Sat, 9 February 2013
West Philadelphia's community radio station, WPEB 88.1 fm, presents Radio Against Apartheid. Amplifying voices for justice and equality in the Middle East and beyond.
The film "Long Distance Revolutionary," documenting the relentless journalistic and revolutionary integrity of Mumia, is currently playing at the Cinema Village in New York City.
With music by Bob Marley.
Note: Bob Marley's son, Ky-Mani Marley, is scheduled to play a gig in Israel this month. There is an active campaign calling for Marley to not break the boycott of Israel, and to cancel his gig. Palestinians for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) wrote, "As a reggae artist, and son of the legendary singer Bob Marley whose "Songs of Freedom" continue to inspire millions of people struggling against the inhumane forces of racist oppression, we ask you not to turn a blind eye to Israel's brutal colonial and apartheid system."
Palestinians want Marley to Get Up, Stand Up" against Israeli apartheid. You can support their campaign here.
Thu, 24 January 2013
On January 16, 2013, we spoke with Farah (@Palestinianism) on the Palestinian village of Bab Al Shams, and the civil disobedience campaign to challenge settlement activity of the state of Israel in the West Bank (20 mins.).
Sun, 13 January 2013
West Philadelphia's community radio station, WPEB 88.1 FM, presents Radio Against Apartheid - amplifying voices for justice and equality in the Middle East.
On this week's program, we cover the story of Samer Issawi, the Palestinian political prisoner who has been on hunger strike for almost 170 days inside of Israeli prisons. That story was provided to us by Project Censored at KPFA in Berkeley. Check out their work at ProjectCensored.org.
Then, we hear from Rashad Al Alani, a blogger and activist, on the popular uprising in Iraq which has brought tens of thousands of people out into the streets across Iraq.
Whereas the New York Times and Al Jazeera English characterize the uprising as "Sunni protests," they fail to recognize, as Ali Issa points out in Jadaliyya in May of 2012, the mandated sectarian quota system which divides power in almost all of Iraq’s political institutions among “representatives” of various ethnicities, sects, and religions. The quota system was initiated by the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in 2003.
Rashad confirmed that, prior to the US invasion in 2003, the "Sunni" and "Shia" terms were not political. In fact, the uprising in Iraq seeks to remove the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki because of the government's corruption and violence, and is supported by a wide swath of Iraqi civil society.
Follow the case of Samer Issawi on Twitter: #SamerIssawi #PalHunger
Follow the popular uprising in Iraq: #IraqiSpring
For further background, check out the blog of the War Resistors' League.
Thu, 25 October 2012
West Philadelphia's community radio station, WPEB 88.1 FM, presents Radio Against Apartheid - amplifying voices for justice and equality in the Middle East.
On this week's show, Matt speaks with Rana Baker, a Palestinian student and journalist with the Electronic Intifada and KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles who lives in Gaza. We spoke about life inside of Gaza, and the affects of the Israeli siege.
Also on the show, we broke down several of the false narratives promoted by the presidential candidates in the debate on Monday, October 22, including the October 19 bombing in Lebanon, the sanctions on Iran, and the idea that the United States must support Israel.
We had music from the Ministry of Dub-Key, Dawud Wharnsby, Lupe Fiasco, and The Narcicyst.
Agence France-Press, "Sanctions affecting 6 million patients in Iran"
Mondoweiss.net, "Massive car bomb explodes in Beirut, killing 8"
International Herald Tribune (NYTimes Global), "Why Was the Protean Wissam Al-Hissan Killed, and Why Now?"
Fri, 19 October 2012
West Philadelphia's community radio station, WPEB 88.1 FM, presents Radio Against Apartheid - amplifying voices for justice and equality in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, October 17, Matt Graber is joined in the studio by Jihad Abouhatab, a member of Philly for Syria and coordinator of this Friday's fundraising concert for the people of Syria, which will feature the talents of Seff Al Afriqi, Raeff, Dawud Wharnsby, and more.
We spoke about the latest developments in the Syrian revolution, and the continued demands for Bashar al Assad to step down amid reports of massacres perpetrated by some in the Syrian opposition.
Democracy Now!: Green Party Candidates Arrested, Shackled to Chairs For 8 Hours After Trying to Enter Hofstra Debate
The Root: Will Black Friday Be Blue for Wal-Mart?
Tar Sands Blockade: BREAKING: Over 50 Enter Tree Blockade in Defiance of Police Repression to Defend Tree-Sitters
Electronic Intifada: Under Israeli pressure, US cancels Gaza scholarships, showing need for academic boycott of Israel
The Harvard Crimson: Israel vs. No. 2 Pencils
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association: Palestinian Detainee Resumes Hunger Strike after Israel fails to Honor Agreement
Jadaliyya: The Violence of the Revolution Between Legitimacy and Deviance: Syria and the Need for Corrective Action
World Socialist Web Site: Mass protest against threatened Turkey-Syria war
The European Union Times: Tens of thousands protest in Saudi Arabia’s Qatif region
Riyadh Bureau: Deaths Fuel Protest Movement in Restive Qatif
Sat, 29 September 2012
West Philadelphia's community radio station, WPEB 88.1 FM, presents Radio Against Apartheid. Amplifying voices for justice and equality in the Middle East.
Update: On Friday, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina issued a stay of execution for Terrance Williams, citing the prosecutor's suppression of evidence that might have persuaded the jury to spare Williams' life. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has appealed the decision, sending the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The order of execution expires on Thursday, October 4, and there remains uncertainty as to whether the PA Supreme Court will consider the appeal by then.
Note: The final 20 minutes of the podcast have diminished sound quality. The first 40 minutes are clearly audible, but I encourage listeners - if you have the audio capability - to tune in until the end for our great conversation!
