Wednesday 19th of June 2024

another paver in hell...

 The former Australian SAS soldier is suing three newspapers who have accused him of various atrocities during his tour of duty. Whether the allegations are true or not, what has become clear is the conflict was a huge mistake.  

The sensational Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial resumed in Sydney this week, after a month- long delay caused by a serious Covid-19 outbreak that forced the city, together with large parts of Australia, into lockdown.

During the break the last contingent of Australian troops was withdrawn from Afghanistan – thereby ending Australia’s misguided involvement in a war foolishly initiated by the United States of America two decades ago. 


By Graham Hryce, an Australian journalist and former media lawyer, whose work has been published in The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Sunday Mail, the Spectator and Quadrant.


Predictably, most media organisations in Australia have criticised the troop withdrawal (which slavishly followed President Biden’s recent announcement that all American troops would be pulled out by the end of August) and the current resurgence of the Taliban – notwithstanding that America’s defeat and the re-emergence of the Taliban were inevitable. 

In its own way, the Roberts-Smith trial has highlighted the pointlessness and horror of the West’s ill-fated military intrusion into Afghanistan. 

The evidence given this week by three Afghan eyewitnesses will be crucial to the outcome of the case – the much-decorated war hero will find it difficult to win his action if the testimony of these witnesses is believed by the trial judge. 

The three Afghan witnesses are testifying on behalf of the newspapers that alleged that Roberts-Smith had committed numerous atrocities while serving in Afghanistan. 

The evidence of the witnesses this week – given via video link from Kabul – has been dramatic, detailed, and damning of Roberts-Smith and the Australian SAS soldiers who served with him in Afghanistan. 

The first witness, Mohammed Hanifa Fatih, an Afghan farmer, told the court that he and his family had come under fire from Australian SAS troops when they invaded the small village of Darwan in September 2012. The soldiers were looking for a Taliban operative who had recently killed three Australian soldiers. 

He said that he and his uncle, Ali Jan, were captured and handcuffed, and that a “big soldier” (Roberts-Smith is well over six feet tall, and has been described previously in evidence as “a tall imposing warrior like figure”) had punched and kicked them while interrogating them. “He then took out a pistol and put it to my throat” Hanifa said. 

The “big soldier” then kicked his uncle over a cliff and Hanifa heard gunshots. Hanifa said that he later found his uncle’s body in a nearby orchard with gunshot wounds to the face and stomach. 

Hanifa testified that he saw Australian soldiers plant a radio on his uncle’s body. “By God, he had nothing with him. He had no equipment with him... they put those things on him” he said. 

Hanifa told the court that he and his uncle were definitely not members of the Taliban. “No, nothing like that,” he said. 

The witness was cross-examined by Bruce McClintock SC, counsel for Roberts-Smith, who accused him of making up his evidence, alleging that his testimony was “completely untrue.” Hanifa strenuously denied this. “I am explaining what I saw with my own eyes,” he told McClintock.

He admitted that he regarded Australian soldiers as “infidels” and that he “disliked” them – understandably, perhaps, if his evidence is to be believed.

He also admitted that the newspaper defendants had paid his rent and bought food for him and his family but denied that he was seeking compensation from the Afghan government. 

Hanifa dramatically ended his appearance by saying “I am not afraid of anything, even if I die I will tell the truth.” 

The second witness, Man Gul, another Afghan farmer, also gave evidence about what occurred during the Darwan village raid. 

He told the court that he was detained by Australian troops when they entered the village, was hit with a pistol while he was being interrogated and assaulted by “the big soldier.”

Gul testified that he saw Hanifa and Ali Jan being taken away by soldiers and then heard gunshots. He said that Ali Jan was definitely not a member of the Taliban. 

After the soldiers had left, he said he saw Ali Jan’s body, which had gunshot wounds to the head and stomach. Shown a photograph of a body, he identified it as Ali Jan. 

He also testified that Ali Jan was not carrying a radio on the day in question. 

Gul told the court that he believed that Australian soldiers had “killed innocent people and martyred them all.” 

Under cross-examination, Gul agreed that he “hated” Australian soldiers and regarded them as “infidels” – again, understandably perhaps in the circumstances. He denied making a claim for compensation in respect of the Darwan raid.

The third witness, Shahzad Aka, another Darwan farmer, told the court that he was in the village when Australian SAS troops arrived by helicopter in September 2012. 

He testified that Hanifa and Ali Jan were handcuffed by the soldiers, and that he saw “the big soldier” kick Ali Jan into a riverbed. He then heard gunshots. 

After the Australian troops departed, he said he saw Ali Jan’s body in a cornfield and that he had been shot in the jaw, chest and arm. “Soldiers came and they got him martyred” he said. Aka was shown a photograph of a body and identified it as that of Ali Jan. 

Like the other two witnesses, Aka denied making up his evidence.   

Roberts-Smith has already given evidence denying that he committed any atrocities in Afghanistan, and that he was not directly involved in the killing of Ali Jan at Darwan. He testified that the person killed was not Ali Jan, but rather a Taliban “spotter” in possession of a radio.   

It is all very well for Roberts-Smith’s lawyers to claim that the three Afghan witnesses who testified this week fabricated their evidence – but these witnesses would seem to have no compelling reason for lying. After all, they owe nothing to the newspapers that Roberts-Smith is suing.

In fact, the evidence given by each of the witnesses was perfectly consistent and quite believable, and they all withstood rigorous cross-examination well. 

When the trial resumes, the defendants will lead evidence from 23 Australian soldiers who served in Afghanistan, who are expected to confirm the accounts of the Darwan atrocity given by the three Afghan witnesses this week, as well as giving evidence about other incidents involving Roberts-Smith. 

If even some of these soldiers are believed, Roberts-Smith will find himself in serious difficulty. 

Because of the continuing Covid-19 lockdown in Sydney the trial is likely to be adjourned until November. 

And, quite aside from the Roberts-Smith defamation case, the Australian military establishment faces further embarrassment as a result of recent press reports that the Office of Special Investigator – a body established by Prime Minister Morrison to prosecute Australian soldiers identified in the Brereton Report as having possibly committed war crimes in Afghanistan – is investigating allegations that a rogue “kill squad” murdered unarmed civilians in Afghanistan. 

Whatever the outcome of Roberts-Smith’s defamation case and these further investigations, it is already perfectly clear that Australia’s foolhardy military involvement in Afghanistan was nothing less than a complete and utter debacle.


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the conspiracy core...

2001 : The Moult of the American Empire


by Thierry Meyssan


We begin the publication of the last part of Thierry Meyssan’s book, “Before Our Very Eyes”. He rereads the history of the American Empire. In this episode he comes back to the attacks of September 11 as the seizure of Power by the direct descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers against the descendants of the authors of the Bill of Rights.



The « Arab Springs » organised by

Washington and London


When the Soviet Union collapsed, the US elite believed that a period of commerce and prosperity would follow the Cold War. However, a section of the military-industrial complex imposed rearmament in 1995, followed by a very aggressive imperialist policy in 2001. This faction, which identifies itself with the « Continuity of Government » group, stood ready to take over power in case of the destruction of elected institutions. It prepared the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in advance, although they were not launched until after September 11, 2001. Faced with its military failure in Iraq and the impossibility of attacking Iran, this group changed its strategy. It adopted the British project of overthrowing the secular régimes of the Greater Middle East and remodeling the region into small states administered by the Muslim Brotherhood.


Progressively, it took control of NATO, the European Union and the UNO. It was only several millions of deaths and trillions of dollars later that it was challenged in the United States by the election of Donald Trump, and in France by François Fillon.



US Supremacy


When the Second World War ended, the United States was the only victorious nation that had not experienced war on its own soil. Profiting from its advantage, Washington chose to succeed London in the control of its Empire, and to enter into conflict with Moscow. Over the next 44 years, a Cold War followed the real war. When the Soviet Union began to fall apart, President George H. Bush Sr. decided that it was time to do business. He began to scale down his armies, and ordered a revision of foreign policy and military doctrine.


Washington then claimed, in its publication « National Security Strategy of the United States », (1991) that « The United States remains the only state with genuinely global strength, range and influence in all dimensions - political, economic and military. There is no substitute for American leadership ».


President George H. Bush (the father) pushed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait so that he could present himself as a defender of international law. He then encouraged the major states to sign up under his banner, so that Washington could assert its dominance in the world.


This is why they reorganised the world during operation « Desert Storm » - they pressured their Kuwaiti ally to steal Iraqi oil, and at the same time, to demand arrears on the reimbursement of Iraq’s allegedly free aid against Iran. Next they encouraged their Iraqi ally to resolve the problem by annexing Kuwait, which had been arbitrarily carved out by the British 30 years earlier. Finally, they invited every state on the planet to support them - instead of the United Nations - in the reaffirmation of international law.


But since the two empires were propped up one against the other, the disappearance of the USSR ought logically to have brought about the fall of the other super-power, the United States. In order to prevent its collapse, the US parliamentarians forced President Bill Clinton to rearm in 1995. The armed forces, which had just demobilized a million men, began to rearm, although at that time they had no enemy who could equal them. The dream of Bush Sr. of a unipolar world led by United States business gave way to an insane chase to hold onto the imperial project.

Since the dissolution of the USSR, US domination of the world has been imposed through four wars which were waged without the approval of the United Nations - in Yugoslavia (1995 and 1999), in Afghanistan (2002), in Iraq (2003) and in Libya (2011). This period came to an end with the ten Chinese and 16 Russian vetos at the UN Security Council, which explicitly forbade open conflict with Syria.


The Gulf War had hardly ended when Republican George H. Bush Sr. asked his defence secretary, Dick Cheney who relayed the orer to Paul Wolfowitz, to write the Defense Policy Guidance [1] (this was a classified document, but extracts were published by the New York Times and the Washington Post [2]). This militant Trotskyist and future Assistant Secretary for Defense, presented therin his theory concerning US supremacy.


« Our first objective », he wrote, « is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, whether on the territory of the former Soviet Union or anywhere, that could pose a threat similar to that formerly posed by the Soviet Union. This is the predominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy, and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Europe, the Far East, the territories of the ex-Soviet Union, and South-East Asia ».


There are three additional aspects to this objective:


 « Firstly, the U.S. must show the leadership necessary for establishing and protecting a new world order capable of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.


 Secondly, in non-defense areas, we must represent the interests of the advanced industrial nations efficiently enough to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order.


 Finally, we must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from aspiring to a larger regional or global role ».


The « Wolfowitz Doctrine » was supposed to prevent a new Cold War and guarantee the United States its place as the « world policeman ». President Bush Sr. massively demobilised his armies, because they were no longer to be anything more than a police force.


And yet what we saw was the opposite of that – first of all with the four wars mentioned above, as well as the war against Syria, then the war in Ukraine against Russia.


 It was in order to demonstrate the « necessary leadership » that Washington decided, in 2001, to take control of all the hydrocarbon reserves in the « Greater Middle East » - a decision that launched the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


 It was in order to « dissuade [their allies] from challenging [their] leadership », that it modified its plan in 2004 and decided to apply the British suggestions (1) to annex the non-recognised Russian states - starting with South Ossetia - and (2) to overthrow the secular Arab governments for the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood – the « Arab Springs ».


 Finally, it is in order to dissuade Russia from playing « a global role » that it is currently using the jihadists and ex-jihadists in Syria, in the Ukraine and in the Crimea.



To be implemented, the Wolfowitz Doctrine thus required not only financial and human means, but also a powerful a powerful hegemonic will. A group of political and military officials hoped to find their man by promoting the candidacy of the son of George Bush Sr. - George Bush Jr. This group asked the Kagan family to create a lobbying group within the American Enterprise Institute - the Project for a New American Century. They were obliged to falsify the Presidential election in Florida - with the help of Governor Jeb Bush, Jr.’s brother – in order to allow W to clamber into the White House. But well before that, the group was actively militant for the preparation of new wars of invasion, particularly in Iraq.


But the new President was not particularly obedient, which forced his supporters to organise a shock for public opinion, which they compared to a « New Pearl Harbor », on September 11, 2001.



The crash of September 11


Everyone thinks that they know about 9/11, and can quote from memory about the planes that hit the Twin Towers and the destruction of part of the Pentagon. But behind these events and their interpretation by the Bush administration, something quite different happened.

When two planes smashed into the World Trade Center, when the offices of the Vice-President were devastated by flames, and explosions were heard in the Pentagon, the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Richard Clarke, launched the procedure for « Continuity of Government » (CoG) [3]. Developed during the Cold War, in case of a nuclear confrontation and the decapitation of the centres of Executive and Legislative Power, this procedure was devised to save the country by handing over all responsibility to a provisional authority which had been secretly designated beforehand.


But on that day, none of the elected leaders died.


Nevertheless, by 10 a.m., George W. Bush was no longer President of the United States of America. The Executive Power was transferred from the White House in Washington to site « R », the Raven Rock Mountain bunker [4]. Units of the army and the Secret Services circulated in the capital, to collect and « protect » the members of Congress and their teams. Almost all of them were taken, « for their safety », to another mega-bunker close to the capital, the Greenbrier Complex.


Designed to receive all members of Congress, their teams and their families, the Greenbrier megabunker even includes a large room to hold the joint sessions of the two chambers ... under the protection of the continuity government.


The alternative government, whose composition had not changed for at least nine years, included – as if by a miraculous coincidence – several personalities who had been in politics for a long time, including Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary for Defense Donald Rumsfeld and ex-Director of the CIA, James Woolsey.


During the afternoon, Israëli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon interfered in the crisis and addressed the citizens of the United States, while no-one knew anything about the implementation of the Continuity of Government plan, and there was no news of George W. Bush. He declared the solidarity of his people, who had also been long a victim of terrorism. He spoke as if he was convinced that the attacks were over, but without indicating his sources, and as if he represented the American state.


Finally, at the end of the afternoon, the provisional government handed back executive power to President Bush, who made a televised speech, and the Congressional representatives were freed.

These are proven facts, and not the outlandish tales that the Bush administration concocted, with kamikaze warriors hatching a plot in an Afghani cave to destroy the greatest military power in the world.


In a book published thirty years earlier, destined to become the Republicans’ bedside book during the electoral campaign of 2000, Coup d’état - A Practical Handbook, historian Edward Luttwak explained that a coup d’état is all the more effective when no-one realizes that it has happened, and therefore do not oppose it [5] . He should also have added that in order for the legal government to obey the conspirators, it is necessary not only to maintain the illusion that the same team is in « Power », but for the conspirators to be part of it.


The decisions imposed by the provisional government on September 11 were approved by President Bush during the days that followed. Concerning the interior, the Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments of the Constitution - was suspended by the USA Patriot Act for all affairs of terrorism. Concerning exterior affairs, régime changes and wars were planned, both to hinder the development of China and to destroy all the state structures of the Greater Middle East.


President Bush held the Islamists responsible for the attacks of 9/11, and declared the « War on Terrorism » - an expression which sounds macho enough, but is nonetheless nonsensical. Indeed, terrorism is not a world power, but a method of action. Within a few years, the terrorism that Washington claimed to be fighting had increased 20-fold throughout the world. George W. Bush qualified this new conflict as an « Endless War ».


Four days later, President Bush presided an implausible meeting at Camp David, during which the principle was adopted for a long series of wars aimed at destroying all the as yet uncontrolled states in the « Greater Middle East », as well as a plan for political assassinations throughout the world. This project was named by the Director of the CIA, George Tenet - he called it the « Worldwide Attack Matrix ». This meeting was first mentioned by the Washington Post [6], then denied by the ex-Supreme Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark. By « Matrix », it is important to understand that this was only the initial phase of a much more far-reaching strategy...



Who governs the United States?


In order to understand the institutional crisis which was brewing, we have to take a step back.


The founding myth of the United States claims that a few Puritans, convinced of the impossibility of reforming the British Church and monarchy, decided to build a « New Jerusalem » in the Americas. In 1620, they sailed to the New World on board the Mayflower, where they gave thanks to God for having allowed them to cross the Red Sea (in fact, the Atlantic Ocean) and to escape the dictatorship of Pharaoh (the King of England). This is the origin of the feast of Thanksgiving.


The Puritans claimed to obey God by respecting both the teaching of Christ and the Jewish Law. They did not venerate the Gospels in particular, but the whole of the Bible. For them, the Old Testament was as important as the New. They practised an austere form of morality – they were persuaded that they had been chosen by God, and thus blessed by Him by means of their wealth. Consequently, they considered that no man can improve himself, whatever he does, and that Money is a gift reserved by God for His faithful.


This ideology has many consequences. For example, their refusal to organise a form of national solidarity (Social Security), replacing it with individual charity. Or again, in penal matters, by the belief that some people are born criminals, which led the Manhattan Institute to promote, laws which in many states punished repeat offenders with very heavy prison terms, even for minor infractions, like not having paid for a subway ticket.


Even though the national myth has by now mostly buried the fanaticism of the « Pilgrim Fathers », the truth remains that they set up a sectarian community, established corporal punishment, and obliged their women to wear veils. In fact, there are clearly many similarities between their way of life and that of contemporary Islamists.


The War of Independence unfolded at a time when the populations of the colonies had been profoundly modified. They no longer came exclusively from the British Isles, but now included Europeans from all over. The patriots who fought the King of England hoped to become masters of their own destiny, and create institutions which were both Republican and Democratic. It was for them that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, inspired by the Lumières movement in general and the philosopher John Locke in particular. However, after victory was won, it was a very different source which inspired the Constitution. This was founded on the Mayflower Pact, that is to say the Puritan ideology, and the wish to create institutions comparable to those of Great Britain, but without the element of hereditary nobility. This is why, rejecting popular sovereignty, it instituted the sovereignty of the governors of federal states. As such a system is absolutely unacceptable, it was immediately « balanced » by 10 constitutional amendments which form the Bill of Rights. The final text therefore reserves political responsibility for the elites of the federal states and gives citizens the right to defend themselves in court against the « Reason of State ».



By signing the "USA Patriot Act", President Bush Jr. rescinds the "Bill of Rights". Now, US citizens are no longer protected from the reason of state if they have become involved in terrorism.


By suspending the Bill of Rights in all affairs which may be connected to terrorism, the USA Patriot Act has dragged the Constitution two centuries in reverse. By depriving citizens of their legal rights, it has once again destabilized institutions. It has submitted Power to Puritan ideology and guaranteed only the rights of the elites of federal states.


Real estate developer Donald Trump is the only person to question, on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration’s version of the Twin Towers collapse. Keeping a cool head, he says that according to his engineers (who built the World Trade Center), airliners cannot have caused this destruction.


The coup d’état of September 11 split these elites into two groups, depending on whether they supported it or pretended to ignore it. The few personalities opposed to it, like Senator Paul Wellstone, have been physically eliminated. A few citizens chose to speak out nonetheless, notably two real estate billionaires. Thus, on the evening of September 11, Donald Trump contested what was becoming the official version on Channel 9 in New York. After having reminded his listeners that the engineers who built the Twin Towers had since joined his company, he considered it impossible that the collapse of such massive towers was due to the impact of planes (and fires) alone. He concluded that there had to be other factors involved which were as yet unknown. Another entrepreneur, Jimmy Walter, spent his fortune buying pages of publicity in the newspapers and distributing DVD’s to analyze the true causes of these destructions.


Over the next fifteen years, these two groups – the conspirators and the passive accomplices - although they were pursuing the same objective of interior and exterior domination – were to confront one another regularly, until both were apparently overthrown by a popular movement led by Donald Trump.


(To be continued).


Thierry Meyssan



Roger Lagassé

Pete Kimberley


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By Patrick E. Tyler

  • March 8, 1992


In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting stage, the Defense Department asserts that America's political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to insure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territory of the former Soviet Union.

A 46-page document that has been circulating at the highest levels of the Pentagon for weeks, and which Defense Secretary Dick Cheney expects to release later this month, states that part of the American mission will be "convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests."

The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy. Rejecting Collective Approach

To perpetuate this role, the United States "must sufficiently account for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order," the document states.

With its focus on this concept of benevolent domination by one power, the Pentagon document articulates the clearest rejection to date of collective internationalism, the strategy that emerged from World War II when the five victorious powers sought to form a United Nations that could mediate disputes and police outbreaks of violence.

Though the document is internal to the Pentagon and is not provided to Congress, its policy statements are developed in conjunction with the National Security Council and in consultation with the President or his senior national security advisers. Its drafting has been supervised by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the Pentagon's Under Secretary for Policy. Mr. Wolfowitz often represents the Pentagon on the Deputies Committee, which formulates policy in an interagency process dominated by the State and Defense departments.

The document was provided to The New York Times by an official who believes this post-cold-war strategy debate should be carried out in the public domain. It seems likely to provoke further debate in Congress and among America's allies about Washington's willingness to tolerate greater aspirations for regional leadership from a united Europe or from a more assertive Japan.

Together with its attachments on force levels required to insure America's predominant role, the policy draft is a detailed justification for the Bush Administration's "base force" proposal to support a 1.6-million-member military over the next five years, at a cost of about $1.2 trillion. Many Democrats in Congress have criticized the proposal as unnecessarily expensive.

Implicitly, the document foresees building a world security arrangement that pre-empts Germany and Japan from pursuing a course of substantial rearmament, especially nuclear armament, in the future.

In its opening paragraph, the policy document heralds the "less visible" victory at the end of the cold war, which it defines as "the integration of Germany and Japan into a U.S.-led system of collective security and the creation of a democratic 'zone of peace.' "

The continuation of this strategic goal explains the strong emphasis elsewhere in the document and in other Pentagon planning on using military force, if necessary, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in such countries as North Korea, Iraq, some of the successor republics to the Soviet Union and in Europe.

Nuclear proliferation, if unchecked by superpower action, could tempt Germany, Japan and other industrial powers to acquire nuclear weapons to deter attack from regional foes. This could start them down the road to global competition with the United States and, in a crisis over national interests, military rivalry.

The policy draft appears to be adjusting the role of the American nuclear arsenal in the new era, saying, "Our nuclear forces also provide an important deterrent hedge against the possibility of a revitalized or unforeseen global threat, while at the same time helping to deter third party use of weapons of mass destruction through the threat of retaliation." U.N. Action Ignored

The document is conspicuously devoid of references to collective action through the United Nations, which provided the mandate for the allied assault on Iraqi forces in Kuwait and which may soon be asked to provide a new mandate to force President Saddam Hussein to comply with his cease-fire obligations.

The draft notes that coalitions "hold considerable promise for promoting collective action" as in the Persian Gulf war, but that "we should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted, and in many cases carrying only general agreement over the objectives to be accomplished."

What is most important, it says, is "the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S." and "the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated" or in a crisis that demands quick response.

Bush Administration officials have been saying publicly for some time that they were willing to work within the framework of the United Nations, but that they reserve the option to act unilaterally or through selective coalitions, if necessary, to protect vital American interests.

But this publicly stated strategy did not rule out an eventual leveling of American power as world security stabilizes and as other nations place greater emphasis on collective international action through the United Nations.

In contrast, the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders "must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." Sent to Administrators

The document is known in Pentagon parlance as the Defense Planning Guidance, an internal Administration policy statement that is distributed to the military leaders and civilian Defense Department heads to instruct them on how to prepare their forces, budgets and strategy for the remainder of the decade. The policy guidance is typically prepared every two years, and the current draft will yield the first such document produced after the end of the cold war.

Senior Defense Department officials have said the document will be issued by Defense Secretary Cheney this month. According to a Feb. 18 memorandum from Mr. Wolfowitz's deputy, Dale A. Vesser, the policy guidance will be issued with a set of "illustrative" scenarios for possible future foreign conflicts that might draw United States military forces into combat.

These scenarios, issued separately to the military services on Feb. 4, were detailed in a New York Times article last month. They postulated regional wars against Iraq and North Korea, as well as a Russian assault on Lithuania and smaller military contingencies that United States forces might confront in the future.

These hypothetical conflicts, coupled with the policy guidance document, are meant to give military leaders specific information about the kinds of military threats they should be prepared to meet as they train and equip their forces. It is also intended to give them a coherent strategy framework in which to evaluate various force and training options. Fears of Proliferation

In assessing future threats, the document places great emphasis on how "the actual use of weapons of mass destruction, even in conflicts that otherwise do not directly engage U.S. interests, could spur further proliferation which in turn would threaten world order."

"The U.S. may be faced with the question of whether to take military steps to prevent the development or use of weapons of mass destruction," it states, noting that those steps could include pre-empting an impending attack with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons "or punishing the attackers or threatening punishment of aggressors through a variety of means," including attacks on the plants that manufacture such weapons.

Noting that the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is up for renewal in 1995, the document says, "should it fail, there could ensue a potentially radical destabilizing process" that would produce unspecified "critical challenges which the U.S. and concerned partners must be prepared to address."

The draft guidance warns that "both Cuba and North Korea seem to be entering periods of intense crisis -- primarily economic, but also political -- which may lead the governments involved to take actions that would otherwise seem irrational." It adds, "the same potential exists in China."

For the first time since the Defense Planning Guidance process was initiated to shape national security policy, the new draft states that the fragmentation of the former Soviet military establishment has eliminated the capacity for any successor power to wage global conventional war.

But the document qualifies its assessment, saying, "we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or effort to re-incorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus and possibly others."

It says that though U.S. nuclear targeting plans have changed "to account for welcome developments in states of the former Soviet Union," American strategic nuclear weapons will continue to target vital aspects of the former Soviet military establishment. The rationale for the continuation of this targeting policy is that the United States "must continue to hold at risk those assets and capabilities that current -- and future -- Russian leaders or other nuclear adversaries value most" because Russia will remain "the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States."

Until such time as the Russian nuclear arsenal has been rendered harmless, "we continue to face the possibility of robust strategic nuclear forces in the hands of those who might revert to closed, authoritarian, and hostile regimes," the document says. It calls for the "early introduction" of a global anti-missile system. Plan for Europe

In Europe, the Pentagon paper asserts that "a substantial American presence in Europe and continued cohesion within the Western alliance remain vital," but to avoid a competitive relationship from developing, "we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO."

The draft states that with the elimination of United States short-range nuclear weapons in Europe and similar weapons at sea, the United States should not contemplate any withdrawal of its nuclear-strike aircraft based in Europe and, in the event of a resurgent threat from Russia, "we should plan to defend against such a threat" farther forward on the territories of Eastern Europe "should there be an Alliance decision to do so."

This statement offers an explicit commitment to defend the former Warsaw Pact nations from Russia. It suggests that the United States could also consider extending to Eastern and Central European nations security commitments similar to those extended to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states along the Persian Gulf. And to help stabilize the economies and democratic development in Eastern Europe, the draft calls on the European Community to offer memberships to Eastern European countries as soon as possible.

In East Asia, the report says, the United States can draw down its forces further, but "we must maintain our status as a military power of the first magnitude in the area.

"This well enable the United States to continue to contribute to regional security and stability by acting as a balancing force and prevent the emergence of a vacuum or a regional hegemon." In addition, the draft warns that any precipitous withdrawal of United States military forces could provoke an unwanted response from Japan, and the document states, "we must also remain sensitive to the potentially destabilizing effects that enhanced roles on the part of our allies, particularly Japan but also possibly Korea, might produce."

In the event that peace negotiations between the two Koreas succeed, the draft recommends that the United States "should seek to maintain an alliance relationship with a unified democratic Korea."


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From DemocracyNow!

TranscriptThis is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. 

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.


We turn now to Afghanistan. The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency session today to discuss the ongoing crisis in the country. This comes as Taliban fighters are attempting to seize three provincial capitals: Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah. The Taliban has also taken responsibility for a major attack Tuesday outside the home of Afghanistan’s defense minister in Kabul that killed eight people, though not him. On Thursday, the European Union condemned the recent Taliban offensive and demanded, quote, “an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,” unquote. In recent days, the United States has stepped up airstrikes targeting the Taliban in an effort to support the Afghan miliitary. This all comes as the United States is on pace to withdraw its ground troops by the end of August.

We go now to Kabul, where we’re joined by the journalist Matthieu Aikins. He is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. In 2013, he won a Polk Award for exposing U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. He has a book coming out on refugees in February.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Matt. It’s great to have you back. Matthieu, if you could start off by describing the situation on the ground as, what, I believe the U.S. now says they’ve pulled out 95% of their troops?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Thank you, Amy. It’s always a pleasure.

Well, in the 13 years I’ve been working here, I’ve never seen the situation as grim. Kabul has been quiet for the last few months. That was shattered a couple days ago with this massive suicide attack. The provinces are falling to the Taliban. There’s a number of provincial capitals that are encircled. Just today, this afternoon, in fact, we had news that the Taliban have taken over Zaranj, which is the capital of Nimruz province in the southwest of the country. It’s a strategic province in terms of its borders with Iran and Pakistan. And the Taliban have entered the city. We are seeing images of that now, and it’s the first time that they’ve seized a provincial capital since the fall of Kunduz in 2015, when the government was able to take it back with U.S. help, including troops on the ground. So, it’s a very significant moment, and the bad news just seems to continue.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about who the Taliban are?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: The Taliban are a rurally based insurgency. I mean, at this point they’re setting up an alternative government to the Afghan state in their territories. They want to establish an Islamic system, an Islamic emirate. They claim to be fighting to be removing foreigners from their country, foreign troops, foreign occupation. So they call themselves the mujahideen, which is the same name, of course, that was used by fighters against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the areas of the country that they have control of, and talk about Kabul and also the significance of this latest attack that the Taliban has taken responsibility for outside the defense minister’s home.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, up until now, the Taliban have largely controlled rural areas. And that really has to do with a split between Afghanistan’s cities and its countryside. The cities have benefited a lot more from the last 20 years of foreign military and development presence, whereas the countryside, they’ve borne the brunt of the violence, and they haven’t really benefited as much from development. So, you’ve seen this rural-urban split. The Taliban have captured a lot of these districts.

Now they’re trying to encircle cities, and it’s going to be a much harder battle for them, because they have less support there, and the government now has fallen back upon its centers, where they have less problems about logistics. They’re also getting support from American airstrikes, which have been stepped up in recent days. I think one reason is because American troops are largely out of the country now, so there’s less targets for the Taliban to retaliate against. Instead, what they’re going to be doing is they’re going to be hitting the cities. They’re going to be hitting government targets in the cities, like the defense minister’s house, which was hit by a massive suicide bombing, as well as a member of Parliament next door. Apparently there was a hundred people meeting in that parliamentarian’s house, and it was, you know, very lucky that they were able to actually escape onto the roof, where there was a sort of bridge to a neighboring house. So only eight people were killed, but it could have been an incident with much higher casualties. And we’re likely to see more of that as the Taliban start to retaliate and bring pressure on the internationals and the government in response to these airstrikes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the U.N. is meeting now to deal with this issue. The U.N. warned, in a new report that civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 reached record levels, including a sharp increase in killings and injuries since May, when the international military forces started pulling out. “[W]ithout a significant de-escalation in violence,” the report says, “Afghanistan is on course for 2021 to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year” since the U.N. records began. So, can you talk also about the effect of the U.S. air attacks? They say they’re supporting the Afghan military. They’ve intensified recently. And are they going to end by the end of August?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, so far, the Biden administration has not said whether they’re going to end by the end of August. They’re reserving that right.

And these airstrikes are happening now inside of cities, because the Taliban are inside cities. They’re in the outskirts of many of these provincial capitals. So they’re striking buildings. They’re striking heavily populated areas, a lot of civilians, so there are undoubtedly going to be heavy civilian casualties as a result of this urban combat, also on the side of the Taliban, who are, after all, responsible for these offenses into cities. So, the blood of a lot of civilians are going to be on their hands, as well. The fact of the matter is, is if these provincial capitals fall, it might also be quite bloody. It’s a kind of a no-win situation, I think maybe similar to what the U.S. faced in Iraq, where airstrikes were necessary to hold back the advance of insurgents from capturing major cities.

But at the end of the day, there’s very little leverage that the international community or the U.S. has on the Taliban. We’ve been bombing them, assassinating them, sanctioning them for 20 years. So, as long as they’re winning, capturing territory, they have no incentive to come to the bargaining table. So, probably we’re going to see brutal, bloody fighting until there’s a stalemate of some sort that persuades both sides to talk. And I’m afraid we’re quite far away from that. And we’re going to see increased civilian casualties and also a massive wave of displacement. There’s going to be Afghan refugees who are going to be leaving, who are leaving already in heightened numbers for neighboring countries. And ultimately, some of them are going to try to reach Europe.

AMY GOODMAN: And what will happen with them?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, you know, it’s sad to say, because I covered the major wave of displacement of people who were crossing in rubber rafts across the Mediterranean in 2015, '16. They were walking across mountains and deserts to get there. And since that refugee crisis, what we've seen is these countries have actually hardened their borders. They’ve built fences. They’ve built walls. They’ve built concentration camps, with the support of the European Union, just like the U.S. has fortified its southern border. So, the way is going to be a lot harder, a lot more brutal for these people who are fleeing this disintegration of their country.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve reported extensively on U.S. war crimes committed in Afghanistan, in the longest U.S. war in history. Can you talk about the legacy of the U.S. invasion and what the United States military leaves in Afghanistan?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, I think the military was very focused on short-term solutions. You know, there was this adage that we didn’t fight, you know, a 20-year war; we fought 20 one-year wars. With each new troop rotation, people were looking to make solutions that would last to the end of deployment. So, it’s kind of no wonder that things are falling apart so quickly, because nothing was made to last really. And so, that’s one legacy.

The other is that there have been quite brutal human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings committed by Afghan security forces. In Kandahar right now, the Taliban have captured areas like Spin Boldak. They are definitely carrying out extrajudicial killings. There’s been evidence. I’ve heard that from my sources. Many of the people they’re targeting are former members of the government security forces, police belonging to General Abdul Raziq, a commander that I reported on, whose men were engaged in documented extrajudicial killings. So, this cycle of violence, this cycle of war crimes is continuing, it’s accelerating. And I fear that in the coming months and years that we’re going to see as a return to the kind of open, widespread massacres and violations of rights that we’ve seen in previous years during the civil war.

AMY GOODMAN: Although we say U.S. troops are out of Afghanistan within weeks, in fact, thousands of mercenaries will remain there, and other what the U.S. calls support staff. Is this war just going to become much more secret and much more — even less accountable than it is?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: I think that the U.S. role in this war is definitely going to become more secret and less accountable, because it’s going to be largely carried out by the CIA and special operation forces that are operating under secret, covert authorities. So we’re going to know less about it, certainly. And at the same time, though, I think that it’s going to become a much more of Afghan war. There’s not going to be the same presence that we had before. So, it’s very difficult to say what the U.S. will be doing, because we’re not going to have a lot of visibility on it. It’s going to be a much smaller role, but significant nonetheless. I mean, don’t forget that they’re bankrolling the Afghan government, paying their salaries. And without that, there would be an even faster collapse of the Afghan security forces.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think that the U.S. media — of the U.S. media portrayal of what’s happening in Afghanistan right now? What’s missing, Matthieu?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: I think that there is a lack of recognition that what we’re seeing now is the consequence of 20 years of bad decisions, of ignoring corruption, human rights abuses. And for all the violations of human rights, the murders, the massacres that the Taliban are undoubtedly carrying out, the violence that they’re inflicting on Afghan civilians, the suffering that their offensive is bringing, the threat that they’re going to pose to civil society activists, freedom of speech, media — all of which is absolutely real and very condemnable — it is the result of 20 years of violence inflicted on the Taliban in the rural areas, 20 years of interlacing the media and the civil rights, civil society here with this military presence, so that they’ve become kind of indistinguishable in the eyes of the Taliban. And so, what we’re seeing now is the result of two decades, and it’s going to be very difficult to turn that ship around. We’re going to be witnessing some very awful things, but we should try to keep the context in mind while still condemning them.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matthieu Aikins, I want to thank you very much for being with us, speaking to us from Kabul, Afghanistan, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine.


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a lesson from stan...


From Stan Grant


A decade ago I was on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, embedded with Pakistani troops in an offensive against Taliban fighters.

We were taken to one of the villages for what we were told was a "victory celebration" as the army claimed to have routed the militants. Much of the village had been destroyed in the fighting, but the locals had returned and turned out with flowers and local village leaders thanked the soldiers. 

As we pulled out, I noticed a group of men on the hillside watching us. They had weapons strapped across their backs and chests and several of them wore black turbans.

They certainly appeared to be Taliban fighters. I motioned to one of the soldiers in the back of our truck and he just shrugged as if to say, "don't worry about it".

It was a little lesson in the endless Afghanistan war: the battle may be over, but the conflict rages on — and the Taliban never goes away.

Fast forward and today the Taliban is resurgent, launching offensives across the country reclaiming territory. As American — and Australian — troops withdraw, the Taliban is claiming victory.

We should not be surprised. The Taliban was quickly ousted from power after the US-led invasion in October 2001, but it has remained resilient, falling back into local communities, its leadership escaping into Pakistan where it has continued to orchestrate its resistance. 


The rise of the Taliban

The Taliban was born of war, the orphans of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, raised in the madrassas — Islamic schools — that proliferated particularly in Pakistan during the 1980s and '90s.

The militants took their name from the Arabic word Talib — a seeker of knowledge.

These madrassas were funded by Arab states and American money siphoned off from aiding the Afghan war effort against the Soviet Red Army. At their peak, the Pakistan government estimated that up to two million children attended these schools. 


Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussein, who has devoted his career to reporting on the country's militant groups, says they developed links with international terrorism. 

In his book Frontline Pakistan, Hussein says that "the trail of international terror led to the madrassas and mosques".

The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 tipped the country into a deepening civil war as rival warlords carved up the country. It opened the door for Taliban, presenting itself as a saviour for a country often plunged into lawlessness.

By the mid 1990s it had claimed large parts of the country. In his book Taliban, journalist James Ferguson tracks the rise of the group and says how ordinary Afghans began to "speak in whispers about these turbaned avengers".

He says although some felt repulsed at the Taliban's brutality, "most felt relief that here, at last, was a group who looked like they might restore some semblance of social order". It cemented its stronghold by defending the rights of women in particular. 

But the Taliban would become an oppressor, banning girls from school, stopping some from working, and imposing strict Islamic law. Simple pleasures like music were banned.

The Taliban seized power by building connections with Afghanistan's many tribal groups and solidifying its support amongst the Pashtun people — Afghanistan's single biggest ethnic group.

Even after being toppled by the US invasion it was able to rebuild in strongholds like Kandahar, where poor governance, a weak judiciary, corruption and police brutality drove people back to the Taliban and swelled the numbers of its fighters.

The Taliban also used force and fear to control local populations. As journalist Anand Gopal, who tracked the Taliban's resurgence and renewal in Kandahar, writes: "Some communities join with the Taliban to protect themselves from the Taliban."


Can the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan?

It is stronger right now than at any time since the US invasion. The United Nations reports record civilian casualties. In recent weeks the militants have stepped up offensive in key cities Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Herat.

This is critical. The Taliban has strongholds in rural areas but taking back cities is a decisive change potentially tipping the balance of power in its favour. Foreign Policy magazine this week said: 

"The urban offensives also have demographic implications. If the Taliban seize cities, the insurgents would bring an even more sizeable share of the population under their control."

American-backed peace talks have hit a stalemate. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad says the insurgents are demanding the "lion's share of power". What it doesn't get at the negotiating table, the Taliban has shown it is willing and able to take by force.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blames what he calls a "hasty peace process". He says the Taliban "do not believe in lasting or just peace".


US officials are warning of protracted civil war in Afghanistan. With American soldiers no longer on the frontline, ongoing US support and funding for Afghan forces will be crucial. Without it, the country will be overrun. Even with American backing, the balance of power has tipped in the Taliban's favour.

And this is not just a battle confined to Afghanistan; it is drawing in regional countries.

Writing in the journal Foreign Affairs recently, Vice President of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Seth Jones warned that the US needs to "limit Russian, Chinese, and Iranian meddling in Afghanistan". He said Tehran "is already expanding its clandestine presence in the country".

Russia and China have strategic and economic interests in the country. Afghanistan remains a magnet for other Islamist militants Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

All eyes should be on Pakistan

The country to watch is Pakistan. It has long been a supporter of the Taliban but it has also had a tiger by the tail.

The Pakistani Taliban has operated beyond the reach of the Afghan leadership, killing Pakistani civilians and trying to topple the Pakistan government.


I reported one offensive in the Swat Valley just a few hours' drive from Pakistan's capital Islamabad, where the Taliban had seized control and made a ritual of hanging the severed heads of locals from the town square.

Pakistan balances its internal risks with its external threats — notably relations with India. A return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan may be bulwark to Indian power. But Pakistan plays a deadly game, with the potential for blowback within its own borders.

Pakistan has been a breeding ground of terrorism and a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan makes Pakistan even more vulnerable.

Also writing in Foreign Affairs, Hussain Haqqani says Pakistan needs to be careful what it wishes for. Insurgents at home will become emboldened, he says, and a Taliban victory in Afghanistan could weaken US-Pakistan relations, which have always been a delicate balance act of mutual interest, mistrust and suspicion. 

As he writes:

"For decades, Pakistan has played a risky game by supporting or tolerating the Taliban and also trying to stay in Washington's good graces ... Pakistan has managed to kick the can down the road for a long time. Soon, however, it will reach the end of the road."

A decade on from reporting on the frontline with Pakistani troops and watching the Taliban watching us, I remember that shrug from a Pakistani soldier: This is a deadly game with no end.



Stan Grant presents China Tonight on Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC News Channel and 10:30pm on ABC TV.


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GusNote: The "border" between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a sieve, as a portion of east Pakistan is Pashtun which is the largest "tribe" in Afghanistan, itself being the core of the Taliban.


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The US ‘loss’ of Afghanistan is a repositioning and the new mission is not a ‘war on terror,’ but Russia and China.


The New "Axis of Evil"


Tony Blinken may blabber that “we were in Afghanistan for one overriding purpose – to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11.”




Every serious analyst knows that the “overriding” geopolitical purpose of the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago was to establish an essential Empire of Bases foothold in the strategic intersection of Central and South Asia, subsequently coupled with occupying Iraq in Southwest Asia.

Now the “loss” of Afghanistan should be interpreted as a repositioning. It fits the new geopolitical configuration, where the Pentagon’s top mission is not the “war on terror” anymore, but to simultaneously try to isolate Russia and harass China by all means on the expansion of the New Silk Roads.

Occupying smaller nations has ceased to be a priority. The Empire of Chaos can always foment chaos – and supervise assorted bombing raids – from its CENTCOM base in Qatar.

Iran is about to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a full member – another game-changer. Even before resetting the Islamic Emirate, the Taliban have carefully cultivated good relations with key Eurasia players – Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian ‘stans. The ‘stans are under full Russian protection. Beijing is already planning hefty rare earth business with the Taliban.

On the Atlanticist front, the spectacle of non-stop self-recrimination will consume the Beltway for ages. Two decades, $2 trillion, a forever war debacle of chaos, death and destruction, a still shattered Afghanistan, an exit literally in the dead of night – for what? The only “winners” have been the Lords of the Weapons Racket.

Yet every American plotline needs a fall guy. NATO has just been cosmically humiliated in the graveyard of empires by a bunch of goat herders – and not by close encounters with Mr Khinzal. What’s left? Propaganda.

So meet the new fall guy: the New Axis of Evil. The axis is Taliban-Pakistan-China. The New Great Game in Eurasia has just been reloaded.




The situation is complex. First the main supporter of the Taliban is Saudi Arabia FOR extremist RELIGIOUS REASONS. Second, China can hope it can make deals with the Taliban, through its dealing with Pakistan. Russia is only at the other end of the Silk Road.


Meanwhile people in Afghanistan will suffer, some will die for no humane reason. The Saudis are the experts of Sharia law — which is to some extend worse than Nazism... Sharia law is Nazism with a strong stupid intransigent religious inhumane component. Freedom is a dirty word under sharia law. Punishment is beyond the pale. In the long run, say 50 years, this form of religious fanaticism should peter out, like the Christian fanaticism has faded out. Meanwhile all religious beliefs in action are painful to watch... 


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army blues....

A defamation case by war veteran Ben Roberts-Smith against three newspapers has been dismissed, after a judge found defences of substantial or contextual truth had been established over alleged unlawful killings, bullying and domestic violence.

Key points:
  • Justice Besanko found the newspapers established the substantial truth of many of the imputations, including allegations of murder
  • He also found the news organisations had established contextual truth on allegations of domestic violence and bullying of an SAS colleague
  • Today's decision comes 10 months after a defamation trial that lasted more than 100 days

The Victoria Cross recipient sued The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times and three journalists in the Federal Court over a series of stories published in 2018.

Mr Roberts-Smith said they contained false allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan, bullying of his former Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) colleagues and domestic violence against a woman in a Canberra hotel room.

Publisher Nine Entertainment relied on a truth defence, and both sides called current and former SAS witnesses.

Justice Anthony Besanko today ruled the publisher had established the substantial truth of the imputations linked to allegations of unlawful killings in Afghanistan, and had established the contextual truth of imputations linked to allegations of bullying and domestic violence.

He ordered the proceedings be dismissed.