Building innovation in India – MIT News Office

Building innovation in India – MIT News Office. Despite a global economic downturn that has rippled across India, the country remains one of the world’s fastest growing economies, second only to China. India is also the planet’s second most populous … Continue reading

Building innovation in India – MIT News Office.

Despite a global economic downturn that has rippled across India, the country remains one of the world’s fastest growing economies, second only to China. India is also the planet’s second most populous nation, expected to overtake China by 2030. 

 

In the first ever MIT-India Conference, held Friday, Sept. 23, at the MIT Media Lab, speakers from both MIT and India explored the challenges associated with India’s rapid expansion, including energy distribution, rural access to health care, and efforts to curb governmental corruption. One theme was prevalent throughout: India’s many hurdles also provide unprecedented opportunity for innovation.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, the conference’s keynote speaker and founder and chairman emeritus of Infosys Limited, said the time is right for those who choose to work in India.

“They can be part of an era where there’s so much confidence, there is so much hope, there is so much ambition,” Murthy said. “And there is so much that needs to be done.”

The conference featured entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, finance experts and government officials from India, as well as MIT faculty working on India-related projects. The one-day event sought to strengthen the relationship between MIT and India, which MIT Chancellor Eric L. Grimson characterized at the event as a “century-long friendship.”

In his opening remarks, Grimson noted that the friendship began in 1906 when Ishwar Das Varshnei became the first Indian to graduate from MIT. In 2010, his great-great-grandsons, twins Kush and Lav, followed in his footsteps, earning PhDs in electrical engineering and computer science. Today, more than 270 students of Indian descent attend MIT; Grimson cited the Institute’s many India-related projects — fifteen of which were featured in a Technology Showcase during the conference — as a strong bridge between the Institute and India.

“If MIT wants to stay on the forefront of technology, it has to maintain ties with India,” Grimson said.

The conference got underway with a panel discussion on energy and the environment. Panelists noted that as India’s population continues to expand, so too will its energy demands.

E.A.S. Sarma, former secretary of economic affairs in India, cautioned that the country “can’t go in a wanton manner for megawatts.” Sarma, now a social activist working to protect rural communities from pollution created by local powerplants, insists that communities should have a say when it comes to building new plants.

“If you bring people into discussions from the start, they may help develop benign processes,” Sarma said.

However, Robert Stoner, associate director of the MIT Energy Initiative, pointed out that above and beyond meeting the energy needs of India’s projected population growth, nearly 400 million current citizens already lack access to electricity.

While panelists discussed the potential contributions of solar, natural gas and nuclear energy, the overall consensus was that it would take a combination of approaches to solve India’s energy problem. And in many cases, those solutions will have to be extremely affordable.

“There’s opportunity for low-cost innovation in lots of areas,” Stoner said.

Frugal innovation

Venkatesh Narayanamurti, former dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, pointed to Indians’ recent widespread adoption of clean-burning cookstoves as an example of affordable “reverse innovation.” The low-tech cookstoves have reduced the indoor air pollution associated with traditional biomass-fueled stoves.

Sanjay Bhatnagar, CEO of WaterHealth International, spoke of the unprecedented room for entrepreneurship in all facets of the Indian economy. He has built a decentralized system for water purification that provides affordable, accessible and clean water to some of the most remote areas of India. Bhatnagar urged budding entrepreneurs to think of scalable ideas, warning against “jugar,” an Indian term for a hasty, ill-conceived business venture.

Mohanjit Jolly, a venture capitalist and partner at DFJ India, agreed with Bhatnagar, saying the country needs “more curb-jumping innovation.” However, he added that innovations that truly make an impact in India face a significant hurdle: “How do you get to the masses, and also make a profit?”

Still, Jolly is optimistic about the future of business in India. “There’s a new crop of social investors,” he said. “We see a country being built, and blossoming.”

Pankaj Vaish, managing director and head of markets for Citi South Asia, echoed Jolly’s observations, noting a pervasive scene in India’s largest cities: billboards plastered not with pictures of Bollywood starlets, but with ads for stocks and other investments.

Health, but at what cost?

Panelists noted that much of India’s health care is provided on an out-of-pocket basis, with very little spent on preventive care. Kenneth Cahill, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, observed that India spends less than 1 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. While his firm is working with India’s government to improve funding for health care, Cahill says there’s ample room for the private sector to get involved in the industry. Ashwin Naik, CEO of Vaatsalya Healthcare, agreed that preventive care is often shortchanged, stressing that Indian hospitals should reach out to rural, poor communities to educate people about it.

Telemedicine may be one way to reach remote populations; Jonathan Jackson, CEO of Dimagi, is working with Indian communities to provide health care options for low-literacy individuals. One solution: an interactive voice response system that helps a patient manage his or her care. Jackson is currently testing the system and gauging demand for the technology, but says the effort has made him recognize a huge need to address literacy in the country.

Naik added that health care should start early, in primary schools, where students can first learn about preventive care, then go home and educate their families.

“It’s about behavior, and it’s about change,” Naik said. “And it has to start in the schools.”

Cracking corruption

Throughout the conference, speakers remarked on the current transformation underway in India, especially in governmental transparency. During a panel on governance, participants observed a new generation of citizens emerging in the country; Baijayant “Jay” Panda, a member of the Indian Parliament, remarked that the current generation grew up “never having to take a bribe for a new phone or a scooter. This generation has less tolerance for corruption.”

Panda cited the recent anti-corruption movement, led by activist Anna Hazare, as “what broke the camel’s back.” The movement has led to anti-corruption laws being passed in both houses of parliament.

Still, there is more to do to clean up the country’s long history of corruption, and Vini Mahajan, joint secretary to India’s prime minister, said the country needs to employ more judges, police and civil servants. “There is too much discretion, and too little reform,” Mahajan said.

Making a mark

Looking forward, the conference’s keynote speakers, Murthy and Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks Inc., addressed audience members, many of them MIT students, with ideas on how to make a mark in India’s complex, dynamic culture.

Deshpande counseled students against taking a “pre-packaged” view of India, urging them instead to go there for a year and “get the local flavor” before starting a venture. “Ideas change, and you need to be open to change,” he said.

Anand Dass, an MBA candidate at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a student organizer of the conference, added that he sees India as a promising destination for young entrepreneurs.

