Saturday, November 29, 2003

Ashrawi on the Sydney disinformation campaign: "But it backfired. It mobilized people who were either intimidated or who were not active. It also brought out people from the Jewish community who felt that this was way beyond repair. It did them a disfavour. It brought out the Palestinian and Arab-Australian community, as well as the peace-camp in Australia. I was amazed - thousands came out. Two halls were filled, as well as people outside. The negative protests were a handful, but the positive protests were in the thousands. So, as usual, they shot them themselves in the foot, and many of them admitted that they chose the wrong battle and that they should not have done it."

Hearts and Minds - US style: "'Actually, I see 'hearts and minds' as a tactical doctrine. To me, it means that's where we should aim first,' said Craig. ' Shoot them in the body or in the head, but just make sure you shoot them first.'"

Property spruiker Kaye a Ponzi scheme: "In the case of the above $400,000 unit, the fee on a $40,000 deposit bond/guarantee will be around 10 per cent, depending on the term. That gives leverage until settlement of up to 100 to 1 ($4000 gets 'ownership' of a $400,000 unit). Settlement can be up to 48 months. Some investors, on relatively low incomes, have done this five or six times, and are now awaiting settlement on $2 million worth of units bought off the plan for inflated values which they have no hope of affording. And because disclosure in property is unregulated and voluntary, there is no reliable information about the state of the market and zero governance of sales and lending practices."

Locked out: "There is also an alarming generational gap emerging. According to research done by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, home ownership in the 25-44 age group plunged 10 percentage points between 1986 and 1996... In the September quarter, housing affordability declined to a record low in the September quarter, due to rising house prices, and is now 22.5 per cent lower than it was a year ago... But the Reserve Bank, the NSW Government and most other submissions generally acknowledge the real pressure is coming from much higher demand for houses mainly by investors, who now account for over 40 per cent of all lending for housing. In NSW lending to investors is now outstripping lending for home buyers."

Friday, November 28, 2003

The Bubble of American Supremacy, by George Soros: "First, there is no single sustainable model for national success. Second, the American model, which has indeed been successful, is not available to others, because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and we are not willing to yield it."

Why I Hate Thanksgiving: "'The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.' Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and in return he would bring them 'as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask.'

"Columbus returned to the New World -- 'new' for Europeans, that is -- with 17 ships and more than 1,200 men. Their aim was clear: Slaves, and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But word spread ahead of them. By the time they got to Fort Navidad on Haiti, the Taino had risen up and killed all the sailors left behind on the last voyage, after they had roamed the island in gangs raping women and taking children and women as slaves. Columbus later wrote: 'Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.' The Indians began fighting back, but were no match for the Spaniard conquerors, even though they greatly outnumbered them. In eight years, Columbus's men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, dying as slaves in the mines, or directly murdered, or from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, over 3 million Indian people were murdered between 1494 and 1508."

How do we get out of Iraq? Part 2: "Obviously the situation is now massively more difficult than it would have been if the reconstruction had been handled correctly from the start. But the real question remains, is the US willing to hand over authority to a representative Iraqi government which is likely to be anti-American and anti-Israeli? If not, the danger parallels the problems experienced with Vietnamisation. Already there is a stream of violent attacks on Iraqis who are working with the coalition."

Clare Short offers the best analysis in what is otherwise dreary, out of touch pro-imperialist commentary in this 2-part Guardian piece.

Iraq: Skeptics Scoff as US Again Turns to UN for Legitimacy: "After coercing the United Nations to give its blessings to the military occupation and post-war reconstruction of Iraq, the United States is planning to return to the world body -- this time to legitimize the transfer of political power to Iraqis. But U.N. diplomats, U.S. political analysts and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are skeptical about U.S. plans for the proposed transition and attempts to accelerate the process."

"The rush for the creation of a new Iraqi transitional government, they say, has been motivated primarily by the continued violence against U.S. forces in Iraq. ''There can be Iraqi individuals running a government while Iraq is under U.S. occupation, but that's very different from a genuine Iraqi-run government,'' Norman Solomon, executive director of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS."

"Solomon, also co-author of 'Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You', says ''Washington is determined to manipulate the election process to select Iraqi government officials next year ... because if that plan in some way goes awry, then U.S. troops will remain as long as Washington wants them, anyway.''

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Antiwar Superman comic enrages US right: "Superman talks about it: 'This dream...things spun completely out of my grasp. [President] Luthor took the U.S. to war, despite our protests, the U.N.'s...He killed everything we stand for. And I let it happen because I couldn't make up my mind.'"

Get-rich-quick guru Kaye in receivership - property boom goes regional: "Regional areas are experiencing much faster price growth than Sydney, with annual rates of more than 30 per cent in the Illawarra and Hunter. A Residex spokesman, John Edwards, said the strength of regional property prices was being fuelled by city investors seeking low-cost properties with high rental returns."

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Support grows for Geneva Palestine plan: "Support is growing among Israelis and Palestinians for a two-state solution based on mutual recognition, an almost total Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 war, division of Jerusalem and an end to the conflict. A poll published yesterday revealed that 55.6 per cent of Palestinians and 53 per cent of Israelis backed the principles of the Geneva Accords, an unofficial peace plan drafted by the ex-Israeli minister Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, formerly a senior figure in the Palestinian Authority."

This is another in what has been a remarkable series of international polls over the last year or so. Although the plan is good and the polls are clear, the nature of modern government is such that, just as with the Iraq war, it is virtually certain to be ignored in favour of a violent, almost criminal policy.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Bremer fires 28,000 Baath party teachers: "American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired 28,000 Iraqi teachers as political punishment for their former membership in the Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on the ground, administration officials have told United Press International."

"It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the neocons to try and equate the Baath Party with the Nazis," said former CIA official Larry Johnson. "You have to make a choice: Either you are going to deal with Iraqis who are capable of rebuilding and running the country or you're going to turn Iraq over to those who can't."

"Facing a spreading insurgency, this was "not the time to turn out into the street more recruits for the anti-U.S. insurgency," Johnson said. "It's an incredible error," said former senior CIA official and Middle East expert Graham Fuller. "In Germany, after World War II, the de-nazification program was applied with almost surgical precision in order not to antagonize German public opinion. In the case of Iraq, ideologues don't seem to grasp the seriousness of their acts."

""The anti-Baath edicts, all of which are ideological nonsense, have been an outright disaster," a State Department official said. "Whatever happened to politics as the art of the possible?" "All we have done is to have alienated one of the most politically important portions of the Iraqi population," another administration official said. According to several serving and former U.S. intelligence officials, the latest firings are only one of a series of what one State Department official called "disastrous misjudgments.""

"Another major and disastrous decision was Bremer's order, on arrival, to disband without pay the Iraqi military force of 400,000 men, several of these sources said.... Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even moved to get rid of 16 of 20 State Department people because they were seen to be "Arabists" -- overly sympathetic to Iraqis, U.S. government officials said. A former Garner team member was quoted in last week's Newsweek as saying the vetting process for Iraqis "got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion" -- an article of faith in the Bush administration."

Turks blame US policy for blasts: "Several thousand Turks gathered in Istanbul and other cities yesterday to condemn this week's suicide bombings, with many protesting against what they see as the root cause of the attacks - the United States... 'Curse this terrorism, it killed my friend,' said retired businessman Ismail Yildirim. 'The imperialist powers are behind this, they are turning the Middle East into a bloodbath. They want to drag Turkey into it, but they will fail.'"

Protesters confront terrorist training camp: "School of the Americas Watch holds the demonstrations every November to mark the killings of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador on Nov. 19, 1989. Some of the killers had attended the school, which moved to Fort Benning from Panama in 1984 and is now under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation."

Why the Bush "War on Terror" is Fated to Fail: "War certainly qualifies as a 'weapon of mass destruction,' and our pre-emptive/preventative policy of violent aggression against a sovereign nation only serves to dump more fuel on the spreading ideological plague of vicious, Islamic fundamentalism now directed against non-Muslims and most of the civilized world. War only solidifies and further ignites the passions of those individuals caught in this lethal swamp of group-inspired hatred directed towards the U.S. Bush's divisive, gun-slinger, 'You're either with us or against us,' absolutism, is eerily similar to Islamic fanatics, who are intent upon terrorizing and destroying the 'infidels'-that's you and me-and anyone else who is non-Muslim."

A War That Can Never Be Won: "The shock this week is that Bush and Blair not only still believe that war is the way to deal with terrorists but that even when faced by the escalation of Istanbul they think victory is possible. The real issue is how to control risk. Anti-western extremism will never be eradicated, but it can be reduced by a combination of measures, primarily political.

"The first is an early transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and the withdrawal of foreign forces. An arrangement whereby the new Iraqi government 'requests' US troops to stay on will convince few in the Middle East. Second is firm and sustained pressure on Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians, presumably on the lines of the recent accord worked out in Geneva by Israeli and Palestinian dissidents."

Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Motive for the Invasion: Michael Doliner attempts to assess the depth of Iraqi financial, political and physical devastation and asks whether this was in fact the intended outcome.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Israeli cheque to family of peace activist shot by IDF bounces: "A spokesman for the Hurndall family said the family was astonished two days ago when they received a letter from the National Westminster Bank that the check issued by the Bank of Israel was returned after it emerged that the balance in the account did not allow payment. The problem was not technical, said National Westminster, but rather the account simply had insufficient funds.

"Family spokesman Carl Arndale said, 'It is impossible to describe the anguish felt by the family after the incident with the check, an incident that is only comparable to the behavior of the Israeli government ever since Tom was injured.' "

Terror And The Whirlwind: "In early 2003, a high-level task force of the Council on Foreign Relations warned of likely terrorist attacks far worse than September 11, including possible use of weapons of mass destruction within the US, dangers that became 'more urgent by the prospect of the US going to war with Iraq'. (Quoted, Noam Chomsky, 'Confronting The Empire', ZNet, February 1, 2003)

"This awareness created deep unease within the intelligence community. In a letter to the Guardian, Lt Cdr Martin Packard (rtd), a former Nato intelligence adviser, wrote: 'In the case of Iraq the urgency for military action appears to arise not because of a gathering Iraqi threat but because of political and economic considerations in America. Scepticism over US-UK spin on Iraq is validated by the number of senior military officers and former intelligence analysts who remain unconvinced that war at this stage is justified. Many of them believe that the threat to UK interests and to regional stability will be increased by a US-led attack on Iraq rather than diminished.' (The Guardian, Letters, February 8, 2003)

"According to Douglas Hurd, former Conservative Foreign Secretary, war on Iraq ran 'the risk of turning the Middle East into an inexhaustible recruiting ground for anti-western terrorism'. (Financial Times, January 3, 2003) Shortly before the war, Saudi Arabia's former oil minister, Sheikh Yamani, said: 'What they are going to do if they embark on this is to produce real terrorists. I think sometime in the future Osama bin Laden will look like an angel compared to the future terrorists.' (Newsnight, January 30, 2003)

"The Bush/Blair strategy, Noam Chomsky noted, 'has caused shudders not only among the usual victims, and in 'old Europe,' [but] right at the heart of the US foreign policy elite, who recognise that 'commitment of the US to active military confrontation for decisive national advantage will leave the world more dangerous and the US less secure'.' (Chomsky, op., cit) There are, Chomsky pointed out, no precedents whatever for this kind of establishment opposition. Anatol Lieven, a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, wrote that the Bush administration is pursuing 'the classic modern strategy of an endangered right-wing oligarchy, which is to divert mass discontent into nationalism,' inspired by fear of lethal threats. Lieven warned that America 'has become a menace to itself and to mankind'."

There could hardly be anything more mendacious than this 'war on terror' - and yet the opposition is silent. Bush, Blair and Howard can continue their propaganda offensive without being shouted down or thrown out of office. Opposition is 'tactical' rather than principled: it attempts to exploit softness in the polls but does nothing to address the fundamental mendacity.

Pilger: I Know When Bush Is Lying: His Lips Move: "Shortly before the disastrous Bush visit to Britain, Tony Blair was at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. It was an unusual glimpse of a state killer whose effete respectability has gone. His perfunctory nod to 'the glorious dead' came from a face bleak with guilt. As William Howard Russell of the Times wrote of another prime minister responsible for the carnage in the Crimea, 'He carries himself like one with blood on his hands.' Having shown his studied respect to the Queen, whose prerogative allowed him to commit his crime in Iraq, Blair hurried away. 'Sneak home and pray you'll never know,' wrote Siegfried Sassoon in 1917, 'The hell where youth and laughter go.'

"Blair must know his game is over. Bush's reception in Britain demonstrated that; and the CIA has now announced that the Iraqi resistance is 'broad, strong and getting stronger', with numbers estimated at 50,000. 'We could lose this situation,' says a report to the White House. The goal now is to 'plan the endgame'."

Chomsky Criticizes Iraqi War, Praises Said: "According to Chomsky, almost all intelligence agencies made two predictions before the start of the war on Iraq. The first was that the war would increase the threat of terror, and the second was that it would encourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Both have come true, he said, and the United States should not be surprised... Chomsky said the Bush Administration expected such resistance. 'The Administration was certainly aware of this, and they don't desire that outcome, but they don't care that much.' He said the goal of long-term military dominance made the Bush administration willing to take those risks... Arguments in defense of the war, Chomsky said, are built on colonialist foundations. Defenders of the war are "simply plagiarizing the worst episodes of European imperialism.""

Bleak Outlook for US in Iraq Says Blix: "'There's a hatred against the United States and you have 130,000 American troops sitting there as a big target,' said Hans Blix as he leaned forward to make his point about the future of Iraq and its military occupation. 'The borders, although guarded, are not watertight. Weapons of mass destruction may not be there but conventional weapons are and the U.S. does not have the capacity to guard it all,' Blix added. 'The outlook is bad.' ... "[WMD] was the basis upon which the war was sold and justified and today I think no one would say Iraq constituted a danger in the Spring of 2003," said the 75-year-old Swede."

Grim forecast on Iraq war challenges Bush: "American policymakers are studying an unprecedented and bleak assessment of the deteriorating military situation in Iraq which contradicts many claims made by the Bush Administration... The report, compiled by the prestigious Centre for Strategic and International Studies, is all the more devastating because of the unusual level of access given to its author, Dr Anthony Cordesman, a specialist on Iraq."

Friday, November 21, 2003

Pilger: Bush's Occupation Of Iraq: "The occupation does have parallels with Vietnam, but the closest likeness is the Soviet disaster in Afghanistan. And it really hasn't begun in earnest yet. That will happen when the Shia make their move. I understand that a Shia army is quietly forming; they have a tradition of patience, and they will wait for their moment, just as they did under the Shah in Iran. The occupation and Bush are in deep trouble."

Iraq and Vietnam, by Gabriel Kolko: "There are great cultural, political and physical differences between Vietnam and Iraq that cannot be minimised, and the geopolitical situation is entirely different. But the US has ignored many of the lessons of the traumatic Vietnam experience and is repeating many of the errors that produced defeat."

Over 100,000 March Against Bush in London: "Around 100,000 protesters marched through London and tore down a mock statue of visiting President Bush Thursday, many of them convinced his policies were to blame for anti-British bombs in Turkey."

British Consul-General killed in terror attack: 27 dead, 450 wounded in Istanbul blasts: "Truck bombs killed at least 27 people and wounded nearly 450 in attacks on the British consulate and a London-based bank on Thursday - days after a bloody terrorist strike on Istanbul synagogues. The worst terror bombings in Turkey's history coincided with US President George W. Bush's trip to Britain and were blamed on al-Qaeda."

It calls to mind the statement made in the British Parliament by Kenneth Clarke(?) MP during the war debate before the attack on Iraq: 'the next time a big bomb goes off in a major Western city, how far will this policy have contributed to that?'

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Iraq war Coalition Deaths hit 500: 422 US soldiers killed in the war (from 20 March to 20 November)

Victoria Falls, Zambezi River from space: Photo clearly illustrates zig-zag pattern of erosion.

US losing war on Iraq: "As George Bush arrived in London last night, an unprecedented and bleak assessment of the deteriorating military situation in Iraq was circulating among policymakers in Washington. The report - contradicting many claims by the US administration - is based on briefings by Paul Bremer, the US de facto governor of Iraq; military commanders, unnamed intelligence officers and David Kay, the American who leads the hunt for Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction. It says attacks on Americans by Sunni Iraqis will continue 'until the day the US leaves'."

'Hearts and minds' lost in Iraq: "Recent polls in Iraq, including a secret poll done by the U.S. State Department, ominously show that most Iraqis regard U.S. forces as occupiers rather than liberators. That unsettling fact contributed to a gloomy CIA assessment of the situation in Iraq that was endorsed by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, the administration"

Bush in London: "'The people have given us the duty to defend them and that duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men. In some cases the measured use of force is all that protects us from a chaotic world ruled by force,' [Bush] said." Is he talking about himself?

"Bush said he believed in international institutions such as the United Nations, which he bypassed to launch war on Iraq, but that the United Nations' credibility - and viability - depended on a willingness to keep its word and act. 'America and Great Britain have done, and will do, all in their power to prevent the United Nations from solemnly choosing its own irrelevance and inviting the fate of the League of Nations,' he said."

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

'Man of Peace' Sharon not home when Geneva Peace Plan comes knocking: "Former justice minister Yossi Beilin, the driving force behind the so-called Geneva Initiative on the Israeli side, tried to hand over a copy at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's residence here. But officials said they could not accept the text as the supporters had not followed proper procedures for delivering documents to the premier."

