Tuesday, January 24, 2006

War News for Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bring ‘em on: Police raided the Toubji district in Baghdad on Monday. The Sunni Muslim Scholars' Association said 30 people had been detained and two killed.

Bring ‘em on: Twenty schoolchildren wounded, two seriously, when a roadside bomb targeted a British patrol in the southern city of Basra.

Bring ‘em on: Gunmen killed a senior member of Sunni Endowments, a group which administers Sunni mosques, in Baghdad on Monday evening.

Bring ‘em on: Two civilians killed and four wounded when U.S. forces and insurgents clashed in the Sunni rebel stronghold of Ramadi.

Bring ‘em on: A bomb exploded Tuesday under a pipeline linking an oilfield near Kirkuk with the terminal at Ceyhan, Turkey, causing a fire and a partial reduction in pumping. Meanwhile, security forces defused two bombs that had been placed under another pipeline in the Dibs area, 55 kilometres (34 miles) north of Kirkuk.

Bring ‘em on: A bomb exploded Tuesday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, damaging a British tank and a nearby civilian car.

Bring ‘em on: Roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.

Vehicle accident: Two Marines died in a vehicle accident near Taqaddum, about 45 miles west of Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: US soldier killed in roadside bombing in Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: Four US soldiers killed in a roadside bombing near the northern town of Hawijah.

Bring ‘em on: Car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad shortly before the resumption of the Saddam Hussein trial, wounding at least one policeman and one civilian.

Bring ‘em on: Two German engineers working at detergent plant in northern Iraq abducted.

Bring ‘em on: Two bombs in Kirkuk killed one policemen and injured eight people including two civilian bystanders.

Bring ‘em on: Mortar attack on a US military base in Fallujah.

Bring ‘em on: Woman working as cleaner at US base in Tikrit shot dead by gunmen.

Bring ‘em on: Seven carloads of armed men, some wearing police commando uniforms, raided homes and a mosque in Baghdad’s neighbourhood of Toubji, shooting dead three men and detaining more than 20. Three were later freed, but the rest remained unaccounted for.

Bring ‘em on: Eight bullet-riddled bodies found in a field near Dujail, about 80km north of Baghdad. They were among 35 men who failed to get accepted into a police academy in Baghdad, 23 of whom were found slain on Sunday.

Bring ‘em on: Two policemen killed and three wounded when a car bomb exploded in the southern Dura district of the capital.

Bring ‘em on: Two civilians wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi police patrol in central Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi army soldier killed and another wounded when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb in eastern Mosul.

Bring ‘em on: Two civilians wounded when a car bomb exploded near a joint Iraqi-US patrol in southern Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi civilian killed and four wounded when a car bomb exploded in Mahmudiya. The target of the explosion was not clear.

Bring ‘em on: Armed men killed an official with the Kurdistan Democratic Party as he was driving to work on Monday, east of Mosul, 360km northwest of Baghdad, Abd al-Ghani Yahya, a party spokesman, said on Tuesday.

Bring ‘em on: In the northern town of Kirkuk, a pedestrian was killed and four other people wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a US patrol, police said. US soldiers were uninjured, they added.


Attacks in Iraq jumped 29% in 2005: The number of attacks against coalition troops, Iraqi security forces and civilians increased 29% last year, and insurgents are increasingly targeting Iraqis, the U.S. military says. Insurgents launched 34,131 attacks last year, up from 26,496 the year before, according to U.S. military figures released Sunday.

Insurgents are widening their attacks to include the expanding Iraqi forces engaged in the fighting, said Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, a coalition spokesman.

The new statistics show:

•The number of car bombs more than doubled to 873 last year from 420 the year before. The number of suicide car bombs went to 411 from 133.

• Sixty-seven attackers wore suicide vests last year, up from seven in 2004. Suicide and car bombs are often targeted at Iraqis, causing high casualties.

• Roadside bombs, or improvised explosive devices, as the military calls them, continue to be the most common weapon. Roadside bombs increased to 10,953 in 2005 from 5,607 the year before. Those numbers include roadside bombs that are discovered and defused. These bombs account for nearly one-third of all insurgent attacks.

