Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, more war

USA: By a margin of 86-3, the US Senate voted Thursday to approve a $91.3 billion supplemental funding bill to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30. The bill brings the total expended on the two wars of aggression to more than $900 billion: here.

The Pakistan military offensive against pro-Taliban militia in the country’s North-West Frontier Province has produced a massive humanitarian crisis. More than one-and-a-half million people have fled their homes. The fighting and resulting exodus of Pashtuns from the NWFP is also exacerbating national-ethnic tensions in Pakistan: here.

Afghanistan’s rebuilding looms as Iraq sequel: here.

5 thoughts on “Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, more war

  1. Fighting in northwest Pakistan has displaced numerous pregnant women and new mothers, Pakistan Newswire reported June 8. Inadequate health care and nutrition and the stress of the conflict and housing displacement are subjecting new mothers, babies, and pregnant women to serious health risks, Islamic Relief medical teams warn. Approximately 69,000 pregnant women are in need of healthcare among the displaced population of 2.5 million.


  2. [Video of the following (5:28 min.) at:

    The Last Empire: What is Left?
    War correspondent, journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger

    “The real tragedy is that Obama, the brand, appears to have crippled or absorbed much of the anti-war movement, the peace movement. Out of 256 Democrats in Congress, just 30 are willing stand up against Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s war party,” adding, “On June 16th, they voted for $106 billion for more war. The ‘out-of-Iraq caucus’ is out of action.”

    “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
    – Milan Kundera.

    Legendary Australian-born investigative journalist John Pilger spoke at the 2009 Socialism Conference held at the Women’s Building on July 4th. Kind of ironic that the organizers chose to host a left-wing event on the national independence day of the one country in the world most afraid of Socialism.

    His subject was “Empire and Obama: Power, Illusion and America’s Last Taboo,” a wordy title whose length Pilger duly apologized for.

    Born in Sydney in 1939, Pilger is one of only two individuals to be twice awarded Britain’s Journalist of the Year. His documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US, and he has been gifted honorary doctorates and human rights awards. He has been an oft vociferous critic of Western foreign policy, especially that of the United States since his early years as a war correspondent in Vietnam.

    Pilger writes for the New Statesman and has written for many other publications including The New York Times and The Guardian (UK). His documentary work stretches from Vietnam – The Quiet Mutiny (1971), through The New Rulers of the World (2001-2), to The War on Democracy (2007). His books include Heroes, Hidden Agendas, and Freedom Next Time. More recently he has turned his sights on the incumbent US president, attacking Barack Obama’s continuation and expansion of the wars in the Middle East.

    America is an empire. There we go, I’ve said it. Shoot me, but it’s true. It has followed in the footsteps of ancient European nations proclaiming the right to bring “liberty” to other nations in exchange for their natural resources.

    “The difference”, says Pilger, “is that America is trained to deny its imperialism.”

    “Americanism is an ideology that is unique because its main feature is its denial that it is an ideology,” he said. “It’s both conservative and its liberal, and it’s right and it’s left – and Barack Obama is its embodiment.”

    Pilger spoke of his time as war correspondent in Vietnam, and of America’s policy of WHAM (Winning Hearts And Minds), which involved handing out packets of Uncle Ben’s rice, Hershey Bars and thousands of toothbrushes in a local village, holding back the portable toilets for the arrival of the Colonel who duly proclaimed: “These gifts represent America.”

    American textbooks shamelessly refer to the period that US troops were conquering Mexico and sending Marines to Nicaragua as the “Age of Innocence.” In fact, states Pilger, “Since 1945, by deed and by example, to use Obama’s words, America has overthrown fifty governments including democracies, crushed some thirty liberation movements, and bombed countless men, women and children to death.” Some food for thought when America regularly claims it wants to bring peace and liberty to other peoples.

    Even before Edward Bernays’ early 20th Century influence on propaganda manipulation, extensive revisionism and omission has enabled the United States to conveniently sweep these atrocities under the carpet. The American Military Machine perpetuates its own raison d’etre, says Pilger, who once asked an American general why he was sending so many B-52s to destroy such a small target. “Because we have them,” came the reply.

    Rest easy, folks: America’s not going to run out of killing machines anytime soon. Nor is it going to run out of people to use them on. Though many believe that the war(s) in the Middle and Far East are being scaled down, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton speaks ominously of “high value targets.”

    “Here is the 45th President of United States, having stacked his government with war mongers, corporate fraudsters, and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, promising not only more of the same, but a whole new war in Pakistan,” said Pilger, arguing that America’s wars have been “justified by the enduring myth of ‘exceptional America,’ a myth the late Harold Pinter described as ‘a brilliant, witty, highly successful, act of hypnosis.'”

