Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rubin: Bedu tribe in Galilee reveals links to Obama

Tabrik, Shaikh Obama. It seems they may be Druze, not Muslims, so there should not be any negative reaction. Read more on this article...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A.Q. Khan Speaks

Pakistan's nuclear godfather has suddenly emerged from seclusion (involuntary) and penned a risible column for the Daily Jang. It is notable, this column, for his self-aggrandizing, self-importance, and self-service. Keeping to the tradition, he sprinkles the column with bits of Urdu poetry (though not the tired old morsels), and frames himself as a "just a worker". And then he launches into a tirade against Musharraf, as well as a glorification of the Bhutto family. I thought that the greater English-speaking world would want a peek into the mind of A. Q. Khan, so I translated it. Enjoy:

'Til The Dawn
- Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan

Why ask me the cause of my silence?
There must be some reason why I remain quiet

In 1961, I was about to embark, for higher education, to the most acclaimed technical university in Berlin. I thought that I should inform the Pakistani public, especially the students, about the conditions in Germany. In those days, the office of the Daily Jang was on Karachi Business Road. During college (D. J. Sindh Goverment Science College), I would routinely walk by the office. So I went in to meet Mir Khalil al-Rahman Sahib and seek his advice. At that time, Taki Sahib was the Editor and he immediately arranged for me to meet Mir Sahib. I had heard of him, and now I knew him in person. Mir Sahib was a handsome, tall man with a commanding personality and his intelligence was reflected in his broad forehead. He met me with great affection. He was very keen on my idea and told me to certainly keep the readers of Jang informed from Berlin. And thus, I left for Germany. Berlin, in those days, was the playing field for the political conflict between East and West. Only ten days earlier, East Berlin (i.e. the Eastern Communist Germany) had erected the Wall. Innumerable Germans were running from the Communists towards West Berlin and many were dying from the bullets of VOPOS, ie the East Berlin militia. In the skies, the Russian Mig fighters were daily breaking the sound barriers over the city. My hostel was roughly fifteen minutes away from the Brandenburg Gate, and near the Victory Column.

From there, I began to send reports to Daily Jang under the heading "Letters from Berlin" - which were regularly published. This continued for two years. In the pages of Jang I predicted that the mayor of Berlin, Willy Brandt, would one day become the Chcancellor of Germany. And indeed, in a few years, he did. In late 1963, I shifted from Berlin to the famous technical university in Holland and stopped writing "Letters from Berlin".

Due to current affairs, I though, why not indulge my disposition, and write once again on the important matters of the country. I have always held a fondness for writing, and if there is anything important, I do write. The habit is ...
I cannot break this pagan habit...

Which is not to say that the public remains unaware of my thoughts and my emotions:
I sit quietly, but it appears
as if the whole world is telling my story

No doubt, whenever someone begins to write for the newspapers, the public tries to decipher the intent or the cause:
You may or may not be suspicious, but we
Just gain comfort from telling our painful story

We all know that Good and Evil will always battle in this world. Almighty Allah has warned us of this repeatedly in the Qur'an and declared, "Allah, protect me from the evil of the evil doers and the oppressors". Some selfish and oppressive people, purely for the sake of their self-interest, trample the rights of the people under their feet. Drunk with power, they even, God forbid, deny the existence of God and his Might. The example of Musharraf is in front of you:
In every age, humans have done evil
In every age, humans have tried to become gods

But, God forbid, the haughtiness of being a god does not make one a god. Even if such people forget entirely about God:
The oppressors now think
As if there is no god left in the world

Our bureaucracy and sycophants play a large role in making these false gods into God. Musharraf is F.A. pass (high-school equivalent), a qualification which we use to employ attendants. By a mistaken promotion, he became our commander-in-chief. It nauseated us to see such a dim-wit lecture the highly educated and the experts on economics, education, foreign policy, commerce and industry. And they would bow in front of him and wag their heads and exclaim at his intelligence. The way of an intelligent ruler (or Dictator) is that he doesn't choose his companions on the basis of their flattery but on the basis of their expertise and their knowledge; he listens to their advice; and gives them all the help for the completion of important projects. There was this rumor going around about Musharraf that he complains to his Army friends, "I am saddened to see that if uneducated people cannot understand my arguments, it is ok, but even educated people cannot follow me." The reason is obvious. The ability to pull the trigger of a gun and the ability to make an intelligent statement are clearly different.

