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نوروز امسال: نیک پرس
نوروز امسال: نیک پرس
نیک پرس، با افتخار، امیدوار وآرزومند است که فرارسیدن فروردین و نوروز، این فراشگرد فروزندهٔ فرهنگ ایرانی، بر همهٔ شهروندان شیدا و شیفتهٔ سر زمین کهن و زرخیز و زرفام، ایران زمین، خجسته و فرخنده باشد!
امید است که نوروز امسال شروع دیگری باشد که ایرانیان در سراسر گیتی، با فراست وفرزانگی و فرهیختگی پیروزمندانه، بسان پارتیزانهای پیشرو و پیشاهنگ، پژواک گر و مشعل دار مدنیت ملی، بر فرازستان بشریت باشند تا با اتخاذ گروش به راه و روش اعتقاد و اعتماد به مقاومت مداوم و مقتدرانهٔ خویش در جهت همبستگی، همگرایی وهمبودگی، هم سویی وهم گونی ملی و وارستگی سیاسی ـ اقتصادی، آلبته با اهداف دست یازیدن به قلعهٔ ایده آل های ایرانی، بتوانند چون گذشتهٔ دورتر، اما اکنون بیشتر،
نقشه های ابلیسانه و اهریمنانهٔ جانیان جهانی، یعنی یاغی های اروپايئ و یانگی ها ی آمریکایی را که با سلاح و سخن تهدید وتحریم، تخریب وترور، تزویر و ترفند، با آمیزه ای آغشته و آمیخته به دروغ و دیو دروج، و با تکیه بر مدد مزدوران وموریدان مرتد و مکار، چون دوزخیان دون پایهٔ ایرانی نما، که با دژآهنگی و کژآهنگی سیاسی وبا سپر سرسپردگی، جاسوسی و سالوسی به همراه چاکری و چابلوسی، در تلاشند تا سرعت سمند تکامل وتداوم تمدن ایران را سترون سازند را با سرسختی سرآفرازانه وسرورمنشانه با عقل و عاطفه و علاقهٔ ملی ـ میهنی، سد نمایند!
فروردین 93 .سوئد: نیک پاکپو
ریشهٔ، سعودی ـ سلفی، تروریسم!
ریشهٔ، سعودی ـ سلفی، تروریسم
گوینده : نیک پاکپور”NICK PAKPOOR”
گوینده چون گذ شته سعی می کند که تلاش تحلیلی وتشخیصی و تحقیقی خود را، براساس واقعیت های عینی و پر پایه پویش و پژوهش پروسه های تاریخی وتکوینی،تطوری استوار ساخته، تا از داوری عجولانه و غیر عادلانه، پرهیز نماید! تا بدین وسیله توانسته باشم مرزهای مخدوش شده، مغشوش شده، بین طلب کاران وتهبه کاران، تهدید گران، تخریب گران وتجاوزگران، قصابان وغارتگران سیاسی را با مشعل دارن معتقد مقاومت مداوم ومحکم، ملی گرایان ومختارگران مقتدر ومتمدن جهان را که حاضر نیستند، سروری مشتی جلاد جانی، جهادی را، با سر خم کنی پذیرا شوند، را بطور صحیح وصرافانه از همدیگر متمایز، سازم. امید است که منشاء تفکر زنده وزاینده در جهت بیداری، بصیرندگی وبسیجندگی همگانی باشد، یا شاید، کوششی باشد که سیاست را از سطح عامیانه وعوام پسندانه وناآگاهانه به سطح آگاهانه وهوشیارانه وآکادمیک شناسانه، ارتقاء داده باشم ! برای تحقیق وتشخیص تکوینی وتاریخی، ریشه و رویش و افزایش، تروریسم جانی ،جهانی، می بیست عقربه زره بین سنج زمان را به سال های قبل وبعد از جنگ جهانی اول ، عقب گرد داد، یعنی زمانی که امپراتوری تشنه تسلط وتصرف، تاراج وتجاوز بریتانیا با دستپاچکی و desperateکوشش می کند که بر تسلط عثمانی بر مناطق عرب نشین و بادیه نشین یا bedouin ، خاورمیانه به خاطر دست یازیدن به Titanic نفتی، پایان دهد. لذا در سال 1917 میلادی، امپراتوری بریتانیا موفق می شود که Ibn Saud را که بصورت کلان های conjugal به همراه انواع واقسام تشکل هی tribalism - traditional فامیلی، قبیله ای، بدوی،بیابانی زندگی می کردند را به client و colonial خود بدل کند. نیک پاکپور
یاداشت ها: Notes 1-How do you spell ”Terrorist” C I A By William Engdahl 2-Saudi Arabia and CIA Behind Terror Bombings in Southern Russia? By Bill Van Auken 3-Who is behind Syria’s “Opposition Rebels”? Mother Agnes Mariam versus the US Media By Rob Prince 4-Global Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: Bandar’s Terror Network By Prof. James Petras 5-World Renowned Peace Activist Collaborated with Stratfor and CIA By Steve Horn and Carl Gibson 6-Volgograd and the Conquest of Eurasia: Has the House of Saud seen its Stalingrad? By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya 7-Saudi digging own grave with its Middle East policies PressTV 8-Bibi and Bandar Badger Obama by FRANKLIN LAMB 9-Rothschild’s Saudi Lapdog Armed Syrian and Libyan Rebels by Dean Henderson 10-On Western Terrorism from Hiroshima to Drone warfare By Noam Chomsky and Andre Vltchek
توافق یا تطابق ایران با امریکا؟
توافق یا تطابق ایران با امریکا؟
به باور گوینده الیت سیاسی و نظامی ایران که در سه دهه گذ شته با ایستادگی اوستادانه در دفاع از وارستگی ملی، شطرنج سیاسی را شرافتدمندانه و سرافرازانه،بازی کرده است اجازه چینین کاری را به یاغی های غربی و یانگی های امریکایی نخواهد داد تا بساط شبه شوم وابستگی را دوباره در کشور زرفام و زرخیز زروان و زرتشت بگستراند. فراست ، فرزانگی و فریختیگی ایرانیان از فراشگرد فردایی حکایت و روایت می کند که نمازگذارانش بامهراب خون شهیدان به سجده وسپاس چون سپا با همگرای وهم صداءی و همراهی در همبستگی وهمبودگی، سرافرازانه و هو شیارانه به رژه ایستاده اند
Video: US troops put boots on Polish ground as Ukraine crisis spirals
Published on Apr 24, 2014
The first wave of US troops has arrived in Poland to begin military drills "promoting peace and stability" across Eastern Europe. Tensions continue to mount in the region, as Ukraine teeters on the brink of a civil war
WAR in Slavyansk
Video: Ukrainian troops APCs, choppers amid burning checkpoint in Slavyansk
Published on Apr 24, 2014
NOTE: Video partly muted
Fighting erupted again just outside Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine. Kiev restarted anti-terrorism operation leaving a checkpoint in ruin. Ukrainian troops take photos alongside APCs as Choppers fly overhead.
