Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Change We Can Believe In? Or More of the Same?

Dowd is performing a public service, (long abandoned by the U.S. mainstream media during the W regime), by relentlessly holding Obama accountable from Day I. Can he walk the talk? "Change we can believe in" is rapidly but yet predictably, turning into disbelief, as Obama defended then feebly disavowed Daschle. The more they promise change .......

No doubt about it, ordinary folks and responsiblyindependent- minded, progressive columnists will have to shoulder the 4-year long responsibility of holding this new President (who doesn't have one ounce of prior executive experience and only meager legislative experience)to his lofty but eminently doable campaign promises.

Yes We can. Yes he must!

I voted Brand Obama over Brand McCain, with a healthy dose of skepticism, fully appreciating that civil society activism, not the elected leader alone, is key to the arduous but rewarding construction of ethical democracy.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
Comment #68, February 04, 2008 8:04 a.m.
New York Times copyright

US & NATO Out Of South Asia

Tuesday, February 3, 2009
US and NATO out of South Asia
Lesson for Obama and the US:
Perhaps Obama will learn something new, (though that is unlikely), from this latest event in which so-called "militants" have allegedly severed the supply link for US-NATO forces by blowing up a bridge in the Swat Valley adjoining the Khyber Pass terrain (see Yahoo news copyrighted article, scroll below my post).

The US and NATO have NO role in South Asia. Zero, nyet, zilch, nada.

US-NATO forces have killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians and falsely claimed they have killed "insurgents" or "militants."

Q. Your unmanned U.S. drone can spot an "insurgent" or "militant" from the air because they are wearing T for Taliban or Q for Qaeda T-shirts?

One does not have to be a supporter of the Taliban or Al Qaeda or a so-called "Jihadist" to fairly state that the US forces and NATO forces are in fact the major insurgents and militants in South Asia.

India, Pakistan and other nation-states have a choice. The regional politics of South Asia can be played out, with much trial and error, but mostly with open hearts and minds, by the primary stakeholders -- civil societies of sovereign nation-states of the geopolitical region of South Asia and through their one-state, one vote membership in the General Assembly (not the US-dominated limited-membership Security Council) of the United Nations. Or we can stupidly choose to have self-interested non-regional nation-states dictating and controlling our geopolitics. That's the choice facing South Asia.

Lesson for Pakistan: A vibrant Civil Society in Pakistan is Pakistan's only hope and it will do much to stabilize South Asia. Sixty years of growing state-sponsored terror on Pakistan soil has now backfired on Pakistan. When Pakistan's new leaders claim "we are victims of terror" they are right but not entirely factually accurate. That claim should be restated thus: "We, Pakistan, are victims of terror because the terror we grew on our soil for 60 years, with US help, and exported to Kashmir and Afghanistan has now turned back to bite us." As for Pakistan's leaders saying India should not engage in the "blame game", the question is: Is India NAMING Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror (with US complicity and financing)? Yes, it is.That is naming, not blaming. If the cap fits, Pakistan, wear it.

Lesson for India: That proposed Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline ain't never gonna work. It will be continually sabotaged, just like that bridge that was blow up today in the Swat Valley. The main reason the pipeline will not work is because the US does not want the pipeline, and will not allow the proposed pipeline to succeed. US policy in South Asia and West Asia is driven by anti-Russia, anti-Iran, anti-Palestine, pro-Israel, pro-Zionist expansionist militaristic and capitalistic market fundamentalism strategy to secure and privatize oil and natural gas resources throughout the world. The US is competing with both Iran and Russia for geopolitical influence and control over natural resources, in the South Asia and West Asia (inaccurately called The Middle East) regions.

So India, in terms of the proposed pipeline learn this lesson: Ditch it before you Pay for it. In fact Ditch it before you Build it. Maybe India can think about the pipeline again in five years, that is IF Afghanistan does not fall to the Taliban and Pakistan does not have a military coup, before then.

What India can do now (and it is a lot), is: Improve internal domestic and border and coastal surveillance to protect the people of India, their civil society and their cherished democratic and cultural institutions, by involving civil society , that means PEOPLE, civilians, citizens, residents, Bharat vasis,(not just the army, police and myopic foreign policy bureaucrats) in vigilance, surveillance and protection.

India, In terms of energy policy, Gain energy independence through funding and public-private partnering for green energy R&D in solar and wind sourcing. Exxon Mobil does not own the sun (yet), so India, use it. Go solar, go green, not nuclear.

As for national security, "If you see something say something" is a commonsense, proactive, preventive, pre-emptive, more cost-effective natural security strategy by every quantitative and qualitative measure, than rappeling commandos onto the roofs of hotels and religious and cultural centers in crowded urban areas, AFTER the state-sponsored terrorists have landed.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

New York Times copyright
Yahoo news copyright

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Suspected militants blew up a bridge in northwestern Pakistan's Khyber Pass on Tuesday, cutting the main route for supplies bound for Western forces in Afghanistan, Pakistani government officials said.

Separately, security forces killed at least 35 Taliban insurgents and wounded many others in an attack Monday night in the Swat Valley, northeast of the Kyber Pass, a military spokesman said.

Militants in northwestern Pakistan stepped up attacks on the road through the Khyber Pass, a crucial route into land-locked Afghanistan, last year in an attempt to deprive international forces fighting the Taliban of supplies trucked in from Pakistan.

The 30-meter (100-foot) iron bridge, 23 km (15 miles) west of the city of Peshawar, was blown up after midnight and administration officials said all traffic along the route was suspended.

"Militants blew up the bridge and it's going to take some time to fix it," said government official Rahat Gul. He declined to estimate how long it might take.

Guards are usually posted on heights above bridges on the road but it was not clear why they had been unable to stop the attack.

Militant attacks over recent months have disrupted supplies but the route had only been briefly closed twice since September.

The U.S. military and NATO's Afghan force have played down the impact of the attacks but nevertheless have been looking for alternative routes.

A NATO force spokesman in Kabul said he had no information about Tuesday's attack.

There are two routes through Pakistan into Afghanistan, one through the Khyber Pass to the border town of Torkham and on to Kabul. The other runs through Pakistan to the border town of Chaman and on to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

The U.S. Defense Department says the U.S. military sends 75 percent of supplies for the Afghan war through or over Pakistan, including 40 percent of the fuel for its troops.


Pakistani customs officials say about 300 trucks with Western force supplies travel through Torkham every day, compared with about 100 through the Chaman crossing.

With the U.S. military set to send thousands more soldiers to Afghanistan in coming months, perhaps nearly doubling the number to about 60,000, the need for reliable supply routes will become that much more vital.

The chief of the U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, said last month agreements had been reached for new routes into northern Afghanistan through Central Asian states and Russia. He did not give details.

In the Swat Valley, security forces pounded militants with artillery as they gathered to launch an attack, killing at least 35 of them, an officer in the military's information department said.

"We opened fire with artillery and mortars on credible information that a group of militants had gathered and was planning an attack in the dark," the officer said.

There was no independent verification of the casualty estimate.

The scenic Swat valley, only 130 km (80 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad, and not on the Afghan border, was until recently one of Pakistan's prime tourist destinations.

Now the valley is on the front line of the country's struggle against Islamist militancy and has become a test of the government's resolve to check the spread of the Taliban.

(Reporting by Ibrahim Shinwari and Junaid Khan; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Jerry Norton)