Selfish and opportunist people mix heaven and earth in false praise of such rulers, and make them into Plato. These are the people, who because of such actions, weaken the foundations of the country. These people operate like Hitler and his minister of propoganda, and say so many falsehoods that the ruler begins to believe them to be true and begins to consider himself intelligent. The results appear in the destruction of the country. Such was a lie spoken by Mujib ur-Rahman that the money derived from Jute sales, West Pakistan is paving streets with gold in Karachi. It was such a big lie, it was immediately accepted.

I returned to Pakistan in the fourth week of December. This is in 1975, i.e. nearly 33 years ago. I had returned at the request of Bhutto Sahib. Along with my wife and two daughters (aged 7 and 51/2 years), I had intended to return on January 15th. At the sincere request of Bhutto, and for the benefit of the country, I did not hesitate for even a moment: I left the best career, big income, and excellent facilities and stayed behind. I did not receive first salary, 3,000 ruppees monthly, until six months later. And no other compensation from the state:
Strange is God's grant to the exalted ones
Strange are these people, who bear sorrows but keep their hearts alive

Some of the most prominent expert scientists of the country spread falsehoods in the ears of Bhutto Sahib and Ghulam Ishaq Sahib that this young ruffian is here to make a fool out of you. He will enjoy himself for a few days and them take his leave. They explained the intricacies of the technology and the difficulties and that only three developed countries of the world, ie Holland, Germany and England, have the necessary expertise - an expertise they gained after 20 years of hard work and after the expenditure of nearly 2 billion dollars. Bhutto Sahib and Ghlam Ishaq Khan Sahib possessed the power to see the hidden truths. They had no doubts over my capacity for the truth and knew that I had not said a false word to them. Even though some people told me to declare that we will have an atomic bomb in two or three years.

I refused to tell a lie. They may have used this lie as a basis of their foreign policy and been defeated, as a result. And then some famous scientists decided that they could put some two or three thousand tons of explosive materials in some cave and then explode it and Bhutto Sahib will be satisfied and his obsession will be over. Listen. If politicians tell lies, than it is their profession and they can, without any shame, practice their profession in front of the general simple-minded public. But it is incumbent on us scientists and engineers to always keep our profession and our conscious in mind, and speak only the truth. I have always operated on this principle and never told a lie:
Truthful I am, in my word, O Ghalib God is my witness
I tell the truth when I say, I don't lie

The jist is that with the help of my colleagues, I made the impossible, possible. In only eight short years, and for a minuscule cost, made this depressed nation into a nuclear power. Bhutto Sahib, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and General Zia ul-Haq helped without fear and without regret. Any task undertaken with good intentions and with true hard work, is rewarded by Allah. With the help of Honorable Benazir Bhutto, this country became a missile power. At my request, she granted me permission to seek missile technology from China and North Korea and install it here. In this General Mirza Aslam Beg and General Abdul Wahid Kakar played key roles. It is worth thinking that even as countless selfish, bribery-prone, traitors were busy tearing the country apart like hungry wolves, there remained some honest, pious, and skilled people who sacrificed their lives to keep this country on the slow path of progress. With the help of such people, by God's Will, we will make our country into a developed, welfare-based Islamic state.

I have spend the majority of my life, nearly all of my life. When I look back at my life, it is with peace and contentment, that I did my utmost to serve my dear country. I did not do any favors for my country. Instead, it is this nation that granted me all these favors, which I tried to pay back - piece by piece. I gained higher education and technical excellence in Europe for 15 years and I wanted to use that to serve the country in important matters. In 1999, I proposed that we launch a satellite but this high-school pass dictator did not approve my request. Still, I am proud of my service to my country. In addition to providing it with nuclear, and missile, power, I founded countless educational and welfare organizations. From Khyber to Gawadar, the love that exists in people's hearts is my greatest prize. One despicable, traitorous foreign agent donned the costume of Presidency and tried to harm me, but he failed in his dirty deed. Instead he, himself, was evicted from the Presidential house in disgrace. And now this self-styled Commando cannot even set a foot in the street of this country. The public will tear him into little pieces and feed him to the eagles. My relationship is with the 170 million people, and it will always remain. No one can stop me from serving this country. We have, in our front, the golden examples of the sacrifices of Honorable Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. They gave their lives but did not sell their country and became living legends. This is the reason that in "'Til the Dawn", I will reveal my thoughts, now and then:
The flame burns in every light, 'til the dawn

x-posted at CM Read more on this article...

