Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Complex But Clear US Foreign Policies

By Jack D. Douglas
Courtesy Of "Lew Rockwell"

Recently by Jack D. Douglas: How Totalitarian Police States Are Built

I've heard Congress people and others say repeatedly that the U.S. has no real or clear foreign policy for the Middle East. I think the U.S. has a clear but complex and changing, general policy in the Middle East which we can infer from U.S. actions, but Obama et al. keep using short run tactics and proclamations to deceive the various major powers there and the American people.

There is no simple, overall, constant policy like containment was toward the USSR for its final roughly forty years of existence. But there is a systematic set of nearly absolute goals which are interrelated. Let me set them out a bit starkly and clearly.

1. The U.S. will do whatever is necessary, if possible, to keep the Saudi and Persian Gulf oil flowing at its current rate.

2. The U.S. will protect Israel to keep it going.

3. The U.S. will contain Iran, work to decrease its wealth and power, carry out cyber and spy attacks on vital industries like nuclear enrichment and encourage revolutions against the government to bring it down and put a pro-U.S. one in place.

4. The U.S. will seek to keep in place pro-American puppet regimes by all effective means that do not subvert the other general goals.

5. The U.S. will accept new pro-American regimes when necessary and work to make them more so in every way to control the oil and other vital resources.

6. The U.S. will seek to keep Russia, China, and other non-Western powers out of the Middle East as much as possible consistent with these major goals.

7. The U.S. will work quietly in all ways to subvert and constrain the development of Islamist governments in all nations, especially in the crucial ones of Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and N. Africa where Islamist forces are growing very fast.

8. The U.S. will speak strongly in support of Western values like freedom and democracy and carry a tiny stick and carrot in support of those when an anti-American government or pro-Russian, etc., might emerge.

9. The U.S. will seek in all ways to divide the powers of the region to rule them, while hiding this with warm rhetoric for cooperation.

10. The U.S. will steadfastly, secretly work to slow or stop the growing alliance of Iraq with Iran, of Iran with Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Hamas, etc.

11. The U.S. will use aid, technical help, military training and all such forms of help to advance all of these goals and that of winning hearts and minds.

12. The U.S. will coordinate all of this with similar general policies to control powers and events as much as possible in the whole Central to South Central Asian region.

There are complex and less clearly defined general policies for all of Central Asia and S. Central Asia, especially Afpak.

There is not yet a clear policy on how to contain the growing threat of Chinese power and wealth in all of this and the world.

Obama et al. make all kinds of tactical moves and proclamations which involve weaving and bobbing in different directions at different times to confuse and deceive the enemies and lure friends in the region. One day he seems to sell out Israel, the next he promises eternal protection, and back and forth it goes.

The tactics vary widely but not the general goals. Keep your eyes on the actions, not the words. You will see the complex, general policy of many steadfast goals in operation.

Each of these general goals and all of their complex inter-relations are highly problematic and I believe will not in the end by attained. But it helps to keep the overall system of goals in mind in trying to evaluate what the U.S. is doing.

May 23, 2011

Jack D. Douglas [send him mail] is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on all major aspects of human beings, most notably The Myth of the Welfare State.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

US Politicians Subservient To Israel

The Lobby Takes The Offensive

By Justin Raimondo
Courtesy Of "Lew Rockwell"

Recently by Justin Raimondo: David Frum and the Winds of War

When the President of the United States reiterated longstandingAmerican policy in the Middle East – that the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state must be based on the 1967 borders, give or take a few land swaps here and there – was he really “not surprised,” as he claimed in his speech to AIPAC a few days later, by the ensuing uproar? That’s what he says, but the reality is harder to discern: after all, this was the premise behind George W. Bush’s – and, before him, Bill Clinton’s – public statements on the issue, and the President had every reason to believe this time would be no different.

Yet it was indeed different, because – as I pointed out here – Israel is different, all these years later. And so is the United States. President Obama was caught flat-footed because he and his advisors failed to consider the full import of these changes.

In Israel, a right-wing government has as its relatively “moderate” element Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud-led government is backed in a coalition government by a number of extreme right-wingers who make the hawkish Likudniks look reasonable. Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is a thuggish radical whose racist anti-Arab diatribes have even Israel’s hard-line partisans in the US desperate to keep him in the background. Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, is a neo-fascist outfit which advocates the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and the creation of a “Greater Israel.” According to them, there are no Palestinians – only Jordanians who have infiltrated Israel.

In America, the power of the Israel lobby is much greater than at any time in the past, and certainly since the 1967 war. We are faced, here in this country, with the extraordinary spectacle of a US President confronting a foreign leader with a list of reasonable requests – negotiation in good faith, the abandonment of encroaching “settlements,” an end to the arbitrary humiliations endured by a people under occupation – and the leaders of the opposition are taking the side of the foreign leader. This from a party that revels in its alleged super-“patriotism”! RomneyHuckabee, and the whole Fox network team went into overdrive, following the President’s Mideast speech, flaying him for “betraying” Israel. Fox News even ran a story warning that “Jewish donors” would not back the President’s reelection campaign on account of his supposedly “new” stance.

