Monday, February 27, 2006

Norman Finkelstein & Shlomo Ben-Ami: Complete Transcript Finkelstein, of course, is very good, but its a pleasant surprise to see how good Former Israeli Foreign Minister Ben-Ami is, especially after having had to put up with the programmed disinformation and propaganda of Ehud Barak. Finkelstein pays Ben-Ami a nice compliment when he says "if representatives of the Palestinians were to sit down with Shlomo Ben-Ami in a room, weren't subjected to the sorts of political pressures that Dr. Ben-Ami describes from Israel, I think a reasonable settlement could be reached."

The two have some different and intriguing interpretations of the tragic failure of the Camp David/Taba negotiations.

FINKELSTEIN: The Israelis chose Arafat [as negotiating partner after the Iraq war], not only because Arafat himself was desperate [to return to Palestine and resume control]. They chose him because they thought he would deny them what they were entitled to. He would suppress all resistance to the occupation. And then, finally, the day of reckoning came with the Camp David talks. It turned out Arafat was not willing to make those concessions to deny Palestinians what their rights were under international law, and I think that's where the impasse occurred at Camp David and at Taba.

And the standard interpretation, which comes — which is — you can call it the Dennis Ross interpretation, which, I think, unfortunately Dr. Ben-Ami echoes, is that Israel made huge concessions at Camp David and Taba; Palestinians refused to make any concessions, because of what Dr. Ben-Ami repeatedly calls Arafat's unyielding positions; and that Arafat missed a huge opportunity. Now, it is correct to say that if you frame everything in terms of what Israel wanted, it made huge concessions. However, if you frame things in terms of what Israel was legally entitled to under international law, then Israel made precisely and exactly zero concessions. All the concessions were made by the Palestinians.

BEN-AMI: What Dr. Finkelstein said here about international law, I want to make it clear, it is important, it is vital for a civilized community of nations to have an axis of principles based on international law, around which to run the affairs of our chaotic world. It is very important. It is vital, etc. But at the same time, when you go into political issues, and you need to settle differences, historical differences, differences that have to do with political rights, security concerns, historical memories, etc., it is almost impossible to do things on the basis of international law, but rather, on something that is as close as possible to the requirements of international law. The very fact that, as Dr. Finkelstein rightly says, the Palestinians were ready to make this or that concession is the reflection of them understanding that there is no viability, there is no possibility really to reach an agreement that says let us apply automatically and rigidly the requirements of international law.

The thing is that we need to understand that with all — frankly, with all due respect for the requirements of international law, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, a peace process is a political enterprise. And there are things that governments can do and things that they cannot do, because if you do things that leave you without political support, then you can do nothing. You can write poetry, not make peace. And we have been writing poetry ever since, because we are not in office. We have been advancing all kind of peace dreams. It is only when you are in office and you have a political support that you can move ahead. This is the only way that peace is done. We have done our very best. We went to the outer limits of our capacity for compromise without disintegrating entirely our home front, and this is an exercise that Sharon decided not to make, precisely because he learned from our experience. He said, "Listen, we are not going to do that. I am going to be unilateral. I don't believe in negotiations." It's very bad, but this is the lesson that he learned from the sad experience of the collapse of the peace process in the last year of Clinton's presidency.

The problem is Israel wants to have its cake and eat it too. Even a corrupt leader like Arafat could not accept Israeli grasping and arrogance on this scale, and Israel could not see the lost opportunity, that 'in justice lies the truest and highest expediency.' The talks were doomed to fail.

Hamas signals (again) that it will accept a two-state solution: "Palestinian prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh said in an interview yesterday ... that Hamas did not harbour animosity towards Jews and did not wish to throw them into the sea.

"'If Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, then we will establish a peace in stages,' he said, beginning with a long-term truce. He declined, however, to commit himself when asked if Hamas would recognise Israel's right to exist, a commitment implying permanent peace rather than a period of truce followed by war.