Who wins the battle
Russia or US: Who wins the battle over Ukraine?
by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor, … with Press TV, Tehran
The following video of Press TV’s In Focus program is an excellent review of the Crimean turnover with lots of local input. This kind of coverage was censored out of Western reporting that seemed to have been been tasked to find evidence of suppression and invasion, which they did not find.
Despite that, Western leaders and NeoCon media continued to pitch the invasion line, and strangely even continued it past the 96.7 devastating vote with an 84% turnout.
In the face of total rejection by the people of what the West was telling them was happening to them, the West just stuck with the old saying, “If you tell a lie enough times it will become the truth to all who heard it.” This is the sad state of affairs for our Western media, and by consequence…ourselves.
As Crimean-like dissent is raging on in eastern Ukraine, experts believe the crisis is a new cold war between the US and Russia wondering who will win this battlefield.
Professor Yuri Katunin from Taurida National University says “this is definitely a conflict between America and Russia.” And on the outcome of this conflict, he adds, “I think it is too early to say who will win.”
Also on the rising conflict between the two super-powers, Jim W. Dean managing editor of Veterans Today believes “the US wanted its missile shield moved closer to Russia, an obvious aggressive move which Russia had done nothing to encourage,” adding, “There will be ‘far reaching consequences’ as Mr. Rasmussen has said… but for the real planners and perpetrators of the Western aggression on Ukraine.”
Political crisis erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia. Following Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia.
Pro-Russia rallies gained momentum in Ukraine after Crimea declared independence from the former Soviet state and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum.
On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law documents that officially made the Black Sea peninsula part of the Russian territory despite condemnation from the West and the new Ukrainian government.
The move sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.
Turkish Role in Syria Ch
Democracy Now! U.S. and World News Headlines for Monday, April 7
Published on Apr 7, 2014
Visit http://www.democracynow.org to watch the entire independent, global news hour. This is a summary of news headlines from the United States and around the world as reported by Democracy Now! on Monday, April 7, 2014. Visit our website to read the complete transcript, search the vast news archive, or to make a donation to support our non-profit news program
Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
Madawi Al-Rasheed: Saudi Arabia helped create a network of terrorism to achieve political aims, and while it does come back to bite them at times, they promote a similar ideology and continue to these alliances - April 3, 14
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay.
We're continuing our discussion about U.S.-Saudi relations, and we're going to dig in in this segment into the Saudi relationship with al-Qaeda type forces, extreme Islamists.
And now joining us again from London is Madawi Al-Rasheed. She's a visiting professor at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her recent publications include A History of Saudi Arabia and A Most Masculine State.
Thanks for joining us again, Madawi.
MADAWI AL-RASHEED, MIDDLE EAST CENTRE, LSE: Thank you.
JAY: So I mentioned in an earlier segment that the joint congressional committee investigating 9/11 had found that the Saudi government was responsible for financing and facilitating the 9/11 attacks. And I interviewed Senator Bob Graham, who was cochair of that congressional investigating committee, and I asked him why he thought the Saudis had done this, and his answer was that bin Laden had told the Saudi king or the Saudi royal regime that he had 10,000 fighters that he could send to Saudi Arabia to try to develop an uprising against the Saudi royal family if they didn't help him launch these attacks. I don't know if Bob knows that for sure or not, Bob Graham, I don't know whether it's true or not true in terms of their motivation, but it is a kind of reflection of this very complicated relationship, where on the one hand, bin Laden's force, you know, when he was alive, certainly seemed to make the Saudi regime his main enemy, other than perhaps Shia. He talked about the way the Saudis' royal family had sold out to the Americans and such. On the other hand, there's all kinds of evidence that the Saudis have worked with these forces in Afghanistan and in many other places. So what is the nature of this relationship?
AL-RASHEED: It is a very complex relationship. To begin with, Saudi Arabia wanted to use Islamism in its fight against any external threat that may have an internal impact. I'll give you one example. In the 1950s and '60s, Saudi Arabia saw the threat to its regime coming from the leftist movement in the Arab world, and also from Arab nationalism, and it used Islamism as a counter-force to actually destroy these two movements. And therefore it sponsored Islamic education, it sponsored Islamic opinions that depict these movements as atheism. And also, during the Cold War, it enlisted its ideology on behalf of the West in order to fight battles elsewhere, such as, for example, in Afghanistan. And therefore the Saudi-Wahhabi dimension of all this al-Qaeda is extremely important, although the Saudi regime tries to distance itself from this kind of radicalism.
JAY: I think it's important to note that Eisenhower is quoted as saying that we will use--we being the United States--use the Saudis and their role in defending Mecca to help promote Wahhabism and the Saudi power to fight Nasserism, nationalism, and socialism. I may not have the quote exact, but I'm pretty close. And, of course, we know how much the CIA worked directly with the Saudis in Afghanistan. In fact, bin Laden gets to Afghanistan in a deal between the Saudis and the Americans.
AL-RASHEED: Yes, absolutely. This was part of the Cold War strategy, and Saudi Arabia deployed its ideology and support, and also funds, in order to fight wars elsewhere.
But the problem for Saudi Arabia is when this ideology came back to haunt the country itself. But it is almost like having a battle with your own ideology. And therefore it's very difficult for the Saudis to get rid of this kind of menace. And they haven't learned lessons from 9/11.
So if you look at what is going on in Syria now, they have--the Saudis have created armed rebels who are actually almost working on behalf of the Saudis in Syria, so that the Syrian revolution was derailed and lost its democratic slogans, and now it's--became a sectarian war between different groups, Shia and the Sunnis. And with Saudi intervention, we find that the rebels who were promoted were called the Islamic Front. And we have seen how this was unfolding in Syria.
Until recently, Saudi Arabia allowed its own young men to travel to Syria, or if it didn't allow them, it kept a blind eye. And only recently, just a week before Obama's visit, Saudi Arabia introduced this new antiterrorism law which says that anybody who goes to Syria and come back will face 20 years in prison.
An interesting thing is, yes, we may keep a blind eye on those people going, but we're going to arrest them when they come back. But there was no effort that was obvious to me that they will make sure they will not go there to fight--.
JAY: Well, it may be that they're going to make them stay there and fight, with a law like that.
AL-RASHEED: I think the best thing that Saudi regime can hope for is for them to go and die there.
JAY: That's sort of what I was saying.
There seems to have been a change from the days when the Saudis seemed to be very concerned about attacks on their regime in Saudi Arabia from al-Qaeda forces. There seems to have been a kind of accommodation in some way that now, in fact, it seems that the al-Qaeda type forces are almost, like, part of the way the Saudis wage asymmetrical warfare and use them in leverage. I mean, the most obvious place is in Syria, but you see it in Iraq. But then you see these threats--you know, I talked about 9/11, but we know about Bandar's threat, Prince Bandar's threat to Tony Blair when there was an inquiry into the bribery scandal based on Saudis buying several billion dollars of weapons, and apparently Bandar got a billion-dollar bribe, and Bandar says to Blair, you'd better stop this inquiry or I can't promise there won't be another 7/7 (when the buses blew up in London). And more recently, apparently, Bandar threatened Putin and said, you know, we control the Chechen terrorists. It seems like it's a lever of power in their hands.
AL-RASHEED: Yes, absolutely. And we have seen since 2008 there were no terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. They managed to push al-Qaeda to Yemen, basically. They haven't destroyed it. They haven't, you know, removed it. They simply had forced it to migrate to Yemen. And a lot of Saudis have left Saudi Arabia to go there.
But the interesting thing is it has been used as a sort of a pressure on foreign governments, meaning that, you know, you do as we want you to do or we will not cooperate with you in terms of intelligence cooperation, or we would actually--you know, they wouldn't put it so directly, but, you know, it is a subtle hint that when the Serious Fraud Office in Britain wanted to open up the Al-Yamamah weapons deal and the corruption that was involved with BAE Systems, the Saudis immediately announced that if this serious fraud investigation goes ahead, they will cease to cooperate with Britain on intelligence, meaning that we will not be able to help you catch the terrorist, basically. And it is interesting that they may have had quite a close relationship, they know them so well, but they hold information about them that they're only going to release to those other intelligence services that cooperate with the Saudis, and also in governments that are supposedly friendly governments.
JAY: Right. And the Saudis--one of the intelligence agencies the Saudis cooperate a lot with is the Pakistani ISI, and the Pakistani ISI seems to play the same game: you know, collaborate to some extent with the West in antiterrorist operations; on the other hand, there's lots of evidence the ISI has all kinds of relationship with the Taliban and al-Qaeda type forces. In fact, journalists that have reported on this have been assassinated by the ISI, including one that worked with us.
AL-RASHEED: Yes. I mean, it is the al-Qaeda monster, it's the monster that was created at a particular historical moment and began to haunt all those contributing forces that made it happen and allowed it to flourish throughout the last three decades. And the Saudis had deployed the same strategy in Syria now, whereby individuals can go and join these rebels. They kept a blind eye for a long time. But then now, when international pressure is mounting, because they see how these rebels are really not an alternative to Bashar al-Assad, Saudis introduced this new terrorism law in order to deal with the situation. But whether it will actually work, I have my doubts.
JAY: And I guess the Americans have been so part of this policy of working with extreme Islamists that they can't say or don't want to say much about it.
AL-RASHEED: Yes. I mean, it is a well-known fact now. You know, the archives will be open and declassified information will be available, and future historians will probably write incredible books with concrete evidence. Now we get the information from leaked documents or from journalists who are actually in the field at the time and can report on us where the weapons to so-called rebels are coming from and who is sponsoring them.
JAY: Okay. In the next segment of our interview, we're going to discuss why Saudi Arabia considers Iran such a mortal enemy. Please join us with Madawi Al-Rasheed on The Real News Network.
Media 'staged' Syria
The Truthseeker: Media 'staged' Syria chem attack (E36)
Published on Mar 23, 2014
BBC 'total fabrication from beginning to end' of Syria 'atrocity'; call to revoke visas for intel agents posing as reporters in NATO targets; CIA caught infiltrating CNN, and Operation Mockingbird is back.
Seek truth from facts with UK Member of Parliament George Galloway; Illinois University Professor of International Law Francis Boyle; investigative reporter John Helmer; ordinary Syrians; and Ukraine covergirl 'Julia'.
'Schizophrenic US strategy
'Schizophrenic US strategy makes them bad peacemakers for Ukraine'
Published on Apr 18, 2014
More than seven hours of talks between Russia, Ukraine, US and EU diplomats have been unable to make a significant breakthrough - according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Resegregation of Schools
The Resegregation of American Schools
ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses her year-long investigation into how one of desegregation's success stories in Tuscaloosa, Alabama became one of the most segregated school systems in the country, as well as the high levels of segregation in northern schools 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education -
Nikole Hannah-Jones joined ProPublica in late 2011 and covers civil rights with a focus on segregation and discrimination in housing and schools. Her 2012 coverage of federal failures to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act won several awards, including Columbia University's Tobenkin Award for distinguished coverage of racial or religious discrimination.
Prior to coming to ProPublica, Hannah-Jones worked at The Oregonian and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. She has won the Society of Professional Journalists Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism Award three times and the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. She has also gone on reporting fellowships to Cuba and Barbados where she wrote about race and education.
TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
As Maryland is poised to become the next state to decriminalize marijuana, MD Delegate Keiffer Jackson Mitchell and LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin debate whether it can end the racial disparity in drug-related arrests - April 11, 14
Keiffer Jackson Mitchell is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for the 44th district in Baltimore City, and voted for the bill decriminalizing marijuana in the state of Maryland.
Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), is a 33-year police veteran who led multi-jurisdictional anti-narcotics task forces for the Maryland State Police and ran training for the Baltimore Police Department. After seeing several of his law enforcement friends killed in the line of fire while enforcing drug policies, Neill knew that he needed to work to change these laws that cause so much harm but do nothing to reduce drug use.
TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. LegalizationJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
This week, the Maryland Senate voted 34 to eight to decriminalize marijuana. It will soon be the law here in Maryland after Governor Martin O'Malley said he'll sign the bill, which would impose only civil fines, rather than criminal offenses, on those caught with less than ten grams of marijuana.
But what else is in the bill? There'll be fines for multiple offenses. A second violation would carry a $250 fine, and a third offense would have a $500 fine. Also, a violator who is younger than 21 would have to appear in court.
Maryland will be joining 24 other states that have either decriminalized marijuana or legalized it.
Now joining us in-studio to unpack how this will affect everyday citizens are our two guests.
