Archive for September, 2010
Tea Party vs. War Party? Pat Buchanan: Neocons try to get Tea Party on board
Posted By Patrick J. Buchanan On September 30, 2010 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | No Comments
“We’re all on the same page until the polls close Nov. 2,” Richard Viguerie, the longtime conservative strategist who has allied with the Tea Party, told the New York Times. After that, “a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party begins.”
Indeed, such a battle seems unavoidable. Consider.
The great issue uniting and motivating the Republican Party and Tea Party is the deficit-debt crisis, a national debt nearing 100 percent of gross domestic product and a deficit of 10 percent of GDP.
As to the cause of the deficit that could precipitate a run on the dollar, double-digit inflation, even a default, the Tea Party and GOP also agree — federal spending that consumes 25 percent of GDP.
Both are also on the same page in their opposition to closing the deficit with new or higher taxes.
This means spending must be slashed. But to cut the budget to 20 percent of GDP, where it was before George W. Bush and Barack Obama, requires spending cuts of an astronomical $700 billion a year. Even then, the 2011 deficit would be $700 billion.
As interest on the debt must be paid, or we default, there are only two places you can find that kind of money. The first is the major entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — and social spending for education, veterans benefits, earned income tax credits and unemployment compensation.
But a Democratic Party, brutalized and bled on Nov. 2, returning to Capitol Hill with its moderate wing annihilated, is unlikely to collude with a resurgent Republican right and Tea Party caucus in hacking away at social programs that are the Democratic Party’s pride and joy, and the reason that party exists.
Which leaves one place where a bipartisan majority may be found for major spending cuts: defense and the empire, the warfare state.
The “agonizing reappraisal” of commitments abroad that John Foster Dulles predicted half a century ago may be at hand.
And here is where the Tea Party and War Party split the blanket.
If Obama makes good on his pledge of full withdrawal of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of 2011, will the Tea Party and Republican right oppose that withdrawal and join the War Party in demanding that we retain an army in Iraq indefinitely?
If Obama refuses to go to war against Iran, a war that would send oil prices soaring, close the Persian Gulf and be a disaster for the global economy, will the Tea Party join the War Party in denouncing Obama for not launching a third war in the Near East?
If Obama begins his promised withdrawal from Afghanistan next July, will Tea Party Republicans join the War Party and the generals in accusing Obama of inviting an American defeat?
The neocons are nervous the Tea Party may not sign up to soldier on for the empire. Writing in the Washington Post, Danielle Pletka and Thomas Donnelly of AEI have sniffed out the unmistakable scent of “isolationism” among Tea Party favorites.
They are warning that the old right and Tea Party might unite in a “combination of Ebenezer Scrooge and George McGovern, withdrawing from the world to a countinghouse America.”
Sorry, but the old neocon name-calling won’t cut it this time.
After Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are not going to give the establishment and War Party a free hand in foreign policy. Every patriot will do what is necessary and pay what is needed to defend his country. But national security is one thing, empire security another.
Why should Americans, 65 years after World War II, be defending rich Europeans from a Soviet Union that has been dead for 20 years, so those same Europeans can cut their defense budgets to protect their social safety nets?
President Eisenhower told JFK to bring the troops home from Europe, or the Europeans would wind up as permanent wards.
Was Ike a closet isolationist?
Almost $14 trillion in debt today, we borrow from Europe to defend Europe, borrow from Japan to defend Japan, borrow from the Gulf Arabs to defend the Gulf Arabs. And we borrow from Beijing to send foreign aid to African regimes whose U.N. delegations laughed and applauded as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the General Assembly that 9/11 was an inside job by the U.S. government. Have we lost all sense of self-respect?
In his 1969 “Silent Majority” address, Richard Nixon said that, after Vietnam, America would provide Asian allies with weapons and assistance in defending their freedom. But Americans would no longer do the fighting.
Why are U.S. soldiers still on the DMZ, 57 years after the Korean War? Why are Marines still on Okinawa, 65 years after Gen. MacArthur took the surrender? Cannot Korea and Japan, prosperous and populous, conscript the soldiers for their own defense?
