Brussels/Washington/Jerusalem, 31 May 2010: The International Crisis Group condemns Israel’s assault on a flotilla of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza, which resulted in a tragic loss of life. At the same time, the incident is an indictment of a much broader policy toward Gaza for which Israel does not bear sole responsibility.
Front and center in the debate over the Afghan War these days are General Stanley “Stan” McChrystal, Afghan war commander, whose “classified, pre-decisional” and devastating report — almost eight years and at least $220 billion later, the war is a complete disaster — was conveniently, not to say suspiciously,leaked to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post by we-know-not-who at a particularly embarrassing moment for Barack Obama; Admiral Michael “Mike” Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has been increasingly vocal about a “deteriorating” war and the need for more American boots on the ground; and the president himself, who blitzed every TV show in sight last Sunday and Monday for his health reform program, but spent significant time expressing doubts about sending more American troops to Afghanistan. (“I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan… or sending a message that America is here for the duration.”)
By Roane Carey, The Nation The Goldstone report has been denounced in Israeli and ignored by the U.S. press, unless you count the NY Daily News, which called it a “blood libel against Israel.” The recently released UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the December-January Gaza conflict, released on the eve of Barack Obama’s attempt to jump-start comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, was but the latest in a series of investigations, most of them by human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Like its predecessors, the so-called Goldstone report, named after chief investigator Richard Goldstone, is devastating in its critique of Israeli actions: indiscriminate use of firepower; deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian structures, including hospitals, schools, mosques, water and sewage plants, and rescue vehicles; use of white phosphorus munitions in built-up areas; use of human shields; abusive treatment of detainees; imposition of a blockade on Gaza before and after the attack itself–the report concludes that Israel violated international humanitarian law, committed “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and …
By Rupert Cornwell Tuesday, 14 July 2009 Published in ‘ Independent’. Why are we asking this now? The CIA is currently embroiled in two controversies that go to the heart of the problems surrounding the world’s largest intelligence agency. It is accused of keeping Congress in the dark about a secret post-9/11 project, on the orders of the former vice-president Dick Cheney and probably in violation of the law. Meanwhile the Justice Department is moving towards a criminal investigation of whether CIA operatives illegally tortured captured terrorist suspects. A rule of thumb about an intelligence service might be: the less you hear about it, the better it’s probably doing its job. Instead, the CIA seems to be eternally in the headlines.
Paul Rogers The problems faced by Barack Obama’s administration in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq owe much to George W Bush’s catastrophic legacy. (This article was first published on 14 May 2009 in OpenDemocracy) Barack Obama approaches the end of his fourth month in power with the full impact of the legacy of the George W Bush administration across the middle east and south Asia only now becoming clear. The dispute over the publication of over forty photos of maltreated prisoners of the United States held in an earlier period of the post-2001 “war on terror” – in which the president appears to have acceded to the wishes of the army – is but a small index of how inescapable and toxic is this legacy.
Source: Reuters – AlertNet Date: 17 May 2009 By Zeeshan Haider DAGGAR, Pakistan, May 17 (Reuters) – Fighting between the Pakistani army and Taliban militants drove farmer Rahim Zada and his family from their home in the mountains a week ago but on Sunday he was trudging back. “I’ve come back to harvest my crop,” Zada said as he took a break on the road with his aged father, four women in all-enveloping burqas and a baby. “We can’t live in Mardan, it’s too hot,” he said, referring to the main town on the lowland to the south. More than a million people have sought refuge on the lowland from fighting that began last month when the army moved to push the Taliban out of Buner district, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad.