Representatives from nearly 70 countries showed up in London on Jan. 28 for a one-day conference on how to save Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai was there, gamely offering "peace and reconciliation" to all Afghans, "especially" those "who are not a part of Al Qaeda or other terrorist networks." He didn't mention why the Taliban would accept such an offer while they believe they're winning the war. Others at the conference had what they evidently considered more realistic solutions—such as paying Taliban fighters to quit the insurgency. Participants reportedly pledged some $500 million to support that aim. "You don't make peace with your friends," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. True enough. But what if your enemies don't want peace?
My NEWSWEEK colleague Sami Yousafzai laughs at the notion that the Taliban can be bought or bribed. Few journalists, officials, or analysts know the Taliban the way he does. If the leadership, commanders, and subcommanders wanted comfortable lives, he says, they would have made their deals long ago. Instead they stayed committed to their cause even when they were on the run, with barely a hope of survival. Now they're back in action across much of the south, east, and west, the provinces surrounding Kabul, and chunks of the north. They used to hope they might reach this point in 15 or 20 years. They've done it in eight. Many of them see this as proof that God is indeed on their side. The mujahedin warlords who regained power in the 2001 U.S. invasion have grown fabulously wealthy since then. The senior Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani could have done the same. Now he and his fellow Taliban are gunning for those opportunists.
Only a few relatively low-level Taliban commanders and fighters have defected, and they rue the day they did. Most of them now live hand-to-mouth in Kabul, exiled from their home villages. Sami has introduced me to some of them. They only wish they could return to the embrace of Haqqani or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban's No. 2 leader after Mullah Mohammed Omar, but they know they'd be killed if they were foolish enough to try. The Taliban don't give second chances. Even if Karzai and his U.S.-NATO allies offer great gobs of money to defecting Taliban, where could they go with it? They couldn't go home for fear of being put to death by their former comrades in arms. They wouldn't want to live in expensive Kabul, where people on the streets would make fun of their country ways, huge black turbans, and kohl eyeliner. They hate everything that Kabul represents: a sinful place of coed schools, dancing, drinking, music, movies, prostitution, and the accumulation of wealth. "Falcons fly with falcons, not with other birds," the Taliban say. In other words, you can't negotiate and live with secular people.
Karzai and his regime have practically no credibility anyway. No one trusts his promises, and they regard his government as an evil thing, a heretical, apostate regime. More than that, however, Taliban tend to take offense at the very idea of a buyout. As one fighter told Sami indignantly, "You can't buy my ideology, my religion. It's an insult." In terms of defection, the closest thing to a "success" story is the former Taliban commander Mullah Salam. He quit the insurgency two years ago, was allowed to keep most of his men and weapons, and was given the governorship of his home district of Musa Qala, in Helmand province. Nevertheless he lives under constant threat of assassination, and Musa Qala remains a very insecure place.
Most Taliban feel comfortable only in the backcountry villages, where their world view is essentially shared by locals. There's a huge and growing disconnect—social, economic, and perhaps even spiritual—between the cities and the countryside. In villages where the Taliban have a strong presence, there is little or no conflict between Taliban virtues and local customs, from the wearing of long beards to heeding the call for prayer, keeping the sexes separate in public, adhering to Islamic law, and not tolerating crime. Especially in the countryside, most ordinary Pashtuns regard themselves as the big losers in the past eight years of Karzai's rule and foreign military presence. As they see it, accurately or not, their ethnic rivals—the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazara—have received the spoils of the Taliban's defeat, while Pashtun villages have suffered from official abuse, corruption, neglect, and war.
That's one reason the Taliban aren't as unpopular in the villages as Western-funded polls appear to indicate. Unlike the Karzai government, they have proved their ability to deliver swift Islamic justice and keep their villages free from crime. The respected Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid often says there has been no pro-Taliban uprising because most Afghans dislike the movement. On the other hand, though, few Pashtun villagers have mobilized against the insurgents. Perhaps most important, the Taliban's leadership is confident of the movement's cohesiveness. Although the insurgency lacks a single, unified command, its leaders all fight in the name of Mullah Omar and his defunct Islamic Emirate. "No one," they say, "can fly just on his own wings." The Quetta Shura, its Peshawar offshoot, the Haqqani network in the east, and individual commanders in the north—all different command structures led by different personalities—all derive their spiritual authority and political clout from the "commander of the faithful." If their ranks remained unbroken through years of being hunted, jailed, killed, outgunned, outmanned, and outspent, they feel confident now that their leaders and lieutenants can't be bought, as senior Taliban commander Mullah Nasir recently observed to Sami.
Most Taliban seem genuinely convinced that they are carrying out the will of God. One sign of that faith is the apparently endless supply of suicide bombers. The Americans still seem not to have grasped the full import of this. The Taliban are not fighting for a share of power; they want to restore Islamic law throughout the country, with no talk of compromise. They despise their nominal ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has said that suicide bombings are not justified under Islam and who talks of possible power-sharing deals with Karzai. A "son of dollars," they call him: someone who cannot be trusted, someone who does not share their goal of reimposing Sharia over all of Afghanistan.
Karzai is hopeless. He reads from a script he knows will please his Western patrons: new drives for good governance, transparency, narcotics suppression, the building of the Afghan security forces, economic development, etc. Nevertheless, for the past eight years he and his appointees have been incapable of delivering a fraction of what he has promised, and there's no reason to think the next year or two will be any different. He's a nice guy, is not corrupt, and doubtless means well. But he is not a leader or a judge of men, and he has no vision. He promises everything to everyone, as he did in the last election, but nothing comes of it. No one in his administration gets fired or jailed for egregious behavior. The harshest punishment for malfeasance is transfer to a perhaps less lucrative position.
The London conference was a futile exercise. Once again Washington and its allies are looking for solutions that don't exist: a new Karzai, bribing the Taliban, negotiating with the Taliban. No Taliban leader of any stature seems to have entered into negotiations thus far. U.N. special envoy Kai Eide reportedly met in Dubai on Jan. 6 with Afghans who claimed to represent the Taliban and said they could pass messages to the Quetta Shura, but it's unlikely that their mission was actually sanctioned by anyone in the senior leadership. The United Nations has made a big deal of removing the names of five supposed Taliban from its blacklist, but the Taliban couldn't care less. They're not itching to travel to Geneva or New York or open bank accounts. They've got a war to fight at home.
Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/232825
By Rajesh Mirchandani
BBC News, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The pink wheelbarrows from Oxfordshire are soon put to good use
Fifty tonnes of aid supplies tracked by the BBC from Oxfordshire in the UK are nearing the end of their journey to Haiti's quake-hit capital Port-au-Prince.
Apart from a few stretches littered with potholes, the road from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince is in quite good condition.
It snakes past the suburbs of the capital of the Dominican Republic, up and over hills wreathed in lush vegetation and soon into rural villages where grinding poverty is a way of life.
Around 200km (124 miles) west lies Jimani, the scruffy border city strung out along this road.
It is where thousands of Haitian refugees are living and where relief groups have set up clinics.
It is also the first real glimpse of the consequences of the earthquake.
