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Total number of comments: 41 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:15)

Mark Metcalfe

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  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • I should add - Wikileaks cable 07TRIPOLI1056 was released on 31/01/2011. This might be highly significant in the sequence of events.

  • All Hell Breaks Loose in the Middle East
    • Juan is otherwise occupied and unable to answer your questions. He is currently somewhere west of Benghazi, heading for Tripoli where he will impose a "No-Walk Zone."

      In other news, it is becoming increasingly clear that Libyan civilians pose a threat to other Libyan civilians and as such are legitimate targets under UN Resolution 1973.

      Juan Cole, aka as "Juan of Jamariya," is not considered an occupation force.

  • Libyan Liberation Movement Strikes Back as NATO Comes to the Rescue
    • Hi Mazum

      It was the SAS who were training Qaddafi forces:

      Source Daily Telegraph/BBC via wikipedia

      - link to

      There was plenty of other cooperation and the presence of the SAS team with explosives near Benghazi has still not been explained.

      Moses did part the seas :)

    • Hi KRM - Without wanting to defend Qaddafi, I wasn't talking about Libya in regards to poverty and disease - according to the Human Development Index, Libya is above Turkey, top in Africa and amongst the highest in the arab world: link to and link to

      As I understand it, the rebels refused to negotiate and called for foreign intervention from the start and the rebel council is led by the former Libyan Interior Minister link to

      A genuine democratic revolution can be won by persuasion and people power through courageous non-cooperation - a long-term process which we can see underway in Egypt - where the slogan of many of the protestors is sensibly:

      "Peaceful, peaceful"

      The Tunisian and Egyptian demonstrators and people built solidarity and a mass movement appealing to all their people, were inclusive of different faiths and ethnicities and refused outside interference. In this respect the Tunisian and Egyptian people have developed an effective strategy of Satyagraha. link to

      The Libyan rebels, in sharp contrast, appear to be sectarian, dominated by former officials of the regime, hierarchical and committing some major human rights violations themselves: (link to

    • This war was conceived for political reasons by Sarkozy, Cameron and Clinton. It is as much a spat amongst leaders who were recently training each others bodyguards, swapping prisoners and providing weapons as it is an internal Libyan dispute.

      The tactic of calling the other side in a domestic conflict genocidal and encouraging Sarkozy, Cameron and Clinton to intervene has spread to Yemen, I notice. Its just not a good way to resolve conflicts and will likely lead to years of bitter civil war.

      The best way is for people to resist courageously and peacefully, to discuss and negotiate, to struggle to improve society and change the minds of their opponents.

      This war in Libya is another massive diversion of attention from the real problems in the world of poverty, inequality and disease - as well as the immediate problem of the nuclear reactors at Fukushima which is where all spare resources should currently be directed.

  • UN Allies Bombard Libya to protect Protesters
    • According to Al Jazeera, right-wing president Sarkozy's poll numbers have jumped from their lowest ever.

      Of course, US, UK and France aren't doing this for the Libyan people and it seems doubtful that there will be any positive consequences for the Libyans in the long-term from Sarkozy and Cameron's intervention.

      The prospect of and the actual Western intervention may have strengthened Ghaddafi's hand and is likely to exacerbate hatred and violence on the ground in that country.

      It seems the imperialist powers are busy destroying some of the weaponry they sold to the Ghaddafi's regime in the first place (which included tear gas and crowd control equipment) and trying to cover up evidence of their collaboration with him in the past.

      There is of course no way a similar intervention will occur in Bahrain where people are being oppressed and unarmed protestors are being shot.

      So, please enough of the pro-war propaganda.

  • Libya Threatens Mediterranean Planes, Ships if Attacked
    • Maybe Saudi Arabia and Bahraini governments will take part as well? Or are they are too busy killing their own people?

  • Earthquake/Tsunami reminds us of Futility of War
    • The Japanese tsunami disaster is a terrible tragedy and the death toll is going to be high.

      For anyone wanting to keep up-to-date with the latest developments YokosoNews on link to has been translating Japanese news non-stop for the last 18 hours and providing information to an English-speaking audience, although at the time of writing he has finally decided to take a rest.

      Of course, there is not really going to be a lot we can do about meteors and defences against earthquakes and tsunamis are unfortunately always going to be imperfect.

      Tackling climate change and effective protection against natural disasters are dependent on the defeat of poverty, the biggest disaster facing humanity and (as Gandhi put it) the worst form of violence.

