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Fri

27

Oct

2006

Leaving the Scene of the Crime?

by William Bowles

“ The Armed Forces Press Service recently quoted Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker as saying that the current level of soldiers in Iraq could remain constant through 2010.”Iraq and Afghanistan: Staying Until the Fight is Over’ October 25, 2006

The Independent’s front page head for Wednesday 25 October proclaimed loudly “We’re out of here” purportedly the words of General George Casey, the US’s head military honcho in Iraq. Of course the devil lives in the small print as any reading ‘between the lines’ reveals. And in any case, Casey’s comments are designed precisely to give the impression that a pullout is imminent when in reality, there is no way the US can leave voluntarily, there is simply too much at stake.

 

Mon

09

Oct

2006

Informed Comment: Juan Cole on Craig Murray

Juan Cole recently heard Craig speak at the conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society.

Craig Murray on Manufacturing Terror
Oil, Lily Pad Bases and Torture


The Bush administration has been about "the Greater Middle East" (including Central Asia). It has been about basing rights in those areas. It says it is fighting a "war on terror" that is unlike past wars and may go on for decades. It has been about rounding up and torturing large numbers of Iraqis, Afghans and others. This region has most of the world's proven oil and gas reserves.

Why is the Bush administration so attached to torturing people that it would pressure a supine Congress into raping the US constitution by explicitly permitting some torture techniques and abolishing habeas corpus for certain categories of prisoners?
(See David Corn's "This is What Waterboarding looks like.".)

Boys and girls, it is because torture is what provides evidence for large important networks of terrorists where there aren't really any, or aren't very many, or aren't enough to justify 800 military bases and a $500 billion military budget.

I was at the conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society the last couple of days. Saturday evening, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray addressed us. He served in Tashkent 2002 through 2004. Murray was providing copies of his new book, "Murder in Samarkand," which unfortunately is not yet available in the United States.


 

Wed

15

Nov

2006

No Exit: The Baker Commission and the Trap of Reality

by Chris Floyd


As Washington waits with bated bipartisan breath to unwrap the shiny Christmas present known as "the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," it becomes more and more obvious that the newly empowered Democrats are walking into a trap.

But it's not an artful contrivance prepared for their demise by the infinitely devious Karl Rove -- the "political genius" who, since his appearance on the national stage, has managed to lose two elections (2000 and 2004) and eke out very narrow, dubious victories in two others. (And it wasn't Rove who cheated Bush into office in 2000, so that doesn't count even as a technical KO for him. The post-election coup d'etat was directed by Bush family fixer James Baker -- now chairman of the, er, Iraq Study Group.)

No, the trap awaiting the Democrats has been laid by reality itself. As so often noted here before, there is no good solution to the blood-puking hell that George W. Bush has wrought in Iraq. There is no path out of this killing field that won't involve more slaughter, more suffering, more hate, more grief. No "bipartisan panel" – certainly not one led by the lifelong peddler of Bush Family snake oil, Jim Baker, and the Democratic whitewasher for all seasons, Lee Hamilton – is going to find some new, unlooked-for way to untangle this knotted gut. They can only sift through the same reality that we all can see. The options are extremely limited, and all of them have ugly consequences.

Writer and documentary-maker Edward Cox gives a mostly excellent analysis of the situation in a recent Guardian article, Same as it Ever Was. (He is, I think, off base in a brief look at the 2008 presidential election, but this is a minor point in a penetrating takedown of the wildly unrealistic expectations rising around the "Baker Commission.") Very briefly, the main choices break down this way:

 

Tue

07

Nov

2006

Armagideon Time: Bush's Nuclear Folly and the National Security Lie

Written by Chris Floyd 

This story is appearing today at Truthout.org.

"The Bush Faction's remaining claim to political power – that they are the "party of national security" – is a gargantuan lie. Those who believe them, those who support them, those who vote for them are tying a noose around their own necks, and the necks of all their fellow Americans."

I.
Last Friday, just hours after the New York Times revealed that the Bush Administration had posted advanced plans for building nuclear weapons on a public website for months, six Arab nations formally announced they were launching nuclear programs of their own. The potential for disaster posed by this development is almost immeasurable: everything from Chernobyl-style accidents to the theft or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists to the near-certainty of new atomic arsenals appearing in the powder-keg of the Middle East.