DJ Ev and Matt Graber are joined in the studio by Aja and Jen of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (PADP).
Aja and Jen have been following closely, keeping a blog, and supporting the defense in the case of Terrance "Terry Williams," a Germantown man convicted of murder in 1984 and scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, October 3. Terry will be the first man executed in Pennsylvania in thirteen years.
The case of Terry Williams has been complicated several times over. But does this man still have a chance to live? Or will the state of Pennsylvania condemn him to death?
One thing listeners can do is sign on to the Change.org petition to save the life of Terrance Williams.
Then we hear about the background of the death penalty in Pennsylvania, and about the great work to abolish the death penalty in our state being done by PADP.
There will be a rally in Philadelphia on October 10 as a part of World Day Against the Death Penalty. Whether Terry is still with us or not, he will be recognized at the October 10th rally.
News and Headlines:
- New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama's drones.
- Deaths continue to mount in Syria, with 343 killed on Wednesday.
- Blood continues to spill in Afghanistan, as August was the second deadliest month of the war for Afghan civilians.
- A US Senate vote on Friday, September 21, adopted the "Red Line" policy towards Iran of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
- The Israeli military distributed demolition orders for over 3,700 homes in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem during the month of September.
- Palestinian prisoners continue their hunger strikes inside of Israeli prisons. Ayman Sharawna is on his 88th day of hunger strike as of September 26.
- The US government released the names of 55 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison who are cleared for release.
- Guantanamo prison inmate Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif committed suicide on September 8, after having spent twelve years imprisoned there. He wrote to his lawyer in December, 2010, "This is a prison that does not know humanity, and does not know anything except the language of power, oppression and humiliation for whoever enters it. It does not differentiate between a criminal and the innocent."
- The state of Texas executed former Army recruiter Cleve Foster on September 25. Foster was the 30th person executed in the United States this year.
Sat, 22 September 2012
Welcome back, lovely listeners! After a one-week hiatus, DJ Ev and Matt Graber are back on the air!
During the past couple of weeks we were up to some good around Philly.
First, Matt was attending the 58th annual ASIS International seminar, scoping out what America's crooks and corporations were conniving over. The perceived threats by the corporate establishment mean, you guessed it, war for so many millions of people around the globe. In a recent article and on the show, Matt breaks down the global significance of a speech from former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Plus he has details on the dauntingly wide array of workshops offered at the security conference here in Philly.
Then, DJ Ev gives a report-back from a Town Hall at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. As Corbett supports a program that expands prisons and closes schools, people of Philadelphia let him know how they feel about it. Our show features an exclusive interview with Theresa Shoatz, who was out there on the steps of the Art Museum fighting for the children of Philadelphia.
Also on the show:
Palestinian prisoners continue their hunger strikes as Israeli officials make the same promises they've broken in the past.
The Palestinian Authority exerts stronger crackdowns on political opposition in the West Bank, arresting 60.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barack remain the only Israeli officials openly promoting an Israeli war on Iran. But Netanyahu took his campaign to American television, making an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
A rocket attack in Benghazi,Libya, and demonstrations rocked the US Embassies abroad, killing four in Benghazi and garnering a great deal of media attention - while the media still remains silent as American drones kill women and children.
Sat, 15 September 2012
The address on Wednesday was the second keynote address of ASIS 2012, a gathering of up to 25,000 security professionals organized by ASIS International, which was formerly known as the American Society for Industrial Security, founded in 1955.
On Wednesday, Robert Gates provided insight and analysis of threats to American interests around the world - in relation to Afghanistan, Iran, and China - and also detailed how he expanded the role of the Secretary of Defense in to domestic politics, and how, with Janet Napolitano, as Secretary of Homeland Security, he authorized the NSA to assume jurisdiction over domestic surveillance.
As someone who has dedicated his career to the covert operations of the CIA, Gates expressed continued commitment to the necessity of unofficial and nonmilitary operatives in the service of American military and intelligence. This position is evidenced by the current US strategy in Afghanistan, which Gates drafted and began implementing two and a half years ago, to train an Afghan security force of 100,000 soldiers by 2014 in addition to private security, and a Mining Protection Unit. On Wednesday, Gates said that with this program, he believes that “we finally got the strategy right” in Afghanistan.
Gates provided insight into the possibility of a war with Iran. First, Gates described his meeting in 1979 with then-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Iranian officials in Algiers, in which, following the Iranian revolution, he and Brzezinski refused to give the Shah to the Iranians, as he was being treated in the United States.
Then Gates testified as to why the Iranians may want a nuclear weapon, saying that they “see themselves surrounded by nuclear-armed countries,” and have witnessed the way in which the US military has removed Saddam Hussein, in Iraq, and Muammar Gaddafi, in Libya, from power. By contrast, the US “has been far more cautious dealing with the North Korean regime.”
Further, Gates said the Israelis “feel themselves on a shorter timeline than the US with respect to military action” because of the “geography and history” of Israel, and the rhetoric of the Iranian regime. He stated that, “some elements of the Israeli government.. have been making noises about a potential military strike.. possibly before the US presidential election in an effort to box US President Obama in to supporting it,” naming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barack in particular. Yet, “the Israeli military, however formidable, does not have the capacity to destroy all of the buried nuclear facilities at such a long range,” as “the Iranians have dispersed their nuclear program to multiple sites, many of them in urban areas, many of them deep underground.” Then Gates said, “let there be no doubt - an Israeli attack would be seen in the region and in the Muslim world more broadly as being sanctioned and underwritten by the United States, with the same consequences that would attach to a direct American attack.”
If Israel and the United States do not attack Iran, Gates said, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten Israel and Europe, and “ignite a nuclear arms race” in the Middle East. He did not mention the nuclear weapons program of Israel.
