Monday, May 31, 2004

Bush shows gun to visitors (in same room Clinton showed his to Lewinsky): "A handgun that Saddam Hussein was clutching when US forces captured him in a hole in Iraq last December was now kept by President George W. Bush at the White House, a spokesman confirmed today. Time magazine, which first disclosed the gun's location, said military officials had it mounted after it was seized from Saddam near his hometown of Tikrit last year, and soldiers involved in the capture gave it to Bush. The magazine quoted a visitor who had been shown the gun, which is kept in a small study off the Oval Office where Bush displays memorabilia. It is the same room where former President Bill Clinton had some of his encounters with former intern Monica Lewinsky.

"Bush showed Saddam's gun to select visitors, telling them it was unloaded, both now and when Saddam was captured. "He really liked showing it off," Time quoted a visitor as saying. "He was really proud of it.""

Property bubble won't burst till 2006/7: "Australia's residential property market was showing signs of slowing but there would be no bursting of the house price bubble in the near term, BIS Shrapnel said today. In a report detailing its latest expectations for the market from 2004 to 2007, the forecaster said it expected demand to hold up and continued low interest rates to sustain the residential market in the short-term. This was despite weak first home buyer demand and a drop in investor activity, it said."

""This data and the above factors will ensure the price bubble does not burst in the short-term, with the residential property market not expected to enter a downturn until 2006/07 when high interest rates bring a price correction," BIS Shrapnel said."

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Review of the Henry George Movement in Denmark, by Ole Lefmann, June 29 1993: The Georgist movement in Denmark began probably around 1885, when a Norwegian, Viggo Ullman, lectured at various Danish folk high schools about the ideas of Henry George, which he has learned from England.

The Danes were by old tradition accustomed to the concept that the land belongs to the people, but the tradition had already for some time been attacked by privileges achieved by nobles, and attacked more intense as the industrialization grew.

Farmers were pressed in the later years of the 19th Century, and some of them found a hope and support for their wants in the ideas of Henry George. Also intellectual people became aware of the situation of the peasants and of the growing number of workers in the cities having only their hands to sell for a living, and many people found good reasoning in Henry George's ideas.

These were, however, not accepted as the best bid for the workers, as the intellectuals explained free trades for them in a way that most of the workers could only understand as "laissez-faire", which they definitely could not accept. Instead of, the main part of the workers in Denmark, as in most of the world, followed the ideas of Karl Marx, who proposed the workers unite to become strong and to take over control of land and capital.

But from its very beginning in the 1880s, The Danish Social Democracy proposed in its political program taxation on land values.

As the economical situation became more hard to smallholders, and good georgists could explain this with reference to Henry George's ideas, the georgist movement grew, and The Danish Henry George Union was founded in 1902.

Some of its most eager members wanted a more solid platform for their political ambitions, and those members cooperated with other groups around filosophers and public leaders in forming the Radical Left Wing Party that was declaring that a land value taxation should collect all the rent of land for public affairs instead of taxes on income and consumption. (1905)

At this time The Danish Henry George Union had around 2000 enlisted members, but after this the number of members declined.

But many georgists were not satisfied with the progress of georgism in The Social Democracy and The Radicals, and they continued arguing for more political action.

In those years many ideas of freedom and liberty occurred, among which were free traders, pacifists, interest fighters, filosophers, humanists, bringing-up and education specialists, religious people and other reformers, and many of those went to each others meetings discussing matters, and they wrote articles to each others periodical publications.

Finally they knew each other so well, that many of them decided to establish a union with the object to appeal to the voters for seats in the parliament. Their economic policy was to collect all the rent of land in order to abolish all taxes on labor and wealth, and they took the name of The Justice Party.

They did progress, got 12 seats (of 179) in Parliament, effected the appointment of The Government Commission for Ground Duty in Denmark who wrote its report in 1952, they claimed that taxes on income and consumption had to go and land taxation to come instead of, and they formed in 1957 together with The Social Democracy and the Radicals the ever most prosperous Danish government, later on called the Ground Duty Government.

This government agreed different bills of land value taxation:

1). To the local administration: Land Value Taxation on all land at its full market value (cash value); but the percentage (per mille) were set by the municipal local administrations and varied much from one locality to another.

2). To the state (central) administration: a Taxation on the increment in the full market Landvalues (cash values), which, it if was maintained until today, would have collected most of the actual land value. Through many years, the registrated land value of Denmark has been equal to our national debt to foreigners.

After three years in power Denmark has no foreign debt, no Inflation and the unemployment was 1%, called Full Employment.

However, due to errors in this the first modern Tax on Incremental Land Values (TIL), and because of well organised agitation against it, and because of drop-out of the best speakers for LVT, and because of the fact that a great deal of the supporters of the Justice Party and the Radicals did not want the Social Democrats to get the possibility of to dispose of the great amount of the landrent going to be collected by the Ground Duty Government, the voters for parliament at the 1960 election totally rejected the Justice Party. They blamed the Justice Party that taxes on labor and consumption was not reduced, what was true, but it was also true that unemployment and national debt were suppressed, and that no further tax was levied by the Ground Duty Government. After the rejection of the Justice Party very few politicians dared to speak highly of LVT for a very long time.

In 1965 the TIL (Jordvaerdistigningsskylden) was abolished. LVT to the local administration is still maintained, and a new income tax on supposed rental value (below market value) of the total of house and land was introduced.

In the meantime the Danish Henry George Union was in a trough. In the 1950s all active Georgists went to the political parties, and all their activities were used in politics. And in the 1960s people would not listen to repetition of the same arguments as used during the 1950s. Times had changed, the set-pieces were changed, wages and land prices went up, people were thinking of buying things and homes and cars and summer cottages and the charter tourist era began, young people though of freedom from their own parents, freedom of being parents, freedom of duties of any kind, and freedom from all authorities, and even freedom from the authority of Nature. During these years the amount of houseowners increased from being 30% of all homes to 50%. The new houseowners were looking forward to dispose of the coming increment of their landvalues. Georgists searching for new arguments found themselves disputing together about their own theses. People went away from politicians preaching georgism.

The Danish Henry George Union had to go into internal discussions, and I am glad being able to say, that the words and sentences being used today are more relevant to the actual situation of today, than were the words and sentences in the 1960s.

The Danish Henry George Union has never been involved in party politics, but as many of its members were also members of political parties, most of them of the Justice Party, the common opinion is that the Danish Henry George Union is identical with the Justice Party, which is completely wrong.

In order to emphasize that the Danish Henry George Union is not oriented to any political party, but open for all georgists, we have tried very hard to distance from all parties and especially from the Justice Party, and if we in the name of The Danish Henry George Union ever touch or refer to a political party, we always touch or refer to more than one political party.

International Georgist Union: Declaration of Human Rights: "The economic, the political and, consequently, the intellectual and moral conditions of any people are ultimately determined by the system of land tenure under which they live;

Since everyone has an equal right to live it follows necessarily that everyone has an equal right to the use of land by which alone life can be sustained;

The private appropriation of the rent or value of land constitutes a violation of those equal rights, and its consequences are that holders of privilege exact a monopoly price for access to land, the community is deprived of its natural revenue, taxation is heaped upon trade and industry, production is harassed and arrested, and industrial depressions inevitably occur;

The more completely the land is thus monopolised, the greater is the insecurity of employment and the nearer are wages driven down to mere subsistence level. This is true of all countries, no matter how they may differ in their forms of government, in the nature or development of their industries, in their tariff policies, monetary systems, internal or external public debts, or in any other way.

We therefore advocate:

That the equal right to land be secured by requiring of all landholders an annual payment to society approximating the full rental value of the land held, whether it be used or not, and excluding the value of the improvements thereon; and that such payment, at all levels of government, be based on a valuation showing the true rental value of the land, this valuation being made public and being kept up to date by periodical revision;

That such payment be construed to be the rightful and sufficient public revenue for all levels of government;

That imposts on earnings and consumption, taxes on improvements, customs tariffs, exchange controls and other burdens and barriers that restrict sustainable production and obstruct the free movement of men and goods be concurrently abolished;

And we maintain that:

The public collection of the annual value of land and the abolition of taxes that are repressive on industry and commerce would enable the producer to enjoy the full fruits of his labour, make the withholding of land from use unprofitable, put an end to the monopoly of land, and, by freeing the channels of trade, remove the main causes of international strife;

The wide field of enterprise being thus thrown open, illimitable except for provisos to protect human life, health and the environment, involuntary poverty would be banished; "over-production" would be inconceivable until all human wants were satisfied; labour-saving inventions would be rendered a blessing to all; and there would be such production and distribution of wealth as would enable all to achieve comfort and leisure and to participate in the advantages of a progressing civilisation.

We condemn, as infringing personal liberties and menacing the general welfare, all plans - except for provisos to protect the citizens lives, health and the environment - that involve regimentation of the individual by the State; invoke the arbitrary powers of Government to control or prohibit import and export trade; profess the need for maintaining tariffs in one country because of their existence in others; imply the retention and mere management of monopolies instead of their abolition; use the proceeds of taxes and loans or the manipulation of money to put goods on the market at fictitious prices; or contemplate the unbalancing of budgets and the expansion of public debts on the pretext that spreading purchasing power by these methods will have beneficial social effects.

Individual and Common Rights in Land

The Earth is the common heritage of all people and all have natural and equal rights in land.

Subject always to these natural and equal rights in land and to this common ownership, there are certain specific rights that the individual can and must enjoy.

These rights properly enjoyed by individuals are:

1. The right to secure exclusive occupation of land.

2. The right to the exclusive use of land occupied.

3. The right to the free transfer of land according to the laws of the country.

4. The right to transmit land by inheritance.

These individual rights do not include any right to:

1. Use land in a manner contrary to the common good of all, e.g. in such a manner as to destroy or impair the common heritage.

2. Appropriate what economists call the Economic Rent of land.

The Economic Rent is the annual value attaching to the land alone, apart from any improvements thereon created by labour. This value is created by the existence of and the functioning of the whole community wherein the individual lives, and is in justice the property of the community. To allow this value to be appropriated by individuals enables land to be used not only for the production of goods and services, but also as an instrument of oppression leading to the gravest social consequences that are everywhere evident.

All people have natural and equal rights in land. Those rights may be exercised in two ways:

1. By holding land as individuals and/or

2. Sharing in the common use of the economic rent of land.

This community created economic rent (the annual value of land) can be collected for the use of the community by the same machinery as that by which taxes are now collected. This is what we mean by the policy of Land Value Taxation. Were this community-created land value collected by the community, taxation that now penalises industry, thrift and enterprise and stifles production could be abolished for the benefit of all.

We assert that the exercise of both common and individual rights in land is essential to society based on justice. But the rights of individuals in natural resources are limited by the just rights of the community. Those who begin by denying the existence of common rights in land end by creating a condition of society wherein the exercise of individual rights becomes impossible for the great mass of the people.


This statement is a concise declaration of Georgist philosophy, following quite closely the thought of Henry George himself as articulated in his speeches and writings. As such it shows both the strengths and weaknesses of that philosophy. The main strength and the central concept is the statement of natural and equal rights in land; and the social collection of economic rent to achieve in a practical and efficient manner justice and equality with respect to land and natural resources.

The weaknesses are characteristic of George: an emphasis on the abolition of tariffs, in my opinion a minor matter which has served as a distraction for the movement; the concept that the rent would consist of the entirety of public revenue ('single tax') - a utopian concept that may not be practically achievable but if not achieved does not diminish the main thrust of the proposal; the utopian concept that the single tax alone would abolish poverty and unemployment - one might hope it would make a substantial contribution but if it does not the validity of the concept is not thereby nullified; the rejection of tariffs or imposts on certain goods for social reasons, eg, drugs; the rejection of public borrowing, even for social infrastructure projects; and the lack of appreciation of the existence of monopoly rents in other industries, eg, broadcasting spectrum, software patents etc - although George could hardly be faulted for not foreseeing such developments. And of course the environmental insights need extensive development.

The principal failing of the Georgist movement, in my opinion, has been the failure to embed the valid ethical and economic insights into the progressive/left political mainstream. Instead for the longest time the movement has been attracted to a fallacious notion that, politically speaking, the reform is 'neither left nor right'. (not to mention the obvious tactical error of mongering the single tax as a panacea). A consequence has been that the left has come to be dominated by either socialism and/or Marxism, with georgist insights left by the wayside. The future of Georgism can only be in synergistic alliance with progressive, liberal, left, peace, antiwar, non-violent, socialist, anarchist and environmentalist movements.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Al Gore speech: Stirring speech by Al Gore making many damning points against the Bush administration. Its interesting to note that in the modern American electoral system it seems that no such speech or eloquence could be made by a Presidential candidate, whether John Kerry or Gore himself were he running again. Kerry has been on the campaign trail for a long time now (more than a year?) but I cant recall a single comment or speech that he has made that is of any real interest.

It's official: property prices on the slide: "House prices have been falling across Australia in the first three months of the year. Australian Property Monitors figures published yesterday showed the median Sydney house price slipped 7.5 per cent from $497,500 to $460,000 in the March quarter. In Melbourne, they slumped 12.9 per cent from $310,000 to $270,000.... Home unit prices dropped by 4.5 per cent in Sydney's central business district, from $430,000 to $410,000, and by 2.7 per cent in the metropolitan area as a whole. Corresponding falls in Melbourne were 7.5 per cent and 8.7 per cent.... "With prices escalating 30 per cent a year for the last few years, it was an unsustainable price cycle and you could see that in Sydney and Melbourne last year," [Dale] said."

Human rights watchdog slams Australia and allies: "Amnesty International has launched a scathing attack on Australia and its allies, accusing them of sacrificing human rights in a blind pursuit of security. The human rights watchdog warned the failure to protect people's rights was a dangerous concession to terrorists.

"Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan said violence by terrorists and violations by governments had combined to produce the most sustained attack on human rights and humanitarian law in 50 years. She blamed United States President George Bush and the coalition of the willing, of which Australia is a part, for encouraging a new wave of human rights abuses. She said the principles of international law, which could protect citizens from terrorist attacks were being undermined, marginalised and destroyed by powerful governments.

"'Governments are losing their moral compass, sacrificing the global values of human rights in a blind pursuit of principle,' she said at the launch of Amnesty International's annual assessment on human rights in London.

"'The global security agenda promoted by the US Administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle. Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad, and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom and made the world a more dangerous place.'"

Why Ashcroft Must Go- by Justin Raimondo: "The attorney general of the United States has been on a witch-hunt since 9/11, and what I want to know is how many others are being held, without charges, without the possibility of defending themselves, and without anyone either knowing or caring? How many swept up in the anti-Muslim anti-Arab pogrom launched by Ashcroft in the wake of 9/11 – on the basis of similarly weighty "evidence" – are being held even now?

"Using the excuse of "fighting terrorism," Ashcroft and his apologists have sought to shut down the Constitution, demolish the Bill of Rights, and set up what can only be described as a police state. Although they already had the legal tools – and more than enough clues – to track down Mohammed Atta and his friends and put them out of business, Ashcroft's gang seized the opportunity presented by the worst terrorist attack in American history to breach the walls of constitutional government and ram the "PATRIOT" Act through a disoriented and totally intimidated Congress."

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Al-Qaeda Boosted By Iraq War, Warns Think-Tank: "The US-led war on Iraq, far from countering terrorism, has helped revitalise the Al-Qaeda terror network, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank warned. The London-based body said in its annual Strategic Survey 2003/2004 that the deadly train bombings in Madrid in March, the worst terror strike in Europe for more than a decade, showed that Osama Bin Laden's terror network 'had fully reconstituted'.

