Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Global supply of rare earth elements could be wiped out by 2012

Global supply of rare earth elements could be wiped out by 2012

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor,

It's the bubble you've probably never heard of: The rare earth bubble. And it's due to pop in 2012, potentially devastating the industries of western nations that depend on these rare elements.

What industries are those? The automobile industry uses tens of thousands of tons of rare earth elements each year, and advanced military technology depends on these elements, too. Lots of "green" technologies depend on them, including wind turbines, low-energy light bulbs and hybrid car batteries. In fact, much of western civilization depends on rare earth elements such as terbium, lanthanum and neodymium.

So what's the problem with these rare elements? 97 percent of the world's supply comes from mines in China, and China is prepared to simply stop exporting these strategic elements to the rest of the world by 2012.

If that happens, the western world will be crippled by the collapse of available rare earth elements. Manufacturing of everything from computers and electronics to farm machinery will grind to a halt. Electronics will disappear from the shelves and prices for manufactured goods that depend on these rare elements will skyrocket.

These 17 rare earth elements (REE) -- all of which are metals -- are strategic resources upon which entire nations are built. In many ways, they are similar to rubber -- a resource so valuable and important to the world that many experts call it the "fourth most important natural resource in the world," right after water, steel and oil. Without rubber, you couldn't drive your car to work or water your lawn. Many medical technologies would cease to work and virtually all commercial construction would grind to a halt.

Many of the strategic battles fought in World War II were fought, in fact, over control of rubber, most of which now comes through Singapore and its surrounding regions (Malaysia and Indonesia).

Global shortage of Rare Earth Elements coming...

Now, by threatening to cut off the world's supply of rare earth elements, China appears to be attempting to monopolize this extremely important strategic resource. According to information received by The Independent, by 2012 China may cease all exports of rare earth elements, reserving them for its own economic expansion.

An article in that paper quotes REE expert Jack Lifton as saying, "A real crunch is coming. In America, Britain and elsewhere we have not yet woken up to the fact that there is an urgent need to secure the supply of rare earths from sources outside China."

And yet virtually no one has heard of this problem! People are familiar with peak oil, global warming, ocean acidification, the national debt and the depletion of fossil water, but very few are aware of the looming crisis in rare metals... upon which much of western civilization rests.

For those who still aren't convinced this is a big deal, consider this: Without rare earth elements, we would have no iPhones. Yeah, I know. That's a disaster, huh?

We would have no fiber optic cables, either. No X-ray machines, no car stereos and no high-tech missile guidance systems for the military. And here's the real kicker: No electric motors.

Demand outstrips supply

The problem with the supply of rare earth elements is that demand has skyrocketed over the last decade from 40,000 tons to 120,000 tons. Meanwhile, China has been cutting its exports. Now, it only exports about 30,000 tons a year -- only one-fourth of the demand the world needs.

In order to build more "green" technologies, the world will need 200,000 tons of rare earth elements by 2014, predicts The Independent. Yet China now threatens to drop exports to exactly zero tons by 2012.

It isn't hard to do the math on this: Without China's exports, the western world will quickly run out of rare earth elements.

Kiss your "green" wind turbines good-bye. And your Toyota Prius production lines, too. No more iPhones and iPods either. Without these rare earth elements, entire industries grind to a halt.

Can we mine it elsewhere?

China isn't the only geographic region where these rare earth elements are found, but constructing mines to pull these elements out of the ground takes many years. Some mines are under construction right now in other countries that could help fill the demand for REEs, but making them operational is "five to ten years away," says Lifton.

That means these other mines won't really be operational until 2015 - 2020. Meanwhile, China could cut off its supply in 2012. That leaves a 3-7 year gap in which these rare earth elements will be in disastrously short supply.

This brings up a couple of very important realizations related to investments:

It is almost certain that the prices for rare earth elements will skyrocket over the next 2 - 5 years. This creates a huge investment opportunity for people willing to take a risk and bet their money on rising prices of these metals.

There's another big investment opportunity here, too: Recycling rare earth elements. As prices leap higher, it will become more economically feasible to harvest rare earth elements out of garbage dumps and landfills where people are discarding electronics such as motors, computers, sound systems and other such items.

Some smart entrepreneur will no doubt make a fortune by setting up and operating a rare earth element reclamation operation of some kind. These elements, after all, aren't destroyed when they're thrown away. They sit around in the trash for eons, just waiting to be reclaimed and re-used.

Lead, for example, is a metal that is successfully recycled today. Something like 85% of all the lead used in America today is reclaimed out of lead-acid batteries and other similar devices. If similar programs could be initiated for the rare metals, we could go a long way towards meeting society's demand for these elements without having to keep mining them out of the ground.

Because let's face it: Mining these rare earth elements is a very DIRTY business. That's part of the contradiction in "green" technologies, by the way: To manufacture them, you need rare metals mined out of ecologically disastrous operations in China. It's the (literal) "dirty little secret" of the green industry. All these wind turbines, solar panels, hybrid car batteries and fiber optics may seem green to the consumer, but behind them there's a very dirty mining business that rapes the planet and pollutes the rivers in order to recover these "green" rare metals.

In any case, unless scientists find less-rare alternatives to many of these rare earth metals, we are looking at a serious global supply crunch for the years 2012 - 2020. Add the "rare earth elements bubble" to your list of other bubbles to watch out for in the years ahead.

Some of the 17 rare earth elements

Dysprosium - Makes electric motor magnets 90% lighter

Terbium - Makes electric lights 80% more efficient

Neodymium - Used in motor magnets

Lanthanum - Used for hydrogen storage

Praseodymium - Used in lasers and ceramic materials

Gadolinium - Used to manufacture computer memory

Erbium - Used in the manufacture of vanadium steel

Ytterbium - Used to make infrared lasers

Sources for this story include: The Independent, New York Times, The Independent, Wikipedia

Related book: The Strategic Metals Warby Jim Sinclair

~ ~ ~

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rethinking China's Peaceful Rise

January 23, 2010

By Charles Grant

Have Western attitudes to the rise of China been based on wishful thinking? China's increasingly tough approach to diplomacy is leading governments in the U.S. and in Europe to rethink their policies towards China. Western leaders are starting to question some of the optimistic assumptions on which those policies have been based.

Until very recently, many Western bankers, business people and politicians were broadly optimistic about the rise of China. They assumed that as China became more developed it would become more Western. As it integrated into the global economy its society would open up, it would play a constructive role in multilateral institutions, and it would help Western governments sort out key foreign policy challenges. China's leaders seemed to understand that their top priority - the economic development of their country - required friendly relations with other major powers, notably the U.S.


Sign Up

Charles Grant Europe
United States China
[+] More
There has also been a pessimistic view of China's rise, held by people in the U.S. defence establishment, some right-wing think-tanks and the human rights lobbies. They have argued that as China develops it is becoming more assertive, less willing to compromise with the West, less welcoming to foreign investors and more repressive politically. Like other rising powers throughout history, the pessimists have thought, China would disrupt the international system. They have pointed to China's soaring defence budget as support for their case.

Of course, both views have been based on truth. China is not a monolithic entity. Within the leadership, many institutions and personal and ideological factions compete for power. But until recently the optimists dominated Western views of China. I was an optimist when, two years ago, I wrote (with Katinka Barysch) Can Europe and China Shape a New World Order? Our report argued that China was evolving into the "responsible global stakeholder" that Robert Zoellick had urged it to become when he was US deputy secretary of state.

Over the past year the optimists have found it increasingly difficult to sustain their view. There are still examples of China being helpful - for example, it has sent ships to catch pirates in the Indian Ocean, and engaged in G20 discussions - but overall it has become a much pricklier partner.

China's foreign policy has become more assertive. Its claims to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh have become more vociferous. It is being less helpful to the West over the Iranian nuclear problem - and has become more hostile than Russia to further sanctions on Iran. Its treatment of the EU is sometimes contemptuous - it cancelled one summit and regularly punishes countries whose leaders meet the Dalai Lama in an official setting. Western governments have suffered increasingly powerful cyber-attacks that have been traced to mainland China.

China's political system has become more repressive. Moves to introduce greater democracy into local government and the Communist Party have faltered. Dissidents are facing a tougher time. In December Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for organising a pro-democracy petition.

