4/13 Indian Ocean: Obama "Beats 1st. Nat'l. Security Test"; Why Sri Lanka? U.S.-Soros in Moldova; More Drone Terminators Soon

Obama's Hero
I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]---that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race
Lincoln's Fourth Debate with Douglas at Charleston, Illinois
September 18, 1858

Liberty is not for these slaves; I do not advocate inflicting it against their conscience. On the contrary, I am strongly in favor of letting them crawl and grovel all they please before whatever fraud or combination of frauds they choose to venerate...Our whole practical government is grounded in mob psychology and.. the Boobus Americanus will follow any command that promises to make him safer."
H. L. Menchen 1956

Many preferred 'hope', rejected the early evidence... samples below to refresh memories. Plus incontrovertible evidence why 'hopes' are deadend
The Return Of The Democrats' Security Divide
Now Obama must manage the anti-war left.
Dan Gerstein
...the first serious tear in the tenuous Democratic consensus on foreign policy that Obama had adeptly marshaled and surfed to his improbable victory... this fraying of the president-elect's coalition--which united moderate hawks and fierce doves ... was evident in the widely divergent reactions to his picks for secretary of state (Hillary Clinton), secretary of defense (Robert Gates) and national security adviser (James Jones)... all of whom have hawkish profiles, registered as a sellout of the anti-war principles Obama campaigned on... What will these loyalists say when the new president and his team start making hard policy choices on withdrawal deadlines in Iraq and wiretapping guidelines here at home after they make good on their easy promises to close Guantanamo and the like?

Here, we can anticipate one of the trickiest tests of Obama's presidency. While he tries to govern from the pragmatic center on national security, he must manage the high expectations and inevitable disappointments of his strongest supporters. His liberal activist base may be relatively small, but its members can be extremely distracting and often destructive.... he prevented a liberal mutiny from brewing after his controversial vote on the wireless wiretapping reform bill. He would be wise to do next year what he did then--engage with the anti-war forces and explain why the decisions they dislike are consistent with Democrat's values and in the national interest. That won't always pacify the pacifists. But Obama has a large reservoir of good will to draw on with that liberal base, as evidenced by the fact that so many influential progressives have kept their displeasure with the national security picks to themselves. If he can return that good will when those intra-party tensions flare, and act as the responsive leader he promised to be, I suspect he will go a long way toward disarming our fabled circular firing squad before it can reassemble. He might even be able to add to the Democratic ranks...
Dan Gerstein, a political communications consultant and commentator based in New York, is the founder and president of Gotham Ghostwriters. He formerly served as communications director to Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and as a senior adviser on his vice presidential and presidential campaigns. He writes a weekly column for Forbes.com.

Praise from Cheney for Obama’s national security team
Bill Van Auken
The comments of the vice president called attention to the most salient characteristic of the five-hour meeting convened by Obama on Monday. The national security group assembled by the candidate of "change" is dominated by very same individuals directing national security for the administration of George W. Bush that were overwhelming repudiated by the electorate in November.... The continuity expressed in those Obama has tapped for his national security team is not just with the Bush administration, but with his own Democratic Party as well. In election after election—2002, 2004, 2006—the Democrats have acted politically to disenfranchise the millions of Americans who demanded an end to war, diverting their opposition into the safe confines of the two-party system while continuing support for and funding of US military aggression.This, in the final analysis, was the purpose of the Obama campaign as well. The likes of Gates, Jones, Armitage, Scowcroft and Shultz are not merely Obama’s advisers. They are leading figures in a ruling establishment for which Obama is to serve as a political front man, providing a new face for US imperialism.

Into the Dark: The Pentagon P20G Plan to Provoke Terrorist Attacks
by Chris Floyd
November 1, 2002
... in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times...in an article by military analyst William Arkin, detailing the vast expansion of the secret armies being amassed...came the revelation of Rumsfeld's plan to create "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" that will "bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception." According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization--the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)"- will carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces... The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked; and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries where the terrorists were operating – attacks which, in the Pentagon's words, would put those nations' "sovereignty at risk."

Darkness Visible: Expanded Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism, P20G, in Operation
From the Moscow Times, Jan. 25, 2005. This is the follow-up to "Into the Dark."
This plan is now activated. In fact, it's being expanded, as the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh revealed last week. Not only will U.S.-directed agents infiltrate existing terrorist groups and provoke them into action; the Pentagon itself will create its own terrorist groups and "death squads." After establishing their "terrorist credentials" through various atrocities and crimes, these American-run groups will then be able to ally with – and ultimately undermine – existing "terrorist" groups......Now the United States stands openly – even proudly – for terrorism, torture and... aggressive war... the deliberate murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military rule anywhere in the world that American leaders desired. [for more on related material www.burbankdigest.com/node/4]

a president's job is to execute and mobilize global support for the bipartisan geostrategic National Security Agenda
Rice: Obama to Follow Bush Foreign Policy
Financial Times December 21 2008
Barack Obama might have little option but to follow George W. Bush’s approach on a range of foreign policy issues... said Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state. Ms Rice told the Financial Times the new administration was likely to follow Mr Bush’s lead in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. During the president’s second term, the US has co-ordinated its approach with the European Union, Russia and China.... “The reason why there might be some elements of continuity is that what we’ve tried to do is to arrange or organise international groupings that can first manage and then resolve these very difficult problems in a multilateral way.” She was referring not just to the administration’s efforts over Iran but also its approach to North Korea and the Israel-Palestinian issue.
Ms Rice’s words could damp expectations that the incoming administration will represent a complete break with its predecessor on foreign policy.

Obama Wants Bush War Team to Stay
Washington Times Dec. 22, 2008
Defense Secty.Robert Gates "received authorization to invite some 250 DOD political appointees to remain in their current positions.."

Rahm Emanuel's Think Tankers Enforce 'Message Discipline' Among Liberals
Jeremy Scahill
Center for American Progress and MoveOn... portrayed themselves as anti-war during the Bush-era, are now supporting the escalation and continuation of wars... working hard to push Obama's policies, including rationalizlng or defending his escalation of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan as "sustainable security."... CAP has been actively pounding the pavement in support of the escalation in Afghanistan, the rebranding of the Iraq occupation and Obama's bloated military budget, which the group said was "on target." MoveOn... silent on the escalation in Afghanistan has devoted substantial resources to promoting a federal budget that includes a $21 billion increase in military spending from the Bush-era...
a newly formed coalition, the Common Purpose Project blogger Jane Hamsher describes as "one of the many groups Rahm Emanuel has set up to coordinate messaging among liberal interest groups." This one includes the direct participation of White House officials..."providing a way for the White House to manage its relationships with some of these independent groups." http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/04/10-1

In Iraq...for good, for no good
Obama called the U.S. destruction of Iraq an "extraordinary achievement" and, parroting his predecessor, demanded that Iraq "take responsibility for itself"

