Thursday, May 26, 2011

NATO Transforms ‘Humanitarian Intervention’ in Libya into ‘A Feast of Blood’

NATO  Transforms 'Humanitarian Intervention' in Libya into 'A Feast of Blood'


In another orgy of high-tech violence against a weak nation ( Libya's defense outlay is less than $ one billion, while the nations attacking it reach around $ one trillion) ,under the cover of an ill-conceived and mis-drafted UNSC resolution 1973 .NATO , not authorized by the resolution , is being used for regime change and to destroy another independent country as was Serbia, Iraq and others.


Moscow and Beijing which could have vetoed the ambiguous resolution did not do so for its own reasons, perhaps , sensing it would be another crucial nail in the Fall of the US led West , following the quagmire in Iraq and an unwinnable war in Afghanistan from which the West now wants out but with Washington wanting to leave behind its troops and bases .


Learning from experience , India which abstained on Resolution 1973 has come out more openly against Euro-US mayhem against Libya's civilian population with Western Special Forces on the ground in support of an opposition created for control of Libya's oil and its strategic location . 

At Addis Ababa , after the just concluded India-Africa summit , where in India has offered assistance to African nations amounting to $ 5 billion, on Libya the Addis Ababa Declaration declares; 

"We take note of UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 on Libya and stress that efforts to implement them should be within the spirit and letter of those resolutions. In this regard, we call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities in Libya and urge the parties in the conflict to strive towards a political solution through peaceful means and dialogue. We express support for the African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee initiative and the African Union roadmap for the peaceful and consensual resolution of the conflict." 

Below is a statement by Cynthia Ann McKinney , a six terms former US Congresswoman (D) and a member of the Green Party since 2007 and the latter's Presidential candidate in 2008. She was just recently in Libya. 


NATO: A Feast of Blood 

While serving on the House International Relations Committee from 1993 to 2003, it became clear to me that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was an anachronism.  Founded in 1945 at the end of World War II, NATO was founded by the United States in response to the Soviet Union's survival as a Communist state.  NATO was the U.S. insurance policy that capitalist ownership and domination of European, Asian, and African economies would continue.  This also would ensure the survival of the then-extant global apartheid.


NATO is a collective security pact wherein member states pledge that an attack upon one is an attack against all.  Therefore, should the Soviet Union have attacked any European Member State, the United States military shield would be activated.  The Soviet Response was theWarsaw Pact that maintained a "cordon sanitaire" around the Russian Heartland should NATO ever attack.  Thus, the world was broken into blocs which gave rise to the "Cold War."


Avowed "Cold Warriors" of today still view the world in these terms and, unfortunately, cannot move past Communist China and an amputated Soviet Empire as enemy states of the U.S. whose moves any where on the planet are to be contested.  The collapse of the Soviet Unionprovided an accelerated opportunity to exert U.S. hegemony in an area of previous Russian influence.  Africa and the Eurasian landmass containing former Soviet satellite states andAfghanistan and Pakistan along with the many other "stans" of the region, have always factored prominently in the theories of "containment" or "rollback" guiding U.S. policy up to today.  


With that as background, last night's NATO rocket attack on Tripoli is inexplicable.  A civilian metropolitan area of around 2 million people, Tripoli sustained 22 to 25 bombings last night, rattling and breaking windows and glass and shaking the foundation of my hotel.  


I left my room at the Rexis Al Nasr Hotel and walked outside the hotel and I could smell the exploded bombs. There were local people everywhere milling with foreign journalists from around the world. As we stood there more bombs struck around the city. The sky flashed red with explosions and more rockets from NATO jets cut through low cloud before exploding.


I could taste the thick dust stirred up by the exploded bombs. I immediately thought about the depleted uranium munitions reportedly being used here--along with white phosphorus.  If depleted uranium weapons were being used what affect on the local civilians?


Women carrying young children ran out of the hotel. Others ran to wash the dust from their eyes.  With sirens blaring, emergency vehicles made their way to the scene of the attack.  Car alarms, set off by the repeated blasts, could be heard underneath the defiant chants of the people. 


Sporadic gunfire broke out and it seemed everywhere around me.  Euronews showed video of nurses and doctors chanting even at the hospitals as they treated those injured from NATO's latest installation of shock and awe.  Suddenly, the streets around my hotel became full of chanting people, car horns blowing, I could not tell how many were walking, how many were driving.  Inside the hotel, one Libyan woman carrying a baby came to me and asked me why are they doing this to us?


Whatever the military objectives of the attack (and I and many others question the military value of these attacks) the fact remains the air attack was launched a major city packed with hundreds of thousands of civilians.


I did wonder too if the any of the politicians who had authorized this air attack had themselves ever been on the receiving end of laser guided depleted uranium munitions. Had they ever seen the awful damage that these weapons do a city and its population? Perhaps if they actually been in the city of air attack and felt the concussion from these bombs and saw the mayhem caused they just might not be so inclined to authorize an attack on a civilian population.


I am confident that NATO would not have been so reckless with human life if they had called on to attack a major western city. Indeed, I am confident that would not be called upon ever to attack a western city. NATO only attacks (as does the US and its allies) the poor and underprivileged of the 3rd world.


Only the day before, at a women's event in Tripoli, one woman came up to me with tears in her eyes:  her mother is in Benghazi and she can't get back to see if her mother is OK or not.  People from the east and west of the country lived with each other, loved each other, intermarried, and now, because of NATO's "humanitarian intervention," artificial divisions are becoming hardened.  NATO's recruitment of allies in eastern Libya smacks of the same strain of cold warriorism that sought to assassinate Fidel Castro and overthrow the Cuban Revolutionwith "homegrown" Cubans willing to commit acts of terror against their former home country.  More recently, Democratic Republic of Congo has been amputated de facto after Laurent Kabila refused a request from the Clinton Administration to formally shave off the eastern part of his country.  Laurent Kabila personally recounted the meeting at which this request and refusal were delivered.  This plan to balkanize and amputate an African country (as has been done in Sudan) did not work because Kabila said "no" while Congolese around the world organized to protect the "territorial integrity" of their country.


I was horrified to learn that NATO allies (the Rebels) in Libya have reportedly lynched, butchered and then their darker-skinned compatriots after U.S. press reports labeled Black Libyans as "Black mercenaries."  Now, tell me this, pray tell.  How are you going to take Blacks out of Africa?  Press reports have suggested that Americans were "surprised" to see dark-skinned people in Africa.  Now, what does that tell us about them?


The sad fact, however, is that it is the Libyans themselves, who have been insulted, terrorized, lynched, and murdered as a result of the press reports that hyper-sensationalized this base ignorance.  Who will be held accountable for the lives lost in the bloodletting frenzy unleashed as a result of these lies?


Which brings me back to the lady's question:  why is this happening?  Honestly, I could not give her the educated reasoned response that she was looking for.  In my view the international public is struggling to answer "Why?".


 What we do know, and what is quite clear, is this:  what I experienced last night is no "humanitarian intervention."  


Many suspect it is about all the oil under Libya. Call me skeptical but I have to wonder why the combined armed sea, land and air forces of NATO and the US costing billions of dollars are being arraigned against a relatively small North African country and we're expected to believe its in the defense of democracy. 


What I have seen in long lines to get fuel is not "humanitarian intervention."  Refusal to allow purchases of medicine for the hospitals is not "humanitarian intervention."  What is most sad is that I cannot give a cogent explanation of why to people now terrified by NATO's bombs, but it is transparently clear now that NATO has exceeded its mandate, lied about its intentions, is guilty of extra-judicial killings--all in the name of "humanitarian intervention."  Where is the Congress as the President exceeds his war-making authority?  Where is the "Conscience of the Congress?"


For those of who disagree with Dick Cheney's warning to us to prepare for war for the next generation, please support any one who will stop this madness.  Please organize and then vote for peace.  People around the world need us to stand up and speak out for ourselves and them because  Iran and Venezuela are also in the cross-hairs.  Libyans don't need NATO helicopter gunships, smart bombs, cruise missiles, and depleted uranium to settle their differences.  NATO's "humanitarian intervention" needs to be exposed for what it is with the bright, shining light of the truth.


As dusk descends on Tripoli, let me prepare myself with the local civilian population for some more NATO humanitarianism.


Stop bombing Africa and the poor of the world!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ben Laden Assassination; Another Example of Conspiracy & Complicity!


Ben Laden Assassination; Another Example of Conspiracy & Complicity!


