Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

Promises, promises: Turkey as borrower and proxy

December 9, 2014

In 1936, two months after arriving at Istanbul University from Hitler’s Germany, the philologist Erich Auerbach reported back to Walter Benjamin in Paris, offering his first impressions of Kemalist Turkey.

Charmed by his ‘glorious’ new house on the Bosphorus, Auerbach viewed the cultural policies of the ‘sympathetic autocrat’ in Ankara more warily.

Official replacement of Arabic by Latin script, and the ‘purification’ of alien loanwords from the language, seemed to the German scholar to have brought cultural deracination.

The Turkish young had been severed from any link to their Persian, Ottoman and Arabic past:

They have thrown all tradition overboard here, and they want to build a thoroughly rationalized—extreme Turkish nationalist—state of the European sort.

The process is going fantastically and spookily fast: already there is hardly anyone who knows Arabic or Persian, and even Turkish texts of the past century will quickly become incomprehensible since the language is being modernized and at the same time newly oriented on “Ur-Turkish,” and it is being written with Latin characters…

According to official mythology Turks were, indeed, the very originators of human language and spreaders of civilization to the world.

A few months later, Auerbach sketched out the programme of the Kemalist state and its ‘fanatically anti-traditional nationalism’:

Rejection of all existing Islamic cultural heritage, the establishment of a fantastic relation to a primal Turkish identity, technological modernization in the European sense, in order to triumph against a hated and yet admired Europe with its own weapons: hence, the preference for European-educated emigrants as teachers, from whom one can learn without the threat of foreign propaganda.

Result: nationalism in the extreme accompanied by the simultaneous destruction of the historical national character…

Istanbul itself was a ‘a wonderfully situated but also unpleasant and rough city consisting of two different parts’:

The old Stambool, of Greek and Turkish origin, which still preserves much of the patina of its historic landscape, and the “new” Pera, a caricature and completion of the European colonization of the 19th century, now in complete collapse.

A year later Auerbach again complained, this time to Johannes Oeschger, of ‘a purist nationalism that destroys the living tradition, and that bases itself in part on completely fantastical conceptions of ur-times, and in part on modern-rationalist ideas’:

Piety is combated, Islamic culture despised as an alien Arabic infiltration, one wants to be at the same time modern and purely Turkish, and it has gone so far that through the abolition of the old script, through the elimination of Arabic loan words and their replacement by Turkish neologisms and partly by European loan words, the language has been totally destroyed: no young person is any longer able to read the older literature — and there reigns a spiritual lack of direction that is extremely dangerous.

In 1926 Kemal had notoriously imported Mussolini’s penal code from Italy, embracing it as ‘compatible with the needs of our century’.

Abolition of the Caliph, suppression of dervishes, etc., was necessary, Kemal proclaimed, ‘in order to prove that our nation as a whole was no primitive nation, filled with superstitions and prejudice.’ The fez had ‘sat on our heads as a sign of ignorance, of fanaticism, of hatred to progress and civilization.’

Thus spoke the great Gazi (the term itself a religious honorific) in his six-day, 36-hour speech to the Turkish assembly.

He is pictured below at a blackboard marked with the new alphabet.

Kemal 1928 blackboard

By the mid-1930s, placed in European context, Turkish autocracy presented alarming signs to the émigré Auerbach.

What was ‘not yet a certainty for everyone’ in fascist Italy and Germany, ‘steps forth here in complete nakedness’:

The language reform—at once fantastical ur-Turkish (“free” from Arabic and Persian influences) and modern-technical—has made it certain that no one under 25 can any longer understand any sort of religious, literary, or philosophical text more than ten years old and that, under the pressure of the Latin script, which was compulsorily introduced a few years ago, the specific properties of the language are rapidly decaying…

I am more and more convinced that the contemporary world situation is nothing other than the cunning of providence to lead us along a bloody and circuitous route to the Internationale of Triviality and Esperanto culture.

I thought this already in Germany and Italy, especially in the horrifying inauthenticity of Blut und Boden propaganda, but here for the first time it has become a certainty for me.

Such was not merely the familiar tendency of German exiles, easily discomposed, apt to detect worrying similarities to Hitler’s regime in places of refuge.

Across Europe, the invented traditions of late-Victorian nationalism — the ceremony of flags, anthems, rituals and insignia — as well as compulsory schooling in a common language, the fusing of national markets by domestic transport and communication infrastructure, and the assumption by national bureaucracies of administrative and tax-raising power over a henceforth homogenized territorial jurisdiction, had famously converted peasants into Frenchmen.

In both the European metropoles and their colonial possessions, ‘modernization’ proceeded through the dragooning of diverse peoples into a unitary national culture. ‘Annihilate the patois!’ ran the project.

Yet the particular grandiosity and vacuity of Turkish nationalism after 1923 rested on a blank slate, both territorial and cultural, created by erasure and ethnic cleansing.

In the same year that Kemal abolished the Caliphate, launched his Kulturkampf and imposed the Turkish Republic’s enlightened new constitution, he addressed an audience in Adana:

The Armenians have no rights whatsoever in this fertile land. The country belongs to you, the Turks. This country has been Turkish in history, and thus is Turkish and will eternally live as Turkish…

The Armenians and others have no rights in this place. These fertile places are a profoundly and quintessentially Turkish country.

In 1916 the grand vizier Talaat Pasha had issued an edict concerning the ‘Turkification’ of assets confiscated from Armenians deported and killed during the genocide.

Looted wealth was to be assigned to the local Muslim elite, urban merchants and peasantry:

The movable property left by the Armenians should be conserved for long-term preservation, and for the sake of an increase of Muslim businesses in our country, companies need to be established strictly made up of Muslims. Movable property should be given to them under suitable conditions that will guarantee the business’ steady consolidation.

The founder, the management and the representatives should be chosen from honourable leaders and the elite, and to allow tradesmen and agriculturists to participate in its dividends, the vouchers need to be half a lira or one lira and registered to their names to preclude that the capital falls in foreign hands.

The growth of entrepreneurship in the minds of Muslim people needs to be monitored, and this endeavour and the results of its implementation needs to be reported to the Ministry step by step.

The plunder of Armenian property in Anatolia included farms, houses, livestock, factories, workshops, plantations, shops, schools, churches, tools and equipment — all officially designated as ‘abandoned properties’ after the land had been denuded of Armenians, massacred under cover of war.

Confiscated Armenian buildings by province 1Confiscated Armenian buildings by province 2

Under Kemal, agents of genocide were rewarded for services to the fledgling nation, with the president’s own official residence lifted from an Ankara merchant:

[The] family of district governor of Muş, Servet Bey, who in 1915 had annihilated the Armenians of that city, was awarded a composite package of Armenian property.

The family of Cemal Azmi, the murderous governor of Trabzon, was also assigned considerable ‘reparation’, specifically from Armenian properties.

Hafız Abdullah Avni, a hotel owner who had collaborated in the genocide in Erzincan, was executed for his crimes in 1920 by the Istanbul tribunal. His wife, Hatice Hanım, was compensated with a house and a field from the Armenian villages of Şuhe and Kani.

The fanatical district governor of Boğazlıyan, Mehmed Kemal Bey, had left behind a family in Yozgat. They received a large apartment and a house from the available Armenian property in that area.

Dr. Bahaeddin Shakir Bey’s family received a house in the upmarket Şişli district of Istanbul.

The former district governor of Urfa, Mehmed Nusret Bey, had played a key role during the genocide and was executed in 1919 for his crimes. His wife, Hayriye Hanım, was compensated with a shop and a house in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, on Cadde-i Kebîr (the current İstiklâl Caddesi) on numbers 264 and 266. The property was located in the Aznavur Han and originally belonged to a merchant named Bedros.

Cemal Pasha’s heirs and family were compensated with the property of Vicken Hokachian, a merchant in Istanbul. A shop and a strip of land in Beyoğlu across the French cemeteryas large as 1,450 square metres, was assigned to his wife Senice, his daughter Kamran, his sons Ahmed Rüşdü, Hasan Necdet, Hasan Behçet, his big sister Şaziye and little sister Bakire.

The list is long…

All are signed by President Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his cabinet of veteran Young Turks…

Along with the local Turkish population, new Muslim settlers to Anatolia (from the Balkans and Caucasus) picked over the booty left behind in suddenly vacant Armenian villages:

In 1915 the amount of property allocated to settlers was 20 545 buildings, 267 536 acres of land, 76 942 acres of vineyards, 7 812 acres of gardens, 703 491 acres of olive groves, 4 573 acres of mulberry gardens, 97 acres of orange fields, 5 carts, 4 390 animals, 2 912 agricultural implements, 524 788 planting seeds.

Forced expulsion across the Aegean of nearly one million Anatolian Greeks in 1923 was capped off, in 1955, by Istanbul’s anti-Greek pogrom.

The objective, in the words of the Turkish Army in 1922, was that Greek and Armenian ‘material ties to Anatolia will be disconnected.’

By 1924 the non-Muslim population of Anatolia, 20 percent in 1912, was down to 2 percent.

Kemal in Smyrna 1922

Kemal in Smyrna 1922 more

One upshot of this severing was that Turkish nationalism, inheriting razed earth, would be likewise unbound by preexisting constraints or obstacles.

Kemal’s state-led modernization, leaving property relations untouched and making no attempt at agrarian reform, would aim to drive an ethnocultural clean sweep through the smouldering Ottoman ruins.

The fanciful mythology of ur-Turkey, about which Auerbach complained, was both compensation and boast by a new state whose territory had been emptied at birth by the killing of one-tenth of its inhabitants, whose founding act was the expulsion of another tenth, followed by the internal displacement, ‘Turkification’ and bloody repression of Kurds, another one-fifth of the population.

Dersim massacre 1937

While adulation of the national founder remains a mainstay, over the decades other elements of the Kemalist recipe have been trimmed, adapted and discarded according to the exigencies of the hour.

Yet the homogenizing element in the republic’s founding ideology has endured as a bedrock: official pursuit, according to the Interior Minister in 1934, of ‘a country speaking with one language, thinking in the same way and sharing the same sentiment.’

The confessional turn in the electoral scene, most pronounced since the 1980 military coup and the premiership of Turgut Özal, has brought sharp modifications to Turkey’s public life: growing numbers of religious schools, flagrant displays of devoutness, the Crescent rivalling the sword for symbolic preeminence, as a powerful executive branch stamps its mark on all agencies and directorates of the state.

Movement towards EU membership, meanwhile, has obliged some ecumenical gestures and concessions to Kurdish and Alevi cultural rights. Erdoğan lifted the state of emergency in the southeast, and wound back language proscription in 2004.

But the basic formula is unchanged, Copenhagen criteria notwithstanding. Education, bureaucracy and media remain zones free of linguistic or cultural impurity. The Armenian genocide, likewise, is officially a non-topic.

In today’s Turkey, the decidedly post-secular AKP leadership nonetheless vaunts an integralist slogan of ‘one nation, one flag, one religion, one language’, and a notorious penal article that makes ‘insulting Turkishness’ a criminal offence.

This detour through the recent history of Turkish nationalism helps to clarify current arrangements, explaining how matters reached such a pass in the Caucasus, Black Sea and Caspian basin, Cyprus and eastern Mediterranean, Balkans and Levant.

These are the former contested borderlands of Russian tsar, Ottoman sultan and Persian autocracy.

Today, in the words of its prime minister, the AKP’s former foreign minister and eminent grand strategist, Turkey is ‘a country with a close land basin, the epicentre of the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus, the centre of Eurasia in general and is in the middle of the Rimland belt cutting across the Mediterranean to the Pacific.’

Turkey Stratfor

Within elite circles this view, at least publicly, has its detractors.

Turkey, Nicolas Sarkozy once declared on the campaign trail, ‘is in Asia Minor’:

I will not explain to little French school children that the borders of Europe extend to Iraq and Syria.

Once safely installed in the Élysée Palace, Le Pen’s voters having been tossed a few verbal sops, the French president’s pedagogic concerns evaporated.

Sarkozy treated his population to a demonstration of Dassault’s aerial might over North Africa, later striking a triumphant pose atop a Benghazi podium.

His Socialist successor extended the Libyan campaign to Mali and the Central African Republic.

A ‘Europe of values’ (Blair’s oily phrase, found useful by Cameron and Sarkozy) acknowledges few boundaries. If the Maghreb, why not Thrace?

The European continent, the concept a recent invention, may be demarcated however you like. But the frontiers of Christendom are firm. They do not extend to the Euphrates.

Ocean littorals, on the other hand, are free to expand or retreat as required, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization supplemented with whatever ‘add-on’ Washington wishes for its Eurasian beachhead.

Turkey’s frontiers with Syria, Iraq and Iran thus present NATO with a boundless operational vista in the Mashreq and beyond.

Referring to ‘challenges we’re facing in the east and the south’, today’s incoming secretary-general says: ‘NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to.’

US Patriot missiles may thus be placed east of Jerusalem in the name of European and North American security. (The US air base at Incirlik is itself built on expropriated Armenian land. The Air Force’s approved history of the site ends discreetly in 1921).

And, if today’s armed conflict in the Levant threatens Ankara’s security, ‘NATO will be there’, says the secretary-general.

The ‘post-Cold War enlargement of NATO and EU’, said the US Vice President earlier this year, ‘is not complete, in my view.’

What task remains undone, what destiny unfulfilled?

To the post-1923 status quo that had prevailed in the Black Sea-Caucasus-Central Asia region following the collapse of Ottoman and tsarist empires, the retrenchment of Moscow’s power since 1991 has threatened disruption.

Washington’s objective, laid out unblushingly by its strategists, is to hinder the local powers from reaching convivial terms, and to prevent, at all costs, any state outside its own military alliance structure — Moscow, Tehran, Beijing — from attaining regional predominance.

Brzezinski Turkey Russia Iran

There exists, explained Turkey’s current prime minister Davutoğlu to the US Council on Foreign Relations, ‘a compatibility’ between this need of the United States and Ankara’s ‘unique’ ability, arising from its convenient location.

Washington is a non-Eurasian power that hopes to remain the dominant power on the Eurasian continent. Turkey can help ‘close this gap of geographical discontinuity’:

Turkey is right at the center of Afro-Euro-Asia, having multidimensional characters of geopolitics. Turkey is a European country, an Asian country, a Middle Eastern country, Balkan country, Caucasian country, neighbor to Africa, Black Sea country, Caspian Sea… all these geopolitical challenges are in the agenda of American global strategy…

The United States needs allies in Africa-Eurasia, and Turkey needs a cooperation with a global power.

Thus has Europe’s Eastern Question been resolved, if only temporarily and after a fashion.

To the apparent satisfaction of the continent’s elite and with Washington’s benevolent approval, Ankara’s EU candidature was placed in prolonged abeyance, even as Turkey assumed new regional prominence, becoming NATO’s geographic fulcrum for ‘out of area’ missions in the eastern Mediterranean, Caucasus and West Asia.

On its eastern border, the Turkish state acts as faithful proxy in Syria, seeking to overthrow Assad’s Iran-friendly government. In the Black Sea basin, it facilitates continued thrusts and harassing operations against Moscow.

Washington, seeking to conduct a proxy war at two removes in Syria, has relied on its local agents in Ankara and the Gulf monarchies to supply weapons, funds, training and cross-border transit.

Turkey’s intelligence chief was recorded, in conversation with Davutoğlu, musing over how best to ‘make up a cause of war’ with the Syrian government by staging a false-flag operation against Ankara.

Atmospherics from the US Vice President, aimed plainly at a domestic rather than diplomatic audience, convey the nature of Turkey’s helpful efforts in the Levant:

The Turks, who are great friends — I have a great relationship with Erdoğan , whom I spend a lot of time with. The Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing?

They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world…

Now they’re sealing their border.

To Ankara’s role as NATO proxy is added that of ’emerging market’ debtor.

Since 2002, under the AKP Turkey has become increasingly dependent on short-term external borrowing, mostly portfolio investment in search of speculative gains. This has increased financial fragility, exposing Turkey to asset-price inflation and the risk of worse if capital is withdrawn.

International borrowing rests ultimately on a promise to pay US dollars. Issues of the Turkish domestic currency are a form of debt: the credibility of the borrower depends on its ability to pay the ‘best’ money: the liabilities of the global hegemon.

hierarchy of money

Should Turkish growth founder, capital inflow cease, and local banks become unable to refinance their debts, international creditors will no doubt be found in a compassionate mood. A stabilization loan, arriving swiftly, will come attached with less onerous conditions than those applied to Cyprus.

Turkey, as a ‘geopolitical pivot,’ is too important for the IMF (behind it the US Treasury) to countenance domestic upheaval on any great scale.

Just as credibility of the Turkish lira rests on a promise to pay US dollars (the ultimate international means of settling debts), behind Turkish arms Washington sits in poised reserve, ready to back up its NATO proxy whenever Ankara’s Ostpolitik in the Mediterranean and Levant goes awry.

In NATO parlance, this is known as ‘extended deterrence.’ US solicitude is manifested in the form of radar installations (since 2011) and (since 1961) nuclear missiles deployed on Turkish territory, aimed at Russia and Iran.

On this foundation, grandiose regional ambitions flourish. The latter focus on Turkey’s strategic potential as an energy corridor, reducing Moscow’s bargaining power in Europe.

Turkey is Iraq’s ‘gateway to the European Union’, Davutoğlu has noted. And ‘Erbil is our gateway to Basra.’

In Istanbul, three months ago, the World Economic Forum held a Special Meeting on Unlocking Resources for Regional Development, the Turkish president and prime minister contributing to that noble cause by demanding, in keynote addresses, armed overthrow over the Syrian government.

There an Emirati oil CEO, with investments centred on Iraqi Kurdistan, suggested that ‘if Turkey became a price-setting centre for the region [that] could really bring on much more supply from Middle East resources, which would not only meet Turkish needs, but go on to meet European needs as well.’

Ankara’s energy minister deplored political difficulties in Iraq and Iran: ‘You can’t have a growing economy and a shrinking energy sector.’

A fortnight ago the Atlantic Council held its Energy and Economics Summit in Istanbul.

There the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, long touted by the Energy Ministry as ‘the natural direction for exports of hydrocarbons from the region [of Iraqi Kurdistan] to the world’s market’, received a boost.

Alongside President Erdoğan in Ankara, the Russian leader announced that Gazprom’s planned South Stream pipeline was to be abandoned, after EU thwarting efforts and US sanctions.

The US Vice President was on hand to salute the news, calling for ‘development of a strategic pipeline from Basra to Ceyhan.’

