT IT WILL BE EASIER TO GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN THEN TO CUT ENTITLEMENTS.

So, back to it – it is all about availability of money – if there is no money you can have no war. The US issue in the November 2nd 2010 elections is unemployment and money – no one taks now of Iraq or Afghanistan. What if there will be a new war situation? and the North Korea developments might pose the US against China.

Let’s see. Fareed and the others agreed that the media has now 25 times more questions on China then Afghanistan – and let us not forget that future global relations will be about who owes what to whom.

WE WILL NOT TALK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS ANYMORE WHEN ADDRESSING CHINA – THERE WILL BE MANY ISSUES WE WILL NOT MENTION ANYMORE.

There will be a change from China being now second power to becoming first power – America will be the second power by 2030.

Pletka supported Obama on Afghanistan. She still believes in power play but Fareed remarked to her that Obama probably did well about Iran – at least judged from the fact that the Israelis do not scream as much s before.” But her answer was that most of Irans neighbors are warried about Iran, and they tell you so the moment the door is closed behind you.

Rose remarked that when America pulls back that is when we find that America gets more desired around the world – as they see America is needed.

Fareed – in korea they told me that they are worried if America pulls out and Pletka hopes we will not be constrained by the economy.

Chrystia remarks that America sees that China is able to do great infrastructure projects. But earlier we saw that nuclear North Korea is going to implode. Next leadership is not built on charisma and is rather a construct with a halfwit at top entrusted to a regent who is the the brother in law, while the sister was just taken out of her home and closed in a general’s uniform.

If South Korea moves in and brings about the logical reunification – what happens to the nuclear weapons? Can China accept a strong united nuclear Korea at its border? Will this lead to a US – China confrontation? Is this part of a post Iraq/Afghanistan US adventurism?

How will the shared Republican/Democrat Congress react to an incident these coming two years?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Self-Inflicted Wounds of 9/11.

Saturday 11 September 2010

by: Melvin A. Goodman, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

www.truth-out.org/the-self-inflicted-wounds-91163139

The attacks on Washington and New York City nine years ago extracted a terrible price in terms of blood and treasure. Unfortunately, the adverse US reaction to 9/11 has also extracted a terrible price with no end in sight. Although al-Qaeda is no longer a sophisticated terrorist organization capable of launching large-scale operations and is merely one of many jihadist groups based in Pakistan, the United States has thrown itself into the briar patch called Afghanistan.

Nearly twice as many Americans have died fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than were lost in the 9/11 attacks. The total cost of these long wars will be in the trillions of dollars. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the cost of oil was less than $25 a barrel; the price reached $140 a barrel in 2008 and, currently, the price is still three times the 2001 levels. The entire national security system has suffered as a result of the wrong-headed actions of the Bush administration in Iraq and the Obama administration in Afghanistan. The Iraq war marked the greatest travesty of all, based on a series of official lies that linked Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden and Iraq to weapons of mass destruction. As we knew seven years ago, there were no such links and no such weapons.

President Barack Obama declared last week that the US combat role in Iraq was over, but Americans continue to die in military action there, and 50,000 American servicemen and women will remain at least until the end of next year. President Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan, but last year he unwisely redefined and expanded it when he bowed to the demands of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Pentagon to send more than 30,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan. The president has defended this action as being part of the struggle against bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but we have been told authoritatively that there are only 50-100 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan. In both wars, we have aligned ourselves with corrupt governments that are dysfunctional.

These wars have been used to dramatically increase the size of the defense and intelligence budgets, which find the United States now spending more than the rest of the world in both categories. The $708 billion defense budget for FY 2011 is higher than at any point in our post-World War II history. In constant dollars it is 16 percent higher than the 1952 Korean War budget peak and 36 percent higher than the 1968 Vietnam War budget peak. Secretary of Defense Gates argues that the budget plan “rebalances” spending by putting an emphasis on the near-term challenges of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and stabilization operations, but the plan makes no effort to prioritize these near-term commitments against funding for long-term commitments. The Pentagon’s role in so-called nation building assures continued high defense budgets, and already we hear demands for an increased military role in Yemen and Somalia.


The defense budget is, in fact, out of control, increasing funding for both near-term and long-term programs and activities. Overall procurement spending would rise by nearly eight percent in the 2011 budget, buying virtually all of the equipment the services want. Historically, the costs to operate and maintain the US military tend to grow at about 2.5 percent a year. Not this year! The defense budget request for Operations and Maintenance is more than $200 billion, which represents an 8.5 percent increase. President Dwight David Eisenhower’s warnings about the military-industrial complex and the need for commanders in chief who actually understand the Pentagon’s clarion calls have never been more germane.

In addition to unprecedented military spending, the Pentagon has gained increased leverage over the $75 billion intelligence community as well as increased influence over the national security and foreign policies of the United States.

As the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency decline in influence, the Pentagon’s role in intelligence, nation building and third world assistance grows significantly. The armed services committees of the Senate and House of Representatives have become sounding boards for the interests of the Pentagon, and the increased absence of military experience on the part of Congressional representatives contributes to an absence of oversight. No genuine Congressional oversight of the intelligence community has been conducted since 9/11, and the Obama administration has made sure that the only internal oversight process at the CIA, the Office of the Inspector General, cannot function in any meaningful way.

The unfortunate creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in the wake of 9/11 has led to a more sclerotic policy process as well as the growth of contractors who have been a drain on the national treasury.

DHS has weakened key government agencies.; it took Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to expose the bureaucratic mess at DHS. Spending on intelligence has tripled since 9/11, marking the rise of a national security state that finds all branches of government, even the judiciary, bowing to the demands of the military and intelligence communities. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration used the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit by former CIA prisoners who were tortured in overseas prisons.