Gates said that the current set of sanctions imposed by the United Nations are “our best chance going forward” to pressure the Iranian leadership to abandon any aspirations for a nuclear weapons program, and that “we must make it clear to the.. Israeli government that they do not have a blank check to take actions which could do grave harm to American vital interests and security in that region.”
In relation to China, Gates said, “The only source of legitimacy for the governing elite [of China] is a steadily improving standard of living that requires nine to ten percent annual GDP growth, and the creation of at least twenty million new jobs every year,” and that “the credibility of the Chinese government and the quiescence of the Chinese people depends on sustaining an economic performance that is fundamentally unsustainable.”
In light of these conditions, Gates said, there is growing nationalism and xenophobia in China, and “[t]hey’re becoming more and more aggressive in pursuing China’s interests and defending exaggerated territorial claims.”
Further, “[w]e can expect more belligerence over the months to come as China looks to an immensely important generational transfer of power,” as “no aspiring leader would want to look weak when it comes to defending China’s interests.” Gates notes that China is investing trillions of dollars in foreign cash reserves in new military capabilities and technologies - “anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-satellite weapons, electronic warfare assets” - “which could alter the balance of military power in the Pacific, which has for all practical purposes been an American lake for our navy since the end of World War II.”
On cyber security and NSA expansion
An integral part of the ASIS 2012 conference was (ISC)2 - a concurrent seminar focusing on cyber security. Noting the capabilities of computer viruses such as STUXNET and the “Love bug” to have drastic consequences, Gates stressed the importance of cyber security. He goes on, “One of the keys to any military success going forward is ensuring that information crucial to operations reaches the widest appropriate audience. I know this is one of the challenges [which] the military and industry face working together, namely how to provide the maximum possible protections and information assurance without undermining one of the traditional strengths of the American way of war - just to push data and decision-making down to the lowest possible level of authority - and to do so without a repeat of the Wikileaks fiasco.”
Then Gates described the decision for the NSA - “a military support agency” - to have jurisdiction over surveillance programs in the United States. Citing “very limited assets, capability, and experience” at the Department of Homeland Security,” Gates said that it “isn’t plausible” “to fashion a brand new, ACLU-approved homeland version of the NSA for domestic surveillance and cyber security;” thus, through a memorandum of understanding drafted by Gates and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in the summer of 2010, the NSA support for DHS was approved by President Obama.
As an integral part of the passage and implementation of this surveillance program, Gates noted that, as Secretary of Defense, he established a “good rapport between [himself] and first Secretary Rice and Secretary Clinton,” whereas for most of his public life and career the two positions - Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State - neither spoke with one another nor collaborated.
Category:general -- posted at: 6:40 PM
Sat, 15 September 2012
AUDIO RECORDING AVAILABLE ABOVE AS PODCAST
‘Thank you very much, and my thanks to ASIS International for the invitation to address you this morning, bright and early. Hope everyone has had their coffee. Its a pleasure to be here in Philadelphia, though I must tell you, being just a couple of hours drive from Washington D.C. still gives me the shakes, even more than a year after leaving. Such a trip would entail - going from Philadelphia to Washington - going from the City of Brotherly Love to the only city where you can see a person walking down lover’s lane holding his own hand. Its a place I tried to retire from - to escape from - on a number of different occasions. And that was just during the Obama Administration. Like most of you, I spent most of my professional life in what broadly could be defined as the security business. It began of course with the CIA, and, I would say, in a not so particularly auspicious way.
After joining the agency, one of my first training assignments was to practice street surveillance. I was assigned to a team attempting to secretly follow a woman CIA officer around downtown Richmond, Virginia, at eight o’clock in the morning. Now, all I can tell you is that in 1968, there weren’t very many people on the streets of Richmond, Virginia, at eight o’clock in the morning. And, when you add to that [the fact] that our team wasn’t very stealthy, eh, someone reported to the police that three disreputable looking men - that would be our CIA team - were stalking this poor woman. My two colleagues were soon picked up by the police, and the only reason I didn’t get arrested was because I lost sight of her long before the police came in to the picture. Not long after, I - and the CIA - decided that I should stick to analysis, and leave the clock and dagger to the others.
When I later became the Deputy CIA Director in the 1980s, operations came in to my portfolio. While in that position, I recall being briefed on a plan to help bring down the Gaddafi regime in Libya. The plan involved launching balloons that would drop leaflets, telling the people to overthrow their government. And after getting briefed on this scheme, I told the planners to be sure that the leaflets specifically said it was Gaddafi who should be overthrown. I could imagine strong westerly winds carrying the balloons right across Libya in to Egypt. And I didn’t think President Mubarak would be too thrilled.
Just a few years later, the Cold War was over, and we entered a period of transition and optimism. Flush with victory in the Cold War and the first Gulf War, the United States stood supreme, militarily, to be sure, but also in terms of our economic power, credibility, and influence around the world - those elements that would later be called “soft power.” There was even the naive hope, on the part of some, that the apparent triumph of democratic values and free market economics portended the end of history, in all its chaotic and tragic dimensions.
Twenty years later, the world’s security, the world’s situation belies that naive idealism. Today, even as this country’s political class and citizenry are understandably focused inwardly on our own economic problems and political paralysis in dealing with it, the rest of the world continues to march on, becoming only more turbulent, more complex, and in some instances more dangerous. So I’d like to share my perspective on some of the main security challenges the US faces around the globe, including areas that are of interest to this conference, such as homeland and cyber security.
It will soon be clear that the messy post-Cold War world does not lend itself to immutable doctrines and grand strategies, much less insightful assessments about the intentions of other nations and peoples we barely understand. In fact, I would confess to you that after a lifetime spent in the national security arena, I have become quite honest with respect to grandiose pronouncements and forecasts about the future and our ability to discern it. As the noted American historian Gordon Wood has written, “History does not teach lots of little lessons. In so far as it teaches any lessons, it teaches only one thing: that nothing ever works out quite like the managers intended.” Wood’s observation seems especially appropriate in the wake of yesterday’s eleventh anniversary of 9/11 attacks that defied expectation and imagination, and humbled the national security apparatus of our entire government in the process.
The 9/11 attacks made tragically apparent the drift and neglect with respect to our government’s handling of intelligence, homeland security, and terrorism. One of the things I have observed over these many years is that democratic governments of all stripes seem to have great difficulty summoning the will and the resources to deal with with threats that are obvious and likely inevitable, much less threats that are more complex and over the horizon. There is, however, no inherent flaw in human nature that keeps us from preparing for potential challenges and dangers by taking far-sighted actions with long-term benefits. We do this all the time as individuals, but collectively the tendency is to postpone our drastic problems until they reach crisis points, which is what happened with respect to terrorism on 9/11. And in all of our political institutions before 9/11, there was no apparent Churchillian voice sounding the alarm forewarning. After the most serious failure of intelligence and law enforcement in American history on 9/11, our lead government agencies with those responsibilities - the FBI, Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the intelligence community and all of its elements - all had a lot of tough questions to answer.
I would argue so did American political leaders of both political parties during the 1990s. Our intelligence agencies during that period were denied any real budget increase for nearly fifteen years, and yet were later chastised for not connecting the dots, or not having enough human resources or foreign language experts to translate signal intercepts. In response to political pressure, the CIA was required to put a higher priority on foreign agents having clean human rights records than having valuable information about our enemies, yet politicians would later criticize the intelligence community for not having spies within terrorist cells, where of course nearly everyone has bloody hands.
At the end of the Cold War, it was apparent the CIA needed many more field officers operating under deep cover independently of American embassies. After all, the kind of sources we needed to learn about - terrorism, narco-trafficking, weapons of mass destruction - were probably not going to be found on the diplomatic cocktail and tennis circuit. The programs that I used to tutor and develop hundreds of these kinds of non-official cover officers were gutted in the mid-1990s, and in fact within three years of my leaving the CIA in 1993, the agency would have twenty-five percent fewer people, and the situation at the National Security Council, and the National Security Agency, was arguably worse. Other agencies responsible for protecting America’s homeland - the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, the military command responsible for protecting US air space - all suffered from budgetary shortfalls and cutbacks as well. This is not meant to excuse the real failures of leadership and execution that took place, but to realize that these failures must be understood in the context of those agencies being denied adequate resources to do all of the things that are expected of them. And I mention all of this because I think its important to keep our history in mind as our political system careens towards the so-called fiscal cliff later this year - a scenario that will result in deep, damaging cuts to the national defense and homeland security capabilities of our government.
The death of Osama bin Laden last year was obviously a huge step forward in the fight against al Qaeda. Especially when coupled with significant success killing other al Qaeda leaders over the last several years. While al Qaeda is on its heals, to be sure, particularly in the Afghan-Pakistani border area, it is certainly not out. The organization has metastasized beyond that border area to Iraq, North and East Africa, Nigeria, and Yemen. Further, al Qaeda has increasingly turned to alienated indigenous muslims outside of the greater Middle East to launch attacks in their home lands, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. You’re familiar with other attempts that failed - the so-called airline shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, the Times Square bomb that literally fizzled - but the massacre at Fort Hood carried out by a disaffected Muslim American Army officer also illustrates the dangers posed by individuals who radicalize themselves on the internet, limited in their capabilities to conduct a mass 9/11-type attack, but still able to sow fear and disruption.
Now, eleven years ago today, on September 12, 2001, no one would have predicted there would not be another terrorist attack on American soil for the next decade. At one level we’ve been lucky. A number of plots that could have caused great damage have failed. In some cases because of the blundering and amateurish attempts by the would-be terrorists, but there is also no question that our military operations in Afghanistan and our growing counter-terrorism and intelligence capabilities improved cooperation within our own government and with other governments, as well as the heightened awareness of our own citizenry, have all dramatically improved America’s ability to thwart terrorist attacks. But in considering the terrorist threat a little over a decade after 9/11, we have to be honest with ourselves. We can no more eliminate the risk from terrorism altogether than we can eliminate crime. To expect that the government will be able to stop any and all kinds of future terror attacks is completely unrealistic, especially in a large, open country with 300 million people. We can and we must and we are pursuing vigorous measures to manage and minimize this risk, as have other countries that have dealt with terrorist threats for decades. We must do so without sacrificing our dignity, our privacy, and our individual rights.
Preventing a major terrorist attack here at home continues to require an aggressive campaign against violent extremist groups abroad, hitting them on their ten-yard line before they come to our ten-yard line. In this respect, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in particular continue to be a critically important region for our national security. Its a region in which our country remains very much at war, despite the evident wish of most Americans and their elected leaders for the conflict and the threat simply to go away. Though much of the news and commentary coming out of Afghanistan continues to be quite negative, I continue to believe that after nearly a decade of distraction and neglect, two and a half years ago we finally got the strategy right and dedicated the necessary resources to achieve our long term objectives there. We should remain focused on the main purpose of this campaign, which is not to stay in Afghanistan in large numbers forever or even after 2014. We’re to turn the country into a modern centralized state. Our goal is to build just enough Afghan security and governing capacity to enable the Afghans to control their own territory, contain the Taliban, and prevent al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim groups from launching attacks against the United States and our allies. And all of that with minimal direct military support from the US and others. The transition to Afghan security responsibility is already under way. Our strategic agreements should signal to the Afghans, the Taliban, and the neighborhood that the US will not repeat the mistake of the early 1990s, when we essentially abandoned the country to [unintelligible] the Soviets. Still, I am concerned that a premature [unintelligible] before the Afghan government and its security forces are ready, would lead to a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and likely it would [inaudible]. Taliban-ruled areas could once again become in short order sanctuary for al Qaeda as well as a staging area for a real resurgent militant groups on the offensive in Pakistan. It would be perceived as a victory for violent Islamic extremists, boosting the morale and the ambitions of terrorist networks all around the world.
Less than five years after the last Soviet tank crossed the Termez Bridge out of Afghanistan in 1988, and we turned our backs on that country, Islamic radicals based in that region struck the World Trade Center in New York for the first time. This mistake we must not make again. And while the world of terrorists and other violent extremists, insurgents, and IEDs is with us for the long haul, I also recognize that another world has emerged.
“Growing numbers of countries and even non-state actors are employing the most advanced and increasing accessible technologies, to put the United States at risk in unpredictable ways. Hybrid and high-end asymmetrical capabilities are becoming available at affordable cost to smaller and mid-size powers as well as non-state groups. In August of 2008, the Russians preceded their armored invasion of Georgia with a highly sophisticated cyber attack. The militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon has some 40,000 missiles and rockets, more than most nation-states. And then there’s the vexing security challenge posed by America’s old nemesis, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In some respects, Iran is my old nemesis as well. In November 1979, just nine months after the Iranian revolution, I accompanied then-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski to Algiers. He was representing the US at the 25th anniversary of the Algerian revolution, and I was there as his special assistant. While we were in Algiers, the Iranian delegation asked to meet with Brzezinski. I accompanied him as the note-taker. He offered the three Iranian ministers official recognition of their revolution. He told them we would sell them all of the arms we had contracted to sell [to] the Shah. He told them that we have a common enemy to your north, the Soviet Union, and there is no reason we cannot work together. The Iranians weren’t interested. They only wanted us to give them the dying Shah, then being treated in the United States. It went back and forth like this for a while. Brzezinski finally refused, standing up and saying, “For us to give you the Shah is incompatible with our national honor. That ended the meeting. Three days later came word that our embassy in Tehran had been seized, and two weeks after that, the three people we had dealt with - the prime minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister - were all out of their jobs and/or in jail. Thus began my more than three decade long quest for the elusive Iranian moderate. I have long been convinced that Iran is determined to develop a nuclear weapons capability, a nationalist aspiration that predates the Islamic revolution. The Iranians see themselves surrounded by nuclear-armed countries. They also realize that the US easily removed Saddam Hussein, who had no nuclear weapons. Then a rag-tag rebel army with western air support was able to take down Gaddafi. By contrast, we and our allies have been far more cautious dealing with the North Korean regime, which has at least a primitive nuclear capability. The country most immediately threatened by Iran’s nuclear program is Israel. The Israelis, given their geography and history, not to mention the vicious rhetoric of the Iranian regime, understandably see the threat more urgently than the United States. Consequently, the Israeli government, primarily Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barack, feel themselves on a shorter timeline than the US with respect to military action. Recently, some elements of the Israeli government - both hawks and doves - have been making noises about a potential military strike sooner, rather than later, possibly before the US presidential election, in an effort to box US President Obama in to supporting it. The Israeli military, however formidable, does not have the capacity to destroy all of the buried nuclear facilities at such a long range. After seeing how easily Israel destroyed Iraq’s Sirac reactor in 1981, the Iranians have dispersed their nuclear program to multiple sites, many of them in urban areas, many of them deep underground, and I’m confident there are some we have not yet identified. At best, the Israelis can delay the Iranian program by a couple of years. And let there be no doubt - an Israeli attack would be seen in the region and in the Muslim world more broadly as being sanctioned and underwritten by the United States, with the same consequences that would attach to a direct American attack. And what would those consequences be? While the US military could undoubtably do more severe damage to the Iranian nuclear program than the Israelis, and set it back several years, such an attack, mind you, would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper, and go more covert. Further, 700 million Iranians currently unrest and unhappy with their government would rally behind the Mullahs. While the Iranians have virtually no military capability to directly attack the United States, and won’t for the foreseeable future, they do have the capacity to disrupt oil shipments through the Persian Gulf, and launch a wave of terror across the Middle East and potentially here at home as well. They could destroy vital oil facilities around the Gulf, including in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. And its hard to over-estimate Iran’s ability to dramatically worsen the situation in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. The results of an American or an Israeli military strike on Iran could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world. But if the Iranian government does not change its policies, and there is no attack on their nuclear facilities, we will very likely face a catastrophe of a different sort: a nuclear-armed Iran, with missiles that can reach Israel and eventually Europe. An Iran that likely would ignite a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. An Iran emboldened to behave even more aggressively in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and all across the region. Through the good work of your other keynote speaker, Mohammed El Baradei, the world is on notice with respect to the progress of the Iranian nuclear program. The most recent set of sanctions imposed by the UN with American leadership are really starting to bite and to impact the average Iranian. And that’s our best chance going forward: to ratchet up the economic pressure and diplomatic isolation to the point where the Iranian leadership concludes that it actually hurts Iranian security to go forward with the bomb, and to pursue nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, on the military side, the United States must retain robust air, naval, and missile defense capabilities in the Gulf region. We have to pursue partnerships with Gulf nations most vulnerable to an Iranian attack and intimidation. And we must make the Israelis understand clearly that we share their sense of alarm and urgency. But we must also make it clear to the most hawkish elements of the Israeli government that they do not have a blank check to take actions which could do grave harm to American vital interests and security in that region. After all, we’re all in this together, and this is perhaps the most difficult and challenging national security problem that I have seen since joining the government over forty-five years ago.
