Tuesday, September 30, 2003

David Krieger: The Second Nuclear Age: "The United States, as the world's sole surviving superpower, has had the opportunity to lead the world toward a nuclear weapons free future. It is an opportunity that our country has largely rejected, and has done so at its own peril. Political leaders in the United States have yet to grasp that nuclear weapons make us less secure rather than more so, and their policies have reflected this failure to comprehend the dangers of the second Nuclear Age.

"In the year 2000, the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the United States, agreed to 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament. These included '[a]n unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals,' along with specific steps such as ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), preserving and strengthening the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and applying the principle of irreversibility to nuclear disarmament. In each of these areas the United States, under the Bush administration, has led in the opposite direction."

This is all very deliberate, of course, according to the principle 'hegemony is more important than survival.' It follows therefore that government as such comprises the chief risk of nuclear catastrophe and security can only be attained by the mass education and mobilisation of the grassroots.

"The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has set forth a series of needed steps that have been widely endorsed by prominent leaders, including 38 Nobel Laureates, in its Appeal to End the Nuclear Weapons Threat to Humanity and All Life. These steps are de-alerting all nuclear weapons, reaffirming commitments to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, commencing good faith negotiations on a treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons, declaring a policy of No First Use of nuclear weapons and reallocating resources from nuclear arsenals to improving human health, education and welfare throughout the world.

"Our challenge is to translate this program into action. It will require a sea change in the thinking of US political leaders. This cannot happen without a grassroots movement from below, that is, from ordinary citizens, who hold the highest office in the land. The starting point is the recognition that the Nuclear Age did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and that we are now living in the second Nuclear Age."

Uri Avnery on the IDF Refuseniks: "A year and a half ago, a small group of Israelis decided to break a deeply entrenched taboo and bring up the subject of war crimes. Until then, it was self-evident that the IDF is 'the most moral and humane army in the world', as the official mantra goes, and is therefore quite incapable of such things."

"The seed has matured slowly. This process accelerated after a pilot released a one-ton bomb over a residential neighborhood in Gaza in order to kill a Hamas leader, abruptly ending the lives of 17 bystanders, men, women and children. Many pilots were deeply troubled by this. Now the conscience of 27 of them has spoken out."

"The pilots are bought up from an early age to believe that we are always right, and that our opponents are vile murderers. That the army commanders never make a mistake. That an order is an order, and theirs is not to reason why. That professionalism is the highest virtue. That problems have to be solved inside the Force. That one does not question the authority of the political leadership."

"All this explains why the pilots struggled with themselves for so long, before they found in themselves the inner strength required for such an extraordinary, morally courageous act as publishing this appeal. The 27 Air Force pilots informed their commander that from now on they would refuse to fulfil "immoral and illegal orders" that would cause the death of civilians. At the end of their statement, they criticized the occupation that is corrupting Israel and undermining its security."

"Such a thing is unprecedented in Israel. Because of the special standing of the Air Force, the refusal evoked a much louder echo than the refusal movement of the ground troops that seems to have leveled out, for the moment, at about 500 refuseniks. The army establishment, the real government of Israel, sensed the danger and reacted as it had never reacted before. It started a wild campaign of defamation, incitement and character assassination. The heroes of yesterday were turned overnight into enemies of the people."

"The counter-attack was headed by the media. Never before did they expose their real face as on this occasion. All TV channels, all radio networks and all newspaper--without exception! - revealed themselves as servants and mouthpieces of the army command."

Marwan Barghouti taunts Israeli court: "put together a commerorative book, because this is history": "Mr Barghouti used his final address to the judges in his trial on 26 counts of murder to defend the past three years of resistance to occupation. The intifada has cost more than 3,000 Israeli and Palestinian lives. "I am proud of the intifada. I am proud of the resistance to Israeli occupation," he said. "To die is better than living under occupation. I am standing here because I resisted Israeli occupation."

"Mr Barghouti, who led the Tanzim - the military wing of the Fatah movement - said: "I hope the Israelis have learned that the Palestinian people can not be brought to yield with force. If an occupation does not end unilaterally or through negotiations then there is only one solution, one state for two people. "How can the Jews who suffered and survived the Holocaust allow themselves to resort to such insufferable and unacceptable means against another people?"

"Mr Barghouti, who denounced the court as illegitimate and did not take part in most of his trial, taunted the judges and prosecutors by saying that, whatever the verdict, he would walk free as part of a political deal... "Put together a commemorative book, because this is history," he told the prosecutor. "I'll be out soon enough."

Bogged Down in Baghdad: "Our guys are not about to start taking any chances. We are planning to survive the tour, get home safe and get the hell out of the army. And God help any Iraqis who get in the way of that plan."

"If my men see an Iraqi carrying a weapon, they'll not wait to find out whose side he's on," said an Australian captain, who requested anonymity. "They'll shoot first, and identify the remains later."

Iran's Race for Nuclear Weapons: "For the leadership in Tehran, the quest to acquire nuclear weapons has become a race. With the United States in inextricable situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington will have a difficult time using military power to prevent Tehran's pursuit of nuclear arms. With troop levels nearly exhausted, a military attack on Iran would have to rely mainly on airpower, which would not produce the desired results of completely eliminating Iran's nuclear program or altering the government structure in Tehran."

"Tehran's desire to develop and acquire nuclear weapons is based upon its deteriorating national security situation. Before October of 2001, when the United States began military action against Afghanistan, Iran had less to fear regarding its territorial integrity or the survival of its government. Afghanistan to the east was plagued by inner turmoil and did not pose much of a threat to Iran's eastern border. Iraq, to the west, was more of a concern, yet the U.N. enforced sanctions did much to keep Iraq in a state of perpetual weakness. The United Nations and the United States were intent on keeping the status quo in the Middle East."

"Tehran is racing to develop and acquire nuclear weapons before the United States has the military leverage again to effectively deal with Iran. But once the main Iranian reactor at Bushehr is loaded with nuclear fuel -- possibly in 2004 -- it will become much more costly for Washington to launch an air attack on that reactor as any attack on the reactor would risk nuclear fallout. But Washington may not have the military or political ability to attack Iran before then. Therefore, the wildcard to this festering conflict is Israel. Like Washington, the Israeli government does not want to lose foreign policy leverage in the Middle East. If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, Israel's nuclear monopoly in the region would end."

"If in 2004 the Bushehr reactor is ready to be loaded with nuclear fuel, the United States may quietly encourage an Israeli attack on Iran. An Israeli attack would achieve Washington's objectives of weakening the Iranian government, but without putting U.S. military forces in jeopardy from Iranian retaliation. The State of Israel, however, will be at risk from possible Iranian retaliation with its Shahab-3 missiles. It is still unclear whether Israel will risk such retaliation in exchange for its desire to preserve its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East."

If the US/Israel fail to take out the Iranian regime before it goes nuclear, the Middle East hegemonic project faces a turning point, strategic defeat.

Blistering Eric Margolis on the Iraq debacle: a fraud and an epic blunder: "President Bill Clinton was impeached by a Republican-controlled Congress for lying about sex. President George W. Bush and aides lied the United States into a stupid, unnecessary colonial war that has so far killed more than 305 Americans and seriously wounded more than 1,400. It has also cost many thousands of Iraqi dead, and $1 billion US weekly. Lying about sex is an impeachable offence; lying the nation into war apparently is not."

Monday, September 29, 2003

The New York Review of Books: Wartime Lies - review of Elliott, The Vietnam War: "Of the many lessons in Elliott's book perhaps the most important is that the long revolutionary struggle was homegrown and not initiated as part of Soviet or Chinese global strategy. Indeed, American policymakers' eventual understanding that Vietnam had little to do with the cold war made them increasingly willing to abandon their long campaign, although only very slowly and very destructively. Elliott makes clear that the historic roots of this struggle were long and deep. That is why he starts his study in 1930... Inquiring why many Vietnamese preferred the revolutionaries, Elliott found that considerable numbers of the poor had benefited from Communist land distribution."

"the US 9th Division killed more than ten thousand suspected Vietcong in only six months. Most of these, Elliott writes, were civilians. At My Lai, Elliott observes, while a few rogue officers gave the orders to massacre civilians, "the civilian casualties [result-ing from] Speedy Express were a consequence of official policy." An American admiral commented that one 9th Division brigade commander was "psychologically...unbalanced. He was a super fanatic on body count.... You could almost see the saliva dripping out of the corners of his mouth. An awful lot of the bodies were civilians.""

Robert Fisk on the late Edward Said: "After Arafat went along with the Oslo accords, Said was the first - rightly - to attack him. Arafat had never seen a Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, he said. There wasn't a single Palestinian lawyer present during the Oslo negotiations. Said was immediately condemned - all of us who said that Oslo would be a catastrophic failure were - as 'anti-peace' and, by vicious extension, 'pro-terrorist'."

"...he had even less patience with American television anchors. "When I went on air," he told me once, "the Israeli consul in New York said I was a terrorist and wanted to kill him. And what did the anchorwoman say to me? 'Mr Said, why do you want to kill the Israeli consul?' How do you reply to such garbage?" "

German President compares suffering of post-war Germans to Holocaust: "Germany's president has accused Britain of giving in to Hitler and compared the suffering of Germans after the war to that of the Jews. Johannes Rau condemned foreign leaders who 'extended their hand' to Hitler at a meeting in Munich in 1938. They included Britain's Neville Chamberlain, and their agreement allowed Hitler to take over part of Czechoslovakia.

"Rau, 72, also criticised the Allies for taking over territory in eastern Europe, forcing 12 million Germans to flee their homes. Speaking to a gathering of former exiles, a prominent lobby called the Vertriebenen, he attacked those 'who in central and eastern Europe, first working together with the Germans, deprived the Jews of their rights' but afterwards deprived the Germans of their rights as well.

"He referred pointedly to the conferences at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945, when the Allies gave German land to countries including Poland. In an apparent comparison between the Holocaust and the suffering of Germans after 1945, Rau added: 'Hitler's criminal policies do not exonerate anyone who answered terrible wrongs with terrible wrongs. The pan-European catastrophe can only really be understood in its entire context.' "

Homes bust 'within three years': "In a long-term forecast to be released today, economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel warns of sharp rises in home loan rates and the bursting of the housing bubble within three years."

According to the George/Hoyt/Harrison 18yr cycle, the next peak in land values will be the year 2007.

UK troops in Iraq warned of 'inevitable' terror attack: "A major terrorist strike against British forces in Iraq is 'inevitable', according to senior government sources in Iraq and intelligence officers in Britain and the Middle East. Any such attack would cause massive casualties and further destabilise the current US-led occupation government."

Sunday, September 28, 2003

The Retreat From Baghdad: "Despite the optimism at the Pentagon about Iraqi operations, Tuesday's speeches at the United Nations General Assembly may actually prove to be a step toward an American retreat from Baghdad, possibly before the end of this year... The military in Baghdad is now planning how to get out of the present mess. What's being discussed is a military retreat into several well-defended bases well away from the capital and Iraq's other cities. These undoubtedly are mostly the same bases Washington had in mind before the war as permanent U.S. installations."

"The cynic might say that Washington has to control the Governing Council and the political process until a government emerges with sufficient international legitimacy to privatize Iraq's oil industry, to the benefit of U.S. investors... Washington now plans to put Iraqis in charge of security as fast as this can be done. They want Iraqi police and Iraqi military. The occupation authority has been recruiting police and militia, and hiring private security forces. It does not take much imagination to think what job Bremer has in mind for Iraq's former defense minister, Sultan Hashim Ahmad, former No. 27 in the famous "wanted" deck of cards. He accepted a courteous invitation last week to turn himself in. I would think him the leading candidate to rebuild Saddam's army under U.S. command."

This is the most realistic plan for continuing US control of the country. In effect it is a rebuff for the neo-classical idealogues and their policy of 'de-Baathification.' In imperialist terms, sacking the Iraqi army and banning Baath party members was a mistake. The proven way to establish imperial control of the country is to prop up an authoritarian Sunni regime to rule over the whole, ie the iron-fisted junta/Baath party without Saddam. It remains to be seen whether the US can now succeed in this, whether they can get sufficient cooperation from the 'Sunni triangle' now that they have alienated them so violently.

Democrat candidate Howard Dean on the Plame affair: A coherent and effective statement from Dean's blog, worth reading. How often can a politician boast that?

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Media Censorship That Doesn't Speak Its Name: "Reducing journalism to a branch of corporate and government public relations is the hidden agenda of the media deregulators, in Britain and America."

Why we're all the way with the USA: Paul Sheehan tries to defend the 'all the way with USA' foreign policy of Australia. Firstly, he claims that Australia is 'altruistic', which explains why it has been involved in so many foreign wars over more than a century. A better explanation would be that Australia is 'colonial', ie that it is brought up to believe that it has a duty to serve the mother country, whether Britain or the new empire, USA.

The core of his argument, however, is that 'we need a great and muscular ally if the satay hits the fan.' This notion has certainly guided Australian foreign policy for a long time but it is an elementary fallacy that dies hard. Nations or empires do not act our of loyalty, friendship or past services. They operate on the basis of national interest, or self interest. The US will 'aid' Australia on the basis of its perceived national interest, and nothing else. The notion that Australia putting loyalty donations in the US bank means that we can make a withdrawal when we need to is simply juvenile. The second that it is not in the US' national interest, Australia will be abandoned just as fast as Britain abandoned us after Singapore, and we'll keep a couple of your divisions, thank you.

Finally, Sheehan repackages the old 'yellow peril' fantasy, only this time it is not communist gooks, but brown-skinned Islamic fanatics (Indonesia), who are a scary threat of invasion of our country, and the only policy is alliance with the US at the cost of antagonizing the whole of East and South East Asia. Antagonizing and insulting our neighbours is a stupidity, made doubly so by the fact that the US in the unlikely event of 'invasion' would not lift a finger to help if it was not in their interest.

The Other Lies of George Bush: Article details the appalling record of lies and deception of President Bush. However, he does not come in for a fraction of the criticism that Clinton had for his sexual peccadillos.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Free Software in Government and the Demise of Microsoft in Brazil: "According to the Minister, the adoption of the open system, more than a political decision, represents a strategic decision for the development of the country, which will be able to produce goods with greater aggregate value and save on royalty payments to owners of proprietary software. 'Free software is here to stay,' affirmed Dirceu,"

Iraq Has Now Become the Crucible of Global Politics: "Six months after the launch of the invasion, it has become ever clearer that the war was not only a crime of aggression, but a gigantic political blunder for those who ordered it and who are only now beginning to grasp the scale of the political price they may have to pay... Iraq has become the crucible of global politics and the test bed for the US drive to global domination. It is in the interests of the security of us all that there is now a political reckoning at home and in the US for that aggression."

Palestinian author Edward Said dead at 67: "To the extent that there has been a broadening of sympathy for the cause of Palestine and Palestinians in the United States in recent years -- especially among younger Americans -- it can be traced in no small measure to the work of the world-renowned scholar, author, critic and activist who has died Thursday at age 67 after a long battle with leukemia."

The hunt for weapons of mass destruction yields - nothing: "An intensive six-month search of Iraq for weapons of mass destruction has failed to discover a single trace of an illegal arsenal, according to accounts of a report circulating in Washington and London.

"'It will mainly be an accounting of programmes and dual-use technologies,' said one US intelligence source. 'It demonstrates that the main judgments of the national intelligence estimate (NIE) in October 2002, that Saddam had hundreds of tonnes of chemical and biological agents ready, are false.'"

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Bush can only stall for so long before Iraqi quagmire drags him down: "the president of the United States seemed to be stalling for time, apparently under the illusion that standing still is a substitute for building the necessary support for a workable plan that might salvage the situation ­ and quite possibly his chances of winning a second term in office... A more cynical view would see the speech as evidence that the White House is still refusing to recognize the hopelessness of going it alone and is waiting for the French and the Germans to start feeling guilty about not helping to extricate their old ally from an increasingly sticky morass. There is a fleeting window of opportunity to reverse the downward spiral, and Bush has yet to demonstrate an understanding of how it might be put to good use... Countries like France and Germany do not want America to fail, but nor do they want to be part of a disaster that they rightly see as being perfectly preventable. Their involvement might come with a heavy political price tag, but their continuing estrangement will be even more expensive."

Iraq governing council adds to call for US handover: "An increasing number of calls by prominent members of Washington's handpicked, 25-member Governing Council in Iraq for the United States to more quickly transfer real power from US occupation authorities are adding to the embarrassment of the Bush administration... The council, which late last week called for US troops to withdraw from towns and cities to bases and turn over police duties to Iraqi militias and police, has clearly reached the conclusion that the occupation is turning into a disaster."

Henderson: Blair more spinned against than spinner: "Tony Blair: more spinned against than spinner - with respect to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, at least? On the evidence taken so far, this is a possible finding from Lord Hutton's investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic death (apparently by suicide) of the British scientist Dr David Kelly."

So says Gerard Henderson, who is proving to be a faithful and comical servant of neo-conservatism, or whatever other ideology of the powerful is current. The report by Andrew Gilligan, was brief, insignificant and apparently displayed poor journalistic methods. Blair, however, next to the Bush administration, has played the leading role in what has been described as "state-sponsored lies pursued with a determination characteristic of the worst regimes of the 20th Century."

As far as Gilligan's actual report goes, Henderson summarises it as follows: "The BBC's leading current affairs radio program was alleging - on the basis of one anonymous source - that Blair and his colleagues had taken the nation to war on the basis of a lie, supported by an essentially fabricated document."

Looking back on what we know now, this, a reasonable assumption at the time, was a pretty accurate description of events, despite any errors by Gilligan's. Gilligan's errors presumably explain why Blair attacked him so violently - these could become the subject of debate while the serious issue of the fabricated case for war was marginalised. Thus we have had the Hutton inquiry into the death of David Kelly rather than an inquiry into the fabricated case for a war which has cost thousands of lives.