We have had four directors of national intelligence in the past five years, and they have failed to correct the decline in strategic intelligence or strengthen the overall intelligence apparatus. The ability of the Nigerian “Christmas Day” bomber, who should have been a poster boy for the “No-Fly List,” to board a commercial airline in December 2009 demonstrated the confused lines of authority in the intelligence community as well as the failure to learn lessons from 9/11. President Obama has so little confidence in the DNI and CIA that he did not even request a National Intelligence Estimate before making his wrong-headed decisions on Afghanistan. The intelligence community, moreover, has been unable to complete an estimate on Iran’s nuclear program, which was promised nearly two years ago.

George Kennan wrote in his memoirs 60 years ago that it is the “shadows rather than the substance of things that move the hearts, and sway the deeds of statesmen.” In his memoirs, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara finally acknowledged that “wars generate their own momentum and follow the law of unanticipated consequences.” Since 9/11, the national security process has been in a state of decline with a dearth of statesmen and an abundance of shadows on issues dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, insurgency and, now, cyber-war that are swaying the actions of American policymakers.

President Eisenhower warned that the fears of the cold war were distorted and exploited for political advantage. Similar distortions have taken place in the wake of 9/11. As a result, we are on a glide path that has bankrupted US national security policy and threatens to bankrupt its treasury as well.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!

Ambassador Dr. Richard C. Holbrooke, former Chairman of the Board of the Asia Society, and now US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan,  chaired the 8:30 am event at his New York home – the Asia Society – on the day when for 3:00 pm the UN General Assembly scheduled a pledging event for funding Pakistan relief. At the UN, for the US, spoke Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, and I saw on TV  the complete  Asia Society American team sitting in the hall. The team included also Judith A. McHale, US Department of State Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Dr. George Erik Rupp, a theologian, President of the International Rescue Committee and former President of Rice University and Columbia University, and Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.

The opening speaker after Ambassador Holbrooke was Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and the panel included also USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Then there was a list of guests that made their comments, followed by questions from the floor and answers from Administrator Dr. Shah and Ambassador Qureshi.

100819_Holbrooke.jpg

enlarge image
L to R: USAID’s Dr. Rajiv Shah, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke. (Else Ruiz/Asia Society)
Judith A. McHale, a former media head herself ( President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications – 1987 to 2006), and now with the US Government, said that information is critical. “We work with the government of Pakistan to provide the critical information on the ground. It is posted on www.State.gov

Among the guests were Financier George Soros, whose Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations work on the ground in Pakistan – he announced that he adds another $5 million to the funds that his foundation will work with in helping directly civil society in Pakistan,  Christopher MacCormac of the Asian Development Bank, which is leading the effort to assess the flood damage, said much of the economic infrastructure of the area has been destroyed. 2 million ha. of crops were lost and livestock have been devastated, which has taken a large toll on Pakistan farmers. ADB has said that after the immediate contribution of $3 million from the ASia-Pacific Disaster Fund, it would loan Pakistan $2 billion to help the country rebuild, and Pakistan’s rock star turned political activist Salman Ahmad, known as Pakistan’s Bono, or as Holbrooke pointed out, “Bono is the Irish Salman Ahmad,” pointed out a very important topic:

“This is a defining moment in Pakistan,” Ahmad said. “This flood has set back Pakistan in a huge way. Out of 175 million people, 100 million are under 25. Those young people are skeptical, and they feel abandoned by the world. The international community has to win hearts and minds of those 100 million youth in Pakistan.” “If there is a sluggish response the terrorists/extremists win.” He also said that last year he had a concert at the UN to show to the young people in Pakistan that there was hope – he said that he is sure the international community will react positively.

Ambassador Holbrooke said that in the catastrophe there is also an opportunity, that we should not miss -  the people in Pakistan should see that the world is ready to help. He found that these elements of hope in opportunity were missing in the day’s article in The New York Times.

For the US the strategic implications are clear. The US pulled out helicopters from the military effort in order to help in the rescue effort. Will the Taliban take advantage of this? A US transport ship with materials arrived to Karachi, and Japan will now also send helicopters to help in the rescue effort.

The meeting was summarized by The Asia Society and there is also the full tape at -

 asiasociety.org/policy-politics/e…

Further, Ms. Nafis Sadik from the UN, now a Trustee Emeritus of the Asia Society and Chair of the Pakistan Foundation at the Asia Society called for Ramadan giving to the Foundation. Other Pakistan-Americans spoke and told of their own efforts to raise funds for the Pakistan relief program as the State’s capacity to meet the challenge has been overstretched. Today Pakistan , one fifth of its territory submerged, 68 million of its people affected, and 1,600 people dead, crops, animal stock, and infrastructure devastated – Pakistan is calling – humanity is calling they said. We saw a video proving every point. The Pakistan-American Foundation was inspired by Hilary Clinton’s “Pakistani Peacebuilders.”

Oxfam America was joined by “Save the Chidren” NGO  representative Gorel Bogarde said the obvious – what children most need is food, clean drinking water and shelter. She is most concerned for the moment about the outbreak of water-bourne diseases, such as cholera.

We will not repeat here further figures of loss and the size of the calamity. We assume that these are known by our readers by now – we want rather to point out the blunt comments that resulted from the statement by Mr. Soros who linked what happens to our lack of readiness to do something about the human-made climate change. Pakistan is the biggest of the recent disasters he said and we must deal with the root causes he continued. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE ROOT CAUSE FOR ALL THESE RECENT DISASTERS. Mr. Soros spoke of the coincidence of the Himalaya glaciers melting and the monsoons getting stronger at the same time.

He also said “there is a certain amount of fatigue in responding to these disasters… [but] we have to come to terms with the fact that they are in fact connected, that there is climate change.”

