[Dawn] American policymakers need to face up to three harsh realities in Afghanistan.
One, the US-NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It's headquartered in Belgium. That sez it all.... presence in Afghanistan is now opposed by the majority of Afghans. The circle of alienation has widened progressively. At first, the ousted Taliban were the aggrieved party; US-NATO tactical errors and expanded military presence in south and east Afghanistan extended the alienation to most Pakhtuns. The corruption of Karzai and his coterie deepened popular hostility.
Today, as evident from the series of attacks on foreign troops by Afghan army and police personnel and, even more so, from the violence that erupted due to the desecration of the Holy Koran, most Afghans, outside the ruling elite in Kabul, will be glad to see the backs of the foreign forces.
Two, for different reasons, both of Afghanistan's critical neighbours --Pakistain and Iran -- are now anxious to ensure the withdrawal of US-NATO troops and have no incentive at present to support Washington's policy objectives to transition power to a 'moderate' Afghan government.
Iran cooperated initially in ousting the Taliban and installing the Tajik-dominated regime in Kabul. But its inclusion in George W. Bush's 'axis of evil' and the subsequent escalation of US sanctions and military threats against Iran's nuclear programme have placed Tehran firmly among America's detractors in Afghanistan. In the event, Israel or the US conduct military strikes against Iran, its retaliatory targets, without doubt, will include Afghanistan.
Simultaneously, the US relationship with Pakistain has tanked to unprecedented depths. The aerial shooting spree which killed 24 Pak soldiers on the border added ultimate injury to the insult of the major strategic reversals that Pakistain's involvement in America's 'war on terror' has entailed -- a hostile Tajik-dominated regime in Kabul, a fight with Pakistain's own Pakhtuns and krazed killers, an open back door for India to do mischief in western Pakistain, the collapse of the Kashmiri freedom struggle, and the one-sided US 'strategic partnership' with India.
To top it all, the US has accepted the Karzai-Tajik narrative that it is the 'safe havens' in Pakistain, rather than internal Afghan disaffection that is driving the insurgency against the foreign forces in Afghanistan. It is a most convenient excuse for failure, for US generals and politicians.
The US demand that Pakistain neutralise, politically or violently, the Haqqani fighters flows from acceptance of this Kabul narrative. The US was naive or arrogant to believe Pakistain would comply and fight a force that is likely to be a strong friend in post-American Afghanistan.
The latest demand that Pakistain 'deliver' the Taliban in the negotiations is also premised on the Kabul thesis of Pakistain's
control over the insurgency. As events before 9/11 attest, Pakistain's relationship with the Taliban was never one-sided or simple. As often as not, the Taliban acted contrary to Pakistain's counsel.
The third reality is the growing opposition to the Afghan war in America. If the US army had been a conscript force today, as in Vietnam, and those who were fighting and dying were not only the children of the poor but also the rich, the Afghan adventure would have been long over.
In the US Congress, calls for withdrawal now emanate from both left and right. Some hard-liners say that the aim of defeating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has been achieved. Most are weary of expending more money and blood for objectives whose strategic value to the US is, at best, marginal.
Thus, the billions needed to maintain any residual US military presence, and an Afghan army and government, are unlikely to be available for very long. Without money, the army and the Kabul regime and its regional satraps will quickly collapse. In fact, the process of economic contraction has already started.
In the context of these harsh realities, the issues which President B.O.'s advisers should be preoccupied with are the following: can the Taliban exploit the popular disaffection to bring about an internal collapse of the Kabul regime? Anticipating the growing compulsion for US withdrawal, and their inevitable victory, will the Taliban negotiate at all in Doha or elsewhere? How can Pakistain be brought on board to support stability in Afghanistan during and after the US withdrawal? What will happen in Afghanistan if Israel and/or the US attack Iran's nuclear facilities? Can the plan for orderly withdrawal turn into a rout? What would be the electoral consequences for Obama and the strategic implications for the US?
The writer is a former Pakistain ambassador to the UN.
"PAKISTAN" MODEL FOR XINJIANG [Uighur autonomy widin China], versus "CHINA" MODEL FOR XINJIANG [subservience to Beijing].
