Friday, June 13, 2003

footprint of US military:

Thursday June 12 2003 00:00 IST

The US military's global footprint is growing


HONG KONG: The war in Iraq is over, so that means that the troops are coming home and the U.S. is reducing its presence - what military planners like to call its "footprint" in the region, right? Well, wrong, actually.

Contrary to much of the recent news coverage about Pentagon pronouncements on the U.S. seeking to reduce its presence in Saudi Arabia, the fact of the matter is that when one looks at the big picture, the U.S. has a huge military presence in the region. And it is not going anywhere.

Considering the rhetoric that has come out in the past month from the neo-conservative camp and administration officials about their unhappiness with countries such as Syria and Iran, the U.S. military ability to reach out and touch someone must be taken very seriously.

A report by the Pacific Life Research Centre, "Understanding the War On Terrorism": Preemptive Force - A Sequel" by Bob Aldridge details the bases that are now under the control of the US Central Command (CENTCOM).

Contrary to U.S. policy during the Cold War when the U.S. stationed hundreds of thousands of troops in Europe, the current Pentagon strategy is to have "long-term access" to bases, rather than a permanent presence.

Thus, forces can be shifted among numerous accessible points to meet various "threats", rather than have a full complement of troops at a few permanent locations.

Some bases are reasonably well known, due to their use in the war against Iraq. For example, in Qatar the army base at Camp As-Sayliyah served as CENTCOM's forward headquarters and command centre.

Similarly, al-Udeid Air Base serves as the headquarters for CENTAF, CENTCOM's air component. There is also a base for pre-positioned army equipment at Doha airport, dubbed Camp Snoopy. This equipment is officially known as War Reserve Materiel (WRM) and provides support to bare base systems, medical, munitions, fuels mobility support equipment, vehicles, rations, aerospace ground equipment, air base operability equipment and associated spares and other consumables at designated locations.

Kuwait sponsors four U.S. military bases - Camp Doha, Camp Arifjan, Ali al-Salem Air Base and Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base - and is also the headquarters for CENTCOM's army component. The port of Manama in Bahrain is headquarters for the US Navy's 5th Fleet and hosts the headquarters of CENTCOM's navy and marine corps leaders. The Naval Support Activity occupies 79 acres of land in the centre of downtown Manama. Also in Bahrain is Sheik Isa Air Base.

In Saudi Arabia the main U.S. Air Force control centre for air operations was moved from Prince Sultan Air Base to Qatar prior to the start of the war. It is unclear if another base, the Eskan Village Air Base, home for air force and other military people deployed to Riyadh Air Base, is available for U.S. use.

Oman allows the use of three bases by the U.S. military; the Masirah Air Base, the Thumrait Naval Air Base for anti-submarine patrol planes, and the U.S. Air Force use of Seeb International Airport, which is Oman's largest airport.

According to the Washington-D.C. based group Global Security, the transfer of Seeb International Airport to private sector management signalled the end of the airport's role as a base for the Royal Air Force of Oman.

As of early-2002, Oman's Air Force was in search of new facilities, and contractors were bidding for the contract to build one of the first of these air bases at al-Masanah (Masana), northwest of Muscat. Completion of the project, which was first proposed a decade ago, was expected within 18 months of a contract award.

Oman has worked with the U.S. Air Force to ensure the base is built to American standards and can be used by American warplanes without further upgrades. Oman has long been a strong supporter of a U.S. military presence in the Gulf. It signed an access agreement with Washington in 1981.

And in Iraq there are four bases to which the U.S. plans access: Baghdad International Airport, an airport at Tallil near Nasiriya in the south; the Bashur airfield in the northern Kurdish area, and a small airstrip in the western desert called H-1.

The Baghdad airport is an army base, Talil and Bashur are air force bases and the H-1 airstrip was a foothold for special forces for rapid conquest. Use of the Bashur airfield means that the U.S. will not have to rely on using Turkey's Incirlik air base

Some dozen bases in Central Asia have also been made available to U.S. forces since the war against Afghanistan. In Georgia, the Vaziani base will be the home for special forces instructors for a current mandate of two years, until May 2004.

Turkmenistan has given permission for flyover and refuelling of U.S. military planes. This would be particularly important in allowing U.S. aircraft based in Uzbekistan to reach Iran with munitions and special forces troops.

