Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard

Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard: Where Empires Go to Die
by Tom Engelhardt
It is now a commonplace -- as a lead article in the New York Times's Week in Review pointed out recently -- that Afghanistan is "the graveyard of empires." Given Barack Obama's call for a greater focus on the Afghan War ("we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq..."), and given indications that a "surge" of U.S. troops is about to get underway there, Afghanistan's dangers have been much in the news lately.
 
Some of the writing on this subject, including recent essays by Juan Cole at Salon.com, Robert Dreyfuss at the Nation, and John Robertson at the War in Context website, has been incisive on just how the new administration's policy initiatives might transform Afghanistan and the increasingly unhinged Pakistani tribal borderlands into "Obama's War."

In other words, "the graveyard" has been getting its due. Far less attention has been paid to the "empire" part of the equation. And there's a good reason for that -- at least in Washington. Despite escalating worries about the deteriorating situation, no one in our nation's capital is ready to believe that Afghanistan could actually be the "graveyard" for the American role as the dominant hegemon on this planet.

In truth, to give "empire" its due you would have to start with a reassessment of how the Cold War ended.
 
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Graveyard of Empires: America's New Asian Quagmire

The Graveyard of Empires: America's New Asian Quagmire
by Tom Burghardt
With the situation on the ground rapidly deteriorating, U.S. imperialism's South Asian adventure is going off the rails. The New York Times reported February 4 that supplies "intended for NATO forces in Afghanistan were suspended Tuesday after Taliban militants blew up a highway bridge in the Khyber Pass region, a lawless northwestern tribal area straddling the border with Afghanistan."

The 30-yard-long iron bridge, located 15 miles northwest of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) provincial capital, Peshawar, a thriving metropolis of several million people, was a major supply route ferrying some 80 percent of NATO supplies into Afghanistan.
 
Tuesday's attacks were followed-up Wednesday when insurgents torched 10 supply trucks returning from Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported. Supplies destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan--primarily food and fuel--are trucked through Pakistan by local contractors. Many are now refusing to drive the circuitous route through the Khyber Pass because of the dangerous conditions.


  
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War on Terror: Hoax

The War on Terror is a Hoax
by Paul Craig Roberts
According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections.  Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists. 

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us.  We would know it from events.  As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.
 
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The More Change the More the Same

Change the Lobby
by Ramzy Baroud
One cannot emphasize enough the stranglehold Israel’s lobbying infrastructure has on US foreign policy. The events of recent weeks undoubtedly attest to this. “The special relationship” that has been historically fostered between the US and Israel in fact is often a relationship of leverage, manipulation and intimidation, and often leads to the US supporting actions or resolutions that stand at complete odds with the interests of the American people.

The promise of change echoed the world over as people from all corners anticipated the magic moment Obama could actually change the devastating reality in which we live today. But just weeks before his inauguration, Israel unleashed the most barbaric attacks on defenseless Palestinian civilians since 1948. Civil societies expressed outrage and called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes and genocide. Other nations cut diplomatic ties completely with the Jewish state. But the man of change did absolutely nothing. For weeks he was completely silent. Even in his first days in office, Obama made no mention of the Israeli genocide in Gaza. So, what of this change that he promised? What kind of hold does Israel have to silence the President of the United States?
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Contradictions Between the Politics of Obama and Ethics

Reflections of Fidel: Contradictions between the politics of Obama and ethics
by Fidel Castro
THE other day I noted some of Obama’s ideas that point to his role within a system that is the negation of every just principle.

There are people who throw up their hands in horror at the expression of any critical opinion of this important figure, even when it is done decently and respectfully. This is always accompanied by subtle and not so subtle darts from those who possess the means to circulate and transform such opinions into components of media terrorism, which they impose on the peoples in order to sustain the unsustainable.

Without exception, any criticism of mine is qualified as an attack, a charge or other similar nouns that reflect a lack of consideration and courtesy toward the person to whom they are directed. On this occasion, it is necessary to ask certain questions to which the new president of the United States should respond, among the many that could be formulated.
 
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US Homelessness Numbers Rising

US Homelessness Numbers Rising: Most foreclosure victims are renters whose landlords failed to pay their mortgages
by Sherwood Ross
Every Christmas season a large electric star visible for miles is illuminated on a mountainside overlooking Bethlehem, Pa, to commemorate the time the holy family of Christianity took refuge in a manger on the night of Christ's birth.
 
This past Christmas, this city of 71,000 - whose principal landmark is the rusting remains of the once thriving Bethlehem Steel Corporation - was unable to shelter its own growing number of homeless families from bitterly cold weather.