Neill Franklin is the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, otherwise known as LEAP. He's worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years and witnessed the war on drugs firsthand.
Also joining us is Keiffer Jackson Mitchell. He's a member of the Maryland House of delegates for the 44th District in Baltimore City, and he voted for the bill decriminalizing marijuana in the state of Maryland.
Thank you both, gentlemen, for joining us.
KEIFFER J. MITCHELL, DELEGATE, MARYLAND HOUSE OF DELEGATES: Thank you.
NEILL FRANKLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEAP: Thanks for having me.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. So let's just jump right into this. Keiffer, I'm actually going to start off with you--actually, you know, let's first start off with Neill, because I know at the end of the day we all recognize that the war on drugs is not working. And we are seeing--I want to pull up this chart--how it affects disproportionately African Americans. So you can see in these two charts there's twice as many blacks going to jail as whites for marijuana possession despite usage levels being about the same.
Neill, I know that you're critical a bout the bill because you guys are pushing, really, for legalization. But isn't this a step in the right direction? Oh, absolutely it's as step in the right direction. Obviously, I would prefer to legalize it, tax and regulate.
And the reason I think it's better for us to keep looking forward to tax and regulate is because even though we're not going to be criminally charging people for possession of ten grams or less of marijuana, what happens when they can't afford the $100 fine? Okay? Certain people will be able to afford the fine, but our poor communities will not. Folks in our poorer communities will not. And I believe it then becomes--a bench warrant may be issued, or if they don't show up in court, then we're back into the criminal realm. So in that sense it's still problematic.
And in decriminalization, as what this bill is about, still does nothing to get our marijuana dealers off of our street corners. Okay? It's still, you know, thousands if not millions of dollars going into the hands of criminal gangs and organizations, and ultimately ending up in the pockets of the cartel. And, again, marijuana across this country, really, around the globe, is roughly 60 percent of all the profits being made in the entire illicit drug trade. So, again, moving to a place of legalization, you know, tax, and regulation will bring that money away from criminal organizations, out of the pockets of criminal gangs, and into the pockets of our citizens and our state coffers.
DESVARIEUX: Keiffer, I wanted you to--get your response, address that first point that Neill made about us actually just getting back to where we started, people not being able to afford these fines.
MITCHELL: Right. Right. Well, we--you know, the bill, I think, is--it's a step in the right direction as it relates to criminal--in terms of the civil penalties. You know, you have the escalating fine of $100 to $250, and $500 on a third offense.
The fact remains that, you know, marijuana is still illegal in the state of Maryland. And to show that it is still illegal, you have these penalties. You know. I don't think if we had lowered the fine or anything like that, I don't think it would send much of a message that it is still a illegal narcotic in the state of Maryland and other states. So, you know, I think the $100 fine is right, and I actually think that the $250 and $500 fine is also right, with all due respect, a step in the right direction.
As--I always call him Colonel in everything, 'cause that was his title--as Colonel Franklin has said, that, you know, it's not going to get the drug dealers off the corners, things like that. But I always remind people from the study, Maryland spends about $106 million just on enforcing marijuana policy or arrest or prosecution. So you take that $106 million. Now you can start using that money to really go after the enforcement of the larger dealers. So I think that's a step in the right direction.
DESVARIEUX: Neill, I see you nodding your head, but--.
FRANKLIN: I'm nodding my head about the money that we're currently spending, you know, with criminalization. And, you know, the time and energy that our police department is wasting on this.
I might disagree a little bit with that, what--the savings going back into law enforcement, you know, to work on other, you know, drug dealers and whatever. I think, personally, I would like to see that money go to education and treatment and go into our school systems. And I know you won't mind [incompr.] maybe part of it can go there because he's a teacher, he's an educator. So I think that we need to continue to pull the police out of the drug-management business and put more of our resources into health and education.
And I think that the police should focus more, use the time that they're going to have now, to focus more on violent crime, to focus more on robberies and rapes and crimes against our children, domestic violence. We know we have a problem in Baltimore with both domestic violence investigations and rape investigations, and I think we could focus more on that.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. So--. Oh, sure. Please.
MITCHELL: Real quick, on the fine piece before we leave that, the $100, $250, and the $500. That money also is going to be going toward drug education and drug treatment. So, you know, that money is not just going into the general fund just to sit in the general fund, but it is supposed to go toward drug treatment.
DESVARIEUX: So we know where you two stand. But let's bring in the American public's opinion. So there was a recent New York Times-CBS poll that found that the majority of Americans actually support legalization. So, Keiffer, shouldn't the legislation that's put in place be reflective of that? Shouldn't we be pushing for legalization, then?
MITCHELL: Oh, I am one of the minority. I should be counted as a minority in that New York Times-CBS poll. I am not there yet as it relates to legalization. I still believe that marijuana is a gateway drug. I would like to see more studies about the legalization of marijuana.
So far, right now Colorado and Washington are legalized. I think it's still too early to find out what are not just the whole ramifications of that, but also, you know, what are the unintended consequences of legalization that they are seeing in Washington and Colorado, and also remind people that it wasn't their legislators that voted for it; it was a referendum by the public at the polls. So, you know, those are the things that took place as it relates to legalization.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. Neill, what's your take on that?
MITCHELL: Well, obviously, the polling that we're talking about continues to move in the direction of more support nationally from our citizens, more support for legalization. Every year, the percentages go up.
I think I have an advantage over most people in looking at this because I've been in law enforcement for a number of years, worked, you know, on the front lines of the war on drugs. But that's not where it ends. I've also been on [incompr.] I've also cochaired committees dealing with--from a health perspective, dealing with treatment and education in Harford County. I did that for a number of years. I've traveled around the country. I've traveled around the globe. I've got this--I've had the opportunity to literally see this from a mountaintop perspective, you know, looking down around the entire landscape on this drug-management issue. And so I see it differently.
I see that the current illicit marketplace is the gateway. It is the environment that is the gateway, not a particular substance or drug, but the environment that we have of drug dealers acting on our corners hiring kids to sell drugs, marijuana and other drugs, recruiting them from our schools, bringing them out onto the street corners, to sell drugs in schools to other children. We've created an environment with policies of prohibition that puts more drugs into the hands of our young people than any other scheme we could possibly imagine. This is the worst. And we realized that back during the times of alcohol prohibition. That's why alcohol prohibition only lasted 13 years instead of four decades.
DESVARIEUX: So you obviously don't agree with that, Keiffer.
MITCHELL: Well, like I say, it's still too soon. I mean, we're dealing with marijuana, but you also--.