"The incoming helicopters took fire; they didn't take fire. The Pakistanis didn't know; they did know. Osama's wife was a human shield; she wasn't a human shield. It was his wife; it wasn't his wife. Osama had a gun; he didn't have a gun…If you're not a conspiracy theorist in the United States of America, you're probably a boob." Gary G. Kohls, MD


 "We've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming," Vice President Dick Cheney admitted as much in an interview with Tony Snow on 29 March 2006.   It was argued that Cheney made a slip of the tongue, but it is a fact that no evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 has been forthcoming.


President Obama ,while decorating the men who assassinated Osama bin Laden said ;


 "This week has been a reminder of what we're about as a people, The essence of America, the values that have defined us for more than 200 years, they don't just endure — they're stronger than ever." "The bin Laden raid was one of the most successful intelligence and military operations in America's history", he added.


This is not the first time when Washington administration ,the Congres and Western media and government outlets like BBC have functioned like handmaidens of corporate interests which control regimes in US and elsewhere .Of course copy cat Indian media , lazy and info-challenged ,followed suit , while the position of the Indian government was mercifully measured .


Let us take just two examples of media's abnegation of its professional honesty and due diligence;


a) Coverage of US led UN approved action to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1990-91 and


b) The 2003 US led illegal invasion of Iraq and its continuing brutal occupation.


" Infants taken from incubators in a Kuwait City hospital by Iraqi soldiers left to die."


Testimony before the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 19, 1990.


"Nayirah," a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl in her testimony to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 19, 1990, shocked the world when she recounted how invading Iraqi soldiers had stormed into al-Adan Hospital in Kuwait City where she had been working as a volunteer. Tearfully, she recalled ," While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where ... babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die." This terrible news about 312 babies made headlines worldwide and helped turn public opinion and US Congress against Saddam Hussein and Iraq.


"I don't believe that Adolf Hitler ever participated in anything of that nature," declared the outraged US president, George Bush Senior . If anything justified a U.S. war against Saddam Hussein in 1991 to a wavering Congress and American public, that performance did it. This "hearing" took place just before the vote to invade Iraq which was taken and approved .


The author , posted at Amman ; when he saw the testimony on TV channels was shocked too.


Among other stories for a war on Saddam Hussein in 1991 this seriously affected the American debate in support for military action. Amnesty International believed the tale, and its ill-considered validation most likely influenced the seven Senators who cited the story in speeches backing the January 12 resolution authorizing the war. Since the resolution passed the Senate by only six votes majority , the question of how the incubator story escaped scrutiny "when it really mattered" is all the more important. (Amnesty International later retracted its support to the story."


A little media investigation would have done a great service to the US democratic process. Americans ought to have been curious to know the identity of "Nayirah," the 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl .The chairmen of the Congressional group, Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, and John Edward Porter, an Illinois Republican, explained that Nayirah's identity would be kept secret to protect her family from reprisals in occupied Kuwait.


But there was a better reason to protect her identity ,because Nayirah, her real name, was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S., Saud Nasir al-Sabah. This might have led to demands for proof of Nayirah's whereabouts in August and September of 1990, when she said she witnessed the atrocities, as well as corroboration of her charges. The Kuwaiti Embassy rebuffed efforts to interview Nayirah.


Nayirah was not in Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion on 2 August 1990.An ABC reporter, John Marti, in March 1991, after the liberation of Kuwait , interviewed hospital doctors who had stayed in Kuwait throughout the occupation. They and Kuwaiti medical authorities denied that the incubator incident ever occurred. 


It was only after the end of the Gulf War that the deception was revealed. It was a total fabrication, right out of the fertile, high-priced imagination of Hill & Knowlton, the Kuwaiti ruling family's Washington PR firm. By the time it was discovered, the U.S.-led coalition had charged in and the Kuwaiti royal family was securely back on its throne, and the folks at Hill & Knowlton had earned their pay.


How come Mr. Lantos and Mr. Porter allowed this to happen , because they had a close relationship with Hill and Knowlton, the public relations firm which was hired by Citizens for a Free Kuwait, the Kuwaiti-financed group that lobbied Congress for military intervention. A Hill and Knowlton Vice President, Gary Hymel, helped organize the Congressional Human Rights Caucus hearing in meetings with Mr. Lantos and Mr. Porter, and the chairmen of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, Hassan al-Ibrahim. Mr. Hymel presented the witnesses, including Nyirah. (Hymel knew who she was.)


Mr. Hymel was best known to the Caucus for defending the human rights record of Turkey and Indonesia !Mr. Lantos and Mr. Porter allowed the Congress Human Rights Foundation, a group they founded in 1985, to be housed in Hill and Knowlton's Washington headquarters. Citizens for a Free Kuwait, donated $50,000 to the foundation, sometimes after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The foundation's main support came from U.S. government-financed National Endowment for Democracy, which played such a sterling role in financing US franchised revolutions later in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine , Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union


Loyal western media did not and does not look into such conflicts of interest.


Late Tom Lantos's anti-India utterances ;

Late Tom Lantos ,a holocaust survivor , earned fame for his crude language .To browbeat India in 2005 into voting against Iran in Vienna on Tehran's legal right for enriching uranium for power plants, he thundered;


" My concern relates to the insensitive thinking that I see coming out of New Delhi--It was incomprehensible to me that people as sophisticated and knowledgeable as our Indian counterparts should not be aware of how significant their position, vis-a-vis Iran is to this Congress, and, I hope this hearing will make them aware at least tangentially that this may be destroying far more significant relationships than they are having with Tehran unless they become sensitive to our view on that subject."


"Only an imbecile would believe that they are developing a nuclear program for peaceful purposes and it is an insult to the intelligence of Congress that they keep repeating this." [only the imbecile Americans believed the US reasons for the 2003 illegal US invasion of Iraq]


"They do what they do, but to have the Indian foreign minister with respect to his recent meeting with the Iranians to say they really don't care what we think, shows the real denseness that occasionally very intelligent people are burdened with."


"They are brilliant and they are dense. They are brilliant, which is obvious, but they are simply dense because they are incapable of comprehending that other countries have their important concerns."

"we offer, at least some of us offer our services to help you make the Indians aware of the fact that nothing will fly in this body unless they become as sensitive to their concerns as we have been to theirs."


Lantos found Indian statement in Iran -- "literally sickening, this Stalinist rhetoric which we don't accept." And "if New Delhi did not support Washington's efforts to ostracise Iran, "the goodwill will dissipate."


"They will pay a heavy price for a total disregard of US concerns vis-a-vis Iran. It just will not fly in this body and they need to be told that in plain English, not in diplomatic English and I know there are people in this room who will carry this message."


Indian response;

India termed the tirade as "crude" and "un-parliamentary" that Lantos unleashed . "The language used by Congressman Lantos while referring to India's foreign minister during a Congressional hearing is, to say the least, un-parliamentary," said External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna


"It is discourteous and crude and reflects negatively only on the US Congressman himself," he declared.


It is a pity that Indian Parliamentarians and media let such gross insults pass. No wonder Indians are considered wimps and spineless as shown even by Wikileaks .


The Great rescue of 'heroine' Jessica Lynch from Iraq by US forces 


We may now recall the saga of PFC Jessica Lynch. Early in the US led illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003 , Lynch's  supply convoy was ambushed and she taken prisoner. Nine days later, on 1 April , 2003 US Special Forces rescued her from an Iraqi hospital. The US administration, specially Pentagon ,went ballistic in complicity with US media and even Congressmen playing parts in the 'heroic feats 'of Lynch and a Rambo like rescue operation disseminated by Western media around the world as another grand action in the annals of US military history.


It was claimed that Lynch had fought heroically until she ran out of ammunition, after which she was shot and stabbed by her assailants. Later, she was gang-raped and beaten mercilessly during interrogation at the hands of her captors .


She was the then rescued in a daring nocturnal raid by US Special Forces which brought her back to safety. Lynch's was the first successful rescue of an American POW since World War II and the first ever of a woman.


In its first press briefing on April 2, 2003 the Pentagon released a five-minute video of the rescue and claimed that Lynch had stab and bullet wounds, and that she had been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated .


Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., called the rescue a miracle.


"God watched over Jessica and her family," Rockefeller said through a spokesman in Washington. "All of West Virginia is rejoicing. This is an amazing tribute to the skill and courage of our military."


Central Command spokesman Jim Wilkinson said: "We also have others, other POWs we are just as worried about. This is good news today but we need a lot more good news."


"America doesn't leave its heroes behind," Wilkinson added. "Never has. Never will."


