Just Push

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might…

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might!

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man’s weary mind: (He will do it every time!)

You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t moved.” Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.

Satan said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”

That’s what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in Your Service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done.

Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed.

But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard.

Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock..”

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.

By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God Who moves the mountains.

When everything seems to go wrong…………………………Just P.U.S..H.

When the job gets you down………………………..Just P.U.S..H.

When people don’t do as you think they should………………Just P.U.S.H.

When your money is “gone” and the bills are due…………….Just P.U.S.H.

When people just don’t understand you……………………….Just P.U.S.H.

P = Pray
U = Until
S = Something
H = Happens

Though no one can go back and make a **brand new start**, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

Friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.
May God Bless You.

God’s Foot-prints

On the “Day of Judgment”, human beings are presented before God. The conversation goes like this

Man, “O God, You are Forgiver and Kind”
God, “It is so.”

Man, “You are Omni-Powerful.”
God, “No doubt about that.”

Man, “You are the Giver.”
God, “I am what I have revealed.”

Man, “You love your creation (man) more than 70 times of love that a mother has for her child.”
God, “My love has no limits and I love all my creations.”

Man, “My mother used to worry on slightest trouble to me and would not be at rest till she was satisfied that I was O.K.”
God, “I had kept this instinct of immense love in your mother. Your mother looked after you so well as I willed. So, you know now how much I cared for you?”

Man, “Oh no.”
God, “What happened?”

Man, “Did you care for me always?”
God, “No doubt about that. I always cared for you.”

Then the man refers to some troubles that he faced in his life and complains to God

Man, “At these testing times, you left me alone.”
God, “Not at all. There was no question of leaving you alone.”
Man, “Then why I faced those difficulties?”

God directs an Angel to bring record of the foot-prints and show that to the man. Soon foot prints start appearing on a movie film like screen, a pair of foot prints of man and with them a pair of foot prints of God. This was the record of man’s total life.

The man looks on curiously all along the film and finding a few places having only one pair of foot prints, protests

Man, “I had referred to these times where there is only one pair of foot prints. I was left alone at these occasions.”

God, “You are mistaken. Where you see only one pair of foot prints, those are mine because at those difficult times of your life, I had lifted you in my arms. If I had not hidden you in my lap in those times, you would have not been able to face the situation.”

On this the man starts bitterly crying. His crying indicated his repentance and realization of his fault.

Human beings are prone to complain of small problems but they forget the treasures that God gives them without asking.

Pakistan heads down China road

Pakistan’s marriage of convenience with the US that began after September 11, 2001, with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and the launch of the “war on terror”, has endured some rocky times.

Informed opinion in strategic quarters in Pakistan is that in the second half of next year, American aid packages, in the wake of the beginning of the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan, will be reduced or even stopped, and the US’s relations with India will bloom.

Pakistan wants to be ready for such a development, and is using China as a hedge.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has visited China on several occasions since taking office in September 2008, but these visits have been more ceremonial than of substance, in part because his Washington-backed government had gravitated so close to the United States orbit that even the Chinese envoy in Islamabad publicly complained.

The Pakistani military establishment’s pro-China lobby, highly influenced by now retired General Tariq Majeed, frowned on this tilt towards the US, and was especially upset that the Americans were allowed to establsh a naval base in Ormara in Balochistan province, and that US defense contractors were given a free rein in the country. However, the post-Pervez Musharraf-era army was weak and didn’t have much choice except to turn a blind eye.

This situation continued until 2009, by which time the army had regained its influence in the corridors of power and had begun to prevail over the country’s decision-making process.

Hence, Zardari’s scheduled visit to China on November 11 takes on a special significance. Notably, he has not sought the counsel of his pro-US envoy in Washington, Husain Haqqani, who has consistently advised Zardari to keep his distance from Beijing. Instead, the president on Monday held a long meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani.

Zardari will attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, as well as meet with his counterpart Hu Jintao and senior officials.

On the surface, the leaders will discuss the Washington-opposed plan for a fifth Chinese-built nuclear reactor in Pakistan. However, the underlying emphasis will be on new moves on the grand chessboard of South Asia.

