Saturday, May 31, 2003

McDonalds sues food critic for £15.3million.
'A CRITIC who slammed McDonald's for selling "fodder" is being sued for £15.3million. The fast food giant launched it's claim against Edoardo Raspelli yesterday after he branded its fries "obscene and tasting of paper." Raspelli, one of Italy's culinary experts and author of a dozen books on food, defended himself at the hearing in Milan. He said: "I was only saying what I thought of fast food and that I find it repulsive."'

Australia's spies knew the United States was lying about Iraq's WMD programme.
''Intelligence" was how the Americans described the material accumulating on Iraq from their super-sophisticated spy systems. But to analysts at the Office of National Assessments in Canberra, a decent chunk of the growing pile looked like rubbish. In their offices on the top floor of the drab ASIO building, ONA experts found much of the US material worthy only of the delete button or the classified waste chute to the truck-sized shredder in the basement. Australian spooks aren't much like the spies in the James Bond movies. Not many drink vodka martinis. But most are smart - certainly smart enough to understand how US intelligence on Iraq was badly skewed by political pressure, worst-case analysis and a stream of garbage-grade intelligence concocted by Iraqis desperate for US intervention in Iraq.'

Robin Cook: Britain must not be suckered a second time by the White House (v.good)
'There is also a growing problem of transatlantic politics with the British Prime Minister's plea for more time. The US administration wanted the war to achieve regime change and now they have got it they do not see why they need to keep up the pretence that they fought it to deliver disarmament. The more time passes, the greater the gulf will widen between the obliging candour on the US side that there never was a weapons threat and the desperate obfuscation on the British side that we might still find one. There is always a bigger problem in denying reality than in admitting the truth. The time has come when the British government needs to concede that we did not go to war because Saddam was a threat to our national interests. We went to war for reasons of US foreign policy and Republican domestic politics.'

In spite of their 'opposition' to the war, there is nothing like this trenchant critique emanating from the Labor party in Australia.

Wolfowitz, Rumsfield admit Iraq WMDs politically convenient
'"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine. The comments suggest that, even for the US administration, the logic that was presented for going to war may have been an empty shell. They come to light, moreover, just two days after Mr Wolfowitz's immediate boss, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, conceded for the first time that the arms might never be found. The failure to find a single example of the weapons that London and Washington said were inside Iraq only makes the embarrassment more acute.'

The arrogance and nakedness of Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld however is an embarrassment for Blair, who continues to say with a straight face that WMDs will be found. Rumsfeld: Saddam May Have Disarmed
'[Nazi leader] Hermann Goering said: "Why of course the people don't want war... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship... Voice or not voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."'

'FOXNews' Bill O'Reilly said just a few days ago "So, again, what do we think about Americans who want their own country to be hurt? It's not freedom of speech, it's attitude, and anti-American attitude that is driven by a loathing for President Bush. " People like "Ed" on the Warblogging comments system routinely called anti-war protests "anti-American". Rush Limbaugh denounced anti-war protesters "Anti-American, Anti-Capitailst, Marxists and Communists." Ah, Goering would be proud. He was right, of course. It does work the same in any country. It worked here.' Rumsfeld: Regime Change in Iran (via ag)
Warblogger condemns the neocon machine and its attempts to line up Iran as the next target.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Patents and Pharmaceutical Access: Rent-seeking Racket
'Patent laws in many developing countries are now set through a combination of World Trade Organization (WTO) directives, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) advice, and U.S. bilateral trade pressure (3). But because the WTO's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement requires developing countries to pass national legislation guaranteeing patent terms of two decades for pharmaceuticals, the prices of new drugs for both common and rare conditions is expected to double soon after January 2005'

Syrian Foreign Minister Al-Shara: the Roadmap should expand to include Syria and Lebanon
'Al-Shara added that the explosive situation in the Middle East resulting from the absence of peace, the developments of the Iraqi issue and the continuation of the Israeli occupation of the Golan, and the occupied Arab territories, is a common challenge for all the partners and this requires the Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories to the line of June 1967, and the withdrawal of the occupation troops from Iraq as soon as possible to enable the Iraqi people to enjoy their national sovereignty and elect its own government by its own free will. He pointed out that the Israeli rejection of peace is hindering the establishment of a Euro- Mediterranean region that enjoy peace, stability and welfare... Al-Shara pointed out that for peace to be comprehensive it should include disarming the region of mass destruction weapons including Israel, so that the region will be free of mass destruction weapons.'

This statement represents the typical Arab position but it almost never gets a hearing in the Western media because to do so would highlight the fact that it is Israel backed by the US that have been blocking the political settlement in the Middle East. Israel is still driven by the Zionist dream of 'Greater Israel': absorbing all of the Occupied Territories and somehow getting rid of the Palestinians; while the US is still committed to the 'cops on the beat' strategy of an Israeli Sparta, a militarised dependency. However as the influence of Europe on the region continues to grow, pressure will steadily increase on both Israel and the US to back a settlement.

The road map hoax
'Don't waste your time fretting over the fortunes of the "road map" to peace in the Middle East. It's all a fraud, following the contours of all the other frauds down the years, back to such museum pieces as the Rogers Plan, conceived in Nixon time. The recipe is unvarying. The Palestinians are required to pledge that they will instantly abandon all vestiges of resistance to Israel's onslaughts on their persons, children, houses, land, crops, water, trees, livestock, roads, schools, universities, graveyards and public buildings. In return Israel agrees that a few years down the road the government of Israel will begin to ponder the outlines of a dim possibility of formal ratification as a Palestinian statelet of whatever tiny sliver of territory they haven't already appropriated.'

The TV media in Australia, including SBS, dutifully report on the 'Road Map' as if it was something to be taken seriously, instead of reporting on the possibility it destined to fail for predictable reasons, as is almost certainly the case. How long can this go on for? The problem is the Occupation, and a political settlement depends on ending the Occupation. If the Occupation does not end or begin to end, nothing is happening by way of genuine peace.

Media's Pro War Campaign
'"We Must Arrest the Leaders of the Anti-War Movement," declares the Web site of syndicated radio personality and newly minted MSNBC host Michael Savage... Savage is a political thug, one of the new breed of media demagogues who has discovered that politics -- as noise, insult, and rhetorical aggressiveness -- is the way to get noticed... Savage Nation [Savage's book] reads like his show sounds, all in your face bombast and bloated sound bites piled endlessly one upon the other. It's all aggrieved White Male Noise, the worldview of a man of a thousand petty rages against the "freaks" and "perverts" who he believes have taken over his country. These include immigrants, gays, liberal journalists, "subversive" socialists and anyone who dares question the virtues of our capitalist way of life. Or disagree with Michael Savage.'

The Arrogance of Rumsfeld
'It is not even the fact that he said it that is so shocking, but the dismissive way in which he said it. [that Iraq may have destroyed its weapons of mass destruction before the coalition forces went to war on Saddam Hussein.] This was an off-the-cuff remark made during a speech focused on warning Iran against meddling in the rebuilding of Iraq. This was no embarrassed gaffe or embattled admission. It was as if it did not matter... The people who backed the conflict - including this newspaper - did so because both the British and American Governments produced intelligence which they said proved Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, and that there was evidence that Saddam was seeking to build nuclear weapons.'

I'm not sure whether to take these sorts of statements seriously. If so, there seems to be a high level of naivete and gullibility in the British media and political system. Well before the war started it was clear to anyone with an internet connection that WMDs were a pretext, that neocons who dominate the Bush administration were determined to attack Iraq because it was 'unfinished business.' Clumsy frauds and lies (such as the Niger uranimum shipment) were exposed before the war even started. Perhaps these statements and the run they are getting are an indication among elites that they now believe the Bush doctrine must be contained.

The Case for War is Blown Apart
'Tony Blair stood accused last night of misleading Parliament and the British people over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and his claims that the threat posed by Iraq justified war. "I believe the Prime Minister lied to us and lied to us and lied to us. The whole war was built upon falsehood and I think the long-term damage will be to democracy in Britain" Tony Benn, the former Labour minister.

'Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, seized on a "breathtaking" statement by the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, that Iraq's weapons may have been destroyed before the war, and anger boiled over among MPs who said the admission undermined the legal and political justification for war.'

This is opposition from within Blair's own party. Crean and Labor in Australia cannot see fit to make a statement on this 'catastrophic lie', even though they could have a united position and the PM Howard is surely exposed.

The Pentagon's Covert Iran Plan
'The Pentagon is advocating a massive covert action program to overthrow Iran's ruling ayatollahs as the only way to stop the country's nuclear weapons ambitions... The objective of the Pentagon proposal to destabilize the Iranian government is based on the belief that the religious hard-liners are opposed by the majority of the Iranian population and any pressure would make them crack — a view that some analysts find dubious.'

An interesting aspect of this US media report is the way in which it dispenses with propaganda formulations and proceeds directly to an analysis of the state of debate within the Bush administration and the likelihood of the program to topple the Iranian government being taken up.