Jim Wilkinson was part of the White House Iraq Group under Karl Rove (alleged to be George Bush's brain) and Scooter Libby (Vice-President Cheney's Man Friday) For the Iraq war, Wilkinson was the chief spokesman for Gen. Tommy Franks under Centcom in Doha .Ron Suskind described Wilkinson the "spinmeister for the Iraq war" in The Washington Post.


It was but a fabrication to turn Lynch into an ersatz folk hero for propaganda purposes.


The True Story


On March 23, 2003, a convoy of the US Army's 507 Maintenance company and the 3rd Combat Support elements, led by a Humvee driven by Lynch's best friend Lorie Piestwa made a wrong turn and were ambushed near Nasiriya, a major crossing point over the Euphrates northwest of Basra .

Apparently, the convoy took more than one wrong turn and came under attack by enemy fire. Lynch's Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and it crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer. Lynch was severely injured and captured by Iraqi forces and listed missing in action but 11 others were killed. Lori Piestewa, seriously wounded in the head , died in an Iraqi civilian hospital, since delicate neurosurgery under wartime conditions was not possible .


( Reasons being intermittent electrical power , sanctions enforced by US and UK deprived Iraqi hospitals of medicines and other equipment since 1990 .According to two UN administrators of the Food for oil Programme ,it led to half a million deaths of Iraqi children , which a callous once UN secretary of State Madeline Albright said was worth it )


Lynch was then transferred to a hospital in Nasiriya. The Iraqi hospital staff, including Doctors Harith Al-Houssona and Anmar Uday, stated that they shielded Lynch from Iraqi military and government agents.


An Iraqi lawyer ,Mohammad Odeh al Rehaif , to win brownie points ( in a war situation the best and the worst of the human animal comes out) tipped off the US forces about Lynch and said she was tortured and injured but was still alive. Al Rehaief claimed that his wife Iman was a nurse in the hospital and made some other claims , including that an Iraqi colonel slapped Lynch . (Al Rehaif and his family were later granted refugee compensated by Washington and flown over to USA.)


These claims were not confirmed by the hospital personnel .There was no nurse named Iman . Doctors at the hospital claimed that Lynch was shielded and protected from Iraqi military personnel by hospital staff and she was treated well throughout her stay at the hospital. ( Lynch later agreed with the account that she was treated humanely, with a nurse even singing to her.)


As a matter of fact on March 30, Dr Al-Houssona reportedly tried to deliver Lynch to the U.S. forces, but abandoned the attempt when the Americans fired on the Iraqi ambulance carrying her.


According to al Rehaief's he walked six miles to a US Marine checkpoint to inform about Lynch .US forces then planned Lynch's rescue. Apparently , the US military learned of Lynch's location from several informants, including al Rehaief .The Defense Intelligence Agency had equipped and organized  secretly videotaping of entrances and a route to Lynch's room before the operation.


The rescue operation was filmed and described by one Iraqi doctor as "like a Hollywood film. They cried, 'Go, go, go', with guns and blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show – an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting and breaking down doors."


Rambos in Action


After a diversionary feint by US Marines on April 1, 2003, to draw Iraqi resistance away from Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah ,a team from Joint Special Operations Task Force along with US Special Forces , Paratroopers , Army Rangers and Navy Seals attacked the hospital and rescued Lynch and bodies of 8 US GIs .The doctors present were roughly treated as per standard US practice and identified .In any case as the doctors confirmed that the Iraqi military had left the hospital the day before and there was no resistance to the American forces during the raid.


One witness account, in an opinion article by a BBC correspondent said that the Special Operations Forces already knew that the Iraqi military had fled a day before the hospital raid .The entire event was staged, even using blanks in the Marine's guns to create the impression of a real live firing.( The use of blanks was disputed by some weapons experts . It was felt that it would be dangerous to use blanks in a potentially hostile environment,) But then it was a safe operation as if on an MGM stage in Hollywood .


Thus the truth was quite different .Jessica's rifle jammed before she could fire a shot. She was badly injured and knocked unconscious when the Humvee she was riding crashed. No one shot, stabbed or beat her, and she had no recollection of any manner of sexual molestation. She was treated humanely in the hospital. A nurse even sang to her one night to comfort her in her loneliness. By the time the rescue team arrived, the hospital was manned solely by unarmed medical personnel.


Lynch was flown to medical centre in Germany , where she underwent back surgery on April 3 to correct a slipped vertebra and later several more surgeries to stabilize her fractures.


Jessica Lynch was awarded the Bromze Star , Prisoner of War and Purple Heart Medals. Dead soldiers rescued with her were awarded Purple Hearts .


Embarrassed with the truth coming out , soon after the rescue, Pentagon officials disputed a report appearing in the Washington Post that Lynch had fought back,


On April 12, 2003, Lynch was flown to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC to undergo specialized treatment and rehabilitation. On April 17, she underwent surgery to repair a bone in her right foot. She was released from the hospital on July 22, more than three months after her injury.


On August 27, 2003, Lynch was given a medical honourable discharge .


Central Command Gen Delong blames the politicians and the media for distortion of facts 


In a media statement later ,Lt Gen Michael Delong , who was deputy Commander of the US Central Command from 2001 to 2003, clarified that Jessica Lynch's maintenance convoy was lost near Nasiriya in 2003 and she was taken prisoner .The initial reports from the field said "that she had gone down fighting, had emptied her weapon and that her actions were heroic. Based on these reports, politicians from her home state, West Virginia, wanted the military to award her the Medal of Honor. Their request rose up the ladder until finally it reached me. But initial combat reports are often wrong. Time must always be taken to thoroughly investigate all claims." 


Time was needed, since she was suffering from combat shock and loss of memory; facts, therefore, had to be gathered from other sources. The general told the politicians to wait. No one would be awarded anything until all of the evidence was reviewed. It was not liked by the politicians, who through their Congressional liaison pressured for a medal, even before all the evidence had been analyzed. In heated discussions the politicians repeated that a medal would be good for women in the military. After a careful review of the facts, the military concluded that ballistic tests on Private Lynch's weapon demonstrated that she had never fired; she had merely been a passenger in a vehicle that went astray, came under fire and crashed. Private Lynch was badly hurt, and in her condition, she could not fight back. Her actions were understandable and justifiable, but they could not be labeled heroic. "

The General denied accusations that the military played up Private Lynch's rescue for its own publicity purposes. He also said that the filming of the operation was never ordered — the troops who executed it decided to film it on their own. Ultimately, it was good that they did, not for publicity purposes, but because that film can now be used to train soldiers. A nation needs heroes. Hero-making in itself is not a bad thing. But hero-making without grounds is.

Gen Delong blamed the overzealous politicians and a frenzied press for distortion of facts. "For these politicians to step forward now and accuse the military of capitalizing on the Jessica Lynch story is utter hypocrisy." 


 After the truth came out Lynch, along with major media outlets blamed the U.S. government as part of the Pentagon's propaganda. It was said that Jim Wilkinson fabricated  the government narrative.                     


But in a normal Yankee tradition to spike sales of' The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Bragg lied (bragged ) that Lynch was raped during her captivity, based on medical records and her pattern of injuries. Lynch did not recall any sexual assault and was "adamantly opposed to including the rape claim in the book", but Bragg wore her down and told her that "people need to know that this is what can happen to women soldiers". So much for American writing and the honour , honesty and integrity of a Pulitzer Prize Winner ( or a pre-emptedly awarded Nobel Peace Prize winner carrying on with two wars and helping out in another one in Libya).


God ! what is the real truth about western concepts of honesty, integrity and honour – for journalists and others .Anything for a fistful of dollars!.


For Al Rehaif's role in Lynch's rescue, after appeals by Friends of Mohammed, a West Virginia based group, Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge granted on April 29, 2003, Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief, his wife, and their five-year-old daughter humanitarian asylum Al Rehaief and his family were brought to the United States at his request on April 10. Al Rehaief's book, 'Because Each life is Precious ', published in October 2003, netted him a reported US $300,000. 


Months after returning to US, Lynch finally began speaking to the public. She was quite critical of the original story that was reported by the Washington Post. When asked about her heroine status, "That wasn't me. I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do... I'm just a survivor."


Interviewed by Diane Sawyer , concerning the Pentagon Lynch claimed,: "They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It's wrong. I don't know why they filmed [my rescue] or why they say these things." She also stated "I did not shoot, not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees. And that's the last I remember." She reported being treated very well in Iraq, and that one person in the hospital even sang to her to help her feel at home.


Controversy also arose regarding the differential treatment and media coverage to Lynch and Shoshana Johnson, an African American soldier captured in the same ambush as Lynch, but rescued later- a variation of " Missing white woman syndrome" . Critics, including Rev Jesse Jackson said that Johnson's race was a major reason that Johnson received little media attention and a smaller disability pension as compared to Lynch.


On April 24, 2007 Jessica testified to the Congress . She began her testimony by noting for the record that her appearance was not politically motivated. In a prepared statement, she continued

"I believe this is not a time for finger pointing. It is time for the truth, the whole truth, versus hype and misinformation.


"I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary…" She never fired her M16 rifle , which was jammed, as were all weapons systems assigned to her unit.She had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed."


The "story of the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting" was not true. Lynch said: "I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend


It appears that she was simply a normal kid who'd joined the peace-time Army to earn money for college and later met with a run bad luck in a combat theater.


Now What about Ben Laden's Assassination !


When and if ever , will we ever learn the truth about the assassination of Ben Laden! I have gone into some details about an alround conspiracy and complicity about the false testimony of the Kuwaiti Ambassador's daughter to US Congress Caucus , which persuaded the US Senate to vote for the war against Iraq in 1991 .


I was posted at Amman ( 1989-92), when only Jordan had its frontiers open to Iraq .So I had a ring side view .Amman was crawling with hundreds of western and other media men and I witnessed firsthand decline of US and western media . False testimony in the Congress was only a symptom of western media's decline and its embedding with the US military only hastened US media's fall.

Since mid 2002 , while surfing the internet for blogs sticking to the traditions of professional journalism , I watched with horror and contempt CNN , BBC and others spinning truth , disseminating half  truths and plain lies and by mid afternoon repeating them .

According to Media Tenor; a Bonn-based non-partisan media research organization, BBC gave in its over all coverage a mere 2% time to opposition's anti-war voices, before the illegal US led US invasion of Iraq ,which was really the majority view of the British people, who protested in millions against the war in London . It was the worst of the leading broadcasters, including US networks. ABC of USA with 7% was the second-worst case of denying access to anti-war voices.

In a 4 July, 2003 comment in " the Guardian" titled "Biased Broadcasting Corporation", Justin Lewis, Professor of Journalism at Cardiff University confirmed the above results .A careful analysis by the university of all the main evening news bulletins during the war, concluded that of the four main UK broadcasters - the BBC, ITN, Channel 4 and Sky, BBC's coverage was the worst in granting anti-war viewpoint. Since then Western media has morphed into poodles of western corporate interests, with Indian media , specially its trivia and celebrity obsessed so called national TV channels , being nauseating copycats.

The author has written on US led war on Iraq and its brutal occupation ,since mid 2002 over fifty in depth online articles , which have stood the test of time including predictions of decline of the American Century ,ending of US Viceroy Paul Bremmer's regime like that of the British Sir Percy Cox in Iraq in 29th century and the rise of the resistance in January ,2004 , when the Neo-cons and US media were gloating over the success of the invasion and so called victory .These articles have been translated into a dozen languages of the world and many copied by many scores of websites all over the world .

The timing of the Abbottabad operation comes conveniently when Obama's ratings for re-election are poor , in spite of no serious and rational Republican opponent . US as an economic power is fast declining , with a debt of $ 14 trillion , an annual trade deficit of around $500 billion , surviving on purchase of US treasuries by China , Gulf kingdoms and others .Standards and Poor have threatened to downgrade USA's credit rating of  AAA. It would have been for any other country equivalent of bankruptcy.

The Washington-Riyadh-Rawalpindi axis is creaking but will linger on despite the hot and cold exchanges between USA and Pakistan. Washington and Riyadh have different perceptions on Bahrain. For how long will US protect the Saud dynasty with discontent among its vast underemployed and disfranchised youths and Shia revolts in Bahrain and inside the Kingdom itself.

US Congress Commission of inquiry into 11/9 was a whitewash job, according to many well informed individuals and groups in USA and elsewhere . Films have been made to prove this point .In USA  , there is a growing opinion that it was an inside job. For example , Richard Gage, a San Francisco architect and founder of the nonprofit Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth said


"The official Federal Emergency Management [Agency] and National Institute of Standards and Technology reports provide insufficient, contradictory and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers' destruction. We are therefore calling for a grand jury investigation of NIST officials" 

The technical issues surrounding the collapse of the towers has prompted years of debate, rebuttal and ridicule. Gage is particularly disturbed by Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper, which was not hit by an aircraft, yet came down in "pure free-fall acceleration."


Gage also says that more than 100 first-responders reported explosions and flashes as the towers were falling and cited evidence of "multi-ton steel sections ejected laterally 600 ft. at 60 mph" and the "mid-air pulverization of 90,000 tons of concrete & metal decking." There is also evidence of "advanced explosive nano-thermitic composite material found in the World Trade Center dust," Mr. Gage adds. There is little evidence that an aircraft hit the Pentagon. Even CNN's first report said it was a missile. .


As for 911 and Ben Laden's culpability, one of the clearest indications that it  was an act of false-flag terrorism is that during the ten years after the attacks, not a single victim's lawsuit has gone to trial, although peripheral "terrorist" cases that did not require proving the official version have been tried. Likewise, although the government claims to have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged "Mastermind of 9/11", in detention, in April 2011 the Obama administration abruptly reneged on its promise to try the 9/11 suspects in an open court and announced that the accused terrorists would be processed in a closed military tribunal in Guantanamo, Cuba.


Alvin K. Hellerstein, the federal judge in Manhattan who has overseen the 9/11 litigation, has effectively blocked any trial for the relatives that would address the question of culpability for the terror attacks. In a judicial war of attrition against the families of the 9/11 victims, all of the families, with only one exception, were pushed into accepting out-of-court settlements, which prevent them from being part of any further litigation. 


The family of 9/11 victim Mark Bavis is the last family standing of the nearly 100 families that chose to litigate to determine who is responsible for 9/11 rather than accept the government payout. Judge Hellerstein has stated that he intends to severely limit the time allowed for the Bavis family lawyers to only 50 hours, a most unusual and arbitrary limit to be imposed on a trial of such importance.


So we will continue to receive cooked up tales about who was responsible for 11/9 and how it happened .And how was Osama ben Laden actually assassinated .


K.Gajendra Singh 25 May, 2011,Delhi


K Gajendra Singh served as ambassador of India to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he was ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. Apart from postings in Dakar, Paris, Bucharest , the author spent his diplomatic career in North Africa , Middle east and Turkic countries ( ten years in Turkey in two tenures ).He spent 1976 with National Defence college , New Delhi , established the Foreign Service Institute for training of diplomats ( 1987-89), was chairman / managing director of IDPL , India's largest Drugs and Pharmaceuticals company ( 1985  and 1986 ) and while posted at Amman( 1989-92) evacuated nearly 140,000 Indian nationals who had come from Kuwait. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.






Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TRAVELATHON- 1980 ;Travel to Chicago and Other US Cities

TRAVELATHON- 1980 ;Travel to Chicago and Other US Cities

From Ambassador's Journal


CHICAGO; 24th October 1980


I am again bewitched by her dazzling beauty - enthralled and enchanted by her splendour - looking at her from Sharad's guest-room French windows. This evening again, as the dusk envelops her lingeringly, she starts adorning herself with glittering diamonds, with some pale opals, rubies and emeralds - scattered here and there. She arranges them slowly and deliberately, almost coquettishly like a Moghul courtesan and transforms herself into one of Ajanta Apsaras - dark, dusky and mysterious; sublime and divine - pearls-bedecked. I cannot take my eyes off her.


Her ravishing beauty mystifies me, captivates my heart; at the same time , fills me with fear and foreboding. Behind that shimmering splendour might lurk treachery and insensitivity, callousness and infidelity; dark and vile emotions, and lust for wealth and revenge. But when I first entered the bedroom last night, I instantly fell in love. Slept only fitfully, raising myself from the pillows to gaze at her, again and again, till the dawn came lighting up. She takes off her jewels, one by one and the raw unadorned profile of Chicago hits my eyes; from the 45th floor apartment residence of the Indian Consul-General (you guessed it, it is the highest apartment building in the world).


To be continued later ......