    “The man who stayed silent on Gaza is the man who now condemns Iran,” Pilger said. “Obama is the myth that is America’s last taboo.”

    In fact the rise of Obama has coincided with a silencing of the Left. This silence is largely a result of new hope that things will change. The fascinating thing about this new hope that Obama has instilled in us is totally baseless. This supposed swing to the Left, this Socialist revival, is nothing but a smokescreen. Even those who stood to ask questions challenged Pilger’s assertion that we should not cling to hope. No, for this is false hope perpetuated by the current regime.

    “Activism doesn’t give up. Activism doesn’t fall silent. Activism doesn’t rely on the opiate of hope,” Pilger stated. “Real activism has little time for identity politics which, like exceptionalism, can be fake.”

    This hope for something different is engendered, and indeed fostered by the fact that Obama looks different and speaks differently than previous presidents.

    “Race, gender and class can be very seductive,” says Pilger, observing that Bush’s team was one of the most “politically-correct” in history, harboring both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. “It is the class one serves that matters.”

    President Barack Obama is, says Pilger, “a marketing dream. He makes people feel good. He’s a post-modern man with no political baggage, and all that’s fake.”

    “Obama’s very presence in the White House appears to reaffirm ‘the moral nation.'”

    Like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Obama is a great actor; a perfect front-man to pacify the people, to quell their anger with rousing speeches which look and sound impressive but ultimately deliver very little of any substance. He is a modern day Houdini, creating distractions at home in order to hide the real issues that are being glossed over.

    “Whilst President Obama is doing one thing, Brand Obama gets you to believe something else,” Pilger said.

    Of course, Obama is as much a product of the skewed and faulty political system as any other leader and, thus, the blame for his political hypocrisy cannot be laid solely at the feet of the individual. This does not, however, excuse some of his more obvious failings.

    “The real tragedy is that Obama, the brand, appears to have crippled or absorbed much of the anti-war movement, the peace movement. Out of 256 Democrats in Congress, just 30 are willing stand up against Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s war party,” adding, “On June 16th, they voted for $106 billion for more war. The ‘out-of-Iraq caucus’ is out of action.”

    Whilst Americans are losing their jobs and homes, Obama has increased the military budget, contradicting his election promise that the “troops are coming home.”

    “He’s not hateable,” said Pilger of Obama, mentioning the 700 Pakistani civilians killed this year by American military drones, “but he’s on the way.”

    In his many years struggling to uncover the truth in the face of ‘mainstream’ journalism and all it serves, Pilger has come up against many a stone wall. He once said, “The censorship is such on television in the US that films like mine don’t stand a chance.” Hence his works wouldn’t be found on the usual channels.

    The political elite are contemptuous towards the public which “explains why the Progressive attitudes of the public are seldom reported in the media, because they’re not ignorant, they’re subversive; they’re informed; they’re even ‘anti-American.'”

    Quoting Martha Gellhorn, Pilger elaborated, “I’ll tell you what anti-american is. It’s what governments and their vested interests call those who wander America by objecting to war and the theft of resources and believing in all of humanity. There are millions of these Americans in the United States. They are ordinary people who belong to no elite and who judge their government in moral terms, though they would call it ‘common decency.’ They are not vain. They are the people with a weightful conscience, the best of America’s citizens. Sure, they disappear from view now and then, but they are like seeds beneath the snow. I would say they are truly exceptional.”

    Pilger urges us instead to, “Give up on hope, and instead listen to the voices from below. The opportunity within our grasp is to recognize that something is stirring in America, but it’s unfamiliar, perhaps, to many of us on the left but is related to a great popular movement that’s growing all over the world. Polls have shown that more than two-thirds of Americans say the government should care for those who cannot care for themselves. 64% would pay higher taxes to guarantee healthcare for everyone. 60% are favorable towards unions. 70% want nuclear disarmament. 72% want the US completely out of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    These are figures which reflect the word on the street, but would never be publicly aired on mainstream media.

    “My own guess is that a populism is growing once again in America, evoking a powerful force beneath which has a proud history,” Pilger said. “What Obama and the bankers and the generals and the IMF and the CIA and CNN and BBC fear, is ordinary people coming together and acting together. It’s a fear as old as democracy.”

    The system isn’t working, and the people aren’t happy about it, and their swelling ranks are refusing to be silenced.

    Quoting George Orwell, Pilger said, “At a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

    More Info

    Pilger’s documentary films on Google, YouTube


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