Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Bremer: The Cut-and-Run Transition: "You won't read this in your daily paper or see it on the nightly prime-time news, but I assure you that what we're witnessing in slow motion is likely to be one of the great imperial defeats in history.

"In 2002, the Bush administration released the National Security Strategy of the United States in which it codified the idea of preventive, not preemptive, war -- if we even think you may be thinking... we'll take you out -- and the idea that our country should feel free to act alone to preserve its unparalleled and historically unique position as sole planetary superpower. It would be the global sheriff ('dead or alive'), the global hyperpower, the planet's military hegemon, 'the New Rome.' It took less than a year for that 'New Rome' label to drop into the ashbin of history; now, the belief that nothing can stay our military might has been shown to be a hollow claim (no matter the destructive power we're capable of raining down on another land)."

Media alternatives: "The problem is illustrated brilliantly in the poet Aryasura's story, The Ruru Deer. Here, Aryasura depicts the mental turmoil of an individual deciding whether he should repay the kindness of a benefactor who saved his life, or betray him for money: "What should I do - follow Virtue or Fortune? Should I uphold the promise to my benefactor rather than the duty to maintain my family? Which is more important, the worldly existence or the heavenly one? Which code should I follow, that of the pious or that of the worldly? Should I taste glory or the modest joy of the anchorite?... Should I strive for riches or the good cherished by the virtuous?

""At last his mind, overcome by greed, came to this conclusion: 'Once I have obtained great wealth, I shall be able to honour my kin and my friends, guests, and beggars; I will gain not only the pleasures of this world, but also happiness in the other." (Aryasura, The Marvelous Companion, Dharma Publishing, 1983, p.253)

"These altruistic thoughts might strike us as admirable. But as Aryasura makes clear, they are a lie, a classic self-deception - in fact the man has been "overcome by greed" and his 'compassionate' thoughts are merely a salve to his conscience. In these few lines, Aryasura - writing many hundreds of years ago - exposes what is completely hidden to many journalists making big money 'trying to change the system from within'- as they try to convince themselves, and us. It is this capacity for self-deception - for lying without consciously realising we are lying - that ultimately lies at the heart of the propaganda system afflicting modern democracies."

"Ideally, the organisation as a whole would be independent of advertisers - it is clearly absurd for a newspaper like the Guardian to be dependent for 75% of its revenue on corporate advertising promoting greed. What could more clearly compromise the honesty of media reporting? Media should be primarily dependent on individual subscribers providing for minimum overheads, perhaps funding from large corporate organisations should be disallowed. This is obviously a problem for large print media as printing and distribution costs are high, necessitating reliance on wealthy owners, parent companies, again firmly tying the media into the corporate system."

"The point being that the internet +does+ constitute a revolutionary change in the mass media - the power of non-corporate journalism has increased by orders of magnitude in the last ten or fifteen years. It is easy to forget just how enormous the change has been.... Now, our inboxes are flooded on a daily basis with instant responses by dozens of brilliant mainstream and dissident journalists all over the world. Informed and articulate posters provide instant commentary on our message boards generating vibrant debates and floods of emails to the likes of David Aaronovitch, Melanie Phillips and Nick Cohen. This, frankly, is the worst nightmare of state-corporate propagandists seeking to control the public mind."

Tony Fitzgerald: Howard a 'radical': "Other measures which I would describe as inhumane and dehumanizing include giving children ( and their parents) a number which they must wear at all times and by which they are known and called; not allowing parents to take any photos of their babies born in detention have no photos recording their growth and development, something most parents take for granted.

"That a society which calls itself civilized continues to countenance the prolonged and indeterminate detention of children in conditions closely resembling those of a high security prison , shocks me profoundly. That this society is Australia, saddens and angers me more than I can say."

Iraq Regime Change a Sham, Say Mideast Experts: "Despite the positive responses Monday from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and members of the Security Council who praised the U.S. 'transfer of sovereignty' to an interim government in Iraq, Middle East experts and political analysts dismiss the regime change in Baghdad as a 'monumental fraud'.

"'The truth is that Iraqi sovereignty is a sham,' says Rahul Mahajan, publisher of the blog and author of 'Full Spectrum: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond'. The United States will keep at least 138,000 troops in Iraq (augmented by about 20,000 from other countries) for the forseeable future, he said. Fourteen permanent or semi-permanent military bases have been and are being constructed to house them, said Mahajan, who returned recently from a trip to Iraq.

"'Those forces have, by an eleventh hour edict of Paul Bremer (head of the former U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority), complete immunity from Iraqi law and Iraqi courts,' he added. The role of the new interim government in Baghdad has been reduced to 'advice' and 'consultation'. 'This is, and remains, a direct military occupation,' Mahajan told IPS. He said the level of control that the United States retains 'is just short of full colonial administration'."

"An edict signed by Bremer also gives U.S. and Western defense contractors complete immunity from Iraqi law. Additionally, Bremer created and appointed an electoral commission that can ban political parties; gave five-year terms to the new hand-picked national security adviser and national intelligence chief; and appointed inspectors-general with five-year terms over every one of the 26 Iraqi government ministries. Last month, the U.N. Special Representative in Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi described Bremer as "the dictator of Iraq". "Nothing happens without his agreement in this country," Brahimi said."

Compare this obvious reality with the immense corporate media blather over 'transfer of sovereignty'.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Sovereignty Without Substance - by Juan Cole: "Paul Bremer suddenly left Iraq on Monday, having 'transferred sovereignty' to the caretaker Iraqi government two days early.

"It is hard to interpret this move as anything but a precipitous flight. It is just speculation on my part, but I suspect that the Americans must have developed intelligence that there might be a major strike on the Coalition Provisional Headquarters on Wednesday if a formal ceremony were held to mark a transfer of sovereignty. Since the U.S. military is so weak in Iraq and appears to have poor intelligence on the guerrilla insurgency, the Bush administration could not take the chance that a major bombing or other attack would mar the ceremony.

"The surprise move will throw off all the major news organizations, which were planning intensive coverage of the ceremonies originally planned for Wednesday. This entire exercise is a publicity stunt and has almost no substance to it. Gwen Ifill said on U.S. television on Sunday that she had talked to Condoleezza Rice, and that her hope was that when something went wrong in Iraq, the journalists would now grill Allawi about it rather than the Bush administration. (Or words to that effect). Ifill seems to me to have given away the whole Bush show. That's what this whole thing is about. It is public relations and manipulation of journalists. Let's see if they fall for it."

They've already 'fallen' for it big time. The 'transfer of sovereignty' along with the 'building of democracy' are essential myths that the corporate media wont touch, just as it wont touch the reality that the US will continue to occupy the country with over 130,000 troops, build permanent bases and dominate the oil resources. The real 'transfer of sovereignty' is from Paul Bremer to John Negroponte.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Democracy Itself is in Grave Danger: Another very good speech by Al Gore plainly stating the danger to the American Republic.

Genius of Bin Laden: 'War on terror' is a disaster: another intelligence official relates the obvious: "Bin Laden is motivated and his followers and his associates are motivated by what they believe their religion requires them to do. And until we accept that fact and stop identifying them as gangsters or terrorists or criminals, we're very much behind the curve. Their power will wax our costs in treasure, and blood will also wax."

