Friday, September 29, 2017

Moscow prepared for possible nuclear attack - EMERCOM

Moscow prepared for possible nuclear attack - EMERCOM

Moscow prepared for possible nuclear attack - EMERCOM. 58941.jpeg
Source: REX
Representatives for the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM) said that all bomb shelters and underground shelters in Moscow meant for the evacuation of people in case of a nuclear attack or other emergencies, "were prepared and will be able to accommodate the entire population of the capital."
"As a result of the introduction of new approaches to civil defense, an inventory of underground facilities of the city was conducted. The Moscow underground facilities will be able to protect  100% of the population of the city," deputy head of EMERCOM of Russia in Moscow, Andrei Mishchenko said. 
He also added that the department takes urgent measures to enhance civil defense. The department updates the legal framework and modernizes control and alarm systems.
"We work to improve the public training system in the field of civil defense," he said. 
Noteworthy, the Ministry for Communications, the Finance Ministry, the Ministry for Industry, the Russian State Reserve and the Bank of Russia earlier took part in a sudden inspection of the Russian army. The above-mentioned departments worked in a "war-time" mode to test their systems for a possible war
The Washington Free Beacon wrote citing US intelligence that Russia suddenly started building super bunkers. According to the publication, "dozens" of such bunkers are being built across the country.
Experts point out that their creation is associated with the introduction of a prospective integrated automated command and control system of the fifth generation into Russian missile forces.
To crown it all, according to services responsible for the organization of civil defense and emergency response, a special program was launched in Moscow in 2015, within the scope of which bomb shelters and fallout shelters were built or renewed in every district of the Russian capital. 
Two years ago, Russia conducted drills to repulse a nuclear attack on Moscow and strike a massive retaliatory blow. Reportedly, President Putin used the "nuclear suitcase" during the drills. 
In 2015, both Russian and American generals said for the first time that a nuclear war between the United States and Russia was close like never before.
"Despite the fact that the majority of Russians, including Muscovites, do not know where bomb shelters are located in their neighborhoods, there is a list of addresses of bomb shelters. The shelters are now maintained accordingly to give people an opportunity to go through several days of a man-made emergency or a nuclear attack," EMERCOM officials said.

Thayer, The Trump Administration's Policy on the South China Sea: Rhetoric and Reality by Carlyle Alan Thayer

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Illuminati-themed Fashion Show Held at London Catholic Church

Illuminati-themed Fashion Show Held at London Catholic Church

St. Andrews Church used as location for black mass fashion show

A troupe of models pranced the runway inside of a Catholic church while rocking Turkish fashion designer Dilara Findikoglu’s Illuminati-inspired line for “Fashion Week.”

The controversial pieces make up Dilara’s “Spring/Summer 2018 collection,” and are likely to attract the attention of deep-pocketed fashion goers from around the globe, such as Rihanna who’s previously been spotted in the designer’s exotic rags.

Dilara’s newest designs range from a Nightmare Before Christmas look, to a Beetlejuice meets Lacuna Coil witchcraft-vampire feel, and were introduced by average models who were caked with pale face paint and temporary tattoos.

One of the show’s highlights was when Dilara utilized dragqueen Violet Chachki to sport a devilishly red hot outfit which showcased Chachi’s hair as proverbial horns, while Illuminati-esque imagery filled the background.
Shepard Ambellas is an opinion journalist, analyst, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Intellihub News & Politics ( Shepard is also known for producing Shade: The Motion Picture (2013) and appearing on Travel Channel’s America Declassified (2013). Shepard is a regular contributor to Infowars. Read more from Shep’s World. Follow Shep on Facebook.

Communism Never Died, It Was Cleverly Repackaged for the Historically Impaired and Useful Idiots

Useful idiots in America, fat and happy on capitalist food and goods, are deaf and ignorant

Communism Never Died, It Was Cleverly Repackaged for the Historically Impaired and Useful Idiots

“For us in Russia, communism is a dead dog. For many people in the West, it is still a living lion.” — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
In 1950 Congress passed the Internal Security Act and, four years later, the Communist Control Act. It condemned communism and the Communist Party of the United States. Today a sizeable portion of Congress actually belongs to the Communist Party U.S.A. or is sympathetic to it. In a recent poll, 40 percent of Americans prefer communism to capitalism.
In 1954 Congress delineated penalties for anyone belonging to a party or a group calling for the violent overthrow of the United States. Just being a member, however, was not enough reason for arrest or penalty.  Today members of Congress, public citizens, and illegals call for the overthrow of our government without any penalties.
The Internal Security Act of 1950 is known as the Subversive Activities Control Act or the McCarran Act, after its principal sponsor, Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nevada).  Congress enacted this federal law over President Harry Truman’s veto who was concerned about the fact that it curtailed the freedom of speech, press, and of assembly.
This act required communist organizations to register with a subversive activities control board; investigations were made of suspected persons who promoted a “totalitarian dictatorship,” either fascist or communist.  If persons were members of such groups, they could not become citizens or enter/leave the U.S.
If found in violation of the McCarran Act, a person could lose his/her citizenship for five years. There was an emergency statute that gave the President the power to “apprehend and detain each person as to whom there is a reasonable ground to believe that such person probably will engage in, or probably will conspire with others to engage in, acts of espionage or sabotage.”
The McCarran Act strengthened “alien exclusion and deportation laws” and, in times of war, allowed for the detention of dangerous, disloyal, or subversive persons. Picketing a federal courthouse was a felony if the intention was to obstruct the court system or influence jurors or other trial participants.
The House overrode Truman’s veto without debate by a vote of 286–48 the same day. The Senate overrode his veto the next day after “a twenty-two hour continuous battle” by a vote of 57–10. Thirty-one Republicans and 26 Democrats voted in favor, while five members of each party opposed it. (Trussel, C.P. September 24, 1950. Red Bill Veto Beaten, 57-10, By Senators.” New York Times)
Hollywood and the press dubbed this period of time the Red Scare and McCarthyism even though Sen. McCarthy, a war hero, was vindicated recently through the release of the Venona papers - there were people in Hollywood and other fields who were communist spies and sympathizers.

The Communist Party U.S.A. continues to exist today despite the claims from the left that the Red Scare had run its course

The Communist Party U.S.A. continues to exist today despite the claims from the left that the Red Scare had run its course. Communist-leaning organizations like the ACLU, labor unions, and NAACP are now an important part of the American political milieu. According to the left, “a more liberal Supreme Court began to chip away at the immense tangle of anticommunist legislation that had been passed during the 1940s and 1950s. Today, the Communist Party of the United States continues to exist and regularly runs candidates for local, state, and national elections.”
Today’s large percentage of the American public who think that it would be a great idea to live under communism as opposed to capitalism, are not unlike Eugene Lyons who wrote “Assignment in Utopia” in 1937, describing his communist activism and journalism in America and his journey to Russia where the reality and harshness of Bolshevism hit him squarely in the face.
Lyons was shocked to meet hundreds of Bolsheviks barking orders to ordinary Russians “in whom suffering seemed to have burned out all emotion.” Only the charred husks of their character remained.” (p. 56)
In a mood of romantic anticipation, Lyons arrived in the “land of proletarian dictatorship,” expecting a country of milk and honey with beds of roses. What he found was a forlorn-looking station; “nor cold nor darkness could douse our high mood of expectation.”  It was a thrill to find his private, misguided, and misconstrued esoteric symbols of what he perceived to be Utopia on earth.
Negotiating a permit, a propusk, Lyons realized that the word loomed “gigantic on Russia’s horizon.” Russians needed a permit for everything. “It allowed me to enter the musty old building, to follow my secretary through a maze of dark corridors, and finally to meet the censors. As a correspondent dubbed “sympathetic” and “friendly,” Lyons was shocked that he could not see President Kalinin. Comrade Rothstein, his handler, raised his eyebrows at this American’s temerity.
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Eugene Lyons illogically gave the Russian revolution credit for everything cultural, art, opera, theater, parties, fun, which the country had actually inherited from the tsarist era

“Would a foreign correspondent arriving in Washington, have the nerve to ask to see President Coolidge, Rothstein asked.  Lyons realized that communism operated under a “barbed-wire of inaccessibility.” No press conferences twice a week, no press secretary, no questions taken from the media like in America. The Russian communist president was king, no consultations with his cabinet members or his Secretary of State.
Even an idealist like Lyons eventually realized that the Bolsheviks, “the newly powerful, like the newly rich, are on the alert against any slight to their dignity” and this dignity was boundless.
Lyons found the Soviet’s capital intensely cold, with frequent blizzards and snowstorms, and “the night that comes so soon after noon make it an aloof and forbidding place.”  Russians called Moscow “the largest village in their land.”
Prior to Bolsheviks taking power, “until food stringency and growing political fears put a damper on such things, Moscow was a city of endless parties.” The cobbled streets and broken side-walks were quite dangerous under tightly packed snow. “A few well stocked shop windows seemed ill at ease in their embarrassing prosperity among the dusty windows filled with debris and emptiness.” Such was the grim and dingy life of Russian communism. (p. 58)
In its ardent idealism and longing for the communist utopia, Eugene Lyons illogically gave the Russian revolution credit for everything cultural, art, opera, theater, parties, fun, which the country had actually inherited from the tsarist era.  Idealist rebels like Lyons did not notice the misery and shortcomings surrounding him or glossed over them.

To say that today’s youth have learned nothing from history is an understatement

Living in the Lux Hotel, an overcrowded tenement of cabbage odors of all nations, colors, and tongues,  Lyons described the tenants as “the international communist type – if not the same features, at least the same negligent dress, unkempt hair, and the same expression of anxious devotion.”
Lyons said, “Never before had I witnessed so much naked, unashamed sycophancy and career-building concentrated under one roof.” And Uncle Kremlin was protecting them with police, was shadowing them with Russian spies, made sure they stayed in their communist graces. One wrong move or sentence and they were out.  Uncle Kremlin was “suspicious of his foreign nephews and nieces” who “might forget themselves and play with those horrid Trotsky brats.”
After six years of living in Moscow post Russian Revolution, Lyons realized that equality of communism was just an illusion. He was infected by the disease of economic change, from capitalism to communism. He said, “I was ready to liquidate classes, purge millions, sacrifice freedoms and elementary decencies, arm self-appointed dictators with a flaming sword – all for the cause. It was a species of revenge rationalized as social engineering. Then I saw these things in full swing and discovered that the revenge was being wreaked on the very masses that were to be saved by that cause.”
To say that today’s youth have learned nothing from history is an understatement. It is obvious in the Bolshevik and Stalinist cultural purge the BLM, a racist organization, and ANTIFA, a fascist organization, engage in largely undisturbed. No historical monument or statue seems to stand in their way of violence and destruction.
The New York Times published a sympathetic piece about communism, “When Communism Inspired Americans.”  At the time, it was a misguided fringe of deluded proletarian activists perhaps who worshiped at the foot of Soviet Bolshevism.
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Vivian Gornick wrote,
“I was 20 years old in February 1956 when Nikita Khrushchev addressed the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party and revealed to the world the incalculable horror of Stalin’s rule. Night after night the people at my father’s kitchen table raged or wept or sat staring into space. I was beside myself with youthful rage. ‘Lies! I screamed at them. Lies and treachery and murder. And all in the name of socialism! In the name of socialism!’  Confused and heartbroken, they pleaded with me to wait and see, this couldn’t be the whole truth, it simply couldn’t be. But it was.”
It seems that a whole lot of Americans today, influenced daily by the mainstream media and Hollywood, are “inspired” by Venezuela’s bankrupt and starving socialism, Castro’s murderous socialist regime, Che Guevara’s revolutionary and chic hat, North Korea’s “rocket” mad man who is starving his own people, and Mao’s Chinese Marxist model.
Useful idiots in America, fat and happy on capitalist food and goods, are deaf and ignorant of the words of Heinrich Heine who said, “Communism possesses a language which every people can understand – its elements are hunger, envy, and death.”
We don’t see any wannabe communists, actors, professors, and journalists rushing to turn in their American passports to move to those dictatorial countries, although they threaten us plenty that they will leave America because they irrationally loathe the capitalism that gave them a good life, success, and wealth, and President Trump, a supporter of freedom, sovereignty, and economic prosperity.

President Trump Eyeing Major Changes to Disastrous Nuclear Deal with Iran

President Trump may be maneuvering towards a position that uses the threat of restoring sanctions, and imposing new secondary sanctions on firms doing business with certain individuals and entities in Iran

President Trump Eyeing Major Changes to Disastrous Nuclear Deal with Iran

President Trump used his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19th to lash out at Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He called it an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and one-sided transactions the U.S. has ever entered into,” warning the General Assembly that “you haven’t heard the last on it, believe me.” President Trump said on Wednesday that he has made up his mind on what to do about the JCPOA, but would not disclose his decision publicly at this time. There are reports that the president is leaning towards refusing to sign the next certification to Congress of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA by the deadline of October 15th.  This would place the matter in Congress’s lap to decide within 60 days whether to re-impose the sanctions that had been lifted as a result of the JCPOA’s implementation. If Congress does so, the whole deal will likely unravel.
President Trump may be maneuvering towards a position that uses the threat of restoring sanctions, and imposing new secondary sanctions on firms doing business with certain individuals and entities in Iran, as leverage to pressure the U.S.’s Western European negotiating partners into agreeing to join his demand for a re-opening of negotiations with Iran.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani closed the door on re-opening the JCPOA for negotiations during his own address to the General Assembly and in his remarks afterwards to the press. “It will be a great pity if this agreement would be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics,” he said in a veiled reference to President Trump. He later told reporters that there could be no amending, reopening or renegotiation of the JCPOA as far as Iran was concerned.
With a straight face, President Rouhani claimed his regime never threatens anyone. He did not bother to explain how the missile launched by Iran last year with the Hebrew inscription, “Israel should be wiped off the Earth,” is something other than a threat. He also sidestepped Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s threat in 2001: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” And President Rouhani conveniently ignored the fact that, just days before his General Assembly speech, Iran’s army chief threatened Israel with destruction. “We will destroy the Zionist entity at lightning speed,” the army chief admonished Israel. “I warn the [Zionist] entity not to make any stupid move against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Every [such] stupid act will [make us] turn Tel Aviv and Haifa into dust.”
It is in this context that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained in his speech to the General Assembly, delivered on the same day that President Trump had spoken, why he has continued to raise alarms about the JCPOA. “President Trump rightly called the nuclear deal… an embarrassment,” the prime minister said. “Well, I couldn’t agree with him more. And here’s why: Iran vows to destroy my country every day, including by its chief of staff the other day. Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.”
There are at least three glaring defects in the JCPOA that need to be fixed, short of scrapping it altogether as a fatally flawed deal with an untrustworthy, terrorist-sponsoring rogue regime.
The first is the so-called sunset provision, setting expiration dates from 10 to 15 years on the loophole ridden restrictions the JCPOA imposes on Iran’s nuclear program. As Prime Minister Netanyahu explained in his General Assembly speech, the sunset clause means that the JCPOA “restrictions will be automatically removed — not by a change in Iran’s behavior, not by a lessening of its terror or its aggression. They’ll just be removed by a mere change in the calendar.” The prime minister added that “when that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world, because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons.” In short, we will be facing a reprise of the clear and present danger created by nuclear-armed North Korea, which previous agreements with that rogue state failed to prevent. Thus, President Trump sees it as a top priority to change the JCPOA’s dangerous sunset provision.
Second, Obama made a major last minute concession by agreeing not to include an unambiguous legal ban in the JCOPA on Iran’s development and testing of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Instead, with former Secretary of State John Kerry leading the negotiations, the Obama administration and its negotiating partners – the United Kingdom, France, the European Union, Russia, China and Germany – went along with swapping an unambiguous missile ban that was a cornerstone of previous UN Security Council resolutions for a wishy washy new Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA. Security Council Resolution 2231 no longer imposes legally binding restrictions on Iran’s own ballistic missile activity. Instead Iran is merely “called upon” to refrain from such missile-related activities for up to eight years from the date the JCPOA was formally adopted. Politely calling upon Iran to do something does not amount to a legally binding prohibition. Iran has tested several ballistic missiles, claiming correctly that such activities do not violate the literal terms of the JCPOA. President Trump wants to fix this glaring deficiency.
Third, the inspection system put into place to verify Iran’s compliance with its JCPOA commitments is woefully inadequate. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is the international body charged with monitoring Iran’s compliance, must be able to inspect “anytime, anywhere” it suspects a possible violation, including at military sites.  Currently, that is not the case. Iran can place certain sites off-limits or conduct its own self-inspections. That’s like placing the arsonist in charge of putting out the fire he sets.
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Despite the JCPOA’s obvious grave shortcomings, the U.S.’s Western European negotiating partners appear unwilling to open it up for re-negotiation. Heaven forbid that they might rile the Iranian regime’s feathers and lose the prospect of billions of dollars in trade with the rogue regime.
Federica Mogherini, the foreign affairs minister for the European Commission, spoke to reporters at UN headquarters following a closed door meeting that included U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and diplomats from Britain, France and Germany as well as the United States’ UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Ms. Mogherini said that the idea of seeking to change the JCPOA or the Security Council resolution endorsing it did not come up for serious discussion in the meeting since the JCPOA was “fully delivering.” She added that “the international community cannot afford dismantling an agreement that is working and delivering.”
Given its fundamental flaws, the international community cannot afford sticking with this nuclear agreement as is. Simply kicking the can down the road will set the world up for another North Korea style existential threat in little more than a decade. Prime Minister Netanyahu had it right when he said in his General Assembly speech that “the greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal, but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal.”
While Ms. Mogherini was correct in saying that the JCPOA is not just a “bilateral agreement,” it was essentially the product of bilateral negotiations between Zarif, Kerry and their respective teams. If Iran so far has not violated its specific binding JCPOA commitments, it is only because Obama and Kerry recklessly permitted the JCPOA’s terms to be so tilted in Iran’s favor. What was done in this case can and must be undone.

Russia and China have their own geopolitical and economic reasons for not wanting to see the JCPOA altered. However, their opposition to any changes can be overcome if America’s Western European negotiating partners stand united in placing significant economic pressure on Iran if it refuses to reopen negotiations, particularly on the sunset and ballistic missile issues. Nevertheless, Western European countries appear all too willing to sacrifice long term international security for a feel-good short term moratorium on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and for the pot of gold that Iran is dangling.
The European Union came in third after China and India as one of Iran’s top trading partners in goods in 2016. The EU’s exports of goods to Iran grew by 27.8 percent in 2016. Machinery and transport equipment accounted for 46.2 percent of such exports, some of which may well be dual-use.
France’s energy company Total signed a $5 billion contract with Iran last July. And this may only be the tip of the iceberg.
If money filling these countries’ coffers is the only thing these countries understand, then the Trump administration may have to force them to make a choice between continuing to do business as usual with the United States or going after business with Iranian individuals and entities on the U.S.’s most updated sanctions list.
As President Trump said, “When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.” We cannot allow Iran to become another North Korea.

Barbarism and Shame: Why the US Refuses a Korea Peace Treaty

Barbarism and Shame: Why the US Refuses a Korea Peace Treaty
By Finian Cunningham
September 22, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - The Korean crisis is a powerful lens on American barbarism, past and present. Despite Washington’s self-righteousness and pretensions of virtue, the modern history of Korea is an especially powerful lesson that destroys the American national mythology.
Listening to President Trump’s conceited rhetoric about wiping out North Korea has an eerie resonance with the rhetoric of President Truman. Truman launched into the Korean War more than six decades ago with same arrogant, mythical presumptions of American virtue and self-ordained right to use overwhelming military force.
For reasons of political self-preservation, Washington must live in denial of historical reality. US leaders out of necessity have to construct an alternative, fictional narrative for their nation’s conduct. Because if historical reality were acknowledged, the rulers in Washington, and the whole edifice of presumed American greatness, would implode from the endemic moral corruption. 
The Korean War (1950-53) has been described as the most barbaric war since the Second World War. Up to four million people were killed in a three-year period. The US air force dropped more tonnage of bombs on the country than was dropped during the whole of its Pacific War against Japan.
Despite this massive and barbaric effort in Korea, the first war of the incipient Cold War turned out to be a source of potentially crippling shame for the US. This risk of shame to the American mythical self-image of virtue explains why the Korean War has become known as the “forgotten war”. It would also explain why present and past US governments prefer to bury their responsibility to end the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
Sixty-four years after the end of the Korean War, the United States continues to refuse to sign a peace treaty with the other main belligerent party – North Korea. Indeed, the issue is not even publicly addressed by Washington, which shows how far removed political awareness of American responsibilities is.
Yet, the signing of such a peace treaty by the US is essential to establishing a viable framework to resolve the current and recurring security crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
The Korean War came to an end in July 1953 with the declaration of an armistice, or truce. The armistice was never formalized into a legally binding peace treaty, largely due to American intransigence not to do so. The absence of a peace treaty is almost unique in the history of modern warfare.
Technically, therefore, the Korean War is not over. It is simply on pause. So, when US military exercises are conducted with its South Korean ally – several times every year – the war drills are plausible grounds for North Korea to fear a resumption of large-scale hostilities.
As former US ambassador to South Korea, James Laney, has stated: “One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War. A peace treaty would provide a baseline for relationships, eliminating the question of the other’s legitimacy and its right to exist.”
The looming question is: why does the US government and its military leaders not sign a peace treaty with North Korea?
One reason is that the ongoing state of war on the Korean Peninsula provides the US with important strategic advantages – too important for it to forfeit by concluding a peace treaty with North Korea. Lucrative weapons sales – decade after decade – for “protecting” allies in South Korea and Japan is a boon for the US military-industrial complex that drives its economy.
With the presence of 70,000 US troops in Japan and South Korea and the regular positioning of aircraft carriers, missile destroyers and nuclear-capable warplanes, the ongoing low-intensity conflict with North Korea gives the US a politically acceptable cover to project military power for economic influence in the vital, resource-rich region of Asia-Pacific.
The installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and the Aegis anti-missile systems in South Korea and Japan – allegedly to “protect from North Korean aggression” – is also an important strategic gain for Washington to exert leverage over China and Russia. Indeed, this may be the main strategic objective.
These economic and military strategic issues have been broached elsewhere in a recent article as to why the US is more interested in maintaining conflict on the Korean Peninsula than pursuing peace.
What is worth considering here is the legacy of the Korean War as to why the US continues to bury that conflict as a “forgotten war”. What is it about the Korean War which seems to make it unpalatable for Washington to publicly acknowledge?
The Korean War can be seen as the first major test of US moral and military authority in the Cold War. We must remember that a mere five years after the Second World War, the US had staked its image on presenting itself as the “leader of the free world” against the Soviet Union and “evil communism”. In Western political mythology, the US had gloriously won the Second World War, defeating Nazi Germany and saving Europe from totalitarianism. The actual much bigger achievement of the Soviet Union in defeating European fascism was – and still is – conveniently downplayed by Western official narratives.
Soon the evil of Nazi Germany was recycled to be projected on to the Soviet Union and world communism. The supposedly Christian, democracy and freedom-loving United States was presented as the noble defender of the “free world” against “the evil of communist expansionism”.
When the civil war in Korea erupted in June 1950, the US-backed southern administration led by Syngman Rhee claimed that it was communist aggression by the north with the support of the Soviet Union and communist China. The year before, Mao had just successfully won China’s civil war against the US-backed Chiang Kai-Shek forces which fled to Formosa (Taiwan).
From the US point of view, steeped in Cold War ideology of Red Menace, the war in Korea looked like another domino falling to world communism.
The origins of the war are murky. American claims about North Korean aggression are belied by the fact that the US-backed Rhee regime in Seoul had carried out countless acts of aggression against the de facto northern state led by Kim Il Sung (grandfather of the current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un).
In any case, Korea became a paramount test for presumed US global authority. President Truman had already declared the Truman Doctrine of “defending the world from communist aggression”.
Arguably, the US had no justification for entering the war. It railroaded the newly formed United Nations for a mandate to intervene “on behalf of the UN”. The facts suggest that the conflict in Korea was one of national self-determination between, on the one hand, competing socialist factions popular in the north and in the south, and on the other hand, the US-backed autocratic regime of Syngman Rhee. The latter’s hold on power was shaky due to US imposition immediately following the Second World War. Rhee’s dictatorship, comprising military trained under the previous Japanese fascist colonial regime (1910-45), had carried out mass executions of suspected “communist supporters – with American support. It was deeply unpopular and would inevitably have been overthrown in the ferment of anti-colonial movements that were sweeping Korea and the world in the post-Second World War era.
In other words, the Korean War was an unnecessary slaughter that was fueled by US interference and ideological presumptions of leadership against “evil communism”.
During the Korean War, the US unleashed barbarism with new technological weapons, writes American historian Jeremy Kuzmarov.
It was the first war when napalm incendiary bombs were used in large scale in a scorched-earth tactic of indiscriminately destroying villages and civilians seen as “guerrilla sympathizers”. Farms, crops, cattle, dikes and dams were also pulverized by American B-29 bombers. The entire country was obliterated in order to “save it” from communism.
American actions were a monumental violation of the Geneva Convention which had only just been signed in 1949, forbidding the indiscriminate killing of civilians. The ink was barely dry when American forces were running rivers of blood all over Korea. The communist guerrillas also reportedly carried out atrocities. But in no comparable way to the scale that the US was committing.
How was US conduct in Korea any different from the genocidal “total war” concept of the Nazi Third Reich? Exactly, there was none, if the truth were told.
General Curtis Le May, the head of the US air force in Korea who earlier had masterminded the firebombing massacre of Tokyo during the Second World War, later candidly admitted that there was nothing left to bomb in Korea. He reckoned that US forces killed up to 30 per cent of the North Korean population. Even then, the US generals were actively considering dropping atomic bombs, including on China, which they considered as the real power behind the North Korean guerrilla army.
Mao’s China and Stalin’s Soviet Union did indeed lend crucial military support to the North Korean side. Newly innovated Soviet MiG jets reportedly had a curtailing effect on the American B-29s. But Beijing and Moscow’s involvement only came after the US weighed into what was a national struggle.
In the end, despite its declarations of moral virtue and Christian righteousness, the US was fought to a standstill. The three-year, backward-and-forward war finally stopped at the 38th parallel, which the US military government had earlier demarcated in 1945. Korea was not “liberated” from godless communism. The northern Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stands today as a reminder of defiance to US pretensions.
In the course of the war, the US Commander General Douglas MacArthur, was sacked by Truman over his failures and insubordination. It was a shameful outcome for MacArthur who had been adorned as a “war hero” for the Pacific victory over Japan. He had been one of the US generals advocating the atomic bombing of China.
Almost a decade later, the Vietnam War also became another episode of American barbarism and use of genocidal hi-tech weaponry. But by then, as American historian William Blum points out, there was a popular anti-war movement in the US, which exposed many of the crimes and falsehoods perpetrated by Washington.
The Korean War was different though. It was largely supported at the time by a US population which had bought into the official mythology of America as “the defender of the free world”. The Korean War was supposed to be the baptism of noble America, the alleged emerging “victor of the Second World War”, the presumed protector against evil totalitarianism.
But the Korean War destroyed that myth in the most searing way from the slaughter and barbarism that the US inflicted on a peasant army seeking national unity and independence. And for all its military might and “divine pretensions”, the US was fought to a standstill, if not an inglorious moral defeat.
Such is the shameful legacy of the Korean War for American national mythology that one suspects that this is a major reason why US authorities, the government, the Pentagon and the dutiful corporate-controlled news media would much rather prefer to forget the whole despicable episode. Simply put, it has to be erased from consciousness because it would be so otherwise jarring to American presumptions of exceptional virtue.
That is why the all-important issue of a peace treaty over the Korean War is not signed by the US. It is simply too shameful a subject to even revisit in the slightest way.
And yet, fiendishly, making a formal declaration of peace is crucial to resolve the ongoing conflict on the Korean Peninsula, one that could so easily escalate into a global catastrophe involving nuclear weapons.
Tragically, and heinously, the refusal to bear responsibility for the violence and suffering caused in Korea is why the current Trump administration presumes the “right” to go to war on North Korea. This American presumption is woefully ignorant of history and infused with a disturbed messianic zeal.
Trump and his officials arrogantly threaten North Korea with “annihilation” because the United States has never been held to account for its crimes in Korea (or elsewhere for that matter).
Signing a peace treaty would be an important step towards long-overdue American accountability. A step that the arrogant American rulers refuse to take – because they can’t admit the shocking reality of their enormous crimes.
This article was first published by Strategic Culture Foundation -

