Monday, November 6, 2017

‘CIA and Mossad created ISIS’, says Julian Assange as Wikileaks releases 500k US cables

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Subject: ‘CIA and Mossad created ISIS’, says Julian Assange as Wikileaks releases 500k US cables

‘CIA and Mossad created ISIS’, says Julian Assange as Wikileaks releases 500k US cables
28 October 2017

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange today said the CIA and Mossad were responsible for paving the way for ISIS as the whistle blowing organisation released more than half a million formerly confidential US diplomatic cables dating back to 1979.

On the sixth anniversary of the first infamous “Cablegate” by WikiLeaks, when it releases its first batch of sensitive US files, on November 28 2010, it has expanded its Public Library of US Diplomacy (PLUSD) with 531,525 new diplomatic cables from 1979.

In a statement to coincide with the release of the cables, known as “Carter Cables III”, Mr Assange explained how events which unfolded in 1979, had begun a series of events that led to the rise of ISIS.

He said: “If any year could be said to be the “year zero” of our modern era, 1979 is it.”
Mr Assange added: “In 1979 it seemed as if the blood would never stop.
“Dozens of countries saw assassinations, coups, revolts, bombings, political kidnappings and wars of liberation.”

The Carter Cables III bring WikiLeaks’ total published US diplomatic cable collection to 3.3 million documents.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Aadhaar Overkill - Editorial - The Times of India (New Delhi edition), 30 Oct 2017

Aadhaar Overkill

Originally conceived as an empowerment tool, it is disempowering citizens now

After months of pestering customers to mandatorily link bank accounts with Aadhaar numbers by December 31, the deadline has been extended till March 31. Where bank accounts are linked with PAN, and PAN is seeded with Aadhaar, the government demand for Aadhaar-bank account linkage of PAN holders becomes redundant. Technology can do this coupling instead of the constant badgering for Aadhaar numbers, which is plain annoying for those not availing benefits like cash transfers, subsidies, pensions and scholarships.

Threats of suspension of bank accounts, where people save their hard-earned money, for non-compliance under Prevention of Money Laundering Rules add insult to injury, particularly considering that the Aadhaar Act 2016 has no provision making enrollment compulsory. No different is the insistence on Aadhaar to verify mobile connections, when the government should instead be trying to enhance mobile connectivity. The fear of local SIM cards falling into terrorists’ hands fails to take note of facilities like international roaming, prepaid cards, or satellite and internet telephony.

Unique identification was originally sold to citizens as a way to efficiently deliver welfare benefits without duplication and pilferage by intermediaries. In the last couple of years, however, it has grown into an all-encompassing Leviathan even as there has been little progress on welfare. On one hand we have central and state governments conceiving uses for Aadhaar in everything from property to death registration, hailing ambulances to getting rations. The enthusiasm has rubbed off on the private sector too, with three-year-olds requiring Aadhaar for nursery admissions and job opportunities tied to Aadhaar submission.

Making biometrics a keystone to access so many essential services invades privacy, increases the potential for abuse, makes doing business difficult and ties up everyday activities in red tape. Fake Aadhaar card rackets have been busted that allegedly exploited vulnerabilities in the UIDAI enrollment ecosystem. Biometric verification is susceptible to failures and unauthorised usage. Poor connectivity, lax cyber security and data storage standards heighten the risks. All-encompassing Aadhaar linkages create the framework for mass surveillance and enhanced cybercrime. It’s time to roll back the Aadhaar empire and initiate restrictions on its mandatory use. The passport, driving licence, PAN, ration and voter cards all serve specific purposes unlike Aadhaar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi once declared, rightly, “minimum government, maximum governance”. But it’s important to remember the converse of that proposition is equally true: maximum government, minimum governance.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Malignant mindset

Malignant mindset: It is a measure of what has become of us as a people and a nation that we are actually applauding - or at least heaving an almost audible sigh of relief - at the turn of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, as a 'good cop' in the latest episode of Hindutva's perverse pantomime.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What Killed the Promise of 'Muslim Communism'? By John T. Sidel, The New York Times


What Killed the Promise of 'Muslim Communism'?