At the Q & A part of the program, I asked the last question that was intended to bring the attention back to what Mr. Soros said.
My question was something like – I am with Sustainable Development Media and I wonder what Pakistan thinks about Mr. Soros’ statement about climate change – the reason being that the present calamity will repeat itself, so how does one do reconstruction work that makes sense?

Ambassador Holbrooke said Thank You and addressed the question first to Mr. Rajiv Shah.

When asked if there was a connection between the floods and climate change, USAID’s Shah said “while it’s very hard to attribute any single event to what we’re doing to our global environment it is very clear that that trend is leading to a greater number of large hurricanes, a greater number of floods, hotter and dryer conditions in places that are dependent on weather and rainfall for agriculture, and it’s making it very difficult for the least resilient, the most lower income communities of the world to survive.”

We heard from Mr. Christopher MacCormac that after the Earth Quake of 2005 the rebuilding of houses was done according to higher standards – so what we need here in the response to the present calamity is also to build better – but he did not specify, neither did Mr. Holbrooke. This, with the understanding that the increased monsoon floods,  joined with the melting of the Himalaya Glaciers, is indeed not a one time shot – but the beginning of a trend – leaves us with very bad premonitions about the future of Pakistan and other low lying lands of the region. This  has  clearly left me thinking about what means building better? Are we going to take into account these new phenomena resulting from global use of fossil fuels when going from the immediate reaction to the suffering from the floods to the longer range rebuilding stage? This is clearly an area that will be written up much more in the foreseeable future.

Ambassador Qurashi was asked by Mr. Holbrooke to react to the climate change implications. Are there additional run-off from the Himalayas?

The answer included: The Glaciers melt and what we have in Pakistan are Monsoon water plus glacier melts combined. We have above normal moisture.

He also said that “There are local NGOs in Pakistan that help push back the extremists and you have shown the world that you are a helping Nation.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

rom Kerry, Peggy <kerryp@state.gov>
date Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 10:55 AM
subject Statement by Ambassador Rice Commemorating World Humanitarian Day 0n 8-19-10.

USUN PRESS RELEASE #163                                                        Aug. 18, 2010

Statement by Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, commemorating World Humanitarian Day, August 19, 2010

Seven years ago, a truck bomb exploded beneath the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, killing 22 people and wounding more than 100, including the UN envoy, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, and three American civilians. On this second annual World Humanitarian Day, the United States remembers the victims of the Canal Hotel bombing and others like them: citizens who have given their expertise, devotion, and, all too often, their lives providing relief for the suffering. We also recognize the growing depth and complexity of humanitarian challenges and honor the efforts of today’s brave humanitarians to meet them. On this day of remembrance, we call upon all nations and parties to assist and protect the individuals who work to provide humanitarian relief, wherever it is needed.

Today in Pakistan’s flood-ravaged regions, more than 14 million people urgently need help. The United States has already provided approximately $90 million to assist Pakistanis in harm’s way. U.S. helicopters have evacuated 5,912 people and delivered 717,713 pounds of relief supplies. Still, the scale of the catastrophe defies imagination; it requires the efforts of countless humanitarians and aid organizations to assist the homeless, the hungry, and the sick. Cash contributions help these organizations meet the needs of humanitarians on the ground, and can be transferred quickly. Texting the word “SWAT” to 50555 directs a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency for tents and emergency aid to displaced families. At www.interaction.org, visitors may access a list of organizations accepting cash donations for flood relief.

On World Humanitarian Day, the United States also recognizes the efforts of aid workers in Haiti, including those who tragically lost their lives in January’s earthquake. At once, the disaster devastated Haiti’s fragile foundations and killed many people who were best qualified to help Haitians rebuild. The expertise of the humanitarians there is indispensable. We grieve with the families of those who were lost.

Across the world this year, aid workers risked great danger by responding to environmental disaster. But the United States also notes with profound alarm the rise in premeditated violence targeting aid workers – including the recent murder of ten NGO workers, six of them Americans, by the Taliban in Northern Afghanistan.  Acts such as these shock the conscience and further energize efforts to defeat violent extremism, but their numbers continue to rise: from 65 victims of serious security incidents in 1999, for example, to 278 victims in 2009. In light of these terrible acts, we condemn the persistence of insidious rhetoric by political actors who portray aid workers as outsiders representing foreign interests, governments, and ideologies. As the United Nations has noted, most humanitarians come from the countries in which they work. They are inspired by the principle of impartiality that guides all aid work, and come from a variety of nationalities, ethnicities, and religious communities. We join the global community in rejecting attacks on humanitarians, and rededicating ourselves to ensuring that aid can be delivered without fear.

Assistance to humanitarians is both a moral issue and a practical imperative for global security. Yet even when aid workers are buttressed by supportive national governments and parties to conflict, their work carries grave risks. Amid flood waters in Pakistan, humanitarians are called to address hardship on a scale that is nearly without precedent, and serve bravely despite facing the very same dangers themselves. On this and all days, we are grateful for their work and we honor their enduring pursuit of security, dignity, and hope for all people.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: K N Vajpai (Climate Himalaya Initiative) <knvajpai@gmail.com>

August 19, 2010

Climate Change Updates from Himalayan Mountains on Various Climate Change Issues.

For your information, the Climate Himalaya Initiative www.climatehimalaya.net has a dedicated news portal chimalaya.org/ , that updates the Climate Change related news on regular basis from Himalayan Mountains.

Those interested in Climate Change related issues and Mountains, can get regular updates by subscribing or becoming member.

The ongoing issues includes; Pakistan Floods, Leh Cloud Burst, Climate Change Modeling, Domestic Actions by countries, Actions by Asian countries, Cancun Climate Summit, Criticism of IPCC, etc…..!

There are options for subscription, membership, tweeting, facebook, among others….!