Henderson also describes the BBC as 'leftist' journalism but others have demonstrated that it was essentially pro-war and a mouthpiece of government.

Pilger claims White House knew Saddam was no threat: "after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 that year, Pilger claimed Rice said the US 'must move to take advantage of these new opportunities' to attack Iraq and claim control of its oil. Pilger uncovered video footage of Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001 saying, 'He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.'"

"I think it's very serious for Howard. Howard has followed the Americans and to a lesser degree Blair almost word for word," Pilger [said] "All Howard does is say 'well it's not true' and never explains himself. I just don't believe you can be seen to be party to such a big lie, such a big deception and endure that politically. It simply can't be shrugged off and that's Howard's response."

"Blair has shrugged it off but Blair is deeply damaged. It's far from over here, there's a lot that is going to happen and much of it could wash onto Howard. And it's unravelling in America and Bush could lose the election next year. I've not seen political leaders survive when they've been complicit in such an open deception for so long."

California Nightmare: Arnold Stalks for Bush 2004: "Anyone who thinks that the White House and Karl Rove are not behind the Schwarzenegger assault is not paying attention... Schwarzenegger is a clown candidate whose ignorance of the issues hides beneath the smokescreen of his bizarre celebrity. At the end of a dying film career, the Terminator's boorish sexism masks his foot soldier role in a totalitarian tragedy. Make no mistake about it: Arnold is being spammed straight from the White House. He's there to purge those voter rolls, sabotage the state legislature, and do to California what's been done to Florida and Texas...and the nation."

Zunes: An Annotated Refutation of President George W. Bush UN speech 23 September: Point-by-point critique. This type of analysis is accepted by most of the world today, which is why Bush has no credibility - an emperor without clothes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

UN loses patience with the American way: The Guardian reports on the debate in the United Nations General Assembly over the US occupation of Iraq, including excerpts of speeches by Bush, Chirac and Annan. Bush even raised the issue of WMDS and links to terrorism, but there is scant sympathy for the US position in the Assembly. Chirac, supported by much of the UN, has dictated tough terms for the US: let the UN take charge, end the occupation, handover sovereignty in months. If Bush cannot accept these terms, he risks total disaster.

Brazilian Land Reform Offers Hope: "Across Brazil's vast landscape, poor people, in groups of hundreds, are moving onto land that is claimed by others. The poor are demanding that land be distributed to them as part of an ongoing national agrarian program. Powerful landholders are threatening to drive the occupiers off at gunpoint. Governors of several states have announced that if necessary they will mobilize police and military to keep the peace and enforce the law in the countryside."

Bush isolated as speech to UN falls flat: "George Bush was increasingly isolated on the global stage yesterday as he defied intense criticism from a litany of world leaders at the United Nations over the war on Iraq... the French president, Jacques Chirac, who spoke after Mr Bush, blamed the US-led war for sparking one of the most severe crises in the history of the UN and argued that Mr Bush's unilateral actions could lead to anarchy.

'No one can act alone in the name of all and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules,' he said. 'The war, launched without the authorisation of the security council, shook the multilateral system. The UN has just been through one of the most grave crises in its history.'

"Earlier the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, condemned the doctrine of preemptive military intervention, arguing that it could lead to the unjustified 'lawless use of force' and posed a 'fundamental challenge' to world peace and stability. 'My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification,' said Mr Annan. 'This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years.'"

Say no to Iraqi privatisation: "America's plan to privatise the Iraqi economy is a mistake that needs to be corrected before it is implemented. The huge sell-off programme, tax breaks and virtual elimination of tariffs on imports is designed to attract foreign investment and revive Iraq's moribund industries. But recent evidence suggests Washington's radical prescription is doomed to fail. The last big socialist, centralised economy that opted for such sudden and drastic shock therapy was Russia in 1992. The result was economic devastation, rampant corruption and the rise of a powerful class of businessmen, the oligarchs." - the Guardian leader does not comment that this kind of 'failure' may be precisely what is intended.

Uri Avnery on Shimon Peres' high society 80th birthday party: "Shimon Peres bears a major part of the responsibility for the woeful state that Israel is now in, for the continuation of conflict with the Palestinians, for destroying the Israeli peace camp, for strengthening the Likud's hold on power, for paving the way for Ariel Sharon, who is quite capable of bringing about the destruction of Israel."

Pilger: THE BIG LIE: "Exactly one year ago, Tony Blair told Parliament: 'Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programme is active, detailed and growing. 'The policy of containment is not working. The weapons of mass destruction programme is not shut down. It is up and running now.'

"Not only was every word of this false, it was part of a big lie invented in Washington within hours of the attacks of September 11 2001 and used to hoodwink the American public and distract the media from the real reason for attacking Iraq. 'It was 95 per cent charade,' a former senior CIA analyst told me. An investigation of files and archive film for my TV documentary Breaking The Silence, together with interviews with former intelligence officers and senior Bush officials have revealed that Bush and Blair knew all along that Saddam Hussein was effectively disarmed."

Crean's rudderless leadership: "On border security, the Herald-ACNielsen poll showed, the Coalition is deemed preferable by 58 per cent of respondents, compared with 28 per cent for Labor, even though there is not a lot of policy difference between the two sides, except for the Government's theatrical and expensive offshore processing stunt.

"The Howard Government wins decisively, too, on international relations (57-33) and national security (60-29), which is ironic given a large majority of people also believe that Howard misled the Australian people about the biggest security and international relations issue of the moment, the war with Iraq."

'Border security' is simply calculated, dog-whistling racism; and 'national security' is a grovelling and deliberate 'all the way with USA' policy which can only increase the risk of terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs. Howard can get away with it because the opposition does not have the guts to challenge and destroy his position on these issues.

The particular irony of the 'border security' policy is that while it appears to have been temporarily successful in preventing a few hundred people coming in boats, it does nothing to stop the tens of thousands annually of Asian migrants who are coming into the country. In other words, its a con, a nasty con.

"Twenty-six per cent of respondents thought Howard deliberately misled them and 42 per cent believe he did it because he was misled by others. Added together, that makes 68 per cent of people who think he was either a deceiver or a dupe, and yet they follow him. Such apparent voter double-think is no doubt frustrating to Labor, but it is nonetheless real. The best the Opposition can hope for is that people will think less about these issues, and more about the domestic agenda, which is its strength."

For me, these poll results show the the absolute failure of the 'small target' political strategy: Howard is in fact a sitting duck, but he will sit there relaxed and comfortable forever unless you actually take a shot to blow him away. He should be attacked relentlessly, day after day, on the war issue. Virtually every day there is yet another devastating blow to the credibility of the Bush/Blair/Howard war, and this should be the occasion for direct attack. Of course, you would have to have the courage and conviction to define a foreign policy in detailed contrast to Howard, particularly on the core issue of the relationship with the US, and that is precisely what is lacking.

Poll: majority of Australians 'feel misled' by Howard over war: "A quarter of all respondents believe Mr Howard deliberately misled the public on his case for war. The same proportion were equally convinced that he had not. Forty-two per cent said they thought Mr Howard had unintentionally misled them because he had been misled by others. That suggests that, as evidence of misleading intelligence has built in the United States and Britain, Mr Howard has been successful in convincing the electorate of his repeated assertions that no intelligence doctoring was done 'by the Government I lead'."

These results show the success and importance of one of the keynotes of Howard's political strategies - "no one told me about this." The public want to believe that their leaders are honest and honourable, and this makes them fundamentally susceptible to deception.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Coalition Of Joint Venture Looters?: "“We’re not telling them that this is just about writing checks or sending troops, but about having a stake in Iraq so their government agencies and humanitarian groups are involved in a sector when a new sovereign [sic] government is in power in Iraq. It’s a way to get in on the ground floor. That’s the selling point,” according to a “well-placed U.S. official” (Robin Wright, “U.S. Dangles A Carrot: Opportunities in Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 10, 2003)."

"In short, the Bushies are trying to organize a new “coalition of joint venture looters,” a limited partnership with the managing general partners based in Washington and London. Given that truly “liberated” Iraqis might not buy into this joint venture looting of their country, this makes pretty open the fact that any claim of a liberation or intent to allow Iraqis to rule their own country is another Big Lie that is a fitting complement to the Big Lie about the urgent threat of those weapons of mass destruction."

Unemployment in America: How a Regular Guy Gets Homeless: "My biggest daily challenge: Finding a campsite, especially in the tourist season, and, when I am in towns, places to go to the bathroom. I am only at campsites at night — sleeping either in my truck or tent — and during the day spend much of the time in libraries surfing the Net for jobs and sending out résumés by e-mail. The corporate writing work that I have gotten I have done in libraries. Sometimes I relax in air-conditioned bookstores and read the papers, magazines and books. I also have used job service computers daily for months in California seeking work, to no avail. Luckily, I have always been able to stay at campgrounds, mostly county, state and federal ones, which range from $10 to $18 a night. Private ones are too expensive. I try to shower daily, and many of the campgrounds have coin-operated showers. I tried showering at friends' homes when I didn't have one at a campground, but they tired of that quickly."

Resistance And Collaboration: "September 29th 2003 will nevertheless mark the 3rd anniversary of the al-Aqsa Intifada, a somber occasion for anyone who hoped that the uprising might herald revolutionary change and the pursuit of justice. Instead as headlines carry news that more Israeli civilians have died in atrocious suicide bombings, we are kept from knowing that four times as many Palestinians have died at the hands of Israelis in legal acts of terror since the uprising began and that 80% of the Palestinian dead were unarmed civilians. Our politicians, news media and educators keep us from understanding that resistance to occupation is a right and that those who refuse to accept the unbearable circumstances in which they are forced to live and work represent the last hope for an acceptable future."

The war game: David Hirst's grim prognosis for the Arab-Israeli conflict. As Chomsky put it in his book 'Fateful Triangle', the US, Israel and the Palestinian are slowly drifting together towards disaster. It is madness, and can only be explained on the basis that 'hegemony is more important than survival.'

Eric Margolis blasts tame US media: "I do not exaggerate when I say that much of the U.S. media from 9/11 to the present closely resembled the old Soviet media I knew and disrespected during my stays in the USSR during the 1980s. The American media, notably the sycophantic White House press corps and flagwavers at Fox, treated President George Bush and his entourage with adulation and fawning servility similar to what the Soviet state media once lavished on Communist Party Chairman Leonid Brezhnev."

Iraqi defense chief argued with Saddam over war: "Because Saddam overruled the battle plan, Iraqi resistance to invading coalition troops in the spring was far less than many observers on both sides of the conflict expected, according to a former Iraqi general. The general, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr. al-Tai's battle plan also included the deployment of troops in small groups of fighters. The object would have been to make the coalition advance very slowly and painfully, drawing out the battle and then to put up 'a powerful defense' through urban warfare in and around Baghdad, the general said.

"'We believed neither Bush nor Blair could handle the political pressure at home if [many] soldiers were dead,' he added. Instead, the general said, Saddam believed he could 'solve the problem politically, as he had done at the end of the 1991 Gulf war,' and he clung to that belief almost to the end. "

the Betrayal Of Afghanistan: John Pilger on the Afghan disaster.

Monday, September 22, 2003

War on terror: Drunken US soldier kills 'terrorist' tiger: Those dead-enders, Saddamites, foreign terrorists and Baath-party remnants get what's coming to them...

Bush Covers Up Climate Research: "Emails and internal government documents obtained by The Observer show that officials have sought to edit or remove research warning that the problem is serious. They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue... However, environmentalists say the email fits a pattern of collusion between the Bush administration and conservative groups funded by the oil industry, who lobby against efforts to control carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming.

"When Bush first came to power he withdrew the US - the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases - from the Kyoto treaty, which requires nations to limit their emissions. Both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are former oil executives; National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was a director of the oil firm Chevron, and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans once headed an oil and gas exploration company. 'It all fits together,' said Kert Davies of Greenpeace. 'It shows that there is an effort to undermine good science. It all just smells like the oil industry. They are doing everything to allow the US to remain the world's biggest polluter.' "

Iraq to be sold: "In a major initiative to help rebuild the shattered economy, the Iraqi interim administration has announced that foreign investors will be allowed to buy complete control of previously state-owned enterprises - apart from those in the oil sector. Foreign banks will be able to buy Iraqi financial institutions, while the central bank itself will become independent."

The systematic looting of the country is described as "rebuilding".

Interest rates: Reserve feels the blowtorch: "The Federal Government has stepped up pressure on the Reserve Bank not to increase interest rates to stifle the housing boom, triggering accusations that it is damaging the central bank's independence."

"Senator Minchin said the bank's role was to control inflation and not deal with growth in house prices. "The suggestion that they should . . . use interest rate policy simply to deal with the growth in the price of housing is not sensible and not one I'm sure they would contemplate."

This statement is against all conventional wisdom, but the Senator has a point if he realised that as the 'boom' is in land values, a more specific and appropriate remedy would be higher rates of land value taxation. Of course no such concept will pass the lips of any politician or commentator in spite of the obvious need:

"Last week, the Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, said the economy was being haunted by a housing bubble and the International Monetary Fund warned that Australia risked a housing bust because of surging home prices and rising household debt. The Reserve has also issued repeated warnings, especially to highly geared residential investors, that home borrowing had reached unsustainable levels and threatened the economy."

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Feminist writer attacks Schwarzenegger: [the postponement] "allows people more time to find out how conservative and obnoxious and ignorant he is... The explanation for the political and gender double standard can't be something as simple as the media being mostly owned by conservatives and mostly written, edited, produced and spoken by men--can it?"

Israel planning assault on Gaza: "Israel is planning a huge call-up of at least 50,000 soldiers to cope with the conquering of the Gaza strip. Special Israeli troops will move from house to house to find and kill militants. The Israelis are well aware of the difficulties of such an operation. Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth. The Israelis assume they will face serious resistance and many casualties. But it seems that the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is determined to crush Hamas in Gaza."

Interview with Robert Fisk in Bagdad: "What you find is that the real soldiers, I'm talking about non-reservists, full time U.S. soldiers, they know they're involved in a guerilla war. They know it's not working. They know the place is falling to bits. What they tell me is when it gets up to the generals on your side of the lake, they don't want to admit it. I have colleague of mine on the State Department Press Corps, which arrived with Colin Powell, I was present at Powell's very strange press conference here. And my colleague told me they still don't realize in Washington how bad it is. That's the impression I get on the ground here."

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Massive privatization of Russian forest threatened in new law: "Russia has 22% of the forest on earth [843m hectares - 70% of Russia's territory spanning 12 time zones] a very important part of climate stability and global biodiversity because of all the rare species that live there. According to some estimates, Russian forests absorb 15% of the world's carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. It provides a huge amount of oxygen for not just Europe, but the world... At present, private firms can lease some of the land from the government for up to 49 years. The Kremlin heavily regulates its use."

Did Israel put Idi Amin in power?: Recently released documents suggest it was Israel which backed the coup which put Amin in power in 1971.

Draft 'Arafat' resolution in full: Text of the UN 'Arafat' resolution vetoed by the US in the Security Council (the sole vote against) but passed by the General Assembly 113 to four against (US, Israel, Micronesia and Marshall Islands). Anyone reading this resolution would wonder why and on what basis the US opposes it...

US objects to route of Israeli wall: Just as US taxpayers are paying for the Israeli military and Israeli settlements on the Occupied Territories, this Haaretz article shows how the US is also paying for the Wall. The US is currently objecting to the route of the wall and expects to have an influence over this.

The Presidential Oath: Warblogger details how Bush has broken his oath and attacked the Constitution in numerous ways. Includes wicked photo of Bush giving the 'Nazi salute'.

Tragedy in New York: French Fried Friedman: "What got Friedman's brain a-boilin' is the impertinent suggestion by French diplomats that, if the US invaded Iraq to bring democracy, then why not allow Iraqis to vote. Vote! Can you imagine! It's all that silly 'libertay, equalitay' stuff that unsophisticated Americans believed before the Patriot Act."

Violence needed to fight terror: Buddha's man of peace: "The Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace prize winner and one of the world's most prominent advocates of non-violence, says it might be necessary to fight terrorists with violence. He also says it is too early to say whether the war in Iraq was a mistake. 'I feel only history will tell,' he said in an interview. 'Terrorism is the worst kind of violence, so we have to check it, we have to take countermeasures,' the Dalai Lama said."

How can he be so badly out of touch? Perhaps he has been misquoted.

Blix: Saddam destroyed weapons ten years ago: "Blix, who said this week he believed Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago, told BBC radio that the United States and Britain 'over-interpreted' intelligence about Baghdad's weapons programs. Blix compared London and Washington to medieval witch-hunters, saying they convinced themselves on the basis of evidence which was later discredited, including forged documents about alleged attempts to buy uranium for nuclear weapons. "In the Middle Ages when people were convinced there were witches they certainly found them," he said... Blix's comments have been echoed by his successor Demetrius Perricos, who told Reuters it was becoming "more and more difficult to believe stocks (of WMD) were there" in Iraq."

Israeli Reserve pilots to refuse murder assignments: "A group of reserve pilots in the Israel Air Force is planning to publicly announce their refusal to participate in attempts to assassinate senior wanted men in the Palestinian Authority. The group has been discussing the initiative for more than three months and members say that they have been badly torn. According to sources in the movement of soldiers who refuse to serve in the territories, the group is in the process of collecting the last signatures and is waiting for "the right moment" to issue its announcement."

Another Day, Another Death-Trap For The US: "It may well turn out to be the most costly ambush the Americans have suffered since they occupied Iraq - and this on the very day that George Bush admitted for the first time that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and the 11 September assault on the United States...There were three separate ambushes in Khaldiya and the guerrillas showed a new sophistication... This was guerrilla warfare on a co-ordinated scale, planned and practiced long in advance. To set up even yesterday's ambush required considerable planning, a team of perhaps 20 men and the ability to choose the best terrain for an ambush."

Propaganda system in a nutshell: Bush 9/11 Admission Gets Little Play; Story Doesn't Make Many Front Pages: "No real evidence to support this [Iraq links to 9/11] has emerged, however, leading some (including E&P, just last week) to declare that the media had failed in its duty to correct the public misperception. [69% of Americans continue to believe it likely that Hussein was personally involved in 9/11.] So when President George Bush admitted on Wednesday, for the first time, that there was "no evidence that Hussein was involved with the September 11th" attacks, one would assume that would be big news and an opportunity for the press to make up for past failings...

"Of America's twelve highest-circulation daily papers, only the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, and Dallas Morning News ran anything about it on the front page. In The New York Times, the story was relegated to page 22. USA Today: page 16. The Houston Chronicle: page 3. The San Francisco Chronicle: page 14. The Washington Post: page 18. Newsday: page 41. The New York Daily News: page 14. The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal didn't mention it at all."

UN demands Israel drop threat: Reporting from Jerusalem (!) rather than New York, News Ltd carries Israeli spin but is unable to conceal the extent of Israel's isolation over its plan to 'remove' or murder Arafat: "The General Assembly passed the resolution today by 133 votes to four - Israel, the United States, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia - with 15 abstentions. It was presented to the assembly after the United States vetoed a similar measure this week at the UN Security Council"

Friday, September 19, 2003

How to Handle Iraq's Oil: Citizen's Dividend: "American officials have projected that a properly functioning oil industry in Iraq will generate $15 billion to $20 billion a year, enough to give every Iraqi adult roughly $1,000, which is half the annual salary of a middle-class worker... The concept is also popular with some Kurdish politicians in the north and Shiite Muslim politicians in the south, who have complained for decades of being shortchanged by politicians in Baghdad. "Giving the money directly to the people is a splendid idea," said one member of the Governing Council, Abdul Zahra Othman Muhammad, a Shiite from Basra who leads the Islamic Dawa party. "In the past the oil revenue was used to promote dictatorship and discriminate against people outside the capital. We need to start being fair to people in the provinces."

French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin: The Reconstruction of Iraq: "Far be it from us to play down the scale of the task and its complexity, or to maintain the illusion that it's an easy one. But we have one conviction: by continuing on the current path we run the risk of entering a spiral from which there is no exit. Time is short."

"The present Iraqi institutions, i.e. the Governing Council and recently appointed ministers, would be considered by the UN Security Council as the guardians of Iraqi sovereignty during the transition period. Very soon, perhaps in a month, an interim Iraqi government could be established based on these bodies with executive powers progressively transferred to it, including economic and budgetary activities.

"A personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General would be mandated to organize consultations with existing Iraqi institutions and the coalition authorities and to muster support from the States of the region. This envoy would report back to the Council and propose a timetable for the gradual transfer of powers to the interim government and the modalities for completing this political transformation. This timetable should provide for all the stages of a constitutional process with the aim of presenting a draft text by the end of the year. A general election could be envisioned as soon as possible, by spring 2004."

This French proposal, for the UN to take political control of the Iraqi process, and for an interim government, constitution, elections, and transfer of sovereignty to be completed all in the space of less than a year, is what the Bush Administration has found totally unacceptable, as it would symbolise the utter defeat of the neocon project for hegemony in the Middle East. But in the end the US may have no choice but to accept this offer, or one nearly as good, after a further year or two of quaqmire. Current US policy seems to be based mainly on hope, that in time things will somehow settle down and it will all turn to the good. The risk of things getting worse, however, is real. And as Villepin rightly says, time is short. The failure of vision on the part of the Bush Administration, the failure to appreciate the French/UN offer for what it is, could easily lead to a much more involved and difficult Middle East disaster.

When Negroponte Raised His Hand, US Credibility Sunk to New Low: "From the 77 vetoes used by the US at the Security Council, 26 have been in attempt to cripple any tangible international role in the ongoing Middle East conflict... what Negroponte and the US government behind him might have ignored is that the latest veto didn't only cripple any attempt to move forward in resolving the Middle East crisis. It further contributed to the growing reputation worldwide of the United States as a rogue state, a dishonest broker, and a biased party without any genuine interest in peace and stability in the Middle East."

An Occupied Country: "It has become clear, very quickly, that Iraq is not a liberated country, but an occupied country. We became familiar with the term 'occupied country' during World War II. We talked of German-occupied France, German-occupied Europe. And after the war we spoke of Soviet-occupied Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe. It was the Nazis, the Soviets, who occupied other countries. Now we are the occupiers... Then there is the occupation of the United States. I wake up in the morning, read the newspaper, and feel that we are an occupied country, that some alien group has taken over."

Interview with Robert Fisk in Baghdad: Slaughter Every Night Fisk reports that the Occupation Authorities have banned journalists from visiting hospitals. He estimates 1,000 Iraqis a week are being killed. The lack of journalists and deficiency in reporting means that the Iraq Body Count site seems unable to cope and does not give a realistic estimate.

Al-Qaeda turns against Pakistan, Saudi Arabia: "Among the 14,000 male members of the Saudi royal family there is a strong but sidelined lobby of princes who support bin Laden. They do not necessarily agree with his strict Wahhabi agenda, rather, they seek to use him as a means of getting at the ruling elite. In terms of its new mission, al-Qaeda will actively play along with this. After all, if nothing else, it still needs the funds that apparently flow from its supporters in the kingdom.

"In Pakistan, too, the knives, literally, are going to be drawn. From the early stages of the "war on terror", al-Qaeda and the Taliban were assured by Pakistan that the country would wear two faces - one acceptable to the US, the other friendly towards al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the latter, especially, having enjoyed long-time support from Pakistan... in time, whether through US insistence or for another agenda, Musharraf's crackdown has begun to bite. And it hurts.

"At present ... there is a realization in al-Qaeda that Musharraf is their only enemy in the country as he is the one now orchestrating the crackdown. Remove him, they argue, and the environment will once again be favorable to them. As a result, according to these same well-placed sources, Musharraf has been pencilled in at the top of al-Qaeda's hit list, and attempts on his life can be expected in the near future.

"Pakistani security agencies have made Musharraf fully aware of these developments. President House in the capital Islamabad is now offlimits as it is too difficult to secure. Musharraf spends most of his time in Army House in Rawalpindi, or in general headquarters there, even when performing his day-to-day civilian functions."

"We conducted a psychoanalysis of all prisoners who were arrested crossing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border after the US invasion [early 2002]. You will be surprised that many of them come from urban and cosmopolitan backgrounds. Their reason for fighting in Afghanistan was a kind of reaction. You know, everybody can view what is happening in Palestine and Chechnya, but nobody speaks against that terrorism. People's houses are demolished and missiles are fired on their populations, so they think that if they are going to die, why not make a suicide attack and kill their aggressors too. This is the thinking that is growing all over the Muslim world, it is a reaction. I think the real and long-term remedy is not suppression, but justice," [former Pakistani minister] Haider says."

Nuclear Proliferation: Saudis consider the bomb: "A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:

· To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;

· To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;

· To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East."

"Saudi worries about an Iranian programme and to the absence of any international pressure on Israel, which has an estimated 200 nuclear devices."

Israel has never formally admitted it has a nuclear program or ever been subjected to pressure by the US or the international community. This kind of hypocrisy and racist double standards might usually pass unremarked in the West but among Arabs, Muslims and the Third World it should not take much empathy and imagination to perceive they would not be impressed.

IMF predicts housing bubble will burst: "Outlining the latest forecasts, a senior IMF official, Kenneth Rogoff, said: "Even greater risks are posed by the significant possibility of a housing price bust in some countries, especially as historically low interest rates pick up." Everyone knows that it is coming, but it cannot be described accurately and truthfully. It is not 'housing', 'asset prices' or 'property', it is very specifically land values and nothing else.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Israel humiliates US over forced veto: "By deciding 'in principle' to remove Mr Arafat, Israel has unleashed a series of events that runs against its own policy of isolating the Palestinian leader. In the process, say officials in Washington, it has dragged the US administration down a path it had tried to avoid. On Tuesday the administration was forced to veto a resolution that it essentially agreed with, thereby undermining the image that President George W. Bush has spent months cultivating, as an honest broker in the region."