LONDON — For a brief moment after the Bolshevik uprisings of 1917, it looked like revolution might be waged across vast swaths of the world under the joint banner of Communism and Islam.
Pan-Islam had emerged in the final decades of the Ottoman Empire, with the efforts of Sultan Abdulhamid II to lay claim to the title of caliph among Muslims. New forms of Islamic schooling and associations began to emerge across the Arab world and beyond. From Egypt and Iraq to India and the Indonesian archipelago, Islam became a rallying call against European colonialism and imperialism.
Islam’s mobilizing power attracted Communist activists in the 1910s and 1920s. The Bolsheviks, who lacked organizational infrastructure in the vast Muslim lands of the former Russian empire, allied with Islamic reformers in those areas. They created a special Commissariat for Muslim Affairs under the Tatar Bolshevik Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, promising to establish a distinctive “Muslim Communism” across the Caucasus and Central Asia. During the 1920 Congress of the Peoples of the East in Baku, in what is today Azerbaijan, the Comintern chairman Grigory Zinoviev, a Ukrainian Jew, called for waging a “holy war” against Western imperialism.
But as we now know, Communism and Islam failed to coalesce into a lasting alliance. By the onset of the Cold War, they seemed irrevocably opposed. Differing views about Communism divided Muslims across Asia, Africa and the Middle East in their struggles for independence and emancipation during the second half of the 20th century. An anti-Communist jihad fundamentally remade Afghanistan in the 1980s and helped set the stage for the rise of Al Qaeda and the emergence of a new form of Islamist terrorism.
Yet around the time of the Russian Revolution, the prospects of Communism and Islam joining forces seemed very bright. They were perhaps no brighter than in the Indonesian archipelago, then under Dutch rule: In 1918-21, left-wing labor organizers working hand in glove with Islamic scholars and pious Muslim merchants built the biggest mass movement in Southeast Asia.

Red Century

Exploring the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.

Over the preceding decade, Indonesian labor activists had already established a strong union representing workers on the extensive railroad network servicing the vast plantation economy of Java and Sumatra. By 1914, the Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging, or Indies Social-Democratic Union, had expanded from labor organizing among railroad workers into broader forms of social activism and political action against colonial rule.

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Pan-Islam had emerged in the final decades of the Ottoman Empire, with the efforts of Sultan Abdulhamid II, shown in this undated photo, to lay claim to the title of caliph among Muslims.CreditCorbis, via Getty Images

In particular, members began to join the Sarekat Islam, an organization founded in 1912 as a Muslim batik traders’ association that had morphed into a broader popular movement and was staging mass rallies and strikes across Java. Socialist influence within the Sarekat Islam was already evident at the movement’s congress in 1916, where the Prophet Muhammad was proclaimed to be “the father of Socialism and the pioneer of democracy” and “the Socialist par excellence.”
The Russian Revolution further inspired the Sarekat Islam. By late 1917, activists from the Indies Social-Democratic Union had begun agitating and organizing among the lower ranks of the Dutch armed forces in the Indies. Borrowing the successful tactics of the Bolsheviks in Russia, hundreds of sailors and soldiers were recruited in the hope of staging mutinies and uprisings. The Dutch colonial authorities promptly arrested and imprisoned the activists and ordered their expulsion from the Indies.
But by 1920, the Indies Social-Democratic Union had renamed itself the Communist Union of the Indies, becoming the first Communist party in Asia to join the Comintern. New unions were formed on Java and Sumatra. Peasant villagers mobilized against landowners. A railway strike briefly paralyzed the plantation belt in eastern Sumatra.
It was in this context that the legendary figure of Tan Malaka first appeared. The scion of an aristocratic family from western Sumatra, Tan Malaka had spent World War I as a student in the Netherlands. He came into contact with Socialist activists and ideas, and witnessed the short-lived Troelstra Revolution of late 1918, during which Dutch social-democrats briefly tried to emulate an ongoing revolutionary uprising in Germany. In early 1919, Tan Malaka returned to Indonesia, where he was soon drawn into labor organizing. He joined the embryonic local Communist Party, quickly ascending to its leadership — before the colonial government forced him into exile, and back to the Netherlands, in early 1922.
And so it was with early experience of the revolutionary potential of combining Communism and Islam that Tan Malaka made an appearance at the Fourth Comintern Congress in Moscow and Petrograd in 1922. There, he delivered a memorable speech about the similarities between Pan-Islamism and Communism. Pan-Islamism was not religious per se, he argued, but rather “the brotherhood of all Muslim peoples, and the liberation struggle not only of the Arab but also of the Indian, the Javanese and all the oppressed Muslim peoples.”
“This brotherhood,” he added, “means the practical liberation struggle not only against Dutch but also against English, French and Italian capitalism, therefore against world capitalism as a whole.”
The official record of the proceedings notes that Tan Malaka’s impassioned plea for an alliance between Communism and Pan-Islamism was met with “lively applause.” But his memoirs recall that after three days of heated debate following his speech, he was formally prohibited from further contributing to the proceedings. The official conclusions of the Fourth Comintern Congress, including the “Theses on the Eastern Question,” are notably ambiguous on the question of Pan-Islamism and strikingly silent on Indonesia, even though the movement there was far more successful than any other Communist mobilization in the so-called East at the time.
An alliance between Communism and Islam was not to be, neither in Indonesia nor elsewhere. The strength of Communism, as a movement, was its ability to mobilize laborers to fight for better wages and working conditions through unions, whether in oil boomtown Baku or the plantations of Java and Sumatra. But as a form of government, Communism meant one-party rule, a command economy with collectivized agriculture and party-state control over all spheres of social life — including religion.
Islamism, by contrast, was a much broader and enduringly more open-ended and ambiguous basis for political engagement. In Java and elsewhere, “Islam” provided a banner for Muslim merchants to contest economic encroachment by non-Muslims and build an infrastructure for organizing in the countryside, largely through Islamic schools. Politically, it was a supple notion: Islamist scholars and activists could be for colonialism, Communism or capitalism.
In Indonesia, tensions between Communists and Islamic leaders had already begun to divide Sarekat Islam in the early 1920s. Communists urged escalating strikes and protests, whereas Islamic leaders advocated accommodation with the Dutch colonial authorities. Sarekat Islam dissolved in the face of Dutch repression after failed rebellions in 1926-7.
In the late 1940s, Islamic parties opposed the Partai Komunis Indonesia (P.K.I.), or Indonesian Communist Party, during the struggle for independence. Islamic parties were uncomfortable with the Communists’ insistence that independence from Dutch colonial rule also upend aristocratic privileges and bring about the establishment of Socialist forms of ownership over land and industry. This conflict extended into the early post-independence period. Islamic organizations actively participated in the anti-Communist pogroms of 1965-66, which destroyed the P.K.I. and left hundreds of thousands of casualties across Indonesia.
By this time, the pattern of antagonism was well established across the Muslim world, and it persisted throughout the Cold War. The institutional and ideological boundaries of both Communism and Islamism hardened, dashing prospects for renewed experiments in political alliance-building.
In Muslim areas of the Soviet Union, the party-state suppressed institutions of Islamic worship, education, association and pilgrimage, which were viewed as obstacles to ideological and social transformation along Communist lines. Where Islamic states were established, left-wing politics was often associated with blasphemy, and outlawed. In countries like Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran, Communist and other left-wing parties found themselves in bitter competition for power with Islamists.
One effect of the failure of revolutionary forces to mobilize under the joint banner of Communism and Islam was to deeply divide Muslims, weakening their capacity first to fight colonialism during the first half of 20th century and then to resist the rise of authoritarianism across the Muslim world. Another effect was to stimulate new forms of U.S.-backed, anti-Soviet Islamist mobilization during the Cold War — including some that turned into the virulent anti-Western terrorist groups that partly define the world today.
Divisions between leftists and Islamists in Egypt after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 also helped set the stage for the country’s return to military rule in mid-2013. Similar tensions divided the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, paving the way for the country’s descent into civil war over six years ago. A full century after the Russian Revolution, the failed alliance between Communism and Islam continues to shape the politics of the Muslim world.
John T. Sidel is the Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the author of the forthcoming book “Republicanism, Communism, Islam: Cosmopolitan Origins of Revolution in Southeast Asia.”

This is an essay in the series Red Century, about the history and legacy of Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution.
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How We Learned Not To Care About America’s Wars - By Andrew Bacevich - LobeLog

Let the world declare USA as a war-monger nation; to begin with.

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How We Learned Not To Care About America’s Wars

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by Andrew Bacevich
Let the world declare USA as a war-monger nation; to begin with.

How We Learned Not To Care About America’s Wars

by Andrew Bacevich
Consider, if you will, these two indisputable facts.  First, the United States is today more or less permanently engaged in hostilities in not one faraway place, but at least seven.  Second, the vast majority of the American people could not care less.
Nor can it be said that we don’t care because we don’t know.  True, government authorities withhold certain aspects of ongoing military operations or release only details that they find convenient.  Yet information describing what U.S. forces are doing (and where) is readily available, even if buried in recent months by barrages of presidential tweets.  Here, for anyone interested, are press releases issued by United States Central Command for just one recent week:
September 19: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
September 20: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
Iraqi Security Forces begin Hawijah offensive
September 21: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
September 22: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
September 23: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
September 25: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
September 26: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq
Ever since the United States launched its war on terror, oceans of military press releases have poured forth.  And those are just for starters.  To provide updates on the U.S. military’s various ongoing campaigns, generals, admirals, and high-ranking defense officials regularly testify before congressional committees or brief members of the press.  From the field, journalists offer updates that fill in at least some of the details — on civilian casualties, for example — that government authorities prefer not to disclose.  Contributors to newspaper op-ed pages and “experts” booked by network and cable TV news shows, including passels of retired military officers, provide analysis.  Trailing behind come books and documentaries that put things in a broader perspective.
But here’s the truth of it.  None of it matters.
Like traffic jams or robocalls, war has fallen into the category of things that Americans may not welcome, but have learned to live with.  In twenty-first-century America, war is not that big a deal.
While serving as defense secretary in the 1960s, Robert McNamara once mused that the “greatest contribution” of the Vietnam War might have been to make it possible for the United States “to go to war without the necessity of arousing the public ire.” With regard to the conflict once widely referred to as McNamara’s War, his claim proved grotesquely premature.  Yet a half-century later, his wish has become reality.
Why do Americans today show so little interest in the wars waged in their name and at least nominally on their behalf?  Why, as our wars drag on and on, doesn’t the disparity between effort expended and benefits accrued arouse more than passing curiosity or mild expressions of dismay? Why, in short, don’t we give a [expletive deleted]? 
Perhaps just posing such a question propels us instantly into the realm of the unanswerable, like trying to figure out why people idolize Justin Bieber, shoot birds, or watch golf on television.
Without any expectation of actually piercing our collective ennui, let me take a stab at explaining why we don’t give a @#$%&!  Here are eight distinctive but mutually reinforcing explanations, offered in a sequence that begins with the blindingly obvious and ends with the more speculative.  
Americans don’t attend all that much to ongoing American wars because:
1. U.S. casualty rates are low. By using proxies and contractors, and relying heavily on airpower, America’s war managers have been able to keep a tight lid on the number of U.S. troops being killed and wounded.  In all of 2017, for example, a grand total of 11 American soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan — about equal to the number of shooting deaths in Chicago over the course of a typical week. True, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries where the U.S. is engaged in hostilities, whether directly or indirectly, plenty of people who are not Americans are being killed and maimed.  (The estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed this year alone exceeds 12,000.) But those casualties have next to no political salience as far as the United States is concerned.  As long as they don’t impede U.S. military operations, they literally don’t count (and generally aren’t counted).
2. The true costs of Washington’s wars go untabulated.  In a famous speech, dating from early in his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  Dollars spent on weaponry, Ike insisted, translated directly into schools, hospitals, homes, highways, and power plants that would go unbuilt.  “This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense,” he continued.  “[I]t is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” More than six decades later, Americans have long since accommodated themselves to that cross of iron.  Many actually see it as a boon, a source of corporate profits, jobs, and, of course, campaign contributions.  As such, they avert their eyes from the opportunity costs of our never-ending wars.  The dollars expended pursuant to our post-9/11 conflicts will ultimately number in the multi-trillions.  Imagine the benefits of investing such sums in upgrading the nation’s aging infrastructure.  Yet don’t count on Congressional leaders, other politicians, or just about anyone else to pursue that connection.
3. On matters related to war, American citizens have opted out.  Others have made the point so frequently that it’s the equivalent of hearing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at Christmastime.  Even so, it bears repeating: the American people have defined their obligation to “support the troops” in the narrowest imaginable terms, ensuring above all that such support requires absolutely no sacrifice on their part.  Members of Congress abet this civic apathy, while also taking steps to insulate themselves from responsibility.  In effect, citizens and their elected representatives in Washington agree: supporting the troops means deferring to the commander in chief, without inquiring about whether what he has the troops doing makes the slightest sense.  Yes, we set down our beers long enough to applaud those in uniform and boo those who decline to participate in mandatory rituals of patriotism.  What we don’t do is demand anything remotely approximating actual accountability.
4. Terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some more. While international terrorism isn’t a trivial problem (and wasn’t for decades before 9/11), it comes nowhere close to posing an existential threat to the United States.  Indeed, other threats, notably the impact of climate change, constitute a far greater danger to the wellbeing of Americans.  Worried about the safety of your children or grandchildren?  The opioid epidemic constitutes an infinitely greater danger than “Islamic radicalism.”  Yet having been sold a bill of goods about a “war on terror” that is essential for “keeping America safe,” mere citizens are easily persuaded that scattering U.S. troops throughout the Islamic world while dropping bombs on designated evildoers is helping win the former while guaranteeing the latter.  To question that proposition becomes tantamount to suggesting that God might not have given Moses two stone tablets after all.
5. Blather crowds out substance. When it comes to foreign policy, American public discourse is — not to put too fine a point on it — vacuous, insipid, and mindlessly repetitive.  William Safire of the New York Times once characterized American political rhetoric as BOMFOG, with those running for high office relentlessly touting the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.  Ask a politician, Republican or Democrat, to expound on this country’s role in the world, and then brace yourself for some variant of WOSFAD, as the speaker insists that it is incumbent upon the World’s Only Superpower to spread Freedom and Democracy.  Terms like leadership and indispensable are introduced, along with warnings about the dangers of isolationism and appeasement, embellished with ominous references to Munich.  Such grandiose posturing makes it unnecessary to probe too deeply into the actual origins and purposes of American wars, past or present, or assess the likelihood of ongoing wars ending in some approximation of actual success. Cheerleading displaces serious thought.
6. Besides, we’re too busy.  Think of this as a corollary to point five.  Even if the present-day American political scene included figures like Senators Robert La Follette or J. William Fulbright, who long ago warned against the dangers of militarizing U.S. policy, Americans may not retain a capacity to attend to such critiques.  Responding to the demands of the Information Age is not, it turns out, conducive to deep reflection.  We live in an era (so we are told) when frantic multitasking has become a sort of duty and when being overscheduled is almost obligatory.  Our attention span shrinks and with it our time horizon.  The matters we attend to are those that happened just hours or minutes ago.  Yet like the great solar eclipse of 2017 — hugely significant and instantly forgotten — those matters will, within another few minutes or hours, be superseded by some other development that briefly captures our attention.  As a result, a dwindling number of Americans — those not compulsively checking Facebook pages and Twitter accounts — have the time or inclination to ponder questions like: When will the Afghanistan War end?  Why has it lasted almost 16 years?  Why doesn’t the finest fighting force in history actually win?  Can’t package an answer in 140 characters or a 30-second made-for-TV sound bite?  Well, then, slowpoke, don’t expect anyone to attend to what you have to say.
7. Anyway, the next president will save us.  At regular intervals, Americans indulge in the fantasy that, if we just install the right person in the White House, all will be well.  Ambitious politicians are quick to exploit this expectation.  Presidential candidates struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but all of them promise in one way or another to wipe the slate clean and Make America Great Again.  Ignoring the historical record of promises broken or unfulfilled, and presidents who turn out not to be deities but flawed human beings, Americans — members of the media above all — pretend to take all this seriously.  Campaigns become longer, more expensive, more circus-like, and ever less substantial.  One might think that the election of Donald Trump would prompt a downward revision in the exalted expectations of presidents putting things right.  Instead, especially in the anti-Trump camp, getting rid of Trump himself (Collusion!  Corruption!  Obstruction!  Impeachment!) has become the overriding imperative, with little attention given to restoring the balance intended by the framers of the Constitution.  The irony of Trump perpetuating wars that he once roundly criticized and then handing the conduct of those wars to generals devoid of ideas for ending them almost entirely escapes notice.
8. Our culturally progressive military has largely immunized itself from criticism.  As recently as the 1990s, the U.S. military establishment aligned itself with the retrograde side of the culture wars.  Who can forget the gays-in-the-military controversy that rocked Bill Clinton’s administration during his first weeks in office, as senior military leaders publicly denounced their commander-in-chief?  Those days are long gone.  Culturally, the armed forces have moved left.  Today, the services go out of their way to project an image of tolerance and a commitment to equality on all matters related to race, gender, and sexuality.  So when President Trump announced his opposition to transgendered persons serving in the armed forces, tweeting that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” senior officers politely but firmly disagreed and pushed back.  Given the ascendency of cultural issues near the top of the U.S. political agenda, the military’s embrace of diversity helps to insulate it from criticism and from being called to account for a less than sterling performance in waging wars.  Put simply, critics who in an earlier day might have blasted military leaders for their inability to bring wars to a successful conclusion hold their fire.  Having women graduate from Ranger School or command Marines in combat more than compensates for not winning.
A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.  But don’t expect your neighbors down the street or the editors of the New York Times to lose any sleep over that fact.  Even to notice it would require them — and us — to care.
Republished, with permission, from TomDispatch. Photo: Sailors from Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit One Zero Five board a plane to deploy to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of the global war on terrorism. (Wikimedia Commons)
Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is the author, most recently, of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military HistoryFollow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower WorldCopyright 2017 Andrew J. Bacevich