The Reasoned Review

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘pakistan

Obama Moves to Massively Expand Covert Military Abroad

leave a comment »

Via The New York Times, President Obama has just ordered a “broad expansion of clandestine military operations” in an attempt to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda”. The ‘covert operations’ will likely include anything from target assassinations, ‘drone’ attacks in Pakistan, secret bombing campaigns, money transfers to client states (a la Karzai and Maliki), and many things in-between. This is a significant move for a variety of reasons, not least of which stands the utter lack of public consultation for such a policy.

Mr. Greenwald has a timely essay on why Mr. Obama can undertake such extreme actions in the absence not only of opposition to his imperial policy, but indeed, any discussion whatsoever. Our major news outlets have reported the order in classic ‘objective’ style, assigning as little controversy to it as possible and treating it instead as a run-of-the-mill executive action. But it is interesting to examine why, in this year 2010, after nine continuous years of war, public opinion is such that a unilateral expansion of our secret military complex can occur with as little discussion as imaginable.

First, Mr. Greenwald notes, because this military expansion is taking place under a “Democratic” President, it creates the illusion of so-called ‘bipartisan support’. Back when President Bush was carrying out covert operations in Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc., they were painted as the actions of an ‘extremist’ administration, one which regards the opposition with disdain and made a point of treating international law with utter contempt. However, after 18 months of military escalation, these wars are as much Mr. Obama’s (that is, “Democratic” wars), as they were Mr. Bush’s. As such, the number of “Democrats” willing to risk their political futures by opposing military action has dropped precipitously, as have the number of war-opposers in the general population. Specifically, the subset of people for whom Mr.Obama can do no wrong will automatically agree with his war policy – or if they disagree, put forth some excuse as to how Mr. Obama ‘has no choice’.

The biggest reason Mr. Greenwald identifies, however, is the complete lack of documented impact these wars have on our livelihood. It has been often mentioned that, unlike in Vietnam, very few Americans have had to go to war against their will. Our press is largely censored as to the true cost of our warfare not only on the beleaguered people of Iraq and Afghanistan, but even our own soldiers. Recall the recent dust-up when our Secretary of War, Robert Gates, “harshly condemned” the media’s display of a flag-draped coffin. And that was just one soldier, who had admittedly died in combat, but whose grisly death we had been totally shielded from.  As much as possible, we citizens are encouraged not to think about our military “commitments” abroad, and instead to simply carry on with our daily lives, a few dollars shorter than the day before, a little more ragged perhaps, but still inestimably “proud” of our “commitment” to “democracy in the Middle East”. One wonders just how far that pride would take us if more than 1% of the US population was involved in our military escapades, as the statistic stands now.

But beyond that, what Mr. Greenwald hints at but never explicitly states, is the psychology of powerlessness to which we citizens are routinely subjected. We literally have no say in what our government does abroad, and we have less and less of a say in even its domestic policies. In the 2008 elections, both candidates were unabashedly pro-war, Mr. Obama more so than even his most fervent supporters might have dreamt. For whom are we to vote if we wish to exit Iraq and Afghanistan immediately? Which Congressman, which Senator would even entertain such a possibility? To whom do we donate that we can be sure our paltry $50 will not be rendered irrelevant by the millions of dollars industry interests donate in order to keep these wars going? It is an implacable question, one made all the more urgent by President Obama’s dramatic escalation of our already over-stretched ‘commitments’.

The feeling of powerlessness can lead to apathy, but also to fear. When one recalls the brutality to which previous “anti-war protesters” have been subjected in the US, including savage beatings with nightsticks, water-cannons, ear-splitting sound emitters, tear gas and rubber bullets, it is not hard to imagine from whence this fear of dissent arises. Recall, also, that since the Homegrown Terrorism Act of 2007 passed, civil disobedience – the mere act of peaceful protest – has been defined as ‘terrorism’. And once you are accused of ‘terrorism’, citizen or no, you are immediately stripped of every right you think you have.

