Tag Archive | "terrorism"

Our world beyond 9/11

A teardrop of water fell from the ceiling sky landing in the ceremonial pool below slowly sending ripples and rings outward to the installation’s coping. Eleven Tears is a memorial work of art to 9/11 victims at the World Financial Center building overlooking the ongoing One World Trade Center construction site. On Sunday, May Day, I visited Ground Zero for the first time. It was a somber pilgrimage—and little did I realize—while there, the attack on Osama Bin Laden’s compound was taking place.

Like for so many others, 9/11 had been a life shattering, and ultimately, life transforming event for me—hearing of Bin Laden’s death brought up conflicting emotions of elation and sadness. All the trauma and travail of the last ten years came rushing forward. A sudden attack on home soil, 3000 dead, the absolute determined brutality of the hijackers—being rid of the individual who inspired multiple acts of mass murder was a relief—but how could the healing begin?

9/11 fundamentally changed our way of life, the way we travel, it instigated wars leading to hundreds of thousands of dead, wounded, displaced; we’ve wiretapped without warrant, tortured, and sent the drones in. Protected civil liberties have been sacrificed for security.

The war on terror has brought our nation to an existential precipice upon which we stare down into an abyss of overreaching militarism and secrecy—both enemies of republican democracy—which would forever be left behind should we now succumb to the gravity of fear.

With the leader of Al Qaeda now dead, we have come to a crossroads in which our nation’s larger priorities can, and should be, examined.

Deep Security embodies a philosophical and political shape-shift from a classic Newtonian and mechanistic view of the world, to the deeper universe of the Quanta, where the impossible not only becomes possible, but probable; it morphs the politic of leading from the center, left, or right, toward leading from below. It pops a third dimension into what currently is a very two-dimensional political world.

Read the whole article.

Posted in News

Are Mexico drug cartels terrorist?

El Universal urges the government of Mexico to request the UN to label the cartels as terrorists. (Translated by Borderland Beat)

The attacks that have been executed by the criminal groups in Mexico against the authorities and the civilian population would be the very definition of terrorism that the United Nations put forth during one of its international conventions.

“The definition establishes that these are acts of physical or psychological violence against the civilian population that is meant to cause a regime change. Los Zetas and other groups are trying to change the structure within the Mexican state in order to put their own people in power,” said Eduardo Buscaglia.

The deliberate targeting of non-combatants for death and injury is a primary component in the definition of terrorism so, by most any criteria, the cartels are terrorist.

Posted in News

Journalism is not an Attack, Wikileaks is not Warfare

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on Firedoglake or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Wikileaks is under attack!

Journalists and politicians are calling for the criminalization of Wikileaks, or worse, the assassination of its members. The US government is coercing companies into blocking access to Wikileaks, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is normally very strong on internet freedom, has been forced to “evolve” her positions.

If you’re a supporter of Wikileaks, or even a relatively dispassionate observer, you likely find these actions to be offensive, or even downright criminal. How dare the US move so arrogantly, so aggressively, against Wikileaks for what seems to be nothing more than the second coming of the Pentagon Papers? We believe in free speech, in transparency and accountability for our government. It’s outrageous that Washington would move so decisively to crush a project like Wikileaks.

But are Wikileaks’ supporters actually feeding this response from the government? In our rush to rationalize and defend Wikileaks and their actions, have we inadvertently opened the door to attacks by the US government?

The answer can be found in how we’ve chosen to frame the debate so far. Continue Reading

Posted in Anti-war, Blogging, Government spying

Homeland Security and Walmart join on national informer’s campaign

The U.S. Homeland Security Department said Monday its “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign has been expanded to Walmart stores across the country” after starting in the New York City MTA. Imagine my excitement.

Dale Sommers just said on his Roaddog Trucking talk show (Sirius 147), it’s guaranteed someone will be walking down the street, ask a 7 yo girl for directions, then someone will decide he could be a terrorist or pedophile and report him, where he will languish in detention for a while.

He also said asking Walmart customers to be alert for terrorism is dumb because most of them (and us) have no idea what to look for and have no training.

He calls himself “The Truckin’ Bozo” but is anything but. This is also true of most of the talk shows on Road Dog Trucking, high quality and intelligent. Seriously.

I’m undecided as the whether this is just another HSA overkill clusterfuck or a deliberate attempt to scare, intimidate, and monitor us. However, since one should “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity,” I’ll go with the clusterfuck.

This plan is really quite condescending, isn’t it? Like most of us don’t already have the smarts to call authorities if we spotted some genuinely suspicious? I would. I bet you would too. Besides, if HSA genuinely wants help from the citizenry, it should tell us what to look for.

Posted in News

It’s the occupation, stupid

Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.

The researchers examined over 2,200 suicide attacks from 1980 until now across the world. Even more telling, their research shows that when the occupations end, so does the terrorism.

End the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now!