The Troops Aren’t Coming Home
GI Special Thomas F. Barton
by September of this year 'dovish' Democrat Barack Obama will have actually sent more troops into combat than his 'hawkish' predecessor George W. Bush.... Barack Obama announced this month a phased withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq by August 2010. But the time-line of the drawdown is back-loaded with the first US troops not scheduled to come home until this September – and even then our force in Iraq will only be reduced by 12,000. At that point, approximately 135,000 US troops will still occupy the country... the same number that invaded Iraq back in March 2003. At the same time, Obama announced Friday he’s sending 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan – 17,000 combat troops plus another 4,000 to train Afghan forces and advise the Afghan government. What this means is that under President Barack Obama the Global War on Terror is not winding down ... It is escalating.http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=53283&s2=11

'al-qaeda' to u.s. rescue again...
Suicide truck bomb kills five American soldiers
General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, told The Times that al-Qaeda activities in Mosul could delay a plan to pull US combat forces out of the city by the end of June

Pentagon budget envisions a series of Iraq-style wars
Patrick Martin
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates unveiled the biggest military budget in world history, in anticipation of an endless series of Iraq and Afghanistan-style wars by American imperialism. Both the military budget itself and the official who drafted it—Gates held the same position in the last two years of the Bush administration and is the first Pentagon chief to be retained by a new president—underscore the fundamental continuity between Obama and Bush.
For all its pretensions of "change" and all the popular illusions attached to Obama’s supposed "anti-war" stance, the new administration is as committed to the ruthless pursuit of the interests of American imperialism as its discredited predecessor.... the military plays an even greater role in determining national policy in the Obama administration than it did under George W. Bush. Obama has given the Pentagon a free hand, effectively saying, "Here’s $640 billion, you decide what to do with it." He allowed Gates to make his budget draft public before the White House Office of Management and Budget had signed off on it, a privilege accorded to no other government department.
In addition, there are three former top military officials ensconced in top policy-making roles: retired General James -I -take -my -orders- from- Henry Kissinger- Jones as national security adviser, retired Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, and retired General Eric Shinseki heading the Veterans Administration...

In an interview April 6 on the Public Broadcasting System, Gates spelled out the continuity between the Obama administration and its Republican predecessor. "The reality is," he said, "this is nothing new. I’ve been talking about this for 18 months; it is the heart of the national defense strategy issued last fall in the Bush administration, that I issued and it’s really more about simply recognizing the enduring requirement for the capabilities to fight these irregular or hybrid conflicts than it is a major strategic shift."

At a press roundtable the following day, Gates emphasized the remaking of the Pentagon hierarchy through the promotion of generals with experience in the current wars. "General Casey, General Chiarelli, General Dempsey, General Petraeus, General Odierno, General Austin," he said, naming a series of top appointees, "the places where these people have been assigned provide, I believe, the opportunity to institutionalize in the Army the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are all war fighters, and their appointments were not accidents or just happenstance."

In other words, the American military is being rebuilt along the line of the force required to suppress the popular opposition of masses of oppressed peoples who live in countries targeted by US imperialism for their natural resources and strategic importance. www.uruknet.info?p=53273 www.wsws.org/articles/2009/apr2009/mili-a09.shtml

designed drastic u.s. intervention in geostrategic region is part of larger plan
Real pirates are foreign fishing ships: foreign ministry
Somali pirating is a convenient pre-text for foreigners to do as they wish in Somali and Red Sea waters, said officials. (map:C.Reports/StockFile)
Eritrea on Thursday described a recent string of attacks by Somali pirates as 'rumours' and claimed that foreign vessels had been plundering Somalia's fish and marine resources."Foreign companies are engaged in the looting of fishery and other marine resources in the territorial waters of Somalia and the Southern Red Sea," the Eritrean foreign ministry said in a statement. "Amid such illegal practices not different from acts of theft and banditry, rumours have repeatedly been disseminated over the past months claiming that pirates have been seizing ships in Somali territorial waters," it said. The foreign ministry charged that foreign media outlets had no means of verifying "claims" that merchant vessels and other ships were indeed being hijacked along Somalia's long unpatrolled coastline. "This campaign is designed to cover up these naked acts of looting and gross violation of international laws being committed in the territorial waters of Somalia and the southern Red Sea," the statement said. It went on to claim that the emphasis on the surge in acts of piracy was being used as a pretext by foreign players to increase their military presence in the region.
Eritrea borders Somalia and has a long coastline on the southern Red Sea....fiercely opposed to the US-backed Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia and has been accused of actively supporting Islamist insurgents there.

know the enemy: u.s. strategists' analyses determine policy, provide prez/politicians with strategic marching orders -- execution tactics play good cop-bad cop games: regardless of the charm rhetoric, the big stick is at the ready to enforce u.s. agenda for global hegemony

Standoff With Pirates Shows U.S. Power Has Limits

Pirates, Terrorism and Failed States
It's time to get serious about bringing order to places like Somalia and Pakistan's tribal areas.
Max Boot
...The predations of pirates and terrorists -- two species of international outlaws -- have caused much handwringing and a so-far unsuccessful search for solutions. The United Nations has authorized warships to enter Somalia's territorial waters and use "all necessary force" against the pirates. A number of states, including the U.S., have sent their own naval vessels to help, but their numbers are grossly inadequate to safeguard thousands of miles of water. The increasingly bold desperados are venturing farther and farther from shore in search of ever more lucrative prizes...
What if anything can outside powers do to bring the rule of law to these troubled lands? In the 19th century, the answer was simple: European imperialists would plant their flag and impose their laws at gunpoint. The territory that now comprises Pakistan was not entirely peaceful when it was under British rule. Nor was Somalia under Italian and British sovereignty. But they were considerably better off than they are today -- not only from the standpoint of Western countries but also from the standpoint of their own citizens.

You might think that such imperialism is simply unacceptable today. But you would be only partially right. There have been a number of instances in recent years of imperialism-in-all-but-name. Bosnia and Kosovo -- still wards of NATO and the European Union -- are prominent examples of how successful such interventions can be in the right circumstances.

The real difficulty with emulating these examples is not a lack of legitimacy. That can always be conferred by the United Nations or some other multilateral organization. Harder to overcome is a lack of will. Ragtag guerrillas have proven dismayingly successful in driving out or neutering international peacekeeping forces. Think of American and French troops blown up in Beirut in 1983, or the "Black Hawk Down" incident in Somalia in 1993...

If we suffer another 9/11 or worse and the culprits can be traced to Pakistan, then the U.S. and its allies would summon the wherewithal to act. But not until then.

Given that dismal reality, it makes sense to think of second-best alternatives. In the case of the Somali pirates, creative solutions can include using air and naval power to hit the bases from which they operate, and employing Blackwater and other mercenaries to add their protective efforts to those of the world's navies. In Pakistan that means continuing air strikes and providing assistance to tribal militias which have their own grievances against jihadist interlopers. In both places, the U.S. should be doing what it can, in cooperation with allies and multilateral organizations, to bolster central authority.
But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that any of these measures has much chance of success. Until we are willing to place more ungoverned spaces under international administration, evils such as piracy and terrorism will continue to flourish.
Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author, most recently, of "War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today"(Gotham, 2006).

