Monday, April 09, 2007

Blum: Appealing to the United States is not very appealing
Shortly before the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, informed Washington, through a Lebanese-American businessman, that they wanted the United States to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts and "2000 FBI agents" to conduct a search. The Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. The Iraqis, moreover, pledged to hold UN-supervised free elections; surely free elections is something the United States believes in, the Iraqis reasoned, and will be moved by. They also offered full support for any US plan in the Arab-Israeli peace process. "If this is about oil," said the intelligence official, "we will talk about US oil concessions." These proposals were portrayed by the Iraqi officials as having the approval of President Saddam Hussein.(4) The United States completely ignored these overtures.

Of course. The US is not interested in democracy, it's predetermined intention was to remove the regime and establish direct control of the country and its oil fields. In fact countries like Iraq, if they are able to think of the future while facing death, ought take more care in the submission of the most detailed and cooperative proposals. In confidence at first, but openly published if the proposals are scorned.

The above incidents reflect Third World leaders apparent belief that the United States was open to negotiation, to discussion, to being reasonable. Undoubtedly, fear and desperation played a major role in producing this mental state, but also perhaps the mystique of America, which has captured the world's heart and imagination for two centuries. In 1945 and 1946, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh wrote at least eight letters to US President Harry Truman and the State Department asking for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French. He wrote that world peace was being endangered by French efforts to reconquer Indochina and he requested that "the four powers" (US, Soviet Union, China, and Great Britain) intervene in order to mediate a fair settlement and bring the Indochinese issue before the United Nations....

His pleas following the Second World War were likewise ignored, with consequences for Vietnam, the rest of Indochina, and the United States we all know only too well. Ho Chi Minh's pleas were ignored because he was, after all, some sort of communist; yet he and his Vietminh followers had in fact been long-time admirers of the United States. Ho trusted the United States more than he did the Soviet Union and reportedly had a picture of George Washington and a copy of the American Declaration of Independence on his desk. According to a former American intelligence officer, Ho sought his advice on framing the Vietminh's own declaration of independence. The actual declaration of 1945 begins: "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Of course it is always good to make the representations, if for no other reason than to put the matter on the public record.

Now comes the president of Iran with a lengthy personal letter to President Bush. It has the same purpose as the communications mentioned above: to dissuade the American pit bull from attacking and destroying, from adding to the level of suffering in this sad old world. But if the White House has already decided upon an attack, Ahmadinejad's letter will have no effect. Was there anything Czechoslovakia could have done to prevent a Nazi invasion in 1938? Or Poland in 1939?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Analysts: US strategy on Iran may have backfired:
Elements of Iran's government, painted as a rogue state for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program, responded forcefully to the U.S.-led challenge.

It is the US, not Iran, that is a rogue state. Iran has adhered to the NPT, while the US has practiced aggressive war based on lies that would do Hitler proud.

The clang and clatter of military hardware and rhetoric from all sides has trickled into Iran's daily discourse. Ordinary residents say they fear a U.S. attack is imminent and that they are powerless to prevent it. "Will the Americans attack?" is the question on the lips of every Iranian who meets a foreign reporter.

An entirely reasonable and obvious question, which should also be the top item of discussion in world diplomacy and the media. The world must unite to deter the US from any such aggression. It must not happen.

Of course, the Bush/Cheney administration has learnt from the staggering diplomatic defeat of the Iraq war, and will not seek permission from the UN or attempt to persuade the public directly of the 'imminent threat'. If it were to attack, it will simply proceed in contempt and defiance of world legal and popular opinion, with bland lies as required.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Howard's Betrayal

Given that David Hicks was a former kangaroo skinner, perhaps the Howard Government thinks it is a kind of poetic justice that he should be tried by a kangaroo court. As it happens, the kangaroos were pressing for nothing less than a two-digit sentence, but many observers argue that political intervention got Hicks out and home early enough to neutralise an increasingly embarrassing issue for the Howard Government. A twelve month gag has been placed on Hicks. What possible point is there to that apart from concern about the upcoming election later this year?

In previous testimony when he tried to obtain British citizenship in the hope that Blair would show more backbone than Howard (how humiliating for Howard - to be more spineless than the proven liar, conman and poodle Blair), Hicks alleged that he was badly tortured including beatings and sodomisation. Now as part of the plea deal he must not make any such allegations or sue for damages. How convenient. The whole process is a farce.

Howard has made a direct denial that political pressure produced this convenient result in the case, but how much credibility does he have? It could just be an example of barefaced lying on TV at the highest level. That's how its done, kids.

For the rest of the civilised world, Guantanamo bay is a disgrace and a betrayal of the most basic values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It is disturbing how many people in parliament, the media and elsewhere are apparently entirely willing to accept or even embrace this. I am reminded that in the Weimar republic, nearly a full third of the German population freely voted for an outright fascist. The mentality of such voters is that we need a strong leader, fix the economy, get the trains to run on time, restore pride in the nation, eliminate enemies. At the best of times all too many people wouldnt know whether habeas corpus was Latin or Greek, and would agree 'terrorists' should be tortured or executed. It is therefore breathtaking folly and irresponsibility to encourage the latent authoritarian tendencies. Democracy and the rule of law, as ever, hang by a thread. All the more responsibility, therefore, that we all have to oppose encroaching authoritarianism and defend the rule of law.

Habeas corpus and trial by jury are the most basic protections against tyrannical government. In fact, tyranny could be defined as the ability of the state security apparatus to seize a person at will, to be detained, tortured or executed without appeal or accountability. And the purpose of such seizure, torture, detention and execution, of course, is not to obtain information, but to terrorise the population, thereby suppressing dissent or rebellion against the current regime.

The enemies of freedom are not Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, but our own governments. Bin Laden simply has no capability to end freedom in Australia, the United States, or any country (with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia, assuming Bin Laden overthrew the Saudis and he was less free than the current regime). All Bin Laden can do is murder people, and he should be treated like the criminal and murderer that he is. But our own treacherous governments have every capacity to threaten freedom and have been proceeding forthwith.