The Folly of Chronic Wars
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
July 22, 2010The subject here, is the issue posed by the repeated folly of the U.S.A., and other nations, in being drawn into ``long wars,'' such as the post-President Kennedy ``long war'' in Indo-China, or the folly of the present long war in Afghanistan, the latter being that which I treat as a presently, leading case in this report which I present as bearing on the present quality of mental state of the administration of President Barack Obama.
In the matter of recent U.S.A. Afghanistan war-policy, I have not been an admirer of either General McChrystal's policies in Afghanistan, or of the probably worse case of the past and current policies of General Petraeus. Nonetheless; in everything I see, or hear of the interview with Rolling Stone magazine, McChrystal's conduct was neither unlawful, nor his criticisms unjustified.
However, there is a broader and deeper, leading issue posed by the behavior of the Obama Administration in this and coincident other present matters....
This Week's News
U.S. Economic/Financial News
July 18 (EIRNS)A sign of the times: Debtors are being jailed, in record numbers, for failing to pay credit card and other debts, which have been taken over by debt collection agencies which buy up uncollected consumer debts at pennies on the dollar, and abuse an already stressed law enforcement and judicial system, to force debt payments by getting people arrested and jailed. On July 9, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an exposé of just such debtor prison policies in Minnesota and other states. "In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man 'to indefinite incarceration' until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt," the Star Tribune reported. "The laws allowing for the arrest of someone for an unpaid debt are not new. What is new is the rise of well-funded, aggressive and centralized collection firms, in many cases run by attorneys, that buy up unpaid debt and use the courts to collect."
The article catalogued a dozen cases of debtors being hauled off to jail and held overnight or longer. Ostensibly, they were arrested for failure to appear in court on a civil summons, but often, according to the Star Tribune investigation, the bail is set at the exact amount owed on the debt, and the bail money is then turned over to the collection agency by the court.
Federal imprisonment for unpaid debts was outlawed in 1833, and most states outlawed debtors' prisons around the same time; but the trend is being reversed under current conditions of economic collapse.
July 18 (EIRNS)In its history of keeping records of bankruptcies, which began in 1982, the state of Minnesota has never had so many people file bankruptcy in a half-year period as this last six months, when the White House has declared that the economy is in the jobless recovery! In the first six months of 2010, 11,532 people in Minnesota filed for bankruptcy, which is 10.5% higher than one year ago. On the national level, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, there were 770,117 bankruptcy filingsthat is one in every 150 householdsan increase of 14% over one year ago, reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The paper also reports that the post-2005 drop in personal bankruptcies is over. In 2005, the Federal laws were made much tougher and required repayment of some debts. So, in order to come in under the wire before the law changed, in Minnesota, there were 25,635 filings in 2005, but in 2006, the bankruptcy filings dropped to 7,729. In 2009, there were 21,302 bankruptcies filed in Minnesota, and this year's total is expected to be much higher.
July 19 (EIRNS)Former "community organizer" Barack Obama has now offered a plan to sell the nation's low-income housing to the highest bidder, and in the process, throw 2.3 million poor residents to the will of the "markets." The bill, currently still in draft form, is titled the Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act (PETRA), and was unveiled in front of Rep. Barney Frank's House Financial Services Committee in May. It provides for owners of public housing complexes (mostly large municipalities) to "open their units to private investment," in the words of the Washington Post. Considering that public housing nationwide suffers a $30 billion deficit in basic maintenance, and that the Obama proposal also allows for housing complexes to be shut down if not deemed viable, this puts housing for 2.3 million people at risk. Alternatively, the bill would provide for subsidies to residents, so the poor could afford to pay market rate rents, thus subsidizing the landlords from the government till.
Indeed, the nation's public housing program is in a mess. The misnamed Office of Housing and Urban Development currently supervises 13 different programs, mostly offering capital assistance and operating funds to local authorities, and rental assistance (Section 8 housing) in others. Stimulus cash ($4 billion) is running out, and Obama's 2011 budget cuts capital funding to municipal authorities by almost $500 million. As "protection," the bill would demand long-term 20-year contracts, with included 30-year restrictions on property usage, but the "transformation," once enacted, would remove the government from the "responsibility" of providing housing for all of its citizens.
