Afghanistan


The Sun Never Sets

I first read Byron Farwel through his biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton. lt was the peculiar fact that there are six modern biographies of Burton and only one very slight one of Alexander Burnes, which spurred me on to my current project. I came across this Farwell quote today while researching:

“It is difficult for anyone to understand the reasoning behind the extraordinary British attitude to Afghanistan; the Afghans must have found it impossible. While always protesting friendship, the British repeatedly invaded the country and shot at its inhabitants.” (Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, 1972, p.4)

Forty years on, Farwell might be surprised how completely true his analysis remains. I am still firmly of the view that the only way to throw off the imperial aggression of the United Kingdom once and for all, is to split it back to its constituent nations.

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Murdered Afghan Trophy Photos on Der Spiegel

The United States have killed so many innocent civilians in Afghanistan that nobody will ever know all their stories. There is a line running from genuine accident in the fog of war, to carelessness, through callous disregard of life to deliberate murder. There is a real sense in which it makes no difference to the dead civilian where their killing sits on the line. The six boys under 11 years old killed this month by an aerial attack when out gathering firewood are every bit as dead as the 13 year old boy in one of the trophy photos now released by Der Spiegel.

There is something very vile in the culture of the US military, of which this is but one symptom. I won’t say much, as I feel more grief than anger just at the moment. But I leave you these truths. It is more common for US soldiers to possess such trophy photos, than it is for those trophy photos to be exposed to an international magazine. And it is a great deal more common for US soldiers to murder from the enjoyment of their absolute power of life and death, than it is for them to incriminate themselves by recording the event.

This is but the tip of an iceberg of evil.

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“Raymond Davis” – Actually, Not the Worst Result

Whoever “Raymond Davis” really was, he is out of Pakistan now. The interests of justice have not been best served, but this is far from the worst possible outcome.

The most disastrous of outcomes would have been for Pakistan to accept Davis had diplomatic immunity. By agreeing to pay blood money the US have de facto dropped that claim. To accept that an evident mercenary like Davis had immunity would have made a mockery of the Vienna Convention, and ultimately eroded the security of all diplomats worldwide, and especially US diplomats. Davis was never a diplomat and we can be confident he is not going on to supervise textile negotiations or public diplomacy in Denmark. It was a farce and a disgrace that Obama ever made that ridiculous claim.

Another very bad outcome is that Davis could have been hung. Nobody deserves to be hung. If you could make a world ranking of by how much people do not deserve to be hung, Davis would not score too high. But still, nobody deserves to be hung, plus blood is becoming the currency of politics in Pakistan. We have to hope nobody connected with his release is assassinated.

The payment of blood money entails an acceptance of guilt. It would have been better if his self defence plea could have been tested in court, but he has dropped it and acknowledged guilt.

Personally the payment of blood money for murder is a bias towards the rich which is one of the many things I find unacceptable in Pakistan’s system of sharia law. But the Americans have taken it, and in doing so have indicated their acceptance of the justice and validity of sharia law, which is one to chalk up for future reference.

So my own urge for proper justice may not be satisfied. But I am not a party to the case and it appears that Pakistani law has been followed. So as I say, not the worst outcome.

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Perspective

NATO air strikes have killed 80 civilians in Afghanistan in the last two weeks alone, including nine small boys who were out together collecting firewood. We have been raining down death from the sky around the world on innocent people pretty well every single day since 2002. Gadaffi’s use of air power is very wrong, but is on nothing like this scale.

The people who are positing a no-fly zone over Libya are precisely the people who support and sustain the bombing of children in Afghanistan. The lack of self-knowledge, the complete absence of any perspective, is bewildering.

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Raymond Davis Does Not Have Diplomatic Immunity

Take this as definitive from a former Ambassador

There are five circumstances in which Raymond Davis, the American killer caught in Pakistan, might have diplomatic immunity. They are these.

1) He was notified in writing to the government of Pakistan as a member of diplomatic staff of a US diplomatic mission in Pakistan, and the government of Pakistan had accepted him as such in writing.

2) He was part of an official delegation engaged in diplomatic negotiations notified to the government of Pakistan and accepted by them.