This was my first ever visit to USA


Bucharest ;November,1981


Sensing the throbbing new world just across the Atlantic from my shore based Dakar Residence, and having had counted enough waves for two years, a desire to visit the United States of America and see it for myself caught my fancy. I also needed to shake off humidity induced hibernation. While the Consulate General at San Francisco offers many attractions, this post and those at Chicago and New York never attracted me. Minister's post in Washington had just been filled up and there was little hope in near future of ever becoming Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations, because of not belonging to the Chitpavans ( Brahmins) of the Indian diplomacy; that special elite, the thrice born experts in multilateral diplomacy who get rotated from New York to Geneva to Brussels and the UN Division in the M.E.A. -- a veritable mafia. So I took the plunge on my own at my own expense.


In a two month-long travelathon, I crossed the Continents of Africa and USA, Atlantic Ocean and Arabian Sea twice, European Continent and part Asia once. It became feasible financially only because the round trip Government-paid home-leave passage could include Algiers, Oran, London, Bombay, Udaipur, Delhi, Bombay, Addis Ababa, Accra and back to Dakar, by making a little extra payment. Thanks to the cut-throat competition across the Atlantic, I was able to buy a standby ticket on Pan-Am for $ 370 only ,from London to New York and back, and as a bonus, I could travel all over the US continent for 6 weeks for another $ 299 only. Even the miserly paid Indian Foreign Service Officers can afford this, after having put in 20 years; but the visit became otherwise almost free and a joy because of very affectionate and insistent hospitality, which included picking me up from the airport on arrival, complete board and lodging and putting me back onto the outgoing flight, by Purush (ottam) in New York, Ishrat (Aziz) in San Francisco, Partha (sarathy) in Washington and Sharad (Bhatnagar) in Chicago. Ishrat also arranged my stay with Dr. Marwah, a very wealthy and influential dentist in Los Angeles. His ranch ­cum-palace on the Malibou Beach, the very exclusive area of Los Angeles was right out of Hollywood. Offering more than 5-star luxury, his hospitality and personal care were extremely touching. Mrs. Marwah from Patiala, where I had lectured nearly 20 years ago, even produced 'Lassi' for breakfast.


I was told that Dr. Marwah, now with a flourishing dental practice and much other property, had to opt for the States nearly two decades ago, having not been selected for a Reader's job in Bombay. Heard of Hargobind Khorana and success of rejected sons of mother India.


I am very grateful to Asha (Singh in London), Susheela, Naseema, Shanti, Bharati and Isobel, who were generous with their hospitality and warmth (No, No, it is not meant as a come on for the next visit). I would like to dedicate the travelathon to them and to the PAs and PSs ( personal assistants & secretaries) of my colleagues who made all travel and other arrangements and helped me in shopping and other chores with a smile.


Departure Dakar, Senegal ;4 October,1980.


I got on Air Algeri flight which took off from Dakar on 4 October 1980 morning and after a brief halt at Nouakchott, zigzagged  East to Niamey, Niger's throbbing capital (thanks to uranium). The journey over Sahara was fascinatingly dull. All these little known places and others like Bamako, N'djamena and Bangui etc. would be household words like Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Dubai etc. once the reportedly buried uranium wealth underneath is mined to fuel energy needs of last decade of this century and early 2lst century.


I reached Algiers around 6.30 PM having under-calculated the travel time and barely had time to rush to Ambassador K.M Lal's residence for a couple of drinks. Rita was very warm and hospitable and in spite of recent burst of a gas cylinder in her face was her usual glamorous self.


I then flew on to Oran to be with my sister Sudha whose husband Kamal is teaching Physics at the Telecommunication Institute. There was some delay in reaching their flat, as there was a flat tire at a lonely spot on the way, the spare had no pressure and it started raining. Was he embarrassed? And it was poor fellow's first time out with his new car.


On the return journey from India via Africa I made a 2-day stop in Addis to be with my younger brother Vijay teaching Metallurgy there. This is my family's contribution to Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).


During the London halt from Oran I was very warmly and affectionately looked after by Asha and Dr. I.P. Singh and Alan Nazareth and Isobel in Accra stop just before my return to Dakar on 2nd December 1980. I spent three clear days and one day again in New York, 3 days in San Francisco and 2 days each in Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago.


Not that my stay in India from 29th October to 28th November was any less hectic. Throughout my two month long travelathon, I did not spend more than 3 days at a stretch at any place. And then I had to change plans, completely, after Additional Secretary S.K. Singh flew to Hong to buy property for the Ministry with a pithy and enigmatic statement that on his return after 3 days we would discuss my next posting.


So while waiting for his return ,I jettisoned my longer planned visits to Goa, Madras and Pondicherry and decided to confront and see for myself the legendary and emerging institutions and industries of Gujarat, for the first time. There was also that insistent invitation from Sebastian Jacob, General Manager IFFCO, Kandla, who had been to Dakar in connection with our investment in the Phosphoric Acid Plant. I had been deeply impressed by his gloved steel no-nonsense approach in decision making and implementation. Although in Dakar I had expressed my inability to take so much time out, I decided to veil my visit to Gujarat to see the plant. I added Baroda with its Petro-Chemical Complex and Ahmedabad.


Only a day before finalising the schedule, I learnt that one has to go to Kandla or rather the nearest airport Bhuj via Bombay, so I reached Bhuj in a roundabout way at 4 P.M. in the after noon on l3th November. I was rather embarrassed by the floral reception arranged at IFFCO . After driving with Mr. Jacob , with whom I travelled from Bombay, to the newly-built tree-lined and flower planted IFFCO guest house, I made up on my delayed siesta and after a shower and tea was sent off to visit a Jain temple nearby. That probably purified me. On the way back I stopped at Anjar, where I greedily bought bed covers, lungis, bandhanis, with typical local and Kachhi designs. The dinner was delicious, even though the cook had tried his hand at French cuisine after quite sometime.


Before lunch the following day, I visited the Kandla sea port, Kandla Free Trade Zone and the IFFCO Fertilizer Complex and saw Jacob supervising an officers meeting like a stern and benevolent headmaster. There was a good local gathering at lunch and after thanking Mr. Jacob sincerely and profusely I left for Kalol in IFFCO's car. Driving through the little Rann (of Kutch), via historical towns like Morvi and Limbdi , I made a detour to the palace of Raja of Wankaner, whose son Ranjit Singh Jhala is an IAS batch mate. The Maharaja himself had been to my flat in Paris for a meal and I was keen to surprise the old man. The palace is extremely beautiful and I was very charmed by the Maharaja's old world hospitality. He proudly showed me the trophies (hunted) collected by him and his sons.


I reached Kalol around ten at night and found to my horror that General Manager, Johar-purkar, a very quietly efficient and perceptive administrator, Manager (Personnel) Krishna were waiting for me. Dusty and tired, after apologising I expressed my desire to visit the next day, National Institute of Design, Darpana Academy of Performing Arts and Calico Museum before lunch (served a la assembly line at a vegetarian restaurant), drive to Baroda to visit Petrochemicals Plant back for an official dinner (I actually accomplished all that and the following day visited Da rpana (again!), drove to Lothal Shipyard , 80 KM away (Indus Valley vintage), visited the Kalol Fertilizers Complex, met my IAS batch mates and friends, called on the Chief Minister and had dinner in a diva-lit sprawling rural and relaxed dinner complex. It could be a place of mischief up North.


And, when my lAS friends mildly remonstrated at my having not spent enough time with them, I offered to play bridge with them till my plane took off the next morning at 0700 hrs. The challenge was taken up, but by 2.30 A.M. my friends, all Secretaries to the State Government realised the responsibilities awaiting them the next day at the office, so we called it a day. I won a few rupees.


Mr. Johar-purkar and Krishna nodded at may heavy schedule and looking at me sympathetically, added that they would see to it the next day. I dusted myself and raising myself to my full 5' 10" from (actually it is only 5' and 9 3/4") I firmly announced that I had been maintaining that kind of schedule for the last 6 weeks. (I have given some details just to indicate the hectic tempo maintained over nearly two months of my so-­called vacations). Johar-purkar was kind enough to accompany me everywhere the first day. Krishna, an extremely sympathetic and engaging companion was with me for my full two days during which I suspect I over­strained him.


I had started my travelathon with one India made suitcase with four rollers; one was lost at the Algiers airport, the second at Heathrow. I was forced to use the rear two wheels, but, one went a cantering in USA and the last one I left behind in India. I gained so much from all these places, old friends and new friends and rolled on, leaving a bit of myself everywhere.