“There’s just pure excitement,” Dass says, “and the opportunity to do something — be it health care, finance, entrepreneurship — there’s massive opportunity.”

Baylor policies

Campus Security Report and other Student Life Annual Notifications In compliance with federal law, the following is sent annually to all students, faculty, and staff. This notice contains information that the University is legally required to convey to you; you are … Continue reading

Campus Security Report

and other

Student Life Annual Notifications

In compliance with federal law, the following is sent annually to all students, faculty, and staff. This notice contains information that the University is legally required to convey to you; you are strongly encouraged to read it. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

The following matters are included:

  1. Baylor University Annual Campus Security Report
  2. Higher Education Opportunity Act & Required Disclosures
  3. Sex Discrimination, Harassment, and Assault:  Baylor University Title IX Coordinator
  4. Student Rights Related to Educational Records
  5. Drug Free School and Communities Act
  6. Right to Vote
  7. Student Right to Know Law
  8. Equity in Athletics
  9. Summary of Baylor Policy, Information, and Penalties for Copyright Infringement
  10. Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
  11. Ethics Reporting

Baylor University rules, regulations, and policies applicable to students are listed in the Student Policies and Procedures electronic publication on the Baylor Web site. Since the Student Policies and Procedures may be revised semester to semester, it is the responsibility of the student to view revisions online or to obtain revisions from Judicial Affairs.

1.  Baylor University Annual Campus Security Report

Pursuant to federal law, all currently enrolled students, campus employees, and all prospective students and prospective employees are entitled to request and receive a copy of the Baylor University Annual Campus Security Report. The report contains crime statistics about certain specified crimes/incidents that have been reported to Campus Security Authorities over the past three years and that have occurred either on campus, in off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by the University, or on public property adjacent to campus.

Policies and practices pertaining to campus security, crime reporting, alcohol and drugs, victim’s assistance programs, student discipline, campus resources, community safety alerts, crime prevention, and access to campus facilities/properties as well as personal safety tips are contained in this report. This annual document encourages the reporting of all crimes and tells how and to whom to report crimes. These statistics are updated by October 1 of each year,

Copies of this report may be obtained in person from the Baylor University Police Department or at Baylor’s Police Department Web site.

To report a crime, contact the Baylor Police Department at (254) 710-2222 or by using the emergency call boxes located on campus and in the parking garages.  In addition, you may report a crime to the following University officials:

1.   Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs                             (254) 710-1715   Clifton Robinson Tower

2.   Director, Counseling Services                                     (254) 710-2467   McLane Student Life Center

3.   Director, Health Services                                            (254) 710-1010   McLane Student Life Center

4.   Associate Vice President for Student Life                    (254) 710-1314   McLane Student Life Center

5.   Director, Campus Living and Learning                          (254) 710-3642   Penland Residence Hall

6.   Director, Student Activities                                          (254) 710-2371   Bill Daniel Student Center

7.   Associate Vice President for Human Resources           (254) 710-8562   Clifton Robinson Tower

8.   Director of Athletics                                                    (254) 710-1222   Simpson Athletic Center

2. Higher Education Opportunity Act & Required Disclosures

In August of 2008, Congress enacted the Higher Education Opportunity Act (the “Act”) to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. Several of the Act’s provisions require the University to make specific information available to students and the public. These required disclosures can be found at the following link:  http://www.baylor.edu/heoa/.

3. Sex Discrimination, Harassment, and Assault: Baylor University Title IX Coordinator

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. It reads:  “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Baylor University’s Title IX Coordinator is:

John Whelan

Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Robinson Tower, Suite 200

One Bear Place # 97053

Waco, TX  76798

(254) 710-8562

john_whelan@baylor.edu

If you have a complaint against a Baylor student, visitor, or staff or faculty member for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, or sexual assault, you should contact the Title IX Coordinator. Victims of sexual assault should also consider contacting the Baylor Police Department at (254) 710-2222

 

4. Student Rights Related to Educational Records 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. Additional information regarding students’ rights under FERPA may be found in Baylor University’s Student Policies and Procedures under the section entitled Student Records. These rights include:

a.   The right to inspect and review the student’s educational records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Any student who desires to review his or her student record in a University office may make a written request to the University custodian of the record.

b.   The right to request the amendment of the student’s educational record that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights.  Any student who desires amendment of his or her record shall follow the procedure set forth below:

1)       A student shall submit to the custodian of the record a written request asking that the record be amended if the student has reason to believe that the educational record contains information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights of privacy.

2)   The custodian of the record shall decide whether to amend the record as requested within a reasonable time after receiving the request.

3)   If the custodian decides not to amend the record, the student shall be informed of his or her right to a hearing regarding the amending of the record.  In cases regarding academic records, a request for a hearing should be submitted in writing to the Provost.  For all other educational records, a request for a hearing should be submitted in writing to the Vice President for Student Life.

4)   If a hearing is requested, the University shall follow the procedure set forth below:

a.       A hearing shall be held within a reasonable time after the request has been received.

b.   The student shall be given notice of the date, time, and place, reasonably in advance of the hearing.

c.   The Provost or Vice President for Student Life will determine the school official who will conduct the hearing; the school official must be an official of the institution who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.

d.   The student may present relevant evidence and may be assisted by individuals of their choice at the hearing.

e.   The official in charge of the hearing shall make his or her decision in writing within a reasonable period of time after the hearing.

f.    The decision must be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing and must include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision.

NOTE: The above procedure shall not be available to challenge the validity of a grade given by a professor or any other decision of a University professor or official but only whether the recording of such grade or decision is accurate and complete.

c.   Students have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is defined as a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position (including the Baylor Police Department and Health Center staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or service provider); a person serving on the Board of Regents; or a person assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her responsibilities to Baylor University.

d.   The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirement of FERPA.  The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC  20202-4605

5. Drug Free Schools and Communities Act

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act requires that Baylor notify each student and employee annually of its programs to prevent the illicit use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol by students and employees. Baylor University has a number of programs to combat the misuse and abuse of alcohol and other chemical substances. Information relating to these programs is available online.

6. Right to Vote

The 1998 Higher Education Act requires Baylor to advise and assist students in obtaining voter registration forms. The Texas Secretary of State offers a Web site with an online voter registration form which may be completed online, printed out, and mailed to the voter registration official in the county in which you reside. Students who wish to register to vote in other states or who are already registered to vote in other states and wish to obtain an absentee ballot should contact the Secretary of State for their home state. Students in need of additional assistance may wish to contact theOffice of Governmental Relations or Judicial Affairs.

