30 September 2011

Alert: Canada Is Now Home to Recruitment for the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System

On September 26, 2011, independent journalist John Stanton broke the news that a Canadian company, CGI, headquartered in Montreal (1130 Sherbrooke Street West, 7th Floor, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2M8, Tel: 514-841-3200, Fax: 514-841-3299, see photo above), now has the contract to recruit for the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), which embeds social scientists (with a preference for anthropologists) in counterinsurgency units primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq. for now, and which was condemned by the American Anthropological Association, the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, and Anthropologists for Justice and Peace. (see: “Canadians Win US Army Combat Support Contract: Human Terrain System in CGI, Oberon”). As Stanton tells us, CGI “has been awarded just over $227 million (US) to run the US Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), which ‘directly supports combat units in OIF/OEF [Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan]’ according to the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of the Army”. CGI has already begun advertising and recruiting for HTS on its website. CGI has thus taken over what was previously a HTS contract with BAE Systems.

CGI, though ostensibly Canadian (with 125 offices spread through 15 countries, and 29 offices across Canada), is part of a wide constellation of interlocking and overlapping U.S. military and intelligence contractors, involving academics, military veterans, and former G.W. Bush administration officials. In 2010, CGI acquired Virginia-based Oberon Associates (via its purchase of Stanley Inc.) which according to Oberon’s self-description on its archived website, was run by retired military personnel, and whose president, David L. Young, formerly worked for Northrop Grumman (also a HTS contractor). In 2008, Stanley Inc. had first purchased Oberon Associates, before being absorbed in turn into CGI. Stanley Inc. held contracts with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2004, CGI acquired the governmental information services portion of American Management Systems (AMS), which was founded by former U.S. Defense Department officials who served under Robert McNamara, while CACI bought its military and intelligence portion. CACI, also a HTS contractor, became infamous for its involvement in the torture scandals in Abu Ghraib, Iraq (see John Stanton’s “U.S.A.: Pentagon’s Mystery Contingency Operations Gets CACI Bigger”). Also note that the President of CGI-AMS, Dr. John Francis Hillen, retired from the U.S. Army (deployed to Iraq during the Gulf War), was also a Senior Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Heritage Foundation—in addition, he was nominated on June 28, 2005, by President George W. Bush, to be Assistant Secretary of State (Political-Military Affairs) in the U.S. Department of State. CGI, containing within it multiple layers of acquired firms, each with a network of contacts and contracts across a range of defense contractors and government officials, thus fits in very well with the map of war corporatists that have worked to support the Human Terrain System.

Among its many activities in support of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, CGI is responsible for collecting biometric data in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa, for U.S. military and intelligence purposes—“We are a key contributor and active participant in the evolution of biometrics in support of the Global War on Terrorism,” CGI says on its website. CGI is also involved in “large-scale military deployment planning” for the U.S. Government. In addition, CGI provides instructional support and doctrine writing for the U.S. Army. CGI provides “advanced C4ISR engineering,” which as noted by Stanton elsewhere, is something that also involves HTS: “HTS personnel and systems provide a new Command, Control,  Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capability in support of U.S. Army BCTs [brigade combat teams] and USMC RCTs [regimental combat teams]”. C4ISR was also one of the services offered by John Hillen, as President and CEO of Global Defense Technology & Systems, Inc.

In terms of Canadian defence, intelligence, and “public safety,” CGI is again involved in building C4ISR capability, “anti-terrorism” analytics, Air Force “Web Strategy,” and something it refers to rather interestingly as “Social Network Analysis in Counterinsurgency context (SNAC)”. CGI has a wide and diverse range of federal and provincial government contracts in Canada, that in some cases gave it access to the servers and databases for e-government, drivers licenses and Department of Employment information in Quebec.
CGI thus blurs the lines between civilian and military, between Canada and the U.S., between intelligence and academia, between war abroad and domestic governance, and between private enterprise and government. CGI is yet another way in which Canadian agencies have developed working ties with HTS, and this is what especially concerns us. AJP will do what it can to continue to monitor and update you about the wide-range of activities held together by this formidable beast.

11 September 2011

Hugh Gusterson: The Costs of War

[Hugh Gusterson is an anthropologist and member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists. This essay first appeared on the site of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on 08 September 2011.]