China's economic policies have become more nationalist. Many foreign investors in China complain about exclusion from key markets and unofficial forms of discrimination. China's manipulation of its currency downwards, driven by a mercantilist desire to boost exports and foreign currency reserves, exacerbates the problem of global economic imbalances and is fuelling protectionist sentiment in other countries.

Recent events have brought home to public opinion in the West how China is changing. At the Copenhagen climate change conference in December, China worked hard behind the scenes to scupper the kind of deal that Western countries and many poor nations wanted (at one point it sent a deputy foreign minister to negotiate with Barack Obama). And this month Google has said that it may leave China because of cyber attacks on its business and increasingly stringent internet censorship.

If one talks to people in China about the troubled state of relations between China and the West, many of them are baffled. They know little of the incidents that have caused problems, which are unreported in the Chinese media. They say that most Chinese people are focused on domestic issues - such as jobs, pollution and soaring house prices - rather than foreign policy.

So the source of China's tougher line seems to be the leadership, rather than pressure from the people. Three factors may explain why hard-liners are winning more arguments within the leadership.

China's economy has performed impressively during the global recession, growing by 9 per cent in 2009. Meanwhile the Western economic model is viewed as discredited. China's leaders would not be human if they did not feel a bit cocky - especially since they have been on the receiving end of patronising lectures from Western leaders about the superiority of Western capitalism. The emerging super-power feels it has the right to assert its own interests more forcefully.

Yet China's leaders feel insecure. The unrest in Tibet (in 2008) and Xinjiang (in 2009) caught them by surprise. Rapid economic growth and urbanisation are creating huge social tensions. Endemic corruption makes local party bureaucrats unpopular. The booming housing market - fuelled by the government selling land to property speculators - means that many young middle class people cannot afford to buy flats. Few Chinese people want Western-style democracy, but the leaders know their legitimacy is built on thin foundations. Hence their reluctance to allow a more open society.

The current leadership, led by Hu Jintao and Wen Xiabao, is due to hand over to the 'fifth generation' of leaders in 2012. There is much manoeuvring for position. The machinations within Zhongnanhai, where the top communists live and work, are impossible to decipher. But some key figures seem to be pushing a nationalist line in order to boost their support among party cadres. In China, as in most countries, nationalist policies can be popular.

American attitudes to China are palpably hardening. At some point this year the US may declare China to be a currency manipulator and then apply protectionist measures. The EU finds it very difficult to get tough with anyone. But European leaders are increasingly critical of China, at least in private. China's leaders should not assume that European markets will remain open to them indefinitely.

China's attitude to international relations is ultra-realist. It will take what it can get, while respecting power and facts. But China's leaders may have miscalculated by underestimating the impact of their harder line on Washington and European capitals. How well-informed are the people in Jonghnanhai? Do they receive objective reports on how Chinese words and actions impact on Western political systems? And do they care what Western leaders think?

Undoubtedly, there are Chinese leaders who stand by the premise of the 'peaceful rise' slogan - that China's economic development requires some modesty in international affairs and good relations with the West. When the most senior leaders see that their current approach may spur several powerful countries to work together to contain China, they may wish to modify their course. But if they maintain the hard line for a prolonged period, China's relations with the West will become very tense. Free trade and the world economy may well suffer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tehran, Islamabad to sign IPI accord next week

TEHRAN – Iran and Pakistan have resolved all issues concerning the long-pending Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project (dubbed peace pipeline) and both the countries are likely to sign a deal soon, Pakistan Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar said.

Talking to media persons in Islamabad, he added that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project has been finalized and an accord is likely to be inked in this regard next week, the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network reported.

The IPI project was conceived in 1995 and after almost 13 years India finally decided to quit the project in 2008.

The Pakistani official said Islamabad and Tehran are posed to sign an accord for the construction of a pipeline next week. The proposed pipeline is 2,775 km long and dubbed as the Peace Pipeline, connecting Iran-Pakistan and India. However, for the time being India is reluctant to join the contract because of New Delhi’s concerns over its safety and some unresolved border issues with Pakistan. The negotiations have been going on for many years involving Iran, Pakistan and India. Iran’s enormous gas reserves are ideally suited to supply massive amounts of gas to both Pakistan and India on long-term basis, thus helping ease the energy requirements of the two giant developing nations. Iran holds world’s second-largest gas reserves after Russia.

India was also a part of the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, but walked out of the 2,775 km pipeline project mainly due to the hefty transit fee demanded by Islamabad.

Also the United States as an outside player, fearing further economic developments of India and Pakistan, has been working round the clock by using all possible means to prevent the deal to become a reality.

Experts believe from the Western point of view, any additional progress alongside the remarkable developments in East Asia, especially China would be a direct threat to Western global hegemony.

India and Pakistan with a combined population of nearly 1.5 billion could become the next Asian powerhouses only if they could have better access to inexpensive and long-term energy sources such as the natural gas.

Monday, January 18, 2010


The "dark figures are that inevitably are found to be lurking in the background and foreground" of Stephen Harper. (Chabad Lubavitch)

Dear Readers,

The following article by Christopher Bollyn is a great asset for any Canadian citizen caught up in the massive web of deceit known as the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its attendant handmaiden, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

After two years of clashing swords with these two organizations due to the machinations of B'nai Brith Canada and the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada's B.C. representative, Harry Abrams, who, along with 'the League', laid a ec. 13 "hate crimes" complaint against both myself and my website back in November of 2007, I have uncovered a vast amount of hidden information on this secret masonic International Jewish society that Mr. Bollyn discusses in his most poignant of articles below.

In light of all the recent controversy over the actions of Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Zionist henchman, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, with respect to their blatant pro-Israeli, pro-Zionist policies and their attacks and accusations made against Christian and non-Christian organizations and individuals here in Canada, it should not come as a great surprise to see that former U.S. President Harry Truman, was, like Harper, deeply connected and controlled by these very same forces that continue seeking to undermine all the democratic nations of the world.

In fact, from all of my research over the past few years, it's quite apparent that other U.S. Presidents were in the same compromising boat, most notably President Wilson and Roosevelt, the two men who were supposedly leaders of the free world during the two major Zionist-induced wars of the 20th Century.

Bollyn's sage advice to take the first step by identify who these dark figures are that inevitably are found to be lurking in the background and foreground of all the major political leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries ought to be taken to heart by anyone concerned about our loss of freedom of speech and the ongoing subterfuge surrounding these foreign Jewish lobbyist organizations' attempts to take control of the Internet via whatever devious means they can devise.

The danger, always, when it comes to "leaders," be they Presidents, Prime Ministers or Kings, is that they become extremely susceptible to these nefarious, sinister forces that love the darkness and anonymity which their secret societies give them and thus allow them full measure to insinuate themselves within the corridors of our touted democratic institutions in order to work their demonic magic upon sovereign nations.

My hat goes off in respect to Christopher Bollyn for his fortitude and resolve given that he has been not only been maligned and slandered by the Zionist media but also directly attacked physically for his efforts at rolling over the rocks beneath which these traitorous B'nai Brith troglodytes love to dwell and conspire together.

Please pass this along to your connections and as always continue to ...

Shine your Light for Love,
Peace & Justice for All,

Arthur Topham


The Radical Press

Canada's Radical News Network
Membership certificate to B'nai B'rith circa 1895

B'nai B'rith ~

The Jewish Secret Society

that Dominates America

By Christopher Bollyn

November 22, 2009

B'nai B'rith was instrumental in gaining U.S. support for the nascent Zionist state of Israel in the late 1940s. The Jewish secret society of Freemasons used President Harry Truman's friend ~ and their agent ~ Eddie Jacobson of Kansas City (standing behind Truman) in off-the-record meetings in the Oval Office to persuade the president to approve the Zionist land grab known as the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan of Palestine and then to recognize the state of Israel the next year following the Zionist ethnic cleansing of nearly 400 Palestinian villages and towns.

By applying pressure directly on Truman, B'nai B'rith dictated U.S. policy in spite of strong resistance from the U.S. Department of State. When Truman extended de jure recognition of the Zionist state on January 31, 1949, the only guests invited to the signing ceremony in the Oval Office were members of B'nai B'rith: Eddie Jacobson, the B'nai B'rith executive vice president Maurice Bisgyer, and the secret society's president, Frank Goldman (sitting).

