Thursday, July 31, 2008

War On Terror Out; Counterterrorism In

By Sharon Weinberger
July 30, 2008 3:00:03 PM
Courtesy Of

Many people have said it, but now a respected think tank has put its imprimatur on it: the "global war on terror" is a misguided concept. A major new RAND study look at how terrorist groups have historically ended, concludes that in most cases, political accommodation and infiltration -- not brute force -- broke up the groups. Of course, RAND also notes that political accommodation works when the terrorists' goals are narrow (i.e. RAND is not recommending political accommodation with Al Qaeda, which has far-reaching goals).

By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.
"Al Qa'ida," notes RAND, "consists of a network of individuals who need to be tracked and arrested." Rather than blunt military force, RAND suggests that the focus should be on the "Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as their cooperation with foreign police and intelligence agencies."

In the end, policing and intelligence, not military power, should be the focus of counterterrorism, RAND concludes.

[Image: RAND]

The New Arms Bazaar

From Russia, With No Love

By Sharon Weinberger
July 30, 2008 11:46:00 AM
Agony of A-Stan, Crazy Ivans, Planes, Planes, Copters, Blimps
Courtesy Of

If there one thing that's truly disturbing about the sale of Russian weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan, it's that it demonstrates how parts of the U.S. government have been forced to find ways to evade American law. Specifically, we now have the Pentagon, which is under pressure to rapidly equip Iraq and Afghanistan, forced to turn to Russian suppliers that might be sanctioned under U.S. law.

Over the past week, I've written about how the U.S. Army, as an example of this effort, handed out a no-bid contract to a well-connected U.S. defense company. The firm planned to route a Russian helicopter sale through a UAE-based firm in an attempt to avoid dealing with Russia's blacklisted weapons export control agency. That deal, for Mi-17 helicopters, could eventually reach half a billion dollars, if it includes Afghanistan.

This is by no means an anomaly. Earlier this month, I wrote an article and a series of blog posts about how Defense Solutions, a company linked to former Congressman Curt Weldon, has tested the legal bounds of this new arms bazaar in Iraq, Russia and Libya.

These deals are all colors of shady. But at the end of the day, who's to blame? The Defense Department and its novel interpretation of U.S. laws? The State Department and its inability to manage U.S. foreign assistance and export control laws? The defense companies willing to wheel and deal in this gray market? Or, a conspiracy of well-connected former officials out to make a quick buck?

There's some truth in all of those statements, but I'm going with the tried and true "never assume conspiracy when incompetence will do." At the end of the day, the U.S. government has created an unwinnable situation: in its rush to equip Iraq and Afghanistan, it's been forced by expediency to turn to a post-Soviet arms market that it neither fully understands nor trusts. In the meantime, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Russia's export agency, even though it needs Moscow's cooperation for these arms sales. Few in the U.S. government really understand the ownership structure of Rosoboronexport, Russia's powerful weapons export agency, much less can pronounce its name.

U.S. military officials note that Afghanistan and Iraq have been pressing for Russian weapons because they are more familiar with maintaining and operating this equipment. It's also, in many cases, cheaper. But no one argues this is an ideal choice in the longterm interests of the United States. The Russian helicopter issue, for example even comes up in a recent New York Times Magazine article, where the author, a former State Department counter-narcotics official, notes there were "unending difficulties getting Mi-17 helicopters and other equipment that the Pentagon promised for the training of the counternarcotics police of Afghanistan."

The Russian and East European-origin equipment also comes with its own, unique set of problems: underhanded brokers selling weapons of questionable quality and dealing with countries that the United States might rather not deal with at all. In the end, the United States' inadvertent promotion of this shadow market for arms merchants selling post-Soviet wares is an unintended consequence of an ad hoc foreign policy, where the threat of the day trumps long term planning.

Don't expect it to go away any time soon.


U.S. Army Looks to Russian Copters for Afghanistan

How to: Do Business With a Blacklisted Russian Weapons Company

Did the U.S. Army Arrange a 'Sweetheart' Deal to Sell Russian Helicopters to Iraq?

U.S. Arms Dealer Tests Legal Bounds in Middle East Arms Bazaar

Pentagon Inked $97 Million Deal With Kremlin-Tied Outfit; Promised 'Access' to 'Putin's Inner Circle'

Chavez's Arms Shopping Spree

Weldon's Firm Made Defective-Tank Deal With Iraq

Weldon's Firm Lobbied White House to Buy East European Arms for Iraq

Forgery Alleged in Weldon Firm's Iraqi Arms Deal

Exclusive: Ex-Congressman at Center of Arms Deals Between Russia, Libya, Iraqi Army

Russians Proposed U.S. 'Front' for Selling Weapons

Lawyers, Nukes, and Money: The Strange Case of Weldon's Russia Plan

Weldon's Company Scores Corruption Contract

Iron Triangle: Mr. Weldon Goes to Bangladesh

Weldon's Plasma Weapon Attack

Moammar and I: Pictures from Curt Weldon's Scrapbook

Air Force To Laser-Proof Its Weapons

Air Force Looks To Laser-Proof Its Weapons

By Noah Shachtman
July 30, 2008 10:00:00 AM
Lasers and Ray Guns
Courtesy Of

Real-life laser weapons aren't here, yet. But they're getting closer. Which is why the Air Force is starting to look for ways to laser-proof its bombs and missiles -- with spray-on coatings, no less.

A new Air Force request for proposals asks researchers to come up with ways to find "retrofittable laser protection for weapons." In tests, U.S. and Israeli ray guns have shown the ability to melt holes in all kinds of munitions. Several American defense contractors are working to translate those results into battlefield tools. And if they're successful, the Air Force figures, it's really only a matter of time before some adversary's mad scientists figure out how to pull off the same trick. Hence the need for "High Energy Laser (HEL)-shielding technology that can be applied to vulnerable airframe components and internal guidance electronics of [a]ir-delivered bombs and missiles."

The idea isn't to renders the weapons "impervious" to ray gun blasts. The Air Force just wants the shield to delay the laser burning through a weapon's skin -- five seconds or so ought to do the job. The best way to make it happen, the service believes, is with "a thermal protection coating (e.g., spray-on) or a broadband reflector embedded layer on [the] munition['s] skin."
You read that right: a spray-on laser shield.

In the program's first phase, the ray gun protection would be tested in the lab. After that, the Air Force wants to "field demonstrate a prototypical system capable of defending and surviving laser attack during flight." In the end, the service suggests, it won't just be the military who benefits. The spray-on laser defense could protect "commercial airliners against worldwide terrorism and proliferation of ground-based laser weapon threats."

MTHEL - Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser:


No Laser Blasters. Yet.

Electric Laser Race Heats Up

Russian 'Expert': Soviets Had Laser Cannons First

Laser Gunship Blasts Beams, Preps for '08 Flight Test

Marines Request 'Long-Range Blow Torch' for Iraq

Lasers-Only on "Gunless" Gunship

Air Force Eyes Energy Shields, Microwave Bombs

Navy Pushing Laser 'Holy Grail' to Weapons Grade

Laser Jet Zaps Animated Missiles, Spouts Jargon

Israel's Military Shoots Down Laser Cannon

Israelis Sue Government for Laser Cannon

Laser Weapons Better Against Rockets?

Second life for Laser Defense?

Ray Gun "Holy Grail" Aims for Battlefield Strength

Monster Truck Gets a Laser

Laser Death Star

Laser Weapons Closing in on Reality

Real-Life Laser Rifle: Army Goal

Flipper Fires Lasers in Air Force Brief

Laser Relays Live!

Vice vs. the Flying Lightsaber

Laser Jet Over Oklahoma

Congress Slashes Flying Lightsaber

Pentagon Report: No More 'Death Rays'

Spooky Math for "Flying Lightsaber"


British Unleash Network To Destroy Turkey

British Unleash Ergenekon Network To Destroy Turkey and Its Peace Role

By Dean Andromidas
This article appears in the
August 1, 2008 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
PDF version of this article]
Courtesy Of

The nation of Turkey has been rocked by the indictment of a criminal network, the Ergenekon, for planning a military coup against the government, in an investigation that is only comparable to those conducted in Italy into the notorious P-2 Masonic Lodge and the Gladio NATO-linked "stay behind" networks responsible for Italian terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s. These revelations occur at a time when Turkey is playing a key role in mediating peace talks between Israel and Syria, and taking major initiatives with Iraq and Iran that directly counter British efforts to launch another Southwest Asia war.

