January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
The twitterverse has been abuzz this week with revelations of how the U.S. State Department has been spending its money in Pakistan. A couple of interesting items to note:
The U.S. funded the Sunni Ittehad Council for holding a rally in 2009.The Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) is a rabidly extremist religious outfit that most recently gained notoriety for offering Rs. 100 million for the gun that Mumtaz Qadri used to assassinate Salman Taseer a year ago. (Taseer was assassinated for his stance on changing Pakistan’s blasphemy law.) In other words, the Sunni Ittehad Council is a nasty piece of work. So what’s the U.S. doing funding such very ugly people? Well, the U.S. has decided that it hates the Taliban more than anybody, and any enemy of the Taliban is a friend, and since the SIC hates the Taliban (for very narrow sectarian reasons), that makes the SIC a friend of secularism and democracy, and thus Uncle Sam’s buddy. Note that the SIC is a Sufi Barelvi outfit, which isn’t supposed to make sense, since the U.S. has also declared that Sufism will save us from terrorism, but these are exactly the kinds of absurdities one ends up with in U.S.-foreign-policy-land.
Another interesting item of note is the nearly $1 million in funds given to film projects by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (who has made the films Terror’s Children, Pakistan’s Taliban Generation, Reinventing the Taliban, Pakistan’s Double Game, and many other terror-themed films among others). There are two projects being funded: one, an animated series for children that will focus on identity and history, and two, a series about “ordinary heroes” in Pakistan (I’m going to guess that at least some of these heroes fight the Taliban in their spare time). Given what we know of her past films, and of course about the U.S. agenda, one can only imagine what kind of nonsense will be concocted for these new projects.
December 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Washington Post carried an article yesterday about the terrifying effect of the use of drones by Israel in Gaza. Yes, drones are terrifying. They kill but their terror spreads well beyond their lethal effect. For the people who are targeted, the use of drones is a chilling constant reminder that the aggressor is everywhere, and can strike at any minute, at anyone, any time it wants to. Frustratingly, the story is about Israel’s use of drones, and essentially ignores the fact that the U.S. is the most prolific user of these deadly weapons. But the article does note:
…the most enduring reminder of Israel’s unblinking vigilance and its unfettered power to strike at a moment’s notice is the buzz of circling drones — a soundtrack also provided by American drones over Pakistan’s tribal areas and, increasingly, parts of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The U.S. drone war is largely invisible, carried out in remote regions sometimes beyond the boundaries of America’s battlefields. U.S. officials are reticent to discuss the program, which President Obama has reliedon more than his predecessor to kill enemies [emphasis added].
That’s right. Barack Obama has relied more heavily on a covert, illegal, and deadly program than George W. Bush – you know, the guy that we all love to hate, the one who illegally invaded Iraq to the chagrin of not just nutty third world people but even Europeans! When you couple this with the explicit policy of the Obama administration that it is legal to assassinate U.S. citizens without charges and without a trial (as it did with Anwar Awlaki in Yemen, again using drones), it may actually be the case that Barack Obama actually has much greater contempt for U.S. and international law than did George W. Bush.
Given that Barack Obama came to office vowing to improve relations with the rest of the world, the fact that he has relied so heavily on a military strategy designed to inculcate fear (without gaining much military advantage) is stunning.