Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Anthropologists however have been involved in some heinous practices, notably in Nazi Germany. Gretchen Schafft [Anthropology Newsletter Jan, 1999, and elsewhere] has written about what anthropologist were doing under the Third Reich. They developed a "racial science" on the basis of which they were sorting individuals into types: "racially pure", "racially acceptable," "racially unacceptable," and "life unworthy of life." On the basis of these categories the government determined the lives and destinies of individuals.
The original context of this tradition was the eugenics movement, which supposed that racial stock was the basis of social progress. In fact, the Rockefeller Foundation had been funding the study of "German race" in the 1930s. In 1934 the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, with Rockefeller money, was giving a year long course to SS doctors on "racial biology".
The author of "The Interrogation Diaries" supposes that anthropologists can say something to the practice of torture in our time. I would hope so. But whatever the discipline has to say, I think we as individuals, as human beings, need to be ready to renounce the pretentious of scholars who claim to have reasonable grounds for torture. Torture is a moral issue, and without regard to the pretentions of science, it should be renounced and condemned.
It is a shame and embarrassment that an administration that claims to have a commitment to religious ideals would ever hold an ambiguous position on torture.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Michael Slackman, in the NYTimes [“
. . . Unlike in the
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Independent (UK)
"Bombs, mortars and gunfire left dozens dead and injured in Iraq within hours of insurgents announcing a Ramadan offensive. The attacks, three of them in Baghdad, came just days after US General David Petraeus's report said violence had fallen and President George Bush declared 'ordinary life was returning to the country'."
"Iraqi police said nine were killed and 12 injured in shootings at Mansour, one of the busiest parts of Baghdad ... Those shootings followed a car bomb outside a store on a street crowded with shoppers, killing three and wounding seven. Soon after, a mortar landed at the Shaab stadium near the city centre, killing two men ... a booby-trapped bicycle exploded outside a café "
"Meanwhile, the US military captured Fallah Khalifa Hiyas Fayyas al-Jumayli, a suspect in the assassination of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, a key US ally, in Anbar province last Thursday. The Islamic State of Iraq group threatened to hunt down any other tribal leaders co-operating with the US. It said it had formed "special security committees to trace and assassinate prominent [leaders] of agent tribes" who co-operated with the Americans."
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The other curious thing about these murders is that they seem to have garnered little interest in the
Friday, September 14, 2007
Despite the abuses of human rights by the Saudi regime and the evident support of some of them for Al Qaeda, the American government continues to support the regime, deliberately overlooking what is actually taking place. The Wahhabis of course are not overlooking the Saudi family's growing connections with Western interests.
AbuKhalil wonders how long this situation can continue. His message is similar, then, to Robert Baer’s Sleeping with the Devil. The close intermesh of interests among the wealthy of Saudi Arabia and the wealthy elites of the West have expanded the contradictions implicit in Saudi Arabia so as as to implicate the elites of the West, whose interests cannot be extracted from the interests of the Gulf. At the same time the Wahhabis within Saudi Arabia who continue to support Al Qaeda are linked into the same Saudi families who are being drawn toward cultural practices like those of the Western elites. The Saudi families thus constitute a nexus of relations connecting in both directions, creating an embarrassing relation between the elites of the West and the eminent authorities, motivators and funders of Al Qaeda.