3) He was a member of staff of an international organisation recognised by Pakistan and was resident in Pakistan as a member of diplomatic staff working for that organisation, or was in Pakistan undertaking work for that organisation with the knowledge and approval of the Pakistani authorities.

4) He was an accredited diplomat elsewhere and was in direct tranist through Pakistan to his diplomatic posting.

5) He was an accredited courier carrying US diplomatic dispatches in transit through Pakistan.

2) to 5) plainly do not apply. The Obama administration is going for 1). My information, from senior Pakistani ex-military sources that I trust, is firmly that the necessary diplomatic exchange of notes does not exist that would make Davis an accredited US diplomat in Pakistan, but that the State Department is putting huge pressure on the government of Pakistan to overlook that fact. This passes a commonsense test – if the documents did exist. La Clinton would have waved them at us by now.

A brilliant article here by Glenn Greenwald.
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/02/21/heartsandminds/index.html

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Hard Times for the US

It is hard not to feel happy at the discomfiture of US hubris.

Not only is the most important US/Israeli client dictator in danger of overthrow in Egypt, the last remaining rationale of their Afghan policy is collapsing, with Russia moving in on the trans Afghan gas pipeline.

http://centralasianewswire.com/Russian-TAPI-involvement-damages-Turkmenistan-US/viewstory.aspx?id=3075

Interesting times.

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Russia and Afghanistan

My major theme recently has been the “Northern Distribution Network” for NATO supply to Afghanistan, and the fact that dependence on this has entailed a conscious decision to support actively the dictatorships of Central Asia, including President Karimov of Uzbekistan.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/10/the_poison_from.html#comments

It also of course requires close cooperation with Russia. A Jonathan Steele points out in the Guardian, the Russian help for NATO in Afghanistan is not exactly news,.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/27/russia-afghan-agenda. In fact, transit of supplies is more valuable than the more eye-catching helicopters for the Polish contingent or Russian training for Afghan troops. Russian denials of the possibility of more direct Russian involvement do not obscure the fact they are already doing a lot.

http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/10/27/28915215.html

There is another reason this Russian support is not surprising, apart from the Obama/Putin rapprochement (Medvedev is emphatically not the organ grinder).

The truth is that the NATO occupation of Afghanistan has turned into a near exact reply of the Soviet occupation. I was thinking of my good Uzbek friend in Tashkent, who had been the number two in the KGB in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

The misnamed “Afghan National Army is over 70% Tajik and Uzbek in composition. These were the allies of the Soviets and continued under Nazbullah to fight the Taliban. The Soviet army itself of course used soldiers from the Uzbek and Tajik Soviet Socialist Republics extensively in Afghanistan. NATO is now using the same regime elites for its logistics, and the same tribes and families who supported the Soviets within Afghanistan as allies.

In the wider diplomacy, all of this relates also the NATO’s exit strategy. In effect, they are accepting that undemocratic Soviet styled regimes as in Uzbekistan – and I would argue Russia – are the best way to deal with the fact that the populations of the Caucasus and Central Asia are Muslim. They are hoping for a hardline secular regime backed by its “Northern neighbours”.

I attended the Lib Dem annual conference in Liverpool where one deep disappointment was the speech by Jeremy Browne MP, junior foreign office minister with a specific brief for human rights. There was a single cursory mention of human rights in Jeremy Browne’s speech. Indeed I am not sure there was a single thought expressed in Jeremy Browne’s entire speech which was identifiably liberal. He could have been New Labour or Conservative as he dully expounded the view that protecting this country from the terrorist threat was our number one foregin policy objective, and then hammered on about the need to “win” the war in Afghanistan. It was a speech John Reid or David Blunkett could happily have made. And he went out of his way – in a speech evidently prepared by FCO officials – to note the need to include Afghanistan’s “northern neighbours” in an Afghan settlement.

So frredom and democracy for Central Asia are completely off the agenda. What is on the agenda is an acceptance of the regime propaganda that there are no alternatives but rapacious dictatorships and Islamic fundamentalism. That kind of false dichotomy is sustenance to the armaments and securityindustry interests that dominate our foreign policy and control our politicians.

