links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter



Posted on on August 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

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

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


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


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.


Posted on on August 12th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

our point of view we expressed in:

CNN has freed us from Sunday House Arrest by canceling the Fareed Zakaria GPS show.

Posted on on August 12th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

We are disturbed by the journalist from Pakistan, living in the US,  who felt he had to mention that what he clearly deemed as a transgression was done by someone born in India. In our own and very original posting we expressed our feeling that Fareed’s mishap is used by opponents of his views in order to sideline him when his opinions are most in demand.


CNN host and Time magazine contributing editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria was suspended by his employers on Friday after he acknowledged copying material for a recent column he wrote about gun control from another writer.

Time said it was suspending Zakaria for one month, “pending further review,” and CNN said it had also suspended him for his journalistic misstep. CNN put no time limit on its suspension.

The sanctions came after Zakaria issued a public apology for borrowing from a recent New Yorker essay about gun control for a column he wrote for Time this week.

“Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 23rd issue of the New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake,” Zakaria wrote in his apology.

“It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault.”

Ali Zelenko, a spokesman for Time, said the magazine accepted Zakaria’s apology but felt compelled to act against him because he had violated its standards for all columnists.

“Their work must not only be factual but original; their view must not only be their own but their words as well,” Zelenko said.

CNN said its suspension of Zakaria was due to the fact that he wrote a blog post on that was similar to his Time column and included “similar unattributed excerpts.”

Indian-born Zakaria studied at Yale and Harvard, was managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine and then editor of Newsweek International for ten years before moving to CNN in 2010 to host Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Friday’s public embarrassment for Zakaria followed a recent scandal involving New Yorker staff writer Jonah Lehrer, who resigned on July 30.

Lehrer, a science journalist and author, quit after admitting that he made up quotes from legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in his book “Imagine: How Creativity Works.”


In the past Dawn seemed to have a positive opinion of Mr. Zakaria:

Fareed Zakaria to return Anti-Defamation League award over ground zero mosque.

and – Here’s a statement the Anti-Defamation League released yesterday in response to Zakaria’s announcement:


New York, NY, August 6, 2010 … In response to Fareed Zakaria returning an award that was presented to him in 2005, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was “saddened, stunned and somewhat speechless” by his decision.

Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and a Newsweek columnist, was presented the League’s Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize in 2005 for his journalism and championing the values of the First Amendment. In a letter received today, Mr. Zakaria indicated that while he was “delighted” to receive the award then, he could not “in good conscience hold onto the award” after learning of the League’s decision to urge the relocation of the planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero.

“I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision to return the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize you accepted in 2005,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote in a letter responding to Mr. Zakaria.

As someone I greatly respect for engaging in discussion and dialogue with an open mind, I would have expected you to reach out to me before coming to judgment,” Mr. Foxman added.

Foxman said he hoped that Mr. Zakaria “will come to see that ADL acted appropriately” and would reclaim the award bestowed upon him.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.


Posted on on March 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

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.



– 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.


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.


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


Johannes CHUDOBA (Strategic Planning Adviser, UNO)

Begrüßung und Moderation:
Jan POSPISIL (oiip)


Donnerstag, 29. März 2012
18.00 Uhr

Ort: oiip

Berggasse 7
1090 Wien


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



Posted on on March 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Israel, Iran, Jordan and Turkey join forces for multimillion-dollar science project.

Each of the four countries has pledged $5 million toward the SESAME facility, which is being built near Amman.

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring, Published  15.03.2012 by HAARETZ of Israel.…

In an extraordinary act of regional cooperation, Israel, Iran, Jordan and Turkey are to jointly provide funds for a particle accelerator as part of their commitment to a UNESCO-sponsored scientific project, it was announced on Wednesday.

Each of the four countries has pledged $5 million toward the SESAME facility, which is being built near Amman. SESAME stands for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East.

According to the UNESCO website, the project aims to “foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighboring countries (and prevent or reverse brain drain ) by enabling world-class research,” and to “build scientific and cultural bridges between neighboring countries.”

The project is slated to go online in 2015.

Egypt was originally meant to be one of the sponsors, but the past year’s instability there made it difficult to secure its commitment. From Wednesday’s announcement, it appears that Iran is taking Egypt’s place.

The $20 million isn’t enough to cover the accelerator project. Another $15 million is being sought from Europe and the United States. The SESAME center will ultimately cost $100 million.

“This announcement is a breakthrough in terms of the financial infrastructure,” said Prof. Eliezer Rabinovici, a physicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has attended SESAME planning meetings.

“SESAME had enough money to build the building to house the accelerator, and to install its first components, which are being donated by the Germans. Now this commitment will enable the purchase of a light source for the accelerator,” he said.

Moshe Vigdor, who heads the Planning and Budgeting Committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, said that without this agreement the project would have collapsed.

As for Iran’s involvement, he said, “Science crosses borders and Israel participates in many international scientific forums that include Iran.”

SESAME also includes representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Pakistan, Bahrain and Cyprus.

According to Rabinovici, SESAME’s seeds were sown at a meeting that took place in Dahab, Sinai, three weeks after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Scientists from Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Morocco, as well as Palestinian scientists, were at the meeting.

While terror attacks in the late 1990s moved the working meetings to Europe, work on the project continued, getting a major boost with the donation of a German synchrotron, which will serve as the base for the new accelerator.

Unlike accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the synchrotron is not based on particle collisions but on the cyclic beaming of electrons within the accelerator. When the electrons are accelerated they radiate, and this radiation can be used for screening in archaeology, physics, life sciences, pharmacology and other fields.

There are 60 such synchrotrons in the world, but none in the Middle East.


Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom says cutting Iran off from SWIFT clearinghouse will almost totally paralyze Iranian imports and exports, hours after most severe sanctions ever leveled against a sovereign country take effect in Iran • “Everything is done through international clearinghouses these days. What will they do?  Carry gold in suitcases?” says Shalom.

Shalom spoke less than a day after the most severe sanctions ever leveled against a sovereign country went into effect as Iran’s banking system was disconnected from the international SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network – a secure electronic system used by banks all over the world to communicate money transfers and other transactions.

Officials in Jerusalem have said that the impact of this move should become apparent within a few weeks. Many officials voiced satisfaction with the move.

“This is a real ratcheting up of the pressure,” Shalom told Israel Radio on Friday. “Israel has wanted this for a long time.”


Shimon Peres talking with CERN Director general Shimon Peres talking with CERN Director general Rolf Heuer at the particle accelerator in Geneva.
Photo by: CERN


Posted on on January 22nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The new set of ideas as per the January 22, 2012 appearance on Fareed’s program.
We post this UPDATE because we realized that people were reading our old posting – so there is indeed interest in our readership on the subject of Pakistan.

We had many earlier postings and we long said that Pakistan is the real problem in the Af-Pak region.
To treat Afghanistan one must deal first with Pakistan and not the other way around.
In order to have a successful retreat from Afghanistan peace must be restored first in Pakistan – even at the price of allowing some break-away regions in Pakistan.

Imran Khan points out that the Pakistan military has been discredited a long time ago, the US backed Civil Government is no solution either – as it is even more corrupt then before.  The US involvement in Pakistan because of Afghanistan – was and still is – the destabilizing element in Pakistan – and Pakistan went nuclear under the US eyes.


But then even American media do not see as positive the emergence of an independent judiciary in Pakistan as evidenced in today’s posting in the New York Times on-line:

Imran Khan on the other hand finds the only hope in the high level of the Judiciary – The Supreme Court Judge.

From an imposing, marble-clad court on a hill over Islamabad, and led by an iron-willed chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the judges have since 2009 issued numerous rulings that have propelled them into areas traditionally dominated by government here. The court has dictated the price of sugar and fuel, championed the rights of transsexuals, and, quite literally, directed the traffic in the coastal megalopolis of Karachi.

But in recent weeks the court has taken interventionism to a new level, inserting itself as the third player in a bruising confrontation between military and civilian leaders at a time when Pakistan — and the United States — urgently needs stability in Islamabad to face a dizzying array of threats.”

LET US LISTEN NOW  TO IMRAN KHAN – after all he knows Pakistan from the inside:


ZAKARIA: Tell me, first, what you make of these rumors of coups. There are lots of people in Pakistan, as you know, who are talking about how the military is trying to prepare the ground for either a soft coup or an outright coup. Do you think there is any validity to this?

KHAN: See, Fareed, Pakistan has moved on. The media, the independent television channels have changed Pakistan. This is no longer the old days where the military could walk in.

The level of political awareness in Pakistan is such that across the board there’s consensus that military dictatorship or military governments are not the answer because now we have a history of military dictatorships, and it’s like curing cancer with aspirin (ph). You have a little – the problem eases for a while, and then the cancer spreads much more. So I don’t think there is any chance of a military coup.

ZAKARIA: But what about the way in which the military is taking on the civilian government where people say that the courts are acting in support of the military? They’ve – they’re attacking the prime minister. There is this case relating to Memogate. There seems to be a kind of concerted effort to weaken the civilian government.

KHAN: You know, Fareed, the biggest enemy of the government is the government itself. It is the worst government in the history of Pakistan. It is the most corrupt, the most incompetent government ever.

I mean, according to the government survey, the economic survey of Pakistan, which is a government report which is published, never has the situation of Pakistanis been as bad as it is today. There’s an unprecedented inflation. There is unemployment. There’s no gas. There’s no electricity. Factories are closing down. There’s lawlessness. Corruption has broken all records.

So if the people are turning against the government or if the government feels beleaguered, it’s not because of either the army or the Supreme Court. In fact, people like us think that the Supreme Court is too soft on the government. Remember, this is the only independent Supreme Court ever in our history, and the way we have an independent chief justice is because people came out in the streets.

It was our equivalent to the Arab Spring where masses came out in support of the chief justice. He was reinstated once, then again he was kicked out. Again, people rallied behind the chief justice.

Now, what we expected from the chief justice is to check the corruption in high places. In fact, in other words, if people come into government, they start looting the country, you wanted an independent judiciary to check the corruption. So far the government has stone walled the Supreme Court.

ZAKARIA: But tell me about the atmosphere in general in Pakistan. It seems as though the problem of a kind of Jihadi groups and terrorist groups remain unchecked. The problem of out of control elements within the military remains unchecked. Is that – is that picture, you think, accurate?

KHAN: When you talk about the Jihadi groups or the extremists, this war on terror is the biggest producer of Jihadists and extremists. The longer this war goes, the more polarize the society is getting. The more extremism and radicalization is rising in Pakistan.

And the way to deal with it is to somehow get out of this war. The only way out is a political settlement, which, of course, I have been advocating for for a long time and which now, of course, the U.S. is trying to have some sort of a political settlement in Afghanistan. It’s the only way out.

You must understand the problem. I mean, the people in the U.S. must understand what’s happening here. In the tribal areas there are million armed men. Every man is – knows how to wield a weapon, carries a weapon. So there are million armed men there.

Now, when you do an operation or when the army does an operation and there’s collateral damage, what happens? Anyone who loses a near or dear ones and they do lose them because their villages that are being bombed through airplanes, through helicopter gun ships, through artillery. Remember then it’s not an army they’re fighting. These are fighters in villages.

So when there’s collateral damage, the local people then become militants. So every military operation has produced more militants.

ZAKARIA: But what should the United States do because, as you say, the Obama administration has been trying to negotiate with the Taliban, but one of the big problems they have had in Afghanistan is that the Taliban and elements, other groups have had these safe havens in North Waziristan and so they can always retreat to that sanctuary and, therefore, feel themselves to be invulnerable and don’t want to compromise and don’t want to negotiate and don’t want to make any concessions.

KHAN: The problem with Obama administration is that they are stuck – they are dealing with the Pakistani government which unfortunately is a discredited government. If they had a partner in Pakistan, a political government which was credible, only a credible government not only would be able to pull our army out of the tribal areas where we are stuck, we would be able to help the Americans in getting some sort of a peace process going.

At the moment there is no help from Pakistan. All we are doing is military operations and we are going nowhere.


ZAKARIA: If you were to be Prime Minister of Pakistan, what’s the first thing you would do?

