Saturday, December 31, 2005

Craig Murray Torture memos leaked: Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray is in the news again (or at least, all over the blogosphere. I dont know whether corporate 'news' reports these things or not.) The UK Foreign Office attempted to censor memos written by Murray and directed he return all copies. He has responded by posting them on the web and urging all and sundry to make copies.

There are a number of interesting aspects of the Murray/Uzbekistan story, not least the light it shows on the brutal reality of the phony 'war on terror'; or the fact that in the new Great Game the US has lost and Uzbekistan is now realigned with Russia. Another interesting aspect is what might be called the 'naivete' of Murray. He appears to have been shocked (admittedly, its pretty bad) by the torture regime of Uzbekistan; to have objected to repressive policies which would increase the risk of Islamic terrorism, not reduce it; and to have held a suspicion that US policy was more about oil, gas and hegemony than about freedom and democracy. From the point of view of Whitehall and Downing st, however, Murray would be viewed with considerable irritation as a lapse of discipline and professionalism. The question would be, how can we get officials who follow directions without question, and who either cynically repress doubts and uncertainties, or are truly brainwashed? A state or empire would collapse if its officers in any number took at face value the statements of ideals and principles and began to compare them to the reality.

Clowntime is Over: The Last Stand of the American Republic: the challenge to the American establishment: "So now, at last, the crisis is upon us. Now the cards are finally on the table, laid out so starkly that even the Big Media sycophants and Beltway bootlickers can no longer ignore them. Now the choice for the American Establishment is clear, and inescapable: do you hold for the Republic, or for autocracy?

"There is no third way here, no other option, no wiggle room, no ambiguity. The much-belated exposure of George W. Bush's warrantless spy program has forced the Bush-Cheney Regime to openly declare what they have long implied -- and enacted -- in secret: that the president is above the law, a military autocrat with unlimited powers, beyond the restraint or supervision of any other institution or branch of government. Outed as rank deceivers, perverters of the law and rapists of the Constitution, the Bush gang has decided that their best defense -- their only defense, really -- is a belligerent offense. 'Yeah, we broke the law,' they now say; 'so what? We'll break it again whenever we want to, because law don't stick to our Big Boss Man. What are you going to do about it, chump?'"

More from Chris Floyd on Bush who publicly claimed that Jesus was his 'favourite philosopher':

"Countless words of condemnation have been heaped upon George W. Bush and his hard-Right regime – a crescendo growing louder by the day, with voices from across the political spectrum. But the most devastating repudiation of the Regime's foul ethos was actually delivered almost 2,000 years ago by the man whose birth is celebrated at this season of the year.

"We speak, of course, of Jesus of Nazareth, whose Sermon on the Mount, as reported in the Gospels, called for a revolutionary transformation of human nature – a complete overthrow of our natural instincts for greed, aggression, and self-aggrandizement. This radical vision – erupting in the turbulent backwater of a brutal world empire – is the true miracle of Jesus' life, not the clusmy fables about virgin births, magic tricks and corpses rising from the dead. The vision's living force sears through dogma, casts down the pomp of church and state, and gives the lie to every hypocrite who evokes the name of Jesus in pursuit of earthly power.

"Bush professes to believe that Jesus is the son of God, whose words are literally divine commands. Yet anyone who compares what Jesus really said to Bush's actions in power – the abandonment of the poor, the exaltation of the rich; the dirty insider deals, the culture of corruption, the politics of smear and slander; the perversion of law to countenance murder, torture and predatory war – can readily see that this profession of faith is a monstrous deceit. Bush – and his politicized, pseudo-religious "base" – may well believe that some divine being approves of their unbridled greed, aggression and self-aggrandizement; but this mythical godling in their heads has nothing to do with the man from Nazareth who, as Matthew and Luke tell it, went up into a mountain one day and began to preach."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Uri Avnery on Israel's political groupings ahead of the election: "For decades now all Israeli governments have been repeating the mantra: 'United Jerusalem, capital of Israel for all eternity.' ... Two weeks ago, Amir Peretz gave in to his advisors and repeated the sacred mantra: he, too, is for the United Jerusalem, Capital of Israel for all Eternity. Amen. This is a mendacious statement. Every child knows that there will be no peace without East Jerusalem becoming the capital of the Palestinian state."

