Saturday, February 28, 2009

Surging Towards A US-NATO Military Disaster

Surging Towards A US-NATO Military Disaster: Obama's Escalating War Bn Central and South Asia

By Tom Burghardt
Source: Antifascist Calling
February 23, 2009
Courtesy Of Global Research

On February 18, President Barack Obama ordered 17,000 additional U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan. Obama's announcement will result in a major escalation of America's bloody occupation of that war-ravaged country.

Currently, some 36,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, including some 6,000 sent in early January under orders by the outgoing Bush regime. In addition to U.S. forces, 32,000 troops from other NATO countries and a mix of "private military contractors" (armed mercenaries) occupy the Central Asian nation.

When coupled with increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the Pentagon and military strikes inside Pakistan, the prospects for regional war--with incalculable risks for the people of Central- and South Asia--have put paid Obama's electoral hyperbole that his would be a "change" administration.

In a brief written statement issued Tuesday by the White House, Obama declared that "the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border."

Responding to "a months old" request by "General McKiernan and supported by Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander of Central Command," Obama will soon dispatch a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (8,000 troops), an Army Stryker Brigade (4,000 soldiers) and 5,000 support troops.

Claiming that increased troop levels "will contribute to the security of the Afghan people," the White House studiously ignores reports from the United Nations, international human rights organizations--and from NATO itself--that the number of civilians killed by all armed actors increased dramatically over the previous year.

A confidential report titled "Metrics Brief, 2007-2008," was published by Wikileaks. Prepared by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, the 12 page dossier "reveals that civilian deaths from the war in Afghanistan have increased by 46% over the past year." According to the global whistleblowers,

The report shows a dramatic escalation of the war and civil disorder. Coalition deaths increased by 35%, assassinations and kidnappings by 50% and attacks on the Kabul based Government of Hamid Karzai also more than doubled, rising a massive 119%.

The report highlights huge increases on attacks aimed at Coalition forces, including a 27% increase in IED attacks, a 40% rise in rifle and rocket fire and an increase in surface to air fire of 67%.

According to the report, outside of the capital Kabul only one in two families had access to even the most basic health care, and only one in two children had access to a school. ("Wikileaks releases NATO report on civilian deaths," Wikileaks, Press Release, February 16, 2009)

While the majority of civilian deaths were attributed by the United Nations to the criminal actions of the Taliban and the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda, some 828 of 2,118 civilians killed in 2008 were the result of indiscriminate attacks by the Afghan military, U.S. Air Force bombing and berserker American Special Forces units engaged in "counterterrorism" and "counternarcotics" operations. According to The New York Times,

The report singled out special forces and other military units operating outside the normal chains of command. That means their presence and movements are not always known by regular field commanders.

Special forces groups like Navy Seals and paramilitary units operated by the CIA often conduct raids in Afghanistan, and often at night.

The report also said that airstrikes that went awry were often those that were called in by troops under attack.

The United Nations report helps shed light on one of the most divisive issues between the American-led coalition and the Afghan government of Mr. Karzai. (Dexter Filkins, "Afghan Civilian Deaths Rose 40 Percent in 2008," The New York Times, February 18, 2009)

The growing carnage on the ground reflects the political crisis facing the new administration as capitalism's economic meltdown compel our corporatist masters to grab as much of the world's resources as possible to stanch the economic bleed out.

But as in Iraq and the Middle East generally however, the Obama administration's "surge" across Central Asian will prove quixotic--and deadly.

Kyrgyzstan Gives America the Boot

As the politico-military situation rapidly deteriorates, how the Pentagon will keep "surged" troops resupplied is fast becoming a looming nightmare.

With critical supply routes from Pakistan cut by Afghan Talibs and Pakistani Taliban fighters, who have launched coordinated attacks with Central Asian and Arab al-Qaeda guerrillas, the virtual closure of the Khyber Pass in the North-West Frontier Province has fueled a growing logistical crisis. Prior to last December's offensive by insurgents, some 75% of supplies for NATO forces flowed into Afghanistan along this route.

Adding to NATO's headaches, on February 18 Kyrgyzstan's rubber-stamp parliament voted to close the Manas Airbase near the capital Bishkek. According to The Guardian, Wednesday's vote followed "a backroom deal two weeks ago between the country's president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev."

The Americans have six months to pack up and vacate the premises.

The kleptocratic Bakiyev regime has been promised a $2.15 billion loan and a debt write-off by Moscow in a move intended to wrest concessions from the United States to keep the military hardware flowing. Asia Times reported February 20,

In the end, transit salvation for the US and NATO is indeed coming from no one else but Russia--but on Moscow's terms: this means Russia possibly using its own military planes to airlift the supplies. A deceptively charming Medvedev has been on the record identifying "very positive signs" in the new US-Russia chess match. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been on the record saying transit of US and NATO non-military supplies through Russia begins in effect only a few days after the 20th anniversary of the Soviets leaving Kabul. (Pepe Escobar, "Obama, Osama and Medvedev," Asia Times Online, February 20, 2009)

As investigative journalist Pepe Escobar points out, "the price" that the United States and NATO will pay to have their supplies arrive from Russia is being made painfully clear to Washington: "no more encirclement, no more NATO extension, no more anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland for protection against non-existent Iranian missiles. All this has to be negotiated in detail."

But in a potential move seen as a maneuver to bypass Moscow, The Independent reported that "the new US administration had indicated that it was prepared to talk to Iran about the Afghan situation."

No friend of the Sunni-based insurgency next door, nor of U.S.-backed jihadi groups such as Jundullah attacking from Pakistan, Tehran may be willing to cut a deal with Washington. Independent journalist Kim Sengupta writes that "Italy, which assumes the presidency of the G8 this year, said that Tehran would be invited to participate in a summit on Afghanistan. The Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: 'We want to consider how to involve Iran, not whether to involve Iran'."

But how this will play out may be determined by America's stationary aircraft carrier in the Middle East, Israel, and that country's "naval task force" in Washington, the powerful Israel lobby. And with Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right Likud party given the nod by Israeli President Shimon Peres "to take the lead" in forming the next government, it's an even bet that Bibi may cut a deal with Avigdor Lieberman's neofascist Yisrael Beiteinu party. Netanyahu and Lieberman have both threatened to bomb Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, and have called that nation Israel's number one "national security threat."

While Washington's chattering classes prattle on about the need to "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here," the sad reality for the Afghan people is that the Obama administration and their corporatist masters don't give a hoot about their suffering, the unprecedented "surge" in heroin production, the rise and rise of organized crime-linked "Islamic fundamentalists," or for that matter, bringing al-Qaeda to ground. It's all hot air designed to get the American people on-board as imperialism escalates the "right war" in Central- and South Asia.

With the 9/11 attacks as a backdrop--and pretext--for carrying out a long-planned military intervention to conqueror Afghanistan, either through proxies (remember the enthusiasm in petroleum board rooms when the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996!) or now, by installing a narco regime amenable to American demands, the unspoken project remains what it has always been: the "sole superpower's" hegemonic control over the vast oil and gas reserves of Central Asia.