This latest move towards military hegemony is particularly insidious, and I suppose it follows that Mr. Obama merely announced his policy, in true decree style, with little or no discussion. With one stroke of a pen, Mr. Obama has resserved the right to carry out military operations anywhere around the globe, from “surgical strikes”, bombing campaigns, ground incursions, assassinations, or, indeed, anything his enigmatic mind may wish. It is worth remembering at this point that Mr. Obama also reserves the right to assassinate US citizens in their beds (that is, far from a battlefield), and ‘render’ accused terrorists to a global prison complex where no defense attorney dares enter. There, they can be beaten, tortured, or even murdered, far from the watchful eye of the Red Cross.

It is easy to imagine this latest move on the part of Mr. Obama is merely a continuation of Mr.  Bush’s odious policies. It is that, of course, but its implications go far deeper. Mr. Bush’s covert actions were largely piecemeal: an assassination here, a few ‘drone’ attacks there, maybe some ‘cash assistance’ to some friendly dictator or another for spice. In contrast, Mr. Obama’s new ‘national security strategy‘ systematizes these covert acts of aggression, and sets up, in essence, a new governmental body, with no congressional or popular oversight, to carry out his murderous will around the globe. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this ‘overhaul’, yet it is even more difficult to convince anyone of that significance.

Mr. Hitler once coined the term for the Germans as a ‘sleep-walking people’, but the same could easily be said of Americans (or, for that matter, anyone else). We face, in our generation, a confluence of crises of which we are only just beginning to see the magnitude, and unfortunately the first step to solving a crisis is to realize it exists, something for which, at least with regards to our present constitutional crisis, we still have quite some ways to go.

Advertisements

Written by pavanvan

May 27, 2010 at 10:05 pm

The Pakistani Water Mafia

leave a comment »

Alex Rodriguez (no, not the baseball player) has a superb article in the Los Angeles Times on organized crime and water in Karachi:

The illegal operations, routinely referred to as mafias, are everywhere. There’s a land mafia that commandeers prime real estate, a sugar mafia that conspires to control sugar prices, and even a railway mafia that forges train tickets and pilfers locomotive parts.

For those on the city’s bottom rung, however, the underworld entity they revile the most is the water tanker mafia, a network of trucking firms that teams up with corrupt bureaucrats to turn water into liquid gold worth tens of millions of dollars each year.

The water tanker mafia’s prey can be found in slums like Karachi’s Gulshan-Sikanderabad neighborhood, where every morning people buy water from the tankers, lug the plastic jugs back to their homes on wooden carts, then come back three or four more times in the afternoon and evening to buy more.

A family that makes $100 a month can spend as much as a quarter of that on water, which, elsewhere in Pakistan, costs pennies and flows out of household taps.

This is the kind of reporting out of Pakistan I think we need to see a lot more of from the US press.

Written by pavanvan

March 17, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Posted in environment

Tagged with , , , ,

The New Jihad

leave a comment »

India better watch out, if this excellent Tehelka piece is any indication:

FEEL THE déjà vu. India’s nightmare in the Kashmir Valley may well return to haunt again. “jihad is the only solution to free Kashmir from the Indian yoke,” thundered one separatist after another last week, to boisterous sloganeering by armed cadres. “Kashmir cannot be resolved through dialogue.” The venue: Muzaffarabad, the picturesque capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The date: February 4, 2010. The assembly: men most wanted by New Delhi for waging a terrorist war against India for two decades, belonging to a clutch of a dozen terror outfits that go by the name of United jihad Council (UJC).

Most terror satraps were back together last week, openly defying the bans on their activities, irreverent of the fact that both the US and India have demanded the scalps of most of these men. What’s the new message from these groups? Should India worry? Yes, says General Mirza Aslam Beg, who headed Pakistan’s all-powerful army from 1988 to 1991. “It will be another Vietnam,” Beg told TEHELKA bluntly on the phone from Pakistan, suggesting that Kashmir would turn out for India what Vietnam was for the US 40 years ago: a messy military defeat. Shockingly, General Beg discloses that the Mujahideen who fought the USled forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are headed to Kashmir. With US President Barack Obama committed to a timetable to pull out of both countries, General Beg asks: “Where do you think they [Mujahideen] will go? They will go to Kashmir: that is certain. Their direction is clear and they are moving [to it] gradually.”