President Truman, a highest level Freemason, was forced to accept the dictates of a gang of Zionist Jewish Freemasons on crafting U.S. policy in the Middle East. What does this say about the real hierarchy of power among Freemasons?

Truman, a Freemason since 1909, had established the Grandview Lodge No. 618 in Missouri and served as its first "Worshipful Master". In 1940, Brother Truman was elected the ninety-seventh Grand Master of Masons of Missouri. In 1945, President Truman was made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, and Honorary Member at the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite (A.A.S.R.) Southern Jurisdiction Headquarters in Washington D.C.

The fact that Jewish Freemasons of the B'nai B'rith were able to meet secretly with the president in the Oval Office whenever they wanted and were able to direct the U.S. president, a highest level Mason, to follow their orders in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East, shows the immense power this secret society of Zionist Jews has long had over the U.S. government and other Masonic orders.

Barack Hussein Obama was cultivated as a politician in Chicago and made President of the United States by the power of the B'nai B'rith. It's high time for these secret societies to be removed from the corridors of power where U.S. policy is crafted.

The first step to solving America's most serious problems requires that we identify the people who control the hidden hand behind the disastrous policies that are destroying our proud republic. This is the first article in a series about the B'nai B'rith, the Jewish secret society that created the state of Israel and made Barack Obama president.

After one year in office it is clear that the Obama administration, elected on a platform of "change", is actually maintaining the policies of the Bush administration. In some cases, such as the occupation of Afghanistan, President Barack Hussein Obama has actually added to the war effort by sending tens of thousands more troops.

The fact that the political change was only superficial and that the Obama administration intends to follow the basic policies of the previous administration can best be seen in the continuing cover up of the truth of what really happened on 9-11. The false-flag terrorism of 9-11 is the fundamental lie that needs to be protected. Upon this blatant lie the fraudulent "War on Terror" is based, and this illegal war policy has been embraced by Barack Obama.

When the Obama team sent Henry Kissinger to Moscow for early meetings with the Russian leadership, rather than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it was evident that the power brokers running the Obama White House were the same as those that ran the Bush and Clinton administrations ~ and those before them.

Rahm Emanuel, Chief-of-Staff of the Obama administration and son of an Israeli terrorist, and David Axelrod, the president's strategy chief and senior adviser, are two of the highest managers of Barack Obama.

Axelrod, the son of a Communist Jew, has been managing Obama's political career since 1992. Emanuel, as a former senior adviser in the Clinton White House, was the person who pushed the disastrous NAFTA legislation through Congress in 1993. But who really manages Emanuel and Axelrod? Who tells them what policies to promote and which to discard?

Our politicians and policies are given to us today via television and the controlled media like the mysterious writing on the wall appeared to Babylon's King Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, in the Old Testament. But who controls the hand that creates the politicians and crafts the policies?

The election of Barack Obama has provided us with a glimpse of the hidden hand that controls the government of the United States. The politicians and policies of the U.S. government do not actually come from the people but are presented to the public through the controlled media.

The two most influential papers in the United States, The New York Times and Washington Post, are both controlled by German Jewish families that are among the founding members of the Jewish secret society the B'nai B'rith. The B'nai B'rith, an order of Jewish Freemasonry, is closed to non-Jews which puts its Jewish members at the top of the Masonic hierarchy.

The members of B'nai B'rith are able to join other Masonic orders but only Jews can belong to B'nai B'rith.

Bettylu Saltzman

Barack Obama has been created as a political candidate since 1992 by David Axelrod and Bettylu Saltzman, the daughter of Philip M. Klutznick, the former head of B'nai B'rith International, the supreme body of the B'nai B'rith. This is the secret society of Zionist Jews that controls the White House and the policies of the U.S. government.

The first Chicago newspaper report from the 1860s that revealed that a secret organization of "Israelites" had existed in Chicago for some 20 years.
'Do you really think that criminals are clever, good people, Thrasymachus?'

'Yes, if their criminality is able to manifest in a perfect form and they are capable of dominating countries and nations.'

~Socrates in Plato's Republic
Secret anti-Christian organizations like the Freemasons and B'nai B'rith are like the fabled black holes of astronomy. Like other unseen astronomical bodies, astronomers postulate the existence of black holes based on how they distort light and affect other bodies around them. So is it with the Jewish B'nai B'rith and other Freemasonic secret societies, which we know very little about but whose presence can be seen in how they pervade every level of our society and affect everything around us.

Great nations, like the United States, France, and Germany, once had anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic political parties that acted to challenge the pernicious influence of secret Masonic and Jewish organizations.Today we no longer have such political parties to counter these secret networks and find ourselves ruled by B'nai B'rith and Jewish Freemasons.

In the United States in 1828, the Anti-Masonic Party was the original third party to be active on the national scene. Popular opinion in America was naturally opposed to secret organizations and people feared the Freemasons, believing they were a powerful secret society that undermined republican principles.

The Anti-Masonic Party was right. A democratic republic that allows its government, courts, and media to be run by the members of secret societies will soon find that they have taken over the republic. This is what has happened to the United States.

In 1843, a German Jew who called himself Henry Jones founded a Jewish secret society called the “Bundes-Brueder” (League of brothers) in the Sinsheimer Café near Wall Street in New York. Jones recruited his co-founders from the synagogue where he was in charge. At least four of its founders were Freemasons. The order, which was later re-named the “B’nai B’rith,” was closed to all non-Jews and to any Jew who fraternized with Christians.

The power of the B'nai B'rith has grown immensely during the past 166 years. As an independent journalist who has investigated the evidence of Israeli involvement in the false-flag terror of 9-11, I have seen how this secret society of Jewish Freemasons is able to corrupt every aspect of American society.

It is the force behind the media and government cover-up of the truth of what happened on 9-11. It is also the secret organization behind the brutal attack on me at my house in August 2006 and the malicious prosecution and corrupt court process that followed.

Christopher Bollyn the day after being brutally assaulted by a three-man undercover tactical police squad at his home in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, in August 2006.


Sources and Recommended Reading:

"B'nai B'rith and Israel: The Unbroken Covenant," 1998, The B'nai B'rith World Center, Israel

Fuchs, J.R., Oral History Interview with A.J. Granoff, Kansas City, Missouri, April 9, 1969

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Tel Aviv Cluster

The Tel Aviv Cluster

Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

In his book, “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement,” Steven L. Pease lists some of the explanations people have given for this record of achievement. The Jewish faith encourages a belief in progress and personal accountability. It is learning-based, not rite-based.

Most Jews gave up or were forced to give up farming in the Middle Ages; their descendants have been living off of their wits ever since. They have often migrated, with a migrant’s ambition and drive. They have congregated around global crossroads and have benefited from the creative tension endemic in such places.

No single explanation can account for the record of Jewish achievement. The odd thing is that Israel has not traditionally been strongest where the Jews in the Diaspora were strongest. Instead of research and commerce, Israelis were forced to devote their energies to fighting and politics.

Milton Friedman used to joke that Israel disproved every Jewish stereotype. People used to think Jews were good cooks, good economic managers and bad soldiers; Israel proved them wrong.

But that has changed. Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic reforms, the arrival of a million Russian immigrants and the stagnation of the peace process have produced a historic shift. The most resourceful Israelis are going into technology and commerce, not politics. This has had a desultory effect on the nation’s public life, but an invigorating one on its economy.

Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.

As Dan Senor and Saul Singer write in “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” Israel now has a classic innovation cluster, a place where tech obsessives work in close proximity and feed off each other’s ideas.

Because of the strength of the economy, Israel has weathered the global recession reasonably well. The government did not have to bail out its banks or set off an explosion in short-term spending. Instead, it used the crisis to solidify the economy’s long-term future by investing in research and development and infrastructure, raising some consumption taxes, promising to cut other taxes in the medium to long term. Analysts at Barclays write that Israel is “the strongest recovery story” in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Israel’s technological success is the fruition of the Zionist dream. The country was not founded so stray settlers could sit among thousands of angry Palestinians in Hebron. It was founded so Jews would have a safe place to come together and create things for the world.

This shift in the Israeli identity has long-term implications. Netanyahu preaches the optimistic view: that Israel will become the Hong Kong of the Middle East, with economic benefits spilling over into the Arab world. And, in fact, there are strands of evidence to support that view in places like the West Bank and Jordan.