And I agree that the war on drugs has not worked and the amount of resources we have. You know, there's no question about that. I also believe that the war on drugs has created this racial disparity in terms of who gets locked up and who doesn't and where the enforcement is taking place.
But on the other hand, I also believe that, you know, with marijuana, in terms of what I've read and what I've learned, is that marijuana is a gateway drug. And then where do we stop, in terms of the legalization? You know, you have heroin. [incompr.] a district in West Baltimore where I come into contact with heroin addicts all the time. You can just go a few blocks over here to Lexington Market, in that area, and look at the number of methadone clinics that are in that area and look at the number of people who are hanging around getting their methadone for the day but who are out there, who still want that hit or something like that.
I think there needs to be a combination: instead of just the enforcement, the educational piece, you start off young, you get into the schools.
We've lost--. I am a Democrat, alright? I'm a big-time Democrat. But, you know, when Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan were talking about the war on drugs, they started going into the schools, giving kids the education, and you had the "just say no" type campaign. I still believe that you have to get and spend your resources and time in the schools to get them while they're young.
And also there are some other programs that are put in place in terms of jobs. You know, kids I talk to who are dealing drugs and that sort of nature, you know, they want jobs. But they're not--if they can make a lot of money standing on a street corner instead of flipping burgers somewhere, they're going to look at taking care of their families and making that money. But you have to get them other resources out there for that.
DESVARIEUX: So, Keiffer, if I'm understanding you correctly, do you think legalization would just lead to just more usage and therefore--?
MITCHELL: That's what I--I believe it would lead to--I think it would send a wrong message, and I do believe that it will lead to more usage.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. Neill, do you have any--to counter that?
FRANKLIN: Well, we are really at the same place for the most part of this. Putting our resources into education and treatment first in front of law enforcement and criminalization, yeah, that's where we should be and that's where we're not at the moment.
The other side of that coin as it relates to those wonderful programs in our schools, you know, educating our kids, the other side of that coin is the family. You see, once the family unit is actually more effective in keeping kids away from using drugs and doing things that will harm them. There's more legal things out there that will harm our kids than those that are illegal.
But our policies of prohibition have destroyed, for instance, the black family, the mass incarceration and the disparity issues. You know, when you have so many--according to the NAACP, one in nine black children have a parent or parents in the criminal justice system. For white children it's one in 54. Okay?
Now, when you have families, when you send someone to prison, you send the entire family to prison. And we know when you send someone to prison they do not return to us a better person. For the most part, they're going to return to us and our communities in worse shape than what they were when they went in in how they treat people, because when you go in, you have 24 hours to decide whether you're going to be the prey or predator while you're in prison. Most people return to us as predators, because they are not correctional facilities. In addition to that, when they do return to us, very difficult to get a job because now they're strapped with a criminal record. Okay? That frustration, many of them can't even live with their families if their families are living in public housing, because they're a convicted drug felon. You know, that does nothing for our communities. That does nothing for the children who live in those households in working to keep them from using drugs or becoming involved in the drug trade.
I think it has to be some of both. I think it has to be, obviously, putting our money and resources into education and treatment. And then, on the other side of that coin, we have to eliminate the illicit trade. We have to take the money out of that business so people will feel comfortable working at and feel good about working at places like McDonald's and Walmart and some of the other places.
DESVARIEUX: And the way you take the money out is by legalizing it.
FRANKLIN: That's the only way to take the money out.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. Alright. Let's move on a little bit. And I want to get your take on just why do we not know enough about--. I want to speak specifically about legalization in Colorado, 'cause I know you were there, Keiffer. Can you just describe a little bit about what you witnessed? And I'll get your response to--.
MITCHELL: Last year, I was there for a conference, and I walked around downtown Denver in the tourist area. And I guess they call it LoDo. And the smell of marijuana was inescapable. You could smell it as a tourist. Now, I don't know if they've done anything to rectify that or to, you know, curb it, but it jumped out at you. You know, it is one thing when it's cigarette smoke. You know, people know what cigarette smoke is. But when I was out there in the tourist area, it was out there. I don't think they're allowed to smoke in restaurants or bars and cafes at all. But you--you know, I saw people smoking marijuana sitting on a bench at a bus stop or walking down a street smoking.
And, you know, I grew up in an area where I don't do drugs, don't do it, and it was out there, and it made for an unpleasant experience for me as a tourist walking around Denver.
And this past November of last year, the mayor of Denver was in Washington, D.C., and I talked to him and I told him about my experience, and he said that, you know, when the referendum came to light and it was implemented, there were some unintended consequences that kind of left holes along what local jurisdictions can do in terms of a time and place about marijuana and where they can smoke it, and then the dealing. They still have to work out the kinks.
So, in other words, what I thought that he was saying was that it kind of put the cart before the horse, so to speak, to say this is what we need to do. So I think locally there needs to be some things put in place to allow--you know, if they were going to smoke marijuana, but, you know, not all of us need to be around it.
DESVARIEUX: Yeah, these are some legitimate concerns. You have people who are saying, you know, if you legalize it, then, you know, these unintended consequences are going to be arising.
Neill, how do you deal with that?
FRANKLIN: And I agree. And that not only will change; it is changing there, because, first of all, this is something new. for most people. Okay? And, you know, a lot of that is just celebration. You know, oh, wow, we have the freedom to do what we want to do. But that is changing as the local jurisdictions put, you know, policies in place, you know, so the people will be writing people tickets. You're smoking on a park bench? Here's your $50 ticket or whatever that fine is going to be. But I think it goes even beyond that. It goes to the place of what we did with tobacco products.
So it's a social thing. You know, it's people--also people at the bus stop bench saying, you know, hey, put out the joint until you get home, okay? You know, I don't want to smell it. I understand, you know, it's legal now, but no. You know. And that's what we've done with tobacco products. You know, people actually feel like outcasts who smoke tobacco products today. And it will be the same socially. We will apply that pressure to people who are smoking marijuana so you won't have that environment. You know, like, today, when you go outside and you're out and about, I very seldom smell cigarette smoke. I can't remember the last time I had. This is new with marijuana, and it'll change, just like we've done with tobacco.
And, also, with tobacco what we've done over the past couple of decades, the most--one of the most, if not the most addictive drugs known to man, nicotine, reduced consumption by about 40 percent. We've sent no one to prison. We don't have any shoot-outs in our streets. And our kids aren't coming out of school to sell it on street corners, because it's regulated and controlled. But social pressure and regulations in place locally have reduced our tobacco consumption.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Neill Franklin, executive director of LEAP, and Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, thank you both for joining us.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: And, of course, you can follow us on Twitter @therealnews, and you can send me comments, questions @Jessica_Reports.
