Saturday, July 6, 2013

The most terrifying book.....

(This was written a week ago. It appears dated for Sunday only because I shall be out of touch with my computer that day.)

Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons. , Walker Publishing, New York, 2007.

 Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark are well established and extraordinarily connected world-class investigative reporters. Much of their work has been done for  The Guardian, a newspaper infinitely more distinguished than any in North America - and even ahead of the Irving press. Their research is phenomenal in scope, their information highly detailed and, with their reputations, they had access to the highest levels of government in the western world, in Pakistan, in other parts of Asia - and with the shadowy people who are often the real movers and shakers, and who really know what's going on..

Their message is that all the nuclear secrets are out, and available to anybody with enough money. The major source of this disaster is our good friend and ally, Pakistan. It is also a good friend and ally to the Taliban in Afghanistan and, until his death, to Osama bin Laden.

The story begins with a Pakistan impoverished, and under the rule of a powerful military that had and has an almost paranoid hatred of India, and with close connections to the Taliban and to the most extreme Moslem jihadists (those who wished to impose the strictest religious rule on the whole of the Moslem world.)

In 1975, a young engineer named A.Q. Khan returned home to Pakistan with three suitcases of documents stolen in The Netherlands. They contained the secrets to constructing a nuclear bomb. The generals immediately set him up with research facilities and a huge budget. Where did a poor country get the money for a huge budget?

 It got it from the US.

The US was using Pakistan as a conduit for weapons and supplies to help the Taliban fight off a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It also rewarded Pakistan for its cooperation by giving it hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to build hospitals and schools.

The generals stole from both packages to pay for nuclear research and supplies. With this, Khan was able to set up not only the research and manufacuting facilities he needed, but also to set up a remarkable world network of illegal suppliers of technology, components and uranium. (One of his suppliers - of uranium - was Canada.) He soon had a network that connected most of Europe, Asia, and North America.

And every president from Ronald Reagan to George Bush knew what he was doing. And every one of them covered it up. And every one of them lied even to congressional committees. (which is illegal under the constitution.)  And every one of them continued to give hundreds of millions of "aid" money to Pakistan even though they knew what it was being spent on.

(The list stops before President Obama only because the book was published in 2007. In fact, he has continued the aid; and Pakistan has continued its sales.)

Intelligence analysts who knew what was going on were horrified. But when one of them, being officially interviewed by a congressional committee, felt he had to obey the constitution and tell it the truth, his career and, effectively, his life were destroyed. The others got the message.

One reason for the behaviour of succeeding governments was that they needed Pakistan for the proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Then they needed Pakistan for their own war with Afghanistan - though the Pakistan rulers consistently betrayed the US.

(The one exception to such betrayal was Benazir Bhutto. But she never had any real power, and rarely knew even what was happening.)

Once he had developed the bomb, and had a stockpile, Khan began exporting the technology, selling it to Libya and Iran, though neither ever got to the point of building one. He also seems to have had some contact in advising Al Quaeda in how to build a more portable bomb for use in terrorism.

George Bush's axis of evil was a crock. North Korea, Iran and Iraq were not the problem. Iran and Libya were still some distance from a bomb. Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who detested the religous views of the Pakistan generals and the Taliban, never even considered building a bomb.

The problem was Pakistan. It was the supplier, and was far the biggest nuclear threat to the world. So why did the Bush White House invade Iraq and Afghanistan, and plan to invade Iran while largely ignoring Pakistan?

Bush did put some heat on Pakistan to stop the sales. But the Pakistan government simply made a show of putting all the blame on Khan (forcing him to apologize on TV as his punishment), then putting him under house arrest. And the sales went on.

No problem, Bush pretended the issue was settled, and promptly released some 350 million dollars in aid to Pakistan's generals. Since then, nothing seems to have changed - which means we have every reason to expect a terrorist, nuclear device to explode in a western city. And it will come courtesy of  the most dangerous country in the world, Pakistan.

The book does not provide a convincing reason why the US government has consistently lied about this, and has taken no serious action. Yes, it is true that Pakistan is strategically important to the US. But surely not that important.

It's true that both democrats and republicans would be terribly embarassed if the truth got out. Well, yeah. But not nearly so embarssed as they'll be if a nuclear device goes off in New York.

The authors explain George Bush's behaviour by saying the people around him were obsessed with Iraq and Iran. Well, okay. But why? Neither of them was in a position to be the threat to the world that Pakistan is. If we knocked off all the Iraqs and Irans in the world, we would still have Pakistan as the greatest threat. 