The planned Ergenekon "strategy of tension," complete with terror attacks and assassinations, aims to pave the way for a military coup against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Like those of the P-2 and Gladio in Italy, the Ergenekon investigation reveals links both to NATO and state security services and to terrorist, assassination, and criminal networks.

U.S. intelligence sources have told EIR that the British are fully committed to destabilizing, if not overthrowing, the Erdogan government. Turkey is targetted because of its central role on several fronts to promote peace and economic development throughout the Middle East, a role that threatens to overturn the British Middle East chessboard, which hasn't changed since the Sykes-Picot agreement, where Britain and France carved up the region after World War I.

These peace initiatives include Turkey's role as mediator in exploratory peace talks between Israel and Syria, which promise to further Israeli-Palestinian talks, and, eventually, to open the door to talks between Lebanon and Israel. Turkey has now offered to play a similar mediator role between Iran and the West, in order to build up trust between Iran and the European Union, the United States, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Great Britain.

On July 11, Erdogan was in Baghdad, where he signed an historic "strategic cooperation" agreement that has been compared to the Franco-German treaty of 1963, between Germany Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French President Charles de Gaulle. The latter treaty created an alliance that formed the basis for the economic integration of Europe—a Europe of Fatherlands. The new strategic agreement will involve Turkey in the economic reconstruction of Iraq, and begin to integrate the two economies.

Recently, Turkey co-sponsored, with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, an international drug-enforcement conference, and Turkey is also playing a leading role in going after the multi-billion-dollar drug network that is trafficking heroin from Afghanistan. Thus, Turkey serves as a key flank against Britain's new opium wars.

In this context, Britain's historic assets have been unleashed.

Ergenekon: Modern Day Young Turks

On July 15, Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin submitted the indictment against the Ergenekon to Turkey's high criminal court. The 2,455-page indictment named 86 suspects, 48 of whom are currently in custody, including retired—and possibly current—members of the armed forces, as well as academics, journalists, political activists, and organized crime figures. Among those arrested were retired generals Hursit Tolon and Sener Eruygur. The former had been the number two commander in the military when he retired, while the latter was former commander of the national gendarme force. Also arrested was the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, Sinan Aygun.

The charges against the Ergenekon include: "membership in an armed terrorist group"; "aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organization"; "attempting to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey"; "inciting people to rebel against the Republic of Turkey"; "being in possession of explosives, using them, and inciting others to commit these crimes"; "encouraging soldiers to disobey superiors"; "openly provoking hatred and hostility"; and other similar crimes.
Among the specific crimes Ergenekon is charged with are the 2006 armed attack on the Council of State High Courthouse, where one High Court judge was killed; and a shooting and hand-grenade attack at the Istanbul office of the newspaper Cumhuriyet

The Turkish media has compared the Ergenekon to Italy's Gladio "stay behind" terrorist network, and identified it as part of the "deep state" apparatus. But Dr. Mustafa Acar, an economics instructor at Kirikkale University, went much further in precisely identifying who is destabilizing Turkey, in a commentary July 2 in the Turkish daily Zaman. Entitled " 'Ergenekon': An Opportunity for Peace Between State and People," Acar's article not only describes the group as the "Turkish branch of Gladio—designed as a semi-military organization in NATO," but also points to the deeper role of the Progress and Union Party, also known as the Committee of Union and Progress or CUP, which was the organization of the Young Turks in the early 1900s.

(The CUP was a freemasonic-type operation founded by British Intelligence, through the British Scottish Rite and allied French and Italian Masonic Lodges in 1906, as a vehicle to take over the Ottoman Empire. These same networks created Italian fascism and European synarchism.)

Acar writes:
First, Turkey has to deal with Ergenekon effectively if it seeks to get rid of the dire impacts of the Progress and Union Party (IVT), which remained effective in the country for more than a century. The harm inflicted by the IVT, which revolted against Abdul Hamid II with the promise of bringing liberties but resorted to repressive policies after it took the office, is simply indescribable. The country had to deal with enormous problems during the IVT's term between 1908 and 1918; every attempt by the IVT during this period brought nothing but disaster and destruction. The Balkan Wars, World War I, the Sarikamis failure, the Armenian incidents,[1] loss of the Balkans, northern Africa and the Hijaz, the invasion of Anatolia and the path to the Sèvres Treaty[2] are all products of the IVT rule. The harm inflicted by the IVT on this country is not limited to the acceleration of the Ottoman state's collapse and the incorrect policies that caused the subsequent tragic events, which still impacts current politics.

Maybe the Ottoman state would have collapsed anyway, just like the big empires of the time, including the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, collapsed at the end of World War I. The actual harm done by the IVT was in the mindset of the party; the IVT mindset, based on excessive nationalism—some may even call it racism—centralist ideas, repression, alienation from the people and protection against external actors left indelible imprints in Turkey's last century. Ever since then, the ongoing disagreement between the state and the public, the clashes between the elected and the appointed, the perception that freedoms will lead to turmoil, and the perception that the recognition of diverse identities will partition the country have all, to a great extent, carried the marks of the IVT. Removing the greatest barriers before Turkey is directly dependent on getting rid of the IVT mindset and its imprints in the bureaucratic mechanisms.
Pointing to the Gladio-type connection, outside of Turkey, Acar adds that treating the Ergenekon as a purely domestic operation is "a failure to see half the picture." Pointing to previous coups in Turkey, he says:

The coups also include some external dimensions. Currently we are aware, from the proper analyses made and the publicized documents, that every coup promoted and staged in Turkey is somehow related to the Gladio-counter-guerrilla-Ergenekon organization and the attempt to preserve Turkey in Western orientation....

Unfortunately this gang, which extensively relied on a nationalist discourse, had done nothing but implement plans devised by NATO actors. Turkey needs to get rid of the Ergenekon gang if it seeks to become a stable, pluralist and democratic country that has good relations with its own people and the world, and is able to retain a high growth rate.
Although Acar does not directly identify this as a product of the British Sykes-Picot "mindset," the naming of the Committee of Union and Progress precisely identifies the ongoing destabilization of Turkey as a British operation.

The British Imperial Roots Of The Young Turks

EIR has documented the British imperialist roots of the Young Turks in many articles. (See, for example, Joseph Brewda, "Palmerston Launches Young Turks to Permanently Control Middle East," April 15, 1994). Here we will give only a thumbnail sketch.

The Young Turks were part a stable of fascist movements inspired by British agent Giuseppe Mazzini, including Young Europe, Young Italy, Young Germany, and so on, which were created to subvert and take over the Ottoman Empire on behalf of the European imperialists, led by Great Britain, and including France, Italy, and Russia. The CUP was founded in 1906, in the Greek city of Salonika, and then within the Ottoman Empire, under the direction of Emmanuel Carasso, an Italian official of the B'nai B'rith. Carasso was also grand master of the Italian freemasonic lodge in Salonika called Macedonia Resurrected, which provided the headquarters of the Young Turks. By 1907, leading Young Turk Mehmed Talaat, became grand master of the Scottish Rite Masons in the Ottoman Empire.

Carasso also played a leading role in the Young Turks' overthrow of the Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1908, which paved the way for the CUP takeover of the administration of the Ottoman Empire, which the CUP ruled until 1918.

Through the Young Turks, the British gamemasters transmitted various false ideologies, including Pan Turkism, Pan Islamism, and even Zionism, as attested by the fact that Vladimir Jabotinsky was a member. Jabotinsky was the leader of the nationalist wing of Zionism and the spiritual guide of the Israeli right-wing Likud Party, particularly its chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, Jabotinsky was the editor of the CUP's Young Turk newspaper.

During this period, the CUP was responsible for the disasters outlined by Dr. Acar.

