Compiled by Bronwyn Flores, Chris Lewis, and Bobby Allyn.
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai made front page news and top-of-the-hour broadcasts in November, but were forgotten by media and most Americans weeks later. Indian officials accused Pakistan of orchestrated the attacks, yet the neighboring country denied any such claim. While America shifted its focus to the stimulus bill and the Chris Brown scandal, the CIA got to work. Taking on an investigation of the two former enemies, the CIA acted as neutral arbitrator in the exchange of information between India and Pakistan. Eventually, Pakistani officials admitted that the attacks were, at least partially, planned on Pakistani soil. As of February, Pakistan announced it would carry out criminal proceedings against eight suspects. In India, the lone surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was formally charged with “wagging war against India” and murder. However, Kasab, a Pakistani, is the first to be formally charged for the attacks. The same organization that is accused of carrying out the Mumbai attacks, the Al-Qaeda linked Lashkae-e-Taiba (Let), is suspected of the commando raid on the Sri Lanaka cricket team in Pakistan in early March (Six policemen and a driver were killed in the ambush in Lahore, Pakistan, and seven Sri Lankan cricket players, an assistant coach and match official were injured.) A spokesman for Let said the group will carry out more “lethal” attacks in the near future. BF
Iraq Invasion was Illegal
The US invaded Iraq after the September 11 attacks under the pretense of the War Powers Resolution, which states that President Bush was “authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” However, sometime after the invasion began, it became clear that there was no link between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the terrorist attacks. Thus, the invasion, as outlined by Bush, was illegal. There has yet to be a Congressional investigation on the legality of the invasion. Even Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion was illegal. In 2003 he said, “I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing.” Additionally, according to the Hague Regulations, laws governing international war, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources. Is the war in Iraq about oil? Ask Alan Greenspan, who in 2007 said, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” BF
Ceasefire in Palestine
After the 2008/2009 war in Gaza, Israel and Palestine remain in contention, but relatively peaceful; however, aggressive American public discourse is omnipresent. Talking heads consistently frame Palestinian parties as the aggressors in the conflict; Israel’s military action is merely a response. In December 2008, the claim that rockets launched by Hamas sparked the recent conflict was often made, and rarely challenged. But the six month ceasefire that existed before the war wasn’t broken by Hamas’s rockets. On November 4th, when the United States was lost in the frenzy of election day, Israel carried out a raid into the Gaza Strip. Six Palestinian militiamen were killed. The rocket fire, which had been almost nonexistent since the ceasefire began in June, promptly resumed. When Israel began its massive military campaign in December, the country’s leaders justified the action by citing the rockets as Palestinian aggression. In the United States, few disagreed. CL
Immigration Reform and Adam Smith
Remember when the US passed comprehensive immigration legislation? Neither do any Americans. Immigration reform was hotly debated during both of George W. Bush’s terms, but to no avail. Bush called for a “guest worker program” in 2003, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq overshadowed the immigration debate. In 2005, The Republican-controlled House passed a bill that called for the deportation of all illegal immigrants, which failed. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators put forth a bill that would grant many illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship. It collapsed, as many Republicans denounced it as an “amnesty” plan. In the absence of an exhaustive plan, smaller measures moved to the fore. Congress agreed to provide funds to build a security fence along the Mexican border, and federal officials stepped up prosecutions of immigration crime, mostly for misdemeanors like illegal entry. More than 70,000 such cases were prosecuted in the 2008 fiscal year, double the level of the year before. In April 2008, the US Justice Department announced it would spend $7 million to send more than 60 more prosecutors to border districts to prosecute border crimes. Congress increased spending and passed new laws, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in 2004, which authorized adding 10,000 new agents. These agents are expected to nearly double the Border Patrol force from 11,000 to 21,000 by 2010. US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s announced late March that nearly 500 agents and support personnel will be sent to the US-Mexico border. About $30 million in stimulus money will go to local and state law enforcement agencies along the border. X-ray equipment is to be installed at most points of entry. It seems that neo-liberals are no longer orthodox Adam Smith adherents, or else they need to revisit The Wealth of Nations, where Smith calls for the “free circulation of labor.” Real liberalization is not just about the flow of goods between countries, but also people. With Hispanic voters turning out in unprecedented numbers for Obama, all eyes are on the current administration and whether or not Obama will unveil a plan that tackles immigration policy head-on, not a one of militarization and status quo maintenance.