The Turkish state, its line of strategic credit secure in Washington, has leveraged its momentary good fortune to pursue regional initiatives otherwise beyond its reach. A permanent military presence in Cyprus has been declared not negotiable. EU accession, less urgent, has been allowed patiently to simmer, safe for another day.

Yet what realities lie behind the salesmanship about ‘Anatolian Tigers’ and a ‘boom on the Bosphorus’?

In the past three decades, the Turkish economy’s capital-labour ratio, or capital intensity, rose at a distinctly lower rate (6.6% annually from 1964-1978, compared to an average of 3.7% over the next thirty years).

Capital intensity Turkey

Taking account of the business cycle, there has been a steady fall in the output-capital ratio, or what may be termed ‘capital productivity.’

Capital productivity - Turkey

Technical change has followed a labour-saving, capital-using pattern familiar elsewhere.

Labour productivity and output-capital ratio in Turkey

Turkey’s development, all in all, has been modest. Agriculture retains a high share of employment (24%); female labour-force participation is abysmal (29%, below Sudan and well below Armenia).

State-led modernization by a republic descended from one of Europe’s largest imperial powers, with a population greater than France or Britain at its disposal, has produced unscintillating results.

Not needing to displace a landlord class in any agrarian revolution (small independent farms long predominated), nor did industrialization of the classical modernizing sort follow.

The Turkish army — the most numerous in Europe besides Russia’s, and occupying Cyprus since 1974 — and a traditionally hefty state officialdom absorb much of the investible surplus. The familiar features of the externally indebted economy — credit expansion, consumption growth, speculative bubbles in real estate and asset prices — further discourage productive expenditure. Patronage networks and political clientelism siphon the residue, all impeding local formation of a substantial capital-goods sector.

Small wonder, amid such frustrations, that the consoling appeal of religion plays a growing part in Turkish electoral politics.

Yet not every plan has gone awry.

Kemal’s language reforms were recently described as a ‘catastrophic success’. A linguist noted, amid the general poverty of Turkish expression, that a mere 26 years after it was delivered, Kemal’s great speech already needed to be ‘translated into the present-day language’ so that it could be intelligible to the young.


Dollars and pence

June 24, 2011

This paper from the Levy Economics Institute offers a simply explained account, from a Chartalist perspective, of the US dollar’s unique and historically unprecedented status, plus some its consequences for e.g. funding defence expenditure:

[Even] the hegemon suffered from one particular constraint during the Gold Standard period and in the previous international monetary systems. Even though the pound was the key reserve currency, it was fixed to gold. In other words, debt was ultimately redeemable in an asset that was not directly controlled by the monetary authority. Default was a possibility, even if a remote one…

In fact, since the closing of the gold window the dollar became the first world fiat money. For the first time the international currency is akin to the domestic currency for the hegemon, since its central bank can always buy assets denominated in the domestic currency and finance government debt. There is no balance-of-payments constraint for the hegemonic country and the principles of functional finance apply on a global basis. In this sense, it is possible for the hegemonic state, in this case, the United States, to be a global debtor (as national states are in their domestic economies) and to provide a default-risk-free asset to facilitate global accumulation…

The reason the dollar remains and will remain the key currency is not that its value is stable, as Metallists would argue is necessary for fiat money, but because the United States does not incur debt in other currencies and the institutions that manage macroeconomic policy guarantee that a default in dollars cannot take place. This creates the capacity for the United States to incur international debt without any reasonable limit.

Note that an important part of that privilege is associated with the fact that key commodities, like oil, are priced in dollars in international markets. Not only does that imply that there cannot be an insufficient source of dollars to import key commodities, but also a depreciation of the dollar does not have the impact of increasing the price of imports.

These circumstances did not come about merely because Nixon ended the dollar’s convertibility for gold in 1971. Protecting the dollar’s special status, and preserving the privileges Washington thereby accrues, has required statecraft using military, diplomatic and other blunt tools.

In 1974 OPEC countries held around 15% of their foreign-exchange reserves in sterling. Following the oil price spike, this became an enormous proportion of total sterling holdings. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait alone held £1.8 billion out of global holdings of £4.9 billion, i.e. more than one-third of all sterling reserves.

A previous post described how in July 1974 US Treasury Secretary William Simon, together with State and Commerce Department officials, pressured the central banks and finance ministries of OPEC states to convert revenue from oil exports into purchases of US Treasury securities outside the regular auction.

Through diplomatic, commercial and security arm-twisting, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency was dissuaded from what the CIA called a ‘modest diversification program’ of its foreign-reserve portfolio. Lack of cooperation, US officials reportedly told their Gulf allies, would be interpreted as an ‘act of war.’

Along with explicit commitment to its regional military umbrella, Washington agreed in June 1974 to ‘supply of the Kingdom’s requirements for defensive purposes.’ Washington agreed to provide over $2 billion of military hardware to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (on top of $4 billion, including F-14s, to the Shah’s Iran). The Saudi National Guard Modernization Programme commenced in 1975 with the contract awarded to US firm Vinnell (now a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman).

Riyadh was thus convinced to invoice oil sales exclusively in dollars, rather than in a basket of currencies including the British pound. (Around 25% of oil sales had hitherto been conducted using sterling.) Along with regular purchases of US Treasury issues in competitive auctions, the SAMA agreed in December 1974 to confidentially buy a further $2.5 billion of T-bills.

These secret dealings secured Washington an immense strategic victory. Unlike its rivals, the United States could now finance its global military programme, and imports of oil and manufactured goods, without external funding constraints.

The switch of oil exporters to the dollar precipitated a run on the pound. Over the next two years OPEC central banks reduced their UK Treasury bill holdings by £2 billion. The UK Treasury and media began to speak of a balance-of-payments crisis.

By 1976, on the advice of Treasury and Chancellor Denis Healey, the Labour Government was conducting negotiations with the IMF for a loan.

For the IMF read US Treasury – which at this time held 20% of voting rights and a veto. The conditions on Britain’s loan were thus drafted with the advice of Treasury Secretary Simon and Undersecretary Edwin Yeo, together with other officials from that department, the Federal Reserve (including Fed Chairman Arthur Burns) and Commerce Department:

In the last days of the IMF negotiations, Simon flew to London to meet secretly with Bank of England and UK Treasury officials and get their appraisal of where the Labour Cabinet stood. To maintain clandestinity, the meeting took place at an exclusive London tailor’s and cost Simon the price of three suits — well worth it, he said.

