Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama approves missile strikes in Pakistan

On the fourth day of Barack Obama’s presidency, he approved missiles strikes in Pakistan.

Déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would say, begging the question why more strikes if America voted for change? But this was the news in the UK’s Guardian, President orders air strikes on villages in tribal area. “Barak Obama gave the go-ahead for his first military action yesterday, missile strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan which killed at least 18 people.

“Four days after assuming the presidency, he was consulted by US commanders before they launched the two attacks. Although Obama has abandoned many of the ‘war on terror’ policies of George Bush while he was president, he is not retreating from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders.”

I guess he had to get his feet wet with blood to show the right he was no wuss on terror, something for everybody. But to say this act is impulsive and poorly thought out is an understatement given that he was consulted by US commanders. That’s it? What about the Congress, the people who voted for him? What about the longstanding suspicion Osama is dead of the deadly kidney disease he was treated for as early as August 2000 in a hospital in Dubai, where he was reputed to have met with his CIA handler, by then CIA station-chief Robert Baer, according to Baer’s his book, Sleeping With the Devil.

What about the highly thought of notion that Bin Laden was a patsy as were the Saudi hijackers and that that the strike on 9/11 was a false-flag operation to turn the West against the Muslim world in its New World Order hegemonic moronic quest for power? What’s more, if Bin Laden was so important, why was he taken off the FBI’s most wanted list awhile ago and George Bush said Osama was of no longer of interest to him.

And now the Guardian reports, “The US believes they [Al-Qaeda] are hiding in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, and made 30 strikes last year in which more than 200 people were killed. In the election, Obama hinted at increased operations in Pakistan, saying he thought Bush had made a mistake in switching to Iraq before completing the job against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Ah, and attacking Pakistan villages and killing villagers pell-mell will make it all right. Not.

And where is Obama’s backroom political advisor, Zbigniew Bzrezinsky, to remind everyone that he and the CIA set up Al-Qaeda (actually a file-name on Bin Laden’s laptop, meaning “the base”). Zbig and the Company financed, recruited, trained and armed Al Qaida to fight a jihad against the atheist Russians who had invaded Afghanistan in 1979, unsettling the US, which already considered the Middle East terrain a sphere of oil interest.

And, as expected, “The US marine corp commander said yesterday that his 22,000 troops should be redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan. Gen James Conway said ‘the time is right’ to leave Iraq now the war had become largely nation-building rather than the pitched fighting in which the corps excelled; he wanted the marines in Afghanistan, especially in the south where insurgents, and the Taliban and al-Qaida, benefit from both a nearby safe haven in Pakistan and a booming trade in narcotics.”

Well, Conway got the first half right that his 22,000 troops should be redeployed from Iraq. But not from a no-win conflict with Pakistan and Afghanistan, which conflict will serve to unify Muslim and Middle Eastern bad feelings and resources towards the US. The troops should be redeployed home, to America, to relieve them of the incredible burden they have been carrying and the numerous over-deployments and the massive incidence of brain injuries not to mention 4,000 plus deaths. What rabbit-hole did Obama stumble down, and so fast?

Only two days earlier George McGovern, former South Dakota Senator and Democratic nominee for president in 1972, wrote in an editorial in the Washington Post, and directed at President Obama, Calling a Time Out, “As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.

“True, the United States is the world’s greatest power — but so was the British Empire a century ago when it tried to pacify the warlords and tribes of Afghanistan, only to be forced out after excruciating losses. For that matter, the Soviet Union was also a superpower when it poured some 100,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1979. They limped home, broken and defeated, a decade later, having helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“It is logical to conclude that our massive military dominance and supposedly good motives should let us work our will in Afghanistan. But logic does not always prevail in South Asia. With belligerent Afghan warlords sitting atop each mountain glowering at one another, the one factor that could unite them is the invasion of their country by a foreign power, whether British, Russian or American.” This I’m sure went from McGovern’s mouth to God’s ear, bypassing Obama’s formidable ears.

McGovern, like a solid uncle, pointed out to Obama that he believed military power wasn’t really the answer to terrorism, but rather the Middle East’s resentment of US policies, the occupation in Iraq, backing repressive regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and, by gosh, our support of Israel (sorry, Mr. Emanuel and AIPAC). These factors, McGovern pointed out were the drivers of the terrorist impulse against the US and would be better resolved by concluding our military presence “throughout the arc of conflict,” which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Caspian Sea Basin, et al.

He also prudently advised that we need to close down the “imposing US military bases in this section of the globe, which do so little to expand our security and so much to stoke local resentment.” He reminded Obama again of the British failed efforts over Iraq, and even how our own “13 little colonies drove the mighty British Empire from American soil.” He reminded President Obama of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz estimating the total coast of Iraq as more than $3 trillion, and how it has weakened our economy, the armed forces and made our national debt soar. He pointed out to Obama how we’re teetering on the abyss here, and the last thing we need is another costly war.