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Sky News Exclusive – Inside the World of the Taliban Sandbank Squads

BIGGER THAN 9/11

MOD sources have revealed exclusively to Sky that the Taliban attack on HMS Astute could have been “Bigger Than 9/11”. As Sky correspondent Adam Ramsay was told exclusively by Taliban commander Hilal-al-Wemadeituppy, a crack Taliban team planted the Improvised Sandbank Device that almost destroyed HMS Astute on Friday.

not%20so%20astute.jpg

HMS Astute Disabled By Deadly Taliban ISD Attack

Now MOD and security service sources have told Sky security correspondent Oswald Moseley that this attack was potentially “Bigger than 9/11”. This is the 435th such potentially bigger than 9/11 attack since 9/11.

Sky can exclusively reveal that, if the contact with the Improvised Sandbank Device or ISD had caused an explosion in the nuclear reactor on board HMS Astute, it could have wiped out the two hundred million people living on the North West Coast of Scotland.

John Reid, former Home Secretary, told Sky News that this was evidence that the Islamic threat was now potentially more destructive than a full scale nuclear war with China.

AN OVERWHELMING CASE FOR 196 DAY DETENTION

Lord Blair, formerly Head of the Metropolitan police, believes that Britian must now strengthen anti-terrorism legislation and re-open investigations into thousands of Muslims who have been searched or arrested and released.

“IIn the past we have concentrated on looking for potential bomb ingredients like sugar or domestos. We now realise that many suspected terrorist houses, where insufficient evidence could be found for a prosecution, in fact contained sand. This was often found in the garden. It was very often cunningly disguised as a playpit. All reasonable people must deplore the use of children as a front for terrorism. We believe that sand may also have been cunningly incorporated into the very fabric of some of these homes.”

Sky News can exclusively reveal that Lord Blair’s remarks have reopened debate on the vexed question of Detention Without Charge. Top security analyst Rupert Mussolini believes that the sandbank threat proves suspects should be detained for much longer periods to give the police time to think up a ludicrous pretext. “If you are going to bang people up without reason for 28 days, why not 196?” he asks.

BRITISH MUSLIMS IN SECRET AL-QAIDA TRAINING CAMPS

In the past, it has been revealed exclusively by Sky News that Muslims engaged in any form of sport or outdoor activity, such as skiing or white water rafting, are actually engaged in Al-Qaida team building exercises. Only now do we realise the full extent of such activity in intensive training camps actually here in the UK to give secret training in the preparation of Improvised Sandbank Devices (ISDs).

deadly%20al-qaida%20training.jpg

Deadly Sandbank Training

HISTORICAL ROOTS

Military historian Andrew Mengele has explained exclusively to Sky News that Muslims would be incapable of thinking up a tactic like the Impovised Sandbank Device (ISD) for themselves, but were taught it by the British.

Dr Mengele explained “Many military historians like myself beliive that the Improvised Sandbank Device, or ISD as we military historians call it, was intoduced into Islamic culture by that great master tactician of guerilla warfare, Lawrence of Arabia”.

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Lawrence of Arabia With Prototype Sandbank

IRA LINK TO AL-QAIDA

In an interesting twist, Sky’s Northern Ireland correspondent John Knoxkingbilly can exclusively reveal to Sky viewers that the security services in Northern Ireland believe that the ISD provides further evidence of tactical and ideological linkages between al-Qaida and the IRA.

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The Riddle of the Sands

There is, apparently, no end to the fanaticism of the Taliban menace, of which the Improvised Sandbank Device is but the latest manifestation of an infinite threat. In the chilling words of Taliban Commander Hilal-al-Wemadeituppy, talking exclusively to our Chief Correspondent Adam Ramsay, “We will fight them with the beaches, Inshallah”.

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The Poison From Afghanistan

Foreign policy is a nexus of issues and relationships.. Once you get an important issue seriously wrong, it has ramifications across the whole. A seriously misguided enterprise like the occupation of Afghanistan spreads its poison across whole areas of foreign policy.

Only one such consequence, but a very bad one, is British support for the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian dictatorships. This is based on our “need” for Uzbekistan as a transit route for supplies to Afghanistan.