Pentagon not Australia as base for troops in Asian reshuffle: Hill
'The Pentagon is planning a broad realignment of troops in Asia that may include moving marines out of Japan and establishing a network of small bases in countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. The Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, is due to meet the US Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, in Singapore at the weekend and will discuss the proposals... The US is considering moving most of the 20,000 marines in Okinawa to new bases that would be established in Australia; increasing the presence of US troops in Singapore and Malaysia; and seeking agreements to base navy ships in Vietnamese waters and ground troops in the Philippines.'

Questions for Prime Minister John Howard and Defence Minister Robert Hill: Will the government rule out the basing of US or any foreign troops on Australian territory except in the case of a direct threat to Australian security such as the Japanese offensive of the Second World War? Does Australia have enough of its own troops and forces to defend its own territory in the current environment?

Asia Times: al-Qaeda defunct, new organisations flourish
'The US-led invasion of Iraq created the ideal conditions for the IIF to flourish, and it rode the wave of anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world to draw more members. But in the process the organization has undergone a transformation. Al-Qaeda is no longer a coalition of different jihadi bodies. It is an independent organization that is planning a major strike on targets within the US.'

Thursday, May 29, 2003

'Tax cuts' and deficit in the US
'It's no secret that right-wing ideologues want to abolish programs Americans take for granted. But not long ago, to suggest that the Bush administration's policies might actually be driven by those ideologues - that the administration was deliberately setting the country up for a fiscal crisis in which popular social programs could be sharply cut - was to be accused of spouting conspiracy theories.'

It seems like a rerun of the Reagan era, and is indeed deliberate policy - a combination of tax cuts for the wealthy and boosted military spending leading to a huge deficit, a manufactured fiscal crisis which can then be used to slash spending for social programs. The 'war on terror' is also recycled from the Reagan time.

Suspected nuclear smuggling in the Balkans
'Unconfirmed but intriguing reports have reached us that organised criminals in the service of international terrorism are taking over the illicit trade in nuclear materials along the traditional Balkan smuggling route... There are an estimated 1,350 metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, enough for 40,000 nuclear weapons, stockpiled in Russia as well as in Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan - in addition to potentially lethal material suitable for use in 'dirty bombs'.'

Neo-cons move quickly on Iran
Jim Lobe discusses neo-conservative attempts to line up Iran as a target for US attack. But the US has its hands full at the moment with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and the Administration may be difficult to convince even in the future that targeting Iran makes policy sense.

Iraq Body Counts
'The Western Media Focused on the Number of Civilians Killed in Iraq, but the Country's Ill-prepared Armed Forces Suffered Far Greater Losses'

Amnesty: US 'War on Terror' Has Made World Worse
'Releasing its annual report into global human rights abuses in 2002, the London-based watchdog made one of its fiercest attacks yet on the policies pursued by the United States and Britain in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. If the war on terror was supposed to make the world safer, it has failed, and has given governments an excuse to abuse human rights in the name of state security, it said.'

'"The United States continues to pick and choose which bits of its obligations under international law it will use, and when it will use them," she said, highlighting the detention without charge or trial of hundreds of prisoners in Afghanistan and in a U.S. military camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "By putting these detainees into a legal black hole, the U.S. administration appeared to continue to support a world where arbitrary unchallengeable detention becomes acceptable."'

ActionAid - GM crops 'won't solve hunger'
'Genetically modified (GM) crops could pose a considerable threat to poor farmers and will not feed the world... GM crops are "irrelevant" to poor farmers' needs and could push them deeper into debt as they become more reliant on expensive seeds and chemicals.'

My suspicion is that GM food is fundamentally a rent-seeking intellectual property racket designed to create a dependency on patented life and thereby extract a monopoly rent or royalty from every farmer or consumer. There is a need for an 'open source' GM technology, if it is to be allowed at all. In fact the entire concept of 'intellectual property' needs to be reviewed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

US plans to base troops and aircraft in Australia
'Washington had approached Canberra with plans that included the deployment of F-16 fighters and positioning up to 5,000 Marines at an Australian army base. If the plans were implemented, it would be the first time since World War II that U.S. troops in large numbers were deployed in Australia.' Just say no...

Aceh: People Are Going To Be Slaughtered
'how should we view Downer's claim this week that renewed assaults by the Indonesian military (TNI) against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) cannot be stopped by outside intervention because Aceh "is part of Indonesia, and the Indonesians are going to have to sort out these problems themselves"? Why should the world respect state sovereignty in South-East Asia but not in the Balkans?'

'The Yanks Have Really Screwed Up in Iraq': Interview with Scott Taylor
'I visited Kirkuk, Erbil, Tikrit and Baghdad. I can tell you that Iraq, though calm on the surface, is like a boiling kettle. The Yanks won't be able to keep the lid on it much longer. Look, Chalabi had 80 bodyguards, and 12 of them were killed on his second day in the country. Now he is under Marine protection... Everyone is preparing for civil war and mistrusting the other groups... they are planning for two civil wars. The first would be between Shiite fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists in the south; the second could conceivably turn into a nasty three-way fight in the north, between Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs... Unless Bush works a miracle, there will be civil war. I put the odds right now at about 60 percent.'

The Memory Hole > Documents from the Phoenix Program
'Brickham [creator of the program] kept copies of the documents he wrote while with the CIA; otherwise, there would be no documentary evidence of how Phoenix was actually created. During the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975, the CIA destroyed most of the documents it had about its assassination program, and none of what it kept at Langley headquarters can be obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. This is no accident, for Phoenix is the model for the equally terrifying US homeland security aparatus.'

The most frightening prospect for the United States is that the social, political and economic methods of administration that have for so long been employed in client countries beyond its borders will one day be brought home. And meanwhile many, but not all, Americans sleep through it all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Syrian President Assad gives clue for Bush
'The ideology that drove the suicide missions in Riyadh and Casablanca needs to be dealt with socially rather than by security means, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Sunday. Assad also told the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba that he doubted terror chief Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaeda network were capable of organising attacks on such a large scale.

'"We blame everything on al-Qaeda but what happened is more dangerous than bin Laden or al-Qaeda. We're talking about a certain ideological bloc. The issue is ideology, it's not an issue of organisations," Assad said. "Such an ideology cannot live without a certain social base. It has to convince people and strengthen its presence. Dealing with this issue should be through a social approach not through security," which is only a 'temporary remedy,' he said.' - but of course the issue for Bush and the neocons is not the phony 'war on terror' but rather the hegemonic project which welcomes war without end.

Critics condemn UN cave-in over Iraq resolution
'"The United States has bullied support from an unhappy and reluctant Security Council. The resolution ... gives legitimacy to the occupation authorities, accedes to a weak role for the U.N., fails to provide for a return of the U.N. inspectors, and turns over control of Iraq's oil resources to the occupiers. The Chilean ambassador has been recalled for failing to show sufficient support and enthusiasm for the U.S. positions. Many threats -- and perhaps promises of a few oil fields -- have brought the Council membership into line... "Bush is basically getting the Security Council to reverse the long-standing Stimson Doctrine: That the world will not recognize the fruits of an aggressive war. But that is exactly what the Security Council has just done."'

Parliament should vote on next GG: ex-G-G
'THE next Governor-General should be nominated by the Prime Minister and elected by Parliament, former Governor-General and constitutional lawyer Sir Zelman Cowen said today. Sir Zelman Cowen says both houses of Parliament should vote. Sir Zelman, Governor-General from 1977 to 1982, said it was no longer appropriate for the Prime Minister to appoint the Governor-General without reference to other elements in the Constitution.'

If the constitution were then altered to remove all mentions of the Queen or Monarchy, a de facto republic would be attained, which would be as close to the current system as is practically possible. But John Howard has no such vision on these things, and seems destined to let matters drift until some time after he is gone when the country will probably endorse an elected President, the very thing that nearly all conservatives and even many Labor MPs and Republicans think is undesirable and unnecessary.

Israel weighing EU membership
'The visiting delegation from the European Union was startled this week when Israel Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said his government was weighing an application to join the EU.'

'Startled' is the word. Some interesting questions are raised by this - would Europeans have freedom of movement into Israel? And would that include the Occupied Territories and the Golan Heights? What are the final borders of Israel anyway? Would Arab Israelis have freedom of movement into Europe? And Palestinians? What would happen to the 'Jewish State'? Perhaps Israel might have better luck if it 'weighed an application' to join the United States.

However, the article continues: 'Any economic advantages to Israeli membership would have to be balanced against the wider political costs to the EU, unless the Jewish state's relationship with its Arab neighbors is transformed. Even then, those European countries like France that already sneer at Britain as "America's Trojan horse" (and the German media that sneers at Poland as "America's Trojan donkey") might hesitate before admitting another such pro-American member.'