Military responses to problems have a way of creating all sorts of new problems. The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy offers an opportunity to reflect on the costs and benefits of the wars the United States initiated against Iraq and Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks. A comprehensive new study, "Costs of War," sponsored by Brown University (and with which I have been affiliated) suggests that the costs have been wildly out of proportion to the benefits. The study should be required reading for political commentators and national security policymakers across the country. Presidential speechwriters' inspiring words about the courage of American soldiers and the success of the "surge" notwithstanding, it is hard to find any metric by which one can judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as successes. In money and in human suffering, the expense of the wars has been appalling -- as the Costs of War website makes clear, with a mixture of snappy graphics and carefully sourced research.
We could pull every last soldier out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, but the costs of caring for them will keep climbing until at least 2040.
The most obvious damage has been financial. Of all the nation's wars, only World War II cost the United States more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although leading neoconservatives from Paul Wolfowitz to Ken Pollack predicted that the war in Iraq would largely pay for itself, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and his collaborator Linda Bilmes estimate that, in funds already disbursed or committed, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far cost the American taxpayer a whopping $3.2 trillion -- at least.

Given the current preoccupation with the deficit in Washington, it is noteworthy that this $3.2 trillion includes $200 billion in interest payments incurred on these wars since 2001. That's because the Bush administration decided to pay for these wars by borrowing rather than by taxing the people on whose behalf the wars were fought. If Congressional Budget Office predictions are borne out, the United States will spend another $800 billion in war interest by 2020.

This hemorrhaging of money has collateral effects on the US economy. All that government borrowing makes it harder for consumers to borrow money, pushing payments on the average American's mortgage up by $600 a year, for example. The wars have also driven up the price of oil, thus magnifying the recession, and they have siphoned off over $3 trillion that could have been invested in the renewal of US infrastructure. Or in jobs: $1 million spent on the military creates 8.3 jobs, whereas $1 million spent on education creates 15.5 jobs and $1 million spent on health care creates 14.3 jobs. If we estimate that the Pentagon spent $130 billion a year directly on the wars, that money, if spent at home instead, would have created 900,000 US jobs in education or 780,000 US jobs in health care.

And then there are the dead, the injured, and the displaced. So as to avoid charges of sensationalism, the Costs of War project deliberately uses conservative numbers where estimates differ, but even the conservative numbers are horrifying. While some studies put the numbers of Iraqi dead higher than one million, the Costs of War project goes with the lower number of 225,000 individual Afghans and Iraqis who are known to have lost their lives; 137,000 of these were civilians. Almost eight million Iraqis and Afghans -- a number as large as the combined populations of Connecticut and Kentucky -- are thought to be displaced. At 6,000, the number of American troops killed is much smaller, but it is still more than twice the number lost in the terrorist attacks that so traumatized the country a decade ago. And each dead soldier leaves behind a hole in someone's heart.

If the newspapers periodically remind us of these slain American soldiers by showing us the "faces of the fallen," the injured are less visible, but the cost of caring for them will only increase. Nearly 100,000 American soldiers have been officially wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, but many injuries, such as post-traumatic-stress disorder, may not manifest until after deployment. More than 522,000 veterans of our Middle Eastern wars have now filed disability claims. Based on prior experience in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, we know that the health care costs of such veterans do not peak until 30 to 40 years after the wars are over. In other words, we could pull every last soldier out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, but the costs of caring for them will keep climbing until at least 2040. These costs are expected to total between $600 billion and $1 trillion.

Of course, some of these veterans will pay the costs of war in other ways: The military suicide rate is twice the civilian suicide rate, and veterans are 75 percent more likely than civilians to die in car crashes. An ongoing US government survey has found that over a quarter of veterans of the Iraq war are abusing alcohol, and the rate of abuse of prescription drugs by military veterans is now six times greater than it was in 2002.

Meanwhile, two million American children have lived in recent years with the stress of a parent deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some have seen parents return from war with amputated limbs, brain injuries, and post-traumatic-stress disorder. These children, disproportionately from minority communities, are more likely than their civilian counterparts to have problems at school, to suffer from depression, and to exhibit behavioral disorders. They represent another kind of interest on our investment in war -- one that we will be paying back for a long time. As we pare back social services as part of federal budget cuts, many of these children and their families will struggle with their problems on their own -- an intolerable externalization of the costs of war for a society that claims to be committed to family values.

When we hear our leaders talk about "military operations" and "surgical strikes," it is tempting to think of military force as a powerful but precise tool for achieving objectives like the removal of Saddam Hussein or the defeat of the Taliban. We have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan (having apparently forgotten the earlier lesson administered by the Vietnamese) that the tools of war cost a lot to wield, that they end up killing many innocent people as well as their intended targets, and that the blowback from war leaves a trail of devastated and diminished human beings who struggle with the consequences of war for decades after the last soldiers have laid down their weapons.

As Dana Priest and William Arkin say in their fine new book, Top Secret America, Americans "have shelled out billions of dollars to turn the machine of government over to defeating terrorism without ever really questioning what they were getting for their money." The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is a moment for reflection, yes, but it is also an opportunity to start asking some hard questions.

Noam Chomsky: Was War the Only Answer to 9/11?

[By Noam Chomsky, as published on Nation of Change.]

This is the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world.

The impact of the attacks is not in doubt. Just keeping to western and central Asia: Afghanistan is barely surviving, Iraq has been devastated and Pakistan is edging closer to a disaster that could be catastrophic.

On May 1, 2011, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan. The most immediate significant consequences have also occurred in Pakistan. There has been much discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan didn’t turn over bin Laden. Less has been said about the fury among Pakistanis that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor had already intensified in Pakistan, and these events have stoked it further.

One of the leading specialists on Pakistan, British military historian Anatol Lieven, wrote in The National Interest in February that the war in Afghanistan is “destabilizing and radicalizing Pakistan, risking a geopolitical catastrophe for the United States – and the world – which would dwarf anything that could possibly occur in Afghanistan.”

At every level of society, Lieven writes, Pakistanis overwhelmingly sympathize with the Afghan Taliban, not because they like them but because “the Taliban are seen as a legitimate force of resistance against an alien occupation of the country,” much as the Afghan mujahedeen were perceived when they resisted the Russian occupation in the 1980s.

These feelings are shared by Pakistan’s military leaders, who bitterly resent U.S. pressures to sacrifice themselves in Washington’s war against the Taliban. Further bitterness comes from the terror attacks (drone warfare) by the U.S. within Pakistan, the frequency of which was sharply accelerated by President Obama; and from U.S. demands that the Pakistani army carry Washington’s war into tribal areas of Pakistan that had been pretty much left on their own, even under British rule.

The military is the stable institution in Pakistan, holding the country together. U.S. actions might “provoke a mutiny of parts of the military,” Lieven writes, in which case “the Pakistani state would collapse very quickly indeed, with all the disasters that this would entail.”

The potential disasters are drastically heightened by Pakistan’s huge, rapidly growing nuclear weapons arsenal, and by the country’s substantial jihadi movement.

Both of these are legacies of the Reagan administration. Reagan officials pretended they did not know that Zia ul-Haq, the most vicious of Pakistan’s military dictators and a Washington favorite, was developing nuclear weapons and carrying out a program of radical Islamization of Pakistan with Saudi funding.

The catastrophe lurking in the background is that these two legacies might combine, with fissile materials leaking into the hands of jihadis. Thus we might see nuclear weapons, most likely “dirty bombs,” exploding in London and New York.

Lieven summarizes: “U.S. and British soldiers are in effect dying in Afghanistan in order to make the world more dangerous for American and British peoples.”

Surely Washington understands that U.S. operations in what has been christened “Afpak” – Afghanistan-Pakistan – might destabilize and radicalize Pakistan.

The most significant WikiLeaks documents to have been released so far are the cables from U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson in Islamabad, who supports U.S. actions in Afpak but warns that they “risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan.”

Patterson writes of the possibility that “someone working in (Pakistani government) facilities could gradually smuggle enough fissile material out to eventually make a weapon,” a danger enhanced by “the vulnerability of weapons in transit.”

A number of analysts have observed that bin Laden won some major successes in his war against the United States.

As Eric S. Margolis writes in The American Conservative in May, “(bin Laden) repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them.”