Pakistan, Jihadis and America's Killer Drones

Meanwhile, on the "Pak" side of the "Afpak theatre" America's former "best friends forever," the Pakistani Taliban grouped under the banner of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, TNSM) have been doing some "surging" of their own.

Having successfully concluded a "truce" with the government of President Asif Ali Zardari in the North-West Frontier Province's Malakand District, the nominally secular Pakistan Peoples Party has ceded the political ground to Army and Inter Services Intelligence agency-linked militants with long-standing ties to international terrorist outfits and drug trafficking cartels. In other words, American allies.

But before the ink on the agreement had even dried, a television journalist with Pakistan's Geo network, Musa Khan Khel, covering TNSM head honcho Maulana Sufi Mohammed's triumphant entry into Mingora February 17, was brutally murdered. Riddled with bullets, his nearly decapitated body was found on the side of a road shortly after the TNSM leader announced that "peace" had come to the Swat Valley. Khel, according to reports, had been seeking an interview with TTP "emir" Maulana Fazlullah.

The News reported February 20 that TNSM leaders are meeting with their TTP counterparts to seal the deal to lay down their arms in lieu of the imposition of Sharia law in Malakand.

In 2001, the "peacemaker" and self-proclaimed "Sharia-lover" had led some 10,000 untrained volunteers across the border into Afghanistan to fight the American-led narcotrafficking Northern Alliance during the initial stages of the U.S. invasion. Drawn from madrassas across Pakistan as disposable cannon-fodder for the ISI, thousands were killed.

In the aftermath of the TTP and the Army's bloody operations Swat lay in ruins, its people terrorized and its infrastructure all but destroyed. Describing the region as a "hell-hole of bodies and ruin," The Sunday Times reports that

In the former mountain resort of Malam Jabba, where skiing thrived when the surrounding Swat Valley was an international attraction, one can still see the remnants of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation's flagship hotel. The building was blown up by the Taliban because it was being used for "un-Islamic activities".

Hundreds of other hotels in the valley have been destroyed or forced to close after threats from the militants. (Daud Khattakis, "Into a Taliban wasteland of blood and fear," The Sunday Times, February 22, 2009)

But the destruction of critical infrastructure that fueled the region's economy is but the visible manifestation of a virtual reign of terror that grips Swat Valley. Khattakis writes:

What I found in Swat was a hell-hole. Suicide bombings, car bombs and artillery have scarred the valley's roads and buildings. The charred remains of hospitals and even a madrasah (seminary) litter the landscape.

Nearly 200 schools have been destroyed, all girls over the age of eight are banned from lessons and, in a symbol of the Taliban's hatred of learning, the public library in Mingora has been wrecked.

The Taliban have banned music and dancing, television and internet cafes. Women cannot leave home without wearing a burqa, the all-encompassing robe. Justice has been enforced with floggings and public executions. (The Sunday Times, ibid.)

In the heart of Mingora's bazaar, Green Square is now known as Khooni Chowk, or bloody square "because of the public executions carried out there by Taliban who leave the bullet-riddled bodies of police and soldiers for all to see."

One wonders what justification "Sharia-lover" Sufi Mohammed and his sociopathic son-in-law Fazlullah have for butchering whole families, including children, who simply wish to be left in peace?

According to multiple reports in the Pakistani media, since the TTP's violent take over of the region, organized crime gangs have flourished and car-jackings, armed robberies, kidnappings, rapes and murders as well as an explosive increase in the drug trade have turned Swat into an post-apocalyptic landscape. Like their American counterparts in crime, the message of TTP "emirs" seems to be: "Kill 'em all, and let God sort them out."

But here as elsewhere, the rise of reactionary fundamentalism has far more to do with failing state structures than with religious enthusiasm. Incapable of providing food, employment, housing and health care to its citizens, Pakistani elites, like corporate grifters everywhere, undermine their position by selling-off economic assets to well-connected cronies and ceding educational and social welfare services to "faith-based" groups, as in the U.S.

In this context, The Nation reported February 18 that the Cabinet Committee on Privatization approved the (fire) sale sell-off of some 21 state-owned enterprises, including "four power companies and other state-owned entities including SME Bank, National Power Construction Company, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Post."

Utterly bankrupt and bereft of imagination when its comes to ameliorating the horrendous economic and social hardships faced by Pakistani workers and farmers, the bourgeois PPP government following "advice" from their mentors in Washington, will instead line the pockets of their "constituents," the multinational corporations and the comprador elites who do their bidding.

The Swat truce follows revelations by The Times that the "CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan."

While the Pakistani government has demanded that the U.S. halt drone attacks in the area, The Times discovered "that the CIA has been using the Shamsi airfield--originally built by Arab sheikhs for falconry expeditions in the southwestern province of Baluchistan--for at least a year."

The New York-based whistleblowing intelligence and security website Cryptome published a series of satellite images as part of their "Eyeball" series on February 18. One image, captured in 2006 before construction of a huge hangar meant to conceal America's robot killing machines was completed, show Predator drones on the Shamsi air strip.

According to Cryptome's anonymous correspondent, "This is a very capable base facility with a large hangar in addition to the two Predator support hangars. Nearby is a large secured compound (appears empty) which could support up to a battalion of special ops and associated command and control. The large parking area inside the compound is perfect to land choppers and leave with relative security. All security measures seem fresh."

As I reported February 16, "U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, dropped a bombshell when she revealed that CIA Predator drones are flown from an airbase in Pakistan." Feinstein's disclosure came during hearings February 12 before the Senate Intelligence Committee. While the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have refused to comment, unnamed "U.S. intelligence officials" described the senator's statement as "accurate."

Despite these revelations, Pakistan's Defense Minister Chaudry Ahmad Mukhtar continues to deny "that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is controlling drone attacks from the Shamsi base in Balochistan, and said Pakistan had no secret understanding with the US to use bases in Pakistan to carry out attacks in the Tribal Areas, according to a February 20 report in Daily Times.

Mukhtar said: "Certain news reports claiming that the CIA runs predator flights from the Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan are baseless ... Pakistan has no such understanding with the US to allow it to use its bases for predator attacks."

How the Defense Minister squares his denial with inescapable facts on the ground is another matter entirely. But revelations over the CIA's use of Shamsi Airbase may be the least of the Defense Ministry's problems.

"In a dramatic development," according to The News, "three prominent Pakistani militant commanders--Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazeer--on Friday set aside their differences and promised to jointly fight their enemy in future."

Two of the three Pakistani Taliban leaders were considered "pro-government" and had been recruited to fight Mehsud's TTP and their al-Qaeda allies but have since been alienated from the state due to persistent Predator attacks by the CIA from bases provided by Pakistan. The News reports,

If the three men, who now rule South and North Waziristan tribal region in true sense, got united, they could give a tough time to the government in future.

The militants from Wana said now they had understood Pakistan's divide and rule policy, and decided to get united and fight together against it in future. "Pakistan caused more losses to the Mujahideen than the US. It handed over 700 Arab Mujahideen to the US and jailed our people," the commander alleged. (Mushtaq Yusufzai, "Top militant commanders resolve rift," The News, February 21, 2009)

Islamabad's double-game with the imperialist Dracula on the one hand and the jihadi Frankenstein on the other demonstrates, if nothing else, the impervious nature of the existing political system to "change" on all sides of the "Afpak problem."