 
 
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Canadian Mining Outfit Threatens El Salvador Enviros

Canadian Company Threatens El Salvador with Lawsuit Over Mining Project
by Cyril Mychalejko   
A Canadian mining company intends to sue El Salvador's government for several hundred million dollars if it is not granted permission to open a widely unpopular gold and silver mine that scientists warn would have devastating effects on local water supplies.

Pacific Rim Mining Corp., using its Nevada-based subsidiary Pac Rim Cayman LLC, filed a Notice of Intent on Dec. 9 through provisions in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that allow transnational corporations to sue governments over laws and decisions that often put public interests ahead of corporate profits.

"We reject Pacific Rim’s claims. Giving over [exploitation] permission would be a death sentence from the country and the arbitration can’t be accepted because it is the mining company that should be sued," the National Table Against Metallic Mining, and umbrella group of social movements and NGO's, responded in a statement.
 
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Worry: Everything's Gonna Be Not All Right

It’s Not Going to Be OK
by Chris Hedges
The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.

At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.

How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise up out of the slime in moments of crisis to offer fantastic visions? Will we radically transform our system to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush all dissent? We won't have to wait long to find out.
 
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Canadian Mint Orders Tar Sands Protest Desist

Mint Demands Tanker Protest 'Cease and Desist'
by Dogwood Initiative
The Royal Canadian Mint has issued Dogwood Initiative with a cease and desist order regarding their current campaign to protect the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest from tar sands tankers and oil spills.
 
The Royal Canadian Mint has issued Dogwood Initiative with a cease and desist order regarding their current campaign to protect the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest from tar sands tankers and oil spills.

In letters sent to Dogwood Initiative and businesses involved in the campaign the Mint accuses the BC based non-profit of trademark violations and contravening the Currency Act (Section 11) by using Canadian coins for purposes other  "than as currency" and warns of possible summary convictions, fines and imprisonment.
 
 
 
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The Molten Core of Our Modern Madness

Heart of Darkness: The Molten Core of Our Modern Madness
by Chris Floyd   
Something momentous is happening over at "Once Upon a Time." Arthur Silber has at last begun his long-awaited series on "Tribalism": the deep-rooted, deep-rutted, largely unconscious mental-emotional structures that lock human beings into such horrifically destructive modes of behavior, on every level, from the most intimate and individual to the most public and universal.

The first two parts of the series (here and here) are up at his blog now, and both are marvelous, trenchant, and moving works.
 
Here you will find that rarest of things: a human voice -- distinct, unique, authentic -- speaking to you directly, with integrity, of deeply meaningful things. Here you will find a dimension of depth that has few if any parallels in political commentary anywhere today.
 
For while politics is the immediate context of Silber's visionary analysis, as he says, rightly:   
 
"Politics is only a symptom of a more fundamental condition. Unless we address these more fundamental concerns, the symptom will never be altered in a lasting way."
 
 
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A Pliable Population: Using Reconstruction as a Weapon

Gaza New Siege Mechanism
by Nicola Nasser
The rebuilding of Gaza has become the latest siege weapon. The Israeli occupation, the US that had backed its offensive, and the EU which did nothing to stop it are conspiring to turn the reconstruction process into a means to produce a suitable "peace partner" while the Arab summit in Kuwait hopes to use it to bring about Palestinian reconciliation.
 
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) government is urging all parties and others to look to it as the sole channel for administering the construction process on the grounds that it is the government formed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation that is recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Soon we will see that freezing reconstruction will become the tool of all those parties for extracting from the resistance what they have been unable to gain from three weeks of warfare and the long blockade that preceded it.

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THE BBC, IMPARTIALITY, AND THE HIDDEN LOGIC OF MASSACRE

THE BBC, IMPARTIALITY, AND THE HIDDEN LOGIC OF MASSACRE - PART 1
by Media Lens
Writing in the Independent last week, Robert Fisk commented on the BBC's refusal to broadcast an appeal for Gaza by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC):

"The BBC's refusal to handle an advertisement for Palestinian aid was highly instructive. It was the BBC's 'impartiality' that might be called into question. In other words, the protection of an institution was more important than the lives of children."


Even taken at face value, then, the BBC's decision was monstrous. But the idea that it was primarily motivated by a commitment to impartiality makes little sense.

In 1999, the corporation allowed its own high profile newsreader, Jill Dando, to present a DEC appeal for Kosovo at the height of NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against Serbia. This, also, was an ongoing and highly controversial conflict, one that involved fraudulent US-UK government and media claims of a Serbian "genocide" in Kosovo (claims which have since been quietly abandoned).
 
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