KHAN: The first thing I would do is have a cease-fire. You cannot talk and fight at the same time. Either you talk or you fight. Fighting has failed, so I would go for a political settlement. I would have a cease-fire.

I would – when the people of the tribal areas, these one million fighters, which I’m talking about, I win them over to my side by saying it’s the end of jihad. Cease-fire. Fighting is over. These tribal area people will not take on the militants as long as they think they’re fighting a jihad. It means a foreign occupation.

Once it’s no longer jihad, they will deliver peace in that area. It’s in their interest to have peace. But this insanity of pushing this million strong men by bombing collateral damage and pushing them over to the other side, it’s so insane, I don’t know who is the think tank who is leading this senseless policy. There are no results.

I mean surely after seven years, there should be some review of this policy. And certainly in Pakistan and all parties conference, all 50 parries of Pakistan said give peace a chance. It’s time for a political dialogue. End of military actions.

ZAKARIA: Imran Khan, always a pleasure to have you on.


The old article – August 22, 2012:

Imran Khan Niazi (born 25 November 1952) is a retired Pakistani cricketer who played international cricket for two decades in the late twentieth century and has been a politician since the mid-1990s. He is considered a National hero in Pakistan.

Currently, besides his political activism, Khan is also a charity worker and cricket commentator.

In April 1996, Khan founded and became the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), a small and marginal political party, of which he is the only member ever elected to Parliament.[3] He represented Mianwali as a member of the National Assembly from November 2002 to October 2007.[4] Khan, through worldwide fundraising, helped establish the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre in 1996 and Mianwali’s Namal College in 2008.

He is an outspoken intellectual with Pakistan at his heart – if this is not an oxymoron.

The good looking Imran was educated at Aitchison College, the Cathedral School in Lahore, and the Royal Grammar School Worcester in England, where he excelled at cricket. In 1972, he enrolled to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Keble College, Oxford, where he graduated with a second-class degree in Politics and a third in Economics.[8]

On 16 May 1995, Khan married English socialite Jemima Goldsmith, a {Jewish} convert to Islam, in a two-minute Islamic ceremony in Paris. A month later, on 21 June, they were married again in a civil ceremony at the Richmond register office in England, followed by a reception at the Goldsmiths’ house in Surrey.[9] The marriage, described as “tough” by Khan,[7] produced two sons, Sulaiman Isa (born 18 November 1996) and Kasim (born 10 April 1999).[10] As an agreement of his marriage, Khan spent four months a year in England. On 22 June 2004, it was announced that the Khans had divorced because it was “difficult for Jemima to adapt to life in Pakistan”.[11]

Khan now resides in Bani Gala, Islamabad, where he built a farmhouse with the money he gained from selling his London flat. He grows fruit trees, wheat, and keeps cows, while also maintaining a cricket ground for his two sons, who visit during their holidays.[7

He is Fareed Zakaria’s favorite Pakistani.

Today Imran said that it is when the flood waters recede we get to know the full extent of the disaster that is still growing these days.

People were left without food, shelter, the cotton crop for income, the cattle, – this is 20 million people completely destitute.

Pakistan has not come to terms how to deal with this. He went a couple of times to the camps and saw people fighting over the goods that were brought in. The government has to put the army to keep them from fighting.

You speak of Cathrina – but Bush did not go to visit his chateau and burnish the image of his son when the flooding went on!

There is no help money coming in and there is no leadership in Pakistan now.

Fareed asked: Islamic fundamentalists make inroads just because there was no government – is that true?




Posted on on January 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

WE POSTED THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY ON June 28, 2008 – during the days that G.W. Bush was the resident at the Washington DC White House. I decided to RE-Post this because of centrality of Iranian oil in global politics even now in the days of President Barack Obama. There is nothing is in the papers these days regarding a PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE of Oil and Weapons Corporations – as this was under the Busches.

We wonder what funneling channels the above businesses do have to the White House today. Do they still have an actual private back door entrance, or this is now simply a result of hesitance from enraging all those Members of Congress who get their election funding from Political Action Committees kept alive by these Corporations?


It was an amazing C-Span session, this Saturday, June 28, 2008 – but it was recorded actually, seemingly, already on March 17, 2008.

The Middle East Institute, Washington DC, was founded in 1946 by George Camp Keiser and former Secretary of State Christian Herter, and since then “has been an important conduit of information between Middle Eastern nations and American policymakers, organizations and the public.” Their website goes on to note that they “publish quarterly one of the most prestigious journals on the Middle East, The Middle East Journal.

The PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE is made up of Chevron Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Raytheon, Saudi Aramco, and Shell.

Ambassador Wendy J. Chamberlin is currently MEI’s President and she chaired the meeting with Mr. Scheuer. She is a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan – in effect she is the lady that was charged by President Bush to ask General Musharaf if he is with the US or against it – then she was blamed for the outcome. She also seems not to be thankful to the Administration for how she was treated.

Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA employee.…

In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka “Alec Station”), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counter-terrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.
Scheuer resigned in 2004. He is currently a news analyst for CBS News and a terrorism analyst for The Jamestown Foundation’s online publication Global Terrorism Analysis. He also makes radio and television appearances and teaches a graduate-level course on Al-Qaeda at Georgetown University. He also participates in conferences on terrorism and national security issues, such as the New America Foundation’s December 2004 conference, “Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11.”

Scheuer is now known to be the anonymous author of both Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and the earlier anonymous work, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.

Osama bin Laden stated in his September 7, 2007 message: “If you want to understand what’s going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer.”

Scheuer’s book, “Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq” was released on February 12, 2008.

Not much is known about his personal history, though Scheuer was an analyst at the CIA and not a covert field operations officer. During a recent C-SPAN interview, he mentioned that he is a graduate of Canisius College. Scheuer received a Ph.D. in British Empire-U.S.-Canada-U.K. relations from the University of Manitoba. Scheuer a 1974 graduate from Canisius university master’s degrees from Niagara University (1976) and Carleton University (1981).

In the 9/11 Commission Report, Scheuer is featured in Chapter 4, where his name is given only as “Mike”. He is portrayed as being occasionally frustrated with his superiors’ failure to aggressively target bin Laden. He seems to be on the right and unhappy for the fact how the US and his geographical area of experteze was dealt with.

The Jamestown Foundation is a Conservative think tank claiming to report about events and nations strategically important to the United States.

We went to the length to understand this source because we were quite astonished with what we heard on C-Span as follows:

In the Sunni world the Al-Qaeda liberation is in fashion, and in their eyes we are on the right side of history. Bin Laden is extremely talented and he has identified issues in US politics. In the US – no politician will come out and say that we are supporting dictators in the Arab World because we needed the oil. So he knows our weakness and knows we serve his cause that is the cause of Arab liberation.

As an example, Scheuer brings up how the extraordinary problem that we pushed Obama to go on TV and say – I will never be a Muslim.
Scheuer says flatly – “I would better be inclined to kill Bin Laden then talk to him.”

Scheuer advocates a US disengagement from the Middle East, and says “if it was not for the oil, why should we care what they do when we leave?”… “Iran is in effect more of a participatory democracy then any of our allies in the Middle East.”

Scheuer’s main point is that if we did not care for their oil we really have no reason to care about them, and the US Republic has no business in spreading democracy.
The US is in business to do what is good for its people – fighting for oil, and being dependent on oil, is not good for the American people. We pay with blood for this dependence.

The Administration could have saved us a lot of problems in the last years with one bullet to Saddam’s head.


Scheuer wants the Restoration of our ability to decide when to fight and when not to fight. In that case we would not invest ourselves in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

So, let us say bravo Michael Scheuer – we always thought that real conservatives will want to see US independence of oil. And here is very important to note that Scheuer does not send us to drill in the Arctic or in the off-shore waters. The realist he is he knows that all that talk is hog-wash. He kept repeating INVEST IN ALTERNATIVES TO OIL. he never said just Middle East oil because he knows oil is fungible and as long as we remain dependent on oil we will remain dependent on Middle East oil.

As we posted this article before the 2008 elections – our original  ending is as follows and I leave it unchanged. Nevertheless, but now in January 2012 I make the only further  suggestion – please substitute Mitt Romney – or whatever Republican who survives their Party’s grueling trail of tears – to the article’s 2008 name John McCain.

Mind please that Sceuer said this at an institute that is frequented by the oil industry – that in Washington is part of the overpowering oil lobby. Ambassador Chamberlin was obviously compelled to note that any idea expressed at the meeting is personal, and not institutional. But then let us note that the Jamestown Foundation has also political power when it comes to US Presidential preferences.

We know where Obama stands on the issue, but what will McCains final stand be on the issue?

If he does not express clear – No Oil – Thank You – ideas, these Conservatives might find former Congressman Barr much more to the point. So, was this the thank you note from Ralph Nader to the 2008 elections? This Nader spells Barr.


Posted on on September 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Be’chol Lashon Newsletter: SEPTEMBER 2011

Be’chol Lashon

Be’chol Lashon is dedicated to all those who are looking
for a place among the Jewish people. Welcome!

News Identity
Communities Around the World Arts & Culture
Events Get Involved


Shanah Tovah from Be’chol Lashon
Diane Tobin, Director

Around the world, Jews of all ethnic and racial backgrounds have one thing to say as Rosh Hashana approaches: Happy New Year! From all of us at Be’chol Lashon, may it be a year of blessings, growth, sweetness and joy. Watch video here.

The High Holidays are a time for reflection, for feasting and fasting, for prayer and ritual. Region to region, family to family, there are a multitude of variations on the rituals and themes of the holiday. Eyal Bitton sings the beautiful and ancient Moroccan version of Kol Nidrei. See Around the World.

Victoria Washington thinks about the concept of forgiveness literally on a daily basis as a lawyer defending people facing the death penalty. Read Real People, Real Stories.

See our new High Holiday section for recipes, Torah and more!

Lacey Schwartz, Antonio Delgado
New York Times, September 25, 2011
Be’chol Lashon Outreach Director, Lacey Schwartz, married Antonio Delgado on Saturday, September 24 in New York. The bride and bridegroom both received law degrees from Harvard, where they met.

Mazel Tov to Lacey and Antonio! We wish them a lifetime of health and happiness.

Bush’s granddaughter wed in rite conducted by Asian American rabbi
By JTA, September 7, 2011

Lauren Bush and David Lauren were married in a ceremony conducted by Angela Buchdahl, the senior cantor born in Korea to a Jewish father and a Buddhist mother. Buchdahl is the first Asian American to be ordained as a rabbi.

Minority in a Minority: Jews Attend Traditional Black Colleges
By Steve Lipman, The Jewish Exponent, August 31, 2011

“I was treated with respect by my classmates” at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, says Andre Key, a doctoral student in African-American Studies at Temple University who is black and Jewish.

Genes Tell Tale of Jewish Ties to Africa
Gianna PalmerThe Jewish Daily Forward, August, 2, 2011

Now, a new scientific paper offers a genetic timeline that could support biblical tales. The paper builds on two studies published last summer that were the first to use genome-wide analyses to trace the history of the Jewish people through DNA.

Raising an Ethiopian Jewish Child in Georgia
By Melissa Fay Greene The Arty Semite, August 1, 2011

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November 2001, I pulled up to the gates of the compound of the Beta Israel people (disparagingly known as Falashas [strangers]), hoping to be admitted, along with my brand-new daughter, to Shabbat morning services.

Opening’ of Cuba makes a Jewish Scrabble-lover feel more at home
By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2011

He carries a dictionary under his arm and wears a very large Star of David around his neck. His name is Fidel Babani, but you can call him Senor Scrabble.

The new Jewess: A rising generation of actresses overturns old tropes
By Danielle Berrin,, August 10, 2011

The image of Jewish women in contemporary Hollywood has become far more complex. While the token Jewish characters depicted as neurotic, anxious and graceless still exist, now those characters — in particular, Jewish women — are being counterbalanced with a rising generation of Jewish actresses who defy the clichés.

Panama: More than just a canal
Daralyn DannsThe Jewish Chronicle, July 28, 2011

In the first half of the 20th century many Jews fleeing countries such as Syria settled in Panama. There is also an Ashkenazi community (Beth El Synagogue) founded in the 1940s by a group of families who left Europe before the Second World War.

The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan
By Shalva Weil, ISN, July 11, 2011

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s.

