DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, April 18, 2006
: Iraqi resistance fighters operate a checkpoint in Samarra on March 21.
Bring ‘em on
: Two US soldiers were injured when a bomb exploded as they passed by in Al-Qadisiya district in Baghdad. Two Iraqi civilians were injured in the same incident.
Bring ‘em on
: A bomb exploded at the passage of a U.S. convoy in industrial district in Baghdad. No reports on casualties or damage were available.
Bring ‘em on
: A bomb exploded in Al-Qadisiya district in Kirkuk near a U.S. patrol without causing any damage.
Iraqi and US forces battle rebels in Baghdad for second straight day
: Late Tuesday, Iraqi troops were still under sporadic gunfire from insurgents in Baghdad's Sunni stronghold of Adhamiyah where the army was conducting search operations.
The army, along with US forces, on Monday fought a group of 50 gunmen in the neighborhood. Five rebels were killed and seven captured after a seven-hour battle. However, dozens of militants appeared to have escaped and others continued to attack the troops Tuesday as they conducted house-to-house searches for the second day, an interior ministry official said.
"We expect them to come back again," said a man who only identified himself as Abu Bakr and said he was a former army officer under Saddam. His description of the events of Monday night [in Adhamiyah] were even more dramatic than the U.S. military account. "We saw about 100 to 150 men show up in cars. Some were wearing military uniforms and others were in civilian clothes," he said, as five gunmen stood guard over one of the main roads leading into Adhamiya.Ramadi remains tense Tuesday
: US troops there came under massive attack Monday, with several car bombs shaking the heavily fortified government building that houses a marine base and provincial government offices. The marines came under fire from a nearby mosque, the military said, adding that it was the fourth time in a month that the place of worship had been abused by the rebels.
Nearly 50 US troops have been killed across Iraq since April 1, marking one of the bloodiest periods for the military since the invasion.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Bomb explodes Baghdad cafe frequented by policemen, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 20.
Three policemen were among those killed, and the rest were civilians.
Roadside bombing in western Baghdad misses police patrol, wounding a civilian driver instead.
Four civilians killed and 22 others including four policemen wounded when roadside bomb blast hits police patrol in a eastern Baghdad district.
15 bullet-riddled bodies found across Baghdad of men shot execution-style.
Two bombings target small Shiite mosques in northern and eastern Baghdad.
There were no casualties, but one of the mosques was severely damaged, police said.
Bodies of four unidentified men with multiple gunshot wounds and showing signs of torture found northeast of Yusufiya
, 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad.
Policeman gunned down in drive-by shooting in Basra.
Gunmen shoot dead two Iraqis working at the state's Sunni Endowment Authority
and injure two others overnight in Touz Kharmato, 185 kilometers north of Baghdad
Gunmen kill policeman and wound two others in Tikrit.
Gunmen wound police colonel along with two policemen in Baiji.
Iraqi policeman gunned down, six civilians wounded in drive-by shooting in Irbil.
Four Iraqi civilians wounded when explosive device goes off near civilian car in Mosul.
Two of the wounded were inside the car, while the two others happened to be at the site.
Suicide car bomber attacks Iraqi security forces at checkpoint south of Rawa, killing one Iraqi soldier and wounding another.
Rawa is about 250 kilometers (160 miles) northwest of Baghdad on the Euphrates River.
Orphans in Iraq require urgent assistance
: "Orphaned children have become a very serious issue," said [Orphans Houses Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs] director Abeer Mahdi al-Chalabi. "We have 23 orphanages with limited capacity, capable of housing only about 1,600 orphans."
Although there are seven orphanages in the capital, Baghdad, and another 16 in other provinces, "they aren't enough to provide assistance to all the orphans in the country", said al-Chalabi. She went on to point out that the increase in the number of orphans countrywide was an inevitable result of the bombings, assassinations and sectarian violence currently plaguing the country. [No mention of course of the role played by the U.S. occupation army in increasing the number of orphans in Iraq…
Veteran rocker Neil Young records protest album featuring an anti-Iraq war track and song titled "Let's Impeach the President
: The 10-track set, called "Living with War," was recorded this month by a "power trio" -- electric guitar, bass and drums -- plus trumpet and a 100 voices, the 60-year-old Canadian-born musician announced on his Web site.
Young's longtime manager, Elliot Roberts, told Reuters the album, which has been the subject of Internet buzz for several days, will be played for executives at his label, Warner Music Group's Reprise Records, on Tuesday.
"It's devoted to the state of America, or the direction that America is moving in," Roberts said of the album. Roberts confirmed that a separate song on the album is titled "Let's Impeach the President." He declined to disclose any further details about the record.
But according to some online reports, the song accuses President George W. Bush of "lying" and features a rap with Bush's voice set against a choir singing "flip-flop."
"Living with War" appears to bring Young full circle from a more pro-Bush administration stance he took in the months following the September 11 attacks. Not long after recording the song "Let's Roll," a tribute to passengers who apparently fought back against hijackers on doomed United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, Young came out publicly in support of the U.S. Patriot Act.
Australians want out of Iraq
: The overwhelming majority of Australians - 65 per cent - want troops to be withdrawn from Iraq either immediately or, at the latest, when their mission providing security for the Japanese humanitarian mission ends in May, according to a poll.
The survey of 500 people, conducted by UMR Research for the political consultancy Hawker Britton, found that 28 per cent wanted the 460-strong Australian deployment protecting Japanese engineers in the southern al-Muthanna province out of Iraq immediately. Another 37 per cent wanted the troops withdrawn once the Japanese mission ends.
Twenty-four per cent of respondents said they wanted Australian troops to remain in Iraq until the country was "considered to be peaceful and stable, even if it takes a long time", while 8 per cent said they should stay until US troops pulled out.
Last week the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, said the troops would take on a new role after the Japanese left in May, joining the "over watch" program in support of Iraqi security forces, police and local government.
Gallup: 57% Say U.S. Won't Win in Iraq
: A report on a new Gallup poll released today [April 17] shows that President Bush approval rating on his handling of Iraq is now at 32% -- tied for the lowest rating Gallup has measured. The survey, taken April 7-9, also shows that 57% of Americans think the United States will not win in Iraq.
In a surprise, the new poll found that 44% of Republicans now back withdrawing some or all troops from Iraq. The number for all Americans, 64%, is higher, but the fact that better than 4 in 10 Republicans back this idea is notable. Independents are tracking much closer to Democrats on all issues related to Iraq.
In another finding, 57% of Americans say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, while 42% say it was not. Since December 2005, either a plurality or majority of Americans have said it was a mistake. The breakdown on the troop pullout question is: 36% say to withdraw "some" troops, while 28% want to withdraw all troops.
Where did Iraq funds go?
: On Sunday, The Boston Globe
wrote that American investigators and civil attorneys probing fraud allegations raised against U.S. contractors, found that American contractors swindled hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds. However, there's no way for the Iraqi government to retrieve this money, the report added.
Although American courts started to force contractors implicated in fraud allegations to repay the money, represented in stolen funds from the U.S. government, legal roadblocks prevented Iraq from retrieving funds taken from the Iraqi government by the U.S.-led occupation and then paid to contractors who failed to deliver projects handed to them.
''In effect, it makes Iraq into a 'free-fraud zone,' "said Virginia attorney, Alan Grayson, who is suing Rhode Island-based company Custer Battles. Last month, a federal jury found the private security company liable for $3 million in fraudulent billings in Iraq, The Globe
Also a United Nations panel hired to monitor the use of Iraq's seized assets doesn't have the authority to prosecute those implicated in the fraud cases. ''The Iraqi people are out of luck, the way it stands right now," said Patrick Burns, spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, a watchdog group responsible for aiding Americans file cases against contractors.
Even officials at the Iraqi government, currently busy solving deadlocked negotiations over the formation of a new government, have failed to file any official complaint about funds that were paid out to dishonest contractors, although recovering the stolen money has become more critical at this time, given the budget shortfall of billions of dollars.
The Real WMD's in Iraq – Ours
: Weapons of mass destruction are all over Iraq. Iraqi children are playing among them every day. According to Iraqi doctors, many are developing cancer as a result. The WMD in question is depleted uranium (DU). Left over after natural uranium has been processed, DU is 1.7 times denser than lead - effective in penetrating armored vehicles such as tanks. After a DU shell strikes, it penetrates before exploding into a burning vapor that turns to dust.
"Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.7 billion years - that means thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children will suffer for tens of thousands of years to come. This is what I call terrorism," says Dr Ahmad Hardan.
As a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Dr Hardan is the man who documented the effects of depleted uranium in Iraq between 1991 and 2002. U.S. forces admit to using at least 300 tons of D.U. ordinance in Gulf War I, with up to six times that amount in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can dramatically alter the entire fabric of family life. The emotional impact can be huge. Imagine having nine members of your family with malignancies at the same time. Welcome to Basra, Iraq.
Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, educated in England, is head oncologist at the Saddam teaching hospital in Basra. There are nine people with cancer in his wife's family. They are not alone. At a conference in Japan in 2004 he stated:
"Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient. For example, leukemia and cancer of the stomach. We had one patient with 2 cancers - one in his stomach and kidney. Months later, primary cancer was developing in his other kidney--he had three different cancer types. The second is the clustering of cancer in families. We have 58 families here with more than one person affected by cancer. Dr Yasin, a general Surgeon here has two uncles, a sister and cousin affected with cancer. Dr Mazen, another specialist, has six family members suffering from cancer. My wife has nine members of her family with cancer".
