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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Needs Citation

Matthew Yglesias asked for a few capsule biographies. I provide except for the bit about documenting my claims.

— Gulbiddin Hekmatyar
— Warren G Harding
— Jean Monney
— Ahmad Shah Massoud (he's found a biography)
— William Sherman

- Gulbiddin Hekmatyar

Former Prime Minister of Afghanistan. Notable as the prime minister whose militia did the most damage to his capital.

Head of the Hezb i Islami an extremist and fairly violent Islamic political organization that fought commmunist youths (and I believe shot bird shot at the legs of bare legged women) before the Afghan communists seised power.

Following the communist coup, the Hezb i Islami quickly switched to guerilla warfare. A US journalist in Peshawar Pakistan was allarmed that each Islamic leader answered "me" when asked who was the most effective Islamic anti communist and much more allarmed when all but Gulbiddin Hekmatyar answered Gulbiddin Hekmatyar when asked who was the second most effective.

There was another communist coup in which the "masses" faction of the party lead by Hafizulla Amin overthrough the "flag" faction (mocked as "the royal Afghan communist party) headed by Nur Muhamad Taraki. Then the USSR invaded, killed Amin and installed Bebrek Karmel (later replaced by Najib who changed his name back to Najibullah).

During the war with the USSR, G.H. became rather unpopular with the other 6 Peshawar based US funded Islamic groups. the Hesb i Islami fought the Peshawar other 6 from time to time. However, the USA just handed the money over to Pakistan and let the Pakistanis decide how to distribute it. Thus the radically anti western anti US G.H. got more money from the USA than any of the others.

Then the USSR left. After a while the Afghan communists were defeated basically when ethnic Uzbeck communist general Rashid Dostam switched sides. The Peshawar 7 formed a coalition government. The top position (President) was given to B. Rabani, the leader of the smallest and weakest group. G.H. was named Prime Minister. Ahmed Shah Massoud became defense minister.

The coalition did not get along and resorted to techniques more extreme than the filibuster or budget reconciliation. I blinked and when my attention was engaged again, prime minister G.H. and his army were beseiging his capital. One might notice on TV that Kabul is a wasteland. It was almost undamaged in the war with the USSR, not much damaged (because there wasn't all that much left to damage) by the Taliban when they seized power and not even much damaged by the USA/UK/Northern Alliance when the Taliban lost power. It was destroyed by the artillery of Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The Taliban emerged from their madrasses where, for some reason, they seem to have used tanks and didactic aids. In fact, they were clearly organized by the Pakistani ISI which had lost patience with the Peshawar 7. In their first act they crushed the Hezb i Islami. G.H. ceased to be a powerful person. His name briefly reappeared when Donald Rumsfeld incorrectly asserted that he was a member of the Taliban.

— Warren G Harding

was the first President of the USA elected in part by women. Elected in 1920. Nominated by the Republican party after an intense campaign and vetting consisting entirely of answering "no" when asked if he had ever done anything which might embarrass the party. His answer was false as he was conducting an extramarital affair which he continued in the White House.

The only aspect of his job at which he excelled was meeting and greeting. He admitted that he was usually convinced by the last advisor to talk to him. Of him it was said

"he is the worst speaker I have ever heard except for a few journalists and a dipsomaniacal professor (not me I wasn't even born yet)" H.L. Mencken

"It's not what he doesn't know that scares me. It's what he knows for sure that just aint so". -- that guy from Oklahoma with the rope tricks.

Presided over the famous teapot dome scandal. Was sent to Alaska where he
1) couldn't embarrass the party
2) could see Russia.

At an infected King crab and died.

William Tecumseh Sherman major general in the Union army. Lead an army which burned a swath 50 miles wide across Georgia and then burned Atlanta. In 1976 some wanted him to be President. He said "If nominated I will not campaign. If elected I will not serve." At around the same time he warned kids that, while they might think that war is all glory, in fact it is all hell.

