Monday, August 16, 2010

Karzai Bans Private Security Groups, Putin Puts Iran's Reactor Under Protection, Shall We Gather At The Border

MJ Akbar
Paul Krugman
Lawrence Joseph

For the past several days there have been lengthy articles on the state of the war in Afghanistan. Opinion pieces are being written and public relations interviews are being given by General Petraeus, saying that in order for his mission to be successful, he really needs more time, money, and troops. His plan is sound, it is beginning to work, please let him finish for the good of all mankind... If the decision to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan were up to him, he would postpone the timeline while he concentrates on training a native army and helping to build an honest government. Oh, yeah, and there's those pesky Taliban guys, who don't seem willing to give up anytime soon.

To be fair, if we really are committed to Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to uphold the promises we made, and commit ourselves for at least another 30 years or so. It's going to take at least ten more years for Iraq to figure out how to form a government after an election... Thirty years gives the institutions, schools, and armies you created a chance to set roots, and the graduates of those programs move into positions in the government. People can see the long term benefits and will be more inclined to support their continuation. Now, everything is foreign and feels like its being imposed on them, not a valid part of their culture, so they can't wait until we leave to tear apart what few accomplishments we've made.

Hamid Karzai has pulled a slick move. For months he's promised to root out corruption and hasn't done much. But this morning he announced that all private security firms are being banned and will have four months to leave the country. Of course, this began with several bad incidents involving Blackwater operatives, who seem to give new meaning to the term Ugly American... besides who's going to guard Hillary next time she visits Kabul - - the Marines!?
"It's not about regulating the activities of private security companies, it's about their presence, it's about the way they function in Afghanistan ... all the problems they have created,"
Currently, there are: "... more than 50 private security companies, roughly half of them Afghan and the other half international, employ 30,000 to 40,000 armed personnel in Afghanistan... About 26,000 armed security contractors work with the US government in Afghanistan, including 19,000 with the US military." Although the US commander overseeing private contractors has said that we intend to comply, she is lying. We may get rid of the 5000 who are contracted by our suppliers as convoy guards, but the 19,000 who are employed by our military will be shielded from deportation until the time we decide that the security situation has improved. We need them to do the illegal work, like sneaking into Pakistan and operating the drones, which continue to fire missiles at people while the rest of the country is trying to save lives from the floods...

Well, we have until this Saturday, when the Russians will bring the Iranian Bushehr nuclear plant online. The announcement was made over the weekend to see what reaction would come from the US or Israel. I think this blog may have been the only one who mentioned we had one week until Armageddon. When nothing but a yawn came in reply: "Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin decided it was safe to go ahead and load Iran's first nuclear reactor with fuel on Aug. 21 - effectively making it active - after the Kremlin's weekend announcement of this intent seemed not to trouble the US and Israel, DEBKAfile's sources in Moscow and Tehran report. He decided the two governments had either been caught flatfooted or come to terms with a Russian-sponsored nuclear project that would allow Iran to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
The impression Russian officials tried to convey that the reactor would only go on stream in late September was meant to deflect US or Israeli pressure, which in the event was not forthcoming."

So, all of the bluster and hot air about Iran's nuclear program, and it was just that, so much hot air? Jeez, why bother? Russia has let everyone know that now this plant is under their protection, so please don't blow it up, and they have a ten year contract to oversee the operation and dumping the spent fuel rods. They put it in much more diplomatic prose, trying to defuse any situation: "Rosatom's spokesman Sergey Novikov commented Monday: "I think it is a very strong signal that international society supports such peaceful projects as Bushehr, because everybody understands that you cannot use a power plant in a hypothetical military program." He went on to say: "A nuclear power plan just generates electricity, There are two double-purpose elements - enrichment and spent fuel management. Both of these elements are taken out of Iranian responsibility, because we are going to supply the Bushehr power plant with nuclear fuel."

I guess when Obama goes on vacation, so does the rest of our government. Did the Pentagon spend Saturday having a toga party instead of reading the newspapers? Only that scary, crazy guy John Bolton bothered to issue any kind of threatening ultimatum, as if he's kin to Slim Pickens, ready to ride a big one down to the reactor's core...
We'll see who is calling who's bluff. As of today it looks like we still have a more peaceful world, the Israelis and Palestinians will move into direct negotiations despite threats from Hamas, and Ahmadinejad will be left to make his scatological American jokes. Maybe it signals a mellower stance by Israel, as: "... this will be the first time Israel has stood by for a Middle East nation to get close to producing a nuclear weapon without taking action - even through its leaders openly avow their intention of wiping it off the map..."

First it was North Korea firing 150 artillery shells into an empty ocean in protest, now its the tea party staging a protest along the Arizona border, shouting angry epithets into an empty desert.
“Hey, don’t come over here anymore... We don’t like illegals hiding under bushes when our kids wait for the school bus. This border needs to be secure.”
"Hundreds of Tea Party activists converged on the border fence here in what is typically a desolate area popular with traffickers to rally for conservative political candidates and to denounce what they called lax federal enforcement of immigration laws... the activists who gathered Sunday had a decidedly different take. The border, in their view, is still far too easy to get across and has become so dangerous that some of them brought their sidearms for protection. Organizers urged participants to leave rifles in their cars."

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was there, gave a little speech, sold some t-shirts. John McCain was a no show, but his opponent was there. Tom Tancredo is too busy knocking on doors in Colorado, so that left a bunch of unknowns to stoke up and preach to the choir.
“We’re right at the point of the spear where human and dope smuggling takes place,” Sheriff Dever said. “These mountains are a beehive of activity... They know this rally is going on,” he said. “They are not fools. They’re experts. They probably know more about this than we do standing here.”
Things can get a little spooky when a bunch of city folk start hanging out in the middle of the desert and let their imaginations run wild. They succumb to a little known scientific fact, extrapolated from astrophysics, called Aberration of all Rational Thought... why, I'm thinking that I'm seeing Sarah from my living room...

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