Bilingual Hebrew-Hungarian school to open in Budapest
Ceboodle.Hu, July, 11 2011

A bilingual Hebrew-Hungarian school is planned to be opened in a central district in Budapest this September. The school occupying 3,500 square metres is expected to offer Jewish education at unmatched quality.

The lost Jewish music of Turkey, June, 9, 2011

The Ottoman Empire essentially gave birth to the Eastern Sephardic musical tradition — a richly seasoned stew of Iberian, Turkic, southern European, Mediterranean and Romani ingredients whose appeal extended beyond Europe to the New World.

Lost Music of Istanbul’s Sephardic Jews
By Alexander Gefand, The Jewish Daily Forward, September 1, 20111

Given Istanbul’s historic importance as a center of Jewish life and culture — Sephardic Jews began settling there en masse during the Inquisition, I was struck by how little remained of its Jewish community, and by the lack of Jewish music in particular.

Ancient tones; Galeet Dardashti
By Jordan Levin, The Miami Herald, September 3, 2011The strands of music and culture that come together in composer Galeet Dardashti’s new piece Monajat reach back almost 3,000 years. In an era when pop culture and mass media move at warp speed, Bernhardt believes artists can find inspiration in the kind of ancient traditions that moved Dardashti.

Be’chol Lashon Family Camp
October 14 – 16, Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma
Register today!

Be part of a vibrant growing global Jewish community. Celebrate Sukkot with family and friends at the Bay Area Bechol Lashon Retreat!

10Q: New Way to Reflect on the High Holidays

The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a traditional period of reflection and renewal. Participate in Reboot’s Holiday initiative, here.

It’s with our deepest regret and heavy heart that we inform you of the loss of Amina Rachman.

Amina was an active member of the Be’chol Lashon NY Group and an inspiration all who knew her. She was an extraordinary woman whose life included involvement with SNICK, a friendship with Malcolm X, and membership in the Nation of Islam in her early years, a career with the honorable David Dinkins as Educational Policy Advisor, a stint as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education, and an eventual conversion to Judaism in her later years. May her memory be a blessing.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Cantor Morton Kula, father of Rabbi Irwin Kula.

His wisdom, inspirational teaching of expressive prayer and love of life were a gift to every one he touched. May his memory be a blessing.

Mazel Tov to the Zarchi Family!

Mazel Tov to Sholom and Esther Leah Zarchi on the birth of the son. May his years be long, healthy and prosperous and may his parents be blessed with sleep and joy.

Be’chol Lashon/JBFCS NY Group for Racially and Ethnically Diverse Jews
Wednesday, October 5th, 7-9pm
135 W. 50th St., 6th Floor, Suite 4, NYC

Join a group of racially and ethnically diverse Jews to meet and discuss related topics. RSVP required. This event is co-sponsored by Be’chol Lashon and JBFCS.

My Magic Carpet: Works by Siona Benjamin
September 15 – November 11
Flomenhaft Gallery, NYC

Benjamin has traveled near and far both physically and emotionally before returning to Mumbai, where she was born. Growing up in India she was a member of the Jewish Bene Israel group that settled there at least nine generations ago.


Please send us information about events in your community or articles of interest that relate to Jewish diversity. E-mail Esther FishmanSubmissions are subject to editing for content, clarity and style.


Posted on on September 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Vienna papers this past week, this weekend, and today, Monday, September 12, 2011, are full with reporting of events from the US and studies via analysis interpreting the global situation looking at how these last 10 years have changed the US position in the world.

One such group of studies appeared in Der Standard –… – authored by Professor Heinz Gärtner,  of he OEIIP – The Austrian Institute for International Affairs…

The weekend Der Standard had whole sections about 9/11. The other papers might have had less in quantity but also came up with interesting articles – Die Presse i.e. had an article by Erich Kocina who spoke with Anas Schakfeh, then the head of Islam in Austria, who immediately in 2001 stated – “This is not good for Muslims.”

Anyway, today, the Monday after the memorials, “Heute” had on its front page “WIR WEINEN MIT NEW YORK” – WE CRY WITH NEW YORK.


At the UN enclave at the Vienna International Center the memorial was held only today – Monday. It was in the Rotunda – the round area from which radiate the corridors to the ‘Alphabet Buildings.”  The topic:

“Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the 11 September Attacks United Nations Vienna Office Honours Victims of Terrorism.” – that is terrorism in general not just 9/11.

To be crystal clear – the UN says: “All the victims of terrorism worldwide are being remembered in a special event at the United Nations in Vienna today.”

Fair enough for an international organization where some Member States either do not believe that the acts of terror of 9/11 were committed by Islamic Radicals, or their hatred of the US is open for all to see anyway. Having said this, we add nevertheless that I found the event in good taste and rather with acceptable honesty. I also include the posting of the speech by the US Ambassador who also had no problem with delving into all other acts of terrorism because the reaction to these acts is what binds us together these days. The terrorists are the outcasts!

On one side of the Rotunda there were eleven panels holding each the picture of the front page of a journal dated September 12, 2001 – with screaming photos and titles of the atrocity that was committed against the United States.

In front of that series of panels there was the speakers’ stand, and in front of the stand a map that showed the countries that had citizens among the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11. On the lower part of that map there was the list of 90 countries that lost citizens of their own on that day.

I have heard the number 90 before – I was familiar with it – but I never saw this in a map form. I looked at the map and was amazed – trust me that I do not make this up.


The whole MAGHREB, Sudan, All The GULF STATES, The whole Muslim part of the Horn of Africa – all of these States – not a single victim. Yes – we know that the perpetrators were mainly  from Saudi Arabia, with a sprinkle from the UAE (2), Lebanon (1) and Egypt (1) – I just saw their faces again courtesy of Der Standard – let them turn in their ashes.

We know that many of the States mentioned had oil business and financial dealings at the World Trade Center. They had trainees and professionals on banks’ staff – how were they so lucky not to be there at the T-time? I wonder if it will ever be possible to explain this simple coincidence.? Having shown that map – we consider it an act of courage of the UN.

To repeat one more time – the fact that nobody from Antarctica, Greenland, Mongolia, The Small Island States of the Pacific, or the African Sahel was among those killed at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon is clear, but how is it that in the whole expanse of the MENA (Middle East-North Africa) countries – it is only Egypt, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya that had victims of 9/11?

The UN release says that there were “more then 2,800 victims” from “over 70 countries.” The facts are…  – there are close to 3,000 names on the new memorial – to be exact 2,996 – and to be sure – these names do NOT include the hijackers. Further, the map/list that  I saw had 10 columns of names of States with 9 names in each column – and 9X10 = 90. I hope the UN New York – takes notice.


The event was chaired by Mr. Janos Tisovszky,  Director of Information Service at UNOV, and it was mainly in the hands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is the largest tenant of the VIC.

Mr. Tisovsxky said that the meeting intends to honor the victims and to express solidarity against terrorism. He noted that the Directors General and the other heads of the UN institutions headquartered in Vienna, sit literally shoulder to shoulder with the US Ambassador.

The Opening speaker was Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of UNOV and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

He was followed by Mr. Yukiya Amano, Director General IAEA, and Mr. Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban- Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

The Closing remarks were made by US Ambassador Gkyn Davies who was actually the initiator of the event.


Mr. Fedotov said that the terrorists who carried out the “senseless, criminal” attacks on the United States that day did not succeed in destroying the common bonds of humanity – on the contrary, they made them stronger.   “All countries, all peoples were united in their condemnation of this atrocity,” he said.  “We are all united by our common rejection of terrorism which finds no sanctuary in any nationality, any religion nor any legitimate political philosophy.” He noted that the UN fights terrorism with projects like the MDGs to give people aspirations for a good life. We want to encourage people living by the rule of law and reject terrorism.

As terrorist acts continue to be a serious threat to peace and security around the world, Mr. Fedotov stressed that more needs to be done to combat this global scourge, especially through enhanced international cooperation and exchange of information.  He also drew attention to the links between terrorism and trans-national organized crime with criminal profits increasingly finding their way to support terrorism.

Mr. Fedotov honored specifically the memory of all the  23 people recently killed, and many more injured, in the bombing of the UN office in Abuja, Nigeria.  Eleven of those killed were UN colleagues.

Mr. Amano said: As the IAEA works to protect the world against the risk of nuclear terrorism, he renewed his pledge that nuclear security will remain a high priority throughout his tenure as Director General.Mr.Toth went on enlarging the list of past acts of terrorism – Paris, London, Mumbai, Moscow, … Abuja.

Ambassador Davies continued painting this larger picture of terrorism in order to reach the conclusion that we must be united.


Remarks by US Ambassador Glyn Davies:

September 12, 2011
Vienna International Centre

Directors General Fedotov and Amano, Executive Secretary Toth, and indeed all the heads of the international organizations who are present this afternoon, I thank you for participating in this commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.  Mr. Yumkella, Dr. Othman, welcome.

And, to all of you: Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, thank you all for taking the time today to join us for this simple, solemn event.  Ten years ago yesterday, nearly three thousand people from more than ninety countries died in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  We come together today to honor their memory.

We also assemble today to remember and honor the victims of terrorism everywhere in the world.  We gather to mark our unity of purpose in confronting and countering any and all who seek to achieve political or religious ends through the senseless slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.

New York, and America, were struck ten years ago, but terrorism affects us all.  The list of nations recovering from terrorist attacks is long.  I say “recovering”, for indeed we, the nations and people of the world, have proven resilient.  What terrorists destroy, we rebuild, we re-consecrate, we rededicate.

After the 2002 Bali bombings, Indonesia demonstrated its resilience by holding a festival to commemorate the victims on the very beach where so many were slaughtered.  Madrid re-built its train station after the 2004 atrocities that killed nearly 200 injured more than 1000.  By the first anniversary of the London transit attacks that killed 52 in 2005, the transit system had been fully returned to normal.  In the United States, the collapse of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center laid waste to a large swath of Lower Manhattan.  And yet, by May of 2002, mere months later, the clean-up of the site was completed.  Today, a shining new edifice, One World Trade Center, is reaching up into New York’s skyline, and will soon claim its rightful place as the tallest building in North America.

But of course this isn’t about buildings, it’s about the people.  The children of those who died on September 1, 2001, are growing up.  Families have found the strength to cope with their grief, and indeed have formed networks to assist one another and other victims of terrorism.  And just as communities have come together to support those in need following terrorist attacks, the same is happening around the world.

From Bali to Beslan, Athens to Amman, Kigali to Kampala, people of all faiths from the four corners of the globe have united in their resolve to condemn terrorism and to offer support to victims.  In 2009 a suicide bomber killed five Pakistani staff members at the United Nations World Food Program in Islamabad.  One victim’s husband reached out to friends and survivors of violence to establish the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, which works to help the wounded and family members overcome trauma and rebuild their lives.

And the solidarity, the strength displayed after terrorist attacks is not just local, it is global.  We all stood united with India after the cowardly attacks across Mumbai.  We all rejoiced when hostages held by the FARC in Colombia were rescued after six long years of captivity.  We grieved as one for the many thousands of civilians lost to car bombings in Iraq.  And after the deadly havoc wrought by one man recently in Norway, we rallied to stand by our Norwegian colleagues and renewed our common commitment to stand up to any and all who would use such appalling means to achieve political ends.

So how fitting that we mark 9/11’s ten-year anniversary in this place, this great rotunda of the Vienna International Centre, home to so many vital multilateral organizations whose work touches directly or indirectly on the challenge of countering terrorism.  For international organizations are indispensable partners in this effort, and international public servants have often borne the brunt of terrorist attacks.  We all well remember the terrorist attack on United Nations offices in Iraq in 2003, which killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio de Mello.  And only a few days ago United Nations offices were attacked in Nigeria. One of the UNODC’s own – Ingrid Midtgaard – lost her life, along with at least 22 others, in this most recent act of violence, and we offer our condolences.  The very nature of the UN’s work as a champion of freedom and international cooperation puts all who dedicate their lives to serving humanity at direct odds with terrorists.

But you are not alone.  Even before the death of Usama Bin Laden, the overwhelming majority of people saw that the murder of innocents did not bring about a better life for anyone.  People across the Middle East and North Africa continue to reject extremism, and are charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations.