I’ve always thought that India was being played by the US in supporting American “intervention” in Pakistan, and this article indicates those fears aren’t far from the mark. India seems to be making the age-old calculation that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, but this often turns out not to be the case. In the current situation, India is happy to let America do most of the heavy-lifting, with their marvelous ‘predator drones’ attacking the Pakistani Islamic movement, and, India hopes, diverting Pakistan’s attention toward the Afghan border and away from Kashmir.

But recent developments suggest this may not be happening. One recalls the massive protests that occurred in Srinagar two weeks ago, which, after a period of calm, should have reminded the Indian establishment that this issue is far from over. In fact, there is reason to believe that American involvement in Pakistan has had an exacerbating effect on India’s Kashmir worries. Hiding behind American forces hasn’t done anything for India.

India’s acquiescence to American aid to Pakistan is also perplexing. For nearly a decade, India has sat by and watched America give tens of billions of dollars to one corrupt Pakistani government after another. This money has been repeatedly demonstrated to have gone to Pakistan terror groups, particularly the Lakshar-e-Taiba, the very group who carried out the horrific 26/11 Mumbai attack. It’s difficult to imagine what India was thinking. Not only did they not object to this US sponsorship of terror, they actually tried to intensify their friendship with America, signing a major trade agreement only a year later.

It should be clear to Indian “strategists” (that’s stretching the definition a bit, given their behavior) that the sum effect of US strategy has been to push the Islamic movement eastward. First they were in Afghanistan, then they bled into Pakistan, and now, if recent reports are any indication, they’re moving even farther east. Needless to say this would be disastrous for India, and its totally baffling to me why nobody in India is protesting against this.

For now, I think India should make it clear to America that its actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are making it demonstrably less safe. Then it should demand the US repeal its Kerry-Luger aid bill to Pakistan, and show America evidence, which at this point should be ample, that Pakistan is using US aid to fund terrorism in India.

It’s also time to solve this Kashmir dispute once and for all. This isn’t the spot to go into the intricacies of the affair, but India promised Kashmir a plebiscite in 1947 to see whether it would become part of India or Pakistan or become an independent state. That plebiscite never occurred. India should abide by UN Resolution 47 and allow the Kashmiris to decide their fate. This petty squabbling has gone on long enough.

Written by pavanvan

February 18, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Military Dictatorships: Friendly and Not-So

with 10 comments

The Times’ front page today: ‘Clinton Fears Iran Is Headed For Military Dictatorship

An excerpt:

DOHA, Qatar — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Monday that the United States feared Iran was drifting toward a military dictatorship, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seizing control of large swaths of Iran’s political, military, and economic establishment.

“That is how we see it,” Mrs. Clinton said in a televised town hall meeting of students at the Doha campus of Carnegie Mellon University. “We see that the government in Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the Parliament, is being supplanted and that Iran is moving towards a military dictatorship.”

A brief list of US-sponsored military dictators:

Gen. Augusto Pinochet – Chile, 1974-1990

Ferdinand Marcos – Philippines, 1965-1986

Gen. Fulgenco Batistia – Cuba, 1933-1944, 1952-1959

Marshall Castillo Branco – Brazil, 1964-1967

Gen. Medici – Brazil, 1969-1974

Gen. Geisel – Brazil, 1974-1979

Gen. Figueiredo – Brazil, 1979-1985

Gen. Mobutu Sese-Seko – The Congo, 1965-1997 (guilty of genocide)

Gen. Sani Abacha – Nigeria, 1993-1998

Gen. Redondo – Argentina, 1976-1981 (guilty of genocide)

Col. Hugo Banzer – Bolivia, 1971-1978

Bolivian Military Junta – Bolivia, 1978-1989

Gen. Maximilliano Martinez – El Salvador, 1931-1944

Alfredo Christiani – El Salvador, 1980-1994 (guilty of genocide)