The announcement also signals the final and utter failure of the Bush Administration's demented "non-proliferation" strategy, which has been centered around a relentless, deliberate drive to gut existing nuclear arms treaties in order to free the United States to enhance its own arsenal. This open denigration of legal strictures on the development of the most dangerous technology on earth has been accompanied by a cynical inconsistency. Bush has heaped monetary and military rewards on India and Pakistan for their illegally developed nuclear arsenals, while threatening war on Iran for what has so far been a peaceful nuclear power program carried out in accordance with international treaties – and doing nothing at all to head off North Korea's now apparently successful bid for atomic weapon capability.

It is a record of astonishing recklessness and incompetence, one that has plunged the world into a new abyss of instability, insecurity and the ever-increasing likelihood of mass death and horror on an unfathomable scale. And the criminal negligence of Bush and his Congressional rubberstamps in dumping plans from Iraq's almost-complete, pre-1991 nuclear weapons program on the Internet – solely for partisan political advantage – has exacerbated these dangers by several magnitudes.

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that six nations had given notification of their intention to pursue nuclear programs, The Times (UK) reports: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which had revealed its nuclear ambitions last month, but had not given official notice to the IAEA. As the Times notes, arms experts view the announcement as "a stunning reversal of policy" in the Arab world, which has long called for a nuclear-free Middle East – a stance aimed at dismantling Israel's large if nominally secret nuclear arsenal and preventing Iran from acquiring atomic weaponry.

But ill winds are blowing through the Middle East from all directions, and the six nations are seeking shelter from the storm – a "security hedge," as proliferation analyst Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies told the Times. One of the major factors behind the turnaround is certainly Bush's wanton destruction of Iraq, the Arab world's traditional bulwark against Persian Iran. Not only has the American blunderbuss cleared the way for unprecedented Iranian influence in the region – not least in Baghdad itself – it is also enflaming sectarian, political, ethnic and social tensions across the Arab lands.

And in the case of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is also the desire to avoid becoming yet another target of "regime change" from the "full spectrum dominance" gang that is still, well, dominant in the White House under Dick Cheney.  In Cairo and Riyadh they will not have forgotten how in 2002, top Pentagon adviser Richard Perle – then chairman of the Defense Policy Board, now a rather fat rat leaving the sinking ship of Bushism – sponsored a presentation calling for the American conquest of Saudi oil fields on the way to capturing the strategic "prize" of Egypt: one of the many presentations and papers of the Bush Faction and its neocon outriders in which the Arab world is regarded as so much raw meat to be processed and repackaged as the Beltway poobahs see fit.

But the radioactive core of these concerns is Israel's outlaw nuclear arsenal, hundreds of missiles strong, capable of wiping any and every country in the region "off the map," to quote the widespread misquote of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in one of his rabble-rousing fulminations. The Israeli arsenal serves as a veritable breeder reactor, generating the fear and strategic necessity that drive surrounding nations to follow suit. These anxieties have of course been elevated by the intensified bellicosity and reckless disregard for Arab lives displayed by the hardline Israeli government against Lebanon this summer – and day after day in Gaza.

It's true that the six Arab nations told the IAEA they wanted nuclear capability solely for peaceful purposes: to run desalinization plants, for example, or to provide cheap, abundant energy for their economies. (Perhaps the supposedly oil-glutted Saudis, who trotted out the latter rationale, know something they're not telling us about "peak oil" and such.) But it's also true that this technology can always be weaponized – as the Bush Administration never ceases to remind us when lambasting Iran for its nuclear program.  

Of course, converting a peaceful, public energy program into a covert weapons development scheme is much easier if you have a "cookbook" showing you how to do it. And that's exactly how the Bush Administration's Iraqi data dump was described by European experts. With six new entrants in the nuclear sweepstakes – just a fraction of the 30 nations that IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei says "have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons in a short time" – the ramifications of the Administration's nuke blogging  are far more serious than the near-total media and political silence that has followed the revelations would indicate. How could this have happened? And more importantly, why did it happen and what does it really mean? Here's how the deal went down.

(Continued after the jump.)

 

Fri

27

Oct

2006

“Every Honest Politician” Sebastian Mallaby’s Distortions

by Seth Sandronsky,

As U.S. midterm elections near, the topic of political honesty draws some pundits like moths to light.  Take Sebastian Mallaby in the Washington Post of October 23.