7. The Student Right to Know Law

This law requires that Baylor University disclose graduation rates for the student body. A copy of the most recent report is available on Baylor’s Institutional Research and Testing Web site.

8. Equity in Athletics

By October 1 of each year, each coeducational institution of higher education that participates in any federal student aid program and has an intercollegiate athletic program must prepare an Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) report and make it available upon request to students, potential students, and the public. Baylor University’s report may be found on Baylor’s Athletics Web site.Printed copies of the report may also be obtained from the Baylor University Athletic Director (254) 710-1222.

9. Summary of Baylor Policy, Information, and Penalties for Copyright Infringement

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) all network providers including Baylor University have a requirement to assist in copyright enforcement.  As such, Baylor University takes remediation action of disconnecting computers from the network for two weeks for a first time copyright infringement, and disconnection and referral to student judicial services of a subsequent copyright infringement.  The Information Technology Policy BU-PP-025 states:

Software and other materials that are protected by copyright, patent, trade secret, or another form of legal protection (“protected materials”) may not be copied, altered, transmitted, or stored using Baylor-owned or operated technology systems, except as permitted by law or by the contract, license agreement, or express written consent of the owner of the protected materials. The use of software on a local area network or on multiple computers must be in accordance with the software license agreement.

 

Baylor University encourages students to educate themselves on copyright law as well as seek legal alternatives to peer-to-peer file sharing.  A good reference list of legal alternatives is maintained by Cornell University at http://www.cit.cornell.edu/policies/copyright/index.cfm

Baylor provides information and a number of resources at http://www.baylor.edu/copyright/student to help students understand and comply with federal copyright.

10. Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws 

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ’s at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

Credit: Department of Education

11. Ethics Reporting

Baylor University has selected EthicsPoint to provide individuals with simple, risk-free ways to anonymously and confidentially report activities that may involve criminal, unethical, or otherwise inappropriate behavior in violation of Baylor University’s policies. You may file a report on the Baylor University Web site at https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=6771 or by telephone through EthicsPoint by dialing toll-free (866) 384-4277. Baylor University guarantees that reports submitted via EthicsPoint will be handled promptly and discreetly. No retaliatory action will be taken against anyone for reporting or inquiring in good faith about potential breaches of Baylor University’s policies or for seeking guidance on how to handle suspected breaches.

Fermilab Tevatron’s last day of operation after running for 28 years

today is the Fermilab Tevatron’s last day of operation after running for 28 years.  The CDF and D0 experiments are taking our last bit of data right now before the accelerator is turned off for good at about 2pm. Some … Continue reading

today is the Fermilab Tevatron’s last day of operation after running for 28 years.  The CDF and D0 experiments are taking our last bit of data right now before the accelerator is turned off for good at about 2pm.

Some events this afternoon are being streamed on the internet (starting 1:45 pm) if you are interested:  http://www-visualmedia.fnal.gov/live/110930Tev.htm

You can also see http://www.fnal.gov/pub/tevatron/index.html for more information about the Tevatron.  If you visit that page, and then click on “For the Media” on the left, you can scroll down and see photos of the CDF Control Room featuring our four Baylor Ph.D. students on CDF — Martin Frank (in the back), Zhenbin Wu, Karen Bland, and Sam Hewamanage (in the front).

Best wishes,
Jay Dittmann

el ejemplo de Italia

El mal de México es endémico: el problema es la falta de instituciones legales, fuertes, respaldadas por la confianza del pueblo.

¿Qué solución existe bajo esas circumstancias? Buscaglia menciona el ejemplo de Italia, que poco a poco a recuper…

El mal de México es endémico: el problema es la falta de instituciones legales, fuertes, respaldadas por la confianza del pueblo.

¿Qué solución existe bajo esas circumstancias? Buscaglia menciona el ejemplo de Italia, que poco a poco a recuperado el control del país que estaba prácticamente en manos de la Mafia. ¿Cómo? Creando instituciones fuertes políticas, sociales y judiciales que están


Is the world too big to fail?

Noam Chomsky explains how the global order of power has been created and describes the mechanisms behind its continuity. The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces – … Continue reading

Noam Chomsky explains how the global order of power has been created and describes the mechanisms behind its continuity.

The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces – coinciding, fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other US cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack.

Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called “the most strategically important area in the world” – “a stupendous source of strategic power” and “probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment,” in the words of the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the US intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day.

Despite all the changes since, there is every reason to suppose that today’s policy-makers basically adhere to the judgment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s influential advisor A.A. Berle that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield “substantial control of the world.” And correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II, and that has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order since that day.

‘Grand Area’

NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West.

– Jaap De Hoop, former NATO Secretary-General

From the outset of the war in 1939, Washington anticipated that it would end with the US in a position of overwhelming power. High-level State Department officials and foreign policy specialists met through the wartime years to lay out plans for the postwar world. They delineated a “Grand Area” that the US was to dominate, including the Western hemisphere, the Far East, and the former British empire, with its Middle East energy resources. As Russia began to grind down Nazi armies after Stalingrad, Grand Area goals extended to as much of Eurasia as possible, at least its economic core in Western Europe. Within the Grand Area, the US would maintain “unquestioned power,” with “military and economic supremacy,” while ensuring the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. The careful wartime plans were soon implemented.

It was always recognised that Europe might choose to follow an independent course. NATO was partially intended to counter this threat. As soon as the official pretext for NATO dissolved in 1989, NATO was expanded to the East in violation of verbal pledges to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It has since become a US-run intervention force, with far-ranging scope, spelled out by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who informed a NATO conference that “NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West,” and more generally to protect sea routes used by tankers and other “crucial infrastructure” of the energy system.

Grand Area doctrines clearly license military intervention at will. That conclusion was articulated clearly by the Clinton administration, which declared that the US has the right to use military force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources,” and must maintain huge military forces “forward deployed” in Europe and Asia “in order to shape people’s opinions about us” and “to shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security.”