ARTIC = SCO-CSTO will likely become prosperous due to Rising China's growing econ role in Central Asia, to which Pakistan can be an important conduit vee Oil, Resources-rich Xinjiang = West China. COMMON BOND PER ANTI-TERRORISM STRUGGLE BEWEEN CHINA + PAKISTAN.
Add to that ...
> Aging population.
> Pert-predicted possible strong to severe earthquakes to occur in or near the irradiated Fukushima/Tohoku Region, + Tokyo.
> China wants rights, iff not sovereignty or shared sovereignty, to former vassal state Okinawa.
> Russian Netters would love to see Mama Russia re-occupy Hokkaido, espec iff China regains rights or sovereignty to Okinawa.
Finally, a (sort of) admission that it was oil prices that caused the recession, not blunders by America.
Oil is not supposed to ratchet defiantly upwards in a downturn, which is what we have with the Euro zone facing a year of contraction in 2012, and much of the Latin bloc sliding into full depression. Japan's economy shrank in the fourth quarter.
But what if the world's reserve currency is being deliberately inflated...?
Key point: We must still face the overwhelming fact that global energy supply is on a knife-edge regardless of events in the Gulf - with no relief in sight.
Oil prices may not be 'stable' but world oil production is, for the moment. I for one am not expecting it to increase. As new small discoveries are made, older reserves are shrinking --net results, zip.
The oil markets don't concur with the rather gloomy analysis above. For example in the WTI segment of the market futures fall below $100/bbl in mid 2014 and back into the $80s by 2017; other oils are similar. If we were faced with diminishing supply and constant demand or flat / dminishing supply and increasing demand that backwardation would not be present.
The author's breathless assertion that the global energy supply is, "... on a knife edge," is of the dog-bites-man variety of uninteresting news. Of course that's true, it's the markets at work producing just enough of what we need just when we need it. Granted domestic political and geopolitical problems may temporarily disrupt the markets but those are, and will remain, transients.
Before succumbing to the belief that we're finally near the end of oil as a viable commodity I'd urge everyone to read this brief history of doomsaying in the oil markets. Hint: the end of oil in the US has been predicted since before the Civil War and such predictions have placed said end at times as far back as the mid 19th century. Eventually the gloom & doom crowd will be right but not any time soon.
Hopefully, the Global Oil Markets can avoid "Three Gorges" Syndrome, i.e. high initial expectation/forecasts of positive value only to be met wid self or system-induced sudden loss of vital capacities.
This government is not going to be allowed to make me pay for the bottom feeding activities of its debased base.
Posted by: George Ebbeamp4828 ||
This is all a media diversion. No one really cares about some college aged girl, slut or not, and her sex life or how she wants the pill for free. Condoms are free on every campus, she is covered. Then to say anything else will save her from aids or herpes, bla bla bla. It is calculated to divert our attention from the real freight trains headed toward our country. We have some real issues to deal with here in America. BO has tossed this one out there, it's a meat ball pitch at best, because Romney and Santorum are not wavering on their beliefs. Now the left has gotten every in a thither about this and within a day or two, if it has not happened already, the sky will be falling with tingles accusing the right of going after abortions, Roe V Wade, etc... Not once do we talk about an honest approach to immigration, the budget, the economy, energy, etc... Our political leadership have taken lessons from kids in grade school, they will not discuss the broken glass but try desperately to change the subject. Our nation is a failed nation, we have not and will not face the realities of running a nation, the only course of action we are living is failing. It will be a failure of the grandest scale.
Posted by: 49 Pan ||
By opening his big fat yap and calling the woman a slut, Limbaugh gave the left its opportunity to turn the discussion away from the facts and onto Limbaugh. He led with his chin on this one. This is not the first time he has made the discussion all about him, intentionally or not.
49 Pan Ditto!. George Stephonoplis was the point man on this. The left and media can trash the conservatives at any wim they choose. This was a set up. These people have destroyed the Democratic party. I don't pay them any attention.
They have done far worse but I expect them to do more of the same.