His kid brother Senator Sherman, was less unwilling to get involved in politics. He was a populist Republican. No not like Rush Limbaugh. I mean he introduced a bill called the Sherman anti-trust act which is still relevant today, even though Altanta has been rebuilt.

Jean Monney

Son of famous eurocrat Jean Monnet and Jane Money.

Jean Monnet was an enthusiast for European unification who tirelessly fought hindbound nationalists (including especially Charles DeGaulle) and is now buried in the Pantheon.


Vance Maverick said...

Hit Post too soon?

Anonymous said...

August 26, 2009

Social Justice Not Allowed

"Zelaya, * they said, was in the process of creating what would be to all intents and purposes a Communist state. The parliament, the courts and the army began to act together to frustrate the most modest change. For example, Zelaya’s plan for a ‘car-free day’ in the capital was not only opposed in parliament but declared unconstitutional by the courts." **

* Manuel Zelaya, the deposed President of Honduras.


-- As'ad AbuKhalil

Anonymous said...

August 25, 2009

The Millennium Challenge Corporation and Economic Sanctions: A Comparison of Honduras With Other Countries

The Obama administration has argued that it has acted firmly and appropriately in its opposition to the coup regime in Honduras, with the suspension of some forms of non-humanitarian aid as well as the cancellation of four diplomatic visas. On August 7, 16 Democratic members of Congress wrote a letter to President Obama suggesting that the administration should do more. In particular, they asked President Obama to freeze the U.S. assets of coup leaders and deny them entry to the United States.

Barack Obama responded to those who criticized his policies as not going far enough, in a speech in Guadalajara, Mexico:

"Now, if these critics think that it's appropriate for us to suddenly act in ways that in every other context they consider inappropriate, then I think what that indicates is, is that maybe there's some hypocrisy involved in their approach to U.S.-Latin America relations…"

This issue brief compares the measures that the Obama administration has taken in response to the June 28 coup in Honduras with the measures taken by the U.S. government in response to other recent interruptions or alleged interruptions of constitutional order. To keep the comparison simple, we look at one form of US assistance: that provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a government agency for development programs. We compare the MCC funding in the case of Honduras with that of two other countries where there were military coups in the last year. We also include the case of Nicaragua, where there has been no coup, but where MCC funding has been terminated, in response to allegations of electoral irregularities.

The MCC is a U.S. government-run corporation created in 2004 and tasked with managing the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a fund whose mission is to provide development assistance to low-income developing countries. A country’s eligibility to receive assistance from the MCC is based on a series of “selection indicators” related to “Ruling Justly”, “Investing in People” and “Economic Freedom”. A board of directors, chaired by the U.S. Secretary of State and including cabinet officials such as the Treasury Secretary and the U.S. Trade Representative, oversees the stewardship of the MCA....


The military coup that toppled the elected president of Honduras was condemned worldwide. The Organization of American States and the United Nations General Assembly both passed unanimous resolutions denouncing the coup, and calling for the immediate reinstatement of the elected president Manuel Zelaya. But this simple comparison shows that the United States government’s response to the coup has been far weaker than its response to other recent coups. In the cases of Madagascar and Mauritania the US government acted quickly to suspend and then terminate the MCC programs with those countries. And even in the case of Nicaragua, where the United States was responding not to a coup but only to alleged irregularities in a municipal election, MCC aid was frozen within 15 days.

However, in the case of Honduras, after 57 days, the MCC programs continue to function normally.

Anonymous said...

August 18, 2009

The "Safe Haven" Myth
By Stephen M. Walt

At an appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday, President Obama defended U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, calling it a "war of necessity." He claimed that "our new strategy has a clear mission and defined goals -- to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies," and he declared that “If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

This is a significant statement. In effect, the president was acknowledging that the only strategic rationale for an increased commitment in Afghanistan is the fear that if the Taliban isn't defeated in Afghanistan, they will eventually allow al Qaeda to re-establish itself there, which would then enable it to mount increasingly threatening attacks on the United States.