The aid convoy passed this way as it carried supplies and emergency equipment from Oxfam, paid for with British donations to the UK Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC) Haiti Earthquake Appeal.
In the border zone, it passed through a bustling market - a regular occurrence.
Commerce goes on even if much else in the country can't.
Small trucks packed with people and goods lead the way into the Haitian capital, 100km (62 miles) further west.
The journey from the frontier to the city centre should only take an hour or so, but the approach to this overcrowded city is jammed with traffic and makes for painfully slow progress.
It gives you time to look around - people are everywhere, as well as destruction.
Haitians here no longer seem dazed, they seem driven and barely notice the tumbled-down buildings that line the road.
The aid was taken to Oxfam's offices in the Petionville area.
It is normally a posh hilltop enclave, but it was one of the worst-hit places.
Large elegant villas have tumbled, intricately-wrought iron staircases hang twisted off once sturdy buildings and mounds of rubble line some roads and block others.
DEC APPEALThe Disasters Emergency Committee is co-ordinating an appeal to help the people of HaitiThere are 13 charities involved including the British Red Cross, Islamic Relief and World VisionDonate via the DEC website or by calling 0370 60 60 900
Who knows how many dead lie unclaimed in there?
Oxfam's offices consist of two adjacent three-storey buildings - one looks like it was sliced in half with the office interiors exposed through the broken walls.
The organisation lost several staff members.
Now the neighbouring building - which also sustained damage - houses dozens of its workers who have flown in to help.
Pallets of aid that have been transported thousands of miles lie in the courtyard: water bladders, tents, latrine blocks - and the BBC's pink wheelbarrows.
The next day, we travel a few minutes from Oxfam's offices to the Petionville Golf Club, a peaceful spot nestled among lush trees and next to the US ambassador's private residence.
But now US troops man the gate - their Humvee vehicles lined up in the car park while soldiers set up their quarters on the tennis courts.
On the hills and greens behind is a sea of humanity.
The golf course has become a refugee camp and is home to 30,000 earthquake survivors.
And this is where the pink wheelbarrows are put to use.
In one area, people are clearing brush and debris and carting it off in the barrows. Latrine blocks are being laid. These are the beginnings of a much-needed sanitation system.
Petionville golf course has been turned into a refugee camp
If disease were to break out in this camp, it would spread rapidly. Toilets won't stop it, but they might slow it down.
It's a dirty job, but many people are eager to do it.
That's because the wheelbarrows are not a hand-out, they are a job opportunity and those who use them will be paid for their work.
Oxfam's Andy Bastable, a public health expert who arrived soon after the earthquake, tells me the wheelbarrows are a way of helping Haitians help themselves - a small kick-start for a crumbled economy.
The camp is organised into zones, each with its own committee. One of the organisers, Louis Montas, is allocating wheelbarrows. There are not nearly enough tools for all the people who want them but he tells me 90 people will be able to work.
That is 90 out of 30,000.
"It's a small number," he tells me, "but we've only been working for a week and we're going to build toilets in the whole camp."
Haitians do not want to be dependent. Aid like this is a tiny drop in an ocean of misery.
But it's a start.
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During the 1994 genocide, Rwandan women were subjected to massive sexual violence, perpetrated by members of the infamous Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe. Among the survivors, those who are most isolated are the women who have borne children as a result of being raped. Their families have rejected both them and their children, compounding their already unimaginable emotional distress.
An estimated 20,000 children were conceived during the genocide in Rwanda, and many of their mothers contracted HIV during the same encounters that left them pregnant. They feel they have lost their dignity, are alone and utterly powerless.
Intended Consequences chronicles the lives of these women. Their narratives are embodied in portrait photographs, interviews and oral reflections.
I guess now is as good a time as ever to do what many bloggers have been doing over the past few months and throw in my thoughts on the crazy phenomenon of a multi bazillion dollar movie known as Avatar. I wasn't initially planning on writing anything about it, but it seems like people get in such a fuss over this stuff and get all Roger Ebert about shit, so I suppose I'm writing just to vent my frustrations about the fact that I don't think it's really that shitty. I don't really understand what pisses people off about this movie, but I imagine a lot of it has to do with anticipation or hype or whatever, which is something I was completely not privy to at all going into the theater (I didn't even see a goddamn billboard anywhere, so I don't know where people were getting the hype thing from). So anyway, here are my impressions after seeing the movie twice and hearing what people had to say about it.
First off, of course it's visually brilliant and technically revolutionary and those are great reasons to like the movie... that's pretty much a given. I don't really feel the need to talk about that because it's been talked about elsewhere and much more eloquently than I could ever try. What I don't understand, and what I'd like to share my thoughts on, is the backlash this movie has been getting for not having a 'complex' enough storyline. This seems sort of off base to me, as it's pretty clear that James Cameron is going for something more akin to Joseph Campbell's monomyth than a really nuanced, character-driven story. Like all variants of the monomyth, it puts together the fundamental building blocks of a story in a specific way that says something about us as a culture at this given point in history. This particular manifestation of the myth provides us with an opportunity to assess something fundamentally messed up about ourselves and our way of life: the current trajectory of our civilization is unsustainable and it hinges on the exploitation and virtual eradication of subaltern populations in order to continue. It's an incredibly simple, universally understandable explanation of why corporate imperialism is bullshit, and it doesn't aim to be much more than that plot-wise.
Yes, there's an obvious irony that this was produced by 20th Century Fox, a subsidiary of one of the corporations most responsible for propagating the very same bullshit that the film overtly rallies against, but chances are that Rupert Murdoch and the Fox team couldn't care less about this irony, seeing as it's made them money and that's pretty much what they were in it for. For all I know, that's what James Cameron was in it for too... but one thing I do know is that we as an audience can understand this film as more than a marketable product and actually start to look at where it connects with what's going on in the world. If people are complaining that the film is too preachy, then lets do the simple task of actually backing up the preaching with history.
As the rights of indigenous peoples are being continually violated for corporate gain, there develops a fundamental necessity to create some kind of dialogue in the mainstream about the injustices our culture is responsible for. There is no better medium for this dialogue than film, as it is the art form for the masses. As the imagined J. Edgar Hoover said in the 1992 Charlie Chaplin biopic said, "I have to wonder if you people realize the level of responsibility you carry. From my way of thinking, Motion Pictures are potentially the most influential form of communication ever invented. And there's no control over it. Your message reaches everyone, everywhere." So what films have been made thus far that carry this message? I've heard a lot of people comparing this movie to the ever-so-lovable 90's animation, Fern Gully. So one of the most significant causes of the past 100 years gets to be championed by 90's faeries voiced by Christian Slater? As far as I see it, Avatar is basically filling the void of having a cultural reference point that can be taken more seriously and seen by way more people than Fern Gully while still remaining in that same realm of simple communication that people (families, kids, people who aren't self-made internet film critics) can understand.