So, from Mumbai to Manila, Lahore to London, New York to Nairobi, we have witnessed resilience and solidarity.  Terrorism remains a threat, but our common human spirit has endured and emerged, stronger than ever.  We have not succumbed to the grief and fear that terrorists seek to spread.

On the contrary, since September 11, 2001, countries across the globe have responded collectively to reduce the threat of terrorism.  We have sharply diminished the capabilities of terrorist groups through the combined, collaborative efforts of the international community.  Together, we have answered the terrorists’ attempts to weaken or destroy our societies.  Our message of hope, of support for peace, security, and universal human rights is far more compelling than any message of hate, discrimination, and death.

The tenth anniversary of September 11 is an especially moving moment for Americans.  We are ten years on, but the pain and grief has hardly abated.  And that compels me to thank all of you profoundly for coming here today and joining us in this simple event.

Colleagues, Friends,

Here, gathered as the missions and the staff of the United Nations and the international organizations headquartered in Vienna, here in this great international city, I can think of no more appropriate charge to all of us than that voiced by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold: “No peace which is not peace for all, no rest until all has been fulfilled.”

And that is the thought I wish to leave you with.  We gather today to share our common commitment to peace for all, and our common determination not to rest until terrorism is defeated.  We gather to make known our unified message: Terrorism will not prevail. We are vigilant.  We remember and honor those we have lost.  And we pursue our lives with confidence, not fear.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for joining us here today.


and looking back at news reports from places not called New York or Washington:

9/11 Global Memorials, Tinged With Weariness.

By Published, The New York Times,  September 11, 2011…

PARIS — On Sunday, however briefly, nations around the world came together with the United States to remember the attacks on New York and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people from 90 countries.

Commemorations were held from Indonesia to Israel, with many political and religious leaders expressing their commitment to democracy and the fight against terrorism. But there was also weariness, with smaller-than-expected crowds in some cities and numerous commentaries noting the wars that followed Sept. 11 and the attacks’ more negative impacts — on civil liberties, air travel, international law and the United States’ reputation.

There was an overnight suicide bombing involving an explosives-packed truck in Afghanistan, the arrests of terrorism suspects in Berlin and Sweden and heightened security alerts most everywhere. There was analysis about how democratic values have triumphed in the Arab Spring, which has been seen as a defeat for Al Qaeda. But even with Osama bin Laden dead, Al Qaeda or its offshoots remain active in the chaotic areas of Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and the Maghreb, and its ideology still inspires some to plan attacks against the United States and its allies.

Although NATO is at war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, 10 years later, the European allies have tired of the war and are pressing for negotiations with the Taliban.

In Pakistan, where opinion surveys show most people doubt that Al Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the government ignored the anniversary, except to put an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal describing Pakistan as a victim, not a perpetrator, of terrorism.

In Germany, where the attacks were planned, there was a quiet commemoration, an interfaith service at the American Church in Berlin. Three days after the attacks, about 200,000 people had gathered near the Brandenburg Gate, but barely 200 showed up for a moment of silence on Sunday. “I thought there would be a few more people,” said Alan Benson, who helped organize the program and held an American flag. “First there was empathy with Americans, but as a consequence of the wars there are a lot of misgivings now.”

In Hamburg, Germany, where the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta, and several of the other plotters lived at Marienstrasse 54, Mayor Olaf Scholz ordered flags at half-staff on public buildings.

Britain, which lost 67 of its citizens on Sept. 11, held several commemorations. It has been America’s principal military partner in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, and 559 British soldiers have died in the wars there.

In London, remembrances were led by Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron and included many relatives of the 9/11 victims. The ceremony was held at the London memorial garden for the victims in Grosvenor Square, across a park from the United States Embassy.

After family members read the names of those who were killed, relatives, including children not yet born on the day of the attacks, walked into the arbor and laid white roses on a memorial stone that is atop a piece of twisted metal taken from the rubble at ground zero.

Prince Charles said he could identify with the families’ grief, having lost his uncle and mentor, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in a 1979 terrorist bombing in Northern Ireland. “For so many of those left behind,” he said, it had been “a continuing, awful agony that has to be endured day by day.”

In Rome, the Colosseum was illuminated on Sunday night as a gesture of mourning. The Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, wrote President Obama of the need to “look forward and reinforce that international and multilateral solidarity that supported us 10 years ago.” Pope Benedict XVI urged world leaders to address “the grievances that give rise to acts of violence.” Terrorism in the name of God, the pope said, was a kind of abomination, adding, “No circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism.”

In Paris, the main commemoration was across from the Eiffel Tower on the rainy Place du Trocadero, where 10-story replicas of the twin towers were covered with the names of the victims and messages from the French. Some 1,300 people came. A large sign in French and English read: “Sept. 11, 2001. The French will never forget.” One organizer, the businessman Patrick du Tertre, said, “We want the Americans to know that we love them, that we are their allies, that we remember and that we share their sorrow.”

On Friday, the American ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, held a small ceremony in his garden with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who delivered a fiercely pro-American speech.

“In the darkest hours of its history, France has always been able to count on the American people,” he said. “Without you, the Americans, we would not have been able to keep our freedom. So on 11 September, when terrorists struck at the heart of America, every French citizen felt the blow.”

In Oslo, there was a sense of affinity with the United States after the July 22 killings by Anders Behring Breivik, who took 77 lives. He claimed to be acting to defend Europe from Islam, an obsession that began with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kari Gasvatn, a commentator for the newspaper Nationen, said that both attacks were challenges to democracy and raised questions about what kind of society to build afterward. “Both attacks show how vulnerable we can be,” she said. “Skyscrapers can collapse on a sunny autumn day. Young people can be massacred on a peaceful Norwegian island.”
Asle Toje, a political analyst, said that in Norway, as in most of Europe, the initial sympathy for America after 9/11 was “followed by a lack of enthusiasm, you might say, for the way 9/11 was exploited for political purposes.”
The war in Iraq was connected to 9/11, he said, “and that has made sentiments about 9/11 a lot more complicated.”
Russia marked the anniversary with a powerful evocation of the Holocaust, a subject that was off limits for much of the Soviet era. The Russian National Orchestra performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar,” and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, titled “Kaddish.”
Russians recalled the outpouring of sympathy 10 years ago and the sense, however fleeting, that the threat of Islamic terrorism meant that Russia and the United States were aligned. Yevgeniya Pishchikova pointed to deeper shifts. Fear has become so reflexive, she wrote in Moscow News, that conversations in hair salons touch on the changes in the Muslim world, the riots in Europe and the reliable conclusion that “everything is about to crash.”
“Only one thing is clear — there is no way to live calmly,” she said. “So let’s not put on airs. Whether America appeals to you or not, let us commemorate with her the decade of global fear.”


Reporting contributed by Ellen Barry in Moscow; John F. Burns in London; Jane Perlez in Islamabad, Pakistan; Henrik Pryser Libell in Oslo; Nicholas Kulish in Berlin; Elisabetta Povoledo in Rome; Michael Wines in Beijing; Isabel Kershner in Jerusalem; and Elvire Camus and Alan Cowell in Paris.


Posted on on July 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


What Pakistan and Southern Sudan have in common.

byHusain Ali, July 7, 2011
This is written on a billboard on a road in the capital of Southern Sudan:
“9th July, 2011. Our long walk to freedom. 2.5 million lives paid for our independence.”
Southern Sudan’s proclamation of independence is a result of a peace agreement that was signed between the rebel group, Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and the government of Sudan after more than three decades of civil war. It gave the SPLA the right to govern Southern Sudan for six years.
After six years a referendum was conducted in January 2011 in which people were to decide whether to stay a part of United Sudan or become independent. An overwhelming majority of the populace decided in favor of independence. The secession of Southern Sudan will be a huge blow for the autocratic government as oil revenues generated from the area’s oil fields contribute in the overall national budget.
Learning from Southern Sudan
Southern Sudan’s secession serves as a grim reminder to countries like Pakistan – if the people’s voice is not heard and rights are not given, they will ultimately look for alternatives. The creation of Bangladesh is a glaring example of this. They democratically fought for their rights within the federation and finally separated, after being denied for 25 years.
Similarly, a ruling elite class belonging to a certain tribe and religion, had been ruling Sudan since its independence in 1956. Resources were taken from one part of the country and generously used for development in the other, without any effort to ensure development in all areas. Dissent was forcefully suppressed in the name of national unity and those who asked for their rights were labeled as traitors.
Minorities pushed to the limit
Southern Sudan’s secession also serves as an example of the fact that in a country that is ethnically and religiously diverse the burden of ensuring  justice in distribution of resources lies with the ‘majority’.
Most of Sudan’s oil fields are located in the south and accordingly most of the revenues are generated from the south. However, a quick tour around the country would make one realize that not even a fraction of the revenue has been spent on the South Sudanese. Sudan’s ruling junta’s forced imposition of Sharia law acted as the last nail in the coffin, as Christian-dominated Southern Sudan feared that whatever little religious freedom they had would be snatched away from them.
The irony of hatred
Once, Pakistan was a new country too. Our fundamental reason for independence was the same – being outnumbered by a majority in United India, we thought we would be denied religious freedom and basic rights. Since independence however, religious minorities are being treated in the same manner.We have witnessed to bloodshed in recent years in the name of Islam, the so-called basis of the country’s creation.
Southern Sudan’ s secession should also remind us that Balochistan has supplied the rest of the country with coal, gas and minerals for over 60 years, yet remains the province with the lowest rate of development.
The people of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan are still being ruled via tyrannical pre-partition laws. They still do not have access to basic constitutional rights and have perhaps the worst human development indicators in the entire country.
I often tell my Southern Sudanese friends:
“Your future generations will hold you accountable once you have finally become independent.”
Southern Sudan’s government and people have a responsibility to ensure that their tribal and cultural differences do not take away their focus from the bigger picture.
Southern Sudan currently ranks at the bottom of world’ s Human Development Index. Most of the country’s population does not have access to roads, clean water, schools and health facilities. Putting all their differences aside they need to ensure that the government focuses on these key development indicators.
They also need to ensure a broad-based that a united government which will include representation from different tribes and sub-cultures prevalent in Southern Sudan is in place, which will take forward country’s development agenda.
I hope the Southern Sudanese will be able to overcome their minor differences, will try not to interfere in their neighbouring states, will focus their energies in developing their own communities and will make sure that from the very beginning, the new country focuses on developing health, education and basic infrastructure for all citizens in order to ensure that it remains solidly grounded in years to come.
Happy independence, Southern Sudan!

This is written on a billboard on a road in the capital of Southern Sudan:
“9th July, 2011. Our long walk to freedom. 2.5 million lives paid for our independence.”
Southern Sudan’s proclamation of independence is a result of a peace agreement that was signed between the rebel group, Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and the government of Sudan after more than three decades of civil war. It gave the SPLA the right to govern Southern Sudan for six years.
After six years a referendum was conducted in January 2011 in which people were to decide whether to stay a part of United Sudan or become independent. An overwhelming majority of the populace decided in favor of independence. The secession of Southern Sudan will be a huge blow for the autocratic government as oil revenues generated from the area’s oil fields contribute in the overall national budget.
Learning from Southern Sudan
Southern Sudan’s secession serves as a grim reminder to countries like Pakistan – if the people’s voice is not heard and rights are not given, they will ultimately look for alternatives. The creation of Bangladesh is a glaring example of this. They democratically fought for their rights within the federation and finally separated, after being denied for 25 years.
Similarly, a ruling elite class belonging to a certain tribe and religion, had been ruling Sudan since its independence in 1956. Resources were taken from one part of the country and generously used for development in the other, without any effort to ensure development in all areas. Dissent was forcefully suppressed in the name of national unity and those who asked for their rights were labeled as traitors.
Minorities pushed to the limit
Southern Sudan’s secession also serves as an example of the fact that in a country that is ethnically and religiously diverse the burden of ensuring  justice in distribution of resources lies with the ‘majority’.
Most of Sudan’s oil fields are located in the south and accordingly most of the revenues are generated from the south. However, a quick tour around the country would make one realize that not even a fraction of the revenue has been spent on the South Sudanese. Sudan’s ruling junta’s forced imposition of Sharia law acted as the last nail in the coffin, as Christian-dominated Southern Sudan feared that whatever little religious freedom they had would be snatched away from them.
The irony of hatred
Once, Pakistan was a new country too. Our fundamental reason for independence was the same – being outnumbered by a majority in United India, we thought we would be denied religious freedom and basic rights. Since independence however, religious minorities are being treated in the same manner.We have witnessed to bloodshed in recent years in the name of Islam, the so-called basis of the country’s creation.
Southern Sudan’ s secession should also remind us that Balochistan has supplied the rest of the country with coal, gas and minerals for over 60 years, yet remains the province with the lowest rate of development.
The people of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan are still being ruled via tyrannical pre-partition laws. They still do not have access to basic constitutional rights and have perhaps the worst human development indicators in the entire country.
I often tell my Southern Sudanese friends:
“Your future generations will hold you accountable once you have finally become independent.”
Southern Sudan’s government and people have a responsibility to ensure that their tribal and cultural differences do not take away their focus from the bigger picture.
Southern Sudan currently ranks at the bottom of world’ s Human Development Index. Most of the country’s population does not have access to roads, clean water, schools and health facilities. Putting all their differences aside they need to ensure that the government focuses on these key development indicators.
They also need to ensure a broad-based that a united government which will include representation from different tribes and sub-cultures prevalent in Southern Sudan is in place, which will take forward country’s development agenda.
I hope the Southern Sudanese will be able to overcome their minor differences, will try not to interfere in their neighbouring states, will focus their energies in developing their own communities and will make sure that from the very beginning, the new country focuses on developing health, education and basic infrastructure for all citizens in order to ensure that it remains solidly grounded in years to come.
Happy independence, Southern Sudan!



