Friday, June 30, 2006

Counter-terrorism experts: US losing 'war on terror'.: "Asked whether the United States is 'winning the war on terror,' 84 percent said no and 13 percent answered yes. Asked whether the war in Iraq is helping or hurting the global antiterrorism campaign, 87 percent answered that it was undermining those efforts."

You have to wonder about the 13% who said the US is 'winning'. Presumably they think terrorism is decreasing; resentment against the US falling away; and positive approval ratings for Bush and the US in Islamic countries is on the rise.

The American Political Tradition: "Kinzer does not buy into the myth of an American Century in which the forces of freedom fought those of totalitarianism. His alternative version of that century, running from the 1890s to the present day, recounts the generally sorry record of US efforts to subvert and overthrow foreign governments that failed to meet with American approval. His new book catalogues fourteen such episodes, beginning with the 'revolution' concocted by wealthy American planters in 1893 to depose Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalani and culminating with George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq 110 years later."

"Overthrow makes it abundantly clear that far from being some innovation devised in the aftermath of 9/11, 'regime change' has long been a mainstay of American statecraft.

"When targeting some offending potentate for retirement, Kinzer notes, Washington has seldom if ever acted for altruistic reasons. 'Every time the United States has set out to overthrow a foreign government, its leaders have insisted that they are acting not to expand American power but to help people who are suffering.' In reality, however, the suffering of the oppressed has never figured as more than an afterthought. 'What distinguishes Americans from citizens of past empires,' writes Kinzer, 'is their eagerness to persuade themselves that they are acting out of humanitarian motives.' But Kinzer recognizes this as poppycock; like any great power, the United States has set its policy according to self-interest. Whether in Latin America, the Asia-Pacific or the Persian Gulf, the United States has seen regime change as a means for improving economic access, shoring up political stability and enhancing American control."

Its amazing the extent to which Americans, and even some non-Americans, are prepared to believe that the US 'acts out of humanitarian motives', and not self interest. The rules of human nature and history have been repealed, and suddenly, for the first time, in this one case alone, a power acts for humanitarian motives and not self-interest.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Observer Foreign Editor makes a fool of himself with 'superb demolition' of Chomsky: I think it is a good thing when journalists or editors try to 'take on' Chomsky: they almost invariably makes fools of themselves and advance Chomsky's credibility.

Comments to the article contain a range of for and against. One of my favourites is:

"In particular, the complaint about Chomsky creating 'a moral - or rather immoral - equivalence between the US and the greatest criminals in history' is crashingly stupid, because the Chomsky quote that is supposed to illustrate this explicitly says exactly the opposite."

The only way for the establishment to deal with Chomsky is through complete silence - no mention or discussion ever, because to mention or debate him can only backfire. This tactic worked for a long time through the 70s, 80s and 90s, but with the advent of the internet the control of discourse has broken down and even newspapers have been forced to address the topic and the complaints from their readers and ex-readers.

Chomsky interviewed by a Norwegian, classic Chomsky:

Danish cartoons and freedom of speech: "While defending the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten’s legal right to publish the cartoons (“The New York Times should have the right to publish anti-Semitic Nazi caricatures on the front page.”) he argues that the Jyllandsposten’s decision to publish had nothing to do with press freedom whatsoever. “This is just ordinary racism under cover of freedom of expression,” he says, before attacking the European press in general. “In Europe freedom of speech and freedom of the press are barely protected, in fact barely understood.” Chomsky refers to the Blair government’s attempt to push a law making it a crime to glorify terrorism. “When a Muslim cleric was imprisoned recently on charges of having glorified terrorism, the London Guardian had a lead editorial praising the judicial decision because people shouldn’t be permitted to spew hatred and to glorify violent acts, they should be stopped. Under that law virtually all the British press and publishers should be closed down. Do they incite hatred and violence? Yes. Do they support invading Iraq? Yes. That is supporting hatred and violence,” he says before concluding: “Nobody cares about freedom of speech. What they care about is using state power to shut down the kind of speech they don’t like. Even Stalin would have agreed with that.”"

Bush and Iran: "The Bush administration has engaged in a policy of aggressive militarism and threat. There has been a vast increase in our offensive military capacity, even moving on towards the militarisation of space. All this generates countermeasures. The Russians have sharply increased military spending on offensive military capacity, China is doing the same and Iran may be developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Every one of these steps increases the threat of even accidental nuclear war. Offensive nuclear armed missiles are on computer-controlled alert. We know that our own control systems are inaccurate, the Russians are much worse. As the threat increases, as the preparation for war increases, the threat of accidental war increases."

"That is going to go a long way towards solving the problem of nuclear war. There is only one problem, the US won’t accept it. The treaty did come to a vote, at the UN, it was November 2004, the vote was 147 to one, with two abstentions: Israel, which flexibly goes along with the US, and Britain, which was more interesting. The British Ambassador explained, he said Britain is in favour of the treaty, but can’t vote for this version, because it divides the international community – namely 147 to one. In other words for Britain it’s more important to shine the shoes of their master than to save the human species from destruction, which is basically what it comes down to. If there are no controls over fissile material production the chances of human survival are negligible. That’s were it stands. Actually there is one country in the world, one that has said it accepts ElBaradei’s proposal. That’s Iran. I’m sure it wasn’t published in Norway, it certainly wasn’t published here."

Bush in Iraq: Question: I spent some time with the US marines outside Falluja, and met a soldier who was totally against the war

Chomsky: Do you know any army in history where the soldiers didn’t say that? If you had interviewed German soldiers in Norway during the Second World War, what do you think they would have said? It’s not the fault of the soldier, that’s why they didn’t try soldiers at Nuremberg. They tried Von Ribbentrop and they hanged him, for one reason, because he supported the pre-emptive war against Norway. What does that imply?

"The US has created a military catastrophe in Iraq which I think is without historic parallel, I can’t think of any. I mean, Germany had less problems running occupied Europe than the US has running Iraq, which is mind-boggling. Germany was at war, resistance in Iraq has no support from outside to speak of, it’s marginal. The partisans in Europe would have been wiped out in no time if they didn’t have British and American support."

"the nightmare in Washington, is an independent, loose Shia alliance controlling most of the world’s oil. That’s almost the worst nightmare they can think of. There is a worse one. This loose alliance might decide to turn towards to the East. To turn towards the Asian energy system which is developing basically around China, it’s the core of it. China, Russia and maybe India will go along, it’s not clear, in working on an energy security grid, if they can draw Iran into it, which is possible. By geographic accident most Middle East oil happens to be in Shia areas, and if that moves along, it is for the US an utter disaster. But you can’t talk about this in the West, for we are not allowed to admit that oil had anything to do with the invasion of Iraq. We are supposed to believe that the US and Britain would have liberated Iraq even if its main export was pickles. And that most of the oil was in the South Pacific. That’s a kind of doctrine that has to be adhered to by Western intellectuals kind of North Korean style, the Dear Leader said so, so it’s true. If anybody had one brain cell functioning, they’d know that establishing a major base in the centre of the world’s energy system was the prime reason for the invasion."

Australia already being poisoned by nuclear waste: "When asked in the Australian Senate about whether or not the US would be using DU in its bombing of Australian sites, Defence Minister Senator Hill said, 'In relation to Depleted Uranium used by our allies we have said that, if they believe it is the most appropriate element to use in their particular munitions in certain circumstances, we do not think it is appropriate for us to press a different view upon them.' Senator Hill has since retired from Australian politics and has taken up residence as the Australian UN Ambassador in New York."

Note the utterly servile manner of this expression, in effect: 'if they (ie, US) believe it is ok to do it, who are we to question.'

"According to Leuren Moret, it is simply no longer possible to go to Afghanistan or the Middle East without being contaminated. How long before that is also true of Australia?"