According to Global Security, in November 2001 Tajikistan agreed to allow the U.S. to evaluate three former Soviet airbases for potential use by US aircraft to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

The agreement was announced after a meeting in Dushanbe between U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov. The agreement followed an inspection of several airports in southern Tajikistan.

In Uzbekistan, 1,500 to 1,800 special forces troops can be stationed at a former Soviet base in Khanabad. During the war against Afghanistan about 1,000 U.S. troops worked at the facility handling tons of supplies for the war.

In Kazakhstan, U.S. military activities are shrouded in secrecy. But it is known that the government there allows military overflights, refuelling and landing rights in emergencies.

In Kyrgyzstan the base at Manas Airport near Bishek will eventually accommodate 3,000 troops and an unspecified number of aircraft. Manas has an 13,800-foot runway, built for Soviet bombers. There is room for four C-17 or C-5 cargo planes to park along the taxiway. The facility covers 37 acres.

And in Afghanistan there are five airfields that could be used by U.S. forces -- at Bagram, Kandahar, Khost, Lwara, Mazar-e-Sharif and Pul-i-Kandahar.

Also, sites outside the region are being considered as staging bases in order to deploy forces into the region. Consider that on June 3 Associated Press reported that U.S. troops may soon use Balkans bases for training sites and staging points for possible interventions in the Middle East as the Pentagon weighs withdrawing 15,000 soldiers from Germany.

Reportedly, the Pentagon wants to use big Romanian and Bulgarian training grounds in year-round programmes that would have up to 3,000 battle-ready U.S. soldiers at any time.

In Romania, the Americans are interested in the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, the Babadag training range and the Black Sea military port of Mangalia. In Bulgaria, talks are focusing on the use of the Sarafovo and Graf Ignatievo military airports and the Koren and Novo Selo training areas.

Varsha Bhonsle on multi-culturalism:

The perils of 'multiculturalism'

June 02, 2003

There's an interesting debate occurring in the US, accelerated by a Washington Times commentary by Cal Thomas, who posits that "When Muslims gain political power, the historical and contemporary record is not encouraging for people who hold democratic values and are of the 'Judeo-Christian' persuasion. If politicians succumb to pressure from Muslim activist groups and equate Islam with the religious and political heritage of this country, we will know that an important beachhead has been attained by our enemies. From their behavior in other parts of the world, one can safely predict they will use this beachhead to advance their cause."

"Beachhead" denotes an area on a hostile shore occupied to secure further landing of troops and supplies. In Quranic terms, "beachhead" would be a foothold in a land where the writ of the Sharia does not run -- Dar-ul Harb or 'land of war' -- all of which must be conquered and transformed into Dar-ul Islam, the domain of Islam.

A week after the article, the Associated Press reported that a centuries-old Episcopal church in Boston will receive a federal historic preservation grant, as part of a campaign by President Bush "to remove barriers that have prevented faith-based groups from being treated fairly in the public square." The new policy drew howls from Americans United for Separation of Church and State because "It's really a gross abuse of tax dollars to drop public funds into the collection plate of an active church." This, despite the church being the very place where two lanterns were hung to signal Paul Revere that the British were coming.

Are the two items related, you think? Hmm... I guess I'll have to do the spoon-feeding required for the rocket scientists of the message board: Yes, related; the link is "multiculturalism." Rather, the dangers inherent in that idiotic concept which only serves to divide a nation and add or aggravate communal strife.

Multiculturalism is the antithesis of nationalism; it highlights the differences between peoples while ignoring the similarities. Multiculturalism is not about ethnic/racial/religious diversity -- that which once made America into a "melting pot" of nations. Under the influence of pointy-headed intellectuals, America came to consist of many different "pots" of cultures, each separate, impenetrable, and isolated from the others. In a land of diversity, when a person of a majority community -- not necessarily in terms of religion -- is told that another's culture is very different from his and thus must be "protected" at all costs, the minorities are automatically regarded as "them." And when that "protection" impinges on the rights of the majority, the minorities come to be seen as the "enemy." This is simply human nature, not in any government's control. However, resentments simmer and, at a time of crisis, quickly turn into acts of violence. Which acts, of course, are controllable by the law of the land. But my question is: Why create a divisive ethos in the first place??