The same principles governed the invasion of Iraq. As the US failure to impose its will in Iraq was becoming unmistakable, the actual goals of the invasion could no longer be concealed behind pretty rhetoric. In November 2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that US forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to privilege American investors. Two months later, President Bush informed Congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent stationing of US Armed Forces in Iraq or “United States control of the oil resources of Iraq” – demands that the US had to abandon shortly after in the face of Iraqi resistance.

In Tunisia and Egypt, the recent popular uprisings have won impressive victories, but as the Carnegie Endowment reported, while names have changed, the regimes remain: “A change in ruling elites and system of governance is still a distant goal.” The report discusses internal barriers to democracy, but ignores the external ones, which as always are significant.

The US and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion conducted by US polling agencies. Though barely reported, they are certainly known to planners. They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the US and Israel as the major threats they face: the US is so regarded by 90 per cent of Egyptians, in the region generally by over 75 per cent. Some Arabs regard Iran as a threat: 10 per cent. Opposition to US policy is so strong that a majority believes that security would be improved if Iran had nuclear weapons – in Egypt, 80 per cent. Other figures are similar. If public opinion were to influence policy, the US not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance.

The invisible hand of power

Support for democracy is the province of ideologists and propagandists. In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm. The evidence is overwhelming that democracy is supported insofar as it contributes to social and economic objectives, a conclusion reluctantly conceded by the more serious scholarship.

Elite contempt for democracy was revealed dramatically in the reaction to the WikiLeaks exposures. Those that received most attention, with euphoric commentary, were cables reporting that Arabs support the US stand on Iran. The reference was to the ruling dictators. The attitudes of the public were unmentioned. The guiding principle was articulated clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high official of the Jordanian government: “There is nothing wrong, everything is under control.” In short, if the dictators support us, what else could matter?

The Muasher doctrine is rational and venerable. To mention just one case that is highly relevant today, in internal discussion in 1958, president Eisenhower expressed concern about “the campaign of hatred” against us in the Arab world, not by governments, but by the people. The National Security Council (NSC) explained that there is a perception in the Arab world that the US supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and development so as to ensure control over the resources of the region. Furthermore, the perception is basically accurate, the NSC concluded, and that is what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher doctrine. Pentagon studies conducted after 9/11 confirmed that the same holds today.

It is normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can, and for victims to take it seriously. Perhaps a few brief observations on this important matter may be useful. Today is not the first occasion when Egypt and the US are facing similar problems, and moving in opposite directions. That was also true in the early nineteenth century.

Economic historians have argued that Egypt was well-placed to undertake rapid economic development at the same time that the US was. Both had rich agriculture, including cotton, the fuel of the early industrial revolution – though unlike Egypt, the US had to develop cotton production and a work force by conquest, extermination, and slavery, with consequences that are evident right now in the reservations for the survivors and the prisons that have rapidly expanded since the Reagan years to house the superfluous population left by deindustrialisation.

One fundamental difference was that the US had gained independence and was therefore free to ignore the prescriptions of economic theory, delivered at the time by Adam Smith in terms rather like those preached to developing societies today. Smith urged the liberated colonies to produce primary products for export and to import superior British manufactures, and certainly not to attempt to monopolise crucial goods, particularly cotton. Any other path, Smith warned, “would retard instead of accelerating the further increase in the value of their annual produce, and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country towards real wealth and greatness.”

Having gained their independence, the colonies were free to ignore his advice and to follow England’s course of independent state-guided development, with high tariffs to protect industry from British exports, first textiles, later steel and others, and to adopt numerous other devices to accelerate industrial development. The independent Republic also sought to gain a monopoly of cotton so as to “place all other nations at our feet,” particularly the British enemy, as the Jacksonian presidents announced when conquering Texas and half of Mexico.

For Egypt, a comparable course was barred by British power. Lord Palmerston declared that “no ideas of fairness [toward Egypt] ought to stand in the way of such great and paramount interests” of Britain as preserving its economic and political hegemony, expressing his “hate” for the “ignorant barbarian” Muhammed Ali who dared to seek an independent course, and deploying Britain’s fleet and financial power to terminate Egypt’s quest for independence and economic development.

After World War II, when the US displaced Britain as global hegemon, Washington adopted the same stand, making it clear that the US would provide no aid to Egypt unless it adhered to the standard rules for the weak – which the US continued to violate, imposing high tariffs to bar Egyptian cotton and causing a debilitating dollar shortage. The usual interpretation of market principles.

It is small wonder that the “campaign of hatred” against the US that concerned Eisenhower was based on the recognition that the US supports dictators and blocks democracy and development, as do its allies.

In Adam Smith’s defence, it should be added that he recognised what would happen if Britain followed the rules of sound economics, now called “neoliberalism.” He warned that if British manufacturers, merchants, and investors turned abroad, they might profit but England would suffer. But he felt that they would be guided by a home bias, so as if by an invisible hand England would be spared the ravages of economic rationality.

The passage is hard to miss. It is the one occurrence of the famous phrase “invisible hand” in The Wealth of Nations. The other leading founder of classical economics, David Ricardo, drew similar conclusions, hoping that home bias would lead men of property to “be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations,” feelings that, he added, “I should be sorry to see weakened.” Their predictions aside, the instincts of the classical economists were sound.

The Iranian and Chinese ‘threats’

The democracy uprising in the Arab world is sometimes compared to Eastern Europe in 1989, but on dubious grounds. In 1989, the democracy uprising was tolerated by the Russians, and supported by western power in accord with standard doctrine: it plainly conformed to economic and strategic objectives, and was therefore a noble achievement, greatly honoured, unlike the struggles at the same time “to defend the people’s fundamental human rights” in Central America, in the words of the assassinated Archbishop of El Salvador, one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the military forces armed and trained by Washington. There was no Gorbachev in the West throughout these horrendous years, and there is none today. And Western power remains hostile to democracy in the Arab world for good reasons.

Grand Area doctrines continue to apply to contemporary crises and confrontations. In Western policy-making circles and political commentary the Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world order and hence must be the primary focus of US foreign policy, with Europe trailing along politely.

Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy

– Martin van Creveld, Israeli military historian

What exactly is the Iranian threat? An authoritative answer is provided by the Pentagon and US intelligence. Reporting on global security last year, they make it clear that the threat is not military. Iran’s military spending is “relatively low compared to the rest of the region,” they conclude. Its military doctrine is strictly “defensive, designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.” Iran has only “a limited capability to project force beyond its borders.” With regard to the nuclear option, “Iran’s nuclear programme and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.” All quotes.