"It also predicted the Islamic group would step up its anti-Western attacks, possibly even resorting to weapons of mass destruction and targeting Americans, Europeans and Israelis while continuing to support insurgents opposing the US-led occupation of Iraq. The IISS pointed to devastating blasts in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in 2003 and 2004 as further evidence that anti-US sentiment had soared since the Iraq war.

"'In counter-terrorism terms, the intervention has arguably focused the energies and resources of al-Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counter-terrorism coalition that appeared so formidable following the Afghanistan intervention in late 2001,' the report said."

Countless experts and officials have reiterated the same concern, that the war on Iraq will increase the risk of terrorism, and yet the governments of Bush, Blair and Howard can continue to describe their invasion of Iraq as a 'war on terrror' without being howled down and thrown out of office.

Neocons Go Macho on Iraq - by Jim Lobe: "Thus, shortly after the war in Afghanistan, neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, exulted, 'Power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the region is now one of fear and deep respect for American power.'"

Sounds very much like something Hitler would have said. But the Iraq war is a disaster, the occupation a fiasco. The 'foreign fighters' and 'neocon dead-enders' in Iraq need to realise the game is up and pull out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Insurgency in Washington: Washington Green zone under mortar fire: "Why have the newspapers and TV news opened the floodgates this way on the spreading Abu Ghraib scandal? There's a question to ask yourself as you slog through daily four-page sections of news about the latest photos, the latest charges, the latest ramifications. Where there was next to nothing, now there's complete glut (if not pattern) – and that seems a rather familiar pattern in itself. You could, of course, say that the photos did it, but that hardly seems sufficient. In its coverage, the press is generally agreeable to moving either to the edge of where the mainstream of the oppositional party is willing to go or to wherever intra-bureaucratic and intra-governmental in-fighting will allow it to take cover. In this case, the mainstream of the Democratic Party remains largely nowhere at all. Insurgent Republicans in Congress -- John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Richard Lugar, to name but three -- have been doing much of the heavy lifting lately.

"When it comes to infighting, however, that's quite another matter. After three years of muttering and misery, it looks like a near insurgency has broken out in various parts of the government previously swept aside by this administration, including the military itself, and the press is feeding off it -- starting with the striking New Yorker pieces by Seymour Hersh that forced the Abu Ghraib scandal into the open.

"Tom Lewis, a former New York State speechwriter, politico, and generally smart guy sent the following summary of the present situation out to his own private e-list:

"'Hersh's [most recent New Yorker] piece is a drive-by [shooting] on [Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld sourced by the Agency [the CIA] and this stuff is starting to stick. The Agency would not take on Rumsfeld so openly if they weren't talking to their allies in Congress. Tenet comes from the Congress. The Republicans in Congress are getting very nervous. They're hearing from their constituents and local Republicans who are saying, 'Shut this thing down, it's going to kill us in November.' Some of the House and Senate races the RNC [Republican National Committee] thought were a lock are starting to loosen up. Two of the five seats DeLay stole from the Democrats in Texas are now in play. Kerry is working to co-opt Nader. Buckle up.'"

Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.) Remarks at CDI Board of Directors Dinner, May 12, 2004: Address by Zinni on the tremendous mistakes of the Iraq war. Question and answer session.

Lovelock calls for nuclear power: "Global warming is now advancing so swiftly that only a massive expansion of nuclear power as the world's main energy source can prevent it overwhelming civilisation, the scientist and celebrated Green guru, James Lovelock, says. His call will cause huge disquiet for the environmental movement. It has long considered the 84-year-old radical thinker among its greatest heroes, and sees climate change as the most important issue facing the world, but it has always regarded opposition to nuclear power as an article of faith. Last night the leaders of both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth rejected his call."

"He now believes recent climatic events have shown the warming of the atmosphere is proceeding even more rapidly than the scientists of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) thought it would, in their last report in 2001. On that basis, he says, there is simply not enough time for renewable energy, such as wind, wave and solar power - the favoured solution of the Green movement - to take the place of the coal, gas and oil-fired power stations whose waste gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), is causing the atmosphere to warm.... These are ominous warning signs, he says, that climate change is speeding, but many people are still in ignorance of this. Important among the reasons is "the denial of climate change in the US, where governments have failed to give their climate scientists the support they needed"."

""Lovelock is right to demand a drastic response to climate change," Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said last night. "He's right to question previous assumptions. "But he's wrong to think nuclear power is any part of the answer. Nuclear creates enormous problems, waste we don't know what to do with; radioactive emissions; unavoidable risk of accident and terrorist attack." Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "Climate change and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have a moral duty to minimise the effects of both, not to choose between them.""

Iraq war disaster: bitter infighting among US elite: "Opportunities for revenge are coming thick and fast. The failure to predict and plan for an aggressive Iraqi insurgency following the fall of Saddam, and the horror of the Abu Ghraib prison photographs, have already tarnished the standing in the White House of the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his senior aides. The Chalabi raid is another blow and another cue for Mr Rumsfeld's enemies to go on the attack.... the Pentagon was not even consulted by the top US civilian in Iraq, Mr Bremer, before last week's raid on the home of its former protege, although a meeting was held involving both State Department officials and the National Security Council. Earlier in the week, Mr Rumsfeld had seemed unaware that INC funding of $335,000 per month from Congress was to be cut off."

"The prisoner abuse scandal is a disaster for Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and co, because few people believe we're just talking about military police carrying this out. It must go further up, and Seymour Hersh's investigations (in the New Yorker) are demonstrating that. Military intelligence officers were involved.... Infighting over Iraq within the Bush administration and on Capitol Hill has reached such a pitch and ferocity that, according to one official within the Coalition Provisional Authority, Washington DC is now referred to as "Sunni Triangle, West"."

"The Abu Ghraib prison scandal, in the minds of many Bush administration officials and formerly sympathetic congressmen, has all but destroyed the possibility of a happy ending to the American occupation of Iraq. According to one retired general: "We've gone from 'failure is not an option' to failure, of some kind, being the only option." ... From the State Department in Foggy Bottom, to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, lengthy briefings are being granted. Rivals, particularly if they work at the Pentagon, are being ruthlessly disparaged. For three weeks anonymous officials from the CIA have filled the pages of the New Yorker with detailed observations of extreme interrogation procedures endorsed by senior civilians at the Department of Defence. It was this gung-ho approach, post-September 11, they argue, that led eventually to the horrors of Abu Ghraib."

"According to the intelligence officers cited by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, a secret unit - the special access programme - was then set up to operate in Afghanistan, by-passing the Geneva Conventions when in pursuit of "high-value" targets and interrogating al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. A former intelligence officer suggests that 200 officials were "completely read into the programme" including Mr Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The senior leadership of the CIA, said the intelligence officer quoted, began to object when "special access programme" (SAP) methods, including nudity, "stress positions" and forms of humiliation, were transferred from Afghanistan to Iraq and the Abu Ghraib."

In other words, it is not the media that has exposed the Administration and done it quite likely fatal damage, it is the US elite. The situation is comparable to the Nixon era. Nixon could be guilty of all manner of crimes, but a disciplined media could cover for him as long as necessary. If, however, he oversteps the line and loses the confidence of the US elite, then he can be destroyed. It appears as though the State Department, the military, the CIA and sections of the corporate media, apprehending the magnitude of the Iraq disaster, are determined to sheet home the blame to the neo-conservative clique that is responsible. One wonders how Bush and the neo-cons can survive this kind of assault.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Palestinian non-violent movement growing: "Firing on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators with tank shells and helicopter gunships was such an outrage that it finally caught the attention of a jaded and cynical world. But the Israeli military has been responding to nonviolent demonstrations with extreme violence consistently throughout the past months, when an upsurge of civil resistance has arisen in the West Bank. This growing nonviolent movement is focused against the so-called 'security' wall that the military is building, which winds its way deep into Palestinian territory, confiscating farmland without compensation, scarring the green hills, uprooting ancient olive trees, and destroying the very communities who have historically had the most peaceful relationships with their Israeli neighbors."