The woman is a slut. Obama is her Pimp. When Moo-chelle decides to take her 17th multi-million dollar $$$$$$$$$ tax payer funded vacation and if Pimp Daddy can take a few hours off the tax payer funded daily golfing tour, I am sure Pimp Daddy will personally invite slut in question to the Oval Office so she can leave with loads of tax payer contraception and condoms, after like 3 hours of time with Pimp Daddy.
Sorry boys and girls. Slut is an adjective. It has a meaning. If it applies to you, then you need to have a talk with your mom or dad. They love you and want you to be happy. Help them help you. It is possible that you are confused.
[Dawn] The Punjab University (PU), Lahore, has been a stronghold of the Islami Jamaat Taleba (IJT) for over 30 years now. The IJT is the student-wing of the fundamentalist Jamat-e-Islami (JI). It is interesting to note that whereas (by the early 1990s) a majority of state-owned colleges and universities were able to shrug off the electoral as well as the 'extra-electoral' hegemony of the IJT, its ubiquitous domination at PU has continued unchallenged.
But why does such a scenario need to be challenged? The answer lies not only in the way IJT willfully retarded the evolution of student politics at the PU (by introducing guns and thuggery in the early 1980s), but also in the way it has been using threats, intimidation and violence to curb some entirely natural and positive cultural initiatives on campus in the name of faith, morality and patriotism. A rather long list of IJT's deeds can be drawn but space constraints allow me to present only a most recent example of IJT's continuing shenanigans at the PU.
In the wake of the bigoted ban on the products of an 'Ahmadi-owned' company by a far-right faction of the Lahore Bar Council, the IJT, quite like its mother party, after suffering from the affects of a long decaying bout of intellectual bankruptcy, decided to adopt the 'ban' for the PU. Yes, faithful IJT jocks at the PU have disallowed the sale of the company's juices and other food products at university canteens. And not surprisingly, so far it has not met with any opposition.
But were the students of the PU always so submissive in the face of IJT's myopic onslaughts? Largely yes, and they still are, especially ever since 1984 when the Zia ul Haq ...the creepy-looking former dictator of Pakistain. Zia was an Islamic nutball who imposed his nutballery on the rest of the country with the enthusiastic assistance of the nation's religious parties, which are populated by other nutballs. He was appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1976 by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whom he hanged when he seized power. His time in office was a period of repression, with hundreds of thousands of political rivals, minorities, and journalists executed or tortured, including senior general officers convicted in coup-d'état plots, who would normally be above the law. As part of his alliance with the religious parties, his government helped run the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, providing safe havens, American equipiment, Saudi money, and Pak handlers to selected mujaheddin. Zia died along with several of his top generals and admirals and the then United States Ambassador to Pakistain Arnold Lewis Raphel when he was assassinated in a suspicious air crash near Bahawalpur in 1988... dictatorship banned student unions. Across the 1960s and till about the early 1970s, campus politics and unions in Pakistain were hotbeds of left-wing student groups, an achievement largely attained through student union elections.
Interestingly, from 1974 onwards, it was the same electoral process that also turned the IJT into a force, especially in Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... and Punjab.
Cashing in on the ideological bickering and splits witnessed within the left-wing student outfits at the time, IJT coupled this opportunity by doing some excellent administrative work associated with student governments, and consequently began to win union elections on a regular basis.
However, man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them... it soon lost the plot when after Ziaul Haq's military coup in 1977 it became a willing tool of the reactionary dictatorship, helping it (through violence) to wipe out anti-Zia and progressive student groups from campuses. It finally paid the price when during the last widespread student union elections in the country in 1983, IJT faced devastating defeats at the hands of progressive student alliances. Not surprisingly, the very next year, the Zia regime banned the student unions. That was also the year when IJT faced its toughest (and last) major challenge at the PU.
It had been sweeping student union elections at the PU since 1971 and ever since the Zia coup it had also become an organization to fear. The fear factor also worked in discouraging anti-IJT students to stand in an election against particular IJT heavyweights, especially Hafiz Salman Butt, who was always expected to win uncontested.