The brutal clerical regime is doubtless a threat to its own people, though it hardly outranks US allies in that regard. But the threat lies elsewhere, and is ominous indeed. One element is Iran’s potential deterrent capacity, an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that might interfere with US freedom of action in the region. It is glaringly obvious why Iran would seek a deterrent capacity; a look at the military bases and nuclear forces in the region suffices to explain.

Seven years ago, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld wrote that “The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy,” particularly when they are under constant threat of attack in violation of the UN Charter. Whether they are doing so remains an open question, but perhaps so.

But Iran’s threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its influence in neighbouring countries, the Pentagon and US intelligence emphasise, and in this way to “destabilise” the region (in the technical terms of foreign policy discourse). The US invasion and military occupation of Iran’s neighbours is “stabilisation.” Iran’s efforts to extend its influence to them are “destabilisation,” hence plainly illegitimate.

Such usage is routine. Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James Chace was properly using the term “stability” in its technical sense when he explained that in order to achieve “stability” in Chile it was necessary to “destabilise” the country (by overthrowing the elected government of Salvador Allende and installing the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet). Other concerns about Iran are equally interesting to explore, but perhaps this is enough to reveal the guiding principles and their status in imperial culture. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s planners emphasised at the dawn of the contemporary world system, the US cannot tolerate “any exercise of sovereignty” that interferes with its global designs.

The US and Europe are united in punishing Iran for its threat to stability, but it is useful to recall how isolated they are. The nonaligned countries have vigorously supported Iran’s right to enrich uranium. In the region, Arab public opinion even strongly favours Iranian nuclear weapons. The major regional power, Turkey, voted against the latest US-initiated sanctions motion in the Security Council, along with Brazil, the most admired country of the South. Their disobedience led to sharp censure, not for the first time: Turkey had been bitterly condemned in 2003 when the government followed the will of 95 per cent of the population and refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq, thus demonstrating its weak grasp of democracy, western-style.

After its Security Council misdeed last year, Turkey was warned by Obama’s top diplomat on European affairs, Philip Gordon, that it must “demonstrate its commitment to partnership with the West.” A scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations asked, “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?” – following orders like good democrats. Brazil’s Lula was admonished in a New York Times headline that his effort with Turkey to provide a solution to the uranium enrichment issue outside of the framework of US power was a “Spot on Brazilian Leader’s Legacy.” In brief, do what we say, or else.

An interesting sidelight, effectively suppressed, is that the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal was approved in advance by Obama, presumably on the assumption that it would fail, providing an ideological weapon against Iran. When it succeeded, the approval turned to censure, and Washington rammed through a Security Council resolution so weak that China readily signed – and is now chastised for living up to the letter of the resolution but not Washington’s unilateral directives – in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, for example.

While the US can tolerate Turkish disobedience, though with dismay, China is harder to ignore. The press warns that “China’s investors and traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in Europe, pull out,” and in particular, is expanding its dominant role in Iran’s energy industries. Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation. The State Department warned China that if it wants to be accepted in the international community – a technical term referring to the US and whoever happens to agree with it – then it must not “skirt and evade international responsibilities, [which] are clear”: namely, follow US orders. China is unlikely to be impressed.

There is also much concern about the growing Chinese military threat. A recent Pentagon study warned that China’s military budget is approaching “one-fifth of what the Pentagon spent to operate and carry out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” a fraction of the US military budget, of course. China’s expansion of military forces might “deny the ability of American warships to operate in international waters off its coast,” the New York Times added.

Washington has converted the island into a major military base in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa.

Off the coast of China, that is; it has yet to be proposed that the US should eliminate military forces that deny the Caribbean to Chinese warships. China’s lack of understanding of rules of international civility is illustrated further by its objections to plans for the advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington to join naval exercises a few miles off China’s coast, with alleged capacity to strike Beijing.

In contrast, the West understands that such US operations are all undertaken to defend stability and its own security. The liberal New Republic expresses its concern that “China sent ten warships through international waters just off the Japanese island of Okinawa.” That is indeed a provocation – unlike the fact, unmentioned, that Washington has converted the island into a major military base in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa. That is not a provocation, on the standard principle that we own the world.

Deep-seated imperial doctrine aside, there is good reason for China’s neighbours to be concerned about its growing military and commercial power. And though Arab opinion supports an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, we certainly should not do so. The foreign policy literature is full of proposals as to how to counter the threat. One obvious way is rarely discussed: work to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the region. The issue arose (again) at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference at United Nations headquarters last May. Egypt, as chair of the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for negotiations on a Middle East NWFZ, as had been agreed by the West, including the US, at the 1995 review conference on the NPT.

International support is so overwhelming that Obama formally agreed. It is a fine idea, Washington informed the conference, but not now. Furthermore, the US made clear that Israel must be exempted: no proposal can call for Israel’s nuclear programme to be placed under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency or for the release of information about “Israeli nuclear facilities and activities.” So much for this method of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.

Privatising the planet

While Grand Area doctrine still prevails, the capacity to implement it has declined. The peak of US power was after World War II, when it had literally half the world’s wealth. But that naturally declined, as other industrial economies recovered from the devastation of the war and decolonisation took its agonising course. By the early 1970s, the US share of global wealth had declined to about 25 per cent, and the industrial world had become tripolar: North America, Europe, and East Asia (then Japan-based).

There was also a sharp change in the US economy in the 1970s, towards financialisation and export of production. A variety of factors converged to create a vicious cycle of radical concentration of wealth, primarily in the top fraction of 1 per cent of the population – mostly CEOs, hedge-fund managers, and the like. That leads to the concentration of political power, hence state policies to increase economic concentration: fiscal policies, rules of corporate governance, deregulation, and much more. Meanwhile the costs of electoral campaigns skyrocketed, driving the parties into the pockets of concentrated capital, increasingly financial: the Republicans reflexively, the Democrats – by now what used to be moderate Republicans – not far behind.

Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry. After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2bn, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is angry and frustrated, but as long as the Muasher principle prevails, that doesn’t matter.

While wealth and power have narrowly concentrated, for most of the population real incomes have stagnated and people have been getting by with increased work hours, debt, and asset inflation, regularly destroyed by the financial crises that began as the regulatory apparatus was dismantled starting in the 1980s.