Sure, the plot and dialogue are nothing original and the message is delivered in a completely blatant way, but I guess my point is that the message wasn't delivered in a way that doesn't ring true to people who actually concern themselves with this kinda shit in real life. The fact that 10 languages die each year, and with them an entire culture's worth of stories, customs, and subtleties is one of the greatest unsung tragedies of our time. Beyond that, there are even more perceptible manifestations of environmental racism being faced by the indigenous peoples of Peru, the Ogoni people of Nigeria, Puerto Ricans on the Island of Vieques, and Native Americans living on reservations in the United States (all of which can be discovered through a nice and easy google search). So while also being an entertaining film, Avatar is also an opportunity to bring a lot of these issues to light. This blog has already done a much better job at that than I could, and anyone who can read Spanish should definitely check it out, because it's worth your time.
The fact that someone had to make a film with an invented culture of imaginary blue people and throw in a white "everyman" into the mix just to draw attention to the continuous threat of ethnocide is sort of depressing in its own right, but this wasn't the first time and it definitely won't be the last time that a sci-fi/fantasy story has established that sort of narrative structure to develop interest in what's going on in our current reality. They just did it a few months prior to Avatar with District 9 and nobody seemed to have any complaints. Or maybe American's want their political critiques to be so understated or layered that average consumers don't understand it or care about it. When I think about more complex stories that address the same kind of exploitation addressed in Avatar, I'm reminded of films like Fernando Meirelles' artful but somewhat hard to follow adaptation of John Le Carre's "The Constant Gardener", which ended up getting viewed by a marginal audience, and out of those who did see it, many were left feeling confused and ultimately sort of disinterested. Is the intricate arthouse film the only artistic paradigm that progressive ideas need to be confined to, even in such a widely varied medium? I dunno.
What I personally think is that stripping the story down to address the basic premise of what is wrong with globalization (displacing indigenous populations,
shooting people out of helicopters, etc) and taking these ideas to an unspeakably huge audience is pretty much one of the steps that needs to be made to start moving shit in the right direction, even if it doesn't capture all of the subtleties of the human condition. If it is to be understood universally, then make it simple. I hate to mention Charlie Chaplin again, but isn't that pretty much how he did things? "Modern Times" didn't wow us with its character depth, it just laid out some shit that was goin down for an audience that it could mean something to.
I dunno... maybe I'm just losing my cool leftie points, and it's only a matter of time before I'll be kicked out of the league of academic progressives. Given my current chances of getting accepted into a decent college, I'd say it's a definite likelihood.
Avatar is not fiction: the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa are displaced by wars and private companies
As with Pandora, the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa are being displaced by wars and corporations, to extract natural resources in their territories.If you have not seen the movie "Avatar", get ready for a good movie that excels in creativity, imagination, emotion, plot and the incredible technical work. The result is overwhelmingly pleasing to the senses, and I suggest you see your 3-D version to better enjoy it. Most importantly, this film has a message beyond the central story of romance.
Avatar is not fiction: Pandora exists on our planet and is located in Central and South America, and Africa. Na'vi peoples, indigenous peoples in these regions are being displaced and killed at this time, in order to extract resources existing naturally in the basement of their territories. The names of places and peoples may be different in the movie, but the facts of reality are almost the same as music tones inspired by Andean natives. Remote areas, green beauty rich tropical forests are in danger because of the abundance of treasures hidden behind unfamiliar human eyes. In order to obtain the necessary resources by rich countries, multinational corporations are using the governments, armed forces, indigenous paramilitaries and the guerrillas to slaughter and displace. Unfortunately, most of these cases the U.S. military are involved in one way or another. In the next generation, Central and South America are the next battlegrounds for the rich countries in their struggle for natural resources they need to continue to grow and maintain their excessive consumerism and lifestyles. Minerals, oil, water, natural gas, forestry and biotechnology resources are widely available in those regions of the planet, which have been kept in balance by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. So the last pristine and virgin forests of the planet, may be invaded by the powerful armies working for multinational companies, especially the U.S., Europe and Canada, and perhaps India, China and Russia. This is not fiction. It is happening already in the tropical forests and mountains of Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Ecuador, where private mining, oil, housing, tourism, real estate, and pharmaceuticals are invading the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples, as they steal their culture, heritage and territories, in complicity with local puppet governments. In the film, the thugs who attack people Na'vi are cold and unfeeling, and employees of companies that invest money in military science, research and cultural programs in order to win the hearts and minds of indigenous peoples living in sacred groves, virgins, virgins in a balanced environment, but fragile. Those places are the final destinations for mining machinery destructive, ready to extract the bowels of mother earth. Sebastian Machineri is a leader Yaminawa indigenous people who live in the border area of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, in the bowels of the Amazon rainforest. Sebastian was recently in Washington, DC, participating in a working meeting of the Organization of American States for a continental statement of indigenous rights, he told me that indigenous peoples in Brazil are being killed, attacked, displaced and exterminated by the federal government and private ranchers settlers. "I have no hope of anything changing in the near future," he said, when asked whether international law the rights of indigenous peoples, as the UN declaration adopted in 2007 - can help with anything.He told me greedy and powerful interest groups are pressing governments to destroy our planet, for money. That is the truth. In 2009 the indigenous peoples of the Americas faced increasing violence, which included deadly military attacks, travel, legal persecution and imprisonment by governments, paramilitaries, guerrillas and the military linked to corporate interests and industries mining, as mining and oil companies. To displace indigenous peoples, governments in Latin America are bound by powerful interest groups to pass legislation based on the model of "free trade", which was designed by Wall Street. This economic trend known as "neoliberalism" has opened the doors of world's protected areas, private companies with enough money and influence to do what they want, regardless of the rights of indigenous peoples who live there, unless still protecting the environment. In early June 2009 in Peru, hundreds of farmers and indigenous Awajun Wampis were massacred by the military police of Peru, trained in the U.S., in the Amazon region of Bagua. The natives were protesting peacefully against government laws that allow companies to take control of their lands and resources without prior consultation. Also as a result of the attack, many police officers, also of Indian heritage, were killed by an Indian mutiny in a petrol station after he heard of the slaughter of Bagua. Months later, people Wampis Awajun and arrested five employees of the Canadian mining company IAMGOLD, who were not allowed to enter its territory.
