Saturday, November 13, 2010

Operation Paper: The United States and Drugs in Thailand and Burma

By Peter Dale Scott, Japan Focus

This Chapter 3 from my newly published American War Machine describes America's Operation Paper, a November 1950 program to arm and supply the Kuomintang remnant troops of General Li Mi in Burma. Operation Paper itself was relatively short-lived, but it had two long-term consequences that have not been adequately discussed.

The first is that the CIA was launched into its fifty-year history of indirectly facilitating and overseeing forces engaged in vastly expanding the production of opiates, in successive areas not previously major in the international traffic. This is a history that stretches, almost continuously, from Thailand and Burma through Laos until the 1970s, and then to present-day Afghanistan.

The second is that the resulting drug proceeds helped supplement the CIA's efforts to develop its own Asian proxy armies, initially defensive but increasingly offensive. This led in 1959 to the initiation of armed conflict in the previously neutral and Buddhist nation of Laos, an unwinnable hot war that soon spread to Vietnam.

The decision to launch Operation Paper was made by a small cabal inside the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), notably Desmond Fitzgerald and Richard Stilwell in conjunction with former OSS Chief William Donovan, who favored the rollback of communism over the official State Department policy of containment. My book sees the expanding offensive efforts in Southeast Asia, after switching from Li Mi's forces to the CIA's Thai proxy army PARU, as a watershed in the conversion of America's post-war defense establishment, which was concerned above all with preserving the status quo in western Europe, into today's offensive American War Machine, with actions centered on Southeast and Central Asia.

The writing of American War Machine has given me a clearer picture of America's overall responsibility for the huge increases in global drug trafficking since World War II. This is exemplified by the more than doubling of Afghan opium drug production since the U.S. invaded that country in 2001. But the U.S. responsibility for the present dominant role of Afghanistan in the global heroin traffic has merely replicated what had happened earlier in Burma, Thailand, and Laos between the late 1940s and the 1970s. These countries also only became factors in the international drug traffic as a result of CIA assistance (after the French, in the case of Laos) to what would otherwise have been only local traffickers.

It is not too much to conclude that, for such larger reasons of policy, U.S. authorities actually suborned at times an increase of illicit heroin traffic.

An understanding of this phenomenon must inform future scholarly work on drug trafficking in Asia.1

If opium could be useful in achieving victory, the pattern was clear. We would use opium.2
Thailand and Drugs: A Personal Preface

It is now clearly established that in November 1950, President Truman, faced with large numbers of Chinese communist troops pouring into Korea, approved an operation, code-named Operation Paper, to prepare remnant Kuomintang (KMT) forces in Burma for a countervailing invasion of Yunnan. It is clear also that these troops, the so-called 93rd Division under KMT General Li Mi, were already involved in drug trafficking. It is clear finally that, as we shall see, Truman belatedly approved a supply operation to drug traffickers that had already been in existence for some time.

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Be the Media: The Current State of Activist Media and the Work of Franklin Lopez

By Chris Robé, PopMatters

"Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates with the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there… It takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density"
—The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurection

As November 2009 neared and the global recession continued to eviscerate the infrastructures of the nation-state and local government, as hundreds of thousands of recently fired workers battled for a decreasing number of low-paid, disposable service-industry jobs to simply keep food on their tables, as their homes depreciated in value while their mortgages bloomed into nightmares, as thousands of low-income students were increasingly squeezed out of colleges by inflated tuition-hikes that administrators disingenuously deemed as necessary austerity measures, various global justice activists assessed the inheritances left in the wake of the famed Battle of Seattle during its tenth anniversary.

One cannot understate the radicalizing impact that the Seattle World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in 1999 had upon Generation Xers worldwide. Although Seattle had many political precedents and influences such as the anti-colonial struggles of the '60s in Vietnam, Algeria, Senegal, Chile, and Cuba, the feminist movements, the anti-nuclear crusades, queer activism, and, more recently, the 1994 armed insurrection of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the 1996 Landless Campesino Movement in Brazil, the 1998 Peoples' Global Action Against Free Trade and the WTO in Geneva, and the June 1999 Global Carnival Against Capital in London, to name only a few, Seattle converged in an explosive way. Over 50,000 people descended upon the city, catching both police and activists off-guard. Traditional sectarian lines were drastically being dissolved, emblemized in the placards that read, "Teamsters and Turtles: Together at Last!" Traditional permitted marches intersected with black bloc property destruction of Starbucks and Nike Town, causing WTO delegates to finally cease their meetings and flee from a city smoldering under pepper spray and tear gas as Marshal Law locked into effect. As one protestor was to reflect later, "Seattle 1999 was our May 1968."

Seattle politicized previously depoliticized locals and on-line viewers with its flood of police repression and brazen governmental arrogance that Westerners were perhaps used to and comfortable with descending upon the Third World, but not in their own backyard. Yet, more importantly, it galvanized the already politicized by revealing how the center could no longer hold, how the circuits of neoliberalism could be shorted at ground zero in a silicon city that pulsed with the free-trade platitudes and dot.com delusions of the Empire.
 
Only months before Seattle, Naomi Klein released No Logo, which boldly charted the international terrain of globalization and its discontents: the glut of anti-union temp. work in the First World; the imposition of Free Trade Zones within the Third World where multinationals are given free-reign to exploit Third World, predominantly female, labor; the intrusion of marketing into our education system, treating children as potential consumers rather than as students; and the charring of an entire way of life into easily identifiable corporate brands. The book distilled the diverse strands of the global Left into a powerful critique of neoliberalism that activists could incorporate into their protests. Yet the book's final section on resistance that charts culture jamming, reclaim the streets campaigns, and the student anti-sweatshop movements remained unconvincing. How could these various, unrelated strains of civil disobedience possibly block the flows of global capital in a significant fashion? No Logo's answers possessed the stale whiff of empty Leftist genuflection towards change after having documented the seemingly inexorable momentum of late capitalism towards planetary destruction. That is until Seattle happened.

Also within the crucible of the Seattle WTO protests Indymedia was founded— a consensus-based, non-hierarchical, digitally-networked, technologically-savvy collective of activist videographers, journalists, photographers, artists, producers, and web-designers. Similar to the protests themselves, Indymedia had a long lineage of influences from the Third Cinema movements of the '60s, the video activist groups of the '70s, the cable access movement of the '70s and '80s, UNESCO's McBride Commission, Downtown Community Television, Paper Tiger and Deep Dish TV, and the Zapatistas.

More immediately, a group called Counter Media established a website during the 1996 Democratic National Convention to broadcast the protests and teach-ins occurring outside the convention, though due to technical problems the site kept crashing. This was the first attempt at establishing a website to distribute radical, on-the-scene protest footage. Furthermore, the Grassroots Media Alliance Conference in Austin, Texas in 1999 provided a forum where established media groups like Whispered Media, Big Noise Film, Deep Dish, and Free Speech TV could discuss with independent activist media-makers plans about providing alternative media coverage during Seattle.

Even with this preparation, Indymedia almost did not happen. By early November, the collective could only raise $1,500 of the $40,000 needed to run a website, upload satellite footage, power electricity, and maintain a media space. Luckily, during the final weeks leading up to the protests, Indymedia received a $10,000 anonymous check as well as a $10,000 donation from the Tides Foundation. Deep Dish TV had also been busily raising money on its own for satellite access. Additionally, Gabrielle Kuiper, an Australian Ph.D. student, had just developed an open-source software code on which Indymedia could establish its own web-platform to directly upload video footage, news reports, and photographs. Finally, Seattle, the hub of the tech. sector, provided more than ample amounts of free technical labor to upkeep the website during the protests.

Indymedia's presence upon the scene proved inspirational. Not only was it broadcasting in-depth stories regarding the protests that the major networks arrogantly ignored, but it also revealed the raw power of a D.I.Y. ethic of upstart amateurs seizing back control of a medium that had once seemed to be beyond their grasps. Similar to punk's seizure of arena rock, and hip hop's sampling of black R&B songs that were copyrighted by white producers, Indymedia hijacked cheap video technology and the open-source knowledge of the tech. sector to challenge commercial media's façade of "objectivity" with its own visions of global justice. Anyone could upload his/her video, photographs, or stories to the website. The Seattle Media Center produced 2000 copies daily of its own newspaper, The Blind Spot, as well as provided on-line pdfs so that activists in the other 82 cities also protesting the WTO could distribute it. Seattle illuminated how new media technologies could be re-inflected against the very vectors of global capital that made them possible. By March 2003, Indymedia had grown into a global phenomenon with over 110 international Media Centers—though most still primarily centered in North America and Europe. Its insistence that everyday folk "be the media" proved prophetic.

