Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Neve Gordon: Strategic Motives of the Yassin Assassination: An attempt to analyse Sharon's motive in ordering the murder of Yassin. Why now and what effect is it calculated to have? One possible motive is the desire to block the growth of the Palestinian non-violent movement: "Commentators have ignored that the Israeli attack will likely deal a harsh blow to the recent emergence of a Palestinian non-violent resistance movement. The three-and-a-half year-old Palestinian uprising, known as the Intifada, began changing its character about two months ago: from a struggle based on violent resistance led by relatively small groups of militants to a massive non-violent grassroots movement.

"The impetus for this mobilization is the rapid erection of the separation wall. The protesters use the same techniques developed by Ghandi and Martin Luther King, with hundreds of demonstrators standing or lying in front of bulldozers, chanting songs and waving flags... Yassin's assassination will probably weaken the non-violent resistance and empower those who favor violent retaliation against Israel. Thus, ironically, Israel's operation has actually strengthened the legitimacy of Hamas's military wing."

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

US now looking to install a PM in Iraq: "The United States wants to transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister [Chalabi?], abandoning plans for an expansion of the current 25-member governing council, coalition officials in Baghdad say... It is not clear if Iraqi agreement on this issue has been sought."

The plan to install this puppet, the latest in a string of US proposals and reversals, is described as a 'return of sovereignty' and the 'democratisation' of Iraq; or in Howard-speak, 'getting the job done.' What is not mentioned in this article but underlies everything of course is the fact that the US will establish large military bases in the country and have 10s of thousands of troops occupying it for years to come, as well as the biggest 'embassy' (proconsulate?) in the world.

Latham dream run trips on Iraq: "Strong public support for Australian troops to remain in Iraq 'until the job is done' has been revealed by the latest Herald poll amid the first signs that Mark Latham's honeymoon with voters could be ending."

"In the poll, conducted by ACNielsen, only 35 per cent thought that Australia's 850 troops in and around Iraq should be brought home immediately - a more rapid withdrawal than proposed by Mr Latham last week. It also reveals that two-thirds of voters believe a terrorist attack in Australia is likely within two years."

"Labor's decision to withdraw the troops could also run counter to the wishes of the United Nations. Diplomatic sources say it is highly likely that a new UN resolution will sanction the transition to democracy in Iraq after the handover from military control on June 30."

This issue will be something of a test for Latham, to find whether he has some courage and principle, or whether he is weak and poll-driven. As the newly elected Spanish Prime Minister has said, the war was a disaster, the occupation is a disaster, the troops have to come home.

The United States and its allies invaded Iraq not because of WMDs and terror links but because it wants to control the oil of the country and the region, and in order to set up long term military bases. They did this knowing that it would increase the risk of radical Islamist terrorist attacks against themselves while at the same time claiming that they were fighting a 'war on terror'. It is actively denied that the terrorist attacks against Western and especially US targets is a response to decades of Western and US colonialism, imperialism, occupation and intervention in Middle Eastern countries. Instead the attacks are explained away on the basis that the terrorists 'hate us and hate Western values.'

The US cannot withdraw from the country (otherwise what would have been the point of invading?) unless it is politically and militarily defeated. The so-called 'transition to sovereignty' and 'democratisation' of Iraq is a charade. For a national leader such as Latham may become, some sort of acceptable statement must be made but the fundamental question is whether or not the troops are withdrawn and before Christmas is more than long enough. Australia must cut all links with this criminal misadventure.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Bravo, Amigos!: "After the terrorist onslaught, the Spanish asked themselves: why did they do it? What caused this murderous attack on us? The logical answer was: the Prime Minister's policy has brought this on us. The conclusion: Let's find another one. In Israel, such a question cannot arise. What brought the terrorist attacks on us? What sort of a question is that? The reason for terrorism is the inborn murderous character of the Arabs. It has, of course, nothing at all to do with the policy of our Prime Minister. When a terrorist outrage happens here, logic flies out of the window. Instead of thinking and asking questions, people shout 'Death to the Arabs', demand bloody revenge and gather around the Prime Minister.

"Another difference: the Spaniards got angry. The Prime Minister lied to them. He exploited the outrage for his election campaign. When he already knew that all the signs pointed to Islamic fanatics, he pretended in public that the attack was perpetrated by the Basque ETA organization. He hoped to garner the votes of those Spaniards who oppose an independent Basque homeland. But the voters understood that this was a lie and did not like it. The Prime Minister is lying to us? To hell with him. In Israel, when the Prime Minister lies, the public remains apathetic. The Prime Minister has lied to us again? So what? Isn't he always lying? Nothing to get upset about."

"[The Israeli Labor party] is headed by a pathetic person [Peres] who would make a deal with the devil for a place in Sharon's government. Its other old leaders, all of them certified failures, are already quarrelling about the chairs that Sharon may allot them, should he be so kind as to invite them into his cabinet. The Israeli situation is surreal: according to all opinion polls, a large part of the public is fed up with the war, the bloody cycle of suicide bombings and targeted assassinations, the settlements and the settlers.

"They want a solution and are ready to pay the necessary price - the end of the occupation, a Palestinian state, the dismantling of the settlements, a reasonable compromise about Jerusalem, withdrawal to the vicinity of the Green Line. They want to shift our national resources from occupation and war to economic growth, education and social welfare. So how does this translate into political realities? It doesn't. There is no serious political force able to offer an alternative leadership."

Israeli politics and the Israeli people are paying the price for failing to understand and to repudiate the lies, the contradictions, and the inhumanity at the core of the Zionist enterprise.

Thorpe eliminated from favourite event by Australian swimming: "Earlier yesterday, Thorpe's coach, Tracey Menzies, said he had closed the door on any chance of defending his Olympic 400m crown. A jury had dismissed a protest and Menzies said there would be no more appeals."

Thorpe, described as Australia's or even the world's greatest ever swimmer, the world record holder in the 400m event, the defending Olympic champion, undefeated in 6 years and red hot favourite to win Gold at the Athens Olympics this year, has been eliminated from his favourite event by Australian Swimming on a technicality. It must surely be one of the most absurd decisions since Dawn Fraser was chucked out.