After the Committee of Union and Progress destroyed the Ottoman Empire from within, the British, who had imprisoned many of its members on the island of Malta after 1918, on charges of war crimes, released CUP members to subvert the nation-building vision of Mustafa Kemal, known as Ataturk. For instance, Adil Bey, a leading CUP member and former interior minister in the Ottoman government, was given £150,000 by the British, who returned him to Constantinople to form the "Society of the Friends of England." This group lobbied openly for the protection of the British, while secretly organizing provocations throughout the country in an effort to discredit the nationalist movement and provoke an Allied intervention.

Mustafa Kemal was never forgiven by the British for sabotaging their plans to dismember Turkey as part of the Sykes-Picot scheme, which was drafted by England and France in 1916, to divide up the Ottoman Empire as the "spoils of war." Britain won control of Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine, while France received control of Syria and Lebanon.

While acknowledging Turkey's loss of these Arab provinces, Ataturk led a struggle between 1919 and 1923, to create a new Turkish state whose sovereignty and independence would be recognized by the world.

At first, Ataturk, who was keen on establishing a Western-style republic, allowed the CUP's return on the condition it pledged loyalty to the new government. Initially, Ataturk encouraged the CUP to take up the role of the official opposition, only to find in 1926, that the Committee was plotting his assassination. CUP members have been deeply embedded in the Turkish political and economic circles, and the military and security forces ever since. A careful examination of the three Turkish military coups that have occurred since 1960, will reveal in many cases first-, second-, and even third-generation members of the CUP.

Today's Ergenekon also has links to the Committee.

Ergenekon In The Image Of The CUP

According to press reports, the indictment identifies the Ergenekon as a cult-like organization based on the so-called central Asian "Agarta" myth, a supposedly 600-year-old legend describing the roots of the Turkish people. Far from being six centuries old, Agarta, or Argharta, is a synthetic myth created at the end of the 19th Century by Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, a Martinist freemason, who later became one of the godfathers of the European Synarchy which formed the basis of the French fascist movement of the 1930s, and the spiritual basis for today's neoconservatives.[3]

According to the Ergenekon indictment, and a second one yet to be released, the nearly 100 people under arrest or being sought, are linked to a kaleidoscope of organizations from the far left to the far right, and from ultra-secularist to Islamic fundamentalist. Some of them call for resurrecting the Istanbul Caliphate, which had been abolished by Ataturk, not only because he was a secularist, but also because it represented a hotbed of British and French intrigue. The Ergenekon met in a church of the so-called Turkish Orthodox Church, which has no congregation but claims ownership to several properties and churches formerly belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Another direct link to the Committee of Union and Progress is the connection to several leaders of the notorious Grey Wolves, the Pan-Turkic movement whose member Ali Agca was convicted for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. The spiritual godfather of the Grey Wolves was Ziya Golkalp, who died in 1924; he was the chief theoretician of the CUP and the chief protagonist of the racist Pan-Turkic ideology. This is another synthetic ideology; it was created in the 19th Century by Hungarian philologist, Orientalist, and Zionist, Arminius Vámbéry, an agent of Lord Palmerston and the British Foreign Office who served in the Sultan's court in the 1860s.

The Ergenekon is also linked to the Pan Islamic Great East Raiders Front (IBDA-C) led by Salih Mirzabeyoglu and Saadettin Ustaosmanoglu. Mirzabeyoglu, who is in prison, proudly states his family's anti-Ataturk roots going back three generations. But where does his Pan-Islamism come from? Although the CUP promoted Pan-Islamicism, it was created in the 1870s by Wilfred Blunt, who worked for the British Foreign Office. (Blunt's infamous descendant is Anthony Blunt, the librarian of the British Royal family who was later exposed as one of the four men in the spy ring led by Kim Philby.)

The Turkish daily Zaman published details from a document allegedly showing the structure of the Ergenekon, which revealed it to be organized as a secret paramilitary society with seven commands, including one each for a presidency, intelligence, intelligence analysis, operations, financing, intra-organizational research, and planning. The documents states such things as, "In the 21st century, intelligence agencies will inevitably be the institutions shaping world politicians and global policies."

The Turkish media links Ergenekon to almost every terrorist group that has surfaced in the last three decades, including the narco-terrorist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which is involved not only in attacks in Turkey; its Iranian branch, Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, has become part of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's operations against Iran.

Zaman quotes a former Ergenekon member, Tuncay Guney, as stating that Ergenekon had direct links to the PKK. Guney claims that imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan met with PKK leaders, and had told the PKK "not to mess with Ergenekon." The Ergenekon also had controlling links to the extreme left-wing Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), which is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, and was behind the 1996 assassination of businessman Ozdemir Sabanci.

Turkey: A Target Of Sykes-Picot

There have been three military coups in modern Turkish history: 1960, 1971, and 1980. Some Turkish commentators have added a fourth, the 1997 "post-modern" coup which saw the "judicial overthrow" of the government of Necmettin Erbakan, leader of the Islamic-oriented Welfare Party, after a pressure campaign by the military.

Commentators fear that the current case before the Constitutional Court seeking to close down current Prime Minister Erdogan's ruling AKP party and ban 71 political figures, including Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gül, from party politics for five years, is an attempt at another "post-modern coup." Some have asserted that Ergenekon was to be part of this new "post-modern" coup.

It is feared that if the court rules against the AKP, there could be major disturbances. Unlike 1997, when the Islamic Welfare party had to rule in a coalition, the AKP won a new mandate in last year's elections and holds almost an absolute majority in the Turkish parliament. More importantly, a new generation of military officers has entered the military; these officers had not participated in the three earlier coups, and are expected to stay in their barracks and remain loyal to the constitutional civilian government.

The "Gladio-Deep State" narrative that has identified NATO and the CIA as the hand behind the past three Turkish military coups has served only to mask the British hand, that has sought to use Turkey in its geopolitical schemes, to maintain Britain's dominance in the Middle East. Its purpose is to perpetuate the Sykes-Picot "mindset" to prevent the economic development of a region that is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, as well as Eurasia and Africa, and to maintain it as trigger for global war. With the current financial crisis, powerful British financial interests are now prepared to pull that trigger.

[1] Sarikamis is a battle during World War I in which the Ottoman Army was disastrously defeated. It was initiated by Enver Pasha, a leading CUP member. In its aftermath, the "Armenian incidents," occurred, i.e., the Armenian genocide, which has been used internationally to destabilize Turkey.

[2] The Treaty of Sèvres was forced on the Ottoman Empire by the Allied powers, including Great Britain, France, Italy, and Greece, but it was never recognized by the United States or the Soviet Union. It not only removed all the Arab territories from the Ottoman empire, but also created a group of statelets out of what is now modern Turkey. Signed by the Young Turk-led Ottoman government, which was nothing by a puppet of the Allies, the treaty was opposed by the Nationalist movement led by Ataturk, who defeated the Allied powers' attempt to use military force, to implement it.

[3] For a full discussion of the Synarchy and its links to Anglo-French financiers centered on Bank Worms, see Pierre Beaudry, "Synarchist-Terrorist Fifth Column in France," EIR, June 9, 2006.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Russia Takes Control Of Turkmen (World?) Gas

By M K Bhadrakumar
July 30, 2008
Courtesy Of
Asia Times Online

From the details coming out of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan and Moscow over the weekend, it is apparent that the great game over Caspian energy has taken a dramatic turn. In the geopolitics of energy security, nothing like this has happened before. The United States has suffered a huge defeat in the race for Caspian gas. The question now is how much longer Washington could afford to keep Iran out of the energy market.

Gazprom, Russia's energy leviathan, signed two major agreements in Ashgabat on Friday outlining a new scheme for purchase of Turkmen gas. The first one elaborates the price formation principles that will be guiding the Russian gas purchase from Turkmenistan during the next 20-year period. The second agreement is a unique one, making Gazprom the donor for local Turkmen energy projects. In essence, the two agreements ensure that Russia will keep control over Turkmen gas exports.