The proposal has an up-hill battle, and many detractors. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chair of the Housing Subcommittee, warned that the bill could "lead to the permanent loss of public housing," and even Rep. Barney "Bailout" Frank (D-Mass.) noted there was "widespread opposition" to the sellout. Linda Couch, senior vice president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, noted, "Everyone seems to understand that there's not going to be a massive new infusion of capital funds, and without that, what do you do?" She did not mention Lyndon LaRouche's proposed Homeowners and Bank Protection Act of 2007, or his call for a new Glass-Steagall law.
Global Economic News
July 20 (EIRNS)While large portions of southern China, in Guangdong and Sichuan, have been hit by an excessive amount of rain, causing major flooding in south and central China, the area along the Yangtze River, which in previous years had been devastated by such floods, has been little affected, thanks to the Three Gorges Dam.
This is the first major flood-control test of the world's largest dam, which had been a major target of radical environmentalists when it was begun. The flow on the river's upper reaches topped 70,000 cubic meters a second today20,000 cubic meters more than the flow during the 1998 floods that killed 4,150 people, the highest level since the dam was completed last year, and only slightly below the peak in the 1981 flood, which was even more devastating.
The designed capacity of the dam allows a flow of 100,000 cubic meters/second. The discharged amount from the reservoir has been kept under 40,000 cubic meters per second, which means that the dam blocked 43% of upstream water and prevented severe flooding in the lower reaches, said Cao Guanjing, the Three Gorges Dam Corporation's chairman. The Corporation had reduced the reservoir's water level to below 146 meters before the rainy season. The reservoir has a capacity of more than 20 billion cubic meters, as the water level can rise to as high as 175 meters.
July 21 (EIRNS)India and Bangladesh have taken up several major projects to interlink each other's rail and road infrastructure to facilitate access to Southeast Asia. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a line of credit of $1 billion, during Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's state visit to India on June 10-13, for a range of projects including railway infrastructure and dredging projects. The first of the 14 projects earmarked is procurement of six high-powered dredgers at a cost of around $71.7 million. One of the dredgers will be used for dredging at Mongla Port, three for the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and two for the Bangladesh Water Development Board. Hasina, in her meeting with Singh, sought Indian help for dredging of rivers for flood control, navigation, and access to ports.
The prime focus of the railroad projects is to interlink by railroad, northeast India, Nepal, and Bhutan to Bangladesh's two main ports, Chittagong and Mongla. Nepal and Bhutan are landlocked countries, and major parts of northeast India have no access to the sea either. The lines drawn by the departing British colonials had created these discontinuities.
However, after 63 years since the British Raj left the area, efforts are at last afoot to interconnect the entire northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. According to reports from the Bangladesh government, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure has recently approved construction of four-lane, 45-mile Krishnanagar-Baharampore highway for a North-South road link in the state of West Bengal, as it passes through the state longitudinally, and connects the northeastern states and neighboring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, according to a recent statement of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways of India.
Western European News Digest
July 19 (EIRNS)The government of Hungary, a small nation of 10 million, is putting up resistance to the EU and IMF: Finance Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy yesterday rejected EU-IMF demands for new budget cuts, saying that the new government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban was elected because it promised not to continue the austerity policy of the previous government. There will, therefore, be no more budget cuts that hit the broad population, Matolcsy said, reiterating his views today in a television interview. Instead, the government will raise an additional EU700 million per fiscal year, through a bank levy.
The IMF instantly broke off talks with Budapest, and blocked the last tranche of $5.5 billion of a $20 billion standby loan negotiated two years ago by the previous government. Orban said that Hungary may be able to get along without that loan anyway, and on July 22, the national parliament is expected to pass the bank levy, since the government controls two-thirds of the seats.
July 21 (EIRNS)Following Hungary's announcement, Iveta Radicova, the new Prime Minister of Slovakia, today categorically ruled out drastic budget cuts resembling those of the previous governments. She said the Slovakian people already went through that, with a lot of suffering, in the 1990s and at the beginning of the millennium, cutting their living standards by 10% to stabilize the banking system. "This will not happen again ... the population cannot be made the victim of irresponsible governments again and again."