  • 50,000 Protest in Bahrain Before Another Bloody Crackdown
  • Egyptian Crowds Reject Mubarak Speech, Pledge Massive Friday Protests
    • A lot of 'slack' results from one of the tricks of social control known as 'selective enforcement.'

      A bit off-topic - though perhaps relevant as the Egyptian public have given an indication of the dedication necessary for ordinary people to effect systemic change - but a good example is the USA.

      In the USA the drug laws are on the face of it color-blind and levels of drug-taking by whites and blacks are at equal levels. However the rules are selectively enforced (whites get the slack) so that blacks are far more likely to be charged, sentenced and imprisoned.

      This has led to a New Jim Crowe of mass incarceration of black people, at far higher levels than in apartheid South Africa, so that the USA today, under Obama, is, objectively speaking an institutionally racist state and something akin to a racial caste system has been built in America.

      Michelle Alexander explains this in detail at:
      link to

  • Egyptian Protests Swell in Response to Ghonim
  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • This blog is going from strength to strength.

      Unfortunately, Obama and his minions faithfully govern the world in the interests of the rich and powerful and they are heavily implicated in the crimes of Netanyahu, Mubarak - and worse.

      Today, the standard-bearers of human rights (aka known as human decency) are the ordinary citizens of Egypt, putting their lives on the line and sacrificing themselves for freedom, democracy and the future of their children.

  • Mubarak's Response to Demand for end of Military Rule
    • Wingbat -

      The article does not show that Juan is factually incorrect - to do that it would have to accurately adduce some documentary evidence or be a primary source of evidence, which it clearly isn't.

      Juan's statement is in line with any sensible reading of the actual Wikileaks cable 08CAIRO2572. The Telegraph article appears to be built on a deliberate misreading of and distortion of that cable.

      The cable actually states that

      "April 6's stated goal of replacing the current
      regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011
      presidential elections is highly unrealistic."

      It couldn't be much clearer than that.

      The Telegraph is a pretty right-wing operation and they clearly don't have a lot of respect for their reader's ability to understand an official document, to bother to read it, to see through spin or past their own desire to think the US and UK governments must be on the side of the angels.

      My suggestion would be for you to have another go at reading the actual Wikileaks-released cable which you can find at link to

  • "Egypt is a Praetorian State:" Cole on Democracy Now!
    • That document is a report of an Egyptian democracy activist's meetings with US officials. It makes it abundantly clear that the US officials consider the activist's "dream" of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections "highly unrealistic" and place him outside the mainstream of political opposition.

      So the Telegraph headline is somewhat misleading, insofar as the support offered for this opposition activist is nil.

      The convenient US official line has long been that regime change in Egypt is unrealistic, right up to Hillary Clinton's brilliant comment on Tuesday that:

      "The Egyptian government is stable."

  • Anzalone: Hezbollah’s Double Standards: Tunisia and Iran
    • In case anyone might suggest that you have double standards, can we expect your next essay to focus on US government double-standards, or those of Israel or of the Palestinian Authority?

      You might find that these countries selective concern for political and social freedoms is motivated by something other than concern for universal rights.

      Be aware though - any such balance in your writing might jeopardise your future career prospects, which would be a shame as you clearly have what it takes to become a Faux News expert.

  • Wikileaks: US Offered to Block anti-Whaling Protesters
    • Cows, pigs and sheep are also intelligent, sentient creatures with a complex emotional life and strong social ties. Gandhi became a vegetarian himself and said:

      "If anybody said that I should die if I did not take beef-tea or mutton, even under medical advice, I would prefer death."

      He came to this view, not because of religious reasons, but after reading (in a restaurant in London) Henry Salt's 'Plea for Vegetarianism' which ends:

      "...future and wiser generations will look back with amazement on the habit of flesh-eating as a strange relic of ignorance and barbarism."

      Gandhi stressed the importance of a moral commitment to vegetarianism, as those who follow this path for other reasons are less likely to remain consistent.

      The numbers of animals killed annually worlwide is rising, with ever greater mechanisation of the whole process from factory farm to slaughterhouse. Something like 1,200,000,000 pigs and 300,000,000 cows are now killed annually.

      Unfortunately, little faith can be put in India to halt this trend as it is among the top three countries in the world for killing beef cattle (57 million in 2008) link to

  • New Year in Dubai
  • Palestinians Reject Piecemeal Talks offered by Israel
    • On a point of semantics.

      Squatting is defined in terms of:
      1. To settle on unoccupied land without legal claim.
      2. To occupy a given piece of public land in order to acquire title to it.