Iran represents the lower to middle portion of the threat spectrum, then there’s the higher end challenge: those by rising powers that are upgrading their capabilities and their militaries, developing technologies that could over time pose a challenge to the United States. They are developing asymmetric means that take advantage of new technologies and our vulnerabilities to sever lines of communication and block freedom of movement, and in so doing narrow our military options and strategic choices. Now, because I am no longer in government, I can come out and say we’re actually talking about China. I don’t need to educate this audience about the impact of China with respect to global trade, commerce, and the balance of payments. Where I think there is less understanding, mainly because of the opaqueness of the Chinese themselves, is the global security implications of China’s growing wealth and influence. As a result, there are many exaggerated claims of the Chinese military threat and imperial intentions on one side of the spectrum, while others cling to what I would regard as the naive view that financial self interest will keep the Chinese quiescent for the foreseeable future. In spite of China’s growing power and influence, their leadership continues to exhibit paranoia and hypersensitivity to the smallest international criticism or internal political challenge. China’s leaders are keenly aware that the country’s bullish macroeconomic numbers conceal major underlying weaknesses. The only source of legitimacy for the governing elite is a steadily improving standard of living that requires nine to ten percent annual GDP growth, and the creation of at least twenty million new jobs every year. Much of China’s phenomenal growth has been driven by exports, but as the Japanese, European, and American economies struggle, such a high growth level is becoming harder to sustain. In summary, the credibility of the Chinese government and the quiescence of the Chinese people depends on sustaining an economic performance that is fundamentally unsustainable. Lacking the legitimacy that comes from democratic governance and political freedom, the Chinese leaders, like many authoritarian regimes before them, are increasingly turning to nationalism, to xenophobia. They’re becoming more and more aggressive in pursuing China’s interests and defending exaggerated territorial claims vis-a-vis its neighbors. In the case of Japan, inflaming resentments left over from the second world war. This is increasing the likelihood of armed confrontation on disputed islands and at sea, conflicts that could draw in the United States given our military alliances in that part of the world. We can expect more belligerence over the months to come as China looks to an immensely important generational transfer of power this year. Given intense internal politics, no aspiring leader would want to look weak when it comes to defending China’s interests. We know China is investing a portion of its huge foreign cash reserves, now in the trillions of dollars, in new military capabilities and technologies that could alter the balance of military power in the Pacific, which has for all practical purposes been an American lake for our navy since the end of World War II. Having learned from the demise of a bankrupted Soviet Union, the Chinese are not seeking to build their own trillion-dollar version of the US military, fighter to fighter, ship to ship, tank to tank. Instead, they’re focusing defense investments on capabilities - anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-satellite weapons, electronic warfare assets - that could effectively blind US forces and deny them ability to maneuver and strike in defense of our allies and interests. With good reason, Chinese military strategists have called this portfolio of related capabilities “assassin’s mace.”
Asymmetric tactics are also spreading beyond the traditional domains of armed conflict. The US military and economy relies on information to function, which has created new vulnerabilities. While China and Russia continue to be the source of many sophisticated cyber attacks, those wishing to cause us harm no longer need an industrial complex to martial deadly force. Advanced weapons systems like stealth fighters or carrier battle crews require tens of billions of dollars of research, development, and production - a significant technological base. In contrast, cyber capabilities have low barriers to entry. A small number of highly trained programmers using off-the-shelf equipment can develop toxic tools and deploy them to great effect. And when a teenage hacker in the Philippines can reap ten billion dollars in damage to the US economy over night by planting a virus, as happened ten years ago with the “Love bug,” imagine what a sophisticated, well-funded effort to attack the computer base of our economy could accomplish. To date, we’ve seen - primarily seen - cyber tools used to exploit information or disrupt networks. We are now beginning to see cyber tools used to cause physical effects, such as the reported havoc reaped by the STUXNET virus on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Presently, the highest levels of cyber capabilities reside in nation-states. But because US military power provides a strong deterrent, most nation-states in conducting an easily traceable and highly destructive cyber attack than they do a conventional military attack. The risk for them is too great. Terrorist groups, however, have no such hesitation. With few assets to strike back at, they are hard to deter. If a terrorist group gains a disruptive and destructive capability, we have to assume they will strike with no hesitation. So in cyber, we have a small window of opportunity to act before the most malicious actors acquire the most destructive technologies. For this reason, cyber is one of the few parts of the defense enterprise to see its budget mostly protected in future years, although all bets are off in the event of [unintelligible] administration. One of the keys to any military success going forward is ensuring that information crucial to operations reaches the widest appropriate audience. I know this is one of the challenges [which] the military and industry face working together, namely how to provide the maximum possible protections and information assurance without undermining one of the traditional strengths of the American way of war - just to push data and decision-making down to the lowest possible level of authority - and to do so without a repeat of the wikileaks fiasco. Our government, working with partners in the private sector and overseas, must continue to move aggressively to protect our military, government, and critical infrastructure networks. One effort that began on my watch as Defense Secretary was a pilot program to extend dot mill network protections to select companies in the US defense industry, frequently a target for cyber snooping and hacking attacks.
Which brings me to one of the thorniest political and bureaucratic associated with cyber security, and that’s the question of which agency should have authority and jurisdiction over various facets of cyber defense and data collection. The administration’s position is [that] the Department of Homeland Security should have authority to regulate the cyber security of vital systems, such as power grids and transportation networks. But there remains squeamishness over the prospect of a military support agency like NSA prowling around private data networks within the continental United States. As policy-makers, we faced a situation where the Defense Department, the cyber command, NSA, and other related organizations had nearly all of the assets and the capability in cyber with limited authority outside of the war-fighting realm overseas. Correspondingly, the Homeland Security Department - assigned to lead in this area - has very limited assets, capability, and experience. To fashion a brand new, ACLU-approved homeland version of the NSA for domestic surveillance and cyber security isn’t plausible. There isn’t time, there isn’t enough money, and there isn’t enough human capital. And when Congress takes it upon itself to remedy past deficiencies by cobbling together new organizations, well, that’s how we ended up with DNI (Director of National Intelligence) and DHS in the first place. So the US government had and continues to have a real dilemma reconciling competing values and priorities when it comes to cyber security.