Posted in Anti-war

Propaganda of the Deed

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post attempts to rewrite history:

Since the days of Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, radicals have talked of the “propaganda of the deed” — the use of dramatic, usually violent, acts to inspire the masses and topple the existing order. The method — targeting symbolic landmarks to create powerful images — is now familiar. The killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The first World Trade Center attack. The Oklahoma City bombing. And 9/11 itself.

In one short paragraph he ties anarchism to just about every major terrorist attack in history. This will, of course, be read by millions of people who will never give it a second thought, but is it true?

Interestingly the phrase “propaganda of the deed” has often been attributed to Bakunin, but it appears nowhere in his writings and appears in anarchist literature only after his death. We do find the phrase used once in a letter Bakunin wrote in 1873 to his comrades in the Jura Federation, an organization of workers and anarchists that argued for direct action: “I am convinced that the time of grand theoretical discourse, written or spoken, is past,” Bakunin wrote:

“Over the last nine years, the international has developed more than enough ideas to save the world–if ideas alone can save the world–and I defy anyone to invent a new one. It is no longer the time for ideas but for deeds and acts.”

What were these deeds and acts to consist of? Not terrorism or violence, but “the organization of the forces of the proletariat.” Subsequent anarchists such as Errico Malatesta, Paul Brousse, and Peter Kropotkin built on Bakunin’s argument that action, not theory, was needed, and developed the doctrine of propaganda by the deed. Their argument was that workers and peasants would not be convinced by words, for they did not have the time to read and  so needed practical proof that revolt was possible. Propaganda by the deed meant demonstrations, burning of deeds, titles, and mortgages and other forms of collective action extending even to insurrections. Only later did it denigrate into terrorism and assassination, and by then it bore no resemblance to Bakunin’s tactic. For him, propaganda by the deed could be a bridge between theory and practice, between intellectuals on the one hand and workers and peasants on the other, for it provided concrete examples of how to organize and fight.

Posted in Socialism

Pakistan: Diplomacy vs Giving It All Away

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

How are we going to deal with Pakistan when they’re openly flaunting their proxy war against the United States? How should we respond when they say stuff like “we know where the [Taliban] shadow government is”? Or this:

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” said a Pakistani security official, who, like numerous people interviewed about the operation, spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians.

Again, “we protect the Taliban.” Pakistan protects the Taliban. That’s in addition to them training and equipping various Taliban militias and even funding suicide attacks and IEDs against American troops. We, as in you the American tax payer, give Pakistan billions of dollars in aid and weaponry, including directly reimbursing them for their army operations (down to paying for the bullets fired). And yet they’re killing our troops and protecting insurgents/terrorists.

Our relationship with Pakistan is deeply, deeply flawed. How do we fix this?

Spencer Ackerman suggests diplomacy, and I wholeheartedly agree. The American people are howling at the gates of congress to end these trillion dollar, decade-long wars of occupation and aggression, and there is simply no conceivable military solution to any of our problems – whether that’s Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, or even Iran. Diplomacy has to be the way to go.

Ackerman helpfully gives us his “opening gambit,” his desired/hypothetical US response to the Pakistani statement above about protecting the Taliban. Here’s his complete “diplomacy” statement:

An envoy from the administration needs to say: We’re on board with that sentiment 100 percent! Pakistan should under no circumstances be cut out of a deal. We’re happy to see that you guys talk to Hamid Karzai’s government now without the binding mechanism of our trilateral summitry. Believe us, we want you doing that, because it should convince you that Pakistan has an interlocutor in Karzai, not an obstacle to Pakistani interests in a post-conflict Afghanistan.

Look, we get it: you sponsor the Taliban because you want strategic depth on your eastern border. You can get that from Karzai; and we’re here to help you get it! Pakistan can have a role in South Asia commensurate with the great power that it is!

And because we’re so sincere about that, we want you involved in the peace talks in a very specific way. We want you to deliver the Taliban and the Haqqanis to the table, under whatever circumstances of amnesty work for you. Then we want you to guarantee that in a post-war Afghanistan, they’re not backsliding on their commitments to backsliding on al-Qaeda. We’re going to put that on you. Look at that: you get an important role in Afghanistan, and it allows us to bring the war to a steady conclusion on mutually-agreeable terms. You win, we win, Karzai wins, the Taliban… kind of win (yeah, we said it), our mutual enemies in al-Qaeda (and the Pak Taliban!) lose. Now who wants flood relief?

Oh, and in case we need to say it: if we start seeing al-Qaeda slipping back into the country, it’s wrath-of-God time.

“We’re on board 100 percent!” Boy, that should really scare the hell out of the Pakistanis. Ackerman, for whatever reason, seems to interpret “diplomacy” as “giving Pakistan everything it could possibly want.” This is incorrect. In negotiations, you start with the extreme of what you want, and then negotiate down to something like a compromise. Ackerman has done exactly the opposite.