I had already noted the extraordinary enthusiasm of the current British Ambassador for promoting the Uzbek regime and apologising for past “misunderstandings” over Uzbekistan’s political system.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/04/britain_boosts.html

Now Joy is actively promoting Gulnara Karimova’s activities in the world of Fashion TV. That Chopard and Prado are shallow enough to be gulled by Gulnara’s billions is par for the course. For the British Ambassador to flank her at a press conference for her fashion show is unforgivable.

http://inteltrends.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/british-diplomats-toadying-to-uzbek-dictators-daughter/

Note that the headline “British Diplomats Toadying to Uzbek Dictator’s Daughter” was written by Uzbeks, not by me.

The policy of backing dictators is in my view wrong in principle. But even in terms of realpolitik, it depends on a judgement of whether you believe extreme repression in Uzbekistan stops or increases the prospect of Islamic extremist violence. I think extreme regimes spawn violence and instability. The British government now has its money firmly on the dictator.

The real motivation is short term support for military occupation of Afghanistan. The Northern supply route, or “Northern Distribution Network” as the Pentagon calls it, is all important. I highly commend to you this extremely revealing report for the Center for Security and International Studies in the US.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4RNWN_enGB325GB325&q=CSIS+Center+for+Security

Now the CSIS are bought and paid for cheerleaders for the Karimov regime and unquestioning supporters of the war in Afghanistan. They are extremely well connected in Washington and have excellent sources. This paper is a fairly definitive guide to the State Department view of Central Asia – and nowadays the FCO view of Central Asia is what the State Department tells them it is.

The CSIS position is reflected, for example, in the characterisation of the Andijan massacre as an “uprising”. Human rights and democracy are never mentioned as factors in the discussion of US relations with Uzbekistan. But nonetheless the paper does make some highly revealing statements:

The NDN was designed to provide redundancy to this critical Pakistan supply line and to help handle the surge of supplies associated with an increase of 21,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009 and, with the recent announcement by the Obama administration, an additional 30,000 troops in 2010. This obvious need and vulnerability has placed the United States’ Afghanistan war resupply squarely in the hands of other nations….

The first misunderstanding concerned priorities and expectations. In the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia, the elite’s top national priority?”its overriding policy consideration?”is to maintain its hold on power. Additional considerations can and do exist, but they are necessarily secondary in the absence of democratic mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power. An attendant expectation is that international cooperation should strengthen the regime’s hold on power. At the very least, it cannot under any circumstances weaken it….

Crony capitalism and the enmeshment of ruling dynasties in moneymaking schemes mean that commercial shippers servicing the NDN are almost certain to be woven into the dense nexus of personal and state interests that characterize post-Soviet business.

This last is a very interesting admission. I have reported previously that Gulnara Karimova is making hundreds of millions of dollars from Pentagon supply contracts. Here you see it admitted, with a slight cover of academic coyness.

The core funding for the CSIS project is from Carnegie, and one of the authors, Andrew Kuchins, is a former director of the Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The CEIP this summer published a paper on much the same subject “written” by a certain “Professor” Gulnara Islamovna Karimova. Strangely Carnegie did not mention that she was the dictator’s daughter. The article in Gulnara’s name discusses supply to Afghanistan without mentioning her personal commercial interest in it. Yet again an example of the respectability the Washington establishment is trying to confer upon the Karimovs.

http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=41422&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+carnegie/afghanistan+%28DC+-+Region+-+Afghanistan%29

I gather that a visit by Hillary to visit Karimov is planned before the end of the year.

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Death of Linda Norgrove

There is no cause to doubt that the US killed Linda Norgrove accidentally. My sorrow for her and her family is the same as that I feel for the thousands of entirely innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians killed in US airstrikes.

Nor do I diminsih the responsibility of her captors. But nonetheless, the most worrying point of thw whole incident is the lie propagated by NATO that she was killed by a suicide vest wearing captor.

The suicide vest is of course a potent symbol of Islamic fundamentalist violence, and by invoking it NATO were not only lying about who killed Norgrove, they were reinforcing the image of her captors as religious fanatics, as opposed to local tribesmen.

Most of the Afghan resistance consists of locals motivated by ethnic and cultural factors defending their own soil. The characterisation of them all as Taliban is a bit of propaganda bought wholesale by the media. These may have been local partisans, or just ransom seekers. They may have been hiding a motivation behind a religious facade. There is no evidence I am aware of that the hostage takers wished to die themselves. That is why the “Linda Norgrove killed by suicide vest” lie is key.