Simon had made his first million as a bond trader before he was thirty; Undersecretary Yeo was a former Pittsburgh banker. The connexions between Wall Street and the City of London undoubtedly smoothed their path. But it was only in their capacity as American state officials that Simon and Yeo could play the role they did.

It was not easy. Edwin Yeo later described how the Treasury had ‘sweated blood’ to get its way, not least against Henry Kissinger and the State Department who favoured gentler handling of such a key Cold War ally. As William Rodgers, Simon’s successor at the Treasury, later put it: ‘We all had a feeling it could come apart in a quite serious way . . . it was a choice between Britain remaining in the liberal financial system of the West as opposed to a radical change of course. I think if that had happened the whole system would have begun to fall apart. So we tended to see it in cosmic terms.’

This was a period of intense struggle between US federal departments of Treasury and State for primacy in international financial policymaking. By 1977 Treasury came out on top due its control over the institutional lever of the IMF. This body – and thus the US Treasury and its Wall Street constituency – would gain in resources and global influence in subsequent decades.

The loan conditions the IMF outlined to Downing Street involved a £2.5 billion reduction in public expenditure over the next two years, targeting of monetary aggregates, etc.

Members of Prime Minister Callaghan’s ministry blanched at these terms. They sought, instead, support for the pound from West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and his Bundesbank. Meanwhile Brent Snowcroft, then National Security Advisor, described a possible British turn towards trade protection and capital controls as ‘the single greatest threat to the Western world.’

As it turned out, the loan was never taken up, though the would-be creditor’s conditions were imposed: Healey had sent a letter of intent accepting borrowers’ terms.

And this too produced another stunning strategic victory for Washington in the mid-1970s. Austerity terms brought about the destruction of the British Labour Party’s Bevanite wing, the ascent of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative victory of 1979, and the destruction of the UK’s manufacturing base, just as North Sea oil was about to come online and Britain became the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter.

In several ways, too, this was a triumph for the US Security State in particular.

Various intelligence figures (including CIA counterespionage chief James Jesus Angleton, who apparently thought Prime Minister Harold Wilson a Soviet mole) did not consider high-ranking Labour figures sufficiently trustworthy or committed to Atlanticist goals.

For decades the CIA had cultivated right-wing trade-union bureaucrats and MPs (the ‘Gaitskellite wing’ of Labour) via the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and these were the preferred satraps. Throughout the mid-1970s MI5 played a substantial role in destabilizing Harold Wilson’s Labour government (and Ted Heath’s Conservative leadership), with disinformation and smears leaked to the press in Northern Ireland.

Amid a growing sense of unease in elite circles following the 1974 miner’s strike and several years of high inflation, dubious figures like Airey Neave and George Kennedy Young helped to parachute Thatcher into the Conservative leadership. The disorder brought about by structural adjustment – freeze on public-sector pay leading to the Winter of Discontent, etc. – then brought Thatcher to power.

The split of the Gaitskellites from the Labour Party, and the final defeat of the figures around Tony Benn, led ultimately to the ascendancy of New Labour and the impeccably Atlanticist Tony Blair. (Meanwhile the ‘Europeanist’ wing of the Conservatives, their avatar in Cabinet being Michael Heseltine, was held at bay.)

Not coincidently, around the same time Australia saw the rise of a new cohort of Washington-inclined, staunchly pro-Zionist ALP leaders – Hawke, Keating, Beazley, Gillard – as well as the likes of Paul Howes, Mark Arbib and Michael Cooney.

The geostrategic consequences were many, but within Britain these measures also involved reasserting the privileges of the propertied classes against those of the employed population and related social layers. For this see Prime Minister Callaghan’s extraordinary speech, in September 1976, to the Labour Party Conference:

When I say there is no other way, that does not mean that it is going to be quick or easy. That has been promised before. It is neither. Britain has lived for too long on borrowed time, borrowed money, borrowed ideas…

For too long, perhaps ever since the war, we postponed facing up to fundamental choices and fundamental changes in our society and in our economy. That is what I mean when I say we have been living on borrowed time. For too long this country – all of us, yes, this Conference too – has been ready to settle for borrowing money abroad to maintain our standards of life, instead of grappling with the fundamental problems of British industry…

The cosy world we were told would go on for ever, where full employment would be guaran­teed by a stroke of the Chancellor’s pen, cutting taxes, deficit spending, that cosy world is gone. Yesterday delegates pointed to the first sorry fruits: a high rate of unemployment. The rate of unemployment today – there is no need for me to say this to you – cannot be justified on any grounds, least of all the human dignity of those involved. But Mr. Chairman and comrades, I did not become a member of our Party, still less did I become the Leader of our Party, to pro­pound shallow analyses and false remedies for fundamental economic and social problems.

When we reject unemployment as an economic instrument – as we do – and when we reject also superficial remedies, as socialists must, then we must ask ourselves unflinchingly what is the cause of high unemployment. Quite simply and unequivocally, it is caused by paying ourselves more than the value of what we produce. There are no scapegoats. This is as true in a mixed economy under a Labour Government as it is under capitalism or under communism. It is an absolute fact of life which no Government, be it left or right, can alter. Of course in Eastern Europe you cannot price yourself out of your job, because you cannot withdraw your labour. So those Governments can at least guarantee the appearance of full employment. But that is not the democratic way.

We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession, and increase employ­ment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and that in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of infla­tion into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step. Higher inflation followed by higher unemployment. We have just escaped from the highest rate of inflation this country has known; we have not yet escaped from the consequences: high unemployment…

Now we must get back to fundamentals. First, overcoming unemployment now unambiguously depends on our labour costs being at least com­parable with those of our major competitors. Second, we can only become competitive by having the right kind of investment at the right kind of level, and by significantly improving the productivity of both labour and capital. Third, we will fail – and I say this to those who have been pressing about public expenditure, to which I will come back – if we think we can buy our way out by printing what Denis Healey calls ‘confetti money’ to pay ourselves more than we produce. I do not care what economic system we live in – at least, I do care very much – but the moral I want to draw is this that whatever system we live under these fundamentals are at the heart of the standard of life of the people of the country concerned, and we ignore them at our peril. They are also at the heart of the Social Contract and of our industrial strategy.

