Sunday, August 21, 2005

Do Americans know how they are perceived by many in the world? Commenters rant: "Why Americans are, and should be, hated

The time has come for Americans to realise a very simple truth: You can no longer hide behind the excuse that the war in Iraq, and all the other crimes of which America stands accused in the eyes of the rest of the world, “is the fault of the current Administration”.

Get this: You, as a nation, started a war of aggression, based on a lie, against a country that had done you no harm. You called it a pre-emptive war. It wasn’t. It was naked aggression, launched with overwhelming firepower, targeting a nation crushed by over a decade of inhuman sanctions that had left hundreds of thousands dead, many of them children. For that alone, you, as a nation, deserve to be hated and despised, and never to be forgiven.

I am tired of talking to Americans who bemoan the idiocy of the current US administration and its leaders. You, as a nation, voted for him. Twice. And don’t give me that song and dance about how the elections were stolen. Once, yes. But not twice. Besides, knowing what you knew even then about Bush, the man, how was it possible that more than two people in the entire United States – Bush and his mother – could vote for him? The very fact that more than two people put a cross against his name damns you as a nation, for ever.

There used to be a time when I admired America and Americans. Now, I cannot reach low enough to begin to describe the contempt I feel towards America.

I used to be a moderate in all things political. Now I’d freely describe myself as “rabidly anti-American” – and I’m not even Palestinian, or Arab, for that matter. I’m not even the victim of the daily outrages perpetrated by the Israeli apartheid state, that American aircraft carrier in the Middle East, that state which, with the moral support and financial assistance of the US, has created more than two hundred nuclear bombs, while around us wails a media choir, hysterical at the thought that Iran might, in ten years’ time, come close to producing a smidgeon of nuclear fuel that might, just might, one day be diverted for making an atomic weapon.

It’s all so amusing, isn’t it? If only it weren’t all so deadly. As some wit put it: “When Clinton lied, no-one died.”

What makes this crime even worse than the many other illegal invasions that America has perpetrated (read Noam Chomsky if you’d like to know more) is that, at the time when the lie was being fed to the world, everyone – EVERYONE – knew that it was a lie. Colin Powel knew. Bush knew. Blair knew. The boy in the street outside, shining shoes, knew.

America, collectively, has insulted the intelligence of every person on this planet.

America ignores international treaties, laws, and agreements at will. Kyoto is meant for other nations. The International Court, likewise, is for other nations because, as we all know, Americans would never commit war crimes – certainly nothing like Abu Ghraib. And then, just to make sure that we get the message, America appoints a man who hates children to be their nanny: it appoints as ambassador to the UN a man who cannot stand the UN.

That really was overkill. You see, we got the point long, long ago. You just don’t care. Well, we do. We care enough to hate you.

Even if tomorrow, by some miracle, you came to your senses and impeached Bush and sent him off to the International Court to answer for his war crimes, we would still not forgive you. That would take, at the very least, another ten or twenty years. Because that’s how long it would take to begin to undo some of the damage that America has done to the world, to global relations, and to trust and our sense of brotherhood in this world.

When the planes flew into the twin towers, I was at work, in an office full of Saudi employees in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. One after the other, they all trooped across to our boss, an American, and expressed their horror and heartfelt sympathy at what had happened. So did I.

That sympathy has been squandered by a reckless moron and those who voted for him. Hate has taken the place of sympathy, even amongst those who used to be moderate, like myself.

Your “War on Terror” is a monster of your own creation. And it is breeding more and more terror, day by bloody day.

I am not a stranger to war. I write as someone who served as a conscript in the military for two and a half years, of which thirteen months as an officer in the South African special forces in Angola, in 1982-83. That (CIA-funded and supported!) war was wrong, too. We had no business being there.

Being a soldier didn’t take courage – real courage would have been refusing to serve. I was a coward — I didn't have the courage to refuse to kill those I had no business killing. Your troops in Iraq will one day say the same, I don't doubt that for a second.

In the meanwhile, they will continue to kill or be killed. If they had real courage, they would refuse to serve. The war is wrong. They know it by now – even without me or anyone else telling them so. They're not “just doing their job” – they are doing someone else’s job, and it’s time they started asking, whose job, and why?

Americans: You are hated and despised, throughout the world. You deserve it. - Johan"

"Well spoken Johan. Your sad commentary is one I hear repeated by all of my foreign friends. The world is turning its' back on America, and with good reason.

The American people will pay dearly for allowing this unholy clan of rightwingideologue supremist warmongers, warpimps, and profiteers to redefine America in the perverted cloth of a predatory imperialist state ruled with an iron fist by tyrants, pirates, and fundamentalist religious zealots.

"Deliver us from evil." - Tony Foresta

Saturday, August 20, 2005

War of the Future: Oil Drives the Genocide in Darfur: The scandal, corruption and cruelty of the Sudanese war. Governments, corporations, militaries and empires are not the solution: they are the problem. The world public must rise to force these institutions to end the rapaciousness and injustice.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Coming Avian Flu Pandemic: "The new U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told the Associated Press in early August that an influenza pandemic was now an 'absolute certainty,' echoing repeated warnings from the World Health Organization that it was 'inevitable.' Likewise Science magazine observed that expert opinion held the odds of a global outbreak as '100 percent.'

"In the same grim spirit, the British press revealed that officials were scouring the country for suitable sites for mass mortuaries, based on official fears that avian flu could kill as many as 700,000 Britons. The Blair government is already conducting emergency simulations of a pandemic outbreak ('Operation Arctic Sea') and is reported to have readied 'Cobra' -- a cabinet-level working group that coordinates government responses to national emergencies like the recent London bombings from a secret war room in Whitehall -- to deal with an avian flu crisis."

One wonders what preparations State and Federal governments have made in Australia. The issue seems to attract scant attention.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Uri Avnery on the 'miracle' of the withdrawal from Gaza: "Sharon's is a classic Zionist ideology, consistent and pragmatic: to enlarge the borders of the Jewish State as much as possible, in a continuing process, without including in it a non-Jewish population. To settle everywhere possible, using every possible trick. To do much and talk little about it. To make declarations about the desire for peace, but not to make a peace that would hinder expansion and settlement.

"Moshe Dayan, another pupil of Ben-Gurion's, in one of his more revealing speeches, preached to the country's youth that this is a continuous enterprise. 'You have not started it, and you will not finish it!' he said. In another important speech, Dayan said that the Arabs are looking on while we turn the land of their forefathers into our land, and they will never reconcile themselves to that. The conflict is a permanent situation.

"That is also Sharon's outlook. He wants to expand Israel's borders as much as possible, and minimize the number of Arabs within them. Therefore it makes sense to him to give up the tiny Gaza strip with the million and half Palestinians living there, and also the centers of Palestinian population in the West Bank. He wants to annex the settlement blocs and the sparsely populated areas, where new settlement blocs can be set up. He is content to leave to future generations the problem of the Palestinian enclaves.

"Ben-Gurion laid down a basic principle: the State of Israel has no borders. Borders freeze the existing situation, and to this Israel cannot agree. Therefore, all his successors, including Yitzhak Rabin, were ready to reach interim agreements, but never a final agreement that would fix permanent borders. That's why Sharon insists that all his steps are unilateral, and that, after the disengagement, new interim agreements may be reached - but under no circumstances a final peace agreement."

"This week, a great event will take place: for the first time, settlements in Palestine are being removed. The Settlement enterprise, which has always moved forward, is for the first time moving backwards. And that is more important that the intentions - good or bad - of Ariel Sharon."

Chomsky, however, is somewhat more prosaic: "Any sane Israeli government would want to remove Israeli settlements from Gaza, where about 8000 settlers take a large part of the land and resources, and have to be protected by huge army contingents.

"Far more rational, now that the occupation has turned Gaza into a hell-hole, is to get out and leave it as a prison in which the population can rot. The “Gaza disengagement plan” is, in fact, a US-Israeli West Bank expansion plan, designed to incorporate valuable land and resources of the West Bank into Israel, and leave Palestinians in a few unviable Bantustans which the US and Israel can call a “state”—rather as South Africa called the Bantustans “independent states.”

"There is great agonizing now in Israel about the tragedy of the settlers who were handsomely subsidized to settle illegally in Gaza, where they have tortured and terrorized the population and stolen their land and resources, and now will be handsomely subsidized by the same generous fairy godmother (you and your friends) to settle somewhere else. People are wearing orange, etc. As the better Israeli journalists have eloquently described, it is a shame and disgrace. The same is true of the “trauma” of Jews evicting Jews. If Sharon wants to remove the settlers quietly, nothing is easier. Simply announce that the IDF will be withdrawn on date X, and a few weeks earlier the settlers will be gone. It’s mostly cynical show to justify the US-Israel West Bank expansion programs."

de Menezes - London police death squad killing of innocent man: "At 9.30am ... Jean Charles left his flat in Scotia Road, South London. Surveillance officers wrongly believed he could have been Hussain Osman, one of the prime suspects, or another terrorist suspect.

"The documents and photographs confirm that Jean Charles was not carrying any bags, and was wearing a denim jacket, not a bulky winter coat, as had previously been claimed. He was behaving normally, and did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper.

"He started running when we saw a tube at the platform. Police had agreed they would shoot a suspect if he ran. A document describes CCTV footage, which shows Mr de Menezes entered Stockwell station at a 'normal walking pace' and descended slowly on an escalator.

"The document said: 'At some point near the bottom he is seen to run across the concourse and enter the carriage before sitting in an available seat.... A member of the surveillance team is quoted in the report. He said: 'I heard shouting which included the word `police' and turned to face the male in the denim jacket.

"'He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 officers. I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. 'I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting. I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away onto the floor of the carriage.'

"The report also said a post mortem examination showed Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, but three other bullets missed, with the casings left lying in the tube carriage."

Let us hope that any death squads in Australia are immediately stood down. No politician or bureaucrat should ever be permitted to deploy death squads to the streets. Terrorism is by definition a political activity and needs a political solution.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Public opposed to sale of Telstra: "Around 70 per cent of people surveyed were against the $30 billion sale, compared with 66 per cent in July 2002, according to a Newspoll published in News Ltd newspapers. Support for the sale has dropped four per cent over the past three years to 16 per cent."

So how did the Howard government win an absolute majority of both Houses of Parliament? Communications, along with transport, water and sewage and power are fundamental infrastructure resonsibilities of government. Privatizations such as these amount to a giveaway to the corporate sector of crucial monopolistic functions.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Ironies of Conquest: Michael Schwartz on efforts by Russia and China to block US hegemonic ambition. More and more commentators are prepared to declare the US has basically lost the war in Iraq; if so, this defeat represents a significant strategic setback, indeed an historic turning point. The neocons' dream of 'global domination' is over virtually as soon as it was announced.

"At the June 2005 meeting of the SCO [Russia, China and allies], after guest Iran was invited into full membership, the group called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from member states, and particularly from the large base in Uzbekistan that was a key staging area for American troops in the Afghanistan War. The SCO thus became the first international body of any sort to call for a rollback of U.S. bases anywhere in the world."

As Chalmers Johnson has pointed out, the US empire is an empire of bases. Shutting the bases means shutting down the empire.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Iraq: Conditions worse than under Saddam: "Living conditions for the people of Iraq, already poor before the war, have deteriorated significantly since the US invasion. This is confirmed in a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation. Based on a survey of 21,000 households conducted in 2004, the study shows that the Iraqi people are suffering widespread death and war-related injury, high rates of infant and child mortality, chronic malnutrition and illness among children, low rates of life expectancy and significant setbacks with regard to the role of women in society."

Declaration of the Jury of Conscience World Tribunal on Iraq - Istanbul June 23 - 27, 2005: Comprehensive, damning charges against the offending parties.