Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, April 4, 2006 Photo posted in April 2 on the Arabic anti-Iraq occupation blog Iraq Patrol. Bring 'em on: Ten US troops died on Sunday, according to U.S. military and Department of Defense. Five died in the vehicle accident. three Marines and a sailor were killed by "hostile fire." The tenth, Army Pfc. Jeremy W. Ehle was killed when his patrol came under fire near Hit. Bring 'em on: American troops clash with "insurgents" in Iraq. They began exchanging fire after a US military base was attacked in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: U.S. Air Force fighter planes provide close air support to troops fighting Iraqi "insurgents" north of the capital in Tikrit and Habaniyah and Fallujah west of Baghdad. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Bomb explodes outside Baghdad home Tuesday, killing a woman and two of her sons, ages 9 and 12. The woman's 13-year-old son was wounded in the bombing, as were two brothers of the second family. Two Iraqi staffers of United Aarab Emirates embassy killed when their car came under fire in Baghdad. Car bomb kills ten people, wounds 28 others in Baghdad. The bomb went off in a large lot in Habibiyah, where Iraqis go to sell used cars. 18 corpses found since Monday night. 17 were discovered around Baghdad, while one was found near the Tigris river in the village of Al-Sherkat, 250 kilometers (157 miles) north of Baghdad. Assailants gun down judge driving in eastern Baghdad. In Dora gunmen kill ice cream vendor and a person sitting with him in the vehicle. Policeman working at a morgue gunned down as he headed to his Dora home. Sahi area: In the Sahl area near the border with Saudi Arabia, two teenage shepherds killed by anti-personnel mine. Fatiha: One civilian killed by roadside bomb near Fatiha, north of Baiji. Dujail: Two truck drivers from a US base near Dujail shot dead by rebels. Tikrit: One civilian killed by US forces near checkpoint north of Tikrit. Iraqi truck driver kidnapped in Tikrit. Basra: Gunmen kill a policeman in Basra, another wounded as the two were driving in the city. Samarra: Car bomb parked near home of a city council member in Samarra explodes as his son was leaving the house about 8 a.m. The son was not harmed, but one of his security guards was killed, and four other guards were wounded. IRAQ NEWS Genocide charges brought against Saddam Hussein and six others, accusing them of genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from a 1980s crackdown against Kurds. The move, tantamount to an indictment under the Iraqi legal system, paves the way for a second trial of the ousted ruler. Saddam already is being tried in the killings of more than 140 Shiites in a town north of Baghdad. US plan to build 142 health clinics in Iraq runs out of money with only 20 of the centres completed: The contract, awarded to the US company Parsons, was intended to restore Iraq's healthcare system, once considered the best in the region. Instead the contractor will walk away having completed just 15 per cent of the planned construction, unless emergency funding can be found. Naeema al-Gasseer, the World Health Organisation's representative for Iraq, told The Washington Post it was a "shocking" state of affairs. "We're not sending the right message." Brigadier General William McCoy, the US Army commander with control over reconstruction projects in Iraq, said emergency funds were being sought for the clinics from the US military and foreign donors. UK Army losing battle to fill infantry ranks. Almost three times as many soldiers have left Scotland's infantry regiments in the past year as are currently in training to replace them. Cost of Iraq war and hurricane relief to exceed $100 billion. The price tag for must-pass legislation to pay for the war in Iraq and additional hurricane relief is expected to pass 100 billion dollars after action by a US Senate panel today. REPORTS US convoys will now stand and fight when attacked in Iraq: In a change to Army tactics, U.S. soldiers will stand and fight instead of shooting and pressing on when their convoys are attacked on Iraqi roads, according to Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va. "In the first two years of Iraq, convoys (under attack) just fired and kept rolling," said Maj. Roger Gaines, the battalion's operations officer said Thursday. "That gave bad guys the perception that Americans run away. Now, convoys will stop and engage the enemy." The change is part of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker's underlying philosophy of a more rigorous response to attacks, Perritt said in a telephone interview Thursday. Company C's 3rd Platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Joshua Mendoza, 26, of Chandler, Ariz., said shooting on the run did not send insurgents the right message. "They have been seeing how convoys are being attacked and driving off," he said. "The enemy has felt like they might be winning. Now we are going to take them out." The change in tactics is necessary because insurgents are getting smarter, said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Ahlborn, 36, of San Diego. "They know our reactions to certain things. Two years ago, they would never try and stop us," he said. "But now IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are becoming more prevalent on the battlefield, and they are doing anything they can to try and stop the convoys. "So what we are trying to do is plan for any type of contingency or scenario that insurgents might throw at us. The objective is not to chase them down. Just protect yourself and neutralize the threat that is immediate to your convoy." COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Back to the "men in black": Why Iraqi alliances are insisting on Al-Jaafari as PM? Al-Jaafari is from Pakistani origin he doesn't have the Iraqi tribal background (as a backbone), not even a history of struggle against the former regime (no public base support or a militia to relay on), conclusion: He will be a leader easy to control by the big parties (Badr and Sadr). Al-Jaafari know that, one of his biggest mistakes in his first term as PM was; the support of Iranian based Badr party, Iraqi public accused him as an Iranian agent while the reality is; Iraq was run by Al-Hakim, his "Badr" terrorists organization" and their masters in Iran. As a better alternative, Al-Jaafari chose Sadr organization this time to be allied with, for many reasons: - Sadr organization is not a political party, it is a public organization and it has a wide spread historical support in Iraq from the north ( in Kirkuk) to the south while Badr supporter are in the south and mostly in the regions neighbouring Iran. - Sadr Movement (as it call itself now) is an independent Iraqi organization not loyal to Iran (Muqtada Al-Sadr criticized Iran in his last speech in Basra for involving in Iraq's politics), and he is not a friend with the Americans, Al-Jaafari aiming to win the trust of the Iraqis through Sadr movement. For sure, the Americans are not happy with this scenario and they don't want to see the Sadrists and Jaafari working together in one (Anti-USA) Iraqi government which means they are loosing their grip on Iraq's politics. After three confrontations with Sadr and his Mahdi army without achieving anything (last weeks they wanted to start a new confrontation also but M. Sadr was wise enough to ask his supporters to stay calm and don't react), they came to this conclusion: Before destroying M. Al-Sadr himself, his base popularity among Iraqis and his alliance with Sunnis must be destroyed. Last weeks Iraqi officials gave some hints and remarks about a "Third Army" taking orders from the Americans, and don't follow instructions from the Iraqi government, doing "secret illegal operations" or as report says "dirty operations" (see Al-Hayat report in Arabic: here). The report goes further than this, it's also says that the last attack on the Shiia mosque was done by the same group Iraqis disguise in military clothes escorted by the Americans. By tying the loss ends, we come to the conclusion; they are the same group who attacked the Sunnis after the Askari mosque bombing, and blamed on the Sadrists (Sadr denied any involvement in this), and eyewitnesses reported in many occasions that the Americans gave backup to the "men in Black" attacking Sunnis at that time. Not because of our blue eyes: Is Iraq heading toward disintegration? The question is asked frequently by observers, never mind their attitude toward Iraq and Iraqis. The question implies more fundamental ones: is Iraq an artificial state? Or is it built on certain necessary foundations? If these foundations are no longer valid, should Iraq disintegrate? Iraq as a state and a civilization has existed well back in history. Deep-rooted civilizations, be they in the north, middle or south, came into being not because some power interest required them to but as a result of natural evolution. Even in modern history, when the Ottoman Empire introduced the villayet system it could not separate the three villayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Indeed, the British occupation formed the new Iraqi state according to these lines after cutting out some of its territories. One should remember that after signing the Sykes-Picot treaty, the British found that it was not realistic and changed their minds. This was not an accidental decision. The British strategists and political officers who controlled Iraq found that for economic and strategic reasons Iraq should be formed in the way it was. They realized that the north of Iraq could not subsist without the riches of the south and the south could not be defended without the natural boundaries of the north. I believe all these factors are still valid today. If we were to discuss the issue purely from a modern political understanding of realpolitik and national interests the facts also argue against disintegration. The only element, regionally or internationally, that could benefit from the disintegration of modern Iraq is Israel, for reasons no longer secret. Israeli analysts, in the 1980s during the Iraq-Iraq war, were the first to advocate the division of Iraq into three different states. All other regional actors are not of this view. This, of course, is not because of our blue eyes. Neighboring countries fear that a divided Iraqi state will be a source of instability in the region. They also know that any disintegration of Iraq will be a powerful precedent that could affect other, truly artificial, states in the region. In addition, any new and by necessity weak and fragile Iraqi entities that might emerge, would soon be swallowed by neighboring countries, seriously affecting the present balance of power in the region. In the end, the disintegration of any state remains wholly a matter of the will and desire of the people in question. Talk of Iraqi dissolution is only entered into by those who came with the occupation, who, knowing they possess no real support among Iraqis, began to play on the sectarian divisions of the people. Yet in spite of all that has happened in Iraq, especially after the bombing of the two sacred shrines in Samarah, Iraqi resistance