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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 07:48 PM
Original message
Sen. Russ Feingold: What's at Stake in Pakistan

Sen. Russ Feingold

What's at Stake in Pakistan

Posted November 13, 2007 | 12:04 PM (EST)

The news coming out of Pakistan reminds us of what's at stake in our relationship with that nation -- which possesses nuclear weapons and serves as a base camp for al Qaeda -- and how our Iraq-centric policies are undermining our national security interests in the region. As the administration struggles to respond to General Pervez Musharraf's imposition of martial law, it's important for us to step back and reassess our national security priorities in the region.

The leading threat to our own national security from this region is al Qaeda. We took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq, instead of sustaining a robust military initiative and effective reconstruction program in Afghanistan. While the Administration continues to focus on Iraq, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan remains one of the most troubled regions in the world, home to both widespread poverty and al Qaeda operatives. Musharraf has been an unreliable ally in our efforts to prevent the border region from becoming an al Qaeda safe haven. Musharraf has also been a roadblock to democracy, and while he claims emergency rule is needed to combat extremism and instability, it is the lawyers, journalists, and human rights activists he's thrown in jail.

Indeed, recent events in Pakistan highlight the administration's failure to carry through on its stated commitment to promoting democratic reforms and basic human rights. In March 2000, just prior to President Clinton's visit in Pakistan with General Musharraf, I urged him to press Musharraf to act on his stated intentions to return Pakistan to civilian rule, democratic governance and respect for human rights. I made it clear that the U.S. could never enjoy a stable partnership with Pakistan until those critical issues were addressed. When I visited Musharraf in Pakistan two years ago, I again made it clear that he had to take off his uniform -- not just symbolically -- and move towards democracy.

But that hasn't happened and by continuing to bet on Musharraf to shore up stability in the short term, this Administration has further eroded our credibility and commitment to freedom in the long run. Instead of a policy based on one man, we need to work on building Pakistan's infrastructure and supporting democracy. Ultimately, this emphasis is good not only for the people of Pakistan but for our own national security as well. If we are truly to protect our own national interests, we must commit ourselves to promoting and supporting the rule of law and institutions that seek to eliminate corruption, poor governance, endemic poverty, and the historic marginalization that, along with the lack of basic freedoms and political rights, has allowed and will continue to allow terrorist threats to fester and grow in Pakistan and elsewhere.

With these priorities in mind, we should refocus U.S. assistance to Pakistan so it is more aligned with the needs of the Pakistani people and less with a military leader who has undermined democracy. Counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda in and along the Afghan border are an important element of our relationship, but that alone will not make for a more secure, stable Pakistan. Only a comprehensive foreign policy -- one that moves beyond the administration's myopic, country-by-country approach -- will make Pakistan, and in turn the U.S., more secure. If we fail to take that approach, we will have failed to learn the painful lessons of history and will be bound to repeat them -- this time in a region that is home to the greatest threat to our national security, al Qaeda.

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earthlover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. K&R
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Bobbieo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. What role is Bhutto playing in all of this turmoil. Is she a good or bad influence?
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gateley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. I posted a video here called something like The Other Side of Bhutto. It says
that in her two terms of Prime Minister, Amnesty International charged her with more human rights violations than ever before in Pakistan history.

It's also purported she received $1.5 BILLION in kickbacks.

If it's not still here on DU, I'm sure I found it on YouTube somewhere.

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:22 PM
Response to Original message
3. If Feingold REALLY wanted to help change this for the better, he'd be talking about what the
real deal is between our Rulers and Musharraf. He'd be talking about who's making tons of money off all the military "aid" we've been sending to Pakistan for all these years.

He'd be talking about the fucking sick absurdity of 3+ trillion of OUR tax dollars going to fund our military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the fucking sick absurdity of the Department of "Defense" (it is due to Orwellian nomenclature such as this that irony died such a painful death some while ago) being given -- by OUR "representatives" -- a 10% budget increase, while little boots rails on about the profligance of Congress putting a 1% increase for Health and Human Services in the budget.

Why aren't our "representatives" expressing outrage about these things on behalf of the People they supposedly represent?

*I'm* certainly outraged, and have been outraged for many years now. And, my gawd, I have expressed it in countless letters and emails and petitions and face-to-face meetings.