The Saudis embody the contradictions of the Middle East and
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
[AUGUST 3, 2007 (Los Angeles, CA) — Jeffrey A. Stern, President and Publisher of Los Angeles-based Bonus Books, Inc., is speaking out about this week’s decision by Cambridge University Press to destroy all unsold copies of their 2006 book, “Alms for Jihad,” by American authors Robert Collins and J. Millard Burr, in response to a libel action brought against them in British courts by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim A. Bin Mahfouz. In just one of a series of heavy-handed libel suits against American and British journalists and publishers filed in British courts in recent years, Mahfouz claimed that “Alms for Jihad” wrongly implicates him as having had a significant role in aiding terrorism. // In a similar attempt to halt the distribution of such claims, libel tourist Bin Mahfouz also filed a libel action in British courts against Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, after Bonus Books published her 2003 book “FUNDING EVIL: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It.” Ehrenfeld, director of the
“I find it utterly appalling that any publisher—let alone one with the history and perceived credibility of Cambridge University Press—would allow themselves to be bullied into making such a decision,” Stern said. “Clearly they must have supported the material before they agreed to a publishing deal with (
“Alms for Jihad” authors Robert O. Collins, a professor emeritus of history at the
After several copies of the U.S.-released FUNDING EVIL happened to be purchased online by
Ehrenfeld, who is also a Member of the Board of Directors of the Committee on the Present Danger (www.fightingterror.org), told the Chronicle of Higher Education on Monday that she finds Cambridge University Press’ decision “despicable,” and that as she understands it, they “caved immediately.” If and when the
“We commend Rachel Ehrenfeld for being strong-willed on this issue,” Stern said. “Allowing this sort of ‘libel tourism’ to continue stands to negatively impact every writer and publisher and the
"Data released by the New York Federal Reserve shows that foreign central banks have cut their stash of US Treasuries by $48bn since late July, with falls of $32bn in the last two weeks alone."
"David Powell ... pointed the finger at Beijing as the main suspect in the sudden bond flight this summer."
"The scheme is part of the government's plan to diversify it $1,340bn reserves from bonds (mostly in the US) to a broader portfolio of investments and a better yield."
"If so, the switch comes at a very delicate time, just as tempers flair on both sides of the Pacific over China's policy of holding down yuan by currency intervention. A bill in Congress calls for punitive tariff sanctions of 27.5pc against Chinese imports, and there has been a growing outcry over contaminated pet food and lead-tainted toys."
"Two top advisers to the Chinese government gave strong hints in August that Beijing should use its estimated $900bn holdings of US Treasuries and agency bonds as a 'bargaining chip', words taken as an implicit threat to trigger as US bond crash if provoked."
American Economy: R.I.P.
by Paul Craig Roberts
"The US economy continues its slow death before our eyes"
"In August jobs in goods-producing industries declined by 64,000. The US economy lost 4,000 jobs overall. The private sector created a mere 24,000 jobs, all of which could be attributed to the 24,100 new jobs for waitresses and bartenders, and the government sector lost 28,000 jobs."
"In the 21st century the US economy has ceased to create jobs in export industries and in industries that compete with imports. US job growth has been confined to domestic services"
"The lack of job growth in higher productivity, higher paid occupations associated with the American middle and upper middle classes will eventually kill the US consumer market."
"The unemployment rate held steady, but that is because 340,000 Americans unable to find jobs dropped out of the labor force in August. The US measures unemployment only among the active work force, which includes those seeking jobs. Those who are discouraged and have given up are not counted as unemployed."
"When US companies offshore their production for US markets ... foreign labor is substituted for US labor, resulting in a shriveling of career opportunities ... US Gross Domestic Product is turned into imports ... Simultaneously, imports rise by the amount of offshored production, and the supply of exportable manufactured goods declines by the same amount."
"The US now has a trade deficit with every part of the world"
"What is striking about US dependency on imports is that it is practically across the board. Americans are dependent on imports of foreign foods, feeds, and beverages in the amount of $8,975,000,000."
" Americans are 3.4 times more dependent on imports of manufactured consumer durable and nondurable goods than they are on OPEC. Americans no longer can produce their own clothes, shoes, or household appliances"
"Americans are consuming $800 billion more than they are producing"
"They pay for it by giving up ownership of existing assets ... America used to be a creditor nation. Now America is a debtor nation ... When foreigners acquire ownership of US assets, they also acquire ownership of the future income streams that the assets produce. More income shifts away from Americans."
"The ability of a population, severely impacted by the loss of good jobs to foreigners as a result of offshoring and H-1B work visas and by the bursting of the housing bubble, to continue to accumulate more personal debt is limited to say the least."
" The ability of the US dollar to retain its reserve currency status is eroding due to the continuous increases in US budget and trade deficits."
"Hubris prevents realization that Americans are losing their economic future along with their civil liberties and are on the verge of enserfment"
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
In a world in which American policies have been a series of blunders, one upon another, when now one more General is telling us that we are doing well in Iraq – again “the enemy” is on its last throes -- on a day when we remember tragic events that awakened the world to a new and threatening situation, let us consider some simple statistics.
Here are some population figures on the key states in Central Asia, a region of strategic importance to not only Americans but also the rest of the world because of the vital resources there (oil, gas, and the other vital product of the region, heroin).
So, roughly half the folks growing up in these countries are under the age of 21. They will grow up and form their understandings of the world in circumstances of repression (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan), civil war (Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan), internal tensions over governance (Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), rising claims of Islamism (all over). What kind of world will they have to deal with as adults?
These numbers tell a tale that I scarcely want to think about. On the one hand I worry about a bumbling, truth-distorting, evidently incompetent administration managing the one dominant power in the world, an administration
And here is another statistic worthy of concern, not unrelated to the above: In Pakistan there are 200,000 graduates of degree granting institutions who cannot find work. And in the mean time, Islamist groups are providing “a salary, a mission and a purpose in life, the prospect in the long run of a better life and in death the joy of martyrdom” (H. Abbas 2005, Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism, p106). A young man arrested for his involvement in bombing plots in Pakistan had this to say about himself: “I was doing nothing, walking around, playing cricket and football,” adding in reference to a senior cleric: “The maulavi sahib talked to me and showed me a cassette, so I got involved. They were talking on the cassettes and telling us to do this and that, telling me to kill Americans. … I heard from the clerics there that if you fight jihad, you would go to paradise,” he said. "There are cassettes there and they say: 'There is jihad against non-Muslims.' ” (NYTimes C. Gall Feb 15, 2006)
Today we are faced with promises made by officials in power; at the same time the world has properties that exist no matter what we try to tell ourselves. Granted, we don't exactly know what they are, and will never know all the forces at work on our society.
But I wonder, not only what could be in store for those young people growing up all across
Sunday, September 09, 2007
"Fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq is the last big argument for keeping U.S. troops in the country. But the military's estimation of the threat is alarmingly wrong."
"In March 2007, a pair of truck bombs tore through the Shiite marketplace in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, killing more than 150 people ... U.S. Army General David Petraeus publicly blamed [al-Qaeda in Iraq]"
"Yet there's reason to doubt that AQI had any role in the bombing. In the weeks before the attack, sectarian tensions had been simmering [after a report that a Sunni woman had been gang raped by Shiite Iraqi army soldiers] ... multiple insurgent groups called for violence"
"This scenario has become common. After a strike, the military rushes to point the finger at al-Qaeda".
"[A]l-Qaeda's presumed role in leading the violence ... may also be overstated."
"[I]nstability on the ground stems from multiple sources ... [such as] Shiite militants, often connected to, or even part of, the Iraqi government ... opportunistic criminal gangs ... homegrown Iraqi Sunni religious groups."
"Malcolm Nance ... a twenty-year intelligence veteran and Arabic speaker who has worked with military and intelligence units tracking al-Qaeda inside Iraq ... believes AQI includes about 850 full-time fighters, comprising 2 percent to 5 percent of the Sunni insurgency."
"So how did the military come up with an estimate of 15 percent?"
"When the White House singles out al-Qaeda in Iraq for special attention, the bureaucracy responds by creating procedures that hunt down more evidence of the organization."
"With disproportionate resources dedicated to tracking AQI, the search has become a self-reinforcing loop."
"This is not to say that al-Qaeda in Iraq doesn't pose a real danger ... Today multiple Iraqi insurgent groups target U.S. forces, with the aim of driving out the occupation. But once our troops withdraw, most Sunni resistance fighters will have no impetus to launch strikes on American soil."
Click on the title for the whole article.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Those files are secured in a multitude of ways: how could they just go "missing"? This “disappearance” had to have been done by someone in the employ of the White House, someone with many levels of clearance. So, an employee of the US government somehow “lost” or destroyed five million emails?
It is unthinkable that a government employee would have done such an act without authorization. There had to have been levels of responsibility in this action – not only whoever did it but whoever authorized it, and whoever ordered it. Can we imagine anyone doing such a thing without authorization from the highest echelons of government? There had to have been at least several individuals aware that government emails, contrary to law, were going "missing".
