MR Transcript: Kathy Kelly on US/NATO Imperialism

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KPFAMEDIA ROOTS — Earlier this week, Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints spoke with long-time activist Kathy Kelly about U.S./NATO Imperialism and Afghanistan:

“But what the United States wants is an agreement that U.S. troops can remain in Afghanistan until 2024 and beyond.  So, the idea of the troops being withdrawn in 2013 and 2014 is good for electoral strategies on the part of the Obama Administration, but it’s not reflective of the truth.”

The “U.S. [under Obama] wants roadways and bases to protect the poppy pipeline—the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India pipeline—and what [Democrat] Hillary Clinton refers to as the new Silk Road, conduits through which they can extract precious resources, natural gas, fossil fuels, out of Afghanistan and have control over resources that China may have designs on, possibly Russia.  And, of course, they want forward operating bases, in order to be a relevant threat to Iran, and to Russia and China.”

Messina

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FLASHPOINTS — “Today, on Flashpoints we continue our drumbeat coverage of the endless war in Afghanistan.  We’ll be joined by Kathy Kelly, of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, just back from the region.  Also, we’ll be joined by Iraq War Vet Scott Olsen, who was shot in the head by local Oakland police after the Oakland Mayor Jean Quan gave the go-ahead to crush Occupy Oakland.  Mickey Huff of Project Censored will join us to talk about the latest mainstream news nightmare.  And workers at the San Pablo California Casino demand better pay, better treatment, and better working conditions.  I’m Dennis Bernstein.  All this, straight ahead, on Flashpoints.  Stay tuned.”

Dennis Bernstein:  “You’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.  My name is Dennis Bernstein.  This is your daily investigative news magazine.

“Kathy Kelly says, “In the recent past Afghan civilians have been appalled and agitated by the news of U.S. soldiers that went on killing sprees, cutting off body parts of victims to save as war trophies.  They’ve been repulsed by photos of U.S. soldiers urinating on the corpses of Afghans who have been killed, the burning of the Quran; it goes on.  We’re gonna talk about this so-called latest rogue operation that left, I don’t know, Kathy Kelly, what’s the figure now?  How many kids?  How many people were murdered in this latest killing spree?”

Kathy Kelly (c. 1:58):  “Well, as I understand it’s nine children and then sixteen.  Although, I’ve heard an Al Jazeera report that it was 17 people who’ve been killed.  And eleven of them were all from one family, four from another family, and one man in his home.”

Dennis Bernstein:  “Nine children?  Were they sleeping?  This was the middle of the night, right?”

Kathy Kelly:  “In Panjwayi, there was a man; his name is Hakan Abdul Samad[sp?] and he had moved his large family away from Panjwayi because he wanted to be safer.  And while he was gone NATO forces obliterated his home, bombed it.  So, he built another home.  I imagine it was a pretty simple dwelling.  And the District governance encouraged all the people who had moved away to move back.  They said, American soldiers, U.S. soldiers will protect you.

“So, the irony is so, so sad and tragic.  They moved back and this was a forward operating base for special operations forces and the 38-year old soldier, who allegedly committed the crime, was a sniper who had been assigned to the base.  He wasn’t a special operations force soldier, but he was a sniper.  And, of course, as I think you’ve mentioned before, he had already done three tours of duty in Iraq and had suffered brain injury from an automobile accident.  And he was sent over to Afghanistan.”

Dennis Bernstein (c. 3:24) “We heard, and have been hearing ever since this latest slaughter, that this was a lone gun, that this has nothing to do with U.S. policy.  It sets back U.S. policy there to help local people get on their feet and fight the Taliban.  What’s wrong with that story?”

Kathy Kelly:  “Well, I think that there has been a steady stream of attacks against Afghan civilians, which were without provocation, without cause.  

“We can think about shepherds on a mountainside who were slaughtered on February 8th; eight teenagers were killed by a helicopter gunship.  

“We can think about three students in the Nemati family who had come back to celebrate Ramadan with their family; and, in a night raid, they were mistaken for insurgents.  They were killed, as they slept.  

“We can think about young Milof, who was sleeping on her cot in her courtyard.  And at a night raid, a grenade was thrown over a courtyard wall; and she was killed instantly.  

“We can talk about the March 1st, 2011 killing of youngsters on a mountainside in Kunar, who were collecting firewood and it goes on and on and on.  

“So, it’s very woeful. To act as if this is so exceptional and the United States would never tolerate the killing of innocent civilians.  And it’s a smoke screen and it’s a, well, it’s a lie.  And that’s the way to continue gaining the indifference on the part of the U.S. public that’s needed for the United States to continue its work there.  You have to convince people that, by and large, our wars are humanitarian wars, and that we don’t do bad things.  

“But you can go back to the Blackwater military contractors killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square in Baghdad.

“But you can go back to the Haditha Massacre, which is only just now being resolved.  And as it turns out only one person is blamed for that crime.  You can take a look at the killing spree that resulted in somebody going to jail for a long time, really.  But it was out of this same base, the Lewis-McChord base, that this soldier had been trained and sent over to Afghanistan—the base where the killing spree soldiers had been stationed.”  

Dennis Bernstein (c. 5:40):  “Now, there’s an election coming up.  And the president is suggesting to his advisors that his will, his desire is to get out of Afghanistan by 2014.  But there’s also this thing called the Strategic Protection Agreement that, well, tell us about that.”
    
Kathy Kelly:  “Yeah.  The Strategic Partnership Agreement is something that the United States wants signed before the NATO Summit that will be in Chicago May 20th, 21st.  And, so, they have pressured Hamid Karzai to sign this and he’s been holding out.  He’s said, No, I want to get a guarantee there won’t be anymore night raids.  And he wants a guarantee that all the prisons will be turned over to Afghan authorities.  

