Posts Tagged ‘Perpetual War’

Whatever happened to bin Laden?

CNN | Mar 3, 2010

Osama bin Laden – remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?

Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar,  the killing of two key Taliban commanders  and an increase in drone attacks.

But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon.

“No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban.”

Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he’s [bin Laden] protected by the ISI,” Tanner says.

Tanner says that rogue elements within the ISI – if not the Pakistani government – may be using bin Laden as a “trump card” to exert leverage over the United States. Tanner says that Pakistani leaders are concerned that the U.S. will draw closer to India, Pakistan’s chief rival.

Flashing the bin Laden trump card will insure that the U.S. will continue to send aid to Pakistan because it considers it a bulwark against radical Islam, Tanner says. Without the bin Laden trump card, though, Pakistan would be in danger of being abandoned by the U.S., Tanner says.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner says. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Even if the U.S. draws a bead on bin Laden, he won’t be captured alive, says Thomas Mockatis, author of, “Osama bin Laden: A Biography.”

Mockatis says bin Laden has bodyguards who are tasked with shooting him if his capture seems imminent.

“Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

NYTimes:

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.

Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. “He’s our landlord,” a senior American official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

To some, Obama appears to be anti missile “defense” at the moment …putting new people in charge of that program in the military …out-going general seemingly confrontational. Etc. Obama says he supports missile defense, but not if “unproven”. So some interpret that as if he doesn’t support it, that’s his way of taking a soft stance to sway republican voters, or something.

The Obama transition promptly issued a rebuttal: “President-elect Obama made no commitment on it. His position is as it was throughout the campaign — that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”

But I take it as his way of honestly supporting it, but talking soft so that he doesn’t sound like McCain (like pretty much everything else). So I guess we’ll see how he handles it…

In the meantime the out-going general is pointing out that Obama’s rhetoric seems tuned to year 2000 technical status (meaning it needed lots of work still), and that they’ve gotten it together. So he’s all over the transition team telling them how great the program is.

The anti-missile defense system — which preliminary tests have shown is capable of shooting down ballistic missiles — “is workable,” Obering, who heads the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters by teleconference.

“Our testing has shown not only can we hit a bullet with a bullet, we can hit a spot on a bullet with a bullet,” the lieutenant general added.

Meanwhile, Russia has threatened to attack Poland if the missile sites are built, and even placed nuclear attack on the table. Some people say screw Russia.

I ask you to think of a Godzilla type movie where there are mobs of people frantically running down the streets pulling out their hair in panic and terror. That’s how “Americans” would respond if Russia were building missile sites on the borders of Canada & Mexico.

Yet the missile interceptors wouldn’t stop much. And notions that Iran would even fire on Europe are mere paranoid speculation. Talk about ‘conspiracy theorists’, or are they? I say no.

It’s all about aggravating a New Cold War with Russia, China and whoever else wants to get in on it. The US is a permanent war economy, with imperial posture. The end of the original Cold War was in fact a bad thing for the Military Industrial Complex,  and the Ruling Elite disaster capitalists whose stock portfolios are tuned to reap the benefits of catastrophes and never ending wars. The war against “new Hitlers” (Saddam), and then the War on Terror were meant to fill a void.

The end of the Cold War created a vacuum that was filled immediately by Hussein, and then the other ‘new Hitler’ Milosevic. Problem was, those sorts of conflict don’t exactly cause a ‘need’ to have something like 800 military bases overseas, and a $500+ billion military budget. 9/11 was all too convenient in hammering a new never-ending war into the minds of the populace. But sure enough the missile defense New Cold War contingency also went into overdrive at this time. It wasn’t enough that the US had-has various military bases in a better part of the nations surrounding both China & Russia.

Now that people are waking up to the lunacy and absurdity of this notion of a ‘Global War on Terror’ being fantastical delusion at best (considering the fact that US bases protecting dictatorships in Muslim nations is what ultimately drives them to become terrorists), here comes the New Cold War to fill that void. But maybe Obama might surprise, you say? Not likely, he says he supports it (if “workable”) and the facilities in question aren’t even supposed to be fully operational until something like 2011. So even if the systems weren’t “workable” at the moment, in 2+ years times you should be able to count on that.

RAWSTORY:

The Pentagon said it was prepared to begin briefing the president-elect’s team immediately, stressing the importance of a smooth wartime transition, as the US voted for a new president Tuesday.

“If somebody were to show up here tomorrow, we would start working with them tomorrow,” said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

Changes of US administrations historically are periods of heightened risk, but wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an ever present danger of attack by Al-Qaeda make an orderly transition crucial this year.

