Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for August 5th, 2008

Could This Be True?

Posted by MEC on August 5, 2008

In a new book that will be released tomorrow, Ron Suskind accuses the Bush Administration of forging
a letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein implicating the Iraqi government in the September 11 attacks, in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.

It’s so very easy to believe. I hope Mr. Suskind has rock-solid evidence to support his claims.

The White House response gives Mr. Suskind credibility:

“Ron Suskind makes a living from gutter journalism. He is about selling books and making wild allegations that no one can verify, including the numerous bipartisan commissions that have reported on pre-war intelligence.”

If the White House had a substantive and supportable rebuttal to the claim, they wouldn’t have to resort to smear tactics, would they?

Posted in Iraq war | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Ahmed Rashid on Pakistan and the Taliban

Posted by Charles II on August 5, 2008

Avedon Carol brought to my attention this interview by Scott Horton of Ahmed Rashid, an influential Pakistani writer. In Rashid’s telling, the relationship between Pakistan and the United States is of the United States as an amiable dunce, evacuating the ISI from Kunduz at the height of the 2001 fighting in Afghanistan, and genially providing Musharraf with advanced weapons with which to confront India, even as he declined to participate in hostilities against the Taliban.

There is a darker telling of the story, one about which I have been writing for many years (see, for example, A House Divided this piece, originally published at Smirking Chimp, if memory serves.). In a footnote that is missing from the only online copy of that article, I noted that:

Ahmed Rashid, an esteemed Pakistani expert on the Taliban, stated in an e-mail on 10/14/01 that all U.S. aid to Afghanistan ceased after the seizure of Kabul in 1992. He said he believed that aid to the Taliban came exclusively from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but that it is possible that illicit funds from the U.S. also made their way to the Taliban. He also denied that the money that flowed to poppy farmers was a gift to the Taliban. In assessing this opinion, one may recall that Rashid is the citizen of a dictatorship, albeit one that permits remarkable latitude to the press. Discussing covert aid, however, could be a forbidden topic.

The dictatorship is–sort of–gone. But as I said in A House Divided:

Selig Harrison of the Century Foundation, however, was widely reported to have gone farther and ascribed the creation of the Taliban directly to the US (see, for example, Mushahid Hussain, writing in globalinfo.org, #8833).

According to Rahul Bedi, writing in the London Telegraph on 9/26/01, there were even deeper ties:

Intelligence sources said that the ISI-CIA collaboration in the 1980s assisted Osama bin Laden, as well as Mir Aimal Kansi, who assassinated two CIA officers outside their office in Langley, Virginia, in 1993, and Ramzi Yousef.

Yousef and his accomplices were involved in the failed bomb attack on the World Trade Centre in New York five years later [Bedi presumably means that he was convicted for conspiracy five years later]. The intelligence link-up also helped powerful international drug smugglers.

Bedi added that the CIA trained the ISI. According to Tara Kartha, writing for the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in October 2000, the US played a direct role in equipping the Taliban.

Human Rights Watch (“Fueling Afghanistan’s War,”12/15/00) identified U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as sources of Taliban funding. Testimony by Michael Sheehan of the State Department before the House Judiciary Committee on December 13, 2000 made it clear that the drug trade was also a likely major source of funding. Notably, Human Rights Watch also characterized the conflict in Afghanistan as primarily between the Taliban, funded by American allies, and the Iranian- and Russian-funded United Front, which effectively frames the relationship between the U.S. and the Taliban as patron-client.

In summary, the Taliban appears to have been created by Pakistan, perhaps on the instigation of the U.S. It was funded by U.S. allies, as well as by Pakistan, and operated in a manner that the U.S. believed at least until 1998 largely served U.S. strategic interests. It is not difficult to imagine that elements of the U.S. government might have seen the Taliban as a means to bleed long-term rivals. That could explain why the warnings from other elements of the government about the dangers of Al Qaida took so long to become policy.

(I haven’t included links that have since gone dead. For an online reference to Harrison, see here)

At this writing, I lean toward believing that the US government created the Taliban as an instrument to exert control in Afghanistan and that we continue to believe that it is in some manner useful. But until we start getting some serious answers from South Asia experts, it’s hard to tell. History tells us that the US government is not as stupid as it looks.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan | 3 Comments »

Tuesday Afternoon News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 5, 2008

Oil prices have dropped back to around $120 a barrel, from a July 11 high of $147 a barrel. The prices have slowly started climbing down at the pump. This won’t last, of course, but it’s a nice breather that, if people are prudent, will help give them a little more cash in the pocket to facilitate moving from oil-based modes of transport.

— Speaking of moving from oil-based modes of transport: This is an excellent article on how people in Washington, DC (which is a very good city to bike in and around) are using bikes, and how everything old is new again.

— Hey, you! Yeah, you! Know your way around the iPhone’s SDK? Wanna make a few easy bucks? Design an app for the iPhone. Seriously. One woman’s crossword-puzzle app is bringing her $2000 a day in revenue.

Posted in Good Things, Oil, technology | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Obama’s Energy Plan

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 5, 2008

Can be found here.

A short synopsis:

Obama’s comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:

• Provide short‐term relief to American families facing pain at the pump

• Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years
to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.

• Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela
combined

• Put 1 million Plug‐In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by
2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America

• Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by
2025

• Implement an economy‐wide cap‐and‐trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80
percent by 2050

Here’s how the jobs proposal would be implemented:

Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders. America boasts the
highest‐skilled manufacturing workforce in the world and advanced manufacturing facilities that
have powered economic growth in America for decades. Barack Obama believes that America
companies and workers should build the high‐demand technologies of the future, and he will help
nurture America’s success in clean technology manufacturing by establishing a federal investment
program to help manufacturing centers modernize and help Americans learn new skills to produce green products. This federal grant program will allocate money to the states to identify
and support local manufacturers with the most compelling plans for modernizing existing or
closed manufacturing facilities to produce new advanced clean technologies. This investment will
help provide the critical up‐front capital needed by small and mid‐size manufacturers to produce
these innovative new technologies. Along with an increased federal investment in the research,
development and deployment of advanced technologies, this $1 billion per year investment will
help spur sustainable economic growth in communities across the country.

Create New Job Training Programs for Clean Technologies. The Obama plan will increase
funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green
technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their
efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high‐paying jobs. Obama will also create an
energy‐focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth. This
program will provide youth participants with energy efficiency and environmental service
opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in their communities, while
also providing them with practical skills and experience in important career fields of expected
high‐growth employment. Participants will not only be able to use their training to find new jobs,
but also build skills that will help them move up the career ladder over time.

Sounds good to me.

Posted in 2008, automobiles, Barack Obama, climate change, economy, energy, environment, Good Things, saving the earth, solar, technology, when government is a good thing, wind power | Comments Off on Obama’s Energy Plan

 
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