“Whatever happens to American ground troops who eventually, yes, will be withdrawn, will make no difference to the significance of the American presence, the violent American presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in Iraq. The whole region is being crafted, if you like, for a very, very long American colonial presence.” John Pilger
“Today, words like ‘Progress’ and ‘Development’ have become interchangeable with economic ‘Reforms’, Deregulation and Privatisation. ‘Freedom’ has come to mean ‘choice’. It has less to do with the human spirit than with different brands of deodorant. ‘Market’ no longer means a place where you go to buy provisions. The ‘Market’ is a de-territorialised space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling ‘futures’. ‘Justice’ has come to mean ‘human rights’ (and of those, as they say, ‘a few will do’). This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the Tsars of the new dispensation.” Arundhati Roy.
Damn those ungrateful Pakistanis. After U.S. drone attacks killed more than 600 of their people since 2006—most of them civilians—it seems they think they have some right to say they don’t want the U.S. flying its “aid” planes to Swat and other “tribal areas.” The New York Times reports that “the Pakistani authorities have refused to allow American workers or planes to distribute the aid in the camps for displaced people.” Full article.
“I AM but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall, but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people, but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all…” Leonard Peltier
The Pakistan military claimed at the beginning of June that it had achieved success in its all-out assault on Taliban insurgents after driving more than two million people from the Swat Valley and other areas of the north west of the country. The assault followed the breakdown of an agreement reached in February between the government and Sufi Mohammad, leader of one of the Islamist groups, for Swat’s legal code to be based on Nizam-e-Adl—an attempt to mix constitutional rules with the local interpretation of sharia law. The agreement was meant to bring an end to fighting between the Pakistan army and the Swat Taliban, led by Sufi Muhammad’s son in law, Maulana Fazullah.
The military onslaught happened after pressure from the US, which worried about the implications an agreement between the Pakistan government and the Taliban would have for its operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere in Pakistan. But the assault found favour with most liberal and “civil society” opinion, and much of the left, even if this was sometimes mixed with horror at the effects on civilians. Articles in the Pakistani press habitually refer to the “barbarity” of “terrorist” rule in Swat. This feeling was given a sharp edge by a mobile phone video supposedly showing a 17 year old woman receiving 30 whippings for “illicit” relations with a man—although other reports claim that the video was fraudulent and that the woman has denied she was whipped. 1 Whatever the truth of the matter, the video played a role in leading much of the left internationally to take a similar approach to the Pakistani liberals, treating the Pakistan Taliban as if it were as much a foreign force in Swat as the Pakistan army or the US army in Afghanistan. Yet there is strong evidence of a class element to the conflict. The New York Times could report in April, “The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants…the Taliban seized control by pushing out about four dozen landlords who held the most power. To do so, the militants organised peasants into armed gangs that became their shock troops.”
The Karachi newspaper The News has carried a debate which, according to one far left contributor, “has pitted those who claim that the situation in Swat is a reflection of longstanding class inequities against those who refute this notion of ‘class war’; while the former suggest that the ‘Taliban’ has generated support amongst the subordinate classes, the latter argue that the ‘Taliban’ has imposed itself in the area on the basis of brute force”. 2 One of the articles prompting the debate, reprinted in edited form here, came from Sartaj Khan of the International Socialists of Pakistan. Full article.
Obama’s argument for preventive detention “violates basic American values and is likely unconstitutional,” warned Sen. Russ Feingold in a recent letter to the President, cautioning that detention without trial “is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world.” Advancing such a controversial precedent on American soil, without the participation of Congress or the American people, would be disastrous. Full article.
“we need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.” (howard zinn)
As of 11:15am, Caracas time, President Zelaya is speaking live on Telesur from San Jose, Costa Rica. He has verified the soldiers entered his residence in the early morning hours, firing guns and threatening to kill him and his family if he resisted the coup. He was forced to go with the soldiers who took him to the air base and flew him to Costa Rica. He has requested the U.S. Government make a public statement condemning the coup, otherwise, it will indicate their compliance. Full article.
TORTURE: Be sure to also read this transcript of Abu Zubaydeh’s description of his experiences while being held in detention in Afghanistan. Writes award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill: “Every US Citizen Should Read This, It Was Done in Your Name.” Full article.
“every instinct the president has honed, every voice he hears in washington, every inclination of our political culture urges incrementalism, urges deliberation, if any significant change is to be brought about. the trouble is that we are at one of those rare moments in history when the radical becomes pragmatic, when deliberation and compromise foster disaster. the question is not what can be done but WHAT MUST BE DONE.” (from “barack hoover obama – the best and brightest blow it again”, kevin baker, harper’s, july 2009)
BAGHDAD: The bombing of a Baghdad bus station yesterday pushed the death toll from a weeklong series of blasts near Shiite targets to about 200, calling into question Iraq’s ability to provide security as United States combat troops slowly withdraw from cities.
The wave of attacks is undermining Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s declaration of a “great victory” in the US pullout from urban areas by next Tuesday’s deadline.
He has declared June 30 a national holiday to be marked with celebrations. Full article.
“Obama administration officials, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, are crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.” Full article.