Britain is now at a watershed. We have the chance to make real and fundamental choices about priorities which are absolutely necessary to achieve a growing and prosperous manufac­turing industry, with all the advantages and easements that can follow…

[The] first priority of the Labour Government must be a determined attack on inflation. That remains; we have halved it in the last twelve months but we must do more yet. The Government’s objec­tive must be to reach inflation rates comparable with those of our major competitors by the end of next year. We are already getting there….

Let me add one more thing about how to get a strong manufacturing sector of industry. Hold on to your seats. The willingness of industry to invest in new plant and machinery requires, of course, that we overcome inflation, but also that industry is left with sufficient funds and has suf­ficient confidence to make the new investments. When I say they must have sufficient funds, I mean they must he able to earn a surplus and that is a euphemism for saying they must be able to make a profit.

Whether you call it a surplus or a profit, it is necessary for a healthy industrial system, whether it operates in a socialist economy, a mixed economy or a capitalist economy. If industry cannot retain and generate sufficient funds as a result of its operations, and replace old plant and machinery, then you will whistle in vain for the investment and we shall continue to slide downhill. These are elementary facts of life. They are known to every trade unionist. Who would they sooner go and negotiate with when they want an increase in pay: a firm that is bankrupt or a firm that is doing well and generat­ing a good surplus?

The primary concern of our industrial strategy and our economic policy for the next three years is quite simple. The strategy and the priority is to create more wealth, and to do it with the agree­ment and the support of the trade union move­ment.

Soon after this speech, however, it became clear that the British Treasury forecasts of public-sector borrowing requirements and the current-account deficit, used by Chancellor Denis Healey to persuade Cabinet of the looming emergency, had been overblown.

The balance-of-payments constraint rapidly receded. Production from Britain’s North Sea oilfields had begun in 1975, and within three years the largest field, Forties, had reached peak daily output.

With export receipts flowing, the new Conservative government allowed the pound to appreciate, deliberately wiping out much manufacturing industry.

From late 1979 sectoral output fell off a cliff; by 1982 the number of workers employed in manufacturing had dropped by 1.5 million.

During the 1980s the trade surplus and the removal of regulatory controls allowed the export of capital: firms and institutional investors buying up overseas assets, both equity and bonds, and the City of London increasing its social influence and control over policy making.

The return to dominance of the financial sector had several implications.

The first was that the earnings of industrial and commercial firms retained after interest and dividends had been paid out was reduced. This meant less was available for productive investment.

The following two charts show (1) the reduced share of profits that went towards productive expenditure; (2) the effect this had on growth in the fixed capital stock. For several years gross investment in buildings, machinery and equipment was insufficient even to cover depreciation and the total real-asset base contracted.

Slow growth in the stock of accumulated capital raised the output/capital ratio, increasing the rate of profit from its mid-1970s nadir.

Over time, the high proportion of the surplus drained by unproductive expenditure, and the consequent slow productivity growth, has made British industry high-cost and uncompetitive, leading to persistent trade deficits over the past two decades as domestic energy production has begun to decline.

This has helped British integration into the European continental economy. The highly unproductive offshore island, in which the financial sector has a disproportionately large weight, neatly complements the export-oriented Mitteleuropa centred on Germany and incorporating Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Mohun and Veneziani

This closer integration of Britain with mainland Europe has not threatened the Atlantic alliance or damaged Washington’s overriding objective, pursued via the NATO umbrella, of preventing the European superstate from developing the military capacity to independently pursue its own strategic or ‘security’ interests. Quite the opposite.

Washington has since the 1970s encouraged Britain’s economic and diplomatic incorporation into Europe, where it functions as a beachhead and Trojan horse. With the opportunity (and risk) presented by North Sea oil, from the mid-1970s this project took the form of tempting a wing of the British ruling elite to weaken the labour movement by destroying domestic industry and running down the capital stock.

This task achieved, the inveterately pro-US Thatcher was subsequently despatched when her Europhobia became an obstacle to further progress, and she was eventually replaced by the Europhiles of New Labour, foremost among them Blair, Peter Mandelson, and George Robertson, among whom the latter two were notable members of the British-American Project.

Thus, notwithstanding its current pose in the forefront of the “international community”, Britain is a third-rate power. Not only is it dependent on the US in military, intelligence and strategic matters, but its chronic current-account deficits now reflect Britain’s subordination to the leading EU economies.

Harold Wilson, Labour PM during the 1967 and 1976 balance-of-payments crises, traced the UK’s problems back to Lend-Lease and the end of Imperial Preference. We could go further back.

The disproportionate weight of the rentier class arose in the Edwardian era, during which period Britain’s capitalist class first abjured productive investment, retiring to coupon-clipping in stately homes.


August 3, 2010

Let no one say that academics are ineffectual.

Take the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), a joint project of Australian National University, Charles Sturt University and the University of Melbourne. While one branch of contemporary philosophy sniffs that il n’y a pas de hors-texte, its more practical cousin wants to “connect rigorous philosophical thinking with policy input, community discussion, and professional aims.”

In return for one million dollars of annual government funding, CAPPE offers “advice and guidance” that will “assist members of the community to make more ethically informed choices”.

Its advice for today’s decision-makers? Repudiation of hundreds of years of international law: Grotius, Kant, the Treaty of Westphalia; and, specifically, disavowal of the prohibition of aggression and crimes against peace.

And what a triumph of knowledge transfer this has been!

The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, signed by all the major powers, renounced “war as an instrument of national policy”, and forbade “recourse to war for the solution of international controversies…disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin”.

This meant that “any signatory Power which [sought thereafter] to promote its national interests by resort to war” was acting outside established principles.

The crime of aggression was subsequently included in the Nuremberg Principles, which named three basic offences:

  1. CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
  2. WAR CRIMES: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
  3. CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

Indeed, the Nuremberg judgement emphasised that to “initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

But what do our philosophers at CAPPE say? According to Larry May, in his book Aggression and Crimes Against Peace:

the mere crossing of borders is not a sufficient normative rationale for prosecuting State leaders for the international crime of aggression. At Nuremberg, charges of crimes against humanity were pursued only if the defendant also engaged in the crime of aggression. I now argue for a reversal of this position, contending that aggression charges should only be pursued if the defendant’s acts involved serious human rights violations… [Crimes] against peace do not harm humanity the way that crimes against humanity, such as ethnic cleansing campaigns, do. Crimes against peace also are not like war crimes in assaulting humaneness, since all wars, not merely aggressive wars, are inhumane, and aggressive wars are not necessarily more inhumane than defensive wars.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the legal and moral regression involved in this flippant, light-minded dismissal. The idea of state sovereignty as territorial jurisdiction goes back to 1648 and the Treaty of Westphalia, and is codified in Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter. It’s one thing for a state to falsely portray its military aggression as self-defence, which for example Israel, Britain and France did during the Suez crisis of 1956.

It’s quite another thing, and historically original, to say that aggression doesn’t matter, or matters only under certain conditions, and that crimes against peace – “the supreme international crime” – are not crimes at all, except where other crimes occur.

May’s trite argument nonetheless stands on the shoulders of giants, heaved up and borne along by the US state leadership.

From core executives (Anthony Lake in “From Containment to Enlargement” and Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard) to policy intellectuals (e.g. Robert Kagan in “The Benevolent Empire”), corporate-endowed thinktanks and “sound” journalists, the US ruling elite is as one. Decline must be arrested by imperial expansion and power projection throughout the Eurasian heartland, from the eastern Mediterranean, through West and Central Asia, up to China’s western borders.

As part of this project, national sovereignty has been re-defined as a revocable licence, granted by the “international community” and enjoyed only at the latter’s pleasure.

Thus, in 1994, Bill Clinton introduced the concept of “rogue states”: outlaws that deserved none of the traditional privileges of international law. “Humanitarian intervention”, a European notion by birth, was soon hitched to this ideological wagon, and employed for NATO’s illegal 1999 war on Yugoslavia. (Coincidentally one of the great promoters of “the responsibility to protect”, Australian Gareth Evans – co-founder of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty – is now ANU chancellor and an advisor to CAPPE.)

The G.W. Bush Administration, and its favoured policy intellectuals, extended this to include “regime change” of “hostile states”, in order to “secure and expand zones of democratic peace”, “deter the rise of a new great-power competitors” and “preserve American preeminence”. The 2002 National Security Strategy spoke of pre-emptive self-defence and “anticipatory actions”, in open defiance of established legal norms:

“Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat…We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries.”

The emergence of blatant illegality at the heart of US state leadership wasn’t fortuitous, historically accidental, or contingent upon either Republican party allegiance or the personality of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld or the neocons. The bid for strategic “primacy”, come what may, was instead the natural response of US state managers to gradual economic decline.

Thus the Obama presidency hasn’t produced the reversal of these arguments in favour of aggressive war, but their extension.

Obama’s Nobel Prize lecture, delivered in November 2009 in Oslo, argued deliberately against the terms of Kellogg-Briand, the Nuremberg principles, and for the right to wage war as a tool of national policy:

[The] instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace…[Contemporary challenges] require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace…There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified…To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason…

[Sometimes] the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region. I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace…Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy – but there must be consequences when those things fail.

So forget the stereotype of practiced irrelevance: our philosophers are right in the thick of things, slipping the velvet glove of “ethical guidance” over the mailed fist of the US elite’s open gangsterism. CAPPE already “addresses” the “morality of torture”; perhaps soon it will “engage” with Obama’s hit list allowing assassination of US citizens without due process.

Which ancient right will these brave thinkers seek next to conquer? Into what thickets of debasement and apologetics will their intrepid scholarly inquiries now lead?

How to manipulate Europeans

July 27, 2010

Much how you’d expect, according to this CIA memo from March 2010: a ‘consistent and iterative strategic communication program’ that ‘taps into the key concerns of specific Western European audiences’ concerning Afghanistan.

What are these key levers of mass opinion? The ‘plight’ of Afghan women and refugees, the appeal of President Obama, fear of drugs and terrorism.

According to this document, the ‘Afghanistan mission’s low public salience has allowed French and German leaders to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions.’

For now, thank heavens, ‘public apathy enables leaders to ignore voters’. But recent events in the Netherlands have prompted Washington’s concern that ‘politicians elsewhere might cite a precedent for “listening to the voters”.’

So, to give these ‘politicians greater scope to support deployments’, the document recommends ‘tailoring messages’ that allow European constituencies to be ‘prepared to tolerate a spring and summer of greater military and civilian casualties’ without complaint.

What specifically would this involve?

  • ‘Leverage French (and other European) guilt for abandoning’ women and refugees.
  • Promote ‘a president seen as broadly in sync with European concerns’ and exploit popular ‘sensitivity to disappointing’ him.
  • ‘Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories’.
  • ‘Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women [which] would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences.’

This strategy isn’t just notable for its vertical, anti-democratic aspect, i.e. the pursuit of elite objectives through secret, targeted manipulation of public opinion. (On that matter, though, we should note how ‘tailored messages’ are aimed at touchstones of progressive sensibility: Washington counts on the services of left-liberal, ‘radical’ and especially feminist circles).

Also relevant is the horizontal, intra-elite manipulation.

US state managers aim to prevent leaders of (potential) rival states from formulating or attaining distinct strategic goals (e.g. European military operations outside NATO). Instead, so it’s hoped, these states will be bound to a common imperial project under US tutelage.

Washington aims to achieve the latter by controlling the mass, public-opinion base of these rival polities.

A population is thus wielded as a tool against its own domestic elite by another (i.e. external) set of state leaders from another territorial jurisdiction.

Questions for Australian readers:

  • What are the specific ‘key concerns’ (i.e symbolic weakpoints) of Australian mass opinion, which tailored messaging could possibly exploit?
  • What would a ‘consistent and iterative strategic communication program’, aimed at these popular vulnerabilities, look like?
  • Would you notice this if it were happening?

It’s fun to shoot some people

July 26, 2010

It’ll take a long while to find everything noteworthy in the Afghan War Diary 2004-2010. But even a cursory browse shows why a series of proconsuls – the latest being McChrystal – have been declared wimps, insufficiently savage, and just not up to it. The troops are hamstrung! As the Australians have stressed, imperial forces need “a better balance between the need to protect the population and of course the need to protect the troops who are out there working very hard.” Thankfully guys like Petraeus and James Mattis, new CentCom Commander, have the right attitude: “You know, guys like that [Afghanis] ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.”

 14 July 2004:

TF Phoenix reported on 14 July 2004 that three Afghan National Army soldiers set up an illegal checkpoint outside Chaghcharan IVO grid 41S QU 063 223, stopped a group of seven civilians on the road, extorted 60 000 afghanis from them, and shot two of the men in the head. The ANA then stole 2 x motorcycles in an attempt to flee…

10 May 2005:

Taskforce SWORD kills a local national and wounds another in a vehicle suspected to be a vehicle-borne IED, 7km SE of FOB RIPLEY.  O/A 0630ZMAY05 two vehicles approached the checkpoint on the road worksite.  Both vehicles were white Toyota Corollas that passed through the AMF security checkpoint unseen by American soldiers.  The first vehicle had four passengers (2 male, 2 female).  The second vehicle had two male passengers.  The vehicles were directed to stop and use the bypass around the road construction project.  The second vehicle, with two passengers, passed around the first vehicle and used the bypass around the worksite.  The first vehicle kept coming toward the worksite. The soldiers stopped the vehicle and directed the personnel in the vehicle to get out of the vehicle. There were no interpreters in the immediate area.  The two male passengers got out of the vehicle spoke to each other, got back into the vehicle and continued driving south toward the worksite. The soldiers on site directed the vehicle to stop, and the Platoon Leader directed his vehicles to back away from the vehicle.  The vehicle continued to move south toward the soldiers on the work site.  The Platoon Leader spotted what appeared to be a suspicious bag hanging from the ceiling.  He pointed his weapon (M4) at the vehicle telling the driver to stop, but he did not.  Thinking that the vehicle was a VBIED, he opened fire with his M4, firing three shots at the vehicle.  The Lieutenant intended to fire at the driver on the right side of the vehicle, but the driver was on the left side of the vehicle.  The shots hit the passenger, killing him and injuring the driver of the vehicle.  The Initial investigation of the vehicle revealed that the suspicious bag with wires was actually an IV bag that was connected to one of the female passengers in the backseat of the vehicle, who had had a miscarriage.  The wounded individual was treated for minor injuries at FOB Ripley.  The soldiers involved in the incident are currently at FOB Ripley and an investigation will be conducted.

3 January 2006:

(DELAYED REPORT) Taskforce Devil reported one local national killed and two local nationals injured by an illumination cannister 18km N of FOB Salerno. At 1041Z, TF Devil confirmed that the injuries caused on the civilians were as a result of a friendly illumination cannister falling onto them from a fire mission fired at 031631ZJan06.

4 February 2006:

TF Phoenix reported one of its convoys fired on a civilian vehicle 52 km NW of Garesk. At 0646Z TF Phoenix reported that a jingle truck failed to yield to a traffic stop near a convoy of UAHs, and when subsequent visual and verbal efforts failed to stop the truck failed, the soldiers attempted to disable the vehicle. When those efforts failed, the gunner in the lead HMMWV fearing for the safety of himself and his fellow soldiers fired on the cab killing the local national passenger in the jingle truck. The driver of the truck stopped and he was immediately detained. The unit searched the vehicle and persons for weapons and explosives, but none were found. The unit is continuing to investigate the matter and will submit a report when complete.

19 April 2007:


12 May 2007:

Helman Prov/Sangin Dist: 09 May07. RC South reporting on recent casualties from coalition forces bombing mission. (40) Taliban killed and (60) civilians killed. NFI.

4 June 2007:

The Provisional Reconstruction Team Executive Officer attended the Logar Provincial Security Council Meeting and shared information with the Deputy Governor, the Provincial Police Chief, and the NDS Director… [The] Police Chief discussed Afghan National Police reaction after an IED in Pingeram (sp?) that resulted in the firing of weapons into a crowd of civilians.

16 August 2007:

[Around] 1600L, 4 x ACM [anti-coalition militia] were seen moving vicinity of the village. It is not clear if they were hiding in the village or just passing through. There was only one section of two vehicles involved in the TIC. They fired their 12.7mm MG at the individuals, but the weapon jammed. The ACM then returned fire. [C company patrol] then emplaced their mortars. They fired a total of 26 rounds according to one report. They fired over and then short and then three rounds impacted within a compound. One impacted on the roof of the house, one impacted in the court yard, and the last went through the roof and detonated within the house. There was a wedding celebration going on in the house, which explains the high number of casualties. As soon as the PBG soldiers saw where the rounds impacted, they moved immediately to the compound to provide assistance. The 4 x ACM escaped.

This information is still to sketchy to assess a cause for the inaccurate rounds.

Current Casualty list:6 x KIA (1x male, 4 female, one baby)
3 x WIA (all female, one of which was 9 months pregnant)

All of the casualties were from the Jalal Zaid Tribe, but not all were from the village, because some were from out of town for the wedding. This will spread the negative effect to a larger area then it would of [sic] otherwise. Today, there were 120 locals rioting at the gate of FOB Waza Khwa protesting the deaths.

6 October 2007:

The Provincial Reconstruction Team CO, PRT CA Officer along with Polish battle group CA Officer and DCO escorted the Provincial Chief of Police, Gen Mulakhel, NDS 5 Deputy, Nabile, and the Provincial Director of Tribal Affairs (native of the region) to the village of Laswanday in the Gwashta region of Waza Kwah, 36 hours following a Taskforce 373 operation on Objective Wolf (42 SVA 34591 80079) which resulted in the death of 1 child, 1 woman, 5 males and the wounding of 3 others (1 small boy, 2 teenage girls of which one was medevacd earlier).
Initial reception was uneventful. About 12 adult males were waiting in the area of the target compound. The group took a tour of the damaged compound while another villager was sent to gather the rest of the villagers from the area.  Villagers present indicated that all persons killed or injured in the attack were from the same family. (Leads to further question as to why one individual, the owners son, was found in the rubble with his hands tied behind his back.)

5 November 2008:

At approximately 0915D*, whilst searching for scrap metal to salvage and resell, a group of children found various unexploded ordnances. It is unknown exactly what occurred, however the munition detonated amongst the group of children, killing x 3 (aged under 10 yrs of age) and wounding a further x 6. It is assessed that the munition, a Projectile 82mm, HEAT, Type 65 had been blind and thrown into the sewage pool where the UXOs were located. Other objects such as expended RPG motors, mortar tails, fuzes, projectiles and empty landmine bodies as well as used syringes and excrement littered the area.