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Gagging dissent won’t silence Arundhati Roy

By Sanjay Kumar, The Express Tribune

Socrates was morally, intellectually and politically at odds with his fellow Athenians and he paid the price for it. And he paid the price in terms of his life. Poison took away his life, but his death could not kill the ideas and thoughts he espoused.

Arundhati Roy's saga in India sometimes reminds me of ancient Athens and its ruling class. One example is the way the Indian ruling class, major opposition party and the mainstream media reacted to Roy's comments questioning India's right over Kashmir and calling for it's independence.

If one takes the statement at face value, it appears to be a regular comment that many groups in the Kashmir valley make every day. Such questions are also raised in many seminars in Delhi and other parts of India, but this freedom of speech, which is basic to the functioning of a democracy, is being termed as seditious.

Indian Law Minister M Veerappa Moily termed the statement "most unfortunate" and warned that freedom of speech "cannot violate patriotic sentiments of the people."

The main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called it anti-national, branded it seditious and "blamed the government for looking other way."

How far is invoking patriotism justified for booking a writer or artist on charges of sedition?

The 18th century English writer, Samuel Johnson, called "patriotism…the last refuge of the scoundrel." In the 21st century, 'nationalism' has replaced the word 'patriotism'. So-called political groups who call themselves nationalists try to stifle any voice of dissent which does not agree with the narrow world view of such parties, who claim to represent a democratic India which gives a constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech.

Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds…Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

This was the reaction of Arundhati Roy to those who demand a trial against her. This is a scathing commentary on the state of the nation and the thinking of the ruling class of modern India. Instead of showing maturity as a democracy, we are showing impatience with the finer points of democratic values.

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The Global Poverty Paradox

Nicholas N. Eberstadt, Commentary Magazine

For a brief, glorious, and unforgettable moment 20 years ago, it seemed as if a great and terrible question that had been perennially stalking humanity had finally been answered. That profound question was as old as human hope itself: could ordinary men and women, regardless of their location on this earth or their station in this life, hope that deliberate social arrangements could provide them—and their descendants thereafter—with permanent and universal protection against the grinding poverty and material misery that had been the human lot ever since memory began? For those exhilarating few years back in the 1990s, it seemed to many of us that the 20th century had indeed answered this age-old question: decisively, successfully, and conclusively.

Brute facts, after all, had demonstrated beyond controversy that human beings the world over could now indeed create sustained explosions of mass prosperity—rather than temporary and transient windfalls—that would utterly transform the human material condition, relegating the traditional conception of desperate want from a daily personal concern to an almost abstract textbook curiosity.

According to estimates by the late economic historian Angus Maddison, the world's average per capita output quadrupled between 1900 and 1989/91, with even greater income surges registered in the collectivity of Western societies where the process of modern economic growth had commenced.1 Membership in this "Western" club, though, manifestly did not require European background or heritage, for the Asian nations of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan had come to embrace political and economic arrangements similar to those pioneered in Western Europe and its overseas offshoots, and had in fact enjoyed some of the century's fastest rates of long-term income growth.

The formula for generating steady improvements in living standards for a diversity of human populations, in short, had been solidly established. The matter at hand was now to extend that formula to the reaches of the earth where it could not yet be exercised—most obviously at that time for political reasons, given the fact that nearly a third of the world's peoples were still living under Communist regimes in the late 1980s.

By the early 1990s, with the final failure of the Soviet project and the widely heralded idea of the "End of History," it suddenly seemed as if the liberal political ideals that promoted the spread of the Western growth formula would no longer encounter much organized global resistance. It now seemed only a matter of time until every part of the world could join in a newly possible economic race to the top. Prosperity for all—everywhere—no longer sounded like merely a prayer. Quite the contrary: the end of global poverty was increasingly taken to be something much more like a feasible long-term-action agenda.

Alas, in the years since, new brute facts have asserted themselves, while other awkward facts of somewhat older vintage have reasserted themselves, demanding renewed attention. All too many contemporary locales have managed to "achieve" records of long-term economic failure in our modern era. The plain and unavoidable truth is that countries with hundreds of millions of inhabitants today are not simply falling behind in a global march toward ever-greater prosperity: they are positively heading in the wrong direction, spiraling down on their own distinct, but commonly dismal, paths of severe, prolonged, and tragic retrogression.