“This is a time of strategic uncertainty,” a senior Pakistani strategic expert told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity. “Although there is a strategic alliance between the US and Pakistan, the recent visit by United States President Barack Obama to India, which aimed to benefit the American economy, was revealing of how economic and strategic ties between India and American will be in the future: when push comes to shove, the Americans will stand with India, not with Pakistan.”

This does not mean that Pakistan, guided by the military, is instantly going to fall into China’s arms and abandon the US, but it is certainly considering adjusting its current alignments.

“While the US has provided all sorts of financial and economic assistance to Pakistan in return for its services in providing NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] a passage to Afghanistan and for fighting militancy in the tribal areas, America didn’t support Pakistan in regional conflicts with India,” the expert said.

“The US intervened to help resolve disputes between India and Pakistan, but in the end the formulas that emerged from Washington were aimed at creating a situation for dialogue and engagement – trade relations without any resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

“The only [US] goal was that Pakistan-India trade would resume and that would give the Americans a corridor from India into Afghanistan, and finally that dispensation would take India, geographically, into America’s strategic loop in South Asia and facilitate India’s role to work as an American strategic partner in Afghanistan and all the way up to Central Asia,” the expert said.

A changing world

From January to November 5 this year, there were 15 major militant attacks in Pakistan, a dramatic drop from 209 incidents in the same period of the previous year. According to the Canadian Press, the chronology of events shows that the first half of the year was marked by a visibly anti-state insurgency, as was the case in previous years. The frequency of attacks and the dynamics of conflict visibly changed after September [1].

Only two major attacks have occurred since then. These included suicide bomber strikes against a Sunni mosque in Darra Adam Khel in northwestern Pakistan on November 5, in which at least 67 people were killed during Friday prayers. There was also a Taliban suicide attack on a Shi’ite procession that killed 65 people in the southwestern city of Quetta on September 1, beside two other minor incidents against shrines in Karachi and Pakpattan.

This indicates that from September the violence become sectarian, or centered on tribal disputes. The attacks by the Taliban and al-Qaeda that played havoc in Pakistan in 2009 have virtually come to a halt.

Asia Times Online has documented the development of ceasefire initiatives between Pakistan and the militants These were brokered with various main groups and at present only fringe groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are left to carry out attacks, and even these are sectarian in nature.

On the other hand, attacks against Afghanistan-bound NATO supply convoys in Pakistan have increased dramatically, to the extent that they have become almost daily.

The “understanding” between the security forces and militants has reached the stage where militants have pledged they will release all prominent prisoners without demanding a high price. These include former Inter-Services Intelligence official retired Colonel Ameer Sultan alias Imam (known as the “Father of the Taliban”) and Aamir Malik, the son-in-law of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, retired General Tariq Majeed.

During Pakistan’s recent strategic dialogue with the US in Washington, Islamabad was directly urged to come out with a comprehensive action plan against the powerful Haqqani network in the North Waziristan tribal area. The network is a key player in the Taliban-led insurgency across the border in Afghanistan.

However, army chief Kiani is a fervent believer in dialogue with the network and sees it as a guarantee for peace in the future. The Americans have tried their level-best to reach out to the Haqqanis – Jalaluddin and his sons Sirajuddin and Naseeruddin – and the Taliban, but their talks to start talks have collapsed. This has been confirmed by Saudi and other officials involved in the process. Asia Times Online was the first publication to break the news of the failure.

Washington is still pressing Pakistan, though, to mount operations in North Waziristan, and is even prepared to use a stick if necessary. This could be done through international institutions in which the US has influence, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank and the United States Agency for International Development.

The IMF’s assistant director for the Middle East and Central Asia Department, Adnan Mazarie, recently warned that if these bodies stopped their credit lines to Pakistan, it would go into default. The IMF is now warning that if Pakistan does not implement a “credible and irreversible plan to implement power sector reforms”, aid will be cut off.

China means business

Last Sunday, Pakistan’s Daily Dawn reported that Pakistan had set aside all competitive international bidding for the induction of power plants in the country and had decided to award a contract, without bidding, to a Chinese company for the construction of 1,100 megawatt hydropower project in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, at an estimated cost of US$2.2 billion.