In several regions of Peru, mining companies are causing pollution and poisoning of entire indigenous peoples. This has caused social unrest and the growth of a vibrant indigenous movement, but the response of President Alan García has been racism, violence and repression, accusing Indians of being terrorists, criminals and second-class citizens. Many community leaders have been jailed while protesting against government plans. In Peru, some 49 million hectares of the 74 million hectares of the Peruvian Amazon (72%) have been licensed to corporations lotizadas and mining, oil and natural gas by the government in Lima. Indigenous communities have only 12 million hectares. In 2006, the Bush administration forced Peru to accept a free trade agreement (FTA), which was written entirely in the United States. The slaughter of Bagua was an indirect result of the policies included in the FTA. Similarly, Cusco authorities were forced to pass legislation banning bio-piracy, ie the appropriation and monopolization of traditional knowledge of the population [Indian] and their biological resources "to prevent the negative effects of unpopular and controversial US-Peru FTA. But that's not all. Jeremy Hance complaint further atrocities faced by indigenous peoples in Peru in this excellent article in Mongabay News:
Just weeks after the bloody incident [of Bagua] Hunt Oil Company of Texas, and with the full support of the Peruvian government, was installed in Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, with helicopters and heavy equipment for seismic testing. A scene not unlike that of "Avatar," which shows a company entering an indigenous territory with armed vessels. Only seismic testing included 300 miles of test roads, more than 12,000 explosive charges, and 100 landing strips for helicopters in the center of a region almost untouched and unknown Amazonian jungle. The reserve was created to protect the homes of indigenous peoples, soon could become a land of oil wells. Indigenous groups say they were never properly consulted by Hunt Oil for use of their territories. [...] Na'vi in the film is portrayed as blue monkeys "and" savages "by the administrator of the company [mining]. Both the company and its contracted soldiers to Na'vi see as less than human. In Peru, President Alan García has called indigenous peoples "savages confused," "barbaric," "second class citizens", "criminals" and "ignorant." Even compared with the infamous Shining Path terrorists. There is no final solution in sight, in the struggle between the indigenous peoples of Peru and corporate power backed by the government.Let me go to Colombia, where indigenous Amazonian peoples are trapped in the middle of internal war between the government, the guerrillas and paramilitaries backed by the government. Twenty members of the Awa indigenous community were killed in 2009 by the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the end of 2009, another 74 indigenous Awa were killed by paramilitary groups linked to illegal drug cartels. Many indigenous peoples are forced off their land due to such violence, and abandoned land are made by the agribusiness corporations. Also last year, more than 2,000 indigenous Embera people in Colombia have left 25 villages in its territory, fleeing the violence of the paramilitaries. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives of Colombia adopted a controversial program to persuade local women to undergo sterilization. This same type of program has affected more than 330,000 women and indigenous men in Peru in the 1990s. In the Pacific region of Colombia, the Afro-Colombian population continues to bear the violence, killings and displacement. Just last month the leaders Manuel Moya, Graciano Blandon and his son were murdered by paramilitaries. More than 4 million Colombians have been displaced by this type of violence created by violence between the guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries who have strong ties to the government of President Álvaro Uribe and the Colombian government itself. The same tragedy is happening throughout the continent. According to information published by John Schertow the Indian news website Intercontinental Cry, these are some of the most violent attacks faced by indigenous people in Central and South America in 2009:
* In central Brazil, the Yanomami Paapiu community began to demand the immediate expulsion of illegal gold miners, who have occupied their land.Survival International reported that "[the Yanomami] say they are willing to use bows and arrows to expel the invaders themselves, unless the authorities take immediate action." * The community of Apyka'y Kaiowá Guarani in Brazil was attacked by ten armed men who shot her community, wounding one person. Gunmen also struck and injured with knives and set fire to houses in the village. This was the second town burned down in less than a week. * At least 300 troops of the National Police of Panama demolished Naso indigenous people in Bocas del Toro for a second time. No injuries were reported, however, about 150 adults and 65 children were left homeless and with limited access to food and water. * Following an eviction was canceled, Ava Guarani indigenous community in the district of Paraguay Itakyry was sprayed with toxic chemicals, pesticides likely, resulting in almost the entire village in need of medical treatment. * In Guatemala, a Maya Mam group of farmers set fire to a truck and drilling exploratory tower, after the Canadian company Goldcorp repeatedly refused to remove their equipment from the territory of the community.In Chile, several Mapuche communities reclaim their lands began in the Araucania region, located in the center of the country, ensuring that these were stolen in the sixteenth century during the Hispanic invasion. At least five people have been killed by the Chilean government has also adopted a strong law of "fighting terrorism" to prosecute and imprison indigenous Mapuche leaders. In Ecuador, indigenous people are suing the U.S. oil companies for damages to their lands in the Amazon forests and water pollution. Meanwhile, the leftist government of Rafael Correa has tried to betray their electoral promises, through the sale of large tracts of land for oil and mining companies. The response has been a national strike and social protests in the country. The picture is different in Bolivia, where indigenous peoples are beginning their autonomous governments with their own cultural traditions, after victory in the presidential and legislative elections of December 6. About 12 of the 327 municipalities of the country voted for autonomous indigenous governments and groups, giving them control over their natural resources and its territories. The same model but on a smaller scale is being applied in Venezuela by the government of President Hugo Chávez, who is giving their indigenous populations the right to own their ancestral lands. Unfortunately, justice for indigenous peoples seems to be a mistake for the government of Barack Obama, who already controlled by the same corporate interests of their predecessors. This is obvious when the media manipulated manipulated U.S. often target the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela, portraying them as enemies of this country. Meanwhile the White House and its media remains silent about the massacres of indigenous peoples in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and the violent repression in Chile and Ecuador, or violence promoted by the coup regime of Honduras, where death squads trained in U.S. are killing the opposition, including Garifuna, Miskito and other indigenous groups. The future of Central and South America and Africa, directly depends on the amount of power that can control the rich countries and their multinational corporations in these regions. In recent decades, Wall Street and London have said poor nations that small governments are the key to progress and development. The less control, more democracy, human rights and especially more foreign investment. This model has failed. We see what is happening now in Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, etc., Where weak governments can not stop internal wars financed by rich countries and private corporations. Only in Congo such violence has claimed more than 6 million people killed and 500 thousand men and women raped and mutilated. This is a painful proof that national governments must be strong, that people must take control of their destinies, not corporations. Growing up in South America, we were told that our indigenous people were exterminated, destroyed, finished. Therefore, we were taught in schools can not do anything to reverse the colonization process, that our people would never dare to stop him. We were told that there was no indigenous, we no longer existed. In fact, there is so much that all people-of all races, can do to put an end to imperialist oppression against indigenous peoples and the destruction of our planet. Everyone can do something, because ultimately it is the survival of the human race and our home, our mother earth. We have to be against the rich oppressing the poor nations against direct military invasion or through internal conflicts produced. Contrary to what is happening today in Congo, Uganda, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, Yemen, Burma, Pakistan, Nigeria, Peru, Canada, the poorest cities in the U.S., and so on. As in "Avatar," the Pandora style violence against indigenous communities around the world sector is promoted by a racist, selfish U.S. government and companies involved in military invasions, coups, paramilitary groups, the training of torturers and repressive forces, and funding from governments and anti-Indian groups. For example, during the Bush administration's strategy to seize the natural resources of Latin America was dominated by free trade agreements (FTAs) and the financing of violent conflict in Colombia, Haiti and Mexico. Thousands of civilians have been killed, most of whom were indigenous and Afro-descendants. In 2009, with Barack Obama in power, the U.S. government has slowed in its free trade policies, but the Pentagon has confirmed the opening of seven military bases in Colombia, while possibly have increased their presence in Peru with three military stations . The Pentagon's Southern Command has also increased military exercise programs conducted with Peru, Panama, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, while Chile was approved by the U.S. Congress for missile high-tech war. In the film Avatar, destructive leaders are the main military leader and head of private enterprise. The relationship between U.S. military intervention and the interests of private investors is never more evident than in Colombia, which is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world after Israel. Colombia is a major source of oil, minerals, agriculture and export cocaine, which are crucial for the U.S. economy. His neighbor Venezuela relationship is not taking this lightly, and recently the government of Hugo Chávez has bought arms from Russia, China and possibly Iran.
