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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Successful Public Speaking

Some useful tips on the art of public speaking:

There is a natural tendency to feel nervous before giving a speech, which is quite ingrained and healthy. It shows that one cares about doing well. But too much anxiousness can be detrimental. Here are some tips that may help to control the anxiety and make effective and memorable presentations:

Know the room

Arrive early at the venue and get yourself familiarised with the microphone and the visual aids. Walk around the room to become familiar with its size.

Know the audience

Greet some, if not all of the audience as they arrive. Remember it’s much easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.

Know your material

If you’re not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech and revise it if necessary.

Try to relax

Ease your tension by doing some short relaxation exercises.

Visualize yourself giving your speech

Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualise yourself as successful, you will be successful.

Realize that people want you to succeed

Your audience wants you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. Remember they are there to listen to you, and wouldn’t want you to fail.

Don’t apologize

If you mention your nervousness or apologise for any problems you think you have with your speech, you may be calling the audience’s attention to something they have not noticed. The best approach is to be silent about it.

Concentrate on the message –– not the medium

Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and towards your message and your audience. Your nervousness will dissipate.

Turn nervousness into positive energy

Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.

Jinnah ka Pakistan!

Santa comes not just to the Christian world but has been a regular visitor of Pakistan as well, thanks to globalization, he finds us on his map. Ironically though, Santa hijacks our own little parties, EID and the birthday anniversary of Pakistan's founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. EID luckily finished before xmas started but poor Mr. Jinnah, he had to share his viewership today with Santa Clause. Even though, I like the concept of xmas and all, I really don’t fancy it because with all due respect to Christians, we Muslims don’t believe that Jesus (PBUH) at anything to do with this date. Anyways, what bothers me more is that Jinnah Sahib who usually gets only a day a year to evangelize his "interpreted" messages to the third and fourth generations of young and nascent but confused and bemused Pakistanis because as much as some made Jinnah a local superman, many still believe of deep undercover conspiracy theories surrounding his persona. Regardless of any of his backdoor life, what adds dimensionality to this chapter of Pakistani life was his agenda for Muslims and for Pakistan. A British educated person as he was, he underwent a Shakespearian tragedy and joined the ride. He died, and we, very recently....Jinnah"s reference starts from this first official Pakistani speech (please reconfirm):
In the words of Stanley Wolpert, "Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three." Stanley Wolpert Jinnah of Pakistan."
Really? Give me a break, what a lost affair is Pakistan on the map these days. I don’t have to reiterate the bad patches u and I normally hear about this place, how could it be a 'nation' state? Well elders with distant relations always talked about how he designed an "Islamic State" where Shariah will be practiced, while some elders degrade him by tagging him a British agent of divide and conquer the Indians, while still some elders talk about Jinnah as the savior of Muslims (not Islam) from the caste dominant Hindu population of India eyeing to revenge the Muslims after the British would leave eventually for the long and mostly useless rule of the Mughals. So here we have it, three Mr. Jinnahs and maybe more, sidelined to one lousy day which Santa steals (to give) to our less than 3 percent population but very worthy population, no doubt, but the point remains...Why just one day of debating the vision of Pakistan.
With all the diversity of opinions one could imagine, I am sure not many if not none lead up to the mess we have today in a country it never envisioned itself to be. My brother who is in high school still believes that Mr. Jinnah was a noble man, too pious, too righteous, that no Pakistani can repeat his achievements. Of course that’s not true, and he wasn’t a Massiah either lightening the torch of an Islamic Renaissance. No way, as Hamid Mir says, he was only a Muslim, not a Shiya, not a Sunni; he couldn't lock in to the demands and emotions of the masses that were always critical of sects and creeds. Though he always had a problem in truly connecting with the locals who were foreign people to him, he did give them their required agenda and implemented it with huge success. A leader in the sense that he took his movement by storm and made the impossible into inevitable. Yet after 60 odd years when we have a totally different state organism, people and even culture, the achievements of Mr. Jinnah had been unmatched. It would be cliché to say how ungrateful we have been or that if Jinnah was here today, how ashamed we would have felt but I guess its more embarrassing not to have a clear idea of who he was. For instance, on LK Advani's (Foreign Minister of India) recent visit to Pakistan, he acknowledges Jinnah as a secular (not anti-religious) on which he had to face public pressure and a crisis, strangely from a country boasting about it being secular herself. Anyways, the two nation theory which was the start of his political activism which some credit (or blame) to Allama Iqbal's influence on him, was all but secular. Further one, his idea of a secular state was still confined in an Islamic State. You can be secular in Jinnah's Pakistan as long as you are governing the constitution according to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. We have seen neither a secular state, nor an Islamic State nor a hybrid like Jinnah's recommendation. Anyone of them is welcome at this dire state, as long as we believe in an evolutionary democracy rather than shortcut military interventions. When I think of Mr. Jinnah and his history, his change in attitude over the years, he appears to be a strictly secular in the beginning and later a theocratic towards Islam which is secular to non-Muslims and in fact provides ways to ensure their proper representation and rights. However, his late hour speeches, when taken out of context, represent only a secular view point, but as i said only out of the context. However, a lot of people won't agree that the context was a presupposition that the constitution will be built upon Islamic Laws to start off with. For such people, I ask, if Jinnah was a secularist and that he fought for the rights of Muslims rather than Islam, then why not fight for the rights within the state (India) and why demand separation? And when certain provinces in Pakistan are demanding separation, they are labeled rebels by the same secularists. Was then Jinnah a rebel too? Interestingly, people who defy these separatists groups within Pakistani mediocre provinces always claim of foreign mischief. Same must be case of those claiming Jinnah to be a British agent dividing the land...Regardless of what he said, what he actually did, and regardless of all his critics and all his fans, he was just a human being, unlike the over patronized character we hear of in text books and unlike the spy type which some people accuse him of. And when he was just a human being, he can be inspired and learnt from. Pakistani struggle is a relay race, Jinnah did the first phase, ZA Bhutto 'attempted' the second phase but nothing till now. The troche has to continue forward and we have to realize that our struggles are not the struggles of Jinnah's Pakistan but a new colonial fight back. There are military dictators who take over, change constitutions to their favors, carry out extra judicial crimes, involve in looting and dacoiting the national assets, build their own social networks, deprives the nation of their rights, there are those bureaucrats who help them achieve all this, there are those politicians who justify them. All these various corruption networks prevail in our society and as time after time, I see various programs where youth is encouraged to spring up and failed, I believe it is time to create a civil society network, who even if don’t agree with what Jinnah' vision was, are aware of the vision of Pakistan to be pursued today, starting with all those fundamental benefits which recently Mr. Jinnah highlighted. A network which can sweep through sectors, departments, cities and overcome local resistances, I don’t think Pakistan deserves to be on the map anymore. After all, what is Pakistan if not about its People, that was one vision of Jinnah we all agree with.....!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Game As Old As Empire

An Excerpt from
A Game As Old As Empire
By Steven Hiatt
A never-ending accumulation of property must be based on a never ending accumulation of power. —Hannah Arendt

In June 2003, after declaring “Mission accomplished!” in the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom, George W. Bush told cheering West Point cadets that America has “no territorial ambitions. We don’t seek an empire.” Meanwhile, neoconservative pundits like Niall Ferguson and Charles Krauthammer were encouraging him to do precisely that: to “make the transition from informal
to formal empire,” by acknowledging America’s actual role in the world and accepting the reality that “political globalization is a fancy word for imperialism.” Had the post-postwar world—the new order emerging since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989—come full circle to a new Age of Empire? The victory of the Allies in 1945, confirming the right of peoples to self-determination
in their Atlantic Charter declaration, seemed to signal the end for the world’s colonial empires. Colonial peoples in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East had seen the armies of Britain, France, and the Netherlands defeated in 1940–41, and knew that the former imperial powers now had neither the military nor the financial resources to enforce their rule for long. Moreover, the two strongest powers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, were formally on the anti-imperialist side. The U.S. had long pursued an “open door” policy advocating formal independence for developing countries. The Soviet Union had denounced imperialism since its birth in 1917, and the communist movement it led had wide appeal in parts of the colonial world as a result. Nevertheless, the European colonial powers tried to hang on to their possessions as long as they could. Britain did finally “quit India” in 1947, but fought insurgents in Kenya, Cypress, and Malaya before granting those countries independence.

France fought losing, divisive wars in Indochina and Algeria to retain its bit of imperial gloire. Still, the tide of history was clearly running in favor of self-determination around the world. The quandary for Western elites was how to manage this process. Would new Third World leaders attempt to strike out on their own, taking control of their countries’ resources in order to build their own national industries? Or—worse—would they ally with the Soviet bloc or would nationalist campaigns prepare the way for takeovers by communist parties?