This is a disgrace. And to my amazement scarcely anyone seems to have noticed.
i have been reading through some of your older articles (i'd fallen behind), and i saw your article from 27 August about Anna Politkovskaya. Like you said, there are many other journalists in danger. Our vet's son was killed in Almaty in 1997, ostensibly in a bungled robbery, of course. i had forgotten about him until just a few days ago... it brings home the danger journalists face across the globe.http://www.internews.org/articles/1990s/19970118_washpost_gehring.shtm
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Archive Sues to Recover 5 Million Missing White House E-mails
The National Security Archive
"The National Security Archive today sued the White House seeking the recovery and preservation of more than 5 million White House e-mail messages that were apparently deleted from White House computers between March 2003 and October 2005."
"White House officials ... have acknowledged ... that e-mail is missing from the White House archive, and that the [Executive Office of the President] in 2002 abandoned the electronic records management system put in place by the Clinton White House."
"Whistleblowers ... have alleged that more than 5 million e-mail messages are missing from the White House servers. 'The Bush White House broke the law and erased our history by deleting those e-mail messages,' said National Security Archive director Tom Blanton. 'The period of the missing email starts with the invasion of Iraq and runs through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.' "
Click on the title for the whole article
He notes that it is hard for folks in Afghanistan to get access to materials written about that country, and of course he is right. This is why I have tried to put as much material of my own on the web. The easiest way to get access to them is to go to my “home” page [http://artsci.wustl.edu/~canfrobt/home.html] where there are links to my publications and recent writings, some of which are not yet published. I have put most of these works on the web specifically for anyone in Afghanistan who might want to see them.
He also says that some of his Afghan friends are surprised that any non-Hazara would be writing about the Hazaras. They claim to know Mousavi’s work but clearly have not read it, as Mousavi gives a lot of attention to the work of many others who have written on the Hazaras. “C” cites many works that anyone interested in Afghanistan would want to see. To his list I have a few additions.
• Two short articles by me on the Hazaras have just been published this summer: “Recollections of a Hazara wedding in the 1930s” and “Trouble in Birgilich” [In: Jeff Sahadeo and Russell Zanca (eds), Everyday Life in Central Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University].
• The most important monograph on the Hazaras to have been published in many years is Alessandro Monsutti, War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan, Middle East Studies: History, Politics, and Law, translated by Patrick Camiller (New York / London : Routledge, 2005). My adulatory review will soon appear in Iranian Studies.
• Another important work – embellished with many fine pictures and maps -- that gives a lot of attention to Hazaras has just been published, Klaus Ferdinand, Afghan Nomads: Caravans, Conflicts and Trade in Afghanistan and British India 1800-1980. The Carlsberg Foundation’s Nomad Research Project, vol. 11. Rhodos, 2006. Ferdinand has published studies on the Hazaras that are now classic, and much of that material is reproduced or updated here; his death before the book could be published deprives us of one of the great authorities on Afghanistan. Of course the main preoccupation of the book is Pushtun nomads, a topic on which Ferdinand and other Danish anthropologists have made major contributions for years. My appreciative review will appear in Journal of Asian Studies.
• For those who are interested, another work directly bearing on Afghanistan soon to appear is edited by Robert Crews and Amin Tarzi, entitled The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan (Harvard University Press) http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/CRETAL.html ; my contribution to it is called “Fraternity, power, and time in Central Asia.”
Also, several of us have a book on Central Asia under review that has a number of articles on Afghanistan.
A late addendum to this post, added a few days later:
I should have included the work of Harpviken in the above list. This is one of the most valuable recent contribution to Hazara studies:
Kristian Berg Harpviken, "Political Mobilization among the Hazara of Afghanistan: 1978-1992," (Oslo:Institutt for Sosiologi, Universistetet i Oslo (M.A. Thesis, 1986).
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
New York Times
"A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President Bush was told in advance by his [L. Paul Bremer] in May 2003 of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures,” a plan that ... referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army."