National security, yes. Empire security we can no longer afford.
The only problem with Sen. McGovern’s “Come home, America!” slogan was the timing.
Read more by Patrick J. Buchanan
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
Posted By Justin Raimondo On September 30, 2010 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 2 Comments
“We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies,” said Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik after a US/NATO manned air strike took out three Pakistani soldiers and wounded three others. If it isn’t clear to the Pakistani minister, it is crystal clear to the people of Pakistan, who live in fear of constant US drone attacks – and, now, open violations of their country’s sovereignty. Anti-American sentiment is at an all-time high, and the increasingly fragile government – which hangs by a very thin thread – is being rapidly undermined by US actions.
The attack was launched “in self-defense,” according to the US military, but the Pakistanis weren’t appeased: they promptly cut off a vital supply route into Afghanistan. Slowly, but surely, the Obama administration is keeping one of the President’s more ominous campaign promises – that he would invade Pakistan, if necessary, to “win” the war in Afghanistan. Even John McCain found this a scary prospect, and denounced it as “dangerous” – and yet we hear nary a peep from the Democratic-controlled Congress, nor are any Republicans, including McCain, raising objections.
Yet this move toward an open confrontation with our Pakistani “allies” may be the most momentous development to date in our seemingly endless “war on terrorism,” one that will plunge the entire region into a conflagration we can barely imagine. Today it is drone strikes, and occasional NATO manned incursions: tomorrow our armies will be marching on Islamabad, trying to unseat Islamic “radicals” on the verge of taking over the country.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan is the prize Osama bin Laden and his cohorts have to win in order to strike a major blow at the US – and we are doing our best to deliver it to him, gift-wrapped. The raids that resulted in the deaths of Pakistani soldiers are said to be somehow connected to vague intelligence reports of a “Mumbai-style” attack planned for somewhere in Europe: the Eiffel Tower was evacuated briefly the other day, and police presence at British landmarks and other sites in Germany was beefed up. But one wonders: if these plans are already in the execution stage, then how would an attack in Pakistan stop or deter them?
The answer is: it wouldn’t. But then again the entire rationale for occupying Afghanistan and destabilizing Pakistan – to eliminate the possibility of attacks on the West – has never been all that convincing. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were launched from Hamburg, Germany, and Hollywood, Florida, not Afghanistan or Pakistan. But then again, no one believes anything coming out of the mouths of US officials, including the officials themselves.
The Americans are constantly harping on the alleged unwillingness of Pakistani authorities to take on the terrorists, but in reality it is Pakistan that has caught and neutralized more terrorists than the US and its allies combined. However, the Obama administration facing political pressure on the home front to “do something,” and stuck in a quagmire of its own making, needs a scapegoat – preferably a foreign (and Islamic) one. Pakistan fits the bill.
It’s all about politics – shocking, isn’t it?
Driven by this dynamic, the US is on a course that has to end in a much-extended war, one that will have us openly fighting in Pakistan before too long. In which case the civilian government is likely to fall and the Pakistani military – trained and armed by the US – will fill the vacuum. This is just what the Pakistani branch of the Taliban wants: it gives them a clear narrative to recite to potential recruits, who are bound to flow into their ranks. In the wake of the worst floods in Pakistan’s long history, which have left four million homeless, and hopeless, a full-blown insurgency is likely to spread from the tribal regions to the rest of the country, threatening the cities – and creating an opportunity for India to move in.
The Indian factor is the one big unknown is all this turmoil, one that could play a decisive role in making a bad situation worse. Pakistan and India have been in a state of undeclared war since 1947, and the rise of Hindu ultra-nationalism has exacerbated tensions with Muslims, who have been the targets of violence by Hindu extremists. Tensions are high right now due to the expected court decision over who owns the land on which the Ayodhya mosque once sat: Muslims want to rebuild the 16th century structure, while extremist Hindus are opposed. The issue could spark yet another round of ethno-religious rioting in India, provoke more terrorist attacks in the region, and ultimately lead to a violent clash with Pakistan over one of many flashpoints on the long Indo-Pakistani border.