Thank you so much for joining us on The Real News Network.
"Currency" in Arms Trade
Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
Rwanda and Uganda agree to take African refugees as part of arms deal after Israel denied their asylum claims and imprisoned them
The latest development in the story of Israel's scandalous treatment of African Asylum seekers was revealed last week. After denying to even examine most of the refugees' asylum claims, deporting, and imprisoning those who stayed, Israeli authorities are now coercing them to sign on to so-called "voluntary" return as part of Israel's arms and trade deals with several sub-saharan African nations. The Real News' Lia Tarachansky speaks to activist Tamar Aviyah, attorney Assaf Vitzan, and S. an Eritrean refugee who made his way to Israel after years in Sudanese refugee camps, only to agree to "voluntarily" leave to Uganda to avoid Israel's massive desert prisons for asylum seekers.
Israel Uses Refugees as LIA TARACHANSKY, TRNN PRODUCER: The latest development in the story of Israel's scandalous treatment of African asylum-seekers was revealed last week. After denying to even examine most of the refugees' asylum claims, deporting and imprisoning those who stayed, Israeli authorities are now coercing them to sign on to so-called voluntary return as part of Israel's arms and trade deal with several African nations.
Assaf Vitzan is an Israeli lawyer who works with asylum-seekers, trying to prevent their indefinite imprisonment and deportation.
ASSAF VITZAN, ATTORNEY, HOTLINE FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Today we're talking about roughly 50,000, 90 percent of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan, mostly from Eritrea. Abroad, their asylum claims a recognized that about 80 percent; in Israel, zero percent or almost zero percent. No one's coming in anymore. An impressive fence was built along the southern border, and almost no new refugees are coming in. We're talking zero to 10 a month. Only a few months ago, the Supreme Court canceled the anti-infiltration law amendment, so the government simply passed an even worse law.
INTERVIEWER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): What legal avenues are open for refugees to fight for their rights in Israel?
VITZAN: Look, their asylum claims aren't even looked at, and when they are, they're refused. No Sudanese had their refugee status recognized. Two Eritreans out of 10,000 had their refugee status recognized. The situation is really terrible.
MUSA, REFUGEE FROM SUDAN: My name is Musa /kiso/. I come from Sudan, Darfur.
We want for Israeli government to cancel the new infiltration law. We wants the international government and the UN to stand with us and put pressure on the Israeli government to change its policies, because since we come here, the Israeli government is changing its policies towards the refugees community here in Israel by passing a new amendment in 10 December, where it is allowing to send 1000s of the refugees to detention center.
TARACHANSKY: Even the UN body responsible for refugees, which has proven to be politically impotent, took a stand. Before quitting his position as head of the UNHCR offices in Israel, William /təl/ finally agreed to speak out, saying, "As UN High Commissioner, we have access to the prison, and we heard what the state offered them. Agreement to return under an ultimatum of jail ... can't be considered voluntary by any criterion. It is explicitly not voluntary return."
Tamar Aviyah is a long-term activist who worked tirelessly with African refugees and was one of the few Israelis to help in the recent protest and strike against the government's policies.
TAMAR AVIYAH, ACTIVIST ASSISTING REFUGEES IN ISRAEL: One of the main tools that the government is using also to induce the panic within the community and to make life just impossible to survive is to close down refugee businesses. This is sometimes with and sometimes without any relation to the legality or validity of their visas.
The immigration police started making mass arrests on the street. This, you know, spread a lot of panic in the street. They were just making arbitrary arrest, no matter what kind of paper you had. And there were a lot of rumors going on.
The next week, the Ministry of Interior offices, where the asylum-seekers come to renew their temporary visa--this is usually 30-day visa, sometimes two months, sometimes three months--these offices started closing, stopped giving service, sometimes open, sometimes not open.
But the great success of the government strategy is massive voluntary return.
TARACHANSKY: According to UNHCR statistics, more than 80 percent of refugees remain in the region of the countries they flee. While the Israeli right wing portrays the refugees as a serious demographic threat, they make up less than 0.4 percent of the population under Israel's control. In a comparison, the city of London has five times the number of asylum seekers of Israel.
TARACHANSKY: Why is Israel against resettling these refugees to other countries if it wants to get rid of them?
AVIYAH: Well, Israel wants to get rid of refugees, but it doesn't want refugees to get a good solution, because then that would give African refugees an incentive to come to Israel as a stepping stone on the way to a European or Canadian or American country or any other country where their human rights would be respected as refugees.
TARACHANSKY: Because of the security situation in Eritrea and (north) Sudan, Israel cannot legally deport the refugees there. It's therefore encouraging them to leave on their own, either to Sudan or other African states. Speculations began this summer when, after a long campaign of persuasion, Israeli representatives tried to secure the destination, offering various sub-Saharan states arms and trade deals. Last week, it was finally revealed that the refugees are being sent to Rwanda and Uganda, and potentially also to Kenya.
PRESENTER, NTV KENYA (VOICEOVER): Uganda will also allow migrants to use its territory as a transit point to return to their home countries or go elsewhere. In return for the favor, Uganda has been promised to be furnished with an undisclosed sum of money and military equipment.
TARACHANSKY: This effort predates even the previous governments of current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2008, then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered to pay various African nations $1,000-$1,500 per refugee. The Israeli financial daily globes reported in tooth June 2008 that the decision was made to try and sell the refugees to African countries. Following the decision, the Foreign Ministry turned to every African nation with which Israel has diplomatic relations, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, the Ivory Coast, and Benin, and offered to pay for taking in the thousands of refugees who came to Israel.
While during Olmert's leadership the African states refused, Netanyahu made them a better offer. In 2009, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited several African states, including Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya, with an entourage of arms dealers. While no deal was signed on the trip, his deputy, Danny Ayalon, continued the visits. Then, in 2012, Netanyahu appointed a special envoy, former Mossad agent Hagai Hadas, who was a key negotiator in the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hadas made a number of undisclosed trips, this time offering $8,000 per refugee and a trade package including agricultural training, technology, and arms.
When the Israeli daily Haaretz succeeded in lifting a gag order on the deal in August last year, it was revealed that the country to which the government intends to ship the asylum-seekers was indeed Uganda. This week, Haaretz revealed some refugees are also finding themselves in Rwanda.
AVIYAH: They're a currency, one of many currencies in Israel's economic interest in arms trade in Africa, and also its colonial interests.
