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Obama embraces Bush’s “war on terror” policy without naming it so

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali, February 28, 2009
President Barrack Obama has virtually embraced his predecessor George Bush’s “War on Terror” policy without naming it so.
Asked in a CNN interview why he hasn't used the oft-repeated "war on terror" phrase coined by the Bush administration, Obama said he believes the U.S. can win over moderate Muslims if he chooses his words carefully. "Words matter in this situation because one of the ways we're going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds," Obama said.
The “war on terror” catchphrase burned into the American lexicon soon after the 9/11 attacks is deliberately being replaced by the Obama administration in a bid to repair America’s negative image in the Muslim world.
President Obama’s executive orders – on the first day of his office on January 22 - closing the infamous Guantánamo military prison and outlawing torture were interpreted in some circles as closing the door on the Bush’s so called global “war on terror.”
The same day President Obama also appointed war-monger Richard Holbrooke as a special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. To borrow Scott Ritter, after 9/11, Richard Holbrook championed the military action against Afghanistan, ruled out any role of diplomacy to deal with Taliban, labeled all Taliban as extremists, viewed Taliban and al-Qaida as one.
Not surprisingly, a day later on January 23, President Obama gave a green light to missile attacks from Pakistani-based CIA-operated unmanned drone aircraft at targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas. About 20 civilians were killed in the two missile attacks. Tellingly, the new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to answer questions about the first air strikes, saying "I'm not going to get into these matters."
Again on February 14, at least 28 people were killed in two drone attacks in Waziristan region. And two days later, on February 16, a US drone fired three missiles at a target in Kurruam Agency killing 30 people. (The attacks were as usual said to be against the Taliban targets but not a single body of local or foreign militant, as claimed by the Pakistani or American officials, was produced. To hide the truth, it is always claimed that the militants cordoned off the area after the attack and took away their dead and wounded.)
Ironically, the two US missile attacks within three days came as the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke was visiting the region.
America and Afghanistan both blame Pakistan’s FATA region for constant surge in the Afghan Taliban operations in different parts of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul.
In an interview on CNN’s GPS program on February 13, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose writ doesn’t extend beyond his presidential palace, claimed that Taliban have no hiding place in Afghan villages. He asserted that “the war on terrorism is not in Afghan villages, that the Al Qaeda will not have and does not have a hiding place in Afghanistan any more, since the Taliban were driven out in 2001.”
However, the latest report by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), a European think tank, refutes Karzai’s assertion. The Taliban now hold a permanent presence in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year ago, said the ICOS report released on December 8, 2008. 
According to ICOS, Taliban forces have advanced from their southern heartlands, where they are now the de facto governing power in a number of towns and villages, to Afghanistan’s western and north-western provinces, as well as provinces north of Kabul. Within a year, the Taliban's permanent presence in the country has increased by a startling 18%, according to ICOS research on the ground in Afghanistan.
The new ICOS report also documented the advance of the Taliban on Kabul, where three out of the four main highways into Kabul are now compromised by Taliban activity. The capital city has plummeted to minimum levels of control, with the Taliban and other criminal elements infiltrating the city at will.
In short, “The Taliban are now controlling the political and military dynamic in Afghanistan,” said Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher of ICOS.
Tellingly, just a day ahead of Richard Holbrooke’s visit to Kabul, the Taliban made their presence felt in the Afghan capital on February 11 with a daring attack that claimed the lives of at least 26 people and injured dozens more.  The insurgents stormed heavily guarded government ministries near the presidential palace. The targets included the Ministry of Justice building in a crowded downtown area, the Education Ministry and a Prison Affairs office.
Apparently, three decades of war has hardened the Afghan militant groups, putting them in a better position than the US-led foreign occupying forces. With organic social links in society the insurgents are seen by the Afghan masses as a real power and fighting for a cause: liberation of their country, once again, from foreign occupation in the so-called Second Great Game where US has replaced Britain for the control of oil resources in Central Asia. This belief is strengthened by the presence of torture cells and massive civilian casualties inflicted by the US and other foreign forces. According to the latest UN report, a record 2,118 civilians were killed last year. More than 500 deaths were blamed on air strikes.
To borrow Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, the Taliban is not a terrorist organization, but a movement attempting to unify Afghanistan and the “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.  
So the war in Afghanistan led by the United State is more than just a war against ‘terrorism.’ Beneath the rhetoric of US officials to smash the so-called Al Quida network led by Osama bin Laden in the name of ‘freedom and civilization’ lies a deeper and far-reaching reason: Central Asia’s oil and gas reserves and other natural resources.
Afghanistan, which virtually has no oil reserves, has long had a key place in US plans to secure control of the vast but landlocked oil and gas reserves of Central Asia that has the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world. The US has been endeavoring to fill the power vacuum in Central Asia created by the Soviet Union’s dissolution in order to assert Washington's domination over the region.  
As the Afghan war continues for the last seven years without much success, the US Army is asking 30,000 more troops but  Obama on February 24 authorized sending 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The proposed surge in U.S. troops will bring the total to 60,000, while the combined forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), including troops from Germany, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands, amount to over 32,000. When in full strength, U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan could reach close to 100,000 by the end of this year.
The US is currently building eight new major bases in southern Afghanistan for the prolonged war which has already been dubbed by the embedded experts of the semi-official think tank, Rand Corporation, as a long war. 
So Obama’s change will not bring any positive change for the people of Afghanistan or the neighboring Pakistan where US drone missile attacks on targets in FATA region continue to kill people causing more anti-American sentiments and weakening the civilian government in Islamabad…...
Not surprisingly, the Obama administration, siding with the Bush White House, contended on February 20 that detainees in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights. In a two-sentence court filing, the Justice Department said it agreed that detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. The military has determined that all the detainees at Bagram are "enemy combatants."…….
Similarly in the Middle East, the US brands Hamas and Hezbollah “terrorist organizations” for no other reason than the US is on Israel’s side of the conflict. Hezbollah represents the Shi’ites of southern Lebanon, another area in the Middle East that Israel seeks for its territorial expansion.
Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza. In an effort to bring Hamas under Israeli hegemony, Israel employs terror bombing and assassinations against Palestinians.  The December/January US-backed 22-day Israeli carnage in Gaza massacred about 1400 Palestinians, of whom 412 were children and a hundred were women. More than 5,000 were injured, 1,855 of whom were children and 795 were women, according to UN sources…….
Tellingly, Obama Administration is maintaining the Bush Administration’s position on out what are known as renditions. Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.
The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured. The European Parliament condemned renditions as "an illegal instrument used by the United States."
An exhaustive investigation by the European Union concluded that the CIA had operated more than 1,200 flights in European airspace after the Sept. 11 attacks. The implication was that most were rendition-related, with some taking suspects to states where they faced torture…..

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Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: E-mail:





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