For Western Europeans, loss of access to colonial resources and markets would be an enormous blow: their weakened economies were only slowly recovering from World War II and they planned to force the colonies to help pay for reconstruction. For its part, the U.S. feared that colonial independence would weaken its European allies and might well lead to the expansion of Soviet influence in Europe. And U.S. business leaders were concerned about a postwar return to the depression that had marked the 1930s, so they were eager to preserve access to resources and possible new markets.

Events in Iran, Guatemala, and Egypt in the 1950s marked a new turn in Western policies in what was becoming known as the Third World. In 1951, Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the country’s oil industry, which had been run by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (since renamed British Petroleum). A democratically elected nationalist, Mossadegh (Time’s Man of the Year for 1951) not surprisingly resented the fact that 92 percent of the profits from Iranian oil went to AIOC, a longstanding arrangement reflecting British domination of Persia early in the century. Winston Churchill had recently returned for a second term as prime minister, and he was determined to restore the UK’s finances and prestige in the face of this challenge from a newly assertive client state. Churchill ordered a blockade of the Persian Gulf to prevent Iran from exporting oil to other purchasers, and he was joined in a boycott of Iranian trade by the United States. More muscular action was not possible, however: the Korean War absorbed the attention of the U.S. and Britain, and Soviet intervention in support of Iran was a threat. A more subtle approach was needed, and the CIA devised Operation Ajax, directed by Kermit Roosevelt. The first step was to create political turmoil to undermine Mossadegh’s political support: a CIA disinformation campaign worked overtime spreading rumors designed to split secular democrats from Islamic nationalists. Finally, the military made its move in August 1953, and Mossadegh was arrested, a new prime minister was appointed, the Shah was restored to power, and the oil industry was denationalized. The US did demand a price for its help, however: British Petroleum now had to share its access to Iranian oilfields with several U.S. companies. U.S. military and foreign policy leaders were cheered by the success of their plan, recovering Iran at a low cost politically, militarily, and financially. Guatemala was the next test case for this indirect method of policing empire. In May 1952, President Jacobo Arbenz announced a land reform program that would have nationalized unused land belonging to landlords and, especially the holdings of Boston’s United Fruit Company, the Country’s largest landowner. His inspiration was Abraham Lincoln’s Homestead Act of 1862, with Arbenz hoping to enable peasants and rural laborers to become independent small farmers. But apparently Lincoln was too radical for the Eisenhower administration, especially with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Director Alan Dulles sitting on United Fruit’s Board of Directors.

Kermit Roosevelt described Alan Dulles’s reaction to plans for the CIA’s Operation PB Success: “He seemed almost alarmingly enthusiastic. His eyes were glistening; he seemed to be purring like a giant cat. Clearly he was not only enjoying what he was hearing, but my instincts told me that he was planning as well.”2 Arbenz was overthrown in a coup in June 1954; some 15,000 of his peasant supporters were killed.

Following the success of covert methods of intervention in Iran and Guatemala, the Suez Crisis of 1956 illustrated the dangers of old-style direct intervention. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced nationalization of the Suez Canal in July 1956; the canal was a key national resource in the hands of European investors, and Nasser hoped to use canal profits to pay for his ambitious Aswan High Dam project. His plans energized several enemies: Britain, the former colonial power, since a British company ran the canal; France, since Nasser supported the Algerian rebels that France had been fighting since 1954; and Israel, which hoped to settle accounts with a pan-Arab nationalist who supported the Palestinians. Israel invaded Egypt on October 29, 1956, and Britain and France quickly occupied the canal region despite Egyptian resistance. This resort to direct military intervention posed a problem for the United States. The Eisenhower administration was dealing with Soviet intervention in Hungary to depose reformer Imre Nagy. The U.S. hoped to use the Hungarian crisis to undermine the appeal of communism, which had already suffered a serious blow to its prestige earlier in the year with Khrushchev’s revelation of Stalin’s crimes at the Soviet Twentieth Party Congress. Western intervention in the Suez therefore undercut the U.S. position. The U.S. response this time was creative: Britain was pressured to withdraw, and the intervention collapsed—underlining the weakness of the old colonial powers, speeding decolonization, and enhancing the prestige of the United States in the Third World. From then on, the U.S. would have to compete with the Soviets for influence, as dozens of newly independent countries flooded the halls of the United Nations.

Decolonization vs. Control during the Cold War

For the most part, the newly independent states in Africa and Asia joined Latin America as producers of primary commodities: sugar, coffee, rubber, tin, copper, bananas, cocoa, tea, jute, rice, cotton. Many were plantation crops grown by First World corporations or local landlords, or minerals extracted by First World companies. In either case, the products were sold in markets dominated by European and U.S. companies, usually on exchanges in New York or London, and processed in plants in Europe or North America. As Third World leaders began to take responsibility for their nations, they emphasized tackling the problem of economic underdevelopment. Their efforts were based on state-led development models, influenced by current thinking in the U.S. and Western Europe. Typically, colonial governments had been heavily involved in economic planning and regulation, and new leaders like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, and Léopold Senghor of Senegal had been educated in Europe and influenced by socialist and social democratic programs. Moreover, the new states started economic life without their own entrepreneurial class capable of leading economic development. Not surprisingly, then, many countries concentrated on Big Projects—showpiece government development projects that could be the motor for economic transformation, such as Ghana’s Volta River Project, which involved construction of the Akosombo Dam in the early 1960s to form the world’s largest artificial lake and building aluminum smelters to take advantage of the country’s bauxite resources. And most countries followed policies of import substitution—developing local production capacity to replace expensive imports from Europe and North America. However, these and other industrialization projects all required massive loans, from banks, export credit agencies, or international development institutions such as the World Bank. Again Western elites faced a problem: how could they preserve their access to Third World resources and markets? Independence offered the West an opportunity to shed the costs of direct rule—responsibility for administration, policing, and development—while maintaining all the benefits of Empire. But independence also carried dangers: Asian, African, and Latin American nations might indeed become masters of their own economies, directing them to maximize their own development. And there were alternative models: Cuba and Vietnam, to name the most prominent. After all, the point was not simply to import oil or coffee from Latin America, or copper or cocoa from Africa, but to import these goods at prices advantageous to the West—in effect, a built-in subsidy from the former colonies to their former rulers. Empire, whether based on direct rule or indirect influence, is not about control for its own sake: it is about exploitation of foreign lands and peoples for the benefit of the metropolis, or at least its ruling circles. At some point, the alternative that Claudine Martin laid out to John Perkins in 1971, as recounted in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,3 must have become an obvious element of the West’s strategy. The U.S. and its allies were competing with the Soviet bloc to provide loans for development projects of myriad kinds. Why not embrace this burden—and use the debts to bring these countries into the West’s web of control economically and politically? They could be lured by economic hit men like John Perkins to take on debt to build grandiose projects that promised modernization and prosperity—the debt-led theory of economic development. Moreover, the large sums flooding in could be useful in winning the allegiance of new Third World elites, who were under pressure to deliver prosperity to their political followers, allies, and extended families. The possibilities for corruption were seemingly endless and would provide further opportunities for enmeshing the leaders in relationships with the West while discouraging them from striking out on their own on what could only be a more austere, and much more dangerous, path.

Debt Boom—and Bust: SAPing the Third World

The Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the subsequent Arab oil embargo led to the stagflation crisis of 1974–76 and marked the end of the postwar boom. As one result, leading First World banks were awash in petrodollar deposits stockpiled by OPEC countries. If these billions continued to pile up in bank accounts—some 450 billion from 1973 to 1981—the effect would be to drain the world of liquidity, enhancing the recessionary effects of skyrocketing oil prices. What to do? The international monetary system was facing its worst crisis since the collapse of the 1930s. The solution was to “recycle” the petrodollars as loans to the developing world. Brazil, for example, borrowed $100 billion for a whole catalog of projects—steel mills, giant dams, highways, railroad lines, nuclear power plants.4 The boom in lending to the Third World, chronicled by Sam Gwynne in “Selling Money—and Dependency,” turned into a bust in August 1982, as first Mexico and then other Third World states were unable to meet their debt payments. What followed was a series of disguised defaults, rescheduling, rolled-over loans, new loans, debt plans, and programs, all with he announced goal of helping the debtor countries get back on their feet. The results of these programs were, however, the reverse of their advertised targets: Third World debt increased from $130 billion in 1973 to $612 billion in 1982 to $2.5 trillion in 2006, as James S. Henry explains in “The Mirage of Debt Relief.” Another result of the crisis of the 1970s was to discredit the reigning economic orthodoxy—Keynesian government-led or -guided economic development— in favor of a corporate-inspired movement restoring a measure of laissez-faire (a program usually called neoliberalism outside North America). Its standard-bearers were Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and international enforcement of the neoliberal model was put into the hands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Dozens of countries currently operate under IMF “structural adjustment” programs (SAPs), and despite—or because of—such tutelage few ever complete the IMF/World Bank treatment to regain financial health and independence.

The Web of Control

Payments on Third World debt require more than $375 billion a year, twenty times the amount of foreign aid that Third World countries receive. This system has been called a “Marshall Plan in reverse,” with the countries of the Global South subsidizing he wealthy north, even as half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day.5 How does such a failed system maintain itself? Simply put, Third World countries are caught in a web of control—financial, political, and military—that is extremely hard for them to escape, a system that has become ever more extensive, complex, and pervasive since John Perkins devised his first forecasts for MAIN. Chart 1 illustrates the flows of money and power that form this web of control. Capital flows to underdeveloped countries via loans and other financing, but—as John Perkins points out—at a price: a stranglehold of debt that gives First World governments, institutions, and corporations control of Third World economies. The rest of this chapter outlines the program of free-trade, debt-led economic development as preached by the IMF and the World Bank, shows how corruption and exploitation are in fact at the heart of these power relationships, and explores the range of enforcement options used when the dominated decide that they have had enough.

The Market: Subsidies for the Rich, Free Trade for the Poor

If the global empire had a slogan, it would surely be Free Trade. As their price for assistance, the IMF and World Bank insist in their structural adjustment programs that indebted developing countries abandon state-led development policies, including tariffs, export subsidies, currency controls, and import substitution programs. Their approved model of development instead focuses
on export-led economic growth, using loans to develop new export industries— for example, to attract light industry to export-processing zones (firms like Nike have been major beneficiaries of these policies). Membership in the World Trade Organization also requires adherence to the IMF’s free trade orthodoxy. Ironically, as Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang points out, the First World countries transformed their own economies from a base of traditional agriculture to urban industry by using an arsenal of protectionist tariffs, subsidies, and controls. Britain became a paragon of free trade only in the 1850s; before then it had pursued highly directive industrial policies (in addition to its forcible extraction of tribute from India and the West Indies). The U.S. economy developed behind some of the highest tariff walls in the world, President Grant reportedly remarking in the 1870s that “within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade.” U.S. tariff rates were not significantly reduced until after World War II. In the postwar era, the most successful developing countries have been the East Asian “tiger” economies of Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan, which have indeed concentrated on export-led development, but have historically prohibited import of any goods that would compete with industries whose products they wanted to nourish. For example, one of today’s World Bank teams viewing a Toyota on sale back in 1958 would have advised the company not to bother, since its cars were clearly not competitive on the world market, and West European automakers produced better vehicles at a lower price. Their policy prescription would undoubtedly have been that Japan stick to its relative advantage in the production of toys and clothing. Toyota did not take such advice, and today is the world’s most successful automaker. In sum, the First World has “kicked away the ladder,” prohibiting Third World countries from using the only economic development strategy proven to work.6 The phrase free trade suggests images of Adam Smith’s marketplace, where equals meet to haggle over the goods on sale and finally arrive at a bargain that meets the needs of both, thus enhancing the general welfare. But these are only images, not reality, and they are images that convey exactly the wrong impression. It is not first and Third World equals who are meeting in the marketplace, and the result of their interaction is not a bargain that benefits both. Ghana, for example, was forced by the IMF to abolish tariffs on food imports in 2002. The result was a flood of food imports from European Union countries that destroyed the livelihoods of local farmers. It seems that the IMF’s economic hit men “forgot” to ensure that the EU abolishes its own massive agricultural subsidies. As a result, frozen chicken parts imported from the EU cost a third of those locally produced.7 Zambia was forced by the IMF to abolish tariffs on imported clothing, which had protected a small local industry of some 140 firms. The country was then flooded with imports of cheap secondhand clothing that drove all but 8 firms out of business.8 Even if Zambia’s clothing producers had been large enough to engage in international trade, they would have faced tariffs preventing them from exporting to EU and other developed countries. And while countries like Zambia are supposed to devote themselves to free trade, First World countries subsidize their exporters through export credit agencies— often, as Bruce Rich explains in “Exporting Destruction,” with disastrous results for the environment and economies of the Third World. There are perverse effects as well—the famous “unintended consequences” that conservatives love to cite. The IMF’s structural adjustment program in Peru slashed tariffs on corn in the early 1990s, and corn from the U.S.—whose farmers are subsidized at the rate of $40 billion a year—flooded the country. Many of Peru’s farmers were unable to compete, and so turned to growing coca for cocaine production instead. Meanwhile, the prices Third World countries receive for many of their traditional exports, from coffee and cocoa to rice, sugar and cotton, continue to decline. The relative value of their exports has declined even more—for example, in 1975 a new tractor cost the equivalent of 8 metric tons of African coffee, but by 1990 the same tractor cost 40 metric tons. However, it is difficult for these countries to move to production of more complex goods with higher value because they lack capital, access to markets, and workers with sufficient education. In fact, many IMF programs have required cuts in health and education spending, making it harder to improve the quality and capabilities of work forces with low levels of literacy and few technological skills. In some countries, such as Ghana, the percentage of school-age children who are actually in school is falling because of IMF-imposed budget cuts.

Monopoly: An Unleveled Playing Field

In addition to dominating and manipulating markets, First World elites use extra- market muscle to ensure their control—despite their constant invocation of the magic of free markets. They have insisted on what are called Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which they pushed through the Uruguay Round of trade talks in 1994 despite wide opposition. TRIPS allow patents and other intellectual property monopolies to shut Third World producers out of lucrative markets (thus keeping them trapped in commodity production).

As part of this strategy, the U.S. has insisted on defining genetic material, including seeds, human cells, and microorganisms, as patentable “compositions of matter.” First World corporations have used TRIPS clauses to mine the Global South for local plants and other genetic resources that they can then patent, gaining exclusive production and sales rights—a strategy often called biopiracy.12 In one particularly perverse attempt, RiceTec, a Texas company, applied for, and received, a patent on India’s basmati rice—claiming that it had developed “novel” rice lines—genetic lines that had in fact been developed over centuries of plant breeding by Indian and Pakistani farmers.

Debt: Owing Their Souls to the Company Store

Debt keeps Third World countries under control. Dependent on aid, loan rescheduling, and debt rollovers to survive—never mind actually develop— they have been forced to restructure their economies and rewrite their laws to meet conditions laid down in IMF structural adjustment programs and World Bank conditionality. Unlike the U.S., they do not control the world’s reserve currency, and so cannot live beyond their means for long without financial crisis. As Doug Henwood, author of After the New Economy, points out: The United States would right now be a prime candidate for structural adjustment if this were an ordinary country. We are living way beyond our means; we have massive and constantly growing foreign debts, a gigantic currency account deficit, and a government that shows no interest in doing anything about it. . . . If this were an ordinary country, the United States would have the IMF at our doorstep telling us to create a recession, get the foreign accounts back into balance, consume less, invest more, and save more. But since the United States is the United States, we don’t have such a thing happening. If it is not good medicine for us, then why is it such good medicine for everyone else?

Corruption, Debt, and Secrecy

Corruption, always the handmaid of Power, serves as a mechanism of both profit and control—and it diverts attention from the real springs of power. Corrupt Third World leaders like Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko, who stole at least half of Zaire’s aid money,14 are happy to take on additional debt for unnecessary, poorly planned, or inflated projects—debt that must be repaid by their countries’ citizens. And the IMF and World Bank were happy to continue lending to Zaire—even though their own investigators warned them that the money was being stolen. Mobutu’s support for Washington’s African policies during the cold war may have had something to do with their enthusiasm, but the round-tripping of loaned-then-stolen money back to First World banks must have played a role as well. Steve Berkman, in “The World Bank and the $100 Billion Question,” gives us an inside investigator’s account of how these schemes diverted development money into the pockets of corrupt elites. More generally, what has been called the “debt/capital flight cycle” has roused the interest of many loan committees: the Sag Harbor Group estimates that “at least half the funds borrowed by the largest debtors fl owed right back out the back door, usually in the same year or even the same month the loans arrived.”15 John Christensen describes in “Dirty Money: Inside the Secret World of Offshore Banking” how secret accounts in out-of-control offshore banking havens like the Cayman Islands enable Third World elites to hide money they have stolen, embezzled, or derived from kickbacks, bribes, or drug trafficking. The same offshore institutions enable First World corporations and elites to hide their profits from taxation, leaving rank-and-fi le citizens to pay the bills. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International, incorporated under Luxembourg’s bank secrecy laws, pushed these offshore banking opportunities to new extremes, with as much as $13 billion being lost or stolen in the biggest bank fraud in the world. In “BCCI’s Double Game: Banking on America, Banking on Jihad,” Lucy Komisar explains why governments and regulatory authorities looked the other way: BCCI accommodated the banking needs of a range of powerful inside players—from the CIA and influential Democrats and Republicans in Congress to the Medellín drug cartel—and, as it turns out, al-Qaeda. The privatization programs pushed by the IMF offer such rich opportunities for graft that they have been called “briberization.” According to Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank, “national leaders told to sell their countries’ water and electricity companies . . . were keen to get commissions paid into Swiss bank accounts. . . . You could see their eyes widen” when they realized the scale of the opportunity in front of them, and “objections to selling off state industries were silenced.”