The Iraq War in Context: A Strategy Paper Calling for the Immediate Withdrawal of U.S. Troops: "'The United States will not hesitate to strike preemptively against enemies, and will never again allow its military supremacy to be challenged.'
The National Security Strategy of the United States of America

Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model for the world.
President George W. Bush

The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq…What is at stake now is the way we run the world for the next generation or more, and really bad things will happen if we get it wrong.
Gwynne Dyer

We had to create a false rational for going in [to Iraq] to get public support. The books were cooked, in my mind. The intelligence was not there. I testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee one month before the war, and Senator Lugar asked me: 'General Zinni, do you feel the threat from Saddam Hussein is imminent?' I said: 'No, not at all. It was not an imminent threat. Not even close. Not grave, gathering, imminent, serious, severe, mildly upsetting, none of those.'
General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Retired)"

Gawenda: America's liberals need to loosen up: Do we really need to have Rovian extreme right-wing propaganda printed as 'opinion' in an Australian newspaper? Or is this to be the new official policy and rhetoric of the Howard Government?

"This liberal base of the [Democrat] party is essentially animated by a deep and abiding hatred of George Bush and everything he stands for and has done."

If that were all critics of Bush and his policies were motivated or 'animated' by then it would not be worth taking seriously. But of course it is not the case. This is a rhetorical device which sets out to make any or preferably all criticism of Bush and his policies illegitimate by a simple device: people who criticise Bush are motivated by hate; that is an illegitimate response to the government; all criticism can therefore be dismissed. I suspect you will see this device employed over and over again.

"Liberals - and, by implication, the moderate left in Europe and Australia - do not have a coherent position on the security challenges facing the US and the world since September 11.... Bush, and conservatives in general, at least have a coherent story to tell about the world in the wake of the September 11 attacks. America, which represents good, is in an epic struggle against evil, and liberals and leftists in general are constantly trying to undermine the "moral clarity" of America, rein in American power and make Americans question their faith in their country's exceptionalism."

"Liberals end up sounding wholly negative, motivated purely by anti-Americanism and hatred of Bush, more outraged by Bush and his Administration than by indiscriminate terrorist violence, the oppression of women and the religious intolerance and anti-democratic ideology of America's, and liberal democracy's, enemies."

Bush's aggression has killed 10,000 people in Afghanistan and 100,000 people in Iraq already by 2004, which is many more than were killed on 9/11. And presumably few or none of these people killed had anything to do 9/11. In the process of doing this the Administration has violated international law and the US constitution, and taken distinct steps towards a police state, including establishing and legitimising the use of torture, concentration camps, detention without trial and extra-judicial killings. The motive for all these actions is essentially wealth and power, ie control of Mideast energy reserves and power and wealth for US corporations and the US ruling elite. Terrorism (just as with WMDs) is simply a convenient pretext. There were of course no WMDs, which was apparent before the aggression against Iraq; and the invasion of Iraq has led to a predictable jump in 'terrorist' activity.

It is the duty of a citizen of the US or an allied country to oppose these actions and seek to change policy. If the writer cannot or will not see these facts and duties and instead acts as a propagandist for the government, that merely reflects on him. He is a crucial tool in the great machine, and bears his share of personal responsibility for the tragedy and suffering.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Why respond to Malkin & Coulter?: Hume's ghost explains why

US tortures mentally ill man: "'This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.'"

Was this before or after the torture, one might ask.

"Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations ... And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wingnut Ted: Digby posts an email from someone she calls 'Wingnut Ted'. On first reading I'm not convinced this isn't a troll or a joke from some clever kid. But most (including Digby) seem to take it as genuine.