Yet, as I am not the first to point out, there was nothing new in what the President said about the 1967 borders. That didn’t matter to Obama’s critics, however: so quick were they to pick up the latest party line from Tel Aviv that they didn’t even bother to acknowledge this, but were only concerned with echoing every jot and tittle of the Israeli position. Not since the heyday of the old Communist Party USA, when the Daily Worker was adept at not only defending butanticipating the line handed down by the Kremlin, have we seen such a phenomenon: the kowtowing before a foreign leader by American politicians.

The idea that our leaders are intent on pursuing America’s vital national interests abroad – that the formulation of our foreign policy has to do with determining what those interests are and how best to achieve them – is a myth. As is the case with domestic policy, foreign policy is apolitical question: that is, it’s all about the internal pressures and interests competing for primacy in the policymaking process. Nothing underscores the dynamics of this decision-making procedure quite so starkly and dramatically as the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The US military has been particularly insistent that the question of Palestine be resolved before we can achieve our goals in the Middle East, and secure the defense of American interests more generally. That our unconditional support for Israel has cost us dearly, in terms of our prestige and “pull” in the Arab world, is undeniable. That we are fighting terrorists who use this issue to demonize the US, and provoke attacks on our interests and our citizens throughout the world, is likewise readily apparent.

Yet rather than give up this failed policy, which has led to nothing but trouble, our leaders in both political parties – including the President – have taken every opportunity to pledge themselves to an “ironclad” – as Obama put it – commitment to the survival of Israel as a Jewish state implanted in an Arab sea. And that, furthermore, this commitment is not contingent on Israeli behavior: our support is unconditional and permanent, no matter if Avigdor Lieberman comes to power and deports every Palestinian to the far side of the Jordan river.

In his “make up” speech to AIPAC, Obama once again reiterated this commitment and boasted about all the money we’re shoveling over there so Bibi can build “settlements” and keep the Palestinians in subjection. US “aid” built the wall that separates the Israeli green belt from the great prison-house of the occupied territories, and which makes permanent a land grab on a vast scale. Without that aid, both military and economic, Israel would sink like a stone beneath the demographic waves.

In short, we have the Israelis in a complete state of military and economic dependency – and yet they are calling the tune, and not Washington. What’s up with that?

What’s up is the Israelis have a singularly powerful lobby in the US, which wields such political clout that no politiciancan afford to cross them. We are living in a country where the chief executive must constantly look over his shoulder and worry that Congress will support the position of a foreign leader over the President of the United States. As Pat Buchanan so memorably – and correctly – put it, Congress is “Israeli-occupied territory.” And we aren’t just talking about Republican members pandering to their “born again” Christian fundamentalist constituency, but also Democrats in thrall to a wealthy and well-organized urban constituency which puts Israel first, last, and always.

In Israel, too – where, after forty years of constant warfare, voters are not interested in compromise – domestic politics dictates foreign policy. The Israeli electorate is so far to the right, these days, that a neo-fascist party and aJewish version of Hitler have made huge gains of the sort that were once unthinkable. In its religious fervor, and millennialist hysteria, the Israeli zeitgeist has abandoned its Western and European antecedents, and become almost indistinguishable from its Arab neighbors: fundamentalism is as much a problem in Israel as it is in, say, Egypt, or Jordan. Israel, in short, has returned to its Asian-Oriental roots, and is very far from the idealistic experiment its European founders envisioned at the beginning.

May 24, 2011

Copyright © 2011 Antiwar.com

Obama's Private Killing Machine

Killing Our Way To Defeat

They're known as "JSOC" -- Joint Special Operations Command. They report directly to the president and, as National Journalreporter Marc Ambinder put it "operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directive." John Nagl, a former counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. Petraeus, described JSOC's kill/capture campaign to FRONTLINE as "an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine." http://to.pbs.org/mpzodl

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

U.S. Seems To Be Getting Good At Killing "Taliban", But Why?

By Georgie Anne Geyer

While the United States keeps trying to forget about Afghanistan, a new secret program in Afghanistan is quietly boasting of bringing about an end to the decade-long war.

The program is “kill/capture,” and it has been waged by the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, for the past year, with, according to PBS’s excellent Frontline, 3,000 operations in only the past 90 days. Essentially, it sends special forces out in the dark of night into slumbering Afghan villages to force Taliban leaders out of their hiding places and then shoot them or capture them.

There is only one major problem: It appears rather too often that the American intelligence planners are not certain that the men they are killing or capturing are really Taliban. There is, of course, a larger question: Why are we killing and capturing Taliban when this war was supposed to be about al-Qaida?

Under Gen. David Petraeus, now named to be head of the CIA, the American forces have killed or captured more than 12,000 militants in the past year, according to Frontline. Lt. Col. John Nagl, one of the officers involved in the campaign, is quoted as saying that these American troops are “getting very good at this . . . almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine.”