"Israel's largest mass-circulation daily, Yediot Ahronoth, published a poll that shocked the politicians: 49% of the Israeli public is ready to accept the division of Jerusalem, with another 49% opposed. Since an ordinary person is reluctant to give an answer that runs counter to the perceived consensus, it appears that a majority is now ready for the partition of the city."

"Voters are becoming more and more suspicious. This time, more than ever, they expect straight talking. And, indeed, after all the upheavals of the last few weeks, the picture that emerges presents the voter with a clear choice between three different options:

"- On the right, the Likud, under the leadership of Netanyahu, has clearly shifted to the radical fringe. Netanyahu will now try to don a "moderate" mask, but to no avail. Not only does the party include openly fascist groups, but it is apparent that the entire Likud opposes "giving up" any part of Eretz Yisrael, thus striking peace from the agenda.

"- In the middle, the new Kadima party, under the leadership of Sharon, has given up the idea of a Greater Israel in the whole of the historical country, but opposes a real compromise with the Palestinians, arrived at by negotiation and agreement. Sharon wants to impose by force new permanent borders for Israel, by annexing most of the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem.

"- On the left, Labor, under the leadership of Peretz, proposes negotiations with the Palestinians with the aim of achieving peace by compromise."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Christmas Truce: "So extraordinary was the Christmas truce of 1914 that some no longer believe it could have happened. But as a new film recreates those days, Stanley Weintraub says it was no myth."

Perhaps more than any other incident in the last terrible century of war, the Christmas truce represents its folly and insanity.

Alan Gill has more on the Christmas truce: "The Christmas truce of 1914 is one of the most remarkable incidents of World War I and perhaps of military history. It lasted as long as a week, and took place despite orders that those who fraternised with the enemy would be shot.... For decades the general view has been that the Christmas truce lasted three days (from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day) and that fighting resumed following demands from headquarters. It is now known that in isolated sections, notably that held by the 1st Leicester Regiment, the truce continued until middle or late January.... the Illustrated London News published a stylised picture of the event, calling it "The Light of Peace on Christmas Eve". It showed a German soldier standing at the British lines holding aloft a small Christmas tree. Just looking at it brings tears to the eyes."

However as it is the festive season, I invite my (numberless) readers to beer up, read this, and celebrate.

Iran hails victory in Iraq; defeat of United States: "Of the 275 seats in Iraq's new parliament, 140 will belong to pious Islamists, 60 will be occupied by Kurds with excellent ties with Iran, and 40 will belong to Sunni Arabs, most of whom want a sovereign, Islamist state, the daily Kayhan's Saturday editorial noted. The new government, including the President, the Prime Minister, the cabinet, the armed forces and the judiciary, will emerge from this new assembly. Kayhan said the election outcome will increase pressures, both inside and outside the U.S., on [President George W.] Bush to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Bush will have to give in and withdraw the bulk of his forces from Iraq in the next few months, the daily, which reflects the views of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote."

"The paper listed the consequences of American withdrawal from Iraq, describing the current situation in Iraq as ?the biggest crisis America has faced in recent decades. The American defeat and withdrawal from Iraq will forever bury the Neoconservative current in the U.S.A, while the formation of an Islamist state in Iraq, which will be a natural ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran and will form a contiguous link between Iran and Palestine through Syria and Lebanon, will bring about a sea change in the geo-strategic balance in the region in favour of Iran and to America's detriment. This new alliance with its huge size will directly influence all developments in the Arab and Muslim Middle East."

Any chance of getting a comment from Mr Bush, Mr Blair or Mr Howard on this observation in Iran's leading hardline newspaper? Perhaps it was the plan from the beginning to install an Islamic republic aligned with Iran.