Source Global Issues
In the movie of James Cameron, the U.S. military becomes a sophisticated army of private mercenaries, working for extractive industries to protect their huge profits. No matter what they had to destroy or who they kill, they had to do the dirty work. The "people of heaven" and had destroyed his house "and" there was nothing green, "then went to Pandora. In spite of the white supremacist to the end of the film, with a white man saving the indigenous population, but the script has an interesting approach to the race environment. While the company is led by destructive mainly white, the rescuers are a young, multiracial, are the thinkers and dreamers. The film features Pandora's Indigenous peoples as animals almost blue, not humans. In fact, this is how some people see our indigenous peoples in the Americas, almost as sub human, without feelings, without knowledge, without right to live. So our people are victims of greed and continuing racist calls developed nations, led by elites destructive. As a result of extraordinary experiments, some human beings in laboratories are mixed with the natives. The Avatars were a new breed, mixed, hybrids that are physically similar to the natives, but mentally more aware of certain things. They learn the spirituality and natural science of the "savages" and eventually, they learn that mining is not worth the price of that destruction is not justified. Then they become the protectors of the natives, who used a mixture of both human knowledge Na'vi eventually expel the invaders from their territories, but not before killing most of them. Sorry: I reveal the story of the film, but at least mention the romantic part. Do not worry, you'll really enjoy this film. Avatar is a new step in the film industry, not only for his [major] high-tech animation, by the way it mixes fiction with real action, but also because it shows the most likely future of this planet, if we let it happen. In the film, money is Invest to reach out the Indigenous peoples in order to convince them to leave their lands. In real life, the Indigenous leader Machineri Sebastian told me that Native peoples in the Amazon forests are angry at many non-profits that come to their communities, video record their ways of live, take photos and teach them "modern" skills. Soon later, corporations and ranchers move in. In the film, money is invested to connect to indigenous peoples and persuade them to leave their land. In real life, Sebastian Machineri indigenous leader told me that the native peoples in the Amazon forests are upset that many NGOs reach their communities, record videos of their ways of living, take pictures and teach them knowledge "modern." Later , businesses and farmers enter their territories. The potential military conflicts taking place in Central America and especially in South America in the coming years, are related to corporate greed and special interests of capital. This is the chilling future that awaits future generations. Unless, of course, that the United States, Europe and other rich countries to end their colonial policies, which are designed and imperialist dominated by corporate and military mafia. As in "Avatar," the future of our Pandora is in the hands of "the people" so we can regain control of our lives and our future, to ensure a true democracy with equality for all regardless of race or origin, respecting our indigenous peoples. Then we can preserve our planet and life becomes sacred again.
Interview with Pierre Labossiere of Haiti Action speaking on Haiti two weeks after the earthquake.
Pierre raises a number of very important points in relation to the relief itself, the many NGOs, organisations, groups and individuals that have descended on Haiti – aptly described as “social vampires”. He also speaks on the role of President Clinton in pushing neo-liberal policies on the country, such as privatization which led directly to the weakening of both Haiti’s government structures and economy.Sphere: Related Content
M.O.I. JR: Since the earthquake in Haiti, 20/20 and a whole bunch of hip hop media journalists have highlighted Wyclef Jean, a popular rap artist who is Haitian, and many people are star struck into giving to his organization, Yele. Can you give us a history of who Wyclef Jean is, as well as who his family is in Haiti?
Pierre: Wyclef Jean is – everybody knows his background – he’s a talented musician, an artist with the Fugees. At the time he had a powerful message, and he has a foundation called Yele Ayiti, so he is out there. And his uncle is a person who has a different set of politics (from ours) opposed to the people’s movement of Haiti, and his uncle really did welcome the coup d’etat (on Feb. 29, 2004, that deposed democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide, beloved by the vast majority of Haitians, who lives in exile in South Africa) and its aftermath. And Wyclef had taken a position in support on that as well. That is what I know about his history.
M.O.I. JR: Now there are other major people who have been getting publicity around Haiti relief work, that being Red Cross, and many of the people who are reading this today know the history of the Red Cross in terms of dealing with Hurricane Amerikkka, which some call Katrina. Can you speak about two of the other criminals that Obama is working with and what their history is – that being former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush? They are leading a huge relief effort in Haiti and getting people to donate money to their cause. Can you give the people a history about those two criminals specifically?
Pierre: Well, what had happened under President Bill Clinton, really he was pushing what they call neo-liberal policies, which is basically a policy that government should not provide and should get out of the life of the people and really let the marketplace do its thing. I mean the Republicans are more known for that and they come with it very openly, whereas President Bill Clinton deals with it in a different way.
So what has happened as a result in Haiti, those neo-liberal policies have resulted in a weakening of our government structure, the destruction of our economy, a great weakening of our economy. For example, they were pushing on Haiti privatization of government owned enterprises: What I mean by that is the telephone company, the electric company. These are money-makers for the Haitian government. What it is … is that a government manages the resources of the people as a collective – that is what a government is supposed to do – and provide you with services.
So what has happened as a result in Haiti, those neo-liberal policies have resulted in a weakening of our government structure, the destruction of our economy, a great weakening of our economy. For example, they were pushing on Haiti privatization of government owned enterprises: What I mean by that is the telephone company, the electric company. These are money-makers for the Haitian government. What it is … is that a government manages the resources of the people as a collective – that is what a government is supposed to do – and provide you with services.
Haiti is a country that has been robbed of its resources, first of all by the colonialists if we go way back, and then after Haiti became independent in 1804, the former French slave owners, in collaboration with the U.S., Britain, Spain – all of the slave owning nations – forced Haiti to pay reparations to the former slave owners to the tune of about $22 billion.
So from 1826 until 1946, Haiti was saddled with that payment of $22 billion. Monies that should have been building Haiti were actually being sent to former slave owners in reparations for the loss of their property. And what was their property? Us, we the people, our African foremothers and forefathers and their descendants.
So what had happened during that time when President Clinton came in, he was pushing for Haiti to privatize its industries. These industries could be used by the popular government in Haiti: The revenues are supposed to be used to build schools, to build hospitals, to rebuild the country that has been so destroyed over the two centuries of our history.
I wrote Part 1 of Oil in Haiti as the economic reasons for the US/UN occupation back in October, 2009. After the earthquake I questioned whether oil drilling could have triggered the earthquake (Did mining and oil drilling trigger the Haiti earthquake?)