Friday, November 7, 2008



America appears to be swept up in a feel-good moment, but as much as Barack Obama wows people as a public speaker and wordsmith, as much as his candid, inclusive style represents an antidote to everything rotten redolent of George W. Bush, as thrilling as it is for black Americans, who have proudly claimed the mulatto son of a Kansas mother and Kenyan father as one of their own, and by his precedent feel empowered by his victory, the feel-good moment has not yet arrived, or if it has, it is cruelly illusory.

That Obama gives good speeches is a given, his acceptance speech stands as one of the best ever, good enough to rouse even jaded political commentators to goose bumps. Good enough to drive people to tears, not just Americans but even foreigners. I watched the acceptance speech in Kyoto with a classroom full of Japanese students and by the time the 16-minute speech had ended, a good number of students were crying.

“Wow. What did you think of that speech?” I asked.

“I wish we had a leader like that,” said one.
“It’s so powerful when he says ‘Yes We Can’!” chimed another.
“I am so moved, he is kind to everyone,” answered a third.

And despite misgivings rooted in a media analyst’s appreciation for Obama’s truly awesome and awesomely manipulative gift for language, I too was almost speechless after hearing his speech. It was such a sterling performance, so brilliantly crafted and so naturally read from two strategically placed teleprompters that it seemed like he was talking from his heart to his closest friends.

Barring a few tired, over-worn clichés about Wall Street and Main Street, barring the braggadocio of American exceptionalism and the incantatory, quasi-religious refrain “Yes We Can,” Obama’s speech was a speech for the ages, down to the touching review of a century of history as imagined through the eyes of a 106 year old voter, taking us back to “before there were cars on the road and planes in the sky” to the moon landing all the way on to the promise he made to his kids, that a puppy would be accompanying them to the White House.

Finding time to embrace erstwhile bitter rivals John McCain and Sarah Palin, finding time to include every one who didn’t vote for him in his mandate to be the president of one and all, he seemed a man incapable of having enemies.

And therein lies the problem. Obama wants to play nice, and to do that in a contentious, demanding job, he needs to surround himself with people who are not so nice. This became immediately obvious with his first and most important political pick, Rahm Emanuel for White House Chief of Staff.

Emanuel, with his impressive resume as Washington insider, Clinton White House retread, wealthy investment banker, and a harsh reputation as a political enforcer, is not only more Wall Street than Main Street, but rather akin to one of those hard-core Republican political operatives like Karl Rove or Newt Gingrich who Democrats so love to hate.

Politely described in the mainstream press as “aggressive” or “Rahmbo” or “obnoxious” or “combative,” the kind of guy who the New York Times reported as having shoved a steak knife into a restaurant table while expressing anger about political enemies, Emanuel can be as infuriating and blood-curdling as Barack Obama is inclusive and charming.

While still serving in the Clinton White House, Rahm Emanuel gave a talk to a seminar I attended at Harvard. When challenged on matters of policy or ethics, even in a friendly small group discussion over sherry and canapés, he would leap forward at those who dared to question him, clenching his fists with a menacing physicality that was either comical or intimidating depending on how much you liked to fight.

But that’s just personality; it’s the old hawkish ideas he espouses that are troubling. American voters, fed up with the old Washington politics, suffering and anxious for absolution and release after eight years of heartache and disappointment, elected the ultimate anti-Bush only to get an anti-Obama appointed into the most strategic White House office slot, second to the President.

Proximity to an ax-man is not likely to alter President-elect Obama’s almost magical poise and good-humored equilibrium, but it will influence policy and raise judgment questions almost as serious as John McCain’s lapse of judgment in choosing the ditzy Sarah Palin as his running mate.

What further deepens the disappointment with the man who promises to bring peace to a wounded world is his right-hand-man’s hawkish identification with right-wing Israeli politics –Emanuel did a stint with the Israeli military during the first Gulf War—a gung-ho gesture if not a sign of confused allegiance. More generally, Emanuel’s hawkish foreign policy views and his take-no-prisoners approach to domestic foes promises not only to confound hopes for a more equitable and balanced worldview in the White House, but also serves to keep political strife and war on the table. For those who followed the flowering of Obama’s foreign policy thinking over the last few months rather than getting distracted with his flowery, seductively-scented rhetoric, it’s no secret that he is not only not anti-war but actively considering military escalations that even old battle-ax Bush was hesitant to make in tinderbox locations like Pakistan.