"'The answer,' he said, 'is to let Israel say it will recognise a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, release prisoners and recognise the rights of the refugees to return to Israel. 'Hamas will have a position if that occurs.'"

"Israel views the demand that millions of Palestinian refugees return to Israel as a non-starter, since it would mean the demographic demise of the Jewish state."

Zionist Israel is a racist state (like White Australia or Apartheid Africa) where 'Arabs' are considered inferior and totally unacceptable as citizens.
Beginning in 1948 and continuing, millions of Palestinians have been made into refugees in order that the Zionist state might colonise the land. Since the fall of the Soviet Union one million Russian Jews have migrated to Israel, but as Chomksy has previously remarked, Israel would resort to nuclear weapons rather than allow Arabs to return.

As a practical matter therefore the return of millions of Palestinians to Israel is not possible in terms of a political settlement. Some other solution would need to be found, eg monetary compensation or resettlement somewhere else. This would be the subject of current negotiations except that Israel has now and has never had any intention of a 'two-state' solution. Although the realities on the ground had forced even Sharon to abandon Gaza and heavily populated parts of the West Bank, Israel has every intention of colonising and annexing as much land as possible.

UPDATE: Full interview with Haniyeh here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Excellent interview re Bin Laden strategy

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Golden Dome of Samarra Destroyed. Before & After:

US involved?: "The popular mood has been anti-occupation rather than sectarian. Iraq is awash with rumours about the collusion of the occupation forces and their Iraqi clients with sectarian attacks and death squads: the US is widely seen as fostering sectarian division to prevent the emergence of a united national resistance.... the US aim of installing a client pro-US regime in Baghdad risked plunging the country into civil war - but not a war of Arabs against Kurds or Sunnis against Shias, rather a war between a US-backed minority (of all sects and nationalities) against the majority of the Iraqi people. That is where Iraq is heading."

"In the run-up to the December elections, Sadr's forces won decisive battles in Baghdad and the south against Sciri, the Shia faction more inclined to work with the US. The defeat of the Sciri forces gave Sadr's Mahdi army a powerful voice in the coalition that won the election, and helped nominate Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister against the US-backed Sciri man, Adil Abdulmahdi. Khalilzad is adamant that Sadr's supporters should not be able to exercise such influence. This is the cause of the political crisis engulfing the Green Zone regime.... All the Bush and Blair strategies are based on maintaining a pro-US regime in Baghdad. Freed from this hated occupation, proud and independent Iraqis will never elect a collection of US- and British-backed proteges."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Lengthy interview with Chomsky in Korea - very good

Friday, February 17, 2006

Expert: Iraq war a gift for Al-Qaeda to haunt us for next 20 or 30 years: "[Professor Paul Rogers] told the conference on politics and terrorism: 'Iraq is very slowly becoming something of a Jihadist training zone for a new generation of Jihadists, rather like Afghanistan was in the 1980s against the Soviets.

"'You get young Jihadists from Afghanistan travelling to Iraq, getting combats training against the American troops in urban environments and then taking their skills elsewhere.'

"Prof Rogers, from the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, added: 'The real gift to al-Qaeda is a long-term urban combat training zone, not a rural one as previously. 'That is going to come back and haunt us over the next 20 to 30 years.' "

Someone should make a compilation of the number of experts who before and during the war warned that it would only increase terrorism. We are facing one of the most gigantic of all big lies, that the war is or was a 'war on terror' rather than an imperialist war producing terror.