Gen. Zinni: 'They've Screwed Up': "“There has been poor strategic thinking in this,” says Zinni. “There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure.... In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption.”"

""[Bremer] has made mistake after mistake after mistake.... Disbanding the army,” says Zinni. “De-Baathifying, down to a level where we removed people that were competent and didn’t have blood on their hands that you needed in the aftermath of reconstruction – alienating certain elements of that society.”

"Zinni believes [neo-conservatives] are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq. “I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody - everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,” says Zinni."

* Zinni could have added that everybody in the world knows who these people are and what their agenda is. The neo-conservative clique, their ideology and membership, their takeover of the Whitehouse - all this was fully exposed before the war even started.

"“And what we have become now in the United States, how we're viewed in this region is not an entity that's promising positive change. We are now being viewed as the modern crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this part of the world.”"

Friday, May 21, 2004

Howard government and mandatory detention of children: "The most important conclusion of A last resort? is that between 1999 and 2003 the Howard Government treated asylum-seeker children in 'a cruel, inhuman and degrading way'. It is a radical conclusion from a conservative Human Rights Commission. By the time the conclusion is reached, the evidence that has been presented is simply so overwhelming that no balanced reader is likely to doubt its truth."

Feith's 'Gestapo Office': "Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner that he is seeking testimony in the coming weeks from Feith may have unwittingly cast new light on the reasons why Secretary of State Colin Powell is alleged by Woodward to have referred to Feith's operation as the ''Gestapo Office.'" GI Sabrina Harmon grins over the body of beaten to death Iraqi Manadel al-Jamadi.

"Evidence of Feith's involvement in the prisoner abuse scandal rests primarily on reports that have appeared in Newsweek, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. They have reported that, even before the Iraq War, top officials in the Pentagon, acting on the advice of civilian lawyers, authorized a reinterpretation of the Geneva Conventions to permit tougher methods of interrogation of prisoners of war (POWs).

"This effort was strongly resisted by Powell, a retired army general, when it came to his attention, and by the Judge Advocates Generals (JAG) Corps, the formal name given to the military's lawyers. They argued, among other things, that the introduction of ''stress and duress'' techniques, sleep deprivation and other methods that violate the Conventions would not only result in dubious intelligence, but could also be cited as a precedent for use against U.S. soldiers who fell into enemy hands."

Genuine sovereignty and self-determination in Iraq: "What can the United States do to dampen the insurgency and avoid a potential civil war? Something that the Bush administration and the Washington foreign policy establishment have avoided like the plague: rapid U.S. troop withdrawal and genuine and complete self-determination for Iraqis."

But if the troops withdraw and Iraqis have self-determination over their own government and natural resources, then what would have been the point of the invasion? This is why genuine self-determination and sovereignty cannot occur. Either the US retains effective military and political control of a puppet government in Iraq or else it is forced into a disorderly retreat.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw: Idiotic comments: "On May 17, the head of the Iraqi 'Governing Council,' a front group for the US which governs nothing, was assassinated. The UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said: 'What this shows is the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are trying to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from the occupiers to the Iraqi people and that these are enemies of Iraqi people themselves.'

"Foreign secretaries have been known to issue idiotic statements, but Straw's remark is a '10' on the scale of the all-time stupidest. What the assassination shows is that Iraqis are not going to permit the US and the UK to impose a puppet government. Whoever we install will be assassinated."

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Army, CIA want torture truths exposed: "Even worse for Rumsfeld and his coterie of neo-conservative true believers who have run the Pentagon for the past 3½ years, three major institutions in the Washington power structure have decided that after almost a full presidential term of being treated with contempt and abuse by them, it's payback time. Those three institutions are: The United States Army, the Central Intelligence Agency and the old, relatively moderate but highly experienced Republican leadership in the United States Senate.... Rumsfeld and his team of top lieutenants have therefore now lost the confidence, trust and respect of both the Army and intelligence establishments. Key elements of the political establishment even of the ruling GOP now recognize this. Yet Rumsfeld and his lieutenants remain determined to hang on to power, and so far President Bush has shown every sign of wanting to keep them there."

Blair bashing: "Hopefully this low-grade and wretched man will be out of Downing Street before long, because many of his party are starting to feel the moral humiliation that already grips the rest of us. The most sordid moment yet of Tony Blair’s increasingly despicable premiership came two weeks ago when, in a response to Sir Peter Tapsell at Prime Minister’s Questions, he defended the murder of hundreds of innocents in Fallujah. It was a deadly moment this, an apotheosis: the final fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s policy of complete identification, come what may, with the United States. Tony Blair’s dedication to George Bush is so total that he will follow the President into any killing field or torture chamber."

"All students of his life have noted his way of attaching himself to more cogent individuals — Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, etc. — as a method of personal self-affirmation. Blair cannot survive without such a crutch, as the government’s listless, drifting ineptitude since the departure of Campbell nine months ago demonstrates.... His policy as Prime Minister is best summed up like this: he is the partygoer who automatically sucks up to the most powerful man in the room.... Another of the mysteries surrounding the terrible and tragic events of the last 15 months is how the Labour party has tolerated Blair. It was led into war on the back of a monstrous lie about weapons of mass destruction (last week Tony Blair made John Scarlett, one of the primary perpetrators of that deception, head of the Secret Intelligence Service) and yet seems not to resent it. This is the most maladroit as well as malign intervention of modern times, and yet there has scarcely been a word of complaint from the party of Keir Hardie, of Aneurin Bevan, of Michael Foot. There is a disconnection here, a most peculiar inability to grasp or confront reality."

"Gordon Brown is seen everywhere as the successor. And yet it should not be forgotten that the Chancellor — like Michael Howard’s Tory party — supported the war as well as its disgusting aftermath. There are only two politicians in Britain today with the moral right to take the premiership from Tony Blair. One is the Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, who lacks the capacity to do the job, and the other is Robin Cook. Cook’s resignation on the eve of the war was the most noble and distinguished act of its kind since Duff Cooper quit as First Lord of the Admiralty over Munich. The quality of Cook’s decision then has been matched only by the calibre of his conduct since. Realistically one must accept that Gordon Brown will succeed Tony Blair. But only Cook has the stature and the vision to lead Britain away from America, and out of the sewer into which Tony Blair has led us."

ex-Marine interview: Atrocities in Iraq: 'I killed innocent people for our government's lie': "Q: What does the public need to know about your experiences as a Marine?

A: The cause of the Iraqi revolt against the American occupation. What they need to know is we killed a lot of innocent people.... I was in charge of a platoon that consists of machine gunners and missile men. Our job was to go into certain areas of the towns and secure the roadways. There was this one particular incident - and there's many more - the one that really pushed me over the edge. It involved a car with Iraqi civilians."

"Depleted uranium. I know what it does. It's basically like leaving plutonium rods around. I'm 32 years old. I have 80 percent of my lung capacity. I ache all the time. I don't feel like a healthy 32-year-old.

Q: Were you in the vicinity of of depleted uranium?

A: Oh, yeah. It's everywhere. DU is everywhere on the battlefield. If you hit a tank, there's dust.

Q: Did you breath any dust?

A: Yeah.

Q: And if DU is affecting you or our troops, it's impacting Iraqi civilians.

A: Oh, yeah. They got a big wasteland problem.

Q: Do Marines have any precautions about dealing with DU?

