Saturday, April 04, 2009

Obama's Afghanistan Problem & Women's Rights in Afghanistan & Neocons Re-Branding Efforts

UPDATE: 11:59 AM & 12:35 PM, April 4, 2009

Neocons rebranding: Rachel Maddow
Neocons support Obama's foreign policy ??? ; is this a reason to be concerned ???
Is a Neocon endorsement the kiss of death or are they just being their old cynical selves???
Obama's Afghanistan problem
Obama ignoring Bush, Cheney, Tony Blair War Crimes
Is this tacit approval ?

One of the reasons given for invading and occupying Afghanistan has been to improve women's rights in that country since under the Taliban women denied equal rights . Women were not permitted any sort of independent life outside the household of their family and were considered the property of their father and once married they became the property of their husbands. They in effect had no real rights . Now it appears the current government in Afghanistan wants to pass legislation so that Afghan women will once again lose their rights and return them to the status of second class citizens which they had under the former Taliban. So how can the Canadian government reconcile its goals in Afghanistan with the aims of the current government in Afghanistan.

First the CBC item on women's rights in Afghanistan:

April 2, 2009- CBC
New Afghan rape law against women's rights

And so why is Canada and the US and NATO in Afghanistan to hunt down Al Qaeda or to bring Democracy and Freedom to Afghanistan , for Women's Rights or is a matter of revenge and blood lust or just about the OIL.

If it was all about Al Qaeda why did the US redirect its focus , its energy its military might to Iraq which had nothing to to do with Al Qaeda . We are told by those in the know that the US had Al Qaeda forces surrounded in Afghanistan in October of 2001 and yet Cheney, Rumsfeld and the gang did nothing to capture or to wipe them out. What sort of game have these so called wonderful and ingenious leaders been playing at over the last nine years or more. Is what is going on at the present even under Obama just more of the same game playing in order to take control of the region just to maintain supply lines to the West while the peoples in these areas are just treated as Collateral Damage since in the end the West in its self-serving interests has little interest or concern with the lives of the peoples inhabiting these regions- their lives are meaningless to us .

We - Arundhati Roy - The Unocal pipeline

Arudhati Roy spoke out to get the US leaders and the American people to examine the recent history of Afghanistan before sending in a massive army to invade Afghanistan.
"The Algebra of Infinite Justice " by Arundhati Roy, Guardian UK, September 29, 2001

In America there has been rough talk of "bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already there. And if it's any consolation, America played no small part in helping it on its way. The American people may be a little fuzzy about where exactly Afghanistan is (we hear reports that there's a run on maps of the country), but the US government and Afghanistan are old friends.

In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilize it. When it began, it was meant to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than that. Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost 100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for America's proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against itself.)

In 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years of relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving behind a civilization reduced to rubble.

Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad spread to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers to plant opium as a "revolutionary tax". The ISI set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland had become the biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single biggest source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said to be between $100bn and $200bn, were ploughed back into training and arming militants.

In 1995, the Taliban - then a marginal sect of dangerous, hardline fundamentalists - fought its way to power in Afghanistan. It was funded by the ISI, that old cohort of the CIA, and supported by many political parties in Pakistan. The Taliban unleashed a regime of terror. Its first victims were its own people, particularly women. It closed down girls' schools, dismissed women from government jobs, and enforced sharia laws under which women deemed to be "immoral" are stoned to death, and widows guilty of being adulterous are buried alive. Given the Taliban government's human rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in any way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by the prospect of war, or the threat to the lives of its civilians.

Rachel Maddow: The Neoneocons
By Heather Wednesday Apr 01, 2009 6:00pm

Neocons never die. They just keep giving themselves new names. After claiming "mission accomplished" in Iraq, it seems the PNAC crowd has done just that with their latest attempt at re-branding, The Foreign Policy Initiative. Rachel Maddow brings in Matt Duss from Think Progress to fill us in on their recent make-over. You can read more about this group in Matt's post over at the Wonk Room: Foreign Policy Initiative: Housebroken Neocons? From the article:

If the Neocons approve of Obama's foreign policy is it time to despair of any real changes in Obama's foreign policy since it appears a change in Presidents and in parties signals little change if any. Is Obama going to continue the slaughter in Afghanistan and Pakistan . Is Obama as addicted to War as most Americans appear to be. Do Americans need War as a way to feel superiour ; is War America's aphrodisiac is just bred in the bone or have they just become unhinged after 9/11 as I have suggested previously is America still suffering from a collective form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Are they just in need of a lot of therapy or do they need drug therapy or possible institutionalization. In the real world this could mean de-fanging Americans or put them in Isolation or quarantine ???.

Top Neocon Max Boot: Obama 'Continuing and Expanding' Bush's Foreign Policy by Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet March 30, 2009.

In his latest love letter to Obama, Boot calls his Afghanistan plan "all that supporters of the war effort could have asked for."

I feel like this story can be written pretty much any time President Obama makes any major foreign policy announcement. It happened shortly after the election when Obama unveiled his foreign policy team and the neocons and other Republicans sang his praises. It happened with his Iraq plan, when some of his most vocal fans were the likes of John McCain and Mitch McConnell. Now, Obama’s Afghanistan surge is the subject of a love letter from neocon heavy-hitter and former McCain adviser Max Boot. Writing for Commentary, Boot said Obama’s Afghanistan approach “was pretty much all that supporters of the war effort could have asked for, and probably pretty similar to what a President McCain would have decided on.”

Boot wrote:

It would be nice if Obama had spoken a bit more positively about the outcome in Iraq now that that it has become, like Afghanistan, “his” war.

But that’s a minor quibble about rhetoric. The substance of policy is more important, and on that ground Obama is solid.

The big news -- though it had been apparent for some time -- is that Obama is eschewing those who argue for a major downsizing of our efforts to focus on a narrow counter-terrorism strategy of simply picking off individual bad guys. Instead, Obama is embracing a more wide-ranging counterinsurgency strategy focused on enhancing “the military, governance, and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

To cap it all off, Boot said Obama is “essentially continuing and expanding [Bush’s foreign] policy.”

In another recent post about Obama’s dropping of the term “Global War on Terror,” Boot wrote, “the Obama administration’s change of nomenclature for the Global War on Terrorism is less important than its willingness to continue most of the actions the Bush administration took to fight the terrorists.”

As I have said before, it really seems like the most substantive foreign policy changes we are seeing under Obama, unfortunately, are the words he uses to define his belligerent, Bush-esque policies.

also see; " Foreign Policy Initiative: Housebroken Neocons? " by Matt Duss at Thinkprogress ,March 31, 2009

Attending the Foreign Policy Initiative’s inaugural conference on Afghanistan today at the Mayflower Hotel, I was struck by how very little that was said was controversial. And that’s really the point — in the wake of Iraq debacle, for which the neocons are widely and rightly held responsible, it simply won’t do to bang the drum for American military maximalism. One has to be a bit slicker than that. And these guys are nothing if not slick.

Obama's Gutsy Decision on Afghanistan Kagan at PostPartisan, March 27, 2009

Hats off to President Obama for making a gutsy and correct decision on Afghanistan. With many of his supporters, and some of his own advisers, calling either for a rapid exit or a “minimal” counterterrorist strategy in Afghanistan, the president announced today that he will instead expand and deepen the American commitment. He clearly believes that an effective counterterrorism approach requires an effective counterinsurgency strategy, aimed not only at killing bad guys but at strengthening Afghan civil society and governing structures, providing the necessary security to the population so that it can resist pressures from the Taliban, and significantly increasing the much-derided “nation-building” element of the strategy. The United States, he argues, has to help the Afghan people fulfill “the promise of a better future,” by rooting out government corruption, helping the elected government provide basic services, fighting the narcotics trade, and, in general, advancing “security, opportunity, and justice.” This is the opposite of a “minimal” approach.

By not insisting on investigations and indictments where necessary of members of the Bush.Cheney Regime for War Crimes and Crimes against humanity has Obama bought into the Neocon rationalizations for the War in Iraq- the invasion & occupation by the United States under false pretenses . Has Obama by in action given tacit approval of the crimes committed by the Bush/Cheney Regimes that is of the abuse and inhumane treatment of over a hundred thousand Iraqis and the deaths of over one million Iraqi citicens , their homes invade , their villages , towns and cities turned to rubble the use of cluster bombs & phosphorus bombs on civilian areas . The Neocons in the media are triumphant now calling Iraq a success story and they want Obama to continue the same policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and maybe a few other disobedient countries who dare to stand up to American and Western Imperialism.

John Pilger argues that it is quite possible if there is the political will to bring Tony Blair, George W. Bush , Dick Cheney and all to justice for their horrendous and outrageous crimes against humanity. But of course this sounds good but it will probably not happen as those in power tend to defend and protect those whom they see as their peers. As the Americans for years tried to protect the brutal dictator Pinochet we can expect that the Obama administration and that of Prime Minister Gordon will do all they can to protect the members of their class that is Bush & Blair respectively. To do otherwise would be to admit that we in the West are not morally superior to the rest of the world and that our governments are capable of committing evil acts for which we are culpable and therefore must pay for. From the savagery and barbarity of the fire-bombing of Dresden and other German cities in order to kill as many civilians as possible as revenge for the bombing of British cities to the unnecessary dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were not legitimate military targets - were they dropped for revenge , as part of a scientific experiment to see what the Atomic blast would do to human beings - or even though the Japanese were ready to surrender even before the Atomic Bombs were dropped-to the mass murder of some two million Vietnamese and 600,000 Cambodians to the War Crime committed of the so-called "Highway of Death" in the first Gulf War to a million dead Iraqis to Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram and a hundred other prisons run by the Americans and British . We in the West often get a way with murder and massacres of the Innocent.

Fake Faith and Epic Crimes By John Pilger April 02, 2009 "Information Clearing House"

--- These are extraordinary times. With the United States and Britain on the verge of bankruptcy and committing to an endless colonial war, pressure is building for their crimes to be prosecuted at a tribunal similar to that which tried the Nazis at Nuremberg. This defined rapacious invasion as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." International law would be mere farce, said the chief US chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, "if, in future, we do not apply its principles to ourselves."

That is now happening. Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and Britain have long had "universal jurisdiction" statutes, which allow their national courts to pursue and prosecute prima facie war criminals. What has changed is an unspoken rule never to use international law against "ourselves," or "our" allies or clients. In 1998, Spain, supported by France, Switzerland and Belgium, indicted the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, client and executioner of the West, and sought his extradition from Britain, where he happened to be at the time. Had he been sent for trial he almost certainly would have implicated at least one British prime minister and two US presidents in crimes against humanity. Home Secretary Jack Straw let him escape back to Chile.

The Pinochet case was the ignition. On 19 January last, the George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley compared the status of George W. Bush with that of Pinochet. "Outside [the United States] there is not the ambiguity about what to do about a war crime," he said. "So if you try to travel, most people abroad are going to view you not as ‘former President George Bush’ [but] as a current war criminal." For this reason, Bush’s former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who demanded an invasion of Iraq in 2001 and personally approved torture techniques in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, no longer travels. Rumsfeld has twice been indicted for war crimes in Germany. On 26 January, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, said, "We have clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but nevertheless he ordered torture."

The Spanish high court is currently investigating a former Israeli defence minister and six other top Israeli officials for their role in the killing of civilians, mostly children, in Gaza. Henry Kissinger, who was largely responsible for bombing to death 600,000 peasants in Cambodia in 1969-73, is wanted for questioning in France, Chile and Argentina. Yet, on 8 February, as if demonstrating the continuity of American power, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, said, "I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger."

Like them, Tony Blair may soon be a fugitive. The International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, has received a record number of petitions related to Blair’s wars. Spain’s celebrated Judge Baltasar Garzon, who indicted Pinochet and the leaders of the Argentinian military junta, has called for George W. Bush, Blair and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar to be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq — "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history: a devastating attack on the rule of law" that had left the UN "in tatters." He said, "There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation to start without delay."

...These are extraordinary times. Blair, a perpetrator of the epic crime of the 21st century, shares a "prayer breakfast" with President Obama, the yes-we-can-man now launching more war. "We pray," said Blair, "that in acting we do God’s work and follow God’s will." To decent people, such pronouncements about Blair’s "faith" represent a contortion of morality and intellect that is a profananation on the basic teachings of Christianity. Those who aided and abetted his great crime and now wish the rest of us to forget their part — or, like Alistair Campbell, his "communications director," offer their bloody notoriety for the vicarious pleasure of some — might read the first indictment proposed by the Blair War Crimes Foundation: "Deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war, causing in the order of one million deaths, 4 million refugees, countless maiming and traumas."

As for Afghanistan is Obama going to continue with more troops deployments or a different sort of military and diplomatic engagement. The current government in Afghanistan seems to be moving further to the right and accomadating Taliban style of government and justice.

"The Rise and Rise of the Neo-Taliban" By Syed Saleem Shahzad "Asia Times" , April 3, 2009--

-KARACHI - With the number of international soldiers in Afghanistan at an all-time high, they are prepared for their toughest season yet of fighting the Taliban-led insurgency that has grown beyond recognition in the past seven-plus years.

This year, though, the 70,000 troops - 38,000 of them American - face a new and ominous challenge in the form of the neo-Taliban, a new generation of Pakistani, Afghan, al-Qaeda and Kashmiri fighters who have adopted al-Qaeda's ideology, and who plan new tactics, according to Asia Times Online investigations.