Profits correlate with rents: "This is in good agreement with mesoeconomic theory which states that inequalties in profits are correlated to rents." - and if surplus value was co-related with rents we would be making some progress. Mark Blaug says Marx assumed surplus value was equal per man but gave no evidence for this. But one could make the argument surplus value is not necessarily equal per man but rather varies with location and in fact is more or less correlated with site or economic rent. It's also necessary to reformulate the labour theory of value in such a way as to avoid the trap that Ricardo set for Marx - a technically incorrect statement which opened the door to the kind of criticism that 'throws the baby out with the bathwater'. The issue is an analysis that comprises both exploitation and allocation. The concept of exploitation - whether chattel slavery or 'primitive accumulation', ie enclosure of land and resources into monopoly or ownership class control - is straighforward and should be susceptible to analysis and explanation. People don't seem to have had much trouble getting it to work on the ground using such simple tools as whips, chains, guns etc so why is it such a big problem to analyse and explain? Of course the answer to that is that some things really don't want to be explained....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Attacking Iran should be an option: Britain's Tories: "'Every pressure must be brought,' [Tory Defence spokesman] Fox was quoted as saying in a speech to the right-wing Hermitage Foundation Thursday. 'But it was wrong for the European Union's foreign affairs spokesman Xavier Solana to rule out the use of force. It is wrong for Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to echo him. 'Frederick the Great once observed that diplomacy without arms was like music without instruments. We must keep all options open if we are to stand any chance of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis.'"

I've been calling repeatedly for Tony Blair to be arrested as a war criminal over the Iraq war. But what is one to do with half-witted Tories who want to start a war against Iran?

At least he didn't quote Hitler for diplomatic advice. In civilised countries, the waging or threatening of aggressive war against other countries is a supreme crime; and the purpose of diplomacy is to prevent war breaking out, or to bring conflict to an end as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Abortion will lead to Muslim nation: MP: "AUSTRALIA could become a Muslim nation within 50 years because 'we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence', a Government backbencher [Danna Vale] says."

So speaks the authentic voice of patriarchy and White Australia. You won't get Howard to disown this one. Let's face it: modern civilisation, can't handle that. It does make one nostalgic, however, for the good old days. Back in the day, men were on top, women were breeders, blacks were dispersed, Orientals were kept out and the only Muslim in the country was Abdul the Afghan camel driver. Women didn't have the vote or even an education, much less contraception or control of their reproductive organs. Lord no! Never heard of such a concept.

Friday, February 10, 2006

India almost invaded Pakistan in 2002: "Pakistani generals have said that the nuclear option would be exercised were the national existence of the country to be at stake. Had the Indian army overrun Pakistan, that situation could well have arisen. One of the scenarios considered at the time was that Pakistanis might use one nuclear weapon on Indian troops in the field, almost as a demonstration, a warning, and that such a limited use on a battlefield might not create the political space for India to escalate. But most people believed that after the first weapon was used the war would escalate to a much more serious exchange."

"The jihadis have nuclear ambitions of their own, and there were concerns during this crisis-and after it-about how secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are. The question is whether some of those weapons or the technology that surrounds them might leak to jihadi groups or dissenting Islamist military officers. He said the AQ Khan affair remains “a mystery in important respects,” but there has been a specific mechanism within the Pakistani military to enable it to control its nuclear-weapons programme. It obtained control and authority over AQ Khan’s laboratory two years before Khan was stopped. Elaborating, he said, “It’s unclear how much the Pakistani Army knew about Khan’s activities, particularly in the later phase. But if they didn’t know anything, which is the claim that the Pakistani leadership has made, it suggests that their internal system of controls was very weak. And, if they did know, then it begs a whole different set of questions: what, if anything, the Pakistani Army thought it was accomplishing by permitting, for instance, the sale of nuclear-weapons technology to Libya.”

"Coll quoted unnamed Pakistani generals who, he said, had told him that they have8,000 people working in their security directorate, most of them soldiers and retired soldiers, all dedicated to guarding the 50 to 100 weapons that Pakistan is thought to have manufactured. He added that there have been “very serious breakdowns” in the past five years or so. AQ Khan is one case, but not the only one. Asked if India and Pakistan had learnt any lessons from the 2002 standoff, he replied that there is evidence that some in the leadership on both sides learned the wrong lessons from this crisis. “For instance, the Indian military, or sections of it, came away with the lesson that they need to be able to attack quickly after a terrorist event, so they don’t create the time for outside powers to intervene diplomatically. They have started to recommend a new military doctrine called ‘cold start,’ which would allow them to attack across the Pakistan border within days.”"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

RtoS on Bush's policy as enunciated in the State of the Union address: "War will always be with us. I define this country in terms of war. I can do unusual, even illegal things, because we are at war. You cannot criticse me because we are at war. I have no intention of ending this war, only of promising that it will continue for a long, long time."