Barring a dramatic transformation of the political state of affairs, the bill for American and Pakistani duplicity is coming due, and it will be the people of South Asia who will pay a heavy price.

Tom Burghardt is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Global Research Articles by Tom Burghardt

Conflict In The Congo Is A Resource War

The Conflict In The Congo Is A Resource War Waged By U.S. and British Allies

By Kambale Musavuli
Source: Online Journal
February 22, 2009
Courtesy Of Global Research

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London's staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda's support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda's aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo's wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda's role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report "found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces" to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo's exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo's wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame's Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of its aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda's CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo's resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground -- land expropriation, theft of cattle and other assets -- to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen's "Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?" in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila's government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, "Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product."

He adds, "The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away." Continuing his argument, he believes that "the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania."

Cohen's first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer to its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda's looting of Congo's natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain's implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which, in turn, they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni's son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, which have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers' support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda's recent so-called "house arrest" of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo's importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda's leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo's wealth and devastation of its peoples.

Global Research Articles by Kambale Musavuli

EU, NATO, US: 21st Century Alliance

EU, NATO, US: 21st Century Alliance For Global Domination

By Rick Rozoff
February 19, 2009
Courtesy Of Global Research

With France's reintegration into NATO's military command after a 33 year hiatus to be formalized at this year's Alliance summit in Strasbourg, which will also upgrade the 1999 Strategic Concept with increased emphasis on NATO-EU-US military integration, and with the EU intensifying the creation of a 60,000-troop rapid deployment force and its own and affiliated Nordic battlegroups for use around the world, the mutual relations obtaining among the three major centers of Western economic, political and military power - the EU, NATO and the US - require urgent examination.

To date the conventional wisdom in establishment circles has largely consisted of a set of four false dichotomies:

The progressively more ambitious development of EU military capabilities is in competition with if not a direct challenge to NATO and the strategic trans-Atlantic alliance with Washington.

NATO is a multilateral antidote to US unilateralism.

The EU is a principled practitioner of peaceful diplomacy whereas the US and NATO are often too hasty in relying on the military necessity.

The EU is a or even the main competitor of the US in Europe and increasingly throughout much of the world.

One is free to believe as many of these canards as one chooses, but the words and the actions of the policymakers and officials in charge of enforcing policy in the EU, NATO and the US foreign policy establishment refute them at every turn.

21 of 27 members of the EU are also members of NATO. Of the six that aren't, all except Cyprus (for the time being) - Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden - are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Of the last five, only tiny Malta doesn't have a military contingent serving under NATO in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.

Of the 26 NATO member states, only Norway and the US, Canada and Iceland, the latter three not in Europe and so not qualifying, are in the EU.

The three key players may occasionally quibble over secondary questions of tactics, timing and technicalities, but remain united over substantive and strategic concerns.

The EU and NATO have been military partners openly since 1992 when the Berlin Plus agreement on joint sharing of military assets was signed.

Even EU members that aren't yet in NATO are affected by the continent's subordination to the bloc as the Alliance's 1999 Strategic Charter, still in effect, stipulates that the nuclear arsenals of the United States, in particular, but also of the United Kingdom and France, are "essential to preserve peace" and are "an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance."

With the events of 1989-1991 bringing about the collapse of the post-World War II order in Europe and the world as a whole - the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the breakup of the Soviet Union and the violent fragmentation of Yugoslavia - the major Western powers immediately resumed plans for global domination interrupted after the two world wars and, having learned their own lessons from the latter, formed a condominium to share the spoils of the entire world, not just the multitude of former colonies, territories, protectorates and mandates, but parts of the globe never before available to them, including the former Soviet Union.

Confirmatory of this is a statement by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer almost four years ago:

"NATO and the EU are making rather good progress in coordinating the development of modern military capabilities. I am optimistic that we can extend our cooperation to additional areas where we have a common security interest, where we can complement each other, and reinforce each other’s efforts. And here I mean functional areas...such as the Caucasus and Central Asia."(NATO International, March 31, 2005)

Two months later then US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, coming to that post after being US ambassador to NATO, spoke in a similar strain when he "welcomed a call by the NATO secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, for the alliance and the EU to increase cooperation to ensure security beyond NATO's borders in Europe, Africa and Central Asia."(Associated Press, May 26, 2005)

Burns explained the division of labor intended, as least from Washington's perspective:

"'Let's get it straight. NATO does the big military operations,' but the EU handles peacekeeping operations...."(Ibid)

In the intervening month, April of 2005, then German Defense Minister Peter Struck, addressing a conference on European security in Berlin, underlined the same point in affirming that "It would be totally wrong to view the development of European defense capabilities separately from advances within NATO," and "added that both NATO and the European Union are currently making efforts to be better prepared for out-of-area missions in a bid to adapt to a fast changing security environment.' (Deutsche Welle, April 13, 2005)

That is, the EU and NATO have designated all of the world except for its Western Hemisphere, that presumably belonging to the US (though even there NATO states are involved individually, severally and collectively), as fair game for military deployments.

Another qualitative shift from the pre-1991 international situation and reversion backward to the era of Western European colonial ambitions and pretensions, one of gunboat diplomacy and bayonets drawn against "unruly natives."

In fact the post-Cold War epoch has in essence returned Europe, the West in general and as much of the world as NATO states influence to not only the pre-World War II status quo ante but even further back to the 1800s and the apex of European colonial expansion.

Effectively if not formally the major Western powers have created modern equivalents of the Congress of Vienna of 1815 and the Congress of Berlin of 1878.

The first occurred toward the very end of the Napoleonic Wars with Bonaparte's defeat at Waterloo impending and laid the foundation for the Holy Alliance and its then new order, one which was to insure that never again would European thrones be challenged by the threat of republicanism.

The post-1991 dispensation has reenacted the proscription against the republican form of government and applied it to communist and other variants of socialism and indeed any popular political parties and movements that might defend the interests of the majority, inside Europe or outside it, vis-a-vis transnational - so-called Euro-Atlantic - elites.

The second model, that of the Congress of Berlin, was the opening salvo in redrawing national boundaries in the Balkans and commencing the scramble for Africa, which would be launched in earnest six years later at the Berlin Conference.

Similarities between then and the current period don't require much comment as they are glaringly evident.

The Berlin Conference, attended by representatives of Austria–Hungary, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Spain and Sweden-Norway, opened up all of Africa, especially the Congo River basin and Great Lakes region, to the most brutal and cynical forms of rapine and plunder.

It was also the prototype of joint, collective Western European military and economic onslaughts against virtually defenseless nations, one not long afterward replicated in China in 1900 when military forces from Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States invaded to suppress the Boxer Rebellion and protect Western economic interests.

To demonstrate to what degree the past is now the present, in a jointly written article in The Times of London last June George Robertson and Paddy Ashdown, about both of whom more later, asserted that "Multilateral co-operation at European level must...involve greater defence co-operation if it is to be taken seriously. The drive to create EU battle groups should be accelerated, made fully compatible with Nato response forces and should form the basis of an emerging European counter-insurgency capacity capable of operating in failed states and post-conflict environments." (The Times, June 12, 2008)

The feature, really a military manifesto and call to action for Western elites, also included the observation that "This will be vital if we are called extend public authority into some of the ungoverned spaces that globalisation is helping to generate."

