Osama bin Laden – Ezekiel 25:17

If you prick us do we not bleed?
If you tickle us do we not laugh?
If you poison us do we not die?
And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?

William Shakespeare


Wanted. Dear or alive (source)

There’s a little voice in pengovsky’s head going on for the past twenty-four hours about how I should be outraged by the fact the US issued Osama bin Laden a one way ticket for the train to the Big Adios yesterday. Yes, the anti-communist and/or oil-based US foreign policy. Yes, the immeasurable civilian suffering brought upon the rest of the world while America was trying to shape the world according to its own image. Yes, the American-sponsored dictators around the globe and yes, many-an-unjust (or even illegal) war. Yes, bin Laden didn’t come out of nowhere. Depending on your viewpoint, he is either a direct by-product of US post-war foreign policies or at least made very good use of the double standards the US employed around the globe in the past sixty years. And yet, I’ve no quarrel with him being up-close-and-personal with whatever god he believed in.

Dunno. Maybe it was the fact that I was in New York and came to like the place much more than expected. Maybe it was that the audacity of parking two jumbo-jets in a sky-scraper is un-fucking-believable even ten years after the fact. Or maybe it was just my own double standards. At any rate, yesterday’s action was a reminder of the fact that although the US is no longer the indisputable Big Kahuna, it is still one of the very few countries that posses resources, technology and equipment to pull this off. It is also one of the few things in this ill-conceived war on terror (and beyond) that the US actually followed through and finished the job. The fact that it happened under President Barack Obama is a slap-in-the-face not only to his predecessor whose military adventures are a gift that keeps on giving. It also shows that President Obama has cojones, because the last two attempts of this nature by the US military failed spectacularly (Somalia in 1992 and Tehran in 1979).

Now, some argue that it would be better if bin Laden had been taken alive and stood trial. Wrong. This would put him back in the public spotlight, elevating him to hero status yet again. Furthermore, in a trial accusations must be proven beyond the shadow of the doubt. Sure, he claimed responsibility for many attacks (curiously enough, the FBI did not want him for 9/11), but establishing a direct link (a chain of command) between bin Laden and actual civilian deaths might prove to be a tad more difficult than people think. Moreover, establishing their case, the US would probably have to share intelligence with the court and the defence, jeopardising further missions. And if – despite all misgivings – evidence is produced, who is to say that it was not gathered during torture, which would make it null and void. If you’re still not convinced, just remember what a show Slobodan Milošević made during his time at Scheveningen prison. And finally, holding a trial where the verdict is a foregone conclusion would look just bad.

With Osama bin Laden gone, the world is not a safer place. It is also difficult to say that justice has been served. What has happened, however, is that revenge was exacted. With great vengeance and furious anger. And I can’t say I can’t relate.

Question is, will there be hell to pay yet?

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Slovenes Reject Menial Work, Pollsters Miss By A Mile

In what appears to be an overwhelming defeat for the government of Borut Pahor, Slovenians today rejected the law on menial work by an 80/20 vote against. The turnout percentage was in the very low thirties, which makes it one of the more attended referendums in recent history (save the Arbitration Agreement referendum). That is in itself a sad fact, but there you go.


Lost. Ministers Katarina Kresal, Aleš Zalar, Ivan Svetlik and PM Borut Pahor (source: RTVSLO)

Politically, this is a slap-in-the-face for PM Pahor and his government that will hurt more than they will be willing to admit. True, the upcoming referendum on the pension reform is much more important and – if rejected – could even cause the government to step down. However, the law on menial work was a key part of labour market reform which will now still see plenty of tax evasion and companies which exploit students full time without guaranteeing them any social security whatsoever.

PM Pahor and labour minister Ivan Svetlik played down the result saying that people apparently are not yet aware of importance of reforms. On the other hands, there are calls for the PM to step down (even over at the wonderful Drugi dom blog, which generally gravitates to the left). Predictably the opposition, spearheaded by SDS of Janez Janša are interpreting the result as a no-confidence vote for the government, even though this time around the opposition just tagged along in what pengovsky still maintains was an unholy alliance of special interest. Anyways, there’s no reason for the government to resign. Elections are a year and a half away and even if the government resigned today, elections could not be held sooner than in autumn this year, not to mention that we’d probably have to go through a period of extended political crisis, since the MPs are about as likely to recall the parliament as they are likely to, say, ratify Slovenia becoming part of Croatia. Point being, that resignation of the government would most likely cause more problems than it would solve. Especially, since the other guys are not even close to being ready to take over. In fact, despite their vocal calls for Pahor to back his bags, the current situation suits them just fine, because they have yet to substantiate their claims of 50+ result in 2012 elections.

This is also yet another defeat for pollsters. Public opinion polls did in fact forecast victory for the no-vote, but no single poll detected a 80/20 distribution. Not one. Sure, it was a beautiful day today and with low turnout the margin of error increases substantially, but how the fuck don’t you detect an electoral freight-train coming in your direction? But perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps they did detect it but no-one published it, since the law forbade it. Days ago, the Constitutional Court ruled that this particular provision is unconstitutional and in the future we can look forward to last-minute polls on Friday nights :).

The way things stand now, people with ideas don’t have the authority, and people with authority don’t have the ideas. Expect turbulence ahead. We’re in for a bumpy ride…

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A Libyan Perspective in 7 Pictures


Colonel and Sarko. Those were the days, my friend… (source)

Picture 1: When the Soviet Union went to spread Communism in Afghanistan in 1979, they were hoping for a quick in-and-out. Based on complete and utter lack of perspective, Leonid Brezhnev sent in the troops to protect the socialist Afghan government and then demanded that Afghan leader Nur Muhammad Taraki secure the support of petite bourgeoisie, as per “manual of communist revolution”. The fact that there was no petite bourgeoisie in Afghanistan to begin with was a fact entirely lost on the Soviet leader. The rest, as they say, is history.

Picture 2: Reacting to increasing Soviet in the country, the United States started arming, training and bankrolling anti-communist insurgents. After the Soviet Union fell apart and retreated from Afghanistan, the insurgents came to power and became known as the Taleban. The rest, as they say, is history.

Picture 3: When Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to nationalise the Suez Canal, it prompted the military intervention of France and the United Kingdom who in cohort with Israel attacked Egypt and tried to topple Nasser’s regime. Officially, the pretext for Anglo-French intervention was Israeli invasion of Sinai Peninsula with France and UK deploying forces to “separate the warring sides”. The plan backfired as the US administration of President Eisenhower threatened to dump a whole lot of British sovereign bonds and send the value of the pound spiralling down. The British backed out of the action with the French following suit, both effectively relinquishing heavy-weight status on the world stage. The rest, as they say, is history.

Picture 4: When Somalia disintegrated from within, the United Nations mandated a US led humanitarian intervention in an increasingly ugly civil war. Without trying to pick a side they tried to bring peace to a conflict they didn’t understand, let alone controlled. Applying tactics and politics which resembled trying to have the cake and eat it, the intervention, although initially moderately successful, failed spectacularly. The rest, as they say, is history.

Picture 5: Three words. Bush, Iraq, WMDs. Nuff said.

Picture 6: Interestingly, no-one is contemplating military intervention in Iran (at least since Bush is gone), despite the fact that it has a stronger and more united opposition than many of the countries of the “Jasmine revolution” as well as previous experience with democracy.

Picture 7: Today, we have an US president who is desperately trying to wind up two ongoing wars, and embattled French president and a freshly minted UK prime minister, all of them with massive problems at home. Then we have a North-African leader of questionable mental balance with whom the whole world was eager to shake hands with, as Libya was one of the few places where money could be made, corruption and human rights be damned. And then we have a hastily put together UN Security Council resolution authorising the first military action against a sovereign country since post 9/11 US invasion of Afghanistan and first “humanitarian intervention” since Kosovo in 1999.

And let us not forget that for all intents and purposes, Libya still is a sovereign country with a legitimate (if dictatorial and unstable) leader. Seems to me that what we have here is an overzealous Sarkozy, a naive Cameron and a tired Obama, who is probably more than happy that someone else is taking the initiative. Problem is, it has been 55 years since France and the UK played a leading role in a real-life action flick. The other problem is, nobody really knows if the rebels really are “the good guys”. From what we know, they’re just “the other guys”. But if someone failed to land that lucrative deal, they quite possibly started to look a whole lot better than they may turn out to be.

And all of a sudden the West will find itself in another war which will drag on and on….

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Slovenia To Get It’s Very Own Guantanamo Detainee


Gitmo, Big O, and Lil’ B. (source and source)

Just as detailed in the now-infamous Wikileaks cable, Slovene PM Borut Pahor and US President Barack Obama discussed the possibility of Slovenia taking in a Gitmo detainee. The discussion apparently bore fruit as the government is mulling changes to the Aliens Act, expanding the possibilities of allowing temporary settlement of individuals for “political, cultural, economic and other reasons”. Political being the operative word, obviously.

Just as obviously, the possibility of a Gitmo detainee in Slovenia raised hair on the backs of defenders of all things Slovenian. Things like “al-Qaida in Slovenia” were being said with some people practically expecting a pair of 757s being parked into the Twin Towers of Nova Ljubljanska Banka across the street from the parliament and similar bullshit.

That resettlement of a Gitmo detainee is closely connected to the general state of Slovenia- US relations is no secret. At first glance it can be considered as a good-will/kiss-up gesture by Prime Minister Borut Pahor to President Barack Obama. After all, the US manhandled Croatia into signing the Arbitration Agreement with Slovenia and is the one player which decides how much clout Slovenia can have in the Balkans. Not to mention the fact that Slovenia is wooing US investors big time.

The fact that recent exploits of Slovenian economic diplomacy in the Arab and North African world have, for the time being at least, turned into desert dust since dictatorships of the area are being revolutionised, only adds to the necessity of being chums with people who still have money.

But I digress. The point is that both Slovenian government and the US Ambassador to Slovenia Joseph Mussomelli are bending over backwards to point out how this is a humanitarian gesture on Slovenian part and how we are helping out our American buddies to clean up this big pile of human rights abuse they’ve accumulated on their door step and with which they would have nothing to do any more, thank you very much.

If this really were the case, then Slovenia would be quite right to flip the bird to Washington, tell the Americans to fuck off and sort Gitmo out for themselves. I mean, why is it that US allies all over the world must now take in people who were denied fair trial, presumption of innocence and every other goodie of Habeas Corpus, whereas the US is now playing dumb and continues to promote democracy and human righst al over the world?

However, the case for Slovenia taking in a Gitmo detainee(s) is quite simple. Courtesy of the once-eternal Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel Slovenia signed the Vilinius Letter, effectivelly joining the Coalition of the Willing and supported the illegal and unjustified US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Slovenia later sent military and police instructors to that country, further involving itself in the mess of George W. Bush‘s making. It is only fair we contribute in resolving the mess too.

We helped fuck it up. We should also help clean it up.

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Creative Photocopying Leads To Creative Interpretation

After Janez Janša and his Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) were caught indulging in creative photocopying of archive material trying to implicate President Danilo Türk, the shit hit the fan yesterday, when Delo newspaper revisited and expanded the story it initially broke on Saturday. Delo’s exercise was relatively simple. It entered the state archives and compared the file SDS published against actual records.


(original image source: 24ur.com)

In what was a hugely embarrasing day for SDS and its leader it was sort of funny to see how the usually vocal SDS MPs and other party members were conspicuously quiet, running to their hidey-holes and avoiding media attention, even distancing themselves from the actions of the party (and by extension, their leader). The evidence against SDS was irrefutable, especially after the state archives published the complete set of documents completely confirming Delo story. However, just about that time SDS leader Janez Janša posted a lengthy reply on his party’s website.

And by lengthy I mean what-the-fuck-long. Ten pages of, well, the shit. It’s got everything: communism, Depala vas, arms deals, persecution, revolution, political intrigue, power struggle, secret services, media manipulation, arbitration agreement with Croatia and personal vendetta. Everything you ever wanted to know about Janša’s universe but were unable to comprehend. I really hope SDS will translate the text and post it on their new-and-improved English website. Either that, or I just might translate it myself. However, the text and subsequent Janša’s media appearances send a message other than the leader of the largest opposition party will have us read.

Bottom is that Janša took responsibility for the whole thing, basically admitting that he was fully aware of what was going on. He denied any wrongdoing and maintained that a) there was no forgery, not even “misinterpretation” and b) the president is lying when saying that he was not directly informed about Velikovec bombing. This means that whatever the fallout of this spectacular scew-up, it will land directly in Janša’s lap. By yesterday late afternoon this seems to have dawned on Janša, who predictably survived his first interview on Kanal A‘s trashy news programme, where the host was no match for the illustrious SDS leader. Things got worse later in the evening, when Janša appeared on state television and started changing the story and its highlights.

Thus the latest version of the truth behind “Archivegate” (moniker courtesy of the good doctor) as interpreted creatively by Janez Janša is that Danilo Türk was given information other than media reports about the background to Velikovec bombing some time after the attack. Conclusion: as of yesterday (according to Janša) being “directly informed” means getting any information (other than media reports) at any date after a particular event, even though the information in question is nothing but a non-problematic diplomatic cable.

Janša also went on to add that the whole thing only reiterates the need for the secret archives to be declassified. Regardless of the fact that the documents published were found in already declassified batch of documents. In other words, one has nothing to do with the other, except in Janša’s universe. That particular universe took a big dent yesterday. So big in fact, that Janša saw it fit to spread the blame, going out of his way to point out that it was “assistants to SDS parliamentary group” who sifted through the archives and came up with the documents. You know, just in case he starts to really feel the heat and he needs scape goats. The party faithful will come more than handy.

But still, why would Janša go after Türk in the first place? Pengovsky partly answered that question on Sunday. This was a ploy that back-fired on a massive scale and the collateral damage to SDS in general and Janša in particular will be considerable. It is very tempting to simply say that SDS leader has issues. In fact, the whole thing was most likely premeditated (after all, it was hinted at during impeachment attempt against Türk).

It is worth noting that 2012 will be the year of both parliamentary and presidential election and that a lot is up for grabs. Janša was making noises about a strategy called “50+”, probably meaning that he will attempt to secure absolute majority in the parliament. Given the (un)popularity of the government of Borut Pahor he might even have a chance (albeit a very slim one). But one area where he and his party are seriously lacking, is a credible presidential candidate. Other than again persuading Prosecutor General Barbara Brezigar to have another go at it (she lost to Janez Drnovšek in 2002 presidential campaign), there just isn’t a person with enough clout to run for that particular office. Especially with Danilo Türk probably running for re-election

Unless, of course, the incumbent president’s reputation is tarnished beyond repair.

Objectively speaking, the presidential race is a battle Janša can afford to lose. The president wields no executive authority and Janša (should he become the next prime minister) could easily govern with Türk in office. However, Türk was already in office during last year of Janša’s 2004-2008 government and made life rather difficult for the right-wing. Also, before Türk, the late Janez Drnovšek (he died on this day three years ago) also has plenty of not-so-nice things to say about Janša (calling him the Prince of Darkness), especially when Janša’s government went head-to-head against Drnovšek and his foreign policy exploits.

In short. Janša is only comfortable with total governing, controlling most if not all branches of power. And this is probably the gist of it. Archivegate is in fact an attempt to clear the field of a credible adversary ahead of what Janša hopes will be regaining the control of this country. Janša concluded his 10-page-essay hoping “that this will be done by elections and not by street protests”.

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