In This Edition: Introducing The Warmongers And Their War - George “Dubya” Bush - Tony “Bomber” Blair – Vladimir “The Spook” Putin - Operation Enduring Freedom: The Theory And The Reality
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Sludge Report #112
Introducing The Warmongers And Their War
As what could in time develop into World War III begins, it is worth casting back in time a little, and bringing to mind a bit of the pre 911 background to the current conflict to the fore.
Who are the people who are today taking the world to war? What are their records in the death and destruction stakes? Who appointed them? Should we trust them?
Later in this report C.D. Sludge considers what our military leaders say their objectives are, and then comments on the likely real consequences of their actions.
George “Dubya” Bush
At the apex of the military industrial complex that has today brought us to what threatens to become WWIII , stands George W. Bush Junior, a.k.a Dubya.
George is the son of a CIA boss (and later President) who was in turn largely responsible for the last American war in Afghanistan. In contrast to his son’s war, George Senior’s Afghanistan war was a proxy “deniable” war, during which the target of the current campaign, Osama bin Laden, was, somewhat ironically, a US ally.
George “Dubya” Bush – in theory the leader of the self-proclaimed “greatest democracy on earth” - was not in fact elected to the role of President of the USA. Rather, he was appointed by the US Supreme Court in a split, politically partisan, decision that is widely considered the darkest moment in the court’s illustrious history.
The court case came about because a racially biased ballot vote counting system in Florida - a state led by Dubya’s brother Jeb - delivered an inconclusive result. Florida’s chief electoral official, a republican and supporters of Dubya, then refused to allow a proper count of the votes, and eventually time and the patience of the US people ran out.
Since becoming President of the USA, George Bush has supervised a notable raising of tensions in the Middle East. His administration led a resumption of regular bombing operations – with the British – of Iraqi air defences. Meanwhile the US formally stepped back from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for several months, thereby allowing it to dramatically intensify. Reluctantly drawn back into the Palestinian question, the administration has spectacularly failed in its attempts to stop blatantly illegal practices of the Israeli’s such as the recently resumed targetted killings policy.
In the wider world of diplomatic relations the George Bush administration has pursued an essentially isolationist policy.
The US has - under Bush’s leadership - rejected the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty, refused to consent to a UN Small Arms Treaty and has advanced National Missile Defence plans in the face of trenchant opposition from Europe, Russia and China.
The role of self-appointed deputy world sheriff is today being filled by UK Prime Minister Tony “Bomber” Blair, who, because he is far less prone to running off at the mouth (e.g. talking about “crusades against evil doers”) than Dubya, appears to be taking the role of chief war spokesperson.
Blair, like George Bush and his predecessors in the White House, has exhibited a remarkable level of contempt for international law over an extended period. Standing alongside the US, his government has for nearly a decade participated in the enforcement of child killing sanctions regime, and the no-fly zone in the North and South of Iraq.
In 1999, in the Balkans, the UK took a leading role in the air war against Serbia during which NATO adopted a policy of casualty minimisation through the use of high altitude bombing.
This policy in turn led to hundreds of Kosovar civilian casualties when NATO pilots found it difficult to tell the difference between refugee tractors and Serbian tanks from 12,000 feet.
Vladimir “The Spook” Putin
Arguably the third most important member of the alleged global “Coalition Against Terrorism” - and another member of the UN Security Council’s veto carrying permanent five - is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Like Dubya’s dad, Vlad Putin is a former spy. Like Dubya himself, Putin can only loosely claim to be an “elected” head of state.
In December 1999 then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – a relatively unknown bureaucrat at the time - appointed himself as acting President of the Russian Federation when Boris Yeltsin suddenly decided to step aside from the tiller of the Russian state on “medical grounds”.
Over the following months, leading up to Russian elections, Putin cynically harnessed a brutal war against Chechen rebels (backed by the Taliban) to his electoral advantage.
Meanwhile he suppressed opposition parties using the apparatus of the state, his control over state media, and his close associations with Russian media barons.
In the final weeks before his “election” as Russian President news emerged (See.. Two Weeks From E-Day Putin’s Web Begins To Fray ) that there were clear links between Putin’s FSB – the successor to the KGB – and the Moscow apartment bombings which had been used as the excuse to begin the Russian offensive in Chechnya.
When he was eventually “elected” President, Putin’s victory was widely criticised by international election monitors as being a long way short of a fair or free election.
And so in summary the global “Coalition Against Terrorism” that commenced its attacks on Afghanistan this morning is being driven by two heads of state with family backgrounds from the murky world of “intelligence”, men who acquired their “elected” positions in highly dubious circumstances. Meanwhile the third principal member of the coalition has, over an extended period, demonstrated a high level of contempt for international law, and for an advanced level of cowardice when it comes to participating in military adventures abroad.
Operation Enduring Freedom: The Theory And The Reality
So what are the objectives of the war that has begun today? And what will be its realities?
In theory the purpose of the bombing campaign is three fold:
1. to remove the “Taliban” as the Government of Afghanistan – in punishment for their protection of terrorist Osama bin Laden;
2. to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his network of terrorists, and thereby eliminate the threat Osama and his friends represent to world peace and security – and;
3. to remove Taliban air defences and thereby enable the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan’s innocent civilian population, so as to enable the war against terrorism to be viewed somehow as a “compassionate” and “just” war.
To this end the US has been building a “coalition against terrorism” over the past three weeks.
Impressively the US has appeared to secure – after a last minute visit from Tony Blair to Islamabad – the permission of Afghanistan’s neighbour (and former Taliban ally) Pakistan to the attacks.