And the piece culminated in this analysis - blunt, revealing and hubristic alike:

"For the first time in more than 200 years we are moving into a world not wholly dominated by the West. If we want to influence this environment rather than be held to ransom by it, and if we want to take hold of some of the worrying features of globalisation, then real, practical multilateralism is a strategic necessity...."

Whether or not the desire of major Western powers and their governing class to hold onto, reclaim and expand global dominance can be seen by anyone else in the world as a necessity, the plan is decidedly strategic.

Unlike the maunderings of obscure academics redesigning the world and its national divisions in the safety of their own minds and plush chairs in university libraries, the pronouncement in The Times appeared there because its authors are anything but abstract theoreticians, historians or political philosophers.

They are major architects and ruthless implementers of the order they advocate, both tested in the post-Cold War or as they themselves may portray it post-modern laboratory that was the Balkans in the 1990s.

Lord George Robertson, former British Defense Secretary and still life-time peer and Baron of Port Ellen, was Secretary General of NATO from 1999-2004 succeeding Javier Solana, who has since gone on to become the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Secretary General of both the Council of the European Union and the Western European Union. In effect, the European Union's collective foreign minister.

Paddy Ashdown was international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from September 2002 to May 2006, ruling with a brazen arbitrariness, highhandedness and ferocity that earned him the informal title of a former age, viceroy, one he arguably came by legitimately both because his father had been an officer in the British colonial service in India and because Ashdown fils' mission and style were not only evocative of the past colonial era but were also emblematic of its current revival.

Nearly four years ago the International Commission on the Balkans, founded by among other institutions the German Marshall Fund of the United States, "issued a scathing critique of EU and UN policies in the Balkans.

"The commission asserts that democracy has been stifled in Bosnia 'by the coercive authority' of Paddy Ashdown, the EU's high representative.

"The international representatives, the commission says, 'dabble in social engineering but are not held accountable when their policies go wrong. If Europe's neocolonial rule becomes further entrenched, it will encourage economic discontent....'"(International Herald Tribune, April 29, 2005)

As though to reward him for the above, a year ago Ashdown was being touted as a successor to his father's former bosses on the Indian subcontinent, to wit what the press at the time referred to as "super envoy" to Afghanistan, and which one British newspaper described in these rhapsodic words:

"The proposed role would see Lord Ashdown being charged with uniting the efforts of both Nato and the UN in Afghanistan. Nato officials are understood to support his candidacy for a job with exceptional power."(The Telegraph, December 6, 2007)

The Afghan government was less enthusiastic than Ashdown's claque in the Western press and the position was not given him, thereby demonstrating the 'pre-modern' make-up and temperament of the Afghan people, the adjective to be explained later.

What Ashdown epitomized to the Afghans, whether or not their government was aware of the antecedents, was the 'post-modern' position of former British diplomat and Cardinal Richelieu to Tony Blair's Louis XVIII in matters of foreign affairs, Robert Cooper.

The grey eminence in question is the author of two books, The Post-Modern State and the World Order (2000) and The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (2003), and contributed a version of the first to the collection Re-Ordering the World: The Long-Term Implications of September 11 (2002).

Cooper has been characterized as the father of the "new liberal imperialism" and was Tony Blair's Special Representative in Afghanistan after the invasion of 2001 for a brief period.

Like Robertson and Ashdown, he played a role in the enforcement as well the elaboration of rationalizations of imperial strategies and policies.

His first book, The Post-Modern State and the World Order, trifurcated the world's nations into pre-modern, modern and post-modern states; in no essential manner different in substance if superficially in style from those of his colonialist forebears in dividing the peoples of the world into civilized and uncivilized nations and cultures.

Variations of this worldview have resurfaced throughout the West after the end of the Cold War, and the new international order which followed permitted the major Western powers to dispense with halfhearted vows to respect the newly freed majority of humanity, often with genuine cultures far older and more venerable than those of their past colonial masters and the latter's North American allies.

After Ashdown was refused the opportunity to continue the family tradition in Afghanistan, he went to work as Javier Solana's right-hand man as Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, a position he holds today.

Cooper is also considered to have been instrumental in the creation of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), originally introduced as the European Security and Defence Identity at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Berlin in 1996 where it was agreed that the Western European Union (WEU) would oversee its creation within NATO structures.

The ESDP is now effectively run by the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, Javier Solana, whose chief lieutenant Cooper is. The ESDP was first tested on the ground in Macedonia in 2003 when it took over for NATO and has remained the EU's main defense and military arm.

Macedonia, the second victim of NATO's 1999 war against Yugoslavia, was the prototype for the EU supplanting NATO occupation and interdiction forces, with the former's EUFOR Concordia succeeding the latter's Operation Allied Harmony.

In 2004 NATO again handed over a protectorate, Bosnia, under its Stabilisation Force (SFOR) to the EU and its EUFOR Althea operation.

In 2008 NATO started transitioning its Kosovo Force (KFOR) command, alone authorized under UN Resolution 1244, to the European Union's Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), drawing harsh condemnation from Serbia and Russia.

In November of last year NATO turned over the far-reaching naval interdiction EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa to the EU, which was described as "something entirely new for the EU because it is taking place far from Europe itself....Operation Atlanta is an ambitious project. The area of sea to be policed is enormous...."(Radio Netherlands, November 21, 2008)

The joint EU-NATO "civilizing mission" to "ungoverned spaces" in the pre-modern and modern world is constantly expanding.

Earlier this month Giampaolo Di Paola, Chairman of NATO's Military Committee, enlarged on the triadic EU-NATO-US worldwide mission by heralding the "need for a new form of world governance in which NATO, the EU, and other major international organisations have a part to play." (ADN Kronos International [Italy], February 13, 2009)

What sort of world governance is meant and who the intended and self-appointed guardians of it are is worth an examination in some depth.

Officials in Brussels and Washington routinely invoke the term international community when it suits their purposes - and just as regularly ignore the wishes of the true community of nations when it doesn't.

The combined population of all 27 EU member states is under 500,000,000, less than a twelfth of the human race.

If the numbers from NATO states that aren't in the EU - the US whose 300,000,000 occupants match 40% of the EU number, Canada, Norway and Iceland - are added, the total is still barely over 800,000,000, less than one-seventh of humanity.

The main EU and European NATO states are the former colonial powers - Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark and the second, 'place in the sun' contingent of Belgium, Italy and Germany.

Starting with trade missions that soon became monopolies, shortly afterward including military outposts and eventually complete economic, political and military subjugation, the major Western powers carved out broad expanses of territory in Asia, Africa, North and Central and South America and all of Oceania as their respective domains and spheres of influence.

Many NATO and EU states still retain the vestiges of that scramble for the world, especially overseas and other non-contiguous, mainly island, possessions originally seized from indigeneous inhabitants.

Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and the United States are in that category.

These are the states that forbid others, even in the European context, the right to exercise influence in territories that were an integral part of their country for several centuries, such as Serbia with Kosovo and Russia with Ukraine.

