In 2008 a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, claimed the lives of 164 people. According to the New York Times, one of the key plotters of the attacks was David C. Headley, a former drug dealer then serving as an informant in Pakistan for the U.S. government. To make matters worse, Washington had evidence that Headley was a terrorist sympathizer yet kept him on its payroll, says the Times, “even as he was learning to deal with explosives and small arms in terrorist training camps.”
When Republicans take control of the nation’s purse strings in January, one of the first things they could cut to save taxpayers money is the White House travel budget. In addition to earning the gratitude of Americans, it could also generate some goodwill among taxpayers in the countries the Obama family might otherwise visit since the citizens of those countries are forced to pay for security and put up with other inconveniences whenever the First Family shows up.
On October 22 the Internet-based whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published some 391,000 classified U.S. military documents on the Iraq War. WikiLeaks alleges the documents prove that the U.S. government continued to look the other way to Iraqi government torture through the end of the first year of the Obama administration and that civilian casualties in the Iraq war were much higher than publicly documented.
Voice of America reported on October 22 that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced an Obama administration pledge to seek $2 billion annually in military aid to Pakistan over five years “to help that country defeat violent extremism.” The report stated that the pledge came at a bilateral dialogue held at the State Department attended by Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (shown at a March meeting at left).
Americans do not like to think of their government as an aggressor against foreign countries. We prefer to believe that our country is always the victim of unprovoked attacks and that military actions our government takes against other countries are always in response to such unwarranted aggression. For this reason, Presidents have generally felt it necessary to provoke attacks secretly, knowing that once the country was attacked, seemingly with no cause, Americans would rally ‘round the flag and support the war the President had wanted all along.
In a famous TV commercial from the 1980s, an elderly woman, surveying the minuscule amount of hamburger in the middle of a bun, asks pointedly, “Where’s the beef?” One year after President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize despite having been in office only a short time, ABC News’ Russell Goldman reports that many people are asking, “Where’s the peace?”
The average Afghan — and, indeed, the average American — may be deriving very little benefit from the United States’ continued occupation of Afghanistan and the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that continue to be poured into that country, but in both countries the well-connected make out quite handsomely. In Afghanistan, the key to prosperity and power, it seems, is having the surname of Karzai, as in President Hamid Karzai.
President Barack Obama may have publicly stated that U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011, but according to reporter Bob Woodward, both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus have other ideas. The Huffington Post reports that Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, portrays Gates and Petraeus as anticipating — in Gates’s case, perhaps even desiring — a long-term U.S. presence in the “graveyard of empires.”
When the book The $3 Trillion War debuted in 2008, it was roundly criticized by such notables as John Lott, Richard Zerbe and Edgar Browning, who held that estimates of the cost of the war in Iraq were overstated. But in a conference call earlier this week, authors Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winner) and Linda Bilmes (Harvard University professor), said they underestimated those costs by at least one third.