      There is a proud tradition of squatting land which is empty and bringing it back into use as a response to the unfair or wasteful distribution of land. So the definition of 'squatter' hardly applies to the situation of the Israelis building towns in Palestinian lands.

      The definition of settler is 'who settles in a new region.' which in this case doesn't apply to the actual situation of progressive dispossession of the Palestinians, ethnic cleansing and reducing the original inhabitants to a permanently inferior status economically, legally and socially.

      'Colonist' doesn't work as the Palestinian lands are hardly distant from Israel.

      To occupy is "to seize possession of and maintain control over, by or as if by conquest."

      This accurately describes the situation of the Israelis vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the correct description of the Israelis on the Palestinian lands is the "Israeli occupiers."

  • Stewart: Aljazeera Pays More Attention to First Responders than Senate Republicans, US Networks
    • Its no surprise that Aljazeera have covered this issue, whilst it is ignored by the main US networks. Aljazeera's coverage of world news, even as it expands and grows in influence, is still far superior to that of the US networks generally.

      Riz Khan is a splendid interviewer. He researches his subjects thoroughly and asks the relevant and pertinent questions, whilst always showing courtesy and respect to his interviewees.

      For people brought up on the poor diet of biased propaganda and the aggressively pro-establishment interview techniques of the US, Riz Khan and Aljazeera generally provide a feast of different opinions and genuine news and analysis.

  • Obama Should Let the UN apply Economic Sanctions to Israel
    • What makes you think Obama feels slapped in the face? I don't see it. He probably just thinks, 'Oh well, you know best.' I don't think he has any concept at all of putting pressure on the Israelis and I don't think he would have a clue how to do it.

      Obama is a salesman, not a strategist or politician. He's not even intelligent, and has surrounded himself with some of the most reactionary advisers he could have found. He actually doesn't have a clue.

      As the first black president, you would have thought he might have done something for black people. But he is in (very nominal) control of the most institutionally racist developed country in the world, where a FAR larger proportion of black men are criminalised and deprived of their liberty than was the case in apartheid South Africa.

      So if Obama lacks the ability and imagination to help black people in US prisons and ghettos, what can he be expected to do for Palestinian people under Israeli Occupation?

  • Afghan Poll: We don't Like Taliban but will Gladly Talk with Them
    • This survey shows a big increase in the extent of Taleban-controlled areas in Afghanistan. The polling only took place in government-controlled areas and 213 out of 885 sampling points had to be changed from last year - mostly due to the area having fallen to Taleban control (occasionally the village has now disappeared or is inaccessible)

      Even in the government-controlled areas only 55% of Afghans would say they had no sympathy for for the Taleban, despite the fact that 62% of those surveyed agreed that it is not generally acceptable to talk negatively about the government in public. This in a poll organised by a US government agency.

      The polling organisation didn't dare ask the sample if NATO forces should withdraw,
      of course.

      The main problems for Afghans remain unemployment, health care, electricity, water, roads and education and this poll shows that only 41% of Afghans feel more prosperous now than under the Taleban.

      The real story of this poll is the total failure of the surge and of military solutions to the problems of Afghanistan.

  • What does Pakistan think of Obama's India Trip?
    • Obama's patronising speech to the Indian parliament was full of cheap flattery of the Indian elite in a attempt to lure them further away from an independent stance and towards alliance with US commercial and military interests.

      There was a pretty ugly reference to the "Islamic Republic of Iran" in the context of supporting India's accession to permanent status on the UN Security Council and it was pretty clear from the references to Afghanistan that there is going to be no early withdrawal.

      Obama should hang his head in shame at repeating the racist nonsense that the United States of America is the world's oldest democracy.

      He got slapped down in a very dignified fashion by the speaker, Meira Kumar, who gently reminded Obama of India's own ancient democratic traditions and HIS responsibility regarding global peace - quoting Martin Luther King on the need for people to find a way to live together in peace.

      She also mentioned the disinherited ones - any mention of India's poor having been conspicuously absent from the whole of Obama's 45 minute speech.

    • Obama has just been saying there is a cancer within Pakistan which could engulf the country. The tea-partiers are getting everywhere it would seem.

      He's made some complimentary remarks about Islam - apparently the majority of followers of islam are reasonable people - and he seems to be a recent convert to the idea that

      "violence against innocent people is never justified."

      In his comments regarding Pakistan's government he is obviously keen to maintain the importance of selling large amounts of weaponary to them as well.