The main Western nations were also the perpetrators of the African slave trade, the largest forcible migration of people in human history with estimates of those transported across the Atlantic Ocean ranging from 10-30 million from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Those involved included, on one or the other sides of the ocean, often on both, Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark and later the United States.

One of the unspoken foundations of the trans-Atlantic community.

Outdated and discredited terms and concepts like the White Man's Burden, Manifest Destiny, a place in the sun, Lebensraum and empires upon which the sun never sets have been abandoned, but the underlying worldview and geopolitical objectives that motivated them have not and instead have been repackaged under new brand names over the past generation.

Western military forces have returned to nations that thought themselves forever rid of the them; for example, British troops are back in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sierra Leone; French ones in Haiti, returning on the bicentennial of its independence from France, and Cote d'Ivoire; American armed forces are back in the Philippines.

Not just a sum total of individual actions by allied Western powers, what has emerged is a systematic and international nexus of planned and coordinated deployments with precise and extensive geostrategic goals.

Notwithstanding the much-publicized difference of opinion concerning the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 26 NATO states have military personnel assigned to Iraq and neighboring Kuwait under NATO Training Mission - Iraq.

Less than two years after the invasion the Alliance announced that "NATO's goal is to train 1,000 middle- and high-ranking security officers this year" and "the European Union has agreed to train some 700 Iraqi judges, prosecutors and prison guards." (San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2005)

Later in 2005 then US ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland, former security adviser to now past vice-president Dick Cheney, asserted "We need once and for all to break down the rivalries — some real, some imagined — between the EU and NATO.”

Her comments were characterized by a military website as advocating that "NATO and the European Union (EU) must establish a much deeper dialogue than in the past to address the wide range of military, political, equipment and funding issues that face the trans-Atlantic security community...."(Defense News, September 23, 2005)

The US's first ambassador to Afghanistan after the invasion of 2001, James Dobbins, who at the time was director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, reflected a similar stance in urging that "It is time, therefore, to stop asking what NATO can do for the EU, and begin asking what the EU can do for NATO. And Afghanistan is the place to start. This might best be done in a triangular dialogue between NATO, the EU and the United States."(International Herald Tribune, September 30, 2005)

To further demonstrate that the EU-NATO-US triangle affects more than just developments on the European continent, a month after Dobbins' comments Julianne Smith, the deputy director for international security programs of the US think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, at a conference held by the CSIS, rued the fact that:

"“Yes, they confer on the Balkans, but that is not enough. NATO and the EU should be talking about nonproliferation, the Caucasus, Ukraine, Moldova — the whole package.” (Defense News, October 14, 2005)

Klaus Naumann, former head of NATO’s Military Committee, spoke at the same conference and revealed more than he possibly intended to in bemoaning that "Europe is again being haunted by the ghosts of sovereignty,” meaning that residual love of one's land and people is an impediment to the further consolidation of NATO's and the EU's unchallenged domination in Europe and beyond.(Ibid)

The following month the EU's Javier Solana, former NATO Secretary General, said that the EU's expanding military buildup and plans for global deployments were "not about replacing NATO" and instead "by becoming a stronger and more capable international actor, we will be a better partner for the United States," citing the Balkans as the original testing ground for this triumvirate, “Through our concerted efforts, with the United States and NATO...."(Defense News, November 10, 2005)

The next month the aforementioned Klaus Naumann wrote a column which contained the demand that "The EU should...take steps to improve its ability to conduct operations. New EU Battlegroups should be strengthened through regular training and certification, preferably using NATO standards...." (Daily Times [Pakistan], December 1, 2005)

The piece also urged that "The two bodies must expand their strategic dialogue beyond their current focus on the Balkans and Afghanistan" and included the same recomendation made by Julianne Smith earlier that the EU and NATO must jointly escalate their intrusion into other areas including "regions such as Ukraine or Moldova."(Ibid)

The integration of EU and NATO military and foreign policy continued apace for years and reached its crescendo at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania in April of last year.

During the summit "US Permanent Representative to NATO Victoria Nuland asserted that the key to strengthening NATO was to build a stronger European Union."(Der Spiegel, April 1, 2008)

A newspaper from the host country reported that "A high American official has recently stressed that, far from being considered a threat to NATO, the consolidated European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is an immediate necessity...."(Nine O'Clock News, March 31, 2008]

The EU's presidency was held by France last year and French President Nicholas Sarkozy was the prime mover in pushing for the EU-NATO-US axis at the Bucharest summit.

Though he wasn't its only proponent:

"US President George W. Bush backed Thursday the idea that Europe should build up its own defence capability, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, describing it as a 'historic turning point.'

"Bush's support for a 'Europe of defence, as Sarkozy described the intervention, was voiced at a summit of NATO leaders in Bucharest...."(Deutsche Presse-Agentur, April 3, 2008)

Bush's speech at the summit reiterated that "NATO is no longer a static alliance....It is now an expeditionary alliance that is sending its forces
across the world...." (USA Today, April 1, 2008)

His address also contained the by now routine denunciation of the post-World War II [1945-1991] order in Europe with "I said that Europe must overturn the bitter legacy of Yalta, and remove the false boundaries that had divided the continent for too long."(Ibid)

A Romanian news source reported of EU-US relations during the summit that "[T]he quality of Transatlantic cooperation is currently going through a profound transformation, adapting to the new post-Cold War conditions and preparing for a new type of global partnership."(Nine O'Clock News, April 3, 2008)

The same source a day earlier quoted former Romanian foreign secretary Mircea Geoana as claiming that "What this Summit is expected to bring about is....a new alliance of the 21st Century.” (Nine O'Clock News, April 2, 2008)

To week after the summit concluded Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in warning that NATO was bent on usurping the role and functions of the United Nations said, "This attempt to form some new global union with a Western core wishing to claim all but UN functions." (Interfax, April 17, 2008)

With France as the main go-between, as holding the presidency of the EU and having announced its intention to rejoin NATO's military command, the drive for EU-NATO-US military symbiosis accelerated throughout last year.

In a dispatch with the headline "France trumpets EU defences, key plank for NATO future," French Defence Minister Herve Morin boasted of having "boosted the European Union's military capacities, a key condition for France to fully reintegrate into NATO."(Agence France-Presse, November 10, 2008)

Morin provided an idea of the rate of EU military buildup at a meeting of European defense ministers (most wearing both EU and NATO caps) in stating, "I can say, that as of November 10... we have already made substantial and considerable progress, probably as much as we have seen in 10 years."

At the same time Jean-Francois Bureau, NATO's assistant secretary-general for public diplomacy, said that "Twenty-one of 27 EU nations are also members of NATO, and both organizations 'are active together in the same theaters of conflict.'

"'From a NATO perspective, there is a huge need for even more cooperation' with the EU on military matters."(United Press International, November 12, 2008)

The same news report mentioned that, as in Iraq, the EU is training security personnel in Afghanistan.

In December of last year a draft declaration by the European Council on the enhancement of European Security and Defence Policy [ESDP] reaffirmed the goal of "strengthening the strategic partnership between the EU and Nato...."(Irish Times, December 11, 2008)

The above source added "EU leaders are also set to endorse a declaration on the enhancement of capabilities of European Security and Defence Policy [ESDP], which will set new goals for the EU to be able to deploy 60,000 soldiers within 60 days and thousands of civilian personnel on at least a dozen simultaneous missions."(Ibid)

Another account of EU plans for a 60,000-troop rapid reaction force reports that EU leaders issued a joint statement in which they "acknowledged the need to strengthen and optimize Europe's defence capabilities and vowed to work more closely with NATO."(Deutsche Presse-Agentur, December 12, 2008)

In another report from the same day French President Nicholas Sarkozy is paraphrased as affirming "the US no longer saw the ESDP as an aggressive
policy against NATO, with both outgoing President George W. Bush and incoming President Barack Obama now supporting the EU policy."

And is quoted as saying "It's not a choice between the US and the ESDP. The two go together." (EUobserver, December 12, 2008)

On December 9 British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner signed their names to a joint opinion piece which included confirmation of the EU's role in supplementing US and NATO arms and military involvement in the South Caucasus and the interchangeability of NATO and EU roles:

"[T]he EU sent over 200 civilian monitors to Georgia. They arrived within a few weeks of the hostilities....

"There is no such thing as a European army; nor is there a NATO army.

"There are national forces, which are used, according to the needs, for national or multilateral operations, whether in the European framework or the NATO framework." (United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, December 9, 2008)

Leading up to the April 3-4 60th Anniversary NATO summit in Strasbourg and Kehl, earlier this month the heads of state of the two host countries, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, wrote a joint commentary for Le Monde calling for greater EU-NATO cooperation and integration.

At the annual Munich Security Conference on February 7 British Foreign Secretary David Miliband while also advocating tighter integration of EU and NATO policies and actions invoked NATO's mutual defense (war) clause:

"NATO provides a commitment to collective defence. The Article 5 Guarantee and the integrated military structures reassure each and every one of our Allies that their borders are inviolable."(United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, February 7, 2009)

US Vice-President Joe Biden's speech at the conference was interpreted by a major German source as follows:

"The Americans will be scrupulously careful that the confrontation with Tehran does not develop into a one-on-one battle between the US and Iran. Biden's message from Munich is the following: Every NATO country and every member of the European Union is now involved, as of today. This is the price for the new trans-Atlantic openness and cooperation."(Der Spiegel, February 9, 2009)

That is, all NATO states are obligated to the US under Article 5 provisions - the Article was first invoked and acted upon after September 9, 2001 - and the EU is now so inextricably enmeshed with NATO that it too will continue to follow not only NATO but individual US policies and actions.

With the New Year the Czech Republic assumed the presidency of the EU.

It a news report called "Vondra calls for EU, NATO unity on Russia, missiles, gas," Czech Deputy Premier Alexandr Vondra marshalled support for the US missile shield radar site in his nation by stating "Europeans and Americans need to enjoy the same level of protection ... therefore it is important to develop the missile-defence system."(Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 7, 2009)

It's not difficult to trace where matters are proceeding; the EU is becoming integrated with NATO to the point of merging its military, security and foreign affairs policies and programs with the Alliance, and as the US is not only a member, but the central foundation, of NATO, then the EU is also inescapably linked with and in effect subordinated to Washington.

Three days ago the US House majority leader Nancy Pelosi was in Italy where she appealed to not only her host but all of Europe regarding the Afghan War in claiming that "We have to make a judgement....And I mean we, Italy, the European Union, the United States, NATO - all of us - as to what is in our national security interests...."(Agence France-Presse, February 16, 2009)

Two days later Italy announced that it would deploy more troops to Afghanistan.

Western powers assembled under the banner of the NATO star reserve - arrogate to themselves - the exclusive prerogative of intervening in the regional and internal affairs of nations anywhere in the world and the sole right to employ military force beyond their borders.

Although paying lip service to the United Nations when it can be used against a targeted nation or to justify a war before or after the fact, Western leaders see no role for organizations like the 114-state Non-Aligned Movement, the 53-nation African Union, the 33 member Organization of American States, the 23 member Arab League, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States and Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Not in addressing global issues or even in playing a leading role in regional and local matters that impact the respective groups and their constituent member states directly.

One could be pardoned for reworking the NATO acronym as Nordic Aryan Teutonic Order.

Three days ago in a session of the European Parliament pressure was being exerted for the EU to integrate further with NATO.

Ari Vatanen, a member representing France, was among those commissioned for this purpose and said, inter alia, that the EU "can only fully realise its potential by developing a strong transatlantic tie and a complementary relationship with NATO."

To which German Member of the European Parliament Tobias Pfluger responded, "Every effort to strengthen NATO via a closer cooperation with the European Union increases the potential for international conflicts. It will also lead to a further militarization of the EU's foreign policy and accelerate the tendency to use military force in order to 'solve' conflicts."(European Parliament, February 17, 2009)

The positions of Vatanen and Pfluger are not only opposing but exclusive, both in the sense that neither can accomodate the other and that they are the sole alternatives. This is no middle ground or third choice.

Europe, and the world as a whole, can either acquiesce in its domination by an increasingly expansionist and aggressive international military bloc - the first in history - or it can actively organize to dismantle it.

Rick Rozoff is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Global Research Articles by Rick Rozoff

Destabilizing Pakistan, America Plays With Fire

By Tom Burghardt
Source: Antifascist Calling...
February 16, 2009
Courtesy Of Global Research

With the Obama administration preparing a major military escalation across South Asia, the corrupt ruling elites perched in their palaces in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi have demonstrated their contempt for the Pakistani people. Unable, and unwilling, to solve the deep-seated structural problems facing their nation--unemployment, lack of security, rampant crime and corruption, the lack of public education, the absence of health care, free expression and the right to be left alone to live in peace--like the Musharraf clique, the Zardari administration has cut a deal with the imperialist overlords who now threaten destruction on a planetary scale. Caught between the jihadi Frankenstein and the American Draculas waiting in the wings, it is the people of South Asia who will pay a steep price as the Pentagon and their corporatist masters seek a "solution" to what Washington insiders have dubbed the "Af-Pak" problem.

CIA Predators Strike from Pakistan

As the United States ramps-up regional military operations, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, dropped a bombshell when she revealed that CIA Predator drones are flown from an airbase in Pakistan, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Expressing surprise at Pakistan's opposition to missile strikes launched in that country's borderlands with Afghanistan, Feinstein said "As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base."

If true, this latest revelation will only serve to destabilize the civilian government of Pakistan Peoples Party President Asif Ali Zardari.

As if the underscore Feinstein's disclosure, The Guardian reported February 16 that "A US missile strike against suspected militants in a tribal area of Pakistan killed 30 people today, as Islamabad announced a peace deal with extremists in another region that includes the imposition of Islamic law."

The latest strike allegedly targeted a home used by a "Taliban commander close to the Afghan border." This was the fourth Predator missile attack on Pakistan since Obama became President.

Monday's attack followed a strike on February 14. The New York Times reported that two Hellfire missiles fired from CIA Predators struck a compound in South Waziristan killing upwards of 32 people.

According to reports, the target was alleged to be a safe house where Baitullah Mehsud, a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) "emir" and his henchmen often gathered. The New York Times, citing a Pakistani "intelligence official" claimed that "Arab and Uzbek" foreign fighters allied with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets were among those killed.

Caught between the pincers of U.S. imperialism and a home-grown Islamist insurgency with ties to the Afghan Taliban, Washington's "former" allies, al-Qaeda, and elements of its own Army and intelligence services, the Zardari government is in full crisis mode.

The disclosure by Feinstein came during testimony February 12 before the Committee by U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair.

While the CIA refused to comment and DNI Blair did not respond to her statement, unnamed "U.S. intelligence officials" described the senator's remarks as "accurate." Feinstein's spokesperson, Philip J. LaVelle, claimed the senator's comment "was based solely on previous news reports that Predators were operated from bases near Islamabad," the L. A. Times reported.

Pakistani officials were quick to discredit Feinstein's remarks. Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar told Daily Times, "We do have the facilities from where they can fly, but they are not being flown from Pakistani territory. They are being flown from Afghanistan."

The revelations will not sit well with elements within the military and intelligence establishment that continue to favorably view terrorist proxies such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) or for that matter the TTP.

As I previously reported, on January 23 twenty-two people, including 8 or 10 alleged members of al-Qaeda, the rest civilians, were killed when CIA Predator drones slammed into houses in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Despite an escalating campaign that saw some 30 CIA Predator strikes in the latter half of 2008, American officials conceded that the CIA had failed to kill "senior al-Qaeda commanders."

Feinstein's remarks are certain to enflame tensions against Pakistan's civilian government. But with a history of destabilizing civilian regimes viewed as "problematic" to wider geopolitical goals--the U.S. after all, was complicit in the Army and ISI's "soft coups" against Bhutto twice during the 1990s--this may be Washington's intent.

The symbolism of the Predator attacks couldn't be clearer: most of the CIA missile strikes were launched since September when the Zardari administration took power. If this is the case, the United States is playing with fire and most assuredly will get burned, along with millions of South Asia's people caught in the cross-fire.

"Winning" Through Capitulation: the TTP's Long March to Power

Predator missile strikes and American threats aren't the only problems plaguing Pakistan. A home-grown Islamist insurgency has been steadily gaining ground since 2007 and the latest moves by that government's nominal secular leadership is cause for concern.

President Zardari told CBS News' "60 Minutes" Sunday, "We are aware of the fact (the Taliban are) trying to take over the state of Pakistan. So, we're fighting for the survival of Pakistan." However, the government has responded by capitulating to the TTP's demands in NWFP's Malakand district that includes the Swat Valley.

A target of the CIA's February 14 missile strike, Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah, Pakistani veterans of America's anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, command a formidable army.

With links to elements within Pakistan's organized crime-tainted Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and Army officers (serving and retired) who came to prominence during the reign of dictator General Zia ul-Haq, the TTP have been marching eastward from their redoubts in North and South Waziristan, the North-West Frontier Province and now threaten chaos within Pakistan's major population centers.

In the past year alone, TTP militants have launched more than 600 terrorist attacks, killing 2,000 people. Last September, a truck packed with explosives demolished the Marriott hotel in downtown Islamabad, killing 60 and injuring some 260 others. The political fallout was devastating to the Zardari administration when it emerged that the perpetrators were Pakistanis. With a reputation as a grifter--after all, Asif and Benazir had amassed some $1.5 billion in assets after Bhutto's two terms in office--the Yankee overlords made it clear they had no confidence in his administration and would prefer another compliant military "Big Man" to rule the roost.

Since September, the situation has grown markedly worse. TTP and al-Qaeda fighters along with their Afghan Talib cousins, have virtually cut NATO's supply lines into Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass and now threaten Peshawar, the NWFP's capital, a sprawling city of three million people.

According to the latest reports in the Pakistani press, the TTP now control some eighty percent of the territory of the Swat Valley where Mehsud's local commander, Maulana Fazlullah has instituted a reign of terror under the banner of "Sharia Law." The Pakistan military, according to local politicians, lawyers, teachers and residents under threat of death by the militants, has waged an ineffective and counterproductive campaign that has relied on punishing artillery barrages that kill and maim civilians.

While top political and military leaders have "vowed to crush militancy in the North Western parts of the country" according to The Nation, it appears that the government's strategy for "winning" entails a complete capitulation to the TTP's demands, including the imposition of draconian religious strictures on the people of Swat that will be "administered" by the Taliban themselves!

Since the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) affair in 2007, the TTP has challenged the state's writ and has spread sectarian medievalism across Pakistan, launching terrorist strikes in major cities, bombing girls' schools, burning down video shops, executing "immoral" women and beheading secular and leftist opponents. Along with the carnage, organized crime and the drug traffic has markedly increased. Dawn reported,

A high-level security meeting presided over jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday reviewed the situation in tribal areas and the NWFP and decided to continue the military operation in Swat till the establishment of government’s writ. (Syed Irfan Raza, "Operation to go on till writ is restored: Jammers to block Maulana's radio," Dawn, February 14, 2009)

Critics charge however, the government's rhetoric is no more than a band-aid over a gangrenous wound. In a move designed to placate the jihadist Frankenstein and bolster charges of complicity levelled by secular critics, NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain "has said that headway has been made towards implementation of Shariah regulation in Swat valley," according to a report in The News.

Following these talks, The News reported February 15, the government had "finalized" a "five-point agreement," one that negotiated the surrender of women's and worker's rights with Maulana Sufi Mohammed, the chief of the banned Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, TNSM) and father-in-law of TTP "emir" Fazlullah.

On February 16, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the NWFP's Chief Minister announced that the Army will pull out of of active operations in the Malakand district, which includes Swat Valley, after reaching an agreement that will see the imposition of Sharia law on the people--against their wishes.

While Hoti claims that the fundamentalists will "lay down their arms" as a result of the agreement, Pakistani critics believe that the organization will use the state's climb-down to regroup and rearm, gathering strength to launch new operations aimed at the centers of power. Feebly, Hoti told The News, "It is my hope that the armed people will disarm themselves, give up the path of violence and work for restoration of peace in Swat."

NWFP's Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain announced that "after successful negotiations, all un-Islamic laws related to the judicial system, those against the Koran and the Sunnah, would be subject to cancellation and considered null and void," according to The New York Times.

Needless to say, like those conducted by their imperialist overlords, the agreement was negotiated behind the backs of the people affected by Taliban depredations. Following the announcement of the deal the McClatchy Washington Bureau reported,

Many Pakistani Army and intelligence officers ... oppose using force against fellow Muslims, and some have ties to militant groups.

"This (new agreement) is definitely a surrender," said Khadim Hussain of the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy, a policy institute in Islamabad, the capital. "If you keep treating a community as something different from the rest of the country, it will isolate them."