After winning this agreement over the weekend, Blair held a Press Conference with Pakistan’s President during which they agreed that any new government in Afghanistan would need to be a “broad based” government, and not comprised solely of the US’s new (and Russia’s old) allies in the “Northern Alliance”.
As the position of Pakistan in relation to today’s war is critical and much misunderstood, it deserves further comment.
Over the past few weeks Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf (whose name Dubya found it impossible to remember during his election campaign) has been doing a remarkable impression of being supportive of the US in its quest for justice in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks.
Seemingly Musharraf has provided an ameliorating influence over US and its NATO allies, counselling them about the likely adverse consequences of any precipitative actions.
However, while supportive on one level, Musharraf has been clear throughout the post 911 period on a number of key points. Musharraf has said:
1. the “Northern Alliance” are not the answer to the
question of who should become the new government of
2. any attacks launched against Afghanistan ought to be short lived and decisive if they are to avoid both a humanitarian disaster, and destabilising Pakistan;
3. Pakistan, while willing to allow attacks from its territory, is not willing to become involved itself in any conflict with its own forces.
In the context of these clearly stated positions from Pakistan, the official “objectives” of the air campaign that began today deserve some re-examination.
1. “to remove the “Taliban” as the Government of Afghanistan – in punishment for their protection of terrorist Osama bin Laden”
In order to remove the Taliban and impose a new government in Afghanistan a ground campaign is necessary. The Taliban have an estimated 300,000 troops at their disposal. Meanwhile the US and British have launched an air campaign only against the Taliban. They do not have sufficient soldiers in the region to conduct a ground campaign, and would appear to have no intention of doing so in any case. Special force insurgencies, aimed at “smoking out” Osama bin Laden, may or may not be successful, but they certainly will not remove the Taliban. Meanwhile the US’s new allies, the Northern Alliance, are wildly outnumbered and out-gunned by the Taliban. And in any event – as discussed above - Tony Blair has agreed on behalf of the coalition against terrorism that they are not expected to form any new government on their own. Finally, Pakistan is unwilling to become involved directly.
CONCLUSION: The US and the UK - in spite of numerous public statements to the contrary - are reverting to form. Their clear intention is to again pursue a likely ineffective high altitude bombing campaign aiming to accomplish objectives that can not possibly be achieved.
2. “to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his network of terrorists, and thereby eliminate the threat Osama and his friends represent to world peace and security;”
While US, UK, NZ and Australian special forces may or may not be successful in their quest to kill Osama bin Laden, even if they succeed to doing so they will not remove the threat bin Laden represents to peace and security. If they succeed in killing him they will create in many Islamic eyes a martyr. By its very nature bin Laden’s Al Qaeda movement is a coalition of groups spread over numerous nations (including it seems numerous active cells inside the USA), and so even if all the Afghanistan based bin Laden sympathisers were eliminated the threat would not be negated. In fact as a result of this morning’s actions – clearly anticipated by bin Laden – the “coalition against terrorism” has almost certainly delivered the green light to a new wave of attacks against high profile western targets.
CONCLUSION: In its actions this morning, the threat to the Western World has not diminished, it has grown, exponentially. Now the entire Taliban army and its supporters throughout the world will doubtless believe they can legitimately attack US interests and targets around the world. Regardless of how successful current operations in Afghanistan are, the objective of securing peace and security for the world has already been materially damaged by the attacks launched this morning. This outcome is what bin Laden both expected, and wanted.
3. “to remove Taliban air defences and thereby enable the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan’s innocent civilian population, so as to enable the war against terrorism to be a ‘compassionate’ war.”
The front line of the Taliban’s air defences comprises US built “stinger” missiles. These missiles were used to stunning effect against the Russian army in the war during the 1980s. They can be carried and launched by a single person from the shoulder and require neither radar installations nor any fixed position of any kind. The threat they represent cannot be removed by high-altitude bombing.
CONCLUSION: The claims by the US that they will be running a simultaneous humanitarian operation for the relief of innocent Afghani civilians are probably nothing more than pure hot air, misinformation spread by the White House, the State Department and the UK Government for the purpose of allaying public concerns within their own constituencies about inhumane and illegal military actions. (NOTE: C.D. Sludge would sorely like this conclusion to be proved wrong, and hopes to see some evidence of this in the coming days. However Sludge suspects that only isolated pockets of “friendly” Afghanis will receive aid, while the vast bulk of the Afghani population – out of the safe range of US food deliveries – will be left to starve.)
In conclusion then the campaign in Afghanistan launched today is in essence purely destructive.
Operation “Enduring Freedom” as it is supposedly known is, effectively destroys:
- any glimmers of global unity
that have emerged post 911 in the so-called war against
- any hopes that the Western world might have had that the WTC attacks would be a one-off event;
- any hopes that, as a result of the tragic events in New York of September 11th, the world might have developed into a safer place;
- the life expectancy of the children of Afghanistan;
- the prospects of the nuclear capable Pakistan Government remaining both stable and sympathetic to Western interests;
- the prospects of Middle East peace;
- the global economy;
It would perhaps more appropriately be named “Operation Hope Destruction”.
Finally, in response to usually quite sensible BBC reporter based in Pakistan who commented last night (before the bombing had begun) that the only people still opposed to military strikes against the Taliban in Pakistan were “religious extremists”.
Get real. Ordinary people opposed to military strikes against the Taliban have been assembling in the streets of cities not only in Pakistan, but throughout the Western world in their thousands for the past two weeks.