      On Martin Luther king and Gandhi who, as I have said, will be spinning in their graves over Obama's arms sales trip, he has said:

      "Gandhi, Sir Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln are people we are constantly reading and studying about. I'm often frustrated by how far I fall short of their example."

      (and he can say that again).

      He has just finished paying his respects at the tomb of Humayun (son of the famous Babur), who was a heavy drinker, opium addict who was apparently not as keen on warfare as was usual in those days, preferring to spend a lot of time in his harem.

      Most of the arms sales will already have been agreed, of course and Obama is continuing to push Monsantos agenda in his talk of a new "Green Revolution."

  • Bachmann Harms US Economy, Security with Scurrilous Charges about Obama in India
    • If the $20 billion, being spent on American weaponry was focused on child malnutrition this would have a big effect, particularly for those families concerned, and this is the point I'm trying to make.

      Overall, military spending has a negative effect on GDP growth. North Korea is actually the most extreme example with its 31% of GDP spent on the military. With an arms race, all you need is for war to break out once and all that GDP growth is up in smoke, literally.

      GDP growth in India hasn't led to a reduction in child malnutrition because of lack of land reform and a lack of political action with a political class focused on "superpower" status and enriching itself and a small elite.

    • This is a complex area but actually, $6 a year per person (equivalent to Rs266) could make a big difference to the poorest indians and to child malnutrition.

      Some illustrations -

      77% of indians spent 36 cents (Rs16) or less a day on total consumption (2004-05) link to

      5% of rural indians spend less than Rs8 per day(2004-05)

      Many Indians can't afford 2400 calories per day. It costs about one rupee for 2600 calories.

      So if this money was focused on reduction of child malnutrition rather than militarising society and stoking up an arms race a massive difference could be achieved.

    • According to the World Health Organisation "about 49 per cent of the world's underweight children, 34 per cent of the world's stunted children and 46 per cent of the world's wasted children, live in India."

      It is really, really naive to think selling India $20 billion of weapons systems is about defending her people.

      Martin Luther King recognised "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."


      "Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism."

      Seeing Obama's arms sales trip, where he cancelled a trip to the Golden Temple because he might be expected to wear a turban, Martin Luther King (and Gandhi of course) will be spinning in their graves at Obama's betrayal of the cause of anti-racism, justice and peace in the world.

    • The fact opposition to arms sales isn't in any US political party platform is a function of the over-bloated power of the military-industrial complex in the USA and power of militarist ideology generally rather than the actual merits of such a policy. The idea that military sales are generally a bad thing might be a "fringe" idea in the USA (although I bet a lot of US citizens disapprove of this nasty trade) but its quite a commonly held view in other parts of the world, particularly of course those many areas where civilians have suffered the effects of such weaponry.

    • You could excuse the selling of just about anything to anyone on this basis. The global arms trade (and the influence of the military-industrial complex) is an evil influence which needs to be argued against as a matter of priority - in order to reduce both demand and supply whereever possible.

      IMHO Its important not to fall into the trap Obama has fallen into of allowing the right-wing to set the agenda and ceasing to argue from a left-wing or humanitarian perspective. Just using any argument that comes to hand to argue against the right-wing nutters is not going to help.

    • Go Obama! (to Asia to sell weapons)
      Yes we can! (make those arms sales)
      The change we need: a south Asian arms race.
      Truly a new dawn for Amerikan progressivism.

  • 28 More US Fuel Trucks Set Ablaze in Pakistan, 6 Killed, as Convoy Boycott Continues
    • As a matter of fact, the Northern Supply Network is up and running and being upgraded in capacity and speed all the time. NATO will strive to keep both the Northern and Southern routes open to minimise the dangers of a significant portion of their armies being cut off and also to cut down on the political leverage which the not particularly reliable transit countries can exercise.

  • Collapse of Kabul Bank Points to Fatal Corruption of Karzai Government
    • Thanks for that link. I've had a look around the internet and it looks like there are a few errors in that article, particularly in regard identifying the practice of Bacha Bazi as justified by Muslim doctrine. It also appears that the Taleban may be one of the few factions in Afghanistan to be actively fighting this practice - and that the worst offenders are the various militia commanders.