Anarchy on Land Means Piracy at Sea
By ROBERT D. KAPLAN, Op-Ed Contributor
Published: April 11, 2009
Piracy has been endemic to the Indian Ocean from the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Malacca, and particularly so after the Western intrusion into these waters, beginning with the Portuguese in the 16th century.... The big danger in our day is that piracy can potentially serve as a platform for terrorists. Using pirate techniques, vessels can be hijacked and blown up in the middle of a crowded strait, or a cruise ship seized and the passengers of certain nationalities thrown overboard. You can see how Al Qaeda would be studying this latest episode at sea, in which Somali pirates attacked a Maersk Line container ship and were fought off by the American crew, even as they have managed to take the captain hostage in one of the lifeboats.

So we end up with the spectacle of an American destroyer, the Bainbridge, with enough Tomahawk missiles and other weaponry to destroy a small city, facing off against a handful of Somali pirates in a tiny lifeboat. This is not an efficient use of American resources. It indicates how pirates, like terrorists, can attack us asymmetrically. The challenge ahead for the United States is not only dealing with the rise of Chinese naval power, but also in handling more unconventional risks that will require a more scrappy, street-fighting Navy.

In a sense, America needs three navies; yet, as this pirate crisis reveals, it may have only two. It has a blue-water force for patrolling the major sea lines, thus guarding the global commons. It packs enough precision weaponry on its warships to project power on land against adversaries like North Korea and Iran. But it still does not have enough of a sea-based, counterinsurgency component to deal with adversaries like Somali pirates and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. (The latter’s force features speedboats loaded with explosives hidden in the many coves of Iran’s coastline, which could ram ships on suicide missions.)...

In recent years the American public has been humbled by the limits of our military power in dirty land wars. But navies have historically been a military indicator of great power. That a relatively small number of pirates from a semi-starving nation can constitute enough of a menace to disrupt major sea routes is another sign of the anarchy that will be characteristic of a multipolar world, in which a great navy like America’s — with a falling number of overall ships — will be in relative, elegant decline, while others will either lack the stomach or the capacity to adequately guard the seas.

Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. [CNAS, In recent years the American public has been humbled by the limits of our military power in dirty land wars. But navies have historically been a military indicator of great power. That a relatively small number of pirates from a semi-starving nation can constitute enough of a menace to disrupt major sea routes is another sign of the anarchy that will be characteristic of a multipolar world, in which a great navy like America’s — with a falling number of overall ships — will be in relative, elegant decline, while others will either lack the stomach or the capacity to adequately guard the seas.

Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. [digest: CNAS is one of Obama admin's most influential thinktanks - http://www.cnas.org/ reveals its strategy, tactics, and architects pursuing the u.s. global hegemony agenda]

always nice to 'discuss' imperialist demands with a u.s. proxy
Ethiopian Premier, AFRICOM Official Discuss Somalia
Mogadishu, 9 April 2009 (Somalilandpress) - Ethiopian Prime Minister. Meles Zenawi received and held talks with US Africa Command Civilian Deputy (AFRICOM) Ambassador Mary Yates. Ambassador Yates said as Ethiopia is Africom’s partner in security, the visit is intended to further scale up the relations.

Pirates and Africom
by Greg Palkot
WE were in Africa for the past week (and based for part of that time in the eastern African country of Djibouti, just a few hundred miles from the piracy action)... reporting on the launch of Africom, the new US military command covering the troubled continent. Previously, Africa has been handed by parts of three different US military commands, and while there have been a variety of programs and operations conducted in Africa by the Pentagon, the feeling was that the place got short-changed. As the commander of Africom, 4-star Army General (and veteran of numerous global hot spots including 1990’s Somalia) William “Kip” Ward told me, “The continent of Africa is important to global security, our security, the stability of the world.”... Africom is working with navies around the continent to beef them up to deal with pirates, smugglers, and militants on the high seas. In a few countries they’ve actually helped to set up Coast Guards that didn’t even exist. Like in Somalia. Africom will also be working to tamp down terrorism and militancy on the continent in what they describe as the “indirect” way. Working with armies around Africa to get them “up to speed” so a secure environment is created in which terrorists can’t thrive....
Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, a US military operation now under Africom command. They have dispatched trainers to next-door Ethiopia. In a controversial move US has also backed an Ethiopian presence in Somalia. Also with the aim of tamping down the Islamists there.

(By the way, also dealing with the terror threat in the Horn of Africa area, but not seen by us as it’s top secret and running parallel to the Africom mission, Special Force, CIA and other US government agencies, “directly” tracking down and eliminating the terror threat in the region).

Finally, there’s one more theme coming out of the piracy crisis which is also intertwined with the just-launched Africom command. Remember that Russian Navy ship heading towards Somalia (and US navy vessels there)? Well, there is a low-key super-power face-off developing in the Africa. China is all over the continent getting its hands on precious oil supplies and other resources. And in the process throwing a lot of money and influence around. Ditto Russia itself, already flush with energy profits. Its making a grab for more, and working its political might as well.
For its part the US needs to maintain access to African oil too (a quarter of our crude will come from Africa by 2015). And at the same it would like the governments and militaries in Africa to move in a more transparent and democratic direction. China and Russia for the most part don’t care what the countries do. China has freely sold weapons to Sudan helping to fuel oppression of its citizens and arm a civil war.
Africom officials deny to me that their mission is directly involved in countering a Russian or Chinese presence in Africa (or for that matter maintaining access to African oil). But most analysts argue the command at least indirectly will have that effect.

Buccaneers In Somali Waters - But They're Not Somalis
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
For a downloadable MP3 copy of this commentary, visit the BA Radio archive page.
"Foreign ‘fish pirates' plunder Somali waters from about 700 vessels - an armada of commercial buccaneers."
So far this year, at least two dozen vessels have been boarded and seized by armed men off the coast of Somalia, the latest a Saudi Arabian supertanker capable of carrying two million barrels of oil. I'm avoiding using the term "pirates" because there is lots of piracy going on in Somali waters, most of it committed, not by Somalis, but by foreigners from around the globe.
The northeast African nation, with 2,000 miles of coastline, once boasted some of the richest fisheries in the world, swarming with tuna, lobster, shark, shrimp and whitefish. But there has been no effective government in Somalia since 1991 and, therefore, no Somali coast guard to protect the fishing grounds from marauding foreign vessels. How much damage has been done by over fishing is unknown - foreigners sail into the fisheries as if they own them, and take what they wish.

Webster's Dictionary defines piracy as "robbery on the high seas." By that definition, Somalia is the victim of pirates from all over the world. According to the United Nations, these foreign "fish pirates" plunder Somali waters from about 700 vessels - an armada of commercial buccaneers. Before Somalia descended into chaos, 30,000 fishermen made their livings from the sea. But they can't compete with the modern, foreign vessels, and there is no one to keep the commercial fish pirates out.
Some foreign fishing interests make their own deals, purchasing fishing "licenses" from warlords purporting to represent authority on behalf of Somalia. That's very much like the "diplomacy" practiced by white settlers in the colonial and early United States, when they made "treaties" with bogus Indian "chiefs" who signed away Native American land for trinkets and liquor.
"The American fleet does little to interfere with the illegal dumping of radioactive waste in Somali waters."
Local and clan militias have replaced national authority in Somalia, which is partially occupied by the Ethiopian military. The Ethiopian invasion and occupation, instigated by the United States in late 2006, has displaced millions, many of whom face starvation. The coastal fishermen are also members of militias. Western media call them pirates, but as one armed sailor told the New York Times: "Think of us like a coast guard."