The myth of the US as an 'independent broker', which was effectively exploded for ever by Chomsky's 1983 book Fateful Triangle, was further undercut by this veto and the fact that it was shown on both SBS and ABC TV news last night, the visual including a lonely US UN Ambassador John Negroponte raising his hand against a motion condemning Israel's decision to remove or harm Arafat. 11 voted in favour, including France, Russia and China. Britain, Germany and Bulgaria abstained. Germany may have abstained as part of a policy not to be seen to criticise Israel. But even Blair's Britain could not bring themselves to back the US on this one.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat appeared in an interview on SBS TV last night and made one of his most effective and impassioned presentations, putting the blame on Israel for deliberately wrecking the prospects for peace, ridiculing the incessant demand from the Israeli military colossus that the bombed and ruined Palestinian Authority 'dismantle the infrastructure of terror', and accusing Israel of having no real desire whatever to end the occupation and recognise a viable Palestinian state.

Paths of Glory Lead to a Soldier's Doubt: "My time is almost done, as well as that of many others with whom I serve. We have all faced death in Iraq without reason or justification. How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader's interest?"

Losing Dollars and Sense in Iraq: Another eloquent speech by US Senator Robert Byrd.

Mystery Pneumonia Toll in Iraq May Be Due to Anthrax Vaccines: I recall that before the war Aust Defence Minister Robert Hill said he would take an anthrax vaccine when he went to Iraq. He went to Iraq but did he take the vaccine? The media did not follow up on this.

The Best of Bad Alternatives for the Bush Administration in Iraq, by Ivan Eland: "Karl Rove, the president's political advisor, foolishly agreed to that [neocon attack Iraq] strategy because war and a smashing victory would make the president's popularity soar... In the short-term, Rove was right; in the long-term, he may well have committed a massive blunder... Early withdrawal also could somewhat diminish U.S. prestige... The same "loss of face" argument prevented the United States from withdrawing earlier from Vietnam – only to lose even more prestige when the withdrawal finally came years later. As now, the United States would have been better to declare victory, withdraw U.S. forces and cut its losses – both in human and financial terms."

It seems unlikely that Bush could make such a difficult decision but one of the key roles of the UN in the current crisis is to consistently present the alternative to the Bush Administration should they be able to take it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Patrick Cockburn: The Iraq Wreck: "A friend representing a French company in Washington recently went with some trepidation to Paris with the unwelcome news that he had been told by the Pentagon that there was absolutely no chance of his employers getting a contract in Iraq. He was not looking forward to report total failure of his well-paid efforts but to his relief the chairman greeted the dire news with prolonged laughter saying: 'Don't worry. Let's just wait a year or two and then it will be American companies which won't be able to do business with the Iraqis.'

"This could be discounted as the evil-minded French watching with delight as the US, with Tony Blair loyally chugging behind, sinking deeper into the Iraqi quagmire. But the quite correct perception that the US has already failed in Iraq is becoming the common consensus in Iraq as well as much of the rest of the world."

Protestors get ready: Bush to tour Australia in October - with Rumsfeld!: "Although he comes at the invitation of John Howard, the Prime Minister must be rueing the day he pressed for the visit because Bush's presence is likely to trigger anti-US demonstrations of a kind we have not seen since October 1966 when president Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) became the first US president to visit Australia."

Summers contrasts a visit and domain speech by Clinton in 1996 with the speech of Hanson in parliament: "Clinton spoke just two months after the newly elected Pauline Hanson had given her maiden speech. "Immigration and multiculturalism are issues that this Government is trying to address, but for far too long ordinary Australians have been kept out of any debate by the major parties," she had told Federal Parliament.

"I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course I will be called racist, but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country. A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united. The world is full of failed and tragic examples, ranging from Ireland to Bosnia to Africa and, closer to home, Papua New Guinea. America and Great Britain are currently paying the price."

Bovard new book: Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil: "Acknowledging the undeniable horror of terrorism, Bovard compares the thousands of innocents who international terrorists have killed to the millions murdered by their governments in a recent ten-year period. He explains the severe danger in trusting governments to suppress terrorism when governments are quite guilty of terrorism themselves... He concludes that America is on a road to tyranny, and that the long term as well as "immediate threat to Americans' freedom does not stem from a depraved interpretation of the Koran, but from a perverse reading of the Constitution." The government's War on Terrorism, if it continues on its current path, will cause far greater harm to American liberty and security than al Qaeda ever could, while doing very little even to suppress the latter threat, as real as it is."

Cheney's Big Lie: Link of Iraq, 9/11 Challenged: "Vice President Dick Cheney, anxious to defend the White House foreign policy amid ongoing violence in Iraq, stunned intelligence analysts and even members of his own administration this week by failing to dismiss a widely discredited claim: that Saddam Hussein might have played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks."

"There is no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11," Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat running for president, said in an interview last night. "There was no such relationship."

"Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism specialist, said that Cheney's "willingness to use speculation and conjecture as facts in public presentations is appalling. It's astounding... The general public just doesn't have any independent way of weighing what is said," Cannistraro, the former CIA counterterrorism specialist, said. "If you repeat it enough times . . . then people become convinced it's the truth."

"But Cheney, on NBC's "Meet the Press," cited the report of the meeting as possible evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link and said it was neither confirmed nor discredited, saying: "We've never been able to develop any more of that yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don't know..." 69 percent of Americans believe that Hussein probably had a part in attacking the United States, according to a recent Washington Post poll."

Aust PM John Howard, whose foreign and core domestic policy is based simply on standing 'shoulder to shoulder' with the United States, should be hunted relentlessly on this issue to force him to concede that that core 'policy' cannot be sustained: Does the Prime Minister agree with the Bush Administration statement that.... ? There is plenty of fantastic material to work with, such as the above; Bush's statement that "we found the WMDs", in spite of the fact nothing has been found; that "major operations are over, Mission Accomplished" in spite of the fact more US soldiers have been killed since that statement than before; and so on and so on.

Sydney property set to slump, says Residex: Gavin Putland comments this article "contains some suspiciously precise predictions from Residex on property prices to 2006. All figures predict growth at a reduced rate. But how can you be so precise when the market is in a bubble? Current prices cannot be justified by rental yields. They can be justified only by the expectation of further price rises. That, by definition, is a bubble -- the `B' word that slipped out of the mouth of Treasury Official Ken Henry this morning (Tuesday). And a bubble inflates at an unpredictable rate and bursts at an unpredictable time, making nonsense of all predictions of future growth." One wonders, however, whether Fred Harrision and his supporters would entirely agree with the statement that the bubble bursts at an unpredictable time. According to the 18yr cycle, the bust is set in Australia for 2007.

Meanwhile, Treasury's Ken Henry has described the boom as a "housing bubble", although he immediately warned the asssembled journalists not to report this!

Also "there was a split between the Treasury and the Reserve Bank, with the Treasury pushing for an interest rates cut because of its concerns about the weak international economy, and the Reserve Bank resisting because of its concerns about the red-hot housing market and high levels of consumer debt." This illustrates the fundamental contradiction and failure of contemporary economic and interest rate policy: the problem is the unsustainable land booms that periodically occur, but the only proposed remedy, rising interest rates (which doesn't work anyway) also damages the 'real' economy. Public appropriation of site rent through taxation policy would directly address and terminate the problem of land booms without harming the 'real' economy but this of course is never mentioned by neo-classical economists or the bureacracies they dominate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Gush Shalom activist Uri Avnery to act as human shield for Arafat (article includes a striking photo of Arafat's ruined compound): "'I am willing to put myself at risk and serve as a human shield, in order to foil Prime Minster Sharon's intention to murder the leader of the Palestinian People. So are many of my my fellows in the Israeli peace movement' declared the veteran peace activist Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc) upon his arrival at the Presidential Compound in Ramallah."

Drury on Strauss and the neocons: Another Drury article on the development of fascist ideology in the United States and the remarkable rise of these people to high office in the country. The core doctrine of Strauss and the neocons is simply pre-enlightenment, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian fascism: the right and duty of the elite to rule over the masses, using force and lies. Democracy is rejected as a mistake, an absurdity. It seems to me, however, that these people are talking shop, wannabe fascists, with a half-baked imperialist plan, who were as surprised as any that Bush and 9/11 catapulted them into power. As the imperialist project goes awry, they face defeat along with the Bush Administration, and humiliation and rejection. It is possible that only mass electoral fraud backed by repressive force could keep them in power and keep the neocon project on track, but it is not at all clear they are prepared and willing to use these methods. But the 2004 election could be intense and dirty, no doubt.

"The neoconservative goal is reactionary in the classic sense of the term. It is nothing short of turning the clock back on the liberal revolution. And it will use democracy to accomplish its task... It is ironic that American neoconservatives have decided to conquer the world in the name of liberty and democracy, when they have so little regard for either."

Uri Avnery: Assassinating Arafat: Avnery discusses the implications of the official Israeli decision to kill Arafat. He believes that the execution will be delayed to a time of Sharon's choosing, and that it will lead to widespread violence and the complete reoccupation of the territories. From first to last, 'Greater Israel' is the dream of Sharon, according to Avnery.

Iran faces nuclear choice: "In his view, Tehran has no other choice but to bow to the IAEA's demands and convince the international community about its nuclear programs, or adopt the North Korean model and cut all of its ties with the IAEA and accept the consequences. "In case Iran's answers fail to convince, then the United Nations Security Council can impose economic sanctions against it. But contrary to North Korea, Iran's economy is tied to international exchanges, making it vulnerable to international embargoes," Saba concluded."