But it’s more likely that Israel’s economic leap forward will widen the gap between it and its neighbors. All the countries in the region talk about encouraging innovation. Some oil-rich states spend billions trying to build science centers. But places like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv are created by a confluence of cultural forces, not money. The surrounding nations do not have the tradition of free intellectual exchange and technical creativity.

For example, between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the U.S. Saudis registered 171. Israelis registered 7,652.

The tech boom also creates a new vulnerability. As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic has argued, these innovators are the most mobile people on earth. To destroy Israel’s economy, Iran doesn’t actually have to lob a nuclear weapon into the country. It just has to foment enough instability so the entrepreneurs decide they had better move to Palo Alto, where many of them already have contacts and homes. American Jews used to keep a foothold in Israel in case things got bad here. Now Israelis keep a foothold in the U.S.

During a decade of grim foreboding, Israel has become an astonishing success story, but also a highly mobile one......

Monday, January 11, 2010

Black sites and shadow wars

Black sites and shadow wars

It was a Christmas and a New Year from hell for American intelligence, that US$75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones. As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were the US's intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation. It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber's case - except for the placement of the bomb
material - almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, "shoe bomber" plot of eight years ago.

That would have been bad enough, but the New Year brought worse. Army Major General Michael Flynn, the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, released a report in which he labeled military intelligence in the war zone - but by implication US intelligence operatives generally - as "clueless". They were, he wrote, "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced ... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers ... Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the US intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy."

As if to prove the general's point, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor with a penchant for writing inspirational essays on jihadi websites and an "unproven asset" for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), somehow entered a key agency forward operating base in Afghanistan unsearched, supposedly with information on al-Qaeda's leadership so crucial that a high-level CIA team was assembled to hear it and Washington was alerted.

He proved to be either a double or a triple agent and killed seven CIA operatives, one of whom was the base chief, by detonating a suicide vest bomb, while wounding yet more, including the agency's number-two operative in the country. The first suicide bomber to penetrate a US base in Afghanistan, he blew a hole in the CIA's relatively small cadre of agents knowledgeable on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

It was an intelligence disaster splayed all over the headlines: "Taliban bomber wrecks CIA's shadowy war", "Killings Rock Afghan Strategy", "Suicide bomber who attacked CIA post was trusted informant from Jordan". It seemed to sum up the hapless nature of America's intelligence operations, as the CIA, with all the latest technology and every imaginable resource on hand, including the latest in Hellfire missile-armed drone aircraft, was out-thought and out-maneuvered by low-tech enemies.

No one could say that the deaths and the blow to the American war effort weren't well covered. There were major TV reports night after night and scores of news stories, many given front-page treatment. And yet lurking behind those deaths and the man who caused them lay a bigger American war story that went largely untold. It was a tale of a new-style battlefield that the American public knows remarkably little about, and which bears little relationship to the Afghan war as we imagine it or as our leaders generally discuss it.

We don't even have a language to describe it accurately. Think of it as a battlefield filled with muscled-up, militarized intelligence operatives, hired-gun contractors doing military duty, and privatized "native" guard forces. Add in robot assassins in the air 24/7 and kick-down-the-door-style night-time "intelligence" raids, "surges" you didn't know were happening, strings of military bases you had no idea were out there, and secretive international collaborations you were unaware the US was involved in. In Afghanistan, the American military is only part of the story. There's also a polyglot "army" representing the US that wears no uniforms and fights shape-shifting enemies to the death in a murderous war of multiple assassinations and civilian slaughter, all enveloped in a blanket of secrecy.

Black ops and black sites
Secrecy is a part of war. The surprise attack is only a surprise if secrecy is maintained. In wartime, crucial information must be kept from an enemy capable of using it. But what if, as in the US's case, wartime never ends, while secrecy becomes endemic, as well as profitable and privitizable, and much of the information available to both sides on the US's shadowy new battlefield is mainly being kept from the American people? The coverage of the suicide attack on forward operating base (FOB) Chapman offered a rare, very partial window into that strange war - but only if you were willing to read piles of news reports looking for tiny bits of information that could be pieced together.

We did just that and here's what we found:

Let's start with FOB Chapman, where the suicide bombing took place. An old Soviet base near the Pakistani border, it was renamed after a Green Beret who fought beside CIA agents and was the first American to die in the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It sits in isolation near the town of Khost, just kilometers from the larger Camp Salerno, a forward operating base used mainly by US Special Operations troops.

Occupied by the CIA since 2001, Chapman is regularly described as "small" or "tiny" and, in one report, as having "a forbidding network of barriers, barbed wire and watchtowers". Though a US State Department provisional reconstruction team has been stationed there (as well as personnel from the US Agency for International Development and the US Department of Agriculture), and though it "was officially a camp for civilians involved in reconstruction", FOB Chapman is "well-known locally as a CIA base" - an "open secret", as another report put it.

The base is guarded by Afghan irregulars, sometimes referred to in news reports as "Afghan contractors", about whom we know next to nothing. ("CIA officials on Thursday would not discuss what guard service they had at the base.") Despite the recent suicide bombing, according to Julian Barnes and Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times, a "program to hire Afghans to guard US forward operating bases would not be canceled. Under that program, which is beginning in eastern Afghanistan, Afghans will guard towers, patrol perimeter fences and man checkpoints."

Also on FOB Chapman were employees of the private security contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater), which has had a close relationship with the CIA in Afghanistan. We know this because of reports that two of the dead "CIA" agents were Xe operatives.

Someone else of interest was at FOB Chapman at that fateful meeting with the Jordanian doctor Balawi - Sharif Ali bin Zeid, a captain in the Jordanian intelligence service, the eighth person killed in the blast. It turns out that Balawi was an agent of the Jordanian intelligence, which held (and abused) torture suspects kidnapped and disappeared by the CIA in the years of George W Bush's "global war on terror".

The service reportedly continues to work closely with the agency and the captain was evidently running Balawi. That's what we now know about the polyglot group at FOB Chapman on the front lines of the agency's black-ops war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the allied fighters of the Sirajuddin and Jalaluddin Haqqani network in nearby Pakistan. If there were other participants, they weren't among the bodies.

The agency surges
And here's something that's far clearer in the wake of the bombing: among the US's vast network of bases in Afghanistan, the CIA has its own designated bases - as, by the way, do US Special Operations forces, and according to a Nation reporter, Jeremy Scahill, even private contractor Xe. Without better reporting on the subject, it's hard to get a picture of these bases, but Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal tells us that a typical CIA base houses no more than 15-20 agency operatives (which means that Balawi's explosion killed or wounded more than half of the team on FOB Chapman).

And don't imagine that we're only talking about a base or two. In the single most substantive post-blast report on the CIA, Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times wrote that the agency has "an archipelago of firebases in southern and eastern Afghanistan", most built in the last year. An archipelago? Imagine that. And it's also reported that even more of them are in the works.

With this goes another bit of information that the Wall Street Journal seems to have been the first to drop into its reports. While you've heard about President Barack Obama's surge in American troops and possibly even State Department personnel in Afghanistan, you've undoubtedly heard little or nothing about a CIA surge in the region, and yet the Journal's reporters tell us that agency personnel will increase by 20-25% in the surge months. By the time the CIA is fully bulked up with all its agents, paramilitaries and private contractors in place, Afghanistan will represent, according to Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest "stations" in agency history.

This, in turn, implies other surges. There will be a surge in base-building to house those agents, and a surge in "native" guards - at least until another suicide bomber hits a base thanks to Taliban supporters among them or one of them turns a weapon on the occupants of a base - and undoubtedly a surge in Blackwater-style mercenaries as well.

Keep in mind that the latest figure on private contractors suggests that 56,000 more of them will surge into Afghanistan in the next 18 months, far more than surging US troops, State Department employees and CIA operatives combined. And don't forget the thousands of non-CIA "uniformed and civilian intelligence personnel serving with the Defense Department and joint interagency operations in the country", who will undoubtedly surge as well.

Making war
The efforts of the CIA operatives at Chapman were reportedly focused on "collecting information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plotting missions to kill the networks' top leaders", especially those in the Haqqani network in the North Waziristan tribal area just across the Pakistani border. They were evidently running "informants" into Pakistan to find targets for the agency's ongoing drone assassination war.