That Washington seemed bent on fulfilling bin Laden’s wishes was evident immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

In his 2004 book “Imperial Hubris,” Michael Scheuer, a senior CIA analyst who had tracked Osama bin Laden since 1996, explains: “Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. (He) is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world,” and largely achieved his goal.

He continues: “U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.” And arguably remains so, even after his death.

The succession of horrors across the past decade leads to the question: Was there an alternative to the West’s response to the 9/11 attacks?

The jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11, if the “crime against humanity,” as the attacks were rightly called, had been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the suspects. That was recognized at the time, but no such idea was even considered in the rush to war. It is worth adding that bin Laden was condemned in much of the Arab world for his part in the attacks.

By the time of his death, bin Laden had long been a fading presence, and in the previous months was eclipsed by the Arab Spring. His significance in the Arab world is captured by the headline in a New York Times article by Middle East specialist Gilles Kepel: “Bin Laden Was Dead Already.”

That headline might have been dated far earlier, had the U.S. not mobilized the jihadi movement with retaliatory attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Within the jihadi movement, bin Laden was doubtless a venerated symbol but apparently didn’t play much more of a role for al-Qaida, this “network of networks,” as analysts call it, which undertake mostly independent operations.

Even the most obvious and elementary facts about the decade lead to bleak reflections when we consider 9/11 and its consequences, and what they portend for the future.

Tom Engelhardt: Let’s Cancel 9/11

Bury the War State's Blank Check at Sea

By Tom Engelhardt

[First published on 08 September 2011 at TomDispatch]

Let’s bag it.

I’m talking about the tenth anniversary ceremonies for 9/11, and everything that goes with them: the solemn reading of the names of the dead, the tolling of bells, the honoring of first responders, the gathering of presidents, the dedication of the new memorial, the moments of silence.  The works.

Let’s just can it all.  Shut down Ground Zero.  Lock out the tourists.  Close “Reflecting Absence,” the memorial built in the “footprints” of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday.  Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012.  Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our “freedom” wars went awry), 102 stories of “the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States.” (Estimated price tag: $3.3 billion.)  Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W. Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists.  Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11 billion government-sponsored construction program.  Let’s get rid of it all.   If we had wanted a memorial to 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched.

Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven't we had enough of ourselves?  If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness?  No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror.  No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money.  No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 were in every sense abusive, horrific acts.  And the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused here ever since under the guise of pious remembrance.  This country has become dependent on the dead of 9/11 -- who have no way of defending themselves against how they have been used -- as an all-purpose explanation for our own goodness and the horrors we’ve visited on others, for the many towers-worth of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere whose blood is on our hands.

Isn’t it finally time to go cold turkey?  To let go of the dead?  Why keep repeating our 9/11 mantra as if it were some kind of old-time religion, when we’ve proven that we, as a nation, can’t handle it -- and worse yet, that we don’t deserve it?

We would have been better off consigning our memories of 9/11 to oblivion, forgetting it all if only we could.  We can’t, of course.  But we could stop the anniversary remembrances.  We could stop invoking 9/11 in every imaginable way so many years later.  We could stop using it to make ourselves feel like a far better country than we are.  We could, in short, leave the dead in peace and take a good, hard look at ourselves, the living, in the nearest mirror.

Ceremonies of Hubris
Within 24 hours of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the first newspaper had already labeled the site in New York as “Ground Zero.”  If anyone needed a sign that we were about to run off the rails, as a misassessment of what had actually occurred that should have been enough.  Previously, the phrase “ground zero” had only one meaning: it was the spot where a nuclear explosion had occurred.

The facts of 9/11 are, in this sense, simple enough.  It was not a nuclear attack.  It was not apocalyptic.  The cloud of smoke where the towers stood was no mushroom cloud.  It was not potentially civilization ending.  It did not endanger the existence of our country -- or even of New York City.  Spectacular as it looked and staggering as the casualty figures were, the operation was hardly more technologically advanced than the failed attack on a single tower of the World Trade Center in 1993 by Islamists using a rented Ryder truck packed with explosives.
A second irreality went with the first.  Almost immediately, key Republicans like Senator John McCain, followed by George W. Bush, top figures in his administration, and soon after, in a drumbeat of agreement, the mainstream media declared that we were “at war.”  This was, Bush would say only three days after the attacks, "the first war of the twenty-first century."  Only problem: it wasn’t.  Despite the screaming headlines, Ground Zero wasn’t Pearl Harbor.  Al-Qaeda wasn’t Japan, nor was it Nazi Germany.  It wasn’t the Soviet Union.  It had no army, nor finances to speak of, and possessed no state (though it had the minimalist protection of a hapless government in Afghanistan, one of the most backward, poverty-stricken lands on the planet).

