Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shalom: Back in February 2003, when prowar forces in the United States were pouring out all their French wine and renaming French fries because France wasn't cooperating in the Security Council, a lot of people in the antiwar movement were sort of cheering on France and Germany and Russia, and other governments that opposed the war. How reliable are these governments in their antiwar stances?

Chomsky: Their reliability is approximately zero. Sensible antiwar activists don't ally themselves with governments. There was something important about their position -- namely, there was a reason why they were being so bitterly denounced by U.S. elites: They were meeting minimal conditions of democracy. For whatever reason -- pure cynicism, in fact -- they were acting the way a democratic government is supposed to act. In short, they were responding to the will of the overwhelming majority of their populations. The position of the antiwar movement should have been that it's fine that these governments are paying attention to their populations, whatever their reasons may be, but we certainly don't ally with them, or have any trust in them. What happened here was quite intriguing, but was basically ignored. I can't recall any display of hatred and contempt for democracy as extreme as what took place in those months in the United States, pretty much across the spectrum. There was what Rumsfeld called "Old Europe" and "New Europe." Under his definition, they are distinguished by a very sharp criterion: Old Europe consists of the countries where the governments took the same position as that of a large majority of the population; New Europe -- the "hope for democracy" -- is the governments that disregard an even larger percentage of the population. Some of it was almost comical, like Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi being invited to the White House as the representative of the hope for democracy. You don't know whether to laugh or cry. But the worst case was José María Aznar, the Spanish prime minister. He was so lauded by Bush and by British prime minister Tony Blair as the hope for democracy that he was brought to their summit in the Azores, where they basically declared the war a couple of days before the invasion. Aznar joined in this war declaration right after polls in Spain showed that the war had the support of 2 percent of the population, so therefore he's the great hope for democracy.[1] He was willing to follow orders from Crawford, Texas, with 2 percent of the population supporting him. What does that tell you about the attitudes toward democracy?

Some of it became surreal. When the Turkish government, to everyone's surprise, including mine, went along with the opinion of 95 percent of its population and refused to allow a U.S. offensive through Turkey, the Turkish government was bitterly condemned for lacking democratic credentials -- that was the phrase that was used -- because it went along with the opinion of 95 percent of the public. That great dove, Secretary of State Colin Powell, immediately announced we're going to have to have sanctions against Turkey.[2] Most extreme was former undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. He is the person identified in the United States and, as far as I know, the European media as the leading force in democracy promotion -- the "idealist in chief," as he was called in the Washington Post.[3] He berated the Turkish military for not intervening to compel the government to overrule 95 percent of the population; he basically ordered them to apologize to the United States, and to say, "Let's figure out how we can be as helpful as possible to the Americans."[4] And this was supposed to be democracy. And this farce went on, without comment. The fact that anyone can talk about democracy promotion, after this display, is astounding.

This is what the antiwar movement should be emphasizing. And if there are a couple of governments that for their own cynical reasons happen to agree with the majority of the population and take the right position, fine, but that's the end of it; there's nothing more to say about them. Tomorrow they'll do the opposite, because they're acting out of pure cynicism -- power interests -- anyway.

Achcar: Noam's quite right to stress the importance of this feature of our times. There's a general trend at the level of the mainstream media to praise those ruling politicians who rule without considering the polls; that is deemed a great virtue. But behind it is the very elitist idea, also embedded in the very concept of "representative democracy," that, once elected, a representative is free to do whatever he or she wants, even against the unanimous will of his or her constituency. But I must also say that in the case of the three governments that we've mentioned -- France, Germany, and Russia -- it was certainly not out of any consideration for democracy that they were against the war. I don't need to elaborate on the Russian government. But even the French and German governments do not hesitate to pursue the most unpopular neoliberal policies and assaults on social gains. On the issue of Iraq, their motivation was definitely not any democratic principle: There were much more down-to-earth considerations at stake.

Iraq is a country where there was a direct clash of interests, in a very primary economic sense, between the United States and Britain, on the one hand, and France and Russia -- one could add China -- on the other hand. The Soviet Union and France were the main partners of Saddam Hussein for many years, providing him with arms. France, especially, was his main military backer in the war against Iran. And despite Russian collusion and French participation in the 1991 war on Iraq, Saddam Hussein tried to play his traditional partnership with France and Russia, during the UN embargo years, as a counterweight to the United States and Britain in the Security Council. French and Russian companies were granted important oil concessions that were conditioned on lifting the embargo. That is why at some point Paris and Moscow changed their attitude, trying to find ways to lift the embargo, and were blocked on that by Washington and London. The United States and British refusal to lift the embargo -- that is, to allow the lifting of the embargo if and when UN inspectors determined that Iraq had disarmed -- was rightly perceived by Paris and Moscow as a refusal to permit them to take advantage of the oil concessions they had been granted. And they very much saw the dedication of Washington and London to invade Iraq as a desire to snatch the prize from them. Actually one of the first proclamations after the invasion was that all contracts granted by Saddam Hussein were to be considered null and void. So that's the main reason why Paris and Moscow opposed that war. Had the Bush administration offered them a substantial slice of the cake, I'm sure they would have joined in. But the Bush administration was so arrogant that it didn't want to grant them much of anything, and that's why they kept opposing the war to the end.

In the German case, there were no direct economic interests at stake. At best, if one were generous with German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, one could grant him some concern over superior geopolitical considerations -- for example, to say that he had some concerns about the fact that the United States should not have all the levers over Europe -- and one could link that also to the very close relationship he had nurtured with Putin, and the deals being worked out for a new gas pipeline going from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. But that would be a generous assessment of Schröder's motivation. If one wanted to be less generous, one would just stress that there's a big dose, not of democracy but of opportunist electoralism, behind his stance, because the preparation for the invasion of Iraq happened at a time when the German chancellor was projected as the loser in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, because of his neoliberal social program, which caused the traditional constituency of social democracy to be reluctant to support him; and therefore, the only popular issue he could find was opposition to the war, at a time when, indeed, the polls were showing that the overwhelming majority of German public opinion was opposed to the war.

Rulers like Chirac, Putin, or Schröder should definitely not be regarded as allies by the antiwar movement, especially since they are themselves hawkish warmongers when their interests are at stake. Russian forces are waging a terrible quasi-genocidal war in Chechnya. The French government still considers itself a colonial power in Africa, and behaves as such. Not to mention the fact that both France and Germany are involved in Afghanistan, along with the U.S. troops. To that we should add that although Paris and Berlin did not support the invasion of Iraq politically, technically speaking they did everything they could to facilitate it: the Germans, of course, by letting the whole U.S. military infrastructure on their territory be used for that purpose,[5] the French by opening their airspace to U.S. warplanes. So we should not be fooled by such governments. The antiwar movement, at least its most dynamic sectors, is closely linked with the global justice movement, and I believe that's a very good combination because these are two facets of the same reality: opposition to imperial wars and to neoliberalism.

Chomsky: I could add an analogous comment about U.S. attitudes. I don't think it's just arrogance; the United States has a real interest in undermining France and Germany, because they are the industrial, commercial, and financial center of Europe. The rest is a kind of periphery. The United States has had a deep concern back through the 1940s that Europe might strike out on an independent path. That's one of the reasons they were so concerned about French president Charles de Gaulle, with his call for a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. And the forces that might impel Europe that way today are "Old Europe." That's one of the reasons the United States was so much in favor of expanding the European Union (EU) to include the former Soviet satellites, which it plausibly assumes it can control. And it's one of the reasons also why U.S. policymakers are so supportive of getting Turkey into the EU -- not because they love Turkey, but because that's another way of diluting the influence of the powerful sectors in Europe and ensuring, they hope, that Europe will remain under U.S. control. Whatever position Germany and France had taken on the Iraq war, that would remain constant.

It's also what happened in 1990 when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to allow Germany to be unified, which from the Russian point of view was an enormous threat. Unlike the United States, Russia has real security concerns. Germany alone practically destroyed Russia twice in the first half of the twentieth century. For a unified Germany to be incorporated into a Western military alliance was a tremendous threat. So Gorbachev agreed to German unification, but on one condition: that he get a firm pledge from Bush Sr. that NATO would not expand to the east. Within a couple of years, however, Clinton just reneged on the commitment, and expanded NATO to the east, right to the borders of Russia. Russia responded, as you'd expect, by beginning to increase its offensive military capacity. Russia had been pressing very hard for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and it had declared -- as the United States and NATO had not -- that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. After Clinton's backing down on the NATO pledge, Russia backed down on its moves and moved toward a more militaristic, offensive posture, extended more under Bush Jr. These are really important developments that are part of the background of the hysteria about Old Europe and New Europe. New Europe is important for the United States as a way of undermining European independence.

Achcar: I quite agree. But we should also stress the fact that in New Europe public opinion was overwhelmingly against the war, even more so than in Old Europe!

Chomsky: The only place prowar sentiment reached 10 percent was Romania.[6]

Achcar: So it was in New Europe that governments most disdained the opinions of their own populations.

Chomsky: But they are obedient to the United States when they dilute European independence.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran. He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization. (...) When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11.
Angry Arab:
This is the first time ever that I read the expression "engaged in prayer"--notice that even prayer is a dangerous act for some Westerners when "perpetrated" by Muslims: "Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers..."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

USAToday: "Ex-employee says FAA was warned before 9/11"

[...] The team repeatedly warned the FAA of the potential for security breaches and hijackings but was told to cover up its findings, Dzakovic says.

Eventually, the FAA began notifying airports in advance when the Red Team would be doing its undercover testing, Dzakovic says. He and other Red Team members approached the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office and members of Congress about the FAA's alleged misconduct regarding the Red Team's aviation security tests. No one did anything, he says.

Then came 9/11.

"Immediately (after 9/11), numerous government officials from FAA as well as other government agencies made defensive statements such as, 'How could we have known this was going to happen?' " Dzakovic testified later before the 9/11 Commission. "The truth is, they did know." [ ... ]

TSA spokesman Darrin Kayser would not comment on Dzakovic's allegations that he was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower.

- full text here.

The Testing of Lenin

Well, well: 'lenin' has now gone and banned me. Was that bravely done?

Whatever it was, it's certainly a very low comedy he's staging there. And brave or cowardly, it's all he can come up with. Having run out of evasive strategies on the Unwelcome Topic of 9/11, 'lenin' has now very quickly run out of arguments. This is not surprising, as the very best he had to offer in defence of the Bush Gang's cover-story was the 'evidence' tortured out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by the CIA and subsequently presented at the farcical 'trial' of Mounir al-Motassadeq in Hamburg.
Robbed of such shabby props, 'lenin' knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on. In mentioning his infirmity, I was committing the inexcusable crime of lèse majesté. Therefore, I had to go.

Lenin''s attitude is in fact more papal than kingly: urbi et orbi, from the heights of his Tomb, he can now spout endlessly dishonest fatuities about what he calls 'conspiracy theories', secure in the knowledge that he won't have to suffer any back-talk from me. He concludes his latest bull with this false but comforting thought:
"there is usually little we can do about any putative conspiracy beyond strengthening our class and making sure it is capable of minimising the effects of such activities."
"Our" class? Of course, he means his class: the chinrubbing, arse-covering clerical class. And presumably 'lenin''s class will "minimise the effects of such activities" in precisely the same way it is minimising them now: namely, not at all. On the contrary.
Low comedy. Still, not to worry; on the comments threads here and here, paul, milosevic, Peter Blapps, Tuppenceworth and many others (including a fellow-qlipoth) demonstrate that there will be back-talk enough. As 'lenin' huffs and puffs and blows his own house down, it's becoming ever more obvious that he and the rest of the 9/11Falsers are running out of steam. On the entire issue of 9/11, 'lenin''s performance (like Alexander Cockburn's and David Corn's) has been - and is - a moral and intellectual disgrace. No-one can take such stuff seriously anymore. Of course 'lenin' knows this too. His vanity is at stake, hence his viciousness.

In other news, the 'War' on 'Terror' proceeds apace, its major premise still unquestioned by the Prudently Harmless Left. (With an "antiwar movement" like lenin's, who needs a pro-war movement?)

- Here is the post he refused to print:

Steffaction, Good point. It's like having video footage of a fella murdering all of his neighbours, but spending all your time and energy wondering about whether he slapped his wife on his way out to do it.
ant 25 Nov, 16:30 #

No, ant; it's not. It's about having an underinformed and TV-addicted population that's traditionally indifferent to the low-cost killing of foreigners in Panama or Nicaragua - and then galvanising them by demonstrating that Evil Omnipresent Foreigners can actually kill them in their thousands, any time and without warning. ("The bastards snuck up and struck us in the Homeland!")

And the point of showing Americans that spectacle is so that they won't get too stroppy even if the War on Muslims costs them trillions, requires a load of dead "Boys", robs them of their civil liberties, and lasts forever.

As it is doing, more than five years on, with no end in sight.

- warszawa

War is a Racket

The Air Force has conducted more than 2,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan over the past six months, a sharp increase in bombing that reflects the growing demand for American air cover since NATO has assumed a larger ground combat role, Air Force officials said.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Stench from Lenin's Tomb

We are informed that 'Al Qaeda is misunderstood'.

Observe the comments under that post at Lenin's Tomb.

Observe lenin's helplessness. Observe his huffiness. Observe his increasingly incoherent rage. Observe his bloviating, de haut en bas (but not from a very great height). Observe how he resorts to playground namecalling. Observe how he evades and evades and evades. Observe how little support he gets, even from the regulars. Observe how he welcomes the foul-mouthed adulation of his notoriously stupid Pet Troll, one 'Patrick', aka a thousand imbecilic pseudonyms.

Observe what lenin eventually presents as his reply (finally, finally, at long last...) to the very simplest of questions:

Where is the evidence that 'Al Qaeda' dunnit? ('It' being The Crime That Made Us All Americans.)

His reluctant and belated response is utterly inexcusable. Here, for example, is the fifth piece of 'evidence' he adduces:

"Number five is the evidence presented in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, from KSM himself. This evidence cleared Moussaoui (precisely as bin Laden would later do in a video address), but it did acknowledge an AQ plot and identify a number of actors in it."

"Evidence"? Is lenin joking? This is how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - if he is indeed even in American custody - came to give that "evidence". And Moussaoui's 'trial' was (is) one of the most shameful legal travesties to have taken place in Germany in the last 61 years.

What's really sickening is that lenin knows all this perfectly well. He certainly knows about KSM's 'waterboarding', because I told him all about it quite recently. But perhaps lenin has succeeding in forgetting. (It wouldn't be for want of trying.) At any rate, lenin is not the only person in the world who has to be tortured before he will cough up any 'evidence'.

And who extracted that 'evidence'? And how much is that 'evidence' worth?

These are lenin's trusted sources.

- I will complete this post tomorrow. It is nearly 2:00 a.m. here and I have to be up in five hours; so for now I'll leave it to others to point out the other egregious logical and factual errors in lenin's ignominious screed. It is, naturally, entirely unlinked. To put it politely: lenin got his 'evidence' from the White House, via the Guardian and the telly. In plain English: he is pulling that 'evidence' out of his arse. Five years on, there is simply no excuse for it.

Lenin's Tomb badly needs airing. The stench it emits is the stench of chronic dishonesty, wilful ignorance and profound moral cowardice. It is also the sweet stink of too many corpses to count.

21 Months

In his final speech before the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush pronounced that "unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty."

Liberty meaning that you won't be dragged from your home and shot point-blank in the head by a group of soldiers?

That's what happened to Hashim Ibrahim Awad last April, and the soldiers were American. Seven Marines and a Navy corpsman dragged Awad from his home in Hamdaniyah, west of Baghdad. They bound his hands and feet, though Awad is lame, and forced him outside. Four of them then shot him in the face. Afterwards, the soldiers placed a shovel and an AK-47 by Awad's body to make it look like he was an insurgent digging a hole for a roadside bomb. The real motive for the killing remains unknown.

Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. was one of the shooters. He was sentenced yesterday to 21 months in jail. That's significantly less than the five-year federal minimum sentence for growing a single marijuana plant.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dutch Elections

Lebanon's Sovereignty

Angry Arab:
The UN Security Council today condemned the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel and considered it a "violation of Lebanon's sovereignty" (!?). The same Security Council did not condemn the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and did not consider it a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Contrapunctus XIV

Bush in Vietnam

President Bush, on his first visit to a country where America lost a two-decade-long fight against communism, said Friday the Vietnam War's lesson for today's confounding Iraq conflict is that freedom takes time to trump hatred.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Mortgaged Left: Reasons to be Prudent (Part 1)

Alone among the regulars at Long Sunday, Jodi Dean is struggling honestly with her increasing inability to believe the Official Account of what happened on September 11th 2001. Today, at her own blog, ICite, she describes how her daughter attempted to write a story and present it to her teacher at elementary school:

"In the first version of the story, Trixie's plane crashes into the World Trade Center. The teacher told my daughter that she shouldn't write this. That it was disrespectful or something--"

Like God's name, 9/11 is awe-inspiring but mentionable (if at all) only in low tones and with suitable reverence. That carefully uninvestigated crime has long since taken on the character of a sacred founding myth, like Genesis in early mediaeval theology. This is the way it happened. This is why we have to suffer and struggle and make others suffer much more. This is the Word of God. Who dares doubt it openly? Look at the consequences of heresy!

Even when demonstrably untrue (as it is in nearly every detail), the Official Account demands to be taken seriously; it demands to be believed. Or rather: it insists that it may not be openly doubted.

Thoughts of an incipient but self-sabotaging skeptic, in academia or anywhere else. (This is not a quote from ICite, but a composite of remarks I have heard from several different people):

"Where am I if I start to doubt this openly? Where the hell am I? If I say what I think, I won't be able to work. Important people will doubt my dependability. That supercilious asshole X will snicker at me in the common-room. People will roll their eyes in the pub. How will my spouse take it? How can I possibly explain this to my kids? I won't be able to live!"

Cynthia McKinney went through this, presumably. So did David M. Griffin, presumably. Benjamin DeMott has tenure, presumably, but that doesn't make his unmealymouthed outspokenness any less exceptional or any less admirable. It just makes it slightly easier.

Everyone is frightened of a ghost.

Meanwhile, there's a War on, and Bishop Cheney tells us, plausibly, that it will not end in our lifetimes (unless, of course, our lifetimes end first).

- Here's what the mortgaged, salary-dependent, priest-ridden world purports to believe:

The stink is unbearable. How long will the Alexander Cockburn/David Corn/Lenin's Tomb left carry on pretending that pretending to enjoy the taste of bullshit is a good way to end an Endless War?

The Essence of Democracy

As neoliberal guru Milton Friedman put it in Capitalism and Freedom, because profitmaking is the essence of democracy, any government that pursues antimarket policies is being antidemocratic, no matter how much informed popular support they might enjoy. Therefore it is best to restrict governments to the job of protecting private property and enforcing contracts, and to limit political debate to minor issues. (The real matters of resource production and distribution and social organization should be determined by market forces.) Equipped with this perverse understanding of democracy, neoliberals like Friedman had no qualms over the military overthrow of Chile's democratically elected Allende government in 1973, because Allende was interfering with business control of Chilean society.

Some Things Are Forever

Nancy Pelosi to AIPAC, 2005:

"Thank you, Amy Friedkin, my dear friend for so many years. Californians, North and South, are proud of your great leadership at AIPAC. And to Bernice Manocherian, President of AIPAC, thank you. All who care about peace in the Middle East are grateful for your strength and wisdom in guiding AIPAC. As a native of Baltimore, I take special pride of your incoming President, Howard Friedman, who will continue in the tradition of outstanding leadership at AIPAC.

"I also want to acknowledge all of the students who are here. It is great to see so many young people taking such an interest in public affairs, especially on one of the critical issues of our time: peace in the Middle East.

"This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.

"And then we were told that the reason we had to land in that field, as opposed to our actual destination, was because there had been an infiltration that morning, and they weren't sure how secure the area was. And that point alone brought us back to the daily reality of Israel: even moments of peace and beauty are haunted by the specter of violence.

"While in Israel, we met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Perez. From them and from other leaders, we heard something I had not heard in a long time: cautious optimism. This was an attitude quite different from the one that confronted us when I spoke to AIPAC two years ago.

"One thing, however is unchanged: America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering. America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship.

"Prime Minister Sharon's leadership of Israel at this crucial time has been remarkable. He has brought Israel through an extremely challenging period, and now he has made the difficult decision that it is in Israel's national security interest to disengage from Gaza.

"In the next few months, Israeli settlers will be evacuated entirely from Gaza and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. This courageous decision is gut-wrenching for Israel.

"Israel's decision can be a decisive milestone on the road to peace. If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace.

"Any progress on the Roadmap for Peace must be based on real change on the ground, as evidenced by the establishment of an accountable, and reconstituted Palestinian security force that prevents terrorism, not promotes it.

"Fortunately, Palestinian Authority President Abbas is no Yasir Arafat. He has condemned terrorism in Arabic, stating that it prolongs the day that the Palestinian goal of statehood can be achieved, and, at least as significant, stating that terrorism is immoral. He has begun to restructure the security services. All that is commendable.

"But he has not removed Arafat's corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize that vision, and now he is confronted with a huge challenge: by the end of summer, Israel will be out of Gaza.

"Can Gaza become a pilot case for self-government for a Palestinian state? Or will it become a terrorist haven, a launching pad for rockets into Israel?

"President Abbas must act, for his own good, against those he must know are his enemies and are the enemies of the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

"The United States, just as Israel, wants to see him succeed. That is why I was so pleased when President Bush dispatched Jim Wolfensohn to help with the Gaza withdrawal. It is why I supported additional aid to the Palestinians in the Emergency Supplemental bill that recently passed Congress.

"There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.

"The greatest threat to Israel's right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran. For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.

"Proliferation represents a clear threat to Israel and to America. It must be confronted by an international coalition against proliferation, with a commitment and a coalition every bit as strong as our commitment to the war against terror.

"The people of Israel long for peace and are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. We hope that peace and security come soon - and that this moment of opportunity is not lost. As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she will have no friend more steadfast that the United States.

"In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel 'as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.'

"The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever."
Michel Chossudovsky - War and Globalisation


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

U.S. officers at Beit Hanoun (and "flesh-melting" weapons)

Beit Hanoun:

That's the least shocking photo in this post from Sabbah's Blog, the website of the Palestinian journalist Kawther Salam (now living in exile in Austria) . She writes:

Why did the U.S.A send military detachments to Israel after the Israelis lost the war in the south of Lebanon? The Israeli military radio, “Tsahal Radio” announced these news. They said that the American detachment of officers had arrived in Israel to take part in the “Autumn Clouds” operation in Gaza, that they helped the Israeli military to perform their “killing duties” without any loss. American officers were involved in the last Beit Hanoun massacre, in which in one incident 20 Palestinians were killed, at least 60 innocent children, old men and women were injured.

Warning: The blog contains some truly shocking photos of the damage done to the bodies at Beit Hanoun. Medics had seen nothing like it before and believe they are dealing with the effects of new weapons.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Good Questions

Readers of The Independent interview Jack Straw:

You congratulated and hugged Colin Powell, who addressed the UN Security Council in perhaps the most shameful and cynical attempt to argue the case for war against Iraq. Don't you feel ashamed? George Whitfield, by e-mail

On 7 December 2002, as required by Resolution 1441, Iraq provided the UN Security Council with a 12,000-page declaration of its past WMD and missile programmes. You condemned it as "12,000 pages of lies". Is that still your opinion? Pat Oddy, Yarm

How can you sleep at night, given all the death and bloodshed in Iraq? Steven Almond, Cambridge

You unleashed mayhem in Iraq. You unleashed racism in Britain. You even turned in your own son to the police. Why on earth do you think you are fit to be deputy leader of the Labour Party? Margaret McDonald, Edinburgh

Tell me one good thing you have ever done in politics. Rob Hanson, Brighton

(The answers aren't very interesting.)

Class War

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Loud and clear

Venezuela's president continued his criticism of President Bush after the pro-Chávez legislature declared that the 9/11 attacks were `self-inflicted.'

Special to The Miami Herald

CARACAS - When Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chávez called President Bush ''the devil'' in a U.N. speech in September, many thought his ''anti-imperialist'' rhetoric had reached rock bottom.

But fresh depths have since been plumbed. [Plumb them! Plumb them!] The Venezuelan government, to judge from recent events, officially regards Bush as a genocidal Nazi who arranged the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to justify aggression against other nations.

In a speech Tuesday, Chávez criticized the decision of an Iraqi court to sentence former dictator Saddam Hussein to the death penalty. ''If sentencing is to be done,'' Chávez said, ``the first one to be given the most severe sentence this planet has to offer should be the president of the United States, if we're talking about genocidal presidents.''


His comments, which were fairly typical of his recent attacks on Bush, came shortly after the publication of a resolution by Venezuela's legislative National Assembly describing the 9/11 attacks as ''self-inflicted'' and after an exhibition at the Foreign Ministry building in Caracas in which Bush was portrayed as a Nazi storm trooper.

The resolution, which appeared in the official government gazette in mid-October, primarily criticized Washington's decision to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out.

But in its fourth paragraph, it calls on the U.S. Congress to ``demand that the government of President Bush explain the self-inflicted attack on the World Trade Center and its victims, the supposed aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon and the links between the bin Laden family and the Bush family.''

The resolution, drafted by the deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission, Carlos Escarrá, was passed unanimously by the 167-member assembly, all of them Chávez supporters after an opposition boycott of elections last December.

Both Chávez and Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro have referred several times in the past to suspicions that the 9/11 attacks were planned by the Bush administration, and have called for an inquiry.

But this appears to be the first time that the term ''self-inflicted attack'' has been used without qualification.

Asked how the legislature had reached that conclusion, Escarrá said that ''evidence and testimonies'' had emerged in the United States and that ''for the rest of the world, there is no longer any question'' that 9/11 was not an al Qaeda attack. ...

Miami Herald, November 9th 2006

Mujeres de Oaxaca



The $7.5 billion program to rebuild Louisiana by helping residents repair or replace their flooded homes has gotten off to a slow start, frustrating government officials and outraging many homeowners who say they are still in limbo 14 months after Hurricane Katrina hit.

Though nearly 79,000 families have applied to the program, called the Road Home, only 1,721 have been told how much grant money they will receive. And just 22 have received access to the cash, which was provided by federal taxpayers and is being distributed by the state.

“I don’t know of anyone who has actually received any money,” said Cassandra D. Wall, who is active in a group of homeowners from the eastern part of New Orleans. Ms. Wall said she planned to attend a protest Nov. 17 in Baton Rouge, the state capital, “to go public with the outrage and the outcry.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Imagine this in Tel Aviv...

...or in Denver, or in Devon:

Democracy in Action in the U.S. of A.

When the facts suggest an official arm of the party in power is attempting to undermine the democratic process, it ought to be a major story. If media do not aggressively expose electoral deception in real time, with enough attention to ensure that most voters are not fooled, then campaigns have every incentive to engage in such dirty tricks. They can count on the media's fear of appearing partisan during an election season to cover for voter suppression activities, knowing that the whistle will never be blown on them loud enough to matter.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The SloMo Liquidation Of The Gaza Ghetto

Abunimah: European Inaction and Complicity

Fifty Dead In A Week.

Yousef Alhelo from Gaza:

An Israeli Apache helicopter swoops towards northern Gaza and drops missiles on Beit Hanoun, leaving a plume of dust and destruction in its wake.

At least 52 Gazans have been killed since the start of Israel's 'Operation Autumn Clouds' in the Gaza Strip. Scores of Palestinians have been injured in this continued offensive, most of them civilians, including approximately 43 women, 30 children, paramedics, and journalists.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to say when Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip will end, telling his cabinet the operation will continue until Palestinian rocket attacks significantly decrease.

Samar Assad:The Demographic and Economic War On Palestinians:

Emigration from the Occupied Territory

According to the Palestinian foreign ministry, between June and October 2006, foreign consulates operating in the Palestinian territory received 10,000 immigration applications raising the total of immigration applications before the various consulates to 45,000. During a 1 November 2006 press conference Subuh attributed the high volume of applications to Israel's policies of incursions, settlement expansion and the construction of a separation wall, the isolation of Jerusalem and other economic centers in the West Bank, the international economic embargo and internal Palestinian strife. According to Subuh, the majority of those seeking to leave are professionals who are employed by the PA.

In addition to "locals" wanting to emigrate, Subuh pointed out that Israel's policy of denying Palestinians with foreign passports-mainly Palestinian Americans-from returning has hurt the private sector at the business and education levels. The policy has also hurt humanitarian relief efforts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to Subuh, personnel of various U.N. agencies are no longer allowed to extend their permits in order to continue their work. Although the ministry does not have past emigration numbers for comparison, Subuh expressed grave concern over the current emigration trends.

In addition to Israel's policy of denial of entry/reentry, decades of restrictions, rejection and freeze on family reunification applications, home demolitions and land confiscation for settlement expansion and the construction of the separation wall, one major factor pushing Palestinians to leave is the economic embargo.

The Economic Factor

According to a 1 November 2006 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, there has been a 60 percent drop in Palestinian income since Hamas took power in March 2006. The IMF report found that from April to September 2006, the PA coffers took in $500 million compared to $1.5 billion during the same period in 2005. The IMF stated that a main factor for the decrease was Israel's failure to transfer $360 million in tax revenues it owed the PA.

Interestingly, despite the economic embargo imposed on the PA since Hamas came to power, the government received $420 million in foreign aid between April and September 2006, which, according to the IMF surpassed the amount received during 2005. The majority of the funds, $300 million, came from Arab countries but bypassed the Hamas government. According to the IMF, of the $300 million, $246 went directly to the president's office.

According to the IMF report, 80 percent of the $500 million was used to cover the salaries of government employees and pay utility bills leaving a small sum for other budgetary needs. Despite the difficulty in securing salaries, the IMF reported that the PA added approximately 5,400 employees to its payroll in 2006, the majority being employed in the security sector. An additional 20,000 security officers are in training and may be added to the payroll in the future. Currently, the government payroll stands at $100 million per month compared to $80 million in mid 2005.


Others in the right-wing's core of frothing foreign policy lunatics are spectacular liars, landing the equivalent of double and triple axles with ease. But Ledeen has flown far beyond what anyone had dreamed possible for human beings.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The chief US military spokesperson in Iraq has compared the ongoing violence there to a work of art. Speaking in Baghdad Thursday, General William Caldwell said: "Every great work of art goes through messy phases while it is in transition. A lump of clay can become a sculpture. Blobs of paint become paintings which inspire."

Tiny Threats

The Bush administration has announced a new policy that strips automatic Medicaid coverage to children born to undocumented workers. Babies of undocumented workers were previously insured if the mother was covered during birth. Under the new policy, parents must file applications for the child and provide documents to prove his or her citizenship. Doctors say the change will make it more difficult for infants to receive care in their first of year of life. Obtaining a birth certificate can take weeks, and many undocumented parents won’t file applications out of fear they’ll be reported to immigration authorities. Dr. Jay Berkelhamer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said: “[The policy] punishes babies who, according to the Constitution, are citizens because they were born here.”


When the election came, Chalabi was wiped out. His Iraqi National Congress received slightly more than 30,000 votes, only one-quarter of 1 percent of the 12 million votes cast - not enough to put even one of them, not even Chalabi, in the new Iraqi Parliament. There was grumbling in the Chalabi camp. One of his associates said of the Shiite alliance: "We know they cheated. You know how we know? Because in one area we had 5,000 forged ballots, and when they were counted, we didn't even get that many." He shrugged.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The World as Bushmeat

Reason the need:

'Only 50 years left' for sea fish

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Nov. 2nd 2006:

There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study. Stocks have collapsed in nearly one-third of sea fisheries, and the rate of decline is accelerating.

The war on mammals will probably be over sooner. Elephants, angered by the slaughter of their families, are doing their best to resist human colonists, who are doing their best to eat, and to feed their families, while being colonised by capital.

O reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is as cheap as beast's.

Well, not quite that cheap. Not yet. Or at least not everywhere, yet.



Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Today, in a shocking new revelation about the true extent of the Islamist Liquid Terror Plot, it was revealed that -

No. I really can't be arsed. Read it yourselves.

Theatre Isn't Dead (It Just Smells Funny)

''The Gaffe' and the Gaffer
( "Opposition is true friendship." )
So... the character called John Kerry made a 'gaffe'. And the character called George W. Bush, dressed (by his costume designer) in a green open-necked shirt, immediately shot back with an 'angry' riposte on a stage set consisting of ranks of applauding uniformed heroes:
"The members of the United States military are plenny smart and they are plenny brave and the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology."
In a later scene, that plain-talking God-fearing Texan (played by a Harvard- & Yale- educated scion of the East Coast elite) appeared in the Oval Office in his usual suit & tie to say "nookular". Some people on the left side of the theatre found this funny. Others felt the joke was wearing a bit thin.

Jeff Wells on John Kerry in November 2005.

Jeff Wells on John Kerry in November 2006:

"While uselessly stumping in California for designated sap Phil Angelides, Kerry horks a virtual gob in the eye of America's volunteer army, as if to scream "Over here!" to the Republicans' sputtering Noise Machine. It's enough to make even the relentlessly conventional Wonkette suggest, if only for rhetoric's sake, that "it’s like the White House is paying Kerry to be out in public screwing things up."

Kerry says he's earned another chance to run for President. Doing his bit to scuttle the Democrat's "Big Mo" in the final week so the right's talking heads can talk up a comeback scenario enabled by voting machines playing the margins could be his way of proving again his value. And since this is theatre, the significance of the outcome lies chiefly in the personal fortune of the players. Do well with your part, and you may get a juicier role.

Like I wrote a couple of years ago, watching an earlier Kerry flame-out, "Skull and Bones remains to some a silly issue, but an issue it will remain so long as the question 'Do you know General Russell?' can send an old boy into a trance faster than 'Why don't you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?'

We can't say that Kerry took the call. We can only judge his actions, which appear to be those of a man who knows his part well."

(From Rigorous Intuition.)

But let's presume for the sake of argument that the elections will not be rigged and that the Democratic leadership really wants to win. What are they offering an electorate that's sick of the Bush Gang and sick to death of the War on Terror? Here are the last two lines of Kerry's 'fiery' response to criticisms of his 'gaffe':

"No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq."

So the fiery oppositional Democrats' plan is quite clearly stated: a) to 'stay the course' in Afghanistan; b) to get moving and win in Iraq.

I wonder how many antiwar voters will vote Democrat and then wonder why the War still hasn't stopped. And I wonder if the curtain will ever go down on this bloody show.