to total civil war, similar to the one fought in Lebanon, has proven to be very strong. One cannot, of course, discount the possibility of a civil war under the chaotic situation Iraq is suffering under the occupation, but I maintain that it remains a remote possibility. Should it happen, and should Iraq disintegrate, the whole region will suffer, and no state can remain immune. Pentagon's 'roadmap' on war propaganda: Like all imperialist forces, the US is heavily relaying on misinformation propaganda campaign to promote and enhance its imperialist ideology. Violence and war crimes against defenceless civilians are depicted as "fighting the enemy". The mass murder of Iraqi civilians by US forces is normalised and welcomed with deafening silence. The purpose is thought control, or as it is called "perception management" designed to enhance US images. The campaign is part of a wider Western strategy to mislead the public, remove historical memory and justify more wars. According to George Orwell, newspeak is a form of propaganda to cover up criminal actions, especially killing people unjustly and deliberately, with a veneer of justification and reason. In Iraq, the occupying forces are increasingly covering the truth with lies and deception, blame the Iraqi people for the violence they have inflicted on them, and to remove the Occupation as the generator of violence. The three-year US Occupation of Iraq is becoming increasingly violent and the occupying forces are killing Iraqi civilians with impunity while encouraging Iraqis to fight each other. The atrocity is aided by massive Western propaganda campaign to demonise Iraqis and portray not only Iraqis but also Muslims in general as fanatic and violent. This includes: 1) the Occupation is a benign "peace mission" and necessary "to prevent" civil war; 2) Iraq is a "breeding ground for terrorists"- as if the illegal invasion and Occupation of Iraq are not the greatest acts of terrorism; and 3) Iraqis are responsible for what is happening to them. Each of the three is a falsehood Western elites (Left and Right) have adopted these falsehoods to justify their attacks on the Iraqi people and to jump on the misinformation propaganda of Occupation bandwagon. A recent secret Pentagon 'roadmap' on war propaganda, personally approved by Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for the total control of information before they become available to the American public. The aim is to pacify and remove the public influence on foreign policies. Furthermore, the US continues the practice of paying journalists, including Iraqis, to plant stories in the Iraqi news media in favour of the brutal Occupation. The purpose is thought control, or as it is called "perception management", designed to enhance US images, including military image. (...) As Iraqis are increasingly demanding the end to the Occupation, US warmongers are now openly and unashamedly advocating "civil war" in Iraq. While all the fabricated pretexts to occupy Iraq have expired, the US continues to divide Iraqis and promote civil war in order to destroy of what left in Iraq. One of George W. Bush closest advisors, the Islamophobic Zionist Daniel Pipes said recently: "I don't think from the point of view of the coalition it is necessarily that bad for our interests... In the first place, there would be fewer attacks on our forces in Iraq as they fight each other ... More broadly outside Iraq, there would be fewer attacks on us as the Shiites and the Sunnis attack each other". In other words, civil war is good for West and should be encouraged. Only the Nazis were known to have promoted such criminal ideology in the past. Without the current divisions, it would have been impossible for the US and its vassals to occupy Iraq for three years. The US created, trained, armed and financed the sectarian and ethnic-based militia groups and death squads proved to be useful imperialist tool. It is part of the "unconventional warfare" waged by the Bush Administration against the Iraqi population. The aims are: 1) to foment civil strife and encourage fratricidal killings among Iraqis; 2) terrorise the Iraqi population and subjugate them to US diktats; 3) shield the occupying forces from any attack; and 4) divert public attention from the crimes of the occupying forces. Having failed to ignite an all-out civil war in Iraq, the US is no turning one militia group against another. The militia have been very useful tools. Indeed, US crimes become so obvious that the puppet government demanded that the occupying US forces withdraw from the cities and hand overall security to the Iraqis. One should not be mislead by the Bush rhetoric of Iraq is a "model for democracy". As Iraqis are demanding that the puppet government form a government and shows some independence, the Bush Administration interfered. The Bush Administration is opposed to the nomination of Ibrahim al-Jaafari as "prime minister" for a second term despite that al-Jaafari's Iraqi United Alliance (IUA) won the majority of seats. The US is using al-Jaafari - an imported stooge - as a scapegoat to break the Alliance, and prevent the emergence of majority government. By blocking national unity among Iraqis, the US is playing one faction against another. Muqtada al-Sadr - who the US has sought to assassinate - was clever enough not to buy into the US agenda and continue to work with all Iraqis to create a national unity government. The US did not invade and destroyed Iraq for the sake of "democracy" and "freedom". The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq is part of the US imperialist-Zionist ideology. The