The pictures of the Americans on patrol that accompany the TV show are terrifying, as they break into mud houses in the middle of the night, dragging out men who may match the pictures they carry with them to identify the Taliban — or may not. I surely couldn’t tell.

Indeed, the examples of kill/capture are not reassuring. The first one shows the Americans in the 101st Airborne arriving in a village in Khost, the heartland of the vicious anti-American Haqqani network, which has its headquarters in Pakistan. But when the American troops arrive there, with a picture of the sought-after Afghan Taliban, they find instead a village elder and his family asleep.

After some back-and-forth conversing in the darkness about the situation, the Americans decide to take the village elder anyway, because they have found a small cache of weapons there. He gets noticeably peeved about it, saying repeatedly through the Afghan translators: “This is very bad. This is why the people are against you. It’s disrespecting us.” After some hours, the elder is let go, saying angrily, “This will have consequences.” Bad sport.

In the other major example offered by the show, which was many months in the making and did not appear to be ideologically motivated or to be anti-military, it turns out that a bus bombed to smithereens because it was filled with Taliban men was actually full of enthusiastic election workers.

“They killed ordinary people,” a local teacher says.

The U.S. military commanders insist they have “very precise intelligence” that leads to these raids, which have helped make the past year the most violent of the war. The Americans “acknowledge that the raids may radicalize Afghans, but this is part of the larger campaign of rolling back the Taliban.”

Most important of all, as then- New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins says in the documentary, “What the Americans have not demonstrated is, ‘Can we hand it over to the Afghans?’ It is far from clear what the results of that will be.”

Forgive me for asking, but why we are doing this at all?

We went into Afghanistan 10 years ago because al-Qaida was there. We detoured to Iraq for matters of personal egos. Today, by our own military’s count, there are merely 50 to 100 members of al-Qaida in Afghanistan — their headquarters are in Pakistan. And by our kill/capture campaign in Afghanistan, we are surely turning more and more of the locals against us.

In Vietnam, we also got sidetracked. After going there to fight the North Vietnamese, we ended up fighting the Vietcong — and then the Laotians, and then the Cambodians — and God only knows who else would have entered the equation had it gone on any longer. And now we are fighting madly in Afghanistan against the Taliban, instead of al-Qaida, and killing all kinds of people. As it goes on and on, the one question that nobody can really answer is: Why?

Georgie Anne Geyer writes for Universal Press Syndicate.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Turkey's Diplomatic Rise

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu (right) has pursued a 'zero conflict with neighbours' policy [GALLO/GETTY] 

As The Global Leadership Of The US Recedes, Turkey Is Positioning Itself As A Key Regional Player.

By Richard Falk
Last Modified: 28 May 2011 14:29
Courtesy Of "Al-Jazeera"

It is against the background of a retreat in global leadership by the US and the ambivalence of other global powers, such as emerging economies from the BRICS group, that Turkey has emerged from its accustomed shadow-land of subordination to the United States.

It is one of the most encouraging dimensions of the global setting in this second decade of the 21st century, and offers the world a secondary model of diplomatic leadership that is already exerting a major influence within its region and beyond.

The credit for this extraordinary development belongs to the top echelons of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), that has governed Turkey since 2002 with increasing populist backing from the citizenry. The priority of this new leadership when first elected was to push as hard as possible on the closed doors of the European Union with the goal of Turkish accession to membership within a few years.

This was a natural issue to concentrate upon as it bridged the basic divide in Turkish society, enlisting even the grudging support of the strict secularists who did little to hide their hostility and suspicions about the AKP and of military commanders who had previously resisted elected leaders that seemed to cross the red lines of Republican Turkey.

The Turkish military periodically intruded upon the governing process whenever their leading generals perceived departures from the vision for modern Turkey fashioned by Kemal Ataturk, whether these departures were attributed to the Marxist left or more recently to conservative Islam.

The unifying effort to satisfy the EU gatekeepers also allowed the AKP to explain and justify its reformist initiatives within Turkey, allowing the government to take some major steps to improve the protection of human rights and even to set limits on the former degree of military control exercised over the civilian governing process. This disciplining of the notorious Turkish "deep state" should not be underestimated in the continuing struggle to deepen constitutional democracy in the country.

As time passed, two developments dampened Turkish eagerness to pursue the EU track: first, an eruption of Islamophobia in several crucial European countries, which meant that Turkish membership in the EU would not come about soon, if ever, no matter how many policy gymnastics demanded by the Europeans were acceded to by Ankara in its futile effort to satisfy EU admission criteria.

Secondly, in light of these locked EU gates, it seemed increasingly sensible for the Turkish government to let go of national hopes and expectations of soon becoming part of Europe, while not altogether abandoning the Turkish goal of eventually being accepted by the EU.

With this understanding, Turkish foreign policy began to pay increasing attention to an attractive array of non-European diplomatic options.

Enter Ahmet Davutoglu

The principal architect of Turkish foreign policy throughout this exploratory period was Ahmet Davutoglu, first as chief advisor to both the prime minister and the foreign minister, and for the past two years as foreign minister himself.