These drone attacks in Pakistan have themselves been on an unparalleled surge course ever since Obama entered office; 44 to 50 (or more) have been launched in the past year, with civilian casualties running into the hundreds. Like local Pashtuns, the agency essentially doesn't recognize a border. For them, the Afghan and Pakistani tribal borderlands are a single world.

In this way, as Paul Woodward of the website War in Context has pointed out, "Two groups of combatants, neither of whom wear uniforms, are slugging it out on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Each group has identified what it regards as high-value targets and each is using its own available means to hit these targets. The Taliban/al-Qaeda are using suicide bombers while the CIA is using Hellfire missiles."

Since the devastating explosion at Chapman, statements of vengeance have been coming out of CIA mouths - of a kind that, when offered by the Taliban or al-Qaeda, we consider typical of a backward, "tribal" society. In any case, the secret war is evidently becoming a private and personal one. Balawi's suicide attack essentially took out a major part of the agency's targeting information system.

As one unnamed NATO official told the New York Times, "These were not people who wrote things down in the computer or in notebooks. It was all in their heads ... [The CIA is] pulling in new people from all over the world, but how long will it take to rebuild the networks, to get up to speed? Lots of it is irrecoverable." And the agency was already generally known to be "desperately short of personnel who speak the language or are knowledgeable about the region". Nonetheless, drone attacks have suddenly escalated - at least five in the week since the suicide bombing, all evidently aimed at "an area believed to be a hideout for militants involved". These sound like vengeance attacks and are likely to be particularly counterproductive.

To sum up, US intelligence agents, having lost out to enemy "intelligence agents", even after being transformed into full-time assassins, are now locked in a mortal struggle with an enemy for whom assassination is also a crucial tactic, but whose operatives seem to have better informants and better information.

In this war, drones are not the agency's only weapon. The CIA also seems to specialize in running highly controversial, kick-down-the-door "night raids" in conjunction with Afghan paramilitary forces. Such raids, when launched by US Special Operations forces, have led to highly publicized and heavily protested civilian casualties. Sometimes, according to reports, the CIA actually conducts them in conjunction with special ops forces.

In a recent American-led night raid in Kunar province, eight young students were, according to Afghan sources, detained, handcuffed and executed. The leadership of this raid has been attributed, euphemistically, to "other government agencies" (OGAs) or "non-military Americans". These raids, whether successful in the limited sense or not, don't fit comfortably with the Obama administration's "hearts and minds" counter-insurgency strategy.

The militarization of the agency
As the identities of some of the fallen CIA operatives at Chapman became known, a pattern began to emerge. There was 37-year-old Harold Brown Jr, who formerly served in the army. There was Scott Roberson, a former Navy SEAL who did several tours of duty in Iraq, where he provided protection to officials considered at high risk. There was Jeremy Wise, 35, an ex-SEAL who left the military last year, signed up with Xe, and ended up working for the CIA. Similarly, 46-year-old Dane Paresi, a retired special forces master sergeant turned Xe hired gun, also died in the blast.

For years, American author and professor Chalmers Johnson, himself a former CIA consultant, has referred to the agency as "the president's private army". Today, that moniker seems truer than ever. While the civilian CIA has always had a paramilitary component, known as the Special Activities Division, the unit was generally relatively small and dormant. Instead, military personnel like the army's special forces or indigenous troops carried out the majority of the CIA's combat missions.

After the 9/11 attacks, however, George W Bush empowered the agency to hunt down, kidnap and assassinate suspected al-Qaeda operatives, and the CIA's traditional specialties of spycraft and intelligence analysis took a distinct back seat to Special Activities Division operations, as its agents set up a global gulag of ghost prisons, conducted interrogations by torture, and then added those missile-armed drone and assassination programs.

The military backgrounds of the fallen CIA operatives cast a light on the way the world of "intelligence" is increasingly muscling up and becoming militarized. This past summer, when a former CIA official suggested the agency might be backing away from risky programs, a current official spit back from the shadows: "If anyone thinks the CIA has gotten risk-averse recently, go ask al-Qaeda and the Taliban ... The agency's still doing cutting-edge stuff in all kinds of dangerous places."

At about the same time, reports were emerging that Blackwater/Xe was providing security, arming drones, and "perform[ing] some of the agency's most important assignments" at secret bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It also emerged that the CIA had paid contractors from Blackwater to take part in a covert assassination program in Afghanistan.

Add this all together and you have the grim face of "intelligence" at war in 2010 - a new micro-brew when it comes to Washington's conflicts. Today, in Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war "in the shadows" (as they used to say in the Cold War). This is no longer "intelligence" as anyone imagines it, nor is it "military" as military was once defined, not when US operations have gone mercenary and native in such a big way.

This is pure "lord of the flies" stuff - beyond oversight, beyond any law, including the laws of war. And worse yet, from all available evidence, despite claims that the drone war is knocking off mid-level enemies, it seems remarkably ineffective. All it may be doing is spreading the war farther and digging it in deeper.

Talk about "counter-insurgency" as much as you want, but this is another kind of battlefield, and "protecting the people" plays no part in it. And this is only what can be gleaned from afar about a semi-secret war that is being poorly reported. Who knows what it costs when you include the US hired guns, the Afghan contractors, the bases, the drones and the rest of the personnel and infrastructure? Nor do we know what else, or who else, is involved, and what else is being done. Clearly, however, all those billions of "intelligence" dollars are going into the blackest of black holes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What’s new in the British Police State?

We all know that Britain has the highest ratio of CCTV cameras to people in the world, but I want to take a closer look at some stories from within the past two months to see at what is going on right now.

British bus passengers could soon be forced to use electronic tags to get onto buses. This fits in with the British government’s move away from paper checks and toward an electronic system to be implemented by 2018. The best part of an electronic bus pass is that it will surely help prevent bus-based terrorism.

Britain is also making sure its schools are safe. Four-year-olds are being monitored for “radicalization” and 5-year-olds are being taught sexual education. After all, there is nothing worse than a sexually naive 5-year-old who is also a terrorist.

British school teachers have also been given the authority to frisk school children and search their school bags for drugs without consent, because we know how seriously Britain takes drug enforcement.

British schools have not only been protecting students against drugs, but they’ve also been protecting them against obesity. Students in Greater Manchester have been forced to walk to school rather than getting dropped off by their parents to help keep the students in shape. . . . Better hustle up, fatties, or we’ll take you away from your mothers! Just kidding, of course.

Britain isn’t only making sure its schools are safe. It’s making sure everywhere else is safe as well.

A few months ago, Britain started to put CCTV cameras into the homes of 20,000 “problem families” to make sure that the families raise their children correctly. This is good for keeping people safe indoors, but what about outdoors?

Well, luckily, the government has been going into the homes of willing citizens and placing CCTVs inside to be trained on the street to keep a watch for “anti-social behaviour.”

What about inside private establishments? Can we make them as safe as our homes? Well, luckily, now a pub can be closed down if it doesn’t have “sufficient” CCTV coverage. . . . And I was afraid I might actually be alone!

Also, if you are ever lonely, don’t worry, because new CCTV cameras have been outfitted with speakers so they can talk to you. . . . I want them to tell me how pretty I am!

The best thing about these CCTV cameras is that they’re cost-effective. In fact, the top-earning CCTV speeding camera takes in over £420 thousand in fines a year. No wonder people love them so much.

Of course, CCTV isn’t Britain’s only tool against crime, pre-crime, and legal drinking. Britain is also still capable of that “personal touch.” That is why they’ve given 20,000 town hall bureaucrats the power to enter homes without a warrant.

Reasons these bureaucrats can enter include: checking to make sure a house has an “eco-friendly” refrigerator, making sure a hedge is not too high, and making sure no ‘unregulated hypnotism’ is taking place. . . . Regulated hypnotism, of course, is fine.

Cyberspace also got safer when Britain enlisted telecoms to help them spy on every phone call, email and web search British citizens make. This makes people safer because naturally now the government knows what they’re doing.

The information gathered will be available to such important agencies as local councils, the Financial Services Authority, the ambulance service, fire authorities and even prison governors. . . . Finally, ambulance drivers will know what our Google searches have been even if we’re unconscious!

The best news for the police state, however, has been that the criminal code has expanded. Since 1997, 3,000 criminal offenses have been created, 1,472 of which are imprisonable. The number of people over 50 entering the criminal justice system has also risen by almost 50 percent in eight years.