Meanwhile the remarkable success of the US/Bush propaganda system continues unabated: "The Bush administration has just provided a textbook demonstration of the successful manipulation of public opinion. By repeating the theme that the United States is winning the war in Iraq for weeks, George W. Bush has now convinced 60 percent of Americans that the United States will win, and nearly as many that it is already winning, according to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Short interview with Uri Avnery 2002:
The current Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, he refers to as a ‘completely worthless person’. The former Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, he dismisses as a crook: ‘I am not afraid of crooks. I am afraid of men like Sharon.’

He has more respect for Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, whom he refers to as ‘serious men’. The latter he feels is deeply amoral in the pursuit of his goals and has no interest in making any settlement at all with the Palestinians. On the contrary, Avnery believes that he wants war with them. He sees Sharon as the last leader of a movement for Jewish liberation, the élan of which is dying out.

Surprisingly Avnery is optimistic about the chances for peace: ‘A product of my age and my temperament.’ He sees the Israelis as basically having no choice but to make a deal with the Palestinians, even though he thinks 90 per cent of the population would like a country without any Arab population at all. But he also feels it will take a strong break with the past to accomplish it. He is fond of quoting Lloyd George’s famous phrase that ‘one cannot cross an abyss in two jumps’.

In a new article, Avnery discusses Sharon and his wrecking action on Likud:

YESTERDAY, WHEN I was walking in the street, someone shouted after me: "Hey, when are you joining Sharon?"

"Why would I do that?" I asked him.

"Because he is implementing your plan!" he answered triumphantly.

This illusion is gaining ground. Many Leftists, who have spent the last few years luxuriating in a warm and comfortable despair that releases them from any duty to stand up and fight, have now found an even more agreeable solution: Sharon, the man of the Right, will realize the dream of the Left. One has only to vote for Sharon, and then the longed-for peace will come. No need to make any effort, to struggle, even to lift a finger.

Thus, miraculously, we come back to Sharon's original formula: to annex unilaterally 58% of the West Bank, not to conduct any peace negotiations with the Palestinians and to keep the whole of Jerusalem.

In the meantime, Sharon (through his Minister of Defense, who has now followed him out of the Likud) is distributing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of building permits in the settlements, continuing the construction of the wall, destroying Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and maintaining the blockade of the Gaza Strip. His continuous silent effort to undermine the position of Mahmoud Abbas is already bearing fruit. But who cares, when the intoxicating music of the flute is befuddling the senses and the brain of so many peace-loving Leftists?

It's an extraordinary feature of politics, the capacity of people to believe in illusions.

The real danger lies in the set-up of Sharon's party itself. It has no ideology but Sharon. No program but Sharon. No plan but Sharon. This is a party of one leader, committed to nothing. His word is its command. He alone will compose its list of candidates. He alone will draft the party program - which will be irrelevant anyhow, since Sharon alone will decide what to do at any time.

Sharon has never been much of a democrat. Right from the beginning, he has had a profound contempt for parties and politicians. He was and has remained a foreign body in the Knesset. From his early youth he has been firmly convinced that he must become the leader of the people and the state, since he, and he alone, is the one who can save them from perdition. He did not see himself as a leader bound by all kinds of democratic nonsense, like Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians, but as a free agent, released from all bonds, able to fulfill his historic mission: to fix the borders of the Jewish State with the maximum possible area.

He does not hide his intention to change the political system of Israel and to establish a presidential regime. In Israel, a country with neither a constitution nor a strong parliament like the US Congress, such a system means one-man rule. If he succeeds in winning a decisive enough victory in the coming elections, he may be able, with the help of a few bribed lawmakers, to change the laws of the country and turn himself into an all-powerful president - for four years, for seven, for a lifetime.

This danger would not have been so real, if the Israeli democracy had not lost its inner strength. The politicians are detested by the public, the big parties evoke loathing, political corruption has become proverbial. In such a crisis, the public tends to long for a strongman. The man from the Sycamore Ranch is only too happy to oblige.

Only one thing is certain for anyone who knows the man: he will never abandon his historic aim: to annex as much territory as possible, with as few Arabs as possible. He has executed the Disengagement Plan with utmost vigor not in order to bring peace, but to realize this principle.