Instead of budget cuts that hit the average citizens and undermine the state's role in the creation of new jobs, revenues for the state should be raised where there is crime and corruption in the economy, she said. In Slovakia's relations with its neighboring nations, "the really burning issues," like economic cooperation, and flood relief for the regions bordering on the Danube River, shall have priority, and politicians should not get distracted by other issues, she added.
July 19 (EIRNS)Once again, as during the two Harold Wilson governments of 1964-70 and 1974-76, Britain is burning down its own house for the purpose of providing an example to its neighbors. Then, it was Wilson's Schumpeterian "creative destruction" of the British economy, which was designed to be imitated in the U.S.as it was, first by Richard Nixon, and then, much more disastrously, by the Trilateral Commission-controlled Jimmy Carter. Now, it is the communitarian fascism, also called "distributism," of the early 20th-Century Englishmen G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, mothered into Prime Minister David Cameron's new Tory government by the Fabian Society.
Her Majesty's government has just launched its plan for implementing "fascism with a democratic face" throughout Great Britain. But beware: It is also coming to the United States. Cameron announced this as his "Big Society" policy at a conference in Liverpool, where he declared, "The Big Society is about liberationthe biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man in the street." He outlined a plan for local control, on the communitarian fascist model, of services which have hitherto been controlled by local, city, and national governments, including schools, fire departments, transportation, museums, etc.
While Cameron denied that his plan was aimed at cutting services, few believe him. Dave Prentis, the General Secretary of Unison, which represents public sector workers, told the Guardian, "Make no mistake, this plan is all about saving money, and it will cost even more jobs and lead to more service cuts. The government is simply washing its hands of providing decent public services and using volunteers as a cut price alternative."
PARIS, July 22 (EIRNS)At yesterday's meeting of the French Council of Ministers, with the unusual participation of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, despite continuing disagreements, the two countries decided to address "A Franco-German Paper" of joint proposals to EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who heads the EU Commission's Task Force on Economic Governance. Both countries propose the following sanctions for member countries that do not abide by the EU's Maastricht Treaty, which limits state indebtedness to 3% of GDP: 1) paying a fine to a European fund; 2) reduced access to European funds, 3) eliminating the voting rights of the non-complying states. The text is very weak, however. Since there is no agreement on reopening negotiations on the treaties, this would be adopted as a "temporary political proposal" with no juridical standing, but which would be added to the EU treaties at the first opportunity. Otherwise, for diplomatic reasons, the two decided to launch a comparative study of their own fiscal policies.
July 21 (EIRNS)Nino Novacco, chairman emeritus of Svimez, the think tank that monitors and promotes the development of Italy's Mezzogiorno region, has called for a new agency in an FDR style to plan and finance regional development for Southern Italy.
The proposal is part of the yearly report by Svimez, presented yesterday in Rome before state and government authorities, politicians, and media. In presenting the report, Novacco said that Svimez has proposed "a specific Agency for the Development of Mezzogiorno's Territory," modelled on "the positive aspects" of the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno experience in the 1950-75 period, "inspired by the American authorities of Roosevelt's years, after the Great Crisis (Tennessee Valley Authority, Columbia River, and afterwards, the Appalachian Commission)."
PARIS, July 20 (EIRNS)Although French President Nicolas Sarkozy denies that his government's plan to cut EU100 billion by 2013 is an austerity plan, French media have started to evoke the specter of Pierre Laval, the French Prime Minister who ran a deflationary policy in 1935, and became the main figure of the Nazi-backed Vichy regime. The daily Le Parisien, for example, put the issue on its front page, noting that Laval "imposed deflationary policies" and "reduced the army budget while Hitler was remilitarizing."
July 19 (EIRNS)Greece is becoming a major target of a strategy of tension that parallels the destruction of the country through the European Union-mandated brutal austerity policy. At least three gunmen in Athens gunned down a leading left-wing Greek investigative journalist, Socratis Giolas. The murder follows an attempt on the life of the Security Minister on June 24, when a parcel bomb addressed to the minister killed his security chief.
The gunmen who killed Fiolas were dressed as police officers; they lured him out of his house by claiming his car was stolen, and then pumped 20 shots into his body. Police claim that the bullets match those of two weapons used by the Greek terrorist Sect of Revolutionaries in the murder of an anti-terrorist police officer on June 17, 2009.