"His symbolic visit to Sharon's residence came as copies of the document were landing through mailboxes in Israel. Organisers of the initiative said that two million copies had posted at a cost of some three million shekels (around 670,000 US dollars). Arabic and even Russian versions of the document will also be made available in the coming weeks. Palestinian newspapers published the document in special 16-page supplements Sunday"

Chalmers Johnson: Hawks come home to roost [ 04nov03 ]: "On Sunday, Iraqi guerrillas downed a US military transport helicopter near Baghdad airport, killing 16 and wounding 20. Thus began the post-Tet phase of the current re-enactment of the Vietnam War. US leaders immediately echoed the old Lyndon Johnson refrains - there will be 'tragic' days ahead, we are being 'tested' in Iraq by foreign infiltrators, we must 'stay the course,' we dare not 'cut and run'. This is nonsense. The US will be leaving Iraq in disgrace sooner or later. The Iraqis are behaving just like the Vietnamese - and as any patriot (American, Australian, or Chinese) would - if invaded by self-righteous, hypocritical imperialists bent on stealing their resources. Why the British and Australians joined the Americans in this fiasco when they could so easily have stood for something other than 'might makes right' remains a mystery."

"Two years after September 11, America is unquestionably in greater danger of serious terrorist threats than it has ever been before. The Afghan and Iraq wars resulted in easy US "victories", but both soon re-erupted as guerilla struggles of attrition. Experience has shown that hi-tech armed forces are inappropriate, overly blunt instruments against terrorists and guerillas. What was called for was international police co-operation to hunt down the September 11 terrorists and changes in US foreign policy to separate militant activists from their passive supporters, whose grievances need to be addressed."

Uri Avnery: IDF Chief of Staff realises policy has failed: "Hit the Arabs on the head and they will give in. If that isn't enough, hit them harder. Make the life of every single Palestinian unbearable, prevent him from leaving his village or town, destroy the livelihood of his family, take his land away.

"This was an almost mathematical formula: when one blow follows the other, the lives of the Palestinians will reach breaking point. They will not be able to resist. They will raise their hands, lower their heads and accept everything the government of Israel is good enough to offer them. They will turn over their fighters ('terrorists' in the parlance of the occupation, 'national heroes' in the parlance of the occupied.) They will live in the enclaves Israel allows them, or look for a better life in another country.

"Now, suddenly, the C-o-S distances himself from this strategy. He tells the public that the government's policy--whose staunchest supporter he has been--is 'destructive'. Instead of liquidating terrorism, he says, it produces terrorism. The lives of the Palestinians must be eased, they must be given hope. So what has happened?"

American Gulag: "No American president should have the absolute power to imprison people at will, even when the nation is at war. That's the unfettered power President George W. Bush has claimed for himself in the war on terrorism... Kings and dictators wield unlimited power over the liberty of others. Not American presidents. They are constrained by the Constitution, the rule of law and, in the case of foreigners captured during hostilities, the Geneva Convention, endorsed by 191 nations including the United States."

"At stake is the bedrock Western legal principal of habeas corpus, a fundamental guarantor of individual liberty. It gives anyone imprisoned by the government the right to challenge the lawfulness of their incarceration. By getting word to a judge who can order the jailer to 'bring me the body,' (as habeas corpus means in Latin) officials are made to prove that the detention is legal. That check on presidential power is a critical bulwark against government tyranny."

What Iraq Will Get Isn't Self-Rule: "The decision to hasten self-rule has little to do with installing real democracy. That's the patina the president needs to cover the panic suddenly gripping the White House. The insurgency in Iraq is growing in intensity and expanding in geography. It will get much worse, according to a bleak assessment just offered by the Central Intelligence Agency. 'More than the terrorism of Baathist 'remnants' and 'bitter-enders,' or even 'the 200 or so foreign terrorists' that the administration has been harping about dismissively amid its happy talk of progress in Iraq, the CIA says a full-scale insurgency is underway, with a majority of Iraqis opposing the occupation."

"Rather than lurching from crisis to crisis, as he has for six months, Bush needs an exit strategy, fast. We are seeing the outlines of one: Cut and run, albeit over an extended period... There will be a partial devolution of political power, in a bid to persuade Iraqis that they are ruled not by a foreign power but by their own leaders. Both stratagems constitute major reversals of policy. Post-war, America couldn't disband the Iraqi army fast enough. Now, chief U.S. administrator Paul Bremer can't reconstitute it quickly enough for the White House... Notwithstanding Bush's lectures on democracy, only the naïve would continue to believe that America wants anything other than a satellite state."

Too late: No help from Europe for US in Iraq: "'This very basic change in American strategy can be summed up in two words: Too late,' said Francois Heisbourg, 'Had this happened in July, you would have had 50,000 to 60,000 European troops in Iraq,' Heisbourg said. 'But there's no way a French, or a German, or a Russian politician can explain to his people why they would risk being associated with the mess created by the Americans -- just so the Americans can be home before the next presidential elections.' ... in an interview published today in the French daily Le Croix, [French Foreign Minister] de Villepin scorned as 'too late' the Bush administration's plan to cede sovereignty to an Iraqi provisional government by June. Calling for a transfer of power within the next six weeks, de Villepin said: 'We are in an extremely urgent situation.'"

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Software Wars: Complicated manoeuvres as rebels uniting under the banner of Free Software attempt to defeat the Evil Empire. The final outcome has implications not just for the IT industry but for the very concept of intellectual property and the whole corporate economy.

Cautious Optimism For The Anti-Occupation (Not Win The Occupation) Movement: "Another cause for optimism about the current anti-war movement is the definitive inclusion of the issue of Palestine. The strenuous efforts by some to divorce the issue of U.S. support for the Israeli occupation from its more general drive for hegemony in the Middle East were roundly defeated in anti-war coalitions worldwide. Gone are the days of the vulgar single-issue line, where the very real concern about having a clear focus for action was conflated with a policy that bordered on censorship of related issues and causes.

"To understand the more modest numbers we are mobilizing today, however, we have to be honest: some forces that were 'anti-war' before the war started aren't anti-war or anti-occupation today, despite the mountain of criticism they continue to shovel on the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Their criticism is in the realm of tactical advice on how to safeguard U.S. interests in the world; it is criticism, however sharp, of a friend who has gone awry. To make this assertion concrete, let's examine the case of Scott Ritter."

Shin Bet chiefs: end the occupation: "Perry said the only way forward is for Israel to take unilateral steps, such as withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. Doing so, he said, could help draw the Palestinians to peace talks... The four said that Israel needs to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip even if it entails an inevitable clash with the settlers. Ayalon said that he expects that only 10 percent of the more than 220,000 settlers would resist an evacuation of settlements. "We have to be capable of facing such a number," he said."

It is remarkable how the militaristic and virtually fascist views of a Sharon can so easily dominate a nation but the factual, reasonable and sound views of a Chomsky or Avnery are marginalised, with virtually no representation in either the official opposition or in fact from any members of parliament whatever. It is an immense failure of democracy. One might conclude that authoritarianism, militarism, racism and fascism are the default positions, even in what are nominally termed 'democracies': the easy, natural, popular and successful positions; while peace, justice and true democracy are incredibly difficult, virtually unsighted. If Israel ever withdraws from the occupied territories it may only be because the occupation is a manifest military failure, not because anyone was convinced by arguments of fact, truth, reason and justice that occupation is not in anybody's interest.

Can Watching Oprah Be Hazardous to Women's Political Health?: "Reliable poll after reliable poll reveals the electorate's views more closely parallel the Democrats'. But, Republicans wedge that consensus by playing to a few emotional grenade issues, including abortion, gay rights, and who 'loves Jesus more.' Arnold couldn't play those tunes. So, the GOP found another way. Not surprisingly, Arnold took a page from the Reagan gubernatorial playbook and the movie, Network's, 'mad as hell' mantra. Another unoriginal touch was his appropriation of the 'No-car-tax,' one-liner from budget-destroying former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore. Moreover, by airing Arnold unchallenged, Oprah blurred all the stark differences between the two parties' agendas and exploited Californians' focus on general outrage. The real roots of California's fiscal problems are mostly the handiwork of the GOP (e.g., the contrived energy crisis, unjustified federal tax cuts, Proposition 13, and the stallout in the legislature due to 2/3 rule for California. budget items)."

Israel on Road to Ruin, Warn Former Shin Bet Chiefs: "Four former directors of Israel's Shin Bet security service have given unprecedented warnings that the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is leading the country to catastrophe by failing to pursue peace with the Palestinians. The criticisms, which follow a warning by the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Ya'alon, a fortnight ago that the government's harsh treatment of Palestinian civilians was 'strengthening terrorist organizations', provide further evidence that confidence in Mr Sharon is crumbling in the security establishment."

"The former intelligence chiefs said Mr Sharon's insistence on a complete halt to "terrorist attacks" before peace talks could begin in earnest was either misguided or a ploy to avoid negotiations and continue the policies of Israeli expansionism... The former intelligence chiefs agreed on a need to take swift steps towards ending the occupation by dismantling some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. "We need to take the situation into our own hands and leave Gaza with all the difficulty that that entails, and to dismantle illegal settlements," said Mr Perry. "We must once and for all admit there is another side, that it has feelings, that it is suffering and that we are behaving disgracefully ... this entire behavior is the result of the occupation," he said."