The very dangerous course the Obama is currently pursuing could easily end in the world’s first nuclear exchange: Indian nukes are aimed straight at Islamabad, just as Pakistan’s nuclear-tipped missiles are pointed at New Delhi.
This grisly prospect doesn’t seem to be deterring the Obama administration one bit: indeed, our provocations aimed at Pakistan have only increased in recent days. Reckless is too mild a word to employ in this regard: crazy is more like it.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
A reminder: I’m going on the road this autumn, a speaking tour that will take me from the West coast to the East coast, and points in between as yet to be determined. My topic: How we can defeat the War Party, and why we must..
Read more by Justin Raimondo
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
America’s crumbling infrastructure (as neoconned US government spends BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq instead!)
America’s crumbling infrastructure (as neoconned US government spends BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq instead!):
US facing bankruptcy:
Veterans’ Health Costs Could Top $900 Billion: Study
WASHINGTON — A new study estimates that health costs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could top $900 billion, and a lawmaker wants to set up a trust fund to make sure the bill will be paid.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Ca., warned that the U.S. faces a huge bill for veterans’ health care, and his concerns were buttressed by a recent study by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University.
The two academics say the number of veterans, their injury rates and the cost of treating them have increased far more than expected in the last couple of years.
“If Americans want to vote for war, the Congress wants to vote for war, that’s fine – but include the real costs” and budget for them, Filner told reporters by phone Wednesday. Filner is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the issue Thursday.
Stiglitz and Bilmes, also speaking by phone, on Wednesday estimated the cost of providing vets with lifetime medical costs and disability payments from the Veteran’s Administration, as well as Social Security payments for the severely disabled, at between $589 billion and $934 billion, depending on the length and intensity of the Iraq and Afghan wars.
That is more than 30 percent higher than the Stiglitz and Bilmes estimated in the 2008 book “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”
They said that about 600,000 of the more than 2.1 million service members who’ve been deployed since 2001 have already received treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The 600,000 figure is far higher than the numbers most often given publicly by defense officials.
The veterans agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wake Up, America!
Posted By Philip Giraldi On September 29, 2010 @ 11:00 pm
Let us suppose for a moment that an individual enjoying the full confidence and trust of the United States government was given access to the most secret information possessed by the US military, to include how it would react to an attack by an aggressor armed with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Let us further suppose that that individual violated his trust in the most egregious and vile fashion, offering to sell the information to anyone, but eventually settling on a nation ostensibly friendly to the US but not in any way a formal ally. The individual then proceeded to deliver defense secrets literally by the carload, not only information that might plausibly have been construed as relevant to the buyer’s own security, but also strategic defense information that could conceivably have led to the deaths of millions of American citizens. That information was then bartered and re-sold to an enemy who was in a position to use it to devastate the United States, together with sources and methods information on intelligence operations that in short order led to the deaths of many American citizens and also foreigners who had been cooperating with the United States.
Let us further suppose that the individual who stole the secrets was eventually caught because the sheer volume of what he was stealing was detected in spite of the indolence and incompetence of his superiors and he was convicted and imprisoned for life. In the damage assessment made after the arrest, it was determined that the espionage had been the most devastating ever experienced by the United States of America, both in volume and in the sensitivity of the information that had been betrayed.
Fast forward a few years. The country that paid the man to steal the secrets becomes a major beneficiary of US assistance and uses the money to set up a lobbying organization that effectively manages key players in the federal government and the media, making it virtually invulnerable to any criticism. Pumped up by hubris, that country seeks on several occasions to obtain the freedom of its spy, claiming inaccurately that he was only taking information used for purely defensive purposes. Fast forward a few more years and legislators in the US Congress known to be advocates of the foreign country that bought the secrets join in, calling for the release of the convicted spy. The media, also compromised and in the pockets of the foreign lobby, obligingly does not report the tale of American legislators who have apparently sold out.