Somebody needs to guard Somali's water resources, but it certainly isn't the Americans. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, of the U.S. Navy's Central Command, patrols the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean - Somalia's neighborhood. It also bombs Somalis that resist the Ethiopian occupation and targets people the U.S. claims have ties to Al Qaida. But the American fleet does little to interfere with the illegal dumping of radioactive waste in Somali waters or any other crimes against the environment and Somalia's national treasure and sovereignty.
When it comes to piracy, Somalis are on balance the victims rather than the perpetrators. It is estimated that foreigners poach $300 million from Somali fisheries each year. Somalia's armed sailors extort about one-third that amount - $100 million - from the owners of captured ships. So, who are the real pirates?
The United States helped Ethiopia hijack the entire Somali nation: an international crime against peace. Uncle Sam is the biggest pirate of them all.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

"according to "talking points" prepared by the U.S. government for briefing reporters"
White House ‘Gathering Information’ About Pirate Attack Involving Americans
Across the national security establishment, the United States urgently sought answers Wednesday for what is believed to be the first American hostage-taking by pirates in 200 years ... Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said there had been no communications from the pirates for ransom. But he would not go into military plans. "I'm not going to speculate on any future military actions," ...
The crew first reported being under attack, then said that pirates had already boarded the ship, according to "talking points" prepared by the U.S. government for briefing reporters about the situation. Though the company has had some Defense Department contracts it was not on a Pentagon job when attacked, the talking points said...
Reports coming into the Pentagon carried varying estimates of the number of American crew members. Some said 21, others said 19. It was not immediately clear the nature of the ship's cargo is, although one report said that it might be food aid....

Who are the Real Pirates of East Africa and Somalia USACC
While the media heavily covers news stories on Somali pirate ships, illegal trespassing within Somali and East african waters by tankers from the world'ss richest countries never receives media commentary. On a regular basis foreign tankers illegally enter Somali and other East african waters to dump chemical waste and conduct illegal fishing; taking advantage of the lack of a unified government in Somalia and robbing resources from defenseless nations. So who are the real pirates?

You are being lied to about pirates
Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling
Johann Hari
5 January 2009
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as "one of the great menaces of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side. Pirates have never been quite who we think they are....(digest: some fascinating history)

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.... As soon as the government was gone... ships...off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died...At the same time, other ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving....

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence". No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters...But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." William Scott would understand.
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.... j.hari@independent.co.uk

"We are not intending to harm the captain, so that we hope our colleagues would not be harmed as long as they hold him," Badow said. "All we need, first, is a safe route to escape with the captain, and then (negotiate) ransom later"

Commander: Pirates' deaths could escalate violence
AP WASHINGTON -The head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command is warning that the successful rescue of an American captain held by Somali pirates could escalate violence in that part of the world.In rescuing the captain of the American ship Maersk Alabama, Navy SEALs killed three of the four pirates who had been holding Capt. Richard Phillips in a lifeboat. All were shot by snipers aboard the USS Bainbridge. Navy Vice Admiral Bill Gortney said at a news conference Sunday that the rescue ending in the pirates' deaths will likely have a ripple effect. While piracy is common off the coast of Somalia, crews have seldom been harmed.

The US Navy missed a chance to rescue the American captain held by Somali pirates on a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean when he tried to escape by jumping into the sea.Captain Richard Phillips fled through a back door in the covered lifeboat about midnight on Thursday local time and began swimming away, US officials said. At least one pirate jumped in after him and brought him back aboard the boat, which is drifting without fuel, before the nearby US destroyer, USS Bainbridge, could intervene. The incident was captured on video by a US drone overhead...
The Bainbridge, backed by drones and surveillance aircraft, was standing guard a few hundred yards from the lifeboat, which had run out of fuel. The frigate USS Halyburton and the assault ship USS Boxer, armed with about two dozen helicopters and attack planes, sailed to the scene yesterday....

Analysis: Obama beats first national security test
By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent
Obama's handling of the crisis showed a president comfortable in relying on the U.S. military, much as his predecessor, George W. Bush, did...The rescue appeared to vindicate Obama's muted but determined handling of the incident. What won't be known for some time is whether Obama will benefit politically....
Obama twice personally authorized murdering the Somalis "if the captain Phillips' life was in danger", which of course it instantly was we're told after Navy Seal snipers on one of the destroyers killed 3... Obama said Phillips had courage that was "a model for all Americans" and he was pleased about the rescue,.. Obama said more must be done to prevent future attacks along the lawless African coast, where other ships remain under pirate control.
"We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region. To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes," Obama said
Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding the Greek ship anchored in the Somali town of Gaan, said: "Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying," he told The Associated Press. "We will retaliate (for) the killings of our men."

U.S. to increase military presence in Africa to deal with pirates
As a hostage standoff with Somali pirates continued Thursday, a top U.S. army leader said the country will boost its military presence near the Horn of Africa within two days. "We want to ensure that we have all the capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days," Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command... http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/04/09/somali-pirates-phillips.html

US Navy increases pressure on Somali pirates in hostage standoff
Additional Navy ships were being sent to the region and were expected to arrive within 48 hours, General David Petraeus, who commands US forces in the Middle East, said Thursday in Florida. One of the ships is believed to be the USS Halyburton, a frigate with two helicopters on board. It remained unclear how Phillips came to be held captive on the lifeboat although some media reports suggested he exchanged himself for the safety of his crew. "The captain remains with the pirates on the lifeboat within full visibility of the USS Bainbridge," Maersk Line spokesman Kevin Speers said in a statement. Phillips has been in contact with the US Navy and his own crew through a radio and has been given extra batteries. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is also helping the Navy negotiate the captain's release. The Alabama steamed away from the area and was heading Friday toward its original destination...
Navy forces are generally reluctant to storm ships to free crew members being held hostage.However, the pirates are in a weak bargaining position with no fuel for the lifeboat and only one hostage....US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the military was working with its allies to see how to develop a broader plan to deal with piracy in the region.[see above for Robert Kaplan & other imperialist strategists plans behind this]

What a little cooperation will do: u.s. promotes Somalia from 'failed state' without a govt....to 'fledgling' in need of 'assistance
The foreign minister of Somalia's fledgling government said the piracy could only be stopped with stability and security onshore, not by foreign navies patrolling the sea."We can certainly resolve (piracy) in partnership with the international community. Our first priority is to re-establish the rule of law. For that, we have requested from the foreign community assistance to build our security forces,“ Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar told Reuters... http://www.welt.de/english-news/article3544248/Warships-track-hostage-ho...