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Krugman interview: yearning for the days of Nixon and Reagan: "Nixon seemed to be at least sincerely interested in governing. He was actually trying to run the country. He didn't think anybody else should have a chance to run it, but he actually tried to solve problems. The old hands of the Environmental Protection Administration will tell you that the Nixon years were a golden age. These people now... they're ruthless, they're dishonest, and they haven't actually tried to deal with any of our real problems."

Seymour Hersh: Iraq a 'massive failure': "During the Q&A session, Hersh also spoke against the notion that without the US presence, there will be wild chaos in Iraq. 'But there is wild chaos now,' he said. 'What I would really like to see is peacekeeping forces, not American forces, who speak the language,' Hersh said. "

Friday, November 14, 2003

Microsoft Loses to Linux in Thailand Struggle: "In the second quarter of 2003, just 40 percent of all desktop PCs shipped in Thailand had a licensed copy of Windows installed, an all-time low that likely will dip even further. Moreover, PC manufacturer Laser Computer has replaced HP as Thailand's top PC seller. Laser Computer sells only Linux PCs."

Jethro Tull banned from US classic rock station: "Jethro Tull is off the playlist of a US classic rock station after the British band's frontman criticised displays of the American flag. 'I hate to see the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV, every little Midwestern house in some residential area,' Ian Anderson was quoted as saying in an interview published on Sunday in the Asbury Park Press. 'It's easy to confuse patriotism with nationalism. Flag waving ain't gonna do it.'

"The verdict from listeners of WCHR-FM's 'The Free Beer & Hot Wings Morning Show' was swift. 'The reaction of our audience has been 99 per cent in favour of the ban and 99 per cent incredulous that he would say such stupid things,' said Phil LoCascio, WCHR program director and on-air personality. 'He is a smart guy. As far as we're concerned, this ban is forever.'"

CIA Iraq report: 'We could lose this situation': "The report, an 'appraisal of situation' commissioned by the CIA director, George Tenet, and written by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, said that the insurgency was gaining ground among the population, and already numbers in the tens of thousands. One military intelligence assessment now estimates the insurgents' strength at 50,000. Analysts cautioned that such a figure was speculative, but it does indicate a deep-rooted revolt on a far greater scale than the Pentagon had led the administration to believe.

"An intelligence source in Washington familiar with the CIA report described it as a 'bleak assessment that the resistance is broad, strong and getting stronger'. 'It says we are going to lose the situation unless there is a rapid and dramatic change of course,' the source said. 'There are thousands in the resistance - not just a core of Ba'athists. They are in the thousands, and growing every day. Not all those people are actually firing, but providing support, shelter and all that.'"

Gore Vidal interview: US Despotizm: "Gore, you have lived through a number of inglorious administrations in your lifetime, from Truman’s founding of the national-security state, to LBJ’s debacle in Vietnam, to Nixon and Watergate, and yet here you are to tell the tale. So when it comes to this Bush administration, are you really talking about despots per se? Or is this really just one more rather corrupt and foolish Republican administration?

"No. We are talking about despotism. I have read not only the first PATRIOT Act but also the second one, which has not yet been totally made public nor approved by Congress and to which there is already great resistance. An American citizen can be fingered as a terrorist, and with what proof? No proof. All you need is the word of the attorney general or maybe the president himself. You can then be locked up without access to a lawyer, and then tried by military tribunal and even executed. Or, in a brand-new wrinkle, you can be exiled, stripped of your citizenship and packed off to another place not even organized as a country — like Tierra del Fuego or some rock in the Pacific. All of this is in the USA PATRIOT Act. The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades."

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Riyadh's War on Terror Bites Back: "The enemies of the House of Saud [bin Laden] want to make the kingdom ungovernable, just as the United States' enemies in Iraq want to make U.S. occupation ineffective... by a weird coincidence, bin Laden's principal aim to destroy the royal family is shared by the American right wing... There are those in the House of Saud who take a particularly fearful view of U.S. policy. In the past, they say, Americans could sit in Saudi Arabia and seize the Iraqi oil fields whenever they chose to cross the border. Now they are in Iraq, they can -- in the event of a revolution -- just drive in the other direction and seize the oil fields in northern Saudi Arabia, leaving Riyadh and other cities to whichever Arabian ruler takes control."

U.S. Occupation of Iraq Entering Critical Phase: "The policy of "Iraqification" involves training Iraqi military and security forces in order to have them replace U.S. forces; the intent is that Iraqis will eventually fight Iraqis for the interests of the U.S. government. Yet there is no reason to believe that this policy will be any more successful than it was in Vietnam."

"The continued inability to pacify Iraq will lead to a failure of U.S. objectives in the country and in the region as a whole. One of the main U.S. objectives in Iraq is to create a viable Iraqi government that has the support of the Iraqi people but that will also be congruent with U.S. interests in the Middle East. It is not clear if this objective is still possible. Noah Feldman, a New York University law professor who served as a consultant to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, warned London's Daily Telegraph that 'any democratically elected Iraqi government is unlikely to be secular, unlikely to be pro-Israel, and frankly, moderately unlikely to be pro-American.'

"Feldman's statement points to one of the most fundamental dilemmas the Bush administration faces: that a democratic Iraq may be an Iraq unfriendly to America. Furthermore, it highlights the difficulty that Washington is discovering in finding an Iraqi government that supports U.S. interests while also garnering the support of the Iraqi people -- a situation that Washington never managed to accomplish in Vietnam."

This analysis is accurate enough, but it takes at face value Washington's assertion that it seeks to establish 'democracy' in Iraq. One needs to look at the record rather than simply believing Administration rhetoric. US interests dictate an Iraqi client state or puppet regime, a dependent tyranny (called a 'democracy' by the US Administration and media). But the decision to abolish the Baath party and the Iraqi Army has left the US without an indigenous security apparatus to suppress the population and control the country. Hence ultimate failure may be inevitable from that moment on. This PINR report does not mention the decision to sack the army, but that has already been pointed out by others as the US' biggest mistake.

Charity: Iraq War Killed 21,000-55,000 Iraqi Civilians, by Jim Lobe: "Between 21,000 and 55,000 people have died as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, according to a new report that also warned of rapidly deteriorating health conditions for those who survived."

14 Italian Deaths Prompt Pull-Out Demands: "'The Italian servicemen must come back home. It is the only right thing to do now,' said Pietro Folena from the Democrats of the Left. 'Italy should realign itself with France and Germany, withdraw its troops and start a debate with the USA and UK for them to stop their occupation. 'They should give full power and full mandate to the UN to deal with the difficult situation in that country,' he added."

"In the face of this huge tragedy, I will ask only one question: in whose name have they been sent to death?" [the Communist Party leader] said. "Had [the government] listened to us, our troops would not have been sent to die." Green leader Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said troops should be pulled out of Iraq. "It is immoral to put the lives of thousands of young Italians at risk for Bush's pre-emptive war," he said. "We hope that everybody will agree that we need to pull out our troops immediately.""

So speaks the Italian opposition after the killing of at least 14 Italian caribinieri and soldiers in Iraq. Would the Australian opposition be able to make a similar statement regarding Australia's 900-strong deployment?

Aust Defence Force presence in Iraq: Bring them All Home Now: "The Australian Defence Force has about 800 members in Iraq, including:

* An Australian Joint Task Force HQ.
* A naval component of about 270, including HMAS Newcastle and a Logistic Support Element.
* An RAAF C-130 Hercules detachment of about 140, with two transport aircraft.
* An RAAF AP-3C Orion detachment of about 160 with two aircraft, conducting maritime patrol operations.
* An air traffic control detachment at Baghdad International Airport and combined air operations staff totalling about 80.
* A security detachment of about 70 to protect and escort Australian government personnel.
* Up to 16 analysts and technical experts to support Iraq Survey Group hunting weapons of mass destruction.
* An Australian contribution to coalition headquarters and units of about 90 members.
* Six members to provide training and policy support for the Iraqi Defence Force."

At least 14 Italians among 22 dead in Iraq suicide bombing: "An explosion rocked the headquarters of Italian police in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, killing at least 14 Italians, police said in Rome. The blast also killed eight Iraqis and wounded at least 14... Italy has sent about 2300 troops to help the reconstruction in Iraq... Until yesterday, there had been no combat-related fatalities among Italian troops serving in the multinational force."

There are an estimated 800-900 Australian troops in Iraq. Apparently most of them are in the Baghdad airport area, and thus relatively safe, but it may just be a matter of time before one of them is killed. They should be brought home immediately, Australia unilaterally withdrawing from any involvement whatever in the disastrous war and occupation, except that reparations are owed to the Iraqi people.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Another dull and boring blog: god, how dull can you get?: The following entry was deemed by its creator to be worthy of a permalink and attracted no less than 30 comment:

"Adjusting my spectacles November 7 I became aware that my spectacles were not sitting quite correctly on my nose. Using my hand I moved them slightly, thereby making them feel more comfortable. This adjustment completed I continued with my activities."