None of this is problematic for the very wealthy, who benefit from a government insurance policy called “too big to fail.” The banks and investment firms can make risky transactions, with rich rewards, and when the system inevitably crashes, they can run to the nanny state for a taxpayer bailout, clutching their copies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

That has been the regular process since the Reagan years, each crisis more extreme than the last – for the public population, that is. Right now, real unemployment is at Depression levels for much of the population, while Goldman Sachs, one of the main architects of the current crisis, is richer than ever. It has just quietly announced $17.5bn in compensation for last year, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein receiving a $12.6m bonus while his base salary more than triples.

It wouldn’t do to focus attention on such facts as these. Accordingly, propaganda must seek to blame others, in the past few months, public sector workers, their fat salaries, exorbitant pensions, and so on: all fantasy, on the model of Reaganite imagery of black mothers being driven in their limousines to pick up welfare checks – and other models that need not be mentioned. We all must tighten our belts; almost all, that is.

Teachers are a particularly good target, as part of the deliberate effort to destroy the public education system from kindergarten through the universities by privatisation – again, good for the wealthy, but a disaster for the population, as well as the long-term health of the economy, but that is one of the externalities that is put to the side insofar as market principles prevail.

Another fine target, always, is immigrants. That has been true throughout US history, even more so at times of economic crisis, exacerbated now by a sense that our country is being taken away from us: the white population will soon become a minority. One can understand the anger of aggrieved individuals, but the cruelty of the policy is shocking.

Targeting immigrants

Who are the immigrants targeted? In Eastern Massachusetts, where I live, many are Mayans fleeing genocide in the Guatemalan highlands carried out by Reagan’s favourite killers. Others are Mexican victims of Clinton’s NAFTA, one of those rare government agreements that managed to harm working people in all three of the participating countries. As NAFTA was rammed through Congress over popular objection in 1994, Clinton also initiated the militarisation of the US-Mexican border, previously fairly open. It was understood that Mexican campesinos cannot compete with highly subsidised US agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses would not survive competition with US multinationals, which must be granted “national treatment” under the mislabeled free trade agreements, a privilege granted only to corporate persons, not those of flesh and blood. Not surprisingly, these measures led to a flood of desperate refugees, and to rising anti-immigrant hysteria by the victims of state-corporate policies at home.

Much the same appears to be happening in Europe, where racism is probably more rampant than in the US One can only watch with wonder as Italy complains about the flow of refugees from Libya, the scene of the first post-World War I genocide, in the now-liberated East, at the hands of Italy’s Fascist government. Or when France, still today the main protector of the brutal dictatorships in its former colonies, manages to overlook its hideous atrocities in Africa, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy warns grimly of the “flood of immigrants” and Marine Le Pen objects that he is doing nothing to prevent it. I need not mention Belgium, which may win the prize for what Adam Smith called “the savage injustice of the Europeans.”

The rise of neo-fascist parties in much of Europe would be a frightening phenomenon even if we were not to recall what happened on the continent in the recent past. Just imagine the reaction if Jews were being expelled from France to misery and oppression, and then witness the non-reaction when that is happening to Roma, also victims of the Holocaust and Europe’s most brutalised population.

In Hungary, the neo-fascist party Jobbik gained 17 per cent of the vote in national elections, perhaps unsurprising when three-quarters of the population feels that they are worse off than under Communist rule. We might be relieved that in Austria the ultra-right Jörg Haider won only 10 per cent of the vote in 2008 – were it not for the fact that the new Freedom Party, outflanking him from the far right, won more than 17 per cent. It is chilling to recall that, in 1928, the Nazis won less than 3 per cent of the vote in Germany.

In England the British National Party and the English Defence League, on the ultra-racist right, are major forces. (What is happening in Holland you know all too well.) In Germany, Thilo Sarrazin’s lament that immigrants are destroying the country was a runaway best-seller, while Chancellor Angela Merkel, though condemning the book, declared that multiculturalism had “utterly failed”: the Turks imported to do the dirty work in Germany are failing to become blond and blue-eyed, true Aryans.

Those with a sense of irony may recall that Benjamin Franklin, one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment, warned that the newly liberated colonies should be wary of allowing Germans to immigrate, because they were too swarthy; Swedes as well. Into the twentieth century, ludicrous myths of Anglo-Saxon purity were common in the US, including among presidents and other leading figures. Racism in the literary culture has been a rank obscenity; far worse in practice, needless to say. It is much easier to eradicate polio than this horrifying plague, which regularly becomes more virulent in times of economic distress.

I do not want to end without mentioning another externality that is dismissed in market systems: the fate of the species. Systemic risk in the financial system can be remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to the rescue if the environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is close to an institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global warming is a liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the threat, but they must maximize short-term profit and market share. If they don’t, someone else will.

This vicious cycle could well turn out to be lethal. To see how grave the danger is, simply have a look at the new Congress in the US, propelled into power by business funding and propaganda. Almost all are climate deniers. They have already begun to cut funding for measures that might mitigate environmental catastrophe. Worse, some are true believers; for example, the new head of a subcommittee on the environment who explained that global warming cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that there will not be another flood.

If such things were happening in some small and remote country, we might laugh. Not when they are happening in the richest and most powerful country in the world. And before we laugh, we might also bear in mind that the current economic crisis is traceable in no small measure to the fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market hypothesis, and in general to what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, 15 years ago, called the “religion” that markets know best – which prevented the central bank and the economics profession from taking notice of an $8tn housing bubble that had no basis at all in economic fundamentals, and that devastated the economy when it burst.

All of this, and much more, can proceed as long as the Muashar doctrine prevails. As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous bestselling political works, including 9-11: Was There an Alternative? (Seven Stories Press), an updated version of his classic account, just being published this week with a major new essay – from which this post was adapted – considering the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks.

A version of this piece was originally published on TomDispatch.com.

covert strikes

By Michael Hirsh National Journal President Obama’s relentless program of wiping out top al-Qaida leaders around the world through unilateral covert strikes claimed another victim on Friday, when Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric identified as “chief of external operations”  for … Continue reading

By Michael Hirsh
National Journal

President Obama’s relentless program of wiping out top al-Qaida leaders around the world through unilateral covert strikes claimed another victim on Friday, when Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric identified as “chief of external operations”  for al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in Yemen as he rode in a convoy.