Gen. Francois Duvalier – Haiti, 1957-1971

Gen. Jean-Claude Duvalier – Haiti, 1971-1986

Gen. Manuel Noriega – Panama, 1983-1989

Gen. Suharto – Indonesia, 1967-1998 (guilty of genocide)

Turgut Ozal – Turkey, 1983-1993

Gen. Yahya Khan – Pakistan, 1969-1971 (guilty of genocide)

Gen. Muhammad Zia – Pakistan, 1976-1988

Gen. Musharraf – Pakistan, 1999-2008

Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov – Turkey, 1990-2006

Gen. Somoza Senior – Nicaragua, 1957-1967

Gen. Somoza Junior and subsequent Junta – Nicaragua, 1967-1980 (guilty of genocide)

Alfredo Stroessner – Paraguay, 1954-1988

Gen. Efrain Rios Montt – Guatemala, 1982-1983 (guilty of genocide)

I wonder if The Times has a sense of irony. Or shame. What they meant to write in their headline, obviously, is that Secretary Clinton fears Iran might be headed for an unfriendly military dictatorship. Otherwise, I fail to see her problem with the concept.

Zardari Regularly Sacrifices Goats

leave a comment »

Our man in Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, the bumbling ex-con who now has his finger on the nuclear button, regularly sacrifices goats to “ward off the evil eye”

“It has been an old practice of Mr Zardari to offer Sadqa (animal sacrifice). He has been doing this for a long time,” spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn on Tuesday.


One thing is certain: Hundreds of black goats have been sacrificed since Mr Zardari moved into the President’s House in September 2008. His trusted personal servant Bai Khan buys goats from Saidpur village. The animal is touched by Mr Zardari before it is sent to his private house in F-8/2 to be sacrificed.

Man, US policy planners sure can pick ’em.

Written by pavanvan

February 4, 2010 at 10:57 am

India: A View From the Top

leave a comment »

A very wealthy friend of mine in India sat to discuss the various maladies that plague this dark and beguiling continent:

“Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. What do you make of all this Telangana business? People are really getting agitated about it. On the way here I saw an open-top truck full of activists – there was one policeman and and about twenty people shouting “Jai! Telangana!” at the top of their lungs. I guess they were being taken in or whatever, but the truck stopped at a light and they all climbed over the sides and started laying down in the road! They were shouting “Jai! Telangana! and waving flags the entire time. One SUV screeched to a halt just before hitting one of them.”

– “It’s a problem. But what you have to realize is that this has been boiling up for more than 60 years. I definitely think the central government botched this issue – in fact I can’t see how they could have done a worse job of it. All these contradictory pronouncements, the half-decisions and endless recanting – it’s making these agitations much worse. It’s clear nobody knows what they’re doing. But with that said, you really have to go back in history to understand why these people feel so strongly about this.

Why do you think Andhra Pradesh is even a a state to begin with? Nehru – the first prime minister – he wanted “linguistic” states; every language its own state. This was one of those rare instances where the wants of the population and the politician’s schemes line up perfectly. Before 1956 India was organized much as it had been under the British. But people were angry – a lot of language groups were split up – and the borders themselves were a colonial legacy. At the same time, the politicians saw the value of the idea – Hindi is by far the most prevalent language in India. If you could get all the Hindi-speakers under one political structure, the vote bank would basically decide elections. And so it has, since then. The north is mostly Hindi-speaking; you have Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar – these are some of the largest states. With the way things are organized, the North can overrule the South. I believe you had a similar situation in America.

And you have to ask: were the borders drawn correctly? Did they do a good job? It is very ironic that Andhra Pradesh – the state from which Telangana wishes to secede – was itself the product of a bitter secession movement. Before 1956, this whole area belonged to what was then a Tamil-speaking state. Even now many Telegu villages exist in Tamil Nadu, and all over India there are villages in a similar situation. Remember, this country has 18 distinct “languages” and hundreds upon hundreds of dialects.