Why was Hanson jailed and then acquitted?: Barrister Jeremy Smith argues it was basically a legal cock-up. She wasn't properly represented and the appeals court made short work of the case for conviction. "An unfortunate cock up, but remedied in 11 weeks which is not a bad turn around compared to those who spend 18 months on remand before being acquitted... The justice system is totally dependant on competent representation, and in big cases it demands specialists... Where a person will go to jail trials must be properly resourced on both sides. The High Court has ruled that an unrepresented accused in a criminal matter cannot be tried without access to representation – the matter has been on the agenda for years. Every day lawyers battle to get legal aid for their clients, and when it is granted the sums are paltry and many senior barristers won’t accept the work. So what’s the answer? Put more resources into the system, and make sure that the appeal courts are accessible and the very best are appointed to them. Many is the injustice that has been remedied on appeal."

Why aren't barristers, who are supposed to be servants of the court, on the public payroll? Rewards for skill and excellence would be not so much in terms of immense payments as in seniority in handling important cases. No private person should be permitted to address a court except as a witness, defendent or plaintiff. Publicly funded lawyering would probably be cheaper and fairer all round than the current privatized system, in a manner analagous to the public/private health care debate.

On another matter, "Scott Burchill deconstructed Howard’s latest empty platitudes: "Australians are not by nature a war-like people (only country to have fought in Boer War, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam). There is no tradition of conquest (occupation of Vietnam, Iraq) or imperial ambition (Australian Imperial Forces). We've had no history of bloody civil war (genocidal-scale destruction of original inhabitants and their culture), of winning our independence through armed insurrection (Eureka stockade) or fortifying our borders against some constant military threat (Tampa, boat people, excising islands)."

Dreamers and Idiots: Britain and the US Did Everything to Avoid a Peaceful Solution in Iraq and Afghanistan: "Even if all the claims Bush and Blair made about their enemies and their motives had been true, and all their objectives had been legal and just, there may still have been no need to go to war. For, as we discovered last week, Saddam proposed to give Bush and Blair almost everything they wanted before a shot had been fired. Our governments appear both to have withheld this information from the public and to have lied to us about the possibilities for diplomacy."

"Over the four months before the coalition forces invaded Iraq, Saddam's government made a series of increasingly desperate offers to the United States. In December, the Iraqi intelligence services approached Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-terrorism, with an offer to prove that Iraq was not linked to the September 11 attacks, and to permit several thousand US troops to enter the country to look for weapons of mass destruction. If the object was regime change, then Saddam, the agents claimed, was prepared to submit himself to internationally monitored elections within two years. According to Mr Cannistraro, these proposals reached the White House, but were "turned down by the president and vice-president".

"By February, Saddam's negotiators were offering almost everything the US government could wish for: free access to the FBI to look for weapons of mass destruction wherever it wanted, support for the US position on Israel and Palestine, even rights over Iraq's oil. Among the people they contacted was Richard Perle, the security adviser who for years had been urging a war with Iraq. He passed their offers to the CIA. Last week he told the New York Times that the CIA had replied: "Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad".

"Saddam Hussein, in other words, appears to have done everything possible to find a diplomatic alternative to the impending war, and the US government appears to have done everything necessary to prevent one. This is the opposite to what we were told by George Bush and Tony Blair. On March 6, 13 days before the war began, Bush said to journalists: "I want to remind you that it's his choice to make as to whether or not we go to war. It's Saddam's choice. He's the person that can make the choice of war and peace. Thus far, he's made the wrong choice."

"Ten days later, Blair told a press conference: "We have provided the right diplomatic way through this, which is to lay down a clear ultimatum to Saddam: cooperate or face disarmament by force... all the way through we have tried to provide a diplomatic solution." On March 17, Bush claimed that "should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war". All these statements are false."

What a bare-faced liar this Blair character is, unless these diplomatic initiatives were kept concealed from the tool by the US. Was John Howard informed of these initiatives? If not, why not?

"The same thing happened before the war with Afghanistan. On September 20 2001, the Taliban offered to hand Osama bin Laden to a neutral Islamic country for trial if the US presented them with evidence that he was responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington. The US rejected the offer. On October 1, six days before the bombing began, they repeated it, and their representative in Pakistan told reporters: "We are ready for negotiations. It is up to the other side to agree or not. Only negotiation will solve our problems." Bush was asked about this offer at a press conference the following day. He replied: "There's no negotiations. There's no calendar. We'll act on [sic] our time."

Geneva: An Accord No One is Hearing: "The world’s silence in the face of these accords, while people continue to die and have their lives destroyed, is unacceptable. But we can take hope in the accords’ reminder that Sharon and Hamas are not the sum total of Israel and Palestine. There remain those who continue to work for peace, and — if the rest of the world is willing to embrace their efforts — a sea change in the Middle East remains possible."

Jewish Voice for Peace: more dumping on Barak: "Ever since the failure of the talks at Camp David in 2000, Barak has been on a campaign to convince the world that the failure of those talks was entirely the fault of Yasir Arafat. Barak’s claim that he presented a “generous offer” to the Palestinians that was refused plays into the worst fears of American and Israeli Jews: that the Palestinians are not interested in peace, but only in destroying the Jewish people.

"Many American and Israeli officials who were present during the Camp David summit have worked long and hard to debunk this version of events yet Barak’ s version still holds sway. But many are coming to see Barak as a politician who plays on the worst fears of his constituency simply to present his own failures in a more favorable light... Instead of working to ensure that Israeli children will grow up able to live a normal and fulfilling life in a peaceful Israel, Ehud Barak has been touring the world working to save his reputation."

Oral history: Studs Terkel on Hope and Activism: "There's a Swahili warrior song that I like: 'Life has meaning only in the struggle / Triumph and defeats are up to the gods / So let us celebrate the struggle.' ... Thirty-something years ago, when I was first here as a young farmworker, I heard a labor song, and it talked about how freedom is a hard-won thing, and it said that every generation has to win it again... "

Sentiments such as these remind me of a phrase used by early Australian georgists, 'you have to keep up the fight against injustice even though there's no hope of winning'.

Turkey out of Iraq, Part 2: more serious bungling by the US Administration?: "The United States managed to pressure and cajole Turkey into agreeing to send troops to Iraq on Oct. 7, when the Turkish parliament approved a 1-year deployment. The decision, which cost America about $8.5 billion in loans and the Turkish government considerable political capital, was watched with alarm in Iraq. The Iraqi Governing Council's collective and firm stance against Turkish troops has stopped a deployment. On Nov. 5, the president of the council, Osman Faruk Logoglu, said: 'The question of sending Turkish troops is closed.'

"Still, America's gyrations are worrisome. The original plan of sending Turkish troops reflects poor U.S. strategizing. And though Iraqi opposition was a foregone conclusion, America apparently offered Turkey handsome incentives to approve the sending of troops. The plan was so advanced it appeared the United States was going to shrug off Iraqi concerns. But the Bush administration recently did an about-face and said there would be no Turkish deployment without Iraqi approval – a move which bitterly embarrassed Ankara."

Supreme Court challenge to US detention: "The US Supreme Court has intervened in the cases of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, the two Australians being held at Guantanamo Bay, and will hear an appeal that challenges the US president's powers to indefinitely detain foreign terrorist suspects without any legal rights.

"A decision in the case is expected next June and will affect all 660 suspects being held without charges at Guantanamo Bay. Many have been held for up to two years, with no access to lawyers or the right to family visits. They are often in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day. The Supreme Court will decide only the narrow question of whether the detainees have the right to bring their cases to a US court, which could then examine the legality of their detention."

"The decision by the Supreme Court took Australian authorities by surprise [no surprise there, the Howard Govt has apparently done nothing to protest this outrage].... Lawyers on behalf of the British and Australian detainees joined with counsel for 12 Kuwaitis to mount the Supreme Court challenge against the Bush Administration. The lawyers had failed in their attempts to bring petitions for habeas corpus, or unlawful detention, in the federal courts.

"The appeal to the US Supreme Court was bolstered by seven groups who submitted briefs in the case as friends of the court. These included former US prisoners of war from Vietnam and Japan who argued that the Guantanamo Bay detentions undermined the Geneva Convention and could put captured US servicemen in jeopardy."

PM's rates ace is a house of cards: "And while it remains true that mortgage interest rates are still well below what they were in 1996 - let alone 1989 - it's also true that in that time, the price of houses has doubled and the size of the average new loan has almost doubled. (Since 1989, the average size of a new loan has almost trebled.)

"Several surprising facts flow from this. One is that the burden of household interest payments is almost as heavy today as it was in 1989, when the mortgage rate was 17 per cent. Back then, household interest payments accounted for a record 8.9 per cent of household disposable income. They fell to a low of 5.7 per cent in late 1993, but by June quarter this year - that is, before last week's rate rise - they had risen to 7.9 per cent.

"And this means that, despite all the Government's boasting, the interest payments burden is already heavier than it was when Labor was kicked out in March 1996 - 7.6 per cent. (You will hear claims from Labor that the mortgage interest payments burden is already a lot higher than it was in 1989 - 6.4 per cent of disposable income now, compared with 5.1 per cent then. These figures focus on mortgage interest payments, ignoring other interest payments on credit cards and personal loans. But this makes them misleading because, whereas in the old days people borrowed separately for a new car or overseas holiday, these days they tend to just add it to their home loan.)"

The penny drops for another one... but is it all too late? Soros pledges $US15.5 million to oust Bush: "'America, under Bush, is a danger to the world,' he said. Then he smiled: 'And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.' Mr Soros says a 'supremacist ideology' guides the White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary: 'When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans.' It conjured up memories of the Nazi slogan, 'Der Feind hoert mit' (The enemy is listening): 'My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me,' he said."

"Lately he has grown alarmed at the influence of neoconservatives, whom he calls "a bunch of extremists guided by a crude form of Social Darwinism". The neoconservatives, he said, were exploiting the September 11 terrorist attacks to promote a pre-existing agenda of pre-emptive war and world dominion. "Bush feels that on September 11, he was anointed by God," Mr Soros said. "Rather than defeating terrorism, he's leading the US and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence." Mr Soros said he had been waking at 3 am, his thoughts shaking him "like an alarm clock". He wrote down his ideas. In January, they will be published as a book, The Bubble of American Supremacy, which argues for a collective approach to security, more foreign aid and constructive rather than military action abroad."

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

James Brooks: Israel's New War Machine Opens the Abyss: "Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories passed through a profound transformation during the last several months. Through a series of policy changes and military orders, the West Bank 'security fence' has gradually revealed itself to be the backbone of a comprehensive new system of land theft, imprisonment, collective punishment...and worse. The question is not whether it is a 'political fence' or a 'security fence', but whether it is an engine of ethnic cleansing."

Neocons lost the plot: "With Iraqi resistance forces downing a second American military helicopter in a week, veteran Iranian and Arab political analysts are warning of 'a debacle' awaiting the coalition forces, putting the blame squarely on the decision to dissolve the Iraqi army overnight, and a lack of adequate intelligence. 'One of the biggest mistakes of the coalition forces was to dissolve the army and the security forces,' Peyman Pejman of the Inter Press Service quoted Brigadier-General Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani as saying in Baghdad."

""The decision to dismantle the 400,000 to half a million strong army and, as a result, send over 2 million people - based on one Iraqi family consisting of six mouths at the minimum - most of them angry, humiliated young men, was a great miscalculation and we shall see its disastrous consequences in the near future," one expert said."

Back in the time of Bush 1, not only was there an appreciation of the substantial risks and dangers of an occupation of Iraq, there was a realisation that the best outcome for the US would be 'an iron fisted junta without Saddam.' The neocons, in sacking the Iraqi army, seem to be demonstrating they are nothing but incompetent imperialists, where ideology substitutes for sound strategic assessments.

Desperate Baghdad tried to avoid war: "Four recent articles, in the New York Times, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Guardian, and by ABC News, while containing some slightly contradictory information, inform us that the Bush administration was so hell-bent on attacking Iraq (for reasons bearing no relation to the stated casus belli) that it not only mislead the American people, but resisted the abjectly humiliating efforts of Iraqi authorities to comply with almost all stated U.S. demands. The only demands Baghdad did not and could not concede to were those for 'regime change' (which international law does not recognize as a grounds for war) and for the surrender of the Iraqi military to American forces even without a fight."

This is reminiscent of the situation in January 1991, when Saddam effectively capitulated to the demand to evacuate Kuwait in order to avert the US attack. The problem was, of course, then as now, that the US had predetermined to launch the war, and thus this diplomacy could only be an embarrassment if it received publicity, which it didnt, at least not until well after the war when it is of interest only to historians. The difference between 2003 and 1991 is that the aggression is far more blatant and the pretexts far thinner. Bush even made it clear earlier this year that the attack on Iraq would go ahead even if Saddam went into exile.

Michael Hudson estimates US land-rent: "In Hudson's judgment, based on the most exhaustive analysis of the federal government's national income records, 'land-rent of real estate alone represents a quarter of national income, even without taking into account the returns assignable to land and natural resources from other land-based industries.'"

"Many real estate investors do operate on the margin of solvency. They do so out of choice, however, in the pursuit of "making a killing" out of capital gains. They mortgage their properties to the hilt by using other peoples' money rather than their own. To the extent that the low net earnings of real estate in the national income statistics makes sense, then, it is by showing the degree to which real estate investors have been willing to turn over most of rental income to mortgage creditors as "interest." The strategy is to ride the wave of increasing land values and to "cash out" by selling their properties for more than they paid.

"The tax laws tempt real estate holders to use as little of their own money as possible -- that is, to borrow as much as they can -- by allowing them to deduct interest charges as an operating expense. Homeowners also enjoy this privilege. The effect has been to buoy up prices, by enabling buyers to carry a larger mortgage after taking into account the tax savings. Creditors provide an expanding pyramid or mortgage credit to bid up real estate prices."

"Reflecting the symbiosis that has developed between the real estate sector and the financial and insurance sectors since World War II, most rental income now ends up neither in the hands of developers nor those of the tax authorities. Rather, it takes the form of interest paid to banks, S&Ls, insurance companies, real estate trusts (REITs) and money market funds."

Rendition Archipelago: the US torture system: "When Ottawa computer expert Maher Arar arrived back in Canada this week after a year of captivity, his account of torture in Syria and Jordan shocked many. "There have been a series of these renditions [deportation of detainees to foreign countries for torture], mainly to countries in the Middle East," says Tom Malinowski, director of Human Rights Watch's office in Washington. "We don't really know how many people have been sent there, because it's kept highly secret."

"Both the United States and Canada are also bound by the International Convention Against Torture, which rules out surrendering citizens to countries that brutally violate human rights. However, intelligence agents, including former CIA operative and author Robert Baer, have admitted in media interviews that turning over suspected terrorists to countries noted for their violent interrogation methods is now common practice... "We are doing a number of (renditions) and they have been very productive," says a Washington Post report this week, quoting a "senior U.S. intelligence official." ... The most frequently used offshore torture depots are Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Morocco, human rights groups say."

To these locations the following must also be added to the 'Rendition Archipelego': Guantanomo Bay, Bagram airbase (Afghanistan), Baghdad airport, and probably many others.

We're not warlike, and that's why we'll keep fighting: "In a speech due to be delivered early this morning, Mr Howard said Australians were not a warlike people but accepted their responsibility to fight to defend democratic principles and the concept of personal freedom around the world."

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Australia's peacekeeping efforts in East Timor were the most clear contemporary demonstrations of that national ethos, he said." Mr Howard said wars of the type his audience knew had been replaced by the new and brutal challenge of terrorism.

"The coming years will present every society with challenges that none of us could have contemplated even three years ago," Mr Howard said. "Australia will play its part. We will continue to determine our own future in our own independent way."

The action in East Timor had the approval of the United Nations and Indonesia, and could not have gone ahead without that approval; there was no link between Saddam and terrorism; and the participation of Australia in the war on Iraq was essentially decided by neoconservatives in Washington, not in Australia.

New rate rises ahead as debt binge rolls on: "The bank's concern about the imbalances in the economy being caused by ballooning debt - fuelled by runaway house prices - was underscored by figures yesterday showing the number of new home loans rose 4 per cent in September to a record. Housing finance was up 19.1 per cent in the year."

"Despite the growth in new lending, the proportion of first home buyers seeking finance fell to a record low of 13.3 per cent, reflecting the continuing surge in house prices. The figures show that the average home loan in NSW, after refinancing of existing loans is excluded, hit $241,100 last month. Including refinancing, it hit a record $231,900 - up 15 per cent in the year."

These figures suggest there is a strong investor or speculative component in the housing boom.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Chomsky on Dershowitz: "Turning to Dershowitz, there's partly the same story. Again, he knows that he can't respond to what I say. He doesn't have the knowledge or the competence to deal with the issues. Therefore, the idea is to try to shut it up by throwing as much slime as you can. There's a famous story attributed to Sam Ervin, a conservative Senator, who once said that as a young lawyer he had learned that if the law is against you, concentrate on the facts. If the facts are against you, concentrate on the law. And if both the facts and the law are against you, denounce your opposing counsel. Dershowitz is not very bright, but he understands that much. If you can't answer on the facts and if you can't answer on the principles, you better throw dirt. In his case there happens to also be a personal reason. He's been on a personal jihad for the last twenty years, ever since I exposed him for lying outright in a vicious personal attack on a leading Israeli civil libertarian."

Chomsky on Norman Finkelstein: "Well, he [Finkelstein] got back one answer, from me. I told him, yeah, I think it's an interesting topic, but I warned him, if you follow this, you're going to get in trouble—because you're going to expose the American intellectual community as a gang of frauds, and they are not going to like it, and they're going to destroy you. So I said: if you want to do it, go ahead, but be aware of what you're getting into. It's an important issue, it makes a big difference whether you eliminate the moral basis for driving out a population—it's preparing the basis for some real horrors—so a lot of people's lives could be at stake. But your life is at stake too, I told him, because if you pursue this, your career is going to be ruined.

"Well, he didn't believe me. We became very close friends after this, I didn't know him before. He went ahead and wrote up an article, and he started submitting it to journals. Nothing: they didn't even bother responding. I finally managed to place a piece of it in In These Times, a tiny left-wing journal published in Illinois, where some of you may have seen it. Otherwise nothing, no response. Meanwhile his professors—this is Princeton University, supposed to be a serious place—stopped talking to him: they wouldn't make appointments with him, they wouldn't read his papers, he basically had to quit the program."

Case for war confected, say top US officials: "An unprecedented array of US intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq. In their view, the very foundations of intelligence-gathering have been damaged in ways that could take years, even decades, to repair.

"A new documentary film beginning to circulate in the United States features one powerful condemnation after another, from the sort of people who usually stay discreetly in the shadows - a former director of the CIA, two former assistant secretaries of defence, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even the man who served as President Bush's Secretary of the Army until just a few months ago."

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Gabriel Kolko: The Vietnam War Reconsidered: "The land and peasant question in Vietnam, scarcely mentioned in the Allen memoir, was studied in detail by Robert L. Sansom and Jeffrey Race, both of whom had official sponsorship and published books well before the war ended. Both asserted that the land question was critical to the successful pursuit of an anti-Communist political mobilization in the South, and both were ignored. Race described how Washington's 'policy was founded on and protected by deception and outrageous lies,' and how a general told him that to identify America's errors in Vietnam was off bounds and the Pentagon 'cannot permit such subjects to be discussed.' That there were structural reasons for peasant supported the Communists 'simply couldn't get through' to the men at the top."

"The large technical and ideological cadres that purvey intelligence, rather than becoming a source of rationality and clarity, burden the already insupportable complexity of foreign policy formulation with worthless data, and accurate information becomes worthless as soon as it fails to reinforce what America's political and military leaders wish to hear... Intelligence's pretension to being objective is a hoax because those parts of it that do not reconfirm the power structure's interests and predetermined policies are ignored and discarded."

Zionism as Racist Ideology: "Enough has changed over the last decade or more that talk about Zionism as a system that either is inherently racist or at least fosters racism is increasingly possible and increasingly necessary. Despite the vehement knee-jerk opposition to any such discussion throughout the United States, serious scholars elsewhere and serious Israelis have begun increasingly to examine Zionism critically, and there is much greater receptivity to the notion that no real peace will be forged in Palestine-Israel unless the bases of Zionism are examined and in some way altered. It is for this reason that honestly labeling Zionism as a racist political philosophy is so necessary: unless the world's, and particularly the United States', blind support for Israel as an exclusivist Jewish state is undermined, unless the blind acceptance of Zionism as a noble ideology is undermined, and unless it is recognized that Israel's drive to maintain dominion over the occupied Palestinian territories is motivated by an exclusivist, racist ideology, no one will ever gain the political strength or the political will necessary to force Israel to relinquish territory and permit establishment of a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state in a part of Palestine."

Saturday, November 08, 2003

More shameful Ashrawi shenanigans: "Yesterday Ashrawi addressed the National Press Club, eight days after the ABC advised the club it would not televise the function."

"Interviewed by ABC radio's Linda Mottram on the AM program two days ago, [Mark Leibler, national chairman of the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)] said of Ashrawi's peace prize lecture in Sydney the previous night: "I looked everywhere for a clear condemnation of suicide bombers. I couldn't see it anywhere. You know, the people who go into malls and cafes and blow up women and children. No reference to it. There was also no call to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure ..."

"Mottram: "Hanan Ashrawi said, and I quote, 'Acts of violence against civilians, regardless of motivation or reason, must stop immediately, must not be encouraged, must not be condoned, whether suicide bombers or Apache helicopters.' Isn't that the kind of language you're calling for?" Liebler: "Of course not. What you're doing is equating those who blow up innocent civilians, women and children, with actions by a country to deal with terrorists. That's not good enough, because the Israeli violence is only, is not violence. The Israeli action is there simply to protect the civilian population ...""

Bush speech: "Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite... Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selectively applying the law to punish political opponents... Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media... They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people."

Loss of civil liberties and legal rights: the consequences: "A man born in Syria but now a Canadian citizen -- a man who has lived in Canada with his family for 15 years -- was flying home from abroad via New York last year when he was detained at JFK. Our government says he was on a terrorist watch list of some sort... The man insists he has no ties to terror whatsoever, and the Canadian government is already falling all over itself to apologize -- apparently it was a Canadian agency that listed him."

"Instead of charging this man, or trying him, or delivering him to Canada law enforcement, we denied him a lawyer or even a phone call. (He couldn't have a lawyer because he "wasn't American." If I'm detained in a Paris airport, do I now need to be a Frenchman to merit a lawyer?) The man says he was shackled, flown on a small plane to Washington, turned over to an unspecified new crowd of Americans -- and then flown to Jordan, handed over to authorities there, and tortured. For the next ten months, first in Jordan and then in Syria, he says he was tortured and ordered to sign confessions."

Chomsky: surprised at failure in Iraq: "The proposal [to withdraw from Iraq] has one big problem, which you in fact indicate. If the US withdraws, then there was no point invading. The US would be leaving without imposing a client regime and placing military bases right at the heart of the oil-producing regions, and, furthermore, without the claim of 'victory in the war on terror and against WMD,' how's Karl Rove going to make it through 2004?"

"Personally, I'm surprised at the failures. It must be one of the easiest military occupations in modern history: end the sanctions, kick out the thug, bring in some students from MIT to get the electricity system working, spread some money around, find collaborators who are always at the ready, and let them run the place as an "Arab facade" following US orders. Under far harsher conditions, military occupations have been quite successful."

"I spoke recently to a high official of one of the main NGOs, with plenty of experience all over the world's horror stories. He had just come back from several months in Baghdad, and said he had never seen such a combination of "arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence" as in the US command -- the civilian authorities. He was also shocked at the failure."

Should Ralph Nader run in 2004?: "Among the Greens this debate is generating support for an insurgent named David Cobb, the party's general counsel and a hardworking activist who helped found the Texas Green Party in 1999. On the issues, there is little to distinguish Cobb from Nader--indeed, he dates his own political awakening to a speech Nader gave in 1996. But in launching his admittedly longshot attempt to get the party's presidential nod, Cobb has made a series of pledges that stand as an implicit rebuke and challenge to Nader--promising to share his volunteer lists with local and state party chapters, to freely share his donor lists with the party's national committee and to coordinate his hiring of staff with party affiliates. He has also stated that he will withdraw from the race if either Dennis Kucinich or Al Sharpton is the Democratic nominee, that he will run hard to prevent the election of a 'corporate conservative' like Joe Lieberman and that otherwise he will follow a 'strategic-states plan' focusing on states that are not 'in play.'"

Economists admits cluelessness about 'asset price' bubbles: "The other thing to know about asset-price bubbles is that they're as puzzling as they are worrying. Economists know little about the dynamics of asset bubbles. According to their textbooks, they shouldn't exist. They are driven by emotion rather than rationality - greed followed by fear."

According to neo-classical economics textbooks, there are two factors of production, labour and capital. Like Hamlet without the Prince, this is certainly going to leave people 'puzzled'. It is not 'asset prices' that inflate, not property, or housing, it is land value, the capitalised or exchange value of the tax-free right to the site rent. This is the first big clue.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Warmonger Max Hastings bleats: Deep Anger at Bush: "Among the British people today, there is a deep anger towards the Bush administration for entangling us in a predicament which it is mishandling grotesquely. Anger seems entirely justified, so long as we do not extend it towards Bush’s country, where many people share it."

Evidently Hastings can distinguish between the US government and the US people, but, remarkably, vision fails closer to home, in the very same paragraph, a minor classic of falling victim to the propaganda system. This paragraph would make more sense if he said "among the British people today, there is deep anger at the Blair Government for entangling us in a predicament which is being grotesquely mishandled." Blair is a war criminal who should be behind bars. Warmongering propagandists like Hastings and organs like the Spectator who played a crucial role in making the war possible should also be called to account.

It's Business as Usual With Howard Dean: "The curtain is raised, and standing in the spotlight alone is Presidential hopeful Howard Dean. A virtual nobody turned star attraction, Dean’s ride to the top has been nothing short of remarkable. He has long held ambitions of one-day gazing out over the plush White House lawns in his royal bathrobe. And he may soon have his wish. The American Left has all but crowned this Democrat king of their Party -- buying his anti-war posture with superfluous ease. But how progressive is Dr. Dean? Is he worthy of such support?

"The following collection of articles helps to expose the doctor for what he is -- a typical politician whose record is crammed full of sleaze and controversy. These articles -- ranging from his Israel position, to his qualms with the Bill of Rights -- prove that we should not have the illusion that Dean is a liberal savior, strong enough to pry the Right hand now strangling this country.

"Like our widely read compilation of articles on that other current liberal savior, Wesley Clark, the point of this page is to emphasize that the “anybody but Bush” mentality pervading many American opposition movements is short-sighted. While Bush Inc. represents an unusually extreme segment of the American ruling class, its policies in reality fall within a very narrow political space subscribed to by both Democrats and Republicans. Neither political party questions the right of the US to overthrow governments (often democratically elected); back some of the most repressive regimes or movements on the planet when it serves elite interests (Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, Pinochet, Suharto, the death squad regimes of Latin America, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Mobutu, Jonas Savimbi, the Nicaraguan contras, and many more); or to commit unilateral acts of aggression (Iraq, Panama, Grenada, South Vietnam, and many Latin American and Caribbean nations throughout the 20th century). Both parties put the interests of the rich and powerful above the rest of us. Disagreement tends to be on narrow tactical grounds, not on the moral and fundamental level.

"Long before the first primary, there are Democratic candidates, like Dennis Kucinich, who are advocating genuine alternatives to business-as-usual politics, and yet they are largely being ignored because they are defined as “long shots.” Howard Dean was once a long shot, but now he is a Democratic front-runner because of the hard work of activists (lots of family money helps too). There is no reason the same can’t be true for the more progressive candidates. If one truly identifies him/herself as a “centrist” (in a constantly rightward moving landscape) or “conservative Democrat,” then Howard Dean (or Clark) is your man. But those seeking a real alternative will not find it in Dean. Further, fear of the Bush Administration doesn’t mean that challengers for the presidency are above criticism, whether the opponent is a Kucinich, Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky. In the end what really matters is not who the winner of a horse race every four years is, but the relentless pressure We as active participants in the political process put on the politicians, day in and day out, to make them work in the interest of the Common Good. The history of positive political change in America makes that clear. Uncritically supporting a business-as-usual candidate because he/she appears to be a lesser evil achieves nothing. Our hope is that progressives find these links and reports informative and useful."

Ret. Colonel Dan Smith answers questions in Rummy 'long hard slog' memo: "A copy of subject memo came to my attention even though I am not on the "to" or "CC" list. Obviously, you or a senior member of your staff anticipated that I would be able to provide a thoughtful, practical reply based on independent, unbiased research. My responses follow each of your queries."

"Will the US and the world be safer as a result of these two (and potentially other) interventions? History will be the judge, but at the moment, the weight of criticism suggests that these two interventions have increased US insecurity, endangered global instability and increased terrorist recruitment."

Ashwari and Brandis: the great debate: Margo Kingston oversees a debate on the Ashrawi/Sydney Peace Prize award. My impression is the grip that the Zionist narrative has over the Australian Jewish community and the wider community at large is finally breaking down.

For Jews The Real Worry Should Be Sharon Not Arafat, by John Ryan: "The recently released text of the Geneva Accord seems about as good a deal as could be worked out for a Two-State Solution, unless it's already too late for any such venture. Till now almost everything that had been put forward was an 'agreement to go on trying to agree,' which led to disillusionment and nothing of lasting substance. The new proposal has dealt with all the difficult points -- and both the Israeli and Palestinian participants have agreed to it. If Clinton appears at the official signing in Geneva in early November, as was reported, the proposal may not be so easy to dismiss."

Howard's Snub for war widow: "You'd have to be thinking on the purest of dehumanised political levels to either forget or deliberately snub the man's widow. And you'd have to have kept your plans so secret that the bodies normally in the loop - the Australian Defence Force and Australian War Memorial - didn't know about it. I checked with both organisations today and neither knew anything of the ceremony for Sgt Russell until Bush mentioned it in his speech to Parliament just before driving to the War Memorial."

Howard seems to have engineered the event purely to gain maximum political advantage from being seen with "Dubya" and "supporting our troops". The decision to make it a "head of government visit" rather than a "head of state" visit was apparently made to keep Howard at the centre of attention, but this also led, probably inadvertently, to the War Memorial and Defence Force not being advised and hence the snub to Russell.

New terror laws for the hell of it: the lies Ruddock's telling us: "In this context, Ruddock's 'urgent' moves to list Laskar-e-Taiba and Hamas can either be seen as a failure to be properly briefed or an instance of rank political opportunism. Either way, it is unacceptable."

Naturally one would suspect the latter explanation with Ruddock. It is a predictable strategy to exploit public fears for political advantage. The opposition must have the courage to explain the situation for what it is and inform the public of the real issues of security, and the political ones.

Judge blasts Howard and Carr over remarks in Hanson case: "'Such statements from legislators could reasonably be seen as an attempt to influence the judicial appellate process and to interfere with the independence of the judiciary for cynical political motives,' she wrote in her comments supporting the appeal finding. The senior judge warned that 'a failure by legislators to act with similar restraint in the future, whether out of carelessness or for cynical short-term political gain, will only undermine confidence in the judiciary and consequentially the democratic government of this state and nation'."

Justice McMurdo said she was unaware of any public retraction of the statements made by Mr Howard, Mr Carr, Mrs Bishop, or other critical comments by the Queensland One Nation leader Bill Flynn and the West Australian One Nation MP Bill Flynn.

""If these observations were accurately reported, they are concerning," Justice McMurdo said. "They demonstrate, at the least, a lack of understanding of the rule of law, the principle that every person and organisation is subject to the same laws and punishment, and not to the arbitrary wishes of individuals or the passing whim of the day.""

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Germany Questions Legality of Iraq War: "[German Defence Minister] Struck said that forming so-called 'coalitions of the willing,' such as the one created by Washington ahead of the invasion of Iraq, jeopardized NATO solidarity. In an unexpected swipe at the leading NATO country, Struck said it would be more politically astute for the United States to act multilaterally and in tune with other NATO partners.

"Ad hoc relationships, he said, could not replace the long-standing alliance, but they would reduce NATO to the role of a military 'toolbox' for the United States to use at its whim. The German defense minister stressed that the alliance's principle of consensus was not simply a nuisance that could be overlooked whenever one of the members felt inclined to go their own way. 'NATO must not be seen as a servant implementing the decisions made in Washington,' Struck went on to say. 'Anybody who wants a strong NATO must prevent this from happening.'

"Struck addressed German concerns over the Bush administration's new doctrine of preemptive military action to curb potential security threats before they fully materialize. 'Preventive (military) action requires unambiguous intelligence,' he said. 'The weapons of mass destruction which cannot be found in Iraq have shown how thin the ice can be when one embarks on a war of self-defense on the basis of supposedly clear proof of an imminent threat.'

"Therefore, Struck said he saw reason enough to question the legality of the war, which Washington and London justified by arguing that Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction posed a threat to peace in the region and world. 'One can ask the question whether what the United States did in Iraq was legitimate under international law,' he said."

George Bush is a liar: impeach him: "On Sunday, 18 more young Americans died in Iraq serving the vanity of an American President who woefully betrayed them and who has no idea where his policies are taking his country. This is a President who, as is now amply clear, has systematically lied to the troops and the American people about the reasons for going to war, distorting evidence to claim that the United States was threatened by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and linking Iraq to the September 11 terrorist attacks."

"Having led America and its allies by the nose into a clumsy, ill-advised Middle East power grab, President Bush is faced with a terrible quandary: what do we do now? The occupation of Iraq is not working and will not work. And US intentions in Iraq are far from clear. Though there may be an echo of "white man's burden" that seeks to export "civilisation", even that highly questionable goal is clouded and undermined by the fact that Washington inevitably will put a higher priority on having a new Iraq serve America's superpower needs - oil, commerce, military power - rather than meet the needs of regular Iraqis. Unless America is willing to trade the lives of US troops and Iraqis for the obsessions of empire, America must end the occupation now."

This article, published in a mainstream corporate US newspaper, is another in a string of ringing denunciations of Bush and his policies. All the more remarkable, therefore, that John Howard should be untouched for following those policies right into the quagmire. Could there ever be a more ineffective opposition than what we are now seeing from the Labor party?

Ashrawi wins Sydney Peace Prize: "Margo Kingston writes: Dr Ashrawi will deliver the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize lecture tonight at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. NSW Premier Bob Carr will award the peace prize to Dr Ashrawi at a dinner at Parliament House tomorrow evening. I've just seen her sensational performance in Kerry' O'Brien interview - well worth reading the transcript tomorrow."

Kerry O'Brien sounds increasingly like Tony Jones, conducting the the interview as if he had riding instructions from the Howard government, repeatedly banging on about Hamas. Not a word about key issues of conflict, such as the Geneva Plan (would Kerry even be aware of it?). Ashrawi, however, was remarkably effective and articulate in the interview, insisting she would not allow others to dictate her narrative, putting to shame her opponents such as Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull, from whom not a word has been heard despite playing a key role in organising a boycott of the Prize. Turnbull gives the impression of being an unqualified and uninformed person, who is only in the job because of wealth and family connections, because it is 'the thing to do', and who has no concept of what it means to have real issues and real commitment such as shown by Ashrawi. The attempt to silence Ashrawi has backfired and and she has only been more prominent and more effective than she otherwise might have been.