Friday, May 6, 2011
"Our Guy Until He Wasn't:": ( 100 + Comments) & a better way (Kathy Kelly)
See Truthdig.com article called "A Monster of Our Own"
By Robert Scheer
He was our kind of guy until he wasn’t, an ally during the Cold War until he no longer served our purposes. The problem with Osama bin Laden was not that he was a fanatical holy warrior; we liked his kind just fine as long as the infidels he targeted were not us but Russians and the secular Afghans in power in Kabul whom the Soviets backed.
But when bin Laden turned against us, he morphed into a figure of evil incarnate, and now three decades after we first decided to use him and other imported Muslim zealots for our Cold War purposes, we feel cleansed by his death of any responsibility for his carnage. We may make mistakes but we are never in the wrong. USA! USA!
Kind of like when the CIA assigned the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro and the Mafiosi turned out to have their own agenda, or when Pentagon experts anointed the Catholic nutcase Ngo Dinh Diem as the George Washington of predominately Buddhist South Vietnam before they felt the need to execute him. A similar fate was suffered by Saddam Hussein, whose infamous Baghdad handshake with Donald Rumsfeld stamped him as our agent in the war to defeat the ayatollahs of Iran.
Awkward, I know, to point out that bin Laden was another of those monsters of our creation, one of those Muslim “freedom fighters” that President Ronald Reagan celebrated for having responded to the CIA’s call to kill the Soviets in Afghanistan. That holy crusade against infidels was financed by Saudi Arabia and armed with U.S. weapons to oppose a secular Afghan government with Soviet backing but before Soviet troops had crossed the border. In short, it was an ill-fated and unjustifiable intervention by the U.S. into another nation’s internal affairs.
Don’t trust me on this one. Just read the 1996 memoir by former Carter administration security official and current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a book touted by its publisher as exposing “Carter’s never-before-revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen—six months before the Soviets invaded.” This dismissal of the claimed Cold War excuse for the backing of the mujahedeen was acknowledged by President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, when asked by the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur if he regretted “having given arms and advice to future terrorists,” answered that he did not: “What is most important to the history of the world? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”
That was said three years before some of those “stirred-up Muslims” like bin Laden and the alleged 9/11 plot mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—whom bin Laden financed, and whom he first met in Afghanistan when both were U.S.-backed fighters—launched their deadly attacks on the United States. The cost of the American response to that assault has spiraled upward for a decade. A defense budget that the first President Bush had attempted to cut drastically because the Cold War was over was pushed to its highest peacetime level by the second President Bush and now with three wars under way equals the military expenditures of all of the world’s other nations combined.
But while Libya and Iraq have oil to exploit, what will be the argument for continuing the interminable war in Afghanistan now that bin Laden is gone? White House national security experts had already conceded that there were fewer than a hundred scattered al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan, and that these were incapable of mounting anti-U.S. attacks. Clearly, what remains of al-Qaida is no longer based in Afghanistan, as the location of bin Laden’s hiding place, in a military hub in Pakistan, demonstrated. Nor is there any indication that the Taliban we are fighting in Afghanistan are anything but homegrown fighters with motives and leadership far removed from the designs of the late bin Laden.
It is time to concede that the mess that is Afghanistan is a result of our cynical uses of those people and their land for purposes that have nothing to do with their needs or aspirations. Even if bin Laden had been killed in some forlorn cave in Afghanistan, it would not have made the case that he was using that country as a base. But the fact that he was in an area amply populated by the very Pakistani military and intelligence forces that we have armed, and that should have been able to easily nab him, gives the lie to the claim that Afghanistan is vital territory to be secured in what two administrations have now chosen to define as the war on terrorism.
A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.vvCopyright © 2011 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
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An alternative approach to revenge:
5/2/11 - Beyond Retaliation
Kathy Kelly - one original posting was at CommonDreams.org
This morning, a reporter called to talk about the news that the U.S. has killed Osama bin Laden. Referring to throngs of young people celebrating outside the White House, the reporter asked what Voices would say if we had a chance to speak with those young people.
We'd want to tell them about a group of people who, in November of 2001, walked from Washington, D.C. to New York City carrying a banner that said, "Our Grief is not a Cry for War." Several of the walkers were people who had lost their loved ones in the attacks on 9/11. When the walk ended, they formed a group called "Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" to continually represent the belief that our security is not founded in violence and revenge.
Often, during that walk, participants were asked what we'd suggest as an alternative to invading Afghanistan. One response was that the U.S. and other countries could enact a criminal investigation and rely on police work and intelligence *** to apprehend the perpetrators of the attack. As it turns out, the U.S. discovered where Osama bin Laden was through those means and not through warfare. How have the past ten years of aerial bombardments, night raids, death squads, assassinations and drone attacks in Afghanistan benefited the U.S. people? Did the carnage and bloodshed bring the U.S. closer to discovering the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden? Have we defeated terrorism or created greater, deeper hatred toward the U.S.?
In the past, President Obama has said that "we stand on the shoulders of giants like Dr. King, yet our future progress will depend on how we prepare our next generation of leaders" (Jan. 18, 2010). In a historic speech, "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence", King said: "We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate."
In that same speech, King called for a neighborliness that goes beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation. We think of that call in light of experiences of a 2010 Voices delegation that visited a rural village in the central highlands of Afghanistan. They sat with women who were close in age to the young people who were celebrating outside of the White House last night. Asked if they had ever heard of a time when a large passenger plane had crashed into a tall building in the United States, the young women were puzzled. They had never heard of 9/11.
They live in a country where 850 children die every day, a country which the UN has termed the worst country in the world into which a child can be born, where the average life expectancy is 42 years of age. The UN says that 7.4 million Afghans live with hunger and fear of starvation, while millions more rely on food help, and one in five children die before the age of five. Each week, the U.S. taxpayers spend two billion dollars to continue the war in Afghanistan.
Matt Daloisio, who co-coordinates the Witness Against Torture Campaign, sounded a note that we find far more authentic than triumphal celebration.
"10 years," Matt wrote. "Over 6000 US Soldiers killed. Trillions of Dollars wasted. Hundreds of thousands of civilians killed. Tens of thousands imprisoned. Torture as part of foreign policy. And we are supposed to celebrate the murder of one person? I am not excited. I am not happy. I remain profoundly sad."
Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy Kelly's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Kathy Kelly and Voices for Creative Nonviolence have been leaders in protesting the use of drones for years now. Other peace activists - such as Cindy Sheehan - have been following in their footsteps.
*** I want to add to Kelly's suggestion of an alternative that such intelligence and police work, IMHO, would need to be lawful, constitutional, and humane and without occupation or permission from another sovereign land. (Connie)
Posted by CN at 4:00 PM