 

Awlaki’s death followed the takedown of al-Qaida’s No. 2 official, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, in late August, and Osama bin Laden in early May. U.S. officials quickly sought to justify the strike against a U.S. citizen abroad. “Anwar al-Awlaki was one of AQAP’s most dangerous terrorists, and was directly involved in planning attacks against the United States, including the 2010 cargo bomb plot and Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s attempt to blow up a plane in December 2009,” a U.S. official said. “His death takes a committed terrorist, intent on attacking the United States, off the battlefield.”

Still, the strike was the first that was known to be launched against an American (Awlaki had dual Yemeni-U.S. citizenship). The nature of Awlaki’s death once again raised legal and moral issues about the evidence against him, whether he was given due process of law, and the constitutional basis of the administration’s covert strike program. Awlaki was believed to have “prepared” Abdul Mutallab’s attempt to blow up the Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas 2009, according to a previous statement by James Clapper, director of national intelligence. “Awlaki and AQAP are also responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Yemen and throughout the region, which have killed scores of Muslims,” the U.S. official said.

(RELATED: Currently at large: The new terrorists)

John Bellinger, who served as general counsel to the National Security Council and State Department in the Bush administration, told National Journal that the legal reasoning for the Obama administration’s global war against al-Qaida, which involves targeting terrorists in almost any country deemed uncooperative, is not very different from its predecessor’s. “I agree with the reasoning,” Bellinger said. ”But I think the Obama administration has got a problem in that no other governments have publicly endorsed drone strikes.… They’ve essentially looked the other way.”

In a recent speech at Harvard Law School, Obama’s counterterrorism coordinator, John Brennan, declared that “we reserve the right to take unilateral action if or when other governments are unwilling or unable to take the necessary actions themselves.”

In Pakistan’s case, questions have arisen about whether the administration’s aggressive efforts may have caused a backlash, leading to even deeper cooperation between the Pakistan intelligence apparatus and the Haqqani terrorist network against U.S. forces next door in Afghanistan. Outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen stirred controversy last week when he told a congressional committee that the Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI. Still, a NATO official toldNational Journal Mullen was only acknowledging publicly ties between Pakistan and terrorists that had been occurring for long before the bin Laden raid.

Bellinger said that the administration has not been clear about its legal basis for drone strikes, especially against American citizens. Under the administration’s legal reasoning, Awlaki and other suspected Qaida terrorists could be targeted either because they are deemed to pose an “imminent threat” or because they are identified as part of an enemy army. “The requirements of due process to kill an American outside the United States as part of an enemy army are really not clear,” Bellinger said. “We know under the Constitution there must be due process to deprive Americans of life or liberty, but the requirements of what process is due is not clear.… Even inside the United States, if a U.S. citizen is holding somebody hostage and poses an imminent threat, law-enforcement officials can kill him. The standard would be pretty much the same outside the United States. It’s a more controversial theory among human-rights groups to target an American because they’re part of an enemy al-Qaida army. But certainly if you go back to World War II, if an American has signed up as part of a foreign army, that person doesn’t cease to be a lawful target.”

(RELATED: Iraqi journalism faces crackdown)

Obama secretly authorized the killing or capture of Awlaki in 2010, and U.S. forces have been tracking him for months. It was believed they came close to getting him in a strike that occurred the same week that bin Laden was killed. Last year, attorneys for Awlaki’s father sought to persuade a U.S. District Court judge to prevent the U.S. government from trying to kill him in Yemen, but the case was dismissed.

As National Journal reported last May (http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/secret-love-obama-s-budding-romance-with-the-cia-20110511), Obama has launched “the most aggressive counterterror ops in the [CIA’s] history,” according to a senior U.S. official. The strikes have been increasingly unilateral, as U.S. forces rely less and less on unreliable governments from Pakistan to Yemen.

Overall, the number of Predator drone strikes has more than tripled during Obama’s presidency. The program has been mainly focused in Pakistan, but the U.S. has increased its intelligence and special-forces presence in Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. The administration also took out a key operative, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the leader of al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa, using Special Forces in Somalia, and a slew of other terrorists with Predator drones (although it’s believed that the drone strikes have also hit many mere thugs and innocents).

(RELATED: Bachmann says Obama policies led to Arab Spring)

Inside Pakistan, before bin Laden, those killed by drones on Obama’s orders in the last two years include Baitullah Mehsud, overall leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan; Mustafa Abu Yazid, al-Qaida’s leader in Afghanistan and top financial official; Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the Qaida and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam wanted by the U.S. for attacking the U.S. consulate in Karachi in 2006; Abdul Haq al-Turkistani,  a member of al-Qaida’s Shura Majlis and the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party; Abdullah Said al-Libi, top commander of the Lashkar al Zil, al-Qaida’s shadow army; and Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, according to Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal, a former soldier who tracks such attacks.

The legal and moral issues may soon be moot, if Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other senior administration officials are to be believed. Panetta and the officials have said repeatedly they believe that al-Qaida is on the verge of being wiped out.

Visit National Journal for more political news.

http://news.yahoo.com/killing-americans-uncharted-ground-attack-212335475.html

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama steered the nation’s war machine into uncharted territory Friday when a U.S. drone attacked a convoy in Yemen and killed two American citizens who had become central figures in al-Qaida.

It was believed to be the first instance in which a U.S. citizen was tracked and executed based on secret intelligence and the president’s say-so. And it raised major questions about the limitations of presidential power.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the target of the U.S. drone attack, was one of the best-known al-Qaida figures afterOsama bin Laden. American intelligence officials had linked him to two nearly catastrophic attacks on U.S.-bound planes, an airliner on Christmas 2009 and cargo planes last year. The second American killed in the drone attack, Samir Kahn, was the editor of Inspire, a slick online magazine aimed at al-Qaida sympathizers in the West.

“Al-Qaida and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world,” Obama said in announcing al-Awlaki’s death. “Working with Yemen and our other allies and partners, we will be determined, we will be deliberate, we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americans.”

Republicans and Democrats alike applauded the decision to launch the fatal assault on the convoy in Yemen.

“It’s something we had to do,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “The president is showing leadership. The president is showing guts.”

“It’s legal,” said Maryland Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s legitimate and we’re taking out someone who has attempted to attack us on numerous occasions. And he was on that list.”