The Enforcers: Carrots and Sticks

But what of the leaders who want to pursue a populist agenda, those whose goals include national control and profit from their country’s resources? Suppose they don’t respond to the snares of corruption or the lure of an upscale First World lifestyle? The EHM game plan includes a full menu of options to ensure compliance, whether willing or not. Divide and rule is, of course, the time-honored strategy of both conquerors and threatened elites. Subversion of the political process is one way to rein in a wayward country’s leadership. The U.S. and other powers make it a point to establish relationships with key players in the administration, the military, business, the media, academia, and the trade unions. After some quiet meetings and provision of funds to various groups, an uncooperative country might well find political tensions growing. The government encounters resistance from former supporters, and the political opposition becomes more strident. The media raises a state of alarm. Tension grows, and economists increase their assessment of business risk: money starts leaving the country for Miami or London or Switzerland, investments are delayed, lay offs increase unemployment. If the government gets the message and alters course, the sun comes out: money starts to return, and cooperation suddenly becomes possible.

If the government tries to ride out the storm, other, more muscular strategies are brought to bear—from assassination of individual leaders to military coups to fomenting civil war. Venezuela provides a recent case study. The U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy in 2002 provided almost $1 million to several business, media, and labor groups, helping finance their noisy campaign against populist President Hugo Chavez in the months leading up to the (unsuccessful) April 2002 coup against him. For example, the NED gave $55,000 to the “Assembly of Education,” run by one Leonardo Carvajal—who, coincidentally, was scheduled to be named minister of education had the coup leaders succeeded in putting Pedro Carmona, a pro-U.S. businessman, in power.17 Private or semi-official military forces are often useful as well. Andrew Rowell and James Marriott explore the growing interest in Nigeria’s oil on the part of both the West and China. In “Mercenaries on the Front Lines in the New Scramble for Africa,” they uncover another jackal operation: the role of Shell Oil’s security agents in making sure that Niger Delta oil profits are safe from the region’s people. Exploiting ethnic or religious divisions within a country has often been a successful strategy. The U.S. was only too glad in 1979 to help support the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahadeen in their struggle against Afghanistan’s socialist government, which from the muj perspective had clearly crossed the line by instituting a program to educate women; Osama bin Laden was a Saudi Islamist recruited by Pakistan’s intelligence services to help lead the CIA’s campaign.18 Kathleen Kern, in “The Human Cost of Cheap Cell Phones,” describes how ethnic division in eastern Congo and Rwanda has been exploited by Western multinationals to ensure their access to Colton ore and other resources, at the cost of 4 million lives. In Nicaragua, the U.S. used religious and ethnic tensions to turn the Miskitu people on the country’s Atlantic coast against the Sandinista government. And terrorism, though always publicly denounced, is often useful. In December 1981, a Nicaraguan Aeronica jetliner was blown up on the tarmac at Mexico City’s airport. The passengers had not yet boarded, so they were luckier than those on Cubana flight 455, which went down over the Caribbean in October 1976 after an explosion, killing all seventy-three passengers and crew. Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who was convicted in Venezuela of having plotted the bombings, later admitted that he had received $200,000 from the U.S. government–funded Cuban American National Foundation for such attacks. Eliminating uncooperative or ambitious Third World leaders in one way or another is the point, which also serves as an object lesson to any president or prime minister who may be considering resistance. John Perkins provides the back story leading to the removal of Presidents Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Roldós of Ecuador in 1981.22 But a long list of popular leaders have met similar fates: Patrice Lumumba of the Congo in 1960; Eduardo Mondlane of Mozambique in 1969; Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau in 1973; Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, in 1980; Benigno Aquino of the Philippines in 1983; Mehdi Ben Barka of Algeria in 1965. The career of Craig Williamson, an agent of the South African security services, is typical of the jackals involved in such targeted killings. He was responsible for the death of Ruth First, an African National Congress party activist and writer, killed by a parcel bomb in 1982, and he has been implicated in attacks on a number of other anti-apartheid activists.

The coup d’état is the classical method of eliminating opposition leaders, sweeping their parties out of power, rounding up activists, and clamping down on an entire society to reverse the results of an inconvenient reform program. Perhaps the best known is the overthrow of Chile’s Popular Unity government in September 1973 by General Augusto Pinochet, resulting in the deaths of President Salvador Allende and thousands of his supporters. A long list of coups is closely associated with U.S. and Western governments, beginning with the CIA’s overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 and including, notably, the overthrow of Brazil’s President João Goulart in 1964, General Idi Amin’s overthrow of Milton Obote in Uganda in 1971, and General Mohammad Suharto’s seizure of power in Indonesia in 1965. Military intervention is an option if the jackals are unsuccessful and no cooperative military officers can be recruited. Intervention sometimes takes the form of civil war by proxy, using a combination of terrorism and guerrilla warfare to overthrow the government or to wear down the population through a war of attrition that can only be ended by electoral defeat or negotiations. The Contra War against Nicaragua’s Sandinistas was a classic example, but the U.S. also conducted long campaigns against the governments of Mozambique and Angola with the cooperation of the South African military, wrecking the economies of both countries and killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Direct intervention has been reserved for the most difficult situations, but it is always a possible method of regime change. The lessons of the Vietnam War seemed to make this the least attractive option for exercising First World power, but the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the advance of high-tech weaponry have pushed this method to the fore. In the post–cold war era, U.S. military/strategic theorists have used the advantage offered by the so-called revolution in military affairs, including pervasive surveillance technologies, network-centric command and control of military forces, and precision munitions, to undergird a new assertiveness in U.S. foreign policy. As Belloc remarked about the hegemony of Europeans over their colonies in the heyday of the British Empire: “We have the Gatling gun, and they have not.” In 1992, the neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defense in the George H. W. Bush administration, formulated what has since become known as the Bush Doctrine in “Defense Planning Guidance 1994–99.” This strategic plan emphasizes three points: the primacy of U.S. power within the New World Order; the right of the U.S. to engage unilaterally in preemptive attacks when necessary to defend its interests; and, in the Middle East, the “overall objective” to remain “the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.”24 The invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 followed from these premises. Dick Cheney, now an advocate of the Bush Doctrine, argued against toppling Saddam in the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991: “I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire, and we have absolutely no desire to get bogged down in that fashion.” Time changes, however. The lure of Iraq’s oil reserves in a world facing future shortages of oil, control of the Middle East as the fulcrum of power in such a world, and prospects of obscenely lucrative contracts and concessions, as Greg Muttitt reports in “The Iraqi Job: Hijacking Iraq’s Oil Reserves,” seem to have led the U.S. on to a long-term intervention from which it may be difficult to disengage. Andrew J. Bacevich, himself a conservative military theorist, sees the problem: “Holding sway in not one but several regions of pivotal geopolitical importance, disdaining the legitimacy of political economic principles other than its own, declaring the existing order to be sacrosanct, asserting unquestioned military supremacy with a globally deployed force configured not for self-defense but for coercion: these are the actions of a nation engaged in the governance of empire.”

Yet, as in 1776, empire is acceptable only as long as its subjects believe they benefit from living under its control and limiting their aspirations to those their rulers deem acceptable. While Third World elites may have ample opportunities to live an opulent First World lifestyle, 2 billion people crowd into urban slums in the cities of the Global South, and mountains of debt continue to shackle economic and social development.26 In this context, the Bush Doctrine calls for war without end to preserve the empire’s web of control. But, as Antonia Juhasz points out in “Global Uprising: The Web of Resistance,” the world’s peoples seem to be deciding that the struggle to create a democratic alternative to globalization is preferable to living perpetually in the shadow of empire.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another Missing in Pakistan !!

Once, President Musharraf was invited to deliver a motivational speech to the pupils of a secondary school. After the speech there was a Questions and Answers session. Pupils asked different questions and were answered by the President with enthusiasm. During the session innocent Ali raises his hand for a question. The President allows the little angel for the question. Ali stood up and said “Mr. President, my name is Ali and I am in grade 4. I have three questions to ask” Mr. President smiles and allows Ali to raise his queries. Ali said

“My first question: What was the basis for the reference against Chief Justice?

My second question: Why was it necessary to impose Emergency rule in Pakistan?

My last question: Why the Judges involved in the hearing of President’s eligibility case were dismissed before the final hearing. ”

Suddenly recess bell went on and President with just about to answer Ali said, Ah! Alright kids, we’ll resume the session after your lunch break.

After a 30 minutes break, all the pupils return and then Mr. President came along to resume the session.

