Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Pretty Accurate Synopsis of the War in Afghanistan

I got this commentary from the Jami'at al-Ulama newsletter from Transvaal in South Africa, which I had the good fortune to visit recently...

It pretty much accurately summarizes the situation in Afghanistan.

This just go to emphasize the need to stay away from the most well known of classic blunders:

Never start a land war in Asia.

Jamiatul Ulama

Online Newsletter

Vol.: 4 No.: 42

09 Dhu al-Qa'dah 1430 / 28 October 2009

Read the full Newsletter from your browser:

Weekly Comment

Afghanistan: An Exit Strategy for a Super Power
What was deemed far-fetched a year ago is a likely prospect in Afghanistan. The United States will have to cut a deal with the Taliban.

Regardless of the posturing and express support of NATO for the US, it is clear that the continuation of the war is going to be a hard-sell for Barack Obama.

With a toll of 55 killed, October has turned out to be deadliest month for the US troops. At such a rate, can the US stay the course? In any case, which ‘course’ has the US charted and how can it sustain it?

As it stands, combined US-NATO troops are reported to outnumber Taliban fighters on a ratio of 12:1. Will additional troops make any difference? It is no wonder that Obama has been averse to committing more troops as General Stanley McChrystal, has been pleading for.

What is increasingly evident is that the US has been stretched thin in as far as manpower is concerned.

Afghanistan is also proving to be a financial black hole for the US treasury. An estimated U$1m is required to keep one soldier in Afghanistan per annum. Add to that the Baghdad bill then you have a real mess to the fiscus.

As Afghanistan unravels, Matthew Hoh, a senior American diplomat in Afghanistan has become the first US official to resign in protest of the war he says is only being perpetuated by the occupation and ‘international support for a corrupt, unpopular government’.

Unsavoury stories of the occupation keep coming too. Only today, the New York Times has revealed that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the embattled Afghan president and a suspected drug trafficker, has been on the CIA payroll for most of the past eight years.

About two weeks ago, it was the story of Italian soldiers who ‘paid protection money to prevent attacks on their troops.’

French troops who took control of the Sarobi district from the Italians back in August 2008, suffered ten fatalities due to being unaware of the 'Sicilian type of homage’ they had to give to the locals to secure protection.

The government itself is also faltering after a sham election which is now heading into a staged face-saving run-off between Hamid Karzai and Abdallah Abdallah after the former had won with a ‘boosted’ margin in the first round, thanks to stuffing of ballot boxes!

It is clear that no conventional warfare will win it in Afghanistan. No matter how much more resources the US is going to commit to stabilize Afghanistan, a genuine peace dividend will prove elusive.

White House will have to accept the fact and make peace with the Taliban. It should not be through bribing of ‘moderate’ warlords to be made viceroys without the consent of the masses. An all-inclusive process of national-building is imperative.

Washington would be better place for Obama with a carefully executed consensus-building initiative that respects the people of Afghanistan as capable of making choices of how to run their affairs as a sovereign.

Regardless, a consensus-building exercise will not be an easy way out. However, it would prove more durable at a much cheaper price than to fight a war without end.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Islamophobia In America

This recent op-ed piece penned by Nihad Awad gives a dirty glimpse into the nasty side of Islamophobia operating with indigence in the corridors of power of this country. I don't believe that such people represent a majority of Americans or even power-holders in government. However, these people are omnipresent in Congress and other institutions of government, and when given the opportunity, cherish the chance to spread their hate, which often spills over to anti-immigrant, anti-black, and anti-hispanic feelings as well as general xenophobia and plain ignorance about the world. The perils of such lobbying are intensified by the fact that the emotions of such people are mostly motivated not by genuine concern about the world around them, rather they are obsessed with the apocalyptic and messianic cartoons fed to them by opportunistic preachers and the half-baked religion they push.

Does anyone think that a Christian behaving like a ill-mannered and mean-spirited hooligan in the hopes that they'll make Christ's return happen any faster is true religion?

True religion has the capacity to change people for the better. True religion teaches people to deal with the decree of God; it doesn't make people trash any sense of morality in the hopes of affecting some sort cosmic bonus round...

CAIR: Islamophobia Machine Targets American Muslims
Nihad Awad

[Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s leading Muslim civil liberties organization. He may be contacted at]

“Are you a believer?” asked the participant in a Capitol Hill gathering of Islamophobes and Muslim-bashers who -- according to conference materials -- were seeking to promote “freedom of speech and religion.”

When CAIR’s intern answered, “Yes, of course,” the conference participant -- whose card indicated he works for “Encountering Islam Christian Ministry” and obviously thinking “believer” meant something other than Muslim -- replied, “Good, because we want to cut their [Muslims’] necks off.”

Just one hour later, the officially-registered intern was asked to leave the conference, which was held in the U.S. Congressional Auditorium, because “some of the panel members do not feel comfortable with you being here.” So much for freedom of speech and religion.

Before being ejected, CAIR’s intern heard one audience member seek advice from a panelist as to how American Muslim rights could be “curtailed,” given the fact that “unfortunately” Islam itself cannot be outlawed.

But not to worry - one of the speakers at the Washington, D.C., conference does advocate outlawing Islam in America. That speaker, David Yerushalmi, works for one of the other speakers at the conference, Frank Gaffney Jr.