So it is very important that an inquiry establishes not just the truth about who killed Linda Norgrove, but whether there was a suicide vest at all anywhere in the incident. Fabric is seldom destroyed by explosion, rather shredded and partially burnt. If the suicide vest is a complete invention, that would be an outrageous lie by NATO.

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Scarey Europe

Maintaining support for the permanent occupation of Afghanistan on the extraordinary grounds that it protects us from terrorism at home is difficult enough, but made harder by the absence of any credible Islamic terrorist incidents in the West in recent years.

The 2,000 Islamic extremists in the UK of whom Jonathan Evans warned us in 2007 that they posed “a grave threat to national security” have in the ensuing three years managed to kill a grand total of, umm, nobody.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/nov/06/alqaida.politics

Now if I were a vicious extremist suicide bomber, careless of my own life, indeed anxious to die in a glorious cause, I would undoubtedly over three years have managed to kill somebody, somewhere. If there were two thousand of me, at least someone positively must have succeeded in killing somebody. Lone nutters like the neo-Nazi who bombed gays a decade ago can wreak havoc, so 2,000 people, many of them in cells and networks? The UK should be littered with bodies. Yet not one.

The only possible conclusion is that Jonathan Evans was talking scaremongering bullshit. For which you and I pay him £165,000 a year plus accommodation and car and index-linked pension.

Anyway, fortunately for support for the war, the State Department has been able to issue a warning that there is definitely an active plot to do something, somewhere in Europe.

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Europe-Terror-Warning-US-State-Department-Warns-Of-Attack-And-Britons-Urged-To-Be-Vigilant/Article/201010115750223?lpos=World_News_Carousel_Region_1&lid=ARTICLE_15750223_Europe_Terror_Warning%3A_US_State_Department_Warns_Of_Attack_And_Britons_Urged_To_Be_Vigilant

Old news, you may scoff. Indeed. But I can reveal to you from my own sources that this again depends in large part on information from the Uzbek secret service torture chambers, passed to the German security services. Germany continues to occupy the Termez airbase in Uzbekistan for NATO supply into Afghanistan, and continues to receive Uzbek natural gas via Gazprom.

The US has opened negotiations in Tashkent to increase still further the “Northern supply route” into Afghanistan through Uzbekistan, using Gulnara Karimova, the dictator’s daughter, as the supply contractor. This is in light of continuing disruption to supply convoys through the Khyber Pass.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11489955

As usual, lack of interest by western media and public in Uzbekistan enables British, German and American government collusion with Uzbekistan’s vicious totalitarian regime to pass unremarked – even though yet another dissident journalist, Abdulmalik Boboyev, faces a long hell in one of Uzbekistan’s notorious gulags. Not a word of protest from the West, despite the fact that his crime is working for the Voice of America.

This from Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Journalist Abdulmalik Boboyev is facing a possible five-year jail sentence for working for the US-funded Voice of America radio station in the trial that began today in Tashkent, the capital of one of Central Asia’s most repressive countries, Uzbekistan.

He is one of Uzbekistan’s few remaining independent reporters and his trial could signal the start of a new offensive against journalists who persist in gathering and disseminating news and information that is not controlled by President Islam Karimov’s government.

Everything about the case is political, from the defendant to the charges and the probable outcome. The trial will almost certainly be a sham. Boboyev has fallen prey to a dictatorial regime that has been reinforcing its control over the media for the past five years and constantly violates human rights.

But the international community had decided that it is in its interest to look the other way and support this appalling regime. If Boboyev become Uzbekistan’s 12th imprisoned journalist, it will constitute another serious failure of this policy of rapprochement.

The Uzbek authorities could still change course in this case if they want to embark on a real dialogue with their partners, above all the European Union and the United States. We urge them to do so.

A total of four charges were brought against Boboyev on 13 September. Three of them relate to his work as a journalist: defamation (article 139 of the criminal code), insult (article 140) and “preparing and disseminating material constituting a threat to public order and security” (article 244-1). The fourth is a trumped-up charge of “illegal entry into the country” (article 223). He was banned from leaving Uzbekistan the same day.