Antony Loewenstein on the bi-national state solution for Palestine: I disagree with one point in this article: "There are small signs that the Arab world is starting to accept the Jewish State." They would be rather big signs by now. 'Small signs' would have started with Sadat in 1971, and by the late 70s even the PLO was prepared to recognise Israel on the 67 borders.

Israel could have made peace anytime on those borders, but instead has been determined to pursue a 'facts on the ground' land grab policy. I think AL is right is suggesting that if Israel doesnt make peace on the two state model soon, then they will face the demand for a binational state, which would of course ironically spell the end of the 'Jewish state.'

In regard to the Iranian President's remarks, one would think the Iranian government should be aware of the evidence for the Holocaust. Denial is hardly a credible position to adopt. But as for his suggestion that if the Europeans felt guilty about the Holocaust, then why didn't they create a province for the Jews in Austria or Germany: look at it from the point of view of the Palestinians. It's a good question to which a sensible answer can hardly be given.

Former Defence Chief Cosgrove's AWOL son discharged: t's an intriguing story, isn't it? Makes you wonder what is really going on in the Army and in Iraq. Has David Cosgrove been in Iraq? How many Aussie troops are in Iraq? Where are they and what are they doing? How is morale? What do they think about the war and their deployment? With one US expert after another saying the US has lost the war in Iraq, what do the Aussie brass think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bush admits illegal spying on Americans, declares he'll do it again: [Scene, Oval Office. The President addresses the American people]: F*ck you. I spied on ya. I'm gonna spy on ya again. You cant stop me! I'm not the President, I'm the f*cking King! [grabs Crown and slams it on his head. Grabs double shot of hard liquor and slams it down. Lights fade...]

UPDATE: Bush's action in breaking the law, admitting he broke the law, and declaring he will do it again, seems to have crossed some sort of line in the commentariat.

Jonathon Schell says:

There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship. The Administration of George W. Bush is not a dictatorship, but it does manifest the characteristics of one in embryonic form.... He is now in effect saying, "Yes, I am above the law--I am the law, which is nothing more than what I and my hired lawyers say it is--and if you don't like it, I dare you to do something about it." Members of Congress have no choice but to accept the challenge. They did so once before, when Richard Nixon, who said, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal," posed a similar threat to the Constitution. The only possible answer is to inform Bush forthwith that if he continues in his defiance, he will be impeached.

Jay Bookman says:

In asserting his right to ignore the law, President Bush has slapped Congress right across the face and told them they better like it. Congress can now mutter "Yes, sir" and cower in its corner like a whipped dog, as it has for most of the past five years, or it can fight back to defend its institutional authority. Either choice will mark a turning point in U.S. history.

Doug Ireland says:

President Bush may find himself in deep trouble after ordering and defending illegal wiretaps of U.S. citizens -- a crime for which Richard Nixon was nearly impeached.

However, as Chomsky has frequently pointed out, the mere illegality of Nixon's Watergate actions were not the reason he was ousted. He had committed with impunity much worse illegalites, such as COINTELPRO. Nixon's fatal mistake lay in targetting rich and powerful people, such as the Chairman of IBM and the like. If the Bush Administration avoids making this mistake, it is an entirely open question as to whether Congress or the corporate media could move against them in any way. In any discussion of impeachment, a question should be asked that is not being asked, what do the corporations, their CEOs and the corporate media owners think? Do they believe he needs to be impeached? Or are they content with the slide into pseudo-fascism? Numerous grounds for impeachment exist, but will the weapons be taken up?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

REPUBLIC DOGS: Thrasymachus: So you'd like to hear my theory?

Socrates: I'd be honored.

Thrasymachus: My humble little idea goes something like this. [He is suddenly extremely loud and violent. Roars:] Justice is only the will of the stronger. What do you think about that, asshole? [Slaps Socrates across the face with his gun]

Socrates: Uh, uh, uh ...

Thrasymachus: Come on ... come on, you wanna try and disprove my theory, you weak little shit? Yeah? Yeah? Shit, I think I feel a proof coming on. [Shoots him.] Why, thank you Socrates, you've certainly opened my eyes.

Narrator: Thrasymachus. Alcibiades. Aristotle. Socrates -- are Quentin Tarantino's Republic Dogs.

Iran wins big in Iraq's elections: "'We knew ever since the beginning [of the Iraq war] that the Americans would become trapped in a quagmire ... Iraq has become a turning point in the history of the Middle East. If the Americans had succeeded in subjugating Iraq, our region would have suffered once again from colonialism, but if Iraq becomes a democratic country that can stand on its own feet, the Americans will face the greatest loss. In such an eventuality, Iran and other regional states will be able to play an important role in world issues since they provide a huge share of the world's energy needs. We see now that the United States has been defeated.'" - former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"The Shi'ite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years. More importantly, the "secular" candidates who were believed to enjoy links with the US security agencies would seem to have been routed. Former premier Iyad Allawi's prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.... With the ascendancy of Muqtada and Mutlak in the fragmented political spectrum, the calls for American troops to leave Iraq can be expected to become more strident."

"Tehran sees that Iraq is now irreversibly on the verge of profound change, and transition is already in the air. The US is increasingly finding that it must come up with a clear plan to withdraw its troops from Iraq. As prominent Lebanese political observer Rami Khouri wrote on Saturday, "Starting the American military retreat from Iraq is important because American troops will continue to be a divisive and destabilizing force, just as the American military presence in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 war was a major provocation leading to Osama bin Laden-type resistance and terror.""

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gabriel Kolko: the Decline of the American Empire: The essential problem is the sheer size of the Pentagon and the US military/industrial complex. It comprises more spending on arms and 'defence' than the rest of the world combined, a monstrous situation which spells nothing but danger. It all dates from the First World War. It has been a century of horror, folly, tragedy and irrationality. WW1 led to the Second World War which left us with the Soviet and US military empires. The Soviets collapsed and the Pentagon must also be dismantled without stimulating the existence of another great military establishment, ie without another major war.

US military spending at about $500b p.a. needs to be slashed by 90%, bringing it down to about $50b and on a par with Russia and China. The political system is incapable of achieving this result, or even discussing it, and so military failure and fiscal bankruptcy are virtually the only practical hope. And yet somehow this must occur in the US without some horror of major war or fascistic statism evolving. Looking back at the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is remarkable how little blood (apart from the ongoing Chechnyan tragedy) was spent in the course of the dissolution of the Red Army. It might be too much to hope for that the same relatively 'orderly' collapse also occurs in the USA.

Could we dare hope that by Armistice Day 2018 humanity has finally put aside war as a method of policy?

"The American priorities [after WW2] were specific, focused on individual nations, but they also set the United States the task of guiding or controlling the entire world--which is a very big place and has proven time and again to be far beyond American resources and imperial power. In most of those places in the Third World where the US massively employed its power directly it has lost, and its military might has been ineffective. The US's local proxies have been corrupt and venal in most nations where it has relied upon them. The cost, both in financial terms and in the eventual alienation of the American public, has been monumental."

"The US dilemma, and it is a fundamental contradiction, is that its expensive military power is largely useless as an instrument of foreign policy.... The basic problem the world today confronts is American ambition, an ambition based on the illusion that its great military power allows it to define political and social trends everywhere it chooses to do so.... The world is more dangerous now, in large part because the US refuses to recognize the limits of its power and retains the ambitions it had 50 years ago."

"The US military is falling apart: its weapons have been ineffective, politically Iraq is likely to break up into regional fiefdoms (as Afghanistan has), and perhaps civil war--no one knows. From the Iraqi viewpoint the war was a disaster, but it also repeated the failures the Americans confronted in Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere. That the Iraq resistance is divided will not save the US from defeat.... But it is crucial to remember that the US is only a reflection of the militarism and irrationality that has blinded many leaders of mankind for over a century. The task is not only to prevent the US from inflicting more damage on the hapless world--Iraq at this moment--but to root out the historic, global illusions that led to its aggression."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seymour Hersh interview re the Iraq election: Hersh's opinion is that the US wants to get Allawi installed as Prime Minister, just as they tried before. Allawi is a ruthless ex-Saddamite and experienced torturer and killer, who would do whatever the US wanted. But he will not win, according to Hersh. The Shiite leader Mahdi is more likely to win. The big winner will be Iran and the big losers the US and, of course, the Iraqi people.

"Well, you know, think about those guys Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush, this is the trio that really run things. I think Condi's not the first cut here. What is scary is how much they really believe what they are doing. They really believe… They really do believe [laughing]. I can tell you that when Mahdi was here – the vice president of Iraq, the SCIRI guy – was here in Washington about three weeks ago, at that time some very serious people, not in the Bush administration but very close to the family, very close to the Republican Party, very close to the power elite that runs this country, visited Mahdi, and basically said to him, "Look, you're probably going to make it, but we have to tell you something: It's our belief that it's over. Maybe everybody in Washington, in the White House doesn't know it, but it's over. You guys have to start planning. You in Iraq have to plan and anticipate a shutdown of American support and perhaps even a shutdown of American funds by the Congress. The American people have given up on this.""

Sunday, December 11, 2005

'Never Before!' Our Amnesiac Torture Debate: Naomi Klein adds some perspective to the torture debate. "The Bush Administration's open embrace of torture is indeed unprecedented--but let's be clear about what is unprecedented about it: not the torture but the openness. Past administrations tactfully kept their "black ops" secret; the crimes were sanctioned but they were practiced in the shadows, officially denied and condemned. The Bush Administration has broken this deal: Post-9/11, it demanded the right to torture without shame, legitimized by new definitions and new laws.... For those nervously wondering if it is time to start using alarmist words like totalitarianism, this shift is of huge significance. When torture is covertly practiced but officially and legally repudiated, there is still the hope that if atrocities are exposed, justice could prevail."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Webdiary on the Howard/Costello/Gerard RBA affair: "Why did the Treasurer still appoint this man to the Reserve Bank board? It is crystal clear—Mr Gerard had bought it, and the going price was more than a million dollars. Mr Gerard had bought it. This government is so arrogant, so conceited and so disregarding of the ordinary standards of public life that, if you front up to the Liberal Party with $1 million-odd, you can get yourself anything. Despite a track record of dishonesty, you can get yourself anything. What this man got himself was a position on the Reserve Bank board. That is the allegation the Treasurer should have answered in the 10 minutes he had to speak on this matter in this parliament. That is the allegation he refused to answer, and he will not answer it because it is true."

"Mellish quotes a 'senior government minister' as saying: 'I think most people in Cabinet thought it was an appropriate appointment. There was certainly no mention of tax issues... Like we all do, he would have raised it with the Prime Minister's Office before taking it to Cabinet.'"

"While I hold no truck for the Coalition I was incensed to read in the Australian that Howard has distanced himself from Costello by saying that Costello had suggested Gerard to him. I have never believed a word that came out of the mouth of that man and I can't believe that he could be so vindictive - yes I can! I can imagine the hatred that Costello has for Howard now and to me it is quite justified."

Howard has just mocked Costello in public and kicked him in the face. Mocked him and kicked him in the face like Saruman did his sidekick Wormtongue at the end of Lord of the Rings. But unlike Wormtongue, Costello - an impossibly smug politician without a political identity of his own - didn't and doesn't have the guts to pull a knife.

Pinter Nobel acceptance speech on US foreign policy since WW11: "The United States Congress was about to decide whether to give more money to the Contras in their campaign against the state of Nicaragua. I was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf of Nicaragua but the most important member of this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then number two to the ambassador, later ambassador himself). Father Metcalf said: 'Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.'

"Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity. 'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch."

"Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

"It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

"We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New electric scooters: As electric scooters and microcars come onto the market at competitive prices, one can see a big future for them in the urban environment. The key to meeting the energy crisis is the production of clean, renewable energy for supply to the grid: solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave etc. We cannot get this up quickly enough, but dysfunctional politics and societal processes will continually tend to drive us down the false roads of coal and nuclear energy, not to mention military aggression to secure finite remaining supplies of gas and oil.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Mahablog posts on the abortion issue

Alexander Cockburn: the Revolt of the Generals: "The immense significance of Rep John Murtha's November 17 speech calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is that it signals mutiny in the US senior officer corps... A CounterPuncher with nearly 40 years experience working in and around the Pentagon told me this week that "The Four Star Generals picked Murtha to make this speech because he has maximum credibility".... So the Four-Star Generals briefed Murtha and gave him the state-of-the-art data which made his speech so deadly... It cannot have taken vice president Cheney, a former US Defense Secretary, more than a moment to scan Murtha's speech and realize the import of Murtha's speech as an announcement that the generals have had enough.""

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Murdoch in 2003 advocated war claiming it would produce cheap oil: "He said the price of oil would be one of the war's main benefits. 'The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country.'"

With oil nearly $60 a barrel and likely to never again drop below $50, the war's a disaster, isnt it Rupert? As well as being an epic crime - the supreme crime of aggressive war with over 100,000 people slaughtered in a failed attempt to acquire cheap oil.

Murdoch's News Ltd organisation is one of the principal entities that made the war possible and continues to support it. That organisation should be dismantled as an accessory to warcrimes and crimes against humanity.

Murdoch's statement is also remarkable as one of the few occasions in this whole process where a major establishment figure actually mentioned or discussed oil as an or the objective of the invasion.

Two and a half years after invading Iraq, Bush announces Plan for Victory: Better late than never, I suppose. And what does the plan consist of? 'Staying the course'; refusing to 'cut and run'; and 'as the Iraqis stand up, we'll step down' and other such hideous cliches. Staying the course presumably meaning the course into the quicksand, refusing to cut and run means leaving US military cannon fodder as sitting ducks to be picked off on a daily basis, and as for Iraqis stepping up, the whole world can see the tremendous determination and courage with which the Iraqis have stepped up to take on the 'greatest military in the history of the world.'

Meantime in the real world, Democrat Hawk John Murtha says "Most U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth.""

As a satirist has it:

One day after making a speech on Iraq at the United States Naval Academy in front of a giant placard reading "Plan For Victory," President George W. Bush pronounced the "Plan For Victory" slogan an unqualified success. "Much time, thought and effort went into creating the ‘Plan For Victory' slogan," Mr. Bush said today at a White House press conference. "I think we can all agree that the hard work that went into that slogan has really paid off."

The president said that not only were the words "Plan For Victory" catchy and memorable, but the choice of yellow letters against a blue background was perfect: "The yellow against the blue really made the letters stand out in a victory-like way."

Mr. Bush told reporters that he believed that "time and patience" were the ultimate keys to success in Iraq, adding, "It took time and patience for us to come up with a really effective slogan like ‘Plan For Victory.'" But even as he praised his administration's latest slogan, Mr. Bush said he would not rest on his laurels, vowing to create additional slogans to defeat the insurgents in Iraq.

"The insurgents may have many weapons at their disposal, but they are not as good as we are at coming up with slogans," Mr. Bush said. "So far the only one they've come up with is ‘Jihad' – not catchy at all, if you ask me."

Picking up on Murtha's earlier remarks calling for the inevitable US withdrawal and the outcome of the Cairo Arab League conference, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle attempted to move a motion in the Senate calling for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq. However, Labor and the Government combined to block the motion. Australia should never have been involved in a Middle East war on dubious pretexts in the first place, but now that it has been described as 'the worst strategic disaster in the history of the United States' incompetently conducted by the 'worst President in the history of the United States' it would not be possible to imagine a more spineless attitude from both major parties.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War: "For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins."

This article by Martin van Crevald is another in the increasingly popular genre of really ferocious criticism of Bush and his disastrous war by 'establishment' figures. It's being quoted all over the place but it contains an error that should have been corrected by now. Namely, that Augustus' General Varus and his legions were annihilated in the Teutoburg Forest in the year 9 AD, not 9 BC.