A: Not that I know of. Well, if a tank gets hit, crews are detained for a little while to make sure there are no signs or symptoms. American tanks have depleted uranium on the sides, and the projectiles have DU in them. If an enemy vehicle gets hit, the area gets contaminated. Dead rounds are in the ground. The civilian populace is just now starting to learn about it. Hell, I didn't even know about DU until two years ago. You know how I found out about it? I read an article in Rolling Stone magazine. I just started inquiring about it, and I said "Holy s---!"

"Q: Your feelings changed during the invasion. What was your state of mind before the invasion?

A: I was like every other troop. My president told me they got weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam threatened the free world, that he had all this might and could reach us anywhere. I just bought into the whole thing.

Q: What changed you?

A: The civilian casualties taking place. That was what made the difference. That was when I changed.

Q: Did the revelations that the government fabricated the evidence for war affect the troops?

A: Yes. I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it."

Murdoch: Cheap oil the prize: "Rupert Murdoch has given his full backing to war, praising George Bush as acting 'morally' and 'correctly' and describing Tony Blair as 'full of guts' for going out on a limb in his support for an attack on Iraq.... He said the price of oil would be one of the war's main benefits. "The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country.""

The nature of the corporate media as a propaganda instrument is that the boss will say openly as in this pre-war pronouncement what the purpose or benefit of the war is, but his media outlets around the world will not mention it or deny the oil motive as a 'conspiracy theory'. The fact that oil has now reached $40 a barrel (rather than $20) is also a crude measure of the extent of the failure of the war.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Hezbollah tactics in Gaza?: "Afterwards, Palestinian militants engaged in numerous attacks on Israeli soldiers, which have killed 13 soldiers... Israel's top brass are concerned that Palestinian militants may have adopted Hizbollah tactics in their latest ambushes in Gaza. What this means is clear. After a brief initial period, Hizbollah basically settled down to the following tactics: concentrate their attacks on the military, with attacks on civilians essentially confined to "reprisals" for Israeli killing of civilians... As one person who has spent time in Palestine said to me when I asked her about the political effectiveness of the Hamas/al-Aqsa Martyrs' strategy of blowing up buses, restaurants, hotels, etc. (it is clearly immoral and illegal, but immoral and illegal actions are often effective), "When you attack soldiers, people call for withdrawing the soldiers. When you attack civilians, people call for sending in more soldiers to protect them."

Interview with Israeli Historian Avi Shlaim: "I am deeply pessimistic about the future precisely because there is no hope either from the Left or from the pragmatic Right. The Labor Party is in complete disarray and does not offer a coherent alternative to the policies of the Likud government.... [the] Mufti muffed it! Yasser Arafat is not a great statesman either. The Palestinians have been most unfortunate in having a good cause, but incompetent leaders.... Israel is a fact, and you do not redress one wrong by committing another wrong. The only realistic solution is not absolute justice, but relative justice and that means the partition of Palestine. After 1967 there was a real opportunity for the partition of Palestine and Israel rejected in favour of creeping annexation. In a word, I would describe myself as a Post-Zionist: Zionism had achieved its basic objective by 1967 and now the occupation should be ended so both Israelis and Palestinians can get on with their lives."

"The only fair settlement is a negotiated settlement leading to an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza with minor territorial adjustments. In other words, it would have to be a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state alongside Israel.... The settlements are a cancer and have poisoned Israeli-Palestinian relations.... Labor was much more guilty than the Likud in this respect in the decade after Oslo. The greatest increase in settlement activity occurred under Ehud Barak. Now the chickens have come home to roost as Israel is so entrenched with settlements on the West Bank, it is very difficult to roll back the occupation. The settlements were a tragic mistake."

"Sharon’s policy is to avoid negotiation or compromise with the Palestinians.... He has his own agenda for Greater Israel and he is trying to impose it by force on the Palestinians. As you note, Sharon does not want a ceasefire with Hamas. Every time he assassinates a Hamas leader, he knowingly provokes retaliation which invariably takes the form of another suicide bombing. A continual low level of violence keeps Sharon in power. As the leading Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling explains in his book Politicide, Sharon’s basic aim is to deny the Palestinians an independent political existence in Palestine. His vision is to annex de facto half the West Bank, to redraw unilaterally the borders of Israel, and to leave a few isolated enclaves for Palestinian rule. That would certainly not be a viable Palestinian state. You can call this a success.

"But in the long term, Sharon’s project is doomed to failure because the Palestinians will continue their struggle, and the economic, political, and psychological price will become unsustainable for the Israeli public. In the meantime Sharon is destroying both societies. This is not my idea of a successful policy.... Sharon is the enactment of the most exclusive, aggressive, and xenophobic aspects of Zionist ideology. There is growing hostility towards Israel, and by extension towards Jews everywhere as a direct result of the relentless war he is waging against the Palestinian people. Israelis have always tried to silence criticism by claiming that the motives behind it are anti-semitism. But in most cases it is fair- minded people who see the suffering of the Palestinians, and their sympathy is naturally on their side as the underdog. Sympathy for the Palestinians is not evidence of anti-semitism."

When the last oil well runs dry: "Just as certain as death and taxes is the knowledge that we shall one day be forced to learn to live without oil. Exactly when that day will dawn nobody knows, but people in middle age today can probably expect to be here for it."

"Drastic change could be necessary soon after 2030. And it would be drastic: 90% of the world's transport depends on oil, for a start. Most of the chemical and plastic trappings of life which we scarcely notice - furniture, pharmaceuticals, communications - need oil as a feedstock. The real pessimists want us to stop using oil for transport immediately and keep it for irreplaceable purposes like these."

""If I'm right [said Matthew Simmons, a former adviser to President Bush's administration], the unforeseen consequences are devastating... If the world's oil supply does peak, the world's issues start to look very different. There really aren't any good energy solutions for bridges, to buy some time, from oil and gas to the alternatives. The only alternative right now is to shrink our economies.""

Seymour Hersh: Rumsfeld approved programme of sexual humiliation: "The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.

"According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A."

Colin Campbell explains oil depletion and peak oil: "Understanding depletion is simple. Think of an Irish pub. The glass starts full and ends empty. There are only so many more drinks to closing time. It’s the same with oil. We have to find the bar before we can drink what’s in it."

In other words its running out folks and that spells trouble. So instead of having peak oil and the likely projections and consequences explained and discussed nightly on the news, we have the puerile trash of 'finance news', which follows the equally offensive and puerile trash of 'political news' where lying and criminal politicians claim that the motives of invading Iraq were (or at least now) are to find WMDs, war against terrorism, or 'build democracy', instead of the obvious motive of seizing control of the world's largest remaining energy reserves.

A Pointless Quest: Bush's Mission to Europe - by Christopher Deliso: "The Cardinal expressed some ambivalence on [Bush's] decision [to meet the pope]. "…If ever there were a difficult time to ask for an audience with the pope it is now," he said, and proceeded to recite a litany of quite pointed complaints:

"…Referring to revelations this month of torture and humiliating mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers, the cardinal asked 'how is it possible to remain in Iraq if these abuses continue?' … The cardinal said he also expected the pope to tell Bush that his policies in the Middle East in general were not helping the cause of peace.

"'We must above all build cultural understanding between peoples and I do not believe that our American friends are doing that,' he said. 'Bombing mosques, going into holy places, putting women soldiers in contact with naked men shows a lack of understanding of the Muslim world which I can only call surprising,' he said.

"'We must build bridges with Islam, not dig trenches between us,' he went on. 'And we must give top priority to the Israeli-Palestinian question, which is the root cause of terrorism.' The pope would tell Bush that 'the fight against terrorism must not be purely repressive and punitive but must also proceed from the elimination of its causes, which are rooted in injustice.'

"If ever there was an utter and complete repudiation of Bush's foreign policy, it was this: ... criticizing the US occupation of Iraq, its military tactics, America' favoring of Israel, and the entire rationale on which Bush's war on terror is being justified."