"Children in particular are susceptible to depleted uranium( DU) poisoning. They have a much higher absorption rate as their blood is being used to build and nourish their bones and they have a lot of soft tissues. Bone cancer and leukemia used to be diseases affecting them the most, however, cancer of the lymph system, which can develop anywhere on the body, and has rarely been seen before the age of 12 is now also common."
At one point after the war, a Basra hospital reported treating upwards of 600 children per day with symptoms of radiation sickness. 600 children per day?
The widespread use of DU weapons was not limited to Iraq. The Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), founded by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a former U.S. Army Colonel, did extensive field studies in Afghanistan just after the invasion. Excerpts from their field reports read:
"We took both soil and biological samples, and found considerable presence in urine samples of radioactivity; the heavy concentration astonished us. They were beyond our wildest imagination."......."The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium."
In Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, UMRC lab results indicated high concentrations of NON-DEPLETED URANIUM, with the concentrations being much higher than in DU victims from Iraq. Afghanistan was evidently used as a testing ground for a new generation of "bunker buster" bombs containing high concentrations of other uranium alloys
Dr. Durakovic stated, "The [U.S.] Veteran's Administration asked me to lie about the risks of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body ...uranium does cause cancer, uranium does cause mutation, and uranium does kill. If we continue with the irresponsible contamination of the biosphere, the denial of the fact that human life is endangered by the deadly uranium isotope, then we are doing disservice to ourselves, disservice to the truth, disservice to God and to all the generations who follow."
Living in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was pretty bad much of the time, and being ruled by the Taliban in Afghanistan was no picnic either, but DU is worse. It's not safe even to breathe. It's the ultimate tyranny.
[Warning: The linked article contains EXTREMELY disturbing photos under the heading “Photos of Babies Deformed at Birth as a Result of Depleted Uranium (DU) 2003”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
: This article from Salon
by Michael Scherer on the Pentagon's torture method approval process for the "20th hijacker," Mohammed al-Qahtani, at Gitmo made me think, "Wait a minute, I've got a much more messed up account of what Rumsfeld approved in my archives than the one I'm reading here."
But just for context on what's to come, let's just start with this from the Scherer article:
"...Rumsfeld revoked the harsher interrogation methods [on al-Qahtani a few days after he approved them], apparently responding to military lawyers who had raised concerns that they may constitute cruel and unusual punishment or torture."
Ok, here's Rumsfeld with radio host Michael Smerconish talking about al-Qahtani's treatment in 2005:
SMERCONISH: I'm reading that we played Christina Aguilera music, that we interrogated this guy in a room that had 9/11 victim photographs on the wall, and I'm saying to myself, pardon me, but where in the hell is the torture?
RUMSFELD: Yeah. There's no torture going on down there and there hasn't been.
Now, let's go back to the tape -- the the tape in this case being an issue from Time magazine with the cover story, Prisoner 063. Turns out, Time got its hands on the prison logs of the interrogations on al-Qahtani. You tell me if this isn't America's heart of darkness, for all to see:
11 December 2002
0100: Detainee was reminded that no one loved, cared, or remembered him. He was reminded that he was less than human and that animals had more freedom and love than he does [sic]. He was taken outside to see a family of banana rats. The banana rats were moving around freely, eating, showing concern for one another. Detainee was compared to the family of banana rats and reinforced that they had more love, freedom, and concern than he had. Detainee began to cry during that comparison.
With this Salon
article, we now know that Rumsfeld was getting weekly updates on Qahtani's "progress."
"What You Have Therefore Caused Me To Understand, George, Is That Even Impeaching You Is Not Sufficient"
: I think, George, that quite frankly you scare a lot of people.
No, I'm not talking about little people like me. I think you scare the bejeezers out of the mucky-mucks who own and run you, the people who bankrolled your career and who pull your puppet strings.
In short, you, George, have the capacity to single-handedly rip the veil off the 200-plus year illusion of American exceptionalism, economic aggression and exclusionary politics that has sustained our national ego for all this time.
You, George, seem to have the innate ability to disillusion oh so many millions of people with our hollow economic, political and social orders so that, more than any progressive, more than any liberal, more than any revolutionary, you could actually kick out the psychic props that hold up the whole rotten edifice.
Thus are you most frightening to those who desperately want to paint the smiley face back on capitalism, who want to re-clothe the iron military fist in silken gloves of "diplomacy" and who want to restore the myth that America is somehow better than everyone else.
You, George, have not even bothered with the niceties of gloving your bloody hands in silk. You have not trifled with the diplomacy of manners or the perfume of noble causes. Yours is the face of raw, naked power.
You have dropped the mask, George, and the face you show us is not the one that our Owners and Leaders want us to see.
Equally frightening to the Leaders and Owners and String-Pullers of our world is how effectively you have discredited most of the major institutions they rely on to command respect and obedience from all of us.
By packing the Courts with right wing radicals you have denigrated the judiciary.
By cozying up with fanatical religious bigots, you have undermined the respectability of the religion you profess.
