Belmont Club


US halts $700 million in aid to Pakistan, demands action on Taliban bombs: The bad news is that Congress did it. “The United States has frozen $700 million in aid to Pakistan until it gets assurances that Islamabad is helping fight the spread of homemade bombs, a move likely to further strain ties between the countries. A Congressional panel halted the payment to Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country that is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, late on Monday as part of a wider review of defense spending.”

CIA’s Drone War In Pakistan Will Use Afghan Bases: “The CIA just got kicked out of a major Pakistani launching pad for the drone war. But just because the agency is packing up its stuff like a dumped lover doesn’t mean the deadly flying robots will head home. They’ll just move to the airbases in nearby Afghanistan.”

Cash for Corpses: The Strategy Page describes the bidding wars. “In Afghanistan, the most powerful weapon is not foreign troops, but foreign money. Afghanistan is the poorest country in Eurasia, with one of the highest birth rates, and lots of poor young men, with little work, but a fondness for violence. Historically, a wealthy man with a little charisma could hire and arm a lot of these young guys and make a reputation for himself. These days, the ambitious men with the cash are from drug gangs, the Taliban or the government.” What do application resumes look like?

After School Detention: “Police in the Pakistani city of Karachi have rescued 54 students from the basement of an Islamic seminary, or madrasa, where they said they were kept in chains by clerics, beaten and barely fed.”

Most victims had signs of severe torture, and had developed wounds from the chains, police said. The main cleric of the madrasa escaped during the raid. Many of the students – who varied in age from 12 to 45 and were kept 30 to a room – were still in chains while shown on television.

Good thing it didn’t involve Americans handling a Koran without white gloves in Guantanamo, otherwise it would have been a human rights abuse.

Revolt in Iraq: “Amid growing security fears as U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq, the shaky coalition government in Baghdad is grappling with another problem: growing demands for autonomy by oil-rich regions. The issue is at its thorniest with the already semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave in the north — a holdover from the 1991 Gulf War — after the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, signed an exploration agreement with it in October.”

Related search: “low trust societies”. Maybe they trust the hegemon more than they trust each other. The trouble is, the hegemon ain’t hegemoning.

Global Zero: “Swiss prosecutors said on Tuesday they had charged a father and his two sons for helping an unknown state build up an illegal nuclear weapons programme, after they admitted the crime. Prosecutors launched a case against Marco and Urs Tinner in October 2004 and their father Friedrich the following year on suspicion of links with the network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father of the Pakistani atom bomb”, who supplied Libya with nuclear weapons technology.”

The question is, who’s the zero?

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