'The Israeli foreign minister's statement also coincided with a report by the Washington-based Cato Institute think tank, which suggested an important geopolitical aspect to Israeli membership. "Signaling to the Israelis and the Palestinians that a peaceful resolution to their conflict could be a ticket for admission into the EU, would be more than just enticing them with economic rewards," the Cato report said. "Conditioning Israel's entry into the EU on its agreement to withdraw from the occupied territories and dismantle the Jewish settlements there, would strengthen the hands of those Israelis who envision their state not as a militarized Jewish ghetto but as a Westernized liberal community."'

In Iraq, US Troops Are Still Dying -- One Almost Every Day
'U.S. troops continue to fall in Iraq at the rate of almost one a day [23 since May 1]. That is down from an average of three a day between the start of the war on March 19 and May 1, when a total of 139 American service members were killed... the number of American GIs on the ground has risen by 15,000, to nearly 160,000, since Bush declared victory on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.'

US plans death camp
'THE US has floated plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp, with its own death row and execution chamber. Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving its boundaries, without a jury and without right of appeal... it has horrified human rights groups and lawyers representing detainees.'

This is the real, hard face of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism, and one wonders for how long many people will maintain illusions about America's commitment to 'democracy'.

Congolese war: long, bloody, complex
'Unlike the present ineffectual UN troops, British forces will have a mandate to shoot to kill if necessary. But even if they succeed in pacifying Ituri, this is unlikely to end the Congo's bloody and complex war. According to aid groups, between 3.1 million and 4.7 million people have died as a direct result of the war, making it the world's deadliest conflict since 1945... Yet in the past few years Britain has become Rwanda's biggest donor and did little to pressure President Paul Kagame's government [to stop its involvement in the Congolese wars], diplomats in the region say.

'According to the EPA, the Report shows that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that the sediments adjacent to the Alfred Street site [Homebush Bay] are contaminated with lead in such a way as to present a significant risk of harm as defined by the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997."'

Monday, May 26, 2003

Ali: The UN Has Capitulated. Now Let the North's Plunder of the South Begin Again
'Unsurprisingly, the UN security council has capitulated completely, recognized the occupation of Iraq and approved its re-colonization by the US and its bloodshot British adjutant... So what happened to the overheated rhetoric of Europe v America? ... France and Germany, on the other hand, protested for months that they were utterly opposed to a US attack on Iraq. Schröder had owed his narrow re-election to a pledge not to support a war on Baghdad, even were it authorized by the UN. Chirac, armed with a veto in the security council, was even more voluble with declarations that any unauthorized assault on Iraq would never be accepted by France.'

Aghanistan: On the Roads of Ruin
'Once again, statistics highlight the staggering scale of the Western betrayal. In Bosnia there was one peacekeeper for every 113 people, in East Timor every 66, in Kosovo every 48. There is one Isaf soldier for every 5,380 Afghans. Without an international security presence the Afghan countryside has fallen back into the hands of the warlords and their militias, conservatively estimated at some 200,000 strong. The international presence is feebly trying to counter-balance the power of the warlords by building up the central government security framework. So far those attempts have been at worst disastrous and at best meaningless.'

Gun Gangs Rule Streets of Baghdad as US Loses Control
'Baghdad is being carved up by armed gangs. Towns in the south - apart from the port city of Basra, under British control - are even more dangerous. In the city of Hilla, near Babylon, the poor quarter of Nada, where scores of civilians were killed by cluster bombs during the war, is out of bounds to strangers and US troops alike. Both The Observer and Human Rights Watch were warned not to enter without an armed escort. In the grim wards of the hospital at Hilla, Dr Satar Jabel says victims of war are now outnumbered by those of gang warfare - wounded, if not with guns, with swords.'

War on Iraq was Illegal, Say Top Lawyers
'Prof Sands, one of 16 prominent international lawyers who earlier this year publicly warned Tony Blair that the war was illegal, said the conflict raised two major issues. "First, did the Security Council authorize the use of force, and the answer to that is no. And [second] were we misled about the presence of weapons of mass destruction? Apparently, yes. These things are going to come back to haunt us," Prof Sands said.'

Condi Rice: Ignore Schroeder
'Focus magazine reported President Bush's national security adviser told a German visitor recently that relations between Bush and Schroeder were ruined because of the German leader's outspoken opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. "We're now doing everything we can to improve relations to Germany at all levels," the unnamed German visitor quoted Rice as saying. "But we're going to work around the chancellor. It's better to leave him out."... Hesse state premier Roland Koch both met Bush administration officials. Koch, a conservative and potential challenger to Schroeder's center-left Social Democrats in the 2006 election, was also given an unplanned meeting with Bush while at the White House... France and Russia also opposed the war in Iraq and Rice has been widely quoted telling associates that resulting U.S. policy should be: "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia."'

This hyperpower pressure could be expected to divide Europe and also divide each country internally - unless parties and elites across Europe are convinced of the need to challenge US hegemony.

Hussein son's wild orders led to Iraq military collapse, say Iraqi military officers
'According to the officers, the disastrous decision to deploy the Republican Guard troops to the countryside was by no means the only irrational decision made by the Iraqi regime: -- The Iraqi leaders failed to follow through on prewar plans to mount a comprehensive urban guerrilla defense for Baghdad.'

Not a good paper, it gives the appearance of being a rush job, full of fallacies and illogic. This is no doubt due to its origins, as an entry in the 'Tax Reform' competition.

Sunday, May 25, 2003 Website on the worst maritime disaster in our region's history
The possibility remains that the vessel was allowed to sink with the loss of over 350 lives in order to advance the election prospects of John Howard. Howard has used classic tactics to cling to power and Beazley and Labor seem unprepared for his cynicism and ruthlessness. Racism, Nationalism, and National Security are used to frighten and divide the populace in order to hold power and advance a neo-liberal, neo-conservative agenda that is the real John Howard.

UFP draft UN resolution on Iraq
This draft resolution of May 1 expresses the legitimate goals of the peoples and countries of the world regarding the world. It is unfortunate that nothing like it has been tabled at the UN and that there has not even been any discussion or publicity for it. There is of course no chance of such a motion surviving a veto by the US, but that is not the point. To make the statement, force the US to defend itself, mobilise public support for what is right, that is the point. It is apparent however that while France in particular as well as Germany and Russia showed courage in opposing unjustifiable US actions before the war, there is no such courage after the war.

NGOs Decry 'Bribes' and 'Threats' Behind U.N. Vote
'A coalition of over 150 peace groups and global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is lashing out at the U.N. Security Council for adopting a resolution that virtually legitimizes the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and endorses the foreign occupation of a U.N. member state. ''The United States was successful in bulldozing its way because it offered too many bribes and held out too many threats,'' says Rob Wheeler, a spokesman for the Uniting for Peace Coalition. The ''threats,'' he said, were against developing nations in the 15-member Security Council, and the ''bribes'' were the promises made to more powerful nations, which caved in to U.S. pressure. ''Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves. The United States will now decide how those reserves are to be distributed. And nobody wants to be cut out of the pie,'' Wheeler told IPS on Thursday.'

This dismal analysis is most likely correct however France, Germany and Russia have betrayed the public by passing the resolution too soon, not mobilising public support, and not extracting sufficient concessions. The NGOs, on the other hand, seem to have been slow to achieve a public focus on the draft resolution. Perhaps it is a matter of the mass media: it buried the story and that is almost impossible to overcome.

Pentagon Sets Sights on a New Tehran Regime
'The Pentagon has proposed a policy of regime change in Iran, after reports that al-Qaida leaders are coordinating terrorist attacks from Iran. But the plan is opposed by the US state department and the British government, officials in Washington said yesterday. The Pentagon plan would involve overt means, such as anti-government broadcasts transmitted to Iran, and covert means, possibly including support for the Iraq-based armed opposition movement Mojahedin Khalq (MEK), even though it is designated a terrorist group by the state department. The state department and Britain have objected to the plan, saying that it would backfire, undermining the moderates around President Mohamed Khatami.'

Aust Federal land tax and Income tax
'The first budget of the new Australian Commonwealth in 1901-02 raised a total of just £18 million, all of it by customs and excise duties. There was no income tax. In 1910, to finance a national age pension, the new Fisher Labor government stunned the country's landed gentry by "implementing the unthinkable", a national land tax.

'Julie Smith, an economist at the ANU's Federalism Research Centre, writes in her compelling 1993 volume, Taxing Popularity: The story of Taxation in Australia, how the new tax introduced the principle of a graduated rate structure and, in the words of Fisher, was designed to "break up the big estates". She adds: "As Labor's Billy Hughes observed at the time, '1/450th of the population owning three-eighths of the entire landed wealth of Australia comprised a sermon more eloquent than the finest oration ever given.' "

The influence of Henry George over the early Labor party and the land tax legislation in particular is relatively well known, but Ramsay's statement that land tax was to fund a national aged pension begs the question as to whether Tom Paine's pamphlet 'Agrarian Justice' was a direct influence as well. The Federal land tax was abolished by the Menzies government in 1953, which as not as regressive a move as might seem, as at the same time it allowed all 6 states to pick up land tax as a source of revenue, which they did and have continued to use to this day. Ramsay in this article also discusses the steady and eventually dramatic erosion of the principle of the progressive income tax over the decades and indicates the need for genuine tax reform, rather than the phony 'tax cuts' offered by the Costello budget. We've had that many 'tax cuts' over the last few decades that its a wonder anyone is paying any tax at all. Curiously, the government's revenue at $178b is higher than it has ever been.