Massive consignment of US arms shipment to Israel
Wehr Elbe, a German cargo ship which had been chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command, docked and unloaded its cargo of reportedly over 300 containers at the Israeli port of Ashdod, just 40 km north of Gaza by road. The German ship left the USA for Israel on 20 December, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza, carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons... a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that "the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod [Israel] on 22 March'. The spokeperson said that the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned ammunition stockpile in Israel. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary...
The US was by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel between 2004 and 2008. The US government is also due to provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel...According to one US official, President Obama has no plans to cut the billions of dollars in military aid promised to Israel under a new 10-year contract agreed in 2007 by the Bush administration. This new contract is a 25 per cent increase compared to the last contract agreed by the previous US administration. http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18136

Evgeny Morozov, originally from Belarus, is a fellow at [George Soros'] Open Society Institute in New York and serves on the board of OSI's Information Program. He is currently at work on a book about the impact of the Internet on global politics, with a particular focus on authoritarian states.

Moldova's Twitter Revolution
Evgeny Morozov
Could it be that five years after the famous protests in Kiev's Maidan Square another technology - Twitter - will usher in another revolution in neighbouring Moldova? Will we remember the events that are now unfolding in Chisinau not by the color of the flags but by the social-networking technology used? Ever since yesterday's announcement that Moldova's communists [SIC]have won enough votes to form a government in Sunday's elections, Moldova's progressive youth took to the streets in angry protests. As behooves any political protest by young people today, they also turned to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the planned protests and flashmobs. Led by youth NGOs like HydePark and ThinkMoldova...
Technology is playing an important role in facilitating these protests. In addition to huge mobilization eforts both on Twitter and Facebook, Moldova's angry youth - especially those who are currently abroad (roughly a quarter of Moldova's population are working abroad due to dire economic conditions back at home) - could follow the events on this livestream provided by a Romanian TV station - directly from the square.... while it's probably too early to tell whether Moldova's Twitter revolution will be successful, it would certainly be wrong to disregard the role that Twitter and other social media have played in mobilizing (and, even more so, reporting on) the protests...
the Chisinau protests undoubtedly present an interesting case-study that I hope academic institutions like Harvard's Berkman Center and others take on and examine in detail.
The Internet and Democracy Project is an initiative that will examine how the Internet influences democratic norms and modes, including its impact on civil society, citizen media, government transparency, and the rule of law, with a focus on the Middle East. Through a grant of $1.5 million from the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Berkman Center will undertake the study over the next two years in collaboration with its extended community and institutional partners.

just a few of many 'case studies' in u.s. soft power 'strategic non-violence' for 'regime change'
This set of case studies is part of a series of studies produced by the Internet & Democracy Project, which investigates the impact of the Internet on civic engagement and democratic processes.
Digitally Networked Technology in Kenya's 2007-2008 Post-Election Crisis
September 29, 2008
Sub-Saharan Africa, where meaningful access to digital tools is only beginning to emerge, but where the struggles between failed state and functioning democracy are profound...

The Role of the Internet in Burma’s Saffron Revolution
September 28, 2008
this case study examines the root causes, progress, and outcomes of the Saffron Revolution and attempts to parse out the extent to which technology may have played a useful or detrimental role in the unfolding of events. The case concludes with some initial hypotheses about the long-term impact of the protests and the role of the Internet in highly authoritarian states.

The Role of Digital Networked Technologies in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution
December 01, 2007
This working paper is part of a series examining how the Internet influences democracy. This report is a narrative case study that examines the role of the Internet and mobile phones during Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution. The first section describes the online citizen journalists who reported many stories left untouched by self censored mainstream journalists. The second section investigates the use of digital networked technologies by pro-democracy organizers. This case study concludes with the statement that the Internet and mobile phones made a wide range of activities easier, however the Orange Revolution was largely made possible by savvy activists and journalists willing to take risks to improve their country. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2007/The_Role_of_Digital_Netwo...

"April 9 will reveal whether or not things are about to get shaken up, if not completely transformed, in Georgia"
Red Alert: A Possible Revolution Simmering in Georgia (Open Access)
...The planned protests in Georgia have been scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Soviet crackdown on independence demonstrators in Tbilisi. The opposition movement claims that more than 100,000 people will take to the streets — an ambitious number, as the protests of the past six years have not drawn more than 15,000 people. But this time around, the Georgian people’s discontent is greatly intensified because of the blame placed on Saakashvili after the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008. Most Georgians believe Saakashvili pushed the country into a war, knowing the repercussions, and into a serious financial crisis...Georgia’s opposition has always been fractured and so has only managed to pull together sporadic rallies rather than a real movement. But the growing discontent in Georgia is allowing the opposition groups to finally overcome their differences and agree that Saakashvili should be removed. Even Saakashvili loyalists like former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze and former Georgian Ambassador to the United Nations Irakli Alasania have joined the opposition’s cause, targeting Saakashvili personally. The problem now is that opposition members still do not agree on how to remove the president; some are calling for referendums on new elections, and some want to install a replacement government to make sure Saakashvili does not have a chance to return to power. But all 17 parties agreed to start with large-scale demonstrations in the streets and go from there.

Saakashvili and the remainder of his supporters are prepared, however, with the military on standby outside of Tbilisi in order to counter a large movement. During a demonstration in 2007, Saakashvili deployed the military and successfully — though violently — crushed the protests. But that demonstration consisted of 15,000 protesters; it is unclear if Saakashvili and the military could withstand numbers seven times that.

There is also concern that protests are planned in the Georgian secessionist region of Adjara, which rose up against and rejected Saakashvili’s government in 2004 after the Rose Revolution. This region was suppressed by Saakashvili once and has held a grudge ever since, looking for the perfect time to rise up again. Tbilisi especially wants to keep Adjara under its control because it is home to the large port of Batumi, and many of Georgia’s transport routes to Turkey run through it. If Adjara rises up, there are rumors in the region that its neighboring secessionist region, Samtskhe-Javakheti, will join in to help destabilize Saakashvili and the government. Georgia already officially lost its two northern secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Russian occupation during the August 2008 war and is highly concerned with its southern regions trying to break away.

Russia has long backed all of Georgia’s secessionist regions, but has had difficulty penetrating the Georgian opposition groups in order to organize them against Saakashvili. Though none of the 17 opposition groups are pro-Russian, STRATFOR sources in Georgia say Russian money has been flowing into the groups in order to nudge them along in organizing the impending protests. [exactly what u.s. did and is still doing]
Russia has a vested interest in breaking the Georgian government. Russia and the West been locked in a struggle over the small Caucasus state. That struggle led to the August 2008 Russo-Georgian war, after which Moscow felt secure in its control over Georgia. Since Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama met April 1 and disagreed over a slew of issues, including U.S. ballistic missile defense installations in Poland and NATO expansion to Ukraine and Georgia, Russia is not as secure and is seeking to consolidate its power in Georgia. This means first breaking the still vehemently pro-Western Saakashvili. This does not mean Russia thinks it can get a pro-Russian leader in power in Georgia; it just wants one who is not so outspoken against Moscow and so determined to invite Western influence.
The April 9 protests are the point at which all sides will try to gain — and maintain — momentum. The 2003 Rose Revolution took months to build up to, but the upcoming protests are the starting point for both the opposition and Russia — and opposition movements in Georgia have not seen this much support and organization since the 2003 revolution. April 9 will reveal whether or not things are about to get shaken up, if not completely transformed, in Georgia.