“Every honest politician knows that entitlement spending on retirees is going to bust the budget,” Mallaby writes.  “But since the failure of Bush's proposed Social Security overhaul last year, nobody is doing anything about it.”

Presumably, these honest politicians are aghast at rising costs for Medicare, which provides health care to Americans age 65 and up, plus some disabled recipients of Social Security.  We turn to the Medicare prescription drug benefit bill, known as Medicare Part D.

 

Wed

11

Oct

2006

Coming to America: The Disappeared

Kissinger and The Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina: America on the Brink of Horror.

This blistering Buzzflash editorial deserves to be spread far and wide. The reappearance of Henry Kissinger as a top adviser in the White House dredges up horrors that have long been buried by time – but which are still fresh in the scarred hearts of millions of people. It reminds us of the complicity and cooperation of the American political elite in the South American mass murder campaign known as "Operation Condor." This earlier "war on terror" – which reached its apogee on that other September 11 terrorist attack,  in 1973, with the American-backed murder of Salvador Allende, Chile's democratically elected president – also featured unrestrained "unitary executive power" claiming the right to imprison and torture and permanently detain anyone arbitrarily declared a "terrorist" or "enemy of the state" on the most specious – or nonexistent – grounds. 

 

 

Wed

15

Nov

2006

To Hell with Centrism: We Must Reclaim the Inspired Edge
by Phil Rockstroh

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act".  
-George Orwell

"I don't want to be part of your revolution if I can't dance."
-Emma Goldman


Rumsfeld is gone. Mehlman is gone. Delay is gone. Yet -- let's not have our progressives' version of a strutting on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier moment. Because mission has not been accomplished. 

For those who haven't noticed: While we were busy with other concerns, many of our rights and liberties went missing. Moreover, along with them, have went or are going fast: our planet's polar ice caps; accountability of the corporate sector (our nation's true power brokers); as well as, a sense of place, history, and even a cursory understanding, among a large percent of the populace of the US, of the precepts of civilization and of democratic discourse. 

These circumstances, like the melting of the polar ice caps, have transpired, incrementally, and have been going on for longer than that Reign of Terror in Tiny Town known as the Bush presidency. For example, regarding the increasingly authoritarian terrain we negotiate our way through daily: In American work places, bosses routinely snoop into underlings' personal e-mails and monitor our web-surfing practices. How did it come about that so many Americans have grown to accept such demeaning intrusions into our privacy? 
 

Wed

08

Nov

2006

A Trial Giving Kangaroos A Bad Name

by Stephen Lendman

As the dominant corporate media in the US made sure everyone in the country would know just ahead of the mid-term congressional elections here, Saddam Hussein was convicted of crimes against humanity on November 5 for his involvement in the killing of 148 Shia men in al-Dujail village after a failed assassination attempt against him there in 1982.  The Supreme Iraqi Criminal (Hanging Court) Tribunal (SICT) sentenced him to death by hanging, subject to appeal that's automatic and pro forma.  It won't save him from a very sore neck as long as the Bush administration has the final say, which it does despite international law or whatever passes for it in Iraq where the law is what the US occupier says it is.  The sentence must be carried out within 30 days after all appeals are exhausted and the death sentence is ratified by Iraq's nominal president and two vice-presidents who have no authority and take their orders from US Ambassador and proconsul Zalmay Khalilzad who takes his orders from Washington.

While few villains are more worthy than the man called the Butcher of Baghdad for whatever fate might befall him, not even a former dictator of his "stature" should have to answer for his crimes before an illegal tribunal established by an occupying power that has no authority under international law.  The fact that the trial proceeded this way delegitimized the entire judicial process and in the eyes of independent jurists renders the verdict void and unrecognized.

 

Fri

27

Oct

2006

Catapulting the Propaganda with the Washington Post

by Chris Floyd 

The ever persipacious Angry Arab, As'ad AbuKhalil, plucks out the hidden (or not-so-hidden) propaganda in a passing phrase in an otherwise unremarkable Washington Post story about Syria. Let the good doctor tell it in his own words:

[From the WP]: "Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here." (Notice the casual language of the Washington Post. Notice how they insert propaganda lines into articles. "US effort to bring democracy in Iraq"? Are you kidding me? Does the writer of the article really believe that this was what it was about?)