Tommy Franks bribed senior Iraqis not to fight
'Senior Iraqi officers who commanded troops crucial to the defence of key Iraqi cities were bribed not to fight by American special forces... It is not clear which Iraqi officers were bribed, how many were bought off or at what cost. It is likely, however, that the US focused on officers in control of Saddam's elite forces, which were expected to defend the capital. The Pentagon said that bribing the senior officers was a cost-effective method of fighting and one that led to fewer casualties... "This part of the operation was as important as the shooting part; maybe more important..." The revelation by General Franks, who this week announced his intention to retire as commander of US Central Command, helps explain one of the enduring mysteries of the US-led war against Iraq: why Iraqi forces did not make a greater stand in their defence of Baghdad'

Friday, May 23, 2003

Looted Nuclear Material causing sickness in Iraq
'Dr. Jaafar Nasser Suhayb, who runs a nearby clinic, said that over a five-day period he had treated about 20 patients from the neighborhood near Tuwaitha for similar symptoms — shortness of breath, nausea, severe nosebleeds and itchy rashes. Suhayb is worried that the residents may be suffering from radiation poisoning since several of the symptoms are consistent with those of acute radiation syndrome.'

'Since early April, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, has repeatedly requested that the U.S. secure nuclear material at Tuwaitha. This week, the Bush administration agreed to make arrangements to allow the IAEA to return to Iraq to inspect the site. American troops are now guarding the research center, but the looting has continued, and scientists are worried that missing nuclear material could result in a slew of safety and health problems.'

Three-Toed Sloth criticises site (via dy) is one of the better resources out there mainly because of the number of fresh links to worthwhile articles. In this aspect it is better than and comparable or possibly superior to Its weaknesses are an excessive reliance on mainstream US media sites and the ideological intrusion of too much uninteresting right-libertarian, 'conservative', Randroid, and von Mises material. A particularly important aspect of the site however is precisely its existence as an antiwar site in spite of its 'conservative' ideological foundations. This development, the split in the anti-socialist/libertarian/fundamentalist/republican/conservative faction over the issue of militarism and empire, is significant and worth monitoring, and appears to be one of the primary sites revealing the split. The Sloth criticises Raimondo for his various disagreeable views but a merit of Raimondo is that at least opinion and comment is kept to specific opinion articles instead of occupying most of the blog, a defect which makes many blogs distracting in my opinion.

Hackworth: US Vehicular losses in Iraq war
'151 Abrams tanks were hit. Most were repaired on the battlefield and rolled back into the fight. Three tanks took catastrophic hits from Russian AT-14 anti-tank missiles... and 12 others were damaged so badly they ended up in the junkyard. 16 Bradley Fighting Vehicles were destroyed, and 35 seriously damaged. 23 M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers were melted, and 53 trucks were destroyed. A light-infantry weapon called the RPG (rocket propelled grenade) ... damaged or knocked out the vast majority of these vehicles.'

AlterNet: The United Nations Backs Down
'Ironically, one of the many absolutely cosmetic concessions the French wrung from the Americans was the change of the word "collaborating" to "working together," to describe the role of the United Nations Special Representative, who had also been upgraded from Special Coordinator. There may some deep psychology at play here. The French ambassador pointed out that the word "collaborate" has some pretty nasty connotations in French. It does in English as well. And so does the deed of collaboration... the U.S. has secured pretty much all that it wanted... The U.N. Special Collaborator, as some wags about the U.N. have taken to calling him, does have a little more power of initiative than before, if only the power to report back to the Security Council. But cynics cannot help but conclude that unless an extraordinary personality gets the job, then the real job description will be "U.N. Special Scapegoat," to carry the can when the Occupiers make a hash of reconstruction.'

This alternet report is negative in tone, but it could have contained more analysis of what is involved and what might have been hoped for. Of course, it is all too likely that the major players are motivated more by cynicism and self interest at the moment than anything else, and therefore one might be disappointed at the abdication of responsibility on the part of UNSC members. On the whole, the issue of this UN resolution has been very much underreported and undernoticed by the public. The UN, neither now nor in the past, cannot hope to forcibly stop superpower or hyperpower abuses. (In US-speak, 'the UN is irrelevant.') The significance of the UN in dealing with a superpower is not so much what it can achieve or what it can prevent but what it can expose for public view, as was so vividly demonstrated in the UNSC debate prior to the war. The UN could not hope to stop the US aggression against Iraq but it could and did mobilise the public to oppose US hegemonic ambition. In other words, the UN and its ideals of international law and human rights is largely a tool of mobilisation and public education and should be approached in that way. Another way of putting it is that contrary to appearances real power does not lie with the Security Council or even with the superpowers but with world public opinion, and the most serious players have an eye on this at all times.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Neocons Bush, Blair, Howard: 'statesmanship', 'vision', 'oratory'
'The newly democratic Iraq has descended into chaos and feminist Afghanistan must be in pretty sorry shape if the media never crows about it. There's a suicide bombing every ten hours in the Middle East, the wily Osama and Saddam are still not accounted for, the terror alert is back to orange, U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia are closed, more than half of America thinks Iraq knocked down the Twin Towers, and Al Qaeda has hung out a glowing neon "BUSINESS AS USUAL" sign'

Herman on Jayson Blair and lies of the New York Times
'The New York Times cannot tolerate Jayson Blair‘s performance because lying is a sin, a “grave breach of journalistic standards”, an “abrogation of the trust between the newspaper and its readers...” But the New York Times itself, both as a media institution and the product that is delivered in its name on a daily basis, is built and thrives on structures of disinformation and selective information that constitute Big Lies. These structures do involve occasional direct lies, but far more important is their base in the conduiting of lies issued by official sources, lies by implication, and lies that are institutionalized by repetition and the refusal to admit contradictory evidence.'

'Even when CIA official Melvin Goodman testified at congressional hearings in 1991 that the CIA knew that the KGB and Bulgarians had nothing to do with the shooting [of the Pope in 1981] because the CIA had penetrated the Bulgarian secret services, the NYT suppressed this piece of information. In 1991 the paper reported that Allen Weinstein had gone over to Bulgaria to inspect files to find out the truth of the case, but it failed to report that he returned empty-handed.'

The New York Times had a big splash on the frauds of reporter Jayson Blair but they could never print the kind of expose that Herman here provides... this is the essence of the propaganda system.

Cromwell, Edwards: The Independent On Sunday And Orwell's Memory Hole
'All of this means that we heartily recommend the IoS over the lamentable Observer. But we also heartily recommend non-corporate, progressive internet sites over both... For the truth is that the IoS nevertheless consistently reports from within a propaganda framework of 'respectable' and 'safe' assumptions common to all mainstream media... It is an unthinkable thought that Western foreign policy has been designed in support of ruthless policies of economic globalisation ensuring access to natural resources - such as oil - and markets in the developing world. Economic dominance and military dominance are closely linked.'

The Truth Will Emerge: Robert Byrd Senate remarks
Another fine speech in an otherwise failed Congress. 'Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will.'

US Intelligence Agency Does Not Distinguish Between Terrorism and Peace Activism
'It "shines light on the kind of (U.S. Attorney General John) Ashcroft mentality that's seizing this country," he said. "Anyone internal with a dissenting view is lumped in with the people who drove the planes into the towers, which couldn't be further from the truth..." Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are rare. Some anti-terror experts have wondered when new terror-fighting agencies would begin justifying their existence by broadening their roles.'

'"It is safe to say there is an enormous temptation to expand surveillance and information gathering. And unless there is an effective system of checks and balances sooner or later this kind of surveillance is going to get out of control," said Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "This particular example is quite disturbing because it erodes the obvious distinction between terrorism and dissent," he said.'

Richard Falk's Forward to book on the Armenian genocide
'Slowly, yet with increasing authoritativeness, the reality of the Turkish genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people has come to be accepted as established, incontrovertible historical fact...What remains sadly evident, as was the case after World War I, is the low priority that leading governments attach to stopping genocide unless their strategic interests are centrally engaged... only the pressures of an aroused and informed public opinion might someday make opposition to genocide a priority of governments and an imperative warranting UN legitimacy.'

Full text of Zawahri tape
"Protests will not protect threatened sanctities, will not evict the occupying enemy and will not deter the stubborn tyrants. The crusaders and the Jews only understand the language of murder and bloodshed and are only convinced by coffins, destroyed interests, burning towers and a shattered economy.