And yet -- another sign of where we were heading -- anyone who suggested that this wasn’t war, that it was a criminal act and some sort of international police action was in order, was simply laughed (or derided or insulted) out of the American room.  And so the empire prepared to strike back (just as Osama bin Laden hoped it would) in an apocalyptic, planet-wide “war” for domination that masqueraded as a war for survival.

In the meantime, the populace was mustered through repetitive, nationwide 9/11 rites emphasizing that we Americans were the greatest victims, greatest survivors, and greatest dominators on planet Earth.  It was in this cause that the dead of 9/11 were turned into potent recruiting agents for a revitalized American way of war.

From all this, in the brief mission-accomplished months after Kabul and then Baghdad fell, American hubris seemed to know no bounds -- and it was this moment, not 9/11 itself, from which the true inspiration for the gargantuan “Freedom Tower” and the then-billion-dollar project for a memorial on the site of the New York attacks would materialize.  It was this sense of hubris that those gargantuan projects were intended to memorialize.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, for an imperial power that is distinctly tattered, visibly in decline, teetering at the edge of financial disaster, and battered by never-ending wars, political paralysis, terrible economic times, disintegrating infrastructure, and weird weather, all of this should be simple and obvious.  That it’s not tells us much about the kind of shock therapy we still need.

Burying the Worst Urges in American Life
It’s commonplace, even today, to speak of Ground Zero as “hallowed ground.”  How untrue.  Ten years later, it is defiled ground and it’s we who have defiled it.  It could have been different.  The 9/11 attacks could have been like the Blitz in London in World War II.  Something to remember forever with grim pride, stiff upper lip and all.

And if it were only the reactions of those in New York City that we had to remember, both the dead and the living, the first responders and the last responders, the people who created impromptu memorials to the dead and message centers for the missing in Manhattan, we might recall 9/11 with similar pride.  Generally speaking, New Yorkers were respectful, heartfelt, thoughtful, and not vengeful.  They didn’t have prior plans that, on September 12, 2001, they were ready to rally those nearly 3,000 dead to support.  They weren’t prepared at the moment of the catastrophe to -- as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld so classically said -- “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

Unfortunately, they were not the measure of the moment.  As a result, the uses of 9/11 in the decade since have added up to a profile in cowardice, not courage, and if we let it be used that way in the next decade, we will go down in history as a nation of cowards.

There is little on this planet of the living more important, or more human, than the burial and remembrance of the dead.  Even Neanderthals buried their dead, possibly with flowers, and tens of thousands of years ago, the earliest humans, the Cro-Magnon, were already burying their dead elaborately, in one case in clothing onto which more than 3,000 ivory beads had been sewn, perhaps as objects of reverence and even remembrance.  Much of what we know of human prehistory and the earliest eras of our history comes from graves and tombs where the dead were provided for.

And surely it's our duty in this world of loss to remember the dead, those close to us and those more removed who mattered in our national or even planetary lives.  Many of those who loved and were close to the victims of 9/11 are undoubtedly attached to the yearly ceremonies that surround their deceased wives, husbands, lovers, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.  For the nightmare of 9/11, they deserve a memorial.  But we don’t.

If September 11th was indeed a nightmare, 9/11 as a memorial and Ground Zero as a “consecrated” place have turned out to be a blank check for the American war state, funding an endless trip to hell.  They have helped lead us into fields of carnage that put the dead of 9/11 to shame.

Every dead person will, of course, be forgotten sooner or later, no matter how tightly we clasp their memories or what memorials we build.  In my mind, I have a private memorial to my own dead parents.  Whenever I leaf through my mother’s childhood photo album and recognize just about no one but her among all the faces, however, I'm also aware that there is no one left on this planet to ask about any of them.  And when I die, my little memorial to them will go with me.