“Okay!! So where were we, yes Questions and Answers session, so who is next for the question” said President Musharraf.
There Omer raises his hand for question. “Yes please go ahead” said the President.“Sir, I have five questions to ask.” “Go on” said the President.

“My first question: What was the basis for the reference against Chief Justice?

My second question: Why was it necessary to impose Emergency rule in Pakistan?

My last question: Why the Judges involved in the hearing of President’s eligibility case were dismissed before the final hearing.

My fourth question is why the recess bell rang 25 minutes earlier than usual.

And finally my last question is “Where is Ali?”

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (EHM)

An excerpt from
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
By John Perkins

Quito, Ecuador’s capital stretches across a volcanic valley high in the Andes, at an altitude of nine thousand feet. Residents of this city, which was founded long before Columbus arrived in the Americas, are accustomed to seeing snow on the surrounding peaks, despite the fact that they live just a few miles south of the equator. The city of Shell, a frontier outpost and military base hacked out of Ecuador’s Amazon jungle to service the oil company whose name it bears, is nearly eight thousand feet lower than Quito. A steaming city, it is inhabited mostly by soldiers, oil workers, and the indigenous people from the Shuar and Kichwa tribes who work for them as prostitutes and laborers.

To journey from one city to the other, you must travel a road that is both tortuous and breathtaking. Local people will tell you that during the trip you experience all four seasons in a single day. Although I have driven this road many times, I never tire of the spectacular scenery. Sheer cliffs, punctuated by cascading waterfalls and brilliant bromeliads rise up one side. On the other side, the earth drops abruptly into a deep abyss where the Pastaza River, a headwater of the Amazon, snakes its way down the Andes. The Pastaza carries water from the glaciers of Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and a deity in the time of the Incas, to the Atlantic Ocean over three thousand miles away.

In 2003, I departed Quito in a Subaru Outback and headed for Shell on a mission that was like no other I had ever accepted. I was hoping to end a war I had helped create. As is the case with so many things we EHMs must take responsibility for, it is a war that is virtually unknown anywhere outside the country where it is fought. I was on my way to meet with the Shuars, the Kichwas, and their neighbors the Achuars, the Zaparos, and the Shiwiars—tribes determined to prevent our oil companies from destroying their homes, families, and lands, even if it means they must die in the process. For them, this is a war about the survival of their children and cultures, while for us it is about power, money, and natural resources. It is one part of the struggle for world domination and the dream of a few greedy men, global empire. That is what we EHMs do best: we build a global empire. We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organizations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure —electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.

Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh. This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money—and another country is added to our global empire.

Driving from Quito toward Shell on this sunny day in 2003, I thought back thirty-five years to the first time I arrived in this part of the world. I had read that although Ecuador is only about the size of Nevada, it has more than thirty active volcanoes, over 15 percent of the world’s bird species, and thousands of as-yet-unclassified plants, and that it is a land of diverse cultures where nearly as many people speak ancient indigenous languages as speak Spanish. I found it fascinating and certainly exotic; yet, the words that kept coming to mind back then were pure, untouched, and innocent. Much has changed in thirty-five years.
At the time of my first visit in 1968, Texaco had only just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon region. Today, oil accounts for nearly half the country’s exports. A trans-Andean pipeline built shortly after my first visit has since leaked over a half million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest—more than twice the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez.2 Today, a new $1.3 billion, three hundred–mile pipeline constructed by an EHM–organized consortium promises to make Ecuador one of the world’s top ten suppliers of oil to the United States.3 Vast areas of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures have been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers have been transformed into flaming cesspools.

During this same period, the indigenous cultures began fighting back. For instance, on May 7, 2003, a group of American lawyers representing more than thirty thousand indigenous Ecuadorian people filed a $1 billion lawsuit against ChevronTexaco Corp. The suit asserts that between 1971 and 1992 the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers over four million gallons per day of toxic wastewater contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.

Outside the window of my Outback, great clouds of mist rolled in from the forests and up the Pastaza’s canyons. Sweat soaked my shirt, and my stomach began to churn, but not just rom the intense tropical heat and the serpentine twists in the road. Knowing the part I had played in destroying this beautiful country was once again taking its toll. Because of my fellow EHMs and me, Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20 to 6 percent.

Unfortunately, Ecuador is not the exception. Nearly every country we EHMs have brought under the global empire’s umbrella has suffered a similar fate.6 Third world debt has grown to more than $2.5 trillion, and the cost of servicing it—over $375 billion per year as of 2004—is more than all third world spending on health and education, and twenty times what developing countries receive annually in foreign aid. Over half the people in the world survive on less than two dollars per day, which is roughly the same amount they received in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of third world households accounts for 70 to 90 percent of all private financial wealth and real estate ownership in their country; the actual percentage depends on the specific country.

The Subaru slowed as it meandered through the streets of the beautiful resort town of Baños, famous for the hot baths created by underground volcanic rivers that flow from the highly active Mount Tungurahgua. Children ran along beside us, waving and trying to sell us gum and cookies. Then we left Baños behind. The spectacular scenery ended abruptly as the Subaru sped out of paradise and into a modern vision of Dante’s Inferno A gigantic monster reared up from the river, a mammoth gray wall. Its dripping concrete was totally out of place, completely unnatural and incompatible with the landscape. Of course, seeing it there should not have surprised me. I knew all along that it would be waiting in ambush. I had encountered it many times before and in the past had praised it as a symbol of EHM accomplishments. Even so, it made my skin crawl.

That hideous, incongruous wall is a dam that blocks the rushing Pastaza River, diverts its waters through huge tunnels bored into the mountain, and converts the energy to electricity. This is the 156- megawatt Agoyan hydroelectric project. It fuels the industries that make a handful of Ecuadorian families wealthy, and it has been the source of untold suffering for the farmers and indigenous people who live along the river. This hydroelectric plant is just one of many projects developed through my efforts and those of other EHMs. Such projects are the reason Ecuador is now a member of the global empire, and the reason why the Shuars and Kichwas and their neighbors threaten war against our oil companies.

Because of EHM projects, Ecuador is awash in foreign debt and must devote an inordinate hare of its national budget to paying this off, instead of using its capital to help the millions of its citizens officially classified as dangerously impoverished. The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to the oil companies. Indeed, one of the reasons the EHMs set their sights on Ecuador in the first place was because the sea of oil beneath its Amazon region is believed to rival the oil fields of the Middle East.8 The global empire demands its pound of flesh in the form of oil concessions.

These demands became especially urgent after September 11, 2001, when Washington feared that Middle Eastern supplies might cease. On top of that, Venezuela, our third-largest oil supplier, had recently elected a populist president, Hugo Chávez, who took a strong stand against what he referred to as U.S. imperialism; he threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States. The EHMs had failed in Iraq and Venezuela, but we had succeeded in
Ecuador; now we would milk it for all it is worth.

Ecuador is typical of countries around the world that EHMs have brought into the economic-political fold. For every $100 of crude taken out of the Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies receive $75. Of the remaining $25, three-quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt. Most of the remainder covers military and other government expenses—which leaves about $2.50 for health, education, and programs aimed at helping the poor.9 Thus, out of every $100 worth of oil torn from the Amazon, less than $3 goes to the people who need the money most, those whose lives have been so adversely impacted by the dams, the drilling, and the pipelines, and who are dying from lack of edible food and potable water.

All of those people—millions in Ecuador, billions around the planet—are potential terrorists. Not because they believe in communism or anarchism or are intrinsically evil, but simply because they are desperate. Looking at this dam, I wondered—as I have so often in so many places around the world—when these people would take action, like the Americans against England in the 1770s or Latin Americans against Spain in the early 1800s.

The subtlety of this modern empire building puts the Roman centurions, the Spanish conquistadors, and the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European colonial powers to shame. We EHMs are crafty; we learned from history. Today we do not carry swords. We do not wear armor or clothes that set us apart. In countries like Ecuador, Nigeria, and Indonesia, we dress like local schoolteachers and shop owners. In Washington and Paris, we look like government bureaucrats and bankers. We appear humble, normal. We visit project sites and stroll through impoverished villages. We profess altruism, talk with local papers about the wonderful humanitarian things we are doing. We cover the conference tables of government committees with our spreadsheets and financial projections, and we lecture at the Harvard Business School about the miracles of macroeconomics. We are on the record, in the open. Or so we portray ourselves and so are we accepted. It is how the system works. We seldom resort to anything illegal because the system itself is built on subterfuge, and the system is by definition legitimate.

However—and this is a very large caveat—if we fail, an even more sinister breed steps in, ones we EHMs refer to as the jackals, men who trace their heritage directly to those earlier empires. The jackals are always there, lurking in the shadows. When they emerge, heads of state are overthrown or die in violent “accidents.”10 And if by chance the jackals fail, as they failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the old models resurface. When the jackals fail, young Americans are sent in to kill and to die.

As I passed the monster, that hulking mammoth wall of gray concrete rising from the river, I was very conscious of the sweat that soaked my clothes and of the tightening in my intestines. I headed on down into the jungle to meet with the indigenous people who are determined to fight to the last man in order to stop this empire I helped create, and I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. How, I asked myself, did a nice kid from rural New Hampshire ever get into such a dirty business?

Musharraf’s covert Propaganda Being Handled By Self-Proclaimed Master of Deception, Ahmed Quraishi

By Teeth Maestro on Dec 14, 2007
Author of “Thesis” that US is Plotting Against Musharraf May Actually be an Intelligence-Connected Propaganda Consultant; Says on His Own Website that he Creates “Immaculate Deception…Tailored to Your Senses”
By Farid Alvie
Ahmed Quraishi’s ”enlightening” articles have been doing the rounds on the net of late. One can only describe him as Pakistan’s very own Bill O’ Reilly (with just as much credibility!). And like O’ Reilly, his most used weapon of choice is the tag of ‘traitor’ and ‘unpatriotic’ for anyone who criticizes the government (or perhaps just el presidente, the now retired generalissimo), be they politicians, journalists, lawyers, academics, human rights activists, former army officers et al. It seems Mr. Quraishi gets his inspiration (along with his fake American accent) from Fox News.
Even a cursory look at his website might help one understand Mr. Quraishi’s “unbiased, journalistic, analytical, and professional” approach to issues he so passionately addresses in his articles. Mr. Quraishi’s website is studded with countless gems that reflect the luminosity of his brilliance, breadth of vision, and intellectual maturity.For instance, in the ‘biography’ section of (also known as the ”tooting one’s own horn” section) we are informed that “Starting in the year 2003, Mr. Quraishi has lent his expertise to Furmaanrealpolitik political consulting firm originally based in Dubai.”
A look at the website of (who came up with this subtle name, one wonders?) helps answer questions people might entertain regarding Mr. Quraishi’s credibilty, motives and unique understanding of national and international affairs.
The ’services’ offered by furmaanrealpolitik include “Intelligence, Research & Analysis;” “Surveillance & Confidential Investigations;” “Mobilization & Campaign Development;” and (my personal favorite) “Immaculate Deception Creations Tailored to Your Senses.” This ’service’ is not only my favorite for the brilliant title it boasts but also for its content:
‘Immaculate Deception Creations Tailored to Your Senses’? Immaculate Deception… Are we talking about peddling untruths in order to deceive? Oh dear! So how do Mr. Quraishi and the boys at furmaanrealpolitik serve their clients? The website says: “Anyone can do TV. But we go a step further — we create…Our production can be tailored to business, political and military requirements.”
So whether it is Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif or Pervez Musharraf or the ISI or Coca Cola or Tapal Danedar Chai, the ”passionate” team at furmaanrealpolitik will sell its services to the highest bidder and come up with ”immaculately deceptive” techniques ”tailored” to their respective ‘’senses” (and by senses I am guessing Mr. Quraishi is not talking about a sense of decency here!).
Is Mr. Quraishi telling us that as part of a political consulting/lobbying firm that proudly lists on its website its expertise in conjuring up lies and deceptions, that he actually makes his living by peddling lies and untruths? Or as he calls them “immaculate deceptions?”
As an analyst and a journalist, what does this say about his work, his credibility?
Are we to understand that every word Mr. Quraishi pens is written on the behest of a client? Could it be that Mr. Quraishi’s ‘insightful and unique take on national and international affairs is as faux as his American accent and can vary depending on who bids the highest for his immaculately deceptive words?
In case Mr. Quraishi has misunderstood the meaning of the word deception and used it by mistake (and with the same casual attitude and effort with which he throws conspiracy theories and allegations about in his articles), let me offer the services of my humble thesaurus. Alternatives for the word deception are listed as: dishonesty, trickery, fraud, con, sham, trick, ruse, cheating… etc.
Forget about out the rest of the world, I wonder how seriously his own son, little Al Waleed, would take daddy dearest the next time he is instructed not to lie and to always tell the truth!

1948 Pakistan Vs 2007 Pakistan

Cabinet’s meeting was underway; an ADC asked “should I serve tea or coffee, Sir”, stunned on the question and replied; “don’t they take tea or coffee at their homes”, ADC startled by the answer, he continued “If any minister wants to have tea or coffee, better to have it at home, otherwise go back to home and have tea or coffee then return. The funds of the nation are for the nation and not for its ministers”.

After this order, in cabinet meetings only simple water was served as long as he remained as ruling authority. Rs.38.5 was spent for bits and pieces at Governor General House. Invoice was ordered for scrutinizing the record. Some things were ordered by Ms. Fatima Jinnah, so ordered to take the bill from Madam, some stuff for his personal use and was asked to be deducted from his own account, however some belongings were of official use at Governor General House and the amount was allowed to be taken from the official account with an advise for the care to be taken in future.

Brother of the British King, Duke of Gloater was coming to Pakistan. The British ambassador requested “Could you welcome him at the airport” replied joyfully “I am ready, but when my brother will go to London, the British King must also welcome him at airport”. Once an ADC presented you a visited card, and He tore the card away and ordered the ADC to ask him to go away and never return. This was his brother’s card, and his offence was just that he mentioned “Brother of Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Governor General Pakistan”

Once Ziaraat was chilling, Col. Elahi Bakhsh offered him a new pair of socks. Jinnah liked the pair very much and asked its price, Col. replied Rs.2, hearing that he replied “it’s too expensive”. Col. replied politely “Sir, they are bought from your personal account”. “Even my personal account is a nations integrity, ruler of a poor country should not be such voluptuous”, saying so he wrapped up the socks again and asked Col. Bakhsh to return.

Once in Ziarat enthused by service of a nurse, asked her, “Daughter! What can I do for you?” She replied that her whole family is in Punjab she is along at Ziarat for her job, and requested Jinnah if he can make her transfer to Punjab. Upon this he replied with sorrow that he is sorry for that as it was a matter of Minister of Health, a Governor General is not authorized for this transfer.

Once, Quaid ordered for a writing table at his plane. When the file reached Minister of Finance, he though allowed for the payment, but issued a note saying that Governor General is legally bind to take permission from Finance minister before making such orders. Felling deeply sorry for that, Jinnah cancelled his order and replied with a written apologies to the Finance Minister.

And everyone knows the train barrier’s chronicle. Gul Hassan had opened the barrier for Jinnah’s car to pass. He get angry on this course of action and ordered to close the barrier at once, saying if he do not follow the rules and who else would.

This was Pakistan before 60 years from today, when Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the ruler of this country. Then we marched forward prospering and resulted in today’s Pakistan, where railway barriers are something very small, all the road signals went off at least 1 hour before the ruler have to pass from there. Traffic at both ends stand still and unless the royal caravan passed, neither the traffic runs nor the traffic signals, where President, without the permission of Finance Minister, announces funds of millions. Air Planes are bought neglecting the disapproval of Finance Minster, where hundreds were hired by Presidents and Ministers, hundreds were transferred, and hundreds were fired, and even hundreds were given promotions ignoring all the rules and regulations. Now, unlike Jinnah’s socks, even children nappies are bought with national funds. In today’s Pakistan, the annual budget for President House and Prime Minister House is Rs.185 and Rs.200 million respectively. Now parliament house is practically owned by brothers, sisters, nephews and husbands, and where calls were made from Prime Minister House to secretariats saying “Its PM’s brother in law”.

Here the whole government is seen waiting at airport to welcome US deputy minister. Now not just tea or coffee, but a grand Dinner or Lunch is served in cabinet meetings. Now just the kitchen budgets of President House and Prime Minister House have crossed millions. It is that prosperous Pakistan, where 16 million poor are residing. When Jinnah leaves the Governor General House, only one police jeep escort him, it is the time when Gandhi was already assassinated, and Jinnah’s life was under threat. Even then Quaid used to walk daily without any security. But today’s governing authorities cannot travel even 10KM without modern bullet proof vehicles, security guards and special trained commandos.
We couldn’t create an atmosphere of equality here; okay, neither could we give it an independent, decision taking and reliable leadership; okay, we couldn’t make it a modern, prosperous and peaceful country; okay, but at least we can bring it back to 1948, we can at least make it a 60 years old Pakistan.

Is there anyone who can take this modern, prosperous and this highly established Pakistan from us and give us back our backward, poor and non prosperous Pakistan, can anyone give us back Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan. 16 Million Poor in this country are willing to have 1948 Pakistan instead of 2007 Pakistan.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kings & Fish

“What kind of news is this!!!” said presidential spokesperson Rashid Qureshi and put off the line in annoyance. BBC representative was shocked on this reaction. He made this conversation as news and published this news on evening of 2nd December 2007.

According to BBC, their representative contacted the president spokesperson Major Gen. (Retd) Rashid Qureshi and asked him “When will President Musharraf leave the Army House?” The president spokesperson took this question against all ethics of Journalism and Diplomatist and said “What kind of news is that!!! When will President Musharraf leave the army house” and hung up the line. The BBC representative commented on this “it seems as President Musharraf is in no hurry to leave the army house. On the other hand letters have been issued to the Judges to leave the official residences that refused to take oath according to PCO.

When I read this news, I felt that BBC correspondent was unaware of the ground realities of Pakistan, neither he was aware of Pakistan's tough time, war against terrorism, nor he was aware of opposition's non-political and non-democratic movements, otherwise he should have never asked such a stupid question with an official representative. I think BBC correspondent didn't know that President Musharraf is Pakistan's most powerful person; he was attached with Pakistan's largest and the strongest institution ever for 46 years of his life. He has the power of imposing and eliminating emergency rule, also country's biggest political power PML-Q and Molana Fazal-ul-Rehman are puppets on his fingers. Therefore he will not leave the army house as long as he wishes and no one including BBC has the right to ask him about.

I also felt BBC's comments on deposed Judges as insulting; because Judges not taking oath on PCO are guilty of disturbing democracy, peace, justice and economic stability of the country. These are the people who tried to weaken Pakistan's most powerful and strongest government. Chief Justice Iftikhar M. Choudary is country's biggest criminal. He started to take so-mo-to actions, one after another, because of which common man had access to the doors of courts and public was started expecting justice in this country. Iftikhar Chaudary's second blunder was to remove the fear of state owned institutes from people's hearts and minds. Chief Justice made people think that angels like IG and chief secretary of Pakistan were also accountable, and respected institutes can also be called upon in courts. Because of this crime, the government was facing difficulty in ruling the rulings. Chief Justice's third offence was the legal barriers put on government's path of self-centered policies, whether it was Steel Mill's privatization or collaboration with Benazir Bhutto, he had placed the walls of law on government's every 'legal' action. Iftikhar Choudary's fourth mistake was to ask about the missing citizens' of Pakistan, which resulted in Government's answer-less face in the court. Chief Justice's fifth crime was the 9th March. 'His Highness' the President and his associates had asked Mr. Iftikhar Choudary to resign on 9th March but he refused. Chief Justice's refusal was a big interference in government's matters. His sixth mistake was his appeal in court against his deposed position, and his seventh mistake was to wave hands on lawyer's slogans in his favor, attending their rallies and to accept the decision of his restoration as Chief Justice on 20th July.

Other 'rebel' Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are also national criminals just like Chief Justice. They commit a crime on 13th March by accepting the petition of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudary. Rana Bhagwan Das's crime was that he refused to become Chief Justice replacing Iftikhar Choudary, instead he ordered a full court bench for Chief Justice's Reference case and refused to attend phone calls and meetings with Government officials. Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, Justice Sardar Raza Mohammad Khan, Justice Shakir Ullah Jan, Justice Tasdiq Jeelani and Justice Ghulam Rabbani are also national criminals. They not only became a part of Chief Justice Reference case bench, but also declared the deposition of Chief Justice as illegal and unlawful. The BBC correspondent didn’t know that disobedient Judges and their terrorism did not end here instead Supreme Court had accepted the petition against President Musharraf and Benazir’s ordinance for hearing. Supreme Court had allowed Shariff family to return to the country, and on 10th December when the government forcefully handed Mr. Shariff to Saudi Government, then the Court had started the hearing of insulting court against the government. Supreme Court also accepted the petition against two positions of the President for hearing, and began the hearing against the Presidential Election. Further the last and non tolerable crime of these Judges was that they refused to take oath according to PCO.
His Highness the President declared emergency on 3rd November in Pakistan as an Army Chief, after which the Judges were given an opportunity to save their jobs, but these disobedient Judges gave priority to their dignity over their jobs. Even they are not aware of ground realities and are trying to be Tipu Sultan, therefore the government have every legal right to take their homes, cars, drivers and cooks from them and also to stop their salaries and pensions. BBC correspondent didn’t know that Government is taking action against these ‘National Criminals’ just according to the law and constitution. The government has already deposed 24 Judges of three High Courts for their crime on 4th December. The houses of the deposed Judges have already been allotted to the Judges well aware of ‘ground realities’ and ‘army matters’. BBC correspondent even don’t know that Lahore’s government had already issued a notice of leaving official residence to Justice Shahid Siddiqui for these crimes, and all these actions are just according to law and constitution.

The BBC representative was really unaware of Pakistan’s ground realities otherwise he must have never asked such a question to the government officials. Our ground realities are far different than that of US and Europe. In US, Europe and Far East jungle and strength are not the law. There any journalist can ask a question like “when will you leave the army house?” to any ruling authority, and that ruling authority gladly answers the question. However our ground realities are made up of Jungle loam with nectar of baton, and so questions like that are in fact no news for Pakistan. BBC correspondent didn’t know that Pakistan is such an interesting country where the notice of leaving the residence is being issued to the Judges not taking oath according to PCO by that caretaker Interior Minister who himself did not leave the possession of the official residence for one year after his retirement. The notice resulted in seizure of the residence, car and other official facilities from the Judges where five former Federal Ministers are taking part in upcoming elections with official bullet proof cars, official staff and official security and where sixteen former federal ministers have 350 guards and cars of Islamabad police, where the real Judges and true justice is confined in homes but former Federal Minister for health Naseer Khan is found to have a fake degree. He was Minister of Health for past five years with a fake degree, and he on his seat issued hundreds of true and fake medicine certificates. This is such an interesting country where judges following the law and constitution are treated as ‘national criminals’ and where presidential spokesperson becomes mad on questions like “When will the President leave the army house?”

I personally think that BBC correspondent didn’t know about us at all otherwise he must have known that in countries like Pakistan ‘dignity’ is a crime and ‘principle’ is a sin, he must have known that in Jungle’s law the power is always with King and according to the constitutions of the seas, the Big Fish is always the law. One must not ask such questions to Kings and Big Fish, they tend to get irritated on such questions.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Once there was a civilization...

There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world. It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic origins. One of its languages became the universal language of much of the world, the bridge between the peoples of a hundred lands. Its armies were made up of people of many nationalities, and its military protection allowed a degree of peace and prosperity that had never been known. The reach of this civilization's commerce extended from Latin America to China, and everywhere in between. And this civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and Paved the way for space travel and exploration.

Its writers created thousands of stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things. When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.

While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I'm talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent. Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership.
And perhaps we can learn a lesson from his example: It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population-that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. This kind of enlightened leadership - leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability, diversity and courage - led to 800 years of invention and prosperity...

Siege of MECCA

By Yaroslav Trofimov (Siege of Mecca)

The holy city of Mecca looked deceptively calm as the first dawn of the new century started to break behind craggy mountains.Splashing his face with cold water, the Grand Mosque’s bearded imam fastened a beige-hued cloak over his shoulders and muttered praises to the Lord. The time to lead the morning’s first prayer was minutes away.Under his window, the mosque’s floodlit courtyard was filling up quickly. The hajj pilgrimage season, when this stadium-size enclosure was traversed by more than a million worshippers, had already ended. Yet Mecca remained jam-packed with the faithful. Many of them had spent the night inside Islam’s holiest shrine, curling up on wool carpets in the Grand Mosque’s multistory labyrinth of nearly a thousand rooms.As usual, these worshippers camped along with their bundles, mattresses, and suitcases that nobody had bothered to check. Following custom, many hauled in wooden coffins, hoping that the imam would bestow on decomposing relatives inside the precious blessings that can only be received in such a sacred precinct.Today, some of these coffins contained an unusual cargo: Kalashnikov assault rifles, Belgian-made FN-FAL guns, bullet belts, and an assortment of pistols.The men who had smuggled this arsenal into the mosque sought an ambitious goal: to reverse the flow of world history, sparking a global war that would finally lead to Islam’s total victory and to a destruction of arrogant Christians and Jews.The date was the First of Muharram of Islam’s year 1400–which in calendars kept by infidel Westerners corresponded to November 20, 1979.For the natives of Mecca, a city that lives off the flood of humanity that has coursed through its shrines since time immemorial, this Tuesday morning promised a particularly joyful occasion: New Year’s day is when, according to tradition, the Meccans make a pilgrimage of their own to the Grand Mosque.
In darkness, thousands trekked to the outskirts of the city, shedding everyday clothes after a shower and returning in the pilgrims’ snow white ihram outfits–two towel-like garments that symbolize purity and leave men’s right shoulders exposed.Mixing in with the locals were as many as 100,000 visitors from all over the world–Pakistanis and Indonesians, Moroccans and Yemenis, Nigerians and Turks. Some were stragglers left behind after the hajj, entrepreneurial pilgrims who, year after year, try to offset the cost of their passage by reselling in Mecca’s bazaars exotic wares from their remote homelands. Others had arrived in Mecca just to witness the turn of thecentury–a once-in-a-lifetime event. Hidden in this human sea were hundreds of grim-faced rebels, many of them sporting red checkered headdresses. Some had been inside the mosque for days, reconnoitering its maze of corridors and passageways. Others were bused in during the night by a friendly religious academy. Yet others drove their own cars to Mecca this morning, arriving at the last minute and accompanied by children and wives to allay guards’ suspicions.Most of these conspirators were Saudis of Bedouin stock, though their ranks also brimmed with foreigners, if such a word had a meaning for men who believed in the single citizenship of Islam. They even included African American converts, inspired by a new faith and hardened by race riots half a world away.The color of the cloudless sky just started to turn from grayish to pink when the dawn ritual began, as it does that time of the year, at 5:18 a.m. “La ilaha ila Allah,” the deep-voiced prayer call rang from new loudspeakers affixed atop the mosque’s seven towering minarets: “There is no god but Allah.”Barefoot, worshippers knelt in the Grand Mosque’s marble-paved courtyard. Clearing his throat, the imam picked up the microphone and read out the blessings. On his cue, the faithful prostrated themselves on the ground, in a vast succession of concentric circles that radiated from the Kaaba, an ancient cube draped in black silk embroidered with gold that looms in the center of the enclosure.

Then, just as the imam concluded the prayer with wishes of peace, gunshots rang out. The crackling sound reverberated in the courtyard as in an echo chamber. Stunned worshippers spotted a young man, a rifle in his hands, walking briskly toward the Kaaba. Another shot sent into the air flocks of panicked pigeons that usually graze on the plaza outside the Grand Mosque.Rumors quickly swirled through the crowd. What could all this be? What was all that noise? Maybe there is an innocuous explanation, one man opined. Maybe the gunmen were bodyguards for some senior prince, or even the Saudi monarch, King Khaled, himself ? Maybe the gunfire was just some peculiar Saudi way to celebrate the New Year?More knowledgeable worshippers shuddered. Firing a weapon in the Grand Mosque, they knew, was a grave sin. They couldn’t recall the last time such a sacrilege had occurred. Pilgrims watched with angst as more and more gunmen closed in on the Kaaba, carrying weapons that had been extracted from uncrated coffins. The Grand Mosque’s own police force, armed with nothing more threatening than sticks for beating misbehaving foreign pilgrims, melted away once two guards who attempted resistance fell dead by the gates.Amid this commotion, the rebels’ leader, Juhayman al Uteybi, emerged from the depths of the mosque. A forty-three-year-old Bedouin preacher with magnetic black eyes, sensual lips, and shoulder-length hair that seamlessly blended into a black curly beard, Juhayman conveyed a sense of immediate authority despite his slender stature. Emulating a piety first displayed by Prophet Mohammed himself, he wore a traditional Saudi white robe that was cut short at midcalf to signal the rejection of material goods. Unlike his fellow gunmen, he was bareheaded, with only a thin green hair band keeping his unruly locks in check.Flanked by three militants armed with rifles, pistols, and daggers, Juhayman started to elbow his way across the courtyard, toward the sacred Kaaba and the Grand Mosque’s imam. The cleric, who had just turned his face away from the Kaaba and toward the distressing tumult among the believers, noticed that he was standing right next to a coffin. This one contained a real cadaver; the dead child’s relatives, oblivious to the mounting upheaval, were imploring the imam to bless the tiny corpse.

As the cleric obliged, reciting the sacred lines, recognition flickered on his face. He realized in these moments that Juhayman and some of the other gunmen, who now got disconcertingly close, had attended his lectures on Islam here in Mecca. This feeling turned to horror seconds later, as Juhayman unceremoniously pushed the cleric aside and seized the microphone. When the imam tried to wrestle back the mike, one of the intruders raised a sharp curved dagger and screamed at the top of his lungs, ready to stab.A fright swept the crowd.Picking up shoes, thousands rushed toward the enclosure’s gates, only to find all fifty-one of them chained shut. Ragged-looking gun- men, muzzles staring into the crowd, barred all exits. Unsure of how to behave, some worshippers started chanting “Allahu Akbar”–“God is Greatest”–the Muslims’ invocation of faith in a moment of adversity. The gunmen unexpectedly joined in this chorus and it became louder and louder, spreading throughout the packed mosque until it turned into a deafening roar.When this chanting subsided, Juhayman barked into the microphone a series of clipped military commands. Following his instructions, scores of his well-trained followers dispersed throughout the compound, setting up machine-gun nests atop the shrine’s seven minarets. Trapped pilgrims were gang-pressed into aiding the rebels. Some had to roll up the thousands of heavy carpets inside the courtyard and prop them up against the chained gates. The fittest were forced at gunpoint to climb the steep staircases to the tops of the minarets, carrying water and crates of ammunition. The takeover of Islam’s holy of holies was swift and complete.At their 89 meters (292 feet) of height, the mosque’s minarets overlooked much of downtown Mecca, providing rebel snipers with a vast field of fire. Trigger fingers caressing the cold metal, they scanned neighboring streets for potential foes. “If you see a government soldier who wants to raise his hand against you, have no pity and shoot him because he wants to kill you,” Juhayman instructed these snipers in his guttural desert accent. “Do not hesitate!”

Under the minarets, even Saudis–proficient in the local dialect–had a hard time understanding what was going on. The crying of women, the coughing of elders, and the shuffling of bare feet filled the Grand Mosque’s courtyard with an anxious hum. Many foreigners among the tens of thousands of hostages spoke no Arabic at all and stood transfixed in the turmoil, asking better-educated countrymen for explanation in a multitude of tongues.The conspirators were prepared for linguistic problems, and wanted to be comprehended. Soon they grouped Pakistani and Indian pilgrims on one side of the mosque, with a Pakistani-born rebel interpreting the announcements in Urdu to bewildered compatriots. A cluster of Africans was provided with a speaker of English. “Sit down, sit down and listen,” Juhayman’s gunmen yelled, rifle-butting those pilgrims who dared to disobey.As cowed worshippers finally settled in fearful attention, the mysterious group indicated that its authority now extended well beyond the Grand Mosque to Saudi Arabia’s commercial capital and to the second of the country’s two holy cities. “Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah are now in our hands,” the rebels declared through the shrine’s public-address system, so powerful that their words could be heard throughout central Mecca.Then Juhayman handed the microphone to an aide better versed in classical Arabic speech. It was high time to explain the purpose of this daring venture.For the next hour, the Grand Mosque’s loudspeakers relayed the uprising’s shocking message to the world’s one billion Muslims, announcing that an ancient prophecy had been fulfilled at last and that the hour of final reckoning was being struck. By the time this speech, occasionally interspersed with gunshots, was over and the loudspeakers fell silent, panic infected the whole of central Mecca. Even waiters at the outdoor cafés near the mosque had all run away.

Thus began a drawn-out battle that would drench Mecca in blood, marking a watershed moment for the Islamic world and the West. Within hours, this outrage would prompt a global diplomatic crisis, spreading death and destruction thousands of miles away. American pilots and European commandos would all have to be involved in restoring the shrines of Islam to the House of Saud. Soon, American lives would be lost, and America would find itself more isolated than ever in the increasingly hostile Muslim universe.The consequences of this forgotten crisis–which remains blotted out of history books in Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim lands–last to this day.In tackling Juhayman’s brazen attack on its holiest shrine, the Saudi government showed sickening arrogance, cruel incompetence, and bewildering disregard for the truth. The royal family’s image was sullied forever. Many Muslims in Saudi Arabia and beyond, including the young Osama Bin Laden, were so repulsed by the carnage in Mecca that their loyalty started to fracture. In following years, they drifted toward open opposition to the House of Saud and its American backers. The fiery ideology that inspired Juhayman’s men to murder and mayhem in Islam’s holy of holies mutated with time into increasingly more vicious strains, culminating in al Qaeda’s death cult.By a coincidence of global events, it is precisely this ideology that American policy makers–and the House of Saud–found right after the crisis in Mecca to be of great value on the Cold War battlefronts. Instead of being suppressed, Juhayman’s brutal brand of Islam was encouraged and nurtured as it metastasized across the planet since 1979. Today, hordes of his spiritual heirs are busy blowing up airplanes, tourist hotels, and commuter trains on four continents, self-satisfied smiles of true believers curling their lips.The significance of the Mecca uprising was missed at the time even by the most sharp-eyed observers. Too many other threats preoccupied the West. The seizure of the Grand Mosque–the first large-scale operation by an international jihadi movement in modern times–was shrugged off as a local incident, an anachronistic throwback to Arabia’s Bedouin past.

But with the benefit of hindsight, it is painfully clear: the countdown to September 11, to the terrorist bombings in London and Madrid, and to the grisly Islamist violence ravaging Afghanistan and Iraq all began on that warm November morning, in the shade of the Kaaba.