This is the kind of assertion that often leads foreign policy insiders to nod their heads in agreement, but it shouldn't be accepted uncritically. Here are a few reasons why the "safe haven" argument ought to be viewed with some skepticism.

First, this argument tends to lump the various groups we are contending with together, and it suggests that all of them are equally committed to attacking the United States. In fact, most of the people we are fighting in Afghanistan aren't dedicated jihadis seeking to overthrow Arab monarchies, establish a Muslim caliphate, or mount attacks on U.S. soil. Their agenda is focused on local affairs, such as what they regard as the political disempowerment of Pashtuns and illegitimate foreign interference in their country. Moreover, the Taliban itself is more of a loose coalition of different groups than a tightly unified and hierarchical organization, which is why some experts believe we ought to be doing more to divide the movement and "flip" the moderate elements to our side. Unfortunately, the "safe haven" argument wrongly suggests that the Taliban care as much about attacking America as bin Laden does.

Second, while it is true that Mullah Omar gave Osama bin Laden a sanctuary both before and after 9/11, it is by no means clear that they would give him free rein to attack the United States again. Protecting al Qaeda back in 2001 brought no end of trouble to Mullah Omar and his associates, and if they were lucky enough to regain power, it is hard to believe they would give us a reason to come back in force....

Anonymous said...

Foreign policy makes me sort of think that Bush was still President, but that could not be, could it?

Anonymous said...

August 25, 2009

Firm Hired to Vet Embedded Reporters for Coverage of US Military
By Amy Goodman

The Pentagon has hired a controversial public relations firm to vet reporters for their previous coverage of the US military before allowing them to embed with US troops. The Army newspaper Stars and Stripes reports the military has hired the Rendon Group to screen whether the reporters’ prior work has “portrayed the US military in a positive light.” * The Rendon Group helped form the Iraqi National Congress, the Iraqi exile group that provided much of the false intelligence to help justify the US invasion of Iraq. Rendon has been screening reporters under a contract dating back to 2005.


Anonymous said...

August 26, 2009

Honduran Coup Regime Rejects OAS Proposal
By Amy Goodman

In Honduras, the coup regime has rejected the latest international effort to broker the return of the ousted President Manuel Zelaya. On Tuesday, the coup government met with visiting foreign ministers from the Organization of American States. The installed President Roberto Micheletti again rejected a Costa Rican-mediated proposal to restore Zelaya and said the coup government will proceed with new elections in November. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno criticized the coup regime’s stance.

“In all the meetings, the commission demonstrated in a clear manner that the agreement of San Jose, recognized internationally as the basis for national reconciliation, is the immediate, balanced and viable path to the achievement of the reinstatement of the order of law in Honduras. The commission laments that on this occasion support for the agreement of San Jose has not been obtained and calls on the different sectors of Honduran society to support the agreement.”

Anonymous said...

August 26, 2009

Wide Fraud Is Charged as Afghans Tally Votes

KABUL, Afghanistan — The preliminary results from Afghanistan’s election gave both President Hamid Karzai and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, nearly 40 percent of the vote on Tuesday as accumulating charges of widespread fraud cast new doubts on the credibility of the election....

Anonymous said...

August 27, 2009

Alleged Drug Ties of Top Afghan Official Worry U.S.

In his bid for re-election, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has surrounded himself with checkered figures who could bring him votes, including his influential running mate, Gen. Mohammad Qasim Fahim.

Anonymous said...

August 31, 2009

Increasing Accounts of Fraud Cloud Afghan Vote

International election observers who have been working for months in Afghanistan said the problem was systemic and institutional corruption.

Anonymous said...

August 31, 2009

U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Calls for New Strategy

KABUL -- The commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said Monday in an assessment of the war that a new strategy was needed to fight the Taliban, while NATO officials disclosed he is expected to separately request more troops.

[The Obamam war is more war than the Bush war.]