Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Amongst the 250,000 or so documents currently being released by Wikileaks, some disclose a typical standard concern about Pakistan's Nuclear Program, especially the possibility of it falling in the hands of terrorists. This mantra has been put out by some self serving analysts and dubious think tanks for nearly ten years now.

In this time, Pakistan's nuclear assets have been securely guarded by its Military and there has not been a single instant of leakage from its nuclear facilities, yet the Mantra continues like Yogi's chant.

International scientists know that it is not easy to steal nuclear assets, especially when well guarded and in disassembled form. But even if we were to assume for a moment (though highly unlikely) that possibility, it would still require a team of highly skilled Scientists to assemble and launch a bomb and there is no way Al-Qaeda or Taliban have or are likely to have such capability with their brute and coercive ways.

It is not Pakistan's nuclear assets that are leaking, it is the U.S. State and Defense Departments that are leaking like sieve. Diplomatic and other missives stolen by a person of the rank of Private, shows the total lack of security at these departments.

Wikileaks has exposed the sheer incompetence of U.S. Administration to keep its secrets safe. In future, foreign leaders will take everything that U.S. says with a pinch of salt. U.S. may also be forced to replace many of its Ambassadors in foreign lands who with their utterances, have made themselves useless in their present posts. It is time to withdraw many US Ambassadors from abroad who do not respect their host countries and their leaders.

The more serious revelation is the U.S.'s continued arrogance on world stage. Belittling foreign heads of states, foolish Ambassadors making undiplomatic comments about their host countries and their leaders. Barack Obama was supposed to change all that, he had promised to make America a more humble world leader and bring civility to its activities. But with Hillary Clinton in change of State and Gates in charge of Defense, it is business as usual.

Instead of running Assange out of continents with dubious (U.S. encouraged) criminal charges by Sweden, U.S. should learn some lessons from this fiasco and improve its image abroad. As a first, step replace all the tainted Ambassadors and send some fresh faces abroad, who can earn the confidence and respect of foreign leaders.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It is an irony that the Afghan war was won within the first three months and yet it has been lost over ten years.

After the 9/11 attacks in New York, U.S. had a genuine reason to go after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Within the first two weeks of invasion, Taliban were on the run and after Tora Bora, Al-Qaeda too was substantially decimated.

The war should have ended then. Taliban were weakened and had no hope of coming back to power, they melted away and became part of mainstream Afghan society. A massive development effort for Afghanistan (like the Marshall Plan) should have been initiated to rebuild that war torn country. That would have diverted attention from war to peacetime activities, created jobs, opened schools, markets and built the much lacking infrastructure. Afghanistan could have been brought out of the 15th century into the 20th century (if not the 21st).

History will record that continuation of war beyond the first few months and shift of focus from Al-Qaeda to Taliban was a major policy disaster of the Bush Administration. Fighting Arab and other foreign terrorists in Afghanistan is one thing, but fighting the local populace and that too, the majority Pashtuns (all Taliban are Pashtuns) is another thing altogether.

Afghan history is littered with ruins of foreign armies and so far none of the invaders have succeed. The breakup of Soviet Union following their retreat from Afghanistan is still fresh in our minds.

In foreign policy and war management terms, Bush Administration's early decision to impose rule by minority Northern Alliance over the majority Pashtun would prove to be a fateful decision that would prolong the war for more than ten years. President Obama's folly of owning a lost war and troop increases would only make matters worse. Also, the substantial increase in night raid activities under President Obama involving killing of Afghans, many of whom turn out to be innocent civilians is making matters worse. It is causing anger and providing impetus to Taliban in their recruitment. It is time that these raids stop and stop immediately.

Once it was clear that U.S. had no desire to bring the war to an end and Northern Alliance would continue to hold a lion's share of power, it became a Pashtun v non Pashtun war. America's continued alignment with Northern Alliance and its failure to bring aboard all stakeholders, especially the majority Pashtuns, gave them a reason to consider foreign troops as occupiers rather than as friends who may rid them of Taliban forever. Gradually, Taliban started to resurface, supported and financed by Pashtun leaders, many of whom play a double game - break bread with Americans and finance Taliban at the same time. Even General Petraeus admits that Taliban have an upper hand at this point. It has also been reported that US has taken more casualties in the last month alone than any other month since the war began. If this war is not brought to an end soon, Taliban will be emboldened even more and the outcome could be even worse.

One of the most disastrous policy decisions ever made by some brilliant minds in Washington, D.C. was to encourage Afghans to grow poppy again, the production of which had previously been eradicated under Taliban regime. Large sums of money started to flow in the hands of drug lords and barons once again and Taliban too found a stream of perpetual cash headed their way. Taliban, who by then were almost extinct started to rise from ruins like the Phoenix from the ashes. The increased revenue improved their morale and strengthen their resolve. They started to re-equip themselves and could even afford to recruit daily wage soldiers to bolster their ranks. While a number of factors have contributed to the outcome of war in Afghanistan, this decision alone has perhaps gone a long way in converting victory into defeat.

The strange thing is that even after ten years, U.S. and NATO have not understood the Afghan Society. Afghans have been warriors for centuries, they do not need military training. By now we all know that Taliban with their minimal training can give a fair fight to U.S. and NATO troops. If anything, Afghans need to be weaned off their weapons. To accomplish this, a major development effort is required. The Afghans have had nothing to do except fight for the last several years. They need to be put to work in factories, road & bridge building, school and market building etc., so they can begin to provide a decent living for their families without fighting wars.

US has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on this war and there is nothing to show for it. Afghanistan is still a war ravaged backward country. Rebuilding that country would have cost a great deal less and not so many lives would have been lost.

This war has already been lost and it is time to put an end to it and bring all soldiers home. Let the Afghans decide their own fate. They did it before the Soviet invasion and they will do so again after the withdrawal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Tea Party Movement - Is It A Genuine Conservative Movement Against Big Spending or Just An Assembley of Power Hungry Racists?

The Tea Party Movement's protests against big Government and big spending make absolute sense. After all the U.S. is deep in debt and each year, Budget deficits have increased since Bill Clinton left office. It is no brainer that U.S. must bring down its budget deficits and start paying down its debt to curtail it to a more acceptable level of 30 to 40% of GDP compared to the current level of 80 to 90% of GDP.

The amount of money spent on saving the big banks, the auto industry, AIG and such like, have increased national debt enormously. So, protesting about big spending is quite appropriate. But where was the Tea Party Movement when George W. Bush was busy launching an illegal invasion of Iraq costing the U.S. taxpayer nearly a trillion dollars and giving tax cuts to the wealthy at the time of war adding another one and a half trillion dollars to deficit? Where was the Tea Party Movement when Bush merrily turned Bill Clinton's budget surpluses to deficits year after year. If the Tea Party Movement really stands for fiscal conservatism, then why did they not have rowdy gatherings like they do now or organize big rallies on the Mall in Washington D.C. to protest against Bush Administration's disastrous economic policies. The huge budget deficits that now face the nation and the financial crisis that ensued in 2008 are a direct result of those policies.

The Tea Partiers did not raise their voice during Bush era because this movement is not for fiscal conservatism - that is just a facade. They are (at least most of them) a group of nut job racists who malign and blame Barrack Obama for everything as they find it hard to accept an African American occupying the White House. So, when they talk about taking America back, who are they taking America back from?

The Tea Party Movement has won some primary races within the Republican party and no doubt will win some elections too. Momentarily, it may appear a setback for the Democrats, but in reality, it is the Republicans who will lose. Having these crazies in their midst is going to be a major headache for the Republican leadership in the House and Senate.

Some examples of the Tea Party craziness:

Carl Paladino running for New York Governor admits to fathering an illegitimate child, but blames his Democrat opponent for immorality.

Sharon Angle in a race against Harry Reid in Arizona sees ghosts of thousands of terrorists crossing the border from Canada.

Rand Paul wants restaurant owners to decide who comes into their restaurants - in other words racial segregation all over again.

Christine O'Donnell is having to put out ads saying, she is not a witch!

Joe Miller, the Senate candidate from Alaska has a journalist handcuffed for asking questions by his thugs aka private security.

And finally, Sarah Palin wants Muslims to "RUFUDIATE" the mosque in New York.

It will be fun watching some of these jokers occupy the House and Senate seats.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Al-Maliki's Visit to Iran, US May Have Unknowingly Handed Iraq on a Platter to Iran

Nouri Al-Maliki's visit to Iran is supposedly an effort to shore up support to form a Government in Iraq. But, there seems a great deal more than meets the eye.

The more moderate and secular Ayad Allawi has a slight lead in the Iraqi elections and he should form a Government, but Al-Maliki has gone to pledge his unflinching loyalty to the Ayatollahs in Iran. If he is successful in forming a Government, the Iranians will have an enormous influence over Iraq.

After his recent triumphant visit to Lebanon, someone said that Ahmedinajad has the game, set, but not quite the match, but with these developments, he may even have the match. The rousing reception he received in Lebanon not just from Hezbollah, but also from the Lebanese people, their President and Prime Minister speaks volumes of U.S. policy failure in Lebanon. The Bush Administration played a dangerous game in Lebanon. Blaming Syria for Rafik Hariri's murder was a clever ploy and for a while it played well with the Lebanese people and it even got Syrian troops out of Lebanon. But now that the U.N. inquiry commission appears to have exonerated Syria, the U.S. intentions are viewed rather suspiciously in Lebanon.

It appears that U.S. has been played again and again in The Middle East by Israel. First in Iraq by providing it bogus intelligence on WMDs and egging it on to invade Iraq and then in Lebanon by falsely framing Syrians for Hariri's murder.

The net result of it all is that today, Iran has a huge influence in Lebanon and it will also end up with enormous influence over Iraq. This is exactly what Iran wanted and the U.S. may have unknowingly handed Iraq on a platter to Iran.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

General McChrystal - Good Riddance, Now it is time to bring in a new Defense Secretary

General McChrystal's insubordination and inappropriate comments about his superiors and especially the Commander-in-Chief earned him a well deserved sack. Anything less would have been perceived as a weakness on President Obama's part.

Letting McChrystal off the hook would have opened doors to insubordination from other military officers. What is surprising however, is the rumor that Defense Secretary Robert Gates pleaded for a lesser punishment. If this is true, then it is a matter of great concern. How can the Defense Secretary not ask for full and proper punishment. In fact, it is President Obama's open mindedness to invite the General to the Oval office to explain his conduct, otherwise he could have just asked the Defense Secretary to relieve him of his command.

Robert Gates has served many a President, but he may have too much baggage from the past. In these changed times, President Obama needs to appoint a new Defense Secretary to implement his policies, someone whose thinking is completely aligned with the President.

The war in Iraq may be winding down, though the after effects of a total withdrawal are yet to emerge. However, things are not going well in Afghanistan. McChrystal may have befriended the Afghans, but his surge is not working. Taliban are a different breed altogether, each time NATO forces launch a major attack, they simply melt away and regroup to start the fight elsewhere another day. Instead of reducing, their numbers are increasing.

It is time to rethink the Afghan strategy entirely. No foreign force has ever defeated the Afghan people, and this war IS against the Afghan people, be they under the garb of Taliban. It is time to wind down the war and implement an exit strategy based on a political settlement. For that, the President needs to put on his thinking cap and he also needs new leadership at Pentagon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

US Capitualtes to Israel Again - Who runs the US Foreign Policy: AIPAC or the White House?

The Israeli attack on unarmed ships carrying relief goods for Gaza has been squarely condemned by Governments around the world, except the US Government, which has not had the courage to call a spade a spade.

Attacking ships in international waters is piracy under the international law. After this incidence, there is no difference between Somali pirates and Israeli forces attacking ships in international waters - except that Somali pirates don't usually kill.

It is appalling that US has blocked and watered down the UN Security Council resolution in a most shameful manner. Instead of a resolution condemning Israel's actions, it has tabled a watered down resolution that is utterly meaningless.

US also blocked efforts to call for an international investigation, instead it insisted on Israel holding the investigation. This is akin to asking a shooter who has just killed several people to head an investigation into his own actions!

Who controls the US foreign policy, the White House or Israel i.e. AIPAC. It is unfortunate that US has surrendered its sovereignty to Israel. Being the largest super power in the world, it has a moral duty to do the right thing - condemn what is wrong and applaud what is right. By taking a one sided position, it is lowering its stature in the world. Such actions are only likely to strengthen the hands of hate mongering terrorists, who propagate that US is not an honest broker.

Great nations do not surrender their sovereignty to other countries, history has shown us that nations who take unjust actions ultimately lose their power in the world.

Hillary Clinton, being in charge of US foreign policy should show grit and resign to demonstrate her unhappiness at the US foreign policy being hijacked from under her feet.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Arizona's recent passage of Immigration Law is not only contentious but possibly even unconstitutional, as only the Federal Government has power over immigration matters. However, that is for the courts to decide and it will not be surprising if constitutional petitions head the Supreme Court way in not too distant a future. The Supreme Court may have leanings in a certain direction, but when it comes to interpreting the constitution, the Justices are at their best.

Being a border state, Arizona no doubt has an illegal immigration problem. But, this law may be less to do with that and more to do with tempting President Obama and Democrats to bring about an immigration bill in a haste.

Republicans are still recovering from their failure to block the the Health care bill. They also know that Financial Reform Bill is likely to pass, so they cannot present President Obama victory after victory heading into mid term elections in 2010. An immigration bill before the US House of Representatives and the US Senate is sure to stir passions and anger against a Federal Government providing a route to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

With a strong opposition to such a move in the South and much more so in the border states plus the ire of nearly 10% Americans without jobs, it could create quite a strong anti-immigration lobby in the country, possibly far larger than all of the Latino votes combined. It could prove to be a costly and a high risk strategy for an Administration to bring an immigration bill before the Congress in an election year. Perhaps this is what the Republicans are hoping for. The Arizona Immigration Law could be a bait for President Obama and the Democrats. However, going by President Obama's strategic style so far, he is far ahead in these things than any Republican or Democrat. So, hopefully, he will weigh all options before initiating an immigration bill.

In the meantime, Arizona law could prove to be a good kicking opportunity for the Administration. They could take it to the Supreme Court, hopefully win and garner Latino support without alienating the white voters.

Arizona is already beginning to face the music as more and more people and corporations are planning to stay away from the State. American Immigration Lawyers Association has already canceled its convention in Scottsdale. Other organizations and corporations may follow suit. The hotel industry is complaining bitterly as they rely heavily on immigrants for their staff requirements. All this could have serious consequences for Arizona's economy and its tourist industry.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The Republicans made a calculation at the outset of Health Care Bill that if it can defeat the Bill, it can break and defeat Barack Obama. So, instead of actively participating in debate and helping improve the Bill, they adopted scare mongering and negative tactics. However, their calculation backfired and like Hillary Clinton did during the primary campaign, they too under estimated Barack Obama.

Their alliance with the Tea Party movement, which at best can be described a right wing fringe, may have damaged the Republican Party, especially their appeal to independent voters who now form a majority in the US. The blame for this does not rest solely on Michael Steele's shoulders, but on the entire Republican Party and especially the Senators and Congress members. The Republican Party may have shot itself in the foot.

How can a major political party take a position; "Health care in America is the best in the world, so leave it alone" when 50 million people i.e. 15% of country's population has no health care coverage. Apart from scaring many independent voters, Republicans surely have lost the 32 million people, who will now be entitled to health care coverage under the new bill.

US spends 17% of its GDP on health care and still leaves out 50 million of its people. In comparison, Canada spends only 11% of its GDP on health care, with every man woman and child covered. So, where is the money going - to insurance companies I guess? With ten times the population, US should be able to achieve economies of scale and spend no more that 8 or 9% on health care. If it could cut down the spending to 10% of GDP, the savings will be a staggering $994 billion a year reducing the budget deficit from $1.4 trillion to $406 billion.