You can visit and explore at www.climatehimalaya.net

from – K N Vajpai
Convener and Theme Leader

Climate Himalaya Initiative
www.climatehimalaya.net
chimalaya.org
C/O Prakriti a mountain environment group
P.O. Silli, Agastyamuni, Rudraprayag
Uttarakhand, India PIN 246421
info@climatehimalaya.net
knvajpai@prakriti-india.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The ordeal in Pakistan reminded us of the -

Climate Himalaya Initiative.

An Initiative Towards Sustainable Development in Himalayan Mountains.
{This is linked to the reality of melting glaciers and increased severity of monsoon rains. Understanding the underlying causes of the present calamity is needed in order to go for long term help to the region. Talking of return to previous lives is not realistic.}

June 2, 2010

Himalayan countries must set aside their differences and  collaborate on science in order to avoid a common water crisis, says a report.

Environmental pressures, including those from climate change, could have unprecedented effects on the livelihoods of millions of people in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region, according to the study, published by the UK-based Humanitarian Futures Programme, the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, and China Dialogue. Yet scientific research is either non-existent or, where it exists, is not shared beyond a country’s borders, said the report, ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’. And scientists are failing to communicate what they do know to the public and policymakers, it added.

The Hindu-Kush Himalaya region provides water for one fifth of the world’s population including countries stretching from Pakistan to Myanmar. “This region is a black hole for data,” said Isabelle Hilton, editor of China Dialogue and a contributor to the report.

“Managing this water requires knowledge and cooperation,” she said at the launch of the report last week (19 May) in the United Kingdom. But the region “lacks the institutions and in some cases the political will to address issues cooperatively”. History, diverse languages and cultures, and military conflicts are behind the lack of a concerted effort to study the waters, she said, and now “a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is needed” to catch up. But this is not high on the public agenda, she said.

Stephen Edwards, an earth scientist and research manager at the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, called for more high-quality, peer-reviewed data. “We need to understand problems before we know how to manage them,” he said. But science itself is not enough, he added, “scientists have to interact with economists and policymakers — we need proper dialogue”.

Andreas Schild, director general of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, agreed with the report’s conclusions.”Water is one of the most important resources,” he said. “Traditionally there has been no free exchange of information on water discharge and this is practically still the case today. “It is not just a concern between countries, but even within countries, as between the individual states of India.

“Researchers in all concerned countries are very interested in having cross-border collaboration and exchange of information,” he told  SciDev.Net. “But when it comes to cooperation on concrete issues at the level of government institutions, we face a completely different situation, where agreements with various other partners in the country are required.”If you want to close the knowledge gap here in the Himalayas then you have to strengthen the institutions [there].”

Otherwise, short-term foreign development funds mean there is no consistent long-term data and continuity in research by the institutions based in the region, said Schild. But he added that European organisations, with “Europe-centric” research methods, must share the blame.

“A lot of research conducted on this region by European universities and other institutions is often not shared. Sometimes we even get the impression that they are only looking for a partner in the South to use as Sherpas.”

Link to full ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’ report
[2MB]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Zardari’s Katrina.

Why is Pakistan’s president junketing while his people drown?

BY FATIMA BHUTTO, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE, AUGUST 4, 2010.

 www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/20…

View a slideshow of Pakistan’s great flood.

This week, Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, boarded a private Gulfstream Jet along with his family and his hundreds-large entourage to visit the European countries included on the president’s grand tour.

Yesterday, Zardari — who was married to my aunt, the late Benazir Bhutto, before her 2007 murder — landed in London. As soon as the plane touched down, the president and his Very Important coterie were chauffeured in a dozen luxury vehicles to a five-star hotel where the president will be staying in a £7,000 ($11,160) per night Royal Suite.

His welcome, however, was less than royal. On the drive to the hotel, protesters held placards reading “Zardari King of Thieves,” “Zardari 100% Pure Corruption,” and “GO Zardari GO.” While Zardari was schmoozing with his cronies in luxe London hotels, Pakistan was reeling from the deadliest floods to hit the country in 80 years. In short, it looks like Zardari’s Katrina.

More than 3 million people in the northwestern region of Pakistan have now been affected by the floods. Parts of the north are facing terminal food shortages even as they are inaccessible to relief workers. The U.N. World Food Program says that 1.8 million will urgently need something to eat in coming weeks. The death toll has risen steadily in recent days to more than 1,400 people. About another million have lost their homes.

The news is also unlikely to get any better: Officials now say that the waters are expected to hit Punjab and Sindh provinces, Pakistan’s food-producing regions. New flood warnings are still being issued, and the country is bracing for further monsoon downpours.

Zardari takes a lot of overseas trips — so many that one local TV pundit estimated somewhat anecdotally last year that Richard Holbrooke, U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the “AfPak” region, had spent more time in Pakistan than Zardari had recently. But the timing of this particular visit has angered not only his subjects but also his hosts. Two prominent Asian Britons refused to meet the visiting head of state. Khalid Mahmood, a member of parliament, vigorously condemned Zardari’s decision to visit London. “A lot of people are dying,” he told the press. “He should be [in Pakistan] to try to support the people, not swanning around in the UK and France.” Lord Ahmed, a labor MP, continued that Zardari had a responsibility to be “looking after people, not [be] over here.”

Yet the protests seem to have fallen on deaf ears — which really shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched the Zardari government in action. The floods are just the latest, most tragic example of how inept the Pakistani state truly is. The inundation was predictable; Pakistan suffers monsoon rains every year at exactly the same time. But in a country — and with a president — so endemically corrupt,  dealing with the entirely preventable, whether terrorism or natural disasters, has become impossible. There is simply no will, and more importantly no money, to spend on the Pakistani people. The country’s coffers are constantly being diverted to more pressing programs — or pockets, for that matter. Before he came to office, Zardari was facing corruption charges in Switzerland, Spain, and Britain. (As president, he withdrew Pakistan’s cooperation with the latter two countries’ courts; his presidential immunity prevented a Swiss case from re-opening.)

And thus the tragedy unfolds: There are no emergency evacuation plans for natural disasters, nor is there money for institutions that could help victims of such crises. What there is money for — almost $600,000 — are such programs as the Martyr Benazir Bhutto Income Support Scheme, a cult of personality initiative named after the president’s late wife. Those who sign up receives meager cash handouts and find themselves on the president’s ruling party’s election rolls — which themselves received more government funds than two whole federal departments of Pakistan put together.

Meanwhile, if rumors in the Pakistani press are right, Zardari’s European tour is even more cynical than it already seems. The trip is meant to kickstart the president’s young son’s political career. That launch has to take place overseas to avoid the inevitably hostile reactions such a dynastic coronation would draw back in Pakistan.

Speculation has it that Zardari’s son Bilawal, a recent college graduate who is already co-chairman along with Zardari of their political party, will proclaim himself the future leader of Pakistan to a select audience in Birmingham on August 7.

Pakistan’s The News newspaper summed up popular sentiment in a laundry list of questions posed to the country’s High Commission in London. “Who is paying for the buses and coaches being booked to bring people to the Birmingham rally?” the paper asks. “Why will the president not cancel his visit?” And the most crucial question: Shouldn’t the money for the trip be better spent on the flood victims? In response, the Pakistani High Commission issued a one-line blanket response:  ”This is an official visit and procedures for official visits are being followed.”

Pakistan can ill afford a president who prioritizes his personal political future over the lives of millions of his citizens. We have always known in Pakistan that the rest of the world’s attention comes at a tremendously high cost. Yet we seem to keep paying

=============================================================================


Bilawal Bhutto Zardari  The Cool Image  Party Boy.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari The Cool Image Party Boy.

David Cameron To Hold Talks With Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari

Pakistan president Zardari has informal dinner at Chequers prior to formal discussions after period of diplomatic tension David Cameron poses for photographers with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and his children Asifa Bhutto Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/EPA David Cameron will today hold formal talks with Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari,…   Kosmix News

Read more: www.kosmix.com/topic/Bilawal_Bhutto_Zardari#ixzz0vqTsl6Z6

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Friday, July 23, 2010, The Japan Times online.

 search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/eo20…

India ignoring Washington as it woos Iran.

 

By HARSH V. PANT
Special to The Japan Times
LONDON — India and Iran have decided to give new direction to their bilateral ties that have been dormant for some time now.

Ever since the United States and India started to transform their relationship by changing the global nuclear order to accommodate India, Iran has been a litmus test that India has had to pass from time to time to the satisfaction of U.S. policymakers. India’s traditionally close ties with Iran have become a factor influencing a U.S.-India partnership.

India-Iran ties have been termed an “axis,” a “strategic partnership” and even an “alliance.” However, the American focus on India-Iran ties has been highly disproportionate to the realities of this relationship, a result more of the exigencies of domestic politics than of regional political realities.

Until recently, when the choice emerged between Iran and the U.S., India would side with the U.S. But the Obama administration’s callous attitude toward India is pushing India toward Iran, and that could have grave geopolitical consequences. Ignoring Washington, India recently signed several agreements with Iran, including an air services agreement and a memorandum of understanding on new and renewable energy aimed at increasing trade from $15 billion to $30 billion.

Economic cooperation in priority areas such as oil, gas, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and textiles is key to this endeavor. Plans are afoot for greater maritime cooperation; Iran has already joined the Indian Navy’s annual initiative, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium. Moreover, the two sides have decided to hold “structured and regular consultations” on the issue of Afghanistan.

America’s Afghanistan policy has caused consternation in Indian policymaking circles. A fundamental disconnect has emerged between U.S. and Indian interests with regard to Af-Pak. The Obama administration has systematically ignored Indian interests in crafting its Af-Pak priorities. While actively discouraging India from assuming a higher profile in Afghanistan, for fear of offending Pakistan, the U.S. has failed to persuade Pakistan to take Indian concerns more seriously.

While the U.S. may have no vital interest in determining who actually governs in Afghanistan — so long as Afghan territory is not used to launch attacks on U.S. soil — India does. The Taliban — good or bad — oppose India in fundamental ways. The consequence of abandoning the goal of establishing a functioning Afghan state and a moderate Pakistan will be greater pressure on Indian security. To preserve its interests in this milieu, India is now coordinating more closely with states like Russia and Iran.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit earlier this year, India sought Russian support in countering what it views as a U.S.-Pakistan axis in Afghanistan. India is making a concerted move to reach out to Tehran.

India’s deputy national security adviser, Alok Prasad, was in Iran a few weeks back trying to seek Iranian support in stabilizing the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, too, has held discussions with his Iranian counterpart, especially concerning the West’s plans for reintegrating “good Taliban” gathers momentum.

Over the last several years, India has repeatedly voted in favor of International Atomic Energy Agency resolutions condemning Iran’s nuclear behavior. Though the Indian prime minister has been categorical in asserting that a nuclear Iran is not in Indian interests, the Indian government has been keen in recent months to emphasize that it favors dialogue and diplomacy as means of resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis. India has underlined that unilateral sanctions on Iran will hurt India, including sanctions by individual countries that restrict investments by third countries in Iran’s energy sector. As Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao recently made clear, India is “justifiably concerned that the extra-territorial nature of certain unilateral sanctions recently imposed by individual countries, with their restrictions on investment by third countries in Iran’s energy sector, can have a direct and adverse impact on Indian companies and more importantly, on our [India's] energy security and our attempts to meet the development needs of our people.”

The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project has also been on the agenda as India remains keen to gain access to Iranian energy resources. Not only has Pakistan signed the deal with Iran, China is starting to make its presence felt in Iran in a big way. It is now Iran’s largest trading partner and is undertaking massive investments in Iran, rapidly occupying the space vacated by western companies.