Jailbreak in Nasiriyah: On Sunday, 13 prisoners of the Nasiriyah jail attempted to escape the prison. Two of the involved were shot dead by police and security guards and four arrested. The remaining seven were being sought by police.

Sunnis call for self-defense: A leading Sunni Arab party on Tuesday called on fellow Sunnis to confront armed attacks on their community "by any suitable means" in the wake of a raid on a Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad in which three men were killed and more than 20 abducted.

The call for Sunnis to defend themselves was made in a statement issued by the Iraqi Islamic Party a day after armed men, some wearing uniforms of the Shia-led security forces, swept into the Toubji area of Baghdad, raiding houses, abducting males and shooting three men dead.

An Interior Ministry official denied police involvement, saying an investigation is under way and the armed men may have been disguised as commandos.

In Samarra, 95km north of Baghdad, Sunni leaders have called for a three-day strike to condemn the killings of at least 31 Sunnis who were kidnapped from their bus last week after being rejected entry into the police academy.

Ongoing Military Operations: On Tuesday, US marines and Iraqi soldiers conducted a ninth day of sweeping operations through fields and villages along the western Euphrates River valley, in an attempt to isolate fighters and confiscate weapons and ammunition, the military said.

Operation Wadi Aljundi (Koa Canyon) in the troubled western province of al-Anbar has yielded thousands of pieces of ordnance, the US military said, but there was no word on any arrests.

The Iraqi army said it raided areas around the city of Baquba, 65km north of Baghdad, arresting 19 wanted men and seizing a number of weapons, ammunition and explosives.

Thousands of mines along with other explosive substances confiscated: Iraqi police forces confiscated today 3,252 mines and other explosive substances, Iraqi police spokesperson told KUNA in a phone call.

He added the police pulled over a suspected vehicel between Western and Eastern Ali area in Misan governorate and found 2,800 mines in the car. The mines were confiscated and the driver was arrested.

Moreover, Misan police confiscated another 452 mines wound in Sayd Noor area along with other explosive substances.

KBR accused of providing contaminated water to US troops: A Halliburton Co. subsidiary provided water to U.S. troops at a camp in Iraq that was twice as contaminated as water from the Euphrates River, former employees of the company said on Monday.

The subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, also blocked employees' attempts to inform the U.S. military at Camp Junction City in Ramadi that the water was foul or tell them that water tanks should immediately be chlorinated, the workers said. "We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated," said an internal e-mail from Will Granger, who was KBR's water quality manager for all of Iraq and Kuwait.

"The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River," continued the e-mail dated July 15 of last year and released at the hearing. It said the exposure lasted for up to a year.

Oahu losing medevac transport to Iraq war: Army helicopters that have flown severe medical emergencies to Oahu hospitals for 32 years are being deployed to Iraq and will no longer be available as of April 1. Oahu's emergency medical service community has known that this day could come "from the day we went to war," Robert Pedro, a supervisor for the city's Emergency Medical Services, said yesterday.

American contractors leaving Iraq: American private contractors are preparing to leave Iraq as US money runs out and government ministries take charge of the reconstruction effort, according to the Washington Times. (…)

The Times said most US-funded projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, and it is unlikely that any significant new US funds will be forthcoming. Iraqi government ministries, which will be taking over responsibility for the reconstruction effort, tend to issue much smaller contracts that do not interest large US companies. It quoted retired Col Paul Hughes of the United States Institute of Peace saying that the US Congress has made it clear that it will not provide any more money.

Some contractors say privately that they do not want to deal with the Iraqi government and that without the protection and support of the US military, it is simply not safe to work in Iraq. Last week, fatal attacks were launched against US and Iraqi personal security details in Baghdad and in the southern city of Basra.

China Increases ties with Iraq: China is keen to train Iraqi personnel working in the oil sector and other fields, a foreign ministry statement said. The statement, faxed to the newspaper, said the Chinese were willing to provide training in the spheres of telecommunications, power generation and diplomacy as well as oil.