I mostly travelled by air planes, but also used cars, underground, trains, taxis, jeeps, buses, helicopters (to Bombay High and back). Did you notice, no boats ( cannot swim) Up in the air, I become fatalistic. I would have loved to write about all cities visited in USA, but it was mostly rushing from one museum to another, one art gallery to another, travelling from one historical sight to another, and only sometimes meeting and chatting with friends. Dinners were mostly with colleagues, rich Tandoori cuisine. I tried to cut down at lunch ,­salad and a glass of milk. Even in Los Angeles with new and cherished friends, the dinner had to be in a Mughal Restaurant in the Beverly Hills. The time spent in States was too short and I really saw very little. I also met very few Americans and that too rather ephemerally. So I only make a few observations and some bookish comments later.


While most Ambassadors from developing but cultured world personally sign the visas asked by their colleagues, even for private visits, the American and some others, which I had not noticed in Dakar , issue only ordinary tourist visas, signed by lowly Vice-Consuls. As a

result apart from missing extra fuss to which one gets used to unfortunately, 1 was asked but I refused to open my suitcase in New York, when the Customs Officer so desired. I strongly feel that on the basis of 'Vienna reciprocity', there is no need to be extra polite and considerate to the American and other  such diplomats.


Another unsavoury incident related to a steward's insistence when the plane took off at Houston that I put in the hold a biggish hand bag, which I was carrying with me to save time from checking in and checking out. The airlines stipulate that it should be within certain dimensions and it should go under the front seat, so that the passengers can get out fast in case of an emergency. As the aircraft was practically empty, the handbag was in any case safely placed on the next seat. Many other handbags, I observed, were larger than the prescribed limits. Nevertheless when reason failed, I defied them to take me off the plane, when the steward and the captain and the chief stewardess threatened to do so.


Mind you, there were many very sympathetic noises from other American passengers, which made it easier. And, then there was that very charming air-hostess on New York-San Francisco flight and when famished , having had only a cup of tea since early morning, I barged into the food cabin and aware that lunch would not be served for another two hours, I remarked that if she left the cabin unattended I would burgle it, she charmingly brought a sumptuous breakfast five minutes later. I almost gave her my card to invite her for a dinner in Dakar, with the ocean waves lapping the Residence. I also met many other Americans, friendly, relaxed and easy-going. But there was something missing in the whole scheme of things. It is difficult to put it, may be a lack of continuity and assurance, a lack of elegance and order, one sees in European capitals and poorer but cultured countries.


Two visits made an everlasting impact: the Disneyland in Los Angeles and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Walt Disney's creation is fantastic; in a few hours it peels off layers of inhibitions, selfishness, greed, petty and vile thoughts and one looks at the world again, childlike - in his own image as God created man - with wonder and awe, joy and abandon; savouring freedom, laughter and fantasy. Children, of course, love it, but what a revelation to see "grown-ups" (my foot) forgetting themselves for a few hours and to have all pure and childlike emotions and desires rekindled again. It was a great experience. The Air & Space Museum was the only place I visited twice, in spite of a very tight schedule. What a collection and what an education! All that money can buy, and thanks to the pre-dominant American contribution to space exploration. It starts with the outlines of man's impulses and dreams to fly, to float, to speed away from his environment; its history and development described beautifully in detail and with authenticity. And, then there were those two marvels of films; on USA and in 'Living Planet'. The historical section brought out early Chinese, Arabic and Greek attempts to explore space; but I found no mention of our "Pushpak Viman".


Chicago; October 24, continued—


And to imagine that there were so many ifs and buts, before I reached Chicago! While the round Pan-Am ticket covered Detroit, the tag for half hour hop by monopoly Republican Airlines to Chicago was $70.


At my last stop in Washington D.C. I was told that Sharad was planning to fly back to India in view of a tragedy in his family. But he himself rang up, insisted and persuaded me to visit Chicago as scheduled; for, he would be going to India a little later. So I coughed out $ 70,  wondering whether it was worth visiting the city of Al Capone and his likes, with its unsavoury reputation highlighted by Hollywood (Chicagoans retort back that in Los Angeles there are folks wandering around in the smog who have been lost for years and are still trying to find their way home to husbands and wives who have since remarried and to children who grew smart and left town). But I am glad that I came here. As my seat could not be confirmed from Detroit, I was a little uneasy and was the last but one to get in, half a minute before the plane took off. This was the closest threat to my well arranged but flexible travelathon schedule.


The plane landed at O'Hara International Airport, unarguably the busiest in the world. Poor pilots, after touchdown and before take-off, have to negotiate through cross traffic of other aeroplanes weaving in and out on the tarmac, without the benefit of lights or policemen. But, after all that, there was the comforting sight of Sharad waiting at the airport. We cruised along the beautiful lake front drive on the Lake Michigan on his apartment in Lake Point Tower. He guided me to the bar overlooking Lake Michigan - dark, silent and pregnant.


Sharad  wanted to celebrate with Champagne (which, unless very good, is a highly over-rated drink, except, I am told, when used for rapid seduction). But I opted, after my long journey, beginning in Washington at 5 in the morning, to good old whisky. We chatted of old times in the Ministry, our battles against labour contractors from Middle East and our successful efforts to protect interests of Indian engineers, doctors and workers. Just then, began a most dazzling and scintillating show of fireworks. To see it from 45th floor, at eye level or even from above, gives a totally different perspective, than just looking up from the ground and ending up with a pain in the neck (as in New York looking up sky scrapers). I marvel at Sharad's ingenuity for such a fabulous welcome. Very simple, says Sharad, the Chinese had opened an exhibition and he had only requested them to suit the timings to my arrival. And, who can produce better fire-works than the Chinese , inventors of gun powder and masters in creating such splendour and riot in dazzling colours.  Bharati looks full of beans, happy and contented and produced an excellent dinner, after which I entered my bedroom to feast on the lights of the city of Chicago.


This morning we drove to the Consulate General and with an Attache in tow, I pushed off to the Art Institute of Chicago. Near the entrance itself I saw the bookshop and was lost in the variety of art books displayed. Beautifully produced and so very reasonably priced. I bought a few kilos for Bulbul. I am already lugging a couple of kilos of water and oil paints, acrylic paints etc. right from Sanfrancisco. That is a good father. I would rate the Institute as almost the best in America. It has developed into an exceptional museum over the years ever since wealthy Chicagoans were persuaded nearly a century ago to finance its birth and its steady development.


What a fantastic collection! Barring perhaps the Museum of Modern Art and Louvre in Paris, it houses possibly the largest collection of the world-renowned paintings of Dutch, Flemish and French masters, Barbizon School and more especially of French impressionists. It also has a section on Oriental Art displaying Japanese wood-block prints, Chinese porcelain, archaic Chinese bronzes , even Indian sculpture and Persian and Indian miniatures.


The major sections are divided into earlier paintings, 20th century paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, photography, European decorative arts , American arts, classical arts and textiles. It was such an aesthetic joy and revelation to see the real thing, to see the very paintings which have transformed the course of art and of which I had only seen small reproductions. I catalogue below a few of them:


'Life of John, the Baptist, by Giovanni di Paolo, 'Madonna and Child' by Rogiers van der Weydan, 'Madonna and Child with Angels' by Botticelli, 'Creation of Eve' by Paolo Veronese, 'the Annunciation' by Master of Moulins, Man with a Pink' by Quentin Massys, 'the Assumption of Virgin by El Greco, 'Resurrection' by Garavaggio, 'Holy Family with Infant St. John and St. Elizabeth' by Rubens ,'Young Girl ' by Rembrandt, ' Stiff Life with Carp' and 'Christ rocked' by Eduard Manet and the fabulous Claude Monnet masterpieces; 'the Beach at St. Adresse', 'the River', 'the Old St. Lazare Station, Paris', 'Iris by the Pond, a Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte, Pissaro's 'the Crystal Palace', Renoir's 'Lady at the Piano', 'the Rower's Lunch', 'Two Little Circus Girls', 'On the Terrace' etc., 'Sunday Afternoon', 'On the island of la Grande Jatte' by George Seurat, 'Woman in the Rose bar', 'the Millinery Shop', 'Dancers in the Wings' by Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne's 'The Basket of Apples', 'Vase of Tulips' and 'Madame Cezanne in Yellow Chair'; Vincent Van Gogh's 'Bedroom at Arles', 'Self-Portrait'; Toulose Lautrec's 'At the Moulin Rouge'; Gauguin's 'the Day of the God'; 'Houses at Chatok' by Vlamminck.