Turkey has been extremely fortunate to have the benefit of Davutoglu's deep historical, political, and cultural understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie on the country's horizons, and the main political leaders of the AKP, especially Prime Minister Recip Teyyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, deserve credit for appreciating and supporting Davutoglu's diplomatic vision - which inevitably has given rise to domestic controversy and is not without risks.

It is rare for a major government to put its trust in such an outstanding intellectual and morally upright personality as Davutoglu; someone who did not emerge from either the corridors of power or the enclaves of economic privilege, and was not beholden to any special interests. Someone who seemingly harboured no political ambitions beyond a professed interest in returning to academic life at the earliest possible time to fulfill his dream of establishing and shaping a world class university as a learning community responsive to his vision of humane politics and ecumenical culture.

Davutoglu combines a brilliant political mind with astounding energy. He is endowed with the skills of a seasoned diplomat, which is rather amazing considering his prior absence of government service. Beyond these capabilities, what is most impressive about this Davutoglu phenomenon is the innovative diplomatic orientation that is daring and extraordinarily attuned to the times.

So far it has taken full advantage of opportunities for expanding Turkish influence and beneficial economic relations. Davutoglu also appreciates the importance of skilled institutional support for Turkish foreign policy, and exhibits an administrative resolve to build an energetic and competent Turkish foreign ministry that understands the role of soft power in the pursuit of peace and justice in the region and the world.

In some respects, Davutoglu's arrival on the scene was timed perfectly for the enactment of such a vision. The Cold War alliance rigidities no longer made sense in the altered conditions of the new century. This freed countries in the Middle East from the constraints of bipolarity, thereby clearing space for diplomatic maneuvres.

Davutoglu also realised that the Middle East - due to its oil reserves, the dangers of further nuclear proliferation, the persistence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the challenge to Western interests by a resurgent Islam - was becoming the new strategic fulcrum of struggle with respect to the unfolding of world history.

In this role, the region was superseding Europe that had been the scene of both world wars in the 20th century and remained the prime strategic site of struggle throughout the Cold War. There was also the widespread appreciation that festering regional tensions posed dangers for Turkey and others, and harmed with prospects for trade, investment, and stability.

Davutoglu's style and approach seemed designed to work wonders in such a regional setting.

First of all, Davutoglu made clear that his goal was not victory, but accommodation and reconciliation based on respect and mutual benefit, expressed vividly by the phrases "zero conflict with neighbours" and a "zero-problems foreign policy".

This approach was dramatically put into practice in relation to Syria, replacing border and policy tensions during prior decades with open borders, an outcome that could not have been anticipated before it happened. Of course, the brutal repression of the Syrian uprising in recent weeks has posed unanticipated and awkward difficulties for Turkey, showing that turbulence of regional politics can nullify seemingly successful conflict-resolving initiatives.

Similarly with Iran, rather than hide behind a wall of fear and hostility, Turkey has refused to be dragged into the confrontational approach insisted upon by Washington and Tel Aviv, seeking along with Brazil to find a pathway to mutual acceptance on the hot button issue of Iran's contested nuclear program.

In reaction, there was much annoyance voiced by those governments that wanted to lend credibility to the military option. Turkey was harshly criticised for "moving out of its lane" by an arrogant foreign policy commentator in the United States.

The imperial pretension here is embarrassingly manifest: Turkey's lane is supposed to be subservience to the hegemonic role of the United States (and Israel) even in the region where it is located, and even taking into account the fact that if war breaks out, Turkey's political and economic interests will be greatly harmed.

Turkey Breaks Old Taboos

While avoiding an abrasive response to a steady stream of criticism from Washington, Turkey has made it clear that it will continue to act as an independent state pursuing its goals on the basis of its values and interests, and is no longer prepared to defer automatically to the United States in the manner that had been the practice during the Cold War.

To be a geopolitical poodle seemed somewhat more justifiable in that context as there existed a shared fear of Soviet expansion that needed US military capabilities as deterrence and containment.

Of course this litany of praise does not mean that everything Davutoglu tried has succeeded, or that there are not still unmet challenges. To attempt as much as he has in such a short time is remarkable, and has been recognised even by the mainstream magazine Foreign Policy, that listed Davutoglu as seventh on the list of the 100 top world thinkers in all fields, placing him immediately behind Celso Amorim, Brazil's much admired foreign minister.

It was appropriate that these two individuals should be rated as the two most highly rated statesmen in the world, and far ahead of such geopolitical heavyweights as those making foreign policy on behalf of the United States and China.

I am not enamored of such evaluations overall, but the acknowledgement of Davutoglu's and Amorim's achievements - as compared to the foreign ministers representing every other country - seems to me to be deserved, and is a revealing acceptance of the dramatic Turkish (and Brazilian) rise to prominence on the global stage of diplomacy.

If we consider the unmet challenges, probably the foremost remains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Davutoglu made a determined effort to engage Israel constructively in several respects. Davutoglu offered Turkey's services as a credible broker to help negotiate a sustainable peace between Syria and Israel, including Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

There was progress for a while, even some hope of an agreement for a brief period, but the process was a casualty of Israel's aggressive attacks on Gaza at the end of 2008, and some bitterness between the two countries ensued as a result of Erdogan's dramatic condemnation of Israel's conduct at the World Economic Forum.

It was also never clear that Israel was prepared to withdraw from the Golan Heights, removing its settlements and settlers, as well as the economic infrastructure that has evolved over the more than forty years of occupation.

Daringly, in the aftermath of the Hamas electoral victory in Gaza at the start of 2006, Turkey - at the urging of Davutoglu - explored the possibilities of treating Hamas as a political actor rather than leaving it out in the cold, branded as "terrorist".

Although these initiatives were widely endorsed throughout the world as constructive, Israel was not ready to move in either of these directions, and so neither was the United States (despite having previously urged Hamas to compete in the Gaza elections, and thereby shift their resistance to Israeli occupation from a violent track to a political one) - but who could say it was not worth the effort to try.

If it had succeeded, the most acute Palestinian misery in Gaza would almost certainly have been lessened, and some kind of wider reconciliation between the two peoples might not seem as remote as it now appears. Davutoglu's attempts with regard to Syria and Hamas, had they succeeded, would have unquestionably been beneficial for the region, and were well worth the attempt.

Less controversial and not as salient, but equally impressive as a departure from the earlier Turkish norm for diplomatic engagement, have been Davutoglu's initiatives in the Balkans and Caucasus, seeking to overcome hostile relations in these troubled regions.

Perhaps his most notable success in these settings was to host an amicable meeting between Bosnia and Serbia, two states formed from the carcass of the former Yugoslavia that had treated each other as enemies ever since the struggles of the 1990s - when Serbia promoted secession of the Serb minority and supported systematic ethnic cleansing of genocidal proportions in Bosnia.

Not only was the meeting a surprising success, but also an agreement was reached to have annual gatherings in the spirit of confidence-building between these previously hostile neighbours.

This diplomatic outreach has produced mainly benefits for Turkey. I believe it has contributed to a growing sense of Turkish self-esteem that reaches backwards in time to the Ottoman glory days - and forward to establish Turkey as a major regional presence with significant global standing and respect.

This status was reflected in Turkey's election to the Security Council for the first time. Turkish hard-core secularists have given this diplomacy a mixed reception, registering complaints about alienating Turkey's previously closest allies, the United States and Israel, without achieving offsetting gains.

Secularists have also objected to what they view as an overly friendly relationship forged with Iran, which is regarded as an anti-secular theocracy. But over time, Turkey's rising regional stature and domestic economic success has diluted such opposition.

The personal achievements of Davutoglu's diplomacy has been reinforced by the wider impacts on the region of Turkey's domestic stability and pragmatic adaptation to the world economic recession. Turkey has become a trusted diplomatic partner throughout the region. In this period of upheaval in the Arab world, Turkey offers a model worth learning from, if not emulating, while of course affirming the autonomy and distinctiveness of each national experience.

Turkey is especially admired for the way it has blended a democratising leadership with Islamic leanings with respect for societal pluralism and secular principles. In this regard, Turkey offers a positive example of accommodating Muslim values and national and cultural traditions that contrast with negative models of repression, rigidity, and abject submission to neoliberal globalisation.

Turkey has avoided the fate that has befallen Iran as a consequence of its outright subordination of politics to religious authoritarianism, as well as overcoming the anti-religious suppression of fundamentalist secular regimes.

Internal Issues

In the end, the future for Turkey remains uncertain.

There are still unresolved problems that could create internal conflict and crisis, including the issue of Kurdish rights and the unresolved conflict over the future of Cyprus - as well as the struggle between the regime and its domestic enemies that has led to disturbing large-scale roundups of opponents charged with political crimes and to the harassment of critical journalists.

Relations with Israel remain tense in the stalemated efforts to restore normality between the two countries in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident of 31 May 2010, when a Turkish ship carrying humanitarian supplies to beleaguered Gaza was attacked in international waters and nine of the political activists and humanitarian workers on board were killed by Israeli commandos.

Perhaps most threatening of all to this Turkish vision of a politically friendly and economically prosperous region is a continuing fear that the encounter with Iran might yet lead to a most destructive war.

Finally, the spillover from the Arab tumult could produce a variety of negative effects due to Euro-US military intrusions as the ongoing intervention in Libya suggests. While this situation presented Turkey with opportunities to serve as a peacemaker, its main effect so far has been to generate dangerous geopolitical tensions within and beyond the region.

All in all, Turkey has emerged from the first decade of the 21st century as a pivotal country in world affairs, often spoken of in the exalted terms as deserving to be now regarded as a junior BRIC, and operating regionally and globally in a manner that is exemplary in many respects.

Turkey cannot alone overcome the continuing global leadership deficit, but its diplomacy during the past decade casts a bright glow in a darkening sky. Turkey more than any other country is providing the world with a set of blueprints that depicts the contours of what benign global leadership could become.

As argued here, such leadership is urgently needed to cope with the destructive sides of a heightened globalisation and with the unmet challenges of a series of environmental, ethical, and political threats to wellbeing of the peoples of the region and the world.

Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).

He is currently serving his fourth year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

Fake Terror Threats Concocted By FBI and NYPD

By Seth Freed Wessler
Monday, May 23 2011, 9:38 AM EST
Courtesy Of "The Color Lines"

Shahawar Matin Siraj immigrated to Queens, N.Y., from Pakistan with his family when he was 16. Siraj began working at his uncle’s Islamic bookshop in Queens where, soon after 9/11, an undercover police officer began coming around and engaging Siraj in conversations about politics and religion. Whatever Siraj said to the officer in those conversations, it was enough for NYPD to soon assign another undercover officer to befriend the young man as well.
That second officer showed Siraj images of victims of American wars in the Middle East and of Guantanamo Bay, and began making up stories about secret terrorist organizations inside the U.S. Over the next year, the undercover agent prodded Siraj to devise a plan to detonate a bomb in New York City, as a means of responding to the U.S. government’s violence. Siraj first agreed but eventually refused to actively participate in the plot, saying, “No, I don’t want to do it.” But after more repeated prodding of the young man, Siraj finally agreed to act as a lookout for others.
A week later, Siraj was called by the NYPD to a police station to deal with an outstanding misdemeanor charge. Upon arrival, he was arrested and charged with conspiracy. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The next day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested and detained Siraj’s mother, sister and father. His mother and sister spent 11 days and his father six months in a New Jersey detention center.
A new report, released last week by New York University’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, documents Siraj’s case alongside two others in which law enforcement has used of legally suspect policing practices that conjure imaginary terrorism plots, which are used to target and entrap Muslims living in the U.S. In each of the three cases the report explores in depth, the defendants were sentenced to 25 years to life for planning terrorist plots that didn’t exist prior to the police or FBI goading them into existence. The FBI and NYPD designed the plots, pushed them on vulnerable young men who had not been involved terrorist organizations and, once the previously law-abiding young men were hooked, triumphantly foiled the supposed danger.
The government’s use of paid, untrained informants, concocted plots and racial profiling of Muslim communities in its frantic effort to stop so-called homegrown terrorism has raised serious human and civil rights concerns. The NYU report builds on a growing body of investigative journalism and advocacy that has called into question both the legality and efficacy of these policing practices. In the past decade, over 200 domestic anti-terrorism cases have used paid informants, according to the Center on Law and Security, also at NYU. Ninety-seven percent of those investigations have resulted in convictions.
In December, Attorney General Eric Holder scoffed at the idea that the FBI’s domestic anti-terrorism practices have amounted to entrapment. “Options are always given all along the way for them to say, ‘You know what, I have changed my mind. I don’t want to do it,’ ” Holder told CBS.
But Siraj in fact told the undercover agent that he did not want to participate. The agent still maintained pressure, pushing the young to play a passive role in a plot that didn’t exist before the agent’s involvement and would never take place.
“They’ve ruined my children’s future, my daughter’s college,” says Siraj’s mother. “Years have been wasted. She’s now the sister of a ‘terrorist.’”
In response to the NYU report, the FBI defended its practices to the Los Angeles Times. “The FBI does not investigate individuals absent specific information that they are committing crimes or pose a risk to national security,” FBI spokeswoman Kathleen Wright wrote by email. “We do not investigate people … based solely on their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation. Our internal guidelines expressly prohibit this conduct as well as such tactics to recruit informants.”
But the NYU report tells a different story. Amna Akbar, one of the authors of the report says, “Lax laws and Islamophobic culture, combined with what are no doubt high pressures on the FBI, NYPD, and prosecutors to create ‘results’ in the war on terrorism, have produced dangerous realities and dangerous incentives for the way that law enforcement is interacting with Muslim communities.”
Akbar says the report “makes clear that we all need to look behind the headlines when it comes to terrorism indictments and policing.”

Has America Miscalculated In Pakistan?

Has America miscalculated in Pakistan?
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, left, is welcomed by Chinese President Hu Jintao for a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Friday, May 20, 2011.

Should Its Relationship With The U.S. Collapse, Islamabad Has Another Patron To Fall Back On: China

TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011 13:01 ET
Courtesy Of "Salon Magazine"

This originally appeared on TomDispatch.
Washington often acts as if Pakistan were its client state, with no other possible patron but the United States. It assumes that Pakistani leaders, having made all the usual declarations about upholding the "sacred sovereignty" of their country, will end up yielding to periodic American demands, including those for a free hand in staging drone attacks in its tribal lands bordering Afghanistan. This is a flawed assessment of Washington's long, tortuous relationship with Islamabad.
A recurring feature of the Obama administration's foreign policy has been its failure to properly measure the strengths (as well as weaknesses) of its challengers, major or minor, as well as its friends, steadfast or fickle. To earlier examples of this phenomenon, one may now add Pakistan.
That country has an active partnership with another major power, potentially a viable substitute for the U.S. should relations with the Obama administration continue to deteriorate. The Islamabad-Washington relationship has swung from close alliance in the Afghan anti-Soviet jihad years of the 1980s to unmistaken alienation in the early 1990s, when Pakistan was on the U.S. watch list as a state supporting international terrorism. Relations between Islamabad and Beijing, on the other hand, have been consistently cordial for almost three decades.Pakistan's Chinese alliance, noted fitfully by the U.S., is one of its most potent weapons in any future showdown with the Obama administration.
Another factor, also poorly assessed, affects an ongoing war. While, in the 1980s, Pakistan acted as the crucial conduit for U.S. aid and weapons to jihadists in Afghanistan, today it could be an obstacle to the delivery of supplies to America's military in Afghanistan. It potentially wields a powerful instrument when it comes to the efficiency with which the U.S. and its NATO allies fight the Taliban. It controls the supply lines to the combat forces in that landlocked country.
Taken together, these two factors make Pakistan a far more formidable and independent force than U.S. policymakersconcede publicly or even privately.
The Supply Line As Jugular
Angered at the potential duplicity of Pakistan in having provided a haven to Osama bin Laden for years, the Obama administration seems to be losing sight of the strength of the cards Islamabad holds in its hand.
To supply the 100,000 American troops now in Afghanistan, as well as 50,000 troops from other NATO nations and more than 100,000employees of private contractors, the Pentagon must have unfettered access to that country through its neighbors. Among the six countries adjoining Afghanistan, only three have seaports, with those of China far too distant to be of practical use. Of the remaining two, Iran -- Washington's number one enemy in the region -- is out. That places Pakistan in a unique position.
Currently about three-quarters of the supplies for the 400-plus U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan -- from gigantic Bagram Air Base to tiny patrol outposts -- go overland via Pakistan or through its air space. These shipments include almost all the lethal cargo and most of the fuel needed by U.S.-led NATO forces. On their arrival at Karachi, the only major Pakistani seaport, these supplies are transferred to trucks, which travel a long route to crossing points on the Afghan border. Of these, two are key: Torkham and Chaman.
Torkham, approached through the famed Khyber Pass, leads directly to Kabul, the Afghan capital, and Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. military facility in the country. Approached through the Bolan Pass in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, Chaman provides a direct route to Kandahar Air Base, the largest U.S. military camp in southern Afghanistan.
Operated by some 4,000 Pakistani drivers and their helpers, nearly 300 trucks and oil tankers pass through Torkham and another 200 through Chaman daily. Increasing attacks on these convoys by Taliban-allied militants in Pakistan starting in 2007 led the Pentagon into a desperate search for alternative supply routes.
With the help of NATO member Latvia, as well as Russia, and Uzbekistan, Pentagon planners succeeded in setting up the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). It is a 3,220-mile railroad link between the Latvian port of Riga and the Uzbek border city of Termez. It is, in turn, connected by a bridge over the Oxus River to the Afghan town of Hairatan. The Uzbek government, however, allows only non-lethal goods to cross its territory. In addition, the Termez-Hairatan route can handle no more than 130 tons of cargo a day. The expense of shipping goods over such a long distance puts a crimp in the Pentagon's $120 billion annual budgetfor the Afghan War, and couldn't possibly replace the Pakistani supply routes.
There is also the Manas Transit Center leased by the U.S. from the government of Kyrgyzstan in December 2001. Due to its proximity to Bagram Air Base, its main functions are transiting coalition forces in and out of Afghanistan, and storing jet fuel for mid-air refueling of U.S. and NATO planes in Afghanistan.
The indispensability of Pakistan's land routes to the Pentagon has given its government significant leverage in countering excessive diplomatic pressure from or continued violations of its sovereignty by Washington. Last September, for instance, after a NATO helicopter gunship crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan in hot pursuit of insurgents and killed three paramilitaries of the Pakistani Frontier Corps in the tribal agency of Kurram, Islamabad responded quickly.
It closed the Khyber Pass route to NATO trucks and oil tankers, which stranded many vehicles en route, giving Pakistani militants an opportunity to torch them. And they did. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a written apology to his Pakistani counterpart General Ashhaq Parvez Kayani, conveying his "most sincere condolences for the regrettable loss of your soldiers killed and wounded on 30 September." Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, issued an apology for the "terrible accident," explaining that the helicopter crew had mistaken the Pakistani paratroopers for insurgents. Yet Pakistan waited eight days before reopening the Torkham border post.
Pakistan's Other Cards: Oil, Terrorism, and China
