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HEROIN, CASH & PLASTIC BAGS: AMERICA’S MESS IN AFGHANISTAN.

If the lawlessness, poverty, and endemic corruption of Afghanistan are indicative of anything, it is that the multi-billion dollar efforts to restore stability in the region have been an abject failure.

As the scheduled 2014 reduction of American-led NATO troops moves closer, the occupying forces leave behind a state where none of their initial goals have been realized.    MONEY - ON FIRE

The Afghan central government is weak and hopelessly corrupt, the national armed forces are disorganized and resentful of foreign presence, the Taliban still wield notable influence, women remain extremely marginalized, Afghans are trapped in abject poverty, and the occupiers themselves continue to shoulder the responsibility for heavy civilian causalities.

Tens of billions have been poured into Afghanistan over the past decade, but the fact is that official figures of aid and financial resources spent in the country on paper do not come close to what was actually doled out to US proxies.

Reports confirm that tens of millions of US dollars in cash were delivered by the CIA in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai since his installation in 2004.

The report states that the ‘ghost money’ paid to Karzai’s office was not subject to oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid or the CIA’s formal assistance programs, and much of it went to “warlords and politicians, many with ties to the drug trade and in some cases the Taliban.”

The report also cites an anonymous US official who claimed, “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.” These revelations should not only raise the eyebrows of US taxpayers – the disingenuous reality of American funds finding their way into the pockets of the Taliban should raise blood pressures.

Karzai issued statements confirming the allegations, but insisted that the funds given were “small” and “used for good causes,” such as helping wounded civilians and paying house rents. If these assertions were true, there is no reason why such money would need to travel through covert channels, thus preventing any form of accountability toward appropriation of those funds.

Karzai’s retort seems more like nervous obfuscation rather than a genuine explanation; he also fails to address allegations that the money was used to fuel rampant corruption.

Even with all the financial resources at Karzai’s disposal, the situation on the ground suggests that the enormous application of funds to social development projects have been poorly implemented.Americans were told that the occupation of Afghanistan was supposed to bring stability and democracy to the country, and despite the presence of international aid groups, the dolling out tens of millions of covert CIA funds (for ‘good purposes’ of course), over $3.5 billion in humanitarian funds and over $58 billion in development assistance, Afghanistan has the world’s third highest infant mortality rate and the country faces vast humanitarian challenges.

The misuse and embezzlement of development funds have left the rural majority with little option but to cultivate poppy, creating the world’s first economy dependent on the production of a single illicit drug.

WHAT GOOD CAUSES DON’T SEE

Afghanistan’s status as a narco-state isn’t simply attributable to the poor application of development aid – US-NATO forces have themselves created conditions by propping up local proxies and warlords with drug money.

From the opium-fueled CIA covert warfare of the 1980s and ’90s and since the US intervention in 2001, Washington has tolerated, enabled, and profited from drug trafficking by its Afghan allies, empowering an increasing resurgence of the Taliban in large swathes of the Afghan countryside.

Washington spent some $22 billion on Afghanistan from 2003 to 2007, mostly on military operations and preparing for their withdrawal, with only a paltry $237 million designated for agriculture. Afghanistan provides the prime ingredient for over 90 per cent of the world’s heroin supply and in recent years has emerged as one of the biggest producers of refined products as hundreds of heroin labs sprout up under the watch of NATO and the US.

The continued neglect of rural and agricultural development has made the task of dismantling the narco-state nothing sort of insurmountable.

Although the Taliban is often credited as the main benefactor of the opium trade, there is reason to believe that the Karzai government and its affiliates have been the more substantially advantaged by illicit funds. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2009 report, titled “Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium,”estimates that only 10-15 per cent of Taliban funding is drawn from drugs and 85 per cent comes from non-opium sources.

The report claims that of the $3.4 billion annually garnered from the drug trade, the Taliban only gets its hands on a mere 4 per cent of that total, while farmers reap 21 per cent. The majority of the drug profits end up in the hands of militias, warlords, and political kingpins supported by the US and NATO to offset the influence of the Taliban – not to mention the fact that most of the funds end up in the formal international banking system.on April 29, 2013.

The empowerment of local proxies has enabled them to tax and protect opium traffickers and expand refineries, which led to the speedy resumption of opium production after the ban imposed by the Taliban in 2000 – and today, heroin production in Afghanistan increased 40 times since the US invasion in 2001.

Although totally outrageous, the institutional corruption and explosion in the drug trade that has occurred under the watch of US-NATO forces is hardly surprising from an occupation force that is criminal from the top down.

Where the CIA is appeasing the Afghan leadership with sacks of US dollars, testosterone-filled American soldiers make a of mockery their country by urinating on Afghan corpses, burning Korans, and massacring unarmed civilians, as seen in the famous case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Don’t expect any high-ranking US or NATO official to be made answerable for these continued acts of wrongdoing. Washington is preparing to walk away, and Afghanistan looks much the same as it did after the Soviet-Mujahideen episode in the early ’90s – a ravaged country with mass instability, no infrastructure to speak of, an economy in disarray, and colorful cast of armed-characters who may seek to control Kabul after the withdrawal.

CLEANING UP

Even after the formal conclusion of international stabilization efforts, a sizable amount of US troops will remain in the country after 2014, something Russia has opposed out of concern that Afghanistan could be used as a military springboard targeting other countries in the region.

The emphasis has now shifted to equipping and training the Afghan National Army and the notoriously corrupt Afghan National Police forces, so as to enable them independently to counter terrorism and drug-related crime.

Considering the track record of the occupying forces and the distrust of Americans held by Afghan forces, there is a low probability that these efforts will succeed. The assaults on US troops by US-trained Afghan security forces reflect the discord on the ground, and the difficulty of the task at hand. Karzai has vowed to step down as Afghanistan’s sole post-Taliban head of state, with no clear successor in place, who will occupy the Presidential Palace after the April 2014presidential ballot?

Whoever takes the helm has a tremendous task ahead of them; failure to exert control over lawless provinces could see the country fall into civil war and balkanize into warlord-led territories. Afghanistan’s rural economy once flourished with orchards and food crops, and had the occupation not been an exercise in plunder and embezzlement, international aid could have developed rural infrastructure and given rise to alternative non-illicit crops. Even the cost of Obama’s 30,000-soldier surge at $30 billion per year could have developed rural areas and stifled the influence of the Taliban if meaningfully implemented, but of course, that was never the plan.

The post-2014 administration faces grave instability if it fails to boldly clean up the system, and continued US drone warfare will ensure sustained militancy as family members of victims killed in drone attacks join the Taliban and extremist groups seeking retribution.

Mirroring the situation in Iraq, US-led forces will leave behind a regime that will likely be privy to Iranian influence. China will also play a more significant role in Afghan stabilization efforts after 2014. Beijing and Kabul cut a deal in September 2012 that would see China replace NATO in the training, funding and arming the 149,000-strong Afghan police as part of increased Sino-Afghan cooperation in combating regional terrorism.

China would be greatly disadvantaged if Afghanistan fragmented into a hub for international terrorism, which would increase security concerns in its western Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, an area already vulnerable to destabilization. The dragon is set to replace the eagle as Beijing is increasing its involvement in the Afghan economy through multi-billion dollar Chinese projects.

Stabilization efforts are a lot to shoulder – the Chinese approach would be incremental and bare little similarity to the model employed by the Americans.

There may be grounds for restrained optimism in thinking about Afghanistan’s future if Beijing succeeds where Washington has failed by proving to be a less-parasitic partner in development and stabilization.

http://rt.com/op-edge/afghanistan-corruption-failure-stability-835/

 

 

 

 

 

Fab/MONEY – ON FIRE

UK QUEEN IN DEPLETED URANIUM TRADE – HER FORTUNE IS £17 TRILLION.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is one of the richest women on earth and much of her profits are from arms trade including the notorious depleted uranium trade.   WAR - QUEEN

The British monarch has managed to increase her wealth from £300 million early in her 60-year reign to £17 billion at present thanks to investments in arms firms that produce uranium used in depleted uranium (DU) shells, including Rio Tinto Zinc. DU shells are notorious for their ability to pierce armor and kill targets due to their deadly radioactive features.

The video cites the American nuclear radiation expert Jay M. Gould as saying in his 1996 book titled “The Enemy Within: the High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors” that the British “royal” family, especially the Queen herself, privately own investments in uranium holding worth some £4 billion through Rio Tinto Zinc.

The mining company, originally named Rio Tinto Mines, was allegedly created for the British “royal” family in the late 1950’s by Ronald Walter Rowland, the Queen’s “buccaneer”.

The video argues that the Queen and other “royals” have been investing in the death trade of depleted uranium globally with little ethical concerns for the consequences of their profiteering.
DU weapons were first used by the US military during the first Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1991.

The US Defense Ministry estimated that between 315 and 350 tons of DU bombs, shells and bullets were fired during the conflict

There are allegations that American and British troops used more than five times as many such weapons as the total number used in the 1991 war in Iraq. The US has confirmed the use of depleted uranium in both wars but refuses to disclose the scale of the use.

– See more at: http://humansarefree.com/2014/01/uk-queen-in-depleted-uranium-trade-her.html#sthash.CJ4wTnWr.dpuf

 

 

Fab/War – Queen

DEFENDING IMF FINANCIAL TERRORISM

8.4.13 / FAB/IMF – INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

Defending IMF Financial Terrorism

On March 29, New York Times editors headlined “Strengthening the IMF.” What demands abolition, they support. It doesn’t surprise.Longstanding Times policy supports wealth, power and privilege. Populist interests are spurned. Unmet human needs are ignored. Managed news misinformation is featured. Wrong over right is endorsed. It’s been so from inception.

Times editors admit IMF policies aren’t widely loved. It “forced countries in financial distress to adopt counterproductive austerity policies, and it failed to anticipate the financial crisis.”

No matter. It “helped stabilize the global economy, most recently by providing loans to troubled European countries like Greece and Ireland.” It’s “the world’s primary defense against global financial disasters.”

“Increasing the fund’s resources will ensure that it can respond quickly to another wave of turmoil in Europe or elsewhere that would inevitably hurt the American economy.”

It’s hard imagining more twisted thinking.

Times editors endorse doubling the fund’s capital. Doing so assures twice as much damage. IMF policies reflect financial terrorism. Abolish the fund now and end it.

It’s hugely exploitive. It’s the loan shark of last resort. It makes neighborhood ones look saintly by comparison. It doesn’t solve problems. It exacerbates existing ones. It creates new ones. It debt entraps nations. Bondage suffocates them.

Public wealth shifts to private hands. Western bankers and other corporate favorites profit hugely. Ordinary people suffer.

Indebted nations are obligated to take new loans. They’re needed them to service old ones. Doing so increases indebtedness. Structural adjustment harshness follows. It’s force-fed. Debtor nations have no choice. IMF diktats demand:

  • privatizing state enterprises;
  • selling them at a fraction of their real worth;
  • mass layoffs;
  • deregulation;
  • deep social spending cuts;
  • wage freezes or cuts;
  • unrestricted free market access for Western corporations;
  • corporate-friendly tax cuts;
  • tax increases for working households;
  • trade unionism crushed or marginalized; and
  • harsh repression against non-believers.

Democratic values don’t matter. Human needs go begging. Countries forfeit their material wealth and resources. Freedom’s lost. A race to the bottom follows.

Workers become serfs. Economies are financialized into debt bondage. Doing so transforms them into dystopian backwaters.

IMF shock therapy takes no prisoners. Debt service overrides national sovereignty. Poverty, unemployment and deprivation follow. Numerous examples explain.

Chileans under Pinochet suffered. Inflation skyrocketed. Unemployment exceeded 20%. About 45% of Chileans became impoverished. Output fell 12.9%. Cheap imports flooded the country. Social safety net protections ended.

Trade unionist crackdowns became policy. Local businesses closed. Severe repression targeted non-believers. Democracy under Allende died. Wealth shifted up to the top. Much of Chile’s middle class disappeared.

Out-of-control corruption and cronyism replaced it. For privileged insiders, Chilean society was paradise. Most others suffered Great Depression deprivation.

Chile’s model spread cross border. Through the early 1990s, Latin American debt rose exponentially. In 1980, it was $110 billion. In 1992, it reached $473 billion. Interest payment grew from $6.4 billion to $18.3 billion. That’s how debt entrapment works.

Worker livelihoods, health and welfare suffer. Those likely enough to have jobs endure low-income to sub-poverty wages. Foreign predators profit enormously. They do so on human misery.

IMF diktats facilitate it. Pain replaces prosperity. Nations are strip-mined for profit. Millions of jobs are lost. Western brands replace local ones.

IMF policy statements don’t explain. They perpetuate the myth about helping as a lender of last resort. Loans come with strings. Force-fed austerity follows.

Debt service matters most. Banker bottom line priorities override national sovereignty. Worker gains disappear. Ordinary people suffer hugely.

Human welfare and economies are sacrificed on the alter of paying bankers first. That’s how predatory IMF diktats work. Don’t expect New York Times editors to explain.

According to Paul Craig Roberts, IMF loans don’t help world economies. They shield “private banks from their own mistakes at the expense of the world economy.”

IMF policy mandates stabilizing exchange rates linked to the dollar and bridging temporary payment imbalances. Article I of its Articles of Agreement says it lends:

to give confidence to members by making the general resources of the Fund temporarily available to them under adequate safeguards, thus providing them with opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity.

It claims it provides loans to reduce poverty and increase economic development. “In difficult economic times,” it says, it “helps countries to protect the most vulnerable in a crisis.”

It never operated as mandated. Its policies are polar opposite. They’re ruthlessly exploitative. They’ve been that way from inception.

During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Pat Buchanan urged “No more Bailouts – Abolish the IMF.”

Asia’s crisis was “man-made, the work of corrupt and incompetent political elites, crony capitalists and idiot-investors who deserted their own countries to chase hot profits in Asia.”

IMF bailouts “put Western taxpayers on the hook for $100 billion.”

“The Global Economy is like a high-stakes poker game, where the big players pocket their winnings, while the “house” – i.e., the taxpayers – makes good their losses at the end of a bad night.”

“(A)bolish the IMF.”

Conservative economist Steve Hanke agrees. IMF “policies don’t generate prosperity or alleviate poverty,” he says.

“The only cure for the IMF’s ills is to pull the plug on that international bureaucracy.”

Global Exchange co-founder Kevin Danaher urges abolishing the IMF and World Bank. His book 10 Reasons to Abolish the IMF & World Bankexplains why.

It covers “globalization for dummies.” It exposes common myths. It urges ending decades of predatory injustice. It gives 10 reasons why.

(1) Mandates were violated. Promises made were broken. The “rising tide that (lifts) all boats” never happened. Free-market diktats “demonstrably and significantly increased inequality.”

(2)  GDP inaccurately measures economic wellbeing. People matter more. Their needs are ignored. IMF/WB diktats mandate it.

(3) Free-trade isn’t fair. Unelected technocrats run things. Government officials are pressured, bullied and bribed to go along. They do so for benefits they derive.

(4) Unelected IMF/WB/WTO policy makers are interlinked. Conflicts of interest corrupt them. Monied interests control them. Checks and balances are absent. Public scrutiny’s avoided.

(5) Force-fed austerity causes enormous harm. No “success stories” exist.

(6) Real ones “achieved relatively high economic growth through extensive state involvement….”

Measures include “land reform, tight control of trade, state enterprises, government-funded research and infrastructure, high tariff barriers to protect infant industries from foreign competition, and favoring certain sectors of the economy through subsidies and state-directed investment.”

(7) Predatory capitalism’s environmentally destructive. Ecological sustainability becomes impossible.

(8) Wealthy nations lose out. America “suffered the decimation of our manufacturing sector, declining average wages, growing inequality, an increase in the average work week, a ballooning deficit in the US balance of trade, and a growing mountain of debt (government debt, consumer debt, corporate debt).”

(9) Predatory capitalism’s “ethically bankrupt.” Profits alone matter. Human needs go begging.

(10) Popular resistance shows promise. Global justice supporters demand change. Responsible alternatives exist. It’s high time mass activism demanded them.

It’s way past time predatory international lending agencies were abolished. Saving humanity depends on it.