Tag Archives: Leon

Obama Increases Pakistan Drone Strikes as Relations Sour

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

President Barack Obama has ordered a sharp increase in drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan in recent months, anticipating the CIA may soon need to halt such operations in Pakistan’s territory, two U.S. officials said.

His decision reflects mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes — mirrored by Pakistani grievances with the U.S. — that have soured relations and weakened security cooperation. The U.S. is withholding at least $3 billion in reimbursements for counterinsurgency operations and security-related funding, according to congressional aides and Pakistani officials.

“We are reaching the limits of our patience, and for that reason it’s extremely important that Pakistan take action” to crack down on armed groups based there that attack American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday in Kabul. ….

Read more » Bloomberg

US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

AFP – The United States is running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens for insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday.

Panetta was speaking during a brief visit to Kabul overshadowed by Afghan fury over a NATO air strike that allegedly killed 18 civilians — an issue that the Pentagon chief did not mention at a news conference.

Panetta left for the airport just hours after his arrival, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged to cut short a trip to Beijing and head home over the deaths of around 40 civilians Wednesday in the air strike and a suicide bombing.

Continue reading US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

Panetta Sets End to Afghan Combat Role for U.S. in 2013

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Panetta says he ‘felt’ Pakistan knew of bin Laden’s hideout

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta still believes someone in authority in Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding before U.S. forces went in to find him, he said in a TV interview to air Sunday.

Intelligence reports found Pakistani military helicopters had passed over the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where U.S. Navy SEALs discovered and killed bin Laden last year, according to excerpts of an interview Panetta gave to CBS News.

“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound. Don’t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls… It was the largest compound in the area.

“So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, ‘What the hell’s going on there?’“ Panetta told CBS.

The Pentagon chief said that concern played a significant factor in Washington not warning Pakistan officials of the impending raid: “it concerned us that, if we, in fact, brought (Pakistan) into it, that– they might…give bin Laden a heads up,” he said. ….

Read more » alArabiya

Urinating on dead bodies is an insult, war is the crime

. US deplores video of Marines urinating on dead

By ROBERT BURNS and PAULINE JELINEK

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has promised Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai a full investigation of an Internet video that purports to depict four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters – a video both men condemned Thursday as deplorable.

At least two of the four men have been identified as Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said a Marine official, speaking on condition of anonymity because there is an active criminal investigation of the incident.

In a public statement, Panetta said such behavior is “entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military” and that those responsible will be held accountable.

The video, posted on the Internet, shows men in Marine combat gear standing in a semi-circle over three bodies. It’s not clear whether the dead were Taliban or civilians or someone else. The title on the posting called them Taliban insurgents and said the men were from Camp Lejeune.

Read more » Associated Press (AP)

Asia Times Online – Pepe’s opinion

– THE ROVING EYE

Pentagon aims at target Pakistan

By Pepe Escobar

Syria will have to wait. The next stop in the Pentagon-coined “long war” is bound to be Pakistan. True, a war is already on in what the Barack Obama administration named AfPak. But crunch time in Pak itself looms closer and closer. Call it the “no bomb left behind” campaign.

Al-Qaeda is a thing of the past; after all, al-Qaeda assets such as Abdelhakim Belhaj are now running Tripoli. The new Washington-manufactured mega-bogeyman is now the Haqqani network.

A relentless, Haqqani-targeted manufacture of consensus industry is already on overdrive, via a constellation of the usual neo-conservative suspects, assorted Republican warmongers, “Pentagon officials” and industrial-military complex shills in corporate media.

The Haqqani network, a force of 15,000 to 20,000 Pashtun fighters led by former anti-Soviet mujahideen figure Jalalludin Haqqani, is a key component of the Afghan insurgency from its bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area.

For Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] agency”. It took Mullen no less than 10 years since Washington’s bombing of Afghanistan to figure this out. Somebody ought to give him a Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the US government narrative, it was the ISI that gave the go-ahead for the Haqqani network to attack the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13.

Pentagon head Leon Panetta has gone on record saying that in response, Washington might go unilateral. This means that the vast numbers of Pashtun farmers, including women and children, who have already been decimated for months by US drone attacks on the tribal areas should be considered as extras in a humanitarian operation. ….

Read more → ASIA TIMES ONLINE

In-camera session: ISI chief shot back at ‘favour-seeking’ Nisar

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: Though he spent a large chunk of the marathon session on the back foot, besieged by politicians, the chief of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency did come out of his shell to silence fiery Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Details of Friday’s closed-door session of a special joint sitting of Parliament continue to trickle out – with some interesting nuggets of information being narrated to The Express Tribune regarding an exchange between Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Chaudhry Nisar.

Reported yesterday was a fiery speech by Nisar against the military establishment – but it emerged, through fresh information, that the DG ISI did not just stand there and take the tirade.

Pasha, who has been at the receiving end of a number of fiery speeches by the PML-N leader over the last few weeks, is said to have shocked Nisar by replying in the same token.

Nisar is said to have risen out of his seat for his speech right as the question and answer session was to begin. But a “visibly angry” Pasha snubbed Nisar in front of a full house.

Pasha claimed that he ‘knew’ why he was being targeted by the leader of the opposition as of late – alleging that Nisar had asked him for a personal favour, which he, as DG ISI, refused to extend.

Since then, said Pasha, Nisar had launched a number of tirades against him in particular and the military in general. However, Pasha said he would not reveal what the favour was on the floor of the august house – but would if asked outside.

An embarrassed Chaudhry Nisar was said to have been taken aback as Pasha continued with his ‘counter-attack’. The DG ISI kept on grilling Nisar, asking the PML-N leader if he knew what the effects of his recent tirades had been. Pasha told the house that on a recent trip to the US he was told by CIA chief Leon Panetta in an important meeting: ‘Look, General Pasha – how can we trust you when your own country’s opposition leader is saying that you cannot be believed?’

Continue reading In-camera session: ISI chief shot back at ‘favour-seeking’ Nisar

Pakistani Military Faces Scrutiny as Unfolding Evidence Suggests Direct Role in Harboring bin Laden

Numerous questions have been raised on how Osama bin Laden could have been living in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad just down the street from Pakistan’s premier military academy. CIA Director Leon Panetta has reportedly said Pakistan was either “knowledgeable or incompetent” when it came to bin Laden’s whereabouts. Some evidence has emerged to indicate that the Pakistani military may have had a direct role in harboring bin Laden. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government is claiming it warned U.S. intelligence two years ago about the compound where bin Laden was killed. We go to Pakistan to speak with Graeme Smith, an award-winning foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada. He was in Abbottabad yesterday investigating the mystery behind the bin Laden compound. [includes rush transcript] ….

Read more : Democracy Now

Mercenaries for the Middle East – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh.

Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals”. — The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky

In his 1983 masterpiece, Can Pakistan survive? The death of a state, Tariq Ali opens the section on Pakistan’s foreign policy during the Z A Bhutto days with the above quote from Trotsky. After duly recognising the limitations of generalising this aphorism, Tariq Ali had noted that many third-world capitals pursue a foreign policy closely mirroring their domestic economic and political policies but perhaps none has done so more grotesquely than Islamabad. Tariq Ali had written:

One of the commodities exported was labour, and the remittances sent back by migrant workers provided nearly 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It was also reported that 10,000 Pakistani prostitutes had been dispatched to the Gulf states by the United Bank Limited (UBL), to strengthen its reserves of foreign currency. Soldiers and officers were also leased out as mercenaries to a number of states in that region. In some ways it was telling indictment of the Pakistani state that it can only survive by selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs.”

The Pakistani military establishment’s cooperation with Arab dictators obviously dates back to the Ayub Khan era and the UK and US-sponsored Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or Baghdad Pact of 1955. However, the surge in the export of mercenaries that Tariq Ali was alluding to was not because of the western sponsorship of such legions but because Pakistan, in 1971, had declared a moratorium on repayment of its foreign debt and had to look for financial aid elsewhere while the IMF would again agree to a loan (which it eventually did). While one cannot confirm the veracity of the claim about the UBL’s venture, the events of the last several months show that somehow the grotesque mediocrity of the Pakistani establishment keeps repeating its antics, as far as the export of the mercenaries goes.

The Arab spring has created unique geopolitical scenarios where old alliances are falling apart — or at least are no longer trustworthy — while new realities are taking shape much to the discontent of regional autocrats. I have repeatedly stated that Barack Obama’s instinct is to side with the democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, without intervening directly, even though cliques within his administration have been able to drag him into the Libyan morass. Obama’s handling of Hosni Mubarak’s fall did not go well with Saudi king Abdullah and the bitter exchange between the two, during a phone conversation, is rather well known. The wily Saudi monarch subsequently concluded that if there were to be an uprising in his courtyard, the Americans would not come to his rescue. And unless a smoking gun can be traced to Tehran, Abdullah is right. With Obama getting re-elected — yes I said it — in 2012, the Saudis have chosen to exercise other options that they have heavily invested in, for decades, to protect their courtyard and backyard.

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh. But they also know that the democratic contagion can spread at the periphery of the Kingdom, with the oil-rich Eastern province slipping out of control quickly or the disquiet at the Yemeni border keeping Riyadh distracted (the latter was tested by both Gamal Nasser and Iran). The Saudi plan, just as in the 1969 bombing of Yemen by Pakistani pilots flying Saudi planes, is to use the trusted Pakistani troops to bolster the defence of not only the Saudi regime but of its client states like Bahrain.

It is not a surprise then that before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain on March 13, 2011, the chief of Saudi Land Forces, General Abdul Rahman Murshid visited Pakistan and before that, on March 9, met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Bahrain had already requested and received assurance for military help from Pakistan in late February 2011. In fact, a leading Urdu paper carried an advertisement from the Fauji Foundation Pakistan on February 25 and March 1, seeking men for recruitment to the Bahrain National Guard. The qualifications sought were the following: age 20-25, height of six-feet or taller and military/security service background especially in riot control, which suggest that enrolment was not exactly for the Manama Red Crescent Society.

After the Saudi army brutally crushed the uprising in Bahrain, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the State Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. While the Bahraini media splashed pictures of the handshake between Ms Khar and Sheikh Khalid, announcing Pakistani support to Bahrain, the actual backing had been pledged by the Chief of General Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wayne, whom the Bahraini minster met on March 29.

In her article titled ‘Bahrain or bust?’, Miranda Husain writes: “Chomsky believes Pakistani presence in Bahrain can be seen as part of a US-backed alliance to safeguard western access to the region’s oil …The US has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations… Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world.” Ms Husain and the American Baba-e-Socialism (Father of Socialism), Chomsky, conclude with the hope that Pakistan should not meddle in the Middle East.

I believe that Chomsky’s reading of the situation in the Persian Gulf is dead wrong. It is the divergence — not confluence — of US-Saudi-Pakistani interests that is the trigger for potential Pakistani involvement there. The Pakistani brass’ handling of the Raymond Davis affair and now its insistence — through bravado, not subtlety — on redefining the redlines with the US indicates that just like the 1971 situation, an alternative funding source to the IMF has been secured. The Pasha-Panetta meeting has raised more issues than it has solved. Pakistani-Saudi interests are at odds with the US and are confluent with each other.

From the Kerry-Lugar Bill to the Raymond Davis saga, the mullahs have been deployed swiftly to create an impression of public support for the establishment’s designs. Last Friday’s mobilisation of the religious parties in favour of the Saudis is the establishment’s standard drill and will be repeated as needed. The Pakistani deep state apparently has decided to keep selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs. The domestic policy of coercion and chaos will be continued in foreign lands too.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Russia Weighs What to Do With Lenin’s Body

By C. J. CHIVERS

MOSCOW, Oct. 4 – For eight decades he has been lying in state on public display, a cadaver in a succession of dark suits, encased in a glass box beside a walkway in the basement of his granite mausoleum. Many who revere him say he is at peace, the leader in repose beneath the lights. Others think he just looks macabre.

Time has been unkind to Lenin, whose remains here in Red Square are said to sprout occasional fungi, and whose ideology and party long ago fell to ruins. Now the inevitable question has returned. Should his body be moved?

Revisiting a proposal that thwarted Boris N. Yeltsin, who faced down tanks but in his time as president could not persuade Russians to remove the Soviet Union’s founder from his place of honor, a senior aide to President Vladimir V. Putin raised the matter last week, saying it was time to bury the man. …

Read more : The New York Times

Literature and Revolution

Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution

“Trotsky was perhaps the greatest representative in history of the Marxist school of literary criticism, which itself incorporated what was most farsighted in the aesthetic criticism produced by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”

This extraordinary work of Marxist literary criticism, first published in 1924, is a further illustration of the author’s multifaceted genius. Leon Trotsky, co-leader of the Russian Revolution and its leading orator, Soviet foreign minister and founder and leader of the Red Army, was also one of the leading Marxist critics of this period.

Trotsky subjects the leading trends in literature and art in the early years of the revolution to criticism that is sharp but never tendentious. He illuminates and develops the Marxist method of historical materialism, rejecting “art for art’s sake” conceptions as well as their apparent opposite, the theories of “proletarian culture” and “proletarian art,” then becoming fashionable in certain left circles. …

Mehring Books is pleased to make Literature and Revolution by Leon Trotsky available to readers of the World Socialist Web Site. Click here to order

Remembering Leon Trotsky

By: Hisam Memon

A man of revolution, brave, demagogue and replete with wisdom and sincerity “LEON TROTSKY” was assassinated 21st August in 1940 by Stalinist faction with ice axe. He was a friend of great revolutionary hero Lenin, who revolved in Russia in 1917. Which is known as “OCTOBER INQLAB” in our Sindh and I have been observing Russian Revolution has been a mental monument for the people, who learnt much from the Russian literature and revolution.

Now the radicals inclinations have been dimmed and the minds of the people have been dipped into the lust of gaining status and hoarding money.

I know the people talk of revolution, they have memorized their political role and they still have from the past….

How long the same attitude of greatness would be lasting, people plasticize and memorize the things, but are not pragmatic. People searches behind short cut and they are cut from the actual political role.

People are mentally filled with the certain experience and feel that they have done that all individually. ..

I just remember the things and could not have concession in this regard, because it’s a matter of history and history does not forgive.

Continue reading Remembering Leon Trotsky