Aust. swimming could have had a rule on the books that the final avenue of appeal on any matter be the Patron, eg a Governor or Governor-General. Such a figure would ordinarily never get involved in administration and decision making, but if there were a problem such as this an appeal could be made and granted, provided that the case was overwhlemingly strong and public support was overwhelmingly present. In the current case they are stuck with a decision which would make us a laughing stock to other countries.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Running Scared: The Bush Administration Fears Voters Will Believe Richard Clarke's Allegations: "The Bush White House has banked on all who were privy to these details keeping the code of silence. But too many people outside the White House sphere of influence are too well informed, be they commandos on the ground or career civil servants at the state department and CIA. Some have come forward, risking the ire of the Bushies. Many more are considering it, weighing their conscience alongside their sense of self-preservation. Several who are talking are doing so on the condition of anonymity.

"But, as this campaign heats up, some will rethink and go on the record. It is becoming clear their silence might ensure that the Bush White House gets away with the central lie of its tenure - the blanket denial that it abandoned the war on terror to pursue an unrelated, pre-selected Iraq agenda. The louder the Bush administration proclaims that it is the only qualified protector of national security, the more offensively that rings in the ears of those who know the truth. Sooner or later - and certainly before November - that truth will out."

Chomsky favours holding your nose and voting for Kerry: "It's a matter of judgment, of course, but mine is that those who favor electing Bush are making a very serious error. The people around him are likely to cause very serious, perhaps irreparable, harm if given another mandate."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Sharon's New Plan: "The American historian Howard Zinn formulated a simple rule: Governments lie. It appears that this generalization is one of the most difficult for people to internalize and digest in a democratic society. Until this changes, the majority is doomed to believe again and again the same lie. "

Palestine is now part of an arc of Muslim resistance: "The chances of a lasting settlement should in reality be higher than ever before. For the first time, every significant political and armed Palestinian group - including Hamas and Islamic Jihad - is now prepared to accept a de facto end to conflict in return for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza - just 22% of historic Palestine.

"The sharp-tongued Rantissi is widely regarded as more hardline than Yassin. But, as he told me in Gaza a couple of months back, Hamas is ready to call a ceasefire that 'should be seen in terms of years' in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from the territories it has illegally occupied for the past 37 years. On another occasion, referring to the Hamas dream of Islamist rule throughout Palestine, he has said: 'We can accept a truce ... live side by side and refer all the issues to the coming generations.' And the organisation's new number two in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, confirmed its commitment to a West Bank/Gaza state in yesterday's interview with the Guardian.

"But instead of seizing the opportunity for peace offered by such political signals, the Sharon government is deliberately undermining the basis for a two-state solution by carving up the occupied territories with its electrified fences, closed zones and ever-expanding settlements. At the same time, it is planning a partial withdrawal from the most heavily populated areas, while effectively annexing other areas of the West Bank and confining Palestinians to walled bantustans that can never form the basis of a viable state."

"Justice for the Palestinians should self-evidently be pursued on its own merits. But given the extent to which Palestine has become a focus of global Muslim grievance, it has also become a necessity for international security. And the failure of western leaders to confront the crisis in a remotely even-handed way is now a threat to their own people.

"The most dangerous delusion of our time must surely be the notion - trotted out by all manner of public figures, from George Bush to Clive James - that Islamist terror is motivated by hostility to freedom and the western way of life. As anyone who is familiar with the Arab and Muslim world, or even bothered to read successive statements by al-Qaida leaders, it is in fact overwhelmingly driven by hostility to foreign, and especially western, domination and occupation of Arab and Muslim countries."

"To address the swelling and legitimate grievances that underlie [terrorism and insurgency] is now a global imperative. Unless and until the occupying powers - notably the US, Britain and Israel [and Australia] - do that, they will be fuelling, not fighting, terror."

Chomsky starts own blog: but permalinks dont seem to work!!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Full transcript of Clarke interview: More inside information on the central core of the Bush Administration's foreign policy - that it was determined to take out Saddam and that 9/11 merely provided the opportunity to execute this pre-determined policy. Naturally the unprovoked aggression and occupation of a Muslim country would evoke widespread opposition, resentment and animosity, but the Bush gang dared the big lie that they were going after terrorrists and WMDs. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for the rest of the world) this big lie appears to be coming unstuck.

Mark Latham goes for it on Iraq: Effective parliamentary speech by Latham on a censure motion against Howard over Keelty and Iraq. The type of speech that would actually be worth watching, but all that was shown on nightly TV was some heated remarks ('lousy rotten disgrace') directed against Downer.

Juan Cole - Sharon's treason: "At a time when American soldiers and civilians throughout Iraq are already daily being targeted by Sunni Muslim guerrillas, for Ariel Sharon to order the murder of Yassin and seven others while they were leaving a mosque is an act of treason against his American ally. It doubles the danger for every American man and woman in Iraq." - as if Sharon would care about the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq, or indeed the deaths of his own citizens in Israel.

Latham: troops home by Christmas: "'We may go to a new sovereign Iraqi government [on June 30] so that's the point where Australia can say it's time to bring the troops back and it's time to put the defence of Australia as our first priority,' [Mr Latham] said."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

An angry - and dangerous - man takes aim at Bush: "Clarke's gloves-off account has rocked the White House... Clarke is no doubt haunted by the fact that the attacks took place on his watch. But he argues that he and Tenet repeatedly warned Bush's senior staff of their fears. He scathingly criticises Wolfowitz for believing conspiracy theories that the first World Trade Centre attacks were linked to Iraq and for being obsessed with Saddam Hussein.

"Clarke is still furious that the war on terrorism switched its focus from al-Qaeda to Iraq. 'Nothing America could have done would have provided al-Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country,' he says. 'It was as if Osama bin Laden, in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting, 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq'.'"

Yassin assassination spells five kinds of trouble for the West: "[Counter-terrorism Tsar] Clarke savages Bush for using al-Qaeda cynically as an opportunity to take the wholly unrelated action of invading Iraq. Clarke goes on to say that Bush 'launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide'.

"In Australia, the Howard Government has been desperately resisting the common sense that by invading Iraq it made Australia a bigger target for terrorists. John Howard has lost that struggle. Newspoll found yesterday that 65 per cent of Australians believe that involvement in the Iraq war increased the chances of a terrorist attack. The proportion in Britain is 75 per cent."