Whitman said Defense Secretary Robert Gates has undertaken “pretty unprecedented early preparations to minimize disruption while ensuring we provide the most comprehensive guidance possible.”

A Pentagon task force has identified and is highlighting the most important events, milestones and actions that the new administration will face in the first 90 days, he said.

Among them are troop rotations and the presentation of the 2010 defense budget, which is due to go to Congress in February, just weeks after the new president — Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama — moves into the White House. The others were not disclosed.

“Obviously, they (the incoming administration) will give immediate attention to whatever it is they want to, whatever their priorities are,” Whitman said.

“But there are some things that in the natural course of this department have to be addressed, like the budget, or you’re not going to have money,” he said.

Work space and computers have been set aside in the Pentagon for as many as two dozen people assigned by the new president to manage the transition.

Transition team members must receive security clearances, but Whitman said that can be done quickly for at least small numbers of people that typically make up the initial teams.

There are at least 215 political appointees at the Pentagon who will be replaced in the transition.

About 50 are presidentially appointed positions that require Senate confirmation, which can move slowly.

Gates has polled members of the outgoing team to see who would be prepared to stay on in a new administration until their replacement can be confirmed.

A number of them have agreed to stay on, if asked, but other key positions are already vacant.

Read the report by the ISAB Task Force on China’s Strategic Modernization (downloads PDF)

Danger Room (snippet):

A new report about U.S. military relations with China has just emerged from a State Department Advisory Board. And not only is it all kinds of hawkish. But the paper comes at the same time that we’re loading up Taiwan’s arsenal.

The Washington Times describes the paper here. Hans Kristensen at the Federation of American Scientists excoriates it here. But two telling passages need highlighting. First: “In addition to improving the ability to defend U.S. force capabilities targeted by the Chinese, the United States should focus R&D on high technology military capabilities not included in China’s military plans — military systems that will demonstrate to Beijing that trying to get ahead of the United States is futile (much the way [the Star Wars missile defense program] did against the Soviet Union).”

And second: “Washington should also make clear that it will not accept a mutual vulnerability relationship with China — something Beijing seeks through its expansion of offensive nuclear capabilities. To avoid the emerging creep toward a Chinese assured destruction capability, the United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities, including taking full advantage of space.”

Washington Times (snippets):

“Using superior U.S. military technical capacities, the United States should undertake the development of new weapons, sensors, communications, and other programs and tactics to convince China that it will not be able to overcome the U.S. militarily,” the report said.

The draft report said China’s “major objective is to counter U.S. presence and U.S. military capabilities in East Asia through the acquisition of offensive capacities in critical functional areas that systematically exploit U.S. vulnerabilities.” It said the buildup involves capabilities for “asymmetric warfare,” such as space and computer weapons, that could help Chinese forces defeat a stronger U.S. military.

Among the areas of U.S. strategic vulnerability identified in the report are gaps in U.S. missile defenses; dependence on space for communications; the U.S. inability to use force against China except through aircraft carrier groups; and “fragile electronics and the Internet.” The report recommends that the United States acquire new offensive space and cyber warfare capabilities and missile defenses as well as “more robust sea- and space-based capabilities” to deter any crisis over Taiwan.

China currently has about 20 missiles capable of reaching the United States but is projected to have more than 100 nuclear missiles, some likely with multiple warheads, by 2015, the report said.

Among the key findings:

• Continued rapid economic growth of 10 percent a year is “vital” for China to continue to compete with the United States and achieve its main goals of regime survival and regional dominance.

• China’s industrial and defense espionage is aimed at obtaining advanced technology for economic and military modernization.

• The scale, scope and speed of China’s rise fundamentally impacts U.S. national security, yet the U.S. “possesses only a limited understanding of Chinese intentions, and how Beijing’s economic and military expansion affects these interests.”

• China’s military and civilian leaders are not always on the same page and that separation is a potential “focal point” for mitigating hostility. China’s civilian leaders understand Americans but the Chinese military suffers from “clear paranoia and misperceptions” about U.S. intentions.

• To avoid an “emerging creep” by China toward strategic nuclear coercion, “the United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities, including taking full advantage of space,” the report said.

On China’s expansion after centuries as a regional power, the ISAB report stated that: “In China’s view, Taiwan is the key to breakout: If China is to become a global power, the first step must include control of this island.” Taking over the island would allow China to control the seas near its coasts and to project power eastward, the report said.

China views Taiwan, where nationalist forces fled from the mainland in 1949, as central to “the legitimacy of the regime and key to power projection,” the report said. Taiwan also is seen by China as a way to deny the United States a key ally in “a highly strategic location” of the western Pacific, the report said.