I am, of course, referring to Jonathan Pollard and his friends in Israel and the United States. Pollard did more damage to the United States than any spy in history. And it was genuine damage, not just a mass of documents that had been routinely classified. Pollard’s Israeli handler, aided by someone in the White House who has up until now evaded arrest, was able to ask for specific classified documents by name and number. The Soviets obtained US war plans, passed to them by the Israelis in exchange for money and free emigration of Russian Jews without any regard for the damage it was doing to the United States. The KGB was able to use the mass of information to reconstruct US intelligence operations directed against it and a number of Americans and US agents paid with their lives. Pollard also revealed to the Israelis and Soviets the technical and human source capabilities that US intelligence did and did not have, which is the most critical information of all as it underlies all information collection efforts. Compounding the problem, the United States has never actually been able to accurately ascertain all of the damage done by Pollard because the Israeli government has refused to cooperate in the investigation and has not returned the documents that were stolen.
And make no mistake, Pollard did it for money. He has since wrapped himself in the Israeli flag and promoted himself as an observant Jew to justify his crime and to obtain his freedom. He is reported to be a very popular person in Israel, an Israeli citizen by act of parliament, and there is a square in Jerusalem that has been renamed “Freedom for Jonathan Pollard Square.” There is also an active “Justice for Jonathan Pollard” movement in the United States supported by the heavyweight Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Never before has there been such a transformation, with a despicable lowlife spy who sold out his country for money turned into a hero.
Pollard is just one symptom of the asymmetrical relationship that makes many mutter “wag the dog” whenever the subject of Israel comes up. If ever a foreign country has stuck its thumb in the eye of Uncle Sam, it is Israel in its willingness to take the United States for a ride while always demanding still more. And when it demands more it is invariably given more, with US politicians and mainstream media ever willing to genuflect and do what is right for the kleptocracy in charge in Tel Aviv.
The latest criminal outrage is a quartet of congressmen who are calling on the Obama Administration to free Pollard to “advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” Well, first of all, everyone knows that the talks are kabuki, designed to accomplish absolutely nothing while advancing the standing of Obama prior to the US congressional elections in November. Israel continues its creeping annexation of the West Bank aided and abetted by Washington, which will do nothing substantive to stop the illegal and immoral activity. Abbas presumably is being bought off to stay silent while the play unfolds and Hamas, which should be sitting at the table, has been excluded.
That means that the congressmen in question, who actually took an oath to uphold the US Constitution, know that they are doing nothing but throwing yet another bone to Israel. The congressmen are Barney Franks of Massachusetts, Edolphus Towns of New York, Anthony Weiner also of New York, and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey. Mark their names well. Franks and Weiner are presumably acting due to tribal solidarity, but Pascrell and Towns are the straight men in the routine, brought along to make the Free Pollard movement appear to be less than a complete ethnically based sell out.
It is time for the American people to rise up and throw these bums out. Putting them in jail for malfeasance and corruption would be even better. I would like to see a panel of USS Liberty survivors and widows and orphans of the dead intelligence officers question Franks, Weiner, Pascrell, and Towns about their plan to free Pollard. Better still, I would like to see some US veterans groups and their publications develop a backbone and take up the cause, finally saying that enough is enough since it is our soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have paid the price in their blood for the Israeli connection. And then there is the intelligence community. Its leading lobby, Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), has long ignored Israeli espionage and prefers to regularly express concern about “Islamofascism.” Look in your own backyard folks, it is the Israelis who are skinning us alive, not the Muslims, and Pollard is the poster child of what exactly is being done to us. He is sometimes cited as proof that spies for Israel are caught and punished, but the truth is that he is the only one who has done hard time in jail and only because of the enormity of his crime while all the others have somehow slipped through our criminal justice system. Franks, Weiner, Pascrell, and Towns are only the latest in a long line of collaborator politicians who should sometimes sit back and ponder where their loyalty actually lies. If they persist in their Pollard campaign, they should be regarded as not fit to sit in the congress of the United States. And that goes for anyone else who decides to lobby on behalf of Pollard.