July 22 (EIRNS)The former head of Britain's MI5, Lady Manningham-Buller, gave testimony on June 20 before the Chilcot Committee investigating the origins of the Iraq War. Lyndon LaRouche characterized her testimony as "backhanded support to David Kelly," the British weapons expert who was found dead, shortly after criticizing the Tony Blair government for "sexing up" a report on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Lady Manningham-Buller, who led MI5 from 2002 to 2007, said that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had greatly increased the terrorist threat to Britain itself, and that intelligence available before the Iraq War had not been sufficient to justify the invasion of that country.
Russia and the CIS News Digest
July 20 (EIRNS)Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday announced that his government will allocate the funding needed to start construction of the new Vostochny [Eastern] Space Center in Russia's Far East, beginning next year. "The government decided to allocate, over the next three years, 24.7 billion rubles [about US$811 million] for the beginning of the full-scale construction of the Vostochny Space Center," Putin said, Novosti reported. He was speaking at the headquarters of the Energia space corporation in the Moscow region. These funds will create the necessary base for the project, Putin said. "I hope that the Vostochny Space Center will become the first civilian national space center, and [will] guarantee full independence of Russia's space activities," Putin added. Construction should be completed by 2015.
Lyndon LaRouche emphasized the contrast between the Russian decision to start building this important project for space exploration, while the Obama government is only generating more empty space.
The Prime Minister said that, "It is important that the new space center will provide service for all prospective space projects, including a manned transport system, new-generation boosters and future interplanetary complexes." The space center will increase the industrial capacity of the Far East and encourage more investment in this huge, strategic region. Putin also stressed to the officials of Energia and the Russian Space Agency, that they must intensify cooperation with counterpart companies and agencies in the European Union, Japan, China, and the United States. Last September, deputy Presidential representative to the Far East Alexander Levintal called on U.S. businessmen to expand their currently low investment levels in the Russian Far East, to projects in infrastructure and space (see EIR, Jan. 15, 2010).
Federal Space Agency Roscosmos director Anatoly Perminov said construction work will employ up to 30,000 people. The cosmodrome will be built near Uglegorsk, about 100 km from the border with China.
In 2007, the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov, stated that Russia must build a new cosmodrome, as Russia needed to develop an alternative to the former Soviet space center at Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Then-President Putin signed a decree to develop the eastern cosmodrome in November 2007, and work has continued since then to develop the project.
A discussion of the full strategic importance of this project for Russia, Eurasia, and the U.S. and Canada, was presented to the Schiller Institute conference in Germany in September 2007 (see "Space Industry Cluster in Russia's Amur Region," EIR, Sept. 28, 2007).
July 22 (EIRNS)Russian nuclear fuel fabricator TVEL announced today that its Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) subsidiary will produce the first batch of nuclear fuel in 2011 for Russia's first floating nuclear power plant. The completed hull of the first floating plant, the Akademician Lomonosov, was launched on June 30 at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg. The vessel will house two 35-MW KLT-40S nuclear reactors, similar to those used in Russia's nuclear-powered ice breakers. Rosatom plans to load the fuel into the two reactors by 2012, after which the vessel will be towed for deployment in Vilyuchinsk, in the Kamchatka region in Russia's Far East. At the same time, the Chukotka Autonomous District announced that oceanographers and geophysicists are scoping out a site for another floating plant near the port of Pevek on the East Siberian Sea.
July 22 (EIRNS)Russia is renewing some key transport technology developed under the Soviet Union. On July 15, Russia Today reported that the government has commissioned the renewal of the famous "Caspian Sea Monster," the legendary ekranoplane, or GEV (ground effect vehicle) developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. These are very large cargo vehicles, almost a flying ship, capable of carrying heavy loads just above the sea (or level land) surface, much faster than ships can travel. The technology will be developed by the Russian Alekseyev Design and Construction bureau, which had produced the first examples of the technology. A new, large model will be ready for testing in 2012. The ekranoplane's special wings create an air cushion which holds the vehicle above the surface; theoretically, at least, the larger the vehicle, the better it will fly.
Southwest Asia News Digest
July 26 (EIRNS)As long as Nerobama is President, war against Iran remains a big danger in the near termwith an increasing drumbeat that the U.S.A. itself, not Israel, conduct the war. The oligarchy knows that Obama is insane, so the goading of him to act increases daily.