India is right to feel restless about its marginalization with respect to Iran despite civilizational ties with the country. The problems with the IPI pipeline remain difficult to overcome. India has differences over the pricing of the gas even as ensuring the security of the pipeline in restive Balochistan makes it difficult for India to accept the deal in its present version.

Though problems remain in India-Iran relations, the latest overtures by New Delhi toward Tehran underscore the importance that India attaches to ties with Iran. That this is happening at a time when there has been a significant cooling of U.S.-India ties makes it even more significant. With the Obama administration’s credibility in India at an all-time low, New Delhi is left with few options, which include engaging with states that Washington doesn’t like.

Harsh V. Pant teaches at King’s College London.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Excerpts from “At UN, Of Africa Days and Al Qaeda Evenings, Burundi and Bacardi Gold.”
By Matthew Russell Lee.

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 — With small countries in Africa dominating the Security Council’s July 15 schedule … one of the four countries already on the “Peace Building Commission” (PBC) agenda, Burundi, recently had a one party election marred by tossed grenades and now the threat of attack by Al Shabab.

Burundi has soldiers in Somalia {and this is the reason why it has become fair game to Al Shabab}. Inner City Press spoke this week with the UN’s envoy to Burundi Charles Petrie. He put a positive spin on the one party election, saying it was not as violent as it might have been.

Petrie said the opposition is weak, and the UN must play the counter-balance that civil society and opposition parties would in other countries. He should know: he was thrown out of Myanmar by the government, then served for a time in a humanitarian role on, but not in, Somalia. He was in the French military …. The Council should have heard from him but didn’t.

The same might be said of the UN’s new envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga. He went into the Council’s quiet room on July 14, but was not heard from by the Council as a whole. He met with the Permanent Five, one by one. He stopped to speak to Inner City Press, about including Al Shabab on the Al Qaeda sanctions list under Council Resolution 1267 in the wake of the Kampala bombings {This again, because Uganda has military forces for peace Keeping in Somalia.}.

Later on July 14, at an ill-attended UK reception on climate change in the General Assembly lobby, Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant about 1267 and the Shabab. He pointed out that they are already on the Somalia sanctions list, and who knew who is or is not truly affiliated with Al Qaeda. An Ethiopian diplomat added, not surprisingly, they are “definitely” with Al Qaeda.

But the Council sticks to its schedule. Guinea Bissau was the topic for July 15. The coup leader now heads the military; the UN “took note” of it. A Presidential Statement is to be drafted in the coming days.

Still and all, the Permanent Representatives of France, Japan and Mexico strode into the Council just after 10 a.m..

{Liberia is now becoming the fifth small African Country on the PBC operating table.}
* * *
{And further at the UN} - In Wake of Uganda Bombing, UNSC Statement Does Not Assign Blame, Even After Al Shabab Takes Credit.

UNITED NATIONS, July 12, updated — A day after the Kampala double bombing which killed more than 60 people, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yet to issue any kind of statement. In front of the Security Council on Monday morning, one non-permanent member’s spokesperson wondered under what agenda item the Council might issue a statement: Somalia?

Another spokesperson said moves were afoot for the issuance of a press statement, later in the day. Would it say who is responsible? After the bombing of trains in Madrid, the Council issued a statement blaming it on ETA. When Al Qaeda later took responsibility, the Council’s statement was never retracted.

Here, nearly all speakers including Uganda authorities are pointing the finger at Islamist Somali insurgents. They had vowed retaliation for the Ugandan and Burundian AMISOM peacekeepers’ shelling of a market in Mogadishu. Others pointed out the targeting of “Ethiopian Village,” given antagonism between irridentist Somalia and Ethiopia. Motive is certainly there– and, the media pointed out, opportunity.

As the draft text of the press statement was distributed to members, a Council diplomat told Inner City Press it did not assign blame, only the Council’s “standard terrorist attack language.” Might that change?

Update of 3:20 p.m. — Nigeria’s Ambassador, the Council’s president for July, read out a four paragraph statement. As Inner City Press predicted this morning, it did not assign blame. But in the interim, the spokesman for Al Shabab has taken credit for the bombings, saying they were months in the planning.

Inner City Press asked Nigeria’s Ambassador on camera why blame was not ascribed, and if this might not discourage countries from sending peacekeepers to Somalia. She declined the first, and to the second question said “there is a peace to keep in Somalia.”

Afterward, Inner City Press was told that Al Shabab’s confession came after the statement was circulated and concurrence obtained. They didn’t want to delay it. But wouldn’t it have been stronger if more specific? An Ethiopian diplomat spoke about Eritrea. If ten Taliban are coming off the 1267 Al Qaeda sanctions list, does that mean there’s room for Al-Shabab?

In Kampala, the Ethiopian Village?

Incoming UN envoy on Somalia, Tanzania’s former Ambassador Mahiga, spoke to Inner City Press at the UN in New York last week, including about the peacekeepers’ use of “long range artillery” and the civilian casualties caused. Will Mahiga take this so-called “collateral damage” more seriously than Ould Abdallah did?

———————————–

From the above we see clearly that when it come to the need to blame an Islamic insurgency, the UN is very slow at pointing a finger. There clearly must internal UN be reasons for that.

Now let us see what Fared Zakaria and his high-brow participants in his circle of policy reviewers think about the situation:

His program included Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times Bureau Chief in East Africa Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya) who saw the situation on location in Somalia, and Ken Menkhaus of Davison College in New Jersey, who served as UN Political Advisor in Somalia 1993-94.
 www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/fareed.z…

 www.cnn.com/video/#/video/podcast…

—————-

THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH

Chaos and lawlessness rule in Mogadishu, Somalia. And Al Shabab, a Somali affiliate of Al Qaeda, is exploiting that power vacuum and exporting terror.

Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombing of World Cup viewers in Uganda and is practicing an extreme form of Islamic justice.

What exactly is Al Shabab doing in Somalia and what can we expect next? Is there anything the U.S. or its allies can do to help the country that is called “the world’s worst failed state?”

—————

Somalia is a country of 6-8 million people and at the end of the cold war they were the most militarized country in the world. Now there are 1-1.5 million people living outside Somalia and the country was destroyed – not by bombings but by small caliber guns. There is no central authority in the country and it has become ideal terrain for an Al Qaeda base.

In 1992 the First President Bush had there 20,000 troops and left to avoid worst disaster leaving behind total vacuum.

The locals are incapable of establishing a functioning government. Foreign funds that go to an interim government are dissipated but nevertheless there is a will on the outside to view this government as a transition – the question transition to what?

The Al Shabab is widely unpopular but viewed as an alternative to useless government. This Al Shabab practices the most tuthless of Islam justice – like the cutting off of arms for suspected thieves.

In this second level of vacuum move in the foreigners – be these the Al Qaeda people from Pakistan who want to see if they can move here as a new home base, and some more benevolent home comers from among the Somali diaspora that actually are ready to provide their skills in building government at locality levels like cities. These are very welcome by the elders who are ready to back their efforts with the elder prestige.

This latter is the hope – but this is a bottom up government – and who will say that this will lead to a National government in its present borders? Would it not make sense to let them rule according to the ethnic divisions of the country and resulting in two or three smaller States that can then go their own ways? Jeffret Gettleman has seen this function on the ground in several locations where the situation is thus much better then in the country at large.

The importance of this goes well beyond Somalia and the case that came to mind in this CNN/GPS program was Iraq.

With the Iraqi elections held 133 days ago and a Parliament that todate has met only for the grandiose time of 18 minutes, and with the upcoming holidays, the evidence that nothing else can be expected before September and the US troops starting by then to leave the country, is Iraq going to be next Somalia?

So – the conclusion is that government can be built only bottom up if the idea is to reach up to democracy – and then why insist on having a non-unified country when the only evidence at hand is that the people actually hate each other and belong to various groups with the only semblance of unity is the unity of cleptocrats?

This disaster of Somalia may turn out to speak not only of Africa, but also of Iraq and why not of Afghanistan?

These problem go well beyond the limited scope we started out with.

—————————
 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

Somalia Centre Stage Ahead of AU Summit.
Joshua Kyalimpa -   ipsterraviva.netKAMPALA, Jul 18 (IPS) – The African Union summit opens in Kampala on July 19 amid heightened security following twin bomb attacks a week earlier. The official theme of child and maternal mortality will likely be overshadowed by discussion of the AU’s mission in Somalia.

The blasts, which killed at least 74 people and wounded 82 others watching the World Cup finals on big screens at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala’s Kabalagala neighbourhood, and at the Kyaddondo rugby grounds. The attacks came just two days after a spokesperson for Somalia’s al-Shabaab group, which is fighting against the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for control of the country, said Uganda would be targeted for its role in the conflict.

Questioning military solutions
Some analysts argue that a troop surge will achieve little, pointing to the difficulties faced by Ethiopia. Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia in December 2006 to push back the Union of Islamic Courts, an Islamist group with ambitions to establish sharia law in Somalia, from which al-Shabaab subsequently emerged.

But while the UIC’s bid for control was halted, this larger force was unable to fully capture the capital or impose itself in the countryside; the Ethiopians pulled out and were replaced by the Ugandan-dominated AMISOM.

Makerere University political scientist Yassin Olum believes it is time for Uganda to review its position in Somalia, with a view to withdrawing.

“We have to ask ourselves why other African countries are not sending troops to Somalia. Maybe they have realised it’s a hot potato or they view it as an internal matter,” says Olum.

Targeting the AU mission in Somalia

Uganda contributes the majority of the 5,000 troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has helped the TFG maintain a tenuous hold over parts of the capital, Mogadishu, but little more.

We are sending a message to every country who is willing to send troops to Somalia that they will face attacks on their territory,” said al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamoud Rage following the attacks. He added that Burundi, the second-largest troop contributor to AMISOM after Uganda, “will face similar attacks if they don’t withdraw.”

Bahoku Barigye, spokesperson for AMISOM, told IPS that the mission’s mandate should be expanded from peace-keeping – its terms of reference originate in a U.N. resolution authorising a “training and protection” mission – to one of peace enforcement, for which more soldiers would be needed.

“We have troops guarding the airport, the presidential palace, the port and other key installations this leaves us with few men to defend the civilians,” says Barigye.

Security personnel in Uganda have so far made 20 arrests; two men have also been detained in neighbouring Kenya in connection with the bombings.

Despite previous commitments by members of the African Union to contribute to a force of 20,000 peacekeepers, there are only about 5,000 troops in the Somali capital in support of the weak transitional federal government. Over 3,000 of these are from Uganda, the rest are from Burundi.

Uganda undeterred

At a Jul. 14 meeting called after the Kampala bombings, the Inter Government Authority on Development, a regional bloc of countries in the Horn of Africa, agreed to send an additional 2,000 soldiers.

Uganda has indicated it will send in more of its own troops if other countries are not willing.

Addressing a news conference at his private home in Ntugamo, western Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni said, “It was a very big mistake on their side; we shall

Development goals overshadowed by conflict?
African civil society has voiced concerns that the AU summit to be held in Kampala from Jul. 17-19 could be dominated by the Somalia question.

The official theme of the summit is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” but consideration of this development goal seems likely to suffer the same fate as previous themes on water and sanitation and promotion of agriculture: a formal declaration will be made, but the summit will be dominated by al-Shabaab’s bombing of Uganda, the leading contributor of troops to the AU’s mission in Somalia.