An opportunity is coming in November to remove the snakes from Congress. Let’s organize to get rid of Franks, Weiner, Pascrell, and Towns. To be sure they will be replaced by others who are probably just as attached to Israel or fearful of its lobby as they are, but the time will inevitably come when allegiance to a foreign nation that is a strategic liability for the United States will become unseemly. May that day come soon.
Read more by Philip Giraldi
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
Israel First Democrats in US Congress urge Obama to release Pollard
Traitor Jonathan Pollard’s First Freedom Gambit
The Truth Will Set U.S. Free
Breaking Israel’s Stranglehold over American Foreign Policy
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
September 26, 2010 “Information Clearing House” – If Israel’s stranglehold over U.S. foreign policy is to be broken, Americans will need to be informed about the harm that Washington’s unconditional support for the Jewish state is doing to American interests, say leading analysts of U.S.-Israeli relations.
According to John J. Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, “The only plausible way to weaken the lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy is for prominent policymakers and opinion-makers to speak openly about the damage the special relationship is doing to the American national interest.”
“Plenty of people in the United States, especially inside the Beltway, know that Israel is an albatross around America’s neck,” says Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “But they are afraid to stand up and say that for fear that the lobby will attack them and damage their careers.”
“Hopefully, some of them will develop a backbone,” he adds.
Philip Giraldi, executive director of the Council for the National Interest, believes that Tel Aviv’s stranglehold over Washington can be broken “only by directly challenging the power of the Israel lobby and the false narrative about how it is of value to the United States.”
Giraldi, a contributing editor to The American Conservative, says that “it must be done from the bottom up as Israel cannot be challenged in the mainstream media, Congress, and in the White House.”
“The American people must learn that Israel is and always has been a strategic liability that has done immense damage to the United States and its worldwide interests,” concludes the former CIA officer.
If there is to be an end to Israel’s decades-long “sway over Congress and intimidating presidents,” says Jeffrey Blankfort, a prominent Jewish American critic of Israel and its American lobby, “it will require appeals and actions beginning on a local level that inform the American people not so much about what Israel has done to the Palestinians but what its unregistered agents in the U.S., euphemistically described as ‘lobbyists,’ have done to destroy what little is left of American democracy and the attendant costs in flesh and blood, as well as its tax dollars.”
A long-time pro-Palestinian activist noted for his trenchant critique of Noam Chomsky, Blankfort attributes the failure of such efforts to get off the ground to “the continued unwillingness of the leading figures of the Palestinian solidarity movement in the U.S. to acknowledge the invidious power of the Zionist Lobby,” who, following Chomsky’s anti-imperialist analysis, prefer to “place the primary responsibility for Israel’s crimes and U.S. Middle East policies at Washington’s doorstep.”
“So the first steps,” Blankfort suggests, “may be to publicly challenge these figures while at the same time moving past them and addressing the American people directly.”
No American President will ever have enough latitude to resolve the conflict in Palestine “unless and until enough Americans are informed enough to make their democracy work,” according to Alan Hart, former Middle East Chief Correspondent for Britain’s Independent Television News.
“In other words,” explains Hart, who was also a BBC Panorama presenter specializing in the Middle East, “if President Obama or any of his successors is ever going to be free to confront and defeat the Zionist lobby’s stooges in Congress and the mainstream media, there has got to be created a constituency of understanding about why it is not in America’s own best interests to go on supporting Zionism’s monster child right or wrong.”
The essence of the problem, Hart argues in the three-volume American edition of his book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is that “Americans have been conditioned, brainwashed, to believe a version of history, Zionism’s version, which is a pack of propaganda lies.”
Jeff Gates, former counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, believes that “transparency, accountability and better design” are required to break Israel’s hold on American foreign policy.
“At present, the American public is ignorant of Israel’s all-pervasive influence. Its control includes the media-enabled deployment of fixed intelligence to induce this nation to war for Greater Israel,” says Gates, author of Guilt By Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War.