I'm sick of being fed bullshit about "the War on Terror". I'm sick of being expected to go along with the charade that such an obvious exercise in imperialism is not what it really is.

There are deeper games going on, anyone with any common sense can see that. I'm tired of being treated like an idiot.

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cutlassmama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I used to like Russ.
:toast: to you sw. You are correct.

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Wow, thank you! I used to like him, too -- but I reluctantly had to re-assess.
He stopped impressing me some time ago.

:toast: back atcha!

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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-15-07 12:36 AM
Response to Reply #3
15. What a load of hooey!
Al-Qaeda in Pakistan a major challenge to US: Crocker

Wednesday September 12, 11:42 AM

Crocker was asked for his views on whether the United States is providing sufficient resources to address the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb.

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin asked Crocker, "How concerned are you about al-Qaeda's safe haven in Pakistan?" To this, the administration's top diplomat in Iraq replied "... We're all quite concerned".

"Which is more important to defeating al-Qaeda, the situation in Afghanistan or that (the) situation in Iraq, Ambassador?" asked a persistent Senator Feingold.

"The challenges in confronting al-Qaeda in the Pak-Afghan border area are immense, and they're complicated. I did not feel, from my perspective as ambassador to Pakistan, that the focus, the resources, the people needed to deal with that situation, weren't available or weren't there because of Iraq," Crocker responded.

"...In my view, fighting al-Qaeda is what's important; whatever front they're on. Fighting al-Qaeda in Pakistan is critically important to us, fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq is critically important to us," Ambassador Crocker added.


The Story of Pakistani Deportees

By Anjum Niaz

Last week we carried the story of Qaiser Rafiq, who was one of around 2,000 Pakistanis waiting to be deported by the US.

Here are some more tragic cases:

To those who pit Americans against immigrants and citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. So said Attorney General John Ashcroft. But later went ahead and authored the USA Patriot Act which some call the old wish-list of the FBI that it wanted stuffed into this Bill, encouraging law enforcement agencies to do what Ashcroft himself has categorically denounced above.

However, one Senator made history by standing up alone and opposing the Act

- one vote against 99 - the first ever in the United States Senate.

There is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists; where the police were allowed to search your home at any time for any reason; where the government was entitled to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; where people could be held in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they were up to no good. But that would not be a country in which we would want to live,and it would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that country would not be America, Senator Russ Feingolds lone voice rang out on Capitol Hill.

Now, Feingold is again alone in demanding that Ashcrofts Justice Department (which oversees FBI and INS) at least provide basic information about the detainees: They detained over 1,200 people. We dont know for sure if they all have lawyers. Weve never been given the names of all the people. We dont know what theyve been charged with. We do know this: Not a single one of the 1,200 has been charged with terrorist activity. And yet over 400 of them have been deported.

Now these are people that may, of course, have some kind of minor immigration violations, but that wasnt the basis on which they were dragged in. They were dragged in on the basis that they had something to do with terrorism; these are serious abuses of civil liberties of people who did absolutely nothing wrong with regard to terrorism issue,and that is something that the Justice Department and the Bush Administration should account for, demands Feingold.

Ahsanullah Khan a.k.a Bobby Khan is an advocate for the Pakistani community in Brooklyn. A long time pro-democracy activist in Pakistan since the 1980s, he was arrested some 40 times and still has three bullets lodged in his body. As a well-known and much revered volunteer, Bobby has seen firsthand how his fellow Pakistanis have been hunted down, detained, de-humanized and later deported since 9/11. Refuting feel-good press reports on how well the 130 deported in the middle of the night on June 26 in a US Army plane were treated, he says, I have received phone calls fromPakistan by some of them who tell me that they were kept shackled during the flight with 30 guards on board, each pointing a gun at them. They were not allowed to go to the bathroom nor given food, just cookies. All their earthly possessions (money, jewelery, documents) were seized before being deported. According to Immigration rules, each deportee is entitled to $100, all they got was Rs 500!


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gateley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 08:47 PM
Response to Original message
8. I feel compelled to point out that Feingold is essentially parroting what Biden
has said in recent days.

Whether you support Biden or not, listen to his take on what the real situation is in Pakistan. He lays it on the line (natch) and gives us an accurate picture of what solutions are possible.