      I remember being shocked when I saw Carmela Baranowskas' brilliant "Taliban Country" ( link to ) which shows US officers listening to one of the then provincial governors, Jan Mohammed (seen in this link with Commander Dan McNeil link to )

      The governor, talking to the US officers, says of one of the local boys who has just been apprehended by the joint US-Afghan force:

      "We'll take him with us for a few nights, he will keep us entertained. "

      I would recommend everyone watch Carmela Baranowskas' film. It shows local villagers, forced to flee the country or join the resistance as the US forces ally themselves with rival tribal militia commanders. It also shows a "head of civil affairs" who, despite the billions poured into the country, is unable to muster the resources to save a dying Afghan child, brought to him by a local villager and in need of basic vitamins.

      So it would seem that a few questions should be asked of the US enterprise in Afghanistan regarding the apparent contradictions inherent in:

      - fighting corruption in the Kabul government by bribing many of its officials.
      - fighting to extend the rule of the national government by arming and funding its local militia rivals.
      - fighting the war on drugs by arming and supporting the world's biggest heroin dealers.
      - expanding democracy by supporting a President who stole the election
      - winning heart and minds by denying infants the most basic health care
      - securing the future for the children of Afghanistan by giving carte blanche to the world's most active paedophiles.

  • Jolie Appeals for Pakistan Aid as Flood Refugees Return
    • Hi Kathleen
      It is a matter of opinion which relief organisation is best. I personally like ActionAid link to as they are strong on human rights, women's rights and long term development and focus on building up local organisations in response to the wishes of local people rather than imposing solutions.

      In order to give efficiently you should give regularly (monthly direct debit) to the same organisation rather than swapping around between organisations. This allows organisations to plan ahead and to reduce their fundraising costs.

      It is also best to give the money to the organisation without restrictions (ie without stipulating the money should be spent in x or y location) - this reduces administration costs and allows the organisation to spend the money where it can be used most effectively.

      In many countries (eg UK) you can gift aid your donations (so the charity can claim the tax back) and this will make your donation go further at no cost to yourself.

      ActionAid is supported by celebrities including Annie Lennox, Jack Nicholson, Emma Thompson, Bianca Jagger and Andi Osho!

  • Another City Submerged as Floods advance in Sindh;
    Where are the Rock Stars?
  • One Million Displaced as Rising Waters Threaten Major Cities
    • Eurofrank - Here is a general map of the Pakistan showing the areas flooded (its dates from 6 August - things have got worse in the southern areas since then): link to

      For a map of the area currently being flooded (lower Sindh) see this link which shows what would happen with a rise in sea-level of (eg) 7 metres. From this you can get a clear idea of the Indus flowing down to the sea and of the low-lying areas around it which are in danger of flooding as the water surge which has been moving down the Indus closes in on the Arabian sea: link to

      Currently, Thatta on the right side of the Indus going downstream has been evacuated and Sujawal on the left has been inundated.

      You can also use this site to see what global warming might do to the area where you live in the event sea-levels rise.

  • Another 500,000 Flee Indus Breaches
    Taliban threaten Aid Workers;
    Global Warming Implicated
    • Dodi F - Undoubtedly drones could identify and feed the coordinates back to helicopters to save the lives of 1,000s of families stuck on the roofs of houses and in isolated pockets of dry land.

      These drones have (allegedly) been flown out of Jacobabad air base which the Asian Human Rights Commission has appealed that the US military allow to be used for relief operations: link to and which Pakistan Senate's Deputy Chairman Mir Jan Mohammed Khan Jamali has alleged was saved from the floods by diverting the waters into very large areas of inhabited agricultural land. link to

      There are a lot of people who have been exposed to the elements and have been without access to safe water and food for days and even weeks and they need rescue/resupply.

      Unfortunately, as we have seen, even in these circumstances, the US military is continuing to use these assets to launch air-strikes, killing women and children.

    • Well, it is a bit harsh to put blame on the Pakistani military. Quite a few reports indicate they have saved a lot of lives eg link to

      The scale of this disaster is such, no government or army could have done anything much about it. Having said that, the politicians/landowners, who have been engaged in battles to build illegal dams to defend their own land whilst breaching dams protecting their rivals lands, have not covered themselves in glory.

      Lower Sindh is going to be under water for some time now as the floods coming down the Indus have overflowed important flood defences. With high tides in the Arabian Sea, the water has nowhere to go.

      Regarding US and NATO aid - as well as the important public diplomacy angle - NATO logistics are working day and night to try and reopen/open up new routes into Afghanistan to supply the troops there. Expect a lot of road-building equipment and bridges to be sent to Pakistan.

      Regarding the People's Liberation Army - they are one of the most hopeless armies in the world but the their propaganda department is good at getting to any disaster, putting up red flags and filming soldiers looking active - usually in completely hopeless tasks designed to look good on camera.