current US campaign is to divide Iraqis and prevent an Iraqi government of unity at all coast. As it is the case, there has been no government in Iraq since the invasion and the promotion of "civil war" has increased markedly. The US-groomed puppet government is a propaganda tool. It is a façade designed to legitimise ongoing Occupation and cover up its associated crimes. It has no power and is unable to provide Iraqis with the minimum services required, let alone security. There is no national sovereignty under foreign occupation. Hence, the Iraqi people are struggling to free themselves from the Anglo-American-orchestrated Occupation and oppression. Three years of violent Occupation and Bush's "political process" of fraudulent elections, were designed as a veneer to cover-up deliberately instigated crimes and unjustified violence. Propagating an Anglo-American version of "democracy" and "freedom" to justify war crimes is like planting Anglo-American version of "good news" in the media about a murderous Occupation. It won't affect the Iraqi Resistance and determination of the Iraqi people to liberate their country from foreign Occupation. Resistance to Western terrorism is not terrorism; it is legitimate Resistance. Iraqi is not in "civil war"; the Occupation is the cause of the violence. Will Caligula Bush commit suicide?: Iraqis soldiers of the truth, hear the good tidings! It is time for celebration! Remember what glorious Saddam Hussein said: "By attacking Iraq, the US will lose the region." The fascist US democracy has shown its real, ugly, horrible and bloodthirsty face. After dropping its democratic mask at Abu Ghraib, detaining, torturing, and killing hundred of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.... The US lost whatever respectability. The fascist US is bankrupt. The US is hated in the whole wide world from the rising sun to the setting sun. The US has lost South America. The US Beast is no more! The US Beast scares no one, thanks to you Iraqi Glorious Resistance... and the whole world over knows that, Iraqi Resistance, you control Iraq, all Iraq! In spite of the mainstream media whores of the BBC, MI5 dubbed reporters, the Guardian of her majesty the Queen's nappies, the CNN hotels journalists of the Green Zone who have become the fascist US Occupation army spokesman and the Pentagon's shameless ugly belly dancers and dishonorable press officers. Bloodthirsty Bush and his fascist clique remind me of the well known Gericault's painting the Medusa Raft, not the beauty of the painting because Bush and the US fascists are the incarnation of everything ugly and evil. In these painting desperate survivors who escaped their wrecked ship got themselves into a makeshift raft, which went adrift in the ocean for days without a single hope for survival. They were struck with thirst and the ocean salty water burnt their throat! Some with fits lied down on the shattered raft timber like epileptics, while the others were seized by convulsions. Hunger threw them into incoherent speech and went dangerously delirious. They started to devour and lynch each other. I can imagine Bush being hit by some terrifying delusions to which some heavy drinkers are liable talk about another victory strategy in Iraq, while there is not a single shore of hope on the horizon. His US fascist army is devoured by the ten thousands years old Iraqi furnace. What on earth Bush the senile can do to extricate himself from his Iraqi ten thousands years cauldron which always burnt every invaders, be it the Romans, the Crusaders, or the pagan Persian Sassanid fire worshippers? Bush is right to get depressed after all, he can speak with God, but he is not a god himself! Will he commit suicide? Doctors and psychiatrists assert that mentally ill individuals seldom commit suicide for to do so you must feel terribly guilty and desperate and face realities. This state doesn't apply to W Bush because A: he is a professional criminal and a born murderer, and B: he is a coward in the genes, and cowards, even vilified and degraded, would favor to live demeaned and debased and if wealthy, would commit suicide by substitution, i.e. through sending US fresh youth to be gobbled on their behalf, by the Mesopotamian inferno. America's Brutal Tactics: Naturally enough, few details of what American troops do in Iraq and Afghanistan reach the nation's television screens, the main source of news for most Americans. American television takes the approach of the New York Times when it refers to professional soldiers as GIs, as though they were humble mechanics and bricklayers of America drafted into the titanic struggle against Hitler and Tojo. But if you are genuinely interested in discovering the truth, there are plenty of sources for first-hand information. And anyone taking a little time to search through some of these comes away with a sick feeling. From several ex-soldiers comes a vivid image of America's house-to-house methods of searching for "insurgents." A small block of C-4 plastique is fixed to the front door of a house, the door is blown in, and several armored giants rush through the shock and smoke with their automatic weapons at the ready. Women and children are held to one side at gunpoint, while any men are taken roughly for questioning. In most cases, the men have nothing worthwhile to say, but they and other members of their families are left with a terrifying experience they will never forget. These violent procedures have been repeated thousands of times, both in Iraq and in the mountain villages of Afghanistan. Could this be part of what Condoleezza Rice meant when she said recently in Britain that despite thousands of tactical mistakes, America's basic strategy was sound? Can you imagine her saying the same thing if Washington-area police blew her door down and stormed into her home in Chevy Chase or whatever other exclusive area she lives, perhaps looking for drug dealers or murderers, suspecting her home because she is black? Another aspect of America's crude tactics has been their way of responding to periodic mortar fire. The American forces use a high-tech radar gizmo that tracks the path of such shells supposedly to permit accurate return fire by artillery. Unfortunately the gizmo often does not work properly, and even when it does operate well, the tactics of mobile guerillas firing a shell from a truck or car and driving away leave the data of the gizmo useless. Well, not completely useless, because American artillery still responds. It's just that all they hit are innocent residences or businesses. The trigger-happy nature of Americans at checkpoints is a well-established fact. These boys, many of them having joined up for benefits like money for college, do not want to be in these places, and they are irritated by the strange tongues and cultures and the blazing heat and sandstorms. They simply shoot first and ask questions after. I suppose this tactic might have been appropriate on the Eastern Front in World War II, but it is totally unsuited to a place you are occupying after having invaded, a place where the overwhelming majority of people with which you interact are just ordinary people going about their lives. There have been dozens of pictures on the Internet of whole families obliterated in their cars by American soldiers. Children have been pumped full of holes. A kidnapped Italian journalist almost lost her life on her short journey back to freedom. The brave Italian secret service agent who had secured her freedom and was accompanying her to freedom was pumped full of holes. Yet this car and its contents were well known and had been identified to American forces. It is extremely unlikely this was an error, the Italian journalist being someone hated by American occupation authorities for her critical stories. Such a number of unarmed journalists have been shot by American troops that the idea of the accidents of war is not credible. Of course, the recent revelation in Britain that Bush actually discussed bombing offices of Aljazeera adds another dimension to these events. It seems both public and press have forgotten the words of Donald Rumsfeld not long after the U.S. "triumphed" in Afghanistan, the words being among the most shameful in American history and certainly ranking with anything a dread figure like Reinhard Heydrich uttered. On what to do with the thousands of prisoners taken in the invasion, Rumsfeld publicly stated they should be killed or walled away forever. It does appear he was taken at his word, for thousands of prisoners disappeared around the time. There are many eyewitness reports -- a documentary film was made by a Scots director -- about Afghan prisoners having been taken into the desert in trucks to suffocate in the blazing heat. American soldiers, if they didn't actively help, just stood around and let it happen. In the early part of the invasion of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of emergency de-hydrated food packets were dropped by American planes in some of the same areas that cluster bombs were being dropped. As pictures on the Internet testify, the bomblet canisters (pressure-sensitive cans packed with something like razor wire and high explosive) and the food packages were virtually the same optical yellow color. Imagine how many hungry peasants and children were attracted to these deadly areas by the food packets, only to be torn apart? Bad publicity all over the world did stop the Pentagon's grotesque practice, but the question of using cluster bombs near civilian populations remains. It was done both in Afghanistan and Iraq. The brave journalists of Aljazeera took dozens of pictures of what these bombs did to children in Iraq, their publication providing one of the reasons for the Pentagon's and Bush's intense hatred of the network. The revelations about the behavior of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison are well known, although the last round of abuse and torture pictures released did not include the worst stuff that American Senators saw in closed session a while back. It's almost as though the "tamer" stuff was released to defuse demands for more information. America's great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has said the worst stuff included boys being raped by American soldiers. How many senior officers or officials have paid for these horrors that absolutely had to be known to them? The answer is none. What did Lieutenant Calley and Captain Medina suffer for the mass murder and rape of women and children in Vietnam a few decades ago? Not much, and their seniors nothing at all. Of course we know from many sources including amateur plane spotters and flight records that America runs a gigantic secret prison system. Sources in Europe say that 14,000 are held in Iraq alone. There are also secret prisons in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and at Guantanamo. All of these prisoners are held with no legal rights whatever, just as though they had disappeared into Stalin's Gulag. In most cases the prisoners are simply people who fought Americans in their invasions of two lands. Since when do we do this to the fighters who oppose us in war? Americans themselves in the past have joined foreign wars as idealists or as mercenaries. This happened in South Africa, various African anti-colonial wars, Central America, South America, Indo-China, Spain, and other places. It's an old tradition going back to Lafayette and Pulaski in the American Revolutionary War. The men, and boys, America now holds with no rights were doing no more than what tens of thousands of Americans and others have done previously. Excerpt from a review of Tariq Ali's book "Bush in Babylon": Of this current Iraqi resistance, one fighter told a Canadian journalist: "When we see the U.S. soldiers in our cities with guns, it is a challenge to us. I don't know a lot about political relations in the world, but if you look at history - Vietnam, Iraq itself, Egypt and Algeria - countries always rebel against occupation. The world must know that this is an honourable resistance and has nothing to do with the old regime. Even if Saddam Hussein dies we will continue to fight to throw out the American forces. We take our power from our history, not from one person." Their history is well retold in Ali's offering. The resistance has already won, even as Iraqis have suffered casualties that number in the tens of thousands. They have begun to set the agenda. No longer is the White House able to dictate the pace of reconstruction of the country to its own ends, or even to control the most basic element of power: security. When the army began to use the word "pacification", it meant that it too conceded that it had no control over the population. The White House plan to move on Syria and Iran is on hold. The resistance is as uncompromising as it is brutal, but why should it bear the brunt of our displeasure? As Ali notes, "When you have an ugly occupation, you can't have a beautiful resistance." Ali's book reminds us that Iraq is not just the name of a war. It is also the name of a country. --- Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq by Tariq Ali; Leftword, New Delhi, 2006; pages 280, Rs.195 (paperback) Pentagon Thievery: An Interview with Jeffrey St. Clair: I subscribe to the historian Gabriel Kolko's view that the morons running the Bush administration are destroying the US empire from the inside out. But even the seasoned Dr. Kolko's must be agape at how quickly the rot has set in. Not only has the Bush administration provoked civil war inside Iraq, they've also ignited one inside the Pentagon. That's because by and large the Generals who run the show aren't all that anxious to start extended wars so much as to engage in threat inflation to justify their real operational mission which is to funnel billions into the coffers of the big defense firms: Lockheed, Boeing, TRW, Raytheon and the like. Recall that the Iraq war was supposed to be a quick cakewalk, with Saddam's regime smashed to bits during the Shock and Awe air assault, and the ground forces entering Baghdad in a kind of parody of a Roman triumph. And it was all supposed to pay for itself through the looting of Iraq's oil wealth. Surprise! The Pentagon now finds itself in an intractable quagmire with no foreseeable exit. Worse from the Generals' point of view is the escalating costs, now approaching a trillion dollars with no end in sight and not the slightest indication from Bush Central that any new revenue streams, i.e., tax hikes, are in the offing. The public debt is soaring and that means that real business of the Pentagon is being put at risk: procurement of big-ticket items. At the top of the list, of course, is Star Wars, the $100 billion fantasy, which has never worked and never will. The biggest reason Kim Jung Il has nothing to fear from the Bush crowd is that they need his slingshot missile program in order to justify continuing to dump money into Star Wars on the ludicrous grounds that the North Koreans might be able to hit one of the outer Aleutian Islands with a wind-aided missile strike. And there are dozens of other baroque projects dreamed up during the height of the Cold War, from the F-22 Fighter to the Stealth bomber to the Joint Strike Fighter, which no longer have any strategic or tactical utility other than to keep Boeing and Lockheed's assembly lines rolling with the costliest weapons systems ever conceived to be deployed against an enemy that doesn't exist. Now, personally, I think if we're going to spend billions on weapons we might be better off spending them on weapons that don't work and almost certainly will never be used. But the Pentagon and the big contractors are having night sweats. For the first time in 60 years there may not be enough money to go around. That's why you've begun to hear grumblings from inside the Pentagon and inside the executive offices of companies such as Lockheed and Boeing that it might be time to cut and run in Iraq. Rumsfeld is fighting two insurgencies: one is Iraq and one inside the Pentagon. It's probably our best hope for an early end of the war. --- Jeffrey St. Clair is the co-editor of CounterPunch and the author of numerous books, including most recently Grand Theft Pentagon: Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror (Common Courage Press 2006). I've been doing some research and there ARE a lot of good news stories to be reported: The Iraqi real estate market, for instance, is literally booming with many craters going for as little as two chickens and a goat. Work on the theme park Depleted UraniumLand is near completion with most of the rides not exactly hair-raising as opposed to hair-losing. The opening of the George W. Bush Freedom High School has been delayed, unfortunately, because of a problem with textbook quizzes. No matter what the subject, all the answers read: "9/11." The first Fallujah Barbecue Jamboree was held, with citizens providing the livestock and the U.S. military dropping in with tons of white phosphorous and MK-77 firebombs. You haven't tasted beef until it's been liquefied. Yummm. The first Iraqi "Iron Man" competition, held at Abu Ghraib, is ready to take off. The winner gets a pardon and complimentary medical treatment. The Najaf 500 was recently held, based on the Indy 500. The winner was the car that didn't blow-up. The Little Theater of Baghdad Theater troupe staged their production of Robert Lewis Stevenson's "Kidnapped." It was considered a great success until it was noted, by play's end, a third of the audience had gone missing. A new, U.S.-sponsored Iraqi TV network, Al-Bizarro, made it's debut, offering such quiz shows as "Truth or Consequences," "Jeopardy" and a revival of Groucho Marx's golden-oldie "You Bet Your Life." An Iraqi version of the American TV show "Extreme Makeover" also premiered, with players watching their existing homes vaporized by U.S. bombs and, then, envisioning their new home with no money nor tools to build it. Okay. I made all those up. Kinda. BEYOND IRAQ IRAN Blix says Iran is at least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, leaving time to peacefully negotiate a settlement. Blix, attending an energy conference in western Norway, said he doubted the U.S. would resort to invading Iran. "But there is a chance that the U.S. will use bombs or missiles against several sites in Iran," he was quoted by Norwegian news agency NTB as saying. "Then, the reactions would be strong, and would contribute to increased terrorism." Blix said there is still time for dialogue over Iran's nuclear enrichment program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West fears is part of a secret nuclear weapons program. "We have time on our side in this case. Iran can't have a bomb ready in the next five years," Blix was quoted as saying. Blix, also a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the United States to take its time, as it is doing in a similar nuclear standoff with North Korea. "The U.S. has given itself time and is negotiating with North Korea, while Iran got a very short deadline," he was quoted as saying. War Against Iran, April 2006: Biological Threat and Executive Order 13292: History repeats itself, but always with new twists. We are back to the good old days when a Declaration of War preceded the start of a war. Such declaration occurred on March 16th, 2006. Reversing the old order, we are now in the "Sitzkrieg", to be followed shortly by an aerial "Blitzkrieg" in the coming days. In the old days, Congress declared war, and directed the Executive to take action. In the new millenium, the Executive declared war last March 16th, then Congress will pass H.R. 282, "To hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran." This bill and previous ones like it are in direct violation of the legally binding Algiers Accords[pdf] signed by the United States and Iran on January 19, 1981, that states "The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs"; however, this is clearly of no interest to the 353 policymakers sponsoring the bill. The US promised Russia and China that the UN Security Council statement just approved will not be a trigger for military action after 30 days; true to its promise, the US will attack before the 30-day deadline imposed by the UNSC for Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment activity, i.e. before the end of April. The "justification" is likely to be an alleged threat of imminent biological attack with Iran's involvement. The formal war declaration against Iran, the National Security Strategy of March 16, 2006, stated: • "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran." • "The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom." • "[T]he first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage." • "The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction - and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD." • "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively." • "When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize." • "[T]here will always be some uncertainty about the status of hidden programs." • "Advances in biotechnology provide greater opportunities for state and non-state actors to obtain dangerous pathogens and equipment." • "Biological weapons also pose a grave WMD threat because of the risks of contagion that would spread disease across large populations and around the globe." • "Countering the spread of biological weapons .... will also enhance our Nation's ability to respond to pandemic public health threats, such as avian influenza." This has to be combined with the 2005 U.S. State Department "FINDING. The United States judges that, based on all available information, Iran has an offensive biological weapons program in violation of the BWC." In addition, the March 16 declaration makes it clear that the US will use nuclear weapons in the war against Iran: • ."..using all elements of national power..." • "Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role. We are strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities)." and this is further reinforced by the just released "National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction"[pdf] that states "Offensive operations may include kinetic (both conventional and nuclear) and/or non-kinetic options (e.g. information operations) to deter or defeat a WMD threat or subsequent use of WMD." There is of course also the claim that Iran is a threat because it intends to develop nuclear weapons. The sole purpose of that claim, which flies in the face of all available evidence, is to generate a diplomatic stalemate at the UN that will allow Bush to state that other nations share the US concern but not the resolve to act. However the actual trigger for the bombing to begin will not be the long-term and by now discredited nuclear threat, rather it is likely to be the threat of an imminent biological attack. (...) The key lies in Executive Order 13292, which made information on "weapons of mass destruction" and on "defense against transnational terrorism" classified. If concrete details about Iran's alleged biological weapons programs were made public, they would be subject to public scrutiny and they would be discredited, as the allegations on Iran's "nuclear weapons program" have been. The US is likely to have "assembled" classified information on Iran's biological weapons programs and shared it with selected individuals, including members of Congress, under the constraint that classified information cannot be made public. For example, at the June 25, 2004 House subcommittee "MEMBERS ONLY CLASSIFIED BRIEFING on Iran, Middle East Proliferation and Terrorist Capabilities." The unclassified portion of that briefing states "It is time for Iran to declare its biological weapons program and make arrangements for its dismantlement." There is likely to be a team of "experts" lined up by the administration that will support its claims that Iran had a biological weapons program representing an imminent threat. There is always room in science for differing opinions, and if an open scientific debate is not possible because information is classified, any outlandish claim can find some supporters in the scientific community. The most likely biological threat to be invoked, because it has a natural time element associated with it, is the threat of a bird flu pandemic caused by a deliberately mutated H5N1 virus carried by migrating wild birds. (...) Casus Belli The Bush administration has spent vast sums of money in combating bioterrorism threats, reportedly over $7 billion per year, without any evidence or precedent for bioterrorism attacks. Nevertheless there will always be plenty of scientists that will flock to where the grant money is and devote efforts to validate conclusions that are valued by the organizations giving the grants, and news media duly publicize the hyped threat of bioterrorism. Still, last year over 700 scientists including 2 Nobel laureates signed a petition objecting to the diversion of funds from projects of high public-health importance to biodefense, calling it a "misdirection" of priorities. Dr. Richard H. Ebright, a renowned molecular biologist, states that "A majority of the nation's top microbiologists - the very group that the Bush administration is counting on to carry out its biodefense research agenda - dispute the premises and implementation of the biodefense spending." On the supposed threat of bird flu, while it is continuously being hyped by the administration [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], expert opinion is that it is not a serious threat [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] and is politically motivated. The blaming of bird flu spread on wild birds is also highly questionable [1], [2]. On March 15th, right before the disclosure of the new National Security Strategy, I suggested the bird flu casus belli against Iran, that would "necessitate" bombing of Iranian facilities before the bird migration season begins in the Spring. Several elements emphasized in the March 16 NSS appear to support that scenario, as discussed above. In a March 20 press conference concerning federal preparedness for avian flu, Secretary Michael Leavitt (who also warned a few weeks ago to store tuna and milk under the bed to prepare for bird flu ) stated "Think of the world if you will as a vast forest that is susceptible to fire. A spark if allowed to burn will emerge as an uncontainable fire. That's a pandemic. If we are there when the spark happens, it can be squelched. But if allowed to burn for a time it begins to spread uncontrollably." An aerial attack on Iranian installations may be touted as the "squelching" of the bird flu pandemic spark. (...) The "clear" reasons and "just" cause for the administration to attack can be stated as follows: if a bird flu pandemic can cause 150 million deaths and there is even a one percent probability that the "intelligence" is right, i.e. even if there is a 99% "uncertainty about the status of hidden programs", the expected number of deaths that would be prevented by bombing the Iranian facilities is the product of those two numbers, i.e. 1.5 million, vastly larger than the few thousand Iranian casualties due to "collateral damage." [I must take exception to the item posted about bird flu. The assertion that it is being hyped by politicians and that expert opinion is that it is not a serious threat is completely false. In fact the opposite is true. Virologists and the civil servants in the WHO were concerned about this for years before they could get any politicians to pay attention. It is a legitimate concern, although nobody can say when or with what probability a human pandemic may emerge. The U.S. is spending very little on preparedness, in fact. The notion that this could be used as an excuse to bomb Iran is utterly ridiculous. Laughable. -- cervantes] QUOTE OF THE DAY: "When you have an ugly occupation, you can't have a beautiful resistance." --- Tariq Ali


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