Then suddenly, after spending years hitting myself against Officialdom's colonial rock that kept denying Haiti had significant resources. After being called crazy and un-American for writing that the 2010 earthquake gives the US the perfect disaster-capitalism opportunity to come out from behind the UN and openly occupy Haiti to secure Haiti's oil, strategic location and other riches for the corporatocracy. Just after I wrote about oil drilling causing earthquakes, on the following Tuesday, a veteran oil company man comes forward in Businessweek to say, and one wonders how he can so authoritatively speculate about the area of the faultline without intimate knowledge of the drillings, explorations, Haiti's wellheads and oil map, et al, but nonetheless his sudden, seemingly unprompted REVELATION, is that Haiti lies in an area that has undiscovered amounts of oil, it must have oil and the earthquake "may have left clues" to petroleum reservoirs! Oil that, uhmmm, "could aid economic recovery in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, a geologist said." (Haiti Earthquake May Have Exposed Gas, Aiding Economy by Jim Polson, Jan. 26, 2010, Bloomberg.) Yep, yep he may really mean: "that could aid Haiti's US-occupied economy recover its strategic oil reserves" for the global elite. No? I could be wrong, but I am thinking "and the cover up, starts." But I won't say so. Let Stephen Pierce tell the story:The Jan. 12 earthquake was on a fault line that passes near potential gas reserves, said Stephen Pierce, a geologist who worked in the region for 30 years for companies including the former Mobil Corp. The quake may have cracked rock formations along the fault, allowing gas or oil to temporarily seep toward the surface, he said yesterday in a telephone interview.
“A geologist, callous as it may seem, tracing that fault zone from Port-au-Prince to the border looking for gas and oil seeps, may find a structure that hasn’t been drilled,” said Pierce, exploration manager at Zion Oil & Gas Inc., a Dallas- based company that’s drilling in Israel. “A discovery could significantly improve the country’s economy and stimulate further exploration.
...The Greater Antilles, which includes Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and their offshore waters, probably hold at least 142 million barrels of oil and 159 billion cubic feet of gas, according to a 2000 report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Undiscovered amounts may be as high as 941 million barrels of oil and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the report. Among nations in the northern Caribbean, Cuba and Jamaica have awarded offshore leases for oil and gas development. Trinidad and Tobago, South American islands off the coast of Venezuela, account for most Caribbean oil production, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
For the record, Haiti has a large reserve of oil and natural gas. How could it not? It shares the waters with oil producing island from all around. We noted this also. Besides, this is not new or a surprise to the United States and certainly shouldn't be new to "a geologist who worked in the region for 30 years for companies including the former Mobil Corp."
There's always been oil in Haiti. The US /USAID guaranteed an oil contract for an American businessman named Charles C. Valentine back in November 1962 that gave his company a monopoly control over pretty much everything to do with oil in Haiti and seems to have also paid him to back out of it.Valentine successfully claimed $327,304 from the development agency, a sum USAID was itself able to extract from the Haitian government along with $4,396 in interest charges.
According to Haitian scholar Dr. Georges Michel, the US has known there's oil and natural gas reserves in Haiti since 1908 and did their explorations in the 1950s and locked up what they found as "strategic reserves for the US" to be tapped when Middle Eastern oil became less available. (See, Oil in Haiti by Dr. Georges Michel) I've been writing for years now that the US has been trying to get rid of Haiti's democratically elected government since 1991 so they could get to "their" strategic reserves without any fear of a populous president nationalizing the oil and gas reserves to benefit the miserably poor majority in Haiti as has been done in Venezuela or elsewhere in Latin America. (See, Haiti is full of oil, say Ginette and Daniel Mathurin, where these scientist say there's more oil in Haiti than in Venezuela.) No one has been listening. Not even the white liberals who are such defenders of Haiti. To the best of my knowledge, other than Haitians, over the long years before the earthquake, the only non-Haitian observers who ever paid attention and picked up on our reports and concerns about the plundering and pillaging of Haiti's riches, were John Maxwell and Chris Scott of CKUT Radio in Canada.That's it. All the others bought the State Department line that Haiti was a charity case and had no resources to mention. I supposed if they acknowleged Haiti could be self-reliant, these savoirs, wouldn't have a gig to support themselves and their heroic self-image, right?
Today Haiti has oil and it's all good cause 20,000 troops are down there to secure it and Haiti's other riches while the vision is to perhaps herd the displaced earthquake victims - who don't die from their TV-aid - into hastily constructed pre-fabricated houses and let the ghettos fester as they do in Kingston, Jamaica, while the areas the whites and Haitian oligarchy want are developed into tourist havens and all capital is flown out of Haiti.
Notice where the earthquake fault line is and its juxtaposition to the Bay of Port au Prince where the drilling was taking place and the damage at Kafou's Morne Cabrit, the epicenter of the earthquake and where the poor built their houses on the mountainside and all around the Southern coastal towns by the Bay of Cayes where there's oil according to Haitians and the geologist map of Haitian resources in the Lavalas white book. Notice how the earthquake was LOCALIZED to these areas and Port au Prince and never reached the Dominican Republic and there was no tsunami...
The Lavalas map of Haiti's resources shows that Kafou's Morne Cabrit housed a huge reservoi of oil. Here's the article I wrote, last year documenting that Haiti had oil and that was the reason for the US/UN forced removal of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. I do so hope, this time, to honor the lives lost and really help protect the remaining survivors of Bush the first and Bush the lesser's two regimes changes in Haiti and now this total occupation, that conscious Americans and all decent folks on this earth, are paying attention and will help us stop this latest travesty.
The just thing for now, is to allow former President Aristide who was kidnapped out of Haiti on a rendition plane by the US Special forces and has been practically under house arrest in South African for 6-years, forbidden first by US Secretary of State Condi Rice and now Hillary Clinton from returning hom, to return to his country. He ought to be returned to Haiti so he may assist Haiti’s majority at this agonizing time and help in the relief and rebuilding of the nation. (Go to: Part I, Oil in Haiti and Oil Refinery - an old notion for Fort Liberte as a transshipment terminal for US supertankers )
Don't fall for this hoax. The powers-that-be are already drilling and for years, HLLN has been pointing to the Lavalas' white book detailing Haiti's
resources as part of the reason for oustering President Aristide and putting in Haitian puppets to empire. Now that 20,000 US troops are in Haiti behind the pretext of humanitarian aid, oh yeah, by the way the EARTHQUAKE "may have left clues to petroleum reservoirs that could aid economic recovery in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, a geologist said"!!!
Never mind that stealth offshore and on-land drilling may have disturbed the fault line, those Haitians are Black idiots anyway. Just yesterday I was called CRAZY for saying Haiti had oil and substantial mineral resources. But today, today, if the white man says it, it must be true! Don't fall for the empire's latest spin and clean-up job. Two many defenseless people are still dying behind this earthquake and classquake. Too many long-suffering flesh and blood who won't get rescue, recovery, relief and rebuilding, but the cold steel of military occupation.
More and more info coming to light. Go to the website to read both the posts and the comments section.
Honorée invited you to "Phillis Remastered Podcast: "You Gotta Read This" with Remica Bingham " on Tuesday, February 2 at 4:45pm.Honorée says, "I hope you will join me for a "You Gotta Read This" podcast with poet Remica Bingham, author of the award-winning CONVERSION (Lotus Press, 2007)! The link is http://www.facebook.com/l/576c3;www.talkshoe.com/tc/74641Warmly, Honorée".Event: Phillis Remastered Podcast: "You Gotta Read This" with Remica Bingham
Start Time: Tuesday, February 2 at 4:45pm
End Time: Tuesday, February 2 at 5:30pm
Where: http://www.facebook.com/l/576c3;www.talkshoe.com/tc/74641To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:
The Shadow War
Making Sense of the New CIA Battlefield in Afghanistan
By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
It was a Christmas and New Year’s from hell for American intelligence, that $75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones. As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were our intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation. It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber’s case -- except for the placement of the bomb material -- almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, “shoe bomber” plot of eight years ago.