      In Pakistan at least the leadership can be called out if they visit staged relief camps and actors posing as victims: link to

  • Republican National Committee Slashes New York Muslim Cabbie
    • athEIst - That is a most inciteful comment. link to

      Re Michael Enright's facebook page change:

      It is obviously going to be very difficult to prove a white, middle class person from New York could be an American-born anti-muslim terrorist. It is also highly unlikely he will be sent to Gitmo.

      There are a number of possible explanations of the changes in the guy's facebook page.

      Clearly someone who has access to his account does not think it is a good idea for him to be seen as a fan of a right-wing anti-immigration politician. Whilst they are happy for him to retain his link to the multi-faith group.

      So who did this? Perhaps it will come out in court or Facebook let us know? Was his solicitor, Jason Martin, or his family given access to his account during a visit? Perhaps friends of his have or found a way to access his account?

      I hesitate to suggest that anyone else might have had the contacts to find a way to delete the offending words. I can imagine Assemblyman Greg Ball is quite pleased its no longer there.

    • Someone has edited Michael Enright's facebook page since his arrest - Greg Ball was one of his likes yesterday.

      I saw it and someone has put up a screen-shot here: link to

      Greg Ball seems to specialise in a perhaps superficially reasonable but actually deeply inciteful discourse on immigration:

      (this is him in the New York State Assembly):

      "In broad daylight we had a mother and her daughter who were mowed down by a drunk illegal alien. Could they have been killed and mowed down by a drunk New Yorker - absolutely. But I can tell you that Arizona, being the very epicentre of this illegal alien economy there are many mums and dads that no longer have their children and there are many children that no longer have their mums and dads."

      link to

    • OK – well I think something of a threshold has been crossed here, with this attempted murder, and perhaps more importantly with the ensuing reaction from the US right.

      Watching Fox News today, seeing the racist comments on their it is clear the right-wing pundits and their audience are not going to row back now that blood has been drawn. As far as many of them are concerned, any harm that befalls muslims, any mosques burnt down will be the fault of Feisal Abdul Rauf.

      I don’t want to be alarmist, but a significant proportion of the American right seems to have a faith in militaristic policies and ethnic hatred which put them firmly in the Nazi tradition. These guys can not be entrusted with state power. I don’t want to be alarmist, but they’ll come after the “muslims” and the” illegals” and then professor they’ll be after you - for your “anti-American” views - and then almost everyone who reads this blog.

      I’m not saying this is inevitable – but you know, things are starting to look a bit like the Weimar Republic. The progressive and democratically-minded people of America need to come together in a hurry to put an end to these wars against muslims which are feeding religious and ethnic hatreds amongst your own population and which, if things continue to spiral out of control, are likely to have an even more fateful and disastrous effect on your own country than on the nations you have occupied.

  • 500,000 evacuated from Jacobabad as Floodwaters head toward Sindh
    • Mark Dangerfield 08/14/2010 at 4:47 pm

      The humanitarian consequences of this flooding are appalling. In the next 6 months, with crops and seed stores destroyed in most of Pakistan's agricultural areas, the chances of famine in Pakistan and Afghanistan must now be high. It is a massive relief that the Sukkur and Kotri barrages (The essential iinfrastructure for South Pakistan's agriculture) have so far remained intact - their loss would have probably marked the end of Pakistan as a unitary state.

      The only chance of avoiding famine is massive international support through international institutions such as the world bank, as the image of Pakistan (and the vilification of muslims generally) is such that individual government will find it difficult to make commitments.

      The geopolitical consequences are also going to be ongoing. NATO's main supply lines through Pakistan into Afghanistan are now cut and noone knows how long it will take for them to be reestablished. The short-fall can perhaps be made up through upgrades to the Northern Distribution Network which goes through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - but this supply line has limited capacity until a rail link from Uzbekistan to Mazar-e-Sharif can be completed. Air transport of essential items from Bahrain is going to massively increase the costs of the occupation.

      Through Al Jazeera, it is clear that the NATO forces will be looking to purchase more food locally (presented as a way of helping the locals - which might be more convincing if put into place a few years ago).

      But the major consequence for the US occupation of Afghanistan is that the whole effort is currently entirely dependent on the goodwill of Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in keeping supply lines open.

      Perhaps the first consequence of this game changer can be seen in the Kremlin's willingness to go ahead with charging the Bushehr nuclear reactor which seems to have met no real resistance from the White House.

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