VITZAN: These agreements were never brought to light. We have no idea what rights returnees get. We have reports of people who found themselves in Uganda and Rwanda and didn't get any papers, visas, no status, and their asylum claim wasn't looked at, and they became stateless. The situation is very serious.
TARACHANSKY: S is an Eritrean refugee who made his way to Israel from years in Sudanese refugee camps. Following the coerced effort to get him to leave the country, he decided to sign the agreement and go. For fear of imprisonment were he to find himself back in Eritrea, he refused to be filmed.
S (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We thought we were human beings, but when we came to Israel, we found out we're worthless. Us black people are not human beings here. That's all I can say. So I'd rather go to Uganda. At least they're black too.
INTERVIEWER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): But you know that many who sign to go to Uganda, and when they land they find themselves in Sudan? [sic]
S: They leave us without a choice. We have no choice. Here, the people, the government, the laws, it's really not the same Israel is what we came. They call us "nigers" and a "cancer". If I had a citizenship to anywhere--but I have no citizenship.
INTERVIEWER: What would happen if you return to Eritrea?
S: I fled the mandatory [18-year-long] army service. They'll either put in jail for life or kill me.
AVIYAH: We know that when the flight goes down, their names are called out by the Khartoum police. So they are expected by the Khartoum police. Everything they have on them is confiscated. Okay? They're taken into interrogation, sometimes for a day, sometimes for several days or a week.
And from there, there are two options. Either they are released under limiting conditions and they may not leave Khartoum, so their movement is limited. And they have a police file, sometimes their whole family has a police file. They have to report to the police either daily or once a week. Many of them are put under pressure to become informers for the police because they're in a vulnerable position. All of them, all of the passports are stamped with "cancel", so they can't use their passport anymore--they will not be able to leave Sudan with the passport. These are the ones that are released. And then there are the ones that are probably in jail.
TARACHANSKY: Since the interview, the Organization of Sudanese Refugees in Israel recorded 13 deaths of returnees who were tortured, when nearly 1,000 remain in jail in Khartoum. According to international standards and law, if refugees decide to voluntarily return to their countries of origin, the host country--in this case, Israel--ought to provide them with comprehensive legal and return counseling, information, sufficient time to prepare, reintegration support, assist in their ability to find housing, employment, health care, and education, monitor their return, and so on. Instead, the returnees report that once they've landed, often not knowing to which country that there are even being sent to, they have no contact with any official representatives from Israel or the country to which they were sent after their arrival, and no one assists them or deals with their needs.
The government's response was that all actions are taken in accordance with international law.
For The Real News, I'm Lia Tarachansky in Tel Aviv.
Palestinian refugees die
Starving in Syria: Palestinian refugees die in rebel-held camps
Published on Feb 1, 2014
An estimated 18 thousand people, including many women and children, remain trapped in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus. It's been cut-off by Syrian rebels for more than a year now. Hundreds of relief parcels have managed to reach the camp for the first time in several months but that's too late for at least 85 people who have died there since the middle of last year from illness and starvation. RT's Maria Finoshina took a trip to this rebel enclave.
H Crisis in Gaza.
Eva Bartlett: An Eyewitnesses Account About How Israel Has Constructed a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
Published on Jan 9, 2014
The following is a December 7, 2013 interview with Eva Bartlett conducted by Mike McCormick on the radio show Mind Over Matters (KEXP 90.3 FM, Seattle).
In the interview Bartlett gives an eyewitness account about the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the Israeli wars on the Palestinians and how the Israeli government has deliberately created a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
For audio listening, here is a direct link from Mind Over Matters:
Keiser Report: Margret Thatcher? Anti-Christ! (E591)
Published on Apr 22, 2014
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the rentier rising from the dead, generation debt and harvesting the young with student debt. In the second half, Max interviews Ross Ashcroft about the housing super bubble in London and what it means to the rest of the economy to have a rentier class in charge.
Chained US Dream
Keiser Report: Chained American Dream (E590)
Published on Apr 17, 2014
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the American Dream as being chained to the booth in the waffle house as cogs in the wheels generating income for Wall Street sharpies and the poverty of this century in which the beggar is a reminder of nothing. In the second half, Max interviews Alasdair Macleod of Goldmoney.com about the geopolitical situation in Ukraine and its impact on gold and the dollar as the reserve currency. They also talk about the true size of China's gold reserves.
Bliss of Ignorance
Keiser Report: Bliss of Ignorance (E588)
Published on Apr 15, 2014
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss how ignorance could, indeed, be bliss for all of us if the ignorant would just STFU. From geopolitics to cryptocurrencies, those who know least are the most likely to seek the use of force. In the second half, Max interviews crypto whale, Karl Gray, about the future of crypto and his plans to crowdfund the $300 million Statue of Responsibility, a companion to the Statue of Liberty to be built off the West coast of America.
Escobar on China/Russia 'Deal of the decade' & Europe's secret US deal blues
Published on Apr 15, 2014
While the West weighs up putting more spanners in the works with sanctions, Russia and China are getting on with business. The two are looking at a deal that could see gas pumped into the world's most-populated nation for the next 3 decades. Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that Beijing's stance on the global political arena is bearing fruit.
China Navy drills
China Navy drills: Jets live fire at targets in East China Sea
Published on Apr 3, 2014
China's East China Sea Fleet launched a live-fire air drill recently, aimed at improving the overall combating capability of the naval air force. The naval aircraft has been an important air force guarding the southeast coast of China for more than half a century
China's New March
CrossTalk: China's New March
Published on Dec 6, 2013
Is the battle of 'overflights' the opening salvo of the growing competition for the Pacific pitting China against the US? Is the American pivot to Asia merely militarizing the region? Can Washington accept that China will eventually become the regional hegemon? And what would an American-Chinese compromise look like? CrossTalking with John Feffer and Martin McCauley.
50%+ Afgh kids starving
Children of War: 50%+ Afghan kids starving
Published on Apr 21, 2014
Afghanistan's former foreign minister currently leads the race to become the next president. The vote count should be completed by Thursday, but early results show the front-runner is around 6 per cent short of the required 50 per cent to secure victory. That means a run-off is likely - and more political instability. That heralds grim prospects for the country's most vulnerable - children - who are already enduring poverty, poor health and malnutrition. RT's Lucy Kafanov reports.
Afghan Pres Elections
Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly and IPS Fellow Phyllis Bennis discuss Afghanistan's presidential election in light of corporations profiting from war and unrepresented groups remaining on the margins -
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis , Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.
