Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Double Down

Generals wary of troop 'surge':
Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University, said Tuesday he believes the chances that adding 20,000 or so U.S. troops for several months would stabilize Baghdad are "slim and none."

Little George Bush, representing America, is a Big Player in the Big Game at the Main Table, secretly aided by a crack team of cardcounting neocons headed by Big Dick Cheney.

But after a few lucky wins (assisted by pop's connections to some crooks in the House) Little George's big pile of chips is starting to diminish, and he is sweating and moving in his chair, as the other more or less openly hostile players look on. The dealer has been sending aces and tens everywhere, except to Little George, and he needs one bad, almost as bad as he needs that drink.

"Dont worry", signals Cheney, "I've been counting cards and there's one more ace in the shoe." So Little George, cussing out and snarling, pushing out of his mind the wife back home, the House, the Senate, the Troops, the GOP and those shady foreigners he owes a lot of money too, pushes in a whole half of his remaining chips, and then doubles down on an eight. "Failure is not an option", he says to himself with a hint of desperation he can no longer conceal , "this is an ace strategery for victory, I know it".

But Cheney miscalculated. There are no more aces in the shoe. And even if there were, this is not exactly the right time to bet up and double down. Bush is bust, and so is America.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Interview with Flynt Everett, former member of the National Security Council:

We [US] haven’t been hit because the Jihadists themselves have decided that, at this point in their strategy, they don’t think it is advantageous for them to strike at the United States. They would rather focus on going after our allies in the region and in Europe, and then they would come back at us. I think we are not really doing well in the war on terror.

EurasiaNet: What you just said about Jihadist strategy, is it speculation, or is your opinion based on hard intelligence?
Leverett: No, this is the internet age. All kinds of documents… are available on the internet and other places. This is a major theme of the Jihadist discourse -- that they don’t want to go after the United States right now.

This is a rare reference to 'jihadist discourse', in spite of its obvious importance. I'm an Australian, I'm a citizen, I'm a target of these murderous extremists. What is the level of risk that I currently face? I deserve to know. Does the media, academia, the defence force, the intelligence agencies, the parliament, the government, have any assessment about these matters? Do they even read 'jihadist discourse'?

At this point I am guessing, but perhaps the failure of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is in effect serving to increase the security of persons such as myself. The humiliation of the United States in Iraq, combined with the target-rich environment in Iraq of US personnel may be sufficient to satisfy the jihadist impulse for revenge for the time being.

Certainly it is obvious that the aggression against Iraq has only increased the risk of attack against Western targets.

I think this administration is dysfunctional in some unique ways. There can be splits in any administration; it certainly isn’t unique to this one. But the level of division within this administration is more profound, and what’s more, there isn’t any real inclination to resolve the divisions to produce coherent policy.

Everett is here referring to the fundamental characteristic of the Bush Administration, its capture by Cheney and the neoconservatives. They are a driving force who attempt to cut off options for Bush who appears to be a complete tool (unfortunately, as his weeping father might feel).

I think the grand bargain is the only way to forestall Iran’s nuclearization. Given the potential consequences of Iranian nuclearization, why should the United States not do that? It is so manifestly in our interest to do it that not doing it is the strategic equivalent of medical malpractice. It is a real failure of leadership by the United States.

Everett is suggesting (same as the ISG) that negotiations and concessions to Iran could produce satisfactory results for the US. But again Cheney is working day and night to block that option. Instead of diplomacy, softpower and hegemony, Cheney and the neocons' concept of empire is brute force. People are either under attack or under threat of attack. You never 'negotiate with enemies'. This is a frankly stupid and disastrous concept of power and empire. But the neocons are relatively inexperienced in the game and perhaps could hardly be expected to be other than foolish and hubristic. Let's hope China and India have greater wisdom as they gain the power in the 21st Century.

I agree that a military strike by the United States is a bad idea. But at some point, probably in the next 12 months, the president’s current efforts in the Security Council will have played out. What we would get out of UN is certainly not going to be enough to leverage the Iranians to stop their nuclear program. At that point, this president would face a very stark, binary choice. He could either stand by and let Iran continue to cross significant thresholds in the development of its nuclear capability, or he could order military strikes to try to delay that development. I think that, with this president, when he is faced with that choice, the chances that he might take the military option are not trivial. It is a real risk. It is not going to happen tomorrow, or next week. We would be still working on the diplomatic route. But a year or so from now when the diplomacy has failed, the risks of a military strike are not trivial.

Everett is making the argument better than nearly anyone that Cheney and the neocons are and have been systematically cutting off the tool/fool Bush's options in favour of war and thus it becomes a possibility in spite of the fact that war with Iran is almost universally regarded as more disastrous than the failed and disastrous Iraq war.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Labor’s climate change plan meaningless without a coal moratorium

"Premier Morris Iemma has wedged himself with his statement that climate change is a key issue in this campaign, while at the same time overseeing the biggest expansion of the coal industry ever witnessed in NSW," Ms Rhiannon said.

"The 22 new coal projects proposed for NSW would have a combined capacity of 56.9 million tonnes of coal a year. This would result in the emission of 136.56 million tones of carbon dioxide every year.

"The Stern Review put a social cost on every tonne of carbon of $85. Applying this formula, the new proposals alone would have a social cost of over $11.5 billion.

"The Greens would prefer to work with Labor to tackle climate change. But if Premier Iemma and Planning Minister Sartor are not going to stop the Anvil Hill coal mine and the other new coal projects we will make coal an election issue.

"Coal is the elephant in the room. The NSW government is busy ignoring the major contribution that coal combustion makes to climate change.

"Talking about climate change without mentioning coal is like talking about obesity without mentioning junk food.

"The Greens Climate Futures Bill will place a moratorium on new coal projects. It will direct the NSW government to provide a transition package of retraining and jobs for coal communities, and to fast track the development of a renewable energy industry in NSW."

The Iemma Government's response indicates what could unfortunately be the reality of Government response to global warming: namely to admit the problem but fail to address it effectively because it is contrary to corporate interests to which the Government is beholden.

The debate has reached the point at which the scientific consensus on global warming, can no longer be denied, but not yet the point where Governments are obliged to take truly effective action. Yet time is running out, we have about a decade in which to take action lest the problem runaway from us.

The Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997, and therefore it has taken a decade for Governments such as John Howard's to even recognise the reality of the crisis. Will it take the only remaining decade before such Governments realise that action must be taken as well?

Governments and leaders have to speak honestly to industry and the public in relation to this crisis. The coal industry is killing the planet, and emissions have to be cut by 80% by the year 2050. The sooner some frank talking and serious policy initiatives are embraced the easier it will be to face the real problem.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What is Labor's policy on nuclear power?

Beazley and Rudd must declare nuclear stance before leadership ballot

"Labor's position on expanding uranium mining, uranium enrichment, nuclear fuel leasing and taking back the nuclear waste is two-faced, the Australian Greens said today."

"Labor's duplicity on this issue was demonstrated when ALP senators failed to support the Greens when we called for the rejection of uranium enrichment, nuclear waste dumps and nuclear reactors in the Senate this week."

"Australians deserve an answer from both leadership candidates to these questions:
- Do they support expanded uranium mining?
- Do they support uranium enrichment in Australia?
- Do they support nuclear fuel leasing and taking back the waste?
- Do they support high-level nuclear waste dumps in Australia?
- Do they support nuclear reactors for power generation?"

Instead of 'horserace' reporting on the Beazley/Rudd issue (or indeed, the Beazley/Howard or Howard/Costello question), what is the policy position held by each of these?

A strong argument can be made against nuclear energy, namely that it is costly, toxic, weaponistic, non-renewable and not the answer.

The policy of the Australian Greens and the NSW Greens at least is clear: opposition to the entire nuclear cycle in Australia, and a focus instead on renewable energy and energy efficiency.