Javed Iqbal, a retired judge, speaking on Pakistani television, said: "It means that there is not one law in the country. It will disintegrate this way. If you concede to this, you will go on conceding." (Saeed Shah, "Pakistani government makes deal with Islamic militants," McClatchy Washington Bureau, February 15, 2009)

Human- and women's rights activist and political commentator, Saba Gul Khattak, the author of Inconvenient Facts: Military regimes and women's political representation in Pakistan writes,

A host of other explanations tell us how the Taliban have managed to spread. For example, some middle ranking army officers and bureaucrats bitterly accuse their superiors of betrayal. They feel frustrated and demoralized by the perception that the Americans, in cahoots with some in leadership positions, play double games, e.g. equipping select Taliban groups with sophisticated technologies that are effectively used against their attempts to restrain the activities of the Taliban. Many analysts blame the Musharraf government for deliberately looking away while the MMA encouraged right wing organizations to spread their operations. ...

These forebodings are augmented by stories of the Taliban's viciousness, their monopoly over the weapons of fear as they demonstrate their brutality by skinning people, slitting their throats and mutilating bodies, collapsing the difference between human beings and animals.

Meanwhile, the affected people continue to protest in a mute manner, bitter against the armed forces and political government for failing them; and, loathing the Taliban for dislodging them from their homes. Some even contend that the military and the Taliban are one and the same--the soldier who guards his security camp in the day wears a turban and becomes a Talib in the evening. ("Are Taliban Inevitable?," The News, February 16, 2009)

The fact is, most Pakistanis believe religion is a private matter and should be separate from the public sphere. But that doesn't inhibit the TTP and other jihadist outfits from imposing their sectarian will by force and now, with the complicity of the state.

While the Western media portray the country as a hot-bed of fundamentalist extremism, the Taliban-linked parties were shown the door in the 2008 national elections, installing "secular" parties busily negotiating their rights away. Closely associated with the venal Musharraf regime, the five-party alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which had garnered some 15% of the vote in 2002 and controlled the NWFP government suffered a devastating loss. As socialist critic and historian Tariq Ali wrote on the deadly embrace of Pakistani elites and their American neocolonial partners,

Back in the heart of Pakistan the most difficult and explosive issue remains social and economic inequality. This is not unrelated to the increase in the number of madrassas. If there were a half-decent state education system, poor families might not feel the need to hand over a son or kdaughter to the clerics in the hope that at least one child will be clothed, fed, and educated. Were there even the semblance of a health care system, many would be saved from illnesses contracted as a result of fatigue and poverty. No government since 1947 has done much to reduce inequality. ...

I spent my last day in Karachi with fishermen in a village near Korangi Creek. The government has signed away the mangroves where shellfish and lobsters flourish, and land is being reclaimed to build Diamond City, Sugar City, and other monstrosities on the Gulf model. The fishermen had been campaigning against these encroachments, but with little success. "We need a tsunami," one of them half joked. We talked about their living conditions. "All we dream of is schools for our children, medicines and clinics in our villages, clean water and electricity in our homes," one woman said. "Is that too much to ask for?" Nobody even mentioned religion. (The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, New York: Scribner, 2008, p. 27)

Not that any this matters to the ruling class in Islamabad who "win" no matter what the cost to the victims of the Army and the jihadi Frankensteins for whom cutting a deal--or a throat--is just another day at the office.

A. Q. Khan's Rehabilitation: Placating the Army

The release of nuclear proliferator Dr. A. Q. Khan from house arrest earlier this month, lifting restrictions imposed in 2004 when the scandal surrounding Pakistan's illicit black market in nuclear technology first broke, is another sign that Zardari is in deep trouble at home. Khan's release was a political decision intended to shore-up support on the president's right flank.

Khan was released February 7 according to Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar "under an agreement" that was not disclosed. Intending to cut-off American criticism of the deal with Khan, IPS reported that

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has categorically stated that Khan stands relieved of his duties and had nothing to do with the country's nuclear-related policies.

"We have successfully broken the network that he had set up and today he has no say and has no access to any sensitive areas of Pakistan," Qureshi said. "A.Q. Khan is history." (Beena Sarwar, "Opening the A. Q. Khan Can of Worms," Inter Press Service, February 11, 2009)

Other Pakistanis however, are far more sceptical of the timing of Khan's rehabilitation.

"The disinformation is so extreme, it is shocking how the private television channels celebrated his release," one Karachi-based observer told IPS, asking not to be named. "How come people are not curious about how he made so much money and brought international disgrace upon the country? He should be in jail and tried for treason."

That is unlikely to happen, say observers, because at least some elements of the Pakistan army must have been involved in Khan's deals, without which they would not have been possible. (IPS, ibid.)

In a July 2008 interview, Khan described how a shipment of centrifuges from Pakistan to North Korea in 2000 was "supervised by the army during the rule of President Pervez Musharraf... the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment," according to IPS.

While London and Washington accepted Musharraf's fairy-tale that Khan was a "rogue scientist" whose ring operated solely for its own profit, for three decades America turned a blind-eye to Pakistan's proliferation schemes and covered-up the deadly trade.

Indeed, for "reasons of state" successive U.S. administrations, stretching from Gerald R. Ford through George W. Bush, utilized the same shadowy intelligence and organized crime networks as did Khan, from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International's "Black Network" to Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company (an ISI asset used in last November's Mumbai terror attacks) as a sources of illicit funds for covert operations and as proxies to attack strategic targets of the United States.

Despite feeble expressions of "concern" from the U.S. State Department, like Islamabad, Washington capos echo the sentiments of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who said just after the High Court ruling, "as far we are concerned, we have said time and again, this chapter is closed."

While the Khan "chapter" may be "closed," the crisis may be far worse than imagined. Daily Times reported February 4 that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei "has said Pakistan's nuclear weapons can fall into the hands of terrorists due to the prevailing instability in the South Asian country." Instability, I might add, that the United States and their NATO partners seem hell-bent on spreading far and wide.

Why then, would the United States embark on such a deadly adventure? If Pakistan were pushed by internal and external forces to fly-apart, it would set the stage for the military occupation of the country by the U.S. and their partners under the guise of "peacekeeping" and "stability operations."

Bordering Iran, Afghanistan, India and China, and occupying a strategic position south of the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, a balkanized Pakistan under the control of the United States would be a spear-tip aimed directly at resource-rich China, India and Russia. However mad such a scenario appears initially, particularly when the threat of catastrophic nuclear war could be one outcome, American brinksmanship cannot be dismissed out of hand.

The global capitalist economic crisis is accelerating and deepening; that much is certain. Attempts by financial mandarins in New York and Washington have failed to ameliorate the underlying contradictions plaguing the system as a whole; a crisis in classic Marxist terms partaking of both a crisis of overproduction and a falling rate of profit.

With financial systems on hair-trigger alert, and governments around the world seeking to balance the books on the backs of the people through massive cut-backs and the destruction of workers' rights, America's corporatist masters may not be looking towards Roosevelt's New Deal as a model but rather to an updated, thoroughly technophilic 21st century fascist model first devised by Hitler and Mussolini--with great fanfare I might add, by political elites in the United States.

In this context, imperialist military adventurism in South Asia and the Middle East may very well be the opening act for new wars of conquest, with incalculable risks for the planet. The people of South Asia would be well-advised to heed Tariq Ali's sage advice: Empires old and new have no friends. They only have interests.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.

Tom Burghardt is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Global Research Articles by Tom Burghardt