"Mr. Bremer provided the letters to The New York Times on Monday after reading that Mr. Bush was quoted in a new book [Dead Certain] as saying that American policy had been 'to keep the army intact' but that it 'didn’t happen.' "
"The dismantling of the Iraqi Army ... stoked rebellion among hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce sectarian bloodshed ... In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush’s comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House."
Click on the title for the whole article
Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush
Robert Draper, a former senior editor for the Texas Monthly, has authored a new book on the Bush presidency, entitled "Dead Certain." In addition to six interviews with the President, Draper also interviewed outgoing White House adviser Karl Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney, Laura Bush, and many senior White House and administration officials. Bush tells Draper that his Iraq strategy is to "get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence," and, he said later, "stay longer." Some other highlights from the book: Rove told Bush he should not tap Cheney for Vice President; Bush hopes to make a lot of cash delivering speeches after his presidency is over; Bush "can't remember" one of the biggest mistakes in post-war Iraq; the White House staff, including Dan Bartlett and Rove, were "constantly at war" with one another; and Bush cries a lot.
If there is one thing that we can count on our president for, its lying. I'm very angry by what I've read here. But shocked? No I am sorry to say that I am not surprised at all. Keep up the good work Bob and Tom, I for one am grateful!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, and Matt Corley
Center for American Progress Action Fund
"With its report due to Congress in just one week, the Bush administration has used the month of August to mobilize its ... allies to spin the facts on the ground and create a false impression of progress in Iraq. The administration has watered down ... reports that undercut ... claims of ... progress. It has also arranged highly-orchestrated congressional delegation trips for conservative lawmakers who come back heralding President Bush's policies, even though they never leave the Green Zone and are often on the ground for less than a day. With all these attempts to create the appearance of success, it's no surprise that the administration plans to use Gen. David Petraeus's testimony before Congress next week to claim that escalation is working. As the Center for American Progress has argued ... Iraq is currently engaged in multiple internal conflicts that American military power cannot resolve."
Click on the title for the whole article
• American military killed in Iraq in August, 85 (up from 36 in the same month in 2003);
• Iraq civilians killed in the same month, 2,500;
• civilians “newly displaced” in August, 80,000. [NYTimes 9/4/07].
Whatever the rhetoric will be, the numbers tell a tragic story.
And if we want similarly empirical indications of how it’s going in Afghanistan and Pakistan, consider these conditions:
• several hundred Pakistani troops are now being held hostage (kidnapped) by pro-Taliban tribesmen in Pakistan’s tribal areas;
• and just today [9/4/07] two different bomb blasts in the garrison city of Rawalpindi (“a military zone”) have killed more than two dozen people. Click on the title for this article.
Not only are the political figures creating an unsettled situation in Pakistan, the military – always before the one stable and stabilizing institution in the country -- seems unready and unprepared for an insurgency posed against it from within. The military have been so focused on India and the dispute over Kashmir that they have failed to notice that the Islamists in the tribal areas whom they have cultivated as cannon fodder for war with India have turned against them. They have not minded that the Islamists were attacking folks inside Afghanistan, but now they are attacking folks in Pakistan – not only civilians but the military itself in its own territory.
Prof. Canfield - Do you think that this could represent a real break in the alliance between the Army as an institutional power and the jihadis in the FATA, even in Kashmir?
Also, to what degree do you think the Pashtun officer corps in the Pakistani Army is politicized and Islamicized? For instance, would a sustained offensive in the FATA by the Pakistani Army be viewed as an ethnic affront by Pashtun officers? I have read in Jamestown that Pashtuns constitute "between 15-22% among officers and between 20-25% among the regular rank-and-file". What is your sense on this issue?
Jamestown article: http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370188
Response to Tequila:
As to the second question, I think there is no doubt that the offensive in the tribal areas did create a crisis for many in the military -- certainly it did for the Pushtuns in the army, who are well represented in the army, as the Jamestown aritlce by Abbass indicates. We can only feel for how horrible it must be to be asked to turn your weapons against your own relatives and friends.
As to the first question, it seems evident that there are many worrisome fissures in Pakistan society now. The army and the Islamists fought in the Red mosque, Islamabad, and the break seems all the more evident in the recent attack in Rawalpindi.
Thanks for your comment.