“But what the United States wants is an agreement that U.S. troops can remain in Afghanistan until 2024 and beyond.  So, the idea of the troops being withdrawn in 2013 and 2014 is good for electoral strategies on the part of the Obama Administration, but it’s not reflective of the truth.  The United States wants to have special operations forces combined with drone remote-controlled attack capacities. 

“And don’t think that it’s going to mean that the military budget will be less.  The military budget will still grow.  And the money spent in Afghanistan will continue into maintaining a presence, which the Taliban are simply—clear as a bell—they won’t accept.  And, so, the United States will perpetuate warfare.  And why?  The best reason I can discern from trying to understand the designs of the United States geopolitically and in their view of strategic national interest of the United States, it’s that the U.S. wants roadways and bases to protect the poppy pipeline—the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India pipeline—and what Hillary Clinton refers to as the new Silk Road, conduits through which they can extract precious resources, natural gas, fossil fuels, out of Afghanistan and have control over resources that China may have designs on, possibly Russia.  And, of course, they want forward operating bases, in order to be a relevant threat to Iran, and to Russia and China.”

Dennis Bernstein (c. 8:00):  “So, this is one more; this appears to be one more geopolitical slaughter in the name of the controlling of key resources and to make sure that the United States can maintain, or somehow restrain China.  That’s what it looks like to you?”

Kathy Kelly:  “That’s what it looks like to me.  And in World War II they often used the word quisling when a political leader was really subservient to the Nazis.  And I think that Karzai is in a very unenviable position of being a quisling to U.S. authorities.  I don’t think he wants to go along with everything that the United States is asking.  And it’s interesting. 

“And the parallel in the case of Iraq and after WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning and some of the revelations of what had happened in, for instance, the Haditha Massacre came out.  Then that actually gave the Iraqi Parliament more bargaining position with what they called the SOFA Agreement, the Status of Forces Agreement.  And the United States didn’t get everything that they wanted.  They didn’t get immunity for United States soldiers in Iraq that commit crimes.  So, it could be that the Afghan political leadership will have some kind of negotiation with the United States.  But, right now, this Strategic Partnership Agreement hasn’t even been presented to the Afghan Parliament.  It’s just something they keep pressuring on Hamid Karzai to sign.”

Dennis Bernstein (c. 9:37):  “Amazing.  You’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.  We don’t have a ton of time left, Kathy, but you have been coming and going.  You’ve been working with young people in Afghanistan.  You have a much better sense of what the people are feeling on the ground there.  And we didn’t see the kind of publicity like with the burning of the Quran.  But we also saw that there was a restriction and a warning to the so-called free press in Afghanistan not to, if you will, blow this out of proportion.  But what can you asses in terms of what’s happening on the ground, another slaughter, another massacre in the context of all these other atrocities.”

Kathy Kelly (c. 10:20):  “Well, Dennis, it’s so perceptive of you to pick up on that order from the Ministry of Information. That’s a very frightening group, the NDS, the National Directorate of Security.  And people who go up against that Ministry of Information find themselves jailed, tortured, killed.  So, you can bet that no one is going to want to rock the boat, if the Ministry of Information has put out a clear order for restraint.  It was very brave of the youngsters in Jalalabad to go out and demonstrate.

“The Afghani people volunteers also, I think, have been so brave.  What they have been doing is, they’ve been going in between various cities.  They’ve gone to Karan.  They’ve gone to Jalalabad.  And they meet with the young people who are their counterparts.  And they are trying to link together.  65% of Afghan’s population are under 18.  So, these are young people trying to say, we have a better stake for the future that would make it possible for us to live, and possibly thrive, in this country, if we’re not fighting against each other and picking up guns and going to war with each other.  

“Meanwhile, the United States has pressed to arm and train the Afghan local police groups, even though human rights watch put out a scathing report on what the Afghan local police have done in many locales.  So, we have our job here too.  We, I think, can clamour and insist that the United States not pressure for a Strategic Partnership Agreement.  I don’t think many people in the U.S. Congress or Senate ever heard of this Agreement.  But it should be something that is up for discussion in this country, as well.”

Dennis Bernstein (c. 12:06):  “And I just mention that in terms of the press and the coverage because NPR, and all the other mainstream press, made a big deal suggesting that, ‘See, there wasn’t as much coverage; people probably care a lot more about the Quran than they do about these nine shredded children.’

“And, really, it was troubling.  People did care about the Quran.  But this incident and we know it’s simmering under the surface, so thank you for pointing that out, for sharing that information about what’s happening in terms of the control of information there.  Not surprising.  

“Kathy Kelly, as always, it’s a pleasure to have you on with us.  It’s not a pleasure to be talking about these things, but the battle goes on.  You work with Voices for Creative Non-Violence.  How can people follow what you’re doing and what the group is doing?”  

Kathy Kelly (c. 13:03):  “Well, we welcome people to go to our website:  http://vcnv.org/   And we keep a, it’s a grim record that we do keep an Afghan atrocities update.  And, so, it’s good to stay aware of some of the sad and dreadful truths.  And, also, we’re very eager to support the Afghani’s peace volunteers and the long-distance planning they want to have—two million friends for peace join in a candle-lighting internationally that will be in solidarity with their commemoration on International Human Rights Day, December 10th.  So, plan for that.  We know that there’ll be lots of candles lit in your area.”    

Dennis Bernstein:  “Kathy Kelly, thanks for being with us on Flashpoints again.”

Kathy Kelly:  “Thanks, Dennis.  Bye, now.”

Rush Transcript by Felipe Messina for Media Roots and Flashpoints

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