In this region of rugged terrain, mountain passes play a crucial geopolitical role. When China and Pakistan began negotiating the demarcation of their frontier after the 1962 Sino-Indian War (itself rooted in a border dispute), Beijing insisted on having the Khunjerab Pass in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Islamabad obliged. As a result, the 2,000-square-mile territory it ceded to China as part of the Sino-Pakistan Border and Trade Agreement in March 1963 included that mountain pass.
That agreement, in turn, led to the building of the 800-mile-long Karkoram Highway linking Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Region and the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, now a household name in America. That road sealed a strategic partnership between Beijing and Islamabad that has strong geopolitical, military, and economic components.
Both countries share the common aim of frustrating India's aspiration to become the regional superpower of South Asia. In addition, the Chinese government views Pakistan as a crucial ally in its efforts to acquire energy security in the coming decades.
Given Pakistan's hostility toward India since its establishment in 1947, Beijing made an effort tostrengthen that country militarily and economically following its 1962 war with India. After Delhi exploded a "nuclear device" in 1974, China actively aided Islamabad's nuclear-weapons program. In March 1984, its nuclear testing site at Lop Nor became the venue for a successful explosion of a nuclear bomb assembled by Pakistan. Later, it passed on crucial missile technology to Islamabad.
During this period, China emerged as the main supplier of military hardware to Pakistan. Today, nearly four-fifths of Pakistan's main battle tanks, three-fifths of its warplanes, and three-quarters of its patrol boats and missile crafts are Chinese-made. Given its limited resources, Islamabad cannot afford to buy expensive American or Western arms and has therefore opted for cheaper, less advanced Chinese weapons in greater numbers. Moreover, Pakistan and China have an ongoing co-production project involving the manufacture of JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, similar to America's versatile F-16.
As a consequence, over the past decades a pro-China lobby has emerged in the Pakistani officer corps. It was therefore not surprising when, in the wake of the American raid in Abbottabad, Pakistani military officials let it be known that they might allow the Chinese to examine the rotor of the stealth version of the damaged Black Hawk helicopter left behind by the U.S. Navy SEALS. That threat, though reportedly not carried out, was a clear signal to the U.S.: if it persisted in violating Pakistan's sovereignty and applying too much pressure, the Pakistanis might choose to align even more closely with Washington's rival in Asia, the People's Republic of China. To underline the point, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilanitraveled to Beijing two weeks after the Abbottabad air raid.
Gilani's three-day visit involved the signing of several Sino-Pakistani agreements on trade, finance, science, and technology. The highpoint was his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Following that summit, an official spokesperson announced Beijing's decision to urge Chinese enterprises to strengthen their economic ties with Pakistan by expanding investments there.
Among numerous Sino-Pakistani projects in the pipeline is the building of a railroad between Havelian in Pakistan and Kashgar in China, a plan approved by the two governments in July 2010. This is expected to be the first phase of a far more ambitious undertaking to connect Kashgar with the Pakistani port of Gwadar.
A small fishing village on the Arabian Sea coastline of Baluchistan, Gwadar was transformed into a modern seaport in 2008 by the China Harbor Engineering Company Group, a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Company Group, a giant state-owned corporation. The port is only 330 miles from the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which flows much of China's supplies of Middle Eastern oil. In the wake of the Gilani visit, China has reportedlyagreed to take over future operation of the port.
More than a decade ago, China's leaders decided to reduce the proportion of its oil imports transported by tanker because of the vulnerability of the shipping lanes from the Persian Gulf and East Africa to its ports. These pass through the narrow Malacca Strait, which is guardedby the U.S. Navy. In addition, the 3,500-mile-long journey -- to be undertaken by 60% of China's petroleum imports -- is expensive. By having a significant part of its imported oil shipped to Gwadar and then via rail to Kashgar, China would reduce its shipping costs while securing most of its petroleum imports.
At home, the Chinese government remains wary of the Islamist terrorism practiced by Muslim Uighurs agitating for an independent East Turkestan in Xinjiang. Some of them have links to al-Qaeda. Islamabad has long been aware of this. In October 2003, the Pakistani military killed Hasan Mahsum, leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and in August 2004, the Pakistani and Chinese armies conducted a joint anti-terrorism exercise in Xinjiang.
Almost seven years later, Beijing coupled its satisfaction over the death of Osama bin Laden with praise for Islamabad for pursuing what it termed a "vigorous" policy in combatting terrorism. In stark contrast to the recent blast of criticism from Washington about Pakistan's role in the war on terrorism, coupled with congressional threats to drastically reduce American aid, China laid out a red carpet for Gilani on his visit.
Referring to the "economic losses" Pakistan had suffered in its ongoing counter-terrorism campaigns, the Chinese government called upon the international community to support the Pakistani regime in its attempts to "restore national stability and development in its economy."
The Chinese response to bin Laden's killing and its immediate aftermath in Pakistan should be a reminder to the Obama administration: in its dealings with Pakistan in pursuit of its Afghan goals, it has a weaker hand than it imagines. Someday, Pakistan may block those supply lines and play the China card to Washington's dismay.
  • Dilip Hiro is the author of Secrets and Lies: Operation "Iraqi Freedom" and, most recently, Blood of the Earth: The Battle for the World's Vanishing Oil Resources, both published by Nation Books. 
  • More: Dilip Hiro