The new pricing principle lays out that starting from next year, Russia has agreed to pay to Turkmenistan a base gas purchasing price that is a mix of the average wholesale price in Europe and Ukraine. In effect, as compared to the current price of US$140 per thousand cubic meters of Turkmen gas, from 2009 onward Russia will be paying $225-295 under the new formula. This works out to an additional annual payment of something like $9.4 billion to $12.4 billion. But the transition to market principles of pricing will take place within the framework of a long-term contract running up to the year 2028.

The second agreement stipulates that Gazprom will finance and build gas transportation facilities and develop gas fields in Turkmenistan. Experts have estimated that Gazprom will finance Turkmen projects costing $4-6 billion. Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said, "We have reached agreement regarding Gazprom financing and building the new main gas pipelines from the east of the country, developing gas fields and boosting the capacity of the Turkmen sector of the Caspian gas pipeline to 30 billion cubic meters." Interestingly, Gazprom will provide financing in the form of 0% credits for these local projects. The net gain for Turkmenistan is estimated to be in the region of $240-480 million.

From all appearance, Gazprom, which was headed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for eight years from 2000 to May 2008, has taken an audacious initiative. It could only have happened thanks to a strategic decision taken at the highest level in the Kremlin. In fact, Medvedev had traveled to Ashgabat on July 4-5 en route to the Group of Eight summit meeting in Hokkaido, Japan.

Curiously, the agreements reached in Ashgabat on Friday are unlikely to enable Gazprom to make revenue from reselling Turkmen gas. Quite possibly, Gazprom may now have to concede similar terms to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two other major gas producing countries in Central Asia. In other words, plain money-making was not the motivation for Gazprom. The Kremlin has a grand strategy.

Coincidence or not, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin traveled to Beijing at the weekend to launch with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Wang Oishan, an energy initiative - a so-called "energy negotiation mechanism". The first round of negotiations within this framework took place on Saturday in Beijing. There has been an inexplicable media blackout of the event, but Beijing finally decided to break the news. The government-owned China Daily admitted on Monday, "Both China and Russia kept silent on the details of the consensus they reached on energy cooperation in the first round of their negotiation in Beijing on the weekend."

Without getting into details, China Daily merely took note of the talks as "a good beginning" and commented, "It seems that a shift of Russia's energy export policy is under way. Russia might turn its eyes from the Western countries to the Asia-Pacific region ... The cooperation in the energy sector is an issue of great significance for Sino-Russian relations ... the political and geographic closeness of the two countries would put their energy cooperation under a safe umbrella and make it a win-win deal. China-Russia ties are at their best times ... The two sides settled their lingering border disputes, held joint military exercises, and enjoyed rapidly increasing bilateral trade."

It is unclear whether Gazprom's agreements in Ashgabat and Sechin's talks in Beijing were inter-related. Conceivably, they overlapped in so far as China had signed a long-term agreement with Turkmenistan whereby the latter would supply 30 billion cubic meters of gas to China annually for the 30-year period starting from 2009. The construction work on the gas pipeline leading from Turkmenistan to China's Xinjiang Autonomous region has already begun. China had agreed on the price for Turkmen gas at $195 per thousand cubic meters. Now, the agreement in Ashgabat on Friday puts Gazprom in the driving seat for handling all of Turkmenistan's gas exports, including to China.

Russia and China have a heavy agenda to discuss in energy cooperation far beyond the price of Turkmen gas supplies. But suffice it to say that Gazprom's new stature as the sole buyer of Turkmen gas strengthens Russia's hands in setting the price in the world gas (and oil) market. And that has implications for China. Moscow would be keen to ensure that Russian and Chinese interests are harmonized in Central Asia.

Besides, Russia is taking a renewed interest in the idea of a "gas cartel". Medvedev referred to the idea during the visit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Moscow last week. The Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on Friday that "Moscow finds the idea of coordination of gas production and pricing policy with other gas exporters to be too tempting to abandon". The daily quoted Miller as saying, "This forum of gas exporters will set up the global gas balance. It will give answers to the questions concerning when, where and how much gas should be produced."

Until fairly recently Moscow was sensitive about the European Union's opposition to the idea of a gas cartel. (Washington has openly warned that it would legislate against countries that lined up behind a gas cartel). But high gas prices have weakened the European Union's negotiating position.

The agreements with Turkmenistan further consolidate Russia's control of Central Asia's gas exports. Gazprom recently offered to buy all of Azerbaijan's gas at European prices. (Medvedev visited Baku on July 3-4.) Baku will study with keen interest the agreements signed in Ashgabat on Friday. The overall implications of these Russian moves are very serious for the US and EU campaign to get the Nabucco gas pipeline project going.

Nabucco, which would run from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary, was hoping to tap Turkmen gas by linking Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan via a pipeline across the Caspian Sea that would be connected to the pipeline networks through the Caucasus to Turkey already existing, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

But with access denied to Turkmen gas, Nabucco's viability becomes doubtful. And, without Nabucco, the entire US strategy of reducing Europe's dependence on Russian energy supplies makes no sense. Therefore, Washington is faced with Hobson's choice. Friday's agreements in Ashgabat mean that Nabucco's realization will now critically depend on gas supplies from the Middle East - Iran, in particular. Turkey is pursuing the idea of Iran supplying gas to Europe and has offered to mediate in the US-Iran standoff.

The geopolitics of energy makes strange bedfellows. Russia will be watching with anxiety the Turkish-Iranian-US tango. An understanding with Iran on gas pricing, production and market-sharing is vital for the success of Russia's overall gas export strategy. But Tehran visualizes the Nabucco as its passport for integration with Europe. Again, Russia's control of Turkmen gas cannot be to Tehran's liking. Tehran had keenly pursed with Ashgabat the idea of evacuation of Turkmen gas to the world market via Iranian territory.

There must be deep frustration in Washington. In sum, Russia has greatly strengthened its standing as the principal gas supplier to Europe. It not only controls Central Asia's gas exports but has ensured that gas from the region passes across Russia and not through the alternative trans-Caspian pipelines mooted by the US and EU. Also, a defining moment has come. The era of cheap gas is ending. Other gas exporters will cite the precedent of the price for Turkmen gas. European companies cannot match Gazprom's muscle. Azerbaijan becomes a test case. Equally, Russia places itself in a commanding position to influence the price of gas in the world market. A gas cartel is surely in the making. The geopolitical implications are simply profound for the US.

Moreover, Russian oil and gas companies are now spreading their wings into Latin America, which has been the US's traditional backyard. During Chavez's visit to Moscow on July 22, three Russian energy companies - Gazprom, LUKoil and TNK-BP - signed agreements with the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company PDVSA. They will replace the American oil giants ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips in Venezuela.

At the signing ceremony, Medvedev said, "We have not only approved these agreements but have also decided to supervise their implementation." Chavez responded, "I look forward to seeing all of you in Venezuela."
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved.)

A Case Of Double Standards

By Salma Shaheen
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Courtesy Of
The International News Of Pakistan

India has made public a draft safeguards agreement submitted to the IAEA on July 08, 2008. In order for the Indo-US nuclear deal to be approved by Congress, this draft needs to be approved by the IAEA Board of Governors (BoG) and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

India has very astutely formulated this draft, first by making it an 'umbrella agreement' and second by incorporating several clauses in form of 'corrective measures' and conditions of termination of the agreement which serve to deter both the IAEA and NSG member states. However, a careful scrutiny of the draft reveals a classic case of contradiction whereby India will on one hand enjoy the fruits of nuclear commerce and, on the other, will continue to vertically proliferate where its nuclear weapons are concerned.

The violation of global non-proliferation norms with the introduction of such discriminatory 'country-specific' approaches should be obvious to even a layperson. While this deal will promote cooperation between India and NSG states, at the same time it also sends mixed signals to the rest of the world. Also, such a country-specific exemption also sends a signal to non-NPT states – specifically Pakistan and Israel – that nuclear commerce is possible even if you are outside the nuclear club.

It is important to analyze this India-specific draft agreement for the purpose of 'specifics' it offers to India. The preamble of the draft is of special importance. It provides India with the threshold that it needs to throw its weight around through clauses that effectively deter other states from proliferation. Secondly, India wants to put up a show that it has safeguarded its sovereignty to the extent that it can opt out of the agreement at any time.