It is quite obvious that Bush, Cheney and the Administration just love the 'war' they're in and the political opportunities it presents them. It's the same strategy that has been used throughout history by those who exploit war in order to increase power:

'War abroad and repression at home.'

It's a wonder that this approach isn't criticised and condemned far more rigourously than it is, particularly when one considers the colossal fraud of the Iraq war, which obviously had nothing to do with 'terrorism' and instead predictably increased terrorism.

Or as HL Mencken said in particularly blunt form:

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy: "The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Iran's 6 point atomic plan ignored, suppressed: I still find it somewhat unlikely that the US would actually attack Iran, but the threat is certainly there. With the experience of Iraq fresh in everybody's mind, how can Europe, Russia and China appease the US going into such a war? The hypocrisy and double standards of the West and the US particularly is on a monumental scale as this article points out, and if people do not call the emperor on having no clothes, a heavy price may have to be paid.

Yet, incredibly, no one in the European or US media even examined the nature and content of the six-point Iranian proposal, confining themselves to the official pronouncements of the EU-3 diplomats who are more keen on satisfying the US's march toward the Security Council than in breaking the nuclear stalemate on their own.

These diplomats, so adept at "leaking" their own highly-publicized proposal to Iran last summer, kept a tight lid on Iran's proposal and, what is more, there is no evidence that any respected member of the Western media made any attempt to get their hands on Iran's proposal....

Clearly, listening to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's anti-Iran stance, Europe's main priority is US appeasement, and not Iran. Merkel's Iran-bashing could have dire consequences for Berlin's Iran and Middle East policy, in light of Germany's status as Iran's No 1 European trading partner.

Merkel, a novice in foreign policy making, has set aside the nuanced approach of her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder by facilitating the United States' war-prone approach to Iran. Merkel's government appears to be doing for the US on Iran the kind of subservient role London played on Iraq. This is a sure recipe for disaster....

Russia appears to have its Iran card poorly planned, and if not too careful it may soon find itself on the side of US-favored sanctions. Consequently, the whole spectrum of Russia's geostrategy will suffer indefinitely. The same pitch to China forms a carefully scripted sequence of "graduated response" by the US and, for now at least, that pitch seems to be working rather superbly.

In another good article, Afrasiabi, noting that the European response to the Iraq war was "feebly standing up to Washington's warmongering", points out the obvious, that the US is intent on global military hegemony especially through control of oil, and the other power centres, Europe, Russia, China and the non-aligned movement, all seem fundamentally hesitant in committing themselves to opposition to this. It is a recipe for disaster. The way to stop an Iran war, as with the Iraq war, is to openly condemn it, and to do everything possible to block it. Indecisiveness is unsatisfactory, and appeasers of the Blair (or Merkel?) kind are simply contemptible.

Positive thinking in the workplace: Kevin Carson in this and a followup post has a very funny piece on the latest craze in 'motivational' books for the corporate workplace.

In true anarchist style, Kevin concludes: "The lesson we ought to be learning is just the opposite: to instinctively doubt anything anybody in authority tells you."

Let's face it: the boss wants you to work harder to generate more profits, or replace you altogether with somone or something that could achieve that goal better. The only thing that makes it bearable is decent wages and conditions, and for that some solidarity could be useful.

Sydney Desalination plant dumped (at least until after the election): "Cabinet met yesterday and was presented with the initial results of drilling in western Sydney, which revealed there might be up to 30 gigalitres a year of groundwater in aquifers. That would nearly match the 45 gigalitres a year that might have been produced by the Kurnell desalination plant.