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Julian Assange Gets The Bog Standard Smear Technique

The Russians call it Kompromat – the use by the state of sexual accusations to destroy a public figure. When I was attacked in this way by the government I worked for, Uzbek dissidents smiled at me, shook their heads and said “Kompromat“. They were used to it from the Soviet and Uzbek governments. They found it rather amusing to find that Western governments did it too.

Well, Julian Assange has been getting the bog standard Kompromat. I had imagined he would get something rather more spectacular, like being framed for murder and found hanging with an orange in his mouth. He deserves a better class of kompromat. If I am a whistleblower, then Julian is a veritable mighty pipe organ. Yet we just have the normal sex stuff, and very weak.

Bizarrely the offence for which Julian is wanted for questioning in Sweden was dropped from rape to sexual harassment, and then from sexual harassment to just harassment. The precise law in Swedish, as translated for me and other Sam Adams alumni by our colleague Major Frank Grevil, reads:

“He who lays hands on or by means of shooting from a firearm, throwing of stones, noise or in any other way harasses another person will be sentenced for harassment to fines or imprisonment for up to one year.”

So from rape to non-sexual something. Actually I rather like that law – if we had it here, I could have had Jack Straw locked up for a year.

Julian tells us that the first woman accuser and prime mover had worked in the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC and had been expelled from Cuba for anti-Cuban government activity, as well as the rather different persona of being a feminist lesbian who owns lesbian night clubs.

Scott Ritter and I are well known whistleblowers subsequently accused of sexual offences. A less well known whistleblower is James Cameron, another FCO employee. Almost simultaneous with my case, a number of the sexual allegations the FCO made against Cameron were identical even in wording to those the FCO initially threw at me.

Another fascinating point about kompromat is that being cleared of the allegations – as happens in virtually every case – doesn’t help, as the blackening of reputation has taken effect. In my own case I was formerly cleared of all allegations of both misconduct and gross misconduct, except for the Kafkaesque charge of having told defence witnesses of the existence of the allegations. The allegations were officially a state secret, even though it was the government who leaked them to the tabloids.

Yet, even to this day, the FCO has refused to acknowledge in public that I was in fact cleared of all charges. This is even true of the new government. A letter I wrote for my MP to pass to William Hague, complaining that the FCO was obscuring the fact that I was cleared on all charges, received a reply from a junior Conservative minister stating that the allegations were serious and had needed to be properly investigated – but still failing to acknowledge the result of the process. Nor has there been any official revelation of who originated these “serious allegations”.

Governments operate in the blackest of ways, especially when it comes to big war money and big oil money. I can see what they are doing to Julian Assange, I know what they did to me and others (another recent example – Brigadier Janis Karpinski was framed for shoplifting). In a very real sense, it makes little difference if they murdered David Kelly or terrified him into doing it himself. Telling the truth is hazardous in today’s Western political system.

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Julian Assange wins Sam Adams Award for Integrity

The award is judged by a group of retired senior US military and intelligence personnel, and past winners. This year the award to Julian Assange was unanimous.

Previous winners and ceremony locations:

Coleen Rowley of the FBI; in Washington, D.C.

Katharine Gun of British intelligence; in Copenhagen, Denmark

Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; in Washington, D.C.

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; in New York City

Sam Provance, former sergeant, U.S. Army, truth-teller about Abu Ghraib; in Washington, D.C.

Frank Grevil, major, Danish army intelligence, imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s prime minister disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMDs in Iraq; in Copenhagen, Denmark

Larry Wilkerson, colonel, U.S. Army (retired), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who has exposed what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal”; in Washington, D.C.

http://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2010/08/15/can-wikileaks-help-save-lives/

Not sure yet where this year’s award ceremony will be held, but I’ll be there.

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Keeping Up With The Afghan Disaster

As of 1pm, the BBC were still running a piece recorded about twelve hours ago on McChrystal’s sacking. It included the observation that the military strategy was not plainly succeeding, given the 76 NATO dead in June alone.

Keep up. That was twelve hours ago. It is now 83 dead, including 4 more Brits.

That does not mention the 412 Nato wounded in June alone as well.

When will they stop this madness?