Here we see the falsity of the supposed "objectivity" fetish of the mainstream media laid bare. The fetish is entirely focused on the word "objectivity," never on its practice. There is nothing remotely objective about using "the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq" as a standard descriptor of the war and occupation. It is not an any way a neutral reflection of reality. It simply parrots a Bush Administration propaganda point without question, without nuance.

 

Mon

09

Oct

2006

Nukalert!

Hey there nostalgia fans and potential survivors! Don’t you miss the good old days when baby boomers were babies? I sure do. Boy, those were fine times, ain’t we lucky we had ‘em! 

Think back to all the joys of the era: Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii, A&W root beer drive-ins, The Ed Sullivan show! Oh that Topo Gigio! And what about Bill Dana as Jose Jimenez! Talk about wrong! Then there was the music, Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley and his Comets! Roy Orbison singing for the lonely! And who can forget our shocked parents when the Fab Four with those scandalous hairdos sang I Wanna Hold Your Hand on national TV! Oh it does take one back to an era of having an innocence worth losing.  

Well, that innocence is not all lost… yet! Yes, you, Mr. John Q. Public may have grown up, but there’s no need to leave the Wonderful World of Disney behind! Yes! You can relive the days of the Cold War when you cowered beneath your desk at school, when your Dad insisted on digging an air raid shelter and your Mom lived in fear of fluoridation. Thanks to the modern techno era, with one simple little device you can take a stroll down memory lane guided by state of the art technology. 

 

Wed

15

Nov

2006

To the Victors Belongs Impunity
By Jason Miller

Of Incorrigible Transgressors, Tacit Complicity, and Lady Justice’s Conspicuous Absence 

“The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

---Henry Kissinger, New York Times, October 28, 1973


Baghdad’s kangaroo court has issued a verdict that virtually guarantees that Saddam Hussein will launch his journey into the hereafter from the platform of a gallows. Convicted of “revenge killings of 148 people, deportation of 400, and razing of orchards,” (1), and still facing a charge of genocide that resulted in the deaths of 180,000 Kurds, Hussein is undoubtedly a malevolent individual.
 

Mon

06

Nov

2006

The “Prophetic Social Movement”: Then and Now

by Andrew Bard Schmookler

On Election Night of 2004, as I lay in bed much of the night awake and miserable, I found myself teetering on the edge of deep despair. By dawn, however, I discovered that I had turned back from that abyss and committed myself instead to a new mission. Actually, it was a new phase of the anti-Bushite mission in which I’d been passionately for the two months leading up to the Election: a mission of combatting the pervasive falsehoods of this evil regime; more particularly, a mission of speaking moral truth to amoral power.

 


In other words, a “prophetic” mission.

By January, I was on my local NPR station delivering a series of commentaries to convey my vision of the nature of what was happening in America, and of the nature of the path by which this country might be saved.

Key among those commentaries was one called “Prophetic Opposition.” Some months later, on the very day that I launched my main vehicle for presenting my vision –my new website NoneSoBlind.org– I published on Common Dreams a new version of that piece under the title, “What America Needs Now–A Prophetic Social Movement.”

I had chosen that piece to trumpet my arrival into the “blogosphere” because I felt that this essay, more than any other, captured simply and accessibly and dramatically what I hoped to convey to my countrymen.

Here, now, a year later, I am going to post this essay once again.


 

Thu

26

Oct

2006

Angelina Can Eat My Ashes

By Jennifer Matsui

 

Dear Madonna,

 

You are no doubt dismayed by the public outrage that has greeted your decision to adopt a baby boy from Malawi - a country that most people in the West probably only know from the ad campaigns of charitable organizations showing sickly babies covered in flies, while being watched over by your former wedding guests, now sockless and stubbled with earnest three day beards.

 

I imagine that you are shocked, truly shocked that anyone would question your decision to remove a child from such unimaginable suffering as having Bono and Bob Geldof breathing down his crib. And what kind of person would condemn someone so young to a life of grinding poverty, especially someone with millions at her disposal; a loving "mammy" who will tote her little 'mchanga' around in a 1,200 thread count batik Snuggly specially designed for him by Tom Ford himself, and provide him with every consumer item under the less skin-damaging sun

Little David Banda is the luckiest boy in the world, you repeat to yourself 666 times a day while fiddling with your little red thread bracelet, because that's how every self-serving mantra eventually becomes truth. It's written in the Khabible. One minute little whats-his-name is languishing in a overcrowded, under funded orphanage in one of the poorest nations on earth, and the next minute he's soaring over the ocean in a private jet to make his new home on a palatial English estate, where he will be tended to by a complete staff of servants and diapered in monogrammed Pampers.

