Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Worst President in History? Monster deficits... "Between 2001 and 2005 alone, the Bush White House borrowed $1.05 trillion, more than all of the previous presidencies combined (the forty-two presidents who held office between 1789 and 2000 borrowed a combined total of $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions.)"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mason Gaffney discusses Hurricane Katrina and Recovering from Another Great Disaster, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906: "How did a city [San Francisco] with so few assets raise funds to repair its broken infrastructure and rise from its ashes? It had only the local property tax, and much of this tax base was burned to the ground. The answer is that it taxed the ground itself, raising money while also kindling a new kind of fire under landowners to get on with it or get out of the way."

"Even in the flooded and abandoned areas [of New Orleans] there is strong demand from absentee bottom-fishers looking for a free ride up the price elevator as the efforts of others bring back the neighborhoods. Yet this kind of dynamism is worse than stasis. These absentees choke out other buyers aiming to commit themselves -- to rebuild and reside and make neighborhoods.... Mayor Nagin of New Orleans tells the world that Katrina wiped out most of his tax base, so he is impotent."

Prisoner of conscience: RAF doctor who refused Iraq service is jailed: "“The invasion and occupation of Iraq is a campaign of imperial military conquest and falls into the category of criminal acts. I would have had criminal responsibility vicariously if I had gone to Iraq.""

During the whole course of the obviously illegal and criminal Iraq war a mere handful of people in the military, government and public service of the aggressor countries have had the courage to oppose it on principle. In one sense, the Nuremburg defence ('I was only following orders') is valid, in that you cannot seriously expect people in any numbers to risk career, income, status, freedom by making a stand against wrong. Those few that do, of course, are heroes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Euston Manifesto: The comments are more amusing than the 'Manifesto':

"Do we need another warmongers charter?"

"I don’t think this is a left-wing manifesto at all. I think it is a neo-conservative one, with some vague, sugary liberal coating about human rights."

"Pretentious and hilarious in equal measure. The ‘Euston Group’ is a 21st-century attempt at creating another Bloomsbury Group, albeit with even more elitism and even less influence. Despite all the pompous posturing, all it does is create “a new Website”.

"As for the Manifesto itself, it is very telling that the only topics that are dealt with in any real depth are…the Iraq War and Islamic terrorism."

"Oh dear! History has passed them by and they find themselves beached with Bush, Blair and the zionists. So why not set up another “left-wing” group? Trouble is, who apart from those listed would be attracted?"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chomsky On Hegemony And Disarmament: "It is widely recognised among strategic analysts that unless production of weapons-grade fissile materials is controlled, the fate of the species is very much in doubt. There are sensible proposals as to how to deal with this problem: the proposal of Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to place production of fissile materials in the hands of an international agency, to which states could apply for legitimate uses; and the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FISSBAN) called for in a UN resolution of 1993. The U.S. would never accept ElBaradei's proposal. In fact, the only state to have accepted it, to my knowledge, is Iran, in February 2006 (unreported in the Western press, to my knowledge)."

"India faces some important choices. It has made some steps towards closer relations with China, but is also tempted by the prospects of joining Britain in its role as a "spear-carrier for the pax Americana", as Blair's Britain is described in the journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs."

"The U.S. could gain access to Iranian energy resources and markets if it chose, but it is more important to punish Iran for defying Washington in 1979 by overthrowing the tyrant that the U.S. and U.K. had installed when they destroyed Iran's parliamentary system. Such "successful defiance", as it is described in the internal record, cannot be tolerated, just as it cannot be tolerated by the Mafia, to which international affairs bears an uncomfortable resemblance. It is possible that sooner or later Japan and China (the leading lenders to the U.S.), and others, might switch to a basket of currencies, primarily the Euro, and that energy producers might do so as well. The effects on the U.S. economy, and the global economy, could be substantial."

General Newbold provides an illustration of what is meant by the problem of 'successful defiance'. After explaining clearly enough why the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, he then says a 'precipitous' withdrawal would "send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists' message that America can be defeated." The Mafioso Don's 'credibility' must be preserved above all else.

The Iran Plans: Seymour Hersh's latest account of extensive Pentagon planning for war, even nuclear war, against Iran.

It is amusing to observe the disconnect in the following excerpt: "Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ” "

As John Pilger has observed, the Bush Administration is the Third Reich of our time, and appeasement of US threats and aggression is the height of folly. It is Bush who is threatening nuclear war against Iran, threatening to start World War 111, but somehow this more or less obvious fact is not noticed by scores of journalists, politicians and commentators.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, to his credit, has publicly declared that a nuclear strike on Iran would be 'completely nuts.' An obvious question to ask Blair and Howard would therefore be Do they also consider a conventional or nuclear attack on Iran as inconceivable or 'nuts' and do they intent to convey that feeling to the US? Or do they intend to maintain the pattern of appeasement of US aggression even to the extent of nuclear warfare?

Jorge Hirsch has a typically even more alarming post about the likelihood of a nuclear attack against Iran: "If there is an aerial bombing of Iran, I believe it is inevitable it will go nuclear.... I believe President Bush has embraced the breaking of the 60-year old taboo against the use of nuclear weapons as his personal goal ... The President has sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, Congress has no say. The chain of command doesn't go through the Joint Chiefs of Staff that may oppose it as Hersh mentions: it goes directly from Bush and Rumsfeld to commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands such as Gen. Abizaid and Gen. Cartwright. Unless those individuals disobey orders, there is no way to stop it.... Iran will respond to a conventional attack with conventional weapons (eg missiles) and will not be deterred by a US nuclear threat from doing so. The US will use nuclear weapons against Iran because certain sectors of the American establishment, that are in power now, believe it is in the long term strategic interest of the US to do so.... no US military power will be able to contain the chaos and asymmetrical warfare that will engulf the region after the US attacks Iran."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

An Interview with William Blum - Osama's Favorite Writer?: "They went around the world during the Cold War stamping out one attempt after another at improving people's lives The Cold War has always been sold to us as, 'We are the good guys and the Commies were the bad guys and the good guys won.' But it's a total fabrication."

"Those people who are beyond surgery or any kind of relief-I estimate their number at 15% of the population-- I suggest to activists to stop wasting their time on them. They will not change even if the Government comes into their homes and kidnaps their first-born and takes them away screaming The other 85% are capable of change if they get enough input."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Failed States, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez: "If we're talking about exit strategies from Iraq, we should bear in mind that for the U.S. to leave Iraq without establishing a subordinate client state would be a nightmare for Washington. All you have to do is think of the policies that an independent Iraq would be likely to pursue, if it was mildly democratic. It would almost surely strengthen its already developed relations with Shiite Iran right next door. Any degree of Iraqi autonomy stimulates autonomy pressures across the border in Saudi Arabia, where there's a substantial Shiite population, who have been bitterly repressed by the U.S.-backed tyranny but is now calling for more autonomy. That happens to be where most of Saudi oil is. So, what you can imagine -- I'm sure Washington planners are having nightmares about this."

"Second is their so-called democracy-promotion mission elsewhere in the world. The latter is just pure fraud. The only evidence that they're interested in promoting democracy is that they say so. The evidence against it is just overwhelming, including the cases you mentioned and many others. I mean, the very fact that people are even willing to talk about this shows that we're kind of insisting on being North Koreans: if the Dear Leader has spoken, that establishes the truth; it doesn't matter what the facts are. I go into that in some detail in the book."

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