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The War Falls Apart

General Stanley McChrystal has tendered his resignation (not necessarily accepted) as the rows about his crazy surge and plans to make Jalalabad a second Fallujah spill out into the public domain.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100044536/breaking-general-stanley-mcchrystal-tenders-his-resignation/

UK Special Envoy Sherard Cowper-Coles – who is less keen on killing people but believes we should occupy Afghanistan for at least a generation – has been sent away on extended leave to lie down for a few weeks in a darkened room.

Meanwhile the activists of the Democrats are finally getting their arses into gear in a serious way. This is just one of scores of examples:

http://www.democrats.com/oppose-33-billion-war-supplemental-for-2010?cid=ZGVtczU3MjU1OGRlbXM%3D

The Danes, Poles and Canadians are planning to leave, and it was curiously the US reaction to the Israeli attack on Turkish vessels that lifted the taboo at NATO HQ on questioning the wisdom of following the US approach in Afghanistan.

Meantime a gentleman name Shahzad, unrepentant Times Square attempted bomber, demolished the entire rationale for the Afghan War. No matter how the tabloids portray it –

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/06/23/times-square-bomber-s-rant-i-am-a-muslim-soldier-i-m-guilty-100-times-over-115875-22352961/

the import of Shahzad’s words is plain:

Replying to judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum’s questions over whether he feared killing children, Shahzad said: “I consider myself… a Muslim soldier. It’s a war. I am part of the answer to the US terrorising the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. On behalf of that, I’m revenging the attack.

“Living in the United States, Americans only care about their people but they don’t care about people elsewhere in the world when they die.” Shahzad told the court he armed his vehicle with three separate devices – a fertiliser-fuelled bomb packed in a gun cabinet, a set of propane tanks and gas canisters rigged with fireworks.

He added if America did not get out of Iraq and Afghanistan “we will be attacking the US”.

The notion that occupying Afghanistan prevents terrorism at home is plainly, in the words of Richard Barrett, formr head of counter-terrorism at MI6, “Absolute rubbish”.

Mr Barrett, who formerly headed counter-terrorism for the Secret Intelligence Service, dismissed the argument advanced by British ministers that the presence of 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan would reduce the threat to the UK.

“That’s complete rubbish. I’ve never heard such nonsense,” he said, warning that the presence of foreign troops risked inflaming anti-western sentiment among British Muslim communities.

“I’m quite sure if there were no foreign toops in Afghanistan, there’d be less agitation in Leeds, or wherever, about Pakistanis extremely upset and suspicious about what Western intentions are in Afghanistan and Pakistan”

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/06/losing_afghanis.html#comments

Interestingly enough precisely the same points – that they had intended to attack as part of the war in Afghanistan – were made in court in the UK by Blackburn’s Ishaq Kanmi and Krenar Lusha when they were convicted recently of terrorist offences, but nowhere does this seem to be reported in the UK media.

I am now hopeful that we are approaching the end of the occupation of Afghanistan as the facts on the ground make the propaganda of the hawks irrelevant. If NATO does not wish to admit defeat, then it has only weeks to kick start serious work on a negotiated settlement with the Pashtun which it can claim as a reason to withdraw.

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Losing Afghanistan

The 300th British soldier killed n the Afghan War died today. The poor fellow survived for eight days before giving up in a Birmingham hospital. His injuries must have been appalling and that should remind us of the thousands of British soldiers maimed who did not die, some of whom sometimes wish they had.

Afghan casualties are, of course, very many times higher, with the additional horror that at least six Afghan civilians have been killed for every Afghan fighter.

We immediately have David Cameron and Liam Fox spewing out the standard propaganda about the occupation of Afghanistan making the world a safer place. This is quite simply a ludicrous proposition, and one to which the security, military and diplomatic establishments do not subscribe.

Listen to Richard Barrett, former head of counter-terrorism at MI6 and now UN co-ordinator on international terrorism:

Mr Barrett, who formerly headed counter-terrorism for the Secret Intelligence Service, dismissed the argument advanced by British ministers that the presence of 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan would reduce the threat to the UK.

“That’s complete rubbish. I’ve never heard such nonsense,” he said, warning that the presence of foreign troops risked inflaming anti-western sentiment among British Muslim communities.