Not only has the criminal code expanded, but the people who have arrest powers has also expanded. In Norwich, mall cops can now arrest people. . . . Sorry, Grandpa, but now it looks like you really are going to have to get out of the massage chair.

Despite all these victories, the police state did suffered one setback during the last two months. Britain was collecting the names, dates of birth and passport details of every passenger entering into and exiting from the country well before they got to the airport, just like any good police state would. But then the EU, which after the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon has authority to overrule member nations’ criminal laws, disallowed it.

This truly is a monumental loss. Britain’s tyrannical authority has been overridden by another tyrannical authority. Why is it always thus to tyrants?

Don’t worry, Britain. As long as you exist as an independent country, however long that may be, we here in America will always have our eyes on you.

After all, we want to keep you safe.

South America's Power Puzzle

Tackling the Andean Security Dilemma

With transnational security threats, a political-ideological rift and opposed geopolitical projects and international alliances, the Andean states have a long way to go toward the establishment of functional regional security architecture. Ultimately, it is up to regional leaders to put the pieces of the South American puzzle in place.

As demonstrated by the recent stand-off between Venezuela and Colombia over the new defense cooperation agreement (DCA) between Bogotá and Washington, the Andean security dilemma is becoming more pronounced. The region urgently needs to find workable solutions to serious security problems that affect Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela alike. Progress in this respect is becoming ever more elusive, however, as political polarization and deep antagonisms are tearing the Andes apart. Outside actors, in particular the United States, Brazil and the European Union, are either not doing their part to reduce the tensions or lack effective tools to do so. Hemispheric and regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the recently founded Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), also are proving to be of limited help.

The costs of national security and neo-populist political stabilization
One decade ago, the five Andean nations were embroiled in nothing less than deep crisis. Colombia was gripped by increasingly intense internal armed conflict, pronounced state weakness and mushrooming drug trafficking. Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru faced serious political-institutional instability that led to the ouster of two presidents each in La Paz (2003 and 2005) and Quito (2000 and 2005). And Venezuela saw regime change and the dawn of the 'Bolivarian Revolution' heralding deep political polarization and a sharp deterioration of citizen security.

Colombia has since seen important internal security improvements, though the country remains far from resolving its protracted armed conflict. While Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru have achieved a degree of political stability, the government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela has produced socioeconomic gains for parts of the poor majority of the population. But efforts have been undercut by government mismanagement of the country’s oil wealth as well as severe restrictions of Venezuelans’ fundamental liberties and rights and the installation of an increasingly autocratic political regime.

At the same time, there has been a progressive deterioration of relations between Colombia, on one hand, and its closest and most important neighbors, Ecuador and Venezuela, on the other. Initiatives of regional cooperation and integration, as under the today largely defunct Community of Andean Nations (CAN), have ceased to be a reality. Instead, the region has split into two politically and ideologically opposed camps that view each other with apprehension and profound distrust and pursue opposed geopolitical strategies.

Conservative restoration, 'orthodox' counter-drug and/or counter-insurgency policies and open-market economics, including free trade agreements with the US and the EU, have been at work in Colombia and Peru. The leftist and neo-populist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, in turn, have been pursuing the establishment of an alternative regional bloc, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). In their quest to create state-centered 'participatory,' 'inclusive' and 'anti-neoliberal' political and economic regimes they have by and large chosen to distance themselves from Washington as well as from some liberal democracy principles.

The Colombian conundrum

Colombia’s armed conflict is at the heart of the current Andean security dilemma. Massive US military and counter-drug assistance through Plan Colombia and major Colombian military and other security efforts as well as the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of tens of thousands of irregular combatants have undoubtedly produced advances in the struggle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), National Liberation Army (ELN) and the paramilitaries. But new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) are springing up, some paramilitaries persist, the weakened guerrillas are adapting to the changing security environment and drug-trafficking continues.

Moreover, the military onslaught in Colombia, which has not been accompanied by a political strategy to end the conflict, has pushed the guerrillas and drug-traffickers across the country’s borders. In a setting characterized by deep mutual distrust and the breakdown of communication with his Ecuadorian and Venezuelan counterparts, Álvaro Uribe has taken the war to the insurgents beyond Colombia’s confines. In reaction to a Colombian raid on a clandestine FARC camp inside Ecuador on 1 March 2008, Rafael Correa severed diplomatic relations with Bogotá and Hugo Chávez threatened with armed reprisals should Colombia attempt a similar action in Venezuela.

The strategic alliance between Colombia and the US in the fight against drugs and the insurgents, as reflected in Plan Colombia and the recently signed new US-Colombian defense cooperation agreement (DCA), which allows for the continuation of broad security and counter-drug cooperation between the two countries for a decade or longer, is perceived as a threat in Caracas and Quito. In effect, Ecuadorian and Venezuelan national security concerns should not be overlooked or underestimated. However, both governments are also responsible for having maintained an ambivalent or even tolerant stance vis-à-vis the Colombian guerrillas. The FARC and ELN can operate with relative impunity in and from Venezuela and to a lesser degree Ecuador, where they and other Andean criminal outfits are engaging with local officials, members of the security forces and others in illegal transactions ranging from gun running, gasoline contraband to drug trafficking.

A regional response to regional problems

Colombia’s armed conflict, pervasive transnational organized crime and increasing levels of citizen insecurity, especially in Venezuela, require a regional response. The close alliance between Bogotá and Washington – which started under Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrés Pastrana in the late 1990s, was reinforced under Presidents George W Bush and Álvaro Uribe and continues today, albeit with less enthusiasm on the US side, under President Barack Obama – needs to be revised. Not only have the goals of counter-drug policy not been achieved, but the US’ mostly military and counterterrorism support under Plan Colombia has reinforced the Uribe administration’s policy of seeking the elusive military defeat of the insurgents and not dealing seriously with the elaboration of a political conflict resolution framework. Bogotá’s closeness to Washington has contributed to deepening the Andean rift – a process in which Caracas, Quito, La Paz and Lima have of course also played their role.

It is often held that the regional response to the current tensions between Colombia and Venezuela, sparked by the DCA, as well as previous potentially dangerous episodes of intra-Andean friction, has been ineffective. There is some truth to this argument but it needs to be qualified. After all the OAS and, in particular, the Río Group managed to quickly ease through diplomatic means the serious political-diplomatic crisis that was brought about by the March 2008 bombing of the FARC camp in Ecuador through diplomatic means. In spite of this 'success' in deescalating tensions, it must not be overlooked that during the following year and a half Quito and Bogotá engaged in constant mutual recriminations and had no diplomatic relations, which only now are being cautiously reestablished.

With regards to the confrontation between Venezuela and Colombia over the DCA, the recently founded Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and its Defense Council as well as Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who offered to mediate in the crisis, ultimately failed to get Caracas and Bogotá to formally settle their differences. The Río Group remained silent, as did the OAS. However, it is no small feat that regional security issues, among them the DCA, were discussed amply in a string of meetings under the UNASUR umbrella (in Quito and Bariloche in August and in Quito in September and November). Some of these meetings were attended by the UNASUR presidents and defense ministers. It is further not an insignificant development that the fledgling South American Defense Council was charged with handling the DCA issue, and that the delegations who attended the November meeting in Quito by and large accepted the formal guarantees offered by Colombia and the US that the agreement would respect the national sovereignty of the other states in the region.

This notwithstanding, it is clear that the Andean region still has a very long way to go regarding the establishment of a functioning regional security architecture. The above-mentioned political-ideological rift that divides the region, deep mutual distrust, opposed geopolitical projects and international alliances, and not least the enormously challenging nature of the transnational security threats, such as Colombia’s armed conflict and drug-trafficking, all conspire against regional security improvements. In addition, Brazil’s role in moving the region’s security agenda forward is as yet not clearly defined, and UNASUR and its Defense Council are still fledgling entities in dire need of developing capacities to improve regional governance, including in the field of security.

South America and the Andes have to live up to these challenges because nobody else will and should do this job for the region, which inevitably would stand to continue witnessing instability and frequent security crises.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Covert operations, smoke and mirrors in AfPak

Up until now, the United States has been able to exert control over most of the earth just by controlling the narrative that reflects popular opinion about the war on terror. Whatever government spokesmen or reporters have said happened on a particular day, was what really happened; it was validated by popular consent. The ability to shape people’s thoughts and opinions is a power that every tyrant has dreamed about. Global trust in the good intentions of the people of the United States moves individuals and entire nations to give American leaders the benefit of the doubt, even when common sense cautions against it.