“We will know that accountability is underway when we see federal grand juries convened to consider charges against Israel’s agents, assets and sayanim (volunteers). When a jury brings in the first verdict for treason, Americans will know that the rule of law is being restored. We will know that a solution is within sight when the many appendages of its lobby are required to register as foreign agents.”
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer based in Japan.
British plans to exit its citizens from the Persian Gulf in the event of a war with Iran
‘Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear sites if diplomacy fails’
Israel’s nuclear ambiguity
Australia: Iran nuclear ‘deterrent’
Israel rebuffs call to join NPT
British secret file confirms Israeli nukes
Italian PM Warns Israel May Nuke Iran
The Neocon Agenda (excerpt from Karen Kwiatkowski interview with Dr. Stephen Sniegoski):
If Israel attacks Iran it would be disastrous for the US
Neocons & their proxy politicians want Iran war next for Israel
Pro-Israel media bias threatening US security:
Following UK New Statesman blog entry about General Petraeus mentioned in above interview:
General Petraeus leaked emails about Israel
ISRAELI NUCLEAR THREATS AND BLACKMAIL
Excellent Press TV ‘The Isle’ broadcast for interview with Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu:
Israel’s Dimona Nuclear Weapons Factory In 3D (Vanunu mentioned):
We Live in Dark Times (coming war with Iran)
Obama’s Men (by Ray McGovern)
The Terrorism Fraud
Posted By Philip Giraldi On September 22, 2010 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 2 Comments
“Terrorism” has become the most abused word in the English language. The fear of terrorism has driven explosive growth in the United States government, has led to two wars in the past ten years with possibly several more waiting in the wings, and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. It consists of attacking a largely civilian population to demoralize it and reduce its willingness to resist either an aggressor or an occupying power. It has been used extensively in the twentieth century and so far into the twenty-first century because it is a force equalizer. It enables a resistance movement or a group seeking a change in government to attack a much larger and more powerful opponent. Because it has that ability to engage asymmetrically, one can expect that terror tactics will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future.
Fear of terrorism has been exploited by those who seek a hegemonistic role for the United States. To be sure, 9/11 was a horrific event and subsequent terror attacks in London, Madrid, Moscow, and Bombay were reminders that there will always be individuals and groups prepared to sacrifice their own lives to kill at random for a cause. But the horror of a terror attack should be placed in context and should not be allowed to justify actions on the part of government that are even more damaging in the long term. In the United States, that is precisely what has happened. Terrorism has been the justification for the two Patriot Acts and the Military Commissions Act that have gutted key parts of the Bill of Rights; the creation of an all-powerful unitary executive in the person of the US president; the exploitation of state-secrets privilege to cover-up government wrongdoing; and the evolution of a security state in which individual rights to privacy are constantly assailed by a government intent on collecting more and more information on each citizen.
Beyond that, terrorism was used to justify war with Iraq over completely bogus claims that Saddam Hussein had met with the 9/11 plotters. It is now being used to define Washington’s relationship with other countries. Some nations, like Sudan, have been branded state supporters of terrorism even though they do not in fact do so. Others are also indicted for their alleged relationship to terrorism to make a case for war. Iran is currently in the crosshairs, which is particularly ironic as it has itself been the victim of terrorist groups that are evidently supported by the United States, Israel, and Pakistan. Protection against terrorism has been used over the past ten years to justify every government abuse in a number of countries, not to mention the explosive growth of the budget busting defense and security industries worldwide.
As the America of Barack Obama continues to engage in and even expand the “long war” against much of the rest of the world that was launched by his predecessor, it is perhaps valuable to use the government’s own analysis to examine just how serious the terrorism problem really is. There have been numerous reports from military and intelligence sources in the war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan while the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 came out on August 10th. The latter examines country-by country the terrorism problem. It makes no effort to count terrorists and provides little analysis of their motives, but it is interesting in terms of its assessment of the lethality and reach of the various groups that it identifies and discusses. The truth is that not many of what the US government refers to as terrorist groups actually threaten the United States by any stretch of the imagination. Most groups employing terrorism limit their activities to attacking the government in their own countries or to resisting occupying powers, without any real international reach or the intention to threaten anyone outside their local orbit. The groups that have an international agenda and pretensions, and therefore might theoretically be able to threaten the United States, are a handful of so-called Salafists, to include al-Qaeda in Pakistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and al-Shabaab in Somalia. Salafists believe that their mission is to cleanse the entire Muslim world and recreate the universal Caliphate, meaning that their battlefield includes both Islamic countries and those foreign allies that support the corrupt regimes that they would like to overthrow.