If genuine, it is bizarre, and frightening. People have been completely brainwashed, believing nonsense, unaware that that is the case. It is a deep insight into the crisis of modern American politics. Progressives often argue that Ann Coulter should be ignored. I disagree. Coulter and her followers are a remarkable and important phenomenon that should be brought to the centre of discussion (and the ugliness identified with the Administration, if possible). The nearest thing we have in Australia would be Piers Akerman, Miranda Devine or Andrew Bolt, who I regard as paid propagandists, not journalists. They get their talking points from some rightwing thinktank (or Howard's press office) and off they go. Sometimes it is patently insincere (as well as hateful), such as when Akerman recently talked about 'man and dog' and 'man and goat' in reference to gay marriage on the ABC Insiders program. I dont believe Akerman (or Howard or Abbott for that matter) give two hoots about gays and gay marriage. They are simply working the political and propaganda advantage, no doubt influenced to some extent by the successful tactics of the US Republican party.

Digby's commenters, as usual, are as good as Digby:

boil: I don't get Ann Coulter's or Rush's shtick. Unfortunately I have lots of loved ones who do, and I'm always trying to understand. Their defenders say that they are not to to be taken literally, that they are satirists, humorists, etc. I don't get the joke. I also don't get how it is that Democrats hate America, when what Democrats are constantly fighting for is to uphold the Constitution. The America of the wingnutters seems to be divorced from the Constitution. It's some gung-ho far west ideal that has nothing to do with the laws that were meant to guarantee the freedom of American citizens. Government wiretapping without a warrant is against the law, yet to point that out is somehow un"American". Torture is against the law, yet to point that out is somehow to give comfort to the enemy. POinting out that criminals have rights that are spelled out in the Constitution is somehow to pander to pedophiles. I can see why rich pigs like Rush and Ann continue to shovel this shit, because hey profit from it, but what does it profit my Mom to toe the Repub line? She doesn't get any tax breaks, but boy she will not hesitate to call Russ Feingold a traitor. She claims to love America, but anyone who exercises their right to free speech at a Bush gathering deserves to go to jail. WTF?



For your sake, I am glad you do not understand it. Let me sum it up for you:

The new improved shiny Republican party of today believes America is a nation of men not laws. The "men" in this case is G.W. Bush and everyone who agrees absolutely with him and will toe the line no matter how absurd or ridiculous the policy may be.

That is: Bush = good.
Not Bush = bad.

Conservatism be damned, this is a cult of personality, an authoritarian and reactionary (and I might add spoiled and adolescent) personality at that. It is that simple.
I suspect that your loved who have these views also believe that men are inherently evil and cannot be trusted to do the right thing unsupervised. They are projecting their own weaknesses and faults onto everyone else. Too bad for them. Too bad for the rest of us too because unfortunately they are the people who keep theses bastards in power.

Alderaan: "Their defenders say that they are not to to be taken literally, that they are satirists, humorists, etc."

No, they are "kidding" the same way the racist guy in the office or around the dinner table is "kidding": not kidding at all, but he knows what he says is now socially unacceptable to the mainstream without pretending they don't really mean it.

[Bernard]: My view is that you have to call people on racism, hatespeech, fascism etc. It has to be not just socially, but also politically unacceptable, ie vocally condemned by both right and left. The right tactic was used orignally re Howard and Hanson, when Howard was called upon to publicly condemn her remarks. Howard of course, didnt condemn Hanson, but evaded the issue by talking about 'free speech', and ultimately profited enormously from Hanson. This is the distinguishing feature of his Prime Ministership. In time however, the right/conservatives must again condemn publicly and unequivocally the statement or exploitation of racist and fascist hatespeech.

Fencer X: The rightwing has mastered the art of simplification in it's debating tactics. They are capable of simplifying things so much that they no longer have any meaning, only emotional context - and I believe that is the point. They have taken Orwellian Doublespeak, used it to strip all meaning from many words in the English language and then replaced their meaning with emotional context. Everything they don't agree with can be lumped into a simple emotional category, "Bad/Scary/Dangerous." And since they have been so successful in removing rational thought from every day discussion in this country they are free to conflate anything that falls under the Bad/Scary/Dangerous emotional meme. This is what allows them to call Liberals terrorists and traitors, it allows them to say that Nazis and Communists are lionized by the ivory tower liberal elite, it empowers hate spewing, intellectually crippled serial liars like Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin and creates an enviornment completely hostile to rational discourse. Liberal arguments are automatically dismissed because we're the enemy, we hate America and we want the terrorists to win. So anything we say must be some subtle ploy to undermine America's will to fight those damn dirty Arab terrorists who want to destroy our American way of life (mom, apple pie and all). The villification of intellectuals only further complicates the matter. Informed discourse is seen as haughty, possibly subversive and probably manipulative.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Soil erosion: devastating threat: "The United States is losing soil 10 times faster -- and China and India are losing soil 30 to 40 times faster -- than the natural replenishment rate.

As a result of erosion over the past 40 years, 30 percent of the world's arable land has become unproductive."

Turkey's biggest budget ever movie to be released in the US: "Valley of the Wolves: Iraq starts off factually enough, with a depiction of a July 4, 2003, incident in which around 100 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade stormed the barracks of a Turkish special forces office in Iraq, arresting 11 Turks who allegedly were planning to assassinate the Kurdish governor of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Americans not only handcuffed the Turks but also forced hoods over their heads and held them in custody for more than two days. The U.S. government later apologized, explaining that its soldiers couldn't tell the difference between Turks and Iraqi insurgents because the Turks were not in uniform. Turkey didn't buy it, and this blockbuster is the payback.

"As the flick takes a sharp turn toward fiction, one of the 11 Turks in the 2003 debacle commits suicide to regain his warrior honor. His suicide note is sent to Polat Alemdar, the Turkish intelligence officer who stars in the Valley of the Wolves television show. Alemdar heads to Iraq to find U.S. Special Forces Cmdr. Sam William Marshall (played by Billy Zane), who, in his role as a self-described 'peacekeeper of God,' is busy leading a massacre of machine-gun fire on unsuspecting civilians at an Iraqi wedding. Survivors are sent to a facility where a Jewish-American doctor (played by Gary Busey) pulls out human hearts with Mengelian apathy and sells them to aristocrats in London, New York, and Tel Aviv. When one of the American soldiers expresses concern that a truckful of Iraqi civilians are packed in too tight to breathe, a fellow soldier stops the car and bullet-soaks the trailer and its human cargo. 'I was making sure they could breathe,' he quips, pointing to the holes in the truck."

While rooted in truth, it is the very excesses and caricatures of films such as this which will undoubtedly contribute to their popular success. As the Hollywood system finally breaks down and 'third world' movies and culture rise, one of the biggest casualties will be US imperialism and its international reputation.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Left and the Blathersphere: Alexander Cockburn gets in some sharp jabs at the left 'blogosphere'. There is a lot of good stuff there but a significant element of it seems to be increasingly dedicated to Democrat election campaigns. Who could be interested in that? Not even many Americans, much less the rest of the world. The blogosphere is not radical enough. I think they underestimate the importance of solidarity and grassroots consciousness raising. As some blogs become progressively more involved in Democrat politics they also become progressively less interesting and less progressive altogether. Of course under the primitive US electoral system, with no preferential voting (not to mention proportional representation) there is a strong disincentive to the building of any alternative. Its largely Democrats or nothing.

Interesting interview with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov: The US seems to have been checkmated over Iran, or as Lavrov puts it the May 31 offer from Washington is "a victory of common sense".

'Wash Post' Obtains Shocking Memo from U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Details Increasing Danger and Hardship: The frank memo signed Khalilzad describes a thoroughly disastrous situation, eg, "Since April, the "demeanor" of guards in the Green Zone has changed, becoming more "militia-like," and some are now "taunting" embassy personnel or holding up their credentials and saying loudly that they work in the embassy: "Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people." For this reason, some have asked for press instead of embassy credentials."

Ambassador Khalilzad's memo also says: "More recently, we have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames. In March, a few staff members approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate." Sounds like a mission on the brink of complete collapse....

Digby's commenters are, again, too good not to quote:

Tupharsin: You want it straight? Try this from Gwynne Dyer, the former naval officer, historian and lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (Britain's West Point)...

"It is not enough that the United States lose in Iraq. It must be seen to lose by the American public, for otherwise the project that lay behind the invasion of Iraq will soon enough be resurrected by some other administration, and not necessarily a Republican one."

Bruce Emory: Although it may give succor to the rightwing to quote these thoughts, I feel that an unequivocal failure in Iraq is the best outcome for America's future. Unless and until we see the preemptive war doctrine rejected out of hand, it can only cause greater and greater misery throughout the world. Better it fail in its maiden voyage than be arguably successful enough to attempt again.

James E. Powell: The fact that this cable is not getting massive coverage, and I mean Monica's blue dress level coverage, is revealing.

What it reveals is something understood here and on other left and center-left blogs: the corporate press/media is nothing more or less than the propaganda ministry of the Republican Party. But this is not understood by the great mass of Americans who spend little or no time acquiring information about Iraq, and who get 100% of their information from the corporate press/media.

[Bernard]: Powell is right to condemn the corporate media as a propaganda institution, but I also believe this is a common error in the left blogosphere. I dont think the media coverage would really be much different on this and other issues if the Democrats were in charge, eg if Hillary were President and Kerry/Murtha controlled the Congress. The Democrat policy of corporate imperialism is essentially the same, although they would naturally like to claim they are competent at it, unlike Bush. Media coverage will only really change when the US corporate/ruling elite finally concludes that the Iraq venture is a disastrous failure and has to be ended. Look for the signs. Is the recent Marine massacre coverage, similar to My Lai, such a sign? Withdrawal will be a particularly difficult decision to make. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq and the mideast has vast strategic significance. At present the war is only costing taxpayer's money (which is getting largely channelled to defence contractors) and soldier's blood (poverty draft cannon fodder). That could be willingly expended for some time yet in the hope the situation turns around. It is also, of course, costing Bush poll support, but that will not concern the elite as much as if the leading Democrat candidate plumbed for withdrawal before the official say-so. Hillary obviously has no intention of doing that.

[Powell continues]: I have little faith that a disastrous outcome will effect any change. It is hard to think of a more disastrous adventure than the Viet Nam War, yet the prevailing belief about that war is that it was a noble cause that was betrayed and sabotaged by weak and traitorous elements in our own country. As the last president election showed, one's opposition to the Viet Nam War is a major political liability. One's vocal support of it, even if one dodged the draft, is a political asset.

What can we expect? If history is any guide, nothing good for a long while. How many years did it take for Western Europeans to become convinced that jingoism and nationalist dreams of conquest are political diseases and that politicians who advocate wars of conquest are to be shunned? How many people had to die to drive home this simple truth?

joejoejoe: Instead of covering this remarkably stark cable from our US Amb. to Iraq Khalilzad to our Secretary of State the WaPo puts this on A4:

"Bush's Gut Feeling On Maliki Is Positive"

Enough with the Psychic Friends Network foreign policy. The highest ranking US official in Iraq, an Arabic speaking PhD holding, old-fashioned diplomat cables Foggy Bottom and calmly mentions things like 'ethnic cleansing' and 'kidnapping' and admits most US allies in Iraq don't even tell their family members where they work. And the Post buries it. Meanwhile President Bush looks into more eyes and sees more souls.

Gabriel Kolko: Why a Global Economic Deluge Looms: "Financial liberalization has produced a monster"

Bin Laden's jihadi spring: "It often comes as a surprise to people to discover that bin Laden has never claimed that al-Qaeda can or would defeat the US, much less that al-Qaeda's goal was to destroy the 'American way of life' or 'Western civilization'."

They could only be surprised if they took seriously the pronouncements of the Anglo-saxon governments, a mistake that no informed observer should be making by this time.

"He is not a man given to grandiose pronouncements and has limited his goal to incrementally increasing the pain inflicted on the US and its allies to force them to disengage from the Middle East to the greatest extent possible. If achieved, bin Laden believes, this would then allow al-Qaeda and its allies to focus on its main targets: the tyrannies that rule most Arab states, and the State of Israel."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Stolen US elections of 2000 and 2004 are or should be big news. But they are not.

Greens Senator Christine Milne: Australia to be nuclear waste dump under Howard's plan: "Make no mistake: the current debate about nuclear power in Australia is a furphy. The real agenda is the development of a nuclear enrichment industry and a global nuclear waste dump to store huge volumes of depleted uranium and to take high-level waste from all over the world, including the United States."

Howard’s real nuclear agenda: "Prime Minister John Howard says he is 'yet to be convinced' of the economic and other arguments in favour of nuclear power generation in Australia. 'All I am wanting is this country being open minded enough to look at the alternatives', he said again last week. However, while the PM may have doubts about the financial attractions of nuclear power in Australia, he is plainly as keen as mustard to see Australia’s nuclear industries expand into other areas such as enrichment and the storage of nuclear waste. Details have recently come to light about just how Australia could fit into US President George W Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) and how our island continent might become a one stop nuclear shop. And of course, what Dubbya wants, Johnny will bend over backwards to deliver."

"Australia and Canada have been invited to join this [US-led] "partnership" in which Australia’s role would be to mine and enrich uranium for export in the form of fuel rods for nuclear power generation to rapidly expanding economies like India and China. It would then accept the spent fuel rods back for storage. Australia would thus "lease" the nuclear fuel rods to customers."

Howard doesnt want a debate, he wants a smokescreen. Nothing that man says can be believed.

There's no debate, the nuclear debate was ended decades ago. This was nicely illustrated on this morning's Sunday panel discussion on the topic, which sported a number of aged gents advocating nukes: These old fossils backed the wrong horse a long time ago, but they have been wheeled out for one mad final fling in the nuclear cycle. Nuclear power is a failed industry if ever there was one. And if they are going to have a proper debate, can they please stop giving time to industry lobbyists in green drag? Green lipstick on a corporate pig. There is substantial and credible opposition to the nuclear power industry in the form of genuine opponents of nuclear and supporters of renewables, and those are the environmentalists who should be invited and quoted.

Sunday interview with Howard: when asked about dangers of nukes, Howard said that there are dangers elsewhere, as in windpower. I find this a revealing statement. So windpower incinerated 100,000 people in an instant? Or contaminated thousands of hectares in Ukraine rendering them unfit for human habitation? The statement on the face of it is absurd, and shows Howard's basic contempt and low regard for renewables and the environment.

Nuclear power is toxic, costly, dangerous, non-renewable and not the answer. The answer is renewable energy, and we need a 100% commitment to research and development of multiple forms of renewable energy, as well as a carbon tax to make alternatives more competitive, begin the phasing out of coal stations, and provide funds for research and other essential purposes. A carbon tax should be introduced immediately at a low rate with no exemptions, the rate rising gradually over time in order to be more effective in achieving its goals.

Any time or money spent on any nuclear 'debate' or 'inquiry' is simply time and money wasted. If the Labor party had the guts to decisively oppose Howard's initiative, together with the Greens they could crush Howard and the nuclear lobby at the same time.

Further questions for Howard: if Australia develops nuclear power, will it develop nuclear weapons? Will Howard rule that out? If Australia develops nuclear power as we are entitled to under the terms of the NPT, will we support Iran's right to do the same? Or will we rule out participating in any form in any US bombing or sanctions against Iran so long as it complies with the NPT? Or would Australia itself be liable for bombings or sanctions itself if it enriches uranium? Will other countries in the region, eg Indonesia, also go nuclear, and face the same issues?

There might be one benefit of everyone going nuclear, however. It might terminate once and for all the utterly foolish remarks of Downer and Howard about launching 'preemptive strikes' against Indonesia. But nuclear or non-nuclear, terrorists or no terrorists, Australia will not be making any unprovoked military attack on Indonesia, or any neigbouring country, please God. (I'm trying real hard right now to forget about Iraq). In the event that such an order was given, one might hope that the Defence forces would disobey, at least until such time as cabinet or parliament could convene and remove the Ministers responsible. Or perhaps the Governer-General could intervene and have the said Ministers taken into psychiatric care.

On cost alone, nuclear power is ruled out. Uranium ore is a limited resource, and at current rates of consumption is expected to deplete in about 40-50 years, sooner if the industry expands. But as the ore depletes, its price will go up. Australia has about 40% of known uranium ore reserves. A motza could be made in the export business. The whole 'debate' is simply a smokescreen for Howard to lobby for the mining industry.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Nuclear Power Cannot Be A Major Energy Source

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Nightmare Scenario for US: Defeat and ejection from Iraq.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The New York Review of Books: What Does Olmert Want?: Amos Elon discusses the tragic and absurd "'settlement project' in the occupied territories, now often described as the great historical mistake of 1967.... The settlement project remains a main, some say the main, impediment to a historic compromise to end a hundred-year war between two national movements over the same piece of real estate."

Jennifer Loewenstein: Setting the Record Straight on Hamas: Loewenstein documents the Hamas record on the two-state solution. The issue is, not whether Palestine will recognise Israel, but whether Israel will recognise Palestine on the 67 borders. If it did, that would essentially resolve the conflict. Kadima is an acknowledgement that Israel has finally abandoned any attempt to annex Gaza or the whole of the West Bank, just as it had earlier effectively abandoned the Sinai or 'from the Nile to the Euprates', but Israel has given no sign of surrendering the rest of the Occupied Territories. Thus the conflict will continue indefinitely, which appears to be the long term policy.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Text of Palestinian Prisoners' Document - National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners - by Marwan Barghouthi, Abdul Khaleq al Natsheh and Coalition of Prisoners: Palestinian endorsement of the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders (the 'green line'). Eminently just and reasonable, except that they might be more forthright about a pragmatic solution to the refugee problem; and they might have paid more attention to a solidarity movement in Israel, the US and the world. The problem for the Palestinians is that Zionist Israel now has and has never had any intention of ever withdrawing from the Occupied Territories (except when forced to). On the contrary the whole point of colonialist zionism is to take Arab lands by force, kill or expel the local population, bulldoze or destroy their farms and houses, and build Jewish-only settlements.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Transport efficiency: "The Russians finished electrifying the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from Moscow to the Pacific, in 2002 and electrified to the Arctic Ocean port of Murmansk several months ago. Almost all of Japan and the continental European Union (EU) have already electrified their railroads – so there are no technical limitations. Electric railroads are cheaper to operate and can carry more freight because they accelerate and brake faster (and can generate electricity while braking, saving energy) and have no delays for refueling.... railroads are 8 times more energy efficient than heavy trucks and also are more labor-efficient."

If this is the case then how did the inefficient transport system get off the ground in the first place? What kind of broken politico-economic system really is capitalism? It can be noted that years and decades of 'microeconomic' 'neoliberal' 'trade' and 'market' reforms don't appear to have done anything to address the problem.

The Gift of the Nile: "Having experienced a Cairo summer the first time I was in Egypt, I really can't imagine how life goes on in Baghdad now that the power is down to an unreliable hour or two a day. It's closer to hell than any human being who isn't Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld should ever have to go."

"In both the old and the new villages, however, many of the houses appeared only half built, with bouquets of steel rebar sprouting from their top-most, unfinished stories. Later I was told this look is a byproduct of the intersection of Egyptian-style family planning and tax planning.... – buildings under construction paying a much lower rate of property tax than finished homes."

"Egypt once had huge landed estates, originally owned by the Khedive (the Turkish governor – nominally loyal to the Ottoman Sultan but in practice an independent, hereditary ruler) and his cronies. These were later seized and sold by the Khedive’s European creditors when he was unable to service his debts, creating a cotton-growing aristocracy of foreigners and their native collaborators – what Trotsky called the comprador class.... One of Nasser’s early reforms – and one of the sources of his enormous popularity – was to expropriate the estates and parcel the land out to the fellaheen – the Egyptian peasantry."