On July 25, on CNN's State of the Union, former CIA Director Michael Hayden joined the chorus, saying that Obama's sanctions are not working, so, "My personal view is that Iran, left to its own devices, will get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon, that permanent breakout stage.... And, frankly, that will be as destabilizing as their actually having a weapon.
"When I was in government, what we would used to mystically call 'the kinetic option' was way down on our list. In my personal thinkingin my personal thinking; I need to emphasize thatI have begun to consider that that may not be the worst of all possible outcomes."
And, according to the American Jewish pro-peace leader M.J. Rosenberg, the August issue of Atlantic Monthly will feature an article by Jeff Goldbergpropagandist for the Israeli right and the imperial war crowdthat demands that the U.S., not Israel, attack Iran. Writing on the TalkingPointsMemo blog, Rosenberg states that Goldberg is "losing it," and has "recently been calling Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer [coauthors of the book The Israel Lobby] and other critics of [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu 'anti-Semites.' Nothing new about that. For Goldberg, a major AIPAC neocon, all critics of Israeli policies are anti-Semites by definition...." Goldberg will call on the U.S. "to bomb Iran so that Israel does not have to," writes Rosenberg.
It was the same Goldberg who "mousetrapped" U.A.E. Ambassador Youssef al-Oteiba at a recent Aspen Institute meeting, into stating, unofficially, that a military strike against Iran could be acceptable. Al-Oteiba's remarks were rebutted by the U.A.E. Foreign Ministry. "The U.A.E. totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," said Tareq al-Haidan, the United Arab Emirates Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, reported the Wall Street Journal on July 7, following the release of a formal U.A.E. government statement However, Haidan added, "The U.A.E., at the same time, believes in the need of keeping the Gulf region free of nuclear weapons."
But Haidan's statement was virtually ignored, compared to the massive international coverage of the "Sunni Arab" support for an Iran strike following the Goldberg disinformation.
At the same time, there is a mounting counter-operation by highly qualified U.S. military and intelligence veterans to prevent a repeat of the Iraq War disinformationlike the Niger yellow cake forgeriesagainst Iran. According to Washington sources, there is an active disinformation campaign to produce garbage to be put into a "new NIE" (National Intelligence Estimate) that would justify an attack by the U.S. on Iran. This time, veterans intend to prevent such a catastrophe.
July 24 (EIRNS)Turkish authorities have issued 102 arrest warrants in the "Sledgehammer" coup plot of 2003. Most of those wanted are active-duty or retired senior military officers, including two former force commanders. The case has been under investigation for weeks, and an indictment of 196 people has been handed down. The plotters are accused of planning to cooperate with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has launched a major offensive against the government just in the past two months.
The indictment names Gen. Cetin Dogan as the prime suspect in an alleged plot to cooperate with terrorist organizations, including the PKK. The aim was to create a strategy of tension, behind which cover a coup could be pulled off. This was revealed in handwritten notes by one of the suspects, retired Brig. General Suha Tanyeri, who wrote, "Cooperation with extreme leftist and communist terrorist groups" should be part of the plan. His notes also called for cooperation with the PKK, saying, "the people who will cooperate with the PKK for this purpose should be determined beforehand."
These accusations raise the question of whether the current attacks by the PKK are linked to foreign-controlled elements within Turkey's security establishment.
Although never actually implemented, the plan was devised under the initiative of Dogan, following the election victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002. The plan was drafted at a "seminar," comprising 162 people, including 25 active duty generals and 95 retired officers. It is believed that many of those indicted had links to the Ergenekon, a British-controlled criminal network that has penetrated the military security establishment. Ergenekon networks have been accused of working with the PKK to implement a strategy of tension. This network is linked to the "coup" tendency within the Turkish military that dates back to the British-orchestrated military coups of 1960, 1971, and 1980.
July 25 (EIRNS)U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) will lead a July 29 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to investigate the recent BP $1 billion oil deal with Libya, to determine whether there was a secret agreement between the British and Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, to free the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, as a precondition for the lucrative oil development contract. According to July 18 articles in London's Independent and Daily Mail, the broker for this oil-for-terrorist scheme was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who still has a spoiler role in Middle East policies as the special envoy of the "Quartet." Despite the fact that the so-called 2004 Road Map to a Palestinian state is completely dead, President Barack Obama has continued to engage Blair as the Quartet envoy.