Monday, March 22, 2004

Ex-Aide Says Bush Doing 'Terrible Job': "Richard A. Clarke, ... the former White House counterterrorism coordinator ... accuses Bush of doing 'a terrible job on the war against terrorism.... frankly I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism.'"

""Bin Laden had been saying for years, 'America wants to invade an Arab country and occupy it, an oil-rich Arab country.' This is part of his propaganda," Clarke said. "So what did we do after 9/11? We invade ... and occupy an oil-rich Arab country, which was doing nothing to threaten us.""

Despite the Hype, Bottled Water is Neither Cleaner nor Greener than Tap Water: "In a trendy nightclub in New York City, the bartender tells guests they can only be served bottled water, which costs $5 for each tiny half-pint container. One outraged clubber is stopped by the restroom attendant as she tries to refill the bottle from the tap. 'You can't do that,' says the attendant. 'New York's tap water isn't safe.'"

Chalmers Johnson: Empire Falls: "The problem is that this president, or any president who replaces him, can’t stand up to the vested interests in the Pentagon, the secret intelligence agencies and the military industrial complex. I say this in part because of what happened in the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991, when Mikhail Gorbachev truly tried to reform the Soviet system... Most people in this military do not expect to be shot at. That is proving to be a major limitation of our Roman pretensions and ambitions. We will be finding out within a very short period of time—a matter of months—whether we can raise the armed forces that we have in the past through incentives and getting people to volunteer. In a very short period of time, 40 percent of the troops in Iraq will be Reserves and National Guardsmen. They didn’t expect that duty when they joined the National Guard."

Iraq reprisal: US envoy at odds with PM: "The Madrid train bombings were probably carried out in reprisal for Spain's support of the Iraq war, says the US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer... The concession that the attack could have been a reprisal over Iraq puts the ambassador at odds with the Prime Minister, John Howard, by echoing comments a week ago by the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty."

Global Protests Mark Iraq War Anniversary: "Hundreds of thousands took to streets across the world on Saturday to demand the withdrawal of U.S.-led occupying forces from Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the war. Journalists estimated at least a million people streamed through Rome in probably the biggest single protest."

Sunday, March 21, 2004

West must act to end jihad: Imam: "Imam Feisal said it was Christians who started mass attacks on civilians. 'The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets.' ... Imam Feisal, who argues for a Western style of Islam that promotes democracy and tolerance, said there could be little progress until the US acknowledged backing dictators and the US President gave an "America Culpa" speech to the Muslim world."

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Zapatero rejects Kerry call on Iraq troops: "Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero tonight rejected US Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry’s call for him to reconsider plans to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq... “Maybe John Kerry does not know – but I am happy to explain it to him – that my commitment to withdraw the troops goes back before the tragic, dramatic terrorist attack,” Zapatero said."

Maybe Kerry wouldnt have known because it was never reported in the corporate media. Not even I knew...

Zapatero's statement also says it all about the damn near useless Democratic party and its candidate, Kerry. Maybe it would be for the better if Bush won, as Kolko has argued.

"“If the United Nations does not take over the situation and there is not a rethinking of this chaotic occupation we are living through, in which there are more dead in the occupation than in the war phase, the Spanish troops are going to return to Spain”, Zapatero said. He also pledged to be relentless against terrorism. “Terrorists have to know that (in Spain) there is going to be a government that is inflexible with terrorism and that wherever they are, they will be hunted down. This has been my policy since I was leader of the opposition.” "

Friday, March 19, 2004

Spain and Australia: the parallels: "”The war [in Iraq] has been a disaster; the occupation continues to be a disaster"

"As a long-term Australian resident of Spain and having just left the country after spending most of the election campaign there, I must comment on the deeply insulting - not to say patronising - attitude shown by those who suggest that the new Spanish government is there thanks to Al-Qaeda, and that this is somehow a ‘victory for terrorism’."

"Since the last election, the children overboard affair and the war in Iraq are but two instances of appalling spin that one hopes will come back to haunt the Howard government and, like Spain’s conservatives, they will be made to pay for their contemptuous treatment of the general public by being thrown out of government."

Thursday, March 18, 2004

On the Occupation of Iraq and the Trial of Saddam, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Matthew Tempest: "Not very many people are aware of the fact that the US is planning to construct what will be the world's largest embassy in Iraq, with maybe 3,000 people. The military plans to maintain permanent bases and a substantial US military presence as long as they want it. The facts are reported, but marginally. Most people don't know about it. The orders to open the Iraqi economy up to foreign takeover are again known to people who pay close attention, but not to the general population."

"They should also bring to justice those who were responsible for the murderous sanction regime which surely led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and devastated the society so completely that they could not carry out what has happened elsewhere, where the US and Britain supported comparable monsters - namely, they were overthrown from within. It seems not unlikely that the same might have happened in Iraq had the society not been devastated and had people not been compelled by the sanctions to rely on the tyrant for mere survival."

(11-M) A chronicle of the four most intense days in Spain: "I remember I've been in that station, Atocha, hundreds of times to go to my university, in those familiar trains which I could mentally describe without any effort... we realize that the government has been lying us since the first time the Security Minister told us it was Titadine, which is why we were convinced it was ETA. They've been consciously lying us from the beginning... It is too much... there are some moments I think I just can't bear it anymore... On Sunday, the Popular Party is kicked out from the government: the Socialist Party wins, and we breathe. Because a victory of the PP would have confirmed governments can lie in this democracy and avoid paying for it, that you can continuously lie and people will not ask. That media coup d'etats can be done. The confrontation politics that they've practiced these four years governing alone can get to an extreme on which they consciously lie about the most serious terrorist attack to Spain in its whole history: they lied about it to stay in power, and they did it even as they knew on monday we would know what really happened. Their only concern were the polls, from the beginning."

Pew Poll: PR disaster for phony 'war on terror': "Majorities in all four Muslim nations surveyed doubt the sincerity of the war on terrorism. Instead, most say it is an effort to control Mideast oil and to dominate the world... there is broad agreement in nearly all of the countries surveyed – the U.S. being a notable exception – that the war in Iraq hurt, rather than helped, the war on terrorism... In the four predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, opposition to the war remains nearly universal... Majorities in Germany, Turkey and France – and half of the British and Russians – believe the conflict in Iraq undermined the war on terrorism... Solid majorities in France and Germany believe the U.S. is conducting the war on terrorism in order to control Mideast oil and dominate the world... Large majorities in almost every country surveyed think that American and British leaders lied when they claimed, prior to the Iraq war, that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The West Was Warned. Now It Is Paying The Price Of The "War On Terror": "I don't believe this is the Third World War. Nor is it a 'war on terror'. Nor is it a 'war of civilisations'. But our own leaders are wilfully leading us into a period of appalling suffering because they will not address the causes of injustice in the Islamic world. Repeatedly, our leaders were told of the consequences of participation in America's Iraqi folly. They lied to us. They told us about weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist, about links between Iraq and 11 September 2001 that didn't exist."

"The killers are those who kill - and that includes our pilots as well as their bombers. We don't want to kill civilians. But we know that our wars will do that, and death does not come more pleasantly, less painfully, because the victims are killed by the supposedly benevolent West rather than the supposedly cruel East. Now we are beginning to pay the price. Did it really begin on 11 September 2001? No, it began long before. And no amount of weasel words, no amount of church warden sincerity can mask the degree to which we have been taken by our leaders into this insane conflict."

Damage from Warming Becoming 'Irreversible,' Says New Report: "'We are quickly moving to the point where the damage will be irreversible,' warned Dr. Jonathan Pershing, director of WRI's Climate, Energy and Pollution Program. 'In fact, the latest scientific reports indicate that global warming is worsening. Unless we act now, the world will be locked into temperatures that would cause irreversible harm.'"

Scotland: How to raise money from our wealth of land: "The position is as illogical as it is indefensible yet so thoroughly have we been brainwashed into believing that land must not be taxed that in all the proposed changes in local revenue raising there is never a mention of taxing the land rather than the property erected on it or the individual’s earnings. Yet such a tax is neither without precedent nor difficult to implement.

"Many cities, states and countries base local revenue wholly or partly on land tax. Their systems are based on surveys of value and ownership but in the opinion of professionals Scotland’s land is already so well catalogued that, apart from some uncertainty over a few titles, which sequestration for non- a full survey would not be required and a system using capital values or assessed rentals could be readily developed."

"Surely a system robustly founded on the tangible, physical certainty of land, fairer and more broadly based than the present mess and with the advantages that it encourages utilisation of the land up to at least its taxable level while discouraging disuse and hoarding, must be attractive to politicians? Land value tax has impeccable socialist credentials having been adopted as policy by the Scottish Labour Party in June 1888. So why is it being studiously ignored by the Scottish Executive?"

New Spanish Leader Lashes Out at Bush, Blair Over Iraq War: "'The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster,' [Prime Minister elect] Zapatero, 43, told Cadena Ser radio on Monday... Zapatero, whose Socialist Party ended eight years of rule by Aznar's Popular Party (PP) after winning 43 percent of the ballots to the PP's 38 percent, said near-total public opposition to the Iraq war had been key."

"Zapatero also said Bush and his main ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, need to engage in "self-criticism". "You can't bomb a people just in case" they pose a perceived threat, Zapatero said in statements just five days before the first anniversary of the March 20 start of the war. "You can't organize a war on the basis of lies," he said, alluding to Bush's and Blair's insistence the war was justified by their belief -- so far unfounded -- that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat. "Wars such as that which has occurred in Iraq only allow hatred, violence and terror to proliferate," he said.

"The head of the EU executive arm, European Commission chief Romano Prodi, agreed in an interview published by Italy's La Stampa newspaper Monday. "It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi said. "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago," and all of Europe now feels threatened, he told the paper."

Any chance Mark Latham could produce some blunt speaking of this sort?

Most Canadians believe Bush lied to justify war on Iraq: "Canadians overwhelmingly believe US President George W. Bush lied to justify the Iraq war and their own government was wise to stay out of the conflict, according to a new poll published Monday. The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for the newspaper the Globe and Mail and Canadian Television (CTV),showed that 67 percent of adult Canadians agreed with the statement that Bush 'knowingly lied to the world to justify his war with Iraq' a year ago.

"Moreover, 74 percent of the poll respondents said the Canadian government made the right decision by not joining the US-led coalition that invaded Iraq... The poll conducted last week shows a sharp increase in the percentage of Canadians who think the United States made a mistake in going to war. Sixty three percent now say the United States blundered, compared with 47 percent who felt that way when polled last December."

Kolko: The American elections, the future of alliances and the lessons of Spain: "The Bush Administration, through ineptness and a vague ideology of American power that acknowledges no limits on its global ambitions, and a preference for unilateralist initiatives which discounts consultations with its friends much less the United Nations, has seriously eroded the alliance system upon which U. S. foreign policy from 1947 onwards was based... As dangerous as it is, Bush's reelection may be a lesser evil because he is much more likely to continue the destruction of the alliance system that is so crucial to American power."

"Politicians who place America's imperious demands over national interest have less future than those who are responsive to domestic opinion and needs. The tragedy in Madrid and the defeat of the ruling party in last Sunday's Spanish election is a warning that no politician in or out of power will ignore... This process of alienating traditional close friends is best seen in Australia ... As Alexander Downer, the foreign minister, admitted earlier this month, "it wasn't a time in our history to have a great and historic breach with the United States," and the desire to preserve the alliance became paramount."

"Without accurate information a state can believe and do anything, and this is the predicament the Bush Administration's allies are in. It is simply not to their national interest, much less to their political interests or the security of their people, to pursue foreign policies based on a blind, uncritical acceptance of fictions or flamboyant adventurism premised on false premises and information. It is far too open-ended both in terms of time and political costs. If Bush is reelected, America's allies and friends will have to confront such stark choices, a painful process that will redefine and perhaps shatter existing alliances. Independent, realistic foreign policies are likely to be the outcome, and the dramatic events in Spain over the past days have reinforced this probability. But America will be more prudent and the world will be far safer only if the Bush Administration is constrained by a lack of allies and isolated."

Socialist PM pledges troop pullout from Iraq - would PM Latham do the same?: "Spain's conservative party has been swept from power after eight years, on a wave of anger and resentment against its handling of Madrid's al-Qaeda linked train bombings and support for the US war in Iraq. The country's 34.5 million voters turned against the conservatives in the aftermath of Thursday's terrorist assault, which authorities believe was carried out by an al-Qaeda cell, known as Abu Dahdah, which has links to the September 11 attacks in New York.

"The incoming socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, was narrowly trailing in opinion polls until the bombings, which left 200 commuters dead and more than 1400 injured. But the conservatives' handling of the crisis and claims they were covering up al-Qaeda's involvement brought millions of young Spaniards out to vote, many for the first time. The turnout was put at 77.4 per cent, the highest in more than 20 years. Mr Zapatero, whose party won almost 43 per cent of vote, has promised to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq in June, in effect ending the country's close collaboration with the US and Britain in the war and occupion."

"The conservative Popular Party under Jose Maria Aznar and his chosen successor, Mariano Rajoy, had been tipped to win the election on the strength of the Government's healthy economic record and its popular crackdown of the Basque separatist group ETA, despite overwhelming opposition to its role in Iraq."

Howard in denial over terror: "John Howard has rejected suggestions by the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, that the Madrid bombings may be linked to Spain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq, if they proved the work of Islamic terrorists."

Mr Keelty deserves commendation and support for having the courage to speak the truth despite obvious pressure from the government that is now struggling to sustain the mendacious rhetoric of the 'war on terror'.

"The war of words came as an internationally recognised expert on terrorism warned that Australia was at greater risk of terrorist attack since waging war in Iraq, but had always been one of al-Qaeda's targets."

"The US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer ... rejected al-Qaeda's claim that the Madrid commuter trains were hit as punishment for Spain's allegiance to the US in Iraq. ""It [the attacks] was because it is a democracy there and the Spanish, basically, have Western values.""

This, in a nutshell, is the Aznar/ Berlusconi/ Howard/ Blair/ Bush ideology: they are not attacking us because we attack them, they are attacking us because they hate Western values. Aznar is now gone for unconditionally supporting this offensive nonsense - supporting it against both common sense, the wishes of his own people and nearly every expert who has commented on the issue. One down, four to go. It is important for the future of the planet that these politicians and their mendacious ideology of 'war on terror' are defeated at the polls.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

US/UK/UN responsibility for Rwandan massacre: "Two African heads of state were killed [when their plane was shot down by two surface to air missile's fired on Kagame's orders] --President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi was also in the plane ­, the fragile peace based on the Arusha accords of 1993 was shattered, war resumed, and masses of people were massacred. The perpetrators of that attack--the Rwandan Patriotic Front [headed by current Rwandan President Kagame] according to Bruguière--knew what would happen, as did their principal backers, the United States and the United Kingdom."

U.N. Finds Black Box Thought to Be From 1994 Rwandan Crash: "Thursday's announcement followed a report in Le Monde, a French daily, about an unpublished French investigation that accused the United Nations of withholding the downed aircraft's flight recorder. [Annan spokesman] Mr. Eckhard acknowledged that he had 'ridiculed' the report when first asked about it on Tuesday."

"Embarrassed officials disclosed Thursday that the United Nations was unknowingly holding an airplane black box shipped here from Africa after the 1994 crash that killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and set off the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans... Mr. Annan, speaking to reporters after his monthly lunch with Security Council members, said he was "incredulous," and called the situation "a real foul-up, a first-class foul-up.""

[sorry Mr Annan, it aint exactly you who is 'incredulous' here. And what about that statement the downed plane was a 'plane crash'?]

"Mr. Annan was head of the United Nations peacekeepers when the massacre occurred... The Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira, both of the dominant Hutu tribe, died on April 6, 1994, when their Falcon 50 aircraft was brought down by two ground-to-air missiles as it approached the airport in Kigali. Their deaths triggered a 100-day wave of killings in Rwanda of an estimated 800,000 minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu by extremist Hutu."

"Le Monde said the French investigation — carried out by the antiterrorist division of the French judicial police — concluded that it was Paul Kagame, Rwanda's current president, who ordered the plane shot down. At the time, Mr. Kagame was the leader of a rebel Tutsi movement, the Rwandan Patriotic Front."

Scottish Greens unveil land tax proposals: "The Scottish Green Party has unveiled plans to scrap the council tax and introduce a levy based on land values. The Greens' land value tax would be paid locally and would be calculated on the value of land. Under the system the owners of prime locations would pay more than those owning marginal and run-down land. The tax could also boost re-generation as owners who develop their land would pay less compared to those who sit on derelict and under-developed land."

"Green finance spokesman Mark Ballard said Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs might back their idea, which would give it a majority in the Scottish Parliament... Similar systems of land taxation already operate in Denmark, South Africa, Jamaica and Australia."

GRAND THEFT AMERICA: Vivid flash presentation on Katherine Harris and the stolen 2000 election.

United Press International: Madrid bombings carry al-Qaida hallmark: "'It's a declaration of war against democracy,' said Pat Cox, the president of the European Parliament, of Thursday's attacks in Madrid. On that point there is no debate."

I suppose it is true enough that there is no debate in the corporate media/ government echo chamber but some of us would beg to differ with the above nonsensical statement. As is often the case, however, this corporate media article gives way towards the end to some illumination of the matter:

"Spain ... is "an acceptable target" for al-Qaida for is unfaltering support of the United States in the war in Iraq. Spain, along with the United Kingdom, has contributed troops to the war effort, and its prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, showed unflagging support to President George W. Bush and the war effort. Aznar stood side by side with Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a pre-war summit in the Azores... In many ways, Spain was the ideal target. It's a Western European nation, a member of NATO, a U.S. ally and a participant in the war in Iraq. Furthermore, given Spain's experience in combating terrorism over the years, it was far from being a "soft target." As one German intelligence officer lamented, "now the war has reached Europe."

Chomsky once recommended that articles should be read from the bottom up.

Blair, conman and war criminal, simply out of his depth "'And the clouds came flying through the air bringing winds and hurling lightning and arrows, and it rained hail, fire and swords, and killed a great number of people.' So cried the Florentine monk Savonarola of the coming Day of Judgment in 1492. The terrified citizens duly rose and followed him into a disastrous alliance with Italy's new conqueror, Charles VIII of France. Four years later they had had enough of Savonarola's apocalyptic waffle, dragged him from his monastery and hanged him. Whenever I hear Tony Blair nowadays, I think of Savonarola."

"I therefore resent Mr Blair, a former member of CND, telling me I am 'in mortal danger of mistaking the nature of the world'. I have some knowledge of that world. Like many journalists, I have visited Beirut, Palestine and Iraq and know that seething discontent in these places can induce fanatical groups to acts of great cruelty. Mr Blair is doing nothing to reduce that discontent and much to exacerbate it."

"The technology of terror has in reality advanced little beyond the 1970s and 1980s. Suicide bombs have been used in the Middle East for two decades... Bombs kill and panic the panicky. But they do not undermine civilised society unless that society wants to be undermined. The destructive potential of these bombs is not remotely �mass�, nor is the threat comparable with that of the Blitz or nuclear weapons. It is astonishing that we have to tell the prime minister of the day that the British state is not in serious risk of being toppled."

"Between December 2002 and February 2003 Downing Street was issuing �threats� at a rate of one a fortnight, backed by briefings from Sir John Stevens of the Metropolitan Police and Mr Blair's security official, Sir David Omand. Each was subtly different, issued by Alastair Campbell at weekends when news was light."

"What devastated Mr Blair's argument - a thing he refused to acknowledge at Sedgefield - was George Bush's determination to go to war after failing to get UN authorisation, and pre-empting the UN's inspectors. Mr Blair's continued pretence that he was really helping the UN is like a lynch mob claiming to be 'helping the judge'. He saw his duty as first and foremost to stick with America, as he once put it, 'to broaden her agenda'. That was his priority and that led him to his present predicament. Not since Suez has Washington so subverted a British prime minister. There was no shred of evidence, even from loyal lawyers and intelligence analysts, to justify Mr Blair joining Mr Bush in pre-empting Hans Blix and his UN team. Mr Blix was a man whose work was later shown by his successor, David Kay, to have been honest and thorough. There was no threat to Britain justifying the pre-emption. Iraq had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to Britain."

"[Blair] abandoned such caution in favour of unilateral regime change. He claimed an urgent need to override any UN consensus and change international law. He wanted what he judges to be 'brutal and oppressive regimes' to be attacked militarily even if not guilty of a 'humanitarian catastrophe'. This is wild stuff... I cannot believe that many even within Mr Blair's entourage would support this scale of ambition. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive intervention, supported by Mr Blair in Iraq, demands that the nation and its armed services put total faith in the analytical and predictive skills of their leaders. Evidence of those skills before Iraq is starkly absent. After the mother of all invasions will shortly come the mother of all memoirs, as insiders tell 'the truth' about Downing Street and the White House last year. I sense it will not be nice."

"The singer George Michael spoke in last Saturday's Daily Telegraph of attending the Blairs' celebrity dinner in their home in 1997. He came away disconcerted, he said, both because of the amount of religion talked and because Mr Blair 'did not seem the smartest man at the table'. Other Blair guests have reached similar conclusions... His self-image has led him into a mire of dodgy dossiers, dodgier law, scare-mongering, spin and sanctimony. The British Prime Minister is simply out of his depth."

Purported al-Qaida statement: "The death squad (of the Abu Hafs Al-Masri Brigades) succeeded in penetrating the crusader European depths and striking one of the pillars of the crusader alliance - Spain - with a painful blow. These bomb attacks were part of settling old scores with the crusader Spain for its war against Islam. Where is America to protect you today, Aznar. Who is going to protect you, Britain, Italy, Japan and other hirelings from us?

"When we hit Italian troops in Nasirya (Iraq) and sent you and other hirelings a warning to withdraw from the alliance against Islam, you did not comprehend our warning – now we have made it clear - we hope that it will be understood this time. We in Abu Hafs al-Masri did not feel sad for the death of the so-called civilians. Is it lawful for them to kill our children, women, elderly and men in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and Kashmir, and is unlawful for us to kill them back?"

"Stop targeting us, release our prisoners, and leave our land, we will stop attacking you. The people of US allied countries have to put pressure on their governments to immediately end their alliance with the US in the war against terror (Islam). If you persist we will also continue… We want to tell you that the Death Smoke squad will reach you soon, and then you will see your dead in their thousands – God willing… This is a warning… We would like to announce to all Muslims in the world that 90% of the preparations of operation "wind of black death" designed to be performed in America has finished, and will be performed soon God willing (at the Mujahideen's convenience). Believers will celebrate the victory of God. Warning to the nation:- Avoid being close to the civil and military installations of America and its allies."

Friday, March 12, 2004

John Pilger Interviewed by ABC: Pilger explains the concept of resistance to an army of occupation, and how successful resistance can deter future aggression. He draws direct parallels to Vichy France, Algeria and Vietnam. He is one of the few voices in the corporate and public media system who is explaining this basic concept. The rest of the media is awash with propaganda about the 'liberation' of Iraq; the 'overthrow of tyranny', and the 'creation of democracy.'

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The Passion of the Christ as a Revenge melodrama: "One of the film's only genuine moments of humanity comes when Mary, struggling to watch her son drag his cross to Golgotha, sees him fall with his burden and land on his knees, and she flashes back: To the moment when Jesus, as a small boy, falls on his face outside their home and lies there; Mary runs to him and picks him up, telling him she's there for him. And so she does the same now.

"Any parent who has run to pick up their fallen child knows this feeling, and they know the dread of seeing their child die before them. Anyone with a glint of human feeling will be struck by this scene. Yet Gibson's Mary is amazingly two-dimensional, a vessel for motherly suffering and little else. And when the film is over, we do not so much feel for her as we identify with her; and identifying with her, we want justice for her. Revenge, if you will."

The scene is a right little tearjerker to be sure but it seems to me the reviewer has missed the message of Jesus: love one another, forgive your enemies, turn the other cheek etc. Jesus' response to Mary effectively demonstrates the nobility of his spirit.

The 'Satan' character seemed entirely superflous if not confusing and could have been deleted. Much has been made of the violence but forewarned is forearmed and the main question is as to realism, whether such a flogging would leave a person capable of walking much less carrying a heavy cross.

Gibson does seem to have adopted a version of the story, not necesarily the most accurate version, which shows the High Priests in the worser light and Pontius Pilate (and his wife) in the better. This does not necessarily diminish the impact of the drama, except that the scene at the end where the Altar is broken betrays a misunderstanding of purpose, a misunderstanding which could indeed feed the anti-semitic spirit. The tiny sect's little battle with Judaism over the legacy of scripture and prophets has unfortunately imparted an enduring stain.

The High Priests were merely collaborators to an occupying power: the ultimate responsibility and the real target of the message was the Roman Empire. Remarkably, the Christians with their message of love and the brotherhood of man (doubtless unfortunately mixed from time to time with doses of resentment, hate, antisemitism, violence, powerlust etc) eventually succeeded in overthrowing the Empire with its shameless doctrines of fascism, war, violence, enslavement and perpetual domination.

The Forgotten Soldiers of Operation "Iraqi Freedom": "The U.S. Air Force confides that it has flown approximately 12,000 wounded soldiers into Andrews Air Force Base over the past 9 months. With the severity of injuries sustained, it seems like the Pentagon's reduced estimates are meant to camouflage a scandal that could cost George Bush his re-election.

"'They come here [to Walter Reed Hospital]19 or 20 old and when I see them leaving with missing limbs - I've seen up to 3 limbs gone off people and I don't think in our generation, we've seen this amount of harm done to young people', explained Major General Delaune on public radio in Minnesota. 'During the Gulf War, there were about 3 soldiers wounded for every death. In the current Iraq war, there are 7 wounded for every death', says an article titled 'New Technologies and Medical Practices Save Lives in Iraq' in a Knight-Ridder newspaper. The facts support this statement: the Kevlar vests the soldiers now wear save lives, not limbs. England's newspaper The Guardian reports that the medical personnel, overwhelmed, work 70-80 hours a week, and according to CBS, Washington's largest military hospital has had to borrow beds from its cancer ward to meet the swollen needs of its prosthetics ward. Still the hospital can't handle the load, and several wounded soldiers are being put up in a nearby hotel."

"At Baghdad International Airport, there were 15 I.E.D.'s every two weeks. Each time there was an explosion, the whole compound would get shut down. The computers and the telephones would go off all of a sudden… And we would know that a soldier had just been killed 'cause they didn't want anyone to be able to reach the family before the Army could."

Interview with "Unknown Soldier" - Speaking Out To Bring Troops Home: "I went to one funeral where I cried the whole time. I don’t normally cry for anything. It takes a lot to make me cry. I was crying because I knew this guy. I talked to him all the time. We used to joke together. He was a Marine. To see him lifeless and know that I would never see him again, that is hard to handle. There’s no need for us to be dying like this."

"Do you feel that the Iraqi insurgency can be defeated militarily? It would take a long time, because we are breeding more of them every day, because of the way we are treating the people. How are they being treated? We kick in their door, take the children and the women and put them in another place. Then we take the men out of the home. And do what with them? We interrogate the men about participation in the insurrection against the United States. What’s that like? I don’t do that."

"Over 100,000 soldiers were offered $10,000 to re-enlist. Hardly anyone took it. I do not want to go back. I will do it if those are my orders, but I do not want to go back. It’s not a winning situation for us. You’re going to lose more people this summer than you did last year, I guarantee it... What do you expect to happen with the large numbers of soldiers coming back from Iraq? Mass exit from the military. Mass!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Chomsky on Haiti: "'The fear of democracy exists, by definitional necessity, in elite groups who monopolize economic and political power,' Bellegarde-Smith observes in his perceptive history of Haiti; whether in Haiti or the US or anywhere else."

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

You Gotta Love Her: Tom Hayden on his ex-wife 'Hanoi Jane' Fonda in the Bush era.

Prosecuting the Cabal - Justin Raimondo: Article with links on the forged Niger uranium documents. Still unknown is who forged the documents and exactly how did they make it all the way to the top?

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Taliban's Second Coming: Marc Herold reviews the war in Afghanistan. The US faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of Taliban guerillas.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Will The End of Oil Mean The End of America?: "The world is quickly running out of oil.... Known reserves are being drawn down at 4 times the rate of new discoveries. The reason for the drop off is that not only have all the “big” discoveries already been made, the rate of consumption is increasing dramatically."

"Perhaps it goes without saying but it deserves repeating anyway: oil is the sine qua non of “industrial” civilization—the one thing without which such civilization cannot exist... When oil is gone, civilization will be stupendously different.. the past 60 years of US policy in the Middle East can only be understood as the effort to control access to the world’s largest supply of oil... Fully 60% percent of the world’s proven reserves of oil are in the Persian Gulf."

"But the provocation occasioned by grabbing the oil, especially from nations ideologically hostile to the US, means that military attacks on the US and the recourse to military responses will only intensify until the US is embroiled in unending global conflict. This is the perverse genius of the Grab the Oil strategy: it comes with its own built-in escalation, its own justification for ever more militarization—without limit. It will blithely consume the entire US economy, the entire society, without being sated. It is, in homage to Orwell, Perpetual War for Perpetual Grease."

"Under the Patriot Act, a person can be arrested without probable cause, held indefinitely without being charged, tried without a lawyer or a jury, sentenced without the opportunity to appeal, and put to death—all without notification of…anybody. This is simply a Soviet Gulag and it has been rationalized by the hysterical over-hyping of the War on Terror. The fact that it is not yet widespread does not diminish the more important fact that it has been put in place precisely in anticipation of such procedures needing to be being carried out on a mass scale in the future... That is the reality we are confronting today—offering up our democracy in propitiation to an Empire for Oil. It will be a fateful, irreversible decision."

The Battle for Water: "Not only is there the same amount of water on the Earth today as there was at the creation of the planet, it's the same water. The next time you're walking in the rain, stop and think that some of the water falling on you ran through the blood of dinosaurs or swelled the tears of children who lived thousands of years ago. While there will always be the same amount of water, we can render water unusable for ourselves and for the planet."

"The world is running out of fresh water. By the year 2025, there will be 2.6 billion more people on Earth than there are today. As many as two-thirds of those people will be living in conditions of serious water shortage, and one-third will be living with absolute water scarcity. Demand for water will exceed availability by 56 percent... The move to privatize water coincides with the rise of the Washington Consensus as the dominant world economic philosophy. This philosophy calls for trade and investment liberalization, and turning responsibility for social programs and resource management over to the private sector. In this case, it is an assault on the ancient commons of water."

"Global trade agreements have become perhaps the most important tool for corporations trading in water and their allies. All of the multinational governing bodies, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), define water as a commodity.... In addition, the push to privatize water services will be greatly enhanced by new rules governing cross-border trade in services at the WTO, known as the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services). Under the proposed GATS rules, not only will governments face added pressures to deregulate and privatize their water systems, but once a city's water services have been taken over by a foreign-based corporation, efforts to take these services back into public hands will invite severe economic penalties under the WTO."

Sending Blair to Prison - by John Laughland: "Following the decision not to prosecute the GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun, the suspicion is that the government will do anything to keep secret the advice submitted to it by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, on the legality of the Iraq war. There is a very simple reason why the government would want to do this. If it turns out that the Iraq war was illegal, then Tony Blair could go to prison.

"In 2000, the United Kingdom ratified the Rome treaty which created the International Criminal Court. In the run-up to the war, therefore, the government was well aware that an illegal war could spark a prosecution against senior ministers. This is why so much emphasis was placed on weapons of mass destruction: without them, the war had no basis in law at all.

"With the failure to find any weapons, Tony Blair's chickens may now be coming home to roost. His government was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the International Criminal Court: he might be one of the first world leaders to be indicted by it. For a group of international lawyers, most of them based in Britain, have written to the Prosecutor of the new Court, asking him to look into allegations that the British government committed war crimes during the invasion of Iraq... [The Americans] recognised that the ICC could indict their own soldiers and leaders, and so they refused to ratify the ICC treaty. Thus there is no question of President Bush being dragged into the international dock."

Anglo-democracy on trial: "All three [Anglo-saxon] governments expected their professional intelligence agencies, legal officers and diplomats to be complicit in the fraud on our democracies and the citizens they were sworn to serve. And the three governments nearly got away with it. That they haven't - yet - is a tribute to a still strong Anglo-democratic system, although one which is at breaking point. [The fact that the war has gone badly is also a reason why they havent got away with it yet]. In all three nations some civil servants resigned privately rather than be infected, others leaked, and still others spoke out on the record. And in all three nations, some politicians and former defence and diplomatic chiefs told the truth and warned of the consequences of following a rogue US President in defiance of world public and expert opinion."

AxisofLogic/ Critical Analysis: Illuminating interview with Karen Kwiatkowski on how the neoconservatives manipulated the Pentagon and Washington iinto war. "[OSP] was more akin to a nerve center for what she now calls a "neoconservative coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon... This was creatively produced propaganda spread not only through the Pentagon, but across a network of policymakers — the State Department, with John Bolton; the Vice President’s Office, the very close relationship the OSP had with that office... this group worked in a coordinated manner, across media and parts of the government, with their neoconservative compadres."

"We knew from many years of both high-level surveillance and other types of shared intelligence, not to mention the information from the U.N., we knew, we knew what was left [from the Gulf War] and the viability of any of that. Bush said he didn’t know. The truth is, we know [Saddam] didn’t have these things. Almost a billion dollars has been spent — a billion dollars! — by David Kay’s group to search for these WMD, a total whitewash effort. They didn’t find anything, they didn’t expect to find anything."

"What exactly drove the neoconservatives to war? ... sanctions were going to be lifted soon, Saddam would still be in place, and we would get no financial benefit.... The second reason has to do with our military-basing posture in the region.... The last reason is the conversion, the switch Saddam Hussein made in the Food for Oil program, from the dollar to the euro."

"I spent 20 years working for something that — at least under this administration — turned out to be something I wasn’t working for. I mean, these people have total disrespect for the Constitution. We swear an oath, military officers and NCOs alike swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. These people have no respect for the Constitution. The Congress was misled, it was lied to. At a very minimum that is a subversion of the Constitution." - another person wakes up to the reality of state/military power.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Why Australia went to war over non-existent WMDs: "The obverse is that, for Australia the war was never really about Australian intelligence, or the disarming of Iraq. It was about the alliance with the US. But the Government could not bring itself to say so.

"Kim Beazley, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee that wrote yesterday's report and a great friend of America, put it this way: for Howard to have abandoned the American charge into Iraq 'would not have killed the US alliance. It has more substance to it than that. The US, however, would have lost his address as firmly as it lost David Lange's back in the 1980s. That was what was at stake,' Beazley said."

Both major parties simply havent got the guts to chart an independent foreign policy for Australia.

Foreign reports used to sell war: "The Federal Government selectively used intelligence to bolster its case for war against Iraq... The findings were in Parliament's intelligence committee report into prewar reports, which also said that the Government went beyond Australian assessments in major addresses to the public on the threats."

"The report, released yesterday, also poses serious questions about the possible politicisation, and effectiveness, of Australia's premier intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments (ONA).... ONA cleared all the major speeches, including those making assertions that went beyond the advice of Australian intelligence agencies. But the "case made by the Government was that Iraq possessed WMD in large quantities and posed a grave and unacceptable threat to the region and the world".

""This is not the picture that emerges from an examination of all the assessments provided to the committee by Australia's two analytical agencies [ONA and the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO)]." Instead, the Prime Minister, John Howard, and senior ministers chose to use more alarming findings by the US and British agencies as it sold the case for war. ONA checked the use of the foreign material to ensure it was quoted accurately, but did not scrutinise the content of the claims to ensure they were true."

Just as the perfect media for modern government is media which reports accurately government pronouncements but does not investigate whether they might be true or not, perfect intelligence checks as to whether dubious 'sources' have been quoted accurately but does not bother with whether or not the statements are true.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Talibn consolidate control of Zabul province: "A convoy of about 20 Honda motorcycles surrounds a house, looking for people who support the United States or President Hamid Karzai. If they find one, they kill him. If not, the householders are beaten to serve as a warning to others. In the village of Shah Joy, about 300 kilometres southwest of Kabul, the return of the Taliban has been swift and harsh, as it is in about one-third of Afghanistan's southern regions where the ousted regime has regrouped and is widely thought to be preparing for a spring offensive against the Karzai government and its U.S. allies."

"Local military officials believe that 700 Taliban fighters — all ethnic Pashtuns — have crossed the border from the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Quetta, where they are trained and funded. The insurgents have offered a motorbike, AK-47 assault rifle and satellite telephone to anyone willing to steal from, rob or bomb a government target."