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.

This same critique applies directly to McCain as well. Note the last paragraph / sentence:

Miami Examiner:

During the first Presidential debate in Mississippi Senator Obama claimed that “…al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001.” By what measures has the Senator come to this conclusion? Let’s look at this question.

The terrorist organization has been unable to launch a single terrorist attack in the United States in seven years. But that doesn’t tell the entire story. Prior to 9/11, al Qaeda had ties to the previous 1993 bombing of the WTC (it is arguable whether al Qaeda was directly involved with that attack or came together with the perpetrators later, although I think they were already closely connected). It took al Qaeda eight years to launch another attack of that scale. This is an indication of the patience of its’ leaders and we can’t say the threat is gone. But we can certainly conclude it is diminished simply by the fact that the US has killed or captured dozens of al Qaeda leaders and international cooperation against these terrorist network increased greatly.

The threat of another large scale al Qaeda attack in the US is low, but not for lack of desire. Although the next attack will probably be of a much smaller scale, one or two men can still do a lot of damage. However, the threat to mainland US is decreased not increased as Obama asserts.

But what about the threat against US overseas interests and our allies? The threat there is much greater than at home right now. But even there that threat has been reduced, not strengthened.

We just came out of several years in Iraq with al Qaeda terrorists attacking US forces with some impunity because it was very difficult to identify and target them as they blended in with their Iraqi supporters. The flipping of the Sunni tribes to our side left al Qaeda fighters exposed and they have been mostly dealt with. Although the threat is still high in Iraq al Qaeda suffered a horrendous defeat at the hands of coalition forces.

The psychological impact of this defeat cannot be measured but it cannot be ignored either. Al Qaeda gained strength in the early 90’s by claiming credit (where none was deserved) for driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan and helping to bring about the dissolution of the USSR (that credit goes mostly to the native Afghani fighters not Arab interlopers).

But people love even a perceived winner. Al Qaeda ranks swelled with young jihadis in Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan. In the 90’s it sent fighters to Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Horn of Africa, Asia and established sophisticated cells in Europe and the United States.

The 1990’s was al Qaeda’s peak. Obama’s assertion that they are stronger now is pure fantasy. The loss in Iraq has substantially reduced the number of young Muslim men willing to ‘go to jihad’. It has handed al Qaeda a political, strategic, and public relations disaster. Former jihadis and even religious leaders in Saudi Arabia now decry al Qaeda.

The real damage to al Qaeda is evident when you consider its’ desired endstate. Al Qaeda wants to emulate the Shia revolution in Iran. It wants a caliphate established across the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Northern Africa. To start with, it needed to establish an Islamic state to stage and prepare for war and drive Western powers out. In fact, they got the opposite. Al Qaeda lost the Islamic state it held in Afghanistan (or rather the Taliban held as a close ally) and the West is far more involved in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa than it has ever been.

Some claim that what al Qaeda lost in Afghanistan it regained in Pakistan – thus the resurgent myth. But al Qaeda already had a strong presence in the frontier areas of Pakistan before 9/11. It staged in those areas while fighting the Soviets just as it and the Taliban are doing now. There were already training facilities and sympathetic madrassas in the frontier region. Al Qaeda has experienced a vast net-loss in territory and influence by losing Afghanistan.

Of course, al Qaeda does have a presence still in the border regions. Along with the Taliban, it is launching successful attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan. But a large measure of that increase in activity is because NATO and Afghani forces are now pushing into regions that were left to Taliban control up until 2006. Instead of waiting for them to come down from the hills the coalition is going into the hills to find Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in their lairs.

Add to that the stepped up drone activity in the border area and the loss in Iraq, al Qaeda has been dramatically reigned in from a global territory perspective. Last year it turned its’ focus on securing its’ last sanctuary in Pakistan. This is why al Qaeda and the Taliban assassinated Bhutto. To stop the alignment of the Democratic forces of Pakistan with the military dictatorship of Musharref, which was a US driven initiative that failed, but had a positive outcome none the less. Some will ask how a positive outcome can come out of the death of Bhutto, but I would inform them that Bhutto created the Taliban in the first place (something the media likes to keep hidden) so my sympathy is low.

Ultimately, events have driven Musharref from office in what was seen as a defeat for US foreign policy. In his place, Bhutto’s widower has become the power man. Many saw this as a disaster as he was viewed as being weak against the extremists in the frontier regions.

As soon as his party took power in Pakistan it started negotiating with the Taliban. Many shook their heads at a new policy of appeasement that failed miserably the last time it was tried by Musharref in 2005. Observers had good reason to be doubtful. The peace accords under Musharref had allowed the Taliban to fester for another two years until Musharref began a military offensive against them in 2007. He did some damage to them by driving them from the Swat Valley, but not much. Then Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower replaced a disgraced Musharref as President last month.

When Zardari’s party started to negotiate with the Taliban I counseled caution to the nay-sayers. In my view, any new Pakistan government would first have to legitimize combat operations by attempting to negotiate first. I think that this man whose own wife was murdered by al Qaeda allied Taliban would understand that he must eliminate them but he would first have to legitimize the fight to a population that is generally sympathetic to the Taliban (although that sympathy plummeted with the assassination of Bhutto as I predicted at the time).

Which brings us to the present. The new government of Pakistan has been fighting sporadically with al Qaeda and allied Taliban tribes all summer although media coverage has been low. Now it appears, Zardari must feel he has legitimized a broader war because he has increased offensive operations according to recent reporting. Strategy Page has an interesting assessment.