This is essential to please its domestic audience much of which has expressed disapproval over the deal.

In this regard, India can take three possible measures. It can terminate the agreement (which is the draft under discussion), it can remove its facilities from the annex meaning that these will fall outside the purview of IAEA inspection, and it can divert nuclear material from military to civilian facilities (something it did in 1974 after sanctions were imposed). If any of these three possibilities actually happen, then will be severe consequences for regional stability.

Given that India has come a long way from non-alignment to striking strategic cooperation with major powers over the decades, agreements like this one and the subsequent process of being accepted by the IAEA and NSG as a power of some standing will certainly its negotiating position where nuclear commerce is concerned. The deal is also likely to provide India de facto recognition as a nuclear-weapon state but the best part will be that it will be a guilt-free status, where it will be free to participate in the nuclear trade. Surely, this makes a complete mockery of global efforts aimed at eliminating proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials.

The realization of the deal will also allow transfer of technological know-how (otherwise termed as intangible proliferation) this will boost scientific development in India and thus allow development of new and advanced technologies. Besides this, such nuclear cooperation will allow India to utilize he uranium reserves that are consequently freed up for building more nuclear weapons.

In essence, the draft is problematic n two accounts. Firstly, the security environment in the region is already fragile given the tri-nuclear relationships existing in the region between India China and Pakistan. Secondly, nuclear proliferation threats at the global level are multiplying and there are also increasing concerns – justified – about dual-use technologies and nuclear terrorism. In such a delicate environment both at the regional and international level, allowing one country to indulge in nuclear commerce can only complicate regional and international security.
The writer is an Islamabad-based analyst. Email:

Army Videogame Violates International Law

US Military Recruits Children: “America’s Army” Videogame Violates International Law

By Michael B. Reagan
Published on Saturday, July 26, 2008
Courtesy Of

In May of 2002, the United States Army invaded E3, the annual video game convention held in Los Angeles. At the city’s Convention Center, young game enthusiasts mixed with camouflaged soldiers, Humvees and a small tank parked near the entrance. Thundering helicopter sound effects drew the curious to the Army’s interactive display, where a giant video screen flashed the words “Empower yourself. Defend America … You will be a soldier.”(1) The Army was unveiling its latest recruitment tool, the America’s Army video game, free to download online or pick up at a recruiting station, and now available for purchase on the Xbox, PlayStation, cell phones and Gameboy game consoles. Since its release, the “game” has gone on to attain enormous popularity with over 30,000 players everyday, more than nine million registered users, and version 3.0 set for launch in September. “America’s Army” simulates the Army experience, immersing players in basic training before they can go on to play specialized combat roles. Most of the gameplay takes place in cyberspace where virtual Mideast cities, hospitals and oil rigs serve as backdrops for players to obliterate each other. As a “first person shooter,” the game allows players to “see what a soldier sees” in real combat situations - peek around corners, take fine aim, chose weapons that replicate those actually used by the US Army.

For the game’s commercial developers, realism is one its strongest selling points. Console version programmers were shipped to military training facilities in Wyoming, where they ran boot camp obstacle courses, fired weapons at the shooting range and got whisked around on helicopters.
Back at hip, safe San Francisco Bay Area game companies, Army weapons specialists worked with developers to ensure aim, fire, sound and reload functions for all of the game’s weapons were as close to the real thing as possible. The Army also ensured that players learn real weapons skills such as breath control and the reload time for a M4 carbine. And in order to edge closer to the Army’s goal of “realism” and “authenticity,” several of the game’s missions are based on actual combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the training simulators and firing ranges are modeled on the real life versions at Ft. Benning, Ft. Lewis and Ft. Polk. In a 2005 press release, Ubisoft, the multimillion-dollar publisher of the console version of the game, wrote that “America’s Army” is the “deepest and most realistic military game ever to hit consoles,” hoping that it gave players a “realistic, action-packed, military experience.”(2)

But behind the fun and games is an attempt, in the words of a military booklet on “America’s Army,” “to build a game for Army strategic communication in support of recruiting.” The Army spent $6 million to develop the game at the Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute (MOVES) before handing it over to private companies for adaptation to the console formats in 2004. As the name implies, the MOVES Institute is the military center for creating virtual training environments and simulators. A MOVES Institute booklet proclaims a later version of the game, “America’s Army: Special Forces,” was developed specifically to increase the number of Army Special Forces recruits. “The Department of Defense want[ed] to double the number of Special Forces Soldiers, so essential did they prove in Afghanistan and northern Iraq; consequently, orders … trickled down the chain of command and found application in the current release of ‘America’s Army.’”(3)

Like so many aspects of contemporary military operations, the development of later versions of the game has been handed over to corporations for private profit. Some of the biggest game companies have worked on the console, arcade and cell phone versions of “America’s Army.” Ubisoft, the world’s seventh largest video game company, is the game’s exclusive producer and has recently publicized record profits for the first quarter of 2008. Ubisoft worked closely with San Francisco based Secret Level to develop the 2005 Xbox version. Global VR, in San Jose, California, is preparing the release of the arcade version, and Gameloft programmed a version available for download to cell phones. Getting in on the action are other more traditional military contractors, such as Digital Consulting Services (DSC), a multimillion-dollar military tech company based in Newbury Park, California. Among DCS’s other projects are the Encore II Information Technology Solution for the innocuous sounding Global Information Grid, “an all encompassing communications project for the Department of Defense,” worth $13 billion over five years. Or the Navy’s Seaport-Enhanced - a $100 billion multicontract program to integrate Navy warfare operations. The Army worked closely with these and other companies to produce “America’s Army,” the first and only officially licensed Army game. It is this partnership and the close attention to technical detail that the Army and game companies claim gives “America’s Army” its realistic quality. As Col. Casey Wardynski, director of the US Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA) and director of the game project proclaims, “America’s Army” is “the most authentic console game about soldiering in the US Army.”(4)

Yet, far from providing realism, “America’s Army” offers a sanitized version of war to propagandize youth on the benefits of an Army career and prepare them for the battlefield. In the game, soldiers are not massacred in bloody fire typical of most video games, or for that matter, real combat. When hit, bullet wounds resemble puffs of red smoke, and players can take up to four hits before being killed. To further protect youth, concerned parents can turn on optional controls that sanitize the violence even more - shots produce no blood whatsoever and dead soldiers just sit down. This presentation of war contrasts to the much more grisly reality unfolding every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, like a June suicide attack on the Fallujah City Council in which three Marines, two interpreters and 20 Iraqis, including young children, were killed. Photos by American photojournalist Zoriah depict a horror scene in a small courtyard, dismembered body parts - ears, hands and pieces of skull - spot the ground; one Marine’s head looks smeared into the pavement. Zoriah writes of the scene, “There are dying people strewn around like limp dolls along with lifeless bodies of all ages. People are screaming and crying and running as if they have something important to do, only they can’t figure out what that important thing could possibly be … people are literally frantic removing the dead, as if their pace may bring some of them back.” It is this violent, realistic quality of combat that has been excised from the game.(5)

Another ploy in the Army’s “realism” playbook is what the Army calls “America’s Army’s Real Heroes.” On the “America’s Army” web site, visitors can explore the stories of eight combat veterans who received silver or bronze stars, purple hearts, or other awards. Among them is Sgt. Tommy Rieman, an Iraq veteran who used his body to shield his gunner from incoming fire, miraculously surviving bullet wounds to the chest and shoulder. He was selected to be a “Real Hero” and media celebrity for Army recruitment not solely for his courage, but also because he survived his experience. Those who have made the “ultimate sacrifice” are unlikely to be chosen at all, like 22-year-old Specialist William L. McMillan, who was killed on July 8 when his vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb. Or 35-year-old Sgt. Steven Chevalier, of Flint, Michigan, father of two, who joined the Army after high school in 1991 because he couldn’t find work in Flint. On July 9, in the midst of his third tour in Iraq, Sergeant Chevalier was destroyed by a grenade attack in Samarra. Other Army nonheroes include those who have taken the courageous step of refusing orders in an illegal and immoral war, like Lt. Erin Watada or members of 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment who refused patrol orders in Adhamiya, Iraq.