By claiming the power to eavesdrop, kidnap, torture, incarcerate and wage war, literally at will, you have debased the presidency and proved the need for a weaker, a more constrained Executive Branch of Government.
By manipulating world financial institutions, discarding treaties willy-nilly, and force-feeding your authoritarian brand of top-down "democracy" down the throats of the unwilling, you have caused disrepute for everything that you tout.
What you have therefore caused me to understand, George, is that even impeaching you is not sufficient. Replacing you with a prettier face or a nicer president or a Democratic Congress is not enough. Nostalgia for a better time is not enough. George, what you have taught me is that there really is nothing to be nostalgic for.
That doesn't mean that we shouldn't cherry-pick the best from whatever any culture or economic or political theory can offer.
It simply means that we have to look forward to creating new and better systems, rather than just dumping your kind and returning to a mistaken nostalgia for a past that never was.
This is a troubling understanding, but thanks to you, George, many people now think that way.
Are Americans pro-war?
"Americans aren't against the war in Iraq because it is wrong; they are against it because we are losing," said former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter recently. Are Americans pro-war? And if so, why? Perhaps they don't realize what a nightmare war is or the terrible devastation that it brings?
Except for the tragedies suffered by the 9-11 families, none of us have ever experienced the gore, heartbreak and cruelty of war in our own hometowns. No one living here in America has seen anything even vaguely resembling the horrors of the Dresden firebombing or the Hiroshima nuclear attack or Baghdad after Shock and Awe.
None of us have ever seen our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities in flames while we scramble among the ruins of, say, Chicago or Reno, desperately looking for food.
However, Ritter's comment got me thinking. Even though they have never experienced its devastating effects, Americans ARE completely familiar with war. And they love it!
From what I have seen -- from firsthand experience -- Americans love every aspect of war. They love explosions. They love killing. They love carnage. They love blood. They love to see children butchered and women raped and people tortured and cut up.
How do I know all about this hidden, dark side of the American psyche? Am I a clinical psychologist? Do I work for the National Security Agency spying on people's e-mails? No.
I watch television. I go to the movies.
If Americans didn't like torture and grim cruelty and murder and gore, why would CSI be our most popular television program? Why can we bet good money (and win almost every time) that the number one box office smash this week will be a film that involves the evisceration of at least ten people?
In the movies and on TV, Americans are encouraged and TAUGHT to love brutality, murder and war. And they are fast learners. If they weren't, we would all refuse to watch Law and Order SVU and Veronica Mars and all start watching Masterpiece Theater and Barney instead.
My solution? Easy. Let's demand a law requiring that every movie that shows violence on-screen be given an "X" rating. And NO violence on television. EVER.
PS: If America wants to experience war in its own back yard, the idiots in the White House will give us that chance UNLESS WE PUT THEM IN JAIL IMMEDIATELY. GWB is actually planning to bomb Iran!
When (not if) Bush blows up Iran, Iran will retaliate and blow up Israel -- and then all hell will break loose in the Middle East. And what's to keep the war from migrating here? Nothing. To quote Seymour Hersh, "A retired four-star general told me that, despite the eight thousand British troops in the region, 'the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.'" And then the insurgents will move here.
Get this straight, America. The Bush crazies actually WANT a war on our soil. Why? Who knows what goes on in the brains of madmen. Perhaps they are dreaming of Armageddon. Or maybe they just want to rule a chaotic world from their bunkers. In either case, we are screwed.
If, in the next three months, Bush isn't wearing an orange jump suit, America had better learn to love war even more than they do right now -- because, if Bush has his way, it will soon be coming to a back yard near you!
Globalization Making the West More Intolerant
: I have just read Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword
. It is a classic. Published in 1947, it analyses the nature of Japanese culture. Almost 60 years and many books later, it remains a seminal work. Like all great works of scholarship, the book manages to transcend the time and era in which it was written, ageing in certain obvious respects, but retaining much of its insight and relevance. If you want to make sense of Japan, Benedict's book is as good a place to start as any. Here, though, I am interested in the origins and purpose of the book.
In June 1944, as the American offensive against Japan began to bear fruit, Benedict, a cultural anthropologist, was assigned by the US Office of War Administration to work on a project to try and understand Japan as the US began to contemplate the challenge that would be posed by its defeat, occupation and subsequent administration. Her book is written with a complete absence of judgmental attitude or sense of superiority, which one might expect; she treats Japan's culture as of equal merit, virtue and logic to that of the US. In other words, its tone and approach could not be more different from the present US attitude toward Iraq or that country's arrogant and condescending manner toward the rest of the world.
This prompts a deeper question: Has the world, since then, gone backward? Has the effect of globalization been to promote a less respectful and more intolerant attitude in the West, and certainly on the part of the US, toward other cultures, religions and societies? This contradicts the widely held view that globalization has made the world smaller and everyone more knowing. The answer, at least in some respects, is in the affirmative - with untold consequences lying in wait for us. But more of that later; first, why and how has globalization had this effect?
Of course, it can rightly be argued that European colonialism embodied a fundamental intolerance, a belief that the role of European nations was to bring "civilized values" to the natives, wherever they might be. It made no pretence, however, at seeking to make their countries like ours: Their enlightenment, as the colonial attitude would have it, depended on our physical presence. In no instance, for example, were they regarded as suitable for democracy, except where there was racial affinity, with white settler majorities, as in Australia and Canada. In contrast, the underlying assumption with globalization is that the whole world is moving in the same direction, toward the same destination: it is becoming, and should become, more and more like the West.
Where once democracy was not suitable for anyone else, now everyone is required to adopt it, with all its Western-style accoutrements.
In short, globalization has brought with it a new kind of Western hubris - present in Europe in a relatively benign form, manifest in the US in the belligerent manner befitting a superpower: that Western values and arrangements should be those of the world; that they are of universal application and merit. At the heart of globalization is a new kind of intolerance in the West toward other cultures, traditions and values, less brutal than in the era of colonialism, but more comprehensive and totalitarian.
The idea that each culture is possessed of its own specific wisdom and characteristics, its own novelty and uniqueness, born of its own individual struggle over thousands of years to cope with nature and circumstance, has been drowned out by the hue and cry that the world is now one, that the Western model - neoliberal markets, democracy and the rest - is the template for all.
The net effect of all this is a lack of knowledge of and respect for difference. Globalization has obliterated distance, not just physically but also, most dangerously, mentally. It creates the illusion of intimacy when, in fact, the mental distances have changed little. It has concertinaed the world without engendering the necessary respect, recognition and tolerance that must accompany it. Globalization is itself an exemplar of the problem. Goods and capital may move far more freely than ever before, but the movement of labor has barely changed. Jeans may be inanimate, but migrants are the personification of difference. Everywhere, migration is a charged political issue. In the modern era of globalization, everything is allowed to move except people.
After three decades of headlong globalization, the world finds itself in dangerous and uncharted waters. Globalization has fostered the illusion of intimacy while intolerance remains as powerful and unyielding as ever - or rather, has intensified, because the Western expectation is now that everyone should be like us. And when they palpably are not, as in the case of the Islamic world, then a militant intolerance rapidly rises to the surface. The wave of Islamophobia in the West - among the people and the intelligentsia alike - is a classic example of this new intolerance. When I wrote a recent article on the Danish cartoons, arguing that Europe had to learn a new way of relating to the world, I got nearly 400 e-mails in response. Over half of these were negative and many were frightening in their intolerance, especially those from the US, which were often reminiscent in their tone to the worst days of the 1930s.
We live in a world that we are much more intimate with and yet, at the same time, also much more intolerant of - unless, that is, it conforms to our way of thinking. It is the Western condition of globalization, and its paradox of intimacy and intolerance suggests that the Western reaction to the remorseless rise of the non-West will be far from benign.
Iran: Iraq replayed?
: For those who think that Iraq is the worst that can happen in the region, wait till Iran retaliates against possible air strikes by Israel or the U.S. Wait till the Jewish state and America decide in return to launch an unprecedented retaliatory attack, inflicting an unexpected extent of damage upon the entire Middle East.
However, some experts expect that the current U.S.-Iran standoff over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program to end with a diplomatic settlement, given the struggle the U.S. Army is facing in post- Iraq war. But, with recently published reports suggesting the opposite, many analysts are warning against an imminent U.S.-Iran war the coming weeks.
There will be an attack. According to an editorial on The New Statesman,
as long as the madman (Bush) is in the White House, now considering bombing another country in the region, a Third World War is imminent. A recent article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker
suggested the same.
But the U.S. media seems less concerned than the British over the issue.
News headlines on the British media are mostly booked for the Iranian nuclear issue, which didn't even make the front pages of the Washington Post or New York Times.
Will there be a war on Iran or not?
War would be a surprise for the British people, who don't expect their leader, Prime Minister Tony Blair, to dare repeat Iraq mistake, but in the U.S., the situation is a bit different.
Many questions surround the issue of a possible U.S. war on Iran.
Will European allies support the U.S. this time? Will Bush's admin allow the use of nuclear weapons against the country to knock down its nuclear program?
Washington is already working from the assumption that the U.S. will attack Iran, possibly using nuclear weapons during this presidency. Also, like what happened in Iraq, the Bush administration is expected to have the support of Britain and Australia in this war.
Regarding the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, this has become an issue of a heated debate in Washington these days, with struggle under way between foreign-policy pragmatists and ideological zealots, the editorial adds.
The U.S. is divided between these two camps. Those two camps represent senior members of the Bush administration itself, the State Department, CIA, Pentagon and the powerful think-tanks.
Recently, it's been reported that the U.S. Secretary of Condoleezza Rice has fallen out with Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, and is on the verge of abandoning the ideological ship - just as the former Secretary of State Colin Powell did in private meeting over Iraq, and later on announced his resignation.
While the first faction agrees with the British, French and German view which prefers isolating Iran diplomatically rather than militarily, and supports imposing UN Security Council sanctions on Iran. The second faction includes all those who agree with the unwise policies of the American President which prefers using force to implement his agenda, no matter what.
While many officials, including those in the UN, believe the American President can and will press the nuclear button, many others in Washington believe that "an all-powerful establishment, from the might of the top brass at the Pentagon to the consensus wisdom of practically every senior politician, will prevail against even an out-of-control president."
With circulating media reports suggesting that the U.S. Department of Defense is actively considering to bomb Iranian cities using nuclear weapons, it becomes clear that the U.S. current President, Mr. George W. Bush is a falling victim to the same lack of imagination that led John F. Kennedy imagine he could attack China to keep it from producing a nuclear bomb without igniting a major war.
What's also worrying is the catastrophic possibility that Bush will form another "coalition of the willing" by teaming up with Israel in a joint attack on the Islamic Republic.
Kennedy's failure 45 years ago to understand the consequence of his unwise plan to bomb China in circumstances remarkably like today's shows how easily Bush could fall into a major new war in the Middle East.
Zarqawi: the Pentagon's ongoing war of deception
: The Zarqawi case is vastly different from traditional forms of propaganda. It is information-warfare aimed exclusively at the American people with the intention of manipulating their perceptions. It builds the case for war out of whole cloth. Zarqawi has become the central justification for the ongoing occupation; a threatening, spectral figure who embodies the evils of terrorism. His image has overshadowed the obvious self-serving motives which led to the invasion and the subsequent destruction of Iraqi society.
Undoubtedly, many of the generals who are calling for Rumsfeld's resignation must be uncomfortable with this deliberate effort to deceive the American people. Not surprisingly, support for the war has eroded in direct proportion to the administration's loss of credibility. The lies simply haven't helped at all. The exposing of Zarqawi is bound to further erode whatever small amount of faith still remains in government's trustworthiness.
The influence of foreign fighters in Iraq has always been trivial. In the sieges of Falluja and Tel Afar less than 3% of those captured were non-Iraqis, and even those figures are in doubt. Never the less, a disproportionate number of articles appearing in the media have focused on uncorroborated claims of suicide bombings, beheadings, etc in an attempt to demonize an enemy that is mostly a Pentagon invention. The lesson we draw from this is powerful; nothing the military says can be trusted.
The civilian leadership, particularly Donald Rumsfeld, who we expect has authored many of these clever propaganda-schemes, should consider now whether the damage to their credibility has been worth the small gains they may have made in hoodwinking the public. It may be altruistic to think that "honesty is the best policy", but clearly, deception as policy has some glaring shortcomings as support for the war continues to diminish.
The media's role in facilitating the Zarqawi charade cannot be overstated. New York Times
reporter Dexter Filkins has been singled out for running a dubious letter from Zarqawi "boasting of suicide attacks" on the front page of the Times
. Filkins sheepishly admitted that he was "skeptical" about the letter but that didn't stop him (or 1,400 newspapers across the world) from using the piece to spread unsubstantiated claims about an imaginary Muslim terrorist.
Filkins, of course, is a very bright guy and knew that he was being used to promote the racist themes that have engendered greater suspicion of Muslims and fueled public hysteria. Still, Filkins is just one small cog in the mighty corporate propaganda-matrix which spews out anti-Arab hatred on a daily basis. Zarqawi is merely a way of vilifying the people who occupy the lands which possess the resources required to maintain western prosperity.
In my own research, I have spend a few evenings going over hundreds of articles on Zarqawi to find anything that might confirm his existence. As noted earlier, there are no reliable eyewitness accounts. What we find instead, is sometimes as many as 2,200 articles appearing on any given day pointing to Zarqawi's involvement in a bombing without any tangible proof of his authenticity.
The news has simply become another "faith based" operation like the Bush administration.
Zarqawi-related news is devoid of any factual content. The accepted policy of the news agencies (without exception) is to reiterate the same Pentagon talking points, suspicions, and baseless claims as their peers. This gives us some insight into the collaborative relationship between the corporate media and their allies in the defense establishment. The Pentagon's apparitions immediately become part of the national dialogue completely unchallenged by anyone in the news industry.
We should not expect that the Zarqawi myth will disappear anytime soon. The Bush administration has demonstrated a stubborn determination to cling to their fantasies no matter how threadbare they become. Besides, as Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt noted, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date".
Indeed, it probably is.
Blood on Our Hands
: The insightful Mr. K Gajendra Singh writes:
USA could slip into fascism, with its political leadership, corrupt to the core, as new scandals prove everyday, if not checked by its great US people. People around the world have started doubting if it were ever true.
This country, my country, has already become a fascist police state. Our government lies to the people, spies on citizens, kidnaps, imprisons without trial, engages in torture, and is leading the country to ruin. Incredibly, all of this is done with the support of its citizens. How is this possible? How can a democratic government abandon the people it serves and squander blood, treasure, and traditions in an irrational pursuit of global domination?
First, realize that the government no longer serves the people. It has been bought by the transnational corporate power structure and serves them, and is now simply the military arm of the corporations. Meanwhile, the corporate media fulfills the propaganda role - they control what the people experience as reality and therefore control how the people think. They have the public so filled with fear that they will agree to anything.
The ruling class knows, of course, that the USA is headed for ruin, but it does not care because it is transnational, by which I mean the corporate structure transcends the nation-state structure. The have no allegiance to any nation or people; their only allegiance is to profit and power. Gary Alan Scott notes, "a steady transformation from manufacturing to capital management," a significant observation because money is the most transnational of assets. He goes on to write
The disappearance of union jobs, outsourcing and downsizing has been the crowning achievement of American business relations over the past 30 years or so. The other factors contributing to what Bigioni calls "the fascist trajectory" includes low taxes, various forms of corporate welfare, the decimation of small businesses, and the ability of corporations to discharge obligations to employees, to the environment, and to the country as a whole.
By the prosecution of war the corporations plunder the riches of this nation while simultaneously intent on gaining control of the entire Middle East region's oil reserves so that they can continue to dominate the world for decades to come.
On the other side of this equation is an American population that resembles spoiled rich children. They are lazy, feel entitled to whatever they want, and have no sense of responsibility to the world community. They are not evil by their own design, but are willfully blind to evil so long as it does not interfere with their comfortable existence. They do not seek out truth, but accept as truth the corporate propaganda stream because it is easy and because it tells them what they want to hear which is that they are the victims, the righteous victims of a terrible outside evil. If they will just surrender their individual rights, their money, their children, their freedom, then the government will make them safe to go on with their empty lives of mass consumption.
I think it will take outside intervention to counter the force of the western corporate military machine, to contain and reverse their belligerent ambitions, to destroy their war making powers, and ultimately to hold them accountable for what they have done. My hope is that one day Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Rice, Feith, Bolton, and the rest of the war making administration will be tried at the international court in the Hague, just as the Nazi war makers were tried in Nuremberg, and I hope that a good number of them will be hanged for what they have done. And we American people will see that we all have blood on our hands and will be shamed by what we have let happen. Our economy will sink and China will rise as the new economic leader, and the world will get on about its business.
Designated Fall Guy: Replacing Rummy
: When the weight of our government's failure to respond to the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina dropped like a Daisy Cutter on America's mainstream consciousness, a convergence of political operatives and media spokespersons demanded a fall guy. They received one post-haste in the person of wide-eyed FEMA Director Michael Brown, who was suddenly portrayed as an unqualified political appointee, a deer caught in the headlights, utterly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster.
Of course, Michael Brown did not appoint himself.
Months later it became apparent that White House operatives (perhaps preoccupied with other pressing concerns) miscalculated. They failed to purge video records portraying the beleaguered "Brownie" as a fully informed and engaged administrator desperately pressing the president for coordinated action.
Michael Brown was not the reason for our government's failure in the Gulf Coast region and Secretary of Defense Donald "Rummy" Rumsfeld is not the reason for the catastrophe in Iraq.
Rumsfeld did not author the Bush Doctrine of aggressive war -- Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith and Cheney did. Rumsfeld was neither the first nor the most prominent member of the administration to draw the bull's eye on Baghdad -- Cheney and the neocon gulag were. Rumsfeld was not a leading disseminator of disinformation to justify an unjustifiable war. That designation goes to Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and the president himself. Rumsfeld did not declare war or grant authorization for war -- Congress did.
Donald Rumsfeld did not appoint himself -- Dick Cheney did.
Rumsfeld may well have sanctioned the torture regime manifest in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, eastern Europe and a handful of allied Middle East nations (and for that he should be tried by an international tribunal for war crimes) but he is not responsible for an ill-conceived and immoral war in the cradle of civilization.
Beyond the growing number of retired generals, there are many powerful persons in Washington who are anxious to pin the blame on Donald Rumsfeld but it would in fact be a tragic mistake because it would clear the path for further disasters in foreign policy -- most prominently, the prospective war with Iran.
Pinning the blame on Rummy would only serve the masters of war by feed the myth that the problem with the war in Iraq is not the war itself or the policies that precipitated it but the conduct and strategies of the war makers. Nothing could be more removed from reality.
As bad as the current state of affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan is, it could be much worse.
While rewriting history is the speculative preoccupation of neocon philosophers masquerading as historians, let us assume that the notion of overwhelming force from the Powell Doctrine was in place at the inception of the war. Let us assume that the presence of hundreds of thousands of occupying soldiers was sufficient to suppress looting and create an illusion of order.
The resistance would still be in place. The soldiers of Saddam's army would still have thrown off their uniforms and blended into the civilian population. Perhaps we could have killed more Iraqis, ravaged more villages, towns and cities, but every death creates a backlash of hatred and resentment, fueling the resistance. With more troops on the ground, we would surely have lost more soldiers and suffered more casualties yet we would still face the same reality: stalemate.
Was it Rumsfeld's decision to disband the Iraqi army? If that decision was reversed, does it follow that the resistance would be defeated? Hardly. The Iraqi army was disbanded because it could not be trusted to pledge allegiance to the occupation. Would the Iraqi army have participated in the purge of Fallujah or would it have come to the defense of their fellow citizens? What is often portrayed as a strategic error is at best an unknown. The Iraqi army is not a monolith. It would inevitably, as would most armies, have divided between the corrupted, choosing to play ball with the occupiers, and the resistance, choosing to defend their own people.
Ultimately, even if we assume that all of the neocon fantasies magically came to fruition (a pipedream if ever there was one), the outcome would only be postponed with increasingly tragic consequences.
Let us assume that we were greeted as liberators, that we established a viable representative government, that we soundly defeated the resistance and withdrew the bulk of our troops. What then? Would the Iraqis be content to yield control of their oil in perpetuity? Would they be content to host an American military presence on their land?
Where we speak of four-year, eight-year or even 40-year commitments, the inhabitants of the Persian Gulf speak of centuries. People who have struggled across millennia against foreign invaders and occupiers, many of them with religious fervor and a sense of god-given destiny, will never yield -- certainly not in a matter of decades.
Just as our continued military presence in Saudi Arabia following the 1991 war incited extremists, sparking terrorist explosions all over the planet, our continued military presence in ancient Mesopotamia will only do the same. As long as our forces are stationed on their land, Americans everywhere will be targets.
Blaming Donald Rumsfeld for the disaster in Iraq is like blaming Robert McNamara for Vietnam. (Somewhere the ghosts of LBJ and Dick Nixon are laughing.)
Blaming the strategies of war for an ill conceived, misbegotten and morally bankrupt act of aggression is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Bismarck.
No matter how we reposition the pieces on the board, the fact remains that this was a war of choice, guided by a tortured and thoroughly discredited philosophy of dominance by military conquest -- in short, a war that should never have been fought.
There is only one person who bears ultimate responsibility for the disaster in Iraq. On the rare occasions that he is not vacationing, he reports to the Oval Office every morning.
Beyond the president, if blame must be assigned, a portion belongs to all of us. If we are in fact a democracy, we cannot escape our fair share. We enabled this incompetent leader and his band of neocon warlords to capture the reigns of power for eight long years.
If we now allow our leadership to evade responsibility on the myth of strategic blunders, we will pave the way for further disasters.
Bush Administration: On the domestic and foreign fronts -- from triumph to near collapse in less than five years
: How time flies and how, to quote Donald Rumsfeld's infamous phrase about looters in Baghdad, "stuff happens." Looked at in the light of history, the incipient collapse of the Bush project seems to have occurred in hardly a blink. Its brevity is, in a sense, nearly inexplicable, as unexpected as water running uphill or an alien visitation. We are, after all, talking about the ruling officials of the globe's only "hyperpower" who have faced next to no opposition at home. In these years, the Democratic Party proved itself hardly a party at all, no less an oppositional one, and the active antiwar movement, gigantic before the invasion of Iraq, has remained, at best, modest-sized ever since. At the same time, in Iraq the administration faced not a unified national liberation movement backed by a superpower as in Vietnam, but a ragtag, if fierce, Sunni resistance and recalcitrant Shiite semi-allies, all now at each other's throats.
What makes the last few years so strange is that this administration has essentially been losing its campaigns, at home and abroad, to nobody. What comes to mind is the famous phrase of cartoonist Walt Kelly's character, Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Perhaps it's simply the case that -- in Rumsfeldian terms -- it's hard for people with the mentality of looters to create a permanent edifice, even when they set their minds to it.
Undoubtedly, the Bush administration is not yet out of ammunition, either figuratively or literally. Even as they stand in the rubble of their world, top Bush officials remain quite capable of making decisions that will export ruins to, say, Iran and create further chaos in the oil heartlands of the planet as well as here at home. I don't sell them short, nor do I see a Democratic Party capable of taking the reins of the globe's last standing imperial power and doing a heck of a lot better. Still, there's something consoling in knowing that history remains filled with surprises and that the short, rubble-filled, disastrous career of the Bush administration looks likely to be one of them.
UN demands US provide more information about its treatment of prisoners at home and foreign terrorism suspects held in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay
: In questions submitted to Washington, the panel also sought information about secret detention facilities and specifically whether the United States assumed responsibility for alleged acts of torture in them, U.N. officials said on Tuesday
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: “One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.” --- Mike Hastie, U.S. Army Medic Vietnam 1970-71, December 13, 2004