And at this point, let me note parenthetically that one of the reasons Texas A&M government professors never invited me to speak to their class is because the first thing I would tell the students is that everything their professor was teaching them about how government works is wrong. Whatever the [unintelligible] or broader socio-political-economic trends, success or failure almost always boils down to personal relationships. For example, its rather difficult to execute a national security strategy successfully when the Secretaries of State and Defense aren’t speaking to one another, as was the case for most of my career and public life. That was one of the reasons I made it a priority once I became Defense Secretary to establish a good rapport between myself and First Secretary Rice and Secretary Clinton. It certainly helps when the Defense Secretary does not aspire to be the chief spokesperson for the United States’ foreign policy. Indeed, the reason we were able to make the misbegotten DNI structure work pretty well under both Bush 43 and Obama is because of frequent consultation and communication between me, the DNI, and the CIA director. We found a way to iron out the various inconsistencies and statutory shortcomings through signed agreements and secret meetings. Furthermore, our subordinates knew that it was not career-enhancing to stir up inter-agency disputes and try to get us to fight with one another. Likewise, during the Obama Administration I made it a priority to establish a solid relationship with Janet Napolitano, your keynote speaker on Monday. We both agreed it would be a lot faster and a lot cheaper to make sure NSA is supporting DHS effectively, than to expect Homeland Security to try to replicate the NSA capabilities, for all the reasons I described. As a result, and with the inter-agency apparatus mired in bureaucratic squabbles and stalemate, Janet and I got together, and by the summer of 2010 worked out a memorandum of understanding between our departments. The broad purpose was to align and enhance America’s capabilities to protect against threats to critical civilian and military computer networks. The concept was similar to that used when the military is called on for natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires, in which case a presidential order dispatches the military forces, working under the control of FEMA. Under Napolitano’s and my proposal, and with new rules and some modest bureaucratic changes, DHS could pass NSA in real time. The goal was to ensure a rapid response to a cyber threat while balancing concerns that civil liberties might be at risk should the military take over such domestic operations. The privacy purists and organizations like the Electronic Freedom Foundation weren’t satisfied, but its hard to imagine a workable scenario in which they would be. We took the memo straight to the president, and to our pleasant surprise he signed it within three weeks despite the inevitable gnashing of teeth by past members of the White House staff and other departments of the government. Now, I wish I could stand here and proclaim that we achieved a great success. As you all know better than most, the proof is always in the implementation. And as crazy as it may sound to someone not in government, just because the president of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security want something done, doesn’t actually mean that it will get done. At least not without sustained pressure from above, especially when the first instinct of folks in the middle and upper levels of the agencies may be to renew old turf battles or climb on old hobby horses.
My final observation in dealing with some of these security challenges is the need to maintain a sense of balance and proportion. In particular, avoiding in the virtual world some of the excesses of our government in the areas of facilities and force protection. For example, as a reaction to the bombings in the late nineties of our embass[ies] in Africa and Saudi Arabia barracks, we now have a situation where many new American diplomatic facilities abroad resemble medieval fortresses, communicating an image of fear and isolation rather than confidence and a desire to engage with the people in the host country. The point of even having an embassy in the first place is fundamentally undermined. And as we know, misconduct and overbearing tactics by some private security contractors has done real harm to relations with the local populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. So I’m pleased that ASIS is working with the Defense Department and other agencies to develop quality assurance standards for the use of PSCs in the future.
When it comes to information assurance, we should avoid protocols and procedures so [unintelligible] that they incentivize circumvention or avoidance of secure networks altogether, just so people can get their work done. Hence the need to accept the fact that some breaches and lapses will inevitably occur, and to build resilience in to the system, rather than aspiring to perfection that cannot be achieved without unacceptable cost and unintended consequences. The quote attributed to Frederick the Great applies here: “He who would defend everything defends nothing.”
Let me close with a quote from Sir William Stevenson from the introduction to his book, A Man Called Intrepid. He wrote, “Perhaps a day will dawn when tyrants can no longer threaten the liberty of any people. When the function of all nations, however varied their ideologies, will be to enhance life, not to control it. If such a condition is possible, it is in a future to far distant to foresee. Until that safer, better day, the democracies will avoid disaster and possibly total destruction only by maintaining their defense.” Stevenson continued, “Safeguards to prevent abuse must be devised, revised, and rigidly applied, but as in all enterprises, the character and wisdom of those to whom it is entrusted will be decisive. In the integrity of that guardianship lies the hope of free people to endure and to prevail.” Thank you very much.
Fri, 7 September 2012
West Philadelphia's community radio station WPEB 88.1 FM presents Radio Against Apartheid, amplifying voices for justice and equality in the Middle East.
On this week's episode of Radio Against Apartheid, DJ Ev and Matt Graber are proud to feature an interview with peace activist Kathy Kelly. She returned on August 9 from a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, where she works with Afghan Peace Volunteers as co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Kathy draws on a lifetime dedicated to advocating for justice and peace across the globe to provide insight on the situation in Afghanistan. Why are we there? How do we get out?
She tells the heart-breaking details of what life is like for the people of Afghanistan after their country has witnessed almost 40 years of foreign military invasions.
[Kabul] is a very hard city for children. It was so cold in the winter in Afghanistan. There were one hundred recorded deaths of children under five who froze to death. Twenty-six children in Kabul froze to death, and many were infants. They never knew a day of warmth, some of them, in their entire life. Eight of them were children in one particular refugee camp that I visited, a wretched, squalid place. There are four hundred new refugees every single day in Afghanistan.