Pakistan drone attacks to intensify, Obama officials say
Tuesday, Pakistani leaders reportedly again rebuked visiting US officials over the airstrikes, which have prompted violent responses from militants.

Assassination by Air
Terminator Planet: Launching the Drone Wars
By Tom Engelhardt
In 1991, after 73 years, the Soviet Union, that Evil Empire, simply evaporated, leaving but a single superpower without rivals astride planet Earth. And then came the unexpected thing: the arms race, which had been almost a century in the making, did not end. Instead, the unimaginable occurred and it simply morphed into a "race" of one with a finish line so distant -- the bomber of 2018, Earth-spanning weapons systems, a vast anti-ballistic missile system, and weaponry for the heavens of perhaps 2050 -- as to imply eternity.
The Pentagon and military-industrial complex surrounding it -- including mega-arms manufacturers, advanced weapons labs, university science centers, and the official or semi-official think tanks that churned out strategies for future military domination -- went right on. After a brief, post-Cold War blip of time in which "peace dividends" were discussed but not implemented, the "race" actually began to amp up again, and after September 11, 2001, went into overdrive against "Islamo-fascism" (aka the Global War on Terror, or the Long War)... the U.S. accounts for nearly half of all global military spending and the total Pentagon budget is almost six times that of the next contender, China. Recently, the Chinese have announced relatively modest plans to build up their military and create a genuinely offshore navy. Similarly, the Russians have moved to downsize and refinance their tattered armed forces and the industrial complex that goes with them, while upgrading their weapons systems. This could potentially make the country more competitive when it comes to global arms dealing, a market more than half of which has been cornered by the U.S....

In those years, our Evil Empire of the moment... a ragtag terrorist outfit made up of perhaps a few thousand adherents and scattered global wannabes, capable of mounting spectacular-looking but infrequent and surprisingly low-tech attacks on symbolic American (and other) targets. Against this enemy, the Pentagon budget became, for a while, an excuse for anything.

This brings us to our present unbalanced world of military might in which the U.S. accounts for nearly half of all global military spending and the total Pentagon budget is almost six times that of the next contender, China. Recently, the Chinese have announced relatively modest plans to build up their military and create a genuinely offshore navy. Similarly, the Russians have moved to downsize and refinance their tattered armed forces and the industrial complex that goes with them, while upgrading their weapons systems. This could potentially make the country more competitive when it comes to global arms dealing, a market more than half of which has been cornered by the U.S....
Three weeks ago, President Obama issued what Reuters termed "an unprecedented videotaped appeal to Iran... offering a 'new beginning' of diplomatic engagement to turn the page on decades of U.S. policy toward America's longtime foe." It was in the form of a Persian New Year's greeting....the U.S. military beat the president to the punch. They sent their own "greetings" to the Iranians a couple of days earlier. After considering what Times reporters Rod Nordland and Alissa J. Rubin term "the delicacy of the incident at a time when the United States is seeking a thaw in its relations with Iran," the U.S. military sent out Col. James Hutton to meet the press and "confirm" that "allied aircraft" had shot down an "Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle" over Iraq on February 25th, more than three weeks earlier. Between that day and mid-March, the relevant Iraqi military and civilian officials were, the Times tells us, not informed. The reason? That drone was intruding on our (borrowed) airspace, not theirs. You probably didn't know it, but according to an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman, "protection of Iraqi airspace remains an American responsibility for the next three years." [digest: imperialist sovereignty]...

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just announced cutbacks in some of the more outré and futuristic military R&D programs inherited from the Cold War era. The Navy's staggering 11 aircraft-carrier battle groups will over time also be reduced by one.... the Navy refers to each of those carriers, essentially floating military bases, as "four and a half acres of sovereign U.S. territory." Nonetheless, the Pentagon budget will grow modestly and the U.S. will remain in a futuristic arms race of one, a significant part of which involves reserving the skies as well as the heavens for American power.
[digest: military planning/ budget changes are mainly for waging guerilla/counterinsurgency wars against the growing millions resisting usraeli hegemonic state terror...anywhere in the world. As Gates explained on PBS this week, the obama policy is part of the same National Defense Strategy Gates put forward under Bush last year but is being misrepresented as cuts and as a move away from 'conventional' war against state actors like China & Russia, which it is not. also he said, the Bush missile defense plan is still operative]

Assassination by air
The most intense of our various drone wars, the one on the other side of the Afghan border in Pakistan, is also the most mysterious. We know that some or all of the drones engaged in it take off from Pakistani airfields; that this "covert war" (which regularly makes front-page news) is run by the CIA out of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia; that its pilots are also located somewhere in the U.S.; and that at least some of them are hired private contractors.

Approximately 5,500 UAVs, mostly unarmed -- less than 250 of them are Predators and Reapers -- now operate over Iraq and the Af-Pak (as in the Afghanistan-Pakistan) theater of operations. Part of the more-than-century-long development of war in the air, drones have become favorites of American military planners. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in particular has demanded increases in their production (and in the training of their "pilots") and urged that they be rushed in quantity into America's battle zones even before being fully perfected. And yet, keep in mind that the UAV still remains in its (frightening) infancy. Such machines are not, of course, advanced cyborgs. They are in some ways not even all that advanced. Because someone now wants publicity for the drone-war program, reporters from the U.S. and elsewhere have recently been given "rare behind-the-scenes" looks at how it works. As a result, and also because the "covert war" in the skies over Pakistan makes Washington's secret warriors proud enough to regularly leak news of its "successes," we know something more about how our drone wars work.

We know, for instance, that at least part of the Air Force's Afghan UAV program runs out of Kandahar Air Base in southern Afghanistan. It turns out that, pilotless as the planes may be, a pilot does have to be nearby to guide them into the air and handle landings. As soon as the drone is up, a two-man team, a pilot and a "sensor monitor," backed by intelligence experts and meteorologists, takes over the controls either at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, or at Creech Air Force Base northwest of Las Vegas, some 7,000-odd miles away. (Other U.S. bases may be involved as well.)

Our drone wars also represent a new chapter in the history of assassination....Today, we increasingly display our assassination wares with pride. To us, at least, it seems perfectly normal for assassination aerial operations to be a part of an open discussion in Washington and in the media. Consider this a new definition of "progress"

Of course, when you openly control squads of assassination drones patrolling airspace over other countries, you've already made a mockery of whatever national sovereignty might once have meant. It's a precedent that may someday even make us distinctly uncomfortable. But not right now... check out the stream of self-congratulatory comments being leaked by Washington officials about our drone assassins. These often lead off news pieces about America's "covert war" over Pakistan ("An intense, six-month campaign of Predator strikes in Pakistan has taken such a toll on Al Qaeda that militants have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say..."); but be sure to read to the end of such pieces. Somewhere in them, after the successes have been touted and toted up, you get the bad news: "In fact, the stepped-up strikes have coincided with a deterioration in the security situation in Pakistan." In Pakistan, a war of machine assassins is visibly provoking terror (and terrorism), as well as anger and hatred among people who are by no means fundamentalists. It is part of a larger destabilization of the country.... Air power has had a remarkably stellar record when it comes to causing death and destruction, but a remarkably poor one when it comes to breaking the will of nations, peoples, or even modest-sized organizations. Our drone wars are destructive, but they are unlikely to achieve Washington's goals.

The Future Awaits Us
If you want to read the single most chilling line yet uttered about drone warfare American-style, it comes at the end of Christopher Drew's piece. He quotes Brookings Institution analyst Peter Singer saying of our Predators and Reapers: "[T]hese systems today are very much Model T Fords. These things will only get more advanced."
In other words, our drone wars are being fought with the airborne equivalent of cars with cranks, but the "race" to the horizon is already underway. By next year, some Reapers will have a far more sophisticated sensor system with 12 cameras capable of filming a two-and-a-half mile round area from 12 different angles. That program has been dubbed "Gorgon Stare", but it doesn't compare to the future 92-camera Argus program whose initial development is being funded by the Pentagon's blue-skies outfit, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Soon enough, a single pilot may be capable of handling not one but perhaps three drones, and drone armaments will undoubtedly grow progressively more powerful and "precise." In the meantime, BAE Systems already has a drone four years into development, the Taranis, that should someday be "completely autonomous"; that is, it theoretically will do without human pilots. Initial trials of a prototype are scheduled for 2010. By 2020, so claim UAV enthusiasts, drones could be engaging in aerial battle and choosing their victims themselves. As Robert S. Boyd of McClatchy reported recently, "The Defense Department is financing studies of autonomous, or self-governing, armed robots that could find and destroy targets on their own. On-board computer programs, not flesh-and-blood people, would decide whether to fire their weapons."... Rest assured that no one with a governmental red cent is researching the health care system of 2018 or 2035, or the public education system of those years.

US regional military plans to integrate Sri Lanka
By Saman Gunadasa
11 June 2002
As part of a growing US military presence on the Indian subcontinent, the Bush administration is preparing to sign a defence agreement next month with Sri Lanka to provide extensive access to the island’s ports, airfields and air space for the US armed forces. The agreement known as the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) is the first such pact entered into by a Sri Lankan government with a major Western power since the country’s independence in 1948.
The negotiations have been held in secret and no details have been formally released. The US embassy in Sri Lanka only commented after the weekly Sunday Times in Colombo leaked news of the deal...The US will provide military training as well as equipment and spare parts. “The training, which will encompass joint exercises with United States Armed Forces, will focus on counter terrorism and related activity... Neither Colombo nor Washington is willing to confirm the release of two maritime surveillance aircraft and one patrol ship to intensify surveillance over the eastern seas of Sri Lanka.”Even before the agreement has been signed, US warships have begun to dock in Colombo harbour to refuel and to provide shore leave for sailors. The USS Hopper arrived in April, the first American navy vessel to dock in Colombo in eight years.
Concerned that the deal may provoke protests by those opposed to aggressive US interventions in the region, Washington and Colombo have attempted to play down its significance. Spokesmen in both countries have described the agreement as “routine”—just like those signed by the US with another 56 countries....

The agreement will however have far reaching implications. Firstly, it will strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in negotiations with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), due to start in Thailand next month. The talks, which follow a ceasefire reached in February, are over a settlement to Sri Lanka’s brutal 19-year civil war. The defence pact with the US provides Wickremesinghe, who is already under fire from Sinhala chauvinist groups, with a bargaining chip to extract concessions from the LTTE.
The obvious threat is: if the LTTE fails to agree, any renewed fighting will see significant US support for the Sri Lankan armed forces. “Counterterrorism” training and surveillance of the island’s eastern seas take on a particular meaning in that context. The ruling elites in U.S. and Colombo brand the LTTE and its operations as “terrorist”...

For the US, a defence agreement with Sri Lanka offers access to military facilities on an island that is strategically placed not only in relation to the Indian subcontinent but also a huge area of the Indian Ocean from the Middle East to South East Asia. Bush’s “global war on terrorism” has provided the pretext for the invasion of Afghanistan, the establishment of military bases in Central Asia and closer military ties with a number of countries including India. The deal with Colombo integrates Sri Lanka into Washington’s broader strategic plans, with one of the prime goals being domination of Central Asia’s huge oil and gas reserves.
US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ashley Wills, obliquely underscored the importance of the island’s strategic position potential to the US. He told a gathering of scholars, diplomats and journalists in Washington that “because of its location and the talent and ‘entrepreneurial outlook’ of its citizens, the 19-million-strong nation stands to evolve into the Singapore of South Asia and prosper”. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jun2002/sri-j11.shtml

"Of course we are entering a more multipolar world...But there are other realities, too. We should not underestimate the diplomatic and moral leverage created by the combination of the world's most expeditionary military and a new president who will boast high approval ratings at home and around the world."
A Gentler Hegemony, WP, Robert Kaplan, 12/17/08

Indian Ocean 'Center State' For Future Navy, Marine Missions
CNAS Senior Fellow Robert Kaplan
The cartography of the Indian Ocean illustrates the large area in which the Navy and Marine Corps should play an integral role in 21st century security, patrolling the high seas and acting as a “street-fighting” force to quell disruptions in the southeast Asian archipelago and assist in large-scale humanitarian relief missions, according to a respected journalist and fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

“The goal of the United States must be to forge a global maritime system that can minimize the risks of interstate conflict while lessening the burden of policing for the U.S. Navy”
“A map of the Indian Ocean exposes the contours of power politics in the twenty-first century,” Robert Kaplan writes in an article published in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs. The world’s third largest body of water is more than a geographic feature, Kaplan argues, it’s also an idea. “It combines the centrality of Islam with global energy politics and the rise of India and China to reveal a multilayered, multipolar world,” he writes. “The dramatic economic growth of India and China has been duly noted, but the equally dramatic military ramifications of this development have not.”

Growing security concerns in the Indian Ocean present both challenges and opportunities for the U.S. Navy, Kaplan notes. “The goal of the United States must be to forge a global maritime system that can minimize the risks of interstate conflict while lessening the burden of policing for the U.S. Navy,” he writes. In a telephone interview with Inside the Navy last week, Kaplan said the U.S. Navy needs to have “three navies.”..

“I think that the Indian Ocean cartography bears out the commandant’s position,” Kaplan said. “The map reveals there’s going to be a real future in expeditionary deployments.”
“You look at the coast of Somalia, the coast of Bangladesh, the coast of Indonesia [and] what you see is more amphibious landing kind of scenarios,” he noted. Historically, the Marine Corps has deployed small groups of personnel throughout the globe conducting training and assisting in small operations with indigenous forces, something the service may return to on a larger scale. “The Marine Corps has a real tradition in this,” Kaplan said. “In the small wars they fought in Central and South America, with the so-called ‘China Marines,’ and with the Marines standing up units in [U.S. Special Operations Command], which is mainly going to be train and equip missions where you’re going to need language expertise -- alot of that is going to take place in the Indian Ocean.”