"Be strong, O Muslims, and attack the missions of the United States, the UK, Australia and Norway and their interests, companies and employees... Do not allow the United States, the UK, Australia, Norway and other crusaders - the murderers of your Iraqi brothers - to live in your countries and enjoy their wealth and spread corruption...

"After the division of Iraq will come the turn of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Pakistan ... so that nothing will be left around Israel except torn fragments of so-called countries which follow and are subjects of America and Israel.

"These are the truths becoming clear before you, O Muslims, and all the masks have fallen ... For here are the Muslim rulers with their airports, bases and facilities who allow ships to use their waters and provide them with fuel, food and supplies. They allow planes to use their airspace, and to actually fly from their airports, and welcome the criminal troops to attack Iraq from their land.

"For here is Saudi Arabia with planes flying from its Rafha airport, and Kuwait where the criminal troops advance from its land, and Qatar where the command for the campaign is, and Bahrain with the US Fifth Fleet, and Egypt with warships using its canal, and Yemen supplying crusader vessels at its ports, and Jordan where crusader troops have deployed and where Patriot batteries protect Israel.

"And after all this, they scream with all hypocrisy and treachery that they oppose the war on Iraq."'

This statement show clearly how the Iraq war has played into the hands of Al-Qaida; how the terrorists are attempting to position themselves not as murderers but as resistance and freedom fighters. In terms of combatting terrorism, a worse policy could hardly be imagined than attacking Iraq on the flimsiest of pretexts such as those that were offered by Bush/Blair/Howard.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Interview: British Labour MP George Galloway - covers the war, Saddam, Britain etc
'I mean you would have to be in Britain…you have to standing here with me on the receiving end of this in Britain to know how awesome this particular attack is. This libel against me may be the gravest libel ever faced by any politician in British history.'

Robert Novak: ‘A Long Journey to The High Country of the Right’
'In truth, I consider myself taking a long journey from the mushy ground of the middle to the firm high country of the right. I have moved a long way since the first Evans-Novak column was published on May 15, 1963. Indeed, I feel myself moving—a little farther to the right—every single day.'

'I think George W. Bush can be a great President, but I wish the President would spend more time on basic reform and downsizing of government and less on creating an American imperium.'

I guess these two statements, if they are to be taken as sincere, sum up the delusions, self-deception and sheer wishful thinking (there is literally no other word for it) of the right, American conservatism, and the website. Bush cannot be a 'great' President (the very idea is ridiculous, have they heard this man speak?) and the Administration has no interest in 'downsizing' government (except welfare and public infrastructure programs) or in not creating American imperium. You've been had, and like Hitler's partners in the German cabinet, you need to realise it before its too late.

Israel's Apartheid/Berlin Wall (including map of the wall)
'The Apartheid Wall will be 8m high and probably 1.000km long. For comparison, China's Great Wall – the only human-made object seen from outer space – is 6.700km long, whereas the Berlin Wall was a dwarf, just 155km long and 3,6m high.' The wall does not follow the green line, but takes in about half of the territory of the Occupied West Bank. If this 8m high wall is completed at this length, it will astound people who encounter it and will be a symbol and rallying point of resistance to occupation. In this sense building such a wall could become a long term public relations liability for Israel: "Mr President, tear down this wall!"

US makes final concessions for Iraq deal
'In the new draft the US-British occupation is authorised until Iraqis establish an "internationally recognised, representative government" of their own. In the previous text, the two powers' authority was open-ended, subject to renewal after 12 months.'

An interview with Prof. Richard Falk over Iraq, April 18, 2003 (v.good)
Covers the normal pattern of US domination of the UN and the extremism of the current US administration's policies. A controversial point is his contention that France and Germany will seek to realign themselves with the US. This should be contrasted with Gabriel Kolko's view that the French and German position represents Europe's growing opposition to US hegemony.

New Zealand PM Clark meets Chirac in Paris
'Helen Clark shares Mr Chirac's concern that the US might emerge as an unchallenged superpower. "What everyone's looking at is whether there is going to be a Franco/German/Russia linkup with good links through to the Chinese against what we have which looks like a small Anglo/American group - it shifts the whole dynamic," she told the Herald.' Its a shame that Australia cannot have such a view but instead insists on regarding the US 'alliance' as the highest priority.

How World Public Opinion may Terminate the Bush Juggernaut
A fine, lengthy piece full of positive suggestions which 'explores how Bush’s “tenacious new adversary” can most effectively terminate his juggernaut. It starts by looking at the Bush administration’s strengths and weaknesses and the ways it might be stopped or removed. Then it looks at the various forces around the world and in the US that might want to contribute to doing so – the elements of the “other superpower.” Finally it reviews how these forces might utilize the Bush team’s weaknesses to force an end to their policies.'

'Sooner or later, the Bush policies will almost certainly be terminated by the catastrophic effects of their own failures and unintended consequences. The damage that will be done in the meantime, however, is incalculable, and conditions after their defeat may ensure still further disaster. A reasonable goal is to terminate Bush policies by deliberate action before they would die a natural death and to do so in a way that lays the groundwork for further progress toward global peace and justice.'

A core part of the Bush juggernaut is their doctrine that the US represents “a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.” (US National Security Strategy, Sept 2002). For WPO to succeed it is imperative that this triumphalist dogma is challenged and refuted in detail. The failure of the left and of socialist critique of 'capitalism' contributes materially to the forward surge of the 'juggernaut', a “massive inexorable force that advances irresistibly, crushing whatever is in its path.” My view of course is that geoist economic analysis (geonomics) must be inserted into the core of the political/ideological/theoretical critique of modern history and society.

Zunes Time to Question the US Role in Saudi Arabia
Informative article on the doomed Saudi regime and how US policies are destined to fail.

Argentina's Election
'Over the last five years Argentina, which previously enjoyed the highest living standards in Latin America, has suffered through the worst economic decline in its history. The majority of the country now lives below the official poverty line, and unemployment is 22 percent... Under Menem's leadership, the country experimented with an extreme version of what Argentines call "neoliberalismo," including an indiscriminate opening to foreign capital and trade, large-scale privatization, and a "currency board" system much like a gold standard that fixed Argentina's peso at one per U.S. dollar... Argentina under Menem was [the IMF's] poster child, and the Fund supported the government's policies right up to the cliff and over the edge.'

The post-coldwar doctrine of neo-liberalism - privatization, 'free trade', deregulation and WB and IMF involvement - is shaping up to be one of the worst economic disasters ever inflicted on the world's population. With the collapse of Marxist ideology, there was nothing that could challenge the triumphal march of neoliberalism across the globe. The need however for a revived and reinvigorated progressive economic critique of 'capitalism' is immense.

Just Where are Those Weapons?
'In his State of the Union address, the president managed to give the impression that Mr. Hussein had piles of the stuff reaching to the sky. That was why we had to act immediately. Mr. Hussein, we were told, had 25,000 liters of anthrax - "enough to kill several million people." He might have had 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, good for several million more dead. He might have manufactured 500 tons of poison gas. He had "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents."'

'One result is to confirm the belief of foreign critics that the United States deliberately misled the world to justify a misbegotten crusade - using weapons of mass distraction, you might say. What has emerged so far has made it look as though Mr. Bush was the one lying about Iraq's weapons, not Mr. Hussein.'

Thugs in uniform go about their bloody business - Aceh
'Just five hours into Indonesia's renewed war in Aceh, Indonesia's discredited soldiers were already providing evidence they had learnt little from the atrocities it committed in Timor and the human rights trials that followed.'

Tough but no doubt accurate reporting from SMH. In other stories:
- 49 schools burnt down on first night of Indonesian military operations.
- Australian Defence Minister Defence Minister, 'Robert Hill, insisted the crisis would not "complicate" relations between the two countries. "Indonesia's got the perfect right to maintain its internal integrity and we regret those who are in armed revolt," he said. The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, echoed that view. "The violence perpetrated by the separatist movement is absolutely unacceptable," he said from London.' Presumabley state terrorism is ok. Shame.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Indonesia's ''conditions'' sunk Aceh talks-mediators
'''The government came with additional conditions. It made any discussion, any dialogue, impossible,'' said a spokesman for the Swiss Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC), which helped negotiate a ceasefire that has collapsed. Just after midnight on Sunday, President Megawati Sukarnoputri gave the go-ahead for war against the rebels after the talks in Japan failed, leaving a landmark peace pact welcomed by Aceh's four million people in tatters... The Geneva-based group had mediated an historic deal between the government and rebels last December aimed at ending over two decades of bloodshed in the oil-rich province'

The Saudi House of Cards (informative)
The Saudi regime, a puppet of the west, part of the 'Arab Facade' system, lacks popular and internal legitimacy, and is thus doomed to collapse. It is only a matter of time. It is in particular difficulties because the Wahhabi religious group, which it has exploited to cover its lack of integrity and legitimacy, is also distancing itself from the regime.