Meanwhile, Blair has been "consulting" for a number of British companies seeking business in Libya, and news reports from Britain indicate that Blair had secretly flown to Tripoli to meet with Qaddafi, to nail down the arrangement. Al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on "humanitarian" grounds, based on claims that he was dying. But, since his return to Libya, he has reportedly undergone a miraculous recovery; and since then, BP has signed the lucrative oil exploration deal with Libya.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the issue of the BP-Libya deal, and the links to the al-Megrahi release in a phone conversation on July 16 with her British counterpart, William Hague. Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, but was freed to return to Libya last August, despite strong protests from the U.S.
Both Hague and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who comes to Washington this week to meet with President Obama, called the early release of al-Megrahi "a mistake," but the July 29 Senate hearings will probe the darker implications, and the personal role of Blair, in yet one more typically sleazy deal, like the BAE "al-Yamamah" arrangementsthis time involving BP.
July 24 (EIRNS)At a July 24 conference in Tehran, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said $8 million has been allocated to conduct "serious" research in fusion, with plans to build an experimental reactor after two years of design study. He told state TV that 50 experts have been hired for this program. AP reports Iran has done some basic fusion research in the past. Salehi said Iran would be willing to join international efforts, but that Iran will go on alone. He said it would take 20 to 30 years before it is commercialized.
Asia News Digest
July 20 (EIRNS)As the Afghan insurgents continue to gain ground against the U.S.-NATO Afghan campaign, a July 20 international donors conference has brought together dozens of top-level diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Kabul has been put under an intense security lockdown, which forced many residents to leave the capital. The objective is to secure pledges from donor countries to raise $25 billion, which is sought by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the conference.
Rifts have begun to emerge within the Coalition over its tense relations with Karzai. The underlying cause is the growing realization that the Afghan campaign has failed miserably, and at great cost. The insurgents, who appeared to have been defeated at the beginning of the war, have since grown from strength to strength, particularly after 2003, when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) of NATO and the U.S. Army started recruiting more troops to bring the Afghan countryside under their sway. From Operation Anaconda in March 2002 (when the U.S. military, CIA paramilitary officers, and other NATO and non-NATO forces attempted to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Shahi-Kot), to Operation Khanjar in July 2009after U.S. President Barack Obama's first "surge" of 21,000 additional troops (when 4,000 U.S. Marines and 650 Afghan troops moved into the Helmand Valley), Taliban fighters have scored numerous victories in minor skirmishes and medium-intensity encounters with the occupation forces.
Few people put it quite as bluntly as Francesc Vendrell, a retired senior diplomat who served first, the UN in Afghanistan before 2001, and then worked as the top representative of the European Union in Kabul. He recently told the London Guardian that the current military effort to push the Taliban out of Kandahar and Helmand was particularly foolish because these are precisely the areas that, in his view, will have to be handed over to Taliban control.
Pessimism has taken over. A paper by the Afghanistan NGO Security Office articulated what most people believe: that the counterinsurgency program cannot win. It sees this Summer's surge of U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan as the "grand finale" of a Western intervention which is looking to wind itself down. Reports and discussions prior to the conference indicate that back-channel negotiations have begun to accommodate the insurgents in Kabul. But instead of a well-organized effort to talk to the Taliban, there is currently a free-for-all, with a whole range of people and countries trying to make contacts with the Taliban's leadership council.
July 18 (EIRNS)China's State Council has put the national and regional governments on notice to deal with the growing danger that flooding this year will reach the scale of the "century" floods of 1998, which killed some 4,000 people. Beijing has set up a new General Command Office To Prevent Flooding and Drought, and a broad-based disaster-relief operation, led by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and manned by the People's Liberation Army, to deal with the crisis. In widespread flooding in southeast and central China, some 400 people have died so far, out of 1.7 million affected by the severe rainfall, mudslides, and flooding. About 2 million hectares of farmland have been damaged, with several hundred thousand destroyed completely. The rainy season, which began in June, is only half over, and already the water level in the Yangtze River system has risen above the danger level. Earlier, droughts affected Summer grain production in China.