Until fairly recently, popular opinion did not often call into question the American or allied version of events. Widespread civilian “collateral damage” from air strikes and disagreements between the Pakistani and American military have opened the door to questions about the very nature of this war and the leadership, or lack thereof, displayed by Western decision-makers.

The US has decided that to win the war in Afghanistan, it must attack its closest ally in the war, because allegedly, Pakistan is the state sponsor of the Afghan Taliban. The Pak Army refuses to fight all the militants in Pakistan at one time, because their numbers are so great and tribal connections run so deep that it would be suicidal. American leaders claim that such a nationwide Pakistani offensive is the only way that the war can be won. Pakistan, on the other hand, maintains that the US, India and Israel are the state sponsors of the “Pakistani Taliban” terrorist outfit which is waging war against the people of Pakistan. Since the United States controls the narrative, the whole world holds Pakistan accountable for all the terrorism in the world, no matter whether it is true or not.

Now is a good time to question American motives and CIA dishonesty as the primary source of problems in this war. Obama’s minor investigation into agency shortcomings demonstrated during the underwear bombing incident, the destruction of the CIA drone center in Khost and the scathing NATO report on US intelligence shortcomings (“Fixing Intel”), on the heels of the Eric Holder investigation of CIA torture—all of these ongoing problems scream of an out-of-control spy agency. We have entrusted the CIA to lead this intelligence-driven war and time after time, but the egomaniacal spooks have consistently dropped the ball.

But the CIA has done much worse than merely fumbling their appointed tasks, they have demonstrated malice and outright criminality in their multi-layered covert war, which goes far beyond targeting any real or imagined enemy, as the plan moves forward to wage war against the entire human race, in order to accomplish their Imperial goals. Obama touched on the problem indirectly when he said someone “took their eye off the ball,” but he did not pursue the idea to its obvious conclusion—a lot of people “took their eyes off the ball,” all at the proper time to make the “al Qaida” plan work. Clearly, there are assets in key security positions who facilitated the Yemen attack, just as there were complicit facilitators who made the 911 attacks happen. It is no coincidence that there seem to be crossovers between militant groups and the security agencies which are tasked with pursuing them. This is because the militant groups are all children of various intelligence agencies, most of them working under contract for the CIA, knowingly or not, at some point.

Pakistan is allegedly the “epicenter of terrorism,” but if that was true, then why do most terror attacks in the world happen in Pakistan? Do not forget that the CIA provides 50 percent of the ISI’s budget. The ISI is a primary American contractor, as is India’s RAW. Western popular opinion fully accepts the American/Indian narrative, that only Pakistan sponsors terror. This ignores revelations by former Indian spy chiefs, who have confirmed that India did sponsor thousands of terrorists within Pakistan in the past, under a program called “Counterintelligence Team X,” but this allegedly ended in 1998.

Contrary to Indian and American statements, India is still a primary state sponsor of terrorism within Pakistan, but Western apologists help hide that fact, because the CIA is a partner in the current operations. In the past, India’s RAW and the CIA have been adversaries. Up until the era of the India/US nuclear agreement that hostility prevailed between the agencies.

The ongoing controversy over American spy David Headley is not the only public embarrassment that RAW has suffered at the CIA’s hands. In 2004, RAW spy chief Rabinder Singh was caught obtaining documents for the CIA and meeting with a female agent at a local motel.

He escaped to the US, where he was located in New Jersey in 2006. The Indian government tried to extradite him, appealing the charges against him, he claimed that he quit the agency and fled to the United States after being ordered to “participate in an assassination plot against a senior religious Sikh leader.”

Sometime after the extradition papers were filed, the following document was posted on the Internet. That document, called Summer Offensive Report was on the operations of “Counterintelligence Team X,” Singh had formerly ran the “Counterintelligence Team J,” which terrorized the Sikhs in Punjab. The Report gives no clue as to who ran the “X” Team, but the name Alok Tiwari comes-up in another paper, titled “Operation Blue Tulsi.”

The Summer Offensive Report claims to describe Indian/Israeli operations against Pakistan in 2004, centered around the town of Wana. A new operation did begin in Wana that year, the beginning of the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP) project. That operation began with the killing of Nek Muhammad on June 17. Arguably, it probably began in with the Ilyas Kashmiri attack upon Musharraf. After being picked-up by the security services, the former Pakistani Special Forces commando/militant was captured was allegedly tortured until his release in early ’04. The experience left him a shattered man and he retired from the jihad until 2007.

The guided missile attack that killed Nek set in motion the events that would bring Baitullah Mehsud to power. He inherited a ready-made army from his cousin Abdullah Mehsud, which formed the hardcore Uzbek center of the TTP. After his sudden release from Guantanamo to Afghanistan in 2002, Abdullah suddenly amassed thousands of Uzbek and Northern Alliance fighters and became endowed with millions of dollars in cash and tons of the most advanced weapons.

Until now, researchers have consistently charged that the Pakistani Taliban were sponsored by India and Israel, but have had nothing to prove this other than photos of tons of Indian/Israeli/American arms. The following from Summer Offensive Report reinforces those charges:

“The summer offensive includes establishment of 57 training camps in Occupied Kashmir, East Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Assam to train and launch terrorists inside Pakistan. Trainees are generally drawn from the Indian hatched dissident groups of Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jiye Sindh Mohaz (JSM), Jiye Sindh Students Federation (JSF) and Balochi nationalists and other nationalist groups from various parts of Sindh, Balochistan and Tribal Areas.

For Pakistan RAW centers at London, Dubai, Iran, and South Africa operate against Pakistan jointly with Israeli MOSSAD.

India has opened Consulates (IOC’s) in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat, besides having an oversized diplomatic mission in Kabul.

Kandahar and Jalalabad are near the borders of Pakistan, which insinuates many things. The ongoing Wana operation is being fed cash, weapons and ammunition indirectly by RAW operatives under cover of Al-Qaeda. MOSSAD and AMMAN have also contributed heavily towards the funding and material requirements for these operations. The direct result of this was the effective slaying of 121 Pakistani regular infantry soldiers on Nov 8th’2004, just 3 days after the infusion of war material and assistance in logistics and planning operations of the tribals by operatives of RAW.

The summer offensive of RAW includes working on ethnic, regional, parochial and secular themes, which include Sindhu Desh Movement in Sindh, Saraiki Movement in Punjab, Tribal Balochis in the name of Greater Balochistan and taking advantage of Northern Alliance Government in Afghanistan and using its tentacles at Kabul, Jalalabad, Khost, Kandahar and Spin Boldak, the tribals in Waziristan and Balochistan are continuously being kept activated for fomenting trouble – while Taliban and Al-Qaeda are getting the blame and Pakistan gets the rap for “not doing enough” by US and “FRIENDLY” Afghan authorities.

After the Indian consulate in Karachi was wound up. RAW started maintaining contacts in their sources/links in Pakistan through their consulates at Zahidan and Dubai. Most of the staff at Indian Consulate in Zahidan is from intelligence/security organisations including RAW, Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence. The sizeable cover staff in their Embassy at Dubai under the pretence of tourist traffic. The set-ups are dedicated units mainly responsible for promoting ethnic unrest in Pakistan. They continue to provide financial and material support to various regionalist/sectarian parties in Sindh and Balochistan

UAE is being used as a launching pad for terrorist activities in Pakistan. Agents are getting hold of young, disgruntled elements and after carrying out their proper brainwashing, they are dispatched to Dubai. Indian Consulate in Dubai is issuing temporary passport to these activists for getting training/briefing. After completion of their formal training, they are launched into Pakistan to carry out their terrorist/sabotage activities.”

About the content:

I checked the Fata timeline and found the following—The Report claimed that “121″ soldiers were killed near Wana in a large attack sometime between Nov. 4 and 8, 2004–the timeline doesn’t list anything like that, but it does report that 140 soldiers and scouts were killed in or near Wana between March 16 and Dec. 9, 2004.

Beginning in November, the Report list dozens of rocket, mortar and land-mine/IED attacks around Wana.