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Woman sentenced to death for blasphemy

By Michael Rosch, Examiner

Asia Bibi is no fan of Islam, and she didn't mind telling Muslim women why while working in a field with them in a Pakistani village southwest of Lahore:

She said that "the Quran is fake and your prophet remained in bed for one  month before his death because he had worms in his ears and mouth. He married  Khadija just for money and after looting her kicked her out of the house," local police official Muhammad Ilyas told CNN.

Bibi is a Christian and unfortunately, she chose the wrong country to speak her mind as now she's been sentenced to death for the crime of blasphemy.

Muhammad Iqbal, a senior police official in the district of Nankana Sahib, said she also was fined the equivalent of $1,100.

Oh yeah, and she was fined $1,100, presumably because the death sentence isn't harsh enough for those who would dare express their opinions about Islam.

The official charge is breaking section 295-C of the Pakistani penal code, which says:

'Whoever ... defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.'

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CIA Psyops: Hiding the Headley Game

According to The Hindustan Globe:

...In our assessment, the CIA & FBI were clearly aware of the detailed plans for the attack on Mumbai.

HEADLEY A STRATEGIC & INVALUABLE ASSET: Undoubtedly the CIA-FBI have gone to preposterous levels to protect Headley & have repeatedly refused his extradition to India . Thus his limited & controlled access by Indian Intel is clearly a farce & of no consequence whatsoever, apart fro m the fact that is now being used to cover-up the crimes of the Intelligence Bureau, as well as that of the Police that indulge in encounter killings & the cover-up of the terror attack by the Brahmanical terrorists, within the Abhinav Bharat & the Sanatan Sanstha.

But then Headley is a unique asset. He is White, yet of a mixed Muslim-Jewish parentage. He knew English, Urdu, Farsi, Pashto & a smattering of Arabic.

And then he had very deep connections with the drug-underworld & the narco-terror networks.

Headley's father & his religion are often discussed, but when it co mes to his mother, there is a studied silence & it is only fair that this angle be delved into as well. In fact the Wikipedia insists that he acquired a "Christian sounding na me ", even though his mother was Jewish.

David Coleman Headley was a child of a broken family & around the age of sixteen Serrill Headley (Jewish by faith), took him to away to the US . It was after 9/11, when Headley began to work for the CIA, that he changed his name from Daoud Gilani, to David Coleman Headley, which the Wikipedia wrongly refers to a Christian name. Clearly the Wikipedia is trying to mislead for a purpose.

The point is that clearly Gilani wanted a new identity after 9/11 & since he was now working for the CIA-FBI as an undercover agent, he could have taken on any identity, but yet he chose to take his mother's Jewish identity & the Coleman surname.

All the reports state that Headley traveled with a Jewish prayer book with him. Was it because he had abandoned the faith of his father & had taken the faith of his mother which is normally the case of children of divorced families? I believe that was precisely the case.

Again, Headley operated out of the key Zionist strongholds in the US , namely Chicago & New York & in India from Goa , Mumbai, Pushkar (Rajasthan) & Himachal Pradesh.

In Goa he was in regular touch with an American agent who was living there for nine years but has disappeared after 26/11 & our police could not locate him. Though, when it comes to arresting innocent Muslim youth they have proved to be efficient & ruthless as well.

In Pushkar, whilst Headley was staking out the targets, he stayed in a hotel where two other Israeli's were also present at that very time. So the role of Mossad agents in the 26/11 attack needs to be investigated as well. ( http://criminalstate.com/2009/08/how-israel-wages-game-theory-warfare/ )

Also another question is as to whether Headley was a Chabad Lubavitcher by sect. The Chabad Lubavitch is one of the most powerful of the Jewish sects & has interests across the world ( http://uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.com/2010/07/chabad-at-hubs-of-power-around-world.html ) . The Chabad Houses are known to be used by Mossad operatives as safe houses to conduct their nefarious activities, ranging from drug & weapon smuggling, to espionage, fomenting terror & assassinations.

Despite certain limited warnings in May, September & November 2008, that did emanate from the sections of the US & provided to Indians authorities, the identity of whom is yet not known.