Kathy Kelly is an American peace activist, pacifist, and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She currently acts as the co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence. As a war tax refuser, Kelly has refused to pay all forms of federal income tax since 1990. She spent 9 months in maximum security prison for planting corn on a nuclear missile silo and has more recently been arrested at U.S. military bases in New York and Nevada for protesting drone warfare. During each of 14 trips to Afghanistan, Kelly, as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. Kelly returned to the U.S. in March of 2014 after having spent most of the winter in Kabul.
Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
On Saturday, an estimated 60 percent of Afghanistan's 12 million eligible voters cast their vote to elect Afghanistan's next president. Although results are still coming in, a runoff is likely to occur between two presidential frontrunners, former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani and former Afghan minister of foreign affairs Abdullah Abdullah. The very next day, President Obama applauded the elections.
Now joining us to discuss what this election means for everyday people in Afghanistan are our two guests. Kathy Kelly is an American peace activist, pacifist, and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She currently acts as cocoordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence and recently returned from Afghanistan, where she spent most of her winter.
And also joining us is Phyllis Bennis. She's a fellow and the director of New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She's also the author of many books, including Ending the U.S. War in Afghanistan: A Primer.
Thank you for joining us, both of you.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Good to be with you.
KATHY KELLY, COCOORDINATOR, VOICES FOR CREATIVE NONVIOLENCE: Thank you, Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: So, Kathy, let's start off with you. You traveled to Afghanistan 14 times as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul. What are they saying about this election, the people on the ground?
KELLY: Well, my young friends in Kabul have said that it's a sad day when the pinnacle for evaluating success or failure in Afghanistan rests on something that happens for one day once every four years. And the tickets of people running as candidates included a warlord on just about every ticket. And, certainly, Ashraf Ghani is running with General Dostum, a very menacing, fearful warlord with a history of horrific massacres.
And the cares and concerns of very ordinary Afghans have been so underrepresented and shut out--I mean, you've got a million children suffering from severe, acute malnourishment, one out of every 11 women dying in childbirth. So how are those concerns going to be represented when the elites who are surrounded by heavily armed militias have maintained such control over Afghanistan? And I include the United States in that category of elites surrounded by heavily armed militias.
DESVARIEUX: Phyllis, both of the presidential frontrunners, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, they have said that they will sign the bilateral security agreement. First of all, what's in the agreement? And why has the current president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, refused to sign it?
BENNIS: The bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and the Afghan government is designed to maintain U.S. military presence at a somewhat smaller scale than it currently is for an indefinite period into the future.
The reason, I think, that President Karzai has refused to sign it has to do with internal politics. He's trying to position himself as the defender of Afghan sovereignty against U.S. pressure.
The reality is there's a single issue that's at stake here, and that is whether or not U.S. troops left in Afghanistan after the end of this year would have immunity from being held accountable for war crimes they might commit. This was the exact same issue that led to a decision to withdraw all troops out of Iraq in 2011, something that the Obama administration did not want to do. They wanted to leave, again, a group--somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 U.S. troops behind, but they wouldn't do it if they could not be guaranteed that they would have immunity for war crimes that they know they will commit. You know, it's one of these things: why don't they just make sure they don't commit any crimes? Then they wouldn't have to worry about immunity. So far the Afghan position is they will also not sign on to immunity for U.S. troops after the end of the year. The question now is whether the winner of this election, probably in a runoff situation, will sign on to it at a later time.
DESVARIEUX: Let's switch gears a little bit and discuss money. And if you follow the money, the U.S. government has spent about $750 billion in Afghanistan.
I want to turn to you, Kathy, and talk to you about where the money's going. Now, where could the money be going if it wanted to really be in the interests of the Afghan people?
KELLY: Well, for instance, the United States has, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan report, spent what is now approaching $100 billion on non-military aid in Afghanistan. Of that sum, only $3 billion ever went to humanitarian aid.
The other $97 billion is distributed over counternarcotics--while 92 percent of the world's opium is coming from Afghanistan. It doesn't seem like that counternarcotics money was so well spent. You've got drones flying over doing oversight constantly. Don't they happen to notice the movement of truckloads of opium going across the country every single day? But money was also spent on oversight and on governance. Well, Transparency International says Afghanistan is the most corrupt government in the world. So these are really crucial questions to ask.
And meanwhile, Anatol Lieven in The New York Review of Books says that the United States has been subsidizing the Taliban, because the United States has paid a toll for every truck, and all of the supplies coming into the United States bases and supporting also the military contractors are delivered by truck. And so the money that gets paid to the people who run those roadways, who are warlords and drug lords, and many of them Taliban, both Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, has subsidized the Taliban.
And then the United States people are supposed to believe that we're protecting women and children. Well, we should be, and reparations should be paid for the suffering caused.
DESVARIEUX: Phyllis, you heard Kathy mention the issue of corruption. What's your take?
BENNIS: Well, you know, there's no question that Afghanistan remains one of the most corrupt countries around. Transparency International lists it as one of the worst, in terms of doing business in Afghanistan. And that is important.
But I think we also have to keep in mind the far bigger levels of corruption that are endemic in the U.S. process of going to war in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq. You know, we know that the CEOs of defense contractors made more money than almost any other CEOs at various periods in the war.
There's a direct link if we look at the question of cronyism. President George [W.] Bush's uncle, William H. T. Bush, was a director of one of the war manufacturing companies, Engineered Support Systems, internationally, who cleared $2.7 million in cash and stock a few years ago in the context of the extra money that that company was making for supplying the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq.
So, you know, the question of corruption is something that we have exported to Iraq, as we have exported violence and sectarianism.
The democracy that the U.S. likes to trumpet we have brought or we have allowed to thrive in Afghanistan is thoroughly based on political parties that are sectarian in nature. Each of the parties is led by someone representing one ethnic group. The big victory is that this time around they've each chosen a vice presidential candidate from a different group to try and reach out broadly. But the idea that there could be a president who represents Afghanistan and not who represents a particular ethnic or tribal group is simply not on the U.S. agenda. And that's one of the big problems of what our definitions have been for what we call democracy in the context of these wars.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Kathy Kelly and Phyllis Bennis, thank you both for joining us.
KELLY: Thank you, Jessica.
BENNIS: Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
US Afghan legacy
US Afghan legacy: Terrorism, corruption & record drug traffic
Published on Apr 5, 2014
With Taliban stepping up attacks & Washington winding down mission in Afghanistan, it's feared violence may be spiraling out of control. Despite that, US & NATO commanders say Taliban no longer threat to stability. Believing their mission has been successful, as RT's Gayane Chichakyan reports