So, is this the status quo the Republican Party wanted to maintain? And what about the Tea Party crowd, who love to talk about cutting down big Government, don't they get it? Where was the Tea Party movement when George W. Bush was launching illegal war on Iraq, giving tax breaks to the high earners and turning surpluses into deficits? Why did they not come out on the streets then and not protest even louder about Government spending?

Even with the new Bill, it is quite obvious that US health care system is far too expensive and needs substantial improvement. President Obama should quietly set up a team to study Canadian, British and Scandinavian public health care systems and have them devise the best public health care system possible.

It is imperative that a Public Health Care system be introduced in the US as soon as possible.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Each day brings new allegations of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic church and it seems, all roads lead to Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) for his part in the cover up.

The actions of the priest in Wisconsin, Rev Lawrence Murphy who was involved in sexually abusing nearly two hundred boys at a school for the Deaf were outrageous and criminal. Even worse is the fact that a Bishop brought the abuse to the attention Cardinal Ratzinger (Vatican official in charge of disciplining priests at the time), but it appeared the Cardinal looked the other way. The Bishop also requested the Vatican that Rev. Murphy be defrocked, but that too went unheeded. An investigation started years later was also hushed up.

It now appears that nearly sixty boys were subjected to similar abuse in a school for the deaf in Italy and that too was covered up. The legals minds are far better at figuring out culpability, but to a layman like me, having knowledge of a crime and actively covering it up, may itself be a crime.

There is an active debate taking place in the U.K. that Pope Benedict should be arrested upon arrival on his forthcoming visit. Not that, that will happen, but a petition signed by 10,000 people and still gathering momentum is being readied to be handed to the British PM to cancel the invitation to Benedict.

Pope John Paul II worked so hard to build bridges across the world and to other faiths, as a result he was loved equally by Catholics and people of other faiths. Pope Benedict has wasted no time is destroying all that and then some. The best course for Benedict is to abdicate and let someone else take over, who can continue the good work started by John Paul II.

Monday, March 1, 2010


President Obama and the Democratic leadership have allowed the Healthcare bill to linger far too long, it should have passed months ago. Republicans and Tea Party activists have been given far too much time to bash the bill in an effort to derail it.

It has been quite obvious all along that Republicans are NOT going to support it in any shape or form, then why waste time in trying to win them over. Their vested interests do not allow them to support anything that goes against the insurance company interests. Rumor has it, their re-election campaign coffers are filling up nicely through campaign contributions by vested interests. Apparently Republicans are not the only beneficiaries either, some Democrats opposed to the bill also seem to be receiving this bounty.

The Healthcare bill should now be passed immediately through a reconciliation process, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate. And yes, the Public Option should be kept in the bill as it is the responsibility of the Government to provide a good healthcare system. If insurance companies won't cover or are expensive, then the Government should step in to provide coverage to its citizens. Lessons should be learned from the Canadian public healthcare system.

Canada has most probably the best healthcare system in the world. The disinformation campaign against it in the US by vested interests and Senator McCain (him probably out of ignorance than malice) is utterly dishonest. Canadian public healthcare system covers every man, woman and child (very eloquently elaborated by William Shatner in the closing ceremonies last night). Healthcare is funded through taxes and no insurance premiums are required. All procedures recommended by doctors (except of course elective cosmetic surgery)are 100% covered and no co-payment is required. There may be a wait time for a minor surgeries, but major surgeries are attended to immediately. And NO, the Government does not have a say in who gets operated on, the Doctors do as they are completely independent in their decision making.

US Economy faces far more serious challenges than to allow Healthcare debate to occupy center stage for this long. It should have been off the table several months ago. President and his team need to focus on job creation, trade and budget deficits. He had an excellent campaign team that brought him to the White House, but many of these who became his advisers are green and not experienced in the way Washington works. He needs to bring in some experienced hands who can tackle the Senators and Congressmen, some of whom have been in DC for 30 years and know all the tricks to derail an Administration.

It is time to pass the Healthcare bill NOW.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Why does President Obama talk about killing or capturing Osama bin Laden when speculation is that the terrorist died soon after Tora Bora. Logic dictates that a sick man with a bad kidney needing regular dialysis could not possibly have survived this long in the rugged mountains.