Nationalism, on the other hand, highlights the similarities between peoples while obscuring the differences. It seeks to "melt" everybody into one unit, which, as a whole, reveres the nation, even as single members of the unit sustain cultural differences -- on an individual basis. That "individual basis" is what true secularism is all about. Secularism exists when the State does not espouse a religion; lets its citizens follow their different faiths even while preventing any one from intruding on the others; and treats all religions equally -- regardless of the number of people following each religion. Meaning, whether the majority or the minority community, one rule applies to all. "Special-interest groups" does not make for national unity and never will -- only assimilation can. It's the reason why Hindus, even today, think of Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as basically Hindu. But the pinkos painted this as an evil designed to destroy those religions and managed to brainwash the Sikhs. Result: Hello, Khalistan...

Let's go back to Mr Thomas. His grouse is that Muslim advocacy groups, including CAIR and the American Muslim Council, are pushing for the elimination of references to "Judeo-Christian" when describing American heritage. CAIR and the American Muslim Alliance want "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" to replace that phrase "in all venues where we normally talk about Judeo-Christian values, starting with the media, academia, statements by politicians and comments made in churches, synagogues and other places." (But not 'mosque,' Mr Thomas notes.)

Point to ponder: Which American values can, even remotely, be called Islamic? Democracy? Freedom? Equality? Secularism? Gender equity? Freedom of thought? The right to free expression? The right to critique any holy cow? Does even one of these values exist in a single Islamic state...? Is even one of these values extended to all Muslim citizens of an Islamic state? Then, how can the constitution, the culture and the heritage of America be said to be influenced by Islam??? What is this need to introduce Islam in the heritage of a country which is no longer -- and hasn't been since a long, long time -- a nation of migrants?

A bigger point to ponder: What would be the fate of Hindus working in Saudi Arabia if they should advocate the replacement of the word "Islamic" with "Islamic-Hindu" in all references to the kingdom's heritage...?

Democracy, Secularism and Judeo-Christian values have met to bequeath certain rights to the utter Islamists of groups such as CAIR and AMA that enable them to make ludicrous demands -- and not be beheaded for it. It is these traditions that Islamists use as a foothold to organise themselves politically and, eventually, change the demography and the political climate of a land -- the existence of Pakistan being a prime example of that. The New York Times of February 23, 2002, reveals how CAIR began a nationwide voter-drive seeking to register more than 100,000 Muslim voters before the November elections, because "Muslim people feel disenfranchised. They feel they do not get the same political attention as other minorities." Yes, of course, that's how Mohammed Ali Jinnah, too, began... Good luck, America!

Such zeal in sectarian lobbying shouldn't come as a surprise to Hindus. For, according to Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi -- a Muslim scholar of British India whose commentaries on the Quran are widely respected -- "Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which Nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process... Islam requires the earth -- not just a portion, but the whole planet -- not because the sovereignty over the earth should be wrested from one Nation or several Nations and vested in one particular Nation, but because the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology..." (From a speech delivered on April 13, 1939, at the Town Hall in Lahore.)

It's as Raj writes: "...when the Muslim population reaches a critical mass: decimation." Or, Partition. Or, whatever it takes to fulfill the purpose of Islam. The more I observe and compare the demands of the Islamists of India to those of other countries, the more I'm convinced that it's only the proportion of "mass" that saves the non-Muslim majorities from civil war. For, no matter what the Islamists ask or do, the so-called Moderate Muslims remain as quiet as ever -- with the excuse that they have "no voice." Methinks, after Muslims reach a critical mass, these M&Ms simply give up even that excuse. I really can't see any other explanation for the continuing lack of debate amongst M&Ms over the questions that confound non-Muslims:

Why do Muslims insert Islam in all spheres of social and political debate even in countries where they are a minority?
Why do Muslims incorporate Islamic religious traditions in the public life of secular countries?
When will Muslims take a rational look at Quranic teachings and suppress those that demean other faith-based groups?
Why can't Muslims accept that there is such a thing as Islamic terrorism, and summarily condemn it?
Why do Muslims deny that there flourishes the idea of an Islamic world order, one which is attractive to almost all Muslims?
Why is it that people of other faiths are antagonised by the Muslim minority as a group?
Can everybody else be wrong, and only Muslims, right...?
What makes the job of Islamists easier is "multiculturalism" -- that which was invented and is pushed by Leftists. As Paul Roberts wrote in the Washington Times of November 16, 2001: "The political left endorses multiculturalism as an assault on US national identity. Libertarians endorse multiculturalism, because they favor anything that dissolves the state, and there's no better way to dissolve a state than to dissolve national identity." Some of the demands and assertions by the US' "multiculturalists" (including US Islamists, who themselves would never dream of ceding any rights to 'infidels' living under the Sharia) are astonishing. But more mind-boggling is the fact that most of the demands have been met:

President Bush had to change the name of the operation against terrorism from 'Infinite Justice' to 'Enduring Freedom' because, according to the mullahs, infinite justice can be rendered only by Allah.
Sultaana Freeman and Najat Tamim-Muhammad, both of Florida, are suing to keep their veils on for driver's license photographs. That is, they want to be issued an ID card that won't allow their identification (pretty convenient for female fidayeen, no?). CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper says, "To take it off would be the equivalent of some other woman being forced to remove her blouse." (Eh??)
Faced with persistent demands, NYC Schools Chancellor Harold Levy decreed that public schools must set aside a room for Muslim children to pray in during Ramzan. Christians cannot pray in school during Christmas; Jews can't during Hanukkah. No "liberal," not even the ACLU, protested against this merging of mosque with state.
"Liberals" and Islamists demanded that foreign terrorists, including Al Qaeda jihadis, should not go before a military tribunal. They should be given a lawyer, preferably in the mould of OJ Simpson's, and an open trial so that closely guarded secrets can be bared to the world.
A Muslim girl attending high school in Fort Worth, Tx, won the right to wear a hijab while playing soccer. High-school Muslim students in Williamsport, Penn, gained the right to take swimming instruction in private. A Muslim boy in Gainesville, Fl, was permitted to violate his school's dress code when his parents explained that untucked shirts were more modest. A Muslim woman of Kansas City, Missouri, was accepted as a medical student even though she refused to be palpated by male colleagues, disrupting the practice of having students learn by physical examination.
Muslims were in America before Columbus; Muslim navigators led Columbus to a little island in the Bahamas, a settlement of Islamic Mandinkas from Africa; Muslims from both Spain and West Africa sailed to America at least 5 centuries before Columbus... In October 2002, seminars explaining how Muslims discovered America were held in major cities and mosques all over the US.
Today, this last one seems like a pathetic dead-weight. But, how different is it from the theme that Lord Ram is a myth and the demolished structure wasn't built on temple land? Or, Lord Krishna is a myth and Mahabharat and Dwarka, mere fairy tales? A century from now, America could well see the progeny of CAIR declaring Muslim rights over California on the strength of the Muslims-discovered-America argument! And, pinko historians would support that...

What happens when such "multicultural" Islamic agitations occur repeatedly, at the cost of other religions? Obviously, a revolt from the other communities. The federal preservation grant to the Boston church is one; another is the case of the decorated spruce tree in the provincial assembly of Manitoba, Canada: Since 1990, the tree was officially called the "Multicultural tree." However, on December 15, 2001, Premier Gary Doer brought back the Christmas tree -- thereby reversing the trend of the legislature's shunning the words 'Christmas' and 'Jesus.' Some victory for the sake of the hijab, in'nit?

On an individual level, the 'Letters' sections of American newspapers reveal where Americans are moving; one example: "I would like to know how Muslim students got permission to pray during the Ramadan holiday when the US Supreme Court prohibits officially sponsored prayer in public schools... If all prayer is prohibited, then it should stand for everyone, with no exceptions." (The New York Post; November 17, 2001). Just like the Hindutva disgust over the denial of the UCC, in'nit? But most of all, the revolt is obvious from the fact that I, a person in Mumbai, knows minute details about Islamist demands in even Smalltown, USA: The anger is being openly vented. Not being a nation at all influenced by Gandhian values, America's Muslims better watch out for the backlash there.

Postscript: Dipweed writes, "While you took a swipe at the pinkos, let me educate you a bit: One of the protocols of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' is the Jewish support for Communism. On one hand you say the Commies hate the Jews, on the other hand the Jews are the founder members of Communism... Which one is true?"

Do even you understand your own question...? Since the 'Protocols' was a forgery, why would truth enter the picture? Since it was a forgery by Tsarists, what's the relevance of a choice between Jews and Commies?? Since Communism is a belief-system by itself, why wouldn't its converts attack the religion they dumped??? Gawwd... kahaan se tapakte hain...

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