Let’s take the statement line by line. Continue Reading

Posted in Anti-war

America’s Broken Response to Pakistan

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

The scale of Pakistan’s flooding disaster is beyond imagination:

More people have been affected by Pakistan’s catastrophic floods than any other natural disaster on record — over 20 million and counting. That’s more than were affected by the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and this year’s earthquake in Haiti combined.  As millions of dislocated Pakistanis search for shelter and food and as health conditions deteriorate and disease spreads, the need for an immediate, large-scale humanitarian response is urgent.  And this is just the beginning.  Once the floodwaters subside from Pakistan’s swollen rivers, the task of rebuilding will be staggering – with a price tag in the billions, and lasting for years to come.

From a humanitarian standpoint, the disaster should be a fierce call to action like nothing else in our lifetime. But that’s not the primary US concern in foreign policy, is it? Charity and human decency are great, but we care about terrorism, security, and American dominance:

The effectiveness of the response to these relief and rebuilding challenges will have serious implications for the wellbeing of the country’s citizens, for the peace and stability of Pakistan and the entire South Asian region, and for U.S. national security.

There’s no way around it, this is a national security issue for the United States. Galrahn explains over at Information Dissemination:

There is a long history of natural disaster playing a significant role in the global security condition, or influencing war, or having a significant and generational impact on nations. When considering the scope and geography of this disaster, it would be difficult to suggest that the monsoon floods of 2010 won’t have a huge impact on the security of Pakistan, or a significant impact in influencing the war in Afghanistan, or a huge generational impact on Pakistan. […]

Pakistani people know the United States unmanned drone very well thanks to their newspapers and our actions in that country against Al Qaeda and affiliates. Here is a chance to put a positive visible symbol of US power over Pakistan at a time the need far exceeds local capacity – and we can’t do it why?

Actually, we know why we can’t do it. We’ve known for years. Continue Reading

Posted in Anti-war

General Kayani’s “Silent Coup” in Pakistan: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Pakistan’s General Kayani, the man our leaders in Washington fawn over and who sits atop the intensely destabilizing “Strategic Depth” networks in Afghanistan, has just been handed a three year extension of his term as Chief of Army Staff by Prime Minister Gilani:

The Pakistani government on Thursday gave the country’s top military official, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, another three years in his post, a move that analysts said would bolster Pakistan’s anti-terrorism fight and cement its role in neighboring Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the extension in a late-night televised address to the nation. “To ensure the success of these [counter-terrorism] operations, it is the need of the hour that the continuity of military leadership should be maintained,” he said.

The impact on our war in Afghanistan is obvious, as both McClatchy and I included it in the lede; Call it “strategic depth” or “cementing its role,” it all adds up to influence on Afghan President Karzai’s government, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qa’eda, and the future of all of these players in Afghanistan.

The short of it is that Kayani’s extension is bad news for us, due to his cozy relationship with militants and terrorist organizations, as well as his undermining of the democratically elected civilian government. But the details are important, especially as they could mean the difference between uncontrolled escalation and our planned military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

For the complete picture, we’ll take a look at what a few experts (read: bloggers) are saying to determine the good, the bad, and the ugly ramifications Kayani’s extension has on the US war in Afghanistan. Continue Reading

Posted in Anti-war

Individual acts and the collapse of Pakistan

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Earlier this week, I wrote about an impending civil war in Pakistan, projecting a possible “complete collapse of Pakistan as a recognizable entity,” referring not to its geography (it has survived breakaway provinces before, with national identities still intact) but rather to its structure as a modern, democratic society.  Some readers were understandably skeptical.

Beyond the violence and anti-Americanism we see in western press, Pakistan is actually very recognizable to us as foreigners. They have powerful military and civil society institutions much like the West, but it’s also Pakistan’s fervent patriotic pride, their struggles with women’s and minority rights, and their constant battle between secular progressives and conservative fundamentalists that will be instantly familiar to any American. Far from the alien, failed state portrayed on television, Pakistan is a vibrant cosmopolitan society dealing with the same grand cultural questions as the United States, or most other countries for that matter.

So how then do you get from that to the complete collapse? How could their painstakingly constructed democracy just disintegrate away, and how could their powerful, western-backed military fail so miserably to protect the nation in the face of what seems only to be illiterate, fascist hill people and their sickeningly backward superstitions?

The problem is not only one of perception, that we take both the Pakistan we love (liberal, educated patriots) and the Pakistan we hate (wicked, violent Taliban) for granted – always there, never changing. But more than that, Pakistan’s uncertain future is the direct result of deliberate policy choices, by the United States, Pakistan, and certainly many others. The collapse will not be sudden and spectacular, it will be the slow culmination of years, decades, of decisions and policy actions, both large and small, from the enormously important to the pathetically insignificant. Continue Reading

Posted in Anti-war


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