There were reports suggesting that his funeral took place soon after he escaped from US attack on Tora Bora. He has certainly not been seen ever since though there have been a couple of video tapes. The last one showing him a lot younger with a totally black beard. There have also been occasional audio tapes, but both the videos and audios appear highly suspect.

With all the resources at their disposal, should US intelligence agencies not know whether he is dead or alive? And if he is dead then why is "killing or capturing" bogey still being paraded around?

President Obama came to office on a platform of change. Should he not tell the American public what he knows?

And if intelligence agencies do not know whether OBL is dead or alive, then it does not say much for their intelligence gathering. Then what are US troops doing in Afghanistan, when it is not even known whether enemy number one exists or not?

Perhaps it is time to pull all troops out of Afghanistan and let the Afghans decide their own fate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The hanging of Ali Hassan al-Majid better known as 'Chemical Ali' was uneventful. He was equally barbaric and cruel as his cousin Saddam Hussain. He put down a Kurdish uprising in Halabja, Northern Iraq by gassing thousands of innocent people to death. A method not very different from the one deployed by Nazis against the Jews.

This should be a lesson to future dictators in Iraq and elsewhere that when you occupy the seat of power, you don't own it. It is the people who own it and one day you will have to pay for your crimes and excesses.

One aspect of this whole sordid affair that should have been discussed openly and has not been by the US and Western media is, how did Iraq get hold of these chemical weapons? There are allegations that in the eighties, Donald Rumsfeld and the US Government of the time provided these to Iraq for use in the Iran/Iraq war. That was the time when on a visit to Baghdad Donald Rumsfeld parised Saddam Hussain as "a Great Leader". If it is true that Rumsfeld supplied chemical weapons to Iraq, then is he not also complicit as a co-conspirator in war crimes and should he not be tried?

Unlike the British, who are holding an open and an independent inquiry into legality of Iraq War, the US Congress does not have the courage or the willpower to hold an open and a fair enquiry to determine whether Rumsfeld is guilty of these crimes.

Would Mr. Rumsfeld like to voluntarily submit to International Court of Justice to clear his name?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A 'Deal with the Devil' is what the insensitive Pat Robertson has to say about Haiti's earthquake. He has said similar things in the past after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Do these 'God's agents' have no shame. People are dying in Haiti and need help from the world community and all he can think of is a deal with the devil? Who has given this man the right to malign other human beings? Another evalengical preacher claimed recently that "God hates a lot of people". I guess God came down to give that information to him personally!

If one looks closely, there many similarities between the extreme right wing preachers and the Afghan Taliban. They want to impose their will on majority, so do the Taliban. They believe they are right and everyone else is wrong, so do the Taliban. They believe they are the only ones who will go to heaven, so do the Taliban. They believe it is their moral duty to set all erring people straight, so do the Taliban. They believe God has given them a mission to root out sin from the world, so do the Taliban.

Friday, January 1, 2010


The ongoing unrest in Iran, almost daily demonstrations and the death of Mousavi's nephew shows that Iranian clergy is losing its stranglehold over Iran's political system.

Ever since the replacement of Shah's dictatorial rule with an even worse regime imposed by the Mullahs on Iranian public, the question has not been; will it fail, but rather when will it fail?

The Iranian public has been held hostage by religious extremists who see things only their way and no other way. The lack of tolerance, the pressure on young men to grow beards and on women to dress in a certain manner has the public looking for alternatives and freedom of expression.

The recent demonstrations could possibly have been encouraged and supported by outside players. The news coming out of Iran and carried by Western media seems to have a strange similarity to it, be it on CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC or CBS, as if the story is being fed from a single source. However genuine, many in public tend to view authenticity of such stories with some suspicion.

It was always a question of time when the Mullahs would run out of gas and Iranians would want a free and a democratic system of governance with fully restored civil liberties. It is best to let the Iranian public deal with this and not meddle with their internal affairs. Any hint of a CIA involvement in the anti Government demonstrations could backfire badly, possibly resulting in the current regime clamping down even harder and delaying the inevitable.