This will be the fate, sooner or later, of everyone who, on September 11, 2001, was murdered in those buildings in New York, in that field in Pennsylvania, and in the Pentagon, as well as those who sacrificed their lives in rescue attempts, or may now be dying as a result.  Under such circumstances, who would not want to remember them all in a special way?

It’s a terrible thing to ask those still missing the dead of 9/11 to forgo the public spectacle that accompanies their memory, but worse is what we have: repeated solemn ceremonies to the ongoing health of the American war state and the wildest dreams of Osama bin Laden.

Memory is usually so important, but in this case we would have been better off with oblivion.  It’s time to truly inter not the dead, but the worst urges in American life since 9/11 and the ceremonies which, for a decade, have gone with them.  Better to bury all of that at sea with bin Laden and then mourn the dead, each in our own way, in silence and, above all, in peace.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), will be published in November.

[Note on further reading: I recommend two recent pieces that, amid the mountain of usual writing about 9/11 ten years later, have something out of the ordinary to say: Ariel Dorfman’s “Epitaph for Another September 11” in the Nation magazine on the two 9/11s and how differently two American nations reacted to their disasters, and Lawrence Weschler’s “Memory” in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the shame of a squandered decade.]

9-11: Prayers for War

In the midst of the orchestrated sanctimony, the state-sanctioned piety, and the chorus of collective weeping for the American victims of an attack on a single day (11 September 2011), with selective memories that cleanse the mind of the mountains of atrocities committed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the name of the American dead, we thought it best to share some other prayers for this day.



In the name of the Us Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
Our Commader Who art in the Global Green Zone,
Hallowed be thy game.

Thy fiefdom come,
Thy contract be done,
On scorched earth as it is in the Pentagon.

Give us this day
Our daily $3 billion
And grant us our excesses
As we dole out contracts even to those who attack us.

And lead us not into budget cuts,
But deliver us from democratic reckoning.

(By Max Forte)

Links for 9-11-2011

For the past decade we have relied on the force of our arms to make America secure while our economy has rotted from within. America has lost its focus. America has spent more time concentrating on reshaping the world than on reshaping our economy. We have created hundreds of thousands of jobs for military contractors all over the world, while we just learned that we created zero jobs here in the United States in the month of August as unemployment continues to stay above 9%. Come home America. We must begin to focus on things here at home and stop roaming the world looking for dragons to slay. We have a right and an obligation to defend our nation. That includes working for peace abroad and seeking peaceful resolution of conflict, a capacity that, at our peril, we have not fully developed: I call it strength through peace. It involves the pursuit of what President Franklin Roosevelt called the “Science of Human Relations,” actually engaging those with whom we disagree most to attempt to find a way to co-exist peacefully....

By Peter Hart 
The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is sure to bring televised images of somber reflection. Looking back is, in some ways, easier for commentators and pundits than wrestling with the current state of Washington's so-called "war on terror." The United States is mired in two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with undeclared drone bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Launching these wars was fairly easy for the White House, with or without congressional approval. How any of them ends, though, remains unclear. Even the NATO war in Libya, which by many accounts has "ended," could become more chaotic and bloodier in the very near future. The shift from Washington's time-limited military adventures that followed the Vietnam War — the relatively brief conflicts in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Kosovo, for example — to today's seemingly interminable and endlessly multiplying military commitments is one of the most notable, yet little noted, features of the post-9/11 landscape. Regrettably, too many mainstream journalists seem all too willing to encourage Washington's new "permanent war" footing....

September 8, 2011
The Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), The Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), and Knowledge Network

1. The Response to 9/11
A majority of Americans believes that over the last decade the US over-invested resources in some of the responses to the 9/11 attacks and that this over-investment has contributed to America’s economic problems today. The largest numbers believe that the over-investment occurred in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and using aid to build alliances. Small numbers feel the US over invested in pursuing terrorist groups, airport security measures, and preparing first responders. Overall, two in three believe US influence has diminished in the world over the last decade, and this view is highly correlated with the belief that the US over-invested in responses to 9/11....