The Three Gorges Dam, built for improving flood control on the Yangtze, had to release water from its huge reservoir this week. While many areas along the Yangtze in Hubei province and Chongqing have been inundated, the biggest cities on the lower Yangtze, Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai, have been spared any serious flooding so far.
Earlier this week, the CNN Beijing bureau quoted American Red Cross official Ramsey Rayyis on the Chinese mobilization: "From my experience, the Chinese government and the Chinese Red Cross are doing a commendable job in responding to emergencies. The  Sichuan earthquake was one of the biggest challenges they faced in many, many years. Certainly there were gaps in some of that response, but from what I've seen, they've redeveloped their response plans. The recent flooding and earthquakes have shown they are able to respond efficiently and quickly," Rayyis said. The Chinese leadership "recognize that with a population of this size and the magnitude of the disasters that occur in this country, they have a responsibility to take it seriously.... In many ways, the government is able to come down and directly respond and shoot down the line.... There are of course gaps to that but, for the most part, they are able to act more quickly just because of the nature of their structure."
July 20 (EIRNS)The U.S. is considering allowing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to accept an invitation to visit Pyongyang, North Korea, multiple diplomatic sources told the South Korean JoongAng Ilbo) yesterday. The sources based said that Han Song-ryol, deputy North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, invited Richardson in May to visit the North in order to discuss various diplomatic issues, including the sinking of the Cheonan.
Japan's Asahi Shimbun reports that "according to sources, Washington has been quietly approached by Beijing to persuade Seoul to show restraint in its response toward Pyongyang, and to refrain from broadcasting military propaganda over loudspeakers near the fortified border and not to conduct provocative war games. Washington's sudden about-face is forcing Seoul to tone down its retaliation plans against Pyongyang, which South Korea says is behind the sinking. Some within the Seoul government have acknowledged that the country may have lost a major diplomatic battle."
Of course, it is a "lost battle" only from a confrontational standpoint. The South Korean population in recent local elections made clear its unease with the then growing South/North escalating tensions, by not "rallying around the flag" and supporting the government in the polls.
Africa News Digest
July 22 (EIRNS)A July 13 public criticism of the George-Soros-created International Criminal Court (ICC) by U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration, was ridiculed today by the Washington Post, which characterized his comments as "off message"i.e., not in line with the British-inspired policy of shutting off relations with the Sudan government, a line that is being toed by the White House and State Department. Gration is working to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Sudan, which ended the North-South civil war there. The White House and State Department are calling for Sudan to fully cooperate with the ICC.
The day after Soros's ICC, on July 12, issued another arrest warrant for Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, this time alleging the charge of genocide in Darfur, Gration said that the ICC action "will make my mission more difficult and challenging, especially if we realize that resolving the crisis in Darfur and [the] south, issues of oil, and combatting terrorism at 100 percent, we need Bashir." He added, referring to the upcoming referendum on unity or secession in the South: "Also [regarding] the issues of citizenship and referendum, the north holds a lot of influence, so this is really tough. How will I carry out my duties in this environment?"
A referendum, scheduled for Jan. 9, 2011, in South Sudan to determine if the South secedes, or remains unified with Khartoum-based central government of Sudan is part of the CPA agreement.
In response to the attack on Gration, Lyndon LaRouche charged that the ICC is not a real court, but is privately funded by the British, via their puppet Soros, who has a nasty record and should be examined for his mental problems. In addition, the court is privately staffed. If it were a real court, said LaRouche, it would open Nuremberg-style trials, and put the British government and their puppet Soros on trial for their genocidal policies which will reduce the world's population from nearly 7 billion, down to 2 billion.
Citing a June ABC report, the Washington Post reported that Susan Rice, the anglophile U.S. ambassador to the UN, was already furious with Gration for his efforts to settle the Sudan crisis without violence, before he made his criticism of the ICC. Rice is a participant in the White House National Security Council.
"Why listen to the babbling of a Rice-ist?" responded LaRouche. He said she should also be put on trial, and put on the list of those to be recalled when Obama goes out.
The United States is the only country which has labelled the Darfur conflict as genocide. In addition, a 2004 UN commission of inquiry did not label the crisis there as genocide.
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