That list is the roster of people the White House has authorized the CIA and Pentagon to kill or capture as terrorists. The evidence against them almost always is classified. Targets never know for sure they are on the list, though some surely wouldn’t be surprised.

The list has included dozens of names, from little-known mid-level figures in the wilds of Pakistan to bin Laden, who was killed in his compound in a comfortable Pakistani suburb.

Before al-Awlaki, no American had been on the list.

But the legal process that led to his death was set in motion a decade ago. On Sept. 17, 2001, President George W. Bush signed a presidential order authorizing the CIA to hunt down terrorists worldwide. The authority was rooted in his power as commander in chief, leading a nation at war with al-Qaida.

 

The order made no distinction between foreigners and U.S. citizens. If they posed a “continuing and imminent threat” to the United States, they were eligible to be killed, former intelligence officials said.

The order was reviewed by top lawyers at the White House, CIA and Justice Department. With the ruins of the World Trade Center still smoking, there was little discussion about whether U.S. citizens should have more protection, the officials recalled, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. The feeling was that the government needed — and had — broad authority to find and kill terrorists who were trying to strike the U.S.

The CIA first faced the issue in November 2002, when it launched a Predator drone attack in Yemen. An American terror suspect who had fled there, Kamal Derwish, was killed by Hellfire missiles launched on his caravan.

The Bush administration said Derwish wasn’t the target. The attack was intended for Yemeni al-Qaida leader Abu Ali al-Harithi. But officials said even then that, if it ever came to it, they had the authority to kill an American.

“I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here. There are authorities that the president can give to officials,” Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national security adviser, said. “He’s well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority.”

Al-Awlaki had not then emerged as a leading al-Qaida figure. Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the New Mexico-born cleric had been a preacher at the northern Virginia mosque attended briefly by two hijackers. He was interviewed but never charged by the FBI.

But at the CIA, the officers in charge of finding targets knew it was only a matter of time before they would set the Predator drone’s high-definition sights on an American.

“We knew at some point there would have to be a straight call made on this,” one former senior intelligence official said.

It was Obama who ultimately made that call.

After the failed Christmas bombing, the Nigerian suspect told the FBI that he had met with al-Awlaki and said he was instrumental in the plot. Al-Awlaki had also called for attacks on Americans and had attended meetings with senior al-Qaida leaders in Yemen. Al-Awlaki had gone from an inspirational figure to an operational leader, officials said.

In April 2010, the White House added al-Awlaki’s name to the kill-or-capture list. Senior administration officials said they reviewed the Bush administration’s executive order and discussed the ramifications of putting an American on the list but said it was a short conversation. They concluded that the president had the authority, both under the congressional declaration of war against al-Qaida and international law.

“Anwar al-Awlaki is acting as a regional commander for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in August 2010.

What if the U.S. was wrong, Gibbs was asked, what recourse does a citizen have to save himself? The CIA had misidentified and imprisoned the wrong person before. Gibbs sidestepped the question.

The U.S. has been inconsistent in how it describes al-Awlaki. The Treasury Department called him a leader of al-Qaida in Yemen. FBI Director Robert Mueller called him the leader. On Friday, Obama called him “the leader of external operations,” the first time he has been described that way.

When word leaked out that al-Awlaki’s name was on the list, his family rushed to court to try to stop the government from killing him, saying he had to be afforded the constitutional right to due process.

The idea of killing an American citizen provided critics with fodder for all sorts of comparisons showing the peculiarities of national security law and policy. The government could not listen to al-Awlaki’s phone calls without a judge’s approval, for instance, but could kill him on the president’s say-so. The Obama administration opposed imprisoning terrorist suspects without due process but supported killing them without due process.

“If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state,” ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said Friday.

U.S. District Judge John Bates refused to intervene in al-Awlaki’s case.

“This court recognizes the somewhat unsettling nature of its conclusion — that there are circumstances in which the executive’s unilateral decision to kill a U.S. citizen overseas is ‘constitutionally committed to the political branches’ and judicially unreviewable,” Bates wrote. “But this case squarely presents such a circumstance.”

Like Derwish years ago, Khan, a North Carolina native, was called collateral damage in the drone attack, not the target.

Al-Awlaki may have been the perfect test case for the government. His sermons in English are posted all over the Internet and his name has been associated with several attempted terrorist attacks. In the intelligence community, many regarded him as a bigger threat than bin Laden because of his ability to inspire Westerners and his focus on attacking the U.S.

But in taking this step, the Obama administration raised questions about whom else the president has the authority to kill. In principle, such an attack could probably not happen inside the United States because the CIA is forbidden from operating here and the military is limited in what operations it can carry out domestically. But civil rights groups have questioned whether the government has opened the door to that possibility.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney refused to even acknowledge the government’s direct role in killing al-Awlaki. He repeatedly ducked questions about the extent of Obama’s authority and said only that al-Awlaki had been an operational leader for al-Qaida.

“Is there going to be any evidence presented?” Carney was asked.

“You know, I don’t have anything for you on that,” he responded.

King, the Republican lawmaker, said it was necessary that the president to have the authority to act against those at war with the U.S. And it was no secret to the public, he said, that al-Awlaki was at war. But he acknowledged that it set a precedent that could make people uncomfortable.

“There could be a situation where nobody knows the evidence, where you’re relying on the government to say what its intelligence is,” King said. “With al-Awlaki, it was clear-cut. He made it a clear call.”

___

Associated Press writers Kimberly Dozier and Adam Goldman in Washington and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Md., contributed to this report.

Follow Matt Apuzzo at http://twitter.com/mattapuzzo

Mafalda

hace 47 años salió a la luz la primera tira cómica de “Mafalda”, del dibujante argentino Joaquín Salvador Lavado, mejor conocido como”Quino”.Fue en la revista argentina “Primera Plana” en donde la niña de seis años, que detesta la sopa, hizo su …

hace 47 años salió a la luz la primera tira cómica de “Mafalda”, del dibujante argentino Joaquín Salvador Lavado, mejor conocido como”Quino”.Fue en la revista argentina “Primera Plana” en donde la niña de seis años, que detesta la sopa, hizo su primera aparición en una viñeta, preguntándose por lo bueno y malo del mundo.”Quino”, recibirá el próximo 1 de octubre el “Romics de Oro”, máximo