U.S. War Profiteers Forced to Cool Their Jets

F-16 deal with Pakistan postponed. So how about sending helicopters to the quake victims? Do it now.


Nothing but a natural disaster could have stopped the unnatural disaster of the Bush regime's exacerbating the deadly 60-year-old Indo-Pak border crisis by peddling F-16 jets to both countries.

And that's exactly what has happened.

The best news out of Pakistan these days is that ruler Pervez Musharraf is postponing the purchase of F-16s. You may remember that Condi Rice shamelessly huckstered those Lockheed-made war jets to both Pakistan and India last spring.

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As I noted back then, she may be appointed to Lockheed's board before she even leaves her government job. The Bush regime's former Pentagon procurement chief, Pete Aldridge, has already landed there.

Musharraf was forced to postpone the deal, the BBC reports this morning, because of the worsening news coming out of Pakistan: Aid and rescue are still lagging after the October 8 earthquake devastated northeast Pakistan and Kashmir, the primary area that had already rubbed raw the tension between India and Pakistan. The latest word is that the quake's death toll is up to 73,000.

But millions of those who want to go on living are in mortal danger, with winter approaching and aid from the West falling behind.

In particular, helicopter rescue flights have been grounded because of a lack of cash, as the BBC reported on October 28:

    Some of the helicopters flying aid to Pakistani earthquake victims could be grounded in a week by a cash crisis, United Nations officials have warned.

    The air aid and other relief measures will have to be scaled back unless donors send about $250 million immediately, officials say.

    With winter looming, more than 3 million people in mountain villages lack food and shelter.

My ex-colleague Chisun Lee, now matriculatin' herself at Harvard Law School, pointed me in the direction of this latest frustrating twist of the quake aid story. Justifiable anger drove this highly professional journalist person to even throw in some words in all capital letters. Lee wrote me:

    So as we know, there are hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis stranded at the top of the Himalayan mountains. Freezing temperatures fast approach.

    The roads are IMPASSABLE. Few existed to begin with, and now nearly all are destroyed. There is no terrain that evacuees can hike over where roads are unavailable — without the roads, there are only sheer cliffs and cavernous dropoffs. Not to mention recurring landslides.

    Here is the only quick solution to this problem: HELICOPTERS. But, according to a pithy, quietly impassioned interview of UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland [on PBS's NewsHour a few nights ago], the world community has supplied only 100 — that's ONE HUNDRED — helicopters. (A tenth of the 1,000 supplied after the tsunami.) Are you kidding me??

Unfortunately not. And Lee's not exaggerating. She was referring to Egeland's November 1 comments on NewsHour, which you can catch up on here. And this is part of what the U.N. official had to say:

    Well, all countries are very sympathetic to the relief effort. Everybody agrees that it's a race against the clock. But too few are really, I think, stepping up to the plate in the way they should be. We had this year started with an unprecedented degree of generosity in the Indian Ocean tsunami. We had about 1,000 helicopters active from the countries concerned, and from the whole international community.

    We have about one-tenth of this in this emergency, and we need helicopters just as badly. It's been a bad year, too many disasters, too many ministries of development assistance have emptied their coffers. Others have been going elsewhere with their attention.

    The media is not following it as we had your support in the tsunami. I think there's a whole host of reasons that we are not getting more so far than about one fourth of what we've asked for, for the emergency phase in terms of money and resources.

The State Department has a different take on the quake crisis, releasing facts and figures that show much more of an involvement in helping Pakistan. Considering the Bush regime's zero credibility, those figures are undoubtedly well-kneaded, allowed to rise far too much, and then thoroughly cooked.

Back here in media capital New York, though, we're all warm and fuzzy in the knowledge that Mayor Mike Bloomberg has spent at least $63 million so far on his re-election campaign. Wonder what our sizable community of Indo-Pak immigrants thinks about that?

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