Butt who today is a prominent member of the JI, was IJT's main man at the PU and was winning student union elections without even bothering to campaign. He was also known to be a trigger-happy hothead. Encouraged by the large gains made by leftist student groups in the 1983 student union elections across Bloody Karachi, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ... formerly NWFP, still Terrorism Central... , the progressive student alliance at the PU decided to put up candidates for all posts of the student union. The alliance was mainly made up of the radical Marxist outfit, the Black Eagles, the PPP's student-wing, the PSF, factions of the left-wing NSF and the student unit of Asghar Khan's Tehrik-e-Istaqlal, the Istaqlal Students Federation.
Iqbal Haider Butt's excellent book, Revisiting Student Politics (2007) presents a vibrant telling of what happened next. There were 27 candidates for the top post of General Secretary of the union, but the moment IJT's Hafiz Salman Butt announced his candidature for the post, all other candidates withdrew from the race.
All but one: Illyas N. Shahzad, a young man from Gujranwallah who'd come down to PU for further studies. He was an unassuming member of the PSF. Illyas was first given 'friendly advise' to leave the field, but when he refused, he was threatened by IJT goons and then even abandoned by some of his own friends!
In an amusing account of the threats he was facing, Illyas is quoted (in Haider's book) as saying that even women students belonging to IJT taunted him and showed mock sadness about what Hafiz was about to do to him. Unable to openly campaign (and in hiding), much of Illyas's campaigning was done by some women belonging to Black Eagles and a few students of the National College of Arts (NCA), who used to visit the PU during election time.
llyas who today runs a textile mill says he still gets tense and anxious about those days. He was expected to eventually back down and if not, then certainly lose heavily to the IJT heavyweight. But lo and behold, PU students might have begun to stay clear of him, they decided to vote against IJT's strong-armed tactics and handed a convincing victory to Illyas. This was also the first time ever since 1971 that an IJT member had lost an important election at the PU.
But IJT's electoral demise did not last long. It bounced back when student unions were disbanded by Zia and IJT re-established its muscular domination on campus. A domination that remains unchallenged for over 30 years now.
[Dawn] TERRORISM needs to be dealt with on the military, intelligence and legal fronts. However, a clean conscience makes a soft pillow... while the government has had mixed results on the battlefield and in using intelligence to thwart potential attacks, it is on the legal front where it has been found most wanting. An example of its muddled priorities is that until recently a special prosecutor hired to pursue several high-profile cases in Rawalpindi's anti-terrorism courts had not been paid for his services. Resultantly, around 25 cases -- including those involving the attacks on the United Nations ...a formerly good idea gone bad... World Food Programme office and the Naval Complex in Islamabad -- had been lying idle for a year, with the prosecutor focusing on his private practice. Though the funds have now reportedly been cleared, it is appalling that such important cases should be held up because of bureaucratic ineptitude. With bigger obstacles standing in the way of the successful prosecution of hard boyz -- such as a paralytic law-enforcement and legal system, and the intimidation of witnesses -- the fact that cases are stalled because lawyers don't get paid shows lack of seriousness on the part of the state.
While our entire legal system suffers from malaise, there should be a sense of urgency when it comes to prosecuting suspected terrorists. Instead, suspects often walk free, not because it has been conclusively proved that they are innocent, but due to poor investigation techniques and timid prosecution efforts. Once acquitted, many resume their activities. Simply targeting hideouts in the tribal belt or elsewhere is not enough to defeat militancy. Terrorist networks must be dismantled and their criminal masterminds brought to justice. Only an effective legal system can do this. Sadly, incidents such as this are reminders that pursuing the legal battle against militancy is not among the state's priorities.
An extremely important movie is coming out this summer - Obama & 2016
Dinesh D'Souza is author of many New York Times best sellers. The movie is from Gerald R. Molen, producer of Academy Award Winning Schindler's List. It explains in plain language who Barack Obama really is, what he stands for, and the dangers of him being reelected for another four years.
Please watch this 14 minute video preview of this movie and share it with others. It has already been seen by over 25,000 people. Within a very short time it will hopefully be seen by millions!
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.