A shift in regional focus already occurring
In the tri-service maritime strategy released in October 2007, the Coast Guard, Marines and Navy outline a shift in focus away from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. “Credible combat power will be continuously postured in the Western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean to protect our vital interests, assure our friends and allies of our continuing commitment to regional security, and deter and dissuade potential adversaries and peer competitors,” a “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” states...

“The more the United States becomes a maritime hegemon, as opposed to a land-based one, the less threatening itwill seem to others,” he writes.

“But even if the comparative size of the U.S. Navy decreases in the decades ahead, the United States will remain the one great power from outside the Indian Ocean region with a major presence there -- a unique position that will give it the leverage to act as a broker between India and China in their own backyard.”

master of whitewashing capitalist - imperialism
Obama: Sri Lanka afflicted with "problem of the other"
08 January 2008
Characterizing the conflict in Sri Lanka as a "vicious civil war," Senator Barack Obama, a leading Democratic contender in America's forth coming 2008 Presidential Elections, said during an interview that, "the problem of the 21st century is the problem of the other." He described this phenomenon as the inability of people to accommodate others "who are not like us," and mentioned Sri Lanka as an example, pointing out that war rages even when "everybody there looks exactly the same." This problem of “the other” afflicted places like Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and the issue of race within the United States, he said.... http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=24211

Editorial: Lanka in Obama era
Vice President-elect Joe Biden, with his decades-long involvement with US-Sri Lanka policy is likely to be the point-man for the future Obama Administration with Sri Lanka, but the Colombo Government's recent rebuffs to letters sent by US Senators, including John Kerry (who is a candidate for the Secretary of State job) on the insurgency in this country, will not be a happy omen. The victorious US Democrats have said that the question of terrorism needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis. One can only hope that the same US Establishment that so far supported the Sri Lankan Government against the northern separatist insurgency would - as they did in other theatres where they have botched things up -- be able to, ironically, convince the next US Administration against any change in direction, at least in Sri Lanka's war on terror. .

Obama, Imran condemn cricket slaughter
March 4, 2009
President Barack Obama led global condemnation of the deadly attack by gunmen on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team. And Pakistan cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan joined a growing outcry at the level of security for the Sri Lankan team....
During a joint press conference at the White House with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr Obama said the details of the attack and who was responsible were still coming in but that "obviously we're deeply concerned". "Both Great Britain and the United States share a deep interest in ensuring that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan are safe havens for terrorist activity, he said. "And we have coordinated effectively in the past, but the truth is that the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. The safe havens for al-Qaeda remain in the frontier regions of Pakistan," he said. Mr Brown did not comment on the attacks because the President wound up the press conference after his comments.
The attacks are a major blow to international cricket and to Pakistan in particular, which was scheduled to co-host the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Teams have expressed concern about security in the past but the latest attacks, which took place despite police escorts and elaborate arrangements, will likely spell the end of visits by foreign teams. All of the attackers escaped so their affiliations and motives are currently unknown

'humanitarian u.s. will send more soft power NGOs to assist military ops'
Hillary Clinton calls Rajapaksa
Humanitarian Situation in Sri Lanka
Gordon Duguid Acting Deputy Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman Bureau of Public Affairs Washington, DC
March 13, 2009
On March 13, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa to express the United States’ deep concern over the deteriorating conditions and increasing loss of life occurring in the Government of Sri Lanka-designated “safe zone” in northern Sri Lanka. The Secretary offered immediate and post-conflict reconstruction assistance and she extended condolences to the victims of the March 10 bombing outside a mosque in southern Sri Lanka. The Secretary condemned the actions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who are reported to be holding civilians as human shields, and to have shot at civilians leaving LTTE areas of control... The Secretary urged President Rajapaksa to give international humanitarian relief organizations full access to the conflict area and displaced persons camps, including screening centers... to put forward a proposal now to engage Tamils who do not espouse violence or terrorism, and to develop power sharing arrangements so that lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved.

classic divide to conquer attempt to pit 'civilians' and liberation movement against each other fails
Sri Lanka: 420 Tamil Tigers Killed in Rebel Stronghold
Aril 5, 2009
Government forces have been saying for months they are in a final push to defeat the rebels - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - and end 25 years of civil war, after a string of major victories in which the rebel administrative capital and main bases were captured....The Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Tamilshttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB123892360157190199.html

Surrender the only way out, Lanka president warns LTTE
6 Apr 2009
COLOMBO: With the LTTE remnants, including its top leaders, believed to be hiding in a narrow strip teeming with civilians, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday asked them to lay down arms or "face rout" as troops braced for a final battle after killing 480 rebels in four days of fighting. With the operation turning more complex after the rebels were forced into the no-fire zone, the security forces are now preparing to rescue over 70,000 Tamil civilians trapped there.... http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/UK/Surrender-the-only-way-out-L...

Tamil Tiger flags seized as Westminster protest grows
April 7, 2009
Scotland Yard warned it may have to make “a huge number of arrests” as the size of the Tamil rally swelled beyond 1,000 after the demonstration seemed to have been quelled this morning. Protesters were forced into the centre of Parliament Square by lunchtime as police finally pushed the unauthorised Sri Lankan demonstration off Westminster’s busy roads after almost 24 hours of disruption. An unconfirmed number of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) flags have been seized by officers who warned the protesters that it was illegal to carry images representing a proscribed terrorist organisation, under the Terrorism Act 2000....it appeared that the worst of the demonstration was over. Thousands of Tamil demonstrators blocked Westminster Bridge, Victoria Embankment and the roads around Parliament Square from around 3pm yesterday and Westminster Underground Station was closed this morning as officers attempted to restore order... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6052635.ece

still united in fighting for national liberation, exposing propaganda lies
100,000 Tamil supporters march through London
11Apr 2009
LONDON: At least 100,000 people marched in London on Saturday to demand an immediate end to Sri Lanka's bloody offensive against Tamil Tiger

slimebag oppressors take revolutionaries for fools...contributing to their own ultimate defeat
Sri Lanka declares 48-hour ceasefire in civil war
12 Apr 2009
Sri Lanka's president on Sunday ordered government troops to halt their offensive against cornered Tamil rebels over the two-day Sinhala and Tamil New Year that starts on Monday. Mahinda Rajapakse's office said in a statement that the move would allow thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in the fighting to celebrate the New Year.... to restrict their operations during the New Year to those of a defensive nature,"..."In the true spirit of the season, it is timely for the LTTE to acknowledge its military defeat," the statement said. "The LTTE must also renounce terrorism and violence permanently." There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers, who reject charges that they are holding tens of thousands of Tamil civilians as a human shield. "The President is deeply conscious of the need to give the civilian population entrapped as hostages by the ruthless actions of the LTTE the opportunity to celebrate these festivities," the statement said.
The brief ceasefire is also aimed at allowing more civilians to escape from the remaining rebel-held territory and seek shelter in a government-controlled area, officials added. Rajapakse has insisted that the troops would push on until they have secured the complete surrender of the Tigers, whose decades-long armed campaign for an independent Tamil homeland appears almost over. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/South-Asia/Sri-Lanka-declares-4...