 

You have even sweetened the deal with a complete DVD box set of 'The Lion King' so that he can immerse himself in African culture. You would think that would shut up those annoying people who think removing a child from his own people and culture is somehow a bad thing, even if said culture hasn't yet invented pots to piss in.

 

Fri

06

Oct

2006

Our Rigged Elections: The Elephant in the Polling Booth

To say that this election could go either way is not to say that the Republicans have any chance of winning it. As a civic entity responsive to the voters' will, the party's over, there being no American majority that backs it, or that ever would. Bush has left the GOP in much the same condition as Iraq, Afghanistan, the global climate, New Orleans, the Bill of Rights, our military, our economy and our national reputation. Thus the regime is reviled as hotly by conservatives as by liberals, nor do any moderates support it.

So slight is Bush's popularity that his own party's candidates for Congress are afraid to speak his name or to be seen with him (although their numbers, in the aggregate, are even lower than his). It seems the only citizens who still have any faith in him are those who think God wants us to burn witches and drive SUVs. For all their zeal, such theocratic types are not in the majority, not even close, and thus there's no chance that the GOP can get the necessary votes.

And so the Democrats are feeling good, and calling for a giant drive to get the vote out on Election Day. Such an effort is essential—and not just to the Democrats but to the very survival of this foundering Republic. However, such a drive will do the Democrats, and all the rest of us, more harm than good if it fails to note a certain fact about our current situation: i.e., that the Democrats are going to lose the contest in November, even though the people will (again) be voting for them. The Bush Republicans are likely to remain in power despite the fact that only a minority will vote to have them there. That, at any rate, is what will happen if we don't start working to pre-empt it now.


 

Wed

15

Nov

2006

First Real Test for Democrats: The Lame Duck Session of Congress

by Dave Lindorff

Forget all the talk about civility and compromise.

It's clear that President Bush and his aiders and abettors in the Congress are going to do their damndest to cover their tracks over the next few weeks, using their "lame duck" majorities in House and Senate to pass legislation, while they still can, protecting them as much as possible from future investigation and retaliation.

Bush clearly wants a bill granting him retroactive immunity for his crime of violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--probably the surest path to his impeachment in a growing list of some dozen crimes against law and Constitution. He may push other actions insulating himself and his cohorts from future prosecution too, as he already did just before the election in ramming through a bill immunizing him against prosecution for authorizing torture.

While the Democrats won't have a majority in either branch of Congress until early January, when newly elected Democrats are sworn in and replace some 30 Republican members of the House and six members of the Senate, they have plenty of members already in place to perform a blocking action--particularly in the Senate, where the Democrats can fillibuster to death any bill they want by just keeping 40 of their 45 caucus members together.

 

Tue

07

Nov

2006

Sandinista! How Will Bush Make Nicaragua Pay for its Disobedience?

Written by Chris Floyd
  

Ortega back in power, early poll results show

From the Guardian: The Sandinista leader and former Marxist revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared to have mounted a spectacular political comeback last night after preliminary results showed he had won Nicaragua's presidential election in the first round. Mr Ortega led by a margin which seemed wide enough to avoid a run-off and to deliver a stinging rebuke to Washington, which had openly campaigned against him...Roberto Rivas, the head of Nicaragua's top electoral body, said the vote was clean and transparent. An army of 17,000 observers, including the former US president Jimmy Carter and EU officials, was expected largely to endorse that view.
Ortega ran and won with the backing of several prominent ex-Contras, including Jamie Morales, his own running mate. Morales had been the Contras' spokesman in Washington during the Reagan years when, with the direct involvement of VP George Bush, the Administration joined hands with the mullahs of Iran and the druglords of Central and South America to fund, arm and train a terrorist army to overthrow the Sandinista government. Although this exercise in mass state terrorism failed on the battlefield, the Reagan-Bush policy of economic terror managed to reduce Nicaragua to dire poverty, with the open threat that the stranglehold would go on until the Sandinistas were gone.


 
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