Monday, July 31, 2006

Children killed in Qana outrage: Blair is a kind of Saruman of the West - No.2 who wanted to be no.1 because (he believes) he is smarter, better and more deserving. No.1 (Cheney) is obviously unimpressed.

And after his evil has been fully exposed to devastating effect, Blair is repeatedly offered opportunities to repent, but he refuses and viciously turns back to his stupid and self-destructive ways.

Hopeless Courage: "Tolkien had eternal respect for such figures who fought against evil not for the promise of any eternal reward (there was none; Valhalla was but a training ground for the final battle in which the forces of good would be obliterated once and for all), but for the simple reason that it was the right thing to do. The hopeless struggle of good against evil evokes a world in which heroes are able to attain a nobility of character unparalleled in other traditions and mythologies."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Uri Avnery Q & A on the Israel/Hizbollah war: Some plain speaking on the subject, not very flattering to the civilian and military Israeli leadership.

No ceasefire 'for weeks' as Lebanon talks stall: "“Could the Prime Minister really not speak up for the simple proposition that the slaughter of innocent people in Lebanon, the destruction of their country and the ruin of half a million lives were wrong and should stop immediately?”"

Put that up on Blair's tombstone as an epitaph, right along with the 'weapons of mass destruction'.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

UN observers begged Israelis to stop shelling their position: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan described the killing of 4 unarmed UN peacekeepers (including a Chinese soldier) as 'apparently deliberate'.

This war has highlighted the arrogance and militarism of Israel, and produced some of the most disastrous publicity for it. Who was the military genius who decided to bomb Beirut International airport as one of the first acts of the war? This immediately left stranded thousands upon thousands of foreign nationals, who began screaming into their TV cameras to get them the hell out of the place, producing a seemingly endless barrage of negative publicity.

Isreal seems more and more like the Prussia of the Middle East: a small country with a large military that believes war is the answer. The military overwhelms the civilian leadership, pulling Schlieffen plans out of the draw to execute without apparent regard to the negative political and diplomatic consequences of bombing the airport, the UN or the civilian infrastructure generally, not to mention the consequences of a war which is lost or only partly won.

And when Condi Rice appeared in Beirut, Israeli bombing temporarily stopped. Here's a suggestion: send her back to Beirut or 'somewhere in southern Lebanon.'

The US vetoed a resolution in the Security Council and has a position calling for a 'sustainable ceasefire'. This Orwellian phrase simply means no ceasefire at all but a green light for Israel to continue attacking, including attacks on peacekeepers, civilians and civilian infrastructure, as long as it likes. Howard, predictably, echoes the US line. One wonders whether he is in touch with the US to pick up directly the US/Israeli talking points.

And its a duplicitous game that Howard is playing:

Australia apparently voted with the rest of the world in the General Assembly, but Howard publicly supports the US/UK/Israeli position of a sustainable ceasefire (unrestricted warfare). What can explain this inconsistency? I would venture that Howard does not want Australia to be seen to be globally isolated in the General Assembly in support of an indefensible position, but at the same time because Assembly votes are generally ignored no one outside the chamber will notice if he publicly supports the UKUSIS (UK/US/Israel) position.

Diplomacy and votes in both the Security Council and the General Assembly are not reported as promptly and prominently as they ought, except for one dramatic recent exception: the massive reporting on the Security Council debate over Saddam's 'weapons of mass destruction.' And that of course explains why there is little reporting: that affair was a devastating diplomatic and political defeat for the United States. Day after day, week after week the lack of credibility of the US position and its nakedly aggressive agenda was held up for the whole world to see. With Powell gone and yo Blair! the poodle despised, Bush & co will be sure not to make that mistake again. Cheney and Rumsfeld didnt want to do it in the first place. Which is precisely why the UN should get full attention in progressive reporting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

'Israel is to the US what Serbia was to Russia in The Summer of 1914 - by William S. Lind: "If Hezbollah and Hamas win – and winning just means surviving, given that Israel's objective is to destroy both entities – a powerful state will have suffered a new kind of defeat".

But Israel already suffered a new and major kind of defeat in Lebanon - Sharon's 1982 invasion led to the creation of Hezbollah (where nothing existed before) which then proceeded to expel Israel from Lebanon altogether.