Kerry, Lieberman, and the House Democratic Leadership Attack Dean Well written Zunes article puts in context US presidential candidate Howard Dean's "support for Israel".

Fisk: Powell's Baghdad Briefing Ignores High Price of Failure: "the occupation authorities no longer even distribute their overnight security warnings to humanitarian organizations in Baghdad. If they did, the reports would show that US forces are now being attacked up to 50 times every night, that missiles are being fired at US planes almost every day, that neither Baghdad nor Basra airports are safe enough to open."

Iraq WMD report shelved due to lack of evidence: "After failing to get any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the US and Britain have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a full report on the controversial issue, media reported today. Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group, an Anglo-American team of 1,400 scientists, military and intelligence experts, to scour Iraq for the past four months to uncover evidence of chemical or biological weapons have so far ended in failure"

WTO talks collapse in Cancun, Mexico: "The sensation of failure with which the five-day gathering ended triggered a burst of elation among activists and the representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who gave shouts of joy and even jumped up and down and danced when they heard the news that no final statement had been agreed."

''This is a triumph of reason, a triumph of the poor countries and civil society, because we could not allow the rich countries to once again impose their views and their pressure,'' Alberto Villareal, the head of the environmental group Friends of the Earth International's trade campaign, told IPS."

The fundamental objection to the "free trade" talks is that under cover of trade, the agenda is to impose a pro-profit, pro-corporate, anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-social agenda across the whole world. In other words the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation, deregulation, de-unionisation and demolition of the welfare state.

Lying his way to war: Crean's assault on PM: "The Prime Minister, John Howard, was accused yesterday of sending Australia to war on a lie as the Government admitted receiving intelligence warnings that the country would face a heightened terrorist risk because of its role in Iraq. Mr Howard reacted immediately to the charge, from the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, accusing Labor of being apologists for Saddam Hussein."

Accurate records of Iraqi deaths are not available. According to IBC, at least 6131 civilians have been killed this year by the aggressors. No figures are available for Iraq army deaths, but one estimate has it at 30,000, most of them conscripts. Currently, journalists are prevented by US soldiers from visiting hospitals in Iraq, thus inhibiting their efforts to report civilian casualties. But another report has civilian casualties at 1,000 a week. The Saddam regime is a bad one, and under sanctions, Iraq has suffered tremendously. But the startling fact is that the post-Saddam situation is worse than before. To justify this epic slaughter and the "supreme crime" (Nuremburg) of aggressive warfare, Howard mentions the need to 'get Saddam' (something which hasn't actually been achieved yet), and accuses anti-war people of being 'pro-Saddam', which we are not.

"But [Howard] said neither he nor any other minister had been briefed on its findings. [Cue the Prime Minister: No one told me about this!] "It was the judgement of the Government that the longer-term proliferation and terrorism risks of leaving Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in place outweighed the shorter-term risks addressed in the JIC report. That was the basis of the Government's decision. It is a decision that I stand by, and I stand by it unconditionally."

Of course Iraq had no effective weapons of mass destruction and did not pose a threat even to its neighbours, much less to the UK, US or Australia.

"In mounting his case for war, Mr Howard consistently rejected suggestions that Australia's involvement would increase the risk of a terrorist attack."

This position flies in the face of reality and one assessment after another. As Eric Margolis has said, the case for war on Iraq and the 'war on terror' in general is 'Like the gigantic Enron swindle, it's a huge bubble, inflated by false claims and calculated deception.'

Monday, September 15, 2003

New book rubbishes Blair's war: "And the book claims: 'For all his public assertions that the intelligence was rock-solid, Blair had his doubts throughout.' Kampfner's book details a series of further allegations, including that:

* Blair had secretly agreed to go to war as early as April 2002, when he had a summit with George Bush at the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

* Intelligence reports told the Prime Minister the threat of Saddam producing and using weapons of mass destruction was actually diminishing in the run-up to the conflict.

* The 45-minute claim about Saddam's missiles 'was a red herring designed to scare', and Blair knew it.

* Downing Street was kept in the dark when Bush finally ordered US forces into action. "

"[UK Foreign Secretary] Straw is said to have argued that the United Nations’ refusal to back the invasion would make it damaging for Britain to take part. The Foreign Secretary reportedly urged Blair to tell President George Bush that British troops would help clear up the mess and keep the peace once the war was over, but would play no part in Saddam’s overthrow."

Killing Arafat an option: deputy PM: "'We are trying to eliminate all the heads of terror, and Arafat is one of the heads of terror,' Mr Olmert, a mainstream member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet, told Israel Radio. 'Killing [him] is definitely one of the options.' The Palestinians' chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said in response: 'This is the thinking and action of the Mafia, not a government.'"

The Crusade Against 'Terrorism': Eric Margolis lands body blows against the Bush Administration and their 'war on terror:' "Like the gigantic Enron swindle, it's a huge bubble, inflated by false claims and calculated deception."

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Killing With Impunity: "It is simply deemed 'beyond the pale' to suggest that British servicemen are risking their lives, and indeed dying, so that small groups of powerful people can make money out of Iraqi oil, out of arms budgets bloated on hyped threats, and as a result of business backhanders from grateful American elites... The truth of the suggestion is irrelevant; what matters is that it contravenes the first rule of 'patriotism': If our troops are fighting and dying, then we must 'support' them in what must be declared 'a noble cause', no matter how cynical or vicious the actual cause - even if 'supporting' them in fact betrays them and allows them to continue being killed for no good reason... One result of this 'patriotic' support is that we have to convince ourselves that the US has increased spending by $87 billion in order to "bring peace and security" to Iraq in an unprecedented act of generosity by a notoriously cynical, far-right US administration packed with fossil fuel fundamentalists willing to sacrifice the very habitability of the planet to short-term profit."

Paris, Berlin react to Bush's speech Europe lays down conditions on Iraq: "The speech by President Bush also met with sharp criticism from the European daily papers. The British Independent said that there was much in Bush's speech that was objectionable and “not only the consciously misleading connection made between the September 11 attacks and Iraq.” He “lectured those countries which were opposed to the war on their duties,” but “this is hardly the right tone to convince other countries to risk the lives of their soldiers on dangerous Iraqi territory.”"

"In an even clearer manner, the newspaper Neue Westfälische Zeitung commented last week on the American proposal for a new UN resolution on Iraq. “The draft resolution that is currently being presented to the UN Security Council by US strategists to get it out of the whole mess is nothing less than an insult. The world community is being asked to take part in a so-called multinational peacekeeping force involving unpredictable risks, under conditions where it would not have the slightest influence on the aims and the implementation of the mission.”"

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Iraq's Epic Suffering Is Made Invisible: "For the past few weeks, I have been watching videotapes of the attack on Iraq, most of them not shown in this country. The tapes concentrate on the epic suffering of ordinary Iraqis. There are photographs, too, that were never published here. They show streets and hospitals running with blood, as American and British forces smashed their way into Iraq with weapons designed to incinerate and dismember human beings.

"It is difficult viewing, but necessary if one is to understand fully the words of the Nuremberg judges in 1946 when they laid down the principles of modern international law: 'To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.'"

India to refuse to send troops to Iraq: "It is clear that all that Washington wants is to use the UN's involvement in Iraq as a fig leaf to persuade other countries to send their forces so that they may clear up the mess created by the Americans. This is a trap that India must avoid. It is obvious to all impartial observers of the Iraqi scene that the US forces are regarded as invaders. What is more, they are deeply unpopular because of their failure to restore the basic civic amenities like water and electricity and ensure security for the ordinary citizens. Any country which is seen, therefore, to be supportive of the Americans will also court unpopularity and become the target of attacks."

Australia was told: war will fuel terror: "Intelligence given to Australia before the Iraq War warned that the terrorist threat would increase if military action was launched against Saddam Hussein, contradicting repeated assertions by the Prime Minister. The revelation - disclosed after a British parliamentary committee released details of a top-secret assessment by British intelligence chiefs - raises new questions about whether the public was deliberately misled in the lead-up to the conflict.

"Handed to the Blair Government on February 10, six weeks before the war started, the assessment by the high-level Joint Intelligence Committee debunked several of the key arguments used by the 'coalition of the willing' to justify going to war against Iraq. 'The JIC assessed that al-Qaeda and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq,' the British parliamentary report says.

"The JIC report, International Terrorism: War with Iraq, also said there was no evidence Saddam Hussein wanted to use any chemical or biological weapons in terrorist attacks or that he planned to pass them on to al-Qaeda. 'However, it judged that in the event of imminent regime collapse there would be a risk of transfer of such material, whether or not as a deliberate regime policy.'