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John Q. Citizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Not really. He's very much into "democracy" and never uses the words "oil and drugs."
Edited on Wed Nov-14-07 10:22 PM by John Q. Citizen
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-15-07 12:13 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Feingold is WAY ahead of you... - "Big Oil Buys the Senate, Says Feingold"
that's why he is a progressive!

Big Oil Buys the Senate, Says Feingold -

Senator Russ Feingold - 9/23/99 floor speech on oil company clout in Congress

Progressive, The, Dec, 1999

Editor's Introduction:

On September 23, the U.S. Senate voted 51 to 47 in favor of an amendment by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, that saves oil companies from paying $66 million a year in royalties to the government. The Interior Department wanted the oil companies to have to pay royalties based on the market price of oil instead of a lower price they themselves determine. Before the vote, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, took to the floor to oppose the amendment. And Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, argued that this amendment showed how campaign contributions were corrupting the system. His outspokenness created a stir on Capitol Hill. Even some of his Senatorial allies on campaign finance reform said he was out of line. Here are his remarks, along with interruptions from Senator Craig Thomas, Republican of Wyoming, and Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who both supported the bill.



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John Q. Citizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-15-07 01:50 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. Thanks for the links, but they don't really address my point. My point is that as
far as Pakistan being a "democracy," who cares, and why do they care?

Gateley's point that Feingolds statement and Biden's statement are similar is true I think.

But both statement focus on the need to "help" Pakistan become more democratic. Why? Why do we care if Pakistan is democratic?

We live next door to a country that was under one party rule for 75 years, and we didn't seem to mind that very much. The oil flowed, the cheap labor flowed, and the idea that Mexico was a one party state didn't much phase anybody. When their election was stolen completely stolen a couple of years ago, I didn't hear Biden, Kerry or Feingold raising much a hue and cry.

And here's why. Mexico has a facade of democracy. There were elections held on schedule that were all pretty much rigged, and it kept the locals relatively passive.

And this is the truth about Pakistan. We could care less about democracy, what we really care about is a passive population so that we can pipe oil, run heroin, and base our troops in Pakistan or nearby to protect that oil and heroin.

And it pisses me off that these folks won't just level with us.

Instead, it's "Pakistan needs to hold elections." Musharraf needs to change clothes.

And that's my point about Pakistan. I really don't think Biden, or Kerry, or Feingold really care that much whether Pakistan is a faux democracy a real democracy or a dictatorship, what they ultimately care about is that the population accepts a pipeline, (ours)continues to transship Afghanistan's #1 export (heroin) and allows the protection of those two commodities by our military, or by proxy.

Instead we hear all this crap about democracy, and frankly it's got nothing to do with our foreign policy except as a "rason d'etra."

Am I wrong here? Have any of these guys stood up loud and long to complain about our so called democracy? I mean it's only been since 2000 that florida was stolen, only 7 years now. But our population is pretty passive about it, so it's just not that big a deal.

Habeas corpus? What, Pakistan suspended habeas corpus? OMG! Sybil Edmonds is under a gag order and Bhuto is under house arrest. OK.

Call me jaded, but why wouldn't i be?

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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. I don't think he is parroting Biden
Feingold himself is on the SFRC. All the long term members of that committee have dealt with the issue of Pakistan for years. I have read Feingold's, Kerry's (Kerry held the last hearings on Pakistan only a few months ago), nad Biden's statements. i heard some of Boxer's. They are all informed and when explaining the situation - they sound somewhat similar as their inforamtion is from the same hearings, visits and research - all of which is shared.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
9. i really hoped he was going to run for president
one of the few democrats in the senate that really understands what is going on. he`s right about the bush failure in the middle east and he is right about what needs to be done.
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John Q. Citizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-14-07 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
10. I wish Feingold had written about our true foreign policy goals: Oil and drugs.
Edited on Wed Nov-14-07 09:55 PM by John Q. Citizen
We need Pakistan so we can run our pipeline from the Caspian Basin through Afghanistan through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean.

And we need the drugs to finance the covert bribery and the offline military actions that will be required to pull that off.

Commitments to freedom are just used to try to maintain some credibility, and they are certainly minor compared to our primary foreign policy objectives.
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-15-07 12:16 AM
Response to Reply #10
14. Russell Feingold on Energy & Oil
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