Dick Cheney and Peak Oil: Excerpts from a 1999 Cheney speech (since removed from the web) seem to illustrate Cheney was aware of peak oil and are remarkably frank in describing the motives of the First Gulf war (and likely subsequent wars).

Oils ain't just oils, they're to die for - Margo Kingston: "Most Europeans have never been in doubt that Iraq is an oil war. As the latest ludicrous excuse for the war lies in ruins - that it is a selfless American crusade to civilise the Middle East - perhaps we can finally start to think about the real issues and what our 'leaders' are doing about them in our name.... Cheney's war plan to put Iraq's oil in the hands of American companies was counterproductive - the mind bogglingly incompetent Anglo imperial war now threatens to drive US business out of the Middle East altogether.

"At a conference on oil depletion in Berlin this year, Colin Campbell, a world-renowned geologist and founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, said: "There are vested interests on all sides hoping somehow to evade the grip of oil depletion, or at least to put it off until after the next election or until they can develop some strategy for their personal or corporate survival. As the moment of truth approaches, so does the heat, the deceptions, the half truth and the flat lies." The biggest of the flat lies so far is the Iraq war, where Bush was prepared to increase recruitment to terrorist organisations and increase the risk of terrorist attacks to secure oil."

"What to do? Enslave the people of oil-producing nations to keep living how we live and abandon our values for the purpose? Have a world war? That's where we're heading. How about spending our money not on oil wars, which make the world a much more dangerous place for ordinary people, but on a war against the need for so much oil? How about spending billions on alternative energy? How about telling citizens the truth about the realities we face, and bring us in on the conversation of how we might be prepared to change our lifestyle and the way our cities are organised to meet the threat through peace, not war?

"You know how much the Australian Government spent in the budget to promote renewal energy research? Nothing, effectively. More incentives for oil exploration, of course, but it hasn't even spent the small amounts it had already allocated for greenhouse abatement to stop our world warming up - partly due to our over-reliance on oil. And shouldn't we be spending billions on city and country trains, not more road tunnels? The world can descend into hell to fight over oil, or we can start now in reducing our reliance on it. We can live in peace with less oil, or we can die in war to try to maintain our lifestyle for a little while longer at the expense of our core values."

Friday, May 14, 2004

The Agonist: Bloggers doubt Berg execution video: "Even at first glance, internet bloggers were asking on Thursday why Nick Berg was wearing an orange jumpsuit – just like US prisoners wear. Other net-surfers point to the unlikely timing of the executioner's dubbed announcement that Berg was to die for "Iraqi prisoner abuse".... Some discussions focus on the timing of the video's release - guaranteed to divert attention from the outrage regarding US torture of Iraqis."

"However, the circumstances of the video release are also strange. A Reuters journalist in Dubai first named the Muntada al-Ansar al-Islami website as the source for the video – at Although the site has now been shut down, had looked at the site within ninety minutes of the story breaking – and could find no such video footage. But Fox News, CNN and the BBC were all able to download the footage from the Arabic-only website and report the story within the hour."

The questions are legitimate, and the matter is worthy of investigation. This incident shows how the footage, although revolting, must be made available for critical examination. Any agency - government, military or media - which suggests that the footage ought be withheld, can only be contributing to a possible coverup. The same of course applies for any other evidence of crimes. In other words no authority could possibly be trusted and the public (ie, 'blogosphere'?) must have access to all sources and evidence.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Kurt Vonnegut: Cold Turkey: "Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on."

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Chomsky: Iraq occupation an astonishing failure: Why?: "The best explanation I've heard was given by a high-ranking official of one of the leading NGOs, who's had plenty of experience in some of the worst places in the world (can't identify him). I spoke to him on his (brief) return from several extremely frustrating months in Baghdad trying to get hospitals up and running. He said he had never seen such a combination of "arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence" -- referring not to the military, but to the civilians in charge: Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Cheney.. -- a weird collection of fanatics.... The latest in-depth poll (Gallup-CNN) a couple of days ago found that among Iraqi Arabs (the great majority; Kurds have their own aspirations), the proportion of those who regard the US as an "occupying" rather than "liberating force is well over 10 to 1. That's probably higher than one would have found in France or Norway under German occupation."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Unjust detentions were no mistake: "We must challenge the lies currently being peddled about 'bad apples,' 'wrongdoing of a few,' and 'mistakes.' The evidence is there. Those of us who rightly opposed the invasion and subsequent maltreatment of Iraqis and disgusting behavior of the occupation troops must oppose the substitution of an altered and propagandistic version of history for the truth we've repeatedly documented."

John Dean: Bush worse than Nixon: "He believes that the Bush Administration has so ruthlessly exploited the September 11 tragedy that, in the event of another deadly terrorist attack on American soil, 'Bush and Cheney will simply push aside the Constitution they have sworn to uphold, inflame public passions with tough talk . . . and take this country to a place it has only been once. For 11 weeks during the onset of the Civil War, president Lincoln became what scholars have euphemistically called 'a constitutional dictator'.'"

Dean thus joins Tommy Franks in warning how close America is to an end to constitutional liberal democracy and the establishment of a dictatorship.

The Misunderestimated Man - How Bush chose stupidity. By Jacob Weisberg: An essay on Bush's stupidity. Also has links to many examples of his incoherent speech.

Rights Groups Demand That U.S. Open All Detention Facilities: "'Torture flourishes in the dark,' said Kenneth Roth, HRW's executive director in New York. 'If the Bush administration really wants to put a stop to torture in U.S. detention facilities, it has to open them up to outside scrutiny.' The two groups, whose repeated requests to investigate reports of abuse were rejected or ignored by the U.S. administration for the past two years, are also urging the administration to ban 'stress and duress' interrogation techniques, such as extended sleep deprivation, forced standing or nakedness, or binding detainees in painful positions."

Friday, May 07, 2004

Richard Clarke interview: Damning interview with former Whitehouse Counter-terror chief Richard Clarke that tells the story of modern times: Wolfowitz was a 'kook' who believed what he wanted to believe (ie, that Saddam was behind 9/11 in spite of the fact there was no evidence); on September 12 2001 "Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try "to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq""; the neocons were planning to invade Iraq before they came into office; Bush is 'not a big reader' who is deliberately kept in the dark by the sinister clique that surrounds and manipulates him; the rationale for the war (WMDs) was a pretext and shifted as circumstances demanded; the war in Iraq has made the rest of the world, particularly the Western world, more vulnerable to terrorism; "the war in Iraq has greatly strengthened the Jihadist movement at a time when we should have been weakening the Jihadist move.""

It is glaringly obvious that what Clarke says is true but the Bush regime still has a real chance of re-election.

Dirty Pictures, Dirty War: Doing your Own Thing in Abu Ghraib: "The internal report by Major General Antonio Taguba makes it clear, in fact, that no one was assuming responsibility. In page after page, he stressed that this was an institutional — not isolated — problem. Sy Hersh, interviewed by Charlie Rose, said the abuses started early and went on and on unchecked. Hersh surmised that if the Pentagon hadn’t learned a couple of weeks ago that the abuse pictures were about to become public, very little if any of the conditions at the prison would have changed."

US occupation of Iraq to continue: "The Pentagon announced yesterday that it was scrapping a plan to reduce American forces in Iraq and instead would keep about 135,000 U.S. troops there through the end of next year."

The plan is the same as ever. To dominate Iraq militarily for the indefinite future. We're looking at a planned occupation of years at least and perhaps a decade or more. If the resistance continues to fight we are looking at an awful lot of bloodshed. A key difference between Iraq and Vietnam is the energy reserves of the Middle East. Vietnam had nothing, but Iraq and the region has everything. Just as Middle east oil is a "stupendous source of strategic power", "the greatest material prize in world history", it would be a stupendous strategic defeat for the US to be thrown out of Iraq by indigenous resistance. US planners clearly have no intention of letting this happen.

Iraq Prisoner Abuses Widespread, Rights Groups Say: "In some isolated cases the abuse was much worse, they say, with detainees sodomized or sexually assaulted in ways similar to the pictures of abuse that have emerged over the past week.... The U.S. military estimates it has detained around 40,000 Iraqis since taking over the country last year, although most have been released. Around 10,000 remain in custody.... Vriesinga said his organization had taken depositions from Iraqis who said they had been stripped, made to pull their buttocks apart and been kicked in the rectum. In other instances he said female soldiers had detained Iraqis at checkpoints and forced them to expose themselves and simulate fellatio.... Amnesty International has said repeatedly over the past year that U.S. soldiers were abusing detainees, first calling for an investigation last July."

Pentagon Forced to Withdraw Leaflet Linking Aid to Information on Taliban: "The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has distributed leaflets calling on people to provide information on al-Qaida and the Taliban or face losing humanitarian aid. Medécins Sans Frontières, the international medical charity which passed the leaflets to the Guardian, said the threat endangered aid workers. Fourteen aid workers were killed in Afghanistan last year and 11 so far this year. The Taliban claimed responsibility yesterday for the murder of two British security staff and their Afghan translator from the London-based crisis management company Global Risk Strategies"

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Army claims there is more evidence photos were fake: "Senior army figures claimed yesterday they had more evidence to suggest that pictures showing troops 'torturing' an Iraqi prisoner were a hoax.... There have been claims that the photographs were taken by MoD investigators reconstructing allegations of abuse.... Even if the photos turn out to be fake, defence sources said it did not mean the allegations were untrue, pointing out that the unit was already being investigated. "We welcome the inquiry; we want to get to the bottom of this," a source said."

It Looks as if Game is up for Americans in Iraq: "There was no way that U.S. Marines could occupy Fallujah and destroy the local resistance forces without killing thousands of Iraqis, most of them civilians. There was no way that they could ever identify and capture the men who killed and mutilated the "contractors." Besieging the city was an emotional response that made no military or political sense, as they realized about three weeks too late.

""They" may be Paul Bremer's occupation regime in Baghdad, or it may be the micromanagers back in the Pentagon who persistently usurp command functions in Iraq; the inquest that will finally lay the blame for this fatal move will only happen after U.S. troops retreat from Iraq months or years from now.

"But in only one month they have inadvertently succeeded in reviving Iraqi pride and national identity on the basis of a shared anti-Americanism, and given the whole Arab and Muslim world nightly television lessons in how popular resistance can defeat U.S. power. Fallujah has become a no-go zone for American troops, and that is also the likely outcome of the parallel showdown in the holy city of Najaf between American troops and the militia of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Making these deals does less damage to the U.S. position than plowing on with unwinnable confrontations, but the damage has already been very great. The whole Arab world is absorbing the lesson that U.S. military power has its limits -- at the same time as it seethes in fury and humiliation at the brutal abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British forces."

"One picture says it all: A 21-year-old female American soldier grinning cockily at the camera, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, as she points in mockery at a naked male Iraqi prisoner who is being forced to masturbate by his captors. You could not come up with an image better calculated to enrage and alienate Muslim opinion if you hired all the ad agencies in the world.

"So the entire U.S. neoconservative adventure in the Middle East, never very plausible, is now doomed, though it will drag on in a broken-backed way for some time to come. Even the option of handing Iraq over to the United Nations and replacing American troops there with Muslim troops under U.N. command, still viable a month ago, will soon be foreclosed unless U.N. officials take a firmer stand against the occupation regime. It is going to get very messy."

Seymour Hersh: 'Amazing' collapse of Army prison system: "[Army investigator Taguba found] the problems were systemic, endemic throughout the command structure... one of the findings he makes is not only that were the civilians [mercenaries] in charge -- and he makes it clear, as awful and dumb as the kids were, the six or seven kids that are going to be charged for photographing it -- they were not -- they were being directed. They were being told what do and told it was OK."

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Israeli PMs in their own words: "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." - Ben Gurion

"There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" - Ben Gurion

"Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves ... politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves... The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country." - Ben Gurion.

"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist." "This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy." - Golda Meir. Etc, etc.....

A collection of devastating quotes which tell the story as clearly as any telling of the fundamental illegitimacy and immorality of the colonialist/Zionist enterprise. This unrepentant mentality is the root cause of the conflict and the reason why it can never be peacably resolved.

Spain's PM: Iraq Should Serve As Lesson: "Spain's prime minister said Sunday he hopes the deteriorating situation in Iraq will serve as a warning to countries against using preemptive wars in the future. 'The mission in Iraq, which is showing itself every day to be a failure, should serve as a lesson to the international community: preemptive wars, never again; violations of international law, never again,' Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said. Speaking before some 20,000 supporters at a meeting celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Socialist party, Zapatero reiterated that he had ordered Spain's troops home from Iraq April 18, a day after he was sworn in, 'because they should have never been sent there.'"

"Zapatero vowed his government would never break, nor support the violation of, international law in order to fight terrorism. "The real and most efficient fight against terrorism is through the cooperation of all democratic countries, all free countries, in the United Nations (news - web sites) with the cooperation of all and not via unilateral interventions, which only lead to failure," he told the meeting at a bullring on Madrid's outskirts."

The Lesson of the ANZACs: "It was, predictably, used by the Australian Prime Minister John Howard to bolster support for the increasingly unpopular occupation of Iraq. In a move that has done little to silence the popular idea that Howard is merely a crony of George W. Bush, he traveled to Baghdad for the day to greet the troops in a move similar to Bush's own Thanksgiving Day appearance. In his address, the Prime Minister declared:

"'You are seeking to bring to the people of Iraq who have suffered so much for so long, the hope of liberty and the hope of freedom, and your example, your behavior, your values, belong to that great and long tradition that was forged on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915.'

"The idea that an ongoing Australian presence in Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi people can be somehow justified by invoking a World War I battle is both cynical and disingenuous. It ignores the realities of the Gallipoli campaign, which, if they are to hold any lesson, hold that sometimes it is better to "cut and run.""

"Tens of thousands of young men died for one simple reason: the British were not prepared to "cut and run." They remained stubborn and obstinate despite facing what was clearly a battle that could not be won. Far from being an argument for a continued Iraqi occupation, the experience makes a powerful argument against "staying the course" in an increasingly dangerous and hostile land. The lesson of the Anzacs is that when we fight for anything other than our own national interest then the price that must be paid will always be too high."

Monday, May 03, 2004

SHAME OF ABUSE BY BRIT TROOPS: "The prisoner, aged 18-20, begged for mercy as he was battered with rifle butts and batons in the head and groin, was kicked, stamped and urinated on, and had a gun barrel forced into his mouth. After an EIGHT-HOUR ordeal, he was left barely conscious and close to death. Bleeding and vomiting and with a broken jaw and missing teeth, he was driven from a Basra camp and hurled off the truck. No one knows if he lived or died....

"He was missing teeth. All his mouth was bleeding and his nose was all over the place. He couldn't talk, his jaw was out. He's had a good few hours of a kicking. He was on his way to being killed. There's only so much you can take.... Soldier A said: "The lads said they took him back to the dock and threw him off the back of a moving vehicle. They'd have freed his hands, but he'd still be hooded. He'd done nothing, really. I felt sorry for him. I'm not emotional about it, but I knew it was wrong."

"The outrage, which emerged the day after US troops were pictured torturing Iraqi prisoners of war, makes a mockery of the Army's attempts to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.... it is claimed, officers turned a blind eye. One of the soldiers said: "Basically this guy was dying as he couldn't take any more. An officer came down. It was 'Get rid of him - I haven't seen him'. The paperwork gets ripped. So they threw him out, still with a bag on his head."

"A lot of the younger ones are worse. It's as though they've something to prove. You've got a gun and you're the law. You can make people do whatever you want." Both men fear the situation is worsening , with UK troops now seen as the enemy, rather than liberators. One said: "I can't believe it has taken the Iraqis so long to fight back. If it had been me or my family, I'd have retaliated straightaway. "They've just got f****d around so much. You can't go in now, and say 'Right, let's forget about what has happened and start again'. "We're struggling now. There are too many people against us.""

"The shocking pictures on this page were handed to us by one of the attackers and a colleague. We have agreed to protect their identities as they fear reprisals."

More photos of soldiers abusing victims: The whole affair is another astonishing, colossal blow to the war and occupation effort. It seems extraordinary that not only would this abuse occur, but that it would be photographed and allowed to be photographed. This and the successful Fallujah/Al-Sadr resistance is surely the Tet offensive of this war - everyone can now see it is doomed.

Seymour Hersh: Torture at Abu Ghraib - American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?: "In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits."

"In an interview last December with the St. Petersburg Times, [General Karpinski] said that, for many of the Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib, “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned that they wouldn’t want to leave.” ... [Investigator] Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib.... There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.”"

Arabs vent anger at sex abuse of prisoners: "Arab countries have reacted with rage and revulsion after images of US troops abusing Iraqi prisoners were broadcast around the world. The sight of a female soldier taunting a naked male prisoner and scenes of male prisoners allegedly forced into sexual poses with one another 'are playing on the most sensitive things for Arabs', an Arab diplomat in Washington said.

"They offended the region's traditional, conservative attitude toward masculinity and personal modesty and a taboo about homosexuality, said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East specialist who holds the Anwar Sadat chair at the University of Maryland. For America's already poor image in the Arab world, 'it's going to have serious ramifications, reinforcing the fears, resentment and distrust of the United States'. For another Middle East specialist and academic, Mary Jane Deeb, said the danger of this anger was that it could be manipulated by al-Qaeda and by radical Islamists eager to foment hatred towards the US."

Saturday, May 01, 2004

US policy: More Agents Track Castro Than Bin Laden

Mutiny in Iraq: "The last month of inflammatory US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: Waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority are suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts.... And one year in, the US occupation of Iraq does appear doomed on all fronts: political, economic and military. On the political front, the idea that the United States could bring genuine democracy to Iraq is now irredeemably discredited: Too many relatives of Iraqi Governing Council members have landed plum jobs and rigged contracts, too many groups demanding direct elections have been suppressed, too many newspapers have been closed down and too many Arab journalists have been murdered while trying to do their job. The most recent casualties were two employees of Al Iraqiya television, shot dead by US soldiers while filming a checkpoint in Samarra. Ironically, Al Iraqiya is the US-controlled propaganda network that was supposed to weaken the power of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, both of which have also lost reporters to US guns and rockets over the past year."

"As this predictable (and predicted) disaster unfolds, many are turning to the United Nations for help: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on the UN to support his demand for direct elections back in January.... And what has been the UN's response? Worse than silence, it has sided with Washington on all of these critical questions, dashing hopes that it could provide a genuine alternative to the lawlessness and brutality of the US occupation. First it refused to back the call for direct elections, citing security concerns. In retrospect, supporting the call back then might have avoided much of the violence now engulfing the country. After all, the UN's response weakened the more moderate Sistani and strengthened Muqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters continued demanding direct elections and launched a vocal campaign against the US transition plan and the interim constitution. This is what prompted US chief envoy Paul Bremer to decide to take Sadr out, the provocation that sparked the Shiite uprising.

"The UN has proved equally deaf to calls to replace the US military occupation with a peacekeeping operation. On the contrary, it has made it clear that it will only re-enter Iraq if it is the United States that guarantees the safety of its staff--seemingly oblivious to the fact that being surrounded by American bodyguards is the best way to make sure that the UN will be targeted.... The UN's greatest betrayal of all comes in the way it is re-entering Iraq: not as an independent broker but as a glorified US subcontractor, the political arm of the continued US occupation."

"Iraq badly needs the UN as a clear, independent voice in the region. The people are calling out for it, begging the international body to live up to its mandate as peacemaker and truth teller. And yet just when it is needed most, the UN is at its most compromised and cowardly. There is a way that the UN can redeem itself in Iraq. It could choose to join the mutiny, further isolating the United States. This would help force Washington to hand over real power--ultimately to Iraqis but first to a multilateral coalition that did not participate in the invasion and occupation and would have the credibility to oversee direct elections."

Iraqis Poll: Say: 'US Out Now!': "The numbers are negative for the US, and are much more negative than previous such polls. Moreover, the polling ended by April 2, just before the Shiite uprising and the worst of the Fallujah fighting, so that it is highly likely that the present attitudes of the Iraqi public toward the US are much more negative.

"Amazingly, 57% of Iraqis say that US troops should leave Iraq immediately. If one subtracted the Kurds, a much higher percentage of Arabic speaking Iraqis say this. And, they say it with their eyes open. About 57% also admit that life would get harder (i.e. there would be a lot of instability) if the US suddenly withdrew. They want the US gone anyway, and will take their chances. Over half say there are circumstances under which it is all right to attack US troops!"

Depravity as 'Liberation'- by Justin Raimondo: "The Abu Ghraib prison was a symbol of Saddam's horrific tyranny: electrodes hanging out of the walls, floors stained with the blood of god-knows-how-many victims, bodies dangling from meat-hooks, like in some cheap Grade-B horror flick. So when the Americans came and "liberated" the place, the long-suffering Iraqi people were supposed to be grateful. After all, the sadistic torturers of the Ba'athist regime were gone, and it was a new day – or was it?

"Well, not all that new, according to a shocking report broadcast by CBS the other night. 60 Minutes II showed photos taken of American soldiers guarding the prison torturing their charges. The images show the American "liberators" liberating their own perverted libidos, posed next to naked prisoners who were being forced into simulating sex with each other. In one macabre shot, a hooded prisoner stands precariously perched on a pedestal, with electrodes attached to his arms: he is reportedly told that if he falls, he'll be electrocuted. There are several photos in which naked prisoners are stacked in a pyramid, and one with a slur written on his skin in English. Photos in the possession of the military authorities show a prisoner whose genitals are attached to wires. In one, a dog is shown attacking an Iraqi prisoner. The authorities are investigating the account of an Iraqi who alleges that a translator, hired by the Americans to work at Abu Ghraib, raped a male juvenile prisoner:

""They covered all the doors with sheets. I heard the screaming. ...and the female soldier was taking pictures." Included in this photo-montage of Operation Iraqi Freedom is a picture of a badly beaten corpse. "In most of the pictures," Dan Rather reports, "the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up."

"This is how we're "liberating" Iraq.... The sickening details were kept secret, by journalists as well as the U.S. military, until the photos began to circulate independently of both. When CBS finally stopped sitting on this story, they spun it so that it was framed in terms of an apologia."

"Two competing narratives about the American occupiers are now vying for attention. One the one hand, we have Pat Tillman, the football hero who enlisted shortly after 9/11, with his square clean visage, almost a caricature of idealized American manhood, a selfless martyr who gave his all for a righteous cause. And on the other hand we have the grinning leering perverts of Abu Ghraib. Which is the real face of the American occupiers: John Wayne in "Flying Leathernecks" or John Holmes in "Freaky Leatherboys"?"

""'Military intelligence has encouraged and told us 'Great job.' They usually don't allow others to watch them interrogate. But since they like the way I run the prison, they have made an exception. We help getting them to talk with the way we handle them. ... We've had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours.'""

"We went in to "liberate" the people of Iraq, and wound up torturing them. If supporters of this disastrous war have some kind of explanation for that, I'd love to hear it. Meanwhile, a note to the "mainstream" media: let's start interviewing the victims, rather than the perpetrators, of these heinous acts, to get some idea of what really happened. It is also necessary to start naming names. Unless we want to encourage more such incidents in the future, public shaming can act as a deterrent."