“China is keen to do whatever it takes to press ahead with the Iraqi reconstruction,” the statement quoted the envoy as saying.

Saddam Trial Postponed: The court trying Saddam Hussein cancelled the resumption of his trial Tuesday, delaying the session for five days. The postponement came amid a dispute among judges over a last-minute shakeup in the court, according to judges. The delay was the latest sign of disarray in the trial of the ousted Iraqi leader and his former regime officials. It came a day afer one judge was removed from the five-member panel and a new chief judge was appointed.

Iran, Iraq natural allies, says Iran top cleric: Iran and Iraq are natural allies and have always stood by each other, said Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani here on Sunday.

"We will continue to side with them (Iraqis) until the establishment of a broad-based and popular government," Larijani told reporters after a meeting with senior Iraqi political-religious figure Moqtada Sadr.

After Iraq's occupation, Sadr made intense efforts to launch a sound movement in Iraq and there is a good cooperation between him and various Iraqi Shiite groups. In view of his stances, "We have high hope for Iraq having a powerful and popular government in the future to be able to settle Iraq's security and economic problems."

Sadr for his part commented on unity among various Iraqi groups, saying, "If the unity is further consolidated, Israel and the US will not be able to have constant presence in Iraq." The American enemies have targeted neither oil nor other things in Iraq but Islamic thought, said Sadr, adding that to foil the plot of the occupiers, extensive cultural activities should be done.

Sadr pledges to defend Iran: An Iraqi Muslim cleric who leads a major Shiite militia pledged to come to the defense of neighboring Iran if it were attacked, aides to the cleric, Moqtada Sadr, said Monday.

The commitment, made Sunday in Tehran during a visit by Sadr, came in response to a senior Iranian official's query about what the cleric would do in the event of an attack on Iran. It marked the first open indication that Iraq's Shiite neighbor is preparing for a military response if attacked in a showdown with the West over its nuclear program.

The pledge was also one of the strongest signs yet that Iraq could become a battleground in any Western conflict with Iran, raising the specter of Iraqi Shiite militias - or perhaps even the U.S.-trained Shiite-dominated military - taking on American troops here in sympathy with Iran.


Nothing depleted about 'depleted uranium': Iraqi and visiting doctors, and a number of news reports, have reported that birth defects and cancers in Iraqi children have increased five- to 10-fold since the 1991 Gulf War and continue to increase sharply, to over 30-fold in some areas in southern Iraq. Currently, more than 50 percent of Iraqi cancer patients are children under the age of 5, up from 13 percent. Children are especially vulnerable because they tend to play in areas that are heavily polluted by depleted uranium.

The Pentagon has been using radiooactive weapons for at least a decade and a half with full complicity of at least three White House administrations and Republican and Democratic congressional legislators. Conservatively, at least 300 tons and 1,700 tons of depleted uranium were used in the Gulf War and the current Iraq War, resectively. This is about 70 grams of depleted uranium per Iraqi citizen, and if inhaled or ingested, it is enough to kill them all.

Is this not radioactive genocide, especially when our troops used and continue to use most of the depleted uranium munitions in densely populated areas such as Baghdad and Fallujah? Depleted uranium has a half-life of billions of years. Consequently, Iraq will be a wasteland forever and essentially uninhabitable for anyone.

After the 1991 Gulf War, about 1 in 4, or 150,000, U.S. veterans came down with what is referred to as "Gulf War Syndrome." Most of the ailments characteristic of Gulf War Syndrome are consistent with radiation or heavy-metal poisoning. Veterans' children are now also born with higher proportions of birth defects and other genetic disorders, according to sporadic accuonts. The Pentagon continues to deny the harmful effects of depleted uranium or its role in Gulf War Syndrome.

Our troops in Iraq will be severely affected by this radioactive war, not only because a lot more depleted uranium has been used and continues to be used, but also because they have been there a lot longer than during the Gulf War. Hundreds of thousands of our troops will come down with Gulf War Syndrome as a result of depleted uranium poisoning, and thousands will die from it. Thousands of their children will be born with genetic diseases, cancers and birth defects.

A New Strategy for Victory in Iraq?: All unheralded, the United States seems to be embarking on a massive shift in its Iraq strategy. The first inkling came on December 20, when U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, while uttering the usual bromides about the elections, also had this to say:

"It looks like people preferred to vote for their ethnic or sectarian identity. But for Iraq to succeed, there has to be cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic cooperation."

Months earlier, in the midst of the mindless triumphalism over the constitutional referendum, it was mostly us in the antiwar movement and a few other critics who pointed out that the vote on that, as well, had been an ethnic census. Suddenly, we were hearing it from the highest civilian representative of the U.S. government in Iraq. Since that time, that evaluation has been repeated until it is a standard of mainstream “respectable” commentary.

On the flip side, where once it was wishful thinkers among antiwar activists who constantly proclaimed that Iraqis had strong national unity and minimal sectarian conflict, now it is wishful thinkers like President Bush and Christopher Hitchens who say it.

Another clue is the fact that, as reported in the New York Times a week ago, the United States is in serious talks with Sunni insurgents, the idea being to separate the mainstream insurgency from the sectarian jihadists like Zarqawi’s Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, eliminate the latter, and integrate the former into the political process. As a goodwill gesture, the Americans even released Satam Quaood, a former associate of Saddam’s, and the type that so far U.S. forces have been more likely to beat to death than to release.

These official signals have also been picked up by various establishment-serving pundits and analysts, culminating in an article by Roger Cohen in the New York Times that makes a point of distinguishing the “resistance” from the “insurgency.” “The resistance,” he says, is “the great mass of Sunni Arabs for whom the American invasion turned life on its head” and who have, in turn, “granted insurgents safe passage, turned a blind eye to myriad acts of sabotage, taken small payments for small services, and generally wished America ill.” This resistance, he says, is “composed for the most part of people who want jobs and a stake in the new Iraq and may start to think differently should those be provided.” Now, it’s the establishment using the term “resistance.”

Indian Wars Not Over Yet: I'd like to suggest another way of looking at the War on Terror: as a twenty-first century continuation of, or replication of, the American Indian wars, on a global scale. This is by no means something that has occurred to me alone, but it has received relatively little attention. Here are ten reasons why I'm making this suggestion:

1. Key supporters of the War on Terror themselves see GWOT as an Indian war.

2. The essential paradigm of the War of Terror – us (the attacked) against them (the attackers) – was no less essential to the mindset of white settlers regarding the Indians.

3. GWOT is based on the principle of preventive strike, meant to put off "potential, future and, therefore, speculative attacks" – just as U.S. Army conflicts against the Indians often were.

4. While U.S. mainstream thinking about GWOT enemies is that they are total aliens – in religion, politics, economics, and social organization – there are Americans who believe that individuals in these "primitive" societies can eventually become assimilated and thus be rendered harmless through training, education, or democratization. This is similar to the view among American settlers that in savage Indian tribes hostile to civilization, there were some that could be evangelized and Christianized and brought over to the morally right, Godly side.

5. GWOT is fought abroad, but it's also a war at home, as the creation after 9/11 of a Department of Homeland Security illustrates. The Indian wars were domestic as well, carried out by the U.S. military to protect American settlers against hostile non-U.S. citizens living on American soil.

6. America's close partner Israel, which over the years has taken over Arab-populated lands and welcomes U.S. immigrants, can be considered as a kind of surrogate United States in this struggle. Expanding into the Middle East, the Israelis could be seen as following the example of the American pioneers who didn't let Indians stand in their way as they settled, with the support of the U.S. military, an entire continent, driven by the conviction that they were supported by God, the Bible, and Western civilization.

7. As for the current states that are major battlefields of GWOT, Afghanistan and Iraq, it appears that the model for their future, far from being functional democracies, is that of Indian reservations.

8. The methods employed by the U.S. in GWOT and the Indian wars are similar in many respects: using superior technology to overwhelm the "primitive" enemy; adapting insurgency tactics, even the most brutal ones, used by the opposing side when necessary; and collaborating with "the enemy of my enemy" in certain situations (that is, setting one tribe against another).

9. As GWOT increasingly appears to be, the Indian wars were a very long conflict, stretching from the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth – the longest war in American history, starting even before the U.S. existed as a nation. And GWOT is a war being fought, like the Indian wars in the Far West, over large geographical areas, including the Mediterranean basin, through the Fertile Crescent, and into the remote valleys and gorges of the Caucasus and Pakistan, the deserts of Central Asia, the plateaus of Afghanistan."

10. Perhaps because they are drawn-out wars with many fronts and changing commanders, the goals of GWOT and the Indian Wars can be subject to many interpretations. For many abroad, GWOT is a brutal expression of a mad, cowboy-led country's plans to take over the world and its resources. In the United States, a large number of Americans still interpret these two wars as God-favored initiatives to protect His chosen people and allow them to flourish. But just as attitudes in the U.S. toward Native Americans have changed in recent years (consider, for example, the saccharine 1990 film Dances with Wolves, which is sympathetic to an Indian tribe, in contrast to John Wayne shoot-the-Injuns movies), so suspicious views among the American public toward the still-seen-as-dangerous "them" of GWOT might evolve in a different direction. Such a change in perception, however, is unlikely to occur in the near future, especially under the current bellicose Bush regime, which manipulates voters' fear of terrorists to maintain its declining domestic support.

Pepe Escobar on the new Bin Laden tape: Just a slow, composed, husky voice out of a telephone line recorded on a scratched tape (not digital; a mere cassette). No video. Just a voice - capable of sending the markets into a tailspin and the networks into hysteria, spiking the oil bourses in London and New York, resetting the global agenda, unleashing armies of US intelligence analysts scrambling to confirm if the voice is real or fake.

You had totally vanished from the face of the Earth for more than a year. You are the most wanted man in the world. You re-enter the global stage just with your voice, a mere whisper. The simplicity of it. What politician would not dream of such power?

What type of relations does the US want with the Caliphate?: Not so long ago, President Bush announced his much coveted Greater Middle East Initiative. The aim of the plan was to preserve the existing secular order across the region through the promotion of freedom and democracy. But in today’s Middle Eastern societies, Bush’s initiative is having just the opposite effect. Islamists throughout the region have shown unprecedented gains in recent elections and now pose a direct challenge to the dictatorships and monarchies that thrive under American patronage.

The collapse of Bush’s plan to advance democracy in the Middle East has not escaped the attention of policy makers back home. A bitter dispute has broken out between supporters of Bush and the critics of his plan. The opponents of his plan argue that Bush is not doing enough to isolate the Islamists and promote the moderates as part of the democracy push in the Middle East. They also maintain that Islamists, especially those that are vociferously anti-American cannot be trusted and must be excluded from the democracy experiment. Their view is based on the idea that the refusal of the Muslim world to accept western values lies with the ideology of Islam. In their opinion the Islamic texts have to fundamentally change before the Arab world can be accepted by the West.

The supporters on the other hand advocate a more pragmatic approach. They believe that by co-opting Islamists in the democratic process, the Arab world can be moulded into a region that accepts western values, is substantially less anti-American and willingly accepts American hegemony. Their belief rests on the premise that by keeping Islamists out of the democratic process will only breed resentment and violence against the West. They cite Turkey as the ideal model for the Arab world to follow. A major proponent of this view is the neoconservative Marc Gerecht who recently argued in an article entitled ‘Devout Democracies’ that self rule in the Muslim world will have a religious component and the West should not be afraid of this phenomena.

Whichever of the two views succeeds in guiding America’s democracy experiment in the Middle East, it will have a negligible impact on curbing the rise of political Islam. This is because the people of the Middle East will never forget or forgive America’s unstinting support for Israel, her unflinching support for the brutal Arab dictatorships, her exploitation of their natural resources, her imposition of capitalist solutions and values, and her determined efforts to wage wars against the people of Iraq and other Muslims. These painful realities are permanently etched on the minds of the Arabs and continuously urge the Arab populace to seek solace in political Islam.

The Middle East is the heart of the Islamic world and right now it is pulsating with political Islam that will inevitably lead to the re-emergence of the Caliphate. Promoting democracy or eschewing its implementation, substituting Islamic texts with secular interpretations, isolating Islamists and encouraging moderates, destroying regimes and replacing them with compliant US surrogates is not going to change the outcome. America’s past relations with the Arabs has sealed her fate with the present Arabs. The time has come for US policy makers to think about the future – what type of relations does the US want with the Caliphate?

Iraqi journalist directs sarcasm at Bush: Many Iraqis have expressed their indignation and disappointment at U.S. President George W. Bush’s predictions that violence is set to intensify further this year.

They were even angrier when the president openly supported the government’s decision to boost fuel prices nearly fivefold.

Some even accused the president of negligence and inaction. His predictions show that he is aware of the calamities that are to come while he does nothing about them, they said.

This is a president Iraqis have come to know and in many respects even better than the U.S. citizens he rules.

Many of them believe in the hands of this president rests their destiny and that he has a hand in whatever has been happening to the country since his 2003 invasion.

Two months ago he raised Iraqis’ expectations when he presented U.S. legislators with a new strategy for what he described as ‘victory’ in the war against the violence plaguing the country.

He also promised to speed up the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

Then he made his New Year remarks that violence was to continue and even intensify.

The president, many now say, has dumped our hopes of ‘victory’. He simply gave us no time to relish the good news of his new strategy for ‘victory’ in Iraq, they said.

In the nearly three years since the president dispatched his troops to deliver the country from dictatorship, many Iraqis receive his remarks with sarcasm.

Here are a number of ideas of what Iraqis say they will do if the president fails to deliver his promise of ‘victory’ in the war:

We will launch another November 11 attack

We will establish a new sovereign government that will prevent our own president from visiting America and meeting with U.S. president

We will not prevent our own president from addressing the U.S. congress using a script prepared for him by the State Department

We will persuade our forthcoming parliament to regain the control of our oil output and exports, scrap latest fuel increases and hike prices on international markets that will eventually lead to a fivefold increase in fuel rates in the U.S.

We will withdraw our support to the U.S. in its war on terror

We will torpedo the Middle East peace process

There are of course many other ideas which I cannot mention here for fear of accountability.

But I would like to end my article by giving President Bush credit for being frank and candid with the Iraqi people.

Unlike our politicians whose statements are far from reality and work behind concrete walls and closed doors, at least the president of the United States now talks the truth about his expectations for the course of events in Iraq.

Introduction to Human Rights Watch World Report 2006: “Practice what I preach, not what I do” is never terribly persuasive. Yet the U.S. government has been increasingly reduced to that argument in promoting human rights. Some U.S. allies, especially Britain, are moving in the same disturbing direction, while few other powers are stepping in to fill the breach.

This hypocrisy factor is today a serious threat to the global defense of human rights. Major Western powers historically at the forefront of promoting human rights have never been wholly consistent in their efforts, but even their irregular commitment has been enormously important. Today, the willingness of some to flout basic human rights standards in the name of combating terrorism has deeply compromised the effectiveness of that commitment. The problem is aggravated by a continuing tendency to subordinate human rights to various economic and political interests.

The U.S. government’s use and defense of torture and inhumane treatment played the largest role in undermining Washington’s ability to promote human rights. In the course of 2005, it became indisputable that U.S. mistreatment of detainees reflected not a failure of training, discipline, or oversight, but a deliberate policy choice. The problem could not be reduced to a few bad apples at the bottom of the barrel. As evidenced by President George W. Bush’s threat to veto a bill opposing “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” Vice President Dick Cheney’s lobbying to exempt the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) from the bill, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s extraordinary claim that the United States is entitled to subject detainees to such treatment so long as the victim is a non-American held overseas, and CIA Director Porter Goss’s defense of a notorious form of torture known as water-boarding as a “professional interrogation technique,” the U.S. government’s embrace of torture and inhumane treatment began at the top.

Late in 2005, increasing global attention to the U.S. policy of holding some terror suspects as “ghost detainees”—indefinitely, incommunicado, and without charges at undisclosed locations outside of the United States—further damaged U.S. credibility.

Key U.S. allies such as Britain and Canada compounded the leadership problem in 2005 by seeking to undermine certain critical international rights protections. Britain sought to justify sending terrorist suspects to countries that torture, and Canada worked aggressively to dilute key provisions of a new treaty on enforced disappearances.

These governments, as well as other members of the European Union, also continued to subordinate human rights in their relations with others whom they deemed useful in fighting terrorism or pursuing other goals. That tendency, coupled with the European Union’s continued difficulty in responding firmly to even serious human rights violations, meant that the E.U. did not compensate for this diminished human rights leadership.

Essay: Morality and foreign policy: Powerful states are generally `satisfied powers' which uphold the status quo. The weak are revisionists, agitators who seek change. Common to both is the task of devising an agreed world order, which is thus invested with legitimacy.


Achieving a nuclear capacity is the ultimate aspiration of the Iranian regime: The development of a nuclear capacity has come to epitomise the Iranian national dream, the interpretation and pursuit of which is monopolised by the power centres of the Islamic republic. Moreover, there is a closer meeting of minds than ever in these power centres, now that the conservatives have come to dominate all the country's executive and legislative institutions, to the almost total exclusion of the reformists, a development that was crowned with the rise of Ahmadinejad as president of the republic. Certainly this helps to account for the current tenor of Tehran's diplomatic and media drive. If achieving a nuclear capacity is not just one of the aims, but the ultimate aspiration of the regime and the cornerstone of its legitimacy, it has little alternative, in view of the logic of domestic politics, but to meet mounting pressures from abroad with an escalation of its own. This has taken the form of the decision to restart uranium enrichment operations regardless of the consequences.

Iranian Nuclear Ambitions and American Foreign Policy: The controversial issue of Iranian ambitions for a civilian nuclear energy project ironically began with the assistance of the United States during the reign of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi. In 1957, Iran signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States as part of the United States Atoms for Peace Program. Additionally, under this program Iran purchased a research nuclear reactor from the United States that was put into operation in 1967.

Thus, these recent Iranian aspirations for nuclear weapons as purported by American policy makers are not a recent occurrence; the Shah in 1974 established the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and stated that Iran would have nuclear weapons without a doubt very soon. This pursuit of nuclear aspirations both for civilian power and regional military deterrence of Egypt and Iraq began before Israel was considered as a target, as is widely purported today; in fact during this period prior to the 1979 Revolution in which the Arab coalition had an oil embargo in place, Iran was an implicit supplier of petroleum products to Israel.

In addition to the financial and technological assistance from the United States, France and Germany signed several agreements with the Shah to provide Iran with enriched uranium, nuclear reactors and research centers. However, following the 1979 Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini immediately suspended construction indefinitely at all nuclear facilities in the “Islamic State” because as aforementioned, fundamental Islamic religious and jurisprudential beliefs consider all weapons of mass destruction as immoral.

Even during the Iran-Iraq War, Iran never explicitly announced a decision to pursue proliferation of weapons of mass destruction albeit their neighbor to the West, Iraq, was offered arms and military guidance from the United States and its Cold War allies. Throughout this period of internal institutional change and external military engagement with Iraq, Iran never resorted to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction even though Saddam Hussein, a secular dictator in control of a nation with a Muslim majority, began to produce and amass a stockpile of lethal nerve agents such as Sarin and VX nerve gas and other unconventional weapons which he would later use on his own populace in the first Gulf War.

Additionally, it has been widely reported in intelligence circles but never truly confirmed, that Israel has a nuclear program in place for defensive military purposes which was assembled hastily with American and Norwegian support during the Six-Day War against the Arab coalition. Thus, despite these aforementioned geopolitical threats throughout the Cold War and the collapse of Arab nationalism which were great periods of instability in the region, Tehran never restarted their nuclear program which was originally started by the Shah nor resorted to proliferation of non-conventional weapons.

What is the Iranian Bourse and what has a Russian natural gas curtailment got to do with it?: Well, to answer the second question; in future, some gas delivered to Ukraine and perhaps on to Western Europe via pipeline will be Iranian.

And, according to Iranian officials, the Iranian Bourse will be a state-owned international oil, gas and refined products exchange, operating principally over the Internet, with transactions denominated principally in Euros.

The Iranian Bourse will be competing directly with London’s International Petroleum Exchange and New York’s Mercantile Exchange, both of which are owned by US corporations, and whose transactions are denominated in Dollars.

At present, the Dollar is the global monetary standard for petroleum exchange. Hence, all petroleum consuming countries – including China and Japan – must buy and keep a large cache of dollars in their central banks.

What would be the effect of an Iranian Bourse operating on petroeuros rather than petrodollars?

Well, back in 2000, Saddam Hussein converted Iraqi bank reserves from the Dollar to the Euro, and began demanding payments in Euro for Iraqi oil. Central banks of many countries – most notably Russia and China – began keeping Euros and Dollars as monetary "reserves" and as an exchange fund for oil.

And, perhaps at least partially because of Saddam’s conversion to it, by 2003 the Euro was stronger than the Dollar.

So, there are some observers who fervently believe that the real reason Bush-Cheney launched a war of aggression against Iraq was to restore the primacy of petrodollars and to demonstrate to any country – such as Iran, who had begun serious planning for the Iranian Bourse in 2000 – what would happen to them if they followed Saddam’s lead.

Of course, once occupied by the US-UK-Halliburton coalition, Iraqi oil sales were once again denominated in petrodollars.

Living without Iranian oil?: In a worrisome article in the Christian Science Monitor, “On Iran, the West looks for a Plan” reporter Howard LaFranchi notes, “For some experts the time is ripe to prepare the world economy for living without Iranian oil—by developing pipelines in the oil-rich Gulf region to circumvent Iran-dominated transport routes”….”countries should take steps now to ease the burden of future moves”.

“If you’re not prepared to do this”, says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center of Washington, “you’re not going to do very much.”

“Living without Iranian oil”?!?

This shows us how grave the situation really is, and how the administration and Israel may be willing to disrupt the global economy and sent oil prices shooting through the ceiling to achieve there mutual objectives.

Nuclear Threat: What on earth was going through Chirac's mind?: French President Chirac’s announcement on Thursday that France would consider using nuclear weapons against any country that launches a terrorist attack against it is political bombshell. Not even George Bush has gone as far as saying that, even though he might like to. Chirac’s threat is alarming. Clearly, had Al-Qaeda flown hijacked planes into the Eiffel Tower or the Montparnasse Tower rather than the World Trade Towers, Chirac might have nuked Kabul. Again, not even George Bush considered that — or if he did, he wisely kept quiet about it.

What on earth was going through his mind? Where is the threat to France? Which country would want to unleash a terrorist attack on it? Yes, there are terrorists out there who might want to attack; they have done it before. But a state? The one worry is that Chirac was thinking of Syria; relations between Damascus and Paris are at their lowest ebb for years. Or maybe Iran? In which case, it raises questions about the French naval force currently in the Gulf of Oman as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom and the war on terror — except that Operation Enduring Freedom is about Afghanistan and the French media have showed that the force could attack unnamed targets in the Middle East. Does the force possess nuclear missiles?

Whatever the answer, it is still inconceivable that France would launch a nuclear attack on any country. It is, after all, the same France that three years ago argued so convincingly in the UN against intervention in Iraq without international consensus and due legal process. But here is Chirac threatening to act unleash nuclear weapons unilaterally. If the threat is real, the world will have to re-evaluate its attitude to France.

Note To Readers: This is zig’s first main page post. Nice job, eh? He ran into some technical difficulties (read: Blogger) so I put it up for him. Thanks zig! But please let us know – does it look ok in Internet Explorer? The formatting was different from what I usually do, it looks ok in Mozilla, but IE can be touchy...


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