"The groundwater has been known about for several years, but the scale of the reserves was untested. The most recent testing provides the Government with the political figleaf to put the plant on hold for several years. The reserves are large enough to provide additional water for several years."

"The Government is still likely to buy the Kurnell land and build a pilot plant, but a full-scale plant will not be built unless needed. The new trigger is likely to be when the dam system falls to 30 per cent full.... The plant has faced universal opposition from the environmental movement because of the massive power consumption needed to run it. The Government's estimates recognised the plant would add 2 per cent to Sydney's power consumption."

"The change of heart follows a report from two experts, Dr Stuart White and David Campbell, to the water subcommittee of cabinet. As well as the aquifer water, they identified recycling opportunities of up to 70 gigalitres a year. The newly discovered aquifers are in the Southern Highlands and western Sydney, near the Hawkesbury River."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Former German intelligence officer summarizes the Iran war scenario:
Judging from the rather frantic behind-the-scenes efforts of Russia and China in Iran, they seem to appreciate that the Iranian leadership is in for a big and probably deadly surprise. The Bush administration has not only handled its Iran dossier much more skillfully than Iraq, but also managed to set up Iran for a war it can neither win nor fight to a draw....

Though a Western war against Iran will be a big geopolitical defeat for Russia and China, they cannot but resign themselves to this outcome if they are unable to convince the Iranians to accept the Russian proposal - ie uranium enrichment in Russia. The Russians saw the writing on the wall when France, Germany and Britain began to march in lockstep with the United States.

What in god's name are France, Germany and Britain doing appeasing the United States, backing Iran into a corner, and setting the scene for a possible war against Iran?

The Iranian leadership's obvious confidence in its ability to deter the US, Britain and Israel seems to rest on mainly four assumptions. Iran is militarily much stronger than Iraq, much larger, its terrain more difficult, its society more cohesive - thus more difficult to defeat, to occupy and to pacify. In addition, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad seems to take particular comfort from the widely anticipated wave of popular outrage and anti-Western attacks in the wider Middle East if Iran should be attacked.

Moreover, the economic costs of a war against Iran in terms of the price of oil and the interruption of the Iranian supply would propel the world economy into a tailspin. And finally, Iranian leaders seem to accept at face value the US moans over its overstretched military forces and the demoralization of US forces in Iraq.

These are all good, plausible reasons for a war not to be started, especially the global economic situation. It is going to depend a lot on how risky/crazy the US administration is. They cant be this crazy, surely?

An initial Israeli air attack against some Iranian nuclear targets, command and control targets and Shahab missile sites. Iran retaliates with its remaining missiles, tries to close the Gulf, attacks US naval assets and American and British forces in Iraq.

The Israel first strike would be designed to provoke Iran into attacking US forces as they have threatened, which would allow the US to mobilise its public for the commitment to a major war. Iran would be better served not to respond to the provocation other than diplomatically, monstrous though it would be.

If Iranian missiles have chemical warheads (in fact or presumed), the US will immediately use nuclear weapons to destroy the Iranian military and industrial infrastructure. If not, an air campaign of up to two weeks will prepare the ground campaign for the occupation of the Iranian oil and gas fields.

Iran's oil and gas is in the West of the country, bordering Iraq. That part, plus the southern coastline and the straits of Hormuz is all the the US would want.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chomsky on the Official US Definition of Terrorism: "The US Code for defining an 'act of terrorism' is an activity that -- (A) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; and (B) appears to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping."

"I've been using this and other official US definitions since I began writing on the topic in the early 80s, immediately after the Reaganites declared their war on terror.

"For two reasons: (1) they are reasonable and close to common usage, and (2) they are appropriate, because the government that offers these definitions cannot claim that it is exempt from their consequences. Second point is that later this definition has been withdrawn, presumably because it was recognized that an immediate consequence is that the US is a leading terrorist state. Though it is safe to rely on the intellectual class not to draw the conclusion, nevertheless there are always mavericks who tell irritating truths, and sometimes the usual techniques of lying, hysteria, tantrums, etc., do not suffice among the general public, even though they almost invariably do among the educated classes. For that reason, the standard view now is that defining "terrorism" is a profound problem, to be dealt with in international conferences, academic studies, etc. And it's true that it is a very hard problem to define "terrorism" so that it singles out what they do to us and our clients, but excludes what we and our clients do to them -- a problem so far not solved and very profound, no doubt..."

"For any definition, the most important questions, I think, seem to me to lie elsewhere: in the distinction between terror and the much more serious crime of aggression, and the distinction between terror and legitimate resistance."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Messy Compromise on Iran: "Russia and China, which had hitherto been opposed to reporting Iran to the UNSC, have taken a pragmatic decision to step back. Their intention, presumably, is to fight another day, in a battleground where they can exercise their veto power."

"Today, what has to be grasped by everyone is that the U.S. is hell-bent on setting the stage for a military conflict with Iran. And that the course and outcome of such a conflict will have consequences even more disastrous for our region than the Iraq war so far. The compromise struck in London on Monday only pushes back by a month the timetable by which this tragedy will be enacted."

"Each time it appeases Washington's relentless pressure on Iran, the international community is being made to climb higher and higher up a ladder whose final rungs can only be sanctions and war. This is precisely the route the U.S. followed against Iraq in its quest to effect regime change there. Its war of attrition using sanctions, inspections, no-fly-zones, air strikes, and impossible ultimatums lasted 12 years before ending finally in an invasion that surprised no one.

"In a candid speech to the Arms Control Association in Washington last week, Hans Blix, former head of the U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC), repeated a charge he has made before that the U.S. was never really interested in weapons inspections in Iraq. "My belief is that if we had been allowed to continue to carry out inspections for a couple of months more, we would then have been able to go to all the sites which were given by intelligence, and since there weren't any weapons of mass destruction, we would have reported that there weren't any." However, even with such a report, David Ruppe of the Global Security Newswire quoted him as saying, war probably would not have been averted as "there was a certain momentum behind it."

"Is there a lesson in all this for the world to learn as the Iran crisis slowly unfolds? Mr. Blix certainly thinks there is. "Today, I think I worry about the spin and momentum on Iran," he said. And well he might. The U.S. is not unaware that there exists a resolution of the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, demanding that Iran withdraw its temporary acceptance of the Additional Protocol as soon as the IAEA refers its case to the Security Council.... What would happen once Iran withdraws from the Additional Protocol, joining, in the process, the 106 countries who have yet to sign that document? IAEA inspectors would no longer be able to visit sites outside of those facilities that are already safeguarded."

"If indeed Iran has built clandestine nuclear facilities — as Britain and the U.S. believe — there cannot be a worse outcome from the non-proliferation perspective than IAEA inspectors losing their `go as you please' pass. However, in a perverse way, this is precisely what the Bush administration is hoping Iran will do. For once IAEA inspectors lose the special access they currently enjoy, this would allow the U.S. to seek yet another escalation — citing the urgency of regaining access."

'Appeasement' is the word. John Pilger said it before - the current US elite is the Third Reich of our time. Its objectives are imperialism and hegemony - not law and democracy. Countries which fail to recognise this reality and respond accordingly are simply guilty of appeasement. And as for countries that actually participate in this aggression, such as the UK or Australia - shameful and pathetic. And what do they get out of it? An oil field? A wheat contract? A terrorist bombing?

Hamas: We will not sell our people or principles for foreign aid: This statement by Hamas spokesperson Khalid Mish'al is an example of the clear-cut language and position of Hamas, and why they have superseded Fatah in the recent election. A few quotes gives the flavour:

We are being punished simply for resisting oppression and striving for justice. Those who threaten to impose sanctions on our people are the same powers that initiated our suffering and continue to support our oppressors almost unconditionally. We, the victims, are being penalised while our oppressors are pampered. The US and EU could have used the success of Hamas to open a new chapter in their relations with the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims and to understand better a movement that has so far been seen largely through the eyes of the Zionist occupiers of our land....

Hamas has been elected mainly because of its immovable faith in the inevitability of victory; and Hamas is immune to bribery, intimidation and blackmail. While we are keen on having friendly relations with all nations we shall not seek friendships at the expense of our legitimate rights. We have seen how other nations, including the peoples of Vietnam and South Africa, persisted in their struggle until their quest for freedom and justice was accomplished. We are no different, our cause is no less worthy, our determination is no less profound and our patience is no less abundant....

Our message to the Israelis is this: we do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us - our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.

We shall never recognise the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights. We shall never recognise the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else's sins or solve somebody else's problem. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are truly interested in a peace based on justice.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Former ADF head issues warning over US alliance.: "A former chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), retired Admiral Chris Barrie, has delivered a grim prediction on the state of Australia's defence alliance with the United States. He says in future, the majority of an untrusting Australian community will end up resenting the alliance.

"Giving the keynote speech at a Pacific Maritime Conference in Sydney, the retired admiral's scathing assessment of the ANZUS security pact included a prediction that in the next 50 years it would deliver very little of substance. "It's interesting when you wander around the Australian community today and ask that question," he said.

"I know that things are going to change, I know that politics in the United States invariably swings from one side to the other but I think ordinary Australians are making some serious questions about these things."

Former ADF chief Cosgrove wants out of Iraq and now his predecessor Barrie wants out of the US 'alliance' altogether. How long will it take for the politicians to catch up? The 'alliance' is worse than useless - it has dragged us into the US imperial Middle East war which has only increased the risk of terrorist attack against Australia and Australians. We would be safer if we didnt have a military at all, or at least one that the US couldn't find useful for it's own purposes.

Negative gearing will go if business has its way on tax: "The Business Coalition for Tax Reform wants tax lurks such as workplace deductions and negative gearing scrapped"

"Among the more courageous suggestions - given the coalition's membership includes the Master Builders Association and the Property Council of Australia - is to abolish or seriously curtail negative gearing on rental properties. Rental deductions rose threefold in the decade to 2002-03, the last year when statistics are available. Landlords told the Tax Office their property investments lost $4.6 billion more than they earned that year."

When even these business and property groups call for the abolition of negative gearing, that's a hint isn't it?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Female US soldiers fearing rape die of dehydration instead: "'women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep.'"

Down through the years in the history of human conflict every atrocity imaginable has been suffered, but I daresay this particular horror might be an altogether new one.

Iranian crisis summarised: In another good post, Big Gav brings together a collection of articles on the developing Iranian crisis. What strikes me about the crisis is that under the terms of the NPT Iran (like other countries) has the right to a nuclear energy program, including the enrichment of uranium. And so far, there is no indication that Iran is in breach of the treaty. The current demands by the US are superfluous to the treaty. The US and its client state Israel are openly and repeatedly threatening war against Iran, including nuclear war. This only makes sense in imperialist and hegemonic terms - naturally a regional hegemonic rival would want to be eliminated. But it does NOT make sense in terms of peace, security and international law (not to mention morality). Ideally, Iran should not develop nuclear weapons (or even a nuclear energy program). But were it to do so, while it would certainly change and perhaps change decisively the regional hegemonic equation, it would not necessarily increase of itself the risk of nuclear or conventional war. In fact it might even reduce the risk because it is a deterrent. We have learned to live with nukes.

However the US, instead of being condemned by the world community for this threatening behaviour, is effectively being backed and supported, even by the Russians who it appears might agree with the demand that nuclear enrichment be done in Russia but not Iran. Iran for its part has insisted on its right under the NPT and has threatened retaliation if it is attacked. Iran is being backed into a corner. Iran feels that the US has been weakened by the Iraq war and it should press its advantage. The US knows it has been weakened by the war and feels the pressure to deal with Iran while it still has a limited capacity or opportunity to do so. It is a dangerous game of brinkmanship which could lead to a miscalculation and consequent disaster, ie war.