The featured terrorist group that is regularly cited to create a case for military action or intervention is the al-Qaeda faction that is nominally headed by Osama bin Laden (who may be dead) and is located primarily in Pakistan. The US military and CIA in Afghanistan have made a major effort to collect information on the group and its activities. The military command and intelligence community estimate that there are 50 to 100 al-Qaeda possibly located in Afghanistan plus “several hundred” more in neighboring Pakistan. That’s all. And the threat they represent is tying down 100,000 American soldiers at a cost of $7 billion per month. If that makes sense to anyone, please help me with justifying the math.
The other Salafist groups are equally unlikely candidates for doing significant harm to the last great superpower, at least judging from the State Department report. It states that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) carried out four possible terrorist attacks directed against foreigners in 2009, “On December 25, Nigerian citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow himself up while on a flight into Detroit. Abdulmutallab admitted to having been trained by AQAP in Yemen. There were three other terrorist attacks against foreign interests: On March 15, four South Korean tourists were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Shibam in Hadramaut province. On March 18, a motorcade carrying South Korean government officials was attacked by a suicide bomber on the road to Sana’a International Airport. In June, nine foreigners were kidnapped in Sa’ada, resulting in three confirmed deaths. The remaining six were still missing at year’s end.” That’s it for a terrorist group that allegedly threatens the United States, and it should be noted that the reported kidnappings might have been carried out by local tribesmen seeking ransoms, not by the terrorist group. Also, the underwear bomber appears to have been sent on his mission after an airstrike killed two al-Qaeda supporters in Yemen, bringing to mind yet again the Ron Paul maxim that “they are over here because we are over there.”
In North Africa, the report reveals that the once feared al-Qaeda affiliate did not operate at all outside of the Maghreb region where it has had a presence in one form or another for eighteen years. During the year 2009 it killed twenty-seven people. Not to disparage the deaths in any way, that number has recently been exceeded a number of times in a single day in Iraq, including 31 dying in bombings last Sunday, where the United States recently announced another “mission accomplished.”
In the Horn of Africa, the State Department describes al-Shabaab as “a disparate group of armed militias, many of whom do not adhere to the ideology of the group’s leaders.” State goes on to concede that the group is linked to al-Qaeda only by “mutually supportive rhetoric.” In spite of some alarming recent media coverage in the US, al-Shabaab has its own problems in dealing with its local enemies and has not targeted the United States at all. Some US government officials and media talking heads have expressed concerns that Somali Americans who travel back to their country of birth to join al-Shabaab might return to the US to commit terrorist acts, but the actual threat is very much a “what if,” not an established fact.
That’s pretty much the international terrorism story, at least insofar as it actually relates to the United States. A few hundred malcontents and zealots, most of whom are on the run from the local authorities or hiding in caves, are more than a nuisance but they do not rise to the level of a serious threat. Few of them can even fantasize about blowing themselves up on the New York City subway system, assuming they could get a visa and make the trip, put together a working bomb from fertilizer, and find the Lexington Avenue line. The reader must decide if the terrorism “threat” justifies spending a trillion dollars a year while waging an unending war on multiple foreign battlefronts. And then there are all the American soldiers and local inhabitants who have to die in the process of making the homeland “safe” while the homeland itself becomes increasingly a draconian national security state. A return to sanity might be suggested as well as a bringing home of US forces from their 761 overseas bases to begin to reverse the enormous overreaction to a threat that, in reality, is not much of a threat at all.
Read more by Philip Giraldi
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com