So, let me try a guess.

The wars in Iraq and Libya, and the threats to Iran, arose out of business interests. Oil companies wanted those wars to get control of the oil fields in Iraq, Iran and Libya. There is some evidence that American corporations were also interested in the mineral wealth of Afghanistan. There was money to be made out of wars in those countries.(Can you think of any other reason for the long and costly war in Afghanistan that makes any sense?) There was no big money in invading Pakistan.

Big business has always been a major force in American policy. As I look at the increasing takeover of government in New Brunswick by big business, that would seem to be a situation duplicated on a huge scale in the US.

And, as we are seeing happening with business inteference with our schools and hospitals, greed and short-sightedness make the leaders of big business hopeless asses when they try to take over government functions.

And that may explain why American foreign policy has been such a slow-motion train wreck for the last fifty years and more. In the Moslem world, for example, the west, led by the US for the last half-century, has created sectarian wars of the sort that has blown Syria apart, and seems well on the way blowing Africa and much of Asia apart.

Indeed, the existence of what some people call "extreme" Islam owes almost everything to the century-old abuse of Moslem countries by western business, then really set aflame by a hatred campaign against all Moslems encouraged by the George Bushes of this world,  and by western news media to justfy the indiscriminate killing of. Moslems to open the way to profit for big business.  That's why we now have civil wars between the "extreme" Moslems that we have created, and the more moderate Moslems.

This book, packed with details and unfamiliar names and acronyms is a slow read. But it's essential for an understanding of the terrible danger we are all in.

Read it. And be scared. Be very scared.
How come this story never made the Irving Press? Don't their editors ever read books?  Wull. probl'y not -            'lessen they got pitchers 'n them, er pages t' colour 'n stick things.



  1. Breaking news:

    Leaves more questions than answers. BUT at least it's not a pipeline feeding the fire. I *wonder* the final destination of the oil on that train (I *think* we all know where the closest refinery is?)

  2. I knew, when Big Oil was invited to the White House to help Dick write policy, we were screwed. And before that, the Reagan/Ollie North machinations...and that's when I was old enough to follow the trail of horrid US foreign-policy. I also learned a lot from Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing on the Campain Trail". That book piqued my interest in politics, more than anything (and made me very, very sad for America), as well as my mom, who loved Canada, lived in the US for many years, and they were always talking politics...

  3. Some contributors in media discussion blogs on the Lac Megantic rail disaster, which levelled Lac Megantic, have argued the final destination for the rail shipment of oil products was an Irving refinery in New Brunswick. Is there any confirmation on that, as most reports center on the disaster itself and make no mention of final destination. And if Irving is involved, to what extent does Irving share responsibility for the choice of carrier, routing of shipment and lack of rail safety measures followed?

    1. I learned of the disaster just an hour ago. (I've been a couple of days at a quite remote cottage.)My guess is that irving will be found to be responsible for nothing.

  4. I did locate a CBC news article that indicated the shipment of crude oil that destroyed downtown Lac Megantic was destined for Irving Oil's Saint John refinery, and that Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigators have been dispatched to the accident site.

    If you peruse the Transportation Safety Board's website, it indicates the Board has a staff of 220 to handle all marine, air and rail disaster investigations across Canada and that "there are no job opportunities at this time", although Prime Minister Harper and Irving Oil executives do offer their condolences for the "tragic loss of life".

  5. As well to Rene's point as to the lack of job opportunities elsewhere, how is it, that it's become common practice to have a solitary engineer pilot a train over very long hauls such as North Dakota to New Brunswick?!

    You'd think given the value of the cargo, as well as its highly volatile nature there'd be at least two, three, or more employees on board to spell each other and ensure everything was up to snuff as far as safety is concerned!

    And, how is it considered common practice for the lone engineer to leave the train alone on the track while he retires to a motel room for the night? (once again, given the flammable or explosive nature of the cargo)

    No excuse in the world as to cutting expenses, or the need to increase profit margins can make any sense as a defense against what's happened!

    ...Unless everyone involved are mentally challenged, ...or... were expecting something to happen sooner or later...just saying.

    Of course, its too early to move into this sort of conspiracy speculation without knowing all the evidence or circumstances, but given the horrendous amount of bloodletting going on in our world today, nothing would surprise me any longer.

  6. You won't hear any of the those questions from the irving press. Their take can be guessed without even trying hard.

    This will be used as convincing proof that we should build a pipeline from Alberta to St. John.

  7. oh, and perhaps as proof we need an 'events' centre.