“Inflation is Coming, Inflation is Coming!”

“Inflation is Coming, Inflation is Coming!”

Dan Celia
Posted: Sep 22, 2017 12:00 PM
“Inflation is Coming, Inflation is Coming!”
All around the Federal Reserve building, someone for years has been riding his horse—a la Paul Revere—crying out in excitement over the notion that 2 percent inflation is finally coming. This week, Janet Yellen has finally gotten to where many other Central Bankers around the world already are—it’s not happening.
We’re not even close. Especially since we haven’t seen any real, sustainable increases in the Producer Price Index (PPI) or the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Indeed, the European Central Bank leaders (along with the Fed) have been throwing everything they possibly can at inflation, and it doesn’t seem to move. The only thing that will move it is sustainable, global GDP growth. 
I know that no consumers or governments want excessive inflation. But without increases to PPI and CPI, instituting wage increases without companies taking a hit on their bottom line is impossible; hence, it’s been nearly 16 years since we’ve seen any real wage increases.
One would think the labor force is about as tight as it can get at 4.4 percent unemployment, but also remember that we have a 40-year low in labor participation. We need some of this labor to begin to participate in a growing economy—not to mention that we need to see sustainable increases in PPI as a result of GDP growth and a tightening labor force before we will ever see any real growth or wage increases.
I know it is nearly impossible for those living in the Washington, D.C. bubble to think about unintended consequences. Most of the brilliant economists on Capitol Hill believe the labor participation rate as it stands today is the new normal. They must think millions of people (even those between the ages of 16 and 55) have all retired and are sitting on the beach or playing golf.
If that is true, there is no way we will have a labor force that will be able to keep pace with a growing economy. Such an economy will put demands on this limited workforce—at least until there is balance in employment. If President Trump’s economic team is correct, then it is very likely we will have a labor crisis that could stifle our ability to sustain GDP growth.
Streamlining immigration reform must happen at the same time GDP is growing. Yes, there will need to be some important milestones that every legal immigrant must meet before becoming a citizen; the vetting process must be priority No. 1. But if our leaders are right about the labor participation in this country being the new normal, they had better get moving with immigration reform.
However, if the so-called new normal of labor participation is inaccurate, then we better incentivize those who are out of the labor market to return to the workforce. The best way to do that is to carefully examine the broken system that is supporting so many people under the age of 55—and hope that this group desires to become productive citizens again by offering them opportunities for prosperity for themselves and their families.
We have been somewhat shortsighted when it comes to pushing economic stimulus as we seek to develop ways to keep companies here and bring new companies to America. Such a push will not be sustainable if we can’t promise those employers a strong, ready and willing workforce.
Our leaders in Washington seem to have a huge problem with understanding cause-and-effect. There was a time when the Federal Reserve and other organizations had to consider the effect of underlying causes, not simply default to textbook scenarios.
Certainly, there is a relationship between PPI increases, inflation, and wage increases, but if the Federal Reserve, along with some government agencies, believe we will see higher wages without PPI, GDP growth and a tightened labor market—think again. Maybe we will see consumer confidence and consumer spending increase without wage growth, but it’s not likely.
In the big picture, companies are not anxious to lower their profit margins by raising wages without consumer prices increasing as well. Now, prices remain flat globally, and we are importing deflation. Growth simply will not be sustainable without increases in GDP. No matter what, the U.S. and global economy will dictate interest rates and monetary policy—even though central banks around the world believe they have all the answers.
Unfortunately, the sluggish growth of our economy is not the fault of the Federal Reserve. It’s all about our failed legislators doing nothing. And that is something to get very nervous about. If your wages are not going up, don’t look to the Federal Reserve, your human resources department, a corporate board, the president of the company or the owner of the small business.
The next time you walk into a voting booth, take a long, hard look at the ballot.

The U.S.-Trained Warlords Committing Atrocities in Afghanistan

The U.S.-Trained Warlords Committing Atrocities in Afghanistan

Above: U.S. Marines train Afghan local policemen with AK-47s on June 6, 2012. The U.S.-backed, loosely controlled paramilitary group is accused of numerous human rights violations. Photo by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images.
A village alleges dozens of civilian deaths at the hands of a single U.S.-trained strongman—just one example of the “Afghan special forces” to whom the U.S. has delegated its war.
October Issue | Investigative Report
1. The Khataba Massacre
Even by Afghan standards, the easternmost part of Uruzgan province is remote, mountainous and poor. It sits 200 miles southwest of Kabul along a highway pockmarked with IEDs and plagued by roving bandits. The road is often impassable, choked by snow in winter and fighting in summer. Most of the tens of thousands of residents are farmers, growing almonds, grapes and apricots. The area’s richest soil lies along two rivers that cut through the arid landscape. Where the rivers merge, forming a wishbone-shaped stretch of green, sits a village called Khataba.
After the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban in 2001, Khataba, like many remote villages in Afghanistan, was nominally under government control. But by 2009, the capital’s hold on eastern Uruzgan was fraying. Khataba was what the American military would call a “pro-Taliban village,” an area that, for reasons of tribal or political jockeying, was deemed sympathetic to the insurgency. Afghan government forces had long accused the predominately Pashtun village—an ethnic group often conflated with the Taliban—of giving cover to Taliban fighters.
According to Malik Lal Mohammad, a local elder, one day in August 2009, a pro-government armed group and their U.S. advisors arrived in Khataba to seek out Taliban fighters.
Khataba residents had learned to make themselves scarce when government forces were on a sweep. In a previous U.S.-advised raid, locals say, at least three men suspected of affiliation with the Taliban had been disappeared.
A group of farmers, however, decided that they had little to fear. They were all relatives of Hanif Hanifi, a two-term Afghan senator with clout among local officials. After a rushed assembly to discuss their options, the men, all Pashtun, decided to continue working in the fields. Hanifi’s name, they believed, would afford them protection.
Here is what Mohammad, who had hidden nearby from the patrol, says happened next.
The farmers never had time to make their case. The Afghan patrol opened fire, killing all seven men. It was not clear whether the U.S. advisors, who were stationed half a mile away, witnessed the killings, but Mohammad believes they would have been within earshot of the gunfire.
Afraid the patrol might return, the villagers waited for the cover of darkness before retrieving the bodies. Some of the seven had fallen to the ground still clutching their scythes. The survivors worked silently to prepare the dead for burial.
2. Hanifi
“I know that this happened and this was wrong,” Hanifi told me in May 2016. Sitting in the basement of his three-story rental in west Kabul, the 53-year-old from eastern Uruzgan recounted what villagers had told him of the murder of his brother, cousins and nephews in the field.
Hanifi, who shaves his head but maintains a kempt beard, is tall and hale for his age. He reclaimed his seat in the Afghan senate in April 2014. The rental, which he shares with his wife, five sons, three daughters and three bodyguards, is where he greets his endless stream of supplicants. Everyone I spoke to there knew of the massacre. Everyone, too, knew how it has come to define Hanifi.
Photo by Andrew Quilty.
In the eight years since the Khataba killings, Hanifi has waged a tireless, but fruitless, campaign to bring the perpetrators to justice. Hanifi’s story is not an outlier. This kind of impunity has come to be the norm in Afghanistan. Numerous reports from human rights agencies have implicated U.S.-backed militias in killings and human rights violations over the course of the war. No one has a comprehensive tally. Due to poor record-keeping, even the U.S. government may not know how many militias it has funded or how many civilian deaths those militias are responsible for. None of these crimes have been prosecuted in Afghan or international courts.
This is arguably by design. When the UN invited stakeholders to a conference in Germany in 2001 to decide the fate of Afghanistan, it included warlords accused of human rights violations during the nation’s civil war. In Afghanistan, this provoked widespread criticism, to which then-UN special representative Lakhdar Brahimi responded, “We cannot sacrifice peace for justice.”
His words set the tone for the years that followed. Considered to be a critical bulwark against the insurgency, local armed groups like the one that killed Hanifi’s family members became central to the U.S.-NATO coalition’s security strategy. As a result, international human rights observers argue, the militias are protected even when they commit crimes.
In an attempt to close out the U.S.-backed war cheaply and expediently, while keeping the pressure on the Taliban, much of the war has been fought off the books by private militia groups that answer to no congressional inquiry or inspector general audit. That strategy has not wavered. President Donald Trump, who wants to step up U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, emphasized in an August 21 speech that Afghans need to “build their own nation and define their own future,” Washington code for deputizing much of the fighting to the Afghan military—a military that in turn heavily depends on the less-regulated U.S.-backed militias. What happened in Khataba is a glimpse into how the U.S. war is experienced by Afghan communities caught between a brutal insurgency and a government that answers not to its people, but its international funders.
After Hanifi reclaimed his senate seat, he spent much of his time sitting in his basement office, attending to the particulars of representative politics—assisting with exit visas, settling disputes over livestock. Yet the primary organizing principle for his life, he told me, was revenge. He has his dagger out for one man in particular—the militia leader he believes is responsible for the 2009 deaths.
“Every day I have thought about him,” he told me. “Every day I have asked myself, how can I find him? What will I do when I find him?”
3. Shujayi
Soon after the Khataba killings, the district police chief called Hanifi to inform him that there had been an incident in his hometown. The police chief did not spell out the details, but, even then, Hanifi thought he knew who was responsible for the killings—Abdul Hakim Shujayi.
Hanifi first met Shujayi in 2007 at a U.S. special operations encampment in Eastern Uruzgan called Firebase Anaconda. Shujayi, Hanifi recalled, was receiving support from the U.S. military. U.S. officials contacted for the story say they have no record of Shujayi working with U.S. forces in Uruzgan or elsewhere at this time—such was the off-the-books nature of the U.S. military’s relationship with local militias in the first chapter of the war, begun by the Bush administration.
The spindly man with a wisp of a beard was prototypical of the Afghan strongmen the United States co-opted in its fight against the Taliban. He had consolidated his power among his fellow Hazaras, Afghanistan’s marginalized Shiite ethnic minority, whose persecution by other tribes intensified after the mostly Sunni Taliban took power in the 1990s.
Hazara militias became natural allies for the NATO coalition. “The Americans felt like they could trust them,” says Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the nonprofit research group Afghanistan Analysts Network and a leading expert on Uruzgan province. “[Shiite Hazaras] would definitely not join the Taliban.” These militia leaders, however, soon gained a reputation for exacting revenge on local Sunni populations.
Around the time of the Khataba killings, the Obama administration was doubling down on its reliance on local armed groups. In 2010, at the behest of the United States, Afghan President Hamid Karzai forced the militias to reorganize themselves under a more respectable-sounding name: the Afghan Local Police (ALP).

Above: Locals bike along the road to Afghanistan’s eastern Uruzgan province, site of the Khataba massacre. Photo by May Jeong.

From the October issue of In These Times.
The name is misleading. The ALP, or arbeki as it is called in Afghanistan, is neither a local nor a traditional police force. It is more like a neighborhood watch for the Afghan countryside, often made up of non-local recruits. Trained and supervised by U.S. Special Operations Forces in conjunction with the Afghan government, and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Afghan interior ministry, the ALP operates independently of the national, more structured, police force and army.
In Uruzgan, the ALP program recruited Hazara militia leaders to patrol a Pashtun majority. This is where the U.S. paper trail on Shujayi begins. In 2010, Shujayi first appeared on the ALP payroll.
Even though the U.S. was bankrolling the venture, local leaders were meant to oversee the vetting of recruits. Yet many, including Shujayi, were handpicked by U.S. advisors, according to Sardar Wali, then a district police chief in eastern Uruzgan. Wali was present during the meeting when U.S. captains pushed for Shujayi to join the local ALP, despite villager protest that he was neither law-abiding nor from the area. Rumors about Shujayi abounded: He had ordered 14 men to climb into a well and then stoned them to death; his troops had burned a young girl alive and beaten a child to death in front of his mother.
Hanifi recalled telling the Americans that hiring Shujayi was a terrible plan: “If you hire only Hazaras, this will create problems. They will kill us and they will say, ‘Oh, they were Taliban.’ ”
Shujayi was nonetheless selected. He and the others chosen were fitted with official uniforms, given weeks-long training by U.S. forces, and sent out into the communities bearing America’s stamp of approval.
Despite its more formal structure, in many provinces the ALP proved to be as violent and unaccountable as its predecessors. In 2011, one year after the ALP’s creation, Human Rights Watch documented a series of alleged abuses—extrajudicial killings, torture and sexual assault—that raised “serious concerns about ALP vetting, recruitment and oversight” and “questions about the relationship of U.S. forces with abusive members of the ALP.”
Shujayi was a poster child for the ALP’s excesses—and its invulnerability. Soon after he was made commander, his officers reportedly killed two young Pashtun students traveling on a motorcycle, according to Wali, the former district police chief.
Wali says that when he unofficially inquired about the travellers, Shujayi laughed and said, “The Americans have my back.”
Villagers from eastern Uruzgan issue formal complaints about Shujayi at their provincial governor’s palace in Tirin Kot in May 2015. Photo by May Jeong.
4. Flight
In the years following the Khataba massacre, Shujayi became so notorious that Afghan authorities could no longer ignore the mounting allegations against him. In a complicated web of alliances that cut across ethnic, religious and tribal lines, local leaders, politicians, federal prosecutors and even the head of the ALP tried to bring Shujayi to justice. All were thwarted, sometimes under inexplicable circumstances. Shujayi appeared to enjoy protection from powerful men.
In the summer of 2010, three provincial officials—Uruzgan’s governor, police chief and finance officer—set out to apprehend Shujayi and charge him with murder, kidnapping, torture and other crimes. According to finance officer Abdul Jalil Achekzai, the three found Shujayi at the U.S. military’s Firebase Anaconda, kitted in the same uniform as the Americans. Over lunch, the delegation sat negotiating the terms of the capture with their American hosts. Eventually a captain agreed to let Shujayi go into their custody, but said the Americans had some last-minute business to go over in private, and asked the delegation to wait in the helicopter. After some time, the rotors began to turn, and the American captain came running out with an interpreter to tell the delegation that Shujayi had escaped. The disbelieving delegation was advised to return home before the sky turned dark.
Charles Cleveland, then-spokesperson for the American mission in Afghanistan, told me the U.S. military was not aware of the encounter. “While it is possible that he worked with a U.S. team during 2010, we just don’t have a record of it,” Cleveland wrote in a February 2016 email.
A military prosecutor for Uruzgan recalls being part of a similar delegation in 2012. He says the Americans refused to hand Shujayi over, repeating that he was a brave soldier who fought the Taliban.
Things seemed to change in October 2012, when the Afghan interior ministry issued an order for Shujayi’s immediate capture. Three months later, interior minister Gholam Mujtaba Patang testified before Parliament that Shujayi would be detained “within the week.” But Shujayi was never formally indicted or arrested. According to multiple government sources, he had allies among influential warlords and officials, who obstructed efforts to bring him to justice. The Afghanistan Analysts Network reported that Shujayi spent 2013 traveling frequently to eastern Uruzgan to oversee security posts there, as if they were still under his command.
A third near miss occurred in Kabul in 2014. ALP chief Ali Shah Ahmadzai received a tip that Shujayi was at the interior ministry and met him with an arrest warrant. Shujayi was taken into custody. Satisfied, Ahmadzai went home. The next morning, Ahmadzai told me, he received a phone call from defense minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who angrily demanded that all charges against Shujayi be dropped. “He threatened to fire me,” Ahmadzai recalled. Shujayi was released.
Eight years after the Khataba massacre, he remains a wanted man.
Soon after, Shujayi dropped out of the public eye. According to U.S. military spokesperson Cleveland, the commander took “some weapons and vehicles” and was gone. By that time, eastern Uruzgan locals allege, Shujayi had killed as many as 60 civilians—all Pashtun villagers. In a country where few know their date of birth, and where the central government’s reach does not extend into remote villages, the only official evidence the villagers had was a list of the dead they had kept. Among the more than 50 family members, local elders and others I interviewed for this story, nearly everyone believed Shujayi was to blame for the deaths.
A villager shares photos of a family member who was allegedly killed by Shujayi with Afghan senators on a fact-finding mission in May 2015. Photo by May Jeong.
5. Contact
Shujayi was not just a pariah, a commander gone rogue. Many commanders before him had committed equally egregious crimes, according to villagers from eastern Uruzgan, who told me that Shujayi’s predecessors were also Hazara, and like him, were handpicked by the Americans. Unlike Shujayi, however, most managed to leverage their proximity to foreign influence to resettle abroad.