Case proven - war does not eradicate terrorism
'The Saudi bombs are being attributed to the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. If so, we might reasonably ask for an inquiry into why two colossally expensive and destructive wars were fought by the West yet left unscathed the architect of all this woe.'

Indonesia prepares for war on Aceh reading from a US script
'Two things are certain about the newly resumed war in Aceh: a lot of innocent people will die and not many people will care - at least outside of the province on Sumatra's northern tip. Almost as predictable is that Indonesia's latest vow to crush the rebel army, GAM, will fail, just as it has failed in the past.'

One wonders how much responsibility for these killings George Bush and John Howard will have to bear, with their 'preemptive war' and 'war on terror' doctrines, and their shallow pretexts for attacking a Muslim country.

Aceh: Indonesia launches biggest offensive since East Timor
'During GAM's war of independence, ... at least 10,000 killed since 1989... Military officers said 15 warships had arrived at Lhokseumawe to assist 27,000 soldiers and at least 13,000 police who will take part in what is expected to be a bitter offensive... "If TNI attacks [GAM] we will face it. This war will be recorded in Aceh history as the war against the second coloniser (the Dutch took Aceh 150 years go).'

A Conservative discusses splits in Conservatism
'The Split on the Right. But it is worse. Conservatives are fighting each other on the front pages of their own magazines. National Review writer David Frum made the argument public with a banner denunciation of any conservative with reservations about the invasion of Iraq... We rose up then [60s] and moved the world right and we can do it again. If we cannot rise to oppose empire, the movement deserves to fail. All we need to do is get off our butts and speak up for our principles.'

What 'conservatives' and 'libertarians' do not appreciate is that war and exploitation are inherent in a monopoly/enclosed system. Their job is to gather support for war and exploitation, but to persuade the public [and themselves] its not really war and exploitation. Here they are almost having a moment of awakening... Splits in 'conservatism' do however pose a challenge however for the neocons and the Bush administration. Over time, they will have to seize power by force and repress dissidents, or accept the defeat of their imperial/hegemonic ambitions and the loss of office and influence. It is by no means guaranteed that the latter outcome will eventuate.

Monday, May 19, 2003

The Corruption of Economics - Mason Gaffney (full text and zip file)
This book, along with Pearce's "Value - Normal and Morbid" and Harrison's "Power in the Land" are for me the most important geoist books of the 20thC. Gaffney tells a story about the origins of the dominant paradigm neo-classical economics which many will find astonishing and unbelievable. In its own way its a revelation comparable to Chomsky and his work "Manufacturing Consent", but even more radical and important because the whole story and philosophy of geoism is so little known.

Chomsky interview pre-war
'If anything's obvious from the history of warfare, it's that very little can be predicted. But what's going to happen is not war. The disparity of force is so extraordinary that the term "war" doesn't apply. We wouldn't call it a boxing match if the world champion were in a ring with a kindergarten child. So this one is fairly predictable, just as it was predictable, and predicted (right here, for example), that the Taliban would be easily defeated. My guess is that the superhawks are right. There'll be a devastating blow, and the society will collapse. What happens then in Iraq is anybody's guess.'

'3. Assuming that war comes, should the anti-war movement be depressed about its ineffectuality?

'That's like suggesting that abolitionists, or advocates of rights of working people or women, or others concerned with freedom and justice, should have been depressed about their inability to attain their goals, or even make progress towards them, over very long periods. The right reaction is to intensify the struggle. In this case, we should recognize that the anti-war movement was unprecedented in scale, so that there is a better base for proceeding further. And that the goals should be far more long-term.'

Chomsky: Power and Terror: Excerpt
'[At a question-and-answer session, Chomsky responds to a query: "Don't you think that you greatly simplify all matters, as if the United States acts everywhere as an evil empire?"]
CHOMSKY: Do I simplify all matters by saying that the US acts everywhere as an evil empire? Yeah, that would certainly oversimplify things. [audience laughs]'

Much better than Horowitz and much funnier too...

Collier & Horowitz: Destructive Generation: Noam Chomsky
'The intellectual most associated with the view that America is the great Satan is MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky.'

I'm interested in critique and development of Chomsky's ideas but it is hard to find a critic that one can take seriously. The sentence quoted above is the opening one of the linked article and it immediately calls to mind Chomsky's withering remark that he didnt read Horowitz when he was a Stalinist and he doesnt read him now. After such a lousy start the article doesnt appear to get any better and one wonders why one would bother.. in a word, dont. It can only be useful as a discussion aid for readers who are not sure what it is that Chomsky is actually saying - which is, not anything much like what Horowitz says he is saying.

Polar Bear Attacks US Nuclear Submarine - photos (via dy)
This guy has got more gumption than even Kim Il Sung... he has good reason to be upset, too. '[Submarines] have also used their sonar to measure the ice thickness and report that the ice has lost 40 percent of its thickness in the last 20 years. This has caused problems for the polar bears, who feed on seals that surface near offshore ice flows or through breathing holes in pack ice. Some bears are forced to come ashore earlier because of the longer warm season.'

If only Little Johnny Howard had the same kind of guts to declare a non-nuclear zone in Australia and enforce it.

Terror war: More Bang For Their Buck
'US vice-president Dick Cheney is quoted as having said in a speech, post-Riyadh: "The only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it. There's no treaty can solve this problem. There's no peace agreement, no policy of containment or deterrence that works to deal with this threat. We have to go find the terrorists." There is plenty of potential for disagreement with the implication that the terrorist trends in Islam are unrelated to past and present American actions.'

'Virtually all significant successes against Al Qaeda have been recorded on Pakistani soil, through police action rather than military manoeuvres. Had that been the main tack adopted from the outset - not just in Pakistan but also in the Gulf, in North Africa, wherever there was evidence of Al Qaeda activity - it is likely to have yielded much more substantial results in terms of curbing terrorism, with negligible "collateral damage". But within the constraints of a sensible course of action along those lines, it would hardly have been possible for the neo-conservative clique that surrounds Bush to keep alive their dream of world domination, through conquest if necessary.'

The essential danger which the world faces with the so-called 'war on terror' is that it is the ideal pretext for the US government to carry forward their hegemonic policies of war, conquest, repression, domination and exploitation: which policies will of course most likely lead to increased, not diminished terrorism. World public opinion must therefore be mobilised to flatly oppose 'war on terror' and to demand lawful police action and social justice remedies as the only appropriate responses to the problem of terrorism.

Avnery: The Children's Teeth
'When Stalin's secret police arrested a man as an "imperialist spy", his family was dispersed, his wife sent to the Gulag and the children to the party's orphanage. The Nazis created the term "Sippenhaft", meaning that the whole family is responsible for the acts of any of its members. Until now, such methods were associated with totalitarian regimes.'

'The climax of the operation was the arrest of the head of the movement, Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. His father was dying in hospital, the Sheikh was lying next to him to give him support in his last hours. The policemen woke him up and took him out in his underclothes to the waiting photographers, as we saw on TV. If they wanted to humiliate him, they failed. The dignified bearing of the Sheikh put the policemen to shame. His father died a few hours later, alone.'

'Let there be no illusions: Sharon's final goal is turning the whole country, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river, into an exclusively Jewish state. In this vision there is no place for Arabs, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel proper. Whoever opposes this vision is an enemy (if an Arab) or a traitor (if a Jew).'

Iraq's Slide Into Lawlessness Squanders Good Will for US
Fairly detailed report on a state of sustained anarchy in Iraq and Baghdad.

Roy: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)
'When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn't any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the "Free Press," that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests. Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.'

Steady decline: Discussion of media performance at Doha, Qatar during Iraq war
'[Questions] posed by European and Arab journalists tended to be more pointed and probing than those from the Americans... One US network correspondent told me that she was worried that, if she pushed too hard at the briefings, she would no longer be called on... After watching the British reports, I found the American ones jarring. In my hotel, MSNBC always seemed to be on, and I was shocked by its mawkishness and breathless boosterism... I was sadly reminded of the network's [CNN] steady decline in recent years... CNN International, the edition broadcast to the world at large, ... was far more serious and informed than the American version. The difference was not accidental.'

Polls show that most Americans believe Saddam was involved in 9/11. This has been hailed as a stunning success of the propaganda system. But at the same time as this the US media has been undergoing a relentless dumbing down in order to continue to function effectively as propaganda. A breaking point might soon be reached... the lethal perception will inexorably spread that US corporate media is propaganda that should be compared to Goebbels or Pravda but not taken at face value.