"Under an intelligence-sharing arrangement, Australia receives JIC reports. Mr Howard's refused to confirm that Australian authorities had received the February 10 report, declining to answer verbal or written questions on the issue. But the former senior Office of National Assessments analyst who who quit in protest over the war, Andrew Wilkie, said the ONA 'routinely received JIC assessments and would have received that assessment'. The ONA reports directly to the Prime Minister's office. Moreover, Mr Wilkie said, its contents were consistent with the view of ONA analysts. 'Because of material like that, and ONA's own work, it was clearly understood there would be an increasing risk of terrorism if Iraq was invaded and this risk was communicated to the Government,' he said."

This is as close as we have got to the 'smoking gun' - that the war was based on knowing lies, precisely the opposite of what was officially stated. It destroys what little was left of the credibility of the Prime Minister and Government, and yet, strangely, owing to the incredible weakness of the opposition, he is not yet suffering politically.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Norman G. Finklestein (in cartoon): Memorable cartoon sums it up nicely

Finkelstein on the Wall and other matters: "The eminent Hebrew University sociologist Baruch Kimmerling has described Gaza as "the largest concentration camp ever to exist." The West Bank ranks only a mite less awful. Once the Israeli wall currently under construction is finished, the West Bank will replace Gaza with top honors. Bordered on both sides by four meter deep trenches, fortified with guard towers at regular intervals, and topped with barbed wire, this massive barricade will stretch across fully 347 kilometers - twice the size of the Berlin Wall. (One-third has already been completed.) Cutting deep into the West Bank and causing massive disruption for the Palestinians wedged between it and the "Green Line" (Israel's pre-June 1967 border), the wall will probably lead to the de facto annexation of 10% of the West Bank and the expulsion of the Palestinians living there, while also isolating as many as 300,000 Palestinians (14% of the West Bank population) living in East Jerusalem. To judge by recent Israeli pronouncements, it could eventually completely enclose Palestinians and herd them into less than half the West Bank, which Prime Minister Sharon (with U.S. blessing) will then christen a Palestinian "state.""

It seems to me the Wall is a mistake by the Israelis. Whereas various other crimes can be denied, forgotten or put in the Memory Hole, the Wall can never be overlooked. In the future when Israel wants to say "we built no wall" the reply will be "yes you did, it is right there", pointing it out with a finger. The only future for such a construction is demolition (except for a short "museum" section, just like in Berlin).

Finkelstein on Palestine: "Paradoxical as it may sound, I never feel more at ease as a Jew among non-Jews than when I am in the company of Palestinians. If they hate Jews, I just assume it's because Jews have treated them miserably. If they doubt the Nazi holocaust happened, I just assume it's because Jews have used it as a weapon to oppress them. (I leave aside that even to those steeped in the subject the Nazi holocaust seems beyond belief.) Should it really surprise when Palestinians reason that if Jews have flagrantly lied about Palestinians, maybe Jews are also lying about what they endured in World War II; that if Jews carried on in Europe the way they do in the Middle East, maybe they got what they deserved?"

Finkelstein slams the apostate Christopher Hitchens - one of the more detailed and effective attacks on this wretched fellow: "If apostasy weren't conditioned by power considerations, one would anticipate roughly equal movements in both directions. But that's never been the case. The would-be apostate almost always pulls towards power's magnetic field, rarely away."

Camp David - 25 years on: Uri Avnery reviews the Camp David agreement between the US, Israel, and Egypt. The main point of this agreement is that while Egypt and Israel made peace, the Palestinians were sacrificed, their rights and claims not even considered just as they were not invited to the summit. Avnery believes that this is a tragic missed opportunity, but it is more like the deliberate policy choice of Israel and the US.

Robert Fisk: A Grandiose Folly: "The Iraqi 'regime change', as we now know, was planned as part of a Perle-Wolfowitz campaign document to the would-be Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu years before Bush came to power. It beggars belief that Tony Blair should have signed up to this nonsense without realising that it was no more nor less than a project invented by a group of pro-Israeli American neo-conservatives and right-wing Christian fundamentalists."

Chile: voices: September 11, 1973

Paul Krugman Interview on the propaganda machine and economic 'policy': "Paul Krugman to BuzzFlash.com: 'Well, a couple of things. The first is that a good part of the media are essentially part of the machine. If you work for any Murdoch publication or network, or if you work for the Rev. Moon's empire, you're really not a journalist in the way that we used to think. You're basically just part of a propaganda machine. And that's a pretty large segment of the media.

"As for the rest, certainly being critical at the level I've been critical –- basically saying that these guys are lying, even if it's staring you in the face –- is a very unpleasant experience. You get a lot of heat from people who should be on your side, because they accuse you of being shrill, which is everybody's favorite word for me. And you become a personal target.'"

"There is no economic policy. That's really important to say. The general modus operandi of the Bushies is that they don't make policies to deal with problems. They use problems to justify things they wanted to do anyway. So there is no policy to deal with the lack of jobs. There really isn't even a policy to deal with terrorism. It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Now if you ask what do the people who keep pushing for one tax cut after another want to accomplish, the answer is they are basically aiming to create a fiscal crisis which will provide the environment in which they can basically eliminate the welfare state."

"I think that with the looming disasters of the budget on foreign policy –- and the things that really scare me, which I know we're not going to get into but let's just mention the erosion of civil liberties at home -– I think that, in retrospect, this will be seen in terms of how did the country head over this cliff. I hope I'm wrong... It's this funny thing: I lived this very comfortable life in a very placid college town, with nice people all around. And life is good. But some of us -– not just me, but a fair number of people, including my friends -- we've looked at the news, and we sort of extrapolate the lines forward. And there's this feeling of creeping dread."

China's Support for North Korea Lies in its Fear of the United States: PINR analysis argues China does not want a nuclear armed North Korea but if forced to choose would prefer that to a US-aligned united Korea.

Can Israel Maintain its Nuclear Superiority in the Middle East?: "during the 1967 Six Days War, when it is believed Israel had two nuclear bombs, the Federation of American Scientists mentions that Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ordered their two nuclear weapons to be armed in case an offensive nuclear attack became necessary. Furthermore, and most revealing as to why Israel sought nuclear weapons, in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, the Federation of American Scientists claims that the Israeli leadership assembled 13 twenty-kiloton atomic bombs for use in case Israel came close to defeat."

Report: Blair Was Told of Terror Risks in Iraq War: "Britain's intelligence chiefs warned Prime Minister Tony Blair a month before the invasion of Iraq that military action would increase the threat of terrorism and the risk of terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction, according to a parliamentary report released today."

It would be hard to count the number of authorities who have warned that the Iraq war would increase the risk of terrorism. Yet Bush, Blair and Howard have had the gall to conduct the war anyway and claim it is part of the 'war on terror.'

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Success and failure in the US war on terror: B Raman, writing from the perspective of the Indian state, acutely analysis the failures and successes of the war on terror.

Escobar: the choice is between secular dictatorship and Islamic democracy: "PARIS - 'I wonder whether there can be a future for the UN in Iraq,' asks an European diplomat. Some Iraqis recognize that the United Nations' humanitarian aid, in the shape of the oil for food program, may have saved lives during the embargo. But many hate the UN exactly because of the embargo: for them, the UN just enforces what Washington decides. The undisputable fact is that the UN supervised the harsh sanctions that, according to the United Nations Children's Fund, were directly responsible for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children and an explosion in the mortality rate. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, two senior, respected UN officials, resigned in disgust against the way in which the oil for food worked (or not) - for them, the UN had betrayed the people of Iraq... It is now impossible to overstate the anger in many parts of Iraq towards the UN."

"European intelligence reads the death of the roadmap in the Middle East as a coup deliberately orchestrated by the Israeli military, with Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Shaoul Mofaz as commanders (and following Wolfowitz's advice)."

"European diplomats are keen to point out that if there is a choice in the Middle East, it is not a choice between secular dictatorship and secular democracy - but between secular dictatorship and Islamic democracy."

"The Afghan model is a total failure. Warlords keep helping the Americans to go after the Taliban - to the tune of suitcases full of dollars. Obviously the warlords have no interest to finish off this extraordinary source of income. By using the warlords - and getting a lot of disinformation for its dollars - the Pentagon further sabotages the already flimsy authority of Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul. The Taliban, for their part, pose as the only credible alternative to warlords and gangs which terrorize residents, extort money, deal heavily in opium and heroin and run ultra-profitable smuggling routes."

"European intelligence is paying serious attention to conspiracy theories roaming the Arab and Islamic world - according to which the neo-cons have deliberately provoked this escalation of violence, especially after the Najaf bombing that killed al-Hakim. From Egyptian newspapers to Iranian clerics, a chorus of voices is accusing US intelligence and Mossad of applying the well-worn imperial tactic of "divide and rule", creating conflict among Shi'ites and between Sunnis and Shi'ites. This development is so serious that it even led to Saddam releasing another audiotape denying any involvement in the bombing."

"The current "war on terror" may last longer than the Cold War. This implies a bleak future for all of us... A solution will come only when America - and regional autocratic regimes - allow those people to decide by themselves. Obviously, this will only happen when Middle Eastern oil runs out."