That would have been bad enough, but the New Year brought worse. Army Major General Michael Flynn, U.S. and NATO forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, released a report in which he labeled military intelligence in the war zone -- but by implication U.S. intelligence operatives generally -- “clueless.” They were, he wrote, "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers... Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy."
As if to prove the general’s point, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor with a penchant for writing inspirational essays on jihadi websites and an “unproven asset” for the CIA, somehow entered a key Agency forward operating base in Afghanistan unsearched, supposedly with information on al-Qaeda’s leadership so crucial that a high-level CIA team was assembled to hear it and Washington was alerted. He proved to be either a double or a triple agent and killed seven CIA operatives, one of whom was the base chief, by detonating a suicide vest bomb, while wounding yet more, including the Agency’s number-two operative in the country. The first suicide bomber to penetrate a U.S. base in Afghanistan, he blew a hole in the CIA’s relatively small cadre of agents knowledgeable on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
It was an intelligence disaster splayed all over the headlines: “Taliban bomber wrecks CIA’s shadowy war,” “Killings Rock Afghan Strategy,” “Suicide bomber who attacked CIA post was trusted informant from Jordan.” It seemed to sum up the hapless nature of America’s intelligence operations as the CIA, with all the latest technology and every imaginable resource on hand, including the latest in Hellfire missile-armed drone aircraft, was out-thought and out-maneuvered by low-tech enemies.
No one could say that the deaths and the blow to the American war effort weren’t well covered. There were major TV reports night after night and scores of news stories, many given front-page treatment. And yet lurking behind those deaths and the man who caused them lay a bigger American war story that went largely untold. It was a tale of a new-style battlefield that the American public knows remarkably little about, and that bears little relationship to the Afghan War as we imagine it or as our leaders generally discuss it.
We don’t even have a language to describe it accurately. Think of it as a battlefield filled with muscled-up, militarized intelligence operatives, hired-gun contractors doing military duty, and privatized “native” guard forces. Add in robot assassins in the air 24/7 and kick-down-the-door-style night-time “intelligence” raids, “surges” you didn’t know were happening, strings of military bases you had no idea were out there, and secretive international collaborations you were unaware the U.S. was involved in. In Afghanistan, the American military is only part of the story. There’s also a polyglot “army” representing the U.S. that wears no uniforms and fights shape-shifting enemies to the death in a murderous war of multiple assassinations and civilian slaughter, all enveloped in a blanket of secrecy.
Black Ops and Black Sites
Secrecy is, of course, a part of war. The surprise attack is only a surprise if secrecy is maintained. In wartime, crucial information must be kept from an enemy capable of using it. But what if, as in our case, wartime never ends, while secrecy becomes endemic, as well as profitable and privitizable, and much of the information available to both sides on our shadowy new battlefield is mainly being kept from the American people? The coverage of the suicide attack on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman offered a rare, very partial window into that strange war -- but only if you were willing to read piles of news reports looking for tiny bits of information that could be pieced together.
We did just that and here’s what we found:
Let's start with FOB Chapman, where the suicide bombing took place. An old Soviet base near the Pakistani border, it was renamed after a Green Beret who fought beside CIA agents and was the first American to die in the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It sits in isolation near the town of Khost, just miles from the larger Camp Salerno, a forward operating base used mainly by U.S. Special Operations troops. Occupied by the CIA since 2001, Chapman is regularly described as “small” or “tiny” and, in one report, as having “a forbidding network of barriers, barbed wire and watchtowers.” Though a State Department provisional reconstruction team has been stationed there (as well as personnel from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and though it “was officially a camp for civilians involved in reconstruction,” FOB Chapman is “well-known locally as a CIA base” -- an “open secret,” as another report put it.
The base is guarded by Afghan irregulars, sometimes referred to in news reports as “Afghan contractors,” about whom we know next to nothing. (“CIA officials on Thursday would not discuss what guard service they had at the base.”) Despite the recent suicide bombing, according to Julian Barnes and Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times, a “program to hire Afghans to guard U.S. forward operating bases would not be canceled. Under that program, which is beginning in eastern Afghanistan, Afghans will guard towers, patrol perimeter fences and man checkpoints.” Also on FOB Chapman were employees of the private security contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater) which has had a close relationship with the CIA in Afghanistan. We know this because of reports that two of the dead “CIA” agents were Xe operatives.
Someone else of interest was at FOB Chapman and so at that fateful meeting with the Jordanian doctor al-Balawi -- Sharif Ali bin Zeid, a captain in the Jordanian intelligence service, the eighth person killed in the blast. It turns out that al-Balawi was an agent of Jordanian intelligence, which held (and abused) torture suspects kidnapped and disappeared by the CIA in the years of George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror. The service reportedly continues to work closely with the Agency and the captain was evidently running al-Balawi. That’s what we now know about the polyglot group at FOB Chapman on the front lines of the Agency’s black-ops war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the allied fighters of the Haqqani network in nearby Pakistan. If there were other participants, they weren’t among the bodies.
The Agency Surges
And here’s something that’s far clearer in the wake of the bombing: among our vast network of bases in Afghanistan, the CIA has its own designated bases -- as, by the way, do U.S. Special Operations forces, and according to Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill, even private contractor Xe. Without better reporting on the subject, it’s hard to get a picture of these bases, but Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal tells us that a typical CIA base houses no more than 15-20 Agency operatives (which means that al-Balawi’s explosion killed or wounded more than half of the team on FOB Chapman).
And don’t imagine that we’re only talking about a base or two. In the single most substantive post-blast report on the CIA, Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times wrote that the Agency has “an archipelago of firebases in southern and eastern Afghanistan,” most built in the last year. An archipelago? Imagine that. And it’s also reported that even more of them are in the works.
With this goes another bit of information that the Wall Street Journal seems to have been the first to drop into its reports. While you’ve heard about President Obama's surge in American troops and possibly even State Department personnel in Afghanistan, you’ve undoubtedly heard little or nothing about a CIA surge in the region, and yet the Journal’s reporters tell us that Agency personnel will increase by 20-25% in the surge months. By the time the CIA is fully bulked up with all its agents, paramilitaries, and private contractors in place, Afghanistan will represent, according to Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest “stations” in Agency history.
This, in turn, implies other surges. There will be a surge in base-building to house those agents, and a surge in “native” guards -- at least until another suicide bomber hits a base thanks to Taliban supporters among them or one of them turns a weapon on the occupants of a base -- and undoubtedly a surge in Blackwater-style mercenaries as well. Keep in mind that the latest figure on private contractors suggests that 56,000 more of them will surge into Afghanistan in the next 18 months, far more than surging U.S. troops, State Department employees, and CIA operatives combined. And don’t forget the thousands of non-CIA “uniformed and civilian intelligence personnel serving with the Defense Department and joint interagency operations in the country,” who will undoubtedly surge as well.