World Press Review - Saudi Arabia - Suicide Bombings (via Ag)
This press review shows a practically universal worldwide condemnation of US policies on terror as counterproductive. This is a typical example: 'Madrid El Mundo (centrist), May 14: The war against Iraq not only has not served to weaken Al-Qaeda, but it has produced exactly the opposite effect: It has strengthened the terrorist organization, which has gained supporters in the Muslim world after the U.S. offensive against a paper tiger called Saddam. The attacks of yesterday show that Baghdad was not the great threat Bush said and that the true enemies of the United States are in other countries, which are much closer to Washington politically.'

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Stakeknife affair: IRA penetrated to the hilt
'Some of the revelations from the FRU handler are astonishing. He said that Stakeknife gathered enough information on leading Provisionals and Sinn Feiners to ruin the republican movement forever. It is this, the FRU officer believes, which prompted Sinn Fein to repeatedly back Scappaticci's claim that he is not Stakeknife. 'If they admit he exists, they are effectively admitting that they were penetrated to the hilt -- that we knew everything about them. It shows that they were our plaything... 'Stakey knows all about the past and all about the main players and what they've done -- the killings they've arranged, the bombings they've arranged, and he could bring the whole f***ing lot down. He was up there with the big boys, many of whom now have public profiles, and if he wants he could put them in jail or ruin them...' 'Scap has repeatedly said that if he was ever compromised that he'd tough it out. He has little respect for the IRA as he knows too much about them, and he always believed he could call their bluff. He also knew that if they touched him, it would bring the whole movement to its knees. Ironically, he is still an asset to the British as they can now keep using him as a whip to beat and terrify the IRA.'''

Privatizing Water: What the European Commission Doesn’t Want You to Know
'Leaked documents and an exchange of e-mails reveal that the European Union has asked 72 countries to open up their markets to private water companies.'

Was Australia one of the 72 countries asked to 'open their markets' and have Australian governments, Federal or State, held discussions publicly or secretly with the Euro Commission or large foreign water companies over privatization of Australian water?

Chomsky on War
'Has Saddam ever posed a threat to the US? The idea verges on absurdity. Up to 1990, when he was committed by far his worst crimes, he was a friend and ally of those running the show in Washington today. Far from seeing him as a threat, they even provided him with means to develop weapons of mass destruction. The Gulf war and the sanctions reduced Iraq to the weakest military force in the region. Even the countries Saddam invaded don't regard him as a threat, and have been trying for years to reintegrate Iraq into the region, over strong US objections. The US is alone in the world, to my knowledge, in regarding Iraq as a threat, either military or terrorist. By "US" here I mean the image portrayed by government-media since September, primarily, which has had its effects on popular attitudes.'

Chomsky Interview: Imperial Ambition (v.good)
'David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?

'Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, which was declared in general terms last September. Last September, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued. It presented a somewhat novel and unusually extreme doctrine on the use of force in the world. And it’s hard not to notice that the drumbeat for war in Iraq coincided with that. It also coincided with the onset of the congressional campaign. All these are tied together.'

Russia, China oppose US Iraq resolution
'AMERICA’S revised draft UN resolution appeared to be running into trouble within hours of its release yesterday when Russia and China declared that they could not support it without major changes. The two permanent members of the Security Council made their opposition known as it emerged that Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, had failed to win the outright support of Germany for the US, British and Spanish-sponsored document... Powell told journalists that he welcomed Herr Schröder’s support for lifting sanctions. However, it later emerged that even that commitment was not certain, as Herr Fischer maintained that Germany’s initial demand for a suspension rather than an end to sanctions had not changed.'

These discussion in the UN over the future of Iraq are important and do not get the media emphasis that they deserve. It is important for world public opinion that it be demonstrated to the US there is a lack of support for their policies.

'War on terror' a failure
'The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a respected British think tank with no discernible anti-Bush animus, declared that Al Qaeda is "more insidious and just as dangerous" as it was before Sept. 11.'

Politicians such as Bush, Blair and Howard are not serious about preventing terror. If they were serious they would not have attacked Iraq and most importantly would put emphasis on the need to 'drain the swamp': this is the leitmotif of any genuine effort to combat terror. Instead they are using the terror scare to advance their real political agendas, re-election, military-industrial-corporate advancement, neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism etc.

Texas bill defines Animal and Environmental activists as 'ecological terrorists' (via ag)
'A person commits an offense if the person knowingly provides financial support, resources, or other assistance to an animal rights or ecological terrorism organization for the purpose of assisting the organization in carrying out an act described by Subsection (b).'

Saturday, May 17, 2003

The Truth About Jessica
Detail on the Jessica Lynch case, one of the more astounding episodes of media manipulation in the war. How long will Americans continue to fall for this kind of stuff, and what will they do when they realise they are being repeatedly and systematically lied to by their own government/media system?

Survey: Israel Racist, Undemocratic
'More than half the Jewish population of Israel - 53 percent - is opposed to full equal rights for Israeli Arabs... The general conclusion of the survey, which is dubbed the "Israeli Democracy Survey" and will be conducted every year, is that Israel is basically a democracy in form more than in substance, and that it has yet to internalize fully the concept of democracy... Israel is also one of the only four countries of the 32 listed in the study, in which most of the public believes that "strong leaders can do more for the country than debates or legislation."'

The best comparison is to Apartheid South Africa. A racial majority is being repressed by force and systematically denied its human rights. Nevertheless it is popular in the US to call Israel a 'democracy.'

Bush Sr blamed for mass graves in Iraq
'“We are thankful for the young Bush who liberated us from Saddam,” Mr Abbas said. “But his father is an accomplice in this massacre along with Saddam. We trusted him to help us but he betrayed us. Where was he when our relatives were being killed?”'

The discovery of this mass grave has been exploited by Blair & co for propaganda purposes. Naturally these contemptible people with their shallow manipulations fail to mention the role Bush Sr had in the affair.

Bitter Iraqi Soldiers Threaten Attacks on American Forces, Sabotage
'The officers' unhappiness is one more example of how sentiment on Baghdad's streets has swung dramatically in recent weeks from gratitude to anger. With increasing bitterness, residents complain about the Americans' failure to bring the city back to anything resembling normality.'

Why did the Tories vote for the war instead of bringing down Blair?
'Enthusiasm for the new Bush doctrine is not universally shared by Tory MPs. One of its most cogent critics is Andrew Tyrie... ‘The international system’s stability depends on the mutual recognition of states’ legitimacy. It is a common-sense principle: do not invade my house and I will not invade yours. George Bush is setting that doctrine aside.’ It is a recipe, says Tyrie, not for international order but for ‘international anarchy’... many Conservatives are distinctly wary of George Bush and the neoconservative agenda. If the new Bush doctrine of pre-emption and regime change draws Britain into new conflicts, this rift between Conservatives and neoconservatives is sure to widen.'

Flights grounded and al-Qaeda hunt is on
One has to express some scepticism about the spate of terrorist 'alerts' that follow the latest bomb blast. On what basis are these alerts made? The public is entitled to know the true situation. One of the consequences of the Iraq war is that the world's intelligence agencies have suffered large blows to their credibility. Where are the Iraq terrorist links and the Iraq weapons of mass destruction? Either the intelligence agencies cannot do their job or more likely they have been compromised by the political leadership. This does nothing to inspire confidence. Personally, I am inclined to believe that authorities have no real information or ability to prevent terrorist attacks, which could occur at any time; at the same time military and intelligence agencies are blatantly used for political purposes.

Nuclear non-proliferation treaty is dead - race on to get nukes
'The Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1968 enshrines a bargain between states with the bomb and those without it. Under Article Six, the 182 signatory nations that don't have nukes promised not to acquire them, while the five officially recognised nuclear powers agreed to negotiate in good faith to reduce and ultimately eliminate their arsenals. But, says a former director of alliance policy at the Australian Defence Department, Ron Huisken, a methodical analysis of American statements and actions in recent years would reveal "no trace of a commitment to Article Six".'

'The US's subsequent refusal to ratify the test ban treaty appears to have crushed any residual commitment to the issue that Australia might have had. Since then, Canberra has been wary of getting in front of Washington on disarmament.'

Australia must learn to develop its own foreign policy instead of taking one from the United States. Australia has to realise that the biggest rogue state in the world and the main breaker of international treaties is its erstwhile ally the US, and therefore learn to put its shoulder to the wheel on the US itself.

The NPT in fact provides the legal and international framework for general nuclear disarmament. It will have to be revived and implemented, no matter what. Let's hope this can be done before someone sets off a bomb.

French cite examples of what they call false stories
'Two-page list accompanying a letter from France to the United States that cites examples of what the French have described as false stories about its alleged complicity with Iraq.'

Vigourous rebuttal by France of US media machinations, but France will over the longer term also need to reach the American people directly. For this purpose France or Europe needs an English language cable TV news station that broadcasts right across the US. Duetsche Welle provides an excellent English language service and this could form the backbone of a European network.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Kick Their Ass and Take Their Gas: Democracy Comes to Iraq
'One month after the fall of Baghdad, the US has successfully liberated the people of Iraq from meaningful involvement in decisions about their own future.' - article provides detail on the 'democracy' that the US is building in Iraq.