Approximately 10,000 Chinese workers are engaged in 120 projects in Pakistan and total Chinese investment – which includes heavy engineering, power generation, mining and telecommunications – stood at $15 billion at the end of this year, up from $4 billion in 2007.

One of the most significant joint development projects of recent years is the major port complex at the naval base of Gwadar in Balochistan province. The complex, inaugurated in December 2008 and now fully operational, provides a deep-sea port, warehouses and industrial facilities for more than 20 countries.

China provided much of the technical assistance and 80% of the funds for the construction of the port. In return for providing most of the labor and capital, China gains strategic access to the Persian Gulf: the port is just 180 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz through which 40% of all globally traded oil is shipped.

This enables China to diversify and secure its crude oil import routes and provides the landlocked and oil- and natural gas-rich Xinjiang province with access to the Arabian Sea. With China formally in command of Gwadar port operations, it would, along with Pakistan, gain an important regional and strategic advantage.

Pakistan’s marriage of convenience with the US that began after September 11, 2001, with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and the launch of the “war on terror”, has endured some rocky times.

Informed opinion in strategic quarters in Pakistan is that in the second half of next year, American aid packages, in the wake of the beginning of the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan, will be reduced or even stopped, and the US’s relations with India will bloom.

Pakistan wants to be ready for such a development, and is using China as a hedge.

An Article by: Syed Saleem Shahzad

The warfare state

The effete liberal intellectual is one of the favorite straw men for the right-wing branch of the American establishment. In fact, for defenders of triumphant US militarism, an attack by a member of the ”radical” left is almost welcome. They simply have to label the critic – who probably teaches at an eastern university and wears glasses – an America-hating snob who doesn’t support the troops. Implicit in this attack on the speaker (instead of the argument – the right wing never met a logical fallacy it didn’t like) is the assumption that our academic spent the ’60s smoking pot and burning flags, and could probably do with a salutary punch in the nose. And who cares what that wimp says?

With this in mind, it’s clear that a former military man who now questions the catechisms of US power is a problem for the perception managers. The neo-conservative editorial-writer can’t impugn the patriotism of someone who served his country. (This is particularly true for the many US neo-cons who conveniently avoided fighting the Vietnam War.)

And forget about threatening to hit this critic if his arguments get under your skin, as William F Buckley famously threatened to do to Noam Chomsky on television in 1969. Your average Fox News blowhard probably doesn’t want to tangle with someone who was trained in unarmed combat.

Worst of all, the former warrior has insights into the system in which he served. He or she can shine light into corners of policy that the Pentagon and its apologists would prefer were kept darkened. This is exactly what Andrew J Bacevich, a former US army colonel, does in his excellent Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. Bacevich lays out the rarely spoken assumptions that have come to guide US foreign policy since the end of World War II. He then details how these assumptions have led the country into a series of wars that didn’t need to be fought, and have culminated in a war that seemingly can’t be ended.

For Bacevich, there are four essential premises that have led the US to become a permanent warfare state. One: the world must be shaped. Two: only the United States is capable of doing this. Three: only the US has the right to do so because it is intrinsically good. Four: the rest of the world accepts these principles – and countries that don’t are ”evil empires” or ”rogue states”. These four principles comprise what Bacevich calls the national security consensus, or credo. They are the “Washington rules”.

From the principles flows the practice. The consensus has resulted in the enshrining of what Bacevich calls the sacred trinity of US military practice: a global military presence; the ability to project power anywhere in the world; and a penchant for intervention abroad by force. This trinity keeps America in a constant state of crisis, in what James Forrestal, the first US defense secretary, called a state of ”semiwar”. Bacevich writes:

Conceived by Forrestal at the beginning of the Cold War, and reflecting his own anticommunist obsessions, semiwar defines a condition in which great dangers always threaten the United States, and will continue doing so into the indefinite future. When not actively engaged in hostilities, the nation faces the prospect of hostilities beginning at any moment, with little or no warning. In the setting of national priorities, readiness to act becomes a supreme value.

In Bacevich’s view, semiwar has been a debacle, both for the US and for the world at large. For Americans, it has resulted in obscene – and unaffordable – levels of defense spending, a military that has far too much power over US policy and a succession of real wars that cost many lives and much treasure, but have done little to really advance American interests in the world.

This is to say nothing of the suffering US foreign policy has inflicted on non-Americans. Bacevich doesn’t spend a lot of time on this subject, although it seems clear enough that he thinks his country has plenty to answer for abroad. At one point inWashington Rules, he discusses a famous moment in 1996 when Madeleine Albright – then permanent representative to the United Nations – was asked about a report that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US sanctions against the country. ”It’s a hard choice,” she replied. ”But I think, we think, it’s worth it.” For Bacevich, this comment is very revealing:

Albright’s response once again expressed a perspective that enjoyed wide currency and that still remains central to the Washington consensus. American purposes are by definition enlightened… The pursuit of exalted ends empowers the United States to employ whatever means it deems necessary. If US-enforced sanctions had indeed caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, at least those children had died in a worthy cause. This was not cynicism or hypocrisy on Albright’s part. It was conviction encased in an implacable sense of righteousness.

But it is not just civilian casualties that US policymakers are unconcerned with. For Bacevich, there is no outcome – no matter how disastrous – that will make the American establishment question either the premises of the Washington consensus, or the sacred military trinity that they underpin.

He shows this clearly in his analysis of three American wars: Vietnam and the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Vietnam War ended up devastating three countries, turned the US into a debtor nation and crippled the American army as a fighting force for years afterward. The invasion of Iraq quickly became a bloody quagmire that cost endless dollars and lives but served only to increase the influence in that country of Iran – the US archenemy du jour. And after a quick, painless (for the West, at least) victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US and a shrinking list of its allies are now bogged down in a brutal counter-insurgency, employing tactics that Bacevich argues were discredited during the Vietnam War.

Have US elites learned anything from all this? Not a chance, Bacevich says. Soon after the last Americans left Vietnam, the process of whitewashing what happened there began. The gospel now is that the US failed in Vietnam because it couldn’t get the formula quite right. It made specific errors in how it employed its power there, errors that saw a worthy undertaking derailed. But the consensus of American exceptionalism, of American power as a moral force with a duty to reshape the world, survived intact.

Fast-forward to today, Washington Rules argues, and you see the same process at work. The US history of its Iraqi adventure is already being rewritten around what Bacevich sees as the mythology of the ”surge”. And an appropriate narrative for the Afghan war is sure to follow.

Propelled by Bacevich’s terse, active prose, Washington Rules is an easy read. And for such a short book, it’s a surprisingly deep examination of US military history since World War II. But it doesn’t satisfactorily answer the larger question of why America can’t put an end to its permanent national emergency, its perpetual semiwar. Why do US elites, both military and civilian, keep believing in the credo and the trinity, no matter what the cost? Are they deluded or disingenuous? Or put another way, do they really believe their own bullshit?

Bacevich seems torn on this question. We have seen him describe Albright as neither a cynic nor a hypocrite. And he gives the impression that other key US figures – like Eisenhower-era CIA chief Allen Dulles and air-force nuclear warrior Curtis LeMay – were true believers, whatever their other faults. But he also, in a single paragraph in the book’s conclusion, tells us who benefits from the Washington rules. His answer: Washington does. Believing the credo and accepting the trinity delivers ”profit, power and privilege to a long list of beneficiaries” inside the US establishment, Bacevich writes. But if this is so, are we supposed to accept that all of Washington’s spear-carriers really believe the gospel that they preach?

If there is ambiguity in Bacevich’s position (and to be fair, his other books may resolve it), perhaps it is because the author is wary of moving too far into the territory of the most famous academic critics of US power, such as Chomsky and Michael Parenti. For them, there is nothing bungled about American foreign policy. Its goal is to advance corporate capitalism, in the United States and abroad.

Under this reading, as long as the rich elites of the world make out – which they are doing more than ever today – it doesn’t matter how many of the little people get stepped on, or how much chaos ensues in the US or anywhere else. In parts of Washington Rules, Bacevich leans toward this position, but he refuses to come down from the fence.

Book: Washington Rules by Andrew J Bacevich
Book Review By: Jim Ash
Jim Ash is a Canadian writer and editor