The efforts of the CIA operatives at Forward Operating Base Chapman were reportedly focused on “collecting information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plotting missions to kill the networks’ top leaders,” especially those in the Haqqani network in North Waziristan just across the Pakistani border. They were evidently running “informants” into Pakistan to find targets for the Agency’s ongoing drone assassination war. These drone attacks in Pakistan have themselves been on an unparalleled surge course ever since Barack Obama entered office; 44 to 50 (or more) have been launched in the last year, with civilian casualties running into the hundreds. Like local Pashtuns, the Agency essentially doesn’t recognize a border. For them, the Afghan and Pakistani tribal borderlands are a single world.
In this way, as Paul Woodward of the website War in Context has pointed out, “Two groups of combatants, neither of whom wear uniforms, are slugging it out on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Each group has identified what it regards as high-value targets and each is using its own available means to hit these targets. The Taliban/Qaeda are using suicide bombers while the CIA is using Hellfire missiles.”
Since the devastating explosion at FOB Chapman, statements of vengeance have been coming out of CIA mouths -- of a kind that, when offered, by the Taliban or al-Qaeda, we consider typical of a backward, “tribal” society. In any case, the secret war is evidently becoming a private and personal one. Dr. al-Balawi’s suicide attack essentially took out a major part of the Agency’s targeting information system. As one unnamed NATO official told the New York Times, “These were not people who wrote things down in the computer or in notebooks. It was all in their heads... [The C.I.A. is] pulling in new people from all over the world, but how long will it take to rebuild the networks, to get up to speed? Lots of it is irrecoverable.” And the Agency was already generally known to be “desperately short of personnel who speak the language or are knowledgeable about the region.” Nonetheless, drone attacks have suddenly escalated -- at least five in the week since the suicide bombing, all evidently aimed at “an area believed to be a hideout for militants involved.” These sound like vengeance attacks and are likely to be particularly counterproductive.
To sum up, U.S. intelligence agents, having lost out to enemy “intelligence agents,” even after being transformed into full-time assassins, are now locked in a mortal struggle with an enemy for whom assassination is also a crucial tactic, but whose operatives seem to have better informants and better information.
In this war, drones are not the Agency’s only weapon. The CIA also seems to specialize in running highly controversial, kick-down-the-door “night raids” in conjunction with Afghan paramilitary forces. Such raids, when launched by U.S. Special Operations forces, have led to highly publicized and heavily protested civilian casualties. Sometimes, according to reports, the CIA actually conducts them in conjunction with Special Operations forces. In a recent American-led night raid in Kunar Province, eight young students were, according to Afghan sources, detained, handcuffed, and executed. The leadership of this raid has been attributed, euphemistically, to “other government agencies” (OGAs) or “non-military Americans.” These raids, whether successful in the limited sense or not, don’t fit comfortably with the Obama administration’s “hearts and minds” counterinsurgency strategy.
The Militarization of the Agency
As the identities of some of the fallen CIA operatives at FOB Chapman became known, a pattern began to emerge. There was 37-year-old Harold Brown, Jr., who formerly served in the Army. There was Scott Roberson, a former Navy SEAL, who did several tours of duty in Iraq, where he provided protection to officials considered at high risk. There was Jeremy Wise, 35, an ex-Navy SEAL who left the military last year, signed up with Xe, and ended up working for the CIA. Similarly, 46-year-old Dane Paresi, a retired Special Forces master sergeant turned Xe hired gun, also died in the blast.
For years, Chalmers Johnson, himself a former CIA consultant, has referred to the Agency as “the president’s private army.” Today, that moniker seems truer than ever. While the civilian CIA has always had a paramilitary component, known as the Special Activities Division, the unit was generally relatively small and dormant. Instead, military personnel like the Army’s Special Forces or indigenous troops carried out the majority of the CIA’s combat missions. After the 9/11 attacks, however, President Bush empowered the Agency to hunt down, kidnap, and assassinate suspected al-Qaeda operatives, and the CIA’s traditional specialties of spycraft and intelligence analysis took a distinct backseat to Special Activities Division operations, as its agents set up a global gulag of ghost prisons, conducted interrogations-by-torture, and then added those missile-armed drone and assassination programs.
The military backgrounds of the fallen CIA operatives cast a light on the way the world of “intelligence” is increasingly muscling up and becoming militarized. This past summer, when a former CIA official suggested the agency might be backing away from risky programs, a current official spat back from the shadows: “If anyone thinks the CIA has gotten risk-averse recently, go ask al-Qaeda and the Taliban... The agency's still doing cutting-edge stuff in all kinds of dangerous places.” At around the same time, reports were emerging that Blackwater/Xe was providing security, arming drones, and “perform[ing] some of the agency’s most important assignments” at secret bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It also emerged that the CIA had paid contractors from Blackwater to take part in a covert assassination program in Afghanistan.
Add this all together and you have the grim face of “intelligence” at war in 2010 -- a new micro-brew when it comes to Washington’s conflicts. Today, in Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war “in the shadows” (as they used to say in the Cold War era). This is no longer “intelligence” as anyone imagines it, nor is it “military” as military was once defined, not when U.S. operations have gone mercenary and native in such a big way. This is pure “lord of the flies” stuff -- beyond oversight, beyond any law, including the laws of war. And worse yet, from all available evidence, despite claims that the drone war is knocking off mid-level enemies, it seems remarkably ineffective. All it may be doing is spreading the war farther and digging it in deeper.
Talk about “counterinsurgency” as much as you want, but this is another kind of battlefield, and “protecting the people” plays no part in it. And of course, this is only what can be gleaned from afar about a semi-secret war that is being poorly reported. Who knows what it costs when you include the U.S. hired guns, the Afghan contractors, the bases, the drones, and the rest of the personnel and infrastructure? Nor do we know what else, or who else, is involved, and what else is being done. Clearly, however, all those billions of "intelligence" dollars are going into the blackest of black holes.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.
Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and the winner of a 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction as well as a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, In These Times, and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse is currently a fellow at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War. He is the author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books). His website is NickTurse.com.
[Note for Readers: Check out “CIA Takes on Bigger and Riskier Role on Front Lines,” the Mark Mazzetti piece in the New York Times mentioned above. It’s the only one we’ve seen in the mainstream that has focused in a clear-eyed way on the militarization of the CIA. In addition, we would especially like to recommend three websites that collect, sort, analyze, and frame the onslaught of fragmented news we get on our various wars in the Greater Middle East and Central and South Asia in a way that makes our job possible: Juan Cole’s Informed Comment (his analyses have been absolutely on fire of late), the invaluable Antiwar.com, including the useful daily summaries of war news provided by Jason Ditz, and War in Context, which has an eye for the key piece and sharp comment.]
Copyright 2010 Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
Do you know what the CIA is doing in the name of "democracy" and "freedom"? Do you want to know? What will we do once we find out?