So when Andhra Pradesh got its independence from the Madras state, it took the Telangana region, which used to be the Hyderabad state, along with it. They spoke the same language, after all! But no one really asked Telangana if it wanted to come. Later its only rivers were dammed up to provide electricity to the coastal region, diverting them from the Telangana farmlands. That’s a major reason why they’re upset now.

We need to ask ourselves: ‘How do we want our country to be organized?’ ‘Was it even a good idea to have linguistic states’? In my opinion it was not such a great idea – and even if it was, the implementation has been atrocious. Ask me, I think the administrative divisions should be done by population or resources. I think that would make the most sense.”

“It’s interesting that you bring up Nehru. I’ve really noticed a shift in people’s attitudes regarding their erstwhile Prime Minister. Time used to be when his name was almost synonymous with god. What happened?

– “Nehru was a man whose time had come and gone, but nobody knew it. He didn’t know it – and the country certainly didn’t either. They kept voting him back in, more from habit than anything else by the end. Only now are we beginning to realize that many of the problems we just can’t seem to solve sprang up under his rule.

Who else can we blame for Partition? Jinnah, maybe – well, probably. But who gave Jinnah his voice? Who listened to him? Nehru. He was the leader of the largest – indeed, the only – mass political party India had ever known. It was certainly within his power to block Partition. But he went along with it. Why? Well, that’s a mystery – maybe he just wanted to get independence over with and – who knows? – maybe he actually thought the Muslims had a point. But I think he just didn’t care what happened to those desert-and-swamp areas; just so long as he could have his India. You know the day after Independence, he moved right into the former Viceroy’s mansion. That’s when you knew.

Think of Kashmir – Nehru’s home state. Do you think that had something to do with it being incorporated into India? They originally offered a plebiscite, but then they backed down when it looked like the Kashmiris were going to vote to become part of Pakistan. So he let the Hindu king of Kashmir decide. Hence the dispute. But what was done cannot be undone, and now Kashmir finds itself surrounded on three sides by countries who want a piece of it – Pakistan, India and China.

And think of the colossal corruption that went on under his watch! Twenty years after Nehru died, his grandson, Rajiv, calculated that out of every 100 Rupees the Indian government spends, only 15 gets to its intended target. 85% is stolen by bureaucrats! Under whom did this system start? For that matter, who consolidated the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty? Why is India being ruled by an Italian whose sole virtue is that she happened to marry Nehru’s grandson?

He was a vain man, you see. He thought the country would be lost without him; that only he knew how to rule India. So he surrounded himself with people who believed just that. And pretty soon nobody questioned it. And he kept running – and kept winning! After all, he’d convinced the whole country it was unsafe in any other hands. Your George Washington – what did he do in a similar situation? He quit after two terms. Nehru couldn’t do that – or he wouldn’t. Anyway, I can’t be sure anymore that we benefited all that much for his 18 years of rule.”

“But it’s just as you said, isn’t it? There was no one else. Nehru had to run – you know? To what extent is he responsible that no one else came forward? And at any rate, you have to admit Nehru was popular. People adored him, worshiped him even. Surely that played a role as well.”

– “It’s a vicious circle. The people here are extremely susceptible to the cult of personality. You’re surely seen the political posters last election. There’s a reason they all show only faces. Most people, that’s all they recognize. Don’t bother asking about policy. The leader is leader. It’s our duty to vote for him, and that’s that. The people blend their identities in with the leader – they believe in him, you see, because they have little else to believe in.

“Do you think this might relate to the Telangana issue? One thing I remember hearing from the protesters I spoke with was the ‘self-respect’ angle. A lot of people saw this as a battle for their self-respect. I think that’s a big appeal of this K.C. Rao, who’s apparently leading this mob – they see him as a beacon of Telangana self-respect. And I guess I notice that not only Telangana lacks self-respect, but at times Indians do as well. I’ve often heard people describing their own country as a “backwater” and their fellow citizens “second-rate people”.

– “Well to get those sentiments in context you really have to remember what India went through over the last millenium – what it’s still going through. Let’s see, we had 600 years of Muslim rule and… well, let’s say 200 years of British Empire. That’s 800 years of invasion – 800 years of foreign rule. Of slavery, really. I mean, I know people get touchy about that word but “Colonial rule” is nothing but a dressed-up euphemism. For 800 years India was made to feel like dirt, worthy only of scorn. The Muslim invasion badly wounded us, and the British nearly finished off whatever dignity we may still have retained. And it goes deeper than just the mentality – it gets into the genes. 800 years – that’s almost 30 generations of slaves. Slave genes – that’s what developed. That’s why you see such apathy among the public, such slavish devotion to the thieving politicians and thieving West.

“But it goes farther back than that, doesn’t it? What do you think of the caste system? Wasn’t that essentially inward colonialism – inward slavery? I read somewhere that something like 60% of the population were so-called “untouchables”, forbidden to interact with “caste Hindus” and relegated a life of hardship, labor and disappointment.”

– “Oh yes, the caste system is a terrible blight upon our civilization, and it still goes on today. How dare we preach peace to the world when our own house is in such frightening disarray? The Brahmins were slave-masters, yes – and the whole country bowed down to them. And you have to realize the rigidity of the system they devised. Where do you think the idea of karma came about? You hippies in the West, I hear you love talking about karma. Do you know what it means? Karma was a justification for Brahimincal tyranny – a justification for slavery. If you can make people believe that they deserve their station, that it’s no use trying for anything better, that their suffering is due to misdeeds in some imaginary previous life – well, then, you’ve got them exactly where you want them. That’s why for centuries – millennia! – there was no reform movement in Hinduism. Everyone stuck to their place, and in fact, they were proud to do so! This is where the concept of Dharma comes in – the concept of one’s “duty”. They convinced the latrine-cleaners and street sweepers that it was their duty to endure the abuse of the higher castes! You couldn’t possibly imagine a more insidious or effective ideology for controlling slaves.

“But there were reform movements, weren’t there? What about Buddhism?”

– “Buddhism, right – you know what happened to Buddhists in India, don’t you? The Brahmins kicked them all out! They were getting too uppity, and challenging Brahmincal authority. You see all the lower-castes – those 60% of Indians who were the dirt of society – they all began converting to Buddhism en masse. They began to want equality, some fairness in who does what jobs. Obviously you couldn’t have this, so the Brahmins got together and kicked them out. A thousand years later you saw the same thing happen with the Muslim invasion – all the trodden-upon members of society began to convert to Islam. At least as Muslims they’d be equal in theory – as Hindus they were nothing. Likewise when the British showed up with their Christianity. So Hinduism got some big chunks taken out of it – but the system of control was so ingrained that most people stayed. In fact, we didn’t really get a reformer until Swami Vivekananda, and that was in the 19th century, 3000 years after the Vedic Civilization! And then you had Gandhi, who I’m sure meant well, but… well look at the condition of many Indians today. 500,000,000 without regular food supplies. Clearly the reforms haven’t worked.”

“I want to know your views on Pakistan and China. The Pakistani intelligence service – the ISI – is widely blamed for the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. They’re taking aid from both America and China, and seem to have a single-minded desire for India’s destruction. Will India and Pakistan ever get along? What is the role of the US in all of this?”

– “I’ll say this about Pakistan – they’ve got some clever rulers. Clever! Sometimes I wonder why their people are so impoverished, since their leaders seem to be so smart. But I guess it isn’t cleverness per se – merely dull opportunism. They’re clever like a bully is clever. They understand power. I mean look at the game they’re playing right now; pitting America and China up against one another. And America is playing the same game – pitting Pakistan and India against each other.  All that money America gives to Pakistan – you think it actually goes toward “combating terrorism?” No! It goes to commit atrocities in India. The 26/11 attackers were paid for with American dollars.

But at the same time, America wants India as a bulwark against China. So they court us with civilian nuclear deals and “technical assistance”. To tell you the truth, I really resent that India needs America’s permission to build nuclear reactors – that we’re forced to play their one-sided game. But how can we refuse? They go to Pakistan otherwise. America certainly looks as if it’s warming up to India – but they want to keep a Pakistan strong, too. It’s in America’s interest to keep the Indo-Pakistani rivalry going; only then can America take advantage of both. You’ve heard the phrase ‘divide and rule’? So, no, I don’t see peace between India and Pakistan – at least not for the foreseeable future.