The report author claims that the Indian embassy in Zeheden is the source of attacks in Iran, attacks that have probably been attributed to “Jundullah.” Jundullah did begin around Wana in ’04. The Report also mentions Amman, Jordan as a participant with Israel in the Wana effort. The suicide bomber who recently targeted the CIA drone base in Khost, Afghanistan was a Jordanian intelligence officer, related to King Abdullah, from the same hometown as “al Qaida in Iraq” leader Abu Musab Zarqawi. The Jordanian attacker was sent by Hakeemullah Mehsud, the commander of the Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan, from Wana. It was a revenge attack for the killing of Baitullah.

more about “CIA Khost Bomber and Hakeemullah Mehsud“, posted with vodpod

Another document, which continues the alternative narrative since 2006 is the report titled, “Operation Blue Tulsi,” which began in early 2001, marking the start of Israeli/Indian operations against and within Pakistan.

By mid 2001 eyebrows were being raised over R&AW and Mossad’s cooperation and in July 2001 Janes Information Group reported that RAW and Mossad are cooperating to infiltrate Pakistan to target important religious and military personalities, journalists, judges, lawyers and bureaucrats. In addition, bombs would be exploded in trains, railway stations, bridges, bus stations, cinemas, hotels and mosques of rival Islamic sects to incite sectarianism. At the same time the Balochistan Liberation Army rose out of dead like a second incarnation and Balach Marri a Moscow graduate declares himself as the leader of BLA. Within weeks in Balochistan numerous training camps sprouted with each camp reported to be training up to a hundred militants. Agents from RAW, Mossad and CIA operating in Afghanistan started moving in.

In mid 2001 reports appeared that Special Operations Division of Mossad, also known as Metsada, specializing in assassinations and sabotage, has been based in India since May 2001 to train RAW operatives and Mossad and Shin Bet or Shabak were operating a number of teams in Indian Held Kashmir and were also operating a delicate spy network from Indian soil. In July 2001 RAW increased its budget for Indian consulates in Afghanistan by nearly 10 times.

Late in 2002 US and India signed an agreement on cooperation in disarming Pakistan’s nuclear assets and the two-player offensive team of OperationBlueTulsi found a third partner in the form of CIA. As a result of this deal Abdullah Mehsud was freed from Guantanamo Bay and returned to Pakistan with millions of dollars in cash.

By mid 2004, the government had ample evidence that BLA and some Baloch leaders were conspiring against the government, aided by foreign countries.

On 13 August 2004, the Chief Minister of Baluchistan, Jam Muhammad Yousaf is quoted by The Herald (Sep 2004-Karachi) as saying: “Indian secret services (RAW) are maintaining 40 terrorist camps all over the Baloch territory”.

Jan. 1, 2005 was the starting date. The local agents got the signal and the operation started with the ominous rape of a female doctor in Sui on 2 January 2005.

As expected the incident created headlines all around and culprits not being found created a widespread indignation. This was shortly followed by the firing of hundreds of small rockets at gas installation in Sui on 7 January 2005 which put a hole in the supply of gas to the rest of the country for an entire week.

Starting March 2007…,the numbers of ‘Pakistani Taliban’ in Swat surged and just their ammunition and their military hardware did. Some of this hardware was more advanced to what the Pakistani soldiers used.

A portion of this military hardware ended up in the ill-fated Lal Masjid. While intelligence and military were busy keeping Musharraf’s seat safe in Pakistan, a new political game started in the UAE.

Rehman Malik enthusiastically started pursuing the goal of National Reconciliation Ordinance. He became instrumental in the final deal between Benazir Bhutto, US and Pervez Musharraf and NRO.

Near the end of 2007, the intelligence and the military were convinced that a conspiracy had been hatched in the country with the sole aim of removing Musharraf from power.

The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto, simultaneous riots throughout the country, terrorist activities occurring in every province, all of this had considerable similarities to the Bush Administration-backed Color Revolutions. In order to keep Musharraf in power the government kept giving into one demand after the other. As a result Rehman Malik becomes head of Interior Ministry, Yusuf Raza Gilani becomes the Prime Minister of Pakistan and sweeping changes are made in the security and intelligence community. Still, the government saw the war finally over when in one move Gilani puts ISI under the Interior Minister on 27 July 2008.

The entire Wana-centric destabilization plan can be seen in the so-called Tehreek Taliban Pakistani movement, the Punjabi-Taliban influence and the leadership succession. In addition, it traces the roots of the entire “Islamist” psyop that grew from CIA/ISI operations against the Soviets and the Iranians. Anti-Shia sectarian terror outfits were formed in Pakistan, then sent into Afghanistan, where they slaughtered both Soviets and Shiites. After the Soviet defeat, they turned against the Iranian-sponsored Northern Alliance troops, before being fought to a standstill by the forces of legendary rebel leader

Ahmed Shah Mahsoud. (Mahsoud was eliminated by a suicide bomber on September 10, 2001, his forces taken over by Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum with the aid of one Amrullah Saleh, who is now the head of the Afghan secret police (NDS) and might be working for Iran.)

In ’07 the British operation in Helmand, Afghanistan, which had been centered around recruiting the brother of militant Mullah Dadullah, Mansoor was merged with the Indian/American/Israeli hotbed of terrorism in S. Waziristan. Baitullah was promoted to top dog in the militant hierarchy, as Benazir Bhutto was killed and Mansoor Dadullah took the blame. The Afghan Taliban transferred Dadullah’s forces to Mehsud, conferring legitimacy upon the operation, Mullah Omar not yet realizing that Baitullah was really anti-Taliban.

Mehsud’s Swat operation under radical disc jockey, Mullah Fazlullah, was the opening front of the Wana-trained forces against the Pakistani Army. It is no coincidence that there was not a single Predator attack against Fazlullah’s forces, and all drone attacks from that point on were against Baitullah Mehsud’s main adversary, Mullah Nazir in Wana. Nazir was the head of the Pak Army supported tribal lashkars who had run the Uzbeks of Mehsud out of Wana.

In 2008 Bush signed a secret order authorizing operations inside Pakistan and the Pakistani Army secretly acquiesced to American Predator show attacks upon former Guantanamo alumni. This provided a means to keep up the show for the American audience. It also opened the door to covert commando strikes in conjunction with action by the Pakistani Taliban.

The rest is history. On August 6, 2009, Baitullah Mehsud was mistakenly killed by an American guided missile, tracking a Pakistani-planted transmitter. It is likely that the CIA was tricked into killing Pakistan’s primary enemy. Ten days later, the tribal rival of Mehsud, Maulvi Nazir, who very likely had planted the tracking device, is killed by black-clad Special Forces type commandoes near Wana; probably payback from the United States.

The “AfPak” zone of conflict is a land of smoke and mirrors intended to put-on a show and simultaneously obscure the action on the ground. Beginning in 2007, the action obscured was a covert Indian/American war upon the people of Pakistan.

All the usual voices will chime in here, saying—“We didn’t create al Qaida; we didn’t sponsor Abdullah Mehsud, or Baitullah; we don’t create terrorists”! No matter how much they yell, the truth remains to be seen in these militants and their actions. After his release from Guantanamo, Abdullah Mehsud did not kidnap or kill Americans; he went straight after America’s greatest competitor, the Chinese. Likewise, in the case of Abu Musad al-Zarqawi, the leader of “al Qaida in Iraq,” after his release from Jordanian prison, his victims were usually Iraqi Shiites, not Americans. After being captured, abused and then released, both of these guys went after our enemies, no matter what the press has reported otherwise. Were they brainwashed, “Manchurian candidates,” or were they merely paid-off? US Rep. Mark Kirk has raised the issue that most of the militant leaders in southern Afghanistan were formerly held at Guantanamo and Bagram. Is that also a coincidence, or by design? “Islamists” are primarily a product of the intelligence agencies.

American/Israeli/Indian/Iranian/British hands are all extremely dirty after taking a walk on Dick Cheney’s “dark side” in Pakistan and they owe a heavy penalty to both Pakistan and Afghanistan for what they have done there. It is high time to drag all the spooks out of their closets and air their dirty linen to the world. Only such a complete CIA housecleaning as this will redeem the United States of America in the eyes of the world. Anything less would do no good at all, and would also be a grave insult to those who have fallen in our poisonous shadow.