What the game’s “realism” is attempting to do is to mask the violent reality of combat, and military experience in general, for very specific purposes. At a minimum, the Army hopes “America’s Army” will act as “strategic communication” to expose “kids who are college bound and technologically savvy” to positive messaging about the Army. Phase one of the propaganda effort is to expose children to “Army values” and make service look as attractive as possible. The next phase is direct recruiting. According to Colonel Wardynski, who originally thought up selling the Army to children through video games, “a well executed game would put the Army within the immediate decision-making environment of young Americans. It would thereby increase the likelihood that these Americans would include Soldiering in their set of career alternatives.” To make the connection between the game and recruitment explicit, the “America’s Army” web site links directly to the Army’s recruitment page. And gamers can explore a virtual recruitment center through the “America’s Army Real Heroes” program. Local recruiters also use the game to draw in high school children for recruitment opportunities. Recruiters stage area tournaments with free pizza and sodas; winners receive Xbox game consoles, free copies of “America’s Army” and iPods. Game centers are also set up at state fairs and public festivals with replica Humvees and .50 caliber machine guns, where children as young as 13 can test out the life-sized equipment.(6)

When players walk into Army sponsored tournaments, the government knows more about them then they may suppose. The game records players’ data and statistics in a massive database called Andromeda, which records every move a player makes and links the information to their screen name. With this information tracking system, gameplay serves as a military aptitude tester, tracking overall kills, kills per hour, a player’s virtual career path, and other statistics. According to Colonel Wardynski, players who play for a long time and do extremely well may “just get an e-mail seeing if [they’d] like any additional information on the Army.” The “America’s Army” web site, however, is quick to point out that the Army respects players’ privacy. The Army claims that player information is not linked to a person’s real world identity unless that person volunteers their identity to a recruiter. But it is not clear that recruiters have to give any sort of discloser that a voluntary relinquishing of one’s name is also an invitation to a player’s statistical information. Answering seemingly innocent questions from recruiters in “America’s Army” chat rooms or at state fairs about one’s screen name may divulge personal information without intending to.(7)

Beyond its recruitment goals, the game serves as a training device for both military tactics and weapons, and to condition players for battlefield operations. To this end, “America’s Army” game assignments are designed to simulate real world battlefield missions. For example in one mission, “Special Forces fight alongside Indigenous Forces they have trained. For this mission, [players] must rescue and escort a wounded resistance leader who’s escaped to a neutral hospital for treatment - or hinder the escape of a wounded enemy courier, depending which side you’re on.” Missions like this shadow real world military actions such as the November 2004 seizure of a Fallujah hospital, a blatant violation of international law. The Army justified the war crime by explaining the hospital was furthering enemy propaganda. Other missions designed to acclimate players to warfare take place on an offshore oil rig or reenact the “Blackhawk Down” scenario. The oil rig game environment mimics possible combat deployments like to the new military installation being built by the Navy on the Khawr al Amaya Oil Terminal in the Persian Gulf. Interestingly, in these mission environments every gun-carrying character found online has a real person behind it. Yet, all players perceive themselves as American Forces while their avatars may be represented as black masked “terrorists” to their opponents.(8)

If this weren’t enough, the Army has designed weapons systems and training simulators based on “America’s Army” simulations and gameplay and incorporated them into the game. Players are organized into groups of Army units to learn to think, act and work together, a key component of basic infantry training. With a system of honor points that can help or hinder a virtual career, players are rewarded for their teamwork and strategic thinking, and discouraged from acting like a lone Rambo. Weapons training programs are also developed from the game or incorporated into “America’s Army.” These include the Live Fire Virtual Targetry for Urban Combat, in which boot camp recruits fire live ammunition at huge screens with “America’s Army” simulations projected onto it. Additionally, training software for the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station, a remote control vehicle with automatic weapons, was incorporated into the 2.7 version of “America’s Army.” The Army has also used the game to test new weapons. The Army’s weapons research laboratory, the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), uses “America’s Army” simulators to create virtual weapons testing grounds that are so lifelike ARDEC can “try out a new weapons system before any metal is cut.” In “America’s Army” one can play and undergo real-world military training at the same time.(9)

Most troubling of all, these recruitment and training techniques are targeted at children. Apart from sanitizing the violence of war, the Army toned down the gore in the game to get a Teen rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the equivalent of a PG rating on movies, so that children as young as 13 could play “America’s Army.” Chris Chambers, the game project’s deputy director explains that “we have a teen rating that allows 13-year-olds to play, and in order to maintain that rating we have to adhere to certain standards. We want to reach young people to show them what the Army does … We can’t reach them if we are over the top with violence and other aspects of war that might not be appropriate. It’s a choice we made to be able to reach the audience we want.”(10)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has found that Army use of the game, and its recruiting practice in general, violate international law. In May, the ACLU published a report that found the armed services “regularly target children under 17 for military recruitment. Department of Defense instruction to recruiters, the US military’s collection of information of hundreds of thousands of 16-year-olds, and military training corps for children as young as 11 reveal that students are targeted for recruitment as early as possible. By exposing children under 17 to military recruitment, the United States military violates the Optional Protocol.” The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, ratified by the Senate in December 2002, protects the rights of children under 16 from military recruitment and deployment to war. The US subsequently entered a binding declaration that raised the minimum age to 17, meaning any recruitment activity targeted at those under 17 years old is not allowed in the United States. The ACLU report goes on to highlight the role of “America’s Army,” saying the Army uses the game to “attract young potential recruits … train them to use weapons, and engage in virtual combat and other military missions,” adding that the game “explicitly targets boys 13 and older.” In June, at the 48th session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee noted US violations of the Protocol and urged the United States to “ensure that its policy and practice on deployment is consistent with the provisions of the Protocol.”(11)

Four years after the game was introduced at the 2002 Los Angles E3, and half way around the world in Mosul, Iraq, “America’s Army” was having an effect. Sgt. Sinque Swales had just fired his .50 caliber machine gun at so-called insurgents for only the second time. “It felt like I was in a big video game,” he said. “It didn’t even faze me, shooting back. It was just natural instinct. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!” While Sergeant Swales found game training conditioned him for combat situations, other soldiers report “America’s Army” played a direct role in guiding them to the military. Pvt. Doug Stanbro told The Christian Science Monitor in a 2006 interview that he “never really thought about the military at all before I started playing this game.” An informal Army study of the same year showed that 4 out of 100 new recruits in Ft. Benning, Georgia, credit “America’s Army” as the primary factor in convincing them to join the military. Sixty percent of those recruits surveyed said they played the game more than five times a week. And a 2004 Army survey found that nearly a third of young Americans aged 16 to 24 had some contact with the game in the previous six months.(12)

“America’s Army” is not a game; it is a recruitment and training tool that the Army uses in violation of international law. While soldiers and civilians continue to kill and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, private corporations like Ubisoft reap handsome profits from the Army’s project to train and recruit children. Military game developers are very open about this role, as Colonel Wardynski proudly proclaims in article after article, “We want kids to come into the Army and feel like they’ve already been there.” In this sense, “America’s Army” is more than a recruiting tool; it is an attempt to shift public perceptions about the Army and a conscious effort to militarize youth and video game culture. Indeed, the Army has been largely successful, so long as we accept sophisticated propaganda, recruitment and training programs like “America’s Army” as simply games and entertainment. In a statement that could apply to any of the military propaganda programs for youth, including popular movies like “Transformers” and “Iron Man,” Wardynski says, “If you don’t get in there and engage them early in life about what they’re going to do with their lives, when it comes time for them to choose, you’re in a fallback position.” With the need for fresh recruits at an all-time high due to popular opposition to the murderous and illegal wars, the Army is hoping their game will keep them from stepping into a fallback recruiting position. According to Colonel Wardynski, “today’s Soldiers are gamers,” and, we might add, the Army is hoping to make the statement true in the converse as well. When this means the militarization and recruitment of our children, we should all take special notice.(13)

Michael B. Reagan is an activist and graduate student in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at

(1) Knight Ridder Tribune News Service: “Army Game to Draft Virtual Soldiers,” May 23, 2002, pg. 1

(2) Business Wire: “US Army and Ubisoft Join Force in Unprecedented Agreement to Deploy ‘America’s Army’ Brand Worldwide,” April 14, 2004; Business Wire: “US Army and Ubisoft Bring ‘America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier’ to Video Game Consoles; The Most Authentic Military Console Game Ever Created Ships to Retail Stores Today,” Press Release, November 15, 2005.