On the motive for the United States government spending $2 billion per week on the war in Afghanistan:
Matt: Afghanistan is rich in mineral resources, and the United States Department of Defense is partnering with the US Geological Survey and the Afghan government to explore and exploit mineral resources.
Kathy: I think that's exactly the thread that helps us connect the dots because once you would extract the minerals that are under the ground, or the fossil fuels or the natural gas that surround the Caspian Sea basin way up in the north around the Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan area, then how are you going to transport those minerals? How are you going to transport the fuel?
So the United States and the NATO countries in 2010, when they held their NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, were exalted - they were high-fiving each other - because the Asia Development Bank said it would underwrite - it would guarantee - the payment of expenses for a pipeline that would go from those 'Stans - Uzbekistan, Tajikistan - across Afghanistan, across Pakistan and in to India. Well, whoever builds the pipeline - and the United States would have more than half the shares - could then control the price of the product (whether its natural gas or fossil fuel) and the flow of the product. It isn't that they want to bring the natural gas and fossil fuels in to our gas tanks here. Its that they want to control the price that the neighbors in Russia, or in China, or possibly Iran or Pakistan, would pay. So that economically in the United States would have an advantage over other countries.
Those aren't our resources - they belong to Afghanistan! But if we build the pipeline, if we build the roads that would extract and transport the underground minerals, then we get to have a big say in how much anybody else would have to pay to have a share in that wealth.
And so when we ask ourselves, "Why? Why have we stayed at war in Afghanistan from 2001? Its the worst country into which a child can be born. They've got 36% unemployment. One in every eleven mothers dies in childbirth. Why are we there with our huge war and our military sprawling all over the country?"
I don't think its to protect women and children from the Taliban. When we pay now to truck supplies to the United States' bases - there are 450 forward operating bases and three main bases - the United States is paying billions of dollars to the warlords who now control these roads. And so we're actually helping the Taliban in doing that.
On the drone program and military operations of the United States and NATO:
They call them planes without pilots, and its very fearful for people, particularly in areas closer to the border of Pakistan. I know one young woman, Fazillah, is a widow now, and her baby is five years old now. But when the child was just an infant, her husband, a student, who was in a garden with four other students, and all of a sudden drones flew over head and one drone was weaponized. And it fired hellfire missiles into the garden and instantly dismembered all five students. And she said - she has such as a big heart - she said, "Kathy, I never want this carnage to happen to anyone else ever again. And I don't know how to tell my son [his father] was killed by a computer." What had he done, the father?
But her mother-in-law is in a white hot rage. And she says, "They don't ask, 'Who was this? What was that?' We went and we tried to find out, "Why did you kill our son?' And we are told, 'There were doubts. There were suspicions."
And she knows that this is wrong, that you can't on a doubt or a suspicion, without ever questioning some one, just quickly assassinate them. But that's what happens with the drone warfare. And it will cause proliferation, and it will surely create huge desire for revenge and retaliation among many many people. The drones, the night raids, the air attacks using combat brigade unit helicopters, the most menacing airborne weapon the United States has. These have flown over mountain sides and gunned down shepherds grazing their flocks. And then people in Afghanistan are told that these drones have superior surveillance, and can detect exactly where the footprints are that Taliban fighters might leave. Well, can't they tell the difference between a shepherd grazing his flock who is twelve years old, or children scavenging for metal on a mountainside? You know, these generals have had to apologize again and again and again. It must weigh heavily on their hearts. And I think any soldier involved in these brutal night raids likewise comes back confused and very disoriented.
Despite describing the bleak picture of Afghanistan today, after nearly 40 consecutive years of war in the country and twelve years of a US-led war, Kathy has hope for the people of Afghanistan through efforts led by the Afghan Peace Volunteers. She knows that the United States can and must end the war, pay reparations to the people of Afghanistan, and rebuild the country.
Kathy, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and the Afghan Peace Volunteers are asking for two millions friends to connect with them ahead of Global Human Rights Day, December 10.
Will you join Kathy, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, DJ Ev, Matt, and others, and sign on to the 'Two Million Friends for Peace in Afghanistan' campaign?
We can heal, but we need your help.
- At the Democratic National Convention: How the Israel lobby - AIPAC - undermined democracy and the Democratic Party to declare Party recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
- Nineteen year-old Palestinian man burns himself to death, protesting insufferable conditions in Gaza.
- "With Gaza and the Occupied Territories facing an unprecedented, Israeli-made water crisis that could soon make life unlivable, The Middle East Children's Alliance has launched a Thirsting for Justice Campaign" - "Most Palestinians live on 24 liters, 6.3 gallons a day."
- As President Obama avoids answering questions regarding his "Kill List" while on the campaign trail, a US drone strike kills 13 civilians over the weekend in Yemen.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa continues to speak up and speak out for righteousness and justice. He has withdrawn attendance from an event in South Africa because Tony Blair was there, and called for former US President George W. Bush and Tony Blair to both be indicted in the Hague for War Crimes in Iraq. Then, at an event in Cape Town, Tutu regaled the deplorable conditions today in South Africa for millions living in poverty.
- Palestinian prisoners continue their inspirational hunger strikes inside of Israeli prisons. Samer Al Barq, Hassan Safadi, and Ayman Sharawna continue their hunger strikes, at 108 days, 78 days, and 68 days, respectively. Amnesty International is calling for Israel to immediately release or hospitalize the prisoners before the die from starvation.
Please take action - Tweet, Write, Call, Facebook, and anything else - to save the lives of the Palestinian hunger strikers.
- Lebanon's internationally acclaimed Mashrou Leila cancels their show in Beirut with Red Hot Chili Peppers in support of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel.