military

Large swathes of Pakistan are in the stranglehold of a caricatured feudalism, writes Farooq Tariq.

In recent difficult economic times, with youth unemployment at record rates, there is still one major state institution which is always recruiting — the military.

As they have in the past, the armed forces are trying as hard as possible to present an attractive job prospect to the youth market. The offer of a career, job stability, qualifications and training can often seem too good to pass up.

About sixty people attended a meeting on “America’s Pacific Push” on July 25.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, spoke about the growing US military presence in the Pacific.

Examples included the expansion of a missile test range in Hawaii, the building of a naval base on South Korea’s Jeju Island despite strong resistance from local people, and the plan to station 2500 US troops in Darwin.

Gagnon said that US bases in Australia play a crucial role in US military strategy.

Remembrance Day, on November 11, was celebrated again this year in the Australian media with pictures of red poppies and flag-draped coffins and historic photos of Australian soldiers who gave “the ultimate sacrifice” from the human-made wasteland of Flanders to the stony deserts of Afghanistan.

Paying tribute to the ten soldiers killed this year in the long war in Afghanistan, Governor-General Quentin Bryce said that Australians were good at remembering: “We seem to know what we ought to hold onto and what is best let go.”

“The whole process was a fake!”, said Khin Maung Swe, a 68-year-old leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF), a breakaway from the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi. “We just won 16 seats [out of the 163 the NDF contested] because of the so-called advance votes.”

Khin Maung Swe expressed outrage at the process of counting votes in Burma’s elections held on November 7 for the first time in 20 years. Opponents of the military junta said it rigged many “advance votes” — votes cast before the official date of the election — through threats and bribes.

The US has stepped up flights by pilotless drones and increased the deployment of special forces and CIA operatives in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen. The US military and CIA have been covertly operating in Yemen since at least 2002.

The November 7 Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying that drones operating over Yemen now included Hellfire missile-equipped Predators. The article said that “up to 100” extra US “Special Operations force trainers” and an unspecified number of “additional CIA teams” were being deployed.

West Papuans and their supporters staged protests worldwide to coincide with US President Barack Obama's visit to Indonesia. Large protests were held in West Papua.

In Melbourne, about 50 activists protested at Federation Square on November 10, demanding action against the Indonesian government and its atrocities against West Papuans.

During UN Disarmament Week (October 24-31), a bill to enact the UN Convention banning Cluster Munitions is to be tabled in the House of Representatives. However, it is unlikely to contain a provision prohibiting financial institutions from funding manufacturers of cluster bombs.

It has been found that the ANZ bank has provided loans of $136.5 million to producers of cluster bombs.

UPDATE October 1, 12.30 AEST: Troops loyal to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa have freed him from the military hospital where he was previously held hostage by right-wing coup police. He is now addressing a large number of triumphant supporters gathered at the Plaza of Independence in Quito who are chanting: "El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!". See livestreamed coverage by Telesur below.

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