Pew Research Center
01 September 2011

...Yet the public continues to be divided over many of the anti-terrorism policies that arose in the wake of Sept. 11, and these differences extend to opinions about whether U.S. wrongdoing prior to 9/11 may have motivated the attacks: 43% say yes, while 45% disagree. In late September 2001, 33% said U.S. wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, compared with 55% who said it did not.... 
Moreover, only about a quarter say the wars in Iraq (26%) and Afghanistan (25%) have lessened the chances of terrorist attacks in the United States. In both cases majorities say the wars either have increased the risk of terrorism in this country or made no difference. 

09 September 2011

Islamophobia: Canadian Government Policy, and the Real Threat to Canadians

AJP as a member of the Canadian Peace Alliance, reproduces the following memo from the CPA:

Say No To Islamophobia September 7, 2011 

With the 10th year anniversary of September 11 only days away, Stephen Harper is using the occasion to whip up more hatred against Muslims--see this news report

While Harper claims that so-called "Islamicism" is the biggest security threat facing Canada, it is in fact his government's policies that are the bigger threat. Harper's support of war and occupation, his reckless support of Big Oil which is causing climate change and his austerity agenda are all creating greater inequality and insecurity both abroad and at home. 

The Harper government and its supporters have often sought to denigrate Islam, painting all Muslims with the brush of criminality or terrorism in an attempt to divide Canadians and to justify the government's wars of aggression. This is nothing new. For centuries, nations have tried to characterize certain groups as less than human to provide an excuse for slavery and murder. 

Canada's war in Afghanistan was justified as a crusade to kill "detestable murderers and scumbags" in the words of former Canadian Chief of Defence staff, Rick Hillier. Harper's plan to use the Canadian forces to overthrow regimes around the world--see this article--needs a convenient enemy so he is scapegoating Muslims. 

Harper also wants to resurrect draconian security laws that will suspend charter rights for Canadians. These laws create a legal system that allows people to be thrown in jail without charge or warrant, based on suspicion rather than fact. This is a threat to the freedom of all Canadians and must be stopped. 

Ten years ago, on September 26, 2001 thousands marched in Toronto against the impending war on Afghanistan. To challenge the climate of fear and racism, we carried placards that read "Islam is Not the Enemy - War is Not the Answer". Ten years later we need to revive that slogan. 

Download the window sign--click here--and print extra copies for friends, family and co-workers. We need to paint this country with symbols of peace and unity. 

Tell Harper his bigotry is not welcome here.

08 September 2011

Stop Canada's Bombing of Libya

AJP is a member of the Canadian Peace Alliance which produced the statement below:

September 6, 2011

The Government of Canada has hinted at another possible extension of its military role in Libya. The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any new extension and is calling for all Canadian forces to be brought home. Please call your Member of Parliament and demand that they put and end to Canada's role in the war in Libya.

UN resolution1973 has already been far exceeded in practice. What began as mandate to protect civilians became a call for regime change and a widely expanded military campaign that has killed hundreds of civilians.

Now that Tripoli has fallen to the fighters of the National Transitional Council (NTC), NATO leaders, are in Paris discussing their further role in the country. But their arguments are contradictory. On the one hand, they are saying that the NATO intervention helped end the war quickly, on the other they are saying that the war isn't over and they need to extend their role to protect civilians.

In reality, the Paris meeting of the “Friends of Libya is about a scramble to gain lucrative contracts to both rebuild the country and to secure access to Libya's vast energy reserves for western corporations. We have seen this scenario before in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. One only needs to look at the Afghan context, where during the 10 years of NATO occupation and billions of aid dollars looted by western corporations, there has been a steady decline in the standard of living for most Afghans.

The interests of the western powers are not the same as the interests of the Libyan people. Those divergent interests will become more stark in the days ahead, creating the conditions for conflict between the west and the Libyan people.

What should also be a great concern for Canadians is that the Harper Government is also using the Libyan conflict to call for more Canadian interventions overseas. While visiting Canadian soldiers in Italy he said that Canada is willing to use force to attack “dictators”. This amounts to a blanket call for regime change in other countries around the world.

It is not up to the Government of Canada to decide the future of governments around the world. Libya belongs to the Libyan people – not NATO and not Canada.

Send a message to your MP. A full list of members of Parliament is available here
Be sure to include the party leaders:
Nycole.Turmel@parl.gc.ca ; stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca ; bob.rae@parl.gc.ca
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