Among the modern masterpieces, Georges Braque's 'Harbour in Normandy', Delaunay's 'Champ de Marx', Kandisky's 'Improvisation with Green Centre No. 176'; Picabia's Edtaonist'; 'Portrait of Picasso' by Juan Gris; 'the Praying Jew' by Marc Chagall, and of course, Pablo Picasso's the Old Guitarist', 'Man with a Pipe', 'Daniel-Henry Kahweiler', 'Mother and Child', Henry Matisse's 'Bathers by a River' and 'apples'. You can also gaze at Joan Miro's 'Portrait of a Woman', Mondrian's 'Diagonal Composition', 0'Keeffe's 'Black Cross', Salvador Dali's 'Inventions of the Monsters', Kooning's 'Excavations' and Pollack's 'Greyed Rainbow'. I have only mentioned some of the masterpieces.


The city of Chicago boasts of many museums, theatres, operas and has a rich tradition in architecture, which began in mid-1880's. It has produced great architects, such as Jenney, Burnham, Root, Sullivan, Adler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Van der Rohe. After the Great Fire in 1871, which destroyed most of the city, it needed rebuilding quickly and the need was not for ornate structures, but for height, light, economy; met by no-nonsense buildings which was the hallmark of what came to be known as the first Chicago School of Architecture. The members of this elite group were basically engineers and, architects incidentally, who learnt to replace masonry with iron, steel and glass. Chicago's moist and uncertain soil led to the architectural invention of hollow caisson 'floating foundation'. Although Wright once suggested the feasibility of a mile high building, he is remembered for his graceful and airy designs, use of native materials and the development of the 'pririe house'.


For the 1893 exposition, classical architect Burnham with the help of 'imported' Eastern architects, designed the fair in the form of a 'Great White City' of Roman classical buildings, so dazzling that neo-classical architecture became the rage not only in Chicago, but throughout America. You can thus see white terracota  Spanish renaissance skyscraper named Wrigly building, flying-buttressed Gothic Revival Tribune Tower and the replica of a Greek temple crowning the Stone Container Building.


Sharad had arranged a lunch meeting with some Indian teachers at the Institute of Technology to which we were delayed because I had lingered at the Art Institute and it was drizzling. Finally we traced Professor Saxena, Professor Garg and others, all heads of departments or full professors. Professor Garg was a couple of years junior to me at Banaras Engineering College but we had not known each other then, having not distinguished ourselves in sports, music or some such dramatic thing. We went round the Institute and its departments. It is gratifying to find such a large number of Indians in top academic posts, particularly in the engineering and medical profession all over the States.


Indians abroad represent India faithfully - sticking to its diversity, but there are signs that attempt to unite, on the basis of ethnic affinity and economic gains, are being made. Most come from our elite institutions and are the very best. The Indian community has the second highest per capita income after the Jews in USA. As their numbers grow and they get better organised, it would be fascinating to project their role as a minority group in US foreign policy vis-a-vis Indian interests. Would the absorptive American society assimilate Indians? Or Indians would retain their identity - social and cultural? What contribution would they make, in the spiritual stream - with all those holy men and gurus ­some genuine, most frauds.


Later, we went to the South Asia Centre of the University of Chicago and apart from visiting some of the faculty members, spent most of the time in an unbelievably rich library, which possibly has in one place more books on India than any major University Library of India.

You can have them in Oriya, Urdu, Telugu, Gujarati and what have you. Sharad also told me about the excellent medical and other faculties and the number of Nobel laureates at the University. Earlier, Ishrat in San Francisco had proudly given the number of Nobel laureates at the Stanford University, where he had taken me and Berkley, I had been on my own earlier. And with what pride they announced the numbers.


1 was very keen to visit the Fermi Institute, the site of the first successful Fission chain reaction in December 1942. It later led to the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 'hallowed' spot has a 'Nuclear Energy' bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, depicting the nuclear cloud after the explosion. But the artist's soul can never lie. Believe me, it looks like a giant human skull. I hope it does not symbolise the future of our civilization, the way we  are going.


We hurried back to the flat, collected Bharati and went to Professor Saxena. His gentle American wife laid out an excellent lndian dinner, cooked by herself, confirming that the best and lasting way to a man's heart is still through his stomach. We talked of various things e.g. the coming American elections and fortified by a few drinks succeeded in provoking the American representative of Air India, who though not a Republican, but with the American hostages still in lran, violently confided that just to assert the American power, they would vote in Reagan.


After dinner I suggested to Sharad to show some sin life; we were passing by the Playboy Club in any case. Sharad, who like other Consul Generals , is a member, took me in. It was not the hub of the Hugh Heffner empire, but a make-shift arrangement. A demure looking young girl came and introduced herself as Cathy "Your Bunny". She looked rather vulnerable, apprehensive and tentative.


While we were trying to find a place we were repeatedly accosted by a 'drunk' who offered to buy us drinks. Not desirous of having his company, we politely refused every time. I think, lonely, he was keen to just talk to someone. Apart from drinking, nothing very much happened there and convinced that what Heffner says is hyperbole, I said we leave. Defending, Sharad said that it was only because of the make-shift nature of the temporary accommodation, otherwise the club was not such a dumb place and offered to drive me

to one a little far away from the city, an offer I refused as that was not the purpose of my visit.


Hugh Heffner and his birth place Chicago symbolise the American conflict and an attempt to revolutionise sexual mores in a basically puritanical society. A city which publishes Encyclopaedia Britannica and which boasts of magazines like Esquire, Coronet and Christian Science Monitor or Popular Mechanics and even Ebony is also the fountainhead and blossoming forth of all that is represented by Playboy. Heffner himself was very strictly and properly brought up in a Methodist puritanical household. Blessed with an I.Q. of 152 and regarded as emotionally deficient, he persisted in his viewpoint and succeeded in exploiting the unfulfilled dream of lonely and alienated Americans (and others) who would not venture out but can buy for the price of a magazine the illusion of an available alluring woman; a young woman for an old man, a desirable one for the ugly, black for the white and nymphomaniac for the shy. Starting with the Marilyn Monroe centerfold in  December 1953, Mr. Heffner  never looked back and his empire has established tentacles all over. He has done better than Ian Fleming, who trying to live up to his creation James Bond's life style ,rapidly came to a sorry end.


CHICAGO; 25th October 1980


We lazily got up, had 'paratha' (fried Indian stuffed bread) breakfast and went to see the Museum of Science and Industry. It depicts the principles of science and their application in industry and in everyday life. Through exhibits in 75 halls you can trace the evolution of automobiles, trains, airlines and see a captured German U-boat and Appolo-8 spacecraft. We had junk food for lunch, went for a drive basically with the idea of buying things. At Penny & Co., people like us were trying on a variety of clothes. I bought for myself a leather-patch light suit and corduroy fancy looking jacket and slacks (made in Malaysia) basically to please my daughter who thinks that I dress dreadfully. She is right. We had to wait a little at the counter because Sharad with an earlier stint in Abu Dhabi, looked like an Arab guerilla making the cashier wonder if it was a stolen credit card.


 On the return drive through the city, Sharad explained where what action had taken place and the notorious sectors of the city. Of course, I had to see the highest building in the world, which is not the Empire State Building as many would still believe, but the Sears Towers, rising up to 443.2 mts. Having done the journey umpteen times, Sharad refused to come up, so I went up with his kids: It took us around 63 seconds flat to reach the top. For those who like to collect gold medals, here are the details: It is a 110 storey structure encased in steel, glass, aluminum and concrete, providing 4.5 million square feet of space. Sixteen hundred people worked on it for 4 years, using 76,000 tons of steel, giving the building a total weight of nearly 222,500 tons (how accurate the computers have become).


We went around the floor with sky lobbies (so actually) we did not really go to the top of the tallest building) enjoyed the view, which has nothing but lights spread down all around it! (The view from skyscrapers midway is quite different and in New York at mid-day you get the curious feeling of looking at shining and shimmering stalagmites). Well , it is quite something to have a clear and looking-down view; it gives you a feeling of superiority, by having the highest, the largest or the longest or the biggest something. I bought a few curios for Tinoo and others and came down recording for posterity my achievement of having scaled the highest building, if not the Mount Everest.


We had barely time to shave and shower, after which we went for dinner at Mr. Vaghela's residence. He himself was away, but his wife from Dulha House (of Jaipur) is a sister-in-law of my elder mustached brother, now teaching in Udaipur. (In one single generation, we seem to have jumped up from the Kshatriya caste to that of Brahmins - profession-wise at least). Mr. Vaghela works in the tourism industry (paying for the sins of his ancestors, by waiting on

and entertaining commoners). The house cooked food and some brought from the Mughlai Restaurant was delicious, fattening and cholesterol producing. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed it. There was a big gathering of Indians, including Mr. Vaghela's boss, one Mr. Patel. (Patels/Potels on the West coast mostly own hotels and motels, and ii you address an Indian there  as Mr. Singh or Mr. Patel, most of the time you would be right). Mr. Patel and a few others regaled us with some film songs. I was not feeling inspired a la Mehdi Hassan. The party, I was told, was a little subdued because of the intimidating presence of the Consul General and his guest. We came back home 'fed up' (food wise, having eaten 'shamelessly') and tired.


