The Garden of Remembrance

Many Pakistanis believe that Indian or American agents — not fellow Muslim countrymen — are behind the spate of bombings and attacks it has recently endured, especially the attack on a “highly secured” naval base.  It is the latest example of an immutable condition in international politics: It’s Always Americas Fault (IAAF). This is in spite of the fact that the Taliban are  desperately waving and saying, “we did it, we did it!”


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But who pays attention to what the Taliban says, because IAAF. Taking another example, the circumstances of Osama Bin Laden’s takedown are being being investigated by the UN, not in order to discover why the most wanted terrorist on earth was living a mere half mile from the Pakistani military academy, but to determine whether his human rights were violated by the SEALs. “The UN’s chief human rights official led calls by rights activist organizations … for Washington to explain whether U.S. forces lawfully killed Osama bin Laden.”

Admitting that taking bin Laden alive was “always going to be difficult,” Pillay nevertheless signalled the United States needs to explain more about what happened in the compound.

“This was a complex operation and it would be helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing,” Pillay said. “The United Nations has consistently emphasized that all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law.”

Amnesty International said it was seeking “greater clarification” about what went on, while New York-based Human Rights Watch said “law enforcement” principles should have applied.

“If he wasn’t shooting at the soldiers, the killing should be investigated,” Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director, said in Bangkok at the launch of a report on Thailand.


Thousands of human rights hours are spent straining at American gnats, with not a glance at the Pakistani camel. Countries invade each other all the time. They perform cross-border snatches all the time. But it’s often only a political problem if America does it. Hanin Ghaddar at Lebanon Now notes that Syria is arresting dissidents in cross-border operations in Lebanon. She writes:

On Thursday, The Syrian Council for Human Rights reported that Shibli al-Ayssami—a leading Syrian opposition member and one of the original founders of the Syrian Baath Party, who escaped Syria when Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970—went missing from Lebanon on Tuesday.

Ayssami’s daughter told NOW Lebanon that he went missing after going on a walk around 4:30 p.m. in Aley. He had arrived in Lebanon on May 19 from the US, where he resides. No one knows where Ayssami is, and all authorities contacted by his family were unable to deliver any information on his whereabouts.

So when will there be a UN probe of Syria? Probably never, because it’s always … you know the rest. Part of the reason for this constant refrain is that America is the most consequential country on earth.  IAAF is the flip side of WCAS (Who Cares About Syria) … Who Cares About North Korea … who cares about suicide bombers? That’s only the poor man’s F-16. It isn’t logical but that is the way the press thinks.


As a child in Malate, Manila I grew up on one the great battlegrounds of the Pacific War. Within 3 miles or so of the route I walked to school, nearly 100,000 people had died: more fatalities than at either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Later, through some quirk of fate, I realized that I had also walked hundreds of times past one of the pivotal sites of the War on Terror: the Dona Josefa apartments on Francis Burton Harrison Street, from where al-Qaeda was beginning its preparations for 9/11. It was called Operation Bojinka, and it was a doozy. In some sense, 9/11 started in my old neighborhood. (The Canadian series “Mayday” depicted the attack on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, some fragments of which can be viewed on YouTube starting here.  The Mayday footage depicts some locales from “No Way In” BTW, and the reader is invited to list at least two such places if he wishes.)

The Bojinka plot (Arabic: بجنكة‎; Tagalog: Oplan Bojinka) was a planned large-scale Islamist terrorist attack by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to blow up 12 airliner and their approximately 4,000 passengers as they flew from Asia to the United States. The term can also refer to a combination of plots by Yousef and Mohammed to take place in January 1995, including a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II. Murad proposed to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters in Fairfax County, Virginia in addition to a plan to bomb multiple airliners, which leads credence that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed evolved this plot into the 9–11 airliner attacks


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That a Third World City on the Malay Barrier has passed through three major historical events: World War 2, the Cold War (the People’s Power Revolution), and the War on Terror should be no surprise.  All of us live on the edge of great events; and the major parts are played by those who are commemorated on Memorial Day. But there are other parts too and other histories, now but shadowed.  Someday the center of the narrative may move elsewhere, to the Chinese mainland or back to Europe, or even to outer space. For the present, however, Memorial Day commemorates more than the history of a nation. It remembers the history of the recent world.

“No Way In” print edition at Amazon

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