Mitchell: "But isn't it a distortion of Islam, what they espouse? How can you say that this is the Muslim belief to attack us and to wage war against us?"

Anonymous: "I'm certainly not an expert and neither am I a Muslim. I think the appeal that bin Laden has across the Muslim — I indeed think he's probably the only heroic figure, the only leadership figure that exists in the Islamic world today, and he does so because he is defending Muslims, Islamic lands, Islamic resources. From his perspective it's very much a war against someone who is oppressing or killing Muslims.

"And the genius that lies behind it, because he's not a man who rants against our freedoms, our liberties, our voting, our — the fact that our women go to school. He's not the Ayatollah Khomeini; he really doesn't care about all those things. To think that he's trying to rob us of our liberties and freedom is, I think, a gross mistake. What he has done, his genius, is identify particular American foreign policies that are offensive to Muslims whether they support these martial actions or not — our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian Peninsula, our activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims, be it India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan. Bin Laden has focused the Muslim world on specific, tangible, visual American policies.

Mitchell: "Well, you say in your book that the reality is that there is a large and growing among the world's 1.3 billion Muslims against America, not because of a misunderstanding of America but because they understand our policies very well."

Anonymous: "That's exactly right. I certainly believe that, and I think the substantial amount of polling that's been done by the Pew Trust and by other very reputable pollsters in the Islamic world indicate that most of the Islamic world believes they know exactly what we're up to, and that's to deny the Palestinians a country, to make sure that oil flows at prices that may seem outrageous to the American consumer, but are not market prices in the Islamist's eyes, supporting Russia against Chechnya. I think very coolly bin Laden has focused them on substance rather than rhetoric. And his rhetoric is only powerful because that is the case. He's focused them on U.S. policies."

"Mitchell: "You call the invasion of Iraq, ‘an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat.’ Why do you think so?"

Anonymous: "For several reasons. That was a passage cut from a larger passage where I describe my personal aversion to aggressive war, to the war started by the United States. And I tried to draw an analogy between our war against Mexico in the 19th century and just saying it is not part of the American character or our basic sense of decency to wage wars except in self-defense or preemption.

"The major problem with the Iraq war is that it distracted us from the war against terrorism. But more importantly, it allowed—it made us invade, or it caused us to invade a country that's the second holiest place in Islam. It's not really the same as the Russians invading Afghanistan in 1979. Afghanistan is an Islamic country, but it was far from the mainstream of world Islam.

"Iraq, however, for both Sunnis and Shias, is the second holiest place in the Islamic world. And to invade that country, on the face of it, is a great offense to Islam and an action which almost entirely validated bin Laden's assertions about what the United States intended vis-à-vis the Islamic world."

"And there seems to be very little opposition to him within the Muslim world, and that's why I think that our assumption that he distorts Islam is just that, it's analysis by assertion. I'm not sure it's quite accurate."

* This is an interesting analysis except that it is not a 'mistake' to state that bin laden 'hates our freedoms' - that is rather a deliberate lie. Also it is not a 'war on terror' - that also is a deliberate lie. The war on Iraq (and on Afghanistan) is a calculated act of imperialism and aggression, with terror as the essential pretext, which knowingly increased the risk of future terrorist retaliation. It is true however that bin laden is the strategic 'genius' - either that or else Bush and the neocons are strategic morons with their hubris and military/imperial incompetence.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Water: Blue Gold: "There are untold profits to be made from controlling the simplest and most vital ingredient of our survival: water. The only question, from a profit standpoint, is why it has taken this long."

"The "water rush" is likely to turn into one of the most volatile and potentially galvanizing issues of the 21st century. "This is an incredible struggle, and yet it's still so far below the radar that we're trying to give it a voice," Kaufman says. "People are already willing to die for [water], but it's something that many of us still take for granted." The grab for corporate control of water is indeed already here in our own backyards."

Juan Cole: Urban demonstrations could force US out: "The guerrillas in Iraq are hoping to provoke big, frequent demonstrations by the urban crowd. If elections are not held in January, or if they are widely felt to be unfair or stage-managed-- and if US troops overstay their welcome, we could well see the big crowds start coming out. The big threat for the US is if dissatisfaction with the situation and with the US presence becomes generalized in both the Shiite and the Sunni communities. If Grand Ayatollah Sistani and Sunni cleric Hareth al-Dhari both call for the crowds to come out, you could have hundreds of thousands in the streets."

"This worst case scenario will very possibly come to pass if 1) the US troops overstay their welcome and continue to act heavy-handedly (a repeat of April's twin sieges of Fallujah and Najaf would be fatal), if 2) the January elections are postponed or perceived as deeply flawed, and if 3) both Sunni and Shiite leaders beyond the small circle of the guerrillas call for massive demonstrations. I'd give 50/50 odds of this kind of urban crowd revolution happening in Iraq sometime in the next two years."

Antony Lowenstein butchers the corporate media, for those still making the mistake of taking it seriously: The most interesting aspect of this article is that it is published by the Sydney Morning Herald (in Margo Kingston's Webdiary, but presumably not in the print edition).

"The role of The Australian newspaper in pushing the war agenda was essential. Like every other Murdoch newspaper around the world, dutifully pushing their master's wishes, the mogul said in early 2003: "We can't back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam.... I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly, and I think he is going to go on with it." Putting to one side the factual inaccuracy of his statement (Saddam has held little strategic influence over the Middle East for at least a decade), Murdoch's pro-war and pro-business agenda was mirrored in The Australian's coverage. Apart from bullying and foreboding editorials regarding Iraq's supposed WMD, Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan deserves special mention for hyping up Iraq's supposed threat. No other Australian journalist produced more fawning attention to the claims churned out by Bush, Blair and Howard, though stable-mate Paul Kelly was also competitive. Virtually all of his claims have subsequently been proven false and yet no apology has been forthcoming. Likewise from the paper's editorial staff. This kind of short-term memory loss journalism is undermining the public's trust in the media's ability to report accurately and transparently. This behaviour should not be considered responsible reporting - it is nothing more than lies and arrogance dressed up in sanctimonious chest beating."

"Nobody wanted a war against Iraq more than Ahmad Chalabi, and the biggest paper in the US (The New York Times) gave it to him almost as willingly as the White House did.... "This brings us to the now popular scapegoat for the fictions about WMDs, touted by Times editors, by other reporters and by US intelligence agencies. It was all the fault of the smooth-tongued Ahmed Chalabi, now fallen from grace and stigmatized as a cat's-paw of Iranian intelligence. But was there ever a moment when Chalabi's motives and the defectors he efficiently mass-produced should not have been questioned by experienced reporters, editors and intelligence analysts?""

"Noam Chomsky calls it Manufacturing Consent. He writes that the mass media "serves to mobilize support for the special interests that dominate the state and private activity and that their choices, emphases, and omissions can often be understood best, and sometimes with striking clarity and insight, by analyzing them in such terms. Perhaps this is an obvious point, but the democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that they do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish to perceive it." The New York Times is exactly the kind of newspaper Chomsky argues is incapable of seeing its inherent biases and slavish love of power. The newspaper's virtually unqualified reporting of Bush administration lies over Iraq is ample evidence of this thesis."

"By November 4, the Herald expressed its concerns about the lack of WMD, but along with the majority of Western media, still held Bush administration claims for Iraq as believable and achievable: "The US has not wavered from its commitment to see Iraq rebuilt and power transferred to a stable democratic government", it offered. The facts overwhelm that the US has never wanted a real democracy in the Middle East, despite the vast rhetoric, but rather a manageable dictator or strongman to control the country's oil reserves and the continual presence of US forces. It appears inconceivable to the Herald that the US government's aims for Iraq should be questioned. After the lies of Iraq's non-existent WMD and links to al-Qaeda, why do Leader writers continue accepting Western governments' comments as essentially decent and good?"

"Once again, on March 19, the Herald continued the idea that Iraq may become a democracy in the heart of the Middle East - exactly echoing the propaganda of Bush, Blair and Howard. As the three leaders' spin shifted from WMD and al-Qaeda to Iraqi 'democracy', so did the mainstream press. "One year on, the justification for the war is not the justification for starting it. Instead it is the hope that by toppling Saddam, Iraq might become a template for a new, stable Middle East." The evidence against this is profound, from polls conducted in the region to US Army Generals to average Iraqis themselves. And yet newspapers still prefer to live in a reality created for them by their government "masters"."

US tortured Afghanistan detainees: "Detainees held in Afghanistan by American troops have been routinely tortured and humiliated as part of the interrogation process, in the same way as those in Iraq, a Guardian investigation has found. Five detainees have died in custody, three of them in suspicious circumstances, and survivors have told stories of beatings, strippings, hoodings and sleep deprivation. The nature of the alleged abuse indicates that what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was part of a pattern of interrogation that has been common practice since the US invasion of Afghanistan."

Commission banks on falling prices to boost market: "Falling house prices will open the market to more first-time buyers while people who bought property recently will be hurt as their homes decline in value, the Productivity Commission has found.

"In its report on housing affordability, the commission says strategic planning of land releases and streamlining of building approvals could improve housing affordability for first home buyers. The report also gives the NSW Government a tick of approval for reforms that broadened land tax and gave stamp duty relief to first-time buyers. The commission said the median house price in Australia was now nine times the average income, up from six times at the beginning of the upswing in the mid 1990s. Price corrections would improve affordability in due course, though it would disadvantage those who had recently bought homes."

Tax breaks for investors put brakes on first home buyers: "The tax treatment of property, especially the Coalition Government's decision to halve capital gains tax in 1999, has encouraged property speculation by the wealthy at the expense of those wanting a first home. The Productivity Commission is not alone in questioning tax breaks for property investors. Earlier this month the Reserve Bank Governor, Ian Macfarlane, said tax laws relating to investment properties were being 'interpreted too leniently'.

"'We think about forms of negative gearing which appear to be so contrived and so unlikely ever to make any cash flow and are still permitted. We think those should have been addressed,' he said. There are several reasons why both the Government and Labor are ignoring the concerns being raised.

"The growing pool of small investors who would be affected, especially landlords, would be incensed. About one in seven households have an investment property, easily the highest ratio in the developed world. Federal Labor would face a massive scare campaign if it proposed any changes to property related taxes. It seems the best hope for those struggling to buy a first home is for a big fall in prices."

Its a zero sum game: it can no more be the case that everyone is an 'investor' with tenants paying them rent than everyone can be a slaveholder with slaves doing their work for them. Somebody has to be the tenant/slave.

As housing becomes unaffordable, both major parties reject reforms: "The Federal Government has rejected a recommendation by the Productivity Commission to review the effect of the tax system on the housing market after it blamed capital gains tax discounts and negative gearing for inflating prices.

"The commission's report, ordered by the Government last August and released yesterday, said the interaction between negative gearing, the halving of capital gains tax in 1999 and high marginal tax rates had helped fuel house price rises beyond what could be explained by other factors. It said a review should focus on the capital gains tax but also assess the impact of negative gearing - where investors gain a tax break when their interest costs exceed rental income - and the capital works deduction provision for buildings.

"'Interactions between negative gearing, capital works deductions, post-1999 capital gains provisions and marginal income tax rates have lent impetus to investment demand during the housing boom,' the report said. The proportion of first-home borrowers has fallen recently to record lows of about 12 per cent of all home borrowers, as the boom has put a first home even further out of reach. The frenzy of residential property investment has been blamed for locking out first-home buyers."

"The commission said the surge in house prices since the mid-1990s has been bigger than previous booms and affordability had plummeted. Prices had overshot and future "softening of prices" was inevitable, with serious consequences for some investors. "For investors with a large number of heavily geared properties, the financial consequences could be severe, even requiring the forced sale of the family home."

"Mr Costello also rejected the commission's recommendation to target the first-home buyers' grant at low-income earners. The commission said the bulk of the payouts - $7000 to all first-time buyers - goes to households with above-average incomes. "Assistance should be targeted to the housing needs of lower income households by restricting the eligibility," it said. The commission also called for a national inquiry to examine the housing needs of low-income earners, but Mr Costello said this was not required and that the Government provided "significant resources to address the housing needs of low-income households". The commission said stamp duty on properties was inefficient and should be replaced by more efficient levies such as land tax."

"Labor would "carefully consider" the report but, like Mr Costello, had ruled out any changes to capital gains tax or negative gearing."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Billmon on Bush and the Big Lie re Saddam-Al Qaeda link: "What the gang seems to be doing here is testing the outside of the Orwellian envelope a little bit, to see if they can get away with such a flagrant display of 'up-is-downism.' I don't think I've ever seen such an utterly naked ploy from these guys before. Perhaps they've stumbled, wittingly or unwittingly, across the same insight Joseph Goebbels had all those years ago: The bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be accepted, since the audience will be reluctant to believe its leaders would tell them such a monstrous untruth. (In this case I have to assume the audience in question is the GOP faithful and that tiny sliver of undecided voters in the middle. Everybody on our side of the partisan divide already realizes there is no lie too big for this administration to tell, and they know we know.)"

Rumsfeld torture memo articulates the Fuhrer principle for the Whitehouse: "The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority as commander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogation, up to and including torture, the report argued... To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president.""

"[ex-CIA agent Ray McGovern warned] The key question for the next five months, then, becomes how far the administration will go. An elevated threat level justifying martial law and postponement of the election? No doubt such suggestions will seem too alarmist to those trusting that there is a moral line, somewhere, that the president and his senior advisers would not cross. I regret very much to note that their behavior over the past three years leaves me doubtful that there is such a line."

Seymour Hersh analyses implications of Kurdish situation: "A former Israeli intelligence officer said that Israel’s leadership had concluded by then that the United States was unwilling to confront Iran; in terms of salvaging the situation in Iraq, he said, “it doesn’t add up. It’s over. Not militarily—the United States cannot be defeated militarily in Iraq—but politically.”"

"As they saw it, their warnings and advice had been ignored, and the American war against the insurgency was continuing to founder. “I spent hours talking to the senior members of the Israeli political and intelligence community,” the former official recalled. “Their concern was ‘You’re not going to get it right in Iraq, and shouldn’t we be planning for the worst-case scenario and how to deal with it?’”

"Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, who supported the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, took it upon himself at this point to privately warn Vice-President Dick Cheney that America had lost in Iraq; according to an American close to Barak, he said that Israel “had learned that there’s no way to win an occupation.” The only issue, Barak told Cheney, “was choosing the size of your humiliation.”"

"Several officials depicted Sharon’s decision [to intervene in Kurdistan], which involves a heavy financial commitment, as a potentially reckless move that could create even more chaos and violence as the insurgency in Iraq continues to grow.... A top German national-security official said in an interview that “an independent Kurdistan with sufficient oil would have enormous consequences for Syria, Iran, and Turkey” and would lead to continuing instability in the Middle East—no matter what the outcome in Iraq is.... [a European official] added that, at the start of the American invasion of Iraq, several top European officials had told their counterparts in Iran, “You will be the winners in the region.”"

Monday, June 21, 2004

Howard defends war on Iraq as 'war on terror': "But we also need to understand that this contest in Iraq represents a critical confrontation in the war against terror. We recognise this and so do our enemies. I find it astonishing when people claim that Iraq is a diversion from the real war against terrorism."

* I find astonishing the boldness and crookedness of Howard's position. It is plainly obvious and has been confirmed by one intelligence expert after another that the war on Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism but only increased the recruiting efforts of Al-Qaeda and diminished the safety and security of the peoples of the nations that took part in the unprovoked aggression.

"The reality is that international terrorism has invested an enormous amount in breaking the will of the coalition in Iraq."

The reverse is the case. Reports on Al-Qaeda have it that they are not focussing on Iraq, but on other countries. The resistance in Iraq is not 'terrorism' but an anti-colonialist insurgency.

"Not only are organisations associated with al Qaeda operating in Iraq but each and every turn of the Iraq struggle is interpreted by spokesmen for international terrorism as part of the ongoing campaign against the United States and her allies."

Certainly it is true that the unprovoked aggression against Iraq based on a pretext of transparent lies has been an enormous propaganda & recruiting boost for Bin Laden. His statements and positions demonstrate more credibility than the crude lies and deceptions of Bush/Blair/Howard.

"Whatever may have been the origins of the horrific attack in Madrid, al Qaeda and its associates opportunistically associated that attack with Spain’s participation in the military operation in Iraq. The terrorists have recorded Spain’s subsequent decision to withdraw from Iraq in the victory column against the West."

Spain's withdrawal from the war is a victory for the Spanish people, who finally got their governemnt to adhere to their clear wishes not to participate in this criminal and immoral enterprise; a victory for the people of Iraq who can look forward to the ultimate defeat of the invasion; and a victory against terrrorism, which must be combated by police action and addressing of grievances, not by war.

"With that in mind it is incontestable that a failure of will in Iraq by the coalition would be seen as an enormous propaganda victory for international terrorism. A victory with far reaching consequences."

The victory will not be a victory of 'terrorism' but a victory of indigenous resistance against colonialist invasion, occupation and exploitation. Howard's transparent ideological tactic is to conflate anti-colonialist indigenous resistance with 'terrorism'.

"Any weakening or retreat by the coalition in Iraq will not appease the terrorists. Those who imagine that respite from future terrorist attacks can be purchased by withdrawing or temporising could not be more wrong."

The defeat and retreat of the colonialist invaders will certainly reduce the incidence of attacks on the occupiers. Just as when the US withdrew from Vietnam casualties fell among US soldiers, so when the invaders withdraw from Iraq it is obvious the violence will diminish against them.

"International terrorism is an enemy of Australia because of who we are, not what we have done."

This is the fairy tale that is the essential ideological prop of the phony 'war on terror'. In reality it is Western colonialist and imperialist intervention in the Middle East region in pursuit or hegemony over the energy reserves that is the obvious cause of anti-Western rhetoric and violence (termed 'blowback' by Chalmers Johnson).

Howard to the end of his days will repeat this nonsense and will never be able to speak the truth: that the war on Iraq was a crime based on a pretext of massive lies which predictably increased the threat of terrorism against the invading countries, and that the real reasons for the war were and are to establish permanent military bases and to dominate the oil region of the Middle East.

Wilkie: Howard knew reasons for war: "The book, which has been vetted by the Attorney-General's Department and had some details censored on national security grounds, also states that:

* Australian agencies gathered intelligence on the US Administration and reported that allegations of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorists were not the main reasons it wanted to invade Iraq.

* The Opposition was deliberately misled during briefings by intelligence agencies in the lead-up to the war, with facts undermining the Government's position omitted.

* The Government knowingly presented false intelligence to the public that exaggerated the threat that Saddam Hussein posed."

""Mr Howard and Alexander Downer knew exactly why the US was going to war and that terrorism and WMD was not the most important part of the reason," Mr Wilkie said. The US wanted to gain control of oil reserves, reinforce its global power ascendancy, respond to domestic political considerations after the September 11 attacks and influence the shape of the Middle East, he said. Confidential US Administration information was obtained from sources and contacts, then communicated back to Australia in diplomatic cables, he said.

"By late 2002, the ONA had determined that the US had already decided to invade Iraq, the book states. Repeated claims by the Howard Government that its WMD case against Iraq accurately reflected the views of national intelligence agencies were "plainly wrong", Mr Wilkie said. In 2002, the ONA knew that evidence that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear program with uranium purchases from Africa was false. The agency also knew that any WMD capacity held by Iraq was limited and there was no hard evidence to show Saddam was "weaponising"."

These high level revelations only confirm what was pretty obvious to any observer throughout the buildup to war. Perhaps the most striking thing about them however is that despite the ammunition they provide, the oppositioin will not go on the attack but continues to be on the defensive about 'supporting the alliance.' One wonders whether Latham is making an error in his softly-softly approach.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Betrayal of Dissent: "I was struck, especially after 9-11, by writers who claimed to be protecting the “Left” by tarring those who questioned US foreign policy as naï ve, deluded, or dangerous. I think immediately of Thomas Friedman, Leon Wieseltier (sp?), Michael Kelly, Todd Gitlin, Michael Walzer, and George Packer, claiming moral and political authority by hanging the “extremist” placard around the necks of dissidents who raised issues over the rush to war."

It strikes me as ludicrous to describe people like Thomas Friedman as 'leftist'. The corporate media and its hired hacks is simply not worth reading - if you are reading it there is your mistake. It was long ago pointed out by Chomsky how the system works - the so-called 'liberal' press performs a crucial propaganda function by indicating the limits of the debate. That is its only function. Once you have perceived that the game is up and none of it can be taken seriously.

The only interest is, rather like the study of Kremlinology, how far what the media is saying indicates the thinking of the ruling elite. A prime example is the huge media ding-dong about torture and Abu Ghraib. The significance of the leaks and the massive media exposure of this event is not the fact of torture (that could hardly come as any surprise to anyone who was paying attention or who has a clue about the nature of war and occupation) but the serious dissension among the US elite about the incompetent conduct of the war and Bush's whole policy, which is regarded as risky and dangerous even within the constraints of imperialist/colonialist thinking. Had the war been a success in its own terms, there would never have been this kind of negative media. The deepening crisis for the United States, however, is what if the ruling clique refuses to play by the established rules? Damn the media and the 'liberals', we've decided we're staying in power.

Global warming: it is real and it is serious: "Up to 64% of China's glaciers are projected to disappear by 2050, putting at risk up to a quarter of the country's population who are dependent on the water released from those glaciers. Today in the Arctic, ice thickness has declined by over 40% and "an area larger than the Netherlands is disappearing every year." According to scientists, Arctic sea ice could melt entirely by the end of the century.

"Ice cores from Svalbard glaciers in the Arctic region show that the twentieth century was "by far the warmest century" in the last 800 years. Between 1998 and 2001, the Qori Kalis glacier in Peru has retreated an average of 155 meters annually -- a rate three times faster than the average yearly retreat for the previous three years, and thirty-two times faster than the average yearly retreat from 1963 to 1978.

"Just southeast of Mount Everest in the Himalayan Khumbu Range of Eastern Nepal, the Imja Glacier has been retreating at a rate of close to 10 meters annually. It is but one among many glaciers currently in rapid retreat. According to Syed Iqbal Hasnain of the International Commission for Snow and Ice, "Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world. If the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high." Over two billion people depend on the glacier-fed flow of the rivers from the Himalayan mountains. In Patagonia, ice fields have lost 42 cubic kilometers of ice every year for the last seven years, equivalent to the volume of ten thousand large football stadiums. The scientific journal Nature published this year the findings of 19 eminent biological scientists. Climate change, they concluded, will "commit to extinction" 18% to 35% of all land-based animal and plant species.""

"Resources from the sun, the tides, the waves, geothermal power -- all these are waiting to be harnessed; waiting, despite the enormity of the danger confronting us, because the resources that should be used to tap their regenerative power economically remain dedicated to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. A planetary betrayal.

"We all know what the problem is: burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil along with the unsustainable and inequitable use of our planet's resources. And we know what we have to do. We must generate our energy from clean, safe, renewable resources and use our energy in a sustainable way. Because there really is no other way. The measurable, time-bound development of renewable energy based on real and ambitious targets, matched with deep, rapid cuts in CO2 emissions -- this is what's needed today if we are to save the global commons from devastating climate-change impacts."

War on Iraq: Here Come the Death Squad Veterans: "If José Miguel Pizarro has his way, he will recruit 30,000 Chileans as mercenaries to protect American companies under Pentagon contract to rebuild Iraq. And undoubtedly, within those ranks will be former members of death squads that tortured and murdered civilians when dictatorships ruled in Latin America."

""Blackwater USA has sent recruiters to Chile, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Guatemala for one specific reason alone," said an intelligence officer in Kuwait who requested anonymity. "All these countries experienced dirty wars and they have military men well-trained in dealing with internal subversives. They are well-versed in extracting confessions from prisoners." As the security situation in Iraq deteriorated in the spring of 2004, more "dedicated recruiting" began."

Pilger: How To Silence An Awkward Newspaper: "The editor of the Daily Mirror, Britain's most famous mass-circulation newspaper, was sacked because he ran the only English-language popular paper to expose the 'war on terror' as a fraud and the invasion of Iraq as a crime. He was marked long before the Mirror published the notorious, apparently faked pictures of British troops torturing Iraqi prisoners."

"A senior executive of the New York investment company Tweedy Browne, major shareholders in the Trinity Mirror newspaper group, called the Mirror and shouted down the phone at senior management, demanding [the editor] Morgan's head and mine. This pressure continued as the Murdoch press in the United States and other lunar right-wing papers and broadcasters railed against the "treacherous" Mirror.... Was corporate influence on the press, and its right to be wrong, ever more eloquently expressed? Morgan had only just survived a year earlier when a new Trinity Mirror senior management under the chief executive, Sly Bailey, ordered him to "tone down" the anti-war coverage and return the paper to celebrities and faithless royal butlers (who had never departed). In the following months, the Mirror, along with the other anti-war daily newspaper in Britain, the Independent, was vindicated. Today, Bush and Blair are universally distrusted and reviled, and the defeat of their atrocious enterprise seems assured."

"The collusion of the respectable media in the epic crime in Iraq is rarely discussed.... Charles Lewis, a former CBS star reporter and now director of the Centre for Public Integrity, told me that had the media "fulfilled their unique constitutional role and challenged the administration's lies, such as those tying Iraq to al-Qaeda, there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war"."

Our First Victory Was Zapatero: "The United States faces a real crisis. It's not just the military failure of Bush's policies in Iraq or the discrediting of our armed forces and intelligence agencies as corrupt, incompetent, and criminal. It is above all our international isolation and disgrace because of our contempt for the rule of law."

"The point is that the torture scandals at Abu Ghraib prison, Chalabigate, CIA Director Tenet's resignation, war profiteering by Cheney's Halliburton Corporation, and other recent events have so discredited the United States that we have only the choice of getting out or being thrown out. The Iraq war is very possibly the most serious self-inflicted wound in the history of American foreign policy. It was caused by American imperialism and militarism."

"According to the Pentagon's annual inventory of real estate -- its so-called Base Structure Report -- we have over 725 military bases in some 132 countries around the world. This vast network of American bases constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of military enclaves rather than of colonies as in older forms of imperialism. Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we maintain some thirteen carrier task-forces, which constitute floating bases."

"Today, we have a professional, permanent standing army that costs around three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year -- that is, about $750 billion. This amount includes the annual Defense Department appropriation for weapons and salaries of $427 billion, another $75 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, $20 billion for nuclear weapons funded by the Department of Energy, and at least $200 billion in pensions and disability payments for our veterans. We are not paying for these expenses but putting them on the tab. Since we are today running the largest governmental and trade deficits in modern economic history, our militarism threatens us with bankruptcy.

"The two most famous warnings about militarism in our history came from two prominent generals who became presidents. The first was by George Washington in his Farewell Address of September 1796. He wrote, "Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty."

"In The Sorrows of Empire I devote the final chapter to the likely consequences of our imperialism and militarism: perpetual war, the end of the Republic, official lying and disinformation, and bankruptcy. I document how advanced these are in our society.... Having said all this, let me nonetheless end by noting that the political system may not be capable of saving the Republic. It is hard to imagine that any president of either party could stand up to the powerful vested interests surrounding the Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies. Given that 40% of the defense budget is secret and that all of the intelligence agencies' budgets are secret, it is impossible for Congress to do effective oversight of them even if it wanted to."

Doctrines and Visions: Who Is to Run The World, and How?, by Noam Chomsky: "From the point of view of government planners, the ranking of priorities is entirely rational. Terror might kill 1000s of Americans; that much has been clear since the attempt by US-trained jihadis to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. But that is not very important in comparison with establishing the first secure military bases in a dependent client state at the heart of the world's major energy reserves - 'a stupendous source of strategic power' and an incomparable 'material prize,' as high officials recognized in the 1940s, if not before. Zbigniew Brzezinski writes that 'America's security role in the region' - in plain English, its military dominance - 'gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region.' As Brzezinski knows well, concern that Europe and Asia might move on an independent course is the core problem of global dominance today, and has been a prime concern for many years. Fifty years ago, the leading planner George Kennan observed that control of the stupendous source of strategic power gives the US 'veto power' over what rivals might do. Thirty years ago, Europe celebrated the Year of Europe, in recognition of its recovery from wartime destruction. Henry Kissinger gave a 'Year of Europe' address, in which he reminded his European underlings that their responsibility is to tend to their 'regional responsibilities' within the 'overall framework of order' managed by the US."

"Why, then, should there be any surprise that terror should be downgraded in favor of the invasion of Iraq? Or that Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld-Cheney and associates were pressuring the intelligence community to come up with some shreds of evidence to justify invasion, Blair and Straw as well: Iraqi links to terror, WMD, anything would do. It is rather striking that as one after another pretext collapses, and the leadership announces a new one, commentary follows dutifully along, always conspicuously avoiding the obvious reason, which is virtually unmentionable. Among Western intellectuals, that is; not in Iraq. US polls in Baghdad found that a large majority assumed that the motive for the invasion was to take control of Iraq's resources and reorganize the Middle East in accord with US interests."

BUSH AND BLAIR AND HIGHER TRUTHS: Selection of newspaper articles contrasts the official finding of the 9/11 commission (that Saddam/Iraq was not involved in 9/11) with the massive and continued lying of the Bush/Blair administrations. A poll found in late April that 49% of Americans believed in the link.

This is a "stress position": Some new photos from the Abu Ghraib prison.

Neocon plans on track: next conquest - Saudi Arabia: "Before the war in Iraq, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, told me that by invading Iraq the Bush administration would accelerate the spread of Al Qaeda-style movements in Saudi Arabia, and it’s happening. The country is said to be in a state of incipient civil war, and the royal family is apparently unable to stem the spread of the bin Ladenite poison. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States has called on the kingdom to conduct an all-out war against the terrorists, but it could be too little, too late. Make no mistake, however: if Saudi Arabia falls to radicals, U.S. forces will occupy that country’s oil fields faster than you can say “imperialism.” And if that happens, it will be Phase 2 of the neocons’ expanded plans for the Middle East: first topple Saddam and “flatten Iraq,” as another former ambassador to Saudi Arabia described the essence of the neocon Iraq strategy, and then move on to Saudi Arabia.

"“I’ve stopped warning that bin Laden might take over Saudi Arabia,” Akins told me last year. “I think that’s exactly what they want.” And then American forces would move in. No U.S. government could tolerate the collapse of Saudi Arabia. Oil experts are already pointing out that sources of oil outside Saudi Arabia and Iraq are rapidly being drained, meaning that those two countries are basically the only two sources of expanded future supply. Period."

The empire has a critical decision to make: either pull out or go in deeper. It is already facing the prospect of defeat in the Middle East, and to go in deeper would risk a defeat of even greater magnitude, a stupendous and irreversible strategic defeat. But no one among the American elite seems to be calling for withdrawal, so the logic of it is inevitable.

News: "The Bush administration's last remaining justification for the invasion of Iraq has been demolished by a private poll revealing that only 2 per cent of Iraqis regard the occupying forces as liberators. President Bush, giving a pep-talk to American soldiers in Florida yesterday, said: "We have come not to conquer, but to liberate people and we will stand with them until their freedom is secure.""

"Only 2 per cent of the Iraqis polled in mid-May see coalition troops as liberators, while 92 per cent said they were occupiers. In a crumb of comfort for the coalition, only 3 per cent expressed support for Saddam Hussein. A total of 54 per cent believed that all Americans behaved like the guards at Abu Ghraib. But 71 per cent of those polled in face-to-face interviews in six Iraqi cities said they were surprised by the guards' behaviour.

"Safety and security emerged as a major concern for the population in general, as nearly half of Iraqis said they felt unsafe in their neighbourhoods. Asked whether they would feel safer if the 138,000 US troops left immediately, 55 per cent agreed, nearly double the 28 per cent who held that view in a poll carried out in January."

More idiotic media 'self criticism': "In a hilarious attempt at self criticism, “The Editors” at The New Republic have excreted a piece called “Were We Wrong?” (Their answer: No.) You have to read this nonsense for yourself. But here is the flavor of it, from the editors of what might be The Worst Magazine in the World.

"They do admit: “The central assumption underlying this magazine's strategic rationale for war now appears to have been wrong.” (They’re referring to the idea that Iraq was busily building a nuclear weapon.) Duh. Everyone with any sense knew that before the war. Those with no sense figured it out a few weeks after the war. Then there is TNR, just realizing it now."

Anyone with any sense wouldnt have even read this corporate rubbish in the first place, but I suppose it is good for a laugh in hindsight. The sooner the whole corporate media puts itself behind registered sites and we kiss it all goodbye forever the better.

9/11 Report: "The 9/11 Commission's report promulgated this morning, Staff Statement 17, Improvising a Homeland Defense, is an absolute must-read. It is a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow reconstruction, based on a great deal of research, of the events of that fateful morning. And it is absolutely gripping."

"The whole 3,000,000 square miles [of the United States] is defended by seven sites, each of which has two fighter planes on call. That's right -- 14 fighter planes are the first line of defense of the country against attack from the air. Contrast that with the 655 U.S. fighters involved in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (not including the numerous other planes -- bombers, etc. -- or the planes from other coalition members) and you get a good sense of just how much of "defense spending" goes to defense."

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Mahujan on concessions forced from the US in latest UN resolution: "The United States was forced to add language about expiry of the mandate for the occupying forces, which didn't exist in the first draft, and add language specifying that the mandate expires in January 2006 -- although it can be continued at the 'invitation' of the new Iraqi government. It was forced to allow the Interim Government the legal authority to terminate the mandate at any time. It was forced to specify that the Interim Government would have nominal control over the Iraqi security forces.

"Even before the submission of the first draft to the Security Council, political developments had been such that the United States had needed to give over nominal control of Iraq's oil revenues to the Interim Government. The latest draft adds additional language specifically stating that the Interim Government takes over the responsibilities of the Oil for Food program from the CPA.

"What the United States did not cave on was the truly crucial point. Although initially France and others insisted that the Interim Government have some level of veto power over U.S. military operations, finally a deal was worked out with some flowery, noncommittal language about 'coordination' and the need for 'operational unity.' Of course, the result is that the United States has affirmed its right to direct the actions of the occupying forces, which means that the Iraqi government's 'sovereignty' is exercised at the pleasure of the United States."

Juan Cole: Bremer Bars Muqtada from Holding Office: "Muqtada's representative in Baghdad, Shaikh Abdul Hadi al-Darraji, said Monday, 'The Mahdi Army does not recognize any decrees or agreements decided on by the transitional Iraqi government, insofar as we do not recognize it, because it is not an Iraqi institution, but rather was formed by Lakhdar Brahimi, who represented the powers of arrogance and the authority of the Occupation.' He said that the Sadrists would never recognize any government until there was an elected one."

"Bremer's action in excluding the Sadrists from parliament is one final piece of stupidity to cap all the other moronic things he has done in Iraq. The whole beauty of parliamentary governance is that it can hope to draw off the energies of groups like the Sadrists. Look at how parliamentary bargaining moderated the Shiite AMAL party in Lebanon, which had a phase as a terrorist group in the 1980s but gradually outgrew it. AMAL is now a pillar of the Lebanese establishment and a big supporter of a separation of religion and state. The only hope for dealing with the Sadrists nonviolently was to entice them into civil politics, as well. Now that they have been excluded from the political process and made outlaws in the near to medium term, we may expect them to act like outlaws and to be spoilers in the new Iraq."

Hitchens on the alarming stupidity of Ronald Reagan: If Bush is a 'moron', then what was Reagan? He was a puppet who read the scripts fed to him, and had no real idea of what was going on. This was known at the time. Currently the US media is in a frenzy of myth enforcfing regarding the recently deceased Reagan. The US President these days is something like a Roman Caesar: regardless of the merits (or total lack of them) of the latest Caesar, its compulsory that he be declared a god, possessing all sorts of abilities and achievements he hasnt got.

Juan Cole: Black humour: "A friend in Baghdad sent me this. It is to laugh, it is to weep."

Break Out the Bicycles: Oil is Running Out, But the West Would Rather Wage Wars than Consider Other Energy Sources: "Some people have wacky ideas,' the new Republican campaign ad alleges. 'Like taxing gasoline more so people drive less. That's John Kerry.' Cut to a shot of men in suits riding bicycles.

"Sadly, the accusation is false. Kerry has been demanding that the price of oil be held down. He wants George Bush to release supplies from the strategic reserve and persuade Saudi Arabia to increase production. He has been warning the American people that if the president doesn't act soon, he and Dick Cheney will have to share a car to work. Men riding bicycles and sharing cars? Is there no end to this madness? Like the fuel protests that rose and receded in Britain last week, these exchanges are both moronic and entirely rational."

"The age of cheap oil is over.... The oil industry tells us not to worry: the market will find a way of sorting this out. If the price of energy rises, new sources will come onstream. But new sources of what? Every other option is much more expensive than the cheap oil that made our economic complexity possible.... If the complexity of our economies is impossible to sustain, our best hope is to start to dismantle them before they collapse. This isn't very likely to happen. Faced with a choice between a bang and a whimper, our governments are likely to choose the bang, waging ever more extravagant wars to keep the show on the road. Terrorists, alert to both the west's rising need and the vulnerability of the pipeline and tanker networks, will respond with their own oil wars."

Monday, June 07, 2004

An Interview with Sue Niederer, Mother of a Slain Soldier: "What is your response to the recent evidence that this war was waged on the basis of 'misinformation'?

"I wanted to rip the president's head off. Curse him, yell at him, call him a self righteous bastard and a lot of other words. I think if I had him in front of me I would shoot him in the groined area. Let him suffer. And just continue shooting him there. Put him through misery, like he's doing to everyone else. He doesn't deserve any better

"Are you worried that Bush could win in November?

"Extremely concerned. If this country allows him, we are the fools. We deserve everything we get or do not get from him. We are allowing him to get away with anything he wants to do. He flat out lied to us, killing our troops. He doesn't face the fallen family. If this is what we reelect, we deserve everything we get.

"Are traumatized soldiers getting the help they need?

"I have friends who have children in Iraq. This is taking one heck of a toll upon the men. I've heard this many times from many friends. It's the same thing--that they become mentally unstable. He's not only a danger to himself, he's a danger to the men in his platoon."

Torture and Truth: Well written article by Mark Danner reviews the Taguba and Red Cross reports of US torture in Iraq.

"It is unlikely that those who ran 'the process' and issued the orders will face the same tribunals. Iraqis will be well aware of this, even if Americans are not."

Gerry Adams: I Have Been in Torture Photos, Too: "Our experience is that, while individuals may bring a particular impact to their work, they do so within interrogative practices authorised by their superiors.

"For example, the interrogation techniques which were used following the internment swoops in the north of Ireland in 1971 were taught to the RUC by British military officers. Someone authorised this. The first internment swoops, 'Operation Demetrius', saw hundreds of people systematically beaten and forced to run the gauntlet of war dogs, batons and boots.

"Some were stripped naked and had black hessian bags placed over their heads. These bags kept out all light and extended down over the head to the shoulders. As the men stood spread-eagled against the wall, their legs were kicked out from under them. They were beaten with batons and fists on the testicles and kidneys and kicked between the legs. Radiators and electric fires were placed under them as they were stretched over benches. Arms were twisted, fingers were twisted, ribs were pummelled, objects were shoved up the anus, they were burned with matches and treated to games of Russian roulette. Some of them were taken up in helicopters and flung out, thinking that they were high in the sky when they were only five or six feet off the ground. All the time they were hooded, handcuffed and subjected to a high-pitched unrelenting noise.

"This was later described as extra-sensory deprivation. It went on for days. During this process some of them were photographed in the nude."

Kay: Blair is 'delusional': "Mr Kay led the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq until he stepped down as head of the Iraq Survey Group in January. He said at the time that he did not believe there had been large-scale production of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq since the end of the first Gulf War in 1991.

"In his latest comments, Mr Kay referred to the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, by name. 'Anyone out there holding - as I gather Prime Minister Blair has recently said - the prospect that, in fact, the Iraq Survey Group is going to unmask actual weapons of mass destruction, are really delusional,' he said. 'There is nothing there."

US bases in Australia: "The United States is close to a decision to spend tens of millions of dollars establishing permanent joint training facilities in northern Australia for its military forces. Defence Minister Robert Hill yesterday said he expected an in-principle decision next month on a plan that could see thousands of American soldiers, marines and air force personnel training at upgraded Australian bases."

The American empire is an empire of bases. Stopping the empire means shutting the bases. No sovereign country worthy of the name would ever tolerate foreign troops on its soil.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Do bloggers need a code of ethics?: Kurt Nimmo discusses the question. Apparently someone (a journalist?) sent him one, and he rejected it. One could comment that a code of ethics is for people who dont have any. But if bloggers were to have one, we probably couldnt do better than derive it from the 'five filters' in Chomsky's 'Manufacturing Consent'.

Rule no.1: Ownership: Own your own blog, keep it small, and make sure it is not motivated by profit, but by a desire to understand and contribute to the world. Anything large, merged, or profit oriented is discredited.

Rule no.2: Advertising: Accept no paid advertising. Any outlet which accepts paid advertising is not a source of information but a tool to sell market segments to advertisers. It has and can have no credibility.

Rule no.3: Sources: Do not regard official sources as anything other than hostile disinformation. Do not attend press conferences or accept press releases. Do not establish or seek to establish relationships with powerful figures. Instead, all of this is the prime material for relentless critical analysis.

Rule no.4: Flak: Reject with contempt criticism emanating from such sources. If you stick to rules 1,2 & 3, they will have no power anyway.

Rule no.5: Ideology: Automatically disbelieve official state ideology, whether war on communism, war on capitalism, war on terrorism or whatever. Its just a plot to regiment and mobilise the population on behalf of elite interests anyway.

One of the features of the Bush administration is that while it has led to a general awakening, there is a misunderstanding that it is all new and horrible instead of merely a further development of longstanding tendencies.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Wayne Madsen: Neo-Cons on the Brink: "Some quotes recently picked up from two and three-star generals and bird colonels: 'I took an oath to the Constitution, not Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld;' 'If the Pentagon were being overrun by the enemy and I had one bullet left, I'd use it on Stephen Cambone' (the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence); 'Too bad they missed Wolfowitz!' (a reference to the October 2003 Iraqi insurgent bombing of the Al Rashid hotel in Baghdad where Wolfowitz was staying). And this from a National Guard Colonel, 'The Governors are ready to revolt if any more of their Guardsmen are sent to Iraq.'

"If Bush, Cheney, and Rove interfere with the election process, either by postponing the November 2 election because of an unspecified 'terrorist' threat or other concocted reason, many in the senior levels of the military are prepared to honor their oath to the Constitution and protect our nation from enemies 'domestic.' That includes presidents and their staff who want to overturn the Constitution process for their own nefarious purposes.

"A long time colleague, a well-known constitutional lawyer, told me that he would support the military taking such unprecedented action against an out-of-control executive branch. A seasoned Washington political observer, well known to television audiences, echoed the lawyer's sentiment ? he even called for military trials of Bush, Cheney, and their henchmen after their ouster. Yes, the outrage factor is at an all time fever pitch. In my lifetime, I've seen nothing like it. Yet, it is wholly understandable."

US position weakens in Iraq: "Right after the local powerbrokers of the Iraqi Governing Council turned around and bit the very American hand that fed them, there was yet another sign of the United States' diminishing authority on all matters related to Iraq: the revised UN resolution submitted to the Security Council on Tuesday.

"Both the IGC's ability to out-maneuver the Americans over the appointment of the interim government and the success of Security Council naysayers such as Russia and China in securing significant concessions reflect the Bush administration's increasingly precarious position: there is blood in the water and everyone can smell it.

"The combination of the impending U.S. elections, Abu Ghraib torture pictures, the climb-downs with ex-Ba'athists in Najaf, the Shi'a militia in Fallujah and the mounting U.S. casualties have taken a serious toll on the White House's negotiating power. And the proof is in the details of the draft resolution.

"To begin with, the resolution explicitly states that the UN mandate for the Multinational Force – the term the Coalition intends to use to camouflage itself – has a sunset clause, expiring after twelve months, unless explicitly renewed. More importantly, the mandate can also be terminated earlier at the request of the Iraqi transitional government that will be elected by Jan. 31, 2005. This overt declaration that U.S. forces will in fact go if asked is a decisive setback for the administration hawks, who have been issuing statements for months suggesting the contrary."

27-Year CIA Vet Ray McGovern On George Tenet's Surprise Resignation: "I say all this because I am more frightened now than at any time over the last three and a half years, that this administration will resort to extra-legal methods to do something to ensure that there are four more years for George Bush. And Ashcroft’s statement last week, gratuitous statement, uncoordinated with the department of, CIA, with the Department of Homeland Security, his warning that there is bound to be a terrorist strike before the US elections. That can be viewed and this can be reasonably viewed as the opening salvo in the justification for doing, taking measures to ensure that whatever happens in November comes out so that four more years can be devoted to maybe changing that war crimes act or protecting at least these vulnerable people for four more years."

Blair: Deluded idiot: "Blair insisted that joining the U.S.-led invasion was the right thing to do, even though coalition troops have found no weapons of mass destruction — the main justification Blair gave last year for going to war. "We know Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He used them," Blair said. "What we know also is that we haven't yet found them. We need to resolve what has happened to that."

Blair seems to be about the last person on the planet who doesnt realize all the blather about WMDs was a hoax. Either that or he's fallen for his own propaganda.

Bush: Drunk with power, fanatical, dangerous: "A sensational account of an imploding George Bush is making the rounds.... "In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as 'enemies of the state.' ... Thompson says he's interviewed, off-the-record, a number of White House staffers who talk of Bujsh declaring that his decisions are "God's will" and then tells aides to "fuck over" anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.""

"One aide says the President actually described the decision [to fire Tenet] as "God's will. God may also be the reason Attorney General John Ashcroft, the administration's lightning rod because of his questionable actions that critics argue threatens freedoms granted by the Constitution, remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft 'the Blues Brothers' because "they're on a mission from God." "The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion," says one aide. "They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God."

"The always testy Bush, now on a hair-trigger, flames out aides, calling them "fucking assholes" in front of other staff, or, of anyone he sees as critical, "unpatriotic" or "anti-American."

Latham responds to Bush's attack: "Latham wrote yesterday: 'Labor's policies on Iraq will always put Australia's interests first. The Howard Government's failed policies are hurting Australia in five unacceptable ways: they've made Australia a bigger target; they've diverted resources from the real war on terror - catching Osama bin Laden, destroying al-Qaeda and breaking up terrorist networks; unfortunately, the prisoner atrocity scandal has given the terrorists the best recruitment campaign they could have hoped for; the Government sent young Australians to war to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist; and, the war in Iraq and instability in the Middle East have contributed to record high petrol prices now hurting Australian motorists.

"'Enough is enough. The best role Australia can play in Iraq is through humanitarian, economic and civilian aid, not a long-term military role. Labor has more important strategic priorities - defence of Australia and the real war against terror. Labor never wanted the troops there in the first place. We intend to have them home by Christmas.

'Labor strongly supports the American alliance first established by the Curtin Labor government during World War II. The alliance is bigger and stronger than the mistakes made over Iraq. I look forward to the day we can put these mistakes behind us and a Labor Government can work with the US to further strengthen [our] intelligence, strategic and cultural relationships. Labor strongly supports the alliance but not as a rubber stamp. Nothing President Bush has said today changes our hopes and expectations about the future.'"

"A bull's roar from a passionate Latham in Parliament on February 5 last year, on the eve of the US invasion: "I am opposed to the Government's strategy for war in Iraq because it is the wrong way to conduct the war against terror. I am opposed because it repeats the worst mistakes of George Bush's foreign policy. I am opposed because it comes from a Prime Minister too weak to say no to the Americans.

""I believe the war against terror should be conducted against terrorists, not the women and children of nation states. The best way of ensuring weapons of mass destruction do not fall into the hands of terrorists is to rid the world of terrorists. Instead, President Bush has squandered international goodwill for his country by following a flawed strategy of regime change.

""Bush himself is the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory. It is a bit rich for him to be preaching democratic values when he failed to win a democratic majority himself in his presidential election...""

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Turning the Tide: Is Bush Lying?: "Did Bush lie on the reasons for 9-11 ('they hate our freedoms,' etc.)? I think one has to be a bit cautious. Lying requires a certain competence: at least, it requires an understanding of the difference between truth and falsehood. When a 3-year old tells you an obvious falsehood, it isn't really fair to call it a lie. The same was true of the huge whoppers that Reagan came out with when he got out of the control of his handlers. The poor soul probably had no idea. With Bush, I suspect it is more or less the same."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Odom: Stay the course?: "I think you've misunderstood what I said. We have already failed. Staying in longer makes us fail worse. If we were a small power, we
might have to worry about our so-called credibility. I don't think that's the issue. The issue is how effective we were going to use our power. The longer we st...if we blindly say we should stick to it, we're misusing our power and we're making it worse. Let me put it more bluntly. Let's suppose you murdered somebody, and you suddenly look and say, `We can't afford to have murdered this
person, so therefore let's save him.' I think we've passed the chances to not fail. And now we are in a situation where we have to limit the damage. And the issue is just how much we are going to pay before we decide to limit the damage, not rescue ourselves by throwing good money after bad."