Chicago is a beautiful and charming city, stretching more than 45 KM and dotted with beaches and parks. The airport handles 50 million passengers per year and has a take off/touch down every 45 seconds. It is the second largest city and ranks first in the US in steel production, commercial printing, furniture marketing, radio and TV manufacturing, mail order business, industrial machine manufacturing, candy making, musical instruments, etc.


A typical Chicagoan is a child, or a grand child of immigrants, or an immigrant himself . Chicago i5 said to be the largest Polish city in the world after Warsaw, third largest Greek city and fourth largest Croatian Metropolis. You have East Europeans, West Europeans and South Europeans and now the real Indians. In USA itself, waves after waves of immigrants have come; while earlier immigrants have moved up in the hierarchy trying to stabilise it, it is churned up by motivated and dynamic new-comers  trying to find a place in the sun, or to 'earn the first million dollars'.


Breaking old taboos and building new traditions and norms has not been easy. Since mid-l9th century, the American puritanical values have been defended by vengeful and evangelical men like Anthony Comstocks, when writings of Ovid, Chaucer and Fielding were defined as sexually obscene and banned. Comstocks finally persuaded the US Congress in 1873 to pass a Federal Bill and carrying literally a gun, he ran amuck, terrorising publishers, arresting citizens, making woman accused of immorality commit suicide. Bennet, a fighter for freedom of expression, compared Comstocks to inquisitive Generals of the l5th century Spain and countered that there was much obscenity in Bible, including the tale of Abraham and his concubine, the rape of Tamar, the adultery of Absalom and the lustful exploits of Solomon. Comstocks' death in 1915 did not diminish the fervour which was taken up by many other individuals and societies.


Nevertheless, the freedom seekers continued with their hit-and-miss methods. One of the major fighters was Samuel Roth, a Jew who published 'Ulysses' 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', Kamsutra', Frank Harris's 'My Life and Loves'. Even Erskine Caldwell's 'God's Little Acre and William Faulkner's 'Sanctuary' were then banned. Another crusader was publisher Girodias of the Olympia Press, who published Vladimir Nabokov, Lawrence Durrel and James Joyce.


But the most courageous one was Austrian psychiatrist, Wilhelm Reich, who bounded from country to country and ultimately died in a US prison in 1957. He described average woman's early social conditioning as 'sex-negating' or at best 'sex-tolerating'. He believed that the religious tradition had its origin in the somatic condition of its celibate leaders and early Christian martyrs. Such belief developed the concept of "perfection" and "purity" of the soul. In his medical practice, Reich used therapy to penetrate this frigid armour and to convert "the energy that nourished neurotic numbness and destruction into channels of love  and tenderness, thus encouraging a capacity 'to surrender to the flow of energy in the orgasm without any inhibition - free of anxiety and unpleasure and unaccompanied by fantasies". Although he died unsung, his books 'The Mass 1'sychology of Fascism', 'Character Analysis', 'The Sexual Revolution' were re-issued in mid-1960s and had profound impact on college students and activists. We might also mention Herbert Marcuse.


It has been suggested that the major cause of sexual liberation was the Second World War when the American G.I.s went all over the world to defend freedom, leaving behind girl-friends who worked away from home and parental control. As part of patriotic duty, they continued to write love-letters to the front creating illusions of fidelity, but made love to those they did not even love. It was this freedom, this wide experience and experimentation which developed tolerance and under­standing in the parents for the next generation of 'permissive society' on the campus and elsewhere in sixties. It was, therefore, fitting that the youngest American President was part of the mainstream representing the sixties. Being close to Cardinals, he was unaffected by the joyless philosophy which stifled the lives of the poor parish regulars.


NEW YORK; 26th October 1980


I left Chicago this morning and had to almost wake up Sharad who has been working in office and keeping up with my hectic schedule. As decided earlier, I traveled by bus to Detroit. It was driven by a young and very attractive black girl. Although I have been driven (crazy) by attractive ladies before in motor cars, but in a bus this was the first time and I remained uneasy throughout. 

In Detroit I was met by Joan (black American), dear Barnabas's (just posted to Dakar) former wife with her two beautiful and intelligent daughters (Bulbul and Tinoo's friends from Ankara days). In three hours stay in Detroit she took me to her house for a wash, to Barnabas's parent's house ,who were delighted to see the friend of their kid (6 1/2.feet tall solid 44 year old fellow), Renaissance Centre, which encompasses a 70-floor Hotel Plaza (but, of course, it is the highest hotel complex in the world) from where across river Detroit you can gaze at Canada. We also jogged through the renowned Ford Motor Car Museum. What a collection a child's or a car fanatic's dream come true.. I said goodbye to Joan, forgetting my camera (only) in her car. What a different woman Joan has become after her divorce. Healthy, assured and dynamic. I remain most impressed, even though she refused to flirt.


I arrive at Purush's flat late. He has gone for bridge. I can join, but I don't; I have to pack. My mind is full of sights and ideas. What have I seen; very little. What have I read, perhaps a little. The ideas on freedom, equal rights for all, rights of black minorities, women's rights and feminists come to my mind. The effect of pills and discovery of orgasm and its demand as a right and man's threatened position. The unrelenting call for competition, individualism carried to the extreme, war against all and pursuit of happiness to a dead end, the totally narcissistic preoccupation with the self. Despite so-called 'emancipation', the new narcissist replaces guilt by anxiety, trying to find a meaning in life but doubting even the reality of one's own existence. 

Freedom from ancient taboos brings no sexual peace. At the same- time, investment in personal relationship has increased, because free from the bondage of procreation, family ties, there is a growing determination to live for the moment. The so-called 'open marriage' and 'creative divorce' and attempts to do away with notions of sexual possessiveness, jealousy and to promote 'deeper understanding' and 'commitment', in order to start an alternate life styles, might have broken up puritan inhibitions, but such attempts seem to bring ultimately more anguish, heart breaks and emotional ruins and insecurity to children. One might see them as attempts by strong-willed individuals to revive the customs and pre­rogatives of tribal chiefs in a modern setting.


The demystification of womanhood goes hand in hand with the de-sublimation of sexuality. With greater importance to sexual performance in the battle between the sexes, whereas the un-liberated woman, when she fell in love longed to let herself go, the pseudo-liberated one while having few reservations, exploits calculatingly by successively avoiding emotional entanglements. "Women with narcisstic personality may appear quite hysterical on the surface, with their extreme coquettishness and exhibition but the cold, shrewdly calculating quality of their seductiveness is in marked contrast to the much warmer emotionally-involved quality of hysterical pseudo-hyper-sexuality". Determined to manipulate emotions of the others while protecting themselves against emotional injury, the new generation cultivates an attractive shallowness, a cynical detachment which soon becomes habitual and embitters personal relations, because at the same time they demand from personal relations the richness and intensity of a religious experience.


Thus, we have the concept of love as 'a cure of loneliness' and 'of two solitudes reaching out to greet each other' and 'relating' to each other as we might relate a story. Relationships have to be meaningful as if it was business or a bargain. A lover has also been defined as some one to be totally honest with. Why not the priest! The shrink or the cat or dog. It is so easy to be seduced by this thinking and culture, more so by those living at the fringe of traditional conservative societies into believing "that free sexuality is anyone's for the asking, that one can throw over ones moral rearing without emotional consequences. 

The decision on how to live one's life continues to be a dilemma for the  people who have a conflict between p resent desire or imagination and earlier moral training". Such confusion lead to taking relationships us successive battles and forging ahead after adding one more scalp and sometimes a destructive and inverted brinkmanship between two master scalpers. One looks around with awe and wonder and in humility, and hopefully for grace, listen to those who ecstatically talk of fulfillment, rapture and bliss. What does one do ? One rolls on, mostly alone.


(K. Gajendra Singh)


BUCHAREST , Friday ,  l3th November, 1981.



I was encouraged to write Travelathon by the warm response to "'The Ambassador's Journal" to Timbaktou, from many dear friends, some of them no mean writers themselves. In contrast to the  Journal., which was written primarily for my children, I have raised the Travelathon to an adult level.