UK ministers retreat in disarray over WMDs (via dy)
Boy oh boy have people been had...

Reinhart: Guaranteed Failure Of The Roadmap
'Every few months, a "peace plan" is pulled out of the drawers of the white house and keeps the public discourse busy for a few weeks. Although this ritual has a fixed pattern and predetermined end, it is curious that many in Israel are still tempted to believe that this time it is different.'

- and not just people in Israel, in the US, Australia and all around the world, many are tempted to believe that 'this time it is different.' Although less and less people are falling for it each time as the US undergoes a sustained and probably irreversible loss of credibility.

Did anyone notice what Assad said?
Interesting analysis of concessions Assad may be making. But it assumes Assad believes or fears the Road Map will lead to peace with the Palestinians, surely Assad would not place much stock in the 'Road Map'?

'REBEL Labour MP George Galloway last night insisted he was innocent after it was revealed a dirty tricks scam was used to frame him for taking money from Saddam Hussein. Papers offered for sale in Baghdad were said to prove the Glasgow MP took millions of pounds for supporting the Iraqi dictator. But the documents, offered by former Republican Guard General Salah Abdel Rasool, contain obvious mistakes. A scrawl claimed to be Mr Galloway's signature on "receipts" has no similarity to his real one.'

The possibility that the documents were forged, how and by who they were forged, to frame Galloway is a real story but one doubts it will get the coverage that the original allegations received. As they say, mud sticks.

France Says It Is Target of US Untruths
'The stories, all of which Paris has heatedly denied, are part of an "ugly campaign to destroy the image of France," a French official said. Officials said they have no doubt that the stories were spread by factions in the administration itself -- hard-line civilians within and close to the Pentagon are their primary suspects -- and that there was no visible effort by the White House or other departments to discipline those involved or even find out who they are.'

If France wants to challenge US hegemony they will have to take on the formidable American propaganda machine. The historic opportunity and the need is there, the countries and peoples of Europe have shown they will support France, but one wonders whether there is a proper realisation of the magnitude of the task.

Kurds' Bid for Stake in Oil Firms Rebuffed
'U.S. authorities rejected a bid by ethnic Kurds for a stake in the state oil giants of northern Iraq -- the dominant force in the local economy -- preferring to retain existing managers and minimize disruption to resume large-volume production as quickly as possible... The American focus on oil production first and new leadership later has upset Kurdish leaders, who had hoped the end of Hussein's regime and the arrival of their long-time allies would gain them entree into the political system and the oil industry.'

Toxic DU bullets litter Iraq
'The Monitor visited four sites in the city - including two randomly chosen destroyed Iraqi armored vehicles, a clutch of burned American ammunition trucks, and the downtown planning ministry - and found significant levels of radioactive contamination from the US battle for Baghdad... "The important thing in any battlefield - especially in populated urban areas - is somebody has to clean up these sites..." '

'"After we shoot something with DU, we're not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer," says a sergeant in Baghdad from New York, assigned to a Bradley, who asked not to be further identified. "We don't know the effects of what it could do," says the sergeant. "If one of our vehicles burnt with a DU round inside, or an ammo truck, we wouldn't go near it, even if it had important documents inside. We play it safe." Six American vehicles struck with U "friendly fire" in 1991 were deemed to be too contaminated to take home, and were buried in Saudi Arabia. Of 16 more brought back to a purpose-built facility in South Carolina, six had to be buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump.

'Television footage of the war last month showed Iraqi armored vehicles burning as US columns drove by, a common sign of a strike by DU, which burns through armor on impact, and often ignites the ammunition carried by the targeted vehicle. "We were buttoned up when we drove by that - all our hatches were closed," the US sergeant says. "If we saw anything on fire, we wouldn't stop anywhere near it. We would just keep on driving."'

The Iraq War and the Violent State: Review of new neocon book
'This book frightens me. The authors do not confine themselves to a justification of the American invasion of Iraq, which began shortly after their book was published. They offer a plan by which this war is but the first of many that the United States is to undertake. For Messrs. Kaplan and Kristol, "perpetual war for perpetual peace" is not a mocking comment but rather a slogan to be embraced with fervor.'

Kant and Mill in Baghdad. John B. Judis.
'The rise of modern imperialism, and of rivalries between the imperial powers, led to violent nationalist rebellions and two world wars in which millions perished. These sad events prompted a fundamental reappraisal of international morality. After World War II -- in the Nuremberg trials and the formation of the United Nations -- the world's countries embraced a Kantian approach to international relations based upon the recognition of nations as equal sovereign persons (regardless of their size or stage of economic development) with inalienable rights. The UN Charter forbade the "threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state" except if "an armed attack occurs." Similarly, the Nuremberg tribunal stated that "to initiate a war of aggression … is the supreme international crime." Utilitarianism was present, too, but in a supporting role: the UN charter assumed that by granting them inalienable rights, the world's nations would help remove a major cause of war... By Kantian standards, the [Iraq] war was aggression without justifiable cause.'

The Bush doctrine of full spectrum dominance and preventative war opens up a fundamental topic of world debate: is the UN Charter and response to the Second World War the right response or not? Its amazing how powers like the US, UK and Australia have simply dispensed with the core convictions of the post war era with so little debate or opposition. : TrackBack Explanation
Trackback - a good feature - I hope blogger introduces it soon.

Study reveals plunge in big fish numbers
'A global survey spanning nearly half a century reveals a 90 percent plunge in the population of large ocean fish, from tuna to cod, since commercial fishing vessels took to the high seas, Canadian researchers reported Wednesday. With their numbers decreasing by as much as 80 percent in 15 years, the depleted communities could crash delicately balanced ecosystems, with unknown worldwide consequences, the surveyors of pelagic creatures warned. "More than 90 percent of the fish we like to eat are gone,"'

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Mercenaries Wave of the Future, US Firms Say
The subsitution of mercenaries for citizens is usually a late stage of imperial development, eg Rome. Mercenary forces are usually advanced and effective, but if defeated can be difficult to replace.

The American Taxpayer Is Paying Dearly to Be Attacked by Terrorists, by Ivan Eland
'The terrorist attacks support the views of those who argued against such a war on the grounds that it would increase anti-American terrorism, not reduce it. After arriving in Saudi Arabia, Secretary Powell said: “Terrorism strikes everywhere and everyone. It is a threat to the civilized world.” Although the Secretary’s statement is technically true, he needs to read his own department’s reports entitled “Patterns of Global Terrorism.” Those annual reports regularly indicate that terrorists launching international attacks strike U.S. targets an astounding 40 to 60 percent of the time. Those numbers are unusually high for a nation that has no ethnic or civil war within its borders, has no unfriendly neighbors stoking such internal unrest, and is far removed from the world’s major centers of conflict.'

The Anti-Americans, by Justin Raimondo is a very good site for numerous links to articles on the American 'war on terror', although it has a telling reliance on mainstream US media sources. But its real weaknesses derive from its origins in Right-Libertarian philosophy. American Right-Libertarianism is a reactionary (anti-socialist) coldwar doctrine, but in the course of its post-Soviet era development is suffering an interesting split, as is much of American conservative ideology, where the nakedness of US imperialism & aggression causes some of them to question and oppose the policies and tendencies of the US government, drawing upon conservative traditions of isolationism and anti-imperialistic republicanism. However strong they are here in opposition, they are still unable to appreciate the critique of the US and of 'capitalism' that comes from sources such as anarchism, Chomskyism, Marxism and geoism or geo-libertarianism. Hence this article by Raimondo swings into denunciations of the 'anti-american left'. It is a necessary phase that the varous positions be understood and sublated. Rahul Mahajan, the target here of Raimondo's wild spray, makes a reasonable case, based on the perception that the nations and populations of the world will inevitably combine to resist US hegemony. It is not so difficult to understand, however hangups about 'lefties', 'commies', 'anti-Americanism' etc will have to be left behind.

As an example of Raimondo's confusion and lack of understanding, we can consider his 'really telling' example, "Rahul's trope about how those dastardly Americans are also plotting "to force the Palestinians to acquiesce to the Israeli occupation through the latest 'peace plan.'"" If he had paid more attention to commonplace understandings of Chomsky, the left etc he would not be so astonished at this observation. It is quite obvious to such people that the 'Road Map', just like the Oslo accords, is a phony 'peace process' actually designed to allocate the Palestinian authority the role of 'Bantustan chief' or Uncle Tom, to put down Palestinian uprisings on behalf of the Occupying power. This is the reason why it is doomed to fail, and the 'Road Map' has been unravelling the day it was announced, and is already nearly dead. At least the Oslo accords lasted a few years, the Road map will struggle to last a few weeks. The commitment of both the Bush Administration and Sharon to the 'Road Map' and the 'Peace Process' is primarily for propaganda effect, as hollow as could possibly be. Let us hope Raimondo and is not the last to realise this.