Similarly, China wants a strong Pakistan to keep India weak, which makes perfect sense. China sees India as a threat – not a traditional threat, mind you, but like this nuisance to the east that can only slow their growth. Recently we had a diplomatic situation with China wherein they wanted to dam up a shared river – cutting off flow to India. We really had no choice but to let them do it. And it’s only a matter of time before all the rivers will be dammed. The next wars will be over water. Remember that.

We in India don’t have the political will to meet these threats – in fact, we’d just as soon not hear of them. We’re too wrapped in our own cocoons – too beholden to the grip of tradition to notice or care.”

“That’s a little unfair, isn’t it? I mean, you have to admit that ‘development’ (such as it is) is occuring in India. Millions of people are getting their lives lifted out of poverty. Literacy rates are up, unemployment is down, and people really seem to be breaking out of this cycle of tradition. Wouldn’t you say?”

– Don’t make me laugh! Whatever “development” you see is solely due to the West – due to a desire to emulate the West. What kind of indigenous “development” have you seen in your time here? You think we’re “developed” because rich people can eat Pizza Hut now? You think Microsoft and Wal-Mart constitute social change? We’re exactly in the same position we were in under the British, only now we pledge allegiance to America instead. But the the hundreds of millions of Indian peasants, who still find themselves ground under the heel of starvation and want, this decade of “prosperity” has meant nothing to them. And always remember that these gains of the Indian middle class cannot last. We dithered for too long – we got into the game too late. Most of the oil has already been burned, most of the coal already extracted. We’re playing this ridicilous game of “catch-up to the West”, but the joke is on us. India will never be a first-rate global power. Maybe if we ask nicely China and America will let us into the club. But we’ll always be second-rate. We’ve got too much baggage – too much dead weight.

Sometimes I think we’d be better off as a one-party state, like China or your America. Here nothing ever gets done. We debate and debate, compromise and vote, and in the end we end up with half-decisions, or more usually, no decision at all. This Telangana issue is just one example. I think we have too much democracy. We need someone to tell us what to do – that much is painfully clear. First it was the British, and now America – they say jump, we say ‘how high?’; they say ‘develop’, we say ‘right away, sahib.’

“That’s pretty bleak. Anything else you’d like to add?”

– “We’ve been independent for 60 years. It’s astonishing that we haven’t even begun to solve any of our problems – in fact, they’ve gotten far worse under our watch. Overpopulation, starvation, bonded labor, inequality – these were all crimes we laid at the feet of the British. Who are we to blame now?”

CIA Revenge

leave a comment »

Well it looks like the good ol’ CIA is busy getting revenge for those 8 members who were killed in Afghanistan back in December. The Times gave this some pretty good coverage, certainly emphasizing the “revenge” aspect of these new US attacks – but in the process gives us some darkly funny quotes.

Bill Roggio, for instance, likens this dispute to a schoolyard fight – with bombs:

“For the C.I.A., there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks the C.I.A.’s drone campaign.

An unnamed official apparently thinks he’s in an action movie:

After the Khost bombing, intelligence officials vowed that they would retaliate. One angry senior American intelligence official said the C.I.A. would “avenge” the Khost attack. “Some very bad people will eventually have a very bad day,” the official said at the time, speaking on the condition he not be identified describing a classified program.

But leave it to the CIA to get the message right (except for that part about “lawful, precise and effective):

A C.I.A. spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, declined to comment on the drone strikes. But he said, “The agency’s counter-terrorism operations — lawful, aggressive, precise and effective — continue without pause.”

Now that’s more like it.

In describing the US strikes, The Times also evokes some bizarre imagery:

The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on Jan. 6 that killed 17 people and a volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan last Sunday that killed at least 20.

Let that sink in a bit. The US is using Predator Drones

in order to attack mud huts

Does this seem crazy to anyone else?

Written by pavanvan

January 23, 2010 at 11:34 am