The neo-Taliban's efforts will complement the traditional guerrilla war of the Kandahari clan in southwestern Afghanistan and suicide operations in and around Kabul and in southeastern Afghanistan.

See video Afghan-Pakistan situation dire; more troops may be needed: McClatchy Foreign Editor Roy Gutman speaks about Afghanistan." The Real News Network & McClatchy Newspapers, April, 1, 2009

and see: "Afghan-Pakistan situation dire; more troops may be needed" By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers, April 1, 2009

WASHINGTON — The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is "increasingly dire," top defense officials told Congress Wednesday, and they said that President Barack Obama may have to send another 10,000 troops beyond the 21,500 he's announced since taking office.

Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said the administration hasn't yet developed benchmarks to measure progress, but she predicted high human and financial costs for the U.S. in the campaign against Islamic militants in the two countries.

Adding to the bleak picture, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, expressed doubts about the reliability of Pakistani security forces in supporting the U.S. effort to curb the spread of Islamic extremism in South Asia.

Petraeus conceded that the Pakistanis have betrayed America's trust in the past. He said, however, that the U.S. must show its commitment to the region, saying: "It is important the U.S. be seen as a reliable ally." He said the military may need to send 10,000 more troops than the number Obama already has announced, and a decision must be made in the fall.

Although the administration has identified Pakistan, where al Qaida's top leaders are thought to be hiding, as key to its strategy, that strategy consists largely of encouraging the Pakistanis to take more aggressive action against the militants, which they've been loathe to do.

and what is seen as a change in strategy that might pay-off is that :

...To succeed, the administration's strategy not only must quell increased violence in Afghanistan, but also address the rampant corruption of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed regime and the growing Islamic militancy in neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is a source of supplies, shelter and training for Afghan militants.

Beside more forces, the new strategy calls for a "surge" of hundreds diplomats and civilian specialists to help run elections and fight corruption and narcotics trafficking. It also calls for tripling economic aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year over five years.

as for human rights in Afghanistan is the Obama administration going to make it a top prority or like Bush & Co. merely use it as a way to justify more killing in Afghanistan and the expansion of the US Empire.

Silence Meets Despair of Afghan Women By Marie Cocco, Truthdig, April 2, 2009

" Afghanistan’s women are no longer in vogue."

It was only a few years ago that Laura Bush, who normally shied from causes that could be considered controversial, took up their banner. “The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists,” the first lady said in a radio address shortly after President Bush launched the U.S-led invasion to overthrow the Taliban following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “The plight of women and children in Afghanistan is a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control.”

That was then. This is now: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has just signed a law that forces women to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, keeps women from leaving the house—even for work or school—without a husband’s permission, automatically grants child custody rights to fathers and grandfathers before mothers, and favors men in inheritance disputes and other legal matters. In short, the law again consigns Afghan women to lives of brutal repression.

“This is really, really dangerous for everybody in Afghanistan,” Soraya Sobhrang of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said in a telephone interview from Kabul. Noting that violence against women already is rampant, Sobhrang said the new law effectively “legalizes all violence against women in Afghanistan.”

The legislation zoomed through Afghanistan’s parliament. Karzai, who faces elections in August, signed it in an apparent effort to placate conservative religious forces that are said to hold the balance of power in his re-election bid. The United Nations Development Fund for Women is still analyzing a final version of the legislation but says it is “seriously concerned.” The law appears to contradict both the Afghan constitution, which guarantees equal rights for men and women, and international conventions on human rights.

The U.S. State Department has had no comment.

Afghanistan’s women are, apparently, the latest casualty of the Obama administration’s tilt toward realpolitik: ignore human rights violations—whether they’re in China or Russia or in the quiet misery of an Afghan villager’s home—in pursuit of larger foreign policy goals.

This contradiction between political rhetoric and policy reality has often been the American way. But now we have Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. When she was first lady, she championed the rights of women oppressed by the Taliban long before most Americans had ever heard of that radical regime. Clinton took the helm of the State Department vowing to elevate the cause of human and economic rights for women and girls—a pledge she made again in The Hague this week at the end of a major conference on Afghanistan that was aimed at securing greater international cooperation on the desperate and disparate crises there.

“My message is very clear. Women’s rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama administration; they are not marginal, they are not an add-on or an afterthought,” Clinton said in response to a general question about the situation confronting women in Afghan society. “You cannot expect a country to develop if half its population [is] underfed, undereducated, under-cared-for, oppressed, and left on the sidelines.”

and so it goes,

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