He also said that like President Obama he didn’t oppose all wars. “I risked my life in World War II to protect our country against genuine danger,” wrote McGovern. “But it is the memory of my fellow airmen being shot out of the sky on all sides of me in a war we had to fight that makes me cautious about sending our youth into needless conflicts that weaken us at home and abroad, and may even weaken us in the eyes of God.” So, like Obama, McGovern is not just a former fighting man but a religious man as well.

He went on to a suggest something that was true change: “a five-year time-out on war — unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation.” He proposed that during that time we could work with the UN World Food Program and overseas churches, synagogues, mosques and volunteer agencies to provide a nutritious lunch every day for every school-age child in Afghanistan and other poor countries. He also mentioned we could add to these efforts nutritional packages for low-income pregnant and nursing mothers and their infants, birth through five, as we do in the US via WIC, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children. That said, ask yourself, don’t these ideas seem more in line with the kinds of solutions Obama talked about all through his campaign?

McGovern closed, “Is this proposal pie-in-the-sky? I don’t think so. It’s food in the stomachs of hungry kids. I would draw them to school and enable them to learn and grow into better citizens. It would cost a small fraction of warfare’s cost, but it might well be a stronger antidote to terrorism. There will always be time for another war. But hunger can’t wait.” Those are tough lines to follow, but worth a try for our own people as well as those of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It’s also interesting to remember as well that McGovern ran against Nixon, who sought a second term as president, after Nixon and his war criminal buddy Henry Kissinger sabotaged Johnson’s initial successes at a peace with the North Vietnamese in 1968. Additionally, George Wallace had also entered that 1972 race as an independent and could have possibly split the conservative Nixon vote, which would have given McGovern a good chance at victory.

Unfortunately, an assassination attempt on Wallace by another classic “lone gunman,” fair-haired 21-year old Arthur Bremer, effectively left Wallace paralyzed for life and wheeled out of the race. And, of course, the Vietnam War continued to its official end in 1973, with 58,000 Americans killed and some 2 million Vietnamese as well. So, what do we learn from this, Mr. Obama, that Mr. McGovern, war hero and private citizen knows so well?

Shall it be, as the Guardian story pointed out another flight to madness, “Obama has warned that he is prepared to bomb inside Pakistan if he gets relevant intelligence about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. He had also said he would act against militants along the border if the Pakistan government failed to.”

In fact, the US missiles were fired by the latest and not so greatest unmanned Predator drones, which hang in the sky gathering intelligence through surveillance and, when commanded and directed by remote control, launch attacks. How truly lovely this sounds, as the Dow dances into oblivion.

The Guardian also adds this piece of idiocy: “The strikes will help Obama portray himself as a leader who, though ready to shift the balance of American power towards diplomacy, is not afraid of military action.” Let me remind the Guardian, President Obama’s mandate was peace, change, reconstruction of the economy, not the continued destruction of Pakistan and us.

The 65 million Americans who voted for Obama take no pride in reports like this, “The first attack yesterday was on the village of Zharki, in Waziristan; three missiles destroyed two houses and killed 10 people. One villager told Reuters by phone that of nine bodies pulled from the rubble of one house, six were its owner and his relatives; Reuters added that intelligence officials said some foreign militants were also killed. A second attack hours later also in Warizistan killed eight people.”

This is why we rid ourselves of Bush, Cheney and their pack of killers. And this is why the American people and the world are now railing against the brutal overreactions of the Israeli military against Gaza, another issue President Obama was supposed to address to calm passions in the Middle East. But maybe he’s saving that for another day.

Nevertheless, the Guardian reports that, “The Pakistan government publicly expressed hope that the arrival of Obama would see a halt to such strikes, which stir up hostility from Pakistanis towards the government; in private, the government may be more relaxed about such attacks.” I wish them luck given what we’ve all seen so far of the US’s ability to tear a nation into pieces, including its own.

The Guardian concludes, “There is a lot of nervousness in the new administration about the fragility of Pakistan, particularly as it has nuclear weapons, but it also sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as being linked. In the face of Taliban resurgence, there is despair in Washington over the leadership of the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, and there will not be much disappointment if he is replaced in elections later this year.”

Ah well, didn’t the administration know about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons before they struck? It’s old news even for the slowest among us. What’s more, their despair should be that we put the puppet Karzai there in the first place, a former employee of the infamous California oil company, Unocal, to watch the would-be pipelines to be built through Afghanistan from the Caspian Basin and through Pakistan to the Indian ocean. Argh!

On a final déjà vu all over again, the Guardian laments, “But Washington insists on seeing as one of its biggest problems the ability of the Taliban and al-Qaida to maintain havens in Pakistan. Obama on Thursday announced he was making veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke a special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, spoke by phone to the Pakistan president, Asif Ali Zardari.” I’m sure Mr. Holbrooke will be able to confuse the situation even more, not to mention Mrs. Clinton by telephone.

It’s all really unbelievable! As a friend of my 19-year old son commented without the bat of an eye, “The more things change, the more they say the same.” Such prescience! This kid’s got a chance to make it in this Brave New Old World Order. I’m not sure about the rest of us. Maybe it’s just an Obama-aberration. Maybe it’s welcome to the future.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at read his new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 onat, Amazon or

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