“I’m quite sure if there were no foreign toops in Afghanistan, there’d be less agitation in Leeds, or wherever, about Pakistanis extremely upset and suspicious about what Western intentions are in Afghanistan and Pakistan”

Financial Times June 14 2010

That is self-evidently true. The notion that 9/11 could only have been planned from Afghanistan is self-evidently nonsense. Our occupation of Afghanistan did not stop 7/7 or Madrid or Bali. The danger of Kyrgyzstan just to the north becoming another totally failed state is apparently not even worth the expense of a tiny Embassy to see what is happening; compare the incredible sums poured into Afghanistan. And it is plainly and demonstrably true that our occupation of Afghanistan stokes anti-Western feeling in Islamic communities.

At least, with the electoral fraudster and corrupt drug dealer Karzai and his mob being propped up by us as a puppet government, British ministers have stopped even claiming we have brought democracy to Afghanistan.

The key question is whether Cameron and Fox actually believe this nonsense about propping up Karzai to keep us safe at home. It was promonted in Brown’s No 10 as a cynical propaganda line following focus group testing of what argument would best “sell” the war. Has Cameron, like Blair, reached the level of political mountebank where mendacity and self-delusion become indivisible?

We are only one 12 months away from the date Obama set to start drawing down troop numbers. McChrystal’s “surge” has done the opposite of awe the resistance – according to the UN, attacks are up 94% on their 2009 levels. The coming disaster of the attack on Jalalabad – McChrystal’s “strategy” – keeps being postponed as the stupidity of it becomes increasingly clear in the detail.

The Danes and Canadians are both withdrawing troops in 2011. The Polish Prime Minister last week called for NATO withdrawal. Those are the three major fighting contingents apart from the UK and US. The Danes have even worse casualty rates than us. By 2011 defeat will look very close.

This is a tribal war. The laughably named “Afghan National Army” we are supporting is 75% Tajik and Uzbek. The Afghan fighters against us are 75% Pashtun. We simply took sides in the civil war – the losing side. The Pashtun (whom Western commentators almost universally and completely wrongly label as all Taliban – less than25% of Afghan fighters would call themselves Talib) know that they will win again when we are gone.

In at most five years time, we will be gone, Karzai will be gone. Those we made our enemies – the vast majority of whom, including most of the Taliban leadership, had never had wished harm to the UK until we occupied them – will be in power.

If our aim is genuinely to avoid harm to the UK, we should start negotiating with them now our orderly but swift departure from the country, and what peaceful development support we will be able to offer to their government.

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Afghanistan: Heading Into Disaster

I seem unable to switch on a news channel nowadays without seeing a caption announcing the death of another poor young British soldier in Afghanistan. NATO has in June so far lost and average of precisely 3 soldiers killed every day, with a multiple of that injured.

Two events yesterday highlighted the deterioration in the NATO position. A Blackhawk helicopter was taken down, indicating that the Afghan resistance have regained access to effective missiles, while a 50 truck supply convoy was attacked and destroyed in Pakistan – not in Waziristan, but just outside Islamabad. That is perhaps the most significant news of all.

Afghans themselves are of course suffering much more than NATO,

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/10/afghanistan-kandahar-wedding-party-explosion

All of this to maintain in power the fraudster Karzai and the gang of heroin warlords who make up his government, and promote the “Northern Alliance” tribes who comprise the laughably named “Afghan National Army” against the Pashtuns.

By my calculation, this month Afghanistan overtakes Vietnam as the United States’ longest running war. I haven’t seen that referenced anywhere, so grateful for views on that. The international consequences of this war are still more disastrous, while there is no reason to believe it will be militarily more succesful. The attempt to impose by brute military force an alien ideology on the Afghan people, is doomed to failure.

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Hague in Afghanistan

There has been a welcome lack of triumphalism from the Tory visit to Afghanistan and, unless I have missed it, a welcome lack of posing in body armour and camouflage gear. The talk has been of speeding up the training of the Afghan National Army so we can leave. This is of course a figleaf – the Afghan National Army is an anti-Pashtun alliance with US weapons, and will never be able to control the country. But the pragmatic desire to get out of there, whatever the excuse, is welcome.

I have been much heartened to see Bill Patey very close with the delegation, as UK Ambassador to Afghanistan. Bill’s predecessor, Sherard Cowper Coles, famously advocated that we should remain in military occupation for decades more to try to improve Afghanistan. I can guarantee that Bill will have no such crazed notions.

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