Thursday, October 23, 2008


Here is an interview with Naom Chomsky from the Real News Network. As only Chomsky can do he uses the health care disaster, and the response of the political classes to the public's desire for comprehensive health care, to illustrate how US democracy works.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It has been a year since Riverbend's last post. The destruction of her life and the lives of millions of others is a crime that is difficult to really comprehend. Anglachel has some thoughts.

Howard Zinn

There is an interview with Howard Zinn on the Real News Network on the election and beyond.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is it 2006?

From the News
Chaudhry Nisar [leader of the opposition in the Pakistani Parliament] made it clear that it was not Pakistan’s war but was imposed on us. “The people gave us a mandate for change but so far the same old policies were being pursued.”
Snark aside, the article shows how the government of Pakistan is between a rock and a hard place. The economy is on the verge of collapse and very dependent on US aid. The foreign exchange reserves are at a record low - just enough for a month and a half of imports. There has been a massive flight of capital and in this time of tight credit the government has been unable to float bonds needed for its own functioning. In this environment the US has enormous leverage and the government cannot afford to ignore US desires. It was US backing that resulted in pledges of 4 billion dollars from international donors to help stave of bankruptcy - for now. On the other hand as evident from this report there is also enormous pressure from the people not to go along with the US demands. If the government could somehow reduce the economic hardships of the people it could ignore their wishes as far as collaborating with the US was concerned. This was what allowed Musharraf to stay in power. However, given the dire situation of the global economy it is not likely that the economic condition of the people will change for the better any time soon. So, I would look for signs of Zardari and his buddies preparing their various villas in Britain and the US for occupancy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fun facts

There are the asserted knowns

In last Thursday's Vice Presidential debate, Democrat Joe Biden said "the history of the last 700 years" showed the Iraqi people could never get along with each other.
And then there are facts

After World War I, one-third of Baghdad was Jewish. After World War II, Jews served in the Iraqi cabinet, its Parliament, and on its High Court of Appeal.

"That speaks to a culture, that despite the images that dominate the headlines, was really quite civilised, sophisticated and cosmopolitan and multicultural well before that was a term that university professors and liberals like to use," Sabar [..] told IPS.
Ariel Sabar is the author of a book describing his father growing up in Northern Iraq,
My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Northern Iraq. Life for Jews in Iraq turns brutal after 1948 and it certainly hasn't been a peaceful place since then but 700 years?

Friday, October 10, 2008


What is frustrating about so much of the conversation about Afghanistan is the refusal to take into account the fact that actual people live in Afghanistan. And that how they have been effected by the US invasion might actually have an impact on the outcome of the US mission there. Since the early bombings from 50000 feet of wedding parties people have been warning of the effect of civilian casualties. But the idea that other people may not like their loved ones killed any more than we do doesn't seem to quite click. That people may not like to have their villages liberated by bombing them seems a foregn concept. Anand Gobal has a piece up on which provides some graphic description of what our war is doing to the Afghans and how some of them are reacting. He makes clear that the last thing the place needs is more foreign troops:

When, decades from now, historians compile the record of this Afghan war, they will date the Afghan version of the surge -- the now trendy injection of large numbers of troops to resuscitate a flagging war effort -- to sometime in early 2007. Then, a growing insurgency was causing visible problems for U.S. and NATO forces in certain pockets in the southern parts of the country, long a Taliban stronghold. In response, military planners dramatically beefed up the international presence, raising the number of troops over the following 18 months by 20,000, a 45% jump.

During this period, however, the violence also jumped -- by 50%. This shouldn't be surprising. More troops meant more targets for Taliban fighters and suicide bombers. In response, the international forces retaliated with massive aerial bombing campaigns and large-scale house raids. The number of civilians killed in the process skyrocketed. In the fifteen months of this surge, more civilians have been killed than in the previous four years combined.

During the same period, the country descended into a state of utter dereliction -- no jobs, very little reconstruction, and ever less security. In turn, the rising civilian death toll and the decaying economy proved a profitable recipe for the Taliban, who recruited significant numbers of new fighters. They also won the sympathy of Afghans who saw them as the lesser of two evils. Once confined to the deep Afghan south, today the insurgents operate openly right at the doorstep of Kabul, the capital.

But Obama plans to march more troops in as does McCain. So according to Einstein's definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - are these folks insane? Or is Afghan life simply not important enough to consider? Probably both.