"So far, Hezbollah is winning. As Arab states stood silent and helpless before Israel's assault on Hamas, another non-state entity, Hezbollah, intervened to relieve the siege of Gaza by opening a second front. Its initial move, a brilliantly conducted raid that killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two for the loss of one Hezbollah fighter, showed once again that Hezbollah can take on state armed forces on even terms."

"Hezbollah then pulled off two more firsts. It responded effectively to terror bombing from the air, which states think is their monopoly, with rocket barrages that reached deep into Israel. One can only imagine how this resonated worldwide with people who are often bombed but can never bomb back. And, it attacked another state monopoly, navies, by hitting and disabling a blockading Israeli warship with something."

"Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, referring to the initial Hezbollah raid, said, "I want to make clear that the event this morning is not a terror act but the act of a sovereign state that attacked Israel without reason." This is an obvious fiction, as the state of Lebanon had nothing to do with the raid and cannot control Hezbollah. But it is a necessary fiction for Israel, because otherwise who can it respond against?"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Avnery: The Real Aim: "THE REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government. That was the aim of Ariel Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed. But Sharon and his pupils in the military and political leadership have never really given up on it. As in 1982, the present operation, too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with the US."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hizbollah's Response Reveals Months Of Planning By Robert Fisk

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Putin rejects Bush's Iraq democracy model: "During a joint news conference Saturday in St. Petersburg, Bush said he raised concerns about democracy in Russia during a frank discussion with the Russian leader.

"'I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same,' Bush said."

"Putin replied, 'We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy that they have in Iraq, quite honestly.'" Very droll...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Two Palestinians in Gaza Kidnapped By Israel before the capture of Israeli soldier: If you've been watching the corporate media (goddamit but its hard to avoid) the Israeli spokesmen have been demanding the release of the soldier every day but how much has been reported of the kidnapped Palestinians?

"Interestingly, the language used by the British media mirrors that used by the Israeli media. The words "retaliation", "escalation", "pressure", "kidnap" and "hostage" are all drawn from the lexicon of the Israeli press when talking about the Palestinians. The only Israeli term avoided in British coverage is the label "terrorists" for the Palestinian militants who attacked the army post near Gaza on 25 June. In other words, the British media have adopted the same terminology as Israeli media organisations, even though the latter proudly declare their role as cheerleading for their army against the Palestinian enemy."

Reinhart: Attack on Gaza (and Lebanon?) pre-meditated: "Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army's war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Governmental authorization for action on a larger scale was already given by 12 June, but it was postponed in the wake of the global reverberation caused by the killing of civilians in the air force bombing the next day. The abduction of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June with the destruction of infrastructure in Gaza and the mass detention of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank, which was also planned weeks in advance.... Hamas remains committed to political struggle against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In Israel's view, the Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel's demands."

The corporate media, of course, takes the Israeli narrative at face value.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Noam Chomsky in Lebanon May 2006 - first ever visit to Lebanon: Interesting summary of his 8 day visit. Includes a meeting with Hizbollah leader Nasrallah.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Latest Hersh on Iran: The Pentagon is trying to warn Bush against war with Iran: "A retired four-star general, who ran a major command, said, “The system is starting to sense the end of the road, and they don’t want to be condemned by history. They want to be able to say, ‘We stood up.’”"

Iran is warning the Gulf states: "Iran’s message to the oil-producing Gulf states, the retired diplomat said, has been that it will respond, and “you are on the wrong side of history.”"

Karzai: Revealed, Reviled, Orphaned, and at Bay - by Bahlol Lohdi: Article on the slow and probably unstoppable disintegration of the Afghan occupation, with a focus on Karzai, "an incompetent foreign puppet of no intellect, and totally corrupt."

Of note is a remarkable incident involving Cheney:

"The first overt sign of the changed circumstances in Afghanistan became apparent when Cheney visited Kabul to participate in the inauguration of Afghanistan's "first freely elected parliament." As Cheney's motorcade approached the parliament compound, the guards allowed his car to pass but firmly closed the gates in the face of the rest of his entourage. All of Cheney's staff members, men and women, were forced to disembark, made to face the wall, and enthusiastically body-searched. The situation turned more tense and ugly when the guards insisted on rummaging through the military aide's brief case, which contained the codes for unleashing a nuclear war. Fortunately, after a brief tussle, the Afghan security detail relented and Cheney's staff was allowed to enter the bastion of Afghan democracy. Surprisingly, the American media ignored this unprecedented and grossly insulting behavior toward the vice president of the United States."

Revealed: how Downer waged war with US to protect Iraq wheat trade: "They show that more than six months before the outbreak of war, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, suggested that military support for the US in Iraq would benefit Australia's commercial position. Once war had broken out, he was concerned the US would use its battle deaths as justification for seizing Australia's wheat trade.

At a meeting in August 2002 in Mr Downer's Canberra office, the Prime Minister, John Howard, senior government officials and executives from the wheat exporter AWB discussed the outlook for Australia's sales.

"The documents reveal an idea was floated at the meeting whereby Australia would provide military support for the US on the condition its wheat trade was protected. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade record of conversation shows Mr Downer suggested Australian support for the US would benefit 'Australia's commercial position in Iraq'."

"In one dispatch, a Foreign Affairs official reported Mr Downer telling Mr Powell words to the effect that the US could 'forget Aussie support in future' if America flooded Iraq with wheat after the war. Mr Downer stipulated that his request for Australia's Iraqi sales to be protected be formally recorded in the minutes of his meetings with Mr Powell. Senior Australian officials in Washington were instructed to press the issue at every opportunity.

"Once the war began, the wheat issue was never far from the Government's mind."

I thought the purpose of the war was to find the weapons get Saddam for 9/11 build democracy, not to fix up big wheat contracts. The cynicism of our ruling elite is such that it wouldn't surprise me if Downer more or less proudly admitted that the substance of this report is correct.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Gleen Greenwald post on redstate hatespeech: This is an all too typical example of degraded political discourse in the US. Hatespeech and violent political rhetoric are intrinsically dangerous and as such should be strongly and consistently condemned by every civilised person. But I remain to be convinced that the current manisfestations are anything other than political rhetoric.

One of the features of Hitler's rise to power was that the whole effort was dedicated from the outset to establishing a dictatorship led by Hitler himself - party, SA, SS, stormtroopers, streetfighters, propaganda, everything. Surely Rove & co cannot seriously be entertaining overtfascism. They can exploit this kind of nasty rhetoric for political purposes but it may leave them nowhere to go in the end. Or could there be a stumbling and accidental descent into fully-fledged fascism?

Israel: an adolescent with nukes: "By the age of 58 a country - like a man - should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and for bad, who we are, what we have done and how we appear to others, warts and all. We acknowledge, however reluctantly and privately, our mistakes and our shortcomings. And though we still harbor the occasional illusion about ourselves and our prospects, we are wise enough to recognize that these are indeed for the most part just that: illusions. In short, we are adults.

"But the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country - and its many economic achievements - have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one 'understands' it and everyone is 'against' it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced - and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting - that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal."

"Even the inauguration of the illegal settlements and the disastrous invasion of Lebanon, while they strengthened the arguments of Israel's critics, did not yet shift the international balance of opinion. As recently as the early 1990s, most people in the world were only vaguely aware of the "West Bank" and what was happening there. Even those who pressed the Palestinians' case in international forums conceded that almost no one was listening. Israel could still do as it wished.

"But today everything is different. We can see, in retrospect, that the victory of Israel in June 1967 and its continuing occupation of the territories it conquered then have been the Jewish state's very own nakba: a moral and political catastrophe. Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza have magnified and publicized the country's shortcomings and displayed them to a watching world. Curfews, checkpoints, bulldozers, public humiliations, home destructions, land seizures, shootings, "targeted assassinations," the separation fence: All of these routines of occupation and repression were once familiar only to an informed minority of specialists and activists. Today they can be watched, in real time, by anyone with a computer or a satellite dish - which means that Israel's behavior is under daily scrutiny by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The result has been a complete transformation in the international view of Israel.... It has become commonplace to compare Israel at best to an occupying colonizer, at worst to the South Africa of race laws and Bantustans."

"the long cultivated persecution mania - "everyone's out to get us" - no longer elicits sympathy. Instead it attracts some very unappetizing comparisons: At a recent international meeting I heard one speaker, by analogy with Helmut Schmidt's famous dismissal of the Soviet Union as "Upper Volta with Missiles," describe Israel as "Serbia with nukes."