(3) The United States Army and the Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute: “‘America’s Army’ PC Game Vision and Realization: A Look at the Artistry, Technique, and Impact of the United States Army’s Groundbreaking Tool for Strategic Communication,” January, 2004, pg. 22, henceforth, “MOVES Booklet”; MOVES Booklet, pg. 37.

(4) DCS web site:; Business Wire: “US Army and Ubisoft Bring ‘America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier’ to Video Game Consoles; The Most Authentic Military Console Game Ever Created Ships to Retail Stores Today,” Press Release, November 15, 2005.

(5) Zoriah Photojournalist: “Suicide Bombing in Anbar - Eye Witness Account - Iraq War Photographer Diary - Graphic Images,” posted June 26, 2008,

(6) Carrie Kirby: “The advertising game: Adopting the latest thing in advertising, Army out to do some computer recruiting,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 5, 2002, Sec. E 1; MOVES Booklet 7; a Wisconsin counter-recruitment group was recently successful in booting recruiters armed with the video game from “Summerfest” before the Army pressured festival organizers to let them back in if they restricted game to those 17 or older.

(7) Gary Webb: “The Killing Game,”, November 4, 2004,

(8) MOVES Booklet 28.

(9) Jason Dobson: “Army Game Project’s Frank Blackwell on ‘America’s Army,’” Serious Game Source, September 2006; Webb: “The Killing Game.”

(10) Seth Schiesel: “On Maneuvers with the Army’s Game Squad,” The New York Times, February 17, 2005, Sec. G1

(11) American Civil Liberties Union US Violations of Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict: Sons of Misfortune: Abusive US Military Recruitment and Failure to Protect Child Soldiers, May 23, 2008; United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Forty-eight Session: “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict,” June 6, 2008.

(12) Jose Antonio Vargas: “Virtual reality prepares US soldiers for real war; Young warriors say video shooter games helped hone skills,” The Wall Street Journal Europe, February 15, 2006; Patrik Jonsson: “Enjoy the video game? Then join the Army,” The Christian Science Monitor, September 19, 2006.

(13) The Washington Post: “‘America’s Army’ video game doubles as military recruiter; Officials hope online multiplayer adventure will encourage teens to volunteer of service,” May 30, 2005, Sec. A13; Joan Ryan: “Army’s war game recruits kids,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 2004, Sec. B1; Eric Gwinn: “Uncle Sam wants you - for ‘America’s Army,’” The Chicago Tribune, November 7, 2003.

Israel’s Collective Psychosis: The Denial Syndrome

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
July 20, 2008 03:45:42 am
Courtesy Of
The People's Voice

This week, Israel sank in an avalanche of national lethargy, hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

Seeking to cope with Hezbullah’s success in getting Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners, dead and living, in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Israeli leaders, media and shapers of public opinion have been indulging in sanctimonious self-glorification while denouncing the other side as “hateful, uncivilized and representing an inferior culture.”

This is a characteristic Israeli behavior. It perfectly characterizes a society that has been living in a state of denial ever since Zionist gangs, aided by western powers, succeeded in uprooting the bulk of native Palestinians from Palestine, their ancestral homeland, and implanting therein Israel, a state based on racism, terror, ethnic cleansing and falsification of history.

The orgy of lying, especially the shocking amenability of most Zionist Jews to take the obscene lies at face value caricatures a people that dreads knowing the truth, let alone coping with it. And when the truth eventually manages to penetrate the “iron wall” of Zionist lies, the custodians of the big lie, which is Zionism, resort to a whole set of defense mechanisms to protect the collective mental sanity of a state whose very existence constitutes a crime against humanity.

Thus, according to this depraved and psychotic mindset, Israel doesn’t murder children and innocent civilians, It is only the victims that bring death upon themselves. And Israelis don’t steal the land and property of Palestinians, since the entire world was created for the sake of the “chosen people.”

And even when Jews do commit “certain mistakes” and “abominable sins,” they are not really to blame for that since it is the victims that always force Jews to make these mistakes.

Hence, the proverbial Palestinian victim of Israeli savagery is always responsible for the demolition of his own home, the murder of his own children and the destruction of his own farm, grove and orchard by Israeli bulldozer!!

Eventually, the entire Palestinian Nakba is a self-inflicted calamity which the Palestinians brought upon themselves because they refused to succumb to the will of the “chosen people.” More to the point, if the Palestinians don’t come to terms with the Nakba and the occupation, a greater Nakba, or holocaust, would be inflicted upon them.

Interestingly, the wave of self-righteous overindulgence in Israel has been led by the establishment people, figures that know too well that Israel doesn’t really represent the culture of peace, but rather the culture of war and aggression; they know that Israel is inculcated with a criminal and murderous mentality that differs very little from the Nazi mentality.

Yes, they do know all of this, but like all murderers, thieves and liars, they dread facing the truth. The truth would simply make them lose their raison d’etre. This is why they always try to turn the black into white, the white into black and the big lie into a “truth” glorified by millions of “beneficiaries” at home and ignorant “fans” abroad.

It may be particularly difficult to convince the “beneficiaries” of their sinfulness, namely the fact that they are living in homes that belong to other people and living on land that belongs to another people.

However, for the sake of the ignorant or naïve fans in Europe and north America as well as the rest of the world, it is imperative that they be delivered from the grip of Zionist lies.

Yes, westerners must be allowed to know the naked truth about this sick and sickening state that deceptively claims to be the sole true inheritor of Judaism while its ideology, behavior and actions are antithetical to all religious and moral values that stress universal justice and human equality.

Let us remember some of the “glorious expressions” of the Zionist culture of love and self-abnegation in recent years.

Chris Hedges is a prominent journalist and author specialized in American and Middle Eastern politics. He worked for a number of publications including the Christian Science Monitor, the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times where he spent 15 years.

In his recent book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, Hedges tells a chilling story from his trip to the Gaza Strip in the heydays of the intifada, or the second Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation.

Hedges watched, ten- and eleven-year-old Palestinian children being lured to their neighborhood’s perimeter fence by taunts from a loudspeaker on the Israeli side. “Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come! The Israeli voice barked insults at the boys’ mothers. The boys responded by hurling their rocks at the jeep with the loudspeaker. The Israelis shot at them with M-16s fitted with silencers. Hedges found the victims in the hospital, children with their stomachs ripped out, and with gaping holes in their limbs.

Writing for “Harper’s Magazine” (see The Nation, March 11, 2002), Hedges wrote: “ Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered. Death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights in Sarajevo, but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.”

Here is another “expression of love:” In November, 2001, an undercover unit of the Israeli army buried a landmine in the sand that flows around Abdullah Siyam Primary School in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

A few hours later, as Palestinian children headed to school, the mine exploded. Five school kids were instantly reduced to broken flesh. The youngest was six. All the victims came from the same extended family: Akram Naim Astal, 6, and his brother Mohammed, 13; Omar Idris Astal, 12, and his brother Anis, 10; and their cousin Muhamemd Sultan Astal, 12. Their young bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. The limbs of one child were found 50 meters away. Some of the kids could only be identified by their school bags, brightly colored and spattered with blood, still dangling from their butchered bodies.

Hasbara doctors in Israel might seek to extenuate the gravity or even whitewash these crimes by claiming that these were “individual acts” that didn’t reflect the overall policy of the Israeli government and army.