Other panelists included anti-Islam hate blogger Pam Geller, who has appeared at Muslim-bashing events with Gaffney and with another conference speaker, Florida House of Representatives Majority Leader Adam Hasner. Hasner recently hosted an appearance by extremist anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert “ban the Quran” Wilders in Florida, which was co-hosted by the hate blogger and promoted by another conference panelist, Tom Trento of the Florida Security Council.

Does all this make sense? It does if you understand that there is an “Islamophobia Machine” made up of extremists of all stripes who coordinate and cooperate in a relentless effort to demonize Islam and deprive American Muslims of their civil rights.

The list of attendees at CAIR’s recent sold-out 15th annual banquet in Arlington, Va., further illustrates how the Islamophobia machine works.

Two of those who purchased tickets for the banquet were notorious Islamophobes with histories of Muslim-bashing and associations with hate groups.

Among the 750 Muslim community members and activists, interfaith leaders and diplomats from Muslim-majority nations who heard addresses by speakers such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs of Progressive Faith Foundation were the two “moles” a hijab-clad representative of an anti-Islam group and a “counterterrorism consultant” who claims Thomas Jefferson only owned a Quran “so that he could know his enemy, so he could confront them, know them, kill them.”

The consultant, John Cosgrove, made that claim weeks earlier as he protested the “Day of Islamic Unity,” during which thousands of American Muslims gathered for prayer on Capitol Hill. Cosgrove is head of the Virginia chapter of the anti-Muslim hate group called the United American Committee (UAC). He was one of the main opponents of the expansion of an Islamic school in Virginia.

In 2007, the head of the UAC called Islam a “cult” and said terrorists are “honest” Muslims. He also stated that anyone who believes Muslims are not the “enemy” is “incredibly ignorant or a simple-minded fool.”

SEE: GOP Women's Group Promotes Anti-Muslim Hate

Hijab-wearing mole number two, Christine Brim, is senior vice president for policy and program management at the Center for Security Policy. She was asked to leave the event after being observed surreptitiously recording the banquet speeches, despite earlier being given legal notice that such recordings were prohibited. Instead of speaking to security personnel, Brim immediately fled to the hotel’s exit. (CAIR’s dinner was an open event with media present. Unauthorized recordings are prohibited only to prevent abuse by those who have, in the past, sought to smear the speakers by distorting their words.)

Brim, along with Cosgrove, was an opponent of the Islamic school in Virginia.

Her group and its President Frank Gaffney Jr. actively promote the racist and anti-Islam ideology of David Yerushalmi, the center’s general counsel, who has advocated outlawing the practice of Islam in America and permanently closing all U.S. mosques.

SEE: Center for Security Policy Staff

In a 2007 commentary headlined “War Manifesto -- The War Against Islam,” Yerushalmi called for a “war against Islam and all Muslim faithful.” He wrote in part:

“On the so-called Global War on Terrorism, GWOT, we have been quite clear along with a few other resolute souls. This should be a WAR AGAINST ISLAM and all Muslim faithful…At a practical level, this means that Shari’a and Islamic law are immediately outlawed. Any Moslem in America who adopts historical and traditional Shari’a will be subject to deportation. Mosques which adhere to Islamic law will be shut down permanently. No self-described or practicing Muslim, irrespective of his or her declarations to the contrary, will be allowed to immigrate to this country…”

Another such “manifesto” called for making “adherence to Islam” punishable by a 20-year prison term.

In a 2006 article for The American Spectator, Yerushalmi wrote: "Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies."

In another article, Yerushalmi wrote: “Instead of a promise of victory, Sura 24:52 must be made ashes in the mouths of Muslims. A seemingly unending air control campaign over enemy territory is the way to continually remind the Muslims of their subordinate status and the impotence of Allah without becoming mired in the quagmire of counterinsurgency.”

He also wrote that he “has staked out an approach which is to Know the Enemy by declaring the enemy historical, traditional, and authoritative Islam.”

Yerushalmi’s website once contained the following white supremacist language as part of its mission statement:

“America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white, who ventured from Europe to create a nation in their image of a country existing as free men under G-d.”

Other articles on his website made racist statements such as: “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote,” and "Race matters and affects your intelligence. Jews are the smartest white people around. Orientals smarter than Whites. Latinos next. Then Blacks.”

Another article stated:

“Is there something unique about the Black American (or, at least the Black New Yorker) that leads him to murder so disproportionately and to most often kill and victimize his own?”

Yerushalmi is also the former employer of Dave Gaubatz, his one-time “Director of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism Studies” and author of a Muslim-bashing book. In 2007, Yerushalmi’s group paid Gaubatz $148,898 for “research.”

Gaubatz has a long history of bigotry targeting Islam and Muslims. He has called Islam an “evil ideology” and a “terminal disease.” Along with his past rhetorical attacks Islam, Gaubatz has called President Obama a “crack head” and wrote that “a vote for Hussein Obama is a vote for Sharia Law.”

It is becoming obvious to anyone who puts all the parts of the Islamophobia machine together that American Muslims are being targeted by a coordinated and well-funded nationwide effort to disenfranchise their community and demonize their faith.

This insidious effort will only succeed if Americans of all faiths fail take a stand against un-American attempts to divide our nation along religious lines.