According to Strategy Page the Pakistan military is taking the fight to the Taliban in the frontier region. Strategy Page claims that a large Pakistani force has identified Taliban strongholds and is taking them down with air and indirect firepower. The Pakistani military seems to have learned that just sending truck loads of troops in to get captured is a really bad idea. Now it is preparing the objectives with overwhelming firepower and following that with overwhelming force. Somebody in Pakistan is learning from the US military.

If Zardari holds his nerve better than Musharref, we might have the beginning of a full scale invasion into Taliban territory, an envelopment of al Qaeda’ last strongholds in the Taliban fortresses of the frontier. Strategy page reports that the particular Taliban tribe under attack has been putting out distress calls and that no other Taliban tribes are responding. In addition, al Qaeda fighter have been arriving to fight but have been destroyed along with the Taliban.

The pressure is on al Qaeda every which way it turns and it is losing, not winning.

The overarching point being that the Al Qaeda is not stronger now by any conceivable measure that Obama could put forward, unless he is simply looking at casualty numbers as the one and only metric. They go up, we are losing, they go down, we a winning. But that’s a rather silly way to measure success in war. In that case, I regret to inform you that the allies lost WWII on D-Day because we suffered over 4,000 KIA on the beaches of France, the greatest one day loss up until that invasion and probably after.

The truth is as it has always been, we cannot go to war with Pakistan to get Usama bin Laden. That means either Pakistan has to get him or we get lucky with a drone or special operations mission. The only sure way to get him is to substantially reduce his support among the Taliban tribes. We do that by discrediting him as a “hero” to the locals by defeating al Qaeda forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he loses his mythic proportions and becomes ‘just a man’ and his presence causes the tribes more problems than he is worth, someone will decide to claim that 25 million dollar bounty and give up his location.

They best way to make sure that happens is to turn the Taliban tribes against each other and make them jocky for an alliance with the Pakistan government. Then one of the tribes may give up his location to gain support. It’s yet to be seen if that plays out. Before Bhutto’s death, the Taliban tribes were beginning to war with each other but Musharref lost his nerve along with his credibility.

It is clear that Obama wants to make it look like the Bush administration has lost to al Qaeda and the only one who can beat al Qaeda is Obama. I find it dispiriting that the Democratic Party’s candidate is so willing to twist the truth and run down the accomplishments of our soldiers just to score a cheap political shot. Really, he could surely win the presidency without making up this nonsense.

I received “OBSESSION” last week in the mail for free without requesting it. I haven’t watched it yet, but I was alerted in advance as to its nature and widespread distribution by a Myspace friend. American Empire marches on…

On to the article:

Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 08:50:29 PM PDT

(From the diaries — kos)

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West — the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail — were distributed by mail in Ohio, a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain’s supporters has led to — Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

I read the story as reported by the Dayton Daily News, but this was after I had received an email written by a friend of some of the victims of these American terrorists. The matter of fact news report in the Dayton paper didn’t come close to conveying the horrific impact of this unthinkable act like the email I had just read, so I asked the email’s author for permission to share what they had written. The author was with one of the families from the mosque — a mother and two of the small children who were in the room that was gassed — the day after the attack occurred.

“She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there.

“The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn’t stop sobbing.

“This didn’t happen in some far away place — but right here in Dayton, and to my friends. Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love.

“I am hurt and angry. I tell her this is NOT America. She tells me this is not Heaven or Hell — there are good and bad people everywhere.

“She tells me that her daughters slept with her last night, the little one in her arms and sobbing throughout the night. She tells me she is afraid, and will never return to the mosque, and I wonder what kind of country is this where people have to fear attending their place of worship?

“The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say they like me, … , and other American friends — but they are too afraid and want to leave. Should a 6 and 7 year old even have to contemplate the safety of their living situation?

“Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who attacks women and children?

“What am I supposed to say to them? My words can’t keep them safe from what is nothing less than terrorism, American style. Isn’t losing loved ones, their homes, jobs, possessions and homeland enough? Is there no place where they can be safe?

“She didn’t want me to leave her tonight, but it was after midnight, and I needed to get home and write this to my friends. Tell me — tell me — what am I supposed to say to them?”

When acting as a representative of Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that I work for, I cannot engage in political activities. The distribution of Obsession, however, although a political campaign scheme, clearly crosses over into the mission of MRFF. So, I’m going to make two statements here — one in my capacity as MRFF’s Research Director, and another as an individual whose disgust at the vile campaign tactics of John McCain’s supporters completely boiled over when I opened up the email about children being gassed.

My statement as MRFF’s Research Director:

The presidential campaign edition of the Obsession DVD, currently being distributed by the Clarion Fund, carries the endorsement of the chair of the counter-terrorism department of the U.S. Naval War College, using the name and authority of an official U.S. military institution not only to validate an attack the religion of Islam, but to influence a political campaign. For these reasons, this endorsement has been included in MRFF’s second lawsuit against the Department of Defense, which was filed on September 25 in the Federal District Court in Kansas.

My opinion as an individual and thoroughly appalled human being:

John McCain has a moral obligation to publicly censure the Clarion Fund, the organization that produced Obsession and is distributing the DVDs; to denounce the inflammatory, anti-Muslim message of Obsession; and to do everything in his power to stop any further campaign activities by his supporters that have the potential to incite violence.