Civil society organisations organised a forum in Kampala ahead of the summit to enable civil society, ordinary citizens and key stake holders deliberate on the key issues and demand action, but now doubt they will get a platform to present their case to African leaders.

l deal with the authors of this crime.” He is also reported to have assured the U.S., which takes an active interest in Somali Islamist activity, that Uganda would not try to disentangle itself from the conflict in Somalia.

The U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, said, “We believe the Uganda mission is more important than ever now.”

The ambassador said the U.S. planned to increase assistance to Uganda and AMISOM.

Political scientist Yassin Olum says the Ugandan president needed more time to reflect on the matter before making statements.

“What this means is that we are no longer neutral in the conflict and we are fighting on the side of the Transitional Federal Government which is dangerous. This is not conventional warfare where you need more troops to defeat the enemy.”

Fred Bwire, a Kampala city resident, voices the attitude of many ordinary Ugandans towards the Somali mission. “What are we doing there? Our people are being killed for nothing. Why aren’t Kenyans – who are neighbors with Somalia – bothered?”

Hussein Kyanjo, an opposition member of parliament, believes the main beneficiary of Uganda’s continued involvement in Somalia is President Museveni himself. “He knows that the United States of America opposes the al-Shabaab and so he fights U.S. enemies to blind them to his dictatorial tendencies.”

Amama Mbabazi, Uganda’s minister for security, responds that Kyanjo forgets that Uganda was suffered terrorist attacks long before it sent troops to Somalia.

“The Allied Democratic Forces – another rebel outfit with links to Al-Qaeda – killed many people in the past and my friend Kyanjo seems to have forgotten this.”

In their struggle against the government, the Islamist ADF rebels attacked police posts, schools and trade centres in the west of the country beginning in 1996; in 1998, it carried out several bombings in Kampala, killing five and wounding six others. Military action by the Ugandan army largely destroyed the group the following year.

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July 21, 2010 as per official UN NEWS we are not convinced the UN has the faintest idea of what to do about Somalia beyond calling for wasting some more money on it:

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

21 July, 2010 =========================================================================

UN SOUNDS THE ALARM AS DIRE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION CONTINUES TO GRIP SOMALIA .

As Somalia remains in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, it is vital to ensure adequate funding to assist the 3.2 million people – or more than 40 per cent of the population – who rely on international aid, a senior United Nations aid official stressed today.

UN agencies and their partners have so far received only 56 per cent of the $600 million needed to fund critical areas such as health, water and sanitation, nutrition and livelihood support in Somalia, which is recovering from drought and years of chaos and is also in the throes of ongoing violence.

“My major concern at this time of the year is that there is a renewed emphasis on ensuring that we do address the funding gaps in Somalia to help us to sustain the achievements that can continue to be made in one of the world’s most difficult and acute humanitarian crises,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia.

He told a news conference in New York that the situation in the Horn of Africa nation is characterized by severe child malnutrition, loss of livestock and livelihoods, as well as ongoing displacement owing to continued clashes between Government forces and Islamist militant groups.

The conflict has led to Somalia being one of the countries with the highest number of uprooted people in the world – an estimated 1.4 million displaced within the country and almost 595,000 living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

“Conflict is the driving cause behind displacement and most of it comes from Mogadishu,” he said, noting that 20,000 people were displaced in the capital in June, and an estimated 200,000 people have been displaced from the city this year.

In addition, fighting in Mogadishu since March this year has led to more than 3,000 conflict-related casualties.

“What I genuinely hope is that we try to find some way of reducing the impact of this conflict on the civilian population and all parties need to find more peaceful means of settling their disputes,” he said, adding that where that is not possible, to at least avoid the considerable collateral damage on civilians.

Despite the ongoing crisis, Mr. Bowden noted that the situation in Somalia “isn’t all bad news,” although it is one of the most complicated humanitarian situations the UN is facing.

Some major achievements include keeping the country free of polio amid a resurgence of the disease in a number of other African countries. This is thanks to the provision of clean water to 1.3 million people, as well as vaccination campaigns that were carried out, even in volatile areas.

“We are able to make progress in terms of managing humanitarian operations in extremely difficult circumstances, which include control of large parts of the country by rebel groups and active conflict in other parts,” he noted.

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And Inner City Press from the UN continues its bleak reporting from the UN that really shows again and again that the UN will not lead the Somalis out of their misery.

See - www.innercitypress.com/un1soa0721…

Killing of Civilians by UN Supported Troops in Somalia Admitted But Not Acted On.

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, July 21 — In the wake of the World Cup finals bombing in Uganda, there has been even less discussion of the civilians being killed in Mogadishu by the peacekeeping mission which the UN is supporting. But a memo leaked from within that AMISOM mission notes continued firing into civilian neighborhoods.
Inner City Press asked UN Humanitarian coordinator Mark Bowden whether there is a special responsibility on the UN to ensure that the troops to which it provides logistical support through its UNSOA office are not killing civilians. “Yes there is,” Bowden said, adding that he’s “had discussions” with Ambassador Diarra of the African Union about “reducing civilian casualties.” ………..  it continues

On Child Soldiers Supported by UN in Somalia, UNSC Will Respond After 3 Years.

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 16, updated — Days after the UN-supported Somali Transitional Federal Government’s use of child soldiers was widely exposed, the UN Security Council’s lack of seriousness on the issue was on display on Wednesday. Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa presided over a day-long series of speeches about children and armed conflict. At noon, Inner City Press asked her what she and the Council would do about their support of the TFG, which uses children as young as nine and 12 to wield AK-47s in Mogadishu.

This has not been raised to the Security Council, Secretary Espinosa replied, not even to the Working Group. …… more

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