The brilliance of Obama’s speaking style lies in his ability to fire up sentimental notions of unity while evading matters of substance. In this sense he is both a better and worse speaker than his speech-giving teacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

From what I’ve seen on TV and You-tube, including “controversial” material that was used against Wright by Republican political operatives, I was impressed by the preacher’s style and forthright substance; you know where he stands even if you can’t agree with all of it. I like his dramatics, his vivid hand gestures, his ability to fire up an audience, his passion for his people. Barack Obama, who was exposed to virtually no such talk in Indonesia and little such talk in Hawaii, chose an effective inner-city mentor and eventually exceeded his mentor in talking the talk of the street and the pulpit, while toning it down and fine-tuning it for political viability and political correctness.

In short, if this was truly a victory for African-Americans, we’d see more Wrights than Rahms at Obama’s side in the White House, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

In the meantime, I hope Obama starts to show some real insight and originality in picking the rest of his administration, --please no more Clinton retreads like Richard Holbrooke or Robert Rubin-- because America, saddled with twin disasters of a failed military policy and a failed economic policy, cannot afford to have the same old hawks and same old investment bankers peddling the same old wine in a new bottle labeled “Yes We Can.”

pc Read more on this article...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rubin: Messages on Obama from my Inbox

Since the election, I've gotten quite a few notes from people around the world in the form of emails, text messages, and Facebook messages. I thought I would share a few:

A Western reporter in Southern Afghanistan:
It [Tuesday] looked like an extraordinary night from here. I was on an embed last week. The failure here is complete. As you know, the challenge in Afghanistan and Pakistan is staggering. Several Afghans made impromptu declarations to me today that Obama's victory filled them with hope. We may have a window here, albeit a very small one.
A senior official of the Afghan government:
I read the speech of Mr. Obama, "Yes we can". It is great. It seems his charisma, speaking and oral skills have played a great part in his victory. Although the speech is largely for American audience, it is appealing to everybody in any corner of the world. I also read Senator McCain's speech. It shows how much maturity is in the US elections. I always thought should Obama lose the contest, US will remain a superpower but not necessarily from a moral point of view. Now however the US can be an example of morality in politics for many many countries.
A senior official in Tehran (two messages):
(1) Hope all is well with you and your family. I want to say congratulations. Hope CHANGE could bring better for all.
(2) I know you are busy in these days but my wife that is following your presidential election really impressed and insisted me to convey her warmest congratulation to you and your family. When she saw the emotion of your people after the result of the election in the TV she told me, she remember our people emotion when Dr. Khatami won the first period of his presidency.
A photographer in Paris:
yes you could and you did it bravo and thanks for all of us.
A Kenyan UN official from the same ethnic group, Luo, as Obama’s father, from Kigali:
Well done!!! America has made history! There is partying across the continent and tomorrow is a public holiday in Kenya! I will miss it as I am in Rwanda!
Another UN official, in Sudan, with the same surname as the Kenyan above, to whom I mistakenly wrote at first:
You may be surprised to know that I am a Sudanese Luo. But the Luo we speak is just the same as the Acholi of Uganda. You mention eating dinner in Nairobi with [O., the Kenyan UN official] in 1998. Oooh! that's when I was just 18 years old. Anyway am a different O. in Sudan. I pray, Obama has to win, and in Jesus name he will win!
An Afghan journalist at BBC Persian Service:
Many many congratulations. I’m so happy for Americans and the world. You have made the history. The world is behind you.
From a colleague in Saudi Arabia:
All brothers saying Tabrik. See you soon.
From a Pakistani friend wandering around Europe flogging his book:
It’s a bloody landslide! Thank God, he won. Barney, don’t accept anything without consulting me first please. I don’t trust your judgments on these things.
From an Italian colleague:
Subject: I love America!

Last January I pledged that, should Barak Obama be elected President of the United States of America, I would finally become a citizen of this great country. Tonight, after eight years of doubts and disappointments, I found again the country I fell in love with when I decided to make it my home twelve years ago. The country where I decided to raise my family. A country where everyone has an opportunity, really. Tonight, I am extremely proud of the United States, and of everything it stands for. I want to be part of it, today and forever. Tomorrow morning, I will mail out the application for naturalization that my students brought to me at the beginning of the semester.
From a young Afghan from Kabul, currently studying in India:
Congrats Barney. Sir, The world is all yours, coz this is now Obama who is leading the horse!!! Let's see how much his so-called "CHANGE" would affect the lives of innocent Afghans.

Read more on this article...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rubin: Hitchens on McCain and Khalidi

I don't always agree with Christopher Hitchens, but it is uniquely satisfying to read him when I do. His rambunctious counter-attack on McCain-Palin for their shameful (shameless?) slur on Rashid Khalidi is worth savoring. Read more on this article...