“It needs to be mentioned that he is not uniquely horrible,” says Uruzgan expert van Bijlert. “He became strong because of his links to the Americans. He was artificially propped up because the Americans needed him.” It just so happened that Shujayi’s reign of terror came as the U.S. special forces were leaving Uruzgan. His services were no longer needed, and he was left to fend for himself.
In 2015, a contact connected me with Sayed Ali, a Hazara fighter and close associate of Shujayi’s. Ali reflected bitterly upon Shujayi’s treatment by the United States: “The Americans, they use you like a tissue paper and they throw you away.”
In November 2015, Ali gave me Shujayi’s phone number. After multiple calls, the commander picked up.
“I am innocent,” Shujayi told me. “I have not committed any crime. I am being framed because of my ethnicity. I was only doing my job.”
By then, he had been on the lam for nearly two years. On occasion, sightings of him were rumored in Kabul. He was said to live freely in the Hazara area of his native Ghazni province, but no one knew for certain. When I spoke to Shujayi, he was vague about his whereabouts. Over a crackling phone line, he did tell me about the vigilante force he ran, protecting some 5,000 Hazara families living in the borderlands between Uruzgan and Ghazni province. The group was called niro-e Shujayi, or the Shujayi brigade.
Shujayi did not express resentment at those who had pushed him into the life of a fugitive, but he did want me to note that everyone who had accused him was a Pashtun (whom Ali derisively calls “Taliban necktie-da,” Taliban with neckties). Everything they said was slander, he told me. For one, he was responsible for no more than 30 deaths, all “in battle.” Shujayi said his level of aggression had been necessary to protect his community.
Which version of events you believe depends largely on your tribe. Images hailing Shujayi as a hero of the Hazara people make regular rounds on Facebook. One advisor to a prominent Hazara ethnic leader, who asked not to be named because he lives in a majority-Pashtun area and fears retribution, wanted me to explain why the U.S. military had tacitly endorsed the behaviors of the Pashtun police chief of Kandahar province, Abdul Raziq, who was accused of violent abuses, but the international community gave Shujayi, a Hazara commander, a difficult time over “some minor misconduct.” (Raziq, while remaining on the Afghan government payroll, has been implicated in various human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings.)
“Shujayi is a hero of the Hazaras,” says Hossain Bahman, a Hazara filmmaker who worked on a documentary about the commander that aired on a Hazara-owned network. “He was only defending his family, his own people.”
One thing that both the Pashtuns and the Hazaras agreed on was how the United States created the conditions for Shujayi’s rise to power, his blood-fueled tenure, eventual escape and continued freedom.
6. Retribution
In the fall of 2015, before traveling to Uruzgan, I went to see Hanifi in his Kabul rental. His parting blessings were ominous, “See you when you are back, if you come back alive.”
Earlier that autumn, the northerly city of Kunduz became the first to fall to the Taliban. The city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province was on the edge of collapse. Hanifi’s hometown wasn’t faring much better. Since the start of the fighting season in May 2015, the road connecting eastern Uruzgan to Tirin Kot had been closed due to continuous fighting. According to locals, Taliban fighters had set fire to cell phone towers throughout the province, trying to limit communication. By the time I got there, much of Uruzgan remained inaccessible due to blockades. I didn’t know it then, but this would be one of the last trips that a foreign reporter would be able to make to the provinces.
The root causes of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan cannot be summed up neatly. According to experts, however, an enduring factor is the coalition’s ongoing reliance on local armed groups that operate with no oversight. A June 2016 report by the Open Society Foundations found that “the cost to U.S. and Afghan government legitimacy was exacerbated by abusive, U.S.-backed Afghan actors in the security forces and militias that preyed upon and harmed civilians. The harm caused by predatory militias in the early years damaged Afghan support for the government and for the international mission.” In short, the bargain for security, made in the early years of the war, has backfired.
Despite evidence that these armed groups have hurt efforts to defeat the Taliban, Kabul and Washington continue to depend on them. On August 21, Trump announced his new Afghanistan policy, which signaled no meaningful departure from the past.
“Victory will have a clear definition,” Trump said, and then commenced to list non-measurable objectives—to attack, to obliterate, to crush. He used the language of business to describe war, vowing “to eliminate their ability to export terror.” In short, more troops will be sent, for an unspecified period of time—and the war will continue as before. Nowhere in the speech did President Trump mention the need to safeguard human rights, not only as an end unto itself, but as a necessary condition for building state legitimacy, the only exit strategy that will allow the United States to leave behind a sovereign Afghan state.
As President Trump continues to fight an increasingly unpopular war that even his political base does not want, there will be even more pressure to rely on the ALP. At $121 million a year, it is about a quarter of the price of funding the Afghan police and the army, which work with NATO and are more regulated and accountable. Consequently, Shujayi and his ilk will continue to be in demand as the United States tries to devise a cheap, “Afghan-led” exit strategy.
Upon my return from Uruzgan, where I met with witnesses and people who said they’d lost family to Shujayi, I went to Hanifi’s to let him know I had made it back safe. Sitting cross-legged in his basement, he told me that he was taking a break from his hunt for Shujayi. He needed to focus on securing his influence in the complicated hierarchy of the senate. Besides, he said, Shujayi was a long game. He was confident one day he would find him—and finally exact the retribution that had been years in the making.
“I don’t want to hurt the innocent,” Hanifi assured me. “I only want to hurt Shujayi.” I waited for him to continue.
“I only want to hurt Shujayi,” he repeated. “I only want to hurt him, or any male members of his family.” This, Hanifi believes, is all the justice Afghanistan will allow.
Reporting for this piece was facilitated by grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting.
Julia Clark-Riddell contributed research and fact-checking.