By Associated Press, Sunday, July 10, 2011.

WASHINGTON — A report says the U.S. could suspend hundreds of millions in military aid to Pakistan unless the two countries’ fractured relations improve and Pakistan pursues militant groups more aggressively.

The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration is upset with Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and wants tougher action against the Taliban and others fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan.

It cites anonymous officials saying up to $800 million in military assistance and equipment could be affected. They say equipment deliveries and aid would probably resume if U.S.-Pakistani relations improve and Pakistan proves its commitment to counterterrorism efforts.

Tensions between the countries have surged since U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.


Posted on on June 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

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 > > >

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 – – and can be reached at – – 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? …..”…


Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

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!”



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.”


Posted on on May 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Obama and the Arab Spring.


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


Posted on on May 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


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.”


But also carried:

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.”




Posted on on May 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

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 After Bin Laden


Posted on on May 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Posted by Washington Post at 12:55 AM ET, 05/02/2011 – one hour after President Obama’s announcement.

Osama bin Laden has been killed in a CIA operation in Pakistan, President Obama announced from the White House, just before midnight, Sunday, May 1st 2011, ending a years-long manhunt for the leader of al-Qaeda and architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington.…  

The pursuit of bin Laden

By David Ignatius

When Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in the 1990s, he argued that if Muslim terrorists hit hard enough, the United States would retreat. The relentless pursuit that led to bin Laden’s death Sunday proved that narrative of American weakness was wrong.

America’s difficulties in the Islamic world since Sept. 11, 2001, have come, if anything, from misplaced response or over-reaction to al-Qaeda’s attacks. But the idea that the U.S. would run away — an analysis that bin Laden based on America’s flight from Beirut after 1983 bombings and from Somalia in 1994 after bloody attacks on U.S. troops there — was convincingly refuted. Even after catastrophic mistakes in Iraq, President George W. Bush pressed on to sustain the American narrative of persistence in battle.

“We will be relentless in the defense of our citizens,” said President Obama in announcing bin Laden’s death from the White House, just before midnight. “Justice has been done.” They were statements that might have been in a classic Western movie about pursuit and retribution.

Obama Sunday night barely drew back the curtain slightly on the operation that led to the al-Qaeda leader’s death. He said it began eight months ago, when he was briefed on a possible lead. Over subsequent months, U.S. intelligence learned that bin Laden might be hiding in a compound in Pakistan. Last week Obama authorized a strike by U.S. Special Forces on a mansion in the town of Abbottabad, north of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

The fact that Pakistan didn’t (or couldn’t) stop the helicopter raid delivers another message. Critics of the CIA have argued that the agency’s operations against bin Laden over this past decade were fatally compromised by its combination of unilateral operations and cooperation with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. That assessment also proved mistaken — at least as measured by Sunday’s operation.

One question for careful analysis in coming days is whether some elements of Pakistani intelligence knew that bin Laden was, in effect, hiding in plain sight in a compound near a facility of the Pakistani military. And it will be crucial, in terms of the future, how the American operation plays in Pakistan and other Muslim nations.

Al-Qaeda had lost its momentum long before the death of its leader. It burned too hot; it made enemies everywhere it gained a measure of power — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, even in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The Islamic world increasingly turned away — not from Salafist Islam of the sort that al-Qaeda practices, but from the terrorist tactics that ended up killing far more Muslims around the world than Americans.



Also – it is important to remember what Israel did with the body of Adolf Eichman – his corpse was cremated and the ashes thrown overboard at sea. It is important not to leave a monument for posterity because there will always be some that will make of it a reason for pilgrimage to that tomb.


May 2, 2o11 -UPDATED:

Osama bin Laden has been buried at sea, a U.S. official says.

This is fine with the Muslim world as it was done in the prescribed time and the body was kept in one piece. It was done so, rather then being incinerated, which would have been in full  justice with the mastermind of 9/11 in the case. 


Full Transcript of Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden
East Room

11:35 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together.  We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood.  We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country.  On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.  We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe.  And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort.  We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.  In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support.  And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.  It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground.  I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.  And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.  No Americans were harmed.  They took care to avoid civilian casualties.  After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies.  The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.  There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us.  We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.  I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.  Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.  That is what we’ve done.  But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.  Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts.  They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.  And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight.  It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.  After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war.  These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war.  Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed.  We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.  We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror:  Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome.  The American people do not see their work, nor know their names.  But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.  And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.  I know that it has, at times, frayed.  Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete.  But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.  That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are:  one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you.  May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.


Posted on on November 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

BACKGROUND: Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion (CDTR) convenes a symposium on Pakistan 2010:  The Most Dangerous Decade Begins, one of the most volatile and strategically-significant spots on the globe.  Pakistan faces a triple crisis of political instability, economic disaster and Islamist forces. Pakistan does not exist in isolation and the problems there have far-reaching implications for Afghanistan, India, and the United States.

Further participants from the Institute of Religion culture and Public Life (IRCPL), the Alliance Program and South Asia Institute at Columbia, as well as scholars from Harvard, Georgetown, and Paris’ Science Po.

two sessions  on Wednesday, November 10, 2010:

morning 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – The Domestiv Scene in Pakistan;

after-noon    2pm – 5pm         – Pakistan in its Region and Beyond.


Christophe Jaffrelot, visiting professor, SIPA

Alfred Stepan, professor of government, SIPA

Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Chair, South Asian Institute, Columbia

STARTS WHEN: Wednesday, November 10, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: International Affairs Building, Room 1501

420 W. 118th Street (Amsterdam Avenue is the cross street)

Columbia University, Morningside Heights campus

Broadway at West 116th Street, Manhattan

Transit:  1 train to 116 Street/Columbia University


Media must register with Tanya Domi at 212-854-5579 or


It is thus official as official could be – Pakistan is a center of foment in its region and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. The US needs to learn from President Obama’s experience this past weekend, that it will not be easy to do right with a power like India if the US insists to back unredeemable Af/Pak block.


Posted on on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

VALERIO CALZOLAIO, a journalist, ecologist, and ex-member of Italian parliament, is the author of:


He writes, as reported by Roberto Savio of IPS, from Rome, October 8, 2010:

“For the entire month of August the front pages of the world’s major daily papers gave considerable coverage of developments in the Indus Valley: monsoon rains in the north of Pakistan in late July, the flooding of rivers and tributaries, submerged land, villages, and towns, then more flooding in the centre and south of the country, the contamination of wells and aqueducts and other sources of water, inadequate international funding, flight, desperation, and anger.

Almost two thousand dead were immediately confirmed, thousands and thousands of people lost, six million left homeless, 10 million evacuated, 20 million effected in some way. They could be defined climate- or eco-refugees.

It was a disaster on a planetary scale represented in shocking photographs of the distant suffering. But alongside this story ran a range of national matters of varying importance -in Italy, for example, the story about a drop in prices of homes in Montecarlo. Now the climate refugees of the Indus have vanished from the media. For two months we have heard nothing more about the disaster, though hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps and normal life has not returned for millions of Pakistanis.

In recent weeks, however, news has arrived about another wave of climate refugees elsewhere in the world, in Indonesia, the Amazon, and the Danube in Hungary. For almost twenty years the proliferation of climate refugees has been a source of diffuse emergencies, migrants driven to leave their homes by bad choices or the mistaken behaviour of humans. In the case of climate change, they are fleeing because of actions that we are taking here.

In 2008 and 2009 the number of international “political” refugees (those who are given “refugee” status) was about 15 million; the official number of international eco-refugees was higher. The number of eco-refugees even exceeds that of internal political refugees (who remain within their country’s border). With world conferences about to be held yet again on biodiversity (Nagoya) and the climate (Cancun), in November and December, it is time the UN is provided permanently with the means to help eco-refugees and prevent the creation of more of them.

In a book now being released in Italy, I have tried to reflect on these figures and means. Whether we like it or not, hundreds of thousands of eco-refugees are arriving in Europe each year, and their numbers will only rise. Moreover it is we that are responsible for their lack of homes. They cannot stay in camps forever, not will all manage to find a home in their own country, and the sooner we recognise this the better.

I recognise that since Adam and Eve there have always been environmental and climate refugees. It is not by chance that I dedicated the first part of the book to migratory species and the archaeology of the original waves of human migration. The migration of individuals and groups of our species have always had multiple causes and environmental and climatic effects and repercussions, especially when forced, when people were driven from their homes.

In the history and evolution of homo sapiens, the other major causes of migration are war and conflict. Refugees and eco-refugees are not an invention of modernity. Today those made refugees by “political” causes -violence or persecution by institutions or human communities- are granted “refugee” status and assistance by a United Nations commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn’t they be given this same status? We must find a way to provide the same assistance and take the same preventive measures in the case of migration caused by contemporary human-caused climate change. The second part of my book is dedicated to this subject.

I have tried to reconstruct the infancy and adolescence of the UN system, showing who’s in charge (and how) of human rights and the right to asylum, aid, and protection from climate change. I have sought to gather together the most advanced proposals from UN agencies, scientists, and researchers to address the migration caused by rising sea levels, by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and by the shrinking availability of water for drinking and sanitation.

Forecasts indicate that in the next two decades there will be tens of millions of new eco-refugees, especially in certain areas, headed primarily towards Europe, mostly across the Mediterranean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports call attention to global developments that are certain to occur though they will vary in intensity according to location: rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events.

For example, according to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the real risk of deaths resulting from flooding has risen by 13 percent from 1990-2007 while the percentage of the world population directly effected has increased by 28 percent in that period. Moreover, on the basis of past experience and forecast models, over 75 percent of these risks will be concentrated in a handful of countries: those effected by monsoons (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) and China.

The risks are not the consequence of exposure and intensity alone: an island or sparsely-populated country or a small poor country risks both the life and development of entire populations for generations. Forced emigration is the near certain outcome. By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of these developments, even in a best case scenario, will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people.”


Posted on on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

D.E.A. Deployed Mumbai Plotter Despite Warning.

Published: November 7, 2010

WASHINGTON — American authorities sent David C. Headley, a small-time drug dealer and sometime informant, to work for them in Pakistan months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite a warning that he sympathized with radical Islamic groups, according to court records and interviews. Not long after Mr. Headley arrived there, he began training with terrorists, eventually playing a key role in the 2008 attacks that left 164 people dead in Mumbai.

The October 2001 warning was dismissed, the authorities said, as the ire of a jilted girlfriend and for lack of proof. Less than a month later, those concerns did not come up when a federal court in New York granted Mr. Headley an early release from probation so that he could be sent to work for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in Pakistan. It is unclear what Mr. Headley was supposed to do in Pakistan for the Americans.

“All I knew was the D.E.A. wanted him in Pakistan as fast as possible because they said they were close to making some big cases,” said Luis Caso, Mr. Headley’s former probation officer.

On Sunday, while President Obama was visiting India, he briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the status of his administration’s investigation of Mr. Headley, including the failure to act on repeated warnings that he might be a terrorist. A senior United States official said the inquiry has concluded that while the government received warnings, it did not have strong enough evidence at the time to act on them. “Had the United States government sufficiently established he was engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in India, the information would have most assuredly been transferred promptly to the Indian government,” the official said in a statement to The New York Times. The statement did not make clear whether any American agencies would be held accountable.

In recent weeks, United States government officials have begun to acknowledge that Mr. Headley’s path from American informant to transnational terrorist illustrates the breakdowns and miscommunications that have bedeviled them since the Sept. 11 attacks. Warnings about his radicalism were apparently not shared with the drug agency that made use of his ties in Pakistan.

The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., began an investigation into Mr. Headley’s government connections after reports last month that two of the former drug dealer’s ex-wives had gone to American authorities between 2005 and 2008, before the Mumbai attacks, to say they feared he was plotting with terrorists. Combined with the earlier warning from the former girlfriend, three of the women in Mr. Headley’s life reported his ties to terrorists, only to have those warnings dismissed.

An examination of Mr. Headley’s story shows that his government ties ran far deeper and longer than previously known. One senior American official knowledgeable about the case said he believed that Mr. Headley was a D.E.A. informant until at least 2003, meaning that he was talking to American agencies even as he was learning to deal with explosives and small arms in terrorist training camps.

The review raises new questions about why the Americans missed warning signs that a valued informant was becoming an important figure in radical Islamic groups, and whether some officials chose to look the other way rather than believe the complaints about him. The October 2001 warning from the girlfriend was first reported Friday by ProPublica, the independent investigative news operation, and published in The Washington Post.

Fuller details of how the government handled the matter were provided to The Times by officials who did not want to be quoted discussing a continuing inquiry. They disclosed that the F.B.I. actually talked to Mr. Headley about the girlfriend, and he told them she was unreliable. They said that while he seemed to have a philosophical affinity for some groups, there was no evidence that he was plotting against the United States. Also influencing the handling of the case, they said, was that he had been a longtime informant.

The Indian government has been outspoken in its concerns that the United States overlooked repeated warnings about Mr. Headley’s terrorist activities because of his links to both American law enforcement as well as to officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate — a key ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism.

Bruce O. Riedel, a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution and a former C.I.A. officer, said the Indians were right to ask, “ ‘Why weren’t alarms screaming?’ ”

Mr. Headley, 50, born in the United States to a Pakistani diplomat and Philadelphia socialite, has pleaded guilty in connection with the Mumbai plot and a thwarted attack against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. As he has many times before, he is cooperating with the authorities, this time hoping to avoid the death penalty. Officials of the D.E.A., which has a long history with Mr. Headley, declined to discuss their relationship with him. The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. said that Mr. Headley had never worked with them. Privately, the agencies point fingers at each other.

The transcript of a Nov. 16, 2001, probation hearing in federal court in New York shows the government took great pains not to identify which agency was handling Mr. Headley, or whether he worked for more than one.

Mr. Caso, his former probation officer, recalled that Mr. Headley had been turned over to the D.E.A. Another person familiar with the case confirms this account. It was a world Mr. Headley knew well. After arrests in 1987 and 1998, he cooperated with the drug agency in exchange for lighter sentences. He specialized in the ties between Pakistani drug organizations and American dealers along the East Coast.

A September 1998 letter that prosecutors submitted to court after an arrest then showed that the government considered Mr. Headley — who had admitted to distributing 15 kilograms of heroin over his years as a dealer — so “reliable and forthcoming,” that they sent him to Pakistan to “develop intelligence on Pakistani heroin traffickers.”

The letter indicates that Mr. Headley, who faced seven to nine years in prison for his offense, was such a trusted partner to the drug agency in the 1990s that he helped translate hours of tape-recorded telephone intercepts, and coached drug agency investigators on how to question Pakistani suspects. The courts looked favorably on his cooperation, according to records, sentencing Mr. Headley to 15 months in prison, and five years’ probation.

While he was on probation, in October 2001, a woman told the F.B.I. that she believed her former boyfriend, Mr. Headley, was sympathetic to extremist groups in Pakistan, according to a senior American official who has been briefed on the case. The government was flooded with thousands of such tips at that time, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

William Headley, an uncle, recalled that agents called his sister to ask if her son had terrorist leanings. “She didn’t seem upset at all by the call,” William Headley said. “And I didn’t think much of it either because at that time, I thought the government was checking out anyone who had ties to Pakistan.”

It is unclear how widely disseminated the warning was. But in that probation hearing one month later, the government enlisted Mr. Headley’s help again, suspending his sentence in exchange for what court records described only as “continuing cooperation.” According to the transcript, it was a rushed affair. The probation officer apologized for not being properly dressed, and the lawyers explained that they had not been able to make their case in writing. Mr. Headley was a potential gold mine, according to an official knowledgeable about the agreement to release him from probation. One person involved in the case said American agencies had “zero in terms of reliable intelligence. And it was clear from the conversations about him that the government was considering assignments that went beyond drugs.”

American authorities have not disclosed what happened after Mr. Headley resumed his role as an informant. But in December 2001, the same month Mr. Headley departed for Pakistan, the United States designated the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba as a terrorist organization. Less than two months later — in February 2002 — Mr. Headley began training with the group on “the merits of waging jihad.”

Between 2002 and 2005, Mr. Headley attended at least four additional Lashkar sessions, including training on surveillance and small-arms combat. Then in 2007, he began scouting targets for the group to attack in Mumbai, staying at least twice at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, and hiring fishermen for private tours of the port that helped him identify where the sea-traveling attackers could land. It is unclear when and why his connections to the United States government ended.

After the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Headley apparently turned his attention to Europe, according to recently released transcripts of his questioning by the Indian authorities. He contacted Ilyas Kashmiri, widely considered one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives, and begin plotting the attack against the Danish newspaper, according to his own account. Mr. Kashmiri put Mr. Headley in touch with Qaeda operatives in Europe who would help. He traveled to Britain in August 2009, then to Stockholm.

British intelligence authorities alerted the United States to Mr. Headley’s August meeting in Britain, saying that they believed he was involved in a plot against the Denmark newspaper. He was arrested in connection with the Denmark plot last October.

American authorities had no idea that he was also involved in the Mumbai attacks until he told them. Since then, he has been in federal custody in Chicago.

An American counterterrorism official said that agents who had questioned Mr. Headley called him “dangerously engaging.” The official said Mr. Headley was “a very charming individual who clearly knows how to manipulate the system to get what he wants” and added that agents steeled themselves before meeting with him so as not to “get sucked into his mind games.”


Posted on on November 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


We are sticking out our neck by saying what we think should happen. We do not know if finally we are going to witness the implementation of the promise for change that the US voters hoped for two years ago, and not having seen signs of it they sat out this week’s elections. WE ARE LOOKING FOR THE RESET – and hope to see it start in foreign policy first.

The President left on his trip on Friday morning – November 5, 2010 The itinerary is as follows:

INDIA – Saturday, Nov. 6 till Monday, Nov. 8: Mumbai, India
On Saturday – Make statement at Taj Hotel commemorating Mumbai terrorist attacks, visit Gandhi Museum, attend a U.S.-India Business Council meeting, deliver speech focusing U.S.-India economic relationship.

On Sunday, Nov. 7, and Monday, Nov. 8: New Delhi, India
Sunday | Visit Humayun’s Tomb, UNESCO World Heritage site, private dinner with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Monday | Wreath-laying at Gandhi’s grave, bilateral meeting and news conference with Singh, address to Indian Parliament, attend state dinner.

INDONESIA – Tuesday, Nov. 9, and Wednesday, Nov. 10: Jakarta, Indonesia
Tuesday | Meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, joint news conference, attend official dinner.
Wednesday | Lay wreath at Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta, visit Istiqlal Mosque, deliver speech focusing on U.S.-Indonesia partnership, democracy and development, and U.S. outreach to Muslim communities around the world.

KOREA – Wednesday, Nov. 10, through Friday, Nov. 12: Seoul, South Korea
Wednesday | Arrive in Seoul.
Thursday | On Veterans Day, speak to U.S. troops at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, meet with President Lee Myung-bak, followed by news conference, bilateral meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao; attend G-20 dinner.
Friday: Attend G20; hold a news conference.

JAPAN – Saturday, Nov. 13: Tokyo, Japan
Deliver remarks to business leaders at APEC meetings, bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, meet with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, attend working lunch and leaders retreat, official APEC dinner.
Sunday, Nov. 14: Kamakura, Yokohama, Japan
Meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, attend APEC leaders retreat and working lunch, visit Great Buddha statue, return to U.S.


What we have here is visits to Japan and Indonesia followed by meetings with  G-20 Heads of State in Seoul and APEC Heads of State in Tokyo and Kamakura, Japan – and obviously also with the Host Governments.

The binding element between visits to India, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan is that these are the four States of the region of East and Far East Asia that are the most advanced democracies of this region. In term of size of the population, the US at 311 million people is third in the World, but India has 1.2 billion people and second to China’s 1.34 billion, while Indonesia with 238 million is fourth in size and largest Muslim country in the World. Japan at 127 million and South Korea at 50 million are further down that list. These last two countries might have developed much faster, but today the size of the potential consumer economic force has become also the source of economic might – thus India and Indonesia are very important new contenders in a region that is dominated by China that advanced faster because it has put economic development ahead of democratization.

The US went along with China under a G2 concept, but lately it seems that it is much more to the US National interest to cooperate with India and Indonesia in order to enlarge the global system for purpose of balance. In this context Democracies are natural allies of the US. But the last two Presidents, Clinton and G.W. Bush, went to India and promised many things, but eventually had nothing to show in tangible results. Up to now President Obama did not even try to make any offers to India, and his great potential ambiance with Indonesia was wasted in these past two years also, perhaps for reasons that were not directly dependent of him. What India noticed was the give away of arms to Pakistan while they were not even allowed to buy some weapons in the US or from US allies.

President G.W. Bush who seemed to appreciate the Indian democracy was of no help when an Indian, Shashi Tharoor, a UN Under-Secretary General, competed for the office of UN Secretary General, while China vetoed him, and abstained in regard to the Korean candidate. This sealed the contest without any further US comments when all sorts of other deals rolled on as a consequence. The US just had no interest in the UN those days. The US under President Obama contends that this has changed.


APEC’s 21 members, The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum considered the premier economic organization in the Asia-Pacific region, established in 1989 by  a mere 12 economies, including the United States, include’s now: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and Vietnam. Please note – there are three variations on the China theme – but no India. The US State Department evaluates APEC as follows: 55 percent of Global GDP, 58 percent of U.S. Goods Exports, 43 percent of World Trade. The Indians can read this also.

G20 members: China, Japan (East Asia); India (South Asia); Indonesia (South East Asia); Saudi Arabia (West Asia); Australia (Oceania); South Africa (Africa); Canada, Mexico, US (North America); Argentina, Brazil (South America); France, Germany, Italy, UK, and the EU for the rest (Europe). Here there is a bigger spread but it also does not cover the top 20 economies.

President Obama will clearly have to pick his conversation partners and we await to see the choices. In the mean-time there seem to be all sorts of bad-wishers that attack the President already for having decided on this trip. We will not deal here with the negatives. True to our title for this piece – let us see what the President wants to achieve in the next two years.


From the Briefing to the Foreign Press – Mike Hammer, Spokesman for the National Security Council –
Washington, DC, November 4, 2010

“I know we’ve had an election here that’s gotten not only domestic attention but a lot of international attention, and so I wanted to make a few remarks regarding President Obama’s continuing foreign and national security policy priorities in the coming months. And I’ll obviously take any questions that you might have.

So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll make some introductory remarks, mostly focused on where we are today after nearly two years here in the Obama Administration.

So the President, in coming to office, and you’ve heard me brief this before, but he certainly wanted to reestablish American leadership and have better American standing in the world; to have a revitalization of our alliances with NATO, Korea, and Japan; to engage constructively with the major powers, whether that be Russia and China; to recognize emerging powers in the case of India, which is important obviously with this upcoming trip, and others like South Africa and Brazil; and to do what is necessary not only to advance American interests but also to promote economic prosperity around the globe, because in this interdependent world, it’s not just about having our economy in order but rather we also need to internationally address it and we need to address the financial crisis. And we’ve done a lot of work in the G-20 with our partners, and that’s part of this trip. And I think this upcoming trip really encapsulates a lot of the President’s agenda, both domestic and foreign, particularly on the economic side in terms of promoting jobs and exports.

In terms of just some of the things that we’ll be looking to do in the coming months to reassure you around the world that we are very much committed and the President’s going to continue as he has since January 21st, 2009, continuing to work every day on advancing our American interests and advancing our foreign policy. We will be clearly – beyond this immediate trip, we have, as you know, the NATO Summit in Lisbon in November 19th and 20th, including an important EU Summit. We have a possibility of resumption of some type of discussions with Iran over their nuclear program, an invitation that the P-5+1 extended through High Representative Lady Ashton. We have clearly a number of other issues that we’re working, like the Middle East peace process, where Secretary Clinton with Senator Mitchell and a number of others on our foreign policy team are trying to advance that and still working very hard every day on it. We have in the coming year clearly with – in December what is known as the Afghan Policy Review, which, in essence, is an assessment taking stock of where we are and seeing if we need to make any refinements. And in January, we have a referendum in Sudan of extreme importance which we are working very hard with others to try to ensure that there’s – those referenda go forward in accordance with the CPA, on-time and credibly.

And we have some domestic agenda in terms that is linked internationally, the President, you may have heard, talked about it this morning in wanting to ratify the New START Treaty in keeping with the bipartisan tradition that we have had historically in advancing these types of arms control agreements. And that’s something that the Administration will be working very hard on with our new colleagues but also clearly with the existing Congress to try to see if we can get this done through the lame duck session.”


The first set of questions dealt with the India-Pakistan conundrum and the first answer was:

As you’ve heard repeatedly from others in the Administration, we support and encourage ongoing efforts between India and Pakistan to resolve their issues directly. We’ve seen some efforts in the past and the meetings that they’ve had are encouraging, but clearly it is something that the two need to resolve.
In terms of how Pakistan should view the visit to India, I think your question framed it really well in the sense that the United States does enjoy very positive and fruitful relations with both countries, with both India and Pakistan. And one is not at the expense of the other. I think both countries benefit from American engagement in the region and trying to promote greater economic growth to see that these democracies, both of them, need to continue to flourish. And so I would hope that our Pakistani friends – and the President did meet with the Pakistani delegation that was here not too long ago on the occasion of the Pakistan – U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, whereby he basically made clear that he intends to travel to Pakistan in 2011 and that, again, we are very interested in working with each country and having the most positive bilateral relations we can have.
These are issues that benefit all our people, that we want to see stability and growth of the economies, and that comes through peace. And so hopefully it will be seen in that spirit, and we certainly look forward to the opportunity sometime in the future to visit Pakistan.

Further India and Paskistan questions:

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Betwa Sharma. I am with the Press Trust of India. I have a question regarding the information that was provided by David Headley’s wives and what is being dubbed as an intelligence failure in India. Is this – are these concerns – is this something that the President is going to address when he meets Prime Minister Singh? And also, could you talk about how the conversation on sort of developing better counterterrorism intelligence communications – how is that conversation going to move forward?
MR. HAMMER: All right. Thank you for your question. First let me address the second part first. We enjoy terrific and excellent counterterrorism cooperation with India, and this Administration in particular has gone to great lengths to make sure that we are working together. Both India and the United States suffered tragic losses in the Mumbai bombing and it’s a shared experience. And we both, these democracies, want to ensure that incidents like this never occur.
And specifically relating to your question about Headley, we have provided access to the Indian Government to him. We clearly are looking back and our office, the Director of National Intelligence, is conducting an after-action review to look back and see if there are lessons learned that can be taken from whatever information was out there. We have to recognize this happened some time ago.
And I don’t want to, again, preempt what the President might specifically discuss with Prime Minister Sing. In the broad umbrella, I can assure you that strengthening counterterrorism cooperation will be on the agenda. The President will have an event that will focus on this as soon as we arrive at the Taj Hotel there in Mumbia. So I think there’s a lot more that we will be hearing in the coming days about – involving our counterterrorism cooperation. But on the Headley case, again, we shared information relating to terrorist threats as we had them at the time that we had them, and I think I’ll stop at that.
MODERATOR: Our colleague Raj. Let’s just give him a question, from India.
QUESTION: Thank you. Yashwant Raj from Hindustan Times India. Two questions, Mr. Hammer. One, how much – we’re hearing about a figure of $200 million a day, that’s what it’s going to cost the U.S. Administration for President’s trip around Asia. This is going wild on the web now. There are blogs and blogs on this.
MR. HAMMER: Can you answer where that information comes from?
QUESTION: I just said blogs.
MR. HAMMER: Right. And is it based on any reputable reporting?
QUESTION: It quotes an Indian official in Mumbai, but it is an unidentified Indian official in Mumbai.
MR. HAMMER: Correct, right. No, I just wanted to clarify that because we don’t know where these reports are coming from. They seem to be wildly inflated in terms of the cost. I’m not going to get into the cost issues, but certainly I wouldn’t pay a lot of credence to that.

QUESTION: Second question. It’s on the nuclear liability bill. India just signed Sea — Convention on Compensatory – Convention on Supplementary Damages. Now, when we asked the Administration the day after, they said – William Burns said, well, it’s a positive move. Now, I believe American companies are still not going, still not interested in doing business on this front. Could you please talk about this? Thank you.

MR. HAMMER: Right. As you’ve pointed out, Under Secretary Bill Burns did address this question. We do see that as a positive step. It’s something that’s continuing to be worked and that the American companies are addressing themselves. I’m sure it’ll be something that we’ll be discussing in the course of the trip, but I don’t have any real news to go further regarding that issue.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Indira Kannan with CNN-IBN and Business Standard. I have a very specific question on the issue of U.S. export controls of high technology items to India. In fact, President Obama had said in an interview to PTI, actually, that this is a very complex issue. And he sounded a little circumspect on this particular topic. And I believe on the same day, though, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said very clearly that we should expect a significant announcement on export controls during the President’s visit.
I’m just trying to understand, is there still a debate in the Administration about how far the U.S. should go on this? And what is the latest thinking on this issue? Thanks.
MR. HAMMER: Thank you. Thank you for your question. As you point out, the President did address this in his PTI interview. And believe me, if the President says this is a complex issue, I agree.
This is something that will come up in the course of this visit to India. I don’t, again, want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of any potential announcements, but it is complicated. And we’re working through it. I know that Secretary Locke and others have been very engaged with our Indian counterparts, and so we’ll see where this ends up. But again, the President will be in India this coming Saturday and then he’ll have an opportunity to – obviously, with meetings with Prime Minister Singh and others in New Delhi, will have an opportunity to address these questions directly.


The question:

MODERATOR: Thanks, Mike. Before we take another question in Washington, we’re going to go to one of our colleagues in the New York Foreign Press Center. New York, please go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Pincas Jawetz from Sustainable Development Media. My question is about the UN. The position of the UN Secretary General is assumed that will have to go again to an Asian, and remembering that before there was an Indian runner- up that was vetoed by China and the present secretary general was only – had the benefit of China simply abstaining. Has this created a move amongst three countries which will be visited by the President now in terms of positions at the UN? Will the subject of the appointment by the UN of a secretary general be on the table on this trip?
MR. HAMMER: Well, that’s probably all a better question to ask Ambassador Rice, who represents us quite well there at the United Nations, but I appreciate the question. I don’t know specifically, quite frankly, if the subject of the next secretary general will come up. I mean, clearly the United States will want to continue to work with the United Nations in the way that this Administration has found is incredibly productive in terms of trying to resolve some of the major challenges that we face in the world today, and we have an incredibly able representative at the UN who does that. The President had a tremendously successful trip to the UN General Assembly this year, and I think it’s important to recognize that part of his effort in terms of reestablishing the United States leadership around the world has borne fruit. When we now are going to the United Nations, you see a number of our colleagues in countries, other countries, very interested in engaging with us, again, to address the many challenges that we face around the globe. And that’s something that clearly we will continue regardless of whomever would be the next secretary general at the United Nations. But thank you for your question, New York.


Regarding the Middle East:

QUESTION: Kim Ghattas with the BBC. I have two questions. Two separate but very quick, one a bit broad. A lot has been written about the impact of the midterm elections on the President’s ability to carry out his foreign policy agenda. I wanted to have your candid assessment, if possible, about whether you think it is accurate to say that it is going to be much more difficult. And if it’s not going to be much more difficult, why is that? If you can explain to a world audience why the President will still be able to carry out his foreign policy agenda as he wishes or why in some cases it might be difficult.
And very quickly on the Middle East, it’s been quite tough for this Administration to push forward with talks in the Middle East. The results of the midterm elections were seen by some as a victory for Israel, predicting a much tougher – a toughening of Israel’s position in those talks. Do you think that President Obama is still in a position to ask Israel to make the difficult sacrifices that are required to make those talks move forward?
MR. HAMMER: Thanks, Kim. Good seeing you. Let me start with the first question. I’ve had the great privilege to serve in the last three administrations at the White House and have seen that there is a very strong tradition in the United States of bipartisanship. National security interests are such that both Republicans and Democrats see them very much in the same way, and that is that we want to ensure the safety and protection of the American people, we want to create economic opportunity and certainly a better future for America.
And so I don’t see that there’s any reason to be concerned as far as the President’s ability to continue to push forward with a very robust international agenda that advances the interests of the United States. The President was very clear yesterday in his press conference relating to domestic issues that he wants to work with the new Congress and will do so. But particularly on the issues of foreign policy, you may see disagreements occasionally about the type of approach that may be undertaken, but it’s quite heartening as an American to see that both parties truly want to and see the interests very much in similar ways and should be able to continue to work together. So we’re not at all concerned about that. In fact, what you saw in our elections, it’s a moment of celebration of American democracy, that the American people are the ones that really have the power and through that power the President and the rest of his team try every day to work hard to advance their interests.
As that relates the second question on the Middle East, we certainly as an administration, as we’ve said multiple times before and you’ve heard me say that as well, the President from his first day in office felt that it was important for the United States to engage, to try to advance peace in the Middle East. This is a vexing and difficult problem; we all recognize that. It’ll take tremendous courage on the part of both Israelis and Palestinians, and then all the others of us that need to support that process, to get the kind of agreement that is necessary to finally put this conflict to rest.
We are still working the issue very hard. We anticipated it would be difficult, but you’ve seen the President engaged very directly as needed. And then he, of course, he has Secretary Clinton and an extremely able special envoy in Senator Mitchell, who are tireless in their efforts to try to advance peace. And we still are very much committed and keen on ensuring that these direct talks resume and should hopefully move forward. But we know that it’s a difficult process. If it weren’t, it would have been realized already. And we will continue to, again, work hard every day to try to see if what is possible is finally achievable.


On the G-20:

QUESTION: KBS, Korean Broadcasting System. What is the U.S. expectation of the G-20 Seoul Summit? And could you give us an assessment on South Korea’s role as a co-chair person, chairman country in this G-20 Seoul Summit?
MR. HAMMER: Well, first, a lot of compliments go to President Lee and his leadership, again, for Korea to host the first G-20 in Asia. From what I hear, the preparations are very well-prepared and we will enjoy, I’m sure, our short visit to Seoul for this summit.
On the broader question, I think Mike Froman and Lael Brainard, who had briefed at the White House, addressed a lot of the sort of focus and interest that we have at the G-20. There’s no question that while we have worked with the G-20, starting in that first meeting that President Obama went to in April in London of last year, and then following on with other meetings like the one in Pittsburgh and more recently in Toronto, that this group of countries, these leading economies, need to work together to ensure the global economic health.
And there are different approaches. We will be discussing how best to proceed. Secretary Geithner has been very active in pushing forward what the U.S. views as the best way to try to ensure that this economic – global economic recovery continues. And President Obama will obviously be moving ahead with our ideas, but again, I don’t want to go beyond what has already been briefed on this, other than to say that – again, from an American perspective, there’s always, on these foreign trips, also a link back for the American people.
And I think it’s important to understand that if – that it’s in this interconnected world, particularly on the economic front, that policies and – that are undertaken, if coordinated, can have and achieve better results. And I think that’s been, really, the focus of the Obama Administration.


Clearly, there were no “give aways” at the press conference. Our own question, fairly and honestly, was intended more on putting the subject on the table, rather then in anticipation that secrets will be provided to the media. Nevertheless, it is clear to us that Mr. Obama will not get anywhere with the Indians unless there is a symbolic move that shows the US is finally ready to recognize that India is the third global power – to be. India must get a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and until that is processed – it should get at least the job of UN Secretary-General that was denied to it by China, and not supported by the US, last time around.

But that is not all – our point is that the trade issues will not buy India cheaply. Giving arms to Pakistan and letting India buy arms in the US for the benefit of US arm manufacturing jobs, will not fly in India. Much more is needed in the President’s briefcase, and we believe he has this material with him.

This belief is the reason for the RESET in the title. It comes from the defeat of the Middle East US policy and thus a go-East – that is more to the East – to the Democracies-in-existence approach seems logical. In effect this is a return to G.W. Bush talk and this time hopefully with real ideas and projects in the bag. The US may finally see that the Pakistan policy did not work and real adjustments are required.


The Financial Times of Friday November 5, 2010 has some good observations on the above – so let us see them:

Obama’s visit raises New Delhi’s UN hopes – Nov-02, 2010

US papers write nothing close to that – all they think about is the 200 business people that will accompany the President – but what will the President-to-President talks yield? for that one must look it up overseas. Too bad indeed.

Memo to Obama: Back India to join the UN’s club.

By Ashutosh Varshney, professor of political science at Brown University

Published: The Financial Times, November 4 2010

When George W. Bush went to India on his historic trip in 2006, he repeatedly stressed America’s and India’s shared democratic credentials. This should be at the forefront of Barack Obama’s mind as he starts his visit to India on Saturday.

How will he frame the two powers’ relationship? Will he present the India-US friendship as an expression of core political values – freedom to vote, speak, move and worship, and tolerance of religious and ethnic diversity – that they share?

Will he present that bond as a cornerstone of a new order, especially given the absence of political freedoms in a rising China?

Will he even take the momentous step of endorsing India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council? He should.

During the cold war, US and India had a dialogue of the deaf. The three pillars of the relationship – security concerns, economic beliefs and political values – were misaligned. Democracy could not trump the differences in economic philosophies and security interests. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the contradictions began to disappear. India also shifted economic gear, lifting controls over business. India’s entrepreneurs have by now ushered in an economic revolution. Without Indian software, indeed, thousands of US companies would not be as internationally competitive.

Into these currents have entered two new factors, pushing the two nations closer: India’s American diaspora, and the rise of China.

As business executives, professors, doctors, engineers and writers, Indian Americans are hugely successful. In the 1960s and 1970s, their chances of upward mobility were limited at home. America gave them huge rewards for their efforts and talents. They have developed profound admiration for the American way even as their fondness for India endures. They are now a new force in US politics, bringing America and India closer.

The rise of China has further altered the context. Admiration for China’s achievements is increasingly blended in the US and India with concern over its economic and strategic assertions. China has had spats with Japan and India; other neighbours are also worried about China’s territorial and maritime claims. The world does not wish to isolate China. But underlying concerns will remain until China embraces democratic values.

This is where Mr Obama’s opportunity lies. The contrasts between India and China are stark. China’s economic boom is led by state-owned enterprises; India’s by private entrepreneurs. India’s exchange rate is market-driven; China insists on keeping its currency undervalued. China keeps its Nobel Laureate in jail; a Booker prize-winning Indian writer, who recently gave a contentious call for Kashmir’s independence, is neither imprisoned, nor will be. China does not allow its rural citizens to come freely to cities; Mumbai’s slums are paradoxically part of India’s freedoms, as the poor move in search of jobs and make homes wherever they can find a few square feet.

The broader point is more fundamental. Universal franchise came to the west only after the industrial revolution. Among the so-called first Asian tigers, South Korea and Taiwan also turned democratic only after three decades of economic boom. India’s economic surge is recent. Even when growth was sluggish, India did not abandon democracy. At low levels of income, no other country has maintained a universal-franchise democracy so long. India has never claimed freedoms should be suspended until citizens have become rich.

If Mr Obama casts the evolving India-US friendship in terms of shared democratic values, he will send a message that poor nations do not have to choose between democracy and economic growth. The Chinese model is premised upon the priority of economic growth over political freedoms. If Mr Obama publicly supports India’s bid for permanent membership of the Security Council, he will also begin the process of founding a new world order, where power will also be a function of political values, not simply of military and economic might.

Mr Obama should openly back India for permanent membership. That would be an ambitious way to match Mr Bush’s Indian breakthrough. It would also give recognition to India’s democratic perseverance and recruit India as a partner in global problem-solving. Why leave it for the second term, or for the next president?



India visit to test Obama’s diplomacy

By James Lamont in New Delhi

Published: The Financial Times, November 4 2010 17:36

When Barack Obama, US president, lands in Mumbai this weekend he will stay in a hotel that is a potent symbol of India’s decades-old antagonism with neighbouring Pakistan.

The seafront Taj Hotel was the highest profile target of the 2008 terror attacks on India’s business and financial centre. Its smouldering dome and flame-filled arched windows are the enduring image of an event that filled Indians with an overwhelming sense of their own vulnerability.

The burning Taj was also testament to the limits of US diplomacy in the region. Leaders of Laskhar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group blamed by India and others for the strike, are still at large and shielded from justice by Islamabad, suspicious Indian cabinet members believe. Pakistan has always denied such charges, insisting that the attack on Mumbai and other terrorist outrages were perpetrated by non-state actors.

Failure to end the hostility between India and Pakistan is one of the shortcomings of US foreign policy and broader international engagement in south Asia.

Washington, a long-standing ally of Pakistan, now seeks to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with India in a new democratic axis.

But courting your friend’s enemy is never easy, and will test Mr Obama’s diplomatic skills during his three-day visit.

The US supports Pakistan financially, while supplying military hardware and intelligence to both countries. Yet it appears to have scant purchase on either’s bristling tactical posture against the other.

The withdrawal of tanks, infantry divisions and fighter jets from their shared border is crucial to peace in the region, as is the outcome of the war in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of US troops are tied-up.

For the Taliban to be defeated or pacified, Pakistan’s army has to look west towards insurgent-ridden Afghanistan, not east towards increasingly prosperous India.

As the Pakistan army mobilised against the Taliban who overran the Swat valley last year, a long overdue shift in strategic balance looked to be in the making.

Pakistani politicians and military leaders called the Swat campaign a “watershed”. But in reality the country’s defensive balance has barely shifted. Only five Pakistani divisions redeployed from the Indian border to the Afghan border.

At Pakistan’s military headquarters in Rawalpindi, India is still Enemy No 1. General Ashfaq Kayani describes his army’s posture as “India-centric” and says this is unlikely to change until a long-running dispute between India and Pakistan over who controls the disputed territory of Kashmir is resolved. Gen Kayani’s colleagues support this view.

Kashmir, the flashpoint for three wars between India and Pakistan and also the raison d’être for their nuclear arms race, continues to hobble any political dialogue or wider regional settlement.

In spite of being near bankrupt, Pakistan is ordering up to 250 Chinese-designed JF-17s and will also receive 18 F-16s from the US by the end of the year. India, meanwhile, will soon splurge about $11bn on 126 new jet fighters in a coveted tender.

This mutual rearmament is taking place while both countries claim they crave peace. Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, speaks of their “shared destiny”, while Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, bravely risked his own fragile hold on office by offering to withdraw Pakistan’s nuclear first-strike protocol.

The lesson of the Taj Hotel is that progress on these issues is badly needed. Another terror attack, either on India or the US, would almost certainly make a US withdrawal from Afghanistan more difficult, and further aggravate a religiously charged animosity that threatens to rob south Asia of its potential for another half century.



Posted on on October 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

What Obama can accomplish in India.

By C. Fred Bergsten and Arvind Subramanian, Opinions from The Washington Post.

Thursday, October 28, 2010
President Obama travels to India next week for the longest visit to a foreign country of his presidency. His goal is to strengthen India-U.S. cooperation, but standing between the recent heady past and a future full of promise is a highly problematic present.

Last year, the United States and India concluded a landmark nuclear agreement, setting a bar for cooperation that is proving difficult to match. George W. Bush and the neoconservatives, who initiated discussions on this agreement in 2005, felt a visceral affinity for India as a vibrant democracy and as a strategic counterweight to China. But this administration has other priorities and a different worldview. Moreover, it has no Indophiles (no Condoleezza Rice or Robert Blackwill) to emphasize India’s importance.

The future of cooperation is bright, nevertheless, because both countries have strong and fundamental commitments to democracy and open societies. This is manifest in growing people-to-people links between the two countries.

The Indian economy, which will soon overtake Japan’s to become the world’s third-largest in purchasing power, only adds to the allure of cooperation. And dealing with a rising China will remain a shared concern.

But current realities are another matter. Shared long-term goals in battling terrorism and bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan quickly give way to sharp differences on tactics and short-term actions.

On trade, India is increasingly alarmed by bipartisan congressional willingness to erect barriers to Indian skilled labor and outsourcing without even a whiff of protest from the Obama administration.

It senses what Montek Ahluwalia, a leading Indian policymaker, calls an “intellectual climate change” in U.S. attitudes toward globalization.

For its part, India is deterring U.S. investors with a series of policy actions, impeding the closer ties that could come through U.S. companies’ participation in Indian economic dynamism. India has passed legislation creating what seems to be open-ended liability for potential suppliers of nuclear equipment (General Electric, for example). An old case stemming from the deadly 1984 accident at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal (now owned by Dow) that was considered settled in 1989 may be reopened. American investors are reevaluating whether India, despite its rapid economic growth, is friendly to investors and property rights.

Some cooperation is possible in the short run: India, which is also affected by China’s undervalued currency, could join with the United States to seek a multilateral solution. India could also find ways to ensure that U.S. firms get a large share of its nuclear and defense equipment purchases. In return, the United States could push for India’s inclusion in broader Asia-Pacific economic arrangements, beginning with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

But the dilemma for the two governments is how to keep the embers of the relationship glowing so that its future promise can be realized, even if political constraints will not permit aggressive actions now. One possibility would be to announce objectives that are ambitious enough to differentiate this relationship from others even if they cannot be met soon. These goals could guide the preparatory work for subsequent discussions.

Two objectives in particular might be worthy of public embrace: a permanent seat for India on the U.N. Security Council and a U.S.-India economic partnership agreement, possibly culminating in a “free-trade agreement of the democracies.”

The case for Security Council membership is getting stronger. India’s economy has more purchasing power than that of Britain, France or Russia. It is a nuclear power, as certified by Security Council members, and unlike China and Russia, it is a robust democracy. It has stronger credentials for the Security Council than some current members. In establishing the Group of 20, the United States took the lead in modernizing antiquated structures of global economic governance. It is time to do the same for the counterpart security institutions.

The case for closer trade relations is also growing. From the U.S. perspective, a series of free-trade agreements being negotiated between India and other major economies (Japan, Korea, the European Union, even Canada) will lead to discrimination against U.S. businesses in the Indian market and greater access for suppliers from Europe and Asia. The faster India grows – and annual growth of 8 to 9 percent is within reach in the next decade – the more business opportunities will be beyond the grasp of American firms. A free-trade agreement would address this problem.

For India, the benefits would be assured access to U.S. markets. Above all, Indian firms in the information-technology sector – the key to India’s growth – would want to prevent an outbreak of protectionism that could threaten India’s economic prospects.

Bold actions to bring the United States and India closer together are perhaps impossible right now. But ambitious objectives, publicly professed and enthusiastically embraced, could be an acceptable substitute. They would be a major “deliverable” from the president’s upcoming trip.

C. Fred Bergsten and Arvind Subramanian are director and senior fellow, respectively, at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.