Yet, Headley was left untouched as no information was provided. Headley had been provided a visa from the Indian consulate in Chicago with all waivers despite his record of drugs smuggling & his Pakistani origin. Thus Headley enjoyed patronage at the highest levels, even within sections of the Indian security & Intelligence. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Headleys-visa-papers-vanish-from-consulate/articleshow/5345798.cms )

And after 26/11, the government & the corporate Media, barring a few exceptions, are satisfied with the Kasab story. The Plea bargain deal in the words of MK Bhadrakumar (ex-ambassador) "was a deal that enables the US government to hold back from formally producing any evidence against Headley in a Court of Law that might have included details of his links with US intelligence ", which will now remain classified. He also said that the Obama administration was "behaving very strangely" & had something "explosive to hide".

The former counter-terrorism chief (RAW) & security analyst, Bahukutumbi Raman was of the opinion that, "the mishandling by the US is due to it's anxiety to prevent public admission of the links of the US Intelligence community with Headley & protect Pakistan from the legal consequences of its role in the 26/11 terror attack. He further stated that "the FBI wants to avoid a formal trial & that "the feeling in India is that the US has not been transparent as it is almost certain that the CIA was aware of Headley & his movements across the sub-continent"...

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No more rage against the machine

Mark LeVine, Al-Jazeera

Dishearteningly unsurprising.

This somewhat awkward phrase is, to my mind, the best description of the emotional and moral impact of Wikileak's release of 400,000 classified US military documents.

In the wake of the GOP "landslide" in the US midterm elections, most commentators have moved on from this all-too-troubling and familiar story. But their doing so only reinforces the basic problems that the release of the documents has revealed - an almost brazen disregard for reality and willingness to ignore the lessons of history for political expediency and economic and strategic gain.

And Barack Obama's post-election "move to the centre" and unwillingness to face the core systemic issues that helped lead to this electoral debacle will only strengthen the Republicans and diminish further the US' global standing.

Violating the laws of war

The individual details are bad enough. First, there are the details of hundreds of civilians killed at checkpoints and over 60,000 killed more broadly during the war; a figure the US military had refused to release and denied even having collected.

Then there is the continued torture by US troops of prisoners well after Abu Ghraib, and the even larger problem of ignoring, as a matter of official military policy per "frago 242" (Fragmentary Order 242) the even more systematic torture and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by their own jailers. And even more stunning, the cavalier manner in which military lawyers okayed the killing of Iraqis trying to surrender merely because "they could not surrender to an aircraft".

One can only wonder how the Nobel Peace Prize Committee now feels about having bestowed their most cherished prize on a president who handed over thousands of Iraqi detainees to that country's government and security forces, even though the US military had irrefutable evidence of massive, systematic torture by Iraqi security personnel. Is it time yet to ask for the medal back?

And lest we imagine things have gotten much better under Obama, the continued imprisonment of child soldier Omar Ahmed Khadr and the routine use of attack drones outside war zones with the attendant civilian casualties are both clear violations of the laws of war - and these are only the examples we know about.

Indeed, a huge share of the actions detailed by the Iraq war logs are clear violations of the laws of war, which the US is obligated by international treaty, its own constitution and customary international law to uphold (and when breached, to prosecute). That a Democratic administration, which in good measure owes its existence to Obama's early opposition to the Iraq invasion, is not merely avoiding these issues, but actively working to suppress any attempts to address them, illustrates how entrenched amorality and criminality have become within the US politico-military system.

But however disturbing, all these revelations largely confirm what anyone who has bothered to pay attention to the last eight years of invasion and occupation in Iraq already new, albeit in less detail. Indeed, throughout the worst years of the occupation, from 2004 to 2008, the US military was in routine violation of at least a dozen articles of the Geneva Conventions. And it was precisely this disrespect for these foundational international treaties that created the situation revealed in all their gory detail in the latest Wikileaks release.

Here I would like to take issue with Robert Grenier's otherwise thoughtful critique, Wikileaks: An Inside Perspective, when he downplays the significance of revelations the US turned its eyes away from Iraqi torture of prisoners by declaring that for the US to have intervened more forcefully would have been to "behave like colonialists".

In fact, as the legal occupier of Iraq, the US and coalition forces were obligated under international law to do everything possible to stop abuses, and not to turn over control of prisoners if there was evidence that they would be mistreated. It was in ignoring this obligation that the US reduced itself to the level of a typical occupying army.

Furthermore, it was very much "the fault of the Americans" that the entire situation described in the war logs was created in the first place, through its commission of the ultimate "crime against peace" - as the Nuremberg Principles adopted by the UN Charter describe it - in its unlawful invasion of Iraq.

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