However, this is a big lie. In 2001, the noted Israeli award-wining journalist Amira Hass interviewed an Israeli sniper in which the soldier described the commands he received from his superiors:

“Twelve and up, you are allowed to shoot. That is what they tell us,” the soldier said. “So,” responded the reporter, “according to the IDF, the appropriate minimum age group at which to shoot is 12.” The soldier replied: “this is according to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I don’t know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”

A further “expression of love and humanity of Israeli culture” manifested itself, also in Gaza, in 2004, when an Israeli occupation army soldier, dubbed Captain-R, shot a Palestinian girl, Iman al Hums, who was on her way to school. However, the soldier was not sure whether the 13-year-girl died or not. Hence, he walked to the bleeding child, and instead of trying to save her life, he shot here 25 times, emptying his entire magazine of bullets into her tender body. He did what he did in order “ to verify the kill,” a standard Israeli army practice in such circumstances

Now, the reader might be prompted to think that the bloodthirsty murderer was arrested and made to stand trial for his hair-raising crime. Well, the opposite happened. The soldier not only was innocent of any wrongdoing but was also awarded tens of thousands of dollars for being “hurt and libeled by unfavorable media coverage.”

In truth, it is not only Israeli army soldiers and officers who willfully indulge in such Nazi behavior. Zionist rabbis routinely issue religious edicts that would allow Israeli troops to murder non-Jewish children knowingly and deliberately without having to worry about any ramifications, moral or otherwise.

In May 2007, shortly before Israeli occupation soldiers murdered two Gaza children who apparently were searching for scrap metal to sell for a few cents in order help feed their impoverished families, the former Israeli Chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, petitioned the Israeli government to carry out a series of carpet bombing of Gaza population centers.

Elyahu argued that a ground invasion of the world’s most crowded spot would endanger Israeli soldiers. He said “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million, whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Earlier, Elyahu, a prominent Talmudic sage, called on the Israeli occupation army not to refrain from killing Palestinian children if that means saving the lives of Israeli soldiers.

The above-mentioned are only sporadic examples of the barbarian spirit inculcated in Israelis, especially soldiers dispatched to the occupied Palestinian territories to guard the occupation and enforce apartheid.

It is this barbarian mindset that makes Israeli soldiers abduct Palestinian school children and take them to nearby Jewish settlements where they are used as “training objects” by Jewish youngsters. It is this barbarian mentality that makes Jewish soldiers force helpless Palestinian laborers do certain depraved acts such as drinking soldiers’ urine and singing, individually or in unison, “wahad Hommas, wahad fool, Allah Iyhay-yee Mishmar Gvul” (one ‘dish’ hummus, one broad beans, may Allah greet the Border Police)!!!

There are of course thousands, even tens of thousands, of examples which one could easily and readily cite to underscore Israeli barbarianism.

To be sure, this disgraceful reality is known to many Israelis. In 2001, Shulamit Aloni, a former minister of education, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that “we have become a barbarian people.”

So, what makes a leftist, liberal woman see in Israel what the vast bulk of Israelis, including the country’s intelligentsia, wouldn’t see, or more correctly, wouldn’t want to see.

Well, it is Israel’s collective psychosis, the denial syndrome?


July 20, 2008 By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Russia's Plan To Avert Second Cold War

Standoffs over Georgia and a US missile-defense shield stem from one main irritant: Moscow had no hand in designing global security after the USSR collapsed. Medvedev wants to fix that.
By Fred Weir
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
From the July 29, 2008 Edition
Courtesy Of
The Christian Science Monitor

Moscow - The dark clouds gathering this summer between Moscow and the West have some experts concerned that the world is on the brink of a new cold war. They point to two flash points. One, the ex-Soviet state of Georgia, is largely driven by Moscow's fear of NATO expanding into its traditional sphere of influence. The other is a proposed US missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe. Russia has promised to retaliate – possibly by basing nuclear-capable bombers in Cuba, according to an unofficial news report quoting unnamed top security officials last week.

"It's no longer just rhetoric, it could start to get quite serious," says Dmitri Trenin, an analyst with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "The message being put out by Moscow is that the West needs to realize that it's approaching a line, beyond which there could be a real showdown."

But Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, has a plan to arrest the slide by creating an alternative to NATO. Though it has yet to gain traction in the West, Mr. Medvedev's plan, announced in Berlin last month, has been much discussed in the Russian media. In short, it would redesign Europe's security system from the bottom up – but this time, Russian would participate as an equal partner and founder of the new bloc. Russian experts are dubbing the concept "EATO" – Euro-Atlantic Treaty Organization – a big-tent security grouping that would replace NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – and say it is likely to become the signature foreign policy theme of Medvedev's presidency. It would also, say supporters, remove the main irritant in Russia's relations with the West today.

Unlike the former cold war, Russian officials argue, today's growing rift between Moscow and the West is not based on irreconcilable ideological or geopolitical hostility. The main problem, they say, stems from the West's failure to work with Russia to re-imagine global security architecture following the USSR's collapse. Confidantes of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev say that US leaders reneged on pledges to build a "new world order" after Soviet troops withdrew from Eastern Europe and the Communist military alliance – the Warsaw Pact – was disbanded.

"Gorbachev made deep concessions to the West in order to break out of the vicious cycle of the arms race. But later, when Russia was going through a painful economic transition and we needed support, the West turned away," says Andrei Grachev, who was a Kremlin adviser and Gorbachev's presidential spokesman at the time. "Despite promises that had been given to us, the West decided to use [Russia's weakness and economic turmoil] in order to expand NATO to the east. I believe that the anti-Western moods present in Russian society today can be explained by the fact that the West treated Russia as a vanquished enemy," rather than a potential partner, he says.

The sorest point is the inexorable advance of NATO into the USSR's former sphere which could soon see inclusion of the ex-Soviet states of Georgia and Ukraine. Little has come from past attempts to develop a NATO-Russian partnership, and Moscow views the Western alliance as a cold war artifact that unites European countries against Russia. "Russia's view is that NATO creates new divisions in Europe," says Tatiana Parkhalina, director of the official Center for European Security Studies in Moscow. Unlike the previous cycle of NATO expansion, which took in Eastern European states of lesser strategic concern to Russia, the new candidates are part of the core of the former USSR. "Ukraine is felt by Russians as part of traditional Russian lands. To many Russians it's just unthinkable for it to become part of an outside military alliance," she says.

Mr. Trenin argues that if Ukraine is admitted to NATO's membership action program, which could happen as early as December, "that would start a political warfare campaign in Ukraine," he says. "I see Russia ceasing to value the sovereignty of Ukraine now that it's dropping into the US lap. I see a harshening of the tone in Moscow. The whole foreign policy of Russia will change."

Another looming flashpoint is US determination to install antimissile installations in Eastern Europe to counter what it sees as a nuclear missile threat from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. At the Group of Eight summit in Japan earlier this month, Medvedev promised to "retaliate" if the scheme to build radars in the Czech Republic and deploy interceptor rockets in Poland is finalized.

In what experts say were a series of calculated leaks to Moscow newspapers last week, the Kremlin let the world know what such retaliation might look like. It could come in the shape of medium-range nuclear missiles based in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and targeted on European capitals. Or, according to a detailed report in the daily Izvestia that cited top military sources, Russia might revive an old Soviet-era airfield in Cuba as a base for its Tu-95 and Tu-160 long-range nuclear bombers. Russian officials denied the stories, but experts say there's little doubt they were Kremlin-approved.

"I don't think Russian bombers in Cuba is something to be seriously discussed at the moment, but the leak was clearly designed for psychological impact," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading foreign-policy journal. "These stories say to the West: 'You'd better start thinking about this, because we are very, very serious.' "

The Russian alternative, outlined by Medvedev in various statements, is a vague project that would be kicked off by a pan-European meeting of government leaders and security experts to develop a new concept that would include all the post-Soviet states, including Russia. One of the main aims of his presidency, he said, will be to establish a strategic partnership with the European Union that could be the mainstay of a "big Europe without dividing lines."

"The issue of rejoining Europe will be the central theme for Medvedev, whether his proposal is accepted or not," says Gleb Pavlovsky, a longtime Kremlin adviser. "The existing architecture is in crisis, and it isn't working. We need a new design, with an emphasis on security for all countries in Europe."
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